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Running To Stand Still

Title: Running to Stand Still
Theme set: Alpha #49 Flee
Characters: Victor/Raven
Words: 857
Rating: PG
Verse: comics, a what if? set after events in Mary Shelley Overdrive

It’s an upscale place tonight. Expensive cut crystal tumblers replace dirty, cheap barware. A person is guaranteed to pay a hefty sum for a glass of quality liquor, the kind that makes a warm coil in your belly instead of the hard burn the dollar a shot kind does. He’s at the bar, looking all the world like he had been born there. The suit he’s wearing is custom made, probably some Italian name. Not that he cares; he just wears it because it’s the best. When he wants to put up a façade, he always goes for the best.

She saunters up, debates about saying anything to him. Maybe it would be better if she turned around and pretended not to notice him. She’s about to turn on her heel when she hears him speak.

“Never pegged you for a coward.” He doesn’t look up, just takes another swallow of his drink. Bourbon, on the rocks, if she knows him.

Her spine straightens, her decision made. “That’s because I’m not.”

“Then why you runnin?”

“Why are you hiding?” He hasn’t looked at her since they started talking, and if he can throw insults her way, she can lob them right back.

“I’m not. Just trying to forget.”

“Something or someone?” She takes a seat on the empty stool next to him and orders a drink. The person she’s disguising herself as would have a white wine spritzer, but personally, she doesn’t quite care for them. She drinks it anyway.

“A little bit of both.” He finishes up his drink and signals the bartender to pour him another one. “I met a girl the other day.”

“Oh?” She takes a delicate sip. “And does she know…” She lets the question trail off. Does the woman know who you are, what you’re capable of doing? Can she handle it?

He nods. “Yeah, she knew.” The past tense was enough to tell her that the woman was dead. The way he flexes his fingers tells her he was the one that did it. He drains his drink in one gulp. “I had to. Wasn’t like I wanted to, I had to.” His eyes are strained, as if he’s holding some great emotion back. Regret laces his voice. Haltingly, he tells her an edited version of the past few days. She knows that he’s only editing it because the bartender is pretending not to eavesdrop and Victor really wants to keep the steady stream of bourbon flowing instead of ending the night early when the idiot behind the bar tries to call the cops.

“She said she wanted to be with me. Shit, nobody’s said that to me before.” The words sting her. True, she never said the words to him out loud, but there were times that she did truly want to be with him. She knew him to be an overbearing, insensitive, rude ass for the most part, but it didn’t change her feelings. She knew what he was and the violence he could do at any given moment; hell, he had done them to her on several occasions. She was still drawn to him.

Without thinking, she reaches out, puts her hand over his. He flinches slightly; not enough to make her pull her hand away, but enough to make something twist painfully in her chest. “I think you’ve had enough to drink for the evening,” she says softly, pulling money out of her purse to pay for her drink. It’s then that he finally looks at her, really looks at her. She wonders if he notices that her skin is so pale that it has a faint blue undertone or that she chose to keep her auburn hair tumbling loose around her shoulders. Tawny eyes meet green ones as he reaches into his suit jacket and pulls out a pen. He grabs a cocktail napkin and scribbles out an address. The place is familiar to her, they had some good memories there, once upon a time. It makes her wonder if he had known she would be here, if he had searched her out.

“I’m staying there for the next few days, maybe longer.” He stares at her in a way that makes her feel as if his hands are already on her body. “I’m guessing that you still have a key.” He doesn’t wait for her nod, just stands up and leaves without a backward glance.

She sits there for a long while, staring at the napkin. Should she go or should she head back where there’s a man waiting upstairs for her that’s a lot better, a lot safer than him? The person that she has been trying to create over the past month would run as fast as her stiletto heels would allow right back up to her hotel room and forget all about meeting a ghost from the past.

She slips out the bar’s front door and hails a taxi. Giving the driver the street address on the napkin, she realizes just how much she hated the woman she was trying to be and decides it‘s time she stopped running from herself.

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