There's something both reassuring and worrying when she walks down the street and sees people like herself. A certain hardness around the eyes, a hand half clenched like it should be holding a knife, the way the eyes flick back and forth, assessing exits and noting potential trouble with a mechanical perfection.
The best snipers are women, and some of the women in this city would put her out of business if they got their hands on the right machinery.
She climbs the stairs, the bag on her back solid, and situates herself on the roof.
Cigarette smoke curls through the air, but she has a small bag for butts. She's methodical about setting up, hands flying over everything with the ease of long practice. Set up the stand, check over the weapon, note problems, run a rod and cloth down as a precaution, note if it comes away clean or dirty (clean, but it pays to be cautious), load, prepare additional bullets (don't get cocky), and settle in. The butt of the stock is solid against her shoulder, a reassuring weight. The smoke curls off into the air, and she sets her eye to the scope.
The target is a thin, wiry man, balding, with the kind of teeth that only the most expensive of dentists can make a reality. He lives on the third floor of the building opposite her, and has all the personality of a worm.
She exhales, and the smoke is whisked away by the breeze. It's just picked up, and she adjusts her angle accordingly.
Her skin prickles, as if someone is watching.
A quick scan of the street with her scope reveals nothing of interest, and she moves back up to focus on the window. He likes to look out of it while holding The Fountainhead and smoking, probably thinks it makes him look smart or some shit, and she has every intention of taking the easy shot.
A finger of unease trails down her spine, and she pauses, considers.
Another scan of the street and her blood chills.
A black car idles by a meter, sharp angled front suggesting aggression in every line.
“Shit,” she mutters around the cigarette, swings back up, and fires just as the man steps up to the window.
It's perfection, and he crumples soundlessly.
She's already up by then, scooping up her bag and shoving the gun inside. The hot shell casing gets tossed in with it, and she bolts to the far edge of the building and scoots down the fire escape. The second floor has an abandoned apartment that she scoped out earlier in case of emergency, and she ducks inside, heart pounding. Her skin feels like it wants to shred itself from her body, crawling with disgust and unease.
The text to Cameron is short.
Bobby here, no pick up
Back up plan it is.
The back up plan is also not ideal. It requires leaving the room she's in, and she can hear footsteps in the hall. She weighs her chances.
The door creaks open, revealing an empty room.
Three steps inside, she counts from inside the little closet she's in, and she quietly pulls out the knife at her back. It's washed black so it doesn't shine, and has the kind of serration on it that suggests serious damage could be done. The blade is trusted, solid and serrated, with the kind of curves that made men weep. The familiar scent of cigarette smoke fills the room, complete with a slow, heavy exhale. It's not her brand, the smoke heavier and headier, and she lets herself sink into readiness.
The floor creaks softly as he walks.
Years of training and work have taught her well, and she knows those steps. She tightens her grip on the knife, sets her phone to silent, and waits. She is a sniper- waiting is all that she is. She is the eye of the hurricane now, a single fixed point in space and time, waiting to spin out into violence. She will be patient until the perfect moment.
Another slow inhale, exhale, scent of smoke.
He's fucking toying with her, and her stomach, normally iron, churns just being in the same room as him. He smells faintly of disinfectant, probably to keep the reek of blood from sticking to his clothes.
“Wanna save me some time and get out here, bitch?”
But he's made his move. Quick steps across the floor (he's excited, she registers) and as the closet door jerks open she lunges.
He's fast, but not as fast as her, and she slices his cheek before swinging the gun case up and slamming him down. His hair is wild, his eyes more so, and she darts back, slowed by the heavy gun. Door or window? She makes her choice as he lunges with a fist raised, brass knuckles gleaming.
“Not fuckin' today,” she snarls, putting the case between them and swinging hard. It catches him in the gut, and the force pushes him hard into the wall. The benefit of long range weapons, she thinks as she bolts to the window and clatters down the fire escape before launching herself off from a story up and landing on her feet. Her joints ache in protest from the hard landing, but she can hear him following, his screaming curses trailing behind her.
From there, it's instinct.
Two blocks down, turn and bolt for another three. The rev of a massive engine behind her, duck down an alley, through two kitchens that yell but she's already out, dipping her way through back streets and back yards until she's in a small, run down park with two men who look decidedly uninterested in messing with a one eyed woman carrying what's very obviously a rifle and a knife still dripping with blood. Across the park, around a scum covered pond, past four wall eyed ducks, duck into the underbrush, the same color as her hair.
Then she opens the phone, and makes a call.
“Don't fucking say it,” she says without looking. Mason is reeking of judgment. “Not a fucking word.”
“Very well,” Mason says, and Cameron sighs with heaviness of a man who's seen too much shit.
“I want him fucking dead,” she says, her hands starting to turn red from the heat. “Fucking shit, I want him dead, and I want to do it. Put a goddamn knife right through his skull, I- fuck.”
She leans against the sink, letting her hands drip dry once she's turned the faucet off.
“Not yet,” Cameron says, his voice dark. “Give it time.”
“My whole fucking life is waiting,” she snaps, but there's not much force to it. Today was too close, far, far too close, and she was sloppy. Next time she'll be better, and next time, she won't duck into abandoned apartments that she knows he would know about with all of a two minute search for "empty apartments in this building". She'll have to be careful on roof tops now, he must know to look for gun barrels. “What, we're going to turn Lawrence loose on him? Fucking great, I'm sure that'll go well.”
She turns, crossing her arms. Mason looks pensive, Cameron looks haunted.
“We'll get him,” Cameron says, and for once she believes him. “Just not today. Not tomorrow or the next day, but we will.”
“Good,” she says, and picks up the bloody knife still on the table. “But when he dies, I'm taking a fucking gun to him. Shit like that bastard doesn't want to stay dead, and I don't want him to have so much of a spec of brain left in that nasty fuckin' skull of his.”
“I'm certainly not complaining,” Cameron says, leaning back in his chair.
She rinses the knife, watching the blood pool in the sink and turn pale, sickly pink.
“Pity I missed,” she mutters, skin crawling once again at that wild grin. “Should have made him fucking match.”
Another inch, and she could have taken his eye with ease. Shit.
“There's always next time,” Mason says, and she throws the knife at him. He catches it with ease, and hands it back.
“Don't you fucking start,” she hisses, and goes back to cleaning the blade.
“I'm going to call the kid, tell him to come back,” Cameron says, levering himself up out of the chair. “After this, he shouldn't be off on his own. None of us should.”
“Good luck with that,” Mason says smoothly.
The door shuts hard behind him, and she wipes the blade clean. She'll oil and sharpen it best she can later.
“He gets to you,” Mason says abruptly, and she stiffens. “I can understand that. Don't let him.”
“Fuck you,” she mutters, knife tight in her hand. “Leave it alone, Mason. I don't need you trying to rile me up on top of everything else.”
“I wasn't so much trying as succeeding, but very well.” She turns as he stands up, gently adjusting his sleeves. They make eye contact, his usual smile completely gone. “You'll have to tell the boy at some point. Or I will. He can't avoid it, just as you and I can't.”
“You know fuck all about him,” she says, her voice tight with anger.
“I know. And that's while you'll have to do it.” Mason frowns, looking down at the table. “It is... worrying, that he found you so quickly today. I'll be more cautious when I go out with Charlie, and watch for him more closely. If we're being followed, we should know.”
“Whatever.” She goes to the fridge, fetches the beer, and pops the top off. “I'm going to get fucking smashed and forget this day ever happened.”
“Of course,” he says, and quietly leaves the room.
She flips the knife in her hand, feeling the solid weight of it, and breathes.
Today, she lived. And tomorrow, she'll live.
And one of these days, hopefully soon, Bobby will be dead.