Date: Saturday, May 16, 2010
"The difference between involvement and commitment is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was involved - the pig was committed." - Unknown
"I Kiss My Sweetie With My Fist"
When Porter moved to town, he went to a great deal of trouble to secure a quiet, discreet safehouse. One of his own. One not on the CIA grid. It's a routine he's maintained through the years. A new place, a new mission, and a new private sanctuary.
This time it's in a loft over a pawn shop in Brooklyn. It's a convenient location. A rusted metal fence keeps out any prying eyes or wandering feet. Casual ones, anyway. There's also a courtyard that's big enough for him to park and work on his DeSoto. Not a bad arrangement.
Except that on this occasion the gate is unlocked. The fence is warm, too. Porter pauses and tips his head back to sniff at the air. Smoke. Smoke and burnt paint and scorched leather. No… It couldn't be…
"Jarvis," he whispers. And sure enough, when he steps through the gate he sees that his car has been set on fire. His beautiful DeSoto. Suddenly, his black-on-black suit has become all too appropriate as funeral attire.
Underneath the tender crackling of roaring flames over what was once a very nice car indeed, the courtyard gate swings ominously closed, shutting with a noise of finality. It's no chance; the metal grate is navigated shut by a five-inch heel on a ruffled gray ankle-boot attached to a great deal of leg — and thigh, as it turns out, what with there being a skirt that ends no lower than that.
The dress also falls off of Lara's shoulders, revealing the sleek line of her collarbone as she taps the edge of amber-tinted sunglasses against her skin idly. The fire beyond glints off the already reddened lenses, granting an almost romantic tone to this vision of womanliness. You know, if it wasn't also completely manic — and a fire.
Posed now with one hip slanted higher than the other, her body otherwise relaxed, it's really a question of how long she's been standing here admiring the view. But when Porter walks into it, she lifts her chin with a jerk, hair flipping off her forehead as the moment finally comes to fruition.
"Christ on a crutch," Porter groans. He squeezes his eyes closed and rubs them, as if that might dispel the flames and the woman alike.
It doesn't work.
He lets out a long, slow breath. "Good to see you, Lara," he says, his voice a bit strained and his hands held low and open in a disarming gesture. His brown-eyed gaze flits from woman to burning vehicle and back again. "You're not still upset about me borrowing your car, are you?"
"Oh no, not at all," the breezy accented response is too much that to be real as Lara brings up a hand to absently twirl a set of keys around her pointer finger. They jangle merrily along the way. "My therapist said I should find something to work it out. Something calming that I liked doing…" She pouts her lips together, pressing, thinking, then glances carelessly off to the side. Eventually, the sight of the fire draws her in like a moth. A moth that set its own flame.
"Of course," the keys are snapped up into her palm, "She also said I was crazy and needed help. I told her that's what I was doing — I mean, you know I don't just rappel any old person out of a forty story building after the alarms stop the elevators from working. Sometimes you just have to wonder about therapists. They probably don't have boyfriends either, that's how they have time to listen to all of your problems. Hm!"
With a flick of her wrist, she sends the chain of keys in a fast toss at Porter. "Souvenir, pet?"
This is exactly why spies don't get attached to personal items. Still, Porter winces as he snatches the keys from the air and tucks them in his pocket. He glances over at the DeSoto and for an instant, one can see exactly how much the loss pains him. Then he clears his throat, shakes his head, and moves on. "I'm glad you started seeing someone. Professionally, I mean. A shrin—therapist. Person."
There's a touch of pink around his cheekbones and at the tips of his ears. "Ahem," he clears his throat and straightens his tie. "So. Just in the neighborhood, or did you make the trip because you couldn't stand to stay away?"
Whimsical lines on Lara's face harden when he glances away, revealing a portion of her airy attitude to be a mask in place to defy what this meeting really means to her. As her turns to her, she banishes the mood with raised eyebrows of curiosity at what he's going to say. "It's amazing what they charge," she comments, "Four minutes it takes me to get her to drop-off point and she still says it nearly cost her her life." Oh, spy humor.
A few steps are sauntered forward, aimed to the car so that when she comes up parallel to Porter, she has to glance at him along her shoulder. A turn sends her golden brown hair over her shoulders; besides a wisp of bangs framing her face, she's kept the rest of it tight and high at the back of her head. Functional. Not the same as the outfit she's carrying on in, it makes for mixed commentary. "Oh, I'm sorry — are we sharing our comings and goings again? You switch it up and just," a little shake of head, shudder around her shoulders, "Leave me behind sometimes."
Had to borrow your car. Back in five. Love you. -Kyle.
Porter blinks away the memory of writing a note and leaving it on his side of the bed. He clears his throat again. "I'm sorry," he says hoarsely. "That was just how it had to be. Can't we leave it in the past? I already have a bunch of people trying to kill me."
Slowly, he extends his hand for shaking. A peace offering. A chance to start fresh.
A chance for a clever judo toss.
Lara clasps the hand alright — but too fast, too firm. She's immediately using it to pull him forward, her other hand going for higher on his arm as she ducks down to get her shoulder against his chest, use her whole body as leverage to get Porter tossed up and around her side, over the leg she whips out backwards for an extra push — and the start of a twisting step to put her standing over him should he hit the ground proper.
As her abandoned sunglasses bounce and clatter to the pavement, she aims a heel for his chest. "So I'm just not worth the time anymore, is that right!"
The shoulder throw takes Porter by surprise, to say the least. He hits the ground with a meaty thud and an audible whistle as the air leaves his lungs. He's doing his best to gasp and groan at the same time when he spots the incoming heel kick and rolls out of the way. After staggering to his feet, he stands with a hand pressed to the small of his back and the other held out in a futile warding gesture. One side of his face is scrunched up uncomfortably, a look that isn't particularly becoming for him.
"Lara. Lara. Listen to me." He takes a slow step backward. Another. And another. He smiles weakly. "I understand that you're mad. I just need you to calm down…" Step. "Long enough…" Step. "For me to think of a clever escape plan. You don't have some powdered aluminum, do you?"
Heel stomping down on nothing throws Lara's balance off only momentarily; she immediately completes another twist, hands up as though expecting Porter's gesture to be something less than the pacifying it is. Her chin tilts down suspiciously, eagle-eyeing his every movement. "Don't you try to distract me with your flattery," she snaps off around the inventory question, apparently quite serious. If it's truly on her person, though… it's anyone's guess as to where.
Batting wide sarcastic eyes at him, she suggests, "Why don't you just drive off~!" A couple of steps take her in an arc, not quite cutting Porter off, but certainly circling the idea.
"Oh, that stings," Porter admits, not quite able to keep from glancing at his car. Absently, ruefully, he rubs his stubbled jaw. Then he rolls his shoulders briefly to loosen them, slumps his body a bit, and springs back as upright and willowy as ever. Now he holds both hands out and allows himself to be herded until his back in only a few feet away from the pawn shop's brick wall.
His eyes dart back and forth in search of a convenient escape route that doesn't exist. "L…" he says, his voice low and reproachful. "L. Stop chasing me. You know I hate it when you chase me."
She's as bright as the canary, but as predatory as the cat as they come to that wall, his stopping point. With the crackling fire just near them, you'd think they'd garner some attention. But he picked this place for its privacy, after all. Lara takes her sweet time reveling in the stroll to the wall, though her shoulders and hands remain tense for an expert to see: she's ready at all times. "K, darling," she chirps back, "Don't run."
And now's the time. With that little warning, she launches herself at him with more anger than tactic. Though this doesn't mean ingrained training doesn't aim her fist true — especially when it's a fake for the knee she actually wants to plant in his stomach.
Porter bats aside the feinted punch, smiles confidently, and then takes a knee to the diaphragm. All the air he even thinks he owns flies out of his mouth in one fell swoop. Winded, he shields his abdomen with one arm, crabs sideways, and pops Lara in the nose with a sharp, straight jab.
As soon as he draws the fist back in, he opens it and holds his hand up. "Shit! Sorry-sorry-sorry!" Both hands are held out now, index fingers pointed in a YOU STAY gesture. "Lara! I didn't mean that. It was an accident."
For anyone else, the completed hit might have been functional — and followed by another — but the imagery of it being Porter doubling over blinds Lara with a satisfaction too personal not to leave her open for a return attack. Yet, somehow, the jab to the nose comes as a complete surprise worthy of the expression that contorts her now abused face. Hands flitting up to the spot, she pushes tentatively, that incredulous feeling coming out as an insulted gasp, at once mortified and disbelieving.
"You did not just…" Clearly, his apologies mean nothing. The contours of her eyebrows dip straight downwards as he pleads; you know what this means, Porter.
Banshees would be scared of the shrill battle cry that erupts from her as she comes at him again, arms out but not intended for fists as she swerves underneath his own arms, coming around behind to scramble at his back. She has no better agenda than to throw her arms around his neck and cling like a bat out of Hell. "You are not even sorry yet, buddy!"
"Whoa-whut-whoa!" Porter swings to and fro in an attempt to dislodge his screaming limpet. There's a hesitance to his movements, though. If he wanted to be rid of her that badly, he could always try scraping her off on the wall, or even backing into the burning car.
"L!" he gasps, swinging her around in another circle and prying vainly at her arms. Grunting with effort, he grinds his chin down and tries to use it to buy himself a buffer zone. "I… I can't keep apologizing if you don't… stop… choking me!"
Lara morphs quite effectively into a human vice, her long legs coming around his waist with a gripping movement that hikes her skirt completely out of place, not that this is of upmost concern to her. Long hair flutters around his shoulders as she leans in, jerking her head to the side to get her lips in near his ear. "Honestly, love, I don't really care about the words coming out of your mouth right now!"
Intimately close even with that rabid spinning that tries to dislocate her, she's not the breathy the positioning might suggest; there's still too much anger snipping off the ends of the words. Keeping to theme, she hovers there a moment before her mouth dips upwards to bite down abruptly on his ear.
"Ow!" Shocked for the second time, now Porter does bang backward into the wall. Shifting his weight, he surges forward and reaches over his shoulder to grip a wad of Lara's dress. Then, suddenly, he bends at the waist and pulls, flipping his adversary over his head. Rather than send her crashing to the pavement, he catches her tiny body up in his arms and cradles her against his chest.
"That hurt," he informs her with a shake of his head and a rueful grin. "I vote that our new safe word be 'safe word.'"
A very unladylike grunt escapes Lara as she's thudded so against the wall, her arms unfortunately loosening simply out of reaction from the stab of pain in her spine. Her fight against the coming throw is valiant, she'd wiggle right out of the dress if she could, but her fate is sealed in tumbling right over Porter. Body tensed for the impact — or to spring right up again — she 'oofs' in a bit of surprise and confusion when it's a less violent second parter.
Rather than immediately attempt her escape, she harkens to his opportune position by bracing both of her hands on his chest and giving him a righteous shove, her right fist going for a hit on the rebound. It's more of a temper tantrum punch, but that still puts it on a scale far above a normal person's tantrum punch. She's never been known to pull any.
"You — hit me in the face." Is the sullen accusation, picked out of all the other things she could've called him out for right then in that laundry list she's compiled. "That's a pretty big ego assuming they'll even be a need for a safe word!"
"Sweet Christ…" The punch catches Porter solidly in the eye, which proves to be especially painful. He sags for a half-second, his punched eye squinting shut and the other swirling wildly in its socket. It takes a few seconds for him to organize his thoughts. "Mrrr?" he mumbles, half question and half groan. "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of me getting hit in the face."
It's hard to hold a serious conversation with one eye still closed and that side of your face scrunched up awkwardly, but Porter is ready to give it a shot. "We should really be adults about this," he begins, lowering Lara gently to the ground. "Also, you started it."
"Well, it's more fun when I do it," first comes bubbling out of Lara's mouth before she catches what is technically like an apology for her. Even when her feet, those ridiculous heels, plant on the ground, she remains close. A hand brushes near his face, just where she hit him, as she prods experimentally at the eye in what is probably supposed to be a more nurturing fashion than she can pull off. "Don't be such a baby."
Arms dropping to her chest, around which her dress seems irreparably scrunched in all manner of angles it wasn't supposed to go, she regards him at least calm enough to consider his suggestion. "Not even. You're such a lying liar, Kyle Porter." Maturity at its finest. "I'm being totally an adult. If I wasn't, I would've pulled your hair by now. Isn't that what all the kids are doing these days. And something about yo momma…" She sucks in a lip, puffs out a sigh that flutters her now escaping strands of hair. "Fine. Regale me with what adults do now."
Porter's head bobbles a bit on his shoulders and he lets out another groan when he's prodded. "That's enough, I think." He grabs Lara's wrist to halt her, both physically and verbally. "You destroyed a classic car, kicked me in the innards, and poked me in the eye with your phenomenally pointy girlknuckles. An adult would be satisfied."
As exasperated and winded as he is, he can't entirely hide his smile. "It's good to see you," he admits as he reaches out to straighten Lara's apparel. "You're all mussed. Come upstairs and we'll get you sorted out."
She wiggles the captured wrist in what is automatic protest and a need to not look like she's giving in. Lara's glance turns to acknowledge what is a blazing inferno and was once said classic car as it's listed. The fire catches in her eyes in a particular manner and a hint of a grin tugs at her mouth as though he's just informed any normal girl that there's a pony behind the blaze. Her returned look to Porter is unconvinced. "… I still want to blow something up."
As he fusses with her outfit, she reaches up to brush vainly at her hair, tucking bits of it behind her ear and then tugging her ponytail tight again. "Only," she warns, lifting a finger to him and then jabbing it near — but not in — that once-damaged eye. "Because I like this dress."