Author's Note: Okay, so here's Chapter 3, and again I find the need to stress that doing this dialogue is so supremely difficult. The first half of this chapter flew by, but as soon as I got to the actual interaction between Graverobber and Shilo, I had to put on the brakes and really focus on the structure and flow of the words. I really have to give props to Darren and Terrance; All I'm doing is writing lyrical dialogue, and I'm having so much trouble with it! To imagine the work they went through to write Repo! is just staggering.
She only saw fleeting glimpses of him after that. She'd shown him to a room, stocked with all the basic necessities, and then left him to get acquainted with the building which was to be his new home for as long as he agreed to stay. Shilo had specifically chosen the most remote room for him, not wanting him to unnecessarily get mixed up with the struggling junkies once they started to arrive.
Shilo had her own work to do, but there were also lots of people moving quickly in and out of the building. They were members of the Society, getting ready for the clinic opening. Not only did they need to be ready for residents immediately, but there was bound to be press, and Shilo insisted that the Society be as transparent as possible. Any reporters who wanted a more intimate look at the workings of the clinic would be invited right in, led on a tour by Eve. Once they had a few patients to take care of, the media would have to back off, but Shilo had found it was better to satisfy their curiosity during the initial rush, rather than have them hound you for weeks until the story died.
Among the bustle of work and excitement, Graverobber wandered. He'd taken a shower, a luxury he hadn't indulged in for quite a while, and then passed out for a few hours on the bed in his room, which was an even rarer luxury. Clean and refreshed for the first time in years, he strolled through the halls and rooms of the clinic wearing leather pants and a simple linen shirt, his only real change of clothes. He explored with interest, taking a close look at what Shilo had devoted so much time and energy to.
He had to admit, the place was decent. Standing four stories, he guessed it could house upward of two hundred people. Apparently, Shilo dreamed big. The rooms were simple but clean. There was a standard cafeteria, what looked like a game room, and another good-sized space with chairs set up in a circle. Graverobber smirked; ah, the classic support meeting setup. At the back of the first floor there was office space, and when he came to a door marked 'Shilo Wallace,' he let himself in.
The office was neat and very impersonal. The biggest consent to personal preference was a small bookshelf on the wall behind the steel desk. Papers of various sizes were sorted into piles on the desk, and with a careless swipe of his hand, he fanned a few out to inspect them. Bills, licenses, ledgers, inventories; nothing even remotely interesting.
Shrugging, he moved on to the book shelf. There was some really old stuff there, novels from the 20th century and earlier, mixed in among self-help books and guides to addiction and overcoming it. He pulled out a slim, leather-bound copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He'd read part of it once before, and enjoyed it. Maybe with all this new time on his hands, he'd be able to finish the story. He slipped the book into his back pocket nonchalantly and wandered out of the office. There really wasn't much else to look at in there.
He paused, wondering where he'd last caught sight of Shilo. He'd seen her talking to some workers out front, but a glance from the main hallway told him she was no longer there. He slipped out the back doors and into the garden, realizing night had fallen already. Hell, Shilo could have already gone home. He took a walk down the first garden path, and had to admit that in his thirty-five years, he'd never seen anything like it.
Faint humming broke him from his musings. With the stealth that came from years of grave robbing, he made his way to the very back of the garden, which was closed in by tall stone walls, with ivy slowly crawling up their sides. A marble fountain sparkled like a crown jewel in the path's cul-de-sac. The sculpture was of some ancient, dancing goddess, and the water poured from her hands and eyes. On the ledge circling the small pool, Shilo sat. In her black corset-top and skirt, with her fingers trailing in the water, she looked like something out of a Victorian dream. The humming he'd heard was her, her soft voice drifting over the notes like the water over the statue-goddess's body. He didn't recognize the tune, but it was pretty and kind of sad. Very Shilo.
She began to sing, transitioning smoothly into lyrics. "When you think that you're alone, we're alone together. When you think that you're undone, I will whisper never. In the dark at night we speak; your words carve so deeply. We see now our future bleak; there can be no sleeping. When I cannot move alone, you help me keep living. When the world still seems so wrong, to fate you're unforgiving. You may hate the you inside; I must disagree, because the you that you hide goes with the one in me." She went back to humming, bringing the notes through a bridge to a lilting, yearning melody. As she sang, Graverobber had circled the fountain and begun moving up behind her. He wasn't one for soft laments, but her voice was beautiful, and he just couldn't resist. When he was just feet behind her, she began again. "Let me show you what beauty truly is. I see strength in your eyes. Right behind you, I cannot give enough. Self-deprecating lies take from you all that I was, and I was... your love..." To his shock, she turned her head enough that he could see her profile. The straining notes of her song were still in the air, but her next words were spoken. "Did you enjoy the show?"
He chuckled moving to stretch out on the fountain beside her. "How long did you know...?"
"That you were here? Not that long." She turned so that she was sitting facing him.
"Why did you keep singing?"
"Because I wanted to finish the song."
That was a good enough answer for him. They rested in silence for a while, the only sound the flow of the fountain. He thought about her song for a while, but psychoanalyzing the young woman's lyrics wasn't exactly on his to-do list. His mind wandered and he ended up just watching the motion of her fingers in the surface of the water. Finally, Graverobber got bored. "What are you thinking?"
She sighed. "That I'm sinking."
Uh oh, this was dangerous territory, and it had come on fast. Graverobber sat up, putting a little more space between them. He had a business agreement, and yeah, maybe a little history with Shilo, but emotional baggage was so not his territory. "There's got to be a better person for this conversation than myself."
"Who else?" She paused, and her eyes studied him. "You were my first glimpse of the real world..."
"Well, that's unfortunate."
"A dose of reality for a naïve girl. In a single night, my life was destroyed, and afterward... all I could hear was your voice. 'An entire city built on top of the dead.' Those words swirled round and round in my head. I looked for you, you know."
His brow creased as he frowned at her. "Tell me you didn't go..."
"Covered in blood, broken in every way, I stumbled into the alleys of Hades. Even knowing my sickness was a lie, I couldn't shake my mental disease. I thought, perhaps, you'd have my cure."
He stood swiftly, turning his back on the devastating look in her eyes. "All that talk is just a lure!" But of course she'd bought into it. She'd been seventeen, and anything but street-smart. "I run a business, pure and simple. For every market, a sub-market grows. All Zydrate does is make you a cripple; forever after that next hit of glow."
"It's not like I found you, anyway. Besides, even then you were tired of that life, weren't you?"
"I was; I am." Yeesh, when did this turn into a psychology session? He should have known that being around Shilo would be a bad influence on him. "I'm sick of the hypocrisy that bleeds its way into everyone. I'm pissed that I couldn't escape being a victim of this corporate machine; if GeneCo's the heart, then I'm the kidney. I got into this trade to mock them; to make their lives hell. But I guess even I was entranced; caught by the little blue vial's spell. Are you happy now, Shilo? Is this what you wanted? To know that sometimes, even the Graverobber is haunted?"
Her touch on his shoulder was gentle. When had she gotten up? Probably while he was ranting, but now his effort to separate them was foiled. She circled him until they were inches apart, though he was still significantly taller. Regardless, she reached up to hook her hands behind his neck, and she lay her head on his chest. The hug was a sweet gesture, but an unfamiliar sensation.
"There's already been so much pain; such despair we've all known. All I want is to help rid others of that pain, and then perhaps escape my own."
He patted her back awkwardly, suddenly unsure of himself and trying not to show it. He wasn't used to compassion. He wasn't used to anyone caring what he thought or felt. He wasn't even sure why he'd told her those things. Maybe it was to make her stop talking about her own issues? Yeah, that was probably it...
It had come out suddenly, and pretty much without his permission, and that wasn't allowed. If Graverobber had learned a single thing in all his years, it was that if you wanted to stay alive, you stayed in control. It was because of that that he stepped away from Shilo and her warm, un-manufactured heart.
"Listen, kid. If you want to escape your pain, you'd better get used to the idea of addiction. Chemistry is the only path to actually make it go away, otherwise... you have more conviction than anyone I've ever known." He turned from her so he could head back down that darkened path, back to the room that he couldn't think of as his; to the bed that he may or may not sleep in. Beneath his breath, he gave her a more civil farewell. "I wish you luck, kid. But if you actually succeed... then even I underestimated how much you've grown."
Okay, so for the coming chapters, I'm approaching the story and Shilo and Graverobber's history as if they never cut all those extra scenes from the movie, and there was actually a lot more interaction between the pair on the night of the Genetic Opera.
SagePoint: who stole Marni's body from the Wallace home?