Arleen spent her day with her head in the clouds, musing over the stranger she had met. She couldn't tell if he was handsome in his own right, or if it was symptom of being lonely. She managed to get out of work a little earlier than she normally would have. She was the type to spend all day long pouring over her work, and not getting out of the firm until well after dark.
She lived beyond the city, in Malibu, on a small beachfront property where she could scream bloody murder from the roof and not be heard. She'd never had a problem, she always gave her everything for her clients, and had been lucky enough to have avoided any backlash for her kindness.
She had enough time to shower and do her best to get her hair to behave, getting herself into a little black dress and accenting it with long silver earrings and a thin necklace that fell into the exposed dip of her collarbone. The only makeup she bore was a hit of eyeliner to make her eyes stand out just a bit more than they did naturally.
No matter what she did to one of her curls it refused to tuck away, so she gave up and allowed it to frame her face as she pinned back the rest of the front of her hair with a silver clip. Most of her hair continued to keep to her shoulders, but the clip kept her hair from being a complete mess. Lucky for her it was the summer as well, as she didn't really need anything other than the dress.
47 was prompt as he always was, not that she could know yet. He had been completely absorbed by her, something he chalked up to not knowing what it was like, to actually bask in someone's company. It was so rare that he interacted with anyone he wasn't going to kill, and there was something about her that hooked him in, something that made him feel things he didn't believe he could, and he had only known this woman a very short time. Though he remained on the fence with her. He wanted to kill her for his own sake, she was too innocent, too quiet, and he feared what she may be. However, when she greeted him at her front door he could find nothing to tell him she was something to be wary of. There were no hidden weapons on her person, he would have been able to spot that in a second. It was almost aggravating that she wasn't trying to kill him yet, if that was her plot.
She was laughing softly, utterly enamored with the fact he was just in a different version of what he had been wearing earlier. "Decided the white shirt red tie ensemble worked so well you should wear it again? But, not the same one," she observes, one of those delicate hands catching the end of his tie, studying it. A warmth moved through his chest and down into his stomach at their closeness, at her touching his tie. For some reason, he was allowing it, despite his distrust. In fact, he was almost looking forward to the next time she would grab his tie as her fingers slid from the silk.
47 further finds himself frustrated at the fact her dress is considered modest, but it shows enough of her skin, which pleasantly surprises him in that it appears to be freckled all over, that he instantly wants to know the rest. He can see her collarbone, the necklace and earrings serve only to show off her pale, thin neck. Easy to kill her, to get his garrotte around her neck. And yet, the last thing he wants to do to her in this moment is kill her. He can only see just above her knee, and though the freckles are lessened they are there just the same.
"How was your day?" she asks as he is admiring the width of her hips and his icy eyes zipped up to her warm ones. "Long," he answered, his lips curling away from his teeth in amusement. She laughs a soft, sympathetic laugh. "Aww, but you're on vacation," she whispered, pouting to him. He tightens his eyes against the quiet sexual desires flinging through his mind and body at everything she does. Not knowing a woman's touch or company, everything she did seemed to send a jolt through him. He'd never had a vacation, and as he was squeaking out of his mid-30's it was time he enjoyed life before he faced 'retirement'.
Those powerful shoulders of his offer her a shrug again, and now she's biting her bottom lip. Is she blushing? She is, and he finds the way her freckles disappear into the rosy color as fascinating as he finds the freckles themselves. They're getting off track and he wants to get them on their way or they're likely to never make it.
"Are you ready then?" he asks of her, unconsciously leaning into her, just a bit. She smells like berries and vanilla and while it's difficult for him to get a lock on her actual scent he's enjoying the scent of her perfumed bodywash. She's taking in his scent as well, even as she busies herself with the locking of her front door. He smells like blood, gun metal, black powder, and a multitude of other rough scents. In the end of it all, however, he smells dangerous. And yet, she still accepts his offered arm without hesitation, allowing him to lead her to his car.
She's surprised by the amount of muscle he has under his suit, and he's trying desperately to keep her from feeling the gun at his side. He is experiencing something human and good and he doesn't want it ruined. He doesn't want to see a look of fear on her face.
She remains blissfully unaware, and settles into the passenger seat with a whisper of thanks. He isn't great at small talk, but he realizes he never asked about her day, so he returns her previous question and allows her to speak most of the drive. He doesn't find it dull, even as she is doing her best to make her day out to be. Court hearings and vague explanations regarding her current cases that she dealt with today. He is more than a little amused at her clear disbelief that any of her clients could possibly be guilty. It also dares him to hope that she wouldn't respond poorly to his work, though he isn't ready to drop that knowledge on her just yet. Why he keeps considering things as yet confuses him, but he can't help it. Which, in it's own way, is terrifying. He is used to being in complete control. There is something refreshing about it, and so he allows it.
She's dainty and polite, submissive in a way, and it scrapes at the most primal parts of himself, yet at the same time it reminds him of the scars on her face, the ones he can see so much easier as he holds the door open for her. He's annoyed at the swell of protective desire that floods him, but he never shows a tell. The restaurant is some Italian place, and 47 has to remind himself the people here wouldn't speak Italian. He's too used to Italy, too used to having to speak every different language and dialect in order to fit in seamlessly.
The food smells almost like several of the restaurants he frequented in Italy, though the patrons are decidedly not worldly, despite how much they clearly thought they were. He glanced to Arleen and realized she must not have traveled far, she seems quite taken by the mingling scents of bread, pasta, tomato, cheese, basil, and wine. He places his hand on the small of her back once the host offers to lead them to a table. 47 takes the time during their walk for him to sweep the place as he always did. No one was too close to the table they were being led to, which pleases him greatly. The restaurant was on the gaudy side, the carpet a bright red, cream walls with a lot of green, trying to create a colors of Italy feel.
Arleen finds herself taken by his unintentional charm, and she's all smiles as they settle into their seats. It's no five star place, but Arleen prefers it that way. She's very humble that way, and he admires it. Humility is something he is severely lacking in. Though he is humble enough to admit his fallback, so it's progress.
The silence between them is strong, and penetrative, but thankfully their waiter is quick in showing up with two glasses of ice water. He's thin, the type of dime-a-dozen man out here near Hollywood but he just doesn't have a distinctive enough look to him. 47 does take the time to observe the old injuries that are visible to him. A break to his arm, likely something that happened when he was a child, but 47 is able to pick up on it with ease.
He feels refreshed that Arleen doesn't simper and fuss about what to order. A seafood ravioli in a creamy tomato sauce, and 47 can't help but find something amusing about it. Despite not knowing much about her, other than what he can deduce and what little she's told, for some reason it suits her. He's bland in his tastes, he has been trained to be, so he orders a standard spaghetti without a thought.
"So, you never did answer why you picked Los Angeles to vacation in," she whispered after their waiter had left them again, her slender fingers playing with the condensation on her glass of water. She pulls her hand away when she realizes she is fiddling, tucking that stray curl back out of her face. It doesn't take long for it to return to her jaw, and he fights an amused smile at the annoyed look on her face.
"You know, I'm not sure," he admitted, smiling enough to show his teeth to her. "Glad I picked it, however," he offers, dragging his voice to a whisper just like hers, even though she seems to be perpetually whispering. He feels triumph in her flush as it covers her cheeks, but he doesn't get much time for silent gloating, their waiter bringing by bread and distracting the two of them.
She picks at her bread right away, treating it just like she had treated the croissant that afternoon. 47 tips his head as he observes her with his penetrative gaze. "Was that half eaten croissant the only thing you ate today?" he asked gently, studying her careful hands.
She glances to him, and his eyes automatically shoot up to meet hers, and she smiles gently, unperturbed by the gaze of the killer across from her. "I'm normally much better about eating," she promises, answering his question in the most round about of ways. Oddly, it doesn't anger him.
He offers her a chuckle, and he feels that unfamiliar warmth sink into his chest again as she wrinkles her nose at him. He keeps her talking about her work as best he can, and gives vague answers when she asks after his career. Their food doesn't take long to show up and he finds himself further amused when she remains just as dainty as ever, despite how hungry he knows she must be.
With food in front of them their chatting dies, but each find the others presence more than enough. Once he can see her starting to slow he asks, "Why Malibu? You seemed to find the idea of just vacationing here funny, yet you live here." He points lightly at her, his fork prongs down in his pasta, his hand curled over the handle until he's done speaking and then he returns to the proper hold to continue eating.
She perks at the question, listening to him with an interest he's never seen directed at him. She flushes and again tries to tuck away that thick curl, and again fails at it. "Well, I love the ocean. I don't think I could survive away from it. And I don't like the cold," she explained gently.
"There are other places that fit that bill, and they're better than here," he pointed out, his tone matching hers in how gentle it is, which he hates but can't manage to correct. It seems unnatural for him to speak this way, and yet the desire takes over when speaking to her.
"Yes, of course there are, but Los Angeles has a good crime rate. I do still need work," she bantered in return, her eyes crinkling. He feels so torn yet again over that expression, over the scars he can now see no matter the lighting. He wonders if it will ease with time, and then instantly berates himself. This isn't a lasting thing. In fact, he should kill her when he gets her home. Secluded, quiet, no one would hear or find her until she didn't show up for work.
He decides to give her a 'you win' expression, shrugging his shoulders and making a non-committal noise. She mirrors it back playfully and he can't help but smile for a moment. She smiles brightly, happily, as she catches his smile. He finds it so intriguing that something so simple and small brought her such instant joy.
He manages to slow his eating enough for them to end roughly around the same time, but even still she shoots him an apologetic look. He waves off her concern with a silent wave of his hand, and he's pleased to see her muscles loosen in response. "You're ready, then, Arleen?" he asked of her, savoring her name on his tongue.
She nodded, begrudgingly allowing him to pay for the meal, something she is clearly unused to. 47 makes note of it, and tells himself he'd fix that before again berating himself. He offers her his hand to help her out of her chair, and once she's on her feet he moves her hand to the crook of his elbow. She follows him with ease, as if they'd done this a thousand times.
He finds himself nervous again, worrying over her and her odd acceptance of everything. He sets his mind to it, he'll kill her when he gets her home. He'll make it quick, he doesn't want to second guess himself on this. In his line of work, in his life, he doesn't have the luxury of second guesses. Everything has to be right the first time, no questions asked.
He's so focused on how exactly he's going to kill her that he makes the fatal mistake of not paying complete attention to his surroundings. All he feels is the faintest of tugs to his arm, but it's enough to snap him out of his thoughts and as he looks to his side he locks his eyes onto man who had popped out from the mouth of an alley they were walking past. A cheaply made Glock 19 knockoff in one hand, and Arleen's forearm in the other.
His heart rate spikes for one moment, but resettles almost instantly to keep his mind clear and focused, a lesson from his childhood training that always did him well. Confusion is what hits him next as he realized Arleen never made a sound, other than to suck in a deeper breath of air. She still isn't, her mouth and airway were clear, she could be screaming her head off now, but she isn't. In fact, she doesn't even seem all that scared for the moment, though he can see her trembling at the feeling of the gun pressing against her cheek.
Something close to fury replaces the confusion. His anger is a scattered mess, anger from being so distracted this happened, anger that of all people to get some sort of jump on him it's a druggie looking for a fix, and even more he's angry at Arleen. She still isn't screaming, she isn't calling for help. In fact, she seems to be whispering to the man she is pointedly not looking at, trying to sympathize with him. She isn't even looking to 47, she isn't begging him to save her, not even silently.
This man has no idea what storm he has just brought upon himself, no clue what man he just angered. And still he's demanding money while 47 can only stand there, startled by the sheer stupidity of the man before him, and the faith Arleen seems to have in this madman with a gun. The man in question is growing confused, why isn't this well dressed man jumping to the defense of the woman who is clearly his date? He glanced to Arleen as if to find some form of confirmation and that's when 47 struck.
He knew each gun intimately, a knockoff was no different. His hand shot out to catch the man by his hand and gun, twisting his arm down painfully, already working on disassembling the pistol. The parts of the gun end up scattered before the man can finish his yelp of surprise and pain, and all he is holding is the empty, useless body of the gun.
Instantly he releases Arleen, and the gun, and attempts to slug 47 in the face with a good right cross. 47's arm shot up, blocking it with the outside of his forearm before twisting and lowering his hand, catching the man's wrist. His anger is growing higher, this is ridiculous and he, frankly, doesn't have it in him to deal with a lowlife like this.
With a firm grip on his forearm he smacked his hand over his mouth, twisting his arm and jerking it down, dislocating the shoulder with practiced ease. Even though his screech of pain is muffled, 47 doesn't want to even hear what little sound does make it past his hand. He grabs the man by the back of his neck and using his new grip on his head he drags him down to drive his hardened knee into his ribs.
The cracking of bones finally pulls a sound from Arleen, but it's nothing more than a very small gasp, her hands going up to her face for just a moment before her hands stretch out forward. "Malcolm, Malcolm, stop. You could get murder if you don't stop," she begs of him, her eyes wide. Whatever fear is in her voice isn't due to the situation, isn't caused by the faint indent of a gun in her pale cheek or the darkened hand mark around her arm, it's for him. 47 glares at her, completely confused. He's ready to kill a man in front of her with his bare hands and her only worry seems to be regarding what charge he could possibly get if found out.
One sharp kick to the knee is the last blow 47 bothers to land, dropping the man like a hot stone in the stinking alleyway. Arleen's shaking hands find 47's arm, and she clutches onto the fabric. He coos at her, unaware of himself doing it, but he tugs her away from the alley and back for his car. Still she isn't screaming, she never begged for her life, nor begged for him to save her. This woman couldn't hurt a fly. She truly is just an innocent, trusting, naive woman, and nothing more. He tucks her curl back for her as he finally gets them to his car. "You're alright, now," he promises her gently, his hands shifting to her biceps to try and settle her down.
Her petite hands find his lapels and she tucks herself against his chest, her nose pressing into his chest to one side of his tie, her breathing hard with her fright. His hands awkwardly curl and uncurl, held in the air where her biceps had once been. He slowly drags in a deeper breath, easing his hands onto her back, as if fearful the very touch would burn him. He can hear her whisper something about calling for an ambulance for the man, and 47 unintentionally scoffs lightly at her. "An ambulance? A man just held a gun in your face and you want to get him medical help?" he questioned, tucking his head down so he can almost see her face.
"He's likely in a lot of pain right now," she whispers, as if that makes it better, as if it forces it to make sense. 47 presses his lips into a tight line, smoothing his hands away from her back, catching her jaw and coaxing her away from his chest. It only works so well, her hands clutching at his well fitting white button down, one hand half tangling into his tie again. Something about her grip on his tie makes his knees weak, and he glances around to please her, though why he isn't sure.
He's in luck, however, there's a group of men walking by the alley and 47 calls to them, "Oh, my god. Is that man alright?" The young men spot him and instantly spring into action, but 47 is drawn back to Arleen against his chest. She had flinched when he raised his voice, and now she's looking positively sheepish and she's drawing away from him as if embarrassed. If he wants to get them out of here before they have to answer any questions, he needs to do it now.
She studies him, watching those powerful looking shoulders slump into a loosened position. She can tell, he isn't relaxed, he hasn't been this entire time. She gives him an innocently curious look, but it seems to only churn his stomach, as he's looking away from her now. She can almost see the tattoo of the barcode on the back of his bald head from this angle, as he gestures into the car. He turns that sharp gaze onto her once again and she feels her chest constrict. "Your mugger has been taken care of. Shall we?" he asks of her, offering her his hand.
As she slides her slender hand into his large, warm palm he brushes his thumb across her knuckles, wanting to confirm what he already knew. Regret and guilt fill him as he realizes she is likely shaking because of some type of fear of violence, or maybe it went as deep as to be something relating to post traumatic stress. The mere idea made his insides boil, and again he chided himself for getting so invested so quickly. Though, he's never felt a touch like hers. He's never been spoken to as she speaks to him, never looked at how she looks at him. It's humanizing, and he relishes in it.
He helps her into the car, she's still weak kneed and shaking, and he just wants her to calm down. He sucks in a deep breath of the salty night air as he steps around the car, rubbing at the side of his clean shaven jaw. Arleen can't help but study the way he walks, he moves with his hips, as most men do. But there's something so different about how he does it, the full, loose rotation of someone who is flexible, yet there is a tightness in other areas that Arleen can tell are injuries.
She can tell he's guilty of something. Arleen can always see that guilt, the look of someone who had taken lives or tortured someone. He had done something to someone living, that much she knew. But Arleen always stuck to her guns of innocence. He glances her way when he feels her eyes on him as he starts up the car and his brows furrow over his intense eyes at the almost sympathetic expression she's sending his way, however it's wiped away from her face before he can completely register what he saw.
His frustration grew subtly and he got them headed off, back for her secluded house, the house he won't be taking advantage of. He just can't, she's sitting there with her hands pinned between her knees and her body curled slightly as she does her best to understand what all just happened, and it hurts some part of him. He forgets that people aren't used to guns, though he knows better than to assume she isn't used to violence. He wishes he didn't.
He's so lost in his thoughts that the drive seems to go by in a flash despite taking nearly a half an hour. It's her hand on his arm that pulls him from his thoughts and he turns a bit last minute into her driveway, placing his silver Audi next to her green Jaguar. He steps around the car after tugging the keys out of the ignition, going to her side and helping her out.
As soon as she can she sucks in a deep breath of ocean air, and it all clearly calms her. The sea breeze can be felt from here they're so close to the ocean, and as 47 licks his lips all he can taste his salt. He focuses on her for a moment, and she's breathing deeply and trying to relax herself, and it appears to be working.
She's focusing on everything in the world around her. His tie flapping in inescapable wind, the waves, the sea on her lips and the light mist hitting all of her exposed skin. She's pulled out of her almost meditative like state as a car zips past going near 80, and her eyes slowly open. It was only a short while, not even half a minute, but 47 enjoyed each second of her, the wind in her hair and tugging the material of her dress. "Let's get you inside," he offers her, one large palm cupping her deltoid.
She allows him to lead her for her quaint little home, looking at the door as she finds her keys. She hadn't shared space with someone for so long since her husband, and she never realized how empty her home seemed. However, the door is open quickly, too quickly since his warm, powerful hand is on the small of her back. She turns to view him, almost eye level as she steps up slightly into her home. Between the porch and the heels, anyway.
She studies him, taking in the way his muscles are formed, his hands, the way he stands tall and proud, and she chides herself for not seeing it before. He has to be military, and she nearly rolls hers eyes at herself for not picking up on something so painfully obvious. Everything made much more sense, suddenly, and she smiled to him subtly.
"Take care, Arleen," he said, his blood red tie snapping in the wind, though he keeps in mind to pin his jacket to his sides with his arms as to not show off his illegal double holster and silverballers. Arleen smiled more in return to him. "You're still here for a week, right?" she questioned, her small hands clutching onto the jam of her door, leaning out of her home a bit.
His cold eyes meet her warm ones and he nods silently to affirm, and he watches a slow smile take over her face yet again. "Would you be... interested...," she offers pathetically, a flush bleeding across her cheeks and down into the modest cut of her dress. This finally pulls a smile from 47. "I'd love to," he promises, smiling even more as her smile grew at his answer. He had been fighting with himself between asking her out a second time and not. He had her card after all. But he found himself glad she had taken the first step.
"Lunch then? Tomorrow?" she asks, tucking that stray curl back yet again. 47 chuckles, and it's a strange, warm sound that even he isn't used to. Arleen can tell he isn't used to making it, and again she feels a pang in her chest, a desire to make him laugh more often.
"Of course. Perhaps I can get you to eat something more than a croissant," he teased softly. He's not used to teasing and joking, but he is in no way opposed to the idea of doing it more often. He can see it in her eyes that she knows he isn't used to this, and he is relieved at how she is taking him in stride.
"Goodnight, Malcolm," she whispered, her smile warm and gentle. 47 smiles again in return, he can rarely keep himself from it, it seems. "Sleep well, Arleen," he returned, bowing his head and shifting on his heels so he again faced the driveway. He glanced over his shoulder to make absolutely sure she had closed and locked her front door before he slid into the leather drivers seat, starting up his engine to drive back to the hotel room that for the first time in his life is piercingly empty.