I don't own Grim Fandango or any of the characters here. This is an AU that popped into my mind when I started thinking about some things that could have gone differently. I will try to explain everything as well as I can, so the only thing you need to know at this point is that Nick and Olivia never had their little affair. Lola is therefore still "alive".
I wrote this story when I was fifteen or sixteen, so it's quite unpolished compared to my more recent work. I'm letting it stay up because writing this taught me more than most of my other stories have.
EMPTY EYE SOCKETS
"Think about it, my love, this whole city is mine and that way yours."
Olivia leaned against Hector's chest and lifted her head to see her lover's face.
"I've already thought about it. Why else would I be here?" she purred and the man snorted in amuse. He had had a really good luck when he had found that woman; she was brave, arrogant and self-confident, totally different than the weak sluts who hunted men in his casinos.
And a man like him didn't want a weak woman.
But maybe he had chosen the wrong words when saying that he had found the woman. In fact the woman had found him.
Olivia had arrived to Nuevo Marrow with her previous lover Maximino, fully aware of the fact that she would soon find someone much better than him. Maximino was just a small timer in Hector's huge criminal organisation, and even though he had total control over Rubacava it wasn't enough for Olivia.
No, she wanted a strong, powerful and rich man. Someone whose company would please her.
Love had nothing to do with the relationship, at least from Olivia's part. The woman was a parasite who grabbed the strongest man she could find, sucking him dry and then moving to pick the next one. Then again, since Hector LeMans was the most powerful man in the Land of the Dead she didn't have to look for anyone else.
But she still didn't love him.
Hector then... Olivia suspected the man felt something for her and it just made opinion of all men being weak fools stronger. If Hector had been a wise man he would have kept Olivia near him only for pleasure, not because he loved her.
Maximino had loved her too and honestly thought she returned the feeling. Olivia could still remember how she had told him she wanted to break up, and the memory made her snort in amuse. His world had changed and almost anyone else would have pitied him.
But not Olivia, to her men didn't mean anything but fun and fortune and she didn't think she had ever truly cared about anyone.
It was night in the city of Nuevo Marrow and the whole city flashed in neon lights. Casinos, night clubs, restaurants and bars were open and ready to help those who stepped in to get rid of their money. The crowd was at the casinos during that time of night, and Hector could almost heat the tinkling when coins fell in his pockets.
Usually he was at the casinos too, watching how his business went along, but this night he had wanted to give some special attention to his new love. Olivia was a wonderful woman and he didn't think he'd ever get interested in anyone else.
"The night is young and we have time. Do you want to pay a visit to one of my casinos?" he asked the woman who rose and tilted her head.
"You know that I am not interested in your casinos. Only in the money they provide," she replied in amusement and Hector had to snort.
"I do know that, but I will never give up the hope that you will join me one day," he said. Olivia was totally rotten, just like he himself, and he found it strange the woman didn't want to set one foot inside any of his popular casinos.
"Hope? Don't make me laugh; there is no hope in this world," Olivia remarked.
"For those who know how to play their cards right, there is," Hector replied.
Olivia stood up and moved away from the man. She didn't dislike him; she just didn't feel comfortable if the atmosphere got too mushy. She liked cold, cruelty and pain and never liked it too long in Hector's arms.
The man knew and accepted it, though he liked comfortable things much more. He had always worked to get the best for himself and right now he was on the top. He was the strongest and most powerful man in the Land of the Dead, he controlled a huge crime organisation, he was rich and many were loyal to him.
And he also had the most gorgeous woman in the world. What else could he ask for?
"I will go and see how the business goes along. I suspect that Maximino is about to send someone here to keep an eye on me and I want to know who that is," he announced standing up too.
"And get rid of him?" Olivia guessed, not turning to face her lover. She had walked to stand on a balcony and rested her hands on the railing, letting her gaze wander over the colourful city. Cold night air caressed the bones of her face and had she had hair it would have flown behind her.
"Feed him wrong information to tell to Maximino. Your ex-boyfriend is a greedy man, if he sees a chance to rise in hierarchy, he will use it," Hector replied.
"So you actually believe Maximino has someone he can trust?" Olivia asked, though she wasn't that interested. It was hard to believe that someone would be on the same side with the leader of Rubacava when you one could choose Hector LeMans.
"I know he has. I just have to find out who that snake is," Hector said. For a short moment he considered joining the woman on the balcony, but then decided against it. Olivia would say if she desired his company.
Their relationship was special on many levels. Both used the other and unlike usually, Hector was ready to give up in few things to keep the woman happy.
"I will go now. You may still join me," he said leaving the woman alone in the room.
When the door had banged shut Olivia sighed in frustration and turned away from the view. She didn't understand Hector, why did such a cruel and powerful man have to get romantic attention almost every day? It didn't fit his personality and Olivia couldn't have been less interested in the whole subject.
But she had to suffer; if she didn't do at least something the man wanted she couldn't enjoy his power either.
And power was what meant her the most.
Now when Hector had left there was no reason for her to stay. The place where Hector usually met her was a high skyscraper and most of the room was for offices and small companies he owned.
During that time of night the building was empty, everyone had either withdrawn in their homes or left to play at the casinos. Everyone wanted to be Hector's friend, so they favoured the biggest and most known casino where the man himself played.
Her shoes made a noise in the dim corridor while she headed for the elevators. She wanted to have some fun too, but in a totally different atmosphere.
When moving to live in Nuevo Marrow - previous El Marrow - she had been forced to leave her beloved Blue Casket behind. It had hurt her more than anything in a long while, but she tried not to think about it. She couldn't afford being weak, and getting attached to something was a weakness.
Then she stopped to notice that there was light ahead. So, either someone was still here, or they had forgotten to switch off the lights. The second one seemed like a better option and Olivia decided to go and turn off them.
When she got nearer she was surprised to notice that there actually was someone else than her. The light was coming from a rather big office because someone had left the door open, and Olivia could clearly see the man who sat behind his desk, bending over a heap of papers.
The woman tilted her head. Nick Virago.
She already knew the man; he had been Maximino's lawyer back when she had been dating with the gambling crime lord. When Olivia had left Rubacava behind her she hadn't expected to see Maximino's lawyer ever again, but to her surprise Nick had arrived just few weeks after her.
Nick had also realised that Hector LeMans was many times better than Maximino and left to Nuevo Marrow to look for work. And he had found a job to do too, Nick Virago was known to be one of the best lawyers in the Land of the Dead and Hector had gladly taken him in.
"Knock, knock," Olivia said not bothering to wait for an answer and stepped in. She could as well pay Nick a visit and exchange a few words with him. They had got along pretty well in Rubacava, but now they barely saw each other.
Nick lifted his gaze from his papers in surprise and let his work be when he noticed he had a visitor.
"Working overtime?" Olivia asked taking a seat and crossing her legs.
"Hector LeMans has lots of business, they create conflicts and that means paper work," Nick replied. To be honest, he had been ready to leave a few hours ago, but then he'd have even more work to do the next day.
"You are odd. There's no one in here, everyone has left a long time ago," she announced.
"I know that. But what can you do, mister LeMans wants all of the important things to go through his best lawyers," the man said concentrating on reading the papers again. They were about the huge amount of guns that Hector had ordered from Puerto Zapato and he had to make sure the contract was as good as possible.
"Hard. That's why I never work," Olivia stated and Nick didn't quite like her arrogant tone. But he knew he couldn't walk around insulting Hector's girlfriend, so he didn't mouth what he was thinking.
"Yes, you are mister LeMans' lover and are provided everything on a silver plate. I'll warn you though, it is not healthy to fall in love with a crime lord," he said more sharply than he had been about to, and lifted his gaze in surprise when Olivia laughed.
"Fall in love? Fool, despite what he might think, I do not love him," she said in amuse.
"You don't, huh? And here I though all women drool over powerful men," Nick said deciding that now he really had to get his work done. Olivia's company was of course more comfortable than his colleagues', but he really wanted to be able to leave home at some point.
"Only fools fall in love. Tell me, do you have warm feelings toward someone special?" Olivia asked. Nick flinched slightly and spilled his ink.
"No," he replied not lifting his gaze. Olivia snorted quietly.
"See? This world is dead, corrupted and cruel and love can never light it. When you keep that in mind you can survive anything."
"Thank you for the advice, but I don't think I need it. You must be pretty stupid to not realise that by yourself," Nick remarked.
"Uh-huh. Should I tell Hector what you think of him?" Olivia asked and this time Nick turned to watch her.
"He loves you?" he asked not knowing what to think. He had seen Hector LeMans sprouting small children, the thought that the man could feel love was a hard one to accept.
"Of course he does. Just like Maximino did. All men are weak fools," the woman said and it was clear she counted Nick in too.
"Nice to know your opinion about us." the lawyer said and took the next paper.
Manuel "Manny" Calavera turned on his heels in the harbour of Puerto Zapato when he heard a female voice calling out his name. The voice was clear and could be heard over the noise of the docks and he had to admit he was surprised. He hadn't thought he'd hear that voice in a long while - if ever again.
"Carla?" he asked in confusion as the woman ran to him, dodging two sailors. She had given up her uniform of a security officer and was now dressed in a deep blue jacket and a black skirt.
Lola had arrived to Puerto Zapato the previous day and Manny hadn't really visited the town yet. Glottis had stayed to take care of the ship that they had named after Manny's rebel friend in Rubacava.
"A surprise to see you here," Carla said out of breath and looked beaming.
"What are you doing here?" Manny asked immediately, why had the woman left Rubacava and her job? Why was she there?
"I finally got everything in order and my record is now clean. I can finally afford to leave the Land of the Dead," she said and despite the small, jealous pang inside him Manny had to be happy for her.
"That's great! What ship are you taking?" he asked in curiosity and Carla tilted her head.
"What do you think? S.S. Lambada, of course," she replied making Manny shook his head.
"I doubt you would have even settled with anything else," he stated. He already knew that Lambada had arrived to Puerto Zapato a few days earlier than Lola and that it would depart that evening. So he wouldn't be seeing Carla after the day.
The woman took a few steps back and eyed him.
"So I see. You are a captain nowadays," she remarked and Manny touched his cap proudly.
"Yep, I have my own ship too. Her name is Lola," he said and Carla snorted a bit bitterly.
"Lola. That's a nice name," she said knowing quite too well that the ship was named after a photographer girl.
"True. What are you going to do on your last day on shore?" Manny said swiftly changing the subject. Carla turned to view the city.
"I don't know; I have no plans," she said in thought. Then she glanced at Manny.
"Nor an escort," she added as a hint. Manny thought it couldn't have been more obvious, but he didn't actually have anything against it. He had just been sailing for three weeks and there were no women on board.
He gave Carla his arm.
"In that case it might be better if an experienced sea dog takes care of you. Puerto Zapato is a dangerous place for a lone woman," he said.
"I have black belt in karate," Carla commented.
"Well, then I'll come along to protect those who attack you," Manny said to her. He had been about to take a look around the city alone, but he could as well enjoy Carla's company now when it was still possible.
He had met the woman almost immediately after arriving in Rubacava and they had got along pretty well. At some point though Carla had started to get funny ideas that Manny didn't want to have anything to do with. He of course liked the woman, but believed strongly that love and serious relationships were things all souls left behind when they died.
Slowly their relationship had cooled down, though they had stayed as friends. Carla might have been able to tolerate that Manny didn't want to get serious, but she didn't like it how he was always running after Meche.
Manny had tried to explain that he was trying to find Meche only because it was his fault she was suffering. He only wanted to help her; there was nothing personal in it. Carla didn't believe it and Manny didn't think of it as a miracle. He wouldn't have in her position.
And then he had left Rubacava to search for Meche and Domino who he had seen with the woman. He had no idea what his sworn enemy wanted from her, but it couldn't be anything good. He hadn't seen or heard about Meche and slowly Manny was starting to think she had really disappeared.
"What are you thinking?" Carla's voice broke his thoughts and he turned to face her.
"Nothing," he replied quickly, but immediately saw that Carla didn't believe him.
"It's that Colomar woman again. Can't you ever think about anything else?" the woman commented annoyance in her voice and Manny felt bad. Of course finding Meche was important, but it still wasn't right to hurt other people's feelings.
"Actually I was thinking how good that coral necklace would look on you," he said quickly. Carla would leave that evening towards the Eternal Rest, she'd never find out Manny had lied. Carla tilted her head and seemed to be pleased.
"Really? That's nice," she purred leaning closer than was proper and Manny had to escape with few steps. Carla had never been an innocent girl - though she pretended to be one, but that shell was so fragile anyone could see through it.
"Hey, not in public," he rejected and thanked his luck when Carla withdrew. She was passionate, yes, but also knew what the word 'no' meant.
"There's still time. Maybe we can find a nice and quiet spot later," she suggested playfully.
She is so different than Meche, Manny thought bewildered. Meche was innocent, quiet and always ready to help others. He could never imagine her fawning over any man, especially if they weren't dating. Carla then, all you had to do was to say 'hello' and she was ready for action.
"We shall see," he decided to say.
Puerto Zapato was a noisy port town full of different ships, souls and demons. Things were sold and bought and everything seemed to be very idyllic.
But of you had lived in the Land of the Dead long enough you knew that nothing was ever what it looked like. Despite the peaceful image Puerto Zapato wasn't the ideal choice of a holiday for families, it was controlled by a group of gangsters and other criminals. At night the docks were just as dangerous - if not even more - than in Rubacava.
The sun was setting and it painted the ocean beautifully red. There wasn't that much action at the docks anymore, but many sailors still loitered around, some working, some not.
Manny escorted Carla to the harbour and watched the red horizon. They had walked around Puerto Zapato together and got to know all the exotic things the town had to offer. Manny was pessimistic by nature, but he had to admit he had had fun.
"I still think you should have let than man try and paint my face," Carla remarked in amuse and Manny shrugged.
"What if we wouldn't have been able to wash it away? You want to step in Lambada wearing a colourful make-up?" he asked from the woman, who didn't answer. Manny suspected something was wrong, but he didn't have time to ask about it now.
"S.S. Lambada is right over there," he said pointing at the huge luxury ship that looked really homey in the falling dim.
At least in the eye sockets of a man who couldn't leave.
"Yep, there it is," Carla admitted.
"So this was it. Have a nice trip and I hope the Eternal Rest is as good as everyone expects it to be. Remember to send me a card," Manny said trying to sound happy, though he felt somehow uncertain.
Carla didn't say anything.
"Manny..." she finally started and lifted her gaze, but didn't continue after all. Manny let out a quiet sigh.
"You don't really have a ticket, right?" he guessed not knowing what to think. It had felt somehow strange that a woman like Carla, who didn't really care for others, could leave just like that.
"No. I left my job, sold everything and came here in a small ship. I don't know why, I just wanted... I mean, you left so suddenly. I didn't even get to say goodbye," the woman said sounding guilty, which wasn't like her at all.
"Well, you've said it now. How are you going to get back?" Manny asked.
"I am not going back to Rubacava. Either I stay here in Puerto Zapato, or..."
"Or I join you on your ship. What was her name? Laura?" Carla said not looking straight at him and Manny pressed his fingers on his temples.
To be continued...