Disclaimer: All original characters and such belong to Twisted Pictures.
Summary: The opera is over. Shilo is alone. What she's seen has shaken her. The house she shared with her father is not a place she wants to return to. In an entire city, there may be one person left to keep her from spiraling into oblivion…
Pairings: None intended, but Grilo if you like
Rating: K+ for over cautiousness and blood.
Author's Note: I never thought I would be able to watch this movie because of the gore, let alone become obsessed with it. But the storyline and music are phenomenal and my best friend and I have fallen easily into the roles of two of the characters and we're doing tons of roleplaying and fan art and everything so it was high time I started making some fanfiction with the head canon I've developed.
After Curtains Fall
The farther she walked, the quieter it got. All the noise and chaos and humanity was crowded up against the building that had housed the opera, spilling its overflow onto nearby sidewalks and streets. The aftermath of Rotti and Blind Mag and her father was still creating a maelstrom, hours after she had left the stage and stepped out into a frighteningly dazzling show of lights and cameras and far too interested, noisy, insensitive people, for whom the bloodbath had been merely another show for the bored, surgery-addicted masses. Shilo had ignored the cameras shoved in her face, the excited questions, the stares, the waiting limo, and had turned right on the sidewalk, head down, and simply started to walk.
For several blocks, some of the nosier and more annoying reporters had continued to follow her, along with a number of irritating citizens who seemed to positive drool with curiosity over the scandal and possibility of this tiny, sickly, unknown girl, daughter of a Repo Man, being the new heir to GeneCo. But even if she had wanted to say something, which she absolutely did not, she couldn't. Words stuck with emotions in her throat and every part of her body felt numb. Her head stayed down and after ignoring them for several minutes she didn't even notice them anymore. So she wasn't entirely certain when it went from her mind editing them out of the landscape to them having had actually dropped away out of frustration and boredom.
Shilo was alone on the streets and it was getting darker. She barely noticed the dark, or where she was going. Her mind was frozen from what had happened. It wasn't even attempting to process the experience, instead more or less ignoring it. But eventually, the cold air settled on her bare arms and legs, so under protected by her short strapless black dress, boots, and black net arm warmers. She stopped suddenly, and stopping finally made her realize how long she had been walking – her feet and legs ached but had gone completely unnoticed by her massively punished brain. She blinked and stared around at the cityscape. She was at that junction where it began to switch from all monitors and GeneCo advertisements to black market stalls and filthy dumpsters that doubled as apartments for some of the city's less lucky residents. Her heart picked up a little as some of her preservation instinct kicked in and she evaluated her surroundings. She was lost, but not so lost that she couldn't make her way back. She'd never had a reason to use them, but she could read a map. There wasn't much for a sickly teenage girl locked in her bedroom to do but study, and she'd studied every scrap of information she could dig up. From here, she was certain she could make her way home. Without getting cut to pieces.
But she wasn't sure she cared about that anymore.
She wasn't sure what, if anything, she cared about anymore. The world was too big and ugly and for the first time in her life she didn't want any part of it. She almost wanted to return to her bedroom, lock herself in, and never leave again. But the thought of returning to the house she had shared with her father for what felt like generations ago or in some other life filled her with such dread and fear that a wave of nausea swept over her and she had to stop and press one hand against the side of a building and press the other to her stomach. That's when it finally hit her that she had nothing and no one. Her father, the one person she'd ever truly cared about and who had ever truly cared about her, was dead. Mag, her idol and godmother, a woman she'd just met, was dead. Her mother had been dead for ages. Rotti, her one-time attempted benefactor, was evil incarnate and now was also dead. She couldn't trust anyone he was associated with, which cut out an enormous chunk of the population. Her aloneness began to seep into her very bones, and it seemed best perhaps to simply lay down on the cold cement and let her life ebb away with the night.
That's when the zydrate junkie stumbled out of the alleyway and into the main street, all skimpy leather and fishnets and dangly earrings and that post-z dumb grin. She spotted Shilo and gave her a careless little wave. Shilo found herself raising a hand in response out of sheer instinct. She just stared for a moment as the woman stumbled away, but her appearance sparked a memory hidden in the folds of Shilo's shock-stunned brain. There might not be a somewhere, but maybe there was still someone. Someone she barely knew, but maybe…
The sliver of hope was enough to make her legs start working again.
GraveRobber had almost more customers than he could handle, a needy horde of scantily clad women pawing desperately, pleadingly at his clothing as he held the zydrate gun above their heads, teasing. He smiled to himself, though, as money appeared out of pockets and bras and was tucked away in his own pockets. He lowered the gun and began administering doses, sorting through the jumbled crowd as quickly and efficiently as he could. The women began to fall back, collapsing with cries of ecstasy as the blue chemical invaded their brains. He smirked, and continued dosing his clients.
A new customer appeared in the alley, lurking in his peripheral vision, as he administered the last of the zydrate and worked to untangle himself from the bliss-ridden addicts now collapsed at his feet. The figure wouldn't have been remarkable, and he wouldn't have turned to get a better look before completely extricating himself from the pile, except that the figure didn't move. Didn't try to arrest him, didn't try to approach him – not the law, not a customer. But those were the only two types of people who were ever seen around here, so, confused, he turned to get a better look.
Small figure, a girl. Long dark hair, short black dress. He squinted, because she stood in the shadows. And then he finally recognized her. The girl from the graveyard, the one he'd helped home. Shilo, wasn't it?
"Hey," he said, casually hiding his curiosity.
She didn't say anything, so he slowly began making his way to her. As he got closer, details got clearer. Her arms were crossed tight against the cold, and she was having a hard time making eye contact. When he was almost within arm's length, he finally noticed the blood. A lot of blood, all over her arms and shoulders and legs and dress.
His eyes widened. "Hey, kid. You okay?"
She still said nothing.
"Is any of that blood yours?" he asked.
The only answer he got was a shiver and her eyes briefly flicking up to meet his before returning to the ground. In that brief second, though, he saw some kind of darkness and pain, and thought he might have seen her chin quiver.
"Whoa, hey," he said quietly. He looked over his shoulder. All his clients had their fill of z and were now either stumbling off, rolling on the filthy ground in ecstasy, or making out with one another. He turned back to Shilo. "Okay, okay. Come on…" He slipped the heavy coat from his shoulders and draped it over the girl. She half disappeared into the garment and looked even smaller and more forlorn than usual. He put one arm around her shoulders and guided her into a side alley, down some stairs, around a corner, through another alley, and into a tunnel that suddenly opened up into a graveyard.
Her body and emotions still numb, Shilo had at least managed to feel a little relief when GraveRobber recognized her. Her arms had been crossed tight against her chest, trying to hold in some kind of warmth, and her hands gripping the opposite icy forearm. She hadn't been able to look at him, because she wouldn't have known what to say or even do. Her emotions had been appreciative when he approached her instead of waiting for her to make a move. But her emotions hadn't known what to do when he took off his coat and put around her own frozen shoulders. She'd barely been able to walk as he guided her away from the site of his most recent zydrate sales and through a confusing series of hidden back passages before emerging into a cemetery.
The cemetery was all headstones and tangled vines and dirt and the stench of death, and she pushed away thoughts of her father, and whether someone would bury him, if he would be buried next to Marni, or if he'd get a headstone at all. Between her mental confusion and the chaotic setup the cemetery, she was barely aware of how GraveRobber was suddenly leading her down, underground, through a hidden entrance to what seemed to have been, at one point, a chapel. She stood in the middle of the fairly large stone room as GraveRobber stepped away from her to stoke up a fire in a small, makeshift hearth. The place was worn and showed its age, along with a healthy coating of dirt, but was still cleaner and better organized than she had expected. If she had consciously been expecting anything at all.
GraveRobber hung a metal container over the slowly growing fire and turned back to face her. He pointed at the only furniture in the room, a small, half-made bed pushed into one corner, and instructed, "Sit."
She wanted to listen, even managed to make eye contact, but she couldn't make herself move.
The man didn't sigh, but the movement of his face suggested it. He came back to her side, took her gently by the arm, and led her to the bed, where he pushed gently down on her shoulders to make her knees buckle. She sat, and he turned back to the fire.
For several minutes, the only sound was the crackling of the fire. GraveRobber crouched by the hearth, his long brown hair with streaks of red and blue and who knew what else almost glowing by the light of the fire. Shilo wanted to thank him, apologize for her weakness. She hated being taken care of, hated being needy, knew she was beyond this. But every time she thought of her father's life leaving his body as she held him in her arms, her brain locked up. She bit her lip because she didn't know what else to do.
She looked up as GraveRobber removed the metal container from the hearth and placed it on the stone floor. She could hear a liquid sloshing inside. He turned and removed a piece of grey cloth from an alcove tucked into one wall. He picked up the container and brought it and the cloth to where she sat on the bed, and proceeded to sit down beside her.
"Kid, is any of this blood yours?" he asked, as he gently slipped the coat off her thin frame.
She didn't quite hear him at first, so he repeated himself, putting a cautious hand under her chin and gently turning her to face him. Their eyes met, but she still couldn't answer him. Now she'd heard the answer, but the events of the opera were so jumbled that she couldn't actually remember if she'd been injured or not. So she simply stared, her mouth opening a little, helplessly, as she tried to form an answer but couldn't.
"Okay," was all GraveRobber said, and then he was dipping the cloth into the warm water and bringing it up to her shoulders. With utmost care, he began wiping at the congealed blood. She started at the sudden contact, but the cloth was warm and his movements were gentle. After a bit, she couldn't help herself – the emotions bubbling around inside of her still couldn't make a proper escape, but she allowed herself one indulgence. She dropped her head onto the man's shoulder.
And he let her stay there. It made the work of cleaning her off a little harder, but he was willing to work around the small inconvenience. Her behavior, combined with the blood and bits of information he had overheard from his customers before they turned into the begging mess they always did, suddenly made sense. The latest GeneCo opera had gone all to hell and the poor kid had been caught in the middle. He suspected the blood on her was from Blind Mag, and probably from her father. He was still a little deficient on details, but he knew he could clear that up in about thirty seconds with either a trip to steal a paper or by holding a vial of zydrate over the head of a customer.
Or maybe the girl would tell him herself. Unlikely for a while, he amended in his mind as he took stock of her, rinsing the bloody cloth in the warm water and returning to her shoulders. The blood was dried and tacky and he didn't want to hurt her as he scrubbed it off, so he settled for slow wiping motions across her back and shoulders, and down her arms. He hesitated before he tried cleaning her legs, not wanting her to think he was trying to take advantage of her in her vulnerable state. But she simply buried her head further into his shoulder and let out a small whimper. A heartbreaking sound, and he didn't think it was possible for his heart to even be affected at all at this point. He rinsed the cloth again, the water in the bowl turning pink.
He carefully peeled away the netted arm warmers she wore, and wiped up the diamond shaped patterns of blood they left behind. Looking as best he could with her head on his shoulder, he saw some blood on her cheek and went to wipe it away, but hesitated for a moment when he saw the pattern of fingers and a palm. Someone in their death throes had reached out to touch her face. Something beneath his hardened exterior shifted uncomfortably. He sighed, and wiped the handprint away.
Shilo didn't stir, and he suddenly realized she hadn't yet cried. Her face wasn't reddened or wet, and he personally had not seen a single tear fall from her eyes. He shifted her up suddenly, taking a hand and making her meet his eyes again.
"Kid," he said. "You can cry you know. I'm not gonna make fun of you."
She looked dazed, and maybe a little disbelieving.
"Really. I don't know what happened tonight, but I know it ain't good. You'll get hurt if you hold all that in."
Shilo sagged uselessly against his side. She was quiet for a moment, and then simply whispered, "Someday."
He nodded, even though she wasn't looking at him. He would get details, and then do what he could for her. He hardly knew her, but he sensed something different about her, something worth saving from the streets and the GeneCo buzzards. Underneath that naïve, uncertain exterior were a heart and soul that were stronger than he'd anticipated. She'd adapted surprisingly quickly, keeping her head on straight when he'd accidentally introduced her to the world of illegal zydrate and sex as payment and all shades of back alley deals. He hadn't meant to get her almost killed in the graveyard, and the fact that she was willing to try trusting him again when he found her in one of Rotti's tents showed more bravery than he would ever have expected from someone who'd barely set foot outside of their home for their entire life. There wasn't much worth fighting for in his existence – he collected zydrate, he sold it. He'd learned to live without human contact, even preferred being alone because of the inherent safety in the situation. Outside of the occasional encounter with Amber when she was low on cash, he spent his days and nights alone and liked it that way.
GraveRobber couldn't have articulated exactly what made Shilo different, but he knew that despite his lack of parental know-how or instincts, the thought of leaving the girl to the wolves of the street or the sharks of GeneCo made him sick. "Okay," he said to her. He wiped her face once more and set the cloth and bowl of water aside. Placing an arm around her shoulders, he carefully lowered her to bed. She protested at first, but he put an end to that with "Kid, you need to lay down before you fall down."
Her head hit the pillow and she gazed up at him, trusting and unbelieving and helpless and determined all at once as he untangled the blankets from around her and covered her with them, tucking them securely against her shoulders. "Sleep it off, okay?" He made to leave, to let her work out her emotions alone, to let her get some clearly needed rest, to clean up the place a little in anticipation of her as a long term houseguest, but suddenly her arm shot out from under the blankets and her tiny skeletal hand - bones like those in the wings of a bird – latched around his wrist.
"Stay a little?" she asked.
He nodded and sat back down. "Sure."
She tried to fight it, eyes blinking hard every time they fell shut, but it didn't take long for her to slip away into unconsciousness. GraveRobber stayed by her side much longer, watching her face twitch at the nightmares she was likely having, her pale face glowing by the light of the fire. Hesitantly, not sure where the motion had come from, he brushed a lock of hair off her forehead. Like a china doll, he thought, remembering his aunt's collection. But stronger. She had looked the worst of the world in the face and come away different but unscathed. She had survived Rotti's opera, and while he didn't yet know exactly what that meant, he could guess it was something akin to the gates of hell.
There was something here worth fighting for, and GraveRobber never backed down from a fight.