47 was happy with the reprieve he was finally given. He had a week of time off thanks to a quickly healing bullet wound to his side. He could easily have protested the idea with a scoff, and a wave of his hand, he would have his next mission. The idea of a break from his life of the same old routines performed in a never ending string of hotel rooms was attractive to say the least, so he accepted.
Since so much of his time was spent in Europe he decided to go to the least European place he could think of; Los Angeles. With it's bustling crowds and self-obsessed people he could easily blend in. Despite being on vacation, his guns remained in their holster. Even with the left pistol rubbing against the stitches hidden under his pristine white shirt, he didn't shift to accommodate.
His choice of cafe was dictated by his ability to be well hidden should there be a sniper around, and there being just the right amount of patrons. It wasn't overcrowded and it wasn't barren. Perfect for him to blend in. He was further brought to ease with his choice by the warm scent of coffee and breakfast pastries that entered his senses as he stepped inside, escaping from the smoggy city.
A few minutes, and dollars. later and he was able to relax into a seat at a small table, his back facing the wall so he could keep an eye on the entire world around him. He scanned the cafe as he did each new place he entered, making a note of all exits and all possible weapons.
The shop was like any other in America, everything a shade of items from the baristas. The walls were a milk-foam cream, the floor tiles alternating in a rich coffee color and a milky tea color. All the tables and chairs seemed to be a shade of brown, from caramel to nearly black for trim and frames. The windows were large enough to see through, but they didn't let in a blinding amount of sun, even being in Southern California in the summertime.
His eyes fell on a woman a short distance away, enthralled in her book with her hair down and catching the light of the sun. He had meant to do a quick sweep of the place, and he finished his task but found his eyes drawn to her again. Everyone else was dull, boring, too focused on typing away on their fancy laptops, or reading their electronic books. Some were rudely chatting on their phones, but 47 knew well what to expect in Los Angeles. What had drawn him back to the woman was the fact she was reading an actual book. He hadn't realized how almost rare they had become until he noticed she was the only one handling actual paper.
Her small hands tug carefully at a chocolate croissant, as if she would hurt it by pulling on it too sharply, sticky bits of melting chocolate just barely coat her finger tips, catching the flaking crumbs of her meal. Her black house coffee mirrors his, and her expression is that of a small, adoring smile, as if the book she is reading is something dear to her. And 47 can't help but find it odd, how she wears her skirt suit and manages to look so soft, so small and vulnerable. His suits make him look so sharp, so powerful, that the idea that someone can look as she does leaves him dumbstruck.
There's something beautiful about it, he decides, his sharp blue eyes taking in her features as he curls his hand around his mug, his middle and ring finger shifting into the space of the handle. From the way her nose wrinkles at something within her book, to the tentative manner in which she sucks the chocolate off the pads of her fingers. So intent on her book, and the manner of her cleaning so innocent, it ends up not seeming impolite.
She glances up then, right as he is about to look away, and he's caught. His eyes lock with hers, his mug brushing against his lips as he was about to take a sip. She smiles, however, the corners of her eyes crinkling. Even from here, 47 can see faint scars. Blunt force, likely with a fist, and his eyes instantly look for other signs to determine what the story is there, but her voice pulls his eyes back up to hers without hesitation.
"Long week, hmm?" she asks of him, and her voice is softer than he believed it would be. It's automatically kind, gentle. She slowly rests her chin on the back of her hand, a bit of chocolate still clinging to her thumb and middle finger, and he takes the chance to observe her knuckles. No damage, no callous. Whatever happened, she never fought back.
As his eyes return to hers she realizes something is off about him, but she can't place what it is. It doesn't startle her, and she's happy to lean forward a bit, studying him and that single splash of color via his blood red full windsor knotted tie. It makes her smile a little larger, exposing a few teeth and causing her nose to wrinkle in her own amusement.
She takes the time to study the strength in his jaw, able to see just how developed the muscle is thanks to his shaven head. She is desperately trying to figure him out, in these few moments as she observes him, watching the subtle shift of his arm to allow the coffee past his lips.
47 is thankful, in this moment, to have gotten as much social training as he had. He smiles politely, taking his sip of his bitter coffee before slowly lowering it. "Long few years," he returned, his voice holding a gravel to it she didn't fully expect. It's a rough voice, one not used to endearments and warmth. For some reason, it causes her heart to drop a bit.
She responds with a laugh, however, getting rid of the rest of that pesky chocolate before tucking some of her curly hair back. "I know the feeling," she admitted, straightening her posture. She rests back against the back of her seat, and he finds that she manages to look even softer. He has to laugh to himself, but thankfully it seems as if he's laughing at her words.
"Any reason why you picked LA for a vacation?" she asked suddenly, though it doesn't seem demanding. His head tips just slightly and his eyes narrow a little, but he plays it cool, leaning forward and pinning his tie with the fingertips of one of his hands. "What gives you the idea I'm vacationing?" he asks in turn. He's trying to be coy, that's how you act with women, right? His training was basic, made for blending in. He knows how to joke with another, but it's a fractional small-talk skill, at best.
At this closer distance she can spot a mark under his left eye and it tugs a small smile from her lips. "Oh, that's easy. You're not in the business district, but you're dressed with a tie and cuff links, yet no briefcase," she said, tapping her own at her feet with the side of one of her t-strap heels.
His eyes flash to her briefcase and he glances back to her for a moment in something akin to awe. He covers himself directly after with a shrug of his muscular shoulders. "Very astute. Admirable quality," he complimented, but turned it right around on her. "I'd wager you're a lawyer," he said, nodding his head to her. Her heels were sensible, her suit was tailored but it wasn't high end like his were, nor was it tailored to hide anything. A simple suit of charcoal with a purple dress shirt, something she easily could have gotten off the rack.
The woman smiled, holding her hands in the air as if unarmed. "A. C. Makem, criminal defense. But seeing as we're not in a professional setting, feel free to call me Arleen," she introduced. Her unarmed position had made some deep part of him twitch, half an itch to draw his weapon automatically, half in despair that, even playfully, she put her hands up in surrender towards him. He had seen many people make that exact posture, but something about it coming from the soft woman before him gave him an odd sick feeling.
He washes it down with a sip of his coffee, though something still remains there. "Malcolm Tatcher," he offered to her, unconsciously copying her posture. He also couldn't help himself from copying the smile that grew on her face.
"It's a pleasure, Malcolm," she returned, her nose wrinkling up again. She is clearly a very open person, very trusting. Most women would have bared their teeth and sneered in disgust to catch someone watching her, and yet she was happy to greet him for it. Perhaps she was lonely, he wondered. There was no ring on her finger, in fact there was no jewelry to speak of. However, there's something about the way she looks at him, there's nothing desperate there, nothing longing and gasping for any possible companion. No, she merely just was a genuinely friendly person.
"The pleasure is mine, I assure you," he whispered, unaware of the lowering in volume in his voice, but he just found himself taken by the way her nose wrinkled when she smiled as she did. His blue eyes locked onto her bright hazel eyes and he licked his lips to gain his courage. "I'll be here for about a week. Would you be interested in dinner, perhaps? If I may be so bold?" he asked, surprising himself with the sudden request. But her way of treating everything was so damn refreshing he almost couldn't help himself. Besides, if this were to be his vacation he wanted to take the time to actually relax.
She smiled another one of those genuine, eye crinkling smiles. As much as he was, already, growing fond of them, they made his stomach churn. It was only when she smiled in that particular way that he was able to see those scars on her milky, freckled skin.
She's unaware of his scanning. She's smiling politely, and genuinely, sure, but within her mind she is fighting a battle. She hadn't been on a date since she and her husband were still in the spring of their marriage, and that was nearly a decade ago. She hadn't been alone with a man who wasn't a client of hers, in any capacity, for 6 years. But she's trusting, foolishly so, and the loneliness within her wins out of any reservations. So she agrees with a slight nod of her head. "I'm free tonight, infact."
He brightened a bit, his posture straightening. She's smiling again and it's so sheepish yet bright it tugs at something he thought had been completely squashed by his childhood. His smile is completely genuine as he returns it to her, his heart racing at the idea of doing something normal, something human, something that wasn't dictated he do by the Agency. "Does 6:30 suit you?" he asked with an almost shocking level of tenderness to his voice. A part of him catches himself and warns him to just kill her once he gets her alone.
He's almost dead set on the idea until she hands him her business card and he sees the fact that she has her home address written on it. This vulnerable little soft woman before him didn't stand a chance. He wondered just how she had managed to survive for so long, his pale eyes lifting from the cream colored cardstock. "You shouldn't have any trouble. My house is the only one there and it's right by the highway," she offers pleasantly, innocently.
His jaw is slackening a bit and he wants to shake her, ask her if she's trying to get herself killed. She can't be ignorant to the darkness in this world, not if she's a criminal defense lawyer. Not with those scars on her face. She knows damn good and well. And he can't figure out if she is offering misplaced trust, or if she is merely foolish.
He doesn't get much time to further dwell in her presence. Her phone is vibrating in her jacket and she quickly swigs down the rest of her cold coffee while she glances to her watch before checking what message she just received. "I'm afraid my lunch is over, Malcolm. But I look forward to 6:30," she offered, smiling a warm smile in his direction.
Without thought he returned the smile, and the slight wave. She cleans up her area with courtesy he isn't used to, and he observes her as she leaves. Her step is confident and he wonders if she isn't all innocence and naivety. Part of himself warns that he's being paranoid. The other half reminds him that paranoia has kept him alive this far.