Hey guys! As you might've guessed from the last chapter, things will pretty much be all action from here on out. If you've made it this far I hope you'll continue reading! I own nothing; enjoy and R&R!

Ch 16: The Volcano Erupts

"What now, Boss?" Benny asked as the Lagoon company gathered outside the shady little cabaret theatre in Staten Island. Balalaika had left them to their own devices for the moment, heading to the Russian embassy to make arrangements for their departure a long with a little sweet talking to get the Albanian mafia forces smooth passage out of the country. All said and done, it was a process that would take quite a while.

"Well," Dutch sighed as he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a map that had a few points of interest marked. "We got time enough for a little sight seein' while we're just hangin' around." He let his eyes wander down the map and to a particularly interesting landmark that was only a couple blocks away. "I suggest we start our tour off a couple blocks down at the nearest watering hole. Lord knows it might be good to get some alcohol in our veins before we get tossed back into the damn fryin' pan."

"That's the truth." Benny conceded his agreement with a smile, turning to regard the two heaviest drinkers of the group with curiosity since neither of them had said anything on the subject. "You guys coming?"

Rock looked as if he'd been snapped out of some deep thought; something that had been happening increasingly more often as of late. He just shook it off and offered the hacker a good-natured smile. "Sure, I'm in." Maybe a little alcohol was what he needed to get over his distress from yesterday. It was the cross he bared as an overly compassionate soul. It just wasn't in his nature to be content standing idly by as people around him suffered. This feeling was made worse by the fact that he now knew details of Revy's tortured past, yet he was powerless to do anything about it. Add to that the whole mess with Shinji and he had come to be wound tighter than a golf ball.

Oh yes, Rock needed a drink, alright.

Just as he had given his answer and made to move toward the other two and join them in their short walk, Revy's hand pulled him back by his jacket sleeve. He turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow and she offered Dutch the explanation.

"Sorry, Boss-man. I've got my own business to deal with, and this guy's comin' along." The company boss simply shrugged and Benny offered one final temptation as they each turned to go their separate ways.

"Suit yourselves."

As an afterthought, Dutch called back to the pair over his shoulder, "We'll meet back up at the hotel."

Since Rock was not at all familiar with the streets of New York City, he was content to let Revy lead him through the crowds of pedestrians as they meandered down turn after turn. He didn't have the slightest idea where she was taking him right now, but judging by the shift her disposition had taken toward broody, he had a pretty good idea what the final destination of their trek through the streets would be, and he wasn't relishing the idea of returning to that haunted place.

"We're going to Mott Street again, aren't we?" Rock maneuvered politely past a pregnant woman and two hobos in the middle of a shouting match over whose corner was whose.

"Yes." Was Revy's simple offer. Other than her typical darkened mood when in the face of her past, it struck Rock that she was notably calmer about this trip than she had been yesterday. There was almost a peaceful nature—a resolve—to the conflicting storm of emotions going on behind her eyes. Rock didn't know what to make of it.

Hell, she didn't even seem to notice or care when some big, tall, fat guy bumped into her on the sidewalk. On any other occasion that incident would've been grounds for the gunwoman to unleash a rather brutal string of insults and profanities.

Eventually, Revy found that she had walked far enough to allow her mind to clear sufficiently for the task at hand. Conveniently, her feet had led her to the bus stop to Manhattan.

The gunslinger didn't waste any time in plopping herself down on the vacant bench and lighting up a soothing cigarette. Rock, on the other hand, opted to remain standing at her side.

He would always stay at her side.

Revy shook excess ash from the tip of her cigarette twice before either of them broke the half-comfortable silence that had settled in between them.

"Aren't you strapped for cash, yet?" Rock questioned of her in a tone that was slightly joking, and in answer, she turned to him with a raised brow and offered a simple grunt.

"Well, between the long taxi trips yesterday and the room service at the hotel, you've been forking over quite a bit of cash. I'm just saying…wouldn't it be cheaper to take the ferry?"

Revy scoffed, excreting a cloud of smoke from her nose and looking rather like a dragon in the process. "Dipshit…you get the same paycheck I do, you know full well we can afford that shit." The half-smoked cigarette was dropped and crushed beneath her boot as she offered Rock a friendly smirk, "Besides, this is faster. I wanna get this fuckin' over with."

"Well…actually, once you account for Manhattan's traffic, it's probably close to the same."

"Shut up." Revy grimaced with mild irritation and countering Rock's remark with a threat, "Keep runnin' that damn mouth o' yours and you'll be paying our fare."

The timbre of her voice had taken on its typical venomous quality, but to Rock's pleasure, the effect was negated by the grin that crept across Revy's face. Despite the apprehension that shrouded both of them at the thought of going back to Mott Street, and the terrible memories that would no doubt dredge themselves up again, the mood between Lagoon Company's dynamic duo was a good deal lighter today than it had been yesterday.

Still, it was the unknown about Revy's unfinished business that troubled Rock and kept him from relaxing completely. What could she possibly need to go back for?

It was more than a half hour later that the pair of them finally arrived at the old apartment building on Mott Street. The climb up the decaying staircase was a torment made worse with each step by the knowledge of just how exactly this place fit in to the puzzle that was Revy. He knew that however he might feel about this place, Revy's feelings were at least a hundred times worse, so it baffled the businessman as to why on earth she would want to come back!

It was just a short while later after they'd finished their climb and the short walk through the apartment and into that forgotten back bedroom that Rock received some kind of explanation from the gunslinger. They stood in silence inside the old crime scene for several moments. Revy was apparently lost in memories of her past in this place and Rock had numerous questions swirling around in his mind, but had sense enough to know that whatever was going on with his partner needed to happen.

He probably had missed it earlier because of his ignorance about what had happened inside this residence, but today, there was an eerie chill that seemed to hover over the room like some sentient fog. It diffused through the room to waiver and then peak in certain spots, while simultaneously wrapping itself around the occupants in a shroud of gloom. That was why Rock was surprised when he looked over to see Revy standing near where the bed was with her eyes closed and an odd look of serenity on features that he had only seen this relaxed while the gunwoman was asleep and oblivious to the filth that plagued her in her waking hours. He felt his mouth fall open but remained rooted where he stood when he saw the faintest of smiles begin at the corners of her mouth immediately followed by her hand retrieving the lighter from her pocket while she stepped toward the curtains.

Rock understood now.

With a simple flick of her wrist, a small spark from the lighter was all it took for the curtains above the bed to be set ablaze. Just as quickly and easily as it had come, the strange expression was gone from Revy's face and her demeanor was replaced with an attitude that Rock was more familiar with.

"Well?" She continued to walk casually toward the door, only addressing him when he failed to move, "You can either move your fuckin' ass or stand here and come out lookin' like fry face. I ain't gonna fuckin' carry you outta here like some bullshit fireman."

The white collar simply smiled and obliged his partner. After what he witnessed from her in that room, he knew that this return to her typical disposition was more than likely out of habit and preference rather than any inability to conduct herself otherwise…not that he expected any sudden miraculous change from her. It would take some time to exorcise the ghosts of her past completely.

There was no time for him to dwell on his thoughts any further. The rotten old wood and dusty furniture that remained inside Revy's childhood home provided excellent fuel for the flames and it didn't take long before they both began to feel the heat tickling at their retreating backs. They dashed down the staircase at a pace that seemed hugely faster than the one they had taken going into the place, and in less than a minute, they were out in the open again.

The pair stood there on Mott street's main thoroughfare for a brief moment before Revy reacclimated herself and tugged Rock roughly by his tie into a nearby alley before they could be noticed. "Come on!" She ordered in her usual sharp tone, leaving the businessman to give a small yelp as he was yanked off his footing with surprising force. They followed the twists and turns of Chinatown's back alleys for several minutes without any words spoken between them. Nothing really needed to be said at the moment: Revy had done what she came to do and knew that her partner understood the importance of it, and Rock knew that now or anytime soon would not be the right time for any discussion on the issue. Both of them were running on the adrenaline that came with outrunning a blaze and the risk of being caught burning down an entire building in a country that wasn't quite as lenient as Thailand.

Soon enough, they came to a stop somewhere a few blocks away from the vacant apartment. Just as they did, a firetruck zipped by in a blur of yellow just after the sounds of sirens met their ears. Rock looked back toward the direction they originally came from and noticed that smoke was beginning to appear in the sky. He looked over at Revy and she seemed transfixed by the sight of the dark puffs as they billowed into the atmosphere.

Then, it shattered.

As suddenly as she had grown hypnotized by the smoke, she came crashing back to her senses as the presence of another being was made known to them by the whistled strains of Twisted Nerve echoing through the backstreet. There was something about that whistle…it made her uneasy. She acted immediately and made some attempt to pull Rock with her into what little shelter there was. As the whistling continued and grew closer, she struggled to remember why that specific pitch and style was so damn familiar.

"Revy…what the…?" Rock protested against being shoved so roughly and so suddenly without any reason apparent to him, but it fell on deaf ears. Then the whistling ceased just as the gunslinger remembered the noise. Her eyes flew open in horrified recognition.

"Shit!" She couldn't deal with them on their own turf! She'd be put away for the rest of her life for sure!

Just as the thoughts crossed her mind, two middle-aged men rounded the corner into their part of the alleyway. Rock spotted them just a split second before Revy. One was tall and thin with a rather gaunt facial structure, while the other was shorter and more burly in his appearance. They both looked at Revy with the same depraved gleam in their eyes. The white collar was quick to note that they wore suits but both had NYPD badges adorning their belts indicating to him that they were detectives. That was when he realized it…these must've been the same two cops Revy had run afoul of as a child; obviously, they'd been promoted at some point.

The pair from Lagoon acted in sync, turning to look at the predatory detectives with widened eyes. Though she knew using them here would only get her in more hot water, Revy rapidly drew each of her cutlasses and aimed them at the crooked cops. Her eyes had gone hollow and her tone dangerous…a front for the fear she felt within. Funny, for all the gunfights she had been in since joining Dutch, she still found herself on the border of fear paralysis when staring her past in the face.

"And just what the fuck do you shitty little pigs want?"

She cocked the hammer on each cutlass to try and string this bluff further along, but the two men merely drew on her in return as they continued to step closer and the fierce grins on their faces grew more depraved with the malignant amusement they got from her show of intimidation.

The thinner of the duo gave a long chuckle as the gap between him and his prize closed. "What do you think we want…Rebecca?" Revy stepped back nervously and fired off a few rounds above his shoulder and into the brick wall behind him. In the meantime, Rock had found himself unable to move as the other cop trained his gun on the businessman. He was forced to watch as these men from Revy's past continued to back her into a corner both literally and emotionally.

"God dammit; stop right there!" More shots were fired and each one missed, but none of them had any effect. The detective knew that his prey could not afford to get in trouble for murdering the two of them. However, her shots were certain to draw attention and so he had to wrap this up quickly. With another step, he grasped both of her cutlasses and threw them down onto the ground from her shaking hands, taking the time to lean in and catch the scent of gunpowder, cigarettes, and sweat that lingered in her hair.

Rock's blood was beginning to boil at the sight but he didn't have to wait long before his partner protested that last action rather violently, sending a hard sucker punch into his gut. His joy was short-lived however, when she was backhanded across the face in return while both of the detectives laughed. This wasn't right! He should be doing something about this!

Rock let out a low growl, the likes of which Revy had never heard from him and punched the man holding a gun on him square in the jaw before rounding on the other one with fury in his eyes.

"Just who the hell are you that you think you can go around beating up pedestrians for your own sick pleasure?" Even in Roanapur Rock had come to learn that people didn't often kill or brutalize others "just because".

He grew more infuriated at hearing that same twisted laugh. "Well, I'm the man with the badge and gun, and you're just a dumb little nip."

Rock was so worked up that he ignored Revy's attempts to warn him as he continued to bear down on this cop. "Oh? And that gives you the right to be high and mighty with civilians? What about her?" He pointed a finger in Revy's direction.

"Rock! Turn the fuck around, would ya!"

"You shot at an unarmed innocent little girl just because you fucking felt like it! Tell me how your badge makes that oka—" Before he could continue any further, the cop he had punched returned the favor and sent Rock sailing about three feet across the alley. Revy snarled slightly, but wasn't concerned for his well-being. Hell, she'd dished out worse to him than that.

"Shut the fuck up, you little shit." Rocks attacker barked, before he leaned over to pick up his gun.

The apparent leader of the two returned his attention to Revy and spoke, "Now listen up, you little Chink bitch. We're gonna take a little ride down to the station, and you can either come peacefully or die."

Revy's hands twitched with the desire to crack this man's skull open, but she fought hard to resist after he spoke again.

"Oh, and we'll make it painful for Romeo over here." Rock was just now struggling to peel himself off the pavement, incredulous at this turn of events. He was completely outraged at what the officer just said.

"To the station? For what?"

"Do you wanna get punched again, tough guy? It ain't your business." The short chubby detective glared at him, almost daring him to open his mouth again. He did.

"You can't possibly have any legitimate reason to hold her. The statute of limitations should've run out a long time ago on any crime she's still wanted for in the states."

"Well…actually." The cop leered, attempting to stroke the side of Revy's face and recoiling his hand quickly when she snapped. "As it happens, there's been a string of arsons in the city lately, and look at you, not even five blocks away from the most recent one." He pointed to the sky where the smoke was still billowing.

Revy and Rock both grew confused at that statement, their faces contorted into twin looks of befuddlement.

"Wait, how the fuck could you know it's arson if the fuckin' campire's still blazing?"

"You fucking followed us here!" Rock's jaw dropped and both cops snickered like two delinquent schoolboys.

"Bingo! Now, if you'll excuse us, boy. We have somewhere to be." He tugged on Revy's arm and began pulling her out of the alley with little resistance from her for the moment. Rock struggled to follow behind as the shorter detective continued to brandish a gun at him to ward him off.

"Wait…Revy!"

With a resigned, but somehow confident look mixed with a tinge of fear, Revy turned to fix him with a brief glance and gave him some parting instructions before they turned a corner and he was forced to watch her be shoved into the back of an unmarked vehicle.

"I'll be fine, Rock. Just go call someone."

Rock screamed as the car pulled away and turned around to vent some pent up aggression against the wall. He drew back bloody knuckles but continued to rain a few more punches against the brick and mortar. Call someone? Who the hell was he supposed to call? Dutch didn't have any current ties in New York city that would be of use in this situation, Balalaika had her hands full and would most likely view Revy as expendable in the grand scheme of her war.

Then it struck him; he knew who to call. He didn't know why in the world this would work, but he knew it would.

That's 16. I apologize for the long wait. I really had no intention of taking that long to update. Anyway, please R&R!