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Biting Bullets

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Four walls in the room, boxing her inside a space no bigger than a storage closet. Garnet counted the walls 5 times, because she was tired of counting bullets. Six black gun cases with her red and blue insignia sat lined up on the steel table in front of her, next to them the aforementioned-bullets. She leaned back in her chair and took a drag of the Marlboro cigarette she had between her lips, blowing out smoke that curled upwards and met thick clouds of dust that have long since made their place there. Footsteps echoed out in the hallway behind the door in front of her; small, light footsteps with the distinct ‘click’ of a heel from a dress shoe. Garnet watched with disinterest. The door opened and in stepped her client. Behind her thin form, she could see two of her men, both armed, both ready for a fight. The door shut. An angular face and thin lips with a sharp (‘goblin’, Garnet later found how to describe it) nose that the light glinted off of. Her blonde hair was in fringes that curved about her ears and swept across her neck, the look of someone that Garnet would have slept with in highschool and spent the rest of the year trying to get rid of her. Her client looked at her with dull blue eyes.

“Six?”

“For display. The rest are in the trucks.” Her voice rumbled through the room, loud enough to echo back as deep and british as it was when it left her lips. Garnet stood from her chair. Her head almost hit the hanging light fixture above her for the third time. She made a mental note to have it torn out and have a mounted one installed instead.

Her client stared down at the cases, toying with the cuff-links of her dress shirt. Scrutinized the emblem. Being as prissy and irritating as Garnet imagined her to be when she first heard her too-pitched-too-squawky voice over the phone. She crossed her arms and frowned at her client.

“Are you buying the cases or the gun?”

How cute, her client was glaring at her. Garnet smirked and reached for the middle case, blowing out another puff of smoke as she undid the clasps and pulled the lid back. Inside the cushioned foam lied the first of her products.

“AK-47, classic, real Hollywood if you ask me. Modified with a detachable stock, a scope, a pointer, right there is a suppressor you can attach,” she pointed to it, moulded in the foam next to the modified gun’s barrel. “Oh, and the serial number’s sanded off. We have 64 in the truck at the moment.” Garnet moved to the next one and unhooked the lid. “Basic 9mm, serial numbers gone, high capacity magazine, a detachable sight, suppressor.” To the next one. ‘Click’ as she undid the case. “Sawn-off shotgun. Shockwave model. Same deal with the serial number, sights,  has a stock too if you want to get fancy with it.”

Her client did not look like she wanted to get fancy. Yes, even in spite of the fancy black suit, trousers and shoes.

“This one is a snub-nose .357. Modified grip and a sight, suppressor, no serial number. You getting the pattern here?” Garnet said. She grinned and blew out another puff, and a bit of ash fell from the end of the cigarette to fall onto the table. “Illegal modifications, untraceable, everything you asked for,” she unhooked the rest of the of the cases. Her eagle and her remington sat in them. She pointed at them in order from the snub-nose to the remington.

“45, 23, 64, 37, 78. We can talk about fulfilling the rest of your order once we get this settled.”

“Have they been tested?” Her client finally spoke up, clasping her hands behind her. Garnet hummed, brushing a hand over her chin.

“I wonder if I tested the guns that I personally use and sell.”

Her client scowled.

“We agreed on forty grand for the first order, did you bring it?”

“Yes.”

“Where?” Garnet sat back in her chair. It groaned with the weight.

“Your guards seized it.”

Garnet hummed again. Cupped a hand over her lips, “bring it in!”

Not a second the later the door opened and one of her men walked in with a duffle bag in his meaty hand.

“Counted. All there.”

“Put it on the table,” she ordered him, and he obeyed. Garnet sat further back, tipping her chair backwards, balancing herself with her foot.

“I’m happy you understand our methods, most aren’t too trusting when it comes to us wanting to check the bags first. Usually because there is something in them,” she gestured to the gun tucked into the holster wrapped around her waist. “That’s when this comes in handy.” Garnet shot a smile at the guard. “Leave us please.” He left. She tipped herself back and forth in the chair., using her toes to rock her. “Do we have a deal, or do you need to pull out a magnifying glass and inspect it some more?”

“We have a deal,” her head snapped up, those dull blue eyes completely focused on her. The prissy bitch crossed her arms behind her back again. “Do we take the trucks?”

“We have movers that will follow you to unload. Complete discretion on your location guaranteed. If you don’t trust it, then shoot them when they’re done and we’ll find some more people who want to put food on the table,” Garnet allowed the chair to drop with a thud. “When do you want the rest of your order?”

“Soon as possible.”

“Will you have the money?” Garnet asked. Her client scowled, probably the only facial expression she knew how to make.

“Yes.”

“Good. We’re done here then.” Garnet stood up with a hand out. Her client looked at it as if it were diseased. Then slowly she raised a dainty hand and placed it in hers. And Garnet took the opportunity to grab tight, tight enough that she could feel her fingers folding and her client started to wince. Her lips curled up in an unfriendly grin.

“Influential crime boss or not, no one crosses me. Keep things friendly and professional and we’ll get along just fine. Understood?”

Lips pulled back in a snarl, the prissy bitch nodded her head and yanked her hand out of her grip, letting her hand drop to her side, perhaps to hide the red marks blooming on the pasty white skin. Grin still plastered on her face, Garnet sat back down and crossed her arms.

“Understood.” She snapped. She mirrored Garnet’s action and looked at the cases. “I’ll wipe that shitty emblem off.”

“Hey, that’s a quality seal of approval you’re looking at there.” She said.

“We’ll see about quality soon enough.” Her client muttered, then she turned and she tried to be off but the door didn’t open for her. It wouldn’t open without the secret password (‘Hey, open the fucking door!) Garnet’s grin stretched wider as her client/prissy bitch turned back and looked at her with a dull (the ‘I’m-trying-to-be-aloof-to-look-cool-and-scary’ look, she liked to call it) look. A hand strayed to chest, near her coat pocket of her black suit.

“I like having names for my files. You feeling more codename or I’m-not-scared-of-nutin’ real name?”

“White Crane.” Prissy bitch spat, moving her hand away from her chest.

“Oooh, a colour and an animal. How original. You choose a bird because of that beak of yours?”

“Open the fucking door.” Almost, she missed the ‘hey!’ Garnet called out the corrected version of the password and the door opened up, allowing White Crane to leave. Her shoulders dropped then and Garnet breathed out smoke, fingers twitching against her tense biceps. The low humming of the light fixture and smell of smoke filled in the absence of White Crane’s presence in the room. Garnet’s vision start to tunnel as she stared off into space, head racing with a million thoughts all at once.

Not a minute after, the door swung open again and her ‘advisor’-long time friend Jasper who had good advice more often than not and grounded her in her ideas- came in with a trudge in her step, the cane she had doing her no good. She tucked it under her arm and used the door to lean on instead, her masculine face strained with discomfort and exertion.

“Successful, I’m assuming?” She was eyeing the bag on the table with greedy amber eyes.

“Yeah. Start writing tabs on her, and I want to know what she uses these for and whether or not she talks to any competitors.” Garnet said, her tone far more serious than what it was before with White Crane.

“She’s the head of a criminal organization, what could you possibly want to know about her?” Jasper asked.

“Everything you can dig up.” Her grin and smile wasn’t on her face anymore either, instead a frown that pulled her normally full lips into a thin line. “All the essentials and any fun facts.”

“There won’t be a lot to find, if you’re in her type of position you’ve obviously learnt how to hide your tracks.”

“Find it.” And her word was final on that. Garnet stood up and unzipped the black duffle bag, pulling the flaps open. The money was in bundles. She flipped through a stack of them to get an accurate count and compared one to another to make sure they were the same size. After that, she grabbed out ten and handed them over to Jasper. “Rest comes after we fill in the order.”

Jasper didn’t respond, too busy marveling over what she already had so much of. Garnet zipped her bag back up and tried taking a drag of her cigarette, but it long since burned out. She opened her mouth and let it drop to the table, then popped another one from the pack in her pocket and placed it between her lips, striking a match to light it. She took a long drag, feeling the burn in her throat and lungs, and let it release through her nose, clouding the already-dusty air with grey smoke. She puffed it several times. “Get our treasurer up here to get the bag.”

Jasper nodded. Placed the cane back on the ground and hobbled away, wincing and letting out small grunts with every step. Garnet watched her silently until she was gone. Then she took the cigarette between her index and middle finger and flicked the ash off onto the table. A piece of it fell on one of the black curls of her hair, starting to smoke it, but a puff of clean air from Garnet’s lips put out the flame before it could think to become a problem. She shut each case with a firm ‘snap’ and locked it, flicked the ash off her cigarette and took a drag that burnt it down to the end.




Chapter Text

The screech of tyre against asphalt did nothing to mask the wail of the sirens tailing after the truck. A sharp turn jerked Lapis to the side, and poor, small, 41kg Aquamarine flew off her feet and slammed into the wall of the truck, a duffle bag hitting only a few spots away from her head. Gasping and in utter shock, she fell to her hands and knees, bobbed hair falling about her face and her suit’s tie scraping the metal floor.

“Fucking hell! Give me a damn concussion, why don’t you?!”

Their escape driver, Marty, was a damn lunatic of the highest degree. While he drove well and knew how to escape a few stubborn cops, he had almost no care for whatever payload he was taking along with him. As a result, most casualties came from being inside the truck rather than the standoffs with the police; exhibit A being Aquamarine’s now bruised back.

Lapis stayed quiet, as she always did, toying with the papers in her hand and glancing back every now and then to the twin doors that led to the outside. The sirens were still close, but there weren’t as many. She hoped they would escape soon, the inside of the truck was sweltering and the back of her dress shirt was stuck to her skin with sweat. Several duffle bags shuffled to the back of the truck as it braked, a few of which spilling its contents of cash, to which Aquamarine bent down and started to pack it back in, muttering to herself incoherently. Lapis ignored that though, thumbing through the stack she had in her gloved hands; Manila folders and papers and coded documents, a flash drive or two, and a few discs. Her shaggy, shittily dyed blue hair covered over her eyes-each of her attempts to clear her vision had been thwarted by another sharp turn of Marty’s- keeping her from seeing all the words, but still she got the gist of what was written within the first few documents. Another turn made her sway, and vaulted Aquamarine away from the bags and onto her back.

“You absolute-!”

“Shut up,” she finally spoke. Aquamarine listened well and did so. Good. She was losing concentration.

It took several more sharp turns and sudden brakes, but the sirens faded off, and when they did Marty pulled over and Lapis and Aquamarine got out of the truck to screw on a new license plate and place a few advertisement stickers for a cleaning service on the sides. To really sell it, they posted a phone number to a real service on the back (because friends help rep friends businesses, criminals or not.) Afterwards, it was a matter of getting back in and driving back to base, which took another hour.

By the time they were out. Lapis’s dress shirt was plastered to her torso, as well as her hair to her face. Aquamarine was worse off, leaving small droplets on the ground as she walked off with two bags in hand. Lapis didn’t follow through, turning to face Marty, who had climbed out through the passenger seat. They were in an empty parking garage, all entrances and exits closed off by metal shutters. Several large concrete columns lined the way to the broken lifts and hell’s staircase (appropriately named because if you wanted to get anywhere in base, you have to take them and each floor is separated by four flights. The lifts haven’t been fixed because each time a repairman came someone decided to get their v-card borrowed for the hour. This happened 12 times.) and the pavement that made up the floor hadn’t been redone in years, tyre markings and foot prints almost on every inch of the surface. Above Lapis’s head was a sign labelled in bold font “DROP-OFF”.

Marty kicked the door shut and leaned back, scowling at her as he ran a hand through his thinning blond hair. The look was bad on him, because it brought out already-exaggerated wrinkles even more and made his curved nose hook enough to allow Lapis to see that he never bothered to trim. She didn’t give a reaction to it, though; she’s seen grosser.

“Thanks for the lift, Marty.”

Marty grunted and reached into his jacket’s pocket, pulling out a cigar and lighting it. To show his appreciation, he took one long drag and blew it in her face. Lapis only blinked, eyes turning half-lidded, then she hooked him then and there, sending him sprawling to the floor and clutching his jaw like it would fixed the crack she put in it.

Little did Marty know, Lapis’s half lidded eyes was the famous “I’m going to lay you out now” look.

-2-

“Our total amount was probably in the hundred thousand range, maybe a little less,” Aquamarine explained to White Crane. She barely looked like she was listening, rotating a snub-nose in her hand, back and forth as she checked every groove and every opening- save the barrel, she wasn’t an idiot.

“Did the equipment hold up?” She asked, not caring at all about the money. She set the revolver down on her wooden desk and sat up straight in her leather office chair, looking at Aquamarine.

“Quite well, actually. Not a malfunction or a single jam.”

“The modifications?”

“Performed fantastically.”

“And the documents?”

“Lapis has them.”

“Good,” White Crane picked up the gun again and stared it down some more. “Sort out your cuts with your team. Tell Lapis to bring in the forms when she can,” her dismissal was an undertone. Aquamarine walked off, understanding it after years of working with her. When the door to her office room shut, White Crane leaned back and let out a long sigh, rubbing her temples to ward off the forming headache. Her computer beckoned for her to get back to work, but the lights dancing against the wall parallel to window called for her distraction. She did get distracted for a bit, staring off into space, but soon enough she broke out of her trance and decided to get to work. Pulled up on her layered proxy browser were several tabs, one for ‘email’, one for a contact, and another on the arms dealer she had seen only a few nights ago. Her tracks were hidden well, but White Crane had far too much experience to let that stop her, and after an hour of diligent work, she eventually found a site on youth records with states and names redacted for privacy, but her picture was far too recognizable. A large black afro full of tight curls, the angular structure of her face, the rounded, mousy nose, full lips, deep umber skin, and the hint of a tattoo on her neck all matched who she saw the other day, save for the youth in her features and the mismatched blue and brown eyes and arched eyebrows that were covered by a large visor during their meeting. Listed under her picture were the court cases issued, the officers who responded to the calls, her age, and underneath all of that was a very, very long list.

Assault and Battery

Grand Theft Auto

Arson

DUI

Disorderly Conduct

Assault and Battery

Assault and Battery

Assault and Battery

Aggravated Assault and Battery

Public intoxication

Assault and Battery

Minor in Possession

DUI

Sexual Assault

Assault and Battery

From what White Crane could gather, the arms dealer liked to fight a lot. She might be wrong though. In reality, what interested her most was that her age was listed as 17, which means either she fell off crime completely after her last charge of assault (obviously not), or she finally learned how to cover her tracks. Either way, White Crane continued to dig, keeping the youth records in a folder and trying every keyword she could. If she could get a location or a name, then everything else would be a piece of cake. She worked for six hours before Lapis came in to drop off the documents, and that diverted her attention to reading the banking statements, the list of transactions, client records, employee records, vault and safe codes, security detail and the bank’s architectural design. White Crane highlighted the points of interest; names of certain clients and the security. The whole real reason she ordered the robbery; the money was just a cover-up. When she finished reading over the papers, she filed them away in her desk and stood up from her chair, cracking her lower back and pulling her phone from her pocket. Remembering numbers was one of her fortes, so it didn’t take more than a second to dial one in.

A familiar accented voice, “Hello?”

“The order.”

“All ready.”

“I’ll be there tomorrow.”

The line clicked.

-3-

The line clicked and Garnet snapped her flip phone shut and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it and puffing it several times. Her feet were up on her coffee table, each time she shifted it shifted with her, two of the legs loosened from when she fucked her last fling on it some nights ago. Her living room was quaint, with the oval shaped coffee table and the small, two-seater beige cloth couch she was seated on behind it. Only two feet away from the table was a wooden stand and a box tv turned to the news, but muted. A red rug underneath it all covered the hardwood floors. Quaint, but never described as attractive, and Garnet has made an interior designer cry with her choices in decoration before. It was smokey in the room, thanks to the cigarette she had between her lips and the many more she had before in this exact same spot. Ash dropped and fluttered down on the couch, which she brushed away, leaving a black streak across the fabric. Garnet opened her flip phone again and speed dialed. It rang once.

“Yes?”

“Get the location ready again and move the trucks there.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Thank you.” She hung up and threw the phone to the other side of the couch, resting her elbow on the arm and her cheek on her palm, puffing out another cloud of smoke. She set her feet down and tapped her heels against the floor, face twisting into a frown, accentuating wrinkles she liked to pretend she didn’t have. Let this be their last meeting, and maybe she could relax; dealing with the mob always made her jumpy. She flicked the ash off her cigarette and blew out several rings, and when that cigarette burnt out she went ahead and lit another.

Chapter Text

The second meeting was set up the same way. One closet-sized room, one metal table, one chair, one lighting fixture, and a haze of smoke floating around the ceiling. The door’s lock clicked after White Crane stepped in, looking sharp in a white suit and black tie, like she was going to a wedding rather than completing a deal with an arms dealer. Her arms were behind her back, her shoulders and head poised, dull blue eyes looking down at the arms dealer like she were beneath her. At the moment, she was, sitting in the chair cut her height in half, but when the arms dealer stood to shake her hand that changed in mere seconds.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, White-“ the arms dealer couldn’t help a snort, “White Crane”

White Crane stared at her hand, making no move to grasp it. She rolled her shoulders back and let out a sigh as she leveled the arms dealer with a strict gaze.

“Are your trucks ready?”

“Yes. I must say that I’m flattered you trusted me enough to send my drivers back in one piece.”

“There was no need to kill them. We brought them to a checkpoint,”  White Crane shared that information with no concern of what the arms dealer could garner out of it.

“Smart woman, just how I like them.”

“You like them unwilling too, correct?” Her mind was on the sexual assault charge, labeled clear on her youth record. She saw the way the arms dealer faltered, lips twitching, lit cigarette drooping almost close enough to burn her chin.

“What do you know?”

The arms dealer wasn’t lacking in her own smarts either.

“Everything you partook in at the age of 17 and younger.”

“Ah, so nothing at all?”

White Crane frowned.

The arms dealer grinned and took the cigarette from her mouth, blowing out a large cloud of smoke and throwing the cigarette to the side, still having half a stick left to it. “Good try.” She mocked her. “Where’s my money?”

“Your guards. Again.”

With a smirk she cupped her mouth and called, and not a moment later the door was opened, the bag was dropped and the guard made his way out. The arms dealer unzipped it and gave it a quick check even though the guard confirmed the amount; White Crane had a feeling it was meant to be patronizing.

“Looks good.”

The arms dealer leaned back up and tried to take a drag of her cigarette, only to be reminded that she discarded it in a show of power earlier.

“Does it?”

“Don’t try me.”

She watched as she became serious, and White Crane started to smirk.

“Do I make you nervous?”

There was a pause.

The smoking, the inability to keep herself still, how tense her shoulders were. White Crane watched in amusement as the arms dealer’s expression flickered as she tried to come up with a retort, only to fall predictably short.

“I scare you, don’t I?”

“Shit doesn’t scare me.”

“Really now?” White Crane’s voice dropped lower. “Stop reaching for your gun then.”

Her hand was straying to that little safety blanket of hers, and when called out it stopped its path and instead returned to her side. The arms dealer lips were tight, shaded eyes focused on White Crane’s. She could see the flex of her muscles as they tensed and untensed.

“You want your guns or not?”

“I want a name and a contract first.”

The arms dealer stared blank.

“Contract.” She stated rather than asked.

“I need a steadier supply than putting orders in every month. You deal in arms, and I need them. I want your word that you can provide for a set amount of time until I can get a better hold in that area of business.”

“You just admitted to wanting to become my competition.”

“Against me there won’t be a competition. At least try to make and save up money before everyone starts buying from us instead.” White Crane rolled her shoulders back and held her head up high, smirk drawing further along her face at the glower on the arms dealer’s face.

“What did I say about fucking with me?”

“I’m being friendly, aren’t I not? And wanting to set up a contract is as professional as you can get.”

The arms dealer’s lips were starting to draw away, baring teeth yellowed from years of smoking. Then she became neutral again. She stood up straight and pulled off her glasses to clean them on the fabric of her shirt.

“Take your money and fuck off somewhere else.”

“What, no negotiation? How un-,”

The table almost flipped over with how quickly the arms dealer vaulted over it. A glock with its serial sanded off brandished itself underneath her chin. The arms dealer’s forearm, twice as large as her own, pressed up against her throat, adding pressure that made it hard to breath. White Crane’s back ached from its hard slam against the wall behind her. The constant assault and battery charges made even more sense now: the arms dealer had a temper.

“You dumb cunt,” she seethed out “do you need me to repeat myself? Don’t fuck with me.” That manhandling forearm pressed tighter against White Crane’s throat, stealing away the breath she tried to draw in. White Crane’s hand strayed to her own gun, the very snub-nosed revolver she was sold weeks ago. The arms dealer loomed over her, teeth bared, darkness in her look even with the shades covering her eyes. White Crane almost wanted to scoff. She pulled her piece out and jammed the barrel onto the arms dealer chest.

“I’ll ask you kindly to get off me. Don’t make me repeat myself.”

The arms dealer didn’t back off. White Crane couldn’t help the surprise that reigned through her. Still, she was planning on keeping with her threat, so she clicked the hammer of the revolver back and almost pulled the trigger when the arms dealer backed off her, stuffing her gun back into its holster. Then, to her ultimate shock, she held out that same hand in offering.

“Garnet.” Was all she said. White Crane looked at that hand, scrunched her nose. She took it and the grip tightened, but it was nothing like the near crush she did the first time. “We’re going to negotiate on my terms only.”

An hour past midnight and they had a deal that neither were too happy about. Rates of 12% that doubled with each year the contract was in effect, and weekly shipments that would force twice the workload and twice the smuggling and straw purchases in order to fulfill the orders. Garnet took a seat afterwards and lit a cigarette, not even savoring it, smoking it right to the butt in an impressive show of her lung capacity before she released the smoke as she talked.

“Then we have a deal.”

“It appears so. We’ll be working closely with each other for now on, Garnet.”

“I’m fucking soaked just thinking about being in a room with you again.” Garnet sneered, smoke billowing out the sides of her mouth, fading into wisps as the last of it escaped. White Crane’s eyes burned from the sheer amount in the room. She raised her hands up and started to fix her cufflinks.

“Good to know. We’re done here.”

Garnet sneered again, twisted her head to look behind Pearl.

“Hey, open the fucking door.”

The door opened. White Crane gave a bow of her head and she turned and left. The guards flanked her sides down the hallway and staircases until they came into the large loading dock. There the trucks waited, their drivers sitting around either smoking, playing on their phones, or taking a nap against the wall. White Crane rolled her eyes at the sight, then she spoke in a snap of her voice that made all in the bay come to attention, whether they knew who she was or not.

-2-

Garnet fished out the stacks, lining them up on the table while Jasper continued to talk.

“Mexico will be no problem, but trying to smuggle more out of anywhere else will be a challenge.”

Garnet curled her lip, setting a stack down with a ‘thump.’

“What about Iraq? Is that mercenary group still down there?”

‘They are, but our last dealing put heat on them, they won’t be able to get anything for us without anyone suspecting.”

“Fuck.”

The curse was punctuated with the sound of the bag zipping up. She rubbed at her nose and looked up at Jasper, who’s expression was shielded from anything other than thoughtfulness. She was leaning on her cane, injured leg jutting out away from her side. Her shaggy blonde hair was in a ponytail high up on her head, exposing the scarring on her cheeks it usually hid.

“What about our operations in Brazil? Honduras?”

“They’ve been lying low for a while, we might be able to get things set up again.”

“Do it then.”

“Aye, aye, captain.” Jasper gave a mock salute, then she stared at the stacks that Garnet had laid out on the table. “That all for me?”

“Depends on whether or not we need to grant an advance to those operations.” Still, she pushed the money out in offering and Jasper wasted no time situating herself on the cane again and hobbling over to check it out.

“Good thing White Crow pays well.”

“Crane. And yes she does; managed to get her to agree 12%”

“Nice.” Jasper was running her thumb through a stack. “Personally, I would have gone for 15%”

“You deal with her next time then.” Garnet almost snapped. She clutched for her pack and flicked it open, only to find it empty. Her sigh shook as she dropped it to the table and instead starting tapping her foot to the ground in a tune only she knew.

“Go and get the treasurer up here, after that send everyone home. I want to get to bed.”

“Gotcha,” Jasper left the stack she was playing with on the table and took several long, labored moments to turn around on her cane, letting out a soft groan as she started her slow walk to the door. Garnet watched her, face neutral. When she was gone from view, she pressed two pointer fingers to her chest, adding gentle pressure where the barrel had been pressed against her. The phantom feeling of it still lingered. Garnet couldn’t remember the last time she had a gun pointed at her. She rubbed at the spot with a frown and leaned up, popping her spine several times as she stepped around the table and left for the door. Down the hallway of offices she walked; she could hear the laughing and jeering of some of her employees in several of the rooms. When she arrived downstairs to the loading dock, all the trucks were gone. Near the east wall of the building sat a sleek black car, which Garnet beelined towards, fishing her keys from her pocket and unlocking it with a quiet chirp .

Chapter Text

Clacking keys and the glow of a blue monitor. Garnet sat hunched forward in her office seat, continuing to type away on the contact she had pulled up on her proxy browser. It was nearing 3:00, and her eyes were starting to droop with sleep, but she was so close to being done that she didn’t want to stop until she was. Her left foot tapped a tune that mimicked the theme song of a tv show she watched not too long ago, thumping loud against the vinyl flooring. Her office was smaller than her living room, cramped, even with a white wood desk, a computer tower, and a black netted office chair being the only things that occupied the room. Garnet, the giant 6’5 human that she was, hated being in the room, because it felt as though the walls were trapping her in after a while.

She hit send on her contact and powered off the computer, leaned back in her chair to rub at her burning eyes. Her shades were off in her bedroom, for once allowing her brown and blue eyes to be bared, and the long scar that carved straight through her left eyebrow and ran up to the center of her forehead. Two pointer fingers rubbed at it, and the sting of a phantom pain shot through her forehead, making Garnet wince, dropping her hand. The creaking of the chair’s wheels as she pushed back from the desk. Garnet made for her bedroom.

On the foot of the bed sat a dark lump. Garnet walked towards it and ran her hand along it, raising the fur up, rousing the dog from its sleep. It stretched its paws out and yawned, licked her palm right afterwards in greeting.

“What did I say about going to sleep without me?”

The dog offered no apologies, only stretching further out along the bed and shutting his eyes. Endearing as all hell (Something he did since Garnet first found him, over four years ago, that to this day still served to melt her heart.) She undressed herself to her pants and laid in the bed, covering herself with the comforter and shutting her tired eyes. Words and numbers floated around in her vision and in her ears, still reminiscent of the conversation she just had, but soon it bled away into fragments of a dream as she began to fall asleep.

Her phone ringing and a stream of sunshine cutting through the window straight across her eyes woke her up. Garnet sat up, looked for her phone, found it sitting atop its charger plugged into the outlet. When she looked at the contact it was unknown, and that made her frown as she swiped the call and lifted the speaker to her ear.

“What?”

“That’s no way to greet someone.”

Snooty high-pitched voice. White Crane.

“The fuck do you want?”

“For you to be a little less rude, for one. And also a few questions answered.”

“Use google like everyone else,” she tired of the conversation quickly, and thought about hanging up then and there, when White Crane said something that chilled her blood.

“Google doesn’t have information on you, as you are aware. That’s why I called the direct source to ask whether or not you knew that your doctor doesn’t keep his records well hidden.”

Garnet clutched the phone hard enough to turn her knuckles white. The dog at the foot of her bed must have sensed her distress, because he rose up and rumbled towards her, licking at the arm outside of the covers.

“You-“

“Garnet Morrison, blood type O positive, born 7 th of December, 1980, prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication, 6’5, weighs 96.6 kg-,”

“What are you angling for?” Garnet’s jaw clicked with every word with how hard she was clenching it. Her arm shook with the effort it took to not dash the phone against the wall.

“Angling for? Nothing, nothing at all. I just wanted you to know that your doctor doesn’t keep his records well under wraps. A clear violation of HIPAA; I would report him if I were you.”

Garnet started to pet her dog, using it as a way to calm herself from the anger coursing through her. The dog, unaware of the true turmoil, pushed his head up into the hand, starting to pant and wag his tail.

“You have no idea-“

“I’m very aware of what I’m doing, Garnet. If you want to talk about it, then give me a call tomorrow. I’m a very busy woman.”

Boop, Boop

The sound of the call ending. A surge of anger left her phone sailing through the air after she threw it, startling the dog away from her. Like it was a game of fetch, he bolted towards it as it hit the floor with a loud crack. Garnet pressed her palms to her face and let out a growl that was almost inhumane.

-2-

White Crane hung up the phone with a satisfied smirk on her face, leaning back in her chair, the casualness behind the action fitting with her choice of attire that day, a blue dress shirt with sleeves that came down to her elbows and a pair of black slacks. She set the flip phone on her desk and rolled her neck, popping it twice. She kept her head lolled to the side, reading the information pulled up on her laptop, everything about the arms dealer. Almost everything. There were still a few missing pieces that she needed to find.

“A criminal with an anxiety disorder, not something you read every day,” White Crane muttered to herself, popping her fingers with her palms. Garnet has proven to be quite the interesting person day by day, and trying to find more of her was a puzzle that she was eager to complete. A smirk drew across her lips as she pulled up her contact and typed out a message.

Within twenty minutes the person she asked for came in, white coat and brown khakis and greying black hair that complemented her brown skin well. She was looking at her watch, not at White Crane, and from experience she knew that it was about to be an earful she would receive.

“I need to be at work in se-”

“Focus on paying off your debt to me, then you can go to work, doctor,” White Crane leaned back in her chair and watched as the doctor struggled with her next words. After a solid 3 seconds, she continued for her.

“I have a new patient for you, she’ll be unwilling at first, but she’ll come to like you.”

“A patient,” the doctor deadpanned. White Crane nodded.

“She won’t be too bad, nothing like the last few and certainly no one as annoying as Marty. She’s just a little bit more wired than the average human and that requires medication. I’ll have her signed up to your plan within the week.”

“And this couldn’t be-”

White Crane rolled her eyes at the same time her wrist rolled upwards, flashing the snub-nose she had tucked in her slacks. The doctor didn’t flinch, as she learned not to after years of being threatened with the gun, but she did know, and with that she bowed her head, uttered a “I understand, ma’am,” and then left the office with only the noise of her footsteps tailing her. White Crane smirked again and set the gun on her desk, loving the power she had over poor Dr. Maheswaran. Her fault for deciding to take that bit of help so many years ago. White Crane’s debts were never forgotten, only forgiven once they were paid off (And Doctor Maheswaran was a long, long way from paying off what she owed.)

She toyed with the revolver, rolling it over in her palms and examining every marking, every imperfection, the sanded marks of the serial number that had been done away with. A very nice quality gun, otherwise, and White Crane’s ever-growing curiosity on finding out exactly where the guns were imported from increased.

The ringing of her flip phone drew her attention, and she looked at the phone with amusement, already seeing the contact number on its small screen. A smirk drew across her face. She let it ring, ring, ring, until finally the call dropped and her office was enveloped in silence for less than second before it began to ring again.

“Simple instructions. Call tomorrow,” White Crane muttered to herself.

She leaned back in her chair and put her feet up.

-3-

“Damn that cunt,” Garnet growled out between her teeth. The dog was laying in her lap now, panting, enjoying the feeling of his ear being scratched by her unconcious hand. Garnet dialed the number again, let it ring and ring until it went to an automated message, and she growled and resisted the urge to throw the already-cracked phone again. Instead, with a shaking hand, she placed it on the mattress and busied both of her hands on the dogs head, earning even more panting and a wet tongue brushing over her palm.

“A little advice, Mac, never make a deal with a mob boss.”

Mac stared up at her with big brown eyes. He licked his muzzle and then began panting again, blowing hot air across her face. Garnet smiled and scratched him some more. “Good boy. Sorry for getting mad earlier.”

He laid his head in her lap. With a more relaxed sigh Garnet reached for her phone again and selected a different contact from her list. To her relief, it only had to ring once before the receiver picked up.

“Hey.”

“I got a stalker,” Garnet said to Jasper. She heard a chuckle, the sound of sipping.

“Good for you.”

“White Crane.”

The chuckling stopped. Garnet continued, “She found my medical file and got an unnerving amount of information on me.”

“Address?”

“No, thankfully. Though I assume it won’t be long before she pulls that one out of somewhere.”

She could hear shuffling, a grunt, the sound of a cane thumping against the floor. Probably Jasper moving to do her standard ‘look out the window while contemplating something’ act she had a habit of.

“Well, unfortunately, I’m going have have to spoil you with some more bad news. The guy we had down in Brazil settled down. Kid’s cute, but obviously that means we need to find a new smuggler because he doesn’t want to put them in danger.”

Garnet processed the information. Refused the urge to swear and throw her phone again. Remember Mac, still lying there happy to see her happy. She breathed out and starting rubbing his ear again, earning the thump of his tail hitting the bed.

“Damn it. Have you-?”

“Already on it. I’m using the money we set aside for advance for the search and as an incentive. It can take a few weeks though.” Jasper coughed away from the phone and leaned back into it “On the brightside, guy didn’t ask for a parental leave.”

(There was a time, some years ago, when an operative in New Jersey did exactly that, asking for 20,000 thousand dollars. Twins by his word, no woman to be seen because she dumped them and left. Garnet happened to be in town at that time and paid him a visit to give the money herself, sympathetic of his unfortunate situation. First red flag was his apparent nervousness once he saw her at the door, second one was no twins or baby stuff in sight. Third was a competitor at his back porch smoking a cigar, waiting quite irritably for his business partner to come back to the conversation.

Needless to say, the industry was down a smuggler and a dealer after a few short minutes.)

“Heh, yeah, least there’s that. Put aside 10 from my account anyway and wire it to him. A little gift from me.”

“Okay. Back to White Crane though, what’s the plan?”

“Plan,” Garnet repeated, and she leaned back against the headrest of her bed. She wanted a cigarette. “None, She’ll be willing to talk tomorrow and I’ll see what I can gather from that.”

“What, no swearing to kill her and her family?”

“No, that’s there. Just first I want to see how many pockets of information she found so I know what to get rid of.”

“Ah, smart.”

“I try.”

Jasper laughed and Garnet smiled. After a few more short words, they bid each other goodbye and the line went dead. With that, the creeping reality of her situation came back to her, and Garnet started to pet Mac a little harder, tangling her fingers into his fur and taking slow, measured breaths.

Tomorrow. She’ll have her answers tomorrow. Until then, she can just fantasise about killing White Crane.

 

Chapter Text

“For the last time, get the fuck down!
Lapis crashed the butt of her shotgun against the hostage’s head, crumbling him to the floor. He clutched at his wounds and moaned, and a well aimed kick at his stomach took his breath away. It was all it took for her not to shoot him then and there. Lapis distracted herself by glancing to her partner instead.

“How’s it coming?”

Peridot sat kneeled on the asphalt, still fixing the charge against the doors of the truck. Behind her, an armed man lied dead, his blood still splattered on the side of her mask. The only thing Lapis could see of her was her bright green eyes and hints of her pale skin through the eyeslots. Her hands worked at the wiring and the buttons with ease, muscle memory from what she had done hundreds of times before. Lapis turned her attention back down to the hostage.

“You really picked a bad time and place, man.”

“Fuggoff,” he groaned out, then shouted when she stamped her boot back onto his stomach. Her eyes trailed side to side, watching for any incoming cars or pedestrians. So far, they’ve been lucky, but she knew that their luck could run out in a matter of moments. It’s happened before (5 times in fact. 3 of those times in succession) In an alleyway too wide for its own good, Marty sat parked, either smoking a cigar or flipping through the latest edition of whatever porn magazine he liked to spank to. That was a small comfort, but still her mind was racing with the idea of being caught, and she found herself having to resist shouting at Peridot to hurry up.

“There,” Peridot stepped from the ground and brushed off her trousers, picked up her gun. “Let’s go.”

Lapis nodded, delivering one last kick to the hostage and swooping down to take his cellphone before running off with Peridot. Not one for petty crimes, she ‘dropped’ (slammed) the phone down onto the pavement, smirking at the sound of the crack that indicated that the hostage would have trouble reporting the crime he witnessed. The alleyway was dank despite the hot and dry summer they’ve been having, and it stunk of garbage and rotten cardboard from the rubbish bins lining up the wall. Lapis had to jump over a fallen bin to avoid it, landed in papers that squished and stuck to her boots. Peridot was smaller and thus faster than her, reaching the repainted-black van before Lapis did, vaulting straight into the passenger seat.

“Dibs!”

“Fuck me!” Lapis panted out, huffing as she changed her course for the back seat instead. She opened the door up and got in, sighing as she sat down on the cloth seats, too relieved to not be standing or running that she didn’t even care about the amount of DNA Marty probably spilled back here on a daily basis. Peridot was fiddling with the device that controlled the charge, corner of her lips quirked, mask off and resting on her lap.

“Think that guy got away yet?” She asked

Lapis offered a shrug, “He better fucking hope he did.”

Peridot grinned, and with an exclamation of ‘Boom!’ she set the device off. They were far enough that the ‘boom’ was more of a ‘poh’ than anything. But still Peridot was watching the small orange light in the distance with rapt attention. Scowling, Marty switched the van into gear and peeled out of the alley way, back down to the street where they ran from. Flaming pieces of metal lay scattered around the street, and a quick glance at a limp form on the other side of standing flat told them that the guy didn’t get away. Not her problem. She was more focused on the armoured truck, almost intact save for destroyed doors on the boot, several metal pallets inside, stacks of money inside them. Marty flung the car around and quickly reversed so the back of their van was almost touching the truck. Peridot sprang out immediately, but Lapis hung back to say:

“Listen to the radio, let us know if they call a squad”

Marty grunted, for once not having anything sarcastic to say as he reclined in chair and switched the radio to a police channel. Lapis hopped out of the car, boots hitting the asphalt, racing to the truck. She hopped on and the back sagged down with her weight. Peridot was already yanking a pallet away from the others, dislodged it and wheeled it down to the van's doors. It opened for her, a mechanism that had been installed a while ago activated by Marty on the inside. Lapis felt grateful for that; taking time to open that thing wasted precious seconds.
They managed to get 4 in there before the explosive had been called in, and Peridot and Lapis escaped into the car and Marty slammed on the pedal, speeding off, the van slower with the payload, but still fast enough to get away from the scene. It wasn’t until they were on main street that a squadron of cop cars flew past them, masking the night’s sky and dark buildings with the red and blue light of their sirens. A collective breath was held as the cars passed by, then released as they continued onto their route, not paying any mind to the black van with a ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ sticker slapped onto the side. Lapis sagged in her seat, reaching to pull her mask off, wiped sweat from her brow.
“That was close.”
“But we got it!”
Peridot twisted in her seat to grin at her, showing off slightly crooked teeth, a nose that upturned to the sky, platinum blonde hair that almost framed her face in a shape of a triangle, freckles that spattered her cheeks like whatever being in the sky took a paint brush wet with tan and flicked it at her (“Let’s get a little bit of this going on- oh fuck, too much. Way too much.”) Between her height and her face, the only thing that had Lapis believing that she wasn’t a child was the fact that she had seen her ID before, her date of birth listed at 1987.

“Didn’t notice,” Lapis deadpanned, and Peridot’s expression soured, her lips puckering into a pout as she twisted to face forward again. Marty kept both hands on the wheel, eyes straight ahead, oddly devoid of any scathing comments towards them or the situation they were just in. Lapis almost felt inclined to ask what was wrong, but then she remembered that she didn’t care. Street lamps and road signs passed them in quick succession, only the occasional car crossing their path as well. Soon enough, they came to a large parking garage, and Marty pulled the van into there.

Parked beneath the ‘Drop Off’ sign, Peridot and Lapis left the air-conditioned van and out into the hot garage, already beginning to sweat as they opened the van doors and started pulling the pallets out. Marty got out with them, didn’t offer to help as he walked to a pillar to lean on it and pull out a cigar.

Lapis eyed him from the corner of her eye, a frown on her lips, tugging the last pallet out and narrowly missing her foot with the wheel of it.

-2-

Garnet flicked her cigarette butt out the window and returned her hand to her phone as she texted Jasper an update, her knee steering the car back and forth. It was early as fuck, not a car in sight, and she left the house ten minutes early, but still she was almost late as every single damn stoplight in the entire city decided to turn red before she can get passed it. And though she was sitting there, driving with her knee, texting, and had a still-cold beer in the cupholder, Garnet didn’t want to mess with running a red light. 7 tickets was enough for even a hardened criminal to learn their lesson. The charges were cleared, and the judge who listened to her case was very dead, (How wrong of you to assume it was because of her. Shame.) but still fines and court was something Garnet wanted to leave in the past. She dropped her phone into her lap and took a swig of the beer, feeling the American piss-water slide down her throat in a way that alcohol should not slide down. A low growl escaped her as she slammed the beer back in the cupholder. She needed to import better shit.

Her destination was in clear view a few minutes later, and she pulled into the lot of the construction site. Pallets of wood, paint buckets and bags of cement scattered around, nails and drywall dust lying on the floor. The lot was reserved for a new restaurant that hadn’t been built in years. As of now the building was still only a beige square, with long windows covered in papers and tape. Garnet scowled at the sight, chugged her beer and threw it onto the ground as she stomped towards the doors of the site. At the first try, it didn’t unlock, but a kick fixed that in a matter of moments. She strode inside, hand always at her side, fingers teasing the grip of her gun.

“Late.”

Garnet turned, expression dark, lips pulled back in a snarl. White Crane sat on top of a pallet, dressed in black. A suit, a dress shirt, slacks, dress shoes, a tie. Like she going to a business meeting for some overly gothic-company. Trying far too hard even for them. The smell of a perfume wafted into Garnet’s nose, vanilla and carnation, so thick it was almost sickening. Still, Garnet held her expression true, did not falter even with the overly powerful smell.

“We work on my time. Not yours.”

“Really now?” White Crane appeared to have the talent of raising a single eyebrow. A smirk drew across her lips as she leaned back against the pallet and crossed her legs over one another. “Are we alone?”

“I’m no coward.”

“Same here,” White Crane agreed. She let out a yawn, covering her mouth with a dainty hand. “Let's get to it, go ahead and tell me what you want to say.”

“Why are you stalking me?” Garnet growled out.

“Stalking?” She pretended to look offended. “I’m only acquiring information, nothing more-”

“Save me the bullshit and tell me what you’re angling for. If you think I have anyone you can blackmail me with, then you are mistaken.”

That infuriating smirk drew up on her lips again and she leaned further back, crossing her arms over one another. White Crane offered no reply, letting silence overtake the conversation. Attempting to make it ask the questions for her. Garnet didn’t follow it, an adept in the same trick.

“I’m not angling for anything, Garnet. I’m just a woman who likes to do her research.”

“You’re a fucking snake.”

A gasp, and a hand to her chest. “Touchy!” She leaned forward, pressing a fist under her chin as her eyes turned half-lidded. “Can you fault me for being interested in you?”

“You aren’t my type,” Garnet spat. White Crane grinned.
“Right, you like them unwilling.”

Her eyes narrowed, expression turning darker by the moment, and she reached a hand up to her neck, rubbing it. White Crane turned her gaze to the hand, once again showing off her amazing talent of being able to lift a single eyebrow.

“What’s its meaning?” She asked.

“What?” Garnet dropped her hand from her neck.

“The tattoo.”

Garnet clicked her tongue, turning her gaze away, “First off, I hope you know how fucking annoying it is for someone to ask about the meaning of a tattoo. Half my tattoos don’t mean shit.”

Pearl said nothing. This time Garnet fell for the tactic and answered the question hanging in the air.

“Tattoos look badass, I always wanted one. I went to prison for the second time my senior year and some forty-year old was offering to brand one in the needle and ink method. Asked her for one, she declined three times because she said I would regret it. Threatened her, she said she would only do it somewhere not noticeable. Told her to lick my cunt and do it on my neck. She did it, and now twenty years later I fucking hate the thing.”

White Crane gave it a closer look. Deciding to indulge her, Garnet moved some of her curls aside and inclined her neck, allowing her to see what had been branded on her skin permanently. Twirling, intricate patterns of smoke, a light grey shaded various shades of black, spelt the word ‘HOME from underneath her ear and across her jugular. White Crane pursed her lips.

“At least she was an artist. Very nice line work, even for a needle and ink method. I’ve employed people that had shittier designs.”

Garnet couldn’t help the small amount of surprise that surged through her, and she touched her fingers to her neck, feeling where the tattoo had scarred her skin. She wondered what White Crane was playing at. She dropped her hand, clenched her fist and hardened her expression.

“I’m glad that you didn’t let me see you yesterday, because I had every intention of killing you. I still do now, but instead I’ll try my luck on asking you stop stalking me. We are business partners, anything you need to know about me that doesn’t have to do with my business is information you don’t need to know. If I find out you dug up anything more, then I’ll put you in a hole 6 feet deep and two feet wide, and you’ll take that information with you.”

White Crane reeled back, hands flying to her chest, “Scary!”

And like that, Garnet’s flaring temper finally reached the boiling point, and in a second she had crossed the room, wrapped a hand around Pearl’s neck, and slammed her back to the pallet. Not one for repeating her mistakes, her other hand whisked into her suit, groping around her breast until she found the snub-nose and threw it away from them. Her hand finished the hold on her throat. All of this done in a matter of seconds.

For once, White Crane looked scared, the state clear in her eyes, but her face was a careful mask. Her mouth was open, taking in steady breaths even as Garnet bared herself on her, squeezing harder, intending to kill. Standing at 5’8, It would be impossible for White Crane to reach down and steal the gun from her waistband, and she made sure to keep her hips arched away to further lessen that chance.  Her lips moved, her voice a wheeze, broken syllables escaping through with great effort. Even then, it still wasn’t understandable. Garnet didn’t care enough to decipher it. White Crane’s face was turning purple, eyes going bloodshot, her pulse thrumming wildly beneath Garnet’s palm. She pressed harder, harder.

Then she let go.

White Crane coughed, and Garnet grabbed her by her suit jacket and pulled her close to her face. White Crane was light, lighter than she expected. Garnet had her almost completely off the ground, only her toes touching it.

“If I didn’t make myself clear before-” She waited for her to stop coughing. “Then I hope I made myself clear now. You can act smug, and throw your little sarcastic quips around all you like, but not to me. I’m not one of your slaves. I’m not one of your debtors. I’m not afraid of you, or your little organization. Send a person after me for whatever petty revenge you want, and I’ll kill them. Speak ill to me again, and I’ll bury you. The only reason I didn’t kill you now is because I like the taste of your money. Am I clear?” Garnet’s growl was low, a whisper. Her face was almost touching White Crane’s, her back bent in order to do so. Her curls fell around her face, shielding them. Anyone who might have happened to be passing by would probably think they were indulging in something rather than her threatening to kill the woman in her arms.

White Crane’s eyes were twinkling with something Garnet couldn’t pinpoint. Her hands were clenched around her own, and they gave a small squeeze. White Crane took in another breath, let out one last cough, then she gave a nod.

“Crystal.”

Garnet didn’t let go, still staring at White Crane. Beneath the twinkle, there was a flash of something else: Amusement. She was entertaining her. Rage bubbled in her again, but then Garnet took the moment to mull over her words. She said what she had to say, all she had to do now was prove herself. If White Crane decided she wanted to give that opportunity, then she would gladly take it. Pretending to feign innocence, Garnet shoved her back against the pallet and turned, walking towards the restaurant doors. Not glancing back, she stopped a moment to check her pockets. Phone, wallet, keys, gun. White Crane didn’t snatch anything.

Not showing her relief, she walked on, outside into the morning, to her sleek black car. She got in, turned it on, and drove off.

-3-

Mac jumped up, paws pattering against her legs as he panted and wagged his tail a mile a minute. Garnet indulged him, scratching him behind the ears and repeatedly saying ‘hi, hi buddy' to him. After a few moments, she gave up and took a seat on the floor, allowing the dog to overwhelm her. It took him two minutes to tire out, and when he did he laid his head in her lap, enjoying her fingers running along his neck, licking them whenever they got close to his mouth. Garnet sat with him a few moments more, afterwards she nudged him off her and stood up, walking over to his water and food bowl and filling them. He busied himself with that. While he did, Garnet went off into her room.

She lied down on her bed, sighed as she took out her cracked phone and texted Jasper, letting her know how about the meeting. (“The date went bad. She was rude, had to tell her off. Don’t want to repeat anything so I’m moving on.”) When the text sent through, Garnet dropped the phone to her stomach and took off her glasses to run her hands over her face, thinking about her interactions with White Crane. Anger surged through her when she remembered the words, the smugness, along with her own smug relief when she choked White Crane.

She thought more on it.

White Crane beneath her, her own hands to her throat, watching as she struggled to breath, those eyes reflecting fear. Garnet’s hand at her breast while she searched for the holster of the gun. Then afterwards being so close their noses almost touched, White Crane’s blue eyes twinkling with an emotion she couldn’t decipher and a hint of amusement.

Not one to lie to herself, Garnet acknowledged the fact that the interaction, and remembering it, made her horny.  She chalked it up to the close contact making the urge flare up. There was no attraction there, none at all. With that in mind, Garnet rolled over to her side, choosing not to indulge herself, instead deciding to catch up on the sleep she lost having to go meet White Crane.

A few minutes later Mac nudged the door open with his nose. Spotting his owner on the bed, he padded over and jumped onto it, walking along the bed before falling next to her to curl up at her side. Even being fast asleep, Garnet raised an arm and draped it over him.

Chapter Text

The compound was a disgusting mess of trash, tyre rubber, petrol cans, and scrapped car parts. Garnet covered her nose when she stepped out of her car, grimacing at the smell of it. When she walked, her boots crunched and crumbled piles of junk, barely able to lift out of the rubbish because of how deep the pile went. Still, she waded through 10 metres of it until she came to a cleared spot. There stood Jasper, wearing a long black jacket despite the heat, and pants with way too many pockets. She was leaning on her cane, regarded Garnet with a steeled amber gaze, face betraying no expression. Garnet didn’t offer anything either.

“Where’s the sample?”

Jasper shot a pointed look to the left of her. Sat next to her bum leg was a black gun case, the red and blue insignia marked on it. Garnet nodded, scratching her neck, where the tattoo was inked on years ago.

“When will they get here?”

“Soon if they want a fucking deal.”

Soon was ten minutes. The man came with no one, dressed in black like he was trying to intimidate, salt and pepper hair slicked back and black goatee combed neatly. He walked several metres in the circle, stopped several metres away. Jasper leaned down and picked up the case, using her cane to support her.

“This is my boss.” She started off with no introduction. Garnet inclined her head at him. He was short. Like any other man who dealt with her, he straightened up as much as he could, broadened his chest out, attempting to make himself look tougher. It didn’t work. It never did.

“This is a smuggler who has an operation in Brazil, I already gave him half the advance to come down here to meet. The next half will depend on how this meeting goes.”

“It’ll go well.” The man spoke with a heavy accent, Portuguese. Garnet couldn’t help but smile at it. It was always nice to deal with someone who wasn’t American. (Most days, she didn't have a problem with them. It’s just that they talk funny.)

Garnet pointed to the gun case Jasper had in her large hand,“That’s our case. All of our guns come in that case. No differing sizes. The red and blue is our mark, if you receive something that doesn’t have that mark, it gets thrown away and we get notified. On its own, it weighs 5kg, so when you smuggle, we recommend vehicles that can take heavy loads and have a lot of space in them. Too many of our contracts tried taking them in a pickup with the guns in the boot. Imagine their shock when the cars break down from the stress and they get caught by police. Hopefully you can see why I find it necessary to tell you what vehicle to use.”

The man nodded, “They were dumb. I’m not. I’ve been doing this for years.”

“Are you in contact with anyone else?”

“Only drugs, no arms.”

Garnet nodded, crossed her arms across her chest and straightened up to look even taller than she already did. Mimicking the man’s posture.

“You’ll be paid by the month. If you need any earlier payments it’ll need to be discussed and you’ll need a good fucking reason for it. Clear?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll be starting you off with 5% of a contact pool for the first month. If we find you to be reliable, that number can be negotiated.”

The man started to frown, but he said nothing otherwise.

“For a little perspective, the second half of your grant is 20,000k. You’ll be making that amount for the first month and any other months if we can’t come to an agreement. All that clear?” Garnet eyed him down, watching how he acted, every little shift of the foot and twitch of his face. But the man nodded.

“Understood. We will be negotiating after the first month.”

“If you prove-”

“I will prove reliable.” He said with no hesitation, no waver in his voice. And he looked her in the eye as he said it too. Very nice. Garnet couldn’t help but give a half smile at that.

“Good.”

Without cue, Jaser threw the case at his feet, already knowing by Garnet’s body language alone what her answer was going to be. Dirt kicked up around the man’s feet as the case landed, and he bent down to pick it up.

“That’s your sample, free of charge. Use that to figure out what equipment you’ll need. When you get back to Brazil, you’ll be contacting Jasper and she’ll get you set up with the first shipment.”

The man nodded. No words. Garnet turned stoic, dropped her arms to her side.

“If you cross us, in anyway I deem it to be crossing, I’ll make you a stain on my hands and nothing else. Understood?”

“Very.” He brought the case under his arm and nodded his head at Jasper, then at Garnet. “I’ll be contacting you within the week.”

He turned and walked off. Garnet waited until he was out of sight to relax her posture, and she scratched at her neck and reached for her pocket, before letting out a silent curse when she remembered that she left her cigarettes in the car. Her foot started to tap.

“Go ahead and wire the advance to his account.”

“Gotcha.”

“Good find too. I have a nice feeling about this guy,” she turned to look at her friend. Jasper was on her phone, scrolling through something, leaning on her cane, not regarding her at all. Silence grew awkward, and Garnet grew nervous, so after a moment or two she bid her friend goodbye and left to her car before she could even say goodbye back. She breathed out hard and took a seat inside, turning it on to get the air conditioning running before the heat got any worse. She yanked her cigarettes from the cupholder and opened them, taking one out, putting it between her lips, and lighting it with a spare match she had lying on the dashboard. She breathed out grey as she leaned back against the seat, closing her eyes and letting her nerves escape along with the smoke.

Her phone rang.

She brought her flip phone for the day, something that she only made outgoing calls with, never having anyone call her on it. So she was apprehensive when she reached for it in her pocket. It came out with some effort (Her pants were really tight) and when she looked at the contact screen, a mixture of rage and anxiety flooded her. She snapped the phone open and pressed it to her ear.

“Cunt.”

“Very professional.”

Garnet took a drag of her cigarette, “Why are you calling me?”

“Just wanted to say that your first order came in and I’m very pleased. My compliments to the provider.”

“I am the provider, fuckwit.”

“So much hostility today,” Garnet could hear White Crane’s smirk. “Makes me think you’re a little frustrated about something.”

“Not at all, got touched the other day. Thanks for your concern.” The flip phone was used for the contacts of other ‘varieties’, as well. Garnet curbed her appreciation for American pubs and the pick-up culture surrounding them in favor for staying angry at the bitch on the receiver.

“You really think I won’t honor my word? Not a single thing has been looked up since our little talk. I called to let you know that the shipment came in and that I am satisfied. That is all, nothing else, no hidden language, no hidden motives, no- Oh okay, you caught me. I want to set up another meeting with you.”

The plastic of the phone creaked in her hand as her grip tightened, Garnet ground her teeth, almost crushed the cigarette between her lips. She took a drag and spoke out grey.

“For what? I'm not changing my rates.”

“Hm, coffee, a talk about our new partnership, a few more deals we can set up. The like.”

“Coffee.” Garnet growled, she leaned her seat back, staring up at the ashy roof of the car, blowing smoke from her nose. “You’re trying to take me out on a date.”

“No, I’m trying to have a talk with you over coffee.”

“How fucking cliche, next thing you’ll be telling me you want me to come over and give you head.”

“How rude of you to assume I do that on the second date.” And, she could hear the smirk in her voice. So fucking infuriating. If Garnet was there in person she would have tore it off her face a long time ago.

“Coffee, Saturday, I’ll send you the address. Come there or don’t.”

The line clicked.

To stave off some of her anger, Garnet immediately pulled the phone away from her ear and snapped it in half, tossing it to the passenger seat. She had spares. She smoked the rest of her cigarette and threw it into an ashtray built in on her console, then shifted the car into drive and took off down the street, speeding 40kph over the limit until she had the sense to calm down enough to not get pulled over.

-2-

White Cranes heels clicked against the paved ground as she made her way to the armoury, hidden behind a steel reinforced door installed years beforehand. The handle whined as she turned it, and the sound of metal scraping against wood stung her ears as she heaved the door open, showcasing the dim room, filled with racks upon racks of guns, body armor, blunt weapons, with long white folding tables in the center for set up. On those folding tables was the last of her order from Garnet, each stamped with a blue and red insignia.

She walked, traced a finger over the plastic. Blue eyes dull and half-lidded as they looked the case over.

“Bosswoman.”

The sound of Lapis’s voice came from behind her, but White Crane didn’t move to face her, instead moved her hand to clasp it behind her with the other.

“Yes?”

“Finished that new job you asked for. 10k. I’m not one to tell you your business or anything, but I think we should lie low after this; heat is on bad,” Lapis said, tousling her hand through her blue hair.

White Crane considered her words. Considered the fact that she needed that profit to sustain the deal with Garnet. “We’ll see.”

Robbery, blackmail, extortion, fraud, selling protection, embezzlement, forging, smuggling. A few ways she had employed to keep her profits in green. It had been a hectic few months, with more to come if she couldn’t convince Garnet to set her rates down (or if she couldn’t set up her own arms dealing so that she wouldn’t have to outsource) It was getting more and more frustrating by the day, and White Crane left her office with frequent headaches from it. Lapis stepped in front of her, towards a rack, whistling as she unstrapped her arms and put them in their designated spots. White Crane watched her for a moment, then decided that she wasn’t worth her time and headed out of the armoury.

Later in her office, she attempted to trace the red and blue insignia again. Fire and ice intertwined to create a almost purplish rock formation in the middle. She knew it had to be inspired from somewhere, or commissioned by some artist.  

‘She told me not to look up her information,’ White Crane thought with a smirk as she tried to reverse search again. ‘And this isn’t her information, persay.’

She searched away until she came to another dead end, and she repeated the process again until she came to another. Only then did she decided enough was enough and logged out of her computer to take a break. Briefly she scrolled through her personal phone, looking at the address she had marked. It was true that she wanted to meet Garnet for coffee, but not at a coffee shop. Too dangerous. The address lead to a small abandoned storage building that she had long repurposed for holding meetings. Only she had requested for a table and two chairs to be set up, as well as a coffee maker that made good-tasting coffee (She employed her most caffeine-addicted employee to find that one.) Nothing romantic, nothing professional either. Just enough to hopefully make the ever-anxious arms dealer comfortable enough to renegotiate.

Oh, and the pills she ordered from Doctor Maheswaran would help too. A few in her coffee should work well enough.

 

Chapter Text

Bare black pads covered the floors of the gym, catching the sweat from the various patrons as they worked with the equipment clustered far to close together. The sound of doom metal, air vents and fans running filled the air, occasionally punctured by the grunts or growls of lifters. Garnet sat off in her own corner, a white towel over her shoulder as she scrolled her thumb across her cracked phone, sitting on a bench. Her skin glistened with sweat rolling in drops down her limbs until it added to the puddle forming underneath her. She wore only black shorts and a black sports bra that hugged tight. Eyes bored on her. A part of her liked the attention, another part hated it.

She finished her mindless scrolling and slipped her phone into her pocket, slid across the bench so she laying flat on it. A barbell loaded with two 20.4 kg plates on either side sat on its rack. Garnet shifted herself into position and wrapped her calloused hands around the bar, breathing out, then breathing in and holding it as she took the bar off the rack, muscles bulging and straining, veins pressing up as she brought it down to her chest and brought it up again 6 times, then racked it.

From her side she could hear the sound of footsteps and light thumping. Breathing out, she rolled her head over to look at Jasper.

“Nice job, more than last time.”

Garnet sat up, ran a hand over her sweaty forehead, pushing a few curls that were loose out of her bun away. “How did you know I was going to be here?”

“Lucky guess,” Jasper hissed as she took a seat on the bench, laying her injured leg straight out while the other stayed bent. “You good?”

Somewhat surprised at the question, Garnet looked over, rubbing at her neck. “Yes, why?”

“You’ve been really wired lately. And I mean really wired. Just want to make sure everything is all good in your front, you know? Things been tough,” she flicked some of her hair out of her eyes and looked Garnet straight on. “You deserve a break sometime. I can take over things if you ever need me to.”

She didn’t keep her gaze for long, snorted as she played with her fingers and started to tap her foot. Craving a cigarette. “Not necessary. I’ll be fine, Jasper. I appreciate the concern.”

“You sure? I-” When she reached a hand out for her, she saw how much she tensed, and realized that now was definitely not the time to approach her with this subject. So instead Jasper dropped her hand and with great effort stood up, groaning the entire time. “Alright, Well, the offer is still there. Text me later.”

Still ever so stiff, Garnet replied yes and only that.  She watched as Jasper left, making her slow way to the doors. Leaving her behind.

Damn, she really, really wanted a cigarette.

Instead Garnet went back to lifting, finishing her last few sets, wiping the equipment down, then heading over to the pull up bars. Clanking metal followed her as she jumped onto the bars, the 20.4 kg weight she had strapped to her waist swinging as she pulled into a muscle up, then dropped down to begin her pullups. She could only get to ten before she couldn’t get her chin over the bar again, and she dropped onto the floor and unstrapped the weight, sighing as she bent down to pick it up, muscles in her back and arms rippling. She put the weight away, prepared to go for her next round at the treadmills when her phone buzzing caught her attention. She fished the object out of her pocket and looking at the caller id. If she had the ability to, she would have crushed her phone.

Answering it, she didn’t get a chance to speak.

“I hope our meeting wasn’t forgotten.”

“I never planned on going in the first place, dipshit.” Garnet growled out. A laugh on the other line.

“Not a choice to be made. I’m telling you to come.”

“Unless you’re kneeled down with your tongue shoved inside me, you have no business telling me to come. Leave me the fuck alone,” her words caught the attention of a few patrons. A quick glare made them realize that minding their own business was far safer. Garnet started walking, lowering her voice. “It was a choice before.”

“And now it’s not. This is a deal we need to talk about. More money for you.”

That last bit got her attention, but she wasn’t planning on falling for a ploy by White Crane that easily.

“Right,” she almost hung up, but resisted as she headed out of the gym and into the parking lot, looking for her car.

“Yes, right. You like the taste of my money, don’t you?”

“I like not seeing you even more,” opening her car door, she hissed at the burning leather seats. She was quick to put her keys into the ignition and twist them getting the air conditioner started. Shuffling her hand into the doors pocket, she found her pack of Marlboro’s and yanked a cigarette out, holding the phone between her shoulder and her ear.

“Still, I want you to come.”

“Desperate much?” Lit her cigarette and took a long drag, feeling her nerves calm. “How many times do I need to tell you to fuck-” The line went dead. Garnet glanced at her phone and scoffed, tossing it to the passenger seat. She hesitated before shifting the car into reverse though, glancing at the phone. A sigh. Picking up her phone, she found the text that had been sent a while back to it, after she blocked White Crane on her disposables. The address wasn’t too far from where she was now. She looked down at herself, wearing shorts and a sports bra only.

“Fuck it, if she wants me that bad then she can deal with this.”

She reversed out of her spot and began to drive, heading for the listed address.

--

It could easily be described as a larger-than-average storage shed more than anything. The inside was all plain aged wood paneling and blocked rafters. The table was a simple white fold out that dominated the center of the storage, with a metal chair on either side of it. Directly in the center was her coffee pot, and White Crane was working on making the coffee when she heard the door behind her open.

“Glad to see you could join-” Her mouth went very dry at the sight of the arms dealer, shirtless, revealing hardened muscle, scars, and inked tattoos, some old, some newer. Garnet scoffed at her reaction as she circled around the table, but even in the low lighting of the shed, she could see a hint of red on her cheeks.

“I take it you never seen a woman shirtless before,” a statement more than a question as she took her seat. White Crane shook herself out of it and started on the coffee again. Careful to make sure that everything was in view of her, from the pouring of the bottled waters into the pot, to the inside of the coffee packet while she spooned in a few scoops into the maker. She wanted to make sure that the arms dealer’s nerves were soothed. And she knew that it could be done by allowing her to see everything was doing.

“Not one with a six pack.”

The grounds, the water, untampered.

“How do you take yours?”

“With two sugars.”

“I only have the packets.”

Garnet sneered. “Whatever. That’s fine.”

But not the sugar, nor the creamer.

Two valiums were dissolved in the creamer. And one was grounded into powder and added to each sugar packet that were later resealed. She took those two out of the pile she had near the maker, shaking them. A few silent minutes between them, and when the coffee was made she poured her cup first and then Garnet’s, adding the sugars in. Made sure it was in her view. It would be a while before the pills soothed her nerves for her, after all.

White Crane passed the coffee over and took a sip of her own, not taking her eyes off Garnet as she studied it, checking the handle and the bottom of the cup. Then taking a sip.

White Crane smirked into her cup.

“So, the deal I wanted to set up-”
“Gets me more money.”

“Yes,” White Crane leaned her elbows on the table. A casual gesture, paired with her casual attire, in hopes to make this a casual meeting. The sleeves of her white formal blouse ruffled to her elbows as she leaned further forward. “I’m sure the prospect excited you, seeing as you came here in pyjamas.”

Garnet grunted, sipped her coffee. “Workout clothes. I decided you weren’t special enough for me to change.”

“Am I not? A pity,” White Crane couldn’t help but roam her eyes over the arms dealer’s shoulders and arms. Her shoulders were like boulders, biceps the almost size of a baseball, a vein jutting against her skin to trail to the pit of her elbow and disappear.  With each movement of her finger she could see a muscle move in her forearm; White Crane almost gave a nod of approval, but she stopped herself before she could.

She could see Garnet getting uncomfortable- shifting around and trying to wrap her arms around herself.  White Crane pretended to be interested in the coffee packet.

“I assume that you are more of a fan of tea in England.”

“What?”

White Crane shifted her eyes towards her, raising her eyebrow. “England? You come from there?”

Garnet sneered and sat back, taking a large sip of coffee. “I’m from Scotland, dick.”

“Ah. The accent threw me off.”

Garnet only shrugged and sipped her coffee again.  “What’s this deal you want to discuss?”

“I want to increase my orders. I need more than what you are providing now,’ she saw her frown. “Or would that be a problem?”
“You’re already stretching me with the shipments you want now. Your offer better be fucking high.”

“How many marks do you have on your side? I’ll match that.”

Trailing across her obliges were small tally marks, 6 rows of them. White Crane saw the muscles ripple as Garnet lifted her arm up to look at them.

“49,” Her gaze turned back to her. “You’re going to match that?”

White Crane scoffed, “That’s all?”

A grin stretched ear to ear across her face. “No, that’s when I stopped caring to count.” She dropped her arm. “49,000 still isn’t double though.”

“Give me another price then,” White Crane had to resist a smile when she saw Garnet finish off her coffee and eye the pot, contemplating another cup. She gestured to it with her hand. “Care for another?”

Garnet nodded.

Twenty minutes of discussion and they breached a new deal, with the number given beforehand doubled with the same rates as the last deal. White Crane didn’t fret about it though. This wasn’t the deal she was looking to make, after all. A smirk drew across her lips when she saw Garnet’s eyes droop again, her head lolling down. She snapped out of it, wide-eyed, hands moving to grab the table. She reached for her coffee cup and drank from it.

“Apologies, didn’t get a lot of sleep last night,’ clearing her throat, Garnet finished off her cup. “Are we done here?”

“I’m very curious, you know-” White Crane leaned back and crossed her arms. “How did you get into this business anyway?”

There was a blank look in Garnet’s eyes, one that told that the drugs had taken effect some time ago. She waited with almost-bated breath to see whether or not they did their work in loosening her tongue.

“Don’t really remember,” Garnet’s chair creaked as she leaned back. She tried to grab her cup but her coordination was off and she knocked it over instead, stared at it with mild shock.

“You don’t?”

“Nah- uh, no. Hm-m,” Garnet tried for her cup again even though it was empty. Through her eyes White Crane could see some bits of consciousness peeking through. It wouldn’t be long before she figured out what was done to her.

“What got you into crime in the first place?”

“Agh, everyone’sh shtory,” she was beginning to slur, “piece of shut parentsh who took out their prablems on me sho I took them out on evryone el-“ Garnet stopped talking, blinking as she stared down at her cup. “You drugged me.”

“I did?” White Crane pretended to look surprised. “I thought you said you were tired?”

“You-“ Garnet knocked the chair away from her, getting up on wobbly feet. She braced herself along the table as she circled around it, murder in her eyes and lips twisted into a hideous snarl. But White Crane wasn’t intimidated. Her legs wobbled too much and her chest already heaved with exerted breaths. She sat back and admired the arms dealer’s impressive body instead. By time she got near her, her energy was spent, and Garnet fell to her knees, one arm still up on the table in her attempt to keep herself from falling all the way down.

“Not so tough now, huh?” adding insult to the injury. White Crane stood up and cracked her knuckles, pushing her chair in and fixing her dress shirt and trouser. Garnet sat on her knees, glaring up at her while attempting to fight off the drowsiness.

“I’ll break-”

A kick to her chest sent her falling over and gasping for breath, hands flailing to catch herself on the floor. White Crane getting on top of her didn’t help her lack of air, and her seizing her hands and cuffing them with a pair of handcuffs she had hidden in her trousers didn’t help her throw her off.

White Crane ran her hands up and down Garnet’s stomach, feeling the muscles tense under her touch. Smirked at the trace of fear in the arms dealer’s eyes.
“You seem tired, love. Shall we get you to a bed?”

As if on cue, the door opened and three of her men walked in, trailing behind White Crane. She stood up and backed away, allowing them to grab the arms dealer, who thrashed and struck out with her legs as best as she could. A well aimed kick knocked the front teeth out of one, and an elbow gave another a black eye, but try as she might the guards got Garnet under control and carried her out, with White Crane trailing right behind her.

“I wouldn’t worry if I were you,’ she spoke out. Garnet twisted her head back to glare at her. “You won’t be harmed, I just want some more questions answered, and a renegotiation.”

Tried as she might to speak, Garnet’s tongue felt too fat for her mouth, unconscious creeping up on her more and more and darkening her vision even as she tried to keep her eyes open. The last thing the arms dealer saw was White Crane’s smiling face as she traveled a hand up her shorts and stroked it across her thigh.