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Thick as Thieves

Chapter Text

Always hit where the mark isn't looking

I can steal anything

I'll steal your heart

It's showtime.

 ~~

The night was perfect, studded with stars, the dark sky dotted with constellations. A breeze shifted through the air, shifting the king’s unruly hair, the moonlight reflecting off of the hook situated neatly on his arm. The past few nights had had nothing short of dreadful weather, and it was the first time in a few nights when the moon could be seen, hanging in the sky like a halo above the world. So he’d decided to take the opportunity to take a walk, away from all of the business of the court. Being a king was appallingly exhausting, and he’d needed a breath of fresh air. Though his guards followed at a close distance away, he still found the walk refreshing.

            After a short time, he made his way back to his chambers, giving a goodnight to his guards and wandering over to his desk to pour himself a glass of wine. It had been a gift from one of the barons, and he’d been itching to try it at a time when he wasn’t being watched. He poured himself a glass, sighing contently as the sweetness rolled over his tongue.

            He soon finished the glass and set it back on the desk, then made his way over to his bed and prepared to go to sleep. He was grateful that he’d gotten to go on the walk, but he had an early meeting with his advisors the next morning, and he’d been feeling more tired in the last couple days. As he closed his eyes, he didn’t notice the tingling sensation creeping over his body, didn’t notice the room around him fade away.

            He didn’t notice the faint light of crimson moonbeams streaming softly through the window.

            And when the king did wake up, it was still night.

            Only, he wasn’t in Attolia anymore.

~~

Another day done, another profit made.

            The boy sat quietly at his desk, counting the day’s earnings, his cane leaning against its side. Though he was alone, he didn’t strip off his gloves. His coffee sat untouched and cold at the corner of the desk.

            Everyone else in the Club had already gone to sleep, but he wouldn’t. Even though the day was over, there would always be things to do. More jobs to take, more deals to sign off on, more kruge to count.

            But…it was almost too silent. He’d grown used to the Wraith not being here, grown used to the fact that everyone had gone on their separate ways after the auction. Sometimes, even in the earliest hours of the morning, he would hear the barest shuffle of people moving around and mixing up cards, but now, even though the full moon had just risen, there was absolutely no noise whatsoever. Strange.

            He swiftly finished counting the money, then stood up, wincing at the dull throb of his leg, then grabbing his cane. He glanced briefly out the window and then turned to leave, when he nearly did a double take and turned back.

He could’ve sworn he imagined it, but for the briefest second, he’d seen the moon flash red.

He blinked quickly and then the moon’s color was back to normal. He shook his head in disbelief. Something was wrong.

He quickly left the room, then made his way carefully down the many flights of stairs until he reached the bottom.

He pulled open the door of the Crow Club, eyes widening at where he was. A long hallway with white walls and a gray ceiling, several doors running the length of it in both directions. Somewhere in the distance he heard shouting, the sound of another boy laughing, then an explosion. He saw the briefest hint of white smoke, heard footsteps moving at a rapid pace.

“Well I’ll be damned,” said Kaz Brekker. “Where the hell am I?”

~~

            The teen silently pocketed his knife as the Shadow hit the floor with a thunk.

            Honestly, this particular job was proving easier than most. This Palace in particular had many more Shadow guards than normal, but it was definitely much bigger than the others they’d entered.

            He let out a breath and wiped some of the sweat off of his forehead and adjusted the collar of his black leather trench coat. He and the rest of the Phantoms had agreed to reconvene at the Palace’s main hall after gathering intel, and it was time to head back. He motioned to the cat beside him to follow, stealthily trying to make his way back.

            It was only a few minutes later when they turned another hall that the cat frowned. “Are you sure this is the right way? Something feels off.”

            The teen nodded, though he agreed. Something did feel different. They were still in the Palace, but it was as if the atmosphere had changed. Everything…felt different. He couldn’t quite explain it, but as soon as they’d entered that hall, it was as if they’d entered another world.

            The cat shook his head. “Ah…never mind. We’ll figure it out once we meet up with everyone else.”

            The teen nodded again. One more hallway to go, then they’d be back to the main hall…

            When they arrived, he used one hand to pull open the door, but kept the other on his knife in case if something popped out at them.

            All of a sudden, a breeze rushed in. The teen squinted at the sudden moonlight. He took a cautious few steps out—not the main hall. It seemed like they were on the roof of some building, many, many floors up. Below, near the foot of the building, he heard people shouting and the sound of police sirens. It definitely wasn’t the building they’d entered originally. He looked back towards the door, expecting to see the halls of the Palace behind him, but saw nothing but a dark stairwell.

            “Uh, Joker…?” Morgana whispered. “I don’t think we’re in the Metaverse anymore…”

            As they stepped further out on the roof, they suddenly heard footsteps echoing from near the bottom of the staircase. They heard shouting just behind it. Without hesitation, they pressed themselves up against the wall, ready to attack, when they saw the figure in white race out through the door. Clutched in his white gloved hand was a gem of some kind, the moonlight bouncing off of its brilliant red.