Gunshots & Groceries

April 15, 2018:

Lara Croft and Tom Judge run into one another on a New York street. Soon after they're assaulted by a Demonic creature!

Greenwich Village

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

CMX - Lara Croft - Sunday, April 15, 2018, 9:12 PM

It's late evening, and Greenwich Village is thriving despite the hour. While some of the more family orientated residents have long since gone home, there's plenty of students seeking enjoyment on the last day of the weekend, their loud, joyful cries counterpoint to the humming of traffic and the music spilling out from the various bars that service them.

One such bar — the sign swinging outside it so faded that it's earned the nickname the Nothing Bar — is certainly full of a variety of young folks, and also one slightly older one. Tom Judge certainly doesn't look like he belongs as he sways his way out of the bar, leaning into the wall beside the entrance as if to get his bearings, like some drunk confused about where he's ended up.

Any other day, that might be the truth and the entirety of the story. Tonight, though, he glances over his shoulder, and there's something set — angry and hard and maybe a bit fearful — in his gaze as he pushes away and staggers down the street, not really looking where he's going. Away is more important than the destination right now.

Lara was moved in in a house just down the street and around the corner, but because its a new place it meant it had NO food in it. So here she is down near this 'Nothing Bar' and at the grocery store that sits not far from it. The young Lara is paying for the groceries she's picked out and is stuff them into a duffle bag that she can then sling over her shoulder and carry more easily on her way home.

She's stepping out of the store about the time that Tom is drunkenly making his way by and though she doesn't really think anything of it beyond 'Thats New York for you'… the sudden realization that she recognizes him strikes her and she stops, turns and faces him… she starts to walk toward him.

"Hey." Lara speaks in that British flavored voice of hers. "You… you know Robert, right?" She asks him then, adding in. "Berresford?" Its him, she knows its the same guy she'd seen before on St. Patty's Night, she's just trying to make sure out of pleasantries sake.

Tom's reaction to such an approach is wholly out of proportion, unless perhaps you're paranoid. His whole body tenses, turning sharply to face her — and though there's no weapon visible, he looks distinctly like someone ready to attack with… well, nothing much at all. His hands are bare, though clenched, and they only release marginally when recognition flickers into his gaze.

"Right. Yes. You're that SHIELD agent that—" his gaze narrows, and eyes flicker up and down her. It's not sensual so much as assessing, taking stock. "Hrmph. Guess I won't apologize, you look in one piece."

Lara sees the man's less-than-stellar appearance in mood, but she isn't too afraid of it… she's seen a lot of angry men in her young life afterall. At his words she takes a shifting step from her right foot to her left, her hands are holding the strap of her duffle bag that is stretched down over her black leather jacket that is zipped up over a dark gray hoodie.

"Lara." She tells him. "Croft. And I'm not an Agent anymore. I'm merely a Consultant now. By trade I'm an Archaeologist and I'm working for the National History Museum primarily now…" Not that he cares about any of this. "Look." Lara continues, glancing HIM up and down now.

"Are you alright?" She asks, concern laden in her voice. "You look rather… distraught."

Any gentleman might see the heavy duffle bag the woman is carrying and offer to take it from her. Tom Judge does not. Clearly, such niceties aren't at the forefront of his thoughts.

"Tomahto, tomarto," he mutters, when she clarifies her affiliation with the agency. "Distraught? Hah." He actually says that, hah, rather than actually laughing — no real humor in his gaze as she gives him a once-over in turn. "No, I need to— you shouldn't be— oh for fuck's sake," he glances back down the way he came, and reaches out as if to grip her arm and pull her along with him. Of course, whether he succeeds is another matter — though he does seem to have an odd kind of strength to him at odds with his thin, wiry frame.

Lara's in the process of tilting her head at the man's curios behavior when he straightens up and reaches for one of her arms. She pulls back away from him, not knowing / or trusting him enough to allow such a contact without him forcing it any further (and if he's got super strength he'd find out she does not!). What she does do is follow him irregardless though, to see what precisely he is up to because if Lara Croft is anything, she's rampantly curious about strange situations / places / people… 'the unknown' fascinates her.

"You were at the bar, I assume?" Lara says over to the man. "Your name is, Thomas, is it not?" She asks him then while letting her brown eyes go from straight ahead of them over to her left TO him again. "What precisely are you trying to show me, because if its a bar… trust me, I've seen them. I've yet to be impressed by one either."

While Tom makes a vaguely frustrated noise in his throat as she dances away from his attempt to grab her arm, he doesn't push it. Instead, after a level look, he just starts stalking down the street, growing increasingly agitated as she follows. "I assume I have the so-called Curator to thank for the fact that you know so much about me?" he growls, briefly.

And then stops dead, head cocked as if listening, peering intently back down the way they came. "Not trying to show you anything. Trying to get you away. You go that way," he gestures, vaguely, down the street, "And I go this way." He points a different direction, and starts moving.

Lara stalks after the man with her booted feet clopping quietly on the concrete with their heavy rubber soles. "No." She says back at the man with a bit more sass in her voice now that he's all Grumpy Guss at her. "I found all of that out with my own resourcefulness behind me." She tells him. "I haven't seen the Curator since I stormed out of his place last. Robert hasn't asked me back ye—"

Lara pauses after he barks those orders out and with a stutter to her striding step she stops fully. "Wait." She says to him, concern now on her voice's tone. "Why?" She asks, her eyes now looking around. "You look distraught and… Oh god, what is it now?" She asks, knowing how these kinds of things have gone the past five months, she's starting to expect the worst.

"I'm not distraught." Of all the priorities Tom should probably have right now, his self image — or rather, Lara's image of him — probably shouldn't be at the top of the list. But it is, for a half-beat or so before another growl slips out from him.

"Just… go the other way. Forget you ever saw me. Forget my name." And then he's off, long legs carrying him down the street. She can see it, from where she is. See the street lights start to ''pop'', one by one, as he passes, darkening the area behind him — and eventually in front of him, too. An odd scent in the air, kind of like rotting eggs.

Lara doesn't need to be told to leave a would-be stranger alone more than a FEW times before she complies. "Fine." She softly says to him then, her hands sliding up the strap of the duffle bag stretched across her upper body. "Good luck out there." She adds to him before she turns to do just as he said, but she's going in her own direction. to the west where the street turns toward her home which was only a few buildings down once across said street.

Lara steps to the stop light, though there were no cars around right now, and she moves to cross. She pauses though when she hears/sees the lights going out ahead of him and she does smell that rotten scent on the air… but it could just be a bad sewage issue… right? This was Manhattan afterall.

Another growl is audible, but this one definitely doesn't come from Tom. It's guttural, deep and vibrating in a timbre of voice a human vocal chord could never manage. It's a noise that sets off all the primal parts of the brain, the fight-or-flight instinct. Whatever it is, it lurks in that pool of darkness. And it has prey to hunt.

Tom? He runs. Down the street, down a side-street, away from the pedestrians that still — even this time of night — move around, the barest glint of reflected light off the silver artifact around his neck gleaming as he does so. He takes a wrong turn — maybe a right turn — but ends up in an alley, backed by a fence twice his height.

Its not until that very non-Tom growl is heard that Lara knows there is indeed something supernatural at foot again. With a heavy sigh, Lara's head tilts side to side with weariness. "Do these things just constantly follow this man?" She asks no one, since she's standing there on the side of the street by herself now.

Lara moves to turn and puruse, she takes her duffle bag off and sets it down behind a palette of city construction equipment that was laying on the sidewalk (hoping thats enough to hide her groceries!).

And then she's off, chasing after to try to hel pthe grumpy-possibly-drunk man. At the mouth of the alley now, Lara turns. "Hey!" She cries out. "Thomas!" She shouts after him, now starting to enter the same alley that he had.

Whatever it is moves, perhaps thankfully, away from Lara, tracking — undoubtedly — the ex-priest she was so recently conversing with, cornering him in the alley. The streetlight might be out, but one of the overhead neon signs casts enough light over the figure. Seven-foot, perhaps, its outlines are blurred in a way that seems to make the eyes unfocus, though hints of the sharp points that protrude from it can be seen — as can the gleam of razor-sharp white teeth as it growls again and advances.

Tom's hand slips up towards the Rapture, gripping it. "You don't want to—"

The voice is unearthly, growled and kind of bypassing the ear and wiggling straight into the brain in a distinctly uncomfortable way: Give it to us, Thomas Judge. It belongs to us.

The ex-priest sighs, like it's a demand he's heard a thousand times before. Maybe he has. "Why do you always—" and then he breaks off, as he hears Lara's voice at the mouth of the alley. The demon hears it, too, whips around, and lunges towards her.

Lara Croft is decidedly not a 'Demon Hunter' by any stretch of the imagination, but what she is… is highly resourceful and likely one of the luckiest people one could ever hope to meet, at least in SOME capacity, some mutated form of Luck where you find yourself in situations such as this… faced with a wretched monster thats just now turning to look at you!

What can be taken positive from such a thing? Lara reaches into her black leather jacket and pulls it out, a fully loaded handgun will be enough for her to feel lucky here-in.

"Back the hell off." Lara tells the 'monster'. She's dealt with enough of them now in her life to not fear the stench or the growling or the… whatever else they may have. Lara aims the gun, right at its snout.

The weapon, such that it is, doesn't seem to phase the demon. It continues to lunge towards her, its breath is both hot and putrid — and she can feel it like a distant burn against her skin as it leans to snap at that oustretched hand, seeking to bite down—

"Oh no you don't," comes Tom's reproachful voice. Abruptly, the demon's yanked backwards, its jaw smacking down onto the pavement, the ashphalt underneath steaming as its pulled backwards by the ex-priest's grip on its leg. It doesn't last for long, the demon twisting away, turning its back to Lara as it lunches towards Tom, bearing the ex-priest down under its weight. Sharp teeth gnash and gnaw, trying to get at his shoulder as Tom strains to hold it off.

"If you wanted to shoot — now's a good fucking time," Tom yells.

Lara was waiting for a clean shot to fire, because she wasn't sure how fast this creature was and she had her gun aimed right in the generation direction that Tom was, so if she shot and It moved… well, she was trying to play it safe!

But then Tom's got it in a grappling hold and she starts to close the distance to run closer to them both. When he's calling out to her with his foul mouthed words she's running right up toward him and his Demonic Buddy and now she's leveling her handgun at the Thing's head and she starts to fire!

BANG!
BANG!
BANG!

Lara's sidearm discharges three shots! They echo out in the alleyway and have likely now alerted whomever it is that is close enough by to hear the gunshots!

A pained, stifled yell can be heard, moments before her firearm goes off. Three shots — the creature jerking with each impact, a guttural sound escaping it that is akin more to an unearthly, high-pitched noise. It slides sideways, but it isn't done — it moves, albeit with less speed than before, hissing hot, foul breath in Lara's direction: We will come back for what is ours. It edges back into the shadows and then… everything seems to lighten. The oppressive, horrible scent lifts, and lights begin to flicker back out on the street outside.

In the alley, though, Tom groans, one hand pressing to his shoulder, panting out a breath that only evens out as the creature retreats. His shirt is torn, something dark and wet visible there.

In the distance, sirens begin to wail.

Lara stares down the sights of her gun up until the Demonic creature dissolves and disappears just as suddenly as he'd arrived. A pair of seconds later and her gun is lowered back down to her side, with the trained precision of someone who was very well versed in firearm usage.

Lara walks to Tom, her left hand is offered down to him and she means to help him stand up but when the lights come back on there's enough illumination in the alleyway for her to see that he's…

"You're injured." She says to him. "Can you stand?" She asks, her eyes (and ears) going to the sirens as they draw closer. "There's help on the way, I can have them bring an ambulance if you need to wait here." She tells him in her thickly accented English. She tucks her sidearm back into her jacket then.

There's slight treads — imprints — on the ground that speak of the creature that's gone now; otherwise, it might seem a dream.

Grimacing, Tom reaches up to take her offered hand, a pained grunt escaping him as his weight shifts unevenly, his good shoulder thudding into the alley wall to keep him upright. "I'm fine," he lies with the ease of one used to self-delusion. More sharply: "No ambulance," the sharpness might be borne of something fearful, though if so, it vanishes a moment later, as his expression hardens. "Just— I'll be fine."

Once Lara has helped him to his feet she's turning toward the mouth of the alleyway, her eyes had been down on those marks on the alleys' floor… studied them as best she could, but there's pressing matters at hand here now.

"Well then we're going to have to get out of here quickly, because if the Police find you here injured you won't be allowed to leave without medical attention." She tells him, helping him exit the alley if he needs it.

"Do you have any idea what that was and why it so suddenly just presented itself here now? To us? What did it want from you and why did it want it?" She just assumes its him that the creature was after and not her, beause why would it be after HER, right?

The reluctance that paints itself across Tom's expression is muted perhaps by both pain — visible in a grimace as he pushes himself straight — and resignation as he accepts both her words and offer of help. He's taller than her by several inches, leaning onto her shoulder with one forearm. He has, perhaps surprisingly, hardly any weight to him, certainly almost no muscle mass to speak of, so it isn't an overt burden.

There's a paleness to him as he moves, as much, perhaps, for the pain as for the questions she throws his way. He doesn't seem apt to talk and yet — he owes her, on some level — which is why he answers, albeit with some strain of reluctance: "I do, and it's not the first, nor will it be the last. It's after — something I have," he says, managing to still the urge to reach for the silver double-cross that swings loosely from his neck. "Something I refuse to give up," he adds, with a determined growl.

Lara, on the other hand, is a mass of muscle beneath a lithe frame and he'd feel some of that even just using her for leaning support. "Right." She quietly replies to the man as they make it out of the alleyway. The cops are getting closer but they're on the main roads and there's still plenty of traffic there in the city that never sleeps.

"Look, my home is just down the street. I can take you there and you can get cleaned up, I'll tend to the wounds there as well as I have some first aide training." She releases a heavy sigh as she moves toward the spot where she'd left her duffle bag.

"I'll call Robert and tell him whats happened too, he may want to come over and have a talk about this." She adds before hoisting the bag of groceries up from behind the construction equipment. She'd then make for the cross walk to the calm and well-lit street that her new house resides on here in the Village.

All sorts of habitual protest springs to mind; certainly the tension on Tom's body can be felt when she mentions Robert's name. He's, oddly, perhaps — silent — straightening to ease his weight off her when she goes to retrieve her duffle bag.

When she straightens, Tom is gone — no sight of him in either direction. There goes gratitude for you.

END

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