Word Prompts (R12): Red

“It’s interesting to see what people think they’e entitled to,” she says, that strange lilt to her voice that has been scratching away at his brain since day one, “It’s not exactly their vulnerabilities, but it makes them just as easy to manipulate.” She smiles, then, a predator baring teeth which is such an obvious comparison that somehow he realizes what the problem is.

“You’re not Irish at all,” he accuses.

Her smile becomes genuinely amused, and when she speaks her accent rounds out, slows down, becomes thick and syrupy sweet like molasses, “I’m not the real Red, either.”

Reeling, he tries to find his bearings, tries to take in more of her to see what he had previously missed. Her hair, her clothes, any clue that he should have spotted much earlier that says ‘this isn’t the criminal mastermind you’re looking for’. But before he can complete a thought, a sharp blow to the back of his head sends him toppling to the ground.

He sees two matching pairs of shoes, two matching faces–but different clothes, different hair.

“Don’t worry,” the woman he thought was Red says, “she’s not Red either.”

The thing is, no one really knows who Red is besides, probably, Red and their small handful of trusted lieutenants. Authorities don’t even know Red’s gender, age, ethnicity. Admittedly, the Irish heritage was a reach–the lone survivor of the 22nd Precinct’s bombing remembering an accent on the other side of that disastrous phone call–but it was deemed significant enough to be even a possibility.

When he comes to, head aching, wrists and ankles tied to a chair, there are five unimpressed people standing in front of him and he is pretty sure none of them are Red. Well, two of them have self-confirmed as not being Red. For all he knows it’s a double-bluff.

“Detective Camilo,” one of them says, the woman he already spoke to, the others remaining silent. Maybe to keep their voices secret, though if they were worried about they also wouldn’t have shown him their faces.

This doesn’t bode well for him getting out alive.

“We understand you have a younger sister, is this true?” the woman asks, and Gavin tries to keep his pokerface, tries not to react to the obvious goading, but his hands clench into fists, the ropes bite into his skin at the way he tries to surge against his bindings.

“Tori is such a smart girl, such a big contributor to the community. I heard she’s studying to be a detective just like her big brother,” the woman continues, and Gavin can’t help himself.

“You stay away from her! Don’t you dare touch her!”

“Relax, Detective,” a different voice rings out, not one of the five in front of him, but someone behind him. Someone with an Irish accent, someone whose voice is ¬†suddenly so familiar that he knows without seeing that this was the person on the other end of that phone.

Red.

“No one’s going to hurt your baby sister,” the voice says, the accent flowing, completely at ease, yet somehow ratcheting up his fear more than talk of Tori did.

“What do you want?” He rasps out, sweat beginning to dampen his hairline.

“Nothing yet, Detective,” Red says, and a pat on Gavin’s shoulder causes him to flinch, “Actually I’ve something for your new precinct; consider it a gift.”

Two of the silent men in front of him step away from the crate they had been leaning on, and using crowbars, pry open the front.

Inside is a body. Alive, thankfully, but bound worse than he is–blindfolded and gagged on top of that. The main suspect for one of his other cases, a double homicide in his new precinct.

“Don’t go asking him questions about me, Detective,” Red says, with one final pat on his shoulder, “he doesn’t know what I look like, either.” At some signal, the five lieutenants move away, all of them vacating the warehouse, leaving Gavin and a probable murderer tied up.

Cross-Post: Red brainstorm

original here. dated 2012-03-20

~

Every other day, after helping Mother out with the tavern, Rose Red hitches a ride on the Woodcutter’s cart to Grandmother’s house in the forest. This is because Rose is Grandmother’s apprentice–Grandmother being the kingdom’s old court magician. Twenty years ago when the then-prince (now King) of the kingdom rescued and married Snow White, her distaste for magic caused Grandmother to be removed from the prestigious position. This stigma against magic permeated throughout the kingdom such that Rose is a pariah in the town, however she knows that magic is her only chance to make something of her life. Most of her duties, however, are simple things like finding ingredients for various potions and charms.

On one such outing, Rose encounters Wolf in trap. Feeling particularly adventurous, she tries to free and heal Wolf; she succeeds (even if it does take multiple attempts). In return, Wolf steals her cloak (a sensible dark green) and runs away. When she returns to town before sundown, Mother scolds her for losing yet another cloak and makes her wear her childhood red cloak; hence the nickname “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Rose sees Wolf more often, he becomes friendlier and even begins to help her with her chores. Wolf undoubtedly becomes her best friend, as sad as that is, such that she begins to go to the forest every day now. As noticed by the friendly Woodcutter (who is in love with Mother, but does honestly care about Rose). She takes care to keep Wolf a secret from him.

Soon, though, a newcomer arrives: Huntsman. Rose, Grandmother, and Woodcutter do not trust him (though that may be only because Mother is charmed). Unsurprisingly, Huntsman is after Wolf. Because he’s staying in the rooms above the tavern, Rose hears his plans before they occur and goes into the forest to protect Wolf. Then the Hunt.

Rose and Wolf are able to evade Huntsman for the day, though he is undoubtedly getting closer. Then sundown. Rose has never been in the forest at night before. She has never seen Wolf at night before. That’s because Wolf is in fact the Prince! Not too long ago Prince was cursed during some important event (perhaps coronation or first battle/hunt). He was meant to be hidden away in the castle, however he was let loose. Snow White, as queen, has offered a reward for those who can find the Prince-Wolf, however Huntsman doesn’t understand that he needs to bring Prince-Wolf alive.

Just before dawn, Huntsman finds the two of them. Before he can harm either of them, however, Woodcutter, who had been tracking them down at the behest of Mother, arrives to stop him. Soon follow Snow White and Grandmother. Prince-Wolf is cured so that he is now just Prince. Woodcutter gets the reward (which he splits with Mother for the upkeep of the tavern). Grandmother is offered the reinstated position of court magician but refuses, saying she always hated the politics. Prince proposes to Rose.

And she says she has to think about it. Because, really, even though he’s known her for a while and fallen in love, she’s only known that he was a human for one night. One night spent in paranoid hiding. So yeah, she’s got to think about it. She stays in town and continues to learn from Grandmother, Prince visits every month and everyone treats Rose better, but she says she needs time to think about it every time. On the day Prince is going to go visit again, Rose arrives at the castle to apply for the position of court magician.

~

The sequel of Red, with a title more imaginative than Red II, would be about Rose adjusting to court life. The other courtiers are prejudice against her, due to her magic, her commoner status, and the fact that Prince obviously favors her over his peers. The sequel would mostly be about Rose proving herself worthy of the position of court magician: she perseveres despite the others’ expectations (and breaks a curse that has been plaguing the kingdom for years?). There are also smaller issues she settles since Rose does represent the reintroduction of magic (including negotiating with the faeries about a recent noble birth and a possible faery godparent?). She not-so-ironically finds allies with the dwarves, The Seven being the queen’s now ignored advisors, the next generation of dwarves being subsequently disrespected.

There are moments of Prince’s and Rose’s relationship progressing–the Prince often seeking her out despite both of their busy schedules. There is conflict, however, because even though his love for Rose is steadily becoming more requited that is inversely related to how everyone else views her and they both know it is unlikely anything will come of it (his marriage will be political not romantic). She does make some friends and even if they are servants their influence in court helps Rose immensely.