Description: Duo Lon makes a miscalculation and ends up having to chase a target. He runs into Tiger Mask! In the end, Duo Lon ends up waiting for a better opportunity, and Tiger Mask ends up offering some tips and buying him tea. ...Wait a minute, who's the bad guy again...?
Monsters weren't supposed to exist. The Bogeyman wasn't supposed to be able to get him in the light. But this one? This one had waited right there for him, in his house, right there in the light. How had it gotten in? He hadn't stopped to ask, just turned and ran when he saw the glint of metal. He didn't stop when he heard the swish behind him. He just kept running.
He'd managed to get himself good and lost in the crowd, but he knew it was still behind him. He could sense its coldness, the death that followed it. Also because he knew who it was. He'd been warned that THAT ONE would be coming for him. Finally he ducks into an alley, and chances a look back. Gone. Had the pursuer given up?
Actually there's a reason why he can't see the monster behind him. It's because the monster is on the roof of a nearby building. The monster's thin frame seems to collapse, decaying into dust. And then suddenly there it is, walking through the crowd at him. All he can do is run the other way.
This turns out to be a bad idea because the alley's a dead end. Possibly in more ways than one, for him. Since here comes the 'monster', looking pretty human aside for the cold expression on its face. Honestly he'd call this one an 'it' anyway because he can't, really, tell the gender.
From a building above, a heroic musical sting plays from a portable boombox, perhaps drawing one's attention to where someone wearing a karate uniform and a white tiger mask stands, hands on her hips, looking down on the alley from the rooftop, perfectly sillhoueted by the moon from the angle the 'monster' is standing.
"Fear not! Evil will never win... as long as it's held back... by JUSTICE!"
She jumps off the roof, flips, lands on the ground in the crouch, one hand on the ground, then slowly stands up, looking on at the 'monster' in front of her.
"I've been looking for The Butcher. But I don't think you're him. You don't match any of the descriptions."
She raises a single finger to point at his face.
"Tell me! Why is it that you're chasing this man? Why are you walking down the Path of Evil?"
She spreads out the rest of her fingers.
"If I don't like the reason..."
She snaps her hand closed dramatically, into a fist.
"Tiger Mask just might have to crush you!"
The look on the face of the killer-to-be is utterly flat. There's a quirked brow as he (yes, it's a man) regards the 'hero' in front of him, as if not quite sure how to react to this. The victim-to-be leaps on the opportunity however. "Oh thank God! This... this MONSTER broke into my house and is trying to kill me!"
The 'monster' in question is a deathly pale young man. Tall, slender, with brown hair in a long braid, and near-white skin. Dressed in dark blue and purple, with long, painted fingernails. The clothes look Chinese, as does the one wearing them. Might not look much like a monster outwardly, but that knife in his hand kind of belies that.
FINALLY then, does he speak. "Go away." This to 'Tiger Mask'. "This isn't your business." Can't have some would-be hero getting involved in this business. It's messy, and she needs to know as little about this as possible. Hopefully she'll listen...
Tiger Mask swipes her hand to one side.
"Justice is my business!"
She walks closer to the young man, until she's as close as she can get without being quite within knife range.
"Chasing people while holding a knife isn't the business that you should be up to! What reason could you possibly have? Did this man annoy you? Are you doing it just to amuse yourself? Those aren't sufficient reasons to take a life! Hunting weak people is like crushing insects, and that's all you are - one of those pest exterminators everyone looks down on."
She raises a finger to point up to his face.
"You won't explain yourself? Fine, then I will explain myself! I am Tiger Mask, and I fight for Justice, to learn what Justice is."
"It's far more amusing than hunting weak people like you're doing now. Why don't you cast aside this silly murder whose reason neither me nor the prospective murderee understand, and try fighting for Justice for just one day? You'll find the results interesting!"
She stops pointing, lowers her hand, holding it out for a handshake.
"JUST for now, join me... in JUSTICE!"
It's a very flat expression, and Duo Lon is not very expressive, but there's enough to see that much anyway. That's exactly the look on his face. He just listens to her spiel. Justice and evil and 'the right path', oh geez. Ugh, he thought people had outgrown that. Still, it needs an answer.
He looks at the offered hand. Pauses. Looks to his target-- who can't yet get out, because he's blocking the end of the alley. "You don't need to understand it." Another look at his target (who draws back). "He does." And then again, he says, "Go away. Don't keep on this path, or you'll die." He didn't exactly say HE would kill her, though.
Tiger Mask shakes her head, and lowers her hand, placing it on one of her hips, the other hand moving onto the other one.
"The possibility exists! ...although I'll do my best to avoid it. But why not even try to talk it out? Perhaps there's some way to come to a mutually agreeable solution."
She narrows her eyes slightly.
"If you keep on walking your path, it's more likely to kill you then if I keep on walking mine, in the long run. Those who live by the blade die by it."
She doesn't exactly say SHE'LL kill him, either. A slight shrug of her shoulders.
"Look, you can always try to kill him later, right? So how about we go, I'll buy you a coffee, and we talk this over. There's better ways to spend your life than killing that guy in the alley."
She walks closer to him, attempts to put her hand on the shoulder of the arm he isn't holding the knife with lightly, stare up into his eyes.
"I mean, clearly you aren't having that much fun hunting down this guy. I don't think this is the right path for you."
And then suddenly things take a turn into crazyville. The rabbit is now freaking out about being late for his date with the Queen of Hearts, who will chop off his head if he's late again. That might as well be what's going on. The sympathy from the fighter FOR GREAT JUSTICE has his eyes narrowing a bit. His path will kill him? He knows that. But he's not telling her that. There's really no change in his expression as Tiger Mask says this. He does observe of her 'live by the blade, die by the blade', "That means anyone. Not just 'evil'."
He steps back when she tries to put a hand on his shoulder, his expression showing the first real bit of emotion the whole time: his lip curls in a barely-seen sneer of annoyance. He says again, "You don't need to be involved in this."
Though he realizes that she's not going to go away. He sighs. Duo cares more about keeping her out of this business than about taking THIS opportunity to kill his target. There will be other opportunities. The knife seems to literally disappear. He looks to his ex-target. "Go. But I WILL be back for you."
The other man doesn't wait to be told twice, but runs past him, out of the alley. Duo closes his eyes, and waits until the man's out of sight. Then he opens his eyes again and looks at Tiger Mask. "I suppose you know of some superhero coffee shop," he deadpans. Because she's in a superhero costume. And he's pretty sure she's not going to let him see her civilian ID for /coffee/.
He doesn't address the question of whether he was having 'fun' hunting that man down.
Tiger Mask nods grimly. "I well know the dangers involved in my path... I, for one, will probably get talked to death, in the end."
She watches, waiting for him to pounce as his prospective target escapes, but seeing him just close and let him go past, she blinks.
One can't see her smile with the full-face mask as the assassin lets the man go, but one can definitely hear it in her voice. "Well chosen! And no, I don't know some superhero coffee shop, but I do have some cash on me, and people will let anyone buy if they have money." She raises a hand towards the sky, grasps it into a fist. "Come! I'll buy you a coffee of your choice. A pastry as well, if you so desire."
She lowers her hand, tilts her head a bit to one side.
"What's your name? Or something you'd like to be called by? I'm not sure how secret you're trying to keep your identity, but it's awkward to just talk to you without any form of address, so I'll have to give you a nickname if you don't give me one. Hmmm."
She raises her hand to her chin, looking him over again, as if she's already pondering a nickname of some kind.
Honestly Duo wants very little to do with this girl, but after costing him a contract, the least she can do is buy him coffee. He's not given up on the contract, no. But it's a delay in completing it, which means he's going to get paid less when he does finally get the job done.
Giving his name seems like a really stupid thing to do, after being figured out as an assassin. But to avoid her calling him something rude or offensive as a nickname, he gives her part of his name. He crosses his arms across his midriff-- not his chest, but lower. "Lon."
"Nice to meet you, Lon!" Tiger Mask pauses. "So you can't even tell me a little bit about why you're doing that? Cause you stand to get rich if he dies and you need to pay for your little sister's operation, or because it's revenge against a guy who punched your significant other, or he burnt down your village or something? I mean, I don't need to know specifics, but it'd be nice to understand you a little better. Maybe I'll even be able to help!"
A slight shrug of her shoulders.
"Regardless, hesitating to murder someone is the first step on the road to Justice!"
"There's a nice coffee shop near here, follow me!" She turns her back on 'Lon', and starts to stride confidently off - she doesn't think he'll kill her or he would've already attacked, and if he manages to stab her with something disabling before she can sense him coming, she'll have learned a few facts about him.
"It's none of your concern." 'Lon's' tone may be less harsh now, but he's no more forthcoming with information than he was. "The less you know about it, the safer you are." The safer /he/ is too. But he doesn't say that last part. He just follows her out of the alley.
He doesn't attack her, there's no reason to. He doesn't say anything once they go back to the street proper. He does sort of frown at that whole 'first step on the path to justice' nonsense.
Tiger Mask glances back to 'Lon', and furrows her eyebrow at his frown. "Hmm. You don't believe that Justice is a legit concept? It's just something stupid people believe in or something?" She shrugs a bit. "We could at least talk about /that/, presumably. Why is it okay to kill people? Why are you concerned about my safety if you want to go stab that guy? If you're just concerned about my safety...." She pauses for the moment.
"I'm literally hunting down someone called 'The Butcher'. Even if you don't know who that is, you must know I'm not too crazy about being safe?"
"You're the one who said it," Duo speaks up, with a nonchalant tone. "You must have thoughts in that direction yourself." As for her questions? Those get shrugged at quite soundly. "As I said. That's not your concern."
It's not until she says something about hunting down this 'Butcher' character that he speaks up again. "I won't save you from your own stupidity," Duo replies. "If you want to get yourself killed out there, fine. When it's my business, I'm going to try to prevent it. You didn't need to see that."
Tiger Mask blinks at his response, then laughs. "Well said, Lon. Of course I've had those sorts of thoughts. I try to think like everyone, so I can understand where everyone's coming from. Unless we all try to understand each other, there's no way we'll all be able to work together!" Seemingly unending optimism. She turns her mask to stare at Duo Lon.
"So you have your own code of honor, even if it doesn't involve not killing people or preventing people from getting themselves killed. Or, if not 'honor', 'business ethics', at least. Standards. You take pride in what you do there. Which implies that this isn't something personal for you? Your face when you looked at that man didn't look like someone who took it personally, either...."
She's interrupted by this train of thought by spotting the coffeeshop - it has classical architecture, and a small tasteful sign says 'Chocolat Chaud' in brown letters. "Ah, here we are!" She walks forwards, opens the door for Duo.
"Mn." It's an affirmative statement, and all he offers in response to the optimism and talk of understanding. He doesn't look like it's had much of an effect on him. Then again it might just be hard to tell, he has an almost continual deadpan face. Those words of 'honor' and/or 'business ethics' gets a shrug. "You'd have been collateral damage."
He quiets too, when Tiger Mask points out the place. She opens the door, indicating she wants him to go in first... and he does otherwise there'll be a 'you first', 'no you', 'no you first' and that would just attract more attention. At least it doesn't look tacky from the outside. What about the inside?
...more attention than a pretty boy and a tiger-masked karate uniform girl already attract, at least. Tiger Mask doesn't use the opportunity to attempt to backstab him, however, instead heroically following in afterwards, and walking up to the counter, and giving the barista a thumbs up as they give her a confused, somewhat nervous stare. "Greetings, citizen! Hot chocolate, please!" She places a very large yen bill on the counter, then looks back to Duo Lon, and tilts her head a bit to one side. "What would you like, Lon?" She pauses.
"...Have you ever considered being a barista? The chances of dying horribly are much less than your current lifestyle. Also, better smells!"
The stone-faced prettyboy approaching with Tiger Mask probably doesn't make that expression any better. Unless the barista happens to be male and mistakes Duo for a woman. That's going to be dashed rather quickly when he gives his order. Stereotypes ahoy, the Chinese guy orders a green tea.
He slides Tiger Mask a sidelong look at the suggestion. "The desire to murder others horribly would rise, though." Duo knew about the pitfalls of retail and food service jobs. He'd had to do a few temporarily, when using a cover to get close to a target. None weere pleasant.
The flustered-for-multiple-reasons barista takes a moment to get Miki's change back to her, then busies himself behind the counter, very intent on not making eye contact with either of these wierdos.
"Ah, so your current style is more of an outlet than anything?" ...Tiger Mask has never worked retail or food service, apparently. "You'd want to regardless, so why not do it as part of your lifestyle in a way that's sanctioned by at least part of society?" She pauses. "Interesting. What's it like?"
Duo actually stays quiet until they get their order and head away from the counter. He knows he's pretty distinctive and can be identified easily. So Tiger Mask will have to just wait for her answers for a little while. Though since the barista is probably freaked right the hell out he's probably inclined to give them their order pretty fast.
Once they're where they can talk without anyone overhearing that wants to Duo answers, "I don't think what I do is sanctioned in society anywhere." By his tone he doesn't care that it's not. "What do you mean 'an outlet'?"
Tiger Mask sits down at the nice little table, decently far from other people, and stares at Duo Lon for a moment. "For killing people. I mean, you do kill people, right? So it's got to be either ideological reasons, money, or the desire to kill. Or some combination therein. Right?" She raises a finger.
"Now, the first two are technically going to be sactioned enough by some segments of society, but are you saying you're a loner and just kill people to kill people or for ideological reasons? Maybe rob their corpses afterwards?"
Duo sips at his tea while Tiger Mask... attempts to psychoanalyze him? Oh boy, this is going to be fun. He pauses, the cup at his lips, and blinks. Sip. He puts the cup down. Listens. Stays quiet. He looks like he's thinking. When he speaks it's a question of his own.
"... Why does it matter to you?"
Tiger Mask raises her cup of cocoa to her face, where the rim clinks against the mouth of her mask. She blinks, then slooowly places the cocoa back down, as if if she does it slowly enough no one will notice what happened there.
"Selfishly, I haven't killed anyone so far. But someday, I might have to. I want to understand what that's like." She pauses.
"Also, I want to see if I can talk you into doing something else with your life, but I don't really understand the /why/ of what you're doing, so it's hard for me to know if I have a better path to offer you, and, if so, which one. I'm not sure if that's selfish of me or not." A slight shrug of her shoulders.
"I can understand why telling me /what/ you're doing is dangerous. But I don't think the why should be dangerous. Unless you're being blackmailed or something."
If Duo notices her slip-up with her mask he doesn't say anything about it. He turns his attention to her comment of 'what it's like'. "You aren't ready for it," he states with certainty. It doesn't sound arrogant at all. He is just very certain of that. Mainly because, well, no one is.
Another path? "There isn't." He sounds pretty sure of that too. And the 'why'? "Doesn't matter if it's dangerous or not. The less information you have, the better. For both of us."
Tiger Mask tilts her head a bit to one side. "Is it really better for both of us that I dig around for the information rather than you just telling it to me? If you're right, and I'm not ready for that sort of thing, maybe I'll freak out and leave the whole matter alone. But maybe... when you've fallen into a pit, it's hard to see much else besides the pit around you, you know? Since you don't have anyone to talk about this stuff to, another perspective could be valuable." She taps a finger against her mask.
"I have a variety of resources and contacts. I could probably help you, if you don't want to continue down your current path." She leans forwards, elbows on the table, staring into his eyes. "Please, just answer me one thing honestly, Lon: do you /want/ to continue with your current lifestyle?"
"You'll dig whether I tell you or not," Duo reasons. She strikes him as the kind who will do that. "I'm going to warn you against it. You're going to ignore me. You'll dig anyway. And you'll end up dead."
He looks back at Tiger Mask when she asks him that question. He meets her gaze squarely. There's no shame in his eyes. No fear in his expression. And he doesn't tremble at all when he speaks. What does he say? "If I don't who will?"
He takes a sip of his tea. Then he observes, "Not every life is destined to be saved."
"If I don't try to save them, who will?" Tiger Mask continues to stare. She seems to entirely lack fear. And, for that matter, the social grace and/or humanity to feel uncomfortable from sustained eye contact.
"Who can know for sure what destiny is, until ones tries to seize it with one's own hands?"
She leans back in her chair, raises a hand to adjust her mask's position.
"...If you're certain that's what'll happen anyways, there's no reason not to tell me." She considers this, spreads out her right hand in an equivocating gesture.
"Tell you what, Lon: if you tell me a decent chunk of what's going on, at least enough to know why I should theoretically be scared, I won't dig. Not until I'm strong enough to deal with it, at least. I can honestly say I don't want to die." She pauses, shrugs.
"But extremely vague ominous threats? I get extremely vague ominous threats from people when I try to do /anything/ remotely interesting."
A decent chunk? Even that's dangerous. If only to Duo himself. Besides she's not really being forthcoming with a whole lot of information either. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge? Maybe. Still there's no guarantee of her not using the information against him. "How do I know I can trust you?"
He does give one piece of information though. "I'm not alone. And we are a clan." So whatever it is that he's doing he's not the only one doing it. Which means she might end up getting dogpiled if she goes digging.
"You can ask me questions, if you like, and I'll tell you the true answers, insofar as I know them - but you'd have to trust me that they were true, so that really puts us back to step one, doesn't it?" Tiger Mask shrugs.
"How do you know you can trust anyone? Trust is something you choose to do. I chose to trust you to not to stab me when I tried to touch you, or in the back when I turned on you. Now when you say you're in a clan, I trust that you told the truth there, too." She bows slightly in her seated position.
"Thank you for trusting me that far."
"Mn." That 'probably' affirmative response again. It's an awkward situation to be talking about 'trust' in. It really is. For that matter why /didn't/ she just attack him back there when he was faced with killing that man? Surely she knows he's going to go back for him.
Well she did say he could ask right? "Why didn't you just attack?" He must have seemed like nothing more than a villain. Maybe he still does.
The corner of Tiger Mask's eyes crinkle up a little as she smiles behind that mask. "A few reasons!" She glances around, lowers her voice.
"First, you had the air of a skilled killer. I think you could've taken that man out if I had attacked you - I don't actually have a lot of practice defending people. This way I bought him some time. If he's smart, he's gone and found some sort of defense that is as strong as me if not stronger - private security or the police or whatever. I assume if he's a target for someone, he probably has connections of some kind. Even if he doesn't, with The Butcher loose on the city, his concerns should be taken seriously." She reaches back behind her head, undoes a strap, then pushes the mask up some, far enough to leave her mouth uncovered, and to incidentally blind her and leave her neck seemingly unguarded.
"Second, let's assume I somehow prevent you from killing him and win for a moment. Total victory, you're at my mercy. What do I do? Let you go, on to murder him and probably other people after a brief rest? Kill you?" She takes a sip of cocoa, smiles.
"In short, my initial actions were tests, to see what sort of person you were, rather than provoking a hostile confrontation. I took some risks to learn more about you when seeing you didn't immediately attack. As the situation evolved, I saw I indeed might be able to help both of you."
A skilled killer? He's still young but... well yes. Even if his target had actually seen him before he could find proper cover in the house and lay a proper ambush. "It was a less than ideal situation." Pause. "Fighting me would have assured his escape anyway." He could hardly keep track of both her and his target. It only took a moment of distraction for a target to escape, win or lose his target would have escaped. Hey at least he got a tea out of the deal here.
"Careful taking risks," he cautions her. "Some won't just knock the olive branch from your hand, they'll impale you through the heart with it while your back is turned." No he hadn't done that and thus far her trust in him seems well-rewarded. But his point is that he could have.
Tiger Mask tilts her head a bit to one side as she learn Duo Lon isn't able to take out targets with distraction.
"...Well, perhaps I don't know much about assassination. I'll remember that for next time." She laughs, takes a second sip of cocoa, then puts down the cup.
"But I don't regret my actions. Seeing that people don't stab you through the heart is how you learn you can trust them." She slips the mask back into place, reaches back to tighten the strap in the back. "But I wouldn't have taken the risks I did without some small insight into your heart." She pauses, and stares into his eyes again, serious.
"Lon, I intend to become immensely powerful and live forever. The chances of that aren't the highest, but I don't think it's possible without some risks. So I'm not going to stop taking risks." She pauses, reaches into her karate gi, takes out a business card with nothing but a phone number on it, and pushes it across the table.
"If you ever decide you want to leave your clan, or just want to talk to someone, you can call me there."
Well it would have been pretty tough to try and assassinate his target while fending off attacks on his person from both the target and a would-be white knight. But when she brings up 'next time'? "If you prove yourself a 'distraction' more than once I may seek to remove it." It's just a flat statement. As if he were talking about the weather.
It's the mention of living forever that gets him to show the tiniest bit of emotion. A narrowing of his eyes. "No one 'plans' to die. But death waits for everyone." As for the risks she's taking? "Take less foolish risks then." He'd be a bit hard-pressed to trust someone who'd intended to kill someone else.
The card with the phone number is regarded. Looked at carefully. Consideringly. Finally he picks up the card, and places it in a pocket. "... Thank you." He had no intentions of leaving his clan. But it could come in handy for an ambush if she proved herself problematic and he was forced to 'deal' with her.
Tiger Mask wasn't aware the target was a fighter, he certainly didn't act very brave or take a marital arts stance. But there's deceptive people out there. She tilts her head to one side at the statement, then bows slightly.
"Thank you for letting me know." She straightens up. "But if you don't want me interfering, you'd probably be best off not literally chasing people around Southtown, it's where I hang out. Take less foolish risks, as you say. I like you, and would prefer not to come into conflict with you, but I care about a lot of people around here. Although... I don't know that guy we met earlier." She shrugs, stands up.
"Very few plan to live forever. You, however, knowingly walk a path towards death... isn't that like planning to die?"
"It was a less than ideal situation," Duo says again. "He shouldn't have made it outside." Seems he was talking less about the situation Tiger Mask found him in and more the assassination attempt in general. "That's not likely to happen again." He's not arrogant enough to say it won't. Though he's going to try to make sure it doesn't.
Those final words as she stands get him to think. Is he planning to die? That's a good question. And it takes him a few moments to think up an appropriate response. "Less 'planning' and more 'acceptance'," he decides.
Tiger Mask nods at Duo's explanation that it's unlikely to happen again. "I'm glad to hear that. We probably shouldn't have issues, then." Her voice has a little warmth to it. Which is perhaps wierd for someone who's obstensibly a hero talking about how good of a job at murder coverups someone's doing?
"I hope you're enjoying your fleeting life." And... she sounds like she means that, too. "Speaking of which, I've probably wasted enough of your time." There's only so much preparation that's going to be useful to this guy, and if it comes down to it, she'd prefer he dies than this assassin she's gotten to know just a little bit better. She starts to head out, waves a hand goodbye to him.
"Enjoy the rest of your day, Lon!"
'Lon' gives a simple nod at the wave and the farewell. He's a man of few words-- why use five when three work just fine? Why use any at words all when none are needed? But at least the nod is a polite one and he does make eye contact as she starts to head out.
There's a lot that doesn't add up about her Duo decides. If she really thought of herself as a hero she would have been instantaneously on him in that alley to beat him down. She wouldn't have basically told him 'just don't let me see you' when he made it known he wasn't going to change for her. And she wouldn't have a goal like 'become the most powerful being in world'.
That last part sort of set him on edge a little. It sounded like... like something his father would have said. Could there be a connection? No-- he didn't feel anything familiar from her. Still. Maybe it was a sign that he was getting closer to his own real goal? Either that or a cosmic slap to tell him to be more careful. Ultimately he'd take it as the latter until the former was proven.
Finishing his tea happens a few moments later. And in a stroke of what anyone else would probably call extreme paranoia, he takes the cup with him. Never can be too careful.
Log created on 23:55:22 02/21/2015 by Duo Lon, and last modified on 08:50:56 02/22/2015.