Majorly belated for boring life reasons, this was originally intended for [community profile] fandom_stocking, for [personal profile] lost_spook and [personal profile] liadtbunny. By way of apology for its appalling tardiness, it comes with an accompanying 1966 playlist, in an attempt to add some local colour.

Fandom: Adam Adamant Lives!
Characters: Adam and Georgie
Gen, c. 10000 words



A Most Unrestful Break For Two



"The Savoy!" Her eyes as wide as saucers, Georgie Jones gazed open-mouthed, tea cup frozen halfway to her lips. "Wowee! The Savoy?!"

"Indeed, Miss Jones." Placing his own cup back into its saucer with his usual meticulous precision, Adam gazed momentarily into the middle distance. He bore an expression that she had come to know well – a half-frown that spoke of a certain nostalgia, mixed with the slight confusion that came from his own very peculiar brand of jet lag. "I used to know it quite well. I shall be interested to see how it has changed."

"That at least has be somewhere that's stood firm against modern flimflammery," said Simms, from where he was dusting a bookcase. "None of your swinging sixties, and girls in invisible miniskirts there."

Adam's eyes widened in alarm at the suggestion. "Indeed not," he said with feeling, before rising to his feet, beginning to pace back and forth as he planned this latest venture. "I shall require formal attire of course. Would white tie be considered too formal for the Savoy nowadays? One is never too sure in this perplexing era." His gaze fell upon Georgie, in her pink and orange striped dress, and for a moment he sighed. "This most perplexing era. Miss Jones, do you choose your clothing solely to give me a headache?"

"This?!" She laughed. "You should come dancing with me one night. This is really quite conservative."

"As if the first sentence hadn't already been enough to make my heart pound with horror, you had to continue with the second." He rolled his eyes heavenward. "Somewhere, Miss Jones, there is a neat grey dress and a pair of sensible shoes, that together would do wonders for your appearance and my blood pressure. To say nothing of my eyes. Now, I have to be getting ready. I leave tonight."

"But I––" she began, only to be stilled by a very familiar glare. "Oh, but Adam. It's the Savoy! I would be very quiet."

"I have as yet seen no evidence that you even know the meaning of the word. And I must be discreet. A top government minister is missing. Deflection to the Soviet Union is suspected, and if it should get out, it might cause a scandal. The government might be toppled. There could be anarchy! The economy is already fragile." He regarded her with typical gravity. "So many things to consider, Miss Jones."

"Yes, I know. And somehow I'm likely to cause an international catastrophe just by coming along for the ride." She sighed as forlornly as she could manage. "I could be useful. I have been before."

"But I may be dealing with spies this time! International spies, a most daring and desperate sort. No, this calls for experience, not mere enthusiasm. You must remain behind." His eyes narrowed in a meaningful glare. "And I mean that this time; actually remain behind."

"I could lock her in the cellar if you'd like," suggested Simms. "Or tie her up in the woodshed?"

"An excellent suggestion, Simms. We have neither, but nonetheless I appreciate the sentiment."

"Oi!" protested Georgie. Simms eyed her speculatively.

"There's always the broom cupboard then, sir."

"In these white boots, with all those cobwebs? No fear." She stood up as though ready to fend him off, although he was still busy about his dusting. "Fine. But you be careful, Adam. I don't want to read in the Times that you've been fished out of the river with a pair of concrete galoshes on."

"I should think not!" He looked positively aghast. "That would be most embarrassing. And most dreadfully uncouth. No, Miss Jones, I anticipate no trouble of that sort. I am quite used to spies."

"And if it's not spies?" she asked. He paused in his thoughtful pacing long enough to take a sip of tea, and eyed her briefly over the rim of the cup.

"Well then, all the better. If it's not spies, it's probably some nefarious kidnap scheme, probably for ransom. The minister in question does come from quite a rich family, I'm led to believe. I expect I shall be back here for breakfast, in that case. Do we have kippers, Simms?"

"We do, sir," confirmed the third member of their ill-matched team. Adam nodded in satisfaction.

"Fine. Two then, if you please. Perhaps with a poached egg. Oh, and Simms? Do dispense with that dreadful pre-sliced bread. It's like chewing on old leather. There must be a bakery around here somewhere?"

"I shall have a loaf fresh for you tomorrow morning, sir."

"Thank you. I shall be sure to call if I have to stay at the Savoy tomorrow, so that you don't go to unnecessary effort. Now, my overnight bag is packed, I take it?"

"It is, sir. I did pack the white tie. I thought perhaps you could use your discretion if you have to stay for dinner tomorrow evening. You have fresh clothing enough for three days, to be on the safe side. Not that I doubt your abilities, naturally."

"Quite so, Simms. Quite so. We must always be prepared. Very well, if all is arranged then I should be on my way. And Miss Jones..."

"I shall sit on her, if you would like, sir," offered Simms. Georgie's eyes widened in amused disbelief.

"No you will not!" Simms had a wicked sense of humour, and it was never easy to tell when he was being serious. "I'll go home. I know when I'm not wanted."

"Experience would suggest otherwise," said Simms, his tone as acid as spirit vinegar. She stuck out her tongue, and he glared an eloquent riposte.

"Good evening, Mr Adamant," she said politely, maturity restored as she turned her back upon the valet. "Do try not to get yourself killed."

"I shall do my utmost, Miss Jones." He gave a short bow. "May I escort you down?"

"You go ahead. I have to get my coat." She watched him as he left, collecting his case, and offering his two friends a farewell salute with his sword-stick as the lift doors closed. She sighed then, and threw a look across at Simms.

"Don't you ever worry about him?"

"Frequently. Out of a job again without him, aren't I." He smiled, his demeanour far more relaxed now that Adam had gone. "Don't worry about it. He's been doing this sort of thing since before I was born, and he's very good at it. Go home. Stay out of trouble. Come over tomorrow morning for eleven o'clock coffee, and it'll probably all be over. Agreed?"

"I suppose." She retrieved her coat from where she had flung it earlier, across a bust that she was fairly sure depicted Lord Wellington. "Tomorrow then." There was no further farewell. Simms had already disappeared, feather-duster in hand, off about one of his multifarious duties.

Alone, Georgie rode the lift down, feeling more than a little dejected. She was fond of Adam. She was reasonably sure that he was fond of her, even if he did prefer not to show it. His unwillingness to allow her to share in his adventures, no matter how often she proved her worth, remained a bone of contention between them, and she saw no way to end the standoff. The very thing that she liked so much about him – his otherworldliness, the fact that he was so very different from all the other men that she knew – was the very reason why he kept her so respectfully at arm's length, and saw so great a need to protect her from harm.

The tail lights of his mini were just gliding out of sight when the lift doors opened. She headed for her motorscooter, picking up her helmet and slipping it on over her head. Another light caught her eye as she did so, and she frowned, squinting off into the darkness. The growl of an engine echoed faintly in the near-empty car park, and the light flickered again. It was a motorbike, she realised, visible in patches between the pillars supporting the roof. It was a public car park, true, but at this time of night it was almost invariably deserted. Besides, in her experience, if there was a motorbike that seemed to be heading in pursuit of Adam Adamant, then that was precisely what it was doing. With a kick of the starter, she brought her scooter's engine to life, and set off on the chase.

It was a Friday night, and traffic was heavy in London. Taxi cabs vied with chauffeur-driven saloons for road space, and horns sounded left and right. Adam was soon caught in a jam, and his motorbiking shadow seemed content to sit some distance behind, watching. Georgie was not so patient. Hissing her displeasure, she made a snap decision. Adam seemed in no immediate danger, and she knew precisely where he was going. The solution seemed obvious. She would go to the Savoy ahead of him, and bring him up to date when he arrived.

**********

It was late when Adam drew up at last outside the Savoy. A liveried young man whisked away the Mini almost as soon as he arrived, and with his minimal luggage in hand, Adam strolled on into the lobby. It was, inevitably, different to his memories of it – but not so very different. An air of vintage splendour remained, as though it had tried to keep one foot in its venerable past, as well as reaching one, tentatively, into the future. It was a bit clashing, a bit indecisive, but not offensive to Adam's tastes. Shouldering his cane, a cheerful spring in his step, he headed for the main desk. There was a woman there, dressed in what was evidently some sort of uniform, her brown, greying hair tied back in a rather severe bun. The smile that she offered Adam was professional, and lacked real warmth.

"Good evening," she said. She sounded very local. Well-educated, he suspected, but not from any particularly auspicious beginnings.

"Good evening. My name is Adamant. I have a reservation."

"Yes, of course." She clicked her fingers to summon another young man – a different livery this time – to collect his case. "Your wife has already checked in, so she has your key. You can go straight up. Room 302."

"My... wife?" A perfect eyebrow arched its way towards his hairline, but he did not question the woman. He had long ago learnt when to ask questions, and when merely to go with the flow. "Yes, well. Thank you. Goodnight, madam."

"Goodnight." Again there was that professional smile, with not a trace of warmth in it. He was quite sure that he could feel her eyes upon his back all the way to the lift. Mercifully the doors opened quickly, hissing closed again almost immediately, to seal him into comparative solitude. The busboy faded discreetly into the background, his breathing all but masked by the whirring of the machinery. Adam took the opportunity to ponder the matter of his unexpectedly acquired spouse. It might be the enemy of course, gaining entry to his room to lay a trap – but given that he would be sure to hear of his 'wife' from the desk clerk, that would be a faulty plan at best. And besides, whoever the intruder was, they were clearly female. That made it highly unlikely that they were up to anything nefarious. He was left with only one real suspect. Flipping the busboy a coin as they left the lift, he walked the rest of the way to room 302 alone, and pushing the door wide, readied his cane just in case.

"Miss Jones?" he asked. She popped up from the sofa, blonde hair still awry from the helmet that lay on the coffee table.

"Mr Adamant!" Her smile vanished, to be replaced with a look of faint petulance. "How did you know I was here?"

"Somebody had collected my key from the front desk, Miss Jones. And who else could it possibly have been?" He advanced into the room, shedding cape and hat, and thrusting his cane into the waiting umbrella stand. "Your grasp of simple English is at times quite disturbingly amiss. I am here on delicate official business! You were to remain behind."

"You were followed!" she protested. "I had to warn you. A big, broad-shouldered bloke on a motorbike. I couldn't see much, what with all the leathers and the helmet, but I saw him under a streetlamp, and he looked roughly the size of King Kong."

"Which is quite frightful, no doubt." He clearly had no idea who King Kong was, and equally clearly had no intention of asking. "But I assure you, Miss Jones, that I was perfectly well aware of his presence from the moment that I left my flat. He was hiding in the car park, and quite inexpertly too I might add. Some hired muscle, I suspect. Nobody of great consequence."

"You... knew?" Her shoulders slumped. "Oh."

"Nevermind, Miss Jones. Your concern is appreciated." He smiled kindly, in a fashion that was so close to being paternal that she almost threw a cushion at him. "But now that you're here, I need for you to keep a low profile. Perhaps in the morning my... dear wife... could disappear on a lengthy shopping trip?"

"No fear! I'm here now, and I'm jolly well staying. I've had time to think about it while I've been waiting for you. You're too well known, Adam. Everybody knows that you live in London, don't they? Why would you even be staying in a hotel unless you're here to watch for something? It's too obvious, and it looks like they're already on to you." She folded her arms. "So I'm staying."

"Indeed." He looked less than thrilled. "My cup runneth over, Miss Jones."

"Mrs Adamant," she corrected him. "We're supposed to be married." A stricken look passed across his face, and his eyes widened in an expression of such obvious horror that she could not help but laugh.

"Don't worry. I shan't be demanding an expensive honeymoon."

"I'm very glad to hear it!" He sat down in the nearest armchair, and peeled off his gloves. "One day, Miss Jones, you will do exactly as you are told, and my life will become immeasurably less complicated."

"And far less interesting," she told him. He glared, but gave no answer. "So what's our first move?"

"For you, bed." He paled slightly. "That is to say... I mean that I... I do not..."

"I know!" She felt almost mean for laughing at his discomfort. "And you?"

"I have a little exploring to do, just as soon as this place has quietened down. I shall wait until one a.m., I fancy, and then take a turn about the corridors, and look for evidence of illicit behaviour."

"If you ask me, that desk clerk is in it up to her neck," said Georgie. "She gave me the creeps."

"A fierce glare is hardly a crime, Miss Jones."

"Just this once, shouldn't you make it Georgina? We might as well play the part."

"In the middle of the night, I fail to see the need."

"Anybody could know which room you're in. This place could easily be bugged."

"In which case, whoever is listening already knows precisely who you are." He arched an eyebrow at her, then rose to his feet. "I spy tea things. A cup, perhaps, whilst we await the appointed hour?"

"I suppose." She was still feeling sulky, but it was hard to remain so whilst watching Adam wrestle with the dual-pronged assault of an electric kettle and a box of teabags. Several minutes, and some frustrated mutterings later, he presented her with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits.

"Just as I think that I have come to terms with your baffling age, Miss Jones, something new always rears its head to confound me further." She giggled, taking a sip of tea, and settling back into the ridiculously comfortable sofa. "I see the attraction of the practicality of course, but to think that the Savoy would stoop to such modern contrivances!"

"I know. Dreadful, isn't it." She regarded a shortbread finger with a hungry eye that bore a very obvious twinkle. Adam sighed.

"Your entire generation is quite without hope, my dear."

"I know." She bit the end off the shortbread finger, and smiled her appreciation. "But look here, Adam. I still don't see why I have to stay behind. Nice though these biscuits are, you can't buy me off with them."

"Miss Jones..." He sighed once again, with a degree of resignation this time, before sitting down in a chair opposite. "One person sneaking about is likely to be suspicious enough; two of us would be sure to be noticed. Especially when one of us is dressed in what looks suspiciously like a set of traffic lights."

"A set of...?" She broke off, her usual good cheer fully restored in a burst of delighted laughter. "This is fashionable gear, I'll have you know. I saved up for weeks to buy this."

"Indeed." This time both of his eyebrows darted heavenward. "Nonetheless, I fail to see how one can attempt to accomplish secretive nocturnal endeavours whilst shining more brightly than Piccadilly Circus."

"Oh, Mr Adamant." She folded her arms and glared, albeit still with the twinkle in her eyes. "What do you expect to find, anyway? That missing politician?"

"Perhaps. Rooms being used for something other than paying guests. Communications equipment. Anybody bearing arms."

"Or speaking Russian!" she suggested. He shook his head.

"I don't expect anything so demonstrative. If we are dealing with spies, they're far more likely to be English traitors. And traitors, Miss Jones, have reason to be a good deal more desperate and dangerous than anybody else. So––"

"So I should stay here and drink tea and eat biccies, and be a good little girl."

"I'm sure that I wouldn't have put it quite like that. But in essence, yes." He sipped his own tea, watching her speculatively over the cup. She couldn't see his mouth, but she could tell that he was smiling. "Your courage does both you and your country credit, Miss Jones. But we all must serve where we are most suited. Now." He pulled out his pocket watch. "It's gone half past midnight. I shall take a turn about the exterior, and see if I can spot my leather-clad shadow lurking about. By the time I have finished that, it should be after one, and time that I was investigating this establishment more fully. I shall report back here every hour, on the hour. If by chance I should not..."

"I should come to rescue you!" she said cheerfully, well aware that he had not been going to say anything of the sort. Predictably, he glared.

"If by chance I should not report in as scheduled, wait to see if I am merely late, and then telephone for Simms. He will contact the Ministry, and they will decide if any action is to be taken. As well as who is to take it."

"Yes, Mr Adamant," she told him, as meekly and dutifully as she could manage. He frowned at her, clearly suspecting that something was up, and her well behaved act fell apart immediately in a fit of giggles. "Oh, don't worry. I'm not a total fool, you know. I have no intention of taking on the whole of the KGB single-handed. Probably."

"Yes. Well." He retrieved his cane, pulling on the handle slightly to check the catch that released the secret blade. "I shall see you soon."

"And don't forget that Simms is expecting you for breakfast," she reminded him. He nodded.

"Naturally. Good night, Miss Jones." With that he was gone, striding out of the door with all the innate sense of drama that was so particularly his. Georgie stared after him, thoughts a jumble of irritation and concern – and then, with nothing else to do, she fell nervously to pacing.

**********

She paced from the sofa to the windows and back again. She paced from the door to the sofa for a while, just for the change of scenery. She paced from the door to the window, and from the window to the bathroom, and from the bathroom back to the door. She almost laughed at herself. Adam knew what he was doing, and could fight better than most – hadn't he proved that many times, including on dozens of occasions long before she had even been born? Certainly she had had to come to his rescue quite often, but that didn't make him any less capable. She was a fool for worrying. Attempting to shrug off her concerns, she investigated the room's many little luxuries. The bed was gigantic, and extremely bouncy; the pillows were the deepest and softest that she had ever encountered, and she sprawled in queenly luxury for several minutes, until her restlessness got the better of her again. The carpet was deep and fluffy – perfect for agitated pacing, and she grumbled inwardly to herself when she realised that she had fallen back into that habit. It was all too easy to do.

The window offered a wonderful view over the bright lights of a city that was as determined as she not to relax. For a while she watched neon signs flash, and endless headlights chasing each other in their neatly ordered lines. After that she tested each of the chairs, to see which was the most comfortable, investigated the impressive depth of the gigantic cupboards that flanked the bed, and then caught herself pacing again, and grumbled into the feather-stuffed throw cushion that she had not realised she was hugging. This was no way to spend a night. She considered pouring herself a glass of wine from the bar, but decided against it. In Adam Adamant's world, one needed to keep one's wits about one. The little tray of tea things seemed more appropriate, and she made herself another cup, lining up the biscuits, and wondering which to eat, and which she might save for Adam. He would want something, after all that prowling about the dark corridors.

The thought brought her mind back to the passage of time, and suddenly it seemed as though many hours had passed since he had left. She knew that a part of that was due to her boredom and restlessness, but still it seemed as though he had been gone for too long. She had been studiously avoiding looking at her watch, just as carefully as she had been avoiding the gaze of the imposing pendulum clock on the wall opposite the door. She looked up at it now, unable to resist any longer, and felt a coldness spreading through her when she saw the time. A quarter past two. He had been due to report in on the hour, and that had been and gone. She should wait, he had told her. Be sure that he was not merely late. Certainly there were any number of things that might have delayed him. But how long was long enough to wait, and how long was too long? A lot could happen in fifteen minutes. A man could easily die in significantly less.

But should she call Simms? What if the telephone were bugged? And how long would the Ministry take to come to the rescue, always supposing that they came at all? And what if she had been right earlier, when she had suggested that the room itself might be bugged? If something really had happened to Adam, then his enemies might be coming for her – might be approaching even now, as she dithered here, wondering what course of action to take. Obligingly, something in the room creaked, and she jumped like a startled hare.

"It's easy enough to agree to something before it actually happens," she told the clock, and the biscuit in her hand – and, perhaps, some unseen eavesdropper. Then she bit the biscuit in half, took a quick, fortifying sip of tea, and hurried from the room. Adam could shout at her later – just as soon as she was sure that he was safe.

**********

She could hear the whir of an elevator, and choosing discretion as the better part of valour, headed for the stairs. Shadows and the inevitable sounds of the night conspired to make her jump half a dozen times, but she closed her mind to them as best she could, and tried to focus on the most immediate issue – how to going about finding Adam. Where precisely did one search for vanished adventurers – and vanished politicians for that matter – in a hotel the size of the Savoy? There were no footprints to follow here. No trail of breadcrumbs either.

"Come on, Georgie," she whispered, glaring fiercely into the dim light of the stairwell. There was inspiration here somewhere; there had to be. Somewhere in the murk and the quiet, she had to find herself an answer. It came to her in a flash so sudden and unexpected that she almost gasped. The missing politician! Adam would have gone to his room first, surely. It would have been cleaned of course, but was still the best place to begin a search for clues. Adam would be sure of his own ability to find something there, overlooked by the police, and by whoever was behind the disappearance. Adam never seemed to doubt himself – and now she must follow his lead. Her thoughts cleared. Confidence, that was the key. Self belief. Self belief and a certain degree of sneakiness. Adam had not shared with her the politician's identity but, always with an eye for adventure, she had noted a distinctly familiar name in the hotel register when she had signed in. Such little details were worth noting – a girl never knew when she might be called upon to assist in a little skulduggery. Room 112, then. That was where she must begin.

**********

She reached the first floor in a flurry of overly fast feet, and a brain that seemed to lag several steps behind them. There was nobody in sight. It was a hotel, though – she was painfully aware that many of those innocuous-looking doors were hiding unknown people. Innocent holidaymakers? Important businessmen? Spies, cutthroats, thieves? She forced herself to approach the door to 112 as quietly and steadily as possible. How would Adam do this? The thought made her smile. He would stride up to the door, all calm confidence, and probably throw it open wide, with his cape billowing in the breeze. She didn't feel up to emulating him; and somehow she didn't think that her entrance would have quite the same effect. Instead she stood outside the door, and listened carefully.

There were certainly people on the other side. Would the hotel have returned the room to normal use following the disappearance of a guest? She doubted it; not so soon. Suspicious, she listened hard. The buzz of conversation that filtered through the thick wood was barely intelligible, and she frowned at the door in annoyance. This all had to have happened at the Savoy of course. What was wrong with a nice, downmarket hotel with cheap doors? There was only one thing for it. Hoping for a little of the Adamant luck – the good sort, not the predilection for danger and head injuries – she gently pressed the handle down, and eased the door open. Just a little. Just enough for one eye, and the chance to hear what was going on.

"... doing here?" somebody was asking. They were clearly angry. She tried to see them, but all that her crack in the door could show her was a hand holding a whisky glass. A large hand, white, with a gigantic signet ring that flashed like a miniature discotheque. She wasn't sure if the hand belonged to the angry voice.

"It doesn't matter," said a second voice. Younger, she thought. More confident. "It's dealt with now, isn't it. Whoever sent him will never know if he found anything out. With luck the whole thing will eventually blow over."

"Or they'll send somebody else."

"Perhaps." Georgie could practically hear a careless shrug. Not the voice of the whisky glass hand then. That had barely moved. "And if necessary we'll deal with somebody else as well. You worry too much, Nicholas."

"He checked in with a wife. I suppose it's possible he was here innocently?"

"Possibly, although I doubt it. It hardly matters, anyway. As soon as we had Adamant dealt with, I sent somebody up to take care of her. Probably being done as we speak. I decided we only needed him for questioning, and I imagine that he knows more anyway. They'll be fishing his wife out of the Thames with the early tide."

Outside the door, it was all that Georgie could do not to gasp. She pulled the door a little more closed, the better to be sure of not being noticed, and tried to keep her mind steady and focused. She had been right not to wait upstairs. Reflexively she glanced over her shoulder. Whoever had been sent on that errand would have found her missing by now, and perhaps be on his way back. The corridor was empty, but she was painfully aware of the lack of cover. Unless she was prepared to dive into a stranger's room – quite possibly locked at this time of night anyway – she would be a sitting duck should the lift arrive. The stairwell was too far away for an escape that came without warning, and the swinging doors and persistent echo might just as well have been on the side of her enemies anyway. Her heart hammered in protest, but she remained at her post. She had to learn a little more. She had to know where to find Adam.

"... cold-hearted business," one of the men was saying when she returned her attention to their conversation. "Must you enjoy it quite so much?"

"It's not enjoyment exactly. It just needs to be done. I doubt she'll feel much. Crabbe is very efficient, I assure you. Anyway, you won't have to see her."

"Thank heaven for small mercies. And Adamant?"

"He was supposed to die sixty odd years ago, if the stories about him are true. I don't suppose there's anybody left to miss him." A brief chuckle of laughter, altogether too real and merry for Georgie's liking. "Certainly not his wife."

"You're a bit of a bastard on the quiet, Charles."

"I do what I have to do, to keep this moving along. If not for me, this whole operation would have juddered to a halt when that infernal politician got drunk, and managed to open the wrong door. And imagine losing everything to something as ridiculous as that! Instead I managed to turn it all about. The authorities think this is all about espionage; you can bet your twelve-year-old malt on it. That's why they called for Adamant, and he'll tell us as much once we've worked on him a little, you'll see. When we've finished, they'll still be barking up the wrong tree. Hell, they'll be barking up a whole damn forest of trees, probably arguing it all out with the Russians, or the Chinese, or whoever they're least friendly towards this week." There was a bubble of laughter again. "I'll have to make sure that I shoot Adamant with the right sort of bullet. Just as well that I'm a collector, isn't it."

"It had better all be worth it, that's all."

"It will be. Now go check up on Adamant. I have to call in and deliver an update."

"He'll still be unconscious. The way you hit him, I'll be amazed if he wakes up at all."

"Given his reputation, he could wake up and escape all too easily. I'm not losing him. Not when we're so close. This time tomorrow, Nicholas. This time tomorrow, even your wildest fantasies will be within your means. Hold that thought. And go and check on Adamant."

"Fine." Georgie heard the chink as the whisky glass hit a tray, and quickly pulled the door closed, bolting like a rabbit for the stairwell door. She had no idea if Adam was being kept elsewhere, or within that very suite, but she did not intend to take unnecessary risks. Dragging the door shut to combat the swing, she kept as still as she could. Her heart was still thudding in her chest, and it seemed to echo around the stairwell, the sound bouncing back at her from the metal rails and the featureless walls. When the hotel room door banged open a second later, she once again had to keep from gasping, and perhaps giving herself away. She was faced with a conundrum now, she realised. Should she follow, and find Adam, or should she stay to listen to whatever communication was underway back in the room, and fill in the last few holes of this unpleasant story? She decided to find Adam. With two of them, things would look brighter, she was sure. They surely stood a far better chance as a team than they did apart.

She edged quietly out of the stairwell, following Nicholas at a distance, pressed against the wall all of the way. She kept expecting to hear the approach of the lift – for Charles to follow – for Nicholas to turn around. Instead all remained quiet. Her heart was in her mouth when Nicholas at last slowed by a door at the end of the corridor. He seemed to listen for a moment, then pulled a key from his pocket, rattled it briefly in the lock, and opened the door. Georgie hoped to hear Adam's rich, confident voice calling out a challenge, but there was nothing. She hurried closer, a thousand and one ideas crowding her brain, most of them worse than useless. Over Nicholas's shoulder she saw a dingy linen cupboard, the walls lined with shelves stacked high with sheets and towels. On the floor, trussed up and gagged, and glaring as only Adam Adamant could, lay her friend. She was quite sure that the glare was meant as much for her as it was for the enemy. She had disobeyed instructions again. The thought brought a smile that immediately broadened when her eyes fell upon the ironing board folded against the wall, and the iron standing ready on a shelf just beside it. Perfect. Sidling into the room, she picked up the iron, closed her eyes, and swung it hard. Nicholas dropped like a stone.

"Mmmpff!" said Adam through his gag. Georgie opened her eyes a trifle gingerly, half afraid to see what she had done to Nicholas's head. There was no blood, however. She was half sure that she heard a sort of snore.

"Mmpff!" said Adam, a trifle more urgently. She hurried to him, pulling out the gag, and setting to work on the ropes – or rather, as it turned out, the artfully twisted pillowcases. She carried a pocket knife with her nowadays, for just such eventualities, and the pillowcases gave in with good grace.

"Miss Jones," Adam greeted her, as he rose fluidly to his feet and straightened his tie. "I find myself in your debt."

"My pleasure." She smiled cheekily. "It's almost a hobby."

"Quite." There was a trace of hurt pride in his voice perhaps, but he took it in good humour – as far as it was possible to tell. He did not often smile, but she had come to know him well enough to read his moods without such visual cues. "Although I hardly find it likely that the Ministry considered you the best person for the job."

"I didn't exactly call them," she said, somewhat redundantly. He arched an eyebrow.

"Really, Miss Jones? You do surprise me."

"And it's just as well that I didn't! They sent somebody up to the room to murder me!" She heard the outrage in her voice, and was momentarily surprised by it. She was quite offended, she realised. It wasn't just scary to hear your murder being planned – it stung, like the sharpest of insults.

"Quite an affront to the senses, is it not," said Adam, seemingly understanding how she felt. She nodded, and looked down at the recumbent Nicholas with a little more relish.

"The other one is back in room 112," she said, remembering suddenly. "He was calling some of their people. Their employers, I think. That's what it sounded like. We should get back there and listen in."

"There's no rush, Miss Jones. I am quite well informed as to their plan. I had heard a good deal of it before I was struck down – from behind, the fiends! – and I recovered my senses without them realising it. This fellow here––" he nudged the unfortunate Nicholas with the toe of an immaculate shoe – "talks far too much, both to my gain and his undoing."

"Then you know that they're not spies?" asked Georgie, a little crestfallen. Adam nodded.

"Cheap crooks. Although England may sleep more soundly for knowing that this is no nest of vipers after all, I confess I am somewhat disappointed." His lip curled in displeasure. "They plan to rob the safe here at the Savoy. They have already killed at least one man to secure their secret. We should consider nothing beyond them."

"So what's the plan?" she asked, certain that, for her, it would be to remain in the linen cupboard. He frowned, his beetle brows showing exactly what he intended for this latest band of wrongdoers.

"We begin by rendering this fellow even more helpless than by your most excellent blow, Miss Jones. Perhaps you would care to do the honours?"

"Since you mention it..." She copied the gang's example, using the cupboard's copious linen supply, and wrapping the supine Nicholas almost as securely as a mummy. The unconscious man was beginning to show signs of movement by the time she was done, so she stuffed a good sized piece of towelling into his mouth as a finishing touch. Adam arched an eyebrow, and offered her a rare smile of approval.

"Excellent knot work. Is there a seaman in the family?"

"Girl Guides," she told him, well aware that he had likely never heard of the group. "We should go. Do you know how many people there are to deal with?"

"I saw four men, one of whom is our friend here."

"So, three left that we know about then." She straightened up, wiping her hands on her clothing as though to rid them of any trace of Nicholas. Adam's smile grew a little, a familiar, rather cold glint showing brightly in his eyes.

"Not exactly, Miss Jones. I killed one of them earlier."

"Two then." She remembered the names that she had overheard. "Charles and Crabbe. And whoever is on the other end of that telephone call, of course."

"The leader of this band of sorry miscreants, yes. A guest at the hotel, and on this very floor as it happens. We will deal with him in his turn. Firstly I propose rounding up his gang, as soon as proves possible." He hesitated. "Perhaps you would care to stand guard here, and make sure that this fellow does not escape?"

"No fear!" She folded her arms. "It's two against one otherwise, and you're not armed."

"Hmm." His earlier good humour faded. "With respect, Miss Jones, if I have to watch out for you..."

"Then don't." She turned her back on him, and headed for the door. "You keep guard, if you're worried."

"Miss Jones!" He hurried after her, overtaking once they were out in the corridor. "These are likely desperate men. A little caution would not go amiss. There may easily be other members of the gang that we know nothing about."

"Inside men perhaps," she mused, and he nodded gravely.

"I fear so. Even as august an institution as this grand old hotel cannot be immune to the temptations of iniquity. There may indeed be members of staff who are assisting these fiends."

"Then anybody could be a suspect."

"Anybody who is moving about at this time of night, most certainly."

"Is it worth finding a phone, and calling the police?"

"Perhaps." He seemed to consider it. "But all telephone calls leaving the hotel will have to pass through a switchboard, I believe? That much at least has not changed since my day?"

"I don't know. Telephones aren't really my thing. It seems likely though, yes."

"And if everybody is to be suspect, then that must include whoever operates the switchboard. No, Miss Jones, we must deal with this ourselves." She smiled at his choice of words, even if the situation was potentially dire, and he admonished her with a glare.

"This is not a game, Miss Jones. Neither is it one of your adventure novels."

"But you said 'ourselves'. It's only taken the best part of a year, but you're finally admitting that I exist."

"Oh, I know very well that you exist, Miss Jones." He slowed his pace suddenly, drawing her to a halt beside him, and raising his hand to his lips in a call for silence. She frowned a question, but he shook his head, pulling her flat against the wall. They were near no corners, no crossroads or stairwells, so the wall provided precious little cover, and for a moment she was quite baffled – until she heard, very faintly, a voice coming from nearby. Somebody, in one of the myriad rooms, was awake and talking. Not so very suspicious in itself perhaps, but she strained her ears to hear all the same.

"Three o'clock," the somebody was saying, bombastic and over-confident, as though he had no care for how the sound might carry so late at night. "No, you heard right. Three o'clock." The next few sentences were largely unintelligible, and Georgie was about to suggest that they try opening the door, as she had done at room 112. Adam seemed intent upon listening however, and she pressed her ear to the wall instead.

"I don't care if Adamant and his wife are dead, buried and fired into space on the next Sputnik, Charles. They knew that something was up, which means that somebody else knows as well." There was a muffled burst of an argument, and Georgie saw Adam's eyebrows leap skyward at a choice of vocabulary that she was suddenly sorry she had failed to catch. "...I told you that that politician would mean trouble. You should have tried to buy him off." There was a pause, followed by a short grunt of a laugh. "He was a politician. They're all buyable, one way or another. Now, we must get this done as soon as possible, and clear up the mess. Have Crabbe deal with Nicholas. The man's a liability. We'll deal with Crabbe ourselves once the job's done. You have somebody on staff too, yes?" Another pause, another grunt of mirthless laughter, another jumble of uncatchable words. "...Yes, well. I leave that up to you. Deal with it though. I'll be on the roof, getting ready for the helicopter. By the time the staff realise that it isn't some rich sheikh arriving, we'll be halfway to France."

"They're robbing the safe tonight!" whispered Georgie, eyes wide. She could feel her heart begin to race again, charged with equal parts urgency and excitement. "We have to stop them!"

"Indeed, Miss Jones, indeed." Adam's eyes had gone narrow and hard, his mouth a thin, dark line that suggested a cold and unyielding determination. "We must act fast if we are to round up the gang. Can I count upon your support? For once without any questions?"

"I..." She wanted to protest, certain that he was just going to shuffle her off out of the way again, but something about that cold, hard look upon his face stilled her objections. She nodded. "Yes, of course."

"Good. It appears that the robbery is about to take place, but that the leader of the operation will simultaneously be co-ordinating the getaway on the roof. We risk the threat of capturing the lieutenant and his underlings, but missing the general. It would not take much to make him suspect, or panic, and flee on that helicopter. One of us must take the gang, and one of us must get to that roof and prevent his escape. You do see that?"

"Yes. I... yes." If her heart had been racing before, it was positively pounding now. Adam grew even more serious, although she would hardly have thought that possible.

"The gang must be made up of at least two men. Quite possibly more. I cannot send you after them, and so I must ask you to go up to the roof, and quickly. We clearly have very little time. See what you can do to thwart that man's plans; but have a care, Miss Jones. Do not place yourself in harm's way unnecessarily. These are base thieves. There is no great glory in their apprehension."

"I'll do whatever I can." Her mouth felt dry, and she felt a strange sense of cold seeping into her stomach. He nodded, a ghost of a wry smile twisting one side of his mouth.

"That is precisely what I am afraid of."

She pouted, a show of mock offence in an attempt to lighten the situation. "You look after yourself. I'll look after me. And I... never mind." She was no good at words anyway. Maybe she didn't need to be. With a twitch of a smile, she hurried away, aware of the hawk-like eyes upon her back until the stairwell doors had closed, and she was alone. Alone, excited – and, she was annoyed to discover, very much afraid. Still, he had trusted her with a job, and that meant more than she had ever expected. She couldn't let him down. She would not let him down. Brain racing, heart pounding, she hurried on up the stairs. She only wished that she had some idea of what to do next.

**********

The roof was empty. A few potted plants stood about at the edges, no doubt tended by some anonymous member of staff. A crisp packet blew in a surprisingly chill wind. Nothing else was in evidence. It was a big, empty space, ideal for landing a helicopter. But what should she do? Jump up and down, and tell the pilot to go away? The thought made her smile briefly, until she remembered that the man they had overheard was on his way up as well. He certainly wouldn't stand for anybody bouncing up and down, threatening his escape route. She wondered if he would shoot her, or opt for something more personal. The thought made her shiver, and she shook herself, determined not to give in to such destructive thoughts. Nothing bad would happen. She was going to do this, and she was going to do it well.

Across the rooftop, a door banged open, and she saw a flash of torchlight. Quickly she made for cover. It wasn't much – just a large pot housing a conifer tree, but she was not big, and the new arrival was not expecting company. He was carrying a number of large lamps, black and ungainly, dangling from his hands and his arms. The noise that they made was fearsome, a loud arhythmic clanking as they banged against each other with each step. The torch was in his mouth, and its light bounced up and down as he moved, flashing a discordant harmony with the clanking. It was clear that he had no fear of being seen. He was not even trying to be secretive.

Silently she watched him from her hiding place. It was obvious that he had scouted out the rooftop in advance, and he made straight for the most open space available. Once there he began to light the lamps. A match for each one, the lights hesitant at first, then flaring up brightly as he closed each glass door. He arranged them in a large circle – beacon enough for any helicopter, thought Georgie – then stared up into the sky. She stared too, but could see nothing. Only when she was beginning to get a crick in her neck, her shoulders and knees grumbling at her awkward position, did she see something faintly in the distance. And was that an engine drone? Not the familiar hum of a car or a motorbike, nor the buzz of a far-off 'plane. This was sharper, fiercer – and growing louder. She drew in a shaky breath. Time was wasting. She was accomplishing nothing hiding in the shadows. She might not know what to do, but it was clear that she had to do something; so, in the absence of better ideas, she did the only thing that she could think of – and with eyes open wide, she stepped out of the shadows and approached her oblivious enemy.

"Hi there!" She might have preferred something better as an opener – something witty, perhaps, or sharp, or something that could show the man in an instant that she was a force to be reckoned with. In the event, just that simple hail was enough to startle him. He spun around so fast that he almost lost his footing, blinking at her stupidly, and clearly too taken aback to make any sort of a move.

"So this is the roof, huh?" She grinned like some over eager tourist, going to the edge and staring out at the overly lit city, praying all the while that he wasn't getting any ideas about throwing her over. "It's so groovy! All those lights! What a whizzo view, don't you think?"

"You're not allowed up here." He recovered his voice and his poise as one, straightening up, clearing his throat, hands reflexively checking the knot on his soberly-striped tie. "Staff only, I'm afraid."

"Oh golly, I shan't get into trouble, shall I? Or get you into any trouble? Only I saw an open door, and I wondered... I just got back from the West End, and I couldn't possibly sleep." She performed a quick twirl, humming something that she couldn't entirely place, but that sounded suitably theatrical. She had an idea that it was one of Simms' frequent ditties, so it was probably hopelessly outdated, but it still seemed a safer bet than the Rolling Stones. She clasped her hands together suddenly, as though an idea had leapt jubilantly to life.

"Say, can I buy you a drink? I know the bar'll be closed, but a coffee maybe? It's such a shame to sleep the night away, don't you think? And you are kind of cute. I mean, in a mature sort of way."

"I'm afraid you'll have to go downstairs, miss. And I'm working." He sounded polite, but she was quite sure that there was an edge to his voice; something that she recognised because she was listening for it, terrified beneath her calm exterior. He might snap at any moment, she knew – especially now that that fierce, sharp engine sound was growing ever more obvious; now that lights were sweeping inevitably closer across the sky. Her death had already been ordered once by this gang, discussed quite calmly and with humour. This man would have no qualms about killing her now if he had the slightest idea who she was – or even if he didn't, and she was merely in his way. The fact that getting in his way was precisely what she was going to have to do did little for her nerves. She summoned a goofy smile, tripping towards him as though slightly the worse for drink.

"Oh, sure. Absolutely. I'll get out of your hair right away. Say, is that a helicopter? Wowee! It is, isn't it! I'll bet that's why you're up here! Some big star is coming to stay here, and is arriving by helicopter!"

"Miss..." This time there was no mistaking the hard edge in his voice, and anybody save an overly-excited and slightly drunk tourist would have been able to hear it. She reeled just a little, tottering as though on too high heels, as the lights of the helicopter suddenly flooded the rooftop. Close enough to see by now – bright circles adding colour to the hot white of the beacon – they flashed patterns on the gangleader's face, illuminating an ugly display of fury and contempt. She swallowed at the sight, courage momentarily deserting her, before gathering her nerve and throwing caution to the wind. There was simply no time to be afraid. With a giggle that came as much from nerves and fear as from acting out her role, she tripped and lumbered forward. The gang leader bellowed something in a fury, but it was lost beneath the roar of the helicopter. She ignored him. Thinking too much now would surely be fatal.

Staggering onward, still laughing drunkenly, she was amongst the beacon lights before there was time for her enemy to react – and then, quick as a flash, she kicked out, shattering one lamp, grabbing two more, hurling them with all of her strength from the roof, with barely a thought for where they might land. She kicked at a fourth light, in a frenzy now, desperate to cause as much damage as she could before she was stopped. Another light smashed, another – footsteps crunching towards her on broken lantern glass – another light gone – and then the helicopter was swooping low, hesitating, the pilot clearly weighing up his chances of a blind landing. A cold and ferocious wind wrapped her hair into knots, threatening to steal the air from her lungs, making her want to curl up on the roof and protect her head. And then, suddenly, it was gone. The helicopter leapt skyward, the roar fading, the lights diminishing to nothing. The silence was a wonderful relief.

For a moment. As Georgie drew in a deep, shaky breath, trying to get used to the greatly diminished visibility, trying to get her jumbled and racing thoughts in order, from far down below came the sound of a police siren. It was answered by a second and a third, and Georgie allowed herself a hopeful smile. Had Adam called in the cavalry? If so then she had been just in time. Without the helicopter, the gang leader would be trapped, and it was all down to her. Beneath her pride, the thought made her stomach churn. She had been so busy thinking about how to thwart an escape, that she had not stopped to think of what would happen after. For the moment the gang leader was distracted, waving helplessly at the departing pilot, a stream of invective flooding from his lips that would have made Adam's eyes pop out. Georgie paused only for a second, then darted towards the door. Her enemy reacted instantly.

"Oh no you don't." He rushed towards her, feet skidding on the broken glass, but his balance regained quickly. Too quickly. He was closer to the door than her, and he was going to cut her off – she saw that as plainly as she saw him, lit by the one remaining lantern. He was drawing a gun – a heavy, chunky, black thing, ugly to her eyes, and brutal. There was nowhere to hide, no suitable cover, no sanctuary. She ground to a halt, staring at the gun in horrified fascination. It was coarse somehow – there was none of the elegance of Adam's sword-stick, its owner showing none of Adam's grace and finesse. Breathless, she held his gaze and bit her lip. She didn't want to panic. She didn't want to show fear. She hoped that she was not, for all that he was unlikely to notice. He smiled. She saw it all quite clearly then, in her mind's eye – clearly, and with a striking sense of calm. Him pulling the trigger, with that same, smug sort of smile. Her falling into a heap on the rooftop, her beautiful pink and orange stripes made grubby by the bird muck, the rotted leaves, and spilled compost. She couldn't think of anything to say. And then, quite suddenly, there was a gunshot. She jumped – and there was Adam in the doorway, a trail of smoke drifting lazily from the barrel of some borrowed gun. The gangleader gave a funny sort of jerk, the smile vanishing from his face. He tottered briefly, almost as Georgie had done when pretending to be drunk; then he fell, and moved no more. Adam crossed to him quickly, prodding at him with one foot, then kicked away the fallen gun just to be sure, and offered Georgie a cheerful smile.

"I do hope that I am not intruding, Miss Jones."

"No." She sagged from the relief, her smile breathless and happy, and just a gnat's whisker away from teetering into tears. "No, not at all. Thank you, Mr Adamant."

"My pleasure. The rest of the gang is dealt with. The police, as you have probably surmised, are just arriving. I think our work here is done." He was looking about as he spoke, and she could see his sharp eyes taking in the smashed lanterns, marking the remnants of a shattered circle that had once been a beacon. He arched an eyebrow. "And I see that it has been good work. Very good work indeed."

"The helicopter pilot got away," she said, a little feebly. He nodded.

"That was to be expected. He was very likely nothing to do with the gang, and was merely hired for the occasion. At any rate, he can be traced easily enough, I imagine, should the police wish to pursue the matter." He frowned, eyeing his young companion thoughtfully. "You appear a trifle shaken. Might I offer you my coat?"

"No. Thank you, but..." She managed a smile that looked rather more like her usual one. "But I'll be fine now. It was just a bit... tense for a moment."

"Yes, quite. And you have my profound apologies. I would have arrived sooner, but events downstairs rather escaped me momentarily." His dark features took on an expression of mild disgust. "You were quite right about the desk clerk. Do you know, Miss Jones, that she attempted to shoot me in the back? In the back! Had I not caught a glimpse of her reflection in my shoe leather, I fancy I should not be here now." He tutted briefly under his breath. "Remind me to pass on my compliments to Simms. His polishing skills are quite the life saver."

"I never thought that I would owe my life to Simms' elbow." Taken by a sudden fit of the giggles, Georgie had a job to control them when she caught sight of Adam's perennially exasperated expression. "Sorry. Still, she didn't shoot you, and that man didn't shoot me, and here we are."

"Indeed." Adam granted her a brief, and truly warm, smile. "And now I have a mind to spend what remains of the night in my own home. Might I escort you somewhere?"

"Down to that nice big suite, perhaps?" she asked mischeviously. His eyebrow arched once again.

"A suite paid for by Her Majesty's Government, Miss Jones?"

"Well it's not as though they can only pay for half the night, is it." She surprised herself by realising that it really was where she wanted to be, with that giant, soft bed, and that inviting little tea tray bearing its serried ranks of biscuits. One short night of luxury, after everything that she had been through. The government owed her that much, didn't they? Especially since they would never even know of her involvement, let alone ever hear of her name. Adam frowned, then nodded slowly.

"Indeed, Miss Jones. Indeed. Very well, downstairs it is. And if you would care to join us in the morning, Simms and I will be glad to see you for breakfast."

"I might decide to have breakfast here," she said with a smile. "After all, the government is paying." His eyes widened with disapproval.

"I shall instruct the staff not to serve you," he said, and she couldn't help but laugh at his very real offence. Good old Adam and his standards. They might be thick with dust and cobwebs, but they made a nice contrast to the men that she had seen tonight. Men who would have killed her without a thought, and let her body drift away with the Thames.

"Oh, Mr Adamant..." she said fondly, and linking an arm through his, she began to lead the way back down the stairs.



The End


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