everything almost went to plan. and then it didn't.
the breather had made himself comfortable (well, as comfortable as possible) behind an alleyway dumpster, a knife loosely held in his hand while the other pressed against the back of his hiding spot. it smelled of cigarette butts, rusted metal and blood. good thing he was plenty used to those. he was sure that the bloody scent was probably coming from his clothes, anyways.
adam had sent him and a handful of noir agents looking for someone. clant? clang? whatever the fuck the bastard's name was, the breather had an appearance, and that's all he cared about. adam had said only the bitch would be going through this alleyway at this time of night, so there was no harm in waiting out of view. the breather had doubted that, but what choice did he have?
footsteps knocked the breather out of his thoughts. perfect. just hop out, stab the bitch and run! it was too easy. so, with the skid of his sneakers marking the start of the end, the breather darted straight at what was supposed to be his victim…
...and then, with the knife still held out, pointing at the man's throat, he screeched to a halt. his eyes were still blown wide from the moment's adrenaline rush, which would've made anyone sane scream or jump back or react, at least. but, when the breather managed to catch the stranger's eye, he had done nothing. his arms were folded behind his back, a smile on his face, albeit a glimmer of confusion sparkled in his stare. a doctor's coat hung down to his knees, a too-neat shirt underneath. this wasn't the right guy.
"...well, fuck," the breather spat as his grip on the knife quickly went somewhat limp, excitement rushing away. "you aren't the prick i was lookin' for, 'less that darwinist asshole messed up big time."
in spite of the fact the breather had unintentionally taunted this person with death, the man laughed almost cheerfully. "well, we all make mistakes. you not being able to see me didn't do you any favors, did it?" that smile broke into a grin that bordered on deranged. the breather had a hunch he was going to like this guy.
with the flick of his wrist, the knife was nonchalantly tossed into the breather's other hand. he'd learned quite a few tricks with his knife in the past years. "you could say that, hehehe…" a giggle to match the other person's own. "but now i need to know if i gotta kill you to shut you up or you can run off scot free," he added, though really, the breather didn't mean it entirely. while he wouldn't mind killing the guy, it'd be a shame to lose someone so fascinating so quickly!
"well, i do suppose that's fair practice." the man moved his hands to clasp at his chest, revealing a syringe held in them. the breather knew quite well that they were both here for a similar purpose based on that alone. "though, i can assure you that if i've read you riiiight… you're here to do the same thing i am! meaning i don't think you'll have to silence me, i do hope. that'd just be unfair." he chuckled in that same unhinged manner, and the breather complimented it with his own.
"yeah, i should've guessed, hehe. i mean, who comes out in an alleyway at two in the morning if not to brutally kill someone?!" his laugh grew more uproarious at his own remark as if it was the funniest joke possible. when he finally focused back on the other, both of them were practically beaming, even if the breather's own wasn't visible. he couldn't help but swell with pride. "in that case, though, i guess details can be exchanged. no harm in it- never been a secret-keeping person anyways, y'know? yeah."
"entirely understandable! it'd be impolite to hold such simple information back anyways." the man offered the hand that didn't have the syringe out for a handshake. "tanner. i'm… indebted to adam. or, as you so called him, 'that darwinist asshole', correct?"
the breather laughed softly enough to be muffled by his mask. "that's the fucko. guess we also have that in common. having to do shit for that dickwad's sake, i mean." he took tanner's hand with both of his, despite one of them still holding the knife- it ended up awkwardly sticking up in the air like a spike. neither of them cared. "the breather! i can't tell you my real name, or then i'd actually have to kill you. adam had some shit he needed taking care of, and the asshole couldn't get up and do it himself, so now i'm here! committing murder. a great pastime, really."
tanner nodded in unironic agreement, and the breather couldn't help but find it amusing. this bastard really was fucked up! ...in the best way possible. "i can't help but agree with you! granted, i wouldn't say i'm as direct with my methods, but the fact that you are makes it almost charming!"
"you'd be the first to say that! somehow. dunno how more people can't find my serial killing strategies so awesome." the breather let go of the handshake to throw up a peace sign by his face for a moment before quickly lowering it, snickering. tanner's gaze softened at the show of enthusiasm.
"people are filthy and unappreciative. they walk on this earth and do nothing with their lives, thinking they're accomplishing something. they're awful, really." a beat, then a smirk. "but you're not a person, are you?"
that caught the breather somewhat off guard and, even though tanner couldn't see it, his classic grin vanished from behind his mask. it quickly returned, though, toothy and wide. "well, doc," the breather casually gestured to tanner's lab coat with his knife. "i'd say that's for you to decide, huh? but… it takes one to know one."
tanner's eyes seemed to shine briefly, his hands twitching a few times in what the breather could pitch to be excitement or even delight. "i take quite a bit of pleasure in being inhuman to the public eye. i suppose you feel the same about it?" tanner took a few steps forward and cocked his head to one side, then put a hand on the breather's neck. for a second, he thought it was about to turn into a strangling motion, but then tanner's thumb moved to tilt the breather's chin up. it was almost… affectionate.
but the breather knew (or, maybe it was that he thought that) people like him couldn't be affectionate. so he just laughed once more as though this was just what it was meant to be- a moment's breath shared between a victim and a killer. "humans are sick in the head, and creatures who aren't human are even worse, really. but the perks of being the latter is that you can be as sick as you want and in the end, you're still above them, aren't you?"
tanner shut his eyes, smile growing reminiscent of something. the hand didn't move, and it was just the two of them and the softest noise of crickets for a while. finally, the breather felt the soft pressure on his chin leave as tanner opened his eyes and went back to holding his syringe, arms folding behind him once more.
"your answer is delightful, breather!" he remarked. "...you are unique indeed. i do hope we'll meet again."
the breather chuckled. "with how understaffed that fucker we call a boss is? i'd be shocked if we don't by next week."
and then they both laughed, and for once, the breather felt something other than sheer hate or morbid fascination towards a human being. it was a feeling he couldn't pinpoint, and frankly, he didn't want to pinpoint it. but it was nice.
the breather made the conscious decision (no, it was un conscious and it happened the moment the two met, but he'd never say that) not to hate this person. just this once.