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Author Topic: Take What You Can  (Read 2213 times)

Take What You Can
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:44:48 PM »
Cold dawn light shone through the grimy window, illuminating the scrawny boy who slept soundly on threadbare sheets.  Where many children spread out like starfish as they slumbered, Ian lay on his side, one hand tucked close to his chest whilst the other extended out, over the very edge of the bed, fingers half folded into a small fist.  Living in a small and overcrowded house, one became used to conserving space even when unconscious.  In the next room, there was a cacophony of grunts and moans, punctuated by the steady creak of a bed frame and the occasional impassioned wail.  This did not wake him, but the shaking did.

“Wake up!”  The boy immediately stirred.  Grey eyes, dull with exhaustion and bleary with sleep, opened to regard the young woman who had roused him.  “I need the bed,” she murmured authoritatively, yet with an undertone of apology.  She was naked from the waist up, wearing only a skirt that fell to her knees, but Ian was not remotely surprised or abashed by her state of undress.  If anything, his expression wavered somewhere between resignation and being mildly pissed off.

“Ma said I could have the bed tonight.  S’my turn…” he responded sleepily, with no trace of fight in his creaking, pubescent voice.  This was not an argument he could win.  He coughed a little, sitting up and rubbing at his eyes before asking, “What time is it?”

“Late or early, take your pick.  I’m sorry Trick, but you really need to go,” the raven-haired harlot glanced nervously to the door where there now stood the shadowy, hulking figure of her punter.  He was drunk, leaning against the door frame to steady himself.  Ian wrinkled his nose in disgust and, with a wordless nod, he began to depart.  He did not leave immediately, however, for he was not alone in the bed.  Gently, he peeled back the covers and gathered a sleeping toddler in his arms.  Flori, a fellow fatherless child, mumbled sleepily and did not even open her eyes as Ian left the tiny bedroom, skirting around the reeking, swaying guest who would perhaps pay enough coin to keep them fed another day.  The bedroom door closed with a decisive click the very moment he stepped across the threshold. 

Down the stairs he crept, past the common room forbidden to the children, and into the small, cosy kitchen.  By this point Flori had wakened and now gazed up at Ian solemnly, attempting to grab fistfuls of tunic and realising too late that he wore only trousers, her clammy fingertips brushing cool, bare skin.  “Hungy,” the small child whimpered imploringly.

“Me too,” Ian responded sympathetically as he padded over to the dying fire, bouncing the toddler in his arms to the staccato beat of his following words, “I’m – so – hungry – I – could – eat – a – horse.  A whole horse Flori, and I wouldn’t even share!”  This silliness earned him a small, dutiful chuckle from Flori, who then buried her face tiredly against the boy’s neck, grabbing a fistful of his dirty-blond hair, and promptly sticking the thumb of her free hand into her hungry mouth.

The pantry was empty and the cupboards were bare.  Ian’s heart sank.

Soon, the vendors would be setting up their stalls, and he would need to be on hand to scout them out and choose which to filch from.  Perhaps he would meet up with some of his friends, those other poor children ruled by their empty bellies.  Teamwork always won them more, so long as nobody grew greedy and tried to steal from the others; an event that happened with disappointing frequency and almost always ended in a desperate fistfight.

Flori was dozing as Ian bundled her into a worn, patched armchair close to the fire.  Satisfied the girl would dream on, he turned to rummage through a basket of laundry that spilled its messy contents over the kitchen floor.  Picking through the various garments, he found a plain tunic, pulling it on even as his bare feet carried him towards the door.  Out onto the streets Ian went, navigating familiar stone walkways.  His hands were stuffed into his pockets yet he walked briskly and with purpose.  He was heading for a small dusty plaza that was frequented by the street urchins he knew.  But he arrived too early, and swiftly decided to work alone.

Pickings were slow but steady that morning.  A small loaf of bread here, a bruised apple there, and a few pockets lightened of their meagre coins.  Still Ian was not satisfied with the spoils.  Noon passed and he grew increasingly aware that he had little to bring home to his mother, to the other women and their children.  Although an occasional opportunist, Ian preferred to plan.  He liked to take into consideration a variety of factors – how busy the marketplace, how preoccupied the vendor, the value of the prize – before committing to a theft.  It was this weighed and measured approach that had kept him from ever being caught.  Of course there had been occasions when the thunder of approaching footsteps, the irate shouting seemingly directly in his ear, had caused him to drop his stolen goods, but even those occasions were few and far between.  He was fast, he was clever and he was agile.  He was sure he could be a king amongst thieves, if that was what his young heart desired.

Sometimes, though, an opportunity presented itself and refused to be ignored. 

Meandering through the square, pretending his cool gaze wasn’t peeled for weak spots, he strode along as though he had somewhere to be but wasn’t in a great hurry to get there.  That was when the golden opportunity unfurled before his eyes like an irresistible flower.  A vendor had drawn out a fat coin purse from a lockbox, setting it on his counter only to turn away and argue coarsely with a persistent haggler. 

I’m going to take that, Ian thought boldly to himself, running his tongue nervously over his bottom lip - a sure outward indication of the doubts that niggled worriedly in his chest.  Just don’t let him catch you.

Committed to the crime, he walked slowly, almost nonchalantly, to begin with, watching as the problematic customer was turning to leave.  That was when he shifted rapidly into a flat-out sprint.  Just as he closed a light-fingered hand around the coin purse, the vendor turned.  Their eyes met and locked for one terrible, electrifying second, and then Ian was gone, having turned on his heel and fled at speed, his prize clutched tight in one hand.

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Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2018, 04:03:18 PM »
Gustav woke with a groan, a stiffness in his arm immediately making itself known upon his stirring. Eyes opened, gazing at the ceiling of his room, seeking out the familiar marks, the notches of wood and trailing cobwebs. Nearby, he heard a stretching yawn that echoed to his bed, a symbol of his sister, Beth, beginning her own waking ritual. He would have liked a room to himself, but it was understandably not possible, not with only two bedrooms. it could have been worse. When they were struggling after Heike's birth, he had shared his bed with his sister, curled up on opposite sides, until they were able to buy a second mattress.

Stretching, he felt a shudder wash over his body and the odd feeling of his muscles awakening. Quiet as the mouse that lived beneath the stairs, the boy peeled himself from his bed and changed, still slipping his top on as he descended down the steps. His mother sat at the table, a bag laid across the wooden rectangle, counting out money into a pouch. Without a word, he fetched a handful of berries to pop into his mouth, waiting for her to finish, and then collected the bag and pouch.

"Thank you," his mother murmured, rising to meet Beth on the stairs. She was tired, the way she drowsily moved, and he felt a pang of pride that he was helping alleviate some of the duties of the household.

His trek to the market went well, meeting up with one of his father's friends, who he shared a few comments with on the weather and how their families were doing. Gustav liked to appear mature, and getting to speak to family friends about such menial 'adult things' made him feel good. They broke off before he reached the plaza, and then his shopping began.

The boy's first few purchases were the typical necessities - bread, some fruit (apples today), and potatoes - which he collected in the bag he held over his shoulder. While scanning for meat, he spotted something in the distance. One of the vendors was arguing with a customer, evidently over prices. Curious, he listened in along with the vendor he stood next to, as one of their regular customers.

Then movement darted forwards, and a person rushed past the other vendor. A shout of thief alerted him immediately to what had happened, even though he couldn't quite see. "Please--?" he looked to the seller next to him, who offered a nod and waved him on. His bag touched the ground, out of the way from other customers, kept safe.

He ran, weaving through the thick of people clustering around to work out what had happened. Long walks to do errands for his family had given him a decent amount of stamina, what with running to deliver letters where needed. Gustav had little idea of how he would confront the labelled thief, but he knew it was right to do something about it. If there was a soldier around, he could call them, but he saw none.

"HEY! STOP!" he cried, dodging a straggling pedestrian.

Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2018, 11:38:10 PM »
With a brilliant burst of speed, Ian took off across the marketplace, running as though Military Police hounds were nipping at his heels.  He had a solid head start on the vendor, the clattering bang of the gruff man catching his hip on the corner of his stall’s table – and the angry snarl of curses that swiftly followed – reaching his ears.  With no choice but to think on his feet, Ian decided to use the drifting shoppers that littered the dusty square as cover, weaving where he could without sacrificing his speed unnecessarily.  Dull leather, heavy with coin, was clutched determinedly in his hand.  He would not drop it, not unless he absolutely had to, not unless it was prised out of his desperate grasp.

Even with the considerable effort of his sprint contorting his expression, he managed a wild and wolfish grin.  One vendor, who managed a butcher’s stand, threw himself inexpertly into Ian’s path, his meaty arms outstretched with the intention of seizing the fleeing boy.  Ian charged straight for him, dropping at the last moment to skid painfully between the man’s splayed legs as eager hands grabbed only empty air.  If Ian had the breath to spare, he might have crowed victoriously.  Instead he jumped to his feet, scarcely losing any of his momentum, and ploughed onwards, banging his shoulder roughly into one shopper who voiced angry protest and spilled her basket’s contents into the dust, eggs cracking on the cobblestones.  The thief almost felt bad about that – eggs were expensive.

If there were soldiers stalking through the crowd (they were like rats, it seemed no matter where a person went there was almost always one nearby) they were lost in the rush of passing faces.  In the confusion and uproar, any shopper who realised Ian was a thief only did so after he sped past.  A few furious strides later and he broke free from the thick of it – he was almost safe! – and now he really stretched his legs, moving with all the haste he could manage. 

Darting into a gloomy alleyway, Ian charged along the narrow space, erupting into the far side, steely eyes peeled for an escape route he had used before.  The rickety fence was in poor condition, its slats weathered and falling away.  Through a narrow space, the skinny boy squeezed, the rough wooden edges grazing and stinging.  With a degree of dismay, he realised he would soon be too big to fit through the gap.  Falling through into the other side, into what had once been a small yard and garden, behind a now derelict and abandoned house, Ian scrambled to press his bony back against the worn bricks of the building’s shabby facade.  Panting hard, buoyed by his victory, he smiled faintly, grey eyes travelling upwards to the vast stretch of blue sky.

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Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2018, 02:21:56 PM »
A glimpse of the other boy briefly disappeared from his sight, and then a butcher stood in his path. Gustav swerved, boots sliding across a wet patch of the plaza in his effort to avoid crashing into the man, though he managed to catch his balance and plant his feet on solid, dry ground in the next step. As soon as he was past that hurdle, the next came up - a puddle of eggs at the feet of an angry woman. Given the path, he supposed that the thief had been the cause. "S-Sorry!" he gasped out, jumping over the wasted eggs. Air swooped down his throat, strangling his effort to reassure her that he'd get the thief.

The crowd was starting to thin out, giving more space to run, so he might be able to catch up. A box of fruit dangerously loomed in his path, but he hopped it, only barely missing catching his foot on the box, and getting yelled at for spraying dirty water over the produce. This time, he didn't dare apologise, determined to push forwards before the thief was lost and what he had stolen was never returned.

A flash of the thief disappeared around a corner, and the boy followed on. When he arrived at the entry of the alleyway, he at first saw nothing, until he noted the gap in the fence. Unless the thief was crazily agile and could climb up the walls, it had to be the place they'd squeezed into. He tried to work out if he could hop the fence, but ultimately doubted his own agility. He was small enough to squeeze through, it couldn't be all that hard. So he steeled himself, and then pressed into the fence, squeezing through the hard wood, sideways, his back feeling grazed as he was so unfamiliar with needing to squeeze through anywhere.

Eyes darting around, he swallowed the fear that he might have just stumbled into a nest of thieves, brutal beings who might greatly hurt or maybe even kill him. How common was it for thieves to kidnap boys and ransom or sell them? The house looked like prime thief real estate, abandoned and evidently not checked up on regularly. And to the wall, he spotted the boy he had been following.

"You--" he started, but he hadn't thought far enough on how to confront him. "Give back what you stole." He felt meek, small, like the mouse at home, cornered by wall and the person trying to catch it. Even though it should have been the other way around, he now noted that the boy was bigger than him. Worse, he clearly knew where he was. Gustav didn't. What if he did have friends here? There was nobody backing him up - he couldn't hear anybody running to catch up. Even if they were, they might not find them, or be able to come in.

Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2018, 11:17:29 PM »
And then, just like that, he was no longer alone. 

Ian stiffened instinctively, instantly scrambling to his feet.  His first thought, upon seeing the figure of a boy squeeze through the collapsing fence, was that this was another pickpocket, one daring enough to try stealing from a fellow thief.  With his jaw set, long-fingered hands tightening into fists of anticipation, Ian glared at the newcomer through tendrils of lank, dirty-blond hair.  The brave boy’s voice was steady, his expression stern, but Ian’s cold gaze picked out little about him to feel threatened by.  Righteousness burned bright and hot in those brown eyes, but something as noble as justice stood little chance against sheer desperation and constant, gnawing hunger.  “You kidding me?” Ian retorted with a derisive laugh, boldly taking a step closer to the would-be challenger.

With a slow and wicked smile, he paused, tilting his head to listen.  His only concern was that the boy might have led others to him - perhaps the butcher, with that nightmarish bloodied cleaver.  How many blows would it take for that oversized knife to hack through his wrist?  And how many days would his severed hand remained nailed to one of the marketplace walls in stark warning to others?

But that was only if he was caught.

No hurried footsteps, no frustrated and muttered curses, met his ears.  There came only the distant murmur of sellers hawking their wares, of the faint breeze rustling through the thistles and weeds that had sprouted in this abandoned yard.  “Do you hear that?” Ian asked softly, his voice low and dangerous, his grey eyes smouldering.  He paused, so that there was a beat of silence - and silence it was, there was no discernable noise he could be referring to.  “There ain’t nobody comin’ to help you.”  With mounting confidence, Ian tossed his prize onto the ground behind him, the stolen coins clinking metallically within their leather confines, before turning to lock eyes with the contender once more.  “This is your one and only warning,” he growled, his young, hard-featured face contorting into a fearsome scowl.  “Go home, kid.  Before I hurt you.”

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Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2018, 01:33:49 AM »
The thief was... laughing at him? His nerve faltered, falling harder than Beth fell down the hill last week. How was he meant to convince a thief to give back what wasn't theirs if they laughed at being told it once? This wasn't what he had expected, though what had he truly thought would happen? Thieves weren't typically the sort to just hand over on being asked. That was why they got arrested.

And as the two listened out, there was nobody coming to arrest this one.

His mouth dried, his tongue became uncomfortable, his teeth felt foreign. A lump formed in his throat, and the gulp that swallowed it almost hurt. Terror clawed at his chest, scraping at his lungs and clenching a fist around his airway as the other spoke. He was alone. There was nobody coming to back him up. Nobody who would help if things went poorly. Stuck between standing his ground and running away. The latter so tempting, a salvation from whatever the thief was capable of.

Then the coins clinked together as the purse hit the ground. Money that would feed that merchant's family. To pass hand to hand, family to family. Maybe the thief needed it to eat for himself, but an entire family? Thieves didn't have a code of loyalty as far as he knew. Greed ran rampant, his father told him, to those desperate, selfish creatures. Like rats.

"No." Courage blossomed. Gustav stood his ground. The boy was practically feral. But maybe he could push through to him. "Can't you just... give back the money, and work for it? They... Sometimes people are willing to pay messengers? You r-run fast... then nobody gets hurt, or loses out, or..." Was that even convincing himself? There had to be a way for everybody to get somewhere, there was no such thing as 'no choice'. Right?

Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 12:06:40 AM »
(OOC: I feel I should put a little warning on for swear words and sexual insinuations, Ian was on an unpleasant roll!)

No?” Ian echoed, an eyebrow arching in surprise.  The kid had spirit - that much was true - but would he still be so defiant and noble when he was on the ground, the taste of blood slick and coppery on his tongue?  Ian would almost bet his ill-begotten money purse on the negative.

“Work for it… gee, I guess I never thought of that.  Thanks kid, you just set a crooked arrow straight!”  Ian’s young voice dripped with sarcasm and insincerity, and he took another unflinching step closer, his wiry body taut with anticipation.  “I mean, who wouldn’t want a kid like me to carry their messages for 'em?  You’d trust me to, right?  I wouldn’t read your letters, or burn ‘em after getting paid.  Definitely not.  ‘Cause see, I got a face that inspires confidence - I’m fucking lovable.”

On the cusp of adolescence, his voice occasionally creaking and breaking, Ian had yet to go through the ravages of puberty.  But even now, his nose was prominent - a bump indicating it had been broken at least once before - while his body was painted with bruises and cuts, and a terrible remoteness and desperation glinted in those cold, grey eyes.  Even though he was still a boy, grown men would at times cross the street to avoid him.

“Or maybe I oughta run home and ask my whore mother to show me the ropes - you think?  Bet there’d be some sick bastards out there who’d get off on a mother-son combo.  Two Dietrichs for the price of one.”  The coarse words were intended to shock and disgust; it would make it easier for Ian to hate the righteous boy if he reacted negatively.  Bold and brash, the young thief wasn’t worried about his surname being known.  He already carried a reputation, and was already earmarked by the local policing units as a troublemaker and petty criminal.

But it wasn’t the boy’s fault, if he was sheltered and naïve to the realities of life on the streets.  Ian heaved a sigh, though none of the tension ebbed from his narrow frame. “But hey, I’m feeling generous.  I’m gonna give you one last chance to walk.  Go, slip through that fence, and don’t you dare come back.  You can tell ‘em you weren’t able to catch up with me. You’ll still be a hero for trying.” « Last Edit: February 26, 2018, 12:15:46 AM by Ian Dietrich »

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Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2018, 07:05:09 PM »
Gustav flinched at the tone in the boy's voice, the venomous sarcasm that came from his tongue as easily as a snake's. The wall behind him touched his back as he took a step back, and he almost bolted there and then. But that wasn't the right thing to do. There were good things and bad things, and just letting a thief go was a bad thing. No, if he could appeal to him, maybe he could get through to him. But the boy was quicker than him, he could tell that much.

But the boy had a point. Trust was important too. "Well, if you worked with somebody else, then they'd know you wouldn't, or... they give people chances. It's good to give people chances, so they can prove they're trustworthy, and... you have to show it sometimes. Show that you can be trustworthy, and... then everything would be OK." He thought so, at least, but he was getting less confident as each moment passed. Getting through to the thief was difficult, and no matter what he seemed to say, there appeared to be a rebuke for it.

To hear him speak of his mother, Gustav couldn't help but grimace. He didn't understand it all, but he understood enough to know that it was a very bad, horrible thing. Even though he had a name - a surname, at least - to pin to the boy, he thought it would probably be useless to the Garrison. If this was how the boy lived, stealing continuously from others, scraping what he could off of the streets, was there any escape for him? WHat if he grew up to be even worse, to always do that?

He was given another chance to run. It was so tempting. And yet... he tried one more time.

"I don't want to be a hero, I want to help!" Gustav said, pained. "It's not right to steal, and it's not right to have to steal. I could try and help! If you came with me, and you gave it back, maybe they'd think you've changed, and then you could start changing. Sometimes people could do with help, if you showed you could help, then they'd help you..." It was a desperate attempt, one that seemed stupid even as the words tumbled from his mouth. Perhaps he should have ran, darted back to the gap in the fence, pushed past the splinters and gone for it. He'd tried his best though, not to be a hero... or did he want to be? He was unsure, suddenly, as to what his true intentions had been. If thieves were but rats, if there was no code there, then why had he thought he might be able to convince the other boy?

Was there any saving this thief?

Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2018, 12:15:18 AM »
The boy recoiled and steadily retreated from him.  Apparently Ian’s venomous tirade was an almost tangible force, driving the would-be do-gooder back until he was met by the wooden slats of the fence.  If the thief was upfront with himself - truly, brutally honest - he might admit that, deep down, some part of him revelled in being feared.  It was a poor substitute for respect, but it was something.  Ian ate into the space between them with slow, calculated steps, dust stirring around his bare feet; a skinny, angry, angular boy with everything to prove.

Except, those desperate words - uttered with faltering conviction - wrenched painfully at something in the thief’s core.  They might have been meant to encourage or inspire, but instead they left Ian feeling hollow and bitter, his hard features coloured with mistrust.  It wasn’t that Ian didn’t want to do and be better, it was simply that he didn’t believe he could.  Right this very moment, Flori was waiting for him, dull-eyed, her belly cramping with hunger.  Whatever it cost, Ian refused to come home empty-handed.  Even if it meant that the prideful, hateful part of him eventually led to the hangman’s noose.  He had to play the part of pickpocket, scoundrel, whoreson, scum.  Outside of the shabby brothel he called home, he couldn’t be seen as weak or indecisive.

Which is why he felt he had no choice.

The righteous kid needed to be taught a lesson.

“If I came back with you,” Ian started quietly, less dangerous now and more resigned.  “They would drag me to the market and have the MP bastards flog me.  And that’s if I’m lucky.  Otherwise, the butcher’s all too ready to take one or both my hands.  And everyone - everyone - the soldiers, the slack-jawed shoppers - you - would look the other fuckin’ way.”  Ian halted, close to the boy now, his head bowed and adolescent voice low and tight with anger.  Maybe that was the intention, maybe those hasty words were all contrived, a trap.  The thief’s hands clenched into fists, tendons rising in his narrow wrists.  “And the next time you see me?  I’d be on a beggar’s blanket, hopin’ for scraps.  Bet you’d even cross the street to avoid me.”

Maybe that was true.  Maybe it wasn’t.

Ian sighed, deeply, genuinely, suddenly looking older than his years.  “Why… why the fuck didn’t you run?”  It was a question asked by one who might have understood, if only he had taken the time to think.  Sometimes, even when victory was impossible, a line had to be drawn and defended, even in the face of certain defeat.  But he had said the boy had one chance, and then given him two.  There could not be a third.  Naïve, gullible, well-meaning though the wannabe hero was, Ian had to stay true to his word.  Threats could not be idle, lest he be known as impotent, ineffective, all talk and no teeth.

There was the soft sound of a sharp inhalation, air pulling into Ian’s lungs as he steeled himself - he would do what had to be done - and drew back his left fist as though to strike.  It was a feint, and while attention shifted to that raised hand, he socked the boy with his right, the punch landing squarely on his opponent’s jaw.

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Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2018, 12:07:10 PM »
Gustav shuddered at the other boy's words. Was that true, would they really 'flog' him, or cut off his hands? Would he himself turn away when it happened? He wanted to be sure that he wouldn't, that he'd stick by the boy if he really did that, but he couldn't be. Worse, he thought he'd turn away in an instant if it meant he wouldn't have to look at somebody else in immense pain. What if the thief had no choice but to run or to be punished so harshly? Was the world really that cruel?

So many questions, with no answers, only guesses.

"I-- I wouldn't," he gasped, so quietly that he wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't been heard. Brown eyes, so wide, full of a blend of fear and desperation. They didn't need to fight, they truly didn't, he was sure of it. There must still be a way to talk through it, and work out a solution.

And yet here he was, trapped against wood, staring into the jaws of a boy who looked like a wild wolf, or a ferocious fox. Those resigned words, followed by the clench of fists, ready to pummel into the first thing in front of him. Right then, that was Gustav, unable to wiggle his way out.

He should have ran. Because he knew that Dietrich was right. Of course he'd cross the street...

Why the fuck didn't you run?

Deep down, maybe the other knew the answer, maybe he saw that Gustav was genuine in his words, that he wanted to help, even if the smaller boy couldn't work out how genuine his want to help truly was. But now wasn't the time for thinking more on it. Maybe he could find a way to run, but he had to get out of there, less like a mouse cowering under a cat.

The fist raised. His arms covered his chest, expecting the punch to come there, struggling to follow the angle of the hand, but it never struck anyway. Instead, the unseen right fist smashed into his jaw. A cry of alarm escaped his lips, as his hands came up to his jaw and clutched at it, with a further whimper. It hurt more than the time he'd tripped over a cobble and hit his chin, and the pain burned.

Why didn't I run?

He had to get out, and fast, but his jaw hurt so much. Maybe... maybe he could... Summoning his courage, he tried, ducking down to use his smaller size in order to wriggle past, intent on sprinting for the coin purse, fingers outstretched. If there was no reasoning, then he could only give one more thing a shot. It wasn't stealing if you were taking it to take back to the right person, right? And-- and he wouldn't take it all! He could... maybe it wouldn't be noticed if a few coins were gone. They could have been spilled, and he could say that, and nobody would know.

But he would, and if the thief wanted that much money, then taking back most of it wouldn't go down well. But he had to try, his last attempt, and if he could then he'd find a way of escape. It felt so wrong that he felt sick, revolted with himself. If he could scrub this feeling away, he'd turn his skin raw red from desperation, but he had to do something. How could he just run away without trying the last alternative? He truly, truly didn't want to anger him more, but how much worse would it be if the money wasn't returned? Wasn't he helping by ensuring Dietrich wouldn't be hurt for that if they found him? But he couldn't put it into words, not now with his jaw aching so badly.

Re: Take What You Can
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2019, 05:43:48 PM »
It was an almost picture-perfect punch, one Ian might have taken great satisfaction in if he could only convince himself that the boy actually deserved it. Yet as the do-gooder clutched at his jaw, whimpering, evidently unaccustomed to any great measure of pain, guilt burned Ian, bright and hot and unwelcome. His knuckles were stinging from the impact and he shook loose his hand almost nonchalantly, swallowing down his swirling emotions. A single strike and a lesson learned. Let that be an end to it.

So when the smaller boy darted past - Ian's failed attempt to seize him lacking any real conviction - he optimistically assumed that this was the end of their little altercation. At the first chance, the kid would surely rattle and scramble his way through the gap in the fence.

Except the foolish, stubborn boy instead lunged for the coin purse, his desperate fingers outstretched. Fire ignited in the thief's belly - far surpassing the guilt that hounded him - how dare this brat try to steal from him? Spurred immediately into action, Ian bolted across the courtyard, a snarl falling from his lips as he grabbed the boy's shoulders and spun him roughly around. In the same moment the prize went denied, he swung his head forward, butting it forcefully against the boy's own. It was in imitation of boys even bigger and meaner than him, but Ian was unpractised in this form of assault, and his technique was off. With the crack of their skulls, pained bloomed behind his brow. Tears stung the corners of his wintery eyes, put there by hurt and frustration. Why was this kid making it so hard for both of them?

"You stupid bastard, what the hell is wrong with you?!" Ian bellowed, his strangled voice breaking. His hands tightened their grasp, the boy's tunic bunching in his fists. This was his most successful steal in weeks, and he wasn't even allowed to enjoy it. Instead, he had to be reminded of how low and despicable he was. How his very existence was a hindrance to hard-working, honest people. "You think I want this?!" Ian roared, shaking the boy roughly. "You think I fucking want this?"

This was too much. Too loud. Knowing he ran the risk of going overhead, Ian lapsed into silence and shoved the boy away, sending him staggering back. Hating the emotion he had shown, the thief rubbed angrily at his face. When his hand fell away, his expression had been reset, into one that was dangerously neutral. With a huff, he bent to retrieve the coin purse, then glowered in the boy's direction. "If you won't leave, then I will. Get out of my way."

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