An anachronistic gentleman master thief by trade, yet to the woman stood motionless by the wreckage of the Atlesian ship they had hijacked, Roman Torchwick was so much more. An apparition of his smooth-talking tones was fashioned by an immature, foolish mind driven by pure desperation to contradict the scene before her. Her mind knew the words it needed to break its master, buckle her knees to the tarmac, discard any resolve she had built. For months she had kept the crazed lion in her head restrained with serene, innate calm. In the assassin-for-hire business there was no other choice for those who did not wish to be ravaged by guilt and grief.
Now it was set running free as the ghost-voice spoke to her, her lion tearing at her stomach as it turned again.
"Are you okay, ice cream?"
It sounded like him and for the briefest of moments she was fooled, mismatched eyes scouring the debris for the slightest sign of movement. Her employer, her partner, her friend, her saviour. She eventually spotted his firebrand curls, dishevelled and dimmed to brick red by dust, peeking teasingly out of the lowermost layer of rubble. Roman was pinned to the ground, frost-white. She did not feel her knees buckle nor did she feel pain splitting through her knees as they smacked to the ground. What hurt was her lungs as they fought against her panic for breath, her shaky legs that vibrated as she stood again - not as a show of stubbornness or strength - to get near to her dearest, perhaps even only, friend.
Beyond question he was gone, green eyes open but unseeing, filled with permanent shock. Her unused voice pained her more than the other sensation, but the man crushed by the ship's detonation deserved her words even if she should never speak again. It was only him she had ever spoken to since their first meeting.
"What has the devil-girl done to you, my beautiful Roman?"
He had been beautiful. Nothing could say otherwise. His cheeks were chilled so her fingers, spurred on by hope, jerked away again.
"You alright, ice cream?"
"You aren't real," she murmured, pressing her lips into a thin line, closing her eyes against both him and a wave of tears. Her job was to defend her inamorata and assist him in his work. At this realisation, her mental lion stalked down and tore away at her heart. The realisation that she had failed Roman Torchwick, the one who believed in only the two of them, hurt most of all. You'll never take us alive, they'd said, foresworn partners in crime. She had busted him out of the stony lonesome once or twice at the expense of their clients' dirty work - he'd have hated to miss all the fun, after all.
The first time they met he had come down a dark alleyway and saved her, then a Beacon Academy lass, from an adult assailant way too strong for any seventeen year old combatant to face. He was a year her senior, yet had never attended Beacon, having a rather different ideal than that of selflessly saving those who could not defend themselves. So why her? From that moment she owed him a life debt, but why had he...?
Thus, Neopolitan, daughter of a pair of Mistral nobles, gave up on her parents' dream for her; being a Huntress. Right before Roman's eyes, Neopolitan chose her new appearance, never to be a trust fund child ever again. Her popularity and riches had gotten her attacked, so she chose to leave both behind.
"You alright, ice cream?" Roman had asked her, observing the new face. "I don't think 'Neopolitan' suits you so well anymore."
She nodded stubbornly. "Yes, I'm fine."
Her injuries are making her flicker from being to being, so Roman was treated with the sight of a red flower blossoming against her shirt that spoke volumes to the contrary. Lying was as easy for Neopolitan as seeing through lies was to Roman.
"Your semblance is valuable."
Neopolitan tensed in on herself, defensive.
"Your fighting style, however..." Roman's green hues drifted meaningfully towards the shards of silver blade she had gathered behind her. "New person, new weapon, perhaps?"
"I'm going to call you Neo. And you know who I am, don't you? And what I can offer you."
She nodded silently again at the redhead, who helped her up, leaving the pieces of sword behind them.
"Neo," she tested it out on her tongue, "I like it."
"Anyways, I'm Roman Torchwick. Best thief around, but I'm not exactly welcome here, so we'll have to be fast."