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The Art of Shamelessness [closed]

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Limsa Lominsa's skyline always offered the best views in the city. It also offered the best winds. Drenched in sweat and panting with exertion, those winds were exactly what Zhi was looking for as she rested on a rooftop under Menphina's delicious light. No pursuit in sight and the freedom to wander wherever she wanted under the cover of night: she was pleased. The darkness was where she thrived. Always.


The strange deal she'd worked out with the miqo'te next to her had turned into something personal for her. It was a chance to pit herself against someone who was, as some might reckon, better than her. It was a chance to prove herself. So it was with some mix of jealousy, anger and admiration that she dealt with him, that she doled out pieces of information as slowly as she could. Take as much as she could and give as little as she could: that was how she operated. That was how everyone operated, long as they weren't lackwits.


She'd explained her job with Lalataru to him, how she'd been hired to steal some book, how it required her to play the role of an innocent little thief named Joz, how she was verging on sure that her employer, Galleon, intended to kill her once she was done. She used the telling of the job to teach him more about the role arcanists played in the city's legal system, about how their guild doubled as Mealvaan's Gate. But of course, with her, there was another reason to bring it up.


"I need ye t'hit me," she told him. She wasn't looking at him, she was admiring the way the moon's light bled over the water below. "I need ye t'make it look like I got roughed."

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You'realready as rough as the sole of a used boot, Z.” He spoke with mild humor as he took a swig from the bottle of whiskey hanging from his right hand. Surly this hadn't been why she brought him up here, was it? “And here I was hoping for a romantic evening under the moon lit cliffs..” Jager was scanning the horizon with those dangerous yellow eyes of his in search of Fortune's Dagger. He could keep the ship docked for so long, and all along the coast was camped out by other smaller ships, and of course Limsa's Navy.



What'sthe job this time?” He set the bottle down beside him and reached up to undo the rope of braids tied behind his head. They'd fall down the length of his back reaching the middle for a few minutes as he straightened them out. One by one he's start to tie them back up into a tighter, more secure bundle. “Also, what ever became of your girl, Dy'la-something..”

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"Aie, I'll send ye a doxy once we're through." Zhi rolled her eyes. "D'lyhhia. She's t'scope Jaded. Y'remember that? Or did th'doxies an' th'booze scrap yer mind? Ain't th'point, nohow. I'm ready t'swipe th'book from Lalataru. But thing is, I need somethin' t'make him want t'take me t'his room. I need in. He's th'sort what likes t'protect. So I'll give 'im somethin' t'protect. So I need ye t'hit me. At least one in th'nose. Easier t'cry."


She pulled her shirt away from her chest, fanning it to increase the airflow.

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Hetore his eyes away from the coast to throw her a strange sidelong glance. While she wasn't wrong about the whores and booze, he was taken off guard by her approach. That was D's problem, she- like so many other women, pushed up those shoulders and dropped her chin in the presence of a white knight in shining armor. He of course laughed at these men, but hey- to each their own; but to see his partner using this tactic to infiltrate someone's room was slick. Swig. It was a shame he couldn't give her praise.



Ithink it'll work.. You have quite the reputation for being a little..” he grinned, “rougharound the edges. Why now? Why would the big and tough Kink suddenly need a man to coddle her?” Like the pessimistic asshole he was, he needed to pick at any flaw he saw. It was in his nature. 

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Her glance was annoyed. "Cuz it ain't Kink what's needin' th'protectin'. It's Joz. He don't know I'm Kink, don't know nothin' 'bout what I do. Normally I'd just slip in an' steal it but. . ." she slid her tongue across the front of her teeth, "he's an arcanist. Wi' the Gate. He's got power, I seen it, an' I ain't gonna mess wi' it. So I need in wi'out trippin' potential whatever he's got set. Meanin' he's got t'invite me in."


She wasn't looking forward to getting hit, but she couldn't very well fake bruises. It'd take her off the streets for a few days; she'd be very distinctive with them. They'd need to fade a pinch before she could resume her normal activity. It was a roll of the dice.

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Youknow.. A nice leather corset, maybe flash a little leg.. or even just shower for once-” he grinned, “I can think of other ways to get invited inside.” Swig. “But if you need me to hit you, I can do that.” He pulls both legs from over the cliff and hands her the bottle. “It's going to hurt me more than it'll hurt you, but you are a friend in need..” The sarcasm was laid on thick. Thing with Jager was, he had no problem hitting a woman. Throwing the first punch however, varied upon circumstance.



Drinkup. You're going to need it.” 

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Zhi's stare went flat. "Yeah. I'd be so great at dressin' an' actin' like a doxy. Wouldn't be like Joz t'do that. He wouldn't've taken "Joz" on as a 'prentice if she was."


The back and forth complaining and criticisms had become familiar. Comfortable.


"Yer all tears, I know," she quipped back at him, plucking the bottle from his hands. She didn't need a second invitation to nearly drain the thing with her first long drink. She came off it with a gasp, and finished it up. "Aieee," she said, breathless and raspy. "That's th'stuff. A'right, groundside fer this mess, I ain't wantin' ye t' flip me off th'edge. 'Oopsie, sorry Z!' -- like that."


She did a piss-poor job mimicking his voice, drawing it up to a dopey tenor. She went over the side of the roof with a boneless sort of roll, caught herself and climbed down. She'd fallen before, but hadn't ever done serious injury to herself. That'd probably change, one day. But it wouldn't be this one.


Her feet hit dirt and she stood up, stretching. She held out the bottle to Jager. "Don't take out none o' me teeth, y'scrag."


Her grin flashed fangs.


"Let's see what ye got."

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He'dburst into wolfish laughter as he watched her roll right off the ledge. He'd want another bottle when this was over with- and perhaps another doxy to ease the tension for the night. Man sure did love his whores; no shame in it, too. He'd walk towards the edge and casually hopped down till he was in the dirt beside her. He'd start first by pacing, slowly to the left- pause, then the right.


Idoubt those things are worth anythin' anyways.” He was winding up his shoulder, loosening his muscles. “Besides, I have something else in mind. How you feelin' with that last of the bottle?” If she had a buzz, he'd not feel as guilty; guilt, yeah.. it was there. Not for the beating she was needin', but for the job in specific. Magic users, he too harbored a specific kind of hatred for their practice. “If'n you're good, then lift your fists.” He'd end his pace and turned it into a few steps backwards. He'd ball his fist and lift them up to his face, “Beatin' up a woman whose not fightin' back rubs me the wrong way. Watched me ol' mom crawl away left something behind.”



Hehopped back and forth and threw a few shadow jabs, “What'cha say, Z? I can think of a few times when you've wanted to throw one at my gullet.” For example... all the time. 

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"Not t'yerself," she muttered. "I like me teeth, right as they are."


Her stomach had been nigh on empty, so the alcohol was warming her up something good, but not enough for what she wanted him to do to her. No amount of drunkenness, she figured, would cure the pain of a beating -- though it might wipe the memory from future recollections. 'Course it wasn't the remembering that was the problem, it was the experiencing.


"'Sfine, 'sfine," she continued, eyeing him. "Ain't yer mam. Don't think o' me as a woman then. Jes' don't drag this out, guv."


Despite the lightness of her tone, her ears were back and her tail lashed side to side behind her. Nothing was more pathetic than starting a fight you didn't intend to finish -- except starting one with the intent to lose when you weren't on a job.


One hand on her hip, the other lifted with a 'come on' gesture, Zhi stared at him with her chin lifted and a cocky grin splitting her lips. "Surely ye've done worse." She had. Wasn't nothing to lose sleep over.

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Jagerstood there watching her with the most complex of looks. A part of him felt ashamed, to beat up on a woman without the intent to fight back. A part of him felt trust.. in knowing she'd come to him for a task like this; that or she was just down right foolish. And even a part of him felt remorse, knowing damn well he'd regret this later on in the eve. Job or not, he had morals.. if even in low standards, they were morals none the less.


I'dnot wear that stupid grin of yours, aint nothing to be grinnin' about.” He said this as he took a few steps in with his fist balled at his right. “Hopefully he'll patch you up before you take that book, aye?” And with that he'd not say anything else. One, two.. three steps in and a violent snap punch was thrown from the left.. his left that is. If it connected, it would blast her jaw in the opposite direction while gritting his teeth to follow up with his left. One to the jaw one to the cheek. Bam. Bam. Whether or not they connected, and even if they did, connected hard- he'd step back.



Withan almost drunken swagger, he'd stumble backwards while rubbing his fist. “How much more'n you need of this?”

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Thing with taking punches to the head was that each hit almost blanked her. Her vision would go white, and she got dazed fast. Good brawlers, she knew, could usually take a few before it took them out, but she'd never been a good brawler.


She went down to her knees, shook her head. Shaking her head didn't help clear it; it made her vision go blurry.


She'd bitten her tongue. Twelve shit on her, too. Oh, there was the pain.


She blinked several times and stood up. "Roughed, guv. A beatin'. Not jes a few . . . " she spat blood. Definitely pain. She put up her arms, but it wasn't aggressive: it was a block.


Joz wouldn't be able to effectively fight back, but she would at least try to defend herself.


"C'mon," and there was a growl to her voice. She sounded angry, really angry, not just the exasperated caricature of annoyance she usually pulled on him.

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Onetwo three.. Left-Right-Up. He'd combo her once more, this time from left to right, right and back. He'd send her head backwards, and this time with a split lip.. at least, a punch that direct was sure to leave one. He'd grow silent, unusually so as he threw that rapid series of punches. He could see it in her eyes, he could see the glossed daze that left her unsteady. He'd never done something quite like this before; he'd put a few rambunctious women in their place (men included) but never did he rough one up without a fight back. He'd be lying if he said it didn't bother him.


Standup straight,” One, two.. one two three. Round three was quick, solid and brutal enough to leave anyone with lights out. Zahvi wasn't just anyone, and the fact she was still standing, (at least he hoped) was impressive none the less. His knuckles were starting to swell and two were split open; thing about a fight was, no matter if you came out victorious or not, everyone went home a loser in some sense. Two split knuckles and a morning of sore muscles await this sore brawler. He couldn't even imagine her night to come.



Z...Hey, talk to me.” Try as he may, the concern in his voice was evident; it was perhaps the first show of weakness (or maybe for once, concern) he'd shown her since meeting. 

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Zhi was standing up. Until she wasn't. Blink, up. Blink, down. Blink, gone. Snatches of time didn't even register, but the buzzing constant was the dazedness, and the pain. But, right then, even though it hurt she knew it wasn't the worst. The second, sometimes third day? Those were the worst. Right now, the shock of it, the adrenaline, that kept it bearable enough for her to absorb most of the blows without crying uncle.


Though, she did cry out. It came out of her in grunts and short, sharp yells. No helping that.


He was talking, but she didn't quite catch all of it. Not really, but she got the gist. "Kick me," she got out, though breathing was an effort and a half and she sure didn't feel like talking.


She folded over, curled into a ball.


She hoped he didn't get her in the kidney.


Pissing blood ruttin' hurt.


She was swallowing blood without meaning to; it had clogged up in her nose, and now it was sliding down her throat. Warm, thick, slick. She choked on it, coughed and spat. Unpleasant feeling. She focused on it.

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Jagerwas going to need to drink this one off, which was ironic. You'd think the woman getting her face smashed in would need the drink more than he. But for a man going against morals.. he was too deep to back out now. Obligation led his actions and guilt reminded him of exactly what he was doing. “You want me to kick you? You want me to kick-” and he drive the curve of his upper foot against her ribs, “-kick you!” Kick, Kick, Kick... stagger, stomp- Kick, Kick. His hair was thrown a bout, his clothes rustled and even his breath left ragged. Like an kid that owed him lunch money, Jager put the beat down on Zahvi without hesitation.


Itwasn't log until he would stagger back a few steps to tally up the damage. “Get up. Talk to me, Z.” He was left with an uncomfortable feeling deep in his gut, one he'd register as weakness. Though, it was that weakness others would consider as.. worry, or concern and maybe even guilt. No, he couldn't feel guilt; this was business. She was a partner, not a friend. She asked for this, he delivered.



Getthe fuck up, Z.” He was yanking her by the scruff of her neck, his voice rough.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bad idea.


The whole mess of it had been a staggeringly awful idea.


Zhi's arms and legs didn't want to function, couldn't function with the scatterbuzzed signals she was sending them. Which way was up? She was dizzy, unfocused. Enough to vomit.


There was enough blood gone down into her stomach to vomit back up. It didn't, thank Nald'thal.


She gagged instead, felt the rough prick of the ground under her palms; it was as grainy as the ringing in her ears. It was fuzzed. All of it fuzzed, and she was nothing more than a liquid smear on the ground.


His hand was firm on her. He took some of her weight. Even on her hands and knees, she listed like she was bad drunk, blackout drunk, and she had her share of grim memories with which she could compare the moment. They spread out in her mind like a fresh hand of cards.


Zhavi blinked.


"Smokes," she said, her voice little more than a harsh breath of noise. She shifted her weight to one hand, her other starting to come up before she thought better of it and kept her weight as evenly spread as she could.


Blood was dripping onto the ground from her nose.

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Itwasn't until she was a smear on the ground that his aggression stopped like a freight train that had torn a vehicle in two. He was panting, hunched over, his hair a mess and his breath ragged. He'd wipe a thin film of sweat from his brow with the back of his hand before standing up. This was a horrible idea indeed, what's worse was he went along with it, too. “Hey..” He'd fetch a hand rolled cigarette from a pocket near his chest, but wouldn't quite hand it to her yet. Something that moment had changed, and he'd not realize it until later.


C'mon,let's get you out of here-” One arm goes under her pit and the other hoists her up off the ground. He carries her like a wounded soldier, but if she's able to walk, let alone stand, he'll aim her in the direction of the inn. “You better pray he has a soft spot for women in distress.” His gut wrenched with the guilt of having just done this, but at the same time, the business aspect of his selfish mind told him to just shrug it off.

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Walking wasn't the problem, it was the dazed fog that crept over her balance no matter how many times she blinked it away. Something something glass jaw -- she'd always fervently deny her own inability to take a good few punches to her head, but right then she wasn't fooling anybody.


Somehow, her hand had found its way to his jacket, and she clutched at it. "Put me up," she said, words mushy and raw. She spat to clear her mouth, but the aim was sloppy. Saliva and blood dribbled over the edge of her lower lip, forming a string she wiped off on the back of her free arm.



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Hefelt her grab at his coat but thought nothing about it. He was mostly concerned with getting her off the street, and getting her that smoke. The cigarette was pressed to her bloody lips and a match pulled from a box. “Here-” He'd wipe her mouth with the back of his sleeve before shaking his head. “Let's go, off the streets.” With how he moved, he didn't seem to concerned with her well being, but the drive was there. “I'll even buy you the first round..” but there was no smirk, “but we've got to go.”

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For three blissful seconds, Zhi inhaled. Perfection.


Then she exhaled, and she coughed. Fecking Nald'thal, his idea of a joke. That was how the scales balanced. Always.


"I'll buy yer whore. . .later," Zhi spat the words out at the ground, the intended snark falling flat and pitiful. "Ye. . . got fleas?"


Jager had taken most of her weight. She didn't like that. Didn't like most things, especially when they weren't part of the deal. What were freebies between partners?




The road beneath their feet was rough, and glistening in the moonlight. Shallow puddles dotted its surface, hiding a multitude of sins.


He hadn't broken anything. That was nice.


Her hip felt right fecked: every step jolted pain up into her jaw. Didn't really make sense that the two were connected, but it wasn't anything else. The rest of her face was mostly dull, throbbing, sharp aches. Not stabbing pain.


Had the streets always been so long? She was used to lying facedown on them until the next morning, or afternoon. Whenever the world stopped dancing a jig between her ears and setting her to spinning.

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Jagerhadn't really noticed the time of night, nor the lack of traffic on the streets. He'd been so pressed to get her off them, he failed to realize there really wasn't any rush. At least, in terms of getting caught. But honestly, who exactly was he afraid of being caught by? This was the man who had stabbed a Yellow Jacket right in the spine without hesitation. This was the man who opened fire on a barge and sank it in the dark of the night. And to some, he was even the man who had been so bold as to bring a new game to a tavern full of drunken thugs. So just what exactly was he in a rush to avoid?


His conscious?




Iwouldn't trust one of your whores if'n I'd gone dry for a week.” Heh. Even with a bloody smirk, she had time for snark-sarcasm. “And of course I don't have fleas.. Best keep yours to yourself, too. I'll smash them next.” The humor was grim between these two. It wasn't long, despite what Zahvi might think, before they were walking along the bridge towards the inn. He'd continue to take a majority of her weight from her, if only because she hardly had any to begin with. Still, when they made it inside he was quick about dismissing any raised brows and helped shuffle her up the stairs.



I'llkeep you here until your knight in shining armor fills his role, aye? Wait here, I'll be back.” 

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The cigarette was hanging off of Zhi's lower lip as they crested the second floor. She blinked (the outer portion of her right eye was starting to swell, pushing in over the eye and pulsing its hurt in time to the rest of her body), and somehow they were in the room when she opened her eyes.


"They like. . . t'share," she said; too late. He'd gone without hearing her return on the fleas. Too bad. She fell onto the bed. She was fairly clean lately, though she suspected she'd not gotten rid of all of them. Fleas and lice were like that; take out a whole tribe and then the next round would hatch and it would start all over again.


She gasped. Falling onto the bed had been the wrong move, and her head swam. She closed her eyes, turned her head to the side. The blood from her nose, from her tongue and the places where her teeth had cut up the insides of her mouth had started to slow. It dribbled out onto the bed. She was breathing through her mouth, and even that hurt.


She closed her eyes, and wondered if it would be worth it.


She wondered if Lalataru would see through her charade.


She wondered if she would die.


"Jager," she said, not sure if he was in the room. She was a little less dizzy when she kept her eyes closed. In the overall scheme of things, it helped so little as to be laughable. She kept them shut anyways.


Reaching up, Zhi held the cigarette as she took a long drag, coughing and sputtering on the exhale. She shook, felt vulnerable and hated it. Hated that she had to wait in order to steady her breathing. Hated the convulsion in her stomach, the acrid taste of blood and bile in her mouth. Hated lots of things. What a scrag she was to keep coming up with such shitty plans.

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Jagerwasn't gone long. A few minutes, just enough to build up a small box of supplies: rags, suture kit, a small jar of cream looking paste, few things in boxes and two bottles clinking together with each step he took. He heard his name just outside the door and he paused awkwardly in behind it. Knock, “Hey.” Why? “You alive?” He was joking, but had to look to make sure. “I swear if I find a single flea in that bed..” Said jokingly, also, but clearly not a joke. He dropped the box on the table and spun a chair around so he could sit beside the bed. “Sit up, you're bleeding everywhere-” Rag one was taken and her head was held dominantly. It was cupped just under her jaw and strong fingers held her demandingly instead of comfortingly. It was hard to actually look her in the eyes- well, eye; one was swelling shut. “This has to be your worst idea yet. You know that?” Of course she knew. 

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"Huh," Zhi said. She opened her left eye. "Too late. Yer smokes. . .stale." She extended the offending cigarette towards him. Her eye lit upon him, then traveled down to his supplies. She pushed herself up with a wince, sat crosslegged on the bed.


"Joz wouldn't have most o' that," she said slowly while he took her head in hand. She ignored his smack talking about her ideas. Like he had room to chivvy her. Talking hurt. His fingers hurt. "Basics only."


She looked up at him, expression as sour as she could make it.


Expressions hurt.

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WellI guess Joz just happened to have bumpedinto a kind stranger, before meeting an even kindertarget.” He shrugged and ignored her protest. It was one thing to beat someone else' face in, be it man or woman, but another to do so without reason. There was no retaliation, there was no aggression, it was an unarmed target he was ordered to obliterate; obliterate he did, too. In a sick way, it almost felt a little too militaristic for him. He wasn't ordered to think, he was ordered to execute command. That's how Rourk put it, at least.


I'llroll some fresh ones in a bit, I think you more than earned a fresh bag of leaf, yeah?” It was hard for him to show sincerity, it wasn’t in his character. But he felt guilt, and he felt it washing away at his conscious like the tide wearing down the rock to a dangerous cliff. She was a business partner, not a friend; she was an acquaintance.. not a friend.


Friendsdidn't beat each other down in one sided fights. But they sure did pick each other up out of that bloody pile, when it was all said and done.


Thiswas ridiculous.



Youhave any idea where you're going to find this guy?” She might have told him. He might have ignored her. 

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Zhi closed her eye for a long moment. She went still. Then she reached up, took hold of the wrist of the hand that held her jaw. "Yeah," she said, "I did." She opened her eye, and stared up at him hard. "Don't feck. . .me take. Nothin' fancy." Her words couldn't carry the bite she'd intended to put in them, so she stared at him, stubborn as any cat.


She didn't deign reply to his last question. She wanted to make sure he understood. Dangerous new ground between them. Untread. Untested.

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