2; Jade Handle
The others waited downstairs. Her walk of shame to the kitchen below had little to do with sex, though. The blood still dripped from her chin, cascaded down to her feet and the floorboards. As they reached the stairway, Rosa came into view. She threw a hand to her mouth, which promptly began to shake. Micali made brief eye contact with her, her face kept as straight as ever, before Dom ushered her past the final step, headed toward the bar. The brothers were both in the kitchen, and once Micali and Dom entered, they made eye contact with Dom, and quickly shuffled out.
Her mind tuned in and out as they approached the sink. Dom whispered to her but she couldn’t make it out.
Olivor sends his regards.
That box, in the back of her mind. It threatened to burst. She’d wrapped it in tape, put it in the corner, piled things on top of it to keep it shut, and tried to forget about it. But now, four simple words threatened to knock that tower of insulation down and rip that box open.
The knife handle. Jade.
How did they know? How long had they known for? What else was coming? Something shook her and her eyes honed in from whatever distant shore they’d been lost to.
“Are you hurt?”
She blinked a few times, and the question itself seemed to register the gash that stretched from her shoulder to her collarbone.
“Yeah, he got me right here.” She showed him the cut.
“Bandages might not do it. Rosa,” he called out toward the bar. A few seconds pass and the click of heels approach.
“Y-yes?” She cleared her throat.
“We’re in need of your medical expertise.”
“Right.” She approached.
Healing magic was unfamiliar to Micali, now; They were friends, at one time, they met often, but now they rarely cross paths. The sensation tingled as her wound sealed. It was just another scar on the roadmap of her body.
Rosa began to ask something, but stopped once Dom shot her a look. Micali looked down into the sink, her reflection shockingly clean. After a few minutes, it was done. There was still a bit of an ache there, but Micali wasn’t bleeding anymore, which is usually a plus.
“Go back in the other room. We’ll talk later.”
“But are we-“ another look from Dom. The click of high heels receded.
Dom turned to Micali. “You good?”
She nodded, and raised herself from the sink. “Peachy.”
“Good. Now,” he moved away from the sink a ways. “Are we in danger?”
“No.” She played with her messy hair.
“Micali.” He crossed his arms
“Dom,” she shot back. “You’re not in danger because it’s me they’re after.”
“They?” His arms moved to brace along the counter. He faced her.
She nodded. “I guess they realized they didn’t get me the first time.”
Dom’s face sank. “Oh, Mick...I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine…”
“It’s fine.” It wasn’t.
“What do we do?” He moved to approach her.
“Nothing. I will handle it.” She moved to the bar, which left Dom to follow her. Rosa sat alone at the bar, the room now cold; the fireplace was let die. Micali reached the inside of the bar, and turned to face the wall next to the entrance to the kitchen. A bookshelf, kept immaculate despite the fact that only one of them ever read. Micali strained for the top shelf, her right arm shot with a familiar sharp ache. She found what she wanted and pulled down a folder. It was grey, an ashy tone that held together a couple dozen papers.
“Mick. What’re you doin’?” Dom rounded the corner and leaned along the doorway.
She didn’t answer, instead she set the folder down on the bar, only one seat down from where Rosa sat. Naturally, the velen’s gaze followed as she opened it. Dom walked up next to Micali and opposite Rosa.
“Are you sure it was them?” He casted a glance to Rosa, then over to the laicar. “Like, sure?”
“Yes. He mentioned one of them by name, and the knife belonged to another.” She sighed and removed a paper from the folder. Dead, so there was no use for them in there. She crumpled it up and tossed it to the wastebasket on her side of the bar. It bounced off the wall and into the bin. “Nice,” she mused absentmindedly.
“What can we do?”
Micali turned her gaze to Rosa. “Nothing. This isn’t about you,” she looked back to the folder, and tried very hard to ignore how Rosa shrank in her seat.
The next page moved to Terminus, so she flipped to the next. Then twice over. On the fifth page, she traced her finger over a familiar name. This was the one she wanted. Madame Gemma, the proprietor of a brothel between the mercantile and residential districts. She hadn’t made contact in years, but if anyone in Lucrus had the information Micali needed, it would be her.
It would only have been a thirty minute walk.
The door to Dom’s opened, and the twins stepped inside. Their white work shirts were now littered with brick coloured stains. Magno spoke, “your room’s clean. Mostly. We took the guy to a spot we know. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
Micali nodded to them, a faint smile faded as fast as it appeared. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Growing up in the slums, we did what we had to, whatever would help us get by. Buried bodies isn’t the worst of it.” He cast his gaze to his brother for an instant.
Micali simply observed.
Rosa stood, then. “What happened?” Dom made to shut her down, but Micali spoke first. “It doesn’t matter.” She turned to the brothers. “Did you keep his things?”
Magno nodded. “They’re upstairs, on your bed. The window’s closed, too. It was cold in there.”
“Good. I’m gonna go to bed now. We can talk more in the morning.” Just like that, Micali ascended the stairs once again, and she took the folder with her.
She repeated the process she had earlier in the night. Her room was missing a few floorboards from where the body had been, and there were no shards of glass from her lamp. The twins really did clean, and efficiently too, when you considered that she’d been downstairs for all of twenty minutes.
Whispers came from the weapons on her bed. The hushed words tantalized, corrupted. She moved to the knife and gun. The gun was unfamiliar, a small black pistol. The knife, however, was the very same she’d ever-so-slowly pulled from her gut three years prior. That same jade handle was soaked with her blood. It wasn’t the first time.
Micali grabbed the gun, and began to deconstruct it. Her hands worked separately from her bothered mind, and it wasn’t too long until it was in pieces on her bed.
The ammo was underloaded, so this guy was either inexperienced, dumb, or given bad ammo. She opted to believe the first two.
She weighed the knife on her finger. The handle was still heavier than the blade, and the finish was still immaculate, the green paint meeting the silver of the blade, both in pristine condition.
Olivor sends his regards.
Olivor was always a cocky shit, so that part checked out. He was an idiot, so the fact that he hired an idiot also checked out. The knife. She knew who it belonged to, and her fists clenched around the hilt, white knuckles married to a light green metal. She shuddered at the thought, and let the knife fall to the bed yet again. The box in the back of her mind had something inside which pounded the lid. It was trying to get out.
She needed sleep. She shed her pants and untied her braid.
Her sheets helped her repress the thoughts, and she looked at Cora before she closed her eyes.
Voices that shrieked into the night. Her arm the knife, the wine, her head, the fire, waking up. All of them.
Waking up alone️.
All of them.
Micali’s eyes shot open, a cold sweat on her brow. It had been a restless sleep, and her blankets were tossed all over the place. She threw her legs over the side of the bed, and looked at them in the light of the morning sun.
Various scars covered them, strewn about. The time she slipped during training as a teenager, which left a gash from her left knee to mid-shin, the burn scars on her right calf from that time she’d had to spar with another trainee, the several scrapes and cuts that she gained over the years of contract work. Her hand traced them, remembered the moment of each and every one. Her tank top rode up at some point in the night. She brought her hand up to her exposed stomach, felt the deep, deep scar just to the upper left of her belly button. She only had one kidney, now. Bastards. Her fingers traced the deep scar that ran parallel on both her wrists, two lines stretched lengthwise down her forearm. She reached her hand back to feel at the freshest scar, stained on her upper left shoulder. With a sigh, Micali decided to get up.
She got dressed, a black tunic and grey pants over a dark green tank top.
Her walk downstairs was one of trepidation. She’d killed a man last night. She hummed at the realization she was up to 9 murders. Five laicar, now. First time she’d killed two people in a single day in years. Once she reached the bottom floor, it was quiet. There were a few customers, but it was common for mornings to be exceptionally slow. As she took a seat at the bar, Roda emerged from the kitchen with a pitcher of coffee. With a frightened glance and half a pause in her step, Roda continued out from behind the bar and past Micali, headed over to a table where a couple elderly velen sat. Micali simply sat there, she let the morning exist. She breathed through her nose and shut her eyes. A small clamor from behind the bar prompted her eyes back open. A glass was filled with coffee, and Rosa offered a sympathetic smile.
“You look like you could use it.”
She nodded, and some life came to her smile. “I’ll go get Magno and Paulo to cook you up somethin’.”
Micali nodded, and grabbed her coffee. Bitter had never been her favorite, instead she opted to grab a handful of sugar packets and creams. One casual concoction later, and she was ready to drink. So she did. Hot caffeine swirled in her blood, and she let herself sigh as the heat of the drink reached her core.
Rosa came back a few minutes later, a plate of toasted bread in hand.
“Garlic toast at your service.” She had a different breakfast order in hand as well, some kind of poached eggs on toast. Micali had a respect for Rosa. She was the only waitress in a usually busy bar, and she managed it all somehow.
The laicar spoke as soon as the velen returned. “Where’s Dom?”
“He had to run some errands, and it’s slow, so I’m technically the bartender for right now. That being said, I know next to nothing about alcohol.” She looked down, and traced the patterns in the wood of the bar.
A comfortable silence set in for a few moments.
“Are you okay?”
Eyes bore into Micali’s skull. She looked up to meet the furrowed brow of the waitress. “What?”
“Nothing. You just...you don’t have to do it all alone.” Rosa began to tidy up the already pristine bar, a tendency she had when she was nervous. “You have Dom, Magno, Paulo...And you have me.” She placed a hand over one of Micali’s on the table. Micali fought every urge in her body to snake that hand back.
It wasn’t as though she hated these people, she just simply wasn’t like them. It was like telling a fire to be friends with a bucket of water. “Thanks.” The girl tried, though. “I appreciate it.”
Satisfied with the answer, Rosa retracted her hand and moved to check on customers. Micali ate her toast, finished her coffee, then went back upstairs. She grabbed Cora, her bag, and the knife. The knife was her key, her chip to bargain with, the piece of evidence which spurned her forward. Her dark grey cloak now on, she crept downstairs again. With the coast clear of anyone, she left Dom’s. The cold air stung her face, and she began her walk to Madame Gemma’s.