RP:A Job for the Oracle
Summary: While up to some sketchy biz of his own, Hudson stumbles across Eleanor taking a job from a peculiar vendor at the fair (later to be recognized as The Oracle, syndicate leader in Cenril). Curiosity getting the better of him, he trails after Eleanor who doesn't take kindly to being snuck up on. After a terse conversation in which Hudson insults El's fashion sense to an attempt to dissipate the tension, Huds reveals he's shacking up with Alvina for the first time and leaving Cenril.
Street Fair, Cenril
The street fair was buzzing with activity. All manner of humanoid hawked their various wares and the smell of perspiration and incense filled the air. From between two tents emerged a woman, scarcely five-and-a-half feet tall, but with enough bravado oozing from her posture to appear several inches taller -- of course, her tall leather stiletto boots helped too. The blonde woman stepped from her vantage point, sashaying through the stalls and around the gathered, her slippery fingers plucking up anything that appeared to be of value right off their unsuspecting bodies. In the entrance to an alley was one particular stall that gathered her attention, a card game taking place upon a cloth-covered table. Celadon irises sparkled with intrigue, and the woman moseyed closer, arching a flaxen brow. She lifted her chin, looking down on the diminutive woman. Eleanor’s full lips twitched with a suppressed smirk, and she moved closer until she was able to take a seat opposite the smaller of the two females. Confident that those gathered were too busy trying to fill the holes in their lives with overpriced merchandise, Eleanor turned her full attention to the woman across the table. Leaning forward, El propped her elbows on the table, clasped her hands together beneath her chin, and with a thick burr, said, “Ah heard ye hae wark fur me.”
Hudson picks through the market, buying a hot samosa off of a street vendor and eating it as he goes. It quasi ruptures in his hand, and some of its insides slide down the sleeve of his wool coat. Whups. A braying mule cuts across his path, and he pauses, finishing his snack, for it to tug its cart past before trudging on. He's entering the less reputable part of the street fair, he knows, and he's got a particular vendor in this sector to pay a visit to, too. (Hint: he's buying drugs.) There's a card game ongoing nearby, and he'd have paid it no mind but for the shock of blond hair that tends to attract the male gaze. A double take, and Huds realizes it's Eleanor. He doesn't gape openly, but rather makes small talk with the 'small business owner' he's visiting. Asks about the guy's family and the like. Seeks personal recommendations for new and exciting strains. All the while, he casually sneaks looks Eleanor's way.
The diminutive woman across the table from Eleanor clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, and gave her head a shake. Salt and pepper wisps were forced to rearrange themselves as they framed her pinched features. “There is always work, but can one actually perform the duties one is tasked with?” the elder woman replied cryptically. The woman angled her head, looking down at El with dark, beady eyes. Eleanor leaned forward, shoulders rolling on either side of her head and her own hair shifted then, pale braids and waves tumbling around said shoulders, disturbed a second time as she nodded slowly. “Diz it pay weel?” she asked. The other woman smirked wolfishly, and nodded. She produced a small hand-sized envelop from beneath the table, surreptitiously passing it along to Eleanor, who palmed it, propping it up between the table and her stomach, the bottom part hovering near her thighs. From within, she pulled out a slip of paper, the details of her task outlined on it. For a split second, the spell blade’s gaze faltered, and she drew in a pensive breath through her nose, nostrils flaring. Leveling a colder stare toward the woman, she gruffly accepted with a sharp nod. “Consider it dain.” The sounds of the street fair prevented her from picking up Hudson’s own conversation nearby, and she kept her attention wholly on the woman across the table from her. With the information of her job provided, she rose from the table, tossing a few coins on it as if she was conceded defeat in the game itself. “Ah will be in tooch.” That being said, El turned away from the table, ducking around the edge of the stall to slip between it and its neighbor, heading toward the alley beyond.
Hudson can only linger bsing so long. He manages to conclude his business deal around when Eleanor concludes hers, and they break off in separate directions. He's not sure what's transpired over on Eleanor's end, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't curious. His curiosity builds, to a slow boil, as he discreetly chases after her. Huds navigates his side passage, dodging street artisans hawking their wares, knowing that their paths will merge into the road at large at some point. And they do. He nearly bumps into her as she turns into the alley. "Hey, woah!" he exclaims, holding a palm in case she felt inclined to assume he was out to mug her. It wasn't beyond the pale here. "Eleanor?" he feigns surprise at bumping into her here. His breath forms an outline against the cold, and his gaze does a quick head-to-toe appraisal of her person. "What's shaking, yeah?" he asks her, his mouth pulling into a lazy grin.
Eleanor did not like being followed, and Hudson was making a habit of it. As they nearly collided in the alleyway, she took the opportunity to withdraw a dagger from its magick-tattoo sheathe on her left forearm, and pointed the tip towards him. Reaching out with her left hand, she aimed to grab the alchemist’s shirt and push him up against the brick wall of a building. Even if she was not successful, she kept the dagger tip angled toward him with her right hand, her flaxen brows lowered over her steely celadon gaze. “Dornt play games wi' me, Hudson,” she growled. Jerking her head toward the entrance of the alley, she added gruffly, “Ah saw ye back thaur.” Beat. “An' Ah ken ye saw me.” She eyed him expectantly, peeved at his less-than-opportune timing; he always seemed to show up when she was up to no good.
Hudson finds that he's underestimated Eleanor a great deal. To be frank it's because she's a pretty, and nobody expects a sudden show of force out of a pretty girl. And so, he finds himself knocked flush against the building, Eleanor's dagger angled against his chest. He stills reflexively, holding up his hands where she can see them. His mind whirs and clicks with next steps. The most obvious and least likely to induce grievous harm to his person would be to talk Eleanor off of him. They were supposedly friends after all. "Yeah great, OK, I'm nosy I admit," he tells her, feeling his body heat with adrenaline. "But that's all it is. I'm not part of a police force and don't care whatever it is you're doing. Hey, ow-" he winces as the edge of her dagger pokes him unexpectedly. "Seriously I don't care, Eleanor, it's just hard not to notice you. I was here buying pot and frankly you stand out like a gleaming beacon of blond-, yowzers," he draws a very careful breath, "can you please remove the knife, lass?"
The hand that wielded the dagger was steady, but her eyes were not; they searched and searched Hudson’s gaze for some inclination, some give-away that he was lying. Finding nothing but earnesty behind his stare, Eleanor grunted and withdrew. Pressing the tip of her dagger to her forearm -- the one mysteriously lacking in its dagger-insignia tattoo -- almost to the point of puncturing her arm, the blade disappeared smoothly into her arm, the tattoo redrawing itself with quick, fluid like gestures. She leveled a still-wary-but-mostly-resigned glance in his direction. His words inspired a moment of curiosity, and she said to her companion, “Ah stain it? Hoo?” She straightened, angling her chin upward to look down through her lashes toward Hudson, frowning. “Is it th' tattoos?”
Hudson releases a breath he hadn't realized he was holding as the knife point is withdrawn from his chest. He rubs the formerly affected area before pushing the fabric of his shirt back down. "Dang, woman," he says to Eleanor, his gaze widening a fraction as he observes the way in which she stores her weapon. "Convenient," he notes, his posture slackening as he relaxes. At her question, he hesitates, though his gaze gives him somewhat away: it moves over her person in a sort of lazy circuit. Trying to determine where to begin. "Yeah, you know, so," says Huds, gesturing lamely at her. "Good looking woman with very blond hair, generally your sort is like to attract attention," he posits. "The saying is gentlemen prefer blondes and all that." Mirth in his gaze, Huds shrugs as if such an observation couldn't be helped; he's just the messenger for a quantifiable and known truth. "Plus then you have this," his hand hovers over the cut of his shaggy hair, indicating her diadem. "Sort of unusual headgear, yeah? Then," his hands find their way back into his pockets, and he exhales, "as you note, there of course are the tattoos..."
Eleanor kept her attention firmly trained on Hudson, those celadon twins belying both her wariness and her inquisitiveness; she had, after all, asked the question in all seriousness. However, his reply merely succeeded in confusing her further, and her features twisted to convey this. “Mah sort?” she snorted in indignation. She looked at him askew at that point, arms akimbo; he had ruffled her feathers, and she struggled not agitate the tentative tension between them, the result of which anxiously manifested in her pressing the ball of her right boot down and twisting, grinding her sole into the ground. The mention of her tiara along with the tattoos she could see, but his former statement was what she latched onto. “Gentlemen prefer blondes?” Eleanor dropped her gaze thoughtfully, considering this never-before-heard statement. As the meaning of the phrase came to her, Hudson’s behavior made sense; she slyly returned her celadons to the alchemist, fending off a smirk. “Ah see. Weel, when Ah meit a body, Ah will keep 'at in min'.”
Hudson's eyes roil with amusement as Eleanor struggles to comprehend his meaning. "Yeah, the attractive blonde sort?" he hits the conversation back to her, as if they were playing verbal tennis. She seems to be out of sorts, even growing cross with him. This only feeds his amusement. "Oh don't scowl at me," he tells her. "I'm not responsible for your predicament, woman. You were sticking out like a sore thumb among the unwashed and toothless masses, that's all I'm saying." He holds his hands up as if in apology over it. "So it is alleged, I think on the basis of you lot having bright hair." He flashes her a shameless grin. "Perhaps you could change up your attire to a burlap sack or somesuch, instead of these..." he gestures at her person, "yoga pants or whatever they are. Get in character. For whatever dodgy business you're up to."
Eleanor withdrew her hands from her hips and crossed her arms. “Och, sae noo ye ur givin' me tips oan hoo tae dae mah job?” the spell blade countered archly, lofting a brow at her much-taller companion. “Ah dornt gie ye advice oan yoors ... whatever it is.” She looked briefly down at her clothes, then up at Hudson again. “Whit in th' nam ay th' gods ur yoga keks?” And then, “Ah happen tae hink mah clase ur perfect fur ... th' dodgy business Ah am up tae.” With a coy half-grin, she added, some of the tension of their initial encounter dissipating, “Aiblins mah business is in attractin' attention; efter aw, Ah seem tae be quite guid at it.”
Hudson lifts his eyebrows suggestively as Eleanor struggles to identify such basic items of clothing as trousers and a shirt. "Pants and shirt," he offers helpfully. "And yoga pants are those generic black tight pants that girls wear. I guess, actually, you're not wearing yoga pants, but whatever close enough." He grins, tension indeed melted between them. If they can joke about yoga pants, it bodes well. Still, there's an unspoken barrier between him and the truth, and she's made matters slightly awkward by alluding to whatever it is she is doing. Seconds spill out between them. "Yeah?" Huds asks, eventually. He hopes Eleanor has not just up and decided to be a prostitute. That seemed a little far fetched and he's embarrassed to have leaped to that conclusion. "Consider my curiosity piqued. You want to elaborate or just leave that out there like usual?"
Eleanor kept her celadon twins angled toward Hudson. With a smirk, she replied, “If Ah tauld ye whit Ah dae, Ah woods hae tae kill ye.” The smirk broadened, and she added, “An' Ah woods hate tae hae tae kill ye.” The spell blade rolled her shoulders in a shrug, shifting away from the male more while pivoting around, casually glancing toward the alley’s entrance before sending her sharp gaze back toward her companion. “Ye dinnae pure want tae ken whit Ah dae, Hudson.” Beat. “Plausible deniability.” El winked at him, then peered around the corner, pressing one hand flat against a wall while her other hovered near a hip. The coast appeared to be clear. Turning back toward the alchemist, she studied him a moment, her expression unreadable but that smirk seemed to have faded. “Th' less ye ken, th' better.” After all, she believed she could not protect him if he knew the dark and sordid details of her professional career.
Hudson nods in an exaggerated fashion, a hand waving dismissively along with her remark. He's heard this one before. "Alright, alright," he tells her, his gaze attentive as she casts a shifty glance out the alleyway and then makes one helluva cryptic remark. He cocks an eyebrow as she seems to be taking precautions to make sure nobody's observed them. They'd be hard to miss. Tall, strong guy. Standing next to blond woman. "Well take it easy, at least," he tells her, and even as he says the words he reflects on how ridiculous they are. He had his own suspicions about some of his mum's acquaintances. They were in some sort of...centaur mob. There had been a few scenes at weddings; he'd read about them and formed a few associations with the names, but they'd never discussed it. And his mum always seemed well in control of her life, so surely she was just an acquaintance, not implicated. Not like Eleanor, apparently. "I'm uh," he tells her, "I'm moving out of Cenril actually, I think. If you're looking for me, like if something..." He gestures lamely. "...Comes up with this stuff. I'm moving outside Kelay."
Eleanor placed her back against the wall, sending Hudson a hooded, sidelong stare as he spoke, finding his ‘concern’ strange. “Movin' ootwith Kelay,” the spell blade repeated slowly, arching a brow once again. Although a smirk tempted her full lips, she kept it at bay as she attempted to put two and two together; any jealousy she had regarding her conclusion was effectively withheld from her thick burr. “Main be 'at baa an' chain ye spoke ay.” El departed the brick wall, moving closer to the alchemist. “Alvina, reit?” That smirk made itself known as she then went to add, “Whit woods she hink if Ah jist ... showed up a body day?” Part of her was curious to know out of a twisted sense of humor, the other part based in earnesty successfully veiled behind her casual tone. “Doobt yer wee loove woods caur fur anither hen jist showin' up an' stealin' yer attention.” Among other things, surely. Her gaze sparkled mischievously as she lied, “Nae 'at Ah am sayin' Ah ever woods.”
Hudson's hands slide into his pockets, taking refuge there as he waits for Eleanor to draw out her conclusion, which happens to be on point. "Temporarily, while I hunt for a new place," he tells her, wondering if that is going to be actually the case. He felt rather like a fly attempting to 'temporarily' hang out in a venus fly trap. He felt pretty positively inclined toward said venus fly trap, but he was really sweating being unable to come and go as he pleased. No more house parties on the beach with women in bathing suits, either, unless he wanted to bring Alvina. Nothing quite like bringing your girl to a sketchy house party and regretting it immediately. Those days were over. And forget about looking at porn. "Alvina, uh, yeah," says Huds, rubbing his face. "Oh, well, she's a really caring person. If you were in trouble she'd help, no question. Sure, after, she would probably be a little like, Soooo Hudson, who is Eleanor?" He shrugs at this. "As would be her right. Look, I don't know what it's like living with a woman, so I don't really know whether she would or wouldn't be cool with you dropping in. How about, you can write me a note if you wanna hang. I'll meet you. Sound good?"
Eleanor kept her smirk in place, but it did not reach her eyes anymore. ‘Temporarily’. Hudson’s following words were regarded with cynicism, a subtle narrowing of her left eye as she continued studying the alchemist. “Ah see,” she eventually parted with. She was quiet a moment longer, mulling over all that he had said, lingering more so on certain hypothetical conversations. Against her better judgment, El threw at him, “An' … if sic' a question waur tae be speart, whit woods ye say?” Her smirk grew as if to mask what she was thinking, and she arched a brow. In an effort to distract Hudson from guessing her thoughts in the off-chance her celadon eyes betrayed her, she went on to say, “Write ye a note, an' whit, lae it whaur? At yer ... haem?” The blonde shook her head, letting a shallow chuckle fall from her lips. “Braw, Ah will lae a message.” With a conceding half-shrug, Eleanor added, lips curling into an enigmatic smile, “Ye will ken it when ye gie it, 'at it is frae me.”
Hudson purses his lips in response to Eleanor's question, feeling a little off kilter for the fact that she's asked. So maybe he hadn't disclosed her existence to Alvina; she had probably a number of male acquaintances that she hasn't disclosed to him. It was the way of things. "Oh it's no big deal. I would say you're a friend," he says, carefully, as if cautious to be stepping in a trap of some sort. "Nothing about what it is you're involved in or anything, hey, I'm good for secrets," he is quick to add. He feels his face heat somewhat as she seems to question his suggestion that she just drop a note off. This was getting a little cloak and dagger! And honestly the more it did the guiltier he felt about it. "Well whatever works," he says, with a lazy grin, making the effort to diffuse the sudden weirdness. "Alvina knows I have female friends, you can leave a note. It won't cause a massive drama. Just, you know, don't write anything crazy, yeah? Anyway. I should get going, let you do your shady business, eh?"
Eleanor did not discuss her acquaintances with Hudson, not because they were male, but because they were sketchy; to be honest, Hudson was the only non-sketchy person she knew so far. If one could even say she knew him. Despite the tension that trickled back into the space between them, she found his words to be of some interest. ‘Friend’. The concept had not yet occurred to her; or perhaps it had, but she had smothered it in denial. She had not meant to make him feel guilty and while her privacy was important to her, she could tell it disturbed her companion. “Gonnae-no worryin' sae much, Hudson,” the spell blade eventually chastised, her tone wry and teasing, but understanding. “Ah wulnae gie ye in trooble wi' yer lassie.” Her full lips formed a half-grin, and she went on to add, “Alrecht ... Ah will be seein' ye, 'en.” She backed up a pace and placed her hands on the swell of her hips, leaving plenty of room for Hudson to move around her and out of the narrow alleyway.
Hudson's mouth turns up at the corner, as distant amusement steals over his person. "Yeah yeah. I know. Who's worried?" he answers her with a cant of his head, as he sidles around her. "Good seeing you," he says as he squeezes past, his gaze connecting with hers in that brief moment. "Stay out of trouble!" he calls out over his shoulder, just before his broad shouldered figure disappears behind the hedge that marks the alleyway where it connects with the road.