Series summary: You’re on your first real mission, attending the annual winter gala hosted by the man you’re supposed to be taking down. Things don’t go exactly as planned, and you’re left dealing with the aftermath. Romances, betrayal, and super rich bad guys—this should be fun.
Author’s note: Thank you so much to @the-modern-typewriter for the prompts that inspired this series and pulled me out of my (like, six-month-long) writer’s block, and thank you to the anon that requested the prompts! Xoxo
“Drop me off right here.” You looked out the window as the car slowed to a halt along the curb. The sky was clear, but the stars were dimmed by the New York City lights. The streets were almost empty as it was now cold and dark, but they were never quite bare in New York, even on the Upper East Side, and tonight was no exception.
“Are you sure?” Fury was your driver tonight—it was your first real mission, and you needed the reassurance. You never expected him to throw you straight into the ring with a mission like this, but the man was generally unpredictable and you trusted that there was a method to his madness, even if it only made sense to him. Besides, if you ever wanted to become an Avenger, you’d need to prove yourself. “The mansion’s a block away and I highly doubt that you want to walk that far in those damn heels.”
Excerpt from my old WIP, Fortune and Glory, in which John is an adventuring archaeologist and Rodney is a concert pianist whose life has taken a turn. Fusion with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Because @randommindtime
is giving me thinky thoughts about it again.
He took several menial jobs, and degraded himself on more than one occasion, until he landed his current gig playing piano at Club Obi Wan. He made shit wages but got to eat for free. It was no concert hall. He played popular tripe like Blue Moon and Red Sails in the Sunset, accompaniment for the stable of scantily clad dancing girls and the blonde tomato that was the star of the show. (Willie Scott was an American, a fact made apparent by her big mouth and deplorable lack of manners.)
Meredith – he was going by Rodney these days, a way to distance himself from his mistakes and the person he used to be –finished off Anything Goes with a flourish, not that anyone cared. Willie made an immediate beeline for Lao Che, the owner of the club and a high-ranking member of the local crime syndicate, not to mention Willie’s sugar daddy. She simpered over him and Rodney just rolled his eyes. He didn’t know what her story was, mostly because he just really, really didn’t care, but it was obvious to him that her appeal was already starting to wane with the boss.
Normally Rodney paid little attention to the goings-on in the club, apart from those that affected him directly, but his gaze lingered on Lao Che’s table as he made his own way back towards the kitchen. Lao Che was sitting with his usual bodyguards, and one of his sons who sported a heavily bandaged hand and looked worse for wear. There was another man, too, wearing a white tuxedo jacket and slouching in his chair in a way that marked him as an American. He was incredibly good-looking, with his dark hair sticking up in haphazard cowlicks and a smirky tilt to his lips.
Rodney flushed and made himself look away, tugging nervously on his own gray tuxedo; the club orchestra always wore gray. He wanted out of this stupid, fish-eating country in the worst way but he was done compromising his morals to do so. He figured he only had three, four months tops before he’d saved enough for a boat ticket home. After that, if he never saw rice again it would be too soon.
He was almost to the kitchen when all hell broke loose. Women were screaming, one of Lao Che’s men was on fire, and it seemed like every employee pulled out automatic weapons. Rodney dropped to the floor and laced his hands protectively over his head as the guests started to stampede and bullets started to fly.
“Oh, God!” Rodney’s heart was pounding and he felt very strongly that he didn’t want to die in that stupid club. He didn’t know what to do and remained frozen with indecision until a man dropped to the floor in front of him, his white shirt stained red with blood.
Rodney choked off a scream and scuttled backwards on his hands and knees until he fetched up against the wall. Someone stepped squarely on his hand and he cursed, cradling the bruised appendage to his chest. Thank goodness it hadn’t been a stiletto heel.
Through the mass of humanity rushing around pell-mell Rodney spotted Willie. She was also on her hands and knees, and seemed to be chasing something across the floor. She picked up a chunk of ice in one spangled glove but lost it when someone knocked into her arm. Rodney lost sight of her after that, but then a little glass vial filled with blue liquid came skittering in his direction. He snapped his hand out and snatched it up, even though he had no idea what it was.
Rodney looked up and saw the handsome American pointing at him. He looked pretty bad – sweaty and flushed, his tuxedo jacket torn and stained. Maybe the vial was his. Rodney tucked it into the pocket of his jacket for safe keeping.
Balloons started dropping from the ceiling, triggered too early: white and black and red and pink, so many that the entire club floor was lost beneath them. Somehow the American made his way across the room without getting shot, though he did have to exchange blows with one of Lao Che’s bodyguards. He was clearly a tough customer and Rodney was no fool. Things at Club Obi Wan were a little too hot for his liking and he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to fight past the guns and the mob to get out. He was going to need some help.
“Give me the antidote,” the American demanded when he got close enough. He held out his hand, which was noticeably trembling.
“Antidote? Antidote for what?” As soon as he asked the question Rodney knew the answer. Whatever business dealings this guy had with Lao Che had gone south and the boss had poisoned him, one of his favored bargaining techniques.
“Never mind. Get me out of here and you can have it.” Rodney gave him an appraising look. “And you’d better hurry.”
The American scowled but didn’t argue. Instead, he grabbed hold of Rodney’s wrist and dragged him towards the nearest window. Gunfire spat at them from across the room and they both dropped to a crouch.
“This is suicide!” Rodney snatched his hand back. “There’s no cover!”
Except suddenly there was. The American pulled him behind a decorative gong just as more people started shooting at them. Bullets pinged musically off the burnished metal surface and the ropes that held it hanging must’ve gotten severed because the whole thing dropped to the floor with a clang that Rodney could feel in his fillings.
“Let’s go!” the American hissed at him. The gong was rolling towards the window and they went with it, keeping low and out of sight.
“Not the window!” Rodney protested but there was no stopping their forward momentum, particularly when the American grabbed hold of his shoulder and pushed him.
They crashed through the window and Rodney kept his arms up to protect his face from the broken glass. There was a momentary weightless feeling before he plummeted downward, his mouth pressed tightly shut to keep from screaming. He and the American hit an awning, which collapsed and sent them rolling onto the next one with similar results.
Rodney kept waiting to feel himself splatter across the pavement, but the successive awning bouncing had slowed their velocity enough so that the last one held. He sat there mute with terror and incredulity, staring back up at the window they’d fallen from.
“It’s okay, buddy.” The American did a fancy backwards flip off the awning that would’ve been more impressive had he not stumbled when he landed, staggering drunkenly under the effects of the poison in his system. Rodney stared down at him and all of a sudden his terror morphed into anger.
“Are you whacky? You could’ve killed me! I could’ve died!”
“Well, you didn’t. But I still can, so the antidote please?”
Rodney glared, but he scooted forward to the edge of the awning and carefully lowered himself down to street level. Just as his feet touched concrete more bullets were fired from the club window in their general direction.
“What did you do to these guys?” Rodney pressed himself up against the side of the building. The American ignored him, glancing up and down the street until he broke out in a wide grin.