Her eyes were blue, bloodshot, and wide open.
Her aim was straight.
And the bitch was in her sights.
Like her mother before her, she went by Kiddo.
There was a dude, in North Carolina, who tried to call her B.B. He was probably just saying Baby. But his voice rasped, and he wore black, and if her gun went off, well. Daddy issues.
She turned sixteen in a forest in Japan. Eighteen in Beijing, in time for the new year.
But she was more fond of turning seven in car on the road between San Jose and Tombstone. Turning nine in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Eleven in a desert, sleeping under the stars.
Even her mother called her Kiddo, after a certain point. There had been no argument. She didn't like to associate with things her father had cherished - for instance, she never went to Mexico, and she never wore black.
Her mother was the exception. She preferred her mother's company to all other things. Bill had claimed he loved Beatrix - like the lion loves the gazelle, Kiddo supposed.
"What made him that way, Mommy?" she asked, at ten, on the coast of Maine.
"Hate." She paused, considered. "No. Obsession made him that way. Not hate."
"It's love, honey. Love that sours, like milk on the counter."
Kiddo never did learn that obsession and love are not, in fact, anything alike.
This was how Nikki's destiny caught up with her.
She was ten when she started running away, and her grandmother almost really did put her in foster care, and she was ten and three-quarters when she stopped. Too much trouble, anyway.
She was sixteen when she started seeing a therapist about the flashbacks. Blood flying, sprayed on the walls, pouring from her mother's shirt and pooling at her feet. Cheerios on the floor amidst the gore. The tall blond woman talking, speaking words Nikki could recognize but not exactly put together.
Seventeen when she remembered her mother had been killed by that woman, and when she remembered the yellow jumpsuit.
Eighteen when she fucked her therapist. Eighteen and two months when the therapist broke it off.
Nineteen on the streets.
Twenty in rehab.
Twenty-two clean, and working, and going to community college.
And twenty-four when she'd repressed it all once again.
The day before she turned twenty-six, Nikki caught a flash of yellow. Bright, murderous yellow.
And big blue eyes.
Bang, bang, the gang's all here.
Nikki had never learned how to use a gun. Or a sword. Or really even her hands.
Kiddo knew that. She'd known for years. Watched Nikki, for years.
Her mother: "Know your enemy, girl. Study her. Get to know her better than your lovers."
Kiddo was a good student.
"Oh! B.B.! You shot Mommy!"
But not really. It was just her finger, and Mommy was breathing and laughing. An old game.
"Yes, baby girl?"
"Can you show me?"
"Show you what, honey?"
"How to use your gun?"
B.B. was eight years old.
Nikki at eight was a foster kid. Sort of. Okay, she pretended she was. She thought it sounded glamourous. Her grandmother had taken her in when Vernita...well, Nikki just knew Momma wasn't coming back, and she thought she remembered something else.
Never mind. Momma wasn't here, Gran was, and Nikki wanted to be something other than what she was.
Gran caught Nikki watching a movie one afternoon and screamed and yelled at poor Nikki. "That garbage! In my house! Child, you should be more grateful!" And some nonsense that Nikki didn't get about the world and serious things not meant for children's eyes.
It was just some Saturday afternoon martial arts movie, the kind with Jackie Chan when he was really young, and there was no harm in it.
Nikki practiced some of Jackie's moves in the backyard (or thought she did). And the biggest wallopin' she ever got came later that night.
"Don't call me B.B."
"Okay. What should I call you?"
Mom thought Daughter was precious. And she hadn't ever liked "B.B." anyway. She thought it was a bad joke of Bill's. She was tired of living with Bill before he was even cold in his grave.
"Okay, Kiddo. Now, show me Tiger style - and don't hold back."
"Momma ain't here, is she?"
Kiddo whispered, not wanting to frighten her prey.
"She's long gone. You'll be wantin' revenge now, you'll want to come after me like you came after my...after Beatrix."
She wasn't willing to take the chance. She fired.
And she missed.
The truth? Nikki never went after Beatrix. She held no grudge - she didn't have the energy.
B.B. (excuse me. Kiddo.) went after Nikki. And missed.
Beatrix, though. She fell.
It had to have been Nikki. Because that was the way the story was supposed to go, right?
Elle was blind, and probably dead. Sofie, well, she had no limbs. Whodunit, then?
When Kiddo, Jr., found her mother, she was not shocked. She had known it would come. Kiddo was twenty when she opened the door to find the mess she'd been trained and raised to expect.
She threw up. She cried for just a moment. But she expected to be next, and therefore, she could not linger long.
She found Nikki, it was easy. A rehab center in Phoenix. Not that she believed it - oh, no, this had to be a complex, clever ruse.
Nothing was simple. Nothing was ever, ever how it seemed.
Nikki felt the heat from the bullet - it was that close. And there was no reason to believe it was the last one, or that Kiddo was really that bad a shot.
They stared at each other, each disbelieving, each expecting something to happen. When nothing did, Kiddo lowered her gun.
"I could have hit you."
"Do you know who I am?"
"I...you can't be who I think you are."
"You'd be older."
Kiddo narrowed her eyes. Nikki stared back, unblinking. There was hardly a sound.
"You didn't do it, then."
Kiddo backed away, ten steps, and stopped. Ready to turn and go, or fake it and shoot anyway.
"I don't know what you mean."
Nikki sighed. "She's dead?"
"As a doornail."
She sighed again. Kicked a rock. Brushed her hair from her face. Kiddo was calm, serious, but there was something in the way her hip jutted to the side that made Nikki reconsider any damage she might have tried to inflict.
"You need a drink?"
These women did not mess around.
They were in rural Wyoming. Nikki had been on a self-discovery road trip - or rather, she'd been driving to Washington to visit her Gran in Seattle, because she couldn't afford the plane ticket. And Kiddo of course had followed her, had been following her for six years. Not that Nikki needed to know that part.
"Did you know about my mom? What your mom...."
"You thought I'd be aiming for you."
"No. And, maybe. I thought you'd do her in."
Kiddo wasn't one hundred percent on that yet.
"I didn't. I didn't even know." Down the vodka went, in a smooth movement that Kiddo had to admire.
"Did you ever know the others?"
"You know. O-Ren. Bud. Elle."
Nikki shook her head. "I only knew Momma."
"Not even Bill?"
Another shake, and a call to the bartender for another drink.
Sofie Fatale had gotten prosthetic legs and arms, because Bill was generous even if he was naturally vindictive and somewhat proud of what his Beatrix had done to Sofie. She walked with a slight limp, possibly affected.
She did not seek retribution, though it could have been hers by rights.
No black mamba could spell the end for that stubborn bitch Elle. So Sofie assumed, when she heard of Beatrix's demise, that Elle had been behind it, and sought her out to congratulate her.
The truth was that Elle had survived the snake only to be mowed down by a U-Haul four days after her escape from Bud's, and her death was recorded as "Jane Doe - accident." Sofie never sought the grave, but she did visit the foot of Pei-Mei's mountain to leave one of Elle's eyepatches. Pei-Mei's revenge was sweet, in the end.
Sofie remembered the child - Bill had introduced them at one point. She wanted to find her, give her condolences.
She could not have explained it. A part of her hated the child as she had come to hate the mother. But Sofie
knew something about being an orphan.
She had sent money, anonymously, at Bill's request, to Vernita Green's mother for years, in the interest of keeping little Nikki safe from a world of want if not the world of pain. It had been okay, until Nikki's flashbacks were explained and the shit hit the fan. Sofie considered that Nikki might have been the killer this time, in a circle of perfect revenge.
She headed out in search of one and found them both, expecting then to find one dead, and then.
Sofie came around a corner and there they were.
She admitted it. She was shocked to find them together.
Nikki and Kiddo had formed a tentative alliance. Kiddo dyed her hair and went with Nikki to Seattle, and from there the two hit the road, and Kiddo taught Nikki what she knew. It could have gone in such a cheesy way, ended with a dramatic fight scene in which Nikki got her final revenge using the same technique that had killed Bill. Or something equally ridiculous.
Instead, they worked from place to place in cheap dives, half-hearted summer camps, and the occasional small theft. They never went out as prostitutes, though they certainly could have (if the pimp in Vegas had been serious, anyway). They became a kind of team, and it had a kind of rhythm, this rootless existence.
Interrupted in El Paso (of course, it was El Paso) by Sofie Fatale.
Once the shock wore off, once Sofie had regained her composure (it wasn't long), a conversation was held.
"I have a proposition."
"We should believe you because?"
"I have nothing. I come to you as broken as I was that night. Your mother, both your mothers, were better than I."
"That's why you were O-Ren's bitch, then."
Sofie couldn't slap Nikki. She looked at Kiddo. And Kiddo slapped Nikki.
They turned to Sofie, and the dynamic shifted.
Assassins? Hardly. Kiddo killed three, and hung it up to run things in Great Britain. Nikki never killed so much as a fly.
Sofie had killed, yes. But she left it to others now, and gave orders.
It was a new day, a new order. Living well is the best revenge, they say.
Bill had well and truly gotten his, then.
Ten years later, in a London bar, B.B. Kiddo (who now went by neither name) passed an envelope to a young, bright-eyed buck they all called Wally.
"Hong Kong. You go tonight."
"Will she be there?"
"You'll have to find out for yourself. Last known whereabouts are in the envelope. You rendezvous in Paris a week from now. If the job isn't done...."
"Yes, ma'am. I know."
Wally was polite to a fault. So good-looking he made most women's thighs go to jelly, and some men's too. His real name wasn't Wally, but he had no one to remember that.
He had this job, at which he was almost a pro.
Except for that fuck-up in Johannesburg.
"You fuck this one up, Wally, you'll be saying 'ma'am' through your ass. Go."
Wally left, and the woman who was Kiddo who was B.B. waited exactly ten and one-half minutes before a woman who was once Nikki walked in. She kissed formerly-Nikki's cheek, and they walked out hand in hand.
Sofie's funeral was a dark, lovely affair attended by the highest of London society, including the Princess of Wales. She had actually died of natural causes, and had been able to pass on the keys to her small empire to the two younger women who sat together in the back, as unassuming and normal as possible. No one even remembered they were there.
To another bar. "Your turn. The Beav will be here in fifteen minutes."
"Meet me in twenty-five?"
"Nah. I want to be unpredictable, for Sofie's sake. On the rocks, if you don't mind."
How did Beatrix Kiddo fall?
A gentleman caller - let's call him Eddie - got a little rough with Beatrix, who never did take well to that kind of thing. She was a romantic, after all. So she went for her gun after blinding the son-of-a-bitch with a swift headbutt, and he grabbed at the gun and the first shot got her in the foot.
And while she screamed, he grabbed for the gun again and aimed at her heart. He underestimated her. Beatrix fought and she won, and he ran from the place with a missing eye and blood coming from him in about ten different places.
Meanwhile, she was shot, and Kiddo was out, so 911 was called.
Two weeks later, Kiddo was out again, and Beatrix was cleaning the Hanzo sword in a fit of nostalgia. The phone rang, and cast-clad Beatrix slipped and fell and the sword claimed a final victim.
No one ever knew the truth, and it was just as well, because a warrior like Beatrix Kiddo deserved a better ending to her story. Luckily for her, the story always ended with the road trip escape from the scene of Bill's death, and she always came out on top, a mom who loved her daughter and who ended the life of the son-of-a-bitch who'd been too vengeful to do right by his girls.
Kiddo walked out into the London snow and blew a kiss through the window to Nikki.
Nikki sent the Beav on a mission to Prague, and downed a vodka.
One day, she thought as she and Kiddo walked to Sofie's grand mansion to toast a fond farewell, I will have to kill this woman.
The flashes of yellow vinyl, blonde hair, blue eyes, blood and Cheerios still came. Nikki didn't forget.
And while she mused over this thought, kissing Kiddo's eyelids and throat and moaning softly, Kiddo thought something quite similar.
I will have to kill this woman.
I will have to protect myself.
Revenge has its way, in the end.