Joan Jett blared in Tessa's dressing room, the blonde bopping along to "Bad Reputation" as she dressed for an interview. Simon had broadened her musical tastes quite a bit and lately she noted a different style creeping into the songs she wrote. It caused arguments with the label, but she was determined to take control of her own life.
The music was interrupted by the incoming call, Tessa getting annoyed before she saw Miles' name on the screen. A smirk crossed her face as she picked it up. "New phone, who dis?"
Miles snickered. "Hey, Tess." She could hear the sound of a car engine in the background, he must have been busy.
"This is. Who is this?" She said playfully. On the other end, Miles grinned.
"That really, really...ridiculously handsome guy from the other night. Remember?" He played along.
"Mm....no. Doesn't ring a bell."
"Alright, alright. I'm the toothless hick who wouldn't leave you alone." He said, pretending to clarify.
"Oh, MILES!" She chuckled. "What's up?"
"Listen, uh...I've got some bad news, babe." He said. "I can't make it tonight."
"You're standing ME up?" She said with mock offense. "I'm KIND of a big deal, you know?"
A rueful smile crossed his lips. "Yeah, so I've heard. I'm sorry. I hate to bail on you, but...I gotta work."
To say she was disappointed was an understatement. She could only guess as to what that "work" required of him. Whatever it was, she was certain it wasn't pleasant. Still, she kept a stiff upper lip. She liked the boy. Something about her putting her at ease. He was the perfect blend of dangerous and sweet that just hooked her in, made her want more. "Well, you'll just have to owe me a night out, then won't you?"
Miles breathed out a laugh. "Guess I will. Alright, I gotta go, but I'll call you later, yeah?"
"You better." She said before hanging up.
Miles stared at the phone in his hand a long moment. He could feel Ruby's eyes on him, that mocking little smirk. "Oh, Miles, you big knight in shining armor" She said in a high pitched, mocking voice. "Let me come over there and suck your cock and **** you on my Disney princess bed sheets!"
"Shut up." He glared at her, no playfulness to him at all.
"You're ****ing disgusting." Ruby said. "What is she, like 12?"
"17." Miles responded, an annoyed tone in his voice.
"Yeah? You like 'em young, huh?" She smirked. The girl was only two years his junior, but she loved to push his buttons. "Tell me...what's it like getting Toews' sloppy seconds?"
"I said shut the **** up." Miles snapped at her. "You say another word about her, I'll ****ing kill you."
Ruby scoffed, that taunting little sneer on her face. She pulled the wheel, turning down the long road to Grieger's mansion. "Yeah. That'll be the day."
The car rolled to a stop out front of the posh estate. Ruby slid a clip into her H&K USP compact, slipping it into a holster mounted on the back of her belt. "Put your game face on. Don't need you going all pussy in there."
"I know my role." He said simply.
Ruby side-eyed him. "Yeah. We'll see."
Once inside, they were greeted by a doorman. A tall, polite man in his sixties. Every bit the stereotype. He ushered them into the parlor to wait. Ruby immediately plopped down onto a huge, comfy looking couch, her feet unceremoniously propping up on a disgustingly expensive looking coffee table. Miles looked about the pristine, white room, scanning over the sparse, modern decor. They must have spent a fortune on so little, he thought. People like this made him sick.
"Hello." Came the voice from the room's expansive archway. Johnathan Grieger was a handsome man, y'all, in fantastic shape. His dark brown hair kept short and perfectly coiffed. He had a five o'clock shadow that Miles was certain was deliberate. The loose, linen shirt exposed the hint of chest hair rising from beneath. Everything was image. Everything was false. The man was rich, yet he couldn't fulfill his financial obligations to Falk? Bulls***. It was nothing less than pure, stubborn impudence. And Jakob Falk did not stand for disrespect.
Miles glanced over, his jaw tightening. "Mr. Grieger. Good afternoon."
The rich man made his way over, shaking hands with the goon Falk had sent, making certain to squeeze extra hard. This was his house and he would not be intimidated in his home. But when the young punk squeezed back, it was like his hand was in a vice. It took every ounce of restraint to not flinch, let alone yelp in pain.
Those piercing blue eyes stared at him, Miles letting him know exactly who was going to be in charge here. A wave of relief rushed over Grieger when The boy released him from his grasp.
His face dropped at Ruby, lazily reclining on the couch and those boots on his furniture. "Excuse me, young miss?"
Ruby shot him a narrow eyed glance, the corner of her mouth screwing up into smirk that just chilled him. He thought better of asking her to remove her feet from the table.
"Can I fetch either of you a drink?" He course corrected, trying to reclaim what scraps of dignity he had left.
Miles picked up a round, perfectly smooth stone ball from a decorative glass bowl. It's surface was polished, black and white marbling throughout. What purpose did this even serve? How much money had the supposed millionaire pissed away on this thing. He turned his gaze to the man, staring a moment before shaking his head slowly.
"Mr. Falk is very unhappy with you." He said quietly.
Grieger put on something vaguely resembling remorse, his head hanging low. "Ah. Yes. I apologize. Money is rather...tight these days."
Miles cracked a grin, approaching the man. "Is it?" He looked around the room seems like you're doing pretty well for yourself to me."
Those dark eyes rose to meet Miles'. "Appearances are not always what they seem. I've dealt with labor difficulties and the constant badgering of shareholders. Not to mention renovations and the bloody, goddamned lawsuits. Now, I will pay what I owe to your employer. But it will take a while. I have to move some things around. I just ask Mr. Falk to be patient."
"Mr Falk has been patient. Time and again. He's tired of waiting." Miles said, locking eyes with him.
"I don't have the bloody money! What do want me to do? Pull it out of thin air?" Grieger insisted.
Ruby chuckled to herself. "Aw, would you look at that? He thinks we're here for money."
Grieger's face paled noticeably, his dark eyes flicking back and forth between them. "Now, now, now..this doesn't need to turn so grim. I can grab my checkbook-"
"You had your chance to pay up." Miles shook his head. "No more chances."
Grieger set his jaw, a grim look upon his face. "I had hoped we could be civilized about this. That we could settle this as gentlemen."
Four armed men, clearly mercs, stepped out behind from the two exits. They wore tactical vests and carried automatic weapons. A smirk formed on the millionaire's face as Ruby shot up to her feet, no longer wearing her trademark grin. "But you wouldn't have that. Would you?" Grieger said triumphantly.
Miles glared, his adrenaline suddenly flowing, his blood pounding in his ears. Ruby eyed the mercs one by one, calculations and trajectories running wild through her head. Miles glanced back at her, those sharp, alert eyes of Ruby's connecting with his. An entire conversation had in an instant, silent, between the two of them. As one they moved, Miles grabbing Grieger with one arm and pulling a pistol from behind with the other while Ruby drew her blade and let it fly without looking. The merc's opened up, perforating Grieger's chest with a burst of bullets and knocking Miles onto his back. Ruby's blade sank into a merc's throat before he could get a shot off, but the man beside him let loose. Ruby was already dropping dlow behind the couch as the bullets tore through the upholstery, shredding the couch like tissue paper.
Miles leaned up, still behind his gasping, bleeding human shield. Grieger was dead, he just didn't know it yet. Miles opened fire on his foes, making them duck for cover as the bullets ripped into the drywall, sending dust and debris flying about the formerly pristine room.
Ruby's remaining enemy turned his sights on Miles, the younger man laying back and aiming as best he could with his vision upside down. Ruby was already on the move, propelling herself off the coffee table, over Miles and Grieger, and dropped into a roll. Mile's pistol discharged one shot, two shots, three, connecting with the lone merc's armored stomach, chest and then finally, connecting with his thigh. Ruby came up on one knee, drawing another blade just as the remaining mercenaries came back for the kill. She redirected the first man's weapon skyward. She stabbed upwards through the back of his arm, slicing through flesh, muscle and severing his brachial artery. The other wheeled around on her, ready to blast her full of holes. Ruby ducked under his bleeding, agonized comrade's arm and behind him just as the trigger was pulled. The force of the gunfire, knocked them both against the wall, her human shield's body armor absorbing the burst of gunfire. She grabbed his arm, still clutching the rifle and forced him to fire upon his teammate.
The last remaining mercenary, stumbled back against a pillar as Ruby ripped the blade free. Before he could recover and fire upon her, she stabbed upward through his jaw, a gurgling scream rent from the man. Ruby glared at him, blood spattered and vicious, and then struck the handle of the knife with her palm, slamming his jaw shut and driving the blade up into his skull. The mercenary dropped, his lifeless body twitching involuntarily.
Miles ripped Grieger's body from him. The man was still alive, gasping and wheezing. Miles checked himself for wounds, finding only Grieger's blood staining his clothes. The mercenary Ruby had stabbed through the arm clutched his wound, bleeding freely. The androgynous assassin took up a rifle and put him down with the merciless pull of a trigger.
"You good?" She asked Miles, businesslike.
"Five by five." He responded, glancing back to Grieger. The mortally wounded man was crawling to the couch, leaving a bloody trail behind him, with a great deal of effort, managing to prop himself up and lean back against it. His eyes flicked wildly about. Everything he'd planned, every bit of power he'd THOUGHT he had was up in smoke. Miles knelt before him.
"John? Can you hear me?" He asked. "John."
Those eyes snapped to him. Miles frowned, watching him gasping his last breaths. "This could have been avoided. I'm sorry it had to end this way."
There was a sudden panic in his eyes then...but he wasn't looking at Miles. The young fighter glanced over his shoulder and back at Ruby. Behind her was a woman, her blue eyes wide with terror, and behind her, a boy no more than 10.
"Daddy!" he screamed.
Miles heart sank. This was not part of the plan. The family was supposed to be gone. Ruby whipped around as the mother ushered her son down the hall as fast as she could. Ruby didn't think. She just shouldered the rifle and stormed after them.
"Ruby!" Miles called after her. "RUBY NO!"
The sound the rifle burst echoed through the cavernous mansion...followed by a pair of thuds. Miles stared in wide-eyed horror at what had just happened. Ruby, though...she thought nothing of it. Miles tried to control his heartbeat and breathing.
Calm down. Find your center. Don't panic.
Grieger finally died with a bottomless, unfathomable sadness upon his face. He'd watched his family murdered just before he finally slipped away.
Ruby regarded Miles coldly. "You going to sit there and gawk or are we getting the **** out of here?"
Miles despised her more than ever in that moment. The way she looked at him was so cold, emotionless, like she was reading his mind. For a moment, he thought she might use that weapon on him. He could see she was considering it, her finger leaving the guard and hovering over the trigger.
"I heard what you said." He snapped. Now was not the time. "Let's get the **** out of here."