The orange light reached for the ceiling and sparked out at the tips, becoming smoke, or so it seemed. Will thought of pyres. This was one of his last days, wasn’t it? It could be his last hour, his last supper. The meat grew darker, He wanted it almost burnt, to be unrecognizable, to be safe. But there was haste to be considered as well. He ate as fast as he could once he was satisfied by the color. It tasted like food. It tasted like nothing. It was sustenance. No toasts or prayers for this meal. He thought of funerals until she broke his concentration.
Working swiftly, he kicked dirt onto the flames, smothering it with regret, stamping out the remaining warmth and scattering evidence as best he could. He ought to think of his district partner instead. Where was Laurel? What had she eaten for dinner?
His head jerked up without knowing what had alarmed him. Charlie was there, surprise on her face, appearing as a wronged dancer for the tiniest moment before she went into action. Will was frozen wide-eyed and then the world started again, a dead tribute at the young woman’s feet and a piercing weapon through her body. He moved to her side, recognizing it, the wound. Accidents happened and limbs were pierced. Fishermen had to be prepared, keep their wits and know what to do.
"Hold still," he told her. "alright, it’s all right." He paused for a terrible moment as he thought he heard footsteps. No, his mind playing tricks on him. Calm his blood, calm the panic, breathe air. "Charlie, let me have the knife," he set it next to her and grabbed their blanket. "Hold this to your shoulder. Good." It hadn’t gone through all the way. The wielder clearly didn’t know what he was doing. Thank whatever powers there were. "Charlie? I’m going to take it out. It’s going to hurt, but we have to be as quiet as possible. Charlie, put a piece of the blanket in your mouth, if you can. On three."
Will braced her shoulder with one hand and took the shaft firmly in the other, apologizing silently. “One-” he pulled it out decisively in a fluid motion.
She followed his instructions to the letter, working through the thick fog in her head. She could practically hear the game makers preparing her own canon. She refused to go down like this though. She wouldn’t let her life be snuffed out so simply. She didn’t want to be a killer, she’d never wanted any of this, but there was already blood on her hands, and evidently on her shoulder, so she had nothing left to lose. She wouldn’t kill on purpose but she knew she’d try her damnedest to survive.
She pressed the blanket to her shoulder when he asked, numbly handed him the blade when he needed it, and tucked the fabric into her mouth. Logically she knew he wouldn’t wait until three to pull it out but she still screeched when he pulled it on the one instead. Her jaw clenched down on the fabric, keeping her from hurting herself, and her body went taught, thrashing to the side then curing into a ball at the pain of it. Her vision went white for a second before her rapid blinking cleared.
Her jaw unclenched after a minute, the fabric dropping. “Hurts.” she whimpered, fingers curling and bunching the fabric at the side of his uniform, the black shiny material coalescing in her hand. She refused to let go. “You can fix this right?” she asked, another canon blaring. Another dead tribute. She didn’t like how happy she felt when it wasn’t for her. She wondered if that was the true evil of the games. “We… need to move.” she was trying not to pass out from the pain.
Will nodded, mentally kicking himself as he had remembered she was a southpaw as the proposal left his mouth. She had a way of grounding him, making it easier for him to keep his perceptions nullified. Usually it was a comfort. There was a downside to everything.
"Tattoos and unusual markings are entered into records. If the- if the attacker has any priors, the tattoo could help us find him," he replied. As she moved all he wanted was to sit with her, take her into his arms as if he could absorb some of it, any of it, the physical and the mental.
He continued writing. He couldn’t do that now, not now, not yet. He had to look at her as shapes and shades, see the people she spoke of in his mind through their actions, their marks, her descriptions of them. In the back of his mind he could hear Jack asking him what he saw.
He saw Charlie, wounded, hurt, frightened. He exhaled softly. She was all he saw.
"Thank you, Charlie. I need to give this to the detectives," he held his notebook a little higher in indication. "I’ll be quick. Unless- you want me to go."
"Wait." she said quickly, hand sliding out to grip a notepad on the tv dinner like tray to the left of her. She picked up a pencil and started drawing, a look of determination on her face. She swallowed through the pain of using her fingers, her whole body wracked with it, and narrowed her eyes. "I got this. Hold on."
The drawing was nowhere near up to par with her usual work, and she’d always preferred painting anyways, but it was close enough. She held the picture up for him to see. “This is the tattoo he hand. Left hand. It sat on the top of his hand between his thumb and forefinger and was about the size of a silver dollar.” Her shaking hand released the picture before she told it to, an angry huff leaving her. “Sorry, I’m sorry.”
"It could be what I mean. It’s an idea, anyway. A starting off point. Find a place which serves banana cream pie. In lieu of a visit to China," he smiled apologetically.
She laughed and nodded. “Right, well… next time I go to China I’ll be sure to smuggle you out some real Chinese.” she insisted.
"No, you’re all clear. Tell Scotty next time he gets paranoid there’s no chance I’ll be this nice to the next ensign he sends me," Bones said with a grin, waving her off with his clipboard.
"Ouch, that doesn’t sound very nice at all." she replied with a snort. "Don’t worry, I’ll let him know. Thanks, Doctor."
"What is your favorite thing to eat that you don’t get to eat often?" an impulse question, not considered before leaving his tongue. The car’s scent of her, of waiting and of applying last minute perfume and of singing along with the radio. It somehow meant more now. A sweet type of madness, except of course Will was hesitant to compare anything to that. They were like in their ability to eschew logic and rationality in some ways, in the way they crept and then cascaded, in the manner in which they could cause one to question confidence…But this was headier, foretelling good things and promise.
"Banana cream pie. But I don’t think that’s what you meant." she laughed. "I have a strict fondness for Chinese food that I fell in love with while in China a few years ago." she was being as honest as she could be here anyways. "I miss real Chinese.”
He should have walked away when he had the chance. He should have walked away and pretended like he hadn’t heard any of their conversation. Except he hadn’t, and Steve now had to figure out how to handle the fact the’d just heard that the little girl had a hit out on her. Who in their right mind would want a child dead? It made little sense to him. “Did you say she had a hit out on her,” he asked, knowing that he was most likely walking into far more trouble than he could deal with. But he couldn’t just walk away. Not when doing so would leave her completely unprotected. “So these men were part of whoever put that hit out on her? Or were they involved in something else?” Either way, he couldn’t just walk away. Somehow he would have to find a way to help them.
"It’s… actually really freakin complicated.” Charlie responded with a grin.
"Hush." Smith responded, folding her against his side and nodding. "Agent Smith, nice to meet you." he said instantly, without much thought. "This is Charlotte Kade. She’s… usually much older than this."
"Twenty six. usually." he said, holding Charlie’s arm tight as she glared. "But there was a bit of an accident.”
"My fault." the young girl responded with a grin.
"She’s… very smart. And she was working on something that backfired.”
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"Good." she retorted, hiking her quiver up her shoulder. Johanna rolled her eyes in annoyance and let out a troubled sigh, saying, "You know what? I’m going to do us both a favor and leave the scene before it gets any worse. I’ve had enough business with SHIELD today thank you very much."
"Yeah, I’ve had enough business with SHIELD for the rest of my life, don’t even get me starter on AIM." she sighed. "Have a nice life, red."
"I sincerely doubt that," Tony leaned back, shaking his head.
"You’d be surprised how many people continue to text in class after I’ve embarrassed their friends. It’s really why I keep teaching." she joked.
Johanna glared at the other and pursed her lips. ‘This chick is a smart ass, huh?’ A huff of annoyance blew through her nostrils, and she spoke.
"Good, because it’s personal and complicated and I’d rather not share it with a nosey parker like you."
"I don’t want to know your story." she replied honestly. "And I don’t think I’ve done anything for you to believe I’m nosy but okay." she shrugged. "But seriously…. nosy parker?"