charlieblue: (carni: scorched +salted earth policy)
Something like a crossroads song ([personal profile] charlieblue) wrote on May 23rd, 2010 at 09:49 pm
Fic: Blood Comes Off Easily (The Losers)
I have committed The Losers flashfic! This kind of sprang instantaneously from my brain in the hours after I watched the film. Which is amazing and something everyone should watch so they can all keep me company in my descent into madness, gunporn, and JDM obsession.

So. This one's for [livejournal.com profile] egregiouslypink, seeing as how she is quite possibly the only person on my flist in this criminally small fandom.

Title: Blood Comes Off Easily
Wordcount: 3333
Rating: R
Warnings: Childhood trauma of a violent nature, and character death (both are implied, not explicit).



She didn’t grow up in the wilds of Northern Africa; she spent a summer there once, which was when she picked up the habit of collecting human ears. To this day, the sight of an elegant curve or a well-shaped lobe can still make her double take, the thrill of old habits rising in her blood.

Clay doesn’t seem to mind when she closes her teeth around the shell of his ear, though he grunts when she draws blood, pulls her up his body and slams her against the wall, baring his own teeth and using his bulk against her distinct lack of one.

She doesn’t hate him for killing her father; it is an unforgiveable fact of the world, like entropy, or sub-standard bullet casings. Something that cannot be changed and must be played out to the end, blood for blood. It doesn’t change the way his voice can make warmth pool in her belly, the way his hot breath against her neck slides into her bloodstream, makes her an addict. It doesn’t change the way that she cares for him, like she used to love her Doberman, who was equally as vicious, and equally as endearingly a beast of its nature. Her father put it down after it drew blood on her inner thigh, leaving a mean scar that still curves upward into crude territory, a scar that Clay traces with his tongue, stubble rough against the tender skin, and bites gently down on before moving farther up.

Yes, she thinks. This is probably why she likes him so much. He very much a human-shaped killer dog, only with a better smile and opposable thumbs that allow him to carry M-16s like he’s a porn star and the guns are his fake tits.

Which is to say, hot.

-

It’s been three months since Pooch climbed into the hospital to watch Wallace’s birth, and three months since she’s seen any of Clay’s gang of losers. She’s running down an alleyway in Dubrovnik, Croatia, breath coming sharp and fast because she was forced to slide a knife into the groin of an overenthusiastic gun-runner, and then his second in command was forced to crack her ribs, and everything kind of just devolved from there into broken nails, explosions, and massive holes left in the ancient and historically priceless cliff battlements that saw half the city police on her tail, enraged with the terrible and blind rage of cultural offense.

She rips off the jagged edge of her nail and jams her finger into her mouth as it gushes blood, wrapping her other arm tightly around her chest, and ducks into an old, dank, hole-in-the-wall café.

‘Holy moly, Christ on a godforsaken cracker,’ Jensen stares up at her in awe, and slides down the massive antenna he has attached to a satellite GPS warily, like he's accidentally summoned her with it. ‘Please don’t kill or otherwise maim me. I mean, not to put ideas into your head, just that, should, hypothetically, your appearance here, in this one in a million of coffeehouses in this singular city in this shithole of a country, somehow not turn out to be a happy coincidence, but rather some entirely wrong-headed revenge rampage, I would like to remind you that I too, loathe Max. Despise him, with, uh, all my heart and curly black soul, and wish him dead. So, uh, I’m on your side?’

She stares back for a moment, then flicks her hair becomingly, watching with interest as his sunburnt cheekbones somehow manage to flush. ‘I don’t suppose you have back up?’

Jensen swallows, and a little girl skips out of the toilet, wearing a bright pink sports jumper, and leaps into the chair beside him, watching Aisha curiously. ‘No, not per se,’ he admits.

She rolls her eyes and walks out to the back of the café after snatching his sunglasses off the top of his stupid haircut, kind of irritated with herself when she realizes that she cares whether he gets dragged into this mess.

‘Uh, I’ll tell Clay you send your regards?’ He calls out tentatively as she kicks open the back door, splintering the old metal latch.

She calls back something blood-soaked and Farsi.

‘Right,’ he says, settling his niece on his lap, ‘your very best regards, then.’

She bares her teeth in something approximating a smile, and runs.

-

So then she has to lay low for a while, with the airports and border guards on high alert. She has other passports, of course, but some tourist snapped a photo of her as she sprinted away from the initial explosion. Sloppy, she curses herself, and pours what she really hopes actually is rubbing alcohol over the deep gash that’s worse than she thought, sliding down from her nail bed and down to the bone. She adds a quick note to her mental geography of the world; Croatians: creation of rubble a sore ethnic point.

Among others, she also has, Australians become much more tractable after you tell them how deadly and terrifying their country is, and, Vancouver is ruled by a mad gang lord who can only be appeased by gifts of orange underwear, and Disneyworld is hell on earth.

She thinks there might be something a little fishy about the Vancouver one, as during her last visit when said note was formulated, she was entirely off her head on amphetamines slipped to her by said ganglord. She doesn’t really care to go back to verify the point. He was harmless enough not to warrant revenge, and mad enough to give even her second thoughts about messing with his city. After realizing that she was more freelancer than truly affiliated with the group that had attempted to undercut his organization, he'd set her on a private plane to the Antarctic with a tray of homemade truffles and an icepick with the note attached; ‘In case of further Trotskyan encounters.’ It had been signed with a loveheart.

That was the last time she ever worked in an ex-communist team. They all inevitably gave themselves away with red flags both figurative and literal.

So, this is her life now; surreal, but she likes the feel of it, likes walking through the world in her body, like she could walk through hell with this skin and still come out a goddess among men. Of all her troubles, she has never lacked for esteem.

In the end, Clay finds her, huddled in a shack in the foothills near the Bosnian border, freezing and half-mad with the lack of decent eyeliner.

He mutters something about a good breath of wind knocking something over, and she nods, mumbles something sardonic about the shortage of quality real estate, and is rattled by the rumble of laughter through his chest as he picks her up. She worries at her damaged finger, thinks it might be on fire, and three sizes too big, she worries that she is having a nightmare about being a damsel in distress, and that her body is having an allergic reaction. She worries this must be her, stretched out beneath the smoke, delirious and hunted, the last child left alive in the burning school, learning how to kill to survive. But that was years ago.

She wakes up feeling like she is home, and swiftly realizes this is due to the rather extravagantly high thread-count of the bed she is lying in. Naked. Which, while not discomforting, is in no way acceptable.

When Clay walks out of the toilet, she is holding his gun to his face and only just realizing that her left hand is wrapped in bandages.

So instead of shooting him, she asks, ‘how did you get me up here?’

He smiles and spreads his hands, eyes dark and thrilling while they roll over her now-deliberately naked body. She can use anything as weapon, not least her own skin. He shrugs, muscles rolling his shoulders. ‘They thought you were a whore,’ he says simply.

‘And you?’ She doesn’t mean to hiss, but hiss she does, and hates the vulnerability it shows, the cracks around her edges.

Something cold drags the slow burn of lust from Clay’s eyes. ‘I had to warm you up. Put you in the shower. Trust me,’ and now he’s all the way back around to joker again, ‘I’d sooner fuck a rattlesnake.’

‘Oh,’ she says, and shoots him in the shoulder. It’s just a graze really, the bullet barely even cutting through his skin as it flies past him, but from the blue streak he paints with his voice, you’d think she'd torn out his pubic hairs by the roots.

‘Well I didn’t mean it like that,’ he says, when she has him on the bed and is wrapping thousand count makeshift Egyptian bandages around his bicep, ‘I meant about the implication of, you know, rape. Of course you’re still my favourite girl.’

And the words, parochial and paternal as they are, make her squirm just a little with discomfort, even while she resists the urge to kiss his nose. That would just be unbearably cooperative. So she bites it instead, closing her teeth around the tip just hard enough to see him squirm in turn.

She doesn’t like being made to feel less than she is, which for her means less than a force of nature, something that can be touched, touched and broken. She does not break. That is what she is.

So they fuck, then, and it’s all spine-twisting, hair pulling and hard, wonderful hands gripping her skin like it’s the most addictive substance in the world, which, really, just ask her, and she'll tell you all about it.

Afterward, she curls up inside the big spoon of him, and tries to imagine the ways in which he could die. Erotic asphyxiation seems to be winning out over a bullet to the head (quick, clean, easy) and a knife to the gut (slow, messy, just as easy). She might even enjoy the first one. Which might be why the professionalism of the two latter ones might take higher priority once the afterglow of the best three fucking orgasms of her life have faded.

‘What are you thinking about?’ He asks, tracing her cheekbone and pulling her hair back from her face, his fingers tracing patterns in her skin.

She smiles. ‘You.’

-

This is their track record of dates: lust at first sight at a cockfight, mutual masturbation in the form of melee combat, a graveyard where she got to meet all his friends and offer them bribes to accept her into their fold, grand theft auto, a night of fucking that rapidly devolved into daddy issues and gunfire, and that time she saved his life with a rocket launcher then promptly swore to kill him, a promise which she has not yet followed through with. Then, of course, Croatia. So she figures they’re roughly even on the scales.

She hopes they charged him obscenely for those damn sheets.

She’s drinking black sambuca by herself on the beachfront at Cuba when she sees a telltale hat ambling across the sand, carried by that very best of transportation methods, a quiet man.

He nods at her, and settles down beside her. His moustache is a little messy, his eyes have heavy bags beneath them, and the hair she can see shines with a thin sheen of grease in the moonlight.

He’s still one of the most fascinating men she’s ever seen.

There are no droplets of blood on his hands, no telltale bruises or the smell of ozone lingering about him, but she can tell anyway. It’s in the deep calm and the way he casually drinks deep of her bottle, the slow curve of his lips and the presence of something hard and glittering and not quite come down yet in his eyes. He’s been on a kill mission. She wonders if he’s for hire now, or if it was personal.

She knows it’s not about Max, because there would be worse than no point in not telling her.

He passes the bottle back to her, and their fingers brush, skin to skin, like to like. He might be all shadow, all quiet grace and clean, elegant kills, and she might be all bright, scene-stealing panache, bloody melees and chaos, but they are still two sides of the same coin, still two perfect killers.

She might try to fuck him, except she has the distinct feeling it would be like fucking a brother, if she'd ever had any. Also because she thinks that maybe she would be doing it to try and get a little closer to Clay, a little dirtier, a little incestuous. She wonders if they’ve fucked, if the losing gang had maintained military discipline, if they ever had in the first place.

So she smiles, and wraps her lips around the rim of the bottle without wiping it, and when she wakes up on the beach, head pounding, throat burning, there’s a little cat-face, perked ears and whiskers, fangs curving out of a grinning mouth drawn into the sand beside the empty bottle.

-

When she dreams that night, she dreams of pomegranates and crushed eyeballs, of a poppy farm with dead men fertilizing the earth and knives held close to her skin while she licks the pulpy flesh of the fruit from her chin and learns how to hate.

That was Afghanistan. That was when she was just a little girl, all soft underbelly flesh and unhoned body.

She thinks she might have to go back there, if only to remind herself of what she is.

Her spine crawls, and she thinks of burnt crops and scars twisting through the earth. She imagines rotten fruit dead on the ground and little bones poking up through the cracks, stretching to the sky and begging for mercy. She imagines a little girl with black hair staring up at the sun as it is slowly blotted out by smoke and the smell of burning flesh twists up her nostrils, climbs into her bloodstream and makes her something new.

-

Most of her life, she hasn’t been particularly fussed with the past, beyond wishing it would shut the hell up in her dreams and let her get her beauty sleep. But since her father died, the past is all she can think about, all she can eat, all she can breathe, all she can touch. It's driving her mad, driving her to distraction, driving her so far up the wall all the world seems upside down.

-

Clay knows about the poppy farm because that sneaky fucker Cougar must have snuck a locator onto her person. Violating her bodily sanctity. Again.

She thinks she may have to shoot to kill this time.

She puts down the binoculars as the helicopter whump-whumps to the ground, and walks out of the husk of a building she’s been camping in while she relearns her skin, fighting the air with technically perfect spins and kicks and killing blows.

She wonders if this is how it’s going to be now, with Clay chasing her down every time she stops in one place for more than a couple of weeks. She passed through Paris, Kyoto and Mumbai before coming here, though, so maybe he’s just catching up to her now.

She hopes, both vaguely and rather intensely, that he has a lead on Max, because she’s running out of excuses not to kill him.

She tells him this, in so many words, when he meets her halfway across the scorched and salted earth between his helicopter and her old schoolhouse. ‘You’re not doing me much good,’ she says, using her eyebrows like weapons.

‘Well,’ he says, open necked shirt ruffling slightly in the wind, ‘I am a bad man, you know.’

She curls a hand in that opening, palm open against his chest, tracing her fingers through his chest hair. A swift two fingers, jabbed into that soft, curving dip at the base of his neck, angled downward with the right amount of pressure, and he would go down like a man before his queen.

Instead, she leans forward and kisses that dip, that perfectly formed suprasternal notch.

His breath hitches beneath her palm. ‘We, we have a trace, an electronic path through the Caribbean systems, accessed in – uh,’ his voice catches as her mouth traces upward to juncture of his jaw and ear, ‘accessed in London three days ago by – goddammit,’ he growls, and cups her ass and the small of her back, pulling her body up against his, and she smiles into his neck like a Cheshire cat, playing with his usefulness.

‘By?’ She asks softly.

He goes still for a moment, then pulls back infinitesimally and tilts her head back to study her face. After a moment, knowledge that she is playing him fully present in his eyes, he says, ‘by a known associate. It’s old, a ten-year old cocaine bust gone wrong, but the connection’s there. He and Max were on good terms, then, from what Jensen could get from between the lines of the official records. There,’ he says wryly, like he’s laying down a gauntlet, ‘is that enough?’

She bites at his earlobe lightly, delightedly. ‘I’m in. Just let me get my knives.’

Before she gets into the helicopter, she crouches and puts her palm to the earth. She will not come back here again. Beneath her ring finger, something shifts, and a little black bug comes clambering out of its hole, some shining black curve of life in this dead place. When she stands, her boot heel crushes it. This is her past, and nobody’s present.

'What is this place?' He asks her over the headset as they fly over the barren land.

She turns her head away and slides on his aviators. 'It's where I was born,' she says.

-

During the mission, she takes great pleasure in needling Pooch, backseat driving, deriding his gear shifting, his choice of route and generally squabbling with him like they’re both three years old. It’s different now, though, because while he gives as good as he gets, just like he did the first time, now it doesn’t affect his talent - which even she acknowledges as superior when it gets right down to it - it doesn’t distract him, doesn't make him sloppy.

Beneath everything he says and does, there’s a world of paradise, some great gallumphing happiness that stains everything around him with marshmallows and goodness to an almost sickening degree.

Of course, she thinks, when he whips out his wallet in a moment of quiet, after Clay bluffs his way into the bank by pretending to be a moviestar, and just before Jensen comes screaming out of the toilet block with his pants around his ankles. Pooch shows her picture after picture of Wallace covered in goo, Wallace throwing a screaming fit, Wallace’s mother kissing him on his little fuzzy head, Wallace asleep, Wallace dressed up in a Batman romper suit.

Of course, she realizes, that's what it is. It’s love.

She lets him chatter away, doesn’t make the requisite oohs and aahs, because those would be lies, but when he looks up at her, and his great beaming grin recoils just a little in anticipation of another barb, she smiles at him, and touches his hand lightly, the hand that’s still holding the wallet.

‘You’re lucky,’ she says, and she doesn’t say, don’t send him to school, because that would just be ridiculous, because this isn’t a warzone and schools don’t burn down here unless it’s the inmates doing the burning.

The smile comes back full force, and then she says something about how she just hopes Wallace inherited his mother’s motor skills, and he’s off, perfectly, wonderfully reinforcing her position as resident bitch, ice-queen, anything but one of the boys, anything but something human, something less than what she is.

-

It’s a bust, of course it’s a bust, because Max would never be so sloppy as to do business through a proxy who can be traced back to him, but a nice kind of bust, the kind where everything turns into a circus and not a slaughterhouse.

‘If anyone speaks of this goddamn farce ever again, I swear I’m gonna duct tape up your asses on the steps of Scotland motherfucking Yard.’ Pooch hasn’t taken to the fact that the target was more interested in his ass than scared of his gun.

Jensen can’t stop laughing. In fact, he’s howling so hard, his face has flushed and with his odd beard, he looks positively satanic.

Pooch takes this for about three seconds longer, then tackles him to the floor. Cougar stops cleaning his sight barrel long enough to lift his legs out of the way of the ruckus and onto the table.

Aisha is thrumming with good humour, openly showing her teeth in a wide grin. Clay catches her eye as he appears in the doorway into the garage, and deliberately wanders out again, so smug and casual she can’t wait to slam him against a wall, drag her nails down his skin.

Cougar stops her with a hand to her hip as she passes him. He tilts his hat back a little, mild and friendly. ‘You kill him,’ he says softly, so softly Pooch and Jensen can’t hear him, ‘I kill you.’

She puts a hand over his, removes it from her person. ‘Fair deal,’ she says.

-

It’s night, night stretching out before her in some distant part of Arizona, and somewhere, Wallace is probably taking his first steps, learning to run before he can walk, drive remote control helicopters before he can draw.

The lights at the base of the valley twinkle merrily, highlighting the stables, the quiet sound of horses as they huff and stamp and settle down to sleep. Of course this is how it would be, of course he has grown up to be a cowboy, wrangling horses now that he's not wrangling guerrilla mercenaries.

Aisha doesn’t want to cry, hasn’t cried since the smoke wrung all the tears out of her body as she crawled desperately for sunlight and found knives instead. But if she could, if something snapped behind her eyes, if pressure were released, maybe her body would stop trembling.

She grips her sniper rifle tightly, and sights down the barrel.

This is one kind of release she can take.


fin.

-

Title from Lovestain, by José González.
 
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