You are never sure what to expect when Yar contacts you. It's always out of the blue, always not a good time, and almost always means that you are about to get fucked. And not in a way you'd like. Which is a shame, because out of all the people you know in this city he is the only person whose animalistic magnetism never fails to get you into a certain kind of mood. Too bad you can never take advangage of it.
You sigh, mentally prepare yourself for the worst and answer the call.
"Frank's bar. Be there in thirty - no, twenty. Bring a shit ton of coke." He hangs up before you could say anything. You take a deep, noisy breath, suppressing the urge to dial him back and dump a figurative bucket of obcenities on his head. Typical Yar. This? This right here is why he doesn't have any friends. Or more. Because being hot never compensates for shitty personality. It could come pretty darn close, though... No, enough of that. You focus on the bigger picture - he is a jackass, and you're not happy with him right now. In fact, you are never happy with him, because he never gives you a reason to be.
"Hi, Egor, how are you doing? Doing good? Me too. I've a favour to ask, if that's not too much trouble. Do you happen to have a lot of cocaine on hand? You do, marvelous! Meet me at Frank's in about half an hour if you're not too busy right now? Cool, see you there." You mockingly imitate Yar's deep voice, as you yank your 'strategic' stash of substances from under a pile of hopelessly damaged clothes at the bottom of the wardrobe. You have no idea how much exactly is a 'shit ton' in this scenario, so you dump all the other packages back, leaving all of the cocaine in the bag. Hopefully that would be enough.
Who is that dick even taking you for? A pushover, that's who. Now would be a good time to say 'fuck this' and stay home. The only reason you don't do exactly that is because you know from experience that if you aren't at the bar in twenty minutes, you'll have to deal with a majorly ticked off flipping wall of muscle almost as tall as Peter the Great, and 'dealing' with him would probably involve having to pay to get your door replaced after he breaks it down (again).
At least he sticks to property damage and barely ever touches you. Picking you up like a ragdoll and shaking untill your thoroughly-rattled brain feels like a mush inside your skill while describing all the creative and gruesome ways he is going to do away with you doesn't really count, you think. You've received worse treatment from your own father. Minus the death threats, of course - Papa was a lousy parent, but not to such extent.
You make it to Frank's bar with a couple of minutes to spare, but never mind that - Yar is already there, his height making locating him an easy task, as usual. He is nursing a beer, staring daggers at everyone reckless enough to enter his personal space. Such a charmer. Is he growling, too? As you get closer, it becomes apparent that he is silent, for the time being. Small mercies. That means he isn't in the mood for confrontation. But that could change any second. Better tread carefully. But God, do you feel like laying into him right now!
"So I'm here. With the stuff you ever so politely requested me to bring, with explainations, 'please' and 'thank you' and everything, just like the civilised gentleman that you are. You ass." So much for treading carefully. But you tried. Well, you thought about trying. It still counts.
Yar doesn't say anything, just glares at you in warning, grunts and reaches out with his hand to take the bag. He lets it hang from his index finger for a couple of seconds, as if trying to determine its weight. It looks so small when he holds it. Shit, is he going to say it's not enough? That must be at least a kilo in there. That's about as much as you are willing to keep at once before lightening the load. You aren't addicted to this stuff, after all.
"Fine," he finally says, tucking the bag inside what you assume to be an inner pocket of his trench, like it was a wallet or something. Just how much can he hide in this thing? You calculate that if used as a tent, the trench could provide shelter for at least two of you, if not three. Your throat immediately goes dry, just like it does every time you start thinking about the sheer size of this man. Maybe you should focus on something else.
You look up, taking in his face. His signature stubble looks longer than usual, so much that it could probably be called a proper beard at this point. You wonder if it's coarse and scratchy or soft and ticklish? Well, only one way to find out. Which means you are going to have to keep wondering. And all that long dark hair, a little tangled, that just begs you to comb through it with your fingers… Wait. That thought has just went somewhere utterly pointless.
Oblivious to your ogling, Yar pushes his beer towards you, indicating that you should take it, but you shake your head. It's a nice gesture, but you weren't born yesterday. He rolls his eyes and takes the glass back, swallowing the contents in two gulps, then slams in on the counter and huffs.
"I don't really need to drug you, kitten." You bristle and suppress the urge to hiss at the confounded pet name, and he smirks, pleased to see you've been successfully annoyed. The mop-headed lug looks too smug, you'll need to do something about it before this meeting is over. And you know the beer is almost certainly safe, of course you do. But the drinking habits you've developed are there for a reason, so he can bugger off with his comments.
"What do you need that much coke for?" you ask, leaving the subject of possible compensation for the product that you're probably never going to see again alone for now. No need to aggravate him.
"Curiosity killed the cat." His face is expressionless and voice bored as he says it, but you get a little tense all the same. That's two in a row now. He often sneaks cat-related puns and metaphors in his conversations with you, and you've long since concluded that he knows something. The question is - how on Earth did he figure out the specifics of your condition? It's not like you've ever done anything catlike with him around. You're not an idiot.
"You know what, I have things that need attention, so how about goodbye for now?" As much as you'd love to continue sitting here and let him dodge some more of your questions, you do have matters to attend. You get up with every intention to get away as fast as possible, but his expression suddenly shifts into something vaguely threatening. He grabs your shoulder, standing up, and yanks you close to him.
"We're going for a walk." Leaving no room for discussion, he is already dragging you towards the exit, people scampering the hell out of his way. "I didn't call you just to fetch me drugs - there are other people for that. No, your part is more interesting. Just stay close and don't fuss. It won't take long."
You have so many thoughts on the matter and quite a number of things to say in response - so many that you can't quite pick which one to start with. So you keep your mouth shut and follow him, trying to ignore the pain his iron grip is causing.
"So, how about that?" You hiss uncontrollably, trying to roll and get your bloodied thigh away from the boot pressing on the open wound. Your interrogator is having none of it, putting even more of her considerable weight down, and you bite your lip to stop yourself from crying out. You aren't about to give her the satisfaction. Fuck her and fuck her fat greasy face. Preferably with a drill. Or a bat with rusty nails sticking out of it - either would be still marginally better options than what the bitch deserves.
Not pleased with your silence, she grunts, lifts her foot and slams it down with all her might. Through the haze of agony you feel something pop and worry she actually broke something this time.
"You aren't going anywhere, so why don't you just tell me what I want to know?"
Oh, that would make things much easier for everyone involved, wouldn't it? Trouble is, even in you were inclined to spill something (which you aren't, and getting less and less so the more she tortures you), you literally don't know shit. Not even who this hag is. Yar never shares anything, which makes perfect sense, considering the situation you've found yourself in right now. The sensible approach to mission-planning on his part doesn't make you feel any better at the moment, though.
The heavyset woman sighs and kicks you in the stomach, but this time it's just a sign of frustration, not at active attempt to motivate you.
"Use your words, you stubborn bitch, it's not that difficult!"
"Diane, leave it. Why did you even drag him here? We should have left at once!" The other woman looks a little green. Whether it's due to her not liking the sight of blood or just being empathetic, you don't know and don't really care, as her emotional state is not on your priority list right now. So far she hasn't been particularly proactive in getting her uglier friend off your case. If she can afford to sit on her arse and let the other woman go to town on you for at least an hour, then maybe she isn't really in that much of a hurry, no?
You feel like passing out, to be honest. You're nauseous, your head hurts like your skull is about to split from the pressure of the blood rushing to your brain, everything is getting blurry, and the room looks much darker now than it was when you arrived. Or maybe it's you developing tunnel vision?
"We still don't know who sent him. No one was supposed to know where you are!"
"Well, he isn't talking, and we don't have the time! Just kill him or something and let's go!" She sounds frantic now, gripping her phone so tightly the tips of her fingers have turned white, and her hand is shaking. "Shane says we have fifteen minutes to get there, then he is out. We can still make it, but we need to leave. Now."
"Fine." The ugly one wipes the sole of her boot on the concrete floor, leaving a blood trail, and walks over to a chair in the corner of the room where her gun is. You watch her dully from where you lie in a pool of your own blood, hoping like hell she is only meaning to use its weight to knock you out, not shoot you in the head. If you die today, you are coming back as an apparition and you are going to haunt the absolute shit out of these two untill they die of fright, and then you’re planning to spend the rest of Yar’s life scaring the living daylights out of him for setting you up like this. Again.
This little plan give you some comfort, and you are almost ready to accept your fate no matter how gruesome it's going to be when someone bangs on the door in the next room. The women exchange looks, and the mean hag waddles over to the front to check, gun at the ready. The other one wraps her shaking arms around herself and stares nervously at the doorway, listening to the conversation.
"Who is there?" You can't make out the response, but then you hear the door being unlocked. "Sure, but can you wait here? I'll get-
Something in the front room explodes, followed by a shrill scream, gunshots and male voices cursing up a storm. The woman who has stayed with you looks like she is about to faint, but nonetheless she runs over and drops to her knees next to you, whimpering, flips out a small flick knife and presses it to your artery. So, a hostage situation then. Lovely. To be honest, you're more concerned about the violent tremor in her hand - she just might cut you by accident at this rate.
"Stay away!" She squeals, her eyes wild and her voice just as shaky as her hands. "He'll die if you don't stay away! I'll kill him, I'll fucking kill him, I will, I can!"
Two men who have just entered the room ignore her and sidestep the doorway to make room for Yar, who has to duck to get in without hitting the low doorframe. Taking in the scene, he tsks and shakes his head at the woman.
"Bitch, are you for real? Lose that thing before you hurt yourself." Funny how he is completely unaffected by your predicament. Understandable, since it's not him about to get his throat slashed. But he could have feigned concern out of politeness, at least. Asshole. But then again, what else is new?
"I'm not the one who is going to get hurt." She puts a little more pressure on the knife, and you hiss, feeling your skin part under the edge. Shit, you've hoped this thing was dull.
"Do it and you're dead." Yar takes a step in your direction, looking much more serious now. And by 'serious' you mean downright murderous.
"Stay! Away!" She is losing whatever little confidence she possessed before, clearly unsure about what to do next. Next step Yar makes is the last one necessary to reach you, and then it's all over: her wrist is crushed in his large fist before she knows what's happened, and the knife drops on the floor in front of you. She practically flies over you from the force with which he pulls at her hand before shoving her into the waiting men's arms. They take her to the front, kicking and screaming, and when she sees what you assume is her friend's body, she breaks down completely. The inhuman howl she releases makes you wince, and you really wish you could black out now that your life is no longer in immediate danger. But first things first...
Yar is kneeling beside you, using the discarded knife to cut the zip-ties the women used to restrain you, his face is expressionless, his eyes calm and his hands are steady. But when he looks down to meet your not-so-friendly stare, he frowns and glares at you in such a way that for someone who didn't know any better could leave and impression that this whole fiasco was your fault, and he actually is the wounded party here.
"You." You make an effort to put every ounce of negativity you're experiencing in this moment into a single word, because it's currently impossible for you to come up with something more eloquent. You're far too tired, hazy, hurting and just emotionally drained for... anything, really.
"Me." He nods sagely and tears up your shirt to make a temporary bandage for your leg, you guess, but then sees the bruising on your torso and stops to examine this area. You swat at his prodding grabby paw, but he is already back on the task of wrapping the cloth over the open wound. You let out a hiss whenever he presses too much on the gash in your thigh, and he miraculously looks very close to apologetic each time.
You both are silent while he finishes up with the bandage. The front room is quiet - the men have probably already left with their captive. Yar leaves you for a bit to converse with someone on the phone, then returns and lifts you off the floor to carry you out of the apartment. You don't say anything then, and you are silent all the way down to the grond floor. Then you make a feeble attempt to argue being carried out into the streets, but he is ignoring you.
You apparently lose consiousness right after, because you can't remember how you've got to his place. At least, you think it's his place, because it's certainly not your apartment. It looks a little more upscale in comparison. The furniture appears to be new, the walls are pristine, no cracks or peels that you can see, the carpet covering the floor is clean, not worn out, its black colour is as just deep as it should be to count as proper 'black'. Most importantly, there is a fish tank. A flipping honest-to-God fish tank that is clearly well-maintained and stocked with at least three different species that all look absolutely luxurious.
The second thing you notice after the fish tank is your own state. You're in your underwear, the sheets you are wrapped in smell freshly laundered, your skin smells of antiseptic, and someone poured iodine on the torn skin of your wrists, judging by the colour. You are also pleased to discover that there is a clean bandage on your thigh, and it looks professionally done. You are also pain-free, at least for now. So. It appears someone got you qualified help while you were out. That's a first. Usually you have to sort the damage out yourself after getting dragged into Yar's shenanigans. That's where most of your scars come from. Although you've never ended up in trouble this serious before, so most of your injuries were collateral damage, more or less. Not purposefully inflicted by someone hell-bent on making you hurt.
You decide to take advantage of your current medicated state and just relax for a bit. Figuring out what exactly happened and how you are going to get home can wait for Yar's return.
As soon as he comes back and you see his infuriating handsome mug your hackles rise and your pieceful mood evaporates. He sits on the bed, making it dip so that you have to hold onto the headboard to stop your body from sliding to where his butt is. He doesn't say anything, just looks at you, grim. You fumble with the sheets, tugging them all the way up to your chin, and sit up, preparing for a rant.
He frowns, takes a deep breath, then opens his mouth:
"I know that-"
You start speaking at the same time as he does:
"What the fuck is wrong with you!" Your voice is so low now you're afraid you're going to slip into animalistinc growling any second now. God, you're livid.
He looks taken aback, and your blood pressure spikes at his apparent obliviousness. How could he seriously not consider that the problem is him? After all his bullshit, all the trouble he's caused you?
"It's always you! And me? Why is it always me?" Okay, you aren't making much of an argument right now, but English is difficult when you're so pissed. And you really need to get your voice under control. Now is not the time to channel your inner panther. Or whatever it is.
Seeing that you have trouble expressing yourself, he takes advantage to start with excuses:
"You were supposed to be safe. Their guard was supposed to be down. It was supposed to be a trivial task".
You hiss for real this time - as in, actually hiss, and it's not your regular human sound. Shit. Did he notice?.. Oh, to hell with this, it's too late now! Just keep the argument going!
"Supposed to be? You don't send people into potentially dangerous places based on suppositions! How is that an excuse? Are you high? Were you high when coming up with this plan? Make it make sense!"
"Listen, kitten, I-" Bad choice of words. Your fist connects with his face, and it hurts. Your wrist hurts from impact. Could it be dislocated? Never mind, you'll sort it out later. For now, you need to get out. Before he retaliates.
Unexpectedly, he doesn't. Even gets out of your way as you hobble out of the bedroom. He only calls out to you when you stop in the sitting room and look around to determine where the exit would be:
"Put something on, at least."
Right. You're still undressed. But you're pretty sure your things didn't survive today's misadventures. So what exactly are you supposed to put on? You hear rustling and turn around - Yar is holding a bundle of clothes, not looking at you.
"I don't know your size. Hope something fits." He sets the bundle on a chair and retreats back into the bedroom, leaving you alone. All right then. You look through the small pile, noting that the hem tags are still attached. He must have went shopping. Or sent someone. He did say he has people running errands for him.
What you end up picking isn't the best fit, but at least these pieces aren't too oversized. You find the bathroom and take what feels like the longest piss ever, wash your hands and face, wincing when the small cuts sting from the soap, then comb your hair the best you can, and finally conclude that you're presentable enough to go home. Just one thing left to figure out. You sigh, knowing that you will need to talk to Yar. So much for leaving with your pride attached.
"What is our current location?" you ask as you exit the bathroon. Yar is waiting for you in the hallway, as you knew he would.
"Nowhere you can get on foot, put it this way. I'll need to walk you out and drive you to where you can get home on your own." This is far from ideal, but since you aren't steaming anymore, you suppose you should survive him giving you a ride.
"Lead the way then." He nods, but steps towards you instead. He is holding something, and before you can make out what it is, he slides a hand into the back pocket of your pants. You freeze. He doesn't seem to notice your stupor, exploring the inside of the pocket thouroughly before taking his hand out and tucking something else in it, then pats the pocket area from the outside, as if to make sure everything is in place.
You release the breath you didn't realise you were holding. What the fuck has just happened?
"For the coke," he clarifies, then heads for the door and opens it. "After you."
Once again, you're silent on the way down and while he is driving. It's too dark to make out much, but you are certain that you are not in the slums. Maybe Palisade? Or some area that looks very similar to it. You don't recognise any landmarks, strangely enough. And the drive takes longer that it should have taken to get from Palisade to where your apartment building is. Weird.
By the time you've arrived you've calmed down enough to politely thank Yar for the ride and even wave at his car as he pulls off. The car is nothing special, at least at a glance. Just a cheap sedan. But the seats are very comfy.
Once inside your apartment, you check out the roll of banknotes Yar tucked into your pocket. There are a lot of them. And the sum after you finish counting is rather hefty. Much more than what you could make selling that stuff on the streets. More than enough to cover your medical expences, that's for sure.
"Wow." You plop down on your bed. "That isn't suspicious at all." It's like he's tenderising you for something. Like a cut of meat. Hmm...
Okay, paranoia is here, which means that's enough of today for you. Last-minute coke run, head trauma, torture, almost having your throat cut, Yar touching your butt, a ton of money... You need peace and quiet.
Your phone rings, and you pick up as soon as you see Alice's contact data on the display.
"Hey, doll!" She sounds bubbly. That's a good sign. "I've tried reaching you earlier but you weren't available. What happened?"
"Hey. I'm not quite in the best state for talking, so how about you drop by tomorrow? If there is time? I have quite the story for you."
"Sounds juicy. It's fine, I'm not exactly free at the moment, but I wanted to make sure you're all right. I'll come by after my beauty sleep. See you!"
It's a good thing she called. Now you have all your bases covered and can turn in without her stressing over your radio-silence. You take some painkillers and tuck your phone under the pillow, along with the money - you are feeling too lazy to stash it properly. Maybe it will conjure some pleasant dreams.
The last thought that comes to you before you fall asleep is about getting yourself a pet. Yar seems to have the right idea with the fish. Having something alive to take care of is good for one's mental state - or so they say. And yours is all over the place right now.
Maybe a cat would be a good fit...