Stalemate

Short story. It's a different take to the scene shown in the picture, but with the same romantic twist in the end. Both need one thing to complete their mission and both need the other to complete their lives. *For the Picture Prompt Contest*.

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1. The Balloons

“These balloons are filled with hydrogen and I have the trigger hidden on me now. Give me what I want or I’ll detonate.” As a group of teenagers walked past he grabbed her hand and gave a sickly smile. They sniggered and carried on walking. As soon as their backs were turned he dropped her hand like it offended him.

“Is that your best chat up line?” Despite having spoken perfect English for the past 30 years she always brought on her clichéd Russian accent, just to annoy him.

“Stop with the chit-chat, you know what I’m here for,”

“I know what you’re here for and I know what you’re thinking, you’re far too predictable. Why am I still here? Right? You know the answer.”

“I am here on a job, not to start a relationship. Especially one which would inevitably end in my death,”

“You’re so cute when you’re stressed,” she stroked the lines on his forehead, she hated him being upset. He relaxed on her touch.

“Please, just tell me where the chip is. I don’t want to hurt you or me, this explosion would kill both of us.”

“But you would, if it came to it. Because it’s for your country and it’s what you’ve worked for all your life, just as it is for me,” a tear came to her eye. An old man walking his dog glared at him. “It’s tears of happiness,” she smiled, “he just asked me to marry him.” He put his arm around her -showing his true feelings despite the ironic truth. As soon as the man left he pulled his arm away like he touched something hot. He hardened himself and remembered who he was.

“You have 30 seconds to hand it over, or the 30 seconds will be your last 30 seconds,” he set his watch. She tried to grab the watch but he deflected every attempt. She started to nip him and use her diamond ring to cut his skin to tatters. He hid his expression and the on-going attack perfectly from any passers-by. She knew she had to distract him to stop it. And she knew the only way how. She pressed herself up against him and kissed him. She didn’t need to break the kiss to know where he put the detonator. She had all the power now. But she couldn’t hurt him. She stopped the watch and turned to go.

“Wait,” he shouted. “Isn’t there another way? Some way we can both get out of our… commitments?” She had the power, so he was the one to beg for their happy ever after. This was always the way with the two. Mortal enemies from two fighting countries. They’d shared a night together several times, forever to be a secret from their relative bosses. Weakness was a mistake, and a mistake which would cost both their lives. This was the way it worked, whoever was losing would do the begging. Neither knew whether the other actually loved them or whether it was a long-term plan to dispose of them.

“You know the other way,” she snapped. “And time after time I offer it to you, and time after time you reject it. I stayed in England to see if we could run away, together, and you came after me with another death threat.”

“I had to. You haven’t been the most subtle while you’ve been here. My people were starting to suspect something when I said I thought it was a trap.”

“Why are you so suspicious of me?”

“Because I know you so well,” he got closer. “So here’s my compromise. The detonator you have is a fake I put in the usual place, this is the real one,” he brought a locket out from under his jacket and opened it to reveal a small red button.

“And how do I know that you’re telling the truth?”

“You don’t but killing us both wouldn’t be a compromise and that’s what I said I would do. If you want to stop this charade and settle down, we can but I know it’s not what you want.”

“I guess you know me almost as well as I know you. That would bore us both to tears. We’d never be able to leave the chosen country again. I knew stalemate would be reached as it always is, so, here’s my compromise. Here’s a copy of the chip, I’ll take my copy and we please both our bosses. It’s not like they talk to each other,”

She handed over the small microchip and both missions were complete. She gave him half of the balloons and he gave her a grudging hug.

“Both detonators worked,” he whispered.

“I knew, but where would we be if I’d admitted that?” He breathed in her scent as she laughed- it was his favourite smell. She listened to his voice as he told her his secrets- it was her favourite sound.

“One day I’ll outsmart you instead,”

 “And that shall be the day we retire,”

“Until Vermont.” He bowed as she curtsied and they set off in different directions, the pink balloons bouncing in the wind.

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