2012-03-27: Fraternizing With The Enemy


Tabitha_icon.jpg Taskmaster_icon.jpg

Summary: Tabitha encounters Taskmaster in a place where she shouldn't be, and the conversation is less than cordial.

Date: March 27, 2012

Log Title: Fraternizing with the Enemy

Rating: Log Rating.

NYC - The Swamp

The Olive Drab Room, it is also known as, The Swamp lives up to its name. Table and chairs sprinkled around the room, some chairs tipped over, most not even at a table at all. Along the far wall is a long bar, with a wall of various bottles of cheap alcohol. Cheapest in New York City, it boasts, and the worst tasting. The bar's motto is emblazoned on the windows facing the street, as well as on the napkins and (what passes for) menus. 'This morning was a very good year.'

Taskmaster is not usually one that's known for going to bars, but his alter ego, Tony Masters, the head of Master's School of Martial Arts (mere blocks away) has been known to frequent the dive from time to time. The bar is fairly empty tonight, being a Tuesday, with no games on to entertain what patrons may come. He's sitting on at the bar, nursing a pint of something, contemplating an open manilla folder in front of him. The other patrons have managed to seat themselves as far away from the man as possible, as if they could feel how dangerous the man really is.

From outside, it's possible the patrons of the bar may or may not hear the sound of a misfiring engine, in between songs that are presumably playing; the sound comes to a stop just outside the bar, and a couple of minutes later one rat girl meanders in, wearing a distinct scowl. She's dressed in goth; a black corset and full length skirt, slit up one leg, and she even has a collar around her neck. She's busy wiping off her fingers with a rag, which she promptly stuffs in a garbage can on her way to the bar. Half way there, she pauses to sniff the air; her scowl deepens, and she crosses her arms over her chest. "Thought so," she mumbles, before finally approaching the bar. She takes a seat, with just one stool between her and Taskmaster; from there she gets the bartender's attention, and asks for a plate of wings and an unadulterated coca cola.

If this was a sitcom, there would have been music playing, and the sound of a record skipping off it's tracks would have been heard as Tabitha walks in, while everybody looks up from their beer to eye the girl. In reality there's no music, but the other half of that rings true. The Bartender eyes the girl warily and replies, "Don't got wings." His eyes narrow and then says, as if challenging the girl, "And we got a one drink minimum." Taskmaster carefully folds the folder and looks up to the bartender. "It's okay, Bob. She's got business with me." The bartender flinches a bit when Taskmaster speaks, but then shrugs and turns away to pour Tabitha a coke. "Whatever you say."

Tabitha snorts loudly. "Don't got wings? Didn't get an education either by the sound of things. Do you not have wings because you forgot to buy the little bits that come off the sides of the chickens, or do you skillfully manage to run out just before a mutant walks in?" She's just about to say something else, when the requested coke appears in front of her, at least. She pauses, really thinking about saying something, and then shrugs. "Thanks." The nicety seems not to be directed at anyone in particular. The rat girl picks up the drink, and sniffs it lightly to make sure it really does only smell of coke, before putting it to her lips and gulping down a mouthful. She turns on her seat, and sits with one elbow on the bar, quietly watching Taskmaster.

"What he means is," says Taskmaster smoothly, turning around in his stool to watch the rat girl drink, "He don't got wings. He's got burgers and fries, and the burgers only comes in two flavors. With and without cheese." Taskmaster looks very out of place in this seedy bar. He's dressed nicely with black slacks, dress shoes, white shirt and black tie underneath a black sweater. "You're …. " he pauses and makes something of a show of trying to remember her name, "Tabitha, right?"

Tabitha pauses, swallowing another gulp from her coke, before plopping it back down on the bar. She perks an eyebrow upwards, before leaning back over the bar. "Hey!" she shouts, just loud enough to get the bartender's attention once more. "Forget the wings then. Three cheeseburgers." With that out of the way, she focuses her attention on Taskmaster once more. "Yeah, that's right," she replies, coolly. "And you're… well, you're the guy who shot me, not so long ago. Fatally, too, except that it didn't stick."

Taskmaster gives the bartender a nod, who then goes to the back to fry up the burgers. And probably spit on them. The man, then leans on the bar with an arm and gives the girl a wry grin. "If you're still breathin' girl, then it ain't fatal." He takes a quick sip of his beer before turning what could be, under other circumstances, be a charming smile to Tabitha. "So what brings you here?"

Tabitha meets Taskmaster's gaze, albeit without a smile of her own. She sits silent for almost a full minute, before shrugging her shoulders lightly. "Car trouble," she replies. "I bought a car, which needs work, which is fine. Except it stalled out, so I decided to come in here and get something to eat. Why?" She glances over to keep as much of an eye on the bartender as she can, and her ears flick in his direction once he disappears from view. "So what's that?" she asks, nodding towards the manilla folder. "Deciding who's girlfriend to kill next?"

Taskmaster if anything, looks amused by Tabitha's chutzpah than anything else. "Possibly. Or somebody's boyfriend. Or son. Or daughter." He gives a dismissive shrug, "I haven't decided if I'm going to take the job yet or not. I'd let you take a look but, you know," he gives a friendly wink to the girl, "Then I'd have to kill you."

Tabitha snorts once more. "We've been over this," she replies. "Death doesn't stick. Other people have tried, and they've done a more thorough job of it than you have, but I'm still here with all my fingers and toes." She settles back, and plucks her coke off the counter, falling silent as she puts it to her lips. "So I'm going to ask you something, and either answer me or don't, but don't give me any bullshit or excuses. How the hell do you figure it's a good idea to tell my girlfriend that her training exercise for the day is going to be you trying to kill me, and her having to protect me for fifteen minutes? What the hell'd I ever do to you?"

Taskmaster just shakes his in amusement when Tabitha voices her opinion that she doesn't think he can manage to kill her. At her question, however, he gives her a smirk and a rueful chuckle. "Are you sure you don't want a real drink? Ain't nobody gonna card you while I'm here. You're gonna need it because you ain't going to like my answer."

Tabitha scowls, and shakes her head. "No, I don't want a drink; coke will do just fine. Last thing I need is to get pulled over in my brand new junker and get hauled off by some mutant-hating cop because my breath has a faint whiff of alcohol; no thanks. Not to mention even being on the same city block as you is going against sound advice from a good friend." Her eyes narrow, and she draws herself up a bit, squaring her shoulders. "I can't imagine an answer I would like to that question. Telling me I won't like it is like telling me I won't enjoy the result if I stick my fingers in a meat grinder. I didn't ask to be babied."

Taskmaster nods, looking fairly impressed. "Fair enough. The answer is you did nothing to me," he explains. "That's usually how assassinations go. I was paid, rather handsomely too, I might add, for one attempt on your life while your girlfriend was present." Taskmaster's tone is like that of any business man talking about business. "Kalindi has been a good student, but lately she has been holding back on me. One of the terms of our agreement is that she would never hold back. So, I get to push her to the limit in a way that she would have never responded to in the dojo, while fulfilling a contract at the same time. It was a very lucrative night, if I must say so." Another sip of beer and another charming smile. "And I do."

Tabitha purses her lips as she listens, and ends up grinding her teeth audibly by the time the explanation is finished. "…So that would mean that someone is irritated enough with my girlfriend," she replies at last, "To want to *hurt* her by having me killed, rather than just going after her." She gulps down about half her remaining coke in one go, and brushes her fingertips through her hair. "I'm not going to bother asking who hired you, but I'll find out anyway, one way or another." Alright, so maybe that's just a round of obvious posturing with little substance behind it. "You're lucky I'm not psychic tonight."

Taskmaster doesn't seem all that impressed by Tabitha. "And you're lucky I've held back both times we fought. You're minor league, kid. That's what your girlfriend was trying to tell you. Please don't try anything with me. Kalindi is a very good source of income and I'd hate to lose her because I had to put you down." He shrugs, and turns back to his beer and nods to the door. "We're done now. Go home, and focus on finding your girlfriend."

Tabitha lifts one finger, and points towards the kitchen. "I'm still waiting for my burgers," she points out, in the most innocent tone of voice she can manage. "And for the record, I'm not trying to prove anything to you. I don't need to prove anything to you. The only people I need to prove anything to are my professors, and I just need to prove to them that I know my shit. I know what league I'm in, I know what league you're in, and I'm not retard enough to start something I can't finish."

"Then you'll know," says Taskmaster smoothly, "That there aren't any burgers coming. You came here to ask me a question, and I've given it to you." He gestures to the door again, "I have dismissed you. This means that you leave," he explains to the girl as if he was talking to a child. "Now."

Tabitha lingers for a moment longer, taking the time to finish her coke and set the empty glass down, before rising back to her feet. She brushes a hand down the back of her skirt, to clean off anything that might've been stuck to the stool, and now stuck to her, instead. "And out comes the condescending bullshit," she observes. "You're a hell of a fighter, but outside a gunfight? You're predictable. You remind me of my Dad." Judging by her tone of voice, this isn't something she considers a positive. "Thanks for the coke." As she turns to go, she reaches into her corset and produces a cell phone — apparently a new one — and taps at the touchscreen as she starts towards the door; and though her back might be turned, her ears are swiveled back, aimed neatly towards Taskmaster.

Taskmaster can't help but sound amused. "Am I?" He snaps his fingers as if he just remembered something. "Oh yes! Before you go, Umbalificos told me to tell you…. no offense." With that he turns back to his file and beer. A file that only has four letters on it: XIII

Tabitha halts in her tracks, and turns to look over her shoulder. She glares at Taskmaster; and then, her eyes dip down to catch the four letters on the cover of his folder. She looks like she's right about to say something, but instead shakes her head, apparently thinking better of it. The rat girl turns once more, and resumes her march towards the door. The cellphone is raised to her head, and the beginnings of a conversation might be heard as she slips out. "Hello, this is Tabitha Jones, codename—" the rest is cut off as the door swings shut behind her. A few minutes later, the loud complaint of a misfiring engine can be heard, as a beat up old Pontiac GTO peels away into the night.

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