daydreamerexpress: Yin & Yang (two fish in a bowl)
[personal profile] daydreamerexpress
"Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks."

~ Samuel Johnson

His breathing has changed.

It's subtle, but she can tell over the comm that it's a little faster than before, has a hint of... panic? Not Levi, surely? The rules are clear: no one gets hurt. That doesn't mean she can't make him sweat.

"Are you still with me, Levi?" she asks sweetly.

"Yeah. I'm just thinking."

"'Truth or Dare'? Not a lot to think about, right?"

"Right. Uh, truth?"

Charlotte doesn't laugh, although the temptation is there. Her eyes lose their focus as she pictures him sitting in the car, basically trapped because of the mission, following through with the game because to call it off now would weaken his position. She wonders if he's fiddling with his PAL, a delay tactic she's noticed a few times. Wonders if he's licking his lips while his mind weighs his response.

Wonders if he tastes like coffee.

"Is that a question or a choice?"

"A choice," he says decisively. "Truth."

Figures he wouldn't go for a dare. She could have made him sing, too, but that wouldn't be very original.

It suddenly occurs to her that she has no idea if he can sing.


"You aren't going to ask about my socks now, are you?"

She raises an eyebrow. Guess I surprised him with the underwear question…

"Nooo," she says languidly, wondering if the question she has in mind will be considered taboo -- or the opening of a door they had assumed was locked. "I know you're wearing black socks. Not the kinda information I need."


She gazes up at the clear night sky and searches for constellations she remembers from another life, when she was five and ignorant of her father's plans. "I have something different for you." She can imagine his face, a combination of trepidation and trying to appear cool. A small smile curves her lips. He looks so cute when he's anxious…

Charlotte lies back on the roof, red hair bright against the roofing, stretches her arms over her head and lets the darkness take her.

"Do you ever dream of me?"

There. It's out. A fantasy question that has no place in her life other than this moment; an opportunity to ask something so inherently against her better judgment. She is well aware that curiosity killed the cat.

Silence. She occupies her time finding Polaris and Orion and wonders if he'll answer.


His voice is so quiet that she probably wouldn't have heard him if the ear buds weren't the latest technology and she didn't have her designed advantage. She knows he is telling the truth, because that was the agreement, and Levi has always followed through once something has been agreed upon. She finds that she automatically asks for confirmation, anyway.


Who is speaking? It can't be her. This voice sounds so… vulnerable.


She swallows. Technically, that was two questions, but he let her have them. He said 'yes'. Twice. He didn't change his mind, didn't add a proviso or turn it into a laugh followed by "Just kidding!"

What does she do now? Can she ask him about his dreams? Or will that be pushing the limits of whatever rules they are establishing?

"Oh," she manages, sounding small, uncertain. She hates that.

He clears his throat. "My turn," he says, gentle, sincere, as if he knows she's opened herself to him and needs his voice to protect her, cover her like a blanket. Something has changed, so subtle only they might know the difference. "'Truth or Dare', Ms. Showalter?"

They've done it. They've crossed the line in the sand, but he isn't going to make it easy. He'll need to be coaxed. She sighs. She can handle that.


The air drifting up from the disused vent smells of dust and mould. She ignores it and the rhythm of the vent and focusses on the man at the other end of her wireless connection with Fate.

He must have anticipated her choice because there's no hesitation on his part.

"If we weren't assigned as partners, would you still be interested in working with me?"

Ah. A professional question. Charlotte didn't expect Levi to ask if she dreams of him, but this is certainly less personal.

She doesn't fool herself into thinking she's the best operative the Underground could hire, nor is she the best thief that the Wire has on his or her speed dial. But the calls consistently happen and in the last year or so, her pairing with Levi has increased. They make a good team, apparently. She doesn't turn down a job if she can avoid it. Money is always her friend and besides, she gets to live a little with some interesting people.

Like Levi.

Work has become an excuse for spending time with one another. They both know that and don't discuss it.

Levi has issues; this isn't news. Charlotte doesn't know what they are, specifically, other than a few obvious ones. She decides that his question is completely natural for a man who needs reassurance that someone likes working with him, whether he offers to pay for a meal after the job or not. Whether or not he jokes with her in a friendly manner or plays the strict soldier for the entire mission.

Whether or not he wishes they were more.


She knows she can count on him to watch her back -- or her 'six', as he would call it. It's their 'quid pro quo' agreement; their approach to getting through the day. When on a job, they have one another covered.

What is their relationship, anyway? The fight for the underdog, for freedom and the thrill were the lure, but it's become something else. A symbiosis. A need.

Perhaps it's a reason for Levi to get up in the morning and face his demons head-on when he'd probably rather go back to sleep.

Perhaps it's a reason she still works as a waitress and puts up with an irritating boss and pretends to have a life like everybody else.

There is a goal for both of them, taunting them like daylight at the end of the tunnel: he dispenses Justice as self-proclaimed protector of those who can't defend themselves and she comes closer to reconnecting with the world, making friends, finding hope, staying under the radar of Le Ministère des Préoccupations.

They aren't alone in their layers of personal exile.

"Good," he says quietly, sounding satisfied with her simple answer as he shifts in his seat again. Apparently, he feels he can't leave it there. "Is it because of --"

"Hey! One question at a time. Those are the rules."

He clears his throat. "Right."

Quid pro quo. She smiles.

Levi thrives on catching the bad guy and she gets to fly. It's win-win, what they have, whetever it's called.

"I'm wait-ing," he says, letting his voice tease a little.

Charlotte is brought back to the question she just answered, and to the realization that it's her turn to ask him again. She knows there are other reasons she frequently works with Levi, including requesting of the Wire that he be her partner. She trusts him. She even likes him. And he has a really nice ass. That's feeding a different sort of hunger.

She'll think about that later.

"'Truth or Dare'?"


"Are you ever going to say 'dare'?"

"Is that your question?"


Levi laughs. She wishes, once again, that the distance between them didn't exist.

"My question is… When you dream of me, what am I doing in the dream?"

He hesitates. Charlotte abruptly stops looking for the constellations and hopes she won't regret asking. What if it's horrible? What if he dreams of her killing people? He's seen her fight and he knows of what she is capable. Blood in the rain. Death.


Is it possible for someone to forget how to breathe? She thought that was just fiction.

"You're wearing a green dress," he continues, as if saying it out loud will jog her memory. "And you ask me to dance." He stops and she can sense he's struggling with something, perhaps the ability to vocalize such a personal moment to anyone -- including himself. The last three words are spoken barely above a whisper. "And we do."

She listens to his voice and revels in the sound. Her heart rate is up again. He dreams of dancing with her. Levi, Soldier-Boy, ex-Army, occasional judge, jury and executioner.


Charlotte shivers and closes her eyes. She can almost feel his arms around her as she lies here in the dark and his words swallow her, like a fine merlot.

"Ms. Showalter?"

She bites her bottom lip. Two years of increasingly frequent assignments and he still addresses her so formally. "Please, call me 'Charlotte' --"

The closing of a door shatters the moment.

I've been distracted by a game, she thinks, irritated and embarrassed that she let her guard down when she is supposed to be working. No one gave her permission to dream. She tenses briefly then with a roll and a flip she's standing on two feet again and approaching the edge of the roof.

The man is obviously in a hurry. She arrives in time to see the sleeve of his denim jacket pull the door closed on the driver's side of the Honda Civic. He tries to start the engine and it catches on the third attempt. She does her best to check the front door of the building, despite her awkward angle -- no fear of heights, this one -- but can't tell for certain if the padlock has been snapped shut. No matter. She's all set for entering through the door on the roof, anyway. After two attempts at finding first gear, the driver opts for second and lurches down the street, car reving in protest, not slowing down to take the corner.

"Coming your way."

"Understood." A muffled sound tells her he's ducked onto the passenger seat with more grace this time. The Honda roars into the night, coughing like an old man who shouldn't smoke, but does anyway, and disappears. Levi sighs. "Wish we didn't have to let him go."

"We'll get him later," Charlotte assures him, pulling out the kit from a pouch on her right hip and opening it enough to select the pick she chosen earlier. She reaches the door on the roof in a few swift steps. "Nobody escapes the Wire."

He chuckles and arranges himself in his seat again. "I wish that was the case."

The lock is easy. She probably could have kicked it open -– who will care? –- but this is less obvious. No one has to know she was ever here. In. Out. The caseload on the cops might be light this week and some poor rookie would be stuck investigating a break-in on a deserted building. It could happen.

"I'm in," she says, and steps onto the small landing at the top of a steep flight of stairs. It isn't designed for daily use so function has overruled form. She pulls the door shut behind her and listens for any movement, even though they determined the day before that there weren't any squatters in this building. Levi wondered why it was empty, as it seems to be in good shape, but it doesn't matter.

She cocks her head to one side, holds very still. Nothing. Her eyes adjust for the complete lack of light and she begins her descent.

"Well," he says and clears his throat again. "I guess it's my turn."

Charlotte smiles, her hand lightly running along the metal rail that's bolted to the wall. Who knew he'd enjoy the game?

After the last round, she isn't sure if she's thrilled or terrified.

"'Truth or Dare', Charlotte?"


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Daydreamer Express

February 2016

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