Notes: So sorry for the massive delay on this! I've been really struggling to write lately and I will hopefully get back into the swing of things soon. I hope you enjoy!
Codename 6, Alfred versus the First Date Part 3
"Sunflower Highball, heavy on the vodka," Katya said with a southern twinge never present in her normal voice.
The bartender acknowledged her with a nod and set about mixing up her order, never once suspecting that the black-haired woman before him was not what she seemed to be.
Irena Vinlinski, a businesswoman from Georgia in town for a conference, had checked into the hotel that afternoon and was now at the bar enjoying a few drinks with some of her fellow conference members. It was a solid cover and one that Katya couldn't help but wonder if the White Russian was also hiding under a similar one.
They'd made agreements to have the data drop point at the Hotel Valquez where a large business conference was housing all their attendees. It was easy to blend in a crowd of over three thousand guests, and Katya had tempted the foreign agent with quite an interesting tidbit.
Information on a top secret project between the American and British agencies that had been moved to a new compound after the whereabouts of the first was compromised.
If the KGB had indeed planned to take Project Allies, they would be highly interested in knowing where it was now. In return, Katya had asked for them to drop intel about codename POND. That had been the codename Project Allies had supposedly leaked under, according to a deep hack that Eduard had uncovered. No one knew this but her, Eduard and whoever was behind the plan to steal it. If the agent tonight had any intel on POND, it was intel they should have never had.
So there Katya was, laughing it up in a bawdy voice at the bar with a few businessmen and waiting for the right time to make the drop. Her drink order had been the discussed code to notify the agent she was there, and she was to not leave the hotel bar until eight at the night.
Down the bar from her, a businessman named Aldrich shot her a wink then pointed to a drink the bartender was delivering to her.
With a smile, she waved down the bar at him and toasted up the drink. No one noticed, but as she did Katya shot a coy look directly into the hotel camera in the corner, followed by a slight shrug.
"Sorry Eduard. I'm popular with the boys again tonight. Don't be too jealous, okay?"she thought to herself, hoping he got the message.
As the drink touched her taste buds, Katya paused. It was a Sunflower Highball, heavy on the vodka. Meaning either this man was very observant on what she'd ordered earlier or…
With a shimmy off the barstool, Katya made her way down to the man behind the drink. "Hello, Aldrich right?"
He gave a slight smile at the recognition. "You remembered my name, I see."
She giggled a bubbly laugh, "It's my strongpoint, names. So what's your story, Aldrich?"
The man, with his light sandy hair and purple eyes just gave a slight incline of his head, "Just in town for the conference. Which speaking of, I'd best be getting back to my room before my boss gets mad. He wanted us in our rooms by eight."
Katya played it cool, even if all of her mind was screaming at her It's the White Russian. "Aww, well that's just right unkind of him, innit? To spoil a fun night like this."
The man smiled, but it was slow and calculated. "Terribly rude of him. If you'll excuse me, Irena, I must be going. Please enjoy your drink."
And as the man left the bar, Katya discreetly pushed a strand of hair behind her earlobe then trailed her hand back to her neck.
Signal to Eduard.
Watch that one like a hawk.
Not wanting to blow her cover or risk losing out on this opportunity to gain some intel, Katya stayed at the bar a few more minutes before leaving and going to the drop point in the lobby.
Pretending to fix her shoe, Katya balanced right by one of the large plants and popped open the small watering tube embedded in the soil.
But, the tube wasn't filled with water this time.
She pulled out the small roll of paper and discreetly tucked it in her shoe before casually making her way to her room.
Once there, she pulled it out and deciphered the code on it.
Tomorrow night. During the closing ball. I will bring the men working on the project here. If you wish to speak with them before I kill them, you will have until midnight.
Her heart stopped a moment as the words sunk in. Whoever this was knew about Project Allies and was going to lure some agents involved to the hotel and kill them. Probably, she realized, in order to move their personal double-agent into that position.
Quickly, she called up Eduard via her encoded phone.
"Eduard, we have a problem."
"Let me guess, the White Russian is in the hotel?"
"And he's going to kill Agents Zwingli and Kirkland tomorrow at midnight."
Arthur realized, with an odd pang, that he'd never enjoyed a night of his life quite like this. While he loved the thrill of his work, being in genuinely friendly and kind company like this was a rarity his job often didn't allow him to indulge in.
For his part, Alfred had played it cool. Perhaps the geek had a bit of a spy in him after all, casually edging his arm around Arthur's shoulders midway through the movie. Though, some part of Arthur secretly wished that it was a real gesture and not one attempted to adhere to their cover of boyfriends.
As for Alfred's roommates, Toris and Feliks were quite the pair. Arthur found he rather liked Toris, the man nothing short of a perfect host the entire night. He offered everyone homemade cookies and kept checking to see if anyone needed more to drink.
Feliks was a bit unique, but as Arthur discovered, affectionately so. He was probably one of the few in the world that would comment on the clothing of characters in an action movie.
"Like honestly, no one is going to believe her hair looks that good after escaping two explosions and riding a motorcycle over a cliff. Totally not realistic at all!" he noted, more than once, throughout the film.
Arthur, after seeing Toris and Alfred do the same, let out a real chuckle under his breath. It had been far too long since he'd laughed for real, a cynical voice remarked in his head, and he was somewhat thankful that his superior had insisted on this cover.
As much as he hated to admit it, even to himself, Arthur Kirkland knew he was a painfully lonely person.
As the credits for the film rolled, Arthur reluctantly made an excuse to leave. He knew emergency calls would route to his cell phone, but still felt a bit uneasy leaving his work unattended for so long.
"I'll see you out to your car then, Arthur," Alfred offered, flashing a smile.
Arthur nodded, quickly saying his thanks and goodbyes to Toris and Feliks before the two managed to make it out the front door.
"Sorry about them," Alfred began quietly. "Toris tends to fuss over everyone and Feliks is a bit…eccentric."
Arthur shook his head. "They're brilliant and you're lucky to have them as friends."
Alfred blinked. "Really? I figured they'd bother you. You seem like the grumpy-everything-annoys-me sort."
"That would be Vash. But trust me; I was more irritated by the asinine movie than your friends."
At that, Alfred gasped, "But that movie is amazing!"
Arthur chuckled, "I'm rather not surprised you like it, to be honest. Though I pegged you more as a sci-fi/fantasy fan."
Alfred puffed up his chest at that and posed dramatically near the fountain in the courtyard of his housing complex. "To boldly go where no man has gone before!"
"Shouldn't that be 'to go boldly,' given the spilt infinitive?"
Alfred stared. "I think I'm learning more and more about you tonight than I ever imagined I would. You do know they've argued about that grammar since the sixties, right?"
Arthur shrugged. "I'm taking that it's some sci-fi thing then?"
At that, Alfred promptly yanked Arthur down to sit on the fountain's ledge with him. "Arthur Kirkland, whether we are dating for cover or not, you need to know one very important thing about me."
He waited, giving a slight nod in acknowledgement.
With a mischievous smile, Alfred leaned in and whispered in his ear, "I'm kind of a geek."
Arthur let a smile slowly edge at his lips, but he buried it beneath a scowl as he gave Alfred a playful shove. "Git. Everyone in the bloody world could figure that out."
Alfred grinned. "Just reminding you, I am prone to break into Klingon, quote the entirety of all the Indiana Jonesmovies and am quite skilled in light saber dueling."
"Duly noted then," he replied, a hint of a smile present only in the quirk of his eyebrows.
His eyebrows, which Alfred decided to poke at. "So, tell me honestly. Did you have a good time tonight?"
Green eyes went wide at the bold question, but as he wracked his brain to form a proper reply, Arthur noticed the light dusting of pink over Alfred's cheeks.
"Yes, Alfred, I did. Silly action film, onion-less burger and all."
Something about his reply seemed to surprise Alfred, but before Arthur could try and take it back or cover it up with gruffness, the other man had leaned forward and wrapped him in a warm hug.
"Awesome," he breathed against Arthur's neck. "I'm really, stupidly glad to hear that. Because I know compared to your adventurous life, mine must be pretty lame."
Hesitantly, Arthur placed a hand on Alfred's back. "Sometimes, it's the little mundane things that are the real adventure."
Alfred seemed to tense a bit at that, but before Arthur could say more, he whispered quietly, "Arthur, something just moved over in those bushes."
Arthur nodded, then whispered back, "Do you have any cats or raccoons and the like around here?"
He felt Alfred swallow thickly, his throat still resting against his shoulder.
"Yes, but I don't think they have shiny metal objects."
"Stay calm, stand up slowly but stay with your arms around me. If they wanted to shoot you, they would have shot through me already."
They managed to do so, looking more like an awkward couple than a duo acutely aware that they were being watched by someone armed. Once standing, Arthur rested his forehead in against Alfred's.
"Vash should still be around somewhere, we just have to play it cool until he notices something is amiss. I want you to give a signal to him."
"A signal," Alfred asked, his heartbeat racing where his chest pressed against Arthur's, "How?"
"Reach up and rub the back of your neck with just your first two fingers, then grab your earlobe. Got that?"
He nodded, then did just as Arthur had instructed him to. Knowing that anywhere in that line of sight was covered; Arthur shifted two steps left and wrapped an arm up around Alfred's neck.
"I'm very sorry, but I'm going to have to pretend to kiss you in order to make the signal without looking suspicious. Just stay still and close your eyes."
Alfred nodded, closed his eyes and flushed bright red. Arthur knew he was probably equally red. He leaned in leaving the smallest of spaces between their lips. To anyone watching, it would look real.
Pulling back, Arthur averted his eyes and made the signal as if he was just nervously reacting to the kiss. Sure enough, before his nerves and embarrassment could get any worse, a door swung open and a familiar voice called out.
"Hope I'm not interrupting something."
Vash. Somewhere nearby, the bushes let out a slight rustle and Vash glared at them. "You got a cat?"
"N-No," Alfred managed.
Vash kicked a leg into the bush and was obviously displeased to find that he didn't hit something. He played it off well, "Probably a raccoon or something." He held out his hand to Arthur, "Hello. I'm Alfred's new coworker and neighbor. You must be the boyfriend his Nerd Herd keeps going on about."
Arthur blushed, but kept cover. "That would be me."
"Look, I was about to do that whole new-neighbor shtick with the food and everything, but why don't I invite you both in for a drink instead?"
Arthur gave a slight nod and Alfred picked up on it.
"Sure, sounds like fun Vash!"
He gave him a slap on his back as if they were the best of friends at work and the trio made for the nearby townhouse's door. Once safely instead, Vash swore.
Someone had been right on their doorstep and he hadn't been able to shoot them, poor guy. Arthur almostfelt sorry for the other agent, but thinking back to the moment he'd been having with Alfred before they'd been interrupted, he decided perhaps Vash wasn't the only one who'd like to unload a few bullets into that bush.
For someone who had just moved in, Vash had already decorated his new townhouse to the degree he wished it to be. Already rather uncomfortable due to his false job at the Buy More, he wanted his home to be as unnerving as possible. This mean there was a fair amount of polished and mounted guns on display on his walls, all in working order despite the fact many looked like antiques. The place looked more like a museum to guns and pistols than a home, but to Vash it was a comfort.
A comfort that was a bit hampered by the fact he'd been ordered to move into one of the vacant townhouses in Alfred's complex to keep an eye on him.
But as much as that request had bothered him originally, tonight had given him solid proof that perhaps the computer-brained geek did need constant surveillance on him for protection.
"Make yourselves at home. Alfred can't leave until we know the perimeter is safe and his roommates aren't in danger and Arthur…"
"Wait," Alfred cut in, "If Toris and Feliks are in danger then we've got to do something! I should go there right now and…"
Arthur's steady hand came down on his arm and Alfred froze.
"Vash is right. It's possible whoever is there wants you to be without us for protection. We aren't in as deep a cover as we would have liked, so it's possible that our bloody identities are compromised. If you go home now, you'd be endangering all of you."
Alfred seemed to quiet at that and tensely sat back on the couch. Vash sighed. He'd needed to contact Agent Kirkland about some intel they'd been sent and was wary to talk about it with Alfred present. But, seeing as he had no choice, he pressed on.
"Kirkland, we got a tip tonight on possible movement on the White Russian in the area."
Before Arthur could even react, Vash realized that Alfred had. He'd gripped the couch arm tightly, his eyes had gone unfocused and he gasped.
"What did you see?"
Alfred turned to Vash, the urgency of his question drawing his attention. "The White Russian is an infamous Eastern European agent, who has been used for high-level assassinations. And, no one apparently knows anything about them outside this. Not their gender, hair color, eye color- nothing. No one has seen them and come away alive. But…"
At that, both Arthur and Vash edged closer.
Alfred looked between them warily. "They have purple eyes, a scar on the left side of their neck and often wear a necklace with a silver chain."
Vash took that information in and then, with a heavy sigh, went ahead with the plan. "Kirkland, we've been given intel to go to a ball tomorrow night at the Hotel Valquez. Apparently, there is a good chance this agent will be there and given their history, someone's life is probably in danger."
Arthur nodded, "And I suppose we're the only agents in the area who can get there in time without drawing suspicion?"
"Correct. We've been asked to attend the ball and try to flush them out. Originally, the asset here was to stay at home safely but…"
Vash locked eyes with Arthur, silently asking him if he'd take the cover.
With a flush he tried to repress, Arthur glanced over to Alfred. "No, you're right. He's got a lot of insight into this agent we don't have. Even with those details he gave us, we could miss them. But if Alfred sees their face, perhaps he'll flash on them."
Alfred perked up at this. "You want me to come with you?"
Arthur averted his eyes to his lap. "It'll be easier if Vash and I spilt up, so perhaps…for sake of the mission, you could…"
Vash rolled his eyes. Was it really that hard to ask someone to come as your cover boyfriend with you? Good grief. This is why he'd never bothered with personal attachments- too messy and too likely to make him turn into a blubbering fool.
"Jones, Kirkland's trying to say that your cover will be as partners for this."
Alfred blinked. "Like…business partners?"
Vash had to repress a smirk as Arthur shot a death glare at him. "No. Life partners."
Arthur snapped, "Zwingli, is it really necessary for us to…"
"Go all out on your cover? Yes. Kirkland you know that a flirtatious couple is way more likely to get into areas a single agent or one without that kind of cover can."
Alfred swallowed thickly, then meekly held up his hand. "Um question…"
The two agents paused in their battle of glares to acknowledge him. Immediately, Alfred turned to Arthur.
"Look, I know this is super lame but I really don't have any idea what to wear to this kind of thing and…" He raised his eyes and despite the shyness, there was a hint of bravery in there as well. "Well, I don't want to ruin our first fake-date, you know?"
Vash had to hold back a snarky remark as Arthur's defenses quickly crumbled away.
"Oh don't worry about that rubbish, we'll take care of that," he said quickly, his eyes going back to Vash, "We can work that out tomorrow. Right now, it's late and we need to know if it's safe for Alfred to go back home."
With a shrug, Vash looked to the pair on his couch. "It could take hours to do a check of the area and figure out if it's safe enough for the asset to be without us, so I was thinking he should stay in our watch until tomorrow morning."
"That sounds reasonable, is there a place here we can stay or…"
Arthur's words trailed off as he noticed the mischievous glint in Vash's eyes.
"Well, its obvious isn't it? You're the two in the cover, so logically as boyfriends he should spend the night with you, right?"
Logic or not, Vash supposed he deserved having Arthur throw the lamp at his head for that one.
To be continued...