On his first time up in the air, Curt Mega had thought to himself, I could get used to this. The piston engine beneath his feet, roaring like a living beast. The ever present smell of cigarette smoke and the sound of light, sophisticated conversation. Free scotch on the hour, delivered by a fashionable stewardess. A view of heaven outside.
On this trip, it finally occurred to Curt that he had gotten used to it. He still dressed up for the occasion, as was the norm, but sitting in a suit for hours was uncomfortable. The smoke made his nose sting and the free scotch only made the turbulence worse. He wasn’t even seated by the damn window.
Still, it wasn’t all bad. It beat traveling by sea. The turkey they served at noon was alright. And unlike his first flight, Curt wasn’t alone. He hadn’t boarded a plane alone for a while. Not since most of his international missions had been with a partner, the same partner who hadn’t spoken a word to him all flight.
A little bit of conversation couldn’t hurt to pass the time. Curt leaned across the aisle to a familiar face. “Do you ever get the feeling air travel isn’t as glamorous as it’s trying to be?”
That familiar face stared back at him, a bit annoyed. “Hello, stranger.”
“Did you forget we’re sitting like this for a reason?” Owen said, curving his body towards Curt anyway. “To not arise suspicion?”
“I didn’t.” Curt said. He did. “But I got bored.”
“You should’ve brought a magazine.” Owen said, turning a page in his own. Curt squinted to read the title. The latest addition of Opera. Typical reading for Carvour, but definitely not Curt’s style. Unless it was just a pulp comic with a very misleading title.
“I said I’m bored, not that I want to fall asleep.”
Owen ignored him and reached into the backpack underneath his feet. He passed a rolled up magazine over the aisle. “Here, chap. Take an Autosport.”
“Thanks.” Curt said, but what he thought was: Maybe I'll need to swat a fly later.
“Don’t mention it,” Owen leaned back and pressed a finger to his lips for a moment. “Stranger.”
Well, that was it on the talking front. It occurred to Curt during the nasty bout of turbulence afterwards that he hated Autosport. At least the cars looked cool. He’d rather be racing to Denmark in one of those than pitched up in a metal bird.
Denmark. Had he been there before? He couldn’t remember through the haze of alcohol and noise. Closing his eyes, Curt went over his assignment again. Arrive in Copenhagen. Take the S-train from the airport. Meet your informant at the first stop in Amager. Or was it the fourth? Set up at your hotel in the harbor district. Keep an eye on the Bella Mansion two blocks away. When the coast is clear, sneak in. Avoid breaking windows if you can. Plant the camera and get the hell out of there. Wait for the further orders. Don’t fuck up.
Those last words rattled around in his head for the next hour as the plane landed and he shuffled off to the nightmare that was baggage claim. Once he’d secured his suitcase full of surveillance equipment, weapons and extra button-up shirts, he continued to the airport’s transit station to meet up with Owen.
Spotting Agent Carvour in a crowd had become the easiest part of these missions. The agent was wearing a suit like every other man on the plane had been, but his tie was in a much looser knot. His long hair was tucked behind his ears, staying put despite the slight breeze. As Curt got closer, he smelled tobacco and noticed Owen was finishing the last few pulls of an Imperial cigarette.
“Didn’t get enough secondhand smoke on the plane, huh?” Curt said.
Owen gave him a wave and ran his free hand through his hair. “Not nearly enough for a mission in the harbor district. God, I hate fish.” He sniffed the air, a dramatic gesture since they were miles from the ocean anyway.
“I’m sure they’ll still have plenty of sausages, or whatever it is that M16 feeds you.” Curt swiped back.
The train pulled up, and Owen showed a great deal of restraint by only responding once they were seated, baggage tucked away.
“Given that we’re paying for our own hotel room, I don’t think they’re feeding me much of anything.” Owen said, taking another drag. Curt wasn’t sure if that cigarette would last the train ride, but he didn’t say anything. “By the way, we’re bunking together again. Hope that isn’t an issue.”
“I don’t mind the slumber party. Two beds, right?”
“Of course.” Owen looked at him incredulously. “I’m not going to sleep on the floor, and I won’t have you doing it either.”
There was a third option that came to Curt’s mind, but he wouldn't dare bring it up. Not worth even entertaining the thought. Especially when his leg was pressed up against Owen’s, closer than it had been on the plane, closer than it had been in months. It was a thought he’d entertained more than he’d like to admit, when his mind should have been on the mission or the price of tea in China or anything else.
But the train was coming to a stop, his leg would soon be cold, and he knew by now there were worse things this mission would bring than the fact he’d be sleeping alone.
Hey! I'm back on here after 5 years, writing fic again for a musical no one has heard of. I hope you'll all forgive me for the namedrops on 50s shit I googled while writing this. There will be another chapter, ignore that 1/1 thing for now.
“You need to keep up,” Curt said, pouring a shot of whiskey for his partner.
Owen raised an eyebrow at the amber liquid. “Well, well, Mega, the mission isn’t even over and you’re trying to get me drunk?”
“I’m trying to get you to have fun.” Curt said. “Come on, agent. We’re done for the day. Shot?”
Owen cracked a smile. “Alright, you got me this time. Hand it over.”
Curt felt a little relieved. He was already feeling the alcohol, and he hated feeling that way alone. They had drank together before, but he’d gotten used to being the only one having a good time. Maybe tonight would be different.
“You know, you won’t get me to give up any state secrets this easily,” Owen said, his voice a little hoarse from the strong drink. He tapped the side of his head. “It’s like a trap up here.”
Curt felt his cheeks flush. The joke, while innocent, reminded of how little trust there had been between them on their first assignment together. “I would never do that!”
Owen simply brushed the subject off with a casual hand gesture. “Don’t worry, I’m still going to get good and pissed with you. Nothing else to do here, eh?”
And so they drank, and talked, until Curt was at the comfortable level of inebriation he’d come to expect from a few (more than a few) strong drinks. Giggling came easier, smiling even more so. Meanwhile, he noticed Owen’s body language had become much more looser and relaxed, evident in the way he drained and then slammed his most recent glass on the wooden table.
“I hate to call it a night so early, but I think I’m done.”
“Don’t tell me you’re tapping out already-” Curt said, but was interrupted by Owen swinging one of his hands around to get his attention.
“Listen. I swear, I used to knock them back a lot easier,” Owen paused to swallow a hiccup. Curt filled the resulting silence with a giggle before the other man continued. “But at some point, I decided I’d rather have my wits about me all the time.”
“You don’t need any wits to hang out with me-”
“...Because I’ve got enough for both of us.” Curt finished. He found himself running his hand up and down the neck of the whiskey bottle, which was significantly lighter than when he bought it. “We’re almost done with the bottle, you don’t want to help me out?”
Owen’s eyes lazily trailed from Curt to the whiskey, as if he was weighing something out in his mind. “I suppose another drink can’t hurt. But mostly because I don’t want you to have any more.”
“Attaboy,” Curt said, and he could’ve swore he saw Owen smile a bit out of the corner of his eye.
One more drink just meant a stronger haze for Curt but seemed to have put Owen out of commission. His speech was slurred and his sentences poured into each other rather than reaching their usual snappy conclusions. When the conversation turned to something that excited him, he suddenly got louder. And as Curt watched Owen tell some anecdote neither of them would remember the next day, he couldn’t help but be charmed. It was as if their normal conversation barriers had softened and he could actually listen, not just wait for an opportunity to one-up.
“You know, Carvour, you seem almost human tonight.” He said.
“Can’t fool them all.” Owen responded quickly. Curt stared at him, the man across the booth who he knew so well and so little, and found himself getting curious.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course.” Curt said, but after being greeted with silence, he added, “You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, just hear me out.”
“Well then, I’m listening.” Owen leaned forward.
“What keeps a guy like you in this business?”
Owen laughed as if it was a joke. “What is this, Curt, a job interview?”
“Come on, don’t be shy now.”
“Well.” Owen traced his finger around the rim of his empty glass, clearly considering his response. Or attempting to, at least. “I’m good at it, but you already know that. And, erm, it’s all quite exciting, isn’t it?”
“It is.” Curt said. “God, I love pulling a mission off. Even when it goes bad or I end up with a black eye, the adrenaline- it’s amazing. It’s addictive. Better than...” He trailed off, cheeks getting redder. Maybe he’d gotten a bit carried away. Owen hadn’t asked him how he felt, after all.
But Owen seemed far from bored, instead he was watching Curt. His eyes were surprisingly intense for much he’d had to drink, and he nodded slowly, like he was really listening. Curt had felt Owen’s gaze before, their job depended on observation. But this was the first time he’d felt seen instead of watched.
Finally, Owen opened his mouth to respond. “Yes. I-”
He was interrupted by the buzzing of Curt’s wristwatch.
“Shit, I have to take this.” Curt said, holding it up to his mouth. “Barb?”
“Curt! Where have you been? Your coordinates said you left the mansion an hour ago but I haven’t gotten any updates on the intel you gathered.”
“Sorry, it’s hard to remember to check in when I’m saving so many lives. We’ve been-”
“Hey, Barb.” Owen was suddenly much closer to Curt, a warm arm slung around his shoulder as he leaned towards his watch. Curt relaxed into the feeling despite feeling a little annoyed at being upstaged. Sober or drunk or in the heat of battle, Owen always seemed to take great pleasure in sweet-talking his colleagues.
“Agent Carvour,” Barb said, much more professionally. “Maybe you’ll be able to tell me what’s going on?”
“We’re um, celebrating.” Curt said. “There were two many bad guys crawling around the place so our work today ended a little early.”
Barb was silent for a moment, then crackled back in. “Have you been drinking? I can smell the alcohol from here.”
Owen swayed towards Curt’s wrist again. “You see, our friend here is trying teach an old dog to like whiskey.”
“And it’s working.” Curt added.
“Boy, that sure sounds like fun!” Even through the low-quality call, Barb sounded wistful. “But unless you have any more information for me, it’s lights out over here. Curt, please be safe! And don’t ever forge-”
Curt smashed his finger down on the watch a little too early and Barb’s voice cut out.
“Oops. Oh well, it’s just Barb. She understands.”
“It’s a shame you’re not much of a ladies man,” Owen said in an abrupt response, running a hand through his hair but failing to put it all back in place. “That woman seems pretty charmed by the infamous Agent Curt Mega.”
The collar of Curt’s shirt suddenly felt too tight. He swallowed the bubble of worry forming behind his tongue and replied coolly. “What makes you think I’m not a ladies man?”
“Oh, nothing in particular. It just strikes me that you’re smarter than all that.” Owen said. And then he winked. The warmth Curt had been feeling in his cheeks that evening seemed to drop right down to his stomach. He quickly took a sip of his drink, hoping Owen was far gone enough not to notice how uncomfortable he was. This type of conversation never ended well for him.
That sip seemed to provide Curt with all the courage he needed to respond back. He leaned closer to Owen in the booth. “The question is, are you smarter than that?”
Curt nodded, all the air gone from his lungs.
“I’m interested in a quick shag, frankly.” Owen said, and shrugged loosely. “Whatever that makes me, I haven’t the foggiest idea.”
“I’d say it makes you horny.”
The words left Curt’s mouth like a jet. Owen stared at him for a painfully long beat before tossing his head back and laughing, his hair following along with the movement.
“You are a riot, Curt.” He said, leaning back onto the table again and smiling. Then, after his eyes scanned slightly slower than usual around the room, his expression grew more serious. “Can we maybe take this back to the hotel?”
Curt felt like he was being tossed around. After months of trying to avoid seeing his partner in any way other than platonic, and mostly succeeding, an hour’s worth of drinks had the man throwing an arm around him, opening up, and saying things like... that. If he was smart, he’d leave it be and get up from the table without another word. But in the off chance Owen was referring to something else, well... he was drunk enough that it seemed like a good idea.
“Are we speaking the same code, agent?” Curt said quietly, deciding to dip a little into unfamiliar waters.
No gain came from saying that, but there was no loss either. Owen simply blinked back at him and continued his justification. “I’m just a tad worried we’re drawing too much attention to ourselves. What with your wrist call and everything. And I’m...” Owen paused and closed his eyes for a second, as if evaluating exactly how he felt. When he opened them, he seemed a bit pained. “I think I’ve had enough whiskey for a lifetime.”
“That’s good enough for me.” Curt said.
The walk back to their hotel was a short one, but both men were a bit unsteady and the return trek felt much longer than the one that brought them there. In one memorable moment, Owen stumbled and Curt managed to catch his arm before he went all the way down.
“Look at you, being a hero,” Owen had slurred back, holding back onto Curt for what felt like a moment too long. Curt found himself relishing the touch despite his common sense, knowing it would be a long time before someone touched him like that again.
“Just doing my job,” He whispered, and guided them both through the hotel doors. He gave a nod to the concierge when they came in, and headed to the elevator. Thankfully the bellhop had already taken his night leave, so they had the box to themselves. Owen leaned against the door, swaying slightly despite clear attempts to stand up straight. Curt just focused on the way his stomach dropped every time they climbed a floor.
“I’ve got the key,” Owen said abruptly when they got to their door. After a swift but noisy unlock, he peaked his head in. “...All clear.”
Curt wasted no time getting to the bathroom so he could splash his face. Outside, he heard Owen swear- must’ve stubbed his toe or something. Still, he felt a prickle of anxiety and decided to call out anyway.
“Everything alright out there, Carvour?”
“Yes, yes, love, I’m just- clumsier than usual. Must be the bottle of poison someone shoved down my throat.”
Upon his return to the bedroom, Curt found Owen already sprawled above his sheets. Since the room had two beds, they had laid out the various case notes and surveillance equipment on top of Owen’s bed that morning for ease of use. The same notes and equipment were now piled in the one corner of the bed Owen’s frame wasn’t occupying.
“I know,” Owen mumbled without opening his eyes. “Hell of a bedfellow I have here.”
“Could be worse.” Curt lowered himself onto his own bed and started to unbutton his dress shirt, revealing a wrinkly white undershirt. He noticed Owen was still wearing his cargo pants and shirt from earlier. “You sleeping in that?”
“Don’t feel like changing.” Owen responded flatly. Then came the whining tone Curt was unfortunately familiar with by now. “Can you please get the light? I’d rather feel sick in the dark.”
Curt did as he was told, as he often too did when it came to Owen, and flopped into his own bed. He mumbled an unanswered “goodnight” into the pillow and then it was lights out in Copenhagen.
Barb is hard to write! I hope to do her justice at some point in this fic.
Curt was mad. He wasn’t just mad that he’d woken up before dawn to the sound of retching (Owen, thankfully in the bathroom sink and not their hotel floor), or that even after falling back to sleep he’d been woken up an hour earlier than planned for “punctuality’s sake” (also Owen’s fault), or that he hadn’t had time to shave in the morning (his own damn fault).
He was mad because the mission was slipping out of his hands. The weather was unexpectedly rainy and the walk through the harbor district was miserable. Curt’s favorite pair of shoes were soaked and he was sure his socks would be wet within the hour. He liked to feel put together when he went into the field, suave and confident. Not like a wet dog.
But Owen was different. He must’ve puked up his hangover before Curt woke up, or snuck some hair of the dog, because the only evidence of last night was a slight redness to his eyes. He seemed to be at ease in the rain, trotting ahead the whole way like a champ. Or a robot. He wasn’t even phased when, halfway through their attempt to break into the mansion, a woman noticed them and began to shout. Curt had froze, his hand still on the wet doorknob he was trying to pick his way through, but Owen had spun around and immediately greeted their interruptor.
Luckily, she spoke English and seemed to calm down once they talked a little more and Owen planted a kiss to her hand.
“What’s your name, dear?” He asked.
“Elise.” By now the rain was a light sprinkle, but the woman still spoke through chattering teeth. Her arms were crossed over the opening of her dress. “What are you two doing here?”
“Elise? What a lovely name.” Owen said, and Curt nodded along silently. “You must be freezing, my dear. You see, we’re travelers, and we got caught out in the rain too. We were just knocking at this door to see if we could step inside for a moment.”
“Hmph. That did not look like knocking to me.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, like trying the doorknob.” Owen said. Elise smiled a little at this remark.
“My hands couldn’t get a good grip.” Curt added lamely. He waited for Owen to shoot him a typical annoyed look but the other man had yet to look away from Elise.
“How about you borrow my jacket? No sense for a young woman like you to be out in the rain like this.” Owen said, already starting to shrug it off.
“No, I couldn’t. Please. How would I ever get it back to you?” Elise said.
“Ah, two smart people like us? I’m sure we can work it out.”
Working it out led to Owen removing his jacket with the promise to meet Elise later that night. It was after an eternity that she walked away, Owen’s black jacket tossed around her shoulders. Once she was out of earshot, Owen turned to Curt immediately with a grin.
“See, a little kindness goes a long way in this business.”
“A long way to a bullet in your head, maybe.” After biting his tongue for the entire morning, Curt found it very easy for contempt to leak into his voice. “Seriously? Letting her know where we’re staying?”
“She thinks we’re tourists. Shacking up in a cheap hotel is hardly suspicious. Stuff like this is as much a part of the job as what you were doing,” He nodded towards Curt. “With that lock.”
“Get off your high horse, Carvour. You think I can’t tell when a man just wants to get laid?”
To Curt’s surprise, and further infuriation, Owen just scoffed in return. “Well, I’m only human.” He chucked joylessly. “Or did you only enjoy that side of me last night?”
It was all of these events that led to a very bored Curt realizing that watching Owen drink with someone else was a lot less fun than doing the drinking with him.
The “someone else” was Elise, of course. After successfully breaking into the mansion and drilling a few surveillance devices in place, Curt and Owen were awaiting a call with further instructions for the rest of the night. Given how well the mission had gone, Curt’s mood was improving. That was, until Elise had approached their booth, wearing a much dryer dress than before and Owen’s jacket still on her back.
“So you found me after all, Elise.” Owen had said.
“I always like to play detective. Can I buy you a drink?” she had said.
God no. Curt had thought. Before Curt knew it, Owen was whispering “See you later, old boy,” and following Elise to a seat at the bar.
Curt told himself he was watching so closely to keep Owen safe, but Elise did truly seemed harmless. She’d have to be a really good actress to fake that kind of gratitude and attraction. He felt bitter as he watched Owen sip on the drink Elise had bought him, when just 15 minutes ago he'd told Curt that he wouldn't be caught dead with a drink after last night. He felt bitter, among other even more shameful emotions, when Owen brushed Elise's hair behind her ear with a gentleness the spy usually reserved for emergency stitches.
When Elise grabbed Owen by the collar in whatever boring sentence he was halfway through to plant a kiss on his mouth, Curt realized it was time to leave. He’d been watching for a while, hell he watched people for a living, but that moment felt private enough to make his face grow hot with shame. Shame and something else that he didn’t want to think about.
After a miserable walk home, Curt had just sat down on his motel bed when his watch began to buzz. God, he hoped it wasn’t Cynthia. As if this day could go any worse. He cleared his throat and raised the watch up to his face.
“Oh, Barb. I’m glad it’s you. I know I didn’t get a status update in, but I’ve had a lot on my plate-”
Barb’s voice crackled in, interrupting him. “No, no, you didn’t need to! I’ve been monitoring the footage from the bugs all day. We are right on schedule.”
“Then why are you calling?”
“I just wanted to see how you were doing, silly.”
“I’m alright.” Curt said reflexively. Then he paused. It was just Barb, after all. “Well, no, I’m a little hungover, and I think my best pair of shoes are ruined, but I’m alright. The mission went well, and that’s all that matters.”
“Where’s your buddy?”
“Agent Carvour, of course.”
“He’s...” Curt winced, grateful that this wasn’t a video call. “Busy.”
“Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve talked to you without him interrupting.”
Curt felt his cheeks flush. “We aren’t always joined at the hip, you know. I’m a man, and a man needs his alone time.”
It was a brief moment before Barb continued. “Curt?”
“I know that Cynthia really likes Owen, and always says he’s so much better, and smarter, and more charming-”
“The point, Barb.” Curt said, before his feelings could suffer any more damage.
“Sorry! I just wanted to say that well, you’re still my favorite. Don’t let him- or anyone- make you feel like you don’t deserve to be out there.”
“I, uh- thank you.” Curt let the compliment sink in. “Say, Barb, you’re staying out here too, right?”
“Yes! I’m just an S-train away, down in-”
“How’s your trip going?”
“You want to know how I’m doing?” Barb exclaimed. Curt felt a little bad at how surprised she sounded.
“Sure, whatever. I mean- of course! You’re the glue of this mission, after all.”
Barb made a indecipherable noise on the other end, somewhere between a scream and a laugh. “Curt! Thank you!” She crackled out for a moment. “Anyway, I love Denmark. So many cool things to see! And eat. Have you tried the frikadeller yet? It’s made of pork, but they roll it into these little balls and fry it up...”
After a fascinating conversation about Danish cuisine with Barb, Curt hung up and tried to fall asleep. He should have been tired after the day he’d had. But he found himself wide awake when the hotel door opened and Owen slipped inside. Still, Curt bolted upright in bed, as if he hadn’t been anticipating this moment for hours.
“Oh, Owen, it’s you. Jesus, could you knock next time? In case you forgot, we’re being followed by some very dangerous people.”
“I figured you’d be asleep.” Owen shrugged and sat on the bed across from his, untying his shoes. He sounded sleepy and satisfied, but his voice was surprisingly hoarse. Maybe he’d been smoking.
“I couldn’t sleep! I was...” Curt paused, letting the shame sink in. “Worried about you.”
Owen paused in his undressing to give him a look. “Worried? That’s a funny way to say jealous.”
“What?” Half of Curt’s surprise was feigned and the other half was genuine. Just how good of a spy was Owen?
“Elise.” Owen clarified, and Curt felt momentarily relieved. “I know it’s been a while since we’ve had a woman around, but it was pretty clear who she wanted. I’m sorry to leave you waiting, pal, but in this business I can’t let chances like this slip away.”
“A chance to what? Sleep with the first woman who gives you attention?” Curt was surprised at the amount of bile in his voice, but after the hours of lying awake and stewing he’d had, it felt so natural. But Owen didn’t seem phased at all.
“I’ll have you know it wasn’t all for pleasure, but for business too. It turns out her father is very important to what we’re doing here. And while we passed a cigarette back and forth,” Curt rolled his eyes in the dark at this detail, but Owen kept going. “...she happened to let it slip that General Martin is a devoted church-goer. So Sunday is our best option for bugging the other mansion.”
Curt was silent and he heard Owen make a scoffing noise in the dark. A light was flicked on and Owen’s frame, hands sitting on his hips disapprovingly, came in to view.
“You know, General Martin? The man who owns two of the buildings we’re trying to observe? Did you even read the case notes?”
“I knew-” Curt could feel Owen’s disbelief but kept going. “I knew. I was just surprised you were willing to whore yourself out without even telling me. What if something had gone wrong with Little Miss General? You turned your tracker off for three hours.” He knew he had no right to get mad, that he should just roll over and go to sleep, but once the words fell out of his mouth he couldn’t deny how good it felt. He looked up to Owen’s face for the first time since the lights were on, and from the way his brows were furrowed, it was clear he’d stepped on a nerve.
But looking straight on, he noticed something else. The red welts crawling up on either side of Owen’s windpipe. He interrupted whatever comeback the other man was drawling through to voice his concern.
“I figured I didn’t need to explain the birds and the bees to you, but maybe I expected too much of America’s best-”
After those words, Owen immediately stepped out of the light, placing a hand on the after-mentioned area. Curt couldn’t help but feel a glimmer of pride for shaking the man up, even if he was concerned. “This? It’s nothing.”
“That doesn’t look like nothing. Did she have a fucking bodyguard rough you up or something? All this talk about business and pleasure, and you were too proud to call for backup. This is exactly why I’m upset-”
“Curt, listen to me!” Owen rarely raised his voice, but when he did it always made Curt’s stomach twist. Owen put his head in his hands for a moment and then smoothed his hair back, and when he talked again his voice sounded far away. “It’s not... like that. I shouldn’t have to explain myself. Not at this hour.” He dropped his hands to his sides. “Frankly, I’m exhausted. Aren’t you?”
He went to turn off the light in between them but Curt swiftly got up from his bed and stepped in front of him.
“Don’t try and change the subject. I swear, sometimes it’s like you get off keeping secrets from me!”
Owen was only inches away now and Curt could truly see him for the first time that day, see the bags under his eyes and the angry clench of his jaw. Yet there was a trace of softness in his voice as he replied, slow and carefully. “Maybe you need to stop thinking so much about how I get off, Mega, and go to sleep before you say something you regret.”
With that warning, he clicked off the light, and for a moment the two men lingered face-to-face in the dark, breathing hard, before Owen immediately turned on his heels and flopped into his own bed.
Curt swallowed his pride, and a lot of other emotions, and crawled under his sheets. The cool pillow just reminded him of how red his face was, how hard his heart was beating. The worst part is that Owen was right. Curt already regretted this night, not just their conversation, but all of it. He regretted pitching up at the bar and watching two people flirt instead of getting his well-deserved rest. He regretting not studying the case file closer and letting someone else get the last word. He touched his own hands to his windpipe, tracing where the marks had been on Owen.
Most of all, he regretted letting his partner go where he couldn’t follow, and whatever had happened to him in those three hours apart.
This chapter was a doozy. It's almost as long as the two other combined. Still, I'm having a lot of fun on this project and I hope that shows in my work. All of your nice comments are very appreciated! And for those of you who keep an eye on the tags, this is where the breathplay tag finally comes into play.
When Curt awoke from a dreamless sleep, he had a few blissful moments where he forgot about the previous night and just enjoyed the feeling of being wrapped up in blankets. But when he opened his eyes, his stinging head reminded him that he’d drank last night, and then he remembered why he’d drank so much last night, and everything else hit him at once.
His last conversation with his partner hurt worst of all. Curt felt his headache grow worse thinking about it. Owen, that bastard. Owen with marks on his neck and his hands on his hips and a sneer on his face. Where was he? The hotel room was empty, save for Curt’s suitcase, and Owen’s backpack was gone from its spot in the corner. A glance at his tracking watch showed him his partner was still in the building, which meant he was probably already on his third coffee in the lobby. Typical early bird.
Curt wasted no time in shaving and jumping in the shower, already feeling better once he saw his clean face in the mirror. He threw on a polo and tan pants, slipped into his thankfully-dry shoes, lined his jacket pockets with everything he needed for the mission, and headed out the door.
Sure enough, Owen was in seated the hotel lobby, leg jumping up and down impatiently as he peered over the Sunday crossword puzzle. He was wearing his typical field outfit, a long-sleeved shirt and dark pants, but had added a red silk scarf tied tightly around his neck. The thick garment looked amusingly out-of-place considering the sunshine peering in from the windows, and Curt might have laughed if the sight didn’t remind him of what was underneath. He wanted to avoid this interaction more than anything, throw on a suit and hop a plane back to America, but instead he found himself pulling out the chair across from Owen.
“Is this seat taken?”
Owen didn’t look up, but surprisingly he did acknowledge Curt’s existence. “I see you finally decided to join the living. Got you a pastry.” His voice was still hoarse.
Curt made a small “mhm” in thanks and sat down across from him. The pastry, something that resembled a fruit tart but was covered with nuts, had long gone cold (or maybe it was always cold), but he ate it anyway, grateful. He swallowed his last bite and wiped his hands on his pants. Once his chewing was no longer filling the silence, Curt was left with his thoughts. Well, alone with his thoughts and Owen, who might as well have been a shadow, always close but mockingly silent.
“Where did you find a newspaper in English around here?” Curt said in his best attempt to break the tension.
“I found myself with a lot of time on my hands waiting for you.” Either Owen was working on the most interesting crossword in the world, or he was purposefully avoiding eye contact.
Owen snapped his head up suddenly to interrupt. “‘The name of the reckless driver in ‘The Wind In The Willows’. What was that bastard’s name again?”
“I don’t follow.” Curt said, annoyed.
“It’s 16 down, love.” Owen said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Catch up.” His pen went back down to the paper, and his gaze followed with it.
Curt was suddenly aware he still had a headache. He sighed, pinched between his eyes, and resolved to try again with the man who was supposed to be his partner. The tension between them was clearly not going down without a fight.
“You know, Owen.” Curt said, waiting for him to glance over before continuing. “You could’ve just given me a shake when you woke up. I’d rather be getting ready for a mission than snoozing.”
“I considered that. But I assumed you could do with some rest, after yesterday.” And then the spell was broken. Someone (and Curt was relieved it didn’t have to be him) had mentioned the fact that yesterday happened. And now the two men were free to sit across from each other with nothing in common but the conversation they had created and the looming goal ahead of them.
Just admit it. Curt wanted to say. Just admit you knew if you woke up, you’d have to explain yourself, and you didn’t know what to say, because you’re not all-knowing, even though you like to pretend you are, and you don’t need to pretend with me because we should trust each other more than that, but you still do it because you’re up your own ass. Admit it was easier to take off and let me sleep and have something to be mad at me about.
But all he said was, “Yeah.” And accepted that a flight to America was sounding better by the minute.
Maybe a weak answer was exactly what Owen wanted, because he put his pen down and folded his hands on the table. “I want you to know I’m not looking forward to it, but maybe it’s best we talk about last night.”
Curt felt his chest tighten as he recognized Owen’s tone. Careful and measured. It was the way he talked to their hostages before the baseball bat came out. Maybe it was calming for some, but Curt didn’t like being the one tied to the chair.
“What exactly about last night?” Curt said. He was so used to pretending to know something that getting to feign ignorance was satisfying.
“Don’t play the dolt, Curt. I know you’re not as dumb as you look.” Owen snapped and picked up his pen again, continuing to darken the ink on the words he’d already written.
That comment flared up Curt’s anger and he felt his temples pulse with the feeling. “I don’t know, maybe you should take that scarf off and jog my memory. Come on. You must be sweating like a pig in that.”
In response, Owen’s hands drifted to the after-mentioned garment but he didn’t take it off, just ran his fingers nervously on the fabric.
“I don’t know why I bother.” He said quietly, as if speaking to himself. Not angry, but resigned. Curt opened up his mouth to argue but the desire to argue more left him. He just listened to Owen’s pen scribble and looked out the window. Maybe he was pushing the issue a little too hard. They were about to be each other’s only lifeline once they set out to the mansion, so perhaps showing a little humility was worth everything going smoother. Even if it meant giving up the delicate game he was trying to win.
“Owen,” he said after a minute, gently touching the other man’s arm. Owen twitched at the touch and Curt withdrew his hand, trying not to let his hurt feelings show on his face. “Look, I’m sorry if I overstepped last night."
Owen raised an eyebrow. "That's all?"
Curt sighed. "And this morning." He added. "But we’re partners. It’s our job to look out for each other, and I that’s what I was trying to do.”
“I suppose it’s only natural,” Owen admitted. “You aren’t the first person to worry. I should’ve explained myself earlier.”
“So you are going to explain, then? What happened to your neck?”
“That was our friend Elise.” Owen said, and upon seeing Curt’s incredulous expression, dropped his voice and added quickly, “But I promise, she didn’t do anything I didn’t ask her to.”
Curt wanted to ask a million questions, but something told him it was best to be silent.
“See, the way that I approach pleasure...” Owen took a long sip of his coffee before continuing. “Well, it’s like the way I approach our work. It can be a bit unorthodox.”
Curt nodded in understanding, even if he wasn’t exactly sure what Owen was referring too.
“And when were drinking,” Owen continued, clearly intent on digging himself deeper in this hole. Curt was happy to let him, and let the tables stay turned for once. “And you said, what you said, about how the missions make you feel, I guess I figured I wouldn’t have to say anything. Erm, that is, I thought you were also-”
“Unorthodox.” Curt finished for him. Owen looked relieved and nodded, his chin brushing the edge of his scarf with the motion.
“Surely you can understand why I want this to remain between us.”
Between you, me, and whoever the hell you’re letting do that to you. Curt thought, but again he bit his tongue.
“Of course.” Curt extended his hand over the table and Owen grabbed it tightly and shook. His hand was warm from the coffee cup and Curt was suddenly aware of how clammy and rough his own hands must feel in contrast. He sheepishly pulled away halfway through the gesture, but Owen didn’t seem to mind, given how cheerfully he responded.
“Right. Good. Now that’s over with, can we get on with the case?”
“Please.” Curt said, and then paused. “One more thing.”
“Yes?” Owen said.
“Did it hurt? When, she, uh-”
“No.” Owen answered too quickly, as if hearing Curt describe any more would pain him. But his expression was wistful, and as he talked his gaze was fixed somewhere over Curt’s shoulder. “I mean, I suppose it smarts a bit after. But in the moment...” His hands drifted to his scarf and he fidgeted with it a bit, his breath catching at the same time. Curt watched the motion the way he would watch a target. “It’s like nothing else.”
Curt just nodded. He wasn’t sure why he asked, or what he wanted from the answer, or why he was so intent on memorizing the way Owen’s fingers were moving, but he was ready to move on.
“So, it’s showtime then?”
Owen picked up his pen again. “Before we go, I have a question that maybe you can answer, in all your American wisdom.”
“Trivia’s not really my thing, but I’ll try.”
“I need a four-letter word, slang for umpire, and it ends with an ‘E’.”
Curt snapped his fingers. “Oh, blue! It’s named for the color of their uniform.”
“Hmph. That’s what we call the fuzz back home, for the same reason.” Owen scribbled the answer in his crossword, and Curt squinted at the paper, doing his best to read it upside down. To his surprise, he knew another one of the answers.
“And, uh, number 24 across is Eli.” Curt said. “Three letters, a man’s name and what they call Yale students.”
“I knew I kept you around for a reason, old boy.” Owen said with a smile, and Curt held his breath, trying to capture the feeling it gave him. In case things went bad again, he would still have this moment, where he was clean-shaven and put together and Owen was looking at him like he was important.
Then the feelings faded and were replaced by the anxious beat of his heart, ready for the mission. He grinned back. “Pfft, this? It’s just a preview. Let’s go, and I’ll show you why you really put up with me.”
That's right, Owen Carvour said #kinkyrights
This chapter was originally planned to contain this conversation and the mission afterwards, but I decided to chop it in half to keep consistent chapter length. But the next update should be out soon. Also fun fact: the first and last crossword answers were taken from real vintage crossword puzzles (a very easy internet rabbit hole to go down). Researching and writing this has been a blast, thanks to everyone who is keeping up with it!
Chapter 5: Day Four (Afternoon)
There's some blood and violence in this one but nothing too explicit, just a heads up!
“This place is for sale?”
Curt expected Owen to scold him for not reading the case file, but the other man was still cheerful from completing his crossword puzzle earlier. “Not exactly, love. General Martin has this mansion to be empty and pretty,” He gestured to the ornate room they were standing in. “So he can host ‘open houses’ and have everyone he’s doing his business with show up under the guise of wanting to buy a summer home. M16 has been trying to get an agent into one of those showings for a while, but they’re very exclusive.”
“So that’s why there’s a mansion in the middle of nowhere. I guess this guy’s pretty smart.”
“Smart, yes.” Owen emptied his pockets and shrugged off his jacket, tossing it on the couch. “But still dumb enough to have his security take the day off on the Lord’s Day.”
“This is going to be so easy.” Curt said, taking his mini-drill from his pocket. They started in the living room, a beautiful space painted dark pink with gold borders on the walls. Unlit candles were on every surface, and art from Denmark, Japan and Ancient Rome covered the walls. Curt was starting to daydream about buying the place as Owen tossed him the first bug.
But before he could place it in the wall, a door opened, and Curt’s stomach dropped at the sound. Owen reached for his gun and Curt immediately did the same. He saw a flash of blonde hair under a scarf, and then a familiar figure (but not one he was happy to see) stepped into the light.
“Owen?” Elise shrieked. She cursed in Danish. “What are you doing here?”
Before either man could respond, she immediately drew a gun from her purse. Curt’s spine went cold but he just looked down the barrel and kept a tight grip on his gun, his mind racing.
“I knew it.” Elise said. “You two are just another pair of spies sent to kill me.”
“Now, dear, just put the gun down and we can talk.” Owen said. But Elise continued to wave her gun franticly from Owen to Curt, still talking.
“I’m so dumb. The fake story, your jacket smelling like gunpowder, the fact that you made me call you Agent Carvour in be-”
“Elise!” Owen said. Elise reacted by setting her gun firmly in his direction and he raised his hands up. “I’m uh, I’m sorry for yelling. But we’re not here to kill you.”
“Then why the hell are you here?”
“To protect you.” Curt stepped forward. Owen gave him a glance but didn’t object. “We aren’t here to kill you, but there are people coming who want to.”
Elise’s hand faltered slightly on the trigger. “And why do the Americans and the British care if I die?”
“Confidential.” Curt said. “But since we seem to have a common interest, how about you let us do our job?”
Elise started to back towards the phone. “I’m going to call my father. He needs to know about this.”
“No, Elise!” Curt shot the phone before she had the chance to get any closer. Elise screamed.
“Christ.” Owen said under his breath.
That was the last thing either of them would be able to say before Elise ordered them to drop their weapons and led them at gunpoint in the basement.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m going to find out.” She said in a shaky voice. “My father is supposed to be here soon. Stay down here and be quiet.” She slammed the door, leaving the agents in the suffocating darkness.
“Shooting the phone? Can’t say I’ve seen that one before.” Owen said the moment the lock clicked. Curt, who was currently scowling at the lack of connection on his watch, turned his glare on Owen instead.
“I don’t think you have any right to talk, Agent Carvour. Fucking gross. Just how fine is that line between business and pleasure for you, huh?”
Owen clapped his hands together. “Great, Curt has more questions about what I get up to in the sack! My favorite subject! What, you didn’t get enough of a taste this entire trip?”
“Well, apparently it’s my business since, if you haven’t noticed, we’re going to die because you were thinking with your dick!”
In the dark, Curt saw Owen start to smile wider and wider before he barked out a laugh. This only made his heart beat faster.
“What’s so fucking funny?”
“You really think we’re going to die?” Owen said, still smiling. “The two greatest spies in the world locked in the basement, hands free, one civilian with a gun upstairs-”
“And a general on the way, if you remember.”
“We can handle him too. But arguing isn’t going to help us. Let’s see what we have to work with down here.”
Curt was still mad, furious even, but when Owen held out his hand he shook it anyway. They started to look through the basement, which was large and cold and covered in cobwebs. But in between those cobwebs, it turned out they had a lot to work with. The General had to have somewhere to store his goods, and the basement was a logical place for that purpose. Underneath one of the shelves, Curt spotted a box printed “sprængstoffer” and hauled it out onto the floor. He cracked open the lid and felt the same way a treasure hunter would feel if they found a chest of pearl necklaces.
“Jackpot.” He said to himself. “Owen! Come look at this.”
“That woman locked us in the basement with an entire case of explosives?” Owen said. He crouched down beside Curt and started to unpack them. “Damn, I knew I had good taste.”
Curt rolled his eyes but was happy enough about finding a solution to not dwell on it. “I guess this is the kind of thing the General is showing off at his ‘open house’.” He stood up and stepped back to snap a blurry picture on his watch, silently cursing the lack of flash.
“Good call on that picture, old boy. Even if we’re going to fail the mission, you can give Cynthia that before she reams you out.”
“Woah, woah, what do you mean?” Curt said. “We’re not going to fail. I can’t, I mean- I don’t fail. ” He wasn’t even going to touch the subject of Cynthia, he was fearing for his life enough.
Owen looked up at him with a raised eyebrow. “The mission was to the bug the mansion. We didn’t plant a single one. Even if we get out of here unharmed, there’s no way we’re coming back to finish the job.”
“But we got the other one.”
“So call it a job half done, then. I’m sure our supervisors will love that.”
Curt smoothed a hand through his hair, willing himself to think. “Come on, we’ll figure something out. You said it yourself. We’re the two greatest spies in the world.”
“What the hell do you suggest we do from the basement?”
Owen scoffed. “Good one, Mega.”
“No, I’m serious. We have a box full of bombs and we’re at the very bottom of the building. That’s gotta count for something.”
“Okay, so we’ve blown up a mansion. Give this bastard a big insurance check. Then what?” Owen didn’t sound impressed, but Curt knew him well enough to see some gears starting to turn.
“Then he has to move his operations to the house he actually lives in, the one we already have bugged top to bottom.”
“You’re just assuming that, Curt. People don’t always work like that, they’re not predictable-”
“I know! Trust me, I know. But do you have a better idea?”
Owen didn’t say anything, just turned back to the explosives.
“I’m thinking.” Owen replied quietly.
“Come on.” Curt tapped Owen’s shoulder. “You got us into this mess, let me get us out.”
After a pause long enough that Curt became aware of how creepy the basement was in total silence, Owen sighed and answered. “...Fine. But I get to do the talking.”
They wired the walls with explosives set to go off in ten minutes. Curt noticed Owen’s hands shaking as they worked, and was both sympathetic and satisfied that something could actually scare the man. But he kept his mouth shut, attempting to make out whatever was going on upstairs. There was the sounds of what he could assume was Danish, arguing, and footsteps. Thankfully, the door came off quickly once they set the drill on the hinges.
As per the plan, they snuck through the now-empty doorway quietly. Owen was still without a jacket and his back was warm against Curt as they stood back-to-back to make sure the coast was clear. Curt was holding a slat of wood from the box and Owen had the drill in his hand. They looked more like carpenters than spies, but it would have to do.
They entered the living room side by side. Curt jumped through the door and grabbed Elise, who immediately shrieked. She was still holding her gun and it dropped to the floor during the struggle, firing a shot into the perfectly painted wall. The sound stunned the older, shorter man Curt could only assume was General Martin, who cried out his daughter’s name just as Owen smacked him in the back of the head and held the drill to his throat.
“What do you want?” The general spit.
“We’ve already got what we want, Martin. We just want to make sure that everyone walks out of here alive.” Owen covered the man’s mouth with his hand despite sounds of protest. “There’s no need for you to speak. We know about everything.”
“They’re bluffing!” Elise yelled, followed by something in Danish. She slammed her heel down on Curt’s foot and he cursed but kept his hold steady.
“Sprængstoffer. Does that ring a bell?” Owen whispered to the general. The older man’s eyes widened at the word.
“Father?” Elise said, but Curt noticed her father wouldn’t look back at her.
“Lucky for you, we’re willing to destroy the evidence.” Owen said.
“Sadly, your mansion has to go down with it.” Curt spoke up for the first time. For a second he met Owen’s eyes and saw the side of his mouth twitch up with approval.
The general exclaimed something but Owen clamped his hand even harder down on his mouth. “Unless you want to join the future pile of rubble, old chap, I suggest you leave. Oh, and Elise?” Owen said. He nodded towards the couch, where his jacket was still lying. “You can keep the jacket.”
That was the signal. Curt tensed, ready to make a run for it, when Owen suddenly yelped and pulled back from the general, who had somehow pulled a small knife from his pocket. Droplets of blood fell on the carpet, and Curt shoved Elise to the ground and kicked the general in the knees before he could do any more damage. The older man staggered back and Curt grabbed Owen’s hand.
“Owen, come on!”
Owen clenched back. His palm was warm and wet, too warm and too wet for it to be just sweaty, but Curt didn’t look. He just ran, out the front door of the mansion, across the damp and perfectly-mown lawn, and down the street. He knew Owen was keeping up because he could still feel a grip on him, but other than that he didn’t look back. Within two minutes, the explosion rattled the street underneath them and Curt had to stop to look back at his handiwork.
What he saw was a lot of smoke rising above the surrounding shipyards, and then a little fuzzier version of the same thing as sweat crept into his eyes.
"We did it!" Curt wiped his brow and turned to Owen, who was catching his breath.
“I know, I know.” Owen panted. He stood up a little straighter. “Curt, thank you. You were amazing back there.”
“We were amazing.” Curt corrected. “Seriously, that speech you gave to the General? Badass.”
“Eh, I was just the bravado.” Owen coughed. “You did all the work with the girl, and the gun, and...” He trailed off, touching his hand to his side. “Dammit, I couldn’t even stop that old man from putting his mark on me.”
Curt saw the red stain blossoming on Owen’s side for the first time. “Are you okay?”
“Don’t worry about me, love. We need to keep moving. And call that friend of yours for help.”
When Barb pulled up the rescue the agents from where they were huddled in an alley, she was the maddest Curt had ever seen her.
“Barb! Just the woman I wanted to see.” Curt climbed in the backseat of the rental car, Owen trailing behind him.
“Ginger snaps, Curt, what the hell happened? Not a peep from you for hours and then I hear about this huge explosion, and you didn’t even plant the bugs? Are you okay?”
“Long story. Just get those eyes on the road, please.”
Barb said something under her breath, but swerved the car on the street and towards the hotel.
“Agent Carvour, what happened?” She said, meeting Owen’s eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Nothing a little bandage won’t fix.” Owen said, wincing as he kept pressure on his side. “Curt’s bleeding too.”
“I am?” Curt looked down on at his hand. “Oh, shit, I forgot. Elise bit me.”
“At least we have that in common.” Owen said, then held his breath and looked at Curt as if waiting for his reaction. Curt just laughed, high off of the adrenaline. Barb laughed too, and even though Curt was sure she had no idea what was going on the sound was still infectious.
Curt spent the rest of the drive staring out the window in silence, listening to the Danish music on the radio and Barb’s additional ranting. He had partially failed the mission but he wasn't brooding, instead he found himself imagining what it would be like to hold Owen’s hand when they weren’t both bleeding.
“We look like we’re going to prom.” Curt said as he and Barb boarded an S-train to join the rest of the formally-dressed crowd heading towards the airport. Curt was wearing his last clean suit and not-as-clean dress shoes, and Barb was wearing a red-and-black patterned dress and kitten heels.
“You were probably busy studying in high school or something, but prom is like a big dance-” He continued before Barb cut him off.
“I know what prom is, Curt! I’ve never told anyone at the agency, but I was actually prom queen junior year.”
“Huh.” Curt let that fact sink in, trying to imagine the woman sitting next to him wearing a big plastic crown. “So were you not always such a, uh-”
“A nerd? Nope, I was the same back then as I am now. But I guess... people must’ve liked me anyway.”
She looked away and there was an awkward beat of silence before Curt realized he might’ve fucked up a bit. Maybe he’d gotten so used to jabbing back-and-forth with Owen that he’d forgotten the regular beats of a conversation. So instead of letting it lie, he cleared his throat until Barb looked at him and then shot her a smile.
“You know, Barb, I think I know how they felt.”
She didn’t say anything, but smiled even bigger in return and Curt realized it was kind of nice that not everybody liked to jab back.
The train ride was short but the plane ride was going to be a long one. A few minutes after they had taken off, Barb had fallen asleep thanks to her own invention- a pair of noise-cancelling earmuffs. Curt looked at her, drooling on his shoulder, and found himself a bit annoyed he’d given her the window seat, but soon found his thoughts drifting back to the post-mission haze of yesterday.
Curt had rested easy as soon as he knew that Owen would be alright (the other spy had insisted on dressing the knife wound himself, locking himself in the bathroom with the first aid kit and a cigarette) and that there was nobody coming to kill them. He rested so easy that he fell asleep with the lights still on, and was woken early the next morning by a gentle shake of his shoulder.
He had snapped awake, suddenly aware of a dark figure sitting on the edge of his bed, and instinctively scrambled for his gun on the bedside table. But the feeling of someone touching his arm made him hesitate.
“Glad to see you’ve got your wits about you, Mega, but it’s just me.”
“Owen.” Curt laughed out of relief. “God, what time is it? Are we already leaving?”
“No.” Owen said. “Well, you’re not. I just got off a call with M16 and they’re sending a plane to fetch me.” Curt was suddenly aware that Owen’s hair was slick with wetness, as if he’d recently showered, and that he was fully dressed, backpack included.
So, here it was.
Curt knew the inevitable goodbye was coming since the mission started- it always came, and he always wished there was a part of the briefing on how to say goodbye. But he probably wouldn’t read it anyway. He forced a smile and replied.
“Oh well, till we save the world again, then?”
“Yeah,” Owen’s smile back looked a little forced too, an observation confirmed by how quickly his expression became neutral. “And, erm, there’s just one other thing.”
“M16 thinks it’s best if we take some... missions apart for a while. And I’m inclined to agree with them.”
Even sitting in his plane seat now and just remembering the conversation, Curt’s stomach dropped the same way it had in that hotel room. He remembered the questions he’d wanted to ask, why? being the first one and what did I do? being the second one, but all he’d managed to say was “oh.”
But Owen kept talking as if he hadn’t spoken, as if he’d planned what to say beforehand no matter how Curt responded. “...And I know we get on well and had a great winning streak going, but no one is exactly pleased about how this turned out.” He looked down at Curt’s comforter, where his hands were twisting the fabric around nervously. “Again, myself included.”
“Look, it’s not our fault what happened at the mansion.” Curt said, managing his first full sentence since the news.
Owen sighed and looked back up. “It was my fault, Curt, okay? I let my vices get the best of me, and I cocked it all up, and my supervisors recognize that. And it pains me to do so, but I do too. Can you?”
Curt just nodded back.
“Thank you. It’s a shame, old boy, because you’re a great agent, and of course I’m glad to be part of a team with you, but...” Owen squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the area between them. “God, pardon me. I’m getting sentimental.”
“No, it’s fine. Keep going.” Curt said. He wanted this conversation to go on as long as possible, if would really be the last one. And, he thought, it was the first time they’d ever talked like this, gently and honestly and without a drop of alcohol in either of their bloodstreams. “Please,” he added when met with silence.
Owen caught Curt’s eyes again with an intense look, and Curt was almost sorry he’d pushed the issue. “It’s nothing personal, but there’s a side of me you seem to bring out that I’m not too fond of.”
Curt’s heart rate sped up but he tried to sound as calm as possible. “What do you mean?”
“What I mean, is, when we’re together all damn day... well, you’re observant, aren’t you? I get meaner, and more competitive, and sensitive. I’m inclined to care more about whatever little verbal game we’re caught up in than the lives at stake. And that might make for a fine friendship, but I don’t like feeling this... out of control in a partnership. I’ll- we’ll get ourselves killed playing around like that.”
Curt reflected on the past few days with his still-sleepy mind, and it was like trying to piece together an anxious dream. The strange, unspoken grudge Owen seemed to waltz into the mission with. How many times he had been close, then distant and then all-too-close. The taboo things he had paraded in front of Curt’s face, as if daring him to object. To fight back. It’s nothing personal? Then what was it? What was the point of this whole performance? Curt didn’t know, but he felt a bit hurt by all of it.
“I think I know what you mean.” He replied dryly.
“Then you understand why this is for the best.” Owen got up from the bed and extended his hand for a shake. Curt grabbed his wrist but before the shaking motion even started, he found himself feeling very vulnerable.
“Will I ever see you again?” Curt immediately grimaced at how pathetic the words sounded, but he needed the answer like air. He kept his hold on Owen’s wrist.
“We’re still the two greatest spies in the world. And we made it that far by working together. If the agencies are smart, they won’t keep us apart for long.” Owen said. He hadn’t let go of Curt’s wrist yet, and finally gave it a firm shake. Curt shook back. There were so many other things he wanted to do, and say, but he settled for one last squeeze before pulling his hand away.
“Take care.” Owen had said, and then he was gone.
On the plane, Curt looked at the Autosport in his lap and felt like he had only pulled his hand back just seconds ago. It reminded Curt of how he and Owen had started this trip, pretending to be strangers. But even then, they hadn’t kept their distance. And now Curt would have to pretend all over again that Owen was just a stranger. So much for "for the best".
One thing’s for sure, Curt thought as he crumpled up the magazine. He’d never need to ask himself again whether he’d been to Denmark, because the memories of the mansion exploding, the basement door sliding off at the loosened hinges, and the best cheap whiskey he’d ever drank would not soon leave him. And then he remembered Owen in his stupid scarf, smiling at him from across the crossword puzzle like he was the most important person in the room. Curt wished he could will the rest of the weekend to fade away, until that moment would be the only thing behind his eyes when someone mentioned “Copenhagen”.
We've reached the end of Curt and Owen's time on this particular mission, but I will have a sequel up soon! I hope the emotion of this last part came through like I wanted it to.
Writing this has renewed my interest in fanfic and made writing fun again in general. I had no idea how many people would be enjoying it along with me and all of your comments and kudos made my day. Thanks for reading! I can't wait to write and show everyone what's coming up next.