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The Sinner's City

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The interrogation room is dusty, a cloying kind of dust that makes Jack’s nose itch. It’s the worst kind of dust, the devil of a thousand allergies.

 

Jack supposes she deserves it.

 

“Okay, your name is Jacklyn Morelli, correct?” The detective sitting across from her asks. He’s the one who caught her, but she supposes she won’t hold it against him, but only if he’s nice. A couple of cookies would help, too. He’s shuffling through a monstrous pile of papers, pulling out a couple marked with yellow and green striped sticky notes. Jack recognizes a couple of her old pictures roughly stapled onto them. Was her nose always that big?

 

“Jacklyn?” The stern faced detective waves a hand in front of Jack’s face, snapping her out of her reverie.

 

“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you, yadda yadda yadda,” The stern faced detective yawns. There’s bags underneath his eyes, and an abnormally large cup of coffee next to him.

 

“Let’s cut to the chase. Who gave you that bomb, and why did you want to blow up the casino?” Jack stayed silent, glaring sullenly into the detective’s eyes. She saved thousands , and they think she meant to kill thousands.

 

“Okay, look. I want to go home, and I bet you do, too. It’s simple: we hear your side of the story, we clear things up, and you get to go home. Nice and easy. Would you like to speak?” The detective asked again. After Jack stayed silent for a long couple of seconds, he sighed and rubbed his eyes. The detective’s voice grew tired.

 

“These charges are serious, you know. Attempted murder, avoiding arrest, terrorism - These charges could put you in for life.” Jack stayed silent. She closed her eyes and leaned back, pretending to doze off. It was a little uncomfortable with the handcuffs, but if it annoyed the detective, it was worth it. Jack could emphasize with him somewhat - sure, he was just another person trying to do the right thing - but he had this look in his eyes. Jack had seen it before; it was the faces of those who would never abandon their morals. If the detective decided Jack was evil, Jack would always be evil in his eyes. Jack supposed she was the same way.

 

“You’re - you’re sleeping. In the middle of a police interrogation. Hello? Jack?” Jack felt a calloused hand on her shoulder shake her gently. She cracked one eye open ever so slightly, just enough to see the detective’s blurry outline.

 

“Damnit,” The detective mumbled, leaning backwards, “I’ll just let the other guys take care of this.” He silently sat there for a minute, and then Jack heard the subtle shift of shoes on the squeaky floor. Footsteps receded from her, heavy with exhaustion. The detective paused at the door.

 

“Fuck, why’d she have to look like my daughter?” The detective mumbled, almost inaudible. He turned around, flipping off the light switch. The harsh, fluorescent light from the hallway spilled in, casting the detective’s shadow across Jack. In that moment, the lowly detective stood as grand as a king.

 

Jack must have drifted off sometime after that. She really didn’t mean to.

 

 

 

 

“Jacklyn! You look so pretty in that dress!” Rachel gushed, running her fingers over the lustrous fabric of Jack’s dress. Jack blushed furiously, but gave her signature shit eating grin.

 

“Call me Jack, Rachel,” Jack said, and Rachel giggled. While Jack would never feel fully comfortable in a dress, just being with Rachel made it all worthwhile.

 

“Try on this next!” Rachel held up a gaudy dress with way too many sequins for Jack’s taste, but… she supposed she could give it a try.

 

“Sure thing!” Jack grinned even wider, if that was possible, pulling the last dress over her head. It wasn’t like they were actually going to buy any of these dresses - they were overpriced, anyways.

 

“Jack, have you found a job yet?” Rachel mentioned casually, but Jack could tell Rachel had been meaning to ask her for a while. Jack’s smile faltered.

 

“You’re still working at McDonald’s, aren’t you,” Rachel said, not really a question.

 

“Y-yes, but McDonald’s has some class!” Jack fumbled, “I’m not a hooker - yet!” Jack recovered, laughing. Rachel stared at her in a stern mom way. Yeesh, Jack couldn’t help that most places couldn’t handle her awesomeness!

 

“You know, I just started working as a vocalist in this really nice casino. It’s called The Plaza,”

 

“Hm? Are you implying something?” Jack looked up from trying to struggle on the latest dress. It was way too tight.

 

“There’s a wait staff job open. I’m sure you could pull it off, especially with your charm,” Rachel wiggled her eyebrows suggestively on the word charm, causing Jack to snort.

 

“Ha! Like I’d ever!” Jack teased. Despite what she said, classy waiter at a fancy casino… that did not sound like a bad job at all.

 

 

 

 

 

“Jacklyn? Are you awake?” Jack was roused from her not so restful slumber by a soft voice calling her name. The first thing that she was aware of was that it was freezing. Antarctica could take a few tips from this place. Also, the bed Jack was on did not seem to be the most comfortable. Jack eased her eyes open, adjusting to the damp light. She pushed herself into a sitting position, glancing around. She was in a basic cell with a sink, a bed, and a very exposed toilet.

 

“Ms. Morelli, I don’t have much time,” The voice called again, a bit more impatient. Jack glanced over. Behind the bars was the detective from the interrogation and the chase, still dressed in his signature brown trench coat.

 

“I’m sorry for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Detective Woods.” The detective says. Woods, was it?

 

“Fuck off, Woody,” Jack mumbles. Her mouth is dry, and her head is pounding with waves of pain; what did she sleep on, a rock?

 

“Look, I’m sorry. This is completely unrelated to the case, but I need to ask you a couple of questions.” An edge of desperation creeps into Woods’ voice, and Jack immediately picks up on it.

 

“How can I help you, detective?” Jack grins, doing a full 180 turn from her attitude earlier. Desperation is an old friend to Jack. Maybe she could get something out of this.

 

“Look at this. Please. You’re part of some terrorist group, right? Maybe you’ve seen her,” Woods says, slipping a small, crumpled picture through the bars. It’s obviously pretty old, but it’s been well preserved, like someone actually tried to take care of it.

 

“What’s her name?” Jack asked, peering at the picture. It’s a young girl, anywhere from fourteen to sixteen. She’s the sun, radiant with happiness. A younger, less stressed version of Detective Woods stands beside her, smiling as well. However, what strikes Jack most is that the girl in the picture - mini-Woods? - looks almost like Jack, except with bona fide happiness and confidence. That girl is the real deal. Jack is a pale imitation to her glory.

 

“Jessica. That’s her name. Jessica Skyler Woods,” Detective Woods says, his head dropping. He looks pale.

 

“Are you okay?” Jack asks despite herself, sliding off the bed and padding over to the bars. Detective Woods wobbles, steadying himself against the bars.

 

“I’m fine. Just give me a moment,” Detective Woods says. He’s obviously not fine. Tears are beading at his eyes, and he’s shaking, if only ever so slightly.

 

“If you get me out of this dump, I can find Jessica. I have connections,” Jack says, trying to be soothing. She never was good in this type of situation For a minute, Woods looks like he’s calming down. Then, just when Jack thinks she has a chance, he begins to grow angry. His fists ball up, and his breaths grow ragged. Jack takes one step, two, three steps back from the bars. Her trademark grin is far gone from her face.

 

“Hey man, calm down-”

 

“Calm down? My family is not some - some poker chip in your twisted game!” Jack is literally watching this man fall to pieces before her, and she can’t do anything to stop it. Jack doesn’t realize it, but she’s shaking, if only from the killing aura exuded by Woods. His fist meets the bars with a loud clang. He stands there for a second, breaths slowly growing less erratic. Woods looks at his bloody knuckles like he’s never seen a hand before.

 

“Hey! Woods! Is everything okay?” A chubby - no, bigger, Jack’s mother told her to polite, and damn well she’s going to be - police officer walks in. Woods visibly composes himself, holding his bloody knuckles behind his back. There’s still a spot of blood dripping down the bars, and Woods smoothly steps in front of it.

 

“Yes, everything is under control,” He says effortless. Jack could almost believe herself that Woods didn’t have a fucking mental breakdown in front of her five seconds ago.

 

“Good, because we have some new intel on the case!” The other officer says cheerfully. Jack blinks. This is unexpected.

 

“What is it?” Woods asks, visibly shocked as well.

 

“That gang, Arbiter, they just claimed responsibly for the case! It seems that our little lady saved quite a few lives in that casino!” The cheerful officer says like he was ordering a doughnut, not talking about the most fearsome mafia in the city.

 

“Wait - she’s innocent?” Woods asks, incredulous. Jack couldn’t believe it either. Arbiter? Why would they do something like this? It seemed completely out of character for Arbiter to try and blow up a casino. Weren’t they more… justice oriented?

“Well, we’ll need her testimony later, but the holding order has been revoked.”

 

“Arbiter? Are you sure?” Jack asks, blinking owlishly. Two focused pairs of eyes swung towards her.

 

“Well, speak of the devil! Let’s get you out and about, eh?” The cheerful officer said.

 

Jack made sure to wink at Woods on the way out.

 

“Hey! Be careful with my roller skates!”