Blind Leading the Blind

December 22, 2016:

Two people pretending to be things they aren't wind up in an orchestrated conversation for completely conflicting reasons.

Metropolis

Outside of the skyscraper headquarters of Hominis Nova, a scientific conglomerate.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Metropolis is a glorious testament to the forward-thinking ingenuity of mankind, and to the powers of stability and prosperity that can be wrought from the raw fabric of human nature, so long as there are enough guileless, selfless shepherds to guide that flock. Clean, beautiful, ambitious, but ambitious about a better future, rather than the kind of ambition that curdles, soured by greed and jealousy.

Nothing like Gotham, in short, which is where Six — that is, where /Kinsey Sheridan/ has been spending the majority of her time. She's grown to love that dark little urban crevasse for all of the ways in which its shadows can be used to take shelter in, and something about Metropolis reminds her too much of her days with the DEO: slick and perfect, unrelentingly excellent. The way her life could've been, if things hadn't happened to change the course she'd been charting, that meteoric rise to success.

It makes her look slightly uncomfortable as she meanders around the block in front of Hominis Nova, a scientific conglomerate. The building itself is untouched, pristine as ever, and most of the repairs to the rest of the block are on the verge of being completed, already: a string of burnt-out streetlights, a few spidering holes in the sidewalk where bullets missed their mark, and some long streaks and weals in the pavement, difficult to discern the nature of. By this evening, it will look as though nothing had ever happened here at all.

She isn't the only one milling nearby. The reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the thief, or the retrieval of the stolen item (or items?) is substantial enough to tempt most amateur sleuths out of hiding.

—-

Few would mistake at least one passerby of this only temporarily blemished corner of being a sleuth — amateur or otherwise. Matthew Murdock makes his way down the bullet-ridden sidewalk at a deliberative clip. His walking stick traces smooth, unhurried arcs; he may have places to be, the pace says, but to look at him, is it any wonder it's taking the man his sweet time to get there?

One might imagine he is oblivious to most of the striking attributes that mark Metropolis as a modern-day marvel, and that put Six just a little bit off. One would be wrong. Matt experiences atmosphere more viscerally than most, from the (largely) uncracked evenness of the concrete to the disquieting absence of noxious particulates in the air, to the density of sound that suggests a mass of humanity but is somehow absent of any of Manhattan's hurlyburly. He feels it, and it gives him a not dissimilar twinge of 'might have been' — a life lived sixty stories high — in penthouses and luxurious office buildings. A life he's just given up… for what, exactly? That part he's still working on.

But whatever it is, he expects it involves keeping one's ear to the proverbial ground, and scouting places where Bad Things are rumored to have happened, even when one's out of one's little city, neighborhood, and self-appointed fiefdom.

Tap-tap, tap-tap goes the walking stick on concrete, a meditative anchor-point as he reaches out with the rest of his senses to take in the space — and to take in other people taking the space, insofar as he can. Halting footsteps without obvious direction means people milling, and people milling may mean people mulling, and people mulling… may be on their way to finding /something/. Which makes it as good a time as any time for his walking stick to find a bullet-hole, to lodge there, and to let his custom-crafted glasses slide off his nose and onto the concrete.

"Shit," he mumbles under his breath.

—-

This being Metropolis, nobody tries to snatch up the glasses and run off with them. They'd have been gone in ten seconds if this had been Gotham — thirty on the outside in New York City, but here?

Inevitably, somebody is there to help. That somebody is Kinsey.

It's an excuse to start chatting someone up, start finding out what people might know. She's been unable to work up the courage to address any of the other people she can tell are loitering in the vicinity, afraid of coming off as awkward or forced, and though she's desperate for information, she's also leery of raising suspicions.

That this is something they have in common — this pretense — is not something she could possibly suspect.

"Oh— I've got it!" Stooping, she retrieves the glasses in two slim fingers, and as she straightens she turns them over to study the convex surface of the lenses, looking for damage that might have been done in the fall. "Well, the good news is that they don't seem scu—"

And then she actually /looks/ at him, the owner of these particular glasses — takes in the cane, the quality of the eyes — and feels like an idiot. "Scuh, um."

(Nice,) whispers the sibilant voice inside of her skull.

/Shut up./

"Well…here."

She hands them across, held out, and winces a little. He's blind! It's not like he can see them! But she can't bring herself to touch someone she doesn't know, not even to guide the glasses into one of his hands, so she stands there, paralyzed by her own awkward gesture.

/I am the dumbest genius on earth./

—-

She's got it, Matt hears, and allows himself a grateful smile that lights up his whole mug — even if his eyes remain fixed on some indiscriminate bit of sidewalk beside them. "Thanks," he's saying, with a note of apology, even before he hears the ever-so-soft 'tap' of fingers closing around the custom frames.

Of course he can tell exactly where they are; the bringing of her hand to a rest sent off whispers of air and sound that give him a near perfect pinpoint of where that precious prop hovers just feet in front of him. But he's too practiced at faking it all to lend her anything like a hand — and too much of a jerk to deny himself the twinge of amusement at the sudden awkwardness of the moment.

"And thanks for the confirmation," he says, tone quiet and wry, as he stretches out his hand, palm up. "If you hadn't, I'd have spent the next hour worrying I'd be walking into my meeting looking like a goddamn idiot."

—-

Relieved by the offered 'out,' Kinsey places the glasses carefully atop his outstretched hand, her exhale a long, roiling streamer of white mist in the frozen air. "Sure." Pause. "You, uh, might want to take a different route to work, though. The sidewalk's a mess today." She settles her weight into one leg, turns to look over her shoulder and down the sidewalk's length. "Work crews and would-be bounty hunters."

(There would seem to be no point in attempting to glean intelligence from this particular individual,) Five puts in. (He seems unlikely to have seen anything.)

The AI has no real voice to speak of, but somehow Kinsey hears the dry mockery all the same.

Reflexively embarrassed in spite of the full knowledge that he can't have overheard, she ducks her head, threads her fingers into the wind-tousled darkness of her hairline. Lashes tighten, eyes go distant. It's still not easy for her to manage the ongoing distraction of her mental houseguest, and it has her on the back foot.

Some part of her remains distantly aware that she'll have to explain that behavior, the awkward silence. "I'm— I shouldn't call them that. I mean. That's why I'm here, too. Glass houses, right?" The self-consciousness colors her laugh, which would otherwise be whiskey-natural. On other occasions, it comes easily and often. Today?

Today is weird.

And her ribs are still on fire with the memory of having been kicked in by some masked vigilante. So there's /that/.

—-

Pauses go noticed by Matt more than they do by most, but he makes no comment on this particular one. Instead, he makes use of it to fix the crimson-tinted shades back to their proper place. "Yeah, I heard the work crew; it's usually not a problem for me…" Matt is saying as he cants his head in an understated parody of her look-around the corner. He brings his walking stick point down on the cement in front of him, grasping it in both hands.

A beat, and then his dark eyebrows shoot up. "Sorry… would-be bounty-hunters? I heard there was some trouble last night. Metropolis has crime beyond the bizarro kind — who knew?" That smooth, fair brow crinkles with something like incredulity. "And are you saying -you're- a would-be bounty hunter?"

—-

Kinsey winces again — of course he can manage on his own, can't he? Blind people aren't helpless — but it's a passing thing, fading into the general background noise of her discomfort. She's on the rebound now.

He may not necessarily be able to see the amused, arch quality of her smile, but even a blind man without any of his particular talents could /hear/ it in her voice. It's expressive by default, and only the moreso when she's at play. "What, is that so surprising? Hard to believe? It's a lot of money, you know. I think most of the people out here today are just like me. They're not professionals, but they can see a few good uses for twenty thousand dollars in late December."

—-

Her question sparks a smile — quick, boyish, winning — and a few silent shakes of his shoulders. "Well, now that you mention it, a February trip to St. Croix sounds fantastic," Matt offers wryly with what is surely a mock-surreptitious look around a space she's certain he can't see. "And I feel like I'm already on a lucky streak with that first stumble. So. What is it that people are looking for, anyhow? It was a lab break-in, as I heard it."

But as he's talking, he's listening, and smelling, and feeling the quality and content of the air. In short, he's doing what he does: forming a mental picture, however impressionistic, of the space built from waves of sensation.

—-

"I haven't seen a beach in years," is her wistful reply, wreathed in shared humor.

Momentum gathers on itself, and Kinsey feels the rest of her catch up to the pace of the conversation, earlier stumbles all but forgotten. She is nothing if not adaptive.

Leather — fake leather, actually — creaks as she shrugs her shoulders, sliding her hands into the front pockets and turning where she stands in order to look up at the shining white monolith of Hominis Nova.

"They're not saying what it was. Everybody's tight-lipped. Someone up the street was saying to a friend that they bet it's because it was classified, but I don't think so. Actually, I…" She slants a look at him, eyes pale as dilute honey assessing his inscrutable profile. "…well, I know people who work in the building. Former colleagues. /Peers,/ I mean; they worked here and I didn't, but…academia…" She lets the silence hang, filling in for judgement or explanation, and then draws a deep breath, lashes flicked to narrowness, gaze upturned again to the skyscraper. "Anyway. One of those friends told me that it was the gene-mapping laboratory that was robbed. So it's probably not classified — just private." Her close-lipped smile is feline, relaxed. She tilts his way just enough to frame a moment of sidelong confidence: "People get very touchy about the security of their genetic material."

—-

She turns towards the building, but he remains roughly in place; it's a quirk of the visually impaired, that inability to mirror the position and posture of others. "Honestly, the only beaches I've ever been to were Coney Island and the Jersey Shore, but St. Croix always had a nice ring to it," Matt quips.

But then he's listening, listening, listening, lips bent musingly downward. His aforementioned ability to mirror must not be -wholly- compromised, to judge from the way he tilts his head ever so slightly sideways to accept her confidence. "Huh," he says eloquently after she's done, and for a moment it might seem like that's all he has to say about her arch monologue on proprietary genetic material. It's a moment longer before he muses: "Classified, private. Any IP lawyer will tell you that when people who want to keep something private have enough money at their disposal, it amounts to the same thing. Whoever did this is probably courting a world of trouble… and not from would-be bounty hunters like us."

The toe of Matt's leather shoes finds the hole where his walking stick tripped him up, tracing its edge with the rounded tip of the toe. "Anyway, I'm not in IP, but I spent enough time in that world to know that most acts of corporate espionage don't end up with bullet holes on the sidewalk."

—-

She watches him from beneath those screens of lash, evaluating, all shreds of her former, interior disarray entirely absent. 'Us,' he says, and one of her brows arches in readiness for her to make wry inquiry, only for him to go on speculating, and her attention is drawn downward, following the minute shift in his posture to its origin in the toe of his shoe.

"I'd guess it depends on the corporation. Or maybe on the project. But you'd probably know more about that kind of thing than I would, hm?" Her smile is as white as the flaking snow starting to trickle down out of the leaden overhang of low-lying cloudcover. It's reflected back at her in the lenses of his glasses. She finds it disconcerting.

"You said 'us.' 'Bounty hunters like us.' Does that mean you're thinking about throwing your hat in the ring, Nameless Attorney?" The smile grows, captures something sly, a tease, flirtatious without serious intent: "If you decide you are, and you catch the bad guy, don't forget who gave you that little bit of insider information. You'll owe me a cut."

—-

The flirting tone prompts a mild thrill of pleasure and a note of internal resistance at once. Mostly it owes to the way in which their conversation began. This just-recently christened vigilante may not be above feigning vulnerability to gather intel, but Matthew Murdock categorically does not — whatever Foggy's baseless accusations — use his blindness to 'meet cute' women.

All the same, he lets it play out a little longer at least, allowing himself a smile here, an almost bashful duck of his head there, and even a swallowed chuckle. "Sounds like a sweet deal for the mysterious insider," Murdock quips back, resting both palms on top of his upright walking stick. "Maybe, /maybe/," he allows, "if this super-secret information you gave me actually demonstrably led me to finding this missing McGuffin, I could see it. Just as if I were to help you find a lead that panned out. Reciprocity."

Another sudden smile, and then, with a mock-wistful note: "Of course… taking bounties on thieves and stolen goods as a side gig sounds like it'd be bad for word of mouth at my day job in criminal defense."

"I'm Matt, by the way." His top palm lifts, extends into empty air for a handshake.

—-

"Who doesn't like a sweet deal?"

He ticks over into bashfulness and she looks /well/ pleased with herself, guilelessly satisfied. This grounded, earthier aspect is very perceptibly more her default state of being; a personality like a comfortably well-worn pair of jeans.

"You're probably right about your career, but you know. People love unexpected heroes. You never know."

His held-out hand is filled. Hers is slender, but her grip brisk and firm, the sort of handshake that knows its way around meetings populated with People Of Importance.

It's also entirely inorganic. If there were any question before, that's settled immediately. But it's an astoundingly /good/ fake: there's heat, cushioning, the appropriate texture, the movements of joints natural, the articulation perfect. But it's too /dense/ at the core of the thing to be real. Even someone especially sensitive within mundane spectrums of perception might notice, but for Mr. Matt Murdock, it's plain as day, from the sense of the lightweight alloys involved to the whispering complexity of the systems contained therein. No pneumatics, no shifting hydraulic fluid. Electrical, likely.

"Matt. It's nice to meet you, Matt the Lawyer. I'm Kinsey." After a beat, riding on a small laugh. "The mechanic. These days, anyway."

—-

'People love unexpected heroes,' she says, music to his ears that plays to buried hopes almost certain to be dashed. He doesn't expect love for the path he took his first tentative steps towards last week, or even believe he deserves it, but wouldn't it be sweet? A little bit of grace.

And… then she's taking his hand. The first impressions are what you'd expect — the texture and quality of the skin, its dimensions and its grip — all filled with minuscule details he uses to create a clearer picture of the slip of a red shadow standing before him. Those other impressions come milliseconds later, striking him like a splash of ice-water to the face. Not that he reveals much in the way of surprise; he's no master poker player, but blindness has the habit of turning most facial expressions into matters of performance rather than accidental visual cues. If any surprise is conveyed, it's only in the way his firm, warm handshake may linger a fraction of a second longer than custom requires.

(Not that his own hand doesn't tell a story, still subtle but far more visibly than her own. A few cuts faded on fingers, a yellowing of the skin around knuckles that could easily be faded bruising. He'd wear gloves, especially given the cold, but for Matt Murdock that would be akin to walking — well, blindfolded.)

"It's nice to meet you, Kinsey the Mechanic," Matt says after dropping her hand; the tone is still warm, the engaging smile still holds. Neither is difficult, he finds. If anything, the tell of her disability has piqued his curiosity.

(It /is/ a disability, he's sure. She's not some /robot/ mechanic, no matter how much weird shit goes on in Metropolis. He can hear her heartbeat, the inhalation, exhalation. Right? Right?!)

"These days, you say," he says with a cant of his head, keeping the tone feather-light. "Where once upon a time you were working in the same arena as some of the people in there?" A glance, then, towards the towering office building beside them.

—-

Heartbeat, breathing: present and accounted for.

When he releases her hand, she slides it back into her jacket pocket, shoulders lifting with the magnitude of the long breath she takes in preparation to answer his question.

Glittering hazel eyes drop to the sidewalk, wander over the pockmarked surface with its periodic encrustations of ice.

"Sort of," she says, candid. "Not exactly. They're the private sector and I…was…in military applications. An adjacent arena, I guess." Distance slides a thin mask over her expression, memory playing out behind it. "I come from a military family, but I wasn't really soldier material, so I went to work at Picatinny Arsenal in Jersey as an engineer instead. Worked on vehicles, mostly. One thing led to another, and eventually I wound up working for the D.E.O. Knightwatch R&D, specifically."

She puts the toes of her wedge-heeled boots together, considers them, and then lifts her head again, smile coming up along with it. It's wide, open. Infused with subdued enthusiasm. "It was great. Kind of a dream job, especially for somebody my age. Had my own lab and everything! But, uh…" Her smile slides sideways toward gentle regret, tempered by the resilience of acceptance. Her shrug is small, but she's too caught up in what she's saying to care much that he can't see it. "Well, it's dangerous work. There was an accident. Not their fault. You sort of accept the risks when you're working at that level. So…"

There is a brief moment in time where the flow of her thoughts stalls out, as though it had coasted out over a deep crevasse of nothingness. "Anyway. They took good care of me! A nice severance package, enough to set up a garage, and now I can set my own hours on the days when the migraines make it hard to think straight."

The pause is filled by her sucked in breath, the self-deprecating sigh that follows. "That makes it sound worse than it is."

—-

The revelation that she was D.E.O. sees Matt's eyebrows shooting up over the rounded rims of his glasses, though the fact that it surprises can't exactly shock. It is, after all, an exotic branch of the bureaucracy. But beyond that, there isn't much in the way of visible reaction to her story. Matt's a good lawyer, which means he's a good listener, accustomed to letting a narrative spool out without inserting his reactions or questions into it. That comes later.

"I'm sorry," Matt says when she's finished, a clean and forthright expression of sympathy. He's received enough of that particular sentiment in his life to be able to dish it out deftly. "That's a rough turn, no matter how you say or slice it. It sounds like you got a lot out of the work. But I'm glad they did right by you afterwards. Your shop's here in Metropolis? How long have you been open now?"

—-

She accepts the condolences the same way most people do, with a smile, a small nod, another half-shrug. Done is done. We make the best of the lots we are given.

Etcetera.

His question leavens the tone of the conversation by winning a sudden laugh, like sunshine spilled across cold concrete. "Oh, no. They didn't do /that/ right by me. No /way/ could I afford the rent here." A trickle of dark hair slides from behind her ear, slashed across one cheekbone. Ignored for now — her pockets are warm, her hands cold — but she tilts her head to try to encourage it back and out of the way. "Gotham. Waterfront. I still get a lot of my business from Metropolis, though; people here are more likely to need a specialist. The square footage I needed to accommodate personal aircraft, though? Yeah— no. No way."

—-

Matt's expressions are more often than not muted: a gentle, deliberate tone, a laugh seen more in the parting of teeth and the shaking of shoulders than heard. He's not generous with either, broody young man that he can sometimes be. But she wins both here, in a clear softening of the dignity and reserve he's assiduously cultivated to protect himself against the world's scrutiny and judgment. "Personal aircraft?" Matt asks archly. "Jesus, Kinsey! What kind of garage are we talking about here? Sounds like something to see." That last part is said with just the faintest whiff of irony.

"I hear you though on the square footage and real estate, though," he adds wryly. "My partner and I are trying to hang a shingle in Manhattan. /Trying/ being the operative word."

—-

Sounds like something to /see!/

The broad, proud dazzler of a smile remains, but Kinsey turns her head and eyes him sidelong, as though factoring that brand of wit into her general assessment of his persona. Not disapproving by any means, but accumulating information.

"So you're both newly setting out with your own private practice, then?" She slashes her gaze over him, searching for indicators in his attire. She needs to be better at this, better at details, better at interpreting them. "I can't pretend I know much about your field, but I'm gonna hazard a guess that it won't be long until you're a smashing success. Law seems like one of those fields where it's useful to be good at keeping people off-balance." Shades of coyness, layered into the curve of her mouth, the tilt of her chin.

"I'm probably keeping you from that meeting you mentioned, though, and if you're just getting on your feet, I'd hate to be the reason you made a poor impression."

—-

The attire is simple, conservative, /lawyerly/ in its color scheme. A charcoal wool top-coat, heather grey jacket and trousers, a slim navy tie. But each item has a textured depth that would, likely, be interesting to touch. Each item is off the rack, but well adjusted and neatly pressed. The oxfords that just twenty minutes ago tripped him up are a rich brown — beautifully patterned, slightly scuffed. Whatever she sees, what it shows is diligence, concern for detail… and a willingness to ask for help now and again when need be.

"Newly minted members of the New York and Jersey bars," admits Matt wryly while she's giving him a once-over. She's proud and beaming about her new place in the world; he's all good-humored self deprecation. "Anyway, it's kind of you to say; here's hoping."

He sucks in a breath and lets out an audible sigh. "As for my meeting," Matt says in a minor key of genuine regret, "the impression's already made, unfortunately. This would be an apology tour — but you're right. It's the kind of thing you can't be late for."

And her coy observation? That is accepted gracefully, with just a quirk of his lips at their edges, but otherwise unremarked upon — save in the way he seems set to prove her right with what happens next. "It was nice running into you, Kinsey the Mechanic," he says with another quick smile, "I don't know if you're hopping in a supersonic military-grade jetplane off to Gotham or not, but I'm in town for a few days at least. Visiting some friends, eating a little crow. Can I give you my number? In case you feel like sleuthing, or coffee in between sleuthing."

—-

This time she's open with her previously internal appraisal, the weighing of this perfect stranger and his intentions. Her mouth opens, closes. Her eyes narrow, and her head tilts over to one side, like that might give her a better perspective on a face subtle by nature and rendered that much more opaque to her by his condition. She isn't hurried about it.

"They didn't let me keep any of the keys," is what she says, presumably of the supersonic military-grade jetplane. It's something to add to an indecisive silence that would otherwise have stretched the conventions of polite conversation to the breaking point.

(What does he want?) Five's voice is a whisper across her cerebral tissue, silk and lightning.

/I don't know. Coffee?/

(Is this a good idea?)

/Maybe. What if we need a lawyer someday?/

(That's defeatist thinking.)

/Or realistic./

She waits, but there's nothing more. Disapproving silence, maybe. It's still too soon for her to always be sure.

Her nod starts very slowly, but eventually resolves itself, decision made. The smile is apologetic, perhaps because of her obvious hesitation, but of course she's offering it to a blind man, isn't she? This is going to take some getting used to.

"Sure. Yeah. Thanks. But I might as well tell you, you've learned everything interesting there is to know about me already. I spend all day up to my elbows in somebody else's vehicle grease."

—-

It's the strangest dance in the world, but one Matt has become well practiced in. That polite /waiting/ while the perfectly-sighted person you're speaking to rotely offers visual cues. Though with Matt there's an even deeper, more absurd layer. He /can/ see at least the broad strokes of those cues, fun house mirrored though they may be, and must pretend to wait until the person across from him realizes their 'mistake.'

/I'm such a fucking con/, he thinks as he wills himself not to betray any outward sign of relief at that nod. It's not the first time he's thought it, and it likely won't be the last.

Which isn't to say that he doesn't feel a note of apprehension as he waits for even that nod — even for reasons beyond the obvious. So when she /does/ say yes, there's no trouble mustering up yet another smile. "I'm ninety-nine point nine percent certain you're wrong on that count," Matt says gamely, and with more conviction and cause than she has any reason to suspect him of having. "But worst case, and you're right? It'll just be a short coffee. Let me know when you're ready."

Because, obviously, he couldn't see if she has her phone out.

—-

He says how certain he is, and Five flashes, an intangible agitation. (I don't like this.)

Kinsey, for her part, can't tell if Five is being paranoid or not. The AI was designed to pick up on patterns that she herself is still only struggling to be cognizant of— but then, it's processing those things through the imperfect filter of her biology now, isn't it? Doesn't that introduce some layer of fallibility?

Truth is, she doesn't know, and neither does Five. It's uncharted territory for everyone involved.

"I'm ready."

No phone. /That/ benefit of Five is well-established, at least. Memory retrieval, /data storage/…

It has its uses.

—-

Her answer brings with it another test. /She didn't take her phone out/, he says to himself, in an inward monologue admittedly nowhere near as complex or fraught as her own. That means either one of two things: she's a genius with a knack for instantly memorizing numbers, which given the background she laid out for him is at least possible… or she has no intention of memorizing it and, because he's blind, doesn't even have to pretend to take his number.

And as humiliating as the latter prospect would be, he can't help but admit that it would serve him right, being caught in his own game. And in truth the stakes aren't so terribly high, so what else is there to do but give it a whirl and see what happens?

"XXX-XXX-XXXX," Matt says, somehow still affably. "I'm in town through the weekend, so just shoot me a text." The smile widens at its corners. "I'll be able to read it."

—-

"Got it."

She ought to say something here, flirt a little — why not? She would with literally anybody else — but the place they are, and the reason she came here, and the way Five is acting all work in concert to put her off of letting things travel down that easy, ever-so-metropolitan route. She doesn't know whether or not she needs to be cautious, and not knowing guarantees that she'll probably have to be, anyway.

Still warm and friendly, though, even if she does sound a little bit bemused. "My number's a Boston number, so if you see that six-one-seven — you'll know who it's from."

Gilded eyes take a last survey of his impossible-to-read face. The smile tells her even less than his neutral expression, because it consumes the entirety of what's visible! Which, in a sense, makes him a puzzle, she supposes. And puzzles /are/ interesting.

Oh, what the hell. Maybe it'll be fun.

"Good luck at your meeting, Matt."

—-

"Nice town," Matt says of Boston. /Irish/, he thinks.

"Anyway, I'll be just fine," Matt says with a mild shrug of his shoulders, despite his obvious mixed feelings about his next appointment. He straightens himself and stretches his walking stick back out towards the ground before looking back in the direction her voice last sprung from. "/You're/ the one who needs it, bounty-hunter," he quips. "Enjoy the chase."

And then that stick is making its brisk tapping back and forth along the concrete as his footsteps carry him down the sidewalk, past the yellow warning signs, and into the thick of the crowd.

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