Disclaimer: I have no claiim on any character you recognize.
A/N: Originally written as a fill for the kinkmeme. As this is a human AU, Denmark is called Abel and Ireland is Bridget.
They meet at a rumble, which is never the ideal place for romance to blossom. Abel looks back fondly on the event, when a pipsqueak barreled him over and sliced him over the eye. When he knocked the blade away and then rammed his fist into the bastard's ribs, a string of curses followed. The voice was little more than a croak, but still feminine enough to make Abel pant out. "Shit. You're a girl."
She doesn't get a chance to answer, because the sounds of sirens begin and everyone is running as fast as they can. Still, as he's vaulting over a fence, Abel is pretty sure that the mystery girl blows him a kiss and winks.
Abel asks around for a couple of days, but nobody knows anything about the new gang, let alone if a girl runs with them. He tries not to worry about it, because he's got bigger problems like his best man getting sent to jail or the scar forming on his eyebrow.
"I know you."
The girl pouring his pint raises one eyebrow, pushes her ginger bangs back in order to squint at Abel. He's giving her his best shit-eating grin, but she seems unimpressed. He winks at her, and then blows a kiss. Her face and ears turn pink, which is pretty cute all things considered.
"I'm afraid you're mistaken, sir."
The voice cinches it. Abel leans across the bar, pulling off his hat, and gently tapping his eyebrow. At the sight of the scar, the girl smiles just a little, like she's remembering something pleasant. Maybe she is.
"Listen, let me buy you dinner and plead my case. At the very worse, you get a boring conversation and a free meal."
As she considers his offer, Abel drains his drink. The girl's smile widens even more and he swears that her blue eyes soften a little as she takes the glass back. Abel wonders absently if she's as good with a gun as she is a knife. Because if she is, he might as well propose, even if she doesn't seem like the type to cry about becoming an honest woman.
"I'll be picking the restaurant." She finally says. "Wait a half hour and my shift will be done."
"Do I get to learn the name of my dinner guest?"
"Not until you make an impression on her."
She goes to deal with another customer after that. Abel stays glued to his seat until it's time to leave.
It costs him a few weeks and probably a dozen dinners, but Abel finally gets the girl to confirm that she's the one who cut him. He also learns her name, Bridget, and that she's not running with that new gang. Oh no, she's leading the damn thing.
She also wants to keep seeing Abel and he certainly has no qualms about it, so they stage a meeting with their respective men and talk business. Together, the two groups map out the city and decide who gets what. As Bridget screams at Berwald, who dares to suggest that she gets less of a share just because she lacks seniority, Abel resists the urge to kiss her. (He tells himself that it's not just because Bridget's inner circle is made up of her brothers, who are all fairly threatening looking when they want to be).
Finally, an agreement is met and they all shake on it. Bridget squeezes his hand a little too tightly and holds on for a little too long. Abel's grin is as vicious as it had been when he was shaking with Arthur.
Later that night, they meet up in a cheap hotel that neither has a claim on and do what young couples do in cheap hotel rooms across the country. They get breakfast in a small diner, snapping at each other because they've each missed something important by sleeping in. (For Abel, it's a fight with some guys from out of state. For Bridget, it's Mass and her brothers will be pissed).
This doesn't keep them from repeating the incident whenever they have time to. Both label these meetings in their planners as 'business meetings', because they do talk about it briefly before getting dinner and doing something else. It's not entirely pleasant but it's definitely not horrible. If anyone else suspects what's going on, they don't mention it.
"Didn't expect to see you here, Red."
Bridget doesn't bother turning around when there is suddenly a very male voice breathing down her neck. At least, she doesn't turn around until she gets a proper hold on her gun. Then, she twists sharply and slams it into the jaw of the man who is snaking an arm around her waist. The bastard barely winces, instead grinning at her with his blue eyes shining.
"Funny, because the last time I checked, this pub was clearly part of my turf." She grins back and it's all teeth. "Also, I remember telling you that I hated that nickname, Abel."
He grimaces briefly then, because he hates his name and they both know this. Then, Bridget lowers her gun and is kissing Abel quite soundly on the mouth, taking a fistful of blonde hair to pull him down. The man makes a laughing sound before kissing her back. They break apart when the bartender coughs awkwardly behind them and Bridget is smiling softly as she leads him to a table in the back corner.
"I'll buy." He says right away, ordering them both a beer. "Now, about that skirmish earlier this week…"
Bridget frowns deeply. The skirmish had been, in reality, Abel shooting one of her men for crossing a border. It wasn't fair though, because even if Arthur was a bit of an arse, he still deserved a warning shot. She tells Abel so, along with demanding reparations for months that Arthur was going to be on bed rest.
"No way! Fifth Street is one of the main roads that we use to move our products. A man's gotta protect what's his!"
Abel bangs his fist against the table for emphasis, making the poor waiter jump as he delivers the pints. Bridget thanks the lad, but turns back to Abel with eyes like a snake's. Lowering her voice, she slides her foot under the table in order to run it down his calf.
"And I have to protect what's mine, which includes my baby brother, even when he's a fecking idiot. You have brothers, so I'm sure you know what I mean. The little one is still in school, isn't he?"
Abel frowns deeply and takes a swig of his drink. "Some people might see that as a threat, Red."
"They'd be seeing it for what it is. I'd hate for something to happen to the boy just because I can't meet my customers' demands with my best rum runner out of duty because he's got bullet holes in his side."
There is a long silence between the two of them, with Abel taking quick sips of his drink and Bridget running her foot up and down his leg slowly. Finally, when his pint is empty and she pushes her own glass forward, the blonde sighs and pushes back with his own foot under the table.
"Berwald and Tino have been training a new kid, his name is Alfred or something; you can use him for a couple of months. His dad's a cop, so he's not going to get stopped anytime soon."
Bridget grins brightly and takes one of his hands, squeezing it. "You spoil me, dearest."
Abel grumbles back good-naturedly, looking down to keep his smile from showing. He likes the feel of her hand, because it's rough like his own and shows that Bridget wasn't afraid of a little hard work. If circumstances were different, he might have married her one day.
"Hey, the cinema is neutral ground, right?"
It's a question that needed to be asked, because Berwald is the one that memorized all the different zones of the city, especially all the new changes that happened since Bridget began her take-over. The Irishwoman nods once, curiosity growing along with Abel's grin.
"What do you have in mind?"
"I like to take a lady out every now and then. But, since no ladies will have me, I'll have to settle for you, Red."
Bridget threatens to shoot him, before laughing and taking the arm being offered to her.
"How's Alfred working out for you guys?" Abel asks a few months later, between drags of his cigarette.
On the other side of the bed, Bridget rolls her eyes and groans. While the boy is eager to learn and really doesn't get caught by cops, he fights with Arthur day and night. It's gotten especially worse ever since her brother started to hobble around the place, because he wants his job back.
Abel, the smug bastard, just laughs and pulls her to his chest with one arm. There's a section of raised skin right where her cheek is, some kind knife wound. Bridget knows it's a part of the job and she's got plenty of scars of her own, but it still upsets her for some unknown reason.
"I'm never taking a favor from you again." She says, because it's easier than telling him how much she hates his scarred flesh.
"We both know that's a lie, Red. I'll be doing favors for you until one of us dies or gets sent to jail."
Abel's voice is light, but she can't laugh at that. Instead, she rolls on top of him and smacks him on the side of the head. He glares at her and yanks her by the chin until they're kissing. In the process, Abel forgets his cigarette and winds up dragging it across her cheek, leaving a burn. She ignores the pain in order to keep kissing him.
When he notices the burn later, it's during a fight with a crowd of her men around her. Abel does what he has to and sneers at her, blood spilling out from his nose. "Looks like you need to be more careful when you play with fire, Red."
He manages to slip away a little later, because while he can be stubborn as a mule, Abel knows when he's outmatched. Alfred is the one to help Bridget bandage up the others and as they wash the blood from their hands, he muses out loud. "I didn't even notice that burn mark until he mentioned it. Funny, huh?"
Abel gets brought into the station by a cop for some bar brawl and when they realize exactly who he is, they bring out a list of charges half his height. He's only actually done a third of them himself, but helped with the rest. He's probably looking a lot of jail time, but if she'll wait for him, he'll write her a letter each day. (These are the things he says to Bridget when she comes to visit him.)
"I would've called you, but you know I only get one and I had to call my brothers. M'sorry."
"Don't be. I know I'd want my brothers to do the same, if they had to."
Under the careful watch of a guard, she reaches into the cell to touch his cheek. Abel is really thankful in that moment that Bridget can make herself look innocent as a schoolgirl, because there's no other way she'd have gotten in. After a while, she turns doe-eyes that Abel knows all too well onto the guard and pleads that they have a moment alone. Her voice is soft and embarrassed, like Bridget had no idea that this could happen to the man she loves.
The cop is Irish (all the cops these days seem to be) and tells Bridget that she reminds him of his own daughter, which is why they're getting five minutes and nothing more. She thanks him with a teary voice and waits until he's gone to narrow her eyes and pull a lock pick out of her purse.
"You're the biggest fecking idiot in the world." She tells him as she works. "How the hell do you become one of the biggest gangsters on this side of the city, but get caught in a goddamned bar fight?"
Abel smiles at her, because even though she's mad, Bridget is still breaking him out. This is probably the very picture of true love and any poet who wants to argue otherwise can shove it. Finally, there's a click and the door swings free. He thanks her by pulling her tight to his chest and pressing a quick kiss to the top of her head.
"Let go, you bastard. We've only got about three minutes to get out through the loo and then run like Satan himself is at our heels."
Bridget takes hold of Abel by the arm and yanks him all the way until they get outside of the station. They have to run after that, because a get away car would be too risky and she reluctantly lets go to him until they reach her safe house nearly twelve blocks away. It's an apartment above a warehouse building with no heat, but it'll be home to Abel until this blows over.
Only then, with three locks on the door and her own gun placed in his hands, does Bridget let him kiss her before they make their way to the mattress resting in the corner.
Alfred is the one who figures them out in the end after his few months of service has turned into three years and his bickering with Arthur just blends into the white noise of all the other siblings arguing. He comes to Bridget after an official meeting between the two gangs and asks. "How long have you been fucking Abel?"
For a brief moment, Bridget is proud, because the first year or so, the boy refused to swear in her presence, because 'she's a lady'. She's good enough at what she does not to look surprised and keeps on cleaning her gun.
"What would give you that idea, dear?"
"The bite mark on your neck for one."
Bridget resists the urge to clamp her hand over the mark, instead putting down her gun and glaring at Alfred. The boy doesn't flinch, but his ears burn a dark red. He'd surely win if they got into a fist fight, but Bridget doesn't concern herself with fighting fair. They both know that she keeps a little knife in her boots and that she's deadly with it.
Alfred gets over his fear though and gives her a kind look.
"I don't plan on ratting you guys out or anything, but Tino still tells me things. Berwald has been unhappy with how Abel's been running things and he wants to take over, no matter what it takes. I reckon that if you want to keep your beau, the two of you will have to hit the road."
Bridget considers this, along with the fact that Alfred is entirely too kind for the career he's chosen for himself. Finally, she puts her gun back together in one fluid motion and crosses the room in two strides. He does flinch this time, which makes her eyes crinkle as she kisses his cheek.
"I'll talk to him." She says, but what she really means is thank you.
The end begins, because Abel doesn't believe that his brother would turn on him. And he doesn't just tell this to Bridget, he screams it at her as she stands in the doorway to his apartment. She screams right back at him, because she's trusted Alfred with her life before and he'd never lie to her.
They wind up waking up the neighbors, who threaten to call the police if they don't take it inside. That's exactly what they do and it turns into a brawl as soon as Abel slams the door shut.
It's a little like the first time they met, both of them landing punches and kicks wherever they can manage as they roll around on the floor. Except, both of them have spent a good number of years watching the other fight, so each has their own advantage. Abel, for example, manages to get the knife away from Bridget as soon as it's pulled out. He cuts his own hand and her eyebrow in the process. Then, wildly, Abel starts to laugh.
He laughs like a man gone mad and Bridget is trapped, arms pinned above her head and all his weight keeping her down. After a brief struggle she gives in and demands to know what's so funny. Abel wipes some of the blood off of her forehead and says. "We're a matching pair, Red."
Bridget does not join in his laughter. Instead she wretches him off her and heads for the door. Abel finally shuts up, but stays right where he is when he asks what she thinks that she's doing.
"I may be stupid enough to love you, but I'm not going to put myself through the torture of watching you get killed. I've got enough self-preservation for that, at least."
The actual end comes a few days later, when Abel's called her enough times begging for her forgiveness. Bridget doesn't give it, but does agree to a drink. Because he's secretly a romantic, Abel brings her to the pub where they met for the second time.
She's expecting more apologies, but he's quiet for the first few drinks. Bridget is planning on leaving when he pulls something from his pocket and slides it across the table. They're train tickets; one way and apparently for California. She stares at them for a little bit, completely dazed, before saying. "I don't know how to swim."
"What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
"There are lots of beaches in California. I can't swim."
Abel doesn't laugh at her, but it's a close thing with the grin that's practically splitting his face in two. He keeps grinning as they leave the pub, deciding to go to his place to pack, then head back to Bridget's because it's closer to the train station. She grins right back at him and kisses his cheek as Abel fumbles with the lock of his apartment door.
"I can teach you to swim." He says as the door opens and it's the last words he'll ever speak, because then a bullet goes sailing right through his head and into the wall behind them.
Berwald must have been waiting inside the apartment for hours while they were out. The bastard seems confused now, because he wasn't planning on Abel bringing a guest home. Bridget shrieks like a banshee and lunges at him, fury making every part of her body burn.
They struggle for a bit, because Berwald may be bigger, but Bridget is fighting with the knowledge that Abel is slumped on the ground, a grin still frozen on his face. The gun is shoved under her chin eventually though and she thinks this is okay, I'll see Abel and it may not be in California but it's damn well good enough for me.
There's the crack of gunshot ringing out in the night and Bridget swears that she's going deaf, but she's not dead. Alfred is towering above her, hands shaking ever so slightly as he holds the gun that Bridget gave him on his last birthday. His aim still needs improvement, because he hit Berwald in the throat, not the head.
"I was tailing you, because Abel came and told me what he wanted to do. I was supposed to make sure you guys got back safe, but I didn't think of checking the apartment and I'm so, so sorry, Bridget. Swear to God, I am."
She stands on shaky legs and presses a kiss to his mouth, feeling a bit like a tramp, because Abel is watching them and not watching at the same time. The kiss is to shut Alfred up know and Bridget is positive that he'd understand. The kid is still shaking like a goddamn leaf and she is reminded just how young he is.
"You're going to go back and tell everyone else what happened. Abel and I got into a disagreement at the pub. We got into a fight and I followed him back home and shot him. Berwald found me and we got into a fight. He shot me and you saw it all because you were following behind me. You shot at Berwald once then you ran to get the others."
Alfred is halfway through a nod when he freezes. Very softly, he points out. "But, Bridget, you didn't get shot."
She kisses him again, this time on the forehead. It should be odd to feel motherly to someone who towers above you, but Alfred is barely twenty and his eyes would tell anyone that he's too good for what he does. Those baby blues are watering now, even as he scrubs furiously at his face in an effort not to cry. Bridget brushes away one of his stray tears.
"Trust me, kid, it's better this way. There's about a thousand bucks in cash under my mattress. Do the right thing."
He nods again and then hurries off, but Bridget still waits until she hears a door slam before heading back towards the doorway. Desperately, she wants to run a hand through Abel's hair, but it's sticky with drying blood now, the light blonde turning a sick black. Dropping to one knee, she presses a kiss to one of his hands. The cold there reassures her that what she's about to do is the right thing.
"I'll see you soon," She promises in a cracking voice, before heading back into the apartment for Berwald's gun.