Her black coat dragged behind her feet as she ran up the flights of stairs. Her nose twinged as she passed floor three. She skidded to a halt. She would recognize that smell anywhere. The smell of death wafted into her, making her eyes instinctly snap to the open doorway. Slowly, so slowly that it would seem that she was doing nothing but standing there, her hand slipped inside her long coat. Her fingers wrapped around the butt of a gun and slowly pulled it into view. What dim light there was, glinted off the silencer on the end of the barrel. She took deliberate steps through the doorway and into the hallway. Her pupils dilated as she scanned the L shaped hallway, gun resting at her side.
Just then, a raspy voice broke through the silence, "Dani, what the hell are you doing? He's up on fifth floor not third."
"I know that," she said.
"Then what are you doing here? Let's go."
"Don't you smell that?"
"Of course I smell it. I smell it every damn day."
"It's fresh though. Not hours old."
"So, this is our property, Eli. Who the hell is killing in our property?"
"Probably some guy who got angry with his girl or something. People kill all the time, Dani. Not every killing comes from us."
He could be right, she thought. But inside, she knew he had to be wrong. She knew this place. People kept to themselves, knowing that the Romanovski family dealt death, they didn't.
Eli stood in the open doorway, taking a long drag on a cigarette. He held his mouth closed, letting the smoke seep out his nose. His stance was wide, opening his coat to reveal a revolver swinging in a gun holster. He dropped the cigarette on the floor, crushing it with the heel of his boot.
"Well are you coming or not?" he said, demanding more than asking.
She tore her eyes away from the hallway, "Yeah, I'm coming."
He waited until she started to ascend the stairs, making sure she wasn't tempted to go back to the third floor, before he followed.
When they reached the fifth floor, she cut her silent act. She slammed the door open and clomped out into the more brightly lit hallway.
"Must you make such an entrance," Eli growled.
She smiled, "I like them to know I'm coming. Makes them re-evaluate how they view the situation. If they weren't afraid of me, I'd already be dead."
Her dark blue eyes blazed and her right hand tightened around the gun she held. Eli reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigarette as they walked down the hallway to the last door on the right. As she knocked, he lit the cigarette. Sighing calmly, he let the smoke sift through his teeth. Dani waited for someone to answer the door. Her eyes followed the rising smoke and watched it swirl around a bug-filled light. She knocked again.
"Open up asshole!" she called. "Don't make me knock again."
Ripping through the front door came half a dozen bullets. Dani smacked herself against the nearby wall, but not until a bullet had sliced into her shoulder. She didn't even flinch as the searing heat radiating through her body. She merely glanced at it, seeing the blood starting to soak through her coat.
"Great," she sighed. "I ruined another coat."
Eli smirked at her as he theatrically scanned his coat.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you didn't get hit. You never do," she hissed.
Making sure her magazine in her gun was full she glanced at Eli, "Ready?"
He pulled out his revolver and nodded.
She stood a step back from the door. Kicking next to the dead bolt, the door cracked. She kicked again. This time the door broke around the bolt, giving way. Without hesitation, she swung her gun up and pulled the trigger. Two shots launched though the silencer and pierced a leg and shoulder of a middle aged man. He collapsed to the floor.
She knelt down and wrenched his head up to look at her, "You know, if you had just let me in the first time and not shot me, you would have gotten an extension until next week. But you had to be a fucking dumbass and screw yourself over. So here's the deal. You might die lying here, but you might not. If you live, I'll be back next week for my money, but since I'm guessing you won't have my money, you better hope you die. And when I come back and you don't have my money, I will kill you."
She started to get up, but came down and knocked him unconscious with the butt of her gun.
Eli stared at her.
"What?" she asked.
"Your father really has no idea what he's made you," he said.
"He's hasn't made me anything," she spat. "I've made myself. The only way to succeed at this job is to leave a wake of intimidation. You should know that."
"I do, but I also know that out of all the men, and women, I have worked with, none compare to you, Dani."
"That wasn't a compliment."
He stamped out his cigarette and walked out of the room. She stood there, looking over her newest victim, feeling the smooth gun in her hand. She shoved it back into her coat and strode out of the room past the trashed front door.
As they past the third floor, Dani could still smell death and had to force herself to descend past the open door.
When they got to the ground floor, before they left the building, Eli put a hand on Dani's good shoulder, pulling her to a halt.
"You're losing a lot of blood, Dani," he said.
"Oh really? Thanks for pointing that out," she said, rolling her eyes.
They walked toward the nearest street and Eli put his hand up to call a cab. But before one could stop, Dani yanked his hand down.
"What are you doing?! Are you crazy?! You know all the cabs have cameras in them now days!" Dani growled only so Eli could hear.
"If we walk back to headquarters, you aren't going to make it," he said
"I'll be fine. Now let's go."
She pulled him front the street side and they continued walking. A block from their headquarters, she began to falter. She refused Eli's help, cocky as she was, but couldn't object to his help when she almost fell over. He wrapped her arm over his shoulder and practically pulled her into headquarters. When they were in, a man about Dani's age scooped her up and proceeded to carry her to their resident doctor.
"Put me down, Nathan," she protested weakly.
"How about no?" he said.
She tried to continue protesting, but slipped unconscious in his arms.
"Dani? Dani can you hear me?" he said.
He shifted her weight to cradle her lolling head.
"Damn it Dani..." he grumbled.
When he got to the small office, he called Frances and laid Dani out on the paper-covered bed.
"What the hell happened to her now?" Frances asked.
"I don't know. Looks like a gunshot to the shoulder though," Nathan answered.
Frances sighed, annoyed, "I'll have a look..."
Nathan watched as Frances pulled Dani's blood stained coat off and cut the shoulder of her beater loose. She grabbed some already prepared supplies and began to stop the bleeding. It wasn't going well and she soon started barking orders at Nathan. He held some gauze down on her front as Frances rolled her onto her side to see her back.
"Through and through... luckily..." Frances murmured.
She taped some gauze on the exit wound, put Dani on her back again, and took over for Nathan. It seemed like it took far too long for the bleeding to stop and get the wound cleaned.
"Well, now that that's taken care of... we can just let her lay here until she comes to," Frances said casually. "You can go back to work Nathan."
"Ok..." he said, sounding unsure.
Frances noticed, of course she did.
"She'll be fine, I promise," she said. "You've been through this enough times to know for yourself."
"Yeah, I know, it's just..." he started.
"Yeah, yeah, I get it. Now vamoose!"
He sighed, but did as he was told and walked out, remembering to pull the door closed before Frances could yell at him. He wandered out into the main lobby where Eli stood, chewing on a non-lit cigarette.
"Let her get shot again, huh Eli?" Nathan said.
Eli lazily lifted his eyes to meet Nathan's, "She's the one who always insists on a loud entrance, scaring the people into desperation."
Nathan smirked. He couldn't deny that fact.
"All right, we'll I'll see you later," Nathan said, clapping Eli on the shoulder.
About an hour later and Dani's eyes dragged open. She sat up and leaned against the wall. Her beater was just starting to crust over with the amount of blood on it. She pulled it over her head and threw it into the trash bin across the room. She got to her feet, ignoring the spots in her vision, and rummaged the many cabinets.
"Third door from the left," Frances said as she entered the room.
Dani reached for the third door and pulled out a clean beater.
"Looks like you need to restock, Frances," she joked.
"You really shouldn't joke about that Dani. Running out of beaters should be a sign," Frances said.
How many more times are you going to have to get beaten, stabbed, burned, or shot to realize that you are going to get yourself killed?!"
"Occupational hazard. That's all it is," Dani smiled, ignoring Frances' words. "Well, I've got to go."
"Where are you going?"
"I've got to go get debriefed by my dad..."
She yanked the beater over her head and walked out of the room, forgetting to close the door behind her. She smiled to herself as Frances yelled after her.
She then proceeded to clank up the iron stairs to her father's make shift office.