The sounds of carving out a liver could barely be heard over the ambient nightlife, whose piercing wail was only dimmed by the high, narrow walls of the alley.
Pitch didn’t notice the grave robber until he pulled away, organ neatly stowed in his cooler.
“Come to scavenge?”
Jack slid silently off of the rough brick, approaching on unsteadily steady feet. Pitch stood his ground until Jack was close enough to pluck at his silicone and leather, “And maybe pillage. Got anything for me to take?”
“Nothing worth anything to you,” Pitch stepped back quickly, dislodging Jack’s eager fingers, “only a rapidly cooling soul.”
“Oh!” Jack perked, standing on his toes to put himself right back in the Repo Man’s personal space, “I’ll take your soul.” He tipped his chin and gave Pitch a hot look, “I’ll keep it warm until you’re ready to come take it back.”
Pitch allowed Jack close, allowed himself to loom dangerously over the shorter man, “I tend to take more than a soul when I visit.”
But Jack was used to the world of danger. He and the Repo Man ran in all the same circles.
Jack stretched until his feet ached, tilted his face up invitingly. Pitch could take what he wanted. Jack wanted it.
Pitch leaned in the barest inch and Jack’s heart sang for only a moment before the Repo Man turned away, hiding his face in the shadows cast by neon lights. His footsteps were only audible when they splashed in shallow pools of what might be water, could be anything.
“You’ll want to be gone soon.”
Jack wanted to be found soon.
Dyed bright leather stood out in the dark streets. The sheen and shine of plastic made Tooth’s dark entourage just as noticeable as her.
Sera plastered herself to the wall of the alley. It smelled horrible and she had no idea what she just stepped in, but getting noticed by someone who didn’t mind being noticed in this city hardly ever worked out well.
And she recognized this woman. Tooth’s image was all over the city, always smiling, always showing off her beautiful, perfect teeth.
“Sometimes I wonder,” Tooth muttered as she turned the corner, “why I need you at all.”
That was when Sera’s hiding place utterly failed her and Tooth’s eyes widened in surprise. She was so innocent, so little and scared and Tooth was drawn right over to her.
“What do we have here? Oh dear, you’re not lost are you?”
Sera wished she was a little more lost. Her father was overprotective, sure, but he wasn't completely wrong. People had a bit of a tendency to end up dead around Manny’s children.
“I'm fine, Miss,” because staring blankly wasn't going to get her out of this, “I was just-”
“No, don't worry,” Tooth reassured. She reached out with her arms as if to shield Sera from the world, “I'll keep you safe. And you'll have all the nicest things, like-”
“You called?” Jack interrupted smoothly, slipping from the mouth of the alley and right past Sera without even a look. It worked though, Tooth was drawn after him and forgot all about her.
Tooth sidled up next to him and brushed her fingers along his arm, “Mm, I need a hit and one to go.”
Jack caught her arm as they fell around his neck and turned one soft side up for a quick injection, “You don't need anything, Tooth. You're beautiful.”
“What a sweet lie,” she sighed as she melted against him. He was sweet. He was always so sweet. That was why they loved him. “But they're stained already and they've never been straight. You know I need them to be straight…”
He did, and he knew fighting her delusions was a losing battle but always worth a shot. He shuffled through his pockets for a vial at the same time she recovered enough to pay him. He didn't resist when she insisted on putting it in his pockets for him, but he did make a point of steering her away from Sera on her way back to GeneCo.
As soon as the last rainbow reflection was gone from sight, Sera emerged from the shadows she found to hide in. Unexpectedly, or maybe Jack should have seen it coming, the drug dealing wasn't what offended her the most.
“I thought you loved my dad.”
“Then why’d you let her be all over you like that?” Sera demanded the way only a teenage girl could.
“Because she doesn't want me,” Jack shrugged, already leading her back toward home, “but she would as soon as I said no. This world doesn't make sense, Sera. You should stay out of it as long as you can.”
“I can handle it, Jack,” as soon as anyone would just explain to her what it was she needed to handle that is, “I can't stay a little girl forever.”
Jack smiled and pulled her in for a peck of a kiss on the top of her head, “No, but it would be nice if you could.”
Jack wasn’t tall, but Sera was so slight and plenty good at climbing. He only had to boost her up, and she handled the rest, slipping over the railing and into the safety of her room.
She turned back, but Jack didn’t know why. She wished him goodnight, but Jack wasn’t going to have one. She had too pure a heart for him to ever let her know that.
He blew her a kiss with a wave as she shut him out with the world, closing her windows tight. It was only when her bedroom light flickered out that Jack stepped back to face the man waiting in the shadows.
Koz watched. He knew what his daughter got up to. He might have been angry, if he could blame her for wanting to escape him. But he couldn’t keep her; he could only beg and plead for her to stay inside, and she would never listen. Koz supposed he owed Jack, for making sure Sera returned home safe again and again night after night. It was more than Koz could do, when he was out making the world a darker place.
Silence stretched, as Jack came no nearer to the shadows and Koz refused to step into the light.
But Jack didn’t do it for Koz, even if he kind of did.
The graverobber fearlessly met Koz’s gaze for a handful of heartbeats, blown frost to dulled chrome, before he turned away to walk back into the streets where he belonged.