Author's Note: This idea came to me as I watched the opening credits of the movie. I thought it would be neat if Jacob made his living writing and illustrating a graphic novel based on his life. The timing of this is not long after the movie ends.
I do not own Demon Hunter, it's plot, or any of the characters associated with it. But Lana, and other people and places mentioned that were not in the movie are my own.
The second set of knocks on the sliding sheet of metal that served as a front door echoed within the walls of the small sufficiency apartment. After another long moment of silence it was broken again, this time by the groan of metal on metal as the door was pushed opened a bit.
A woman who looked in her late twenties, early thirties leaned her head through the opening. She was average in height and not overtly attractive, but she had a strong elegant look to her in spite of her attire and surroundings. Her auburn hair had been pulled back into a smooth ponytail that fell down her back, nearly to the waist of her low-rise dark wash trouser cut jeans. Her T-shirt was simple, turquoise and fit to her like a second skin showing off her figure beneath it. Over that she had a fitted black leather jacket. It too was simple; it's only accents a few double stitched seams, a zipper closure, and a mandarin collar that snapped shut. Her shoes were high heals of some form, but there were mostly hidden from view by the long flared hem of her pants.
"Jacob Greyman?" she called again as she pushed the door open a bit more so that she could step through.
The rest of the apartment was as industrial as the entrance. Rough brick walls fought with several large windows to see if the interior should be light or dark. The windows, nearly floor to ceiling, were made of small glass squares all of which looked as if they hadn't been washed, inside or out, for years. In another part of the city the view out of those windows would be spectacular: up several stories, no obstructions. But here, well, it was probably better not being able to see what was outside. Everything about this neighborhood was run down.
Glancing around, the bed, not far from the entrance, was unmade with sheets thrown about. Several shirts and pairs of pants lay either on it or strew on the floor near the foot of the bed. The small kitchen area was stacked with empty beer bottles, and old boxes of pizza. Nothing new about all of that; she had visited his apartment on several occasions before.
The sound of running water caught her attention.
She took another moment to glance around and noting the new additions to his artwork that he tacked to the walls. God was he good at capturing horrors and bleakness on paper. It was a shame that so many of his drawings were just taped or pinned up rather then framed as she thought they should be.
Taking several steps towards the bathroom, she spook again. "Jake, it's…"
She was cut off as the door flew open, slamming against the wall.
Taking a quick step back she threw her hands up in the universal sign of peace.
He looked ready to fight, and like he had been through one recently too.
"Wow, Jake! It's me, Lana." When he didn't advance she knew that he realized that she was a friend. "What the hell happened to you?"
She took a tentative step forward, genuinely concerned. It looked as though he had only just pulled on a pair of pants, his short light brown hair was wet, and he was still dripping. His left eyebrow had been split, and a bruise shadowed the eye. A cut ran just bellow his right temple, and his upper lip had been split as well. Several nasty looking scratches crisscrossed his neck, and his exposed chest appeared equally battered, it just lacked open wounds.
Rather then answer her he took a step back into the bathroom, reaching to the side, snagging a towel before walking out to meet her again. He started drying himself off before he finally answered her, "Nothing you need to know about."
"Fine," she replied, knowing that she wasn't likely to get any more out of him even though she'd like to. "I came to pick up the pages for the next book in your series. You left a message that they were done a couple of days ago."
She walked over to take a closer look at one of the new pieces hung up on the wall.
"Yah," he sounded tired. "I've got 'um over here."
Looking back toward him she watched as he walked to his desk, and rummaged in the large portfolio that was leaning up against it. He looked tired.
"I don't know why you insist on picking these up yourself." He pulled out and dropped a large folder on top of the desk before turning to the kitchen where he looked into one of the pizza boxes to see if a slice was left. "You're the head editor of your department at an international publishing company." Aside from a couple of bites of crust and some cheese that had slid off what had been there he was out of luck. "Don't you have interns, or currying services that you could have do this for you?"
Lana had already moved over to the desk to look at the contents of the folder. She flipped through the 11 by 17 inch pages that would get scaled down, to become the next in his series of graphic novels. Without taking her eyes off of his work she replied, "But then I would miss out on out little chats, and your charming personality. Not to mention getting to see your beautiful face."
He searched through another box and looked in a couple of cupboards too. Giving up on food for the moment he turned to the fridge to see about something to drink. Beer. At 9 in the morning he supposed that he shouldn't, but honestly, why should he care? Besides, it wasn't like he had gotten any sleep last night; logic said that for him it was just late in a very, very long day.
"I don't know if you look like you could use a beer or a coffee." Lana, who had glanced up briefly, was back to skimming through the new pages. "Either way, you definitely need something. Oooh, now that's one heck of a twist. You've never had Jeremiah work with a partner before."
Lifting up a page it showed a woman, not unlike Lana, knocking on his door, and introducing herself as a Sister Karina Nayr from the convent associated with the church that Jeremiah worked for.
Jacob's expression darkened, but he did offer a response. "He's never needed one before."
She shrugged as she flipped through several more pages. "I suppose it makes sense, you are setting him up to take on a serious demon." Stopping on a page, she summarized the key information it had. "One of the seven fallen angels turned demon. Each one is associated with one of the seven deadly sins. Umm juicy: this one's is Lust."
Looking back up at him, her thoughts skittered back to reality. He was in a bad way, and whether he liked it or not he needed some help. "Why don't I step out and get you a coffee or something while you finish getting dressed?"
Exhaustion tugged his head down as he rubbed at his hair with the towel. She never just took the work and left, not to mention that she tended toward the tenacious side. He wasn't up to butting heads with her, not over something like coffee.
"Sure, if you can find a decent cup near by."
She almost had to laugh. Several of her colleagues regularly commented on her ability to find all of the good coffee shops, no matter how little she knew about the area. She had a nose for the scent of good coffee, and could tell with a single whiff if it had gone bad.
"I think I'm up to the challenge." With that Lana left, making sure to close the door behind her.
Jacob rolled a sour shoulder before picking up a shirt off the floor and giving it a sniff. It seemed clean enough, besides all he planned on doing after Lana left would be to go to sleep.
Not even a block away Lana stepped into a small bakery. It looked run down, in need of a good cleaning, fresh paint, and a dozen little repairs that she could see from where she was standing. The glass case was cracked in a couple spots and the coffee pot behind the counter looked like it had seen better days too. But the coffee smelled good, and what was in the case looked like it had been made with loving care. Lana had a feeling that the stuff would taste good too.
"Hi," she offered a big smile. "Can I get two cups of coffee to go with two, no, make that three, bagels?"
The older gentleman behind the counter nodded and added a heavily accented "Yes." He then turned toward the doorway that lead to the back and called out in a language that Lana couldn't place.
A moment later a young man stepped out from the back.
He smiled then spoke. "Hello, we only have one size of coffee cup, will that be alright?"
"That's fine," Lana registered his lack of accent and guessed that the father's English wasn't that good, but that the son, raised here, could speak it perfectly. "You wouldn't happen to have any cream cheese to put on the bagels, would you?"
The younger man thought for a moment, "I believe we do, but only plain."
"Plain is just fine." Lana's expression and tone were still cheerful.
He started to turn to head toward the back but stopped. "Would you like those toasted?"
The young man took the bagels into the back with him. A few moments later she heard the older gentleman speaking, again in the foreign language. The son responded, and it sounded a bit like an argument. Lana guessed that things like cream cheese and toasting were things offered to locals who could probably speak the language, not outsiders. As it continued on she took another look around. The place was clean, even if the grout between the tiles was darkened with dirt. The glass was clean, no streaks, even if it was pitted in sections. Overall, it looked as if they did the best they could with what they had.
The young man came out again, his smile lessened and not as genuine. In his hands though were the cups and the three bagels, toasted, cut in half with cream cheese spread between.
"Thank you very much." Lana's smile remained, unshaken. "Do you think you could put cream and sugar in one of those, and include one of those tasty looking croissants?"
As he turned to take care of that she pulled a bill out of her wallet, and folded it over a few times so that it couldn't be identified until it was unfolded. He put the pastry into a bag with the bagels then put it on the counter with the cups of coffee.
"Here," she put the bill down on the counter, picking up the bag and coffees. "Keep the change."
With that she offered another smile and turned to walk out. The young man started to protest, until he finished opening the bill. He fell silent and simply stared at it. This was the first time in his life that he had held a one hundred dollar bill in his own two hands. His father came out to see why his son had started like that. When he saw what was in his son's hands his eyes grew wide.
As soon as she got back to the apartment she noted that Jake was dried off, dressed, and sitting in one of the couple of miss matched beaten up chairs that he had beside what served as his dinning room table. He had even cleared some of it off, moving the trash into a pile off to the side.
"Here we go, two cups of coffee, some bagels and a pastry for me."
Setting them down she popped the lids off, putting the one with cream and sugar in front of where she would be sitting, giving him the other. He reached into the bag and pulled out one of the bagels. Promptly he proceeded to scarf it down, all the while eyeing her, and she watched him.
Around a bite of bagel he asked, "Alright, what is it that you want? Why do you keep coming around?"
Lana shrugged. "Curiosity I suppose."
Jake's expression darkened and turned weary.
She noted the change but went on. "I know you pick your names carefully. I looked up Jeremiah. It means God will uplift, and yet he is half demon and there for damned to hell. What does Karina mean?"
He waited a moment, "Pure."
Lana nodded, "And Nayr?"
He looked away and shrugged. "She had to have something for a last name."
"I can see that." Taking a sip of her coffee she chewed on croissant for a bit. "Pure seems like an odd choice since she is discovered to be a half breed herself when she turns full demon. I did get that far."
Jacob started in on a second bagel, taking several large bites before offering any sort of response. "Sure that's what happens to her, but that's not who she is. Besides the name is for her in her nun form, which works."
They ate in silence for a time.
Now that Jake had eaten a bit he slowed down to register what he was eating. "Where did you get these?" He took a swig of the coffee. "I haven't been able to get a decent cup of coffee near here, and the bagels are still warm."
"A little bakery not even a block from here. It looked to be a family owned place. The parents are immigrants."
Jake gave her a strange look. "I know the place. The first and last time I went in there they practically ignored me, the coffee was crap, and I think they dropped my bread on the floor."
"Seemed nice enough to me, although the older gentleman, who I think might be the father, came off as a bit rude. My guess is that his English isn't very good."
"Just what did you do?"
Lana simply smiled. "You might try mentioning me if you ever go in there again. Although saying my name won't do it, I didn't exactly introduce myself."
Jake finished up the second bagel, and just shook his head. He looked into the bag at the third, but hesitated.
"Go for it. Unlike some people I eat breakfast."
Lana finished up her croissant and watched him eat for a little bit. "I got the gist of how this book is going to end. I just want to know now if you plan on ending the series with this one or not."
"Don't worry about time lines, the next date that your contract says you have to show me anything isn't for a good few months since you're giving me this early. I'd just like a heads up, that's all."
Jake offered another shrug, but after washing down some bagel with a swig of coffee he did respond. "I don't think it will be. At least that's not what the plan is for the moment."
"Good," Lana was relieved to hear that. "I'm glad, because the controversy that's started to brew looks like it's going to turn into some real publicity which should boost sales. It would be a sham if that happened when the series was drawing to a close."
"Controversy?" Jake was only a little interested. Honestly he had half expected that someone would have taken issue with it before this point. Not that he cared what they thought.
"Yes, from the local Catholic Church. From a Cardinal White in particular, who happens to bear a striking resemblance to your Cardinal Whitby." Watching closely Lana added. "You wouldn't happen to know with him, would you?"
Jake snorted before he took another sip of his coffee. "I know of him, but saying that I know him would be a bit of a stretch."
The corner of her mouth tugged up. As she had suspected: he knew Cardinal White, at least to some extent. "They're claiming that your series paints them in a bad light, or something like that. Honestly, they don't have much ground to stand on as far as that argument is concerned; mostly because it has been out for a while and they are just now getting around to being offended. This next book will probably offer them more material to work with. It will be enough for them to gripe loud enough to get media attention, but not enough for them to actually get any legal traction. So all they'll really be doing is helping you."
They sat in silence as they finished their coffees. Jake's mind was going to what was going on in his life and just where he was going to be going. It didn't surprise him that Cardinal White was going after him, particularly his other source of income. He admitted that he didn't know much about all the legal mumbo-jumbo that went on, but he trusted Lana's assessment. She wouldn't say that sort of thing unless she knew, like she had looked up the law or spoken with a lawyer.
With his mind coming back around to her, the woman sitting pretty much across from him he realized that he had gotten accustomed to her being there. Honestly he couldn't remember the last time that had happened to him. Most people didn't come around enough, either because they didn't want to, or for the few who tried, because he discouraged it, strongly. What ever her reasons were he didn't really get it, but he could hardly tell her not to come back, especially since his other means of making a living had just been cut off. Not that he regretted his decision. He just knew that he had to pay utilities and buy food with money and that had to come from somewhere. But as far as Lana went, his best guess was that she liked to check in on the people she published to make sure everything was fine so that they could keep on doing what they were doing. And him, she probably though he needed closer watching since his life was probably more erratic than most.
For Lana, she did like checking in on him. The reasons she gave her boss were because his lifestyle was abnormal, and isolated, and work was getting more and more followers, some one had to check in regularly to make sure that nothing drastic happened without being noticed right away. Honestly, she felt someone should keep an eye on him for his sake. Always being by himself wasn't healthy. That, and she was curious to see if she could figure out where his ideas came from. Others may not pick up on the little things, but she did. And she saw more then a few parallels between Jeremiah's life and Jacob's.
With her coffee done Lana got up and tossed the container on top of the rest of his trash. Picking up the folder with the pages in it she slid it into an opaque plastic bag she pulled from her purse to keep it protected until she could get them into the portfolio in her trunk.
With no other reason for her to stay she started for the door, but stopped and turned to look at Jake again. "If you need anything you know you can call, right?"
Jake nodded. She had said that before, but he honestly had never seriously considered it.
"And let me know when you knew where you're going to head from here."
Even though she lifted the bag under her arm to indicate the series he had the strange sense that she meant him, not his story. There was a long pause before he finally looked back up to meet her gaze, "Alright, when I figure it out I'll let you know."
Smiling Lana finally said good-bye and withed him luck.
Jacob stared at the metal door after it closed behind her for a bit before he finally decided that he should hold off further thinking about the future until after he had gotten some sleep.