THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:01 am GMT 
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"You'll be the first to know." His words were punctuated by a droll smile, just as colorless as the last. He settled back into the cushions, shifting restlessly at the unaccustomed softness. When at last he fell still, he was seated diagonally in the armchair; rather than lie easily against the backrest, his back was settled against the corner, leaving him angled outward into the room. Despite the sleepy look of his pale skin and heavy eyelids, he was on high alert in this unfamiliar space.

The waitress approached them, all smiles, and suddenly that uneasy langor vanished. As he relayed Riley's order, and then his own request for a cinnamon coffee with cream and sugar, he smiled in all the right places, and his tone was effortlessly polite. He wore the mask well, assuming his performance was a conscious one. Coming from a background like his, it was also possible that his manners had been so exactingly drilled into him that in a public space like this, it would've cost him more effort to be rude than to drift along on the easy currents of his social training. The way he'd behaved in prison was hardly a reliable indicator of how he'd comport himself out here, mixing with the general population. Behind those bars, all bets were off.

Then again, depending on Riley's interpretation, it was equally likely that this was a glimpse of the way he'd been then. Civil and smooth with absolute strangers--charming, even, in a remote sort of way, with just enough bourgeois apathy to come across as aloof. Enticing. Riley, however, had already seen shades of the ugliness he was capable of, the brutal violence he could transmit through words alone, without even laying a hand on the target of his animosity.

Prison hadn't spun that out of thin air.

"So," he said, once the waitress had turned to go. "Frankly I'm a little surprised at you, Officer. Cocoa, coffee, honey. It sounds appalling, but I'll confess you've piqued my curiosity. At the risk of seeming forward, I'll trade you sip for sip."

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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:54 am GMT 
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Her hand raised to alight on her bosom with a look of pleasantly surprised shock. "Goodness, our relationship is moving a little fast. Then again, I suppose we are on a deadline."

Beneath the coats draped over their arms, the steel tugged a little on their wrists as they adjusted their positions, but their arms of course, linked. To any innocent bystander-- of which there was a higher concentration in their vicinity than either of them had had for some time-- they looked to be discretely holding hands, as any bashful young couple might. Sitting affectionately close as they were, intimately, few would think there might be more beneath their smiles, their coats.

"On that note, whilst we're here in this particular café, why don't you call me Riley. We'll be receiving looks otherwise."

Their drinks arrived quickly; it was a small place, without the frantic hustle and bustle of wiring customers. Their times wasn't exactly contested. Riley indulgently pushed her mug over to him before taking her own first sip. (Despite the sickening sound of it, the end result was distractingly warm and delicious).

"All yours." She settled back to watch him drink beneath her luxurious, heavy-lidded eyes. Then, as if absent-mindedly asking him what he thought of the latest tune on the wireless, asked.... "What did you make of Agent Ben El'Azar?"

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:29 pm GMT 
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"Hmm." His eyes narrowed into the usual squint, brow creasing. In that moment, it might have been either a reaction to the question, or to the beverage he had just sampled. He pursed his lips and pushed the mug back across the table. His own coffee was frothy and thick and sweet. The steam that rose from it was rich with the smell of spice.

"Foreign," he said at last, resolving any doubts of what he'd been contemplating. Whatever else you might say about him, he had no difficulty staying focused when the need arose. "Confrontational, judgmental, suspicious. And cagey too, my goodness. Skimming your papers when she didn't think anyone was looking? Is that office policy?" His last question was accompanied by a sidelong glance, another one of those amused little smiles laced through with malice.

He raised his coffee cup and blew on the drink. Steam curls skittered off its surface and disappeared into the air. He sipped delicately at the beverage, running his tongue over thin lips to clear away any lingering trace of foam. His eyes were still on the drink when he spoke, but immediately after falling silent his gaze snapped up to Riley's face to catch her reaction.

"She moves just like Renshaw."

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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:31 pm GMT 
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"She's not exactly an office employee. Let alone a model one." Riley corrected him a little whimsically, as she crossed her legs and cupped her mug to her chest. Steam had begun to rise from their coats, rising with the heat of the nearby fire. She inhaled the chocolate scent of her mug with relish, and poise.

At his last comment though, she glanced up from her drink with a slightly startled wide-eyed look, a surprised smile. "She moves like...?"

After a moment's pause she settled back a little further into the cushions and swirled her cocoa contemplatively, like a schoolgirl fantasising about a crush. After a moment she mused out loud. "You know, I wonder which came first. The boy or the girl. Or whether they just so happened to find eachother but then... Well. You're right. She is rather distinct-- unique I suppose. It seems unlikely..." Which infused the other, she seemed to be asking; who made the strongest mark?

"Revenge, revenge." A moment of silent reverie. Then... "If he were to kill her, how would he do it, do you think?"

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:35 pm GMT 
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"Meticulously."

The fingers of his free hand were pale and strong, wrapped about his coffee cup as though it were a throat. His eyes fixed on hers: bright, too bright. "He's a dish-served-cold type if I ever saw one. He remembers, everything. And then he waits. If he were to kill her, he would want her to know by exactly whose hand she was dying, and why. Especially given the nature of their history, my guess is this:"

He paused to sip his drink again, in no apparent hurry. "If that is his intention, he will hurt her. She will suffer. And then she will die. And you would be very, very lucky to stop him. Do you have a cigarette?"

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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:16 pm GMT 
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Blind, she let her mug sit to search her purse and present him with a small cigarette case and lighter which she slid across to him. It was done absently though, with none of the flattering barbed comments she might have said before. It was almost as if she were daydreaming.

She had met those eyes-- that from being as dull and pale as flat stones seemed to glitter perversely in the light from the fire. Her field of vision was such that she didn't even need to glance down to see the way his hands moved on the mug; strangely restless. It wasn't a great stretch of the imagination to assume that, just perhaps, he was speaking not only for Sebastian Renshaw.

The girls in the corner laughed about something in the magazine, and the sound floated over to them. Riley's eyes were keenly focused on his.

" 'If that is his intention'." She tilted her head a little and rested in on her manicured hand. "I wonder how he'd approach her in the first place. He'd need a private place, of course. The agent seems hardly the type to be led willingly into a cage."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:26 am GMT 
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"Approach her? No, no, no. Lay the trap and let her come to him. Otherwise she'd smell it from miles away. Don't you think?"

He paused and lit the cigarette he'd stuck into his mouth. It was a slightly complicated process, given that he had only one hand to work with. Whether or not he really cared about how the clientele perceived him, he made no move that would reveal the handcuffs. "From what you tell me, they have a more complex history than any old cop and robber. They were... acquainted, and she betrayed him. What was it your meaty friend told us, back at the station? She... 'knows how to play this guy'? He certainly thinks so. And I'm guessing she does, too." Quincy tapped ash off the end of his cigarette and crossed one leg over the other. "Renshaw will know that, of course."

He took another long drag and blew smoke genteelly away from his company. "If I were him, I'd bank on her overconfidence. Get close, somehow, wait til she dropped her guard, and spring the trap. Let her suffer that betrayal before she died, just like he suffered it then. There's a certain symmetry there, a circularity which I suspect would appeal to Renshaw's sensibilities. What's more, he handled himself fine in prison, never had much in the way of trouble. That alone wouldn't be motive enough for a type like Renshaw to risk recapture; I've never once known him to show even a shred of a temper. But like I've told you from the beginning, as I see it this business is distinctly personal. When it comes to crimes of passion, all bets are off. Ask anyone."

Anyone in prison, he meant. It was a small slip, but rather than give some rushed clarification, he merely forged ahead. "She might not be led into a cage. Nor, honestly, does she seem the type to be led much of anywhere. But I'd bet you anything she would walk right into that cage herself if she felt confident she could get out again. If she thought there was something to be gained."

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:32 am GMT 
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She let the "meaty" comment slide. Considering the way she had spoken to her partner back at the station, there was a strong chance that she and her current companion shared the same internal commentary.

"Why would she indulge him that?"

She had watched Quincy speak up till now with the same sort of admiration and delight as a mother watching her child take its first stumbling steps; there was an innocent sort of hunger there, a kind of quiet fascination. She took a sip of her drink, the sweetness in her tongue interlaced with the twists of cigarette smoke that escaped and wound its way around them.

" 'Let her suffer betrayal'. Of course, she was never under any illusions, we should remember. I imagine she's something of a-- If you'll excuse the rather crude illustration-- she wouldn't easily forget the dynamic of predator and prey. Or, I imagine, what put her there in the first place." She smiled, faintly, musingly. "Unless uou think she might have started to believe the façade."

Did Renshaw start to move like her? Or was it the other way around?

She watched the steam and smoke mingle in the air and rise above them. Her painted nails gently tapped her mug.

"The case..." She added softly, "Was a failed one, you know. Yes, they got the men on the ground and foiled that plot, but there were bigger fish in those waters that the BOI was investigating. They were never found. Agent Ben El'Azar failed, and I doubt she takes failure lightly. She's clever, but as you say. Over-confident, independent. She's never been a pack hunter, from what I can tell.

The man returns, the case reopens, revenge and whatever else..." She smiled faintly. "One can see how they could be complicit in their own murders, you know? They're both a little too keen to burn."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:01 am GMT 
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He studied her in silence. Smoke curled from the end of the cigarette. His expression hadn't changed much, but the tilt of his head leant him a vaguely thoughtful air.

"Do you really think she'd be indulging him?" he asked at last. He kept his eyes on Riley and arched a brow. Holding the cigarette between two fingers, he lifted his cup and took another sip. Sugar and spice mingled with the enticing bitterness of tobacco. The smoke carved a sinuous pattern through the air as he waved the hand to illustrate his point.

"As I see it, she'd be motivated by self-interest. An unfinished case, a smarting failure? Sounds to me like exactly the kind of goal a stubborn, thick-skulled maverick would fixate on. Renshaw barely has to lift a finger; she'd have all the reason in the world to go after him."

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:02 am GMT 
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"Well of course; I suppose that was what I was trying to say. She doesn't need much more incentive. But..."

Her voice trailed away and she closed her eyes, the steam warm against his chin, and listen to the crackle and shift of the fireplace. She rarely smoked herself, but enjoyed the scent of this brand. She was almost glad to have an excuse for someone to be smoking nearby.

" 'She moves just like Renshaw'."

The academics rose and collected their coats, tipping their hats to the staff as they went. The bell on the door jingled to the accompaniment of a brief gust of cold air and the cold roar of the rain on concrete, and the coffee shop was still again, and warm. Riley watched them leave absently, and her gaze stayed on the rain outside the window. Those sheets of billowing rain drops and the way the drains overran to make rivers of the gutters.

"She was there for six months. I think it's no exaggeration to say Bonfils hates Renshaw; you saw the way he talked about him. With a passion, I think- more than what's warranted for the hatred of a little cog in a big machine."

Her implication was clear where it lay delicately between the lines.

"I think... I think that the mixture of fixation on a case and old guilt is a potent one. Dangerously self-destructive." She tested her head on her hand and gazed over at him from beneath her eyelashes.

"If what you say of Renshaw is true-- and I'm inclined to believe it-- I fear for our agent, Mr Quincy."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 7:37 am GMT 
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He returned her gaze steadily. The steam rising from the coffee and smoke from the cigarette wreathed his head, placing him in a kind of haze. He was a specter here, a few degrees removed from the world of the living which buzzed on around them. He was paler, grayer, and infinitely more still. By contrast, the little coffee shop seemed raucous and oversaturated. In the interim of a few long years, life and its attendant processes had become too garish to hold him. At least, he assumed it was life which had changed. It had been a long time since he'd seen himself in a mirror, longer still since it had revealed anything to him.

His smile widened, then disappeared as he bowed his head to sip the coffee.

"That seems prudent," he said, the taste of cinnamon coffee already fading under the bitterness and heat of smoke.

The mere thought of Bonfils was enough to fill him with contemptuous amusement. Although Quincy himself felt no particular animosity towards Renshaw personally, he enjoyed Gustave's hatred--and, most of all, the thing his hatred signified. What it represented. Having seen both Renshaw and Bonfils, or perhaps more accurately, having observed them--he felt certain the two men could not be more different. He also thought of the pocket watch, and his eyes narrowed. And he wondered if there was some keepsake of Renshaw's that a certain scar-faced foreign agent held late at night when she thought no one else was looking.

"Do you trust Bonfils?" Under the seeming naïveté of the question lay the answer he was truly after: Is he still useful to us?

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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:52 am GMT 
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"Well," Her sounded speculative and vaguely affectionate, as if Quincy had just asked her about her latest fling was doing. "He's good at his work, you know, if not terribly..." She searched for a moment as she sipped, and then brightened up when she found it. " ... 'cerebral'. But he's a machine when it comes to shifting through paper trails, and the arrests themselves, of course." That almost went without saying; Bonfils was so wide and powerful that it would be hard to imagine anyone managing to escape that iron grip.

The real sort of question that lurked beneath didn't go unnoticed, though.

"He's the sort of man you certainly want on your side." Workhorse. "He has a mind of his own though, particularly when Agent Ben El'Azar is involved. They've worked together almost since she came to this country. I still wonder whether he really should be involved-- considering his proximity to the case-- and I think it would be wise to be delicate with some of our speculations."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:12 pm GMT 
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"How exciting," said Quincy, his smile toothy and getting bigger.

In the days before he'd gone to prison, he'd derived a certain sadistic pleasure in tormenting softer men. His targets were smaller, weaker, to be preyed on for his amusement and that of his friends. Usually he would affect a kind of camaraderie, and with it, plausible deniability. That way, if his victim protested--they rarely did--Quincy could laugh it off and tell him, I was just playing. Or, Don't be such a pussy. Man up a little, it's all in good fun.

Prison had changed all that. Oh, he was hardly the softest target in the prison yard, although he'd been stabbed there his first week and nearly bled out before the guards got to him. Still, keeping himself alive had been effort enough, and he saw little point in tormenting weaker inmates. He hadn't been the smallest fish in the pond, but he was more mid-sized tuna than shark.

Instead he'd been forced to get his kicks elsewhere. More often than not, this took the form of gently excoriating the guards who were too stupid to realize what he was doing. At school he'd resented the authority of his professors, but they'd held a certain power over him; if his grades dropped too low he would've been kicked out of Athletics. Most of them were smarter than him anyway, except for a few gray, doddering old tenure track fellows in the Classics department.

In prison, those power dynamics had been very abruptly reversed. And it wasn't long before he discovered that there were very few legally-sanctioned punishments the guards could inflict on him that he really cared about. Even solitary confinement was almost more of a relief. And so he'd amused himself by getting close to the guards, making small talk, running circles around them with his words.

"I can hardly wait to spend quality time deepening our acquaintance."

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 5:35 pm GMT 
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"Careful, Mr Quincy." Riley's voice was lighthearted and she watched the ripples form in her mug as she blew across the surface. "I said he wasn't cerebral. I never said that he wasn't canny, in his own way."

She lowered her mug back onto its saucer with a satisfying little clink. As she did so, she added, as if in post-script- "He almost killed Renshaw the day he was arrested, you know. And he wasn't even in handcuffs then."

Beneath their coats, the metal that linked their wrists hung heavy.

"Do remember that you have few friends in this city. I'm afraid things have rather altered whilst you've been away. The city, the buildings, the coffee shops..." She laughed, the sound like the tinkling bell that hung over the doorframe. "... Things have become a little bit nastier, I'm sure you'll realise that quickly. Here, increasingly deaths in custody aren't exactly..." Again she searched for that word, like a schoolgirl searching for the right conjugation in French. "... Unexpected. Or investigated. Prisons are getting so dreadfully crowded, you see."

Riley threw him a guileless look.

"I wouldn't interrupt your fun for the world. But do take care. I rather like the way you think. And I should so hate to lose you."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Summer Storms
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:01 am GMT 
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"My family would be outraged. Or rather, thrilled to have the opportunity for righteous outrage."

They'd started out that way, at the trial. Over family dinner, light gleaming off wine glasses, his mother's expensive bracelets clinking as she reached for the roast, they'd all blustered about that presumptuous detective who'd come around in his tacky old suit, about the absurdity of it all, the insolence that someone would try to frame dear Zachary for so low-class a crime. Then the trial had begun, and the papers had caught wind of it. They'd been sympathetic towards him, many of them, reporters hungry for a taste of the glamorous lifestyle they assumed he represented. How quickly that hunger had turned to blood frenzy, as the case wore on. They'd come to his house to arrest him, but even before that telltale pounding on the from door, the dinner table had been silent as the grave.

"Sure, they've kept their distance, but I assure you they'd leap at a chance to regain some moral high ground. 'Our boy, falsely accused, helping in a federal investigation, beaten to death in handcuffs.' They have vaults of excess money and everything in the world to gain. Can you imagine? They'd have his head on a platter."

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