Been a few things going missing lately, says Droog, not even looking up from his newspaper. So what, you say? A few things like entire weapons shipments, says Droog, and puts out his cigarette. You don't say anything to that. You just stand up and grab your hat. He gets the idea.
It isn't hard to get to the bottom of things. You shake enough guys off of roofs by their ankles, you get pretty good at it -- and Boxcars has a lot of practice. There's a new gang in town, and they've been muscling in on your territory. That's fine, you say. You've got a name, and an address, and you've got Lefty and Righty. Those are your fists, you clarify to the terrified patsy, a moment before Boxcars lets go of his feet, and lets him fall four stories, headfirst. With a skull that thick, you figure he'll be fine.
The four of you hit the road, now that you know who to look for. The Felt. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Deuce asks from the backseat of the getaway van, while you sulk. No one laughs when you crack a joke about knocking the stuffing out of them. It doesn't matter. This'll be an easy job.
You hadn't expected the big guys in green.
They took you by surprise, caught you off guard, with your pants down. Whichever way you say it, you're fucked. They've got each of you in a different corner of the bar -- the "bar", bullshit, if this is a bar, then your underground headquarters is a hideyhole. There are hallways throughout the block, staircases leading through apartments and storage rooms, and you realise too late that these jokers own the entire complex. They cornered you in an old storage hall, filled with musical instruments and a whole lotta dust. You know about the dust, since you got a face full of it when the guy in the sleek coattails tackled you.
Your face hasn't left the floor since, what with the fist on the back of your neck. There's another on your shoulder, and another on your elbow, with your arms all twisted up and pinned behind your back. There's two of them holding you, arguing, and a smaller guy off to the side. He's a tiny little slip of a boy, with a flower tucked into his lapels. He keeps giving you this look and grinning, and while the bruisers holding you down bicker with each other he chimes something matter-of-factly.
The door opens with a bam, slammed into the opposite wall by a meaty fist, and you almost laugh at the sight of this guy. He's huge, he's built like a fucking mountain, but he's got this tiny little blue striped hat, and it just looks completely no no no no
Thank you, Sawbuck.
no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no she's dead no no no
Well, if it isn't mister... What is it you're going by, now?
no no no no no no no she was dead, she had to be dead, no way no way no no no
Oh, right. Spades Slick. How charming.
no no no you are so fucked. You are completely and utterly fucked. This is not the first time you have looked at a situation and thought 'this is it, this is how I'm going to die'. But it's the first time that you really, truly believed it. She takes a few slow, casual steps into the room, and the mooks in green all stand up just a little straighter. She's different, of course -- it's been years, small wonder she's changed -- but you can't really change the way she lowers the room temperature three degrees just by walking into it. Besides, she still has the same sharp features, the same green eyes, the same legs that go all the way up. The same cock in her hip that lets you know she knows you're looking at her legs. The same cigarette dangling from her fingers -- Cameo, menthol -- the thought occurs to you unbidden, instinctive after years of having to mumble the brand to vendors. She gives a sharp nod to the two guys on you, who ease you up onto your knees, but keep your arms pinned behind your back.
Well, I did tell you that you'd kneel for me again.
Oh, that does it. You can't be scared when you're this angry -- you just don't have the brainpower for more than one emotion at a time. You crane your neck up to face her, sneering as best you can, and snarl that you only kneel for royalty.
Her heel comes crashing into your temple full force, and before you can twist away and shake the blood out of your eyes, she brings her foot down on your face again.
You spit a gob of blood at the ground between her toes, grinning up at her with red seeping between your teeth. You're a little disappointed when this display of total batshit insanity doesn't make her quake in her stiletto boots (it always unnerves the kids that want to play tough guy down at the docks).
You took everything from me, Noir. She whispers that last syllable, so quietly you almost think you might have imagined it. But the look on her face says otherwise, that same knowing smirk that you spent every fucking day just itching to slap off of her mouth.
She reaches down to grasp your chin, tilting your head up until you think your neck might snap. All of a sudden her mouth is half an inch away from your ear, and for a feverishly confused second you almost think she's leaning in to kiss you. She doesn't, but her lips brush against the scraggly excuse for five-o-clock shadow at the corner of your jaw, and it sends a jolt through you when she whispers And I plan to return the favour.
As quickly as she ducked in, she's straightening her spine and miles above you, taking a drag from what's left of her cigarette. Drop him, boys. She says smoothly, and turns on a dime to saunter away. You're not the only one who watches her retreating back, though there's a significant focus on the lower section.
Oh, and by the way? She pauses at the door, and you can't help but notice the way she doesn't look over her shoulder at you. Almost as though you aren't worth looking at. The name is Snowman, if you were wondering.
The mooks holding your arms finally ease up, and you go crashing to the floor again as they rise to join her. Now surrounded by almost a half dozen of the jerks in green, she cranes her neck to eye you, something almost like pity in her eyes.
The Midnight Crew isn't the only gang in town, anymore. Snowman drawls, and flicks a lock of hair out of her eyes. You'll be hearing from the Felt again, and soon.
And then they're gone, having filed out the door and vanished down the twisting hallways, no doubt to emerge at the least opportune time -- for someone else, of course. You feel like you were just hit by a semitruck, one full of bricks and whiskey.
You wipe some of the blood off of your forehead and stumble to your feet, feeling distinctly unsettled. There's the old, familiar taste of bile rising in your throat, and you curse the day she was ever born to crawl this damned planet. It occurs to you that you should go after them, try to track them down, show that condescending bitch a thing or two about how the Midnight Crew responded to threats--
It occurs to you that she did tell you that you'd kneel for her again. More importantly, a split second later, it occurs to you that shut the fuck up, and you want a drink.