Silently at the centre of the roof of the museum, the bear and rooster eyed one another. Muscles were taut under their well tailored suits, ready to break into action at any moment's given notice. He knew of their strengths, their weaknesses and carefully calculated their next move and what risks to take.
J. Gander had big plans for Steelbeak. Plans that would help bring F.O.W.L out of power. Plans that involved forcing him to work against the organization for which he had been loyal to all his life. All unbeknownst to him, the plan, a trap collaborated between the museum and SHUSH involving a rare gem that had potential to be used as an explosion ingredient, was intended to prey upon his pride. It was meant to give the rooster a false sense of security; he was meant to come in, get the gem out, and impress High Command once again.
Likewise the plan had also had an impact on Grizzlikoff's pride. Although backup was on standby, the bear was confident he could handle the rooster himself.
In the moonlight, a smirk appeared upon the corner of Steelbeak's beak. Life was too short, especially for a F.O.W.L agent, to not to have some fun. Before he was to turn into his prize, he thought he was due for a little taunting.
"You will not being smirking when you are in custody." The bear snorted, eyeing his rival darkly as he slowly circled around him. He reached into his jacket, feeling for his handgun -- just in case. While he had strength and size on his side, the rooster had faster reflexes.
Or so he gave the impression.
Steelbeak scoffed, having heard it all before. At the show of Vladimir's gun, Steelbeak casually pulled out his favoured handgun, a sophisticated model with laser precision aim. He swiped the bear's gun as he caught him staring at it, intimidated. Ah, the perks of working as F.O.W.L's finest, getting the latest weapon technology at the ready, and the power that came with it.
"Dat's if youse can catch me. Why, I could run soicles around youse. Why 'ooty doesn't 'ave youse runnin' on de obstacle course, I'll neva' know." Pocketing the guns, he grabbed the 'stolen' gem out from his jacket, teasingly tossing it just outside the bear's grasp as he continued to pace around him, smirking as he went to grab at it as he predicted he would.
"An' dat's a'nudda' t'ing. Youse are getting way too predictable."
Vladimir decided to play the rooster's game. It may have been a dangerous game, but such the nature of the job. "Are you noticing something is being absent?" He sneered, as if imitating him, testing to see just how far he would go.
Indeed, something was missing. When it came to SHUSH dealing with Steelbeak, it was usually only a matter of time until Darkwing Duck showed up. The caped ego was conspicuously absent. Not even a puff of smoke of that telltale purple smoke was visible.
"Youse -- "
Before he was able to reach his hand into his jacket, a hard kick to the rooster's groin was delivered via surprisingly fast reactions by Vladimir. Steelbeak staggered back -- and over the edge of the building.
Stunned, Vladimir rushed over to the edge. For in spite of the years of trouble he had with him, having Steelbeak fall to his death was not how even he wanted it to end. All J. Gander ordered him to do was to catch him and bring him to SHUSH Headquarters. Surely he would have understood if he was killed in self defence.
To his relief, Steelbeak was very much alive, crumpled up the staircase of a fire escape, clutching a leg. Now, he thought, was the time to bring him into custody. Now was the time he would truly make J. Gander proud.
Vladimir wasted no time in rushing to the level of which the fire escape lead out to. On the way down from the steps, he grabbed up the handguns which had fallen out of Steelbeak's jacket, and pointed them at him. He had no doubt there were other weapons in that white jacket, and he took no chances.
"If you are knowing what is good for you, be getting onto your feet. You are in SHUSH custody."
Vladimir blinked as Steelbeak got up, only to fall back down. He winced inwardly as he saw why. The leg in which he had been clutching, had been broken during the fall. Nonetheless, Steelbeak got up again up after gripping his hand on the staircase, and awkwardly started to hop down the next flight of stairs.
He turned and snapped his metallic jaws at the bear as he made a grab for him. In doing so, he stumbled back down the rest of the set of stairs, into a miserable heap on the next landing. He made a grab for his communicator, cussing to himself under his breath when he realized it had been broken.
"I would sooner die den to turn myself ova'." Steelbeak hissed, gritting his teeth as he stared angrily up at Vladimir. Racked in pain, he was in no shape to fight the bear now, but it didn't stop him from trying. He couldn't let down FOWL High Command. Not with his life.
"You have no choice in matter." Vladimir shook his head, sighing as he felt himself develop a grudging respect for the rooster, or at least his sheer determination. His duty to his work was much like his own to SHUSH.
Grudging respect or not, he still had a job to do. Before he was able to get another snap at him, Vladimir dodged a punch and grabbed Steelbeak by the scruff of his neck, just behind his head which he held to the ground. He knelt on him as he reached into is jacket for his handcuffs.
It was the feeling of the metal against his wrists that finalized Steelbeak's fate. Defeated, he was. He always hated that feeling; that humiliation, but far worse; the punishment in which High Command doled out. Expected to be a better agent than the rest, his were always harsher than the others, and one punishment in particular marked him for life. How would they treat someone they would recognize as a traitor, working against them with the rival organization?
Fear set into his silvery eyes, and instead of the angry hiss of a tone he used, it was replaced with one of pleading desperation.
"Youe don't understa'stand. 'igh Command . . ." Steelbeak started to shake, and shut his eyes as old memories hit him hard. He heard that horrible whirr of an electric surgical saw and let out a cry, absolutely terrified. In one more act of desperation, he tried to thrash himself free, without thought that he was only hurting himself more.
"You are only hurting self more." Vladimir urged, clutching Steelbeak against his massive form after putting him in a headlock, and laying his weight onto him.
For what seemed to be eternity, Vladimir continued to hold him down until at last, Steelbeak, his feathers soaked in cold sweat, his clothes, which he had been so proud of, torn, stopped struggling. His tense body became limp, his breathing heavy, laboured, the breathing of fear mixed with exhaustion.
Vladimir panted, shaking his head. "The villain never wins."
He didn't know quite what got over himself. For all the years of service to SHUSH, had always followed it right by the book; there had been no criminal he had ever let go. Why was this case any different? Maybe it was that the two were more alike each other than he had once thought. Maybe more so, it was that even if he was an sworn enemy, he nonetheless hadn't wished him to whatever fate High Command awaited for him. He had a feeling it would be a matter of time until he was back in their talons again.
"Dead, I'm dead . . . Aren't I?" Steelbeak asked, his eyes darting about frantically. It was if he was unaware he was still in the bear's arms. The dark, misty night was all he saw, the cold was all he could feel.
"I've gone to 'ell . . . 'aven't I?"
Vladimir raised an bushy eyebrow, but his with his beady, ursine eyes softening, he held him closer when he thought heard the rooster cry. There was something so pitiful about seeing such a formidable enemy in such a vulnerable state, something that brought out a nurturing side, a side in which he had thought was long dormant. He couldn't imagine speaking such words himself, and wondering what the answer would be; for all the good he had done, he himself -- and SHUSH alike as a whole -- was certainly no angel.
"No . . .You are being very alive." Letting out a heavy sigh, he sat up and did something very risky. He reached a hand out, and very softly he touched him. .
Steelbeak flinched as he felt his furred finger brush against his whiskered cheek. The cream feathers quivered sharply in response. It became apparent to the bear that he had few kind hands on him, but to his surprise, his fingers remained intact. Still with caution, he moved his touch up a little ways, brushing away a tear. He shrunk away again, weakly trying to get away.
"I will not be letting them hurt you." Vladimir spoke it like he meant it, and whispered his next words.
"I am not going to be hurting you."
There was once a time when such words wouldn't be formed in a sentence when it came to dealing Steelbeak. Vladimir also remembered those many years ago when he deceived him. He also didn't expect Steelbeak to forget it, either. It had been of the very few times he had ever seen the inside of a jail cell before, no doubt a huge humiliation for such a proud bird.
A half hearted fury of fists came hammering down on Vladimir's large form as Steelbeak made one more attempt to get away. The bear calmly allowed him to do so as he felt each pound becoming weaker than the last, and finally, they stopped. The rooster let out a long, heavy breath, his body gradually becoming more relaxed in his arms.
Maybe, just maybe, being held wasn't so bad. Maybe a long time ago, Steelbeak was held like this. He felt more like the vulnerable little boy now than the notorious agent. With uncertainty, he tipped his head back, resting it against the bear's cheek.
"Don't leave me . . ."
Steelbeak gripped a hold of his sleeve. "Promise?"
"I am promising."