It primarily features Darrell Rivers and Anatoly Petrov, who as a couple we call Dartoly. It also has a cameo from Bill Smugs, due to a recent request.
If you need a little help picturing these two I’ve included a picture of roughly how we see them. We use Michelle Dockery as inspiration for Darrell and Anton Yelchin for Anatoly.
Anyway, on with the story!
“Yes, sir,” Anatoly said into the small telephone receiver which was attached to his powerful wireless, issued to him by the SIS. He listened for several minutes, one eye on his watch. He knew he shouldn’t interrupt his boss, Bill Cunningham, when he was talking, but if he didn’t leave soon he would be late for his date with Darrell.
“Do you have somewhere else to be?” Bill asked him shortly after. He must have read the impatience in his replies.
“Well, yes, as a matter of fact,” Anatoly said, wondering how much to give away.
“I don’t have you down for anything this evening”, Bill said, and Anatoly could hear him shuffling papers.
“It is not work, sir. It is personal.”
“Oh. I see,” Bill said. Then there was a pause. “You’re meeting your new friends, then? Or… dare I ask-”
“You dare not,” Anatoly responded quickly, wishing he had never confided in Bill about Darrell.
“You have a date, then.” The grin was evident in Bill’s voice, even over the wireless.
“Petrov? Are you still there?”
“I am here, sir.”
“I expect a full briefing when I call you tomorrow.”
“I respectfully decline, sir.” Thankfully Bill wasn’t just his boss. He had been the one to bring Anatoly into the SIS, and had become a mentor and somewhat of a friend, too. He therefore got away with a lot more cheek than other agents.
“Do you want to be removed from St Andrews, Petrov? No, I thought not. Same time tomorrow. Smugs over and out.” The connection went dead. Anatoly glared at the receiver, banged it down, grabbed his suit jacket and then dashed from his room, pausing only long enough to lock it securely.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Darrell nervously pushed a hair pin into her dark hair and bit her lip. She leant forward over the chest of drawers and pulled her mascara out from the bag. Using as little as she could of the precious cosmetic, she applied it to the ends of her lashes.
Sally watched Darrell from her bed, where she was propped up, reading a book for her class and smiled at her friend.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Sally asked Darrell. “I mean he is four years older than you. I will admit that he is a bit of all right when it comes down to it, but I didn’t realise you were so interested in him.”
“Just because I haven’t verbalised anything, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t interested,” Darrell said, turning around, hands on her hips, making her best skirt swing out in a circle.
Darrell smiled impishly at Sally. “Anyway, I like him, he’s really come out of his shell since the papers business, and I obviously can’t trust my gossip thrills to you,” she teased her friend.
Sally looked momentarily confused.
“You and Julian?” Darrell prompted.
“Gosh Darrell, how many more times?” Sally asked, closing her book and getting up off her bed. “There is nothing between me and Julian. Just air.”
“Well a lot can happen between two loads of air,” Darrell said meaningfully, as Sally reached inside her own make-up bag and pulled out a lipstick in a rather daring shade of red. She handed it to Darrell and smiled.
“Julian and I are just good friends,” Sally repeated stubbornly.
Darrell turned her back on Sally to put the lipstick on, trying not to smile. She had seen the way Julian and Sally were around each other and however much both of them protested against it, there was certainly something going on with the two of them.
“Do you think I’m too dressed up for a first date?” Darrell asked, stepping back and looking at Sally.
“No, Darrell. You look just right, not too fussy but very pretty,” Sally said honestly, sitting back down on her bed and picking up her book again. “Anatoly is very lucky.”
“I hope he thinks so,” Darrell said, biting her lip again.
She was wearing her newest skirt in a bold bright blue with white polka dots on it. She had teamed it with a white shirt and black belt that clinched in around her waist.
Sally smiled to herself, and hoped that Anatoly would treat Darrell well. They were just beginning to get to know him really, after everything that term. However he seemed much nicer now.
Darrell was pulling on a white cardigan when there was a knock at the door.
“Darrell!” called their academic ‘mother’, Laura. “There’s a rather brooding young fellow downstairs asking for you.”
“Thank you Laura,” Darrell said, opening the door. She smiled at the senior who raised an eyebrow at Sally.
Laura lent against the door frame as Darrell picked up her bag and keys.
“Just you be careful now,” Laura said as Darrell hurried out of the door. “He’s handsome but he is still a man.”
“I will be, Laura,” Darrell said over her shoulder as she hot-footed downstairs. She smiled to herself thinking just how safe she was actually going to be.
“Is she all right?” Laura asked Sally, who had gotten up to watch Darrell sprint off.
“Just keen,” Sally grinned. “She’ll be fine, Laura.”
“Is that chap a friend of yours?”
“Yes actually. Anatoly is really nice chap.”
“Anatoly? So he’s not from around here then?”
“No,” said Sally, carefully wondering how to field any of the questions that Laura may ask, and whether she ought to have used his real name. He went by Anthony, normally.
“In that case, I wish I’d given her some pepper spray, just in case. You young girls seem so naive sometimes, and especially considering that he’s not from around here… well I should hate to see anything happen to Darrell.”
Sally wasn’t sure whether to be shocked on Darrell’s behalf or agree with Laura for ease of not having an argument.
“I can assure you that Anatoly is a perfect gentleman,” Sally managed to say. “He’ll look after her.”
“Hmm,” said Laura darkly. Then she smiled suddenly.
“Anyone special on the horizon for you, Sally?”
“No, Laura,” Sally said, evenly, though her heart cowered inside her chest. “No-one.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Darrell hurried down the stairs and out of the front door of University Halls, almost flattening Alicia and Betty who were on their way back from some event.
“Steady Darrell, where’s the fire?” Alicia asked, steadying her.
“Sorry Alicia, I didn’t see you,” Darrell laughed.
Alicia looked carefully at her friend and noted the sparkle in her eyes. She smiled knowingly.
“Someone’s got a date,” Alicia said slyly.
“Who is it, Darrell?” Betty asked.
Darrell stalled a little. She wasn’t sure whether to say Anatoly’s real name or the assumed name he had been using while he had been tracing the missing scientific papers.
“Good evening, ladies,” said an accented voice behind her.
Immediately, Darrell knew it was Anatoly. She turned with a radiant smile on her face, tinged with nervousness.
“Good evening, Miss Rivers,” he added formally. Darrell had to check a giggle.
“Are you Darrell’s company for this evening?” Betty asked before Alicia could say anything.
“I have that honour, Miss…?” Anatoly said, bowing his head.
“Hill. Betty Hill,” Betty said. “And this is Alicia Johns. We went to school with Darrell. And you are?
“Anthony Pilkington, Miss Hill and of course,” Anatoly said with a smile. “She has spoken of you, both of you. However, I must ask you to permit me to… steal, Miss Rivers away from you as we have dinner reservations.”
“Of course,” Alicia managed to say.
“Have a lovely evening, Darrell,” Betty said, smiling at them, although Darrell noticed that there was something a little strange about Betty’s smile. It was strained, and Alicia looked like she had lost her tongue for the first time in her life.
As Betty steered Alicia back towards the door, Darrell and Anatoly both heard Alicia say;
“She’s going out with that queer Russian chap? I don’t like it, Betty.”
“Sh!” they both heard Betty say before they disappeared inside the halls.
Darrell felt her cheeks turning bright red, and she wanted to cry. Anatoly was looking a little worried.
“If you have changed your mind about going out with me, I completely understand,” Anatoly said after a moment.
He reached out tentatively and took her hand in his. “I do not want you to get abuse for being close to me.”
Darrell lifted her head defiantly, taking strength from the warmth of his hand around hers. She shook her hair out of her face and managed to smile proudly at him.
“I don’t care,” she told him. “I think we should give this a chance, work it out for ourselves. I’ve never been one to care much about what other people think, Anatoly, and I don’t see why I should start now.”
Anatoly beamed at her, and lifted her hand to his lips to kiss it.
Darrell couldn’t help but stare as she felt his soft lips brush against her skin. She felt her hair stand up on end as he kissed her hand and couldn’t take her eyes off his face.
When Anatoly looked up and his eyes met Darrell’s, he felt his stomach drop in surprise. Here was a woman who didn’t want to just sleep with him, use him and get rid of him; she wanted to get to know him. Darrell Rivers was already more invested in this date than he had noticed and he was sure she knew.
Anatoly could felt his heart thump awkwardly against his chest and from that moment, knew that everything he had worked so hard for in those last four years was going to change. He hadn’t realised but he had been watching Darrell across campus when he had been supposed to be tailing Julian, or Thomas Ainsworth. Anatoly realised that he was certainly in deeper than he had intended to be and they hadn’t even had their first date yet.
“You are certainly one of kind,” Anatoly managed to tell her as they broke eye contact.
“Thank you,” Darrell said, feeling shy all of a sudden.
Anatoly held her hand as he began to walk with her to the restaurant he had chosen to take her to. “You look very beautiful,” he said after a moment’s silence.
“Thank you,” Darrell said. “I must admit I was worried it would be too much.”
“I do not think it is,” Anatoly said, with a small smile that made Darrell’s heart flutter.
They both walked along in silence for a while after that, wondering quite how they were going to make things work.
When they were around the others, they were easy and carefree, with quite a high level of flirting going on. So much so that it had even become part of David’s regular teasing. Then yesterday, Anatoly found himself alone with Darrell in the library. He had cleared his throat awkwardly and before he could ask her out on a date, Darrell- blushing furiously- had asked him if he thought there would be a chance they might be able to try going out. On their own.
Anatoly had jumped at the chance, and her smile had been worth the worry about asking her. He had never really felt nervous before, and all this was new to him. So new in fact that he had dared to ask Julian and David what people actually did on dates.
After millions of suggestions, Anatoly decided he should make a little bit of a show for Darrell. He had picked the best restaurant in town, and booked a table, carefully drawing out some of his wages for that evening. He had planned to make sure that Darrell had a wonderful time. He wasn’t sure that he could keep the relationship going as he was always in danger and he should hate for Darrell to get caught up in his secret service life and get hurt.
But for now, he would treat her how he was feeling she needed to be treated.
Darrell let Anatoly lead her to the restaurant, surprised that he had picked the most exclusive place in town. She pulled a little on his hand, looking worried.
“What is it?” he asked, letting her pull him aside.
“Have you seen the prices in there, Anatoly?” Darrell asked him quietly.
Anatoly nodded, frowning, was there a problem?
“Oh Anatoly, are you sure?” Darrell hissed, chewing her bottom lip.
She didn’t have much money with her, having assumed that they may have just gone to their favourite cafe and ordered a high tea.
“Of course I am, dorogoy moya*” Anatoly said, searching her face for some hint as to the problem.
Darrell chewed her lip again, her eyes darting from him to the restaurant. Suddenly it clicked in his mind.
“Oh oh, dorogoy moya,” Anatoly said softly, reaching up and pressing his hand to her cheek. “Don not worry about that. I have it covered.”
“No, Darrell. I am taking you out. I want to do this, and I think it would be nice if we could have this time together here.”
Darrell groaned a little, as his thumb stroked her cheek. She was fighting an internal battle with herself. She couldn’t possibly let him pay for what would be a very expensive meal but it would be fun to try the most expensive place in town.
Anatoly could work out the dilemma that was going on in her head and smiled.
“How about I make you a promise?”
“A promise that you let me treat you tonight, and next time I will let you choose where we eat, dorogoy moya.”
Darrell allowed herself to nod. She felt her heart beat faster at the smile he gave her. She almost swooned.
“Good. Now we shall eat,” Anatoly said softly. Before he pulled his hand away from her skin, he pressed a kiss to her forehead.
Darrell closed her eyes and swallowed, leaning into him. Her hand rested against his heart, but she wished she could wrap her arms around him, and kiss him in the street. She had been dreaming about kissing him for weeks and wished she knew if her dreams did him justice.
After what felt like too short a time, Darrell felt Anatoly pull back and gently pull her along into MacGregors. She wondered if he would kiss her, he was certainly behaving like he wanted to.
Inside his head Anatoly was wondering what had prompted him to say that he would take her out again. Had he not promised himself that one date would be enough? His treacherous heart and obviously decided that one date was not enough with this raven-haired beauty.
He pulled her inside the restaurant, gave his name, and they were seated immediately in one of the plush booths at the side of the restaurant. Carefully they sat down next to each other in the middle and Darrell could feel his knee pushed against hers.
She looked around in awe, at the chandeliers and the candles on every table. She even had three sets of cutlery.
“It’s so posh in here,” Darrell murmured to Anatoly as the waiter handed her a menu.
Anatoly smiled at her. “You sound surprised.”
“I’m in awe of everything,” Darrell told him, a blush creeping to her cheeks again. Sometimes she felt so naive compared to Anatoly. She kept forgetting that he was older and more widely travelled than she was.
“Oh dorogoy moya,” Anatoly laughed, reaching out to take her hand in his. He carried it to his lips and pressed a smooth kiss to her palm. “I wish I could see the world through your eyes.”
“I bet your eyes can see everything just fine,” Darrell said, pretending to haughty. She laughed as Anatoly did.
“What does dor… dorogory moyer mean?” Darrell asked a moment later, pronouncing the words wrong.
“Dorogoy moya?” Anatoly asked her, raising an eyebrow. “Just a term of endearment.”
“But what does it mean?” Darrell persisted.
“I shall tell you later,” Anatoly said quietly, as the waiter appeared to take their order.
Darrell barely managed to order food when she realised that Anatoly was still holding her hand in his, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. She was even more surprised when he ordered a bottle of champagne for them.
“Anatoly!” Darrell hissed when the waiter had gone. “What are you playing at? Champagne is expensive.”
“Ah ah,” Anatoly said, raising a finger to her lips. “I promised that I would behave after tonight. Tonight, dorogoy moya, you agreed to let me do things my way. If I could not afford this, I would not be treating you in such a way!”
“But Toly…” Darrell breathed against his finger.
Anatoly’s mouth twitched into a smile. Toly. She hadn’t called him that before, and he found that he liked it.
“No buts, Darrell Rivers,” Anatoly said, leaning in, his forehead resting against hers.
There was a big battle going on in his mind with his heart. His head was giving him reasons by the bucketful that he couldn’t date her, or have her a permanent feature in his life, where as his heart was aching for her, welcoming in this stunning English girl, telling him that he could trust her and that she was what he needed. There was one thing he was sure of however, and that was that Darrell Rivers was well and truly under his skin.
Darrell couldn’t help but stare into his searing grey eyes as his forehead rested against hers. She reached up slowly and rested her hand against his cheek, feeling the smoothness of his freshly shaved face.
“We barely get to be alone, and now I can’t think of a thing I want to say to you,” she whispered to him. “I could just stay like this.”
Anatoly covered the hand on his face with his own.
“I cannot get my head around the idea that you would want to be out with me,” Anatoly admitted quietly, opening up slightly. “This is a completely new experience for me.”
Darrell suddenly realised why they were sitting in the poshest restaurant in town, and why he had ordered champagne. Anatoly was looking sheepish and Darrell suddenly knew that he had never been on a date before.
“Oh Toly,” she breathed.
She was wondering if she could get away with kissing him when the waiter arrived back with the bottle of champagne and two champagne flutes. Anatoly tore his face away from hers, to thank the man.
Darrell watched him carefully. He blended in completely here, in fact he seemed to blend in everywhere. That must have been part of his secret service training, how to hide in plain view and fit in anywhere.
They toasted each other when they had a glass each and with the alcohol around, Darrell found that even though the heat between them hadn’t disappeared that conversation flowed easier and the more obvious flirting was back.
Slowly, over their food, the bottle disappeared, but Darrell was sure that Anatoly didn’t drink as much as she did and she certainly felt it the most when she stood up at the end of the night.
“Dorogoy moya,” Anatoly laughed softly, as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders as they left the restaurant. “You have not had that much to drink.”
“It’s the bubbles,” Darrell giggled. “I’m not used to the alcohol.”
“I am sure I can change that,” Anatoly murmured in her ear as they walked slowly along the road towards the West Sands. “Next time, I shall teach you how to drink vodka properly.”
Darrell could hear how strong his accent was and it made her want to kiss him even more.
She slung her arm around his waist and tried to think straight as they reached the beach, laughing and enjoying themselves. It was cold out, but Darrell couldn’t feel it and was surprised when Anatoly slipped off his blazer and put it on her. They strolled amongst the rocks and Darrell slipped off her shoes and stockings for a paddle in the cold water.
Anatoly watched her from a rock close by, his eyes taking in every part of her. She was stealing his heart and bewitching his mind. Soon enough his heart and head would be in perfect agreement. In a daring move, he pulled off his own shoes and socks, rolled up his trousers and leapt from the rock he was sitting on.
He moved to catch Darrell around the waist as she danced in the waves, suddenly feeling impetuous and carefree – something he had never felt before. He caught her by her waist and spun her around in the waves. Darrell laughed, her arms naturally falling into place around his neck. They were turning and laughing for what felt like an eternity until Anatoly stopped and looked down at her.
“With you, it has all changed,” he whispered, eyes sparkling but serious. “I have had the best night in my life with you tonight, Darrell Rivers. You have made me feel things I never thought I could feel. Thank you, dorogoy moya.”
Darrell felt her heart pump hard against her ribs, and her voice caught in her throat. She couldn’t find any words for what she wanted to say, so acted naturally. She stood on her tiptoes, sinking slightly into the wet sand as she did so. With her hands still wrapped around his neck, she brought his lips down to meet hers in their first kiss.
Anatoly’s arms tightened around Darrell’s waist, pulling her closer to his body, as their mouths moved together.
Darrell smiled as she kissed him, her hand on his jaw now, body close to his. This wasn’t like her dreams at all. It was so much better.
After what seemed like a long time, they pulled apart, flushed and panting but both seemed to glow.
“My Darrell,” Anatoly whispered softly, still holding her in his arms.
“My Toly,” she whispered back, before kissing him again.
Anatoly had his arm around her shoulders once more, as he walked Darrell back to her halls as the clock ticked closer to midnight.
Darrell was snuggled under his blazer, her head on his shoulder and her arm around his waist.
When they reached the front door of University Halls, they stopped, suddenly awkward. Darrell knew that there were eyes watching them. She was not silly enough to think that what happened on the doorstep would remain private.
Anatoly smirked. He knew well enough that by now, Alicia, Betty and Laura’s news would have spread through the female dorms and there would eyes watching his every move.
He stood with Darrell on the doorstep and took her hands in his.
“Well, dorogoy moya,” he said softly. “I hope we can call our first date a success?”
Darrell nodded, hardly able to breathe or speak.
“We can,” she managed. She reached up and pressed her hand to his face again. Anatoly turned his head to kiss her palm lovingly.
“And you have a verdict?”
“Yes. I do.”
“Good. I do too.”
“I would very much enjoy taking you out again, Miss Rivers. I had a superb time this evening.”
“I’m glad Mr Petrov, because I would very much enjoy spending more time with you.”
Their smiles were identical.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Darrell said, a tad sadly.
“Tomorrow,” he agreed as Darrell unlocked the door to the halls.
Standing next to her in the half open door, Anatoly kissed Darrell softly, a perfectly timed kiss.
“Sleep well, dorogoy moya,” Anatoly whispered as Darrell clutched the door for support, before turning and walking away from her into the night and back to his halls.
“Sweet dreams, my beautiful Russian,” Darrell whispered into the night after him.
She smiled to herself and turned to go inside. She had a big goofy grin on her face as she made her way to bed.