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Operation: Black Widow

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Being the 'old lady' in a motorcycle gang had its perks; Lucia Vega got free beer, had a badass biker boyfriend, and lived for free in a trailer in the middle of the desert with said badass biker boyfriend. She didn't have her own bike, but that was okay, because she'd rather just cling onto him as he drove, anyway. She'd live for that fearless feeling that rides with him gave her, like only the two of them could conquer everything and anything with the adrenaline pumping like a second blood through their veins and the sun beating down on their skin.

It also had its downsides, and quite a lot of them, too, so much so that they seemed to outweigh the perks. As the 'old lady', Lucia was only known as such by the other members, and that was it. Hardly anyone knew her name besides her boyfriend, Robbie, which allowed for a great deal of overshadowing, and Robbie racking up all the credit for doing things Lucia had been responsible for.

Deals had gone wrong, and the wrong people showed up with their guards down. Lucia was always the one with the gun, but Robbie never thought she was capable of firing it, so he'd take it from her and later take credit for the goons he'd picked off with it. She thinks he must know deep down that without her, everyone there would've gotten snuffed, but he refuses to admit it. He must also know that this overshadowing has become a pattern of sorts, but he never did anything about it - he only soaked in the positive attention it brought him and expected his girlfriend to parade him on her shoulders, too.

At a loss, Lucia confided in her old ULSA roommate, Taylor, in Vespucci Beach, where she'd lived before moving in with Robbie. She told her how much she hated that no one knew her name, how much she hated being bullied into doing meth, how much she hated that the crew was nothing like how it had appeared five years ago, how much she hated the fact that her ‘no’ wasn’t acknowledged if it wasn’t spoken through Robbie’s mouth, and, more importantly of all, how much she hated being the little pretty corsage wrapped around Robbie’s wrist; because no one really cared about it beyond the fact that it was nice to look at. She resonated with an accessory, an inanimate object, more than she probably should've.

And with her wisdom and experience from her explicit line of work permeating through her advice, Taylor said to her friend, "Well, if you treat yourself like an accessory, girl, they're going to treat you like one, too."

It all made so much sense that she didn’t even have to say anything else. As a stripper and a call girl, she faced the brunt of every predominantly male-instated struggle encircling all women - rape culture, objectification, and slut shaming, among many others, so of course she’d give pretty sound advice since she knew what she was talking about.

So, Lucia decided she was done being a man’s pretty little corsage. She was going to be her own goddamn corsage. She would march - well, not literally, she would drive - back to Stab City and demand she not go unrecognized.

And damn, if she didn't demand. That night, the cold desert wind swept through the open window of the trailer she’d shared with Robbie, but the red hot rage burning through her limbs chased the chill away. Every ounce of bottled-up anger inside her burst, and each scathing word she spat upon Robbie’s face was like an individual shard of the glass in which it was kept. She could still see his wounded face, bleeding not with blood but tears and cold sweat, and she could still feel the hollowness inside her that the rage had eventually ebbed away to.

That was the first night they'd both slept alone, and that's how she knew it was over. If they had a fight, they'd usually suck it up after sundown, but there was no sucking this one up. Lucia was finally spitting it out.

Thankfully, Robbie had decided to stay in his friend Garry's trailer, leaving Lucia the trailer they'd once shared. She'd have no place else to stay if he hadn't done that, because she would never ask people she barely knew if she could crash on their couches indefinitely. Besides this, and besides the questions and rumors swirling around, everything was surprisingly normal around Stab City. Nothing was going on other than drama between Johnny and his old lady, which was usually ongoing anyway. For weeks, Stab City was filled with pot-bellied members sitting out in the sun by day and cooking batches of meth at night, with the occasional live show at The Range, and for weeks, Robbie was ignoring Lucia.

Then, they left for the Love Fist reunion show at Tequi-La-La last Thursday at midnight, obviously not together. Lucia had planned to stay at Taylor's for the weekend and go back on Monday, but on Sunday, a number with a Senora Desert area code had texted her with plans for a memorial service on Tuesday at noon. It was from Garry, a fellow member of the crew and a friend of Robbie’s, and it was the first time in five years that anybody in the crew other than Robbie had called her by her name.

That wasn't the only thing in the message that shocked her. It was the fact that, over the weekend that she and Robbie were gone, a two-night massacre had taken place, claiming the lives of what was believed to be over 50 members.

Now, here she stands, watching the final crudely-built coffin drift off to sea as the waves slosh at her combat boots. Some remaining members stare solemnly after it, and others begin to trudge back to the headquarters, back to their bikes. None of them utter a single word. Almost all of them cry.

Almost.

Some, like the most 'masculine' ones, are fighting back tears, but their emotions soon get the better of them. Some are full-on sobbing. Some are sniveling and snorting and dripping snot like beaten children. But Lucia's eyes are drier than the desert air.

Instead of crying, she's fully conscious of every single bead of sweat rolling down her skin, as if her body wants to make up for the tears she was not shedding. Sure, being brutally murdered by a pissy psychopath is a pretty gruesome way to go - especially if you were in one of the trailers that had exploded, like on the second night - and it was sad that this many members left so many who cared about them behind, but was it selfish that because they each never truly cared about her, she did not feel as impacted by their passing? It sounded selfish in her head. Perhaps it was. But, on the other hand, perhaps it wasn't. How could anyone expect her to cue the waterworks for people who hadn't known her name was anything but 'Robbie's Old Lady'? She only attended the service out of the goodness of her naive little heart, and, seeing that this crew has almost literally gone to Hell, she figures there's no point in trying to make herself a part of it any longer. This will be the last time any of these people would see her, but she hardly thinks they'd care, or even notice. Especially not Robbie.

He's one of the only members still standing in the surf, still looking out at the coffin as it drifts farther and farther away. His once bright blue eyes, the same ones that had always seemed to melt Lucia's resolve whenever she was cross with him, are rheumy and red and tired, and his collarbone-length blonde hair he'd always been proud of is now tied back in a stubby ponytail. It hurts her so to see him like this, despite everything. At least, after today, she won't have to see him again at all.

—————————-

The following procession at the Yellow Jack Inn is a slow transition into a celebration of each dead member's life, each of the remaining members crowded around the bar drunkenly prattling on about how funny this guy was or how stupidly brave this other guy was. This must've not been run by the owner, Janet, beforehand, as she stares from behind the bar wide-eyed and powerless to try kicking any of these dangerous mourning men out. Without The Lost logo emblazoned on their backs, she most likely would've been able to do so without any problems, but she just leaves them alone and refills their glasses when they’re empty, even if they don't ask. The patrons that are already there also look on with unsettled expressions, like they're a gang of murderous giants who strolled in to cry and have a few drinks. Seeing how hulking and monstrous they were, they might as well could be.

The men are slurring and mumbling too much for Lucia to be able to follow whatever it is they're saying, but they seem to understand each other pretty well, whether it's verbally or emotionally. They all nod in what looks like solemn agreement as someone else is speaking, their eyes closed and their eyebrows scrunched together as if lost in thought. It's endearing, in a way.

They only start speaking more deliberately when the topic eventually shifts to Trevor Phillips, the ex-business partner of the crew and the perpetrator of the massacres. Their voices get deeper and angrier until they're each going around with different ways in which they'd kill him. One member says he'd chop his dick off and wait for him to bleed out, another says he'd put him in a trailer with a meth lab and shoot one of the gas tanks outside it, and Robbie says he'd kill him the same way he'd killed Johnny - stomp and stomp on his head until parts of his brain matter are sticking to the sole of his boot. The other members seem to like that idea best, judging by how loudly they cheer and raise their bottles.

"Someone's gotta whack that crazy motherfucker before he comes for the rest of us," Garry pipes up, pushing his greasy black hair out of his face with one hand and holding a bottle of Logger in the other. The other members murmur in agreement, the leather of their jackets creaking as they lift their arms to take a drink or rub at their faces.

"But how, Gar? Don't you see how easily he picked us all off last weekend? There's only twelve of us left. He's killed over fifty of us single-handedly. You think we'll be able to show up at his house with some element of surprise bullshit and still expect to walk away with our lives?" Even when slightly tipsy, Robbie is still the voice of reason, but only when it supports his cause, apparently. Garry's rat-like face scrutinizes his for a moment as the gears work in his head. He knows he's right.

"Maybe it has to be some kinda inside job," A member named Morris suggests, sitting on the further-most bar stool. Out of all the members, this member is the huskiest, the least hygienic, and has a deep voice that reverberates through one's chest as he speaks.

"Whaddaya mean?" Garry queries.

"I dunno. Someone earns his trust, or whatever, and whacks him when his back is turned. He's got lackeys, I've seen them come around with him before. A businessman could never have enough lackeys."

Garry wraps his index finger around his chin, considering. "True enough. But have you seen us? What are we good for? We can't act, and we sure as hell can't fool even a nutcase like that one."

The members slump their shoulders helplessly upon hearing this, knowing it was true. Even Robbie failed to come up with a better idea.

"When one of y'all degenerates come up with something, you let me know. Whoever does end up whacking him, and brings back his head on a silver platter, will be crowned President of the chapter." Garry chuckles.

Now, Lucia is listening in with rapt attention, her eyes finally detaching from the jukebox on the half-wall. She can’t believe this interests her, as she’s so close to kissing this crew goodbye, but it does, and she hopes he’s not kidding or he’s not too drunk to not be serious.

All she ever really wanted was to be a member of the crew, but president? It was a lot to take in. Even though 95% of the crew was floating around in coffins in the Alamo Sea, and regaining momentum wouldn’t be an easy task with what little members it had left, Lucia saw promise in the idea; the other crew members finally seeing a woman as more than just an ‘old lady’ or a sex toy they’d flaunt and dispose of when they got bored of it. Although she should’ve already had it, killing Trevor would earn her that respect - she just needed a sound enough idea. Perhaps Morris was on the right track. Perhaps she could use her womanly assets - and not just her physical ones - to succeed where a male crew member would not. Then, it dawns on her.

If Trevor was sexually involved with Ashley Butler, that meant it didn’t take much in the aesthetics department to get his pants down, as Ashley was a drug-addled mess both inside and out. Not that Lucia thought lowly of herself - what she had in mind would just be that much easier to execute if this was the case.

But sex wouldn’t be enough for her to get him to trust her, no matter how attractive she was - no, she’d need to delve for a deeper attraction; love.

Men like him must have a savior complex, right? (Don’t they all?) So, she'll adopt a persona that caters to that; a green damsel in distress, ripe for the taking. When he has his back turned? Bullet to the head.

It’s the perfect takedown. Diabolical. No holes whatsoever, no room to mess anything up. This plan alone should earn her the title, since these drunken half-wits can’t possibly think of anything better. And even if being president over all of them wasn’t the most appealing thing in the world, at least she’d have something to do besides going back to doing fuck all in Vespucci Beach or rotting in Stab City and possibly being Trevor’s next target instead of the other way around.

“Garry?” She calls, prompting all 11 heads at the bar to turn to her. They each look slightly surprised, especially Robbie, as she hasn’t spoken at all until now. She looks him dead in the eye before she continues. “I have a plan.”

Operation: Black Widow is a go.