Final Orders


ethan2_icon.gif wu-long_icon.gif

Scene Title Final Orders
Synopsis 'Good to see you.'
Date January 15, 2009

Somewhere In Manhattan

Sympathetic weather is a thing for protagonists. The sky that hangs over Manhattan tonight is cloyed with clouds racing along the evening sky flogged forward by frost-spurred winds. It isn't the kind of weather that means a damn thing: the absence of the sun makes it too dark already to be foreboding, so it merely squats over the island, this swathe of fleet-footed humidity, covering the ground with ice and the ice with a slippery film of water just this side of acid and that side of toxic.

There is a man walking out of a bar. His step is sure despite his breath condensing white, regular in front of him. He moves with the confidence of a creature who was born knowing on some fundamental talent that his fists are harder than the wood and stone he was eventually taught to punch them through, and the audacity of a killer whom the daytime world and its bright-eyed cameras and panic-pitched sirens never quite saw for what he was, despite the infinite variety of deaths he left in his wake and the lesser sinners he framed and flung down behind him.

It's funny. Deckard has to hide. The man who committed his crime is lighting up a cigarette and brushing ashes from the leather of his coat.

And in the same moment that Wu-Long lights up his cigarette, a twin flame lights up across the street. Slowly burning at the cigarette, the lighter is quickly put away in the depths of the brown leather jacket. Sitting languidly on a black vehicle, a man watches the other leave the establishment. He wasn't born knowing he could punch through rocks, things just happened, and one day he found himself following a mass murderer. And now he's on the hood of a car, his arms folded over his chest as he puffs on a cigarette.

His eyes rest on Wu-Long as the man comes out. He sits there, as if not even recognizing the man. He's blankly staring. The man people would call the Wolf seems to be lost in thought.

Not a strange place to find the Wolf in. Lost in thought, that is. Not lost in the Bronx, so the Dragon sincerely doubts that the latter is true. He doesn't hasten over immediately. Takes a drag or three of his cigarette, the grip or two of his callused fingers bare and callused-brown in stark dark bars against the bone-white cylinder. He has money enough to make room for a little bit of waste, though. Not near finished with the cancer stick, he discards it to the pavement beside him, where it joins the dust and bones of kindred and ancestors smeared out by hundreds of pedestrian feet.

He's at the car in a moment, with a flare of trenchcoat settling leathery around his legs and an errant curl across his cheek the only disturbance to his form to betray that he'd exerted himself for speed. His eyes are too dark to show Ethan his own reflection, but the cherry of the younger man's cigarette centers his pupils as if he had fire there instead of the photosensitive aperture. They've been following mass-murderers their entire lives. Wu-Long knows better than to think he can change. "I hope I did not blow your cover," he notes, glancing up the street, then down.

Pulling away his own cigarette, the man's eyes rip over to the man who blinks up next to him. His brows arch for a moment, instinctively leaning back for a moment. He tilts his head at the Dragon, placing the cigarette back in his mouth. After staring at the asian man for a moment, finally something flares up in his eyes. "Ah."

He gives a shrug of his shoulders, seemingly not in the mood to talk. Though his demeanor shifts slightly, his free hand lowering to his leg. He gives an acknowledging nod to the other, but no more.

For lack of a rebuke or any real explanation for the man's lengthy absence, Wu-Long— holds his peace. He is good at that, ironically enough. Accepts this with no more objection than a brief show of strong white teeth, somewhere between a grin at the younger man's eccentricity or a grimace in sympathy for his disquiet.

His weight oscillates gently to his left, an elbow and hip resting against the parking meter as he sweeps the peeling faces and bleary-eyed windows of the bars and diners opposite. He sees nothing that surprises him. Unbidden, his hand stirs to the phone in his pocket, an idle thought, a practical reminder. No: he'd sent Ethan that message before. Feels no particular compulsion to check with the man that he had received it. Of course, Wu-Long being Wu-Long, he rarely feels anything in particular at all.

The whiter of the two, lets out a puff, his eyes roaming the other man intently for a moment. A long moment of silence passes while he just watches Wu-Long. And finally the long moment passes only to give birth to another long moment of silence.

Sliding off the hood and onto the ground, he straightens his jacket, rolling his neck along his shoulders for a moment. The cigarette is gripped by a pair of fingers then flicked easily into the street. He then goes to look at Wu-Long once again, a look that simply says. 'What?'

Nothing. Or else, Wu-Long forgot. His face is empty and he says nothing for a long moment, and the wind seems louder where it touches him, the secondhand voice of a void. His jaw clicks shut and he inhales, once, the sniff of a dog dismissing something wet and unimportant. He shakes his head slightly. Nothing. Of the phone, anyway. The shapeshifter can wait: the luxury of associating with mercenaries is the rate of pay by time and the limitations of practical purpose. It's business and nothing more.

But these soldiers have known each other too long for that.

"Do you love Odessa Knutson?" The query follows on nothing in particular and doesn't particularly insist on leading into anything more, by the level of his tone.

If initial facial expressions could talk, this one would say: 'Oh God.' But it is not vocalized as the man stares at Wu-Long for a prolonged moment. He makes no move, makes no effort to speak, just watches the other man. Finally he clears his throat, as if fully preparing himself to speak. But the actual practice does not last longer than the preparation.

"Do you?"

"Not as much as you do, I think," Wu-Long answers, amiably enough. His shoulders stretch backward around a lazily oblique angle, his shoulderblades seguing toward each other underneath the panel of leather that armors him from the cold. His assurance comes across as dryly good-humored as the skin of his brow tends to be. Never let them see you sweat. Most fighters take decades to learn to hide their tells. "You don't have any hair for me to pull anyway."

A little hmph is given in response to the first question the man straightening his stance, watching the other man intently. His brows crease at the last comment, the man looking genuinely confused for a moment before finally conceding. "What?"

However intent the scrutiny, Wu-Long's face betrays nothing to it. He is looking between the street and the car that the other man is perched on in pleasant dispassion, which may or may not be entirely at odds with the topic he's selected out of the hat. "No fighting," he says, his lazy grammar framed by the distinct influence of Mandarin that always follows his voice around. "I'm not trying to pick a fight. She wants to run away from Kazimir. He's threatening to kill her if she can not make his impossible deadline. She wants someone to run with her."

Ethan gives a little nod, taking a step back to lean against the vehicle. Bringing up one arm he sets his elbow on the top as he rotates his neck a bit as if stretching it out. "Okay." He says simply in response.

There is a tinkle of something dropped, lost, swilling past in the gutter, the hiccupy progress of meltwater. Wu-Long's eyes shadow, hooding, and he forgets to keep tracking the path of passing pedestrians by turning his eyes, either thinking about something or reducing himself back to trigger reflexes to shore up for paranoia; difficult to say which. They've been in the foxholes together too long, between battles as well as during, for extended silence to strike him as particularly unusual. Nothing about the past few weeks has been specifically normal.

Letting a long moment pass, the man shoves himself up and off of the vehicle, turning to look at the man once again. He looks at his Asian comrade for a long moment as if sizing up. He gives a litttle grunt before finally, grudginly, speaking. "So, what are you going to do?"

"Stay, sir," Wu-Long answers, promptly and without ceremony. He uninstalls one hand from his coat pocket, reaches up to drag fingers through his ropey curls. His skin has lost its sailor's tan, finally, despite weeks of unremittant exposure and Mongolian genetics, beside. "Fight where needed. Even if you don't." Need him, he means. No chagrin comes of that. If there is one thing this world or age will not run out of use for, it is a soldier.

"Hmm." Ethan lets out, actually rolling his eyes. The man is… remarkably silent. It might be said it is out of character for him. Pulling his lips back the man brings up a hand to set it on Wu-Long's shoulder briefly. "Good to see you," he mumbles.

It is out of character for Ethan, but not for the man who accompanies him on the wintry street corner today. Concern does not come easily to Wu-Long. Which ought not be a great shock to come to Ethan. Nevertheless, protocol is there, Confucian politeness and the tactical relevance of health, psychological or physical, arriving on the heels of a wolfish facsimile of affection.

"Are you all right?" Clapping Wu-Long's shoulder feels like sharing an armclasp with a graveyard headstone.

Going to open the door of the vehicle, the man known as the Wolf gives a little nod. "Of course." He says, narrowing his brows for a moment. "I have never been better." With that he slides into the front seat, going to close the door behind him, sliding the keys into the ignition.

Wu-Long doesn't move to follow or to leave, remaining on his square of sidewalk in much the same stance and arbitrary confidence as he had arrived. Watches as Ethan speaks from the heart — or as much so as an Englishman is physically capable of, and claps the door closed behind him without waiting for the soldier's reply. Which the soldier delivers anyway, as he has done so many times before that, by now, Ethan can read the shape of the syllables through even the darkened glass of the windshield. Orders, sir?

Kicking the car into drive, the man pulls the car out a bit. Rolling down the window, the man's arm hangs out of it, as his eyes study the soldier for a long moment. But Ethan doesn't seem to recognize the words, either that or he ignores them. Because his last words to Wu-Long will be,

"Keep safe." And with that, the car is roaring off.

January 14th: Nothing Now
January 15th: Woolgathering
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License