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La Vacanza

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Diana looked around the room "A little bare-bones if you ask me, you should have put up cameras" She brushed her fingers against the spines of books sitting on the shelves. "You're a bit of a slob you know, you've only been here for a night and this is how the place looks?"
He answered her with a shrug as he came around the bed to shut the curtains, housekeeping must have been in the room again and opened them since he had left to take his meeting with Diana.
"I don't see the purpose of keeping up appearances, that isn't why I am here.  It's a holdover from missions."
Diana chuckled and pulled a book from its place on the shelf, looking over it, 47 raised an eyebrow. He realized what she was doing, averting his gaze, busying herself with looking over the note or criticizing his room accommodations.  It was the same each time the two were alone with each other, the knowledge that the ICA didn't want them to be, the memories they both had of six years prior, the guilt, the remorse.   He crossed over to her and gently took the book out of her hands, placing it back on the shelf. "Do you have a plan?" he asked, she wasn't looking at him still, maybe she couldn't.  She quickly moved a few paces to the left of the shelves, careful not to bump into him.  She took a seat on the couch across from the bed, still not looking at him, still not removing her hat.
"Is there a purpose to the hat indoors?"
"What?" She said, caught off guard, he watched her hand instinctively go up to her hat. "Oh, no I suppose not." She removed it at long last, setting it gently down on the couch and pulling the note out of her purse once more. Her hair was elegantly pulled into a bun, a pale red, almost like a single brush stroke on a magnificent painting.  Her hair reminded him of something, something he saw in the sky, in nature, the curl at the ends, the pale red reminded him of the many sunrises he had seen around the world.
He sat on the couch as well, not too close to Diana, but not as far as he would anyone else, he thought he heard her breath catch in her throat, but it could have been the subtle breeze from the windows.  The pair sat there in the early morning light, Diana subtly ignoring 47, but continuing to have heightened awareness and body language.
"That note is not that long" 47 said after some time, Diana as if she were on cue folded up the note and put it back in her purse.  She pulled out a little handheld mirror and checked her eyes with it.  "I was studying it for the purpose of the plan, our plan is simple. You infiltrate the hotel staff rooms to find out if anyone else has access to the rooms besides the cleaning staff, we'll narrow it down by who was doing what shift at what time and then we'll...." She smirked "We'll have some questions to ask"
"Do you believe that if they know who I am, they will also know you?"
"It is a possibility if they know who you are they must have done their research. If one was very determined, it wouldn't take long to find out where you come from and who you handler is"
He nodded, she still wasn't looking at him. He didn't understand why but it bothered him, it was like a pinching feeling. She had said many times before that she held no ill will towards him for what happened at the behest of Benjamin Travis, but the way she acted whilst the two were alone together, it was so different than how she spoke to him over the comms when he was in the field, it was as if she felt more comfortable being detached from him and viewing everything objectively.
"Why won't you look at me?" He asked without thought, without pause to wonder if it was a question he should be asking.   If anyone else had heard this, they would not have thought much of it, it felt emotionless and detached, it sounded rehearsed and practiced, but Diana knew him better than that.  She hastily rose from the couch and pretended not to have heard him "Well now that we have a plan, I suggest you find a way to infiltrate the staff, but be discreet, don't draw any attention to yourself as a patron.and do be careful, 47" She said quickly and made her way to the door without even grabbing her purse, which she had left sitting on the couch. 47 looked down at the floor.


* * * *


47 fixed the collar of his white button up shirt and headed to lunch, He hadn't seen or heard from Diana since the morning and he was still waiting on a call from her as he kept her purse safe in his room.  While moving the purse off the couch, he spotted a folded up letter, his curiosity got the better of him and he opened it up to read it

"Miss Burnwood, we have received your request to be sent to Italy, not to break formality but you must be aware that this is not professionally allowed as we just sent your agent to Rome.  As well you know, it is dangerous to be seen in public with your agent, and you must take that into consideration at all times.  The board has been well aware of your personal attachment to Agent 47 for some time now and I must inform you that if this type of misconduct continues, We will assign you to a new agent and he to a new handler.

Regards,
Percy Farhe
ICA HR"

He folded the letter back and neatly placed it into her purse, there were questions he needed answering from Diana, but for now, he would attempt to gain information from the hotel guests, what those in the field would call "recon"
He made his way downstairs, there were quite a bit of people hanging out in the lounge room and eating, various food assortments and delicacies were available for consumption.  47 wasn't exactly hungry, the weather was starting to become hotter, the beginnings of a heat wave were coming to Rome and it was affecting him physically.  He ordered food nevertheless so as not to arouse any suspicion, and took a seat by the window.  He looked around him and spotted a woman to his left, pale red hair and a large oversized hat that he remembered as the last thing he saw before he nearly died.
He tapped his spoon against the side of the table to get her attention, she didn't move or pay him any mind and seemed engrossed in a novel she was reading.
He coughed, loud enough for her to hear it but not loud enough that it was a suspicious act.  She remained unmoved, he set the spoon down on the table and crossed to hers, putting his hand on the smooth table "Excuse me, Miss. Do you happen to have the time?" He asked, an innocent and innocuous question to onlookers
She didn't look at him, she looked at her watch and then back to her book "It's a little afternoon."
"How little?" He asked "I specifically want to know what the time is"
"It's 'specifically' afternoon" She answered, her voice steady and even.
"Maybe I could see your watch." He said "Because mine says it's close to one pm"
"If you have a watch, why did you come over to ask me what time it was?" She asked, her voice a little louder as she set her book down
A waiter came over to the table to clear the plates Diana had already finished her food from "Is this man bothering you, Miss?"
Diana considered for a moment and then nodded "He won't stop asking me the time, even though I've told him the time. I don't know what's wrong with him"
The waiter sighed "Sir, please stop bothering this woman. Go back to your table"
47 stood there, unable to process what was going on, Why Diana was acting this way.
"Sir," The waiter said "If you don't comply I'm going to have to get security"
"I'm moving," He said "I'm sorry for bothering you, Miss," He said, his voice not betraying the subtle hurt he was feeling, he walked back to his table and sunk into the seat while he waited for the kitchen staff to bring the food he didn't want.
While he was eating, he read about the hotel, the history of it and the kinds of guests that stayed here.  He also kept an ear out for gossip from the guests and staff, looking for an opening.
"Ugh," One of the staff said close enough for him to hear "I'm so sick of this, we hired a new kitchen hand yesterday and we haven't even seen him yet" She shook her head "I'm starting to wonder if he'll show up at all"
"Hey, give the guy a break. New job, first day jitters. I've been there. He'll show up"
47 put his fork gently on the plate, he ate more than he had thought he would, he pushed the plate away and rose from the table, this was his chance. He was going to have to find a way to get a kitchen staff uniform and to make sure the new kitchen hand didn't show up to get in his way.  He walked by Diana's table, she gripped the edges of her book so tight that her fingers turned a stark shade of white.
"You were reprimanded because of me," He said gently "Coming down here is going to get you in a lot of trouble."
She lowered the book, still not looking at him "You went through my purse?"
"You left it in my room," He said, evenly "Come by later to pick it up if you don't want me snooping in it."
She scoffed as he made his way out into the halls.
47 put Diana out of his mind as he snuck along the edges of the empty hall leading down to the staff quarters. He focused on his breathing, the sounds around him, the air was still and as luck would have it, there didn't seem to be many people down here.  He found someone turned around on their phone, having a conversation "No, I'm here. They told me over the phone to get the apron from the basement before coming up, something about sanitary precautions. I don't know why I have to wear this, I look ridiculous"
47 crouched down behind what appeared to be a laundry hamper but could have easily been a stack of crates, he focused on the man, waiting
"No it's a shitty kitchen hand job, I don't want it but I need the money. And you know what? It's a shitty day for me to start, I told you about Arno right? He broke up with my sister, she's been crying all day, calling me... It's exhausting."
The man started to pace while talking on the phone, 47 looked at his watch. It was a little after 2 pm
"Right, I need to go before I get in trouble. I'll call you later" He said, he hung up the phone and put it down on the table, leaning forward. 47 took this opportunity to sneak out from his cover, grab the man by the neck and choke him out, laying him gently down on the floor.  He looked around for a place to store the unconscious body. A cupboard, that would do fine.   He took the man's kitchen hand clothes, trying his hardest to be as quiet as possible and then dragged the man to the nearest cupboard, heaving him upright and shutting the doors, blocking them with a chair.
He took the folded pair of clothes under his arm and walked with purpose down through an opposite hall to find a bathroom.  The staff bathroom was right off to the left and he slipped inside quietly as someone walked by in the opposite direction.  He made sure nobody was coming before slipping out of his day outfit and into the kitchen hand clothes. He smoothed out the apron and adjusted the outfit's vested jacket.  He hid his clothes in the linen closet and exited the bathroom.
"Excuse me?" A woman with her arms crossed and her nostrils flared asked: "Are you the new kitchen hand that was supposed to be here hours ago?"
"Yes," He said "I'm sorry, I had to deal with family issues"
She scoffed, bringing Diana back to his mind
"I don't care if your uncle was run over by a truck, you were supposed to be here hours ago!"
"I apologize, deeply," He said, "I'm here now, where am I supposed to be?"
She sighed and grabbed him by the arm "Upstairs, come on" She said, leading him, rather forcefully up the stairs and to the main kitchens.  He made a face at the pressure she was putting on his arm with her fingers, and the fact that she was touching him at all.
"You're going to do whatever the head chef asks, you're not going to have an attitude, you're not going to get all grossed out when you have to touch raw meat. And no personal phone calls, at all, not while you're on the clock.  Be professional, be nice and you'll get on fine here" She said directing his attention to the man who must be the Chef
"That is Chef Luiz, He's mean, he's rude, and he will steal your soul. Don't let him make you cry" She said, a false smile on her face as she grabbed something from the table and left the kitchens in rather a hurry as the chef approached 47.
"You must be the new kitchen assistant," He said with a thick Italian accent "I'm Chef Luiz, and I'll forgive you for being late if you can tell me the main 'Mother Sauces' of France"
47 thought on this for a moment, he knew most offhand, fine dining and cuisine had always been one of his hobbies outside of his job.
"Bechamel, Hollandaise, Veloute, Espagnole and.." The Chef looked as though he were ready to berate the man in front of him "And of course, tomato sauce"
"Bit simplified," The Chef said, his hands on his hips "But I'll let it pass, you seem to know your basic sauce knowledge. How about you help me clean up a little bit around here?"
He knew that when the man said 'help him' clean up, he meant for 47 to do all the work, and so it was that he cleaned the counters, picked up garbage, tied off old bags, peeled onions, cut tomatoes, did everything a kitchen hand should and could do.  While cleaning he had overheard several pieces of gossip from the other aides and cooks in the kitchen, one man with shaggy brown hair under his hat said: "You hear about that shit going on up on the top floor?"
"The murders?" A girl with bright blonde hair responded: "That's just a rumor, What if the screaming was just two consenting adults fucking each others brains out?"
"Yeah right, I heard the screaming, and even my best times didn't sound like that"
"Maybe you're doing something wrong"
The man ignored this, though he had a hurt expression on his face as he continued speaking "I think it started in room 4, There was a fight... Miss Lecroix was staying there and her and her wife are notorious for their dramatic fights"
"Oh, aren't they those weird theater troupe people?"
"Yeah, but being in theater isn't what makes them weird, they speak in German accents despite being French, that makes them weird"
"Maybe they like German culture"
"Yeah, bratwurst and beer. Some culture"
"At least it's better than American"
"Agreed," the man said, the two seemed to break their conversation and go about their daily duties.  47 continued his as well, and then when the moment came that he was able to slip away. He took it with ease.  "Take these upstairs to the lunch area," Chef Luiz said, handing him several plates.  47 walked carefully up the stairs and gave the plates to their assigned tables. One of whom was Diana.
"Your food, Miss," He said, trying to hide a smirk as she turned around to look at him.  Her eyes staring into his for what seemed the first time in a long time. He gently set the food down on the table and whispered in her ear "I have Intel, come by the room later" He noticed her tense up as he got closer to her, and noticed the shiver as he spoke into her ear. He pulled away to hand out the other plate to another table and made his way back down to the kitchens.

After working enough to lessen any suspicions around him, he slipped back into the downstairs bathroom and put his clothes back on, leaving the kitchen staff outfit neatly folded on the counter. He returned to his room and grabbed a pen and paper, writing down the information he found out from gossip and trying to connect it with the note that showed up in his room.  His work was interrupted when there was a small knock on the door. He got up to answer it, Diana of course, she was wearing a different outfit than the one he had seen her in that afternoon, and her comically oversized hat was nowhere in sight.  "Come in," he said, closing the door behind her
She crossed to the couch and sat down, grabbing her purse and looking through it
"I didn't take anything if that's what you're wondering. I have no use for your things"
"I wasn't..."
"In any case, I have information. It appears there's an actress staying in one of the top suites, room four... She and her wife are apparently known for the dramatics and one of the staff downstairs assumed it wasn't foul play"
"But," Diana said "There was obviously a reason to put the rooms upstairs on lockdown. Have you seen any bodies moving out of this place?"
"No, and no E.R either. If there are corpses... They are being very silent about getting them out of the hotel" He picked up his papers and handed them to her, she read over them "Your note-taking skills are impeccable, 47" She said with a smirk
"I know this isn't business related, so forgive me if I brought you here under false pretenses. Diana" He sat beside her, reaching out for her hand "I know that I'm the one who asked you to come here," He said, choosing his words carefully "But I've gotten you in trouble... And for that, I apologize"
She shook her head "No need 47, I'm just as responsible as you are. I decided to come here against the advice of others."
"Why?"
"I'm sure you're quite aware"
"Personal feelings," He said, remembering the note, she nodded
"I didn't want you to get in trouble, I was... worried about you. I worry about you a lot"
"I am capable of taking care of myself, you understand that, Don't you Diana?"
She sighed "You're impossible"
"Impossible to what?"
"To read, to talk to, to be next to..."
"To look at," He said, looking down.  Diana brushed her hand against his cheek "Quite the opposite" She said "You're very easy on the eyes"
He cleared his throat, rather taken aback by Diana's gentle behavior "We should go over these papers. Find a connection"
Diana nodded, gently training her hand away from his face and sighing before composing herself.
"Very good work you did infiltrating the kitchens."
"And I did it all without you in my ear" He teased
"Bet you felt all smug about it, too"
He chuckled "No, actually I felt lonely. I missed hearing your voice"
"Well you're hearing it now," She said, placing her hand on his.
"You're fond of touching me, aren't you?" He asked, eyeing her hand. She responded by moving away and gently folding her hands in her lap "Anyway" She said "Find out more information from the patrons of the hotel"
"How do you suspect I go about doing this?"
"Blend in. you're good at that"  Diana smiled "But stay away from the top floors, unless you're in the mood to shimmy up a pipe. Which if I'm being honest, I've always wondered how you do that."
"I'm limber"
"I'd imagine so," She said, then she made a face "I mean, not that I think about that.  I don't think about your body, that's what I'm saying. I'm not thinking... about.... that."
He raised an eyebrow
"What I'm saying" She started, her voice was an octave higher than normal "Is that I meant...that I don't...think..."
"Diana, I think this heat is starting to get to you. Would you like me to get you some water?"
She nodded fervently, her face flushed with red.  He came back with a nice cold glass of water, she took a small sip and set it on the table. "Thank you," She said without meeting his eyes.
"So, there's an event coming up" She said "I looked over the hotel schedule and there's supposed to be some sort of party thrown tomorrow evening, it's celebrating the return of the hotel owners child or something, but it's also an excuse to drink, and you know how talkative people can be when a little tipsy, I suggest you go to this party"  She said, taking a small sip of water
"Understood," He said "I do believe it might seem odd if I simply go to this party alone, you should accompany me"
"Excuse me?"
"People are far less likely to suspect anything suspicious if I'm not an out of place man asking far too many questions" He reasoned "They will assume we came together, that we are husband and wife. and they would have no reason to assume otherwise"
"Maybe they'd simply think I was a particularly easy woman you picked up at the bar," Diana said with a laugh
"Diana," He said, an eyebrow raised "I know that you aren't supposed to be in the field for our contracts, but this isn't one of them, and the ICA doesn't have to know about it."
She sighed and slumped her tense shoulders back "I'm already in enough trouble for coming down here in the first place. If there's another infraction, they will assign me a new Agent"
"So, let's plan for that eventuality, just for one night. Let's pretend we're not in any trouble, help me find information. It'll go faster with two of us"
"And possibly be less of a mess"
"I don't intend on causing a mess in such a public place, you know I'm cleaner than that"  Diana responded with a laugh
"Yes, I know, I've seen your work. You're very good at discretion"
"And I will remain so at your command"
Diana grabbed the glass of water again and smiled "I knew you loved to grovel"