Notes: Written for socialholic as part of the usxuk Secret Santa. She asked for The first time they meet - in an AU. This AU is based of the American TV series Chuck in the premise and setup, but I will be veering heavily from that show's plotlines.
"Katya, what are you doing here?"
His voice was muffled against the din of the rain on the building's roof, the dark night cloaking them as the man wiped his glasses clean. It was a bad night for this kind of work, but they had no other choice. It was all the better to hide them on this top secret mission.
"Eduard, I just…" She sniffed and took a deep breath, "Are you sure this is for the best?"
The sandy-haired man nodded, his expression resolute. "If what your sources told you is true, the project is compromised and will be stolen by the Russians at dawn. If we try to go through our agency, it will be too late. We have no other choice."
Clutching her shoulders, the glistening tears in her eyes standing out despite how dim the light was, Eduard leaned his forehead down against hers and whispered. "Now please, Katya. For you to be here is very dangerous. We've made our plans; you know what to do. Don't let me down on this, partner."
She smiled slightly, absently straightening Eduard's tie. "Just tell me one thing, Eduard, and I will go. Can we trust him?"
Eduard slid his gun from where he'd tucked it in his back waistband, his senses all working on overdrive with the knowledge of what he was about to do.
"Yes, Katya. We can trust Alfred Jones with our lives any day."
"I can't believe you talked me into this, Gilbert…"
They had opened the back door to their store and were currently sneaking down the hallway to the manger's office.
The light-haired man slapped his friend hard on the back. "Aww, come on man! It'll be totally awesome! Pretend we're like spies or something on a top secret mission of awesomeness."
Alfred frowned. "Why would spies want to break into their boss's office in the middle of the night? That doesn't sound very heroic."
Gilbert spun on the spot and whispered, "Alfred, you heard Ludwig. The only reason he didn't let you take it home earlier is because he's punishing me. It's very heroic of me to help you get what you are being unfairly denied because my bro can't handle my extreme levels of awesome!"
"And I'm here because?"
"Hero always needs a sidekick, right?"
He quirked a smile at that. "Well, I guess…but I'd rather be the hero, you know."
"Haha, well the awesome me is our stealthy hero of the night because-" Gilbert held up a ring of keys and jingled it, "I'm the man with the plan."
Alfred snatched the keys from him and jammed them into the office door. "More like you stole them off the counter once your brother went to sleep."
"Whoa man, no harshing on my awesomeness."
As the door swung open, Alfred glanced around the room then looked back to Gilbert.
"Okay, where is it?"
Gilbert laughed nervously. "Uhh..."
"You have no idea, do you?"
He grinned, shouldering his way into the room and plopping down in the desk chair to spin around. "No idea at all."
A barrage of gunfire followed Eduard as he turned the corner, quickly clambering up into the ceiling panels before the guards chasing him caught up. He waited and watched through a small crack, letting out a sigh of relief when they ran past his hiding spot.
Dropping back down from the ceiling, Eduard clutched at the bloody graze on his arm. It was starting to throb uncomfortably and chances were the agent who had caused it would be coming all too soon.
He had to keep moving.
Racing down the hallway, he skidded to a halt at the end of the hall and pulled out a small palm sized computer. He hooked a cord from it to the lock on the door; punching in a few codes, the light switched from red to green, giving him clearance.
Sliding inside the room, he saw the flickers of the project's image database projected on the walls around him. But Eduard didn't have time to appreciate the view. Racing to the center of the room, he opened up the laptop there, seated on a small spindly table.
After opening it, he hacked through all the passwords and security walls protecting it, his nimble fingers dancing across the keys with ease. Finally, the screen popped up and he connected his computer to it.
The program was transferring, the images on the walls slowly flickering out until he was left in the darkness with only the laptop screen for light.
"Time to say goodbye," he murmured, punching in the last sequence of numbers.
Katya must have gotten her bomb secured to the mainframe earlier, because as he pressed the 'Enter' key, the room erupted into a massive explosion as Eduard ran mere steps ahead of the wall of flame.
The loud fizzing and sputtering of a soda can exploding as it was opened caused Alfred to dart his head around in alarm, seeking out the source of the sound in the small office. Of course, it was Gilbert, who had dug a can out of Ludwig's desk and opened it after spinning around in the office chair, the carbonation getting thoroughly shaken as he did so.
"Very stealthy, Gilbert," he grumbled looking at the sticky mess all over the desk and floor.
The other man shrugged, taking a noisy slurp from the can.
Running a hand up through his bangs, Alfred sighed. "Look, maybe we should just go. We're already going to be in enough trouble for you covering Ludwig's desk in soda residue."
"Don't worry about it," Gilbert said, standing up. "He's only going to blame me anyways. Might as well find what we came for."
Alfred found he couldn't really argue that point, being as it was mostly true. Even if Ludwig did know he was involved, Gilbert would be the one seen as the instigator of the trouble.
"Have you ever," he sifted through one of Ludwig's desk drawers, "I don't know, considered not trying to piss your brother off at every turn?"
Gilbert laughed. "What fun would that be?"
In the confusion of the explosion, Eduard made a run for the exit of the building. Already guards and agents were evacuating and for anyone unaware of his infiltration, he just looked like yet another CIA agent leaving the building.
Hiding amongst the crowd rushing out, and hoping they took his singed and battered appearance just to mean he was in an office closer to the explosion, Eduard pulled out his computer.
The small handheld device was still showing the 'Completed Transfer' screen and he quickly thumbed that away, keying up his email and quickly scrolling down the list of contacts.
As he emerged outside the burning building, a voice called out.
"von Bock, stand down!"
He grimaced, raising his eyes to meet the agent behind his bleeding arm.
"Vash," he said with a nod.
"That's Major Zwingli to you, von Bock," the blonde shot back, leveling his gun with Eduard's chest.
"Just as friendly as ever, I see."
He tried to keep talking as he counted down the contacts, knowing the one he sought was seventy sixth on the list.
"Give me one good reason not to shoot you dead as a rogue agent right here and now."
"Because the NSA isn't my agency?"
He cocked the gun. "Not good enough."
"If you just speak to Katya Chernenko, she'll explain everything. Please Vash, I'm doing this for the best interests of all of us."
He wavered, lowering his gun just slightly. "Agent Chernenko is involved?"
Eduard shook his head. He'd take the fall for her if he had to. "No. I'm working alone off intel she'd received from her contacts. I didn't have time to explain."
Vash lowered his gun at that, frowning. "If you come quietly with me to headquarters…"
Glancing sideways at his computer, Eduard saw that the name he needed was highlighted. He selected it. As he started to glance up, a gunshot rang out.
Hitting him square in the chest, Eduard fell backwards, his eyes drifting over to the computer in his hand.
"You're our only hope, Alfred," he murmured silently.
The screen displayed an "Email Sent!" image and before any of the surrounding agents could approach, the computer exploded.
"I got it!" Alfred said triumphantly, holding up the small disc. "This is so freaking awesome, I can't believe I'm touching it. The new Mass Effect game, untouched by any other human hands before now...well, except the people who made it and shipped it out to the store."
Gilbert snorted, "Yeah, no way my lameo bro would play that. Too awesome for him."
Alfred stuck the disk in his messenger bag and went to the door. "Well, have fun cleaning up."
He grinned, pointing to the mess they'd left. "I think Ludwig might notice we've ransacked his office if it looks like…well…your room."
Gilbert pouted. "But I was going to borrow the game tonight and…"
"And leak it on the internet like you did with the last pre-release disc you got? That's why Ludwig wouldn't let me have it. He knew you'd borrow it."
Alfred waved over his shoulder. "Goodnight, Gilbert."
"I can come play the game tomorrow, right?" He called after him.
"If your brother doesn't ground you…"
As he shut the door behind him, Alfred could hear Gilbert protesting that his brother didn't ground him anymore.
"Well I like totally need my beauty sleep, babe, so let's get to bed," the bubbly blonde said, getting up from the couch.
His partner looked worriedly to the front door. "But Alfred…"
"Is out with Gilbert, and it, like could be eons before he gets his butt home. Stop being such a worrywart, Toris."
He gave a small smile. "Sorry Feliks. It's just…he's been so down since that last company turned down his resume, so I worry."
Feliks yanked Toris up from the couch. "Alfred's gonna be fine. Sure his job isn't like the most totally fab thing in the world, but hey, head of the Nerd Herd at the Buy More is still a job. In this economy, you gotta like take anything that isn't totally grody work."
Feliks pecked a kiss on his check and started wheedling him down the hallway to their room. "You're like so sweet, Toris. But Alfred would totally not be like happy if you stayed up for him again. I know you're like major BFFs and all, but still."
Glancing once more to the clock then down the hallway, Toris sighed. "You're right, Feliks. I just worry too much sometimes."
"And that is why you have the totally gnarly me to like keep you from getting these massive knots in your muscles," Feliks said, gently rubbing at a particularly tense spot on Toris's back.
"We have an early day at the salon tomorrow, don't we?"
Feliks quirked a teasing smile as he shoved Toris onto the bed. "Not that early, lover boy."
"I'm home!" Alfred called out as he pushed open his townhouse's door.
Glancing around at the empty living room, he sighed, thankful that his roommates hadn't stayed up on his behalf again. Sometimes Toris could worry just a bit too much about him when he was out late…
Casting a knowing look towards the flicker of light under Feliks and Toris's bedroom door, Alfred quietly made his way to his room on the opposite end of the house. Flinging open his door, he entered what his friend Gilbert had aptly called 'Nerd Heaven.'
Alfred's room was awash with colored posters (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman – the original, with Adam West, thank you very much) and pristine collectors figures all kept in a glass case on the far wall. The ceiling had a large model (that Alfred had made himself) of the USS Enterprise in its original Star Trek styled glory hanging amidst a collection of glow-in-the-dark stars (which had been arranged in the constellations of the summer skies).
Next to his bed was the ultimate game center, complete with just about every system he owned (some were in the living room) and a medium sized TV. He was hoping to save up for a big screen once he got a better job, but that hadn't happened yet.
Flopping down on his bed, and starting to load in his screener copy of the new Mass Effect game, Alfred sighed. This would be so cool on a big screen, but he was still working at Buy More (the large electronics store chain) and none of his resumes ever went through. If only he'd gotten that high-paying job he'd been promised back when he was in his final year of college.
It wasn't that he was bitter at his friend, and at the time roommate, for getting the job. It's just that they'd promised two jobs to the two highest ranked students in the computer sciences fields. And he'd been second and then royally gypped when the company mysteriously declined him; something Alfred had a sinking feeling was a black mark keeping him from getting a job anywhere else.
A loud ping echoed across his room and he glanced over to his computer, which was flashing an indication of a new email. Toeing off his shoes, he padded over to it and opened it up.
Well, speaking of his old roommate who got the awesome job…
"What's Eduard emailing me about?" He mumbled to himself, clicking the email open.
Suddenly the screen went black, leaving only two rows of text on it reading:
If you could only chose one weapon for a zombie apocalypse, what would it be?
A smile quirking at his lips, Alfred glanced over to the row of collector's figures on the shelf that represented his answer. It was an old joke they'd shared back in college, after all.
Slowly, he typed in their answer: DALEK.
Within seconds, the black screen was replaced by rapidly flashing images; hundreds and thousands of them flashing so quickly Alfred couldn't process a single one individually. He stood frozen, as if entranced by the sequence of pictures, not knowing that his simple life as a computer nerd at the local Buy More was about to change forever.
Arthur knew it wasn't a good mission when it was prefaced with "take anything that will keep you comfortable for at least six months."
All right, so he'd bloody well bollocksed up a few missions lately and his disguise skills weren't quite what they used to be. Well, so be it. But to do this to him- a promising MI-6 Agent who was still quite young- was paramount to a slap in the face.
It was only when they told him it involved the top secret ALLIES project that Arthur decided that perhaps they weren't undervaluing him after all. Considering he didn't even know about this project until he was briefed for his mission, clearly he was being entrusted with something of great importance to national security. By golly, he'd even been handed a letter signed by the Queen herself begging him to assure that none of the ALLIES project secrets fell into enemy hands.
But even with all that fanfare, it still seemed rather strange.
ALLIES was a joint intelligence project between the United States of America and the United Kingdom, the two governments pooling all their information into a collective of images and intel.
Right then, that sounded quite the troublesome matter if it fell into the wrong hands.
Yet his only instructions were to meet up with an American NSA agent, destroy one computer and speak to one person. Then, if the person 'showed signs of contamination' – whatever rubbish that meant – they were being assigned to stay with him until further notice.
His partner, the NSA agent, was the infamous gun-toting Major Vash Zwingli. When Arthur asked him what he thought about the mission, he merely shrugged and remarked that he figured if the person knew too much they should just shoot him and go home.
Arthur agreed at the time, not knowing that he'd come to see this person as more than worth protecting in no time at all.
The first thing Alfred registered when he woke up was that he was going to be late to work; the fact he had a massive headache and was lying on the floor were only secondary realizations.
Then, he remembered the email.
Gripping his head and clambering to his feet, he swore. "Shit, Eduard. What the hell was that?"
A distant voice calling out, "Alfred, breakfast is on the table. We're heading out now!" brought him back to the present.
It was almost 7:30am, if he didn't get showered and run out the door now, he'd be massively late. And he knew Ludwig was not a fan of his employees showing up late.
So shoving the bizarre email (and the random flashes of images he couldn't identify filtering through his hazy mind) aside, Alfred stripped out of his clothes and padded into his bathroom to shower.
Singing to himself, he never heard the front door creak back open or the light footsteps coming down the hallway towards his bedroom. And it wasn't until Alfred had stepped out of the shower, wrapped only in a towel, and walked back into his room that he realized…he had company.
Repressing a girlish squeak, he awkwardly said, "Uh…usually people knock, you know?"
Part of him registered the duo, both dressed in mostly black and looking serious. The first looked like part of some SWAT team, black gear head to toe and several visible guns.
The flicker of images in his head swirled and Alfred blinked on realizing he knew who this was. Major Vash Zwingli, and uh…he really liked guns. In the killed-loads-of-bad guys kinda way.
Alfred gave him a tenative smile. "Can I help you?"
It was then that the second man, who had been inspecting Alfred's computer, turned around. He was in black slacks, a black jacket and a white collared shirt (obviously recently pressed). Green eyes locked with Alfred's blue and he felt his heart lurch as once again his head provided him with information he shouldn't know.
Arthur Kirkland, British Intelligence. Loves tea and looks way better in those rare instances when he smiles than his current scowl might convince you.
Shaking his head, Alfred took a step forward. Which, as he soon found out, was a bad idea.
"Hands in the air, Jones!" Vash yelled, cocking a gun.
He did so immediately, forgetting that he was still wearing nothing but a towel.
The towel dropped, and Alfred felt his face burn red as he stooped hastily to grab it up. He was about to apologize for lowering his hands when Major Zwingli spoke again.
"Get it together, Kirkland. It's not like you've never seen another man nude."
Alfred's eyes darted over to Arthur, realizing that he was wide eyed and bright red, having clearly gotten an eyeful.
With a nervous laugh, Alfred figured he'd try to appeal to their better natures. Since Mr. I-Love-Guns didn't seem to have one, he went for the second and still blushing agent.
"Could I offer either of you a cup of tea?"
He was surprised to see both of them lowering their guns as Arthur replied, "Y-Yes, I suppose we should have a sit down and talk this out with you Mr. Jones. If you could, um…"
He waved his hand at him.
"Get dressed so I'm not dealing with this hormonal outburst," Vash finished.
Arthur shot him a glare. "You know, most humans do have a sense of empathy and embarrassment for others. Or did you give that up when you sold your soul to the devil for a nice new gun?"
Vash turned back to him. "Kirkland, I could so easily shoot both the computer and him and go home to polish my guns. If you want to do this the nice way, then try being nice."
"Um…I vote for no shooting please," Alfred interjected. "Look Mr. Zwingli, Mr. Kirkland, I don't know why you're here but…"
Both of them went wide eyed.
"Major Zwingli never introduced himself," Arthur said slowly, looking back to the computer. "Oh bollocks, you opened the email didn't you?"
Alfred nodded. "Is that bad?"
"That email was encoded secret intelligence shared by the United States and the British agencies. If you viewed it, you now know it all," Vash explained darkly.
Arthur sighed, "Alfred Jones, until further notice, you are now an asset of codename project ALLIES. For better or worse, we...will be protecting you until we hear otherwise."
Giving them a cheeky look, he asked.
"Can the asset of project whatever put his clothes on now?"
To which, Arthur spluttered out a "yes, o-of course, you git!" while Major Zwingli rolled his eyes.
He still wasn't sure exactly why he had two secret agents in his bedroom or why they were now protecting him as an asset, but Alfred knew one thing for certain: his life had just gotten a hell of a lot more interesting.