“Oh, don’t you worry. I’m taken care of.” the petite girl smiled, shaking her blonde curls out.
“Got a father? Or a boyfriend? They’re not taking very good care of you if they’re letting you wander this way, sweet thing.” She could see that he was itching to reach out and stroke her cheek, but he had to make sure she wasn’t connected to someone powerful before he did so. He didn’t have it in his heart to kill her.
Unfortunately for him, she was connected to someone powerful, but not anyone he was thinking of. Her father or her boyfriend wasn’t going to sweep in to save her. But the next man who entered—well, he was sort of the one who set her free.
He looked at the guy, looked at her, and then rushed forward. “Donnet! What in the world are you doing?”
“Butt out, Markl, This lady and I are getting acquainted.”
“Donnet. Do you know who she is? That is one of Bryna’s girls.” Markl whispered, and Donnet took several steps back away from Charlotte.
Charlotte tilted her head to one side, and smiled. “I told you I was taken care of.”
“Yeah—but—Bryna’s girls? Oh fuck, Miss, I didn’t know.” Donnet started backing up slowly, “Please, I just—don’t. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. “At that, both Markl and Donnet turned tail and ran. Charlotte smiled, and twisted her hair back and up into a knot on the top of her head. It was a shame. Donnet had been cute. She wasn’t going to report him unless she had to.
Bryna’s girls were protected, in this city, and in most of the ones surrounding it.
Bryna was known for really taking care of her girls, girls that she picked up because they had nowhere else to go, no one to speak for them, or take care of them, so she took on that role. After all, Bryna had known what it was like to grow up alone, and she was more than willing to stand up for those who she leant her name to.
What most people didn’t know, was that it wasn’t really Bryna who had formed this group, who had decided to take all of the poor helpless girls under her wing. No, that was mostly Charlotte. Charlotte had found Bryna years ago, and noticed that Bryna was very good and doing what needed to be done. So Charlotte took to following Bryna around, watching her, keeping notes in her head. Eventually, she worked up the courage to approach her, and ask for her help. Charlotte want to know how to do what needed to be done too.
Bryna said no. She said it quietly, and tried not to embarrass the girl, but she had been on her own so long, she didn’t trust anyone. A little part of her was bitter. Bryna had to learn it all without any guidance, so why should she guide the little pipsqueak, especially considering she was a pretty little thing, and could easily make a life for herself in a woman’s house where men would pay to just look at her. Not touch her, just look at her. Bryna hadn’t had that option.
But Charlotte wouldn’t take no for an answer. She continued to follow Bryna, to study her, to figure it all out. She never asked Bryna again, or even approached her again for that matter, but she always made sure to be just visible enough to make sure that Bryna knew she was there, even if no one else did.
But it was a day much like today. Charlotte had stopped paying attention for just a moment too long, and a boy who didn’t want to just look at her found her. But then she didn’t have anyone to take care of her or speak for her, and she certainly didn’t know how to fight yet. She was absolutely terrified, and she started praying her final prayers, sure that she was going to die in that moment.
She did not expect Bryna to show up. Apparently, when Bryna noticed that Charlotte wasn’t hovering around while she was eating dinner, she got curious (and in spite of herself, slightly concerned). She came looking for her, and was absolutely livid to find a man preparing to attack her the way he was. Bryna put that man swiftly into his place, telling him right then and there, that she was protected by her. The man didn’t even stick around to fight Bryna. Even then, she had a bit of a reputation for being able to kick anyone’s ass, and that man was not about to stick around to find out if it was true. Bryna asked if Charlotte was hurt. Charlotte told her she wasn’t, and then Bryna left the alley again, without another word.
For the next two seasons, it was like nothing had changed. Bryna didn’t acknowledge that Charlotte was around. Charlotte never approached Bryna. But every night, they made sure that they knew where the other was. Just in case.
It was Charlotte once again who made the next move. She approached Bryna again, this time not pleading for Bryna to teach her, but with a list of what Bryna already had taught her, and what she thought that Charlotte could do for her in return. They came to a rough agreement. Bryna would be the name, the face, and the fear. Charlotte would watch, quietly, and do what she could from the shadows. They would play to both of their strengths.
Charlotte started steering young girls towards Bryna when they showed promise. Bryna never said no to a girl that came with Charlotte’s recommendation. They were quite the interesting pair, and they made the world safer for girls who had nowhere else to turn.