Sorry that this took longer than expected. Been busy with summer homework, cleaning the house etc. :P
Thank you to Random toria , The Clockwork Boy, HeartOfGold15, coin1996 , Mothstar, KKsaiyancat , a guest, Ani Hanki DaZe, and harmlessmelody37 for reviewing! It was really interesting to see your theories on what's happening. Some of you had the right ideas, but the whole picture is yet to be revealed.
And now, chapter 24 :D
"NATO was signed on what date?"
"April 4th...1949," Toris answered, scrunching up his nose briefly in concentration.
"Correct," said Feliks, putting down the flashcard.
"Was that the last one?" Toris asked.
"I think so..." Feliks said, looking around for any other flashcards. He then nodded in confirmation, "Yes, that was the last one."
"I guess we're ready then," Toris said, taking a moment to stretch his legs.
Feliks and Toris were in the school library, making use of the quiet atmosphere in order to study. They had a particularly in-depth World History exam coming up, and it was a good reminder to Feliks that he was still going undercover as a student, after all.
"I guess so," Feliks agreed. In truth, his mind wasn't really that preoccupied with the exam.
It's already Friday... Feliks was silent as he remembered the conversation that had been troubling him all week.
"How does... next Saturday sound to you?"
"Saturday?" Feliks repeated, partly surprised at Arthur's blatancy.
"That's right, Saturday. At noon sharp," Arthur confirmed.
"What should I do once I enter the building?" Feliks asked. Of all the places to meet, why would Arthur choose a Chinese restaurant?
"Tell them you have a reservation for 'Smith.' You'll be lead to a table. Feel free to take a seat, but once your waitress comes, ask her if she enjoys her job. From then on, she will lead you to where you need to be."
"That's it? Isn't there anything else I need to know?" Feliks asked, suspicious of how the instructions required him to put his trust into a stranger.
"There is one last thing," Arthur said.
"Well? What is it?"
"You cannot tell the other agents of this," Arthur warned.
"What? Why not? Don't they already know that we're meeting anyways?" Now something was definitely fishy.
"Yes, but I'm afraid that their knowledge of this meeting would be a liability in this situation," Arthur explained.
"...Fine," Feliks agreed. "I won't tell them."
"Very good," said Arthur. "Well then, I'll be waiting for you on Saturday. I look forward to it."
Feliks was about to reply, but Arthur had already hung up. The Pole clenched his fist in frustration. Oh yes, he would have some choice words for the Englishman come Saturday.
"Oh I forgot to ask," Toris began, breaking Feliks out of his thoughts. "Did you find out what Alfred received on his quiz?"
"Huh? Oh, he said he got an A," Feliks answered. "You should have seen him. He kept annoying Gilbert with his 'I'm smarter than you' song."
This made Toris crack a smile. A smile that had sadly been rarity throughout the week. "Really? That's great. And it sounds pretty funny too."
"It was pretty amusing," Feliks said, remembering the way Gilbert proclaimed that the only reason he'd gotten a D was because he hadn't used his "awesomeness."
"So...I guess we're done," Toris said awkwardly. He glanced briefly at his watch. "I have to go home now. I'll see you on Monday."
"Okay," Feliks said, disappointed at how early Toris had to leave. "Monday. Right. See you."
For a moment, it looked like Toris wanted to say something. But he only nodded and gathered his things before leaving Feliks alone in the library.
"Monday..." Feliks whispered to himself once Toris had left. It may end up that I won't see him...if the information that Arthur has is really that important.
Feliks let his head rest on his hand as he stared at the copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in front of him. Still inside it was the pamphlet for the Chinese restaurant that he had received on that night, that now seemed so long ago.
There must be a reason why his instructions were so unusual, Feliks thought, biting his lower lip. Why wouldn't he want the rest of the agents know? It's not like they would be able to come with me.
After a few more minutes of bathing in the eerie silence of the library, all the while absentmindedly tracing the golden lettering on the book with his finger, Feliks finally gathered his things and started to leave for his apartment.
Once he was out of the school building, Feliks felt the cold wind biting his cheeks. He only held his scarf closer to his face and silently cursed the school uniform. He could only hope that the winds weren't strong enough to lift his skirt up.
Sometimes I really hate the cold, Feliks thought, shivering slightly.
He walked briskly, thinking deeply as he wordlessly observed the sparse number of people walking the streets. Leaves covered the sidewalk, muffling the sound of his heels hitting the pavement.
With that one thought, his mind immediately went to Toris. The way the Lithuanian had been treating him throughout the week could only be described as slightly cold. It frustrated Feliks to no end. Even though the two had confessed to each other, things were still anything but simple. Feliks could tell that Toris was now less than carefree around him, and he knew why. Now that Toris knew that he was really male, it must have been confusing for the Lithuanian to decide how to treat him, especially since he still had to dress as a girl. But Feliks didn't want to be treated differently. He just wanted things to be normal, whatever that meant.
But Feliks knew that the only way to do that was to tell the truth. About the mission, the other agents, everything. And to abandon his feminine guise. But he also knew that if he ever did that, then everything would be over.
Just thinking about it all gives me a headache...
And so Feliks continued walking towards home, unaware of an impending change that even an agent like him could never have anticipated.
"So this is The Golden Tiger," Feliks said softly to himself, taking a moment to observe the impressive building in front of him. It was quite huge, and reminiscent of traditional Chinese architecture. This made it seem unusual, next to a backdrop of old city buildings and florescent streetlights. Above the double glass door entrance were the words, The Golden Tiger, written in both English and Mandarin with fancy golden letters and characters.
It had not taken Feliks that long to find the restaurant. It was oddly close to his apartment, a fact that made him slightly uncomfortable. Was it because Arthur had planned it that way?
I've got to be on my guard, he thought before he entered the building. Immediately, he was greeted by the delicious smell of food, which only made it harder for him forget the fact that he hadn't eaten lunch yet. Tables filled the entire room, many of them occupied by chatting customers.
"May I help you?" a young woman who was standing at a table near the entrance asked, smiling pleasantly.
She must have to smile all day, Feliks thought, feeling sorry for the woman.
"I have a reservation for Smith," Feliks said, scoffing internally at the painfully generic name.
"Ah, yes, right this way," said the woman, grabbing a few menus. She started to lead Feliks deeper into the restaurant. He followed quietly, observing the other patrons, envying the way they were able to enjoy themselves without a care in the world.
"Here we are," the woman said when they reached a table near the back of the restaurant. "Please take a moment to look at the menu. Your waitress will be here shortly."
Feliks accepted the menu with a "thank you" but didn't bother to open it. He sat down in one of the plush chairs and observed his surroundings, all the while quietly strumming his fingers upon the table. The waiters and waitresses all wore simple red uniforms with tasteful gold trimming, keeping in with the color scheme of the restaurant. The part of the restaurant where he was sitting was dimly lit with a small candle on the table.
This place is pretty fancy, Feliks noted, feeling slightly under-dressed in his dress pants and simple button-up shirt, under which he concealed his uniform. Even though Arthur hadn't requested that he wear it, Feliks wouldn't have felt prepared without it.
Feliks spent a few more minutes sitting in boredom, ignoring the pitying stares of other customers who'd assumed that he had been stood up by his "date."
The Pole was becoming impatient, for it had already been more than ten minutes since he had arrived. Just when he felt like getting up and looking for Arthur himself, he noticed one of the waitresses coming towards his table. She was wearing a uniform like all the other servers, but she seemed to be quite young, possibly in her late teens. She had long brown hair which went past her waist and a cheerful smile.
Once she reached his table, she said kindly, "Hi, my name is Mei, and I will be your waitress for this evening. Can I get you anything?"
Feliks smiled and said politely, "Thank you, but I'm afraid nothing on the menu quite catches my eye. Actually...I'm much more interested in you. Would you mind telling me how you like your job?"
Immediately, Mei's cheerful expression was replaced with one of understanding. "I see. If you would follow me, please," she said curtly before turning on her heel and walking away.
Feliks quickly stood up and followed her, pleased that everything was going as Arthur had said.
Still...who is this "Mei"? She seems to know more than she lets on.
Mei led Feliks out of the dining area, away from all the noise and curious eyes. The two entered a slightly narrow hallway, one with paintings hanging on the walls and a carpet with an intricate design. Eventually, the hallway opened into a big spacious room, where they found themselves at the bottom of a grand staircase. This is where Mei halted her steps and turned to Feliks.
"If you would please go up the stairs and enter the first door on your right, that is where his office is," she instructed.
"Thank you," Feliks said. Mei nodded and walked away to rejoin the other waiters and waitresses. Feliks waited for her footsteps to fade away into silence before he started to climb the staircase.
With every step, Feliks could feel more and more adrenaline pumping through his veins. He was eager to finally meet Arthur and learn what the Englishman had found out. But something about the whole situation seemed strange to Feliks, and he really didn't know what to expect.
The way she said "his office"...there's no way Arthur would have his own office. This is supposed to be a random location that he picked.
Once Feliks reached the top of the staircase, he turned right, following Mei's instructions, and came upon the first door. His hand hovered over the doorknob.
I've been waiting for this moment this whole week. Focus, Feliks. With that thought, the Pole took a deep breath and exhaled before slowly turning the doorknob. In contrast, he quickly pulled the door open and stepped inside with determination.
Immediately, Feliks narrowed his eyes and took a defensive stance. His voice was laced with venom as he demanded, "What is the meaning of this!?"
The office was lined with bookshelves and had an overall tasteful appearance. But this was of no concern to Feliks. Yes, the only thing he was focusing on was the sight of Arthur and Yao Wang, standing next to each other with knowing smirks on their faces.
"It's nice to be able to meet again, Feliks," Arthur greeted. "It's been more than a month, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it's been much too long, agent," Yao said, his eyes holding a certain smugness which irritated Feliks even more. "Surprise."
And that's chapter 24! Everything will be revealed in chapter 25, which will be uploaded very soon! Please review if you'd like to, and I'll see you soon :D
I also might edit this chapter later, because I'm not entirely pleased with how it turned out... plus there's probably some mistakes which my sleepy brain didn't catch :P Anyways, thank you for reading!