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Gold-Nose's eyes narrowed at the monitor. For the last few hours, the Agent had been struggling, testing the cuffs, and other generally annoying behavior.

Now he was just . . . lying there. Gold-Nose wondered why. Maybe he'd realized it was futile to attempt escape. Maybe he'd tired out.

That would make sense.  Gold-Nose's lair was located atop a mountain, and yet they'd found the Agent in his lair, still saddled with rockclimbing gear. It'd make sense for him to be exhausted, especially after knocking out five of Gold-Nose's guards, the nuisance. Maybe he was dehydrated.

Gold-Nose couldn't stand the idea of his enemy wasting away from something as trivial as dehydration. He'd been meaning to destroy the Agent for years  - he couldn't have that opportunity taken away from him.

It was for that reason, and that reason alone, that Gold-Nose ordered one of his men, 055, to fetch a glass of water. When 055 returned with the water, Gold-Nose said, "Good." Then, as though it were an afterthought, "Give it to the Agent."

The man blinked in confusion. "Sir?"

"Oh, just give it here," Gold-Nose said. "I'll take care of it myself."

Gold-Nose snatched the glass of water and strode out from the dimly lit monitor room, down the stone steps that led to the arena where the Agent had been lying for about two days (excepting toilet breaks and the like, of course; Gold-Nose wasn't a total jerk).

His machine was so close to being finished. Gold-Nose felt his stomach knot up in anticipation when he saw it. He only had a few adjustments to make, and then he'd test it out on the Agent. And finally everything would be perfect.

The Agent opened his eyes when he heard Gold-Nose's footsteps. "What do you want?" he said defiantly, in his usual righteous tone. That was one of the most annoying things about him, the heroics.

Gold-Nose smiled. "How are you liking your accommodations?"

"Could be better," the Agent said. "I wish I could sit up, for one."

It was patently unfair that the Agent's hair was still perfectly arranged, even after being knocked unconscious and trussed to an examination chair. Gold-Nose felt the urge to put his hands in it and ruin it. His fingers even twitched, before he swallowed the instinct and tried to pretend it didn't exist.

Instead he held out the cup. "I thought you might be thirsty."

The Agent blinked. He stammered a bit, and Gold-Nose waited patiently before the Agent finally asked, "How do I know it's not poisoned?"

Gold-Nose took a step back, offended. "Your death would be much more spectacular than poisoned water. What do you take me for?"

"Sorry, sorry," the Agent said. "Forgive me for not assuming you have my best interests at heart."

Gold-Nose opted to ignore the comment. Instead he called over another one of his men to adjust the chair so that the Agent was upright.

"I didn't know this thing could be adjusted like this," the Agent said, as 044 stepped back.

"044, you are dismissed." Gold-Nose said. 044 walked away "And don't get used to it. Now, do you want water or not?"

"Maybe if you take off the hand restraints," the Agent said, raising his eyebrows.

"Like hell I'll do that," Gold-Nose said. He stepped closer and pressed the cup to the Agent's lips.

The Agent shot Gold-Nose a look that said, Seriously?

Gold-Nose responded in turn with an expression that hopefully conveyed, Seriously.

The Agent started dutifully drinking the water. Gold-Nose watched the Agent's throat move with every swallow. It left Gold-Nose feeling oddly uncomfortable, and he distracted himself by observing how quickly the Agent was drinking. Either he wanted Gold-Nose to leave as soon as possible, or he was more dehydrated than we wanted to let on.

Well, just to annoy him, Gold-Nose would stay longer. He turned to look up at the row of guards standing atop the stairs. "077," he called, "fetch more water. And some food, while you're at it."

077's eyes widened at being singled out. "I don't know where - where those things are, sir," he stammered.

"Get 011 to help you," Gold-Nose said impatiently.

077 and 011 nodded and left quickly. Gold-Nose shook his head and turned back to the Agent. "He's new, forgive him," he said, as he removed the cup from the Agent's lips.

The Agent licked his lips of the remaining water, and Gold-Nose tore his eyes away. "Don't your cronies have any names?"

"They probably do," Gold-Nose said. "I have them keep it secret from me, though, for their own protection."

Again that same look appeared on the Agent's face: surprise, then skepticism. Gold-Nose felt his frustration spark. He wasn't sure how to explain to the Agent why he felt so . . . hurt by the distrust. Hell, Gold-Nose didn't know how to explain it to himself.

"I know this may come as a surprise to you, but I am a pretty great boss," he informed the Agent. "You should see the number of vacation days I give them."

The Agent shook his head, frowning. "I don't -" he began, and for some reason that filled Gold-Nose with hope. But then the Agent shook his head, and said, "I guess they would need a break from all the theft and pillaging."

Gold-Nose felt his shoulders slump. "You'll never understand," he muttered.

077 and 011 returned, walking down the stairs, bread and water in tow.

Gold-Nose turned towards them. "077, 011," he said, "keep an eye on him. If he needs to use the toilet, remember: don't leave him alone for longer than three minutes." He turned back to the Agent. "And you, don't get too comfortable. I'm still planning to kill you." The words felt awfully hollow.

"Oh believe me," the Agent said. "I know."