Description: Duo's finding it harder to locate places in Southtown to do his job. Case in point, Ash and Shenwoo manage to spoil an assassination when their walk takes them through an alley Duo's "working" in. Shenwoo beats Duo up a little, and Ash is a douche-- typical of them both, right? But it leaves Duo with enough of a reason to hunt Ash down again...
How did Ash Crimson get home from Zack Island?
Magic, that's how.
Shen accosted him right off the hop for details, not even allowing the pyrokinetic to unpack. There were many questions regarding the one fight that was never broadcast, but the willowy flamewielder was rather reticent to share. He... shrugged and said it was dull, said he could've found a million better things to do. Maybe he included a few snide remarks, but all half-hearted. Strange. Disconnected. Like Ash had changed somehow, but the self-styled 'God of Battle' dismissed it as probably jet-lag and left matters alone, as is his wont.
If Ash didn't want to talk about it, who cares! That should become Shen Woo's motto.
But not wanting to talk about it became not talking at all, and hours stretched into days. Perhaps it's been a week? Whatever Ash was doing, locked up in his room for so long and making no effort to appear, or what he was thinking as he stared blankly out the window, it is a mystery.
Then, this afternoon, he approached Shen who was deeply involved watching some game-show thing about progressively punching each other back and forth in the face until your opponent is knocked out. "We need groceries," Ash announced, smiling brightly, as good as new. Or he certainly seems to be.
Whether the brawler likes it or not, his arms are laden with plastic bags, forced to carry items ranging from almond milk to a head of fresh lettuce. All sorts of good, healthy things to eat. It should be a welcome change, considering how Shen probably eats only fast food and delivery whenever Ash is away. The slender teen has a few bags of his own, but he's not nearly burdened with quite the same quantity.
He also does this annoying thing once and a while, pinching Shen's sleeve. No explanation is offered. Freak.
The effeminate Frenchman chatters away as if to make up for lost time, likely driving his roommate up the fricken' wall because he points out odd things on the street or in windows that they pass. Sometimes, Ash pauses long enough to wait for an answer to a question, but interrupts it to surge into more ridiculous blathering until they reach the mouth of an alley that is pretty dark considering the hour.
It's the quickest way home, not that Ash is any hurry. He could continue to walk and talk forever, but he's already turning in that direction and gravel scrapes underfoot. "Saa, what should I make for dinner?" he wonders aloud, popping his lips. The sound echoes back in a manner almost creepy, and is probably punctuated by some sort of grunt or snort from his companion. No help at all there, Shen.
Shenwoo wrote many things off as Ash just being weird or that he seemed to cause weird things to gravitate towards him. Possible alien abduction was a prime example. Shenwoo was not certain of extra-terrastrial life before but now he is. Ash Crimson could not have been abducted by aliens if aliens did not exist, afterall. It had lead to a very accepting relationship. One in which Shenwoo would jaw jack about the matter and then eventually give up when it became clear that the situation just didn't care.
Laden down with a pack mule, Shenwo follows after or walks along beside Ash throughout their return trip. reusable bags hung from the lengths of his lower arm and dangled from his hand. The weight itself was no large issue but the trip was growing irksome. His arms, things more used to propelling his fists into things, were growing annoyed by their use in daily chores or manual labor. They were letting Shen know in the form of a slow, mellow ache thay had begun to take root.
This helped the brawlers mood not at all, of course. "This is stupid." he snarled to himself as he shifted his shoulders and refirmed his grip. "Spent all that money on crap, could have at least gotten a taxi!" he jabbered against the steady stream of one sided conversation spilling from Ash... It was annoying... but better than the alternative.
Shenwoo paid little attention to the alley before them. His braincells, the few that remained, were in congress on the matter of dinner.
His initial offer of a unkowing grunt was soon followed by a simple request of "Meat." as he followed after Ash.
People going about their lives in the night generally don't see the tiny things that go on in the alleys and side streets where they can't immediately see. They generally don't pay attention, partly because it would take them away from their normal lives. And partly because their minds likely couldn't take the implications.
It just so happens that, in this night, something is happening in one of those alleys. And it just so happens to be the one that Something dark. Something deadly. The only audible clue is a moist 'thunk'. The scent comes first-- a sharp, coppery undertone to the smells of the city. A dark trickle runs out through a crack in the asphalt.
It's about then that Ash and Shen come into the alley. The street slopes down a little... just enough that the blood creeps ever closer to the pair's feet as they walk forward. And it's not just the blood. There's a body there. Someone's dead. And there's a man(?) walking past, too. Tall, lanky, with a feminine face and long nails. Wearing a trench coat buttoned up around that lanky frame. He walks past the body as if he doesn't even see it.
Oh but he sees Ash and Shen, though. A hard gaze fastens on the two of them, one at a time, as if trying to gauge something about them...
Goddammit, he wasn't abducted by aliens. No matter how often Shen has asked him this, the answer remains the same...
Except that Ash never bothers to explain just where he was, either. It's not surprising that the theory keeps coming back time and again to haunt him despite his denial. By this point, the Frenchman has just accepted that... His only real friend here is an idiot.
"Oui, oui, you've mentioned it once or twice already," he waves off complaints, blatantly ignores all remarks regarding money and taxis. Like the self-styled 'God of Battle' has any room to bitch; it wasn't /his/ pocket change or anything. Be grateful. Ash sashays as he moves, more womanly in action than appearance, entering the alley at the side of his companion. He finds a new topic to natter about - Shen's lack of clothes in the winter - and stops suddenly...
Fully stops, almost stumbling because he nearly steps in a seaping puddle of scarlet. Putrid-smelling air invades his nose, mouth and lungs, rank with blood and death.
Once upon a time, Ash was very familiar with these things. In another life, another future. He still is, to some extent...
Blue eyes widen to their limits as he swallows bile, the plastic bags sliding to the crook of his elbow when Crimson reaches and grips the sleeve of Shen's shirt. Some might think he's afraid, but his hold is firm without tremble, and soon slender fingers relax, allowing the silk to slip away. For a moment...
Nevermind, it's nobody's business but his.
Ash schools his expression into indifference, despite the sickening churn of his stomach and the tumultuous swirl of emotions kept carefully concealed by his facade. The depths of eyes like the clear sky offer no warmth, condemnation or coldness -- there is simply nothing at all...
And then he smirks faintly, one corner of his broad slash of a mouth turning further upward. "Ahaha, are you sure you want meat?" Ash... jokes, to Shen Woo. Dryly. No humour can be found, no musical lilt to his French accent.
Pale blonde hair flutters as it is caught up in a gentle breeze, settling against his freckled features, partially obscuring them. "Saa, what exactly must this person have done... in order to deserve to be killed?" Sometimes, Ash still speaks English rather awkwardly, and he meets the chilling, hard gaze with something... oppressing. Crushing. An aura of great threat. The man(?) is acting like he was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, so it's only natural to assume Duo is responsible. "I'd be interested to know, because I'm the only one who can stop him." He's all fox-face, smiling like the sly animal.
Nice nails, by the way.
"Shut up, I have enough-!" Shenwoo begins his contrary retort only to have it die on his lips when Ash suddenly draws short. His braincells can barely muster curiosity before the familier stink of murder hits him like a forgotten bill. Damnit, what now? Then he spots it, a corpse and a cause. A presumed cause. The cause doesn't look roughed up either so less a fight and more just a killing. Boring, lame, trashy.
The absent look of annoyance drained out of Shenwoo's face as the facts were filed away inside of his brain. It left a stoney look of displeasure across the brawler's face. Fists lifted despite their burdens, bags shifting, their contents jostling as Shenwoo's arms drew them up. The ache was forgotten, carrying groceries and beating someone's fool face in worked off of two different set of muscles!
Before he could launch in like a bag lady gone wild, Shenwoo felt another tug at his sleeve. This one earned Ash a glance. To see the french flkamer handling it so well did not detract or particularly improve his notion of Ash. Ash was strong, this was expected. Still... why did he keep grabbing that damn sleeve?! For now, Shenwoo msread it as a cue to wait.
His arms lowered but once his attention returned to the figure, it remained. "Don't be dumb, of course I do!" replied Shenwoo in kind to Ash's little jeer... The other guy might be dead but that doesn't mean he can cheat Shenwoo out of a good meal!
Beyond that, Shenwoo waited. Ash had the floor, all he had left to do was to press one, balled fist to another and grind them together, knuckles snapping and popping with the effort in a breif snap of sound to get the point across... that he was thinking about punching something.
He's always thinking about punching something.
Duo had been about to walk right past Ash and Shen Woo, but he stops when Ash speaks. And he fights the urge to facepalm. God, what /is/ it about Southtown? It's like a guy can't even murder one human trafficker in an alley without fifteen people jumping in and demanding to know what's going on, is this the only way, and wouldn't Duo like to 'walk the path of light'. Ugh. He's going to have to start planning these better, take into account wannabe heroes.
The paler of the two walkers appears to have caught on, and asks about the dead man. Duo looks from Ash to Shen Woo, noting the preparation for violence. And shrugs. "...Who knows?" He does, but he's not telling. Putting his hands in his pockets, "Probably nothing anyone not involved with needs to bother with."
He looks to the dead man again, turning his head to the side a little. His braid bobs to the side, the ball on the end of the braid swinging lightly into view. "Seems hazardous to one's health." A threat? Warning? Could be either. That also sort of clears up whether he's maleor female. That's definitely a man's voice. He speaks English well, but with a trace of a Chinese accent.
It's amusing how quickly this entire situation would have dissolved if the man (yes, it is a man?!) had just answered one simple question. Was Duo Lon looking for a fight?
However, he does assume that the pair of Ash and Shen have a strong moral code, which they do not. They are hardly the champions of justice. They're so far from wannabe heroes that the very idea is so laughable to the player that she excused herself for a pee break.
More likely, Shen and Ash... are drawn to trouble. True neutral entities, who are capable of seeing reason and thus responding reasonably...
Except when his punch-happy meat-shield is making ready for fisticuffs. Whoops. Maybe Shen shoots first and asks questions later when confronted with straight up murder.
"Che." Ash clicks his tongue off the backs of his teeth.
He's not surprised at the declaration that the brawler still wants meat, even after laying eyes on the lump of dead person not so far from them down the alleyway. His sleeve-pinch is misread and entirely to his benefit. "Who knows~" he echoes in a sing-song so infuriating, transferring all of the few bags he was carrying to one arm. Ash's fox-like grin remains plastered all over his freckled face. The teen then offers the freed arm to Shen, to accept his burden, as well. "I don't think it's wise that you underestimate either one of us, however. You're Chinese, aren't you? The way you dress reminds me of someone..."
It's a long, long pause. Could the flamboyant French pyrokinetic simply be bluffing, or is there something he knows? Like about the Hizoku, or Ron?
"His name is Shen Woo. He told me it means, 'God of Battle'." Blue eyes lazily travel from the darker haired Chinaman to the fair-haired brawler. "If you'd rather not give us a reason as to why there's a body in this alleyway at your feet, I'm sure Shen would be more than happy to punch one out of you. You don't like this sort of thing, do you, Shen?" It's not that Ash does, his stomach still twisting and writhing, but the flamewielder is not so violently opposed... Or maybe he doesn't care. Maybe he does. Maybe he just enjoys manipulating Shen. Does it matter?
Ash is very, VERY careful not to step in blood as he moves to the side and hopefully out of the way, leaning against the wall with all of the groceries, a lacklustre smile and an obscuring lock of blonde hair concealing his shrewd and calculating gaze, pupils narrowed, entirely focused upon Duo Lon because if there's any way to to understand a man, it's to fight him, or at least watch very closely.
The ox of a man, freed of his burden, rolls his shoulders to losen them. Muscles twist and bunch on the powerful haunces of the man beneath his open shirt, pectorals tighten and lax. Ash talks, he jabbers on. It reminds him of their first meeting. Ash talking, him about to punch someone... Well, he was in the process of punching someone at that moment but the point stands. "Keep yapping." Shen offers Ash, "'Cause he ain't going to be very talkative when I pound his teeth down his throat!" his voice builds from a simmering sort of malice and into a harsh snarl by the end of the sentence. Shen is off like a shot with a bellow like a angered bull.
There's nothing special about it, he's just a whole lot of meat and a big, hard fist that's coming right at Duo Lon's head.
Duo Lon's keeping his attention split between the two...right up until Ash says Duo's clothes remind him of someone. Then he gives Ash a flat stare. He turns in Ash's direction and stills utterly. It's difficult to tell he's even breathing. Which he must be, because he asks in the next instant, "... Who does it remind you of?"
Except uh... he's not going to have time to process any response from Ash. At least not in that moment. Because suddenly Shen is swinging at him! He suddenly leans back... and leans... and LEANS. Until he's supporting his body almost horizontally on his feet, somehow without falling onto his back. The brief contortionist act sends the fist sailing over him, though with less than an inch to spare.
Though instead of attacking back, Duo straightens, and backs up. Though instead of stepping back, he seems to blur with motion and it's hard to tell exactly what backwards movement he made. He still has a neutral expression on his face. "Stop it," he says flatly. "You don't want to get involved."
The man in the dress would have been better served by just taking the hit. Without the satisfying thud of his fist landing against the bendy-man's face, Shenwoo is left with a unsated punch-lust. If anything, Duo Lon has proved himself at least a capable combatant rather than just some alley-dick with a panchant for murder and a silly sense of fashion.
"Who the hell do you think I am?!" snarled Shen, his furnace stoked and his head all full of the steam. If he was concerned about Duo's expeditious retreat, he didn't show it, he just kept coming on like a mule after a carrot at the end of a stick. "Lets see you be this cryptic and broody when I knockj you on your ass!" he prattled as he swung twice more, left came hurtling around and then the right follwed after. Two blows in great, sweeping arcs. He was ready for that evasive little trick to pop up again, of course. His booted foot sweeping out in a short, blunt kick at one of Duo's ankles.
Now Duo's starting to get a little annoyed. But the strike is also enough to prove to him that Shen Woo isn't just a random blustering idiot who's gotten into something over his head. He might be able to handle knowing a little anyway. But then again, first Duo has to get the idiot to stop attacking him.
He hasn't tried to attack Shen yet. And he doesn't seem like he's going to start. Two punches come at him, but this time he does that motion blur to escape them. He does not, however, see the kick aimed at his ankle. Emitting a short grunt of surprise, he stumbles, leaving him off-balance for a moment...
A bark of triumph is shot from Shenwoo's lips the moment his boot finds purchase. The punches weren't feints, he's not clever enough, nor does he disrespect his fists enough to employ them in something as dumb as a feint. Still, they got the job done. Now with Duo Lon's guard lowered for just the moment, Shenwoo capitalizes!
"Where's your cryptic bullshit now?!" the brawler demands as a hand lashes out to anchor itself on Duo Lon's collar, a attempt to further cut off any chance of the necromancer's escape. It'll give him that much more leverage as well, a tug trying to pull the slighter man off of his heels after Shen plants his heels and cocks his free hand back by his hip.
The shot is short, blunt and nasty, his entire body leaned into the gut shot that sends Shen Woo's fist hurtling from his own hip and hurtling towards the bendy weirdo's abdomen.
Suddenly Duo is very glad he hasn't eaten supper yet. Because as that fist lands square in his gut, the urge the vomit is almost overwhelming. That hit does land true, with a solid, dull THWACK! In response there is a 'ngh!' from Mr. Bendy McWeirdo. Even this close, though, Duo doesn't return fire. Of course, it's anybody's guess if he doesn't want to or just plain CAN'T. And suddenly Shen is more holding Duo UP than holding him OFF.
"Do you choose not to fight because you're afraid it will prove your guilt?"
Until now, Ash Crimson has remained silent and watchful of the exchange. When he calls out, he cuts the tension with the sharp edge of his voice. It's like the harsh crack of a whip, and it comes with a faint smirk, "Or do you hope that through passive participation, it will prove your innocence?" He's got so many bags of groceries, the plastic handles looped around his elbow. Tapping a finely manicured nail of royal blue against his protruding lower lip, a sound rumbles deep in his throat to show that the Frenchman might be pondering such mysteries, at least until he grows bored and abandons them.
Speaking of mysteries and secrets, the flameslinger has a few of his own; Duo asked who he was reminded of, but Ash deliberately taunted him, mouthing something that was lost. The thin assassin had no choice but to defend himself or be knocked the fug out, ahaha. Total douche move.
He clears his throat, then addresses the self-styled 'God of Battle', "Shen, take some of these, they're getting heavy." Should his friend decide that the (impolite) request is not worthy of acknowledgement, someone will be eating like a rabbit for the next week or two. Better hop to it. Ash holds the heaviest bags out in order to pass them along.
This can't happen without much grumbling and protest, but once that is over and done, the slender blonde rubs his wrist, rotating it gingerly. "I can tell," he begins, blue eyes flitting to the body for what Ash hopes will be the final time before continuing, "that you didn't kill this man for pleasure or revenge... It looks like an assassination, which would explain why you wanted us to turn away." The pyrokinetic winds a forelock around two fingers.
A sweet, melodic laugh. Shoulders hiking up just a touch. "I suppose he was... an unsavoury sort, oui? A murderer? A rapist?" There's a beat that goes here. Ash pushes away from the wall and saunters up between them, but still careful to avoid treading through blood on the ground. He's nowhere near the Hizoku's height, but somehow still manages to leer, his presence something else. The same suffocating, overwhelming aura from before. "If we're going to be friends, Duo Lon, you'll need to learn to trust us a little." -- Hold up, Ash, don't go declaring things when you haven't consulted Sh--
Wait, what the fuck! Did he just name the assassin so candidly, without even being told?!
"Is this all you've got you twisty sonuva-?!" jeered Shenwoo as he extended the arm holding Duo by the collar, pressing him out at arm's length while the other arm cocked back past his ear. This one was going right for the melon! Or it would have... Had Ash not been such a wimp!
His shoulder is just shifting forward when Ash calls him. "WHAT?!" he demands initialy, head snapping around to regard the spectator. When the request is voiced, Shenwoo is all but floored, "Hold the-? I'm about to whoop this guy's ass and you want me-?" he started and stopped like a fledgling driver making love to the break pedal, soon he just sputtered his anger and indignation... before conceeding the point. With one last pointed glare cast Duo's wa, Shen gave the slighter man a push, it would give him a wall to lean on until he got his breath back.
Nostrils flared with his displeasure, a aggrivated snort heaving the unvented hot air from his lungs. "Stupid goddamnedalien attracting-" Shenwoo groused and cursed as he accepted one bag and then another and then another and then another. Each one only irritated him more as if they were weights on the scale of his mood.
Soon enough, he, like a petulant child spurned of a toy or a bit of candy at a checkout line, Shenwoo was sulking near the alleys nearest eentryway.
Ash won't have to worry about not being Duo's height. Duo's finding it difficult to stand to his full height thanks to a fist in the gut. And then Shen pushes him back, against a wall, and Duo doesn't bother to prevent it. He's gonna need a minute anyway. It's still hard to breathe, but Duo manages. Just enough to say something. What is it? It's their precious explanation, the one they wanted enough for Shen to beat it out of him.
"... Human trafficker."
Yup. Unsavory sort.
There is a frisson of shock that comes to his face when Ash calls him by name. Random people knowing his name never sits well with Duo. Mainly because it's always a universally BAD thing when someone can name him; it's always someone who's trying to stop him or wants to kill him for some reason.
It's true, he hadn't fought back. Not because he wanted to make them think he was innocent. But because he wanted to keep potential innocents from getting involved. But now... he didn't know what to think.
Neither confirming or denying that was his name, he instead turned to another part of Ash's statement. "I don't know you to consider you a friend," he stated. Though, even if he's talking to Ash, he's still keeping a close eye on Shenwoo. Getting hit like that once is one time too many.
Oh. Duo is pushed to the wall, Shen storms away to the mouth of the alley. Guess that means the flamboyant flamewielder is still technically between them, right? Maybe? The spindly-limbed Chinaman eyes his companion off in the distance, but the one he should be focused on is Ash directly in front of him. If the shorter of the two holds the mad brawler's leash, no doubt there is a reason as to why. A very good reason, because the self-styled 'God of Battle' is roughly twice the size of Crimson, with arms that look like they're about the same thickness as his slim waist...
Would you believe that they both hit equally hard?
The aliens must have-- fuck dammit, Shen, keep your stupid theory to yourself before I catch it! A strong temptation almost compells him to punch his friend in the face, long after the groceries have been handed away!
Ash coldly dismisses his urge, loathe to do so as he allows pleasantries to return, his face full of sunshine and cheer. Duo Lon's breathless, offering his explanation and then presenting an incontrovertible truth. He knows, both of those things. Head canting to the side, blonde bangs swinging into his sight, he replies with easy confidence to the last, "You will, but why don't we just start with introductions for now?" Splaying a hand across his chest, the smile doesn't reach his startling cerulean eyes, "Je m'appelle Ash. Ash Crimson. You still remember his name, I hope?" A careless wave in Shen's direction -- that's pretty harsh, you dick.
The effeminate flamewielder resumes fiddling with his hair, coiling the pale strands so tightly around his slender fingers that they slowly cut off circulation. Royal blue nails flash as they catch the light, possibly from a car's headlights as it passes by. "Let's all go for Shanghai crab sometime."
This is totally happening with a dead body o'er yonder. Unsurprisingly, it's not all that strange to him.
He suddenly pivots sharply on the balls of his feet, rocks scraping beneath expensive dress shoes of white. It removes the deceased from his sight and Ash instantly feels much better. Next, he'll seek fresh air. "Ahaha, mentioning food makes me hungry..." Certainly a capricious, fickle, odd person. Did the skinny teen... set Shen on the assassin for fun? Entertainment? Couldn't have, he was convincingly shocked... "Should I make Steak Tartare. Boeuf Bourguignon? Have you ever tried Hachis Parmentier, je t'aime?" Just like that, the pyrokinetic sashays to his, er, love? They'll take the long way home, he doesn't mind, as long as he doesn't have to walk past the actual corpse. He won't look down into those glassy, empty eyes.
Whether the barbarian likes it or not, he receives another sleeve-tug in passing, but still lacking clarification on why it is done. "Ne pas marcher lentement," Ash chides him as if he were the one who dawdles EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME. Wow. The two leave Duo to clean up or blend into shadows, whatever it is that the Hizoku do after a successful mission. Have a glass of wine or something, whatever.
Shenwoo is still a little miffed about the entire ordeal when Ash finally sets off on his merry way. Word of food serves to ameliorate his mood more and more as Ash... just spouts absolute gibberish. "Are you even speaking a language right now?!" he wonders sharply. Were Ash to present Shenwo with a plate of uncoked beef, he's liable to suspect that Ash is mad at him... or wants a punch in the throat.
He casts a glance over his shoulder, following along once more, a attack dog on a frayed leash. "What the hell happened there, did you seriously just pick that guy up?" Shenwoo wondered, "Are you collecting guys now for something?!"
A blink, a scowl. Ash thrusts his finger out, "Oi, what's that over there?!" When the other blonde's head swivels on the axis of his neck to glance in that direction, he's jabbed hella hard in the kidney by a sharp, ruthless poke. "Ferme ta bouche, connard."
Weird. That's the only thing Duo has to describe that. But 'Ash' does have a point. There's a lot of things Duo wants to ask. How does he look 'familiar' to Ash? How does he know Duo's name? But this is neither the time or place to question Ash. The police would probably show up soon, and he can't afford to get caught. He watches the pair leave, narrowing his eyes. He'd remember this.
No sooner are they out of sight than Duo's form just disintegrates into nothing. Only dust is left to fall, and after a moment even that soon disappears. And then he is gone, without a trace.
Log created on 23:26:19 02/25/2015 by Duo Lon, and last modified on 15:23:59 03/07/2015.