Title: The Mission
Author: Kim Q
Rating: PG
Length: Vignette
Flavor: espionage, humor, friendship

Notes: Because Rita asked AGAIN!  <g> This directly follows "Anticipation" and the companion piece, "Dress Blues."  Slightly edited from the posting on Sub Pen.


The black clad intruder’s every sense was on high alert as he stole quietly through the shadowed corridors of the deserted building. The roving guard patrols had been easily avoided due to his intimate knowledge of their routines. But he would not allow overconfidence to blunt his razor-sharp instincts. He'd survived enough covert missions to know how quickly things could change for the worse.

Padding noiselessly down the long dark hallway, the dark haired man turned a corner only to freeze and plaster himself in the closest doorway. A narrow beam of light streamed from a slightly open office door, accompanied by the sound of tapping keys. The prowler’s hazel eyes narrowed in consternation. Hard won intelligence had informed him that no one was supposed to be here this weekend! However, the relentless nature of the tapping reassured him that the man was most likely deep into his work and would not notice the silent figure passing by the doorway.

As the interloper snuck past, he dared a brief glimpse inside the small room. The glow of a desk lamp cast a shimmering golden aura around a pale blond head hunched over a computer terminal. The stealthy sneak would have to be extra careful as he knew all too well that the blond man had an uncanny ability to read his surroundings and pounce on the slightest hint of trouble. That, of course, would mean catastrophic failure in his mission!

The slim figure slipped past the lighted area, heading deeper into the darkness, timing his movements precisely to avoid the ubiquitous camera surveillance. At last, he approached his goal, the labyrinthine lair of massive computers that drove every aspect of this state-of-the-art research facility. Stopping at the door to the department head’s office, he eyed the code entry keypad, part of the impressive security that existed throughout the complex. With a smug smile, he entered the proper command code overrides and let himself inside the darkened office.

Carefully shining a tiny penlight around the office, the intruder pondered the possible hiding place of the sensitive material he hunted. The narrow light illuminated bookshelves holding textbooks with multisyllabic titles and the occasional odd piece of electronic gadgetry. Shaking his head, he rejected them as being too obvious. He turned his attention to the orderly mess on the solid oak desk in the center of the room. The reflection of his penlight off a photo made him pause.

The photo showed the same man whose office he'd passed earlier, but instead of intently focused concentration, the blond man's expression was one of smiling amusement as he and a beautiful dark haired woman with bright crystal blue eyes posed with a famous cartoon character in front of a tall fairyland castle. Suppressing a snicker at the sight, the prowler knelt down to examine the desk. Testing each drawer in turn, he found the top right one locked. Slipping a small tool set out of his back pocket, he set to work picking the lock. In mere moments he had the drawer opened and was digging through an interesting miscellany of chocolate bars, electronic components and LEGO pieces in search of his elusive prize. With a triumphant grin, he pulled out a videotape with the innocuous label, "Proposal." Carefully closing the drawer, he tucked the videotape inside his black leather jacket and made a quick getaway.

Slipping down the hallway, he ducked into a nearby conference room. Locking the door behind him, he focused his penlight on a tape player located under a television at one end of the room. Putting the tape in the player, he switched on the TV and turned the volume down low. One of the fine leather chairs was nabbed from its place around the conference table and the raven haired rogue settled back with the remote control to observe the "top secret" material.

Hazel eyes widened in shock as an image formed on the TV screen. It couldn't be!

Lee Crane hit the pause button, staring for a long moment at the unbelievable sight of his best friend, Chip Morton in FULL DINNER DRESS BLUES!! It was no wonder that Chip didn't want him to see his videotaped marriage proposal to Dr. Kaia Winters! A completely evil grin spread across Lee's handsome face as he considered the absolutely priceless teasing material he'd uncovered. No doubt Katie had something to do with the formal wear, he thought with a snort. It certainly couldn't have been Chip's idea! The blond hated those blasted monkey suits as much as Lee did! With a sense of wicked anticipation, he allowed the tape to once again play. This would be good!

As his friend's rich baritone voice spoke of deep love and devotion, Lee's evil grin slowly transformed into a bemused smile touched with a sense of wonder. Chip was normally a reserved man of few words, saying more with one lifted eyebrow than most people could with a hundred rambling rants. Watching Chip's simple yet eloquent, heartfelt proposal, Lee saw his brother of so very many years in a whole new light. After the tape had ended and rewound, Lee sat for a long moment, staring pensively at the now dark screen. Eventually he stirred, returning his chair to the conference table and heading back to Kaia's office.

After gently placing the precious item back in Kaia's desk drawer, he retraced his steps and headed back down the hallway towards Chip's office, no longer bothering to hide his movements. He stuck his head in the office doorway, rapping sharply on the frame. "And just what do you think you're doing here at this hour, Mister? Don't you have a fiancée you should be cuddling?" he demanded with a grin.

The figure at the keyboard never flinched. Chip leisurely pushed himself away from his computer, slowly stretching his tall frame as he stood up. "For your information, oh nosy one, Kaia, Angie and Katie are spending the weekend in La Jolla looking for wedding dresses. I figured it was as good a time as any to work on the requisitions for our next mission." He quirked a sardonic blond eyebrow at his friend's dark clothing. "And what have YOU been up to, pray tell? Another mission for the Office of Noxious Intentions?"

Lee shrugged off the penetrating blue glare that accompanied his friend's sarcastic words. "Nah, just testing security in a couple places. How about a late dinner? My treat."

"Your treat? Are you feeling all right?" Chip teased. A mischievous smile lit up his face as he stuffed papers into his briefcase.

Echoing his friend's broad grin with one of his own, Lee spread his hands and shrugged. "Hey, it's the least I can do for the guy who asked me to be Best Man at his wedding. So grab your jacket."

Sensing something deeper behind his friend's casual words, Chip paused a moment outside his office, his forehead furrowed with concern. "You sure you're okay, bro?"

With an affectionate smile, Lee reassured his friend, slapping him on the shoulder. "Never been better, Chip. Never been better. Now let's get going. Those ribs aren't going to eat themselves!"

Laughing, the two friends headed out of the building to once again celebrate the lasting bond of brotherhood that would continue to carry them through anything life would toss their way. Even a wedding!


© 2008 Kim Q. All Rights Reserved