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Here's to Forgetting
<small>((Continued from No Rest for the Wicked))</small>

Zoya just drove. She was still trembling in her car. Her hands gripped the wheel tightly and her muscles remained tense. Despite the fact that she’d raced away from the factory for close to twenty minutes, the woman continued to look hesitantly behind her over the rear view mirror. Part of her feared there were more of whatever that thing had been. Maybe it wasn’t dead. Maybe it would get up and find her.

She didn’t know where she was, or where she was going. Zoya had simply started the vehicle and gone. The street she found herself in didn’t seem the most welcoming or reassuring, but at least, ahead of her was the neon flashing light of a bar. A drink sounded good. She needed to steady her nerves and the young woman seriously doubted a book and a cup of tea would do the trick.

Pulling over, she parked her car along the street and stared out her windshield as people went in and out of the door. A few stood outside, smoking to their hearts content. They looked rough. Not the sort of men she’d usually find herself sharing a beer with, but after the night she’d had, they might as well have been kittens; gruff, cancer stick smoking, kittens.

Feeling hot, she rid herself of her scarf and tossed it on the passenger sit next to her before getting out. She was wasting too much time sitting in the car, thinking, when all she really wanted to do was control her nerves and forget the sound and smell of the grotesque creature. She wanted to forget the way its body had moved across the floor behind her… ignore the image of the shining orbs as its neck tilted a few degrees too much…

The door slammed as she closed it. A visible shudder took over her body, but it had nothing to do with the chill in the air. After locking the car for good measure, Zoya pocketed her keys and headed straight for the establishment. She wasn’t dolled up. She still wore the minimal makeup from earlier in the day, and aside from her jacket, she had on a black tank top, and jeans. Her clothes fit her well, however, and some of the men outside watched her as she made her way past them.

Inside, the place was like any other bar. It had music playing in the background and a fair amount of people, none of which looked all too friendly. She walked around some guy that was just turning away from the bar, and sat herself down on a stool. “Give me a shot of tequila… and a beer… whatever is on tap.”

Her first impression of Bar Dzhanki was right. It wasn't the sort of place a woman like her would go. Hell, the neighborhood was the sort her caliber would steer clear of even in the daylight. Which made it the perfect sort of place for Hood when he wanted to blow off a little steam.

He dominated a booth away from the door and sat with one arm across the back of the bench, and a large stein of cheap beer in his hand. The Russian stuff tasted about as bad as could be expected for this sort of dive, but even as watered down as it was, it was still strong.

For Dzhanki, it had been an annoyingly quiet night so far. There was no bouncer; the last two had been stabbed, and the one before that went down to a drug overdose in the middle of his shift, so the manager had just stopped trying. Most fights seemed to sort themselves out before too much damage was done, and fights didn't seem to scare off his clientele anyway.

Seated as he was, he could watch the door and see who came and went, although he had no real interest in anyone there. A few prostitutes had propositioned him and been turned away politely. Tersely, but politely. There were few women there that weren't either 'ladies of the night' or just as rough as the men present.

The door opened and he glanced it's way, and gave the new-comer a long, appreciative moment of his attention. A pretty one, no doubt about it. Dressed against the cold. Functionally to boot. Probably not another hooker. Call girl maybe? Surely too high-end a product to be in a place like Dzhanki.

She seemed focused yet jittery. B-lined straight for the bar and was throwing drinks down range with a gusto usually reserved for someone trying to forget something. Probably learning the hard way not to be in that part of town, no matter what the client is willing to pay. What sort of deviant shit had she experienced?

He chuckled quietly and sipped his beer, his attention slipping back to the room at large. She'd drawn more then a few men's gaze already, and the smarter ones were biding their time, letting those drinks sink in before making their move. A drunk woman was much easier prey, after all.

Eventually someone did make his move; a group of three someones. The men were Russian. Two lanky and thin, a long life of crime and drugs having left them wirey and twitchy. Not ones to be trifled with, but they were what passed as the top-dogs in Dzhanki at the time. Mostly thanks to their third friend, a large man. Steroid user, probably took horse tranqs to put to sleep for all the chemicals the man likely used.

The three crowded in around Zoya at the bar, and their leader, a man with a prodigious spike through his nostrils and no shortage of bad prison tattoos, very calmly laid a hand on her backside and moved to slid it into her back pocket. Not going for a wallet, but a bold and demanding feel.

They smelled about as bad as they looked; unwashed, bad food, terrible breath, drug-rotted teeth. But they were connected; knew people, and some of the other clientele wisely shied away as the three made their interest known in the new girl. She was just what they needed. Prostitution was legal in the CCD, but there were still those niche markets where a gal like her would go for a pretty penny.

"A woman like you only comes slumming in a place like this because she's looking for a good time. We can show you a real party."
His tone was as greasy as his looks; the man was clearly not going to take 'no' for an answer. His two friends leered at her; the three had no trouble sharing new playthings, apparently.
The first shot went down with kick. She followed it with some of the beer the bartender gave her and order a few more, which she promptly downed. As far as Zoya was concerned there was only her, and the drinks. At least that was until she could feel the hairs in the back of her neck stand yet again. She tried to disregard the feeling, ignoring the shapes she could see nearing from the corner of her eyes until something touched her.

The moment the hand was on her she tensed and her back straightened. She chocked on her drink in the process and slammed the glass on the counter as she spun and tried to push the offender away with her free hand.

Zoya might as well have hit a wall. The man didn’t budge much. “You can show me nothing. Get lost creep, and get your fucking hand off me!”

Common sense would have told Zoya that she should have been scared. Except, what she was really scared of made the group of fellows around her look utterly harmless. The alcohol in her system made it difficult to wrap her mind around the fact that, beast or no beast, the men about her were dangerous in their own right.

Since she couldn’t move him, she tried to slip away. At least sliding off the stool was enough to slip free of his damnable grasp. Unfortunately, with the other two so close to her, Zoya wasn’t going to get too far. Frowning, she reached for her unfinished glass, contemplating throwing it at one of their faces if she needed to. Well, at least she thought that could help her get away. Hell, she was more than willing to knee one of them in unpleasant places if she had to.

“Go away,”
she managed while looking around and stretching her neck in order to see past the goons. She was good and buzzed, and that heavy feeling was settling in all over her body. Wasn’t anybody going to do something? At least say something dammit…
The three men laughed at Zoya's demands for them to leave her be, and they gave her a tiny circle of space to stand in when she abandoned her stool. The big man laughed as she tried to push him and reached out to swat her hand away, grinning down at her. "You think we were offering, girl. We are not."

The three laughed again, and the man with the spike through his nostrils reached to grab her forearm. His grip would not be gentle. "We're bored. You're obviously done work for the night. You're going to keep us entertained."

They too thought the what Hood thought. That she was a call girl, who had had a particularly bad shift to see her in such a dive bar drinking heavily. It also meant she wouldn't care all that much to tack on a few hours pro-bono. Which would, of course, lead to a whole new life for her. Heroin addiction was a powerful thing, after all.

Hood sipped his shit beer and watched, more out of boredom then any real interest. Sure, she was good looking, but he wasn't interested in the type of woman you could just pay for their company.

No one else seemed terribly inclined to get involved either; it just wasn't the sort of place where people got involved in the problems of others. More the sort of crowd that created problems.

Hood downed the last of his beer and stood, eyeing the bar and the ongoing confrontation there. A glance at his empty stein decided the matter for him, and he started across the room towards them.
Well, that kind of hurt.

His meaty fingers wrapped around her arm and held on tight; too tight, if you asked her.

Zoya looked down at his grip while the man talked. Really, the guy wasn’t making much sense. It also didn’t help that her mind was rather foggy. Blissfully foggy. A wrinkle formed between her brows while she thought about his words. Bored? Done with work? Keep them entertained? That last one didn’t sound good to her at all.

She tried to pull free but that wasn’t working at all. The way the three men drew closer to her made Zoya feel rather claustrophobic, and their laughter didn’t reassure her. A corner of her mouth lifted as she looked up at big-n-bulky. “Go play darts or something, and get your fucking hand off me.”
With the man-curtain in front of her, she couldn’t see the fourth fellow that was approaching. So, in the hopes of ridding herself of the trio of creeps, grin still firmly in place, she flung the contents of her unfinished drink at the big guy’s face.

Serves him right!
The large man let out an angry sputtering as the drink splashed in his face, but he did let go of Zoya in the process; or more accurately, jerked her arm to the side to unbalance her, before bringing sausage-thick fingers to his face to get the burning alcohol out of his eyes. "Fucking bitch!"

The nose-spiked fellow grabbed for her hair, intending to get a solid fistful of her silken brown locks, and his other hand came up as if to slap her once he had her head pinned in place, but that arm was stopped rather suddenly.

Hood's approach to the bar brought him close enough that when Zoya had thrown her drink at the larger man, a few drops had sailed past and landed on himself. He'd paused briefly, looking where the alcohol had darkened his shirt sleeve, then glanced irritably at the altercation. He wasn't likely to be finding a good fight that night anyway, and now he was clearly involved.

He left the big guy for the moment to sort himself out, and snatched the nose-spiked fellow's raised arm at the wrist, pinching his forearm tightly and twisting the arm around, forcing the man to let go of Zoya's hair and stand on his tip-toes in an attempt to lighten the pressure on his arm and elbow. "What the fuck do you think...?!"

The man turned his gaze from Zoya to Hood, and was met with Hood's less then pleasant smile as his other hand snapped forwards. Spike-nose's eyes closed instinctively, expecting to be punched in the face, but it quickly turned to a scream of pain as Hood calmly grabbed the nostril-spike between two fingers and hauled the man away from Zoya. He had little choice but to comply, staggering forward to follow Hood's grip, his pinned arm let loose to flap awkwardly in his staggering.

There was a moment where Hood honestly contemplated ripping the retarded piercing out of the weaselly bastard's face, but figured the bar had enough questionable stains on the floor. Instead, he jerked nostril-spike into the edge of a table, grabbed him by the belt and hurled him over and away from Zoya, before turning to face the big-man and the other drug-wasted punk.

The second bone-thin one had whipped out a knife and lunged at Hood with it with an arrogant snarl. Hood grabbed the extended wrist, side-stepped, slapped the man's elbow to bend the arm, twisted the wrist, drove his thumb into the back of the knife-man's hand, grinding it between thumb and forefinger, and gave it a final twist, dislocating the thumb. He squealed in pain and dropped the knife, then was tossed aside and into the bar near where Zoya stood, staggering into it face first.

By then, the big man had cleared his eyes and took stock of the situation, his gaze settling on Hood in surprise. The big guy probably had a good fifty pounds on Hood, and a few inches, but where the big guy was all steroid-fueled muscle, Hood's build was solid, natural, and the result of hard work.

"Who the fuck do you think you are?"
The big man stepped into Hood's personal space, pressing an over-developed barrel-chest into Hood's solid build.

Hood smiled a cold; a cold, predatory sort of smile, and peered up at the taller man. "Mr White."
He tapped something against the larger man's thigh, and the big fellow's eyes narrowed and he edged back slightly to glance down, only to find his friend's knife in Hood's hand, pressed blade first against the tendon of the big man's inner thigh. And his eyes went to saucers very quickly.

"Whoa, whoa whoa...okay. Leaving."
The big man raised his hands disarmingly and carefully edged back. He quickly collected the two 'brains' of their little operation and the three made their departure.

Hood gave the knife a dismissively look, tossed it a few times in his hand, twirling and working the blade with practiced ease, then let out a disgusted grunt and stabbed it into the bar-top next to Zoya. "You plan on having another drink, you're sitting at my table, kid."

He collected his stein from an adjacent table, the occupants of which made a strong effort to not be noticed by Hood, then tapped it on the bar and glanced at the tender, who quickly put it to the tap and filled it up.

Edited by Hood, Jun 22 2014, 11:32 PM.
Things seemed to happen very quickly. One moment she was flinging her drink at the brute, then next, all hell broke loose. The spike of satisfaction she felt at having splashed the man’s face was short lived. Zoya stumbled as he jerked her aside. For a second, she thought that would be her chance to run, but as she moved, something pulled at her hair.

Then non-too-gentle grip made her cry out in surprise. She was already bracing herself for something else when she was suddenly let go. The woman whirled around to see what was happening and noticed the fourth man for the first time. Whoever he was, it sure took him a while to step in. In any case, she was glad he was there at all. To her, it seemed as if men flew in all directions.

The whole debacle was quickly killing her buzz and she wasn’t liking it. But, as the new comer did away with her attackers, Zoya had no choice but to observe and stay as much out of the way as possible. This included jumping off to the side when one of the guys was thrown first into the bar in order to avoid both him and a stool. Part of her couldn’t help but feel sorry for the jerk. The whole thing had looked like it hurt.

Eyes wide, her gaze shifted from big-n-bulky back to the new comer and froze. Something told her this new guy wouldn’t hesitate slicing big ugly if he had too. Fortunately, that didn’t end up being the case. Watching in disbelief as the three men left, Zoya was startled when Mr. White, as he called himself, grunted and jabbed the knife onto the bar.


The remaining patrons looked uneasy around this White. Who could blame them? He had single handedly come to her rescue and fended off three bullies. Where the hell had she ended up?? Where was he when the thing was chasing after her???

That thought reminded her of her evening and her stomach tightened once more. Perfect.

“I plan on having many drinks…”
she called for the bar tender to get her a couple of shots, then moved to lean a little against the bar making no pretense to hide the fact that she was studying his face closely. If he was calling her kid, then there had to be a few wrinkles there somewhere.

“Um… thank you…”

"Don't mention it."
His tone was dry; he wasn't simply being modest. The entire incident didn't seem to be noteworthy to him. Hood took his beer and left the money on the bar, and kicked aside one of the stools that had been knocked over when he'd planted the greasy bastard face-first into the bar front. Path cleared, he made his way back towards his table, although he did pause long enough for her to catch up first. She probably wasn't going to run into any more trouble in the bar, but more then anything, he wanted to rub in with the rest of the shits in the place that the prettiest girl there was sitting with him.

Maybe one of them had the balls to start something still. Probably not.

Hood probably only had ten, fifteen years on her, tops, but he had had a hard life. He was still handsome, but with a weight of years about him beyond what his actual physical age should have warranted. Refined wrinkles, a near total lack of laugh lines though, weathered face and cold eyes. He wasn't a man of vibrancy and a wide range of emotions, it seemed.

But for all that, he was probably the safest one to be around in the bar. Asides from when she first entered, he hadn't checked her out. Rescuing her had been more of an afterthought than any attempt to play the knight in shining armour.

His booth was still empty when he got back, and he waved for her to slide into the booth first. He'd sit with his back to the wall, facing the room, and seemed to expect the same sentiment out of her, although she was free to sit on the outside of the table, back to the room.

"Rough night kid? Client cross the line?"
His tone was matter-of-fact. She had all the fire and brim-stone of an angry call-girl. They were a ferocious sort when they needed to be, after all.
Zoya watched White straighten out the stool and make his way back to his booth. Realizing that she probably could have done that herself instead of studying his face, she grabbed her shots and hurriedly told the bar tender to add it to her tab. Following the man to the booth seemed like the safest thing for her to do after that little fiasco he’d just saved her ass from, so she took her drinks with her and walked after him.

He gestured for her to get in the booth and she did as much. Having her back against the safety of a wall seemed like a much better alternative to having someone else come and grab her bottom. Zoya knew just how her body looked, but that didn’t mean she wanted every imbecile in the bar to test just how firm her backside was.

This guy wasn’t a bad looking man at all. He was tough. Even if she had not witnessed it first hand, Zoya would have been able to tell not to push his buttons too far. Handsome and gruff enough to be a very alluring combination for some women, she couldn’t deny that he was attractive, but she couldn’t help wondering if he ever smiled. White was definitely older than her, but not sufficiently so as to keep calling her kid.

Two seconds later, and the puzzled look that his question had created turned into one of utter shock. What big ugly had said sunk in and was finally made pretty clear. They, White included, seemed to think she was a hooker! She took one of the tequila shots and downed it. The drink went down much more smoothly than earlier in the evening.

As she settled the small glass back on the table, she started to laugh softly. “Rough, yes, but you are mistaken. I don’t do clients.”
She emphasized the word so as to make her point clear. “Is every girl that walks in here expected to be… to have clients?”
Once she sat, Hood slid into the booth with her, although his lack of interest likely became evident for the space between them. She was his type, he couldn't deny that; fiery, had a back bone, probably not a total air-head, but she was also racing to be three sheets to the wind. Tanked. Full on looser pissed. Drunk girls were no fun; he wasn't interested in the chase, and equally uninterested in an easy catch. Better that they decided consciously and clearly to go home with him.

He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, never quite turning his attention away from the room, and let out a bark of laughter as realization finally dawned on her. "Yes. Every last fucking one of them. Or they're full raging bull-dyke bikers."
He jerked his head towards a few very large women that seemed to fit in well in the bar's environment. They weren't bikers; the season was all wrong, but they were mannishly large and just as violent seeming as their male counter parts. He hoisted his stein their way and was met with, while not friendly, at least familiar, acknowledgement.

"So you aren't a hooker. Or some high-class escort. What the fuck are you doing on this side of town? You're Russian. Either you chose to come down here, or you had a right shit day."
He wasn't exactly interested, but they were sharing a booth and he wasn't going to make any of the others jealous if he didn't at least seem interested in her. He was still itching to blow some steam. He'd been sitting idle for too long.

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