|Flowers for Mona Lisa
Author: Blood in the Gears PM
I was a killer, and one with a very short temper at that. I could not afford a soft spot, for anyone or anything. I did not, however, see Mona as a soft spot. I saw her as a challenge. She was unpredictable and untouchable, and it was always a mystery as to what she would say or do next. And she paid very well for what she asked, so it all worked out in the end.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Mystery - Words: 1,856 - Published: 08-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3051984
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You make me tired, love, she sighed, and her face was expressionless, just like always, as she smoothed down her dark blue corset and brass-colored skirt.
It would help if I knew what you wanted, I replied, shuffling the deck of cards once and then again. It kept my hands busy so I wouldn't vault over the table and snap her pretty white neck.
She reached over and stilled my fingers with one lace-gloved hand, catching my eye with the shadow of a coy smile. Now, now. Don't be angry with me; that's no fun.
I pulled away from her and shuffled the deck again, listening to the cards scrape against each other. Then quit playing these games and tell me what you want, I growled. Someone dead? Something stolen?
Shh. Not so loud; the absinthe is going to your head, she replied, amused. That's what it does, doesn't it? It turns gentlemen into scoundrels. How dreadfully sad.
Neither of those terms applied to me. There was another word for what I was - "monster". Tell me what you want, Mona.
So impatient, Jack. She arched one eyebrow and tugged on a lock of her perfectly-curled gold hair. When I didn't move – only sat rigidly still, glaring at her – she sighed and steepled her fingers in front of her pouty, rouged mouth. I need you to take care of someone.
Give me an address and a time. Finally, we had gotten down to business.
Behind my manor, this evening. When the time is right... you'll know, she said quietly, the shadow of her smile morphing into something enigmatic and cold. Then, with a swish of her skirt, she rose to her feet and sashayed past me, trailing one too-easily-breakable hand over my shoulder before disappearing out of the dark tavern.
Careful, Jack, Leer warned, grinning from the smoky corner across the room. His steel-silver eyes pierced the gloom and sent pinpricks of ice down my spine. Can't lose our favorite Ripper to a woman like that.
I don't know what you're talking about, I replied, leaning back in my chair and setting my feet on the table as I shuffled the deck of cards again.
Leer snorted. Hear that, lads? He asked the other men – ten or so – that lounged like coiled snakes around the room. Jack thinks he can lie to us.
My feet slammed to the floor and I fired a card at him, slicing his scarred cheek open. Say it a little louder, Leer. You're the one hiding in the corner like a coward, I snarled.
I'm only looking out for you, Jack, Leer taunted with an innocent smile, ignoring the blood that welled up on his skin where the card had cut him. Haven't you noticed how much more you tolerate from Miss Mona than anyone else? If, say, that bonny lass from yesterday had made you wait through so much small talk for an assignment, you would have beheaded her on the spot. That's why you're our favorite. But it's a bit disturbing to watch you go soft on us, yeah?
I knew it was true. I was a killer, and one with a very short temper at that. I could not afford a soft spot, for anyone or anything. I did not, however, see Mona as a soft spot. I saw her as a challenge. She was unpredictable and untouchable, and it was always a mystery as to what she would say or do next. And she paid very well for what she asked, so it all worked out in the end. I'm not going soft. And Mona pays more than the others do. I won't give her any excuses to redact her generosity, I said, clamping down on the fire rising in my spine and reshuffling the fifty-three remaining cards in my deck. Assaulting Leer any further wouldn't change the situation. It would just give him another reason to doubt my clarity of mind when Mona's name was mentioned.
For once in his impossibly long career, the grizzled hit man backed down. He relaxed into the hazy atmosphere, and the others sitting around him followed suit, releasing the hilts of knives and razors and pistols under their coats. Fair enough, he replied with a small, indifferent shrug, flicking the card I'd fired back at me. So you'll take this latest assignment she's asking from you?
I grunted in affirmation as I caught the card – the Joker – and slipped it into the rest of the deck. Of course I will. It's my job.
That's the Jack I know.
I ignored the warning undertone in his voice and rose to my feet, leaving the darkness of the Rippers' tavern behind. I had an evening appointment to keep, and I did not have a reputation to be late.
I arrived at Mona's manor near dusk, just as the sun had begun to sink below the horizon. On assignment, I was accustomed to waiting, so the hours that passed were not spent in frustration, and it was close to midnight when a woman strolled around the corner of the expansive house. I entertained a small guessing game as to who she was. Someone Mona was jealous of, perhaps? An obnoxious family member?
I stepped out of the shadows when she was close enough, facing her. I had done many, many things considered damning, but refused to take another's life if I could not look into their eyes.
The woman glanced up at me, and a small half-smile touched her pale face. Jack, darling.
Mona. Her name left my mouth with a note of surprise – of course this was her manor, and she was entitled to be present, but I had been under the impression that she would've been absent during the course of my assignment. Unless she was the intended target.
I told you that you would know, did I not? She asked calmly, watching the realization dawn on my face. Suicide is such a... messy endeavor. So disappointing and anticlimactic. This is infinitely more dramatic, wouldn't you agree?
My jaw tightened, and I did not stop the growl that rumbled in the back of my throat. I should have expected another one of her games. This is ridiculous, Mona. If you want a show, go to the opera house.
The smile left her face, and energy seemed to drain out of her until she was empty. This is not another game, Jack. I chose you because only you would understand the prison that wealth creates around the human soul. I am so tired of living here – please set me free from this gilded cage.
The sadness in her eyes should not have made me laugh, but it did, once, short and bitter. You think this is the only way?
Isn't it? She shot back, grabbing the hand that was closed around the hilt of my knife and pressing it against her pale, slender throat. The cold metal sang in my veins – it would be so easy.
I twisted my hand in one motion, and it was done.
Two weeks later, I stood at Mona's grave, a single rose in my hand. You always did know how to get what you wanted.
The young woman standing next to me tossed her head, her short, ragged gold hair catching the light of the early morning sun. She still wore corsets, although now they were tough brown leather and criss-crossed with ammunition belts, and the makeup had long since been scrubbed off of her face. Her gloves, men's trousers, steel-toed boots, and long coat concealed the rest of her pale skin, but I knew how to recognize her. It was in the way she walked with her head high, with all the grace of the upper class and all the coiled danger of the Rippers, and the cool detachment in her expressions, and the way she could psychologically torture Leer to the point of insanity – which was immensely satisfying to watch, especially considering the fact that she had taken a liking to sitting in my lap as she teased him. I still do, darling. Technically, Mona is dead.
I glanced down at her, allowing myself a smile. Two weeks ago, instead of slicing Mona's neck, I had cut her hair off at the base of her skull, then dragged her inside and burned all sixteen inches of it in her fireplace. Make something different of yourself, then, I had told her. Burn this past and make your own future. The next morning, she had strode into the tavern, wearing clothes fit for a Ripper.
Mona – or Lisa, as she called herself now – had always known how to get what she wanted. She turned and flashed her teeth in a rare white grin, and led the way out of the graveyard as a breeze blew in from the north, promising a snowstorm that would bury every trace of her past life.
Mona is dead. Lisa lives on.
A/N: Jack the Ripper and Mona Lisa? … What. Just... what. Also, apparently Mona's blonde. Kind of. Dark blonde? AND STEAMPUNK-ISH. BECAUSE I CAN. Don't lecture me too hard if you find any discrepancies, because I wasn't trying too hard to make it relevant to the storyline. That's just how it played out in my head; not really an important element.
This was an old, old idea. I think I started it at the beginning of Senior year, and got a little further than a page, and then just put it down and didn't look at it for a long time. But today I'm in the mood to finish some projects, so I started the playlist I made for this thing and bloody well finished it! I'm so fucking happy right now, you guys, you don't even know. This proves that I can actually complete projects that I start. I know that sounds unimportant, but it shows me I CAN. And "I can" is just one baby step away from "I will".
Oh, and there's probably something I should mention here, in case you're wondering, or being nitpicky – the number of cards in Jack's deck. It's fifty-four, total, because there are two Jokers in our favorite Ripper's deck. He likes injuring Leer with said Jokers. You guys probably already knew that about the cards, but just in case someone gets on my case, there it is.
And here's my Mona Lisa playlist, should you be wondering:
Save Yourself: Stabbing Westward
The Ballad of Mona Lisa: Panic! At the Disco
Coming Undone: Korn
Burn My Shadow: Unkle
Lover to Lover: Florence + the Machine
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up): Florence + the Machine
Heavy in Your Arms: Florence + the Machine
Only if for A Night: Florence + the Machine
Blinding: Florence + the Machine
My Boy Builds Coffins: Florence + the Machine
He's A Pirate: Klaus Badelt
Gypsy: Ronan Hardiman
The Islander: Nightwish
The Bad in Each Other: Feist
Fallen: Sarah McLachlan
Undisclosed Desires: Muse
Any feedback is greatly appreciated!