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Chapter 2: Playing Games
Hugo was well aware that he was slightly better dressed for his dinner-for-one than he was every other day; his black, silk shirt and denim jeans were brand new and very expensive, the best he owned that he could still pass off as casual. He also knew exactly why he'd chosen the outfit; to get to Dolohov. He wanted the man to react the way he once did when he was around Hugo. In public, Dolohov had been cold and indifferent, but alone he'd been possessive and demanding, seductive and undeniably hot. It was as if Dolohov had been two different people in Hogwarts; the boy he revealed to the world and the man Hugo made him in private.
It was all Hugo, the way Dolohov had been around him was because Hugo knew how to push his buttons. And he'd do so again; he wanted to distract him, unhinge him even, enough to get deep into that dark, mysterious mind of his and figure out what he wanted, why he was in Miami. Then he'd use it, until Dolohov was completely defenseless. Hugo would ruin him, just as he did the last time.
Only this time, he wouldn't be damaged in the process.
He could admit that Dolohov had an effect on him, made him cautious, made him wonder if knowing everything, knowing anything, was really worth it. His feelings for Dolohov had run deeper than casual sex by the end of school. But those feelings were gone, and he wouldn't let that happen again.
Dolohov was in Miami for a reason, he hadn't told anyone about Hugo or even used his real name. Yes, finding out why would be worth getting closer to the man again, considering he was the only one who knew the rules this time around.
Piece of cake, Hugo thought, smiling to himself as he finished styling his hair in his mirror. Finally looking good enough to get to dinner, he made his way out of the hotel room, making sure to grab his card key and wallet before he shut the door. He looked good, Hugo knew that, but so did Dolohov; it would take a lot more than simply looking good to get Dolohov distracted. He wanted the look to be his best.
He wasn't alone in the elevator. He managed to keep his face passive every time he caught the young woman watching his reflection. They kept eye contact in the mirror for a moment whenever he looked up and then she'd look down, her cheeks heated. She was at least twenty, he guessed, and he could agree with any other guy that she was beautiful with blond hair cut at her shoulders and long, tanned legs revealed by the denim short shorts. Hugo didn't have the heart to tell her she wasn't his type, or reject her number before she got off on the fourth floor. The guy who showed an interest after her, now he was another matter...
Hugo followed a few steps behind and paused at the front desk, watching him leave the hotel, before he turned into the restaurant. The maitre 'd informed him that his table would be ready shortly and Hugo told him he'd be in his usual seat at the bar until then, then walked through, keeping an eye out for Dolohov. He found him at alone at a table close to the bar, sat back in his chair, seemingly perfectly at ease in surroundings. Hugo had to remind himself that the man was a good actor. In his hand was a half drunk pint glass, a full one across from him. He knew that drink was for him, there was no way Dolohov knew anyone here and he hadn't been in the city long enough to have met someone else. Not that Hugo would expect that from Skander Dolohov; he was not a people person.
Hugo walked with the intention of moving past, even pretending he hadn't seen him, because he refused to let Dolohov make the first move. But Dolohov was quicker than he remembered and he kicked the chair out, hitting Hugo in the shin hard. He groaned in pain and bent down to rub the spot he'd been hit, his narrowed eyes focused on Dolohov.
"Hello, Matthew," he said, the forceful tone in which he'd said the name removing any pretense of being pleasant. He nodded to the chair, telling him to sit without actually opening his mouth. Hugo started to walk away. Dolohov caught his arm and gripped him tightly. "That wasn't a request, Hugo."
He whispered his real name, his tone just as forceful as before. There was a threat clearly hidden in there, Hugo could tell; Dolohov would have no problem telling people his real name. That just wouldn't do. So, he sat. And he waited. And Dolohov watched, calmly drinking his beer.
Hugo quickly realized that he could have the most perfect plan of getting to and destroying Skander Dolohov written out, but in reality his ex would always have the upper hand. He had his name, his past and his family, and just whispering those to one person could ruin everything he had in the city. He'd have to leave again, before they found him. Dolohov knew this, he had to. He hadn't been surprised when they'd been introduced, he'd loved seeing Hugo's discomfort. It was all Hugo had needed to know the man had a reason for being in Miami, for coming back into his life.
He was more determined than ever to find out what that reason was, to stop it before it could start and ultimately ruin the man before him.
So, he played along.
"I can't believe you're really here," Hugo said softly, leaning closer, a playful, almost flirty, smile on his face. It wasn't enough, he knew. Like with looking good, Dolohov already knew Hugo would do this, but it was a start.
He was right; Dolohov shook his head and chuckled - Hugo couldn't remember if he'd ever heard the man chuckle before - and leaned forward as well, so they both had their arms folded on the table and were staring right at each other. "Try again," he smirked.
"I genuinely mean it," Hugo answered. "The smile may be fake, but I honestly can't believe you're here. Why are you here?"
"I'm on holiday," Dolohov said immediately. "I thought I'd get away from my family for a while. You know I can't stand them. I can barely even stand my sister and she's the only one I actually like."
"I remember." Hugo moved back briefly, just to take a sip of his drink. "Do you really expect me to believe that you being here, at the exact same hotel as me, is purely a coincidence? I find it hard to believe."
"I admit, I did wonder where you'd be. It's been so long since you were last heard of in the UK. Even your family are worried." Dolohov kept that same relaxed smile; he didn't care about Hugo's family or how they were. No, he just wanted to get a reaction out of him. Hugo didn't give him one, he didn't even flinch. Except for a few members of his family, whom he kept in contact with secretly, he didn't care either. He was surprised to see Dolohov's smile widen further when he realized that. "I thought about you for a while, I knew I could find you if I tried."
"You thought about me?" Hugo asked skeptically, his eye-brows raised.
Dolohov moved even closer. "Maybe I missed you," he whispered. "Do you remember how much fun we used to have at school?"
"Hard to forget," Hugo answered, hating his honesty. He was thankful when the maitre 'd came over to them then and announced that his table was ready. Hugo stood up, taking his beer with him. Since Dolohov was so thoughtful and got me one. "Enjoy your holiday, maybe I'll see you around."
"Definitely," Dolohov nodded.
"Thanks for the drink, Sky," he bent down to murmur in his ear, deliberately using the nickname he'd given him when they were together because he'd hated it.
Dolohov didn't blink. "You're welcome, Huey."
Hugo pretended not to be phased when he walked to his table, but that nickname was the last straw. Dolohov would not keep his upper hand.
I'll break him.
Skander moved to the bar not long after Hugo went to his table, having a better view of the ex only a few knew he had, and was still there when Hugo left the restaurant. He drank his drinks slowly, not wanting to get drunk just in case, and had almost finished his fourth beer when the night receptionist, a middle-aged man with a uniform that looked a size too small and wearing what was obviously a toupee, came over to tell him he had a phone call.
Right on time, he thought somewhat bitterly and left a nice tip on the bar before following the guy to the front desk. He took the phone from the man and looked at it hesitantly for a second before he put it to his ear, like he'd seen the day receptionist, Jess, do. "This is Skander Dolohov."
"What's going on?" the voice in the other line asked quickly.
"Well, I'm talking to you," Skander said sarcastically. He ignored the voice swear. "Nothing's going on, I just got here. He hasn't magically robbed a bank in the twenty four hours since I got here." He stopped suddenly and made sure no one could overhear him, then he continued. "He owns his own store, selling antiques, he's doing surprisingly well. He was there from nine till three, then he had a late business lunch; he's also paid to find things for people, did you know that? Then he came back, swam in the pool, had a few drinks, got changed, had dinner and went back to his room."
The voice cursed again, but thankfully not at Skander. He didn't think he could manage being so polite a second time and he needed to stay in the man's good graces. The second noise the voice made was an annoyed sigh; he didn't know whether he should be glad or disappointed, Skander knew. He wanted to be glad because he didn't want the reports to be true, but he was disappointed because they all knew the reports were true and for that, no results didn't mean 'he's innocent, come home, everything's okay'. To the ministry, it meant 'he's too clever, wait for him to slip'. If he continued to best the Aurors, they wouldn't be going home for a while.
Still, Skander had to ask. "Mr. Potter, are you sure Hugo is the one you're looking for?"
"You know he is, Dolohov," Potter sighed again. "We don't want to believe either, but we can't deny it anymore." For a second, Potter wasn't in 'work mode', he was a worried, uncle scared for his youngest nephew. But it disappeared quickly. "You're here because Albus and Louis said you knew Hugo better than anyone. Even though I find that hard to believe, I trust what they say. We want to bring Hugo in quickly and quietly. Don't screw this up, Dolohov."
"Yes, sir," Skander said, only slightly mocking, which he was proud of himself for. Potter ignored it and hung up, probably to give Ron Weasley and the rest of the small team of Aurors they'd brought for this assignment the lack of news he had to offer.
Skander dropped the phone onto the receiver and ran his hands over his eyes and through his hair, content to just stand there for a moment while he wondered what the hell he'd gotten himself into. He was a freelance private investigator because his family had somehow gotten it into his head that because of their mistakes he couldn't be an Auror. But at the age of twenty-four he'd decided to try anyway. His family had been right onsome level, his last name was like a black spot on his otherwise spotless record - more or less - and they didn't trust him, but they'd been willing to give him a chance with Hugo's case when Potter Junior and Blond Weasley had said he was their best chance. He just had to prove that, then his real life experience, both with this case and his PI cases, would allow him to work while he trained properly.
He had no idea it would be this difficult. Because that's exactly how it was and he'd forgotten just how difficult Hugo Weasley could be. He was sure the man already knew something was up and he had to act quickly if he wanted to keep Hugo from finding out. He was undercover and a damn good actor; I can do this.
But if the reports were right and it was definitely Hugo they were looking for, then Hugo was a better actor than he'd ever given the man credit for.
Who'd have thought Hugo was the Ministry's most wanted con-artist and thief.
A/N: Finally a chapter two to post and share with anyone still reading this. I hope you enjoy this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)