RP:I Need To Talk To A Dead Woman

From HollowWiki

Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc

Summary: Hudson picks up Astrid from work and tells her that he needs to meet with Valrae about the witch hunters in Cenril and another matter: her brother is selling information on her to the highest bidder. Astrid at first denies that Valrae is alive, but eventually relents and agrees to pass on the message.

Astrid's Salon

Hudson is waiting outside Astrid’s place of work when she locks up for the day. He’s smoking - herbal not nicotine - and has his hands in the pockets of his jeans when he falls into step beside her. His bright polo stands out amid the drooping sun and darkening streets. “Astrid, hi,” he says her name, and steps around her to block her path. There’s a carriage with one of his men parked along the road, and Hudson gestures at it. He smiles at her in a manner that’s genuinely warm, not menacing, but all the same it’s not exactly an invitation. “We need to catch up about a few things and a mutual friend,” he says, lest the message isn’t clear. “Where are you going? I’ll drop you off.”

Astrid’s small shop, which sat on the cusp of development, held barber’s chair, ornate mirror, and shelves of nail lacquer which indicated the potential for a salon. But the boxes and covered furniture that filled the back of the main room hinted at the witch’s indecisive; was she going to close up shop, at least for the meantime? Since learning about Henry Cramer, Astrid had begun to pay more attention to her immediate vicinity, something she did with both spell work and a mundane sweep of her human senses. A twinge of uncertainty shot back through her minor spell, but who or what waited for her wasn’t provided. She locked up her shop and turned to begin towards her home when Hudson fell into step beside her, and despite the warning she had received moments prior, she was still caught off guard by his sudden appearance. “Hudson, hello.” She greeted after a beat, stopping where she stood before he had positioned himself in her path. The carriage he gestured to was met with a skeptical look, as were the words that followed in explanation. “I was heading home,” Astrid stated, hesitating for a few beats before redirecting herself toward the carriage parked near-by. As she approached the carriage, she took the liberty to inform the driver of their destination. “You can drop me off after the market at the end of Merchant street,” she doubted the carriage would make it up the potholed path that snaked its way up a bluff to her new address. She didn’t wait for help up into the vehicle, or Hudson to join her inside the carriage before asking, “So, what are we catching up on then?”

Hudson has no intention of harming Astrid - certainly not after everything - but he knows it looks a bit like an offer she can’t refuse, and he kind of doesn’t care. He’s not above creating the impression to force the conversation in his preferred setting. He opens the door for her and waves her in first, giving the driver a meaningful look that suggests a best efforts basis on getting to their destination. He stubs out his smoke and climbs in after her. He settles in opposite Astrid and offers her a glass bottle that contains water. This ride had better get five stars. “Valrae Ivy Baines Older,” he answers her cheerfully, glancing out the window as they get going. Looking at an attractive woman too long is a bit like looking at the sun, at least for him. “I obviously don’t know where or who she is now, but I bet you do. I want to meet with her, and I’m asking you to convey the message not Lionel, even though he and I are on good terms.” Hudson’s gaze cuts back toward Astrid and he smiles mildly. “If my wife were on the lam and her ex asked me to set up a meeting, I might not be inclined to pass on the message, even if I did like the guy,” he elaborates. “You, however, might,” he steeples his hands, “Cenril government is confined by the law as to what it can do about these hammer people. Some of us aren’t.” Him, for example. He hesitates. “I also have some news about her brother.”

Astrid took the offered refreshment, but didn’t open it - holding it gave her hand something to do other than pick the small imperfections of her dark gray slacks, or the random hairs from her white blouse. She watched Hudson while he stared at the window, her face schooled into simple expression that conveyed mild interest while he mentioned Valrae’s name. “Valrae is dead. Again.” she said, pausing to cross her legs and settle more comfortably into the seat she occupied. Obviously, she knew that it wasn’t the witch that had been turned over to Larket after the resurrection, but she hadn’t know that Hudson had orchestrated the whole thing with Macon. Despite her declaration of the Red Witch’s second death, it was mention of Valrae’s brother that sparked a crack in the careful facade she had drawn across her features; both brows furrowed briefly in mild bemusement, and her lips pursed softly. “I wasn’t aware that Valrae had a brother.”

Valrae is dead, right. Hudson clears his throat and gives Astrid a very long look that suggests she should know better than to repeat the party line to the man who came up with it. Still, he works in the business of secrets and always appreciates loyalty. “Yes, I killed ‘Valrae’ myself in front of King Macon,” he says, carefully, watching how Astrid’s expression changes at the mention of Valrae’s brother. “Yeah,” says Hudson, remembering the fellow. A pissant. Those had been different times, then. He’d been spending a lot of them in Valrae’s bed, for one. He and Valrae’s brother hadn’t exactly gotten off to a friendly start. Since that time, Hudson had grown into a criminal empire, and that guy... well, he’s still doing what he was doing before. Being an unsuccessful criminal has to be the worst. But the guy had figured out that his sister still lived and wasn’t above making her his payday at last. Hudson runs the back of his fingers along his jawline stubble. “He’s an idiot and trying to sell information about her,” he tells Astrid, leaving the implication plain: there’s going to be leak and Valrae’s very much going to become an alive person in the public eye if the brother situation isn’t handled. “I’d have taken care of it in the usual way if it weren’t her brother. So,” he lifts his eyebrows at Astrid, smiling in a disarming manner, “Pass on the message and I’ll owe you a favor.”

Astrid met Hudson’s look with one that insinuated a hidden amusement- the hints lie in the subtle smize, and a soft tick that seemed to try and work her lips free of the line they had pressed themselves into and instead curve them into a grin. Despite the information that it was Hudson who killed ‘Valrae’, the humor remained, but as the conversation slid into the mention of Valrae’s brother, a scowl broke through her stoic facade. “He fuc-...” A pause, a clearing of her throat, a longer pause. “I’ll kill him,” she threatened, clearly uncaring the reaction Valrae might have if Astrid actually followed through with her threat. She went through too much, they all had, to allow a pissant to ruin it. Astrid was mulling over ideas to dispose of her best friend’s sibling, and almost missed the last things Hudson said. “Huh?- oh. I’ll take care of it.” She still tried to avoid admitting that Valrae was alive aloud, but the look she settled on Hudson no longer held amusement, but agreement and understanding. “What are the limits of this favor?”

Hudson sucks in a breath and cants his head at the threat that casually slips out of Astrid’s mouth. “He’s her brother,” he repeats slowly, with emphasis, for the blond witch’s benefit: there’s a reason Hudson hasn’t put the guy down yet himself. Perhaps Valrae might wish to wash her own dirty laundry. But at least now when Astrid’s gaze connects with his, they seem to be on somewhat of the same page. He lifts his eyebrows when she asks about the favor. “The usual ones,” he answers, as if it were obvious. “Has to be within my power to grant. Not patently unreasonable. I can refuse but because it’s a favor I’m not supposed to unless I’ve really good cause.” A pause here as he considers her. “What kind of favor do you have in mind, Astrid, huh?” he asks her, some amusement creeping into his tone.

Astrid shrugged her shoulders loosely and met Hudson’s repeated explanation with a smile that sat somewhere between sweet and predatory but said nothing further; she didn’t care about the relationship between her best friend and her sibling, she just wanted the Red Witch to remain safe and not dead for a third time. When their conversation switched to the topic of her favor, and limitations of said favor, Astrid answered his question with another shrug. “I don’t know yet. I’m not currently in need of anything in particular. I think I’ll hold onto it for a little while. I’m sure something is bound to come up.” She offered him an amused smirk before leaning forward in her seat to peer out of the carriage’s windows. She had purchased a small cottage that on a high bluff and overlooked the beach; it had been there for years, but the renovations done to update it’s interior and exterior had given it an air of a new build. The path leading up to it would eventually need to be widened if she ever hoped of getting a Lipht carriage to make it to her door those nights when she spent a little too much at the bar. “Did you need anything else? Any other message I can pass along to someone?”

Hudson wonders if Astrid’s giving him a little attitude just there. He supposes the history between them - that time he almost killed her, for example, his role in trying to quash Valrae’s resurrection - allows her it, but still, what a ballsy little witch. He follows her gaze out the window. She hadn’t been joking about the pass getting rough and narrow. Her earlier prediction holds true and the ride stops. A little attitude for sure, he thinks, hearing her ask him if there’s any other messages she needs to pass on. “No, thank you,” he answers coolly. “Don’t sound so salty, you got a free ride home out of it,” he adds, the hint of amusement still underscoring the words. The driver comes around to open the door, and Hudson looks at Astrid expectantly. “Your shop looks to be coming along. Anyway, it’s been a pleasure. Have a nice night.”

"A ride, and a favor," Astrid clarified, gathering herself from the bench seat and moving for the open door, a smirk nestled in the corners of her mouth. "I suppose a 'thank you' is in order." She didn't ever offer said 'thank you' however, and instead descended from the carriage. The compliment of her shop warranted a quick pause, and Astrid turned to meet Hudson's expectant look with an amused one of her own. "Have a good one, Hudson. Stop and grab a cannoli for your wife." It wasn't meant as a 'hey, remember you got a wife?', but instead a 'hey, do something sweet for your wife'. She turned then to finish the trek up the bluff path to the small white house that sat atop it.