you’re the fox and i’m the hound
“Please, Tatty, put it down,” she whispered.
The brunette stumbled through the alley as if she had a limp, an unlit cigarette dangling from her fingertips, her hair uncombed and tangled, her clothes ripped at the hem and three sizes too big. In essence, she wanted to fit in down here in Muggle New York City, the shadiest corner that she could find, although she had a communications device earpiece hooked to her ear.
After an aversion to wizarding culture and society had led her on a detox mission three years ago to try and distance herself from it, Tatiana had decided that she’d had enough of the magical world. She’d quit her job as a healer, fled to America, joined the FBI, and promptly cut all ties with those she cared about back in the magical world.
Her parents had written to her every week since she’d left. Their letters remained unopened on her desk. Daniel had tried to stop in and see her once, but she’d refused to speak to him. As for Seren, well, she hadn’t heard anything about her best friend’s whereabouts in three years. The twenty five year old young woman could only infer that the witch had remained in London, carrying on as usual with her life.
It didn’t matter to Tatiana. Not today, not any day. She was an FBI agent now, fully trained, on her way to a drug bust. The ring that they had been targeting had been a two year long project that was only coming into light right now. Supposedly downtown New York City was practically a breeding ground for the sale of a certain high-risk drug: vertigo. There had been forty seven deaths linked to it over the last month in New York alone; they had to stop this trade before this disease spread.
“Penvrane, the man we questioned said that he bought it right next to that rundown diner on the next street,” a voice flared suddenly in her earpiece, and the brunette winced, pressing a hand to her ear.
“For the love of Godric, Jackson, there’s no need to yell,” she hissed. “I can hear you fine.”
“You say such strange things sometimes,” the amused voice on the other end noted. “Still with that accent, though. Make sure you don’t speak too much or they’ll know you’re not local.”
Tatiana ignored her partner’s comment. “I’m coming up on that diner now. You’re still in position at the other end of the street?”
“That’s correct. Give me a yell if you need me, but I think you can take her. Apparently this Sugar Queen is supposed to be something like our age, and I doubt she’s had as much training as we’ve had.”
“You’d be surprised. Where and who you grow up with makes all the difference,” Tatiana murmured before pausing. “Alright, I’m here. Be ready.”
The abandoned building just beside the diner was nothing assuming at all. Under normal circumstances, the woman would have walked past it – hell, under normal circumstances, she wouldn’t be in this part of the city in the first place. But this job required someone with her skill set; she’d only been here for three years, but years of dueling from her time as a proper witch had not left her mind.
The door creaked as she opened it, and at once, hands seized her and dragged her inside. She struggled until they released her, and a pair of burly security men began to pat her down. She shot them poisonous looks through honey-colored eyes until they finally deemed her clean. She didn’t carry a gun because that would be discovered too easily; instead, her form of protection was a knife strapped to her wrist, where people usually neglected to check because it was so slim.
“Have you got it?” One of the men grunted. She merely nodded, and he let her pass from one room into the next.
The exterior of the building yielded nothing, but the interior was richly furnished, with lavish armchairs and paintings on the wall – mostly stolen, Tatiana guessed. She’d ask her partner to look into it later. For now, her gaze instead turned to the crate in front of her, loaded with small plastic bags with the small green and black pills.
She slid a roll of cash – fake, easily traceable – from her pocket and handed it to the nearest figure. He appraised it quickly by flipping through it, nodded, and then moved down to the crate and began pulling out the pills.
“Stop,” a commanding voice from the side of the room caused both Tatiana and the man to halt, and they turned slowly.
A blonde woman stepped into the room, her hair long and curled, her skin tanned. Her eyes were bright blue in a way that Tatiana found unnatural, yet there was something achingly familiar about her. The woman swept her cold glance over the brunette, and she was quickly glad for the disguise that made her look just as unkempt as anyone else in the street.
“Where did you hear about this place?” The blonde woman asked after a moment, eyes narrowed. There was something musical about her voice that didn’t belong here, in this drug den in New York. Tatiana thought quickly of a castle in Scotland, a wide smile, a pair of warm hazel eyes.
“My friend said that I could find Sugar and vertigo over on this corner, so I wanted in,” Tatiana shrugged nonchalantly.
The blue gaze settled on her again, and after a moment, the other woman nodded. The man at Tatiana’s side pulled out two packs of pills and handed them to her.
“Thanks,” she replied. In one swift motion, however (years of training from hiding her wand up her sleeve) she had whipped out the dagger and brandished it at the man closest to her. “Get on your knees right now.”
He acquiesced carefully, lowering to his feet. She whipped her head around to the other end of the room. “Sugar, or whatever the hell your real name is, you’re under arrest.”
She hadn’t expected the blonde to stay put, and she was not disappointed. The other woman turned and ran, her expensive shoes slipping off as she ran out the door. Ignoring the other goons, Tatiana followed. It was the blonde woman at the head of the operation, and she was the one they needed to take out. They couldn’t let this drug spread, not when it had killed so many already.
So she followed, running out onto the street behind the other woman. “Sugar” might have been fast, but training had made Tatiana Penvrane faster. She lunged, reaching out to grab the other’s hair, and then pulled her onto the ground, tumbling on top of her and pinning her down with her knees and elbows.
It was only at such close proximity, their faces only inches from each other, that the similarities seemed to click. “Seren?” the brunette gasped, not even bothering to hide her surprise.
The other had been struggling, but stopped abruptly. “Tatty?”
For a moment, hazel locked on blue before the blonde blinked rapidly and the brunette could make out the cerulean colored contact lenses that had hid her appearance. Her grip suddenly tightened on the dagger in one hand, the blade at the tip of Seren’s throat. The witch squirmed on the ground.
In a rapid motion, Tatiana plucked the earpiece from her ear and stabbed it on the pavement, mere inches from Seren’s head so that her partner wouldn’t hear another word.
“Why are you doing this? What the hell are you doing here anyway?” Tatiana hissed.
“I could ask you the same,” Seren fired back.
Tatiana let out a labored sigh. “I left London to get away from all this! Magic, you, all of it!”
“Well you didn’t even bother to keep in touch, did you? Not one bloody letter or visit?” Seren spat back. “It’s not like you’d know I got fired from WWN, or that my parents wouldn’t take me back! This was the only way I could survive!”
“So you became a criminal in New York City? You sell vertigo?” The tip of the blade moved back to the hollow of the other’s throat. “Do you know how many people those pills have killed? I can’t let you continue this before it leaves the state. This ends now.”
“So what are you going to do?”
The word was said as a challenge, and a flame suddenly built up in the brunette’s heart. She lifted the dagger. “I’m going to be the one to end it.”
Seren’s eyes widened. “What happened to the Tatiana Penvrane I knew who would think before taking someone’s life?”
“What happened to the Seren Jones that I knew who wouldn’t have let anyone die?”
There was a stalemate, suddenly, each side unyielding but equally frightened. They’d been best friends once, Tatiana reminded herself. Her hazel eyes locked down on the witch’s steely gaze underneath her, and finally, Seren broke.
“Please, Tatty, put it down,” she whispered.
Tatiana was breathing heavily now, her breaths shallow and unsteady as she tried to make a decision. Her earpiece was destroyed. Jackson would have heard it by now. He’d be here any second with back up.
She eased herself off of Seren, lifting her legs and avoiding pinning her down. The blonde sat up, eyes wide in surprise. “Why’d you do that? And smash your earpiece?”
“I couldn’t – I can’t kill you, Ser,” Tatiana replied, breathing heavily. She’d killed before; in her field, it was difficult to avoid. But she couldn’t look into the face of someone she loved and do the same. Not to Seren, not even now. “And I didn’t want my team to know who you are.” She lifted her eyes to the other. “Go, get out of New York. Now. Start another new life somewhere else. But if you start selling vertigo again, I will find you, and I won’t be merciful this time.”
The blonde nodded as if scarcely believing her luck. She pulled herself to her feet and then glanced around Tatiana, presumably noticing the figures that were coming. Seren spared her once-best friend a last look, opened her mouth as if to say something, and then closed it and nodded again. She turned and fled.
A few seconds later, Jackson arrived. Tatiana dropped her dagger on the ground numbly, her heart heavy and her head even worse.
“What happened?” her partner asked, pinning his sea-green gaze on her as she pushed back dark hair form his tanned forehead, having just run and rounded up all the others who had worked for Seren. “Where’s Sugar?”
“She got away,” Tatiana replied shortly, letting out breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.