The walk home alone bothered him.
He fiddled with his scrappy shirtsleeves and looked behind himself enough to be considered paranoid. Every sound he heard from birds to cars sounded like Raffe.
"You'll regret this, both of you!"
He tried to keep his mind on his mission to calm down. Emily couldn't be any older than eighteen, but if she was, maybe they could rent an apartment together—just so Emily could afford to live there. Maybe A-Rab would move in…
Getting an apartment meant that they would have to earn some money, and Doc would only pay them if they earned more than Emily's stay. Maybe Baby John could get another job. Something better he can do when he's not working there.
Shoes, he thought, Emily needs shoes. How was either of them going to afford a new pair for her? She couldn't work the store barefoot. Just then, something in a shop window caught his eye.
They were simple and black with a small bow on the top. Nice, comfortable looking shoes with the smallest heel a woman's shoe could possibly have. He never liked heels much. They always looked so uncomfortable.
He smiled brightly at the sweet-looking shoes. They looked so perfect for her. He looked at the small sign next to them "SALE: WAS $16.25 NOW $12.95!" His heart almost stopped. He didn't have near that much, and he was lucky if he could keep that much longer than three days. He stared at the pretty little shoes, so close to him, but still so far away from her.
It would be easy enough, he thought. He pulled a small, mangled paperclip from the sole of his shoe and turned it over in his hands. Then he looked at the lock on the shop door. It was a small shoe place. They probably wouldn't have an alarm, and if they did, it would be so easy for him to grab the shoes from the window and be out of there before the shop owners showed up.
It's for Emily…He reached for the handle with the paperclip, but he saw that his hand was shaking. He'd never be able to undo the lock even if he wanted to steal the shoes. Even if he wanted to…He didn't want to. He wanted Emily to have the shoes, but he didn't want to steal them from such a small shop. And it wasn't a nice shop either. They probably didn't have a whole lot of money in the first place.
It's for Emily…He reached for it again and tried to undo the lock, but his hands were shaking so much with the guilt that wasn't even his yet. He had to stop. Holding the paperclip up in his hand, he dropped his head and closed his eyes.
"Maybe I can raise the money," he said quietly to himself.
"You always were the softest a Jet could be." The sudden comment startled him and he turned to see Ice leaning against the wall, almost completely invisible in the shadows. "You never could take anything that wasn't yours."
He shook his head." That's not true. I used to steal all the time. That's how I got here, in the gang."
"You used to steal all the time…" He came forward and reached for his hand, taking the paperclip from him. Baby John bit his lip, but he didn't say anything. "You've given back more than you've ever taken. You could be living the dream if you had just learned to stay cool and tell people no once in a while." He stuck the paperclip in the keyhole and moved it around smoothly. He could hear the tumblers falling over in the lock. "You're sweet, Baby John." He pushed the door in, and it didn't make a sound. The whole shop was dead silent. Ice's voice moved down to a whisper that sounded like something a snake would do, "That's your problem." He slipped inside and reached for the pretty black shoes.
"Ice," Baby John whispered. Ice looked at him to hear what he was about to say. He tried to say something, but no words came out of his mouth. It's for Emily…"Be careful." Ice shook his head, half-smiling. Baby John frowned as he watched Ice steal the shoes he just couldn't, quietly lifting them from their resting place, carrying them out of the shop and closing the door so smoothly and quietly that the little bell he never noticed on the door before didn't even tinkle.
Ice lifted Baby John's hands and placed both the shoes and the incriminating paperclip in his palms, closing his fingers around them. "Don't let her walk around here for a while," he said, turning back to face the shadows. "Unless of course, you think she'd be safer in jail." He walked away, leaving Baby John alone in front of the shop, holding the stolen shoes that moments ago were a fantasy for Emily. He looked at the tiny black bows with a strange mix of gratitude and disgust.