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Devil May Care

Nutter · 106 · 901

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Offline Jabbathejack

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When Zach retreated, Reginald advanced, still absolutely confident in his own abilities. Zach's threats, instead of making him pause, only made a chilling smile cross his face.

"They'll never find me. Think I don't know how to disappear? Think I gave you my real name?"

His voice hardened still further as he took yet another step forwards, his foot beside the dead man's head.

"I'm already dead."

He could see the man's shakey grip and he could smell the man's fear.

"I think you want to put your sword down, mate." Reginald's voice dropped to a soft near whisper. "Before you send up doing yourself an injury."


Offline Nutter

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Well fuck.

Zach wet his lips nervously, taking more steps backwards and almost tripping over a discarded box nearby. He stumbled a little, and it only loosened his already weak grip on the sword. In his nervousness and panic, it slipped past his fingers and clattered to the ground, and Zach felt his breath catch.

“L- Look, things have been real shitty for me lately, and I had to make sure I wasn’t going to end up at the bottom of the Thames like the rest! I needed new staff to make sure I kept up demand, but I couldn’t risk my own neck and I- I’d never …” Zach’s panicked gaze went down to the body before flicking back up again. “He was going to out me, and I’d never killed … killed before, and then I had to try and cover that up as well and-“

Zach choked up for a moment before coughing to clear his throat, his eyes flicking from Catherton’s sabre to his face.

“Please don’t kill me, I was just trying to get by and it got out of hand.”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reginald knocked the blade out of the way with his foot, his gaze not moving from Zach and his own sword unwavering.

"I don't care." He snapped sharply, cutting off Zach's whining. So it was the pig's first kill was it? He didn't look as if he'd had the stomach for it, although, sometimes that came later.

He paused, looking as if he were debating the pros and cons of slitting this man's throat as well. Yet Zach had made a point earlier; Reginald did indeed like the idea of getting paid.

"Here's what we'll do, Zachariah." Reginald's voice was perfectly calm as he continued softly. "You're going to pick up your sword, really slowly and put it away. Then we're going for a walk. If I don't like what I hear, I'm going to walk away and you're never going to see me again. However..."

He paused, smiling bitterly.
"I assure you, what I've seen here will find its way to the surface."


Offline Nutter

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“A- a walk?” Fucking shit, he was going to get pushed off the pier wasn’t he? Zach glanced down to the discarded blade, giving another nervous lick to his lips before he nodded his head. Wasn’t really like he had a choice, was it?

He walked over slowly to the sabre, trying to look as non-threatening as possible as he slipped it into the scabbard. Straightening up then, and feeling his heart rate beginning to come back down to a safe level as at least the immediate threat to his life seemed to have passed, Zach cleared his throat nervously.

“I don’t, uh … I don’t know what you want to know.” Questions? What kind of questions could this guy possibly care about? However, he headed over to the door inside here for whatever this ‘walk’ would be, glancing nervously to the dead body as he did so. He felt a little sicker every time he looked at it.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reginald watched Zach's movements like a hawk, ready for any sign of deception. As he moved towards the door, Reginald slid his own blade back into its sheath and followed a couple of steps behind him.

"Don't you?" He snorted, shaking his head. "Ain't that much of a detective, are you?"

"I want to know the details of your little operation. All of it. Don't bother trying to lie to me, I will know."

That last part was a bluff of sorts; he wasn't gifted with a sixth sense to tell when a man was lying, however, when you put enough pressure on, quite often, a liar would show himself.


Offline Nutter

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Of course he did.

Zach let out a low breath, putting his hands into his pockets and letting the familiar smell of smoggy London fill his lungs. Somehow he found it comforting, it being a smell he had grown up with, and he found his nerves settling a little bit. He wasn’t in imminent danger of getting stabbed, after all.

“Not a detective. Just a cop.” Zach sub-consciously led the walk, wanting to head down to the Thames. Sure, it was a disgusting mockery of a free-flowing river, but Zach found it peaceful. “It started when I was arresting dealers and druggies – didn’t take much effort to take some of their stash. Tried using it, wasn’t a fan, figured selling it would be better for me.”

He let out a slightly nervous chuckle, figuring that the situation he was in right now might disprove that to be true.

“Busts and druggies are where I used to get all my stock, but then demand went up and I’ve started trading with some … people. I use my job to make sure that my people stay out of attention – a missing file here and there is easy enough. Then I sell to the people who get brought into the station, who recommend me to their friends, so on and so forth.” His eyes flicked back to the direction they had come from, where a body was undoubtedly still laying. “Then things got away from me … He was the first person to say that he had enough on me to go to the police, and he was getting cheap rates in return. I demanded information on what he had, and he refused, and I just …”

Zach shuddered, feeling bile rising in his throat from his memory of what he had done. It had all he had thought of to do, all he could think of, but it didn’t mean that he had enjoyed it. He was repulsed.

“I can’t go to prison.” Zach muttered out, his hands clenching inside his jacket pockets. “You have no idea – well, unless you do.”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reginald let him walk freely, although he did keep a wary eye out just in case he was being led straight to the doors of a police station. He kept his hand close to his body, near the butt of the pistol that he kept beneath his coat, just in case.

He noted Zach's gaze, flitting back nervously to the disused bakery behind them.
"How much did that man have on you? If there's too much, then I would suggest that you burn it, to hide the body. That might buy you some time if they don't know who he is."

"I know what prison is like." He replied grimly; he had seen some pretty horrible places in India. "As we both want to avoid it, then I would suggest that we work together."

He narrowed his eyes, fixing Zach with his cold stare.
"But I want a decent cut of the profit."


Offline Nutter

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Burn the body? Zach felt his face go pale and his stomach give another unhelpful turn – killing the guy had been bad enough, but desecrating his corpse afterwards? He wasn’t sure he had the stomach for it, and it took a deep breath of the stink-rich air to get his nerves back.

“He knew enough about my movements and habits to be able to tell the police enough to catch me midway through the act. Ex-military with some decent rank meant he was likely to be believed.” Of course, the bigger issue was the threat of a cut into his profits, and Zach’s eyes flicked to the other nervously. “Look, I get it, you must think I’m loaded, but I’m really not. This city costs a fucking fortune to live in, and to get anyone to work for me I have to pay them out the ass as well.”

Sure, he wasn’t struggling to get by, but he wasn’t exactly living the high life either. Of course, unknown to Zach, if he compared his life to Reginald’s he might have a different story to tell.

“Look, I admit I … I could use another set of hands. Running things, I mean. I think you can probably tell that by what just happened.” A nervous laugh followed before Zach continued to speak. “Can we call this a truce for now? To tell the truth I’m fucking exhausted, and I guess I have a body to deal with. We can figure out the details tomorrow. I'll put you up at a hotel, how about that? Better than the Rookery, right?”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reginald didn't bother to hide the sneer that came up at Zach's expression; here was a man who was clearly not used to doing his own dirty work. As Zach continued to talk, Reginald found that his sneer only got bigger.

"Of course." He replied softly. "You must be practically destitute."

He mulled over the thought of a truce, as Zach put it, but he really did not want to be spending any time in a hotel booked by this man. He'd wake up with his throat slit, ending up like that bastard back in the bakery.

"I'll find my own place, thanks all the same."

Reginald paused, frowning.
"Meet me in the Black Swan, tomorrow night." A large pub not far from here. "We can have a drink and talk about how much you're going to pay me. I get the job done, I know how to keep my mouth shut and you sure as hell better believe, I'm not about to be caught, not by the likes of you and your ilk."

He nodded at the man's uniform, the sneer returning. All coppers are bastards.

"Speaking of getting caught." Reginald smiled. "Don't forget about the body."


Offline Nutter

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"Right. Yeah, I'll meet you there, and sort the guy out, and um ... Yeah." Zach nodded his head at the other's retreating back, wondering how he ended up quite so screwed as was. Hadn't he been thinking the other day that military types were great because they generally did as they were told? Where had that belief gone? Now it seemed like he was definitely going to get murdered instead of just ending up in jail, except it would just be once Reginald was tired of him.

Letting the other man walk away, Zach started to retrace his steps and head back towards the body of his former-client. Did he have any idea what he was going to do with him? Not really, but he had some ideas. How hard could it be to dispose of a body in the middle of London?


Zach was at the pub the next night, as promised. He had arrived early, getting off shift and taking the time to at least get dressed into street clothes before heading over. He looked a little more unassuming than he had the two previous times that he and Reginald had met - a long, dark coat was slung over the back of his chair and underneath he was wearing a rough button down and some slacks. Both sets of clothing were a little old and rough around the edges, but fit well enough, and he was able to blend in well enough.

Also helped was the decent amount of alcohol he was working on consuming, and it helped ease his nerves as he sipped his way through his second scotch. The body was taken care of - loosely speaking - and he hadn't heard any word that it had been found yet, so that was good news. Reginald had agreed to work with him, albeit only so he could get paid, and that was also good news. The man seemed to be cut from rougher stuff than Zach, able to do some of the darker things that he had always stepped back from, and maybe that would be useful.

Though if Zach ever had to organise the murder or body disposal of anyone again, it would be too soon.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Reginald spent the night at the Rookery, curled up in his usual corner. He was too wary to be able to get a decent night's sleep, but these days, that was more often the case. Sometimes, amongst the noises from the other people spread throughout the houses, he thought he could hear the voices of men who he knew were long dead.

The next day, he made his way to the Black Swan, looking much the same as he had the night before, although he was wearing a clean shirt. He still wore the same single black glove, pulled tightly beneath the sleeve of his shirt, so that no flesh was visible.

The moment that he entered, he scanned the interior until he saw Zach and he went to the bar to get his own drink rather than rely on anyone else bringing him one. Mug of ale in hand, he pushed through the crowd and sat down opposite him.

The Black Swan had been a decent choice to pick; it was dark and grimy, but it was loud and obnoxious. No one would be listening in on their conversation.

Reginald smiled with the undamaged half of his face as he raised his mug.
"Evening. Did you get everything sorted last night?"


Offline Nutter

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Zach gave a bit of a start as Reginald sat at his table, having not been paying his full attention to his surroundings. Regardless, his face and manner were visibly improved from the day before - it was amazing what a night's sleep and not having a sword shoved in your face did for a man. Even managing a half-smile back, Zach raised his glass before taking another sip and nursing it back between his hands. The warm as it went down was pleasant, and his smile improved a little at the feeling.

Even despite their rough topic of conversation.

"More or less." He had already decided that he didn't want Reginald knowing the full details of what he had done to deal with the situation. Regardless of that fact that he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders for this kind of thing (which was somewhat terrifying in itself), the more he was able to keep secret the more he was able to protect himself if push came to shove. "I should be okay, and so should you."

Letting out a low sigh, seeming to take a moment to get his emotions under control, Zach lifted his head and gave Reginald the same charming, open smile he had when they first met.

"Alright. First things first, I suppose. I never want last night to happen again - that's not me. I didn't get into this business to be doing shit like that. I'm also aware that you gave me a fake name, but can you at least tell me what you prefer to go by? Calling you Catherton just feels impersonal." Taking another sip from the scotch, Zach leaned back easily in his chair. "I also know I don't really have a choice, but I'm happy for us to work together. With all the outgoings and paying staff, I was taking home about 30% of all incoming revenue, which was about £70 a month, give or take. I'm willing to split that to 20/10. In return, I expect your help. Your actual help. If I'm just giving up my profits to protect my own neck, it's only so long before someone else does the same to me. I'd rather just leave town if that's the case."

It seemed that when not being threatened with his life or jail, Zach was rather happy to chat.


Offline Jabbathejack

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"Good to hear." Reginald smiled thinly, wondering exactly how the other man had managed it, but here wasn't the best place to elaborate.

"That makes two of us." His smile took on a sardonic tilt, considering that it was Zach's idea to try and pull the wool over his eyes and implicate him for the sake of leverage. He was only annoyed because he had managed to turn the tables on him.

"Oh, I fully expect to work for my wage, don't get me wrong. I work hard."

He watched the other man carefully, looking for any signs of deception. He had tried before, there was nothing stopping him from trying again. The money sounded decent, especially if it was a promise for a regular job. He wondered if he should try and haggle for a better deal, but in the end, Reginald decided against it; he did not want to be greedy.

"Catherton is fine. Or Reginald if you want." He paused, his smile seeming a little more genuine. "But you can hardly talk. All I know about you is Zachariah."


Offline Nutter

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Zach gave a bit of a chuckle at the mention of his own hidden behaviours, but simply shrugged his shoulders in reply. While a lot of the last evening had been spent in panic, he'd had a lot of time to go over exactly what he had said and agreed upon, and "just" Zachariah really wasn't all that had been given away.

"You know my first name, my job and what rank I am. You know plenty I'm afraid, but if a last name makes you feel any better it's Edwards. Zachariah Edwards. Nice to make your acquaintance." He held out his hand for the other to shake, slightly sardonically, before taking another sip of his scotch. "So, what kind of skillset do you have Reginald?"

Working together was a two way street, despite what the other may think of him, and Zach genuinely wanted this to work. The choices that had happened over the last week hadn't been his finest moments, and he was pretty sure the fear that Reginald was going to hand him over to the police weren't ever going to go away, he might as well make the best of a bad situation.

"Putting aside what happened the last few days, I want us to make this work. If you want to just be a drop off guy that's easily done, but it's a dangerous job. It's one of the reasons I try to stay out of it - the other people to protect my own neck, of course."


Offline Jabbathejack

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"True." Reginald nodded with a small smile. "I'd just prefer to hear it from you rather than have to find out the rest for myself."

He shook the offered hand firmly. Sitting back to take a swig of his ale as he contemplated the question.

"Skillset?" He shrugged with a grimace. "You've seen a fair bit so far. I've been in the army since before I was sixteen right up to about four years ago. I lied about my age to get in. Fifteen years of experience. The only reason I'm still alive today is that I learned not to just blindly follow the orders of some toff bastard who doesn't know the difference between his arse and his elbow."

He felt like he was giving yet another job interview, but at least he was on a stronger level than before.

"I won't lose my head when the guns start blazing."

In Reginald's mind, that was the most important bit of it all.

"How many others do you have working?"