Content warning: violence.
The muggers had taken almost everything off of Westcott – his phone, all his cash, the one credit card he carried, his rings, his diamond earrings, his coat, even his shoes. They’d left him for dead, or at least for hypothermia, beaten half into unconsciousness in a back alley.
He wouldn’t have fought them over the earring, or even the shoes or the phone. but they’d taken his collar, the collar his Lady had locked around his neck. They’d taken bolt cutters to it, laughing the whole time.
Westcott thought about dying. Then he remembered he had orders against that. He thought about staying in the alley until it wasn’t a choice, and remembered he needed to be home by midnight. He thought about tracking the muggers down and killing them… and had no orders against that, but no way to do it, either.
In the end, Westcott found his feet and began to limp home. His neck felt naked, more bare than his feet did. He felt incomplete; he felt wrong.
The hooker accosted him when he was halfway to the bus stop. “Hey, kid. Spare a light?”
He shouldn’t, but the energy for the Kwxe Working was easy, and he cupped his hands to hide the lack of lighter. “It’s going to get colder. You should be inside.”
“You offering, kiddo?”
“I don’t even have bus fare.” It hit him them. “Shit, I don’t even have bus fare.”
“You look like you got it bad.” She probably wasn’t older than Westcott; she probably wasn’t even older than the face he was wearing. But she looked worn thin already. “Here, buck fifty, right?” She dug change out of the pocket of her miniskirt. “Next time you’re around, remember me, all right?”
His collar was still missing, his neck was still bare. But Westcott managed a smile. “I can do that. Thanks.” There would be another collar. And, if he was lucky, his Lady would help him find the fiends who had taken it. “Thanks a lot.”
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