"I was worried you would," she said, giving a dry chuckle. Her head was throbbing. She sighed, her shoulders slumping down, while her eyes stayed on the ground. Even her bones were whining at her like dogs at a shelter. One of her hands picked at the other, while she tried to forget everything that had happened today. Her eyes flickered over to the bottle he had.
"Is that booze?" she asked, eyes moving up it. She was thankful for the little light which helped to hide the fact that she looked like a pug, that even with all the makeup she still looked like her face had became dear friends with the street. However, it kept her from being able to read the label on the bottle.
She pulled her legs up, not caring if it was unladylike, so she rest her chin on her knees, and wrap her arms around her shins. She was trying not to cry, and was at least being fairly successful. How had she ended up in such a mess, though? Sitting in a park at night with a stranger, covered in marks, questioning everything?
This poor guy. Her eyes went from the bottle up to meet the blue of his irises. Had her eyes ever been that blue?
What was he doing here? Why had he agreed to meet a stranger who had tried to steel from him? She understand that his boyfriend was away, but certainly he had other people who cared about him? Other people to watch over him? A mother, a father, friends, mates in the military? She couldn’t believe this man had nothing better to do than sit in a park waiting for a woman who was little more than a street urchin.
"Are you… are you okay?" Harley asked. Something about his eyes bore a sadness that looked to old to rest on such a young man.
Jim couldn’t help but laugh just a little as she questioned the contents of the bottle he held. Nodding, he held it out to her, offering it if she needed it. He’d barely had four sips from it, but that had been enough for him, enough to shake any real doubt he had as to whether or not this was the right thing he was doing.
He looked over at her when she looked up at him and he could see there was something… not quite okay in her. Broken maybe wasn’t the right word, but he guessed strained or cracked might be a good analogy. Along with that he could see a million and a half questions flit through her eyes, questions he himself probably didn’t know the answer to, and when she spoke, the question that came out was nothing like what he was expecting.
He blinked at her for just a second, taken aback by her sudden concern for him. Then, he couldn’t help it, he started laughing, “Am I okay?” he repeated, shaking his head, “You meet me here, looking like you may or may not have just walked through hell with a particularly biased tour guide, and you’re worried about me?” he chuckled a few more times before the humor of it died down and he really answered.
"Well, to be honest, no, I’m not okay. I don’t know who you are or what I’m doing here or if I’ll ever see the man I love more than anything in the world again - but all that doesn’t matter right now. Because I’m here, right? And I want to help you. God knows why, but I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do, and Bones always said when I got something in my head, there’s no getting it out of there."
2 hours seemed like years. He had been angry, sure enough. She wasn’t surprised. Not at all.
How he smiled, though. How he played. Like a cat and its dinner. He had almost, for a second, lulled her into a sense of safety. Almost. She could never quite reach there anymore, though. Once, he could always trick her. It frustrated him now when he couldn’t.
Every manner of insult passed her ears, and he took all the cash. He had no interest in actually having the cash. He had enough. What she brought in was nothing. But he loved having the control over her. Loved demanding something of such significance to her. Because if she didn’t pay up, then he could make her believe it was her fault. And that was always so fun.
10 minutes before the two hours were up, Harley was laying on the bathroom floor. She tried to clean herself up. Shaky hands had delicately applied makeup. She noticed the time, and remembered what she had told that man. Why did she tell him to do that? It wasn’t really going to help her. If he called the cops, she wasn’t any better off. And if he saw her, he might call the cops anyways. Why did she ever bother with safety nets? Jay was so smooth. 15 people could be dead with all evidence pointing to him and he would still somehow end up back on the streets.
She cleaned up the blood and applied foundation to cover up as many marks as she could. Why had she kept trying to talk? She always thought she could talk to calm him down, but it always made him even more angry? God, she was stupid.
Either way, she was in a corner. She left through the window and started off to the the little park she’d written down the address to. Just before the 2 hour mark, she settled on a bench, looking down at her scuffed shoes. Maybe he would turn out to not be as nice a guy as he had seemed, and wouldn’t show up. For the first time, she found herself hoping for someone to be meaner than they appeared.
The closer the hands on the expensive watch that Bones had given him -even though he had insisted he didn’t need it- ticked to the end of the two hour mark, the more anxious Jim felt. He had found the place alright, a little park on a basically deserted street, and while there hadn’t been a bar close by, there was a 24 hour liquor store and that was enough for Jim right now. What he was doing was stupid beyond belief and he needed a little something to keep from shaking.
He bought a bottle of something he didn’t intend on finishing all the way and found himself a spot by a tree to lean against while he waited. When he had gotten there, he had half an hour.
Half an hour seemed to take at least four hours, and he could swear at one point his watch actually went backwards.
And now, well, time was almost up. There was a payphone across the street and he eyed it, a bit scared. He didn’t want to call the police. Hell he had no idea what it was he would be calling about. How did he always get himself into things like this, just let himself get swept away because he was trying to help. He hoped he could help.
There was barely a minute left until exactly two hours had gone by when a bit of movement in the dark caught Jim’s eye. He wasn’t sure it was her at first, but something about the nervous way she moved, looking around, almost subtly, like she was searching for someone convinced him.
As quick as he could, he made his way over to her, taking a seat next to her, hoping he didn’t startle her. The light from the streetlamp was dim at best, but even so he could see she looked a wreck, maybe not just mentally, but he would need better light to confirm that.
"I.. I was worried you wouldn’t show…" he found himself saying.
Harley stopped, pushing away the hand that held the bills. “Stop. Do you really want to help me? Really? Then do this for me.” Harley was out of breath, but still as pale as the moon. Every movement was with haste, and she pulled a scrap of paper from her purse. With a bit of eyeliner, she wrote down and address.
Pressing the little scrap into his hand, she looked up at him. “If you really want to help me, then meet me there in 2 hours. If I don’t show up within 15 minutes after that, then call the cops.” She gave a sudden sigh, one that wracked her chest, showed how shaky she really was, before she started off running again. She had been working on not sticking out, but it seemed that had failed for today.
Jim blinked at the paper that was shoved into his free hand, taken a bit off guard by the response. He narrowed his eyes down at the address, trying his best to catch his own breath. He was confused, at best. And it wasn’t getting much clearer, but he could dice that out later, he figured.
"Hey!" He called as she took off once more, "Wait you could… at least take the money…" he trailed off at the end, though because she was already gone. He frowned down at the wad of bills in his one hand and the mysterious address in the other. Was he seriously considering this?
Of course he was. He was Jim Kirk and unfortunately it was just who he was.
With a sigh, he shoved the money in his pocket, not bothering to put it back in his wallet, and stared down at the address. He was pretty sure he knew the street, but he hadn’t been in this area long - the army did that to you. He considered the fact that he could call a cab, but well, for one he probably wouldn’t have enough to pay the whole fare, and two well.. maybe it wasn’t the best idea for anyone else to know where this girl was.
So, with a resigned sigh, he set off for the location he was given, figuring he could find it, then if he had the extra time, look for a bar nearby to wait until it came close to the two hours being up.
"Like 3 bucks would made a difference," she muttered. "Thank you, but no. I just need to get back." He’s gonna be so furious.
She tried to push the fear that was mounting and mounting with every ste to the back of her mind, but it was becoming hard. She thought of that one city that was completely destroyed by the volcano those thousands of years ago.
"Listen, don’t worry. This is my shit, not yours. You’re… you’re a soldier," she said, try to offer a smile that looked about as genuine as if it were being held up with needles. "You have enough to worry about. Thank you." She wouldn’t have time to go through with her plan to buy cigarettes anyways. She switched around her insult earlier to something completely different. "Go buy a real nice card for you boyfriend. I’m sure he’d love it."
She looked back at the clock and thought, ‘to heck with it’, and gave up with any attempt to look casual, and just started running. Considering, she was fairly fast. Somewhere in her chest she hoped one of these loud cars would hit while she ran through the streets.
"3 bucks?" Jim repeated as he kept up the brisk pace. He frowned, a bit confused, but knowing that well, sometimes the tiniest difference could be life and death- in his case literally (and he thought maybe in her case too, with the way she was panicking).
He looked down into the bill fold of his wallet to find he had four dollars there and he thought- fuck it, he won’t miss it that much, this is war after all, “Here you can-” but he was cut off when he realized she had taken off at quite an alarming speed.
"Wait!" he called after her - something he seemed to being doing quite a bit of tonight - and sped up, running to catch up to her. When he finally reached her, just a bit out of breath, he did his best to hold up the bills to her while he continued to run, "Take ‘em okay? I don’t need them that bad - certainly not as bad as you seem to.. so just take ‘em!"
A thousand things were rapid firing through her mind, her breath becoming short. She was finally looking normal again after what he done to her last time. This little money and late? She was sure to be done in.
She didn’t even really notice when the man started after her again. When she noticed, she wondered how she could be so unobservant. Wasn’t she supposed to be good at noticing what was going on around her?
"Listen, I’m sorry about your wallet and all, but I have to go. I have to get back," she said, trying to dismiss him as quickly as she could. She was in for it. Completely screwed. But, the later she was, the worse it would be. "Best wishes to you and your boyfriend, have a nice day." Everything was hurried, and her eyes were narrowing in to see only where she was walking, trying to not think about anything else. Returning to her was that same feeling of boiling hot and icy cold. God, she hated that feeling. Though this was literally nothing in comparison to what was going to go down in the dark of those rooms. She felt like she might be sick.
Perhaps she should just… not go back?
No, that was a stupid idea. By tomorrow he have people looking for her. And if she thought she was dead now, she actually would be killed at that point. No one ever suspected him, either. He always got out of every run-in with the police. She supposed it was his lovely smile…
Jim’s features settled into a definite frown growing more and more worried for this woman who’s name he didn’t even know. It was crazy, it was stupid and it was just like him. He sped up to keep up with her, almost considered reaching out to take her arm, but thought better of it.
"Wait! Something’s clearly wrong? You’re not okay, maybe I can help I-" Jim had no idea how he could help this was dumb, yet here he was anyway, doing it, "I can…." he trailed off, not liking the way blood continued to drain from her face, like the further time went on, the more scared she got and that could not be good. He had to help he just didn’t know…. a sudden thought occurred to him and he reached for the walled that he had shoved back in his pocket, "Do you need money? Is that why you took my wallet? Look I- I don’t really need this that bad, I mean my ID is really the only thing that’s vital to me…" it was reckless and completely absurd to be offering money to someone who had literally just robbed him, but he couldn’t help it. He just didn’t want her to look like that any more.
Undeniably, he had gotten her attention, if only for a moment. She stopped, looking back at him. For a moment, her face was blank,emotionless, and she just looked at him. She thought about apologizing, but it didn’t get from her brain to her mouth. Not fully, at least. Her composition softened.
"I didn’t mean to judge," she finally said. She didn’t really know what to do with the emotional out-pour she’d just witnessed. Harley knew how her boss would deal with it. But she wasn’t her boss.
To some degree, she didn’t blame these men. Most weren’t there because they wanted to be. The goddamn draft had forced many to do things they didn’t want to. They were the easiest face to associate the bitterness to, though. And he had approached her initially with a cockiness she’d experienced too many times before.
"Listen, I’ve just-" she began, but stopped, her eyes changing focus from the man to the clock behind him. Was… was that the time? Shit. Everything about her changed, and her blood ran cold. The apologetic look on her face was replaced with one of pure terror. A sort of settled terror. A look that was comfortable on her face purely because it had been there so many times before. She tried to get control of herself, and turned with shaky movement, moving much quicker across the field. Whatever she had been meaning to say, she hoped he could live without hearing it, because she was dead. Shit, shit, shit.
When she spoke, her demeanor changing ever so slightly, that most people wouldn’t notice it, Jim was starting to feel bad about his outburst. It really wasn’t like him. He came of as cocky and arrogant for a reason: people expected and he delivered. He didn’t crack that shell very often.
He tilted his head to the side when she began again, only to stop suddenly. He focused on the way the blood drained from her face, leaving her a pale sickly sort of color, like she had white face cream on, that a clown might wear. It changed everything about her. Jim could actually see her shaking. She was clearly scared shitless about something, and now he was worried for her. Up until that moment, Jim had been sure that she not only hold her own in a tongue and cheek fight but a physical one too - just something about the way she held herself.
But now… whatever it was that had her scared well, it couldn’t be good, “Wait!” he called after her, suddenly feeling oddly protective of her, a stupid instinct he’d had as long as he could remember and always tried to snuff out, but never quite succeeded, “What’s wrong?” he asked, matching her pace again, “Are you okay? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
The look on her features was anything but amused, her eyes going from the painting of obliging and kind going to a stone-cold look. Perhaps he found this funny, but she did not. Money was never a funny thing to her anymore. She was supposed to be able to get jokes, though. She was supposed to be able to laugh at anything,
"You think you’re absolutely hilarious, don’t you? Just tickling everyone pink with your dandy words?" she replied, letting her hands rest pointedly on her hip bones.
She wasn’t going to deal with this punk-ass army kid. Her hand fished the wallet out of her purse. “Well, here,” she said, acting as if she were going to hand it to him, a crooked smile on her lips, but dropped it with a grace of a fish flopping on a deck. She stepped on it as she started to walk away again. “Use it to buy yourself a cheap prostitute so you can drown out the guilt of killing innocent people. What a hero.”
A scowl took its’ place on Jim’s face as he bent to pick up the wallet. He’d expected an outburst, maybe denial, but not this. Hell he’d dealt with pickpockets before -having been one himself as a juvenile- and in his experience getting what ever was stolen back either went with guilty (though perhaps false) tears from the thief, or violence. So this was new.
But that wasn’t what bothered him. No it was her last comment, and not even that, but the way she said it, spat it out, like she was better than him, like he was so much lower than her, who had just pick-pocked him. Sure he wasn’t claiming to be a righteous man or anything even close, but he figured in the scheme of bad deeds done, these two were most likely on equal footing.
"What you think I signed up for this? You think I want to kill people?" He shouted after her, probably getting himself a bit more attention from others than he would like, but he only lowered his voice when he was sure he had her attention, "And you think I like these shows? Sure most military men think these are a real hoot. Hell, they can’t get enough of em. But I see the women here and I think about how much more they could being doing if guys like these soldiers saw them as more than just a pretty face and a nice ass-" and okay maybe he was getting a little too deep here, but he had started and well, it was the truth. He hated showgirls, but not the girls themselves, but the people who ran the shows, "No. I hate this. Everything about it blows and I would much rather be back at my apartment, curled up on the couch with my boyfriend-" well shit he’d blown that. He just hoped none of the other soldiers had heard- he really didn’t care what she thought about that, "But I can’t do that because he’s a doctor and they decided they need him out on there and I haven’t seen his face in months and I don’t know if I ever will again!"
He took a brief moment to compose himself, standing just a little taller and enunciating his words just a bit more, “And I really don’t think you have any place to be judging me because you seemed pretty sure of what you were doing, reaching into my jacket, so I’m guessing I wasn’t your first mark.”
While Harley was generally smooth when it came to escapades of petty theft, it never failed to make her heart push in quickened tempo against her sternum.
At this point, she just wanted to leave. She hoped there would be at least enough in the wallet that she could get some cigarettes. Then she could offer a few to her boss, hopefully that would calm him down so when she told him how much money she’d made for this little gig, he wouldn’t be furious.
A gentlemen’s footsteps match her own, and she looked up to see a man with startling blue eyes looking at her. If she were a dog, her haunches would have risen, but instead she just smiled. She had almost made it beyond the crowd. Dammit. She stopped, the two of them lingering in the pushed over grass.
"Good evening, Signore," she greeted, feigning good-breeding. "You’re far too kind. Though, at least I know our worked paid off. You all deserve a good performance after what you’ve done for our country." They were lies that stung like wading into an icy river. She couldn’t help but feel bitter that the country was sending off all it’s able-bodied people when there were so many people suffering right here.
What else was she supposed to say to him? She kept smiling, her red lipstick rubbed off so only a feint pink remained. She buried the wallet further into her little bag that lay like a dead animal on her hip, before removing her and to look a little more natural. “I’m sure with a handsome face like that, if you return to the dance floor, there will be plenty of girls with long legs practically falling over themselves to dance with you. You deserve as much.”
"Now see," Jim started, smile hitching up just a notch, "I’m gonna have to disagree with that part- about us soldiers-" she was good. Very good. If he hadn’t caught her in the act, he would have no clue she had stolen anything at all, let alone from him, "And I’m sure you wouldn’t say they deserve a good performance if you knew them," he laughed lightly at that, though it was true. Most of the enlisted men were dogs. There were a few exceptions, a few real heroes out there, genuinely good people who were either
stupid brave enough to enlist themselves, or unfortunate enough to get roped in. Jim did not consider himself one of those people. Not that he was a horrible person per say, but he was no saint.
With a slightly mischievous glint in his eyes, he cocked his head to the side and maneuvered himself in front of her, “And while you are right about all the lovely young ladies out there, I’d have to say, they’re not exactly.. my type,” he wasn’t sure whether or not he hoped she would pick up on what that really meant, “However, you are something special and I would love to buy you a drink,” he paused as if letting her consider it, then added, “Or, maybe you could buy me a drink. You know. With the three dollars in my wallet that I assume is currently at the bottom of your purse?” He finished by offering her his most polite smile like he was one of those genuinely good men and he’d just asked her for an innocent dance.