I haven't done a snippet in a while: This is very rough draft, from One-Eyed Jack, the Las Vegas novel that's so meta it's very nearly fanfiction.
At least there are no Elvii in this particular scenelet. Countcher blessings.
The American put his fork down and reached across the table for the saltshaker, idly leaning it at an angle in a vain attempt to balance it. It wobbled and fell; he caught it and tried again.
"You're doing it wrong," the athlete said, before he could make a third attempt.
The American looked up. "Ah, excuse me?"
"You're doing it wrong." His capable hand brushed the American's square-fingered one aside; the Russian glanced up for a moment and saw the wry, almost patronizing twist of the scholar's lips. The Russian traded a quick flash of a grin with the scholar, sure their partners were too engaged in their ridiculous competition to notice.
The athlete lifted the salt shaker from the American's fingers and tilted it upside down, letting grains scatter on the tablecloth. He pushed them into a pile with his fingertips, and angled the base of the shaker against it, lightly and precisely. The Russian held his breath as the athlete opened his fingers like the teeth of a crane and lifted his hand away.
The shaker never moved.
"Bravo," the American said, softly, and the scholar slapped the edge of the table and made the salt shaker clatter down on its side.
"Oh, the wonderfulness of you," he commented.
The Russian hid his smile behind his palm until he got it under control, set his teacup down, and leaned forward, elbows on the table as he drew a licked finger through the tumbled grains. "You American spies are all alike."
"Pah." The tea got cold quickly in these little china cups. Glasses were better. "Americans know nothing of pampering. When I was an Olympic hopeful--" He shrugged, remembering the insanity of the schedule: of the University studies, of the gymnastics training, of the tradecraft lessons from the beautiful, soft-voiced girls who were as KGB as they were seductive. He grinned suddenly, thinking My life in three parts, and each of them a different life. The privation and terror of the Great Patriotic War. The cosseted, strenuous existence of an exceptional son of the Rodina. And a girl in England who changed everything. "Smug, I mean. The Englishman's partner is an old friend," he said, interrupting himself. Everything. "I was concerned." Ignoring his partner's amused, sideways blink. "Share the theory, if you would."
The scholar's expressive lips twitched. "We think it was a great deal to do with your partner, in fact." He shot a glance at the American, who choked on his coffee. "Your partner, the widow's partner, and my partner--"
"Why would she and I be the targets, then?" He leaned forward, intrigued.
"The widow, you, and myself. Work with me, man."
The Russian glanced at the American to see if perhaps he understood. The American raised his shoulders and tipped his head in his trademark exaggerated shrug.
"Because the assassin works alone." The scholar's tone made it seem as if the answer was obvious.
The Russian pursed his lips slightly and shook his head. "I'm sorry," he said. "I just don't understand what that has to do with anything. He works alone, so he thinks other agents must, as well?"
"Sure, if he's going to consume them."
"Con--" The American set his coffee cup down with a rattle that betrayed the unsteadiness of his hand. "Like, 'Two Bottles of Relish'?"
The tennis player's grin widened almost cartoonishly. "Munch munch. Yum yum."