The Ruiner: That American Life Pt. 3 "Takes One To No-one"

Harris expected a gun. He always expected a gun, because in the past, every time he's seen someone reach into a coat pocket while making a smug face, they pulled out a gun. Every time. If people want to show you something that's not a gun, they made a different kind of face while reaching into their coat pockets.

If they were, for example, reaching in there for a picture of their kids, or wife, they usually smiled while doing so. If they were going for a badge or some other sort of ID, the face they made depended on the rank of the individual. The higher the rank, the more insulted the face they made, but it rarely crossed over into smugness. Indigency definitely, but not smugness. Only someone who assumes pointing a gun at someone else made them temporarily into a god makes a smug face while going about it.

Harris slowly looked over the intruder that had just entered his room. There was no reason he should have been able to get in without Harris noticing something. At the very least he should have sensed the man's vital energy. He should have 'felt' an extra presence. Living things carry some sort of scientifically confusing vitality that can't b measured but can be felt and recognized by those who are sensitive and familiar. If Harris was anything, he was sensitive and familiar, in addition to being a pain in the ass. He was feeling something he hadn't felt in quite some time- confusion.

As he was attempting to acquiesce who this man was and how he had the ability to be invisible to his enhanced perceptive abilities Ken Toring broke the silence and pointed a gun at Harris, "Must be pretty confused huh?" He then dismantled the gun with one hand and dropped the pieces on the floor.

"Neat, ain't it?" he said, half expecting a trophy, half waiting for Harris to say something so he could continue making himself feel cool.

The Ruiner tightened his eyes into narrow slits. Not this. Not now. Not a speech. He didn't care about the gun, it held no danger or menace for him, even before it was dismantled. He was glad that he didn't have to disassemble it himself, for once. He didn't really care about how this guy was sneaking past his enhanced senses anymore, he didn't have the time nor the inclination to sit through a speech right now. It didn't seem like a helpful addition to this evening's proceedings, but there wasn't much he could do about it at the moment.

Normally Harris would just have disarmed the intruder and then  either kill or render him unconscious, depending on if the day was even or odd numbered. This wasn't normal, not even to someone who deals with the non-normal so much that it too, has become normal and couldn't be effectively handled as though it were.

He had a baby, maybe a mutant baby, sleeping in the bath tub for one. Another thing was that the person standing before him appeared to know, at least some of, of the Nameless Art that made Harris so deadly. This never happened before, he wasn't used to being on equal terms with those he met in the field. His training had seen to it that he was always vastly superior to those he came in contact with. He was also familiar to feeling completely incompetent, worthless, and inferior in the presence of his teacher, the only person he knew of that was capable of killing him in a one on one fight. He was completely taken aback by the notion that he might be facing a well- trained, equally dangerous opponent. It never occurred to him before. The one thing he didn't have was peers. Everyone was either above or beneath him, never on his level.

He was hoping to get through this evening's interruption without waking the baby up, but every tick of the clock made that a more and more unlikely ending to this scenario. The man before Harris was gleefully basking in the pregnant pause that preceded whatever speech he was about to make him sit through. Harris stayed in bed, growing more and more irritated. His only move, as he saw it right now, was to sit still and see what he could learn. The only thing he needed more than a speech right now was to test his skills against a potential equal. It wouldn't be good for the kid. It would bring too much attention. He just hoped that if it came down to it, this guy wasn't better than him.

"Nice to finally meet you. Mu speaks very highly of you."

"How do you know about Mu?"

"Alec Riely, MI6. Code name 0007," answered the man who was Ken Toring a few minutes ago.

"The Limies got a Ruiner now too?"

"Almost. I've only been at it three years, not much field experience yet," Riely replied, now with a British accent, "counting you and Mu, there's only 4 people who know about me."

"Triple Oh Seven is a horrible code name."

"I wasn't allowed to pick, you're not one to talk. What the hell's a Ruiner?"

"They never let you pick your own code name."

Riely sat down at the table by the window. Harris joined him, still puzzled.

"Cat Got your tongue mate?"

"No, I'm just don't know what to say. There's the obvious questions, like why the hell are you doing this? And the not so obvious like, what the hell are you doing? And then there's the fact that I should be sleeping, but I'm not because you want to pretend you're in a movie."

Riely made a sour face.

"Three years of this shit isn't enough to make you sick of it. You're still way too excited about yourself and your new reality. Bet your own government hasn't even tried to kill you yet, have they? Don't answer, I'm not done yet."

"Mu said you'd be like this," Riely stated instead of answering.

"What else did he say? Tell me quick, I'm losing my temper."

Before Riely could continue his explanation, a thumping sound followed by a cooing noise was heard coming from the bathroom. Both men froze, but for different reasons.

"What was that?"

"It's exactly what I was trying to tell you about. It's how this gig really goes."

The baby walked out of the bathroom, it looked more like a toddler now though. His diaper was much too small and had become undone on one side. It's ability to adsorb wetness had been obviously compromised, but it was still doing an alright job of maintaining whatever sense of dignity a small child was capable of having. It made it's way toward the table in an awkward waddle-walk combination.

"Want to be a daddy?" Harris asked.

Riley's face was as white and hollow as moon light. A look of panic settled into his eyes and began to make camp right in his pupils.

"That's, that's not...the Parlence infant is it?" Riely was standing now, visibly shaking.

"Yeah, I kidnapped him for work. Killed his parents while he slept, then I drugged him, and now we're here, together. They mention orphan making at orientation?"

Riley shook his head no and backed up to the door. He half turned around to open it, but kept his eye on the kid. He slipped through it without shutting it and ran towards the parking lot. Harris shut the door and then watched Riely fumble with his car keys and speed off from his room's window.

"Welp," he said to the Parlence orphan, "I don't suppose you're going to want to go back to sleep now, are you?"


"Something told me you'd say that."