Author: Guede Mazaka
And the sword comes damn close to taking off Elle's head, lopping her soft-boiled egg neat as O-ren, but that's only what B thinks. Truth is, blindness is like a thumb-width thick coat of black, black shellac, and it's better than armor. Elle doesn't have to see to hear the whistle of steel coming toward her belly, or the change in weight as B's feet crunch gravel and grass--and she damn well doesn't have to see how much healthier B's gotten since crumpling Bill up in some South American druglord hide-away resort, while Elle's wasted a good half of herself fighting the doctors and the psychiatrists and those truly pathetic tranq-wielding guards.
Besides, she's had time to adjust. It was harder learning to fight without one eye than without two. That lingering vision-ball constantly wants to deceive, to convince that its flattened no-perspective on the world is the real true thing. Darkness, on the other hand, is just darkness.
This does not mean that Elle is thankful for losing that other eye. In fact, the memory of B's casual little eye-stab-pluck is what powers Elle's next drive. It's what persuades her beaten, exhausted, failing body for one last pivot and thrust that almost, almost catches B right in her pert little tits. Or where those should be, anyway. Fabric catches on the blade-tip, but no slog of flesh slowing it down; Elle goes just shy of good balance and sets herself up for a devastating punch that she knows is coming but can't block in time.
Her teeth rattle when she hits the tree trunk. She knows she looks stupid with her arms cartwheeling outwards like that, and unprofessional when she actually drops her sword, but fuck all that when her skull is bursting with agony that sears right down the fuse of her spine and explodes in her groin. Shit. She hadn't even noticed the simultaneous kick. Well, not at first--goddamn it, she didn't even have balls. Thank God they'd both lost their shoes earlier in the fight.
"Elle, what are you doing?" B sounds exasperated. Exasperated, for fuck's sake. Motherhood must be getting on her nerves. "This--this thing isn't even something that could match up to a half-decent machete."
"Well, not all of us can charm our way into Hanzo's sword-rack." Even sightless, a concussion does not do pleasant things to consciousness. For a moment, Elle thinks she's seeing double, and then she realizes that that's not possible when all that's in view is the fucking black inside her head.
It's slightly better than when she dreams and remembers how to properly see.
"You know, you're not even trying. I thought--Christ." Swish-thunk as B flings Elle's sword into a nearby tree. "You're better than this."
The burning between Elle's legs just flattens out and spreads dull ache as time goes on, so she pulls up her knees in an effort to contain the excruciating pain. B is right, damn her. Elle is off her game, and her bones are groaning under the protests of her pride. "Sweetheart, if I'm trying to kill you, then I seriously doubt it matters whether I'm doing it neatly or messily. I'm still trying to kill you."
"You're not now." Figures that the only way B will touch her now is with the tip of a sword. It's cold and sharp, tracing blood from Elle's cheekbone to her jaw.
Yes, it could be slapped away and Elle could throw herself sideways and be back up into the fight, but...well, hell. She's exhausted. She's ragged with the pressure she's got to keep on herself to make sure all the little flighty bits don't decide to take flight, now that Bill's velvet-sheathed iron is gone. She's wondering how the hell B kept this up for so long at fever-pitch, because while Elle's always been able to hold a grudge, she's never tried holding a vengeance for this long on her own.
The sword flicks back up to the edge of Elle's lashes. "You got replacements." Dark uplift in B's voice. "They're a pretty color."
"You killed Bill. My God. I always knew you were a bitch--but how? How could you possibly--" And words just fail Elle, because she's trying to describe the enormity of what she's been wrestling with, blind and cut-up and at odds with everything without a single hope of advantage. In short, she is trying to convey what having no sense of direction is like to the most directionally-oriented person alive. "He loved you! He. Loved. You."
"And he shot me in the head, but that's just how we say snookums, isn't it?" B still has the sword up against Elle's throat, but now she's kneeling with one hand on Elle's bare ankle, which Ell now realizes was really, really fucking wrenched by that last move. "He never loved anyone else, you know. Not even you. No matter how many times you two might've fucked while I was...sleeping."
Elle's muscles are as strung out as her hair, which hasn't seen a proper treatment since...about a week before she drove out to see Budd. God knows what color it is now--could be purple for all she knew. At least it'd match her fake little eyeball substitutes; Elle would be damned to cleaning toilets with her tongue before she got a shade that was anything like B's. "B, you're not telling me anything I don't already know."
"So you have no idea what it was like to be me." Suddenly B's voice is low and rough as a man's, and the sword is forcing Elle back into the tree trunk, making her catch her breath short so she doesn't gasp herself into a slit throat. B has fingers pressing into Elle's wrist, which she hadn't realized she'd lifted, and it's hard and squeezing the blood from her bones and pressure. It's something to focus on. "You have no idea what it's like to be loved by a man like Bill. And you're probably lucky that way, because it would have broken you."
"If I don't know shit about you, then what do you know about me, you goddamn cunt." The words feel good rasping out of Elle's mouth, but the way B's fingers dig deep into her flesh is...better. It's real and angry and something that Elle's very familiar with, that she knows how to ride and lash around herself.
Well, fuck--it wasn't like Bill had kept her around for chicken-soup comfort. Elle might be--might have been blonde, but she wasn't nearly as goddamned oblivious as Budd had been. How one woman had held both men, she'd never understand.
"I think I know enough. And if you ever managed to rein in your temper long enough, you'd find out you--" B trickles a harsh laugh. Her thumb slides along Elle's tendon, shooting hot agony down one finger, then curls around to softly rub away the pain. "Listen to me, trying to give you advice."
"Listen to you, never cleaning up after yourself. You killed all the rest of them, you bitch--well, I had Budd but that was just better timing--you killed them all. And you left me writhing in a redneck trailer." Bitter is good. Bitter is scraping over Elle's tongue and raking up blood and reminding her that things have changed. Bill's dead. Bill's dead and B is alive, and the longer Elle lived, the less sure what she was supposed to do about that. Because she hated B for everything that the woman had wrecked and she admired B for breaking what Elle never could have.
Warm breath on Elle's face, taking away some of the chill that's spreading from the sword against her pulse. "Jesus. Don't tell me I hurt your pride."
Elle desperately wants to glare, but the shitty plastic she's stuck with now doesn't transmit emotions too well. "I respected you that much."
"Enough to follow in my footsteps. Bill, swordfighting, Pai Mai...Elle, didn't you ever pick something that I didn't do first?" And now B's voice is...caressing, in the same way that the flicker of a snake tongue against bare skin is. There's a little bit of fang at the end of each word, and the whole tone is entirely too much like Bill's soft malevolence for comfort. Then again, aside from the usual run of things like clothes and cars, Elle isn't really one for that. "I do owe you a kill for murdering my master."
As Elle lifts her chin for the cut, she isn't quite sure whether she's feeling relief or regret. Unlike with Budd, she hasn't had a chance to research and plan the situation.
Besides, B is much more unpredictable to begin with.
The sword drops down to Elle’s collarbone, the hand pins her wrist to the tree, and B kisses her, savage as a dying man’s last glare. Teeth worrying Elle’s bottom lip, just so, and when her breath comes short there’s the tongue stabbing through to free her moan. She groans, parts her knees and the sword tilts to lay diagonally across her so fingers can alternately stoke and stroke away the pain in her cunt. It hurts her into arching, and soothes her into a calming frenzy of whimpering, and it’s like being home again.
But Elle never been anything but a substitute. Proxy, in a blunt manner of speaking. “I’m not Bill.”
“Neither am I.” B glides the flat of the sword against Elle’s cheek and laughs when Elle can’t help but turn into it, cutting herself of her own accord. “Though it looks like he’s left his marks behind.”
“You’ve got that pretty little brat,” Elle reminds. Her ankle is starting to throb through the slow melting that is spreading through her sore body.
“I’m handling it.” And B is handling Elle as well, tangling her wrists up in a belt and casually hauling them both through the park. Whenever Elle starts to struggle, a quick vicious squeeze of hip or breast instantly settles her. “Try not to make me mess you up too often. I don’t have the funds for that fancy reconstruction surgery now.”
Elle curls down on the front seat, letting her wrenched ankle dangle over the side. She’s already calculating how long before she can get around well enough to get another sword when B speaks again.
“I didn’t kill you because you weren’t worth it. You should’ve seen yourself, flailing around like a rabid alley cat.”
It hurts. It hurts enough for Elle to never forget that they aren’t kind to each other, that whatever B’s up to smacks as much of the dregs of necessity as does what Elle is doing when she licks the hand that rubs along her jaw just before biting it. But the soft scratching of nails down her bruises and the tease of fingertips across her cuts are just this far on the side of pleasure to remind her that whatever else B is, she’s not one to be lightly thrown aside.
“I’m sure you’ll teach me better,” Elle murmurs, lifting her chin for B’s petting. She plans to be a very, very good student.