It rained hard the night after they killed the Empress, thick drops pelting the rooftops and overfilling the gutters, draping the entire city in a cold, grey shroud. Billie had never been the superstitious type – even her occasional visits to the Outsider's shrines were more curiosity than anything like worship – but it was difficult to ignore how unseasonable the weather was, as though Dunwall itself was in mourning.
That wasn't the kind of thought she really wanted to be having, but it was laboriously slow going through the city right now. Guard presence on the streets had doubled or even tripled following the assassination, and the mist and slick tiles made navigating the roofs a far more challenging task than it usually was for her. By the time she made it back to their base, exchanging sympathetic nods with the unfortunate sentries on duty, Billie was soaked through and had had far too much time to consider the melancholy symbolism of Dunwall's weather patterns. She pressed on toward the old Commerce building, determined to get out of the rain and everything it brought.
She entered Daud's chambers directly through one of the lower windows and, finding the lights dimmed and no other Whalers in the office space, she pulled off her mask and set about removing the most waterlogged layers of her clothing. "Daud," she called up the stairs, hanging her dripping coat from the railing. The thick woolen shirt she wore underneath was damp around the neck, where rain had dripped down and run under her collar, but it was much more bearable. "I'm back."
"Give me your report," he answered gruffly. There was an odd tone to his voice, something off in a way she couldn't quite identify.
Billie left her muddied boots on the floor and began to climb the stairs. Her fingers worked at the top few buttons of her shirt as she moved, pulling the wet cloth away from her skin. She stopped short when she reached the upper level and took in the sight in front of her.
Daud was sitting at the edge of his narrow bed, holding his sword across his lap. The blade was still dark with the Empress's blood, and that should have been Billie's first sign that something was wrong. Daud was always meticulous about keeping his weapons clean and cared for; it was something he'd scolded her for over and over when she first began training with him. As she drew closer, she saw it was not just the blade. Blood still flecked his clothing and even his face, though she had left for this assignment hours ago. He looked up at her. "Well?"
Billie frowned but gave her report as ordered. "They arrested the bodyguard, like you assumed. Already got him locked up in Coldridge for the murder. Burrows seems pleased to have him as a scapegoat. I think you're right that we could squeeze more coin out of him for the extra work." She paused to fiddle with her collar again while Daud closed his eyes and nodded. "The girl was harder to find, but I managed to track her down. They took her the Golden Cat, of all places." Daud raised an eyebrow in surprise, and Billie quickly shook her head. "They're just holding her there to keep her out of sight. Even Burrows isn't stupid enough to waste such a useful pawn like that."
She'd been worried about it herself, though, had felt a sick twist in her stomach when the trail had ended at the bathhouse. Billie hadn't felt great about handing the girl over in the first place, something that had surprised her. She never expected to feel any sorrow for someone who had lived such a charmed life, but when you had a sobbing, fighting little girl in your arms who kept crying for her dead mother, it was hard to see anything but a scared child, no matter how she grew up. It was a relief to learn the Golden Cat would be her prison and nothing more.
Billie shook herself, pushing those thoughts away. "So, I guess it all turned out well, even if we did have to improvise. No loose ends."
"I suppose so." Daud took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then set the bloodied blade aside, laid carefully on the floor. He straightened up and looked at Billie for a long, considering moment. "Come here," he said eventually, quietly.
Her heartbeat quickening a little in anticipation, Billie stepped forward. Daud put his hands on her, flat on her stomach first, then coming together to work the lower buttons of her shirt loose. She tipped her head back with a sigh. This wasn't any sort of regular thing between them, but it did happen sometimes, a way of releasing tension after a rough job or resolving an argument that had gone on too long. This hadn't been a particularly rough job, at least not in the usual sense, but Billie certainly wasn't against the idea. She could do with the distraction, the extra heat against her rain-chilled skin. She put a hand on top of his head, gathering up a loose handful of his hair.
With her shirt open, he tugged her closer, pressing a hot, open kiss to the bare skin above her hip. His tongue flicked out as he slowly moved his mouth over her, enough to make her shudder pleasantly and for a growing heat to start between her legs, but she could not help but notice the motion was…strangely gentle.
They had never been gentle, in this or anything else. It was always rough and hurried between them, with scrapes and bruises and quiet curses muttered over noticeable bite marks. To get this from Daud instead, a touch that was almost delicate, was nearly enough to distract her from the enjoyable effects it had. When he paused for a moment to lean his forehead against her and she felt the slight tremble in his hands, it became entirely too much on a night that was already far too strange.
She tightened her grip on his hair and pulled his head back, frowning down at him. "What's wrong with you?" she asked, voice blunt to try and mask the genuine concern.
Daud's eyes were dark and his expression grim. "I've asked myself that for years," he muttered, taking on that same, odd tone again
She pulled a little harder and took half a step back. "I'm serious."
He grabbed for her wrist to make her let go of his hair, and his grip was painful enough that she felt a hint of relief. "So am I," he told her. He released her hand and scratched roughly at the edge of his jaw, scraping off flakes of dried blood. "Things are about to change. There was something different about this one, and I know you can feel that as well as I can."
Of course she could feel it. The damn weather could tell the Empress had been different from any other mark. But Billie gritted her teeth and shook her head. "It was a job," she said forcefully. "We did the work, and we got paid. That's all there is to it."
The hand still on her hip dug in, fingertips pressing deep into her flesh. "You're not an idiot, Lurk," he growled, "but if you want to keep pretending otherwise for now, I won't stop you." He pulled her close and pressed his mouth back to her skin, but there were teeth this time, biting down hard enough to make Billie gasp and squirm.
She yanked him back by the hair again, then put her hands on his shoulders and pushed, shoving him down to the mattress and climbing over top of him. There he finally met her with the bruising force she craved, grabbing and twisting with her until she was on her back. When she arched up underneath him, Daud's teeth at her throat and her wrists pinned above her head, it was almost enough to drive back the thoughts of how both rain and blood had soaked into their skin that day.
Daud slept briefly and fitfully afterward, shifting and mumbling beside her, and Billie frowned down at him. If he was feeling guilt over this job, it was a problem. Assassins didn't feel guilt or regret, certainly not an assassin as great as Daud. And if he was finally starting to lose his grip…
Billie closed her eyes and turned away, stubbornly determined to fall into a peaceful, untroubled sleep beside him, determined to ignore the terrified screams that were still echoing through her mind.
In the morning, the sun would come up and cut through all the rain and fog, drawing back the shadowed curtain over Dunwall, and Daud would send Billie away with a new assignment: investigation into the name Delilah.