Title: Song of Sand
Chapter 1: Just Another Day
Crossover Dark Gangster AU- Black Lagoon and Gundam Wing
Characters are not mine. I am just borrowing.
A/N: A Numbers Alternate fic
Translation notes: *incredible, and ** rifle
Common sense would seem to dictate that a man in his position would have known better than to ask the question. Even the two other members of Hotel Moscow seemed to shift uncomfortably at it, and Revy, well, hell, she had been curious, but she could honestly say she didn't really want to know the story. It was too bad for the man that Balalaika was feeling generous that day, because she grinned and lowered her gun.
He had been cowering in a corner when they found him. He was just another fool making an attempt to screw over the mob. He was just another outsider to the city of Roanapur who thought he could get away with an insult and a truck load of cash. He was wrong though, and the lesson was pressing itself upon him.
The attic was secure. It had been his mistake to run this far. To shack up in a house in the woods and think that being in Europe would spare him. Now he was trapped with no where to go after a pointless attempt at defense. He was bruised, bloody, and about to be executed. Perhaps, it was his immanent death that gave him the courage to ask, but, overall, it was just plain stupidity. It was something to say when there was nothing left, a cry in the dark to prolong the inevitable.
Balalaika used her free hand to remove the cigar from her mouth. She tapped off the ash and took another quick puff, releasing a ring of smoke. Then she took a deep breath and answered his question. She told the man how she got her scars, and the answer was hardly rewarding for anyone in the room. It was almost disappointing, but the answer was there, straight from her mouth. As she finished she thanked the man for asking and then she raised her gun again and shot him in the head.
It was a pathetic end to a pathetic man, but bothersome riffraff never seemed to learn their place until it was too late.
Balalaika barked a command in Russian and the two men with her turned to leave. She lingered behind and looked over at Revy. It had been a shame the young woman had to be involved in such a mess, and, generally, Balalaika preferred to keep business matters to herself, but that man had caused major problems for Revy, and she believed in giving people their due chance at revenge. She might have even let the young woman finish off the job, but then the man had asked the question, and Balalaika just felt obligated to take him out herself.
"Yes?" Balalaika eyed the young woman carefully.
"I owe you a drink for this one."
"I'll remember that, Two Hand," she said softly, and walked off.
The group left behind the house and the picturesque tranquility of the lake with the stolen funds and made their way back to Thailand.
Balalaika was tired of being interfered with. This man was just another in a string of insults that made her long for another war. Things were not that simple though. It was time to have another little chat with Mr. Chang. She wanted his opinion on the matter.
A few days later and Balalaika was back in the solitude of the shipyards. Private meetings were such a bother, but a necessity to avoid rumors and panic among the other organizations.
She rounded the corner of a large crate and noticed some of Mr. Chang's men hanging about as security. Then she spotted a portable table complete with umbrella and had to grin. Perhaps it was time for a war if everyone was getting so damn comfortable. Balalaika let a chuckle escape her lips when she saw the coffee service neatly laid out. She took a seat and grinned as Mr. Chang sat across from her sipping his coffee.
"A little coffee for our tête-à-tête," she asked. "I didn't think you were serious about wanting a date."
"Cute," Mr. Chang stated dryly. "I just didn't want to miss my morning coffee. About last night-"
"The Italians and the Columbians are growing restless and getting stupid," Balalaika said. "I don't mind telling you, Chang, I would gladly rip this city apart if it meant getting them out for good. Fortunately for them my superiors don't want that, and, honestly, I think there is a simpler solution to the immediate problem. Last night was an abysmal affair, compounded by an unnecessary trip abroad. Though, you should be pleased to know that little Two Hand has been making some improvements."
Mr. Chang grinned slightly and took another sip from his coffee. Balalaika cut herself a cigar and then lit it. He put his cup down and sighed, ready to get to the heart of the matter.
"The Italians won't be a problem for much longer." Mr. Chang said. "I believe Verrochio's replacement should be arriving soon."
"Lovely thought, but I'm not sure it will fix anything." Balalaika looked over the layout of the table and shrugged. "I prefer tea in the morning," she mentioned off-handedly. "It's really quite simple, Chang, and not much more than we already do. I know that you have men in places, doing things that, perhaps, they should not be doing. I think I could be willing to overlook it for a simple favor."
"I understand what you're getting at." Mr. Chang said softly. "If my men happen to see the Italians and Columbians on your turf they give you a ring, no questions asked?"
"Precisely, and, of course, if anyone from the Hotel should happen to see something going on in your neck of the woods we would do the same." She puffed on the cigar. "We avoid a full scale war and keep things tidy at the same time. What do you say?"
"This city is a god damn powder keg as it is, Balalaika. I'll agree to these terms until the Italians' new boss arrives. After that, things go back to normal."
"Fine by me." She stood up. "It's so nice to be able to work amicably together, don't you think, babe?"
"Heh, I suppose not everyone understands the importance of mutual respect in this business," Mr. Chang said.
Balalaika grinned and turned to leave.
"Oh, and Balalaika?"
"Hm?" She turned.
"Remember what I said about call me, 'babe'," Mr. Chang said coolly. "I'd hate for rumors to start to spread about our connection, and really…I hate that nickname."
Balalaika smiled and walked off. As she moved she pulled out her cell phone and called Boris who was waiting at the car.
"Your instructions, Capitan?"
"Nothing changes. I just wanted to get a feel for how he felt about everything." She paused as she approached the car. "Mr. Chang and I have an understanding for business, but he's too accustomed to the peace. He's right though, the Italians aren't the real problem, it's the cartels that are over stepping themselves."
She flipped the phone shut and slid into the car as the sergeant opened the door for her. She leaned back into the seat and let out a deep breath.
"I think we'll need Dutch and company to run that little errand for us a bit sooner than planned. Get him on the line and be generous," she said as Boris situated himself behind the wheel.
"And include that new item we acquired as part of the deal."
Boris nodded and started the car.
There were days when Balalaika missed the simple pleasure of being able to go somewhere by herself without an escort. Being a captain and being a mob boss made some things impossible though. She was forever more of a captain than a mob boss, even when she felt the business was making her weak there was comfort in knowing she ran things as a proper commander should. It meant giving some things up. It meant knowing that she was looked up to, and set the example for her men to follow.
There were other restrictions as well, she found. If she were male she knew quite well that she would have been able to get away with some things that currently she could not. It was for the best though. The other bosses tended to give way to their vices. She only gave way to one in any public manner, and that was her appreciation for fine Cuban cigars. There were critics who assumed her other public vice was a like for waging war, and while it was satisfying that was not a vice, but a necessity. War was part of life.
She sat in her office and looked over some of the monthly figures. She made a point to budget in someone to edit the movies her group sometimes produced. She didn't need to spend an entire day editing porn ever again.
As she mulled over the paperwork the phone rang. Dutch was calling to let her know that the job was done and that Revy enjoyed the bonus that came with it. Balalaika grinned and arranged a time to pick up the goods. She listened intently to the background noise of Revy and Rock arguing about something trivial and found herself wondering about them. After the call she hung up the phone and called in Boris to let him know what was going on.
"I'll go and meet with the traders then," he said.
"I'll go with you," Balalaika said. "I need to get out of the office for a while." She took in the look of concern on her sergeant's face and shook her head. "You worry too much."
Her men were good soldiers who worried about her, like any good soldiers should worry about their commanding officer. They had all come from the same burning desert. They all felt mildly betrayed by the end of that war, the way it changed people, and the lives it took. They looked to her with respect and for guidance because she had never betrayed them. Though sometimes she felt that, maybe, she had.
Balalaika left with Boris and arrived at the drop off location. Business went as it usually did with Lagoon Company, smoothly, which was why she liked the crew so much. As she was leaving Revy called out to her and she rolled down her window.
"Hey, sis," Revy began. "I meant what I said about that drink."
"I won't forget." She rolled her window back up, looked at her watch, and waited for Boris to get back into the car. "She's rather more eager than usual. Have her meet me at the Minx Bar at twenty-hundred hours. You know where you can find her?"
Boris nodded and then looked at his captain from the rear view mirror. She shook her head and grinned.
"Sometimes a captain has to do things on her own, but I trust your input on this Sergeant, so safety first. Arrange it however you like," Balalaika stated softly.
"Capitan, far be it from me to distrust your judgment, but with the way things have been lately, it might be better to invite the young lady over to the hotel instead," Boris said.
"Too formal, the bar is a better fit, and besides, this is good opportunity to see just how foolish our enemies are," Balalaika replied. "It's too bad the Caribbean Bar is still being repaired. They had a better selection of rum."
Boris nodded. He worried, but it had also been a long time since he had seen that look on his captain's face. It was something that reminded him of the war, the rare instances when things were going well and the captain was happy. That look was a fleeting memory lately, and he realized that it had been a while since he had seen a similar expression on his face as well.
The Minx Bar was less open and a little larger than the Caribbean Bar had been. It was still a bad vantage point, and a likely spot for a drive by attack, but Hotel Moscow had been making slight reparations to help avoid situations that had occurred in the past. Balalaika easily spotted the protection arranged by Boris and took a seat at a table near the back.
No one bothered her and she sat smoking a cigar for about five minutes before Revy walked in and walked up to the bar. From her spot in the back Balalaika could see that the young woman had made a purchase and smiled when she saw the gunwoman approach the table with two empty glasses and a bottle under her arm.
Balalaika eyed the bottle and arched an eyebrow. It was so nice when people weren't cliché. Revy took a seat, opened the bottle of whiskey, and poured out two nearly full tumblers full. The two picked up their glasses and softly clinked them together before drinking. Revy drank her glass in a few quick gulps and Balalaika downed the drink all in one go.
"Thank you." Balalaika said and asked, "Why whiskey?"
Revy shrugged. "I dunno. It was a whiskey day. Usually it's rum, but I figured whiskey was better. Y'know, if I made more money you wouldn't have to suffer through the cheap stuff."
"Perhaps, but sometimes a shot of the cheap stuff lends appreciation for what is fine." The older woman replied.
Revy nodded and poured out two more glasses.
They drank in silence. Balalaika occasionally puffing on her cigar, and Revy lit up a few cigarettes. It had been a long time since they had had a drink together. Revy was still a bit of a novice back then, which was hard to imagine, and Roanapur was still shaking from conflict between the major gangs. Between Hotel Moscow and the Hong Kong Triad things eventually settled, but peace had been achieved at the expense of bullets and blood, and had nearly cost both the Hotel and the Triad their leaders' lives.
Business had obviously become more refined since then, and only on occasion did another syndicate or gang try to stir up unnecessary shit. It was coming to that again, unfortunately. Balalaika could feel it, and with recent bold moves from Abrego and the now deceased Verrochio, it was clear that Hotel Moscow would have to assert itself as a power that was not to be trifled with. It was unfortunate, and coming at a time when Balalaika knew she would have to make another business trip abroad fairly soon. Orders from Moscow had been quite clear.
Balalaika set her glass down and was about to pour out another round when she caught movement from outside. Her senses heightened to danger she muttered under her breath and looked over at Revy.
"Right," Revy said.
"невероятный*," the Russian muttered bitterly, and then shouted something else before grabbing Revy and diving under a booth as an RPG rocketed into the bar.
Those not from Hotel Moscow immediately charged forth without thought, guns blazing, but those with the group remained calm and waited in protected positions with their guns drawn. Balalaika watched the movement around her as she peered from behind a table she had knocked over. Revy had both guns drawn, and made a motion as if to offer one of her guns to the Russian woman, but she was stopped.
"You'll be needing those," Balalaika said quickly, before shouting, "ружье**!"
A semi-automatic rifle was flung from one of the other booths, and Balalaika caught it without much effort or extended movement. She shouted something else that Revy had heard from the trip to Europe. Everything grew quiet and then shots rang out. It was a messy pattern of bullet spray. It was highly unorganized and Balalaika smirked.
"Now!" She shouted.
The rest of the men in the bar moved, including Revy who jumped up to take out the idiots stupid enough to fight the Russians on their own turf. Balalaika waited a beat, and then, crouched behind the table, fired off two shots, one into the man about to fire another RPG, and one into a man firing blindly in an attempt to save himself. Then she stood up and fired one round in Revy's direction.
Revy hit the floor just before the bullet hit her and flew into a man she hadn't quite seen.
After that things were quiet again except for the sound of a few cars speeding away. A few seconds after that and Boris stepped into the bar. Balalaika dusted herself off and gave him a look.
"Mr. Chang called us a little while ago. Two of his guys didn't like the looks of something. It wasn't the cartel or the Italians, not officially anyway." Boris stated quickly.
Balalaika's eyes narrowed briefly. "Ah, a radical group, how quaint. I want them taken care of by tonight."
Some of the other men in the bar saluted as she walked over to where Revy was standing up and picking debris out of her hair.
"Revy, can you carry a message for me to the Triad," Balalaika asked.
"Yeah, sure." Revy said and then looked around. "What a pain in the ass this was." She looked over at prone form of one of the men that had been part of the attack. She kicked his boots. "Hey sis, this one's still moving."
Balalaika grinned and had one of her men turn him over. She frowned and then said, "Well, well… Mr. Clark. It's been a long time."
"You know this punk, sis?"
"Oh yes. Number Ten and I are very well acquainted," Balalaika replied darkly.
To be continued…