Han ChoBai’s still ranting at Frank when Victoria elbows her way next to him and takes his arm with both hands, picture of clichéd gentility. He stops flailing to look down at her, wariness in his body if not on his face- she can still feel him coiled and tense under her hands but he is poker-faced blank, smart man. He doesn’t resist, though, when she pulls him gently away from the crowd of disheveled Americans towards his ridiculous car. It seems like it could be his style- flashy and expensive.
“Yelling at Frank will get you nowhere. He’s as stubborn as they come and likes to make a point of it.”
Victoria studies the car for a moment, bullet holes and all, then turns to Han with a raised brow.
“Is this your car? Where on earth did you find something so gaudy?”
She slides into the driver’s seat without waiting for his answer, but she looks at him expectantly until he climbs in, waiting for his answer.
“It was in the lot. Seemed fast.”
Probably some diplomat’s then.
Victoria nods as she backs the car down the runway towards the freeway, and momentarily admires the way the car handles. It’s responsive and smooth, and even if she’d been fresh out of passing her defensive driving courses, she couldn’t have driven it the way Han had.
“You know,” she starts as she pulls into traffic and starts back towards the city, “Frank owes me too many favors and one day I’m going to call them all in at once. What’s just one more?”
Victoria cuts a look at Han ChoBai seated next to her in the car, disgraced former agent (apparently Frank’s fault), volatile, trigger happy, decent shot, impressive reputation in the business, one of the best damn drivers she’s encountered, ultimately not an amoral psychopath. There are worse men out there.
She’s dated worse. (She’s dating worse?)
“Here’s the deal.”
She cuts off a car that honks obnoxiously at her, and she considers sticking a fur coated arm out the window to flip them off.
“I get you what you want from Frank.”
She twists her head to face him and watches him narrow his eyes at her.
“I clear your name, you stop trying to kill Frank.”
She smiles her lady-of-the-manor smile at him and turns back to the road.
“Also, while I’m working on that, I’d like you to come on a few jobs with me.”
He takes a beat to respond, slowly, warily.
“I can get my own jobs”
Victoria hums as she takes an exit back towards the city, heading back to the embassy.
“Yes, I’m quite aware. Your reputation precedes you. It’s just that a few government friends want me to take out some criminal organizations off the books. For a lot of money. Enough to replace that plane of yours with your cut of the payout.”
“Are we going to kill some people?”
Victoria smiles, wild and carefree.
“A whole fucking lot of people.”
Victoria takes Han to Amsterdam near the canals and spends a lovely afternoon standing up in a car, shooting guns of all sizes out of the sunroof. It’s one of the smoothest high speed chases she remembers having been on. She takes out the gunman in the car behind them, then stops and slides back down onto her seat when a tight corner comes up.
If she’d been 30 years younger, and prone to loud behavior, she might have whooped through that precision hairpin turn that took them parallel to the river.
The angle’s lousy for shooting, so Victoria stays in her seat and checks her clips.
“Really, you must share the name of your driving instructor.”
Han cocks her glance, hands firmly on the wheel, doesn’t say a word, and flips the car over the embankment in a showy mastery of physics. The landing doesn’t even jolt her bones. Bastard.
They watch, for a few seconds as two of the cars chasing after them fumble the turn, overshoot, then land in the river, sinking quickly. A third just smashes into a bollard, throwing the driver clear from the car. Han casually leans out his window and shoots the remaining injured gunman who’d been half falling out of the wrecked car. Victoria keeps her eyes on the river- one minute, two minutes, but no one pops back up to the surface from where the cars went in.
On minute three, she cranes her head back so check for the smoke plume in the skyline of a rather exploded building some ways back, then pulls out her phone and texts a ‘job completed’ message to her contact. The near instantaneous response confirming payment seems all in order. She transfers the promised amount to Han as he starts driving back up the embankment and casually merges back onto the road.
“8 Million for a mob cleanup?”
“There are up to four separate governments that wanted that mob gone. Put me in a great position to negotiate a cut from their Cayman bank accounts.”
Victoria negotiated by mostly getting stern at people, and the smart ones who knew her by reputation didn’t put up a fight.
“Now.” Victoria started looking at her phone.
“How do you feel about cold weather?”
It wasn’t like Victoria didn’t already know that Han liked to get up close and personal with his targets- she’s heard the stories.
It was another thing to watch through a sniper scope as the man seems like he’s trying his best to work through his anger issues by punching people in the face with a gun wielded like knuckle dusters. There’s practically a hoard of armed men in the building to stand in for punching bag.
Victoria waits him out, occasionally shooting down reinforcements trying to butt into Han’s therapy brawl, but it’s getting more and more chaotic.
“You’re getting a bit sloppy,” she calls through his ear piece as the view from her scope gets a little crowded for a few moments and she has to reload her rifle quickly to keep up.
Maybe she’s showing off a little- she makes it a game to hit more than one target with each bullet.
She feels a little glow of pride as she manages to tap the guy Han has in a chokehold, bullet passing through and landing dead center mass in another guy who’d been guns akimbo—ing all over the place.
The fft of Victoria’s bullet passing right by Han’s ear must knock him out of the state he’s worked himself into- he suddenly gets efficient and only takes a few more minutes to clear out the rest of the floor.
It looks all clear, so Victoria pulls away from her scope view for a moment to check the heat view monitor she has set up next her nest to confirm that there’s no one else moving around in there.
She keeps her rifle on hand but switched to a more comfortable pair of binoculars as Han heaves a couple bodies off some crates and cracks them open.
Victoria can’t stop the delighted soft ooh that comes out of her mouth and right into Han’s earpeace.
“Are those MP5Ks?”
Han pulls the lid of a couple more crates, all stacked with various models of straight-from-the-factory quality looking guns, and Victoria tuts.
“Well. Whatever else these idiots were doing, they did have some great taste in guns. Very brand loyal from what I can see from up here.”
Han peers at the creates from a much closer range and lifts up to waggle a hand up at her.
“These are all Heckler & Koch. They’re missing my favourites.”
Victoria scoffs over the line.
“Says the man who drags a Scorpion around wherever he can.”
Han turns around stares at Victoria, though he’d probably hardly be able to see her considering where she’s perched. She catches his expression in her binoculars and rolls her eyes.
“Hurry up and finish checking the boxes. I’m freezing my tits off up here…”
She catches movement out of the corner of her view, and she pivots quickly to focus on the man coming up to the warehouse. She scans his hair, estimates his height, and squints at his hand to look for the distinctive tattoo he’s supposed to have.
“Ah, that should be Mr. Gun Smuggler- owner of the building, coming up on you now. Shall I take him out or do you want to fit more punching into your morning?”
She hears some brief rustling and the click of a clip as she drops her binoculars and maneuvers her rifle into position to get a bead on the target.
“I’d have to reload. You can have him. I’m feeling lazy.”
Victoria snorts as she properly lines up the view of her target, waits until he nears the building, waits until he opens the door, lifts up a foot to step through, shifts he weight... She fires.
Mr Gun Smuggler falls forward, the force of the bullet and his moment letting him fall just inside the hall. The door swings shut on his feet.
“I recommend you leave through the window to preserve the scene for our cleanup crew.”
Victoria keeps her eyes on the street, double checking for any more visitors as the sounds of crates clicking opening sound over her earpiece.
“Everything’s here. We can go.”
There’s not even a car approaching in the vicinity, so Victoria sits up and starts dissembling her rifle. She’s almost done packing up when Han calls up to her.
“Hey. Do you want one of these guns?”
Victoria walks into the hotel lobby on Han’s arm, uses one hand, weighed down by a metric fuck-ton of diamonds- to direct a bellhop where to take her luggage, then releases her escort to check herself in.
She heads up to her room drops off about half the jewelry she’s wearing into the room safe, moves one of her suitcases into the bathroom, then circles downstairs into the casino. Han is with a small group of besuited men, all generically blending into each other.
She lets Han introduce her, tries her best to looks as vapid as possible, and lets the men superficially entertain her through 2 glasses of gin.
Eventually, one of the men excuses himself with some muttered pleasantries and heads off into the maze of the casino.
Victoria takes the disruption to the social dynamic to make some noise about playing some hands of blackjack. Han helpfully steers the rabble away from the tables while she finds a seat to play a round. The group disappears towards the front of the front of the casinos, and Victoria knows Han won’t let the double back.
Victoria takes a minute, loses a couple chips, and leaves her glass with a passing waitress. She makes her exit through the restaurant, circles around for the elevator banks. On the ride up, she pulls out her phone to check the video feed from the small camera hidden on the edge of one of her suitcases. She finds what she expected.
Before she key cards her door, Victoria shifts her grip on her purse, wiggles her toes to make sure her heels are on securely, then, casually, she opens the door.
There is a man in her room-the one who’d excused himself away downstairs- breaking into her safe.
He starts to turn at the sound of the door opening, gun in his non-dominant hand.
Victoria shoots him with the tiny glock she keeps in her glittery clutch.
She waits a moment, expecting to hear movement elsewhere in the room, some reaction to the thief getting shot, but nothing. Clearly, her targets didn’t think she posed much of a danger.
Victoria steps into her room and closes the door behind her. She checks her phone for the sensors she’s left at the end of the hallway, finds she has a few moments, and drags the body to the bathroom- the dead man’s suit is made of decent enough material that there isn’t too much friction on the carpet, and she’s moved him quickly enough that the blood hasn’t stained anything.
A small alert sounds, then very muffled footsteps in the hallway. Victoria has a moment to unlock the safe to leave the door swinging and visible from the door, and double check the silencer on her tiny glock.
The door beeps and unlocks, and it’s just two more men- not ones she recognizes- who can’t even be bothered checking the room before they enter. They’re inside and halfway to the safe before Victoria shoots them both. She relocates immediately them to the bathroom to spare the carpet, and into the tub for good measure.
Guns in reach, Victoria’s going through their pockets when a pattern taps out against the door and Han steps through with a man slung over his shoulder- Victoria spares a thought to what the hotel security camera would have caught, then she puts it out of mind- they’ll be out of here soon enough. And she can call her friends at the CNI to handle cleanup if there’s an actual problem.
Victoria looks up as Han walks into the bathrooms, and waves him to drop the body into the bathtub as she fiddles with a fingerprint-unlocked phone.
“Is that it?”
“There was a driver waiting in the parking lot. But that’s it. Everybody else went to the meetup location.”
Victoria lets out a disgusted huff as she pulls herself to her feet, dead guy’s phone in hand.
“When you said rich idiots funding terrorists, I expected more than this. You could have handled this in your sleep.”
Her opinion of the dead men in her bathroom drops even lower as she finds the text thread between them, names, meetup locations all in plain text. She tosses the phone to Han and pulls over the small suitcase she stashed next to the sink earlier.
“I didn’t expect them to be this stupid.”
Han’s watching as she pulls a couple bottles out of the suitcase, then a face mask. It must take him a second to realize what she’s doing when he reached over to pull the watches off the two men wearing them, and all of their shoes. He tosses everything into her now-empty suitcase and pulls it out of the bathroom as Victoria starts dumping her proprietary mixture of lye and household cleaners over the bodies.
“Everyone else is at a restaurant, like a group of idiot gangsters.”
Han calls in to her. There are fumes rising from the body now.
“Are we going to kill them all? Because those people are too stupid to function and they’d deserve it.”
Victora smiles as she retrieves her empty bottles of cleaners-man after her own proclivities- but schools her expression into a scowl by the time she’s made it out of the bathroom and pulls off her mask.
“Next time you need me to play target, don’t introduce me as your mother-in-law.”
“What. You’re old enough to have a 20 year old daughter.”
She doesn’t bother to hide her look of disgust, holds it while Han laughs at her- full throatily like he’s a real human being and not an angry murderous cat.
Victoria doesn’t quite understand when the world went a little sideways-this is the third government building she’s storming, guns blazing, in three years, and she wasn’t exactly trained for this raid nonsense.
But, when one uncovered a bombing plot while on a job to kill some weapons smugglers, well, needs must.
There really should be more people on this job- just two people sweeping the halls looking for the bomber’s hired security is a little stressful.
When Victoria is stressed, she gets a little grenade-happy.
Even Han seems on edge and doesn’t look like he’s enjoying pistol whipping armed balaclava-wearing men who get a little too close.
They find the bomber in the boiler room with his stupid bomb- Victoria can’t tell if hers or Han’s bullet killed him first, but there isn’t much time to parse body counts.
Han keeps watch at the door while Victoria glares at the bomb, thankfully not on any sort of timer, before calling Marvin to talk her through disarming the damn thing.
She’s in the middle of unscrewing something as directed, when there’s a flurry of Mandarin behind her—she catches her name being spoken out of the corner of her attention, but Marvin’s ranting something about rods in her ear and she’s a little focused at the moment.
When Victoria finally finishes and takes her hands off the damn bomb, she yells out a “Thank you, Marvin” over the sound of him mumbling on in her ear and ends the phone connection. She turns to find an antsy but quiet crowd of security personnel at the door of the boiler room, being glared at by Han.
It’s a bit chaotic when they realize that she’s done neutralizing the building-leveling explosive, but no one tries too hard to stop her from walking out the boiler room and just sitting down in the hallway. A little undignified but she’s too exhausted to care.
It’s some unknown number of minutes later, when Han’s sliding down to sit against the opposite wall.
He’s bleeding slightly and looks just as tired as she feels.
“I’m getting too old for this.”
The adrenaline is wearing off and she’s feeling all her decades all at once. There’s a reason she’s retired.
“Life’s so much easier when you just have to shoot some people and leave. Don’t they have special forces for this terrorism shit?”
Han shrugs tiredly.
“I’m going on vacation. No more jobs for awhile.”
Victoria lifts her head to study Han for a moment, considers how many of the security team is still milling around them and in-and-out of the boiler room, the chances of Han causing some kind of scene, and figures he’s too exhausted.
“Your old boss is upstairs.”
She waits the second it takes him to realize what ‘boss’ means in the context of a security council in Singapore, then he gets a deer-in-the-headlights look that looks almost comically out of place on his face.
“He’s been receptive the last few times I’ve spoken to him. Mentioning the cowboy bullshit the CIA do seemed to help. You should have been hearing from him soon. Or you can go up and see him yourself.”
Han looks like he’s gathering up energy to…? Bolt? Run upstairs and confront his old boss? Clearing Han’s name had been the initial proposal Victoria had made, but she wasn’t sure what the relationship looked like between Han and his former director. Probably contentious.
Han’s halfway to his feet when he swears quietly, first in Korean, then English, then down a rather inpressive list of languages.
Han’s looking down the hall, at a small group of approaching men, and-ah- Director Seo’s with them. There’s no way Han can avoid meeting with his old boss now.
“Well. If this goes well. No reason to kill Frank Moses now.”
Han glares at Victoria, mutters a “I never promised that”, and reaches down to help pull her to her feet.
Victoria’s in the middle of wrangling some garden clippings when her cell phone rings- the untraceable one she mainly uses for business.
She picks up, ready to turn down whoever it is with whatever job they’re offering, but a crooning “zaichik moi” knocks her off her off her game.
She had thought to maybe go visit him soon, see him when there wasn’t chaotic danger underfoot and she could actually relax. Ivan didn’t call out of the blue, especially when she was in at home.
“Is there something wrong?”
“Not at all, my dear. I wanted to tell you that your new man saved my life. I approve.”
His tone was all tease, and Victoria had to parse through his words for a moment.
“Who was trying to kill you? Do I have to go over there and shoot some sense into people?”
Ivan laughs over the phone, fond and delighted, and Victoria smiles in her kitchen.
“No need to come all the way here for that, my darling. Your Han’s taken care of it all.”
“Yes, Ivan. I’ve been meaning to tell you. Han’s got a van mounted GAU. I’m leaving you for him and his gun collection.”
She hears Ivan make protesting noises over the phone, putting on the act for her, and she feels such a rush of fondness.
“Now. Who’s been trying to kill you?”
She can practically hear Ivan’s gesture waving away her concerns.
“Old family enemies. Worked with the wrong people and ended up on your friend’s radar. He was very thorough. Says you owe him a vacation now.”
“He’ll have to argue about vacation with his boss now. I can meet you in Altai. If you’d like.”
Ending the call with Ivan doesn’t take much longer, but when she does, there’s a text message waiting for her.
You owe me. Vacation.
Victoria rolls her eyes. But. Well. It sounds like he did save Ivan’s life.
She scrolls through her email for a recent job offer for a good amount of money to assassinate some mafiosos in Capri. Easy job, lovely luxury Mediterranean destination. Perfect working vacation for their sort. She forwards it along to Han with a “Don’t send your agency after me if they don’t like your hobbies.”
It’s a few hours later, when Victoria is planning her packing to see Ivan, when a text comes through.
“Old job boring. Freelancing now. Wanna shoot some people in Australia next month?”