A figure in a dark grey coat bolted out of the shadows and into the alleyway. It was a damp night, a fog parading the streets after that morning’s heavy dose of rain. Small droplets of water dew dotted the grey coat, shimmering in the flickering light of the streetlamp. The figure paused by a doorway, seeming to check the faded address plastered to the wall before nodding to themselves and knocking a quick sharp knock on the rusted metal door.
The door opened a hair’s width and a soft voice demanded a name.
“Rothsford,” The figure replied in a feminine tone. The door shut again and the woman in the coat leaned casually against the wet brick wall to wait.
The alley offered a minimal amount of protection from the wind. the cobblestone ground was slick a muddy, smeared with unnameable substances. To the right of the door was a haphazard stack of crates and a few rotting planks of wood. There were three other doorways in the alley, most of them boarded shut, only the one she waited by seemed to have been opened recently. The woman idly counted the eroded bricks in front of her, expecting to wait for quite a while.
Three hours passed and the only movement in the alley was the adjustment of the woman’s posture after her neck grew a little stiff. A cold wind picked up and she pulled her coat tighter around herself.
The woman was in her late thirties, her mousey brown hair already streaked with silver that only suited to make her piercing sapphire eyes shine brighter. In her hand, she gripped a silver dagger, a fantastic weapon lovingly crafted to be pleasing to the eye and easy to use in any situation. Despite the alluring sleepiness that came with the chilly night, the woman remained aware. Her mission here was too great for failure. Should anything happen— well, let’s just say the lives of many relied on her goal here tonight.
There was a noise in the street. She tensed, keeping the knife at the ready.
A man emerged from the bushes some ways away, his eyeglasses catching the light of the streetlamp. The woman readied her knife and ducked behind a stack of crates. The man secured his hat atop his head and quickly crossed the street. The woman gritted her teeth.
She knew this man. He was no friend.
A long scar on her calf seemed to sting in memory. She knew what he was here for, and she couldn’t let him have it. The man stepped into the alley and stopped, tilting his head as if listening for something.
He smiled smugly.
“Victoria. Come out, come out, wherever you are.” He sang, his black eyes glinting maliciously. Victoria scowled and stood.
“Jayson. You should know better than to come here.” She said, squaring her shoulders. Jayson laughed.
“Oh, Tori. It is you who should have stayed as far from this place as possible. Now I must kill you.” He pouted mockingly.
She bared her teeth. “You seem so disappointed.”
He chuckled softly. “In fact, I am. It is so much fun to spar with you, I am saddened that this time will be the last.” He stepped forward, mouth tipped in a sardonic smile.
His long, dark blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, pulling at his temples and making his already receding hairline seem farther back than it would be otherwise. He withdrew a knife of his own. A steel one of surprising length.
Her leg tingled once again, the memories of their last encounter resurfacing.
“This will indeed be our last,” She growled, getting into a defensive stance.
“Then, let’s have at it.” He lunged his dagger a mere blur of silver in the dim lighting.
She dodged the strike and swiped at his arm. The tip of the blade managed to tear his sleeve but didn’t do as much damage as she would’ve liked. He spun behind her and made a cut along her back. She cried out in muffled pain as the skin burned like fire.
If it were not for her thick coats the blade would have cut deep.
Enraged, she swung wildly at him, forcing him back into a doorway. His hat had fallen off, his hair wild and sweaty. He grinned maniacally, his teeth stained yellow. “I’m really gonna miss this,” he hacked out a triumphant laugh, grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her, forcing her to drop her knife. It clattered to the ground noisily.
“You fool. You know we will never let you get away with this!”
He laughed coldly. “Your friends will have to find me first. By then, I will be long gone with the package.” He made no effort to be gentle. Pressing his knife against her throat he led her to the back of the alley.
She kicked and pushed, careful to not press her own neck against the sharp blade. “Package.” She spat. “Do you even know what you are here to retrieve?”
“I don’t ask questions. The less I know, the better.” She could feel his smirk. “You are familiar with that rule?”
“I’m going to kill you.”
“I’m afraid you are in no position to threaten me, Miss Rothsford.” He hissed in her ear. He laughed as she kicked harder. They reached the end of the alley. He threw her to the ground, taking pleasure in the way she scrambled to gain some composure.
She managed to get to her feet, breathing hard. “Why, you-”
“Well, now, Miss Rothsford. There’s no need for that.” He smiled murderously. “I like to kill face on, you know this, so look at me. Look at me!” He stepped forward and grabbed her face, forcing her to look into his soulless, opaque, black eyes. She spat again, this time in his face. He yelled and pushed her up against the wall, pure hatred radiating from his eyes.
She clawed at his hands, gasping for air, he didn’t relax his grip.
“I have had so much fun here tonight, Tori, but I’m afraid party time is over.” He tightened his hold and watched as her face reddened. He laughed. “It’s too bad I have to kill such a pretty face.”
She flailed her arms, one of her hands landing on his shoulder.
Before he could realize what she was doing she pressed down hard on the pressure point and with her other fist snapped his neck in the direction of her hand. He collapsed, dead, on the cobblestone.
Gasping for air, she crawled away from the body, her heart pounding against her ribcage. She stood shakily and brushed off her coats. She rubbed her neck, the feeling of his hands still lingering in a suffocating way. She closed her eyes and reminded herself why she was here.
Hiding her hair and face once again she went to wait by the door.
A clock struck midnight somewhere in the distance.
The door opened a smidgen of a crack. “Miss Rothsford?” A small voice asked. Victoria stepped forward.
“Yes, I’m here.”
The maid on the other side relaxed. “Here, she’s ready.” The door opened just enough for the maid to hand her a bag and a small, warm, bundle which she carried carefully in the crook of her arm.
“Thank you,” Victoria breathed, looking down at the sleeping child’s face. The baby’s eyes fluttered for a moment, her cheeks rosy in the cold before she snuggled close to Victoria and slept again. “She’s beautiful.”
“Take care,” The maid whispered, eyes wide. “There are many enemies wandering about tonight,” The door shut and Victoria was left alone in the alley with the sleeping girl.
She stared at the baby for a moment. Taken aback by the innocence and peace that radiated from her.
Silently, she kissed the child’s head, smiling for a moment before hiding the infant behind her outer coat and venturing out into the streets.
“I will keep you safe,” She whispered. “Don’t you worry.”