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There was very little satisfaction involved in jobs like these. Stealing blueprints, blowing up buildings, infiltrating and obtaining information were all fine. But kidnapping jobs always left a bitter taste in their mouth.

It wasn't about their own personal accomplishments then, it wasn't about how fast or strong they were, it wasn't about anything, really. At the end of the day, there was just a person, usually innocent and terrified, getting hurt, and maybe information, or money, and nothing more.

Still, Curt usually had a sense of smug satisfaction in any job that could get him a grumbled word of approval from Cynthia.

Not that time. For once since they’d arrived, there was no smugness in Curt whatsoever. No gleeful nihilism in the way he spoke, no quips, no grins, no casual flirting.

He was dead silent on the way back, riding in the backseat with Hope. Who had thankfully not been awake when Owen had shot her fiancée. Oh yes, fiancée, as the new ring on her finger attested. Owen wanted to vanish into Mother Earth and let the mushrooms consume him.

“We fucked up.” he murmured.

You fucked up.” Curt corrected, “ I was doing great.”

“She was going to stab you, you ungrateful-”

“Spare me and hope Henri doesn’t break your arm.”

Owen scoffed: “Oh, sod off.”

“You know he probably can.”

“No.”

“KIlljoy.”

Silence fell again.

Owen felt his finger twitch with anger because dammit , could they get one thing right? One ? No, apparently not.

It had been going well. They could've walked out of there with at least one of their targets, if not both, but of course, the knowledge of everyone's shifts was limited and did not include an agent who had just shown up at the facility and generally had little to do with it.

Without considering the fact that Damon seemed to have dropped off the map completely between the time they arrived and the time they left, and that they didn't have time to investigate his disappearance.

"Did you get the tracker yet?" he asked, without taking his eyes off the road.

"Almost there." said Curt. There was a tiny squelch of flesh and out came a little metal capsule, stained with blood.

"Bingo!"

Curt rolled down the car window and let the tracker fall from it, pressing a patch of gauze to Hope's arm with his free hand.

"Good."

"Yeah, good thing it was small. I can't stitch her up in a car."

"I'd still suggest stitches when we get there. Just a couple."

"Fine." Curt huffed, keeping his hands pressed against the cut, "But you're better at stitches than I am."

"I'll do it if I have time."

"If you have time?"

"We are in a world of trouble, Curt!" he exclaimed, swerving maybe a little too suddenly, "We're alone with maybe one ally who is liable to change his mind if he sees we're not succeeding, three powerful agencies on our back, and at least one very angry agent!"

"I told you we should've gone for the doctor."

"I don't want to hear it!"

Curt groaned loudly, but provided no further commentary. He just sort of moped quietly in the backseat for the rest of the way back.

 

"I'm sorry, you did what ?"

Henri sounded even more pissed than the day before.

“We had to run.” Curt shrugged, “Owen injured someone.”

“Well, then…” drawled their captive, taking a long, salty look at Owen. He was still, disturbingly enough, almost unphased. And too sassy for his own good.

“Yes, well, it couldn’t be helped.” he snapped, “Not until Curt learns that getting stabbed is neither normal nor good.”

“Fuck off, Carvour.”

“Yes, I love you too.”

“I can’t begin to tell you how much of a bad idea that was.” mumbled Henri.

“Tough luck, kid.” shrugged Curt.

"And you didn't get Damon."

"We tried!" Curt protested, "Not our fault the kid dropped off the radar as soon as we arrived."

"Honestly, can we blame him?" Owen sighed heavily.

He was met with general sounds of agreement from the other two.

And the sound of a quiet click from outside.

 

When spies hear a noise, their radar goes off blaring like there's a mine right under them. When spies hear a clicking noise, they listen closely to determine what kind of click it is. It could be anything, from heels to the closing of a pocket mirror, from a car door opening to the safety of a gun coming off, or a trap about to be sprung.

This one was familiar.

It was the sound of a car door opening from the inside, not through the usual lock but by picking it, which is admittedly quieter.

All their ears had perked up when they'd heard it.

Curt was the first to grab the gun, though. Hypocrite.

Outside, they found only their car.

And the boot was wide open.

And the door they'd come from (and shut behind them) was open, too.

Owen wasn't sure what to expect when they rushed back inside, guns raised and ready, but whatever it was, it wasn't what he was seeing.

He was trained, from a young age, to expect hatred and violence wherever he turned, for one reason or the other. People hate each other. If it's not because of their appearance, it's because of their language, if it's not their language it's their accent, if it's not their accent it's who they love, if it's not who they love it's their interests, if it's not their interests it's some pet peeve that one person or the other is bound to have against them.

There will always , he'd been taught, be hatred everywhere.

When he heard a noise and ran into a room, he expected someone to be dead, dying, or wishing they were dead.

What he found instead is the tight embrace of two friends who wanted nothing more than each other's safety and happiness.

He didn't know how Damon had managed to evade detection all the way there, but for a second, it almost didn't matter. The tall, timid doctor looked ten years younger in Henri's arms.

The hug lasted little more than a second, but it didn't matter. He'd seen enough of Chimera. He'd seen more than enough (Curt was right) of what they could do to someone.

Curt had other, legitimate concerns: "How'd you get here?" he asked, stupidly.

"He hid in the boot, Curt." Owen murmured, putting his gun back in its holster.

"Wait…" Henri paused, "Wait…"

His eyes widened: "Shit- Damon, you have a tracker!"

Curt hadn't put down his gun yet. At that reminder, he seemed to be reconsidering his decision not to use it. Owen felt his limbs freeze.

And yet, in all the panic, little anxious Damon didn't look phased.

"No." he said, rolling up his left sleeve, "No, I don't."

There was a bandage on his arm and the curved, familiar marks of fingernails digging into the palm of his hand.