New Year's, 1941, London, Britain.
The city was still smoking. There had been air raids before, but this one was the worst. So far, she supposed. Lorna Harrison pulled out a silver cigarette case from her coat pocket, flicked it open to retrieve a fag and then shut it to slip it away again, her hand coming back out with a lighter. A moment later and she was sucking in a long drag of nicotine. She let it out in a relieved huff, looking down the street at a charred, rubbled ruin of a house, still swarming with firemen and paramedics. If anyone was left amongst the burnt bricks, she didn't think they'd survive much longer. One benefit of the network was the underground offices - a private bunker, essentially. It wasn't shock-proof, but at least the only damage came in the form of plaster chips shaken loose into cups of tea.
She stepped off the curb, rubble gritting under her modest heels, which might have been rubbing horribly had she not had the pair of nylons on. Another benefit of her job. She picked through the dust, heading down the block, for the corner pub. Blessedly untouched by the bombs, and judging by the activity by the door, profiting from it nicely. And so would she, hopefully. She delicately slipped off her coat as she stepped across the threshold, folding it over her arm, cigarette held between red lips.
Buy me, her dress screamed.
Sebastian Moran leaned back in his corner booth, eyeing the crowd swarming in from the scabbing street to the smoky warmth of the pub. There was a clamor for seating, but few people dared approach his table, and those that did caught his eye and soon turned back. There was a cold manner to his appearance that overshadowed the normal jovial nature with which someone wearing his sort of uniform was greeted. It gave the gazed-upon the distinct impression that they were prey. It did not require intuition to decipher; it was an instinct as base as man itself. The man with cool eyes in the corner was a predator. Steer clear.
When he first saw her, he was interested. Mainly, at first, he'd admit, in the haphazard plunge of her neckline, but once his eyes wandered up to her face that interested him as well.
Maybe it was her expression, or the way her eyes slid over the crowd, but a predator could tell another when it saw one. She was hunting. He'd yet to decide if he would allow it on what was traditionally his turf. He waited for her attentions to slide his way, then caught her eye, nothing more. Then he lifted his whiskey and took a sip, returning his attention to the gazelles fighting for position at the watering hole.
He wasn't the first to catch her eye since she'd walked in, but he was the first to keep it. A corner booth, with room to spare, occupied only by a single uniform? Strange. No - different. There were very few things that could have kept the jostling crowd from making use of that space, and any of them were worth a little investigating. Worth taking a break from the hunt. She slipped through the crowd, snagging a half full bottle of bourbon from the bar as she did, and within moments she was sinking into the booth. It was fascinating, how suddenly the joint became quieter, dimmer.
"What's a guy like you doing in a dump like this? " She raised an eyebrow, sliding the bourbon to the center of the table. He was neat. Shockingly so, considering the night they'd had. His uniform was impeccable, and up to code, as far as she could tell. She met his clear blue eyes almost cautiously, like he'd dart out like a snake and bite if she moved too fast. "Rather, what's old money like you doing in a shithole like this?"
The corner of his mouth turned up just slightly, though it did nothing to warm his eyes. "Hunting. Like you," he said calmly, tossing back the remainder of his whiskey and reaching for the new bourbon, pouring another shot. "But you knew that."
"No one has this much space in a pub. Especially not after a raid," she replied, leaning back, crossing her legs. She didn't drink anything, not yet. She'd test the waters a little more. "What are you doing here? Hunting or not, a man like you in a uniform like that.... Pilot, or AA?"
"Special forces," he said quietly, studiously ignoring her other implied questions. "You're wearing quite the uniform yourself. Why so dolled up for a professed shithole?
"It's not for this place. Or any place," she shrugged. She made it look elegant. She was good at that. "I'll go somewhere else, if this one doesn't have anything worth my while." She turned her gaze to the milling crowd, scanning them with a dulled interest. Already she could tell there was no one else worth her time. "Certainly no good money to be made here. But people talk, anywhere you go. Chatter isn't confined to the upper class, not like money is."
"Money isn't either, but I suppose that's a more... liberated way of thinking." He put the shot back with the casual toss of an experienced drinker. "Fancy a walk?"
"Outside, through the ashes?" She raised her eyebrows, though gathering up her coat already. "Alright. But you might end up regretting it. Fair warning, hunter to hunter."
He just shrugged, standing and grabbing his wool pea-coat and hat. "Quiet night to be about."
"I suppose I can't argue there," she agreed, putting out her cigarette in an ashtray on the table and turning in the general direction of the door. He was curious, and definitely dangerous, but somehow she didn't think he was luring her away to kill her. Well, she'd see.
He headed for the door, walking directly for the door with no particular regard for anyone who might be standing in his way. Most of them moved out of it. Those not paying attention were pushed out of it by his body mass, but no one argued once they saw who it was who'd checked them.
She stayed in the open zone left by his wake, all gracious smiles and polite nods. She didn't want any drunk idiot getting an aggressive idea in their head and following them out. She slipped into her coat again as they stepped out into the cold air. A dog barked down the street.
He pulled on his own coat and hat, looking around before heading off towards the more clear center of the road, away from the worst of the damage.
"If only those pesky Germans would stop this nonsense," she commented as she surveyed the street, counting more standing houses than destroyed ones. That wouldn't last much longer, if this blitz kept up. She kept her eyes off him; a habit she'd developed, walking with men. She found it gave them a better opportunity to observe her - and it was always easier to reel them in after they'd done so. "So, what's your name, soldier? If we're going to walk I ought to have something to call you."
"Colonel Moran," he returned evenly. He watched her gaze, carefully avoiding him, and smirked slightly, but returned his own observations to the darkened streets around them. "And yours?"
"Harrison, Lorna. Pleasure to meet you," she replied in a smooth tone, slipping her hands into her pockets. "So, Colonel, how long have you lived in England for? With that accent, I can't imagine you moved when you were a child."
He smirked slightly. "Actually I've lived in England for most of my life. But my father is Irish and strongly accented, and I spent time there as an adolescent." He glanced over at her. "Your accent's a bit on the round as well. Spent time in America recently?"
"I go where the money is, and right now, it's not in London," she smirked, nodding a little. Not strictly the truth - the high-end prostitute get-up was mostly a front, and her time in America had been much, much bloodier than any whore's nightly rounds. "Lot of rich men in New York, trying to pretend there isn't a war advancing on their doorstep, looking for a distraction." Also not strictly accurate. She hadn't been over since the war started. She'd been kept busy by Jim, and he was careful not to send her into Armetti's territory. He was unpredictable, and pissing off the mafia? Not a great plan.
He nodded a little. "Well, cards on the table, I don't plan on utilizing your services," he said calmly. "So if you'd like to make any money tonight, you should probably look elsewhere."
He surprised himself. He'd been planning on doing his usual. Nice fuck, little blood, body in the Thames, or in the rubble, or pretty much anywhere these days. But something about her stopped him. Maybe it was that she was a fellow hunter. Maybe it had been something she'd said. Maybe he was just too tired. Whatever it was, he was giving her a clear way free
She gave a mild shrug, stepping over a fallen streetlamp. "I already figured as much. Anyone who wants to never walks me this far," she replied, voice amused. "But it's New Years, not New Year’s Eve, and the men around here are cheap, anyway. I'm content just walking."
He laughed quietly, adjusting his coat. "I'm surprised. You seemed like a woman on a mission when you walked in."
"Oh, no, that wasn't my mission face," she chuckled, brushing a loose curl from her pinned up hair out of her eyes. "That was me looking for something to occupy myself with. Money was a secondary objective."
"That makes me an occupation, then?" he follows, taking a turn and heading down towards the Thames anyway. He could feel the way his gun holster lay against his chest, heart thumping calmly away underneath it.
"That makes you a welcome surprise," she corrected, following him without too much suspicion. It was darker here, and quieter, almost silent, the sounds of recovering people and distant sirens fading away with the light. A good place for him to attack her. She decided to keep on her guard. "I hadn't much hope of finding anything truly interesting tonight."
"Likewise. I was just expecting to watch the crowd and spend a few quid on stale beer." He was considering, hands in his pockets. He'd given her a sporting chance...
She felt a crawling sense of dread in her chest, one that often warned her of dangerous changes in someone's mood, and she carefully put a couple of feet between them, moving in a way that suggested she was just meandering for lack of anything better to do. "The benefit of my looks is the ease of which I can get free drinks out of people," she hummed, stepping up onto the curb, keeping him in her field of view.
He watched her step away, saw the goosebumps on the back of her neck, knew it wasn't the night chill. He could see the tense of her body, and it sent a thrill of anticipation seeping up his arms. Still, though, something held him back.
After a moment he turned along another street, this one heading back towards the better-lit streets of downtown. Not tonight. Just to keep things interesting.
"Definitely an advantage of the fairer sex."
She relaxed just a little, her heart rate slowing slightly, though there was still a nervous energy bouncing around her now. Somehow, she didn't think he'd changed his mind, just that she'd made it slightly inconvenient for him. That meant she needed to get him on a hook, reel him in, where she could safely manipulate him. "I've never quite subscribed to the idea of women being the fairer sex. Men can be beautiful, too, just in a different way. Look at you. They'd love you in America, you know."
A smirk. "That so? Well, maybe I'll explore over there after the war. Who knows."
"Where are you staying? Army quarters? I'm surprised you haven't been shipped off with the rest of the able-bodied young men," she added, slowly meandering back to his side as they entered the light once more. "I'd offer to have you back at my place for a nightcap, but it's not exactly accessible at the moment."
"Your place, or the nightcap?" he smirked. "And we have been. Back for debriefing and some training after a two month tour. Getting a few days leave."
"My place," she clarified with a quiet laugh. "It's been sealed up at nights because of the air raids. But it's past midnight, and it seems like the Germans are taking the night off, so perhaps they'll open the doors up if I ask really nicely."
"And if they don't?" he asked casually, offering her his arm as they entered the more well-lit street, camouflage among the ashy debris, a couple on a late night stroll. Nothing more, no silent duel between hunters.
She took it with practiced grace, more than used to the challenging of navigating while attached to someone's arm like a corsage. He was warm, even through the coats. "Oh, they will. They know better than to refuse me. I've got a bit of a temper, you see; extremely unladylike, but I decided long ago to own it."
"Sounds like an extremely useful decision to me," he said, nodding. He kept his arm just a bit higher than he knew would be strictly comfortable for her height, keeping her just slightly under his power.
They reached a familiar intersection and she made up her mind, guiding him right, towards the bunker. "Well, that's because you're a reasonable man. My mother, on the other hand, would disagree with you," she smirked, not even irritated by his obvious yet subtle bid for control over her movement. It wasn't every day she met someone like this, someone in the military with a penchant for killing so obvious she could almost see it rolling off him in waves. She knew there was a hole in their staff, and if she got him into the bunker and got drunk with him and still wanted to work with him afterwards, she'd bring him to the boss.
"Mmm... well, my father would disagree with many of my personal choices," he said, giving a toothy grin that was strikingly unfriendly, in an odd sort of way.
"It appears we have that in common, then," she replied, voice even. She wasn't incredibly intimidated by him. It was hard to do, having worked for Jim for this long.
He studied her carefully, the smile fading naturally. She had interesting resolve and instinct. Too good for a hooker, unless she was very unlucky. But he'd play along for now.
"So, any interesting stories from the continent?" She asked as they turned onto the street that held the main entrance to the bunker, halfway down the steps to the Underground train system. Someone in the network could always tell whether or not it was open by the height of the Union Jack on a pole across the street. Tonight, it was half mast. Closed to anyone who didn't remember this week's password. Those who didn't remember could wait on the steps of the bank behind the flagpole and hope someone they recognized walked by, or they'd have to wait for the flag to be raised to full mast once again, when the door was unlocked, and guarded by a single, well-armed man. That was the price that had to be paid for a well-hidden door without any viewports. She adjusted their path so they headed for the phone booth just outside the station's steps.
He let her make the turn, following along carefully, eyes on the road around them. She was guiding them into unknown territory.
He didn't answer, which meant he was distracted. She glanced up at him, finding his eyes scanning their surroundings. Good. He was cautious. She stopped outside the phone booth, extricating herself from his arm with a smile. "I just have to make a quick call, then they'll let us in," she smiled, stepping into the phone booth without bothering to close the door. It might help him relax a little, and it wasn't like he could use the password himself. She picked up the phone, hit the correct sequence of numbers, then waited for a click on the other side of the line. "Hello, I'd like to make a deposit of halibut, please," she said cheerfully, and the line went dead again. She hung up. "There we are. Shall we?"
He raised an eyebrow, becoming more and more suspicious, but not nervous. "Is that's what's in that bag of yours, halibut?" he jabbed, offering his arm again. Easy access to her as a hostage if he needed it.
"Do you smell any fish?" she retorted, leading him down the steps by his arm, into the damp, cold air of the station. At the halfway landing was a metal service door, and she let go of him to open it, which always took a little jimmying. Then she stepped inside, flicking on a light switch as she went. "Shut the door behind you, if you please."
"What a charming abode," he deadpanned, stepping inside nonetheless, careful to place his feet exactly where she had placed hers as he stepped inside. He was now more than certain that this was some sort of trap, but he also was confident in his ability to fight his way out if he needed to, and it would be interesting to see what he could discover.
"This isn't it," she waved off, stepping a few more feet before stopping at a finger-sized hole in the wall. She pulled, and a door-sized section of the wall swung out with a squeak of hinges, and a light clicked on, as if she'd opened a refrigerator door. "Good evening, Edward," she said to the doorman, who was wearing an entirely black suit, with a semi-automatic rifle on a strap around his shoulder. The man gave a hard stare at Moran. "Stand down, please. He's a guest."
He wasn't phased by the show, merely took in his surroundings with apparent casual observation, though in actuality he was cataloging every detail. He nodded to the man, but didn't see the need to speak.
She took his arm again as she led him down the hall, which improved in quality and brightness as it lengthened, until it ended at the entrance to a stairwell, and an elevator. "We'll want to take the lift down. Hell of a lot of stairs."
"Mmm... hell of a place for a hooker, even a high-end one," he said, a touch of sarcasm floating into his voice.
Her eyes flicked up to give him a very dry look. "Colonel, I think you and I both know I am more than I advertise to be. Just like we both know that not all of your... extracurricular activities are sanctioned by special forces." The elevator door opened, and they stepped inside. A moment later they were descending into the bunker. "I have to say, you gave me a little bit of a fright by the Thames. I'm good with the knife in this bag of mine, but I don't think I have to point out the size difference between us."
"I considered it," he admitted with a casual shrug. "But I wasn't quite in the mood. Glad I didn't now, this is much more interesting." He leaned back against the elevator wall.
"I'm glad you didn't either," she snorted. "Would have been an anticlimactic end to an exciting life. Would have been a few seriously pissed off people, too. And I do not doubt that one in particular would have found you, too."
"Seems like the best solution for both of us, then," he said with a small smirk. "What a fortunate evening." The sarcasm was far from subtle now.
She rolled her eyes as the lift opened again, onto a wide, marble-floored hallway, with expensive wallpaper and an accent table against the wall, with an antique porcelain vase on top. She led him to a big white door on the left and dug a set of keys out of her bag. "I'm in the mood for gin."
"I'll drink whatever doesn't have the tranquilizers," he sniped, looking around at the foyer with one eyebrow quirked- the only sign that he was impressed.
"Please, I wouldn't taint good alcohol. That's what the lipstick in my bag is for," she replied derisively, unlocking the door with a loud click and pushing it open. The inside of the apartment was expensively decorated, although still tasteful, with dark furniture and light wallpaper. The liquor cabinet against the wall was an expensive armoire - really, everything in the place was made of money. Well-spent money. "I can drink the first sip of yours, if you're really suspicious."
"No, then I'll have to wonder about the lipstick on my glass," he deadpanned. "So, not government, not with this money. Mafia?"
"No, I already tried the mafia life out. Not for me," she hummed, tossing her bag and coat onto the closest sofa and heading for the liquor cabinet. "You're closer, though. But you won't guess."
"And why is that?" he asked calmly, removing his own coat and hat and hanging them by the door, his jacket still concealing his shoulder holster.
She shrugged, grabbing the bottle of gin out of the cabinet, and two crystal glasses. She walked back over to hand one to him, then the bottle. "Here, I'll let you pour it. And I don't think you can guess it because it's a little.... unorthodox."
He smirked at her offer but nodded his thanks, pouring out two generous portions and handing one her way. "I'm a fan of the unorthodox," he replied, waiting for her to sip the gin before he did.
"I did suspect as much," she chuckled, sinking down into the arm chair behind her. "I don't bring people back here, as a rule. But not everyone thinks about murdering me and dumping my body in the Thames. That's a little unorthodox."
He shrugged, but smirked a bit, finally taking a sip of the gin once he saw her swallow her own. It was good stuff. "I suppose not. Call it a gift."
"I haven't seen you in action, I don't think I can call it much of anything, yet," she returned, then waved a few fingers at the furniture. "You know, you are allowed to sit. Lean, even."
"Yet?" he prompted, interested as he lowered himself onto the couch, his posture sturdy and tall even when sitting.
"I can't make an informed opinion without seeing anything now, can I?" She challenged, herself lounging back in her chair with all the grace of a resting leopard. Had she wanted to, she could have made a killing in American movies. But her tastes were a little too eccentric for such a public lifestyle.
"What sort of informed opinion are you looking to make?" he asked curiously, eyeing the woman. Beautiful and dangerous. It was an attractive combination.
She took a sip of gin, then lifted up her glass to inspect the lipstick stain. "Several different opinions, really. Whether or not you're actually any good, generally. In a variety of subjects. It's nothing you really need worry about."
He laughed. "I didn't sign up for any testing, Ms. Harrison," he said, raising an eyebrow. His eyes were back to cold. "Just what are you looking for?"
She smirked. "I'm looking for a lot of things. A good fuck, a new contractor, maybe some antique silverware..." she shrugged. "If I see something useful, or interesting, I pick it up and I put it to work. I don't look. Things find me."
"Oh, well then, the silverware I can definitely help you with," he muttered into his glass, lips quirking.
She laughed, honestly amused by him. It wasn't often that she gave a genuine laugh. "Well, I'd certainly appreciate that, mine are shit."
"That's a shame," he said, leaning forward to refill his gin glass, holding the bottle towards her glass questioningly. "In my opinion, a person should always have excellent knives."
She leaned a little so he could top her up. "I have good kitchen knives, and good sport knives, but my cutlery is sadly lacking. I have the same set I picked up a good four years back, right after I got back from America. Cheap tin. Hideous."
"Well, you don't seem short for cash," he said, filling her glass expertly and setting the bottle down, before waving a hand at her room to indicate what he was talking about. "Go get a new set and stop inviting strangers in in the hopes that they've got a set tucked into their waistband."
"I already told you, I don't invite people in here, and I don't seek things out," she corrected quietly, her eyebrows raised just slightly.
"Then I'm not people, but I am something you were waiting to fall into your lap," he said calmly, firmly, eyes holding hers. "What do you want from me?"
"You misunderstand me, Colonel. I don't want anything from you. You struck my curiosity. I wondered if your posture would slump any once you had a few drinks. I'm not looking for anything from you. I just want to talk," she sighed, holding his eyes until she finished talking and then tilting her head back to finish the last of the gin in her glass, before leaning over to grab her coat and dig out her cigarette case. "Relax, will you? It's the end of the world, live a little."
He studied her. He wasn't inclined to trust her, but she seemed genuine enough. Or she thought she was. There was still the whole business of her testing him. Still...
He couldn't remember the last time someone had just taken an interest in him, not in his abilities. For the moment his abilities remained unknown to her, so either she was betting, or she was actually interested in him.
He didn't relax, but he was curious.
"You don't say much, do you?" She chuckled, lighting up a cigarette and taking a drag. "That's alright. You're pretty enough you can get away with stoic silences. You want a fag?"
He smirked just a little, but nodded, reaching out as she offered the box, taking a cigarette and the lighter. "So you want to talk. What about?"
"Tell me about yourself," she smiled, reaching out for the gin again. "You know, what do you like to do, all that. Anything that doesn't have to do with this blasted war."
He shrugged. "I don't have much time for hobbies," he said with a smirk. "The army takes up a lot of my time. When I do have a spare evening, it usually goes like this. Except it ends with the walk by the Thames."
"Why didn't it, this time?" she asked, voice level. She knew that he could have killed her there, had he truly wanted to. She'd have wounded him, maybe grievously, but she would have died.
His eyes traced her expression and her body for a moment, before he took a sip of gin and parroted her own words back to her. "You struck my curiosity."
She smirked, amused by his imitation. "Fair enough. I guess it's hardly surprising, considering the fact we singled each other out in a pub."
"Hardly. Though, to be fair, you made yourself fairly easy to single," he smirked.
"Everyone singles me out, however. You singled me out, and then you looked away. Not because you were embarrassed, or you simply couldn't hold my gaze, you looked away because you felt like it. That's different than what I normally encounter."
He laughed, finishing his second glass of gin and feeling just a touch more free. "I know how to get the attention of someone who's used to it."
"That you do," she agreed, smirking. "How much practice have you had? You seem like a pro."
He shrugged a bit, setting his empty glass to the side for the moment. "It comes naturally." Or from being 'raised' by a politician. One or the other.
She took a long pull off her cigarette before releasing a stream of menthol smoke into the air. "Yeah? Anything else come to naturally?"
He sat back, finally lighting up his own cigarette and handing back the lighter. "Shooting. A few other things. What about you?"
"Sex, lying, and a couple messier things," she replied cheerfully, tapping ash into the glass tray on the accent table.
He smirked. "Seems like a nice set of fortes, there," he chuckled, drawing on his fag slowly, the ember glowing red. "Messier things...?"
She shrugged a little, crossing her legs, her red heels still on. "Getting what I want out of someone. Creatively."
His smiled widened, and for a moment, flashed genuine. "One of my personal favorites as well, though my chances to exercise my talents in that area are always... limited."
She knew when she'd hit on something that resonated with him when that shark smile of his softened into something more real. She gave a quiet laugh. "Yeah, well, you get a job in my field, you'll have a lot more opportunities."
His eyes sparked with life for just a second, but then he took a drag and it all faded back behind his control, like it had never been. "I don't even know what your field is," he pointed out.
She laughed for a moment. "Oh, yes you do . Don't pretend to be oblivious, Colonel. You're far too much a predator for that."
He smirked, too, watching as she laughed. It seemed to be an art form for her, and he was happy to be the audience. "I have an idea. But you aren't mafia, which just leaves me guessing semantics. Some other criminal organization is my bet, but I've no idea who."
"No, no, you wouldn't, I'll give you that much," she chuckled, pausing to take another pull off her menthol. "And I'm not going to tell you, either, at least not yet. Might have to have you killed or some shit. Which I'm sure would be difficult, but we're good at arranging accidents."
"Well, we wouldn't want that," he agreed, not in the least unnerved by the information. "Another weighty 'yet' there. You've got plans."
"I've got ideas. I don't have plans. I'm more of an improviser, really." She toed off her heels, which fell with two sharp clacks onto the maple floor. "Better my ideas than that stuffy old army job you've got, in my opinion. And yours, too, if they turn out to be anything worthwhile."
"The army job isn't nearly so stuffy as they try to make it," he chuckled, reaching out to tap his ash into the tray. "I've dug myself a nice little area of free reign. If I'm smart about it."
"Mm, they would probably frown on harboring their own little Jack the Ripper in the ranks," she grinned, then pointed at the gin. "Pass that down, will you?"
He passed the gin. "Please. That man knew how to instill fear, sure, but he had no imagination."
"We can agree on that point," she nodded, speaking around the cigarette held in the corner of her mouth as she used both hands to pour herself another glass. She set it down a moment later and leaned back, glass in one hand, cigarette in the other. "You fancy listening to some music?"
He nodded a little. "Sure, why not?" he agreed, grabbing his own glass and reaching for the bottle to fill it.
She hopped to her feet and set her glass down on the table - a very trusting move - and walked over to the record player against the opposite wall, trailing a finger across his shoulder as she passed him. A few moments of clunking around, and then she was done, the music flickering to life, the horns and piano starting, and she had to fight the urge to sing along.
There's no sunshine
This impossible year
Only black days and sky grey
And clouds full of fear
And storms full of sorrow
That won't disappear
Just typhoons and monsoons
This impossible year
"Hope you don't mind a little melancholy," she chuckled quietly, walking back to pick up her gin again.
He rolled his shoulder where she'd brushed it, urging away the goosebumps and considering her glass on the table, but not touching it. He looked up as the song came on. He didn't know it, but he liked it, and nodded slightly as she spoke. "It suits me more than the lovesick crooning of most singers these days." He shifted on the premise of putting out his cigarette in the tray, opening more of the couch, a silent, subtle invitation that could easily be ignored.
She stopped on his side of the sofa to grab the glass, and took the opening on the cushions naturally, crossing her legs as she settled back. "If you're going to be sick about something, make it about something important, you know? Not another person. Don't they know there's a literal war on?"
"I think that's their argument," he said dryly, shrugging. "Keep up the spirits of the boys in blue. Hell of a lot of good that's doing."
"Everyone says the war will end any day now, but I don't believe a word of it. It's never that easy," she muttered, then took another sip of gin and relaxed further into the sofa.
"As someone who regularly sees the worst of it, believe me, we're nowhere near done," he snorted, shaking his head.
She leaned over to put out her cigarette too as the music swelled to a crescendo. "I really wish that they'd stop bombing my damn city."
"Don't we all," he snorted. "Though I tell you what, it makes hiding bodies a damn sight easier."
"Do you even have to hide them any more? Or do you do it just for the sake of the process?" she raised her eyebrows, the back of her mind starting to be vaguely pleased at the gin starting to take effect.
He shrugged. "I do sometimes when the wounds are a bit more 'blatant murder' than usual, but only when I feel like it. Otherwise I just drop a few big pieces of rubble on them from a bit of a height and call it a day."
"Have you got a pattern like a proper serial killer?" she asked curiously, the corners of her lips turned up in a slight smirk.
"They define proper serial killers by the ones they know about, can catch, and can link to multiple murders," he points out with an equal smirk. "Not very proper in my opinion."
"Good, because I meant it as a joke anyway," she laughed. In the background, the song stopped and there was a momentary pause before the next started.
"Really? Couldn't tell," he deadpanned, looking over and giving her a flash of a canine before he took a sip of gin.
She smirked. He wasn't very good at putting on a convincing grin. "So, soldier," she started, "You got an interesting scars? That's what I'm supposed to ask, isn't it?"
"It depends on what you want to see," he retorts, leaning back against the couch and considering the drink in his hand before looking back up at her, blue eyes still sharp despite the fact that he could feel the heat of the booze in the pit of his stomach. "Got a couple, definitely. You don't do my line of work without getting them."
"I believe it. I'm shocked I haven't got more, honestly, the kind of work I do. Only two. One I got from an angry old lady with a shockingly sharp purse." The other was the small but deep JM carved high up between her shoulders, directly over her spine. It was easy enough to hide, with her hair the length it was, and if anyone saw it she could always claim a possessive ex-fiance had done it, but at the time it had been excruciatingly painful.
He almost laughed at that, genuinely, which surprised him. She amused him, and not in the usual 'ah, pitiful humanity' sort of way. She was genuinely entertaining. He liked her.
"Watching your face is hilarious," she commented, grinning. "You keep stopping it from doing anything, and then you end up looking surprised."
"That so?" he asked, shifting to face her a bit more. "Because yours is a damn good puzzle, too."
She raised her eyebrows a little. "Yeah? How's that?"
He considers a way to put it. "You know the phrase ‘she talks a lot but says nothing’? It's like your face is doing that, very intentionally. It's an impressive art."
She didn't know how to react for a second, then a sort of resentful smile appeared on her face, spreading into an exasperated smirk. "Damn, you figured me out that quickly, did you?"
"Are you kidding? I saw it right away. Part of what drew me to you," he said with an amused grin. "Your smile told the room 'I'm yours' and the nothing underneath added '-or so you think, you quaint little mortals.'"
She laughed, running a hand through her careful curls. "I suppose I made it a habit a long time ago to be animated so that people look at me, not what I'm doing."
"Well, they do," he nods in agreement, watching her curls fall back around her shoulders. "It's a beautiful game."
"It helps that I'm such a beautiful woman, then, doesn't it?" she shrugged, watching him carefully, grey eyes on his icy blue ones.
"That's definitely helpful, yes," he said with a smirk. "It reels your victims in, and then your wit and charm go for the kill."
"Oh, wit and charm? I'm absolutely flattered, Colonel," she said coyly, finishing off her third glass of gin. "You'll make me blush if you aren't careful."
"Not unless you wanted me to," he retorted. "I've a hefty wafer that says you have that expression on command."
"You're right," she admitted with a smirk, then shrugged a little. "But I have been known to give a genuine blush on occasion. I guess you'll just never know which one you get."
"I suppose so. I get the impression there's a lot I'll never know about you," he retorts, grinning.
"Well, you'll certainly never know until you try," she pointed out, lifting a hand to adjust the collar of his jacket. "Where's your sense of adventure?"
"What sort of adventure are you suggesting?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm suggesting you relax a little and have a little fun. Not everything has to be planned," she smiled, half turned to face him, her elbow resting on the back of the sofa.
"I've found that when you stop planning is where you start making mistakes," he said, mirroring her position. "Especially in unknown territory that could be the enemy camp."
"Outside that door," she gestured to the flat door, leading to the foyer, "Out there, you could consider it potentially hostile territory. In here? So long as you don't piss me off, you're good. Keep your gun on if you want to, but loosen your tie a little, relax. I'm a heavy drinker, and three glasses of gin's enough to affect me quite a bit. Join in the fun."
He sighed, considering her for a moment before reaching up to untie the tie, letting it hang around his neck. "You saw the gun, then."
"No, I didn't. But I know people, and I know soldiers, and a combination of the types you are? No way you're walking around unarmed," she shrugged, still cheerful.
He paused, glanced at her. "And now you have confirmation. Nicely done," he said with a nod of appreciation.
"Thank you," she smiled, then, "It's getting late - do you want a cup of coffee, tea, maybe? Either way this night goes, think you might need a little caffeine."
"Coffee would be fine," he said with a nod, standing as she did and following her into a kitchen that matched the rest of the flat for taste and spending.
"Oh good, I don't have to worry about apologizing for my slightly Americanized tastes," she chuckled, banging around the kitchen, scraping together the making for french press coffee.
He reached out to grab the tin of coffee on a shelf just out of her reach, handing it to her. "We survive off of coffee in the field. You get a taste for it," he murmured.
"Will you be wanting it black, then?" She asked, putting a kettle on the stove to warm the water with. "I usually take mine with sugar. I'm not very good at following rations."
He smirked. "Black is fine, thank you. Though I understand the disregard for rationing."
"It makes me feel a little better that we're getting our supplies shipped in special, either way. Not that that has exactly been easy, with those damn U-Boats," she muttered, leaning against the counter as she waited for the kettle to whistle.
"I'm impressed," he said calmly. "I've been on those damn U-Boats. They're tough to fly by."
She shuddered, making a face. "I don't know if I could stand being trapped under water like that. I could drive a tank, maybe, but a plane or a u-boat? Those are elements I don't belong in."
He smiled. "I can't say I was overly fond of the idea either," he admitted, watching her prepare the coffee.
When she'd poured them both a glass she gestured back to the living room. "Were you drafted, or did you sign up?"
"Signed up. First chance I got," he said, taking the hot mug in hand and following after her.
She sat where he had been before, leaving open a good space for him to take. "Patriotism, or family?"
He sat a touch closer to her than he'd been before. "Definitely not patriotism," he chuckled, though his eyes weren't laughing.
"I see," she sipped her coffee, the picture of poise. "No need to explain further, then. Not even people who like their family want to talk about them."
He took a large gulp of his own coffee to reset himself, the hot liquid scalding the roll of his tongue, and nodded just a little, letting the tension of the moment ease quickly and quietly away, though he had no doubt she'd noticed it. He returned his attention to the warmth of the gin, letting that ease him as best he could. That and the beautiful woman who was sitting just a few feet away. "What about you? How did you get into this business?"
"My father, actually. He did hits for whoever would pay. Wasn't secretive about it either, which caused a lot of fights between him and Mum," she shrugged, her voice still pleasant. "Helped to have his name to bandy about when I was old enough to start working. I didn't have to; we had good enough money, but I had an itch that needed to be scratched."
He nodded a little at that. "Sounds like fun. What sort of work do you do specifically?"
"I used to do.... creative hits, when I lived in America," she shrugged, taking a sip of her coffee. "Now, I'm more of a spy, I suppose. I grift. Acting like a call girl is a good front and good bonus cash."
He nods a little. "Creative hits sounds entertaining. Why'd you move out of it? Get bored?"
"More like got sick of the Mafia. Had me do a few things I'm not proud of," she sighed. "And I was involved with the Don. That started getting messy."
"That sounds like it would get messy," he agreed, making a slight face.
"I'm sure he's still madly in love with me, but there's nothing to be done about that," she shook her head, and took a bracing drink from her mug.
"Some gin in that?" he asked, picking up the bottle and offering it her way.
"Yes, please," she chuckled, holding out her mug. "I'm already quite buzzed, but what could it hurt?"
"Nothing at all," he agreed, pouring a generous serving of gin into her coffee and adding a bit to his own as well.
"Before I get any drunker, however, you're going to have to make a choice," she smirked, sipping her spiked coffee. "Because if I'm going to walk you back to the surface tonight, I don't want to be barely capable of walking up stairs."
He smirks just a little. "That sounds more like your choice, not mine," he decided after a moment.
"If I wanted you gone, I'd have you gone. But I won't keep you trapped here against your will," she laughed, shrugging a little.
"If I wanted to be gone, I'd be gone," he retorted. "So we both want me here. That's a start."
"Now the question is," she murmured, bringing her hand up to smooth along the collar of his jacket. "Whether or not we talk all night, or find something else to... occupy ourselves with."
"I'm not much of a talker, personally," he smirked, catching her hand with a quick movement and then bringing it to his lips, kissing the inside of her wrist lightly.
"I can work with that," she murmured, eyes locked onto his, dark, interested. "I can definitely work with that."
"Good to know," he said with a grin, holding her gaze, unafraid.
"When's the last time you slept with a woman, soldier?" She murmured.
"Excluding my Thames excursions?" he asked with a smirk. "It's been a while."
"When's the last time you slept with a woman and stayed for coffee in the morning?" she corrected, smiling.
"Ah, yup, there's that qualifier," he said with a small nod and a dark smirk. "I repeat. It's been a while."
"You can change your answer tomorrow," she smirked, taking one more long draught before she leaned forward and kissed him.