Chefs and Spies
“Whose brilliant idea was this?” Solo scowled at all of them indiscriminately.
Everybody sitting there shifted uncomfortably in the face of his wrath, even Waverly. None of them, however, either confessed nor turned traitor. Solo continued to scowl at them, his anger quite clear and he meant it. This was a stupid idea.
Finally Kuryakin cleared his throat. “Was group decision.”
Solo turned his gaze to the Russian agent, who still all his movements in a spy’s reflex. Solo didn’t believe a word of it. Now that it was presented to him, he knew that of all of them, the Russian was the least likely to come up with it. Which meant he was protecting somebody, and that meant... Solo shifted his attention to Gaby, who was pale but met his eyes defiantly.
“What is wrong with cover?” Kuryakin asked desperately, pulling Solo back to him. “You are very good cook. Would be excellent chef.”
With a shake of his head, Solo abandoned the attempt to get a confession and turned to the actual problem. “The problem, my dear partner,” he twisted the knife on the last word, “is that while I am an excellent cook for myself and a few others, that is not the same thing as a chef! Let alone a master chef, that you have engaged to oversee a kitchen to cook for a hundred guests! Not to mention that even if I could be any sort of chef, I wouldn’t have any time to do any spy work!”
He pulled out a chair from the table and swung it around, sitting down straddling it backwards. He folded his arms across the top, disregarding the line of his suit, all so he could glare at them better.
“Honestly, have none of you been back in the kitchens? Ever? Even here at the UNCLE mess, we have utter chaos going on half the time, and that’s nothing compared to a full formal meal with a gourmet chef and rich people he’s cooking for. The head chef is responsible for every dish that goes out, personally. Which means he – or she – has to be both cooking and overseeing the other cooks, and the servers who are taking the food out. The head chef barely gets a chance to pee during a meal, let alone get out to spy. Primarily, though, I don’t know anything about mass cooking for a hundred people. And a mission like this is not the time to fake it.”
Gaby turned her eyes downward, though she also had a thoughtful look on her face. Definitely her idea, and nope, never had been back in a large kitchen. Waverly was looking disgruntled, reminded of facts that he should have known and not agreed to, even if Gaby was the one selling it. Kuryakin appeared resigned. He’d probably argued against it, though not strongly enough due to lack of knowledge on his own part as well.
Solo sighed and turned his attention to fixing it. He couldn’t leave them alone for a minute, he swore, let alone a week while they planned a mission without him. “The event is in two days? It’s been posted that I’m the head chef? Could we get a different chef?”
Waverly confirmed the date. “A different chef might be possible, however then we wouldn’t be able to get you inside. At least not where you could meet the leaders directly. The whole thing has been very tricky to arrange as it is.”
“Right.” Solo mentally flipped through the options. “Then I have a broken arm. I’ll head off to medical to devise it. Right after I stop in the mess hall and persuade Jacque that he has what it takes to be a field agent.” Jacque could easily be a master chef if he didn’t like working for UNCLE so much. Persuading him, though... that would be the hardest part. If he could pull that off, Solo had no doubt that the two of them could work the kitchen together.
He stood up and turned the chair around again, pushing it back in. “Next time one of you has a brilliant idea for my cover... talk to me first. Or at least check with somebody who knows what that cover will entail.”
Solo left the briefing room with another shake of his head. Honestly, sometimes it felt like he was better off without partners.
“Sorry, Cowboy,” came a quiet voice even as the door closed.
Unseen, Solo let his mouth curve up. Well, they tried. He did have to give them that. And it was rather flattering, to think that his cooking was good enough that Gaby thought he could be a gourmet chef – and the others agreed with her. Even Kuryakin probably hadn’t disagreed on the food part, just the cover details. He ate Solo’s meals readily enough whenever the chance occurred.
When this was over, Solo would have to cook them all another meal, just to confirm his god-like status in the kitchen. A personal kitchen, not an industrial one.