Don’t get dead.
Taeyeon scoffs at Tiffany’s words as she sneaks around in the stinky boots Tiffany forced her to wear. One day. One day she’ll get her revenge. Or another kiss at least. Without Agent Amber watching.
“Five more metres,” says Yuri from the front.
Taeyeon checks her ICE watch. “Right at the next turn.”
“This tube is stuffy.”
“I’ll bet this is why they got us to do this.”
“I know, right.”
For the next minute, they crawl in silence until Yuri stops abruptly.
“What?” Taeyeon asks.
“There’s a turn here.”
“But it’s not on the grid.”
“I know. I’ll mark it.”
Taeyeon sits back and waits.
They begin to move forward again but Taeyeon thinks something is amiss. “Wait.”
“Isn’t the turn in front a bit too far out?”
“Maybe. But it’s on the grid.”
“If we follow the grid, it should be this turn right here.”
“So what do we do now?”
“What if it leads us to the wrong room?”
“Okay. I’m going in.”
Yuri’s voice came from the front. “Jackpot.”
“Gimme some room.”
Yuri shifts a little to the side, allowing Taeyeon to squeeze past her. “Black Pearl to Pink Monster. Baby Bottle has been located. Paper Girl is going in.”
“Why the fuck do I get a name like Paper Girl when you get something cool like Black Pearl,” Taeyeon complains as she unscrews the metal box.
“I think Pink Monster’s trying to get your attention by doing things like that.”
“Pink Monster is a pain in the ass.”
“Oh, have you two gone that far down the road already?”
“What are you blabbering about?”
“Yeah, sure. Act like nobody knows about the two of you.”
“Act? I’m not acting like anything.”
“So come clean with me. What’s going on between you two?”
“Nothing more than a few kisses.”
Yuri whistles. “Nice. But are you sure you wanna get involved with the Pink Monster?”
With the cover finally off, Taeyeon plugs in the mini-ICE that Tiffany had given her earlier. She pressed the code Agent Amber had provided and watched as the mini-ICE blinked red, then green. “Done.” She unplugs the mini-ICE and sets about screwing the cover back on. “For now, I’m treating it like half-time entertainment. Who knows if we’ll even get to see them after this mission is over.”
“That’s true. And dating an agent like that might be more trouble than she’s worth.”
Taeyeon nods. “It might.”
“But you love trouble.”
Taeyeon grins. “So do you.”
“I love thrill. Not trouble.”
“Right now, we gotta get to the next Baby Bottle before we run out of time and get into trouble.”
“I’m on it.”
Time is ticking away and Taeyeon is feeling the pressure. “How many more Baby Bottles are there?”
“Chill. We have seven minutes.”
“That’s not a lot when we have to crawl our way out of here.”
“You’re right. I’ll go up front to get our bearings while you screw it back on.”
“Go, go, go.” Taeyeon hastens to get the screws back in and crawls as quickly as she can once the last screw is in. She catches up with Yuri who is waiting for her at the next turn. “Where is it?”
“In there. You go in, I’ll check the way out while you’re dealing with the Baby Bottle.”
“Good plan.” Taeyeon slides to the metallic box and repeats the process for the tenth time. She is deft with her tools by now and completely at ease with the process. A quick glance at her ICE tells her they have five minutes left. Just enough time to get out. She wills the tools to work faster and silently chants for the mini-ICE to blink green sooner. When all is done, she replaces the screws and slides back out. “Black Pearl?”
“Over here. Straight ahead.”
Taeyeon slides on her chest to catch up. Yuri is looking at her in amusement when she comes to a halt. “What?”
“The benefits of having a modest rack.”
Taeyeon rolls her eyes. “We have four minutes left. Get going, Black Pearl.”
Taeyeon doesn’t relax until she’s in the hovercar with Tiffany at the controls and Yuri safe by her side. But as soon as the hovercar sets off, it feels like all the air has gone from her lungs and she sags against the seat inside.
“Do you have to be that dramatic?” Tiffany comments from the front.
“You’re not the one who had to break in and crawl through vents like rats and infiltrate ten freaking Baby Bottles within thirty minutes.”
“Point taken.” Tiffany chuckles as they sweep past buildings at top speed. “To show my appreciation for your success tonight, the two of you will get a break tomorrow. You may come in for the debrief after lunch instead.”
“What?” Taeyeon protests. “It should be a day’s break.”
“You’re not the one who makes the rules around here.”
“You’re too mean,” Taeyeon groans as she nudges Yuri. “Don’t you think so too?”
“Now that we have unlocked the gateways, we should move fast,” says Yuri, much to Taeyeon’s disapproval. “Sleeping in late is good enough. We’ll be in by lunchtime.”
“There you go. Yuri is much more understanding than you are,” says Tiffany.
Taeyeon can only slump further down her seat. The torture continues. And she’s not getting out of it anytime soon.
The next day, Taeyeon finds herself seated in a little dark room with Tiffany. “What about Yuri?” she asks.
“Debriefs are held separately. Seo will debrief Yuri.”
“Ah,” Taeyeon replies, immediately relieved that she isn’t in Yuri’s place.
“Seo is skilful at debriefs.”
“I didn’t say she isn’t.”
“You shouldn’t be happy she’s not debriefing you.”
“I-I’m just happy it’s you and not somebody else.”
Tiffany turns to Taeyeon, brow arched. “Do you really expect me to believe you?”
“I expect you to start the debrief quickly so I can go home earlier and get some rest.”
“You’re acting like an old weakly woman.”
“Right now, I feel like one. Can we get started already?”
Tiffany frowns. “This is a serious process. You will not be flippant.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
“You’ll pay for it if you are.”
“Explain why you made the turn.”
Taeyeon sighs. She wants nothing more than to get back to her bed and lie down but this debrief isn’t about to end anytime soon. “According to the grid, the first Baby Bottle is supposed to be closer to us, not further.”
“How did you assess the risk of taking that turn?”
Taeyeon shrugs. “I’ve pulled off so many of these things that I learnt to trust my gut feeling.”
“And what if your gut feeling was wrong?”
“We might have lost some time but we could still backtrack if it was the wrong turn.”
Tiffany stares at Taeyeon, making her shift in her seat.
“Why are you staring?”
“You should consider joining my team after all this is over.”
“This is torture. The only reason I’m cooperating is—you know why.”
Tiffany smiles. “Who knows? The future is unpredictable.”
“The future is in my own hands.”
“For someone who is stuck here with me doing a debrief you don’t want to do, you seem pretty sure of your control over your future.”
“This is but a momentary lapse of control. I’ll get it back once this is over.”
“And for a moment I thought you’re enjoying this.”
“I am enjoying this. I like stealing hard-to-steal things. But I prefer to decide what I’m stealing.”
“Like Lord Liveyrev’s Blue Sapphire?”
Taeyeon blinks. “What?”
“Lord Liveyrev has many eyes and ears in many places. Those eyes and ears come with mouths and we get to hear about it eventually. We heard about a gift stolen from him. A ring call the Blue Sapphire.”
“What are you planning to do with the ring?”
“Sell it, of course.”
“Lord Liveyrev’s eyes and ears will get to it and he will order you to be killed.”
“That’s if he finds out it’s me.”
“His eyes and ears can bypass proxies, Taeyeon. They will find the root.”
“If you insist on selling it, my advice to you is to wait.”
“That’s Selling Stolen Goods 101. Of course I plan to wait.”
“I have a feeling you won’t wait long enough.”
“I’ll wait long enough. I’m not planning to get any of my friends or family into trouble over this.”
“But you said you like trouble.”
Taeyeon blinks and stares hard at Tiffany. “Where did you hear that from?”
“Your conversation with Yuri last night.”
“Everything is recorded during a mission. Your suit has a chip that records everything.”
“Oh. So you heard everything.”
Taeyeon sweats a little inside. This means Tiffany has also heard the part she said about treating her as half-time entertainment. But why isn’t Tiffany angry about that?
“Why aren’t you saying anything?”
“Are you angry?”
Tiffany shakes her head. “No.”
Tiffany looks hard at her. “Because you are right.”
“With a job like this, it’s actually more trouble than it’s worth.”
Guilt creeps up Taeyeon’s spine. “I would say it depends.”
Tiffany’s smile doesn’t quite send sparkles to her eyes. “Trust me. I know better than anyone how much trouble it is.”
Welcome back to the world of Deal Breaker!
Super secret agents and rich lady thieves galore (:
For those of you who have been waiting for Deal Breaker’s return, thank you for your impressive patience and great love ❤