It was hot. Thailand hot. Hot enough that the air felt wet, and heavier then it usually was with the thick smog that wrapped around Roanapur in the industrial parts. It bounced right off the roads, a fucked-up mirage shimmering in the distance. The summer was the weeks of white-hot heat waves, humid evenings and lazier-than-usual crime. Rock even busted out his cargo shorts. Dutch remained unflappable as ever.
Revy had made the staggering pilgrimage to the church from the company car she managed to borrow for lack of a better word; in such a temperature Benny remained fast asleep in front of the blue light of his computer. Normally he'd try to slip out to see Jane, but the keys to Revy's surprise were strewn across the kitchen counter. The red Plymouth had faded tan seats, blessedly, but the leather burned the back of her thighs all the same.
If she stayed back at the apartment Dutch would have dragged everyone out to help clean up the sundered and desecrated dock. While in hindsight it was enjoyable to spend long hours in the cool sea that reflected her annoyed face back at her; after two days Revy grew exhausted from repetitive motion of collecting the shards of wood that floated close to the shore. The pillars that supported such a long structure were splintered like messily cut down trees, and their boat appeared naked floating by itself. She wanted to get drunk and sleep in.
When Revy groaned at such a task Dutch had simply replied something about the spirit of renewal, tossing the water-logged pieces into a pile.
And they ran out of decent alcohol, but everybody swore they had made the trip last time, and thus the designated spot in the fridge remained empty. Revy would pull the white door open, repeatedly, like she expected a beer to materialize out of the air.
Shifting into park, she unstuck her legs and heaved herself out, roughly flicking the keys out of the ignition. The palm trees cast long shadows across the lot, bending along the structure of the church, but offering little in shade. Even the grass wilted in the harsh sun, an electric shade of green.
Men in sacerdotal robes were seen unloading more bricks of cocaine from a rusted truck; the driver leaning against the hood, smoking a cigarette. Everyday there was another shipment of drugs, overpriced and possibly even diluted. Then there were the weapons Chang graciously allowed, but nothing was as grandiose as the Desert Eagle Yolanda managed to carry around.
Even the three minute walk up to the building was agonizing, like a forced march. The wound in her leg had healed well enough after two months of hobbling around, but the ache remained. Palming the keys in her jean pocket, Revy cupped a hand over her eyes to be able to make out the oasis that would be the church's air conditioning.
"It fucking stinks of weed out here Eda, let me the fuck in," Revy rapped on the door, her voice loud enough to make the priests in the yard glance in her direction. The men didn't bat an eye at her anymore, after the first gunfight Eda and Revy had at the church they no longer questioned anything.
Silence. Hearing a lack of fast foot steps, Revy mopped her sunburnt forehead with her tank top, and in a fit of rage, punched the hard door.
"Eda, open this fucking door now or I swear to Jesus Christ I'll-"
It was a few seconds before the oak door swung towards her quick, right to her reddened face. Revy was knocked down to her ass on the hard ground and almost fell flat on her back. She gripped the bridge of her pulsing nose with two fingers, feeling the bone. She'd realized a long time before that Eda was quieter than her swaggering walk made her seem, quicker too. "Eda! You fucking bitch!"
"Wha- Sorry! I didn't know your huge ass head was right there! What the fuck were you doing?!" Eda spat out a wad of chewing tobacco, wiping her mouth. She smelled like she previously had a glass of alcohol. The faint lines around her eyes tightened at the intrusion of light.
"Fucking shit! It's twelve and you're already getting wasted?" Revy's fingers fluttered along her cupid's bow, feeling for any blood dripping down.
"It's hot! Get your ass in here before the fucking heat seeps in!"
Revy scrambled to her feet, wiping the dust off her as she sluggishly entered, back bent. Her clothes were stuck to her skin, a blotch of sweat seeping through the back of her tank top, her armpits wet. The back of her thighs felt even worse; the belt wrapped around her shorts rubbed against her bare skin. Now she was regretting not diving for planks.
"You smell like shit," Eda complained, leading her deeper into the church, past the pews and towards the altar. Light poured from the stained glass windows, illuminating baby Jesus and Mary's serene faces. There were no candles lit, no flickering of the old lights. Just cool darkness, and it took a good minute for Revy's eyes to adjust to the light.
"Fuck you too," Revy eyed the pews. Even hard wood seemed like a decent place to pass out. Her boots thundered loudly in the empty hall, everybody appeared to be outside dealing with the merchandise; money always had to be made.
"We've got bourbon, the shitty kind admittedly, but I mean it's better then the fucking tap water we get out here."
"Wasn't there a dead animal in your water supply? And you all literally fuckin', drank it for how long?" Revy questioned, raising an eyebrow while a smirk played on her chapped lips.
"It was a rat. And besides, you haven't told me about you and lover-boy." Eda replied, drawling out the end of her sentence. Revy felt a sense of familiar dread run down her spine, starting from the back of her neck to her tailbone. It coiled in her stomach and all the blood in her body rushed to her heart. Rock. Oh, fuck. The nun let out a laugh, and Revy gambled that the agony she felt appeared on her sweaty face.
"I washed my hands in that shit! I drank it!" Revy replied instead, lips curling in disgust. The burgundy strands of her hair fell down along the sides of her face before she wiped it back, calloused fingers tucking the hair behind her ears. Her limp ponytail dragged across the red-hot sunburn on her shoulders. The humidity made her hair wavy, and the lack of washing it certainty didn't improve things but it was hot, and what's the point if she was going to get sweaty again anyway.
They both pulled up a chair to both sides of the altar, the scraping sound of the legs on the artisanal wood floor making Eda wince. One talk from Yolanda about marking the floors had set Eda on edge, as Revy learned.
"Are you sure you didn't spit it out because of the fact you never drink any water? I think if you actually had a real ass glass you'd fucking pass out," The nun's voice echoed strangely in the open space, the flat coolness of the air making her words ring louder.
"It tasted like fucking death, and I've eaten garbage that tasted better!" Revy's tongue wet her lips at the sight of the alcohol before her, crinkling her sore nose.
"Back to the task at hand..." Eda gave a sharp-toothed grin, pouring Revy a small glass, the beads of moisture running down the bottle and dripping onto the waxed table. "Whet my appetite. How's he doing? Any new girls in his life?"
"I don't know," Revy mumbled, catching the glass as it slid towards her. The liquor was a comforting shade of brown, like the soda she'd drink as a kid. "Rock's been busying it up with Mr. Chang for some fucking reason. He's never worked with him too much before, but fuck I know, right?"
"You know, there's a ton of shit you can get in life if you're willing to submit to like, the horror of just simply asking for it." Eda stated, her lighthearted tone dampening the implications.
"Asking for what?" Revy fidgeted in her chair. She held the glass up to her mouth, cupping her hands around it to feel the coldness seep into her skin.
"I'm asking. Did you fuck him already? You gave me the shittiest answer I've ever heard in my life last time. Japan. Remember? You're just gonna hold out on me like-" Eda narrowed her eyes, leaning forward, lips touching her own glass to take a small sip.
"There's nothing to say, bitch." Revy downed the glass instead of offering an answer, a real one, not just a shitty side step to hide her mortification.
"Hah! You're blushing!"
"There wasn't a lot of fucking time- we were doing so much shit for Hotel Moscow, Sis was a fucking maniac-"
"SIS?!" Eda let out a guttural, deep laugh. She leaned back, hand on her chest as she cackled, liquid sloshing in her cup. "What, did she teach you to ride a bike or something? Hm, she pushed you on a swing?"
She remembered the stunt Rock pulled in Japan, a stunt that was too bold to be described as a mere hobby. A brave attempt to spare Yukio, a damn high school girl. She was young, and stupid, and thrown into a world that at her age would appear incomprehensible. She was in love too- Ginji, Jumbo- whatever his name was, who towered above her- whenever Yukio would look in his general direction a softness filled her brown eyes, a surrender. All that horror was for love. Rock truly did put his neck out on the line- despite the hanging knowledge that Balalaika didn't enjoy loose ends. The Russian hadn't even met Yukio. There was nothing that could appeal her to Yukio's humanity.
But Balalaika threw him on the car, wrenched her arm back and tossed him by his jacket, hard, onto the hood and held him there. Her hips pressed tight to him, his leg between her legs and she towered over him, gun near pressed against his cheek and he's struggling, and Revy's panicking. Her guns twitch in her hands and she's trembling, eyes wide and her mouth almost fell open. The situation was hopeless. Boris had his gun pointed straight at her, face stoic like a marble slab.
She wanted to kill the both of them. If Rock died it all ended, she'd go hysterical. Her pointer fingers danced on the triggers, soft tapping on the metal barely dragged her out of her own head.
If there was an ounce of fear in Boris, he didn't show it. The gun in his hand pointed directly at her head, the arm still.
When the Russian had uttered her name so glacially, Revy felt her body stiffen at the remark, so much so she could only repeat her words and beg her to shut up, shut up now. Her voice trembled, and the sense of being flayed- of being cut open, and hands digging into the ancient, open wounds wrapped tight around every vein.
"Uh, hello, Revy, I'm talking to you." Sharp sounds of fingers snapping ripped Revy out of her head, the glazed look over her eyes dying with a few quick blinks. The drink was still in her hand, droplets of water running between her fingers, dripping slowly onto the table. Lifting the maybe-clean glass to her mouth, she took a deep gulp, licking what remained on her lips while setting the glass back down.
"Shit, I was thinking of when we had a fucking Mexican stand off sort of shit. Rock couldn't keep his fucking mouth shut."
"Yeah, yeah. Him and that mouth huh?" Eda threw her head back, downing the rest of her drink with a satisfied gulp. "You ask your sissy for relationship advice? Ain't Fryface surrounded by those giants-"
"We kissed." Revy interrupted, thankful for the sunburn that that stretched down her face. She crossed her legs and glanced at the ground. Her shoulders slumped, a silent white flag waving in the distance. Another deep, refreshing sip, despite that godawful flavor.
"Who?" Eda peered over the edge of her glasses, eyebrows raised. Her hand paused holding the bourbon, a wet ring left where it once stood.
"Rock, dumbass! Who else!"
"Uh, thank God? How was he!" It was more a command than a question.
Rock had helped her out of their hotel and towards the airport, half carrying her. She'd been so drugged up from the pain medication she could barely function, and every movement of her torn leg cause spikes of torment to rippled through her body. His arm, warm despite the colder weather, and she clutched to him. Gripping at his shirt, her hat hung low in front of her eyes, and only let go once he obtained her crutches. But Revy didn't want to let go, and at the turn of his head to her she thrust her mouth to his, tasting the tea he drank twenty minutes ago.
"Fuck, why did you look?" She mumbled into his lips, eyes sliding shut. Rock didn't have an answer for her, pulling away. More questions stirred in her head, but she was so exhausted she couldn't voice them properly. Why the hell did you look? Did you get you wanted? Did you become even more fucking jaded then you were already becoming? What's happening to you? What's happening to us?
Revy scratched her head. She didn't know what to say to Eda, how to explain it without coming off as a little kid, pawing at Rock in a moment of pained desperation, a pathetic attempt at comfort.
"It was uh, it was good? It was a fucking- It was a kiss, alright?! It was after my leg was fucking stabbed." Revy finished off her glass and slammed it down.
Revy wondered if the strands of Balalaika's blonde hair scraped Rock's cheek. If she felt warm, or cold, or how tight her grip was. All pressure and stillness and no release. Or how her lips looked pulled back in an insane smirk. And maybe the blood lust in her eyes: it didn't matter if she flirted or enjoyed Rock as her interpreter, he could become an obstacle. Revy had felt desperate. It was all a game to Balalaika.
Another thought slithered into her mind, the memory of them at breakfast. They'd all sat together at some western restaurant, humorously, Balalaika wasn't willing to try anything that resembled Japanese cuisine. Balalaika, lips around her cigar, declared they could order whatever they wanted. Boris ordered a cup of coffee, black, while Balalaika and Rock ordered tea. The waitress' smile drooped a bit once she looked at Balalaika, eyes widening at the scar that scaled down the woman's face. Revy knew that look; she'd had the same one when she saw the Russian for the first time.
Revy paused once the waitress turned to her, black pen gripped tight to the notebook in her hand.
"I did say you could order whatever you wanted, Two Hands. Just because we all ordered drinks doesn't mean you must do the same." Balalaika tilted her mouth into her cigar, a slow exhale of smoke floated from her parted lips. Her closed lids opened, her blue, scarily blue, eyes at Revy. Balalaika's gaze caught Revy, who did another once-over on the menu.
"I'll have uh, toast, and same tea as him." She jutted her chin at Rock who was beside her.
Balalaika bent her head towards her throat, eyes glancing quick at the waitress and back at Revy. The corners of Balalaika's lips were upturned, eyes crinkling. The tense posture she held before relaxed. The flattened look of confusion on Revy's face made humored her. Smile as only she was able too, anyway. Revy had never seen an honest to god I-am-happy smile appear on the blonde's face. Not after whatever the fuck happened in Afghanistan, anyway.
The hand Revy had under the table on her lap tightened into a fist, as she gave the cream-colored menu to the waitress. "Please."
Balalaika's expression didn't change, her cigar now balanced between her teeth. Her eyes seemed to scan Revy's face, from her forehead to her flexing jaw. Boris quietly caught her attention to the documents he brought out, and they began a subdued conversation in Russian.
A blush spread across Revy's cheeks and forehead. She felt watched, and to her anger, seen.
Rock was too smart for his own good, that's why. It was a real blessing, but a torturous curse. He told Revy he didn't get the best marks in school, he was average and she guessed in Japan that's a death sentence. The highest grade she ever got was in sixth grade. It was an eighty-one on a quiz in multiplication. After a long walk home, Revy'd considered putting it up on the fridge, like the kids do in movies. It remained there for weeks, abandoned. Eventually in a fit of rage Revy had torn it up.
"Just one kiss?! Well, that's one step for you. Didn't think you had it in ya," Eda had already poured herself another glass, and reached over to refill Revy's glass. "Drink up. You look like you fucking need it,"
"My nose still fucking hurts. If you broke it-" Revy's head swam. The bourbon was shit, tasted like shit, and made her feel like absolute shit. A sick sense of comfort arose whenever she took another sip. Chugging it, really. She didn't want to entertain any more thoughts of Rock, his mouth on hers, and especially Sis. Supporting herself on an elbow, she glared at Eda, who yawned and leaned her head back.
"What? Like your ass was going to be in a beauty pageant?"
"You keep running your damn mouth and I'll break your fucking nose too." Revy brought the glass up to her mouth and saw that she'd already drank what Eda had poured her. She wasn't drunk yet, especially not after a few glasses, but it was on the horizon, ready to cross the threshold.
Don't ever hope to have a life like his. What type of life did she have now?