Curt walked into the adjoining room, a combination of an observation room though mirrored glass and a break room – two men sat playing cards, and Captain Zheleznova sat at a table by himself, casually typing away on a laptop.
‘I need a new pair of pants,’ he said.
The Captain looked up at him. ‘Those were the last new pair we had for the moment, but there should be some clean pairs in the laundry?’
‘Where’s that?’
‘Four doors down, on the right.’
‘Back in a minute, let me know if she moves,’ he said, moving out the back door, careful not to move too fast, not to appear as though he was running, or being suspicious. He had to look one one of them, act like one of them, otherwise everything would fall apart. Otherwise everything would go to hell, and so would he.
He found the laundry without any trouble, a hot, muggy room, industrial-sized washers and dryers going, doing their very best to wipe away the stains of Solstice sweat and fae blood. Washing away the the sins.
He sorted through a basket of pants, consciously undoing half an hour of someone’s folding duty, and taking a small solace in the amusement. He slipped off his own pants, and tossed them in the nearest foul-smelling pile to be done with the next load. If there was a next load. Hopefully there wasn’t going to be a next load.
The clock was running out. The point of no return had been pressing the alarm button, and now it all came down to this. He pressed his fingers into his left forearm, feeling the small bulb there, his small, ever-present back-up plan. A back-up plan that proved, despite his words, despite his actions, that he was a traitor to the Agency.
‘Apples backwards,’ he whispered, and he felt the bulb disintegrate and blue flood into his arm, and begin to rush around his veins. It didn’t hurt like last time – but this time he wasn’t being held down for two agents, having it forced into his system for the singular purpose of torturing him. This time it was to save a life, well, three lives.
The blue felt alien in his veins, and he hoped that after all this time, that it would still work. He hoped it would, otherwise he had paid a lot of money for nothing, and it meant that he was going to commit a murder rather than a masterful piece of deception.
He had ten minutes to get it done, she would have less. And if he was wrong-
The laundry door opened, and Andrei Zheleznova joined him in the muggy room. ‘I hope you can give me a good explanation.’
He flashed a smile. ‘Can I assume, Captain, that by now you’ve checked with Adelaide, and found that I’ve been declared a traitor, that I saved the life of a proxy child whilst escaping, and that no deep-cover mission as I’ve described exists?’
The Captain kept his expression steady. ‘Pretty much.’
‘And how well would a deep-cover mission like this work if the paper trail was a mile-wide? You may take whatever action you deem necessary, but I did think that I was well and truly proving where my loyalties lie.’
‘Your efforts today have been…impressive. You certainly have a lot of skill, though I do-’
‘Question why the most extreme thing that I have done with the prisoner is the removal of one eye, rather than, for example, removing a hand, or electrocuting her until she flat lines?’ He smiled. ‘You will see me pull out the flashier moves when I work on the agent, she’s a recruit, and she’s a girl, I prefer to humiliate them, make them think about their choices, rather than simply bring them to a swift death.’
‘You have to understand my position here. I cannot allow you to walk around if there is any question of where your loyalties lie.’
‘And with enough of their magic, everything I’ve done to her could be repaired, yes sir, I see your dilemma. However, so far as I am aware, they aren’t able to cure death. If you’ll allow me, I’ll just go back in there and kill her, can I be so bold as to assume that will prove my place?’
‘You will…just execute her?’
‘Yes sir. It would be a pleasure.’
He wanted to hold his breath, he wanted to slow the beating of his heart, everything, everything depending on being able to execute her in the next nine minutes. If he wasn’t given an order, then he would have to communicate to her to fake an escape attempt – which would be difficult, given her inability to carry her own weight.
‘I think that would do it, yes,’ Andrei said.
‘Yes sir,’ he said, snapping a salute.
‘And you’re willing to do this now?’
‘Right now sir, with your leave,’ he said.
‘Get to it then.’
He nodded, and walked from the laundry, still careful to moderate his speed, to appear as one of them.
He didn’t allow the weight of what he was going to do settle, it was their one way out, even if it was dangerous, based on facts he had only confirmed through fleeting glances, code words and deduction, and if he was wrong, he was a murderer.
If it went wrong, if his two-minute plan didn’t come out exactly as he’d extrapolated, then…there was still a slight chance that he could rescue himself and Grigori. And Dmitri. Not that he was sure that Grigori deserved saving – he made a mental note to ask Stef exactly what had happened, if it matched up to his theory, if they survived. And if they survived, and it was as he thought, it was going to be her choice what happened to the other agent.
He steeled himself, walked back through the break room, and into the torture room. He stopped briefly to pick up a knife from the tray, a nice clean one, one that he hadn’t already used to cut into her.
She was shivering, badly – but hypothermia was the least of her worries. She, for her part, had barely moved – more than the inch he had threatened her over, but that was really a moot point. He tore the pair of wet pants from her head, and waited for her eyes to adjust before beginning to speak.
‘I’m going to give you the chance to repent before you die,’ he said, lifting the knife, so that she had all the warning she could. ‘To cleanse your soul before you die.’
‘B-b-b-b-’ she stuttered, her body shaking too much to speak. He grabbed one of her shoulders and pulled her up. ‘Bu-bu-but I didn’t move an inch…’ she said.
He pressed the knife to her cheek. ‘That doesn’t matter now. Your time is up. You’ve got one last chance to repent, be glad that I’m giving you that.’
‘You really are a troublesome bitch. Let me ask you one question: do you think today is a good day to die?’