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Hibiscus

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Peter Orso, not to toot his own horn, was a bit of a man about town. He wasn't perfect or conventionally attractive exactly, a bit short, a bit stocky, but he had glacial ice eyes that trapped you and a sly grin. Not to mention experience in the bedroom, and he looked good in a suit. It got him far. 

 

So when O.W.C.A. charged him with seducing the daughter of one of their biggest marks, his only question was when he was leaving. 

 

Two days later, a limo pulls up to a luxurious Vegas casino, the Intersteller, and out walks Peter in a perfectly tailored Armani suit and thousand-dollar dress shoes. The only typical item on his person were his big, round sunglasses, custom-made but still on the cheap side. Sadly, sensory issues could not be as easily shed as names and occupations, and this place was bright. There's a wad of cash in his pocket, hundreds pressed in sheathes, to attract the attention of the room. He was surprised at first, how much they'd put into this. Most days they struggled to keep the lights on. But this was beyond the west coast branch, maybe even beyond the agency. Everyone in the underworld knew to keep an eye on the FBI, but a rinky-dink branch under EPA jurisdiction, advertised and sold as a federal pound? Not worth the time. 

 

Peter smiles as he walks towards the big glass doors. This was such much more fun than his usual job, surveillance mostly. This was all the thrill and danger he'd thought he would have when he joined O.W.C.A. Sure, it had been a little bit of a blow at first, but he grew to love it. Even for bad hours and not a whole lot of adventure. But to have a Bond experience? Well, he wasn't going to say no.

 

He's already memorized the floor plan of the Intersteller, so even though the place is crowded to all hell with tourists and college kids and old people, he knows where to go. He slides past slot machines, maneuvers around dice tables, and goes a little to the left to a smaller, quieter cards room. This is where real money is won, and lost. This is where Eliza Thorne will be found. 

 

Eliza was an attractive woman in her late twenties, mixed Spanish and Filipina. She's short, thin, with not a lot of curve to her. She's more a sundress girl than a gown one. She has a bit of a temper, but she's never mean to those without reason, runs a plethora of wonderful sounding charities. She could be the perfect weak link in her father's international crime chain. 

 

Nicolas Thorne deals anything and everything. Cards, drugs, people, weapons. You needed something? Thorne could get it, at enormous expense of course. At first, the FBI had been content to go for the long haul, slowly gathering evidence and witnesses. But when word came that Thorne was getting cozy with the Russian government, well. Who said the Cold War was over? 

 

They had upped the ante, sparing no expense, and there were probably dozens of other agents going about more traditional missions. Peter knew that even if he did get information from Eliza, he'd never get any credit for it. He didn't mind that, hard to stay a secret agent with your face all over the news. 

 

Eliza wasn't much of a gambler herself, after all, even if and when the House won, it all came back in her family's hands. But she wasn't above inviting wealthy wives to stay, all on her father's expense, and let them piddle away trust funds on blackjack and roulette. 

 

Peter was already starting to like this girl. 

 

He was just preparing himself to enter, smoothing down his shirt, adjusting his glasses, straightening his tie, when he was run into by what seemed like a brick wall. He stumbled, almost fell, but two hands gripped tight on his arm and righted him. 

 

"Ah, lo siento!" says the person, and Peter looks down and blinks. Twice. The person was a tall, slender young man with dark skin and an absurd amount of freckles dotting his face. He's got curly hair tied up in a ponytail, big green eyes, and is wearing the ugliest shirt Peter has ever seen in his entire life. 

 

It's pink and yellow and horrifically pastel, with big hibiscus flowers and poorly drawn hummingbirds. He wants to burn it, scatter the ashes, and then burn it again. 

 

Peter shakes his head, this isn't important. The mission. Focus on the mission. 

 

"No problem." he signs, sighing at the obvious confusion, and reaches for the notebook in his pocket. He jots down the message, adding a charming smile. The man smiles back, wide and thankful, and there's a gap between his front teeth that's frankly too fucking cute. 

 

"Glad to hear it! Good luck!" the man says, holding two thumbs up, and it's only experience that keeps him from cracking a grin. 

 

A few seconds later and he's back in character, a smirk on his face as he casually strolls into the card room. His eyes wander, cataloguing the furious-looking man swearing in Cantonese as a mountain of chips is swept away from him, nervous gambling virgins assessing the odds as they clutch heirloom pearls and look between their cards and the dealer. There's a couple of old hands too, experienced players who look almost whimsical while doing mental probabilities, balancing everything on the edge of a coin. No sign of Eliza yet. 

 

He sits down at blackjack, it's simple, no need for words, and he's not so bad at it either. Peter hands the dealer a few paper thin bills, 'accidentally' showing off the greater amount left in his pocket. Immediately addicts start to drift towards him, hoping for handouts, followed by the oblivious, who always head for a crowd. 

 

He starts out cautiously, getting a rhythm together. Once he's made a nice pile of white chips, he's more adventurous, takes risks that make the experts, who have come to see the commotion, suck at their teeth. 

 

Lady Luck seems to be on his side tonight though, and he wins more than he loses. The more intoxicated men egg him to go further, but just as he has to decide on the last card, a girl floats in the room. She's wearing a little black dress and flats with white bows, but there's nothing girlish about her. She's soft, but not fragile, and she catches his gaze easily, a smile tugging at her lips. 

 

Eliza Thorne has arrived. 

 

Peter declines the last card, missing a twenty-one, but unlike those groaning behind him, he doesn't much care. He turns his pile into a long, thin chip, sliding the extras to angry-Cantonese man, to keep him from causing a scene later. He knows his type all too well. He pockets the chip, buttons his jacket, and follows the graceful path of his mark to the bar. 

 

"Vodka tonic." he writes in his notebook, earning a nod from the bartender. Peter's just about to sit down next to Eliza when the seat is taken by none other than Ugly Shirt, who looks at the girl with a almost painful adoration. 

 

"Hello there, pretty lady. Do you come here often?" he says, comically flirtatious, and to Peter's surprise, she giggles. 

 

"I'm guessing you don't, if you haven't heard of me. I'm the owner's daughter." she says, accent catching the words like fish hooks. She's not bragging about it, just stating it. Still, Ugly Shirt's eyes go wide as saucers. 

 

"Gosh, I had no idea I was talking to an heiress! I am not dressed properly." he says sheepishly, looking down. She laughs properly, wrinkles crinkling around her eyes. 

 

"I think you look lovely, señor." 

 

Peter's jaw almost drops. He's not surprised by how well the tourist is hitting it off with Eliza, he caught a glimpse of his everyman charm when they'd bumped into each other. He's not even surprised that he's flirting with her, at enough alcohol, anyone becomes fair game for wooing. No, what he doesn't understand is how she can even pretend that shirt is anything other than an abomination unto the Lord. 

 

Once again, Peter has to force himself to think straight. The guy, cute as he might be, wasn't important. He just had to wait until he went back to his room so he could get close to Eliza. 

 

The problem is Ugly Shirt doesn't go away. Ever. Not even to go to the bathroom. He's seemed to have made it his mission to seduce Miss Thorne, or at least, to flirt obnoxiously and throw cheesy jokes at her without even a hint of remorse.

 

By midnight, Peter is starting to get peeved. There's no way he can pull off his own flirtations with this leech capturing Eliza's affections, and he's losing a crowd to hide himself in. He grits his teeth, downs his third vodka tonic, and resigns himself to some old fashioned snooping. 

 

Getting into her room is child's play. The casino, high end as it is, is nothing next to O.W.C.A.'s tec and Peter's skill. Ten minutes after leaving the card room, he's rummaging through her papers, trying to find something of interest. It's not promising, but he can't go back with nothing.

 

Suddenly though, there's a rustling at the door, and Peter freezes. He looks around, not many places to hide, especially since he's so big. His only hope is a closet that smells of peach and perfume. He dashes in, ducking behind rows of dresses and skirts, keeping as still as he can, his eyes trained on the door. 

 

It opens slowly, an inch at a time, and even with little light, he can tell this is not Eliza. The person is at least a foot taller than her, a bit bigger too. There's a glint of metal in their left hand he easily recognizes as a pick. Not a hotel person then. A thief? Or something more sinister? 

 

Peter makes a decision. Whoever they are, if they're looking for something, they will find him. He gains nothing by sitting and waiting to be found. By making the first move, it gives him the upper hand. 

 

He's never been all that patient either. 

 

He dashes towards the figure, aiming for legs, but despite the mere seconds they must have had, they dodge his first move easily. Looks like he's dealing with an expert then. Unfortunately for them, Peter's better in the dark. 

 

He readjusts himself, seeking movement, but finds none. The figure is standing still, somewhere far enough from the door that there's no shadow. In the split second of uncertainty, a fist hits his stomach, making him wince and wheeze. But now he knows where the assailant is, and aims his knee for the groin, earning muttered obscenities, but fingers pull at his jacket, causing the fabric to rip. 

 

Oh man. O.W.C.A. wasn't going to be happy about that. 

 

Peter snarls, grabbing the person's throat and pushing them against the wall, fingers tight enough to earn a choked gasp. His other hand pushes against their chest, keeping them in place, and a sliver of light from the barely open door lands on its unmistakeable pattern. 

 

Hibiscus flowers and hummingbirds and a yellow so bright it hurts to look at. There's no way it could belong to anyone else. Looks like Ugly Shirt is important to the mission after all. 

 

"Ow! Christ, you sea punks don't play fair, do you?" he says, and though the voice is the same, there's something more real about it, less sickly sweet. "You can let me down now, asshole. We're on the same team." 

 

Peter looks at him with open hostility and disbelief, this guy had been ruining his plan from the get go. Why should he trust him? 

 

The man sighs, his hands reaching for his pocket, but Peter is not about to let him get a weapon. The hand on his throat moves to pin his arm to the wall, earning more swearing, mostly in Spanish. 

 

"How am I supposed to prove I'm with O.W.C.A. without my badge, idiota!" 

 

This makes Peter pause, the agency's name isn't well known, even among the underworld, because it kept to itself and wasn't high profile. 

 

"Oh, now you'll listen. Typical. I'm from the southwest division, with Agent CH. You're in our jurisdiction, remember?" 

 

Peter doesn't like how this guy is talking down to him, as if he's not currently in his custody, and he's still not completely inclined to believe him. He points to his head, where the hat would be if this wasn't a covert mission. It's been established Ugly Shirt, an agent apparently, doesn't understand sign language, and he can't take out his notebook without freeing him. 

 

"What, my agent name? H, for hedgehog. Because apparently I'm prickly. Never mind my name doesn't start with H. CH isn't much for tradition. I suppose he'd get in trouble more for it if he wasn't one of the best." Agent H grumbles, and Peter is forced to release him. No one outside the agency would know about the alliteration standard. It wasn't a written rule. 

 

"Thanks." Agent H says sarcastically, rubbing his neck and wrist. "I just love being beat up by the guy who's supposed to be my ally. It's so fun." he says, throwing his badge at Peter. 

 

The badge confirms that this is, in fact, Agent H. Civilian name: Miggs Ortega. Not an H in sight, though he still finds the alias appropriate. He gives his badge in return, earning a nod from Miggs. 

 

"Peter the Panda. I get it. The hair or whatever. Now that we're done with introductions, we best leave. Eliza will be back soon." 

 

Much as this guy gets on his nerves, he's right, so the two leave the room, Peter retrieving the small, penny-like object used to disable the security system. 

 

"Fancy-schmancy city boy." Miggs says, and Peter grits his teeth again. It looks like tonight was going to be a long one. 

 

They go back to Miggs' room, since it's closer, and as soon as the door is closed and locked and the room deemed bug free, Peter pulls out his notebook. 

 

"Explain." 

 

"Short version? I'm here to stop you from trying to seduce Eliza Thorne. The whole martini and classy suit bit has been done to death. I'm here as a loveable Mercutio, sans duel. The ladies love it. Well...ladies without girlfriends, which our mark has. Big secret, and O.W.C.A. has shit gaydar. So we must go about the old fashioned way. Don't suppose you found anything?" 

 

Once again, all Peter can do is blink. Eventually he manages to shake his head, and Miggs sighs. 

 

"Figures. The daughter of a crime lord isn't liable to leave incriminating papers in her room. So, the seduction angle goes out the window. But people tell their friends a whole lot more than they tell their lovers." Miggs says, eyes glinting with something almost sinister that sends shivers up Peter's spine. 

 

"How'd you like to be a one night stand gone wrong, Peter the Panda?" 

Chapter Text

"Relax." Miggs says, huffing a little laugh at the pure surprise on the fellow agent's face. "We're not actually going to have sex. From what I've heard of you, you're an STD landmine." he says, flopping onto his bed, a big fluffy queen.

"I use protection!" Peter writes, looking offended, as he sits down next to him, ankles crossed and spine straight. He's so much so that he doesn't really think about the fact that Miggs has heard of him, if only by reputation. All it earns him is a raised eyebrow and a scoff. "Most of the time."

"Exactly. I'm not putting myself anywhere near that. But here's the plan." he says, sitting up, and it's actually a pretty good plan, for one made on the spot.

Tomorrow Miggs was going to 'conveniently' run into Eliza at breakfast, and tell her all about this mysterious bachelor he'd ended up spending the night with. He could brush off any details of the actual night as simple embarrassment. Then he would admit that he'd actually been pretty nice in the morning too, and that Miggs being a total romantic, he wanted to see him again. But his trip ended tomorrow! Eliza was a sucker for such things, he'd found, had met her girlfriend in the rain without an umbrella. She'd try to help somehow. Her plan would inevitably succeed, making her trust Miggs more, and setting him up for a more successful long-term mission. Peter could go back to Seattle with some extra cash and a commendation. Their 'relationship' would fail and Miggs could shrug it off as Fate's cruelty.

"No sex, no declarations of love. Just some awkward fake flirting, kisses, maybe some hickeys for show. Unless you can't handle it." Miggs challenges with a smirk.

Peter, who has grown tired of this cocky young agent from the southwest division, growls and turns his head harshly to the side. Miggs tenses for a second, thinking maybe he's going to snap his neck, and yea, Peter doesn't hold human life all that sacred, but he's still a good guy. For now.

He easily sucks at the skin right below Miggs' jaw, making him gasp shakily, fingers grasping at the back of his ruined jacket.

It's his turn to smirk a little, the guy can judge his sex life all he wants, but Peter knows it comes in handy.

He leaves a trail of bruises down his neck, none too deep, since this isn't real, but enough to be visible and obvious. Miggs continues to make huffy little noises, biting his bottom lip, and it's more of a struggle than usual to remember this isn't real, it's just reaction, and so he should definitely not get hard right now.

His confidence does take a bit of a hit when he pulls away and Miggs' isn't hard, not even a little. When he sees where Peter's eyes are, he backs up so fast he almost crashes into the headboard, and stammers out something about that being enough for tonight and fleeing into the bathroom. The lock clicks loudly, and Peter's brow furrows.

There's something off about Agent H, and Peter is going to find out what.


For that night though, he's pretty much done. An update to the agency on the situation can wait until tomorrow, since leaving Miggs' room while they're supposed to be having sex doesn't make a great cover. There's some concern about there not being any noises, but remembering how far away Eliza's room is, how thick the walls are for just that purpose, and how quiet Miggs had been, he pushes it aside.

Speaking of Miggs, he's still in the bathroom, taking a shower now, and Peter decides to slide a note under the door. He realizes now that he probably should have asked before kissing the guy, even just for the mission. Guilt twinges as he writes on a fresh sheet in his notebook, taking a few minutes to decide the words.

"Sorry for not asking. It's late, I'm a bit tipsy, and I was mad my mission was compromised. Still, it was a dick move, and you don't have to forgive me. But I am sorry. I'm sleeping on the couch for tonight. If you need me for something, just shake me, I sleep light. In the event we lose communication or are separated, my cell phone number is at the bottom."

It's not the best apology note/information update in the world, but it's all he can muster for now. He yawns, wishing he could brush his teeth, but he can't. So he won't. He goes over to the little sitting room area, the agency has splurged on Miggs' mission as well, it seems. It's good though. Peter's getting a bit old to be sleeping on floors, and the couch is kind of narrow, but he'll manage.

He settles himself, kicking off his shoes and socks, ripped jacket draped over his head so his lack of glasses won't keep him from sleeping. He has googles, but they're in his room with everything else, including the case for his aides. Maybe he'll hear something cool in his dreams at least. Just as he's finally finding a position that doesn't have any wood jabbing into his too long legs, there's two light taps on his shoulder.

Peter pokes out his head carefully, sees a mix of shadow and figure merged in the bright-dark weirdness of Vegas. The addition of his glasses makes the identity of that figure obvious. Miggs, looking at him with soft exasperation.

"Idiota." he says, grabbing Peter's hand and pulling him up. He's stronger than he looks. "You won't get any sleep on that thing. Come on." he says, dragging him over to the bed with a knowing urgency that reminds Peter of his aunt, before she passed. A sharp woman, but she loved him more than the world.

"You can't sleep in those either." Miggs declares, looking at the suit with disapproval. "Strip down to your underwear, it's hot as heck in here at night anyway."

Peter flushes, but obeys the order. 'It's not like that', he chides himself, as the overshirt slides down his arms. He figures the white undershirt won't hurt him, his chest is a mess of scar tissue after so many missions, but the whispy black silhouettes of bears tattooed on his arms are now in full view.

Miggs coughs, sliding under the covers, and mutters something Peter can't hear but doesn't question. Probably disparaging the slight pudge he's earned from good meals and no way to exercise.

Still very aware of earlier, Peter decides to sleep as far away as he can, on the opposite edge. They were professionals, after all, and a queen's a decently sized bed.

But Miggs sighs, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and scoots over, wrapping his arms around his neck with a questioning noise. Peter nods, not minding, but very confused. They're not completely touching, Miggs' back is still slightly curved, but there's curly hair brushing Peter's neck and a warmth that has nothing to do with the weather.

"I forgive you." he says, after a pause, and the words unbolt some tension in Peter he hadn't noticed he was holding. "You should have asked, but I didn't mind. It felt...nice." he admits, like a middle school girl with a crush.

"I don't hate you. I know I come off badly. I'm not good with people, and I'm mean sometimes without trying to be. I've gotten used to losing people, I guess." he says, sorrow soaking the words. Peter knows the feeling. "But I love working at O.W.C.A. I love what we do. It's not what I planned. Maybe in another dimension, I'd be on the other team." he says with a shrug, like evil was a benign profession he could just jump into. Like it didn't take away everything. But Peter tries to listen. He doesn't know this agent well, but he's trying to talk, to fill the void of where do we go from here?

"This is my first big mission. The last chance for our department. CH is gonna retire soon. Then it'll just be me. Me and a lot of desert. But if I help crack this, maybe someone will care. Not even bad people want to be alone." he says, and starts to pull his arms back to his chest. When Peter turns his head to see why, he's met with teary brown eyes that avert at his.

"Fuck. Just...I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not. I'm no good at any of this. I'm not good at anything." he says, fingers digging into his hair, breath starting to hitch.

Peter doesn't know what to do. Doesn't know what you're supposed to do at least, when someone tells you so much and then breaks. But he knows what he would have wanted, the days he felt like that.

He pulls Miggs into a hug, something solid but escapable, and forces a part of himself he hates out from disuse, just for a second.

"Not bad. Yer not bad. Good guy, 'k?" he says, one thumb brushing away tear tracks, and Miggs' eyes go wide as saucers as he slowly nods. Peter smiles, places a kiss on his cheek.

"Sleep." he says, and they both fall to it.