Shadow of the Templar: Shock To The System, pt. 3
On timeline: at the end of chapter 48 of High Fidelity
And finally: filling in another elision by managing to shock even the one person who already knew the truth about Simon's sex life.
"Yeah, yeah," Simon said, shutting his eyes. Jeremy only laughed, and after that Simon didn't really feel like saying anything else, so he listened instead: when neither of them were talking he could hear the barest undertones of that music, muffled by distance and a firmly-closed door, and the slight whisper of Jeremy's breath against the phone's mouthpiece.
He couldn't hear Jeremy's footstepsof course notbut he very clearly heard the clink of ice, once, then again. Jeremy huffed out a faint sound and a bottle cracked open, then glugged once"Well, then," Jeremy said, putting the bottle back wherever it belonged with a faint thump. "There we are."
"And hey, it sounds refreshing," Simon said. "Where are you, anyway? I can't imagine your listening to that music by choice."
"And of course you have such a vast body of knowledge about my taste in music," Jeremy said, amused. "But, alas, you are correct. I'm afraid that the music is a small price to pay for the privilege of attending the cocktail hour, here."
"Cocktail hour? Jesus, it's not like three-thirty or anything"
"Four-thirty, actually," Jeremy said. Upholstery wheezed underneath him once more, and now that Simon was listening for it, he heard the following whisper of fabric against fabric as Jeremy crossed his legs. "A bit early, I suppose, but I am on holiday." He paused. Ice rang against the side of his glass with a painfully clear sound, like crystal. Maybe it was crystal. Simon sure as hell didn't know. "So," Jeremy said, exhaling, "we need to talk, you claim."
"Ohh, yeah," Simon said, almost laughing himself. "See, when we were on the plane coming back from Italy, I kinda sorta got so damn bored that I ended up telling my team the truth about you and me."
There followed a supremely thoughtful (and, Simon suspected, surprised) pause. "The truth," Jeremy finally said, cautiously.
"Yep. Not lying to you. In fact, I'm barely lying to anyone any more. Ta da!"
"In that case, in the interests of full disclosure, I feel that I should admit that in my surprise at this news I quite nearly aspirated a mouthful of extremely expensive Scotch," Jeremy said. "My sinuses will never forgive you."
"Oh, man, I made you snort Scotch? I've gotta come out to people more often, then. Maybe some day I'll make you do a spit-take and then I can die happy."
"Spare me your slapstick fetishes," Jeremy said pleasantly. He paused long enough to take another sip of his drinkSimon firmly resisted the urge to yell 'boo!'and then shifted with another rustle of fabric. "So, dare I ask what brought this on?"
Simon threw an arm across his eyes, blocking out the sun. An image of Jeremy popped unbidden into his mind: curled up on a couch in a room straight off the set of Casablanca, lowball glass in one hand, cellphone in the other, wearingwell, Simon's mind didn't supply the details, but it wasn't black, whatever it was. Almost certainly wrong, but entertaining nonetheless. "Oh, dare, dare," he told his mental image of Jeremy. "Hell, I dare you."
Jeremy laughed. "Very well, since you insist. What brought this on, Simon?"
Simon's mind was trying very hard to put Jeremy in Humphrey Bogart's white tuxedo now, which boded ill for everyone. "Mostly I'm sick and tired of lying to everyone," he admitted. "I'm a fundamentally honest personI know you're not used to dealing with honest people, so I apologize if that frightens you"
"Duly intimidated," Jeremy murmured.
"and frankly, if anyone deserves the whole truth, it's my team," Simon said, ignoring that. "Also... Christ, I don't know. I guess..." He trailed off there, arm pressed firmly down across his eyes, not quite squirming.
"You guess?" Jeremy prompted, after a moment.
"I guess I thought you maybe deserved better from me or something," Simon said, the words tumbling over each other as he rushed to get them out. "Also, shut up."
"I didn't say a word."
"And if you're smart, you won't. Remember, I have multiple guns."
"You're always so charming, Mr. Drake," said Jeremy. He might have been a time zone and a few thousand miles away but Simon could still feel him radiating amusement. "Very well, I shan't say it, then."
"Hold up, no, I think I may be lying." The pause that followed was just long enough to register, although not long enough for Simon to form a coherent protest. "Thank you, Simon," Jeremy said, his voice almostalmostserious. "I think I'm flattered. Possibly even honored."
Simon shuddered, even though he'd been fearing he was about to hear something much worse. "Oh, Jesus, don't thank me," he said. "And, and don't be honoredwhat the hell, Archer?"
"Ah, forgive me." The amusement was back in Jeremy's voice, just like that. "I suppose I've just never quite learned how to deal with positive attention from you."
Oddly, that made Simon feel better. At least they were back on familiar ground. "Yeah, yeah, shut up," he said. "See, there's more."
"Dear God," Jeremy said, after a pause.
Simon snerked out half a laugh before he could choke it back. Somewhere out there Jeremy also laughed, the weird half-mood finally dissipating. "Okay, so," Simon said. "See, I told my team partially because they needed and deserved to know, but partially because... well... okay, look. I am tired of lying to people. Like I said."
"Mm." The connection hissed, once, slightly.
"And I think that if I go in tomorrow and come clean to the OPR and to my bossif I tell them the truth about everything, from, from you to Farraday and backI think I might be able to finesse things and get my job back," Simon said, all in a rush again. He paused to suck in a breath. "I think I know how. I think I can do it."
There was another pause, this one careful and measured and broken in the middle by the sound of ice clinking against crystal. "I see," Jeremy said warily. "Well. Thank you for giving me some warning"
"It's not a warning, Archer," Simon said. "It's... I'm asking for permission."
That pause had the distinct flavor of shock to it. "I beg your pardon," Jeremy finally said, his voice absurdly polite. "I'm afraid I must have the wrong number"
"Oh, eat me."
"meant to ring one Simon Drake, large handsome fellow, kind of a prick under most circumstances"
"Jesus, see if I ever do anything nice for you again," Simon said, vaguely embarrassed but still laughing.
And now Jeremy was laughing, too. "You'll have to forgive me, it's just so odd," he said. "Tell me, have you been hit on the head in the recent past?"
"Nope. I just... had a lot of time to think about things, you know," Simon said.
"I think I might like it when you're thoughtful," Jeremy said. Simon wasn't sure how Jeremy meant that, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know, either. Jeremy shifted againSimon's mental image now had him with his knees drawn up almost to his chestand sighed out another breath. "All right. You have my permission, then. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know how it goes, so that I can take the proper precautions"
"Aaaaand here, sir, we come to the third and final thing," Simon said. "You know. If your heart can take it."
"Do you know, I'm not sure," said Jeremy. "Let's find out, shall we?"
Simon discovered that he was grinning, just a little. "See, here's the thing: I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I managed to come home with about twelve hundred Euros and something like two thousand dollars on this prepaid Visa, here, and I'm thinking that I don't want to get caught having taken a bribe from you, you notorious criminal, you."
"So... what? Did you want to write me a check?" Jeremy said, nearly laughing.
"Are you kidding? That's a lot of money to trust to the mail. So... I was thinking I'd come give it back to you in person. You know. After I take care of things here."
"Mm." Somewhere in the Caribbean Jeremy put his empty glass down on a table. Simon heard the little click. "Were you, now," Jeremy added, his voice gone all rich and heavy, like cream.
"Yeah," Simon said, maybe a little hoarse himself.
Jeremy hummed thoughtfully. "In that case, I suppose you'd like to know where I am?"
"Well. I mean. It'd sure help."
For a long moment Jeremy said nothing at all, and despite how well this conversation had been going so far Simon was suddenly convinced that he was about to get turned down"From where you are, it'd probably be best to fly to San Juan," Jeremy said, and how he could make an innocent sentence sound so loaded, Simon had no goddamned idea. "That's in Puerto Rico, if you were wondering."
"I know it'll come as a shock to you, Archer, but I knew that." Simon scrubbed the back of his hand over his mouth.
"Oh, I am impressed. Once you're in San Juan, you'll need to catch one of the little planes out to Nevisthat's N-E-V-I-S, or did you know that, as well?"
Simon snorted a little. "No, okay, that one's new to me. Us defenders of the free world don't get many fancy-ass Caribbean vacations, you know."
"Well, then." Christ, the purr in his voice, it was something else, it had always been something else. "Aren't you lucky?"
"Christ, let's hope so," Simon said under his breath.
"Mm." Upholstery sighed as Jeremy got up again. "Tower Hill Plantation Inn, Simon. Any cab can take you there. The front desk ought to be expecting you. Or should I say they'll be expecting Simon Moorhead?"
It was such a rush, even after all this time"Tower Hill Plantation Inn," Simon repeated. "Moorhead. Got it. Late Friday, Saturday, something like that."
"I assure you, I'll be waiting." A pause, and then Jeremy laughed, free and easy, dispelling the thick cloud of suggestiveness that he'd been forming. "And now I do believe I need another drink. To help me get past the shock, you know."
"Bad habit, Archer, using alcohol as a crutch," Simon said, shutting his eyes. "But then I guess you've always been a creature of bad habits."
"Isn't that the truth," Jeremy sighed, and he hung up in the middle of the little laugh that followed.