Penny in the Well (Peregrine x Igraine)

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Peregrine, Jan 5, 2014.

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  1. From the outside, the building looked fit for nothing but demolition. The old brick facade was cracked, and one dilapidated wall had already started to crumble away, linking two windows into a gaping, ragged hole. No windows had survived the passage of time, and most of them were boarded over and covered in red, black, and green graffiti. A couple fragments of glass still lingered, resiliently clinging to the pieces of decomposing wood to which they had long ago been mounted. In the daylight they gleamed dully, covered in the grime that could only be created through uncounted years in rank city air.

    It was not the kind of place that any self-respecting man would want to find himself. And yet, twice weekly, men from all over the great state of Virginia would find themselves in these shadowed alleyways, carefully bundled up in the oldest jackets they owned, the kind of rags that they would otherwise never have let into their wardrobe, if they hadn't been needed for just such purposes. However, underneath the ragged hats and jackets, rich, brightly colored silk occasionally caught the dingy street light, and priceless gems holding musty fire in their center, drew the eye. They came to blow money the way only rich people, people who would never need to worry about where the next luxury would come from, could understand. After all, this building was owned by the most successful underground casino chain in the eastern US.

    A passerby would not be able to tell from the outside, but one room inside the building was intact. And from that point onwards, everything changed. The broken old concrete walls were changed to carefully smoothed plaster coated in a layer of warm, rich paint. The cracked floors changed to a thick red carpet, carefully patterned to distract the eye without seeming overbearing. The lighting was soft and comfortable, and everything was carefully staged to give the impression of a luxury hotel. Down a long flight of dark wooden stairs covered in a red carpet runner, the walls opened into a massive domed room. Lights were artfully strung across the ceiling giving the whole room an even lighting and keeping any corner from being hidden in shadow. It was the perfect casino, with tables upon tables, and cameras blinking from every alcove. There was no place to hide and no way to cheat unnoticed. Or so they would like to believe.

    It was the kind of place that you couldn't get into without knowing someone. The "hobo" huddled by the door eyed everyone who passed and a single word from him would lock the door from the inside. If that wasn't enough to chase away a curious bystander, the small pistol strapped to his back certainly would be. It was a place you couldn't get into without the right contacts or a great deal of luck.

    It was a good thing that Ethan Sryker dealt in luck. He walked into the building moments after another couple, a limpid lady hanging on her man's obese arm. His chubby fingers gripped a bill, and he proffered it to the doorman. But just as the doorman reached out his own dirty fingers to grab the bill, a gust of wind raced through the passage snagging the bill and tugging it right out from between their fingers. Ethan laughed silently as he watched the bill quickly carried away. He slipped through the door as all three people turned, the doorman reaching out desperately for his reward. By the time they turned back, the door had already silently swung closed again.

    Ethan shed his own dirty coat as soon as he entered the room revealing a neat black suit with a green tie that offset the color of his eyes. He ran light fingers along his stubbled jaw as he handed the suit over to a neat man in a red jacket who waited by the door for just such a purpose. And then he set off down the stairs, well polished shoes leading him into the room.

    It was too easy. Had he wanted to he could have ripped off the casino for every cent it had, and they would never have been able to prove anything. After all, how could he possibly control how the randomly shuffled cards were put together, when there was no way to predict what card was coming next? After all, he couldn't possibly control where the roulette ball was going to come to a stop, and which slot machine would spew out the winning pattern, now could he? But he didn't want only one payoff; he wanted to be able to come back. He had entered the casino with a hundred dollars in his pocket. When he came back out, he planned to have over a hundred thousand. That would take care of the bills for the next couple months, he thought with a wry grin.

    He was sitting at a high stakes poker table when he noticed the first flicker of something odd. He paused, staring at the thread of chance that had drawn his attention, until the person by his side coughed politely, reminding him that it was his turn to bid. Even though he was a thousand dollars into the game that persistent flicker shouldn't be ignored. He folded and stepped away from the table, leaving a hand that would doubtless have got him several thousand closer to his goal.

    But how could he ignore the fact that, within the next fifteen minutes, there was a ninety-five percent chance the FBI were going to come bursting through the door? Even as he stared at this visual representation of something his brain instinctively understood, the number flickered and bumped up by two percent as some unknowable situation that might have prevented their arrival passed without an issue. It was time to go. But as he walked calmly over to the counter, traded his chips for a nice pile of cash, and put his hand on the door, he noticed something else.

    If he left in that way, right then, there was a sixty-eight percent chance he was going to get shot by a member of the mob. Ethan swore quietly, raking his fingers through shaggy blue-black hair. As he stood there deliberating over a sixty-eight percent and the likelihood of him causing the bullet to miss, the number jumped by six percent. He turned around, moving calmly back to a table near the exit. He reclined, looking serene, but behind calm eyes his mind was racing. It looked like there was someone at this casino tonight, someone both the mob and the FBI had a reason to acquire. And, of course, the FBI would certainly take advantage of this situation to bust as many people involved in this operation as possible. If he wanted to get out without having to face down the mob, he was going to need to take advantage of the arrival of the FBI. He concentrated for a moment, and watched as the numbers flickered before his vision, so quickly that, had they not only been inside his head, they would have been impossible to follow. The chances of the FBI arriving in less than eight minutes were so infinitesimally small as to be completely discounted. That gave him eight minutes to figure out what it would take to get an unfortunate FBI agent to leave with him firmly in hand.

    He walked over to a doorway, and took a full minute to make sure that when he stepped through it, there was no chance, not even the slimmest possibility, that he would be seen. When his action was certain he stepped into the back room, walked briskly down the corridor and into a side room. As luck would have it, there he found a rack of the suits worn by the wait-staff. What a fortunate coincidence. He chuckled softly, pleased with himself, and quickly traded out his own neat suit for a proper uniform. He firmly lifted on the latch on a nearby locker. What were the chances that the mechanism holding it all together would malfunction just as he did so, and that waiting for him in the corner was a gleaming gold name tag? For the rest of this evening, he would be Walter Bryce. There were worse names in the world.

    He made his way confidently out into the corridor, counting on the fact that no one would care enough to recognize that he didn't belong and ensuring that those who did had something minor to keep hold of their attention. Even if he was caught the worst they would do would be to throw him out. Considering the FBI had the highest chance of being here in less than four minutes, they would probably wind up grabbing him anyways. It was all up to chance.

    His grin was warm and friendly as he nodded politely to a passing couple. The woman was flamboyantly dressed in a vivid pink dress that v-necked all the way down to her belly and the man struggled to keep himself from running into anything in front of him as his attention wandered. Ethan settled a little ways from the door, in clear view for when the agents came bursting in and assumed a look of abstract busyness. The chances that anyone would bother him before the tactical team arrived were small indeed.

    Ethan laughed softly, a wide smile spreading across his lips. It was going to be fun to see how much effort it took to get away from America's finest.
     
  2. SA Brigit 'Bree' Walsh nodded as she looked over the schematics one last time, grey eyes narrowed thoughtfully, one leather-clad finger tracing the outline from the building's 'front' to the belly of the building, to the illicit casino for what had to be the hundredth time. Even here in the back of this covert SUV, her M4 resting against her knee, the thick soles of her black Hi-Tech boots tapping a tuneless rhythm against the floorboards, Bree just had to run this rut over again, digging a trench in her mind that she could run in her sleep if she had to.

    They'd only get one chance at this, getting that idiot Victor out of there all in one piece, without bullet-made ventilation courtesy of the mobsters he'd pissed off. He'd gone to ground in Jersey after transferring millions in mob money to the Cayman Islands - why the hell he hadn't followed the money soon thereafter would remain a mystery for the ages, as far as Bree was concerned.

    But no, no this guy wasn't going anywhere too far from the epicenter of mortal danger. Of course not. Not when you have a jones as bad as Victor's. Hell, gambling with your life was every bit as delectably-tempting-siren-song-enticing as gambling with all your stolen mob blood money it seemed. But this guy was about to seriously crap out.

    "Walsh, you ready?" She glanced up at the enormous man in the front seat, the FBI SWAT commander for the Richmond Field Office, SA Javier Gomez. Nodding her head quickly, she folded the schematic along well-worn creases and tucked it into oneof her pants pockets, smiling her assent as she put the ear plug into her ear, clicked the mic to check the radio transmission. This was a courtesy call on their part with the Organized Crime team, busting the illegal casino here alongside the [hopeful] recovery of that dumb ass Victor, as quietly and unobtrusively as possible (or rather, as quietly and unobtrusively as a SWAT bust ever really gets?)

    "Yeah, good to go Javier, thanks," she replied as she pulled the balaclava down over her face, auburn hair tucked and braided at the nape of her neck, all signs of her true identity tucked under layers of black camo and kevlar body armor. Working in the Organized Crime unit was definitely not one of those high-profile jobs, where you wanted everyone and their brother checking you out in all your glory on the evening news. That kind of publicity didn't seem to shine a... Ah... "positive" spotlight on the happiness, well-being, and peace of mind [not to mention longevity] of family and beloved friends.

    No, not when these rabid dogs found themselves all cornered in a place where money or influence or corruption couldn't help them slip free anymore, with nowhere else to escape but through the guts of the agents standing right in front of them...

    And no, it didn't matter to Bree in the least, that the only real family she had anymore were two cats and her pussy-whipped brother Michael. For all he irked the hell out of her, she really loved that poor bastard whose exquisite, well-bred wife gave his 'mannish' sister the stink eye every time she showed up on their doorstep (usually after receiving a furtive invitation-via-e-mail or a whispered voice mail begging her to come up for the holidays please please please!?)

    "Your men got my guy's face down, right?"

    "You know we do Walsh. Safe as a babe in the manger - or some shit like that," Gomez turned to give her that patented 'relax, you're in good hands' smile that probably worked wonders on most every other person on the entire damn planet, probably warm enough to grow hothouse plants in Antarctica - but Bree wasn't buying it. Not tonight.

    Time was of the essence. They had been stupid-lucky-amazingly-blessed to have gotten the information they had, that Victor would be there tonight - was already in there right now as a matter of fact. But no one was dumb enough to think that if the feds had the info, that the mobsters looking for Victor didn't have it too. Somewhere in the night, unnervingly close Bree just knew, the wise guys looking for Victor would be closing in as well, this very minute.

    But Gomez knew his shit, that was for good and damned sure. The first team cordoned off the exterior of the decrepit-looking building like the well-oiled machine they really were, while the second team - Bree in tow - moved into the interior. The hobo-turned-armed-doorman at the entryway didn't even bother with any kind of fight when he saw the numbers of FBI SWAT descending on him (though for a split second, she hadn't been sure - there'd been something in his eyes, some calculation he abandoned at the very last second).

    Bree relieved the 'doorman' of his piece, handing it off to one of the security team before she set the guy to his knees, cuffing him with one of the string of zip ties she had clipped to her belt - and then kept right on behind the entry team.
     
    #2 Muirgen, Jan 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  3. Ethan knew the moment the SWAT team was going to break down the door. For the past thirty seconds the probability had been going crazy, countless chances for both havoc and peace flitting past in the blink of an eye. He wasn't looking for violence, even though it would have been easy to give the mob the chances it needed to take out the agents. A single loose finger, accidentally pulling the trigger with a sweaty tremor, and chaos would have erupted. The patrons in the casino would have time to flee, whoever the mob or FBI was looking for would likely get away. Ethan almost certainly would be able to as well, but there was also no doubt that path was soaked in blood.

    And so the team moved efficiently into the corridor, bursting through the door, shouting at everyone to get on the ground. There was chaos in the room. One high pitched scream from a lady, and everyone was scrambling, trying to get away when there was nowhere to go. A large portion of the staff was, at this very moment, making for the bolt holes that riddled the whole building. But no one in the main room was getting away. Ethan raised his hands calmly, kneeling onto the ground before pressing his forehead to the carpeted floor. The agent quickly cuffed his hands with twist ties, before racing away.

    On the other side of the room, one of the members of staff had drawn a gun. an agent was making for him, screaming at him to drop the weapon. The man was moments away from firing when a nearby patron tripped on a piece of rug that had been kicked up moments before. He tripped, caught himself on the edge of the table, but sent one of the chairs flying. That chair was quickly tossed to the side by another fleeing patron, which flew over a table and clubbed the man holding the gun firmly on the side of the head. He let out a surprised yelp and lowered his gun, just in time to be tackled by the agent. The gun went flying and landed in a nearby bowl of punch.

    Fights were fun, in that way. Whenever things happened quickly, the chances that something could happen, and happen easily, grew exponentially. It was not an ideal situation for the FBI, and had been intended to go a lot worse than it did. But people who might normally have fought found themselves thinking about the terrifying effect of a M-4 on the human body, and those who might have caused chaos met a stream of unfortunate accidents, including, a personal favorite, the man who slipped on an escaped roulette ball and knocked himself out on the edge of a poker table. He would wake with a splitting headache and some damage to his pride, but no harm other than that.

    Within a minute, everyone who had not already escaped the building was subdued. Many of the gamblers in the den were weeping, and the smell of soiled laundry permeated the room. The SWAT team moved with quick efficiency, more firmly securing those who had only partially been cuffed in the opening moments, including Ethan himself. The agent cast him a look of surprise when Ethan helpfully crossed his hands comfortably across the small of his back to receive a set of proper handcuffs, but quickly decided that "Walter", must just be interested in being seen as cooperative.

    It didn't take much guesswork for Ethan to figure out who the target was. There was only one man in here who had more than one gun pointed at his head, and he was bawling louder than even some of the women in the room, blubbering about how he hadn't done anything wrong. He was disgusting, in a childlike way. He had set his chances, and every time he hid away another dollar, those chances dropped. Now it was time for him to face his reward.

    Ethan let out a small breath, and rolled slightly to the side to ease some of the strain on his shoulders and neck. He hoped he would be allowed to get up soon.
     
  4. "Oh for the love of... Shut up. Just... Shut it," Bree growled under her breath as she shooed away one of the SWAT guys - Murray, the FNG who was just a tad too overenthusiastic about taking down poor Victor. Like a damn proud puppy dog that had just taken its first dump outside in the green grass, he was waving the muzzle of his M4 in the poor bastard's face and looking to the female agent with that ridiculous, shit-eating grin for her stamp of approval.

    "Good boy, Murray. That'll do noob, that'll do - we'll get your Scooby snack later. Now could you kindly please stop panicking my guy, and back the fuck off before he wets himself?" Bree grimaced with disgust beneath the balaclava as she looked down at Victor. He hadn't quite pissed his pants yet, but the combination of tears and snot flowing copiously down his face, unchecked by hands already zip-tied behind his back, was just... Yeah, it was foul.

    Murray deflated just a bit, but trotted off good-naturedly enough like the good puppy he was way deep down, with a more lop-sided grin now and a small wave of his leather-clad hand for Bree. And all the while, Victor bawled and wailed pitifully, like the enormous child he truly was.

    Bree knelt beside him, pointing the muzzle of her own rifle to the floor before she snapped her fingers impatiently in front of Victor's face. "Hey! Hey genius, time to get a grip. Look at me, that's right - look me in the eyes. Yeah Victor, you know me," she whispered just under her breath, her voice deliberately low and even, forcing him to quiet his hysterics just to hear her out. It was an old Mom trick that worked great with kids prone to tantrums - and big damned babies too, it seemed.

    She laughed softly when she saw the dawning light of realization grow in Victor's eyes, nodding her head slowly in time with his recognition, though he still snuffled loudly, all snotty wet and miserable. "Mmhmm, Agent Walsh. What the hell were you thinking, Victor? The levels of stupid involved here are just breathtak.. ing... "

    Bree's voice trailed off as something tugged at the edge of her vision. Maybe it was the flash of green eyes that caught her attention as they peered up from the floor, impatient rather than darting nervously about, or filled with tears of regret. Or maybe it was the way the entire place writhed with bustle and fear, dread and rage and despairing confusion, all but for this one man in a waiter's jacket, as if he were an untouchable island in a turbulent, wave-tossed sea. He was either on the 'slow' side - and the intelligence that lit those eyes and framed his features, said anything but; or he had a reason to be here, a reason to be calm in the eye of this storm.

    He was an anomaly, an aberration she knew instinctively. Her gut turned as she stood to her feet, warning sirens screaming in Bree's head when she knelt beside him. There was something... Uncanny about this man, something not right at all and she couldn't put her finger on what it might be - and she just hated that lost, insecure feeling. It pissed her off, the questions she couldn't answer right off, the pieces that wouldn't fit quite right in the puzzle. He didn't feel 'mob,' didn't have that dead-eye stare of a seasoned hit man, but she was in no position to take a chance with Victor's life. Pain in the ass that he was, this suicidal gambler was the damned golden goose of insider info - no way she was losing him now.

    Her leather-clad fingers cupped the young man's chin as she held his gaze for several long seconds, grey eyes studying that face with the burning intensity of a thousand suns, searching for... She knew not what. But she would. She damn well would soon enough. Her eyes darted toward the guy's name tag: 'Walter.'

    Heh. Yeah right. "No damn way you're a 'Walter.' Good try though, I'll give you that. I cannot wait to have a chat with you,'" she said wryly before releasing the man's face, eyes narrowed suspiciously as she stood to her feet. "Murray? Murray!" she called, the young SWAT member trotting toward her eagerly, almost endearing in his desire to please. "Bring 'Mr. Walter' along, would you?"

    And she turned back to Victor, who'd begun blubbering his thick, wet sobs all over again. With a grimace, Bree undid the kevlar vest around her own chest, and wrapped it as best she could around the guy's shoulders in a gesture that would have been almost reassuring, but for the words that followed. "For heaven's sake Victor, you have the right to be silent. Do us all a damned favor and make the most of it, would you?"
     
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  5. He watched the agent who strode her way over to the target with a measure of fascination. Self-confident, demanding, controlling, authoritative, and wanted to be in charge of everything. He kind of liked her. He studied her back intently, watching her interact with the man of whom he only vaguely caught the name. Victor. Anyone with a dab of sense would know this was a hunt that had been going on for a while. There was a small measure of pleasure in his own gaze as he eyed the man. He would be the perfect distraction. Sure, they would take him back to the precinct. But, with no eyes focused in his direction, it would be easy to slip away. And no one would really bother to look for one waiter.

    That was, of course, until the numbers suddenly shifted. He barely caught the flicker. She was going to look over at him. It was only a one percent chance, something as common as the flick of the head to displace a piece of hair that had plastered itself to her forehead. And then, so quickly that even he barely caught the change, the number was one hundred. And not only was she going to look over, she was going to come over. And there was nothing he could do to halt it.

    How long had it been since his luck, his honest to goodness luck that had nothing to do with any skill of his, had been that bad? His whole escape plan had been relying on obscurity, of no one knowing or caring about him. But he knew from the look in her eyes that there was no way he was going to be let go. The boss, her fingers clamped uncomfortably around his chin, wanted to talk to him, and nothing was going to stop it. Especially not now that an agent who almost slobbered with eagerness to please had him firmly in grasp.

    He had to find a way out of this. He had to find a way to take everyone's mind onto something else, so completely that his own transportation would be relegated to lowest priority again; something done only through ritual. He scrolled through the numbers, paying no attention to where he was walking and only avoiding stumbling because he saw when it was most likely to happen. When he finally stumbled, and nearly fell to the ground, pulling a certain puppy with him, it was entirely on purpose. He had found his one shot. And, in all honesty, Ethan hated it. He was not cold blooded. He did not want to sacrifice others for his own gain. But he did not want to deal with the cops. And he especially did not want to deal with the FBI.

    All Victor had to look forward to was a life in jail. And, unless he cut some deal for the wealth of information that must surely be stored away in his head, he would be spending it there. And that was surely exactly what the FBI was counting on. They wanted him to make a deal. And having him shot by a mob gunman would not only divert the FBI's attention, it would send the whole operation spiraling towards chaos. All it cost was the life of one man. Did he take it? Or did he choose to face down the steely grip of the FBI, and see just how far his lying face could get him. They would wonder at the money in his bank account, when the last recorded job he had held was when he was seventeen years old. To them, the only possibility would be that he was involved in something, most likely drugs. Even with the receipt showing he had won small-scale lotteries twice, they would never believe that his income was entirely legal. Well, clean money, at least, if not entirely legal in acquisition, since gambling was illegal in most states. They would want to hold him, would likely stretch as many bogus charges as they could muster, working in an underground den as one of the first. And if he had to break out of jail, they would never stop looking for him.

    He couldn't take that chance. He was no criminal, and did not want to live his life under a false identity. He was a free spirit, and while he did not like to be bound by the law, he didn't go about flaunting his ability to beat it, either. Unlike Victor.

    The man had to die. That was the only solution. And, as soon as his mind was made up, the numbers came together so clean and neat, it was as if this fate had already been decided upon.




    The face of the mob hitman was twisted in disgust. He had warned the boss that this tip-off wouldn't have reached their ears alone, had told him that the very best thing to do would be to bust into the building as soon as they were sure that Victor was in there, and kill anyone who got in the way. But the boss had wanted to do it quietly. If they weren't going to be the only ones there, all the more reason to do it quietly. They didn't have the funds or resources right now to risk giving the cops any more ammunition against them. They would wait for Victor to leave the building, and then they would take their shot. After all, how many cops would come for one rogue accountant?

    A whole damn fleet of them, apparently. He had barely had five minutes warning before the fleet of cars had poured into the area, with enough guns to wipe out the whole mob. They had no choice but to announce the retreat. He had been one of the few left behind, strategically positioned to be able to take a single shot if the opportunity presented itself. But the FBI weren't stupid enough to leave a target as valuable as Victor open to sniper fire. He had stopped looking a few moments ago, waiting for the team that had gone below to resurface, the man who knew their secrets rising with them. He swore, and pressed his eye back to the scope.

    The sudden burst of swearing that followed that was significantly more violent. There was a man in the scope, staring directly at him with blazing green eyes. He pushed himself backwards. How on earth could a cop possibly have figured out his position that easily. He pressed forward again, staring intently at the man. He would swear he was looking right at him. But he wasn't a cop. He was dressed like one of the staff in the casino. But there was no doubt that the man was staring at him.

    And then, he winked. The hitman swore again, violently, but kept his eye pressed to the scope. How was that even possible. The green-eyed man was pushed to the side by an irate looking SWAT man, and he was about to look away again when he noticed something. A head, a very familiar looking head.

    It only took him half a second to identify it. That was Victor's head, lined up right in the center of the crossfire. There was no time to question his good luck. he squeezed the trigger quickly, sending one massive bullet flying on a path destined to strike its target. There was no way for it to miss.

    The gunshot would have been heard, and the sudden spray of blood would be impossible to ignore. The other hitmen would have heard the shot, and everyone would be scrambling to get away. It was time for him to follow suit. Leaving the FBI to deal with one worthless corpse.
     
    #5 Peregrine, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  6. In the very instant Victor's head exploded in a shower of blood and brain and bone, Bree's whole world blew apart.

    One moment, she was leaving the casino with Victor, Murray 'escorting' the strange, green-eyed man right in front of them with extreme prejudice. And the next... ?

    The next, her ears were ringing with the rifle's retort despite the distance, a giant's hand having picked her up like a play thing and slammed her into the cold brick wall of the decrepit building. The back of her head slammed with a stunning force against it, only the helmet she wore over the balaclava keeping her from a bloody mess reminiscent of Victor's own as his body crumpled to the sidewalk.

    Bree slid down the wall to the ground, her legs splaying out before her, leaving her sitting there limp and listless, she thought a little crazily in this whole new slow-motion world, like an enormous, discarded doll. And that is when the pain began to hit, exploding from a pinpoint of excruciating pain into a blossom of white hot agony that spread from her collar bone to her chest, her neck and then to the very roots of her hair. Her left arm simply... Stopped. She could not feel it, move it, her gloved hand lying limp and useless in her lap as she moaned softly.

    Somehow the fingers of Bree's right hand fumbled at the straps of her helmet, weakly tossing it to the ground. She snatched clumsily at the balaclava, pulling it over her head and ripping it away from her face pale, gasping. Bree felt like a fish out of water, her every breath torturous, painful and utterly worthless no matter how much she tried to gulp into her lungs. There just didn't seem to be anymore air left in her world.

    Wide, disbelieving eyes dipped toward her useless arm. The whole left side of her chest, just below her collarbone, was too shiny, too bright, slick and blacker than her uniform should be... Oh God...

    Some small, still functioning part of her brain whispered something about a ricochet, obviously a ricochet from the sniper's bullet through Victor's brain pan. Something about how stupid she'd been, to wrap her bullet-proof vest around the man with only half a head now - and wasn't that going to be a closed casket funeral, hmm? Instinctively Bree shoved the cloth of the balaclava into the bleeding hole in her chest, knowing she had to stop... Stop the bleeding and...

    She screamed - or at least she thought she did. The Bree inside her head sure did, the pain cocooning her in a torturous veil. She could sense more than see Murray rushing to her side, ignoring the obviously dead man and shouting something about an agent... An agent down...

    The edges of her vision began to blur, blacken, her eyes losing all sense of color, all colors bleeding to dirty shades of charcoal and black - all colors that was, but for a flash of the most intense green eyes she'd ever seen...
     
  7. Why was it, even when he would swear he had accounted for everything, something went wrong? It had not been an ideal plan, but it was the best he had. And he had worked it into perfection. But how could he honestly believe that perfection could be obtained within less than five minutes? He had seen the numbers. Like he always saw the numbers. But this was the second time something had come about, happened so suddenly that he could not alter it, and there was no way to alter it, even if he had the time. Certainty was a scary thing. It meant, no matter what anyone did, it was going to happen. Nothing, not man, not machine, not god himself could stop it from coming true.

    She was bleeding. Bleeding out so quickly that the ambulance would not have a chance to get to her before she died. And this had been his plan. His clever little way of escaping, free of charge. All it had cost was one life. And now two. It felt as though his insides were ripping themselves apart. He stared, wild eyed, at the blood leaking down her side. A part of him wanted to rush up to her, apologize for what he had done. The rest of him just wanted to flee. He had been released by the SWAT man, there was no one looking at him. The mob would be retreating as fast as it could, before the cops showed up. It would not take him much effort to evade the incoming reinforcements who would soon be canvasing the area.

    But if he left her alone, she would die. There was already a chance that she wasn't going to make it, and he could see the numbers falling as her chances at life got slimmer and slimmer. He had not wanted to take one life to be able to escape. And now he was going to take two. Had he thought he was god, that he could get away so cleanly? Had he honestly believed nothing could ever touch him? He had lived his life by pure luck, and had abused his abilities shamelessly, for his own entertainment. Was this some sort of punishment, for believing everything could always go his way?

    But even that was the vanity talking. Believing that he was important enough to impact some sort of divine retribution was as childish as believing that nothing could ever go wrong. The numbers were the only certainty he lived by, and when it came to the numbers, he was a god. His eyes went hard, but it wasn't the agent he was looking at. He was looking at the numbers. They controlled this world, they registered everything, laid it out to him in a way that could be interpreted. And he could change them. He could change the world. He could change the outcome. He had done it before, so many times that it had become as natural as breathing. Perhaps there was something wrong in believing he had the right to tamper with the world. But he did not believe in destiny. He made his own fate.

    Ethan's mind grasped onto the numbers, coiled among them like some grotesque worm. And then he began to squeeze. He had always relegated his ability into two categories. There was probability. The chance that something was going to happen. The chance that the roulette ball was going to slide into a certain spot, or that a person was going to hear a noise, or even bother to turn and look. He had always seen life as a combination of probabilities, and that was the thing with which he played.

    And then there was luck. Something so impossible that even chance might never have seen it coming. Something so improbable that it didn't even deserve to be considered. He had only ever played around with luck carefully, skirting it like a man skirting a snake, enraptured by its beauty but knowing that a single wrong move could cause it to turn upon him. Now, now he did not care. He was one with the numbers, oblivious to everything going around him. Someone ran into him and he staggered sideways, but caught his balance by reflex. He didn't even note the disturbance.

    This was far beyond anything he had ever attempted before. The numbers had never resisted his prompting before, but this time they fought. At first it was easy enough, hardly any different from his normal manipulations. And then things began to flicker. One minute her chance at survival would draw close to eighty percent, the next it would flicker to five. He would force it back up, and it would jump wildly all over the place. But he had never cared as much about anything as he did about this now. Eventually what he was doing lost all meaning. It was no longer about saving the detective, about finding a way around his own guilt. All that existed was his will. His will and the numbers.

    When Ethan began to register the world around him again, his head hurt so bad that it was a miracle he wasn't screaming. There was something wet sliding down his face, from his nose, eyes, and mouth. He wiped quickly, but when he withdrew his hand he saw it covered not with phlegm, saliva, and tears, but with blood. He grabbed the corner of his sleeve and mopped up his face, before turning around and staggering away from the cops.

    He had to focus. He had to get away. Now, before someone remembered him, or grabbed on to him. If they caught him now, he wouldn't be able to get out of it. But his head hurt so bad.

    The numbers didn't fight him this time, but he wasn't pushing for an impossibility. He twisted them the way he always did, keeping people from looking over, keeping the cops from turning down a particular alley in their hurry to get to the scene, keeping the passersby from noticing the blood that covered his red jacket. There was always a chance they would look over, would notice something was amiss despite the odds. That was probability. Nothing was ever certain.

    Right now, there was only one thing Ethan knew for sure. That agent would run on her own two feet, unaided by man or machine. She would run with the wind flowing through her hair, her long legs stretching out underneath her. That was his atonement, that was his gift. She would not fade, would not give up, until such a thing came true.

    Of that he was certain.
     
    #7 Peregrine, Jan 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
  8. "No really Michael, thank you. You've done more than enough - everything. Really." It'd have been a lie if Bree tried to play like having her baby brother around was a nuisance, the almost bashful little half-smile that lit her face saying all she just... Couldn't. 'I love you Mike, I've missed you. I hate that I only see you Christmas and Easter - if I'm lucky. I hate that the woman you love thinks I'm low-rent white trash, a reminder of a place she wants to pretend you never came from too. And I hate that I can't change that.'

    "And thanks for watching Riddick too," she said softly, cuddling the enormous ebony cat in her arms just a little closer to her chest, ignoring the ache beneath the dressings as she bent to kiss the top of his great, fuzzy head. The young woman sank slowly into one of her kitchen chairs, leaning back with a soft sigh, just so glad to be home again.

    Well, even if home wasn't much more than a small, one bedroom studio apartment, all exposed brick and industrial, easy-to-clean and maintain, just like she liked to her little piece of the world. Low maintenance, little to mind, everything streamlined and in its place. No doubt some psychoanalyst would have a field day with this little... Quirk? Something about how order kept the chaos at bay. The more of her world she controlled, the less the risk for anything untoward, anything unpredictable, anything uncontrollable or hideously random could ever come from the clear blue sky.

    Heh. See how well that had worked out?

    A little more than two weeks ago, she'd taken a ricocheted bullet off her witness' brain pan, straight to her unprotected chest. There were just so many things that should have never happened that day, what she remembered of it at least , what she had oh-so-meticulously pieced together of those seconds that had changed her whole life while counting the tiny holes in a single rectangle of white drop ceiling above her. Nothing had been like it should have been, now was it?

    Giving Victor her vest - that had been dumb, considering where the bullet wound up after all. But it had just been a... A reassuring thing really, she'd hoped. Anything to get him to stop all the waterworks, to feel a little better. Because any snipers should have long-since cleared out in the face of two separate FBI SWAT, yet they [oh-so] obviously had not. But she might have caught on faster, might have picked up somehow or other on the danger waiting outside, if she hadn't been so distracted inside by the green-eyed man. She should have... Done something. Seen something. Felt something that to this very moment remained more so infuriatingly elusive that she'd shed frustrated tears all alone in the night, staring up at the hospital room ceiling and giving herself the most painful headaches, a frisson of agony shooting through her chest as she sobbed, and then tried like hell not to.

    But it was no less than she deserved.

    Her assumption, her sloppiness, had gotten her shot after all. It was inexcusable incompetence had gotten Victor dead.

    But that was an internal indictment - the only kind that really counted in the end. Not a single one of the internal investigations that had been initiated said as much of course, or lay blame exactly where she knew it belonged. Words like 'unavoidable' and 'act of God' and 'unpredictable incident' irked the ever-loving shit out of, right up there with 'unbelievably lucky' and 'angels watching over you' and 'nothing less than a miracle.'

    Not that she could blame them, the doctors and the surgeons and the nurses. Not really. They'd busted their asses to make it all right, to somehow get that piece of shredded hollow point out of her chest, to close her up One eight of an inch from her aorta, they said. One eighth of an inch away from certain death, bleeding out long before even the fastest ambulance in Richmond would have gotten to her.

    "Not a thing Bree, you know that," Michael said, leaning over to caress the top of the black cat's soft head, behind the ears the way all cats like as the motorboat of a purr revved up. A real ginger, her brother, with their father's deep blue eyes, corners all crinkled with a sweet, familiar smile. "I think the big guy's actually started to like me a little. Well you know, after we got that whole 'pissing on my gym bag' thing out of the way the first day."

    Bree laughed, though it hurt. "Yeah, he's a little... Ah... 'Territorial.' Something like that."

    Michael looked down at his big sister, studying her thoughtfully for a moment. "You don't have to go back to work though, you know. Just, well... Take some time off. Come stay with me and Lyndsay." He laughed, shrugging his shoulders helplessly. "Riddick too. It'll be fun. Hey, watching her break out in hives would make you smile - c'mon now, don't deny it!"

    Bree laughed even harder, wincing this time with the pain. "You know you're the best Michael," she said when she could finally catch her breath again, or something really, really close. She'd turned down the offer of the oxycodone prescription, not wanting to let any of that vaunted control slip through her fingers - not even for a drug that could take the edge off this pain. Bree had the feeling she'd begin to regret that choice, somewhere deep in the night when she hadn't been able to sleep for hours. But for now? For now, she knew damn well she had it coming.

    "Yeah, you are but no... I have to clean some shit up at work, you know, reports and briefings and all that."

    Identifying that green-eyed man. Figuring out what the hell he had to do with Victor's death - and he did. I don't know how, I don't know why, or what the hell he managed to pull off - but I will. Damn straight, I sure will...

    "Besides, the minute Riddick pisses on some Prada shoes, falls asleep inside a Coach bag or sharpens his claws on one of those 'real antique' Queen Anne chairs? Yeah, our welcome will be worn thin - and so will yours, for sure. I don't think 'irreconcilable feline differences' is a real thing on divorce papers." She winked at her brother mischievously.
     
  9. Port Townsend was a small town in northwestern Washington state, on the opposite side of the sound from Seattle. It was a small town that relied almost entirely on a small group of tourists who would be ferried in from Seattle and Vancouver, as the town was right on the water, and only a single highway led to it. The town was quaint, full of small, neat houses overlooking the water and a street mall full of overpriced crafts and strange little doodads.

    It was not normally the kind of place that Ethan would have found himself. He was not a man for the "quiet life", and thrived on excitement and interaction. But he had been running for two weeks now, and finally found himself in the farthest corner of the continental US from Richmond, Virginia.

    He had fled from Richmond on foot, hitchhiking his way out of the state and to Washington DC. He withdrew a small fortune from his bank account over a period of one week, careful never to take so much so quickly that it might raise the bank's suspicions. From there he risked a train, purchasing a ticket that would cart him across the country without the hassle of customs for planes. He had to lay-over in Chicago and Denver, but dismounted from the track in San Fransisco. He had intended that to be his final destination, a place where he could blend back in, and fall back into his usual rhythms. But two days after he arrived he found himself continually checking anxiously over his shoulder as he walked down a deserted alley, double or triple locking his door at whatever hotel he might be staying at.

    He was not usually paranoid, but something about the compilation of impossible events surrounding the episode at the casino had him on edge. And, never one to not follow a hunch, he took off north. Tacoma was not as large of a city as San Fransisco, but it was still a hive of humanity. And Ethan was able to keep himself there for one week before he began to obsess again. He stayed a further two days after that, running his fingers through his hair until it was practically standing on end, checking the numbers every few seconds. The boss of the part-time job he had picked up at a local gas station kept checking in on him, but there was no surprise in his expression when Ethan said he was quitting. His eyes were too shifty for someone preparing to stay still. He stole a car that night, driving it north and abandoning it in a town called Port Orchard. He paid a small fee to cross the Hood Canal Floating Bridge on foot, before hitchhiking his way the rest of the way up to Port Townsend.

    He had let the ghost of this FBI agent drive him all the way to the furthest corner of the United States. Where did he plan to go now, Alaska? This was a place he could lay low for a few months, before perhaps making his way over to Seattle. He found a local man looking for a roommate to help with the bills, and the two quickly came to an arrangement.

    Tom wasn't a bad man, other than the fact that he was a widower with a small drinking problem. He was just as happy to find a roommate who wanted to pay in cash every month, choosing to overlook the implications of such a method of payment for the fact that cash was cash. No one was going to question his ability to pay his bills if he had the cash to show them. Tom didn't bother his new roommate, and Ethan was just as glad for that. He didn't spend much time in the smoke-stained house, only coming home late at night when tiredness drove him to bed, and leaving early in the morning while his roommate was still working off the hangover.

    He didn't get a job, even though it would have been easy enough to acquire one. He knew there was no way he would be able to stand still for that much of the day. So he spent many of his days walking the beach or woods, getting as far from the town as he could during the morning, working his way slowly back in the afternoon. He made friends with several of the ferrymen who worked the port, as he often found himself standing on the dock, watching the distant shores. At one point, one of the men was brave enough to walk up to him and ask him what he was waiting for. Ethan replied warmly enough, but the ferryman seemed to catch some of the distance in his voice, because he came back two days later to ask what Ethan was watching.

    He explained as best as he was able to about the water. It was both the most random and the most ordered substance in the world, always changing into something new, yet always staying exactly the same. He said it gave him a headache to watch it. Upon further interrogation, he revealed that, sometimes, that headache was the only thing that got him to sleep at night, and kept him from moving on again.

    "You should get on that ferry someday," his unexpected friend told him one day. "It might take you someplace better."

    Ethan laughed, and cast an eye out over the water. "Some day," he replied, "I'm sure I will."
     
    #9 Peregrine, Jan 11, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  10. Bree absently scratched the velvety soft ears of the black cat beside her, letting the rumble of the purr reverberate through the motel mattress soothe her. Stretched out on her belly, propped up on her elbows as her legs slowly, almost lazily, swung up and then down, she might have seemed more a teenager than a grown woman, reading intently through the latest issue of Seventeen or Glamour.

    And though undeniably handsome, the man she studied went well out of his way to stay under the radar, avoiding any notice, any attention like the plague. The surveillance photos spread out before her, her free hand thoughtfully tapped one, and then the other, as she studied the printouts for the hundredth time at least, burning that face into her memory.

    The pictures were black and white of course, but Bree's gaze saw those green eyes anyway, whether she would or no. She saw those eyes as she stared at the photos, some shitty cable show droning on in the background like white noise in this no-name motel. She even saw them when she closed her eyes at night, praying for no dreams and too afraid taking any of the drugs to keep them at bay would dull her edge. She saw then through the explosion of blood and bone on the other side of Victor's exploding skull, boring into her own.

    Sometimes those eyes were wide with surprise, horror - even fright - and sometimes they bled. Other times they were... Cold. Calculating and alien, inhuman somehow and Bree woke screaming, clutching at the scar on her chest.

    The FBI had put her on 'mandatory personal leave.' The department psychiatrist was apparently unimpressed with her insistence they needed to find this green-eyed man, the man responsible for Victor's death she knew - and no, no he didn't pull the trigger, and no, she couldn't explain why no one else seemed to recall the guy, but damn it all he was there... HE WAS THERE!

    A few jokes floated around the office about taking a long vacation, lying about on a beach with some umbrella drink and a well-tanned pool boy...

    Haha. Yeah. Hilarious. But if her bosses thought enforced leave was going to keep her still? Well, their first mistake had been not taking her badge and creds and gun.

    And the green-eyed man's first mistake had been thinking banks really were no more than an amalgamation of automatons, that if he pulled money just under the reporting limits no one would notice, nor report what he was so obviously trying to conceal in the amounts. It had been a serious long shot, checking the financials - and more than worth the face time. Bree had a name, though she somehow doubted it was his real one, and several of these slightly grainy photographs to hold in her hands, real physical proof of his existence, that the green-eyed man was so much more than some phantom fever dream. Almost, almost she was tempted to run these back to her office, leap on her boss' desk and shove them under his nose.

    Thankfully wisdom won out over smug satisfaction. Even in her excitement, she knew this was no real proof of anything at all. Bree could almost hear their voices in her head, the incredulous laughter and the condescending concern that made her teeth grate. 'Congratulations Agent Walsh, you've discovered a dark-haired man withdrawing money from his bank account! Great work there, but if you'd really like to impress us? See if you can convince him to join you on that goddamned beach you're supposed to be sitting on right now, and pay for one of those umbrella drinks? Oh, and yeah... Leave the creds and gun on your way the hell outta here... '

    The green-eyed man was good. Really good. He understood all the principles of living off the grid, but one it seemed.

    Cameras. Videorecording was a fact of life, from the bank to the local 7-11 to Wal-mart parking lots to traffic cameras in work zones. She surmised he'd be staying in the States - this much cash, and no safe deposit box opened for passports and the like? Yeah, he was staying here, just like Victor had. And there probably wouldn't be any planes - the TSA had made customs and security a serious bitch. So bus then... Maybe trains? FBI creds and a shiny badge opened doors that would have otherwise been firmly shut in her face.

    Bree remembered the first time she'd seen him again, not on still photographs but on some grainy surveillance video in the DC train station. And it wasn't his face - no, it was the way he moved, furtive movements yet quick and precise as he boarded the train to Chicago. Slowly, tentatively, one fingertip traced his outline on the screen, as if somehow, some way she might actually reach out to touch him now...

    Bree had almost lost him in San Francisco, the ache in her chest throbbing with panic she kept well-hidden, buried right alongside the growing obsession she knew damn well had long since turned 'unhealthy' - until the stolen car. The gas station surveillance video told her it was her green-eyed man who'd quit this shitty part-time job, and then inexplicably disappeared yet again, like some hunted animal.

    Which he technically was - but how could he know? Or was Bree only flattering herself, that she was the only one pursuing the green-eyed man?

    The question simply... Didn't matter. Not anymore. Because the car had been recovered to the north, in Port Orchard. This lovely little town where she and Riddick had landed in this less-than-charming-but-affordable motel that accepted cats, their entire winding, twisting pursuit paid for out of her own savings.

    "All the way across the country... Now north... What do you think Riddy? Making for Canada?" She took a sip of her bottled water, looking curiously at her cat with a small, tired half-smile.

    For his part, the black cat only glanced up at her, serene amber eyes inscrutible as he purred.
     
  11. Ethan found himself returning to the ferries almost every day. He leaned on the railing, watching the giant boats pull into their docks. The crew worked with the efficient movements of those long-familiar with their jobs. They handled the ropes with disinterest, quickly pulling the boat into the dock like absurd spiders spinning a web for some sort of giant fish. The practicality of that comparison was almost nonexistent, but somehow the imagery made him smile. He took his smiles where he could get them these days. It wasn't so much that he was unhappy as it was he was constantly consumed by thoughts of the past month. It near drove him insane sometimes, the wondering. He couldn't change the past, at least, not as far as he knew, but that didn't stop the speculation. What might have happened? What could he have done differently to make the ending better? He woke in the middle of the night sometimes, his lip bitten and blood filling his mouth as he instinctively restrained the scream that had been building in his chest. His dreams were still stained with blood. Mostly, the death of that man, Victor, still haunted him. The fact that he could come up with no other alternative for his escape, even after a month of thinking, was only so much comfort. Because, in the end, whether he liked it or not, he had killed that man. And nothing would ever bring him back.

    Kevin had started coming to see Ethan every time he pulled into port. The ferryman seemed almost to have come to expect Ethan's presence, and Ethan could see his eager expression scanning the docks every time the ferry came in for docking. It was strange, having made a friend so easily. Mostly it was meaningless, neither of them knew anything about each other, and when the time came neither would really miss the other all that much. But it was also nice to have someone with whom to share a few hours of conversation, and maybe an occasional evening in the local pub.

    It was also fun getting to show off some of his skills to someone who wouldn't have any reason to be suspicious of him. Kevin quickly learned never to bet money whenever Ethan challenged him to a game, and he called some of the things that Ethan was able to do with a dart or pool ball "legendary". They wound up talking a lot about where they saw themselves in the future. Or rather, Kevin did the talking, and Ethan listened to him for hours. It seemed that the man didn't get many people who were willing to honestly listen to him, and he seemed to glow in the attention Ethan was giving him.

    Eventually, the two wound up talking about the ferry on which that Kevin worked. It was a decent job, Kevin said. Not a lot of downtime, but when there was no one waiting for you at home, knowing you would always have a roof over your head and a few good meals a day was enough. One evening, when both men had imbibed a bit too much and were tottering off down the street together, Kevin promised that he would always find a space for Ethan on board, should he ever want to leave the little town. Ethan thanked him profusely for the offer, but said, when he planned on leaving, it would be on very short notice. Kevin waved away that comment with the brim of his floppy hat. So long as the distance between the boat and the dock wasn't too great to jump, Ethan was welcome aboard.

    Kevin nearly fell over when Ethan suddenly stopped walking, but caught himself against the side of a shop. "Can I hold you to that?" Ethan asked, his eyes suddenly intense.

    Kevin blinked, but nodded slowly. "It's cool, man. I'll take care of you."

    Ethan's smile was soft and sweet, especially in contrast with his almost fierce look from a moment before. Kevin's answering grin was equally sweet, if a little more lopsided. Ethan helped the man back to his feet, and they began to totter off down the street again, wind whistling down the narrow alley. How interesting, he thought under the white glow of the moon. It's been a long time since I've had a friend.

    If Ethan's new-found friendship with Keith was on the rise, his relationship with the man from whom he was leasing a room was only deteriorating. Almost all of Ethan's rent money was going towards the man's drinking fund, and while the alcohol did not make him violent it certainly made him suspicious. For the first few days, Tom seemed entirely unconcerned with Ethan's comings and goings. But lately, when Ethan returned late in the evening, sometimes sober, sometimes not, he found Tom waiting up for him, eyes narrowed. For now, he wasn't going to do anything. The money was too enticing. But if the probability of him copping out got too high, Ethan might have to look to moving on again. For a little while he actually considered going to work on the ferries, but the idea of being on a bound route for any period of time made him begin to shiver.

    Other than Tom, Port Townsend was almost everything that Ethan was looking for right now. Enough people came and went that it wasn't a place where he stuck out, but nor was it a place where people always made sure they had locked the door. It was loose and comfortable, like a pair of well-worn socks. And he had to believe it was the last place that the FBI would be coming to look for him. Even the local cops were more likely to let you off with a word of warning than an actual ticket.

    The patrons and bartenders of Pourhouse, a small local bar, had become familiar with Ethan. The bartenders were friendly, and took it upon themselves to socialize with everyone who came in. At first it was only the standard conversations to make a customer feel comfortable, but it didn't take them long to warm up to his quiet, unassuming demeanor. They were also as amused by Ethan's "party tricks" as Kevin had been, if not even more so. They saw a lot of "tricks", but Ethan pulled them off better than anyone they had ever met. Once he got one of them laughing everyone was soon rolling along with it, and it brought them honest pleasure to see him emerge from his reclusive shell as the evening slowly unfolded.

    Josie called out a friendly hello to him as he entered, the bell over the door chiming loudly. Ethan returned her greeting with an abstract wave, and wandered his way over to a window seat, looking out over the bay. She brought a beer and a smile and sat down next to him for a few minutes. They didn't say anything, but Ethan could feel her eyes on his face, and he would occasionally glance over, only to see her eyes quickly dart away. He couldn't help the small smile that flickered on the corners of his lips whenever that happened, which seemed to only encourage Josie's attentions. He couldn't help but feel a little guilty for it, since anything between them would never last. Ethan was a city-boy, through and through, and while he might hide in a place like Port Townsend until he could deal with the consequences of his actions, he would never be able to stay in a place like this long term. Eventually Josie left him to nurse at his beer, and he sat and stared out the window quietly, green eyes watching the numbers flicker over the water and around the town.
     
    #11 Peregrine, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  12. Port Orchard almost had her beat. It was here the trail turned cold for a few days more, and Bree was damn near at her wit's end. Whatever else he'd done in that small town beyond dumping the stolen car? Well it was precious damn little, and she was stopped cold with only the smallest breath of a hint running through her head, a conviction she'd already shared with Riddick alone on their motel bed in Port Orchard.

    North. The green-eyed man was going north, and there didn't seem to be all that much deliberation in his travels from what she could see. No one he was meeting, no family or friends offering safe haven or help. Just him, the green-eyed man traveling almost as if the crow would fly, first west and now? Now perhaps north, though not to Canada - not yet at least. Well, certainly not by the most direct route that she could see - nor even the fastest. If 'North of the Border' had been his thoughts, why not take the car so much further than he did? Why abandon it in Port Orchard and, by all appearances, move on foot?

    Bree had no answers, but at the very least she had a direction, and from Port Orchard it even by-passed the city of Seattle.

    So, north. From Silverdale to Poulsbo, all along the little piece of coastline as due north as the small, windy highway would take her and her black cat in their rental car. Port Gamble and Port Ludlow, then Port Hadlock and still, still somehow Bree knew - she just knew - the green-eyed man wouldn't stop until he simply couldn't go anymore, not another footstep more until -

    - Well, until he hit ocean. And she somehow doubted even her uncanny green-eyed man could walk on water. Riddy was already safely ensconced in the room of the beautiful seaside bed and breakfast she'd just splurged on. God, she was sick of crappy, bottom-of-the-barrel semi-sanitary motel rooms.

    And so Bree stood precariously on the edge of the ferry docks, grey eyes sweeping north, ever north. A cool ocean wind played lightly in the lengths of her auburn hair, teasing the ends about her face as if inviting her to come away, to play a game with the breezes and the zephyrs in the low-hanging clouds overhead. Bree laughed at the thought, and took a deep breath of that sea air in her lungs. The sound of gulls screaming nearby and the gentle roar of the surf filled every last sense and once - just this once and for the first time since she'd begun her obsessive, single-minded hunt, Bree let all fretful worry for the green-eyed man fall away into the tides, like the ashes of a dead man released over the waves.

    She knew she had to go back into town, take her grainy black and white photos to the two bars worthy of the name here - probably make a quick stop in the West Coast version of the Mayberry PD as a courtesy at the least.

    Best to have a beer first, at the least.

    Bree would have preferred to walk the distance from the ferry to the pub - or at least the first of the bars actually worth the name - but some small, professional part of her soul hadn't been lulled to sleep by the sweet peace of the Pacific. And so she drove her rental car to the small parking lot, because you could never be too sure when luck just might break your way, for the first time in a very, very long time.

    There was a well-used dart board on the wall, and Bree was half-tempted to try her long-unused skills from her college days when she'd been something of a shark in her time. But a rather pretty young woman emerged from the back, and Bree collected herself quickly with a warm smile and a nod of her head.

    Her voice low and warm, she smiled as she approached the woman, arm outstretched as she stood on a knee on one of the stools, one hand offered over the bar. "Good afternoon, I'm glad I caught someone here. Agent Walsh, Bree Walsh. FBI. Just call me Bree... " She reached into the inner pocket of her worn leather jacket, showing her credentials to the young woman. "I'm looking to speak with someone, if I can find him."

    Bree put the credentials back into her wallet after the young woman had a moment to reassure herself that yes, yes she really was talking to an honest-to-goodness federal law enforcement agent. She pulled those photos from her other pocket, these copies still fairly crisp and clear and only folded twice thus far. Still, Bree folded them out on the bar, the surveillance photos of the green-eyed man, the clearest of them.

    "Have you seen him about, by any chance?" she asked, her voice still pitched just as friendy and open as you please. There were only two reactions to female cops, and one way or the other they almost always boiled down to either 'extremely positive' or 'extremely negative.' After coming off the natural ecstasy of the seashore, she still found it in her to pray for the former.

    From day to night, the pretty woman's face fell, and Bree knew two things at once: her instincts had been right, dead on since Port Orchard; and that this was likely to end in the latter, whether she would or no. Bree's soft reassurances seemed to fall on deaf ears, that she only wanted to talk to him, to find him and no, no she really couldn't give her any details because confidentiality, privacy, ongoing investigation and on and on.

    She didn't like it, the lie that fell so easily from her lips, startling the green-eyed man's whereabouts from Josie with the firm, unwavering assurance that she would be charged with the interference of an ongoing investigation if she didn't tell her where to find this man. Now. Because there was no ongoing investigation at all - at least nothing official. Nothing she'd lose her job over either, if anyone 'official' found out - but it would certainly be the beginning of the end of her career.

    Even so, the adrenaline shot through her body like a bolt of pure electricity, the obsession wrapping its serpent coils around her again and squeezing 'til she was damn near breathless. She was close, so damn close! And Josie caved, giving her the address to some guy named "Tom," the green-eyed man was supposed to be living with for now, sharing a house almost no distance at all from this very bar.

    Bree gave the woman a cold 'thanks' and a warning not to get cute about trying to warn anyone off, leaving the bar at a half-run back to her car. The GPS told her she didn't have far to go at all, and she pulled up a door or two down from the house where her green-eyed man was supposed to reside. She knew full well she ought to surveil the place, find entrances front and back, the location of all windows and any cellar egress, and she made a swift pass about the house before finally standing on the porch. Her knock was firm, even if her knees suddenly felt shaky and cold as a glass of icy waters.
     
    #12 Muirgen, Jan 23, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  13. Kevin had left him just over two hours ago. The ferry always required all staff on board for the last few hours before they shipped out, so the two had said polite goodbyes outside the Pourhouse, and headed in separate directions. It was still early in the afternoon, but Ethan found himself little in the mood for roaming. He had walked up and down the streets, offering polite hellos to those who wanted to speak with him, exchanging a few words, before wandering on again. He stopped by one of the shops near the ferry to say hello to Gracie, the middle aged woman that ran the place. Tom was getting steadily more unreasonable, and before very long he was going to have to find somewhere new to stay. He had met Gracie one evening at the Pourhouse, and had found that, of all the people in town, she was the most likely to let him move in with her. It hadn't been hard to strike up a friendship; Gracie enjoyed talking, and Ethan had one of the most sympathetic ears in town to her stories. Everyone else had heard them all at least a dozen times.

    He still wasn't quite ready to ask her if he could move in, so he made sure to stop by her shop at least every other day to talk for a little while. Gracie gossiped happily to him, telling him that she thought she had seen two young men passing through kissing, of all absurdities, and that another tourist who had come into town not all that long ago had an absolutely gorgeous black cat in her car. Gracie had wanted to go say hello, but she had only caught a glimpse of it while the car had been driving towards the dock. Ethan didn't really have much to say, but Gracie didn't need much prompting to keep talking.

    Ethan said goodbye a while later, and had wandered out into the slowly gathering evening. For a moment he considered wandering towards the edge of town and finding a place to lay down in the forest, but the idea was not as appealing to him as it would normally be. So he found himself walking back to Tom's house instead, uncertain of what exactly he planned to do there, but willing to follow the whim nonetheless. He watched the sky as he walked, head tilted back and navigating primarily by the numbers. It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. Considering that this was Washington, and it rained 230 days out of the year, this was a rare treat.

    Perhaps if he hadn't been so distracted, he might have noticed the very important little number that started to flicker in the corner of his vision. Discounting it as an unexpected current of wind that was moving in, or the action of some nearby tourist, Ethan kept walking, up the hill and towards Tom's house. He allowed his eyes to flutter closed, navigating by sound and numbers. There was something almost exhilarating about that world of darkness, an abstract sort of terror that could only be countered by his self-confidence in the fact that he was not going to run into anything or anyone.

    He was only a couple steps away from Tom's front porch when the number he had ignored before suddenly reasserted itself. Ethan stopped dead in his tracks, letting out a small gasp. There was that number again, the one that he had not seen since that night in Virginia a month ago. 100. There was a 100 percent chance he was about to be noticed by a certain, nameless FBI agent, the same FBI agent who had driven him all the way up to this far corner of the United States.

    His eyes flashed open, and he found himself staring directly into her eyes. He stood frozen for less than half a second, before turning and bolting.

    Had you asked him, he couldn't have entirely articulated why he had chosen to run. If she was here, she was looking for him, and there was nothing to be gained from staying in place, perhaps. But a more brutally honest version of that might be that it was as though a creature from his nightmares had suddenly popped into being before him. He had no plan, no expectations. All he knew was that he needed to get away.

    He would have to plan while he ran.
     
    #13 Peregrine, Jan 24, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  14. 'Son of a... '

    In the movies, the 'cop' in the chase was always supposed to shout something nice and useful, like "STOP!" or "POLICE!" But at least the 'cop,' always cool, calm and collected, knew better than to just stand there expecting the guy to actually do what he was supposed to do and like, you know, not run.

    Needless to say, the 'bad guy' of course has some karmic obligation to ignore the cop, and just keep running anyway.

    For the first time in her life, Bree had never been so spectacularly grateful she didn't have a partner with her. He was behind her - right behind her!. Strolling up the walk to the porch absently, it was the soft, distinctive sound of shoes on pavement that said someone was behind her. "Tom" hadn't answered her knock, and she could only assume the poor sod might be coming home from work to a hell of a surprise on his porch.

    And when she turned maybe, just maybe, a small surprised squeak escaped her, and she might have jumped in surprise, wide-eyed and mouth gaping like some naif walking into a most unwelcome surprise party. His eyes were closed as he walked - why, she couldn't begin to guess. But that uncanny something hung about him like some invisible pall, that same inexplicable mystery that drew her gaze in the first place, a month ago on the floor of a makeshift casino.

    No more than an arm's length away. All she'd have to do was reach out now, tap his shoulder. And as if it had a mind of its own, her arm stretched to do just that, fingers shaking with anticipation or exhilaration or abject fear she couldn't have said. A frisson of sudden pain shot through her heart over the bullet hole and the surgery scars, and she winced, gasping softly as those once-shaking fingers clutched at her chest.

    The instant their gazes locked, Bree read the intent in those matchless eyes. He was going to run, and words wouldn't stop him, so Bree didn't waste the breath.

    She dashed after him, her body knowing instinctively to keep these strides long, steady and even as the pain in her chest subsided with every long, rhythmic inhalation of breath. The precious, rare Pacific northwest sun overhead warmed her almost comfortably, and Bree fell instinctively into the unrelenting pace of a practiced distance runner. He could run all he liked, the green-eyed man. Bree had run the Marine Corps Marathon in Quantico every year for the past seven years, improving her time with every event.

    Unless he really could walk on water, her green-eyed man wasn't going far - or at the very least, not nearly so far as she could go.
     
  15. This was one moment where Ethan welcomed every moment he had spent exploring these towns. Because, even as he began to run, the solution to his escape from a certain determined FBI Agent presented itself to him. He would have sworn if he had been willing to spare the breath. Instead, he committed himself to spouting a random, silent swear word off in his head every couple seconds. He was going to need to stall her nearly five minutes, if he planned on getting away cleanly.

    Why, oh why, had he given her the certainty of being able to run again? But then, how was he to know that the first time she would run would be chasing after him?

    This was also a moment where he was glad for the fact that he had not been sedentary for the past several weeks. Ethan was not out of shape. He had, after all, walked the fifty miles from Port Orchard to Port Townsend, and he had spent most of his days roaming around the city. Whether or not this was going to clear him for a five minute run would remain to be seen. He did have one advantage over the Agent, though. He didn't need to turn around to see her. If she started to speed up to try and catch him he could pick up the pace as well. When she slowed, he could slow, giving himself a moment to try and catch his breath.

    If he had been in the city, it probably would have been remarkably easy to lose her. After all, a large city constantly had things happening, and a couple of lucky events would break her line of sight and allow him to slip away. And, once he was out of sight and paying attention, the chances of her finding him again might as well be zero. Port Townsend did not have that same blessing. It was a quiet town, and a place where the most traffic it ever saw was when one of the ferries came in. Ethan only had one chance, and if he messed it up he was going to get taken to jail. Whether or not that meant he would stay there was an entirely different matter. Busting out of jail was one of the most likely ways to get the whole of the FBI on his tail. But, if it wasn't for this strange, unfortunate agent who seemed to bring the worst luck for him with her, that might not be a problem.

    There weren't many alleys in Port Townsend, but he used the few that were available to his advantage. Oftentimes, knocking over one thing was enough to set off a whole chain reaction of only somewhat related events. However, by the time he got into a position where he could set off enough of a chain reaction to lose her, Ethan was so out of breath that he could barely even stand upright. And his other plan was still in place. He stopped running, panting heavily, as the Agent had to work her way around the upended dumpster that had butted up against someone's car. As soon as she was clear, Ethan took off again, his breath somewhat more steady.

    Four and a half minutes. He was almost out of time, but he was also almost to his destination. He pounded steadily up main street, past the shops that had become a familiar and almost welcoming sight to him, towards the dock where he spent many an afternoon watching the ferries. The ferries and the water. That was another thing he was grateful for. His meticulous study of the water was going to allow him to do something almost impossible.

    On the far end of the dock a sudden gust of wind grabbed the hat of the security guard who was guarding the section of ramp that lead to the ferry when it was docked. He turned away, reaching out desperately for it, and Ethan quickly slipped by him, darting out towards the water. The water, and Kevin's ferry, which was just pulling away from its mooring.

    So long as the distance between the boat and the dock wasn't too great to jump, Ethan was welcome aboard.

    And it was pulling further and further away by the second. His head was pounding in time with his heart, and his lungs hurt so bad that he knew he was going to be coughing for at least the next week. But it was worth it. Because as Ethan ran towards the edge of the dock with as much momentum as he could muster, he tweaked one final number. His feet left the edge of the dock, and at the exact same moment an unexpected wave hit the front of the ferry, pushing it back the one foot that Ethan would otherwise have been unable to clear. He soared with some measure of grace, clearing the top of the railing with less than a centimeter to spare. But he wasn't worried, because he knew he would make it. He landed heavily on deck, but, surprisingly, none of the guards in the carport seemed to notice the unexpected arrival of one last passenger.

    Ethan turned around to face the dock, a smile spreading across his face. He spread his arms wide and took a cocky bow, certain that he would never forget the look on the face of a certain nameless FBI agent.
     
  16. Bree saw what he was going to do, what he'd had planned, from the moment his feet hit the ferry ramp.

    He was drunk.

    He was high?

    Maybe he was just plain old out-of-his-goddamn-skull crazy? Either way, fortune spat in her face as she tried to catch the eye of the security guard - the very instant he tried to snatch at the hat blown from his head. And the green-eyed man was past him in the blink of an eye, Bree only a few yards behind him - but he wasn't stopping. He wasn't slowing in the least though the ferry was already well under way.

    She was many things, some of them certainly less than lovely, but pettiness really wasn't among her faults. Bree could admit - to herself at least - that he'd given her a good run, though for her part she had barely begun to breathe a little heavy. But even she could see a long jump ahead of the guy to the ferry, she doubted even an Olympic athlete could have managed.

    Bree groaned thickly with frustration in the back of her throat, already sure she was going to have to pull this jack ass from the drink. She'd do it though. She wouldn't like it at all, but she'd do it. And in the seconds before he leapt, Bree already reassured herself with a thought that almost made her smile: if he gave her any shit when she pulled him out, she'd shoot the bastard. Somewhere not-too-vital of course, but with Victor's tacit approval from beyond the grave she was sure. Maybe tonight he'd even forego his nocturnal visit to her dreams, half his head gristle and bone, the one bloodshot eye left to him always accusing her, letting her know without a word that he was so very, very dead and it was all her fault...

    And then the impossible happened, and the ferry seemed to snatch the green-eyed man from the air like a lover, or a well-loved child. Bree could only stand stunned, inches from the edge of the dock herself. She could feel the blood drain from her face, grey eyes wide and helpless to do a damn thing but watch as he turned to face her with a smug smile and then... Then he took a bow...

    Bree hadn't drawn her gun at any point during the chase, and she didn't now either, though she'd never been more sorely tempted in her life. But no, no... There were too many civilians, and that rule of engagement was too well-ingrained in her head: never pull your weapon - never- unless you mean to use it. She didn't, and she wouldn't, and even if she could? Any shot she might have had was long gone, sailing away further and further by the second over the ocean. Headed north.

    Bree shook her head, dumbfounded, both hands wrapped white-knuckled around the dock ramp railing as the only words "WHY!?" she wailed, the word coming up from her chest in a scream of anguish. "Why did you do it? DAMN YOU, WHY!? What did Victor ever do to you?"

    Rage and sorrow warred for supremacy in her features, a tear running down her cheek unheeded as her lips pulled back in a snarl. Bree knew she wouldn't get her answer, but she knew she'd never sleep again without it either.

    "WHY DID YOU KILL HIM!?"
     
    #16 Muirgen, Jan 24, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  17. Ethan walked away from the edge of the ferry, his eyes cold and sad. The water was splashing up from the wake of the ferry, but none of the droplets made it inside the carport. It took the ferrymen a few moments to notice him, and when one of them finally looked away from the little distractions Ethan had provided, his eyes nearly popped out of his head.

    "Sir," the ferryman said, trapped somewhere between fear and exasperation. "You can't be down here while the ferry is in motion."

    "Sorry," Ethan replied vaguely, his eyes unfocused. His attention was back at the dock, at the agent standing on the edge of the platform, of the words that he should not have been able to hear. Maybe it was that those words had been haunting his thoughts since that night, that he wondered and fretted and cursed himself for caring, and cursed himself for not caring. "I'm looking for Kevin. He's a friend of mine, and got me my ticket."

    When he heard Kevin's name, the ferryman accosting Ethan quickly backed off. In fact, he even offered Ethan a polite smile, and nodded. "Let me get you off the floor, and then I'll go track him down."

    Ethan allowed himself to be escorted towards the stairs, hands running along the cold railing. The inside of the ferry was comfortably warm, but Ethan still felt shivers running down his back. He curled up in a corner, biting his lip before pressing his head firmly back into the wall. He wasn't really looking at the ceiling, and he wasn't bothering to look at the numbers either. All he was thinking about was the wind-messed copper hair of the FBI agent, of the light as it caught the tear that slipped out of her eye. And her lips shaping into the words he did not want to remember.

    He didn't notice Kevin until the man sat down right next to him. "I wasn't expecting to see you!" Ethan looked over, and his eyes were so empty that Kevin's smile quickly slipped away from his lips. "What's wrong, mate?" the man asked, stretching out a hand and placing it heavily on Ethan's shoulder.

    It took him a moment to find his tongue, and when he did it still felt like it was made of lead. "I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Josie. Will you tell her for me?"

    Kevin was silent for a moment, but seemed to think better of trying to pry any more out of Ethan. His eyes were already moist, and any more pushing might just push him over the edge. Kevin sat quietly with him for a few moments, before getting back up and heading to work before someone could come and chase him off. However, before he left, he did pause, turning his eyes back onto Ethan's folded form. "You'll be fine, man. I'm sure of it." Ethan was barely able to reply with a small smile, but his eyes were a little softer. Kevin smiled as well, before turning away and heading back down the stairs to the carport.

    He tried not to think as he sat there, but the thoughts kept intruding back into his mind. He had managed to push away thoughts of Victor for a month, but that woman's arrival had pushed them all back into the forefront of his mind. And now there was no avoiding the guilt. The guilt that eventually began to transform into indignation.

    He didn't move as the ferry pulled into the small island town of Coupville, ignoring the passengers who cast strange looks at his huddled form. It was so much easier to shift the blame to someone else. He was not a killer. He hadn't been the one to pull the trigger. The mob would have gotten him eventually. And the easiest justification; he never would have had to do any of it if that woman had just ignored him, just left him be to escape later, when he was away from scrutiny. She had forced his hand in the same way she had forced him to run. He had set up the situation so that he could escape. Victor's own choices had gotten him killed.

    He settled down slowly, as the ferry passed slowly through the water of the bay. His breathing slowly settled out, and his justifications slowly slipped away from him, leaving him naked. Perhaps he had killed Victor because there was no empathy in him anymore. Maybe he believed he was better than the rest of humanity. There was no doubt that his justifications were all true. Victor had made his own choices. He probably would have lived a nice, long, healthy life if he hadn't signed up to work for the mob. And maybe if he hadn't embezzled money to fuel his gambling habit he would have never had to leave the mob. But he made his choices, just like Ethan, and there was no changing them now. There was no going back.

    The numbers slowly began to shift, and Ethan looked at them lazily. The tears that had threatened since he had boarded the ferry finally spilled over, but only two managed to roll down his cheeks before his emotion was bled out. He was left empty, empty and tired. He didn't care anymore what that lady thought of him. It didn't matter if she sent the entire FBI after him. He would always get away. He was done trying to hide, trying to play it safe. Let her throw at him what she would. He would anticipate it all, and he would be ready.

    The ferry docked into the Seattle port, and he could see the men moving in his minds eye, throwing out the ropes and slowly pulling the ship into the web. He stood, dusting himself off. And he didn't look behind him as he walked down to the off-ramp, into the waiting arms of the Seattle Police Department. He greeted them with a smile, and presented his hands.

    Let her chase him. He would be ready. And there was no way she would ever be able to catch him for good.
     
  18. Bree was on the phone from the instant she whirled back down the ramp, the green-eyed man disappearing with the ferry on the far horizon and not a damn thing she could do to stop him. She dreaded these phone calls, but the running helped, the familiar, comforting rhythm of her breath and the pounding of her heart in her chest, still whole, still beating - and that was exactly how she meant to carry on.

    By the time Bree managed to return to her car, the Seattle PD were notified to be on alert at the harbor for the Port Townsend ferry, the picture of the green-eyed man sent from her phone to their desk and then to the patrols. Riddick was entwining himself around her legs the moment she walked into their gorgeous hotel-room-by-the-seashore. But there was no time for regret as she gathered up her luggage and her cat, and still managed to coordinate her arrival with the Seattle FBI office.

    Which got more than a little awkward when she asked for a few minutes to contact her people in Richmond.

    And that's when shit went beyond awkward, and well into completely tense.

    Bree and Riddick were already well on their way to the Seattle PD Headquarters on 5th when she finally called her SAC. She could honestly admit, she'd have probably preferred it if Avery would have just chewed her ass up one side and down another, given her that shot of adrenaline-fueled indignant rage that could have just kept her rolling, maybe throwing the Bluetooth earpiece somewhere in the car or just screamed back at him - but he didn't.

    His voice was warm, and the fatherly concern he heard in Avery's voice almost completely undid all her hard-fought composure right there on the highway. Did she have any idea how many times her brother had called the office these past couple weeks, looking for her? Wondering what was happening when all Michael was getting were these cryptic texts back after a voicemail? That even Murray was asking after her, guilt-ridden about letting the guy go when she took that bullet, the same guy she'd just dumped so much of her savings and leave time into tracking all across the U.S. - but for what?

    He wasn't the shooter. He couldn't have been, it was physically damn impossible! What was going on Bree, what are you doing, beyond scaring the hell out of what family you have left, and worrying your colleagues and friends with this completely out-of-hand obsession? Yes, yes go on to the Seattle PD, no one's stopping you. You've found him for whatever it's worth, and this guy - whoever the hell he is - did escape custody on the day you and Victor were shot. But you need to know Bree, you need to really understand that the only reason your badge and gun aren't being pulled this very instant, is because you're one of the best agents I've ever known, a brilliant professional. But this is as far as 'benefit of the doubt' is going to get you, Agent Walsh...

    Bree knew she should keep Riddick in the cat carrier, buckled up in the front seat, but she opened the little door anyway when that phone call was finished. The enormous black tom stole his way over the console to her lap, all warm, rumbling comfort and reassurance as her long fingers wove through that thick fur.

    Somewhere around the halfway mark, Seattle PD called to say her green-eyed man was in custody, that he'd surrendered himself the minute he stepped off the ferry actually. For several long seconds Bree couldn't speak at all, her voice suddenly choked by tears she hadn't even realized were there - and for the second time in one day, Bree was glad she was entirely alone but for Riddick, who never, ever judged.

    "Great, good work and... Did you get a name? Did he give you a name yet, or have some ID on him? No? No, that's not a problem, we'll get it when I get there - wait. Fingerprints! Process him now, don't wait. Fingerprints, photograph - DNA too if he'll consent."

    "Yes, get a swab too if he'll give it. If not, I'll be there in... Oh, an hour and a half I think, if this Garmin isn't playing with me, or traffic doesn't. Thank you - really, fantastic job and much appreciated. I'm looking forward to meeting you all."

    Bree hung up the phone again, and let out a long slow breath she didn't even now she'd been holding all these weeks, the relief that covered her this minute like the softest of blankets.

    "Whatever we find in Seattle might not be as nice as that bed and breakfast," she whispered tenderly to Riddick, who simply gazed up at her with those magnificent amber eyes full of unspoken, uncanny understanding, "But I think we can actually sleep tonight. All night long... "

    The fingers of one hand continued to stroke the length of the cat, velvety ears to serpentine tail, as the other hand kept to the business of driving. "I'm so tired," Bree confessed, her voice barely a whisper, as if such an damning admission might yet be overheard, even alone here with her cat.

    "I just want to sleep Riddy, to lay my head on a pillow, and close my eyes and not wake up sweating, or screaming, or terrified. No more dreams. Please, just... No more dreams."

    A small smile was surprised from her lips when Riddick mewed up at her, and then opened his maw with all those sharp little fangs into a wide yawn. Bree chuckled, caressing the top of his head with her thumb. "Yeah Riddy, just like that."

    ~~~~~~

    Bree parked her rental in a parking garage on Cherry Street. It wasn't an 'official' vehicle, and she was just going to have to suck up the fee herself, just as she'd done thus far at every step of this long, long chase. She was sure Riddick would be fine in the carrier for a while, and she tucked him back inside comfortably, kissing his sweet furry head tenderly as she did so with the promise she wouldn't be long, before locking the car.

    The Washington weather, it seemed, had given up any facade of trying to be 'sunny and pleasant' and returned to the rains so common to the Pacific Northwest, like a sad and endlessly weeping woman. Bree had no umbrella, and simply endured the jog down the block toward the PD. She was well aware she wasn't dressed as a stereotypical FBI agent - no tailored suit, no heels, her hair slowly transforming from a loose, windswept mess to sodden lengths of hot mess, but there just wasn't any help for it. She'd dressed this morning for meet and greet in a small town of civilians, not to impress her peers.
     
    #18 Muirgen, Jan 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  19. The cops booked him efficiently with a measure of distrust and confusion. It was clear that they had no idea what was going on, or why an FBI agent had told them to apprehend a man coming off a ferry from a small port town. Nor could they understand why he had gone with them so willingly, and submitted to everything they asked of him, if he was on the run from the FBI. Of course, they didn't know that everything they took on him, the fingerprints and the photos and the DNA, was going to be corrupted before they even had a chance to put it in their system. He didn't give them a name, and they didn't find the wallet he had tucked into the inside of his shoe before leaving the ferry. He also didn't plan to stay long after they took their eyes off of him. He didn't know what exactly he was planning to do, but he did know that it wasn't likely to be hard to figure out. A police station may seem like a secure place, but it relied on a number of things that could easily be fluctuated. Any lock could be sprung, any code could be hit on the first try. And there were so many things to distract the good guards who were supposed to be keeping their eyes on him.

    He could not deny that there was a small measure of trepidation in his heart at the thought of finally going against everything he had ever believed in. He had always believed in living low profile, in making enough to get by, and then a little bit extra to have a bit of fun. But he had never done anything truly illegal. At least, not until a month ago. He had realized on the ferry that there was no turning around from that point. He had stepped over the edge when he had set the mob upon Victor, and there was nothing for him to do now except accept the fall, and brace for impact upon landing. If that meant breaking out of prison and disappearing into a teeming metropolis, if that meant going against cops and the law at every turn, so be it.

    What he had not known was how long the booking process would take. He did not have access to a clock of any sort, but he didn't need one either. After all, there was only one thing that time could be right where he was, and the numbers told him that when he looked. Nor did he need to know how far the Agent had to drive, or how fast she was going. It seemed this agent had become a part of his life, and the numbers were aiding him in it. He barely had to focus at all to bring her forward in the numbers. In some ways, it was disconcerting. She must be at least a hundred miles, maybe two, and distance usually had an incredibly strong impact on his abilities. Why could he still find her? And why hadn't he been able to do that this morning, when a little bit of heads up would have given him all the notice he needed to get away cleanly? The answer to the second one, at least, was easy. He had allowed himself to believe that she would never be able to track him across the country. He hadn't been looking.

    By the time they were finished booking him, he was already almost out of time. He released the numbers relating to the samples they had taken, allowing them to settle back into the general world. The chances that they would get anything useful from their time was almost zero. Had he allowed himself the time, it would have been an easy thing to gloat over, as it had been a particularly skilled example of his ability. But he had bigger concerns at the moment. If he wasn't careful, that FBI agent was going to walk into the building before he had a chance to get out of it. And she had such a strange effect on him and the world around him that he did not want to dare risk that. Which meant he was going to have to get sloppy. He would miss something, and his getaway would not be perfectly clean. With days to prepare his escape he could make sure that nothing, human or machine, noticed him leaving. With ten minutes, his ability to get away without any human noticing him was not even close to certain. There was no way he was going to be able to make it look as though he just vanished.

    But he knew that, the moment he stepped off the ferry and accepted the handcuffs. He knew what the price for his cooperation at that time would be, and he was fully prepared to pay it. This was no moment to be getting cold feet. The police officer who had led him through the entire booking process, plus the few additional measures they had taken at the agent's request, now led him towards the back of the precinct, and walked him into a cell. He sat down quietly and waited with blank eyes while the officer uncuffed him and walked out of his cell. And it wasn't all luck that she didn't stay to keep an eye on him. There was a call waiting for her, a call that her boss had decided was important enough that she needed to take. And the man who was coming to replace her had just spilled half a cup of coffee all over himself, and was rushing away to the bathroom to clean himself up. The fact that this happened to be the new white shirt that his wife had just bought him last weekend, though, was a happy coincidence.

    He stood, staring at the camera in the corner of the wall that was pointed right at his cell. He closed his eyes, focusing all of his attention on the numbers. After a brief glance at the location of the agent, only five minutes away, he pushed her out of his mind, and began to quickly work. He didn't have much time, and there was so much chaos in the precinct that nothing could go perfectly. He would have to break the lock, rather than getting it to spring open, and many of the cops were going to find themselves suddenly engaged in rather unexpected and embarrassing situations. He gave himself two minutes, two minutes to try and account for every variable that could possibly arise. And then he began.

    In the security room, the guard watching the cameras suddenly felt something damp spreading through his pants. He let out a surprised yell, turning away from the monitors. What on earth could have possibly caused him to just lose control of his bladder? The lock holding Ethan's door closed suddenly gave way on his third violent tug, and he stepped out into the hallway. The officer that had been about to pass in front of the door to the cells found the papers in his hand tumbling to the floor; as he bent down to gather them Ethan calmly walked out of the jail. The one man who did notice his progress took one look at his calm attitude and purposeful stride and dismissed him as someone who was supposed to be there.

    The secretary who had pressed the button for the elevator felt her phone begin to vibrate. In an attempt to answer it she dropped her suitcase, which popped open, scattering pencils and paper everywhere. The nearby officer quickly walked over to help her clean up, just in time to miss a certain green-eyed man, who stepped into the elevator just as the doors began to close.

    The first floor was significantly more empty, but there was almost nothing Ethan could do about the security guard who was watching the front door. All he could hope to do was stall the man long enough to gain a little bit of distance. He didn't have time for anything more elegant. When the guard looked his way, Ethan raised a friendly hand, but didn't slow. The guard only spared him a glance before returning to his magazine. But Ethan wouldn't make it to the door with that alone. The guard was going to look up again when Ethan was right in front of him, and this time there was no way he would mistake him for one of the officers that worked here. By the time he stood and tried to top Ethan, he would be out the door.

    The alarm sounded only a couple seconds behind his egress. Perhaps the security guard might have been willing to let him leave, except the man who had brought Ethan in from the ferry had stopped briefly to speak to that same guard, who had gotten a very good look at Ethan. There would be chaos behind him shortly, as every guard began to respond to the alarm. The fact that the fire alarm went off when a person who had been popping popcorn noticed a burning smell and opened the microwave would only add to the confusion.

    The agent was less than a minute away, but now that he was clear of the building Ethan broke out into a run. The two alarms were drawing a lot of attention on the street, which both aided and hindered him. People swarmed to anything out of the ordinary, but therefore many more people might notice him and be able to point in the direction he went.

    But when he slipped into the side alley undetected he released the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. Now he was safe. By the time the officers got everything figured out he would have vanished into the teeming humanity of Seattle, with nothing to mark where he was going.
     
    #19 Peregrine, Jan 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2014
  20. Standing there behind the surveillance desk, Bree's nose wrinkled imperceptibly in disgust as the heavy scent of urine permeated the room, though that was the only hint of emotion to flicker across her face. Her arms folded one over the other across her chest, her pale, expressionless face reflecting all the colors flickering on the screens, she might have been mistaken for a carving, a statue - or even in her apparent serenity - a piece of religious iconography, like an ever-patient Madonna. But for the slow drip-drip of Seattle rain water from the ends of her long, sodden hair down the back of her dark leather jacket, relentless and sullen, none of what truly passed behind those grey eyes showed.

    Her green-eyed man was... He was impossible. Absolutely fucking impossible, and if she wasn't watching his escape unfold she'd have never believed such a thing could happen, a feat meant more for TV and the movies than actual, honest-to-God reality. Speechless, Bree watched the only color images they had anymore, even if they weren't stills. The digital camera in Booking seemed to have developed a technical glitch somewhere between the stand and the computer, and more than fifty different shots had been eaten somewhere between the camera's memory and cyberspace.

    But that irritation was nothing - nothing at all, barely even registered in her head really - as she watched the spliced images of panning video throughout the station as the green-eyed man simply walked out the goddamned front door, minutes before she arrived. There was no way, no natural way on this entire damned planet, he could have managed this without some seriously connected people in the background, following his progress the whole way right out the front doors and then onto the anonymous streets.

    The fact that explained nothing of the green-eyed man walking away from custody in Richmond or that miraculous leap onto the ferry boat was a thought she shoved far back into the 'kooky closet.' Outside that illegal casino had been utter chaos, and she'd been shot along with Victor. Hell, who'd ever really know what happened that day? And anyone can have a sudden bout of 'freaky good luck' - being athletic and extremely fortunate didn't exactly happen every day, but hey, no reason to go reading 'weird' into something with a perfectly good explanation.

    No. No, there had to be something behind this, and likely a whole organization of someones to pull this off. Besides, Bree didn't believe for a minute the entirety of the Seattle PD on duty today was incompetent or corrupt, or somehow or another on-the-take -

    -though even she had to admit, when the red-faced booking sergeant came in to tell her the fingerprint cards had been accidentally shredded along with some of the office recyclables that fell off his desk, she was reconsidering the former.


    Three months and thousands of miles away...

    Auburn hair coiffed into a neat coil at the back of her head, her navy pencil skirt and ivory silk button up shirt immaculate, Bree strode to her new digs in the Richmond field office. The three-inch heels of her black pumps clicked crisply on the tiles of the Richmond office foyer as she made her way toward... Well, in her thoughts it was still her new office really, but she supposed she'd get used to it one day.

    She hadn't been promoted for ignoring her superiors' more-or-less direct orders, but then again, she hadn't been demoted either. Just transferred really, a 'lateral promotion' of sorts from Organized Crime to Counterterrorism, and all because her instincts had been right. Dead on actually. Her green-eyed man really was far more than ever met the eye, and after his stunt in Seattle, absolutely no one could deny she'd made the right call to go after him. Still, Bree couldn't even pretend to be surprised when the CODIS people called, with abject apologies but by the time the swabs arrived at the labs, they'd been accidentally degraded, something about a lab accident and a spilled bottle of disinfecting alcohol...

    Just knowing she was right was far from enough, but it was all she had, and - not being God? It'd just have to do. And at least she had a name now - even if it likely wasn't his real name, though it sat a lot easier in her thoughts than 'Walter' ever did. That defensive young woman in the Pourhouse, and the slightly belligerent drunk he once lived with, and even that reluctant ferry pilot had a name, and precious little else. All the terror watch lists now had color photographs taken from the recovered Seattle PD surveillance photos, and some partial palm and fingerprints lifted from the lock mechanism in his cell door, and a name.

    Ethan.

    And Ethan's face was sent out on BOLO's across the country, from airport and TSA security to some post offices that still bothered to post the FBI lists, to police departments great and small nationwide. The fact that his face was one among thousands gave Bree no peace though, because she just knew this man wouldn't be stupid enough to blithely hop on a nearby plane to Central America, or stroll into a local donut shop to chat up the local PD officers...

    No, there was no peace to be had there, and precious little anywhere else either.

    Although it'd never been her forté, and she'd never really needed it before, Bree had honed her skills with makeup to a surprising degree, managing successfully most days to cover the deep purple circles that ringed her eyes, the evidence of those long, restless nights when sleep still refused to be her friend or, when sheer exhaustion finally did swallow her whole? Those nights when bloody dreams and Victor found her all over again, come to visit their dear, dear friend Bree.

    The only [vaguely] bright point she could find in these past months, was the fact her sister-in-law finally grew a human soul, and was actually trying her damndest to be almost-kinda-friendly, in a stinted, weird way that even Bree couldn't refuse (though it didn't hurt that Michael's pale blue eyes begged her wordlessly to please please please play nicely with his wife... ). Maybe it was the hospitalization scare, or Michael's endless advocacy on behalf of his sister - or maybe just the fact Bree's wardrobe had taken a step up above khakis, jeans and T-shirts when she moved to Counterterrorism, and she didn't look quite so 'other side of the tracks' - but... Yeah. Tonight Bree had a blind date with one of Lyndsay's acquaintances, a banker or a broker or something like that Lyndsay was sure would just adore Bree's 'homey and simple ways' - and he was in the Navy once too! They'd have so much in common!

    Bree didn't bother correcting her sister-in-law, that she'd spent six years in the Army, her mouth snapping shut with a quick *click* of her grated teeth behind a wall of fake smile that the look on Michael's face just pleaded with her to keep there in place, without a word for the love of heaven! It was the effort there, the first effort on Lyndsay's part in... Well, in ever really. And even if her sister-in-law's gesture gave Bree none at all, Bree knew her brother deserved a measure of peace.

    And besides, if nothing else, if this guy was good-looking enough and not a complete dickhead, Bree might just have to see if a good workout and a warm body in her bed (not feline) might help her sleep through the night. A whole night's rest right now sounded just like a small slice of heaven. Or maybe... Oh hell, maybe she'd end up screaming anyway, freaking the poor fucker out - or at the least kicking his ass out of bed in what passed for sleep? Bree groaned softly under her breath, rubbing her temples with her fingertips irritably.

    That was a lot of 'maybe's' and 'if's,' but she had a whole day to let them run havoc in her thoughts anyway, so yeah... "Peace." Heh. Elusive bitch.

    Bree slid into the black leather chair at her desk, setting her purse into the locked portion of the desk and her jacket over the back of her seat neatly. Framed pictures of Michael and Lindsay, her mother and father, and even Riddick flipped over on his back, pawing at the camera, smiled up at her beside her monitor on the functional government desk, adding a small measure of 'bright' to her day.

    And then with the requisite amount of dark to counterbalance any optimism that had the temerity to seep into her thoughts, Bree's grey-eyed gaze turned toward the pin board, among the myriad faces of men and women responsible for untold suffering and mayhem and pain, to the face of her green-eyed man staring straight into the police surveillance camera - and right into her own. Though she could never have said how, or why - he knew she was out there that day. He wasn't looking at anyone or anything else at that moment in time, but her.

    "So tell me Ethan," she whispered with just a hint of gallows humor tingeing her voice, "Am I going to get lucky tonight?"
     
    #20 Muirgen, Jan 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
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