dedication: to Les.
notes: happy birthday, you old fart (you're getting this early. shut up.)
title: tonight the world dies
summary: "I'm not high enough for this," Rei says, and puts out her cigarette. — Rei/Jadeite.
"You don't get to do this," she says. She's slouched back against colourless brick, the skin of her shoulders starkly pale against it. Her eyes are bottomless black wells in the half-light of the street-lamp. "You don't."
"Fuck, don't call me that, are you trying to blow my cover?" she snarls at him. The cherry of her cigarette burns as brightly as she does; Jakob knows that if he touches her, he'll get burnt. That's how it always was, anyway—but then again, Mars never did take well to apologies. He watches as she runs a hand through her hair.
"Rei," she says. "I'd prefer my last name, but you won't have that, will you, Jadeite," she says but doesn't ask, and drags in deep on the cancer stick. It looks wrong against her skin, a dirty white with a dirtier filter, and he eyeballs her up and down again.
She looks like murder, all in black with pointy shoes, and she tips her head to the side and smiles at him as she blows out the smoke. She's all sharp, this incarnation of Mars; sharp elbows, sharp eyes, sharp knees to the groin.
(She did that to him the first day they met, and then she let Venus pull her away. They'd stalked off together, the two of them, and Jakob had felt the hiss and pull of Kunzite trying not to throw his not-inconsiderable weight after the pair of them. Princess Serenity—Usagi, this incarnation is Usagi—had smiled too brightly, and Mercury had closed her eyes. Jupiter hadn't even looked at them at all.)
"Rei," he replies. The name rolls off his tongue, unfamiliar—he'd known her once as Cyrene, but that had been a very long time ago. Longer than either of them really know, even.
"Yes," she says. "Rei. Did you not hear me the first time?"
"I heard you," he says, half-stupid with wonder, just watching her. He's watched her dance with living fire—the memories are there, he can see them clear as day. She spun Martian fortunes as she danced, wove them into the very fabric of the air around her, and the Moon's Court watched in stunned silence—but somehow he's struck by her now, swallowed in the shadows, looking to be one of Chaos' more beautiful more deadly creations.
"Good," she says. She taps the cigarette to free it of ash. "I won't repeat it. And please understand."
She pauses, assures herself she has his attention (as though anything could ever take his attention away from her, Jakob thinks, smarmy), and speaks slowly and softly, a mercy-kill in the works. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be. Are we clear?"
"Crystal," he replies. It's an old, worn line. It makes an effort, but only falls flat.
Mercury's translators work remarkably well. He'd expect no less from the Mercurian—human, it made no difference—princess. She'd handed them out, quiet and graceful, and taken her leave, and now he's here with Mars, beautiful, dangerous Mars—Rei. She is Rei. This woman is not the Mars he knew.
They could be twins, but they are not the same person. Sparks snap along her fingers. Rei. Rei. Rei.
"I'm not high enough for this," Rei says, and puts out her cigarette.
He thinks she's going to incinerate him.
He thinks he might deserve it.
"Anyway," she shrugs her shoulder, and her hair spills down her front. It's blacker than her dress, blacker than black, so black it's almost purple, and he remembers, he remembers, he remembers. "We have things to do. But you don't get to guilt me. Not here. Not now. Not ever."
The last word comes out with such venom that Jakob is surprised she hasn't spit in his face.
From what the memories say, she'd certainly have the rights to it. But she hasn't and she doesn't, and she's moving, deft on her death-trap heels. The club is pounding music and lights and she walks straight past the bouncers with only a flutter of her lashes and the tiniest half-smile he's ever seen.
The bouncer grins and shakes his head at her, but lets her through.
Jakob is about to follow her, but the asshole bouncer is in his way. "Wait in line, kid, with the others. Not everyone is Hino-sama."
"He's with me, Jun, let him through," she waves a hand, and the guy steps back to let Jakob pass. He treads lightly; he's blonde and blue-eyed and clearly a foreigner. But fuck that. Because if nothing else, he survived Siberia on a bad day; she's just a woman, just the love of all his lifetimes, just a fiery, angry princess.
"Don't fuck around with her, kid," the guard whispers quietly. "Bitch like that'll eat you alive."
Jakob nearly laughs with the irony of it.
If only they knew.
You don't just come back from killing your soulmate. You just don't. It's not easy, it's not pretty, and Rei, she's already gone, disappeared into the writhing mass of people on the floor.
The air is dense, here, thicker than mud. Jakob skitters backwards, tries to find a table—but only finds Rei, caught in the harsh light of the strobe. She mouths something at him, but the room is long and he's lost in the fog and this could be death again; all his death was her taunting, furious voice and the sight of her crimson skirt flaring as she turned a corner.
And here she is again, only he's deaf beneath the pulse from music so loud it makes his teeth clatter, and he follows, follows, follows—that is what he is good at, following his brothers and his prince until he… doesn't.
Metallia curls in his throat and laughs.
He shakes the memory away.
That's all the witch is, now.
And Rei dances, red and purple light slicking off her shoulders, off her hair. Jadeite is hungry and Jakob is hungry and hunger is a fierce thing. It gnaws in your belly and strips you down to nothing, and there is nothing for it but to feed it.
The energy in the air could have done that, once; it would have fed the hunger, and he would be satisfied.
It would only make him feel dirty, now.
He crosses the floor. Even her hips are sharp, tonight—the jut out into his palms, sharp like her shoulders, like her collarbones, like her heels. He thinks she's going to stab him, but then, Mars was never so uncouth.
She would let the fire consume him slowly, and she would listen as he screamed.
Her mouth presses up against his ear, hot and wet and her teeth are sharp, sharp, sharp as they dig into his earlobe. "There," she says with her teeth still dug into his flesh, "in that corner."
They spin in tandem; it is muscle memory, and muscle memory only. Jakob finds himself staring at a darkly-tanned girl with red hair and white eyes, and Jadeite can see the Chaos seething around her. His arms go tight around Rei's—no, now this is Mars, he can see the spark, this is Mars—waist, and they spin again. He holds her there. He holds her there.
"Not yet," he murmurs into the crook of her neck. "Wait."
"There is no waiting, Jadeite, she's coming this way," Mars hisses the emphasis on his name, and suddenly she—it—slithers up behind them. Its hands curl over Jakob's over Rei's hips, and it latches down to suck against the column of Rei's neck.
Rei whimpers, and the sound goes straight to his cock, and this, this is out of line, he can see it in her eyes but she pulls him down by the back of the neck and kisses him, hard and sharp, and there is a monster sucking on her but neither of them are inclined to care. This is war is retribution is hatred is forgiveness. It's all the same, in the end.
He never knew why he thought it should be any different.
Jakob grinds down against her, and she makes a different sound, high-pitched and breathier and that's his girl. He smirks against her lips, and he can feel her ire. It's good, like this, to be this close again.
He didn't think he'd ever have the chance.
It's pretty fucked up, too, but what'cha gonna do?
"D'you wanna go somewhere?" the monster pants against Rei's throat, and one of its hands has made its way to Jakob's crotch, and he snarls "Yes," because that's their cue—they get out of here, take the monster with them, and then obliterate it.
They make a decent team, he thinks.
He's half drunk on the scent of her skin. Rei drapes one arm over the monster's shoulders and the other slings too easily around his waist. Jakob thinks it'll be a miracle if he makes it out of the night alive. The three of them wind through the crowd towards the door, and the bouncer just shakes his head as they pass.
"You're in over your head, kid," he murmurs.
Jakob spits. In over his head. Doesn't he know it.
And he catches the curve of Rei's smile in the reflection of dark glass as they slip into an alley and slink along the walls; they could be a sketchy drug deal or a threesome or even a murder in the making, and in this part of town, no one's going to ask questions.
No one gives a shit, anyway.
And then Rei slams the monster-girl against the wall, hitches her leg up around her hip and kisses her, and Jakob is struck utterly dumb. He realizes that she's giving him time to change, to pull his armour on, but all he can see is black-and-white and against a storm of colour, and the monster-girl makes a soft, quickening sound in her throat.
"Hungry, aren't you," Rei murmurs.
Jakob thinks she might be speaking to them both, but the monster-girl nods fast, red hair everywhere, and goes "Yes, yes, hungry, yes."
Another murmur slips past Rei's lips, this one indistinguishable from the night around them. Light flares, and suddenly there is Mars, holding the monster-girl close, so close. The monster-girl screams, and for a minute he's scared, so scared, because someone's going to come and see and find them here.
But no one does.
The monster crumbles to ash beneath Mars' gloved hands. She holds onto the dust for a second, and then she's letting go of it. Her face is older than it should be and tired, but only for a split-second.
And then she whirls, light shattering off the long swing of her hair as she powers down, and she's glaring. "Thanks for the help," she says. The sarcasm is layered on so thick that he nearly flinches away from it. "I definitely couldn't have done that on my own."
Jakob hasn't even moved, and he doesn't know her, he realizes. He doesn't know this bitter, burned-out girl who moves like his Mars and looks like his Mars and could be his Mars. He doesn't know if he wants to.
But then she looks at him, and he can't help but think he's been damned from before the get-go.
"You can leave now," she says, and she's Rei again. She flicks her fingers at him. Sparks fly. "I'm going home."
"Rei," Jakob says.
"What? What do you want with me? I thought I made it clear, Jadeite, that I have no interest in you whatsoever."
That's a lie, and they both know it. She doesn't flinch when he moves into her space. She just looks up at him, face defiant. He traps her there against the wall, concrete rough beneath his hands. He wants to shake her. He wants to kiss her. He wants to destroy her all over again.
"You don't get to do this to me," she says very quietly. "I told you that. You don't get the choice. I'm not Usagi, I'm not playing—if I get the chance, Jadeite, I'll kill you. I will burn you to death for everything you've ever done. Do you understand?"
"Of course, Your Highness," he smirks. It's the first thing that feels familiar all night, this back and forth. Mars had always liked her threats and Rei does, too. They're more similar than he thought, even if they don't want to be.
"I hate you," she breathes out, and he swears he can feel the fire on his face. "I hate you so much."
Those were the last words she said before she died, the first time. It's fast as a sucker punch to the jaw; he's been expecting something like this all night, but not here, not now. She smiles up at him, and she knows, she has to know.
"Yeah," she says softly. Her eyes are dark and cruel and she is taking enjoyment out of this, he can't believe her, he really can't. "That's what I thought."
"So you remember," he says. It's not a question.
"Of course," Rei replies. She tips her head back just enough that her lips brush his jaw. "Are we done? Or are you going to find your balls and kiss me?"
"You don't want me to," Jakob says.
"This isn't about want," Rei says. The words come out slow. "This is about seeing."
Jakob has no idea what that is supposed to mean.
"You're a mess, Rei," he says instead.
"So are you," she says.
This is true.
And so does bend down, and he does kiss her. It is soft and gentle and light, the opposite of everything they have ever been—it is what they could be, he thinks, if they both weren't so Helios-be-damned stubborn. Her hands twist into his curls, and she pulls him down violent, fast.
"Don't make us out to be something we're not, Jakob," she murmurs against him.
It's the first time she's said his name all night.
The hunger flickers, and then he's got her up against the wall, legs wrapped 'round his hips. She's hot and filthy-gorgeous, mouth burning a path down his throat and she bites down, hard, bites down. The pain of skin breaking is jagged, but she marks him everywhere with everything she has.
"You hate me, huh?"
"Yeah," Rei smiles into his mouth. They both taste blood. "I do."