Hard Boiled – Episode One: A New Day 1.115

kavatar“Blindside” slipped into the apartment as quietly as he could, through the bedroom window rather than the normal balcony entrance. Better not to tempt fate. He had to know if he was in trouble before facing it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Vivian wasn’t home. And from the looks of things, she hadn’t been.

He stepped out on the balcony to get some air. He needed it. This was two nights in a row. Something had to be wrong. If Begnini is lying to me, so help me God…. It was right about that time that his communicator broke through his reverie. Just want he needed… work.

Maybe he could convince Ol’ Blue that he got a wrong number. “Mushi mushi?”

Bluewolf, apparently, wasn’t fooled. “Funny. Has your Vixen returned to her den?”

Eddy paused. He knew how to answer the question, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to give Blue the chance to go find her. If it was Begnini, if he’d been lying to both of them, Kardiac wanted first blood. Somehow, however, Eddy’s more rational nature won out. “No, not yet.”

“I’ll keep looking, but I do have some info for you. What say we meet tomorrow? Plainclothes… you pick the place.”

“Uh, yeah… right,” Eddy answered, a bit taken aback by the offer. He was pretty sure Blue had seen him unmasked by now, so he was the only one with anything to offer… and here he was suddenly offering it. “There’s a small Chinese joint just off King and 53rd. Excellent Moo Goo Gai Pan.”

“Got it. And as hard as it sounds, try and get some rest.” Bluewolf’s communication ended as suddenly as it had started. Eddy leaned on the balcony rail, looking over the street but also supporting himself. He still wasn’t ready physically, and he hated himself for it.

After a long while, he turned to go back into the apartment. He was so distracted that he didn’t feel the heartbeat on the balcony until it was right on top of him… almost literally. The prowler dove for him, and Eddy, still dressed as Blindside, ducked and rolled backwards, letting his assailant crash into and, unfortunately, break the coffee table.

It took a good long moment for her to shake off the stars in front of her eyes. “Damn it!” she shouted as she hopped back up to her feet, “That was an antique!” The fact that the intruder in the apartment could be Eddy didn’t even cross her mind as she lashed out with a blind kick to where she thought he would be.

Fortunately, he knew that voice. Seeing her still a little dazed, he had the perfect opportunity to slip out to the balcony and into the bedroom before she even knew he was gone. And he was two steps towards the door before conscience hit him. No more secrets… I’ll take what’s coming to me. He turned in time to see her kick for him flying wide. She nearly fell from the sudden loss of balance, but he caught her before she hit the ground again. “Viv, it’s me.”

Fox wasn’t ‘wild’ enough at the moment to miss the sound of his voice either. “What!” she exclaimed as he caught her. “What are you doing out of bed…dressed like that.” She narrowed her eyes at him, “I go off and get kidnapped for one night and already you’re up to no good?”

He smiled at her first few words, then lost his mirth at the word ‘kidnapped’. He pulled off his mask and looked her in the eyes, “Kidnapped? Who?” He couldn’t quite stop the anger from welling up within… or his voice from slipping into work-mode. “So help me God, if anyone’s… hurt you I’ll…”

She shook her head, pulling off her mask and wig as well. “I’m okay, really. Some bounty hunter one of my old marks hired. Seems he didn’t give the guy the whole story though. I’m meeting him later tonight to help him go after the scumbag.” She smiled a bit, “No, you can’t come, you’re going to march right back to bed.”

Eddy’s eyes narrowed, “I’ll have the thank him for releasing you after I’m done beating him senseless…” He frowned a little more so, but forced his voice back to normal. “I don’t like the idea of you heading off alone with this guy on some revenge kick. Bounty hunters aren’t exactly known for being trustworthy.”

Vivian poked him lightly in the chest, “I’m a big girl, love. I can take care of myself.” She chuckled softly, “Now do I have to handcuff you to the bed or are you going to recuperate peacefully.” She glanced down at his new costume, “Was this so I wouldn’t recognize you? Tsk.”

Eddy smiled, “Actually it was for Alfonse’ benefit. I’m on his payroll now… though he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.” He broke eye contact, a little ashamed of sneaking out without her knowing in advance. “His planner gave me a chance, a real chance, of taking him down once and for all… but I had to act fast.”

His eyes went back to hers with a renewed determination. “And I have to keep playing the game for a couple of days. I promise I’ll take a vacation as soon as this plays out.”

Her eyes went wide, “Eddy! Have you lost your mind…” She wasn’t quite sure what to say after that, or rather where to start. “You’re supposed to be dead, or at the very least in bed healing up. My lord, I think you overloaded your mental circuits.” To say she didn’t look pleased with his plan would be a huge understatement.

“Five years, Vivian. For five years this man has been dodging every piece of evidence I’ve been able to produce. This is my first, maybe my only chance to take him down. I have to see this through.”

He brushed some of her hair out her face. “You told me to trust you to go off and take care of this bounty hunter business, you have to trust me on this. When it’s over, I promise I’ll take some time off… how about Rome? Just you and me… no drug lords or supervillains allowed.”

She sighed deeply, “But, you just…died. I’m a bit dehydrated and my wrists hurt. There’s a big difference. I don’t like the idea of you going after Begnini like this, when you’re not at peak performance.”

“I love you, Vivian. And I just found you… I’m not going to do anything that’ll take that away from me.” He pulled her to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “But Begnini… he was there the night my father died. He knows what happened, and who pulled that trigger. I have to take him down. Please, don’t ask me to stop… because I will… if that’s what you want.” He was shaking by the time he was done making his argument. “Please.”

She uttered an even deeper sigh, and understanding the ‘father’ thing she finally consented with a nod. “Do you have a plan at least? Is Wolfy involved, any back up at all?”

“Ol’ Blue and Capin are both watching my back.” He noticed a question in her eyes as he mentioned the latter. “Oh… new friend, the guy in the Tux that tends to work the West Side. I finally met him. He, Bluewolf, and I met earlier tonight.” He looked her in the eyes and lost himself for a moment. All the worry from earlier this evening rushing back. “But enough shop talk… we both could use a shower after what we’ve been through. What say we save the city some water…?”

Vivian grinned. “I think a long shower is just what the doctor ordered.” She leaned forward, kissing him lightly before grinning at him once more. “I suppose if you’re not going to be bed ridden anymore I can return the TV?” With a giggle she squirmed out of his arms and took off for the bedroom.

“Hey! The television stays,” he called after her. He heard her close the bathroom door and knew she was going to make him work to get in there with her. One little piece of business to take care of first. He tapped his comm on as he walked toward the bedroom. “Blue, the Fox is in the den. And if we can keep this short, I might just be in there with her.”

“When?” his voice answered a second or so later. Eddy thought he almost heard him crack a smile.

“A few minutes ago,” he answered, his hand on the doorknob.

“Good. One less thing for me to worry about tonight. You can tell me all about it later.”

Eddy clicked off his comm and walked into the bedroom. He crossed to the bathroom door and knocked. And so the game began. It took several minutes, a lot of sweet-talking, and a few joking (he hoped) promises to get inside. Their time together was much too short. Before he knew it, she was suited up, and he was kissing her goodbye on the balcony.

“Oh,” he said as she was about to go. “I’m having lunch with a friend tomorrow. I want you to come with me.”

Fox smiled at him, running her fingers down his chest. “You sure he won’t mind?”

Eddy smirked, wondering if Ol’ Blue would be expecting this. “He never told me I couldn’t bring a date.” With that, and another goodbye kiss, she was off into the night. Eddy, on the other hand, was bound for the bedroom. He may have put on a good show for Vivian, but he felt like he was about to collapse.

Once he was under the sheets, he clicked on the television to Cartoon Network, set the sleep timer for an hour, and tried to stretch his aching muscles. “If Blue and I are gonna be working together,” he said to no one in particular, “Then we’re all going to learn to trust each other.” Ten minutes later, for the first time in days, he was comfortably fast asleep.

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