ridley le roux, district one (fin) Sept 16, 2019 23:21:53 GMT -5
Post by d9f kestrel volant (stare) on Sept 16, 2019 23:21:53 GMT -5
we wear red so they don't see us bleed
hundred dollar bills under our sleeve
we intend not to sleep ‘til we're dead
drink our problems right out of our heads
Ridley's blood hummed in her ears as she eyed her opponent thoughtfully. Her pale skin was beginning to chafe beneath the bindings on her wrists and she could feel sweat cooling on her spine. Meanwhile, her opponent's normally handsome, sharp features had become ruddy with a mixture of exertion and frustration, the muscles in his neck bunching. Arlen Paris was easily a head taller than her and had twice as much bulk (though such comparative features didn't make him particularly abnormal - Ridley found herself aggravatingly small on all counts), but he came without the stereotypical temper that she'd begun to find tiresome in Career opponents. No, Arlen had brains to accompany his brawn, a cool and calculating nature that made him at least slightly more interesting to Ridley.
It was a shame that he'd proven to be yet another disappointment.
His charge at her was fast, but Ridley was faster. As soon as he was in range she planted her hands against his shoulders, scaling him like a monkey would a tree and using her momentum to wrap her legs around his neck. They crashed onto the mat together, her on top, and she held her position despite the way he flailed underneath him. It wasn't until he finally slammed his hand against the ground twice that she let up, peeling herself off of him as quickly as she'd latched on and scraping back some of the loose brown wisps of hair that had come loose from her ponytail.
“Well fought,” she offered as he collected himself, even though it hadn’t been. But a Le Roux maintained composure, kept about them a simple elegance, and she was nothing if not a Le Roux. Every urge to sneer or roll her eyes or walk away without a word had to be quickly smothered, and after years of practice it felt almost second nature to assume her adopted regal attitude. “I’d be interested to see - ”
Arlen surged upward so suddenly that it cut her off, his ankle whipping out and knocking her feet out from under her, and this was interesting. Even with the bindings Ridley’s wrists ached as she caught herself, her heartbeat spiking. She knew Arlen thought he was being clever, that playing dirty was supposed to be unexpected and daring in the polished world that a Le Roux was supposed to inhabit, but it was these kinds of moments that revealed that Ridley was more (or less) than simply a member of her family.
She’d been here before.
Her mother may have rescued her from the streets when she was small, carrying her off to a princess’s life of beauty and luxury, but Ridley had never truly left her original fate behind. Grungy dark alleyways and shadows were her true habitat, a place she’d never been able to fully abandon throughout the years. She wasn’t sure if Pax had been aware of her ventures back into her birthplace, but she’d kept them limited while her adopted mother was still alive, certain she wouldn’t approve. Things were different now, though. Without Pax to keep Ridley’s place in the family set in stone, she’d turned to other means of protection.
Arlen had been counting on her being surprised, but by the time he made another lunge for her she’d recovered enough to bunch her knees into her chest and then drive her heels upward, just below his ribcage. The effect was almost instantaneous. He stumbled away and landed on his back again, body spasming slightly as he tried to suck air into his suddenly empty lungs. By the time he’d managed a deep, panicked, shuddering gasp, Ridley was on top of him, pinning both his hands to the mat.
“This fight is over.” Her tone was almost gentle, but there was an unmistakable edge behind her stark golden gaze. It was her eyes that had made Pax choose her, convinced that they indicated a destiny among a family of lions. But Ridley had already been marked by a different fate, secret scars hidden beneath porcelain-smooth skin. Pax had found her too late. Ridley’s saving grace was that she was a master at pretending she’d left the streets unscathed. “Don’t embarrass yourself further. It’s honorable to accept a fair defeat. It means you can rise again.”
Honor - the concrete form of what could not be corrupted. But the Le Rouxes had brought her in rotten, and there would be no fixing her. Not truly. She simply filled the cracks with gold, made a work of kintsugi out of herself, and stood with her head held high enough that no one could tell the difference.
Darkness had already settled into the Le Roux household by the time Ridley returned home. Her muscles ached from a long day of training, striving for perfection. A Le Roux was meant to be a human weapon, capable of bringing down any opponent, and Ridley chased after that image like a child chasing after a firefly just out of her grasp.
From the day Pax had brought her home, a grimey, scrawny six-year-old orphan, she’d never quite fit in with the rest of their golden family. Despite the fact that time was kind to her, shaping her features into regally high cheekbones and silky brown hair, she still felt like an odd one out. So she tried to become a Le Roux in different ways. She became lean, fast, proud. Even though her past always called to her, a temptation she couldn’t resist, she liked what being a part of the Le Roux family had transformed her into. She felt like she was actually worth something.
And the name protected her. It kept her out of the hell Pax had rescued her from.
As she entered her own quarters, Ridley’s shoulders instantly relaxed. Pax had crafted a small palace of white and gold, all soft carpets and elegant frames. It was clean and polished and everything Ridley had grown to love, with tall silky curtains that billowed out in summer breezes, huge mirrors that made every space feel larger, and old documents and maps framed in gold on every wall.
After her mother had died Ridley hadn’t changed it much, with the exception of adding a document of her own to the wall - a list of names. Pax had taught Ridley to never forget the things she was owed and the things owed to others, be it revenge or favors. Over the years Ridley had developed a reputation for delivering the latter, using her connections both in the world of wealth and the less savory world she came from to grant wishes of all kinds. All for a price, of course. A few names on the list were crossed through, but most remained in tact. Debts unpaid. Rumor had it that even though she was only seventeen, Ridley Le Roux had half of One indebted to her.
Ridley looked nothing like her late mother, but the old woman in the rocker was half-blind and had long ago lost her senses. Her wits had been fading even before Pax had died, but in the years since then she'd suffered an even steeper decline. Ridley sighed and made her way over to that corner of the room, brushing back the old woman’s thinning white hair and pressing her lips briefly into her forehead. “No, Mum. Just Ridley.”
“Ridley,” her living mother echoed, brow furrowing. The name meant little to her long lost mind, but most days the clarification seemed to soothe her.
Ridley stepped back and calmly pulled her switchblade out of her pocket, snapping it open and glancing over her shoulder. “And just what might you be doing here, Arlen? I thought I told you our fight was over.”
The bulky Career shifted from his place among the shadows, stepping cautiously into the light. How he’d gotten in Ridley couldn’t even begin to fathom, but it made her wary enough to make a mental note to check all the locks. She didn’t like anyone invading her space, but especially not strangers. “I’ve come for a favor.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Have you? And what, dare I ask, might that be?”
Arlen glanced at the list of names. “I want - I need you to throw a fight with me.”
Ridley paused, then scoffed, moving toward him with the same grace a cat used to stalk its prey. “What did I tell you about losing honorably?”
“It’s not me,” he snapped quickly. Behind her Ridley’s mother stirred, muttering something that didn’t make sense, and Ridley’s gaze went from mildly amused to sharp and impatient. “It’s my dad. Word’s gotten back to him that I haven’t been winning all my matches. He says I’m embarrassing him.”
“You are. And you’re embarrassing yourself by coming here.” Ridley listed her head slightly. “I don’t lose.”
As she began to turn away and dismiss him with a wave of her free hand, Arlen cut in, “They don’t know, do they?”
She paused, then turned back to him. “Sorry?”
“Your family. They don’t know about the things you do.”
Ridley genuinely laughed at that. “Are you seriously trying to blackmail me?”
“With your mother dead, your place here isn’t guaranteed anymore. You have to be on your best behavior. If something like that slipped, you’d be tossed out before you knew what had happened.”
“And you’ve done your research.” She grinned. “I have to say, I’m somewhat impressed. But the fact of the matter is, Arlen, you have secrets, too. Mine might get me tossed out of this house, but yours - ” she paused delicately, raising an eyebrow “ - well, they could get you tossed in the Detention Center for a good long time, couldn’t they?” He tensed and she lifted her chin victoriously. “Right. Now I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave before you waste any more of my time.”
Instead of leaving, Arlen stepped uncomfortably close, towering over her. “You don’t deserve this house. You don’t deserve this name. You act like you’re so much better than everyone else, but it’s you who’s embarrassing yourself. Clawing your way out of the street and pretending that saving you was the best decision that old bat ever made. You may have fooled her, but you aren’t fooling me.” He sneered down at her. “I know what you are.”
Ridley slashed once, swift and easy, ripping open his cheekbone and knocking him to the floor. Her teeth bared, the blood slip-sliding between her fingers.
"I'm a Le Roux, you son of a bitch."
He laid there, clutching at his face as blood dripped off his chin. Her nose wrinkled in disgust.
"Get up," she said shortly, turning on her heel toward where her mother had fallen asleep in the rocker. "And get out. You're ruining my floors."
trouble, coming in the dead of night
trouble, making everything all right
it's in your blood, it's in your bones
you cannot sleep for, you cannot sleep for -
lyrics: trouble, valerie broussard
part of the le roux family plot