She was offering to help.
Fort, for the second time, widened his eyes almost imperceptibly. She was keeping him off his guard certainly. That was doubtless her strategy. She'd pull something or other before too long. Some trick, some secret test of merit that she could report back to her masters and show that, beyond the shadow of any doubt, Fortinbras Carlyle was not the man they were looking for. He rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth and shook his head with the disdain of a man disagreeing with himself.
The Vanguard stepped in with a muttered curse and the headwaters of a fresh trail of blood. Her wrist was bloodied, clenched in her free hand, but spots escaped her grasp and pattered to the floor.
"The streets of Ebonhawke. Safest in Ascalon. Which is the only sort of compliment the old girl can expect."
He turned with a hooked thumb. "And that's also why Ebonhawke. Because this place is already a hive of insurrection and bloodshed. No one will miss my dear business associate." His eyes narrowed to the sort of fissures that foretell woe for unwary mountaineers. "Now tell me true, Saint. Do not lie to me. I'll know. And this is too sensitive a matter for us to begin on anything but the best foot."
He indicated the heavy pistol that rides on his left hip. His voice came in a mournful baritone. "It's the real thing. Safety's off." The hand raised to the level of her breastbone and fixed her with an accusatory digit. "Are you there? Are you there for me? By my side? An angel dodging bullets wide?"
He nodded to himself, weighing his words. He analyzes the angles like a man who's life has often depended on careful planning just as well as headlong execution, hell with the consequences. "It feels right. On the streets, where you talk. You talk without a sound. And when you walk, your feet hardly touch the ground."
She might not have been his first choice, being that rash and bloody deeds are no way to make a first impression. Outside of a precious few relationships better based on fear than mutual regard, that is. But she'd gotten the drop on him when he'd first arrived. That took no little bit of talent. He was naturally astute. Men in his line of work often were. Astute, or dead. "But you're there by my side. But you're there for me."
The backup would be well and truly handy. Crispin wasn't the sort to run around after leaving Fort to twist without surrounding himself with hired muscle. And armed with what he'd stolen from the rogue, he'd be able to afford thugs by the acre. "When all this is over, heaven knows I'm going nowhere. I was only dreaming, searching for a deeper meaning." It was a bargain, plain and simple. She'd help him resolve this bit of personal skullduggery and he'd go gladly to swear his service to her lieges.
"But it's time we get thing straight. Are you there? Are you there for me? On the clock, at six a.m. in Ebonhawke?"
The import was as clear as the morning following a squall on the Bloodtide Coast. This was not an undertaking to be accepted lightly. It would likely call for long hours and more than a little danger.
"Maybe the Vanguard has something to say on the subject. Seems he's had a run-in with someone of the same ill sort as my erstwhile friend."
Lyrics provided by Zeromancer, "Hollywood"