Lovely Lady

"Okay," Elliot said, shoving his hands into his pockets as he surveyed the glass shards scattered over the kitchen. "What are you? Magician?"

Quinn frowned at him, surprising herself at the fact that she was a little offended by Elliot's disbelief. "That wasn't a trick," she said tightly.

"Then how'd you do it?"

She pressed her lips together, crossing her arms and looking down. "I have no idea."

Elliot's eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline. "No idea? Wow, that is promising. Peter, where the hell did you find this nutjob?"

"Nutjob?" Quinn screeched, nearly fed up.

As a few of the glass shards danced across the floor away from Quinn's feet, Peter yelped and Elliot hissed and recoiled, his nose suddenly releasing a small trickle of blood down his face. Quinn immediately shut her mouth and looked back to Peter, who was sporting the same bloody upper lip.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry—"

But rather than looking angry or confused like Elliot, Peter looked smug. "Still think it's a trick?" he said directly to his brother.

Elliot wiped the blood away from his nose, glancing at Quinn with wide eyes. "Do I really want to know what you can do?"

She swallowed. "All you need to know is that I can protect you. As long as you and whoever else is coming with you on the job are wearing earplugs and stay a good distance away from me, then you won't have to worry about being caught at the bank. Once you leave, though, you're on your own."

"What do you want?"

"A fair share."

"How do I know that I can trust you?"

"You don't. But if I go to the police, then I get stuck in jail with you, and vice versa."

Elliot crossed his arms, sizing her up. "Do you really expect me to believe that a girl just out of high school has the balls to rob a bank?" He smirked.

Quinn narrowed her eyes. "The bank you're planning on stealing from is the Wells Fargo branch on Lexington Avenue, which just happens to be part of the twenty-third largest company in America. A bank with that amount of shareholders is going to have some pretty tight security. You need one that's small enough to have holes in their security but big enough to carry large amounts of cash at all times."

She smirked right back at him. Having a banker for a father certainly had its advantages.

Elliot chuckled dryly. "Really? Okay, Bernie Madoff, which bank do you suggest?"

"T.D." Quinn said simply. "There's a branch on the corner of West 26th Street and 7th Avenue."

"And you know that off the top of your head?"

Quinn shrugged. "I camped out on the other side of the street for a couple nights. There's a Mexican restaurant there that ends up with plenty of leftovers."

"Well, why this branch? There's gotta be at least twenty T.D. branches in New York. Isn't there one in a less populated area?"

She shook her head. "No, you don't want less populated – you want crowded. The more crowded it is, the harder it'll be for the police to get there, and the easier it'll be for you to disappear. This branch is on one-way streets and in a school zone. If you hit it at the right time, when the buses are going in and out with the kids, it'll be easy to make your getaway."

Elliot gave her a strange look (well, stranger). "Are you sure you haven't robbed a bank before?"

After going to bed, Quinn fell into a deep, much-needed sleep and didn't wake up again until the middle of the next afternoon. When she did, the first thing she heard was a hushed conversation between Peter and Elliot in the kitchen behind her. She remained where she was, listening to their whispered debate.

"—can't you give her a chance?" Peter was saying.

"Because I don't know this girl, okay? She makes me uncomfortable, and I don't like having her sleep on our couch."

"Is this because she's homeless or because she knows about what you're trying to pull?"

"That, and a hundred other things," Elliot hissed. "She's on the run from the police, she seems to know a lot more about banks than a normal girl, she can do something really fucking freaky that I have no idea how to explain, and on top of all that, you have basically shoved her into the apartment."

Everything Elliot was saying was true, but Quinn was shocked to notice that she felt more worried about being back on the streets than she was about getting mixed up in a bank robbery. She stayed quiet, waiting to hear Peter's response.

"You're right," admitted Peter after a few moments of silence. "But do you really think that crossing that line is what's going to get you out of trouble with Ravanovich?"

"Yes. I know it'll only get me in trouble with the police, but at least that Russian bastard won't be coming after us any more."

"No, the police will."

"The police are predictable. They have rules they have to follow. Ravanovich and his goons would cut off my fingers without a second thought, and we don't have the insurance for that."

"Well, if you want to get away from the Russian mob and the NYPD, then you're gonna have to take Tina with you. I don't want to see you rot away in jail. I know what they do to guys like you. Armed robbery is five years at least, and that's for a convenience store. How long do you think you'll last if you get sent to prison over this?"

Elliot avoided the question with one of his own. "Why is it so important to you that Tina comes with us?"

"Because the guys you're working with are morons. They're bound to make a mistake, and that mistake is liable to get you killed unless you've got a safety net—"

"I wouldn't call her that," Elliot snorted.

"—and to me, it really doesn't matter whether you're shot by the police or butchered by Ravanovich. If I had my way, you'd be paying off the mob in a way that didn't risk your life—"

"There is no way to pay without risking my life," Elliot interrupted again.

"—but I know I can't talk you out of it, and you won't let me come with you, so you're at least going to listen to me on this one point."

Quinn could almost hear Elliot glaring at his younger brother. "You realize that you're asking me to use this girl's freaky voodoo power to commit a federal crime."

"Of course I do."

"There's a reason people are scared of things they don't understand, Pete," Elliot said lowly. "Whoever she is – whatever she can do – she's dangerous. I don't want anything to do with her, and I want her out of the apartment."

"You are not Dad," Peter snapped. "This is not a situation where you can boss me around like a kid."

"You are a kid, Pete."

"I'm nineteen, and you're twenty-two. Don't talk down to me."

Elliot's voice rose slightly. "Hey, who was the one who took care of you whenever Dad beat you almost to death? That was me, remember? Or maybe you were just too whacked out from the cigarette burns to notice."

Quinn forgot she was eavesdropping as Elliot dropped that piece of their family history, and she let out a small gasp. Their conversation died, and she could feel their eyes on her back. She relaxed her body and evened her breathing, hoping they would be fooled.

"She's not awake is she?" Elliot asked.

Peter paused. "No, I don't think so. It's been awhile since she's had a bed; I wouldn't be surprised if she kept sleeping until this time tomorrow."

Elliot sighed. "Okay, look, Pete. You're my little brother. I'm gonna do whatever it is that I can to protect you. Paying off Ravanovich is part of that, but bringing this Tina chick along for the ride is going to put everyone in danger, whether or not she intends it. Having her here is putting us in danger."

Quinn could hear Peter let out a long breath. "You're right," he said. "But we've survived for as long as we have by working together. We're a team, and you're not letting me do my part here. If I tell Tina to leave, then I'm coming with you on the job. If you don't want me there, you take Tina instead and I'll keep my mouth shut."

"You're giving me an ultimatum?"


There was a long, drawn-out silence. "…Okay. I'll think about it. But I won't promise anything," Elliot said finally. "I have to go to work. I'll see you later."

Quinn waited for another fifteen minutes after Elliot had walked out the door before pulling herself out of bed. Peter looked up with a grin from where he sat at the aluminum card table they used for mealtimes. "Anything interesting?" Quinn asked, nodding to the newspaper he was bending over.

"Nah," he said. "I just like the funnies page." He sat back, folding the paper up and holding it out to her. "You want it?"

Quinn smiled, accepting it and opening it up again to the headlines. "Feels like ages since I read anything other than street signs."

Peter stood to make a fresh pot of coffee as Quinn skimmed through the articles until she came across the crime report page and a small photograph caught her eye. Her heart leapt into her throat as she recognized her own yearbook picture from junior year, next to a small blurb about an FBI investigation surrounding a possible serial murder case. Swallowing, Quinn glanced at Peter, who was whistling as he stirred cream into his coffee. She quickly tore out the offending newspaper page, folding it a couple times under the table and stuffing it into her pocket as quietly as she could.

A/N: Please review :)