Disclaimer: All of the characters belong to ABC and OUAT's creators. I'm just having some fun with them.
AN: So I got this random idea the other day of a spy AU where Gold and Belle go at it Mr. & Mrs. Smith style and just couldn't resist having a go at it. Pretty much just a fun summer story. Hope you all enjoy!
Belle French was not having a good morning. Quite frankly, she was having a fucking, miserable morning. Her head felt as if it was pounding out of her skull, she was wearing a wrinkled, two-day old suit, that had stains on it from origins she'd rather not contemplate, and to top it off, her damn hotel coffee machine had decided to not work on today of all days.
Also, the fact that she had been asleep for only two hours before her phone rang shrilly, summoning her immediately in to the office, wasn't helping matters much either. Not to mention the jet lag she was experiencing after her 18-hour flight yesterday. Yes, she was having just a spectacular start to her day.
Seriously, how is there not one decent coffee shop open in this city? she thought, looking out the window in disgust, and letting out another loud groan as she passed yet another darkened Starbucks.
Granted it was 4 a.m., but still. All she knew was that Hopper better have already gotten the coffee pot started, or else she was going to be utterly worthless all day. The measly Diet Coke she was chugging was not going to cut it.
The darkened streets of D.C. were nearly empty as she drove along. It seemed as if the entire city was still sleeping, because unlike Belle, they didn't have sadistic bosses that called them into the office at this ungodly hour to discuss god knows what.
She was supposed to be like them right now—still sleeping in her ridiculously comfortable pillow-top bed, catching up on lost sleep—not getting dragged into another case in the middle of the night. Or was it morning now?
This better not be some FUBAR operation debriefing, she thought. She didn't have the energy to play the blame game this early in the morning.
Belle drummed her fingers along the steering wheel and tried to stifle another yawn, as she waited for yet another red light, checking all of her mirrors twice in habit. Clear. The lights didn't seem to notice that no one else was on the road, so she waited. And waited. And waited.
She had always prided herself on her resilience and stamina. Normally, she could last on a few hours sleep for weeks at a time, but this last job had drained her, leaving her both mentally and physically exhausted. So thus, all she wanted to do right now was call in the 23rd Airborne and take out her frustration on the stoplight in front of her with an air strike.
The light seemed to sense her threat and clicked over to green.
Belle floored her government-issued Crown Victoria…directly into another red light. Goddammit! She slammed her palms against the steering wheel.
Thankfully, her hotel room was only a short drive to the Langley, or else D.C. was going to have a helluva morning news report when they woke up. The strike codes were still temptingly fresh in her mind. God, I need sleep. I'm losing it, she thought, rubbing her face.
Twenty minutes later, Belle arrived finally on the Langley campus, its large glass building glowing like a beacon in the foggy mist. The drive had given the caffeine enough time to start to kick in, and she felt her brain starting to finally wake up enough to start and piece together why she had been called in so early. A FUBAR—fucked up beyond recognition—mission debriefing was most likely, but why it was necessary for her to come in so early, or at all, confused her.
It couldn't be her mission that they were discussing. She knew that. Belle had personally ensured the success of that one, pulling the trigger literally on the target.
It must be something that had happened while I was away, she thought. Belle loved nothing more than to be working in the field, but the subsequent intelligence gap when she returned, especially in situations such as these, was both disorienting and unnerving. And if there was one thing Belle French hated, it was not having all the information. Being thrown into a case after a two-month gap, on two hours of sleep, was pretty much her definition of hell.
Belle drove around to the rear of the "old" CIA building, and parked near the entrance in a reserved, marked stall, daring someone to tow her.
Once in park, she checked her surroundings once again. Her reflection in the rear mirrors was rather frightening, so she dabbed some Clear Eyes into her bloodshot eyes to try and look halfway presentable. She also double-checked that she had her identification—her real identification, not one of the dozen fake shoes she kept with her—and exited the vehicle, stepping into the cool night air.
The black-and-white marbled entry to the CIA building was unsurprisingly empty, except for one very familiar agent, sitting on a bench opposite the security entrance.
"Took you long enough," Agent Emma Swan quipped, walking over to greet Belle. "Where have you been?"
Belle glared back at her friend and teammate. She was in no mood for playing games at this hour.
Emma grimaced, holding her hands up in surrender as they walked down the corridor. "Geez…I'm kidding. You're the first one in. Nice to see you too, by the way."
Belle slid her card through an unmarked door. "I'm sorry," she groaned, rubbing the bridge of her nose with her free hand. "I need caffeine."
"You don't say," Emma replied dryly. "You look like hell by the way. When did you get in? "
"Uh, thanks." She glanced down at her watch. Math became suddenly impossible. "Uh...two, three hours ago?" she said, sliding her card through the slot in annoyance again.
"Seriously? Shit, I'm sorry. Here—have mine," she said, handing her steaming cup of coffee over to Belle, as she held the door open for them to pass.
The coffee burned as it went down her throat, but it tasted oh, so good. Belle closed her eyes in pleasure. "Thank you."
"Of course." Her friend smiled. "So, how are you, besides having no sleep? I heard that your mission went well."
Flashes of dust, dirt, and bodies passed quickly through Belle's mind. "Yeah, it went well. No witnesses or complications—we were in-and-out once we were able to get access into the compound."
"Did the prince come back with you?"
Belle chuckled at Emma's nickname for their teammate, and took another swig of the coffee. "No, we split up after. I think Charming is coming in tomorrow. He might even be back already. I don't know." She slid her card through another unmarked door, and punched in a security code. The door clicked open and Belle stood aside, holding the door for her friend. "All I know, is that I've never been so glad to be back in air-conditioning."
Emma saluted her. "I hear ya. 118 in Islamabad last week. I came home and sat in front of my fridge for an hour."
Belle laughed. If she'd had more time last night, she would have probably done the same.
"Well, I'm glad you're back."
"Me too," Belle said, stopping at another security station. A small, indistinct plaque labeled the door to their section's headquarters: Special Operations Command (SOC), Division of Special Activities Division. Unlike the other doors they had passed, this one was manned by a heavily armed guard, which always amused Belle, considering that everyone beyond the door were among the most deadly people in the world. She always thought that would be far more effective to simply leave the door open and see how far an intruder would get.
"How ya doin', Leroy?" Emma greeted, producing her security tags.
Their longtime guard smiled at them. "Very well, Agent Swan. Agent French, good to see you! Glad you're home safe."
"Hey, Leroy, tell French the good news."
Belle looked over in confusion. "What news?"
Leroy beamed proudly. "Astrid and I are engaged."
"You finally asked her? Congratulations!"
"See what happens when you leave us?" her friend teased, leaning forward for her retina scan.
Belle shook her head, completing her own scan. "Well, I'm very happy for you both. Send Astrid my best." Even though she had never personally met Leroy's fiancée, she felt as if she did, after two years of hearing Leroy's stories about her.
"Will do, Agent. Have a good day," he said, buzzing them through.
Belle stifled another yawn and took another sip of coffee as they strode out into the windowless, fluorescent corridor of the SOC division.
"So you never said—why did Mills call us in?"
Emma looked surprised. "You didn't hear?"
"I just got in–"
"Right, sorry. It's 4 a.m. for me too, remember?"
"All I know is that it better be good."
Her teammate's face lit up in excitement. "Oh, it's good, all right," she said, producing the file that had been tucked underneath her arm. "They found him."
"Swan, it's 4:30 in the morning, you're going to have to be more specific than that."
Emma shook the file in Belle's direction in excitement. "Gold. They found Gold."
Belle shrugged. "Couldn't resist. So who's Gold?" She knew the dossier of nearly every major terrorist and wanted man in the world by heart, but none of them were named "Gold."
"Read," Emma said, thrusting the file in Belle's chest. "You have thirty minutes. Briefing's in the conference room at five."
Special Operations Officer, A. U. Gold, code named the "Spinner," was a former SIS "MI6" intelligence agent, born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Later, after he was recruited by the CIA and immigrated to the United States in the late '80s, he rose to become one of the highest-ranking and decorated agents in the SAD/SOC unit.
Gold's file was full of accolades and letters of commendation from every sitting President since Reagan; he was a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, and twice recipient of the Intelligence Star.
Despite all of his awards, there were only a few after action reports of the operations he had participated in, leading Belle to only guess at how many more black operations he had influenced, or helped in, that weren't listed here. It had to be in the hundreds.
Clearly, this man was the Agency's go-to man to handle all of its most high-profile cases. Impressive would be an understatement. As she read on, Belle became more and more convinced that she was holding the most impressive career case file ever compiled by any agent in the CIA.
Not surprisingly, Gold's personal details were as brief, as his accomplishments were long. He was listed as 51 years old, but the only two photographs in his file were taken when he was much younger—one photo from his days as an SIS agent, and then a second undated photo from a field camera, in which his features were slightly obscured from the side angle.
He was rather handsome, Belle thought, with his fine features and distinguished air about him. Her eyes betrayed her, flashing down to his martial status—divorced, which strangely pleased her.
I really need to get out more. She shook her head, and took another sip of her coffee, continuing on to the next line. It listed that he had one child—a son named Bae Gold, aged twelve years. Sadly, a black deceased stamp was pressed next to his birth date. Even without knowing this man, Belle felt a pang of sympathy for him; he had lived a hard life.
Also listed under his personal information was his education. His college was listed as N/A, which Belle found curious until she added the years of his short military career and discovered that he must have entered the British Armed Forces as a teenager.
The file also listed that Gold was fluent in five languages, and proficient in four more. That last detail was handwritten in, which made Belle smirk, knowing that he must have done that himself. He was also an ex-champion of the International Sniper Competition, which she was immediately intrigued by, being a two-time champion of that same competition herself.
Suspiciously though, his files and cases stopped eight years ago. It was as if Gold dropped simply off the face of the earth. It didn't seem as if the Agency had ever conducted an official investigation into his whereabouts either.
Did he just become a BOC? Belle wondered. He didn't seem the type to be a burn out though. The man whom this file belonged to was a legend through and through. Her other thought was that he had assumed a deep-cover, but it would've been listed in his file.
It all puzzled her. She couldn't even find a corresponding op to correlate with the date the entries stopped. It was as if Gold had truly vanished without a trace.
She was about to go over the file again to see if she had missed something, when a loud rapping on her office door interrupted her.
"I know you're enjoying your reading, but the meeting's about to start," Emma said, leaning against the doorway.
Belle looked down at her watch. It was almost five o'clock. She hadn't realized how immersed she had become in the file. It was a weakness of hers and her tiredness only made it worse.
"Here, drink this," Emma said, handing her another large cup of coffee.
Belle took a sip and she gathered up her files quickly.
"So 'Miss Photographic Memory,' read anything interesting?"
"Besides the fact that he's quite possibly the best SOC operative ever? Or the how he's been missing for the last eight years?"
"Pretty interesting stuff, huh?"
"How have I never heard of him?"
Emma shrugged. "He went off the grid a couple months before you, or I, started working here. I wouldn't know anything about him either, but Hopper's obsessed with him. 'Gold would do this, Gold would do that.' I swear he probably has a shrine to him in his apartment."
Belle laughed. Although Agent Hopper was a little odd to say the least, he was a good agent and their best profiler. He was also Emma's office-mate.
"Mills seems to have it in for him though. She's been working herself into a frenzy ever since Glass reported in a couple hours ago."
"Wait–when did you get in?"
Emma shrugged. "I didn't. I've been here all night."
Belle felt bad immediately for complaining about her lack of sleep. "Here," she said, handing her coffee back to Emma, "you need this more than me."
Her friend raised the glass in salute, and drank it greedily.
The main conference room, where their meetings were held, was at the end of the hall. The large room had a long oval table at its center, with video panels on every wall. Each place on the table also had a touch screen monitor, which connected to the walls' larger screens.
As they entered the windowless room, Belle noticed that Director Mills was seated already, along with several other members of their team. The black-haired woman was dressed impeccably as always, in one of her black designer suits with bright red lips to match. She raised her brow pointedly at Belle, looking up at the clock: 5:01.
"Agent French, welcome back," the Director greeted steely.
"Thank you, Director," Belle said, irritated by the slight, and wanting nothing more than to scream and remind her that she had just returned home three hours ago. Being one minute late, to a meeting that she was preparing for, shouldn't make a difference.
Belle knew that Mills, though, wouldn't care or listen to any of her excuses, no matter how valid they may be. The Director ruled her position with an iron fist. So instead, Belle borrowed Emma's coffee cup back and took a long gulp before sitting down, arranging her papers before her.
"Thank you all for coming," Mills said, standing up and straightening her suit. "Now that we're all here, we can start. But before we do, please know that this information is 'ears-only.' Some of you have been briefed on our target—Agent French, you'll have to play catch-up here—but at 0100 hours Zulu time, Agent Glass positively identified Agent Gold walking down a block in Rome."
She turned towards the paneled wall, and brought up a picture of Gold. This one must have been one of Glass'. The picture was fuzzy, but it was undeniably Gold, albeit a much older version of himself than the pictures Belle had seen in his file.
"Agent Gold," the Director continued, "has been black-flagged since he went rogue in December of 2003. That month, he killed his fellow operative, Maleficent Black, abandoned his legend, and went off the radar. Ever since then, we have had no direct contact or sightings of him. All we have are third person accounts and intelligence briefings of his dealings. We believe that he may have gone native with the KGB. Sources have reported that has been tied with their dealings with the Chinese and Saudis."
Belle glanced down at the thick file in front of her in confusion. It seemed as if Mills was talking about a completely different person. The man who's file in front of her was a hero in every regard. The man Mills was describing was a monster.
"Glass' identification is the first photo opportunity that we've had of him in eight years. I don't have to tell you how important this is. We're not likely to get a break like this again. We must act quickly before he disappears again."
"So what's the plan?" Emma asked.
"Gold is one of the best agents that this Agency ever recruited, maybe the best. In order for us to have any success, we need to have a quick, precise infiltration: get in, find him, and take him out before he knows that we're on to him."
Belle looked at the photo, despite the poor resolution, it wasn't taken from that far away. Plus, Glass had taken it. "Was Glass able to get a tail on him, or any sort of tracer after he took this?"
The Director's face darkened with anger. "No. He wasn't."
"So are we to assume that he'll still be there when we arrive?" Emma asked, interrupting again.
"Glass reported that Gold didn't notice him. I hope that if we go in quickly, we'll be able to locate and find him."
Emma frowned. "Rome isn't exactly small. Is he working with anyone that we can tie him to? Any contacts of his? Relatives?"
Their group's profiler gave a soft cough. "Uh…if I may, Director Mills?"
"Yes, Agent Hopper?"
"I've been profiling Agent Gold for some time now, and I believe that his confidence will put us at an advantage, especially if he didn't see Agent Glass. It's been eight years, he's not going to know that we're coming—"
"I disagree, Hopper," Belle interrupted. "This man is a highly skilled operative. I doubt that he would've missed Glass taking his photo. Are we sure that he wasn't just pinging us, to see if he was being followed?"
"But it was at a range—" Hopper protested.
She shook her head at him. "Still. As Director Mills said, he's one of the best. Do you think that eight years of being on the run is going to cause him to lower his guard, especially if he's doing what we think he is? I bet he's even more cautious now. He's not going to forget that we want to haul him back in. If he's allowing himself to be seen, it's for a reason. If we have any hope of catching him, we have to go in slow and quiet. He might stay in the city, but we're going to have to go in slow. Any sudden movements, he'll instantly pick up on it and spook," Belle said, sitting back in her chair with a huff, spent from her argument.
Emma raised her eyebrow and nodded in her direction, impressed, while Hopper looked like she kicked his puppy.
"Agent Swan," Mills said, turning towards Emma. "Do you have anything to add?"
"I'm with French on this one. I like her take—we go in slow and silent, and then take him down."
The Director nodded, and looked back down at her notes, pursing her lips. A small predatory smile flashed across her face.
The expression didn't escape Belle's attention, even if she was still two coffees from full strength.
"Well, then, Agent French," Mills said, looking up, "it seems that you have the best handle on this. Go get our man."
"What?" Belle nearly spit out her coffee. "Ma'am, I just got back—"
"And you may sleep on the plane," she replied sharply. "I will send you your legend and all the necessary information at your rendezvous point."
Belle's head ached at the thought of getting on a plane again. "If I may, Agent Hopper may be our best bet. He's the most familiar with Gold."
"I want you, French. That's final. There's a plane at Andrews, waiting for you. You're dismissed."
The agents mumbled their collective goodbyes, and stood to leave. Emma flashed Belle a sympathetic glance as she collected her belongings, pointedly leaving her coffee behind her. "You need this," she murmured behind her, leaving Belle to finish collecting her own files.
"Agent French, a word?"
Belle stopped in the doorway at the Director's voice and walked back into the room. "Yes, ma'am?"
Mills smiled, that predatory smile again, and gestured to the chair beside her. "Sit, please."
No stranger to Mills' threatening behavior, Belle took her place alongside the director's side. "Have you been debriefed on your last mission yet?"
"I was on the plane ride home."
"Good. I want you to go over it one more time with Hopper for the After Action Report before you leave."
"Ma'am, I must say again, I think that Hopper or Swan would be a better choice for this mission."
Mills tipped her head slightly. "Are you saying that you don't believe that you're up to the task?"
"No, I just believe that Hopper or Swan would—"
"Agent French," she interrupted, "last time I checked, I make the fucking decisions around here, so you're going. Understood?"
Belle bit her tongue and nodded.
"Good. Now that you're done complaining, let's get to the case, shall we?" She passed over another file to Belle. "Our latest intelligence on Gold, including Glass' observations and photographs."
The file was much thinner than the one Belle had read prior to the meeting. Flipping through, she had to stifle her chuckles at some of Glass' embellished language in his report. The man should have really become a writer instead of an ops agent.
"Agent French, Gold, is unlike anyone you've ever faced," Mills said, drawing Belle's attention upward again. "He's the very definition of a Smiley, but he'll also be one of the most reactive targets that you've ever had. He's unassuming and nonthreatening, which is why he's so good. When you think you've cornered him, check your back. I guarantee that he'll be already behind you. And don't ever think that he's on your side. That bastard will double-cross and tap you out before you can blink."
Wow, this is inspiring. "What would you have me do, Director?"
"I want you to take him out. By any. Means. Necessary," she spat, flashing her teeth in a snarl.
"Take him out, ma'am?" she asked, needing the verbal confirmation for a wet-work mission such as this.
"Kill him, Agent French. I want you to track that bastard down and shoot him in his fucking heart," she said. "You're dismissed."