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12:01


The sweat hadn't even cooled on Jay's skin before he rolled off the bed, groping blindly for his clothes. The apartment was too high up for the weak glow of the streetlights below to illuminate the cramped bedroom, and though there seemed to be a sky overhead, there was no moon to speak of. That was okay, though; Jay had done this often enough that he had a system specially designed for quick getaways like this one: clothes on the floor in order from his feet up, in a pile just waiting for him to slip back into them. He hadn't managed to get his shirt on when he felt the light scrape of nails against his spine. With a practiced grin, Jay turned and caught the fingers that had reached out to him, twining them with his own.

"Where are you going?" the woman in the bed asked, her voice just shy of plaintive.

"Work in the morning," Jay lied easily, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. "Sorry, babe." The woman sighed as he turned away to pull his t-shirt on.

"When can I see you again?" Definitely a whine that time.

"Soon," Jay replied as he finished lacing his boots. In your dreams, he thought as he walked to the door. Light spilled into the room as he opened it, but he didn't turn back to look at the woman on the bed. He wouldn't have remembered her face now that he could see it, anyway. She had just been something to do to fill a few hours of his time.

He walked down the street, back towards the artificial lights and the bass that had throbbed and pounded like a collective heartbeat since the sky had magically reappeared a few weeks ago. Everyone was celebrating this new development, seeking to squeeze every last drop of jubilation out of it just on the off chance that Something Else would happen and the world would be once more on the brink of ending. Jay was just as determined as everyone else to take advantage of this opportunity to affirm once more that, no, he wasn't dead and, yes, the world was still there.

But really, the world could be ending and Jay would still find an excuse to party.
Flight or Flight


Jay practically danced down the street back to the club, filled with a nervous, anxious restlessness that usually preceded doing something dumb and reckless. It was the kind of energy that could lead to a fight or another night in an anonymous bed. Possibly both; it was that kind of night. As he pushed himself back into the writhing throng, he felt his heartbeat stutter into time with the thumping bass.

Fortunately, the music was loud enough that nobody bothered with trying to talk over it, and Jay was able to lose himself in the rolling motions of the beat. He danced for what felt like hours with anyone and everyone that crossed his path, not minding a bit as the crowd forced close proximity. Only when the sweat on his skin glittered with the multicolored lights of the club and his tongue felt like a dried sponge in his mouth did he beg off another dance with a rueful grin and mimed taking a drink. He needn't have bothered; his dance partner had already found someone else to rub against. Jay fought his way back through the crowd to the bar, slapping a bill on it and getting a bottle of water from the bartender in return.

Jay made his way outside through a side door, shivering as the night air--was it still night? who could tell?--cooled his skin. He felt momentarily deaf and disoriented as the light and most of the sound cut off with the door shutting behind him, but he shook it off and strode down the dark alley. He was tired now, but anxiety still coiled in the pit of his stomach, tempting him to keep trying to work it off. He ignored it in favor of cracking open his water bottle and swallowing half the contents. Jay relaxed against the cool, rough brick of the alley, trying to decide whether he wanted to go back inside and dance until he had exhausted all but the energy he would need to make it back home or if he wanted to move on and find something else to occupy his time when he saw a pair of headlights creep down the street across from the alley.

While cars weren't rare even in this day and age--people had adapted admirably to the end of the world and the following slow recovery, to the point where things were almost back to the way they had been pre-almost Armageddon--it was curious that someone was driving around at this time of night--day--whatever. Jay watched with interest as the car parallel parked in front of an apartment building, disgorging a pair of men who seemed to shut their doors with deliberate silence before furtively disappearing into the building.

Suddenly, all of that persistent, restless energy seemed to have purpose, and Jay found himself jogging across the street before he was even aware he was moving. He glanced at the entrance to the building, making sure the men that had just gone in weren't on their way back out, before turning his attention to the car. It was a thing of beauty: a '66--no, '67--Corvette, its body sleek and gleaming under the streetlights. Cherry red and, judging by the purr it made gliding down the street, just as cherry under the hood, too. Jay licked his lips in both appreciation and anticipation as he circled the car, glancing quickly up and down the street to make sure no one was coming before surreptitiously trying the handle on the driver's side door. To his surprise, it popped right open.

It even seemed to have that new car smell despite being a few times older than he was. The soft leather sighed as Jay eased himself behind the wheel of the car, his fingers groping for the ignition and--yes!--the keys that dangled from it. That settled it, then. Anyone dumb enough to leave the keys in a sweet car like this didn't deserve to keep it. Jay started the car as quietly as he could, relying on the streetlights rather than the headlights to see where he was going as he eased it out of the parking space. Something popped loudly, and Jay cursed, thinking the car was backfiring. He knew it was too good to be true--

Except it happened two more times, and Jay caught a flash of light in the side view mirror. Adrenaline replaced anxiety as Jay realized that the car wasn't backfiring--that somewhere close by, someone was actually shooting or getting shot at. With a heartfelt curse, Jay pulled the car into the street and just drove, not bothering with subtlety in his haste to get the hell away from the gunfire.

His eyes flickered between the road ahead of him and the rear view mirror all the way to the chop shop he sometimes did work for when he was broke or feeling like a little extra adventure. With shaking hands, he unlocked the gate to the scrapyard the chop shop was housed in, driving the car to the warehouse the dismantling was done in. As he walked back to close the gate, his adrenaline rush ebbed into something a little more manageable, and the wariness he'd had at being followed--possibly by men with guns who probably wouldn't be too happy at having their car stolen--turned into a familiar sense of triumph and pride. He had managed to steal an awesome car with no fuss, no one had actually shot at him, and he'd gotten laid.

All in all, not a bad's night work.
1/10th of the Law is Common Sense


"Wake up." Jay startled awake with a half-aborted snort as the order was repeated and accompanied by a none-too-gentle poke to the ribs.

"What?" Jay asked blearily, sitting up on the cot he had stretched out on the night before. He had been too tired to make his way home, and Morris, the old, crotchety owner of the scrapyard, didn't mind if the people he employed slept there sometimes; free security, he called it. In reality, Morris himself would have been better security, with his wizened face set in a perpetual bulldog snarl that could have warned off Armageddon all by itself.

"What the hell is that?" Morris ground out, his voice growly with a lifetime of smoking and a generally poor disposition.

Jay followed the line of Morris's pointing arm to the garage bay he had parked the Corvette in the previous night. It looked so much better under the flourescent lights of the garage than it had parked in a dirty street in the dead of night. Some of the other guys were standing around it, talking in low voices and looking between Jay and the Corvette. "That's about a hundred grand in parts, boss. No need to thank me or anything," he said with a smirk.

"Thank you? I should ******** kill you, you moron!" Morris reached down and grabbed a handful of Jay's shirt, hauling him bodily off the cot and dragging him into the bay. Jay had no choice but to stumble after him. His co-workers scrambled to get out of their way, as if whatever Jay had that made their boss so mad at him was contagious and deadly. "That!" Morris shouted at him as he dragged Jay around the car. "What the hell is that?" Morris repeated, pointing at the open trunk. Like most sports cars, the Corvette had a miniscule trunk that was designed more for looks than function.

However, that hadn't stopped somebody from cramming a dead body into it.

The smirk slid off of Jay's face as he stared at it. "Oh my god," he muttered, his eyes growing wide. "Oh my god, I slept here all night with a dead guy right there!" One of the guys barked a laugh, hiding it in a cough as Morris's face darkened further.

"That's what you're worried about? There's a dead body stuffed in the car that you stole and you're worried about sleeping next to it? I should put you in there with it!"

"Swear to God, Morris, I had no idea it was there," Jay rushed out, raising his hands in a placating gesture. "Just, I saw the car last night, decided to try my luck, and the keys were right there--I couldn't not!"

"Yeah, just like you couldn't not be bothered to check it out when you brought it here. Do you know what that means?"

"That...that this catch was too good to be true?"

"That someone's gonna be looking for this car, you dumb s**t! You don't just dump a body in a car this good and forget about it! This thing's been sittin' here for hours, and you can bet your a** the owner's not gonna just write it off as bad luck and let it go."

"So--so what do we do?"

"We don't do nothin', kid. You're gonna take this car--and yourself--offa my lot. Now."

"Aw, c'mon, Morris," Jay wheedled, not willing to give the car--and the payday it could bring--up for something so small as a dead body in the trunk. "I can scrub out the back, we can still break it down for parts--"

"No. This s**t's risky enough as it is, these parts can be traced back to my yard, and I'm not puttin' my a** on the line so you can make a couple of bucks. You get this thing outta here now, and as far as I'm concerned, I never saw it." Morris slammed the trunk shut. "Understood?" He asked in a tone that demanded a positive response.

"Yes," Jay grumbled, scowling at the keys Morris pressed into his hand before turning his back on him. What crappy luck. Of course it had been too good to be true. Avoiding the curious glances and smug smirks of his co-workers, he got into the car and drove it out of the bay.

Halfway to the yard's exit, he put the car in park and turned it off, leaning over the passenger seat to open the glove compartment. If he absolutely had to ditch the car, he wanted to find out where the owner lived so he could do it on the opposite side of town. Although nobody really bothered keeping up with their registrations these days, Jay knew from past experience that those kinds of things tended to linger, forgotten, in the depths of the glove box: old registrations, expired insurance cards, manuals--and in this case, a handgun and a small leather drawstring pouch. "Jesus," Jay muttered as he caught sight of the gun, recoiling from the glove box. The door gaped open without the support of his hand, and whatever was in the pouch submitted to gravity and rolled out, hitting the floor with a dull thud. It lay there forgotten as Jay cautiously reached back into the glove box, being careful not to touch the gun as he rifled through the papers beneath it.

Jay grasped the very corner of a registration form and carefully slid it out of the pile, skimming it quickly. It listed the car as belonging to someone on the east side of town--the ritzier part of town, full of what used to be mini-mansions in well-developed gated communities. Figured; this was hardly a cheap car. It was impossible to know whether the owner still lived there, but Jay decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

An hour later, he parked the car into the loading bay of what used to be a shipping company. Now it was just another building, dilapidated and abandoned and as far away from the address on the registration as he could manage. The whole street was full of lots with cars that had been left behind to rot, and only the fact that the Corvette was in such good condition--not to mention cherry red--would mark it as different than any of the others. If nothing else, it was far enough away from the street that passersby wouldn't notice the smell of the body that would soon begin to rot inside the trunk.

Jay sighed as he turned the car off for the last time, reluctant to get out. This was the kind of car he had always wanted: sleek and made with the kind of craftsmanship that newer, mass-produced pieces of crap lost somewhere between concept and marketability. He could fix it up, unleash the beast that lived under the hood, and just take off. He could be unstoppable. It was tempting, even with the body in the trunk. He could dump it, get the car repainted, and drive so far, so fast that no one would be able to catch him. But Morris was right. Someone would be looking for this car, and it wasn't so common a car that its owner would be thrown off by a new coat of paint.

Oh, well. Maybe in another life.

Jay withdrew the keys from the ignition, not wanting to leave them in there and risk having someone else steal the car. As he leaned towards the glove compartment, he caught sight of the pouch that had fallen out the first time he had opened it. After a moment of debate, he tossed the keys in the glove compartment, snatched the pouch, and put it in his pocket before getting out of the car.

If he couldn't keep the Corvette, he may as well have a souvenir of his time with it.

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