2010-09-07: Taken




September 7, 2010




"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

— Bryan, Taken

There are few places as magical as Paris at sunset. Called the "City of Light" for a reason, the setting sun casts a golden glow on the buildings and streets, and of course the waterways that make for romantic boat rides past the Eiffel Tower at dusk.

Romance is the furthest thing from Alexis Martin's mind — or it should be, weighed down as her arms are by a stack of paperwork as she makes her way from the steps of the Metro station out onto the street above, dappled with fading sunlight. It's hard not to have a little romance on the mind in Paris, since beautiful Parisians in love seem to be everywhere, but Alexis is not here for such matters. She is here to study and work, having scored a prestige internship at the American Embassy.

The blond cheerleader heaves a sigh as she makes the walk from the Metro station toward her tiny apartment on Rue Mouffetard above a butcher's shop. The most romantic city in the world — and she's going home to work on paperwork all night long. C'est la vie.

Not far behind Alexis, a curly blonde haired woman, dressed in a black trench coat and matching beret argues loudly with a man in clumsy, broken French found within an English-French dictionary. «I don't want the duck to go out at midnight!» she states in perfect French, although it's not remotely what she's trying to say. Behind her thick framed glasses she squints at him as he yells again.

«There won't be ducks there! Just you, me, the moon, wine — the stars… love…» the dark haired Parisian returns, determined to get his way in this regard. He reaches forward to grasp her wrist. She instinctively pulls away, still wholly confused as to what is actually transpiring.

Duck? What? Alexis frowns at the strange discussion taking place behind her over her shoulder, then sees the woman evading that grasp from the Frenchman. "«Pardon me, is there a problem?»" Alexis asks in French, her own accent good if a little bit "studied," a little too bookish and prim for her to be mistaken for a native, though the natives might assume she's from a French speaking neighboring country rather than a bumbling American.

She has the inability to just walk away — if the man is pushing the curly-haired woman, Lexie isn't about to let him manipulate her, especially if the woman doesn't understand what the man is asking of her. She swaps to English. "Do you speak English? I can translate, if it's a language barrier problem," she offers in her American accent.

"«No problem!>" the man stipulates emphatically. He's all too happy getting together with the blonde without a duck, all he needs is her company, wine, the moon…. you get the picture.

The blonde, however, completely relaxes at the American accent. "Oh thank goodness!" the woman's voice comes out in a slight Southern drawl, not clipped, or precise in the words, instead relaxed, overanunciated and warm with an odd hospitality. "I do speak English! Bless yer heart!" the blonde raises a hand over her chest the ache inside her subsiding for some level of familiarity. "I 'ave no ideeah what he wants from me! I'm tryin' hard to make heads or tails what he's askin' me, but I can't understand…"

"I think he's asking you out," Alexis says with a laugh — her own accent is much less placeable — American without being specific to any particular region, though someone with Henry Higgins' ability would be able to place her in Northern California. The college student comes a little closer, arms still around DayPlanner and accordion folder of paperwork.

"I can translate," she says, then repeats it in French for the Parisian, before asking him, "«She does not speak French. What would you like to tell her?»"

"Oooooh. Oh. Oooooooh," that makes things a little more clear to the blonde, her own eyes widening at the revelation. "That… that makes more sense! I couldn't figure out exactly what he wanted! You are a God-send!" She glances at the man and then back to Alexis. "Thank you so much."

The Parisian is completely into this idea of a translator, quite obsessively so, addressing her with a new found enthusiasm. His French drips with a sugary sweet tone, only adding to the sickly sweet nature of his words, "«Tell her that her eyes sparkle like stars along the midnight sky! Her body is like that of a goddess chiseled out of marble! Her lips are fuller than the ripest strawberries ready to be tasted even if the fruit is entirely forbidden! And then I would love more than anything to stare into those starlet orbs all hours into the night!»"

Alexis' hazel eyes widen as the man strings simile after simile of cheesy come-on lines, and she just snorts a little. Americans only think French men are that romantic. She turns to stare at the southern woman and shakes her head. "He thinks you're hot and wants to stare into your orbs," she says drolly, turning so that he can't see her arched brow and the clear expression on her face that reads, Can you believe this guy?

"What d'you want me to tell Mr. Cheese back?" she asks, jerking her head toward the Frenchman.

The blonde complies with the glance an obvious I know! quality to her expression. Her eyebrows furrow in mild disgust as she clears the back of her throat indignantly, unsure of what to say back. "Ewww. He's so… ew," her nose wrinkles involuntarily against her better judgment, it's telling without translation, in fact, there's no translation needed.

The man throws a little hissy fit in the middle of the street quite certain that ALexis has clearly mistranslated his wonderful romantic rhetoric into something discernibly droll. In his rage, he knocks the papers in her hand away, essentially thrusting them down the street with all of the force he can muster. "«Americans wouldn't understand romance if it bit tem in the nose!»" he storms off leaving the curly haired blonde dumbfounded while she stands next to Alex in shock.

"«Yes, well, it's you French who think calling people their little cabbage is romantic!»" Alexis calls back down the street, brows knit together in anger before she realizes all her paperwork is now all over the place. "Ah, shit, that's… that's important!" she says, running to collect it the paperwork, papers spilling from the accordion file and beginning to blow away. The image is perhaps amusing — she's dressed in Paris chic, a black flared skirt, black tights, black ballet flats and a soft gray snug-fitting sweater, a scarf of pink at her neck. Every few steps she crouches to grab a piece of paper and shove it in the file.

"Oh no! I'm so sorry! Let me help sugah — I know you wouldn't be in this mess without me!" the blonde begins traipsing after the papers as well, bending down with each that lines the Parisian street. A number blow down an alley to the right and the blonde woman disappears after them into the relatively unlit street.

Collecting what she can, Alexis frowns to see the woman disappearing down another street, and hurries that way — some of that paperwork really shouldn't be seen outside of the Embassy, but it's due tomorrow, and she has to finish processing it. It's one of those "don't ask, don't tell" things — no one's suppose to bring their work home with them, but everyone does, and if one is going to make their deadlines, one has to.

The pieces of paper she's collected so far are rumpled, damp, and dirty — really, she's going to have to start all over again, Lexie realizes, as she runs after her fellow American.

When Alexis turns down the street, the blonde is waiting there, needle in hand. It's a paralyzer, designed merely to turn the younger woman into dead weight, making an easy getaway. Unfortunately, the needle is also dropped thanks to Alexis' too quick behind her tread. Having little time to do anything but react, she reaches for the younger woman's shoulder to pull her into a hold to retrieve that needle once again.

"Hey!" Alexis cries out when suddenly she's being grabbed, and she lifts her foot to bring it down again, intending to stomp hard on the other woman's foot with her kitten heel; then she tries to duck and spin out of the hold. An athletic girl, while she is strong and fit, Lexie only knows aerobic-based kickboxing, nothing truly intended to actually hurt another person, but instead designed to burn calories and tone her thighs and butt, all set to '80s techno music, courtesy of her instructor Jareth. "What the hell, lady!"

The stomp - spin move is effective enough, but thanks to her own training, Victory can scarcely feel the pain, acrobatically returning to her feet through a a bounced shift of her weight. Unlike Alexis, she has hand-to-hand combat training not only in theory, but burned into her muscle memory. Easily, her body recoils against the other woman's actions, a single leg rising to kick Alexis to the ground, that's all she really wanted in the first place. The mask of innocence casts away for sheer determination through the woman's tightened jaw, hardened features, and tense muscles. In short? The spy means business, this time she won't miss her mark.

"I don't know who you think I am but I didn't do it! I'm just an intern — you have the wrong person!" Alexis cries out as she stares up at Victory, tears flooding her eyes and streaming down from both pain and fear. A second later, it dawns on her that rationalizing with a woman who just kicked her to the ground for no reason is not the best plan, and Lexie cries out, "Help! Help!" as she tries to scramble to her feet again.

Victory dives for the needle, the cries of help to be silenced before they receive attention from the general populace. If the capture is to be successful such things are necessary. Within moments she's hovering over the younger woman, jabbing her with the needle and pushing the clear fluid into the woman's veins, enough to knock her out long enough to get her out of the street and smuggle her back to Hungary.

"Stop! Why are you — you have the wrong person, I'm just an inter— " and with that, Alexis is so much dead weight, slumping into Victory's arms, her hands falling limp and dropping the accordion file stuffed messily with all the lost paperwork and the thick leather Dayplanner onto the sidewalk below. The street is no longer kissed by sun, but instead filled by an ever-darkening gray light as the sun sinks below the horizon.