The crickets won't sing to her tonight.
The sweat pools under Chloe's body while the night humidity collects around her like a fisherman's net, entangling her. It's too hot to do anything but wait for the songs that won't come.
But what's the matter if the crickets won't sing. Kirika is lying next to her; they are tangled together in this net of heat and stillness, and nothing could be more right.
She wishes she could tell Kirika things. If she could she would tell her that the weather is wrong for this time of year. That there is a stillness hangingin the airlike the moment before a storm.
But those words never fill anything but the silence. As much as she speaks, she never tells Kirika anything.
Chloe wishes she could tell her about the dreaming darkness where she spent planning for this moment. About the sleepless nights where she whispered into the dark and called Kirika to her.
She wishes she could tell Kirika that watching the assassination of the Boquet family was the first bright moment in a mind full of dark, lazy memories that mean nothing.
That her life had begun that night, and she waited for Kirika to come back to her so they could become Noir and her life could resume.
She wishes she could tell Kirika how happy she was when it came true. That the joy and love in her heart swelled so big she thought it would drown her, and she didn't even want to close her eyes at night for fear she would wake and find it all a dream.
But she never can.
Outside the crickets are silent but it doesn't matter. Kirika came back to her. She came back, and they are Noir. Life is as it should be, and Chloe will show Kirika that love can do more than always destroy.
Althena's body the next morning doesn't surprise her like it should.
Why should it when even Althena had told her this would happen. When she can so clearly remember the sunlight and love hug Althena wrapped her in, and her soft murmurs as Chloe listened and cried little girls tears that should have had no place in their world.
"Don't cry. It all comes to death in the end."
It still hurts though, and she's glad for it when through the stinging red in her eyes, she sees Kirika standing to the side, waiting.
Kirika dismantles and reassembles her gun. Chloe hears the click of the safety being released before she realizes that Kirika has pushed the gun into her hands. That it is her fingers on the trigger.
She's never been fond of firing weapons. They are Kirika's, not her own. But suddenly the weight of it just feels right in her hands.
Kirika is waiting.
They are partners, friends, lovers.
More than anything else they are killers.
This is why she doesn't say, not now, not ever, "Don't you miss her?"
It's why she doesn't say, "Those bastards, we'll kill them."
Chloe hands Kirika her knife, and says "Let's go."
They kill. They hunt and prey and stalk. Soldat's minions fall, their associates fall. Everyone they go up against they shatter.
She makes love to Kirika through the burst of the gun, and climaxes at the click of empty casing being released. She tells her everything she needs to through the sound flesh rending, and tearing. They fly past each other mid-kick, against each other mid-turn, and she thinks they understand each other completely.
However afterwards, in the between times, between shot and scream, it's mostly silent.
Chloe never asks, "Why?"
Kirika never says "Nothing else is left."
They sleep together in whatever shelter they can find. Chloe usually showers if possible, but Kirika doesn't bother unless Chloe insists. And she does that less and less as time goes on. Kirika's skin has an almost permanent flush about her. She smells like fever and death. Like sweat, and gun powder, and blood.
"Do you think there was ever another way this could have ended," she asks Kirika one night.
She doesn't expect an answer, doesn't want one, so when Kirika leans closer, so close that Chloe can feel the blood pounding, her pace quickens.
"We need more ammo," she says, and tosses the cartridges on the ground.
It's the first thing Kirika has said in over a week.
Kirika is not human. Chloe knows this. Kirika is many things. She is an angel to be worshipped. A force of nature to be feared. And if she lost something in becoming that, then it is already gone.
The only thing Chloe doesn't know is where she fits into this myth writing itself around them. Before she was an assassin, half of noir, a killer. But she was still a girl. She was still alive. Now, she's not so sure.
Kirika eyes catch on Chloe's and for a second there's some sliver of something forgotten.
"So fast", she whispers. Chloe may be the second best assassin in the world, but it still takes her a moment to realize Kirika's hand is now resting on her chest. On her heart.
One upon a time she thought her love for Kirika would save her. Why she thought that she doesn't remember, but she still believes it in some desperately serene corner of her mind.
She loved what Kirika used to be because that girl was strong, and brave, and she had grown into a friend during those long dreaming nights. She loved Althena because she taught Chloe love, showed her affection when she had no right to deserve any.
If Chloe thought about it she might think she loves the dark shadow where Kirika used to be because it is the only thing left. She doesn't think on it though. She loves the Kirika she has now without knowing why. Without needing to know. Without wanting to.
"They're coming," the shadows say softly.
"Yes," she whispers, and there is no click of the safety this time because it was never on to begin with.
Chloe grips her gun tighter, and turns around.
This too will end in death.
She thinks she's looking forward to that.