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It Will Come Back

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Fuck . Stop it. Just take a fucking breather, it’s not as bad as it fucking sounds quit being a pansy-” She tugged her hands through tangled hair, repeating low words to herself as if it would change any single thing. A pathetic lullaby that didn’t calm her down. She wasn’t sure what to feel- angry, shocked, or morbidly, disgustingly flattered. Revy’s feet hit unsteadily into the yellow sand, scuffing the grains and shells and rocks until she reached where it flattened out from when the waves stretched far.

Benny had explained carefully, more cautious than sad. Any sort of depression was lacking in his tone, only a vague notion of acceptance, like he was waiting for it to only get worse. And it had, Revy realised, after the dust had settled within the apartment; Rock and Dutch looked on as she was told.

“Shit, where do I start? Last night, all of Janet’s outposts… offices... all of it, set ablaze. Almost destroyed a neighborhood, near the uh, east one.” Benny sucked on a cigarette, breathing out smoke then doing it again. “All one night, huh? Isn’t that damn insane, Revy? Like her existence is being erased from the history books. Shit, can’t I get a break from this? For one day? Is this supposed to make me feel better?”

Yet it didn’t seem like anything in Roanapur had changed. The sounds of the city remained the same, the outside appearing normal and the amount of gunfire going off was the same as it was yesterday, and the day before that. Her stomach twisted and she had set down her cereal, abandoning the milk on the counter as her spoon clattered into the bowl.

“So…. they’re all dead?” Revy had blearily questioned, sweat beading on her forehead.

Benny had shrugged, silently debating with himself before answering. “I guess, so, yeah. Fuck, this is so… strange . Some days I try to forget, it won’t do any good to keep mulling this shit over. She’s dead, y’know? I get it, that’s how life works. Janet did shit I knew would come back to bite her. Hard. But it’s like it doesn’t want me to let go.”

A few times she had debated on going to the corner store, where they had a miserably small rack of cards, for birthdays and anniversaries and holidays, and most likely a few for death. A sorry for your loss glossed across a thin card that Revy could slide under his door. The idea was so laughable she had snorted into her beer. Maybe they were always sold out.

Rock cut in, worriedly as he usually did. Despite being willing to be thrust into hellfire, his grey heart still held good intentions. “Could this be because of her dealings before?” Her death. Revy could have admired his uncharacteristic tactlessness.

“Honestly? Going off of that guy I spoke to a couple days go, absolutely. Who Ja- they pissed off, they acted fast. And who do we think acts like that?” Benny replied, blinking back into the present. His tangent over, he dropped the cigarette butt into a filthy ashtray and lit up another.

Dutch had tapped his chin, a crumbing-paged book in his lap. “There’s a lot of potential enemies out here. Especially because of who she rubbed elbows with, Benny. We’re not gonna wage a damn war with some massive power.” He had glanced at Revy in a passing manner.

She huffed, eyes narrowing. “You’d have to be… fucking stupid. They’d kill you, Benny.”

“Am I another one of Janet’s loose ends they need to clean up?” Benny chuckled.

Dutch finished his coffee and set the chipped mug on the table, one hand keeping the book from flipping closed. “They would’ve got you already, Benny, if whoever-the-hell wanted you dead.”

“I always told her to watch herself. Even then she still thought she could get away with… well, murder.” Benny said, a longing lilt at the end. He sipped his own black coffee in an old mug that had an image of an amusement park faded across. How Benny could be casual yet grieving at the same time was a mystery to Revy. She knew him well enough to know he was not taking it well, as any normal person should, yet he held up his usual affable personality. “One of my drinking buddies was right. It’s easy to strike up a relationship, but the hard part is, fuck, letting go.”

“Yeah.” Revy agreed thoughtlessly.

Rock frowned. “Judging by last night, I’m thinking whether they’ll strike an area again…”

“Doesn’t this reek as a grand finale to you, Rock?” Dutch responded quietly, working on half of a cigarette.

“An action this brutal…” Rock trailed off, minding his words, adjusting his tie, chewing on the inside of his cheek. Gears were turning in his head. They wouldn’t grind to a stop until he made a decision.

“I’ll have to sit here, not knowing crap about her death, and this whole cleansing of her business? What the hell, man.” Benny leaned his head back on the couch, shutting his eyes for a brief moment, collecting himself. He glanced at Revy with a slice of humor in his eyes. “You keep an eye out too, will ya’?”

The tension peaked drastically at the quietness. Revy wiped at her hair, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. She wanted to throw up from him merely including her presence; the three inquisitive men looked her way. She tapped her fingers on the counter, forced to return the stare. “Yeah, yeah I’ll do that, Benny. This shit sucks .” And she meant the last part, but she couldn’t put what she was feeling into words that didn’t start or end with I’m sorry I fucking did this but-

Revy heard their voices pause, again, like any move she made was dangerous, as the screen door swished shut behind her. Abandoning her breakfast, she slipped out while they were preoccupied with their theories that would lead nowhere, if Balalaika had been careful, which she always was, until she wasn’t. Her work wasn’t full of holes and mistakes; not a thing had been obvious, Revy thought frantically, however this would be permanent. Evil sometimes appeared to be good. This was a good action. It was good. It was good . Black runs into white and it doesn’t turn murky. Janet’s organization was going to destroy them both, over time, like that Buddha statue that stands neglected in the ocean, face so worn down that a few people mistake it for something else entirely. 

It was going to happen eventually. It wasn’t her fault, Janet would have found out anyway, she would have. She was too smart, and Balalaika hated people who thought themselves to be clever than her.

Without thinking, she had headed towards the beach, not knowing where else she could go without being reminded. The outposts must have been made in rubble by now. Revy clenched her teeth and fists as she walked, sand brushing her ankles until she hit where she was currently standing, wind pushing back her bangs. She wrinkled her eyes in the sun and watched the boats bob far out, anxiousness twisting inside. Minutes passed as she stood, muscles twitching, ready, but everyone she had wanted to throw herself at was dead. Janet wasn’t alive anymore and here was Benny dealing with the consequences alone.

Boots shoveled through the sand behind her, and Revy hoped it wasn’t Rock, or even worse, Benny, with his confused eyes and running on his third coffee. Sucking in her lips, she turned to see Dutch walking past her, his sights set on the dock. He didn’t acknowledge her, instead directing himself towards the boat with a toolbox in hand.

“We’ve got a job at twelve,” Dutch called to her. Benny’s Hawaiian shirt caught her eye in the driveway, leaning in and retrieving an item from the Plymouth. Dutch’s voice had her eyes snapping to him again. “Best hurry and get ready.”

With trepidation she began to follow him. Sluggishly, then with a purpose, verging on stomping through the sand, one foot after the other keeping her steady.

The entire job consisted of keeping an eye out for any boats following them after shoving boxes into their cargohold, with Revy atop the P.T. and watching with anticipation for a chase. A boat shining silver watched from afar. She wasn’t that confident in her ability to aim twenty yards out with her cutlasses, fingers twitching in desire. Desire for what? To see bodies being pushed to the floor by the force of a bullet, and for it to bring a rush over her and make her forget for one, two seconds. It was doable, realistic, eventual when she saw the boat edge closer, men hanging over the edge, assault rifles in hand.

Dutch didn’t explain who necessarily the attackers came from- he instead mentioned what they needed to transport, how they might get intercepted at some point. They had picked up the delivery at a half- abandoned shipyard, a few men helping it into the hold, another slipping Dutch half of the payment speaking in a low voice.

Near the mouth of a port where it was requested they’d leave them, a few more mercenaries lurked near a dock, half hidden until Revy launched herself off, one knee hitting dusty wood as she fired. Where they dropped the mere five boxes of cargo off, her arms bracing as she pushed them out, had a large puddle of either dried oil or blood on the concrete ground, which they all walked over numerous times. As they pulled out of the harbor, Revy sipped a self-congratulatory beer and thought of a dead dog.

The sky was a polluted orange when their boat pulled into its own dock; the melting sun hidden behind their apartment. Revy used the bottom of her tank to mop the sweat running down her hairline, then pressing the fabric between her breasts to wipe the perspiration collected there. Rock loosened his tie after signing a few pages of paperwork; Benny and Dutch sweating in the cockpit.

Oil was under her fingernails and her gloves had stopped blisters from ripping up her palms. Blood flecked her arm and splashed across one calf. She reeked enough to where she herself shuddered, deciding to sit atop the boat and stare out at the rippling expense of the sea, going from a jewel-toned cerulean to wine-dark and she ground her teeth.

“We haven’t talked in a while, haven’t we?” Rock said from behind her, stepping up out of the cabin. The wind pushed his hair back from his youthful face, appearing as he always did, dressed in businessman casual that called back to a simpler life.

She wondered if he had to enjoy some of it. Revy turned her head and caught him in her vision, him shuffling to the side a bit as she spoke. “Heh, funny you say that, aren’t you replacing Biu? Or am I talking to the fucking wrong people?”

Wrong people ,” Rock scoffed with a slight smile, hand in his pocket, shaking his head. “Since when have there been any kind of right people?”

“What about the crew, jackass?” Her stoic reply lasted for a spare second before Revy chuckled dryly, eyes crinkling in the sun. She wiped at a teardrop of sweat dripping down her cheekbone.

Rock blanched before finding it humorous, the crease between his brows smoothing out. He tossed a green can at her, it shining obscenely metallic green as she caught it. Revy’s fingers locked around the frost, fingernails biting into the metal, her mouth growing wet.

“About time one of you brought a damn beer out.” Revy muttered, hiding the thankfulness in her eyes.

“I figured you had drank them all.” Rock’s smile faded. “Since, yeah… this whole mess.”

Revy twisted away, facing the dark water, gnawing on the inside of her cheek. She popped open the beer and took a long drink, amber drops running from the can’s mouth and staining her upper chest.

Rock coughed behind her. “It seemed like before there was something you wanted to say. Benny’s hard to talk to, I get it, but I’m not. You know that.”

“Yeah I fucking know, you think I’m dumb or something?” She replied under her breath, the can wrinkling from her tight grip. She set her elbows on her bent knees and bent her back, as if protecting the tight ball of truth in her chest.

“Why’d you leave after hearing about Janet’s organization? You’ve got an idea of who it is, don’t you.” Rock said, determined for all the right reasons.

“I don’t ,” Revy snapped, twisting her head around. “I don’t fucking rub elbows with the fucking old heads, not like you , always around Chang and always so busy . Well, Janet’s dead, fuck, ashes, who fucking-“ she swallowed another rough sip, coughing before shaking her head, words coming out hoarse. “-she’s gone, and you think this is gonna bring her back?”

He sighed, waiting a spare moment to speak, shoes tapping on the metal, voice growing louder. “It’ll give Benny some sort of closure. I mean, it would for me , for anyone. He deserves that much. Can’t you find some sort of what, pity in your heart?”

“Oh, fuck you Rock. Don’t go on telling me about fucking pity. Don’t go around pretending to be his therapist or whatever. But, fuck, I suppose it would, shit. Can he hear us debating all this crap?”

“He’s down with Dutch. I doubt it.” Rock came closer until he stood beside her sitting form. “It’s too perfect, Revy, cleaning it all up like this?”

Revy’s heart froze. Questions were waiting to be asked and left unanswered between the both of them and she could barely handle it. “Cleaning it up?”

“Yes. First killing Janet, then that guy who visited Benny a few days ago dying… then this?”

“Shit, it’s really not-”

Rock jingled keys in his right pocket. Glancing at him in annoyance, she found him thinking hard, sweat-slicked hair ruffling in the breeze. The sky’s dying color made his skin appear tan. He returned the look, and he didn’t pull away. “What I’m saying is it’s professional, Revy, whoever did this had a plan and executed it in a way that no regular gangster could. It can’t just end like this.”

“I didn’t give a shit about that bitch,” Revy muttered. Sighing, she let the beer drop from her chilled fingers. “Don’t like seeing Benny like this, though. Fuck, Rock, just let it go for fucking once, will ya? Thinking like this will get you thrown on another damn car again , you’re pissing me off.”

The gaze between them didn’t drop. “I saw her, Janet, when we first found her. These guys- her guys, talking about pale blonde hair floating to the surface and that was hoe she was discovered. She looked like every drowned corpse but, we knew her, Revy, unwilling or not.”

“Well.” Revy swallowed roughly, throat flexing in irritation, swallowing imagined glass. Was it at night? Were they on a boat? Did they think to push air into her chest if she was alive? Was she wearing a nice dress? Was the moon so bright it acted like a searchlight itself? “You can carry on this fucking pointless investigation. I’m not gonna be your gun for this.”

And she wasn’t going to be ever again. Or so she tried to convince herself. Revy finally broke away, hating the blush crawling up her neck.

Rock stood beside her for a mere moment before turning away, his footsteps quiet yet thundering to Revy anyway, her eyes half lidded as she clenched the metal can in a tight fist. The sun dipped into the ocean, inch by inch, relaxing the strain on her squinting eyes. Hand twitching, she dug into her pocket and brandished her phone, flipping it open and found it to be dead.

When the boat was tied up at the port, Revy stalked off up to the apartment, boots grinding into the sand as she went, useless cell phone in hand, sweat running down her back and her guns needed ammunition. Tongue peaking out to lick her top lip, Revy took a glance back at the three men still on the dock. Benny was just heading up while Dutch and Rock stood still in conversation. She felt too strange to stay behind.

Closing the screen door behind her, Revy walked through the empty, hot, dead-silent living quarters with the windows shut tight. She tossed her harness, guns still inside, onto her bare mattress and kicked her boots off. She took a second to touch the drawer where Balalaika’s undergarment was, where the white shirt was, where the folder was supposed to be. Turning swiftly, Revy snatched the phone off her bed and plugged the charger in to hard the plastic squeaked. She threw it onto her dresser, pulling her hair loose, and exited her bedroom; shutting the door behind her as she heard Rock’s voice coming closer from outside the apartment, stairs creaking as everyone returned.

Revy entered the bathroom and locked it fast behind her, thumb pressing into the aged metal lock. Not bothering to cast a glance at the mirror, she stripped nude and entered the shower, twisting the knob and cold water tapped her skin.

A man’s head expanding from the front, eyes bulging out, like a frog when his skull is blown to pieces. Two shots to a woman’s neck. Another man flipping over a table, limbs limp. Revy’s brow furrowed as she thought of yesterday, massaging soap into her filthy hair. She focused hard on the massacre Eda and her had started, and waited to feel any single emotion. But she didn’t care , it had felt like work to her and she had stopped feeling jaded-wrapped shock so long ago; it felt like a complete dream of an emotion. Then her mind slipped to Balalaika and she didn’t know what to feel, and it angered her beyond belief.

Scrubbing herself until her tanned skin glowed pink and rinsing the suds out of her hair, Revy shut the shower off with a hard flick of her wrist and stepped out. Puddles of water were left under her feet. She put a towel around herself and nervously stepped into the hallway, awaiting any sort of dialogue.

The television was flickering sanguine colors, bright flames shining off of the coffee table, staining the couch. An actress spoke from the old speakers inaudibly and Benny chuckled from the kitchen.

Revy crossed the hallway into her bedroom, and mindlessly went to her phone as if it was pulling her towards the dresser. A voicemail blinked on screen. With hesitation Revy held the cell to an ear, eyes bugging out and hair dripping droplets down the phone’s plastic and her neck.

Two Hands ,” Balalaika’s voice greeted, huskily from the phone. “ Call me back at your earliest convenience.

Revy’s stomach fluttered involuntarily. She hovered her thumb over the button to call her back, resting it over the plastic, knowing the slightest bit of pressure would cause it to go through and Balalaika would pick it up , hopefully, and then Revy would have to fully realise what she had done.

She took a breath and raised her cell to her ear. Darting her eyes out the window, at the useless smog blurring the dark tropical landscape, Revy exhaled slowly, pursing her lips. Shifting the side she palmed her mattress, searching in the darkness. Her fingers bumped a paper box and she dragged it back to herself greedily. Cigarettes spilled onto the unwashed bed, catching on the fabric and one found itself between Revy’s fingers. Licking her lips, setting the cigarette between dry lips as she searched for a lighter, she hit the button with a surge of bravery and waited.

She waited what felt like hours, seconds crawling depressingly slow, her heart beating heavily. Revy was on the verge of ending the call, fingers twitching. A crackling erupted on the other line, plastic on plastic, grinding up until she heard the subdued exhale of a woman.

“Took you long enough to answer, hm?”

Seconds passing, she found a lighter and held it between her lips, sucking until it burned cherry red before she could bring herself to respond, too may angry words dying on her tongue. “Look, I fucking forgot today. There’s a shitload of… shit going on right now and I had a job and-” Revy sucked in her breath and fought the unwanted excitement that came with talking to the blonde. “Whatever. I’m on the line now.”

“Aren’t you young people supposed to have better memory?”

“Aren’t you old people supposed to be asleep right now?” Revy snapped.

Balalaika ignored the vitriol, hair scratching across the phone. There was a groaning scrape as she apparently seemed to have gotten up out of a chair. “I’ll assume you aren’t busy tonight and see if you can come over.”

“What- when?” Revy’s jaw dropped and she nearly lost the cigarette. Saliva sticking the rolled paper to her bottom lip, smoke wavering out. The blonde was talking carefully as if someone could be listening in. The memory of Janet’s action twisted Revy’s gut.

“As soon as it fits your schedule.” Balalaika noted dryly. “We have a lot to discuss, as you probably know. Would have been wise if you have answered the first message I left, but then again, you and being prompt .”

“I have a fucking life too.” Revy muttered, casting a glance at the drawer, then turning to notice the night, waves washing up on the shore, wine-dark and small balls of light blinked in the distance.

“Mm, I’m sure. Especially during a trying time such as this. So, do you have an idea of when you’ll be arriving?”

“How the hell did you get home so early?”

Balalaika sighed. A door shut behind her, and the noise of an office subsided.  “Do you have any idea when you will be here? I’m on my way now.” A car door was opened as she finished.

“Shit, sis, soon as I can be.” Revy grinded the cigarette on a porcelain plate on the windowsill. The towel dropped from her body as she stood up, tropical air meeting her slicked-cold skin.

“Good, I was hoping for you to say that.” The blonde said conversationally. Before Revy could get a word out, a goodbye or another swear under her breath, Balalaika hung up just as she parted her chapped lips.

Revy dressed herself and strutted into the living room, tucking her guns under her arms, holster tight across her wet back.

Benny and Rock sat on the couch, five bottles of beer cans and three bottles on the coffee table, along with old takeout. The advertisement had just ended, and the movie picked up from where it was with a chase scene. Benny raised his head at Revy’s movement. “There’s a Halloween movie marathon if you’re interested. Hell, Rock hasn’t seen even half of these movies.”

Revy chewed on the inside of her cheek, looking intensely at the television. “Nah, I’m heading out. Already seen that movie twice already.” The girl on screen could barely run, tripping over her feet on the beach. She looked behind her shoulder and screamed, again, knees folding.

“Hey, it’s not like I don’t know that thing is,” Rock retorted. “Even in Japan there’s merchandise of him.”

“It’s not hard to know who…”

As if it was normal, as if Benny wasn’t mourning and it was a usual night, except Janet would probably have been on his arm, affectionate and saccharine, not caring who was there. She finally brought herself to leave after the actress was stabbed in the upper chest, food coloring erupting from her shirt. The Plymouth’s silver keys sat on the counter, and her fingers hesitated before curling up. She couldn’t simply drive up and park in the private lot. That would be careless. That would be easy, and if it was easy that meant it was dangerous.

With trepidation she set off, one boot after the other, steady and strong and knowing what could come next, streetlights passing overhead and she didn’t feel fear walking at night. She had never felt fear walking at night for a decade, because a person could be beaten up at any time of day, and dead men didn’t simply walk away after rotting for hours before the sun rose over the ocean. Revy could sense the fear within her, wrapped underneath bandages of bravery, yet couldn’t bring herself to truly care, for the moment.

She thought of Balalaika’s lips on hers as she was halfway, the headquarters coming into view and the apartment hiding behind it. While the rest of her was cold her mouth was warm and terribly so, like it was filled with hot blood. She imagined her lips running down her neck, down her chest and going far below that. The thought stung.

Revy edged along the wall of the adjacent building, a smaller one with boarded up windows. A camera sat above her head, angled at the side view of the invisibly guarded entrance. Scanning the area, she took a breath and raced across, avoiding the trash and the pebbles scattered about the cracked asphalt.

 

 

When the blonde finally opened the door after a minute of fast-paced knocking, Revy paused. The aged door swung back into the apartment, revealing Balalaika’s white blouse, uncovered by the jacket. She looked as though she had been home for some time, clothes rumpled and utterly not caring of looking professional. A flash of her wrist showed the lack of a silver watch. It was domestic, and Revy couldn't tear her eyes away from the semi-feigned comfortableness the Russian presented.

“Here I was, thinking you wouldn’t make it until morning.” Balalaika’s eyes were searching as she moved to the side as Revy pushed through the door, boots pressing hard into the flooring.

“It’s not like I can take the car, sis.” Revy’s shoulder brushed the taller woman’s chest, shivering from the contact, wanting to remain stoic and strong but a piece of her wanted to grab Balalaika by her blouse and scream what the fuck is going on? Did you do all this for me or was it only to protect your fucking interests? Can you actually love anything?

A large hand went to her arm. Revy shifted her head, peering up. Balalaika bent to kiss her, a peck on the lips that left Revy a bit stunned, left still at the affection she liked. There was no transfer of lipstick onto her lips, no waxy pink staining the corners of her mouth.

“It was good of you to come, Rebecca, whatever the transportation.” Balalaika pulled away, returning to the kitchen. Her jacket was slumped over a chair, piles of documents scattered about, and upon closer inspection as Revy followed, the folder she had brought a few days ago was gone.

Revy ran her hand through her damp locks. A teardrop of water ran down the slope of her tanned neck and she shivered. “Not like I had any choice.”

The blonde’s eyes flicked at the guns underneath her arms. Revy made the choice to slide them off her shoulders and placed them on the counter, leather and metal lightly landing with a clack . Licking her lips, Revy walked closer, throat bobbing and emotion rolling to life inside her after the short kiss.

“I was hoping you’d hear from me first, primary source and all.” Balalaika started, arms crossed and head tilted to the side, hair  tumbling down to her hips. The bags under her eyes were dramatic underneath the stale kitchen light, as were her scars. A kettle was resting on a warm stove, a cup of tea behind the blonde’s left elbow.

Well ?” Revy urged, holding her bent arms held out.

She blinked as she sipped her steaming tea. “Last night, I searched the organization out, and eliminated the threat. Simple as that. My men weren’t too involved- I don’t think anyone would think of it to be us, necessarily, aside from who else you told.”

“No… I haven’t fucking told anyone else. Lesson learned.” Revy ran her fingers through her hair, shaking, seeing red with orange tinges of guilt. Was this how she lost her mind? “Just- just tell me the details? Since I’m the one who... started all this shit.”

It was guilt and then it wasn’t. Then it was nervousness, and then it subdued itself. She didn’t care about all the loss of life, but instead another thing that she couldn’t place.

“You can’t just remove a simply armed office, you have to dig deeper. Could have left it all to me… I didn’t realise how serious you were Rebecca, no matter how much you promised.” She spoke of the attack as she always did about business, short and to the point, with a bit of boredom. This had already happened, and all the guns were put away, and the violence was done. All that was left was paperwork. Balalaika drank her tea slowly, eyelashes casting spidery shadows down the slope of her cheeks. She finished with her tongue edging out as she savored it, throat flexing as she swallowed.

“You’re telling me you hit all the places? Same time as… me?” Red-faced, Revy wondered if Balalaika had known about Eda’s involvement, the loud nun unable to blend into the background, cocky grin making her stand out in every place she journeyed into. There was a large amount of effort in looking away from the blonde’s bare lips.

“Not just those,” Balalaika reasserted. Turning away, she set her half-full cup onto the barren counter. Revy’s eyes followed, focusing on the slope of the blouse over the blonde’s shoulders, how casual she was acting in the ease she moved herself with. Balalaika raised an eyebrow minutely “Root and stem Revy, root and stem. Possible affiliates, the many your bullets didn’t hit; we have to be thorough like that, you’ll learn one day. It wasn’t a complete waste of time. The information they held was… valuable, but not to us.”

I’m supposed to be happy about this. I’m supposed to want to fucking dance around, because this shit is done, they’re dead, Hotel Moscow’s in the clear, and I should be fucking grateful and happy and excited. I never cared about this before. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong what’s wrong what’s fucking wrong this ridiculous fucking shit-

“And this is business as usual to you.” Revy muttered, growing more irritated, eyelids flicking down as she stared at Balalaika’s placid face.

“Are you that angry with me?” Balalaika responded with a suck of her breath. Her blue eyes locked with Revy’s for a moment, and she stopped talking and looked at her. Revy wished she could read the blonde’s thoughts. Balalaika moved her gaze to her lips, and the spell broke. “For cleaning up all this mess? Not an inch of thankfulness from you? I thought we talked about this.”

“We did , I just didn’t know what to expect, damn it. Damn, damn you , Sis, I’m so fucking tired of this shit, and how, how many times we kill all these fuckers we’ll take on- fuck, what if, what if Benny found out?”

Balalaika raised her eyebrows as if debating it. She reached a hand up and pushed her own hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear, her nails scratching through pale strands.

“Sof-“

“Don’t you dare call me that in that selfish tone of yours. I don’t want to hear it.” Balalaika’s response gave Revy all the knowledge she needed to know. She was beyond exhausted, like her soul was falling out onto the floor, leaving her an emptier husk. It was tempting, it was so tempting to throw words at Balalaika and try to get a crack in the facade, but it was useless and in turn insults were useless.

“Killing Benny? What, for me? All this shit to protect me…” Revy realised, heart dropping and her face steeling itself to hide the shock. Her anger dwindled then flashed back, hard and sharp. “You talk a lot about me being fucking what? Chopped up and sent to you in a thousand-million pieces.”

Yes?” Balalaika said abruptly, jaw clenched tight. Her eyes were alight, and she shook her head, taking a step towards Revy, who had the mind to move back. “I’m trying to keep you safe. Do you think I want you to be tortured?”

“Sis-”

“I eliminated them to keep you safe,” The blonde repeated. “It goes beyond being chopped up. That wouldn’t be the first, or the last. A group of men doing whatever they pleased just to spite me-” Balalaika took a breath and cast her hand across her forehead, dragging her palm through her hair. “You don’t understand what they’d be capable of. You cannot imagine, oh, how naive you are-”

Revy scoffed, wildy gesturing a hand at her twin guns. She never fucking listens, always my age always my fucking- “Fucking hell, sis you’ve seen me on the job, I’ll just shoot their asses.”

“Rebecca… you’re a young girl compared to those… professionals they’d hire. You're twenty-five.”

“I’ve taken on shitheads like that before,” Revy persisted, face going pink. It was as if her words meant nothing to the Russian. “You know I have. And I’d do it again, fuck, no need to give me the third degree-”

Balalaika was fuming, her eyes alight and chest heaving. Her face was impassive aside from the flash of angry teeth when she replied. Moving forward, she had Revy backing up to where her tailbone bumped the counter. “Will you? I was a prized sniper. Do you think your dual wielding talent would save you? You’re not even military trained.

“I won’t let that fucking happen-” Revy’s voice hitched at the intensity of her glare. She had no idea whether the harsh look was meant at her, or something else. “-You’re just trying to scare the shit out of me, I get your goddamn point-”

Forget your judgement. I’d kill a hundred people more if it were to spare you from such a fate of being tortured and used until you couldn’t be used any more. Then, they’d send you to me, yes, in bits and pieces while managing to keep you alive. This is Roanapour , Revy, and suddenly, you very much matter to how this city’s balance of power works.” Balalaika shook her head, eyes shut before they opened, seeming alive with fire. “You can only take precautions.”

Revy blinked. Her eyebrows drew together in confusion and fear, and she dropped the irritated attitude to simply watch Balalaika’s fury. “Sis, fine, I get it, okay? You make it sound like it’s gonna fucking happen to me eventually.”

“It won’t happen,” Balalaika hissed, putting a hand on Revy’s tense shoulder, squeezing. She leaned in, fast, Revy jolting back in surprise before she felt cool lips press needily on her forehead. The blonde exhaled through her nose, slow despite her beating heart rate that Revy could feel. It was a slow, deliberate pulling away to where it was just enough to where she still brushed Revy’s skin, her deep voice starting again. “I will not allow it to happen.”

Revy’s body relaxed under the pressure of her mouth involuntarily, leaning into it, wanting to forget the fact an entire organization was demolished because of her, of causing the blonde to suffer more hours of sleeplessness, not that the woman would truly care about the lost sleep. Balalaika removed herself, stepping away and just stared at her face, head tilted, scanning her features; Revy held a hand out and cupped the blonde’s jaw, stroking it with her thumb. “This shit really scares you?”

Yes .”