Skyline and Liquor. It was how they celebrated things, commiserated things, or welcomed each other back after particularly difficult missions. Sloane was more team oriented then Reyna was, so they didn’t get to work together much.
But Sloane told Reyna about her most recent, no intel, hush hush, probably a suicide mission. Reyna used her own contacts inside of SVT Sec to get as many details as she could on what fuckery her bestie was into, all while she was working undercover at the EMC.
It was her contact who let her know that Sloane was back. Rescued in fact by a pretty high level SVT Sec squad. Sloane was a goddamn badass so if she’d needed an evac/rescue, Reyna knew the mission was bad.
Reyna finished her day at her EMC post, made a pit stop to the liquor and grocery store, rigged her apartment to make it look like she was at home watching netflix and playing with her vibrator, and secret agented her way to Sloane’s apartment.
She let herself into Sloane’s apartment before her bestie and made herself at home like she usually did. She was in Sloane’s kitchen, cooking, a habit she’d picked up from her father, one of her favorite spanish radio stations coming out from her phone as she danced around and making canelons.
They had released her from the SVT hospital, with a bag of pills, a slew of follow up appointments, and a…hotline number. Sloane sighed as she pushed the door to her apartment building open. It felt like another lifetime since she was here, like a different person’s life. A person who could get the job done, a person…who didn’t get half her team killed.
Sloane hit the elevator for her floor, shouldering the black duffle bag, and leaned against the wall.
It’s your fault, Sloane.
She squeezed her eyes shut at Kenneth’s voice. She didn’t want to open her eyes and see him standing there, but she did, because..she deserved it.
He was standing there covered in blood, his chest black with it. His eyes condemned her, “You killed me.”
Sloane’s jaw worked and her eyes turned to glass, but she didn’t look away. She didn’t look away from the death she wrought. “Cheer up, Buttercup.” Lex’s voice sounded to her side, “At least you’re still breathing. Though, you still have a bit of me in your hair.” Sloane dropped the bag, and immediately started jerkily ripping her hands through her hair.
The elevator beeped, and the doors slid open.
“Sloane.” Her head jerked up, and Etienne was leaning next to the opening. His eyes …looked sad as they alerted her to the woman standing in the hallway.
Her eyes jerked to the woman that had been waiting to get into the elevator. She was older, and she looked …nervous. Sloane realized with a start it was because of her. She swallowed once and then flashed her smile, “Uh, there was a bug.” “Yeah, inside your chest.” Lex sneered.
Sloane hurriedly reached down to grab her bag and the white envelope she had dropped, before leaving the woman and the too crowded elevator behind. Once she was alone again, in front of her apartment door, she took a deep breath. Then used her key and pushed the door open. She was greeted with…the smell of cooking, and the sound of …Reyna’s favorite radio station.
Sloane swallowed roughly at the emotion that caught in her throat. She came, even though she shouldn’t have. She took a step forward eager to see her best friend, her family, and caught a look of herself in the mirror. The mirror by the entryway told her she looked like shit, her black curly hair was messed up, she looked pale, the dark circles under eyes…spoke to her of nightmares.
She crushed the white envelope in too tight a grip as she moved into the apartment. Sloane stood in the entryway that led into the small kitchen. And once she saw Reyna, all the emotions she so desperately wanted to keep in check, so that she could just be with her friend that she hadn’t seen in too long, just spilled over. Her jaw was tense as her chin shook once. Her eyes like glass again.
She felt like glass.
Like one stone thrown by a careless child would shatter her.
Reyna was an agent, so of course she heard the keys in the lock, even over her music. The sound of the footsteps underscoring the beat of her favorite jam told her it was Sloane, not some foolish intruder.
“Eeeey, bitch get in here…” Reyna scooped the canelons from pan to plate, cursing when she burned herself because she always did, “… I made you-” She turned with plates in hand and locked eyes on her friend.
Who looked like she’d just gotten pulled out of the worst nightmare in the world.
“Joder,” Reyna rolled the last r, giving more oomph to the word. Fuck.
Silently, Reyna set the plates down on the counter, quickly poured the tequila into a shot glass and walked right up to Sloane. “You have the shot, or a hug first. This will tell me how bad it is.”
The sound that came out of her could have been a laugh, but it was too sharp, too raw, to be mistaken for humor. Relief, maybe. Sloane dropped the bag, and crashed into her person. Reyna was more than just her best friend. Sloane was an only child, and her parents were never really around much. It had always been her and Reyna. Her person.
Her arms crushed Reyna to her, like she was a lifeline, completely ignoring the offer of a drink. Sloane didn’t say anything, just took a shaky breath. She was a mess, but with Reyna she didn’t need to pretend she wasn’t.
“That bad, huh?” Reyna downed the shot quickly as Sloane crushed her, because you didn’t let good alcohol go to waste and she needed that hand free to chuck the shot glass over her shoulder, it might have broken, whatever they were cheap, and wrapped both her arms around her person too. She squeezed Sloane tight, cradling the back of her head in one hand.
She didn’t fill the silence, she didn’t need to. She just hugged her best friend, letting her know without words she was here, and not going anywhere and Sloane could talk or not, it had never mattered much to her.
Sloane didn’t answer, she just hugged her tighter. It was hard to say how long they stayed like that, but once Sloane’s breathing evened out, she pulled back, wiping at the corner of her eye with her sleeve. “Did you just…toss my shot gloss on the floor?” She smirked.
“You need better shot glasses anyway,” when Sloane pulled back, Reyna took another good look at her friend, saying nothing for a time, getting all the information she needed from the shadows under and inside her friends eyes, the slight pull to laugh lines around her mouth. She’d never seen Sloane come back from a mission like this before. Not quite like this. “What do you need?” she finally asked quietly.
Sloane gave her a shaky smile. “You. Here. Speaking of which,” she levied a look at Reyna, “You’re supposed to be deep cover right now. How’d you even know I was back?”
“I am still in deep cover, but my super secret contact let me know you were back. Code name Galaga Guy,” Reyna smirked, put both her hands on her friend’s face and kissed her forehead. “Go. Sit. I’ll bring the food and the liquor. You look like shit, and I’d tell you to shower but I don’t think you want to be alone right now.”
“Galaga guy…” Sloane tilted her head to the side when she made the connection, “Seriously?” She laughed quietly at that, and finally released the death grip she had on that white envelope. She tossed the piece of paper onto the counter. Reyna would see that it looked very official indeed, and it was addressed to SVT personnel, specifically, Sloane’s supervisor.
Sloane closed her eyes at the kiss to her forehead, and then did as she was told, sitting at the little table in the kitchen. She leaned forward and ran her hands through her hair, they got tangled about halfway through and she gave up. “I don’t, but I’m not sure it matters.”
Reyna winked at Sloane at the mention of Galaga guy. “He’s been so nice to me ever since my divorce and I am 100% taking advantage of the situation.” She grabbed the plates she abandoned earlier, setting them down on the little table, one in front of Sloane. She went back into the kitchen for the bottle, and new shot glasses, her gaze catching on that white envelope.
“You want to burn it?” She nodded towards the envelope, before sitting down next to Sloane, pouring them both a drink. “It matters. It absolutely matters,” the latter said gently.
Sloane murmured a thank you when Reyna set the plate and shot glass in front of her. Her gaze drifted to the piece of paper as she covered her mouth with her hand for a moment. Then her eyes moved back to Reyna, “It’s my resignation, Reyna.” She let that hang between them for a moment before she straightened in her chair, “SVT won’t accept it until I’m cleared by psych.”
Reyna stared at Sloane for a long moment. She clearly hadn’t expected that. Not from her, Sloane. She picked up her shot glass and knocked it back, then poured herself another. She left that one untouched, stood up, and went back into the kitchen. She took the white envelope, rolled it up, shoved it into Sloane’s garbage disposal and turned it on.
“Hey-” Sloane started, and then just sighed like she didn’t have the energy for more than that, she reached for her shot and knocked it back. Sloane stared into the empty shot glass for a moment, and then said quietly, “That’s not going to change what’s in that letter, Rey.”
Reyna flipped off the noise. “We don’t make dumb decisions when we’re down. Your words to me the day I decided I didn’t want to sign the divorce papers. Remember?” She walked back over to the table, sat and refilled her friend’s glass. Then she took Sloane’s hand, squeezing tightly. Her gray/blue eyes were full of sympathy, love, and determination. “We knew it would happen didn’t we? That one time, it was gonna go all wrong, or we were gonna get dead, and one of us was going to have to throw a party and not a funeral because funerals are fucking lame. You’re not dead, thank all the fucking goddesses, but you had the mission. So now, we deal with it. Together.”
Sloane’s jaw tensed, “I should be dead.” She said so very quietly. “It should be me. In the fucking ground, and not them.” Her eyes refocused and she covered their hands with her free one. “We did. We knew.” Her voice was gentle, but it was small, so very small and broken, “But, people are dead…because of the decisions I made, Reyna.”
Tell her, Sloane. Tell her how you killed us. You don’t get to come back from that.
Sloane’s eyes didn’t move away from Reyna’s, but held onto her gaze with an intensity that clung to her lithe frame, because she knew…that Kenneth was now standing in her kitchen. “I don’t…get to come back from that.” She echoed his words. “I can’t…lead anymore.” She swallowed roughly, “I wonder if I was ever really good at it to start.”
Reyna squeezed Sloane’s hand, meeting her gaze, listening intently. Something broke Sloane in a way Reyna had never seen before. For a moment, a fiercely protective familia instinct welled up inside of her. She’d fucking murder anyone or anything that had wounded her person like this.
She pushed that Daklan temper aside, she’d get the deets from Galaga guy later. “Okay, listen. Listen to me. I don’t know the sitrep of what went down, but I know you. I know you, Sloane. And number one, you don’t ever get to say you should be dead. I’ll be so fucking mad if you leave me here, by myself in this shit job, yeah? Number two, you have always, always been a leader and annoyingly good at it.” She cupped a hand around the back of Sloane’s neck, and pulled her closer, forehead to forehead. “You don’t have to believe that right now. I do, and I’m never fucking wrong. Not about you.”
Sloane closed her eyes as she went with the pull and pressed her forehead against Reyna’s. She took a slow, shaky breath, focusing on Reyna. Reyna was real. It was just her and Reyna, drinking in her kitchen. At her words, silent tears spilled over her cheeks, “I don’t know what I would do without you,” She whispered roughly, “Don’t make me find out.”
“I promise,” Reyna vowed intensely. She pulled a napkin off the table with her free hand, and dabbed at Sloane’s cheeks, smirking, “Plus my parents are such psychopaths. If something did happen to me they’d probably change the timeline to fix it or something.”
The promise released some of the weight in her chest, even if the world was unrecognizable, Reyna was there. And that was enough. It would always be enough. The latter pulled a wet sounding laugh from Sloane, “I would help them.” She pulled back, pressed a kiss to Reyna’s forehead, and then did the shot her friend had poured for her.
Reyna laughed. “Yeah, I know you would.” She took her own shot, and then promptly refilled the glasses, leaning back in her chair and watching Sloane. After a moment of silence she asked gently, “Want to talk about it?”
Sloane’s fingers tapped against her now full shot glass, “I don’t know how.” Her jaw worked for a moment, “I don’t know how to tell you about –” She flinched suddenly, and a bit of tequila spilt onto the surface of the little kitchen table. “Hey…” Reyna reached out, grasping hold of Sloane’s fingers, giving them another squeeze. Without missing a beat she just refilled the shot glass. “… you don’t have to say a word. I’m here all night. And if you’re seeing ghosts, you tell them to fuck off.”
Sloane held onto Reyna’s hand tightly as she rubbed at her eyes with the other. “The medication they gave me isn’t working.” She sighed, like she expected it almost. Her eyes moved to Reyna’s, and her jaw worked. “I can’t tell them to fuck off.” Sloane said so very quietly, “I deserve this.”
She had questions about the meditation but she focused instead on the more pressing issue. “Bullshit,” she said without hesitation at the last word to leave her friend’s mouth. “Bull. Shit.” She emphasized. “Unless you pushed someone into a grenade and even then my next question would be, but did they deserve it.”
Sloane’s eyes were like glass as they held Reyna’s, her words like a lifeline and she laughed once, though it sounded a bit wet. She took a deep shaky breath, and her hand moved into her hair. “You know what I mean. First one in, last one out. I said that we would all go home. I joked with Lex about breaking our time record. I promised that I would end up in a box before anyone on my team did.” She swallowed roughly, “I broke that promise three times, Rey. Three times over. Lex, Kenneth, …Etienne. They’re all dead.” Her jaw tensed, “And I’m still here.” Her hand moved to her chest, balling in the clothing there and her eyes became unfocused as she remembered knowing she was going to die the same way Kenneth did, as she remembered the feeling of that thing inside her. The feeling of her gun, heavy as she lifted it, sighting down the creature that killed her. Her fingers started pulling at her clothes, and her breathing started to get faster.
Reyna’s eyes were on Sloane’s face, heart breaking for her, Sloane. She heard the catch in Sloane’s voice as she said the last name. Watched where her friend’s hands went. Reyna scooted her chair immediately closer to Sloane’s, reaching out and taking her friend’s hands firmly in her own. “Sloane, slow it down for me. You’re here with me. You’re here with me, now. You’re not there. You’re here.”
Sloane’s eyes refocused on Reyna, and she took a few deep breaths as she oriented herself again, “Sorry.” She murmured quietly, “Doctors said that will happen sometimes.” She gave Reyna’s hands a squeeze. “I’m okay.”
“You don’t ever have to apologize to me, you know that.” Reyna gave Sloane’s hands another quick squeeze before she leaned back in her chair again. “Lex was a dick. His death was 100% his own fucking fault I’d bet my left tit on that, and you know it’s my party tit.” Reyna winked at her, then sobered. Quiet a second before she asked, “Whose Eitenne?”
Sloane laughed once, “Yeah, he was a dick.” She rubbed at her eyes before taking a deep breath, “But, I should have grabbed his arm. He was freaked out by those things and stormed past me. Annoyed at something I said. I should have grabbed his arm. Nothing was on my glasses, but…I knew it wasn’t safe. I should…have stopped Lex.” She closed her eyes, her whole body tense for a moment as she flinched, and her hand moved to her hair before dropping back on the table. Whose Etienne?
Sloane didn’t know how to answer that question. She barely knew him, and yet…
Her eyes slowly opened and went to the kitchen entryway.
…there he was.
It was his ghost that was keeping her sane. His ghost and Reyna’s grip on her hand. She smiled, a moment of peace in between the chaos, but it was somber. Because Sloane knew he wasn’t really there. None of them were.
Reyna’s here. She’s real. Tell her I liked rock music.
Sloane closed her eyes at first and tightened her grip on Reyna’s hand, like she was afraid that she would slip through her fingers like the others had. She huffed at the latter, but her smile grew, “Etienne enjoyed the classics.” She paused, “He was on my team, SVT sent him.”
Reyna watched Sloane’s eyes move away and stare into nothing. There was a big difference between a blank stare, and a cognitive one. Sloane was seeing ghosts, and Reyna’s heart ached again for her friend. This one though, seemed not to be torturing her.
More than one, then.
She didn’t let go of Sloane’s hand. “First of all, I know you take being team leader seriously. But Lex was a trained soldier, a grown ass man, and an asshole. You couldn’t tell that boy shit, so I can only imagine his ridiculousness inside of a mission. There’s a big huge difference between leading people, and controlling people, and some people don’t want to either. Lex would be a prime example of that. You don’t have to carry his death on your shoulders, okay?” she said it gently. “Let that one go.”
She paused for another moment, looking back towards the kitchen archway, and back at Sloane. She studied him for another moment, then asked in a gentle tone, “He could have been something.”
“His funeral is in a couple days.” Sloane let that sentence hang in the air. “I’m going to speak to his mother. Still don’t know what I’m going to say to her.” She covered her eyes with her hand for a moment. “Maybe.” She said to the latter, and admitted very quietly, “I wanted to find out.”
Sometimes there just wasn’t words for things. Just feelings and bubbles you wish you could put the people you loved in to protect them from bullshit like this. So Reyna let go of Sloane’s hand, just because she’d leaned forward and wrapped her friend up in a tight hug.
“It’s my parents fault,” she said finally after a long moment of silence. “They’ve cursed the rest of us with their ability to be an immortal perfect couple. It’s nature balancing itself out. We’re doomed.”
Sloane laughed at that, her arms holding tightly to Reyna. “Well, at least we’ll be doomed together. Liquor and Skylines, right?”
Reyna smiled, “Damn right. Which is where we’d be, if I wasn’t under fucking cover.” She kissed Sloane’s forehead and poured her another shot. “C’mon drink up. Tequila solves everything.”
If Sloane hadn’t come back broken, she would have said to her This one is weird, Sloane. You ever get the feeling, something’s coming? But she didn’t say that, instead she made Sloane eat, and drink, and get everything off her chest she needed to. It was a start.
She didn’t leave until the very early hours, hugging her friend tight and making her promise to keep in touch over their secure line. Promised back that she would check in when she could.
“You are goddamn Sloane. We are goddamn SVT Agents. And one day we’re going to marry rich Terenzio’s and take over the whole fucking company and rename it something better than a dead mobster’s initials okay?” She framed Sloane’s face between her palms and pressed their foreheads together. “You don’t have to be okay right now. But you will be later. You will. Leave that fucking resignation in the garbage disposal. I’m not kidding.”
And with that, she was gone.