Chapter 2: The First time I won a fight.
"You can get much farther with a smile, a kind word and a gun than you can with a smile and a kind word." ~ AL Capone.
I took the cab back to O-Ushi's place after my first night and went back to the apartment. The first thing I wanted to do was collapse onto the mattress and sleep but I figured that the mission had to come first.
I moved the couch and removed the plastic cover for the outlet for the burner scroll and I dialed the number Ozpin gave me. It rang for a minute before being picked up.
"Mr. Arc?" he greeted.
"Hey," I said, too tired for any formalities, "I was worried for a moment that I was calling at a bad time, I just got off my first shift."
"I take it you found a job then?" He asked me.
"I did, I'm driving cabs for a woman named O-Ushi, I'll be working nights and I just finished mine helping some girl get away from a jewelry store she robbed." I explained to him. "She was some sort of VIP customer for the cab company, I think these VIPs might be other criminals she's acquainted with."
"Good work Mr. Arc," Ozpin told me, "keep up with the new job and see if any of these special clients of hers let anything slip, in the meantime I want you to make O-Ushi and your fellow coworkers understand that you're willing to break some laws for some cash, I imagine being an accomplice to grand larceny on your first night has already helped with that."
"It's a good first step," I said stifling a yawn.
"It is Mr. Arc, but there's still a long way to go, get some rest and call me next week or when there is a development," he instructed me before hanging up.
I collapsed onto my mattress and didn't wake up until the afternoon.
When I came back to work I walked into O-Ushi's office to tell her what had happened last night after picking up one of her VIPs. I was mainly worried that the cops would have gotten the plates off my cab and be on the lookout but it seemed that O-Ushi wasn't worried.
"I already heard about what happened," she explained to me, "that girl texted me once it was done and I reported my cab stolen," she explained to me sitting behind her desk with a cigarette burning between her fingers.
"Won't they find it suspicious that your cab was reported stolen after it was seen fleeing a crime scene?" I asked her as she held her pack of cigarettes out offering me one. I took the offered smoke since I figured it'd be polite and I wanted her to like me for the sake of my mission.
"Don't worry about that," she said leaning over the desk with her lighter to light my cigarette. "I know some people and it'll all be cleared up and nobody will ask questions. How are you doing after all that?"
"Me?" I said after taking my first draw of the smoke and coughing. "What about me?"
"You have a habit of running from the cops?" she asked me, "or helping thieves?"
"This is a first for me I'm afraid," I told her honestly.
She nodded at that and flicked the ash off her cigarette studying me. "At least tell me you got a tip for your trouble."
I fished the diamond ring out of my pocket and placed it onto her desk for her. She picked it up and examined it. "Pretty," she said, tossing it back to me. "I'd wait a bit before you try cashing it, it's hot right now, or give it to your girlfriend."
I pocketed the ring a little surprised that she was going to let me keep it and not try claiming it for herself. "So it's worthless to me now?" I asked her.
"For now, wait a year or two and it won't be so hot, or get someone to strip it for parts if you're desperate for cash," she explained, "that piece of ice should run you a nice stack of lien."
I nodded and took another drag of my cigarette. "Is that it?" I asked her wondering just what else there was to talk about if she had everything handled.
"Tell me Jaune," she asked through a cloud of tobacco smoke, "are you at all interested in earning a little something on the side?"
I shrugged. Of course I was very much interested in getting deeper but the last thing I wanted to do was look suspicious by acting too eager. "I mean I'm not opposed but I'm not exactly sure that I want to repeat last night as a regular thing, I know I'm not that lucky."
O-Ushi chuckled a little. "That's not what I had in mind, you see Tonen the guy that owns that shop and gas station, he's always on the lookout for some car parts for his shop and some of my employees keep an eye out for the cars he needs. Interested?"
"You want me to steal cars?" I asked her.
O-Ushi shrugged, "Cars, car parts, but you're not gonna be doing the stealing you're just gonna keep an eye out for some cars on his list and if you see any parked while you're driving give Tonen a text and he'll send some boys over to collect it. You get a finders fee and I collect my cut."
I finished the rest of my cigarette as I pretended to mull it over. "I guess I don't want to be pinching pennies," I told her, trying to suppress any guilt I felt over the idea of stealing some people's cars. "Hell, that's what insurance is for right?"
O-Ushi laughed and picked up her scroll and texted me a list of cars for me to be on the lookout for. "That's right," she said with a wide grin, "now get to work."
I did just that. Getting back in my cab I started another night of ferrying around all sorts of late night types. I checked the list and did exactly as instructed looking out for any of the cars on the list.
I didn't really know much about cars so I wasn't really anyone who could tell the difference between a Schneedillac or an Atlrrari or most of the other models listed. So I spent a good deal of my freetime on my scroll searching for the vehicles and getting an eye for them.
In the meantime I was committed to the grind of my job. Dealing with plenty of rough drunk customers, some were just normal people that needed to get somewhere. Occasionally I picked up a couple that was going back to their place to hook up. That was always awkward, having a couple loudly making out in the back seat.
But here and there I got to pick up the VIPs. This was exactly what I wanted, they were the people I was hoping to talk to and maybe get some intel to pass onto Ozpin. Aside from their VIP status when they used the APP for a ride you could always see that these guys were gangsters.
They almost always wore suits, usually with red shirts or ties, occasionally they had some bling on as well. They also always checked the back seat before getting into my cab, paranoia as I came to learn was a necessary part of being a career criminal. These guys were actually my best customers, they never discussed business so my hopes of passing some hearsay to Ozpin didn't last. But they always had a story to tell, some of them were even the guys I talked too about finding a job and seeing me working for O-Ushi changed their attitude pretty quickly.
They told me a little about the neighborhood. I learned then that Little Mistral was founded long ago when the city of Mountain Glenn fell to the grimm. Apparently a ton of Mistrali workers immigrated back then to help build the city and found themselves refugees in Vale once it fell. The Council stuck them into this ghetto along with a bunch of Faunus and other native Vale refugees.
Ferrying around these wiseguys started to become my new history class. Believe it or not most of these gangsters who never finished school but they knew their local history enough to pass Oobleck's class. A lot of them liked to talk about "The good old days" when Hei Xiong senior and Luca Torchwick formed their families from these displaced masses.
But aside from the history lessons these gangsters were always happy to tell me the best places to get a good meal or point me to the best shops and tell me how to not get ripped off. Since I worked for O-Ushi they were nice to me and they were certainly a lot more pleasant to drive around than most of my usual customers.
But what really made them so great was the way they tipped. For a bunch of wiseguys that didn't need to pay for a ride in my cab they tipped like they wanted to get rid of their money. No one else gave me a diamond ring but they were pretty generous with the rolls of twenties they carried. By the end of my first week I wasn't able to fit all those bills into my wallet, I took to hiding the cash behind my fridge in an envelope.
As for helping O-Ushi's partner Tonen steal cars I finally found my first chance by the end of my first week. I saw a Schneedillac sitting parked behind a bar that I picked some guy up at, it was last call so I figured that whoever owned it probably did the sensible thing and caught a ride home.
It was easy, just one phone call and I was done. The next day when I came in O-Ushi had a couple hundred lien for me for finding it. It was nothing compared to what Tonen probably made after chopping it and reselling it but it was more than I would have made in a single night all by myself.
I used to think that most thieves were just opportunists working alone but I was starting to see just how organized these people were. They were running a network of interconnected hustles and mostly legal businesses. I started spotting more and more cars as I drove around and all I had to do was make a phone call and I would make double what I would have gotten in cab fare alone.
Whoever said that crime doesn't pay was an idiot who had no idea what they were talking about and should have kept their mouth shut. In a couple weeks I was able to furnish my crappy little apartment so it actually felt somewhat like a home. Most of my fellow cab drivers were earning plenty with their side hustles and like those gangsters that handsomely tipped us they practically where throwing money away.
They'd spend their lien on nice suits and bling like the wiseguys we drove around so they could look the part. A lot of them were actually like me trying to move up, they wanted to get real jobs in the family directly working for Junior or O-Ushi and they figured they should dress the part. They also spent their money going to restaurants or nightclubs or buying their girlfriends expensive gifts. It was madness, these people were bringing home more dough than most people could have working an honest job and they were practically throwing it away.
But these guys had no intention of ever making an honest buck as I learned over time. They grew up in this neighborhood barely having enough money for lunch and watched these guys driving around in nice cars with nice suits. A lot of kids want to grow up to be doctors or huntsmen, kids in this neighborhood wanted to be gangsters, and that dream was always within reach for them.
For a while this was my life. Driving a bunch of people around including some gangsters and occasionally spotting a nice car that Tonen wanted and making a call for one of his boys to pick up. I had also become quite the night owl staying up all night and through the early hours of the morning and my social life was occasionally grabbing breakfast with my coworkers after a long shift before going back and crashing in my little apartment.
My reports to Ozpin didn't really have anything of particular interest to him. He didn't want to hear anything about cars being stolen. He wanted me to tell him about the dust robberies that were happening across the city but I honestly didn't know anything about that. I had been careful not to ask too many questions to avoid suspicion and so far it was working, but I wasn't even close to knowing a damn thing that Ozpin cared about. My calls to him were short and boring.
While I didn't really have much of anything to report to Ozpin I certainly had a bunch of questions I wanted to ask him. The hardest part of all of this was trying to forget about my friends back in Beacon. I was starting to really regret not saying goodbye to my team or Ruby. I didn't ask Ozpin about how everyone was doing no matter how much I wanted to. I didn't want him to think that I was having second thoughts and it wasn't like any of my friends regularly spoke to the headmaster or anything. So I kept on with my job, it was the only thing I could think of doing. And it turned out I was on the right path already.
One morning after I had dropped off my final customer I was making my way back to O-Ushi's office to drop the cab off. A light turned red at an intersection and I stopped to wait grabbing my cup of lukewarm coffee and guzzling the contents. I didn't notice the three guys approaching my cab.
A crowbar smashed my front windshield making it spiderweb as another guy dressed in a cheap leather jacket plunged a knife into my rear driver side tire deflating it. The third guy opened my door to pull me out.
Now I remember that Ozpin never intended for me to get into fights, but I was working with a bunch of criminals and driving around a rough neighborhood so I started keeping the tire iron for my cab in the front seat just in case things got ugly.
As this big guy pulled me from my cab I grabbed for the tire iron and swung it at him. He almost certainly wasn't expecting me to put up much of a fight because my first swing struck him across the jaw.
He let me go and fell to the sidewalk drooling blood. What little time I had spent in Beacon learning to fight had always been against students who had their auras unlocked and a wealth of practice and experience. Seeing a guy bleeding on the sidewalk after just a single desperate swing was the last thing I expected, he didn't have any aura to shield him like everyone else I had fought before, and he wasn't even close to being as tough as a grimm.
I was actually so stunned looking at this big guy spitting up his teeth that I didn't pay attention to the punk with the knife. "Fuck you!" he said taking the cheap little blade and stabbing it right at me only for my aura to flare up and shield me.
Remembering that I was still in a fight I turned and swung the tire iron at him as he tried for another stab. I smashed his wrist and he dropped the knife with a string of curses. I probably broke his arm hitting him like that, this was a lot easier than Goodwitch's class, even if I was using an awkwardly balanced tire iron instead of a sword.
The third punk who had been smashing my windshield and headlights finally decides to take a swing at me with his crowbar. It struck me right in my face and bounced right off my aura, it didn't so much as bruise me. I brought my tire iron down on his shoulder and he screamed in pain as his arm dropped limp to his side, I heard his collarbone snap.
That was all it took to send those punks running, they picked themselves up and faster than they had appeared scrambled down the alley. I chased after them a little waving the tire iron over my head screaming at them. "Yeah you better fucking run!" I called after them to make a point before stopping to watch them disappear. I caught sight of their jackets that all had some gold dragon embroidered on the back. I figured they were some street gang but I was confused why a Mistrali gang in this neighborhood would try attacking one of O-Ushi's cabs.
That was the first time I had ever won a fight. I honestly felt like a bully kicking their asses, at Beacon winning a fight meant I just knocked their aura down and Goodwitch told us to stop. No one bled or lost teeth or needed a hospital. This was completely different to what I had spent so much time preparing for. The fights in Beacon where clean and bloodless. This wasn't like Beacon at all.
I turned back to my cab to inspect the damage. One slashed tire, one broken windshield, two smashed headlight and a huge collection of dents on the hood. To me it looked like the only thing I prevented was one roughed up driver, but I supposed for me that was good enough.
I took the cab over to Tonen's shop like O-Ushi had told me to if there was any trouble. I pulled up and got a whole mess of looks. Tonen stepped away from one car he was working on to wipe his hand on a rag.
"I need some repairs," I told him feeling like that was the biggest understatement I could have made.
"The fuck happened here?" He asked me, lighting a cigarette.
"Some punks jumped me at a red light," I explained to him, "I managed to fight them off but not before they trashed my ride," I explained to him everything, about how they ambushed me while I was taking a drink of coffee which I only then realized was all over my favorite Pumpkin Pete hoodie. I told him about how I managed to fight them with the tire iron and I told him about spotting the gold dragons on their jackets.
He gave me a cigarette to smoke while he called O-Ushi and we took one of his cars to her office. She was already sitting behind her desk and enjoying a morning smoke when we arrived.
"This kid says he was jumped by three dragons who trashed your cab," he explained as I took a seat in front of her desk.
O-Ushi let out a curse and looked me over, "Three?" She asked me looking me up and down and seeing that I didn't even have a scratch on me.
I nodded to her, "I chased them off with a tire iron," I explained to her, "who are these dragons?" I asked her, "Why'd they jump me?"
"They're the 24k Dragons," she explained to me as I puffed on the cigarette Tonen had given me. "They used to work in this neighborhood with my blessing, until they started pushing drugs, now they're making trouble for me. But how'd you fight them off?"
"With a tire iron," I explained to her.
"Is that all?" She asked me.
"Well uh… they weren't exactly expecting me to have aura," I admitted. I didn't want to admit that but I knew that if I looked like it was too easy things were going to look suspicious to her.
"You're packing aura?" She asked me, "Where'd a kid like you get that?"
I didn't have an explanation lined up for her, it would have been better if she had no idea I had my aura unlocked and I wished I had some elaborate story lined up for her. But I didn't and I figured that the best lies are lined with truth.
"I was a Beacon student before I came here," I told her hoping that it wouldn't immediately be run out by her for that little bit of truth. "I was expelled."
"Why?" she asked me.
"Because my transcripts were fake," I explained to her, "I didn't have the training requirements so once they found out they gave me the boot, I sold my weapon for what money I could before looking for work."
"So you're a washed up academy kid?" She chuckled at that.
"Yeah," I admitted, scratching the back of my head and giving a glance to the rusty old hammer that was on her desk. "I didn't mean to lie to you or anything, you just didn't ask."
"Don't worry about it kid," she said, opening the drawer in her desk and reaching in. "It's not like you're the first Beacon washout to end up in the dumps," she said pulling a small leather holster from the drawer. From the holster she drew a small snub-nosed revolver and popped the cylinder checking that it was loaded before tucking it back in the holster and sliding it across the desk towards me.
"I'm expecting the 24k Dragons to be giving me some more grief in the future so having some of my drivers packing aura is just the kind of edge I'm going to need, just make sure the next time you're jumped you wave this around instead of a tire iron, they'll be running for the hills." She explained to me as I looked at the little handgun on the table.
I stood up and snubbed out my cigarette in her ashtray before I picked it up. I drew it from the holster and looked at the polished blue steel, it was a simple .38 nothing compared to the massive sniper rifle scythe or shotgun gauntlets I had become accustomed to seeing in Beacon.
"I know it's not much," O-Ushi said, "but it'll get the point across to those thugs."
I was honestly a little scared to accept that little pistol. I was more than a little scared actually, I was supposed to be keeping my head down around these guys and reporting information, I wasn't supposed to be killing anyone for them. I already felt bad for busting those guys up, I imagined leaving them dead in the street and I felt nauseous. But then again earning trust wasn't easy and I knew that if I said no then my chances of getting deeper were going to evaporate.
"Thanks," I said tucking the little pistol and holster away inside my waistband like it was designed to. "I'll make sure those punks stay away from your cabs."
O-Ushi nodded to me, "Good, now go and clean up kid, Tonen and I need to discuss business," she said dismissing me with a wave of her hand.
I left and walked back to my crummy apartment. I was constantly aware of the weight of the gun tucked into my jeans during the walk. I didn't exactly have a permit to carry a concealed weapon but I supposed that meant little to O-Ushi.
When I got back to my place I locked the door and reheated some fried noodles Hana had given to me. For all the issues my apartment had her free home cooked meals were certainly a good bonus. I set the gun down on my little coffee table and pulled out the burner scroll Ozpin had given me.
"Anything to report Mr. Arc?" He asked the minute he picked up.
"I got jumped by some gang members this morning," I explained to him, "they busted up O-Ushi's cab and tried to rough me up. But I managed to fight them off with little difficulty."
"I see," he said, probably wondering why I would think this was relevant to him.
"The gang is called the 24k Dragons, it seems they used to on good terms with O-Ushi until they started dealing in drugs," I continued on for him, "I had to explain to O-Ushi why I had aura so I said that I was just some wash up out of Beacon, she bought it. She says she's expecting more trouble in the future and she gave me a gun just in case this ever happens again, she says she thinks she's gonna need more people like me with aura."
"I understand," Ozpin said, "this is good Mr. Arc, if she trusts you enough to help her with keeping her interests safe it means you have a perfect opportunity to get closer to all of this. Continue to do what she asks of you, be proactive in helping her take care of these Dragons and she might trust you enough to get closer to her other business, maybe even to Junior himself."
"Sir… she gave me a gun, those guys I fought were big but they didn't have aura, it was easy. What if she expects me to kill for her?" I asked him, hoping that Headmaster Ozpin of all people would have some kind of clever answer to my apprehension that would spare me from getting any blood on my hands.
"Do whatever you must Mr. Arc," he told me, "trust is not easy to earn."
The call ended and all I could do was stare at the little .38, small as it was, it felt quite heavy in my hands.
I'm glad so many of you enjoyed the first chapter and the prologue. I'm glad that so many have already shown interest in this story and look forward to the plans I have for it.
I had the idea to have Jaune begining his criminal career as a cabdriver from the famous mobster Henry Hill who went to work at a cab stand owned by Paul Vario of the Lucchese crime family at the young age of eleven. I always love stories that show characters rising from the bottom and figuring how how Jaune would do just that was tons of fun.
Please review and share your thoughts and opinions on the story, they always interest me.
I want to personally thank Firefly25 for coming up with O-Ushi and helping me flesh out her character as Jaune's first boss and mentor into the life of crime he is going to be living. As usual I would like to thank DrknssRules1, MajorBrony95, Midknightmoonglow99 and FireFly25 for all their help with this story. They're awesome and they helped me take the vague idea of "what if Jaune was a mobster?" and turned it into an actual story.