Fast feet, heavy breathing, wild eyes... pounding heart. Graverobber sprinted through the overfilled graveyard, ducking the guards and dodging their search lights at every turn around every new headstone. He wasn't only evading them tonight, however. If he were, he would've been having a lot more fun because those cops, those blasted GeneCops, were about as useful to law enforcement as Zydrate was to a corpse. Graverobber couldn't help but smile slightly as his witty analogy, given how meaningful both comparisons were to his current situation.
But anyway, on a normal day, evading the GeneCops was just another one of Graverobber's favorite games. He loved to run from them, scream to draw their attention, then run off again before they ever even got their bearings. He would dart in and out of their numbers, not a single one of them able to catch him in all his shadow-like glory. They would threaten to kill him, but they were never skilled enough to actually do it. They were stupid. They might've had big, scary guns, but it was clear that next to none of them knew how to shoot. Graverobber even wondered if the guns were actually loaded given that he had yet to ever see a GeneCop shoot. They would wave their guns and yell, but Graverobber never heard a single bullet leave the gun. Maybe it was all a farce? Fitting, given what they did and who their master was...
This thought sobered Graverobber up. Maybe he even found the master of the GeneCops, Rotti Largo, to be worthy of great disdain, but at the same time, that man could still be very dangerous and was not to trifle with. After all, petty or not, he had the entire world in the palm of his hand and he had a particular type of law enforcer that was far more effective, and thusly far more terrifying, than any of the GeneCops combined. Repo Man. Everyone in Sanitarium knew about Repo Men because everyone in Sanitarium had had at least one organ transplant and with every transplant came a financing contract and in every financing contract came the promise that those who defaulted on a payment would have that organ taken back by this monstrous figure. Even Graverobber knew this, he just never thought he would've hit that low of a level. But he had.
Graverobber was a drug dealer, it was how he made the money to afford his heart. Maybe grave-robbing and drug-dealing was illegal, but money was money and as long as Graverobber paid his due at the end of every month, the people over at GeneCo didn't care where the money came from. Of late, however, business had been slower than usual. Fewer and fewer desperate youngsters came crawling up from the alley to see him in the dumpster every night, and he had no idea why. Was there another drug dealer in town? Not that Graverobber had heard. Were all of his old victims starting to sober up? Doubtful. Were they all dying from faulty payments with GeneCo? Possibly. But it shouldn't be this fast.
One of his few remaining buyers was none other than GeneCo's favorite, and only daughter, Amber Sweet. Graverobber instantly bristled as he thought about her. She might've been his most loyal customer, but because she paid more in sex and not money, she wasn't exactly helping him finance his organs. Not that he'd ever stoop low enough to ask her to switch back to cash only so he could afford his heart. No, he was far too prideful to ask her, to let her know the truth. Unfortunately, either way, the bad business was finally starting to catch up to Graverobber. Literally.
Graverobber dared to peek over his shoulder just once, just a little, and his still-beating heart nearly stopped early. As quick and quiet as Graverobber had been, the Repo Man was still hot on his tail, maybe only a couple feet away. How? How was this possible? The graveyard was Graverobber's kingdom! How had this Repo Man managed to keep up so well? And why couldn't it have been GeneCops tonight? It was so much easier to give them the slip even if the graveyard was just as much their home as it was Graverobber's. But then Graverobber realized that maybe the GeneCops were only there for show. After all, who needed a police force when you had one man who would hunt his victims down to the end of the earth without fail every single time? Repo Man was a far scarier legal figure than any other cop Graverobber had ever known.
At last, Graverobber had fled the cemetery entirely and was back in the city streets of Sanitarium again. He ran by neon lights, shabby buildings, rusty pipes and mechanical voices advertising the latest cosmetics. All of it passed in a dull rainbow blur. He looked over his shoulder again. Coast was clear. At least for that moment... Graverobber had just allowed a small wave of relief to wash over himself when he suddenly slammed into something solid, but warm. What? Had the Repo Man somehow gotten ahead of him now!? The impact sent Graverobber to the ground and he was almost too afraid to look up and look death in the eye, but he still forced himself to put on a somewhat charming grin. Maybe he and the Repo Man could strike a bargain? After all, he'd paid faithfully for the past few years. Maybe the Repo Man would give him this one little extension? Just once? Just for a few days?
"Listen here, old boy," Graverobber began, trying his best not to sound like he had just got done running a marathon, but then when he finally plucked up the nerve to look his attacker in the eye, he was left speechless. It wasn't one man, it was two, and neither were Repo Men. They were Amber Sweet's bodyguard. Of course. Could this day get anymore fun-tastic?
"Oh! It's you two! I thought you were someone else," Graverobber rose slowly to his feet, a bit calmer now that he realized the Repo Man still might be stumbling around in a different alleyway trying to find him. But time was still of the essence. "Listen, fellas, it's been great to see you and all, but I gotta skedaddle!" Graverobber made to move past, but they both stopped him, soundless and in perfect unison. Graverobber's concern began to turn into irritation. "Perhaps you fine gentlemen misheard me," he grunted. "But I have somewhere else I need to be. Right now."
"Oh no you don't," Graverobber finally received a verbal reply. It was feminine and had come from a few feet behind the guards. Of course, it was none other than their charge, Amber Sweet herself. "You ain't going nowhere until you've given me another hit!" Amber Sweet emerged from the shadows in a dramatic fashion, flipping her now short, copper hair over her smooth shoulders. Her green eyes, they were blue last week, glittered brightly in the dull streetlights.
"Ah, no sweetheart, I'm a bit preoccupied right now," Graverobber grinned through his teeth, jerking a finger over his shoulder. Maybe he could no longer see the Repo Man, but that meant nothing. He could be literally anywhere. So Graverobber had to go.
"Preoccupied?" the green eyes suddenly narrowed. "What schedule do you have to keep?"
"I have other clients," Graverobber replied testily. "You're wasting my time. Move."
"I didn't know you were a door-to-door salesmen," Amber pretended to applaud Graverobber. "Daddy would be proud!"
"Oh, shut up, Princess," Graverobber tried to shoulder by again, but Amber only needed to tilt her head and the guards had blocked the path again.
"Listen. Amber. What do you want from me?" Graverobber demanded, truly getting angry now.
"I didn't know you were a door-to-door salesmen," Amber repeated. Just for a moment, Graverobber thought he detected a bit of envy in her voice.
"Look, darling, I'm not," Graverobber grunted, surprisingly serious. "But I've got to go."
"But why?" Amber whined, sounding more like her old, childish self. Her answer did not come from Graverobber. It came from the Repo Man.
Out from the night, from the mists, stepped a figure. He stood tall and ferocious and Graverobber was certain that his natural skin was now as pale and colorless as the makeup he wore all the time. Amber, however, became the opposite. That childish anger melded into something more serious, reserved, controlled and powerful. Her eyes were still narrowed and her arms were still crossed, but suddenly, she no longer looked like an angry five year old. She looked like a beautiful young commander ready to take on the world. She strode bravely up to the Repo Man until they were only inches away while Graverobber could only watch in awe and fear that anyone, let alone Amber, would have the nerve to do that.
"Excuse me, sir, but just what do you think you are doing?" she demanded coldly. Graverobber quickly shot a look at Amber's bodyguards. Nope. Still as expressionless as always. He suddenly felt out of place, being the only one slightly unnerved by Amber confronting a Repo Man. And she was so bold about it too! No shyness or fear at all in her posture or voice.
The Repo Man seemed surprised by Amber's intervention, but for once, he did not kill. Of course he wouldn't. Who knew what Rotti would do to him if he did dare lay a hand on her? Maybe Rotti didn't particularly like Amber, but he knew how much the press liked her. It would be PR Hell if anything were to happen to her. So the Repo Man almost seemed to shrink himself, standing at a smaller posture as he handed Amber what Graverobber assumed was his contract. Amber took the clear sheet of paper aggressively from the Repo Man's gloved hand. Ooooh, flirting with danger again. Graverobber was still astounded by how boldly Amber was going about this. What was she planning on, anyway?
"Oooh! You imbecile!" Amber sounded like a child again, even waving the contract around a little bit as she began to whine to the Repo Man. Graverobber wasn't sure if he found it hilarious or disturbing to watch this young woman complain at a Repo Man as though she were a child arguing with her father about another, trivial matter. Then again, if it was Graverobber's life on the line, maybe that was trivial to Amber Sweet. Just as long as she could get her next hit of Z, he supposed. But no, what Amber did next surprised Graverobber very much. She didn't just tell the Repo Man to go away or wait for about 10 minutes, she began to accuse him, and by proxy, her own father, of reading a contract wrong.
"He already made his payment!" Amber whined, voice high-pitched and nasally. "It just didn't go through our systems! Don't you know anything? You stupid Repo Man! There's been issues with the computers for days now because we're trying to upload that new system, or whatever. The one that Daddy keeps claiming will increase "overall efficiency and productivity within the workplace and the general popular" or whatever! But it hasn't! It hasn't!" Amber even stomped her foot a little. "It screwed everything up and I had to reschedule all my surgery appointments and I know it's been impossible for some of our computers to handle! We've already had this problem before, this idiot just didn't get it sorted out," Amber jerked a thumb in Graverobber's direction.
"Idiot?" the man sounded affronted, brow furrowing a little, but Amber shushed him without even turning around to look at him.
"He paid already. He was one of the names the system rejected for some reason. I should know. Daddy made me and my idiot brothers go look at it. He just hasn't sorted his stuff out yet," she finally turned around to give a perfect look of disdain. "He probably doesn't even do this on a computer at all. I bet he just leaves a wad of cash on our doorstep with his name on it, then runs!"
Graverobber opened his mouth to argue how rude and offensive that was to him when he remembered that that was pretty much exactly what he did each payment cycle. He shut his mouth again and, just for the barest of seconds, Amber flashed him an amused and cunning grin. Then she turned back around to face the Repo Man.
"He already paid for his heart!" the heiress insisted coldly. "If you don't believe me, go ask Daddy! I know his account hasn't updated, but go ahead and kill him and go tell Daddy you just repossessed a paying customer! I bet he won't like it!" Amber's voice trailed off dangerously and the Repo Man actually seemed quite awkward. It would've been a funny sight, had Graverobber not still been a bit afraid of the massive man all in black. The Repo Man then retook the transparent paper back from Amber and bowed his head, trying to make himself even smaller before the girl who was essential Queen of the World. Amber nodded once, coldly, and then he turned away, trudging back off into the shadows.
"Wow. Well that was a-" Graverobber let out a shaky breath, but before he could finish, Amber had silenced him again. An offended look returned to his painted face. Ok. Wow. So not called for!
"Give me my phone," Amber demanded of one of her bodyguards. He obliged, pulling a small purse from behind his back and opened it up. Amber strutted over to the bag importantly and shuffled through it until she had her phone. Graverobber observed the young woman as she logged into system after system with passcode and facial recognition both. She swiped through multiple tabs and security protocols and typed in strings of numbers and letters, sometimes coherent and sometimes not, until she finally landed upon one particular page.
"My account!" Graverobber leaned closer to the phone. Amber ignored him completely as she scrolled through all of his info. It bothered him greatly to see how much GeneCo actually knew about him. They had his name, estimated age, financial information, everything! But Amber wasn't interested in any of that. She scrolled down to another area of the screen that listed how much money Graverobber still owed this payment cycle. Amber chuckled grimly when she saw how high the number was, then switched the screen over to her own personal account. Of course, debts were totally clear because Rotti paid for every surgery she ever had, but she still had quite a few dollars of her own. She quickly withdrew some. Just enough to cover Graverobber's current debt. The necromerchant did not fail to notice this. Then Amber returned to his page and placed all of the money she had withdrawn into his account. The red number turned green as the difference between the amount he owed and the amount he had paid became a clean and even zero once again. His debt was clear. At least for now.
"There you go. Problem solved," Amber sighed, tossing her phone dismissively back into her bag now that its use to her was over.
"And you don't think Rotti will notice that the payment was only just interested tonight, still past its deadline?" asked Graverobber.
"Oh, I already told you, our "computer systems are down". I can make something up," Amber shrugged. "Besides, is that any proper way to thank you savior?" she added. Savior. Graverobber shuddered at the word and at the thought of Amber being it to him. Maybe he would've rather taken the Repo Man's knife after all. This was embarrassing, to say the least!
"You won't be making much of anything up if you're higher than plane when you go home," Graverobber brazenly ignored Amber's question in attempt to hide his shame, but Amber wouldn't let him get out of it so easily.
"I will fix it. Don't you worry. Now why don't you come on and try to thank me for saving your life?" she whined.
"Because the thought alone makes me ill," Graverobber finally replied, totally serious.
"Hmph! You think I like having to walk through these repulsive streets, peering in dumpster after dumpster trying to find you?" Amber crossed her arms and complained. "It's rotten, it stinks, and its disgustingly wet everywhere! The thought of coming to see you makes me ill!" she cried angrily.
"Then why do you keep coming back?" Graverobber demanded at last. "Why did you save me?!"
"Sometimes I wonder why I even bother!" Amber replied angrily.
"And why not go to somebody else?" Graverobber continued to probe.
"Who else?" Amber scoffed.
"Anyone else!" Graverobber echoed the scoff. "You can't tell me I'm the only Z dealer in town."
"Perhaps not," Amber admitted. "But you're still always my first choice!"
"But why?" Graverobber was fed up with her games, humiliated by the fact that she technically had saved his life, and surprised at how open she was to admit that he was the only Z dealer that she came to. Despite her resources, he was the only one she came to. Why did that make him feel proud? It was an uncomfortable sensation and it manifested itself in irritation. He continued to snap at Amber, confused and cross.
"Why?" Graverobber asked again, but slower this time, and quieter. "Why did you save me?"
"I don't know," Amber replied crossly. "I just did. Now I've got cash and I've got a body. Are you selling, or what?"
"I suppose," Graverobber's shoulders slumped a little in defeat, seeing that Amber wasn't going to give any more than he was. He reluctantly pulled out a little glass vial and the Zydrate gun. "Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with you," he grunted.
"That's a good boy," Amber purred, then she took his gun. A warm feeling of raw ecstasy filled her veins as the gun went off inside of her.
A few nights later, the two were in a similar position, only this time, Amber hadn't yet gotten her shot of Z. Graverobber's account, however, had been mysteriously filled already, his next payment cycle having been completed on the very first day.
"Why did you do it?" Graverobber asked Amber again, but she still wouldn't give an inch.
"Why were you so far behind on last time's payment?" the young woman shrugged casually, in a much more sexual and relaxed attitude tonight than a few nights ago. She had asked this question, figuring that Graverobber wouldn't respond, but he actually did.
"Business has been slow," he confessed with a grim grin.
"Slow?" Amber seemed genuinely surprised.
"Yeah. Not many customers come by my dumpster anymore," he said. Once again, he thought he saw something akin to real pain and real emotion flicker in Amber's now-hazel eyes. They were a slightly lighter shade than last time. This time, though, the emotion was not envy. Or at least, it wasn't only envy. This time, Graverobber thought he saw sadness, anger and... worry? No. But why had she sounded so genuinely curious about his business? When had she ever really cared for him or his line of work?
"Don't tell me people are actually taking your advice to sober up?" Graverobber tried to joke, uncomfortable with how carefully he was analyzing Amber and how emotional she seemed to have become of late.
"Ha!" Amber scoffed once. It was a horribly dry, grating, empty, emotionless sound. It was cold and cruel. Graverobber was never one for poetry or metaphors but, in that one sound, the man couldn't help but be reminded of a coffin or a tomb. The sound, so harsh and hollow and gray, reminded him of an open grave, just waiting patiently for someone else to come by and fill it up. It was not a hungry grave, devouring all that came too close. It was just a hole in the ground. It was horrific in its own right, a hint of true sadness and misunderstanding laced within...
But the thing about an empty grave? It meant whoever was supposed to be in it was still alive. Or at least, if they weren't exactly alive, they were not dead yet either. They still had a chance to feel alive. An empty grave, Graverobber knew, could be both terrifying because of the implications, and liberating due to the cold hard facts that an empty grave could equate to life. Or potential life. What was he thinking when he was analyzing that one short scoff from Ms. Amber Sweet? What did he hear within those sour tones?
"So how did you pay my debts? I thought Daddy kept a tighter hand around your purse strings?" Graverobber asked calmly.
"No, he just won't let me by GeneCo Zydrate. He forbade employees from selling it," Amber shrugged back, more willing to talk now that Graverobber was no longer directly probing her for information as to why she'd chosen to protect him that night.
"But he doesn't bother to try and just ban your monetary flow entirely?" Graverobber scoffed. "Seems like a bad business choice."
"Perhaps," Amber gave another dry laugh to match his own. Who would've ever thought that a princess and a common street rat would ever manage to utter that same, despairing and dark-humored laugh? It implied commonality and understanding even though the two were opposites.
"I just assumed it was because I do buy other stuff sometimes and I don't think he would want to have to keep feeding me money every time I bought something else. You know, like jewelry or clothes, something non-surgery based," Amber continued.
"That happens often?" Graverobber snickered. Amber only rolled her hazel eyes.
In 30 minutes, both of them were panting and on the ground. Both of them were on Cloud Nine, even though Amber's was tinged with blue. Graverobber looked down at her body, twitching with the ecstasy that came from his gun. Graverobber couldn't help but grin darkly as he pulled out his second gun, loaded it up, then fired. Amber twitched again, gasping and smiling into oblivion. Graverobber really wasn't sure why he kept hanging out with Amber, nor was he sure why she kept hanging out with him. Both of them were good in bed, yes, but was that really any reason the two of them kept coming back to one another specifically? Seriously. It made no sense to him at all, but it still happened. Day in and out, Amber was his most faithful customer, never failing to come for him and him alone. And she had still saved him... But why?
Graverobber knew life was strange. He didn't expect to understand any of it at all. But this? Even this seemed impossible, insane and trippy. Him and Amber? What were they anyway? Just a drug dealer and his little slut. But why had she saved him? The question refused to leave him be. He didn't have any doubt that she hated him. But there must've been something in him, aside from the drugs and sex, that she liked. Something that she liked enough to save. Sure, maybe it wasn't exactly hard for someone like her to call off a repossession and start paying someone else's bills, but it was still an unnaturally kind and sacrificial thing for someone like Amber to do. That was what got Graverobber. He knew how selfish and petty she was. So this unexpected gift from her to him must've had some sort of ulterior motive. But what?
The man shook his head. It seemed that Amber was going to be life's greatest mystery for him. So heartless and brainless, yet so determined and cunning. He wasn't just impressed with her unexpected kindness to him. He was impressed with how well and easily she did it. She defied her daddy so well despite claiming to adore him and to be his perfect little princess. But then again, Graverobber smirked to himself, wasn't that why they were together at all in any sense? To defy Rotti? Because in the end, if nothing else, both of them hated the fat old creep. Their mutual distaste for him, his attitude and the lifestyle he forced them into united them more than what it seemed. But even if Rotti was the tie that bound them, why had Amber saved him? Maybe she would be lonely if he were to die. After all, who else could she vent to safely? Certainly no one in GeneCo! And who else did she have except for him anyway? Graverobber was no romantic, but just in this one moment, he took a sadistic bit of pride in the fact that Amber seemed to at least consider him better than anyone else around. And of course, there was that childish thrill that came with working together to defy Rotti and knowing that there were some secrets they only told one another. Maybe not in word, but in action.
There was a thrill in the rebellion that was their affair, and it wasn't just carnal. It was also on a psychological level. The thrill lay in knowing that it was their one act of defiance in such a cruel and twisted world. And the thrill lay in knowing that they were in it together, sort of. They were partners in crime. One supplied, the other demanded. They kept a steady business growing right under Rotti's fat, upturned nose. While he acted all high and mighty, one of his biggest pawns was rebelling, thinking for herself, choosing her own fate. Maybe it wasn't a good one, but it was her own. Graverobber could respect that. He would've loved to see the fat old toad burn too. He and Amber could dance on the ashes and celebrate, still keeping those secrets between themselves and no one else in all of the world.
If only he could've read her mind then. As loopy as Amber was at the moment, she was still coherent enough to be thinking about Graverobber. It was true, she found him to be dirty, disgusting and vulgar, but for some reason, that actually attracted her. She found him funny, when he wasn't being an obnoxious and selfish idiot who wouldn't come up and try her new parts. But that was the thing, she didn't like him as a friend, or even a lover in the sexual sense and she hated him as a person. But she liked his personality, the aura he gave off. But she knew he was a terrible human and she would've killed anyone who assumed that they were "pals" or whatever. But then, why had she saved him? Was it because she felt possessive of anything that came in contact with her too many times, even if that included smelly old drug hobos? Was it because it was another act of defiance against her dad? Sleeping with Graverobber already was an act of defiance in and of itself, so maybe her active protection for him was only the icing on the cake. Salt in the wound. And of course, her actions would hit Rotti right in the weak spot. As meticulous as Rotti was, especially in regard to business, finance and repossession, he still managed to be so oblivious to everything that wasn't himself or his gold. That was why Amber was sure she'd be able to pull this little "paying Graverobber's fees" trick off. Rotti would never notice. He never noticed Amber anyway. Was that why she'd saved Graverobber? Because he was the only one who did seem to notice her? Was he the only one to see the real Amber Sweet? Even if only a little?
But Amber knew that this noticing of her may not be that genuine. She already knew Graverobber had slept with over half this city already. But she still felt somewhat special in his eyes, crazy and cliché as that sounded. She felt that, no matter how many girls he slept with, she would be his favorite. Why? She had no clue. She just knew she was his favorite. She was on a level with Graverobber that no one else was on. Maybe she had no clue what that level was exactly, or how or why she was there, she just knew it existed and that thought alone soothed her vanity into satisfaction. She took a sick and strange pride in being Graverobber's favorite, illogical and impossible as that all seemed. But then again, she had always been one of his smarter customers, if not the sexiest. Amber didn't know if she had the body, but she had the mind, and she knew exactly how to win anyone over with what she did have. It was a gift she'd inherited from Rotti. At least not all of his genes were total crap. Though that did not stop the occasional flash of jealously whenever another woman came too close to Graverobber while Amber was in the area. She liked being the favorite for once, even if the person in particular was a thief and criminal.
That was why she'd seemed irritated by the idea of Graverobber delivering Zydrate to anyone personally when he'd always made her come out and get it. That was also why he'd suffered such a decrease in customers over the past month. Amber had tried to send his customers to other Z dealers to keep him to herself. Or at least, she did until she realized what a detriment that was to his business. Now, even though she was going to pay for his heart, she lured some of Graverobber's old customers back again. She still hated all them and how mindless and touchy they were, but business was business and everyone had their value somewhere. But Amber still made sure that Graverobber wasn't actually in the business of delivering Zydrate before she allowed the other girls to go back to him. Yeah. She was selfish, vain and possessive. So what?
Now, lying in a dingy alleyway in the middle of a smoggy night, this strange couple could only wonder. Graverobber stared at Amber's limp and vulnerable figure and wondered why she would even bother saving him, of all people. Amber stared at Graverobber's crouched and maybe even protective figure and wondered why she would even bother saving him, of all people.
AN: Here you go, PsychoKillerWolf (AO3). Hope this met your standard and wasn't too boring or repetitive (some of the reflections in this piece were in the other one, I admit). Also, sorry I didn't quite meet the midnight deadline. College is busy. But anyway, it was still fun to write this and I am glad you requested it.
So I'm raising my (nonexistent) glass to you and your kind reviews and hope that this tribute properly conveys my genuine gratitude. (If something does seem a bit off or in need of a change, let me know and I can fix it. I admit this was a bit slap-dash, so don't be afraid to criticize it. Or heck, if you just want more, ask that too. Give me another prompt and I'll give you another story).
Sidenote: That last clause regarding criticisms and requests for my stories applies to everyone, not just PsychoKillerWolf, though they will get slight priority since this is their story and it was their review.
Also, this is not necessarily a sequel to "Sometimes I Wonder Why I Need You At All", though it can be. And yes, I am aware that the titles are backwards, but that was just how they were written chronologically. If it really bothers anyone, just read this one first. Like I said, they aren't necessarily sequential.