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A Tropical Caper
1.

Benjamin, the new chief of CONTROL, paced the interior of his new office, dreading the meeting ahead. He had to meet with CONTROL's newest two agents and give them a new assignment. He wouldn't feel so uncomfortable if it weren't for the fact that this was his first meeting with anyone, let alone anyone important. He was the nephew of the former chief, but no one seemed to care. He'd only been there for a week, and already he'd received the cold shoulder from everyone in the office.

Benjamin had to admit he was more than surprised when his uncle offered him the opportunity to become head of an organization such as CONTROL. Benjamin had been doing well in the CIA, although he hadn't been promoted in years and had begun to fall from the ranks of “the great”. He couldn't help it; he was getting older and his body was starting to give out on him occasionally. He could still pull off a good fist fight if need be, but doing this kind of work day in and day out for over twenty years took it's toll eventually. That's why he'd been so eager to come to CONTROL-he'd heard nothing but good things and good stories. Plus, as you get older you should get to rise in the ranks to be a somebody. Now, he still had the excitement of a job he loved so much, without so much physical hardship.

The government had renewed CONTROL's right to operation almost immediately upon hearing that KAOS was still in business. Sure, their leader was dead and gone, but that wouldn't stop them. They would come up with a newer, better one. That was one thing Benjamin knew for sure. He hadn't been there for “CONTROL's Finest Hour”, where they had single handedly saved the world (again), but Benjamin remembered his uncle telling him ecstatically over dinner. That's the same night he had offered Benjamin to take over for him. It seemed his uncle wanted to leave on top. It had been the high point of his career, and he wanted to leave when he could still say he made a difference.

Benjamin had been excited. More than excited. He had been waiting for something like this his whole life. But when he realized what a poor reception he was getting, it had dampened not only his mood, but also his incentive to do well. That's why this meeting had to go perfect today. To prove that he deserved to be there!

“Sir? Sir?” a very annoyed secretary cried at Benjamin. He snapped out of his thoughts.

“Wha-yes? Yes, Miss Iverson, what is it?” Benjamin said, leaning against his desk and waiting for his heart to stop racing. Miss Iverson pointed to the lobby.

“Agent 47 is here to see you, sir. He showed up early…as usual!” she scoffed. Benjamin nodded.

“Okay, send him in.”

Agent 47, the newest addition to CONTROL, entered briskly. “Good morning, Chief!” he boomed.

Benjamin shook his hand. “You're early, 47!”

47 looked a tad insulted. “Well, better early than late, sir. Maybe the others just aren't as punctual as I,” he remarked proudly. Benjamin gave him a strange look; 47 was probably one of the weirdest agents he'd met in his time. He was young according to his file, but 47 looked to be about…well, 47. His coal black hair was always combed back neatly, resembling that of a 1920's mobster. His attire (always immaculate) was a cut above what all the others were wearing; fancy dress wear seemed to be everyday clothes for him. 47's eyes were a brilliant blue, and one could almost see some kindness hidden deep, deep down inside, although to talk to him for five minutes would inevitably ruin that illusion

“Um…yeah. Want some coffee?” Benjamin offered. 47 frowned.

“No, defiantly not. You know, that stuff's more dirt than it is real coffee!” 47 pointed out. Benjamin resisted the urge to roll his eyes.

“I forgot you have eloquent tastes, 47,” Benjamin said sarcastically. 47 looked pleased.

“You really think so? I think so too, but no one ever notices. Heck, I'm just an all around eloquent guy,” he said, flattering himself. He sat down in one of the chairs. “You know what you need in this room, Chief? Some spring hues. And slipcovers. Maybe a few throw pillows, too,” 47 said wistfully, looking around. “Yes, that would certainly make it seem bigger. I just redid my apartment, and I had the best interior designer in Washington come down to help me decide. Yes sir, the best one! My apartment looks like a million bucks! Hah, before I'm through it probably will be a million bucks!” he said, laughing at his own joke. Benjamin remained serious. 47 sniffed. “Well, at least some of us can take a joke.”

“Benjamin!” Kate Bloom, another new recruit, said happily as she bounced into the room. She hugged him tightly. Benjamin smiled weakly; Kate caught this. “I know you're feeling out of place, but just give it some time!” she whispered to him. Benjamin couldn't help but smile at her outreach to him.

“Thank you. I need to be reminded of that every now and then,” Chief said, breaking their hug. “Kate, I would like you to meet Agent 47,” he said, presenting the sitting 47 to Kate. Kate smiled and shook hands.

“I've heard some good things about you, 47!” she said. 47 half smiled.

“Well, I wish I could say the same for you, Agent 53,” 47 said icily. Kate's face fell a moment, but perked right back up. Chief cleared his throat.

“Well, um…I wanted to introduce you, because you two will be partners from now on!” Chief said, sitting down and waiting for the storm. Kate cheered.

“Wow! I never thought I'd have a partner! I mean, I've heard you have to be really good to get a partner because you know, you're moving to the next level!” she exclaimed. 47 stood up.

“Yes, you do have to be `really good' as you so gracefully put it, but that brings up the obvious question. Why do I have you as a partner, then?” 47 stated rather sharply. Kate smiled.

“Aww, 47 you're so sweet!”

“It wasn't a compliment. Chief, I have always worked alone. Always. And I've always done magnificently. So why now am I getting a…partner?” 47 said disdainfully. Benjamin sighed.

“47, we've got enough lone agents out there. Right now we really need partnerships. They're more valuable than the lone agents sometimes. Certain situations call for more than one person, and if we can have two people who know how the other is going to react, then that's what we need!” Benjamin explained carefully. 47 didn't look convinced. Kate bounded over to 47 and threw her arms around him.

“47, I know we're going to be great friends and partners!” she said quite solemnly, but still smiling up at him. 47 looked disgusted, and pushed Kate away.

“Really, now, I don't even know you. And I'm sure that even if I did you wouldn't be welcome to hug me!” he said seriously, glaring at her. He brushed off his blazer like he had just made contact with something really icky. Kate looked crestfallen, and moved away. “Well Chief, I suppose I had to hit a bump in the road sometime. A bit of bad luck comes to everyone now and then, it's to be expected. I suppose if this is the best CONTROL can do I will take it,” 47 said, thinking himself quite big for letting this kid hang around him. He looked over at his new partner and saw she was quite upset. Good!

Benjamin shifted uncomfortably in his seat, knowing full well how insulting that must have been for Kate. She looked hurt and betrayed, and glanced mournfully over at him. He averted his eyes. “Well…we'll see how it goes, ok? Now, I'm going to send you out on your first mission. You're going to be traveling to the Caribbean.”

“Yay!” Kate cheered, happy that for once she'd get to go somewhere cool on a mission. 47 looked strangely at her.

“Can we move on, Chief?” he asked impatiently.

“Yes. As you know, the Republic of Tropico has just declared it's independence. It's located here…in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. It's president is Horatio Muchandez, a rebel leader who led the revolution. Although he's sworn to be true to the democratic way, we do have reason to believe he's in with KAOS, and we need to put a stop to it.”

47's ears perked up at the mention of KAOS. “How are they connected, Chief?” he asked intently. Benjamin stood up and handed him a huge case file.

“This was mainly a farming community when Muchandez took over. Now suddenly it's one of the nuclear capitals of the world.”

“Wait a minute. How long have they been a republic?” Kate asked, looking over the file carefully.

“Only about three months, which leads us to believe they've gotten some outside help.”

“Definitely. Chief, wasn't there a rumor going around a year or so ago that KAOS was planning to somehow conduct nuclear research somewhere?”

“Yes Kate, and that 'somewhere' is Tropico. Like I said, the island was mainly a farming community. The people were as free as birds; the old ruler, Juan MannaCisto, didn't have any set laws that we can see. While the island wasn't exactly thriving, it was doing all right for itself. They managed to scrape together a few hundred dollars every month or so to finance their medical centers and churches. That was all the people wanted. But Muchandez, who didn't even live in Tropico, came out of nowhere and lead a 'revolution' to throw MannaCisto out!”

“But Chief, if the people didn't want a new ruler, then why did they follow Muchandez?” 47 asked.

“That's the thing, they didn't. As far as we've been able to tell, the whole thing was a set up.”

“A set up by KAOS!” Kate said darkly. “They faked a revolution so they could have their own nuclear playground!”

“And that means that Muchandez works for KAOS!”

“That's right. That also means that the most deadly nuclear weapons on the face of the earth are probably right there on Tropico somewhere!” Benjamin handed 47 and Kate their plane tickets. “Your flight leaves in an hour. I'm going to send a more experienced agent along with you.He'll meet you at the airport. I want you to go and secure those missiles, disarm them if you have to. Call me and report the second you find out anything.”

“Right Chief!” Kate and 47 said in unison. They both tried to walk out the door at the same time, and got stuck. They both stepped back. 47 sneered and walked out before Kate.



2.

Maxwell Smart was still asleep when he heard his phone ring. He jumped a little; how did anyone know he was here? He got up and bounded over to the phone, catching it on it's fifth ring. “Hello?”

“Hello 86, this is the Chief!” Benjamin said, happy to have caught Max.

Max shook his head. “This isn't the Chief. It's Benjamin,” he said coldly. Benjamin bit his lip but refrained from saying anything cutting.

“Look, I just sent 47 and 53 your way. You'll need to pick them up at the airport in about five hours,” Benjamin told Max.

Max laid back down on his bed and relaxed. “Benjamin, did I just hear you correctly? Kate Bloom and Agent 47? Isn't that like the worst possible duo you could have sent to me?”

“What do you mean, Max?”

“Kate is a wonderful agent, but 47 is so strange. How can you think they'll work well together?” he said, taking a sip of coffee.

“They'll have to. They're partners now.”

Max spit a mouthful of coffee across the room. “They're partners?!” he cried. “You've got to be kidding!”

“No, I'm not.”

Max began to pace the room. “Benjamin, have you read ever really talked to either one of them? They're as different as night and day!”

“So are you and your partner. And look how well you've done.”

“Look, that's not what this is about. Plus it's completely different.”

Benjamin rolled his eyes. “Right, Max. Just go pick them up when their plane arrives.”

Max took a last swig of coffee and threw the cup in the waste basket. “Right. I'm leaving as we speak.”

“You…you are? But they don't get in for five hours!”

Now it was Max's turn to roll his eyes. “There is no airport on Tropico. You have to go to the next island over, and it takes forever to get a seat on the ferry. Didn't you know that?”

Benjamin shook his head, feeling rather stupid. “No, I didn't.”

“Well, next time try a little harder. This isn't the CIA, you know.” Max hung up on Benjamin and left his room. The heat was stifling, as there was no air conditioning on Tropico. Actually, he'd been surprised that there was electricity on Tropico. He wiped his brow for what seemed like the three thousandth time that day and headed out into the lobby. The ferryboat was almost always full. You had to wait in line for hours to get a seat.

Max walked over to the docks and sat in line, enjoying the breeze that was coming off the ocean. There was a sign in front of him saying (in Spanish) “Three hours' wait from this point.”

3.

Kate nodded her head along with the music blasting forth from her Walkman. Since she was on a plane headed for a small island in the Caribbean, she had settled on some Jimmy Buffett. It played smoothly on her headphones, a perfect background music for her mood. She glanced out the window - looked like they were passing over the Gulf of Mexico right now. The pale blue water shimmered in the summer sun, a beautiful sight to the beholder. How she loved the tropics. She had grown up in Florida right on the coast. She missed it dearly now and then, especially during the harsh Washington winters, and to be going somewhere warm again felt like she was going home.

Kate had been rushed in her packing. She had thrown several pairs of shorts and t-shirts in her suitcase, but now she realized she'd forgotten her underwear. “Dammit,” she swore softly. Oh well. There was bound to be underwear somewhere on Tropico. Kate laughed softly; she could see the look on Max's face when she told him she had to go underwear shopping. Ahh Max, Kate thought. It had been a while since they had seen each other. She had rushed to the hospital when he'd had his accident, but they of course hadn't talked. He was still unconscious then. It had really scared her. Max was not only her role model and mentor, she felt he was her friend. She really looked up to him.

She looked to her left. 47 sat there, reading a book. She sighed. What was with him, anyway? It's like she offended him with her very presence. Oh well. There's a bit of good in everyone, she would just have to find it. He was such a strange little guy! She wanted to talk to him, know more about him, but didn't want to be insulted again. That had a way of getting old fast.

A crash from the back signified that dinner would be ready soon. Kate took off her headphones and yawned. 47 looked up from his reading.

“How ya doing, 47?” Kate asked cheerfully.

47 shrugged. “As well as I was doing the last time you asked me.” He turned back to his reading. Kate watched as the stewardess made her way stealthily over to 47 and Kate.

“What would you like, ma'am? Beef of chicken?” she asked.

“Chicken, please,” Kate said, drooling at the thought of any food, even airline food. The stewardess handed her a lukewarm box and some plastic silverware.

“And to drink?”

“A beer, please.”

47 looked appalled. “Beer?”

Kate shrugged. “Um…well, yeah. Why not?”

“Sort of the lowest common denominator, is it not?”

Kate looked away from 47 and back up at the stewardess. “Beer's fine.” She handed Kate a beer and asked 47 what he'd like.

“I would also like chicken. But do you have bottled water?” he asked. She nodded and gave him his meal. Kate was about to dig in when she noticed 47 taking his own plastic silverware from his coat pocket.

“Do you always carry your own silverware?” she teased. He shot her a look.

“Be quiet,” he muttered.

“I'm sorry. But really, why do you?” she asked.

“Does it really matter?” he said quietly. Kate looked him in the eyes, and saw he looked a tad hurt.

“No, of course not, but I was just wondering.”

“Well, don't,” he said patiently. He looked away and turned back to his meal. Kate tried to ignore his weird eating habits, i.e. cutting everything into little pieces, even the mashed potatoes. She was hungry and ate quickly; she noticed 47 took his time, chewing each bite carefully and slowly. He took a sip of water after every bite and washed his hands with a wet towel repeatedly after he was done.

47 noticed she was scrutinizing his every move and resented it. He sighed calmly. “Is there something you want to ask me, Kate?” he said evenly.

Kate was a bit taken aback; had he known she was watching him? “Um…well…”

“Go on.”

“I…I noticed your…your habits, and…”

“And you want to know why I have them, correct?”

“Only if you want to tell me,” she said, putting her hand affectionately on his. 47 jerked his hand away.

“Don't touch me!” he cried, much louder than he meant to. Everyone in the plane looked at him. “I…I don't like to be touched, Agent 53. Please keep that in mind,” he whispered to Kate.

Kate tried to calm down from his outburst. “I'm sorry 47, I didn't know-“

“I'm aware of that but you are now so please respect my wishes.”

She nodded. “Of course. Of course I will. Are…are you all right? I mean, do you have trouble flying?”

“Well, there are better ways to travel, but no, flying does not bother me,” 47 lied. Fact was, he hated heights but tried very hard to overcome it. He had to maintain a cool outward appearance. He sat back in his seat and took a big breath, wondering when they were going to land.

Kate decided if she was going to survive this trip with her strange new partner she had to separate herself from her work, as much as she hated to do that. She slipped back into her headphones and listened contently to “A Pirate Looks at 40” while chomping thoughtfully on her chicken and staring out the window. She could see all the small islands of the Florida Keys pass beneath them and she shivered in delight at the thought of palm trees and margaritas once again. Too bad Theo, her brother, couldn't have come along with her. They used to play all day in the gentle surf of the Gulf and sleep by it at night in their little tents their father had made them. Summer would always be something on the coast. Tourists in every direction and kids screaming all over the place. When she was younger, this didn't bother Kate. As she got older, she treasured her peace and quiet and she began to wish they lived on a deserted island instead of Key West.

“Flight attendants prepare for landing,” the pilot muttered into the speaker. Kate watched in amusement as the flight attendants ran hither and thither, gathering trash and empty coke cans, while all the while taking care of the kids who thought they were going to puke. Kate threw her trash away and glanced excitedly out the window. Right in front of them was a rather large island with highways and buildings. Her face fell and she turned to 47.

“I thought it would be a little more…deserted,” she said, somewhat sadly. 47 rolled his eyes.

“53, we have to land in Freeport and take a ferry to Tropico,” he explained as if talking to a child.

“Oh,” was all Kate could manage. She could feel the plane start it's decent. Kate folded her Walkman away when the pilot announced they were forbidden from here on out and that the time in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island was 4:56 pm.

A moment later they were on the ground. 47 and Kate let everyone on the plane go ahead of them before heading out themselves. Kate was busy adjusting her bookbag and didn't see Max stroll over to them.

“Good flight?” he boomed, scaring her to death. As soon as she saw who it was, she threw her arms around him.

“Max!” she cried excitedly. “I've missed you so much! How are you?”

“Hot,” Max panted, tugging at his collar. He looked oddly at 47, who was still dressed in a business suit. “You're gonna expire out there, you know.”

47 frowned. “Good grooming is more important than being comfortable. Besides, the hotel will have air conditioning.”

Max decided to let 47 find out for himself that there was no air conditioning on Tropico, and snickered at the thought of 47 wearing a black suit around everywhere. “Well, let's get going, you guys. With any luck we'll be on the ferry by eight o'clock or so. But we'll be on Tropico by midnight for sure. Come on, let's get going.”

All three walked briskly to the exit and then took a cab to the docks. Kate spent the entire car ride pointing out things to Max and teaching him island slang. 47, who was starting to realize he had maybe miscalculated on his clothes, wiped his brow repeatedly and cursed at the tropical heat.

“You know, I think the thing I like most about being an agent is that you can wake up in one place of the world and go to sleep in another. I mean, I would have never dreamed I was going to the Bahamas when I woke up this morning!” Kate chirped as they made their way to the long line for the ferry.

“We won't be in the Bahamas for long,” 47 told her. “So enjoy it now. Tropico is like a third world country.”

“Actually, 47,” Kate began in an informational tone, “The Bahamas sports over 700 islands, but only 22 are inhabited. Therefore, most of the islands are like third world countries.”

Max knew better than to question Kate on something like the Caribbean. He nodded. “You're right, Kate. We're going to a small island smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Ever been there, 47?”

“The Caribbean Sea? No, I have not.”

“It's beautiful,” Max said dreamily. Kate sighed euphorically.

“You are so right, Max,” she replied softly. They found the end of the line and were dismayed at a sign that told them their wait would probably be around four hours. Kate slumped. “Max, is it ok if I wander around?” she asked, as if wanting permission. Max's father instinct took over.

“Yes, but stay close and be careful,” he said absent-mindedly. Kate nodded and wandered over to the docks. When she was a child she learned early on that the most interesting place to be was near the water. She bought a bottle of water to protect her from the heat and sat by a marina. She said contently and looked out over the clear blue water and took in the sweet air that permeated from the sea.

A middle aged man dressed in khaki shorts and a yellow t-shirt walked with purpose over to the water machine. He had been in the heat for about two hours with no water and knew he had to get some liquid in him soon if he wished to keep living. He sighed at the price of something as plentiful as water and dug deep in his pockets for some spare change. Water surrounded him and yet he had to pay a buck fifty for a few sips. He wanted to scream when he saw he was short a nickel.

“Sir? Do you need some money?” Kate called to him when she saw the man obviously upset at the price. He turned to look at her and smiled.

“Well ma'am, I'm not one for charity but I am a little short,” he said. Kate smiled back. “Could you spare a nickel?”

Kate dug in her purse and tossed a nickel at him. He caught it with one hand and a second later he was pouring cold water down his burning throat. He took a deep breath.

“I owe you one, kid. If I can ever do you a favor, let me know,” he told her, sitting down next to her on the bench. Kate, who was happy to have some company, looked him over.

He looked American, although there weren't many in this part of the world. He had a deep tan all over and wore a baseball hat and sunglasses. He was well built and looked strong, although he wasn't particularly muscular. “What's your name?” Kate asked.

He smiled. “I'm Jimmy. Jimmy McFadden. How `bout you?”

“Kate Bloom. I'm from Washington.”

“Washington, really! What are you doing here?”

“Business,” Kate said simply. Often times a nice person on the outside was an enemy spy on the inside. But the more she looked at him she knew it wasn't true. “Where are you from?”

He shrugged. “All over, I guess. I don't really have a home ground.”

“Really? Why not?”

“See that?” He pointed to a white and wood sailboat docked at the pier. “That's my home. Just so happens it tends to move around a lot.”

Kate grinned. “Wow, you live on your sailboat?”

“Yep. Have for a long, long time.” He took another swig of his water and tugged at his ball cap. “Just got in this morning from Cozumel.”

“Cozumel, Mexico?”

“The one and only!”

“Why'd you go there?”

He shook his head and laughed. “Just for kicks, kid. I just go wherever I want.”

Kate settled in. “Tell me, Jimmy. Tell me everything about yourself!” Kate said, feeling the warm and caring side of her taking over.

Jimmy looked a little startled, but he had learned to just go with the flow. It brought you fortune more times that destroyed it.
“Well, ok. I was born in Georgia. My folks died in a car wreck when I was 7. I went to live with my uncle Alex at his home on Marco Island. He was the greatest guy I've ever known. I loved him very much and when he died when I was in college my world exploded. I just packed up and left. I wandered the world for a while. First stop was Paris. The only way I could survive was by being a pickpocket. Wasn't real proud of that, but I had to eat. To this day I don't know why I went to Paris. I didn't know the language and I found more trouble than I should have. To make a long story short the cops were after me so I mugged a tourist and took his plane tickets. I stepped off the plane and found myself in Spain. I was in the same predicament as I had been before-no money, no nothing. I stayed there about a year but wound up in trouble again and fled to Mexico. Guess I had the most fun there. The people are nice and willing to help, but I was so set in my criminal ways I didn't change. Anyway, to make a long story short I pickpocketed the wrong fella one day and was chased onto a barge ship headed for the Caribbean. I landed here, on Grand Bahama Island. I decided I'd been given a final change and I shouldn't mess it up. I made friends quickly and opened a marina on the Island. I was finally living right. I had a home, I had a little money and I was very happy. My life finally felt normal again. Then I fell in love with a good friend of mine. I made the mistake of telling her and she didn't want anything to do with me after that. Things just fell apart after that, so I bought a sailboat and set sail. That's what I've been doing ever since.”

Kate sat in shock for a moment. When she finally got her voice back, she croaked, “Really?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I'm not a bad man. I never hurt anyone. I've just been a victim of circumstances,” he said, smiling warmly. Kate could see kindness and intelligence in his deep brown eyes. She smiled back.

“Well Jimmy, I hope you've found happiness.”

“I have. I know I can't do this forever but for now it's just an adventure.”

“Jimmy, can I call in that favor?”

“Sure. Shoot.”

“Could you take me and my…business partners to Tropico?” she asked hopefully. Jimmy scratched his head.

“I hear some no good stuff is going on on Tropico. It ain't a tourist attraction, kid.”

“I know, but that's why I'm here,” Kate said, trying not to reveal too much information. Jimmy looked at her strangely but nodded slowly.

“Sure thing, Kate. I'd love to. I'll go rev her up, and you go get your friends.”

Kate jogged over to the line and bounced in front of Max and 47, who looked about ready to faint. Without a word, she handed him her water. He took it gratefully as Kate told them her plan. “Hey, I just met this guy who can give us a ride to Tropico!”

“Kate, don't be silly! You couldn't have gotten to know someone that well that fast,” Max said tiredly. “Besides, what if he's an enemy agent?”

Kate laughed at the thought. “I highly doubt that, Max. He's just a sailor.”

“Even worse,” Max muttered.

Kate sighed. “No, not that kind of sailor. He's…he's just…just a wanderer…” she sputtered. Max and 47 both gave her a look, one of the “yeah, right” variety. She sighed. “Look, would you rather stand here in the midday heat of the Caribbean for four hours, or trust me and get on a boat be and there in a half hour?”

47 nodded dizzily. “She has a point, Max,” he said weakly. Max frowned.

“Well, all right. But only because we're armed.”

Kate cheered and led them to the end of the dock where Jimmy's forty foot sailboat was tied up. He waved and smiled.

“Hi there! I'm Jimmy,” he said, shaking 47 and Max's hand. Jimmy looked at 47 disapprovingly. “Son, you're going to die of the heat if you don't get into some real clothes.”

“'Real' clothes? These, sir, are Armani slacks and-“

“Bud, they could have been made on Mars for all I care. I'm tellin' ya, if you don't change into something more appropriate you're gonna have a real problem. I don't care how much water you drink,” Jimmy said, his voice changing to sound more authoritative. 47, who was not used to be spoken to that way, looked taken aback. “Now come on. I got some shorts and t-shirts in my cabin. We look to be about the same size.”

“No, thank you sir.”

“Kid, I ain't haulin' your unconsciousness ass to the Freeport Hospital just because you wanted to look important. You're a swab. I'm the captain. You do what the captain says or you walk the plank. Got it?”

Oh God, 47 thought, he's a pirate. He's a goddamn pirate and I have to sail on the ocean with him. “Well…ok, but I'm changing back into my clothes as soon as we get to Tropico.”

Jimmy sighed, exasperated. “Well, it's a start,” he said to Kate. She smiled.

“He's a little strange, Jimmy. Go easy on him,” she whispered. He nodded.

47 and Jimmy disappeared into the cabin. A moment later 47 emerged looking like a normal person in khaki shorts and white t-shirt.

Kate saw for the first time he didn't look so foreboding without an expensive suit on.

“All right! Let's cast off!” Jimmy cried. Kate squealed in delight at the use of the ocean slang she had grown up with. You don't realize how much you miss it until it's not there.

The boat roared to life and glided out of the harbor and into the open sea. Max looked worriedly at Jimmy.

“You do know the way, right?”

Jimmy shrugged. “I know the approximate location. I have some guns and stuff if we land on the wrong island and meet up with the revolutionaries. Oh man, I did that about a month ago! Whoo! Was my face red!” Jimmy laughed. Max's eyes got wide.

“Revolutionaries?”

“Yeah. They hang out on these obscure Caribbean islands. Kill anyone who steps foot on their island. Rather bloodthirsty, I think, but they do love their gold,” Jimmy said non-chalantly. 47 looked over the edge of the boat and tried to decide if it was worth it to jump. Kate laughed loudly and elbowed Jimmy.

“Gee Jimmy, we're from Washington! Don't you think you're exaggerating a little bit?” she shouted, winking at Jimmy. Jimmy nodded shortly, understanding her statement.

“Oh, sure! Revolutionaries are only on the southernmost islands!” he lied. “We're in the northern.”

Max and 47 sighed in relief. Max sat down on the bow and watched the waves go flying by. 47, who had to admit he was feeling better in lighter clothing, stretched and sat down next to him.

Kate screamed and pointed to the back of the boat. Max and 47 jumped up and pointed their guns to where Kate was motioning.

“What?!” 47 cried frantically. “Revolutionaries?!”

“No, dolphins!” Kate cooed, watching the family of dolphins play in the boat's wake. Max and 47 put their guns away and sighed again. Jimmy, on the other hand, was the one who was tense now.

“Why do you have guns?” he said innocently. They all realized their mistake and all started talking at once, trying to explain themselves.

“Uh, we're big game hunters, and-“

“Well, see, I never leave home without it-“

“They're waterguns!”

Jimmy held his hands up and they stopped talking. He took a deep breath. “Now, tell me the truth. One of you.” They all stared at him. “Let me guess. You're hijacking me.”

“No, Jimmy, of course not! We're secret agents!” Kate blurted before she could stop herself. She covered her mouth quickly. “Oops…”

Max let out a frustrated moan. “Way to blow our cover, Kate.”

“You guys are secret agents?” Jimmy said, looking at each of them. “What, like James Bond or something?”

Max, being the oldest and most experienced, stepped forward to explain. “Yes. We're from a top secret governmental agency called Control. We're here investigating possible nuclear activity on Tropico by Kaos, our nemesis.”

Jimmy, who was completely bewildered by the point, could only stare at them. He looked far off into the ocean, like he always did when he was thinking hard about something. “Why do I always get the weird ones…” he muttered to himself.

Kate took Jimmy's arm. “Jimmy, we're not lying. Like you said, Tropico isn't a tourist attraction! It's a dangerous place!”

“Yes, and the new nuclear capital of the world,” 47 jumped in. “We have to stop them before they start…testing the bombs,” he said carefully. Jimmy's eyes widened.

“But that would destroy the Caribbean! Maybe even the world!”

“Exactly.”

Jimmy thought hard then slammed the boat into fourth gear, making it lurch forward sharply. “Then I'm going with you.”

“What? I'm sorry, you can't do that!” Max said, holding onto the railing for dear life.

Jimmy's eyes never left the ocean as he spoke. “I appreciate that you have to keep your identity a secret. Believe me, I'll do that for you. But when my home is in danger my warrior spirit shows itself. You won't last five minutes on a dangerous island like Tropico. You may know all about bombs, but you don't know about poisonous plants and wild animals. You don't speak Spanish. You don't know the way these people do business. You don't know how to break into a major security building using only a cocoanut and a palm leaf. I know all this. I can help you.”

“We don't want your help!” 47 screamed.

Maybe he's right!” Kate said to Max and 47. “He's lived here a lot longer than us. He could be our guide.”

Max shook his head. “I'm sorry Kate, we can't risk it.”

Everyone was silent for a moment.

“Did you know the Pirates of the Caribbean still exist?” Jimmy said, stating it more than asking it. Everyone looked at each other.

“Maybe Jimmy should help us,” 47 said nervously. “Maybe he could be our guide.”

“Good idea, 47,” Kate said, smiling. They sped to Tropico and docked in the back. They watched intently as men lugged huge objects wrapped in tarps off a nearby ship.

“The bombs,” Kate said dangerously.

“Jimmy,” Max whispered, moving closer to him. “Can't you park the boat on the other side of the island?”

“You'll be glad she's hidden if the time comes where we have to make an escape,” Jimmy told him. Max had never thought of that and shrugged.

“Ok. Let's get back to the hotel. We can catch up on everything there,” Max said to Kate and 47. He looked up at Jimmy. “Sorry, Jimmy. I'm afraid you can't come.”

Jimmy smiled. “That's ok. I understand. I'll have a look see around the island here.”

They left Jimmy and headed for the hotel. 47, who was beginning to enjoy the loose cool clothes, was almost relieved when he discovered there was no air conditioning in the hotel. They all went up to Max's room and locked the door.

Max pulled the table to the center of the room and unfolded a map on the table. He pointed to a green dot. “That's us. Now, the island itself is about a mile and a half long and a half mile wide. As far as we can figure, with all of the bases nearby, Kaos can have around six or seven hundred bombs here at a time. None have been tested yet, but I've gotten word that they plan to within the week.”

“Right. So what's the plan?” 47 said. Max sighed.

“I don't know. I don't have one. We're only three people and we have to disarm seven hundred bombs without anyone noticing.”

“That's ridiculous. They're bound to notice.”

“I know,” Max said glumly. He sighed. “There has to be some way to shut them all off at once. I mean, they have to be connected some way. It would just take too long otherwise.”

“Not necessarily, Max,” 47 replied. “They've got all the time in the world. The island is so small there's no where to run to if you're an enemy. They would notice anyone tampering with the bombs. Face it, we've got all the odds against us.”

“That's never stopped us before!” Kate said bravely. “Look Max, this doesn't make sense. Six or seven hundred bombs? No way. They have one.”

“What are you talking about? Of course they have seven hundred bombs!”

“Max, listen to me,” Kate said feverishly, getting excited. “Kaos hasn't made a threat to the world, have they? I mean, they're not holding a ransom or anything. Therefore, they wanted to keep this a secret. Plus, they're still letting people on the island so that's how I know they want this to be a secret so bad. Now think about it. If they had seven hundred bombs, the first bomb would destroy all the rest, taking the world with them. No. This is not what Kaos wants. They want to test them, plain and simple, and then hold the world for ransom. See? We got here before the real problem occurred! They're just testing them. That's why they only have one. It will destroy this island and everyone on it when it goes off. Then they'll take another island and do it again until it's perfected!” Kate's mind was humming now.

Max sighed. “Kate, you're probably right about the bombs but there's no way we can get in to see them unless we're planning to go all the way.”

Kate sat back in her seat, her eyes on fire with concentration. A strand of hair fell in her face but she didn't notice.

47 couldn't concentrate. He didn't know if it was the heat or the excitement, but he couldn't keep his eyes off Kate. He hadn't realized how smart she was until today. She could see right through a scheme and to the truth. The truth. It had been a long time since he'd faced the truth about anything in his life. His mind began to stray from the task at hand and back to more unpleasant things.

He was seven when his mother had married Harrison. His real father, who was a pilot, had gone down somewhere over the Pacific and never been recovered. 47 took this the hardest out of anyone in his family and when his mother remarried only three months later he'd never been so confused in all his life. They moved from the comfortable home near the woods to a larger house near the highway. Harrison worked at the steel mill and liked to drink a lot. 47 closed his eyes and tried to push away the thought he knew was coming.

His mother had cheated on his father.

That hurt enough, but she was still doing it to Harrison. Harrison, although he had to have known, instead took it out on his stepson in the way of verbal abuse. 47 learned at an early age that sometimes verbal abuse can hurt more than physical abuse. His mother, who by that time was tired of her new husband, was out every night. 47 knew where she was and what she was doing but tried not to think about it. He didn't want to.

All this stress eventually had to vent out in some way. 47, not being a violent child, vented it through behavioral disorders. By the time he was ten he had developed a bad case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and by the time he was in his teens he was halfway schizophrenic. He often awoke from nightmares and was convinced for days that they had actually happened. Medication and time away from the abuse wore off some of these problems, but every once in a while they would eat away at him.

He opened his eyes again and focused on Kate, who still seemed to be lost in thought. He was sorry now he had been so sharp to her but that was the only way he knew how to be. What he really wanted to do was to take her on a long walk and tell her everything about himself. He shook himself out of his daze, knowing he'd mess everything up before they even got out the door.

Kate, who was far away from thinking about 47's problems, was mentally trying to get into that building and disarm the bomb, but kept getting killed every time.

Max, on the other hand, was staring up at the ceiling and wondering when they were going to go to dinner.  


4.


Jimmy slid into the nearest bar and ordered a tall, cold pina colada. He sipped it gratefully and let the freezing cocoanut milk slide down his throat. The bartender, who was busy washing glasses, noticed he wasn't from around these parts.

“Hey sailor. Where you from?” she asked. Jimmy looked up.

“Me? Nowhere.”

“Oh, I gotcha. The silent type,” the bartender said, smiling. “How about this, then. What are you doing here on Tropico?”

Jimmy looked hard at her. “Hey, how come you speak English? You look American, what are you doing on Tropico?”

She shrugged. “What's it look like? A little job to keep me off the streets.”

Jimmy leaned over to her. “Ya hearin' anything about bombs?”

She laughed. “You kiddin'? That's all I hear about around here.” She got a frightened look on her face. “Look, don't tell anyone I told you that. Pretend I didn't say it,” she whispered to him while visually scanning the bar.

“What do you know about them?” Jimmy whispered back.

She shook her head. “Why do you need to know?”

Jimmy smiled. “So many questions! Why not you answer mine first and then I'll answer yours.” She folded her arms.

“Fine. I know plenty. Now answer me.”

He shrugged. “Just might be able to help a few friends of mine, that's all.” He knew from years of experience that being vague saved your life more than once. If he let the secret fall into the wrong hands they could all be killed. However, if he got in contact with the right person it could mean the Caribbean's survival. The bartender, who looked to be a nervous kid of about 25, kept scanning the room.

“Your friends…are they good or bad?” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Why do you want to know?” Jimmy said calmly.

“If you are good I will help you. I'm being held prisoner because I know too much. I want out. That's the deal. I tell you what you need to know and you get me out of this hellhole.”

“What assurance do I have that you're for real?”

“My word. That's all I can give you,” she whispered. Jimmy, who suddenly wished he was drinking a harder liquor, looked thoughtfully into his glass.

“What's your story?” he asked without looking up. The bartender looked around the bar, then motioned for Jimmy to come with her to the back. He followed, watching for anyone following. His Swiss Army knife was in his pocket and he had his hand clasped around it.

The small room was furnished with a beat up couch and a bad painting of a nude woman. They sat down on the couch.

“I'm Kara Frontline. I'm from Alabama. I went to Grand Bahama for a vacation last month and took a day cruise to Tropico. I saw too much and they told me I couldn't leave. They stuck me behind a bar since they seem to think no one pays attention to the person who gets people drunk. I haven't seen an American since then, and that's why I was so curious about you.”

“Yeah, but I how do I know you're on my side? How do I know there aren't a dozen guys outside waiting to slit my throat? Believe me honey, I've been in situations like this before. Don't trust the one behind the bar. I learned that much.”

Kara looked about ready to cry. “Sir, you're my only hope! You have to believe me! Look!” She rolled her sleeve up and showed him the scars that were beginning to form. “That's from the rope they used. I have scars like that all over my body. Please, you have to get my out of here! I don't want to be in fear of my life anymore!”

“Then why are you willing to spill everything?”

“I'd rather die trying to be free than not trying at all.”

Jimmy weighed his options. He could trust this little waif in a bar or walk out now. He looked up into her eyes and decided. “All right, kid. What've you got?”

“Bombs. There are bombs here. But only one so far as I can tell.”

Jimmy laughed. “One? You gotta be kiddin'! I saw with my own eyes guys lugging numerous huge bombs out of a boat today.”

“Fake. It's to keep the people in line. The people aren't happy. See, Tropico is only a test site. If they have more than one bomb they'd blow the face of the earth off.”

“Where's the bomb hidden?”

“I don't know, exactly. But I've heard people mention the name `Falcon' a lot. I don't know if it's a person or the name of something else, but it means something. I've seen a lot of people-military people-hanging out near the airplane carriers. Maybe it's near there.”

“Airplanes? On Tropico? How in hell do they have enough runway room?”

“They don't.”

“How can we get in there undetected?”

“I don't know. I think the best you can do is to dress up as a military solider.”

“But we would have to have clearance.”

“So? Mug a guy and steal his ID.”

Thinking back to his criminal days, Jimmy smiled. “I could do that. Kid, you've been a good help. Still don't know if you're on my side or not, but thanks anyway. I gotta go.”

“Wait!” she cried, tugging on his shirt like a little kid. “Please, please, when the times comes, take me with you! Promise me!”

Jimmy helped her to her feet and grinned at her. “Ok, I'll remember. You can count on me.”

Kara smiled widely as Jimmy left. She walked out behind him and gasped when she saw Carlos, her boss, stop Jimmy. She ran up to the two of them. “I can explain!” she stuttered.

“Yes, please!” Carlos said, infuriated and with a heavy accent. “Why Kara, were you in the back room with this man? Were you telling him…things?” he glared evilly at her. Kara nearly fainted.

Jimmy smiled easily. “It's not like that at all, big guy. We were…you know,” he said suggestively, adjusting himself. Carlos looked slightly taken aback but the anger faded.

“No men callers, Kara. If I catch you with this man or any other man around here while at work, you fired!” Carlos spun on his heel and headed into the back.

Kara sighed in relief. “Fast thinking, Jimmy.”

“The one time thinking about sex comes in handy and it didn't even happen,” Jimmy said, laughing. “I have to go meet my friends. I'll see you again soon, Kara.”

Kara watched Jimmy leave and wondered why she could never meet a man like that at home.


5.


“Okay, what if we go in at night, knock out all the guards, and disarm the bomb? That's not so hard!” Max suggested, his stomach still rumbling with hunger. Kate sighed uncharacteristically.

“No, Max, because A. The guards out number us by like, 500, and B. We have no idea where the bomb is!” She flopped down on the bed and stared at the ceiling, hoping it would help her come up with an answer. She glanced over at 47, who seemed to be lost in his own world. “47, you'd better be thinking about how to get to that bomb,” she said darkly. Kate did not handle stress well.

47, who had never heard Kate speak like that, glanced up at her and nodded. “I am,” he lied. His mind was really back with his father, the pilot. His father's name had been Jack. One day Jack took 47 up in the plane with him and showed him how to work it. 47 often thought that that had been the best day of his life.

“You'd better be. That goes for you too, Max.” She stood up and rubbed her head. “We've been at this for what, two hours? I need a break. You two stay here and try to brainstorm something. I'm gonna go get a drink.”

Kate left 47 and Max and wandered down to the lobby bar. In the back of her mind she wondered why Tropico even had a hotel if it was so small. She pushed it away and ordered a margarita. She didn't see Jimmy slide up next to her.

“Hey kid. There you are,” he said, taking a seat and scaring Kate. “I just talked to a chic in another bar. She knew something about the bombs.”

“Jimmy, you can't trust people here. I don't mean to insult them but they probably all work for Kaos,” she said, keeping her voice low.

“Let's move to a table.” They did and Jimmy continued.

“She was an American. Seems she's been being held here against her will.”

“But why?”

“She knows too much. I'm sure they'll kill her soon but she told me a little about the bombs. Or should I say bomb. There's only one.”

“I knew it!”

“Yep. The other ones around here are just to scare the people.”

“Jimmy, why is there a hotel on Tropico if no one's here?”

Jimmy smiled. “Hell, you didn't know? About ten years back they tried to make this place a tourist attraction. Had a health spa, a casino and a hotel. Long story short, didn't work out and this is the only place left standing. I'm sure the only reason it's still being run is for meetings and such from the higher ups.”

“What else did she say?”

“Said the bomb is being held in an old airplane shed and we can't get in without clearance. She said the best way to get in would to be to mug someone with ID and go to it from there. You do know how to disarm it?”

“Yeah, I'm pretty sure. It's the black wire. Or is it the red one? Hm…I should probably look that up before I try it. Anyway, we've had a hell of a time trying to come up with an entrance plan simply because we didn't know where it was being held. You're sure it's at that airplane hangar?”

He shrugged. “That's what I was told. Whether or not it's true remains to be seen.”

“Well, at least it's something,” Kate said, taking a huge gulp of her margarita and cringing. Margaritas defiantly weren't the type of drink you chugged. “Come on, let's go tell the guys.”

Jimmy followed Kate up to the room and they let themselves in. 47 was asleep and Max was devouring a box of Tic Tacs. Kate sighed. “I suppose you didn't come up with anything?”

“I never work on an empty stomach, Kate,” Max said honestly. Kate rolled her eyes and sat down.

“Jimmy talked to someone and found out the bomb is being hidden in an airplane hangar.”

“Wait a minute!” Max cried, standing up. “We can't trust him, let alone someone he supposedly talked to!”

“Max, it's more than you've done,” Kate pointed out. Max looked hurt. “I'm sorry Max, but it's true. If Jimmy was an enemy agent he would have killed us hours ago.”

“That's right, I would have!” Jimmy said, defending himself.

“Unless he's planning some murderous revenge to torture us after we find the bomb!”

“Maaaax! Let's suppose, for the moment, Jimmy is a good guy wanting to help us. Don't you think we should listen to him?”

“Well, sure---“

“Good. So, what I say we do is to mug someone with clearance into the airplane hangar and do it tonight!” she said seriously.

“Don't you think you should at least rest up first? I mean, you've had a lot of excitement today and you kind of want to be physically prepared for that type of thing,” Jimmy said, smiling. Kate melted in his gaze and found herself agreeing.

“Um…ok, but tomorrow night. It has to be tomorrow night,” she said, trying to stay business like. Jimmy nodded gently.

“It will be, kid. That bomb ain't goin' nowhere. Why don't you get some rest?”

Kate went over to the window and looked out at the cool, lush night. “Actually…nothing calms me down more than the sea,” she said, repeating a line that her mother often used to say. “I'm going to go for a walk, then I'll sleep.”

“I'll go with you,” Jimmy piped up. “I mean, in case any…enemy agents are lurking around.”

Kate, secretly grateful, smiled and took his arm. “Sounds good.”




6.


Nights in the Caribbean are truly something that have to be experienced before you can accurately describe them. The salty, thick air seems to engulf you and the cool breeze that whiffs through your hair every now and then makes you shiver in delight. The sun had just finished setting and twilight was beginning on Tropico. The worker's shifts were over and they were already at home, snug in their beds. At that moment, the island belonged to Jimmy and Kate.

The long stretch of beach was lined with driftwood and sand dollars. Small birds flitted in the sand, leaving tiny prints behind them that the waves washed clean seconds after they were made. All that could be heard were the rhythmic waves crashing against the shore and the lone cry of a seagull somewhere off in the distance. Kate walked slowly with her eyes closed, taking this all in and feeling much better.

Jimmy wanted to talk to Kate, but she looked much more content in silence. He smiled at this; finally, someone as quiet and compassionate as he. He was a gentle soul and felt more at home alone on the sea, although occasionally he longed for somewhere to truly call his own. The sea was his home for now, as it had been for many years. He knew the first thing to loving the ocean was to respect it; it was bigger and stronger than he, therefore he just stood back and watched. People had always been a mystery to him; why they fought over petty things like money and words had eluded him all of his life. When his parents died he did not feel much remorse as you would have thought. His parents, although generous, had always been more figure heads than parents. Plus, at age 7, he didn't understand death all that well and so he tried to put it out of his mind. Alex, his black sheep of an uncle who raised him, had meant more than the world to him. When he died, Jimmy was confused and angry. He tried to fill his mind with other things, and usually those `other things' meant trouble.

He shook his head. It was too beautiful an evening to waste pondering `what ifs'. He was at the point of his life where he was finally starting to be happy with what he did. He knew he couldn't do it forever and he didn't try to kid himself about it. All in all, the sea was the only place for a stray cat like him.

“Jimmy?” The voice seemed to come out of nowhere.

“Huh? Yeah?” Jimmy stammered, being torn away from his thoughts.

“I'm really glad we met,” Kate said truthfully. Inwardly Jimmy smiled. He loved openly honest people. They were so refreshing from the hide and seek feelings of most people.

“I'm glad we met too,” Jimmy answered, heartfelt. “You're a real special kid, Kate.”

“You're different, you know? I mean, most people wouldn't be as open as you are. They wouldn't have had the guts to keep going, like you did.”

“I wasn't about to give up.”

“See? And you're still not. And yet through it all, you're just…”

“I'm just what?”

“You're just a sweet, gentle guy,” Kate said, surprised at herself. Jimmy, despite his age, blushed noticeably.

“Thank you,” he said shyly. Kate sighed happily and tightened her grip around his arm.

“I wish this night would never end,” she breathed.

“Me neither,” Jimmy said quietly, gazing at Kate. He took hold of her hand tenderly and held it in his. “I don't think I've met anyone like you in a long, long time.”

Now it was Kate's turn to blush. “You're one of a kind, McFadden. I never and probably will never meet another one like you, so I gotta keep you close!” she said playfully.

“That doesn't sound so bad,” Jimmy said before he could think about it. Kate, although a little astonished, appreciated his honesty. Jimmy looked over to her to see if she had taken that all right. She smiled up at him.

Before she knew what she was doing, Kate began to kiss Jimmy softly on the lips. Jimmy, unable to resist, kissed back. She looked up into his brown eyes and saw her soul in them. “Jimmy…”

“Kid, we can't.”
“Why not?”

“'Cause I'm like, twenty years your senior, that's why!”

“Closer to fifteen.”

“Still.”

“Love knows no age.”

“'Love'?!”

“You know what I mean,” Kate said, confused by her emotions. Jimmy looked back down at her and wished suddenly he belonged to her. Instead, he sighed and pulled away.

“Look, don't do this. You don't want me in your life.”

“Yes, I do! Jimmy, can't you see? You and I are just alike! Age has nothing to do with it!”

“I'm not worried about age. I stopped caring about what other people thought a long time ago.” He turned to her. “I'd be lying if I said I didn't…care deeply for you.”

“Do you believe a person can fall in love in one day? Their whole life, their whole outlook on life, change completely in one day?” Kate asked breathlessly.

“Yes,” Jimmy answered truthfully. “It's happened before, to me, many times.” He looked into her eyes. “And I think it just happened again.”

They stood gazing at one another for a few seconds. Suddenly, they heard someone cry, “53 - I mean, Kate! Get in here!” It was 47, calling from the balcony. Jimmy was relieved while Kate was annoyed.

“He's right, much as I hate to admit it,” Kate said, smiling. “I gotta go catch some z's. See you in the morning?”

“You betcha,” Jimmy said. Kate squeezed his hand, shot him a smile, and sauntered off towards the hotel. As soon as she was out of sight, Jimmy fainted on the beach. He came to a moment later and didn't move. The stars were awe inspiring tonight.

Romance had never gone well for Jimmy. Sure, he wanted to settle down someday, but he had never found a lady he believed he would be able to spend that much time with without leaving. Until now, a small voice deep inside of him said. Jimmy ignored it and tried to think of one successful relationship he'd had. Sure, there had been a lot of one night stands and a few one or two week flings, but nothing serious enough to make him want to leave his home on the sea. But Kate…Kate was different. She was intelligent. She was funny, she was a character. Jimmy smiled at the thought of him, a vagabond and a wanderer, falling in love in less than one day. He figured since it had never happened before then, then it must be real love. He'd certainly never felt this way before. He stood up and wiped the sand off him. No use rushing into things, he thought. There's always time, and time is always longer than we think.
He walked slowly back towards his boat and enjoying the quiet. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a hand shot around and clamped over his mouth. Out of instinct, he started to fight.

“Don't fight it, Mr. McFadden. You only make us madder by doing so,” a raspy voice whispered into his ear. The strong man circled his other hand around Jimmy's arms, trapping him. Jimmy didn't care and kept struggling; only a quick, bloody blow to his head slowed him somewhat. “There, now that you've relaxed…” The man quickly tied Jimmy's hands behind him and stuffed a handkerchief in his mouth. “Let me introduce myself. Horatio Muchandez, el presidente of Tropico. I have watched you and your friends since you got off your ship this afternoon. By the way…” Muchandez leaned down next to Jimmy, “She will make a fine addition to my fleet of decoy crafts!”

Despite his restraints, Jimmy screamed and fought furiously against the ropes, thinking of his boat in the grips of this monster. A `decoy craft' was a term all too familiar to Jimmy. The boat was used to transport something to the middle of the ocean where the cargo would change hands then sink the ship. The thought of his boat - his home - being used for such a reckless cause made him furious. He kept fighting until another blow quieted him down. Blood blurred his vision by this time and he knew he would pass out soon.

“We are not done with our little island yet and are not about to let some US spy organization ruin it now! Don't worry, your friends will live; it would serve us well to look good to Control.” Jimmy gave him a puzzling glance and Muchandez continued. “You see, you will be the one who looked like you were in on this whole thing. Sort of a double agent type thing. That way we can get rid of you and fool the organization into thinking nothing is wrong with what we are doing. Oh sure, they think it's Kaos, and of course it is, but will we let them know that? Of course not! They will think we are simply a small nation who got into some trouble from a spying, no good, double crossing sea fuck like you,” he hissed. At the thought of what they were going to do, Jimmy screamed and tried to fight again, but the fight was gone. He was too weak. Muchandez laughed cruelly. “Say goodnight, Mr. McFadden!” He placed another handkerchief over Jimmy's mouth, and the chloroform did it's work. Jimmy passed out seconds later.


7.


Kate awoke to the sound of coffee perking in the hotel room. 47, who had been up since dawn, was humming and waiting anxiously for his morning's first cup.

“Morning, 47,” Kate said sleepily, rolling over in her bed. 47 tsked and looked disapprovingly at his watch.

“It's past noon, 53. I was beginning to think you were dead.”

“If I was dead, my ghost would have been haunting you by now,” Kate said weakly but smiling. 47 said nothing but frowned at her. He poured himself a cup of coffee and looked out the window.

“The sunrise was beautiful, 53. You really should have seen it.”

“I've seen my share of sunrises, 47,” Kate said, finally rising out of bed. She yawned and stretched, and suddenly a thought came to her. “47, what's your real name?”

“It's of no concern to you,” 47 said quickly, never taking his gaze from the window. Kate was used to this snippy behavior by this time and ignored it. She poured herself a cup of coffee and slipped into the bathroom.

“When are we going to start moving, 47?”

“Not for hours yet.”

“Good. I'm going to take a bath. If Jimmy comes tell him I'll be right out!”

“Jimmy…” 47 muttered with disdain. “Quite a name for a grown man, a sailor at that. Jimmy…” He continued to gaze out the window and silently had to admit Kate was right about the beauty of the Caribbean. He had taken a walk on the beach before the sun came up and was pleasantly surprised at the feeling he had - happiness.  He hadn't felt that in a while. Somehow it felt good to come back to a hotel room where a beautiful, intelligent woman slept. He had watched Kate sleep for a while and wondered if ever he could tell her the things that bothered him so. That made him have nightmares and that kept him from doing certain things in this life. He shook his head, trying to come out of deep thought. This was certainly neither the time nor the place to be thinking about other than his mission.

After her bath, Kate realized she was starved. She wrapped a bathrobe around her and put a towel up in her hair and poked her head out into the room. 47 was still staring out the window. She wondered what he was thinking about.

“47!” Kate said happily. 47 jumped and turned around, only to immediately avert his gaze.

“53, I am your partner, not your husband. Put some clothes on and we'll talk,” he said, slightly embarrassed.

“Oh, come on. This bathrobe is more than I've had on the whole time we've been here,” Kate said. Although she didn't see anything wrong in the beauty of the body she was amused when people like 47 seemed so nervous by it. Reluctantly 47 turned and tried to keep his stare above her collarbone. “I was wondering if you wanted to take me to lunch? Since Jimmy didn't show up.”

“Lunch? Uh, sure,” 47 answered, his voice weaker than usual at the thought of he and Kate alone. He had already had lunch but he wasn't about to admit that. Kate smiled widely.

“Good! I'll get dressed.” She giggled. “God, you in that suit! Why do you think today will be any cooler than yesterday?” She giggled again and disappeared into the bathroom. 47 looked down at his attire and sniffed.

“Some of us prefer to look good,” he muttered and turned back to the window.

Kate was ready a moment later and they proceeded to The Castaway, a local restaurant Kate had thought sounded good. They sat down at their table and looked through the menu.

“47, where's Max?” Kate asked. 47 shrugged.

“I don't know. Could be anywhere, I guess,” he answered. Kate started to look worried. “Look, wherever he is, I'm sure he's fine. He is Maxwell Smart, after all.”

“Yeah…” Kate said. “It's not that. I just haven't seen him hardly at all this whole trip. I miss him.”

“Hey, what is it with you and 86, anyway?”

“What do you mean?”

“You guys are pretty close. You're not…you know…”

Kate looked insulted. “47, of course not! I can't believe you would even think that! Max is my mentor, he's my hero. Period.”

47 decided not to go any farther. “So what were you and Jimmy talking about last night?”

Kate smirked. “What is it with you, 47? You are one nosy mother who won't tell anything about yourself!” she teased. 47 looked hurt and she sighed. “Sorry. Nothing. We didn't talk about anything.”

“Then why did I see you and him kissing?”

Kate slammed her fist down on the table. “Look 47, that's really none of your business! I mean, you won't even tell me your first name and you want to know something like that about me?!” She grabbed her purse and stood up. “That's it. I've tried to be friendly with you and I've tried to be nice. But you're obviously neither of those things so from now on we are partners and nothing else. The only time I will ever make you degrade yourself to the level of talking to me will be during work hours, and even then I'll try to keep it at a minimum! Good bye!”

47 watched Kate walk out with his mouth hanging open. She slammed the door behind her. Everybody in the place stared at 47, who sighed and put his face in his hands.

“Dammit…”


8.

Jimmy awoke to a horrible pounding in his head and his vision blurred. The facts of his capture came slowly, but he remembered the most important part-he had to get out of here and warn Kate, 47 and Max. He told his arms to move but they couldn't…he had had concussions before but couldn't ever remember one this bad. He just sat there in a lump, not knowing where he was or even if he was still alive.

“Get in there!” a voice boomed as a young girl was shoved through the door. She landed in a heap on the ground and began to cry. The door slammed shut behind her. Jimmy, who wanted to help but obviously couldn't, closed his eyes and thought of the ocean's heart like he always did when he was in a sticky situation. It helped him think, and, it helped him feel better. He realized his mouth wasn't bound anymore.

“Who're you?” he gasped through a bloody, swollen mouth. The girl looked up fearfully to meet his gaze. She screamed when she saw his condition. “Wha?” he rasped as loudly as he could, though his mouth couldn't close enough to pronounce `t'.

“Jimmy! It's me, Kara!” she said, hurrying over to him. “Remember? We met in the bar!”

Jimmy nodded, not having the strength to say anything. She pulled a towel out of her back pocket and began to sop up some of the blood. “Luckily we bartenders always have a towel in our pockets,” she said smiling. “Man, you're sure banged up! Got a gash over your eye the size of Montana. What'd they do to you anyway? Never mind, don't talk. We can figure it out later. See? I'm in here too, must mean I'm a good guy, right? Anyway, they found out I squealed. You and me, bud-are to be shot at dawn.”

Jimmy was expecting that and didn't have a reaction. Kara continued to address his wounds the best she could, then tied the towel around his head so he wouldn't bleed anymore. “There. That should keep you from dying.”

“What day is it?” Jimmy whispered.

“Tuesday.”

“Shit. Then I've been out all night. Kara, what's going on out there? Anything?”

“No, not that I could see. Jimmy, what are you in on?”

“Spies, kid. I ain't a spy but my pals are. I gave them a lift to the island yesterday and I've been tangled up in this shit ever since. I was mindin' my own business last night when someone hit me on the head and told me they were going to blame everything on me then kill me. Ever heard of Kaos, kid?”

“No.”

“Neither had I. Apparently some…some radical polictical group or something. I couldn't rather gather all of it but they're bad. They own this island. They put your new president into power so they could test nuclear bombs here. My spy friends are here to stop that, but it looks like that ain't gonna happen. Your president was one of the men who mugged me. He told me they would tell everyone I was the double agent and that Kaos wasn't around in these parts. You know different, too, which is why they are going to kill us both.”

Kara slumped down against the wall. “So what are we going to do?”

“I don't know about you, but I'm going to rest. One thing I've learned is to take care of myself. You don't gotta be an Einstein to tell I could use some rest. I ain't gonna die in this, no way. I ain't gonna die everybody thinking I'm a traitor and a coward. I'm going to rest now then when the time comes make my getaway.” Kara took his hand.

“Then I'm staying with you. A deal's a deal.”

Jimmy nodded and drifted off into his dreams. He was sailing again…



9.



Kate sat out on the balcony and watched the sun set over the sea. 47 had not come back yet and she was glad. The door opened and when Kate looked behind her she saw the smiling face of Max.

“Max!” she cried happily. “Man, am I glad to see you!”

He came and sat next to her. “Well, I think our best bet is a guy named Jose Gonzalez. I checked him out…he looks weak, physically, so it'll be easy to take him on. Also, he's a dead ringer for 47 so we'll be able to get in real easy. Now-“

“Please Max, let's not talk about the case now, ok?” Kate pleaded softly. Max was surprised but obliged.

“Anything bothering you, Kate?” he asked. She sighed.

“Everything seems to be wrong.”

“Tell me about it,” Max said, putting his arm around her shoulders. “What seems to be the problem?”

“This has been the longest two days of my life. Yesterday morning seems like years ago. When Benjamin said I was getting a partner, I was so excited! All I could think about was you and 99, how well you guys did together! I was ready to follow in your footsteps, like I always have been! I want to be a good agent above everything else in the world, Max! But 47…ugh…I hate to say this…he's an ass. You know I never call anyone names but he's different! He hates me! Everything I do is wrong, and he insults me about it. God. And then there's Jimmy. He's what, seventeen years older than me? Not that I care but I never thought I would love someone that old.” Kate stopped and realized she had just used the L word. Max looked equally as shocked.

“Kate, I don't think you love him.”

“Max, I think I do.”

“No, I've seen this happen before. A young kid gets enraptured by someone older than them and has lived more of life than them. You think you love him when what you really love is the image of him - a loner who lives on the sea, who doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks! That's what you love. I don't think you can tame someone like Jimmy into domestic life.”

“I didn't say I wanted to.”

“Then what's your relationship going to be like? 'Hey baby, I'll call you from the next port, let's get together sometime next year'? Kate, really. Is that what you want?”

“I just want…I want…him,” Kate said. “Max, you don't know him like I do.”

“Boy, have I heard that before.”

“You don't. You really don't.” She sighed. “Somehow the tropics always end up screwing up your life.”

“You know what I'd do? Just take my mind off Jimmy and put it back on the case. Just forget about him and forget about 47, too. He'll cool down.” He was saying all this but his heart was telling him otherwise.  He liked to think of himself as somewhat of a Romantic.

“For one, I don't want to forget about Jimmy! And another thing, 47 cool down? No, I don't think so.”

Max sighed and slid down further in the chair. “All right. You want to know what I think? I don't care about sounding like a responsible adult, I'm going to tell you the truth. Love finds a way, it always does. If you love this pirate and he loves you too then it will work out. It always does. Secondly, I know 47 is a pain in the butt, and he's not the easiest fella to work with, but he's had a troubled past. I know that doesn't excuse him from the way he treats you but maybe you can just ignore it.”

Kate turned to him. “Troubled past?”

“Abuse. You know.” Max coughed nervously. “Anyway, like I said, it's no excuse but I think the kid is wrestling with some issues right now so just let him cool down and keep your distance.”

“I didn't know…” Kate muttered.

“Look, don't feel sorry for him. There's no reason on earth why he has to be such a jerk to everyone.”

“I know.”

They were both silent a moment as the last of the sun sunk into the horizon. Kate sighed contentedly. “Max, I don't know how you do it, but you always make me feel better.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Thanks. Now let's go get those bad guys.”


10.



47 was no where to be found. He hadn't come back to the room and Kate had scoured the island looking for him. Max finally located him in the lobby bar, and he was roaring drunk.

“Fine time to have too much to drink,” Max muttered as he dragged the wasted 47 up the steps to the room. “Most important mission of all time and you decide to have one too many.” 47 said nothing but belched in response. “That's very unprofessional, 47.”

“Where did you find him?” Kate said when she came back to the room. 47 was still reeling in a chair on the corner and Max was busy brewing a strong cup of coffee.

“In the bar. He's drunk. Come on, we have to sober him up,” Max told Kate, who frowned at 47.

“Great. Just what I need,” she whispered to herself. They fed 47 the black coffee but it didn't seem to have much effect. “Max, it takes a while for it to work. But for now, let's stick his head in a cold shower. It's an old trick I learned from college!”

“Okay,” Max agreed, grabbing 47 by the shoulders and dragging him toward the bathroom.

“Hey, hey! No shoving!” 47 slurred. Kate swatted him on the shoulder.

“What the hell were you thinking? You knew  we had to move tonight! Couldn't you wait to celebrate until after we've won?” Kate said fiercely. 47 smiled serenely at her. She rolled her eyes and turned the shower onto cold. They both had a tough time keeping him under the shower, and fifteen minutes later he was finally starting to sound like his old self.

“Get me out of this thing! You're messing up my suit!” he cried. Max and Kate nodded to each other and pulled him out. 47 stood up, drenched to the bone and scowling. “You're lucky I'm Irish, you know. We come out of intoxication very easily,” he said matter of factly.

Kate gritted her teeth. “And you're lucky I don't have my gun with me. Now come on. We have to find this guy Gonzalez and knock him out. It's starting to get dark.”

47 toweled off the best he could and followed Max and Kate down the long staircase out into the open. They stood non chatlantly at the entrance of the hotel, gazing innocently at the military soldiers until Max became excited.

“That's him! Right there! The little shrimp!” he whispered to both of them. 47 looked insulted.

“Max, you said I had a striking resemblance to him! You mean to tell me you think I'm a shrimp?”

Max looked at him for a second and decided to say nothing. Instead, he turned to Kate. “Let's go.”

Kate ran up beside Jose Gonzalez and tapped him on the shoulder. “Excuse me, do you speak English?”

“Si, senorita.”

“Good. I was wondering if you could help me.” She stroked his arm. “I need a big, strong man to help me out with something. Could you come with me?” She looked at him suggestively. “It's in my bedroom,” she whispered into his ear. Jose blushed.

“Si, show where it is. I follow.”

Kate pranced up to the hotel room with Jose in tow, who was drooling the whole way. Max and 47 followed but were careful to stay far enough behind to be undetected. They stood out in the hallway while Kate worked her feminine magic.

“I have to admit to you, Jose…can I call you Jose?” Kate said, closing the door. Jose nodded vigorously. “I have to admit I didn't ask you up here to help me with anything.”

Jose smiled knowingly and moved into kiss her. “You can't stand my charm, seniorita. Kiss you, now I will?” he said with a heavy accent.

“Actually,” Kate heaved. “I wanted to show you this.” She socked him right in the jaw and sent him sprawling to the floor. Quickly and moving with expertise, she covered his mouth with a handkerchief doused in chloroform. Jose struggled for a moment, then went limp. Kate sighed in relief. “Okay guys, you can come in now!”

They worked quickly. All three quickly undressed Jose of his military garments, leaving him in only his undershirt and underwear. 47 went into the bathroom and came out a moment later. When they stood Jose up to 47, neither Max nor Kate could really see a difference. Lastly they pinned Jose's military badge onto 47.

“Remember,” Max said, looking over 47 one last time. “Speak in fragments of English. And with an accent. Say something that would sound like Jose,” he ordered.

Without hesitation, 47 answered, “My name is Jose Gonzalaz, military officer on the Republic of Tropico.” Max and Kate gaped at him.

“My God, 47, that was perfect!”

“Accents are my specialty…” 47 said wistfully. The two grabbed him and shoved him out into the hallway.

“Ok, now listen. Max and I are going to stuff the real Jose in the closet. He should come to in a couple of hours so we have to work quickly, got it?” Kate whispered. 47 nodded. “Good. You go to the airplane shed and locate the bomb. After that let Max and I in so we can do our work.” 47 nodded again and disappeared down the staircase. Kate helped Max put Jose into the closet. They locked it and Max put the key in his pocket.

47 strolled slowly to the airplane hangar. With his clearance, he didn't have any trouble getting in. The walls were enclosed in metal and no one seemed to be paying attention to him. 47 saw a door labeled `Falcon', and remembering that tidbit Jimmy had given them, walked into the room.


11.

“All right, little piggies! Let us go!” a gruff guard barked at Jimmy and Kara. Their hands and mouths were bound by another guard and were quickly shoved through the huge metal door. Jimmy could now see he was in an airplane hangar; he'd been in one many times before and knew what they looked and smelled like. He winked at Kara.

“Time for your formal introduction!” Muchandez boomed, coming through a door on the opposite side of the room. He snarled at Jimmy. “Well, Captain, let's go meet our public, shall we?” Jimmy glared at him but obliged to the rough shoving of the guards.


12.

47 had let Max and Kate in through the back of the hangar and they were now busy disarming the bomb. A nagging voice in the back of Kate's head told her this was all too easy and that there was something amiss. She ignored it and passed it off as being good preparation that had gotten them through. A door clanging open told her differently.

“Ahh, the agents of Control, I assume?” a male's deep voice rang out. Max, Kate and 47 looked up to see Horatio Muchandez, plus a swarm of guards, looking down on them from the floor above. Muchandez laughed. “No need to worry. I believe we have a bit of explaining to do.”

Max, who was more than a little surprised at their quick confession, brought himself up to his full height. “Yes,” he proclaimed loudly. “It seems you do!”

“Well, for the time being, let us be on neutral grounds, eh? Put your guns away, agents of Control. My guards will also put their guns away.” The guards on either side of Muchandez stocked their guns on the ground in plain sight of Max, Kate and 47. Grudgingly, the agents did the same with their weapons. Muchandez smiled. “Now, I know who you are. Agent 47, correct? Yes, you mugged one of my men. I am assuming he is in a closet somewhere, correct? Do not worry; we are not angry. Considering what we knew you thought we were up to it can be forgiven. You think, perhaps, we were in cahoots with Kaos, yes? No, no, my friends. You are all wrong. We are what we appear to be…a small Caribbean nation. True, we do have nuclear power, but isn't every nation entitled to that?”

Kate and 47 looked at Max, who sighed. “Yes, you're entitled to it. IF you have them inspected every now and then,” Max added confidently. Muchandez folded his arms in front of himself.

“Well, Agent 86. Would you care to do the honors?”

“What?”

“Inspect it. Go ahead.”

Max gulped and stole a glance at the bomb, then looked back at Muchandez. “It looks good.”

Muchandez smiled. “Good. I am glad you approve. Now, I will tell you this; the reason you were tipped off that we were `bad guys' was because it seems we have a disgruntled enemy agent in our midst. What you call a `Benedict Arnold', yes? What did he have to gain, you say? Why, revolution of course. We have revolutions around here as often as you Americans change your socks! Restoring order and keeping order is well, a high order. If we have one revolutionary in our midst then that can all change. He can declare he would be a better leader, and it would let to a coup de ta, in other words, an overthrow of the government by the military. You'd be surprised how often that happens. My friends, this man, who wanted to make you believe that us  - The Republic of Tropico - were involved with Kaos. Come now, don't you think that is a little strange?”

“I've thought it was a bit strange all along. I mean, if it was really Kaos, they would have blown this island sky high if we hadn't agreed to pay a large ransom!” 47 said truthfully. As much as she hated to admit it, Kate thought he was right.

“It seems you've been scammed, my friends. But, we have taken the liberty of catching those individuals who have caused you this disturbance. We caught them in a secret meeting room, planning the details of your demise! Seems that once you had disarmed our bomb and were returning home, they would kill you.”

“And who are these people?” Kate asked, steaming with rage with whoever had done this to them. Muchandez smiled cruelly.

“Agent 53, I believe you know Mr. Jimmy McFadden,” he said, presenting a bloody and half conscious Jimmy to the trio. There was a collective gasp, then the sounds of Kate's tears. “Do not cry, my little dear!” Muchandez said in a sickeningly sweet voice. “Why, it's not as though you were in love with this monster, right?” Kate didn't answer. Muchandez tsked. “Aww, how unfortunate! It is our policy on Tropico to kill threats to power, you know,” he said, raising a gun to Jimmy's head. “Bring out the other one!” he called behind him. Kara was pushed out into the open. “This is the other one. She will also die,” Muchandez said calmly, loading his gun.

Jimmy looked into Kate's gaze. “Kate, I didn't do anything! You know me! I didn't---“ he was cut off from a blow to the head that left his hold on reality scarce.

“Don't listen to him, my dear,” Muchandez said, still fiddling with his gun. Kate looked into Jimmy's eyes and saw what she always had; kindness and love.

“I didn't do anything…” Jimmy whispered weakly, though no one could hear him. His vision was going black but he knew that a gun, the gun that would kill him, was being pointed at his head. Someone long ago had taught him that life wasn't fair, but somehow he never imagined it to this extreme. Now, standing in the clutches of the man who would kill him and undoubtedly kill his beloved Kate, all he could do was stare at the floor and pray. Please, God Jimmy prayed silently, Don't let me die this way. It wasn't supposed to end this way. I was supposed to be telling sea stories to my grandkids the day I died. I was supposed to die quietly in bed surrounded by loved ones. I wasn't supposed to die because some asshole who mistakes himself as a leader wanted to look good. The blackness continued. It wasn't supposed to end this way.

Max still didn't believe in what was going on. When he looked over at Kate, he saw a crushed little girl who had just been betrayed by her first love. He thought back to what kind of man Jimmy was and knew in his heart that Jimmy hadn't done anything. You can't trust a Caribbean nation, anyway. Max looked up and saw Jimmy, who had obviously been beaten severely, hanging futilely onto life. He thought what this would do to Kate, if it ended up that Muchandez was lying. Max made up his mind, drew his gun, and fired.

Muchandez fell to the ground in mid sentence. He was dead even before he hit the concrete. Silence was all that could be heard for a moment. Jimmy, whose prayers had somehow been answered, looked up weakly and saw Max still holding the gun up in the air in the position he fired it, with smoke still coming from the barrel. Jimmy released a tense breath, then fainted to the ground. The guards, who had been gawking at the dead Muchandez, now fixed their stare on Max.

Max laughed nervously and put his gun away. “Um…run!” he instructed 47 and Kate. 47 and Max took off, while Kate bravely climbed the stairs to retrieve her Jimmy. One of the guards grabbed her arm and she saw what a stupid mistake she had made. Her left hand was reaching for her gun when she heard a good natured laugh come from her capturer.

“Gracias, señora. Él ha sido una amenaza para lejos demasiado de largo. Éramos afriad de él. Usted nos ha fijado libres. Usted es un héroe, y le agradecemos!” the guard said happily. Kate looked over to Kara, who stood as shocked as she was.

“What'd he say?” Kate whispered.

“He said, thank you, lady. He has been a menace for far too long. We were afraid of him. You have set us free. You are a hero, and we thank you,” Kara answered in disbelief. She looked back up at the guard. “Por qué usted lo siguió, si usted no tuvo gusto de sus maneras?”

“Como dije, estábamos asustados de él. Él amenazó matar a nuestras familias. Él estaba con Kaos, y nosotros todo el tenido que para trabajar para ellas o para morir. No deseamos lastimar cualquier persona pero cuando amenazan a su familia usted hará cualquier cosa pararlo,” he said, looking at the ground.

“What now?” Kate whispered.

“I asked him if he didn't want to follow Muchandez, why did they do it. He said Muchandez threatened to kill their families, and that he was in with Kaos. They didn't have a choice!” Kara said.

The guard laughed. “Pero ése ahora es todo detrás de nosotros. Él es muerto y estamos libres. Gracias, gracias señora. Usted todo entrará abajo en nuestros libros de la historia como heros.”

“He says that's all behind them now that Muchandez is dead. He says you are all heros and you will go down in the history books as heroes.”

“Venido! Déjenos partido! Comeremos música y buen alimento, y reiremos! Todos en su honor! Usted ahora va, consigue limpiado para arriba! El partido comenzará tan pronto como dejemos a la gente de Tropico saberlos estemos libres otra vez!”

“He says they're going to throw a party in our honor!” Kara translated excitedly as her bound hands were cut free. “He's telling us to go get washed up and the party will start as soon as the people on Tropico know they are free once again!”

13.

The partido de la bomba, or “the bomb party”, started twenty minutes later. The guards, and rather the whole island, crowded into the airplane hangar and watched as Kate disarmed the warhead. A great cheer arose from the people and a mambo began to play seconds later. The bomb itself was hoisted up over the door. The islanders said that they would keep it there forever, so future generations would have an example as to why to stay away from rebel leaders. Mangos, bananas, kiwis, papayas and all sorts of foods were brought out from the great kitchens. They feasted on roast pig and fruit, and washed it all down with coconut milk.

The music lasted long into the night. 47 got uncharacteristically into the spirit of things and danced with a few island women to the hot music that the mambo band was pumping out from their small instruments up in the trees. Kate danced with every man on the island before she spotted the only man she would have liked to dance with.

“Jimmy!” she cried as he stumbled out of the hotel with a huge bandage wrapped around his head. She hugged him tightly. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, just a bad bump, really,” he said, hugging her back. “I'm never one to miss a party, even if I was almost dead an hour ago.”

She smiled up at him. “Come on, let's dance!” They strolled over to the dance floor. The musicians immediately sensed the mood the two wanted and began to play soft salsa. Everyone cleared the dancefloor except Jimmy and Kate. Once again, the island belonged to them.

“I didn't really believe Muchandez, you know,” Kate said to Jimmy. He raised his eyebrows.

“I dunno, kid. You looked pretty convinced to me.”

“Just an old spy trick,” she laughed. “Catch the enemy off guard, you know.”

“Oh. I gotcha.”

“So what happens now?” she asked, almost afraid of the answer. Jimmy looked out into the ocean like he always did when he was thinking hard.

“Kid, we have tonight. That's all that matters right now,” he told her softly. She smiled and pulled him closer.

“That's what I thought.”

The party didn't stop until the early dawn hours. The whole island watched the sun come up over the water and welcomed a new day. The first day in a long time which brought freedom along with it's early morning light. Jimmy and Kate were sitting alone on the beach, as they had been for hours.

“See? I told you it was worth the wait,” Jimmy said to Kate.

“You were right, hotshot,” she said.

Much as he hated to do it, Max knew they all had to get back to Control and report what happened. He approached Kate quietly and tapped her on the shoulder.

“Sorry to disrupt you Kate, but real life is calling,” he said. She turned to him with a questioning look on her face. “We have to get back to Washington, I'm afraid.”

Kate, who had totally forgotten about Washington and Control, suddenly remembered her duty as an agent and sighed heavily. “Dammit,” she swore under her breath.

“Jimmy, can you give us a lift to Grand Bahama?” Max asked. Jimmy nodded.

“Sure thing.”

“Could you meet us at the dock in about a half hour?”

“Sure.”

Kate and Max walked back to the hotel together. Max could tell she was dragging. “Kid, I know you don't want to leave, but you do have responsibilities.”

“I know Max, I know. It's just been one of those life changing days, you know? I feel like a completely different Kate Bloom from what I felt 72 hours ago.”

Max shook his head. “The tropics have a way of doing that to you, Kate. You get strayed from your original plan.”

Kate nodded silently and followed Max into the hotel.

25 minutes later they were all on Jimmy's boat headed for Grand Bahama Island, and eventually, Washington D.C. Kate stifled a smile as she noticed 47, although hung over, was still wearing his heavy black suit. She looked over at Jimmy, who seemed so at home on the ocean and behind the captain's wheel. She wondered what would become of she and he. She sighed, not wanting to think about it. Kara, who was happy to be going home, stayed on the back of the boat and soaked up the sunshine. Max, as always, was hungry.

Jimmy pulled into the dock on Grand Bahama and tied the boat off. 47 and Max shook his hand and headed to the curb for a taxi, while Kate lingered behind.

“Look, I'm no good with good byes…” Jimmy started.

“This isn't goodbye,” Kate said simply. “It's just…adieu until next time.”

Jimmy smiled. “Yeah, I guess you could look at it that way.” He sighed. “Well, I don't know what I'm going to do, now that I don't have to fear for my life every second of the day. I guess I'll have to go back to normal stuff.”

“And what is normal to you?”

“I don't know…exploring deserted islands, hunting for treasure, running from the pirates of the Caribbean, things like that,” he said with a straight face. Kate laughed.

“I'm sure that will keep you busy.”  

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence, then Kate hugged Jimmy.

“Call me from wherever you are. And I want a postcard now and then.”

“You betcha.”

She let go and they looked at each other one last time. “I'll miss you, Jimmy.”

“I'll miss you too, Kate,” Jimmy answered instinctively, knowing that finally he would have someone to dream about on the lonely seas. She sighed.

“Well, looks like 47 and Max have caught that cab,” she said weakly, near tears. “I'd better go before I do something stupid, like say `Take me with you'.”

“That wouldn't be so stupid,” Jimmy whispered. Kate shook her head.

“I have my life and you have yours. That's how it has to be…at least for a little while,” she said, stroking his face. He looked up into her eyes and sighed.

“Well kid…adieu `til next time.”

Kate smiled and stepped off the boat. She looked back one last time as Jimmy pulled away from the dock and began to steer towards another destination. She sighed softly and got inside the cab with 47 and Max. The cab took off, leaving only smoke behind it.


THE END