A/N: Set in the 1500s ish. Vague time period, basically. As always, AU. Enjoy.
She's not fit for this line of work. Ask anyone, they'll tell you much the same. It's not that she's unaware of it, in fact, quite the opposite. She knows she's too hesitant, too merciful, too morally conscious, too kind. Since when are those bad things? They're perfect qualities in a woman, but not for a bandit. Maybe, that's it; she's a woman, she can't be a great outlaw. Well, that can't be right either, because her mother and her grandmother and her great-grandmother before her were all successful bandits.
So the problem lies with her. Common knowledge.
Oh, Chloe, she's the worst kind of brigand out there. A bad one!
Yeah, I know L'il Red. She couldn't take candy away from a baby.
Disgrace to her family, that's what she is.
But this life of thievery, of panic, of ambushing, well it's all she's ever known. There's simple farm folk that pass them by with looks of fear, and Chloe can't help but envy. What it must be like to just wake up each morning taking care of each other and of your livestock, she can only dream.
Everything crashes down around her during the next mission. It's a regular type of thing, they enter a new town and need to strike before their arrival is noticed. Chloe's the perfect type of girl to make inquiries; she has doe eyes and an innocent expression. No one ever suspects that she's a thief and so she can get away with it. From the townspeople she learns that the richest people live in the large manor on the border of the city.
The band of robbers with her is comprised of around twenty people, two of which are her brothers. They quickly layout the simple plan to break and enter Swanson Manor, and also detail briefly their escape routes. Chloe's lumped with Mike and Percy for the back-up team, they're there to ensure that if the others need help, it'll be provided.
On the night of the heist, something feels off about the whole ordeal, but Percy scoffs at her concerns and they're dismissed. Hunched down outside of the manor gates, Chloe feels the dread again, and when she hears a shout from her brother, she's up and running.
"L'il Red! Get back here!"
But she ignores the hissed commands and climbs up over the gate in a few practiced swift motions. Her landing isn't perfect, the impact isn't absorbed by her knees, but it's quiet enough. Chloe speeds through the garden and towards the main door. As she draws near, it bursts open and her brothers shove past her as they flee the building.
"Carl, Corrin, what's wrong?"
"Abort," Corrin yells back and four other members of the break-in group come bustling out as well.
By her calculations they're still missing one person, and so Chloe rushes into the manor, heedless of the warnings. As she reaches the main hall, she realizes what they were running from; ten heavily armed guards surround her, forming a tight circle. They hold their rapiers upright and ready.
"I'm unarmed," Chloe assures them, adjusting the bandana on her head. "See?" She lifts up her arms slowly, palms facing upwards.
"Hold your arms out straight," one of them demands, Chloe pinpoints him as the leader.
She does as he says, and as he moves forward to chain her hands together, she twists under his grasp, using her size to her advantage. Her back is against his chest and with her backwards momentum, Chloe is able to throw his weight over her head and to the ground with a resounding slam.
"Don't move." The guy's rapier is pushed against his neck, not hard enough to draw blood, but a little too loosely. "Now, tell your men to back away."
However, they call her on her bluff and three of the men lunge towards her, the tips of their blades aimed for her exposed body. Chloe is forced to relinquish her hold on their leader to deflect the points away from her. Suddenly, one of them men behind her has gripped her bandana and hair and he lifts her up from the ground easily. Purely on instinct, she lashes out and she feels his grip loosen. Her bandana is still in his hand, but she's gotten free.
"Halt," one of them commands.
Chloe breath catches in her throat and she feels her long hair sweep down and across the back of her neck.
"It's a woman," the leader spits, disgusted. "Those lily-livered cowards send a woman in while they make their escape. Take her in."
As she's about to resist the chains, a loud bellow stops the men.
"Ho, there!" A young man with slicked back brown hair and dark eyes waves them off. "Surely this woman simply got caught up in the fray. I think perhaps we've made a mistake."
He turns to look at her with a soft and knowing look, and Chloe can tell he knows she's one of the bandits. Is he offering her a way out? Yes, he is. It's a look of pity.
"No, thank you," she says to him, without breaking eye contact with the leader of the armed forces. "I am in a dishonest line of work perhaps, but I am not a dishonest person. I am a thief. I was one of those that conspired to infiltrate your manor tonight."
"Very well," the man sighs, "Take her in then."
"Yes, Master Swanson."
This time as they cuff her, Chloe lets them. There's nothing left for her to do or say. She has preserved her own dignity and made her last stand. A glimmer of regret remains and she knows anyone else would have taken the easy way out. But she is not them.
Prison is not so bad, surprisingly. Upon request from the Swanson family she was separated from the male inmates and given a cell for herself. There's a guaranteed two meals a day for her and it's safer than roaming around the countryside looking for slim pickings. Once in awhile a guard walks by informing her of when she is due for trial. They sneer at her, but they never touch her or linger too long. Chloe's familiar with the horror stories about being captured, but so far, really it's not so bad.
Sure, the walls and floor are downright grimy, and there's a permanent stench of urine and vomit, but she can't really complain. Some of the other prisoners leer at her and make rude gestures, so she keeps her eyes downcast, hoping it will deter them. After a few weeks, she feels a little claustrophobic, and more than a little insane. Her thoughts are always trained on her brothers and her friends. No use thinking about them here though.
A week after her arrest a guard unlocks her door and gesture for her to follow him.
"Come," he rasps impatiently after she hesitates.
"It's not time for my trial yet," she has to clear her throat a few times before the dryness subsides.
"You're not getting a trial," he tells her, with all the casualness of a daily stroll.
Her heart drops, "Oh," and everything whooshes out of her in a sigh. It's what a criminal deserves, she supposes.
The guard pushes her out of the front door to the jailhouse and her eyes strain against the bright sunlight. A public execution to make an example of her, perhaps?
"Here you go, Sir. One irredeemable filthy thief, just like you asked," he says with venom coloring his tone.
"I didn't ask for your judgment," a vaguely familiar voice snipes back.
"I apologize, Sir," the guard replies, chastised.
Finally, Chloe's eyes manage to adjust to the rediscovered brightness of day and she can make out the blurry outline of Master Swanson. The confusion seeps away and she laughs, half-crazed. Her laughter reaches an audible volume and the two men turn to look at her. On some level she knows how off her rocker she seems, but she can't control it. She laughs harder and higher.
"What have you done to her?"
Firm hands grip her shoulders rubbing in a soothing way, but it does nothing to calm her. Master Swanson sighs heavily before guiding her to his carriage, and she sobers up a bit, her laughing down to an occasional giggle. He props her up on one side, and sits opposite to her.
After a quiet examination for half of the trip, Master Swanson speaks up, "Do you have a name?"
Chloe takes a ragged breath before looking up at him, eyes shining, "They call me Little Red."
"I have paid in full to pardon your crimes," he says, clearly expecting something in return.
"I won't thank you for this."
"And why not?"
She looks out the small window in the carriage, noting the way the trees blur past, distorted. "Because you have done this out of pity."
"I have done this out of empathy," he insists, reaching a tentative hand out to touch her hand. "You are not a bad person. As a woman it is easy to become stuck in a lifestyle."
"And what would you know about being a woman? Or being stuck in a lifestyle?"
"For someone whose life has most likely just been saved, you're incredibly ungrateful," Master Swanson snorts.
"Who said I wanted to be saved?"
At that, the young man's brow furrows and he considers her words for a moment before replying, "Do you want me to take you back to the prison, then?"
"Do whatever you'd like," Chloe dismisses, and turns her attention back to the outside nature. "I would not pretend to hold agency over you."
"Think this over, Ms. Red," Master Swanson requests, "You attempted to rob me and my family of something that is rightfully ours. I offered you a way out, something you declined at the time, and now I have allowed you another opportunity. I, a mere stranger, have rescued you from a very public demise."
"Make no mistake, Mr. Swanson," she starts.
"Jesse," he cuts in. "Please, call me Jesse. I am far too young to be referred to as Mr. Swanson."
"Jesse," Chloe allows, "You are a good man, I know this. But you have meddled with fate today. I am a criminal and there is only one such ending for me."
"Perhaps this is fate. You are being offered another chance now. By me, by God."
Chloe is startled into a chuckle, "And can you claim to know what God has planned for me?"
"I do not say that I know God," Jesse says with a lick of his lips, "But I think you are a better person than you think, Ms. Red. There is much good in this world to be had, and to be done."
"Are you giving me my freedom, then?"
"Yes. And I am offering you a job in my manor."
"Ha! And pray tell, what is this job you offer? Would you like me to steal something for you, Sir?" She mocks him openly.
"You need not be abrasive with me, Ms. Red, for I have only one intention. I wish to see you happy."
"Very well," Chloe relinquishes her bandit façade and slips back into a reserved posture. "What would you have me do?"
Jesse leans back, his head hitting the wall of the carriage, "One of our maids has recently relocated to the countryside with her new husband. There is an opening, if you so wish it."
"And I am to believe you are doing this all out of pity?"
"I have taken a liking to you, Ms. Red," he lets a small smile grace his features for a moment before returning to a stony faced mask. "Your joy is mine."
"How much was paid to pardon my crimes?" It's a rude question, too direct, too daring, but she's beyond that now.
"Well, I will work for you as long as it takes to absolve my debt."
"Excellent," Jesse chimes with a rather boyish grin, and Chloe can see his true age for a moment; young and hopeful.
Life at the Swanson Manor takes some adjusting to. There are many rules, things that Chloe has never imagined of, wiping shoes, removing gloves, dusting behind vases. It's as close to a domestic life that she has ever been, and for that she is grateful to Jesse. It's calm and safe and consistent.
In the mornings she wakes up as the sun begins to rise and helps to dress and bathe the mistress of the house (Jesse's mother). Then she heads off with two other maids to bring out breakfast for the family (Jesse, his sister, and his frail mother). After breakfast, she has cleaning duties on the second floor of the mansion; there's always something that needs to be dusted. Depending on the day, she might head into town for fresh meat and spices, but if not, she serves the old matron some tea. The lunch break is usually long enough for her to eat out in the garden and savor the scent of blooming flowers. Afternoon is a dreary experience of standing dutifully at the door of Jesse's study, in case he needs something. By the time night falls, she serves dinner to the family and later prepares Jesse's younger sister for bed. After she's fallen asleep, Chloe brings some tea to Jesse's study where he absentmindedly thanks her and sends her on her way. She then cleans the kitchen and then heads to the maids quarters for rest. The next day: rinse and repeat.
Maybe it's not exactly as wonderful as she had expected, but she's content for the first time in a long while. That is something Chloe can get used to.
It only figures this feeling is not fated to last.
The irony of her situation does not escape her.
So this is what it feels like to have somewhere you considered safe utterly violated. To feel jarred back into the dangers of reality, instead of living in that little bubble where everything is set in stone routine.
Chloe is a crook. Two months of clean living can't wash that out of her. Nothing can change that. It is who she is. As a thief, of course she's heard of the Blood Moon gang, the most infamous and feared bandits of the kingdom. Oh, she knows that they have earned every single bit of their reputation. And as a thief, it's only instinct that when the Blood Moon gang comes to ransack the Swanson Mansion, Chloe swipes a few valuables and makes for a sneaky exit.
Oh, but she's not just a thief. She's a terrible one at that. A swooping figure leaps and blocks her path with a graceful landing.
"Clever," the person says, a woman, Chloe realizes in shock. "Not clever enough, but you're getting there."
"I was here on a stakeout," Chloe finds herself saying, her heart racing with panic. "I am no match for the Blood Moon. I merely thought to let those more experienced than I to take the floor."
"How can you tell we're Blood Moon?"
"The silver cross tattoos on the other guys' wrists."
The woman adjusts her facemask and says, "Well, I can't risk it, you know. Gonna have to ask you to come with us."
"The city's militia will be here soon," Chloe informs her smartly, still trying to find a way out of this, "You wouldn't want me to slow you down, would you?"
"You're fast enough on your feet," the woman makes a sound reminiscent of a laugh. "Come, or I'll cut your fingers off."
Chloe swallows and suddenly notices two other cloaked and hooded figures behind her.
"Okay," she says. And the two people behind her escort her out of the mansion.
The Blood Moon certainly live up to what she's heard. They've ransacked the mansion in a matter of minutes, taken everything of worth, and have cleared the house of any survivors. The only prisoners they've taken are her, another maid, Jesse, and his sister. What this must mean for the elderly matron, well, Chloe sees tear streaks down Jesse's face.
For the first time, she's one of the so-called "victims", instead of the "perpetrator". Well, it's an awful feeling. Worse than getting captured and thrown in prison. Because at least then, she could claim to knowing what she had coming for her, but now, now she feels entirely powerless.
From across the campsite the Blood Moon have made (far away from the mansion, wisely), Chloe watches as the woman from before approaches Jesse, chained and bloody. Judging by the rest of the gang's reaction, the woman seems to be a leader of sorts, which intrigues Chloe all the more.
"I will give you two options, Master Swanson," the woman says. "Because you look like a trustworthy man." Jesse doesn't reply, he barely stirs at her words. "I can either kill you now and forever guarantee your silence. Or, I can send you back on your way home, allowing you time and the necessary aid to get back on your feet."
There's a mumbled jumble of words in reply, which he repeats, louder and more clearly. "Pray tell, what is the catch?"
"Your profits, 45% go to us."
"Are you ins-"
"Ah," she presses a finger against his mouth. "I will send you on your way home, but I will keep your sister and your two lovely maids that tried to make an escape."
Jesse turns to look at his sister and then in turn, the other maid, and then Chloe. His gaze lingers on Chloe the longest, with a faint look of disappointment. "And if I refuse?"
"Then you will have forced my hand," the Blood Moon woman says, shrugging, "I will have to kill you, and then the fate of these three lovely ladies will never be known to you."
"Are you keeping them for insurance?"
"After the first yearly payment, I will send your two maids home," she points at Chloe and the other maid. "And then, on your second yearly payment, I will send your dear sister home."
"And on the third year?"
"You know what will happen if you refuse us after we have shown such mercy to you."
Jesse chokes on his tears and Chloe feels something stir within her. Perhaps, the Swanson Manor was not home, but it's the closest she ever had as one.
"Mercy? Clearly, you have no idea the definition of such a word." The moment the words leave her mouth, Chloe shrinks back a little. In almost perfect unison, the Blood Moon's members whip their heads around to look at her.
"Don't," Jesse protests weakly.
The woman pulls her facemask a little tighter before sauntering over to her side of the camp. "Is it not mercy?"
"You have taken innocent lives today," Chloe persists, wrenching against her restraints. "You have plundered and it is enough to do so, but to take a life, an elderly and defenseless woman. That, you have no right to."
"Hypocrite," the woman sneers as she catches a hold of Chloe's hair and pulls sharply upwards, exposing the redhead's neck. "You're Red's daughter, aren't you?"
"H-How do you know?"
"Your neck tattoo, your hair, your temper, your attempts to talk your way out of everything," she lists off, "Oh, add to the fact that your brothers have been everywhere looking for you."
The woman nods, relinquishing her hold, "Offering a handsome reward as well, I hear."
"Then why have you shackled me? Why are you using me against Master Swanson?"
She shrugs again, as if it's no importance, "I wanted to see how long until you cracked."
"You are a monster," Chloe whispers, "Frighteningly so."
"Shut up, wench!" One of the men behind her hollers, "You are speaking to the most famous and renowned bandit alive!"
"As if that's something to be proud of!"
The woman laughs loudly this time, surprising everyone in the camp. "Unshackle her." When her men hesitate, the woman yells, "Unshackle her!" Finally, they scramble to their feet to obey her. Chloe rubs her raw wrists as they remove the cuffs and chains. "Come with me," the woman says, and Chloe has no choice but to do so.
Chloe follows the woman into the largest tent, and the woman bandit waves off the rest of her men.
"Do you have a name, Red's daughter?"
"They call me Little Red," she says, still massaging her sore wrists.
The woman turns sharply on her heel and tugs on her arm until she slouches down onto the floor. Swiftly, the woman uncaps a jar of foul smelling ointment and gingerly applies it to her wrist. At first it causes a stinging sensation on her skin making Chloe hiss in pain, but it gradually numbs to a relieving healing feeling.
"And what do you call yourself?"
Chloe looks up, baffled. "Chloe."
"Nice name," the woman hums as she pulls tenderly at Chloe's leg, until the redhead extends it.
As she applies ointment to Chloe's chaffed kneecaps and ankles, Chloe can't help but ask, "And you?"
"They call me Midnight," the woman says, and Chloe's heard that name for so many years. The greatest bandit alive, the cleverest thief, the sharpest crook, the uncatchable criminal, the ruthless villain. To think, a woman, the best rogue to grace this land.
"And what do you call yourself?"
She chuckles, "Beca. But no one calls me that anymore."
"Then why are you telling me?"
"Why not?" Beca looks at her through narrowed eyes. "I am the leader of the Blood Moon, am I not? I can do as I please."
It strikes Chloe suddenly how short and small Beca is without the intimidating cloak. "Then would you show me your face?"
Beca hesitates, the first time Chloe has seen her done so, before saying, "Many have asked before you, all greater men and women than you, and I have agreed to none of them."
"And how do you measure greatness?"
"By their wits, their intelligence, their astuteness for knowing how to make it in this world," Beca replies, "The King I would even praise as a great man."
"I would not," Chloe says boldly, her chin jutted out in disagreement.
"Well, I suppose not," Beca thoughtfully whispers, as she moves to Chloe's other leg. "He is like your temporary master out there."
"Why do you hate him?"
"And his kind," Chloe briefly elaborates.
Beca laughs, flipping her hood down, revealing her tied up wavy brunette hair. "They come into this world and are fortunate. They do not need any skill, or any intelligence, or any sort of charisma. They are born with the simple luck of having wealthy and powerful parents. And allowing them to keep that power, to keep that wealth, well I simply won't have it."
"So you take from them?"
As Beca's fingers graze over a bruise on her left calf, Chloe winces and gasps, "I think you do it for the fame and the power. You're just rationalizing it."
"Perhaps," Beca admits, "You see, I am an orphan. I have no siblings, no parents, no other family. Maybe this is why I long for a legacy. I want to be remembered. I want it so that people will try to forget my name, but will be unable to. And they will all know, that no matter the station you are given in life, you can transcend it."
"Is that really justification to ruin others lives?"
"As I recall, you're not the perfect angel either, are you, Chloe?"
"Do you know how many men and women you have killed?"
"That is called avoiding the question," the brunette informs her with a smug tone. "But how many I have killed personally? I don't make a note of it."
Chloe looks her dead in the eyes and whispers, "I do. I have killed exactly two people in my entire life. And I will never forget them."
"And what did they do to deserve their deaths?" Beca asks her coolly.
"Nothing," the redhead says, with a faraway look. "The first was an accident. It was mayhem during the fire we set, and he ran towards me, trying to extinguish the flames engulfing his back, and I turned, my sword in hand." Her voice breaks off. "The second time, I meant it. It was worse, a man latched onto my leg during a heist, and I warned him, but he didn't let go. So I had to."
"You're in the wrong line of work, Little Red," Beca snorts, "If you're looking to be compassionate, you'll never make it."
"Oh, I know," Chloe says, "I've heard that all my life. And up until two months ago, I didn't think there was a life for me outside of it. But you're right, I can improve my station."
"Join me," Beca says suddenly. "Join the Blood Moon. You might not be a great thief, but you're an excellent talker."
"Did you not hear a word I said?"
"Listen, Chloe," the brunette sighs heavily, "As women, we don't have much say in our lives mostly. We're expected to keep our heads down, to obey men. I had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am today. Every ounce of respect was earned with blood and sweat. But I love this life, because I get to be free. I can do anything."
"It enslaves you!" Chloe raises her voice, "You find yourself moving from place to place to avoid capture, you can never get too attached to anyone, because it means death. You are not free, Beca."
"Just…join me," she insists, as she grips Chloe's wrist gently. "For a few weeks. If you hate it, I will let Master Swanson off the hook and his sister and his maid, and you can be on your way."
Chloe pauses and thinks. "I won't let you manipulate me."
"It isn't a manipulation," Beca swears, "Fuck, I swear. I can do whatever I want, right? Well, I'm asking you to stay."
"Why do you want me to stay? I called you a monster."
"Because I'm bored of the same old people here. I want something new."
She laughs humorlessly and tells the brunette, "I refuse to be your plaything."
"Okay," Beca tries one last time, "You're interesting. It's not very often you find a fellow woman in this business. I want to get to know you. I want to understand you. And I want to change your mind, about me being a monster."
"I will stay for two weeks, and after that, you must let Jesse, his sister, and the other woman go. You must also promise my freedom, from you, and from my brothers."
"I swear on my honor as a bandit," Beca says solemnly.
As promised, Beca releases Jesse, his sister, and the maid, and they leave. Jesse looks back at them one last time, before continuing on the path back to his ransacked mansion.
It's not too different from her regular life pre-arrest. Everything's a lot more efficient, a lot more fast-paced, but when they have down time, it becomes raucous and everything comes to life. They party hard, sloshing alcohol, dancing jigs, belting out random songs, strumming on lutes.
Beca is the loudest, the happiest, the one most alive in these instances. She drinks the most, parties the hardest, and Chloe can feel the flame of her existence brushing against reality, setting everything on fire.
Chloe resists the first three days, but on the fourth day, she lets a smile make its way onto her face. So she complies and takes Beca's hand. And they dance, hand in hand, what is traditionally a dance between two males, but Chloe forgets herself in the beating of the drum, the echoing voices, Beca's smile.
The rest of the Blood Moon cheer them on, stamping their beat and clapping. When Beca hands her a drink, Chloe laughs and toasts her.
Beca leans in close and yells something in her ear. Over all the commotion, Chloe loses the exact words, but she thinks she can make out what the other woman has said.
I would kill to hear that laugh every day.
The next day is spent wearily fleeing from a pack of wolves that injure four of the Blood Moon members. As Chloe tends to their wounds, she learns a little more about them. Benji, a sweet man with the innocent look of a lamb, comes from a region far away, but was forced to come here in servitude and only escaped with Midnight's help. Donald, a strangely foreign looking man, comes from a land across the ocean in search of riches, but had only found a desolate disease-ridden city and joined up with the Blood Moon. Tom and Luke, brothers and both extraordinarily handsome, are from around here, but they lost their parents to a fire, and turned to a life of thievery to support themselves.
All in all, they seem content with what they have now. It surprises Chloe more than it should, since she's heard all these kinds of stories from her own band of misfits.
What she really wants to know, is the story behind their leader. What would possess a woman to have that sort of bravery…that insanity, to build an empire like this? Guts. That's the word.
They spend two more days relocating until they find a relatively safe location, Beca nodding wearily as the scouts report back to her. The celebration is more subdued this time around, there's still alcohol and music, but less singing and cheering, and no dancing.
It feels like a somber funeral.
When someone stumbles into her tent, Chloe pulls at her dagger and nearly slices their throat.
"My bad," Beca slurs, obviously incredibly drunk. She tries to regain her footing, but slips and falls back onto Chloe's makeshift bed.
"It's alright," Chloe sighs, "Stay."
"Yeah, I know," the redhead says, reluctantly lying down next to the brunette. "It seems like you guys need it."
"Why d'you say that?"
"It's like a victory, isn't it? Like you've won something. It keeps the morale high."
"It's all we're worth, Little Red." If Chloe couldn't smell the alcohol reeking from Beca's breath, she'd have thought that Beca sounded surprisingly sober.
"The more you tell yourself that, the more it becomes true."
Beca sighs, "I want the world to remember me. This is what I'm good at."
"How did you know you'd be good at it?"
"I got lucky," she whispers, rolling a little closer to Chloe. "I grew up on the streets. You gotta steal if you're gonna make it alone." She draws in a ragged breath, "Got caught a few times, it happens, but you learn. You get better, you get smarter, you get wiser. You grow up a lot faster. As I got older, the punishments got harsher, 'cause when you're young they have pity, when you're not young anymore, nothing. So, I wanted to become something."
"And so you made Blood Moon?"
"Donald, Bumper, and I," Beca says, "We started it together. Nobody gives a damn lick about you in this world, and that worked to our advantage. Not many people were willing to serve under a woman, but I quickly made a name by being the best, the most ruthless. Now, we've got people tryna join by the dozens. It was hard in the beginning, we nearly starved to death most of the time."
"Then why continue doing it?"
"All I ever known, Chloe. You know what it's like, you start and you have to keep doin' it. All these guys rely on me, and they're family. After all those years alone, I finally have a family."
"I was wrong," Chloe laughs quietly. "You're not a monster, Beca. It's just a lonely world."
"I'm not really that drunk," Beca admits finally after a long silence, "I just wanted to talk to you."
"Then just talk to me."
The raid is successful, although Chloe never really doubted they would fail. Their intricate yet simple plans are genius and account for every small detail. As she watches Beca outline the specificities, she traces over Beca's posture and eyes, and is amazed at the intensity of everything the brunette puts into her work. Her qualms of Beca's method aside, watching her work is like watching some force of nature, a hurricane, or a flood. On one hand she is in awe of how devastating and destructive it is, but on the other hand she's completely enraptured by it.
The subsequent two days are spent finding a relatively low-danger area to sell the loot. As a leader, Beca is fearsome and demanding, but also manages to soften enough for her men to know that she is only human. That she is vulnerable in a way that they can still never touch.
And that vulnerability that shines in Beca's eyes is what disarms Chloe completely. When Beca turns to her with that hesitant look, and asks her if she's decided whether to stay or not, Chloe in turn wavers as well.
"I believe I have five more days, Midnight."
"Beca," the brunette murmurs, "When it's just us like this, please, call me Beca."
"Beca, you know I don't belong here," Chloe comfortingly touches the back of Beca's hand. "This is your family. I need to find mine."
"Are you going back to your brothers?"
"No, not that family."
Chloe shrugs, "I haven't found my little niche in this world yet, but I want to find it. And wandering around with you, pretending I fit in here, I can't."
"Then, I'm holding you back," Beca says after a long silent consideration. "Like Swanson."
"I would've left Jesse anyway, my debt would've been paid off within a few more months."
"He wouldn't let you go," the brunette says, completely sure.
"The man is in love with you, Chloe."
It's an absurd notion, and she laughs accordingly, "No, he isn't."
"Either way," Beca pauses, that damn hesitation again. "You need to find your family, your place in the world. I'm keeping you from it."
"Are you letting me go? Before the two weeks is up?"
"I said two weeks, and I will stay two weeks."
Beca stands up, drawing her cape close to herself. "No. Leave before I change my mind, and try to keep you here. If you say you will stay two weeks, I will want you to stay longer."
"Doesn't matter," Chloe maintains, "Even if you try to stop me, I will still leave, one way or another, when my two weeks are up."
"Just go!" Beca's voice breaks. "You know too much. Okay. That's the truth. Someone who knows the Blood Moon's inner workings as well as you do would never be allowed to leave. You have to be killed, but I can't. I can't do that. So leave please, before Bumper or Donald decides it's for the best."
"Okay," she assures her. "I'll go then."
"You're not a monster, Beca. You're so much more," Chloe tells her genuinely with a hug.
"I just don't want the world to forget me," Beca says, her neck straining, as she looks away. "Now go. I wish you luck, Chloe."
Chloe settles into a small town not too far from her hometown and she goes through a list of tried occupations until she reaches one that she is satisfied with. She works as a healer, for the common ailments, and also tries her hand at some of the more deadly diseases. Her work is met with varied degrees of success, but it's like Midnight said. You try and you fail, but you learn.
It's a medium-sized village, so she gains a fast reputation there as the mysterious healer. There's talk that she hears.
Beautiful, but tight-lipped. She's had a line of suitors so long, they practically had a small village there.
Chloe? She's our town's healer. A miracle worker.
Witchcraft I tell you.
And yes, she's had many suitors knocking on her door, but after she's met Jesse, so kind and gentle, and Beca, indescribably the most amazing thing she's ever witnessed, no one can compare. She wants to tell them, I have met a woman so fierce, so incredibly strong and brilliant, the greatest thief in the world. You cannot match up to that.
Instead, she keeps her silence.
Some nights, she stares at the flickering candle and she wonders.
Perhaps a year later, she hears from Jesse, who sends a foot messenger inquiring to her health. She sends him back claiming the foot messenger has found the wrong woman.
Not too long afterwards, an unexpected person arrives at her door.
It must be midday when a dark cloaked and hooded person stumbles into her hut, clutching a wound. There's a bit of blood, but nothing she's not used to. Chloe scrambles to clear her table and lays the person down gently before looking for a cloth to stop the bleeding.
"C-Chloe," the person on the table croaks.
She swings around and cautiously pulls the hood down to expose wavy brunette hair stained with sweat and blood.
"It's nothing serious," she says.
"Did you stumble around with this stab wound hoping to run into me?" Maybe she's being arrogant, but it simply cannot be a coincidence.
Beca laughs, but then chokes in pain, "Well, I was on my way here already, and then got stabbed. It wasn't planned, Little Red."
As Chloe patches her up, gingerly cleaning the wound, she asks, "Why were you looking for me?"
"Because I can't forget you," Beca says. "I've had people who have been with me for years and they're family now, but you, you became family to me in one short week. And I don't forget people who are family."
"Beca, what are you saying?"
"Come with me, please?"
"With the Blood Moon?" She nods and Chloe's breath catches in her breath, "I can't. I've finally found my place in this world."
"You can be a healer on the road with us. We get hurt enough that we need one."
"You remember I told you I have killed two men in my life?" Beca nods again in confirmation. "For the longest time afterwards, I felt like I always had blood on my hands. No matter how many times I washed them, I never felt clean. Now, I heal. I fix people who live simple lives. And now I finally feel clean. Even when I am covered in blood, I feel clean, knowing that I am healing. The Blood Moon's purpose is to destroy. I can't do that. Not again."
"I said, I don't want the world to forget me when we were saying our goodbyes-"
"Yes, I remember."
"What I meant was, I don't want you to forget me."
"What are you saying?"
Beca laughs incredulously, "I need you. With me. I want to be with you."
"You don't know me."
"But you understand me," Beca says, dark eyes looking up at her. "Many great men and women have asked to see my face, and I refused them all. But now, I finally accept your request, because you are the greatest person I have ever met." She pulls down her facemask and lets it fall to the ground.
Chloe swallows, understanding the importance of this gift, and she lets her eyes drink in the sight before her. Beca is beautiful in every sense of the word. Her sharp angular features are softened by the sloping of her jaw and her skin is smooth and porcelain. She finds her hands cupping the other woman's face.
"Thank you. This is the greatest gift anyone could ever give me. Trust." Then she hesitates, "I can't, though. I can't give up my place in the world for you. Anything else, and I could. And I could never ask you to give up yours."
"What if, I could convince Blood Moon to change our purpose. We could steal from the rich and give to the poor! Help all those kids who were like us, who are like everyone who has ever had to thieve."
"That's insane," Chloe laughs through her tears. "Insane."
"Is it? Isn't life insane, though? Why can't we try?"
So she nods, her red curls bouncing, "Okay."
Beca presses a light kiss to her forehead, "And the world will never forget us. Because we are both something."
Chloe looks at her son sternly, "I said one story."
"But that wasn't an ending!"
"It was a beginning," she says, ruffling his hair as he whines. "And I think that is a mighty fine ending."
"Mighty fine, really, Chloe?" Beca looks at her wife amused. "You're really getting into the story."
"Mom, you were like Robin Hood!"
"Where do you think they got the inspiration for Robin Hood?"
Her son looks perplexed at this, "You mean he was a girl?"
"He wore tights, David." Chloe stifles a laugh and hugs the two of them close to her.
"Mommy, is that true?"
Chloe shrugs, holding Beca's hand, and she kisses his forehead, "The best stories must come from somewhere."
This, without a doubt, is her family. Her place in the world.
A/N: Thanks for reading! An extra thank you to the overwhelming support and feedback as well. Let me know your thoughts (reworded in a less creepy manner)! See you in a few days! Spoiler: Non-Anglophone.
1. Thought it was time for a longer Chloe POV.
2. In the end, we flash forward to present day; whether or not the story actually happened is something none of us will ever know.
3. I'm on tumblr: amiphobic . tumblr . com, if you have any questions don't hesitate to hit me up. Or hit on me. I love attention.
Thanks once again!