WICK AND ROSE IN ROME
The tube of devil's red lipstick. At first, John thought it was a mundane thing to give. A spur of the moment action that held no real purpose or meaning, but that didn't seem to be the case with Mandy. During their travels to Rome, John noticed that she's been keeping it in her pocket the whole time and would occasionally bring it out to fiddle with. She never said anything but would always smile slightly to herself whenever she would touch it.
The strange action left John a bit speechless but it soon dawned on him...that this little thing was a source of encouragement for her. It's something comforting she could grasp a hold of that didn't have any relations to the cold world they were living in right now.
John just assumed that it was something Marie-Laura gave away with no real meaning behind it, but maybe she did give a bit more thought into her actions that day. It was obvious to anyone who knew Mandy that she was quite stressed right now, but maybe that simple tube of bright red lipstick was an attempt to bring her back down to earth and relax. If it was…John would have to thank Marie-Laura for her consideration later.
"Been a while since I've been back to Rome," Mandy said while waiting by the pavement with John, seconds later they crossed the street over to the Continental Hotel of Rome. "You've been back here any time after I left?" she asked, sticking her hand into her pocket yet again to fiddle with the tube of lipstick.
John shrugged once. "Once or twice, I think. I don't remember much of it since I felt like those trips went by pretty fast."
Mandy snorted a bit. "Oh really? Was it because I wasn't shouting in your ear and dragging you around the whole time that it wasn't memorable?"
John thought over the possibilities and realized that she did have a point. When they were younger, Mandy never really left the states so going on a mission in another country was always treated as a small trip for her. There were plenty of times she would drag him to places that she wanted to check out, but Mandy being herself though meant that she was going to be boisterous and rude in public too, as she usually is since she's used to living in New York. Yeah…it was a little embarrassing...but memorable.
"Yeah. That was probably it," he said.
"That's funny." Mandy snickered and patted him hard on the back. "Come on. Let's check-in first and see the Sommelier right after."
John led the way into the hotel while Mandy followed behind. She stopped briefly though and turned her head over her shoulder, spotting a familiar face on the other side of the street watching them like a hawk. It was Ares, acting as a spy and probably reporting their every move back to Santino.
"What a nice little dog." Mandy clicked her tongue and turned to catch back up to John. "Santino's gonna have to be careful...or else someone might put her down."
They walked into the hotel that clearly had a different atmosphere than the one back in New York. The architecture here just felt a lot posher and more elegant. The lobby was huge, and the ceiling was pretty high too with large archways that made the whole place feel older than it actually was. It was because of that though that it made Mandy feel like a mouse standing beside ancient titans.
The concierge welcomed them with a smile when they walked up to her desk. "Welcome to the Continental of Rome. How might I be of assistance?"
"We'd like a room," John said while sliding a gold coin across the table, which she subtly took and slipped under the counter.
"Jonathan. Mandy," said an old voice from behind. Mandy and John turned around to see who it was and smiled when they saw it was the manager, Julius. An elderly man who looked to be the same age as Winston and carried an equal amount of poise and class, too.
"Julius." John approached him and shook his hand. "Chao."
"Nice to see you two," Julius said before directing his attention to Mandy. He shook her hand too and patted her shoulder kindly. "Especially you, Mandy. I never thought I would see you two walking side by side like this again. It's a pleasant surprise…but at the same time not," he spoke grimly before gesturing for them to take a seat with him. "I fail to recall the last time you were in Rome. And here I'd heard you were retired…or dead," he said, referring to Mandy's absence.
"We both had…in our own ways." Mandy shrugged while taking a seat on the armrest of John's chair.
"Then humor me with but one question…." His eyes took a serious turn when he spoke to them in a language unfamiliar to Mandy. "Are you here for the Pope?"
John looked momentarily taken back by what he had just heard and looked to Mandy to see her reaction. She didn't even understand the language though and was completely out of the loop of the conversation. The confusion was clear on her face.
John shifted uncomfortably in his chair for a second before leaning in and whispering. "No."
Julius took a moment to soak up the answer before nodding his head. "Alright, then."
Mandy blinked since she still didn't know what was going on or what was even said. "What was the question?" she asked
John reached up and grasped one of her hands tightly, searching for his own form of relief and comfort. "Don't worry about it."
Julius chimed in while searching his coat pockets for something. "Nothing you need to worry over."
"Really?" Mandy said again.
John cleared his throat and moved his hand up to her tense shoulder, appreciating the fact that she knew no other language but English. "Yes. It's fine. It was just…a simple question."
Mandy cocked a brow. "Alright…sure."
Julius took a breath at that and finally pulled out a card. "One of our finest rooms. Try to enjoy your stay with us," he said with an air of doubt in his voice.
John took the card and held his stare for a second, a knowing look lingering in his eyes that was grim and anxious. "Grazie."
Mandy peeked her head into the Sommelier's office space and gently tapped her knuckle against the glass door, pulling his attention away from the wide collection of weaponry. Just the sheer variety that this man had was staggering. There were things to handguns, rifles, shotguns, automatics, and assaults. The list was endless. If you had a request, this man would be able to achieve it with great passion and excitement.
The Sommelier turned around once Mandy and John walked in. "Good afternoon, Mr. Wick and Ms. Rose," he said with a stunningly deep voice that sounded tremendously smooth, similar to either silk or velvet. "It's been a long time."
John walked up to the counter. "We'd like a tasting. Something for both Mandy and I," he gestured between the both of them and immediately saw the Sommelier's eyes start to gleam, shinning with excitement and curiosity. It was clear that he was already itching to get started.
"Hm, I see," he muttered to himself and stepped away from the counter to look over the selection. "I know of your past fondness for the German varietals, but I can wholeheartedly endorse the new breed of Austrians for the both of you." He pulled two guns from off the shelf and sat them down gently on the table. "Glock .34 and .26." Both Mandy and John began to inspect each gun individually and tested out the feel in their hands. "Recontoured grips. flared Magwell for easier reloads. And I know Ms. Rose, you'll appreciate the custom porting."
Mandy snickered lightly at that and sat one of the guns down. She never had a type of gun that she favorited and merely went for anything that just felt good in her hands. She always hated the feeling of blocky weapons though and tended to stay away from anything like that. "That's nice. It really is." She paused for a moment to think of what else she was possibly needing. "Got anything, uh…robust and precise?"
"'Robust. Precise,'" he said in a single breath and shrugged slightly, taking an eye over to the rifles behind him and bringing one over for her to inspect. "AR-15, 11.5 inch. Compensated with an ion-bonded bolt carrier. Trijicon Accupoint with one-six magnification."
Mandy turned away from them and looked down the barrel of the rifle while felt the weight in her hand. Her lips cracked up into a sly grin as she giggled, acting as if she had just been given a new toy to play with.
"Will there be anything else?" the Sommelier turned to John to hear his request.
"Could you recommend anything for the end of the night? Something big, bold."
"May I suggest the Benelli m4?" He searched once more and came back a second later with a shotgun in hand. "Custom bolt carrier release and charging handle. Textured grips, should your hands get wet. An Italian classic."
Mandy frowned suddenly and turned back around with a puzzled look on her face. "You call that an Italian classic?"
"Well of course."
She scoffed and turned back to her own weapon and continued to check every little detail on it. "Hm…I think I might need to reevaluate my meaning of the word 'classic'. God...I feel old."
John lowered his head and doubt back the smallest kind of smile, afterward he looked back to the Sommelier. "Dessert?"
The Sommelier smiled at the request. "Dessert," he said graciously and stepped away from the desk for a minute to drag out a box and set it down in front of them. He opened the lid and showed a case full of knives that looked dangerously sharp with a silver sheen. "The finest cutlery," he said and watched anxiously as Mandy pulled a knife out to see. He even began to look a bit uneased when she started to twirl the knife between her fingers too. "I must give you a fair warning first. They're all-"
"Ow! Fuck!" she cursed when the knife sliced across her finger that immediately caused her to drop it. She sucked in a deep breath and stepped away from the desk, covering her cut with her other hand.
"They're all freshly stoned," the Sommelier finished a bit too late and watched as Mandy paced back and forth in the room, tightening her jaw and probably holding back a dam size slur of curse words behind her teeth. "I was going to warn you."
John groaned deeply like he expected something like this to happen. "What are you doing...?" He walked up to her so she would stop pacing like a wild animal. "Mandy…" He grabbed her shoulder to get a better look at the cut but she was stubbornly blocking him from seeing it.
"Don't say anything. Not a single word," Mandy said under her breath and brought the cut to her lips, still preventing him from looking.
"No. I'm not hearing it."
The Sommelier watched silently as John finally managed to hold Mandy down long enough to look at the cut. "Should I have everything sent to your room?" he asked.
"Yes. Thank you." John said while ushering Mandy out the door, in which she stormed out by herself from the embarrassment. She was fine. The cut was nothing but the equivalent of a cardboard cut.
"I do hope you two enjoy your party."
"Thank you." He nodded and waved off the Sommelier before chasing after Mandy.
Mandy's as elegant and classy as a bull in a china shop. I love how out of the loop she is when it comes to a language barrier. I love how John was like "Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it!". God...imagine the horror if she could actually learn another language.
And for the record, she doesn't understand sign language either. So that's gonna be fun when she's trying to talk to Ares.