Author's Note: Sooo, back in black! Thank you very much for your reviews and your support! ;) And now on with the show!
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Will's mind was moving at a hundred miles per hour as he followed the target into the deserted hallway leading to the rest rooms where they would be able to talk without having to shout into each other's ears. Benji followed behind him, flanked by the target's silent bodyguards. The technician hadn't been able to react quickly enough as the three men had appeared out of the blue right next to him and there was no way to escape now - which left them with no one else to provide Will with the information he needed in order to convince the target that he was the buyer he had made contact with.
The lack of payment, however, could prove to be even more fatal. If the target was not a talker and preferred a quick exchange of goods for money instead of testing his knowledge and therefore his identity, they would still be stuck in the middle of troubletown. Furthermore, no diamonds meant no tracker – which meant there was no way to find the target's lair and permanently shut down his business.
Will went through a thousand scenarios in his head, but all of them ended with both of them dead. There was no way they could overpower the bodyguards, for they appeared far too relaxed to be unarmed. And if there was a way to outmanoeuvre their clever target, he wasn't able to see it.
"Mr. Feanor, did you enjoy the concert so far?" Small talk! Perfect! If he were able to steer the conversation into a harmless direction, maybe he could convince the dealer to let him send Benji to get the diamonds.
"I enjoyed it immensely, Mr. Tanelorn, thank you very much." Will was determined to uphold the smooth buyer persona as long as possible. "I'm sorry I didn't spot you right away. I take it you enjoyed it as well?"
Jane's voice in his ear startled him for a second, yet he was able to hide it quickly. "There's bad news." Benji and Will were able to detect the level of tense worry her voice had reached. "The diamonds are fake."
Both agents fought hard to keep their expressions as neutral as possible. Will didn't know whether he should laugh or cry or even compliment the buyer on his spectacularly dumb decision to try and deceive this man – with fake diamonds no less! He wanted to bang his head on the wall, but decided against it. It was now time to save said head. However, he didn't get too far with that plan.
"Mr. Feanor," the shark-like smile on the target's face grew even wider. "I'm always pleased to become acquainted with other fans who are able to see the brilliance of their music like I do myself. I was wondering which album you preferred: 'The Final Frontier' or 'Imaginaerum'? I'm just curious because of the ongoing discussion within the fan community."
Will's mind was reeling. In no way are we going to get out of here alive. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Benji slowly shake his head, yet he couldn't for the life of him decipher what that meant. So he went for the most diplomatic answer he could think of.
"Well, I don't participate in this discussion. Both of them have good and bad qualities, but to be honest, I prefer their older albums, anyway."
The second those words left his mouth, he knew they were the wrong ones. Tanelorn's eyes grew cold as ice while the smile on his face morphed into a frown. Will felt more than saw Benji tense behind him, causing the bodyguards on either side of him to tighten their hold on his elbows.
"Well, Mr. Feanor, it seems like you're not the man you pretend to be, so let me enlighten you: Neither of these albums were made by Blind Guardian." The oldest trick on Earth! And you fell for it! Will was just about to abandon the ridiculous charade and tell their target where he may put those albums, when a commotion right behind him caused the rant to die on his tongue. He whipped around and was greeted with the sight of a knife being pressed against Benji's throat.
"So, Mr. Whoever-You-Are, do you want to tell me why you wanted to cheat me?"
Will slowly turned back to Tanelorn, furious and ready to smash his head in. Yet, his frantic forging of an escape plan was cut short – once again. "Wait!", Benji breathed. "This is a misunderstanding!" He bent his head back further when the knife bit deeper into his skin.
Tanelorn laughed humourlessly. "That's what they all say."
"No, listen! I'm Feanor. This is my bodyguard."
Their target paused and looked Benji up and down as if he saw him for the first time while Will tried to glare daggers at him, which failed to have the desired effect since the technician was forced to regard the ceiling.
At last, Tanelorn seemed to consider believing him, for he motioned for his bodyguard to lower the knife. Benji let out a sigh of relief, but didn't dare lock eyes with his team mate. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders. "It's a dangerous business."
Will just couldn't believe it. Apparently, Ethan couldn't, either. "Is he mad? Are you mad?" The voice of their team leader sounded like he couldn't decide whether he should be angry or relieved. "Listen, Jane is trying to find a way in that doesn't involve alienating some unhappy security guards. Keep him occupied."
Benji ignored him and focused solely on Tanelorn instead. "If you'd be so kind to release me, we could seal the deal."
With what, you moron? Will tried to fight the need to take the technician by the shoulders and shake him until he couldn't remember his own name anymore.
Their target, who had stood motionless for the last few seconds, suddenly straightened his back. "On which stage did Guardian play at last year's Wacken festival?"
Benji smiled. "The Black Stage of course. Where else?"
"Hm." Tanelorn made a vague hand gesture and the bodyguards let go of their captive who made a show of dusting off his elbows and straightening his shirt. Will just asked himself if he was the only sane person left on the planet.
"Well, Mr. Feanor, I'm sorry for the inconvenience." Their target sounded anything but sorry. "Now, where is my payment?"
Benji patted his shoulder bag. "I have it here. But-" He held up a hand. "But I brought something which I think is even more interesting for you. Something even rarer than diamonds."
Will watched, caught between despair and disbelief, as Benji pulled a black box out of his bag and presented Tanelorn with the casket, all the while wearing a knowing smile. "It is yours if you want it, in exchange for what I want and what you possess."
Their target levelled him with a suspicious glare in return. "Open it yourself."
Benji's smile didn't waver. He opened the box and handed it back over. As soon as Tanelorn caught sight of what lay inside, his eyes widened almost comically. "Where did you get that?"
Will tried to look nonchalant, although he was dying to know what was in that box. Yet, he didn't dare to move so he wouldn't shatter the plan Benji obviously had conjured up while he had been busy fretting over the situation they had found themselves in. Oh God, please let it be a good plan! I can't take any more surprises!
"Well, let's just say, I stumbled across it somewhere in France." Benji grinned. "Like I said, it is yours if you want it."
Tanelorn tore his eyes away from the box and nodded to one of the bodyguards who pulled a few folded sheets of paper from the back pocket of his jeans and motioned for Will to take them. "These are the facts you asked for." He offered Benji his hand. "It was nice doing business with you." And without looking back, they were gone.
Both agents stared after them, completely bewildered and wondering why on Earth they were still alive. Speaking of still being alive...
"I'm going to kill you!" Benji backed away from his pissed off team mate, raising his hands in surrender. "What were you thinking? And what the hell was in that box?"
"You know, I think you could be a bit more grateful!" The technician indignantly crossed his arms across his chest. "I've saved your ass back there!"
Will threw his arms in the air, clearly defeated by that simple logic, but still furious. "Fine! You saved us!" He planted his hands on his hips. "But with what? What did you give him?"
Benji's shoulders slumped and the expression on his face turned sad. "My copy of their first demo tape from 1985. It took years to hunt that down. I wanted to get it signed today."
In an instant, Will felt all the pent-up anger being replaced by sympathy. "Oh man, that sucks. I'm sorry." Note to self: Make sure to get hold of one of those!
"Well, at least we're alive, right?" His team mate kicked at some invisible dust on the floor. "Time to move on."
Will nodded hesitantly. "Yeah. It sucks even more that we can't even track him down now."
Benji smiled a tiny smile. "Who said we couldn't?" He laughed when the analyst just stared at him. "I don't carry around the most valuable thing I own without making sure I can follow it in case it gets stolen. How dumb do you think I am?"
Shaking his head, Will allowed himself a relieved laugh. "Unbelievable!" He put a hand to his ear. "Did the target exit the music club?"
"Yes, he did." The grin was evident in Ethan's voice. "Good job, Benji."
Before Benji was able to answer, Will threw his arm over his friend's shoulders. "How about we go and finish that concert we started?"
The technician shot him his trademark grin and nodded. "I'm in."
"How about you, Jane? Where are you anyway?"
Jane snorted. "No, thanks. I'm already on my way back to the van. Can't wait to get a good night's sleep. You two go and have fun!"
"Well, suit yourself!" Will grinned. "Heavy unit out!"
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Once again, thank you very much for reading! :) Thoughts?