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Breaking and entering was something Leo didn't do often. That, however, didn't necessarily mean she lacked the skill. She'd only use it in desperate times, and this definitely qualified. Her latest transformation put the voices in her head to rest for good, but the need to find Alex threatened to tip her right over the edge, into the cold embrace of insanity. She shuddered at the thought, and calmed her breathing. She would find her husband, no matter what the cost.
Upon her return to Evermore, Leo was looking for one person in particular to help her--the only person the former-fire lord knew she could trust above all others. However, a keen ear lent to the ongoings of the city told her of a man who might just be of some use to her. The Head of Intel for the "Organisation." The name of a group brought a snicker past her full lips--Sariah had done rather well in the past few years, Leo had to admit. A sense pride almost washed over her---almost.
The man was easy enough for Leona to find, and even easier for her to track. Not to say that he didn't cover up his tracks well enough. It was just unfortunate that his stalker happened to be her. The only tough bit was figuring how to figure out which room in the underground office belonged to him. But once that information was in her hands, Leo made her move.
When the door to the office finally opened, Everson would see her sitting across from him, feet up on the table by an empty crystal glass. In her arms, Leo cradled the bottle of gin, while the fingers of her right hand delicately clasped around another glass, this one half-full. The darkness only made her low chuckle sound more menacing as a smirk pulled across her blood-red lips. "About time you showed," she purred, lifting the glass to her lips. "Close the door," she'd instruct, meeting his eyes once the lights were on. "And don't bother raising any alarms that I'm here--you'd be out cold before your next breath." With that, she'd swing her legs off the table and lean towards the man, taking a sip of the spirit. "You know who I am, yes?"
Everson listened to the still, deep voice of the woman before him. She took it the information and once again went about a perfect rebutal for every once of fact that Everson had uncovered. He was deep in this now and there was no backing out for even a second. He sat back in his seat, resting his head against the rest of the chair. "Yes, but its more than that." He said softly. "When groups come together like this, its because they have a common enemy." His blue orbs landed upon her then and he shook his head. "What did you and your husband do?"
Taking a steadying breath he shook his head a little. "The only way to get those five in the some room with each other is if we communicate." His hand wiped down across his stubble-littered cheek and he sighed softly. "We'd have to arrange a meeting. A ransom of some kind. But i don't think money is going to cut it this time...They seem to have enough of that." His jaw clicked from one side to the other as he thought for a moment, but his eyes landed on the one thing the gang didnt have.
He stood from the chair and began pacing, piecing together the plan as he started. "They wanted you to begin with. Maybe, with the knowledge I have of the group, I could bargain for Alexander...And use you as my coin." His voice was steady, smooth as steel. "Then we'd guarantee that they're all there...Alexander, the five, even the masters of the operation."
"What do you think?"
His question was something Leona had been asking herself time and time again, ever since she'd been captured all those years ago. "They claimed to be Alexander's enemies," she said thoughtfully, her tone soft as creases formed across her brow. She too then shook her head, letting out an audible, heavy sight. "That's why they claimed to kill me---the last thing I heard from my past life was that my death was my husband's doing, and his alone. It was his punishment to watch me die in front of him, yet I always wondered why they didn't just drive a gold dagger in my hurt."
Her arms now folded under her bust as she spoke of her thoughts on this matter. "They knew how restrain both Alex and I--they had to know of our weaknesses. It doesn't make sense that they didn't know about what was to happen if one drowned a Phoenix." A moment passed as the woman hesitated, then shaking her head once more before speaking again. "Since knowing my husband, the only enemies I had were the Initia, but my husband had their favour. I can't speak for his past, however. He's too old for me to know exactly who he wronged and how, and I can't think of anything he'd have done to have garnered this many people to seek out their revenge in this manner."
She listened patiently as the human spoke once more. Everson made sense: a ransom of some sort would definitely attract them to an area, but based on what they already knew, money wouldn't be an appetising enough bait for them. The Niveis watched his features, noticing when the lightbulb went off in his head as his eyes lit up, settling on her. "You," he'd said, causing the Venetian creature to raise an eyebrow in question. Her left index finger pointed towards her own face, an incredulous look upon her angular features. "Me?" she repeated, then paused as Everson explained his idea.
Her features relaxed slightly as her expression moulded into a pensive look. "That's riding on the hope that they actually wanted me dead, and not turned into...this," she mused, fingers gesturing airily at her new body, disgust dripping thickly at her last word. She shook her head. "If they wanted to punish Alex, why give him up for me?" Her fingers ran through her thick mahogany locks, lips pursed as a solution flashed through her mind. Her gaze flickered down to meet the human's, and swiftly she turned to lean against his desk, eyes still locked on his. "What if you said you simply wanted money for me, but arranged to have the exchange take place where my husband is being held?" She tilted her head to a side, taking in whatever expression would take place on Everson's face. "If they truly hate my husband, then they definitely won't hesitate to having him watch another few years of them inflicting torture on me."
Another pause came from the Niveis, olive green hues flickering to look at the names written down. "If we go through with this plan, we won't have the advantage of them still thinking I'm dead. We can hope that they'l believe I'm incapacitated, as one could assume I'm still settling into this new being. But if you think that this plan will work," she trailed off, her gaze then returning to Everson's steady gaze, "then I'm all for it." A malicious smirk then curled upon her red lips, the woman imagining all the horrid things she'd inflict on her former captors. "So, how's this going to work? Are you going to send them a video of me looking all haggard, hoping that they'd bite?"
A thought then occurred to her, a future problem, and she found her brow creasing once more again. "But wait, they haven't seen me in this body. They could call your bluff, and say that it isn't really me you have..." Just as quick, however, Leona realised a solution. Swiftly, she pulled off an iron ring from her right hand. It was an antique and elaborate, with a clear letter 'F' in the middle. "My family ring," Leo explained in a soft voice. If Everson were to look closely at her expression, he may have noticed the slight pained look in her eyes, as she came to terms that she may lose the last thing tying her to her past life. "There's only five like these in the world, each belonging to my siblings. If they demand proof---and they will---send them this."
When she explained the situation, it occurred to him that she didn’t actually know why these people had gone after her. Maybe she was collateral? As she went on he shook his head. “If they knew everything. Your whereabouts, you and your husbands weaknesses...If they knew exactly how to strike I doubt they’d mess up on something important enough as a kill.” Everson was confident on that point. If there was something assassins and killers looked up more than anything, it was how to immediately terminate their captives. No matter what species they were.
His lightbulb moment occurred without haste, his words poured from his lips like a river and he just hoped they made sense. As she made her first point, he cocked his head to the side and smiled. “They will most certainly want you dead when they find out just how much you know about their cartel.” As she made her counter offer, he sucked in a breath through his teeth in response. “If they want to keep your husband a secret, it would have to be a low ball offer.” He added and then ran his fingers through his dark hair while he thought. She carried on speaking, hashing out her own plan alongside his own and when she mentioned her ring, he glanced down to it and chewed on his lip.
“A video will do wonders but...You’d have to look weak.” Everson added, cocking his head to one side. From what he’d known of the being before him, she didn’t have a weak bone in her body. “I could always have your head covered, show the ring as proof but they would be none the wiser about your current state?” The plan was hatching in his brain as he tried to get the words out along with the thoughts.
“They would need to see you vulnerable to know I meant business. I could demand Alexander in return for you, but they would never really give me Alexander...I’d probably have a sniper target on my head as soon as I pulled up to the drop off point...But I know the ins and outs of the plan, it’d be too much to trust a lackey with it.” He was talking more to himself than her. But one thing was sure, the plan would work...But was he up for risking his own neck for a woman he barely knew?
The words he spoke were true, and just as Leona herself had expected: there was a reason she was left alive. "Why leave me alone after killing me, though?" she wondered aloud. "I was alone on the same bank of the same river, only my killers had left, taking my husband." Creases formed over her brow as she tried to make sense of the situation, but nothing made sense other than her killers really thinking drowning would kill her. "Whatever the case, you're right: they'll want me dead, especially now that we know who they are---to an extent," she mused, fingers gesturing airily to the cipher. All of a sudden, another possibility occurred to the woman, eyes widening as her arms moved to hug herself, fingers touching the area on her back where the markings of her wings at rest stayed. "My wings..." she spoke softly, horror etching its way unto her features as she looked back at the man with widened eyes. "Cutting off a Niveis's wings removes their powers, making them human," Leo uttered. "Could that be the reason they let me go? Knowing I'd come for my revenge, only to capture me once more and reduce me to being human in front of Alex?" It seemed so unlikely, so out of this world, but still, it was the only thing that made sense in that siutation.
She shook her head, lips pursed together. "If they're expecting me, that means we have to control how I'm captured. It's the only way we can ensure any success on our part," she mused aloud. "I can look weak," the Venetian creature added snidely. "You'll just need the right materials. My prior weakness was gold, but now, it is iron. I'm guessing you lot have an iron cage around here somewhere, no?" She delved into her thoughts then, her gaze resting on the tops of her shoes. "You'll also have the rare pleasure of being able to slash me up a little---they won't believe you got me into an iron. cage without a wound on my body or face, so an iron dagger should do the trick." A smirk toyed upon her features, reminding herself to have a vial of Nephilim blood nearby so her wounds wouldn't scar. "And don't have my head covered. They'll need to know that I'm thoroughly weakened, and believe that this isn't a trap on our part."
She shook her head once more, her eyeline rising to meet his piercing hues. "They'll never give you Alexander, no matter what you offered. You need to ask for money: it arises no suspicions that way." When he started talking about being there physically, her optics visibly widened in shock. "No, Everson," she quickly stopped him. "Our agreement is that you're kept safe. I can't assure that if you're there. Plus, getting rid of you will only be a convenience to them. No," Leo said firmly, "you have to be out of their line of sight, and as anonymous as possible. I don't want them to be able to track them down after shit hits the fan. I have people who can deliver me to the drop-off point, people that can't be killed that easily---no offence." A small smirk toyed at her lips as she spoke, but a part of her was partly-touched, partly-concerned that the man was even considering putting his life on the line for her.
She cleared her throat, lips slightly pursed as she adjusted her position, leaning back against the man's desk as she folded her arms under her bust. "So how are we going to get in touch with them?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at the man. "Would it be believable to say you found the cipher on me, or something?" Another moment of hesitation came from the woman's part, but then she asked the question that now weighed heavily on her mind: "And when do you want to get this done?"
Her words sent sparks through Eversons brain. Why leave one alive? "Killers like audiences." He added simply. "In its simplest form, everyone has a signature. Jack the Ripper went for whores and prostitutes, Dennis Nelson left body parts just waiting to be found...Maybe these guys leave one alive to spread the fear?" He muttered and then shook his head and muttered soundlessly "Too simple, too simple." As she mentioned wings, his bright orbs flashed up and he raised his brows. "Im sorry...Wings?" He added, blinking afterwards as she went on, his lips pursed in thought.
"Is being a human...Humiliating for you?" He asked, casually trying to hide the bitterness as he crossed his arms over his chest, relaxing into his hips. Everson then cleared his throat and shook his head. "Hang on a moment." He added, his London twang stronger some. "You WANT to give them the opportunity to...to...DE-wing you?"
As Leona began listing things that Everson would have to do, his mouth opened and closed a few times soundlessly before he blew a breath from clasped lips. "I mean..." He muttered and then scratched the back of his neck. "Yes, we have all of those things." His large blue orbs winced a touch and he grimaced. "And I can't say its not the first time I've done something like that, but...Its YOU and..." He shook his head, catching a glance of the duffel bag stacked with dollar bills and shook his head as if to excise the thoughts.
"You'll need more than cuts." He said steely. "You're one of the most powerful beings we have on file, to truly make them believe you have been captured, weakened and been able to hold you long enough to get the meeting under way...You need bruises. Lots of bruises." Eversons grabbed her wrist and pressed his thumb firmly against her skin, quick enough that he had chance to do so and released just as quickly, watching the pale white rush with pink, he nodded to himself, grabbed a pen and sat back down in his seat, scratching the ink against a page as she went on.
As she mentioned him not being there, he shook his head. "Don't be silly." He whispered and tapped his temple. "Im already anonymous my dear. Im untrackable in every aspect of the term." The point of his words were true, Everson didn't exist. When he'd moved to Evermore, built himself up in the Organisation, he rid the world of any trace of Everson Echo. "These untouchables you have? I presume some of them somewhere along the line have family, relationships, friendships even...I do not. I have nothing tying me to any particular place...Im a ghost." His words hit heavy in Echo's chest, it was true, he was truly alone. But for this singular scenario? It worked well in his favor.
As she asked the three most important questions, Everson wet his lips and swiped his arm across his desk, clearing it of all the loose pages and things they'd collected. He then placed a large piece of paper down and began drawing a path. "I get in touch with them today, toy a little, encrypted lines so they can't trace it, and the pure fact they cant trace it means they'll be interested straight off the bat, Ill attatch a hooded picture of you in the cage, bruised and battered, all dramatic I promise." His words came out as quickly as he scribbled the plan down on the page. "I can say I tracked the cipher from a tip off, because all communications from you AND them is about the cipher. I can prove i have that too." His words flowed eloquently from his lips as he scribbled away. "We can start as soon as you're ready to."
With that, he placed his pen down and looked at her with wide eyes, "Let me know and I can start bruising." He added and then retracted a little "By that I mean, Im sure I can grab one of the women from the front desk with a makeup bag."
Even though the man did try quite well to hide the tone of his question, Leona still picked up that her words rubbed him the wrong way. With a sad smile pulling at the corners of he lips, she simply shook her head and let out a heavy breath. "I mean no offence, my dear boy. The possibility of turning human isn't humiliating for me at all. However, being a Phoenix was all knew for most of my life. From the age of five, I wielded the element of fire. Being Niveis is...jarring for me. What once weakened me makes me stronger, and what once brought me comfort, harms me."
She pressed her lips together, her eyes drifting from his as she tried to find the words to express what she felt. "If I were to become human, it would just mean I've just lost yet another thing that was so precious to me." A weak smile started to form on her features. "Me being human would certainly be torture to my husband, should he survive---he'd have to watch me grow old and die, while he goes on to potential live another millennia."
At his change of expression after hearing what she was asking him to inflict on her, Leona had to fight back a laugh. Instead, she smirked at him. "Good that you have experience--you'll know what to do. Besides, I can count on you not to go around bragging after," she slurred with a smirk. "Don't underestimate the power of iron has to my kind, Echo---make them look deep enough, and they'll believe I've been overpowered. In truth, an iron dagger plunged into my torso would be just as bad for me as it would be for you." She raised her eyes at the thought of bruises, but shrugged it off all the same. "Sounds fine to me."
Her gaze hovered over him, the woman clearly unsure of the risk he was proposing taking---or the lack thereof, as he insists. "As long as you're not physically in any harm," she relented after a moment. "I can't be worrying after you now, can I?" A smirk toyed at the corners of her lips she spoke.
She listened carefully to his answers, nodding solemnly every once in a while. A short laugh parted her lips at his retraction. "Oh Everson, you don't really believe makeup will fool these people, do you?" She clicked her tongue and shook her head in exaggerated-disappointment. "You have an iron rod around, I assume? Or iron knuckle dusters? Have at it---I assure you, I've handled far worse." She raised an eyebrow, watching his face carefully for any sort of reaction. "Unless, of course, you feel uncomfortable doing so. I do know several people who would be quite happy for the 'honour.'"