Shinji fell in a rain of glass, landing on his feet on a car roof, his weight pressing it in on itself. He didn’t stop moving, ducking into a roll to disperse the contact pressure–preventing anything from getting broken–and then rolling off the car into a crouch beside it. He ducked past the vehicle as a nearby commotion drew his attention, and he twisted around to duck behind the corner of the alley.
The single glance he’d taken of the street beyond told him that most attention had been fixed on the opposite side of the street. Except one, some guy on a cell phone. He’d been staring right at Shinji, and fuck, he’d been noticed!
He peeked around the corner to see that the guy was still watching his way. His gaze lifted toward the window, and he paled. The woman was staring back down at him, hair tugged in front of her face, obscuring it, by the suddenly rushing wind. Why was it so windy? What the hell was up with today?
“Shimatta!” He bared his teeth up at her, and dashed away.
She smiled, and her gaze turned to the other. It was too far a distance for her to read him, but she was still good with body language. The guy must have seen her attacker jump out the window. “What a mess,” she mumbled, and pulled back. Now, to find a manhole, and escape into the sewers…
Sighing into the phone, Svorak watched the window-jumping guy in a coat sprint away. “Okay, okay,” he muttered into the phone. “You can give me updates on the board from now on.”
“Be my pleasure,” chirped the blond in his ear. “So you said a guy was jumping from a window?”
“Hmm, hit a car, rolled, and ran off,” the merc confirmed.
“Which building?” Tapping of the keyboard again.
“There weren’t any jobs for that one.”
Svorak laughed. “You sound disappointed, Goldie.”
“Oh, I’ll show you disappointment, Tiger,” Christoph threatened.
“Uh huh. Gotta go. I’ve got a uniform at ten.” The dark-skinned man smirked into the phone. “Laaater.”
Turning, he snapped closed the cell phone as the police officer approached him with a clipboard. Ah, the joys of being a civilian for a week. He sighed, watching as the cop’s eyes took in his buzz cut, the scars, and the dog tags.
She stumbled along the sewers, arms hanging at her sides. Her body wanted to collapse, but she needed to find a wrong-doer. Shame she’d let that murderer get away. Shame she hadn’t used him to clean up his own mess. It hurt…
Her breath came in short, sharp pants, and oh god I want a cigarette… Rungs… A ladder up. She climbed it, feeling with her soul, the source of her magic. Searching, searching. The sun was setting, when she pushed aside the manhole cover. An alleyway.
She pulled herself up out of it, legs dangling inside as she kept her eyes closed. Searching, searching.
I hate him, hate him! Why does he—
It hurts so much… every time, every time–
I wish she’d just die—
Fuck you, too, whore. Oh my god, I can’t wait till I’m out of—
Gotta hide it. Hide it from them. No one can know. Know I wrapped my fingers around her throat and squeezed—
A smile curled along her mouth, and her eyes opened. Yes.
“Two hours. Fuck me.”
The cop had asked question after question. Different variations. Different angles. Repetition. The questioning had only come to a close when the irritated merc scowled, growling out that there was nothing else to add. The cop had a frown to match his own. Neither of them were happy.
As Svorak drove home, he could only grouse to himself. Yes fine; he had mentioned the two that had run past him. The cop had been interested in that. However, he hadn’t mentioned that those two were probably fellow mercs. He liked his skin where it was. Outing another member was the same as outing himself to the entire collective. Not a smart idea.
“A vacation. Just one fucking week. It’s not even the second day.”
And now he was on his way to another part of town to pick up food. Processed or not, he wasn’t trusting fish cakes that had defrosted in the passenger seat half-cooked in the noonday sun. Besides, he had a hankering for steak now.
Wonder if Christoph would be willing to let me eat off him again today; steak sauce would be fucking hot…
Her breathing had slowed significantly, her fingers wrapped around the hilt of the bloody steak knife in her hand. Her throat hurt. The boy had panicked when he saw her, bullet hole in her head, like some sort of zombie. He’d tried to take her head off with a meat cleaver, and she’d grabbed the knife out of a knife block and stabbed him.
Over and over, over and over, blood splattering across her face, her arms, her chest. The exhaustion had given way, urged on by the pain, and made her furious. HOW DARE HE?! Screaming in her head. Maybe some not in her head. Screaming, pleading. Please, please, I’ll stop! I’ll stop! I’ll live a good life please!
Terror gripping her insides, blue eyes so much different from hers, and so much colder. And blood, blood everywhere.
Now she was crouched over him, weight resting on his stomach, blood dripping off the knife onto the once pristine carpet. She could recall his words. “Lucy, no!”
Lucy. Lucy. Lucille.
Her hands shook, even as she stood and searched the room. She tore up a shirt to use to draw the blood symbols. Her mouth moved, but no sound came out.
Lucy. Lucy. Lucille.
He’d killed Lucy. He’d killed Lucy…
Her fingers tightened on the rag in her hand. Lucy. Her ragged breathing hitched, teeth clenched so hard they hurt. Lucy. Lucy…
Well, he’d bought the steaks, beer, even a bucket of ice cream for a snack. For someone who had literally brought everything but the bacon, he was feeling rather ignored.
Grumbling, Svorak snapped closed the cell phone for a third time. Bitch still wasn’t picking up the line. Not that it wasn’t unexpected. Christoph sounded rather peeved about that afternoon’s window jumper.
The merc rolled his eyes as he cruised into the hotel’s parking garage. The job board doesn’t cover everything, idiot. There were plenty of jobs that didn’t go through their channels. Small personal jobs for one.
The blond just made a point of looking to the collective for all his news, and then got offended when it failed to relay the information he was expecting. It’s completely possible that the jumper from earlier wasn’t an assassin. He’d never seen one dent a car on purpose before.
A few minutes later, the big male was stepping into the elevator, arms shifting to accommodate the various white plastic bags. He had to chuckle to himself. God, I feel domestic.
At least the lift didn’t come with its own inane theme music.
He finally reached his floor and as he stepped out of the steel box, he sniffed. “Oh shit, don’t tell me the package opened.” But when he looked down into the bags, the seals on the steaks were still intact.
So, why do I smell blood?
She lay just down the hallway, a half-ajar door beside her the source of the smell. Not that she didn’t contribute. She was covered in the stuff, splayed out on the floor only three doors down from his door.
She wasn’t moving, hair matted with blood and covering her face, and she wasn’t breathing. At least, not visibly. Her hand was clenched around a torn piece of fabric soaked in blood.
There was a dead woman in the hall.
He glanced side to side, but no one else was around, though there was a thumping noise coming from the suite two doors to his right. Whatever happened wasn’t loud enough to stop those two, he thought, then blinked as another voice whimpered. “Okay… Make that three.”
Turning back to the body in the hall, he took a better look at her.
Not dead, he realized. Passed out. Even with all the blood on her, the woman’s cheeks weren’t pale, so not from blood loss. A corner of his mouth hiked up. Covered in someone else’s blood. That always made explanations tricky with the locals.
Wanna bet this isn’t on the job board? he thought smirking, envisioning Christoph’s face.
It looked personal anyway: messy, emotional, unplanned. Obviously unplanned. He rolled his eyes. She was laid flat-out in the middle of hotel hallway after all. Though…
He cocked his head to the side as he observed the path of red smudges. Intentional or not, she had actually avoided the camera hot spots. Hm… Well, we all had to start somewhere.
Svorak straightened, nodded once to the unconscious female staining the fancy carpet, and turned towards his own suite.
He tapped on his throat mic and waited for Christoph’s surprised acknowledgement before speaking softly. “Did you know there’s a bloody woman passed out on our floor? And I do mean that in the literal sense.”