Committing a Crime

Committing a Crime

He had always been light on his feet. It was how he got the name; Silkfoot. He often boasted he could prance across a cloud. If he was wrong, no one would ever be able to prove it.

A quick glance across the room confirmed his lumbering partner moving with the same silence, if not the same grace. He held a certain amount of pride that he had taught such a boulder to move with such delicacy. Not that his companion was awkward, but he was certainly suited to other tasks. One glance at his arms was all it took to identify them.

Which was why Silkfoot didn’t worry when the larger man drew a security guard into his sinister embrace. It wasn’t how Silkfoot would have dealt with the situation; but a sharp crack over the back of the head would have created much the same result. It made sense that Kestrel didn’t want to shoot anyone tonight; he’d spent several years working in security before Silkfoot recruited him. Damage control had never before worked to such advantage.

He had promised not to say anything this evening, unless he needed to call an alarm. It was interesting to see just how differently Kestrel treated these little outings. Thus far he hadn’t deviated from the plan. Though he spent much of his waking time making plans, Silkfoot often tossed them out the window when the moment came to follow one. He liked to feel his way through these operations, dance to the music of the moment. It was more exciting, after all, if he didn’t know exactly how everything was going to turn out. What kind of thief couldn’t improvise?

The painting didn’t matter, nor did the money. The test didn’t really matter either, though he would be disappointed if his companion fumbled at every turn. All that mattered was the thrill. The tingle of anticipation in his limbs. The flutter of his stomach. The excited thump of his heart in its cage. That giddy, drunk sensation that accompanied being somewhere he shouldn’t, sticking his fingers – gloved, of course – all over things meant to be denied him.

If he wanted something, he would find a way to have it, no matter how many walls and locks someone tried to stick it behind.

The lock was the first major setback, in fact. His fingers twitched while he checked both corners of the hallway, ears strained for both signs of approaching trouble and the soft click of the lock giving way. He’d have been finished by now. It wasn’t Kestrel’s fault he didn’t possess Silkfoot’s naturally slick fingers, but it would be his fault if he let stubborn tenacity hold them until they were noticed.

A lesser man might have felt a tick of annoyance when his student was unable to master a skill patiently imparted over the course of many months. But Silkfoot had a special sort of relationship with locks. He wanted them to open, and they were always eager to comply. Besides, Kestrel had been on the right track, but it was a more complex mechanism than they often used in their practice. He was going to have to rectify that, even if it meant making some expensive trash.

It was equally difficult to stand in the office waiting while Kestrel felt his way with the vault. What boring jobs he always assigned his companion! However did Kestrel manage when all the exciting tasks were claimed by another? Though he didn’t think he ever kept the man waiting quite this long. He contented himself with relieving the office’s owner of a pretty little statue of some lesser-known snake-headed goddess that he thought would look nice on a shelf in one of his libraries.

Thankfully, Kestrel had the vault open and the painting secure before he settled on any of the office’s other decorations. With as many safe houses as he had, it was difficult to remember just how he’d decorated them all.

He could never decide which he liked more; getting in or getting out. Getting in was delicious. Each step deeper into forbidden territory was a silent victory. But getting out was divine because he carried something new along with him. It was almost like shopping. He saw something he liked, he fetched it and enjoyed the gleaming joy of bringing it home.

Another instructor might have been put off by the blaring of the alarm. They might have declared the exercise a failure and sent their student right back to the start. Silkfoot wasn’t so much bothered by trifles like security alerts and armed patrols. They only added another level of excitement to the whole operation. Now they weren’t just leaving a place they weren’t supposed to be, they were slipping out right under the noses of an alert crew. They might even be chased awhile first, which made it all more fun. It was almost like slapping a sign on their backs and giggling in the car later about how they were bound to wear it the rest of the day without noticing. Except, there were more guns involved in this particular activity.

In a game of cat and mouse, most people preferred to be the hunter. They didn’t realize how much power the prey possessed. It was the mouse who could turn the game on its head. Especially if that mouse were clever and knew how to hide, even with someone looking directly at them. Silkfoot like to lead his pursuers in extra circles, to really confound them by the time things were finished.

Besides, there was no sense harping on perfection when it could always be achieved later. No one would know about the alarm if he failed to mention it, and he surely would.

A few hours later, he admired the painting, in addition to his handy-work. Kestrel looked more like a bouncer than a thief, with his broad shoulders and serious expression. But he polished up nicely. He was half-tempted to keep the painting, perhaps hang it in his companion’s room as a reminder of his first success. But he had other plans for it from the moment he decided to slip into that office. Perhaps the snake-headed lady would do instead.

“I’m impressed,” he said as he rolled the painting back into its tube. “And I don’t mean by the quality of this artwork.” He stuck out his tongue to be certain his companion knew how he felt about modern art. “That went well. Very well indeed.”

We did this prompt a bit differently; to see the same scene from Kestrel’s point of view, check out my writing partner’s version of this prompt.

Author Beth Alvarez of Ithilear has provided her own prompt this week; The memory of the first time they met the first person they loved.

If you’d like to participate, leave a link to your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week. You can see all our previous prompts here.

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