Challenge: Vanilla #22: Gossip / A Rumour
Word Count: 848
Summary: Ghost tries to discuss matters with Sable, and finds repetition falls on deaf ears.
Notes: Weird irony today. I can't find the right words for what I mean when I write, and yet I woke up this morning with exactly the right word in my head - only when I checked, I found out it doesn't exist. Which makes it perfect for the name of a mysterious contraption. I think my brain corrupted the word 'lemniscate' whilst I slept...
Also, this took ages to write and goes nowhere, always fun! [/dead]
"How do you come to have a picture of it?" Ghost asked, so dizzy with disbelief that only Sable's hand on her arm prevented her from stepping in front of a rag-and-bone man who trundled past with little more than a disapproving tut. "It doesn't even exist!"
"It's a long story. A very long story." She wondered if that was a note of uncertainty in his voice; if it was, his face didn't betray the emotion. He didn't look at her. "I don't think it would be appropriate to discuss it here."
Ghost cast another glance at the man; Sable's face was set in an expression of deep thought. At that angle, it almost suited him. Shame about the personality, she couldn't quite stop herself from thinking, before hurriedly shoving the notion to the back of her mind. It didn't do to be personal with clients, particularly those with pictures of that. "Where would it be appropriate to discuss it?"
It was an innocent enough question, but the glance he speared her with made her wonder if there was even more to the matter than she might think. Whether her shock was betrayed by her expression she didn't know, but something in his eyes hardened as he turned from her again, taking her so firmly by the elbow she winced and pulling her down a narrow side street away from the bustle of the road. "Not where anyone can hear it!" He hissed.
She shook herself free from his gloved grip, stepping away from him so quickly she almost collided with the brick wall of a ramshackle house. "If you do that again..." She let her voice trail off; there was nothing she could do, of course. Sable was in appearance, if not in manner, a gentleman. Ghost didn't expect he would take physical threats from the likes of her seriously. When he said nothing, she took a deep breath. "What're you expecting? It doesn't exist!"
"If it doesn't exist." Sable sighed, "why do you keep looking at that photograph as if you can't believe your eyes?"
"Because- Because..." Words were failing her. "It's nothing more than a rumour! Idle mechanic's gossip!"
Although his features were obscured by the shadows of the alleyway, Ghost had the distinct impression that he was looking at her from underneath his dark lashes. "And you don't believe that rumours can have at least one foot firmly in the fact?"
"The Lemnoscope," Ghost said firmly, "has never even had a toe based in fact."
She couldn't be sure of it, but for a moment Ghost could have sworn that a smile flitted over sour Sable's face. "That, Ms. Ghost," she wondered if he was deliberately emphasising her title, "is something I shall clearly have to convince you of."
She had no intention of being swayed. "The only way you could convince me is to show me it. And you will never-"
She was interrupted by the sound of footsteps ringing out like gun shots in the gloom, and Sable's strong grip on her arm. She opened her mouth to complain; he covered her lips with one finger and tightened his hold. The steps ceased.
How long they remained in that position Ghost couldn't tell, both breathing so lightly and with so little movement they could have been as two corpses. Only when the footsteps resumed, their echoes dimming as their owner retreated down the passage, did Sable let both his hands fall to his sides. Ghost gasped for air. "Why did you do that?!"
His eyes fixed firmly on the other end of the now empty alleyway, he said softly, "Ms. Ghost, there is more to this than you could imagine."
"I have no intention of imagining it!" She thrust the photograph back at him and he took it without even turning to her, tucking it back into the pocket in his suit lining. "I decline your commission, Mr. Sable. I don't know what you're involved in, but I want no part of it!"
This time he turned back to her and she internally cursed the darkness of the passageway: his face was still shrouded. "You're declining the chance to discover one of the wonders of the century?"
"A 'wonder' that you cannot prove exists!"
"Ms. Ghost, you saw the proof for yourself," he said sharply.
She choked back a laugh. "I saw no such thing! I saw a grainy photograph that could be anything! It was purely my own fanciful imagination! Now, if you will excuse me," she spun on her heel, "I am leaving."
He tried to grab for her arm again but this time she was prepared, jerking it out of his reach as his fingers brushed her sleeve. "You can't leave!" He called after her without making a move to follow.
"Watch me," she snapped back. "Watch my back, leaving." The light of the street was almost blinding after the cool darkness of the alley, and comfortingly full of strangers who paid her no heed.
She could have sworn she heard him sigh, and told herself she didn't care.