Chapter 1: A Slow Drive
The car pulled up to the hotel and the window rolled down, Agent 47 starred out at the building. "This is it," he said to the driver. The man nodded and opened the drivers' side door, coming around to open the passenger's door. "There you are, sir. Enjoy your stay"
Agent 47 had been all around the world and stayed in various hotels, they say a Hitman never sleeps, but Diana was insistent that he get some time away from his job for a little recreation, he didn't quite see the purpose of it, but she seemed to believe it would make him better at his job. He recalled the prior discussion as he walked up the steps to the front entrance.
She had asked him to see her at the ICA headquarters in her office, This was something that most handlers did not do as the rule-book states handlers and agents should not meet with each other in person, nor form a personal bond. Diana had broken both of those rules on many occasions, but there wasn't a lot anyone could do to stop her. 47 had no mind of it, of course, and he did as directed.
"Why don't you have a seat, Agent 47" She spoke clearly, concise. He obliged and took a seat in the chair in front of her desk.
Included in her office was a large window that saw most of the sky, it let in quite a bit of light when the blinds weren't drawn, such as they weren't at that moment, 47 found it a bit distracting.
She sat down in her chair and placed her hands over her lap "I have been looking over some of your case files, past hits and jobs we've taken and it seems as though the more recent ones are... a bit different" She bit her bottom lip as she placed a folder on the desk
"Different how?" He asked, eyeing the folder
"Don't misunderstand me here, but you seem to be a bit..."
"Sloppy?" He offered
"Well, your words. Not mine. In any case, the ICA has taken notice of it as well and they wished me to discuss setting a vacation for you. To get your bearings again, to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation."
He shook his head "I do not understand the purpose of a vacation when there is work to be done" He said, a small smile appeared at the edges of Diana's mouth and she shut the folder.
"Exactly what I told them you would say. But, studies have shown that an increase in work without rest can have an unwanted effect on the human body. You may be... special in that case, but you are still human"
"Understood, one question"
"Of course, 47" She put the file back into a drawer and turned her attention to the man in front of her
"Do I have to?"
She responded in a way that was completely unexpected, she started laughing, not a simple chuckle, not a polite laugh, but one that seemed to take her a time to recover from. She regained her composure "I apologize for that, 47. It is simply that many of the agents here would be absolutely delighted to be assigned vacation time, and here you are, trying to get out of it"
"I do not get the need for it, and I am good at my job"
"Don't get me wrong, Agent. I know more than anyone how good you are in the field. But, getting some much-needed relaxation will help you hone your skills, you'll come back refreshed, energized and ready for whatever we have to offer"
"There is no way you will reconsider?" He asked, a last ditch attempt, as he knew she had her mind set and was impossible to change. He had experience with her stubborn behavior before. She was very unlikely to relent for any reason.
"No, I'm sorry 47. But it appears you'll have to go on a wonderfully relaxing vacation. You are dismissed" She turned her attention to her laptop as 47 made for the door.
"Oh and, 47," She said, stopping him before he could open the door. He turned back to her
"Please do try to enjoy yourself," She said, the small smirk reappearing on her face.
* * *
So here he was, arriving at the Gran Meliá hotel in Rome, He was a very light packer when he wasn't preparing for a job, so many of the things he had brought were merely a couple of outfit changes, it was easy for the hotel staff to help him with his bags up to his room and they were very fond of him for not ordering them around the way other patrons were known to do. By the time he was settled into his room, he felt strange, as if something were incomplete.
In another example of breaking protocol, 47 retrieved his cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number he had memorized long ago. After a moment of ringing, a voice on the other line "Hello?"
"Oh, Hello Agent 47. I trust you should be at your hotel by now?"
"You do realise calling your handler defeats the purpose of your vacation. It isn't about work, it is to relax. Though now that I think of it, I'm not sure I can imagine you relaxing"
"It isn't that I do not know how Diana. It's simply that I feel it lacks purpose"
"Ah, of course. You've gotten so used to the ICA sending you to these fancy corners of the world for jobs that you have no idea what to do with yourself"
"Well," Diana said, "May I suggest a walk around the pool? I hear they have a lovely one at the Meliá "
"You've never been?"
She chuckled "I've been to a lot of places, never Rome. I've never had the excuse to go"
"47, Are you asking me to come to Rome?"
"Of course not"
"Because it is incredibly unprofessional and not to mention against the rules for a handler and their agent to be 'hanging out'"
"It is a large place"
"Ah yes, I have heard," She said, he could almost hear her smile through the phone "I understand, if I were to choose to go on vacation, Which I rightly could at any moment, Rome would be a fantastic place to go. And, it is such a large place with many hotels. One would never run into a co-worker."
"Unless they went out of their way, of course"
"Of course. Well, Agent 47, I wouldn't wish to keep you from your relaxing vacation. Do try and stay out of trouble, the ICA does not have enough funds to find someone quite of your caliber if you get detained, or shot."
"As you wish," He said simply, ending the call.
Chapter 2: Erano Qui
A mystery slowly unravels at the Melia hotel that 47 is staying at, forcing Diana to come to Rome in an effort to protect her agent.
The first evening on his vacation was long and aimless, when he had time to himself, he believed he had too much time to think about the things he did. Did he have regrets? No, nothing of the sort. He did what he did because he was good at it, because it was his job, and because he got paid to do so. There was no room for remorse in this line of work.
He took Diana's advice and strolled around the hotel's pool, watching the families enjoy their evening as the sunset made a dramatic display in the sky behind them, pink and orange colors reflecting in the water. He wondered if others found him to be out of place, he always did his best to blend in no matter the situation, but he suspected that a tall bald man wearing an all-black suit in the middle of the pool area was a bit odd. He returned to his room, still as unfulfilled as he was when he arrived. He sighed and sat on the bed, there was a television in his room. He supposed that would provide some kind of distraction. He turned it on.
A movie was playing, it depicted a man who was about to jump off a building and a tearful woman trying to stop him, he kept it on the channel for mere moments trying to figure out what the film was about, was it a romance? Was it an action film? When he couldn't figure it out he turned the television off and lay the remote back on the bedside table. He pulled out his phone again and once more dialed a number he couldn't forget even if he ever wished to.
It rang a couple of times before a voice on the other end, sounding polite but exasperated "What is it now, 47?"
"How did you know it was me?" He asked
"Woman's intuition," She said with a chuckle "Your number comes up on the phone as unlisted. Who else could it possibly be?"
"Why are you calling?" She asked, it didn't sound hostile, she didn't sound angry, but he felt as though he had done something wrong.
"I went to the pool like you said, now I am back in my room. I don't know what to do"
He couldn't tell if she was sighing or laughing, she kept silent for a moment "Well I suppose I could offer some conversation. I have decided last minute that I wish to go on a vacation. The ICA has paid for an all-inclusive trip to Cancun in Mexico"
He raised an eyebrow, despite knowing she could not see him "Mexico?"
"Yes, fun in the sun and splashing around in the water"
"Rome is also a very sunny place"
"Yes, but I'm not going to Rome"
"But you've never been, and if I recall you have been to Mexico before"
"Yes, I have, but the ICA is paying for this," She said, a slight tone of defiance in her voice, was she defiant against the ICA or against his attempts to persuade her to come to Rome? He couldn't tell.
"I will pay for Rome," He said, this caused a silence that lasted so long that he was sure the phone call had disconnected. Right when he was going to check the call, she spoke again "You'll what?"
There it was for the second time, no hostility in her voice, no anger, but the nagging feeling that had done something wrong. "I will pay for Rome. Come here instead of Mexico"
"Don't you think the ICA will be angry if I skip out on their vacation?"
"They of course, never have to find out."
"But if they do, and they find out I went to Rome, the exact location that they sent you. They will become rightfully suspicious"
"There is no need for them to be suspicious, Rome is a beautiful city, and you've never seen it" He didn't know why he was pushing this so much, even if Diana were to come here he would still be as aimless and unfulfilled as a man of his talents often was when he was not putting those talents to use. But he still wanted her to be here.
"47, you know The Agency's policy on handlers and agents. They aren't supposed to meet, they aren't supposed to 'hang out', they are not supposed to form a platonic or romantic bond"
"We have already met, many times, and just yesterday I was in your office. The ICA didn't do anything to you"
"Perhaps it is because they understand I am the only handler that can...well, handle you." She chuckled at her own little joke but quickly regained her composure "I think you should turn in 47, tomorrow is a brand new day to have a relaxing experience in the wonderful city of Rome. Enjoy the sights, Enjoy the culture."
"Does the ICA think there is something between us?" he suspected this caught her off guard as it took her a moment to answer.
"They do think it's inappropriate that I have broken protocol for you many times before. They wish to crack down on it"
"And yet you remain on a personal call with me, after work hours. I may add"
"Just what are you implying 47?"
"No implications at all, though if you were out to please the Agency, you wouldn't have taken my call. You would request me not to call you, and you would make a show of how we should only communicate during contracts"
"Why exactly are you trying so hard to get me to come to Rome?"
"It's simple, you are my friend. And you have never been to Rome. I believe you deserve a nice vacation as well."
"I have a nice vacation set up already"
"But, not the one you want to go on"
"It must be getting quite late for you, 47. Perhaps you should retire to bed?" She said, her tone suggested she was quite serious, that it was possible if he said another word she would be quite stern. He agreed "You are right, I should. Tomorrow is a new day, Enjoy Cancun."
He hung up the call before she could answer and set the phone on the table. It was only 9 pm and he didn't quite feel tired, he turned the television back on and decided to give the film another try.
Two characters appeared to be arguing with each other, one was about to get onto a train and he held his partners hand in his "Please" He said "Please come with me, run away with me, we could get away from all of the things we wish to" She pulled away in a dramatic fashion "No, I will not come away with you. We are not to be seen together, there will be talking!" She huffed, the woman was wearing an oversized hat, not unlike one he had seen Diana wearing before. The man let go of her hand "Don't you get it? I don't care if people talk! You are my friend, my confidant. If you shall not go with me, what must I do?" He seemed on the verge of an emotional breakdown, the woman seemed rather composed in comparison as she shook her head "I will not come away with you, you must find your own life." She said, and with that, she broke away from the man and the train left the station without her. The man all alone in a compartment, staring longingly out a window, the screen went black and the credits rolled.
Bewildered, 47 turned the channel to see if there was anything else on, he eventually fell to sleep while the T.V blared in the background.
* * * *
The next morning he was awoken by a woman on the cleaning staff who had come in to dust the room and arrange things just right. Despite the fact that he had only gotten there mere hours prior, he made quite a mess with the room, leaving clothes littered all over the floor and snacks from the mini bar all over the bed. He finally gave in to the reality that he was never going to get back to sleep with her in the room and sat up.
She bustled about in a quiet manner while 47 reached for the phone on his bedside table. He had no messages or missed calls or anything of the sort, not that he was surprised at all, he had nobody he often communicated with, but he felt a little disappointed that Diana hadn't called him, to bother him about having fun or relaxing. He decided he would head down to breakfast and then see where the rest of the morning took him.
Arriving downstairs at the breakfast buffet was as noisy as he expected, He knew he wouldn't stay long. Just as well to try to keep his head down and avoid conversation, he sat at the long community table. Other hotel guests were wearing various shades of yellow, pink and white as to better reflect the hot Italian sun that was creeping up slowly on the horizon. The table was slowly filled with breakfast foods, fancy delicacies and much more. He loaded up his plate with whatever he could reach and listened to the conversations of others. He was always very good at eavesdropping.
"Did you hear about that?" One woman's hushed whispers to her husband caught his attention
"What?" The husband responded whilst eating his meal
"There's a room at the top floor that's been blocked off. Meagan was playing around up there and heard screaming hours before they blocked it off from the rest of the hotel" The man dropped his fork "Oh my goodness, Do you think that there's been a murder?"
"I don't know, but something weird is going on at this hotel. I saw a man in a suit by the pool. That's gotta be FBI or something, right?"
47 put his head down and focused on his meal, hoping against all reason the woman wouldn't catch a glimpse of him in the corner of her eyes, Though he was able to explain the sighting of the strange man at the pool, it being him. He was not able to explain away the screams from the upstairs and the blocked off rooms. He thought this was rather odd. But was it odd enough to investigate?
A woman to his left and her girlfriend were also speaking in hushed tones "It was three rooms last night, three of them. Nobody was allowed in or out of these rooms, now they are completely blocked off. People were saying they heard weird noises on the floor last night" Her girlfriend rolled her eyes "Probably nothing, maybe filming a snuff movie or something"
"I'm just saying, you're far too paranoid"
He had heard enough and pushed aside his plate, rising from the table to head back to his room, there was seemingly something happening at this hotel, something that he wished to look further into. By the time he returned to his room the cleaning woman had gone, curtains open again, letting in the bright morning sun. He pulled them closed once more and when he turned around he noticed it, at last, an envelope sat atop his pillow addressed to him. "Agent 47". He opened it and read the note inside, written in a fancy scrawl; it said simply "I know who you are"
He reached for his phone and quickly hit the redial button on his last call, waiting through several rings. He crossed to the windows and peeked out over the vista.
Diana finally picked up after the seventh or eighth ring. He didn't give her a chance to speak before relaying the information to her. "There is something happening at the hotel. I was at breakfast and overheard some patrons talking about upstairs rooms being blocked off after what they called 'disturbing sounds' were heard in each room. I came back from breakfast to find a note left on my pillow"
"A note?" Diana's voice was level, calm and collected. This something 47 respected about his Handler, she always went into each situation calmly and with careful thought. It was something he could relate to, considering his meticulous attention to detail. Though some would call it an obsession.
"It says 'I know who you are'"
"What do you suppose this means?" She asked
"I believe it means someone is trying to get my attention," He said, turning over the letter in his hand again, nothing on the back. He didn't recognize the handwriting at all.
"They've certainly made a spectacle of it. Are you quite sure it's not a simple joke?"
"It's addressed to me, Whoever wrote it; put 'agent 47' on the envelope"
"This is troubling," Diana said "Sit tight, 47, I will be on my way shortly"
"Is that necessary?" He asked, turning the letter over in his hand again "Why don't you just send an ICA operative? There's no need to come down here yourself. What about Mexico?"
"I changed my mind." She said simply "I should arrive there in about eight or so hours. Be ready for my call, 47"
47 spent the rest of the day doing as Diana had suggested, laying low and being discreet, He mostly stayed in his room and kept to himself while he waited for Diana's call. As the day passed and night fell, he started to get a little impatient, she should have called to update him. He took the time to rearrange all the books lining the shelf, to look over all the little trinkets used as decor around the room.
This was the first time he had really had a chance to take in his surroundings, the room was rather large with windows overlooking the large pool that he had walked around yesterday afternoon, though the curtains were pulled close again, hiding the view of the outside. There was a large bed with a couch at the end of it, facing directly to the television, which was mounted on the wall. The couch, which he had been spending most of his day on, was rather comfortable, he could see falling asleep on it as well as reading the odd book or two. He was looking for an interesting book to read while he waited, but before he could; his phone rang. He set the book down on the bed and grabbed his phone. "I've just arrived in Rome" Diana's voice crackled over the phone "Bad reception out here, you're at the Melia right?"
"I'll be there shortly, meet me in the lobby and then we'll find a more clandestine location to speak without prying eyes, ears or...well, any other limbs"
"Understood" He ended the call and placed his phone safely in his pocket, looking down at the book he had chosen to read. Wondering if he'd have the chance to read it at all. He shook his head and made his way to the lobby.
Upon arriving in the lobby, he scanned the room for Diana but couldn't spot her, he felt uncomfortably reminded of an old hotel he had been in after running from the ICA when he had failed to complete a contract kill. The hotel he currently resided in looked nothing like the Terminus, but he was always reminded of those dark days when he stepped foot into a hotel. He took a seat by the window and watched for any signs of her.
He took out his phone while a hotel staff member walked by and he texted Diana "Where are you? I'm in the lobby" He sent
"Behind you :)" The response came with the tiny plinking noise the phone always made upon receiving a new message. He looked behind him and saw a woman sporting a large hat and sitting alone on one of the many couches out in the lobby.
He crossed over to the couch, sitting a distance from her and coughing into his hand, Diana set a large purse in the middle between them and he passed the note behind the bag. She removed her hat and carefully placed the note on top of it, feigning as though she were checking her hat, but really she was studying the note.
He pulled his phone out again, sending her another message "That's what was left on my pillow when I came back from breakfast. There had only been one person in my room when I had left, a hotel staff member"
Her eyebrow arched as she quickly slid the note into her purse and moved the hat back to her head in one fluid motion "This is a bit odd, you don't suppose someone here has a grudge against you? It's very possible, the ICA has many enemies" she responded in text "It's possible of course, though I don't like the thought, that someone had followed you, tracked your movements and waited for an appropriate time to strike. Though I'm not sure what leaving notes on your pillow is going to accomplish" She sent, his phone plinked twice with the new messages and he winced at the sound.
He quickly scanned the room to make sure nobody was paying him or Diana any mind and turned down the volume on his phone before sending Diana his next message "Of course it's possible, I'd imagine I have a lot of enemies, and as for the purpose of the note. I believe it's to get my attention"
He looked up and watched some of the people still walking around the lobby, workers, people coming to and from their rooms.
Diana quietly and discreetly typed a message on her phone, her hat hiding her face from any prying eyes. He wasn't certain, but he thought she might have been wearing sunglasses underneath the hat.
"What floor is your room on?" Her text read
"Alright, go up to your room. I will get checked in and request a room on the third floor. When you hear a tap on your door, let me in" She made a show of taking off her hat and making her way to the front desk and instead of her normal English voice, she was putting on an American accent to request a room "Yes, hello. I'm so sorry I've gotten here so late, I hope there's still a place for me?"
"Why of course M'aam, we have rooms on the sixth, third and fourth floor. Which would you prefer?" The hotel employee spoke in energetic tones, despite the time of day.
"I would like a room on the third floor if that's not too much trouble" She tapped her fingers twice against the front desk and 47 rose from the couch, heading to the staircase and back to his room "Are you with anyone?" The man up front asked Diana
"No, I'm here alone" She answered
47 headed back up to his room, the hotel staff only came during the mornings and afternoons so he didn't have to worry about the woman opening his blinds again. The book he had chosen to read was sitting on the bed still, he took it and replaced it on the shelf. Soon enough the tapping on the door came and he opened it. She crossed into the room without saying a word and made for the television, turning it up a little. "Wouldn't want anyone listening in, now would we?" She said in her normal English accent. He nodded and closed the door.
"Good work disguising your voice downstairs," He said, he knew Diana was capable of speaking in whatever tone or accent she was required to for undercover purposes, but she had never been one to take undercover missions, preferring the serene ease of being behind the scenes, safe from the gunfire and blood.
She looked him over and cocked her head to the left "Hm" She said thoughtfully "You're in the boiling summer heat, in Italy I may add, and yet you wear... a suit?"
"I like it," He said simply "Though come nightfall I do change into more sleep appropriate attire. But as I have company tonight..."
Diana smirked "Oh I do apologize, I didn't realize I was keeping you from comfortable pajamas and a late night snack" She shook her head and set her purse on the couch, retrieving the note once more. She turned it over in her hands, studying the writing "This is written on hotel stationery, whoever wrote this note is staying here"
"I'd worked that much out for myself." 47 said, deadpan.
Diana gave him a look as she slid the envelope back into her bag, "Yes, your sleuthing abilities are very well documented" She looked around "We need to be discreet here, keep track of who goes in and out of your room. Keep watch"
"Diana," He said, his voice low "What do you mean 'we'?"
"As your Handler I-"
"You are my handler at work Diana, we are not at work."
"Oh, yes I must have been mistaken by the man who called me yesterday asking what it is he should do on his own vacation."
"Trust me, if there is a problem here, I can take care of it myself."
"And I have no doubts of that, but I presume the ICA would be very cross with me if I saw a potential threat to one of our agents and didn't do my part in bringing it to light" She brushed something off her shoulder, making a show of looking for something in her purse and avoiding looking in his direction "And besides, you want me here" She said, a smile in her voice. "I will come back here tomorrow morning and we can go over the plan." She strode purposefully towards the door and out into the hall, though if she had turned around at that moment, she would have seen the ghost of a smirk on 47's face.
Chapter 3: Allora
The mystery is in full swing as Diana and 47 make plans to uncover the secrets of the local Rome hotel.
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.
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"
"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."
"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'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"
"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"