A/N: An old story of mine, set in Fable 2 land. I'll be nice and warn you that my writing style has changed radically since two years ago and I don't consider this of the best quality. But it's still more than passable. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Fable.
I'll Be Waiting For You
Old Town had changed since Sparrow had last been there... but not as she had expected it to... or hoped it had. When Theresa had told her it had 'changed', she had expected neat, well kept streets, well fed, happy people ... buildings that weren't crumbling away where they stood. She certainly hadn't expected a ruined wreck of a town, one far worse than the Old Town she remembered from her youth. And the Old Town of her youth had been a thoroughly unpleasant place to live in, in itself.
The people ahead of her on the derelict main road were even more filthy, starved and depraved than those she'd grown up amongst. People were brawling, cursing, arguing violently in the street while ragged children scurried about screeching insults at each other as they 'played'. There was a suffocating aura of desperation and decay that hung in the air along with that of stale alcohol... and something much worse...
Sparrow edged towards the dishevelled crowd, unsure whether she really wanted to venture deeper into the crumbling tangles of her home town. Although her hesitation didn't root from fear exactly... Sparrow felt she had almost mastered that sensation after all her hard years in Old Town and out... no her hesitation drew much more from a creeping, niggling premonition that this destroyed town was her own doing. And she found it hard to quash that cold feeling of dread in her stomach.
She fidgeted slightly where she stood, considering whether to continue forward or to retreat back to the (arguably) clean, moral streets of Bowerstone Market. She tried not to think about what Theresa would say if she knew how Sparrow, the great hero, was acting. Theresa would have wanted her to face Old Town. Theresa would have wanted her to answer for her childhood mistakes, even if they were made in her childhood. After all, heroes were supposed to be responsible. Presently, Sparrow would have preferred to have run away to the Cow and Corset, get drunk and play copious amounts of keystones rather than go any further into the dirty streets before her... but heroes weren't supposed to hide out in pubs... It wasn't good for their image... They weren't supposed to cower away from the things they had done and were bound to, in their conscience and memory. Even if they were proud of the destruction they had caused, it was better than shying away from the accountability of being a hero. In other words, they weren't supposed to shirk the shit. But sit there and bathe in it like it was lavender scented bubble bath...
So, with that pleasant reminder forced firmly in her mind, she ignored the cold voice telling her that this was all her own doing, and stepped through the crowd, passing through largely unnoticed. Few people knew who she was. Few people cared. These people certainly didn't as they squabbled and scuffled around her, and why should they? She looked like any other pauper with a rusted blade and patched clothes, even if below the unremarkable surface was a hero... a hero who would have given her rusted blade and patched clothes to be in the pub with a few drinks under her belt right now...
Even so, she was largely glad for their ignorance, as she slunk unseen into a filthy alley which, if her foggy memory served her correctly, should have led to where she and her unfortunate sister spent their unhappy childhood in. She padded away from the noise of the main street and delved into the alley beyond, not seeing another soul ahead of her and being glad of it. Part of her was longing to be at the place where her sister had last been before her death... excepting the Castle Fairfax, of course... which, with a wave of sickly anger, she forced roughly away from her mind. The very memory drove her almost senseless with fury and she had to keep that pent up rage harnessed until she could unleash it on the true perpetrator of her misery and loss... Lucien...
She quickened her pace, whistling slightly to the dog as it lagged behind, fascinated by the array of strange, revolting new smells around him in the dank alleyway. Sparrow didn't really mind if it fell behind for a little while, while she visited her sister's last home. It felt strangely like... sacred ground, which she wanted to be on alone. Even without the company of the dog who had spent all her lonely years with her. She knew it could look after itself. After all, it had survived Old Town when it was just a pup, it could do it again all these years later.
Soon it had fallen even further behind her in the alleyway but she wasn't concerned. When she glanced behind she could see its ever wagging tail not more than eight or nine metres away, as it investigated a pile of rags dumped on the roadside... which could very well have been a beggar... it was hard to tell from where she was...
She smiled slightly to herself and turned to continue down the alleyway when suddenly, very suddenly; a grubby, callused hand came over her mouth and pulled her forcefully sideways into a little vein of an alley, sprouting off to her right. It was very narrow and very dirty, even more so than the one she'd just been dragged from. With a thrill of panic she couldn't even cry out to the dog as she was slammed against the wall, her head snapping back and hitting it painfully hard. She instinctively threw her arms across her face to protect it from the blows she expected would follow, believing this to be a particularly callous mugging attempt.
Unused to having to call upon her own fighting skills so readily, she waited in anticipation for the blows, which never came.
After two seconds... five seconds... seven seconds of waiting in frozen expectancy, someone began to snort with laughter from behind her arms. Slowly, with a growing feeling of stupidity at her own ridiculous behaviour, when she could have so easily have run the assumed thug through before his first blow fell, she removed her arms from her face and took a look at her assailant. And then her jaw slackened. No... it couldn't have been...
"My, my. Looky oo it is." Grinned Arfur, looking remarkably unchanged from when she had last seen him. "Out fur a li'le, mornin' stroll are we now?"
Sparrow tried not to gape but she couldn't help staring at the crook in a mixture of disgust and wonder. He really hadn't changed a bit, not even in age it looked. In fact, she was stunned that the slime ball had managed to survive all these harsh years in Old Town and end up looking so... good... if you could use that word on a grime encrusted creep with some serious need for a toothbrush and some soap... He was like a cockroach, the more violently you tried to stamp on him, or blow him up with nuclear weaponry, the more stubbornly he seemed to survive...
"Close yur mouth love... unless yur offerin' me to put sommin in it..." He smirked, eyeing her up and down with no subtlety whatsoever.
Sparrow hastily closed her unknowingly agape mouth and put her arms down by her side, trying to force a look of nonchalance onto her face.
"Fancy seein' you 'ere." He went on, examining his dirt encrusted fingernails while still pinning Sparrow to the wall with one thick hand on her right collarbone. "The little 'ero, 'erself. I 'eard you was in the precinct and I jus' 'ad to tell ye, 'ow much I've missed yur comp'ny in our 'omey, little town..." He gestured around the putrid alley with a sort of sick gesture of pride.
Sparrow said nothing. She was beginning to overcome her stunned disbelief and the memory of what Arfur had done to her sister... or made clear he wanted to do, was creeping up on her, stirring the old feelings of anger and repulsion towards one of her sister's most hated of people.
"Aren't we a quiet one." Arfur sneered, staring down at her from his slightly greater height with shadowed, greedy little eyes, purpled and lined. "Jus' like when you was a kid... with that sister of yours..." He seemed to be caught momentarily in some fleeting nostalgic thought, his eyes glazed slightly and he looked past Sparrow's face to the grimy wall she was pressed against. Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, Sparrow struggled slightly against the hand pressing her painfully against the wall and his eyes snapped immediately back to her face.
"Aw... you wanna leave me, already? But wiv 'ardly 'ad time to catch up..." He smirked again, showing two sets of discoloured, jagged teeth sprouting from equally discoloured gums.
Sparrow was becoming aware of the pressure applied to the hand holding her against the wall. It seemed... excessive... like he was actually trying to keep her there. Sparrow didn't appreciate the feeling of being trapped against a wall while a slimy creep leered at her from above, preventing her from making an escape out of the alleyway.
"Ah... you and that... sister of yours..." He smirked sickeningly at Sparrow, intensifying her anger to the point where she longed to be able to reach her blade, rusted or not. She forced herself to hold her tongue. "Rose..." The name sounded wrong on his lips. He said it as though he were tasting it, savouring its association with Sparrow's sister like wine from a cup he longed to drink deeply from. "Such a... sweet girl..." Sparrow felt her eyes narrow, she felt her pulse quicken as the anger burnt more fiercely at this infuriatingly careless assertion. "Whatever did become of 'er? 'Aven't seen 'ead or... tail of 'er fur such a long time..." So, he didn't know that she was dead... if he had, perhaps he wouldn't have spoken so flippantly of her... but Sparrow doubted it. This man... creature... didn't care about Rose; he was just another heartless creep preying on the defenceless and misfortunate. Luckily Rose had been able to take care of herself, Sparrow reminded herself with a fierce glow of pride. As Sparrow stood pinned against the wall, she began to doubt whether she was as apt at defending herself, even with all the advantages of her supposed heroic prowess.
"Still not talkin' to me, Sparrow?" Arfur observed, as Sparrow stared back stonily at him, no longer struggling against his firm grip. He was barely an inch from her in the slight alley; she could smell the stale alcohol on his breath mingled with sweat and dirt. She tried to breathe through her mouth but it wasn't an entirely savoury option either. She hated the way he was looking at her, a smirk almost permanently etched on his grubby face, as though she was just a tasty, little morsel he wanted to devour just as he had Rose. Except now it was Sparrow and she was just as easy a target, in Arfur's eyes and almost just as satisfying as her older sister would have been. "My, my... not still sore at me, are ye?"
Sparrow said nothing, while he had been leering over her she had began to move her hand, as subtly as she could manage, towards the hilt of her sword, straining desperately to reach it with her fingertips but not daring to move too quickly for fear he'd notice. Not that she entirely wanted to kill Arfur... though part of her thought it a brilliant idea... just scare him off until she could slip out of his grasp and get far, far away from him...
"The least you could do is say 'ello'... honestly after all the troubil I went to, keepin' Old Town nice fur ye..." He gave a fake, wounded sigh. "Although..." He added with a sly look at her. "It is somewhat fanks to you... after all... if you 'adn't given' me those arrest warrants, well... we wouldn't be talkin' today... Funny, 'ow it all works out... 'innit?" His smirk deepened as he watched for her reaction.
On the surface Sparrow managed to retain her blank nonchalance but her insides were twisting sickeningly within her as she had this cruel irony thrown in her face. She looked grimly back at Arfur, imagining slicing off his... head... right here and watching it bounce across the stones like a blood sodden football. She almost smiled at the prospect. Then he would regret everything he'd ever done or said to cross Sparrow or her sister... While she indulged these violent thoughts, she found she could almost brush her fingertips against the hilt of the sword and Arfur hadn't noticed her wandering hand. She was sure at any moment he'd hear her heart beating, it was pumping so violently against her ribs. But fortunately... or unfortunately... he was preoccupied...
"Now, now... no need to glower at me like that..." He said roughly, seeming to lose some of his patience as Sparrow remained staunchly silent. He applied more pressure to her collarbone until it actually hurt beneath his solid grip. "You 'ave no right to be cross with me... after all... I've always bin' so... fond of you..." He moved closer to her... or slithered closer to her... Sparrow flattened herself against the wall, forgetting for a moment in her disgust that she was supposed to be subtly reaching for her sword. She froze in horror as he pinned her firmly against the wall, his foul breath on her cheek.
She could have really used some telepathic help from Theresa right now... Did they even advise heroes on how to get out of these sorts of situations in the guild? Or was it usually expected that heroes could deal with unwanted advances themselves, what with being equipped with a sword... a crossbow... the power to raise the dead... At that thought Sparrow felt her cheeks flush in anger and mortification. If she couldn't hold off one oversexed weird then how could she defend a whole land from evil and destruction...? It was all rather discouraging...
"Oh... Sparrow..." He muttered, his foul lips finding the sensitive skin on her neck. She gave a violent shudder and forced herself desperately to think about happy, clean thoughts away from the stench and slime of people like Arfur... "You're almost as pretty as yur dear, sweet sister..." Sparrow felt the colour drain away from her face.
Something seemed to snap within Sparrow at that smarmy assertion. His jibes at her sister, his nerve to speak about her in that sick, familiar manner had finally broken whatever had been holding Sparrow back from doing something violent and stupid before now. Sparrow raised her free hand with some difficulty and laid a sharp slap across the crook's face. He stumbled back against the opposite wall, stunned by her sudden attack. Sparrow was slightly thrown by it herself.
For a moment both of them stood, frozen staring at each other and then, Sparrow found herself flattened against the ground with a shudder of pain through her back as it hit the damp ground with great impact. For a moment she was temporarily blinded by confusion, darkness and pain and then, with a thrill of horror, she realised Arfur was knelt over her, holding her down underneath him with his thighs pressed either side of her legs. She bucked against him, trying desperately to push him off her but he wasn't yielding. Her slap had pissed him off.
"Damn brat." He was snarling as he clumsily fumbled with her skirt, trying to push it up from underneath him. It was caught between Sparrow's legs and she wasn't letting it go without a fight. Which Arfur seemed determined to give her. He kept slamming her again and again against the stones, each time sending a shiver of pain through her back and neck. She could feel the sword's rusted blade etching into her thigh, the crossbow cutting into her back. She could barely see anything but the outline of Arfur looming above her in the gloom.
"I should 'ave fucked 'er when I 'ad the bleeding chance..." He growled, tearing the skirt from between her legs and forcing it up. "You're whore of a sister..."
He forced her down again against the stones with violent force. Sparrow let out a wounded cry as her crossbow was forced into her skin; she felt the blood seep damply through the thin material of her blouse. She gasped and bit her lip to keep herself from crying out again, she didn't want him to know he was hurting her. He slammed himself into her and she had to bite harder.
"No need to look so superior..." He suddenly smirked in an erratic change of temperament. "Yur no better than me, you 'arlot... you or that... Rose..." His face darkened. "Thinkin' she was so bloody 'igh and mighty..." He rumbled.
Sparrow bucked against him again, trying to throw him off like he was some sort of rabid animal but he clung on, throwing her head back against the ground in retaliation. He held her down by her throat and moved the other hand to the buttons on the front of his trousers, fumbling with them in the darkness.
He found them and roughly undid the buttons, forcing himself roughly against her to her heightening horror.
He sneered down at her, obviously relishing her fear and apparent helplessness. "Starvation always makes whores 'ungrier ... she woulda given in to me eventually... she woulda spread 'er legs fur me in the end-
Sparrow didn't quite know where or how she found the strength but one moment she was flattened under Arfur, with her thighs splayed and the next she had thrown him off and had her crossbow pushed against his temple and a boot pressed against his throat. Strange things seemed to happen without her meaning to. Her body seemed to decide to react by itself and not allow her brain time to catch up. Arfur's eyes were wide as he stared back at her in terror, a droplet of blood trickled down from his temple. Slightly taken aback by her own competence but determined to mask her obvious disconcertion, she ground the arrow a little further into his ugly head.
"One more word about my sister... and I'll put an arrow through your head." She breathed, menacingly running a thumb over the crossbow in testament to that threat. "Alright?"
He nodded feverishly. "Y-yes fine, fine." He garbled at her. "Jus' lemme go, y-you crazy whore-
She gathered up his shirt tightly in her fist and hurled him bodily to the floor where he landed in a painful pile at her feet. With a coldly satisfied look at his groaning, whimpering form she turned from the alley, feeling grimly pleased with herself.
She glanced back as she was at the mouth of the alleyway. He was still writhing on the floor moaning and cursing furiously under his breath as he clutched at his wounded temple. Like a wounded animal... With a sour smile she half considered telling the dog there was a nice, big, almost dead piece of meat down the alleyway just to see what happened...