Chapter 1 – Simple but Tender

Curt:

Agent Curt Mega raised his gun so it was level with Owen's face. His breathing was deep and methodical, but his mind was spinning with confusion. Could he really murder his former partner, his former lover? Wouldn't that make him just as bad as when he'd thought he had?

"You're really considering it, aren't you?" Owen tutted, keeping an air of coolness, despite the situation. Curt noticed his mouth twitch slightly upwards, a nervous twitch he had first picked up on early on in their partnership, when they had been trapped in a cupboard together. Curt had leant over Owen to try and reach the door, but had misjudged it slightly, and his hand had skimmed across Owen's cheek. Curt's heart fluttered at the simple, but tender memory. That was the first moment he had ever considered his feelings might be reciprocated.

Owen's mouth twitched again, and Curt ground his teeth together in frustration. "What do you expect me to do?" he exclaimed, the gun wavering in his hand. He noticed Owen's eyes dart towards it, picking up on his shakiness, and steadied the gun quickly.

"Well, not kill me for a start," he smiled coldly. "You already tried that, and now look where we are."

"Owen, how could you possibly think I wanted you to die?" Curt's voice cracked slightly under the pressure of his emotions.

"Oh, no no no. I don't think you intended for me to die. But you left me when I did… except I didn't… die that is – I didn't die. I mean you noticed, obviously…" he trailed off and Curt couldn't help but smile a little; it was just like Owen to back himself into a corner but still pretend he was totally in control of the situation.

Curt bit his lip. If he didn't kill him, Owen could bring about catastrophic changes that the world just wasn't ready for. If he did kill him, he would carry the guilt with him for the rest of his life, and above that, would never be able to see the man he loved again.

There was only one thing for it: give himself more time to decide.

"So? What are you going to do?" Owen taunted.

Curt smiled defiantly. "This."

With the speed of a striking adder, he pointed the gun towards Owen's right knee and fired two shots. Owen's leg buckled beneath him, and Curt took the opportunity to lunge towards him, with full force, smashing the gun against his head. For a moment, Owen just looked dazed (Curt was sure he could see stars flying round his head) and then, as though he had lost all sense of balance, Owen fell backwards and collapsed to the ground.

Owen:

Owen had never meant for Curt to become involved in all his spy-business (after all, he had heard that he'd retired). Honestly, seeing Curt for the first time after all those years had been quite a shock, and Owen had reacted in the only way he knew how – by lashing out. After all, Curt had left him for dead… and a little bit of torture never hurt anyone. Had that rude Russian woman not interrupted, everything would have gone perfectly: he could have got revenge on Curt through torture, before explaining everything to him, and hoping he wasn't too mad that he'd pulled his tooth out.

The problem was, now Curt thought he was a psychopath and was totally out to get him (Owen considered only the first of these to be true), which meant there was no chance Curt would trust his word.

That's why, when Curt had stood on the stairs holding a gun to his head, Owen had thought that it was the end for him. In fact (although the whole thing had gone quite fast) he was extremely surprised when Curt had turned the gun towards his legs. In the brief seconds before he blacked out, Owen had wondered what had convinced him not to put a bullet straight through his skull.

Curt:

Curt sighed yet again as he paced up and down his mother's living room, glancing nervously at the chained-up heap that was Owen Carvour. Any second, Owen could wake up, and he was going to have to face having a conversation with him – that was scarier than any villain he'd ever encountered. Biting his lip, he sat down on the sofa opposite, gazing at the other man. Owen looked much less threatening asleep. It was only when his mum walked in that he realised he hadn't looked away for quite a few minutes.

"You're thinking about what you're going to say to him, aren't you?" she tutted, shaking her head. "I remember when that British chap hadn't a villainous bone in his body…"

"Mom, do you mind?"

Curt's mother shrugged vaguely, and placed down the tray in her hands, which had on top of it an old teapot and a few mugs.

"Since when did we drink tea?" Curt queried, tracing his finger across the teapot lid, creating a valley of dust.

Curt's mother laughed, rolling her eyes as though this was the dumbest thing Curt had ever said. She pointed at Owen and then busied herself with the teapot. "He's British," she mused, "even though he's tied up, we can at least be good hosts." At that she began to move towards the exit, Curt calling behind her jokingly.

"I really hope he heard that, because he definitely wouldn't appreciate the…"

"… Generalisation?" Owen stirred and wiped the sleep out of his eyes with surprising elegance. "Although I must admit, I do love a good cup of tea after a long sleep. How long have I been out?"

A spark of electricity jolted up Curt's spine at the sound of his voice.

Well then, I suppose this conversation is happening now,he thought.

"You've been out about two days."

"Oh wow, really. I think I'm getting old."

"You do look it."

"Oh, really?" Owen smiled carelessly at their reminiscent banter and then clenched his jaw angrily. "What am I doing here, Curt? Why am I not dead?"

Curt took a second to process this question, realising that the truth (that he couldn't bare to murder his ex-lover as he couldn't handle yet again being in a world without him) would boost Owen's ego far too much, and would give him a power he couldn't afford to lose.

"I… I…" Curt coughed nervously. "I couldn't kill you as I need you…"

"You need me?" Owen teased.

"I need you to help bring down Chimera," Curt spluttered, exhaling quickly in the hope that he had lied with some efficiency. For a spy, he was a terrible liar, but he was particularly unfortunate around Owen, as he always saw straight through him.

"Right. Chimera." Owen's eyes twinkled cheekily.

Damn it. He's seen straight through me. How does he do that?!

Curt huffed and shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. Why did Owen always manage to get in his head? "Look, just tell me what you know. And then I will consider letting you go."

"OK… let me see… No."

"What?"

"I'm not telling you anything?"

"Why not?"

"Because, what's in it for me?"

Curt shrugged and nodded towards the handcuffs, and Owen chuckled. "What, you think your consideration of my freedom is enough to make me betray Chimera? Ahh Curt, you always were very optimistic."

"OK, fine. What do you want?"

Owen paused, contemplating. "Nothing you can give me."

Curt's heart sank, but he didn't let it show. "Fine. Then you can stay here." Curt got up and began to move towards the door. "I hope you enjoy yourself around my mother – she tends to go off on one surrounding the topics of wild newts and heterosexual relationships. I'm sure you'll find it very… fascinating." Owen pulled a face of pain, and narrowed his eyes as Curt turned around in the doorway. "I'll be back to discuss this further… as in the Chimera thing… not newts… in about a month or two."

"A month?!"

"Or two."

Owen's eyes filled with terror at the thought of being trapped for that long with Curt's mother. "Wait! Come back!"

Curt slipped his head round the doorway one last time, winked and then disappeared.