Bitch Fight
After two days, it becomes obvious that Officer Maslow has no inclination of working with Officer Neely again. So it's back to the daily grind.

Grange Park, Toronto, ON, Canada


"She's too fucking pretty."

"What'dya think you're doing in all those layers, Neely?"

Said to Annabelle, in the center of the station, as her hand clenched reflexively around the official blue of the newly repaired spare uniform: this was it; she was a cop. And then, just like that, with a jabbing of another constable's thumb towards the locker and an assignment to their car — she wasn't. When she strides by to recover her corner costume and change, Maslow's desk sits empty — he's out. He's working a patrol, or… anything. A wash of frustrated disappointment threatens to crack Annabelle's determined facade as she marches past colleagues either snickering or too cowed to speak up. She had a change, and she had to mess up and slam the door in her own face, just like that. Not even a howdy-do. In front of her training officer, no less.

As she rolled out the fishnet stockings, dragging the uncomfortable, clutching and clingy, wear up a long leg, she deeply considers quitting for the first time in a while. There can't be worse than screwing up a run with your FTO, can there? There was— blood… her gun's sights on a woman— the concept, that trigger… the familiar nausea. Briskly, stockings half-flagging, she runs the back of her thumb across an eyebrow, steadying her other hand against the cool physical feel of the lockers. Knuckles twist in and thump against its frame. It wasn't two months ago that someone had taped a gigantic print-out of Blaine's mugshot and posted it there.

Girl copgene rottime bomb… She half couldn't blame them: they weren't nasty people, inherently, her co-workers, just— just frustrated. Committed. To stopping killers and her father was a killer. They just wanted her to quit, so…

Grunting out and then inhaling strongly through her nose, Annabelle grabs the top of the stockings and hefts, with a little jump against the lockers. "Let us— urgh— live happily." Guiding the waistline into place, she wriggles— you'd think she'd be better at this by now— and then grabs for the spot of cloth that passes for a skirt on the streets. "Without hate amongst those who hate." It's hauled up and, spinning, she checks herself in the mirror. A second to twist a finger around a front curl to keep it hanging nicely across her forehead. "Let us dwell unhating amidst hateful men."

She smiles.

Ready for duty.

* * *

"Guess Officer Maslow didn't see much to you after you put on that dreadfully shapeless uniform, Neely."

He barely even tries to make it sound like sympathy. It's a typical car ride, as she rides her knees up in the back, miserably aware of the equal riding of her skirt; the way the driver frequently checks the rear-view mirror.

"Hey, it's cool," mentions the passenger officer, twisting to look back at her with a sickeningly sweet smile, "It just means we get to work together more." Annabelle flashes him a thin-lipped smile in return then looks back out the window.

The car rounds the next street leading up to Grange, as the lights seem to coincide with increasing dimness towards the park— lighting the way, in reverse: slow here, for illicit activity. But the closer they drift, lights off and engine humming subtly, the more it's clear that none of that dimness paints a picture of waiting figures. Not an arm strung along the gate. Annabelle's eyes narrow calculatingly in a look far contrary to the overdone artistry of her make-up, forehead pressing complexion smoother into the window as she strains to look. "Did something spook the girls?" Maybe they saw the lights from the car, or… no, something writhes in her stomach in concern for them.

A grumble from up front as one officer shifts in his seat, "I— I don't know, Neely," unveiled impatience, "Isn't that what you're here to find out?"

"Something's not— "

Smack. The passenger's turned to her again, his smile puckered by overdone hesitance. "Yyyyeeah… look. Neely." Faux sympathy, as he lays a hand across her knee; Annabelle's other hand curls into the seat. "We like you. We do. And it'd just… it'd be really upsetting, if we had to file a poor report on your work ethic— after the thing with Maslow and all— " he lifts his hand, waving it indistinctly, "You get it?"

Annabelle swallows. Now they're both pinning expectant eyes on her, resisting identical urges to grin, she's certain. A pit hardens in her previously churning stomach. Fine. She can do it. She can anything they want to throw at her.

May we discover through pain and torment, the strength to live with grace and humor.

Click. She opens the car door, startling the eyebrows up on passenger-cop. With a cheerful, dutiful, nod, she overturns the driver's half-hidden pleasure and he mumbles, "We'll just do a loop around the block, okay? Be right back, and if there's nothing going on, we'll go." Annabelle thumps her hand twice on the car door after it closes, not looking back as the patrol turns into a driveway in order to coast back out the way it came.

The tick-tock of Annabelle's heels rings out like drumbeats in the still of the street. Voices trickle in from corners a few blocks down, or doors opening and closing at the school, but the park's nigh abandoned in the way that first sent sparks of apprehension up Annabelle's back. Now, as she reaches the sidewalk, her head turns to see where no more tail-lights detail the road. In the utter dark of abandonment, the dutiful face cracks behind a painted concealment. Never, ever, let them see… that distant ache, before it's packed away with a brush of her hand, up and into her hair— back down. She's reached the prowling spot and turns, heel next to heel, in a small circle.

Selfishly, she wonders if this means they won't be able to put her with this group anymore— there'll be something else; even a desk job— but then she steels herself with a tensing throat that lifts her chin and remembers that the girls she's gotten to know. She hasn't too much time before they circle the block; she takes a quick step towards the gate to glance into the park where those innocuous seeming bushes have hidden some undesirable acts— of desire.

Inhale… and then it's let out in a whooof of steeling. Okay. Okay. A couple of steps into the park. Gosh, it's empty…

after the thing with Maslow and all

Heels squishing against grass, Annabelle plods a couple of feet towards the designated bush— where she's watched girls she's gotten close to disappear to sell all they have left. A pang of feeling enlivens her gut: if they're in trouble—

A smattering of what sounds like voices turns her head. Talking. The brushing of foliage. Maybe— maybe they'd just moved corners, if one had become too hot. She hasn't been here a few days, she couldn't missed anything, on the streets.

It's definitely a woman's figure that emerges from a darker bundle of shadows near the trees, but the silhouette, not just in the dark, escapes Annabelle's usually whip-fast memory for appearances. A bustier, a mini-skirt; she's flashing a twist on old-timey fashion, including hair done-up in a near hive. "Well, well, well, sisters…" At which point Annabelle realizes that she's been surrounded, by three or four other working girls she doesn't recognize. "We seem to have missed one."

A disdainful sniff from behind Annabelle has her glancing over her shoulder to mark what she can. "This… there's been a misunderstanding— "

"Unh," scoffing, from the brunette in the bustier, "I don't think so." An arm flies out, nails clawing for Annabelle's upper arm, and the in-disguise officer brusquely breaks the hold.

"I'm a police officer— " A steadying hand tries to instruct: yield. But the sneering offense from the woman in front at being pushed aside sends her lackeys in back forward.

"Yeah, that's what half your other sluts said." Annabelle's head whips back as her curled hair's grabbed harshly; they're on her like a pack of animals, and not an organized take-out squad. A heel bites into the back of her right thigh as a third pair of arms loops her shoulder, threatening an arm-socket to haul her towards the unseemly arrangement of bushes. Dirt whips up in jagged rows as Annabelle tries to dig her heels in, and she's overpowered each time, until, with a blow to the knees from ahead, she's thrown behind the foliage, dropping to her unprotected hands on the mossy stink and crackle of twigs, leaves, and discarded trash.

Another voice coos, "Is this where you do it?" before the owner latches onto Annabelle's arm, forcing her off her knees and onto her back with a crash. The girl — bright pink cheeks like lollipops, it's surreal to notice — steps over Annabelle's left leg, pulling it out with her weight as she straddles it with both of hers.

Training thunders between Annabelle's ears in a fog of noise and disorientation. Get the upper hand. Create space between you and your attackers. Her stomach flips over readily, unlike the leather-jacketed woman she tries to shake off.

She was so concerned about the other girls… now it's too late to think of herself.

Animals, defending territories, stealing new ones: this is survival. No one usually pictures high-heels, makeup, and thin-strapped easy-access clothing when they think of the circle of life.

Emerging from the side of the pack, a stringy-haired blonde woman — straw streaked with purple dye — kicks Annabelle's left shoulder. Stay down, stay there, where do you think you're going? She's twitchy, shaky, even as she does; driven to an edge she'd never have to expected to be on. No doubt, if this weren't her job, she wouldn't think of attacking this woman struggling on the ground. But if it weren't for her life, this wouldn't be her job. She drops to a crouch, flanking her leather-jacketed sister, grabbing a handful of Annabelle's dark hair and pushing her face into the soiled ground and the jagged edge of a tree-root, adding to the force of the women that loom all over the undercover cop, mingling perfumes. Pink-streak is all cheap perfume, expensive clothes, dollar store jewelry, drug-rotting teeth. "What should we do with this one?" She spares a hand to a back pocket. A flare of self-protecting jealousy strikes the unfamiliar voice. "She's too fucking pretty."

Brunette's all cigarettes as she crouches down with a withered perfume hint, like she tried to cover it up — two days ago. "Hear that?" Her own teeth flash, like the obscene view she shoots the night crouching in that skirt, a source of pride: white. It's where all her money's gone, to keep up the tools of the trade. "You should get that checked." Snapping her fingers above, she signals the leather-jacket to unfold her arms, having escaped Annabelle's attempts with her blonde peer's assistance. From one fake-nailed grasp to another, the failing park light details a pair of heavy metal scissors. A snap, now in her voice: "Hold her."

With a sputter of cheerfulness like a glaze that likely substance assisted, the lollipop-cheeks careen down, reaching up to the cop's knee to weigh down but becoming quickly bored and letting an exploring few fingers sneak higher. When the pinch to the thigh causes Annabelle's knees to jerk reflexively in, the standing prostitute snorts. "You're doing it wrong, sister."

And so the other helps: lollipop-cheeks to candy-coloured hair. She elbows her friend and stops pushing Annabelle's face into that dirt — only to hop around, straddle her other thigh with a heavy ram of her rear and squeeze of humid, stick-thin thighs, and grasps under her chin, four fingers digging into the side of her neck. The prostitute's breath is uneven and reedy, hands accustomed to enticing pleasure from nerves now squeezing and inspiring them to fire in pain, four piercing points, one rough, jerky grip. She tries to keep the woman's head straight and meeting them now — watch and remember and never come back! — even though her over-plucked brows shoot down darkly to look the pretty cop in the face.

Annabelle's "nngh," strains out against strangling pressure, chin wrestling back and forth— caught each time by Candy's squeezing. In the struggle, the thin film of her one-shouldered shirt's been dragged up, through the muck, her bare stomach hugged with the sticky, uncomfortable, warmth of overly near bodies and the blast of cold, uncaring night. Just around the block… they're just going around the block…

She catches the flash of scissors as they're handled practically between the brunette's hands while she sidles up onto her knees, eying her 'project' with a prompt, business-like eye for efficiency. "N— no— " Annabelle kicks up a leg, causing lollipop-cheeks to grunt as she catches a highly toned muscle in the calf. "No— please— "

"Awww…" purrs the woman at top, co-opting her friend's grip to steer Annabelle's jaw towards her with pinching nails. For a second, it sounds identical to the faux-sympathy of cops: her brothers, just as these 'sisters'. "No…" a little playful grimace tugs the woman's darkly painted lips, "Don't mean no with us, darling." And she juts the scissors briskly forward, hauling a handful of Annabelle's hair into her fist and searing the pack straight off. Gorgeous silky strands rain down on the earth; a straight ugly line breaking the careful hairstyle right down one side. Annabelle's stomach lurches in unspoken misery at the second— third— the metal tears chunks left and right, taken in clumps or just cut blindly at, so that the point of the scissors slices once into the scalp.

A giddy "ha!" springs out of Candy's throat. It's no laugh — it's the bubbling realization of how fast Annabelle's appearance changed. How easy it looked, watching her sister run the scissors slipshod over that dark silky hair.

Everyone has their source of pride.

Still, it's the trail of blood that the tightly straddling one winds up narrowing in on, squinting at Annabelle's face. It's the trail of blood that makes her pretty image even more ruined. The ugly cherry on top. And still— after a restless bounce, purple-hair grips the unlucky woman's cheek, her nails threatening the smooth skin with more than the red call of blood under the surface they illicit now, the complaint, "She's still gonna be pretty."

She's ceased struggling. Wreathed in a halo of her own ruined hair, A ragdoll against the ground, clutched by shock as much as the preservation that is not squirming with an industrial sized scissors that close to her face; Annabelle winces faintly at nails against her skin.

As if growing bored with the proceedings — which could be true, considering the chemicals pumping through her system — the straddler on the other side starts to pick at Annabelle's fishnets, irreverent to if she's merely picking up fabric or taking skin with. Pick, pick, pick. Up and down a leg that shudders. "I used to be pretty once," she puckers her lips childishly, emphasizing wrinkles owning her face, slathered over by those rosy cheeks pretending she's from years ago. "Can I have hers?" Arching her bone-protruding back, she leans over to slide teeth over the leg right above the knee, fishnet catching. But Annabelle's jerk catches her, hard, along a side of her mouth and she jerks up, "ung!", slapping the thigh so hard it turns instantly pink. "Fucker!"

From her place above, perhaps as scout, the leather-jacketed young woman — truly younger than the others, despite the leathery bravado — flexes her shoulder with a scoff and click of her tongue. Her beauty never existed; she's average in every sense, and no make-up will ever change that, though she tries. "We all know what happens to the pretty ones," she reassures, taking another look-out around the bushes. No lights. No sounds. No one from the school cares that Annabelle had been shouting.

No one comes from around the block.

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