“You… you remind me of…” The knife pressed deeper into Bond’s neck. Oh for shit’s sake, how the fuck do I get myself into these predicaments?
Three Weeks Earlier:
Bond chomped down on his tongue, swallowing bloody saliva, thick with salt and copper and indignation. He glanced up through heavy, frosty brows and glared at the man across the desk.
“Go ahead,” the man said with a slight smile.
“Has she gone completely stark raving mad? What the fuck – Jesus…” Bond looked back down at the manila folder in his hands, leafing through the briefing before tossing it on the desk. “Jesus, Tanner, what the fuck? ”
“James.” Tanner’s voice was enough to soothe the rage rising in Bond’s chest. He slumped back in his seat and waited. Tanner collected the strewn papers calmly, stacking them back in the manila folder as though he had all the time in the world. Bond grew impatient again and began to squirm in his seat, like a child tricked into a dentist’s visit. “James,” Tanner began again, this time even more softly, “it isn’t punishment.”
“Bullshit.” Tanner reached in a drawer and pulled out a sheet of facial tissue, and dabbed at the fine spray of spittle on the desk. Bond didn’t care. “Maybe she told you it isn’t supposed to be punishment, but you weren’t there. You didn’t hear what she said to me, in that hotel room. You have no fucking idea, and this, this is just… fucking embarrassing, to be quite honest!” The hand that wasn’t gesturing wildly was gripping the arm of the chair so vehemently, Bond was sure he was going to rip the leather right off the frame. He still didn’t care.
Tanner heaved a sigh and rubbed a meaty hand over his soft baby face. “Be that as it may, James, I can assure you this is not meant to punish you – I don’t know what she’d be punishing you for, to be quite honest.” He smiled at this last bit, as if to take the sting out of mocking Bond.
“Bill, she asked me… she asked me what I do to them… how do I make them…” Bond looked down at his fingers, as dumbfounded and shamefaced now as he had been when she’d questioned him so angrily in that hotel room in La Paz. “She’s been asking me to stick close to the office, to push papers around to her satisfaction, to ‘oversee’ things here in London, and now, after I finally get her to listen, to understand that I’m going to lose my mind if she doesn’t give me some real work, some meaningful work, now she’s… oh fuck it, this is fucking ridiculous.” Bond stood, ready to march back into M’s office and demand that she either find another stooge for this job, or accept his resignation for real.
“Sit down, Bond.” It was a tone Tanner used often in the office, but never, never with Bond. He’d always treated Bond as an equal, even before he’d been promoted to 00 status, likely because he was a professional paper pusher, whereas Bond had been a field agent from the moment he exited the Navy to join up with the Firm. Bond knew on paper that he had to answer to Tanner, that as Chief of Staff, Tanner was more than just a glorified office manager, but Bond had never really found himself having to settle down and take any sort of orders from the man. The abrupt change in demeanor startled Bond, and he sat down, properly chided. He waited patiently for Tanner to finish straightening his desk, though it seemed to be in perfect order before Bond had even risen from his chair.
Finally, Tanner looked Bond right in the eyes, and his face was neither soft nor babyish, but looked every bit the not-quite-middle-aged government man it belonged to. “You’re right, I don’t know what she said to you. Likewise, you don’t know what she said to me, after you escaped suspension.” Bond’s eyebrows furrowed slightly at this, but he said nothing. “I believe she’d have said it even after we discovered what you did to the agents in the elevator.” Tanner glowered even more. Bond swallowed a chuckle and stared at a point just beyond Tanner’s head. He hadn’t regretted that: whatever the hell was M thinking, sending standard agents to arrest a 00?
“And what did she say, Tanner?”
“That you’re her agent, and she trusts you.”
The last traces of humor washed from Bond. “…I don’t understand.”
Tanner’s face softened again as he shook his head slowly. “James, this job is difficult, and any agent – any agent¬ – will buck at this assignment. They might even botch it, simply because its difficulty lies in its very simplicity. And she knows that. But she believes in you. She said you have what it takes to pull this off, both the professionalism, and the… unorthodox manner in which you insist on carrying yourself.”
“That last bit sounds like a quote.”
Bond stood again. “Fine. Anything else?”
Tanner shook his head and turned to his monitor, effectively dismissing Bond. “Break a leg. Don’t die. Try not to kill everything.”
One Week earlier:
It took Bond two days to find his mark. Most of that time was spent trying to lay down a reasonable trail for himself, so as not to appear right out of the blue when he made his move. Besides, it made Bond feel less foolish to tell himself that he was creating a backstory for himself as a broken-wristed, glitter tossing, man-eating gigolo out for kicks than to admit he had no idea what the hell he was supposed to be doing.
When he finally spotted the target across a dance floor, Bond was completely unprepared. The small, dark man had a fine halo of smooth, black waves cropped close to his head and face. When he laughed, his teeth gleamed whitely against the caramel of his lips and the inky black of his short, neat beard. He was flanked by two women, both taller and fairer skinned than he, and they leaned into him possessively, swatting away anyone who got too close. Bond moved towards the bar to refresh his drink, and get a better look at the target.
Manuel Orozco was less handsome up close than he had been from across the room. Bond could better see the acne scarred skin under the beard and the slightly cockeyed gaze that seemed to take in the whole room at once. He released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, and tried to decide what his next step should be.
Orozco decided for him. He turned his good eye towards Bond, and, looking him up and down, sent one of the women to the bar. The bartender, who up until this time had been ignoring the hell out of everyone clamoring for another drink, turned and gave his immediate and undivided attention to the woman. She leaned forward, spoke in the bartender’s ear, slipped him what appeared to be a folded banknote, and pointed casually at Bond. Not surreptitious-casually. I-don’t-give-a-shit-who’s-watching-me-casually. The bartender nodded and slinked back down Bond’s way.
Bond didn’t wait for the bartender to announce Orozco’s intentions. “Can I get a whiskey, neat?” He placed a few notes of his own on the bar.
The bartender slinked away again, grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and a larger tumbler. He filled it to the rim and set it down on Bond’s offered cash. “Cortesía de Sr. Orozco,” the bartender rumbled, glancing towards Orozco and his pair of angels. Bond followed his glance, and watched Orozco toast him with whatever ridiculously decorated drink he was sloshing down. Bond plastered on what he hoped was a sexy come-hither smile and toasted his thanks. When he turned back to his fan of cash, there was a napkin folded on top. He palmed the cash and the napkin and slipped away from the bar, casting one more glance over his shoulder at his mark.
Bond found an alcove to settle in, open enough to give him maneuvering room in case of emergency, closed enough to give him security from any surprise attacks. He shoved the cash in a pocket and unfolded the napkin. Inside was scrawled a message: Hotel Magnífico del Sol, 762. Bond downed his whiskey in two gulps, dropped a small tip on the table, and headed for the exit. Manuel was wasting no time. Neither would Bond.
Bond resisted the urge to slip his shoulder holster under the lightweight jacket. If things went according to plan, a loaded weapon would turn things sour very quickly. If things went south before that point, there probably wasn’t going to be much he could do with a hand gun anyhow. Still, he had to tell himself aloud to leave the knife behind as well. “This is not that sort of assignment.”
Bond clamped down on what sort of assignment it was, and headed for what could very well be a nasty trap. He went over the clues he purposefully dropped all over the Cuban hotspot, trying to remember if he’d done anything to alert the government that there was something afoot. By the time he pulled up to the valet in front of the Grand Sun Hotel, Bond was a nervous wreck, though he’d never admit it. He tipped heavily, probably too heavily, and scurried inside the wide, opulent building.
After several minutes of searching the horseshoe shaped behemoth of a resort, Bond finally found Room 762. He knocked hesitantly and stood back, fussing with the dishwater blond bristles that suddenly refused to obey the styling gel he’d raked through it less than an hour before. He was about to knock again, when the door opened swiftly, revealing two giggling, tipsy girls, struggling to stay semi-upright on tall stilettos and semi-dressed in their long but flimsy dancing dresses. Neither of them seemed to notice Bond as they went cackling out the door, noisily calling their goodnights to the room’s remaining occupant. Bond watched Orozco’s former arm candy flail drunkenly towards an elevator, holding each other up, as each tried to hold on to her own dress while trying to strip the other.
“They are beautiful, no?” Bond whipped around towards the disembodied voice coming from within the room. “They adore me, are devoted to me. I give them their time to themselves, they do the same for me. But they are not your type. They have no eyes for you or me. You wished to see Rosario, yes?”
Bond looked towards the elevator. The two women were sharing tongues and possibly tonsils at this point. The dark haired one, the one who’d paid for Bond’s drink, faced him slightly. When they came up for air briefly, she caught his eye, pulled the bleached blond in for another kiss, and waved her fingertips at him in a half hearted acknowledgement. Bond looked back towards the darkened room. “Rosario. She paid the barkeep?”
“Yes. She said you look like a German soldier. Brutal. She might have a slight interest, I didn’t ask.”
Bond let a smile creep up one side of his face. Orozco was giving him an opportunity to back out, covering his tracks in case their signals were crossed. Perhaps this wasn’t a trap, then? “I was told the drink was paid for by a Mr. Orozco. There was no mention of a Rosario.”
“I get better service than my… how you say…? My companions.”
Bond’s smile slid up the other side, revealing a deep, devilish dimple on his right side. “And you’ll get better service tonight… if you’re interested.”
He could hear movement inside, and then, the short, barrel chested man appeared just in the light from the doorway. “Come in… do you have a name, mijo?”
Bond choked down a laugh – did he really appear so young? “Bond. James Bond.”
The sex was always rough. That didn’t bother Bond – if anything, it made things easier. He knew that sooner, rather than later, he was going to have to start breaking down barriers, get a little closer than simply being the blond boy who came to Orozco’s room. But for now, if they bit each other too hard, slammed one another against walls with too much force, if they took their pleasure with too little regard for the other man, then Bond didn’t have to notice in the dark what he’d gratefully and easily dismissed in the light. The resemblance was superficial, if that even, but it was enough to distract Bond from his mission every time he made a move to take the relationship past a purely sexual level.
So it was a very surprised Bond who opened the door of his own hotel suite to a bellhop holding a massive bouquet of roses. Bond said nothing and allowed the bellhop to place the arrangement on the front table. Bond tipped the young man and turned his attention to the flowers. He spent a good hour determining there was no bomb, no slow acting aerial poison, no quick acting tactile poison, nothing at all suspicious about the flowers before he turned his attention to the note. They were from Orozco; would James come see him as soon as possible?
This was different. Perhaps Manuel was going to tell him where they could meet once he was done with his Cuban business? Not exactly what James was hoping for, but an in was an in. He pulled up to Orozco’s hotel in record time and was on the seventh floor before one could say “It’s a trap.”
When Bond awoke, he was naked and tied to a chair, his hands bound behind his back, in a cold, dark, unfamiliar room. “Oh Jesus, not again.”
A fist came from nowhere and slammed him in the ear, unseen. The chair rocked with the blow, but he remained upright. Bond began to shake.
“How quickly they break,” Orozco hissed in his ear.
Sweat rolled down the side of Bonds nose. It had to be sweat. Nothing had happened to warrant tears yet. He thought he’d try to salvage what he could of the mission. “Manuel?”
Another brain rattling blow to the ear. “You shut up, you filthy, lying puta! You could have had everything. Everything, ” he hissed.
That was not what Bond expected to hear. Of course, nothing had gone as expected since he’d accepted the damn assignment. “What…”
The third blow to the ear finally toppled the chair over. Bond banged his head on the concrete floor, while his shoulder burned with a sickening pop. He retched, dizzy and disoriented. The world righted itself again, and there came more blows, this time to his back, his arms, and his shoulder. The blows were hard and wild, and Bond feared that he would die without ever being properly interrogated.
Finally, the beating stopped and Orozco came around to face Bond. He was wild eyed and sweating. He had a knife in his hand, a big, ugly, rough looking thing, the sort of knife that would probably give a man lockjaw if he survived the stabbing. Bond began to hyperventilate, as Orozco touched the blade to the throbbing vein in Bond’s neck. “I have one question for you James.” Bond said nothing, tried to will his body to calmness. Perhaps he could talk his way out of this after all. “Who the fuck is Felix?”
The Night Before:
It had been the way the moonlight filtered through the curtains from the balcony.
It took all of Bond’s concentration not to hurl Orozco off himself when he got it into his head to start sucking at Bond’s chest like a starving infant. Most of the sex Bond could tolerate, but there was absolutely no finesse to Orozco’s mouth. Bond had discovered this the first night when Orozco clumsily tried to suck him off. Bond wound up pulling away, claiming he preferred to be on the bottom. He figured that would mean Orozco would be content to lay back and let Bond do the work of foreplay, before getting down to brass tacks.
Bond winced and bit back a volatile oath when Orozco bit down particularly hard on one already sore nipple. So much for that theory. He grabbed at Orozco’s head and forced a smile on his lips, trying to pull Orozco’s face closer to his. “Let me kiss you, Manuel,” he said hoarsely. Orozco scrambled up, leering greedily down at Bond, when a light breeze fluttered through the open balcony door.
The shadows on Orozco’s face changed, melted, softened. Gone was the hard, pockmarked face. Instead, it looked smooth and soft, like a hand pulled caramel. The crinkling around the eyes softened as well, leaving only the impression of dark, almond shaped eyes that glittered in the night. For the first time Bond could place a name to the face he kept not quite seeing on Orozco’s face. He pulled the man in close, leaning into the kiss as if the vision was real, wishing for just a moment it was. Felix…
“You… you remind me of…” The knife pressed deeper into Bond’s neck. Oh for shit’s sake, how the fuck do I get myself into these predicaments? “Manuel… please… You remind me of a man… a… dead man…” A tear, not entirely forced, rolled down Bond’s face. “Please don’t, Manuel.”
The knife remained steady for what felt like an eternity. "A dead man?" The question was soft and full of confusion. Finally, Orozco whipped the knife down, tossing it to the floor. He heaved a sob of his own, then got down on one knee, leaning into Bond’s chest as best he could. “Forgive me, for I am suspicious in nature,” he gasped between sobs. “I thought you had been unfaithful to me.” He turned his face up to Bond’s, kissing lightly at the cheeks. “I have been foolish. I will not do such a thing again my love.”
Bond smiled weakly, grateful to have escaped the claws of death once again. Then he realized he was probably going to have a lot more sex with Orozco in the near future. Bond fainted.
Three Weeks Later:
Bond stood over Orozco’s broken body, gazing down at him. Manuel stared back, astonished at the betrayal. Bond knelt down and, with his good arm, cradled the dying man’s head in his hand. Though Bond felt no remorse at having executed Orozco, he could sympathize with being betrayed, blinded by dumb love. “That day you captured me, you asked me the wrong question, Manuel. Felix was never a threat to you. You should have me asked who James was.”
Orozco swallowed a few times, trying to work up a response, but he stopped, looking up past Bond. James noticed the shadow of another person behind him and looked up. “Whatcha got there James?”
Bond laughed almost giddily. “Um, hello Felix. We were just talking about you.”
“Nothing bad, I hope,” the American agent said with some alarm.
“Not for you. Our friend the arms dealer here, however…” James looked back down at the head still cradled in his hand. It was a skull, attached to a skeleton, still wearing its flesh, but Orozco was gone. James laid the head down gently, shuddering at the likeness. He stood up and looked long and hard at Leiter. “I think he saw his guardian angel.”
Leiter snorted. “More like your angel. What the hell did you do here, anyway?”
Bond ignored the fluttering in his stomach and smiled wistfully. “What I always do. Make a mess for you to clean up.” He turned and walked out of the blood stained warehouse.