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Bad To The Bone, Sick As A Dog

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They sat in silence, a small group of bodies piled shoulder to should around the single back booth of the closed bar. No one dared breath, afraid to test the lingering tension that floated about the air like heavy smoke. The lights had been shut off for the night, the blinds to the street closed. What light did shine through the small bar did a fine job of hiding facial expressions, masking both fearful looks and impatient glances. Little features were cast more in the highlight of the light above the bar as it flickered. Its bright purple hue streaking the walls in a flurry of odd shadows.

At the head of the table, leaning deep into the high cushioned seat, sat a man with an unreadable expression and steady gaze from one single eye. The other was covered in a thick black eye-patch, a wide piece of leather that hide the skin from eyebrow to cheek bone. It still did little to cover up the puckered skin underneath and long spider webbed scars could be seen reaching out from the corners. He had barely moved a muscle as the table filled in around him, and he said nothing as the minutes passed slowly. While the table exchanged glances, no one wanted to be the one to break the silence and draw his attention. To be the instigator, the barer of bad news, was a death sentence. Because Bill Cipher didn't just shoot the messenger, he flayed their skin and strung them by the neck from the downtown bridge to make an example of them.

That's the kind of man this was. His calm outward demeanour was as trusting as a landmine, one wrong move, one breath, and the whole bar would erupt in a shower of bullets and blood. It didn't matter if you were friend or foe. Who ever got in his way would be dead before they hit the floor. Even the slight buzz from the neon halogen was enough to set him off, shown in the way Bill's thumb started to drum against the table top with steady rhythmic control. It made everybody seated around the booth flinch.

While his sharp eye trailed from each shadowed face to the next with the utmost attention, his mind seemed to be elsewhere. It was, indeed elsewhere. This distraction, this withdrawal, was strange and unsettling to everyone including him. He sat in the present but his mind had crumbled away after days of minimal sleep and added stress. It left behind a husk of a frame that was loosing control of its pent-up violence and hunger for something other than gin and cigarettes.

He'd been counting the hours since his last shred of peace. The tally now reaching a full week and Bill was on his last scrap of sanity. Every day had been spent trying, and failing, to right the wrong that had been done to him and at every turn his men had come back empty handed. Either by sheer dumb luck or some unfathomable act of God. However, do to such incompetence, he had to put an end to more than a few useless lives and dirty his precious home with blood stains and bits of bone fragment.

Now, he was at his limits and personally getting involved where his men had failed. He'd even dressed up for the occasion in a fine tailed pinstripe suit and outer coat, coordinating gold cuff-links and tie pin. Bill tipped back the brim of his fedora and rolled his head to one side. The stiff joint giving off a loud popping sound like a gun shot. With an impatient sigh he addressed his men, letting his voice carry all his irritation and annoyance until he almost yelled each word and filled the bar with a booming echo.

“Does anyone wish to tell me why we are here tonight?”

The question was not rhetorical or sarcastic. Every person at that table knew why they'd been called out, fully aware of the reason for such a last minute meeting. The slight drumming of his finger returned to fill the pause, as steady as a ticking clock. Bill hated to be left waiting and impatiently snapped at them all, somehow louder than before.

“Well?”

It took another moment for his people to pull themselves together out of fear. One sad, pathetic lump of flesh finding a voice in the crowd of cowards. It served him long enough to spit out the words,

“Locating your-”

“Precisely!” Bill cut him off, slapping his palm flat against the table. The whole thing shook under the hit, rattling on his legs. “Or rather, your failure to do so! You're all a mess of incompetent, cockeyed bastards. I should beat every last one of ya 'til you spew your own guts out.”

“Sir, we've been tryin-”

“Don't interrupt me, else you wanna sleep out in the sticks!” Bill sucked in a deep breath and exhaled with a slow dramatics that left him smiling all cheerful and bright. Bill liked to smile, though it was rarely genuine. He used it as a cover for his emotions and filtered his anger through his teeth as he grinned at everyone. He brushed the fedora off his head and shrugged his tailed overcoat from his shoulder.

He'd come tonight more than ready to murder each and every one of his henchmen in cold blood and he wasn't far from the point now. A light, unhinged chuckle came over him as he thought about doing just that. It felt raw and dry at the back of his throat. Bill slipped a hand into his vest, disturbing the neatly crease lines of his three-piece suit to draw his concealed pistol. He set it down on the table, a clear warning for the next person to speak out of turn. Calmly, he spoke again, this time a look in his eye that dared someone to try his patience.

“Now,” he started slow and even toned. “We are here because you've all failed, repeatedly, to retrieve something that'd been stolen from me. Why you've all failed so spectacularly is beyond me but you've managed it... It was one simple task. Just one! ...I gotta say you've all got moxie for showing your faces here tonight. Because you are not off the hook, I promise you that.”

Bill's wrath was built up slowly these last few days. Having constantly been brought more and more bad news of failure, and the now involvement of a number of cops due to the rising body count Bill had strewn about in gutters and back allies. All because of one easy assignment going belly up. Transport his property from point A to point B. A job, which had been so simple and direct that any one of his money brained lackeys should have been able to handle it. Not because the nature of this job was particularly easy, per say, but because they should have known what would happen if they were to fail. And how badly they would suffer if they were to lose something so valuable, something so priceless and irreplaceable as what was taken from him.

A part of him was still in shock that anyone would have been stupid enough as to steal from him. The armed thugs in the front seat. Even his beloved armour plated Rolls Royce wasn't enough of a deterrent from theft. Because, voila, here they were.

It was a good thing those posted in such a transfer job had all been killed before Bill had gotten wind of the robbery. If they hadn't been, Bill would have made sure not a scrap of flesh or bone would ever be seen again. There would be nothing but blood. The memory of that night was bad enough to rial his temper. He couldn't even mourn the lose of his beautiful car properly with the addition of such a fuck up being placed in his hands. Bill laced his fingers together tightly and leaned forward onto the table. He took a long moment to himself to reign in his composure before he started screaming and throwing threats around the room. His fingers white knuckled as they pressed down on the table.

“You all left me no choice but to get involved and handle things myself. So much so that I've had to arrange a buy back.” Bill's murderous grin crept up the side of his face. “And you all know how much I hate lowering myself to such things. Especially when this wasn't a ransom or even an offered trade. I personally had to step forward and request a buy back-”

“Sir, we've been tryin' to intervene but they move too fast-”

Bill's hand slapped down over his gun. The shot went off before his aim was even fully made, his finger finding the trigger on reflex. In the small space of the bar the sound was deafening and sharp, echoing off the steal pipes that lines the ceiling. The man's scream of pain didn't even break through the ringing in everyone's ears. He folded forward over the table, grabbing for the wound and the bullet that had now embedded itself in his shattered collarbone. He gasped and choked on his own drool and clawed at the table in shock.

Bill cocked his head to the side, eyeing the placement along the man's shoulder. Blood was quickly beginning to spurt out and pool over the table. Thick streams of red, made a deep burgundy in the neon light, dripped behind the hand trying to hold it in. Bill huffed with a dramatically disappointed pout. He'd missed the man's heart by inches. He rarely missed a shot like that.

He set the gun down again. The lack of sleep must really be getting to him if he'd missed a shot at such close range. Bill tipped his head back and let out a long sigh, running his hands over his face and up through his stylishly gelled hair.

“What did I just say about interrupting me?” Bill closed his eye and mentally tried to block out the man's muffled whines. However that obnoxious choking was becoming more of an irritant than the humming lights. He waved a hand loosely towards the back door. “Hector, have him kiss the curb. I'm tried of his sissy whining.”

Without any hesitation Hector, a wide brick of a man stood from the table. He was dressed neatly in a grey suit, thick moustache, and homburg hat, looking the part of discreet gentleman. Though despite the tidy dress, he was a brute of a man and reached across the table to haul his injured associate from his seat. Hector didn't even bat an eye over the man's kicking as he was pulled over the tabletop, begging for mercy until his voice cracked shrill and horse.

His hand closed around the man's collar and dragged him screaming across floor. Bill cracked his eye open to watch the two disappear into the backroom. The screams of fear and pain muffling by heavy doors until there was nothing but heavy silence. Bill sighed then, relieved that it was once again so quiet. He pinched his nose bridge and forced his headache to recede to the back of his mind. He waited calmly for a moment for the rest of the booth to settle down and come to terms with the blood streak rubbed across the table in front of them, implying that any of them could be next.

Though he didn't wait for Hector to rejoin the party before continuing on with the meeting. Bill lifted his head and motioned to the man on his left. His fingers snapped sharply and he waited with his palm upturned. A folded up paper was produced and placed into his hand without a word.

Bill unfolded the paper and laid it flat in front of him. In the dim light, the white paper glowed neon and reflective. Drawn in crude, messy detail, was a floor plan that he could only assume its accuracy. Never a good start to any plan but his options were limited and it was better than nothing. He had to grease more than a few palms in order to get this bloody thing so heaven help anyone if it proved to be for nothing. Bill tapped the paper to get everyone's attention.

“Thanks to all of you, I have the displeasure of groveling to a Gleeful to buy back something that's already mine.” Bill let out a long snarl between his clenched teeth, unable to keep his temper fully under control. “I don't do such things. And I'm not giving that brat a dime. So... The rest of you are going to try and redeem yourself while I keep him busy.”

A few under the table favours and some bribery was nothing in comparison. Bill would rather loose another eye than pay Gideon Gleeful money and take a defeat. He'd gotten this information for tonight and he was going to see to it that it paid off. He'd spent all week chasing after Gideon, being made a fool and being duped repeatedly. Through his web of informants he'd learned Gideon had been bouncing around the city on purpose to throw Bill off the trail and keep him distracted. Like it was a game. However, this little game of cat and mouse was a dangerous one when played against a Cipher. Finally, Bill had managed to pin him down to one location where he couldn't get away. He arranged the meeting. And come hell or high water, he was taking back what belonged to him. If Gideon walked away alive after tonight, he'd not be walking away in one piece.

“This is the vault to Gleeful's Casino... Heavily reinforced, top of the line alarm system, and under constant surveillance.” Bill shrugged. “But we've broken into better. “So, while I'm upstairs keeping the rat busy, you lot will be here separated into groups for this little break in.”

It was always technically easier said than done but Bill was confident enough that things would go off without a hitch. They had robbed enough banks and casinos that it had become child's play. His crew had it down to an effective science and could tunnel through a solid brick wall in minutes. According to the drawn plans the vault was a two part structure with an inner safe for the more valuable items. The inner safe didn't share a wall with the rest of the vault and sat free standing in the middle of the room. And while Bill would like to simply blow a hole in the vault and make a straight path to what was being locked up inside, he didn't want to risk damaging it by accident.

So, as he told laid out for them, their entry point would be in the connecting hallway on that lower level. The would sweep clean the stairs and the guards posted in the basement.

Key was the best safe-cracker Bill had ever seen in his life and was put front and centre on this mission. If anyone could get that damned vault open without the alarms sounding it'd be him. Now, Bill often couldn't care less if an alarm went off during a robbery. However it was easier to deal with fragile merchandiser when there weren't a building of mob loyal security guards swarming them into a closed in space. One or two at a time was nothing. So subtlety was the name of the game.

“Py, you'll stand with Key.” Bill looked down the table to where his sole female associate sat. She was one of the only women under his employment at the moment, not that it had anything to do with her sex. Py was as gorgeous as she was terrifying in her brutality, and Bill respected that. While the majority of the men surrounding him preferred their semi-automatics and various styles of guns, Py was a lady of taste and style that had a slight dramatic flare. Her weapon of choice was a man-powered flamethrower that caused far more devastating carnage than a bullet.

“If anything goes wrong tonight...”

They shared a silent look, his cold blue eye meeting her dark brown. She didn't flinch under his implied threats or back away. Py only bat her eyelashes at him from behind a thick veil of her deep waved red hair. A smile spread on her painted lips, promising to level the building if it would please him. It was enough of an exchange to satisfy Bill. He slid the floor plan down the table for better viewing.

“We will stop to pick up a few things on the way,” Bill continued. If he wasn't so annoyed, he'd almost admit to being anxious. They'd been waiting on a phone call for longer than expected. The black rotary behind the bar sat mute and with each passing minute the quiet dragged dangerously onward. “If you lot have questions or thoughts, voice 'em now while I'm giving you the opportunity.”

At first it seemed like no one was going to speak but one small voice took the chance to say something while Bill's head was down turned and distracted by the floor plans.

“The cops-”

“Doesn't matter. They have no place in this plan,” Bill cut in to dismiss the idea.

“Ford's been getting closer-”

Bill's head shot up to see who made such a dodgy comment. He fixed his one associate, Zanthar, with a stern glare.

“Don't say that name to me tonight. Imma warn you right now. The fact I don't shoot you dead for even thinking it shows my generosity to you, but do not push your luck.”

Zanthar nodded quickly and said nothing else on the subject of the city's number one Private Eye.

As Hector made his way back into the room, finally the phone rang. It's bright, loud sound cutting through the dulled quiet like a knife. Bill's hand shot out, pointing to the bar in a commanding outstretched reach. He barked at Hector to pick up the line before the call was cut short. Smartly, the man did so as told and grabbed the receiver before the second ring even had time to come through. Mild relief flooded his system and Bill sunk into his seat, listening to the one-sided conversion. He tried to relax as there were only mumbles and the odd confirmation on their end, not a lot to hear. Still though, Bill found himself holding a breath as he waited.

“Yes... Alright.” Hector hung up the phone.

“Don't leave me hanging... What did they have to say?” Bill's pinky finger was inching toward his gun again. Luckily, his associate nodded at him.

“They're ready for you.”

“Excellent.” Bill looked at those gathered around the table. A diminished number from the usual, and now one short because he had his teeth embedded in the asphalt out back. Bill nodded and they all rose to their feet, ready to leave at once. There was no need to repeat himself here on the importance of their plan going smoothly. They all knew that it wasn't just their jobs on the line tonight. It was their lives at risk, as well as the lives of anyone they could remotely care about. Should their heist go south, Bill would not rest until everyone suffered dearly.

He could see it on some of their faces, that they thought his behaviour excessive, not seeing the value in one little trinket as Bill did. Maybe they could even see how his brain was become a little loose in the absence. But whatever they thought, they wisely didn't voice. If anything, they made an excuse on his behalf and carried on with their work. Bill was a man of pride and would not be made a fool of by a pint sized rat who thought he could fuck with his property.

Bill stood up from the booth, pulling his overcoat back over his shoulders and returning his fedora to perch on his hair, its slight downward tilt to help cover the eye-patch and scared side of his face. He let his men head out first before he followed behind with Hector at his heels.

Py came up along side him as they were stepping out into the cool night air. They stood under the door's hanging shelter as a light rain started to fall, keeping them dry as they stood shoulder to shoulder. She turned to him, fluffing up the fur of her coat around her chest. There was a sultry little flush to her skin as she pushed herself into his personal space. He side-eyed her as she tossed her hair back and smiled up looking for special attention.

“You seem tense tonight, Cipher. How's about we ride back to the warehouse together? I can do my best to lighten the load,” she said brushing a finger down his arm lightly.

Bill turned on his heels sharply. His hand shot out and took hold of her by the face. Fingers clenched, digging into the soft curve of her cheek and jaw. The space between them became rapidly small as Bill leaned down to stare into her eyes. His fingers twitched as he shook her face back and forth, a hateful tension keeping him from outright beating her down.

“I've told you before, Py. I've got someone for that,” Bill said, cold and quiet. And in lieu of some recent events that had left Bill's bed currently empty and cold, he was not about to share it with someone else simply to fill an absence. “Now... Don't touch me again, Toots, or else I'll see to it that your pretty face don't stay so pretty.”

Bill pulled his hand away so quick it was like touching her burned. A look of distaste crossed his expression as he inspected the palm of his hand. A dark red lipstick print was left against his skin, darkening the already tanned olive tone. His lip curled. With a slow intentional motion, he wiped his hand across Py's cheek. The lipstick smeared over her skin in a long red line. She didn't move, only returning his glance with a bitter, rejected one of her own.

Bill turned away from her then, ignoring the angered look he got. He headed for his car, pulling the pocket square from his vest to clean off whatever stain was left on his hand. Hector had moved ahead, ready at the door of Bill's sleek black Bentley when he'd stepped up to the curb. He held the door for his boss patiently waiting.

“Let's get out of here,” Bill said taking a seat in the rear of the car.

“Yes, sir.”

 

Minutes later, they hit the road. The none conspicuousness line of cars speeding through the downtown area. They were line a hoard of ominous crows scouting out their territory. Each one spread out in a fair distance of the other with Bill's safely guarded in the middle.

Bill shucked off his hat, shaking it of the water that clung to the brim. Py's offer was temptingly nagging on his brain, pulling at that one thread of disloyal desire that every man possessed. It would have been nice to have a body comfortably pressed to his side, hooked under his protective arm to stay close and warm. But the body Bill wanted to be looped around his own was temporarily absent. It was a separation that would not last. He promised himself this as he leaned his head back, using his hat to cover his face and blackout the passing streetlights. He closed his eyes and pretended that there wasn't a noticeably vacant seat next to him in the back of his Bentley.

He didn't have to pretend so much, not with how many other thoughts came swirling about his brain. The first intrusive thought was of the overwhelmingly long week and the rat bastard who caused it. Gideon wasn't someone he'd call capable or even a notable threat. However, lately the kid had been trying to impress his father and branch off into actual criminal activity. Even thought he collected on a large number of the city's gambling debts, the majority of people involved in the criminal underworld looked on the short, squealing child of a man with such distaste and dismissal that no one took him seriously.

So of all the people he could cross, Gideon decided to cross Bill. Bold wasn't the right word for it. His actions were suicidal. The rat came into Bill's territory and disrespected him by murdering his people and stealing from him.

Bill was ruthless and fought tooth and nail for his right to his throne. No one was going to push him out or try and hold him under their thumb with pathetic blackmail attempts and failed intimidation.

Really, it could have been anything. The kid could have interrupted a drug shipment or gotten someone wracked. Little things Bill could almost forgive because he could bounce back practically over night. He could replace shipments. He could replace people.

But he'd underestimated Gideon a fraction. As it turned out, the brat had a sliver of brain power under his platinum white pompadour. Admittedly, if someone was going to steal from Bill, there was only one thing valuable enough to piss him off into retaliation, and Gideon had gone directly for it. It was the first time anyone had been so brazenly arrogant, or so stupid, and Bill promised himself it would never happen again.

Bill felt himself growl over his racing mind. Thoughts of Gideon being shoved aside temporarily by the remembrance of a certain Private Detective. The horrendously annoying mother fucker that liked to constantly stick his nose where Bill didn't need it to be. The name bounced around like an echo in his ears, loud and unyielding to the point where Bill wanted to clamp his hands down over his ears to block out all the noise. He grit his teeth and let out a long snarling noise that was feral and angry.

“Ford...” Bill hissed under his breath. His bitter resentment brightened, turning to an insane chuckle that made Hector tense from his place behind the wheel. “Oh, Fordsie... Fordsie, Fordsie, Fordsie.”

Bill lifted the hat from his face and started at the dark interior of his car. Eyes open or closed he could see the man's face as clear as day in his head, meeting his glare just as intense and hateful. He could see the aging face, the wrinkles creased deep in pensive thought or in heated argument. He could count the newly added stress induced grey hairs weaving their way through his muted short brown cut.

The two had such a long history together full of resentment and violence. A few shoot outs over a robbery here and there, a warehouse being ransacked. Ford had even managed to arrest a few of Bill's more elite clients for their association with him. Their entanglement escalating over the years more so than any other. He won a few times, Bill won others. Ford took his eye, so Bill lopped off a few of Ford's fingers. The man didn't need them anyway. He'd been born with a surplus. It had been an interesting feature until Bill decided to correct it for him with a butcher's knife.

Their arguments as of late, prior to Bill's most recent littering of body parts around the city, had sent Ford into an uncontrollable power craze that launched a state wide manhunt for Bill's head. Ford's actions had gotten more than a few people killed – innocent or otherwise. The cause of all this, Ford's great nephew and whom he chose to spend his time with. Dipper Pines. The young little Sapling, his dear Pine Tree. This was hardly Bill's fault. The sweet little dove had just been so easy to seduce and corrupt. He couldn't be held accountable when those big brown eyes wanted to look at him with all the love in the world, blind loyalty and honey sweetness.

True, it had been nothing more than a game at first, one Bill had happily indulged in just to see how far the boy was willing to bend before he broken under Bill's hand. The bonus was the kid's relation and how pissed off Ford became when he found out about their little play dates. But that was all in the beginning.

Bill hadn't expected the kid to take such an intense attraction to him, almost persistently attached. That bright face with eyes begging for validation, hanging off Bill's every word like it was gospel. He let himself be sweet talked into the most vial crimes imaginable and happily followed Bill into hell. It had been so much fun, such a roaring good time that Bill had gotten himself caught up in the devoted embrace. His baby doll, his sunshine. Bill was as crazy for his Pine Tree as the boy was on him. There was a love between them, twisted and stained, a little unnatural, but it was dependant and ran deep that they swore they could bleed the other's blood.

Ford didn't like it and tried his best, at every turn, to separate them but had always failed. Somehow, and bless the kid for it, Dipper always found his way back to Bill's warm arms. Some times he'd be covered in blood or scratched up and bruised, but he always came back.

Now, the kid was gone again and Bill was reduced to a blubbering mess on the floor of his Bentley, staring up at the roof like the world was going to collapse in around him. It wouldn't last though, he had to remind himself again as the longing set into his bone marrow. Their little separation was temporary. And when the time was right, Bill would rip the very fabric of the world apart, burn it to the ground and kill everyone, and everything, in his path to get to him back. The laugh that came out of his throat was raw and dry, cracking into something warped and broken like a scratched record.

Bill was going to have to hold off on daydreaming about spending a night with his delightful doll later. He had a meeting to prepare for and he needed his mind clear of such distractions.

“Are you expecting the good detective tonight, boss?”

Bill blinked his single eye, straining to look down his nose toward the man in the front seat. He grunted low in his throat and let out a breath. “I wouldn't be surprised if someone I've contacted had already slithered off to warn him. Ford does like to pretend he's so clever and show up right when he's least expected.”

“This could be a trap...”

The thought had already crossed his mind. Bill only made another sound of acknowledgement in response.

True, Gideon could be setting up a trap for them all. Maybe even thinking he could gun Bill down the second he stepped into the casino. Bill could be going to a useless meeting while his men scrambled over an empty vault. Unfortunately, Bill's options were limited and Gideon fucking knew it. One wrong move though and Bill would see to it that the whole casino went up in smoke and them along with it. However, that was a contingency plan that he didn't want to have to execute. Still, a last resort was always good to plan ahead.

“Everything could be a trap,” Bill mused more to himself than his associate. “Which is why I don't think Gideon is going to take our meeting seriously. He'll try and weasel his way into more money while not providing us with his end of the deal.”

“So, we stall...”

“We stall, for as long as we need to.”

“It's been a week, sir... Do ya think that maybe-”

“Do not finish that thought,” Bill hissed, lifting his head. He glared at the back of the man's head like he could burn a hole straight through his skull. “If you know what's good for you, you won't finish that thought.”

“Yes, sir.”

Bill huffed on his tense breath. He stretched out over the backseat of the car, arms hooking over the backrest as he watched the city roll by outside. In the dark, all the neon signs glowed with bright hypnotizing colours, streaking the city in blues and yellows that flickered and blurred in the window's reflection. Bars, lounges, closed down warehouses that now stood as a symbol of the crumbling lawful economy. This city wasn't built for such straight businesses. It was seedy and decrepit. To survive there meant to claw and tear at the asphalt just to make a living.

Although Bill didn't just survive here, he thrived. His business flourished. What he didn't already own, he was taking by force. The police, a gang or two, whoever got in his way was eventually beat down and out of the running. This city belonged to him. It just didn't want to admit it yet.

 

The stop at their warehouse was brief. One of many safe houses about town to stow away equipment and spare parts. Their cars were traded in for nondescript vans, then packed to the teeth with weapons and explosives that would prove more dangerous to the drivers than the target. Bill over saw the arrangements and kept them on time. His keen eye focusing in on every last detail before he sent each van off. Before they went, his threatening gaze chased after each face that piled in, promising a long drawn out death to anyone who came back a failure.

His own car didn't get switched for a less noticeable model, but a second alternative would be arranged for later. The sleek Bentley with its polished grills was pure Cipher trademark class. Bill liked his flashy, expensive lifestyle and wouldn't be seen stepping out of anything less than luxurious, even if it was just a business meeting. He had an imported Roadster that would look perfect for rolling up to a casino, but a top down wasn't ideal for a getaway car. And never in the rain. A pity because he had been looking for an excuse to take it for a spin.

When they were ready to go Bill slunk into the backseat of his Bentley, crossing his long legs to make himself comfortable as he lounged back against the fine leather. He adjusted his hat over his forehead, tilting the brim low to one side. He ordered for them to head out, satisfied that by now they would have left Gideon waiting long enough.

The short drive added a few more minutes to this waiting. And as Bill rolled up to the large heavily lit casino, he was hopeful the little rat bastard was twitching with annoyance for being left hanging. He made no hurry as he took in the place, its glitz and glamour, the expense, and the rigged gaming tables that paid for it all. It was an unsightly sterile white wash from the walls to the marble floors. Not quite to Bill's taste. He personally had an affinity for the gold.

As he walked into the building, followed closely by the solid mass that was his bodyguard, people moved out of his way. Faces turned to notice him, recognizing him. Others immediately tried to duck out of the room for their own safety. A wise move because Bill wasn't there to play games or gamble an excess of money away. He strolled through the main floor with purpose, head high, hands lazily resting in his coat pockets. His posture was relaxed back but no less threatening for the people who literally threw themselves out from under his step.

Two large security guards moved forward before he made it near the elevators. They had been expecting him, coming across as polite as they could manage with their hands folded in front, nodding as they met each other. Bill looked them over, unsurprising by their height and overall muscle mass. A classic move of overcompensating for the tiny man-child they were hired to look after. It was almost funny.

Bill huffed a small chuckle and gave the two a wide grin. Despite his own smaller build, he could see the way the two flinched back in fear. One the outside, Bill was neatly pressed in the finest suits and expensive accessories. He was accommodating and polite. Tall, yet possessed a slim build. However, everyone who knew his name knew how he could flip on a dime and rip a man to pieces with his bare hands. His calm gentleman like exterior being broken down to a chaotic wild animal with a thirst for blood.

The two guards showed Bill up to Gideon's office without a word on their ends. Though the elevator ride was taken with a shared tension. Bill continued too smile broadly and chuckle at the people below them as he watched through the elevator's glass window to the casino's game floor.

Gideon's office was on the top floor, tucked away at the end of a long hall. The plush rugs lined the space with a cold white glow. Bill ground the heel of his wet dress shoe into the rug, hoping to leave a mud stain.

The two guards stopped at the doors at the end, knocking before they were told to come in. They went in first, moving to announce that their boss's guest had arrived. But Bill followed them in quickly, not waiting on a fake invitation. He marched straight through to the large oak desk that sat back against a clear glass skyline view of the city's nightlife. Bill regarded the man sitting behind the desk with a hard stare and was pleased to see the small twitch of a blonde eyebrow, a thin shine of sweat accentuating its arch.

Gideon Gleeful, young for a rival mob leader, had taken over a small fraction of his father's business as recent as a few years back. Perhaps it was his daddy's way of passing the buck and trying to show him responsibility, or as a way to shut him up and let the kid pretend he could play with the adults. Either way, Bill disliked the man for a number of reasons ranging from his entitlement to his verbal harassment, to his general fashion choices. In the past Bill allowed it to happen because Gideon's murder would have resulted in an all out war between the two family organizations who have been, until now, moderately tolerant of each other. However, whether or not Big Daddy Gleeful knew of what his son had taken, Bill was going to be paid back with interest.

“Cipher, a pleasure as always,” Gideon said in his overly enthusiastic southern accent. The twang was always such a forced speech pattern that Bill found it hard to understand on the best of days. Right now he just clicked his tongue and scowled over the cheer in his voice.

“Hi'ya, short stack. It's been a while,” Bill said with a honey thick tone of his own. He smiled and enjoyed the look of insulted hatred that crossed the chubby face in front of him. Making fun of Gideon's height wasn't entirely original or particularly clever, but it was a sore spot that the guy took personal offence over daily. Even with heeled dress shoes Gideon was short and Bill towered over him by almost a foot.

“Please, take a seat,” Gideon said through clenched teeth, forcing himself to remain calm and civil. As Bill took one of the chairs across from him he gestured to a near by tray of assorted bottles, fancy liqueurs with foreign names. “May I offer you a drink before we talk business?”

“No,” Bill held up a hand. He wouldn't touch anything served to him by this brat. If it wasn't positioned, it would probably be cheep quality swill. “I'd rather we get this over and done with. If that's alright by you.”

“Of course. Of course. My apologies.”

The two could have fell into a pensive staring contest if it wasn't for Bill's already wound up anger and hatred. He sat back in the low back chair and let his fingers rest along the curve of the arms. His thumb started to hammer away at the tight leather.

“What I'd like to know, Gleeful, is why you thought it'd be wise to steal from me,” he started slowly. The chipper tone in his voice dropped away to a dangerously low, husky pitch that was anything but friendly. Bill shook his head teasingly though, maintaining his threatening smile. “Are you that desperate for money, or did you just want attention from, Daddy?”

“This was nothing to do with, Dadd- ...My father.”

“Oh! Oh no... Well, this is going to be extremely interesting then when he finds out.” Bill chuckled and rubbed a hand over his chin. He removed his hat and brushed back an imaginary strand of loose hair, smoothing back the perfectly waxed blonde style.

“Hardly 'interestingly'. I think he'll see it as an even retaliation, seeing as how you stole a shipment of cars last month as some fucked gift to your house pet!” Gideon chided in with a clipped irritation, his face squinting as his voice got louder out of his control.

Bill took offence to his comment but tucked it secretly away for use later. His expression remained motionless and entertained by Gideon's own temper. The kid had a point, he supposed. Bill did steal a good dozen of nice imports that the Gleeful's were illegally smuggling in for resale. They had been so lovely that Bill honestly couldn't help himself. Bill pressed his lips together before showing off his white teeth.

“Well, lucky for me in the end,” Bill joked. “My kitten isn't the most enthusiastic about cars as your father and I.”

“You pinched him out of a good payday, Cipher. Did you think we wouldn't come for some form of compensation?”

Bill shrugged and started to pick at the seam of the arm rest, growing bore already by Gideon's voice. Curious still he asked, “and how much are you thinking to get out of this?”

“You and I both know those damn cars are worth peanut in comparison to your little bird.”

“A price, Gleeful,” Bill interrupted instantly. His eye hardened into a fixed stare. This rat had no right to breathe.

“At least double.”

Bill laughed, long and loud, enough that it had him throwing his head back. “Oh, you're a gas!”

“I'm damn serious!” Gideon yelled. His face started to glow an impressive shade of red that rivalled the neon signs of the city's skyline. It was so hot and puffy that he looked short of breath. Bill snickered and tossed a look around the room at his own associate as well as Gideon's two guards. They didn't react to the scene in front of them what so ever.

“Double, he says! That's a lot of lettuce to fork over.” Bill slapped the arm rest in his own amusement. “You must think I'm some sort of sucker, Gleeful. What would make you think I'd pay double? I mean, it's just us here. You hiding something from me, kid? Cuz if you think you can sell me damaged property-”

Bill was tired of this meeting, temper raising by the topic bouncing back and forth between them. He never expected Gideon to be forthcoming with him and called him out on it. Gideon though, rudely interrupted him.

“Now, now. I would never be so dishonourable as to cheat you, Mr. Cipher. I swear.” Gideon placed a hand over his heart. The little promise was as believable as a two headed horse. Still confident that he had the upper hand, he leaned back in his chair and offered a smile that made Bill's skin crawl from an unspoken implication. “I was nothing but gentle with your property.”

Bill's lip curled. He hated the idea of anyone, let alone this rat, put grubby hands on anything that belong to him. Doesn't matter how 'gentle' or innocent a touch could be, he was particularly possessive of certain things and certain people. Bill's knuckles popped as he clenched his fingers into a tight fist. He tilted his head to the side in a gesture of curiosity and question.

“Have you now?” he asked, hoping that Gideon would keep being so openly chatty. The longer he stalled their meeting, the more time his men had to burrow into the damned vault downstairs. However, Bill's patience had already been drawn thin over the last week and he was about ready to take a less than subtle approach to the situation.

The small show of Bill's anger had Gideon pompously grinning, looking like he'd just won a fortune without even trying.

“It would be cruel of me to do anything but. That precious thing loves attention.” Gideon rolled his eyes and laughed over his own choice of words. “Not my attention, of course not, but my boys do so enjoy the company. When you called to beg, I was honestly considering keeping 'em and telling you to go fuck yourself. After all, it's been a week and we were all starting to think you didn't want 'em back.”

“Where is he?” Bill said outright. It was hard and cold, dripping with a lethal venom that made him think he could spit acid. Behind the desk, Gideon was looking back at him with a spark in his eye that made Bill want to carve it out with a dull knife.

“Don't you worry none. I've got him tucked away. Safe and sound, as it were.” He chuckled passed his tight lipped smile. The joke didn't go unnoticed for Bill, indirectly reassuring him that he'd been on the correct track after all. It helped him relax a fraction.

Bill crossed his legs and rested against one arm. He settled in his tempter to a low simmer, forced it down within him for later. It wasn't time yet, he told himself. He needed to try and be patient. A look of sheer indifference crossed his face, flickering with some level of surprise as he backtracked and pretended to be baffled by Gideon's price point. Bill clicked his tongue and scratched a nail over his jaw, bored and lazy.

“Double, was it?” he asked again. He hummed lightly. “You're expecting double when you've all but admitted to mistreating my property. Har-har, my good fellow. Nice joke. The fact your men touched him at all makes him spoiled goods. A realistic offer now would be... oh, say, a quarter the original price.”

Gideon flushed that same bright red colour. His mouth opening in an uncontrollable flapping, like a fish gasping in the open air. He stumbled over his words but struggled to get out anything.

“A-a quarter...” he blubbered, clearly so far passed insulted by such a reduced price. Bill went on though, waving a hand out to dismiss the shocked reaction. He whistled lightly to himself and recalculated.

“You're right. Sure-sure... It's been a week and real value diminished quite quickly. Possibly by the day even. So, really, he's no better than a spoiled pear by now. A quarter would be too much, wouldn't you say so? No, I think a more reasonable price would be one-eighth, or perhaps free.”

“You unbelievable hustler. You're out of your mind! There is no way I'd just give him back to you. The price is double! Or I can sell him back to you in pieces!”

Something dark bleed into Bill's eye. The bright clear blue turning into a blackened pit of anger. His breathing stopped, evening out his chest until it was completely still. Bill sat not moving, unblinking, staring down Gideon like a vicious animal ready to pounce and feed. The heated pink tint to Gleeful's round cheeks started to drain to a grossly sick off white as proper fear started to sink in. The dawning realization of where he'd crossed the fine line between in control and in danger was now so heavy on him that he started to sink lower in his desk chair.

Bill's fingers flinched, eagerly wishing to grab at the gun tucked away in its holster. He could feel it pressed snugly against his ribs, a comforting, tempting solid weight that Bill could rely on. He'd love to wrap his fingers around the handle, squeeze the trigger and fire a shot straight through Gideon's smug ass face. Bill's lip stretched into a smirk, imagining how lovely the window behind him would look glazed in thick remnants of brain and blood. He made a small move forward, his legs uncrossing to plant firmly on the floor. Bill stared Gideon down ready to tear the man apart then push him from the high level windowsill. Before he could stand though, the door to the office burst open. A single one of Gideon's men rushing into the room with a dishevelled and panicked look on his face.

“What is this?” Gideon slapped his fists down on his desk. “What do you want?”

“Boss, coppers are busting the party up downstairs-”

“What?” Gideon's voice cracked in surprise. His establishment never got raided. Someone must have narked them out to get the cops on their backs. Gideon stood from behind his desk quickly, looking about ready to climb out of his skin he was so sweaty and pale. He tried to smooth his hair back and appear calm but his hands were shaking and his eyes were darting around with a skittish look about them, like he'd been pipped up with some drugs and ready to burst. He swore and pointed to his guards. “Get my car started. We're out of here.”

Bill stood himself. He smoothed down his vest and fluffed the collar of his coat, acting like this was nothing more than a mild inconvenience. “I can see you're busy, Gleeful. I'll be on my way. It's a shame we couldn't come to an arrangement.”

Gideon gave a full body twitch, half pulled in the direction of vacating the premises and trying to understand where Bill got off rejecting his offer. He looked between his own men and Bill who came to stand a little too close to his desk. “You don't want him? Fine. I'll see to it that the cops find his bloody corpse-”

That insufferable accent was cut off by a curdled scream of horrible pain. The only thing louder was the gun shot that took out the glass window behind him. It wasn't a clean shot by any means, but that was more or less the point of where Bill had aimed. The squishy thick layer of fat around Gideon's waist started to ooze a bright red on either side where the bullet had travelled straight through. The white suit coat absorbing the colour like a die, staining the fabric with blood.

Bill doubted the bullet hit anything vitally important but there would be time another night to torture Gideon properly and rip the man limb from limb. As much as he'd love to simply end him there and now, cop's being on the scene made Bill's plan more or less a suicide run. He needed to get a move on now or lose any chance of getting out unscathed. He did stop to watch with enjoyment as Gideon fell crumpled to the floor, screaming in agony. The sight was cathartic in its gory beauty.

Behind him three controlled bursts of gun fire went off. They didn't even have Bill look up as he returned his pistol back to its shoulder holster.

“Sir?” Came the questioning voice of Hector. Bill glanced over at him. The man stood in the wake of the small slaughter, gun out and unphased by the pool of blood growing at his feet. The three of Gideon's men lay dead on the floor and forgotten. Bill sighed and spared Gideon a bored glance. He waved with a slight lift of a finger and headed for the door. Hector held it open for him as they left together.

“We will be seeing you again Gleeful. Be an ace and don't die before hand, alrighty?” Bill left the man screaming for help on the floor of his office. The doors were closed behind them on their way out, muffling the scream down to a quiet background mumble. It was easily drowned out and forgotten after a few steps.

Bill marched down the hall, heading for the staff elevator. There weren't many ways to access the basement and the vault inside. From this floor it was the sole restricted staff elevator or the stairs. A smart move. Reducing the number of entry pointed did lessen the chance of break ins. But it also irritated Bill to no end when he had minutes at the maximum to get downstairs to his own men. This was not exactly his plan, having the cops block off the main exits and forcing him into a tight basement space with minimal escape options.

On top of that, their meeting had been cut short. Bill couldn't be certain that his men had broken through to the vault and cleared out. He was stuck with going down to see for himself. His lack of faith swayed his decision to the elevator. Bill pressed the button for the lift but the light didn't turn. Nothing was moving.

He swore lightly, irritated by yet another new inconvenience. The stairs then, his last option. Bill motioned Hector forward, backing inside as his hand slipping into his vest to grab his gun. The stairwell was still quiet, empty of staff and cops, for now. Bill lean the way with Hector covering his back. Their feet hammered like thunder on the metal stairs, hurrying downwards. As they neared the gaming floors of the casino, the stairwell vibrated with the uproar of terrified guests and the yelling of cops as tables were broken and upturned in a raid. Bill didn't know who called the coppers or to what end, but he honestly didn't care. That was a concern for another day, another Joe to track down and string up for snitching.

Bill started to propel himself faster, aided in the built up momentum and the pull of gravity. He planted a hand on the railing and jumped from the stairs to the landing. His feet landed hard on the concrete slab. A door was kicked open a flight above them. Bill paused, pulling his gun and waiting to shoot if Hector didn't beat him to the shot. He backed towards the wall, leaning to look up the stairs and watched the approaching feet.

The familiar brown loafers and creased trousers came into view as the good detective started down the steps towards them. He too had his gun out and raised, aiming downwards for them as he cautiously stepped off the landing. Bill stiffened, shoulder rolling forward into a hunch. He hated how, at every turn, every time they started to get ahead, this geezer loved to bust his way in to ruin all the fun.

Bill snarled as Ford took another step down to face them. He tilted his head to the side, motioning for Hector to keep going. The man followed orders and continued down to the vault. Ford yelled for him to freeze but it went completely ignored. When it was obvious there was no stopping him, he turned back to Bill who hadn't moved away from the wall. His gun remained raised and trained on Ford as they stood no more than a few feet apart.

Bill gave a sharp whistle just to make sure Ford's attention was full on him.

“Rude,” he said with a teasing snicker. “You don't even say hello? I'm deeply hurt, Fordsie.”

Ford's eye's snapped back to him. He stood tense and firm, ready to shoot if necessary but something was keeping him from doing so. Bill could assume what that reason was and smiled, feeling temporarily untouchable.

The old man had definitely been in better sorts. He looked just as exhausted as Bill felt, worn down and dishevelled. The man's tie was loose and untucked. His hair, which was usually so neatly combed back, was frayed and tangled. It was almost like the good detective had been working none stop, even pulled from his warm bed at home to be here tonight, anything to be standing where he was now. The burning expression of a mad man rimmed his eyes as he took another reckless step close to Bill.

Finally, when Ford spoke it was with a bitter anger that made his voice gravelly and rough. “No funny business, Cipher. What are you doing here?”

“Oh, don't you know?” Bill asked, cocking his head to the side. He gave Ford a teasingly wide smile just so he could enjoy the sneer the coiled the old man's face. It was always such a delight to drive this man crazy, bringing him to the breaking point of his high and might morals and lawful beliefs. It was quite ridiculous the way he'd parade around acting so above it all and important. Bill found him terribly stuffed and irritating. “By the way, how's the hand, Sixer – or should I say, Fiver? Gotten use to that grip yet?”

“Shut up,” Ford snapped. “I don't want to hear a word out of your mouth unless it's about what you got going on here.”

Bill shrugged, staying quiet for a long breath. Then, with a little wave of his gun to gesture to the general building. “Business,” he replied vaguely.

“Cut the crap! You don't do business with Gideon Gleeful. What's changed so suddenly? What do you have on him?”

Bill was flattered over the implication. Even with no clue of what was happening, Ford believed Bill was the grand puppet master pulling on everyone's string. Bill puffed up his chest, his ego stroked by the recognition of his work. Bill knew Ford was smart. He'd proven it many times before, but the guy never seemed to be on par with Bill, always missing that last puzzle piece.

He would hate to correct the man, so he didn't. Bill retracted his gun, making a show of putting his hands up. Slowly he slipped the pistol back into his vest for now. The detective took another step forward, more confident now that Bill's weapon was stowed and he was, in theory, unarmed, like this somehow made him less of a threat.

“We had a difference of opinion regarding cars, and who they may or may not belong to. However, his price negotiation needed work. Too rich for my blood. I'm afraid his daddy didn't teach him much about salesmanship.”

Bill could hear the scuffle above them, the ruckus of police and the blindly loyal staff of the Gleeful's. So, he wasn't surprised when a body fell in between the stairwell's boxed railing. The only warning was the terrified scream before the uniform went sailing passed them. Ford jumped to the railing in time to watch the body fall. It's heavy weight hit and bounced of a railing with a solid crack of bone. The metal railing vibrating under the impact of what was once a spine. Floors below them on the ground level, the body landed with a broken thump.

Bill took Ford's temporary distraction to dive down the stairs for the basement, running fast than he had been before, cutting each corner by jumping the railing for the next flight. His name was screamed and a gunshot rang out. The sound of the bullet embedding itself in the wall was the last thing Bill could bother paying attention to.

There was the mixture of gunfire behind him and destruction up ahead. Bill came to a stop in the basement hot on the scene of where his men had burrowed through the wall. The guards posted to the vault lay in a scattered mess of bodies, some were beaten to the point of unrecognizable with caved in faces or severed jaws. Blown apart torsos were the most messy, left in pieces from pointblank machine gun fire. Intestines were leaking out from open wounds, hanging loose or floating in the thick puddle of blood.

His men were too busy to notice his inclusion to the robbery. They were busy using crowbars and hammers to bust open safety deposit boxes and locked cabinets. Bill stepped over the mess, careful of his Italian leather shoes. The main vault door had been blown off its hinges and took up most of the narrow hallway as it lay on a tilt and propped against the wall. Men were ducking under it as they moved from inside the vault for their escape hatch, arms full of whatever they could carry.

Bill grabbed a few by their collars. He barked an order for them to hold off the cops coming down the stairs. He shouted for Py to come help now that there was no need for her by Key's side.

Instead, Bill took her place within the vault, watching over his safe-cracker's shoulder as the man fiddled with the heavy mechanical lock. It was taking too long. He impatiently started to tap his foot.

“You've got seconds to get this piece of metal open. Do you understand me?”

Key grunted and nodded as he worked, really only half listening to Bill's threats, too focused on the mechanism he had fiddled apart.

“I mean it. I will leave you for the cops,” Bill grumbled.

It only took a few more seconds. The lock gave way and Key was able to easily slide the vault's door open. The heavy metal pulling from its set frame with a grind on heavy hinges. Bill didn't wait for it to be pulled open completely before he was shoving himself into the gap. Normally Bill would be thrilled to see the number of drawers and cabinets which lined the vault's walls, knowing how they would all be brimming with illegally laundered money and jewels. But his eye didn't even notice them. His attention was drawn to the lump of a body sitting propped into a corner.

Bill had to bite back a raging burst of energy when he saw him. The worn, defeated posture. Arms strapped down to his sides with tightly loops belts. The clear sign of manhandling and violence. No one treated his doll in such a way. If Gideon didn't end up on a one way trip to a prison yard, Bill would see his head roll.

Bill looked over his Pine Tree, checking for any visible injuries that would require immediate attention. Dipper was wearing the same outfit he'd been gussied up in the night he'd gone missing, minus the nice new coat. Now he's been stripped down to his white button down which was stained with sweat, old brown blood stains dotting along the collar. His suspenders were snapped and hanging off him. And his feet were absent of their shoes, now dirty from being forced to walk bare foot.

Thankfully, while tired, the poor thing didn't seem too broken. The only noticeable problem was the dried flaking bits of blood that trailed from Dipper's nose to his chin. The skin a light shade of purple from where he'd been hit once or twice. The kid looked up as the door opened fully and heavy footsteps came rushing forward.

Those wide brown eyes travelled upward and seemed to came back to life as he saw who'd stopped in front of him. The smile the lit up the kid's face made Bill's cold demented heart overflow with the much needed warmth he'd been lacking these last few days.

“Bill!”

Even his voice was a blessing to Bill's ears, though it was dry and sore. The tension and anxiety he'd been under left him in one fell swoop and the relief almost had him falling to his knees, weak and pathetic. But there was time for such weakness later. The last thing Bill wanted was for Ford to shoulder his way in here and find his nephew. Not after everything else tonight, Bill wouldn't be able to stand it. He wasn't about to risk loosing Dipper again so easily. Bill lifted his foot and pulled a knife from under his pant leg. He crouched down to cut at the bent holding his arms down.

“Hey, my little Pine Tree. Good to see you,” he said with a playful tone to his voice, hiding the complete wreck he'd been. Bill got the kid free and gently eased him onto his feet. Dipper stumbled forward unable to hold himself. He almost face planting into Bill's chest. Bill moved to wrap his arms around the boy. “Oh, baby doll~ My Gumdrop~”

A hand shoved against his chest hard, knocking Bill back on his heels. In a blink, Dipper had slipped his hand under Bill's heavy overcoat and vest to fish out his pistol. The gun shot went off, loudly ricocheting off the metal walls in such a small space. The echo rang in their ears like a persistent telephone. The bullet fired left a broken crack in the wall, inches away from Key's head. The man flinched and started moving for the door like his life depended on it.

Bill turned to see where the shot struck and the back of Key's head as he ran from the vault. He stood for a brief second. Dipper had come pretty close to actually hitting his target. Unfortunately, as impressed as Bill was, the kid's aim still likes to pull to the left a little too far. He chuckled a little turning back with a wide smile in hoped that his Pine Tree wouldn't be so angry.

“I know you're mad, sweet pea-”

“It's been a week!” Dipper yelled, not carrying how it stressed his throat and stung with the raw burning of overuse. But he wouldn't control the volume of his voice and he puffed up in anger. He held the gun out again, this time pointed at Bill's chest in warning. “A whole week, Bill. You kept me waiting a week with that rat-faced sleaze bag!”

Bill deflated, raising his hands in surrender. He bowed his head, emotionally scared by Dipper's anger. He'd been hoping for a happier reunion than this.

Few people had ever held a gun to Bill's chest. It wasn't something he ever wanted to form a habit of. However, with his Pine Tree, Bill allowed him such liberties. It was a show of trust between them that no one else was ever given. And this was the closest Bill came to being subservient to anyone, even his lover. There were things Bill didn't tolerate and bless the kid for being a quick learner. Dipper knew how far he could push Bill before enough was enough. Still, Bill hated putting Dipper in his place. He sighed a little too hard and gave the kid a look saying that this play time was over. Childish temper-tantrums would have to wait.

“I didn't mean for it to be so long. Cross my heart,” Bill cooed in a sweet tone. He eyed the gun for a second before holding a hand out, curling his fingers up in a silent request for it to be handed back to him. Dipper gave it up, dropping the pistol into his palm. “Good boy. Now, can you forgive me for all this? I swear it will never happen again.”

“We'll see. I haven't decided yet...” Dipper leaned forward and let himself be caught up in Bill's arms. He clung tightly to the the front of Bill's coat, holding onto the labels for dear life.

Abruptly Dipper was dipped back and caught up in a kiss, a long awaited one that was full of hard teeth and the clumsy bump of a nose. The roughness didn't matter to either of them. Not when the pain was so deliciously addictive. The kiss was long overdo anyway and Dipper was pressing further into with all the same greedy desire than Bill was offering him.

Teeth bit down hard and Dipper almost tasted Bill's tongue. Until their reunion was unceremoniously cut short. Bill's name was being yelled in earnest. A clear indicator that they had to leave now. He groaned and pulled away, not happy to be interrupted, but reluctant enough to listen.

“Alright, baby boy, let's go home.”

Bill smoothed his hands down the wrinkles creases of Dipper's shirt. His little tease leaned up on his toes and planted a sneaky kiss on Bill's cheek, short and sweet. He snickered playfully as he bounced away and out of the vault. Even in the midst of danger they found a strange enjoyment of teasing one another, joking like life or death was a new game they invented.

Bill trailed behind at a quick pace, his longer legs overtaking Dipper's easily. Protectively he eased the boy behind him where he could shield him from any real oncoming danger. The narrow hallway was being emptied of his last few men, their rush to leave a priority over whatever was left in the vault.

Bill also didn't care. He could hear the cops flooding the stairwell, trying to make their way down to them. Their small guns were quiet useless though compared to the shower of machine gun rounds being unloaded back at them. As Bill approached his men from behind he could smell the additional deterrent of burning human flesh. One poor sap dead on the stairs, the flames slowly working away at his uniform and skin.

This was their exit. The hole in the wall vacant for them to leave through. Being mindful of Dipper's lack of shoes, Bill slipped an arm around his waist and hoisted him up and over a pile of rock and human debris. He eased the boy through until he climbed out the other side into the dark night. About to join him Bill barked out his orders to fall back and get the cars out of there. Their job was done and it was about time they scattered. Bill dove through the hole.

The alley and building next door gave barely enough room to stand comfortably, but it was doable. The rubble along the lane way had been kicked up and broken by the small explosive force of the break in.

But in the late hour, the small gap between the two buildings were almost impossibly dark, hindered more by the addition of the thick rain drops the were starting to fall heavier, rolling off the roof tops in a funnelled effect over their head as they ran towards their getaway vehicles. Bill's hands skimmed the brick walls on either side of the alley. He kept Dipper in sight ahead of him at all times and trusted the body behind him to shield them from any harm that might come from the back.

Along the service road the awaiting vans were loaded and the back doors were shut tight. Bill didn't stop to inspect them or to make sure everyone was there before pounding a fist on the side to signal them to drive. They all had predetermined final stops, one truck to a different location. There would be time in the morning to make rounds and take stock of each haul. The engines kicked to life, tires squealing as the vans broke out onto the road, jumping the curb as they all took off into the police crowded streets.

Bill's Bentley was more than likely being impounded by the cops as they stood in the alley. It hurt his soul deeply to leave it behind but Bill had known that it would be a possibility from the beginning. It was why he ordered the second car.

Bill shook his hat of the falling rain and adjusted it on his head. Along the curb, blended into the dark street was his second car. The rear door of his Lincoln was being held open by Hector, waving them forward when the coast was clear. He stood as a wall along the side of the road for them to make it between the safety of the building's wall and the car.

“Alright, Pine Tree. You first, sweetheart.” Bill nudged him forward out of the alley.

Even the illusion of danger didn't seem to phase the little thing. The kid seemed to prance off through the rain like some kind of pixie, raised up on his toes as he skipped around rocks, his unwashed curly hair bouncing as he ran. Seeing him safely climb into the back of the car was a sight that calmed Bill's chest in a wonderfully reassuring manner. Soon they'd be back home again where they belonged and this whole mess could be put behind them.

Down the dark alley came the echoing yell of a familiar voice and a ricocheting gun shot that struck brick and mortar. Bill glanced back, unimpressed by the labouring effort he heard behind that yell. It sounded far more upset than angry and there was no fun in upsetting the old man. Bill turned away, blocking any chance Ford had of seeing his nephew by climbing into the car and slamming the door shut.

“Drive,” he said simply. Bill tossed the hat aside, followed shortly by his wet overcoat. The heavy fabric fell to the seat in a soggy lump, a weight off him shoulders. He turned then towards Dipper, no other thought in his mind than reassuring himself of injuries and the kid's safety. The space between then those closed rather abruptly as Dipper all but threw himself into Bill's chest, arms wrapping about his neck in a tight embrace. That slight frame eased itself into the warmth of Bill's side, a perfect fit for it.

“I take it you missed me,” he laughed. Bill smoothed a hand down his back in a gentle touch.

Dipper grumbled under his breath while Bill chuckled with his own amusement. He was still annoyed, not so much angry any more, but the stress of a full week in bad company was still leaving him tightly wound and in no mood for jokes. He curled his legs up onto the seat to gain a little height and meet Bill at eye level. To show that he was still upset, Dipper planted a quick kiss to Bill's lips but nothing more. Nothing quite as long and as passionate as either of them hoped for or wanted. He pulled away before Bill could return the kiss or start another. Along his thigh Bill dropped his hand. His fingers greedily dug into the fleshy curve.

“It took you too long,” Dipper told him. He gave in after that, wanting it all to be over. He leaned forward and started dropping kisses to Bill's jawline, each one growing more fervent and hard. He'd missed his lover terribly over their separation and felt a small amount of guilt for no doubt worrying Bill. Dipper's fingers gripped and pull at the collar of Bill's shirt and tie, wishing he could strip the man down bare right there in the backseat of the car. But he couldn't, reminding himself with a quick glance to the front of the car and the two men sitting there. He almost didn't want to care, encouraged by the way Bill's hand was kneed at his hip. They were both thinking very similar things as they impatiently touched at each other over their clothes.

Bill gave him a proper kiss full of possessive force and control. He bit and sucked the breath from his lungs with every one, holding Dipper down so he could take what he wanted. The attention was always addictive, leaving Dipper with a need for more and more.

“I apologize, Angle Face,” Bill whispered affectionately between biting on Dipper's lip and leaving wet kisses on his skin. The skin under his attentive abuse was turning a lovely shade of pink. “Promise I'll make it up to ya. How's about I take you out on the town tomorrow night? Would'ya like that?”

The offer was given a light hum in response, followed by the sweetest smile Bill could ask for. He was about to give the boy another kiss when the car jerked into the next lane, knocking them into one another by force as the car rocked to the side. Bill snarled like a dog, catching Dipper before he ended up falling off the seat entirely. He held tight, cradling his body closer to his chest. Bill reached out and put a hand on the back of the front seat to steady himself. He gave the two men a hard look through the rear view mirror.

“Would you keep the car even? I'm wooing my main squeeze back here!” Bill shouted, annoyed by the rough driving, be it due to accident or on purpose. Their rides were generally a lot smoother, even while speeding away from a crimes scene. The romantic moment though was being broken up by unexpected turns.

His driver said something but Bill wasn't paying attention to him. He saw the reason for himself coming up on the right side of their car. His frown turned to an insanely wide grin and he turned to press into the window. Coming up along side them now was Gideon's tacky white limousine with its gold assents and fancy hood ornament. It was quite the serendipitous appearance that Bill needed. A part of him hoped the little rat was bleeding out all over the interior of his expensive car. He rolled the window down between them and leaned out into the night air.

“Keep speed for a minute fellas.” Bill ordered, ignoring the way the rain and wind hit his face and blew his hair into a wild mess. He smiled through the cold. His hand stretched out behind him. “Precious, give Daddy his big gun.”

Dipper obediently leaned forward to grab the bulky sub-machine gun strapped under the backseat. There was no hesitation or question about it. Or guilt as Dipper handed over the large weapon. He was so completely desensitized to Bill's violent and blood lust. The crazy look it gave the man, the wild unhinged flush on his face and manic joy it gave him. Dipper even smiled as he watched Bill happily unload a strip of bullets into the limo beside them.

The limousine swerved on the asphalt, tired running up the rubber, before ran itself off the road. It jumped the curb with a jolt before it finally came to an stop thanks to an immovable iron lamp post. Bill's voice carried on the wind and he laughed hysterically, head thrown back as the car crashed. It didn't even matter if anyone died to him. It had just been a good old entertaining time. A perfect cap to the night.

Bill slipped back into his seat and dropped the gun on the floor. The rush that gave him was therapeutic in its relief of stress and tension. He pushed his wet hair back, slicking it down to his scalp. With a content sign he smiled over to his Pine Tree and found his sweet turtle dove looking back at him with the same bright grin, eyes shining with love and adoration. He reached out and lightly tapped a fingertip against Dipper's bruised nose, amused when it wrinkled up from the twinge of pain. Bill slapped his knee.

“Almost forgot!” Bill leaned over and looped an arm around Dipper's shoulders. “You're uncle says hello.”

Dipper leaned into the his side, head resting back on the shelf Bill's shoulder was forming for him. He closed his eyes and was content to enjoy the right home this way. “Oh, really? That's nice of him.”