You Only Die Twice
Through out the night, Max tried mingling, but his mind always went back to when the Crazy 88’s were at that moment. And his eyes always strayed to where his wife was, as she went through the crowd, nodding at times and smiling.
God, she looks beautiful tonight, he thought.
They had been planning as coming as a prince and princess, but as the dress code had changed, she was now dressed in a gorgeous blue gown that matched her eyes perfectly. Max couldn’t take his eyes off her, even as a warning from Zach entered his thoughts -“You’re gonna get caught if you hang around Mom, so stay away from her.” – And Max had done his best the whole night…while the best he could for the hour that had passed.
But he couldn’t ignore her any longer, especially when she had spent the past fifteen minutes by the mini bar, sipping on the same glass of champagne she had at the beginning of the night.
So he went over, just to say hello.
“A beautiful woman such as yourself shouldn’t be drinking alone, love.” he replied, smiling at her startled look. “Sorry to scare you.”
“No scare,” she chuckled. “Just surprised. Everyone seems so wrapped in the party, I was hoping to blend in.”
“You aren’t the kind of woman to just blend in.”
“I wasn’t aware anyone was watching.” came the retort.
“I’ve been watching you all night,” Max whispered, then cleared his throat. “You’re not easy to ignore. You’re very…statuesque.”
99 tried to hide the blush that crept on her face. Clearing her own throat, she asked, “Have we ever met, Mr. Maxwell? You seem very familiar to me.”
“I’m sure we’ve met some place,” Max said. “Though to see through the mask is amazing.”
“I can’t say how I know,” 99 replied, sipping on her drink. “I think…it’s your eyes mainly.”
“They are the window into the soul.” Max replied, grinning. “And your eyes are definitely saying you’re a beautiful, kind, passionate woman.”
Again, 99 struggled to control a blush that colored her face. “Mr. Maxwell…” she started, before again clearing her throat. “I’m very flattered, believe me, but I’m…really not interested.”
She began to turn away, but Max caught her before she could go. “Just hear me out.” he begged. He tried to organize his thoughts, but they seemed to be in a jumble. “Did…did you see that Mets game the other night?” he asked. When she raised an eyebrow, he continued with, “It was a good game, a double header I think.”
99 nodded. “That’s good to know.” She again began to walk away, but was once again stopped by Max. “Mr. Maxwell…”
“Don’t you even want to hear the score?” he pleaded. Once he realized where he’d been going with this, he decided this was the best way to get her attention. “It was a really good game.” She turned to look at him, impatience written on her face.
“It was 86 to 99.” he whispered, reveling in the stunned expression she wore. Before she could away again, he grabbed her hand and kissed it gently. “Do try and have a good time, Mrs. Smart.” he said, before walking away.
After he’d left, 99 looked at her hand, turning it palm side up. When she did, she found a small piece of paper. Opening it, she read,
Meet me on the patio. 10 minutes.
Agent 99 had been a Control agent for quite some time, from the time she was 24 years to the time the twins were about 10 and when the Chief had succumbed to a heart attack. In all those years, the former agent had gained knowledge that she had used to overcome the evils of KAOS and enemy agents.
It was this knowledge that told her something wasn’t right.
The encounter with Sir Stanley Maxwell had left her feeling confused, enamored, and overall annoyed and irritated. His flirting certainly suggested what plans he had in his mind, but his farewell had been so shocking, it had taken her five of those ten minutes just to recover.
In the next five minutes, she to come two conclusions: Either Mr. Maxwell knew information of the man or men who had killed Max or Mr. Maxwell was responsible for the killing himself. The doubleheader line had been the first code she and Max had ever used and for Mr. Maxwell to even know that, some thirty years later, was highly suspicious.
So when ten minutes had passed, Agent 99 found herself on the patio, in the breezy night air, with a determination to get to the bottom of whatever she was now in the middle of. Standing by herself made her wish Max was there with her.
There was only one case that she had been on without her partner and husband and, though Agent Quigley was nice enough and the case worked in their favor, it just wasn’t the same. Even now, with the twins working for Control, Max and 99 were still teammates, with Max as Chief, providing the cases their children worked, while she usually provided some of the clues that went with them.
And in some instances, she provided the cases they worked on. They were partners, on and off the field, and when he died…
The congresswoman shook her head. Now was not the time. She needed to be composed in order to meet Mr. Maxwell. Speak of the devil, she thought, hearing the door to the patio open. Turning, she saw the very subject of her last thoughts standing before her, staring at her.
“You came.” he whispered.
“You doubted I would?” she asked.
“I wasn’t sure.” he said, some of his accent fading.
I knew it, she thought. “You think you’re pretty funny, don’t you?”
“People seem to think that.” Max asked, cautiously. That was the second time someone had asked him that in the last two weeks. How weird, he thought.
“Well, let me tell you first hand how I feel.” She replied, walking towards him. Max also walked forward, meeting her halfway. “This has to be the most under handed, despicable, cold hearted thing KAOS has ever done.”
“Do you know who did it?” 99 continued, standing up to him. “Or did you do it yourself? Because if you’ve brought me out here for a ‘good time’, you’re quite mistaken if you’d think I’d have anything to do with you.”
Max stood, his mouth agape. She really sounded mad.
“Now,” 99 said, sternly. “Unless you have some information on my husband’s murder, I suggest you stay away from me for the rest of the night.” With that, she turned and began to head for the door.
Max just stood there, in shock. He couldn’t believe it. Not only did she think he was a cad trying to seduce her, but she thought he was a member of the group that killed him. He knew he needed to straighten her out before she really got a bad impression.
“To 99, my heart, my soul, my life. Forever.” He said, loud enough to stop her from turning the knob to the door. Max turned, facing her back, and continued. “I got that engraved on your ring, for our first wedding anniversary.”
When she again didn’t turn, he swallowed. She had to believe him. “You were so mad at me for that Ann Cameron case,” he said. “You didn’t talk to me all night and when you finally let me in our bedroom to take a shower, I had seen your ring on the sink and…” He paused, the memory of that feeling hitting him like it was that very night all over again.
“The Chief and I argued all the next day,” he continued. “I missed it by that much from being fired. I had your ring in my pocket, I couldn’t even believe I hadn’t gotten you anything, so I wanted to do something that…that would mean something. Something…something that would never want to make you take your ring off.”
99 turned to face the man, her face showing confusion and shock. NO ONE but Max and her knew what her ring said, so how could this man know?
“And then, for Christmas, you gave the best present ever.”
“What?” she asked.
Max smiled. “Well, one of.” he said. “The best present you could ever give me was the twins, but you had my ring engraved. You remember?”
“All my love. Always has and will be forever yours. Love, 99.” he quoted.
The words had barely left his mouth before he felt her arms go around his neck for a hug. He whispered his apologies whist returning the hug. His apology garnered him a kiss.
And a slap across the chest.
“Ow!” he exclaimed, rubbing the spot that burned from the attack. “What was that for?”
“If I didn’t love you so much…”
“What would you do if you hated me?”
“Shh!” Max cried. “99, please keep your voice down. No one’s supposed to know I’m here.”
“Then why are you here?” she asked.
“Look,” he said, using his other arm to lead her away from the open door and over to a lounge seat. “Will you settle down for a second? This is going to be an incredibly long story and I want to make sure that, 1. we’re comfortable, and 2. you’re not going to hit me again.”
“One I’ll agree to,” 99 replied, folding her arms across her chest. “But two I’ll hold judgment on.”
Max narrowed his eyes at her. “You haven’t seen me for two weeks and you’re attacking me?” he asked, incredulously. “Gee, 99, I’m starting to think maybe you’re not happy to see me.”
99’s face softened. “Of course I’m happy to see you.” she said, reaching up and stroking his cheek. “I’ve been crazy without you.”
“I’m so sorry,” Max sighed. “You have to believe me, 99, when I say I didn’t want any part of this.”
“Any part of what?”
Max went into everything that happened, from when he entered the Warehouse all the way up to sending Zach a message at Control.
“Zach’s known about this all along?” 99 asked. “You’d tell Zach about this, but not me?”
“99, it’s not like I gave him a call and invited him o…ver…” Max grimaced when he realized what he had just said. “Okay, so I did do that, but if you have to blame someone for you not knowing, blame your son! He gave ME orders not to get in contact with you.” Max again narrowed his eyes. “I think he has an alternate agenda.”
99 rolled her eyes. “Oh Max,” she sighed. “How long are you going to be convinced Zach is trying to steal me away from you?” Max shrugged.
“As long as he’s Zach and you’re you.” he said, nonchalantly.
99 leaned over. “I do love you.” she said, giving him a long kiss.
“You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.” Max whispered. “Listen, we’ve got to go back in there and pretend this never happened.”
“But what about this group you’re watching?”
“I followed them here,” Max replied. “But so far, I don’t know where they are. I haven’t seen them inside or out. Maybe…maybe I’m on a wild goose chase.”
“No Max,” 99 said, shaking her head. “I think you’re right. They’ve got to be around here somewhere. And if they are, how’d they get in and what are they planning?”
“I don’t know. Look,” he said, standing and pulling her with him. “I mean what I said. We’re going back in there and pretend all of this never happened. Now, you have to promise not to get involved in this, though I’m starting to think Zachary’s right. I think I’ve just landed you in danger, too.”
“Max,” she said, looking into his eyes. “I would do anything for you, anything at all.”
“Good.” Max sighed in relief. “Then you’ll stay out of this.”
“Anything but that.” Max grimaced. “Right here, right now, I’ll pretend you’re some creep who’s hitting on me, but I’m not standing by and waiting to attend your real funeral next time.”
“Some creep who’s hitting on you?” Max repeated. “You know, if I remember correctly, I got a few blushes there…” he trailed off and narrowed his eyes. “So you’d actually find someone else. After you’ve buried me and I’ve been in the ground for less than a week. That’s just not right, 99.”
“Oh Max,” she said, exasperated. Her husband and his jealousy! “First of all, you’re not really dead and secondly, it was YOU who was coming on to me!”
“That’s no excuse!” Max exclaimed. He sighed, then said, “Look, we’ll discuss this later. Let’s get back inside before Zach comes looking for you. And when he does, he’ll start spouting ridiculous things, like I came here just to see you and now we’ve got to think of something so the President doesn’t find out.”
“But Max, that’s exactly what’s happened and what we’ll have to do.” 99 told him.
Max just looked at her. “Well, a lot of good that does me now!”
When Max and 99 walked back in to the ball, they were met by a very angry Zachary Smart. The two former agents did combined gulps, as their son came towards them.
“Now Zach, don’t get upset…” 99 began, but was cut off by Zach.
“Don’t tell me he told you who he was and everything.”
“Zach,” 99 whispered. “Your father told me who he was…” At Zach’s look, she cleared her throat. “But you asked me not to tell you that.”
“I don’t even know why I bother with you guys.” Zach said, exasperated.
“Zachary,” Max interrupted. “Your mother and I have discussed it and we’ve come up with a really good plan.”
“We tell everyone your father’s alive.” 99 replied.
“What a great idea!” Zach exclaimed. “And I bet the President will feel the same way! Why don’t I go get him and we’ll all sit down under our little hippie tree and we’ll discuss how this great decision has cost us our jobs!”
Max and 99 looked at him, sternly.
“There’s no need to be sarcastic, Zachary Thomas,” 99 replied, sternly.
“I’m just saying…”
“Well say no more.” Max said, crossing his arms across his chest.
“Boys,” 99 said, noticing Zach’s pout and Max’s sneer. “Please let’s not fight. We have more important things to do. Like finding where that group of KAOS agents went.”
What the Smarts and their team weren’t aware of was the fact that the Crazy 88’s were in fact mingling it up with various members of Congress. A few members had indeed made it inside to the heart of the party. In fact, another member of KAOS had also been in attendance shortly before leaving.
“I trust everything will go smoothly.” Thomas Hill asked, speaking to the leader of the 88’s.
“No probs, boss man.” the leader responded. “We had some bumbling Control agent following us, though.”
“Did you get rid of him?”
“Absolutely.” the leader laughed. “He thought he could fool us by wearing some prince costume. Little did he know, he followed another group of guys. He’s probably wondering around or better. He’s dead.”
“Good show.” Hill replied. “I’m leaving, but keep me informed as to how it goes.”
The leader watched as the second command of KAOS left the party and walked to his car. The leader grinned as he began to walk back inside. As he went around the house, he passed the patio and a couple.
He would’ve walked on, if it wasn’t for the fact that the woman in said couple happened to be Agent 99, the widow of that bumbling Maxwell Smart.
The leader kept his grin as he walked up behind them, as they sat on one of the lounge couches. I didn’t think she had it in her, he thought, crouching down to listen. She must’ve been as tired of Smart as everyone else.
The grin left his face though when he realized who the man was. He sat and waited until they left before pulling out a cell phone.
“We got trouble.” he said, in no uncertain terms. “Smart’s alive.”
Of all the time for three members of Team Smart to have disappeared.
Max and 99 had wanted to get everything out in the open for Austin and the girls, except when Zach went to their table, there was no one there.
“Maybe they’re dancing.” Zach suggested.
“I guess we’ll have to wait to tell them then.” 99 said, looking around.
Max too was straining to find his daughters and Austin, but he found someone more important. It didn’t seem like much. The man who stood was of average height and wore a collarless shirt with a black stripe suit. Max was going to stop his staring when a memory entered his head…
He heard the click of a gun behind him.
He spun around.
A shot rang out.
And Max hit the ground in pain.
The memory hit him like a ton of bricks and he knew immediately who the man was. “It’s him.” He whispered.
“Him who?” Zach asked, garnering a look from 99. “I’m sorry. Him whom?” His mother rolled her eyes.
“It’s the guy that shot me.” Max said, making his way toward the leader of the Crazy 88’s.
And the leader saw him. He turned and headed through the crowd, making sure Max was following him. He’d kill Smart before the night was out.
Max was hot on the leader’s trail, as he moved through the crowd and towards a door. He opened it and entered, with Max right behind him. Max went through the door, unaware that Zach and 99 had been behind him.
“Two ways, three of us.” Zach stated, looking either way down a passage.
“Simple,” Max said. “I’ll go this way, the two of you go that way.”
“Max,” 99 replied, putting her hand on his arm. “Don’t you think that’s a bit dangerous? One of us should go with you.”
“Don’t worry, 99.” Max said, patting her hand. “He’s not going to get the drop on me. Not again.” He gave her a quick kiss and whispered “I love you” against her lips before turning and going down the hall to his left.
“C’mon Mom,” Zach said, watching his father leave. “Dad’ll be okay.”
“Zachary, go with him.”
99 turned to him and repeated, “I want you to go with him. That man he saw shot him and left him for dead once. I refuse to have it happen again. You follow and catch up with him and I’ll go this way.” She kissed his cheek and continued with, “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Go after your father.”
Zach sighed and reluctantly said, “All right, but here,” He reached into his jacket and pulled out his gun. “At least take this. Dad’ll never forgive me if I’d let something happen to you. Besides, what kind of date would I be?”
99 patted his cheek and headed to the right. Zach sighed once more and took off running down the opposite hall, in hopes of catching his father.
The hallway 99 explored was dimly lit, as no one wouldn’t have reason to be there at that time. It wasn’t a long hallway, as she was coming up to a wall. There were only three doors, leading to rooms where someone could hide. Removing Zach’s gun from her purse, she approached the first door and slowly opened it.
It was a closet.
99 let out the breath she’d been holding. She already had the creeps from being in the hallway and her previous paranoia that had been against Max, before she learned it was him, hadn’t fully dissipated. But now, at least she had some comfort. Only two more doors.
Until she felt cold steel against her neck.
“Hello, Mrs. Smart.”
Max crept silently through his portion of the hallway. It was short, but went to the right. He was about to sneak around the corner, until he heard a noise behind him.
Well, he wasn’t about to be shot again.
Spinning around, he was well prepared to shoot when someone cried, “Dad! Wait! It’s me!”
“Zachary Thomas Smart, don’t you know NEVER to sneak up on me!?”
“I’m sorry!” Zach defended. “I didn’t know you were aiming to kill me! I’m not sure what’s worse. I sneak up on Mom, she decks me. I sneak up on Maxine, she shoots me. At least you waited to see who I was.”
“Why are you here?” Max asked, replacing his weapon. “And where’s your mother?”
“That’s why I’m here.” Zach said. “Mom said to keep an eye on you.”
“I heard you.” Max said, sternly. “I just can’t believe you. How could you let her go off alone like that?”
“Because she told me to.” Zach replied. At Max’s look, he continued with, “Look, Dad, Mom can do more damage to me than you can.”
Max looked ready to retort, when a voice cleared its throat. The boys turned to see 99 herself, standing in front of the very man they were looking for.
“Looking for me?” the leader asked, his gun pressing into 99’s temple. “Well, congrats. You found me. Or should I say, your lovely wife did.”
“Let her go.” Max said.
“I need her for the moment.” the leader sneered. “I don’t know how the hell you managed to live, Smart, but I’m going to finish what I started. But first, I’m going to let you watch as I kill your wife. Then, I’m going to kill your son. Then I’m going to kill you. Actually, I’m going to finish the job I’m on now, then I’ll kill you.”
“And what job is that?” 99 asked.
“Why, it’s killing the President.” he replied, putting an arm around 99’s neck. “Now Mrs. Smart, if you don’t mind, you’re talking is taking away from my killing you.”
“Any last words, Smart?”
Max looked at 99. He couldn’t let her to be killed and he certainly wasn’t going to watch. “I only have one thing say.” Max replied, his eyes locking with his wife.
“Kansas City, 1969.”
Zach and the leader of the 88’s looked at Max.
“Is that really necessary?” 99 asked.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures, 99.” Max responded, nonchalantly.
“I hope you understand that,” the leader said. “Because it was idiotic. Say goodbye, Mrs. Smart.”
“On three then.” 99 replied.
The leader began to pull the trigger…
Before the leader had the change, 99 placed a well deserved kick to his…change pocket. Everything then seemed to move slowly. The leader doubled over in pain, releasing his grip on 99. His hold undone, 99 delivered a right hook, causing him to fall.
Unfortunately, the leader still had his gun, so as he fell, he let off a shot, that came barreling towards Max. Zach managed to move in front of his father, catching the bullet and heading towards the ground. Both Max and 99 had their weapons ready and both fired off shots that hit the leader, killing him.
“Zach, are you all right?” Max asked, kneeling besides his son.
“Yeah.” Zach said, through gritted teeth. “He winged me. It doesn’t hurt, really.”
A commotion made the trio look up. “There you are!” Austin said, coming towards them. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you.” He knelt to examine Zach.
“Where have you been?” Zach asked, impatiently. “We’ve been trying to tell you something really important all night!”
“Oh, you mean how Dad faked his death in order to capture that group of KAOS agents?” Maxine asked.
Max, Zach, and 99 each looked at her.
“Do I even want to know how you know this?” Max asked, shaking his head.
“We just saved the President from being murdered.” Tracie explained, kneeling next to Zach. “He kinda spilled everything.”
“Literally.” Austin muttered.
“Austin…” 99 warned.
“Well, it’s true.” Austin defended.
The next week, things seemed to be back to normal. Zach was fixed up by the hospital staff and immediately told people about his historic save of his father’s life. Max’s death had been explained, though there were still agents who looked at him as though he was a ghost.
Of course when Max walked to his office, he had just heard his son had saved him from hundred KAOS agents and was in coma, hence why he hadn’t been at work for that week. Max just smiled and rolled his eyes. His smile got bigger when he spotted 99, sitting on his desk.
“Heard the latest gossip?” she asked, as he entered.
“That Zach is in coma for saving me from 100 KAOS agents?”
“No,” she said, smiling. “The one where I single-handedly disbanded a fleet of KAOS with one well placed kick.”
“I like that one the best.” he said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “What do I owe this visit, my dear?”
“I just wanted to say hi and make sure you were where you’re supposed to be.”
“Ah,” he smirked. “Checking up on me. No complaints, though. I’m thinking of going on a very long vacation after this.”
“A vacation to where?” 99 asked.
“That all depends,” she said, putting her arms around him.
“How far away you want to be from the President?”