Two hallways into the compound, Curt couldn’t help but nudge Owen.
“You get us lost?” He asked with a hushed voice. “Again?”
“Again? I—” Owen said indignantly before cutting himself off with a snort. He shook his head, dropping back to a whisper. “It’s you that always gets us lost.”
Curt huffed, checking behind them as they rounded another corner. Both he and Owen kept their weapons raised and at the ready, poised to attack at any sign of trouble, and the warm feeling in his chest, something akin to excitement but beyond it, burned through his stomach and up into his sternum.
“In my defense, you had me translating Spanish for both of us, and I am much worse at it than Russian,” Curt said, half a step behind Owen, who led the charge forward through the maze of empty hallways. “It’s not my fault I got us lost when I couldn’t understand the directions that woman gave us.”
Half the compound seemed abandoned. Cobwebs covered every corner; dust lingered in the air. No one heard their whispered exchange. No one tried to stop them. The appalling security could mean one of two things: either Luka’s entire operation only function out of a tiny portion of this building, which meant security would fuck them up the ass soon, or he was so completely confident in his men’s capabilities that he didn’t see the point of having security patrols. Curt could see it going either way—for both efficiency and arrogance—when it came to Luka.
“What about the time you took us on a shortcut through the Karakoram mountains in India?” Owen shot back, grinning. “And we almost froze to death?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he grumbled, “but if your country could learn not to take what doesn’t belong to it, we might not have been running from the locals because you decided to speak with that pretty accent of yours.”
“Fair point actually,” Owen said thoughtfully. After a pause, he turned and gave Curt an exaggerated wink. “Glad to know you like the accent, Ducky. I can lay it on thick next time we settle in for the evening.”
Cheeks burning red, Curt snorted.
“Slip of the tongue.” He tried to hide his embarrassment by ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. “‘S’not that pretty.”
“Mhm,” Owen hummed. He turned down another corner, and Curt dutifully followed at his heel, content to watch his back. “Oh, what about Libya, two years ago—”
“Okay, Jesus , I get it,” Curt said, scrubbing his hand across his face and pinching the bridge of his nose. “I get us lost most of the time, I’ll admit it. Just hurry up and find Luka so we can blow this place to hell and leave.”
Owen sent a look over his shoulder.
“I’m not a bloodhound. It’s going to take a second,” he said, but the mention of murdering Luka and destroying his whole operation split a smile across his face. “Also, I thought Cynthia wanted you to recon on what his organization was doing. You know, take pictures and stuff?”
Curt shrugged, glancing past another row of windows looking out at the world beyond the compound. Blue skies burned a bright gold. The sun would set soon, plunging the outside world into darkness. Curt couldn’t wait to light up the night with a little bit of good ol’ American tomfuckery.
“Cynthia wants blueprints from some weapon they're developing. Probably scared it’s nuclear,” Curt said. He and Owen went up a stone staircase, and Curt had to sprint up the steps to keep up with the longer legged Owen, who could take the stairs two at a time. “The way I see it, they shouldn’t have the blueprints to begin with. So I should destroy them. If that happens to include a copious amount of explosives, then c’est la vie.”
“Well, points for dramatics, I suppose,” Owen said with a shrug, before tutting. “You forgot to bring the C4, though, old man.”
Curt chuckled, despite himself.
“Didn’t need to,” Curt adjusted his grip on his firearm. “Luka’s got his men packing explosives. When one of his men grabbed my face I could smell the lithium grease on his clothes, and he had callouses on his palm where most bomb makers I’ve met do.”
Owen halted so abruptly that Curt slammed into his back. He turned fully, his handgun still raised, but his freehand shot out to grab Curt by the front of his shirt.
“Felt the callouses?” He asked, his voice low. Curt shrugged, looking between Owen’s vice grip on his t-shirt and his furrowed brows.
“Yeah, when Luka’s cronies interrogated me at the gala, one of them grabbed my face pretty hard. I got up close and personal with his palm when he used it to gag me.”
Owen’s eyes darkened.
“You killed him already, O,” Curt said, softly, reaching up to grab Owen’s wrist. His fingers curled into the fabric of his shirt and held tight enough to turn his knuckles white. “You killed him when you rescued me.”
“No one gets to touch you like that,” Owen whispered. His voice felt more dangerous than the gun in Curt’s hand. Owen’s hand unfurled from within his shirt and raised to Curt’s face. He cupped Curt’s cheek and tan a thumb along his cheekbone. “No one but me.”
Curt let out a soft noise as Owen traced his skin in a now familiar pattern. A shiver ripped up his spine at the feeling.
“No one but you.”
A gunshot rang out.