Friday, January 26, 2007

Just 'cause - Chapter 4

Mark showed up to the 'Welcome' dinner in a rented suit, classic black & white with two gun holsters beneath the jacket. Most of the other mercenaries were sporting similar attire, and this revealed an essential part of their mindset: Even knowing in advance that they'd be attending this social function, they just didn't care enough to bring elegant clothing to a warzone. There were limits to such degeneracy; Krueger was a tolerated man, at best, but in their hearts, they had long ago embraced a lifestyle that did not require regular grooming beyond basic hygienic concerns.

Hence, Mark was surprised to a) spot John Done in attendance and b) see him running around in a custom-tailored suit. He pondered several possibilities regarding that, but had to hold onto that thought when Done spotted him in return and walked over to him, ushering the Enforcer towards a quiet corner.

"It's a small world, after all," John Done said; there was the hint of a smile on his scarred face.
"Look, man, I'm sorry about the Abakan, okay? My bad." Mark replied in a hushed voice; although they'd never settled it conclusively, he believed that Done was the better straight-up fighter, and even if that wasn't so, a fistfight wouldn't be a walk in the park.
"Really. How sorry are you? Are you 'lame apology' sorry? Or are you '7000 US Dollars' sorry?"
"I wanted to settle that, I really did. I've just been busy. Look, tomorrow, you go grab yourself some toys from the fair, I'm paying. How does that sound?"

John Done looked a bit taken away at that.

"Seriously. Why?"
"Well, to be honest -" Done scratched his head - "I, uh, I really didn't mean to ambush you like that. The rifle thing, it's kinda, uh, water under the bridge."

Mark raised an eyebrow. Why was Done apologizing to him?

"I was mad, really, I was," Done went on. "But at Equinox. He gave you my gun. As soon as I heard that, I kissed that baby goodbye."
"If it's any consolation, it worked really well."
"Yeah. I would have loved to try it out myself."
"C'est la vie."
"Basically. So, what are you doing here? The Boss said you were busy tearing up New York City."
"Oh, I am. Just had to check out a few things."

"Hello, John," Rowena said; Mark turned his head to see her wearing a pantsuit with grey jacket and trousers as well as a white shirt; unlike Mark's suit, this one was tailored to be open, and so showed off the straps of her shoulder holster plainly. Mark thought it looked ackward, but apparently it didn't bother her - perhaps showing off her gun was even a good thing in this climate. John Done mock-respectfully grabbed the brim of his non-existant hat.

"Miss," he said, managing a pretty good Southern drawl. They kept it up for a few seconds before she grinned, pounced on him and gave him a big hug. "Woah, Rovy, easy there. I just got the cast taken off." Rowena ignored him while Mark raised an eyebrow in faint amusement.
"What'd you break this time?"
"Oh, just a - Rovy, please, let go - just a finger." Rovena finally relented, still grinning from ear to ear, and then bowed in one more time and pecked him on the cheek.
"I can imagine which one," Mark said dryly. "How come I never get that kind of welcome from you, kid?" Mark asked; Rowena kept grinning while Done shrugged.
"I know how to treat the ladies right, Simmons. Might help ya if you try and learn from me. Speaking of ladies..."

Mark witnessed the second spectacular entry of the evening and had to blink a few times to recognise Trinity. The psionic amazon was bathed in deep red, a long silk evening dress flowing over her curves like a warm breeze of Mediterranean air at dusk. She wore black high heels and a red scarf hanging over her shoulders, whose only function seemed to be ensnaring Done with it as she closed in and flipped it over his shoulders, pulling him closer.

"Excuse us" was all she said, and then she and Done wandered off towards one of the tables, holding hands all the while.

"Wah," Mark stammered. "What the...what the fuck?"
"Welcome to my life, circa one year ago," Rowena cut in, used to the public displays of affection. "Atleast I'm not in the room next to them this time."
"I knew they were an item, but...woah. That just blew my mind. I've never seen her in a dress."
"It's their anniversary, I think. And he takes her to a gun fair in South America."
"I think it's cute when a couple shares hobbies," Mark quipped. "Now, how about we find ourselves a seat?"


Dinner came and went with a nice speech from Krueger; welcome this, new firearms that, lots of profit for everyone, try the veal. That was, indeed, just what Mark did; Rowena found that she'd indulged her sweet tooth too much with the basket of fresh peaches at the buffet and couldn't finish her main course, so she left it to Mark and watched him wolf it down. She wondered whether there was some sort of evolutionary adaption thing going on in the warriors she knew - eating lots when possible, then going without for days on the hunt. Mark matched a rare category of fast eaters - he was deliberate, not sloppy, and he didn't wolf down his meal, but he did eat fast, with nary a movement wasted as he used just the right amount of strokes from his knife to seperate the veal and chewed the meat only enough to swallow it.

Come to think of it, he had a rather similar philosophy in attacking both plates of food and people.

While they (well, Mark) still ate, the music started from the dancefloor, and Rowena spotted a surprising amount of people daring or drunk enough to try their look. She watched Done walk over to the DJ and talk to him briefly; Done handed him a CD and then walked back towards his table. As the last song died down, Done positioned himself next to the still sitting Trinity, earning himself a curious look from her.

Then it began.

Soft percussion and keyboard sounds filtered through the hall; the few other dancers cleared the floor as they noticed the change in music, but Done just held out his right hand towards Trinity and bowed his head slightly.

I've never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight
I've never seen you shine so bright

Trinity smiled, a genuine, warm smile, got up and took Done's hand, then they both walked towards the dance floor. Rowena and Mark watched on, silent and unmoving.

I've never seen so many men ask you if you wanted to dance
They're looking for a little romance, given half a chance

Once on the floor, Done helped Trinity get into position, with a nervous smile, she began tapping her feet, trying to find the right rhythm.

I have never seen that dress you're wearing
Or the highlights in your head that catch your eyes I have been blind

She was still trying to find the rhythm when he began moving, and she swayed with him as he let his fingers stroke her hair, freeing a few strands from her 'do. Their movements became one; for a few minutes, they were all alone in that big hall, just them and the music and their two hearts.

The lady in red is dancing with me cheek to cheek
There's nobody here, it's just you and me - It's where I wanna be
But I hardly know this beauty by my side
I'll never forget, the way you look tonight...

And they danced.

1 comment:

Valentina said...

John you big sweety.
Somebody's just impressed the heck out of this Avatar. =)