“Okay, so, let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Hawkeye says, ignoring the resounding chorus of snorts as he checks his notebook. “We currently have two ongoing cases, correct?”
“Roger that,” Donna says. “We’ve got the antique collector-”
“I meant the cases of booze in the basement, but continue.” When he sees she’s not impressed, he tries for a grin. “By all means, keep talking.”
“As I was saying, we need to send someone out to verify a painting bought at auction, allegedly old and valuable. Owner wants to sell it at a markup, but can’t do that if it’s a fake.”
“Well he can,” Charles says, “though he may have a harder time of it. The other case is rather an interesting one- a man claims that he owned an authentic Egyptian mummy, some rather obscure pharoah and supposedly valuable, though I haven’t the faintest idea why. Anyway, he now believes it’s been stolen.”
“The mummy strikes,” Donna says with an impressed nod.
“And what about the uh, uh…” Hawkeye loses his train of thought (and his nerve) and checks his notes again. “The forgery at the Portrait Gallery?”
Donna grins. “Check’s in the mail.”
“Great. That’s great. I’ll let Potter know, shall I?”
“Am I to take that to mean this meeting is over?” Charles asks.
“Well there is one more thing…” Hawkeye says. “The two of you are gonna have to date.”
He tries to say it casually, hoping they won’t have noticed.
Judging by the way they’re both staring at him, they have.
It’s not shaping up to be his lucky day, it seems.
“What… exactly do you mean by that, Pierce?” Charles asks politely, recovering first.
“Was there room for you to not get it? I said-”
“We heard what you said,” Donna cuts in. “We’re just still waiting for you to make sense.”
“Well, ladies and germs, since you asked so nicely, we’ve got a case, and it involves an old friend of ours. The name Sam Flagg ring any bells?”
“That paranoid fucker from the CIA?” Donna asks. “Yeah, we remember him. But unless he’s started selling stolen Ming vases out of the back of a van, it’s not our business what he’s up to.”
“Hear hear,” Charles says, raising an eyebrow. “It is quite literally none of our affair, Pierce. A private agency, with no government affiliation? I say leave it to the professionals, which we-”
“Look,” Hawk cuts him off, impatient. “I know this isn’t our usual wheelhouse, and I’m not asking that we trade specialties, alright? It’s a one-time offer.”
“And why should we care if the man is selling state secrets?” Donna asks. “Frankly, the state has a lot to answer for.”
“C’mon Donna,” BJ says, entering the conversation at last, though his eyes are trained on the ceiling while he spins in his desk chair. “Everyone knows a traitor makes for a good story.”
“A feel-good, star-spangled kind of glory,” Hawk agrees. “Really gets the patriotism flowing.”
Donna sits up, setting down her notes. “Name one patriot in this room, Hawkeye.”
Hawkeye keeps his mouth shut.
“We have the word of a reliable informant that Flagg is cutting a deal today with a buyer,” BJ says patiently.
“Oh, I see,” Donna says. “That’s a good deal you made, Hawk.”
“Easy, Pierce. If we apprehend the scoundrel, they take the credit. If we fail to, we take the blame.”
“It was a good deal. Though it’s Potter’s genius, not mine.”
“Be that as it may, I refuse to jeopardize Donna’s life-”
“And your own.”
“And my own, thank you, so that you and Hunnicutt can get your rocks off playing Spy vs. Spy!”
“Why Charles,” Hawkeye says, holding a hand to his chest. “There’s no need to be vulgar.”
“Oh go fuck yourself,” Donna says, startling a laugh out of BJ. “Riddle me this, Hawkeye: why dating?”
“Because…” Hawkeye frowns, lost in thought. “Because…”
“Because,” BJ says, swooping in, “Flagg is paranoid, and has a disease you’ve probably heard of: itchy trigger finger. If you go crusading in as professionals, he might open fire.”
“Which would be, in terms of PR and civilian casualties, no bueno,” Hawk adds. “The guy once broke his own arm as part of a routine investigation, he’s not exactly gonna get ‘plays well with others’ on his report card, you know?”
“Let me put it this way: if he sees you just as one more lovesick couple out for a nice afternoon, he won’t be as guarded. A little nauseated, maybe, but the more off guard we catch him, the better.”
“Okay, that’s one why.”
“Now we just need a, e, i, o and u?” Hawk asks, grinning.
“Why can’t you two do it?” Donna asks, gesturing to him and BJ. “You two would make a perfectly convincing couple. Hell, you already act like you’re married, the way you carry on.”
BJ and Hawk exchange a look, and Hawk grins. “Because you two make such a handsome pair?”
“I’m flattered, Pierce, but not interested in your pathetic attempts at flirting,” Charles says.
“Because… you have the best chemistry?” Hawk tries again, and grins when they avoid each other’s eye.
“While they do have a spark,” BJ says, “that’s not the reason.”
“Then stop beating around the bush and just tell us already!”
“Look, Donna, it’s not that Beej and I don’t want to, but strictly speaking it wouldn’t be too good for men of our reputations-“
“Hawk, we all know about your reputation,” BJ says tiredly, as he stops spinning. “Get on with it.”
“It’s because you two are heterosexual. Or rather,” BJ amends, as Donna opens her mouth in outrage, “you appear heterosexual.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand. How is that relevant?”
“Well, one, you’ll attract less attention than two men, and B,” Hawk says, ticking the reasons off on his fingers, “Flagg.”
“Not big on pride, Flagg?”
“Well, no, actually, he sees two men holding hands and it’s suddenly a queer communist conspiracy. As in, saw ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as a how-to guide in outing people. He’s everyone’s favorite Cold War villain of their choice in one paranoid package, big capital-R Red bow on top.”
“We’re not sure he knows the Cold War ended,” BJ adds. “He may have had his brain cryogenically frozen.”
“Like… Walt Disney?” Donna asks. When everyone turns and stares at her, she turns pink. “You know, the… forget it.”
“Anyway,” Hawkeye says, “it’s already got the big ‘yes’ stamped on it in red letters, courtesy of our wonderful government. Potter worked it all out with the federales.”
“Hawk, you hate the government!”
“Yeah, well I hate Flagg more! I can’t stand any guy who’d bring in a prisoner to get him fixed up so he can shoot him once they’ve gotten to the parking lot!”
“So take him out yourself,” Charles says. “No need to involve Donna and I in your petty little grudge match.”
“No. I had a very clear understanding when I got into this business: no guns.”
“Besides,” BJ says, “the government generally tends to frown on rogue agents like Hawk here.”
“They always did call me a lovable rogue,” Hawk interjects with a grin.
“Generally , the government frowns upon any story they can’t control.”
“And what exactly makes you so certain that Donna and I will be able to, in your quaint backwoods phraseology, ‘pull it off’ ?”
“Well, Charles, as an esteemed veteran of the Hasty Pastry-"
“Hasty Pudding.” It’s muttered through gritted teeth. “Simpleton.”
“Whatever. You’ve spent enough years telling me about your acting skills, now it’s time to put your pesos where you put your hasty pudding.”
Donna snorts, but Charles frowns. “Pierce, I can’t-“
“And why not? I mean, I know she’s a little rough around the edges-“
“Fuck you, Hawkeye.”
“But hey, she’s sharp as a tack, and funny as hell, not to mention a total catch.”
“Hawkeye,” Donna says patiently. “Don’t put up a billboard, I’m not looking for a husband. I’ll do it.”
“You’ll what?” Charles asks, turning to her in horror.
“I’ll do it.” She shrugs.
“How reliable is your source?” Donna asks BJ, ignoring Charles’s shock.
“If it’s that sniveling worm from the Post ,” Charles starts, having regained the power of speech.
“It is not Frank Burns,” Hawkeye says, grinning. “Good ol’ Ferret Face wouldn’t know an international conspiracy if it danced naked in front of him wearing a redacted dossier.”
“It’s Margaret Houlihan.”
Donna blinks. “Margaret Houlihan? As in Lieutenant Colonel Margaret Houlihan?”
“One and the same,” BJ says. “You know her?”
“By reputation only. How in hell did you get Lieutenant Colonel Fucking Houlihan on our side?”
“Watch your mouth, it offends Charles’s sensibilities.”
“Oh fuck you,” she said dismissively. “How do you know her?”
“We’re… old friends. Intimates, if you will,” Hawk says with a wink.
“Don’t be modest on our account, Pierce, I’ve heard enough stomach-curdling descriptions of your conquests by now to consider myself immune.”
“Well there was that time with the whip-“ Hawk starts gleefully.
“Stop,” BJ cuts him off. “Focus. The point isn’t that Hawk and her have fucked, because Hawkeye has fucked everyone-”
“The point is that she knows all the scuttlebutt.”
“Especially who’s fucking who at the Pentagon,” Donna adds. “Did she get a piece of Flagg too?”
“No, regrettably she did not get the part of Betsy Ross in the school play. But she knows of Flagg, and she’s the one who tipped Potter off about-”
“So she’s reliable.”
“Didn’t I just say that?”
“It’s hard to tell sometimes,” BJ tells him, grinning. “You tend to ramble on.”
“Shut up.” Hawk shoves his chair away.
“Anyway, before you go on stage, you’ve got to do something… about how you look.”
“Well you think I just slapped this on this morning?” Donna asks, pointing to her face.
“And what about you?” Hawkeye asks, pointing at Charles with his pen. “How are you with accents?”
“No, Charles, Mickey Mouse.” Hawkeye rolls his eyes. “Yeah, you.”
“What’s wrong with the way Chuck talks?” Donna asks, suddenly defensive.
“It’s too distinct. How many people talk like him anymore?”
“The entire population of Boston?” Charles suggests.
“Maybe the population of your Boston, Charles, but not normal, regular-people Boston.”
“All right, all right. I suppose I could muster a passable accent if forced to… Scottish, perhaps?”
“Oh?” Donna asks, amused. “Are we going to look at tapestries, Dr. Jones?”
They share a quick smile, and Hawk rolls his eyes. “Scottish, English, whatever. I don’t care. Do a Russian accent if you want, it’s supposedly a free country.”
“Maybe… not Russian. Cold War villain, remember?”
“Might be funny-“
“Hawkeye. If you plan to let Chuck get shot just so you can get your jollies, I will fucking walk, and I’ll take Charles with me.”
Charles looks at her. “… You will?”
“I just don’t want a repeat of last time,” Hawkeye says.
He grins as Donna blushes pink, but she doesn’t break eye contact.
“Okay,” Hawk says, “patching into the security cameras in three… two… one, action!”
“A Hawk’s eye view if you will,” BJ jokes, as Hawk points to the monitor, grinning as Hawk gives him a derisive ‘did you really just say that’ look.
BJ squints at the screen, still grinning. “I see bad guys one and two.”
“Donna?” Hawk says. “You seeing those two?”
"Abbott and Costello? Yeah," she murmurs. "I'm seeing them."
“Don’t engage,” BJ says. “They may not be there for you.”
“Of course they are, darling, don’t be naive.”
“Any brilliant ideas?”
She looks up at the closest security camera and gives them what Hawk thinks is a wink. She’s still dressed like she’s on her way to a night at the opera, pearls glittering in the streetlights on the grainy footage.
Instead of turning away, she just keeps walking straight towards the two idiots hanging around the corner.
“Is she actually-” BJ starts, and Hawk holds up a hand.
“Shh, this is the good part.”
Hawkeye leans in closer, watching her stroll elegantly past the two minions. One of them says something to her, as the other grabs her wrist.
And then there’s the flash of metal in the streetlights as Donna pulls out a katana, razor-sharp and lethal. It’s joined within seconds by its fellow, and Donna advances on the two men unfortunate enough to cross her.
“Match,” Hawk says, satisfied, sitting back in his chair.
Donna slashes in the direction of one of the men, but he dodges it. The other tries to grab her and gets the hilt of her katana smashed into his face for his troubles.
“You know,” Hawk says, watching her, deep in thought. “We’re missing something here.”
“No kidding,” Beej agrees. “Like who the hell these guys are working for. That idiot with the stolen Ming vase, maybe-”
“No, not that, not that… Aha! Got it!” Hawk starts rapidly typing away at his keyboard. “Gotta set the scene. After all, what’s an action movie without a killer soundtrack?”
He grins, as “Killer Queen” starts blasting out of the van speakers as Donna elegantly hacks and slashes at the two assailants.
“Never underestimate the power of a good song,” he says to BJ, who’s laughing too hard to answer.
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous Hawkeye, those two idiots would have attacked me no matter what accent I used. Those fools were determined. Besides, I didn’t kill anyone.”
“You almost caused an international incident,” Hawkeye says. “Again.”
“They had it coming, attacking a poor helpless woman like that.”
“You? Helpless? Hardly.”
“Well they didn’t know that. For all they knew, I was helpless.”
“I have never met a woman less so than you,” Charles says softly, touching her shoulder. “Including my sister, which is truly saying something.”
“Th- thank you, Chuck,” Donna stammers. “Um. You’re not helpless either.”
“Maybe not. But I doubt I would have dispatched with those scoundrels with quite as much elegance as you did.
“Thanks, Chuck.” She’s definitely pink by this point. “And for someone who’s not a spy, it felt quite 007 of me.”
“Perhaps I should put your name in for the next Bond then?” he suggests, amused.
“Oh I don’t know,” Donna’s flustered.
“Look, you crazy kids, I know you’re the stars of our show, but that doesn’t mean you have to get all ‘backseat at the drive-in’ on us, we’re not even past the previews yet,” Hawk jokes and they jump apart.
“C’mon, we have to take you down to hair, makeup and costumes,” BJ adds. “I already called Klinger.”
“You know, Hunnicutt, most people borrow a cup of sugar from their neighbours, not the entire spring collection.”
“He said he’d be honored to take up the challenge,” BJ says with a shrug. “Besides, he already closed the shop for the day to help out.”
“And if I have reservations-“
“We don’t take them,” Hawk advises. “Only walk-ins. And now I leave you in Maxwell Q’s capable hands.”
“Oh, spare me from that Lebanese lout,” Charles groans. “If you entrust him with our wardrobe, I will doubtless end up in a mink coat.”
“It’s too hot for furs,” Hawkeye points out.
“Besides,” Donna says, looping her arm through Charles’s. “I’ve always seen you as more of a velvet guy.”
“Donna, I say this with all due respect, but you are not helping.”
“I don’t have to help, I just have to be funny.” She stands on her toes and kisses him on the cheek.
“Well,” he says, turning red. “You certainly are, at that.”
“C’mon lovebirds, Max won’t wait all day,” BJ says from the doorway, and they break apart.
“And hey, if that’s the show you can put on in private…”
“I’d advise you not to finish that sentence,” Charles threatens.
Hawkeye just rolls his eyes as they leave. “Well, I guess every show has its divas.”