Snow took a deep breath and repeated herself. "I said, I quit. I'm done with the Sabers. I'm done with the bullshit."
And I'm done with Kel, she added mentally. But that was another story--one that her brother definitely didn't need to hear.
The large, half-German man looked unmoved. Folding his muscular arms, he gave her a contemptuous look.
"Just like that huh? Just that easy?"
His tone was deliberate, but she could tell there was a storm building up in his deep blue eyes--their mother's eyes. For some reason, it was always at these times that she couldn't help but take stock of just how different she and Mikhail were. Even by appearance, she was night and he was day.
Snow kept her gaze intently on the space beyond her brother’s shoulder.
“Yeah. You got a problem with that?”
There was a tangible drop in air pressure as Mikhail inhaled, as if all the oxygen in the room was being sucked into his massive lungs. Snow leaned her weight into table she was perched against and braced herself. She had been anticipating her brother’s reaction from the moment she'd made up her mind to come home.
"You disobey my rules and run away from my house. You don't call or text for damn near four years and get yourself mixed up in fuck knows what kind of shit. Two months ago, you bring a fucking hooligan half-drowned in gasoline to my doorstep. And now you're done? Just like that?”
Snow rolled her shoulders and checked her nails. Her brother certainly wasn’t done.
“Do you think everything in life's just some sort of fucked up game?! Like you can just stroll in and out of the biggest fucking gang in Gotham like you can your own family?!"
Snow squeezed her eyes shut and felt her own bile rise to a boiling point. Now he'd crossed the line.
"That's some nerve you've got bringing up family, Fubuki.” She spat the name out, finally meeting his gaze with a cool befitting her name. "The Kurogane clan was dishonored by treachery and deceit, and your answer was to run away while Father and aniki drowned in their own blood--the fuck do you know about family?"
She shifted lithely as a fist crashed into the dry wall behind her.
Right on the money. Snow fleered without enthusiasm and took a seat neatly in the chair he had abandoned.
Footsteps came rushing down the stairs. Mikhail didn’t bother withdrawing his hand before he sent his other fist crashing through the yet-unharmed expanse of wall right next to the first hole. He was practically fuming from the ears, veins standing out from the well-defined muscles in his arms and neck.
"Don't. You. Ever--"
And without warning, his wife Dallandra was there. Coaxing him, whispering something urgently by his ear.
Snow couldn't help but watch in awe as her brother's expression transformed from blind rage to smothered exasperation and finally to defeat in a matter of seconds.
Collapsing into an armchair hard enough that the legs made an audible screech against the linoleum, he resumed his smoldering glare as he brushed flakes of plaster and fiberglass from his knuckles.
"So what the hell are you doing here?" he growled.
Releasing a breath she didn't realize she was holding, Snow fished a cigarette out of her purse and shrugged as she lit it.
"Simple. You deal what I want," she replied, as casually as she could manage. “What they all want.”
Smoke unfurled through the space between them, dressing the silence in the room with a nebulous haze. Her hand trembled involuntarily as she tapped the ash from the cigarette and watched out of the corner of her eye as realization dawned on the man.
"Nymph..? You got hooked on.. Nymph?"
Snow found she could no longer meet his gaze.
"It was an accident, okay? I mean--it doesn't really matter how it happened. What’s done is done. It wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t help it. I...I’m sorry."
Even in her own ears, the words sounded weak and meaningless. But it wasn’t her fault that Tony Lester was running a whorehouse under the old club and using drugs to control his girls. It wasn’t her fault that her only ticket out was falling in with the Sabers and that Kel exacerbated her addiction. She didn’t know until it was all too late, so it wasn’t her fault. Right?
"Why didn’t you ever tell me..?"
His anger replaced by incredulity, her brother suddenly sounded very tired and out of place.
"I'll go straighten up your room," Dallandra said.
"I'm sorry.." Snow found herself repeating lamely, as she snuffed out the cigarette.
Mikhail shook his head and ran his hands over his face.
"Christ," was all he could say.