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You Only Die Twice

Chapter Five

 

 

Zachary Smart was enraged. He’d done a poor job of controlling it in front of Austin, but he figured as soon as the doctor stopped asking questions, he’d be free to really let loose. And he was going to take it out on the sick freak who had sent him that message.

Zach knew the members of KAOS were despicable guys, but really. To taunt him about his father’s death, his murder, but sending some ridiculous coded message supposedly sent by Maxwell Smart…it just wasn’t funny. He thought his father had a lot more respect than that. Certainly if Ludwig Von Siegfried had anything to say, whoever sent this would be trouble.

Well, they would have to stand in line.

He just couldn’t believe it. This was just sick. To impersonate his dead father…but worse, to use his own shoe phone to call….Austin had told him that several things were missing, like Max’s wallet, his wedding ring, and importantly, his shoe phone. Zach choked a sob. He hated that day. The day Austin had told him…

Austin had spotted him before he’d even come through the door. He had already spent the morning coming to terms with his grief. He had been there in the office when the call came through. He was gone.

Maxwell Smart was dead.

It was still early in the morning and certainly none of the regular team would in, so he took that time to try and think of a way to tell them that the Chief…Max…was gone. It was only five minutes before Austin had crumbled in tears. Even before he had joined Control, he had heard about the incredible Maxwell Smart.

After all, his uncle, Professor Peter Parker, had worked with the man for years. Austin considered it a great privilege to be a member of the lab technicians, but nothing could prepare him for being a member of the team.

It had started as just they came to him when he was needed and soon, Maxine Smart spent more time with him. It seemed it wasn’t a secret that he had fallen in love with the boss’ daughter or that she seemed to be carrying a torch for him.

But he got along with everyone. He and Agent 99, Mrs. Maxwell Smart, shared a love of culture and travel. He gave a teary chuckle, remembering how the Chief would always conclude that there was something there that wasn’t.

Truth be told, Austin enjoyed spending time with the Smarts. His own parents were the business types and didn’t have time for such trivial things as hugs and love, especially with Austin, who seemed to be straying from the avant guarde lifestyle they themselves had all their lives. Unlike them, Austin didn’t flaunt his wealth in front of other people. In fact, it was he and Max that had that very conversation.

“Why did you join Control, Austin?” Max asked, over an early cup of coffee. “I mean, it didn’t seem like spying was a family tradition. Peter aside, of course.”

Austin shrugged. “I’m not really sure, Sir.” He answered. “It just felt right to do, I guess.”

“That’s a not a very good answer.”

Austin cringed. He’d only been working at Control for a short time, but longer than Maxwell Smart had been Chief. But still…Mr. Smart had far more experience than he did. “I’m sorry, Sir.”

“Wha?”

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“For not having a good answer, Sir.”

Max laughed. “Don’t be sorry, Parker.” He chuckled. “Just think of a better reason, that’s all. All I’m asking is why did you choose to be a secret agent when you could’ve been a real doctor.”

“That would be expected of me, wouldn’t it?” he spat bitterly.

“Come again?”

Austin smiled nervously. “Nothing, sir.” He mumbled. “Just I’m sure that’s what my parents would want me to do. Be a big name doctor, making lots of money.”

“There’s more to life than money, Austin.” Max replied, giving his lab tech a look.

“I know, Sir.” Austin said. “That’s…that’s why I became a Control agent. To protect that way of life. The simple life.”

“Congrats, Dr. Parker,” said, leaning back in his chair. “You’ve just found your re…”

And with that, Max fell backwards on to the floor.

Austin wiped his eyes. He looked up to Maxwell Smart and to know that he was…gone…He took a deep breath and looked at the phone. He’d have to do it.

It was an hour later before Zachary Smart walked in to his father’s office, very agitated. Austin Parker had woken him the first glorious night’s sleep he had had in six months. “This…” he stated, as he noticed his friend’s outline. “Had better be important.”

When Austin didn’t answer, he always took the bait, Zach raised an eyebrow. He took in the doctor’s appearance: disheveled clothes, red face and eyes, and came to one conclusion. “She broke it off with you.” he said, walking over to his father’s desk, where Austin had perched himself. He shook his head as he sat next to him.

“I don’t know what’s up with her, Austin,” he continued. “I mean, she gets close to anyone and she freaks. Some weird independent thing I guess. Look, let me go home, get a good three hours sleep, and then I’ll call her and make her see reason…”

“Your sister and I haven’t broken anything off.” Austin whispered. “This isn’t about her anyways.”

“O…kay.” Zach waited for him to speak again. He didn’t. “Austin, are you all right? You don’t look so good.”

“I have to tell you something, but you’re not going to be happy about it.”

“Oh.” Zach scratched his head, again waiting for more information. “It’s not about Max, right?”

“No, Zach.” Austin said. “It’s not about Max, at least not your sister Max.”

Just then, Zach caught on. He thought. “It’s about my dad.” Austin nodded. “He’s been hurt.”

Austin choked a sob out. “He’s hurt really bad.”

“How bad?”

Austin couldn’t even answer.

“That bad.”

The two agents sat in relative silence before Zach said, “I want to see him, Austin.”

“You can’t.”

“Why the hell not?!” exploded Zach, causing him to leave his set and face Dr. Parker.

“I haven’t even seen him.” he whispered.

“Then how do we know it’s him?” Zach asked. “What if…”

“It’s him, Zach.” Austin replied softly. “McMaley IDed him. He was on that stakeout, too.”

Again silence reigned in the office.

“Zach…” Austin took a deep breath. “Maybe, maybe I should tell the girls…”

Zach shook his head. “Dad…he’d…he’d want me to do it.”

Austin nodded, before standing and heading for the door. Before taking his leave, he stopped by Zach. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.” he said. “I promise.” He then left, leaving a grieving son behind.

Zach ran a hand over his face. He wasn’t going to cry, not when he had things to do. Stopping the car, he found himself in a quaint neighborhood, across from a large warehouse. Sick bastards, he thought, eyeing the warehouse.

The place his father died.

That only caused to renew his anger. Getting out of the car, he quickly located the house of 42 N. Wexel. Removing his gun, he checked the clip to ensure he had enough bullets to finish the job. Reholstering it, he walked up to the door and knocked.

Inside #42, Maxwell Smart was again pacing. His ‘guard’ had gone out to lunch just a few minutes ago, telling Max he was to go no where or talk to anyone. Max had only nodded, hoping his message had reached Control in that time. He knew it was slightly poor taste, but hopefully Zach had understood the message and realized his father was alive.

Only a short time later, did someone knock on the door. Keeping still, he walked over to look in the peep hole and nearly jumped for joy. Smiling, he opened the door, and was about to say hello to his visitor, when said visitor decked him, landing him on the floor in the middle of the room.

“Ow!” Max exclaimed. “Damn it, Zach, that hurt!”

If Max was surprised to see his son, he was more surprised at his actions. Not stopping a beat, his only son, turned, locked the door, and leveled his gun at him.

“If you think that hurt,” Zach replied, an evil sneer on his face as he cocked the gun. “You’re not going to like what’s going to happen next.”

Not good.

This was so not good.

Never in a million years would Maxwell Smart expect to see his son standing over him, with a gun in his hand.

And he looked quite serious too.

“Zachary…”

“Shut up.” the agent sneered, his gun leveled between Max’s eyes. “You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?”

“I’ve been known to make a few men chuckle.”

Zach grinned, evilly, but a grin reached his lips never less. “And make grown women cry?” he asked. “That’s not very nice.”

“Zachary,” Max pleaded. This wasn’t going well at all. “Listen to me. I know it’s a shock, but it’s me. I’m not dead.”

“Not yet.”

Oh yes. The boy was quite serious.

Max gave a nervous laugh. “You really wouldn’t kill your father, would you?” he asked.

“If you hadn’t killed him first.” Zach spat.

Oh God, Max thought. He thinks I’m an imposter. “Zach, I’m not an imposter. I’m really your father.”

“And I’m Luke Skywalker.”

He’s telling jokes at a time like this?!?

“Your birthday’s November 14, two days before your mother and mine’s wedding anniversary.”

“Do you know how many KAOS agents know that?” Zach countered.

Strike One.

“Eh…you have a birthmark, the same as mine, on your…uh…Captain’s Quarters.”

“And there are several female agents of KAOS who know that as well.”

Strike Two.

And an eventual talk with said son.

“You know,” Zach responded, his gun still pointed at Max. “I could be nice and ask you where you’d want this.”

Max smiled.

“I’m feeling rather generous, so I’ll shoot you up until I find the spot you wanted.”

Max stopped smiling.

Max closed his eyes. Well, everyone already thought he was dead and it would certainly be a shame if Zach ever found out he wasn’t and he had just shot and killed his own father… Max’s eyes opened in a flash. A thought just came to him. More like…a memory.

“When you were six, you climbed to the roof and threw your sister’s favorite toy off!” Max shouted. Zach seemed to still for a second. “You were so mad cause she got a new toy for some picture she drew.”

Zach lowered the gun and stared.

“That was the first man to man talk I gave you.” Max continued. “I told you it didn’t matter if Max got a new toy because your mother and I loved both of you. Equally.”

“And you bought me a plane.” Zach whispered.

“Not just any plane,” he said. “The Red Baron’s plane, because you found your sister’s doll and fixed it.” Max watched as Zach let his gun hand hang to his side as he thought of this new information. “I swear to you, Zach,” Max continued. “It’s me. I’ll explain everything, but you have to believe it’s me.”

Zach shook his head. “Austin said you were dead,” he whispered. “They…they saw you and they wouldn’t let me see you.”

Max stood cautiously, making sure Zach wouldn’t be pulling the trigger at any time. Once he was sure, he put his hand on his shoulder. “Zachary, I’m sorry.” he said. “I didn’t want to do this, believe me, I didn’t.”

“Then why…”

“It’s a really long story.” Max started. “Got the time?”

“To speak to my dead father, who’s not really dead?” Zach asked, sarcastically. “I can make the time.”

So, Max began his story, from the time he woke in the secret hospital to when he opened the door.

Zach grinned, sheepishly. “Sorry bout that, Dad.”

“No worries.” Max said, rubbing his jaw. “But if you’ve left a bruise…”

“So Dad,” Zach replied, steering conversation back on track. “When do you…you know…get to come back to life, so to speak?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know.” he answered. “Personally, I don’t think the President thought this all the way through. I mean, what happens when I stumble on to these guys again? I can’t take down a group of people by myself.”

The two men sat in silence before Max quietly asked, “How’s your mother?”

“Devastated, of course.”

“Then you have to let her know I’m all right.”

“I can’t.”

“What?”

Zach turned to his father. “I’m sorry, Dad, but I can’t. I can’t let anyone know about this.”

“You can’t be serious.” Max said, unbelieving.

“I am.” replied Zach, seriousness in his voice. “Dad, you totally risked whatever you’re doing by contacting me at Control. I can only hope everyone believes I met with an imposter instead of you…”

“Zachary,” Max said. “That kind of defeats the purpose of me contacting you…”

“Dad,” Zach took a breath. “You would want me to follow procedure and stuff, right?” Max was silent. “I’m glad you’re okay, Pop, I really am. You have no idea how happy I am you’re alive, but you shouldn’t have done what you did.”

Taking another breath, Zach said, “You gotta promise me you won’t go looking for Mom.”

When Max began to protest, Zach quieted him. “I know it sucks,” he replied. “But you’re gonna put yourself in danger and I like having you around. I didn’t enjoy the first time I heard you died and I’d rather not hear it again quite so soon, okay?” Zach waited and finally, “Please Dad.”

“All right.” Max resigned. “I won’t go actively searching for your mother, but at least…” He couldn’t really find the words he wanted.

“I’ll let her know…you know.” Zach amended. Max only nodded.

Zach headed towards the door, but stopped. Without turning, he said, “The funeral’s in a few days. Not that I’m saying you should go, just when it is.”

And with that, he left.

 

 

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