The idea of a woman systematically hunting down those who have wronged her or her family is a story element I've always been rather fond of. Junko has a well-established penchant for bloody revenge that has always made me rather think of the Bride in Kill Bill and Yuki in Lady Snowblood (which, of course, influenced Kill Bill heavily).
Therefore, while writing this, I had to use a bit of Beatrice Kiddo's speech to Sophie Fatale, as Kiddo is interrogating Fatale after slicing her way through the Crazy 88 and O-Ren Ishii. To quote, "Every time you lie, I will cut something off. And I promise you, it will be something that you will miss."
Unashamedly badass. And yes, this is yet another entry in my AU where Junko doesn't die. She and Doc and Lady Jaye are still happily wandering about here, quite unaware that they're supposed to be dead. Don't tell them. I think they like it better this way.
Oh, and this is rather dark. There's mention of statutory rape, swearing, and violence. I dunno why the hell I wanted to write it, in all honesty. Particularly when I SHOULD be working on my other unfinished fics. "Shrugs"
I make no money from this. I don't own Kill Bill, Lady Snowblood, or G.I. Joe. WISH I did.
"You wouldn't want to make our master angry, would you?" The woman tugged at his hand encouragingly. "Come along."
Acute anxiety at the idea of his master being upset with him impelled him to follow her. She led him to his quarters, sat him down on the bed. He wasn't sure exactly what she was getting at…but she was kneading his shoulders, and that felt nice, and the lips on his neck felt nicer, and even if his battered, brainwashed mind didn't remember what to do, his body did.
"…Tommy…"She moaned his name, and he wanted to stop, but when he tried she just laughed at him, and then he was strapped into the Brainwave Scanner, and she was still…
…Wait, had the female viper ever spoken his real name?
Someone was shaking him by the shoulder.
"Tommy! You're having a nightmare, love."
Sleep abruptly terminated, Tommy started violently upright. There was a warm female body next to him; he flinched away from it and there was a momentary impulse to kick the woman off the bed and onto the floor. His conscious brain grabbed that deeper instinctive part by the scruff of the neck and gave it a good shake. The woman next to him wasn't the viper from memory and dream, and she probably wouldn't like getting kicked out of bed and onto the cold floor.
He blinked several times, the last of the dream fading. Junko was sitting up, blinking sleepily, obviously just having woken herself. She was eying him with a distinct air of concern. Tommy sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes. He hadn't had this particular nightmare for some time…
"What was it?" Junko asked softly. "You were thrashing and you kept saying 'no'. Was it Mindbender?"
Tommy hesitated for a moment. It would be easier to say yes, to write it off as yet another nightmare of his time in the brainwave scanner. The truth would upset her; these particular dreams agitated her far more than any of his others, and indeed even more than some of her own far-less-than-pleasant memories. He didn't like seeing her upset, but he had also vowed never to lie to his wife…
But Junko knew him far too well, and she knew what the pause meant anyway. "Not Mindbender then." Her expression hardened. "Was it…"
Tommy sighed again. "Yes."
Junko muttered some very bad words under her breath. They weren't directed at him; he distinctly caught a few requests for demons to strike a few particular women down where they stood.
She lay down beside him again and curled herself against his side, offering him all the comfort she could. He almost flinched, but sternly told the memories dredged up by the dream to shut up and after a few minutes began to relax again.
As always, this was made easier by the woman next to him. Tommy let himself be soothed, closing his eyes and forcibly pushing the painful memories and dream back to the little place far down in his brain where they belonged.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She started trailing her fingers in little circles on his chest, which was far more effective at making him feel better than beating the tar out of inanimate objects or hapless Cobra agents had ever been.
"Not really." He sighed. "You know what happened anyway. It was just another re-hash."
She shook her head. "My poor Tommy."
"It's stupid." He muttered under his breath. "It shouldn't matter. It's not like they hurt me."
"But they did." She scowled against his chest, sighed, and rolled upright, reaching for her pillow. "I'll go sleep on the couch if it'll make you more comfortable…"
She eyed him. "You're sure?"
"We've been married too long. I can't sleep without your snoring." Tommy grinned, pointedly breaking the tension.
She scowled at him for a moment, and then smiled back and settled down again. "I'll try to breathe extra loudly just for you, then."
His wife's comforting notwithstanding, it took Tommy a long time to get back to sleep.
Several days later, Tommy had apparently either forgotten about the whole incident or was purposefully not remembering it. Junko, however…well, she hadn't.
So when a letter came for her from a Breaker (Tommy handed it absently to her along with the rest of her mail; she corresponded with several of his old team members, and it wasn't at all odd for her to get letters from them) and she opened it to find simply a name and address, she smiled with what was probably slightly more glee than was really warranted.
It was several months before a mission in the appropriate geographic area came up, but when it did she immediately claimed it.
A week later…
Ellen absently kicked the door shut behind her, dumped her purse onto the table, and headed for the fridge.
She rolled her neck; her spine popped. She examined her right hand, where she'd taken the skin off her knuckles on the punching bag at the gym not an hour ago. She made a mental note to wrap her hands better next time, and then forgot about the minor scrape. She'd had much worse injuries, after all. The bullet scar on her left calf still ached when the weather was changing.
Just as she was reaching for the leftover pork chop a hand clamped over her mouth from behind, and fingers dug hard into her neck.
Pain flared. It was like hitting your funnybone, but it shot all along your spine…
…and then darkness.
When Ellen woke, she was vaguely surprised. Not by the fact that she'd been tied to a chair-very competently, too, with heavy zip ties that she'd no hope of working loose-and gagged with about half a roll of duct tape. Not even particularly surprised that she'd been attacked. Not surprised she'd been knocked out. More surprised that shewas waking up at all.
Honestly, given her past, she'd have been more surprised not to find herself the target of this sort of thing eventually. She'd been very careful at covering her tracks, but then there were people out there who were very good at finding other people for the right amount of money.
However, she'd rather expected to either wake up in a dank basement with a couple of large violent men on the government's payroll or just not wake up at all. She hadn't expected to wake up in her own living room, tied to her own chair.
She also hadn't expected her captor to look like this. She'd expected big, violent men in nondescript black suits and sunglasses, not a lone, rather small woman. Who was, she noted with a pang of anger, settled comfortably on her couch, waiting patiently for her to come around.
The woman was at least wearing black, though it wasn't a suit. More like black pajamas than anything really. She even had a black cloth tied around the lower half of her face and black gloves. Ellen's heart sank; she would have preferred a suit.
Shit. Ellen sighed. Ninja. Fucking ninja. Maybe she just wants information…otherwise, I'd be dead already, wouldn't I?
The woman, smiled under her mask, and without preamble broke the silence. "You're wondering why you're not dead."
"Ordinarily you would be. However, I'd like to talk to you, which of course means that I'll have to take that gag off. And now you're thinking that if you scream loudly enough, your neighbors will hear and call the police, aren't you?"
Dammit. Ellen sighed through her nose and nodded again.
"I thought so. If you scream, you're dead. I am more than capable of making my point, killing you, and getting out of here in the eight to fifteen minutes it would take the police to get here. All it would mean is that I'd have to do it fast and clean and not leave much for the forensics team to work with." Another smile under the mask. "And trust me, I'm good at doing just that, and I could still make it hurt more than you really want it to. Do you understand me?"
Ellen nodded vigorously.
"And are we going to try and scream for help?"
Ellen shook her head emphatically. Her chances of getting out of this were low to nil, particularly if this woman was from one particular clan…but still much better if she complied. She'd no illusions about exactly what a ninja could do in eight to fifteen minutes. She'd seen them work before, after all.
Sure, that particular ninja had perhaps been one of the best in the world…as evidenced by the fact that other ninja attempting to kill him had usually resulted in a nightmare of a cleanup situation for the maintenance staff. (Ellen could still hear them complaining about what they'd found in the ductwork of the Siberia base after that one group of Red Hand had gotten royally pissed at Storm Shadow and tried to kill him while the Commander hadn't been looking.) But still…even the least skilled of the Red Hand had been capable of mind-blowing things.
One of Ellen's greatest regrets was joining Cobra. Not because she had any particular qualms about the work, because she didn't. She'd never been overly burdened with empathy or a conscience. She'd been good at what she did, managing to survive in a job that paid well but had no retirement plan simply because no one lived long enough to retire. After her four year contract was up, she'd quietly left Cobra, and had immediately changed her name, dyed her hair, and moved halfway across the country. Since, she'd managed to parlay her experience into private security jobs and made a comfortable living. She had next to no regrets about her time as, technically, a terrorist footsoldier.
In fact, she'd only really felt guilty about one thing, and even then not until long after the fact.
She'd always rather suspected that her past with Cobra would be the death of her. It wasn't the Commander she was afraid of, or Mindbender, or Destro, or any of the other crazy bastards she'd worked under…Hell, she'd only been mildly frightened by the Joe team, and had managed to escape several tangles with them mostly unscathed…but her duties as a Viper had brought her into direct contact with ninja.
One ninja, in particular. Most of her precautions in covering her tracks…identity changes, erasing records, moving no less than eleven times in the last eight years…had been because of a few interactions with one particular ninja. And if this woman was Arashikage….well, really Ellen's only question was why it had taken them this long.
"Very good. Also know that when I ask you questions, I expect the truth. Every time you lie, I cut something off, and I promise you that whatever it is, you will miss it. Do you understand?" The woman was eying her in a way that, by all rights, should have drilled a hole right through Ellen's skull.
A knife was produced, and the woman sliced through the tape; Ellen tried hard not to flinch. The duct tape was peeled off, taking what felt like at least some skin with it.
"Who are you?" Ellen asked almost immediately.
"I think what you mean by that is 'Who sent you?' and 'What, exactly, are you about to kill me for?'" The woman's eyes crinkled in another vaguely unpleasant smile, and she rolled up her right sleeve.
There were red lines and bars tattooed on the woman's forearm. Ellen closed her eyes for a moment as her heart sank to somewhere in the pit of her stomach. Dead. I'm so dead. God dammit, I wish I'd never set eyes on that man.
"You know," she said quietly, "I always thought it would be him. I never thought he'd send someone else."
"Tommy didn't send me." The woman's voice could have frozen nitrogen. "I doubt he knows where you are, actually, or even that you're still alive. This is a…personal visit."
Ellen blinked. "Then why…"
The woman didn't break eye contact, or speak a word. She silently pulled off her left glove, and held up her hand.
There was a ring on her left ring finger. Yellow gold, with a diamond that was probably worth more than Ellen's car. And, engraved on either side of the diamond, a tiny ji-ji symbol.
Ellen opened and closed her mouth several times, but didn't get any sound out. Her brain was too busy running through exactly all the ways she was about to die to handle trivial things like speech.
The woman pulled her glove back on, still staring unblinkingly at Ellen.
… "Wife?" Ellen finally managed to croak. "You're his wife?"
A nod. "He has nightmares, you know. He says your name-well, your old name-during some of them, which is how I was able to find you. You didn't make it easy, but thanks to him I know people. And here's my question for you; do you ever regret it? Are you ever sorry for what you did?"
Ellen blinked. "What? No 'Why?'"
"I know why. You've only got to look at him to know the why. Answer the question, or something comes off."
Ellen sagged against the back of her chair. "Am I sorry for taking advantage of him? Yes. If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't. But he wasn't supposed to be able to break through the brainwashing, and he forgot everything each time Mindbender freshened up his programming, and at the time I thought I wasn't doing any harm…"
She trailed off at the look on the half of the woman's face that was visible. She'd used this exact logic in her own mind a thousand times to convince herself that her crime hadn't really been all that heinous. However, the scowl on the woman's face was deepening to a snarl, and Ellen shut her mouth hastily.
"He was never a toy for you people to play with." The woman's voice was soft, but very cold. "You cannot even begin to fathom how much agony you've put him through by treating him as an object. I don't expect you to care, but I needed to say that."
Anger got the better of common sense. "I didn't hurt him! He enjoyed it!" Ellen burst out.
The woman moved faster than she'd expected. The fist caught her on the jaw; pain exploded, and there was a sickening cracking sound. After the woman sat back down Ellen spat out a couple of teeth.
As Ellen whimpered and bled profusely, the woman pulled a small piece of paper and a pen out of a hidden pocket. She unfolded the paper, and Ellen caught a glimpse of names; several had lines through them.
The woman drew another line through another name, folded the paper up, and tucked it and the pen back into the front of her shirt.
"Please…" It hurt to talk. "I said I regret it…"
"Only because you knew you'd pay for it eventually. And even if you were…you hurt Tommy."
"Bitch." Ellen snarled. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
A slight shrug. "I've always found that revenge worked out pretty well for me."
"Surprised that you don't have him along." Ellen spat some blood out. "I always thought he'd want a piece of me too."
"I think seeing you would upset him more than killing you would be cathartic for him, really."
"You're a stone cold bitch, you know that?"
The woman just smiled. A knife appeared. Ellen's life started flashing before her eyes; it was a disappointingly short show, sprinkled with several bad decisions that led directly to this moment. "You are a stone cold crazy bitch. I hope you die in a fire…Please…I'll do anything…pay anything…"
The woman stood up.
The woman didn't even blink. There was motion, and brief, sharp pain, and then just darkness.
When his wife returned, she was in an uncommonly good mood. Normally when an agent returned from a mission, what they wanted was a bath, sleep, and something to eat, usually in that order. Tommy knew that that was the exact order he liked the traditional post-mission comforts of home in, at least.
But though she did head directly for their bathroom, she was in a good mood about something. Moreso than mere successful decapitation of high-ranking organized crime bosses usually made her.
Tommy waited until she'd removed her gear, undressed, and was humming to herself in the shower before slipping into their bedroom, padding over to her side of the bed, and opening the drawer on her nightstand. He carefully slid it all the way out, and removed the bit of paper stuck to the back with gummy removable poster adhesive.
They almost never spoke aloud of her occasional little 'side missions'. She'd correctly taken the fact that he'd never tracked down any of the women who'd taken advantage of him during his brainwashed years with Cobra to mean that he didn't want to see them again, even for revenge.
Unfortunately for those women, Junko was highly protective of anything and anyone she loved, and tended to react to harm inflicted upon the people and things she valued with violence. She took the injuries done him by Cobra personally. Particularly those done to him by a few unscrupulous women who'd found him attractive. And thanks to Tommy, she had both the training and contacts to find just about anyone, no matter how well they'd tried to hide.
He smoothed out the paper. There were five names written on it. Four were crossed out; the last time he'd seen it, it had been three.
Junko had always been better than any therapist for him. She'd done more to help him pull together the shattered remnants of his mind and make peace with his demons than any talk with Psyche-Out ever had.
But as loving and understanding and supportive as she was, she was still the same woman he'd met just after she'd exacted brutal and bloody revenge on a man who'd wronged her family. And that had been before he'd given her proper training.
He smiled slightly to himself. I still don't know what I did to deserve you, but I'm not going to argue.
He heard the bathroom door open behind him.
"You know," he said, "you really don't have to do this for me." He folded the paper, put it back, and closed the drawer.
"Yes, I do." She collapsed onto their bed with a sigh and burrowed down under the blankets. Her next words were muffled by the quilt. "Otherwise, they could live long lives and die peacefully. They don't deserve that."
He grimaced. "True. In that case…thank you."
All he got in response was a soft snore.