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A quiet night in
Continued from Let the show begin

Hood hadn't dallied in that shit club for long. After Jaxxen left, Hood excused himself from the ladies and took his leave. The music was garbage, the atmosphere brutally shallow, and the company entirely boring. Not the sort of place where a good brawl was likely to break out, and the only enjoyable about one happening in a place like that was watching all the rich boys try to fight. Oh sure, most of them claimed to practice some sort of martial art, but none had actually thrown a punch in anger before, and it always turned into some pansy hair-pulling homo-erotic roll-about on the floor.

The transition from shit-club to his place was a quiet one. He didn't bother with a driver to take him back, relying instead on the metro, holding some hope that some shitbird would try jacking his wallet or mugging him. But he got none of that, just an awkward conversation with an old woman rambling on about the good old days. Not a bad conversation really, and Hood put on his 'charming' face for it. No reason to be mean to a crazy old lady, right?

It took a few hours to get back, but it was still easier then trying to drive from the heart of Moscow to the outer slums. Traffic was always thick in Moscow. He did his usual circuit, walking the perimeter of his place, making sure there was no obvious signs of recent activity, then a similar circuit inside. The three dogs were present as usual, huddled under the front porch and away from the cold. They were out of the wind, and it was a fairly tight space, so they were well insulated enough to survive the night without too much gripe.

Like was proper, Hood discarded his suit and saw it properly hung. A solid half hour was spent just making sure it was free of debris, stains, and wrinkles before it was set into it's suit-bag, ready to be carted off to the dry cleaners the next day, leaving him in a pair of sweatpants and little else.

The accommodations were kept cold; Hood could easily stomach a chill room, and there was no point in jacking up the heating bill. He hadn't made any major changes with the place now that the renovations were complete. The smell of fresh paint had faded, replaced with that of gun oil and a general sense of clean. The place was spotless, kept neat and tidy and hardly a speck of dust to be found. He wasn't the sort to sit idle, after all.

By then, Jaxen was either in a shall grave or had made good his escape. The man was a slimy one, and had someone survived as long as he had less from personal skill and more for luck and opportunity. Hood could attest to that luck, considering the last time he had met the man had been in the undercity, on the menu for some Rougarou.

Or, maybe they had come to realize that not everything the Atharim said was evil was actually evil. The man was greasy, sure, but about as harmless as any other spoiled rich kid. He somehow doubted they had come to that conclusion though. He had no trouble killing folks, he just generally preferred a good reason. Like they were trying to kill him, or were at the least dangerous. Wasn't any fun otherwise. Some folks out there considered humans the ultimate prey, but Hood considered them not worth the effort.

He walked barefoot into the chill night with some leftovers and a bowl of water, which were stuffed under the porch for the fleabags. The water would be frozen by morning, but they'd be able to get their fill before then.

Then he just stood on his porch, nothing but sweat pants and a cigar, puffing away and surveying the dark neighborhood around him. He made a point of not smoking inside; it was just bad manners, even in one's own home.

His phone, not a Wallet but an actual dedicated cellphone (outdated, but harder to track then a Wallet, and cheaper to toss and replace), disturbed his moment of calm and he dug it out of the pocket of his sweats, glancing at the unregistered number code before answering. The news was less then pleasing. It was all code of course, but the gist of it was a hunter was wounded. And if the voice was that Seth fellow, it probably meant that Rune was the one that was hurt.

He'd have the place ready for them when they arrived. A few more puffs of his cigar and he scowled in annoyance before extinguishing it on the rail of the deck. A perfectly good way to ruin a very excellent cigar. He brushed the ash away so it wouldn't stain the wood, then moved inside, where he began readying what he'd need to patch her up.

Edited by Hood, Jun 30 2014, 06:38 PM.
The familiar crunch of White's driveway rolled beneath the van. Rune grumbled again, but with less coherency than before.

"Uncle Seth, I don't feel so good."

His twisted up in a frown. "I bet you don't. But buck up girl. You've had worse."

It's true, she thought, and grit down to bear it. - both White's disappointment and the pain. She'd rather take the pain.

The heavy van door slid open and Seth was lifting her. "Damn girl you're getting heavy."
He groaned when he lifted her.

Rune drew in a sharp, pained breath as she held her stomach like she were keeping her guts from falling out. "You're getting old."
She managed. She might be bleeding, but might as well keep a sense of humor.

She closed her eyes. She'd stopped crying some time ago, no longer feeling the need nor fear to keep it up. But waterproof eyeliner stayed unsmudged. She couldn't say the same for her smokey eyeshadow. She also didn't care. She liked makeup because it was pretty, not to impress a MF'er like White.

Two other Atharim on the team made it to his door before she and Seth. The first kept a lookout while the second knocked on the sea-can door.

Seth labored her up the porch and Rune braced herself for white's inevitable punch to her ego. He'd likely beat it bloody, but Rune held to herself. How was she to know an invisible ninja was going to appear right in front of her? To save a god of all things?

Luckily the hour was late, so the arrival of three large mysterious looking men carrying a wounded girl to his door went, for the most part, unnoticed by his neighbors. And the few that might have seen it, were the sort that weren't going to mention it to anyone.

Hood opened the door, revealing the main room sporting a few minor changes. Sheets of plastic covered the floor around the only table, which sported a thick layer of blankets that were in turn covered with more plastic; no point letting them get stained with blood, after all. The heat had been turned up too; near cranked, and the room was uncomfortably warm for most. And probably just right for a tiny shrimp of a girl missing a pint or two of blood.

He'd raided his supplies; bags of plasma sat ready to be used, a tray of surgical tools. None of the fancy gizmos or technologies of a modern hospital, it was all the sort of stuff you'd expect in some beleaguered military field hospital. No monitors, no computers, but there were anesthetics at least. The girl wouldn't need to be conscious for what was about to happen. He was about to blow a small fortune of hard-to-replace supplies on the girl.

"Table, now. Who's assisting?"
He'd keep one of the Atharim with him, and expect the other to keep Seth out of his way. His tone was no-nonsense, but then again, when wasn't it? He touched the back of his hand to Rune's forehead as Seth carried her in, muttered something about 'too much damn makeup' when he tried pinching her cheek to see how pallid and bloodless it was, then went to work without any further conversation.

Hood knew a thing or two about patching people up, and doing it the 'old fashioned way'. It was a must for a guy of his background. Wandering around some backwater shithole in Africa, you needed to be able to fend for yourself and your team. Sure he hadn't been the best field surgeon of the group, but he knew enough to patch up a knife wound. Even one as dangerous as a gut wound. Sure the technique was dark-ages in comparison to what one could get in a hospital, but the drugs, the disinfectants and such he employed, were modern stuff.

The surgery too the better part of two hours, with Hood and his assistant hovering over Rune. Empty plasma bags were tossed aside, and by the end of it it was readily evident why he had laid down plastic sheets. Eventually though, the wound was stitched shut, as tightly and cleanly as he could, but there would still be a scar. Which was too bad; the girl might not be as interested in wearing certain types of tops because of it.

When Rune woke next, she would be bundled up under the blankets on a cot in the guest room, an IV poked into her arm and a slowly fading dose of anesthetics wearing off. The sun was up, and the door to the rest of the house was open. She'd been out for the better part of a day; the sun was setting, not rising, so most of her team had left already, tasked to trying to figure out what had happened with Jaxen, where he had gone.

Hood was in the kitchen, easily seen through the open door, once again in nothing but sweat pants, and was giving the tools from the night's surgery a second cleaning before returning them to vacuum sealed plastic bags, and speaking over the phone with one of his suppliers, debating the price on the supplies he would need to replace from having to patch Rune back together again.
After it was clear that Rune was going to be okay, Seth trucked back out into the night with another hunter. They were going to go back to the park to look for clues as to what happened. Rune had been wearing a camera, but the view was blocked and didn’t show anything useful. There was also the issue of dealing with Jaxen’s car. Since Rune wasn’t able to drive it away like they planned, then it was up to the boys to get it hauled off somewhere. No doubt all the fancy GPS and tracking systems on it needed to be wiped, and even if the data was stored in the cloud, the car wasn’t going to last five minutes in certain parts of town.


Rune stirred and rubbed gunk out of the corners of her eyes. Her belly ached and her head was foggy from the drugs, but she tugged up her shirt anyway. Black knots were poked in her skin. Tight stitches held her together. The wound was clean, otherwise.

She plopped her head back like she might go back to sleep, but the hunger pangs were too distracting.

Eyes open, red bangs flopped on the pillow, she peered around her. It was White’s trailer, alright. She’d recognize the room anywhere.

She really, really hoped he was gone for the day when she pushed herself to her feet and immediately went light-headed. The wound and the hunger pangs throbbed together until she couldn’t tell which was worse.

By way of a mirror to make sure her makeup wasn’t run rainbows all over her face, she dragged herself out, what was left of her “entice-Jaxen-party-wear” attire was bloodied, ripped, snagged and otherwise made her feel like a plum idiot. She’d give anything to trade it in for good work-pants and a tank top.

White was in the kitchen; shirt-off. Of. Freakin.’ Course. She watched the way the ridges in his back moved with his arms. The way the waistband sat snug around his hips. Ewe! What was she doing?!? He was like Uncle Seth’s age! Maybe she missed some gunk in her eye? She shook herself out of it and hoped to God that Uncle Seth wasn’t here to see her gawk.

She should say thanks, or something, but the words just didn’t come out. What do you say to the guy that sewed up an unwanted belly-button and who was otherwise going to tell you how much of an awful Atharim you were to get yourself hurt like that? What exactly do you say when his good-for-nothing, cold-as-ice, deceptively-unnerving stare crushed your soul when a simple compliment would sustain you for thirty or forty years?

Nothing. You keep your pie hole shut and say nothing. She finally piped up. “Hey. Got anything to eat?”
She said and held onto the doorframe while she said it. Actually, the doorframe was the one holding her up.
Hood heard her on the move, but unless she seemed in distress, he wasn't going to go out of his way to acknowledge her. He'd trust, for the moment at least, that she wouldn't push herself too hard. She made it to the kitchen and lingered for a time, probably trying to get her bearings, catch her breath and fight off the sluggishness of all the expensive drugs he had pumped into her in the past twenty-some hours.

The last of the scalpels and tools were cleaned and bagged, the small vacuum-sealer whirring to life one last time to suck the air out of and heat-seal the last of the pouches, then he turned on the sink faucet and cleaned his hands off with a liberal squirt of hand sanitizer.

He glanced at her and gave her a once over, mostly to make sure she wasn't about to keel over on him, and eyed the wound. No signs of infection or swelling; that was good. And no signs of fever either. So, hopefully, he hadn't missed anything in there. The girl was tiny, didn't leave a lot of room to work with.

"Mornin', sleeping beauty."
It was more tease then compliment; a result of her makeup and choice of clothes. He pulled a blender down from one of the shelves and plugged it in after indicating for her to take a seat at the table, then went to work making her a nice, digestion light smoothie. Fruits and vegetables, both for the nutrition and the fiber. A quick glance in the freezer saw it freshly stocked with lean meats; fish and chicken mostly. The cupboard the blender came from was full of whole grain cereals.

He added a bit of heavy cream to the blender, but it was mostly water; hydration was important, but milk and dairy could lead to constipation issues, and considering where she had been stabbed, there was no point in aggravating her intestines just yet. He held the button down for longer then might have been strictly necessary, making sure there were no large bits of solid food left, then poured a portion of the contents into a large mug.

The rest was poured into a sealed container and set in the fridge for later. The was clean; there wasn't a hint of evidence left from the previous night. The place smelled freshly cleaned, to the point that the trace of gun oil was barely noticeable now, and the scent of freshly blended fruit. The cup was set in front of her and he returned to the kitchen to clean up.

"At least you read the files I gave you. The man has a weak spot for pretty girls. Learned something useful out of all this shit, too. They can vanish. And unless they can summon Ninja now, I don't think Jaxen knew whoever attacked you."
Could have been an insurance policy the man's father had put in place, a skilled body guard watching over his son. But Hood doubted that; Jaxen's father didn't seem the type to watch over the wayward son.

The kitchen was tidied up in short order, and he grabbed two glasses of water and set them on the table, then sat opposite her, "So. What the fuck happened, kid? Figured looking like that, you'd have Jaxen in the bag."

Edited by Hood, Jul 1 2014, 04:52 PM.
Rune very quickly regretted it when she plopped too hard into a seat. She thought she was being careful but it seemed any movement more rigorous than breathing was too much for the wound.

She held her forehead in her hands. Her head was full of bricks that her neck couldn't support. Maybe it was a bad idea to get up anyway. But the prospect of breakfast kept her there. She did note the horrid lack of real food in White's cabinets though. With the blender going he couldn't have heard her grumble about it though.

She eyed the chalky glop when he handed it to her. The tiniest wrinkle to her nose was apprehensive, and she took only an exploratory sip at first. "I think you forgot the bacon,"
she said and took a bigger swallow. She hadn't realized how thirsty she was until the ice cold smoothie hit the back of her throat.

She was quiet while he tidied. Mostly because she was busying herself with the baconless smoothie. It seemed like they were alone and she wondered where the team went. Were they still out looking for Jaxen? Had Regus summoned them back? Ugh, her head hurt.

White's question made her look up and then promptly back down again. She felt ridiculous in these clothes. But asking to borrow something of White's made her cringe just to think about it. What was she gonna do? Walk around in one if his tshirts like a lover in a Soap the morning-after?

She snorted the first semblance of a laugh. It immediately made her grimace. "You callin' me pretty?"
She didn't buy it.

"I did have him in the bag."
She started, but there was hesitation in her voice just as much as when she hesitated pulling the trigger. "But, I, uh.."
She didn't finish. Instead she toyed with the cup.

"No bacon for you yet. Few days of this gruel first."
She would be getting most of her protein from sources other then meat; it was heavy and hard to digest when in a weakened state. Not that it would stop him from having all the steak and bacon he pleased while she was stuck in his care, but that was just a given.

He watched her mope over her smoothie, struggling to answer a simple question. Had she frozen? Did the idea of icing an innocent idiot not sit well with her? He had hoped, being American, that she wasn't as mindlessly indoctrinated as the Atharim he had worked with in the former Middle East and Russia. There were fleeting glimpses of a brain under all that hair dye and makeup, but she seemed hell-bent to not let it through most of the time.

It annoyed him to no ends that she had tried to kill him, but her reasoning had been good. She thought he wasn't human, and hadn't simply trusted her higher-ups to know what was what. Good thinking, poor execution. But then she was willing to get herself killed trying to off Jaxen. And botched it. "But you froze? Hesitated? Actually thought about what you were about to do? Doesn't seem all that dangerous, does he? Oh he can be with the right motivation, I've no doubt of that. Anyone can be. But he's a playboy, and a thief, and not as good at either as he seems to think."

"Pretty enough to take one of the city's richest playboys off guard. Now if you didn't look like a E-addled rave nut..."
He stood and crossed towards the door, where he grabbed a dufflebag, which was tossed onto the table in front of her on his return to his seat. It contained clothes and underwear that would probably fit her, but were decidedly not her usual style. Second hand stuff, the lot of it, and not nearly as colourfull or extreme as she might have liked. But it would be comfortable; sweat pants and hoodies, stuff she could bundle herself up in while she recovered.

"Had to cop a feel to guess your bra size."
He was joking, teasing her; the underwear were an educated guess, and blessedly not second hand.
Rune looked up at Hood with that OH! COME ON! shocked expression. No bacon!? Didn't White understand that bacon was one of the food groups! Frozen bacon? microwaved bacon? canned bacon? Bacon fat? Bacon candy? Bacon bacon bacon.

She blinked and slurped down the rest of the smoothie. Her tummy felt full and bloated afterward, and she regretted having slurped it all down so fast.

"Gods are dangerous."
She said into the empty cup like she were trying to convince herself. "But he didn't smell bad. He didn't smell like anything. Not even so much as having punched a guy's lights out. Only thing I smelled on him was vodka."
She sighed and rolled her eyes upward to follow White as he rounded the room. "I can smell violence on people. It follows them like a fog of bad cologne. You reek of it, you know."
Her cheeks flushed momentarily green, sick, but all that escaped her tummy was a sound burp. She'd gotten used to how bad White smelled. At least today it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

He tossed her some clothes that smelled vaguely like bleach water. She hoped that meant they were clean. The sweat pants had a logo on the butt of a poodle and tiny round dots that probably once were stuck with rhinestones. She set them aside and checked out the hoodie. It had a faded anime princess printed on it. Rune shrugged and twisted around and changed right there. Though she did keep her back to White while she did. "Yah. Cause right bra size is so vital to proper sweatshirt wear, huh."
She spit back her own retort, and silently prayed he had done no such thing. She'd have to kill him for real if he had. "But for future reference, i'm a medium. Never worn anything but sports bras ever."
She shrugged. The idea of walking through racks and racks of the real thing made her shiver. She had no idea what to get even if she wanted and like hell if she was going to watch how-to videos on that kind of thing.

She peeked over her shoulder to see if he was occupied with something else and gently peeled off her top; true to the previous statement, her back was bare of all straps, but did flex and crease with workable muscle when she moved. Sports bras just didn't go with the kind of thing she wore last night.

She dumped the top on the floor afterward. For the bottoms she wiggled into the pants and pulled them up beneath the miniskirt as she did. It pushed up to her waist and she intended to pull it down back over the pants, but it was too gosh darn tight. So she just ripped the shoddily held together seam and dumped it with the other piece of trash on the floor. The underwear she'd put on later; its not like she had to change out of a present pair -- she wasn't wearing any. (Cause the lines woulda shown through the skirt and she didn't own any stringy thongs! Why the hell would she own a thong anyway!)

With the excuse of pulling the hood up over her head, she peeked back over her shoulder.

"Uncle Seth say when he was coming back?"
She turned gently in the chair wishing her stomach didn't hurt so bad that she could pull her legs up. "I hope he found----OMG!"
she cut herself off, eyes flashed wide and heart pounding.

She gasped. He was all alone and probably hungry!

"I have to call Uncle Seth and tell him to feed my hoglet. Do you got a phone I can use?"
Hood stared at her for a long moment as she spoke about how he smelled. He pondered the ramifications of this scent she could...well, smell. And how that could apply to him. She could smell violence. She'd mentioned something to the same effect during all that ridiculousness about that damn Rougarou, but he hadn't really given it much thought. After a moment he grinned, finding the concept far too amusing. "Fuck kid, I really must reek."

She pawed through the bag of clothes, and he offered an over-exaggerated shrug. "With all that time you spend on your fucking makeup and clothes, figured you were one for only the most ridiculous of frilly bras and panties. Fuck, probably Hello Kitty and all that crap. I'll keep that in mind for Christmas. Guess that's coming up soon. Big bag of only the finest Victoria Secret sports bras and grandma panties."

She turned her back to him and started stripping down out of her hooker-gear in favour of the far more practical stuff he had picked up for her. He dallied a moment just to amp up her discomfort; for a girl that went around dressing like a hooker and wearing enough makeup to coat an elephant, she seemed a very strange mix of boldness and shyness around men. He had noticed her staring at him before.

At least she had a good build on her; she was small, but she had a solid build about her tiny frame. She was pretty easy on the eye. Before she could glance back at him again, he stood from the table and returned to the kitchen, pausing to turn the thermostat down slightly now that she was properly dressed, then pulled two bottles of beer from the fridge.

By the time he got back to the table, she had finished changing, and he set a bottle of beer in front of her. It was, of course, near-beer. She couldn't be having any alcohol on her meds. He didn't get to sit before her sudden outburst, and he just stared at her as she flew into a mad panic. About a hoglet, apparently. Whatever the hell that was.

He pulled his old cellphone from the pocket of his sweatpants and tossed it on the table next to her near-beer, "Knock yourself out. And no, didn't mention anything. He was a bit distracted. You know, what with you being a few pints shy."
Rune almost laughed out loud. Scratch that. She was laughing out loud! "Frilly bras and panties!!"
She laughed so hard her stomach ached something wicket! Oh that White. He was a killer. She wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes.

She snatched the phone and dialed Uncle Seth's number. While it was ringing, she angled it away from her mouth and asked White another question. "What's Victoria Secret?"

It went to voicemail. Rune rolled her eyes. "Hey you old man, can you feed Harry for me? I'd feed him, but White won't let me go no where. Hey you could bring Harry over here. And make sure you hold him and make sure his little ball is still in his box with him. And give him a cricket to eat on. Ok, thats all. Bye."

She hung up and pushed the phone back. "Harry's my hedgehog. Harry the hedgehog. Get it?"
She made a prickly gesture with her fingers.

"Never had a pet before. I almost forgot about him. Probably the reason why I've never had a pet. Always wanted something to pet on and stuff, but we just didn't have the right kind of life to care for an animal proper, you know. What about you? Did you have pets and stuff as a kid? Assuming you were a kid once and just didn't pop up out of the ground like daisies in the snow."


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