Now.

June 2057.

The second the shadowed figure appeared at the end of their escape route, Graverobber tightened his grip on Ne's arm. He heard her quite curse, but didn't respond verbally. Instead, he pulled her against the side of the alleyway, trying to stay in the shadow between a dumpster and the damp brick wall. He had unconsciously positioned himself in front of her, his stance defensive - protective, almost, if being protective was really his kind of thing (not that he'd ever admit it if it was . . .) - and didn't take his eyes off the Repo Man standing ahead of them.

When he spoke to her, his voice was barely a murmur. "If he turns, you run."

"Graves -"

"No arguing!" He cut off her hissed protest sharply. "Just do as you're told for once! Run back the way we came, then cut through to the next street and get out of the Estate. You know the way."

He felt her hand touch the back of his left shoulder, fingertips pressing slightly harder than they needed to, and knew that meant she'd comply. Even if she didn't like it, which he knew she didn't. He knew - could sense - that they only had a matter of seconds before the leather-clad assassin detected them. Without looking back at her, he spoke just loudly enough so that she'd be able to hear. "Apartment is in the third block on Elton Street. Second floor, fifth door on the left. I'll meet you there."

"You better had." She whispered.

If he'd been a scientific man, he'd have put what happened next down to the fact that Necro's voice was of a higher pitch than his. That would, of course, imply that GeneCo's Repo Men had hearing akin to that of a dog, but that would be an insult to the canine species as a whole. He didn't have time to look for a reason as to why, because the minute the Repo Man turned Graverobber knew that he'd seen the two Zydrate-peddlers. There was something eerie about the way that visor glowed almost the same colour as the Z - a fact he'd noticed the last time he'd encountered this particular legal assassin, too.

"I'd been wondering when I'd have my next run in with you."

The voice came though as slightly distorted thanks to the helmet. It made the hairs on Graverobber's neck stand on end, every single time.

"Wish I could say the same." He addressed him with bravado in his voice, bravado that he couldn't claim was completely unforced.

"I don't think alleyways in this part of the City are the best places to dally with your whores, all things - ah, but no, my mistake."

There was an audible smirk in his voice.

Graverobber knew where this was going, and reached behind him to roughly shove Necro in the direction she needed to run. She didn't stumble at this sudden jolt, and used the force of his shove as the momentum she needed to start running back down the alley.

"It's touching to see that even drug dealers look out for their own kind, Graverobber."

"Gotta keep our numbers up against the likes of you and the rest of the Largo's little pawns." There was a sneer in his voice - that bravado still there, but it was also a product of his genuine contempt for the man before him.

"I never took you for a man of loyalty."

"Loyalty has nothing to do with it." This may or may not have been a lie - as with his seeming protectiveness over the Necromerchant, he wouldn't admit any loyalty to her either. Especially not to a Repo Man.

"Lust, then, perhaps."

Graverobber snorted. "Are we just listing words beginning with "L" that you don't understand the real meaning of? Because I have a feeling we'll be here for a while if that's the case." When he spoke again his tone was almost one of boredom. "We both know how this goes, Repo: the two of us shoot some verbal bullets at each other, you chase after me, and then I either get the better of you or you get called off on one of those delightful organ-stealing jaunts of yours."

"You make our encounters sound so boring."

"I'm tired of this little waltz of ours, what can I say?"

"And I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact your old partner has returned."

Graverobber stiffened at this, and barely managed to growl out a response. "She's gone, now, leave her out of this. It's between you and I, as always."

"I wouldn't be so certain about that if I were you."

Those words created a heavy silence which, though it lasted only a matter of seconds, did much to heighten the tension between the two men. Graverobber swallowed his irritation and tried to claw back a little of his earlier bravado.

"C'mon, Repo. Let's just cut this short and go back to the other part of our little routine - the part where you kill the idiots and give Largo what he wants, and I extract the Zydrate and give the huddled masses what they want."

"I seem to recall a time when you were one of the idiots."

"That was a long time ago."

"And your friend?"

"I though we were leaving her out of this?" Graverobber snarled.

"At the end of the day, Graverobber, you and she are products of this system. As am I, of course. But that doesn't mean that I have to let you go."

As the Repo Man moved his leather coat back to reach for a scalpel, Graverobber moved his own tattered coat aside so that he could shove his hands into his pockets. He took a lazy step backwards just as Repo looked likely to take one in the opposite direction, and his scowl turned to a smirk as he saw Repo's communicator flash.

"That's my cue to just leave you to it, then?" He asked, suddenly sounding almost cheerful. "I do enjoy our little chats, but looks like duty calls for you, eh?"

Repo glanced up from his communicator, and when he spoke his tone could have almost been classed as one of amusement. "Yes, I suppose I'll leave you to have a little chat with your friend. I'm sure you both have a lot to catch up on, considering how long she's been gone."

The small part of Graverobber's mind unclouded by bravado (and relief) had a feeling that there was some kind of significant, taunting point that the Repo Man was trying to make at this juncture, but that was a matter for another time. He pulled one of his hands from his pocket and lifted it to mockingly salute the other man. "Then I'll bid you adieu until next time, Repo." He smirked, before turning on his heel and striding off down the alley - only slowing his pace once he was sure he'd heard footsteps from behind, heading further away from him.