After the Immobilo

Ninety-nine awoke to find her lips connected to a man's. The lips belonged to her secret love and partner, Maxwell Smart. She closed her eyes then and clung longer. Suddenly Max's eyes popped open and he pulled away from 99.

He looked sheepishly away and barely making eye contact stated, "Sorry about that, 99."

"No need to apologize.."

"No, I'm sorry," Max began to babble about how he just wanted to show his gratitude for her help on this mission. He was sure that one or either of them would have wound up stabbed or worse.

"Max," 99 said putting her fingers over his mouth. "We'll talk later, ok?" She pointed simultaneously with her other hand that the Chief and the Ambassador of Pinerovia had just come back to consciousness.

"Max, what did you do?" The Chief asked.

"Oh, hi, Chief," Max stammered. "I just accidentally gave everybody here a congratulatory stab with the Immobilo ring.

"Max, give me the ring, before anyone else gets stabbed with it," the Chief said as he held out his hand.

"Ok, Chief," Max said and this time was very careful in handing the Chief the dangerous ring.

"Thank you, Max. You and 99 can go. We're finished here."

"Thanks, Chief," said 99 looking over at Max and surreptitiously taking his hand in hers.

Max let go of 99's hand as they walked to his car. He really was embarrassed at being caught by her as he was kissing her. He really did not want her to read too much into his behavior. She was his partner and his friend. He more than anything wanted to keep her as his friend….and partner. She was invaluable to him because she seemed to really like him and wanted to be with him. Max had not had a female who really enjoyed him as a person. Most of the women with whom he came in contact did not really understand him. To him they were harmless women who were good for a nonserious attachment. He always found out later that they were usually using him. Even the other female agents used him because he was extraordinarily close to The Chief. He was sometimes hurt emotionally by these women, but usually did not view these women as serious attachments.

However, his attachment to 99 was very different. She was intelligent, beautiful, and kind. He also felt she truly liked him, and she was willing to accept him in any way she had him including that of having his back on occasion. He only knew that although she was his partner and a good well trained agent in her own right he wanted to protect her and save her from most of the evilness and rottenness he found in dealing with KAOS. He had to face it. He was smitten, but he lived in fear of revealing his true feelings.

"Are you hungry?" Max asked 99.

"Yes, I'm famished. Do you want go to Control's deli?" 99 asked.

"No. I'm not much in the mood for Pastrami today. Let's go to the little place we went to last week where we can sit outside."

"Max, it's 45 degrees out here."

"Oh, yes, sorry about that 99. I didn't realize," Max apologized. Oh boy thought Max. I'm really wracking up the brownie points today.

The trip to the little restaurant was about fifteen minutes from The Pinerovian Embassy. They got a private booth in the back of the restaurant where the lighting was a little dim. 99 got into the booth across from Max, but even with the small lantern on the table she could barely see his face. She did not realize that Max had planned it that way. Since she had caught Max kissing her after the temporary paralysis of the Immobilo had dissipated, he was barely able to look 99 in the face.

"Max, is everything all right?"

"Of course, 99 I just like it better back here. That's all," Max said looking around for a waiter or waitress. He really wanted to be doing something with his hands. Since working with 99 he really wanted to stop smoking so he did not even bring his cigarettes.

99 took Max's hand across the table.

"What's wrong, Max?" 99 asked slowly stroking Max's knuckles with her thumb. Max almost pulled away but he did not want to offend 99 any more.

"Nothing," Max responded flatly.

"It was just a kiss. Don't worry about it. I didn't mind," 99 said trying to catch Max's eye so he would look at her. She just could not stand to see him berate himself over something that apparently they had both wanted to do for some time.

"Yes, I guess it was just a kiss." Max thought that 99 was just being nice to him. He had expected her not to look at him again. Despite his outward bravado, Max knew he was not as adept with the opposite sex as he boasted. Yes, he had had girlfriends, but since he started working with 99 he had not really been interested in anybody else. She was just right. Too bad it doesn't work in reverse, he thought.

The waiter came and they ordered their lunches. Max ordered a spaghetti lunch special and 99 ordered a Chef salad. They remained silent with their own thoughts. Ninety-nine had not let go of Max's hand and he did not shake it off.

Suddenly, 99 asked, "What's the matter, Max? The Chief won't be mad at you for long. He really likes you. He just gets embarrassed," 99 offered looking at Max. She continued to stare at him.

"What is it, 99?" Max asked. Here it comes. She just too polite to slap my face.

"Where's your medal?" 99 still held Max's hand captive although she had ceased stroking it.

"What medal?" Max asked looking down knowing perfectly well what 99 was asking.

"Oh! That medal," Max said looking up at 99 and smoothing down his shirt front with the hand that 99 was not holding. "I gave it back."

"You gave it back? Why? You earned that medal, Max," 99 exclaimed.

"Because I felt stupid after I stuck everyone with the Immobilo. The Chief didn't even notice when he woke up."

"Oh, Max..," 99 sighed.

Max looked into those big baby blue eyes and said from his heart, "Besides I just backed you up. You did all the work. You just pointed me in the right direction and then you came in and saved my butt."

"No, Max," 99 said stroking his hand again. "You saved my butt. When I called CONTROL, I was so glad the Chief sent you instead of somebody else."

"Really?" Max asked starting to return 99's touch by reversing the handhold and stroking her hand with his thumb.

"Really, Max." 99 said. She was glad that Max accepted her thanks. She knew he always liked to take the credit for their narrow escapes, and sometimes it really was a partnership where she would think of it and Max would carry it out.

Ninety-nine was ready to ask Max about why he was surreptitiously kissing her, but the waiter came with their food and they both ate in silence.

After Max finished his spaghetti and wiped his mouth with his napkin, he asked 99 if she was finished. Ninety-nine was still picking at her salad. Her emotions were really in a tumult and she really wanted to find out why Max wanted to kiss her without her knowledge. Doesn't he know how much I want him? All I want him to do is notice me; and, just like him, Max sticks me with a paralyzing drug and kisses me without my permission (which he never needed) nor my knowledge. Ninety-nine could not take it anymore.

"Max, why did you kiss me? 99 asked. She was so overwrought with excitement that her voice sounded hostile. That was the last thing she wanted to indicate to her partner.

"99, why are you bringing that up again? It was just a spur of the moment thing. I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry. I won't do it again!" Max exclaimed.

"No, Max. I'm sorry that came…." 99 tried to explain.

"No, 99," Max held up his hand. "That's it. I do not want to hear anymore about it. I know better than to take advantage of a friend and partner. You can depend on it."

"Max…"

"No, 99. Let's go." Max said as he rose from the table. Max insisted on paying for her lunch which was odd since he always insisted that they go dutch whenever they went out.

Max and 99 got into Max's car. The Chief gave them both the rest of the day off pending their reports. Max dropped 99 off at her apartment because she said she was tired and wanted to rest. She would go back to CONTROL later to file her report.

"Ok, 99, I'll see you back there later. I'm going to do the same," Max said. Before 99 had gotten out of Max's car he leaned over and was about to kiss her on the cheek when he remembered how offended she acted when she awoke to find him attached to her lips.

Before 99 got out of the car she knew Max wanted to kiss her again. Instead of just doing it, though, he pulled back. 99 knew that Max thought he had offended her. All she wanted to really do was take him in her arms and kiss him thoroughly and let him know how much she really loved him.

Ninety-nine slammed Max's car door and stood on the curb waiting for Max to walk her to her apartment door. When they went on their "dates" he usually walked her to her door and pecked her on the cheek. Why does he hide it? 99 thought. He must feel something for me or he would not have kissed me while I was under the Immobilo. I am so transparent that everyone at CONTROL knows how I feel about him, how I defend him, how I never let on that it's usually me that solves the cases and gets us out of jams. Goodness, even the Chief knows I am totally besot with him. Luckily I'm good for him or the Chief would have replaced me with someone else as his partner. Oh well, I refuse to make the first move. I did that once before and that's why I'm alone. Besides I don't think I read him wrong, but I am not sure and I'm not brazen enough to tackle the subject without more from him. As long as I am his partner and get to be with him that's enough…for now.

CHAPTER TWO

When Max returned home he unlocked the one deadbolt and let himself in. Once inside his apartment he locked all the deadbolts, the latch, and took the key out of the doorknob. He was back in his own place safe and secure. Secure in my own shell….alone. Max thought sadly. Once in a while it would be nice to have someone to come home to. When I was a little boy, though, it wasn't much fun to come home. My brother beat me up. My father told me I was nothing. I did love my mom, though. She did her best to raise me right. I think I turned out ok. I fight on the niceness and good side and do everything I can to stop evil and rottenness.

Max stood in the doorway looking around his empty apartment. He was in such a melancholy mood. Not a mood he favored and not one that he particularly liked. Max, for all his bravado, kept to himself. He saw only 99 once in a while outside of work although he realistically thought that being too cozy with your partner was not good for your own well being. Max walked to his desk across the room and began to write the rough for his final report on the Pinerovian case. However, he stopped midstream because it only caused him to return to the kissing incident with 99.

CHAPTER THREE

Max and 99 continued to work together for years. At times 99's feelings would surface and she would stand poised for a real kiss from Max. She knew full well he wanted one as well, but at the last moment something would happen and they would be torn apart. However, if Max really wanted her, he sure had a strange way of showing it. He continued to ignore the fact that she, 99, was a woman and loved him totally even with all his faults. Max continued to chase women in front of her. Women that she knew were more voluptuous and vapid than herself, but maybe, after all, that was the type of women Max liked better. Maybe Max felt more "smart" when being with women who were less on the brainy side. That was always the way with 99. Although she was beautiful (no one could deny that) none of the men she dated ever wanted her for her brains. I guess that's all Max needs me for 99 thought. He constantly forgets I'm a woman. He always thinks of me as just "one of the guys." 99 wanted to cry more than once about the impossible situation of her non existent lovelife.Until 99 had met a man who really wanted her….

PART II

San Jirman Island, where the hell is that? Max wondered. Why would she leave me? Doesn't she know how much I love her? How much I need her? She's my partner. There you go, Smart, not using that "fabulous" brain of yours…who are you kidding, stupid? 99 finally got tired of being partnered with an indiot. She's always the brains of the outfit. Everyone here at CONTROL knows that. That's why the Chief keeps her with me. I know he tries to keep faith in me, but without 99 I am not always adept at getting out of situations on my own. How could she do this to me…to…us? Max thought swiftly as he stood gaping at 99 for cancelling their date. Let alone anything else which may have still developed between them.

Larabee stood across 99's office as she spoke quietly with Max. Everyone knew that 99 was still hopelessly in love with Max. Others, like himself, tried to talk to Max to get him to reveal his feelings about 99 but Max was stubborn and somehow Max's ability to withstand torture at the hands of KAOS had hardened him to revealing any true feelings about anything. Sometimes Max was not a real nice person to speak too, either. Max resented anyone trying to dig for his emotions on any subject let alone get him to admit how he really felt about 99. He did not think he needed anyone to tell him anything especially about his partner. Larabee had tried on occasion to push them together. He was happily married and he knew that Max and 99 belonged together. He was sure they would be as happy married as he was with his wife.

The Chief, as another witness, had always known how much 99 adored Max. Down in his soul, the Chief also knew his sometimes lovable, but dense surrogate son loved 99 just as much. Max would willingly defend 99 and go after her no matter whether it was the main objective or not. The Chief knew they loved each other. Now if they would only tell each other how they felt.

"99, why are you going?" Max asked not quite making eye contact with his now former partner.

"A girl has to think of her future. I want to get married and have a family and Victor has given me the opportunity."

Max had wanted to ask her the big question: "Do you love him?", but he was too afraid what 99's response would be. If she really loved him, he knew there was nothing he could do to change her mind. 99 could be stubbornly loyal. Luckily for him she was because they may not have been standing there in her office today if she were not.

"Well, I'm leaving in the morning," 99 informed him.

"99, since you're not leaving until tomorrow morning, come with me anyway to the concert. Kind of a farewell date," Max stated hopefully. He thought that if he could get 99 alone for more than a couple of seconds she might change her mind and stay with him…he meant as his CONTROL partner.

"Oh, Max, why didn't you ask me weeks ago?" 99 asked. I know he loves me. Why doesn't he just say it? He's so transparent right now and hurt. The one thing I never wanted to do to him. Hurt him. He looks so lost right now. What am I going to do without him in my life? I don't love Victor but I can't bear after all this time to be only a part time companion when Max can't find anyone else to go out with him and his partner to make sure Max stays safe. It's not enough anymore: this cat -and -mouse game. We never share more than just an innocent kiss or a peck on the cheek. I can't go on like that forever. I would be his forever if Max would just say the words.

99 suffered once before a long time ago when she made the first move. She almost never became a spy.

Prom night 1956

Melissa Victoria Susan Haliburton (now known as Agent 99) was 17 and attended the senior prom in Twin Falls, ID, with her steady beau, Franklin Kilkenny. Kilkenny was the star quarterback for the high school team and Victoria (she called herself Victoria because she liked that name and hated the other two) was not only an accomplished dancer but the valedictorian of her graduating class.

"Come on, Frankie, don't you want me?"

"Of course, I want you, Vicky. But my parents…."

"What have your parent got to do with this?" Victoria asked.

She and Frankie had left the prom an hour earlier and were now sitting in his father's Thunderbird. They were planning to consummate their relationship, and Victoria had just known that Frankie wanted to go "all the way" with her because of all the signals he kept sending her. She had been wearing his school ring for a year now. At this last roadblock to their "first time" Victoria was anxious that Frankie not lose heart. After all, they did love each other, right? She and Frankie had discussed their future together many times previously and now Victoria could not stand the wait any longer.

"Well, for one thing, they'll know we did it in their car." Frankie a 6'2" tall, blonde, blue-eyed adonis was the envy of all of her Victoria's girlfriends. As Victoria was the envy of all of Frankie's fellow footballers. Victoria (99) at age 17 was 5'8" tall with dark brown hair usually worn in a pony tail and the largest baby blues this side of the Mississippi River. Victoria was very thin but she could wear anything and always looked like she stepped out from the pages of a fashion magazine.

"How are they going to know?" Victoria wondered. She knew Frankie was just as anxious as she was. Frankie's reputation was that he had done it before, but she and Frankie had been going steady since they were Freshmen and Victoria trusted him completely that he never was intimate with another girl.

"I don't know, really. Ok, if you want to," Frankie agreed placing his hand on Victoria's cheek.

"Yes, I do very much. I love you, Frankie," Victoria responded with a deep passionate kiss.

"And I love you, Vicky," Frankie murmured into Victoria's hair.

Both teenagers became very passionate in their realization of their desires, and he and Victoria made their Senior Prom night a most memorable one.

A few months later…

August 1956

Victoria Haliburton sat with her mother in the obstetrician's office. Victoria's normally vibrant blue eyes were sad and red rimmed. Victoria's mother sat next to her on the uncomfortable plastic chairs holding her hand and squeezing every time her daughter emitted a cry. Victoria, who had turned 18 the month before and graduated as valedictorian of her class, was afraid she was pregnant. She was always regular before and then all of a sudden she had not seen hide nor hair of her period. Then when she realized that she was probably pregnant, she weepingly told her mother what had happened Prom night two months ago. Victoria's mother was initally upset, but she also knew her daughter was not a common girl. She only would have had sex because she felt deeply for the boy. She took Victoria in her arms and said they would go to the doctor the next day and get a blood test to make sure and, if positive, find out how far along she really was.

Today was the day they were to get the results. For the last month, Victoria had resigned herself to having the baby and raising it on the farm with her parents. Her father again was away on a business trip and was still in the dark about Victoria's predicament. As with most things of major importance, it was easier to tell her father when he was not thinking about leaving on the next trip. Victoria's mother knew that her husband would not be understanding about this, so she wanted to prolong the inevitable as long as possible for all their sakes. Mrs. Haliburton loved her husband. She just was not crazy about his work…his real work as a spy. She never told her daughter what her father's real job was because she was afraid that Victoria would follow in his footsteps. Because the truth was that Victoria was a female version of her father. She looked like him; she approached life like he did, and she was afraid of nothing. So, Mrs. Haliburton kept her daughter in the dark. Anyway, if this test was positive, all thoughts of becoming a model let alone a spy were out of the question.

"Miss Haliburton, Mrs. Haliburton?" The nurse asked.

"Yes," Mrs. Haliburton said.

"The doctor will see you now," she said as she opened the door to the inner offices which hid behind the plain white wood waiting room door.

Victoria and her mother proceeded to Dr. Dayton's desk. Dr. Dayton was the epitome of a small town doctor. He was in his 60's with prematurely white hair and white mustache. He was also sort of portly and in December children mistook him for Santa. Victoria thought he was one of the kindest men she had ever met.

"How are we doing, ladies?"

"How are we doing, doctor?" asked Victoria. She just wanted him to cut to the chase. She had bitten her nails down to the quick waiting the 15 minutes in the waiting room while she contemplated every horrible thing in the world was wrong with her if she was not pregnant after all .

"Not so fast, young lady. I want to tell you something. I am not one to judge. I delivered you and your three siblings, Victoria, so I think I have known you for a very long time. I just want to say that the tests were…negative. You are not pregnant. However, before you jump for joy, I want to admonish you from getting in this position again. Babies, children, are no laughing matter. Being a young teenage mother is difficult from all stand points. So, I don't want to see you take another pregnancy test until you are married and likely to remain so.

"Thank you, doctor. I'll heed what you say," Victoria said gratefully standing up and shaking the doctor's hand and smiling widely.

"But, Dr. Dayton, why am I late?"

"Probably stress from graduating, working, etc,. You're still young. It happens," Dr. Dayton stated patiently.

"Thank you, doctor," repeated Mrs. Haliburton feeling inside relief that her daughter's dreams were not forfeit for the mischoice of one intense summer night.

Back to the present…

"99?" Max asked. "Where were you?"

"Oh, I was just remembering something from a long time ago," 99 said as she sheepishly looked back at her former partner.

"Well? Will you go with me one last time?" Max asked holding the tickets out for 99 to examine.

"No, Max, I don't think so."

It would hurt too much and porbably would come to nothing thought 99.

"Aw, please, 99. I'll tell you what. Since this may well be the last night we ever see each other, everything is on me," Max said smiling hoping against all hope that 99 would definitely change her mind.

"No, Max…I would love to…"

"Ok, I'll pick you up at 7:30. The show is at 9:00 pm…." Max stammered on happily.

"NO, Max! I can't. I have to catch a very early flight and the flight itself is 12 hours. If I miss my plane, Victor may not understand," 99 nearly sobbed. It was extremely painful to say no to Max, but she had to make a clean break once and for all.

"99…" Max said coming close to touching her with a restraining hand. He felt like he had waited too long to come to a decision and now he had made the wrong one and was falling off a cliff.

"Ok, 99. I'll miss you," Max stated and without even a kiss on the cheek walked out of her office feeling dejected and alone once again.

More Memories

1958

Victoria Haliburton was on a photo shoot in New York. At 19, Victoria had grown into the promises of early teens. She had actually grown another inch after her 18th birthday and filled out in the bustline a little bit more. However, the clothes that she modeled fell on her like they were all made for her. Every designer wanted her in their bevy of beauties. She had already graced the cover of two fashion magazines.

However, Victoria was dissatisfied. She found modeling boring and dull. She found that most women who held the position of model were beautiful, vapid, and extremely competitive. The only reason Victoria was still doing this was to save her money and attend a school she really wanted…spy school.

It took another two years for Victoria to achieve her dream. In 1960 she entered CONTROL spy school where she had been recommended by someone her father had known. Victoria did not understand the connection, but her dad had just said that he had sold this client a lot of greeting cards over the years. That was just before her father died. CONTROL spy school took two more years but finally at age 24 Victoria graduated at the top of her class, given her agent number, 99, and was shortly assigned as a chauffeur/spy/partner to one of CONTROL's top agents…Maxwell Smart.

Present day:

99 kept thinking of Max the whole 12 hours she rode in the plane to San Jirman. She knew it was wrong. A woman should never be thinking of the man she left behind when she was supposed to marry someone else. 99 wondered how Max was taking her exit.

Max's side of 99's exit.

Max followed Victor Royale to his private office and obtained instructions about his new position as Victor's bodyguard. Since arriving in the middle of the night on San Jirman therefore arriving before 99's scheduled arrival, Max was only too happy to investigate this Victor Royale. Now that he had saved the man's life Max was asked if he would accept the position of Victor's bodyguard. Max did just that. He thought that the position would give him an insight to who the suave, sophisticated, and alarmingly handsome man really was and why 99 would drop everything for him. Max thought of her excuses and began to wonder why she thought this guy was husband and father of her children material. Max had somehow realized that many times he and 99 would be about to kiss and something would stop them. Then there was the time with the Immobilo ring. He did take advantage, but 99 had acted so offended that Max swore he would never try anything like that again. Maybe he was really wrong this time. There was no denying it. He really wanted 99 for himself. After all no one, but no one, knew her like he did. She knew him like no other as well. They had been close partners and close friends and - he was in love with her.

Max had come to a conclusion. Well, if 99 thinks I'm giving her up that easily, she is dead wrong! Max would never admit how jealous he was, but he would make sure she was safe before he would relinquish her.

Thinking back, Max reflected that Ninety-nine was his teddy bear: never really appreciated and always taken for granted until like now when he really wanted to hold it. When he was 10 years old, Max's older brother Alex had cut up his teddy bear. His brother had always been mean to him.

"You're too old for teddy bears. You little pip squeak!" Alex belligerently told a ten-year-old Max.

Reflecting on the past, Max decided he would not let Victor tear his 99 apart and throw her away. He would do everything to stop that from happening. He was through taking 99 for granted. He only hoped his instincts about her feelings toward himself were correct.

Realization

Victor Royale introduced "Susan" to "Max Wheel". Then he was suddenly called away leaving Max and 99 alone.

"Max, what on earth are you doing here?" 99 asked tiredly. She had resigned herself to never seeing her true love again and now all the tumultuous and heavier feelings were being churned again deep within her heart.

"I came to see if you were all right," Max said with a slightly hurt look in his rather tiny brown eyes.

"Really, Max?" 99 asked hoping that Max's presence held a real purpose.

Max went on saying that he thought about his future, and he was tired of being a spy because like her he realized he had no real future. He did not mention that he knew he had no future without her.

"Is this the kind of life you really want, Max?" 99 asked. She knew how much Max loved being a spy. Something drastic would have to have happened before Max would change his mind about his profession. If losing her was not going to change Max's mind then this matter would.

"Is this the life you want?" Max asked 99 cleverly turning the tables on her.

She gave Max a feeble excuse about having jet lag and left him alone in the room.

Max's Memories

1940 May

"No, Alex, stop! It's mine! Ow, stop hitting me!" Maxwell Smart, only ten years old, skinny, dark haired, and small beady brown eyes tried to defend himself against his older brother, Alexander. Alexander Smart was 13 years old and was built like a truck. It seemed Alexander got all the handsome attributes. Alexander was blonde (like their mom), large brown eyes (mom, again) but tall and broad in his new adjusted pubescent body. Poor little Max had never been a match for him in a fight. However what Max lacked in ability and skill he made up for in intensity and heartiness.

"No, Alex, that's mine! I love Mr. Brown!"

"You're too big for a teddy bear, Maxie. Only babies play with them!" Alex taunted his little brother by holding up Mr. Brown and taking a kitchen carving knife and sliced Mr. Brown into little tiny pieces.

"Wait 'til Mom knows about this, Alex. You're gonna get it!" Max furiously taunted back trying to grab Mr. Brown's body to salvage something of him. Mom would sew him back together if and when she could. However Alex wasn't making it easy.

"Mom doesn't care. Oh that's right! You're her favorite. Well there's nothing left now!" Alex said as he took all the now cut-up pieces of Mr. Brown and scattered them to the floor - stuffings and all. Alex finally left the room where Max started to sob uncontrollably.

"Max, honey, what is going on?" Caroline Smart said dropping to her knees to take her small son in her arms.

Max pulled away because he did not want his mother or anyone to think that he was a crybaby. Wiping one hand over each eye, Max said,"Alex cut up Mr. Brown with the kitchen knife. He told me I was too old for a teddy bear!" Max then started to cry despite his resolve and sorrowfully collected the pieces of his one time stuffed friend. He placed the pieces in his mother's hand sand asked hopefully if she could sew him back together. Caroline Smart said Mr. Brown was irreplaceable but one day when they had some extra money she would buy him a new one.

Back to present

Max woke from his memory. Mom never replaced his teddy bear but when she knew his line of work was dangerous she had given him his St. Christopher's medal which he wore around his neck on a gold chain which he never removed. Even when KAOS would torture him and punish him, the medalion hung from his neck.

Victor was like Max's older brother. Not outwardly terrorizing him but somehow being bigger and stronger than Max. Ninety-nine was like Mr. Brown only, so far, there had been no attempt by Victor to hurt his 99. Max definitely did not want a repeat of what had happened to Mr. Brown happen to 99.

Suddenly Max was called to the casino floor to help close and lock the doors. Victor Royale's executive assistant was busy playing security guard so 99 and Victor would not be interrupted in their champagne supper. It was while he was securing this Roulette tables that Max's real evidence against Victor Royale was revealed.

Victor and 99

During the champagne supper, 99 had managed to dodge Victor's attempts to kiss her. After seeing Max, 99 wrestled with mixed feelings. She now knew she wanted nothing to do with Victor. Her heart had always belonged to Max and she knew now, even if he did not acknowledge it, that Max loved her. Finally pleading a headache and upset stomach, she begged Victor to go to her bed. Victor, unfortunately, had accompanied her to her room. He intimated that tonight was the last night before she was his in more than name only. Ninety-nine quickly shut her door and hoped that Victor did not realize she and Max had a past.

99 lay on the queen size bed. She leaned over and no sooner had she shut her eyes that a knock was on her door.

"99?" Max asked. "Are you awake?"

"Max?" 99 asked while rising from the bed and then opening the door. She opened it slightly, and Max pushed his way through to her bedroom.

"Where's Victor?" Max asked half expecting to see him pop out of the bathroom in his expensive satin bathrobe.

"I don't know, Max. What's this all about?"

"Come with me," Max said taking 99's hand leading her to Victor's offices.

When they arrived at Victor's offices, Max knocked on the door to make sure no one was inside to surprise them. When no response came from Max's vigorous knocking, Max took his credit card and jimmied the lock.

"Max what is this all about?" 99 asked constantly looking behind them both to make sure that Victor was not returing.

"It's gotta be here somewhere," Max said frantically looking for evidence to show 99 that here fiance was nothing but a cheat.

"Max, what are you talking about? What? What?"

"Look, 99, I don't have any proof in front of me, but your fiance is a cheat. I found a switch to rotate the roulette wheel under table. So I know he must be stashing someplace.

"Max, are you sure?" 99 asked. She knew something was not right. It was not just her heart which now more than ever belonged to the man who stood across from her now. However, the more Max talked about Victor, 99 realized that there was something secretive about Victor.

"99, you are just going to have to believe me. Your fiance is a cheat, a liar, and a….KAOS agent?" Max said as his pounding hand came down onto a switch which allowed a picture to rise from the wall beside where they stood. On the wall now uncovered by the raised picture was a world map with the large KAOS insignia emblazoned on it.

"It all seems like a bad dream!" 99 exclaimed as she placed her hands on her head.

"Well, we've got to get out of here. That's for sure! I'll call the Chief and let him know we're onto something. You can't let Victor know we're onto him. So go back to your room and pack and wait until I come for you," said Max coming around the desk putting his arm around 99.

She temporarily leaned placed her head on his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek. She then looked up at him and said very succinctly.

"No, Max. We're in this together. I want to be with you, and I want to make sure he doesn't hurt you," sobbed 99.

Max felt like a giant. He knew now for sure that 99 loved him. He kissed her gently on her lips and said, "Don't worry. I'll be fine."

Max walked 99 back to her room and helped her pack. She did the same with him. Then they went out to the lobby to arrange for transportation to the airport. The casino was quiet and empty. Max took 99's hand in his and pulled her to the one exit and the door bars suddenly lowered cutting off that access. So, they ran into the back of the casino just as they reached the back door bars lowered and cut off that exit as well.

Soon Victor had cornered them and after a curiously bad played hand at BlackJack Victor shot Max as he sat at the table. Once Victor and his wily assistant had placed a gun in Max's "dead" hand making it look like suicide, they proceeded to drag 99 to the door. Max suddenly rose up and after Victor's assistant insisted that Victor shot him dead Max knocking on his cumberbund said:

"The old bulletproof cumberbund trick." Evenutally Victor shot Max in the upper arm and escaped.

Shortly after this Max and 99 took the first flight back to the United States. While on the plane they talked not only about what had just happened but what had precipitated 99's hasty escape.

"Max, I am going to be honest with you. I want you to be completely honest with me no matter what, also. Agreed?" 99 asked looking straight into Max's warm eyes.

"When have I never been honest with you, 99? You're my partner. We can't have good partnership if I have never been honest. I don't lie. You know that!" Max said indignantly knowing that the moment when he finally had to reveal how much he loved 99 had finally come.

"Max," 99 drawled softly. "Shh…..". She put one long finger against his lips.

Max lightly kissed the finger laying against his lips. He signed heavily and took her hand in his. It was trembling and he gripped it tighter trying to stem his own trembling along with hers.

"Ok, 99. I promise."

"Good." She removed her hand from his and sat up straighter in her seat and turned to face him directly. Luckily the plane ride had so far suffered no turbulence so she had removed her seatbelt and sat turned directly in front of Max. She returned her hand to Max's and he put his other hand over it slowly massaging her hand gently.

"Max, I'm going to say something which I think you know, but I swore a long time ago to myself that I would never ever again say it first. Maybe I'll tell you why later, if you need to know.

Max sat there silently not wanting to anticipate what she was going to say. He almost hoped that she was going to tell him she loved him, but he could not be sure. Anyway, Max almost interrupted her twice as she approached the words he was anticipating. He wanted to be the one to say it first. After all he was the man. So, Max put his hand to 99's lips before she could say the words he hoped and dreaded she would say.

"99, I think I know what you are going to say. I want to say it first." Max removed his seatbelt and knelt on his knees in front of 99 situated between the seat in front of him and his seat. He still held 99's hands in both of his and looked up into her big blue eyes which had surprised tears standing in them.

"Max…don't.." 99 whispered.

"No, 99, I am going to say it first. I have wanted to tell you for a long, long time, but every time I try I don't because I don't want to spoil everything we have."

99 dared to hope. She almost felt it since she had told him she was going to marry Victor and quit CONTROL. She loved him so much and knew somehow that was what he was going to say. What a sweet guy. He wants to say it first. She knew Max was chivalrous (somewhat), so he wanting to say it first was really a wonderful gesture 99 thought worthy of her Max.

"99, I…I love you. I came to San Jirman for you. I didn't want you to marry Victor because you belong with me and not anyone else. You are my best friend and I can't think of spending my life with anyone else but you." Max raised his head and looked shyly up into 99's face.

"Max…"

"Now, I know 99, you may not feel the same way. But I'm glad I came anyway. Victor wasn't right for you. Besides he was a KAOS agent, who'd accept a marriage like that? A CONTROL agent married to a KAOS agent….

"Max!" 99 interrupted.

"I'm sorry…"

To shut Max up and show how happy she was that he truly loved her as much as she had always loved him kissed Max full on the lips. Much to her happiness, she felt Max return and deepen the kiss. 99 felt Max rise from his knees and with a little difficulty and the bumping of his head on the overhead compartment held her in his arms.

The other passengers who had listened to the intimate exchange between the two people, applauded when 99 hauled off and kissed her beloved Max.

When they opened their eyes and took a look around them, every one was still applauding and some wiped a tear from their eye.

Suddenly the stewardess brought a tray of champagne glasses filled with champagne.

"Congratulations," the attendant said as she distributed a glass of champagne to Max, 99, and the other passengers. "Compliments from the flight staff."

"Thank you…," Max said carefully accepting a glass of the chilled amber liquid. He really did not like being the center of attention with something this intimate, but one look at the large blue eyes and wide smile of his future wife…future wife? He would have to ponder that one for a bit, of course. With one look at his beautiful, beloved 99 everyone else aboard the plane faded into the background. She was his and she was going to be his for the rest of their lives if he had anything to say about it.

They linked arms and drank a quiet toast to themselves. As Max settled back into his seat, 99 put her head on his shoulder and whispered quietly into his ear, "I love you, too, Max. I always have."

Max smiled and turning his lips to 99's forehead kissed her gently and cuddled his head on top of hers. Content.