Title: Hey Little Songbird
Edgar Sims - December 12, 2010 04:41 AM (GMT)
Eddie was dressed for success that evening. He'd gotten the slumming out of his system the day before, and was now sporting a suit, polished shoes, and a Rolex that might put all other Rolexes in the entire universe to shame.
He had his hands in his pockets as he stood on the street, hooded eyes watching for movement. There wasn't much. This time of night -- not quite early enough for the work-just-ended traffic, and not nearly late enough for the spilling-out-of-the-bars-covered-in-puke traffic -- the street was largely deserted, only the occasional trash can and trashed bicycle.
Except the girl.
She'd been walking down the street towards him for a minute or two so far, and was a little less than twenty feet off. His first impression of her was that she was young. His second was that she was cute as a button.
Smiling easily at her as she got within talking range, Eddie snuck a glance at his watch and gently stepped into her way. "Darlin', you're not going to want to walk past this particular alleyway at this particular time." His smile widened into a toothy grin. "Trust me on that. You have a few minutes to spare for a chat?"
Ruby Warren - December 12, 2010 04:58 AM (GMT)
The worst part about being new to a town was getting lost. Ruby couldn’t find her way out of a wet paper sack – it took her ages of monotonous routine to get comfortable navigating someplace new. And by then it wasn’t new anymore, and she had to skip town.
Her boots clunked in the dirt. They looked like they were dirt, pieces of mud caked to the sides. One of her laces had come undone, which made the mannish boot loose on her foot. But she was too busy trying to figure out the map she’d written on a sheet of paper. It had the name “Ryan Archer” scrawled across the center, but it had been marked through and now bared the scratchy lines that were intended to be directions. Now that she was trying to follow them, the directions might as well have belonged to another town – nothing was matching up.
She didn’t see the man until she was right up on him.
“What?” she said, though she’d heard him perfectly. Her lips pursed – she was furious. Chet, her no good fiancé, had always been trying to tell her where she wasn’t allowed to go, too. “What do you mean I can’t go down there?” Ruby glanced around him, to the dark alleyway. Okay, well, it looked really scary in there. Like there might be rats. Rats with fleas.
“I didn’t want to go down there anyway,” she said, turning the map over. Was she looking at it upside down? Ah, to hell with it. She crumpled it up in her gloved hands and tossed it into the alleyway. Wait, had he said he wanted to chat? And why was he standing next to a dark alleyway?
“You’re not Alliance, are you?” she said, glancing down the direction she’d come. "Cause I don't think I got much to say to you." How fast could she run in these boots?
Edgar Sims - December 12, 2010 05:04 AM (GMT)
Eddie's smile never wavered. The girl was coated in some grime, but he had a feeling she would clean up really nice. "Not down there. Believe me when I tell you that for the next five minutes, you're not going to want to be anywhere near this alleyway. Or maybe two minutes. Depends on the situation, you see."
He slipped a fresh pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and began tapping the end against his palm to pack down the tobacco. His eyes briefly followed the crumpled paper to the street, but were soon on her again.
Goodness, but she was cute.
Opening the pack up, he shook his head and pinched the butt of a cigarette between his lips. "No. Consider me unaffiliated, sweetheart. You smoke?" He shook a cigarette half-free of the box and held it out to her while his free hand dug around for his lighter.
Ruby Warren - December 12, 2010 05:12 AM (GMT)
She relaxed a little and took one of the proffered cigarettes. “I reckon we can chat, then. If you got anything good to say,” she said, smiling. Ruby’s bottom teeth were crooked, but her top ones were straight and pretty. Her mother had spent more than a few pennies on them – but she couldn’t afford the lower ones, too.
Ruby put the cigarette in her mouth and waited for him to find a light, so leaned forward a little, to give him better access. She’d always been really rubbish at flirting. She didn’t get that whole coy thing other girls did. If it was something discreet you had to pick up on, you could count on Ruby to be completely oblivious. But she found herself wanting to flirt with this strange man in the night. Maybe it was the fancy watch.
“So what’s going on down there?” she said, cigarette dangling from her lips. She imagined a bunch of rats morphing into one giant rat with giant fleas; it could tear the city apart with its icky little claws. She shivered a little.
Edgar Sims - December 12, 2010 05:19 AM (GMT)
He found his lighter, and gave her a bit of a wink as he lit her cigarette -- ladies first. He held the flame there long enough for her to suck in an inhale, and then let his own as he pondered her question.
Of course, he knew precisely what was going on in there, but he was something of a gentleman. He did not think it really prudent for a lady to be told something like that. Thankfully, before he had a chance to try and formulate an answer, shots rang out in the alleyway, the brief explosions of the guns causing little starbursts of light to illuminate the brick and stone. A bullet came out and hit one of the garbage cans, pushing it a centimeter or so. It was shortly followed by another, which tilted the can slightly. A shower of five or six more pushed the can onto its side.
"Well, that, among other things," he said, blandly. He took another suck of his cigarette and held it before exhaling.
He smiled at her through the smoke. "You looked a little frustrated a moment ago. Are you lost?" He raked some of his curls out of his face, and held out his hand for her to take. "I'm Eddie."
Ruby Warren - December 12, 2010 05:28 AM (GMT)
She jumped at the sound of shots ringing out in the alleyway. “Holy shit,” she hissed, ducking towards the side. What if she had gone down there? She’d be riddled with as many holes as her no-good-son-of-a-bitch fiancé. And just her luck, they’d have found out who she was, and buried her right next to him. Imagine, having to lie next to Chet for all eternity. He probably snored, even in death. And cheated, too.
The cigarette dangling from her lips was quickly turning to ash. The man was still talking to her, as if he was perfectly used to having gunshots riddle objects around him. His steeliness was impressive.
Ruby swallowed, her throat gone dry. Ashes sprinkled down the front of her ruffled dress, and she finally took the cigarette and flicked it before putting it back between her lips. “Eddie?” she echoed his name back to him. She forgot to hold out her hand to him. Her mother would be ashamed.
“I’m Ruby,” she said, her eyes glancing between him and the alley. “Should you go check on that? Someone might be hurt." There was a brief pause. "Unless they deserved it.” She may not have understood flirting, but she sure could understand vindication.
Edgar Sims - December 12, 2010 05:37 AM (GMT)
That was a ten-dollar hooker name if he ever heard one. It immediately made him think of sex. Lots of sex.
He put his ignored hand into his pocket and shrugged. "Everyone deserves something, sweetheart. You can go through life with that as a tidy guarantee." He turned towards the alleyway as he heard footsteps.
The grunt was by all accounts a fright to look at. More scars than skin, and with yellow bloodshot eyes and a sort of weaselly look to him, he wasn't going to win any beauty contests. He looked like a rapist and a murderer. He was both of those things. "Hey, it's--" The man stopped short when he saw Ruby, and his gaze raked her form for a second before he glanced back at Eddie. "It's done. We're done."
"Yeah? 'Cause this lady would like to cross," Eddie responded, nodding his head slightly towards Ruby.
The weaselly man nodded, his eyes going back to Ruby hungrily.
Eddie sighed. "Batty, you're going to scare the poor girl. Get your ugly mug back into the ever-forgiving darkness of the alleyway. I think I'm going to escort this little lady to wherever she's going. You don't mind, do you?" he added, directing his question back towards Ruby. "After all, the streets are plenty dangerous at this time of night."
Batty backed into the alleyway, probably to inform the others of Eddie's intention.
Ruby Warren - December 12, 2010 11:36 PM (GMT)
Ruby glanced towards the footsteps, and automatically recoiled a bit, trying to appear to be nothing more than an abscess that this “Eddie” fellow had suddenly grown on his arm. The man that had emerged from the shadows was a frightening creature – some kind of boogey man from all her childhood nightmares. Except that he wasn’t dragging one of those spiky sticks behind him.
She flicked the cigarette, mostly burned by now, to the ground.
“You don’t mind, do you?” Ruby echoed his question back to him. She was thankful that he’d volunteered to escort her. How very gentlemanly of him. But all be damned if she was going to tell him anything about where she was going until that creature was far from earshot. He seemed the kind that might sneak into her bedroom at night and skin her alive. And then wear her as a hat.
Ruby threaded her arm through Eddie’s, suddenly needing to feel some kind of protective male force beside her.
At least that was one thing Chet was good at.
No, actually, now that she thought about it, he had never waited for her. He was out the door before she could even put on her coat, and always expected her to run two blocks in the dark to catch up.
The tiny glowing red circle on the tip of the cigarette finally burned out.
She glanced towards the alleyway, wondering again what had gone on down there. But she wasn’t so curious or concerned that she wanted to venture in. It was hard to be a good Samaritan when you were still coming off the high of attempted murder. Besides, she preferred to think, as she’d said before, whoever it was had probably deserved such an end.
Edgar Sims - December 12, 2010 11:50 PM (GMT)
Eddie smiled as she threaded her arm through his, and tossed his own cigarette away. His other hand went over, grabbed her hand, and brought it to his lips. He didn't break eye contact as he pressed a chaste peck against her knuckles. "Mind? Darling, you're doing me a favor," he murmured. "I've been sorely lacking in aesthetic company, lately."
He replaced her hand against his forearm, patting it gently.
His eyes lingered on her face -- especially her lips -- for a moment before he let his gaze drift lazily back towards the street. He began to walk, aware that at least a pair of his men would be winding out of the alleyway and following them, even if he couldn't see them. Guarding him was probably the most important aspect of their job. Eddie liked living, generally speaking. There were nice things to be had, food to taste, and flesh to devour. Speaking of which...
It really had been a long time. The urge to get a little brutish was a little stronger than he was used to. Not, he reflected, that this girl needed any sort of special treatment. She didn't look classy all on her own, despite the little outfit. She looked more reminiscent of a toddler playing dress-up with her mommy's clothes.
Eddie liked games, though. Courtship a la the Olden Days was always a fun one.
"Now, where am I taking you? Not to your beau, I hope. I'm a little mature for broken hearts, Ruby."
Ruby Warren - December 13, 2010 01:01 AM (GMT)
Aesthetic company? She couldn’t remember what that word meant. Was that like the drug the dentist used to put her under? Did that mean she was intoxicating or boring? Ruby didn’t really think of herself as boring. She pursed her lips, thinking hard.
He’d kissed her hand, which was awful nice. Would he have done that if he thought her boring?
“Hmm?” She barely caught his other question. “Oh no, he’s dead,” she said dismissively of her former beau. “I was lookin’ for a hotel. Maybe not something that put mints on the pillow, but not nothin’ that rents by the hour, either, if you know what I mean.” Assuming she had enough money for such a thing – she may have to just doze over a beer in the local bar. Sometimes those booth seats could be pretty comfortable.
Ruby glanced over her shoulder as they started to walk, to make sure that creepy man wasn’t following them. She sure didn’t see anything, but the thought made the skin on her neck tingle.
“You been on this planet long?”
Edgar Sims - December 21, 2010 06:55 PM (GMT)
Eddie tried not to let his expression slip out of his control at her casual response. Oh, no, he's dead. It wasn't exactly what he expected a girl like Ruby to say about a lost... loved one. Or rather, he didn't expect her to say it exactly that way. It sounded very odd and almost suspicious. He almost suggested to her that from now on, she simply answer that she didn't have a beau at current, but perhaps this was for the better. It gave her a bit of mystery, which was a decent enough thing to have in the Fringe.
It'd be preferable to have people wondering what she meant than assuming she was completely harmless. "A hotel? Darling, that would be so dangerous. All the nasty sorts like to hang around hotels. People who are new to the city make easy targets," he said, softly and sympathetically.
At her question, he smiled. "As it happens, no. Just a few weeks. I don't live here, I mostly just come around on business."
He continued to walk with her, despite his assertion that there was not, in fact, a "good" hotel in the whole colony. After a moment, he murmured, "I'm sorry to hear about your beau, of course. How was it that he died?"
Ruby Warren - December 23, 2010 03:26 AM (GMT)
Ruby was instantly disappointed. Not a good hotel on the whole planet? But she had desperately wanted to rest her head on a nice pillow tonight, instead of some wadded up sweater with big buttons that kept poking her in the eye. Or worse, suffering with the weird imprints it left on her cheek in the morning. She supposed she was going to have to make that nap over a beer a reality some time soon. At least she was sufficiently practiced in the art.
“Hmmm?” she said, still distracted. She was often distracted. “Oh, Chet. No, it’s fine.” She was so tired of talking about him. “Somebody shot him before he could walk into the church I set on fire,” Ruby waved her hand dismissively.
There was no pause to acknowledge the dead, no soft sighs or a little gloved hand fluttering at her heart. “So if you’ve been here a little while, then maybe you can recommend somewhere I could take a rest. Are the motels as dangerous as the hotels?” She couldn’t remember the difference between those two. She tapped her finger on her lip. Rooms inside or out? Hmmm…
Edgar Sims - December 23, 2010 03:33 AM (GMT)
The church she set on fire.
Well, that settled it. The girl was kind of crazy. Unfortunately, he was still very much attracted to her. He'd just have to make sure someone had a gun trained on her at all times if it ever blossomed into a real thing.
At her question, he smiled a little, pretending to consider it. "Well... the best place I know for a good night's rest is... my place." Overboard? He felt he delivered the line smoothly enough not to seem like an ass. Of course, it was up to her to put whatever implications on the offer that she felt existed. He had never been much of a rapist. That didn't mean he wouldn't put his best effort towards convincing her, of course. "If you would accept my hospitality, I would, of course, be most honored. A pretty young lady like yourself shouldn't be forced to pay for room and board. It's unseemly. As a gentleman, I can't allow it."
He put his free hand back on the hand in the crook of his arm, patting it comfortingly. His heavy-lidded eyes didn't stray so much as an inch below her collarbone. He was the very essence of propriety.
He wondered if she was a virgin. The thought sent a delightful sort of feeling through his spine.
Ruby Warren - December 28, 2010 01:18 AM (GMT)
“Your place?” There was a slight tilt to her head, like a dog would make when it was trying to understand human speech. “How hospital of you,” she said. How could she possibly turn down such an offer? Ruby had about three coins in her purse, and all of them combined wouldn’t buy her a room. She had been harboring some delusion that she might get one for real cheap – free was even better. And she hadn’t even had to flash her boobs.
“Are you sure I wouldn’t be imposin’ too much? You don’t have a girlfriend or anythin’ that would put you in the ground for invitin’ me over?” That’d be just her luck.
He wasn’t exactly her type – she liked the blonde and the brawn, but he was real handsome. His sleepy eyes were kind of sexy, made her want to cuddle him into her bosom or something. And he was so… brave, like some kind of fancy mob hitman. He probably put bad men in the ground all the time, without his trigger finger shaking at all. Boy, would she love to have that kind of strength.
“I swear I won’t stay too long,” she said. “Just a day or two to get myself a job. I got a real good lead at Clancy’s – might be a place here in town where I could be waitin’ tables.” She tucked a short strand of red hair behind her ear. “I’d rather be cookin’, but they say beggers can’t be choosers.”
Edgar Sims - December 30, 2010 04:34 AM (GMT)
How hospital of you? Dear God, had the girl really just said that? It was a good thing she was such a beauty, because she sure as hell wasn't going to draw any attention with her brains. Despite the nature of his thoughts, Eddie didn't miss a beat -- mostly because he was used to dumber types, and he found it a little charming when paired with her slightly accented speech.
"Sweetheart, I would be offended if you didn't take me up on this offer. And no worries," he added, his smile turning a little regretful and sad at the corners. "No girlfriend. My wife passed away some years ago. There's no one to resent the presence of such a pretty little thing as you."
Clancy's, hm? In his opinion, the place was a little rough for a girl of her age and physical appearance, but she had set a goddamn church on fire. She could probably handle the low-level tough guys that hung out there.
Eddie smiled reassuringly, redirecting them slightly so they were headed to his place. "Baby doll, you're a shoe-in for that job, but I won't have you rushing out of my hospitality because you're worried you might be a burden or a nuisance. The longer you stay, the happier I'll be, and that's a fact." It wasn't. He'd probably get tired of her in a few months, six tops, and then he'd probably try and shuffle her into some other place. He'd probably pay for it, too, out of guilt. He supposed he would deserve to feel guilty, but he doubted there was much in this girl worth holding onto aside from some sex. She didn't seem the sort to engage in intelligent conversation.