The White Rabbit

January 19, 2019:

Lena attempts to get something from Billy. Free is never free.

New York City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"Sir," a man calls out before casually jogging up and toward Russo. In training sweats and little else, the man offers him a respectable nod and waits for his attention. A slip of paper in his hand.

Billy looks up from his desk, it is chaotic but neatly organized. Large stacks of paper resting on every spare inch of desk space, his double monitor setup casting a slight glow on them even in the daylight permitted by his large open windows. Looking up at the man waiting just inside the door to his office, he rises smoothly straightening out his spine. Fixing his suit until it hangs on his athletic frame perfectly he steps gracefully around the desk and holds out his hand for the slip of paper.

"Yes?"

"Sorry to interrupt. Just a call in for you, sir. Someone requesting a service." He explains, offering out the slip of paper. It was simple, something from a legal pad, yellow in hue and the scribbling there was quick, brief. On it was three words. Armor. Cash. Cold.

He looks at the note with a small smirk gracing his face, his eyebrow quirking as he looks over the rather brief note. "Well that is interesting, can't say I was expecting that." He does a good job of keeping the positive expression on his face, but it looks a lot tighter than it did before and his eyes have something of a dangerous look in them.

"Do we have any contact details or anything attached to this?"

He waits for his man to leave, his his hands slam down on his desk. "How the fuck, we used illegal gear, full face masks, modulators…"

"Some cafe in Midtown. Another offer was a bar in Hellskitchen. Times were Friday and Saturday, one day for each, noon for Midtown and Midnight for Hellskitchen." He explains, pulling off and leaving the man alone once he was dismissed.

"Well at least she had the smarts to make it public." He shakes his head before he waves his hand towards his man. "Dismissed."

Finally he manages to slump back into the plush looking leather chair behind his desk, his hand coming to his brow for just a moment before he places it back down on his keyboard. He quickly types out a series of emails gathering everything he needs organized for this meeting and the everyday running of his business.

"Bar it is, at least that way I might have some fun when all this shit is done."

When the cafe is a bust, the snow bunny is quick to resort to her second location of choice. Punctual, early, even, she slips into the bar and takes up a seat at its counter. A few glasses in, she nurses an amber liquid, her frosty eyes lined with jet bouncing off all the faces in the room, a glimmer of curiosity in them. She was dressed in normal(ish) attire, an odd mix of Goth lolita and 90s grunge. No visor, no weapon (or none seen anyway), and her massive parka rests under her rump for added comfort.

Billy is punctual if nothing else, he doesn't exactly fit in here with his rather expensive looking suit and matching overcoat. He looks around his eyes just drifting over the crowd before settling on Lena, she at least is hard to miss. His hands go to the buttons of his suit, making sure it is all arranged perfectly before he makes his approach.

"Thought it would be you. But I really wasn't too sure. Your message was just a little vague. How did you manage to figure out who I was anyway. I was pretty sure I had covered just about all my tracks."

"Enough cash makes people talk. Don't worry, I don't know your name or anything, just a way to contact the Gatekeeper of Hades." She explains, looking his way and giving him the once over. Another swirl of her glass, she takes a sip and sits back. "I'll buy you a round. What would you like?"

"Well if I had known that I wouldn't have shown you my face now. Guess I have a few holes I am going to need to plug up. Guess you won't make it easy for me and just tell me who spilled the beans?" He leans on the bar and offers her a rather charming smile before moving to sit down every one of his movements fluid and graceful.

He turns and leans so his back and elbows rest against the bar, his eyes once again wandering over the crowd casually. "You know if you want to keep your cover maybe you shouldn't dress so similar when you are on the job. Or are you one of those new age types that like to be seen and known?"

"Whiskey, neat. Preferably not bottom shelf."

"Don't say that. I like the face." She offers up with a playful smirk pressing at her dark lips. Her back remains to the crowd, focusing forward instead. "What he said," she comments to the tender regarding his drink, remaining silent until they are 'alone' again.

"I'd be a terrible person to give you that information straight up. Besides, I'm here to do business with you. That's nicer that bashing skulls I'm sure." Pause, "Sometimes." Looking down at herself, she smiles. "I don't care who knows. I am who I am, a mask doesn't change that for me."

"Yeah most people do." He chuckles for a moment, the sound rich and at least sounding happy. "Yeah I wouldn't rat out my guy either, doesn't matter. I'll figure it out eventually. They were told the importance of discretion. I am sure you can appreciate that." He turns to take his drink as it is delivered taking a small elegant sip his features relaxing just a little as the liquid runs down his throat.

"Yeah I like who I am too, so much so that I don't want to deal with myself being in prison or dead. Depending on what vigilante or cop ends up tracking me down. Hell I don't even want one of the nice ones to find me. My face is just too damn pretty for that kind of shit." He runs a hand through his short cut beard. "So you going to tell me why you contacted me through these channels. Must have sucked up some real time and effort."

"Way up your ass there, aren't you?" She chuckles, looking down into her glass and watching the ice move around, clinking melodically. "Mmm, I do understand discretion, if I didn't, I wouldn't have looked you up the way I did. Long story short, I like how you work. It's almost as lovely as that face. Almost." Sipping, she shifts slightly on her seat, crossing one leg over the other, letting a heavy soled foot bob idly.

"My time? No, it was worth it. You should know what I want, I gave it in my message. One slug is one too many for the likes of me, and two is over doing it. What I have isn't enough. I can't make my own."

"Yeah, maybe I am." Once again he laughs warmly, the laugh melodic and the smile charming. "But then if you are told something almost all your life? Well sometimes you just take it to heart I guess." The smile stays almost stuck on his face, lighting up his eyes and truly bringing life to his already handsome features. "Well I am just about the best at what I do, and I only hire the best to work with me. They aren't as pretty as me unfortunately."

"It was a little vague, but I got at least a little idea." He shrugs slightly, taking another small sip of his drink before continuing. "I don't know why you would come to me though. I thought you types had all your own guys. Using all that otherworld metal or whatever the hell else that us mere mortals can't really get our hands on. I only have what you saw, milspec gear. It's good, it'll stop bullets but…"

"Us mere mortals? Why do you think I'm asking for that type of protection if I were something else?" She inquires gently, downing the rest of her drink before chewing on a few slivers of ice. "Mmm, well, I don't have that, or I wouldn't be asking. Not my town, not my people." A pause, "Never had people, but that's not here nor there. Easy question, can you or can you not do anything about it? If not, I'll go hunting elsewhere."

"Catch term for all you supervillian or hero types. Or do you think I should put Batman in the same category as some asshole with a hockey mask and a golfbag full of blunt instruments? Both vigilantes. Both Mortal. Entirely different categories." He shakes his head again, his hand steadily brining his glass back to his lips for another measured sip. "Way I see it you had one of those cold guns, that puts you in the other category."

"I can do something about it. I don't have heaps of the illegal stuff just lying around, but I have to keep spares for my guys. Afterall they don't last forever. Think your look might be ruined by a full plate carrier, but I am not your fashion advisor. However much you may need one."

"Thank you. I suppose." She fishes out another cube, slipping it between her lips and pocketing it against her cheeks. Allowing it to melt, she looks at his back using the mirror behind the bar. "Something will work. I just need something extra is all. Work it around and under her threads." Giggling, she bites down, forcefully, on the cube in her mouth. "Well sweetness, some of us blend in while others stick out. Maybe it's a confidence thing."

"Yeah guess you are right, no matter where I walk in everyone looks at me. I walk into a bank and everyone knows what I am there for immediately. I walk into a place like this and even while sitting next to another woman, people still won't stop throwing looks my way." He smirks "So yeah I guess one of us does like to blend in a little, while the other likes to be outstanding."

The smirk fades from his face so fast, you would think you had imagined it entirely if you hadn't been looking at it only a moment ago. "But if you are looking for lighter weight protection, I have some things that you could use. Won't stop as much as my own gear. But it will stop pistols at point blank and most shotguns and rifles at a decent distance. Hurts like a bitch when you get shot though, but I guess that is always the case."

"Already hurt like hell," she tells him, the bruises still on her back from their first encounter. All joking aside and witty banter about who was more 'outstanding' has left the girl's lips and train of thought. "I just need something more than I have. That's all I'm asking. Tell me where and when, a price tag, I'll get you what you need. Easy as that."

"Yeah no matter what vest you wear getting shot always hurts." Billy shakes his head before polishing off the last of his drink with a small grimace. "Although if you want a vest that can fit comfortably under your clothes, well. They have to be thin, which means there is not a lot between you and the bullet. So it will hurt about as bad as it can. Without you know, the bullet hitting meat."

He considers it for a moment before swiveling in his stool leaning his elbows forward on the table hunching slightly over the bar. "I can get you something, basically the best you could get. Secret service type stuff. Don't worry about paying me, drop in the sea. Focus on doing a good job. You'll make a good distraction for me one day. Cops always swarm when people in their cute costumes come out."

"Mmm." Studying her glass, she presses it away, turning her head to look behind her before finding his face in the mirror across from them both. "Ooo, a freebie. That usually comes with debt, or a 'first tastes free' kinda thing. I'm asking someone else for harder stuff, but that's costing me a pretty penny. I'll accept what you're offering, though. I need it now, development can wait."

Smirking, she giggles softly and slumps her cheek into the cradle of her palm. "Aww, look at that. Telling me I don't look good and then calling me cute? Do you need another drink?"

"Like I said drop in the ocean. Besides this isn't how I make my money, I am not an arms nor an armour dealer." Billy shakes his head again looking at his own face in the mirror offering himself a wide smile "No debt. Like I said, I'll be able to use you, and you won't even know it. Won't even have to change what you do in any way shape or form."

"I don't know, maybe I need less. If you went from looking not so good to looking good normally that means I need to drink less." He smirks before turning away from the mirror turning his warm expressive eyes towards Lena again easily catching her gaze. "But maybe I could buy you one."

Quirking a brow, she looks over his face, lips pursing. "Funny. I'm whiskey cute and you /still/ want to buy me a drink? I…like alcohol, but not sure I like it enough to accept a slight insult." Sitting back, she takes a breath and gives another glance around the slowly dying bar. It was a slip pass midnight, after all, and this wasn't a club.

"Where can I pick up my gear? When?" She asks instead.

"You sure? I know I am already beautiful, kind of want to see what someone calls me after they have had a few drinks." He pauses for a moment before sliding his glass away from himself. "Actually I really don't I know the answer. It's usually bastard or asshole." He smiles again before standing up, rebuttoning his suit before smoothing out the already smooth fabric. "Well this is normally the part of the night when I ask when you are free next. But not this time, I know a bar across town, nice place. Tomorrow night wear something pretty."

THE NEXT NIGHT

Turning to face him, she leans back on the bar and smiles gently. "You think I'm just going to go with you? Show up at some white-collar show looking sweet and pretty?" Shrugging, she looks off toward the bar, flagging down the tender. "I could use a rebound. Give me the name, I'll get something nice."

"Never said you had to look sweet. Place is called White Rabbit." He smiles as he turns away. "I'll see you there, around nine alright?" He walks towards the door his gait confident and strong, smiling at a table of rather desperate looking middle aged woman as the night in this bar comes to a close. Got to give them something.

'Nice' means many things to many people. For Lena, who wasn't exactly a fan of the upper crust (given her own background) the invitation to some 'nice' place was an invitation to dress in something more fitting than her Cold gear. The name was all she needed to decide which threads to lift and from where.

Arriving on time, earlier by ten minutes actually, she slips out from her care of choice and pays both fare and tip. Turning, she facing the location, the drape of white brushing along behind her steps as the rest of her outfit screams burlesque masquerade. Hugging the arctic fur of her jacket around her cheeks, she smiles smoothly and makes her way toward the door of the building.

The White Rabbit really is a bar in name only, outside is a valet service and most people entering are referred to by name. Billy Russo arrives at the bar at nine sharp, hard to break habits after you leave the military. He makes a show of his arrival all the while managing somehow to make sure that the whole thing isn't scripted to impress. Natural charisma at its finest. He closes the door the the Rolls before smiling at the valet, handing him the keys alongside a crisp hundred dollar note.

Billy smiles with a shake of his head, clear humour etched across all of his features. "Well maybe I should have said sweet as well. But well it is a little too late now." He can't wipe the smile from his face as he nods to the doorman, showing him something in his wallet before handing him some cash before they are let inside. She does not exactly match the other ladies or gentleman inside, but she at least matches the decor.

He leads them off to a table in the corner, one with a clear line of sight to the front door and the kitchen.

"Why look like everyone else?" She asks, slipping into her chair only after pulling off her small coat and draping it over the back of her seat. Down, she inhales, her eyes casting around the room, offering almost sarcastic smiles and winks to those staring their way.

"You look like a cut out, more so here than back in the kitchen. But…I guess if you're looking to gain friends, it's better that way, hmm?"

"Lucky for you I like to make a scene, and tonight at least I am counting on it." He smiles at her before nodding to a waiter, one who quickly makes his way over with a rather expensive looking bottle of white dinner wine. "And most of the people in here, at least the old money? Well they already think I don't fit in, so me bringing an obviously expensive prostitute here? It makes a scene without seeming out of character. It is perfect really."

He smiles at her sardonically "It's not about fitting in. It is about looking the part. If I ever see you again I'll take you to somewhere more my speed. You might be surprised."

Lena blinks and then finally starts laughing. "Oh, prostitute hmm?" Brushing her hand down the front of her corset, she smiles and shakes her head. "I didn't think they were classy anymore, to be honest. But if that's what they want to believe, they can." Glancing at the waiter, the bottle and then across to Billy, she rests her elbows on the table, cheek in palm as she had the night before.

"More your speed? Then why the hell are we at a place like this?"

"Hey don't look at me!" He holds up his hands with a smile and easy humour. "Just saying what they will see. Honestly I like it. At least it is honest. Most of the women here? They wish they could be like that. But oh the scandal!" He fakes a faint, the back of his hand resting on his forehead as he swoons.

He nods to the waiter who quickly pours a couple of glasses, waiting to be given a nod of acceptance before fading away into the background as he is trained to do giving them their privacy. What little there is to be had at least. "Well first off I was curious as to how you would act and what you would wear. Not everyday you get to go out with a supervillian, even for me. And well you didn't disappoint on that point. Straight out of a comic book. " He shakes his head "But second and perhaps most importantly, I needed an alibi and a distraction."

"I see." She says at length. Sitting back and then around at the 'bar'. "I'm not a girl to be used, kitten. If that's the plan, I'm not following it." The smile was gone, face cold and turned stoic. "I'm going to finish my wine and leave. Understand?" Reaching for the glass, she gives it a swirl and then a sniff. Sighing, she sets it down instead. "On second through, I think I'll just leave you here with the others."

"Relax alright, it isn't like that." Billy shakes his head "You don't need to do anything except help me be seen by all these other lovely people in here. Which you have already done. No attention from anyone." He casts an eye at a few people that are still eyeballing her. "At least those who matter anyway."

He takes a small sip of his wine, swirling his glass idly as he looks into the pale golden/white liquid. "So all you have to do is drink ludicrously overprice wine, have a nice meal with what others tell me is a generally charming person. Maybe sneer at a few old ladies as they turn their noses up at you. Feel free to ham it up a bit, have a little fun. Then you get your prize and we both get to be happy."

"Prize? I'm not your pet." She still sits, her jaw tightening as her hands rest in her lap, her legs crossing. "What others tell you you are is a lie. I guess it's easier than the truth, though. They've seen you, I've done my 'part' in a play I want nothing to do with. If enough have seen you here, then I'll be on my way." A pause, "Though I am tempted to freeze your dick off before I go."

He checks his watch before looking up at her with a smile. "Maybe it is. Wouldn't exactly be something new to me. Still usually achieves the same outcome though." He shakes his head and leans back on his chair "Give me 10 minutes or slap me and walk out, either way I would suggest waiting for me so you can get what you came for." He pauses for a second at her last remark, edging himself forward, parts of his anatomy now well hidden by the table. "Where did you manage to hide the gun?"

"Aww, kitten, don't ask a girl to give up her secrets." Permission given, with his close face near her own, she pulls the double-features. A face full of wine and a hand reared back and swinging to slap across his face, the leather of her glove making a cracking impact against his now moist flesh. Standing, she pulls her jacket around herself and marches for the door, heels clicking along the way.

Billy keeps his voice quiet after the throw and the slap, but she might still overhear him as she walks off. "Suddenly very glad I ordered the white wine." He shakes his head using a thick fabric napkin to wipe the remainder from his face before flagging down the waiter, his voice regaining its volume and jovial nature. "I'll take the rest of the bottle now it is delicious, a very fine recommendation."

He drinks his wine slowly relaxing back in the overly comfortable dining chair, waiting for the minutes to tick by as he finishes off the rest of the bottle occasionally dabbing at a moist section of his suit with his napkin. Finally about nine minutes after Lena has stormed out a low crump and then sudden shockwave rocks several cars in the street as a building a few blocks over goes up in a sudden explosion.

He smiles to himself as he stands, slipping the detonator back into his pocket while taking a last final sip of his wine. He moves past several of the shocked diners coming to a stop before the service station. "Have one of the valets bring my car around. I think it is time I get going."

The shake causes her eyes to peer down the length of the street. Tsking, she exhales, her breath not catching the chill of night, even if the figures who were her 'company' did. Scattered and concerned, she offers them soft, soothing words and even points out the sound of sirens already singing in the distance.

Moving down the steps, mixing in with a throng of worried faces, the girl in white lingers to the side. She was promised something and she was going to collect.

Good thing they are incredibly well paid, or possibly just well tipped. A place like this? It doesn't just shut down because of something happening a couple of blocks over. It isn't even a couple of minutes after the explosion that his Rolls pulls up alongside her. "Hop in. I'll drive you somewhere a little quieter and you can take your goods. No cab is going to come here to pick you up right now."

"You're paying extra." She says aloud, filling in some lines in case someone was listening to them, more so her. Slipping into the car, she pulls her train in so that it doesn't get caught in the car door. Looking toward some of the other guests, she blinks and then eyes forward as the car moves away.

Digging into her sleeves, she pulls out what looks to be a rather delicate, intricate necklace, glimmering with diamonds and sapphire. "Too much?" She asks, slipping the jewelry around her throat.

"Maybe a little bit, but I did ask you to play it up. So I do only have myself to blame for it in the end." He smiles before pulling away from the curb. He laughs as she tucks the necklace around her neck "That however is perfect. Not sure it really matches the outfit, but with you? Well that kind of makes it fit the outfit."

He is silent for a couple of minutes as they flee the scene in style. "I take it you won't let me take you to wherever you are staying? Suppose you shouldn't give me the chance to leave my dry cleaning bill with the concierge." He chuckles quietly to himself, driving a few more minutes before pulling over. "Vest is in the trunk. Inside a suit bag. Might want to make sure it fits."

He doesn't seem to be all that bothered by the night turning something sour, in fact he seems to still be in remarkable good humour.

"I wasn't talking about slapping you. That was the highlight of my night. Even above lifting some rocks off those stiffs. Now that's saying something." Brushing over the gem, she nods and sits back, glancing outside her window as they zip down the street.

"No, I'll walk, thank you. Also, I'm not paying for your suit. Drop in the ocean, right? You can handle that on your own. You're a big boy." Once they stop, she slips out of the car without pause, walking around to the trunk and waiting for it to be opened.

"I meant more the comment on the street at the end, I could see how much you enjoyed the slap. Almost as much as I did by the look of it." He shakes his head as he steps out of his car, clicking his key to open the trunk. "Should be able to get a cab from here. I'm sure you are more than capable of getting back if you walk, but fighting in that getup? Wouldn't be easy. And every asshole will be after that ice around your neck." He pauses for a moment "And no matter what you say, I don't think you can fit that icemaker anywhere on you."

He shakes his head as he pulls out the suit bag unzipping it to show the vest within. "Now you want it to be tight but not uncomfortable. Don't let it crush the girls or when it comes to crunch time you won't be able to breathe properly."

"You're selling me short." She quips in regards to her inability to have her favored weapon on her person. Eyeing the bundle, she nods. Reaching down to zip it shut and claiming the bag for herself. "I'll fit it out and see how it feels. I know how to contact you, so if I need it adjusted, I'll give a whistle." Comes her promise.

"Thanks for your business, tall, dark and conceited."

"Is it business if I didn't ask for you to pay me?" He seems to be pretty fine with the rest of what she said, maybe he knows it. Maybe he is just used to hearing it. Can only be called Billy the Buet for so many years before you develop a complex afterall. He whistles a tune as he turns to slide back into his Rolls. "Stay frosty out there."

"Keep it cool, daddy-o." She offers in return, lugging the bag against her back with ease. Striding down the sidewalk, she hums to herself and seems to embrace the cold night. With a pivot, she clicks down the darkness of an alley way.

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