Friends of a Feather

Sometimes, even therapists have things in their own lives they need a little help with. And, as it turns out, providing guidance to others is much easier than trying to do the same for yourself.

At SHUSH, things were actually going very well for Dr. Moira Rousseau. Despite her initial concerns about possibly having to choose one field over the other, she had been successful in managing her schedule to allow time for both clinical and forensic work.  Having been settled in for several months now, she was happy with where she was professionally.  She loved her job and truly wanted to help people, and that showed through her gentle words and warm, friendly smile. And the confidence she had gained in her abilities, paired with the humility and kindness doctors these days all too often seemed to lack, made her generally well-liked among other SHUSH employees.

As such, she had become at ease interacting with many of the people she ran into there day-to-day.  Once she left the office for the day, however, and it came time to interact with people in other environments, her confidence would wane and things would become a bit... trickier.

Enrolled at a young age in a special 'head start' program designed to set children on a faster path towards their college degree than traditional schools, Moira had spent most of her life focused on her studies rather than her social life. What social skills she currently had came mostly from textbooks rather than real-world interactions. And her preferred pastime was enjoying quiet time, alone, curled up on her couch with a feel-good book or movie.

But she was no longer content with that.  She tired of being lonely, and SHUSH being the only place where she felt socially competent. Always overhearing co-workers make weekend plans with each other had become almost painful. Why should she have to stay home alone when she could be out having fun, too? All she needed was a friend or two... but that was nearly impossible when she lacked the courage to approach others. And that was an embarrassing problem to have when your chosen career often put you in the position of helping others with similar issues.

And that was exactly why she had decided to put her foot down, and finally give herself the push that she often had to give her patients.  She had given herself a simple mission: to go somewhere unfamiliar, and strike up conversation with someone.

The bank seemed an easy enough place to test the waters.  So, having requested that her pay to be give to her in the form of a physical check this time, Moira had no choice but to go to the bank herself and interact with a stranger in person if she wanted groceries and to pay her bills for the month.  It should only require minimal interaction... but baby steps taken in the right direction still counted as progress.

Moira shifted the purse on her shoulder as she walked through the entrance of the bank and got in line for the teller. The line was short, and everything so far seemed pretty quiet.  She was glad she'd chosen to come in on her day off, at a time when most other people were still at work.

Once it was her turn, she walked up to the counter and gave the teller a timid smile.

"Hello. I'd like to make a deposit, please."

She'd noticed right away that the teller seemed like a nice person before even saying anything (and so pretty too!), but it did little to put Moira at ease.  As she handed over the check, smile became almost apologetic, and might as well have said aloud what Moira was thinking. 'I'm totally new at this and I'm so sorry if I mess something up and take up more of your time.'

    • DarkwingPsycho

      Said teller was wearing a light blue dress that nicely offset her long blonde hair and complimented her bright silver eyes.  "Hello!" Ariana responded pleasantly, having grown used to at least the minimal amount of customer interaction day-to-day.  Despite her shyness, she enjoyed it and was glad to have at least a minute script of phrases available to her related to the banking process.  "I can help you with that, sure!  Do you have your bank card or know your account number?"

      Carefully she took the check from Moira and flipped it over.  "Oh, I'm sorry, could you please endorse the back...?"

      • Dr. Moira Rousseau
        Dr. Moira Rousseau

        "Oh! Right."

        Yes, obviously, they'd need an account number to know where to deposit the money.  Embarrassed by her slip up, Moira's cheeks reddened slightly as she quickly signed the back of the check and handed it over to Ariana.  "I'm sorry, it'll just be a moment..." she said as she dug her wallet out from her purse and began searching for her card.

        As she did so, another customer -- a fiery haired young man dressed in a somewhat sloppily buttoned pilot shirt -- walked in and made his way over to stand in line behind Moira.  With his head down, his unruly mop of hair nearly concealed the bright green eyes that were staring down sourly at the check in his hands.  A sort of pouty scowl played on the drake's bill as he quietly murmured something about a broken printer and how it wasn't his fault.

        Just as Moira had located her card and handed it to Ariana with another apologetic smile, she perked up at the sound of the very familiar English lilt coming from behind her.  She looked to where the young man was standing and smiled.

        "Oh! Hello, Elliot," she greeted warmly, relieved to see someone she knew and was comfortable with.  One new face was about all she really wanted to handle right now.

        Looking up to see who was talking to him, Elliot broke into a grin upon recognizing Moira.  "Dr. Rousseau!" he greeted in return, his mood seemingly having lifted instantaneously.  "Dropping off a paycheck, too?"  Elliot had only ever seen Moira at SHUSH, in uniform, which explained why he hadn't recognized her right away in the yellow sundress and sandals she was currently wearing.

        Not wanting to be rude to the teller, Moira nodded in response and gave her co-worker a look that indicated that she'd be happy to chat later, but not at the moment.  When it was clear Elliot got the message, she then turned back to Ariana.

        "I'm sorry about that, miss... is there anything else you need?"

        • DarkwingPsycho

          Ariana could see how flustered Moira was, having been in that position many a time, and empathically said, "Oh, it's all right...take your time."  Once she had it, she smiled genuinely and took it.  "Thank you."

          While she was sliding Moira's card and typing some things, she unintentionally overheard the two conversing and glanced up surreptitiously to see what Elliot looked like.  She liked the sound of his accent, and when she did see his face, she thought it seemed very open and genuine.

          "N-no," she answered Moira, handing her her card back.  "You should be all set...would you like a receipt?"

          • Dr. Moira Rousseau
            Dr. Moira Rousseau

            "Oh, no, that's fine."  Moira smiled, taking her card and putting it back into her wallet. "Thank you so much.  Have a wonderful afternoon."

            With an inward sigh of relief, Moira returned her purse to her shoulder and headed towards the exit... proud of herself for surviving the encounter, despite some minor hiccups. She knew she'd probably been worrying too much over nothing. But that was exactly what she was hoping to improve.

            And, if this was as bad as it got, then she should have her confidence up in no time.

            As she passed by, Elliot gave Moira a grin and a discreet thumbs up.  She slowed her pace, looking curiously over her shoulder at the agent as he took her place at Ariana's booth. She appreciated his support, but... had her nervousness really been that obvious?  After a moment of thought, she decided to wait inside so they could speak when he was finished.  If there was anyone qualified to give her advice on boosting confidence, it was Elliot.

            Meanwhile, Elliot was now at the counter presenting Ariana with his own bank card and check, which was already endorsed.  He smiled boyishly at her.

            "Wow. You're so beautiful I've gone and forgotten what my pick-up line was going to be," he admitted with a sheepish chuckle.  At least he was honest?

            The young agent then cleared his throat and gestured to the check. "Uh, I'd also like to make a deposit, please.  If it isn't too much trouble."

            He, like Moira, had never come here in person before. But thanks to his latest paycheck needing "adjustment" due to an incident with an unruly office printer, here he was. And that wasn't turning out to be a bad thing, really... if all the tellers here were this pretty, he might be tempted to start doing his all of his banking in person.

            • DarkwingPsycho

              "You too!" Ariana responded cheerfully.

              When the red-headed Englishman moved in front of her, she gave him a bright smile.  "Hello, how can I help you?"  At his compliment, a pink blush rose in her cheeks and she almost denied it, except that she remembered what Drake had said about rejecting people's kindness.  So instead her expression became bashful and she ducked her head a little.  "Oh, um...thank you..."  Her voice was soft, sweet, and very shy all of a sudden, although she had no idea what a "pick-up line" was.

              "No, i-it's not too much trouble," she responded, a little flustered now and glad of the distraction.  Her fingers gently plucked up the rectangular piece of paper and she glanced at the back to make sure it was endorsed.  "Do you...have your bank card?"

              It was at exactly that moment that the front doors burst open, shaking the glass, and three masked men walked in holding AR-15's.  The last one though the doors immediately shut and locked them, wrapping a length of chain through the handles and securing it with a rather large latch.

              "Everyone on the ground!" the leader barked.  "This is a robbery!"

              He then aimed the nozzle toward the general direction of the tellers, and Ariana froze with fear.

              "If any of you gets the idea to set off the alarm or call the cops, you'll be made an example of."  The other two went in search of office staff to yank out of their offices and round up.

              • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                Dr. Moira Rousseau

                Elliot was too caught up in Ariana's beauty and her adorably innocent reaction to his flirting for his brain to register her words. Bank card...? What was a...?

                Oh! Bank card! Right.

                The drake's grin turned slightly embarrassed. But before he could even reach for his wallet, the door had burst open and three masked men stormed into the bank, weapons at the ready.

                Startled only for a brief moment -- this was hardly an uncommon occurence in St. Canard -- Elliot recovered quickly and, with two women present and in danger, immediately went into protective mode.

                "Quick! Get down!" he whispered urgently to Ariana as he started to reach for his own concealed gun. But when the leader barked the order for everyone to get down, aiming the firearm in their direction, he paused... catching sight of a visibly frightened Moira.

                She was still only a few feet from the men, and apparently frozen in shock. The frightened woman was partially blocked from their view thanks to a large potted plant, but they would notice her there eventually.

                Elliot slowly moved his hand from his gun and complied, getting on the ground as the lackeys left for the back. If Elliot tried anything right now, and they saw Moira right there, it would be all too easy for that guy to gun her down before Elliot could even make a move.

                He couldn't risk that.

                "Dr. Rousseau!" Elliot hissed sharply as he got to the ground, looking worriedly at Moira. "Get down!"

                Moira didn't seem to hear him -- or anyone -- as she was still frozen in place, staring fearfully at the leader of the trio. Was she going to die here? All because she'd made an effort to come out of her shell?

                Soon, the two other men returned they brought with them two more hostages: a man and a woman, both in business suits.

                "Down on the ground," one of the lackeys ordered the man, shoving him to the floor. The other lackey roughly brought the woman over to the leader, grinning like the idiot he probably was.

                "We got the manager. She's a pretty one, too." The large brute grinned, pulling her closer to him.

                The manager in question looked a bit weary -- how many more robberies would she have to endure before retirement? -- and more than a little disgusted at the lack of personal space the lug was granting her. Would a breath mint have been too much to ask?

                Still, she remained quiet, waiting for the leader's demands. 

                • DarkwingPsycho

                  Ariana did as she was told, although she only got down enough that she could still see what was happening over the top of the counter.  The tellers near her had either completely ducked under their counters or were standing in shock.  Why couldn't these robbers have gone to the St. Canard City Bank or Third National or McDuck Bank & Loan...?

                  The leader glared at the other masked man who had brought the male office worker.  "Go round up the tellers and get them out here!  I want everyone in this lobby sitting in plain sight!"  Then he turned his attention to the manager, seemingly uninterested in her the way his companion was.  "You're going to take me to the safe and get it open.  Now."

                  Jacob Mallard was whistling to himself as he rounded the corner toward the Sitting Duck National Bank.  He was going to pay off a loan he had acquired for...personal reasons...and wanted to make sure everything was on the up and up in person.  When his hand fell on the glass entrance, he paused and frowned.  For one thing, it wouldn't open, and for another, he could see that there was a thick metal chain and lock holding the door closed from the inside.  The sun was shining on his side of the building, making it hard to see farther inside until he pressed his face against the glass and cupped his hands around his eyes.  When they adjusted, he noticed the two figures in the lobby with guns and a handful of terrified citizens.

                  He was already moving around the back when there was the sound of a gunshot, quickening his pace.

                  "That was a warning to anyone who doesn't put their cell phone on the ground!  Slide them over to me or you won't have any fingers to text with anymore."  Once the hostages had complied, he started to nudge the bank manager.  "Well?  Let's go!"

                  They had only taken a couple of steps before he noticed Moira.  He glared.  "Did you hear what I said?  On the ground."  He pointed the gun toward the psychologist.

                  • Elliot Hudson
                    Elliot Hudson

                    The second lackey muttered something under his breath about his boss’s... well, bossiness... before heading back to corral the remaining tellers and get them on the floor.

                    Meanwhile, the manager seemed more annoyed at the inconvenience than worried for her life.  Yes, yes.  She knew the drill.  She didn’t put up a fight when he ordered her to take him to the vault, as she’d do just about anything at the moment to get away from his lackey’s tuna fish breath.

                    Elliot kept his gaze on the leader, his eyes nervously shifting between him and the still frozen Moira as he put his cell phone on the floor.  He still had his SHUSH communicator and his gun, but they were concealed and would remain that way until he got an opportunity to—

                    The barrel of the man’s gun swinging in Moira’s direction triggered Elliot into action.  The timid woman had been startled out of her shock, but was clearly still too scared to move due to the large gun pointed at her.  Knowing Moira had frozen up and would likely get shot if something wasn’t done, Elliot decided to take action while all three robbers had their attention on the psychologist. 

                    Quickly but discreetly drawing his own gun, he fired two shots at the leader’s firearm in an attempt to render it useless.  While the leader and the lackey beside him were reacting to that, he immediately got up and fired a couple of shots at the lock on the door, hoping it would break it.

                    “EVERYONE OUT!  NOW!  GO GO GO!” Elliot ordered, jumping on the lackey who had brought out the tellers to prevent him from firing at any innocents.  Fortunately, the one with the leader seemed not too bright, and was clearly confused as to what to do now.

                    It was a reckless move, maybe.  But he was a SHUSH agent; he could not just stand by and do nothing.  He just had to hope that these guys were the typical goons that didn’t have backup plans in the event of uncooperative, armed hostages.

                    • DarkwingPsycho

                      Ariana and the rest of the tellers obediently followed the masked man out front and sat with their backs against the counter.  Or they would have, had chaos not suddenly broken out in the lobby.

                      The leader howled angrily as his gun was jerked off course, it went off, shredding a nearby ficus.  "What the -?!"  He looked up to see a redheaded duck on the back of one of his minions.  He glowered at the one nearest to him as some of the civilians started making a break for the door.  "GET THEM!"

                      Ariana had stayed in place, staring at Elliot as he wrangled the gunman, feeling a familiar flicker in the pit of her stomach.  It wasn't until a few minutes later that she realized everyone else was trying to run, and she was swiftly missing her window of opportunity.

                      Jacob discovered the back had been chained from the outside and made quick work of the lock as he moved inside, gun at the ready.  He came across some cowering employees hiding.  "How many?" he inquired lowly.

                      One held up three fingers.  Jacob nodded over his shoulder.  They didn't have to be told twice and made a break out the back.  More gunshots made him move faster, although he wasn't reckless about it.

                      While his less-than-stellar compatriot blocked the exit with his gun at the ready, the leader had one hand gripping the bank manager's upper arm and his other had dropped the disabled gun and pulled out a Glock.  He was aiming for Elliot.

                      "You," he snapped.  "Off.  NOW.  Or I blow her brains out..."  He shifted the barrel of the gun toward the woman he held hostage.

                      • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                        Dr. Moira Rousseau

                        Fortunately, Moira finally seemed to come back to her senses when the gun aimed at her was shot from the man's hands. The sight of Elliot wrestling with another gunman, however, caused her to hesitate for a very brief moment.

                        She knew how reckless and self-sacrificing he was, and that he could very easily get himself killed. But what could she do? While she was technically an agent herself, she had never done well in combat situations.

                        She quickly decided she'd get out first and then send for help via her SHUSH communicator. Unfortunately, just as she joined the others in fleeing towards the exit, the second lackey blocked the doors, aiming at the fleeing hostages and ordering them back onto the floor.

                        This time, Moira complied, looking on worriedly as the leader threatened Elliot. She couldn't retrieve her communicator without drawing attention to herself, so she would just have to hope that Agent Hudson wouldn't inadvertently do anything that would cause anyone to get killed.

                        Elliot, meanwhile, had showed no signs of letting up even as the leader aimed the gun at him. He'd gotten a good hold on the minion, and was fairly certain he could move in such a way that any shot fired at him would instead hit the other robber in a non-fatal spot.

                        It wasn't until the handgun was pointed at the manager that he paled slightly and relented, loosening his grip on the henchman. The man then threw him off, knocking the gun from his hands. He then grabbed Elliot, holding the smaller drake firmly with his arms behind his back to keep him from trying anything else.

                        "You're going to regret that, boy," the man growled lowly in his ear, tightening his grip on the agent's arms.

                        Up until now, the manager had been largely impassive to the situation. In her own personal experience, robbers were usually cowardly and didn't actually shoot to kill as long as they were kept appeased. However, these men were obviously not appeased, and her life was suddenly in very real danger.

                        "Look, let's just get to the vault so you all can take your money and leave," she tried reasoning with the leader once Elliot had been detained.

                        • DarkwingPsycho

                          "First you're going to show me where the security tapes are kept," he growled, then he pushed her forward.  "Try anything, and you're going to get a hole in that pretty shoulder of yours."  At least the leader, it seemed, was no cowardly imbecile.

                          The one not gripping Elliot started doing another sweep of offices.

                          Ariana glanced nervously toward the two men in the center of the lobby.  The criminal gave another snarl and then shoved Elliot onto the ground.  Then he kicked him in the abdomen and stomped on him, continuing to assault the agent in any way he could.  "I told you you were gonna regret that..."

                          Ariana had been about halfway to crawling toward the pile of cell phones in the center of the atrium until the fight occurred.  "Stop it!" she cried.  "Leave him alone!"

                          From his vantage point, Jacob could just see into the lobby.  He pulled his head back quickly around the corner, though, as two figures approached.  A woman followed by an armed masked man.  He raised his own gun, trying to gage when they would be passing him based on how quickly they had been walking.  He was just poised to strike when they turned the corner.  Jacob blinked in surprise.  They weren't going to the vault?

                          The robber was just as shocked.  "What the-??"

                          "Sorry, my dear!" said Jacob smoothly as he neatly shoved the woman out of the way before the other man could get a grip on her again.  Then the agent ducked down quickly, missing the gunshot that had been aimed for his head, and connected a powerful uppercut to the solar plexus.  As soon as the criminal doubled over, Jacob headbutted him soundly, sending blood spurting from the man's nose.  The weapon fell to the floor as he clutched at his face in pain.

                          The sound of a gunshot from the back got the attention of everyone in the bank, but only the lackey who had been scouring the front offices went there to investigate.  The third, still standing over Elliot, looked confused for a moment, his own weapon in his hand, then he noticed how close Ariana was to the phones.

                          "Hey!" he barked, aiming the gun at her.  "Get back!"

                          • Elliot Hudson
                            Elliot Hudson

                            Fortunately for the robber-in-charge, the manager had a very strong sense of self-preservation. She had no intentions of trying anything that could get her, or anyone else, killed. Of course, none of that mattered once a stranger ended up surprising them... decking the robber hard enough to send him to the ground with a bloody nose.

                            Fearing the man might recover, the woman hurriedly picked up the gun that he'd dropped and aimed it at him in case he tried to get up. She glanced at the man who'd just saved her.

                            "There are two more," she said quietly, unaware how much information this man had on the situation, if any. "One's in the lobby, with hostages. I'm not sure where the other went."


                            Back in the lobby, Elliot couldn't do much aside from allowing the larger man to use him as a punching bag. It was frustrating, not fighting back like he wanted to. But as tempting as it was to lash out in response, the man still had his gun on him.  He worried that causing more trouble could put the other hostages in danger.

                            Speaking of...

                            The gunshot from the back sent a wave of dread through Elliot.  If he had hurt that poor manager...

                            He was distracted from his worry over the woman's well-being, however, when the man who had been taking his anger out on him suddenly noticed and threatened Ariana.

                            Elliot's position on the ground was just right for grabbing the man by the ankles. So he did just that, immediately pulling the robber's feet out from under him and sending him to the ground face-first. A loud thud echoed through the lobby as his the underside of his jaw connected with the tile floor.

                            The agent quickly got up and sat on the man's back, straddling him and pulling his arms around behind his back in order to handcuff them.  He looked at Ariana and motioned with his head towards the phones as if to say "Go ahead. I've got him under control."

                            Only... he might have been wrong about that. He stiffened a bit once he realized he didn't actually have his handcuffs on him at the moment.

                            "Well," he muttered to himself, feeling around in his pockets and coming up empty. "That's not very good, is it...?"

                            It was probably too much to hope that the man was dazed enough to stay down for very long. But at least he was disarmed now.  If he tried to pull anything, Elliot would be more than happy to show the jerk what a real punch looked like.

                            • DarkwingPsycho

                              Jacob nodded, ignoring the pain in his own head from where he had slammed into the robber.  He passed her a meaningful look and once he was satisfied she could hold her own and keep the crook in custody, he moved on toward the lobby once again.

                              He noticed another masked man striding his way, rifle at the ready, and stuck out his foot just as the man passed, tripping him headlong into the opposing wall.  The gun went off, striking the ceiling and nothing else, and Jacob was on him, wrangling for the weapon.  This guy had some sort of training, because despite his awkward position he was able to worm his foot between them and launch Jacob across the hallway.  Noticing the cane that had fallen on the floor, the thief took a good guess and slammed the butt of his rifle into Jacob's left thigh, making the agent grunt in pain.  He then hit him across the face with the same end, making Jacob see stars.

                              Ariana watched Elliot's swift and heroic actions and felt heat rise to her face, awestruck by his daring.  She was so enthralled that she momentarily forgot what she'd been going for, then remembered when he met her eyes.  Picking up a phone at random, she dialed 911.  Maybe now that their bank had been plagued with criminals the last couple of weeks, the higher-ups might consider investing in a security guard instead of just cameras.

                              As the blonde spoke to the dispatcher, she searched around the lobby for that nice lady she had waited on before Elliot.

                              • Elliot Hudson
                                Elliot Hudson

                                The nice lady in question was still on the ground near the entrance with several fellow hostages, not daring to try to make a break for it in case one of the other robbers returned.

                                Moira had also taken the opportunity to call for help. While Ariana was on the line with the 911 dispatcher, the psychologist had fished out her communicator and pressed the emergency button to send an SOS to SHUSH. The alert would automatically include her location via the device's GPS, so backup would hopefully be on the way soon.

                                "Just hold tight," she whispered to a few frightened people nearby as they remained on the floor.  Despite her own nerves, she smiled at them reassuringly. "Help will be here soon."

                                Meanwhile, Elliot was still sitting on the robber's back and looking around for anything to restrain him with. His eyes fell on a nearby roped divider. Perfect!

                                "Hope you don't mind if I borrow this," he quipped to Ariana, removing a length of rope from the dividers. He looked back up at her, flashing her a boyish grin as he tied the man's wrists securely behind his back. "I promise to give it back, once backup arrives and we can get him handcuffed proper--"

                                Before he could finish that thought, a gunshot rang out from the back, followed by the sounds of a scuffle. That couldn't be good.

                                After glancing around quickly to make sure Ariana, Moira and the other hostages were okay for the moment, Elliot retrieved his gun and quickly but silently made his way over to the hallway the led to the back.

                                Leaning against the corner wall, he took a deep breath and readied his gun, trying to mentally run through what little he remembered of SHUSH protocol for these situations. That lasted all of two seconds, the sounds of a struggle prompting him to toss SHUSH protocol aside and just do whatever needed to be done.

                                "SHUSH! Freeze!" The agent ordered as he whipped around the corner, his gun trained on the robber who was standing over an older drake Elliot didn't recognize. Concerned for the man, he had to fight the urge to run over and check on him; his attacker had to be dealt with first.

                                "Drop your weapon, step away from the man, and put your hands up where I can see them!" Elliot ordered, his gun still aimed at the robber's chest.

                                • DarkwingPsycho

                                  Ariana blushed deeply at Elliot's charm and smiled bashfully.  At least until a gunshot redirected her attention, too.  She informed the dispatcher of the new development and looked uncertainly at the commandeered thief.

                                  In the back hall, Jacob's head was clearing just in time to hear Elliot announce himself.  SHUSH?  Perhaps the cavalry had already arrived was unlike back-up to be punctual.  Still, he was glad of the help.

                                  The second robber lifted his gun with his hands, smiling beneath the black ski mask.  He didn't look like he had much intention to disarm himself.  Behind him, the manager had briefly been distracted by the gunshot and then Elliot's appearance, giving the leader plenty of time to sweep her legs out from under her.

                                  As soon as she was flat on her back, he wrestled his weapon back from her and kicked her swiftly in the face.  His lackey was exactly in the right spot for Elliot not to get a clear shot from where he was standing, and Jacob felt a surge of anger at what had just happened.  Rather than get his gun at the ready, he pulled out his knife from its sheath around his ankle.  Both criminals were paying attention to Elliot, so it was the perfect opportunity for Jacob to stab the second felon in the foot, slicing easily through the shoe, flesh, and bone.

                                  • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                                    Dr. Moira Rousseau

                                    Moira looked on, her stomach tightening in dread as she heard Elliot in the back, confronting the robbers.  She hoped he knew what he was doing, and that he wouldn’t act too recklessly.  Lives were on the line, including his own.

                                    The nice teller lady was still on the phone with 911, so she focused her attention on calming other hostages.  A part of her was tempted to lead them all out the door, but she knew that the lack of a guard blocking the way didn’t guarantee it was safe.  There was no telling if one of the robbers would return before they could all escape... or whether or not there were armed accomplices waiting somewhere outside.

                                    Yes... it was safer to wait for backup.  The most helpful thing she could do right now was put others at ease.  So, after once again assuring those around her that this would all be over soon, Moira moved on to asking the ones having the hardest time about their interests, their families... anything that might distract them.  Whatever it was that brought her fellow hostages calm, Moira kindly and patiently encouraged them to talk (or, at least think) about.

                                    Despite her profession, Moira had always been downright terrible at socializing outside of her job. But this wasn’t the awkwardly polite chit-chat that was so difficult for her.  This was comfort.  She was providing assurance and distraction — both for the others and for herself — and working to achieve a state of calm during a crisis.  This was part of her job.  And that’s something she was good at.

                                    • Elliot Hudson
                                      Elliot Hudson

                                      Elliot narrowed his eyes and clicked his gun out of safety, when the robber in front of him didn’t comply with disarming himself.

                                      “I said drop your weapon!”  He could now see the manager further down the hall, and was confused but also impressed that she seemingly had the leader of the group already under control.

                                      Or not.

                                      The sight of the woman being knocked down and kicked in the face caused the hot-tempered drake to see red.  He pointed his gun in the leader’s direction, cursing under his breath when the one in front prevented him from getting a clear shot. Just as Elliot was about to demand that he move, the older drake took care of that problem for him by stabbing him in the foot.

                                      While he was still concerned for the older drake, Elliot was somehow getting the impression this man was more than capable of holding his own in a fight.  The injured manager, on the other hand, was a different story.  Elliot had a deeply-rooted desire to protect all innocents, but seeing any woman being struck like that was the quickest way to send him on the warpath.

                                      So when the stabbed lackey howled in pain and dropped his weapon, Elliot acted swiftly, shoving the injured man to the side and firing a shot at the man who was now standing over the manager.  This time, he had aimed for the man’s gun arm rather than the weapon itself.

                                      Because you don’t hurt a lady in front of Elliot Hudson and expect to walk away unharmed yourself.

                                      • DarkwingPsycho

                                        Jacob lunged for the fallen gun just as Elliot's went off, and he could hear the leader cry out in pain and slump against the wall.  Getting to his feet, he aimed the rifle at the second man and looked toward the redhead.  "The third?"

                                        Ariana glanced toward the chained front doors worriedly, and started looking around for something to break them with.  Between that and the phone call, she didn't realize until a hand clamped over hers that the criminal Elliot had subdued had managed to get out of his makeshift bonds.  She gasped in surprise as the man ripped the phone out of her fingers and flung it across the lobby.

                                        "Didn't we say anyone callin' the cops would be made an example of?" he said threateningly.  Ariana cowered, wanting to disappear into the floor.

                                        • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                                          Dr. Moira Rousseau

                                          Elliot motioned with his head towards the lobby as he rushed over to check on the manager’s injuries.  “I don’t have my handcuffs on me, so I have him secured with rope.”

                                          He didn’t know how wrong he was.

                                          Moira had been busy keeping others calm to notice the man escaping his bonds.  It was only when Ariana gasped that she looked up to see the man threatening her.

                                          While technically not a field agent, Moira did still carry an agency-issued firearm and had been trained in its use.  It was mostly for her own protection, as she was not trained in anything like bank robberies or hostage situations.

                                          Despite that, she could not allow herself to sit by and watch this man hurt an innocent.  So, inspired by her colleague’s bravery, Moira summoned all her courage, retrieved the small handgun from her purse, and stood.

                                          “Agent Rousseau of SHUSH,” she announced, struggling to keep both her voice and her hands steady as she pointed the gun at the criminal.  “Kindly let her go and put your hands in the air.”  Moira worried she might not have the nerve to fire if he didn’t comply, but she hoped this man would think otherwise.

                                          • DarkwingPsycho

                                            Jacob nodded at Elliot.  "Good man.  How is she?" he asked of the manager.  He moved toward them, and on his way he clubbed the leader and the second lackey with the butt of the rifle to ensure they wouldn't be a threat later.


                                            The now-freed man towered over Ariana and grabbed her by the throat just as Moira was pulling out her weapon.  He paused, Ariana's tiny hands trying to wrestle his hold off of her, and grinned.  "How many of youse are crawlin' in here, hmm?  We'll just have to exterminate you one by one until we get our cash."  He then inclined his head backward in a challenge.  "Go ahead, 'agent.'  Shoot."  His hand squeezed Ariana's slender throat, and she made a subtle choking sound.

                                            • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                                              Dr. Moira Rousseau

                                              Elliot frowned a little as he inspected the dazed manager's injuries. He'd been in enough bar fights to be able to tell if a blow to the face was actually serious, or if it just looked bad. Fortunately, this appeared to be the latter.

                                              "She's going to have a pretty bad black eye, but otherwise I think she'll be okay."

                                              The agent stood and glared at the now unconscious leader, barely resisting the urge to kick him in the face as he had done to her. He knew this wasn't the time for it, but any man that would hurt a woman like that certainly deserved it.

                                              "You seem like you know what you're doing," he said, turning to Jacob. "Are you with the police?" Not that St. Canard's police force was exactly known for their competency.

                                              No sooner did that inquiry leave Elliot's mouth that the sound of a gunshot rang out from the lobby.


                                              Moira felt her heart drop, her hands trembling when the man didn't comply with her request. Oh, why couldn't he have just done what she'd asked?? She'd never shot anyone before, and had hoped it would never come to that.

                                              She tried to think of another solution, but was unsuccessful. Calling out to Elliot for help was not an option... this man could easily kill Ariana before he even got back to the lobby. In fact, she wasn't even sure if Elliot was okay; there had been gunshots from the back, but it had since gone quiet. And, as far as she could tell, no police or SHUSH backup had arrived.

                                              Regardless of what happened back there... right now, she was on her own. And that was terrifying.

                                              Upon seeing the man's hand close tightly around Ariana's neck, however, Moira's fear melted into resolve. Gripping the gun with both hands and lowering her aim to avoid the risks of accidentally killing the man or hitting Ariana instead, Moira fired a shot at the man's leg.

                                              • DarkwingPsycho

                                                 Both men raced to the front, not knowing what lay in store.  For Jacob, anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to see the assailant lying on the ground clutching a bleeding shin while a petite, scared-looking blonde skittered away from him.  Once she was a safe distance away, Ariana touched her reddened and bruised throat loosely and drew in a shaky breath.

                                                Jacob raised a brow.  "Dr. Rousseau?"  He put a hand on her shoulder, eyeing the robber grimly.  "Nice shot."

                                                • Elliot Hudson
                                                  Elliot Hudson

                                                  Elliot looked on in concern and was torn as to whether to comfort his friend, or the teller.  Both looked shaken.  Fortunately, Jacob seemed to be taking care of Moira, so Elliot rushed over to Ariana.  He owed her a huge apology, anyway.

                                                  “Are you alright?” Elliot asked urgently as he knelt down beside Ariana.  He did his best to inspect her injuries without invading her space too much.  “You’re hurt...”  He wilted a little.  “Do you need medical attention?  Anything at all? Whatever you need, I’ll get it...”

                                                  Elliot was clearly beating himself up over this.

                                                  “I... I owe you an apology.  I could have sworn I’d had that guy tied securely.  And he still almost killed you.”  He looked at the ground, feeling ashamed.  “My job was to protect you, and I only left you in danger.  I’m sorry.”

                                                  Moira, meanwhile, was still shaky, and though she had lowered her weapon, she had her hands still clenched tightly around the gun.

                                                  ”He won’t... he won’t die, right...?”  She looked at Jacob, her eyes filled with worry and guilt.

                                                  Moira had never fired her weapon outside of SHUSH’s training grounds, and she’d hoped she’d never have to. But she couldn’t let that man hurt that poor innocent woman. Still, it was pretty easy to see that hurting another person like this had been hard for the sensitive young psychiatrist, even if it may have been the right thing to do.

                                                  • DarkwingPsycho

                                                    Ariana's wide silver eyes were on the shot man until Elliot knelt down to her level.  Slowly her gaze traveled to his, barely registering what he was saying, and without a second thought she threw her arms around him and cried, letting the fear pour out of her as she trembled against him.

                                                    The rest of the hostages were getting up tentatively, then more bravely as sirens finally could be heard in the distance.  Back-up on was on its way.

                                                    Jacob smiled reassuringly at Moira and reached over to gently wriggle the gun out of her grasp.  "No.  You did good, doc.  You did good."  He slid his arm around her shoulders and held her.  "Saved a lot of people.  John'll be proud."

                                                    • Dr. Moira Rousseau
                                                      Dr. Moira Rousseau

                                                      Jacob would be met with no resistance when taking Moira’s gun; if anything, she seemed happy to be rid of the thing.

                                                      “Th... thank you, Agent Mallard.”  Though somewhat comforted by Jacob’s assurance, the psychiatrist still seemed shaken.  As she registered the sirens in the background, it finally hit her just how horribly wrong this all could have gone.  Any of these people could have been killed.

                                                      When Jacob put his arm around her, Moira leaned in to him for comfort.  Catching a glimpse of Elliot and Ariana, she suddenly felt overwhelmed and in need of a cry herself.  But she didn’t want to be a burden to Agent Mallard, so she held it in for now.

                                                      “I... suppose the paperwork for this is going to be a nightmare,” Moira joked weakly.

                                                      * * *

                                                      Elliot was stunned for a moment after Ariana threw herself at him.  After taking a moment to process this, he wrapped his arms around her in, what he hoped, was a comforting hug.

                                                      “Everything’s okay, Ariana,” he assured her, after taking a brief moment to recall the name he’d seen on her name tag.  “I’m sorry I put you in danger.  These creeps will be locked away for a long time.  You’re safe now.“