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save your last breath for my name

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They say the devil wears many faces. And personally, Benny had always expected the big man to wear red lipstick and a doe-eye that could drop you to your knees.

But goddamn if he wasn’t ready. And goddamn was she beautiful.

That was his thought, the night he killed her. It was his only regret. He’d take the money, take the guilt of taking a life (as far as sins went this didn’t even come close to stacking up). But to take a beauty like her out of the world – what a goddamn shame.

Even as the blood flecked across her soft brown skin, even as her eyes rolled back and her jaw went slack, even as all that fire and fury from moments before left  her, he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret. She hid it well, under layers of dirt and dirty looks, under a sneer and side-glance sharp enough to cut a man. She dressed down on purpose, hid her secrets beneath leather and steel. But even as she buried it he knew what she was. She was the devil. And she was stunning.

As she crumpled to the ground he half-pondered the thought of a crumpled gown, of sweet nothings whispered in back room and pistols tucked into thigh-highs. She was that kind of girl, of course she was. What good were small arms if you couldn’t get close enough to use them?

His work was all in conversation, with the flick of the tongue and occasional twist; he was a baby-faced sweet talker who knew how to tie up loose ends. Something told him she was too. But this was where they differed, and this was her mistake: you can’t expect to tie together so many pieces before someone comes at you with a pair of scissors. That was him, the tailor here to shave off the fringe. He only wondered if the garb might shine a little duller without her.

As the first clump of dirt hit her lifeless body he sneered. Looks like the hell’s taking you back. For as little as he knew he knew at least that much, that a dame like her wouldn’t have been able to survive this long without leaving a few scars of her own. Once upon a time maybe she’d stood in his shoes. Over a shallow grave, half a smirk half a regret caught between her teeth, a still-warm gun in her hand and blood stained across her cheek. Surely she had to. Surely no woman, certainly no courier could get by without being a little bad themselves. For all he knew he was the good guy in this story. And somehow that appealed to him almost as much as it appalled him.

Her fingers were the last part to be covered. They were caught outstretched, reaching as if towards one last regret. He wondered what it was that she regretted. Perhaps her own body count, though Benny doubted it was anywhere near his own. Or maybe at the missed opportunity to fight back, that she didn’t kill him when she had the chance. That one was also her own fault. Devils attracted devils, and she’d been just a heartbeat too slow to put a bullet through hers.

He considered leaving one at her grave. A bullet. It was a little melodramatic even for him, but then again the moment called for some drama. This was the beginning. This was the first step. She made this possible, and though it was through her death in particular, it was a noble contribution regardless. Somehow, he knew that if she knew the whole story, she would have agreed with him. That she would have shared his dream for New Vegas, though perhaps not with the sort of vigor with which one gives their life. Hell, Benny was still pretty bent on living to see it all through. He half-thought it was a shame that she didn’t.

But that’s postal service for you, that’s what money first, questions later gets you. It was her own fault for not knowing: you always lead a conversation with a gun.

In the end, he spat on her grave. It felt right even without ever truly knowing the woman who lay beneath it. This was his parting gift, his thank you for the key to the beginning of the end. It was a reminder to her and to himself. That this was just a start, that she was a piece in a puzzle so much larger than either of them could ever imagine. A wicked, beautiful piece, but a piece nonetheless. Shame as it was that she hadn’t fallen on his side of the table, he could never regret it.

Sleep well you beautiful bastard. He slipped the thoughts beneath one last smile. I’ll see you in hell.