i am a sinner (who's probably gonna sin again) - quietgalaxies (2022)

Corvo hates alcohol. He’s an angry drunk, with a mean tendency to get into fights and it’s not even quite alright if you’re entirely harmless and with dough enough to smooth any eventual damages the day after. He fits neither category. But the extended Kaldwin family has insisted on taking Emily for the weekend, so he thought that he might try the concert scene, like he would’ve done ten years ago. Things hadn’t changed much, either. The music is loud and a band playing about as well as anyone can with ten beers in the bloodstream.

The venue, which had previously been big on the techno from northern Gristol, is now playing bands clearly influenced by the swaying rhythms of Serkonos, even coupled with mumbling song. It never fails to amaze him how fast culture shifts into new gears; not that he’s complaining. Jessamine was always the bigger fan of the wuntz-wuntz found in techno. Don’t think of Jess, he swears to himself, getting caught in old habits. Instead, he focuses on the man right in front of him, who is currently the one buying him drinks. The guy (who introduced himself as Leonard, bald head glinting in the sharp club lights,) is wearing vintage clothes and a clean beard, making it obvious that the clothes aren’t new but still expensive. Like antique furniture at an old manor. Corvo actually feels a little underdressed, with slacks that shrunk in the wash and an old band shirt that just barely fits over his shoulders. But Leonard seems to be enjoying the view, and dancing with a total stranger to loud bass is a pleasure that he has missed.

Until he gets a sharp elbow in the lower part of his back, and whips around to break the wrist of whoever frat boy that decided to fuck with some queers. Except, his hand is big enough to go all the way round a bicep, and it’s a small woman with a scared eyes, who is desperately trying to tug her way out of Corvo’s vice grip. He lets her go as if she’s on fire, and she lets out a small whimper as she gets her breath back. “Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’m just trying to get the fuck out, there’s a fucking creep who just tried to roofie me,” she looks behind her, while rubbing her arm.

“And I’m pretty sure he’s gonna follow me out,” she adds, still trying to get past him to the exit.

He takes a deep breath. “Excuse me, could you point me in his direction?”
She blinks at him, surprise overriding fear. “Uh, yeah, I guess? His name’s Brisby, short and with a bucket hat and a golden shirt. You can’t miss him,” she can’t conceal her sneer, even scared out of her mind. A blink later and she actually sees who it is she bumped into in her hurry to get out from the concert. Scarred, muscled and looking positively murderous, she takes a second before speaking again.

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“You’re gonna fuck him up?”

“Yeah. ‘S that a problem with you?”

She grins, and Corvo can’t help but grin with her. She’s got a radiant smile, and even does a little curtsey to him. “It would be an honour, and the name’s Lydia. Seek me out another time.”

He nods, and lets her go on her way after she points him in the right direction. After doing the international sign for gotta-go at Leonard, which earns him a blown kiss, he turns around to find Grisby. Being 6’4 isn’t always ideal, but on the rave floor, he has an ideal perspective to spot shitstains in bucket hats. A few seconds later, he spots a leopard spotted bucket hat, and can’t help but scoff to himself. No wonder Lydia was unimpressed with his fashion choices. While he’s approaching, he gets a better look at Brisby. A short, red-faced man, maybe five years younger than Corvo. He’s nervously fingering a drink, while taking big gulps of a beer in his other hand. Coming up from behind, Corvo grabs his shoulder, and forcefully turns him around to face him. The harsh movement makes him spill half of his beer on his tasteless shirt, and he lets out half a shriek before he realizes what’s going on.

“Man, what the actual fuck”, he begins, before Corvo starts to speak, which shuts him up.

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“You’ve been slipping shit in people's drinks, Brisby?”

“Wait, what? Do I know you?” He’s starting to look a bit white in the face, looking around for somebody to help him, and various patrons are looking towards the spectacle, although they don’t look eager to join the scrap.

“Tell the truth, dipshit. And don’t even try to pass it off as an accident,” Corvo raises his voice slightly, and stares down the smaller man.

“Okay, okay, I might’ve slipped-” Brisby doesn’t have the chance to end his sentence, because he promptly gets punched in the mouth and knocked out cold. Corvo catches the unconscious man (letting him crack his head open on the concrete floor seems a bit excessive), and more or less gently lowers him to the floor. Satisfied with his work and ready to go find Leonard - who could take him to a home with a warm shower to spend the night, where he would make breakfast with things that were already in the fridge instead of worrying about every single can of beans - he turns towards the dance floor. Interrupting his fantasies, a solid hand grabs his shoulder. He thinks for a second that it’s Brisby, ready for a round two, but when he slips out of the grip and turns around, it’s a grim face looking at him.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

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This must be the bouncer, who’s looking less than thrilled. But if it is the bouncer, he’s the smallest one that Corvo ever saw. Normally, the guys are at least at his height, if not taller, but this guy can’t be over 5’8, if even that. Not that he’s lacking in muscle; a quick glance towards unnecessarily broad shoulders and legs like trunks disproves that thought. However, the thing that cements his thought that the bouncer is trouble is his face. Handsome, with Pandyssian skin and eyes, but also scarred, without a hint of amusement coloring his face. His nose is crooked, broken a few too many times, with high cheekbones. Also - he might be drunk, but he could recognize some Serkonan eyebrows anywhere. If he wasn’t about to get kicked out, this guy would have been going home with him, hot showers be damned.

“I’m serious. Either you get out now, or you’re getting out on a stretcher”, and he grabs his shoulders, and attraction be damned, Corvo’s got instincts. His feet shoot forward, aiming to sweep the bouncer’s legs from under him, but he gets grabbed and pulled down immediately, and they’re both down on the floor now. Grappling is one of his strengths - he’s done enough Karnacan grappling to get more than competent at it, but it quickly becomes obvious that the bouncer must have been a wrestler, ‘cause he isn’t moving an inch. After barely ten seconds, they both scramble to the floor, because while it’s a huge advantage against an untrained fighter who will give up as soon as they hit the floor, real grappling is tedious and extering. Instead, Corvo brings his hands up and prepares to give this handsome man’s face a few more scars.

Five minutes later, the bouncer is on the floor, and he’s not feeling much better himself, as he hears the sirens outside. He wants to swear, but the surroundings are too unsteady for him to understand what the fuck is going on. Did he get roofied, or was that someone else? He knows a handsome man got punched. The last thing he thinks of before falling down is how disappointed Jess would be in him.

-

When Corvo next wakes up, it’s in blind panic. Light is coming through white curtains, and for a second he’s sure that he’s in jail again. But as he blinks himself to wakefulness, he understands that no, he’s stuck in another kind of building. The hospital white feels invasive to his hungover eyes, although the relief of skipping the City Watchs’ jail lightens him up, somewhat. He tries to bring up both his hands to rub his eyes, but one is handcuffed to the bed. Charming. Absolutely charming.

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Corvo now spots his bandaged knuckles, as the reality of his late night exploits return to him; he’s not out of the doghouse yet, by a long shot. Looking around with increasing alarm, he realizes that the only bed close to him is occupied by the man who’s the reason for his visit. Bouncer. As he watches and wonders at the bad administrator in charge of this place, his sick mate turns with a groan. Do they know his name here? Old habits die hard, so he didn’t bring his ID to the club but Corvo does have /Rey servido y patria honrada/ tattooed over his chest, which is not only in Serkonan but also the motto of the Grand Guard. Thus, any half-sharp hospital staff could take up their phone, go to Outsider and know exactly where to find his info.

In a split second, he’s made his decision. There is absolutely no money left to spend on expensive emergency bills in his bank account (he curses himself for not settling down in western Tyvia. Free healthcare and more social security doesn’t sound so bad, even with the godawful weather), and he can’t risk losing custody of Emily. She’s the only thing that matters, really. It's probably Saturday afternoon, based on the light coming through thin hospital curtains. More than enough time to get out, get back to his shitty apartment and try to fix his face before his daughter returns. Game plan established, and he feels calm and ready.

He cracks his neck, and starts using his left hand to bend back his thumb and get out of the handcuffs, thanking the Void for whoever decided to make him double jointed. Standing up on his wobbly legs isn’t the most pleasant thing he’s ever done, but he manages make it across the floor without falling, even though the hospital gowns’ open back makes him more exposed then he’d like. He hasn’t forgotten the punches that the other man threw last night, and to be entirely honest, Corvo’s not sure if he would be victorious in a rematch. He suspects the major reason that he’d been the last one standing was that his opponent wasn’t there to start fights, and had been actively trying to talk him down. Even so, the bouncer was vicious, with a style that he barely recognized as the kind of boxing that’s common in northern Tyvia - weaving to the sides with brutal hooks - but with some resemblances of his own style, the more traditional southern Serkonan kicks and head movement. What kind of man mixes styles from the northern- and southernmost parts of the world, while obviously stemming from Pandyssia?

But he doesn’t have time to wonder which martial arts center the attractive short man goes to, because he can sense the lawsuit sneaking up on him, the more time he spends in the hospital. Opening the third floor window confirms what he already thought; he’s at the Holger Institute, the largest hospital and research center in Dunwall. Which means his shitty apartment is reachable through rooftops, if he uses some creative routes.

“I know a great deal, troublemaker. Jumping out the window isn’t the answer,” Corvo starts violently when his victim starts speaking, although he doesn’t understand why the other man is speaking to him.

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“I’m Daud, and you didn’t hurt me more than anybody else has done before you. Please man, just stay here and talk.”

And suddenly he realizes that the handsome man named Daud thinks he’s about to commit suicide, and is desperately trying to save his life. He almost wants to laugh, because isn’t it the best Void damned irony that he might’ve beaten up the last man in Dunwall who actually gives a shit about other people? Corvo smiles.

“Don’t worry ‘bout me, Daud. Sorry for your nose.” He says, and climbs out the window.

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