The Weaver Atropos
January 28, 2004
Comments: Chapter two, kiddies! Oooh—and the plot thickens…We finally meet Tom.
Synopsis: Dally Winston gets hauled in to the station as a kid and begins his life as the reckless, renowned hood, Dallas.
Punished. Chapter 2
It hadn't gone as bad as he had assumed it would. For starters, Tom had been out of sight, no doubt recruiting some other kid to take over what had been Dally's duties. The tow-headed youth frowned. He hated being replaced. Mostly because his overblown ego refused to believe there was anyone else capable of filling his shoes. Even at ten, Dallas Winston carried himself with an air of almost delirious self-importance.
Dally spared Emile a wary glance. The man had been nicer than he'd expected. Word out on the street was that the fuzz was never to kind to little kids. Much less if those little kids were boys. Tom had told his share of gruesome stories, the majority of which revolved around the unconsented abuse of helpless young boys. And despite leaving him with a bitter aftertaste of fear, the accounts had made him more aware of the world around him--more realistic. Tom might've been an all-around bastard in other respects, but had never shirked his duties as gang leader. He'd made sure his charges knew everything there was to know about the street, its counterparts, and its components.
"Is it a lot farther, now?"
"A few blocks."
It was more than a few blocks, really. More like ten. But Dally knew better than to lead a police car into the very center of Tom's territory. It would mean the ultimate deception. Dally wouldn't even be given a chance to explain; the others would take it as a sure sign of betrayal should they hear the blaring alarm of a police car heading in their direction. Dally'd never forgive himself if that happened. True, no one in Tom's gang was that close a friend, but they were, in some twisted way, the only family he'd had. Besides, a little walking never did anyone any harm.
What he hated about the 'little walk', however, was that it had to be done while holding on to Emile's hand. He wouldn't have minded much if it had been a woman--a sexy blonde bombshell at that--but it was a man, and that was something he wasn't so ready to accept. Dallas Winston was no pussy. In the words of the ever eloquent ten-year old, "I ain't holdin' your hand! I ain't gay!"
Emile forgot why he'd agreed to ever accompanying the wheat-blond youth to pick up his things. The feelings of pity and sympathy he'd experienced for the youth the night before were slowly being oozed out of his body and being replaced by a steadily increasing feeling of frustration. He recalled what his superior had said to him the night before; how he'd unaffectedly told him to disregard Dally as a 'lost cause' that was better left to the hands of fate. What his commander had meant, in short, was to let Dally go off to the Reformatory unattended and let him rot there like any other street thug outta. Except that this 'street thug' was only ten, and was nowhere near being a lost cause.
Emile saw so much potential in him. Dallas was like a natural born leader. His eyes would twinkle mischievously when given a proposition, and the wheels in his head would turn almost maniacally when asked for help. He was like a ruthless business man in his dealings: sharp, clever, and keenly observant. The twenty-something year old would have completely missed that fact about his charge, if he hadn't been paying so much attention to him.
Dallas had been in a holding cell, poking idly at a forming scab, seemingly oblivious to everything around him, when suddenly his eyes blue eyes had locked on Emile's. They held a challenging aura--as if daring the older man to look away, before they'd softened minutely as they scanned his face curiously. "I can't drink milk."
The statement had been made in respects to the tray of food Emile had brought for the youth, but had left a few feet to the right of him, where he'd thought it'd be invisible to Dally's eyes. Emile had raised interested eyebrows, bewilderment dying amidst the willing slip of information. "There ain't anything else, kid."
Pale blond locks had shaken to and fro in a negative gesture. "I mean I can't drink it. I'll get sick if I do. I'll get all these bumps and shi--stuff."
Dally seemed to have remembered the officer's request that he not curse. Which, to Emile, seemed an irony in itself. He knew well enough that Dally was a feisty little boy, probably never responding to anyone but himself. He couldn't fathom why he'd listen to his plea. And again, there it was. The fact that Dally had listened, showed his potential to change--it indicated that there was a child who wanted to be accepted despite the tough farce he hid himself behind.
Dally continued, "Once...I was--well," the young boy counted absently on his fingers, a look of concentration on his pixie face, "I was real young, an' Christo--I mean, this hood, got me some milk to drink. Glory!"
Dally's face lit up excitedly as he reached the climax of his story, "He got real scared. He was 'fraid he'd killed me 'cause I was red all over. Everywhere. You know? Even there"
Emile offered the small child huddled in the corner of the cell an amused smile. It seemed that once one got past Dally's defenses, he could be quite the talkative little guy. "Is water okay, then?"
Again, a little blond head moved up and down to show its approval. "It's real tuff to get water. We ain't hardly get any water 'cept from the fountain--an' that's stuff's full o' bird shit--" Tiny hands shot to cover the offending mouth. Dally gave a sheepish grin. "Sorry."
Sighing, Emile shot a look a look at the hand he held in his own. It was small--barely that of a boy and more of a child's--and calloused. It surprised him. That a child's hand could be more worked than his own. It surprised him, and it frightened him. What had Dallas Winston been doing with a packet of pure heroin in his pockets, anyway?
"Are you going to tell me about the drugs, yet?"
Dallas gave a stiff shrug. "What drugs?"
His tone was nonchalant, and meticulously crafted. He'd been lying for a long time, Emile noted. But Emile had been dealing with lying hoods longer than the boy had been living, so he pressed on. "The ones in your pocket. The ones you were forced to sell."
At the blatant insinuation, Dally spun around sharply to face him, wrenching his hand away in the action. "I ain't bein' forced to do nothin'!"
His cheeks were red, eyebrows drawn together in anger, and he was glaring at Emile with newfound ire.
Somewhere in the subconscious of his mind, Emile realized this boy was dangerous.
Emile tried to smooth over his mistake. "All right, all right." He waved calming hands before Dally's tense figure. "Here, gimme your hand again."
Pouting and still shaking with indignation, Dally surrounded his hand, calm once again only when he saw they were rather close to his home. Or, at least what had been his home for the last few years. He didn't have much memories of a time before that, except for a few scattered scars on his body and an overload of nightmares to remind him of things that might've been.
"It's only past that garbage box thing there--"
"Garbage box thing?"
"Yeah," Dally pointed to a large, green disposal unit which was filled to the brim with trash and scrunched up his nose. "That thing."
"Why d'you protect them?"
Again, Dally feigned a look of complete ignorance. "Who?"
"The ones who made you sell it. The ones who got you jailed in the first place."
"I ain't protectin' anyone. I got the stuff on my own."
Emile nodded and remained silent, but smiled sadly inside. He knew there was someone else involved. There was no way a ten year old boy could possibly be able to get his hands on that much heroin without there being someone older and more respectable to protect him for having it. Otherwise, Dally would have been dead within minutes of having left the safety of his 'home.' Emile knew that. He understood it. But he didn't think Dallas was ready to admit anything. Not now, at least. Maybe never.
Dally frowned at the questions he was being asked. He would never give up information about anyone. That was the only code of honor he'd ever gone by. He didn't believe in promises--he certainly didn't believe in trust--but he was as firm as ever as far as betrayal was concerned. He would never willingly betray anyone close to him. As much an arrogant bastard as Tom was, the raven-haired boy had taken care of him, brought him in, and raised him when anyone else could have easily killed him. Granted, that care came with its consequences and conveniences, but Dally would prefer pushing drugs anytime to being dead. It was Darwinism at its finest.
"Can you stay out here?"
Emile shook his head no. The orders he'd been given had been strict, and even if they hadn't been, he'd never be as gullible as to let his charge wander about away from him, into God knew what company. "I'll make myself as unobtrusive as possible."
Dally scoffed and rolled pale-blue eyes. As if that would make much of a difference. If Tom happened to be inside when he and Emile walked in, all hell would break loose. It wasn't the nicest of scenarios. Not by a long shot.
It wasn't that Tom was disturbingly aggressive. He just had priorities to protect. It might sound strangely cynical coming from Dally, but Tom was the closest thing to a parent any of them had had, and glory knew he acted the part of the overprotective father when he had to. Strange, Tom being only sixteen and already having a multitude of little hoods to look after. Dally grinned wryly to himself. He doubted he'd ever have a protégé of his own. Those were weakness he'd rather do without. "Are you sure?"
Emile nodded. Of course he was sure. And even he weren't, he was still going to go in with the smart-mouth child he'd made his charge. He knew there was little chance Dally would get away without a scathing of some sort...Tom was probably gonna be upset that he'd lost the package of goods he should've been pushing--and no doubt he'd take it out on Dallas.
They walked for a couple of meters more, Dally seeming increasingly less comfortable with the situation, discomfort traitorous in the nervous tapping of his fingers against Emile's palm. The older man paid no mind, however, until he felt Dally's hand squeeze his own firmly. There, he seemed to silently say.
Glancing up, Emile found himself face to face with a hard-looking youth. He guessed him to be about twenty, seventeen at the very least, with a slim build. But if there was anything to be said about him, it was that he exuded an aura of pure danger. It was as if there were a neon blinking sight on his forehead bearing the probable death of whoever approached.
For a moment, he was glad he'd taken to Dally's suggestion that he dress undercover.
The young man seemed to, at the same time that Emile's thoughts took an absent reverie, realize that it was Dallas who was crouched, half-hiding, half-out in the open, beside the officer. His gaze softened a bit as he took in the sight, and before he could help it, a dry chuckle escaped his lips. Its sound was welcome--mellow and husky with age, and caught both Dally and Emile off-guard. "Mornin', Dal."
Dally nodded habitually, almost shyly stepping out from behind Emile, and gave a coy grin. "Hey, Tom."
The sight of his charge interacting so amiably with another--no doubt someone he'd been close to--gave Emile a false sense of familiarity. Seeming entirely to forget what years in the force had taught him, he extended his hand and introduced himself.
He hadn't known what he'd been expecting. Maybe for Tom to take his hand and shake it with all the heartiness in his heart. He didn't know. But he certainly hadn't expected the younger boy to glare at him as if he were an insect worthy of being stepped on. His eyes were hard. They were smooth pools of chocolate, bits of hazel scattered about, but that wasn't what was alluring about them. No...it was their false carelessness. Something about them screamed of brimming impatience--anger, recklessness. And, at the same time...at the same time they screamed of wanting to be held, comforted...loved.
Emile spared Dally a glance. The tow-headed boy looked back up at him evenly, mischievousness lurking in the clear depths of his eyes. There was mischievousness, again, yes. But there was no malice in his eyes. No dark intentions visible. Dally wasn't like Tom. Not yet, anyway. Tom's eyes were different. They held a certain air of latent anger--of dormant hatred just waiting to be released. And a stream of thought struck Emile as he looked back towards Tom.
He can't be saved. He'll die.
(* * *)
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