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x. DRUGS DRUGS DRUGS

A pounding headache pulled my froggy mind into consciousness. Last night's events were a confusing blur. For some reason, I felt upset that Ace wasn't next to me when I woke up. I shake foreign the feeling off.

Alcohol does weird things to your perception.

Mental note, no matter how good of an idea alcohol sounds like, never drink two nights in a row.

Everyone was already in the briefing room by the time I entered. A disgruntled Xavier passed out at his desk, only making noise in the form of small snores. He looked like a kitten instead of an assassin.

Though I'd never say that out loud because within the next second I'd be dead.

Skye propped herself up by her hands. Her head hung slightly, as if she could pass out right there, on the spot. Her usual pristine makeup too, was shadowed by dark bags under her eyes. Taking care of drunk men definitely was enough to exhaust anyone. 

Chase seemed fine. Then again, he hadn't drunk much last night. In his hand, he aimlessly flipped a pen around. The motion caused a thwacking sound to buzz in the room.

It annoyed the shit out of me.

I take one of my own pens and throw it at him. The projectile bounces off his blond hair and gets his attention.

"What the hell, Octavia?" Chase grumbles.

"Stop thwacking your pen. I have a 7.8 earthquake on the richter scale in my head right now," I challenge.

"By the way you drank last night, I'm surprised you haven't broken the scale," Ace smirks.

He seemed normal enough. Blurbs of last night were totally wiped from my memory, but I vaguely remember both of us drinking—a lot. Like 1920s, bootleg, Great Gatsby amount.

Scratch that, I'm surprised Ace doesn't look like death right now.

I grab Ace to the side. "We didn't do anything stupid last night, right?"

He cocks an eyebrow. "Why? Did you think we did or did you want to?"

My hands run through my tangled brown hair. "You're kidding, right? I'm an awful drunk. I get really sappy and emotional, so if we did anything stupid last night, let's just forget about it."

"Don't worry about it, Cupcake. If we did do something, you'd remember it. I happen to be very good."

"Please, the only way you'll get laid is if you crawl up a chicken's ass and wait."

Ace stares incredulously at me. "I can't believe you think I can't get laid. I'm a fucking spy. And just... Look at me."

I roll my eyes at him. The gesture sufficed a lot; any movement of my eyes, much less rolling them, only amplified my headache.

"So... you don't remember anything from last night?" Ace trails.

I jut my chin out. "Nothing."

That was a lie. I just remembered one thing, and that was Ace sitting in my bed. I truly hoped sitting was all we did.

"Well in that case, you told me I was the hottest man you've ever laid eyes on."

I pinch the bridge of my nose. "Bullshit, Blackwell."

Ace chuckles. "Alright, alright. But you did say that I sound like cotton candy."

"You're the last thing from cotton candy. You're the type of cotton candy that a kid ate then threw back up at a carnival held in the back of an alley." I pause to think. "With a lot of clowns."

"Creative. At least my hair doesn't look like cotton candy," Ace smirks as he ruffles the messy bush on my head, adding to its already impressive volume.

"With that kind of volume you could star in a Pantene commercial," he continues to taunt.

Just as I was able to deliver a decisive verbal blow, precisely at 8AM, the CIA director enters with his usual entourage. I sit down but continue to stare daggers in Ace's direction. If I wasn't going to die in the field, I was going to die from frustration at Ace.

"How was the restaurant last night?" the Director drly states. He continues without even waiting for our response, as if the five drunks sitting in front of him were getting on his last nerve.

"Anyway, the files distributed to you guys right now are the mission briefs. Follow along the pages."

"The restaurant was great. Thanks for asking," I smile.

One by one, manila folders are handed to us. They each have the CIA seal printed onto the front along with our name. The first page is a picture of a striking red-headed woman. Under her picture, there's a profile on her that takes up about half a page.

"This is Rose Charron," the Director explains. "What are your first impressions of her?"

Xavier raises his hand. "She's hot."

The room collectively groans. The Director rubs his temples in irritation. "Rose Charron is also a drug kingpin. Tomorrow afternoon, she's transporting over a ton of illicit drugs using moving vans across Manhattan. Your mission is to stop her."

The Director then turns to face Chase, whose eyes narrow at the mention of Rose. "Mr. Kingsley, from what I read in your files, you have dealt with Rose before during your time as a mafia leader."

Chase locks his jaw. "Rose and I use to battle for territory. She's calculating, she's powerful, and she's always looking to expand."

The Director nods. "I want you all to be careful tomorrow. She won't hesitate to kill."

The SWAT team passes out backpacks for each of us. Everyone's is fitted to their own personal choice of weapons. Skye gets all the daggers she can count, Xavier gets a military grade sniper rifle, Chase gets an array of detonators, and Ace gets everything in between.

I'm like a child on Christmas morning when I open my bag. But inside, all there is a gun with rubber bullets and a portable laptop.

All I get is disappointment.

I wave my essentially useless gun around. "This is offensive," I whine. "Everyone else gets cool weapons whereas I'm stuck with a gun that is barely operational."

The Director sighs. "Octavia, everyone else here has extensive training. While you get close enough to hack into the vans' gps systems, Ace will cover you. I'm making it his job to make sure you don't die on your first mission."

Ace smirks. "Director, with all due respect, I've seen Octavia fight—not even this entire SWAT team can protect her."

I shoot Banana Bread with a rubber bullet.

It hits him squarely in the chest, and he curtly retaliates by flipping me off. 

Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Octavia: "Vote and I'll shoot Ace again."

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