“This mission is… complicated.” Owen said as they drove towards Moscow, or maybe the creek where he was planning on dumping Curt’s body. Curt couldn’t be sure at this point how the conversation was going. Owen’s tone was calm, but then again, he liked to keep his claws in during parley. And the “talk” felt just as much like a negotiation as the foreign affairs Owen liked to stick his head into.
Curt always sympathized with him, he also liked to stick his head where it didn’t belong. It was one of the things that brought them so close together. It was also what got them into this mess.
“Complicated.” Curt repeated, shaking his head. “Yeah, I’ll agree with that.”
“I’ll admit that I could’ve been clearer about the expectations going into it.” Owen said. He kept one hand on the steering wheel as he spoke, annoyingly formal and casual at the same time. “But, Curt, I didn’t know the content of the mission when I requested you for backup. I didn’t know you wouldn't have access to this information- I thought, surely, that M16 wouldn’t feel the need to hide anything from you. If I’d known… this conversation would be different. You have my word.”
Curt took a moment to process the words before he fired back with what had been brewing inside since they stepped back in the car.
“Why does your agency know about our 'deep emotional bond'? What've you been saying about me? About us? This is my job, Owen, okay? My life.”
It was my job and my life before you, and that hasn’t changed, was the only thought Curt left unsaid. Something about the idea of saying those words made him worry he'd cry, and he didn't want to lose this argument on a technicality like that.
“I talked highly of you because I wanted you on this mission." Owen said. He sounded bored, but Curt knew better than to believe that. "If M16 got the impression that I care deeply for you, that’s not something I can control.”
Any possible sweetness in that sentence was lost on Curt, still boiling over with feelings. “Speaking of control-”
Owen sighed heavily. “Yes, Curt?”
“We’ve never done a mission like this. Using anything, including technology, against each other, Owen, it just doesn’t feel right. And if I know you, and- ha- I think I do, then it’s going to be like that sick game you played in the motel room. You in charge, and me not knowing what the hell is going on.”
“You read the damn thing, so you must know that I’m not the one 'in charge'. In fact, we're taking turns. Isn't that lovely? Now you know you’re spending as much time in my noggin as I am in yours."
“And why is that?”
“You- you’re perfectly comfortable getting tied up and humiliated, you’ve made that very clear.”
Owen’s face was redder than it had been a minute ago. “In my bloody personal time, Curt, not on the job.”
“Funny how those lines seem to blur with you, hm?” Curt said. He waited for an answer, and then waited a little longer, but Owen stayed quiet. He was breathing audibly deeper, and Curt noticed how his hands relaxed on the wheel.
Owen spoke up and he sounded like someone trying to stay calm and being very obvious about it. “I don’t think that you’re angry.”
“I think you’re scared, and of course you’re scared! We’re less than a day away from dangerous territory, and we’re doing something new. But figuring out this technology, Curt, it could help a lot of people. My agency knew that if we trust each other, it shouldn’t be a problem. Do you trust me?”
“...I do.” Curt said. The words came so naturally at this point. In this case, saying it felt like dumping cold butter into a hot pan. And Curt melted similarly when Owen stroked his wrist and said,
“I trust you. And I’m happy with our time together, Curt. I’d like to keep this going.”
Owen inhaled with a bit of a snort, like the question was silly. “The mission, and the rest of it.”
“Me too.” Curt didn’t even try to hide the smile on his face. The things he shouldn’t have read still floated around in his mind, restless and unanswered, but he knew when he was losing a fight. And he wasn’t just losing to his partner, but to his own feelings.
He couldn’t deny the size of the soft spot he had for Owen Carvour. All of the bullshit couldn’t shrink it. It might be a wonder of the world by now… or a landmark, at the least. Curt gulped as he wondered if it was visible from space. Yet another reason he'd be screwed if the Russians made it to the moon.
This string of thoughts was interrupted by a horrid sound from the hood of the car. It was mechanical and wrong in the way that anyone who had been behind the wheel of a failing car would recognize instantly, and Curt even recognized from the passenger seat.
“Owen?” Curt said. He got the urge to reach for his gun, like he did in every emergency situation. As if he could shoot the car back on track or something.
“Blast it, this engine…” Owen mumbled. “It’s stalling, I think something’s wrong. ‘Queen’s quality’ my-”
“Fuck, uh, try hoofing it.”
“I’m pulling over.” Owen said, and then did just that. Thankfully the patches of dirt and grass surrounding the highway were forgiving and easy to drive into. When they stopped, Owen twisted the keys around and then turned them back again. Curt’s ears perked up in anticipation of more noise, but nothing came. The engine stayed dead and quiet. Owen slammed his hand on the steering wheel.
“What was it, you said? We’re less than a day out?” Curt said.
Owen didn’t say “be quiet”, but the look he gave Curt practically screamed it. “I need to make a call.”
“Not so fast, hotshot.” Curt laid his hand over Owen’s wristwatch before Owen could raise it to his mouth.
“Oh?” Owen looked up and Curt could’ve swore he saw hope in those eyes. That last bit of bravery inside him roared to life. He stroked a hand through his hair and made sure it was sitting nice on his head. Next, he leaned a little closer to Owen, who still looked expectant and a little worried.
“It’s just that… now might be a good time. For, you know. The rest of it.”
“It's nice to know your engine still runs-”
Owen deserved every bit of the interruption he got as Curt tugged him in by the collar.