Story: Don't Be Fooled By This
Prompt: Pear 26. forgive & forget
Word count: 1776
Notes: 2nd day of the 1k+ Marathon for team Rainbow Brains! This scene is from later in the story than the last piece with Eva and Vivian, when Raley, Eva and Ishida are in the middle of a more involved con. It's kind of bad timing like that.
This whole time, he'd been hoping she thought he was dead. Vivian catches up with Raley. FINALLY.
He was sitting at one of the tables tucked away at the corner of the bar, hand around a glass of scotch. His choice of drink on a bad day. He didn't like the taste even, just the warm, burning sensation of it sliding down his throat. It was almost comforting.
He didn't see her until she was almost on top of him, sliding into the chair across the table. And even then, when she was right there in front of him, he couldn't quite believe it. Vivian Peel. Sitting across from him.
This whole time, he'd been hoping she thought he was dead.
"Viv," he managed to croak.
"Long time no see, Alan," she said.
It wasn't until then he noticed that she wasn't alone, that there was a man standing behind her, oversized, hulking-type. As Raley looked up at him, the man's eyes flitted away. He didn't take a seat, though he was clearly with Vivian.
"Time's been good to you," she said, patting her hair. It was still cropped and bleached blonde, styled impeccably, tapering from the back of her neck. Everything about her was sharp. Raley swallowed. He looked at the man behind her again.
"Oh don't look at him, sweetie," Vivian said. "Look at me. I'm so glad to see you."
Raley didn't answer, still trying to swallow the lump in his throat.
"You wouldn't believe what I've been through trying to find you," Vivian said. She glanced down at the dish of unshelled peanuts at the center of the table, picked one up between her long, witchy fingernails. She brought the peanut up to her lips, but didn't eat it. "On the other hand, maybe you would. It took me long enough, didn't it? Almost ten years."
Raley still felt like he couldn't breathe; it was ridiculous that she could still scare the shit out of him. He looked down to his glass of scotch, then tossed it back down his throat. The burning sensation filled the empty pit of his stomach. Vivian still looked so unassuming, not even a large woman, not intimidating in her attractiveness nor in her sex appeal which Raley supposed she had, even though he could never quite see it. She was trying to make eyes at him maybe, but at the end of the day, every look of hers was cold.
"What are you doing here?" Raley managed finally.
"I could ask you the same thing." Vivian popped the peanut into her mouth, ground down with her teeth. "It doesn't seem like your usual sort of city."
And what do you know about my "usual sort of city"? Raley wanted to ask, but if Vivian had actually been trailing him for the last ten years, he wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"What do you want?" he asked instead.
"You know what I want."
Raley bit his lip, leaned back in his chair. He knew she wouldn't make a scene here, not in front of a room full of bar patrons.
"What if I don't have it?" he asked.
Vivian laughed. "I know you have it, Alan. I bet you know it off the top of your head. You could just give it to me here, now, and the whole thing would be over." She snapped her fingers, looking up suddenly to her lurking companion. "Pen?"
The man fished into his coat and pulled out a cheap Bic. Vivian held it between her nails as if it were something distasteful and offered it to Raley, along with a cocktail napkin. "Just give me the account number, and you'll never see me again."
Raley stared at the pen.
"If you refuse," Vivian said, "you know I have ways of making your life difficult. And if you decide to flee again, there's only a matter of time until I find you."
She was still holding out the pen, trying to play cool, but Raley saw the twitch right below her left eye when her threat was met with silence.
Raley laughed at that. "I know how you play. That account number is the only reason you haven't killed me."
"It's been ten years, Alan. I've grown up." When he refused the pen again, she slammed it down on the table. "I'm trying to play nice, you know."
"Well, you're not very good at it."
Vivian crossed her arms, rocking back in her chair hard enough to bump her companion, who took a step backwards.
"Who's your muscle anyway?" Raley asked, jerking her chin to the guy. "He your boyfriend or something?"
Vivian's mouth made a hard line. If she furrowed her eyebrows any further, they might just crawl down her face.
"You know, Alan," she said, "I was so ready to forgive and forget."
Raley didn't believe that for a second.
"But you want to do this the hard way." She sighed, reaching to pick up the pen again. She handed it back to the man behind her. "That's fine. I do have a plan B, you know. I'll get what I want eventually, and you'll have wished you took me up on my offer."
"You threatened me," Raley said. "I don't consider that an offer."
Vivian smiled, laying her hands out flat on the table top. "No matter now. You've decided not to cooperate. And now you'll be coming with us."
Raley had no plans to stick around. "Sorry," he said, "but that doesn't really work for me.”
"Silly man," Vivian said. "It's like you think you have a choice."
Raley didn't respond. He nodded somewhere over her shoulder, where her companion, suddenly pale, cleared his throat and muttered, "Ms. Peel..."
Vivian whipped around to find her muscle standing with his hands raised to his shoulders. Behind him, barely visible beyond the man's large frame, Ishida was standing with a gun pressed to his spine. Raley quickly scanned the room, but no one else appeared to be paying attention; in the darkened bar, Raley hoped it looked like an innocuous gesture.
"I have a plan B too," Raley said. He nodded to the man his partner was holding at gun point. "Do you have a weapon?"
The man hesitated for a second—Vivian was sending him a death glare—before carefully reaching into the front of his pants and pulling out a revolver. Ishida grabbed it from behind him, quickly stashed it in his jacket. At that moment, the other man turned around to look at him and for a second, Ishida's face changed.
When Raley looked back at Vivian's thug, the man's mouth was hanging open. "What—" he started to ask, but Ishida must have dug the gun harder into his back, because he closed his mouth again.
"We're leaving," Ishida said, more to Raley. He steered his captive towards the seat beside Vivian. "You two are going to sit here, facing the wall, and enjoy a round of drinks while we walk out."
Vivian sneered. "Like hell we will."
"Well, you better take your time, anyway," Raley said, standing. He nodded towards Ishida. "We've got no interest in a shoot-out in here, but you better hope we're long gone by the time you two step outside." He leaned in closer to Vivian. "Pick up my tab too, while you're at it?"
"This isn’t over," Vivian threatened, as he picked up his coat. “I’ll find you.”
“Sure you will,” Ishida said. He grabbed Raley’s arm, pulling him a step towards the door. Vivian and her companion were still facing the wall.
Raley gave Ishida the nod, and the two made a dash for the exit.
“I told you guns can be useful sometimes,” Ishida said, once they'd put what Raley hoped was sufficient distance between themselves and Vivian. Raley glanced over their shoulders in the direction of the bar. Despite his attempt at a threat, he had trouble believing that Vivian would actually stay inside and not come charging after them, her scary nails as her only weapon. Ishida tapped his shoulder. “Raley?”
“Sorry.” Raley tried to take a deep breath. “I know guns can be useful. It doesn’t mean I have to like them.”
After glancing around the empty street, Ishida offered the revolver to Raley by the barrel. “Want to throw Rock’s down the sewer grate?"
Raley was reaching for the gun, glad to oblige. Then he froze. “Rock? Wait, you knew that guy?”
The color drained from Ishida’s face. But then he shook his head, quickly recovered. “Just someone I’ve seen around,” he told Raley. Then he threw the gun down the grate himself. It bounced, then hit the soft cushion of leaves below. Ishida turned the corner, Raley close behind.
“Who is he?” Raley asked.
“A drug addict and a loser,” Ishida snapped. “He’s no threat.”
Raley shook his head. “But Vivian is. I know I haven’t told you much about her, but I know how she works and it isn’t pretty.”
Ishida looked like he might want to scoff at that, but he didn’t; his attention was pulled by a cab parked just down the street, which he managed to wave over.
“I’m serious,” Raley said, as the car crept up to meet him. “She might not seem like that much of a threat, but she surrounds herself with some seriously deranged people. Dangerous. You want to talk about all the close calls I’ve had with that?”
Ishida opened the cab door and slid inside. “Lucky Seven motel,” he told the driver. Turning back to Raley, who was shutting the door, he said, “That guy she was with isn’t really the dangerous type.”
“Well maybe he’s not,” Raley said, “but that just means he’s working close-in. She needs protection from her other mouth-breathing hires too.”
Ishida stared out the window, folding his arms. Finally, he turned back to Raley. “You’re not exaggerating, are you?”
“No,” Raley said. “I’m not.”
“So what are we supposed to do then?” Ishida glanced up to the cabbie for a second, but he seemed engrossed in whatever talk radio program he had on. “Get out of town?”
Raley shook his head. “Not while we still have unfinished business.”
“You mean…” Ishida lowered his voice. “Don’t you think we should let that one go? There will be other marks—”
“This one’s got a thousand dollars of our money,” Raley said. “We’re going to finish this.”
“So what’s the plan, then?”
“We’re changing motels when we get back. Then we’ll be changing every night until the game is over. We can shake Vivian for the next couple of days, at least."
Ishida sighed. “And then what?”
Raley turned to him, glimmer of something in his eyes. “Then how do you feel about Canada?” he said.
I was working on this when I was sick, so apologies if it's a little wonky :)