title comes from the song "in my life" from the musical, les miserables, which has ruled over my life for the past six months. reyna-centric, jason/reyna, jason/piper. au. inspired by joseph campbell's monomyth and casino royale.
part i of iii.
the secrets that you keep
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness
-RUPERT BROOKE, 1914 IV: THE DEAD
PART I: THE SEPARATION
"There is no glory," Lupa says, and the words are brutal, cold and clear under the thin veneer of self-control and civility. "There is only the dead and the living, and it is up to you to decide that. You rise to the top through manipulation and luck and ambition. You stay there for the greater good."
That is the first lesson Reyna learns. That is the only one she still remembers.
Paris is champagne and coquilles, silent men with easy smiles and sharp eyes, and a bullet through the lungs of an elderly, corrupt businessman. There had been no time for mercy, no time for begging; the death was quick and clean and easy, and the only evidence was the body buried in the slowly reddening waters of the bathtub, devoid of all fingerprints or marks.
Reyna leaves the hotel with her lipstick perfectly intact and her hands pale and pure.
The call arrives as soon as she steps onto the pavement, the taxi departing with a violent screech. "Return to HQ immediately," Lupa says, voice filled with static. "You've been assigned a new partner."
She is promoted the next day.
She never stays away from San Francisco for long.
The Camp is home, in a way that Monte Carlo or Beijing or Moscow will never be, no matter how many times she's called there for business. Reyna prides herself on her lack of sentiment, but when she sees the lush green fields and slim white buildings, her entire body loosens up, and the smile on her face is not merely for show.
"You're brilliant," Gwen says one afternoon, when the two are sitting in Reyna's apartment, sipping hot chocolate with a muted rom-com playing in the background. "Lupa's really proud, you know? And the newer recruits idolize you."
"They shouldn't," Reyna murmurs, and her jaw clenches. Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?
(Her first mission had been conducted in the alley behind a seedy café in Puerto Rico. The man had cowered on the ground, whimpering and pleading, almost animal-like in his fear and utter subservience.
Two quick shots from her Glock, a gurgling sound arising from the man's throat, the heavy thud of a heel crunching his face beyond recognition -
In the shower of her hotel, the water had been scalding hot, and her nails had dug sharp crescents into her skin.)
"This is Jason," Lupa says, and tilts her head, perfectly coiffed curls gleaming in the afternoon sunlight. "The two of you will be leaving in the next week."
Jason smiles, and there is still a bit of boyishness, a hint of innocence, in that casual grin. It does not suit their profession.
He extends a hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Reyna."
She inclines her head, does not ignore how his eyes trace the curve of her throat, the more subtle lines of her neck. She slips her hand into his, and bares her teeth.
"The pleasure is all mine."
Together, the two of them are quick and brutal and efficient. They slaughter, blackmail, torture, and steal, until Reyna's hands are dipped in red, so thick and poisonous and consuming that it threatens to devour her entire body, the very last remnants of her broken soul.
"How do you stand it?" Jason whispers one night, hands gripping the thin ledge of the hotel room balcony. His voice shakes, cracks, and Reyna exhales sharply.
"It's our duty," she says simply. He touches her arm, hesitant, and when she doesn't push him away, his hand envelopes hers.
"You're the only one I trust," he says, soft. He turns his head, gives her that boyish, charming grin she has come to love.
She nods, doesn't trust herself to speak. That's your mistake, then.