A year passes. Well slightly longer than a year, it was her second Christmas on her own. She sat on a barstool on the far end of the bar wanting only to be left alone. She was able to get through every other day of the year with grace but on the holidays things got complicated. She needed to get away from her empty house.
The bar was simply decorated in typical bar things, neon signs calling out the names of different liquors, dark leather booths, the token jukebox. It wasn't a high class place but it wasn't overrun with scalpel sluts and super creeps. Good enough for her.
She stared at herself in the mirror behind the bar. Over the year so much about her had changed. Her hair hung in waves surrounding her face in an adorable bob, it was the same color as her mother's had been but not quite as curly. It was weird to think that she didn't take off her hair before a shower now. Her skin lost some of it's sickly pallor. She was still pale but she looked more alive now. Then there was her figure, she'd finally put on enough weight not to be described as a sickly wisp. Her father's meds hadn't kept puberty from hitting her but it kept her sick looking so no weight would stick. She sort of hated and loved the fact that she actually needed a bra now.
The best thing to come from all these changes was the simple fact that no one recognized her from the opera anymore. Part of her guessed Graverobber -the only person alive who really knew her- wouldn't even recognize her.
When that thought ambled through her mind she couldn't help but go back to her useless rage that day. When she'd told him to get lost for no other real reason than she just wanted to hold on to the one thing that seemed to ease the pain for the moment, made her feel alive for a fleeting moment.
A few days had gone by most of the physical symptoms diminishing with the passage of time but she wasn't out of the woods yet. Graverobber had been coming and going like he lived there himself but never staying too long. She seemed to enjoy having some company.
She'd realized Graverobber had rummaged through her father's cabinets that first night and her mood swings took that not so well. The fact that she was dwelling on the fact he wouldn't give her the one thing that might have made this whole process just a little bit less miserable probably didn't help him. 'He said he'd hook me up. I shouldn't have helped him down!'
As soon as he came through Shilo's secret passage she heard him and met him at the landing with her arms crossed and her face hard.
He knew that look, he'd made plenty of women mad in his time but this one he had no idea what he'd done. Before even mounting the first step of the stairs he threw his hands up in surrender. "What did I do?"
Something inside her wished she was stronger on more than one occasion she'd imagined herself overpowering him and taking his zydrate by force. Then the part of her that was still rational realized that she couldn't overpower the man that was nearly a foot taller than her and far more weathered by the world. "You just think you can come in here and go through things don't you? I don't even know who you are!"
"Kid, I don't know what you're going on about." He said as he dropped his hands unsure of what to do.
"My name is Shilo! And the man -whose belongings you were snooping through- was Nathan Wallace! Those were Nathan Wallace's things! Not whatever the hell your name is!" Shilo looked like her soul lit aflame in rage.
Graverobber honestly never expected this from innocent little Shilo. The shut in who he imagined to be all that was pure left in the world, anger didn't seem to be part of her. A dull ache filled him, it was hard to imagine it was only a few days before that he'd believed the world to be so poisoned that hope was useless. He'd just began to feel something again.
"Shilo, I went into your father's medicine cabinet to find something safe to help you with the pain." That was all she let him say.
"Because you can't part with any of your precious Zydrate?" She hissed.
"I'm not getting you addicted!" He finally raised his voice.
She laughed a bitter laugh. "You're a drug dealer who defiles bodies for a living. Don't act as though you have morals."
"I'll just go." He spoke biting his tongue. 'Sorry my job isn't as upstanding as your father's.' He held those words in the cage behind his teeth.
"Don't come back either! I never want to see your face again!" The rational side of her was shouting at the back of her mind that he hadn't really done anything to deserve this but it didn't matter her rage was to all consuming at the moment. She'd never so fully succombed to her anger. Not even when she was yelling at her father on her last night with him.
Part of him was relieved, this was better than he could have hoped for so far as a good time to leave goes. The quieter part was left with that same old ache. "Don't worry kid. I don't really have the time to fuss with shut ins anyway." The cold tone he used was worse than the fact he didn't even look at her when he said it just walked over to the same passage he'd entered through and made his exit.
The sinking loneliness took hold of her again, it was only after he was gone that she realized her folie. Part of her spoke and it echoed through her ringing in her head as much as the gunshot had. 'At least he's getting out before this angel of death strikes again.'
She ordered another shot in his honor. She even said, "Make it blue!" just to really get closer to the idea of the zydrate dealer that haunted her memories.
His wanted pictures had been taken down from all around the city, she wondered if his screaming when he was in a guarded cemetery had finally gotten the better of him.
She was so lost in these thoughts she barely tossed a thanks to the bartender after he sat her drink down and she was completely oblivious to the man who'd taken a seat a barstool away from her.
Eyes roamed over her then her drink he smirked as her fingertips brushed the blue liquid bearing glass. It even made him subconsciously toy with one of the little glass vials in his pocket.
"Are you going to drink that or just reminisce over it?" He asked with a laugh in his voice.
The voice sent a chill through her she ignored it and didn't even look to the masculine voice. "Who reminisces over a drink good sir?"
"The same sort of a person who spends Christmas alone in a bar." The smile in his voice didn't falter, even in just the sound you knew it was a smile filled with mischief. "Maybe the sort of person who gets a drink that reminds them of something else."
Finally he'd piqued her interest. She raised her head enough to look at him through the mirror. She smiled. There was no mistaking him for anyone else. The voice seemed such a distant memory until she really listened and she'd never trust anything but her own eyes anymore.
She dropped her head back down with her smile unrelenting. Then she really started toying with the glass, running her finger around the rim. "What do you think it'd remind me of?" Her voice dropped as well, it was a voice he would be less prone to recognize.
The man who moved silent as the grave moved to erase the chair between them. "Something a bar doesn't serve." His words were suggestive at best.
"Then, as I am at a bar, that would be something you could guess I don't want." She responded back in the same tone as his.
He leaned in closer nose touching her hair as he whispered in her ear. "First hit's free."
She scoffed here, ignoring the shiver that ran through her spine from the sensation of his breath on her neck. "Because the first hit sticks." She still remembered everything that happened that night even with the duress of the pain.
He pulled his head back and turned her face to look at him. As soon as he saw those eyes he knew the girl he was looking at to be the shut in he'd spent so much time wondering about, more so once that old house was vacant. "Shilo?" His voice a whisper.
Her wry smile held a cynicism that she'd never had before. "Yes and no. The new name is Madison."
His eyebrow popped up. "Madison?"
"Well, Marni and Mag were already taken." She spoke before finally throwing back her shot. It was like she'd asked for some sign of him and gotten far more than she'd asked for.
He looked at her trying not to reveal that he'd thought about her since he realized someone else had moved into the house that was once the girl's prison. Admitting that he went back to do more than harvest from the bodies in the secret passage way would have been too much. Admitting that he worried would be even more daunting.
They spoke together, "I thought you were dead."
They both laughed at this less than typically funny topic. Their lives both seemed suited to the darker humor.
"A man who has an order on his head for kill on sight just comes up dead makes sense." He said with his wry smirk in place as he sipped from his glass filled with amber colored liquid.
"A naive girl whose whole family just kicks off just left alone, makes sense." She replied in the same tone.
He could already tell she'd learned a lot since the opera. Way different than the little girl who was still playing on withdrawal's mood swings when he left. "Yeah that one makes way more sense than the street hardened grave robber ever getting caught." His devilish smirk was going full tilt now.
Amber Largo, she'd abandoned the fake last name but kept the adopted first, sat behind her desk. The main office at GeneCo had changed greatly since the glamor queen had taken over. She hated the sight of the old simple office her father liked so much. Maybe it was just because it made her think of him, maybe the way he'd made her feel.
She'd almost forgotten the old lawyer sitting across from her as she reviewed the latest status report on the Wallace girl hunt.
"Amber," He spoke fighting for her attention. "I know you and your brothers have been hunting for Shilo Wallace since her body didn't turn up six months after you took over. The girl's obviously not starting a coup, the three of you should let it go."
Amber knew the sensible talk would come from him soon enough. She kicked off her heels under her desk and gestured for the henchchicks to leave.
He started feeling her right foot caress his leg. Soldier on he did though. "We've made so much headway with the public. If they they heard anything of this or if she did come to an untimely demise and they even suspected that could start a bigger riot than the girl alive could."
"Walter," She spoke in her lowest tone. "Don't worry about it. We're not putting anything in jeopardy. No one even remembers the girl. They all think it was an act, aside from father's death of course." Her foot ventured even farther up his leg. Up his thigh and she enjoyed watching as his whole body tensed as her foot ran over his penis ever so gingerly.
His smooth voice was gone. "B-bu-but why does it matter if she's alive then? Didn't you dispose of the will?"
"That thing is long gone." She said speaking her words slow letting the sounds take nice round shapes on her lips knowing he'd follow them.
Graverobber ventured to the opera house knowing how this usually went, opera over only people there until the next one should be the halfwit cleaning staff they were easy enough to avoid. He liked lurking in empty places just imagining them full in another version of his life where he was in the crowd and they were with him. But that wasn't what he was doing tonight he had business to attend to. It was a good thing too because it wasn't as empty as he'd hoped.
Of course it was too late for any sane person to be hanging around, so who else would he run into.
"Graverobber," The faux saccharine voice hissed at him from the wings of the theatre before he'd even finished making his way up the stairs to the stage.
Oh, he was ready for her. "I thought I wouldn't see you anywhere near a stage anytime soon, Miss Sweet. Just trying to save face?" The smirk on his face was cruel and absolutely unstoppable.
She walked toward him heels clacking against the stage coming into the light to show him she'd already found some skin to toss over the flesh that was so fully exposed earlier. "What are you doing here Graverobber?" Her voice a hiss from clenched teeth.
"Amber, don't cut off your nose to spite your face." He wouldn't let this go, it was too good. "I'm here to help you. I can make daddy's unsigned will disappear, no one will be able to prove it really says anything. Just tell the ignorant sheep that it was really part of the show. The media hype to create some sort of new buzz for GeneCo. You're business minded enough to fill any other blanks."
"How am I supposed to believe this isn't going to end up in the hands of some liberal lawyer who's going to start a fire that leads to a riot at my door?" She asked actually thinking about his offer.
He scoffed. "Honestly sweet cheeks," that one was a little more subtle, "Do you think I want change? With GeneCo run by the Largo's my business will keep booming. Why would I try to hurt my own profits?"
She looked at him thinking he was right. Anyone else would ruin the illegal Z business. Now that she was in charge she could make it a little bit easier for him seeing as he was her favorite dealer and he was making a pretty damned good offer. "I want this destroyed. Not just hidden at the bottom of whatever dumpster you're squatting in."
He sighed at the assumption. "I don't live in a dumpster. I'd be way easier to find if I did. Consider it done, Princess." The last word was just to mock her.
She held the folded up contract, he hadn't even noticed in her hand that had been tucked under her crossed arms, out to him.
He looked at her and saw for the first time some genuine emotion floating in her artificial features.
"Carmelia," The new name came shortly after the addictions but he was one of the few who actually knew her then. "You didn't feel your face wasn't fully attached tonight, you might need to cut your Z intake back a notch." The old him that came before the streetwise drug lord wasn't going to quiet down that night.
She looked at him honestly sort of curious. "You really never had your face replaced have you? It never feels fully attached, never again."
This was the girl who'd just lost her father, no matter how distant their relationship had become, vulnerable. He wouldn't take anymore jabs right now he'd save some for when her facade wasn't so weak. He turned to leave even managed to get a few steps before she spoke softly.
"Why didn't he ever love me?" The words like a bullet in the night piercing right through the recipient.
He half turned back at her, he had no more kind words to spare. "You have to love yourself before anyone else can."
Desperately she reached out with her words once more. "Did you ever love me?"
He rolled his eyes. "We don't even like each other." Then he went on his way talking to himself loud enough for her to hear. "Seriously, this bitch has more daddy issues than a bus load of strippers." He hoped taking care of the will would get the Largos' minds off Shilo. Plus Amber thought it was for them, he knew even with his rudeness he'd get some slack from the GeneCops.
A/N: So I totally changed this chapter. It became a hybrid of the 2nd and 3rd chapter that I think came out way better.
Anybody else wonder why the the lawyer voted Amber Sweet for CEO? ;] I'm drawing some conclusions now.