A/N. Anon Viewer Z: Thank you for continuing to review. Well, about the smell, Tabitha did fall right on top of Galatea in some chapter, so I'm sure God Eye took a moment to take in the scent =). I'm glad you approve of Detective Jean and I was watching the anime episode where Eva dies and I just felt so sad hence I just had to include her, so yeah more Eva and of course Jean in the upcoming chapters. As for Elizabeth, yep she's the same one with the Ghosts. Ophelia was outta control and I've forgotten completely about Roxy, so she'll turn up again and who knows there just might be an Ophelia/Roxanne showdown. Oh, Teresa and Galatea have a unique relationship, but I guess Galatea feels a grudging respect for Teresa not that she would admit it. And the rankings...
Rankings - Only field agents get rankings and I kinda ranked them according to their overall skills. Some of the agents are better in certain fields e.g. Cassandra - cover ups, Galatea - seduction, Elizabeth - assassination, Flora - undercover.
So here are the ranking for the Ghosts in Bar Mucha.
1st - Teresa, 2nd - Irene, 3rd - Galatea, 4th - Cassandra, 5th - Elizabeth, 6th - Cynthia, 7th - Helen, 8th - Flora
Flora is part time hence the low ranking. Dietrich and Raftela rarely take to the field so they don't figure in the rankings. Hope that explains stuff, enjoy the chapter.
Yeah, speaking of the chapter I tried, I really tried to write a romantic chapter but I ended up writing this...stuff...I don't even...No I can't find the words for it and its been so long, its all I have to offer =( . Oh, yeah its official I have completely and utterly butchered the personalities of the cast of Claymore...hey wait that happened way back in chapter one. Forgive me Norihiro Yagi!
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
She wasn't trying to avoid her, Miria reasoned as she moodily, splashed the milk into the row of coffee cups in front of her, oblivious of the mess she was making. It was just that since reaching the Ghost's safe house, she had felt constantly confused. She crushed the sides of the carton, spilling the final drops of milk that clung to the bottom, the emptying of the entire carton going unnoticed by the assassin as she tensed upon remembering the events that had occurred in the early hours of the morning.
The moment Tabitha's name was mentioned, Miria had pulled her hand away from Galatea. She had no idea why she felt a strange mixture of both guilt and disappointment. When they finally reached the safe house, her confusion had doubled as leaving the car she had caught Tabitha gazing intently at her and when she returned the gaze with a look of utter confusion, the hotel staff member had turned shyly away, a blush staining her cheeks. That had brought back the memories of a certain cleaning closet and Miria wondered if the chemicals from the detergents and disinfectants stored there were playing havoc with her mind because in all her life she had never been so damn confused. And confusion was the last thing she needed right now.
"You have an interesting way of making coffee."
Miria tensed at the familiar voice not bothering to acknowledge Galatea in the doorway, the agent leaning against the frame, hands in the pockets of her stolen security jacket. Instead, she searched the cupboards for a tray to put the cups on.
"Drawer, third from the bottom," Galatea's voice informed her.
Following her instructions, Miria bent down, pulled out the stuck drawer and discovered several neatly folded tablecloths. With a sigh, the assassin turned her attention to Galatea whose smirk had widened as she continued to observe. It was only when these observations led to the appearance of a sly smile of approval that realisation caught up with Miria. She had completely forgotten that she was wearing a miniskirt. Straightening up, she tugged self consciously at the hem in a futile attempt to lengthen the skirt as the agent stepped into the small safe house kitchen.
"Well, it has been a long time since I was last here," God Eye excused her mistake. She reached past Miria and retrieved a tray from one of the top cupboards.
She played with it thoughtfully within her hands as Miria became uncomfortably aware of how close they were. In an effort to gain control, Miria held out her hand for the tray as Galatea adopted a thoughtful expression in response to her gesture.
"Is this what you're looking for?" she asked.
She received no response, Miria continuing to wait expectantly for the agent to relinquish the tray.
"How do I know you won't hit me over the head with it when I give it to you?"
It was a valid question and the thought of it was oh so tempting that it brought the beginnings of a smile to Miria's lips.
"You'll just have to trust me," she murmured taking a step forward, which bringing her within inches of Galatea, allowed her to pluck the tray from the agent's hands.
The Phantom had fallen into the trap and Galatea, hands now free, wasted no time in slipping them around Miria's waist before drawing the assassin into her embrace.
"You need to relax otherwise you'll be no good to anybody," Galatea admonished, quite aware of how desperately Miria was fighting to mask the tension she felt, the strain having multiplied now that she found herself within the agent's arms.
"I doubt being embraced by you will help me to relax." Her tone was more hostile than she would have preferred, but the agent seemed as undaunted as always and looking the assassin directly in the eye, she had the audacity to whisper.
"I was hoping it wouldn't be that easy."
Having guessed her intentions, Miria stopped Galatea from proceeding further as she shoved the tray between them, the agent startled by the sudden barrier that was now inches from her face.
"Is this really necessary?" Even with her voice muffled, there was no mistaking Galatea's offended tone.
"You're incapable of learning," Miria retorted, the tray blocking her sight of the mischievous turn Galatea's smirk had taken.
"I find that the best way to learn is through a hands-on approach."
Galatea swore she could now feel the heat of Miria's murderous gaze for despite the tray's presence, the Phantom had just realised that throughout their conversation, Galatea's hands had wandered from her waist and were daringly about to lift the hem of her skirt. In a second the tray had vanished as Miria sharply tapped it against the wandering hands effectively halting their movement.
"How do you manage to be so single minded?" Miria demanded wearily.
"I prefer to use the word determined…" Galatea eyed the tray as she spoke. "As for the reason, you should be well aware of that, Miria."
"How am I responsible for your friskiness?" Miria asked as Galatea eased the tray from her hand and placed it a safe distance away from her grasp.
"Because I never know where I stand with you." Galatea touched the visor of Miria's captain's cap. "You're kissing me then you're punching me and it gets awfully confusing."
"You're not the easiest person to get along with."
"I thought I was quite easy," God Eye murmured.
"Maybe that's why I can't stand you," Miria whispered aware of the rapidly shrinking space between them.
"Sounds like you're jealous." Galatea's smirk had become smug.
"Jealous?" Miria scoffed. "I think that's your ego talking."
"I think we need to stop talking," Galatea muttered. She was quite mystified that throughout the conversation despite the intimacy of their position she had yet to claim a kiss.
"I will hit you," Miria threatened, the words doing little to stop Galatea who inched forward to remedy the situation.
"Then I'll just have to be quicker."
"You can't beat me when it comes to speed," Miria warned.
"True," Galatea confessed. "But I do have the edge when it comes to technique."
With a small flick, Galatea knocked the cap from Miria's head and momentarily distracted, the assassin found herself pushed against the bench top with only a second to react before Galatea kissed her cutting off her exclamation. And this time, not hesitating to respond, Miria grabbed the lapels of Galatea's jacket and pulled her closer. The agent had none of Tabitha's caution, the kiss more involved than anything that had happened during the entire episode within the closet. And there had definitely been no alcohol present that time. Miria shoved Galatea away, grimacing as she tasted the alcohol upon her own lips. Struggling to keep her voice steady, she demanded.
"What the hell have you been drinking? And when did you even have time to have a drink?"
"Oh, probably around the same time you were getting acquainted with Tabitha," Galatea answered miffed that she had been pushed away only after one kiss.
"God Eye," Miria sighed as she tried to placate her. "Can we talk about this at a more fitting time?"
"There's no need, I don't want to know the details." The agent dismissed the subject choosing to gaze at Miria until the edges of her lips began to form into an approving smirk.
"I'm quite surprised actually," Galatea admitted. "That Tabitha doesn't have a black eye."
Miria fought to keep her face impassive but her situation was not helped at all as Galatea was now close enough for her to smell the aroma of the whiskey upon her breath. Quickly, distancing herself from the agent by returning to the cups of coffee, Miria grabbed the first cup and shoved it into Galatea's hands.
"I think your coffee's gone cold," she weakly pointed out.
The agent took a cautious sip grimacing at the overly milky taste. Had Miria emptied half the carton into her cup? It was clear that coffee making wasn't one of the Phantom's skills. Still she wasn't very fond of the beverage and used its bitter taste only for emergencies.
"It doesn't matter," Galatea told her noticing that Miria had placed the other two cups upon the tray.
As she placed her cup beside the others, Galatea met the Phantom's curious look. After all, it had been her request for coffee that had led Miria to the kitchen in the first place.
"I wanted the coffee to get rid of a bad aftertaste, but…" Galatea trailed off to lick her lip. "You've taken care of that."
The Phantom looked unimpressed. Her eyes flickered to take in Galatea's pensive expression as God Eye deliberately licked the corners of her mouth again as if the bad taste she spoke of still lingered faintly.
"Actually…" Her smirk warned Miria she wasn't going to like what she said next. "There's a faint trace of it."
In a mere moment, Galatea had invaded Miria's personal space and was clearly enjoying it.
"Care to help me with it?" she asked innocently.
"I don't think I'm capable of taking on your whiskey breath."
Galatea laughed at Miria's response.
"It's not the whiskey I'm worried about" she confided.
"Must have been something terrible," Miria muttered no longer gazing into Galatea's eyes, her stare instead focused upon the agent's lips that were much too close to hers.
"You have no idea," Galatea managed to whisper. Miria, growing tired of the agent's teasing took charge of the situation and locking her arms firmly around God Eye's neck she used her hold to pull her forward into a swift kiss.
In her defence, Galatea reasoned as she enjoyed the familiar sensation of Miria kissing her, she had started out with good intentions. She had merely dropped by the kitchen to check on the progress of the coffee that Miria was taking forever to make. And then…. the coffee had taken second priority as things often did when she had Miria in her arms.
Miria ended the kiss by pulling away. Galatea felt most disappointed as in her opinion the assassin had ended it far too early. Now familiar with the taste of the alcohol, Miria glanced uncomfortably at Galatea.
"Is it gone now?" she asked quietly.
"Not yet," Galatea hummed happily. The assassin guessed her unspoken request and repeated her action.
"How about now?" Miria asked, her tone edged with a faint hint of amusement.
"No." Galatea decided to push her chances and added with a dramatic sigh. "It's still there."
Miria took the bait and kissed her again. Although the kiss was noticeably longer this time, it still betrayed a hesitation on Miria's part. But where was the fun in that? As Galatea initiated their next kiss, Miria loosened her grip upon Galatea's neck and with what little resistance the assassin had left totally gone, her hands slipped towards the agent's shirt. Finding the tie, Miria wrapped it around her fingers. She was quite surprised when Galatea abruptly broke off the kiss as she jerked her head back, a worried look on her face.
"I don't think a head butt will help it to go away." The words were spoken in a rush, Galatea desperate to avoid a repeat of the last time her tie had been grabbed by a Staff assassin.
Thoroughly confused by the agent's reaction, the Phantom's expression soon turned to one of annoyance as Galatea insisted on keeping the distance between them, the only thing stopping her from leaving the embrace being Miria's hold on her tie.
"It's a long story…" Galatea began, but once again she misinterpreted the assassin's scowl. Miria growled at her as she yanked upon the tie and brought the agent forward to end their-tug-of-war.
In preparation, the agent gritted her teeth, waiting for the moment when the Phantom's skull would smash into hers. Only it never happened. Miria brought her closer, stopping inches from her face. Galatea couldn't help but feel slightly excited at the angry look the assassin was giving her.
"Tell me when the taste's gone," she instructed.
Galatea blinked, confused at her words until Miria making everything clear, found Galatea's lips again. Ah, that was one great way to use a tie, Galatea thought as she was momentarily surprised by this sudden emergence of aggression. But oh, she could so willingly get used to this side of the Phantom. Deciding to take full advantage of the situation, Galatea returned the kiss while Miria pulled the loop free and tossed the tie away. Much to the agent's surprise, she felt Miria interlink their fingers to stop them from wandering further. Keeping a firm grip, Miria guided their hands towards the last place, the agent had expected. Okay, breathe, Galatea reminded herself. Things were moving faster than she had anticipated as her hands brushed against the zipper of the assassin's miniskirt.
God Eye brought them to a halt as she silently asked Miria's permission to continue. The assassin gave her the affirmative and drew her into another kiss as she pulled back the lapels of the jacket, determined to divest Galatea of her clothing first. Oh, well if you insist, Miria. Galatea's mind was beginning to get a little hazy and she fumbled as she attempted to undo the zipper. Damn. She gritted her teeth. Usually she was so efficient at removing clothing.
An impatient tug at the lapels focused her attention on Miria who cursed as the jacket refused to slip off the agent's shoulders. With a smirk, Galatea clumsily slipped out of the garment and returned to kissing her. Miria used this opportunity to slip the agent's iphone from the inner pocket before allowing the jacket to fall to the floor. As she returned Galatea's kisses, their hands wandered back to the zipper. Galatea's attention was directed towards the removal of Miria's skirt until, catching sight of someone in the doorway, paused mid-way through a phone conversation, she froze.
The spark of amusement in her usually bored silver eyes only intensified upon seeing the look of irritation from Galatea. Miria glanced up and following Galatea's gaze, her expression turned to one of instant mortification as she noticed who had caught them in this very compromising position.
"Oh," Teresa murmured into the phone as she gave the two of them a cursory glance. "Gala's going to have to call you back, boss."
An understanding hum followed as Teresa nodded along while listening to Irene's response. God Eye's irritation had faded to be replaced by a hopeful look as she gestured with her hand behind Miria's back, silently asking.
"Five more minutes?"
Teresa gave her fellow Ghost a truly apologetic shrug.
"Two more minutes?" Galatea continued her silent compromise holding up two corresponding fingers only to sigh as Teresa tossed her the phone.
With her finely tuned reflexes, Galatea caught the phone and raised it to her ear. She instantly regretted it as Irene's voice thundered from the phone. The intensity of her screaming was enough to send Miria jumping out of Galatea's arms and scrambling to rearrange her clothing.
Unable to look Teresa in the eye, she hurriedly left the kitchen, missing the concerned look Galatea gave her as she watched her retreat. Now in the corridor outside the kitchen, Miria pressed her back to the wall as she struggled to regain her composure while Teresa vanished into the kitchen. With a groan, Miria placed her head within her hands. Damn it. She hadn't meant to get so carried away but she had been completely captivated by the moment.
She was thankful that Teresa had good timing for she knew full well what would have occurred if Galatea's comrade hadn't interrupted them. She would have become another name on God Eye's incredibly long list of conquests. But then, in the kitchen she had wanted something more, some meaning beyond attraction because despite her flirtatious, overbearing and egotistical faults, Galatea, well she wasn't all that bad. Her head thumped miserably against the wall as her earlier confusion cleared. Oh, damn it, she really hated epiphanies.
Upon reflection, Miria realised that the best place to hide post epiphany was not in the next room where she was struggling to resist the urge to thump her head into the nearest object over this latest example of her stupidity. Galatea had finished her phone conversation and was currently eyeing her with a look she couldn't quite place but whatever it was it was making her damn uncomfortable.
She shifted self-consciously on the couch. It suddenly came to her attention that she had forgotten that couches, while comfortable, were highly dangerous places to be especially when a certain agent brazenly sat down beside her. She idly wondered if Galatea was even aware of the concept of personal space but a glance at God Eye looking far too pleased with herself informed Miria that she just didn't give a damn. The silence hung between them, the safe house feeling far too big with the absence of the civilians. It was just the two of them within the meeting room. Teresa was still in the kitchen.
"That was a quick phone call." Miria said the first thing that entered her head to deter Galatea from advancing any further for she knew from past experience the agent would be only too happy to continue as if this interruption had never occurred.
And Miria needed to stop her approaches because it would be unwise to allow her attraction to once again take control. The room suddenly felt too hot and Miria was sure that the slow burning open fireplace had little to do with it. Her eyes flickered towards Galatea taking in the absence of the tie, a lingering reminder of what had happened.
"The boss put the phone down surprisingly quickly," Galatea admitted freely. She added to Miria's discomfort as she slung her arm over the back of the couch, dangerously close to the assassin.
"I didn't think she'd approve." Miria glanced down at the floor berating herself for her lack of control.
"Teresa might have put in a good word," Galatea informed her. This drew a sympathetic look from Miria.
"She seems to care about you." Miria couldn't help giving voice to what she had observed of their interactions.
"We've always been somewhat close," Galatea admitted, gazing at the fireplace. "Despite her fascination for interruptions."
"You mean she's… done that before?" Miria asked cautiously.
"Frequently," Galatea confided with a yawn as she moved to snuggle closer to Miria oblivious of the sudden tension in the assassin's body.
Pulling at the tips of her fringe in irritation at these memories, Galatea leaned her head upon the Phantom's shoulder. Miria cricked her neck in her haste to dislodge Galatea and turn her head away from the agent. The irritating memories faded as understanding dawned and Galatea looked up to see a less than pleased Miria.
"Actually, Miria, that's the first time I've ever been caught in a kitchen."
Miria resisted the urge to roll her eyes at this observation. She really shouldn't have deluded herself into believing that Galatea was capable of being serious considering the woman stank of alcohol. The assassin tilted her head away to avoid smelling the whiskey upon her breath.
"How much did you drink?" Miria sighed.
"No idea," Galatea frowned, half concentrating. "Half…no about a bottle of scotch. It was Chivas, and I have no regrets."
Satisfied with her answer, God Eye shifted upon the couch getting more comfortable as she curled up against Miria.
"You're soused," Miria murmured, affection creeping into her voice as she tucked a stray strand of Galatea's blonde hair behind her ear. The agent mumbled contentedly.
Pulling herself away from Miria, Galatea fixed her with the best smirk she was currently capable of and whispered.
"Miria…you're pretty…" she paused slurring her next word. "Observant…"
She went to kiss her, misjudged the distance and instead kissed the corner of the assassin's mouth. Tugging at the top button of her own shirt, Galatea fumbled to undo it as the heat of the room began to get to her. She placed her elbow on the back of the couch and cradled her head trying to look at Miria as she fought the sudden urge to succumb to the comfortable couch and fall asleep.
"If Teresa hadn't…Would you have regretted it?" Galatea managed not to slur the words despite the sleepy tone that was invading her voice.
With barely a sound, the Phantom glanced at Galatea and quickly shifted back beside her. Miria's hand lifted to lightly caress her cheek, the agent's eyes doing their best to track the movement. Receiving a message, her blackberry buzzed alive. Miria withdrew to answer it.
"Miria?" Galatea questioned as the Phantom looked at the screen.
A melancholy smile formed as Miria turned to meet her questioning gaze.
"I know I'll regret this."
Miria held up the phone. Galatea's eyes widened in recognition as her hand made its way towards the inner pocket of her security jacket and found it empty.
"I'm quite impressed." Galatea returned the Phantom's smile. "Would you like to steal anything else?"
Moving with the speed she was renowned for, Miria pressed fleetingly against Galatea, placed a kiss to her bruised eye and removed the keys for the silver Honda Civic from the agent's shirt pocket.
"I'm sorry," Miria whispered regretfully.
She drew back the lapel of Galatea's jacket and slipped the phone back into the inner pocket before looking at the agent one final time.
"Miria, if we'd had more time I'd have forgiven you completely."
The agent found it hard to continue as the room began to blur around her. Arms encircled her as Miria caught her before she tumbled from the couch. As Galatea slumped against her shoulder for support, the Phantom's breath was warm against her ear as she spoke her parting words.
"Staff's on the way. You've got twenty minutes."
Two Hours Earlier – The Ghosts Safe House
It had always been a point of contention among the Ghosts as to who was the scariest of their number. Cynthia was now rethinking her choice as she shifted uncomfortably under Raftela's stare which was beginning to reach the icy depths of Irene's trademark scowl. The interrogator awaiting their arrival had been displeased to find that her comrades were in the company of civilians. This had significantly delayed the plan to pump Orsay for information and if the growing intensity of her stare was any indication, it had put Raftela in a foul mood.
The medic turned to the two comrades beside her, all thoughts of support vanishing upon seeing that Teresa and Galatea were completely ignoring the interrogator. Teresa was disinterestedly checking the rounds in her shotgun, the barrel covering Orsay's unconscious form lying propped up in a corner of the room. And Galatea? Well her eyes had yet to leave the Phantom who was in the next room and flat out ignoring her. With a sigh, Cynthia squared her shoulders as she met Raftela's stare. She nearly missed the interrogator's barely perceptible nod in the direction of the meeting room where the civilians huddled around the fireplace, the Phantom a short distance apart.
"They were compromised," Cynthia justified, her voice slightly muffled by the ice pack she held to her bruised face. "We had no choice but to extract them."
"Have you assessed their threat levels?" Raftela's eyes flickered briefly over each of the civilians.
"No." Cynthia knew where the interrogator was heading with her line of inquiry. "And you can't talk to them either," she added very firmly.
"It would be only a preliminary investigation," Raftela assured her.
"I suggest we follow the same procedure as always," Galatea cut in, her eyes still following Miria who having grown annoyed with her staring had retreated into the adjourning corridor.
"That's too dangerous without assessing them first," Raftela argued. "The mission was compromised and they might be to blame."
"Staff already knew I wasn't Hysteria Rabona."
A click broke the silence following Galatea's statement, Teresa having reloaded her weapon.
"Miria was alerted to the compromise by that assassin," Galatea continued as Cynthia and Teresa nodded upon the mention of Ophelia.
"Can we trust the Phantom's word?" Raftela cautioned. "We cannot forget that she was once loyal to the organisation."
"Miria didn't betray us." Galatea was quick to defend her.
"And what are you basing that upon?" Raftela's gaze narrowed in on Galatea. "We don't even know what her agenda is or why she approached us offering her help in taking down an organisation she had dedicated her entire life to."
"It's a coincidence that the Phantom was the first to find out about the compromise," Cynthia chimed in. "We were discovered alarmingly quickly. They must have had Galatea under surveillance from the start considering they knew I was working with you."
"When did you become aware the mission was compromised?" Raftela asked.
"Miria and I separated," Galatea recalled, clearly irritated. "When we reunited she said we had been compromised and then the security found us and they knew I was a Ghost."
"Are you sure the Phantom didn't lead you to the security?"
Galatea heard the accusation in Raftela's question and she didn't like it one bit as a sinking realisation formed. Miria had picked the door that led them stumbling into the quarters of Orsay's security detail. Knowing her question had at last unsettled Galatea, Raftela rose from her seat but was stopped as a hand was placed upon her arm.
"I'll interrogator her." God Eye's voice was as steady as her gaze.
"It would be far quicker if I did," Raftela argued. "Staff probably has this safe house's location. We need to leave as quickly as possible."
"This will only take a minute," Galatea winked rising from the couch. She headed out into the corridor in search of Miria, her three comrades watching her departure.
"What about the civilians?" Cynthia brought their attention to their next problem as Raftela and Teresa exchanged looks.
Raftela was the first to break the silence and allowing herself the merest reflection of a frown she took her phone from her pocket and dialled a number. Each of the Ghosts agreed that when it came to waking up a sleeping Deneve, the choice of running from a hail of bullets seemed by far the better option.
Leaning against the railing of the dimly lit veranda of the safe house, Miria listened to the dial tone of her blackberry. As per routine, he picked up on the third ring, his gravelly voice greeting her.
"Phantom?" The satisfied smirk could be imagined from the tone of Ermita's voice. "I was expecting your call."
"I got your message." Miria spoke through clenched teeth as she glanced at the entrance to the house, checking that she was still alone.
"It hurt me to send it to you," Ermita admitted. "Not for a second did I ever doubt your loyalty, having raised you from the start. Care to inform me where I went wrong?"
"Hilda's your niece." Miria fought to keep her anger in check.
"And a most useful bargaining chip, especially where you're concerned. You always did care for her too much," Ermita sighed. "That's why you could never beat Ophelia."
Miria's grip tightened on the phone at the mention of her fellow assassin.
"You wouldn't," she whispered unable to stop from choking out the words.
"She is my niece," Ermita reminded her. "We'll do the exchange at Paburo Park, Orsay for Hilda. Oh and I want Orsay alive. You've got two hours, Phantom before I give her to Ophelia and you know how well they get along."
The line went dead as Miria quickly accessed her outgoing call log. She didn't have long. Staff had used the call to track her location. They wanted a two for one deal with the reacquisition of Orsay and the opportunity to capture the Ghosts. Using Hilda had assured them that Miria would deliver both. The Phantom gritted her teeth and scrolling through the menu found the GPS tracking program the Ghosts had loaded onto her phone before that very first debriefing with the boss which now seemed so long ago. She would just have to return the favour. Accessing the program, Miria keyed in the number and waited impatiently as the location was found. Her screen filled with a map, a blinking dot showing Ermita's location.
Miria swore as she recognised it. He was at Hilda's place. Her phone buzzed showing a message coming from Ermita's phone log and informing her of the number he was currently dialling. Keying in the number, Miria's screen split into two maps, one showing Ermita's location and the other showing the location of the person she knew would be the leader of the Staff hit team soon to be heading to the safe house.
"The lengths you go to hide from me."
Shoving the phone out of sight, Miria turned to face Galatea who had come out onto the veranda.
"God Eye." Miria greeted her causally while steeling herself as Galatea's silver eyes inspected her figure.
The inspection was devoid of the usual signs of appreciation. There was no spark within her eyes, just a hard analytical gaze so uncharacteristic of God Eye. And in an instant it softened.
"Miria, do you want to tell me what's going on?"
Sometimes she really hated how transparent the agent could make her feel, but there was too much at stake to take Galatea into her confidence. Hilda would be nothing more than a means to an end for the Ghosts. Her face betraying none of the emotions that raged within her, Miria gave Galatea a pointed look.
"Tabitha got scared," she confessed.
She realised how much she had missed Galatea's smirk as it made its reappearance. The agent laughed silently as she made her way to the railing following Miria's lead and leaning upon it with the back of her elbows.
"And she's very affectionate when scared," Galatea concluded. "But I wasn't referring to our hotel staff member."
"Then who were you referring to?" Miria asked pushing off the railing so she could face Galatea.
"What happened in Hotel Pieta, Miria?"
It was Miria's turn to laugh, her smile becoming playful.
"Far too much. I can't believe you were that fascinated by Anastasia," she teased.
"Actually, I was paying more attention to you."
Oh no. Don't you dare make this harder than it already is, Miria thought to herself. Galatea took note of the assassin's fading smile.
"What did that assassin say that made you fly into a blinding rage?" Galatea asked casually, startling Miria with the unexpected question.
Various emotions flickered across the Phantom's face before Miria regained control, her impassive mask slipping into place.
"She mentioned something about our childhood," Miria confided. She returned to the railing, gazing out at the sky that was beginning to fill with an orange tint signalling the beginning of dawn.
"I've known that assassin, Ophelia since I was three years old," she further confided. "We were trained together along with a third member."
"Is that third member alive?"
Miria's grip tightened around the railing. She wouldn't be alive much longer Miria thought. Her only chance of survival lay within a betrayal. She had to betray Galatea.
"Hilda's alive." Miria's voice shook upon saying the name of the woman she considered the most important person in her life.
"She wasn't cut out to be an assassin." Miria smiled ruefully. "So I swore to myself I would get her out of Staff. Although she was born in Staff she could never belong to that family so I made a promise that I would give her the freedom she wanted."
"And that's why you approached us." Galatea connected the pieces.
"She'd talked about a normal life," Miria smiled at the memory. "I just wanted to give her that life."
"It's a remarkably different life from what I imagine you've lead," Galatea murmured.
"I don't want to be a part of this…" Miria gestured vaguely struggling for the words. "This world anymore."
Withdrawing from the railing, Miria faced Galatea.
"I don't believe you can defeat Staff," she confessed. "That's not what I want. Once Hilda's free then I'm out. I'm not in your fight God Eye."
That analytical gaze settled upon Miria once again as Galatea pondered her words. And guilt gnawed at the assassin when all God Eye did was nod in agreement.
The snapping of Raftela's phone drew Teresa's gaze from the window where she had been watching her fellow Ghost conversing with the Phantom.
"We're to meet the forger within the hour," Raftela informed her. "She'll need to see the civilians face to face in order to craft new identities."
"Then you and Cynthia can make that date." Teresa ignored the look Raftela gave her.
"What are you planning?" Cynthia questioned.
"Oh, nothing yet." Teresa dismissed the question waving over her shoulder as she left the room.
Silence greeted her departure Cynthia and Raftela exchanging glances confirming that they were thinking exactly the same thing that when it came to teamwork, agents one and three played by their own rules.
Shivering slightly in the cold morning chill, former receptionist Anastasia eyed the boot with trepidation as she gave the woman who had spun her world right off its tracks, a worried glance.
"Are you sure he's alright?" she asked upon hearing the unmistakable thumps coming from the boot of the silver sports car. He was after all her former boss.
"I'll guarantee his safety." Galatea's reassurance rang hollow as one could hardly be expected to believe her, judging from the almost languid tone of her voice as she leant causally upon the veranda railing.
"Well until we reach headquarters," she added truthfully.
Anastasia sighed helplessly and shook her head as she absent-mindedly played with the edge of the nondescript shirt she now wore. It was strange to be wearing clothing that didn't restrict her breathing. She was thankful that she had exchanged her miniskirt for the cargo pants that now protected her against the chill of the morning.
"So…?" she asked tentatively offering a small shrug when she found herself at a loss for words.
"You can trust your driver." Galatea nodded in the direction of the stern woman who stood at the far end of the veranda. She had just finished talking to Teresa and was moving towards them.
Raftela gave Galatea a nod and reluctantly passed over the keys of her silver Honda Civic. As she walked towards the other car she glanced briefly at Anastasia. Even though it was brief, the receptionist couldn't shake the feeling that the woman had just dissected her with that single look and it was enough to make her shiver. Galatea stepped from the veranda to reassure her.
Grateful for the comforting touch upon her arm, Anastasia gave the agent what she hoped was a convincing smile.
"She'll get you to your destination," Galatea promised, the languid tone vanishing for something more sincere. "And if you don't trust her then there's always the other one."
She gestured towards Cynthia who was leaning on Yuma for support. The two of them had become inseparable since sharing the front passenger seat during the escape from Hotel Pieta. The chef had only been too keen to offer the injured medic the use of her shoulder before their arrival at the safe house where Raftela had been waiting for them.
"Yuma seems rather fond of her," Anastasia observed, noticing the tender expression upon her friend's face as she and Raftela helped Cynthia into the car.
"I wouldn't blame her," Galatea smirked. "But the two of them are far too trusting."
"Isn't that detrimental for a spy?" Anastasia turned back to the agent, her curiosity piqued.
"She was compromised from the start," Galatea answered cryptically. "But she'll get you there safely."
"And where's that?" Anastasia questioned, unable to keep the apprehensiveness out of her voice. "I don't even know the place."
Unknown to the receptionist, her fists had clenched during her admission and it was only when Galatea's hands closed around them did they uncurl. God Eye ran her thumb soothingly over Anastasia's palm as she looked past the receptionist, her gaze thoughtful.
"Toulouse," God Eye spoke, acknowledging the name with a smirk. "I think you'll like it there, it's not a bad city."
"Have you carried out a mission there?" Anastasia asked, her voice considerably more relaxed as she watched Galatea.
She didn't like the way God Eye's smirk widened as she released their hands in favour of slipping her own into the pockets of her stolen security jacket.
"Several actually," Galatea winked. "But my profession has a silly rule. All that happens within a city is to remain top secret."
Her response made Anastasia genuinely laugh and a fond look overtook her features as she took in the sight of the agent clad in the jacket of her boss's security, her tie perfectly adjusted and looking every bit a menacing guard. She would be sure to remember her much more affectionately. The thought made her smile as she realised that she didn't even know her name.
"I guess it's a national secret then," Anastasia relented. "But I don't think I want to know, especially when it concerns you."
She emphasised her words with a playful tap to Galatea's shoulder.
"Speaking of national secrets, am I allowed to know your real name Miss Rabona?"
"God Eye," Galatea answered without missing a beat and enjoying the sceptical look Anastasia gave her.
"You're joking," she accused.
"I'm being very serious," Galatea assured her. "The God bit is fairly explanatory…"
She paused to scan Anastasia's figure, while offering her that charming smile which had been responsible for utterly capturing the receptionist's infatuation.
"And I do have an Eye for the finer details."
"I've noticed," Anastasia murmured, hands clasping behind her back as she felt an uncharacteristic surge of melancholy.
"If I had known you were a spy," the receptionist stepped closer to confide, "I think I would have thought about it more, after all the trouble you've caused."
"I'd like to think that I was worth the trouble," Galatea joked bringing her out of her melancholy mood, a lighthearted expression forming upon the receptionist's face.
Standing on tip-toes to reach the agent's height, Anastasia whispered into Galatea's ear.
"You see that's precisely the problem…you were."
Still smiling, Anastasia stepped away, satisfied with being responsible for the intrigued expression now emerging on God Eye's features. She turned happily and made her way to the silver sports car, pausing at the back door. Glancing back at the agent, she farewelled her. Galatea chose to respond with a simple wave. Smile widening, Anastasia climbed into the back of the car, her thoughts firmly fixed on the woman she would find so difficult to forget.
What was she expecting? Tabitha shifted from one foot to the other unable to break the sudden silence. And it seemed that Miria was also out of ideas, the assassin tracing the corners of her blackberry staring at the screen erratically. It was as if she was trying to avoid Tabitha's gaze at all costs. The former hotel staff member's shoulders slumped at the possibility. Well, there was no need to delay the inevitable. She might as well clench her teeth and say goodbye.
Tabitha glanced up at Miria, a forlorn smile forming as she looked at the familiar staff uniform of Hotel Pieta. It was strange really, that Miria was wearing the uniform while she had discarded it in favour of more casual clothing. Well, at least she would get to keep this memory of the glorious way the uniform emphasised Miria's every curve. And she would remember those piercing silver eyes that stared curiously back at her having flickered up from the screen just in time to catch Tabitha's lingering stare. Oh, now she felt stupid and embarrassed. Deciding to cut her losses, Tabitha mumbled a few quick words before turning to leave.
"Tabitha." The unfamiliar sound of her name caused her to pause and look back inquiringly at Miria who had tucked her blackberry out of sight.
"I apologise," she said simply. "It was rude of me, especially considering all your help."
Removing the battered captain's cap from her head, surprise spread across Miria's face as she assessed the damage to the cap for the first time.
"Umm…" She looked so worried that it was somewhat comical. Tabitha was unable to suppress a giggle. Miria looking guiltily up at her as she gingerly held out the cap for her to take.
"I'm sorry about the damage."
"Don't worry about it." Tabitha fondly ran her hand across the battered visor. By the nervous way she ran her hand through her spiky hair it was obvious that Miria wanted to say more.
"That time, when you kissed me…" Miria broached the subject hesitantly.
Ah, she was going to bring it up, Tabitha thought dejectedly. She was going to shoot her down.
"I like you," Tabitha confessed quietly, concentrating on her fidgeting hands. "From the moment I saw you."
There was silence as Miria processed the information and when she spoke the astonishment was evident in her tone.
"I didn't know," she confessed just as softly. "Tabitha…my world…I'm not the type of person you should like…"
Her voice faded into silence again as a trembling finger was placed against her lips in an effort to stop whatever consolation she was about to voice. Shot down at point blank range and feigning cheerfulness, Tabitha still refused to look at Miria.
"I know," she said simply, a poignant smile tugging at the corner of her lips.
Tabitha dropped her hand limply to her side and backed away, a sudden change coming over her features. She glanced down at the captain's cap she held. Returning Miria's remorseful look, she strode confidently back to the assassin. Stopping in front of her and twirling the cap between her fingers she startled Miria with her sudden movement as she replaced the cap upon the assassin's head. Tabitha frowned in concentration as she adjusted the angle and once satisfied with her work, she stepped back nodding approvingly. With a look as if she was imparting a vital secret and with all traces of dejection gone, Tabitha leaned forward to murmur.
"You're too caught up with her to notice and I hope it works out." She gave the cap a playful tap. "But if it doesn't you know where to find me, Captain Miria."
The Phantom's eyes widened upon feeling the gentle brush of Tabitha's lips against her cheek. It was just as cautious but the awkwardness was gone. Her words left Miria confused and sensing it, Tabitha gave her an enigmatic smile as she pulled away. Without a backward glance she departed and as the doors of the silver sports car shut behind her and as the engine roared into life, Tabitha glanced back, noting that Galatea was now with Miria, the two of them watching the car as it departed. Leaning back on the seat, she avoided Anastasia's look and chose to gaze out the window. She silently wished Miria the best of luck as that relationship was going to need it.
The soft kick of an engine starting up, interrupted Teresa's thoughts concerning the suspiciously milky coffee in front of her. The number one Ghost made her way to the window just in time to see the Honda Civic pull out of the drive. Oh, she knew she shouldn't have trusted Galatea with the keys. Abandoning the coffee, Teresa left the kitchen and made her way towards the meeting room where she found her fellow Ghost face down upon the couch. With an affectionate sigh, Teresa nudged her and in return elicited a muffled groan from Galatea.
"Gala," she called.
Hazy eyes fought to focus on Teresa as God Eye sluggishly pulled herself up into a sitting position on the couch.
"Miria?" she asked weakly.
"Gone," Teresa confirmed. "What is it about your charm that makes women want to steal our cars?"
"She's different," Galatea informed her grumpily, squeezing her eyes closed. "Staff hit team. Be here in twenty minutes."
"Oh, that can't be good," Teresa sighed, her voice faintly muffled as she left the room.
"I really wish you would stop falling for the troublesome ones," she added upon re-entering the room carrying her shotgun and ignoring Galatea grumbling response.
Teresa crouched by the small window, her keen eyes scanning the narrow strip of light coming from veranda. There were far too many places Staff could attack from. She turned back to find that Galatea had resumed her slumped position upon the couch. Oh, well she would be getting no help from her. The number one Ghost checked her ammunition. Eight rounds all up. She would just have to improvise.
Being at the bottom of the food chain ensured that one always got the worse jobs Staff had to offer, Rado grumbled to himself as he shifted to shake the cramp in his leg. A glance at his watch showed the Phantom was due to arrive any minute. He looked back at the park bench where the slumped figure of a woman rested, her face covered with a cotton bag. He had seen her around Staff headquarters from time to time and she had seemed nice. But being nice was a one way ticket to trouble according to Staff.
A soft tread nearby brought him out of his contemplation. Rado swung his handgun around in the direction of the approaching Phantom. He stepped away from the park bench to better train his gun on the assassin. Sure, she was surrounded on all sides by hidden snipers but then it didn't hurt to be cautious. Noticing his gun, she stopped, her silver eyes seemingly gleaming in the darkness. Slung over her shoulder was the body of Orsay, bag over his head. Even as a rebel she was still following Staff procedures. He gestured with his gun for her to place the body on the ground.
He indicated her slumped form with a slight nod towards the bench, and pulling the bag from her head, revealed her face as a sign of good faith. He had expected her to be sporting several bruises but her face was unmarked as if she'd just fallen asleep. The Phantom seemed to relax but that didn't mean Rado dropped his guard. His grip upon his gun tightened. It was as if she was looking for something or someone. Keeping the gun trained on her, Rado withdrew his phone from his pocket as per instructions and hit the speed dial. After several rings, the phone picked up.
"Situation?" Rado liked keeping it short.
Silence on the other end before the voice of the leader of the Staff hit team spoke.
A triumphant smile beamed across Rado's face as he snapped the phone shut. About damn time they got some of those pesky Ghosts.
"Well done," he taunted her. "Thanks to you we've got ourselves two Ghosts."
Rado laughed as the Phantom glared at him, the news clearly disturbing her. Pity for her that looks didn't kill, but bullets did and he was the one holding the gun. That was the problem with these assassins they always got too full of themselves thinking that they were the only ones who could deal a killing blow. But assassins were just like everybody else, easily replaced. He gestured for her to take several steps backwards away from the slumped body of Orsay. The Phantom reluctantly did as she was told. Rado stalked towards the body, crouching down to remove the bag as he spoke.
"You had to have known you couldn't walk out of here alive."
He shook his head feeling sorry for her misplaced sense of invincibility and with a simple hand gesture signalled for the hidden snipers to open fire.
The hum of a disconnected line sounded in her ear. Rachel glowered as she snapped the phone shut and tossed it away as instructed, well aware of the shotgun aimed point blank range at her face. Her entire team lay scattered in various states of unconsciousness around the safe house. They had been utterly unprepared for the two occupants. Rachel inwardly cussed as this was a colossal failure and Staff would have her head for it. After all it had been eleven members of Staff's elite against two Ghosts.
A bead of sweat trickled down the side of Rachel's face as she looked down the barrel, grinding her teeth at the sight of the woman with her finger on the trigger. How the hell was she not showing any signs of exhaustion? Damn it, she didn't even have a single strand of her black, wavy hair out of place. And her silver eyes mockingly stared through her which only added to Rachel's building rage.
"You gonna pull that trigger or are you too half-assed to finish the job?" Rachel taunted.
A thoughtful expression appeared upon the woman's seemingly blank face, the shotgun noticeably lowering a few inches as her eyes began to scan the bullet riddled room taking in the bodies of Rachel's team. A slender finger was pointed at the first body.
"One," the woman muttered, her finger pointing to the second body slumped besides the first.
"Two," she continued, beginning to navigate the room glancing at each of the fallen bodies in turn.
"Three, Four, Five," the woman counted indicating each of the bodies as she tallied them up.
She bypassed the two bodies slumped by the door which, gingerly hanging from it hinges, stubbornly refused to fall despite the bullet holes that had ripped through the wood.
"Six, Seven, Eight." The woman finished with the body count, tapping her chin now her inspection was complete, her eyes settling upon Rachel.
A small exclamation of understanding escaped her lips as she made her way back to the last standing member of the hit team which had come to kill her. Casually she swung the shotgun inches from Rachel's face, the barest of smiles forming as her prey noticeably stiffened. Meeting her gaze with the most defiant glare she could muster, Rachel spat upon the barrel. If she was going to die there was no way in hell she was going to grovel. The erratic beating of her own heart filled Rachel's ears as the woman tilted the barrel to the side to inspect the small trail of spit on the gleaming hot metal. Try as she might Rachel's defiance began to significantly wane and she began to shake as the barrel was placed against her shoulder. The Ghost used Rachel's shirt to wipe the spit away as she leaned to whisper close in her ear.
Rachel squeezed her eyes shut waiting for the end, only it never came. The Staff member cracked open one eye and was greeted by silver eyes brimming with playful confidence. The now clean shotgun was casually swung back over her shoulder and her free hand had formed into the imitation of a hand gun. Upon seeing that Rachel's eyes were open, the woman mimed a firing action and when Rachel flinched she missed the fingers curling into a fist that struck out with such force it knocked her out cold.
A groan accompanied Rachel's body slamming to the floor. Teresa glanced disinterestedly over her shoulder at the bullet riddled couch that threatened to give way at any given moment.
"Gala," Teresa greeted her. She made her way over to the couch and nudged her fellow Ghost with the barrel of her shotgun. "Shove."
Galatea obliged with a groan and now curled up against the corner of the couch, allowed Teresa to join her, the sofa remarkably managing to support their combined weight despite its current condition. Teresa discarded her empty shotgun on the frame of the coffee table, the glass having been smashed in the battle. Taking a look around the damaged room, Teresa casually watched the light fixture crumble and smash to the floor amidst the litter of bodies and shell casings.
"You know you could have picked a better time to have a hangover." Teresa broke the silence, her tone conversational as she slipped the blackberry from her pocket. It was still tracking the leader of the Staff hit squad.
Switching the phone off, she handed it back to Galatea who took it as she placed her head within her hands before allowing another stream of grumbles to escape her lips. Several hours after the event, drinking a full bottle of Chivas Regal seemed like a very stupid idea considering the massive hangover she was now experiencing which itself had not been helped by the gunfight that had rudely jolted her from her sleep. She looked up irritably as a loud crash sent a jolt of pain through her head. The door, finally surrendering, crashed to the floor, Teresa and Galatea observing its fall. The early morning sunlight shone through the now gaping space.
"The things you do to impress a woman," Teresa murmured, her eyes upon her own phone as she dialled Irene's number.
This wasn't going to plan. Something had gone wrong. Instead of falling to the floor dead, the Phantom was approaching him. Rado signalled again for his men to fire, cursing when the Phantom's approach hardly slowed and no gunshots rang throughout the quiet park. As he tried to bring his own gun level, his arm was twisted painfully up against his back. The gun fell from his grip as the Phantom, upon seeing the potential threat and had swiftly moved in to disarm him.
Keeping a firm hold upon his arm, Miria flicked the safety on and reached towards the Staff member's ear, her hands finding the small earpiece. Rado froze as he felt the gun brush against his skin as she switched the earpiece on. Static greeted him. A sudden realisation dawned on him as the Phantom switched the frequency to another hidden sniper. Static once again, the trend continuing as the Phantom unhurriedly tuned into every sniper's frequency. Switching to the final frequency, Rado was greeted with muffled noises that seemed far too loud and close to his own position. He indentified the cause with a sinking feeling his gaze lowering to take in the body of Orsay lying on the ground in front him. A slight twitch of Orsay's bound hands showed he had just awoken and with a nod of encouragement from the Phantom, Rado lifted the bag from his head to confirm his suspicions. It wasn't Orsay. A gag was firmly over his mouth and the man was still trying to speak perhaps trying to explain why he was so far from his position, his weapon nowhere to be seen.
"When did you take down the snipers?"
Rado had to know, but the Phantom wasn't in the mood to tell, the gun hitting the side of his head and knocking him unconscious.
Departing under the faint light of a single streetlamp was not the way Cynthia had envisioned saying goodbye to the nervous chef who had managed to endear herself to her in such a short time. Realising they had begun to speak together they stopped abruptly before sharing a quiet laugh to cover their embarrassment. Yuma glanced at her shyly.
"You go first," she murmured playing with the strands of her hair feeling uneasy now that she was no longer wearing her chef's hat.
She missed that hat, but she knew that she would miss the woman beside her so much more considering all they had shared. Life had changed for her, but the thought of being parted from Cynthia had dulled her excitement at the possibility of a new future.
"I'm sorry." The sincerity in Cynthia's tone brought a smile to Yuma's face.
"Don't be. I'm really glad I met you," Yuma assured her, the grin vanishing from her face as she realised her words.
Blushing deeply, the chef rushed to clarify herself.
"Umm…No…it was…nice meeting you…that's not what I meant no! I don't mean it like that…Oh, forget it…Of course I'm glad I met you! Meeting you was one of the best things that ever happened to me!" She ended her struggle in a crescendo, completely red faced.
Shutting her eyes and feeling like an absolute fool, Yuma gathered the courage to tentatively crack open one eye to see Cynthia giving her that amused look the chef thought made the medic seem quite breathtaking. She tensed as Cynthia's hand moved forward to gently touch the single strand of hair that hung in front of her face.
"Likewise," Cynthia murmured, her lips turning upwards to form a smile as her hand left the strand.
She withdrew a small folded piece of paper from her jacket.
"This will get you entry to the forger's place." She pointed towards the apartment block that loomed above them where Anastasia and Tabitha were waiting for Yuma in the entrance foyer. "She lives in number fifteen. She'll be grumpy when you knock but give her this and she'll calm right down. We called her ahead of time so she should be half awake by now."
Cynthia held out the paper. As the chef reached for it she accidently brushed her hand against the medic's fingers. Cynthia didn't pull away from the touch, the thin paper the only thing separating their fingers as neither moved.
"I'm glad I met you too." Cynthia whispered the words softly, sending a new onslaught of red to Yuma's cheeks.
They were so close, if she just leaned forward, the chef knew that she could grant the medic a goodbye kiss just like she'd seen in all those movies. But she didn't have the courage and the words Cynthia had just spoken were enough. Yuma drew the paper away, her fingers leaving Cynthia's as the chef retreated a respectful distance. The soft tread of Cynthia's feet on the pavement caused her to look up. The medic was heading back in the direction of the car parked on the opposite side of the street.
"Wait," Yuma called softly. Cynthia stopped to look back at her.
"I'll see you again?" she called. Yuma inwardly berated herself for making it sound like a question rather than a promise.
"Who knows?" Cynthia replied adding to the frustration of her vague answer with a mysterious smile.
"The world works in strange ways, kid."
With those words she climbed into the car as Raftela started the engine.
"Finished?" the integrator asked.
"All finished," Cynthia replied. "Let's go deliver Orsay to the boss and find some damn painkillers."
Nodding in agreement, Raftela eased the car from the kerb. And like the cool detective Yuma had envisioned her to be, Cynthia never looked back.
It had been clear from the conversations she had shared with Hilda that her friend had entertained the thought of escaping from Staff ever since their early teens. Miria was unable to stop the smile that formed as she gazed at her sleeping friend from her position by the door. Hilda was free and Miria vowed to do everything in her power to make it stay that way. And all those plans she had talked to her about? Hilda could finally put those into action.
Miria's smile turned more poignant. Freedom had come at a cost. Miria gently closed the bedroom door to allow Hilda to sleep in private. Making her way to the living room of the flat, the assassin pulled out the stolen iphone. She perched on the edge of the couch as she focused her attention on the blank screen. The iphone brought back memories of its owner as she turned it on and keyed in the security code.
She waited apprehensively as Galatea's phone loaded, the phone company logo greeting her. Leaning back into the couch, the assassin drew her knees up and rested her chin upon them as she brought the phone closer. Her smile vanished as she glanced at the far end of the couch. Empty, of course. She wouldn't be here. The phone buzzed, startling the assassin as the screen informed her that she had an incoming call. Accepting the call, Miria was unable to stop the relief that overcame her as the caller greeted her.
"If my phone was that desirable you could have just asked and I would have given it to you, or we could have bargained for something in exchange."
Resisting the smile that tugged at the corner of her lips upon hearing Galatea's voice, Miria greeted her softly.
"And what would that something be?"
Silence on Galatea's line as she pondered the question.
"Another round?" Galatea suggested. Miria shook her head affectionately knowing where God Eye was heading.
"With the door locked this time," God Eye added.
"Mmm," Miria contemplated the offer. "I'll think about it, although it will depend on whether or not your next phone is worth stealing."
"Well, there are far more interesting things you could steal," Galatea murmured suggestively.
"To think I was worried about you," Miria sighed.
"I think you gave me enough incentive to survive." Galatea paused as Irene's voice was heard in the background. "Although, I've got no complaints with the methods you used to get me to go along with your little plan, I rather enjoyed them. So is she safe? The boss wants to know."
Ignoring the agent's words, Miria looked towards the closed bedroom door.
"Mission accomplished. Hilda's safe."
"Well, I'm sure you're dying to steal her phone so I better leave you two alone." Galatea's tone betrayed a hint of displeasure.
"Are you angry?" Miria couldn't stop the smile that formed as she voiced the question.
Oh, how she wished she could see Galatea's expression right now. For all her talk of jealously, God Eye was now sounding as if she was suffering from a huge dose of it. Or perhaps it was hurt pride. Miria suddenly felt the need to assure Galatea that what had happened in the kitchen wasn't a manipulation on her part. Even if the absurd idea of seduction had crossed her mind, the assassin was sure that the minute the flirting had started the idea would have been replaced by a much stronger emotion and…she was going to end that thought right there. Miria turned her attention back to the phone aware that Galatea was speaking again.
"I might be feeling a bit angry at myself," Galatea admitted. "I usually know where your hands are, but then the skirt did require immediate attention. Miria, you're becoming quite the opportunist."
"It's your bad influence," Miria shot back, all thoughts of coming clean with her epiphany vanishing.
"Oh, then perhaps I could influence you to take off…"
The rest of God Eye's reply was interrupted by Irene reprimanding her agent for the inappropriate use of the base telephone. Exchanging goodbyes, Galatea ended the call. Miria shook her head with amusement, the affectionate smile still upon her face. She really felt sorry for Irene having to constantly deal with Galatea. Turning back to the phone to switch it off, Miria's smile faulted upon seeing for the first time the agent's wallpaper. A familiar face was staring back at her, and looking very serious indeed. Miria's grip upon the phone tightened. When had Galatea taken that? All traces of a smile were wiped from the assassin's face as she continued to stare at her own photo. Why the hell was her picture being used as God Eye's wallpaper?