Two to Tango, Five for Fighting

Sundaram Tagore, though not as prestigious as MoMA or The Met, is one of the more sought after galleries for an up and coming artist to unveil his or her works. Tonight is a private show for the who's who is New York City, a party of sorts where the tickets sold for almost five grand apiece. While normally people wouldn't pay such a high price to attend an event, this one is special. It's to benefit Botswana. At least that's what most people are told.

Sol Hertzog's cream colored envelope arrived in the mail days before and he'd spent the time in between parading his lady around the boutiques to prepare her for the event. In the end, she looked fabulous and … bored.

Standing in front of a painting, he waves one of his short arms at it while the tall willowy woman beside him stares at it, unamused. "Vasha, you heff to appreciate the simplistic beauty on the canvas." He explains, his pudgy face smiling up at her as though she should be impressed by his knowledge of art.

Staring down at him, Vasha's lips twitch into a patronizing Mona Lisa smile. "It is a white line on a red background. That is what I see." Her tone is strained, her entire posture is tense and only intensifies when the short man's hand crawls to the small of her back. For some reason, she puts up with it.

"Okay, bambino. You have any trouble with that thing we talked about, you just tell 'em that you're workin' for Milo. I gotta run."

A man with dark hair and dark eyes stands up, shakes hands with several other men, and then walks away from the private table where he'd been seated. He's wearing a navy suit, a blue and white striped shirt, heavy gold jewelry, and an insincere smile. To an outsider, he probably looks like a stereotypical American pig. More money than sense and more volume than courtesy in his conversation.

Porter blinks, shedding the guise of Milo McLaren. It's more than a simple adjustment to attitude or inflection. Everything about him changes. His posture lifts, growing tighter and more erect. The muscles in his face relax, erasing lines and allowing his jaw to fall back into its normal position. As a waitress passes, he snags a martini, downs the entire drink in several fast swallows, and exhales a long breath. The process is complete.

Sol's hand wanders down a little further to rest just above Vasha's tailbone, a gesture that earns him a sharp glower. While normally a woman in her position would smile and actually encourage such affection, this one is a little different.

"Eff you wish to play the part, you shoult consider immersing youself to the role, mm?" Sol's voice is low, smooth, and even quite pleasant. Something that raises the ire of the woman he's holding onto.

Without a word, she turns and slips out of his grip. As a waitress passes, she lifts a flute of champagne from her tray and brings it to her lips to take a sip.

The martini glass is discarded at an empty table while Porter takes several more deep breaths. When he's settled, he adjusts his pinky ring and presses his hair delicately back into place. As he's doing so, he scans the room with sharp, practiced eyes. Two security guards by the stairs leading down. Perimeter cameras. Another camera and a guard at the hallway. Velvet rope and a guard at the stairs leading up. And a woman.

There are many women here, of course. Many beautiful women, some of them even the recipients of unwelcome attention. None quite like this one, though. A plan forms in Porter's mind as he ghosts over to the woman's side. As if reading his thoughts, the orchestra strikes up Por Una Cabeza.

"My dear, it's so good to see you again. When you told me you'd be here, I wasn't sure if I should believe you." No time to step back into character. Porter is firing from the hip on this one. His smile is genuine, but the recognition in his eyes is false. This is clearly a rescue attempt. To emphasize it, he jerks his head minutely toward the dance floor. "Dance with me. I know how you love this song."

When Porter walks up to her as bold as can be, Vasha's already tight smile falters for just a moment and her eyes narrow ever so slightly. She does, however, take his hand and follow him to the dance floor. There are a few couple already engaged in the sensuous dance.

"Is it so good to see me again, Captain?" She purrs, her South African accent coming out quite plainly. Her grip firms to a tight squeeze of his hand, indicating that perhaps it isn't as good to see him. The gold material of her gown shimmers in the light, accentuating her curves in a most provocative manner.

The muscles in Porter's jaw clench visibly. He fixes his eyes on Vasha's. All traces of his put-upon friendliness have disappeared. He squeezes her hand in kind, due more to instinct than anything else. To maintain the facade, he pulls her close to his chest. Very close. Then, with one arm at the small of her back for support, he dips Vasha low to the ground and whispers in her ear, even going so far as to brush a kiss against her lobe. "I suppose there's no denying it. You've grown up, Vash."

Vasha's leg comes up straight past his body as Porter dips her. When he straightens them up again, she bends it around his, locking them both in place. She gazes directly into his eyes, feeling that perhaps, she might have the upper hand in the situation. "And you have grown old," she murmurs against his ear before pulling her head back, "Have you missed lying the bosom of my father's mistress? Or perhaps just lying to my father?" Her hand slides from his shoulder, down, feeling that side for a weapon. Her eyes betray a sense of alarm at what she finds.

Standing with his hands on his hips and a suitably detached expression on his face, Porter waits as the hand goes down. And down. And down…

"That's all Kyle," he says, smiling mildly at the couple next to them. "But I'm flattered that you think it's dangerous." He turns his head as Vasha's hand travels back up the other side, where she'll find what she's looking for. Nestled next to his ribs is a diminuative pistol in a shoulder rig. "As for your father, that was purely business."

As though it was all part of the dance, Vasha's hand reaches into his jacket and pulls out the pistol. Immediately afterward, she dips into a split position at his feet and slides the gun across the floor to land with a soft bump against the wall. No one is the wiser. Reaching up, she places her hand in his and pulls herself up, balancing against one of his legs as she is once again dipped low to the floor. "As are you, I am certain that you will not fault me when I put you down like the dog you are?"

Porter's eyes widen appreciatively at Vasha's technique. "I promise not to take it personally," he murmurs. "But I don't see why we can't be friends when you aren't trying to kill me."

He slips his hand behind her knee and draws it up until it's wrapped around his waist. In the guise of an intimate caress, he searches the very few places that a woman might hide something in a dress such as hers. A throaty chuckle bubbles out of him when his fingertips contact the knife strapped to her inner thigh. In a fluid motion that lifts his dance partner's skirts alluringly, he jerks the blade from its hiding spot. Then, nonchalantly, he transfers it to his other hand and sets it on a passing waiter's tray where it blends it with a stack of cutlery.

Vasha can't contain the smirk on her lips as his hand reaches to grab the knife, the muscles in her leg tighten in a lame attempt to keep the knife in her possession, but to no avail. "Why, Captain, would you wish to be my friend when my entire existence is dedicated to your destruction?" She coos gently into his ear as she is tipped upright again.

In a fluid motion, her hand reaches up into his hair at the back of his head and she curls her body around his, ending the movement in a twirl at the end of his arm. When Vasha is tucked back up against Porter's chest, she stiffens, her feet moving as rapidly as his while her lower body twists and gyrates, along with his, to the violin music.

Matching her step for step, Porter leads them around a lazy box, then sends Vasha out for another spin. When he twirls her back in, this time she lands with her back to his chest. In an overtly dominant gesture, he cups his hands around her shoulders, slides them down her arms, and transferrs them to her hips. "Fine," he whispers, leaning over her shoulder to better make himself heard. "You want to kill me. You're at the bottom of a long list. You also owe me a new Makarov."

When the song drifts to an end, he curls an inquisitive eyebrow in Vasha's direction. He retains his grip on her hand for the moment, but this time it's gentle rather than aggressive. "Your move, kid. I don't want to fight you over something that happened fifteen years ago."

Meanwhile, Sol is at the edge of the dance floor, seething. The woman on the dance floor is supposed to belong to him and while she has been off dancing with a man he does not recognize, his 'business' partners have been pressing him.

He moves along the edge, trying to catch Vasha's eye and when the music drifts to a close, she finally makes eye contact with him. "Perhaps I will climb to the top of that list sooner than you imagine, Captain. I am quite adept," is her smooth response. Her voice just as low and much more egotistical than his. "As for the Makarov, I will take the price from your insurance policy and bury you with the cash."

She doesn't release herself from his grip immediately, rather, she leans in closer. Staring at Sol as she murmurs into Porter's ear, the pudgy man at the edge of the dance floor boils with anger as his companion whispers into the stranger's ear. "The knife can be considered a gift. Just remember, my darling, it belongs to a matched set."

"You're too good to me," Porter replies absently. He's distracted by Sol at the moment. Watching to gauge the pudgy man's response, he slides his hand down to cup Vasha's hip. At the same time, his other hand finger-walks up her ribs, but stops short of truly indecent territory. Porter presses a kiss against her throat, then releases her with apparent reluctance.

Abruptly, the sound of raised voices speaking Spanish cut through the general murmur of the crowd. Several Colombian men are filing up the stairs, each one wearing an expensive suit, a bad haircut, and a surly expression. They converse with each other and occasionally one will shout to be heard above the others. The man in the lead glances up while making a joke. His laughter trails off as he spots the conversing couple. "…what? It's him! The crazy white man!"

It's plain to see that Sol is absolutely livid as Porter is allowed to do things to Vasha that she won't even allow him to do in private, let alone public. When the tall woman finally drifts to his side, he winds his hand around her waist and glares in Kyle's direction.

Vasha's hazel eyes are still on Porter as she is led away, in the direction of the stairs when the Columbian man recognizes the 'crazy white man'. She flits a lazy gaze in the loud man's direction and then another look at Porter, apparently understanding at least a little of what the man is saying. She moves off to the side, allowing Sol to barge his way through but begging off in joining him downstairs.

Whoever these Colombians are, they're pissed. After a brief, whispered conversation the three of them fan out and charge through the crowd toward Porter. They will cross the room in a matter of moments. Socialites, cocktail waitresses, and generalissimos all scatter in the face of their rush.

"Nice," Porter mutters under his breath as he backs away in search of a more favorable position. He bumps into a table before he finds anything promising. With a grimace, he picks up a half-full glass of alcohol, sniffs it, and recoils visibly. Quickly, he produces a lighter from his pocket. "Very nice. You know what would be useful right now? My GOD damn MAKAROV."

When the first of the Colombians gets close to him, Porter takes a mouthful of the alcohol and sprays it out between his pursed lips… directly across the lighter's flame. The resulting gout of fire singes the first attacker and drives him back, buying a few precious seconds.

Looking around, Vasha is at a loss to find anything useful as a weapon. A tray of hors d'oeuvres is liberated from one of the passing waiters. She plucks one of the shrimps off of it and takes a lazy bite, chewing thoughtfully until one of the Columbians ventures just a little too close. "I am quite apologetic for this, as I have no quarrel with you. Unfortunately the man that you have designs on happens to have a full dance card." She murmurs, whether the man can understand her or not is irrelevant, because in a split second the pick holding the shrimp has been embedded into his neck.

It's not a deadly move, just extremely painful and enough to show that the woman in the low cut gold dress means business. "Now if you will move on," she smiles gently at him, "I will allow this slight upon myself and my family to pass."

As fun as this is, Porter's improvised flamethrower has very limited fuel. Rather than waste the last mouthful of booze on a useless and flashy assault, he swallows it. The glass makes an audible 'click' in the now-quiet room when he sets it on the table. "Take the lady's advice," he cautions the Colombians with a bland smile. "The risk isn't worth the reward."

One Colombian has been singed and another is bleeding from a painful neck wound. Both are gabbling at the third, who seems to be in charge. He shouts something at them in Spanish, quelling their cries and causing the one who has merely been scorched to scurry over and assist his cohort.

The man who is still standing glowers at Porter. "This isn't over," he says, his English flawless. "Not by a long shot." Then he glances at the others and snaps his fingers. "Vamanos!"

They're gone in seconds.

Vasha's lips pucker just a little as she flashes Porter a minute look of appreciation. Then she turns her head in the direction of the basement, possibly deciding whether to join Sol there or not. The waiter that she stole her tray from is granted the platter of food back, but not before she liberates a stick of celery.

Apparently, Sol isn't important enough to join, as Vasha has decided to stay on the upper level to peruse the art. Another glass of champagne is lifted from yet another passing tray and she moves to stand in front of a particularly garish collection of wires on a platform.

Porter sighs out a long, relieved breath. He hasn't lived this long by getting in a ton of three-on-one fights. No time to relax, though. As soon as he catches his breath, he's off. Three seconds later, he's disappeared into a crowd that's just now starting to stand up.

After a few minutes of drifting, he reappears at Vasha's side. He doesn't even pretend to look at the artwork. Instead, he goes straight for eye contact. "I know why you did it. Still, I wanted to thank you before I left."

The hand carrying the flute of champagne is raised and curled until her fingers are touching her lips and chin. Giving him a small smile, Vasha gazes into his eyes and narrows hers just slightly. "Until our next meeting, Captain, do stay in touch? I am quite certain a man with your resources is able to do that, at the very least."

Her eyes rove over his shorter frame and she gives him somewhat of a patronizing smile before raising her chin and turning to gaze at the artwork in front of her. The champagne is drained from the glass in one long gulp. She turns toward him again and hands him her empty glass as she would her companion or a waiter. "Have a pleasant evening, Captain, I know I will."

Rather than take the glass, Porter produces a tiny red rose with a flourishing gesture of his hand. Solemnly, he places it in the flute. "Until next time," he agrees.

He turns and steps between two men about to cross paths. By the time the space reopens, he's gone.

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