A surly lady in tremor (blacknarcissus2) wrote in unrealized,
A surly lady in tremor
blacknarcissus2
unrealized

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Erm...::ahem::

Have another bit of Gangsterverse! *grin* Thank you to Toni, Tracy and Nomie for letting me use their boys and girl. *hugs*



~~~~~~~

MAKE BELIEVE

Véronique didn't respond to the sneer of the doorman, looking her up and down with a leer as she entered the Speakeasy. McCloy was in a bad mood so she knew she needed to keep her wits focused. It didn't take an expert to figure out the man's anger, but Véronique was fast becoming that expert.

He gripped her left arm, keeping her close by as he steered her towards a table. Not, she noticed with a sinking feeling, his usual one. That had been taken already, before they'd arrived. McCloy wouldn't make a scene, not here, not now, but Véronique knew it would only add fuel to the fire of his temper, which was already on a quiet rage given that they'd missed the first set. He didn't like to miss his little Welsh Warbler and, even though she was in no way to blame for their tardiness - in fact, she'd been ready and waiting for him for over an hour - Véronique was determined not to give him any reason to take it out on her later. Not, she thought wryly, that he ever needed an excuse.

So, she held her tongue, ignored the pain in her arm from where McCloy gripped her over the bangle she wore which almost covered the bruise, and scanned the room in silence, wearing an expression bordering on disdainful ennui.

Her mouth went dry and her heart leapt, but her face betrayed absolutely nothing as she registered the intense, blue eyed gaze from over in the corner by the door to the rear exit. She didn't pause to stare, not even for a microsecond. Nevertheless, amid all the other faces to which she paid no less attention, and some even more, it was his which stayed with her.

She'd seen him before, a few times. Usually with the dark haired Hungarian guy, sometimes with another one of Foster's gang. And Véronique was under no illusions. After all, pretty guys were sometimes the biggest thugs around. Hell, she could vouch for that personally. Not that it made any difference anyhow. He was unapproachable. Untouchable. But then again, so were McCloy's cronies unless he said otherwise. And she only discovered that when she was 'introduced' to them. She'd learned to remember their names only for as long as she was in their company, washing them away along with the memory of their pawing and grabbing and slapping and grunting and fucking as she bathed their sweat off her skin afterward. She preferred not to remember. And besides, she was certain that not many people knew or remembered her own name.

She was wrong.

~~~

"I see McCloy's brought his whore out tonight." Kovacs picked up his drink as he spoke and drained it back in one.

"Véronique," amended MacNamara absently, mirroring his companion's action as he continued to watch her on the periphery of his vision.

Kovacs arched an eyebrow. "Mac?"

MacNamara turned to look him fully in the eye. "Her name's Véronique. Or so I've been told."

Kovacs smirked. "Who you been talkin' to? No. You know what? Don't tell me, I'm not interested. 'Sides, a bitch by any other name's still a fuckin' dog. And you get more'n fleas for your trouble if you lie down with that one."

MacNamara's jaw twitched and set. He didn't reply straight away, but distracted himself from smashing Kovacs in the face by catching a waitress's attention and indicating a repeat round. Only then did he turn to the other man, still half-watching the waitress as she sashayed away from them. He nodded towards her.

"No more'n you OR I could pick up from the red-head."

Kovacs smirked again. "Mo doesn't get you a bullet in the head for touchin' stuff that don't belong to you. That one acts like we're all shit under her shoe, but she spreads 'em quick enough for anyone McCloy gives her to. And ONLY the ones he gives her to. She's nothin' but a pricey clockwork toy. And he's got the only key. He ain't gonna lend that to the likes of you or me, my friend."

MacNamara lifted his freshly-delivered glass in silence, dimly aware of Kovacs' hand sliding up the waitress's leg and her answering giggle and sharp retort, still watching Véronique as she took a sip from her own drink, which McCloy had ordered as soon as they'd sat down, seemingly without asking her. He noticed the slight grimace and minute shudder of disgust and displeasure as she swallowed and he frowned.

"What?" Kovac's question drew him back and he raised his cigarette to his lips, took a draw, then spoke as he exhaled, indicating McCloy's table.

"Why's she drinkin' that when she doesn't like it?"

Kovacs gave her a cursory glance, then shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe she's got a masochistic streak. Just seems like a waste of a passable bourbon to me."

MacNamara drained his drink and decided to ask no more questions.

~~~

Véronique placed her glass back on the table, grateful that McCloy would only provide her with the one. After that, it would be up to her or, more likely, her companion for the evening, to see to any requirements she might have in that regard. The drink burned her throat more than the cigarette she held, but she'd learned not to refuse.

After her initial scan of the clientele, she'd sat in silence with her eyes slightly downcast, inwardly praying that Eirlys' next set would start again before McCloy's evident irritation grew too great.

Her lip curled slightly, almost imperceptively, as the considered the singer. She knew Eirlys never gave her a second's consideration. And why should she? Véronique was nothing but an obedient little whore. A plaything. Why should Eirlys care that, every time she tried to rebuff or sass McCloy it would result in a fresh set of bruises for Véronique? After all, that's what things like her were for, wasn't it? Just so long as Eirlys' honor was kept - relatively - intact, what did it matter? She'd never had to witness the result of her actions, her casual comments to 'go visit your whore', so her sensibilities weren't offended. Her skin wasn't bruised and abraded.

Then again, Véronique pondered, if the roles were reversed, would she act a great deal differently? She took a last draw of her cigarette and extinguished it in the ashtray, wishing it was McCloy's face.

A sudden and painful pressure to her thigh made her look up.

"You listening, Véronique?" The cold, blue eyes of her...boss? patron? owner? speared her in a totally different way to the ones she'd seen earlier. They saw through her and she couldn't lie.

"I'm sorry, Mr. McCloy. I didn't realize you were..." She winced when the pressure increased, McCloy pressing his fingertips harder into her thigh. He smirked at her discomfort.

"Listen...To...Me," he hissed between clenched teeth. "This is the guy. The one comin' in now. He's the one. You wait for him to get a drink, and then you go introduce yourself."

Véronique followed his gaze, appraising the appointed object of her attention dispassionately. She formed no opinion of him. She formed no opinion of any of them. She hated McCloy, she despised McCormack, she...wasn't sure how she felt about Trahern, but it sure wasn't sisterly love. There was no room for anything else. Still with her eyes on the target, she asked McCloy "And what d'you want me to get out of..?"

She couldn't quite hold back the small gasp of pain as his hand crushed her thigh muscle even harder. "Mr. McCloy...I..."

"The FUCK have you been doin' all evenin'? I told you. He's a potential business associate. Could be valuable to me. YOU are the sweetener, Sugar." He laughed at his own joke. "You go in there, work on him, soften him up for me. You know the routine by now, Véronique. Or do I need to remind you again?"

Véronique's gaze flickered to the floor for an instant, then she looked back at McCloy and nodded.

"Whatever you say, Mr. McCloy."

He studied her, unsmilingly, for a while, then nodded and patted her cheek the way someone might pat a dog for doing a trick correctly.

"You're learnin'. That's good. About fucking time, but..."

His attention was instantly grabbed by the lights dimming slightly and, as a single spotlight focused on the small stage, he spun round in his seat, forgetting all about her presence. Véronique offered a silent prayer of thanks to Eirlys. Then, she started her own set.

She got to her feet and picked up her beaded evening purse. Then she started making her way over to the bar, her 'professional' smile already in place. She'd almost trained it to reach her eyes, but a casual observer would be convinced anyway. All the way over, she was acutely aware of the other blue eyes watching her, and she wondered if her act was anywhere near as polished as that of the pretty singer who was just beginning her second set of the evening to Véronique's first and (she hoped) only one. A different stage, but a stage nonetheless, where each was expected to shine in her own way, and under her own kind of limelight.

~~~

Kovacs was still talking, but MacNamara's reponses had long since become routine and monosyllabic, nodding and grunting whenever his subconscious had prodded him into making any noise at all. He'd been concentrating on the slight brunette at the bar as she worked - and even though she wasn't in uniform, MacNamara wasn't convinced for a minute that what she was doing was any less a job than that of the hassled and harrassed waitresses - on the guy she was talking to. She dazzled. Her smile, her body's movements, the way she tilted her chin to listen when he talked, the way she let her lips toy with the rim of her glass or the way her eyes spoke for her when she leaned in to let him light her cigarette. Damn, but she was good. MacNamara couldn't help but imagine how that body, those lips and eyes, would look and feel underneath his. It was beyond him how she could leave Kovacs unintoxicated.

He only broke away from looking at her when his companion suddenly stood up. He gazed up quizzically.

"You leavin'?"

Kovacs nodded and grinned. "Mo's off duty in ten. Wanna get in there first. You comin' with me to start a queue?"

MacNamara shook his head. "Don't feel like it tonight." He stood and walked to the bar before Kovacs could respond. By the time he'd asked the bartender for a refill and a pencil and turned around, Kovacs and Mo were gone. He didn't miss them. What he did notice was that Véronique had disappeared too. The guy was still there though and, following the direction of his gaze, MacNamara looked towards the rear exit, where the rest rooms were situated, through a door and down a short corridor. He smiled inwardly, left the remains of his drink on the bar and made his way over to wait.

He didn't have long to wait in the shadowy corridor. Véronique exited the rest room, searching in her purse for something, her head bowed, her mind distracted. MacNamara waited until she was nearly level with him and stepped forwards.

"Véronique?"

She started at the quiet, low tone and looked up, dropping her purse and all its contents. In her shock, she forgot to retrieve it straight away. MacNamara Looked. She couldn't hide her reaction at this distance. He noticed the brown eyes widen behind the smokey grey lids, saw the lips beneath the freshly-reapplied carmine lipstick part ever so slightly. He also noticed with a sudden rise of protective anger which startled him, the edges of what looked like a relatively fresh bruise beneath the broad bangle which she wore on her upper arm. Another one was just visible above the décolleté neckline of her spangled dress, and there was an almost-healed one beneath the immaculately applied foundation on her face. She was younger than he'd first thought, certainly not yet into her mid-twenties.

It took her a split second to recover her composure and she stooped to pick up her purse. He beat her to it, taking his hand from his pocket to place the spilled objects back into it. Closing the clasp, he straightened and handed it to her with a semi-apologetic smile. She glanced down to take it from him, gave him a small nod of thanks, then looked back at him again.

"I don't think we've met, Mr..?"

He drew on his cigarette, considering the apparent serenity of the face in front of him. She had a quiet voice. Educated. Refined. This broad hadn't been raised in any poor Italian quarter, or Irish quarter. She was Quality. In fact, this broad was no broad.

"MacNamara. Noah MacNamara. Mac. Take your pick."

She nodded again and remained standing, as though unsure of what to do next. He was struck by the contrast between this and the accomplished 'hostess' of a few minutes before, and decided he liked this better. She reminded him of a startled fawn, looking for escape but unsure whether she actually wanted to leave.

"Well," he prompted. "Am I right?"

Her eyes widened a little more. "I...beg your pardon?"

"Your name. It's Véronique, isn't it?"

She blinked and hesitated before answering him. "That's what I'm called, Mr. MacNamara, yes."

Something in her answer made him put his head on one side, eyes narrowing slightly as he looked at her for a long moment. Then, on a sudden impulse, he raised his hand and touched his fingers to her cheek, taking care to avoid the bruise.

"So, if that's what you're called, then what's your name?"

Just for a moment, which was so fast he could have imagined it, he thought her eyes closed slightly and could swear she began to press her cheek into his hand. Then it was gone and she was all composure and control again. When she spoke, though, he knew he didn't mistake the slight undertone of regret.

"Please don't touch what you cannot pay for, Mr. MacNamara."

He lowered his hand and noted with an inner satisfaction that the brown eyes flickered down to follow its return journey with what looked like a very faint, very well-disguised almost yearning. He grinned inwardly and raised his hand to his lips, kissing his fingers. The eyes widened again. He decided he liked that a lot.

"Don't be so sure I can't afford it."

She looked down and when she next spoke her voice was quieter than before. "I didn't say you couldn't afford it, I said you couldn't pay for it." Her tone dropped again. "You...wouldn't be allowed to."

He put a finger beneath her chin and raised it gently until she was forced to look him in the eye again. He smirked, then bent in swiftly, barely brushing her lips with his. "And who'd stop me? You?"

Véronique stood, riveted to the spot. Then her eyes showed a brief flash of panic. With a hastily murmured "Martine. I'm sorry." she slapped him, hard, across the face. Before MacNamara had time to react, she was walking past him, and away towards the doorway back into the club.

He spun towards her, confused and annoyed, his hand going to his stinging cheek.

"What the f..?"

McCloy was standing there. He glared at MacNamara, then glanced at Véronique who stood next to him, eyes downcast. He spoke curtly to her and half-lifted his hand. MacNamara couldn't make out the words, but Véronique flinched away and shook her head, speaking quickly and quietly. Whatever it was seemed to work for the time being, since McCloy lowered his hand, nodded once at her and shoved her back into the main room of the club. She didn't look back.

The two men glared at each other for a long moment. Then MacNamara broke the stalemate by dropping his cigarette and grinding it under his shoe. He put his hands back in his pockets and turned away, strolling slowly towards the rear exit door. McCloy's voice made him pause.

"You. I know you. You don't touch my property. Got that? And you can tell that to your dyke boss too."

MacNamara clenched his teeth and his pocketed fists. He hoped, for her sake that McCloy would interpret the stiffening of his back and shoulders as a reaction to his insult of Foster. Then, he continued walking away. McCloy spoke again.

"Next time, you get more than a slapped cheek from an insulted whore. It's only being where we are now that's saved your sorry hide. Véronique knows her place. Knows what's expected - demanded - of her. You should, too."

MacNamara waited until he was outside the club and out of earshot. He smiled, his hand going back to his cheek as though he was remembering a caress.

"Martine," he corrected, quietly. "Her name's Martine. And say what you will about Véronique, you don't fucking own Martine."

He walked on, hands back in pockets, wondering when she'd find the note he'd scribbled in pencil onto the back of an old dry cleaning slip and sneaked into her purse when he'd picked it up.

Saturday. Riverview Park. Next to 'The Bobs'. I'll wait.

~~~~~~~

Make Believe
-- Lyric by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Jerome Kern
from 'Showboat' (1927)

Only make believe I love you,
Only make believe that you love me.
Others find peace of mind in pretending,
Couldn't you?
Couldn't I?
Couldn't we?

Make believe our lips are blending
In a phantom kiss, or two, or three.
Might as well make believe I love you,
For to tell the truth I do

Your pardon I pray
'Twas too much to say
The words that betray my heart.

We only pretend
You do not offend
In playing a lover's part.

The game of just supposing
Is the sweetest game I know.
Our dreams are more romantic
Than the world we see.

And if the things we dream about
Don't happen to be so,
That's just an unimportant technicality.

Though the cold and brutal fact is
You and I have never met,
We need not mind convention's P's and Q's
If we put our thoughts in practice
We can banish all regret
Imagining most anything we choose.

Only make believe I love you,
Only make believe that you love me.
Others find peace of mind in pretending,
Couldn't you?
Couldn't I?
Couldn't we?

Make believe our lips are blending
In a phantom kiss, or two, or three.
Might as well make believe I love you,
For to tell the truth I do


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