Nov. 7th, 2012 11:48 pm
sc0urge: (jiji)
[personal profile] sc0urge

He met Scarlet when she didn’t have that name, or any name at all. He heard the girls at the docks whispering – “Got a new one around here,” “She’s not from this town, way I heard it,” “She’d best keep her wits about her, she had” – and bumped into her on his usual stretch of dark road. She was lovely, with bright sad eyes and a full sweet mouth and long waves of hair down her back, glossy red like blood in the amber lantern light. She started when she saw him, fright as real and natural and unguarded as a spooked rabbit. He did not quite know whether he ought to roll his eyes or pity her. She looked hungry, though if she had not been eating well he guessed she must be new to deprivation, newly out on the streets alone, as starvation had yet to wreak havoc on her flesh. She eyed him up and down suspiciously, looking unsure. She opened her mouth but no words escaped, just a thin, reedy breath.

“No, I’m not buying,” he told her, “and no, I am not going to share my turf with you. Get your own street corner, sweet heart.”

She looked up at him in surprise.

“You don’t look like the type who bends over in alleyways,” she managed at last.

“And you don’t look like the kind of girl who tucks up her skirt for a quick coin, but here we are. What’s your story, lovely? Parents kick you out? Husband? Been sleeping around, so you might as well do it full time? Or are you just out here on a lark – go back home in a week, blame it all on some mythical pirate kidnappers?”

She glared at him, and he was taken slightly aback by the fierceness that sliced through her fear.

“None of your sodding business, is it? I’m here, and I’m doing just fine without your meddling.”

He scuffed the cobbles with the sole of his shoe and she jumped. He snickered.

“Of course. Fine. Which is why you’re haunting my corner and you’ve got all the girls down at the docks muttering about you. You’re going to get yourself stabbed, the way you’re going.”

He went to put a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged him off, slapped away his hand.

“Just piss off, would you!”

He shrugged, crossed his arms and leaned against the rough brick wall of the shop – darkened, deserted – which faced the street.

“It’s my spot, honey. I’m not going to go on a quest across the whole damn city to find a free street corner just because some new brat strolls up thinking she’s got some kind of right to it.”

She folded her arms, mirroring him, glared. At the bottom of the shady street, a figure in a long coat walked up to the street corner, looked up at where they were standing, paused uncertainly. Jean ignored the girl and the daggers she was staring into his shoulder, watched the man in the long dark coat where he stood, rocking from one foot to the other, looking up at them. After a moment he turned away and scurried out of the pool of lantern light, across the street and back into the shadows. Jean spat on the ground at his feet.

“I hope you’re fucking happy, sweetie, because that could have been my dinner you just scared off. You fucking harpy.”

She sniffed, incredulous.

“And how do you know he was even after you? Who’s to say you’re not the one scaring away my profits?”

Jean returned her glare.

“Because people know this is my fucking corner, and you don’t look poor enough or sick enough or garish enough to be good fucking company. People don’t come down this alley looking for a girl. Damn, you’re clueless. How long have you been out here? A day? Two?”

“A week,” she muttered.

He shook his head.

“It’s a bloody wonder you haven’t been stabbed already.”


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