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HOWARD MOON: SECRET AGENT

Part 4 of ?8
Pairing: AU Howard/Vince
Author: Unbelievable2
Rating: PG for this chapter
Word Count: 2,316
Summary: This is on a need-to-know basis

Move over, Bond. The name’s Moon, Howard Moon.
And that is all you need to know…
Warnings: AU. A bit cracky, with more double entendres overall than you can shake a stick, or anything else, at.
Disclaimer: Sadly I own neither the creators nor their characters, and I will not, nor would I ever wish to, profit from either.
Note: A long time since I posted the earlier chapters – blame lack of time and a plotting problem. I hope the rest of this will follow fairly shortly now. In the meantime, if you’ve forgotten how it goes, or haven’t seen this before, you might like to look at the earlier chapters - links as follows:

Part 1:

Part
2:

Part 3:

Part 4
He was awake. He was cold. He was on the hard ground somewhere. Somewhere that smelt….
With superhuman effort he managed to crank open one eyelid, but the view was far too blurred. He closed it again and forgot what he was supposed to be doing.

~~~~~~~

He was awake again. This time, after a period of intense concentration, both eyelids lifted, though they felt as heavy as lead. He focused. Yes, he was still on the hard ground, sitting upright, propped up against cold metal with his legs stretched out in front of him. He raised his eyes further upwards, trying to ignore the throbbing pain that coursed through his head as he did so, and recognized the angles and chipped paintwork of a skip. The smell filling his nostrils was a combination of something noisesome that had been dumped there – he preferred not to ponder that point too far – and gin. Lots of gin.

The gin was him.

He looked down at himself again. Black shirt, black trousers, black shoes; all soaked in gin.

Hang on… clothes?

The results of the past… how long?... started drifting back in pieces. When he squeezed his eyelids tight again, shutting out the painful daylight, all he could see was a tangle of pale limbs on a bed, or the flash of blues eyes, impossibly close. The thoughts swirled around inside his head, and his brain tried to grab them and make some logic out of the chaos, but too slowly, too slowly.

Clothes. Someone had dressed him again. Dressed him, poured gin all over him, left him like a drunken down-and-out on a side-street next to the rubbish.

A side-street where? He craned his neck again. A bit of blue sky showed between dilapidated buildings. Possibly Shoreditch still? Who knew?

Shoreditch. Why Shoreditch? Why gin? Why were the clothes such an issue? Why……?

Oh god.

The swirling thoughts started to link together, his brain finally making a flying tackle and catching hold of their coat-tails.

A party, a theft, a chase. A man, a bed, a betrayal….
He clamped his eyelids shut again but that just made the images worse. Now they rushed through his head like an old cine film, over and over – a chase, a man, a bed, a betrayal. Faster and faster and faster and faster and…

He twisted suddenly to one side and threw up.

When that nasty interlude was over, he actually felt a bit better. He rolled back again and tried to pull himself up against the skip. It was no use; his hands could barely grip the metal sides. He pushed himself painfully to his knees and hung there for a moment on all fours, panting like a dog with the exertion.

People. People might help.

“Help?” he croaked feebly. Then again, “Help?”, a little stronger this time.

Beyond the buzzing in his ears he could hear no answering voices, no hurrying footsteps, but there was a rustling. He looked up.

Around the corner of the skip poked a russet muzzle and sharp ears. A ragged-looking fox was regarding him warily. He looked ill-kempt and hungry, but his eyes were clear amber.

Moon reached forward a hand.
“Help?”
The fox scarpered.

Moon sat back heavily against the skip. He reconsidered his clothing. The dress-suit trousers, the black cowboy shirt (now horribly soiled), his once-shining shoes…

Oh god, again.

He reached gingerly down and pulled off his right shoe, flicking the heel to one side. The hidden compartment was empty. The miniature camera with its hoard of pictures was gone.

He let his head drop backwards to connect painfully with the side of the skip. And again. And again.

Oh, the shame. Seduced, stripped, drugged, robbed. One of Her Majesty’s finest secret agents, taken like a novice by a common thief. His career was over; he was a disgrace.

The common thief had re-dressed him, though - was that a moment of wry compassion, or simply rubbing in that that he was such a sap? Had re-dressed him in that captivating cowboy shirt.

Not the only captivating thing. He tried not to pay attention to it, but part of him hurt badly. Not just his wounded pride. No, the part of him beguiled by dark lashes, and the feel of a soft mouth, and smooth skin against his skin, and an infectious laugh, and the warmest smile he had ever seen…..

All a lie.

He reached down and flicked the heel of the other shoe, and with laboured fingers activated the tracking device hidden there. Then he lay back against the skip again and waited for the cavalry.

~~~~~~~

It might have been an hour, it might have been ten minutes, it might have been half a day; there was no way for him to tell. A few cars sped by, but no-one stopped. Two women tripped past on high heels, and gave his gin-sodden form a wide berth with audible sounds of disgust. Then a black cab chugged slowly down the street, its light off, the driver peering from side to side. It stopped next to Moon and the driver leaned out of the window.

“Oi, guv’nah! Wanna lift?”
Moon looked wearily back at an imbecile grin.
“C’mon guv’nah, shift ya’self! I ain’t go’ aw day!”
“Fossil, that is the worst accent you have ever attempted…”
The driver’s grin just broadened.
“I’m a cockernee, I’m a cockernee… C’mon, Moon, shift your ass. Boss-man wants a word.”

~~~~~~

“And so, sir, I woke to find myself dumped in the street and the miniature camera missing. Special Agent Fossil, my temporary assistant, found me by using the shoe tracker. I estimate that it was some four hours since I had last…” He faltered, his boss’s stony silence unnerving him, “…since I last saw the thief, Noir”. His voice tailed off, and he sat on the edge of the winged leather armchair, awaiting the explosion.

B remained silent. His brows were knitted. He stared impassively at Moon and Fossil, leaning back in his chair, his fingers steepled together, his eyes dark and brooding. Finally he spoke, his voice icy.

“It doesn’t surprise me that you managed to get hold of the plans, Moon. No less than I expected. But to lose them again in such a shoddy, amateur way…” He glared at Moon, who cringed inwardly. The reprimand was justified. He could sense Fossil gloating as he slumped in the neighbouring armchair, gleefully muttering “shoddy” and “amateur” over and over to himself. Worse, the Special Agent felt obliged to pipe up.

“Also, sir, I was told by Tech Division to inform you that Agent Moon first arrived in that general area at one a.m., sir.”

B raised an eyebrow.

“Indeed? So how do you explain this elapse of time, Moon? Between arriving at this… person’s address and being found by Fossil?”

Moon felt himself blushing again. So far his account had deliberately omitted certain key events of the evening.
“I… I may have fallen asleep for a while, sir…”

B rolled his eyes toward heaven.
“You were intent on making it easy for him, weren’t you? First, you obligingly have a nap, and then you allow yourself to be drugged. Did you tie the camera up with a pink bow?”

Fossil snorted.
“Great joke, boss sir! Pink bow! You got it there, boss!”
“Shut up, Fossil! Go sit in the corner!”
Fossil’s expression slumped like a kicked dog’s and he shambled to the far corner of the room where he could still be heard muttering “amateur” to himself.

B rose and paced the room. Moon still faced front, but tried to watch his boss out of the corner of his eye. He felt the man stop behind him and tried not to jump as two beefy hands clamped onto his shoulders.

“I can’t say I’m not disappointed in you, Moon. I expected better. I had plans for you, big plans. I thought you’d work well under me. I sensed a strong urge - a need to serve – that could be assisted by my guiding hand, encouraged to grow….”

Moon sat frozen, feeling B’s fingers and thumbs kneading his shoulder and neck muscles, and wondering whether this proximity counted as punishment. It certainly felt like it - what was coming next? This wasn’t the former, warm, man-to-man bonhomie - quite genuine, he had been sure - that B had dished out. Right now, he might even call his boss sinister. He unconsciously shrugged his shoulders to rid himself of the probing hands, but they only gripped harder. Then he felt B lean down and the man’s hot breath close to his ear.

“But now, I’m far from sure. Realistically, I should drum you out of the Service…” Moon gulped, both at the thought of his fate and the feeling of B’s fingers.
“…drum you out, if it were not for ONE THING!”
Moon leapt in his chair at the shouted words. He saw Fossil in his corner jump as well at the suddenly booming voice.
“You were taken, Moon. And taken by a professional.”

Moon wondered briefly, and ashamedly, in what sense B was using the verb “to take”.

“Since you first debriefed to Intel Division this morning, we’ve done a bit of research based on the descriptions you’ve given. No ordinary thief screwed you…”
“Sir, I must protest…”
“…shafted you, had you…”
“Sir, I assure you, nothing like that…”

B wasn’t listening. He hit a button on his desk and blinds thudded into place, darkening the room. A second button, and a slim beam of light leapt from the computer console of B’s desk and resolved itself into a large projected image on the opposite wall.

Moon stared open-mouthed at the life-sized picture. It was of a pale young man with striking eyes, heavily rimed with kohl, black hair artfully mussed over his forehead, a green leather coat pulled tight under his chin. The look he was giving the camera was both pure catwalk and pure sex, and it was clear he knew the effect he was having on the lens.

You were creamed, Moon,” continued B, seemingly unconscious of Moon’s discomfiture, “but creamed by one of the best. Behold Vincenzo Noir…”
Moon gaped.
“Vincenzo?”
“Vincenzo Noir. Masquerades as an entertainer - singer, comedian, model, actor, what-not – but in reality we know him as one of the most successful independent industrial spies around. He steals commercial secrets and sells them to the highest bidder. We’ve long suspected his expertise – ever wondered why Wispas disappeared for so long? – but he’s never been caught red-handed.”

B reached for a cigar.
“Now, my guess is, he either cottoned on that you were after something important, or he was after Big’s flapjacks secret himself. And now he’s got his hands on those plans, the cat’s out of the frying plan and into the bag!”

“But sir,” breathed Moon, still staring transfixed at the familiar face, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, “what could he hope to do with them? There was little of commercial worth in those plans, I’m sure.”
“Maybe not, Moon!” bellowed B, “but strategically, as a matter of national security, they are priceless and there are any number of enemies of this proud country’s democracy that might jump at the chance to cause mayhem and disruption….”

Moon frowned.
“How do we now that’s what the plans are about, sir?”
B waved his hand on a dismissive gesture.
“Use your head, man! Everything you’ve uncovered so far – flapjack shipments, high explosives concealed in the packaging, a high-profile delivery schedule - all these point to a dastardly scheme to destabilize this fair nation. He must be stopped, Moon!”
“’He?’ You mean Noir, sir?”
B stabbed the air with his unlit cigar.
“Find Noir and you will find the plans and those who would execute them. And whether or not he still has the plans when you do, eliminate him.”

Moon spun round to face his boss. Whatever shame and hatred he had felt at the sight of Noir’s smirking face dissolved in a flash with the stark horror of B’s command. Moon struggled to keep his voice even.
“Kill Noir, sir? But he’s just a thief.”
“A high-rolling thief who has caused us, and is still causing us, no end of problems. The world would be better off without him. I want him dead, out of our hair. That’s a direct order, agent Moon.”
“Sir”, confirmed Moon, his voice bleak.

“Then you need to track down the real purpose of those plans.” B glowered at Moon. “I’m giving you a chance to redeem yourself, man. Now get going. I want a report first thing tomorrow morning. Oh-six-hundred hours. And I want Noir’s head on a plate.”

B leaned over his desk and clicked off the projector beam. The ethereal image flickered and disappeared. Moon felt his heart sink to his boots. He remained staring at the blank wall until he felt Fossil grab his arm and pull him out of B’s presence and into the anteroom.

“Whaddaya playin’ at, Moon? Don’t piss off the main man, for cryin’ out loud! You gotta get that ladyboy!”

Moon suddenly snapped out of his introspection, slightly shocked to find Fossil’s idiot face at such frighteningly close quarters, grinning at him insanely. But B was right. Dear god, even Fossil was right. Vince Noir was causing everyone no end of trouble, Howard Moon in particular. He need stopping. And Moon would take more than a professional satisfaction at being able to pay back with dividends the humiliation he had suffered at this man’s hands…… oh, his hands, his fingers, his lips, his tongue….

Moon shook his head violently to dispel the treacherous images. This was espionage at its most clinical and brutal – kill or be killed.

And Vince Noir had just run out of time.

~~~~~~~

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