We’ve done a lot of weird shit in the line of duty working for the Preventers this past year, but this… oh man, does this take the cake! Couldn’t tell ya what made her think the five of us could be a good boy band, but Dr. Raznick is off the Christmas list if it has anything to do with changing her meds.
“No.” Heero flat out rejects her plan. Mincing words? Not his style. Mincing faces, however… Well, Une’ll find out if she presses that teen heartthrob magazine any closer. “The risk of being recognized is too high and our eligibility for future undercover operations would be jeopardized.”
“Agreed.” Wufei carefully sets his pen down on the unused tablet on his lap. “The parameters for this mission are unacceptable.”
“I’m afraid my participation would make it impossible to achieve our objectives. While our identities as Gundam pilots have been kept secret, as the Winner heir…”
Trowa briefly pats Quat on the shoulder and gives him a reassuring smile. I catch myself staring and look away; hiding that uneasy feeling I get sometimes. I swallow hard and ignore my blond buddy’s troubled glance. I love the guy, but sometimes that empathy he’s got is a real pain in the ass.
Une clears her throat and proceeds to the next slide. “Changes can be made to sufficiently disguise your appearance.”
“Shit.” I shake my head at the concept drawings of us. “No way. This plan’s got ‘bad idea’ written all over it.”
Across from me, Wufei snorts; his arms folded proudly across his chest. “The expert agrees.”
“Hey Fei, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s blow up a sewage treatment plant while we’re still inside it.”
“One word, Maxwell: fiberglass.”
I flip him off. Just thinking about the week after that mission makes me itch.
“Enough.” Heero growls.
“We can discuss alternatives.” Trowa offers helpfully. “We can infiltrate the traffickers and gather intel from within those organizations.”
'Lady Buns' shakes her head. “The criminal network is too vast. If we are to fully uncover the sex, drugs, and weapons trafficking of this industry, we will need operatives whose status can gain them access to all three at once.”
“Even if we could pull this off, we’re not gonna get that kinda access as a damn boy band!” I grab the magazine in front of Heero and wave it around.
“If you have an alternative, Agent Maxwell…”
“Well,” all eyes on me, I swallow hard. This is the type of moment the guys keep tellin’ me I should pause for a second to think about during so I don't hang myself. “I might be able to come up with one.”
“Hm.” The director leans back in her chair and steeples her fingers like one of those cheesy movie villains plotting to take over the world. Yeah, not a comforting thought. The lady’s scary enough when she’s on our side. “You all feel the same about the plan ops submitted?”
Nods and affirmative grunts indicate our unanimous agreement. I try not to feel too smug about it. A bad plan’s a bad plan, even if it is nice having the guys back me up on this. Give us a week and a few dozen cups of coffee, and I’m sure we can come up with something better.
“Alright. Then I expect to be briefed Monday morning at 0800 on the specifications of your plan.”
“We have a tight window, Maxwell. If I do not find your strategy acceptable, we will proceed with the one set forth by ops, in which case you will all need special training and assessment to prepare for your roles.” The darkly amused glint in her eyes is enough to curl my hair.
I stand up and stretch. “Guess I better get to it then.”
The others exchange glances and nods before following suit.
“You are all dismissed until Monday. Begin wrapping up the cases you are currently working on, or prepare to hand those still in progress over to other agents for follow up.” She sighs. “Good luck, Maxwell. I’ll be eager to see what you come up with.”
“Yeah. Me, too.” I wave over my shoulder as I leave. As soon as we're clear of her office, I turn around and face the others. "So... Chinese or Italian?"
"Indian?" Quatre smiles.
"There's a place on 7th."
Heero frowns. "Takeout?"
"Even better." I grin. "They deliver."
"Vindaloo curry, hot." Wufei instructs. "I will secure Conference Room D for our use."
"And I'll order." Quat offers, pulling out his cell phone, and searches for the number.
I point out the place from the list of nearby restaurants. Getting payback on the guys in ops can wait until we figure out how the hell we're gonna get outta this mess. But first, yellow curry and some garlic naan will do us a world of good.
Heero looks at me sharply as I rattle off our usual orders. "Oh right, and some of that sweet rice pudding stuff too, Quat."
He smiles and looks between the two of us. Gives me that uncomfortable feeling again and I can't help but take a step away from all of them.
"I'll... go see if Chang needs any help." My heart is achingly fast, but I keep a grin screwed tightly on my face. Time to get outta here. I saunter away, round a corner, and then bolt for it.
Finding the nearest supply room, I duck in and lock it. The darkness doesn't make it any better, but the light will only attract attention. Okay Maxwell, calm down. Calm down, damn it! Panic has me gripped by the throat. My heart is fluttering in my chest. Quat's gotta know how I'm feelin'. He's too close.
Breathe in through the nose... hold it... and out through the mouth. Simple. My fingers thread through my bangs as the palms hold up my head. I don't have to feel this way.
Ten minutes. That's all I'll let myself have. Then I gotta go out there with my shit together and try not to think about this.
I mentioned Dr. Raznick. The prescription bottle top pops off in my hand with a press and a twist. Just one of these little bastards, and I'll pass for functional, even if it's just for a little while.