One in a Minion: Chapter Four - Meeting His Heroes (Part Two)
Two days later, Fleetwood walked beside Indigo and Idris as they escorted him through LAFTAW HQ to his new residence – carrying a cobbled-together care package in his arms.
With its papered walls, laminate and carpeted floors, various vases of flowers and paintings hanging here and there, his new home appeared to resemble an everyday office block rather than what he imagined a spy headquarters would look like. Then again, looks could be deceiving. Perhaps pulling the right tome off of a bookcase in the reading room would reveal a laboratory. Maybe nudging that oil painting of a cow in a field outside of the toilets would open up a route to an armoury. The environment's utter plainness only served to make it more conspicuous.
"What's my roommate's name?" Fleetwood hastily remembered to ask - in between staring at the humdrum facilities around him and pondering what secrets they held.
"Chris Prendergast," Idris answered.
"Not exactly. He does work with LAFTAW, but it's more of a... mutual partnership."
They were now walking down a particularly long corridor, which contained dozens of doors only a few feet apart from each other. Each was adorned with a Roman numeral. As the trio reached the mahogany portal marked "XIV", Indigo reached for the door handle tentatively, turning to Fleetwood.
"Are you sure you don't want to take the mask off?" he asked cautiously. "Chris might be a bit put out by it."
"I... I still don't feel ready," he answered timidly. "Not just yet."
"All right. Let's go and say hello."
Indigo opened the door, and ushered Fleetwood inside.
Both the carpet and the walls of Room Fifteen were green, with matching curtains framing what at first appeared to be a window, but was in fact a video screen with an artificial city view – giving the room a more homely feel. The main furnishings were two wooden bunks, with metal lockers standing at their ends.
One bunk was freshly made and completely untouched. On the other – posters scattered around his portion of the wall, rock music quietly playing from a stereo on a side table – sat Chris Prendergast, dumbbell in hand as he counted out bicep curls. He was a toned, well-built man with sunkissed skin, and slick gelled blond hair. As the agents led Fleetwood into the room, he glanced up at them, and welcomed them with a movie star grin.
Fleetwood stifled a gasp.
"Well, well," Chris said warmly. "Look who it is. My favourite bookworm, and the world's most charming Welshman."
Idris turned to face the corner hurriedly, embarrassed and giggling under his breath. As Indigo looked at him, he could just about see the reddening blush crossing Idris' cheeks – the hint of a satisfied smile on his lips. He seemed more like a giddy schoolboy than a secret agent.
Fleetwood noticed this too. He allowed himself a peek into Idris' thoughts for a moment - but then hurriedly brought his own mind back out. It had become apparent that, right now, Idris needed his privacy.
Ah. So that's what was going on with him.
Chris' joviality didn't last for long. As he spotted the third visitor, his smile faded into a look of shock and irritation. Fleetwood shivered. The whole room suddenly felt far colder. Did they need to turn the heating up?
"That's a minion," Chris barked gruffly. "What's a minion doing in here?"
"It's OK, Chris," Indigo said hurriedly, since Idris was still enjoying his ecstatic moment. "Calm down. He's with us now. Fleetwood, this is Chris Prendergast… also known as –"
"Captain Perfect!" Fleetwood cried excitedly. "You're the Captain Perfect!"
"Oh – so you've heard of me, then, minion?" Chris asked, more proud than humbled.
"You're a legend!" Fleetwood answered. "One of the Great One's greatest enemies!"
"One of? I thought I was his main rival!"
"Actually, I think the Chief takes that title," Idris quipped, finally calm and able to face his complimenting comrade.
"If a minion child refuses to misbehave, they get told Captain Perfect will come and turn them into a sidekick!" Fleetwood went on, babbling excitedly like a fanboy.
"So, you are a minion."
"Former minion," Idris insisted. "Fleetwood is the only reason we got out of that complex alive."
"Well, you should have just called me."
"We work with Chris now and again," Indigo explained to Fleetwood, taking him aside. "He usually provides backup when we're dealing with larger attacks. Monster invasions, raids on cities, that kind of affair. I guess you could say LAFTAW's mission is to prevent these things, but Chris comes in to help us deal with the occasional evil plot that slips through the net. In return, we help protect his secret identity, and he gets to live here rent-free. It's part of the Superhero Support Agreement."
"A bit like the Minion Amnesty Agreement," Fleetwood answered, talking a little too loudly.
"What did you just say?" Chris asked sharply.
"He's here under an amnesty agreement, Chris," Indigo told him. "That's why he's going to be moving into this room – "
"Oh no you don't!" Chris snapped. "He's not staying in here!"
"It's just until the apprentices have gone back to their own bases."
"I don't give a damn! He's still wearing his mask, for God's sake! You're not putting this minion anywhere near me!"
"Ex-minion!" the target of conversation suddenly shouted. "And my name is Fleetwood."
Chris stared at him, stunned into silence by this outburst.
"I surrendered to these two," Fleetwood went on. "We helped each other escape. When I was made into a minion, I was only a tiny baby. An innocent child, corrupted to The Great One's will. The mask they gave me has been my identity my entire life. When they find the one they stole from me, it will come off – OK?"
Chris hung his head, unable to offer any retort.
"I am not just some mindless drone," Fleetwood continued. "I have a conscience. I can think for myself. I am willing to do everything I can to prove I'm trustworthy. I signed their agreement. And I even took a bullet for Agent Carew. So please, tell me – what more would you like me to do, Captain Perfect?"
"He can stay," he muttered begrudgingly. "Until a room comes free."
Fleetwood put his supplies down on the free bunk, and took a seat next to it without saying one word – looking Chris straight in the eyes defiantly as he claimed his territory. Idris went and sat beside him, glaring at Chris as he passed him by. Even as a clear fan and friend of the hero's, he seemed put out by the altercation.
"Chris can be a little… arrogant at times," Idris whispered in Fleetwood's ear, cupping his hand to his mouth to allow them some privacy. "What with his powers and all, he thinks he's invincible – which in his mind, makes him better than everyone else. But remember, at the end of the day, he is on our side."
"Well, you certainly like him. I noticed that earlier."
"He's a flatterer. Uses nice words to win me over. He knows that I find him attractive, you see."
"Oh – I know. I read your mind."
"What?! Stay out of there!"
"Sorry. I won't do it again."
"Look - it's not a problem for you, is it?"
"No, of course not. I just…"
"Indy and the Chief know, if that's what you're wondering."
"No, no, not that. It's just… well, speaking of Indigo, I reckon you should go after him, instead. He seems a nice guy."
Idris hushed him, tapping him on the arm – but he was smiling.
"I'll bear that in mind," he replied.
With a wink, he rose from the bed.
"We'll find you a new room as soon as can, Fleetwood," he told everyone gathered. "But for now, Chris, he stays here. And we don't want any trouble. Understood?"
Chris offered a grunt in reply, before returning to his bicep curls.
"In that case, fellas – goodbye and good night."
As Fleetwood laid back and relaxed on his new bed, Indigo and Idris stepped out of the room, firmly closing the door behind them.
"Christ, that was tense," Indigo breathed. "It felt like Chris could punch him at any minute."
"Well, Fleetwood's a mind reader," Idris replied. "He'll know when to dodge."