Grant had allowed the whole team some time off after the Marksman affair, and the newly appointed Knight and his super hot fiancé, Martinez, were looking forward to some much needed R&R. Michael had grilled some really manly American steaks and was whipping out the drinks when he heard a knock on his apartment door.
"Scott, for the last time, we're not going salsa dancing with you and Richmond!" Stonebridge decided to ignore the insistent knocking and didn't move to open the door.
"HEY! MIKEY! Get your ass over here! Salsa dancing starts in five minutes!" Scott pounded on the door and fiddled with the blasted knob. Richmond only smiled warmly and tugged on his elbow.
"Just leave them be, Damien. They probably want to enjoy a nice meal alone. Besides, we still have a dinner date planned, remember?" She batted her eyelashes.
"NO! Mikey's been a complete douchewad ever since he became a knight! He's coming! And I'm gonna drink all his pansy wine before he gets the chance to try it!" Scott kicked in the door with a flourish and launched himself at his partner. He tried to wrench the wine bottle from Stonebridge's hands.
"M-My door!" Stonebridge squawked as it flew off its hinges. He barely had time to register the damage before Scott was grabbing for the wine bottle. They grappled shortly before Scott's temper got the better of him and he drop kicked the bottle out of Stonebridge's death grip and into his HD 70 inch plasma 3D TV. "My 1600 year old wine! My TV!" Michael wailed as his partner dragged him and Martinez out of the house.
"Stop being so selfish, Mikey! You've gotta live a little and start thinking of others!"
Ever the prude, Stonebridge pulled himself out of his partner's grip and straightened his Strike Back logo shirt.
"I'd like to have you know that Kim and I have our own PRIVATE lives now, outside of Section 20! C'mon, Damien, we see each other EVERY DAY!" His temptress fiancé ran her hands across Stonebridge's muscular pecs.
"I dunno, Michael. Maybe we could go dancing...as long as you can be shirtless."
"It's mandatory for the women...optional for the men," Scott purred and faltered when Richmond playfully punched him in the arm.
"He's lying, Kim. You can dress however you want. But I'm sure you'll find a way to "lose" Michael's shirt before the lesson." Martinez grinned.
"That's it, my little British biscuit! We're going!" Scott chortled and shot his friend a stupid grin.
"Good to have you back, Mikey! Shots are on me! Better than that wine bullshit you were planning. Bet you were gonna sneak in some tea and crumpets afterward, weren't you?"
"WAS NOT!" Stonebridge huffed, his shirt surprisingly missing from his handsome as hell hot bod. He mentality reminded himself to hide the tea and crumpets he'd prepared for later when they got back from dancing. "Martinez, what happened to my shirt?"
Michael's mood hadn't improved much by the time they reached the salsa class, but at least Scott had managed to find him a decent shirt, much to Martinez's dismay. With a mixture of shock and horror (and a dash of manly pride) Stonebridge found out he was a stellar dancer and Scott pretty much sucked. The Brit was actually starting to have fun dancing with his partner when their instructor, Father Time, collapsed from exhaustion and asked Section 20's golden boy to finish teaching the class. Michael went numb with embarrassment as stupid Scott laughed at him behind his back!
Scott twirled his maracas in the air and caught a rose in his mouth just as Richmond swept him into a complicated partner flip they'd picked up from superstar Stonebridge and Martinez.
"Whaddaya think, Mikey? Ready to hit laser tag next? Bet me and my girl will leave you crying on the ground like a little baby!" The pair fist bumped proudly.
"We do have the high score," Richmond added with a laugh.
"We had to make a bunch of kids cry to get that damn score and no one's gonna beat it EVER!" Scott declared. Before he could continue, an obnoxious slow clap echoed throughout the ballroom and a cloaked figure prowled along the balcony overseeing the dance hall. One of the dancers cut the Latin music for dramatic effect.
"Section 20. Well, well, well. We finally meet."
"Who the hell are you?" Michael spat, dropping the piñata that he'd been planning to use for the next number. The figure chuckled, but the hood obscured the stranger's face.
"I see that Philip Locke isn't with you. Too bad. Perhaps I'll be able to meet him if I endanger his star pupils. Say goodbye, Section 20!" The gloved hand pressed a button and fled from the room just as an explosion splintered the floor and sent the dancers careening into the chasm below.
Stonebridge was furious. Not only had some no name thug interrupted his masterful salsa dancing class, but on top of that he'd lost his free dance class voucher! Slowly getting to his feet, Stonebridge did a head count and assessed their current situation. The entire ballroom floor had been obliterated, landing his team, the other couples and Papa Smurf in the basement. They couldn't climb out and the varying darkness made it hard to make out his immediate surroundings.
"KIM!" Michael called, going to his fiancé's side.
"How the HELL," she groaned, "do these terrorists know exactly who and where we are when we work for a super secret unit that doesn't officially exist?!" Michael brushed her hair out of her face and looked up dramatically while pretty much just ignoring her question. He stood up shakily and addressed the group as a whole.
"My name is Sir Sergeant Michael Stonebridge with the British military intelligence. Is everyone okay?" He received a few murmured assurances before Scott's grating voice made its grand entrance.
"Mikey, I'm hurt!" Stonebridge heard Richmond's cry of anguish and rolled his eyes.
"Scott, no. I've battled neurotoxins, had my shoulder knocked out of place by a giant AND survived more explosions than you. I'm sure you're fine -"
"MY ARM IS PINNED DOWN BY A METAL BAR, WHAT DO YOU THINK?!"
The ruggedly sexy agent squirmed against the bar locking his shooting arm in place.
"F me! This is all your fault, MIKEY! If Papa Smurf over here had taught the class then he probably would've sent our asses home early but NNNOOOOOO you had to step up like a good little ballerina and pick up the slack!" Stonebridge scowled and stomped toward his comrade, purposely tripping over the bar and making Scott grimace.
"That's SIR Mikey to you, Scott! We wouldn't be in this mess if you'd kept out of my private dinner sexy romantic candlelit evening with Kim! I made steaks! STEAKS! On a charcoal grill and everything!" Martinez and Richmond exchanged glances and crossed their arms.
"Get a grip, my piping hot little teacup," Martinez snapped, but added in a sexy wink for her British biscuit's eyes only. "We've got to be smart about this. That jackass might still be creeping around. I'm gonna call Grant and see if her and Baxter can get in touch with Locke. You stay here with Scott and try to free his blasted arm." Before Stonebridge could protest, Richmond informed them that she would round up the dance class and try to find a safe path out of the rubble. Scott's bottom lip trembled.
"B-but JULIA! Don't leave me! I'd much rather have a hot chick look after me than a smartass Brit that drives on the wrong side of the road!"
"Well...then FINE! I'm not lifting that bar until you apologize, you greedy, self-absorbed asshole!" Michael retorted, crossing his arms. Martinez grimaced at her cell phone then gave the boys an apologetic smile.
"No signal. I'm gonna follow my bestie Julie and see if I can get Grant on the line." Stonebridge blew Kim a kiss, which she caught with a flourish, and soon the women and their charges were gone...except for Father Time. He opted to stay with the duo because he was 1) scared of the dark 2) too exhausted to move and 3) sure to be a liability. No one spoke for awhile until –
"Who the F is Locke?!" Scott screeched in the tiny space. Michael sighed as he realized his dumbo partner probably hadn't read any of their mission reports.
"Grant contacted some guy named Philip Locke right after you were taken by the Marksman, and he's the one who gave us the coordinates for Nina's stupid party. Grant never mentioned him again and we've never met. But I'm sure he'd like to meet a Knight," Michael added, grinning as Scott let out a groan of annoyance. "Alright, I'll take that as an apology, mate." Good guy Stonebridge found a smaller metal beam and was about to use it as leverage when they heard a bloodcurdling scream. "KIM!" Stonebridge roared, but heard no reply. He was torn between freeing his best friend and running after the love of his life! Papa Smurf was of no help and started humming a jazzy Latin tune.
"JULIA!" Scott howled, and gripped the knight by the collar with his free hand. "Buddy, you gotta go help them! I can get my arm out myself!" The American failed to mention the ring in his pocket, or his intentions to propose to Richmond after kicking ass at laser tag. Stonebridge readjusted his grip on the bar.
"I'm not leaving you behind, Damien! Our girls are the most sexy, independent, badass super secret agents Section 20 has to offer! They can take care of themselves!" Scott fidgeted against the metal pressed against his arm.
"I'm serious, Mikey! Do you know why I wanted you and Martinez here so badly-bad enough to kick you out of a horrible dinner date with tea, crumpets, and shitty wine?"
"HEY!" Stonebridge fumed, but Scott continued with a grunt of pain on his oh so hotty hot features.
"It's because I wanted my best buddies here when I...when I...propo-" A gunshot ricocheted over Stonebridge's head, inciting a "bullocks!" from his partner.
Michael tensed at the sound of the gunshot, fearing the worst for his precious fiancé, but stood his ground like a badass. He started to use the smaller bar in his hands as leverage against the thicker pipe pinning down his partner's arm.
"Sorry, mate, didn't catch that last part," he muttered, not really focusing on Scott or his ramblings. The American was probably speaking nonsense as usual, unlike Michael who didn't need attention every hour of every day. The Brit used his sexylicious strength to pry the pipe loose and Scott pulled his arm free, clutching it to his chest. Stonebridge bounded towards the hallway the women had exited, hefting the small bar in his hand as he didn't have any other weapon choices at the moment. Although he was angered and frustrated at their situation, Stonebridge couldn't help a bit of smugness creep into his voice when he exclaimed, "Scott! Oh shoot, too bad your gun arm is injured. Well, why don't you let me lead since I have a better shot of taking down any baddies and you can help out Father Time over there!" Papa Smurf stopped humming at the mention of his nickname and ran to Scott's side. Michael ALWAYS had to babysit the elderly guest stars - now it was someone else's turn!
"Get OFF me, Gramps!" Scott spat as the dance instructor wheezed and wrapped himself around his left arm for support. "Do you want me to have two useless arms? Put your hand on my back and follow me. Do EXACTLY as I say!" Father Time complied, humming as he went. "And don't hum! You're in my world now, hombre!" The elderly man promptly ignored him and continued with the song. The two chocolate chip with sprinkles sinful agents made their way through the tunnel until it opened up into a storage room full of creepy as hell mannequins. Papa Smurf grabbed a fistful of Scott's jacket and scrunched into him in fear. "Ah, hell no, Grandpa! You friggin work here and I know you knew about this shitty room and didn't do anything to get rid of it, so you don't get to be scared! JULIA! JULLIAAAAA!" Stonebridge cleared his throat and yelled for Martinez a tad louder than his partner. Scott caught on and scowled.
"Over here!" They heard Richmond cry from behind the rows of posing silhouettes.
"You know, mate, there was this episode in Doctor Who with mannequins-"
"Shut up, Mikey!" They rounded the corner and saw a sheet flapping lightly, hanging from the ceiling and extending to the floor.
"Okay, we go on zero." Stonebridge said, hefting the bar in his hands. Scott swore.
"We talked about this! It's one, two, three, GO."
"Zero's a real number you wanker! I don't think GO is a number!"
"Why the hell does it matter?"
"Glad you agree. So we go on three, two, one, z-"
"Shut up and get inside," Martinez and Richmond said in unison, pulling their respective men into the adjoining room behind the sheet.
"Are you okay, my love? We heard a shout," Stonebridge murmured romantically as he swept Martinez into his arms. She stroked his chest (woman's gotta cop a feel when she can!) and rolled her eyes.
"Did you SEE those creepy store mannequins?! I can deal with baddies and gunfire but I feel like we're trapped in a horror movie down here!" The slow clap began again, this time emanating from the mannequin room. Michael peeked his head out from the corner of the sheet, metal bar at the ready, but he couldn't locate the source of the noise amongst the lifeless dolls.
"I know you've contacted your supervisor, Ms. Martinez. Good. I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with the infamous Philip Locke...but not tonight. I'll let him sweat a bit longer. Now, if you and your team give yourselves up right now, I'll let the dancers go and won't detonate the second bomb." Papa Smurf grasped tighter to Scott's jacket, much to the American's annoyance.
"Hell no!" Richmond yelled. The voice chuckled in amusement.
"You don't think I'm serious? I chose this building, this ROOM for a reason. Ask Locke. Tell him the Mannequin sends his regards-"
"Oh HELLS NO! We are not going through this code name bullshit again! From now on, we're gonna call you Manny!" Scott bellowed, receiving an appreciative nod from Stonebridge.
"It's THE MANNEQUIN!" the man reiterated coldly. Scott flipped him the bird through the sheet.
"Stuff it, Manny! We don't negotiate with terrorist scum bags like you!" Gunfire ripped holes through the flimsy fabric as the baddie emptied the clip. The Section 20 agents ducked behind a conveniently placed steel cabinet for cover.
"You misunderstand. This is not a request. The four of you will come with me. I have no intention of keeping the rest of the hostages...alive, anyway...if you decline my gracious invitation. Locke may be in my BLINDSPOT now, but I assure you, sooner or later I'll be able to catch him IN MY SLEEP."
"What in all of British history and delicious tea do you have against Philip Locke?" Stonebridge demanded, risking another look outside the sheet. He stiffened as the metal muzzle pressed against the side of his head.
"This isn't the time for Robinson CRUSOE heroics, Michael. Be a good little soldier and surrender."
"Mikey, there are 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE reasons why you shouldn't give into this crackerjack!" Scott growled, but the Brit slowly lowered his pipe to the ground and held his hands up in surrender. Richmond and Martinez followed suit while Papa Smurf flopped to the ground in front of Scott's feet. "Not this again! One, he wasn't even talking to you, and two, leave me alone!" Scott groused at the dance instructor, lifting his eyebrows in mock surprise when Manny aimed the gun at his head.
"Hands up, like your buddies here!" the bomber ordered. Scott lazily lifted his left arm, his right clutched tightly against his chest. "BOTH hands!" Scott delivered his God given wiseass smirk.
"My right arm was pinned down thanks to your little explosion earlier. It freaking HURTS!" Manny stepped forward cautiously, as if to inspect the injury caused to the American's arm, when Scott delivered a brutal manly left handed punch to the jerk's face (no small feat for a righty!). Michael used his awesome tree trunk arms to trap him in a chokehold while Richmond and Martinez kicked him in the gut. There was something so sexy about Kim when she was beating the crap out of dirtbags. Michael caught her eye amidst the chaos and winked.
Scott wrenched the gun out of Manny's hands and leveled it at the struggling man's chest.
"F me! That actually worked!" Stonebridge squeezed tighter as their captive tried to break free of his hold.
"I could do this all day, pal!" the Brit said with a slight grin. "And next time you wanna crash a dance party, don't piss off a knight and his princess." Scott's carefree, smokin' hot face suddenly hardened and his gun trained on Manny wavered.
"Mikey, let him go." Stonebridge laughed.
"Good one, mate! I thought you were serious! No way in my hidden hand-me-down grandma's crumpet recipe am I gonna let this pansy-"
"Let him go, Michael," Richmond added and joined Scott's side. Martinez opened her mouth to argue until she saw the red dot hovering on her macho taco's forehead.
"Shit. They've got a sniper. Stand down, Sir British Biscuit Bravo One." The Mannequin chuckled as the Brit released his grip. Scott gestured at his stoic partner.
"We let you go, jackoff! Now it's your turn! Call off your sniper!"
"You're in no position to bandy about orders, Mr. Scott." Manny said evenly, steepling his hands together and trying to regain some of his composure after his humiliating beat down.
"So, what now? You're just gonna have sniper buddy finish us all off? What would that prove?!" Michael growled, wishing for the hundredth time that he and Kim had stayed home and cursing the powers that be for giving him epic dancing abilities. Scott was right - this was all his fault! If he hadn't tried to show off to his fiancée and have some fun they wouldn't be stuck in this mess. He vowed to remain a fun sucking stick in the mud Brit for the rest of his life if it meant keeping Martinez safe.
"Nothing as...indelicate...as that," Manny purred, trying to use big boy words without really understanding the meaning. "In fact, come to think of it, I only need the one hostage in order to capture Locke's attention. Now that the tables are turned in my favor, we negotiate. I'll take the superstar newly minted Knight of Section 20 and the rest of you can leave and join back up with your merry men." A loud chorus of "AWWW HELL NOOOO!" erupted from the four soldiers just as a soft gunshot rang out. Michael flinched. The bullet had grazed his temple and lodged in some random mannequin doll behind him. "That was a warning shot." Manny exclaimed calmly.
"Hey, Scott's a way better fighter than I am and he's also a knight!" Stonebridge huffed desperately amidst Scott's annoyed, "Don't you throw that in my face, Mikey! We all know you're the best so suck it up!"
"You're running out of time, and you'll find that I'm not a very patient man," Manny smirked, earning glares from the four agents.
"Could've fooled me. You've been taking your precious time setting up your little play date with Locke," Scott said. The bomber's face flushed in anger.
"I'M ONLY PATIENT WHEN IT'S CONVENIENT! Now, what's your decision?"
"Do you even have to ask?" Richmond spat. "We won't give up Michael even if he DID just try to throw Damien under the bus with that knighthood reference. We all know Americans can't be REAL knights."
"HEY!" Scott snapped but he was ignored by everyone present, and they missed his whispered, "but I'm your knight in shining armor, Julia." The Brit's face beamed at his team.
"Awww, cheers, mates! I knew you had my back! Take a look, Manny!"
"Whatever. We're a team and we won't leave anyone behind! So you're gonna have to either kill us, and have NO leverage for Locke, or take all of us!"
"Damn straight!" Martinez added and the agents did a four-way high five. Papa Smurf tried to join in but Scott slapped his hand away and the instructor crumpled to the floor in tears and latched himself around Scott's legs. Manny snapped his fingers and the red dot disappeared from Stonebridge's forehead. The heroes gave a collective cheer. Until...
"Oh God. Damien," Stonebridge whispered, his sexy as hell face regarding him with pity. Scott tensed, frozen in place, and noticed Father Time crawling to the other side of the room, distancing himself from the American. Scott nearly fainted from the shock as the red dot lingered on...
"Sweet Jesus and pizza rolls, not the baby maker!"
"Don't worry, Damien. Remember what you said? We don't negotiate with terrorists," Richmond added and gave Scott's arm a light squeeze. "We won't hand you or Michael over to them, no matter what!"
"Uh, Julia, don't you think we can FREAKIN' MAKE AN EXCEPTION?"
Another gunshot rang out and Scott squeezed his eyes shut against the impact...to his knee. "Thank the stars above and the power of love, I'm still a man!" he crowed happily then remembered his right arm was sore and he'd just been freakin' SHOT so why was he celebrating? The bullet had barely grazed the flesh, but like Stonebridge's head wound it was still bleeding and Richmond eyed him with concern. Manny slunk back in the shadows of his creepy ass doll brethren while the sniper's laser dot disappeared from view. Manny's voice echoed through the still air.
"Looks like the cavalry's here. No need for long goodbyes - I'll be seeing you all very, very soon." The four soldiers glanced at each other uneasily before a giant blast rocked the ceiling and a spry fatherly Brit with the most gorgeous blue eyes parachuted through the gaping hole.
"Who's that?" Stonebridge coughed as the debris burned his eyes. The new arrival did a handstand backflip over one of the mannequins and shrugged off the parachute with ease. He withdrew a golden handgun from the holster strapped to his leg.
"Ready to LOCKE and load," the gentleman hissed, cartwheeling to cover behind an assembly of mannequins.
"You're too late, dumbass, Manny and his partner already left," Scott snapped as he limped forward. He stopped when the silver-haired boss man swiveled in his direction.
"Don't LOCKE eyes with me!" he demanded then pointed to Section 20's British beefcake. "We've gotta LOCKE this place down. Fan out and find the rest of the dance class. As for you—" he glared at the American man stud Happy Meal, "LOCKE your trap and get the dance instructor to the copter."
"Uh, boss, don't you want to look at their wounds first?" Martinez said coyly, running her hands over Michael's chiseled abs of—
"KIM! How in John Porter did you take my shirt off?" She hugged him close and didn't answer.
"Why are you complaining, Mikey? Julia never takes my shirt off!" Scott huffed, then balked at his missing pants, thanking the blessed, angelic, Harlequin Romance powers above that he'd remembered to wear his sexier than sexy black boxer shorts instead of going commando. "JULIA!" Richmond shrugged.
"He might as well take a look at that bullet wound. I'll take Father Time back to the plane." The women left with Papa Smurf in tow, leaving the newest agent to regard Bravo Sexy One and Bravo Hot Damn Two with a raised eyebrow.
"You wanna tell me your name, old man?" Scott scowled. Stonebridge, ever the professional kiss ass, flung himself at the older man's feet and knelt on the dirty ground.
"I, Sir Sergeant Michael Stonebridge—" The man stomped on one of Stonebridge's hands.
"Save the theatrics for your drama class. We need to LOCKE on our target and find out where he intends to Strike Back next."
Stonebridge cradled his hand, a wounded puppy dog expression on his face that would bring a choir of angels to tears.
"That's what we've been trying to tell you! Manny and his sniper partner interrupted our salsa dance class and tried to hold us hostage. He led us to this creeptastic doll room and talked about being the Mannequin and that he was trying to lure some douchebag named Philip Locke out-" The older gentleman stopped dead in his tracks, fixing them both with an icy glare.
"And you dumb jocks decided to fight your way out? And then got yourselves SHOT?" Scott puffed out his chest in star spangled pride.
"Damn STRAIGHT we fought off that psycho-" The man sighed and took a sip of hot tea that seemed to magically appear out of nowhere.
"The Mannequin's MO is to douse his bullets with poison. Unfortunately, even with our advanced 21st century technology, there is only one known cure." Scott's mouth fell open in shock. "Of course, your Mannequin buddy is the owner of said cure." Scott started to tremble. "Without the cure, your internal organs will fail in 72 hours." Scott fought back some manly tears. "Recent Intel shows The Mannequin has set up base in an active volcano." Scott let out a shrill scream. The engagement ring in his pocket had never felt so heavy. Michael wasn't so childish and prided himself on being calm and collected.
"BULLOCKS! THIS IS THE WOOOOORRRRSSSSTTTTT!"