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aesopian ([personal profile] aesopian) wrote2008-05-08 01:58 pm
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A Winter's Evening Air

Prompt: suppositions and possibilities

Early morning sunlight filtered through the cloudy haze hovering over the Parisian streets. The coffee was bitter on his tongue, but it steamed in the cool air and he drank it thankfully, needing the heat it offered. He had arrived an hour before the meeting, finding the perfect place to wait in the square he had scouted for days. You couldn't be too careful these days. There were more enemies than friends, and standing near the rock railing of a small bistro, he wasn't certain which this would prove to be.

The birds and a few passers by kept him company. The cathedral rising into the clouded sky gave him something to occupy his thoughts. It was a place of sanctuary, of safety, of thought and prayer and peace. He had chosen this place. If he was called, he could at least insist on that small sacrifice. The small allowance, letting him control the meeting grounds. It was a safety concern he could not afford to bend on. He could not afford for this meeting to go awry. It was something he would work hard to maintain -- the secrecy and security he needed for himself. Let the other be damned.

As it started to drizzle rain, he set aside the cold cup of coffee and glanced down at the ornate watch on his wrist. There was still some time left, and while a little uncomfortable, he could deal with the rain. It slowly soaked the shoulders of his sport's jacket and dripped from the spikes his hair formed, which bristled aggressively despite the weather. He kept a close watch on the time now, and an even closer watch on the people in the square. It was no longer empty regardless of the miserable weather. People singly and in groups passed by, some intent on their destinations, others obviously tourists, stopped to point and photograph the historic church.

They'll be late in five seconds, he thought absently, watching the slender wand ticking away the time. Three... two...

"It's beautiful isn't it?"

He didn't recognize the woman's voice, and he didn't bother looking over as a black umbrella moved to shelter him from the rain. He wouldn't recognize the facez either. She was young, he could tell that. He built a mental image up from there. Dewy eyed, long lashes, artfully done makeup just enough to emphasize her youth. Her cultured Italian carried an American accent, mid-western? He couldn't tell. So many of them sounded alike, and he never trusted what he heard on the television.

Silence descended around them again. A waiter came and asked the woman if she would like something to drink. Without any hesitation or difficulty, she answered him politely in French, and they waited again while the man brought fresh drinks for the two of them. Drinking them quietly, they watched as more people came and went. It was unhurried, uncomplicated. Pleasant, he decided and couldn't help the wry smile that crossed his lips.

The woman laughed softly beside him, and he fought the urge to turn and look, to find out exactly what she looked like. He told himself that he didn't really need to know that information, and it wasn't that difficult to believe. A little while longer passed and the rain slowly stopped. She kept the umbrella in place.

"Well, then," she said briskly. The youthful voice was suddenly countered by a hard edge of business at hand. "You managed to pick a good location."

"It looks like you weren't followed either."

His reply brought another laugh, less innocent but almost more real because of it to his ears. "No," she agreed, "I wasn't followed." She paused tilting her head thoughtfully. Her voice was even more grave as she continued. "It's almost time. The preparations are in place, and I've found a way in."

"And the way out?"

"Hm... that's harder, but there are ways depending on how things go."

He heard a lilt in her voice and his jaw clenched. "And how do you want it to go?"

She answered him with a rich, throaty chuckle. "Do you really want to know? No? I didn't think so. Don't ask questions if you don't really want the answers. Can I count on you for support?"

The edges of his mouth pulled down in a frown, and he turned his gaze from the exquisite stained glass and buttresses of the cathedrals facade to study the paving stones beneath his sleek black shoes. He looked away again after a moment, over the faces of the crowded plaza.

"If I'm available."

Beside him, he felt the woman nod. "Make sure you are." His jaw clenched slightly, but he forced himself to relax as she began to layout the details of her plan. He couldn't help the slow dawning of appreciation. It seemed every aspect of the situation had been considered and planned for, every contingency covered, but one thing finally brought a worried frown to his face.

"What if he's stronger than you think?"

"Then won't that be interesting?" The dark pleasure that bubbled up from the woman sent a shiver through the tall man, and he swallowed hard. She pushed away then, finally closing the umbrella she held and smiled up at the clouded skies. He heard her turn and start walking away, skipping into the puddles, and he finally let himself look at her retreating form as she moved towards the crowds before the cathedral. Her shoulder length hair was wavy, and it bobbed and shown as bright as new copper, even in the dull light. She had a slender figure accentuated by the stylish and somehow fittingly childish outfit she wore.

"Take care," she called gaily over her shoulder as he straightened himself, leaving money for their coffee and moving away. Four of his men detached themselves from their positions around the open area before the cathedral, moving to secure his route back to their hotel, as another voice, deep, rich and hauntingly familiar, whispered quietly into the back of his mind as he turned the corner, losing sight of the chuch. I'm counting on you, sempai...