Head Shot, Low Blow


felix_icon.gif harlow2_icon.gif

Scene Title Head Shot Versus Low Blow
Synopsis Harlow pays Felix another visit, primping him up for his big show day tomorrow. Over the course of polite conversation, they determine that the use of neither head shots nor low blows make an honorable man.
Date September 25, 2009

New Jersey — Residental Safehouse

What a sty.

He's laid out on the worn canvas cot, like a body being prepared for the pyre or the casket. Not all that inaccurate a simile - it's less than twentyfour hours until the last act in this particular farce. Fel's in a ragged buttondown shirt someone has found for him, and a pair of loose pants, as if the chill might carry him off prematurely. It covers all his wounds but the seamed scars at his ankle. He hasn't been fully conscious for a few days now, not responding either to prodding or stimulant drugs. It's been almost peaceful, really. The IV's bound into his arm - presumably that's what's gotten him water and calories enough that he hasn't died of dehydration. But the near-starvation has carved him down to sinew and bone, face like something hacked out of wood, eyes sunken. He's drifting, hands unbound for the first time in weeks, though the wrist of the arm without the needle in it is cuffed to the bed itself.

Two sponge baths have cleared away the worst of the sweat and fecal stench, and this third is purely cosmetic. Either that or perverted, but— come, now: she's Harlow. Would she? Really?

Her boys don't honestly think so. She has an odd propensity to let them handle the most flashily ostentatious of torture scenarios, abuse, the braggadocio of fists, knives, and creatively applied rodents. Her errand here have been characterized by odd little medical duties, soft-spoken conversations, questions, smiles, lies, the occasional foot to the groin. The sponge streaks moisture down the hollow sculpture of Felix's cheek, and no longer contracts instantly into huddling beads repelled against the oil layer of the dead cells and grime of neglect.

No, it soaks through. She smoothes it down to the notch of his Adam's apple, mopping a sprinkle into the collar of the man's shirt. It takes her a moment, contemplating his reticent eyelids and thready silence, to decide to press the heel of her hand to his throat.

And he's instantly apneatic. Choking will bring you out of the deepest sleep, the most profound unconsciousness that isn't yet true coma. There's a gasp and a sputter, followed by him thrashing weakly against her grip - free hand coming up to latch on to her wrist, though there's no strength there to dislodge her.

It's kind of like waterboarding. Same principle anyway: are alive, want to breathe. Harlow's arms hold, thin and taut, twitching with the seizuring panic and quiver of the agent's body. Her face zooms into view, shaking to clarity through the mucus blur of his blinking. Harsh features: high-boned and a long nose, a jawline with all the flesh and delicacy planed out of it by some austere craftsman. She isn't nearly as hollowed out and used up as he is, but prisoner and terrorist were built within similarly spare lines.

She lets him go when his eyes focus. There's too much water squashed out of the sponge, now, welling clammily on his neck. "Morning," she says. She might even be right: there's white in dull strips seeping in through the boards on the windows.

Hey, I'm all wet. I…."You shaved me?" His tone is puzzled, a little accusatory. How else can he explain the scraped-raw cheeks and lack of a month's beard. What is he, Aslan? A bleared glance down at the bandaged foot, the bare one.

His voice is a thin poor sound compared to the vehemence with which he'd spoken a few days ago, but the spark of accusation catches her attention. She draws her hand back, delivering an idle swat into the side of his wrist; the one attached to the crippled kitten digits he'd fought her with, moments ago. "Shaved," she confirms, sitting back on her stool. Her elbows set onto her knees, the sponge swung quizzically between forefinger and thumb of one hand. She flicks the nails of her other through the yellow of her ponytail, relieving her nape of its bristly snag. "Washed. Ever been to a debutante ball? Tomorrow is your equivalent."

At least he was out of it for the washing. Thank God. "What're they going to do? Cut off my head?" There's no humor in his voice - he's not joking. He's fairly sure it'll be slow, and it'll be painful. "Why keep me alive this long? Why just not let me die of infection and then display the body, if you think that'll prove something." Fel hasn't managed to muster fear. He lets his free hand fall to his belly, idly fingers the cotton of the shirt. Clean clothes. How strange.

Dirt tends to distract people from injury and the subtler marks of abuse, stress, and neglect. Advertising is important. Humanis First! likes to dispose of its evidence, but presentation of the final results is a different thing. "This is Danko's opus," she answers, at length. There's a sideways flip of his wrist, the sponge flung back over his forearm into the bucket, a throaty plunk into soapy gray meltwater. "We're doing this his way. He has a plan. I try to respect his agenda.

"If you had, you probably wouldn't be in this little predicament, now, would you?" She shades a wink at him, and sets one sturdy Timberland against the edge of his bed.

He eyes her, expression remote, quiet. Not quite resigned, more as if he can't figure out how she's relevant. He lets his eyelids lower, takes a slow breath. "You're making martyrs. The only monstrosity you display will be your own."

"Do I look midget-sized and bald to you?" Harlow asks, false indignation marking her brows up higher on her brow. The expression fades, in a moment. She doesn't really mind, of course; a Humanis First! operative wouldn't be overmuch troubled by the tactical criticisms of a mutant who'd jumped his idiot ass straight into the getaway ice cream truck. She rubs her forearm across her mouth, briefly, then her lips part with the skin with a faint pucker-pop and a sigh. "What's the most recent thing you regret?"

He doesn't miss a beat. "Going after Danko and getting into that goddamn truck," he retorts. "Not shooting him in the fucking head right on the floor."

One bony shoulder creaks backward, slings an arm over the corner of her chair's back. She grins like a hyena, all teeth and no sympathy. "What about the day you broke?" she inquires. "The shit you didn't get to do?"

"Everything since March has been borrowed time," he says, simply. "Honestly, now that I think on it, there were a lot of people I should have just shot in the head and been done with it. I should've killed Gabriel Gray when I had the chance."

She's heard of that one. Gabriel Gray: the Feeb had gone into long and illustrative rants about him when Bill came in to press. "Did some reading on that little mutant monster since you mentioned it." She sits forward, cocks a curious eye down in his face. Her iris is crystalline around the dead contracted point of her pupil. "It doesn't seem like Gabriel Gray ever tried that head shot on you. Or that he's keeping up his old MO lately," she observes. She puts her nails against his head, drags them gently over, through the inscrutable moisture of his hair. "But that's your panultimate dying regret. Murdering more of us bad guys before you buy the farm. What's that say about you?"

His own eyes remain the blue of shadows on glacier ice, but his stare isn't chill. Bituminous heat, instead. The lines of his face are wooden, the skin papered fine over the skull. This is what it comes to - dying like a rat in a hole. "It says I'm not a good guy, and never have been. There's a lot I regret, and it's not for you," he says, turning his face from her. "To know," he adds, with a sigh.

"It's good to have something to think about," she offers, optimistically, lifting herself up from her chair. She eases it back with the straightening of her leg, sends it scratching across the floor, wooden legs swiveling like a drunken pirate's peg legs. "At least you won't be bored. I'm sure you never wanted to die in your sleep.

"We wouldn't be that type." As unperturbed by her conciliatory demeanor as by Felix's rejection of it, she slants him a smile. Hooks long fingers in under the bucket's handle, squeaks it upright and hefts its water-weight off the floor. Pauses only to flatten the fold of his collar with an oddly maternal touch, before she's jerking the door open. A skinny shaft of sunlight lifts dust off the hallway floor outside and the air smells foul outside of it, a heavier, more cloyingly toxic, organic stench than mere dust would confer, eating holes through the lukewarm redolence of soapmilk.

Explanation comes with a kick of her boot, nudging a second bucket into the room to replace the other. There's a child-sized arm propped up over its rim, stringy viscera lipping bubbled by bacterial digestive gas over the flat white plastic and into view. After all, last time, he'd asked. Harlow fans its stink away from her face with her free hand and sighs a whoo into the hallway, shuts Felix's room in on itself.

Fades with a groan~

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