Corpse’s latest kill was clean, even by his standards. Still, he hadn’t expected the capos themselves, Toast and Lily to hear about it, much less show up. He hadn’t seen them in years… not since Polus, and here they were; offering him a job.
Corpse preferred working alone, he’s not much of a teamplayer and they know it. He’s also one of the best in the game, and anyone would be an idiot to miss how slowly, insidiously Comfy Cartel was extending control and influence over the city. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship for them both. When Corpse had left Lily and Toast on that ship, he didn’t think they’d make it out alive.
“The pay better be worth it.” He rasped. Lily beamed, and Toast tipped his stupid fucking fedora.
“I’m sure you’ll find it acceptable.”
If Comfy Cartel’s hideout was in a quaint, inconspicuous flower shop, the entrance to Bo’s Casino was ostentatious, almost pretentious with its marble floors and red interior.
Corpse should’ve figured this was also under Comfy Cartel, considering it was the place the city’s up-and-coming nouveau riche and old money alike came to gamble their diamonds. All perfectly legal, Lily had assured him. After all, his official position wasn’t ‘hire for kill’ hitman but as Bo's Casino’s newest bartender, for tax purposes. Though considering he just saw the Chief Of Police at the blackjack table, he’s not sure just how much tax this place paid.
“Corpse! You’re here!” His handler waved at him, ever so cheery. Corpse was glad he’s not directly under Toast, since there’s years of bad blood there, but his handler and Toast’s direct subordinate Sykkuno was an interesting case. He knew appearances could be deceiving but Corpse’s first impression of the man was that he was far too pretty to have faced true violence. The man looked like he walked out of a magazine with his lean, lithe form and those silk gloves, as opposed to the third in line to Comfy Cartel. And while arguably, mafiosos tend to lean more on the nepotism side, Corpse needed his handler to be actually effective, and not someone’s bumbling nephew.
But something in his instincts told him he couldn’t write the man off just yet. Since their short introduction with Toast, Sykkuno had been adamant to not use titles or designations between them, asking to be called by his name. Corpse preferred the boundaries of his duties to be clearly defined, this is why he didn’t play well with others and the guy he’s under wants to play friends.
Corpse nodded at Sykkuno, acknowledging his presence.
“I’m glad you made it! Sorry I called you on your day off, technically, ha,” Sykkuno paused, looking at him like they’re sharing an inside joke before continuing, “I wanted to introduce you to everyone!”
Yes, technically, Corpse does have a ‘work shift’ tomorrow, mixing drinks for the one percent to gamble away, but mostly it’s a cover and an alibi when he’s out doing his real job at the behest of the capos. Though, Corpse can make a mean fireball whiskey.
Corpse stiffened, he’s not sure why he was called but he hoped it wasn’t for socializing. The sort of people inhabiting here were the type to face the barrel of his gun, not his company.
Sykkuno turned around, and an attendant in a vest wearing the emblematic reds and gold of the L’tto Casino crest showed up, holding a platter of drinks. “Would you like strawberry juice?” God, her Australian accent was distinctly chirpy, almost unreal.
“Ash! Do you know where Lud is? I wanted to introduce him to Corpse here…” Sykkuno addressed the attendant, Ash, taking a flute of… strawberry juice? God, rich people are weird.
“He’s out scamming p-- making business deals,” Ash corrected herself and Sykkuno snickered. Ash turned to look at Corpse, and she came about to half his chest in height, and Corpse is used to people being intimidated by his physical stature, towering over others, the mask, all those teeth at least. Ash looked at him straight in the eye. “You’re the new guy? Nice to meet you!”
He wasn’t sure how to respond to that, just how much of his role was everyone privy to here. “Uhh.. likewise.”
“Oh, Dream, you’re here!” Sykkuno’s voice rang out, and now Dream, this was someone who Corpse knew. His reputation in certain spheres was unmatched, and he was very good at what he did. He wasn’t aware Dream was affiliated with Comfy Cartel, but it seemed he knew Sykkuno, in the far corner in his lime hoodie and nondescript smiley face mask, talking to a boy who did not seem old enough to be at a casino.
It seemed Corpse had underestimated Comfy Cartel’s reach, as he watched Sykkuno go up to Dream and do his giggle where he infuriatingly covered his mouth with his gloved hand which only brought more attention to it.
“Don’t be late for your first shift. First impressions are very important.” Ash piqued by his side. Did--did she think he was actually going to be a full time staff member?
“Yes ma’am.” Corpse responded, because he knows public service jobs are on the same level as hitmen, except Corpse gets to kill the annoying clients. Ash nodded in affirmation.
Sykkuno returned, excited, with an obvious bulge in his jacket pocket. “Do you gamble, Corpse? Blackjack, some Roulette, maybe?”
“Uhh…” He was unsure how to respond to that.
“Come over here with me.” Sykkuno directed, not necessarily touching him -- not that he could, with those gloves anyway -- but guiding him to a booth away from the Roulette tables and clientele. “I’ve got a great idea.”
They were seated opposite each other, technically secluded, but Corpse could feel multiple eyes on him from different corners of the room. Ash and a different server, someone manning the blackjack tables, Dream from the way over, and others putting Corpse on alert. Sykkuno took out what was in his pocket; a gun.
A classic 0.357 Magnum Model 19 revolver.
Corpse steeled himself, giving away nothing.
“So,” Sykkuno began, putting the revolver on the table between them, “I heard you usually work as a lone wolf, and we really appreciate you joining our family. We’re gonna be working on a lot of assignments together, so we need to be able to trust each other, y’know? That you’ll be able to follow orders. There’s three bullets in there, six rounds. Have you ever played Russain Roulette, Corpse?”
Did Toast put him up to this? This had to be a test.
“You want me to shoot you.” Corpse said cooly. Sykkuno nodded eagerly, pleased that he was following along. What the fuck?
“Yeah! So we can trust each other better. I’m literally putting my life into your hands. It’s a ½ probability anyways, so it’ll probably be fine.” Sykkuno explained earnestly. He also took out his pocket square and laid it beside the gun delicately, to wipe its prints. Corpse wished he found it more pretentious than he did.
Corpse considered it, this is a test, he can’t back down now and appear weak, with that many people of the Cartel watching. There was a silencer, that’s good, he thought as he loaded it, spun the cylinder and shot it point blank headshot.
A single click.
Empty chamber. “Woah, you actually did that! No hesitation! Great shot, by the way, the downward angle last second was pretty good.” Sykkuno commended him, nonplussed. He had noticed that Corpse had moved a few degrees so that the bullet would’ve hit the sofa behind Sykkuno instead. Corpse narrowed his eyes, he hadn’t expected him to notice.
“Okay, my turn now,” Sykkuno said when Corpse wiped his prints. Logically, Corpse considered, if Comfy Cartel wanted him dead there’s a lot less public ways to do it than implicate one of their own in a busy casino full of eyewitnesses. Corpse is known for keeping calm even when a job goes wrong, being able to rationalise at lightning speed and adapt. But Sykkuno is… he’d been smiling the whole time, lighthearted. It was so hard to get a read on him, when he sounded both completely sincere and imposterlike at the same time. It was jarring.
He twirled the gun in his gloved hand, sliding his finger in the trigger. “I’m not as good with guns like you, but I’ll try.” He laughed nervously but somehow Corpse doubted, considering how natural it looked in Sykkuno’s grip.
“Look at me please.” Sykkuno asked gently, and it was as striking as an order. Corpse looked at Sykkuno, letting go of the soft music, mindless chatter, dimmed lights, prying eyes and seeing just him. The nature of Corpse’s job made him face his mortality a lot, but he really, actually might die here, at the hands of this man with kind words and a sort of mad gleam in his eyes. He’s considered how he’d die a lot, but he never thought it would be willingly presenting himself to someone else’s end of a gun. Whatever test this is, somehow he’s lost already.
Spin. Loaded. Aimed at his chest.
Survival instincts of an animal trapped, Corpse felt the adrenaline rising even as his face remained impassive, and the mask helped with that. This was the last thing he was ever going to see. Sykkuno was right, this is intimate.
Nothing happens. For a split moment, he and Sykkuno were just staring at each other. Sykkuno hadn’t tried to maneuver the gun at the last second like he did, Corpse would realize later as he replayed this moment in his head. Then Sykkuno grinned, and the moment broke, the music, people yelling in jubilation and devastation in the casino, the smooth movement of people who were previously watching them suddenly blending with the crowd.
“Did you think I’d actually kill you? That’s crazy. I wouldn’t do that. Don’t worry, it was my friend Dream’s gun. He’s very lucky.” Sykkuno laughed once again covering his mouth, leaning against the sofa, like they shared an inside joke. Corpse let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“I feel like we’re gonna be really good friends, I can tell.” Sykkuno beamed like they both hadn’t just shot at each other. He shuffled out something else from his jacket, putting the bag down, as he got out of the booth. “Sorry for calling you all the way out here on your free day. Have fun at the tables! People say don’t bet against the house, but I’ll let you in on a secret; you’re a part of the house now! So you can’t lose. Hey there! Leslie, Edison, wanna try your luck?” And with that, Sykkuno is off towards a different table.
Corpse stared at the bag Sykkuno left him so casually, the diamonds practically spilling out, reflecting the clandestine lights of the casino, probably worth millions.
Corpse had never stood a chance.