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Hands Up, Baby Hands Up

Chapter Text

Juliana was leaning back on the sofa, her eyes scrunched up at hearing the yelling around her. She never liked it when people fought - it reminded her too much of her parents - that's a thought she didn't want to think through. This didn't sound any different - the male voice domineering; the female one pleading. She'd had enough of it.

"Okay- Okay that's enough!" she snapped, sitting up at once. This is why I don't do romance.

"Look - she's making it sound worse than it was!" Sergio argued, and Juliana looked like she couldn’t care less. She took one look at her cousin, who looked so defeated it broke her heart a little.

She picked up her gun from the table that was in front and got up. She did not even try to listen to Sergio's pleading. Her mind was made up when her cousin Sara had explained to her what he did. She had no particular fondness to go and look for trouble, but this was family after all.

So much for family values.

"I've heard enough." Juliana offered as she casually waved the gun and walked right at Sergio, who looked quite pale.

"As far as I understand - you got my little cousin there drunk on Mezcal, clouded her judgement by telling her horrible things about her boyfriend, and then coerced her into sleeping with you. Is that right?" she reasoned out, her eyes glaring at Sergio's, her face hard.

"That's not how it started out -" he began, his throat going dry.

"No, but that's what happened."

Sergio gulped. He couldn't deny it, he figured he better beg for mercy now.

"I don't think you have to kill me for this!" he pleaded, his haughty voice had long lost its arrogance.

Juliana stared menacingly at Sergio for a minute in silence, watching his breathing become faster and doing his best to control his agitation. Slowly she shook her head.

"No, I'm not going to kill you. You know why?" she replied in a strong quiet tone, through gritted teeth. Sergio couldn't find his voice anymore, so he desperately shook his head.

"Because if it were me, I would have killed you before listening to your shitty explanation." Juliana finished, turning and walking towards Sara. Sergio heaved a sigh of relief.

"I think she should decide what's to be done, don't you agree?" Juliana shrugged, cocking the gun and handing it to her cousin, who looked quite nervous. Sergio stiffened up again, but not as scared as he was before.

"Now, don't be worried Sara", Juliana offered, walking back towards the sofa and not paying much attention.

"If you want - You can just shoot him in the leg-"

Before Juls could finish her sentence, a shot rang through the house. Sergio fell backwards almost instantly.

Juliana slowly turned to look at her cousin, who had a look of relief on her face.

"Did you just kill him?" Juls asked out loud in disbelief.

"That was the plan, right?" Sara asked back, falling back on the sofa behind her, looking more like her old cocky self.

Juls could not believe what just happened.

"THAT WAS NOT THE PLAN!!"

"No?"

Juls widened her eyes at her cousin’s calmness.

"I said we could deal with him!"

"And we did."

"That doesn't mean kill him! Oh Sara, why did you have to do that?" Juls surrendered, falling on the sofa. This was not a big complication, but now she would have to deal with Inspector Montilla.

"He deserved it." Sara shrugged.

"Next time, I'm dealing with the gun. Hand it over." Juliana commanded, leaning forward. Sara frowned, and hesitated before returning the gun back to her elder cousin.

Juls shoved the gun into the back of her jeans and walked towards the now lifeless body of Sergio.

Well he did deserve it.

"Don't move, I'm going to talk to Montilla." she ordered, dialling the inspector on her phone.


 

Montilla rolled his eyes back staring at the number on his phone. This cannot be good.

"Good evening, Ms. Valdes."

"Inspector Montilla. How nice to hear your voice again.” Juls began, she knew the man was close to snapping on her.

"What do you want?"

"Oh, nothing. Remember that time you promised to make sure I would not see the inside of a jail cell if I ratted out my father? You remember that?"

"I regret it too." Covering up for Juliana Valdes' had become a burden for him, but he had no choice. The girl is her father's daughter alright.

"Well, now you've got a nice murder to pin on any criminal you want."

Montilla sighed, he knew better than to cross paths with Juliana. It is better she's on our side.

"And where will I find this body?"


 

"The police will be here soon. Come on, let's go." Juliana beckoned to her cousin, who seemed busy with Sergio's phone.

"What – are you doing?" Juls groaned, exasperated with her cousin.

"What, there's nice selfies on it." Oh my God.

"Wipe the phone, put it back and come on, we gotta go." Juls ordered. It was best to be strict with Sara.

The two of them calmly walked back to the SUV they came in, one of Juls henchmen in the driver's seat. Juls leaned her head back, hand on her forehead, taking in all that happened.

"So how was dinner with that girl last night?" Sara inquired, climbing into the SUV.

Juls slowly turned to look at her cousin.

"You just killed a man. Show some respect." Juliana muttered contemptuously, secretly hoping that Montilla would not bother her too much about this. She had been nice for a while, surely that was worth something.

"For him though?" Sara asked, disgusted a little.

Juls considered it for a moment and then threw off her air of contempt. Excitement always came over her face when she thought of the beautiful Valentina Carvajal.

"So, her name is Valentina, and she's about three-fourth legs and I'm in love with her."

Sara grinned at her cousin's glee. "Tell me everything."


 

Juliana stared at this man, quite unsure of what to make of him. He looked pretty decent, but if he was here then he couldn't be as decent as he seemed.

"What's your name?" Juls dryly asked him. She was at her own home now, surrounded by her most loyal men. Sara was standing in the corner, watching intently.

"Lucho."

He didn't look like he was going to continue. Juls tried to understand why this rich boy was asking her, the local feared contract killer for help.

"And why have you come to me?"

"This is a sensitive issue, and I know you will handle it with care." Lucho replied, looking quite impassive. Juls was trying to sum up this man, but there was something about him she couldn't quite figure out.

"So, you want me to kidnap this girl-?"

"Just for a while, she's spoilt and it's just to teach her a lesson." Lucho explained, and Juls looked mildly impressed with that explanation.

"Seems like a harsh thing to do to teach a girl a lesson." Juls retorted, taking a sip of her juice.

"There's a lot of money in it for you if you handle it well." Lucho offered, tapping a suitcase by his side. Juls considered it for a second. It seemed like a simple thing to do, and it paid well for the kind of job it was. Thinking over it for a minute, she nodded.

"Okay."

Lucho looked relieved, and passing the suitcase to her, began with the details.

"Her name is Va-"

"HEY HEY HEY! You think I do the dirty work myself?" Juls immediately cut him off. "I don't even want to know about this, you can explain the details to her." Juls nodded towards Sara and left him to explain the details to her cousin.

"Now, I don't want any details, just a photograph, and you bring her to the place and time we tell you and that's all the details that's needed for now." Sara explained roughly. She didn't seem very impressed with Lucho. She looked at the photo Lucho showed her and nodded.

"Give it to me, I'll take care of it."

Chapter Text

Juliana was staring out the window of the car. Her cousin was driving, and all her thoughts were caught up with Valentina, of course.

"You really need a hobby, you know." Sara remarked, pulling into the park. Juls really hated her cousin's directness sometimes, and this was one of them. She was happy to spend her days daydreaming.

She turned to give an unimpressed look at her cousin, thinking of a reply.

"You do, besides - what does your girlfriend think you do?"

"She's not my girlfriend, I'm just in love with her. Besides, I'm sure she has a boyfriend." Juls began with a sigh. She knew Valentina the whole of 6 days, and she was so far gone, it was embarrassing.

"So, she knows you're the head of organized crime here then?" Sara asked cheekily, waiting for Juls to get out of the car.

"Well, we haven't discussed that much." Juls deflected, wondering what she should do if her career ever came up in her conversations with Val.

"I'm sure you will soon. The hobby might help if you wanna lie." Sara suggested, before driving off. Sara had to go plan a kidnapping after all, one which was scheduled later that day. Juls pondered over her cousin's words while she walked into the park.

What can I say I do?


"Hey! How are you?", the sweet lady who sold clothes in the park beamed seeing Juliana coming towards her. Juls smiled as she leaned into her for a hug.

"I'm good. Anyone cause you any problems?" she asked, she was a very considerate person after all.

"Ah no no - after you dealt with those men, no one's bothered me since. I'm very thankful that you intervened!", the lady went on, and Juls smiled her soft smile as she sat down on a nearby ledge. She nodded hearing that her help had been of use, but she was too distracted to keep up a conversation with the lady. The sales lady, seeing Juls with her absent-minded smile, grinned seeing the young girl so obviously smitten.

"Someone looks like they're in love." she teased, and Juls bent her head shyly at that remark.

"Ah come on, don't be shy - it's a beautiful thing to be in love." the sales lady declared but Juls shook her head at that.

"Not when you're me, and with what I do - I can see it is going to get more complicated." Juls uttered, her smile fading.

"No - don't be like that. If there's anything I can do - I'll help you.", the lady pleaded, and Juls shook her head again.

"It's fine - there's nothing-", she stopped short. She noticed Valentina with her wide smile almost running towards her, and her heart skipped a beat.

“Juls!" was all Val managed before she pulled Juliana into a tight hug. Juls almost fell over with the force of the hug, not that she cared.

"And who is this?" Val asked looking at the sales lady - and Juls' mind went into over drive.

OH NO.

"She helps me with the clothes, she's such a sweet girl." the sales lady replied - and Juls was grateful that that was taken care of somehow. Technically, she's not lying.

"Ooooh, I didn't know that! So, you design clothes then?" Val asked, with those sparkling eyes of hers. Juliana nodded, quickly making up an answer.

"Uh yeah - A little bit, for now it's just the basics." Juls replied, quite delighted seeing the pride in Val's face.

"Well, I just spotted you from the car, and I thought we could have a cup of coffee - if it's not a problem." Val asked in a single breath, pleading with her eyes.

Juls couldn't quite rub the smitten look off her face, and she pretended to ask the sales lady for permission before Val dragged her off.

The sales lady looked at the two of them walking away hand-in-hand and chuckled. Valentina was dressed in a leather jacket, shirt and leather pants, while Juliana was in a plain yellow t-shirt and jeans.

Guess which one's the head of the cartel.


 

Juls was so besotted with Val - she was listening intently to all that Val was telling her in that sing-song voice of hers that she didn't notice where Val was dragging her. When they did get to the coffee shop, she snapped back to reality.

Juls immediately recognized the place, as one of the shops in her territory where she had settled quite a few disputes (not peacefully) and that the shop owner owed her a bit of money. Perlita, who was the shop owner's mother had begged Juls to help, which was why she did. Seeing the face of the waiter in the shop, she knew that they were going to think she was there to demand they pay up.

Oh God please let them just be normal.

The waiter immediately called out to the owner, who pretty much fell over in trying to get close to both girls, eager to help.

"Hello, hello - please come in - where would you like to be seated." the owner begged, and Juls was this close to strangling the guy, glaring hard at him. Don't make this awkward.

Valentina was surprised - but she didn't give it too much thought, much to Juls relief.

"It's fine, we'd just like two cups of coffee, please." Val replied, slightly amused at the treatment she was getting. Maybe a lot of people here recognize me. She didn't seem to realize that all the staring eyes were directed at Juls and not her.

Juls somehow managed a table for the two of them far away from all the people and was silently hoping nothing else would make this more awkward.

"So, this is a nice place." Val began, and Juls was back to almost drooling over her.

"Any place is nice with you." she replied, surprised herself at how cheesy she sounded.


 

The two of them were in their own bubble, laughing and talking, and Val completely ignoring her buzzing phone.

"Don't you want to reply them?" Juls asked, and Val actually used quite a bit of effort to pull her hands away from Juls', her face turning down sadly.

"It's my annoying boyfriend. Ugh! I should just break up with him."

Juls heart picked up at that. Maybe her day dreams were possible after all.

Perlita herself came out to serve the girls their coffee - a token of appreciation to Juls.

"He's annoying and dramatic - and can get quite violent at times." Val went on, and Juls was all ready to kill a man, before Perlita interrupted them.

"Oh, you've come to the right person! Juli here can deal with that kind of a man in a minute.", the old lady praised Juls, who almost choked on her coffee.

"What?" Val began with a laugh - and proceeded to laugh harder, while Juliana was doing her best to not give anything away.

"Miss, Miss I think you've got me confused with someone else." Juls quickly offered - getting up and leading Perlita away, beckoning to the shop owner. Perlita was surprised at what was happening, and Juls knew she had to make amends later.

Val was still laughing by the time Juls settled back.

"What?" Juls asked, smiling at Val, a note of surrender in her voice.

"She was talking as if you were a contract killer or something." Val laughed, and Juls had to force her laughter at that.

"She must have gotten confused. I mean - you look more like a hitwoman than me." Juls chuckled back and Val had that cute look of utter disbelief on her face.

"ME?", Val asked, pointing to herself.

"Yeah!"

"Noo."

Juls started laughing for real seeing Val's reaction - her heart so happy to be close to Val like this. The sweetness couldn't continue forever - as Val’s phone started buzzing without stopping.

"Well, I guess I have to leave now." Val sighed, getting up,  and Juls would not even let Val look at the bill while she paid for the coffee.

"You don't have to pay me back." Juls laughed, thinking how that money was going to come back to her anyway, while Val frowned in adorable annoyance.

"Breakfast - tomorrow. I'll text you." Val promised, the two of them walking towards her car. Juls nodded and they shared a long hug again before Val left. Juls was standing on the sidewalk a good five minutes till she remembered that she had to go back and apologize and explain things to Perlita.


 

Juls was sitting in the living room of her mansion, pouting and distracted. It was 10 am, and unless Val was talking about brunch - it was too late to get breakfast. It was even more strange that Val had not even replied to any of her texts.

Juls was trying to not think of Val with her boyfriend - whoever that was - and she was trying to not be an angsty mess, while staring at the pictures of Val she had on her phone.

"Hey!" Sara called out, and Juls immediately put down her phone seeing her cousin.

"You look like you're in a mood." Sara inquired in her casual tone.

"Val hasn't replied to any of my texts, and she wanted to meet me for breakfast.", Juls announced in a worried voice - while Sara just shrugged.

"Maybe she's just with her boyfriend.",  she taunted in reply, not bothering herself with Juls anxiety. Juls was silent at that remark.

"Anyhow – last night’s kidnapping went on fine, the girl's in the soundproof room as discussed." Sara reported, and Juls half nodded at that, still distracted with thoughts of Val.

What's happened to Val?

 

Chapter Text

 

Juliana was biting the tip of her nails, sitting in the car and not taking her eyes off from the Carvajal mansion. The house was guarded heavily - but she and one of her crew men managed to find a neat vantage point to keep a look out on the house. The sun glinted off her sunglasses as she scoured the place for any sight of Valentina.

"Are you sure this is not stalking?" her henchman inquired casually - but Juls was in no casual mood.

"Look, if she had told me she wanted space - I have no problem giving her all the space she needs." she explained, coming off extremely defensive.

"She said she wanted to meet me yesterday morning, and I haven't heard a word from her since." she continued, the concern apparent in her tone.

"The woman uploads an Instagram story every three hours, trust me this is suspicious."   Her henchman shrugged in reply, his eyes still on the house.

Juls was growing more and more worried; mostly because surveilling the Carvajal house was proving to be futile. She glanced at her watch and knew it was getting late. She clicked her tongue in defeat, turning to catch her reflection in the rear-view mirror. She silently winced remembering the evening she and Valentina spent picking out sunglasses in the park and shook the memory from her head.

If someone's harmed her, I'm gonna kill them.

"I'm going back - you stay here and keep me updated if anything happens." she ordered, and her aide nodded, stepping out of the car.


 

Juls strutted into her own huge house, her attention divided between worry for Valentina’s whereabouts and preparations for the next day. She pulled out her gun from the back of her pants and settled herself on the couch - deciding to do the one thing that normally calmed her down - cleaning her gun. She was quite engrossed when Inspector Montilla sauntered into the house, flanked on both sides by two police officers who were her own men. Juliana was in the least bothered by this, though she wasn't particularly pleased with the way Montilla just traipsed into the place.

"Inspector, to what do I owe this honour." she inquired in a flat tone, still cleaning her gun and not raising her glance to acknowledge Montilla, sunglasses still on her face.

"Ms. Valdes, always a pleasure." he answered, well aware that if he made a mistake, it would be his last. He was doing his best to not reveal his fear. He knew the minute he did - he would be dead.

"There have been some rather disturbing developments, and I was hoping to absolve you of any blame before dealing with them." he explained, eyeing Juliana carefully to see if she betrayed any guilt. Juliana carried on, indifferent to Montilla's prodding.

"What's the gun for?" he asked, trying to be more assertive, in the hopes that Juliana would at least look at him.

"Safety. Accidents happen, you know?" she replied, her voice monotonous and still not looking up. Montilla internally gulped at that, as he knew a showdown between her and the El Alacran cartel was long due.

"I get the feeling there's going to be a lot of accidents soon." he voiced out, fear running through his mind.

Juliana was growing tired of Montilla's questioning, and finally looked at the guy and breathed out in exasperation.

"What do you want Montilla." She turned back to her gun, continuing to clean it with extreme care.

"Valentina Carvajal has been reported missing."

Juls stopped at that, her heart sinking. She had suspected it but hearing it from Montilla made it real.

"What?"

Montilla nodded, "She hasn't been seen since day-before yesterday."

"Why am I hearing about this now?" Juliana questioned back, not looking up at Montilla, thinking her face might give away her anxiety. She was normally kept informed of this kind of affairs.

"The family filed a report an hour ago- it will be all over the media soon."

Juls decided that she had been still for long and began assembling her gun.

"Why have you come to me?" Juls asked, doing her best to make her tone flat again.

"Well, she was last seen with you at the park."

Juls looked up sharply at that, and Montilla could feel the fury in her eyes in spite of the sunglasses.

"What are you implying, Inspector." Juliana threatened, her voice low but fearsome, and Montilla knew he was on thin ice.

"That maybe there was a mistake."

At that a shot echoed through the house. Montilla jumped, yelping as he did. Juls was still sitting down, half wishing she had actually shot him.

"That was a mistake, Inspector." Juliana sneered getting up and approaching Montilla who stumbled backwards.

"And the next time you think you can just walk into my house and accuse me of hurting a dear friend - there will be no mistakes made."  she finished, nodding to the two men who dragged Montilla out of the house.

Now that she knew that Valentina was kidnapped, Juls' mind was in overdrive. She immediately raced up the stairs to get Sara, she knew she had to amp up the search for Valentina.


 

Sara was busy preparing the kidnapped girl's food in her room when she heard the shot from the floor below. She gingerly went to see what was going on, and seeing that it was just Inspector Montilla, went back to her work. She was just preparing a mix of sleeping pills with juice when she caught sight of a familiar face on the television.

She took a look at the banner on the TV which read "Valentina Carvajal, youngest daughter of the Carvajal family reported missing." 

What the!  Oh Juls is going to kill me!

As if on cue, she heard Juliana yell out for her as she marched into the room, waving her gun.

"Valentina has been kidnapped, I knew it." she barked, rage obvious in her manner.

Sara gulped seeing her, but she knew she had to tell Juliana.

"What!?" Juls demanded, seeing her cousin pale with dread.

"Do - do you remember that- that girl we kidnapped?" Sara stuttered, barely able to find her voice. Juliana however did not understand what that had to do with anything.

"What about that?"

"You- you - might want to put the gun down?" Sara gulped- and at that Juliana finally pieced it together. Juliana grabbed her cousin by her shirt and pinned her against the wall, gun still in her hand.

"YOU KIDNAPPED VALENTINA!?" Juliana snapped, her eyes widening in horror at the realization that it was she who had kidnapped Val after all.

"I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T KNOW WHO SHE WAS TILL NOW!" Sara pleaded, and Juls let go of her cousin as defeat filled her entire body. She gripped her head with both her hands, amazement and terror filling her entire being.

"She's fine, she's safe - and I swear I didn't know who she was when this happened." Sara offered, seeing Juls' anguished face. Juls however would not hear of it.

"Let her go. NOW!" Juliana ordered, her head hurting and gut twisting at how complicated things had become.

Sara nodded, "She's asleep now - but the minute she's awake I'll let her go. " Sara promised, trying to placate Juliana, who was pacing all over the room like a caged tiger.

"How did we let this happen!" Juliana ranted, consumed with disbelief and shock. Sara was collecting herself when Juls mindlessly grabbed the glass of juice that was on the table and gulped it down.

Sara was not looking at her cousin, and she shook her head, thinking that maybe the next kidnapping would have to be executed better.

"What do I do?" Juliana whispered, falling on to the bed. She had just understood that all her hopes of a romance with Valentina had just gone in a flash.

Sara's mind was trying to work, but it was not easy, so she sat down on the bed next to Juliana. Juls buried her head in her hands, and the two of them sat in silence for a long time.

"It doesn't have to be the end." Sara offered, struggling to comfort Juls, who suddenly seemed to be quite tired.

"How?" Juls slurred back defeated.

"I don't know - maybe you can say that it was I who kidnapped her and then you could pretend to rescue her or something." Sara pondered - but she realized that it was a far-fetched idea when she said it out loud.

Juliana however seemed interested in that proposal.

"That - that could be possible."

"No  - that - no it's too complicated!" Sara countered, surprised that Juliana was even considering the idea.

What's wrong with her?

Sara looked at her cousin in surprise, who was almost falling over to the floor - and that was when she noticed the empty glass of juice.

Ah shit.

"Juls, maybe you should sleep a bit." Sara immediately began, pulling her cousin from the edge of the bed and trying to get her to lie down. Juls was finding it difficult to fight off her cousin.

"What - no - I've got to go see Valentina." she resisted but finding her body quite weak.

Sara was patient, carefully pulling the gun from Juls' adamant hands and telling her that Val was asleep, and she could see her as soon as she was awake.

Juls was soon on the verge of deep sleep, sunglasses still on- and Sara was about to sneak out to check on Val when Juliana remarked out loud.

"Sara, if there's so much as a hair missing from Val's head, I will cut you into little pieces."

Sara nodded, knowing very well that her cousin would carry out her threat when she woke up.

I better go count her hair then.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Juliana was still feeling a little groggy when she came to. Her dreams had been quite vivid and mostly was of her and Valentina riding around the park on a tandem bicycle while soft music played on. Of course, the dreams mostly ended with her and Val bumping into Lucho and Montilla and with Val walking away. She rubbed her face trying to shove away the unpleasantness of the dreams , pushing the sunglasses she had on in an awkward angle. She didn't recollect much - and was trying to figure out why she had fallen asleep in Sara's room fully clothed.

"Oh good - you're awake." Sara began and Juls jerked at that.

"What!" she asked. Why is my heart so heavy?

"I just wanted to make sure what I was supposed to do about Valen-"

All the fuzziness in Juls head cleared at that and she sat up.

"YOU HAVEN'T LET HER GO YET?!" Juls exclaimed. Sara was quite sure Juls would be killing her in a while anyway.

"I thought you would like to see her, explain things to her." Sara replied - and Juls stopped at that.

I don't want to do that.

She looked at Sara with a look of defeat - she could not swallow the thought of seeing Valentina, but she also knew that she could not hide from her. She took off her sunglasses and buried her face in her hands.

"Juli."

"I know, I know - but - I don't see how I can explain everything to her." she muttered, her voice blurred by her palm.

"I could go apologize to her - and then you could talk to her." Sara offered in hopes to get back into Juls' good books - and Juls raised her head at that, considering the idea. She slowly nodded - it would make the shock for Val a little less severe that way.

"Okay. I'll freshen up a bit and you go talk to her." Juls agreed, slowly getting up from the bed.

"Just to clarify - how much should I tell her?" Sara asked, she had been going over how to talk to Val for the past 8 hours and she was still stumped.

Juls shook her head at that.

"I don't care anymore Sara. Just get her back to her family safely." Juls sadly groaned - walking out of the room.

"Yes - but HOW!?" Sara questioned anxiously, but Juls was in no mood to reply.

Well, fuck.


 

Sara was scratching her head, standing outside the room. How am I supposed to do this? She knew the more she delayed - the more little pieces Juls was going to cut her into. Oh God I'm terrified. It was amusing, considering that Sara had killed men without a second thought - but was pretty much shaking at the thought of meeting this woman. Juls is going to kill me anyway.

Shaking her head vigorously - she decided that she was never going to be ready for this. She gingerly stepped into the room - seeing Val sitting up on the bed and Val shrunk back at the sight of her. Sara immediately raised both her hands in an act to demonstrate that she had come in peace, and immediately began.

"Valen- Ms. Carvajal - I am so so sorry this happened." Sara explained, surprised at how frantic she sounded.

Seeing that Val was still - she knew she had to do something to make Val trust her. She pulled out her gun from her jeans and making sure Val was looking at her - slowly set it down in front of her.

Val was quite confused at this - her head was clear from the deep sleep she had - but she could not for the life of her understand what was going on.

Sara's knees were shaking as the thought that Juls was definitely going to kill her strongly gripped her mind. She approached Valentina - who was sitting on the bed motionless, struggling to understand what was going on.

"I'm so so sorry Ms. Carvajal - this has been a really unfortunate incident. It's the system's fault - we really should modify our operating procedure - get the names and details first and then continue with the kidnapping - "

"WHAT?"

Sara clutched her head at that - drawing a deep breath. Oh - I have to explain THAT part first.

"Oh - um. Okay. Uhh." Sara gulped, her terror growing more and more seeing Val's indignant face. I am so dead. If Juls didn't kill her now - Valentina most certainly was.

"So - we were asked to kidnap you; and my boss did not know it was you that I was kidnapping." Sara explained, while the look of surprise and disbelief on Val’s face only grew.

"I swear if my boss had known it was you, we would not have gone on with it." Sara pleaded, her life depending on it. Val bit her lower lip - looking at this anguished woman hoping to understand something.

"And then we found out it was you I kidnapped," Sara rambled on breathlessly, quite forgetting herself. "And now I have to let you go before I'm cut into little pieces."

Valentina was thankfully clear headed and managed to piece together little bit of the rambling she heard, not that it  reduced her incredulity at the whole scenario.

"Who asked to kidnap me?!" she asked, trying to understand why Sara looked a little familiar.

"Oh. Can I tell you that? I don't think I should - I'm going to die anyway but no - I don't think I should tell you that." Sara shook her head frantically, hoping that she had handled this as decently as she could.

"Do I know you?" Valentina squinted at Sara, sure she had seen her before.

"Me? I don't think you would know me!" Sara replied back - surprised at that question.

"Didn't you study at the college -?" Valentina prodded back - quickly gaining confidence.

"I went to college? When did I- OH. " Sara abruptly stopped. Oh fuck she knows that.

Sara was already sweating profusely - and seeing that Val probably remembered her from a previous assignment did not help her nerves.

"Oh yeah - I - yeah - the college. Studied yes - I , I studied - uh - yeah - the - um, college." Sara blabbered, utterly unprepared to deal with this.

Valentina nodded slowly - hoping Sara would continue, but Sara did not want to give away anything more than she had to.

"You studied -" Val began, in a bid to get Sara to go on - and Sara was trying to think calmly and failing very badly.

"Criminal-" Valentina went on, as if prompting Sara.

"Criminal psychology - yes yes - I studied - that. Yeah." Sara nodded vigorously, anxious to get Val to stop prodding.

"-Journalism?" Valentina finished and Sara stopped to think a minute.

"Was it journalism? I don't know - I was not good at college - which is why I'm here kidnapping the wrong people." Sara quickly dismissed scratching her head, half wishing Juls would come soon. Death was surely easier than this.

"Wasn't that the class where the Professor was missing for two weeks before being found dead?" Valentina asked, seeing she was quite close to breaking through to her.

Sara gave up the act of playing innocent with a heavy sigh, seeing that Val already seemed to know.

"A few girls came to us and told us that the Professor was harassing them. We were only planning on scaring him a bit - but then the rival cartels warned us not to interfere." Sara explained, a small wave of calmness coming over her.

"My boss does not like being told what to do - but I had to first scope out the Professor a bit - which was why I had to pretend to be a student or whatever. Once we knew what he was doing with the girls there was no doubt about what to do with him." Sara explained.

"Did he hurt you? We can dig him up and kill him again if he did!" Sara perked at that thought - and Val shook her head.

"No, No -  but I knew what was going on." Valentina explained - a look of satisfaction on her face thinking of the Professor dead for the horrors he did.

"So - your boss is El Caballero then?" Val asked - wonder and immense respect filling her eyes. Sara began laughing at that.

"Oh, that's not a name my boss calls herself - it was a newspaper that came up with that - " Sara stopped, remembering.

"It was your newspaper." Sara realized, looking at Val. Val nodded in reply, biting her lower lip, also realizing that the head of this crime syndicate was actually a woman.

"I wrote the article." Val explained, and there was a knock on the door. Sara immediately stood up - quickly wrapping things up.

" There were quite a few things wrong about that article." Sara rushed, "Anyhow you're going to meet El Caballero herself now. Again - a million apologies for this mistake, it was totally my fault, I will just get you something to eat and once you're done with my boss, I'll drop you at your house safe and sound." Sara promised, half sprinting out of the room - quite forgetting that she left her gun on Val's bed.

Sara  almost knocked over Juls as she ran out of the room, relieved that half her torment was over. Juls looked like a wounded pup as she approached Val's room - and was doing her best to soothe her broken heart.

"She knows you're El Caballero." Sara clarified, running down the hallway.

"WHAT?" Juliana exclaimed. The word had become her catchphrase now.

"I didn't tell her - she found out." Sara yelled back, running out of Juls’ sight.

Juls sighed as she looked at the doorway.

Here goes nothing.


 

The minute Valentina saw Juliana enter the room - well shocked was an understatement. She got up from the bed - and Juls stood a good distance from the foot of the bed, defeated and sad.

Valentina stared at Juls in silence - putting together all that she just learnt with the fact that here was the sweetest girl she ever met.

"Val , I - ", Juls hesitated and Val waved her off with a slight gesture of her hand. Juls stopped talking at that, dread filling her heart.

Val was putting everything together - she thought of the girl who was terrified that her boss would kill her - and here was her boss - the head of a crime syndicate, a vigilante in a weird fashion and her darling Juls.

She saw Juls was genuinely embarrassed and gloomy about this - but Val decided that she should test her anyway.

"Is this why you became friends with me Juls?" Val asked, and at that Juls’ heart dropped to the floor.

"Val - NO! Please, please - I'm so sorry about all this - but please please don't think that Val. Oh God please don't." Juls begged, quite lost.

Val could see the sincerity in Juls pleading - and her heart was starting to grow more and more confident. She picked up the gun that Sara had left on her bed and aimed it straight at Juls - who did not even flinch at that.

"I could just kill you and walk out of here." Val tried, not exactly sure where she was going with this.

Juliana did not even try to defend herself, she was miserable that things had come to this.

"It's OK Val, I feel dead anyway." she sighed, looking straight at Val.

Val's heart lifted at that, and seeing that the head of one of the most feared cartels was this upset having mistakenly kidnapped her, realized that all that happened - bizarre as it was - must be true.

Val did not know what to do next - she had a gun pointed at the woman she was strongly fond of, and all that she had learnt in the last half hour had only made her fall in love with this woman more - but still she had a gun pointed at her.

Val was struggling to do something that would resolve this scene, and for some reason - she decided this would be the best way to play it out.

"Close your eyes - I don't want you to look at me when I kill you." Val ordered, and Juls with her puppy dog face took one last yearning look at Val and closed her eyes.  That was pretty much when Val lost her heart. She slowly moved towards Juls - all the while taking in the anguish and pain on her face. Once she was close to her, she pushed the muzzle of the gun against Juls' chest - and Val could hear her shallow breathing. Val was slightly trembling herself as she stood as close to Juls as she could. Val slowly moved the gun to Jul's chin, and gently tipped her head to raise Juls face towards her. She dragged the muzzle of the gun slowly under Jul's jaw.

Jul's had no idea what was going on and after a few tense seconds, she felt Val's lips gently press against hers - and Juls almost fell to the ground in utter relief, while Val gripped her waist tightly.

Juls broke the kiss and buried her head in Val's neck - softly muttering her apologies, and Val hugged her tight, holding the gun behind Jul's back - taking in all that had happened.

It was barely thirty seconds that the two of them spent in each other's embrace when Sara rushed back into the room again.

Seeing the two of them quickly break the hug, relief washed over her.

"Oh thank God, you're not going to kill me then." Sara exclaimed in relief, while Juls did her best to return back to her usual intimidating self.

"What is it Sara." she snapped, half annoyed that she and Val were interrupted.

"Oh - yes - We can't let her go now." Sara explained, pointing towards Valentina who was still absent mindedly holding on to the gun.

"Why not?!" Juls retorted back, her annoyance rising.

"I just got this news from our sources - Alacran is claiming he kidnapped her." Sara explained pointing at Val - and all Juls could do was hear that and repeat her quintessential catch phrase.

"What?!"

 

Chapter Text

 Valentina, Juliana and Sara were all sitting on the edge of the bed, in that order. Val sat with both her hands over her mouth, getting over the shock of learning that El Alacrán was claiming he kidnapped her. Juliana was sitting with her forehead buried in her hand and pressing her closed eyes against her palm, quite tired at all these developments. Sara was sitting with her hands over her ears, trying to concentrate on making sense on all that had unfolded - and failing quite a bit.

The trio sat in silence for a long time in this fashion, with Sara softly talking to herself to understand what was going on, till she grew too confused to think.

"Ok - let me just try to understand this."

Juliana took a deep breath but didn't shift.

"I kidnapped her," Sara began, gesturing with her hands, pointing to herself.

"You're in love with her." she went on, pointing at Juliana, who sat up hearing that and glared at her cousin. Sara however was too oblivious to notice.

"And now El Alacrán is after her." Sara ended. Juliana slightly scrunched her face in annoyance, but she couldn't exactly blame Sara and gave up.

"Yeah. That's about it.", she muttered in reply.

"Uh huh. Uh huh." Sara agreed, though she was still not entirely convinced about what she said herself.

"Why did I kidnap her?" Sara asked out loud, and Juliana was about to push her cousin off the bed to shut her up.

"Oh yeah- because tha-"

"Because you're an idiot." Juliana cut in, thinking her cousin was going to reveal who actually asked her to kidnap Val. She did not know why - but she felt embarrassed at telling Val that it was her boyfriend that asked to kidnap her and did not at all want to be the person telling her that. She was most certainly going to kill Lucho, but she definitely did not want Val knowing about that.

"Mm hmm." Sara nodded.

"Why are you in love with her?" Sara asked again - and Juliana turned to look at her cousin in utter exasperation.

"Right - because you're an idiot." Sara retorted, glad to get back at Juls for that. But there was still one more question she had.

"Why is Alacrán after her?"

At that - both Juls and Sara slowly turned their heads to Val, who till then had not paid any attention to the conversation.

"It's because I threatened him." she replied absent-mindedly. Sara silently threw her hands up.

"Oh good, she's an idiot too." Sara sneered and Juliana snapped.

"Sara!"

"I'm sorry -it's just confusing. It's like that Telenovela where the souls kept transmigrating or whatever." Sara replied defensively, but Juliana had already turned back to Val, trying to understand why Val would do such a thing.

"Why did you threaten him?"

Val sat up and looked at Juls, her shoulders hunched and her demeanor anxious.

"I was looking into my dad's company accounts for an article - and I found a lot of money that seemed to come from nowhere. When I asked my sister Eva about it, she yelled at me and told me to stop looking into it. When I did finally track down the money - I realized that it was coming from him and that he was using the company to launder money. "

"So, you just went and threatened one of the most dangerous men in the city?" Sara broke out in disbelief. Val just shrugged at that.

"I'm not afraid of him."

Sara's jaw dropped to the floor hearing that, quite dumbfounded by the thought of Valentina threatening someone like El Alacrán.

"It took me 5 minutes to kidnap you!" Sara exclaimed in wonder and horror.

"Sara." Juliana breathed out, trying to get her cousin to stop rambling. Sara, however got up and still went on.

"You should be afraid of him! If we hadn't kidnapped you and if he had gotten hold of you - God knows what he would have done!" Sara ranted, stepping out of the room - she had just got a message that someone was at the front gate.

Valentina sobered up hearing that, realizing that she was in a much bigger mess than she had initially thought. Juliana was still sitting next to her; Sara's gun was in her lap - from when she was last holding it.

"I'm sorry." Valentina breathed out, the solemnity of the situation hitting her hard. Juls was quick to react to that.

"Val - you have nothing to apologize for." Juls began, looking at Val earnestly. Val was however too distraught to say anything.

"Val - look at me." Juliana begged and Val reluctantly looked at her.

"We're going to deal with this, okay?" Juliana assured her, and Val slowly nodded gratefully. She took Juls hand to reassure herself, and as gently as she could - threaded her fingers with Juliana's.

"I guess if I had known who you were before - I could have done better than threatening El Alacrán and getting myself in this situation." Valentina thought out loud, and Juliana shook her head, gently squeezing Val's hand.

"Val, trust me - if he's doing something as stupid as claiming to have kidnapped you when he hasn't - it must be because he feels very threatened." Juliana convinced her, and Valentina sighed and leaned her head to rest against Juliana's shoulder. Juliana sat still, her mind thinking fast about what to do next.

A few minutes later, Sara trooped back into the room again.

"It's Montilla."

Juliana groaned.  "Why is that guy obsessed with me!" she scowled, the last thing she wanted to do was talk to Montilla. Sara shrugged.

"Do you want me to deal with him?" she offered, and Juliana considered it for a second before nodding.

"Yeah, okay."

Sara was just about to turn to leave the room, when Juliana jumped up to stop her, startling Val with a jerk as she did.

"WAIT NO, I'll deal with him." Juliana stopped her cousin, who was surprised.

"What? Why?!" Sara asked indignantly.

"Because the last time we had to deal with a guy you killed him!" Juliana countered, she definitely did not want Montilla dead, at least not yet.

"Wha-? That's not fair!" Sara whined, but Juliana was firm in her decision.

"Give me your gun." she ordered, and her cousin sulked as she tried to take out her gun, only to remember she didn't have it.

"What the- where did I?" she muttered to herself, frantically looking for the gun on her person, and her eyes caught sight of the gun on Val's lap - much to her surprise.

"Why does she have my gun?" she said in amazement. Juliana turned to see that Val did in fact have her gun.

"Oh good, Val - could you make sure she doesn't do anything stupid while I'm gone?" Juliana requested, nodding at the gun. Valentina was a little surprised - but not as surprised as Sara.

"WHAT! You're seriously going to leave me like this!"

Juliana shrugged as she went out of the room. "You did kidnap her, I think she deserves some revenge."

Sara grunted in discontent as she leaned back against the wall, looking at Valentina grumpily.

Juliana walked out of the room, considering if she should get her gun before going to meet Montilla, but decided against it.

I might kill him if I did.


 

Sara was standing against the wall with her arms folded, scowling at the floor. Valentina was sitting on the bed lost in thought. She looked at Sara and she realized that she could ask her the one question that would not stop bothering her.

"Who asked to kidnap me?" Valentina asked and Sara looked up. Sara shook her head and thought about it.

"I think you can ask Juliana that instead." she replied, and at that Valentina picked up the gun and aimed it at Sara. Sara's eye's widened and she gulped.

Oh no.

"I'm going to ask you again, tell me who asked to kidnap me." she interrogated, getting up and approaching Sara.

Sara was slightly terrified at having her own gun aimed at her, but she wasn't very fazed. She shook her head again.

"I'd rather you kill me than Juliana.", she replied.

Valentina stepped closer and closer to Sara, her face stern and hard. Sara was beginning to sweat at the forehead.

"I can see how you threatened Alacrán now." she rambled - dread slowly gripping her. Valentina's face betrayed no mercy and her gaze was fixed and Sara was backing up against the wall that did not budge.

"I'm going to ask you one more time." Valentina repeated and Sara knew she was done for. She could barely breathe as Val took another step closer and she gulped again.

"I'm not going to tell you." Sara iterated, not sure how long her resolve would hold. Seeing Val's no non-sense face made her knees shake, and Sara could see that Valentina was not going to take no for an answer. Another step and Valentina would most certainly be too close to ignore.

Dear God, she's going to kill me.

Not thinking clearly - Sara decided she could not take the tension anymore.

"Or I could run." she squeaked, ducking out of the gun's range and running out of the room, half slipping from sheer terror. Valentina had not thought of that and was slow to react but then ran out of the room after Sara.


 

Juliana was not even listening to Montilla when she looked up and saw Sara sprinting along the upstairs corridor. She was extremely amazed at this sight, and even more amazed when she saw Valentina chasing after her cousin with the gun aimed at her.

Juliana was standing so that she could clearly see both Val and Sara, but Montilla had his back to them. Horrified that one of them would do something to give away that they were right behind - she coughed loudly, and her loud cough only made her cough further.

Montilla stopped at that, as did Sara and Valentina, who stopped still -  barely breathing.

"Sorry, caught a bit of a cough." Juliana apologized loud enough to make sure both Sara and Valentina heard her. Montilla was even more surprised that Juliana apologized to him. He was clearly touched by this, but Juliana was half trying to understand what was going on behind and half trying to make sure her face did not give anything away.

"As I was saying," Montilla went on, "I know El Alacrán has done a lot to piss you off now - the money, the whole debacle with the Professor, attacking your mother and now kidnapping your good friend." he explained, still nervous that Juliana would shoot at him or something. Juliana however was trying to mask her amazement and confusion to Montilla by biting her lower lip. She nodded vigorously at all that Montilla was saying - folding her arms and internally praying that nothing would happen to make Montilla turn around.

"Please do not start a war over this. Please - just wait till we rescue Ms. Carvajal." Montilla pleaded and Juliana's attention returned back to the conversation, still nodding.

"I don't think he has her though." Juliana offered, her eyes narrowing at Montilla - wondering if she should be saying what she was saying.

"What?"

"I think El Alacrán doesn't actually have Valentina." Juliana nodded, trying to understand why she was telling Montilla this.

"What makes you say that?" Montilla asked, intrigued by this input.

Well she's right behind you.

"Just a feeling." Juliana smiled awkwardly and Montilla was baffled.

"Why would El Alacrán claim to have her if he doesn't? That's a stupid thing to do." he replied in surprise and Juliana could not stop nodding her head at all, though she had no good reply to that.

"That is a stupid thing to do." Juliana agreed, still nodding her head. She looked up and saw that Sara was close to running again and decided that it was time Montilla left.

"I have other things to do Inspector- I appreciate you coming here but next time do call." she rushed, leading Montilla to the door, but Montilla couldn't shake the idea Juliana had given him.

"Even if he didn't have her - he will probably get her soon." he reasoned out and Juliana still nodded.

"Just my opinion," Juliana explained, close to pushing Montilla out the door.

"Why did - "

"I'm a bit busy at the moment Montilla" Juliana remarked, cutting him short. "But when I'm done, I'll start a war with Alacrán - don't worry." Juliana assured him and shoved him into the hands of one of her men who was outside the door.

"What – no, I said -"

"Bye Montilla!" Juliana yelled, shutting the door and running up the stairs to get in the middle of Val and Sara.

"Val?" Juliana asked, shielding Sara as best as she could, but mostly focused on getting the gun out of Val's hands.

"What's the matter?"

Valentina was furious, her eyes were red with holding back her anger and Juliana was thinking fast on how to act.

"You can still kill her, just tell me why." Juliana promised and Sara snapped hearing that.

"HEY!"

"Who asked to kidnap me Juls?" Valentina asked and Juliana's shoulders slumped hearing that.

She saw Valentina looking heart broken, but she still could not bring herself to tell Valentina.

"Just tell her." Sara begged, anxious herself.

"NO." Juliana pronounced, turning back to look at her cousin a second before looking back to Val.

"Val, you have to trust me - it's not my place to tell you. Once we're done dealing with this, I'm going to kill the person that asked me to do this - but I cannot tell you who it was. Believe me Val, it is for your own good." Juliana pleaded. Seeing Val's resolve slowly crumble, she approached Val and grabbed the gun from her hand and Val fell into Jul's body. Juliana hugged Val tight, finally breathing freely after a long time.

"I'm fine - by the way." Sara declared, annoyed that no one was bothered about her. With the hand she was holding the gun, Juliana pointed backwards without turning to look at her cousin or breaking the hug with Val and Sara jumped out of the way.

"I'll see myself out." Sara squeaked, running down the stairs, and Juliana shoved the gun down the back of her pants before hugging Valentina completely.

"I'm starving." Juliana announced, noticing it for the first time. Valentina nodded as well.

"Let's get that breakfast you owe me." Juliana joked and Val looked up and softly smiled at Juls.

 

Chapter Text

 

Valentina and Juliana were sitting right next to each other at one end of the dining table, both of them eating in silence and lost in their own thoughts. Both of them were very hungry - but could not find it in themselves to eat. Juls was playing with her food with a fork, slumped back in her chair and thinking about all the recent events. Val was sitting in her typical fashion - one long leg bent and foot resting on the seat of the chair and her other leg outstretched. She was toying with a piece of toast, too distracted to actually eat.

The two were like this for a while, not eating at all - when a random thought came to Juliana.

"How did you find out I'm El Caballero?" she turned to ask Val, who looked back at her with her characteristic face of playfulness and a cheeky expression.

"Who do you think gave you the name?" Val answered playfully, taking a bite of her toast and her gaze not leaving Juliana's face.

"What?" was all Juls could respond, sitting up in interest. Val laughed seeing Jul's amazement, and continued.

"I wrote that article." she admitted, her smile becoming too wide to contain. Juls laughed out loud hearing that.

"Really?!"

"Yes, yes - But I'm sorry - I didn't know it was a woman who was behind everything." Valentina conceded, and Juls waved her off.

"No no - Val - it was perfect. No one suspected me at all!" she laughed, and Valentina grinned in reply, pressing her fingers against her face, doing her best to hide her glee and control herself.

"You should be careful next time though." Juliana gently teased - her own smile growing wide seeing Val so playful. Val bit her lip and could not stop herself as she pressed her hand to Jul's face, softly caressing her cheek with her thumb.

"I might call you Mi Caballero by mistake. " she softly replied, and Juls heart was so full at that.

"Ah Uhm." Sara cleared her throat loudly - she was sitting at the other end of the table and pretty much stabbing at her food, glaring at the two smitten girls in annoyance.

"Are you serious? Right in front of my salad? And when we don't know what to do about Alacrán?" she grumbled, and Juliana became serious at once, and Val was keen to listen to the upcoming plan as well.

"We're going to attack Alacrán now - there's no question about that; he's scared and stupid and it's the best time to get him." Juliana reasoned out and Sara grinned hearing her cousin's intentions.

"So, we attack soon then?" Sara replied, eager to get back to business. Juls shook her head.

"But to attack him at his place is too much of a fight. I was thinking of an ambush." Juliana said, and Sara nodded in agreement - and Val silently agreed with this idea as well.

"I'm not sure how to draw him out though." Juls stated, still thinking of schemes to fight Alacrán. Sara saw Juls lost in trying to figure out a plan and Val staring at Juls intently and an idea struck her.

"I've an idea." she offered, her eyes shining and Juls looked up at Sara intently - keen to hear more.

Sara looked at Val with glee and she was almost bursting with her idea. It was perfect.

"Live. Bait.", was all she could manage - and Juls had to calculate a bit mentally to understand what her cousin was suggesting. She saw Sara looking at Val and quickly figured it out.

"NO!" was her resounding response and Sara got up and moved to a seat closer to the two women, ready to defend her proposal.

"It's perfect! You said it yourself - Alacrán is scared and stupid, he's going to come after her - " Sara debated with her cousin, who was absolutely against this plan.

"Sara - could we please not use a plan that's from the Lion King?" Juls snarked at her cousin.

"Why not - it worked for Simba." Sara jibed back and Juls was close to strangling her cousin herself.

"It's too dangerous - she could get hurt or - " Juls argued, and Val realized that it was her they were discussing, though she was a little lost.

"We'll be there to protect her of course! Juli we've waited forever for something like this to strike Alacrán and - "

"No - I won't let her." Juls pronounced and Sara scoffed at that.

"At least let her decide for herself." Sara retorted - pointing at Val. Val sat up and gently patted Juls arm, as if to get Juls to take a step back.

"Yeah Juls, I'll decide - but I don't understand what the plan is." Val said, and Juls was so surprised at this that she actually stopped talking. Sara seeing her cousin dumbfounded, was quick to explain the idea to Val. She was still scared of Valentina since the threatening at gun-point a while back - but she could see that if she convinced Val - convincing Juls would not be a problem.

"El Alacrán is looking for you - if we agree to offer you to him on our terms; we could just about ambush him. He's desperate and has to save face now, he is most certainly going to agree to this." Val was quite taken by this idea.

"That is a good idea, but why would Alacrán agree to meet Juls if they're from rival cartels?" Valentina questioned and Sara slumped back considering that. It looked like the idea was going to be dropped and Juls was slightly relieved till Valentina sat up again, having thought of a solution.

"I know - you could pretend to betray Juls and join sides with him - and offer me as a token of confidence." Valentina proposed - pointing at Sara, and Juls looked at Val in wide-eyed disbelief. Sara however immediately perked up at that idea.

"Wha-" was all Juls could get in, and Sara jumped at the proposition.

"YES! THAT IS A BRILLIANT PLAN! YOU'RE A GENIUS!" Sara exclaimed and Val nodded vigorously with a wide grin. Sara then quickly ran out of the room - as if to immediately set the plan in action - before Juls could actually say anything.

"Sara - I DIDN'T AGREE TO THIS!" Juls yelled after her cousin, horror gripping her as she realized she could not stop her cousin now. Valentina was pleased with herself as she sat back in her chair. Juliana on the other hand was feeling overwhelmed a little.

"Val - why did you tell her that!?" Juls asked, mouth agape with dread and disbelief.

"It's a good plan Juls - " Val responded but Juliana cut her short.

"It's too dangerous for you!" she tersely explained, but Val did not see anything wrong with that.

"Juls - the whole city is dangerous for me till we deal with El Alacrán. Besides we both want him gone - and this way we're both dealing with it." Valentina clarified. Juliana was distraught but she knew she had to convince Valentina otherwise.

"Val - this isn't one of your investigations. This plan puts you in the middle of a very risky situation where things can go sideways very easily - this is not a pretty profession Val - please don't do this." Juliana begged, her desperation more apparent with every word, her fingers on her mouth and half biting her nails. Val saw Juls' distress, but she could also see that there was no other way to deal with the scenario.

"Do you know why I named you El Caballero?" Valentina quietly asked, trying to get Juls to calm down. She took Juls hands and held them both tightly in her own.

"What? No.", Juliana replied - not sure what that had to do with anything.

"For months I knew what the Professor was doing to those girls. I went to every police official about it. No one did a thing." Valentina described sincerely - looking into Juls' eyes.

"I couldn't publish articles about it in MY OWN newspaper - because the Professor had too many important connections apparently. And I was close to giving up. And then I heard he was kidnapped, and I thought - maybe, maybe he would finally pay for the horrible things he did. And when I heard he was dead - it was such a relief." Valentina said earnestly and Juls was slowly calming down.

"I know what you do isn't a pretty profession Juls - but I also know it's something someone has to do, I understand that. And if it helps people out - I don't mind being a part of it."

Juls' shoulders fell in defeat, seeing that she could not talk Valentina out of this outrageous plan.

"Besides, you'll be there, and I know you won't let anything happen to me." Valentina finished, gently pressing her forehead against Juliana's. Juls sighed heavily, but she was still a bit agitated internally.


 

Juls was staring blank out into space - worried about what was to come. Sara bustled into the room - she had set up everything for the meeting and was raring to go. Val was taking a shower and they were almost ready.

"Meeting with Alacrán at 4." she chirped, and Juls shook her head.

"That's too soon."

"I've got everything set up - don't worry. In fact - here." Sara handed Juls her bullet proof vest which she had been carrying - and Juls looked at her cousin in surprise.

"It's for her." Sara mentioned with a slight shrug.

"What about - " Juls questioned, and her cousin interrupted her.

"I think she needs it more than me." Sara waved off, and Juls' jaw dropped in shock.

"Sara - you're not going out there without a jacket!" she panicked, and Sara looked back at her cousin as if she were stupid.

"I'm not - I'll just use my old one from the car." Sara explained and Juliana breathed out in relief.

"Wow - I'm not that dramatic. But I would die before I let anything happen to her. " Sara assured her cousin, and Juls looked at her cousin with a faint smile. She did not want anything happening to either her cousin or Val, but she also felt unprepared for this sudden attack.

"Are you ready for this?" Sara inquired, seeing her cousin looking restless. Juliana shook her head no and ran her fingers through her hair in agitation. Sara saw Valentina enter the room, dressed in the same leather clothes that she was wearing when she kidnapped her.

"Looks like your girlfriend is ready." Sara elbowed her cousin and Juliana turned back to see Val all set to go. Valentina joined the duo and took a look at them, sliding her hands into her back pockets.

"Let's do this?" she asked both of them. Sara was beaming with pride, and Juls could see that this plan was going ahead - with or without her.

She took in a deep breath and nodded to assure herself.

Let's do this.

 

Chapter Text

 

Juliana and Valentina were sitting in the back of a black Range Rover, Sara was riding shotgun and one of Jul's men was driving. There was another Range Rover with four more of Juls'  henchmen tailing their car,  and everyone was armed to the teeth -except Val.

"Where are we meeting Alacrán?" Juls questioned, tone intensely business like.

"South  of the city - far from the crowds - but close enough for you to hide." Sara explained, pointing on her phone at an old building where Juls was supposed to stake out Alacrán. Juls was thinking more and more calmly - and having Val at her side helped.

"How many men are you taking?"

"Alacrán agreed on two. So, four." Sara mentioned, taking the phone the driver handed to her. He was the one who had contacted Alacrán and set up the meeting spot.

"Firepower?"

"I've got the Barrett all ready for you in the trunk, I've also got my Glock and Magnum." Sara ratted off - she and Juls had planned and attack of this scale for a long time.

"Can I have a gun?" Valentina asked, sitting up eagerly.

"NO!", Both Sara and Juls replied simultaneously to that and Valentina slumped back on the seat.

"Is that Alacrán?!" Sara exclaimed, looking at his WhatsApp picture.

"What?", Juliana drawled out in her quintessential fashion, surprised at her cousin.

"He looks hot! All the pictures on the TV make him look like a rogue - he looks good when he's smiling!" Sara gushed, and Juliana looked at Val with a worried but bemused look.

"Sara."

"Hmm?"

"Please don't flirt with El Alacrán." Juliana sincerely directed, and her cousin feigned exasperation in response.

"I'm not making any promises." Sara retorted and Juls knew this was just her cousin being her goofy self,  and she looked at Val who was quite amused at everything. The two girls tried their best to not laugh, and then promptly burst out into laughter looking at each other.  Sara looked back at the two so obviously in love and shook her head. Her phone rang - and seeing it was Lucho she quickly cut the call.

One crisis at a time.

Val tenderly offered her hand to Juls, who immediately took it and held it tight, fingers interlinked. Val stared at Juls with such love and longing that Juls couldn't stop smiling.

"Come on now, Romeo." Sara cut in as the car pulled over, breaking the little bubble that the two were blissfully lost in. Juls would have glared at her cousin, but there were other things to focus on. 


 

 

Juls was instructing Val on how to get away, alternate plans if things went sideways while Val was struggling to get her leather jacket to fit over the bullet proof vest. Juls was quick to remove her own denim vest and she handed it to Val, who was about to refuse it.

"Val you have to wear something so Alacrán doesn't see it." she reasoned, and Val reluctantly took the jacket from her.

She slowly pulled the jacket over her arms; all the while looking at Juls with a longing gaze. She then took her own leather jacket and gave it to Juliana.

"Val - it's fine I don't need one."

"No - NO - you have to take it." Val argued, stubborn as ever.

"Val - " Juls breathed out, stopping to sigh.

"It'll keep you safe." Val pleaded and Juls didn't need to hear anymore.


 

Sara was busy getting all the guns ready and choosing her sidekicks when she caught sight of Val hugging Juls tight and resting her head on Juls' shoulder . It was an adorable sight and the two looked like a mixed-match pair - but she knew that Juliana and Valentina would probably spend the whole day comforting each other; and seeing as they were already late decided to hurry things on.

"Juli  - we gotta go." she softly reminded Juls. Val gently broke away from Juls, sliding her hand away. Sara nodded at her cousin before rushing to the car she was going to be taking. She took one last look at her cousin and smiled to assure her that things were going to be okay.

Juls got into her own car, she had only one of her men with her for a lookout. Taking a deep breath, she wore her sunglasses and waited for the other car to drive away before driving off in a different direction. 


Sara was still sitting shotgun, and she called up Juls on her secure phone - this way the two could keep in contact. She chucked her other phone on the dashboard, so that Lucho couldn't bother her. She looked at Val who was unnaturally quiet and set the phone on speaker.

"Everything okay?" Juls voice came over the phone, and Sara nodded.

"Yes, everything is going to plan. Alacrán still isn't here, everything set up on your side?"

"Almost, I can see you - don't go any further. Is Val okay?". Sara turned to look at Valentina, who was calm but serious.

"I think she's mentally writing her next article about you already." Sara joked and Val smiled a little. Juls huffed at that, still busy setting up her sniper rifle. Soon enough, a jeep appeared - Alacrán with three men. Sara stiffened up and motioned to her flunky who was driving to advance a bit. Val suddenly placed her hand on Sara's shoulder, almost causing her to jump.

"Where's your bulletproof vest?" she asked, and Sara's eyes widened.

OH shit.

"I left it in the other car." Sara breathed out, horrified and looked at Val in panic. Val's jaw dropped in disbelief.

"We gotta turn back-" Valentina began but Sara cut her short.

"No! If we do Alacrán's going to smell a rat-"

"What's going on?" Juls voice echoed through the speaker and Sara was quick to react.

"Nothing - we're just approaching Alacrán."

"Please, please don't tell her - she'll kill me if she found out." Sara whispered to Val, so that Juls couldn't hear. Valentina glared in anger at Sara whose heart was pretty much racing.

"Could you not glare at me - it's supposed to look like I've kidnapped you." Sara pleaded in a small voice - and Val breathed out in exasperation. Sara took the phone off speaker and shoved it in her front pocket - so that Juls could still hear everything that was going on.

As soon as they were close enough, everyone stepped out of their cars and Sara made a show of dragging Val to the front. She was flanked by her henchmen on both sides, while Val looked the least intimidated, fully confident that this was going to be over soon. She stood next to Sara, hands behind her back as if bound - gulping as she remembered that Sara didn't have a vest on her.

Come on Juls.

Alacrán approached the gang with his three men, the very air of his presence revolting. He regarded the lot with a curious eye then approached Sara and Valentina.

"Why exactly are you betraying your own blood?", Alacrán asked, standing close to Sara, almost sniffing at her. She would have slapped the guy if she wasn't so nervous.

"Well, she doesn't give me the respect I deserve." Sara began, doing her best to make herself sound intimidating. She was beginning to sweat, and itching to finish Alacrán off herself, when Alacrán staggered and fell backwards as if hit.

Sara was quick to pull out her two guns and fired at two of Alacrán's men, while one of her men bashed the third on the head. She stepped over to Alacrán who was flopping on the ground in pain.

"Hasta la vista, El Alacrán." she huffed before firing at him once again till he stopped moving.

"It's done Juls." she sighed, almost falling over in relief. She rubbed her hands on her wet forehead and turned to check up on Val who looked quite shaken up, understandably.


 

 "You can go back home now." Sara assured her - gesturing with her hands, which would have been much more assuring if she wasn't holding two guns. Juls was immediately on her way over to the scene, leaving her flunky to dis-assemble the rifle. In a few minutes she was there at the scene - and the three of them were discussing what to do next while their henchmen dragged off the bodies into a less obvious position.

"You going to call Montilla over this?" Sara called out, resting on a nearby ledge.

Val was standing with her arms folded, slowly remembering that she had to go back home now. Juls nodded at her cousin's suggestion - already dialing Montilla. Val decided that she would take off her bulletproof vest - as it wasn't needed anymore and went back to the car.

Juls was standing outside waiting for Montilla to pick up - and was surprised when she heard a car rev loudly and drive out. Sara got up from her place and walked over to Juls; and both of them stood in this fashion staring confused at the car that was driving away.

"Is that Val?" she asked in surprise - puzzled as to why Val would do something like this. Sara was perplexed as well, till she remembered her phone.

"Maybe she saw my phone with calls from her boyfriend and figured out who asked to kidnap her?" she offered, and Juls nodded at that.

The two stood still for a minute, looking lost at each other till they both realized what Val was probably thinking of doing - and then sprinted towards the second car, yelling at their men to get to the car.

"She's not going to kill him - is she?" Sara inquired anxious as Juls drove wildly.  Sara was trying to dial her other phone, but it was of no avail.

"Val? Nooooo." Juls shook her head, not entirely convinced herself. She just wanted to get ahold of Val and get her to safety. Approaching Lucho's place - there were already police vans abuzz in the area for some reason, but that was the last thing Juls was worried about.

"Juli - WATCH OUT!" Sara exclaimed, but Juliana didn't care. She saw the other car parked haphazardly in the front and jumped out of the car and took off running towards the house. Sara was quick behind her; she could hear the police sirens behind and knew they didn't have much time. It was all a blur after that.

Juls sprinted at once,  armed with her gun and desperate for any sight of Valentina. She saw Valentina shove Lucho and him ready to hit back, and she ran towards them.

Juls all but thrust herself between Valentina and Lucho and got hit in the face in the process - while Sara did her best to get Valentina away. Juls clocked Lucho with the back of her gun and shoved Lucho with all her might and he fell backwards. Valentina was refusing to budge, and Sara had to physically force her away while the police busted through the door. Sara grabbed Valentina and the two of them hid behind a nearby wall; while Juls was caught panting, gun in her hand and bleeding from the side of her mouth.

She didn't hear much as the police yelled at her to get down and drop her weapon. She had caught sight of Sara get Valentina away; and seeing that this wasn't Montilla, knew things had just gotten a little more complicated.

She dropped her gun and raised her hands in defeat, glad that at least Valentina was safe now.

Chapter Text

Juliana didn't realize it  - but she was drenched in sweat and her hair was a mess. She could taste the blood on the side of her mouth from where Lucho hit her and it made her a bit dazed. Her breathing was heavy, and she couldn't think much. She raised her hands in utter exhaustion, and it was her pride that stopped her from falling to her knees too. The two police officers were quick to get her gun from her, and Juls heart sank at that a little. It was her favourite gun. She felt one of the men roughly take her hands and ready to handcuff her when she heard Valentina yell out in anguish.

Valentina and Sara had been hiding behind a nearby wall, Sara pretty much covering Val's mouth with her hand to get Val to not make a sound. Sara was learning just how physically strong Valentina was; and she was struggling to keep Valentina still as the police barged in. They could hear what was going on though  - and when Valentina realized that Juls was going to be taken she used all her might to break herself away from Sara's grab.

"NOOO!", Valentina screamed as she stumbled back into the room and the police stopped apprehending Juls, turning in surprise. Val herself was quite a sight, distressed and disheveled.

"Ms. Carvajal?", one of the police men asked in amazement.

"She was rescuing me." Val breathed out, and the men took a look at Juliana, whose face betrayed no emotion.

"She was rescuing you?", the police man questioned again, confused. Valentina nodded vigorously, a plan of action emerging in her mind.

"Yes, he kidnapped me, and she was rescuing me." Valentina confirmed, and the men looked at Lucho who was still on the ground. He immediately started protesting against that, but the police men threatened him to shut up. Juliana on the other hand heard what Val said and glanced sideways at Val, her heart racing. Juls did her best to catch Val's eye but couldn't manage it.

"You're saying he kidnapped you? But we thought El Alacrán kidnapped you.", the police man asked in surprise, comically confused at this. Valentina gathered her wits quickly and glared at the police officer like he were an idiot.

"I think I would know who kidnapped me officer." she argued back, quite annoyed that the other officer still hadn't let go of Juliana.

"And who's she?" the policeman asked - not exactly sure what to believe.

Mi Principe Azul

"Jul's  - Juliana is my friend and she found me and tracked me down and came to rescue me." Valentina explained, and Lucho piped up at that again but the police officers shut him up and decided that this probably had to be dealt with differently. The officer let go of Juls and began to cuff Lucho instead, who was not taking it quietly.

"SHE'S LYING! I DIDN'T KIDNAP HER!!!", he bawled out, horrified that he was being handcuffed and dragged out.

"You'll both have to come to the station." the policeman ordered, as he led the two women out of the room.

Val glanced cautiously at Juls, and Juls looked back with a soft-hearted look of tenderness. As the two were leaving the room, Juls took a quick glance back remembering Sara, and hoped she would get her discarded gun before getting herself to safety. She also knew Sara would somehow make sure Montilla would be brought into the scenario somehow.


 

Juls was sitting alone in the precinct interrogation room, feeling much better after a cup of coffee. She didn't know where Valentina was - and it was clear she was no longer a suspect. She leaned back in her chair and stretched a bit as the door opened and Montilla stepped in. He was holding a file and looked tired himself.

"Why am I not surprised to see you here?" he began, setting the file on the table and shuffling a few papers.

"Nice to see you too Inspector." she sang out, cocky knowing that she had gotten away with not one - but two crimes now.

"El Alacrán is dead.", he began - eyeing Juliana very carefully. Juls was careful not to give away anything, however.

"Really? Huh." she casually replied, unimpressed. Montilla narrowed his eyes at that.

"You had nothing to do with it?" he probed, and Juliana frowned in nonchalance.

"No - I was rescuing Valentina." she explained.  Montilla regarded that with suspicion and nodded, folded his hands and looked again at Juls.

"The Lucho boy - he tells me that he paid you to kidnap Ms. Carvajal." he explained, and Juliana shrugged hearing that.

"That makes no sense." Juls reasoned in reply.

"It doesn't. Besides your statement matches Ms. Carvajal's." he sighed.

"So, what's the problem then?" Juls replied, bored and internally pleased that things had wrapped up quite neatly.

"It's perfect. Too perfect for you." Montilla commented, but Juliana didn't care about that. Montilla could not hold her longer than this questioning and that's all she was concerned with. She wondered what Valentina was up to though, and hoped she was back safe with her family by now.

"It doesn't matter now. I've bigger problems on my hands. There's a drug cartel out there without a head that's going to wreak havoc on the city soon." Montilla complained, trying to get a reaction out of Juliana, but Juls was impassive as ever, hands folded, and head turned in a sideways in nonchalance.

"Not my problem." Juliana muttered, completely uninterested.

"You didn't plan that attack on Alacrán then?" Montilla questioned, and Juls shook her head.

"I was rescuing Valentina, I had nothing to do with El Alacrán." Juliana iterated, still uninterested.

"So, this was not a plan to become the next Don of South Mexico City then?" Montilla prodded, and Juls turned her head to Montilla at that in surprise, but not too obvious.

"You know me Montilla, I'm not after power - I see someone getting hurt, I just step in." Juliana explained,  thinking about what Montilla was getting at. He nodded hearing that and started gathering up his papers and got up, as if to go. He stood still near the desk for a moment and Juliana didn't move- though she was a little suspicious.

"If you're not going to be the next Don - " Montilla started, pulling out a gun and setting it on the table in Juls plain sight. Juliana immediately recognized it as her gun and looked up at Montilla curiously.

"Maybe El Caballero will be." he finished - and stepped out of the room. Juliana looked at her gun, took in the last sentence Montilla said and grinned.

Maybe El Caballero will. 


 

 

Time jump of 6 months.

Valentina was sitting calmly in the television studio chair - getting ready for her third interview that week. This interview was not with the Carvajal media group - so she had to be careful, but Val was careful as ever.

"We're now talking to the victim of the most scintillating crime of the year - but Ms. Carvajal - you've not let what happened stop you in anyway. In fact, now you've got a new lease on life you could say! You've taken over the Carvajal media group, and you're now the Editor of the Carvajal newspaper!" he interviewer began - and Valentina nodded at that with a smile.

"Yes, I think an experience like that really does make you realize that life doesn't stop for anyone. After my return home and El Alacrán's death, my sister had to declare bankruptcy because the company was going under - and she was undergoing a lot of personal stress so I had to help somehow, and with me the company has managed to come back on top  - so yes that's good I'd say!" Valentina rambled and the interviewer nodded.

"And it's not only that - you've come out of the closet and are dating one of the most eligible girls in the city!" the interviewer stated with a grin, and Valentina blushed, as a picture of her and Juliana at a party a few weeks back came on the screen behind.

"Yes, Juliana Valdes. She's an amazing person and such a sweetheart. We met at a park, and it's been a magical ride since." Valentina gushed.

"I don't believe in labels, Love is love."

"Yes, and the affluent Juliana Valdes is quite a catch for anyone I would say."

"Oh yes, yes - and she's all mine." Valentina beamed, looking right at the camera. Juliana was actually standing next to the cameraman, smiling at Valentina and the interviewer herself couldn't take the sweetness she was seeing.

"After this break - we'll talk more on your journalism - your reports on El Caballero and the new gang that's reforming the streets of Mexico City." the interviewer stated, and the show cut to the interval.

Valentina walked up to Juliana and smiled her gleeful smile at her, and Juls' heart was already mush.

"Ready for tonight?" Juliana smiled, and Valentina looked back at Juls with her puppy dog face. The two were planning a weekend getaway; and were leaving right after the final interview.

"Right after I'm done with El Caballero." she replied with a smirk.

 "I wonder who that is." Juliana teased, slowly tugging at the lapels of Val's blazer.

"My knight in shining armour, of course." Valentina replied with a wink and went back to the interview. Juliana was smiling so wide at Valentina and all that she was doing. They were definitely a formidable couple in Mexico City now.

"Your girl looks good on the TV." Sara began, walking onto the stage and standing next to Juliana.

"Yeah, she looks good." Juliana repeated, not taking her eyes off Val.

"I've news for you." Sara mentioned, business-like. Sara liked to think she was growing in maturity - though that was just her. Juliana nodded.

"Lucho's been released." Sara stated, looking at her cousin with a bit of concern. Juliana heard what she said but was too enchanted by Val and their upcoming weekend to care too much.

"We'll deal with him later." Juliana replied her cousin, and Sara grinned hearing that.

 Oh yeah.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It was a cloudy day, and Ricardo had had enough. He threw down the paper he was holding, it had already run too many articles against Servando Armenta, his boss  - and he couldn't stand it anymore.

"Someone has to put that girl in her place!" he spat out, while Servando didn't look very interested. He was more curious about El Caballero, and most importantly, how to get rid of them.

"That's the second time she's ruined one of our operations with her reports." Ricardo went on, and Servando pricked his ears at that.

"Well, send her a message then."


 

Juliana was sitting at the reception of the Carvajal Media Office building, going over the next day’s plans mentally. The plan was to smuggle a container full of computers that was to be delivered at the port, and she was personally overseeing this affair. She was to meet up with Sara to go over the plans for the next day, and Val's office building was perfect neutral ground - no one would ever suspect anything.

Being Valentina Carvajal's girlfriend and a formidable person at several negotiations meant that Juls had to dress the part.  She was wearing her preferred style - jeans, a white shirt and a slim dark blue blazer - not too formal but it was an elegant look. She was quite engrossed in her thoughts and forgot where she was, till a bulky man stomped into the reception and barked at the receptionist.

"Where's that bitch?"

Juls and the two security guards wasted no time in marching right up to this man, who appeared to be in a blind rage. Juliana's mind was immediately on alert.

"WHAT?!" Juliana retorted, getting up in the man's space. She figured out instinctively who this may be, and why he was here. The man stopped to look at her, while the two guards where struggling to get him outside.

"You're her girlfriend, aren't you?" he barked again, and before Juliana could reply, he threw a powerful cross at her, his sharp ring slightly tearing the skin on the side of her face, just above her eye. Juliana was about to pull out her gun on this fool, but somehow remained calm while the guards wrangled him and dragged him out.

"Tell that bitch she doesn't know who she's meddling with!" he yelled, as he was being dragged out. Juliana was out of breath by this whole scene but remembered that she could not just walk outside and deal with the guy like she would have in the old days.

Got to be patient.

She looked at the receptionist, who looked pale and walked to her to tell her to calm down. The receptionist shakily held out a tissue for Juls to wipe the side of her face with, and it wasn't till she saw the blood on the tissue did she realize how bad the pain was. She quickly wiped it away, anxious to not let Val worry about this.

"Don't tell Valentina." she told the receptionist, while rubbing the blood from her face. The receptionist pointed to a glass door on the right and Juls turned to see. On the other side of the door was Valentina and a bunch of other colleagues, gathered as if they had just finished a meeting. Val was quick to notice her, and Juls saw her face fall as Val pretty much ran towards the reception, towards Juls.

"My love, are you okay? What happened?" Val enquired in one breath, her eyes going over Juls to see if she was OK.

"It was nothing, I just slipped and fell and cut myself on something." Juls quickly replied, hoping the receptionist would not give anything away. Val ordered the receptionist to get the first aid kit and was quick to draw Juls into the now empty conference room.

"Val I'm fine!" Juliana argued, but Val didn't seem to be in the mood for listening.

Juliana felt like a kid as Val made her sit on the conference room table, while she carefully inspected her face. The receptionist gave Val the first aid kit and scuttled away. Val carefully wiped away at the little blood that was on the cut while Juls softly smiled seeing Val's concentrated face. She jerked a bit when Val dabbed the wound with antiseptic, and Val had to hold her steady.

"Stay still." Val stated, and Juliana pouted.

"Val I'm OK!" Juliana repeated, and when Val was satisfied that it was just a skin wound, she placed a small band aid over it. Val's phone was buzzing but she ignored it.

"For a Don, you really can't lie, you know." Valentina began, assuming her 'cut-the-crap' demeanor. Juls knew she couldn't keep things from Val and sighed in reply.

"What happened?" Val asked again, her hands holding Juliana's face.

"I'm not sure, but I'm going to guess that was one of Servando Armenta's men  - I don't think they like your articles about them." Juliana explained, slightly ashamed to look at Val.

"They're not exactly flattering." Val replied, and Juliana shrugged.

"Aren't you going to tell me to stop writing about them?" Val asked shyly, and Juliana immediately looked at Val.

"Val, I would never tell you what to do with your newspaper -" she stated looking at Valentina, but left the sentence hanging at the end.

"But?"

Juliana sighed.  "If you're going to piss off some angry violent men, I suggest you need more protection." she finished and looked at Val with worry. Val's shoulders slumped at that, and her hands dropped to Juliana's lap.

"I already have 3 bodyguards!" she whined, and Juls was quick to counter.

"And none of them where near you just now."

"It's not like I can have them at every meeting!"

Juliana’s look of anxiety didn't fade, and she knew Val could see she had a point. She took Val’s hands and pulled them near her chest.

"You know if I could I would be by your side all day." she softly explained, hoping Val would agree to extra security. Val smirked slightly at that.

"It's a shame you have to be the head of a cartel."

"What do you want me to do." Val acquiesced, and Juliana had the perfect person for the job in her mind.

"Sara, she can pretend to be one of your assistants, and I would be much better knowing you're safe." Val didn't look very convinced at that suggestion.

"What about you?" she countered, but Juls brushed it off.

"I'll be fine, I'll get other guards. Besides, he was after you today, not me." Juliana insisted, and Val had to agree.

"Okay."

Juliana smiled at that and brought one of Val's hands to her mouth for a soft kiss. Val gently kissed the top of Juls' forehead, when her phone began buzzing again.

"GO, go, we can talk later. You've got a newspaper to run." Juliana told Val, and Val realized that she had quite a bit of work pending, and quickly began gathering her things.

"Come home tonight, okay? I want to see you out of that shirt." Val told Juliana and Juliana smiled widely at that.

"Of course."

"I love you." Val kissed Juls on the lips for a moment.

"Love you." Juls replied, and Val rushed out of the room back to her work.

Juliana pulled out her sunglasses, hoping they would make the band aid on her face less obvious. She thanked the receptionist on her way out, and found Sara waiting for her at the reception.

"Everything's set for tomorrow- Oh what's with your face?!" Sara asked, surprised at this.

"Never mind. I've got something else for you to do. I need you to get hold of one of Servando's men." Juliana replied, her mind already plotting her next step.

"Okay? What's this about?"

"I've got to send a message."

Sara grinned widely at that. She loved sending messages alright.


 

The next morning, Sara was waiting for Juliana at the Carvajal mansion. She had already gotten things set up, and she was just waiting for Juls approval to give the go -ahead. Juls had told her to meet about 45 minutes ago - but Sara knew better than to disturb her cousin now. She was fiddling with Instagram for the seventh time when Chivis came in to check on her.

"These girls - they've kept us waiting long. Even the breakfast is going cold!" Chivis complained to Sara, and Sara chuckled.

"Oh, I'm sure they've eaten  - " she began, and then she remembered who she was talking to and fumbled.

"I mean - I'm sure they're hungry and they'll be down soon." Sara quickly covered up, sweating at Chivis' curious look. Chivis sighed to herself and then bustled into the kitchen to get started for the days lunch. Sara was feeling bored - and had the vague idea that her cousin was going to take much much longer.

"I could help you with the cooking", Sara offered, and Chivis looked back at her skeptically.

"I mean, I could cut vegetables or something." Sara pleaded, bored with her phone by now. Chivis gave up and let Sara help her, much to her relief.

It was about thirty minutes that Sara was helping Chivis - and the two of them grew quite chatty indeed.

"What do you think about Juliana?" Sara asked, cutting potatoes.  Chivis considered it for a second before replying.

"She's okay."

Sara was surprised at that answer; she hadn't expected her to be this open-minded.

"So - you don't mind that it's two girls or anything-?" Sara prodded, pointing at Chivis with the knife. She shook her head.

"Oh no - in fact this is much better." she replied, and Sara was mildly surprised at that.

"Oh?"

"Yeah! This way if she hurts my girl, I can kick her ass myself." Chivis finished in a serious tone, and Sara had to force down a laugh at the thought of this woman chasing down poor Juliana. Presently Juliantina (as the media had dubbed the couple) came down to the massive dining room - and as it was late there was no one else there. Valentina was wearing Juliana's shirt from yesterday and short shorts that she had clearly just worn, and Juls was wearing Val's red and grey baseball pullover with a pair of shorts. Valentina in her typical fashion gave Chivis a bear hug and a hard kiss on the cheek, and Juls sat at the table and looked at her cousin in the kitchen but thought better of asking anything. Val after hugging Chivis sat down on close to Juls with a little giggle and Juls slid her hand under Val's shirt. 

"Oh, what happened to your face?" Chivis asked, serving the two of them breakfast. Val looked amused at Juls, who mentally scrambled for an answer.

"I - was - it - was - I fell and cut myself on the tiling." she quickly managed, and Val gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Hmm yeah - she has to be more careful, she's very clumsy." Val finished, with a cheeky look in her eye, and Juls bit her lower lip and shook her head at Val.

After breakfast - Val had gone to shower and Juls was going over the day's plans with Sara, out of Chivis' earshot.

"You know, forget Servando - I think your next rival is Chivis." Sara joked, and Juls didn't exactly understand the joke - but she let it slide.

"Also - I have a new assignment for you." Juls remembered, and she knew she had to be delicate with this. Sara sat up eagerly.

"So - you have to - you have to take care of Val. Discretely." Juls gave up - she really couldn't put an enticing spin on that. Sara was indignant.

"WHAT!? I already increased her security!"

"And I don't trust them. Sara - come on - you said this was getting boring - this will be a nice challenge for you." Juls reasoned, and Sara considered it.

"But what about you?"

"I'll be fine, I'll get other men -  I need Val to be safe and I know she'll be safe with you." Juls earnestly explained, and Sara knew this was probably the most important thing Juls would ask her to do.

"Valentina's okay with this?"

Juliana nodded.

"You're going to be her assistant at the office."

Sara sighed, but considered the new assignment's intriguing aspects and gave in.

"Guess I'm getting your girlfriend coffee then." Sara drawled and Juliana had to give her a hug.


 

Juls was sitting on the top of two wooden crates, in one of the warehouses on her turf. It was dark, save one light - though it was only 10 am. She knew exactly where her men were, and she was grateful to Sara for organizing all this. She truly didn't know how she was going to manage without her cousin - but she knew that Val's safety was the most important thing to her.

Ricardo was bound in a chair, drugged and quite badly bruised. It was clear he hadn't given in without a stiff fight.

"I wish it didn't have to come to this." Juliana began, her voice echoing through the warehouse. Ricardo laughed in response.

"If your bitch of a girlfriend doesn't stop what she's doing - it's going to be worse." he spat out – and  there was no fear in his manner.

"First - stop calling my girlfriend  that." Juliana retaliated, grinding her teeth and her tone angry. Ricardo laughed again.

"Who do you think you are - El Caballero?" he scoffed, and at that Juliana jumped down from the crates and walked up to the guy - her manner deliberate and face merciless.

Ricardo took one look at Juliana's determined demeanor - and the blood drained from his face. He began squirming, realizing who Juliana was all along.

"NO. Please. PLEASE! Don't kill me!" he pleaded, quickly realizing he was already a dead man. Juliana took one look at the man and dismissed him immediately.

"It's nothing personal Ricardo. I just need to get a message to your boss. He can't keep threatening my girlfriend whenever he feels like." Juliana mentioned in a flat tone.

"I won't tell anyone who you are  - I swear." he begged, but things were already long decided.

"Take care of him." Juliana ordered her men, walking out towards the exit and wearing her sunglasses. She had a shipment to intercept.


 

When Servando Armenta heard what had happened to Ricardo, he didn't worry too much. It led him to a more important conclusion -  the Carvajal paper's articles never being against El Caballero, Valentina's tightened security after Ricardo's confrontation and now Ricardo dead - all this led the old man to one obvious conclusion.

The Carvajal girl is El Caballero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Sorry I'm late!" Sara quipped, casually strolling into Val's office - Val and one of the newspaper's writers were already talking and discussing something - but Sara wasn't exactly the person who bothered with office etiquette.

"Here you go." she grinned, setting down a cup of coffee for Val. She then sat down in a corner of the room and slumped low into the chair, spread her legs and took out her phone to check on Juls. She was still intent on organizing things as much as she could for Juls – it wasn’t like she was going to do anything significant at the Carvajal newspaper anyway. It took her a few seconds to realize that both Val and this other person were staring at her.

"What?" she asked, in her laid-back style.

"Umm - Ms. Carvajal doesn't drink coffee - she only drinks matcha." the other lady sassily quipped, eyebrow raised.

Sara stared back from her seat for a minute - expecting something else to happen. Sara didn't look very concerned, but seeing Val squirm a little from behind the desk - she sensed that she was supposed to do something about it. She sighed and got up and with a huff picked up the cup and went outside the room.

"Sorry about that - Ms. Carvajal." Sara bit out slowly, stomping out of the room in her normal roughish manner.

Val's employee turned to look at Val, as if surprised that she was absurd for tolerating this sort of behavior. Val shrugged it off with a forced laugh.


 

"So, you're saying the Carvajal girl somehow has the time to run a newspaper and a cartel?", Servando's right-hand man questioned in confusion.

Armenta shrugged his head at that, he didn't care for the details.

"She must be one of those high-power control freaks."


 

Later at the water cooler - Sara wasn't trying to listen in, but she couldn't help overhearing the conversation.

"Did you hear that 500 computers were donated to the Board of Education - by an anonymous donor? And isn't that a coincidence that computers were stolen from a container shipment recently? "

"That is a coincidence."

Sara was in the mood to show off, besides those were the computers she and Juls had stolen. The idea was to donate the computers all along, but it felt nice to show off a bit.

"Maybe the person who stole them realized that you can't sell things with traceable serial numbers on the black market." Sara suggested in her casual manner, still busy organizing Juls' next heist on the phone.

The two at the water-cooler, one was the same woman she saw at Val's office in the morning and her colleague - a squeaky guy looked at Sara with a look of mixed disgust and surprise.

"And YOU know how the black-market works." the squeaky guy scoffed, taking a sip from his coffee cup.

Sara shrugged in agreement, sensing the haughtiness of this guy. The guy rolled his eyes at her, and Sara realized that this nice cozy office was no different than the streets.

"You know - "she began, walking up to the guy and smirking.

"A pair of kidneys and a liver like yours would be worth quite a lot on the black market." she smoothly mentioned, not blinking and giving the guy a slight slap on the cheek. The squeaky guy had gone pale and was terrified, but he managed to keep his voice somehow.

"Are you threatening me?!" he squawked.


 

"Did you threaten one of my writers?" Val asked, exasperated - and it was only the first day. Sara was sitting slumped in Val's office, scowling but still composed.

"What is threatening?"

"Sara!" Val snapped and Sara knew she had to stop dicking around.

"I may have explained the working of the black market to one of your dumb writers." Sara began, and Val sighed, pushing her hair back from her forehead with her hands.

"He didn't believe I know how the black market works! Me! I'm one of the organizers of the black market!", Sara went on and Val looked at Sara in surprise.

"What? We have t-shirts and wrist bands!" Sara defended and Val widened her eyes, wondering why she had to listen to this.

"Sara - you can't go around threatening my writers -" Val began, tired but restless.

"Your writers are snooty assholes!" Sara argued back.

"Sara, Please!!" Val exclaimed, and Sara for the first time saw how stressed she was. Sara sat silently - looking at Val and breathed softly. Val was almost panting and was trying to compose herself. Sara took a moment, thinking for a while about how stressful things was be for Val - organizing and running a newspaper while dealing with writers who were all the time two steps away from figuring out who her girlfriend was all along, topped off with death threats from cartels she wrote about. She looked at Val and softly smiled.

"I'm sorry. It must be hard running a newspaper. And I'm sorry." Sara offered, understanding that working here would be a slightly more significant change than she previously considered.

Val looked at Sara and nodded, biting her lip. Sara smiled back, sincere and eager for the first time since the morning.

"Fresh start tomorrow boss." she grinned, and Val smiled weakly at that, hoping tomorrow would be better.


 

"So, if she's so powerful - how are we going to take her down?" Servando's aide questioned, and this was a plan he had been deeply thinking about for a long time.

"She's too heavily protected, typical selfish coward." Armenta explained, walking about the room. He was looking at all the intel his men had gathered on the Carvajal girl. He picked up a paper and squinted at it, considering the plan in his head.


 

"How was your first day?" Juls inquired, slowly walking around the jewelry store. Sara was surprised that Juls had recommended this meeting spot- perhaps they were going to hit the store next?

"A bit bumpy - you might want to make up for that with your girlfriend." Sara reported and Juls glared at her cousin and hit her on the upper arm.

"HEY!"

"What did you do!?"

"She's alive! She's safe at the house now!" Sara protested, rubbing her arm.

"You better be nice to her." Juls intimidated her cousin and Sara nodded vigorously, still confused why they were at a jewelry store.

"Yeah yeah, you try working for two bosses though." Sara begrudgingly muttered, looking around the store.

"This our next hit?"

Juls turned to look at Sara in surprise.

'What?! No!" Juls frowned at her cousin but Sara was still confused.

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Sara breathed out in a low voice, realizing what she was doing here.

"Don't you breathe a word of this to Val." Juls threatened and her cousin chuckled in reply.

"Mrs. Juliana Carvajal sounds better than El Caballero." she teased and elbowed Juls in the side. Juls laughed and playfully shoved Sara aside.

"It does." Juls nodded. She had been thinking a lot about herself and Val, and was growing tired of this hard life, and was planning on slowly getting out of the whole El Caballero business, but she didn't know how to do it exactly. At the moment, all she knew was that she was in love with Val, and whatever the future was - she knew Valentina was a part of it. And right now, she wanted the perfect ring for the love of her life.


 

"So, how do we get to the most dangerous woman in the city?" Armenta's man questioned, and Armenta smiled with his ugly teeth - staring at a picture of Valentina and Juliana which one of his men had snapped whilst spying on them.

"Best to get her where it hurts the most." Armenta spat out, squinting at Juliana in the picture.

 

 

Chapter Text

Lucho paced about the room like a mad man. Jail had changed the man a tad for the worse, not that he was that great to begin with. Jail had ruined a lot of prospects for him - his family refused to acknowledge him and without their money - his friends did the same. Now he was a man with little to lose, and he decided to put his personality to good use by joining the rival clan. But there was something about his rambling manner - something that made people believe he was absolutely crazy. He tried to convince not few of Armenta's men that Juliana was actually El Caballero - but the men laughed him off. That girl from nowhere? Not likely. He had tried to storm Armenta's headquarters with that information once - and again - was thought to be insane. But Armenta could see Lucho's potential as a henchman. Deranged, unhinged - but certainly useful. Which is what made Lucho the perfect person to get his hands dirty for him.

"Lucho!" Armenta boomed as he stormed into the room, which made Lucho stop pacing, but his vibe did not show any signs of submission.

"The last time I met you - you begged for an opportunity to prove yourself to me."

Lucho eyed the man and nodded.

"Well - it's your lucky day: the day I need you to kidnap someone for me. Juliana Valdés"

At that Lucho flinched. Was this guy insane? How could he just kidnap the head of the rival cartel by himself? He was visibly surprised and scared now.

"Juliana Valdés?"

"Yes."

"But why?"

"To get to El Caballero, of course." At that Lucho snapped.

"BUT JULIANA IS - " Lucho's yelling was cut short by one of Armenta's bodyguard smacking him hard across the face.

"Boy - I'm giving you a chance to prove yourself. I don't need your input on it." Lucho clutched his face as his rage washed over him. Realizing that if he wanted to get into Armenta's good books, he had to do what he was told. He stood upright and nodded again.

"Good."


Val was lightly stroking the little velvet lining of the ring box as she stared at a picture of herself and Juls on her computer. The custom ring had arrived that morning and it looked absolutely perfect. With Sara being her assistant-slash-undercover bodyguard it was difficult to get a minute to herself. She risked discovering her plan, but she couldn't stop herself from checking the ring in a quick gap she had. As if on cue - Sara barged into the room and caught Val quickly shutting the box shut - but it was too late.

"Wow." Sara breathed, closing the door behind her. Val sighed in exasperation as she put the box in one of her drawers.

"If you dare tell Juls - " Val threatened, her face stern. Sara held up her hands in surrender and shook her head desperately. She had over time learnt it was better to piss off Juliana than Valentina. Juls' wrath she could manage - Val's was something else entirely.

"So - when's the big proposal?" she asked, putting her hands down and sitting down on the couch in Val's office. She considered the fact that both of them wanted to propose to each other - and decided to intervene a bit and set up an adorable scene.

Val's face lost its sternness as she thought of Juls. She smiled a soft smile - considering the prospect of proposing to the love of her life. She had planned it for a romantic weekend - but now that she actually had the ring - a nervous excitement caught hold of her.

"As soon as I see her, I think. I don't think I could keep it from her for long. And I know you - you're going to tell her anyway."

Sara normally would have quipped something sharp in retaliation - but right now she was the sappy director of this cute love scene - that she let it slide. She sat up and smiled hard considering her plan and she knew it would be perfect.

"What about tonight?" she suggested. Val looked up in surprise.

"Tonight?"

"It's perfect. You're going to the park - the place where you met. You could walk around the park - and then propose to her at the bench you first met her." Sara began picturing, more caught up in her imagination where the scene unfolded perfectly than in reality. Val was even more surprised hearing all this.

"And how do you know all this?"

Sara's eye's widened as she realized she had pretty much given away half of Jul's proposal plan and knew she had to salvage things - and a rare occurrence occurred as Sara made use of her one braincell. As casually as she could, without giving away too much her glee - she laid back and coughed a bit as she tried to sound disinterested - for some reason.

"Well - the woman never stops talking about you. And when she was looking for you when she thought you were missing, she waited at that bench hoping you'd turn up." Val was touched at the thought of Juls waiting for her, on that fateful bench. Sara, of course - once she started - couldn't shut up.

"Well - this was before she knew that technically she had kidnapped you." Sara rambled on, and Val snapped out of her romantic trance.

"Yes Sara, I remember. I was there."

" Yes - but then again technically that was my fault with the lack of the - "

Val shook her head and breathed out loud as Sara rambled on.

"Sara."

"Hmm?"

"Tonight then." Val confirmed with a small laugh, her heart filling up with joy and love at the thought. Sara smiled in return, nodding.

"Tonight." she agreed - trying to not sound too excited at the prospect of her idea playing out.

THEY'RE GOING TO PROPOSE TO EACH OTHER AT THE SAME TIME - Sara's singular braincell screamed internally - pleased at her handiwork.


Juls was busy planning her proposal that morning, doing her best to make sure their corner of the park wouldn't have people there in the evening so that she and Val could enjoy the park in their own little bubble. To no one's surprise at all - Juls was all alone in the park at this time. She had tried other bodyguards - several in fact but none of them actually worked. It was now that Juls truly appreciated how well she and Sara worked together - as insane as Sara's plans got at times. She crossed the bench where she met Val for the first time and smiled. There was an old couple sitting there at the moment - and Juliana took in a deep breath as she considered everything - the evening, Val's blushing face, the rest of their lives together. In her imagination - she was not the Don of one of the cartels, Val was not the editor of the Carvajal newspaper - they were just two girls absolutely in love. Jul's closed her eyes  - thinking back to the first time she met Valentina, smiling as she remembered it. Even on their first meeting, when she had no idea who Valentina was - Juliana couldn't take her eyes off her. To think things had worked out so well almost made her tear up.

 "Tonight" she softly whispered to herself as she looked at the old couple laugh at something.

Lucho eyed the park from his vantagepoint - surprised that Juliana was alone. He grunted to himself as he drove off.

"Tonight."

 

Chapter Text

Sara was possibly the most excited for the evening. She was bouncing in her seat as she drove the huge SUV to the park - with Val in the passenger seat. Val had left work early and had certainly decked up for the evening - in a black gown with sequins on the border, with shiny heels and holding a very fashionable clutch - which held her phone and the ring. The two of them were silent but certainly excited as they neared the park. Val was to meet Juls there at 6 - and had gotten a bit delayed; she and Sara slammed the door as they got out of the car once they reached a place from which they couldn't drive anymore. They both walked a bit till they reached the bench where they had planned to meet, and sure enough as Juls had ensured there wasn't anyone there.

"Sara, I think maybe I can take it from here?" Val began, sensing that Sara had absolutely no intention of leaving them alone. Sara whipped her head at Val hearing that.

"WHAT?! NO! I'm the official videographer of this proposal" she began, almost betrayed that Val would suggest that she leave.

"Sara come on, you can take the video from a bit further, Val replied - and almost requested and Sara considered it before giving in.

"Ugh - fine. BUT I'll just be far enough so that I can still get a good video" she scowled, starting towards a nearby thicket of trees.

"Sara-".

She turned back to see Val slightly nervous.

"She'll say yes, right?" Val asked, her face flushed with nervousness, knees almost shaking. Sara smiled warmly back.

"Val, if she doesn't say yes - I'll kill her myself." she joked, and Val smiled and shook her head at the small joke. Sara could see Val was probably going to burst with nerves - and she gave Val a tight hug. Val was grateful for the hug; she knew Juls was definitely going to say yes, but that didn't help her anxiety much.

"Good luck boss." Sara quipped, stepping back to give Val and Juls their privacy.

As Sara walked away from Val, she made sure that Val was within earshot. As she tried to sneak into the woods, a noise made her jerk. At that all the cuteness and fangirling about the proposal faded away and Sara was immediately cautious. She quickly realized the Juliana wasn't at the park - and the last she heard from Juls was that she was supposed to be there. She looked keenly at Valentina and noticed that someone was watching her from a vantage point. Someone who was not Juls. At that Sara knew she had to get Valentina out of there, she had to get her somewhere safe, and without arousing the suspicions of this mysterious watchdog.

Valentina was extremely surprised to see Sara sprint towards her, and was confused when she stopped next to her, jogging on the spot.

"Hey Macarena! Good to see you're hear for our daily evening jog." Sara yelled loudly, hoping that whoever was watching would hear them. Val however was utterly confused at Sara.

"Sara, what are you doing?"

"Well, we decided to jog from here, remember?" Sara yelled again, pulling various faces and silently pleading with Val to play along. Val was on guard at this point as well, and she tried her best to play along.

"Right - we decided. To jog." she replied, a bit hesitant, and slowly growing nervous- but for different reasons this time.

"Yes - let's go." Sara shouted almost and the two of them 'jogged' out of this secluded part of the park the best they could.

"Sara, what's going on." Val muttered under her breath.

"Something's not right. Juli should be here, unless she got cold feet - but even then, she would have called me." Sara replied between huffs of breath. Sara in her usual fashion - forgot her verbal filter when she was trying to mentally piece together things. Val 's eyes widened when she heard that, as she struggled to jog in her gussied-up attire.

"What do you mean she got cold feet - you told her!?", Val turned to look at Sara, ready to strangle her. Sara was quite oblivious to Val's rage, her mind was intent on keeping up the facade of jogging through the park and getting Val to safety as soon as she could, and they were slowly making their way to the not-so isolated parts of the park.

"Well, actually she was going to propose to you too, which is why she should have been there." Sara replied softly, her mind racing - considering where Juliana could possibly be. Val's heart filled with joy at that, when she realized just how much Juliana really loved her, but quickly returned to anxiety.

"Where is she then?" Val questioned; worry beginning to seize her mind. Sara shook her head.

"I don't know - but right now the aim is to get you to safety discretely." Val huffed at that.

"Discretely?" she questioned, and Sara was a bit surprised. Pretending to jog out of the park, she thought, had been a brilliant plan.

"Why not?"

"Sara - I'm not exactly dressed for a jog, and if people didn't notice me before - they definitely are now." Val retorted, quickly running out of breath. Running in heels was NOT fun by any means, and Sara noticed quite a bit of people looking at both of them like they were slightly insane.

"She's training for the new Ms. Universe" Sara explained to the curious onlookers, and Val managed a feeble smile as they jogged through the park to reach the car.


As soon as they reached the car, they scrambled in and immediately drove to Val's office, which they both agreed was a safe place. Val repeatedly tried Juls' phone, but she didn't pick up. Sara called up one of her men who she had sent to look after Juls for the day, almost ready to bite his head off over the phone.

"Hello-"

"WHERE IS SHE?!" Sara barked into the phone, driving towards Val's office with reckless abandon.

"Who-?"

"WHO?!!!" Sara screamed. 

"OH Sara - she - she - she said she's in the park."

"AND WHERE are YOU!"

"She - she - threatened she'd kill us if we went with her - " the voice on the other side squeaked, and Sara winced at that.

"WELL FIND HER - NOW!" she screamed, cutting the phone and almost throwing it in a rage. Val looked almost sick with worry, and Sara knew she had to do something.

"I'm sure she's fine, we'll find her - don't worry." Sara said, as comfortingly as she could, given the current state she was in. Val didn't look entirely convinced and was still clutching the ring box in distress.

Once they reached Val's office, which was quite empty as it was late in the evening - Sara was tersely calling every contact she had in the hope of finding something. She mentally cursed herself for not being with Juls herself, but she also knew that Juls would have wanted her with Val now. Val changed out of her elaborate attire into more comfortable clothes and had steadied herself. Loving Juls had come with its own challenges, and by God she was going to face them for the woman she loved. Her face had a stern expression, ready to get to business.

"Any information?" she asked, sitting at her desk while Sara tersely was still on the phone with someone. Sara shook her head as she slammed down the receiver.

"God damn her," Sara exclaimed, pushing her hair back, slowly beginning to panic. Her cellphone which was on the table began to ring, and before she could get to it, Val picked it up.

"WHERE is SHE?!" Val answered.

"We have a lead that Lucho might have taken her -" Hearing that, Val pretty much saw red.

"Lucho!" she spat out in her anger, already marching out, Sara pulling her back.

"Lucho? That makes no sense - give me the - give me the phone Val!" Sara grunted, prying the phone away from Val while trying to stop her from leaving to confront Lucho herself.

"Are you sure?" Sara asked, and the person on the other side seemed to confirm.

"Who ordered this?" And the answer stumped her.

"Armenta?! That makes no sense-" but the line had already gone dead, and Val looked at Sara in surprise.

"Armenta?"

Sara looked at the phone in confusion, but Val seemed to quite easily believe that Armenta had ordered this.

"That makes no sense - " Sara repeated, confounded at this new piece of information.

Val heard her, but she was in no mood to debate with Sara.

"You sit here and be confused, I'm gonna go find Lucho." she stated, marching out of the room - and Sara rushed to catch up with her.

"Wait - wait!" Sara called after Val. "I'll come with you."


Juls stirred feeling something like water hit her face. Her head felt like it was going to explode, and when she tried to touch it, she realized her hands were tied behind her back. Opening her eyes, she saw Lucho, and immediately sat up, something she regretted immediately as her whole body screamed in pain.

"You." she spat out, seeing Lucho approach her.

"Well Ms. Valdes, looks like what's gone around has finally come around." he quipped, trying to sound tougher than he was. Juls' mind was working in overdrive, and she quickly worked things out.

"You're not this smart, Lucho - who ordered this." she grunted, threatening Lucho as if she wasn't bound up at all, not a hint of fear in her eyes.

"If you must know - it's Armenta." Lucho replied, shaking his head, and Juliana was confused beyond comprehension at this.

"Armenta?!"

Lucho brought his gun close to Juls' neck, but Juliana wasn't worried. If Armenta was behind this, there was no way Lucho was going to hurt her.

"The fool doesn't know it's you." Lucho explained, in the kind way all villains do.

Juliana mentally worked that into her conclusions, and it immediately dawned on her.

"Val! She's in danger!" she exclaimed, fighting her restraints, but with no avail. Lucho roughly pushed her back to stop and her head hit the wall hard.

It took Juls a second to recover, but she saw Lucho - and realized the fool had no idea what he had just walked into.

"Valentina's smart, she's going to figure it out." she smiled, and Lucho drew in a quick breath. He hadn't considered Valentina hunting him down. He turned to regard Juliana, his mind working fast now. Juls' smiled, she wasn't too worried for herself, and knowing Sara was with Valentina gave her a bit of relief.

"Say hi to Valentina from me." Juliana grinned with vengeance. Lucho knocked her out with the back of his gun and Juliana fell back unconscious.

"Take her to the boss, now." Lucho ordered his men, and one of his men came up to him.

"Boss, Valentina Carvajal is at the gate to meet you."

Well, that was fast, Lucho thought to himself.

Chapter Text

Juliana with much difficulty opened her eyes - and for a long time was quite dazed. For one thing she couldn't understand where she was. It looked like she was in a very comfortable room. Everything felt warm, yet there was this sense of lightness to everything she could perceive. It was dark and Juliana, understandably could not make sense of anything. The last thing she remembered was Lucho whacking at her head with his gun, and now this. She quickly realized she wasn't bound up, nothing was tied around her mouth either - and that confused her, but she decided to go along with it. She also seemed to have nothing on her person - no phone, wallet or keys. The room was dim and from what Juliana could make out - a bedroom. She was quite bewildered and stood still for a while till she realized she could move.

When she did, her first thought was to find Val - to get her to safety. Where was Sara? All these thoughts rushed through her mind as she tried to move around the room as quietly as she could in the darkness. As soon as she took a step - she could hear someone shift. She immediately stopped and listened harder. It almost sounded like someone shifting in their sleep, and sure enough she could then make out the peaceful breathing of someone fast asleep. Her heart immediately jumped - if her captor or whoever this was, was asleep - she just might be able to escape. Juls slowly made out a door and as silently as she could - made her way to it and tried the handle gently.

The first time the handle went through her - Juliana was quite confused. Surely it just slipped out of her grasp. She tried again - and failed.

What?!

Juliana tried repeatedly, growing more frantic with each try. By some divine providence - a bit of light entered the room - and Juliana could finally see what she was doing. Seeing the handle literally pass through her hand - as if she was nothing but a ghost made her jump.

What? Am I dead? No, I can hear -

Juliana quickly tried to grab various things that were near her, various items on a dresser, the light switch - all in vain.

No - No - No - NO - NO!

Juliana's breathing was growing quite loud, along with her distressed murmurs - however she soon realized that this other person couldn't hear her - at all. She cursed and waited for a reaction from this sleeping being, but nothing happened. After many failed attempts at trying to open the door - she realized that she was stuck in the room.

Stepping back from the wall, she took in heavy breaths to calm herself, pulling her hair back and she did her best to rationalize the situation. For some reason she decided to approach whoever was sleeping and she tiptoed slowly to the bed - careful to not make a sound as she was still not convinced this other person couldn't hear her. By the dim light that seemed to be following her around - Juliana quickly realized who it was.

Val???

"Val! Val! Wake up!" she exclaimed, trying to get ahold of Val - but she couldn't. Val was still fast asleep, and quite clearly not able to hear her. Juls was now panicking. What kind of twisted horror is this??

"Val, please please - are you okay? Val?!" Juliana begged, hysterical almost and doing her best to shake Val awake. She then heard an outer door open, and the sounds of someone entering. Jul's was desperate now.

"Val, come on!!!" she screamed, but no reaction. A minute later - the bedroom door opened and by the light streaming in from the outer room - Juls could immediately see who it was.

What the?

It took Juliana a stupid amount of time to realize that she was staring at herself enter the room - and she was still quite confused at what was happening.

What is this? Astral Projection? Reincarnation!? Transmigration!? A dream? What was going on??

This new version of herself seemed to be returning from somewhere, as she dragged in a suitcase. Juliana realized this other version of her didn't notice her in the room - and quickly stepped out through the doorway and looked around for a means of escape from whatever the hell this was.

Juliana walked around and did her best to calm herself, pacing around what was a living room. She seemed to be stuck in some sort of alternate reality where she wasn't kidnapped or something. Or was this the future? Was this a daydream? She frantically looked around the house for any signs to tell her anything and found none. She heard voices coming from the bedroom and immediately sprinted back to the bedroom doorway and stopped short.

"I didn't want to wake you up" Juliana could hear herself say as this other Juls walked towards the bed, where Val was slowly pulling herself up.

"I haven't seen you in three weeks my love." Val replied in an adorably sleepy tone, pulling Juls in for a tight hug. The second Juls pretty much melted in this warm embrace, kissing Val's neck as she did.

"I've missed you." she sighed, blissfully happy and Val hummed in reply.

Juliana, or rather the apparition Juliana stared at this little moment - watching herself and Val share this sweet intimacy made her teary eyed - especially seeing Val play with her hair, eyes closed and breathing her in.

"How was your flight?" Val asked, breaking the hug, and taking Jul's face in her palm.

"It was fine, and quite an awkward time too - but I couldn't stand being away from you longer than necessary." Juls rambled and Val smiled.

"Did you eat anything?" Val asked, immediately sitting up.

"I'm fine Val - "

"You sure?  I know you don't like airport food - I'm gonna make you something." Val decided, getting up and Juls shook her head at that with a soft smile.

"Thank you."  Juls replied, seeing Val get up from the bed in her short shorts and oversized pullover.

The ghost Juliana stood there, transfixed. This must be her future. This must be. Seeing Val approach the door, she instinctively tried to get out of her way - quite forgetting that she was a ghost. She didn't quite manage that, and a part of her shoulder went right through Val. For the spectre Juliana, it felt electric. Val stopped for a second and turned back to the real Juls who was now getting undressed for a quick shower.

"Did you say something?" Val asked, quite awake now.

"No - nothing." Juls replied, smiling as she took off her shirt and Val continued into the kitchen. The ghost Juliana slowly walked to the couch in the living room and sat down, trying to make sense of what this was. On the coffee table she saw a piece of mail and she tried to grab it - quite forgetting again that she couldn't grab things here. Exasperated - she craned her neck to see what the mail was. The only thing Juliana could make out was the addressee line - Mrs. Juliana Carvajal-Valdes and she threw her head back and closed her eyes.

She could hear the sounds of the shower, hear the sounds of Val busying around the kitchen. There was this almost crushing feeling of utter peace that made her feel like she would burst into tears. She thought back to times when she was younger - hearing her parents scream and fight in front of her, the sheer discomfort of that little trailer, nights when she put herself to sleep with thoughts of a future like this. In her youth, of course those dreams had been vague at best, but now? Seeing her future in all its tenderness, its warmth and bliss - Juls felt like her heart would burst. She thought of Val, who in reality was looking for her but here was at such peace just fixing up a late-night meal. Juliana looked around the room and could feel oh so clearly the comfort of this cozy apartment that was apparently all theirs. It didn't add up entirely - but it was all too much for Juliana anyway. If she had ever felt home - it was here. Up until now - she had only known than Valentina was going to be a part of her life forever but seeing it all so crystal clear choked her up. She heard footsteps and saw her real self walk to the kitchen in a bathrobe, still slightly damp.

It didn't occur to this spirit Juls that she could do whatever she pleased and they wouldn't notice her anyway; she followed her ‘real self’ to see what was happening.  She felt so intrusive,  like she was intruding on something precious - even though it was on her own self. She stood there and saw this real version of herself hugging Val from behind as Val was cooking.

"Someone's hungry", Val joked.

"No - not really. But I missed you - and I missed home. Felt like such a long journey to get here." Juls replied, peering over Val's shoulder the best that she could. Juliana standing at the doorway nodded in agreement.

"Well you're here now." Val offered, turning back slightly as she did.

Juliana was pretty much crying at this. Oh, for a slice of heaven like this.


Juliana jerked awake as something jolted her. She had been woken up from that reverie - or whatever it was. She could feel the hard floor of what could have been a jeep, and she struggled to sit up - only to realize her hands were bound.

Should have played with those ropes better the last time Val tied me up.

Juls did her best to free herself, panting hard. Whatever is what she had just witnessed - this dream or this alternate reality had made one thing very clear to Juls.

I've got to stop doing this.