She clambered and thrashed as much as she could before he lifted her feet off the ground. One hand grabbing his shoulder, trying to push him away the other hand slowly and unknowingly she pulled a tiny dagger hidden under her belt, before gently pressing it on to his vertebral artery. Her eyes never left him. Niccolo slowly placed her back on the floor before releasing her

"Once a spy, always a spy"

"Last time I met you in private, I got sliced. I don't make the same mistake twice" she told him her voice raspy

"It wasn't that bad"

"I still have stitches"

"I'm sure your ex will help you with that"

"As Gen would for you. Oh, wait" she smirked "She can't"

"Did you do it?"

"I was in Italy. You know that"

"It was Mayrbek, Neve. We all know it was. Did you put a hit on her?"

"I think you are confusing my lifestyle, for yours. I don't put hits out on people and she was the one that was sleeping with him. Maybe you got her killed, didn't you ever think of that, hmm?"

"Do they teach you this in spy school? Talking people in circles?"

"Yep" she answered "And I didn't ask him to do that but he didn't like seeing me hurt, the way I am, either"

"You have us all on a string, don't you?"

She sometimes wondered if she did, though she didn't understand why.

She didn't do anything special, she wasn't seductive by any means but Gennadi was dead because of Neve and she wasn't even sorry about it.

Niccolo watched her take a deep breath before he closed the space between them. He grabbed her wrists and pinned her to the door and her hips with his.

"Gen, understood a part of me that you never did. She was the only one that did and you took that away from me" he hissed quietly in her ear before she turned her face "So now I am going to take that from you. I'm taking them all from you"

"Don't you think your dance card is a little full? Wouldn't want to take your eyes off the prize"

"Oh, you think that this is a full dance card. You really don't know me"

"That I know"

Just as Niccolo was off guard, smug and proud, she pushed him off her

He went to grab her again quickly but her pushed herself back and held the dagger out in front of her. Niccolo moved back with a smile on his face. Then he surprised her and laughed

"Don't you find it strange that you choose a knife as your weapon of choice?" he asked softly "Given everything that he did to you. You should have nightmares about blades. Everybody else around you is more scarred by that day then you are. Maybe you need to figure that out, Neve. Maybe you liked him treating you that way. You clearly like a shade of that, in your men. Vince, me"

"I didn't know any of this about you then"

He quickly grabbed both of her arms, wrapping them around her own body and stood closely behind her so she was trapped

"Didn't you?"

"You worked very hard to keep it from me"

"Hmm, if that helps you sleep at night but you know I'm right. You're in love with him, Neve. You're mark. You're target. A killer. Is it any wonder you weren't a spy for long. I don't know how but this. Her death, is on your hands"

"I'll sleep just fine. Trust me Darlin' "

"But in who's bed?"

He let her go quickly, so quickly she gasped Niccolo opened the door and walked out of the apartment, leaving her to catch her breath slowly and gently find a spot on the floor. Suddenly it felt like her throat was on fire.

#

Brandt opened the door to his apartment. It was the only other place he could think of to go, the only place he could think of that she could be. He didn't want to think logically, knowing that this was her city and really, he knew nothing about her life in London, not really.

The truth was, he had no clue where to start but here was as good a place as any.

He struck gold

He opened that door and smelt food from the kitchen and felt the heat from the fireplace. Hopefully he had found her or someone else was living in his house. Will didn't say anything before making his way into the kitchen

Without missing a beat, she knew he was there without even turning around.

"Hey" she said quietly. She are standing next to the stove top chopping vegetables "Food should be ready soon, if you're hungry"

Her voice sounded strange

"Long time since I've had a home cooked meal" he said crossing the floor "Where did you go?"

"I told you. I was giving you guys some space"

"That was hours ago"

"I fell asleep"

He lent up against the edge of the bench and watched her with his arms across his chest. She looked like she hadn't slept in days

"No you didn't" Neve didn't say anything. She just kept on cooking as if he wasn't talking "Neve, talk to me"

"What do you want me to say?"

She even seem tired, no not tired. She looked sad. That was rare for Neve. Angry, yes. Silly, sometimes but sad. He could count on one hand how many times he had seen that.

It was the blonde bombshells death that's had done this

Something was going on.

Brandt started to look around, as if he was going to find clues in the kitchen. It was with her that he found them.

With the fireplace and the oven going the place, although not a furnace but it was hot and she was wearing a pashmina wrapped tightly around her neck.

"Come here for a second"

"I can't"

She didn't moved but he unwrapped the scarf anyway. There as clear as day, was a red hand print. Brandt looked at her.

"Who did this?" she didn't answer "Who'd you go see, Neve? Huh?"

He shook his head as he moved around her and over to the freezer, grabbing an icepack, wrapped it in a towel and gently placed it on the side over her neck, before she hissed in pain.

"Look at me. Listen to me" he told her and didn't speak again until she did "I love you but I can't help you, until you let me"

"Will"

"I know you're tough. I know you can handle more than any woman I have ever met but you are not stronger by yourself, or on your own. Mayrbek or Niccolo, tell me? "

"Niccolo" she whispered "He loved her. He really loved her"

"Yeah well, that doesn't mean that he didn't love you either"

"Don't pacify me"

"I'm not, Angel"

He switched the stove off and sat her up on the bench. Brandt checked her throat and neck to see if there was any serious damage and there didn't seem to be. Although it did look painful.

"How did you get him off you?" she pulled the dragger out of her belt and he smiled proudly and slightly impressed. It was small enough to fit comfortably between her fingers "Impressive"

"Maybe you shouldn't be"

"What, be impressed?"

"Love me"

He pulled back and looked at her frowning, trying to read her with no luck, which was really quite annoying.

"What's brought this on? Niccolo?"

"He's not wrong is he? You, Vince, him. I do have all of you on a string"

"You have no taste in men. Nothing you can do about that. You make the best out of a bad situation. You always have"

"Or do I just go looking for them?"

Brandt moved the ice pack and held her face in his hands, while they were cold, it was still comforting. Strong, secure, she felt safe if only for a spilt second. She closed her eyes and savoured it

"Don't let him in your head"

"Too late" she told him, her voice breaking.

"Then don't let him win. Don't let him under your skin. Don't think of him as a person. He is a thing, you need to get rid of. Understand?"

She looked away and didn't say anything. He placed the icepack back on the curve of her neck. She shivered and not from the cold.

Neve pressed her lips together, she was barely holding it together.

"I didn't mean for her to…"

"That was not you. That was Mayrbek. That's who he is, Angel. Its just becoming clear to you now. That's all"

"I got her killed" she sobbed. He quickly grabbed her and wrapped her up tight. She didn't let go nor did Neve want too. It was the first time he had seen her cry in a long time and he wasn't sure if the operating table, in unbearable pain actually counted. She took a few deep breathes trying to calm herself.

"I think I need to tracking device on you" he joked before she actually laughed through her tears and didn't move her head from his shoulder

#

Later that night they were sitting on the sofa, watching the fire, not really saying much to one another. Then again they had never really needed words. Her mind was much too full for new conversations, new subjects. Old concerns however were ever flowing

"I feel like I am holding you guys down"

"You're not"

"I haven't been much of a help through"

"I mean, you disappearing. No, I'm not a fan of that but what you have to understand in situations like this. They don't take a few days. It takes weeks and you only worked one case, we were there for months, weren't we?"

"Yes, this but has a ticking clock"

"It's going to be fine"

"I think he is going to come after you. I mean you and the team, but you. He said would"

"He's just trying to scare you,Nevie. He's wounded and we're getting to him. He's trying to make himself feel bigger, better"

"Yeah and what lengths will he go, Will"

"If it comes to that. I welcome it"

"That's just what I need. The contest of the egos"

"He has cut you and tried to choke you out. This has nothing to do with ego"

"Not to mention he has been fucking me for years"

Brandt's shoulders straighten, as she smirked at him, he bore hole into her with his eyes.

"Nevertheless. We'll be ready for whatever he throws at us"

She chuckled bitterly. Neve didn't quite believe him but she knew that she should.

"Brandt"

"Is there any reason for him to be in Scotland? There is a compound there that has been nonstop with deliveries and cargo. The name on the deed is one of his alias"

"He has a uncle that works for the Scottish embassy on his mother's side, by marriage, ugh" the name was on the tip of her tongue. Brandt tried not to chuckle as she looked cute racking her brain "Cameron Muir. They are not married any more though"

"Were they married when Niccolo's mother died"

"I think he lived with them brief straight after, actually" she told him nodding her head "Possible target?"

"Worth looking into"

"Okay" she sighed "How about we heat this food and take it back to the guys. Who knows how long it's been since they have actually had a meal"

"Why aren't you like this all the time?"

"What?" she asked laughing and untangling herself from him "Complacent? Trusting? Easier to deal with?"

"No, like the girl" he stopped without finishing

"Like the girl, you used to know"

"Sorry" he said softly

"Don't be. It's true. I'm not her anymore but she's in here somewhere, only a little battered and bruised. A bit heartbroken and scared but I'm not that far from her, if I tell the truth"

"Neve"

"Will, it's okay. Let's get going so we can catch his guy before he does any more damage, okay?"

She stood up and held her hands out for his, before pulling him up from the sofa. He followed closely behind her as she headed back into the kitchen

It was strange how quickly you could fall into step with someone after so many years apart.

If the connection was already there and it was really, it seemed like nothing could break that. They worked around each other in the kitchen. Not having to say a word if they didn't want too. Of course it also helped that they were sniping at each other every five seconds.