The red digital numbers silently declared the hour: 1:00AM. Operations reached across his lovely bed partner to tap the ash off his cigarette. He decided this was as good a time as any to broach the subject with her, although he doubted she would agree.
There was a smile of cat-like contentment on the auburn-haired beauty’s face, as she looked at him and said, “What is it? I know you want to say something. It’s been on your mind all evening. So just say it. It’s about Michael, isn’t it?” It was chilly in the air-conditioned room, and she pulled the sheet over her breasts for warmth and self-protection as well
Operations sighed. “Madeline, you are psychic, and you absolutely give me the creeps when you do that. Yes, it’s about Michael. I --”
“You want to know how long this phase of his training is going to take. Well, I can’t tell you that.” Madeline smiled her infuriating smile and arranged the bed clothing neatly over her nude body.
She was using techniques on him that she used on the operatives in her care, and he hated that too. “Well, you seem to know everything else. Why ‘can’t’ you tell me how long it’s going to take with him?”
Madeline laughed and said, “I’m not psychic. It’s ‘you’ I know so well. You and I been together for several years. I know how ‘you’ think, but Michael is still a raw operative as far what he needs to learn from me. I have to have time to get to know his strengths and weaknesses. Oh, physically and mentally he’s as superior a specimen as I’ve seen come through Section, but emotionally he’s still fragile and vulnerable. That’s what has to be eliminated if he is to perform to your expectations.”
“Are you sure that’s all it is, Madeline? He looks at you like you
are a goddess. He can hardly enunciate when you’re in the room.”
He hated it when he sounded jealous, but relationships were difficult in
or out of Section, and he didn’t want to lose her. She was a partner
in this undertaking, almost his equal in actual power, more that his equal
“He’ll get over that . I’ll see to it personally, but you’ll just have to put up with it for a while longer. It doesn’t affect how I feel about you.” Madeline smiled as she reached over to kiss him and stroke him into passion again.
“You know better than to get involved with the material, Madeline.” In the dim candle light of the bedroom, his gray-blue eyes bore into her brown ones, but he knew he was losing the battle as his body responded to her caresses.
“Of course, and so did you.”
Operations continued to keep a special watch over Michael, for his potential appeared to be unlimited. Michael had four months to go before a final decision would be made about his disposition. Michael still had emotional outbursts and appeared to be totally besotted with Madeline. Operations trusted Madeline to bring Michael into line, but he admitted to himself that he was ambivalent about her methods.
Operations knew that Madeline had never invested this amount of time in any other operative. Indeed, she seemed to be treating Michael as if he were a special case, which in reality, Michael was. He was very much a loner and compulsive about the physical aspects of his training. He spent more time in the gym and on the weapons range than any other new recruit. He excelled in the martial arts. His judgment in the holographic simms was impeccable.
Operations saw that Michael’s one flaw was his emotionality. Operations could not see that Madeline had made any headway in that area, and he frequently took her to task about it. Talk about Michael invaded their most private moments, and Operations wished she would hurry. Michael was getting on his worst nerve with his stammering and wide expressive eyes.
Madeline and Operations lay naked in her condominium bedroom. She continued to soothe him with caresses and reassurances. “Be patient. I have four months remaining to give you what you want, and I will not fail. The slower I take this, the greater the coup de grace will be when it comes. It will need to be a near fatal blow to his ego in order to shatter him completely. He will bind up his emotional wounds, and the scar tissue that will develop will give you the Michael you desire.
“Exactly what do you plan to do to him Madeline?,” he asked peevishly.
Madeline gave him her cryptic smile and asked, “Do you want me to file a mission profile? Do you want a timetable? All I can tell you for certain is that he will be ready at the end of his two years. Rearranging Michael’s psyche is a delicate process, and I take it one day at a time. Now would you like me to rearrange ‘your’ psyche?”
He managed to say, “You already did that four years ago. Rearrange away.”
Madeline began nibbling at his lips and throat. A deep moan rose from his throat as her breasts swayed and bobbed over his chest. His hands cupped them as he raised his head so that he could use his mouth to tease the nipples into twin peaks. Madeline then straddled him and guided him where he was breathless to be.
As he sank into her warmth, he quickly flipped her over so that she was on the bottom as he stroked and ultimately pounded Madeline to her orgasm. At least in this position, he could ‘feel’ like he was the boss.
Operations and Madeline were having breakfast. As they sat on opposite sides of the table, they discussed the outcome of the previous day’s mission. Operations could see that Madeline had something on her mind. He assumed it was Michael. How he was beginning to hate the very sound of the name. If Section hadn’t such need of Michael’s gifts and abilities, Operations would have considered canceling him. He had often wished he had let Michael rot in prison for the rest of his life. Now, however, the investment of resources had been too great. He was already too valuable to cancel on the whim of a jealous man. Operations remembered the big picture, and Michael had a place there.
When Madeline wasn’t talking about Michael, she would sit with a bemused look on her face. Her lack of attention to ‘their’ relationship was annoying to say the least.
Madeline caught his annoyed look and said, “I know this is difficult for you, but it has to be done. You have to think of the big picture. You can’t let jealousy play a part in your decisions. I will only let Michael make love to me once. It’s a necessary part of his training. It’s part of my profile to crush his emotions and give you the operative we both know Michael can be.”
“Allowing him to make love to you is only going to make him worse, Madeline. What do you hope to accomplish by doing this?” he protested.
“Well, the experience will be all he’s dreamed of for the past four months, but after he sees the video, and I go over his performance with suggestions for improvement, I don’t think he’ll be any too anxious to ever touch me again.”
“You’re going to tape and critique his making love to you?” The woman was a fiend, he thought. Heartless. And it would probably work.
“Yes. I thought it would be the most effective way to dampen his ardor toward me. I admit I have been teasing him along--accidental touches, blowing hot and cold, that sort of thing. Of course, the topic of our sessions, the seduction of women, is one which arouses most men. Actually he’s in quite a frenzy to be with me,” she sighed and smiled.
“And you are just doing ‘whatever it takes?’ You’re a truly dedicated operative, Madeline. Are you sure you haven’t become too attached to him. Are you going to be able to crush his emotions when this is over?” Operations had his doubts. She seemed to be enjoying this situation a little too much.
“Of course. Then Michael can be the operative we both know he is meant to be. Then you and I will be able spend more time together without the shadow of Michael between us.” She gave him what was meant to be a reassuring smile, but something about her smile make the hair rise on his neck.
“I don’t know about that, Madeline. I think Michael will always be
Operations regretted the words as soon as they were uttered. He looked at Madeline as she sat across from him. Madeline’s gaze and expression faltered momentarily. She pressed her napkin to her mouth, refolded it and placed it on the table.
She stood and gave him a level gaze with her dark brown eyes and said, “As you wish.” She turned and walked away.
Operations read Jurgen’s evaluation on Michael. In one month Operations would decide whether or not to cancel him. Jurgen’s report gave Michael high marks in every category. This was in contrast to the report from last month. Last month, Jurgen reported that Michael still lacked discipline and was too emotional in his responses to personal interactions. Now Jurgen reported that almost overnight Michael had become closed and emotionless. Jurgen recommended closer observation for the remaining month of Michael’s training, and if he did not deviate from this state, that he should be granted provisional operative status.
Operations had not needed to read Jurgen’s report to confirm what he had already seen for himself. Michael had mastered the ‘blank stare.’ He no longer followed Madeline like a puppy. Michael appeared to avoid her whenever possible. When not possible, Michael was control personified, for he had control of his body language and his emotions and those expressive, changeable eyes.
True to her word, Madeline had handed Michael to him on the proverbial silver platter, and the result filled Operations with awe and a degree of apprehension. Operations did not usually interact with the material before the final decision was made, but Michael was special. Having Michael brought to his office now acknowledged that.
As Michael walked into Operations office,. he was calm and graceful. Operation’s eye was caught by Michael’s innate elegance which had been refined and polished during his training. He could tell that Michael also understood that his being in the office aerie was a sign of special favor.
“You wanted to see me?” Michael stood quietly with his hands folded in front of him as he waited for Operations to speak.
“Yes, Michael. That ‘is’ your name, isn’t it?” asked Operations, who knew only too well what his name was. Operations paced while Michael stood perfectly still, but followed him with his gray-green eyes.
“Yes,” Michael responded in his soft, accented voice.
“I wanted to meet you and let you know that if you continue as you have for the last few weeks, that you will be given provisional operative status when your two years are completed.” Operations watched for Michael’s response. There was none. Michael did not blink nor sigh with relief. Michael had perfected the blank stare and used it to Operation’s grim amusement.
“That will be all, Michael. You’ve done well.”
Michael turned to leave, but turned his head and said with a somewhat ironic inflection, “Thank you.”
Operations and Madeline met at breakfast to discuss Michael’s status. Jurgen had already recommended approval. Operations wanted to know what Madeline had to say now. Operations sipped his coffee and blew smoke from the cigarette into the air. “Well, what about Michael, Madeline? Do you recommend cancellation or approval for provisional status.”
“Provisional status, of course.” Madeline’s words were terse as they had been for two months. “He’s been very self-controlled for the last two months. I think I have accomplished my assignment. He should do well here.” Madeline looked down at her plate of fresh fruit.
Operations wanted to rectify the situation between them. He missed their more intimate moments. After their disagreement, Madeline had refused his next two invitations to ‘dinner,’ and he had stopped making them. “You did an excellent job with Michael, and I know I was a little harsh during that time.”
“No, you were correct. If you aren’t able to keep your personal feelings separate from what we do here, then we shouldn’t see each other. Don’t give it another thought. I won’t.”
“Madeline,” Operations said softly as he attempted to cover her hand with his, but she jerked her hand away.
“I don’t need to be comforted or patronized. I took a beautiful young man and turned him into the perfect operative for you. ‘Whatever it takes, Madeline,’ I believe I heard you to say. So I ‘did’ whatever it took, and it took making love to that young man and crushing his heart. I did it for you, not Section One. I forgot the big picture, but I won’t again. Excuse me, I don’t have much of an appetite this morning.”
Operations watched Madeline’s eyes as they grew suspiciously shiny. Madeline walked away with her head held high, and Operations knew it would be a long time before they shared breakfast again. He sighed. He had traded Madeline’s affections for Michael’s as yet unproven potential. He would probably regret it every day.