081. Blood. 082. Metal. 083. Love. 084. Hate. 085. Indifference.
086. Sphinx. 087. Phoenix. 088. Magazine. 089. Ball. 090. String.
091. Plane. 092. Milk. 093. Voice. 094. Lick. 095. Need.
096. Sand. 097. Ice cream. 098. Mail/email. 099. Map. 100. Game.
Prompt: 085. Indifference
Wan light highlighted the gold of the man's hair, the cream in his skin, the amber of his whiskey bottle. He sat in the quaint bar just a block from the Istanbul train station. It was a gray day, not the sunny clime that the near East had promised. In fact, nothing had been what it promised, not for a while. Swishing the rich liquid around in a shot glass, the blonde brooded in silence. His cerulean eyes stared into the alcohol with a single-minded intensity. Broken promise of location. Broken promise of sunshine. He wondered why he was even surprised.
Tossing back the drink, he glanced at his pocket watch and then tossed some currency on the table. He nodded at the young man who had been his server and grabbed his valise before heading out into the dreary day. He wandered toward the station aimlessly, not particularly concerned with whether he made the train or not. It hardly seemed to matter. Istanbul or London.--neither city held any charm for him. He would go back to London because that is what was planned, but he cared little for the destination and even less for the journey.
People were naught but shadows drifting around him and he wandered past them in apathy. He drifted onto the train in silence, brushing past the groups which huddled together in jewels and furs or scuffed shoes and faded finery for the journey home. Home. What a joke.
His trunk had been sent on ahead, so he didn't have to deal with porters. A smartly uniformed conductor showed him directly to his sleeping car. He cracked the window as far as it would allow and then pulled out a cigarette case. Soon he was smoking quietly, vaguely watching the groups shrink, swell, and then shrink again as people slowly boarded the train.
Carefully flicking his cigarette butt out the cracked window, he noticed a tall, slender man with dark curls moving gracefully through the throng of loudly complaining women who seemed to be gathered nearest his car. A few of the younger women turned to watch as the handsome brunette glided past, but he seemed indifferent to them. He was carrying a traveling case and studying his ticket and schedule as if worried about something. Clear blue eyes followed the young man's back until it was lost in the crowd and then the blond closed his window with a sigh. It had been a longtime since he'd taken notice of anyone and he wasn't sure if he should be pleased or distressed that his fancy had been caught, if only for a few moments.
A knock at the compartment door brought him out of the reverie he had already sunk into. "Enter!"
The conductor slid open the door and ushered in a porter with the blonde's trunk. "Inspector Mortensen, we are pleased to have you on board for your return journey. I am only sorry that your stay in Istanbul met with such…unpleasantness. Inspector Townsend was a fine gentleman…" the conductor said after the porter had withdrawn.
"Thank you," was all Viggo could think to reply as he internally shrunk away from the obviously well-intentioned niceties. "But, since I am on indefinite leave from the Yard, the title is unnecessary."
"Of course. I'll inform the staff. And, again, I am sorry…"
This time Viggo smiled a half-smile and nodded. "Thank you. I appreciate your concern. I'm sorry if I'm being difficult."
"Not at all, Detect…. Mr. Mortensen. Do you have a preference for your dinner sitting?"
"Whichever will be the least crowded."
"That will be the last sitting. I can have a light snack sent to your compartment if that proves too long to wait."
"That won't be necessary. I don't have much of an appetite of late…" Another half-smile flitted across his face, but the conductor noticed that it did not reach his eyes.
"Of course. I'll leave you then. You know how to contact the staff if there is anything you require." With that the conductor nodded his way out of the small compartment and slid the door closed behind him.
Viggo dropped tiredly onto the low couch by the window and pulled a silver flask from inside his jacket, taking a long drink before lighting another cigarette. He had hours until dinner, but had no interest in exploring the train. He had done all of that before, but this time it would be different and he had no desire to put himself in yet another situation where he just had to go through the motions, over and over again.
Prompt: 082. Metal
Several hours, a couple dozen cigarettes, one empty flask, and a slight headache later, Viggo emerged from his compartment. It was still too early to be seated for dinner but he found that he needed to clear his head. He had never been good at being cooped up.
City streets, no matter how much freedom he had to roam, quickly closed in on him; the metal confines of a train were that much more restrictive—particularly without the relief that his old hobbies used to provide him. The journey to Istanbul so many months before had been rendered palatable by company and inspiration—hours spent reading and drawing in the small compartment had seemed fleeting as he savored the freedom from the mundane that the journey provided. Now, heading back along the same rails, there was no freedom. And the mundane was terrifying in its new guise.
Determined to at least have his flask refilled Viggo resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to draw back into his compartment. He headed resolutely down the corridor toward the train's first class club car. Filled with travelers who had already dined, the car was buzzing with soft voices pierced occasionally by high-pitched twitters and booming guffaws. Cigar smoke and expensive perfume made the atmosphere cloying—it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to clear his head while there. But there was something dark and almost destructive about the car and its inhabitants that appealed to his mood. He took a seat at the bar and was soon supplied with a double, on the rocks. Sipping slowly he surveyed the room and remembered drawing rooms back in Denmark, supper clubs in London, and cabarets in Paris. The rich and therefore beautiful people gathered to continue their best impression of meaningful and enlightened living. Meanwhile they simply indulged their way closer and closer toward decline. He drained his glass and shrugged to himself—maybe it was finally time to join their ranks.
As he picked up his re-filled glass and handed his empty flask to the bartender to be filled, Viggo glimpsed the door at the far end of the car opening. The movement caught his eye and he turned toward it, stunned to see the young brunette from the station platform stroll casually into the car. The young man moved with the easy, confident gate that Viggo saw in most rich, handsome, socially influential young men—except for one thing: this young man also had a natural grace, an almost feline fluidity that made his movements seem almost sensual. He also had a slight reservation in his eyes, as if he were watching his surroundings a little too carefully for an otherwise casual entrance. It was a look that Viggo recognized because he got it himself—when he was working a case and attempting to make sense of a scene or sizing up a potential witness. While he doubted that the young brunette was a detective, Viggo was sure that he wasn't merely what he seemed; there was more to the handsome face and smartly cut clothes than most would expect.
The bartender handed him his flask, drawing his attention away from the car's newest inhabitant. As Viggo turned to say thanks and pocket his flask, the brunette took a seat at a table with a few other people. Introductions were made as they made room for him; if Viggo had entertained any thoughts of meeting the young beauty, they were fleeting—there was no way the former detective was going to try to ingratiate himself into a whole group of people. He felt his mood sour even more and returned his focus to his drink.
"So, Orlando is it? What brought you to Istanbul?" A man's voice boomed over the low buzz of the car.
"A holiday. I wanted to experience something out of the ordinary…" a silken, smooth voice replied. The voice matched it's owner, Viggo thought—almost sensual.
"And did you?" A woman—blond, petite and rather pretty--asked, a low hint of a purr turning the question into innuendo.
The other woman at the table giggled softly. "Miranda, don't tease—you've only just met Mr. Bloom and you already have him blushing…"
"Nonsense, Livvie…Mr. Bloom is a world traveler. I'm sure he's hardly the blushing kind," Miranda replied. "So, did you experience the out of the ordinary Mr. Bloom?" the purr returned.
Viggo strained to hear the answer, at once put-off and intrigued by the simpering banter.
"Not nearly as much of it as one might expect. It seems that some things are the same no matter where one goes. Which is a pity, unless of course--" the young beauty replied. Peals of laughter as a boisterous group fresh from dinner entered the car drowned out the rest of his comment and from then on the conversation between Orlando and his companions was lost in a sea of noise.
Viggo finished his drink and checked his watch. It was about time to go see about being seated for dinner. To his surprise, he found that he was actually looking forward to the meal—feeling truly hungry for the first time in recent memory. He thanked the bartender again and signed for his tab. As he moved through the car, past the table where Orlando was still sitting—now leaning close to let Miranda whisper something in his ear—Viggo couldn't help but let his gaze linger on the handsome young man. He looked away when brown eyes flicked upwards as if tracing his line of sight backwards to its source.
The last thing he heard as he left the car was the woman named Livvie saying, "There went a handsome chap…" and Orlando's soft voice blending into laughter as his muffled reply was lost in the sound of steel wheels turning over and over in a gentle rhythm as the train barreled on into the night.