Authors Note: Since I'm such a terribly slow updater, I'm going to include a little recap at the beginning of every few chapters which I will go back and delete once more chapters are added and/or the story is finished. That way, if you've already forgotten the story, you can just go back a chapter and read a short summary of the "story so far" to refresh your memory. Also, a currency note, I'm going with $ but factoring in inflation so that today's $25 would be about $50 in the future. Also, you will note that my chapters have some of Shilos view, and some of Graverobbers view. I feel both are necessary, but let me know if it gets confusing.
The Story So Far
Shilo, homeless because of the Largos, turned to Zydrate to help herself deal with her predicament and mixed feelings of love and hate towards her dead father. A violent drug dealer hunts her down to make her pay for the money she owes him for Zydrate, but Graverobber comes to her rescue and brings her to his home in an abandoned building. Graverobber has an internal struggle whether to help Shilo or become her new dealer, but decides to help her after she steals Zydrate from him.
Graverobber took a deep breath, ignoring the little voice that told him to let her leave. "No, Shilo. I'm going to rescue you from yourself."
Graverobber watched the contorting emotions on Shilo's face. Anger, fear, confusion. Well, he could understand why she was confused. Here she was in a downward spiral of self-loathing and drug addiction, and a drug dealer was going to be the one to help her? The whole idea was laughable. If the circumstances hadn't been so serious, he probably would have laughed out loud at the sheer irony of the situation.
"Why are you helping me?" Shilo dared whisper, tears shining in her eyes.
"I've been asking myself that since the moment I met you Shilo," Graverobber responded, kneeling down in front of her to wipe away the single shining tear on her cheek. Her eyes grew wide and unsure at his gesture, and her breathing quickened. "Look, you really need help with this Zydrate thing because it can get out of control fast. Besides, I've always thought there was something special about you. And right now, that special thing is that you owe me about five hundred bucks. " He watched in mild amusement as her expression morphed from that of shyness to utter shock.
"W...w…what?" she stuttered, "That's completely taking advantage of me! That vial I borrowed was worth thirty at the very most!" Her voice and her face betrayed her sudden panic.
"Excuse me, my vials are top quality product and retail from forty to fifty dollars, thank you very much." He huffed in mock annoyance, standing up and straightening out his brown, leather coat. He certainly wasn't pulling in high profile clients with low grade Zydrate. "You, know, I'd almost forgotten about that vial you 'borrowed,' so lets make it five hundred and fifty then. The five hundred was what I paid to that dealer you owed. What with trying to save your life and all," he added in a cocky tone.
"Great," Shilo muttered miserably. "I go from owing one dealer to owing another."
"Ahh, but look on the bright side. I won't beat, rape, or murder you," Graverobber said cheerfully, putting his hands on his hips.
Content with his reply, he marched over to a nearby table covered in various clutter and trash, and began to root through its contents. Turning around abruptly, a triumphant look on his face, he waved a bottle of liquor in his hand. "This," he declared, taking a shot out of the brown liquid, "is my good friend Jack Daniels."
He parked himself next to Shilo on the couch, and held the bottle out to offer her a swig. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "How can you drink that?" she scolded. "It's only three o'clock in the afternoon! And look at all these empty bottles everywhere. What are you, an alcoholic?"
A frown formed on Graverobbers pale face, and he suddenly leaned close to Shilo. His mysterious blue eyes seemed to cloud black as he whispered calmly, "And what are you, a dirty junkie?"
Caught off guard by his comment, she felt her blood pound through her veins so intensely she was afraid they might burst. She breathed hard, a scowl on her face, as she struggled to maintain control. Part of her wanted to scream in anger, part of her wanted to break down and cry, and part of her wanted to feel the rush of Zydrate coursing through her body.
"How dare you. I'm…I'm not a junkie!" she spat bitterly, although deep down she knew he was right, completely and utterly right.
"Look Shilo! Just look!" he yelled, as he grabbed her wrist tightly. "Your skin is covered in fucking track marks." The oversized t-shirt she had on did nothing to hide the numerous telltale scabs that riddled her body. "If you don't stop now, you'll rot your body from the inside out, and even GeneCo won't be able to fix you."
Wrenching her wrist from his grasp, she lowered her head and took a slow, deep breath. She was already broken, and Zydrate was the glue that temporarily put her back together night after night. Without it, she couldn't function. Her eyes fell to the slight blue glow emitted from Graverobbers open coat, and the cells of her body jittered in anticipation of their next hit, her brain flashing it's desires for feelings of euphoria and numbness.
"I'm addicted," she whispered, her voice and eyes suddenly void of all emotion.
"The first step is admitting it. Now comes the easy part, getting over the addiction and paying me back."
His sensitivity to the situation was astounding. "And just how am I supposed to pay you back?" she asked hesitantly.
Graverobber raised his hand, before turning around to silently rummage through a pile of clothing on the floor. Shilo ducked as various articles of clothing went flying as he threw them casually behind him. A wide grin spread across his face as he found what he'd been looking for. A female GenCop uniform.
"Here," he said as he tossed the black uniform into Shilo's lap. "Time to learn a little about the drug economy. That bitch, Amber Sweet, has lowered the security on graveyards making it easier than ever to get Zydrate. Now, I don't want those junkies or rival dealers to get wind of this because it would destroy my business. That's why it's necessary every now and then to have a GenCops presence there to remind the world just how risky graverobbing is."
"And what does that have to do with me paying you back," Shilo questioned suspiciously, eyeing the uniform's GeneCo logo with distaste.
"Well, now that you're in the picture, you can masquerade as a GenCop so that I don't have to. That'll give me more time to rob graves; you can help with that too. After you've helped me enough, I'll consider your debt erased. Not to mention, I can help you get over this addiction at the same time. It's a win, win situation," he added convincingly.
Shilo shook dust from the clothing and glanced back and forth between Graverobber and the uniform, indecision obvious on her face. "How long will I need to help you for? And how did you even get your hands on this…." she began.
"Enough questions," he commanded, a large grin forming on his face as he fondly recalled the night he acquired a couple of GenCop uniforms. One starry night, on a leisurely stroll through the graveyard, he'd happened upon a couple in the throes of passion. Things you see in a graveyard. Parking himself in the shadows, he'd enjoyed the free show for a good five minutes before discovering the GenCop uniforms strewn on the ground. What luck. He often wondered what cock and bull story those cops told their chief after "losing" their clothing.
Snapping out of his daydream, he nodded his head towards the uniform clenched tightly in Shilo's hands. "Well, aren't you going to try it on? Off with those clothes," he commanded, the big grin still stuck to his face.
Shilo considered Graverobbers request for a moment before glancing around the room for a private place to change. No such place. It wasn't that she was particularly shy, she just felt unusually vulnerable and open, and his stupid grin was making her uncomfortable. In fact, his whole presence was making her uncomfortable. Earlier, when he'd leaned in and gently wiped that tear from her cheek, she'd been startled by his closeness. The gesture was small and probably insignificant, but it fed a sensation deep inside that craved for more. Perhaps that was why she found his light touch so endearing. Since the incident at the opera, she'd been practically starved of that warm human touch that made up happy families, love stories, and fairy tales. All of her human contact this year had left bruises, cuts, or track marks.
Shilo glanced up at Graverobber who was watching her expectantly. From the first time she'd met him, she felt strangely drawn to the enigmatic man who seemed to pride himself with the fact that he couldn't be tied down to society. So why was he burdening himself with her? Oh yeah, five hundred and fifty dollars.
"Can you turn around while I put this on, please," she asked quietly.
Graverobber raised a heavy eyebrow, but reluctantly turned around. As she stripped out of his large t-shirt she had borrowed, she examined the finger mark bruises on her wrists, and tenderly touched the ones on her neck and lower back. Damn you, Nivek. The bastard had left her black and blue, but at least she was alive. Glancing upward, she noticed that Graverobber was looking slyly over his shoulder, perhaps also examining….her bruises? She highly doubted that. "Hey," she yelled indignantly, waving her arms wildly at him to turn around. He did so with a large and exaggerated sigh, and Shilo was sure she caught him rolling his eyes as he turned around. Not wanting any more peep shows, she quickly slid into the slender black pants and tight black jacket that had GeneCo patches stitched onto the sleeves. They actually fit nicely and would have looked decent if they didn't have a logo that she associated with greed and murder.
"Okay, I'm done," Shilo said irritably. "How does it look?"
Graverobber plopped a black helmet on her head before assessing her, looking her up and down in a critical manner. "Something's missing…" He darted over to the cluttered table and cleared some trash onto the floor, obviously searching for something. "Ah. Here it is. Don't worry it's not loaded" he said as he suddenly appeared with a large, black automatic gun with a leather strap. He slung the strap over her neck. The huge gun looked strangely out of place on the petite figure before him. "Close enough. Tonight we will find out just how convincing you are!"
"Tonight?" Shilo wasn't sure she was ready to parade around as a GenCop in the middle of the night.