Word count: 1218
prompts - Letter and Luck
Napoleon attempted to bring some order to the bed, but nothing short of stripping it and remaking it would suffice. He finally just pulled the bedspread over the rumpled bedclothes and sat to put on his shoes.
“Our escort from the local office should be here any minute,” he said as he tied his left shoe. At the nonresponse, he glanced up and saw Illya standing in front of the mirror, his turtleneck’s collar pulled away from his neck. He was examining the various bruises there. “Are you okay? Do they hurt?”
“Quite the contrary. I was just remembering back to the last time I received one of these. I think it was my second year in Paris.” He let the collar go and ran a finger through his hair. “I never took you for a biter, Napoleon.”
“I’m not, usually.” He finished tying his other shoe and stood. “You bring out the animal in me.”
Illya shot him a look of disbelief just as there was a sharp rap on the door. He had his weapon and moved quietly to the left side of the doorway. He nodded and Napoleon moved towards to the right side.
“We’re here from the local travel agency. Your uncle sent us.”
Napoleon cautiously opened the door to reveal two men, both wearing dark suits and overcoats.
“I am assuming you have a letter of introduction,” Napoleon said, his gun still at the ready.
One man slowly reached into his jacket pocket and took out his ID. Napoleon glanced at it and then did a double take.
“Sadly, yes, really I am Jack Sprat. If you like that, you’ll love this. Meet my partner, Kevin Lean.”
“Parents, what are they thinking when they name us? Napoleon Solo, and my partner, Illya Kuryakin.”
“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Sprat shook Napoleon’s hand, but spoke to Illya. “Is it true you chain linked an entire satrap and blew it with one charge?”
Illya smiled. “I was having a good day.”
“Teach me,” Lean said as Napoleon ushered them into the room.
“All right. I will.”
“Welcome to San Francisco. Sorry we couldn’t meet you at the airport. Things have been a little busy around here.” Sprat looked at the rumpled bed. “At least you were able to make good use of the time.”
“You were able to catch up on your sleep? Bad flight?” Sprat sat in one of the two chairs in the room. It was so small, he seemed to overwhelm it.
“Colicky baby,” Illya muttered. “But I was referring to your comment about being busy.
“THRUSH has declared open season here. They’ve been starting fires as fast as we’ve been putting them out.” Lean moved to the window and glanced out it. “Worse than that, we can’t seem to find their nest. We’ve been all over the town and nothing. The current thought is that they’re operating in some hidden spot in Chinatown.”
“Trouble?” Napoleon shut the door and locked it. The room seemed overwhelmed with just the four of them in it.
“Just checking.” He let the curtain fall. “No one seems to be beneath their notice these days. “What is your plan?”
“We need to check out Down the Rabbit Hole.”
“That dive?” Lean exchanged a doubtful look with Sprat. “Why?”
“It was something that Delno Vickrey said to me. He quoted a poem from Alice in Wonderland to me. I didn’t think much about it as I was minutes from dying, but then we found something in an old file that reference Alice in Wonderland again. Between that and the THRUSH upsurge here, we thought the connection was something that needed to be checked out.”
“Damn clever, Solo.”
“Not me, Mr. Waverly.”
Illya had retrieved his briefcase and popped the top. He pulled out a file and held up a black and white photo. “One of your fellow agents spotted Delno Vickrey going into <i>Down the Rabbit Hole </i>over in Sausalito. The problem is that he would know Napoleon on sight.”
“But you don’t know.”
“Exactly and that’s why we contacted you. We need back up.”
“Tell us what you need.”
“At your office.” Napoleon looked around. “I have the feeling the walls have ears here.”
“Okay. I’ve got a car around the corner.” Lean stood and pulled out his keys. “Let’s go.”
Illya grabbed his jacket and pulled it on as Napoleon retrieved his communicator from the nightstand. Then following the other agents’ lead, he snatch up his overcoat.
The elevator was still on the same floor and creaked its way back down to the ground floor. If it wasn’t for gravity, it never would have made it. The door rumbled open and they quickly walked through the small lobby and past the ancient bellman. He nodded to them.
“You gents need a recommendation for a restaurant tonight? I know some good ones.”
“Perhaps some other time,” Illya said, politely. No one else in the lobby paid them any attention as they walked out into the City. Despite the fact that it was still afternoon, the sun had sunk behind the tall buildings of the business district and the air was brisk with a sharp edge to it.
“Welcome to July in the City,” Lean said as he turned right, towards to the traffic light. “I’m in the parking garage.”
“Does it ever warm up here?” Napoleon pulled his suit coat closed. From the stuffiness of the hotel, the air was refreshing, but he still shivered.
“Yeah, it’s gorgeous in October.”
The men blended in with the throng of tourists, shoppers and business men and women waiting for the light to change. There were no gunning engines as they crossed Geary and then down Mason. No truck tried to run them down and there was no retort of a shot as they entered the parking structure and walked past a flower shop and a car rental agency.
Lean paused at the pay kiosk and passed over his ticket. The man studied the ticket, then Lean. “You don’t look like the fella that brought it in.”
“That was my partner.” He hooked a finger over his shoulder and the parking attendant scowled at Sprat. He climbed off his stool and disappeared into a small room. There was the sound of machinery and the elevator started up.
“You have very grumpy elevators in this town,” Illya said as he studied the area around them. “However putting a flower shop in a parking garage is genius.”
“No wasted space here. Oh, and it's the salt air here. It's hell on the machinery.” Lean glanced at his watch. “I’m on for fifteen.”
“After that look he gave you? Twenty.”
“What’s going on?” Napoleon looked from one to the other.
“We’re betting on how long it will take to get our vehicle. You want some of the action? Winner has to buy drinks.”
Napoleon looked over at Illya and shrugged his shoulders. “As luck would have it, I’m a betting man. “Eighteen. Illya?”
“My father advised me to never take a sure bet. I will opt out.”
Suddenly there was a muffled explosion and the structure shook.
“Earthquake!” someone screamed and people ran out onto the street as smoke billowed down the exit ramp. The agents didn't move.
“Somehow I have a feeling THRUSH knows we are in town,” Illya said, looking at Napoleon, who nodded.
“Somehow, I think you are right.”