Rico faces her gun toward Emilio, their eyes having a silent conversation.
Rico; It's what I was told.
Rico; It's what I was told, it's what I was told, it's what I was told…
Emilio; Rico… why?
"Rico… What's going on?" Emilio asks quietly.
What was I supposed to do in this situation? Rico thinks, digging into that section of her mind she's tried to leave behind. Oh, I remember…
"Sorry," she says faintly, her index finger tugging at the trigger.
"Wait, Rico!" Emilio says, running toward her, grabbing the barrel of her gun and pulling it to his side, yanking her closer to him.
"Emilio, I have a job to do." She spins out of his grip, aiming her weapon at Emilio's head.
"But Rico!" Emilio argues, "I think…"
"Emilio, I don't have time for this."
"I think I love you!" His eyes are closed, unwilling to see Rico's expression of, what he predicts to be, shock and anger.
With no verbal response- nor pain shooting through his body- he finds he can open his eyes, and does so reluctantly. First his right eye peeks open, followed by his left. Rico's expression is confusion, synthesized with curiosity. His mouth hangs slightly open, his heart forcing him to breath hard. His teeth are exposed, as he smiles a scared, nothing-left-to-do smile.
"What do you mean by love?" She asks, finally.
"What do I mean?" Emilio replies. "Well… It's like when someone really f-"
"No," Rico interrupts, "Not what love's definition is, what you mean."
"I… I want to be with you for the rest of my life, I think. I mean, I've never felt real love before. It's hard to explain, really, Rico, really hard to explain."
Rico lowers her gun slightly, staring into Emilio's eyes. "So what do you want me to do Emilio? Go against my orders?"
"I- Well, you could run away with me. I don't care what you've just committed in that room," his head nods in its direction, "but we can start over, right? You don't have to stay with who ever is having you do this, ya know that? And we can pretend like you never pointed that at me, and…" Emilio trails off when he notices Rico seems to have her attention on finding escape route.
Rico hears people trampling up the stairs, even though Emilio can't yet.
"Rico, c'mon, come with me!"
Now the footsteps are becoming evident to Emilio too, the sad but hopeful look on his face fading into panic.
"It's not what I am supposed to do. I don't have time to even kill you now!" Rico blurted out, then turned out her heel and darted down the hall.
"Wait!" Emilio yelled, running after her.
Rico stops for a moment and turns on her heel. "You know what I think?"
"Love is a disgusting word. People reserve it for those they hold close to themselves and cherish, and those they share blood or a union with, but then they turn and use it to describe favorite foods, vacation spots, even those they tease and belittle in a cruel game of sarcasm and money."
Emilio stops dead in his tracks and stares into her eyes. There's a moment where Rico can actually feel the sadness and loss welling up in Emilio's chest… but it's only a moment. Then she breaks the gaze and leaves, and Emilio doesn't follow.
Rico rests in a chair in her dorm. Henrietta sits Indian-style on the upper bunk, playing her violin softly. The window is open, allowing a slight breeze to flow into the room, pushing the quiet notes Henrietta plays into Rico's ears, the soft melody both haunting and beautiful.
This is horrible. This is not my purpose, I'm here to assassinate people, it's how I'm useful. Why do I continue to think of him…? He said he loved me… even though… I've never known love. Emilio- does he really know love? Wasn't it he who said his father was a drunkard? Every story I've every heard involving love had two endings; one being from a book or movie where everyone wins in the end, the second being from actual life. How can a person love, anyway? Is it like a disease, that creeps in slowly and flushes all other thought out of your mind, or does it happen in an instant, like a bullet striking one's head? Or is it in between them? Oh, Emilio, I do want you to come back and teach me about l-
"What's wrong, Rico?" Henrietta questions, lowering the violin from her chin and laying it and the stick on the lower bed.
Henrietta can really read me like a book. "Nothing, today's mission was just a bit intense," she lies.
Henrietta's eyes scan Rico's, looking for a blink, a nervous glance, the pupils to dilate, anything. Her caramel-brown eyes, spotted with bits of honey, glance between both of Rico's chilling, blue eyes.
"There must be a storm moving in, it's suddenly cold," Rico says, her body moving to shut the window, but her gaze never breaking Henrietta's.
After a moment, Henrietta shrugs, picks up her violin, closes her eyes and resumes playing.
Even though I've never known love….
Rico stops mid-stride and turns on her heel and walks over to her lower bunk, where she lies down and lets the window cool her warming head.
It's late at night. The stars twinkle, and soft, grey clouds frame the moon. Rico lies awake, looking at the bottom of Henrietta's bed, the support beams and mattress glaring back at her.
I should have killed Emilio. Isn't that what I've been told to do? I can't do anything right, now can I? I've gone against everything I've learned and been taught and brought up with to save this… this boy. I'm really risking all this for a young man who I barely know?
Wait a moment…Is that love?
When you give someone power to mess you life up and then stomp on its broken bits, when you hand someone your freedom and have them hold it to their heart, when you let someone swim down into the depths of your mind, and consume all other thoughts?
Tap, tap, tap.
When you allow someone to take your heart and melt all of your glass dreams into a picture of themselves?
TAP, TAP, TAP.
When you forbid them from entering your thoughts or body, but they somehow penetrate the skin and flow into your blood, imprinting every possible cell with their name….
TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP. "Psst… Rico!"
Rico snaps herself out of her thoughts and props herself on her elbows, turning her neck as far back as possible to track the noise to its source.
A shadowed face is pressed against the glass, and white puffs of breath stain the window. Rico jumps off her bunk bed and onto the floor silently. She examines the figure at the window, and does a mental voice analysis on the silhouette.
Rico slides open the window a crack. Henrietta was a light sleeper, so she had to be as silent as possible. Rico was surprised that she had even slept through Emilio's knocking.
She slides her mouth down to the crack and whispers, "What are you doing here?"
"I… just needed to see you, I need to know about whether or not you're coming with me," he replies.
Rico shakes her head. "I can't possibly. I'm not allowed- nor programmed- to. I don't know how you got in here, and frankly, I don't care. However, I suggest you leave the grounds with a fashion as quick and quiet as you entered them."
"I'm going to keep trying, even if you say no."
"Try away, but I'm strong. I wouldn't leave the ones here I love…"
Emilio, for once, has no response and falls silent.
"…Please." He attempts again.
"Emilio, I will shoot you now. Leave." Rico says coldly.
"Rico, I think I love you. I'd rather have you kill me than me have to live without you."
"Shut up!" Rico screeches.
Henrietta's eyes pop open, but she remains still and sound in bed.
Emilio replies, "Why should I? I'm here confessing my love for you, even though we've only known each other for a short time, and you treat me like garbage?"
Rico says nothing.
At her silence, Emilio continues. "I don't care, at this point, on whether or not you come with me, but if you don't please shoot me. It'll be better than returning home beaten and broke and broken…"
"Rico." Henrietta's voice rises from the covers.
"Oh God," Rico whispers to herself, in a panic.
Henrietta is now sitting up, her feet dangling a few feet above the hard-wood floor. "What's going o- never mind that question, I think I understand due to…his," she points to Emilio, "lovely summary."
Rico's facial features contort from sheer panic into shame. She hangs her head and stares at her pale, bare feet.
Henrietta stands, and Emilio looks at her with a look that synthesized awe and curiosity, but also hinted fear.
"You should go," she says.
"You should go." Henrietta's voice become lighter and sweeter as she went on. "You know the girls who live here- us- we only last a few years with the training they put us under. And none of have a chance at emotions like love and such. You should go and learn and put your strength to use… elsewhere."
Rico just looked at Henrietta. "Y… you're kidding, right? I'm not detecting your sarcasm?"
"No sarcasm, it's pure honesty."
Rico looks over at Emilio, who returns the gaze with pleading eyes.
Something stirs inside of her… something about his emerald eyes glinting in the moonlight and his begging smile.
She jumps up the ladder to Henrietta and hugs her hard. Henrietta kisses her on the forehead. "Good luck." Her eyes have this shade of hope in them, hope that she'll be able to feel like Rico does.
And, like that, Rico slides down her ladder, grabs her gun case and slips out the window.
Emilio grabs her hand and pulls her off and tries to lead her out, but Rico somehow winds up ahead of him, coaxing him along.