The smell of rotting blood and filth was thick in the air, deep in the darkness of the alley a lighter flared, pale yellow light flashing on china pale skin.

Drawing towards the dumpster, the figure swam into focus and I got a good look at her. She was well worth the stare. She was trouble. Long black hair parted down the middle with eyes that leeched darkness from the surroundings. Her mouth was small and kittenish, a pale bloom of colour amidst the monochrome white and black. Her dress was short and severe against her dead pale skin, and it rode up where she'd sat on the dumpster, exposing slim shapely legs encased in small black boots. Silver smoke ribboned up towards the smog filled heavens from the cigarette dangling from one corner of that small mouth. Not a bad looking kid if you chose to ignore the hardness in those black eyes or the serious set of that cute little mouth.

She stared at me from her perch and I damn well stared back, met those hard eyes and let her get what she would from a lazy grin. Shoving my hands deep in the pockets of my overcoat, I waited the kid out. Everyone in the city, provided they were the right kind of everyone knew where to find me, so it wasn't a shock to see the kid there like she'd been waiting since before the sky went black. Silence stretched out between us, unraveled like the smoke curling out from the cigarette she clasped between two long thin fingers.

"I hear business has been slow, with GeneCo under new management." Her voice was light, airy despite the heavy atmosphere. With that first observation out of the way, she took another draw from her cigarette and watched the smoke drift.

"Won't say it hasn't been a bit more relaxed." The kid was watching me now, and I was watching her legs cross and uncross, letting her unwind her spiel.

"Look. I'll cut the bull. I have something you want." Tired with a trace of frustration in her tone. She'd had a lot of time to figure how this encounter would go and I was betting she hadn't figured I wouldn't jump at whatever she was dangling in front of me.

"I'll say." I grinned up at her, watched her eyes grow hot as she sucked fiercely on the remains of her cigarette.

"Fine. I have a couple things you want. One of them is money." She paused, flicked the butt to the ground delicately and licked her lips. "The other? Not on offer."

I pulled a face and she flushed, pulled a pack of cigarettes out from under her garter and stuck one between her lips.

"I happen to know where you could get some more zydrate." The lighter flashed again, her skin temporarily sallow from the light. "Enough to supplement what you've got, maybe win you back some customers."

I raised an eyebrow, said nothing. It was a tempting deal, and I couldn't help but look for the razor in the apple.

"You in or what?" Her voice frayed at the edges and it clicked, somewhat. She had the product, but no way to move it and I figured she didn't have a way to get at it either. How I got mixed in, well she needed someone to trust and I'd saved her ass a few times. As for how she stood to profit from any of this, either she had another angle or she was relying on a noble side I don't quite have.

"What's in it for you, kid?" Watching her face flutter through emotions was entertaining, and telling. That hardness went pretty damn deep but she was still a kid, underneath it all.

She settled on a slight knowing look, infuriatingly blank and I shrugged. It was a screwy deal, and the girl was more twisted than a corkscrew but I needed the cash. Not that she needed to know that. Besides, if you get fucked over by a little girl, you deserve the shit you get.

"Fine, c'mon kid. Let's celebrate." She stared at me a long moment, some of the heat still in her eyes and held out her hand imperiously. Bowing, imagining how the kid managed to get up there in the first place, I hauled on her arm and she clattered off the dumpster to stumble into me. She glared up at me through the tangle of her hair, straightened her skirt (giving me a glimpse of those long slim legs meanwhile) and strode off down the alley ahead of me.