|Location||Valerie's Apartment - Mutant Town|
|Summary||Valerie prepares for a night out.|
Valerie stands naked in the middle of her dark apartment. The lights of Manhattan sparkle through the loft's high windows, reflecting off the water drops that cling to her skin and making it glow golden.
She lingers for a moment with her eyes lifted to the towering skyline beyond the glass and draws in a deep breath. A smiling breath. She lifts her arms to twist her damp hair up in a quick, neat bun, with none of the artfully messy flyaways she'd sported earlier. The clothes come next: dark, tight, comfortable enough to move quickly and quietly, but simple enough to be unremarkable. Each piece comes in order, settling into place with a precise tug. She laces up soft-soled boots with deft fingers, then straps a knife to her ankle. She's already checked her belt, taking inventory of each small pouch and its allocated supplies. Now she slings it on, fastening the buckle with a soft, satisfying *click*.
The process is ritual, almost sacred. Every slide of fabric, every pull of a zipper or work of a button or click of a snap marks out a familiar, comforting beat. It chants inside her head, centering her. She counts off every step like beads on a rosary, and with each, she reviews her target.
Upper West Side, attorney, almost certainly dining with his latest pretty young thing tonight. They have reservations at Le Bernardin at seven. Basic electronic security at the door, which she doesn't intend to touch. Probably a safe in the bedroom. The doorman will be the hard part. Once she's past, there are no cameras in the halls. It's an easy target, which is why she chose it two days after her return.
She's not after anything special. Jewelry, high-end electronics, a few transfers from his account, if she can gain access to his local machines. The usual.
Valerie disappears into the bathroom, her footsteps silent on the dark wood of her floor. Here, she flips a light on and regards herself in the mirror. A quick hand lines her eyes dark and dramatic.
She's not after anything special, tonight. Just that feeling humming through her blood. That excitement. That assurance.
She's alive. She's home. She's taking what she wants.
Already, there's an electric energy that crawls along her skin. She tells herself that it's anticipation of the steal and not of the man she plans to fuck after.
She can still feel the hot press of his fingers against her back.
Her lipstick is bold and bright, screaming confidence. She applies it with thick abandon.
The gun comes last.
It's new. It breaks her ritual, and for a moment as Valerie turns the cool metal over in her hands, she feels a frisson of fear. The world is so much fucking bigger than she thought it was. She isn't prepared for this. She can't handle any of it. Does she really even know how to shoot the damn thing?
She knows it's a bad idea. If she's caught, a gun raises the stakes. But she's never been caught before. And she needs it.
Valerie scowls, twisting her red lips into an angry, unhappy expression in the mirror. She lifts the gun to level it at her reflection, forcing her hand to steady. Her gaze goes steely and dark.
"Bang," she says.
She tucks the gun into a holster concealed at the small of her back and turns to jog down her stairs. Her fingers close around a flier on kitchen table as she passes.Valerie steps out into the night and grins.