Sinister Purpose


danko_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title Sinister Purpose
Synopsis Huruma runs into an old friend.
Date April 19, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

There are parts of Staten Island that never sleep — market stalls that make good money in the darkest hours before the dawn, in pelting rain and aching cold, when there are few patrons, and even fewer witnesses. This morning, driving rain has shifted into a mist that diffracts bleary at what little light there is — isolated lanterns and streaks of neon advertising unsavory wares without specificity.

Visitors seem to just know.

In the darkened shelter of a shanty-style shop with an open door, a slight shape in a hoodie passes a roll of cash over in exchange for a scrap of paper — the signature applied at the bottom scrawled by candlelight.

The buyer skims it over before he tucks it away, eyes flicking quicksilver pale across the seller’s face.

His mind is cool as death to the touch, suspicion a practical concern in unfamiliar territory, calculating at a remove that prickles the vendor’s neck hairs in their temporarily shared space. It’s a familiar coupling of sensations, murder a promise more than a warning, and message received, all without a word.

Back on the street and into the damp, the buyer doesn’t waste much time in turning down an alley for a shortcut. There’s a bit of cut chicken wire back here between businesses flimsy enough for a stray dog to rattle through.

A stray dog, or a small, terrible person.

You can take a person from the island, but the nature never really leaves them. The city that never sleeps never truly goes anywhere, even after its destruction. Something in the water. Or in the dark and the quiet. Unlit, speculative silence, typically disrupted by the distant echo of barks.

In some cases, a voice. Gunshots, perhaps.

The rooftops make for easy travel, just as much as the winding, sheltered alleyways of the crooked little town. She hadn’t intended to be up there. But when your mind begins to try and trick you into seeing ghosts— it’s hard to stand back and ignore it.

Huruma measures her tracks across broken brick and faded plaster, across rusted fire escapes and sometimes down through washed out streets on her way to the next piece of high ground. Her trek takes her to one of the perpetual markets where she remains in waiting, watching the open space below from the shade of an unused roof exit.

She follows the hood with her eyes, ticking in the figure’s wake enough to determine the state of the haggard fence from above. It certainly seems like a shortcut.

The hoodie slithers through, chain link rattling too quiet to carry, snipped chinks still fresh enough to gleam bright in all the decay. Water flicks away from the snap of the gap closing behind him, steel not quite sharp enough to snag.

The alley beyond is little more than a burned out channel between walls of scorched brick, everything in shades of black. Soot and ash and burnt garbage packed down by years of rain and snow glitters wet in reflected light, gaps filled with puddles of filthy water.

He’s in deep enough to shirk the light entirely before he stops and turns, respiration slowed to a steady crawl, eyes narrowed to the few feet of open street and fence framed behind him.

Waiting to see if he’s being followed, still as a crocodile.

No movement but the rain.

It doesn’t occur to him to look up.

While the temptation for swooping is there, Huruma is not actually Batman.

His turning back to check his trail is as much time as Huruma needs to pad ahead across the next rooftop; swinging a leg over onto the ladder bolted to the side of the building; her descent is swift, hands and boots clung to the rounded sides. The landing is muffled by the crackle of rain picking up and the faraway rumble of clouds passing by the bay.

Her hood keeps the drops from her eyes, jacket closed up against the wind, covering a subtle bulk of layers.

When her quarry pivots back to move on, Huruma's tall silhouette— shoulders loose and head canted— cuts a negative space in the already inky alleyway.

Her arrival into his awareness is answered with a mechanical snap of movement, gloved hands hooking a previously unseen sidearm up to center. She can smell the gun oil on him, feel the military in poise, in mechanical precision, in the absence of fear beneath an icy trickle of adrenaline. It’s all familiar.

So is his voice.

“Think twice.”

The way it rasps silty in his throat, stuffy with the cold and the damp. It’s been a long time.
For her part there has already been quite a lot of thinking. Her hand rests on the butt of a firearm at her hip, elbow slack, fingers flexing idly against metal.

The visual, the scent, the sound of his breath and voice. The mind there in front of her. Huruma answers with an unflinching stare, pupils under the hood a deepened black, wide and flaring as she studies him.

Perhaps she just needed to get a really good look, up close and personal.

One can suppose that is understandable. Where his voice is buffered by atmosphere and disuse, hers is a slippery softness, undecided in its tone.

“Mm… working on your Lazarus impression, I see…”

Weren’t you dead?

Dark as it is, misty rain pushing through in waves with the wind, there’s no mistaking the whetted polish of his eyes or the slow screw of his brows into a knit under his hood. Disorientation feels like a missed step, somewhere — memory warring against logic to slot pieces into place.


He still has the gun lifted, sights leveled at the leading edge of his confusion. A hard blink doesn’t do anything to clear his head; he leans to check the rest of the alley behind her, reluctant to takes his eyes off her for even that long.

Scruff salts his jaw rough in shades of dishwater grey and white, sinew twisted wary through the hollows of his skull. He keeps his hood up, and his gun steady.

“…Something like that.”

Huruma's figure seems to follow his confusion like a bird, her head already canted, eyes finally catching a bit of light as she moves her chin up. Nothing behind her. Only the garbage she's deftly avoided stepping in.

For all that she slunk out of the dark, there is no solid indication of what she actually wants, and her tension remains quite spring loaded. If she had wanted to get the drop on him, she would have done it without letting him see her coming.

“You seem puzzled to see me.” In manner of speaking. Huruma's mouth twists in silent thought, her empathic field reaching out to test at his head, skimming first, then giving him a gentle mental caress of confirmation— a tickle of calm, dissipating quickly but enough to be felt. Not a shape shifter, either, and she proves that. “I admit that I feel the same about you.”

“What are you doing here, Emile?” It's less of a demand and more an inquiry. “You could be retired in South America, and yet…”

The smell of the alley says the rest.

“Lotta that going around, lately.” Confusion.

He sniffs against the the weave of runoff under his nose — creeps a single step closer, heel to toe. Near enough that he has to angle his chin up to keep things level. Still far enough away to duck her reach.

It’s a different kind of caginess, temptation plucking at an otherwise sturdy sense of obligation. Like she’s keeping him from some other errand.

The prickle up his back under her caress is mild — the discomfort of a feral cat curious enough to tolerate touch. Distaste doesn’t even darken behind his eyes, sunk instead down into a murky stir beneath the surface of his composure. Just there enough to feel.

“I’ve never had plans to retire,” he says. “Shoulda known you’d find a way to come out on top.”

She is not there to swipe for him, no matter how much she feels several people would love for her to. He really stirred a pot or two. Not precisely wasp nests. The step that he takes, the lift of his chin— it lets her see more of his face, familiar in the way of a skeleton in a closet.

Knowing there is any sort of mental influence in your head is unsettling in itself. Huruma studies the long-suffering feeling of displeasure, a twitch on her lips.

“Never? Shame.” Huruma is intimated with the type that never is content with an End. His follow-up brings a narrow to her eyelids, wordlessly pleased. “Yes, you should have.” Tsk. “Then again… I am not the one with a stone doppelganger halfway in memoriam.”

It was strange to see the statue. Even stranger to try and understand why it was there in the first place.

The rain and the dark make it difficult, but his mug is as she remembers, little changed at the surface. He looks a little kicked, sure, but he seems to have wrung the bitter tang of addiction from his bones, and the hatred that twisted in his gut like a snake near the end has been dialed down to a manageable murmur.

“I haven’t seen it yet.” Another shame.

He’s measuring — watching her close, in the slow shift he makes from holding her at gunpoint to lowering the weapon in his hands. Rain runs quicker off the barrel. His eyes are clear, a bloodless grey, pale as the rest of him.

“Been too cold out for a swim.”

The statue’s in the harbor, he knows. Dragged there. Apropos nothing, and everything, he makes the conversational sidestep on into a simple:

“Do I need to worry about you?”

Reading deeper is something she needs to do. She lists past the surface to feel the state of that coil in his gut, a faded shadow of what it was at the apex. It is there, still— but not as fervent. Perhaps it has become another kind altogether.

Her eyes catch the tilting slick of rain on the barrel of his weapon, noting it in silence.

“Maybe when it warms up.” Huruma’s look is a pair of half-moons, lowered to observe him.

“I do not know. You tell me.” It sounds like an honest question.

It’s the same old shit, quiet loathing pushed up against wet glass like ferromagnetic fluid at his core. But beneath the surface, it’s more diluted than muted — distracted. Stirred up, mixed around, muddy, its draw in her direction tainted by equally old affection.

“I think we both have bigger concerns.”

He can be honest too, brow hooded, his eyes narrowed back at hers in the conviction of his assurance.

“I’m gonna have to hoof it through Jersey in the rain to lose you.” Also the truth, if she cares to keep that meat thermometer stuck in through his skinny ribs. He has dryer places he’d rather be. “If I see you again today, you can expect me to take the shot.

“We understand each other?”

Bigger concerns than one another means a lot of things. Her profile is bigger these days— and so are her troubles. So are his, if rumor and report has anything to say about it. You can, allegedly, shoot only so many people down in the street these days.

Times change too.

Huruma’s shift comes when his steel gray eyes narrow over at her, chips of ice in the shallows of his face. Her weight moves from one leg to another, hands soon more slack at her sides. His words get picked apart in her head. He’d have to see her. Or it could be another day entirely. Semantics.

She gets the message nonetheless, flashing a white smile in the shade thinking about him putting in the effort to lose her.

“I live to make other people’s lives more complicated.” Her words sit at a slight purr, edging past the point of their Wild West Showdown and into something more passive. One boot pivots at the heel, drawing her slowly to the side of the alleyway rather than remain in his path.

“We do.”

It’s difficult to tell her level of satisfaction, though knowing her— it is likely minimal. There is always next time.

“Only as long as you’re alive.”

She gets out of his way, and he tucks his gun in through one of the pockets in his hoodie to seat it down stiff into its holster. Out of sight, before he moves to step past, one eye turned up to her, cold and bright as a dime in the shadow of its socket, warning against pushed luck.

“Don’t run that boy in the shop out of town.” She knows the one. “It was a down payment on a new rifle.”

A necessary inconvenience, after he left his last one at the scene of Deacon’s execution.

Two steps past, he breaks off eye contact to continue on with his eyes forward, rain swiped down off his face only to replaced with a fresh bout of runoff. It’s gonna be a long walk to Jersey.

“Given that the dead seem to be rising from ash, I may be around longer than you anticipate..” Huruma’s voice filters low in his wake as he begins to move off. She doesn’t seek to stop him again, nor follow in his wake. She had an understanding.

There is a distinct lack of remark on the boy in the shop; scoping it out ought to show her what he does— and if her senses are faithful— the arms dealing is the truth. The break of their eyes is uneventful, the mental rip of velcro preceding her gaze moving to his back instead. Huruma watches him until he disappears into the night; he remains in her field for a short time longer until that too filters out, leaving her in the alleyway. Her only companion now is the rustle of a pest amidst scrap.

“The more things change…” The more they stay the same. Teeth click inside of the grit of jaw, words a whisper to no one as she slips away.

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