daydreamerexpress: Yin & Yang (two fish in a bowl)
[personal profile] daydreamerexpress
"As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary."

~ Ernest Hemingway



She waits on the roof, as still as a gargoyle, ignoring the sound of the vent as it clicks with every completed rotation beside her. It spins on the whim of the wind, since the building has been long since abandoned. The bulk of the equipment on the roof, including the air conditioning and heating units, help to conceal her from any potential observer. None of it works anymore, but that doesn't matter. The neighbourhood, if it could still be called that, feels like neglect, heartbreak and a resigned weariness. The smell alternates between a fresh gust of wind coming from the river and decayed dreams. She crouches in the late evening air, black clothing snug, auburn hair dragged away from her pale face by a clip, and scans the road five stories below with eyes only science messing with God could produce.

Not that anyone should be out at ten-thirty-five, scouring the roof with a night-scope, expecting to find her there. Normal people are home, having dinner, swapping patrol stories and the latest news from the political arena and word from friends and family in Toronto and Winnipeg, Vancouver and Halifax. Sharing fish and steamed rice or whatever was available at the market that morning: the post-Crash equivalent of a pot roast.

Normal people. What is the definition of 'normal', anyway? Someone who works a shift at the factory and comes home to the kids? Someone who goes to market early and returns late to a loving husband, loving wife? Someone who doesn't linger on the rooftop of an abandoned building in a part of the city where most of the structures have been condemned? She decides with a small smirk to herself that she doesn't qualify as 'normal'. She suspects that her partner for this job doesn't know anyone who would fall into that category.

And he doesn't qualify, either.

She glances at the cuff on her wrist for the third time, wondering why she is so impatient to get this thing done. Ten-thirty-six. Nothing hurts in this position and her muscles won't cramp for hours if she has to stay here that long. Ottawa is experiencing it's usual cold snap for March, courtesy of something meteorological the weather guy thought was very interesting on the morning news, but at least it isn't raining -- or snowing. This is March in Ottawa, after all. Anything could happen, but currently, the sky is clear. Not that the weather bothers her at all.

Good genes.

The job isn't complicated. Wait until someone parks their car outside the building on which she is perched. Make note of the license plate and other vehicle information and get a good look at the guy to confirm his identity matches with the description they've been given. Wait while he goes inside. Wait until he comes out and leaves. Break in and get whatever he just dropped off. Take the item to Levi so the Underground can do their thing and knock down a pyramid of corrupt city officials like bowling pins.

Simple. One person could do this, but the Wire never sends anyone out alone. Two or more. And the pay is good. So she can do this, sit here, and wait.

Wait, wait, wait. Why does it feel like she spends a lot of her life waiting for something to happen?

She acknowledges how distracted she is when the voice nearly makes her jump out of her perfect skin.

"Ms. Showalter, check in."

She puts her hand to the ear tricked out with a small communications bud and cups it gently with her palm, as if it were his cheek. She takes a breath to steady herself before speaking. Feeling this way unsettles her. Damn him.

"I'm fine," she replies evenly. "Just bored."

The man she knows simply as 'Levi' chuckles softly and she can hear the faint tapping of his fingertips on his PAL as he flips through applications. She can't hear the engine running and wonders if he's cold yet. Wonders if he's wearing an extra pair of socks.

Wonders why she cares.

"Well, we can't have that now, can we?"

She knows this drop off is the last piece of information needed to get the job done and Levi seems to be in a good mood for a change. It's a rare event, like being able to identify the meat at the market. Charlotte allows her smirk to grow into a comfortable smile. Maybe that's it. I'm just looking forward to getting this damn thing done, and all of our work finally paying off. She sighs. Or it could be the dinner he promised her, even though it would be at least one-in-the-morning before they'd be eating.

Not that she's expecting anything too exotic. Take-out from a Chinese restaurant or tapas or Nitro-Italia -- 'like mama used to make, open 24/7' -- or maybe a barbequed meal from one of the street vendors closer to the safer zones. She isn't hungry yet. It was a good thing she'd consumed some of the meager leftovers in Levi's motel room, though: random, cardboard boxes sprawled over the coffee table like a fast-food feast for thieves.

Which was appropriate, given the circumstances.

She can picture him sitting in the souped-up beater a few blocks away, double-checking all his information as he scans the Net for updates that might suddenly appear from the Wire, calling the whole thing off.

Or maybe he's playing video games…

She shakes her head at the thought. Not likely.

"Comes with the job," she says casually. "Hurry up and wait, right?"

"It's not very exciting down here, either." She can hear the soft, distinctive swishing sound of him rubbing his hands together. He's not wearing gloves? Is he crazy? Unless he has some mixed-up, genetic background she doesn't know about, this weather is a concern for him.

A concern for her.

Though why she should give a shit about a man who works in the dark and hides in the cracks of a damaged society is currently beyond her grasp. Then she reminds herself that she's hiding, too.

Well, that could have something to do with it.

"Hey, unless you're part polar bear, you'd better put your gloves back on."

She keeps it light, so he won't feel nagged and get all pissy. To her surprise, he laughs.

God, I wish I was in the car, next to him, right now, to feel that laugh fill the interior and wash over me. He laughs so rarely…

"Why do I keep forgetting about your heightened senses?"

Charlotte doubts that he forgets about anything. Mind like a steel trap. Soldier-Boy. She can picture him raising an eyebrow as they enjoy a few moments of casual banter, trying to dispel the boredom and prevent any tension or worry from creeping through a chink in their mutual armour. Levi's armour is more metaphorical and usually more impenetrable, she thinks, than her own, but hers is bonded to her bones and wriggling through her flesh with military prototypes: the best Neues Leben Einhauchen was able to produce. Difficult to deny she has a certain measure of invulnerability.

She frowns slightly. Damn the Ärzte, too.

Dwelling on her origins makes her sick and angry and now isn't the time for either mood. Especially with Levi loosening up a little. If nothing else, it might be diverting.

"I have no idea," she says, scanning the intersection just north of her for any sign of movement. But for a few cats milling around a dumpster on the corner, the streets are apparently deserted, but she remains alert. "You'd think it'd be something you couldn't forget, especially since I can sneak up on you."

"I know you're there," he replies. "Most of the time." She wouldn't be surprised if he is correct. He has some latent telepathic ability, but keeps his head down. It's no wonder he's hiding; the psyonics have a few advantages over the rest of the population and Le Ministère des Préoccupations would be drooling on their collective, polished shoes to have him in their power. She turns her head to look south and can hear Levi over the comm, shifting his jacket, the sound of a zipper being pulled, possibly closer to his neck. She suddenly wants to hold him, warm his hands against the heat of her body, her temperature a relativly constant 37.5C.

She frowns. Why is she thinking about such things? And with, of all people, Levi? If she wanted any form of intimacy, she'd ask for it from someone who didn't work so hard to keep his distance. Given the choice, of course, she wouldn't mind Levi touching her at all and with very little encouragement, she suspects that she'd rip off his clothes before he could think to stop her.

She shudders at the pleasurable and frightening thought, realizes she's smiling again. What is the matter with her? Sure, he was eye candy in a rugged sort of way, strong, muscular, with those intense eyes and that wicked smile --

Charlotte pauses.

Maybe it's the dark.

Sitting up here is like having a secluded, personal space without interruption, no one to read her body language or facial expressions, and her thoughts are rambling through the night, hoping for some cohesion. She has time to think about Levi and what their business relationship means to her, and what she feels it could become if one of them took a step in the wrong direction. She frowns again. Why would that direction be wrong?

She hopes she's out of Levi's telepathic range --

He doesn't give her time to think about it. "We could play 'I-Spy'."

She rolls her eyes, glad for the distraction from her thoughts. "We did that last time we had a job, and I kicked your ass." One month ago. Is he still sore?

"So? Maybe I like getting my ass kicked."

Charlotte's eyebrows rise slowly in surprise. He sounds a bit distracted, like he's not thinking too hard about what he's saying or who he's speaking with, and that's fine with her. It tells her he's relaxing. Treating both of them like normal people, just having a chat while they eat sashimi.

Feeling frisky tonight, are we, Mr. Tough Guy? Okay…

"Hmmm," she says, her voice pretending to contemplate that sentence. "Do you like getting beaten by a woman?"

"I don't recall saying that… exactly."

"It bothers some men. So, you forfeit your position as 'I-Spy' Champion?"

"I didn't say that, either." She can hear him shift his jacket again, as if he were getting comfortable in the seat. "I'll admit you're good at it, and I'll agree that you… kicked my ass last time, but forfeiting my… position is not an option."

Are we talking about 'I-Spy' or negotiating the ground rules for flirting with one another? She refrains from laughing. Why is it easier for them to communicate like this when they're several city blocks apart and not when they're in the same room?

Maybe the dark is working for him, too.

"I can imagine your… position on this," she says, allowing a certain amount of innuendo to escape. "Just curious how you felt about being beaten by a woman?"

There is a pause and she wonders if she's misinterpreted his mood, taken the banter someplace he doesn't want to go.

"I like being with a beautiful, strong, intelligent partner," he says, and she can envision his poker face. His voice isn't betraying much, either. It's quiet, gentle and stating a fact but not connecting it directly to her. Hell, for all she knows, he prefers men, but given the lack of any signal in that direction and the playful flirting he does sometimes with the other female members of their little group, she doesn't think so.

That's when Charlotte realizes that he's leaving it open. If she wants to step over that line they silently drew in the sand almost a year ago, when they started working together in an irregular fashion, when there was a definite spark between them -- interest, antagonism, wariness, she doesn't know for certain. If she wants to cross that line, she is welcome. She can imagine him peering at her over the rims of his sunglasses with those incredible eyes. Only a few are acquainted with the body and soul that are part of the package.

She is certain that she doesn't know everything about Levi and doubts she ever will.

"Is she anyone I know?" She's still joking, playing along and trying to keep the tone of her voice in that 'I'm not serious, of course' mode, the stance that both of them use when they emotionally circle one another. She doesn't know how successful she is; her voice has matched his in volume and a part of her winces at the breathy quality she couldn't quite squish in time. She waits, wondering what will happen next. Wondering if he'll slip and put into words something that she's almost certain she's been picking up from his body language and eyes for a few months now.

Wait, wait, wait. Why does it feel like she spends a lot of her time with Levi waiting for him to say something? She doesn't even know what she really wants to hear.

Uncharacteristically, he responds.

"Might be." He clears his throat. "Ms. Showalter, I --" A small hitch in his breathing. "I have a car approaching from the north." All business. The mood evaporates as if it had never been. Her ear bud crackles. He has probably dropped down on the seat beside him, waiting for the other vehicle to pass. Charlotte looks north and seconds later, there it is, an ancient Honda Civic turning the corner and coming toward the building.

The vent beats beside her, like the pulse of a living thing. Levi was about to tell me something, she thinks, noticing her own pulse has increased in anticipation of what he might have said. Shit. Why couldn't the perp have waited a few minutes longer? Even thirty seconds would have sufficed. This better be it. This better be the drop we've been waiting for. She smiles darkly.

And if it isn't the perp, I just might have to kill them.
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