Monday, August 30, 2010

The Attentive Lady and the Tiger

(Edited because I didn't think to when I posted this at eleven.)

I walked in. The first thing most people would have noticed about the room would be the utter lack of furniture. All told, four walls, ceiling, one one-way mirror, lights currently set so that the other side was visible, and equally bare. That was it.

The first thing I noticed was the man looking into the mirror. If he hadn't been using a little 'nothing to see here' thing, most people would have seen him first.

He was old, in his fifties (physically), I knew. But in addition to the world-walker look, he had also aged very gracefully. Small laugh lines, but other than that, flawless skin. Grey hair, but it was closer to silver, and very neat. He wasn't facing me, but I knew that if he turned, his eyes would have that same silvery look.

A shiver should have run up my spine. If I weren't already so tired from being woken up twenty minutes after going to bed, and being awake for the next thirty and counting, it would have.


"What." The question was mostly reflex. I didn't expect him to answer.

He turned. Colored contacts, baby blue. "You. Not ha-ha funny. Just off. Odd."

I ran through my resources. I hadn't know where I was going, so I had armed. The guards had patted me down, of course. And, of course-of course, I still had a few weapons. Wrists, hair, breasts, and ankle. The blade at my ankle was actually a decoy, I was stunned no one had caught it.

Topic at hand. "Oh, tell me this isn't going to be a speech that could be boiled down to 'Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.' You are so much better than that."

He smiled at me. "Why thank you. I didn't know you cared."

I shrugged. "You're not stupid."

"Why thank you," he repeated dryly.

"What's funny, and please avoid the mathematician's answer."

"I try and arrange a meeting with you. A thousand different ways; inviting you, pressuring, 'bumping into you'. Then, I send out a guy you know works for me. You must have known where he was taking you. But you couldn't be quite sure. I'd been trying to figure out a way to make it a little less clear where you were going, but all I needed was to put that little grain of doubt in your mind. Isn't that fascinating?" He smiled. If I hadn't seen the face behind the mask, there would have been butterflies in my stomach.

"Riveting. But there's the whole bit where you've been keeping away from me whenever I wanted to see you."

"Well." He shrugged. "Who wants to meet on someone else's terms?"

I sighed. I'd call him on how stupid that was if it wouldn't have been so hypocritical of me. "Let's get on with this. I figured out my stuff without you, thank you so very much, so I hope this is important."

"No. Not at all."

It was an effort of will to keep from growling at him. I turned on my heel.

"Just some news on your sister."

Just like that, nailed to the spot. And I'd stopped suddenly, so he knew how much I cared. Drama is a cruel mistress. At least there was nothing left to hide. I turned back to him. "Oh?"

He smiled. Shivers ran up my spine. "Let's talk."

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