Story Short #4

genre: Fan Fiction (James Bond)

I hear you’ve been looking for me
Have you forgotten, that we are family?
Brother and his keeper, though of different times
Shades of a colour from the darker kinds

Look beneath the skin
Skinbreaker

You want to know me, I already know you
Big stakes to win, yet nothing to lose
You know me, because I know you
Yet you stay confused
Look beneath the skin

See the shadow behind the whispers
The phantom on the stage
The finger on the trigger

chorus
We’re two of a kind, you and I
Marked in black and white
Reflections in our broken mirrors
Look beneath me for I already know you

Skinbreaker

Yet here we are
Opposing ends of a No Man’s Land
We stand apart, ten, twelve feet tall
All kinds of Men, monsters and all

Look beneath the skin
Skinbreaker

chorus
We’re two of a kind, you and I
Marked in black and white
Reflections in our broken mirrors
Look beneath me for I already know you

Skinbreaker

Yet here we are
Opposing ends of a No Man’s Land
We stand apart, ten, twelve feet tall
All kinds of Men, monsters and all

verse
Seven lives to give,
Only seven weeks left to live
I can’t give you another chance — You wouldn’t take if I did, but
I’m an honourable kind
The only one living on the line

No bullets left in you, so
I’ll treat you the same
A cut for you, a cut for me
Let us see what lays beneath

(whispered)

Look beneath the skin
Look beneath the skin

chorus
We’re two of a kind, you and I
Marked in black and white
Reflections in our broken mirrors
Look beneath me for I already know you

Skinbreaker

Yet here we are
Opposing ends of a No Man’s Land
We stand apart, ten, twelve feet tall
All kinds of Men, monsters and all

Skinbreaker

___________________________________________________________________

M steepled her fingers over her desk, her dark eyes searching for all the information they could glean from a tracker on a screen that supposedly showed his location. The man himself was on her desk and in her ear, talking up a hostess into letting him follow her around on her shift. Knowing him, that wouldn’t be everything the hostess would let herself be talked into, but that was not important.

“Shaken, not stirred,” he said, and M had to suppress a snarl over the tedious phrase. “The only way to make a gentleman’s drink. This gentleman’s, anyway.”

“Why,” said the other woman, her voice coming more clearly from the speakers on M’s desk; the second microphone disguised behind a button on his tux. “I never took you for the gentlemanly sort, James.”

“Of course. If you’re curious, why don’t we find someplace quiet to see just what sort of man I am?”

The woman giggled, and M inhaled deeply through her fingers. Get on with the bloody thing, 007.

“It’ll cost you, my gentleman. Are you certain you want to show off tonight?”

“It isn’t showing off if I do it all the time, is it?” The girl gave a nervous titter. You’re losing her. Settle it now. “Tell you what. Let’s you and I cease this talking and go put our money where our mouths are.” The girl tittered again but M almost felt her nod and take 007 by the arm. The icon on her screen dutifully began to move.

She relaxed a fraction of an inch.

Another icon appeared to clamour for her attention. A voice belonging to one of his handlers spoke in her ear, “007, remote surveillance just spotted Olkot entering the premises. Be on your guard.” His voice was soft and measured, for all its urgency, the mark of an experienced handler. It was pointless, however. 007 would already be looking for a way to dump the hostess he’d just won over and make his way towards an inevitable confrontation with Olkot. She tried anyway.

“007, your mission is to gather intelligence, not start a bloodbath. Have your fun, plant the bugs, and get out of there.” Her voice was crisp over the network. He heard her. She counted to three. Perhaps this time he would listen.

“Darling, would you mind terribly if I pop into the restroom before we start business? I fear I had too much of the wine upstairs. Would you wait for me in our room?” Damn you, 007.

“Oh, of course,” said the oblivious girl. At least he didn’t kill her.

A door closed on the desk. “James,” M snapped. “Explain yourself.”

“Apologies, Ma’am,” he said calmly. “I was just wondering.” The speaker on the desk rustled. The nerve. He’s adjusting his tie. “What are the chances Mr. Olkot would turn up here on the same night I try to slip into a party he’s not supposed to be attending?”

She had to stop herself from grinding her teeth but was spared from answering by the handler.

“007, we always accounted for the possibility that Olkot would shuffle his schedule, as he’s prone to do. There’s no reason to believe he knows you’re there.” That won’t stop him. M steeled herself.

“Isn’t there?” said 007. “I’ll just have to make sure, won’t I?”

M said nothing.

Another coin cast like yours. Were circumstances different, he would be with us, and you with them, and nothing would be different. Could you kill yourself? Again? How many times must you hunt down what was almost you?

She knew the answer to that. While too many evidently shared his potential, she had yet to meet another that made the choices he did.

“Where was Olkot last seen?” asked 007. The icon on screen briskly walked down a blue schematic corridor, halted briefly at the end and strode on again.

“You’re coming up on his last known location now,” said the handler. “We lost him when he entered the main ballroom.” The waffle of a crowd indulging in excess of champagne and body heat filled M’s office. The music in the background was loud enough to make M’s desk vibrate but she left the volume up. It wouldn’t do to miss anything because it was drowned out. In an office downstairs, James’ handlers would be massaging their temples as it all throbbed directly into their ears.

Mercifully, James’ earpiece also had the handy function of cancelling out any sound that wasn’t his voice so she could differentiate between the ruckus on her desk and the conversation in her ear. Still, she was relieved her desk was bolted down.

“007, have you found him yet?” M knew from experience that there was no turning him away now. Better to bite her pride, again, and be productive.

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am,” said James. “He’s at the bar. Just ordered two drinks.”

Two drinks, she wondered. Surveillance didn’t spot any —

“I think I’ll accept his invitation. Let’s go see what he wants.” Of course.

“James, you cannot just walk up to this man and have a cozy chat with him!” No answer. “James!”

“Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all, Mr. Bond. Do take a seat.” The accent was only vaguely Russian, if she wasn’t trained to recognise dialects, she might have missed it altogether. Upstairs, one of James’ handlers would already have Olkot’s file open, hurriedly adding notes to be organised later.

“Please, call me James. I take it there’s no need for introductions.”

“Of course not. You may call me Roger.” M could almost hear the cross-referencing storm this little piece of information would have caused.

She heard James shift in his seat. Don’t drink whatever he gave you.

“I take it you have business here,” continued Olkot. “You must understand that I cannot allow you to continue unsupervised.” M typed in a command on her computer that singled out the sound of Olkot’s voice and muted the background noise.

“I understand,” replied James candidly. “I simply don’t agree.”

M could almost hear the air boil with restrained violence for an instant as both men took the other’s measure. “I thought you might feel that way,” said Olkot, and then the moment passed.

M took the opportunity to remind James of his environment. “007, there are civilians all around you.”

“This isn’t doing much for our first meeting, is it. So far we’ve reached an impasse within a minute and we’ve not even touched our drinks.” James. You idiot.

“Indeed. Shall we remedy that?” The sound of glasses scraping a wooden bar. “To your health,” said Olkot before evidently downing his glass. James… Another glass was plucked off the bar, though this time it would be 007’s.

Dammit, Bond! M snapped an order to 007’s handlers, “Have a detox unit on standby. The moment he’s back, I want his stomach pumped.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” came the terse reply. She turned her attention back to the bar.

“Now that we’re acquainted,” said 007, and M could almost feel the cocky smirk colouring his words, “why don’t we move this conversation somewhere more private?”

“Away from all these lovely innocent civilians, do you mean?” Olkot seemed more than able to match 007’s candour. “Whatever for? Civilians tend to keep conversations between naughty men like ourselves civilised.

M had to suppress a snort. How did these situations always descend to homosexual undertones? It was always doubly maddening given that the poor humour often accompanied matters of life and death. Or worse, an international incident.

“Is that so? I’d expected this conversation to be anything but civilised, really. But if you insist; shall we be clear with each other?”

“Of course,” said Olkot smoothly. “I take it you’re here to gather intelligence on my employer.”

“Indeed. The naughty men on my side of the aisle sort of frown upon the international slave trade.”

“Don’t you mean the international sex slave trade?”

“Of course. I was simply trying to be polite.”

“Appreciated, but you’ll not hurt my feelings, Mr. Bond. You already know I won’t allow you to remain unescorted on the premises. I’ll give you this one chance. Leave. Now. I had your car brought up outside, for convenience.”

She heard nothing then, which worried her. 007 was unpredictable when he took the time to consider something — which often meant he was thinking of the rashest choice possible. Then she heard him lean forward.

“Tell me, Olkot. I hear you’re the honourable sort. How does a gentleman such as yourself wind up bodyguard to scum like Monache?”

“Stop baiting him, 007!” barked M, but he didn’t seem to be listening.

“I’ve seen the women he uses himself. Women, and the little boys he likes to call his pets. We found it hard to believe he changes his pets every month until we found the bodies you’d disposed of for him.”

Olkot didn’t said nothing for a long moment.

“Mr. Bond, I wouldn’t dream of coming into your house and offering insult — ”

“Mostly because my house would clap you behind bars.”

“ — but as you said, I am a gentleman, and this is a civilised conversation. I ask you again,” continued Olkot, his word coming out more clipped with every syllable. “Leave. While you still can.”

“James, get out of there!” cried M, but he paid no heed.

“Why, Roger,” he said. “What’s the rush? Don’t tell me you have a pet of your own wai — ”

A shot rang out, followed by a stunned silence, followed by more shots and then panicked screams as the bar emptied and security forces stormed towards the source of the conflict.

“James!”

“Check him for a wire,” said Olkot. “Shine a light in his ears, it’ll be buried deep.”

M held her breath, aghast. Had 007 been taken down? He was wearing a vest but she wavered between sending in a strike team and pulling out.

Muffled scuffling came over the speakers as Olkot’s men patted down 007’s body.

Suddenly, the man grunted in surprise and fresh gunfire erupted. M slammed her palms on either side of her computer, willing herself to concentrate and follow the action. James wasn’t dead, that was evident, but how had he survived? She’d have to wait till his debriefing to find out.

“Begging your pardon, Ma’am,” said 007 amidst the din of several small-calibre firearms. “Things have gotten a little out of hand.”

“A little!” she seethed at him. “I’m grounding you for a year when you get back!”

“Of course, Ma’am,” he said without preamble. “Do excuse me.” Another clattering of gunfire, and then the sound of something being hurled through a window.

No, she thought. Him. He probably jumped out a window. There was a splash followed by silence on the line for several long seconds. “007?” she tried tentatively. No answer, except for some oddly muffled noises.

“Ma’am,” said 007 calmly. She heard water pooling around him and guessed that he’d escaped by swimming through the adjoining waterway.

“Yes, 007, we read you loud and clear. I want you off the field at once, Olkot clearly knew you. We need to look into how he expected you.”

“Ma’am?” said 007 again, seemingly unfazed.

“Come in, 007. That is an order.” It wasn’t like him to be confused.

“Hello?” he said again. “Hello? Ah, dammit, this earpiece seems to have broken.” What? Then realisation crashed on her.

“007, this a direct order. I know you can hear me, our tech is waterproof! Come in at once!”

“Well, that’s a shame,” he continued. “Q will want to have a look at that. Maybe the screws are too loose in this model.”

If it wasn’t for the legion of handlers she knew would be listening to this line, she would have hollered at him.

“007,” she gritted out. “Under no circumstances are you to go after Olkot when your cover is blown.”

He didn’t reply. “James!”

Then she heard jogging footsteps fade into the distance.

“Ma’am,” inquired one of her handlers meekly.

“You know as well as I do that he’s gone,” she snapped. “Let me know when he shows his face again.” She took her computer in both hands and flipped it shut, the equivalent of someone else slamming it to pieces.

Damn you, Bond.

___________________________________________________________________

Note: My challenge was to write a James Bond fanfic, alongside lyrics for a theme song to go with it. Unsurprisingly, I’ve discovered that I’m not given to good spy-fiction. Oh, well.

It may be obvious, but the theme is titled: Skinbreaker