41: LADIES FIRST

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We lost the tails before we reached the train that would take us to the airport. However, none of us spoke until we were on the train, tucked away in a back corner where we could see the entirety of the car. Rebel and I sat beside each other, and Outlaw and Slick claimed the seats across from us. I could see the handle of a knife peeking out of Outlaw's pants when she raised her arms and stretched, but I kept quiet about it, knowing full well that recommending losing it now would only result in an argument.

And I couldn't really come up with a good reason for the four of us to start arguing in who knows how many languages in the middle of a moving train. 

So rather than go there, I leaned back and to the side, propping my head up on Rebel's shoulder and watching as the world began to tear by. When I spoke, it was in quiet Russian. "If she blows up anything on this train, I'm going to throw her off a very tall building."

Rebel snickered immediately in response, his humor causing me to relax further. I closed my eyes right as he began to answer. "I'll help you get her up there. Bet Slick will, too."

"Pretty sure Slick would do the throwing herself," I mused, crossing my arms over my chest and shifting to use him as a better pillow. 

Rebel hummed at that. He maneuvered his arm around me then, his forearm coming to a rest on my abdomen, his fingers winding into the fabric of the shirt I wore. He was relaxing the longer we sat there, but I had a feeling his eyes were still open. "You're not wrong," he agreed eventually. 

"Of course I'm not," I retorted, eyes still closed. "Though really, Reb, if one of them stabs the other--"

"It'll be taken care of," he assured me. "Don't worry about it. If that's the worst thing that happens, I'll count this train ride as a success." I could hear the smirk in his voice, the amusement reverberating within every syllable. Seldom could we count anything a success any more -- unless it was just staying alive. 

That was always a win.

"You should rest," Rebel said then.

I peeked an eye open, watching the scenes blur by through the window again. "So should you."

He shrugged the shoulder I wasn't on, yet I still felt the movement. "Ladies first."

I scoffed at that and shut my eyes again, a small and amused smile gracing my lips. "What a gentleman," I murmured. 

He pinched my side at that before his fingers came to a rest at my side, curving into my hip and just resting there. I knocked him in return with my shoulder, right before he spoke in English, "Flattery doesn't get you anywhere, remember, истребитель."

Had my eyes been open, I would've rolled them. But as it was, exhaustion was beginning to set in. I could go non-stop for extensive periods of time on little to no sleep without flinching. But it seemed when I actually let myself relax, my body recalled it wasn't a machine. Fatigue descended upon me like a bird attacking it's prey, and though I wanted to make a smart-aleck retort, my brain had other plans. Sleep

It claimed me quicker than I thought it would, Rebel's nickname ringing in my ears as everything faded away. The only thing I hadn't been expecting was the dreams.

Darkness and smoke greeted me and my mouth opened wide, willing fresh air to draw into my lungs as a gasp escaped my lips, a stab of pain shooting up my leg from my thigh. A distant part of my memory remembered that scar, remembered how it played out--

Then I started coughing, the smoke having intruded too far within my lungs. A hand rested on my shoulder then, pressing cloth over my face, and where at first I struggled, I soon recognized the feeling, the distant and warbled Russian-- I breathed in, out, breaths short and sharp, eyes stinging from the smoke surrounding us. 

It was only as air began to filter through to my lungs did I realize how close we stood to the cause of the smoke: the fiery silhouette stood mere yards away, her hair curling in the heat, her black eyes igniting like coals. Her smile was wicked upon her face, and when I saw the white-hot knife in her right hand, I lashed out.

An open palm shoved toward her, my other hand still latched onto my partner's arm, and she went flying across the room, flames sputtering from the shock. Smoke began to flee the air almost immediately, it's source having died out. It was only as I let the cloth fall away from my lips that I realized Rebel had been replaced by Aim, and Aim was holding a gun millimeters away from my head--

BANG--

I shot up so fast I nearly fell out of the seat, the only thing stopping me from doing so being Rebel's arm still wrapped securely around my waist. My memory flooded back to me all at once, dark eyes quickly roving the inside of the car as I tried to collect and organize the rush of information. 

The dream sorted itself in my mind just as Rebel asked me if I was all right, though his question went ignored for several more seconds as I tried to process what had just unfolded in my own mind. Parts of it began to blur at the edges and mesh together, but I still recognized it for what it was: a memory gone horribly wrong. One of the last times Team Charlie and Team Alpha had been pitted against each other in a training simulation. Gambler had done so much damage with her flames that the simulation room was under repairs for a week, but it hadn't ended like that, it hadn't.

"Breathe," I heard Rebel say, the one word drawing me out of my thoughts and back to reality. It was said once, calm and steady, and as I recognized he was still holding me, I slowly pried my fingers off of his arm. 

"What was that sound?" I asked, using my free hand to shove my hair awry, looking around. The train was still going, and I was still trying to discern if the gunshot had been in my dream, or something triggered by what had gone on while I was sleeping--

"Ticket taker shut the door too hard," Rebel informed me patiently. When I didn't answer after a few moments, he spoke again, this time pulling me back against him. "We're almost at the airport."

I nodded mutely, my gaze now hard as I shifted so I could face the rest of the car with him, instead of just the window. My eyes traced over everyone in the car, the back of heads, side profiles. Outlaw was talking quietly at Slick, while Slick looked bored out of her mind. No one had noticed my abrupt waking. I relaxed slightly.

"What happened?" Rebel asked, in Russian.

"Bad dream," I said dismissively, shifting in his grasp so I could wrap one of my arms around his middle, curving into his chest as I did so. This time my eyes did not close, though. They remained wide open, and more alert. My heart was only just now beginning to slow.

Rebel hummed thoughtfully, and didn't ask further questions. Instead, the two of us stayed quiet for what was left of our train ride.


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