Thick smog made Jay’s hair stick uncomfortably against his neck as he slithered through the alleyways of the Isle. Silently, he ran at the market buildings outer wall, using it as a push-off point to climb to the rooftop of the warehouse beside it. Loud clanging and hollering could be heard from down the west road as a few men stood around a dumpster fire, beer cans littered the ground around them; Jay groaned when he saw his father passed out on a pile of trash some feet away from the group. Dropping down the drainpipe of the warehouse, Jay squatted near his father. Immediately he held his hand up to his face trying to block the odor of vomit and alcohol that was coming off of him in waves.
“Dad? Dad, c’mon, let’s get out of here,” Jay muttered, shaking his father’s shoulder. The man barely budged and swatted his hand away when he attempted to shake his shoulder again.
“Would you fucking quit that?! Go home, Jayden,” Jafar hissed, turning his back to him and slinking deeper into the soiled clothes he had used to prop himself up. Jay moved forward again and almost immediately jumped back as his father heaved and retched across the pavement before falling unconscious again. Sighing, Jay propped his father up slightly to prevent him from choking and slunk back off into the night. Yet another night in an empty house was less than appealing at the moment, and so Jay once again clambered to the rooftops.
The wind was merciless on the roofs, but it pulled his sweat-slicked hair away from his face as he peered up into the night sky. The cloudy overcast prevented him from seeing the stars, and the faint glow of the streetlights was barely enough to light his way as he jumped soundlessly from rooftop to rooftop in search of foolishly left open windows.
A small window was left cracked open, and Jay instantly recognized it as the De Vil House. The bitch always came into the shop demanding better prices for some of the more exotic animals they had acquired. Jay could easily recall the last visit she had made, cursing at his father and spitting in his face as she snatched up her latest purchase and left. A few days later, Cruella had a new purse and vivid red nails that reminded Jay just a little too much of fresh blood. Knowing he could at least get a few new items for the shop, he smirked and glanced quickly inside to see if anyone was in the room. Nothing. His smirk widened to a full blown grin as he clambered through the window into the small tattered room.
Torn furs littered the floor, and peeling wallpaper revealed yellow smoke stained walls that oozed out water and mould. Making quick work of a few of the cleaner mink scarfs, Jay sauntered towards the closet hoping for the jackpot: a fur coat that Cruella would just have to conveniently buy back once she realized it was gone. The closet door creaked quietly as he pulled it open and Jay froze waiting to see if anyone had heard him. When no lights came on, he allowed himself a small breathless laugh to relieve the tension and pulled the door open the rest of the way.
Inside was not at all what he expected. An array of rusty spikes protruded from the walls, and dirty bloodstained rags made up most of the flooring that wasn’t covered by grisly looking traps. One still had the remnants of its victim’s blood coating the teeth. Shuddering, Jay was about to close the door and leave, when a rustling sound came from somewhere deep within the dark of the closet. Holding his breath while unsheathing the small blade he kept in his leather jacket, Jay crept further forward into the closet. The rustling continued from under a small sheet in the farthest corner, and in a burst of courage Jay flung the sheet back and met the dark eyes of a small boy who shrunk back so fast his head hit the wall with an echoing thump.
“Shut up,” Jay hissed, turning towards the doorway again. The boy seemed too afraid to argue, but Jay did not miss the way his eyes flickered from the knife in his hand to his face and back again.
“Wh-who are you?” the boy whispered when it appeared the coast was clear and Jay tucked his knife away again. Instead of answering, Jay felt around for a light switch as he gently closed the closet door over again. When he found the small dangling chain, he pulled and a single lightbulb flared to life above Jay. The boy’s features finally came into focus as he squinted at the sudden light.
A dusting of golden freckles was marred by a fading blue bruise along the boy’s right cheek and his body seemed to curl in slightly on itself, unconsciously on the defensive, as the boy shifted to a crouch. His hair stood out starkly in the drab room, a mixture of white tips and black roots that placed the boy as Cruella’s son, Carlos De Vil. Despite this, Jay had a hard time placing his age because of his slight frame, the simple black and white polka-dotted shirt hung lightly off his sharp collarbones but the intelligence behind his eyes was unmistakeable.
“I asked you a question,” Carlos grumbled, crossing his arms grumpily. “If you’re going to so rudely come into my room, I want to know who you are.”
Jay gawked at the boy as he glanced around his….room. Was this whole damn family deranged?
“The people call me the King of Thieves, but you can call me Jay,” he offered cockily, crossing his own arms as he made sure to tower over the small boy. “And I was just leaving, actually, but first-“his voice cut off as he snagged a small red beanie off the floor and pulled his hair back out of his face before pulling the beanie on.
“Hey! Give that back!” Carlos growled, scrambling to his feet. Too late. His hand closed on empty air as Jay ran out of the door and swung back out the open window, laughing wholeheartedly as he stuffed his pickings into various hidden pockets in his jacket.
“JAY!!” Carlos screamed and Jay looked back just in time to see the boy being pulled back from the window by his hair. Ignoring the gnawing feeling of guilt that struck his chest as he watched Cruella shove the boy away from the window with a resounding crack to the face. Jay forced himself to turn away and pulled the stolen beanie further down over his ears. What he didn’t see was the devastation in Carlos’ eyes as he watched the only gift he’d ever received from his father bound away through the night.