Getting out of the US is tough. Getting out of the lifestyle- Well, that's harder.
In the past, Lucy has always been hip-deep in any operation she and Scud have put together, but that was before Amy came barrelling into her life, trailing a stormy wake of D.E.B.S operatives, international law enforcement agencies, and one very unhappy ex-boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend Bobby is not Lucy's biggest fan at all, and she can't figure out whether it's because she's a criminal mastermind and he's Homeland Security, or whether he's just holding a grudge because she stole Amy away from his clingy, Captain Whitebread arms. Either way, as Scud points out, it behooves Lucy to keep a low profile, both professionally and personally, so that no inconvenient flags go up when she and Amy fly the coop. He also points out, in the very reasonable way that Lucy really hates, that since she's giving up her life of crime to settle down with her Sapphic honeybun, she might as well start now rather than later. Reluctantly, Lucy agrees and spends the next few weeks skulking around the lair, drinking way too much coffee and inadvertently starting a flame-war on the FBI website when she goes to check whether her profile on Most Wanted has been downgraded.
Scud pulls his usual 'man behind the curtain' tricks and flies Amy and Janet into Mexico as part of a purported kidnapping, switches out Amy for a ringer, sends her back into the States with false papers and a bad wig, and then shoves her onto a cruise ship that promises the dubious entertainment of 'a live performance of that well-known classic, The Lady Vanishes, starring...' none other than one Lucy Diamond. And the Lady does vanish. Actually, it's more like a two-for-one deal. When the cruise hits Rio, she and Amy high-tail it out of there. After that, it's cake. And as an added bonus, Scud sends a message to the e-mail account that no-one knows about but the two of them, stating that he and Janet are taking turns at developing Stockholm Syndrome in a villa fifty minutes outside Cancun. Lucy's happy for him, but she threatens to cut off his balls if he ever attaches photos to his e-mails again.
So they get to Barcelona, and Amy settles into her new school, and Lucy makes enthusiastic noises about gouache and perspective and stuff, and is only half-faking it because she loves Amy more than anything she's ever loved before, even more than crime, and it makes her grin helplessly when her girlfriend bounces into their tiny hotel room, looking ridiculously golden and WASP-y, all white shorts and swinging ponytail, waving her hands in excitement. The thing is though- Lucy's kind of. Bored.
School takes up a good chunk of Amy's time, and there are only so many museums and art galleries and shops that Lucy can wander around before she starts looking speculatively at shiny things and camera systems and exit routes. It's not her fault, okay? This shit is hardwired into her, and she's getting twitchy with nothing to do. Even Amy's noticed, and has suggested, with a sideways look and a worried note in her voice, that perhaps Lucy could "Retrain? Or go back to school, maybe! There are some really good courses at the local institute." Lucy made the mistake of snorting at this, and that, right there, was their first ever fight. It's not like she can't see where Amy's coming from: those long, sweltering nights on the cruise ship, lying too close for real comfort in the heat but unable to pull themselves apart for long, they'd promised each other that they were bound for new lands, new beginnings. Janet had called it 'hideously romantic' when Amy had told her, laughing, that she and Lucy had pledged their troth, and Lucy supposes it is: romantic and absolutely hideous. If it weren't for the utter, beautiful devastation that Amy has wrought in both their lives, Amy who has given up everything to be with her nemesis, Lucy would have been disgusted by it herself.
Instead, she's only half-ashamed of their shared sappiness, and more deliriously happy and bewildered and gleefully triumphant in the face of international law enforcement, because come on, that's two recruitment toasters she's owed; one for seducing Amy over to the Gay, which she's prepared to admit was its own reward, and one for luring her away from her fascist-lite, antiseptic, becomingly-kneesocked future as the Perfect D.E.B. Supervillains the world over should be sending her telegrams of thanks. As it is, she's had to settle for several e-mails from Scud, complete with textual eye-rolling and entendres that are so basic they're more single than double--Lucy suspects that Scud is getting separation anxiety--and a couple of cautious approaches from the higher echelons of European criminality.
She doesn't mention them to Amy, but Scud comes to visit a few weeks later--separation anxiety, Lucy's just sayin'--after a reluctant Janet has been rescued by Max and her new team, and proceeds to hijack Lucy's laptop for 'legitimate business stuff' before he says, casually, "Oh, hey, the Radon brothers? I didn't even know they were still in the game. That's old school, Luce; that'd be like, shit, working with Nortarbartolo and the School of Turin."
"Nortarbartolo got caught, Scud," Lucy says. "And get the fuck out of my e-mail. What the hell?"
"Oh, come on, I've been hacking your e-mail ever since you've had one to hack," says Scud, raising his eyebrows at her over the laptop monitor. "What did you think I was going to do on here?"
"Look at porn like any normal sidekick."
"I am, thanks to your ex-law enforcement girlfriend, no longer a sidekick," says Scud. "I'm just another unemployed schmuck. Surprisingly, no one legitimate wants to employ you when your only transferable skills are setting up heists and lesbian blind dates."
"Hey!" objects Lucy. "They were really good heists. And the blind dates were--" She grimaces. "Okay, the blind dates were terrible, but loyalty is a valuable quality in a henchman. Which you are not. Any more."
"Wow," says Scud, looking fascinated. "Was that supposed to boost my self-esteem? Because I've gotta tell you, your transferable skills are looking a little shoddy there as well."
"I know," wails Lucy. "I can't find a job anywhere, and I can't go back to supervillainy or my girlfriend will kill me. Possibly literally. And I've tried, Scud, I've really tried; I even handed in CVs at temp agencies!"
"Yeah?" says Scud. "How did that go?"
"They wanted to know what I'd been doing for the last five years," Lucy says.
"I take it 'crime' was not the answer they were looking for?" Scud guesses.
"Not so much."
They sit in shared and gloomy silence for a few minutes.
"Maybe we could ask El-"
"I already tried that," says Lucy. "He's gone back into the business."
"Dude, really?" Scud says. "Because El Gato was all 'I have renounced sin for I have found Jesus'."
"Yeah, well, he lost him again," says Lucy.
"Well, we could have a look at--"
"They shifted the exhibition out on world tour yesterday. Also your girlfriend, who is currently law enforcement, would shoot you with her Hello Kitty Uzi."
"Valid point," says Scud.
They both heave terrible sighs of woe and pout at each other a little before grinning, because seriously, hot girlfriends and Cayman Island bank accounts, and no charges pending? Things could be worse.
Their moment of complicity is broken as crockery shatters downstairs and voices rise up shrilly from the wooden-floored foyer of the hotel.
"What the hell?" says Scud, eyebrows rising precipitously again as he closes the laptop down and tilts his head to listen more closely. "I thought this was one of those boudoir hotels; all classy and shit. It sounds like more like that dump we had to hide in when that thing went bad in Bolivia."
"Boutique hotel, not boudoir," Lucy corrects him, snorting slightly. "Last week, the manager took off with three months' profits, half the wine cellar, and the owner's wife."
Scud winces. "Man, that's gotta sting."
"Mm," agrees Lucy. "I think the owner's more pissed off about the wine though. He's been trying to find a replacement manager, but apparently, the applicants aren't what he would have hoped for." Downstairs, Senor Perez shrieks at some nameless incompetent to remove themselves from his beautiful hotel.
"How hard can it be?" says Scud, yawning. "What do hotel managers even do, anyway?"
"Uh," Lucy says, uncertainly. "I guess--order people around? Con people into giving you their money? Charm them so they come back and give you their money ag--" Her voice trails off and they stare at each other, open-mouthed, in dawning comprehension.
"Lucy," says Scud, with conviction, "we may have just found ourselves a profession."
It's hard work, but she and Scud are used to that: the long hours, the excruciating planning, the gritty eyes and battery-acid stomachs that result from sleep deprivation and instant coffee and the certainty that some vital detail has passed them by are also pretty familiar from a lifetime of supervillainy and associated henchman-ing.
What surprises them is not the work but the people, because without the goad of being paid or getting caught behind them, people are far less likely to do as they're told. They want a day off or their own way or another pillow. They don't respect the authority that the names Lucy Diamond and Scud used to invoke. They need to go and look after their kids or their mothers or their next door neighbour's mother. These people have weird priorities, Lucy and Scud privately agree, but Amy and Janet are so proud of the two of them that threats or blackmail or outright bribery don't even seem as appealing anymore.
Besides, Lucy and Scud don't really need to use force, because it turns out they're pretty damn good at the hotel business. Profits have gone through the roof, and the staff are on board, and guests just keep coming back, so Senor Perez is pretty happy with the way things are going, and even starts talking about expanding; maybe opening up another hotel in the South of France. He gets even more excited after the hotel is awarded three extra stars and a laudatory write-up in two broadsheets, as a result of which his wife returns, asking for a reconciliation. They break up again two weeks later, but Senora Perez brought back the wine cellar so Senor Perez is happy as a clam.
Lucy suggests, nonchalantly, that she might know of two entirely respectable and reliable old gentlemen with the requisite hotelier skills who just happen to live in the South of France, and would Senor Perez be interested? After all, as she tells Scud later while they celebrate in their office with brandy and cigars and wait for Amy to get back from school, she's always wanted to work with the Radon brothers.