The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby Seamus O'Seamus » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:04 am

There comes a time in every person's life when they need to learn what they can and can't deal with. By knowing one's limits, one can do their best to not step past them, and ensure themselves a greater magnitude of happiness in the long run. The man who knows his limits is a man who knows a happy life.

I know my limits and I wouldn't say I'm happy. I learned long, long ago that I can't tolerate big crowds or deadlines. Put these two together and you get my own personal Purgatory; it's called an airport. Big crowds, long lines, little time, and people who are so unable to take it all in that they make a concerted effort to gawk at everything they can lay their eyes on. I hate it.

But I hate the idea of a woman who's never been to this city before and who's only connection to this country is dead being alone in Wasusy even more.

I half-jog through the sickly gray building, swerving through crowds who, by all means, have no real reason to be here. As I near the gate I get stuck behind a few people who don't seem to know where they're going, dragging four tons of luggage behind them.

"Walk with purpose or not at all!" I shout as I run by. I check my watch; just in time. A thought occurs to me: I have no idea what this "Elena" looks like. Hopefully she'll know me. Would Shamus have told her about me? Maybe she'll think I'm him. He was a lot bigger than me, but there's still some family resemblance.

Some. I look at the (normal) people around me. Ha.

The plane opens up and passengers start walking down the stairs. I try not to sweat when I see a cop step off the plane. With my luck, he's one of the honest ones.

I look to one side as the cop walks by and starts chatting it up with somebody.

"Shamus?" I quickly look to the source of the voice and almost do a double-take. "Is that you?" She asks again.

I'm staring at a wolf-woman. Sure, I've always figured there were other people like me--stranger things have happened. And I've never met a wolf-woman before. It's the fact that she's speaking with a heavy Russian accent and introduces herself as "Elena Kuznetsova."


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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby starseedjenny » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:46 am

Norman has his bags, the doorman and clerk have been spoken to, and now it’s all clear. I hold my hands in each other, standing in the corner of the lift opposite Norman, listening as the elevator hums upward. I’m looking at the floor because I can’t look at him. Because it took me too long to tell him something that he took like the man he is. Because what I told him is nothing compared to what I still won’t. Because, though I know I did the best I could have, I still feel ashamed.

I stay a few steps away from him even after I’ve keyed the doors open directly into the penthouse, washed in golden afternoon light. There’s the shame—and then there’s what else I know; when he’s done what he’s done for me, just now, he deserves not to be touched. It’s simply an unfortunate fact that what makes him deserve more than my whims also makes me want to touch him more. Perhaps the correlation is forever. Perhaps I should only touch him when I’m indifferent to doing so.

But I know once we’re inside he’ll start talking again, so I have to suck it up and start acting normal.

“This is it…” I say, dropping the key on a small table.

Norman walks in, juggling his bags,, looking around kind of hesitantly. “Wow…it’s really nice…”

I snort. “I know. Hedonists. They’re fantastic, aren’t they?”

Uncomfortably, he laughs. “Well, I mean, he works for it, so…”

I should stop, I’m doing this all wrong. But I can’t. “It’s mostly all old money. I don’t believe Mr. Wayne is all that personally invested in his business. So, you know, drink all his nice old wines. He’d never miss them.”

“Heh…That's all right. Uh, which way is the bedroom? I wanna put these in the closet.”

“Oh. It’s, uh, the second door in there.” I point.

“Thanks, Cupcake.” He starts down the short hallway, still looking around as he goes.

I sit on the arm of a sofa and watch him until I can’t see him anymore. But he comes back out soon, still carrying all his stuff. “He's got some of his things in there. I'll just put these somewhere else for now.” He goes to the hallway closet and sets down his bags before opening it.

Norman winces. “Wow…I don’t think he really uses this closet much.” He leans partway into the closet and glances around, looking something like a puppy trying to see the top of a dripping flue. “Is there a broom I can get these cobwebs with?” I should have seen it coming, really; I smile.

“Probably in a clos—oh, I don’t know. I’ll check the kitchen.” It only takes a second to find one leaning against the side of the pantry.

When Norman takes it from me—“Thanks, Cupcake.”—I catch a glimpse at the neglectful cobwebs, but just barely; a few wispy single threads in the darkest corners of the closet. I try not to laugh, grinning and closing my eyes, when he starts whacking around indiscriminately.

There’s a sound, a tumble of many small things falling. “What was that?”

“I…I don't know. Uh…I guess I knocked open some kind of cabinet?” He leans the broom against a wall and gets on his knees to look at the stuff. He holds something up and inspects it. My heart stops before my mind can form the word. Batarang. “Huh. That's a funny lookin’ letter opener….”

I feel the deer-in-headlights face I’m wearing and I’m not sure how long I’ve been wearing it. I arrange my face into something, I hope, like calm and simple bemusement, and I laugh. “It could be…a razor?”

“Ugh.” He drops it.

I nervously laugh again and cross over to the closet, crouching next to Norman to view the damage. And when I do see, I almost stop breathing again but instead analyze. Two batarangs; a handful of smoke bombs; grappler rope; micro bat-camera; bat-lasso (electrified); handcuffs; tightly coiled standard bat-rope; little tranquilizing darts; and a can of bat-shark repellant—whose label is, miraculously, missing.

I’m trying not to hyperventilate, trying to get my head in the right place. There has to be a way to contain this, there has to be a way to stop time right now and fix it, there has to be a—

Norman stands up and pokes at the pile with the broom handle. Moves things around. Pokes at the pair of handcuffs specifically. “Well, this is awkward.”

In a moment of clarity, watching him, I realize there’s nothing to contain. Not if I play this right. Starting with getting all this out of sight before he starts to realize what it is. “We should put it away…” I say, picking up three of the smoke bombs like they’re jacks. There’s a small cardboard box on the closet floor; I drop them in, even though I’m almost afraid one will go off. I can’t show recognition of any of the things spilled out here. I have to act like I’ve never seen them before. So when I pick up one of the batarangs, I make sure to make it look like an accident when it slices my index finger open. I drop it, gasping; that, I don’t need to fake. It hurts. I stick my finger in my mouth to alleviate the sting.

“Ahh, Cupcake, are you okay? Here, let me see it.”

The way his hand hovers by his side—almost reaching toward me, yet ultimately keeping away, every bit of it unconscious—reminds me this isn’t a game. Restores the guilt.

I slide my finger back out of my mouth and hold it up. “It’s okay, just a little one.” Darn. Not as little as I wanted, but it’s not as though I’ve practiced cutting myself open on these. Just a second and it’s dripping down my hand, but nothing a piece of gauze can’t fix.

“Well, all right,” he says, wincing. “Just go get it clean. I’ll, uh, put this stuff back.”

“Thank you, dear.” I kiss his cheek as I stand up. Fill with panic at leaving him alone with it as I stalk, tense-shouldered, into the bathroom.

There’s peroxide in the medicine cabinet, tape, a roll of gauze. I hastily wash the blood off and wrap it up—I need to get back in there, make sure he’s not looking too closely at anything. I don’t know what he’s thinking now, of Bruce’s reason for owning all these things, but whatever his explanation is, it’s better than the truth and so my job now is to keep that thought alive.

I shut the water off, but the sound of running water persists elsewhere. Norman isn’t by the closet. All the Bat’s things are in the box, stowed in the still-open place they came from. The water is running in the kitchen. I stand in front of the closet, looking at the little cabinet. There are at least three like it in the Cave. I know how to close it. But it might be showing too much to close it—there’s a trick to it, and—

“I, uh, couldn’t get it closed. I’m not even sure how I opened it…” I jumped at the sound of his voice. I have to relax. I have to relax now. I deliberate for another moment and make my decision.

“Oh, I…I’ll see if I can’t take care of it.” I reach up to the door and spend what feels like an eternity pretending to fiddle with the door. Eventually, I shut it and sigh. Out of sight, out of mind. “Oh, good. Good as new.”

I watch uncomfortably as he leans in and peers at the place. “Wow, it's like it's not even there… He, uh, must have really not wanted anyone to see that stuff… Though I mean, I can see why…”

Oh gol he knows. “What? Why?”

He’s not looking me in the eye. “Oh, well I’m sure the gossip rags would have a grand ol’ time talking about Mr. Wayne’s naughty toybox…” I don’t understand what he’s getting at. Vigilantism isn’t really tabloid fare. In reaction to my blank expression, he continues, “Uh, I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t be talking to a lady about this…” A deep flush dominates his face.

I stare at the blush, trying to decode it. All at once, the lightbulb goes on over my head and I want to laugh. Mysterious little items. The handcuffs. “Ohhh.” Grinning, I cover my eyes and shake my head. “No, I suppose not.”

Still averting his eyes, Norman changes the subject. “So, uh…I guess I’ll just unpack later…”

I didn’t know the cupboard was there. Of course I didn’t. But now I wonder—I don’t know whether it’s the only one. But I need to know, if he’s going to be spending any more time around here, if he’s going to be unthinkingly inspecting every surface like I know he will. I need to know. I need to get him away from me busy somewhere. But something, a question, is raised. “Well, then what is it you want to do now?”

I’m not really listening, instead electing to frantically search my mind for some way to get rid of him. Get rid of him. What an awful thing to want or to think—but awful, that’s me.
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby the_crankmaster » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:09 am

She’s acting funny again, not quite all there. Or maybe I should accept that this is just how she is?

"Um, well, do you want to sit down?" I suggest. She laughs vaguely.

"That's probably a good idea." I go to the couch and take a seat. Clara joins me, and it seems that her switch has been flipped. She scoots close to me, entering the space only she is allowed in, and only when I can keep myself together. I try my best to now.

“Uh….” I smile nervously. No, I’m not keeping myself together very well at all. She leans on me, fitting her body against mine.

"Thank you, Norman...."

"You're- you're welcome cupcake," I manage. She turns her face up toward me, but doesn’t make eye contact.

“I just...don't know what to say, more than that. I'm sorry."

I hesitate for a moment. It’s frustrating, knowing what you want to do, but having to force yourself to do it. Finally I kiss her lightly on the head.

"It's... all right."

It’s quiet after that and I don’t mind too much. It’s kind of nice to just be there with her. Still, some easy conversation would distract me from how uncomfortable I’m feeling. A moment later, Clara provides a more thorough distraction.

"Have you called your mother today?"

"Yeah, I- No." I’m really getting awful at this. I’m finally out of the Goddamn hospital; calling my mother should have been the first thing I did.

"Better do that,” Clara says, sitting up. "There's a phone...." She hesitates. Trying to remember where it is? "In the bedroom." I stand.

"All right, thanks. I'll be back, cupcake."

MomMom is understandably excited that I’m not calling her from the hospital, but she’s less so when I tell her I’m not coming home.

“It’s Clara,” I explain. “I think we really have something and I don’t want to let it go.”

She accepts this; after all, I haven’t had a chance this good in a long time. She still wants to know how soon she can see me and we quickly discuss my options. I tell her Clara is waiting for me and she lets me go. I head back out into the living room and find Clara examining a window bench with a cushion on it.

"Drop something?" I ask, and she jumps. Probably should’ve let her know I was there before I said anything.

"Oh, I...I thought I saw something,” she says. “It was nothing though." I wince. Saw what? Something moving?

"Are you sure?" I ask, moving to take a look myseld.

"Yes!” she said hurriedly. “Er--yeah. Just part of the bench. Sorry about that, anyway..."

"Ah, all right." I stand upright. "Should I, ah, put the radio on or something?" Clara sits down.

"Sure, I-- How long have we been here?" I go to the radio and turn it on.

"Uh, maybe 45 minutes? Unless I was on the phone longer than I thought."

"...Oh." Clara shifts uncomfortably and then goes quiet again. I sit next to her.

"Something wrong?"

"I don't know, maybe I should be getting back..." She doesn’t seem happy about this.

"Do you have to?"

"Well...I...No..." She shakes her head. "Yes."

"Oh..." I can’t keep the disappointment from my face. "Well... all right." I stand. "I'll drive you back." Maybe I’ll be able to stick around the manor a bit and look after her there.

"Thanks, sweetheart." She takes my hand and I try to hide that I’m gritting my teeth as I grab the key off the table where she left it and walk her out. She keeps close to me and says nothing as we make our way down.

"I'll, uh, probably start looking for work tomorrow,” I say, mostly to break the silence.

"Where do you think you'll look?

"I... really don't know...." I admit.

"You'll find something, she assures. "Something good. How could it be any other way?" She’s sweet, really.

"I can imagine most employers wouldn't want to deal with me," I remind.

"Would you want to work with them?" I get what she’s saying, but this is a little different than, say, having friends who are jerks.

"Well, between that and not having a job...." She squeezes my hand.

"It'll work out."
“ Thanks, Clara. I hope so. Though my mom is pretty upset about me staying."

"I--oh, I'm sorry.” She looks upset. Maybe she’s worried my mom will convince me to leave.

"She'll get over it. I promised I'd be back for Easter." We reach the car and I open Clara’s door for her.

"Easter....” She gets in. I go around to my side and do the same.

"Yeah. She, uh, she said you're invited."

"Oh!” She’s caught of guard. Surprised. Uncomfortable. I should’ve waited in mentioning it to her. “I...oh...Wow."

"Well, you still have time to think about it,” I saw starting the car.

"Yeah. Wow. All right."

"I, uh... told her it was early to be inviting you over, but.... I mean, you know... I'd like you to meet her, too." She nods rapidly.

"Okay. I'll think about it." She sounds like she means it. After a minute she speaks again. "You know I've never been more than fifty miles out of the city?"

"Really? Well, I guess you've got everything you need right here. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so I was pretty much dying to get out."

"It never even really occurred to me to ever leave. Permanently, I mean. And travelling's never meant much to me. Come to think of it, nobody I knew growing up ever left, either, not that I know of." She looks at me. "That isn't normal, is it?" I think about what the chief said, about the pie. But that’s just crazy.

"Ah.... Well, I mean, as far as I know, I'm the only one that left, and I had originally planned on coming back...."

"Huh..." Clara goes off then, and for once she doesn’t seem upset by whatever’s on her mind, so I leave her to her thoughts. I focus on the road, but I glance at her whenever I can. She seems a little unsettled after a while, and more so every time I look at her until finally I notice that she’s crying

"Cupcake, what's wrong?"

She wipes at her eyes, not looking at me. She sniffs and gives a feeble laugh.

"Nothing's wrong. I guess...I guess it's been a long day." It’s an excuse, but I have a feeling making her go into it isn’t going to help

"Try to get some rest before you go to work tonight, all right?" She looks over at me and attempts a smile, wiping her eyes again.

“That's...probably a good idea." She touches my knee. "Thanks, Norman..."

"Of course, Clara."
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby xkazzoo » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:02 am

"This place is awesome, everything's monogrammed. And look at these slippers! This must be wolverine pelt or something. Like I am wearing wolverines on my feet!"

"You know we have to get out of here in less than an hour," she calls from the living room," I only paid for one night,"

"Alright, but I am keeping these slippers,"

"You can't walk around in slippers all day,"

"Fine then. I'll just carry them in this complimentary satchel, which is also monogrammed!"

"I believe we we're talking about finding Billy?"

I walk out of the modest bathroom wearing a very comfortable bath robe with a leather satchel wrapped around my shoulder.

"Right, so let's backtrack. Last time you saw him, you were in the airport. You were creating a distraction while he attempted to smuggle...what was it again?"

"The severed head of Werewolf Stalin,"

"Oh...Okay then. So, the next thing you know there are alarms going off and he's being dragged away by a couple of suits. And both of them just so happened to have some familiar ink. You decided you were in over your head and hopped the next plane back to Wasusy," I walk to the fridge and pull out a crisp turkey club," Seems to be I'm up to speed now. So, my biggest question is, how do you expect me to help ya darling?"

"What are you talking about?, she seems confused,"Weren't you the one chosen to solve this case?"

"Well yeah, by process of elimination maybe. WPDs top detective, you remember Remy? Well he went awol trying to crack this one. And by my count the only other capable officer in town is on sick leave with his girly friend. And I'm not about to try and pry him away from 'er. Ladies in this town have a tendency to bruise me," I rub my sore cheek pointedly as I chew the sandwich.

"So that's it? I run back to town and the only gee that can help doesn't even want the job?", she gets up and walks towards me threateningly," Are you telling me that you won't try and save your friend?!"

I take a step back, trying to distance my self from any heavy inanimate objects," Hey hey, I never said I wasn't going to try. I'm just stating the obvious. That being that I don't know why I have to be doing this. That I really don't know what it is I'm doing. That I am seriously not a detective!" I square myself up, adjust my robe, put the turkey club back on the counter and walk by her to the exit,"But in the end, I'm still here. So, I believe we have some work to do?" I open the door.

She doesn't seem very satisfied with my answer. Matter of fact she seems rather unsatisfied with me overall. But finally she walks through the portal and I follow her on our next expedition into the wilderness. I don't worry about the plan so much as I close the door behind us. For as the latch clicks behind me another little yellow door opens up in the distance. Out in dark Wasusy. Something reminds me of that girl I met in the rain a while back.

Looks like I'll be chasing ghosts again.
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby Owen » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:11 pm

"He's late."
I look at my watch. It's one of the few things I kept from Russia, partly because it's solid and dependable but mostly because... well, you get attached to things like watches. I thought I'd put my time there behind me, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately.
Those Tokarevs Vinnie gave us, they don't make them in the US. That's a specialist gun, so MetalNinja and I have been around town, checking out everybody who could have sold something like it. No joy. Even Briggs doesn't know anything about this guy, which should be enough to scare me, but she did come through with this - someone who claims to know what this guy wants. I guess knowing psychos like her does have its advantages. Sometimes.

So we set up a meeting, and here we are in a coffee-shop in town: the guy is late. "Give him time. I'd say he's got reason to be nervous." I say this, knowing that he's probably just taking the time to check around the area, make sure he hasn't been set up, but heck. I'm nervous, and I'm not sure I believe what I'm saying.

Finally, a middle-aged man arrives at the table. "You're late," I say as he pulls out a chair.
"Yeah, well I- hrrrk." Hrrk? He folds unnaturally. Memories.
A warm day, for Moscow, which isn't saying much. The bus is crowded.

The chair crashes to the floor. Someone screams.
Her head hits my shoulder gently. I think for a second she's fallen asleep -

MetalNinja has his gun drawn before the body hits the ground, but no idea who to target. I draw my gun, but I know it's pointless. The knife sticking out of our would-be informant's back is all too obvious, but no sign of the attacker. I motion MetalNinja to put his gun down. "I think... I know who did this."
Warm
....on my shoulder

............ and wet


I look again at my wrist. My watch has stopped.
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby helios » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:44 am

Foolish. Foolish. I think, as I tear back into my hotel room. Should have dealt with the leak earlier. Before he came close to that Owen and his friend, Metalninja.
I deposited my coat over the chair, keeping the revolver strapped to my hip. You never knew.
I begin to pace nervously.
One good thing came out of this. I mused, scratching my chin. I now know what Owen looks like.

I pick out a new coat, and a different haircut. I place a notebook into the coat. A new pair of pistols, silenced, follow.
It was odd. I ponder, as I leave the hotel. That Owen man seemed familar.

The subway is packed, but it doesn't bother me altogther as much as it may have.

I poke a friendly head into a hardwear store, coming out with supplies enough to refit a kitchen. The copper piping would come in particularly helpful. As would the hacksaw.
My third stop is a pawn shop, same as the second. However, unlike the previous store, I fInd what he sought. It's odd, when I think of it, that a dentist would ever pawn off the tools of his trade.
Would he not need them to make back the money he evidently sought?, I ask myself, as I clean the long-neglected tools in a solvent solution strong enough to strip flesh from bone. It is important to have standards.
It does not do to be sloppy, especially when meeting someone new.
Once I had set up, I leave the warehouse, and return to the familiar subway. The cold bites a touch, but nothing that would bother me. I allow myself a small smile.
It was time to get to know the famed Owen Tuz.
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby MetalNinja » Mon May 09, 2011 6:18 pm

I carefully scan the small coffee-shop before swiftly returning my gun to its holster. The person who did this definitely isn't in here, I'd know. Looking at Owen I see something I thought I never would on his face, shock. Something's gotten to him. I doubt it's the dead person who's just collapsed onto his shoulder though, he's seen and done much worse. I need to do something.

I quickly check each of the windows, making a mental note of each and every exit and who/what is outside of each one. Nothing. Right, time to go, the fuzz will be here in no time and I'm sure they'd happily pin this whole thing on us.

"Owen, we've got to go, come on!"
I grab him and swiftly head to the door. It's obviously clicked in his brain what I'm doing and he pulls his gun slyly to his side as we exit the building.
Nothing's changed, street's pretty empty - kinda srange, even for Wasusy. We get in the car and I get away from the damned coffee-shop as quickly as possible, I can tell he needs to go somewhere to think and I know just the place...
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby starseedjenny » Fri May 13, 2011 2:01 am

I'm losing control of myself again.

I don’t know what’s going to happen—not at all. Maybe they plan to blackmail me. Apparently they don’t know who Mr. Wayne is, that they have a much bigger fish than me just inches away from the line—but if they know that Robin is living with him, which they now do, then they know I have access to the means to pay whatever they ask.

And they don’t have any personal issue with Robin, not that I know of—but they’re thugs, hitmen, aren’t they? Though, I had had an idea that I could trust the Metal Ninja, from how he treated me when I had my mask on—but I guess not. They don’t need a better reason than a sweaty wad of cash passed palm to palm. A promise of another handful when the birdgirl is dead would have decided the issue.

Well, if that’s the case, then I’ll just have to not let them.

The manor has come into view; I sit quietly as Norman parks and re-parks. I could fail. They must know what they’re up against. They must be prepared. I might very well die today, and even if they’re blackmailing me, or they want to force me to reveal myself…

I turn and look at the man next to me, and I feel very sad. If I don’t win, or don’t make it…well, if nothing else, I’ll miss him very much.

“Norman…remind me which leg you hurt, would you?”

“My left.”

Without saying anything, I get up and sit on his right leg, in the cramped nook between his body and the steering wheel. One arm, I wrap tightly around him. The other, I rest on his shoulder. Norman sits very still.

I don’t know if anything I do now will ever match what he did for me earlier—accepting what I told him, trying to act as though it doesn’t matter to him even though it must—more than I could ask for. I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again. “Thank you for today. I mean it. Really.” I closely watch his eyes, hoping he believes me, hoping he understands.

But he doesn’t seem to be in good enough shape to really understand. “Uh, uh, y-yeah. You’re welcome. R-really.” He’s pale. A vague impression that I probably shouldn’t—I push it away and kiss him. His hands rise up from where they rested and he moves, underneath me. I hold onto him more tightly until I realize he isn’t just shifting around, he’s squirming; he takes me by the shoulders and pushes me away, holding me away, gasping like someone just tried to drown him.

I’m hurt and surprised, for a second. But then I remember, and wonder what I expected to happen, if not what did. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” Somewhat repentant, I slide off his lap and settle myself next to him again.

He’s still panting next to me, almost, wheezing, trying to catch his breath. “I, -I, -I…”

Trying to explain. He doesn’t need to do that. I understand. “It’s okay,” I tell him, leaning against his side. When I glance down, his fingers are twitching around his pocket. I wonder what’s in there. The glasses? I don’t need to consider any more. That one possibility is plenty enough. Staring at him, I softly put my hand on his. He’s looking at me, breathing unsteadily; it’s my fault and I’ll wait for him to recover. But not with whatever is in his pocket.

After a moment, he turns his hand over and grips mine, firmly, stronger than a handshake. I clutch right back. Unbreakable. Whatever he was reaching for, whatever I made him reach for—for the moment, he turned away from it and took my hand instead.

Gently, I ask, “Did anyone ever tell you…you smell nice?”

“Wh-what?” He laughs, a little. “No.”

“Not like anything, just like…you, I guess. Nice.”

Still recovering. “Ah, heh…Thanks, I guess…”

I lean my face into his shoulder. All the better to smell you with, my dear. From the corner of my eye, I can see the hesitation in the motion of his arm when he reaches over and gingerly strokes my hair.

I sigh as my heart tugs at me again, a barb in the soft place that knows this might be the last time here. “You’re really something, you know?”

He pauses, just a second. “Ah, thanks. So’re you.”

“Thanks.” I make a face into his arm. He’s…he’s him, and what am I? A liar.

“You are. For putting up with me.”

I don’t put up with him. Sometimes I think I do, with his need for distance and the damned sunglasses and all that goes with them—but when all is said and done and he’s here with me, so very present, like this… All I can do is mumble, “Worth it,” for which he has no answer.

We’re almost peaceful, for a few minutes, until I am seized by the fear that Owen and the Metal Ninja will arrive while we’re sitting here. That Norman will be here to hear or see whatever is going to take place. I’ve got to say goodbye.

“I…think I should go now. My friends…will be getting here soon.” It’s hard to say, thick in my throat but not in my voice. My friends.

He echoes my thoughts. “Y-your friends?” The hesitation in the words scares me a little. Does he know something he shouldn’t, somehow? I will myself to sound calm.

“The ones Pearl told me were looking for me.”

“Right, right. I’ll, uh, walk you in.”

“Oh…” I squeeze his hand again before letting go and getting out of the car. I should have guessed he’d offer, but—I want him out of here. “Yes.”

He follows me out and takes my hand again. Once more, I’m touched. I know he doesn’t want to and I notice, this time, that his palm is cool and damp. We head up to the door. I open it and stand in the doorway, unwilling to let him follow me in, unsure how to go about it. “I’ll see you later, then.”

“Will you be careful?” Worry, even without the edge in his voice. In the heart of the words. Still worried about me—because of Seamus?

But I’ll be careful, as careful as I can be, today… “Of course,” I reply, almost flippantly, as I stand on my toes to kiss his cheek.

“I love you, Cupcake.” It sounds too much like a goodbye. No matter how much I like to hear it from him. I suppress the frown rising to my lips.

“I love you, too.” I pause. “If I have to stay safe, so do you, all right?”

“Yeah, I will,” he assures me.

If I don’t go now, I never will. I squeeze his hand again, let go, and shut him out.

I want to watch him leave, through the window, but instead I go back through the house, into the kitchen, and hide two long knives under the waistband of my skirt.



There’s nothing wrong with equaling the odds.
G: Like helplessness experiments. That's the biggest problem in zombie apocalypses. People who survive will always eventually come to question why they bother.
Seamus: The biggest problem in zombie apocalypses is poor planning and not enough ammo.


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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby Owen » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:31 pm

It is Tuesday June 15th, 1937, this much I know. As I look around and see that I'm on a bus, I become aware that I know this with the unquestionable certainty that only a dream can provide. Rock-solid fact, yet somehow not reassuring for it. Why is that? What will happen here? And slowly, I realise that I know this place. This time, to be more accurate. And I remember what's going to happen, and her head hits my shoulder and I start to scream, and I wake up.

I've had this dream before, though not for a while. The dream that won't even quite leave me when I am awake; one final image remaining. The shadowy face, so vaguely remembered, if at all, that it usually slips away, or becomes someone else, someone nonsensical. Henry, or MetalNinja - once, even my landlady's cat. Now it is the strange, shifting camouflage patterns of the fiddle player's coat, but it is becoming something new and I am afraid because now I know that this will be the last time it has to change.

Strapped down on the cold wooden bed in the darkness, I open my eyes and realise that the face of the man above me belongs, without a doubt, to the man in my dream. The man who killed Yana.

------------------------

I must have fallen asleep again somehow, or been put to sleep, because now I am alone in the room. My eyes adjust slowly to the dark and I see a thin sliver of grey light entering the room from underneath something. Not a door... hanging. Sheets hanging from the ceiling, probably rubber. For soundproofing, which is not a good sign. I can't see much else.

How did I get here?

-------------------------

After our informant was killed I told MetalNinja all I knew about the man we were looking for. The CCCP's - the Soviet Union's top assassin, it was said, but nobody knew for sure who or what he was working for. Nobody really knew anything about him. We called him The Chameleon. Of course, before Yana, I had no idea of all this. A vague whisper here or there, maybe, dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theories - as if we weren't already scared enough by the threat of a visit from quiet men, in the early hours of the morning.

He knows the basic story already, but I make him listen as I fill in the blanks.

I came to Russia, disillusioned by capitalism. Tempted by ideals, hopeful perhaps, but most of all glad to be anywhere but home. Far away from Henry, from the streets and the rich and the tenements of Wasusy. I had tried joining the military in America, hoping to give some shape to my life, maybe to stir some patriotism, but taking orders wasn't for me. Neither was the mindless cruelty of the drill instructors and I deserted to avoid court marshal after finally lashing out at my superior officer.

For a while, everything had seemed to be working out as planned. I had a desk job, nothing exciting but steady work, and I made friends. Many were others like me, from America or elsewhere, hopeful for a new life. But slowly the optimism around us began to grate, as we realised the things that were being done to maintain it. People began to disappear, nobody important, remote acquaintances perhaps, and nobody talked about it.

I found myself recruited into a sort of resistance. Altering official documents slightly, ordering one too many crates of food, that sort of thing, and making sure it found its way into the right hands. My contact was Yana, a girl who worked at the ministry and would help to unload the deliveries I had arranged. This is the part I haven't told MetalNinja. It's the same old story: we soon became friends, and more than friends. She was involved in more than just redirected supplies, including passing on information concerning senior ministers. She became a target.

After she died, I stopped what I was doing. I dedicated myself to finding the Chameleon, but no matter how many secret policemen I caught up with, how many high-ranking officials, I never got close. I did, however, get good at what I was doing, and finally I saved enough money to leave the country. I told myself I had stopped caring: no causes anymore. Causes get you killed.

And now this. Why is he here? I was sure he wasn't here for me. That is, until I returned to the hotel room, checked that my security measures were undisturbed, and found him inside - presumably, anyway. The next thing I remember is waking up here.

-------------------------

It feels like hours later. I am drifting off to sleep again when the hanging sheets are brushed aside and briefly, I am blinded by light from beyond. Here he is. Maybe now, at least, I'll find out what he wants.
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Re: The P.I. Casefiles, Volume IV

Postby starseedjenny » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:49 am

I've been waiting in the entry for a long time when the doorbell rings. I jump up anxiously to answer it, not giving Alfred a chance to get there first. Not this time.

But I peek out the window and see only a fattish man of fifty or so in a too-expensive suit. Frowning, uneasy, I open the door halfway, one hand on a knife handle behind the doorframe. He stares, raises an eyebrow, lifts his hat imperceptibly to me. Smiles in a way I'm sure he thinks is charming. "I don't believe we've met. I'm James Duncan. Miss...?"

I know the name. Big name in Wasusy. Businessman. Runs pieces of almost everything, on the directing boards of most major corporations in the city, though as far as I know he doesn't own any himself. Three times married and divorced, if I remember the tabloids. But, in any case, he's not here to kill me. I surreptitiously glance over his shoulder, trying to see if anyone is hiding out in the yard.

He's fishing for a first name, but... "Minnelli. Can I help you?"

"Ah, yes. I'm looking for Mr. Wayne. We have some matters of business to attend to."

I don't like him. Pompous. Not that it matters. "He isn't here."

Someone touches my shoulder and I look back--Alfred. I step to the side gratefully, go back through the house into room as I listen to Alfred lead the man inside, give him some tea, deliver the official story about an impulsive, indefinite vacation that I've heard him tell over the phone dozens of times. Mr. Duncan doesn't seem to be paying very good attention, responding only with vague hms and I sees, as though Bruce is two rooms away and he could find him if he could just get out of the entry and look for him. But, eventually, Alfred gets him to leave. I return to my waiting place as I hear the door open. Arrive in the entry just in time to see Alfred turning away from the closed door, looking old and very tired. I wonder how long he can keep this up.

I look at the floor as he passes me, and I sit back down to watch the door.
G: Like helplessness experiments. That's the biggest problem in zombie apocalypses. People who survive will always eventually come to question why they bother.
Seamus: The biggest problem in zombie apocalypses is poor planning and not enough ammo.


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