✦ Before the Devil Knows You're Dead ✦
John Tyler x Original Fem! Character
WARNING: Those who watch TMYS know John Tyler and the things he's done. I'd suggest not reading if his actions are a trigger for you. Though, this is a part 1, you won't find anything terrible here just yet.
OVERVIEW: When Mary Barlow assigned John with tracking down the woman who allegedly played a major role in the kidnapping of her daughter, Theresa Barlow, it took no genius to realize that keeping tabs on his actions would be virtually impossible. John was beginning to crack and hold himself in overconfidence. That being said, extra precaution was taken- Mary hired a private investigator to work alongside him, Rosario De Lara; a reliable firecracker of a woman, who never backed down from a fight. She'd been recommended to Mary, despite reservations about the investigator being female- but her desperation knew no bounds. Regardless of being held up by unwavering reputation and far reaching connections, how would this PI fare in the wake of a monster, a wolf? And what were her underlying reasons for accepting such an offer?
NOTE: If you're the type who'd rather read this as a y/n, hey, stick yourself in the position of the character- go for it! I just prefer writing with names and descriptions to use haha, so hopefully it's not too much of a reader turn off. I also hope you all enjoy, as I've never written a fanfic before!
Tags: @hamishlinklaters @bbwithaknife @girlwiththenegantattoo @liesandghosts @beauty-proof @trelaney @everythingbeginsineternity-blog
CHAPTER 1: Never Bite the Hand That Feeds You
It was 8:05 AM, an old-fashioned diner scarcely littered with patrons other than the occasional dissonant ringing of a rusted front counter bell. Dust stagnated upon antiquated hanging lights, dated polaroids depicting jovial memories and former license plates lined wooden walls. The smell mingled between freshly roasted black coffee and moth balls- charming. Surrounded by a corner booth, far from earshot of nosy neighbors, sat John Tyler, alone with his equally fabricated charm, neatly brushed hair, and slimming suit. The man had been swept up in a flurry of resentful musing; when Mary spoke over the phone about a partner joining his search, John instantly protested. She may have played it off as some asset gain, but he effortlessly recognized what her guise veiled- Mary had found herself a babysitter, someone to keep tabs on John's actions outside the illustration of an occasional credit card charge. He'd allow no one to interfere, not midway through this little quasi-investigation. However, the man was caught like a deer in headlights at the begrudging revelation that his soon-to-be partner was a woman. Awfully reckless of Mary's better judgment, no? But it seemed as John became more unhinged, her desperation grew. Self-interest clouded morals. So, there he sat, a wolf lying in wait, king of the ashes in his wake, bound to start another fire, devour another heart. It was a matter of time until John's forbearing shell chipped away and revealed the black hole of a man beneath.
8:15 AM. She was late. An older waitress who smelled of thick cigarette smoke, metallic name tag reading "Martha," attempted to take John's order a couple of times, but he only sipped at a cooling black coffee. Finally, snapped from brooding thought, the droplet stained glass door gently swung open. It clicked shut behind a radiant, confidently statured woman who seemed to be in her mid 30s, with piercing blue eyes and wavy raven hair that rested shoulder level. She donned a thin, black long sleeve shirt, tucked into some light blue skinny jeans, tied off with a leather belt. John's predatory ogle swelled, and for his own sake, would have turned that oaken gaze downward to the lukewarm mug cupped between large hands- had their eyes not met. There she was, walking over like someone who'd found what they were looking for, all while extending a fearless hand.
"You must be John. I'm Rosario- call me Rio." Her voice was warming, yet intense like the burn and bite of honey whiskey, peppered with hints of a loose Spanish accent. Stunned momentarily, John cleared his throat and shook her hand. "You're late." He hummed with a tight lipped smile, warding off his own thoughts. Oh, Mary... what a mistake you made, bringing sheep to slaughter. "Am I? You know what they say, good things take time." She smirked, slipping into the booth seat across from him. Martha practically tripped over her own feet at the wanting sight of a new customer, semblance of good service brinking closer to frequenter deprivation. Briefly ordering a black coffee and omelet, Rio glanced back to her newly acquainted counterpart as the waitress scuttled off. He seemed at a loss; John's silence was uncharacteristic. With a sharp inhale, he hesitantly asked the question that seared his brain in confused uncertainty.
"She's told you about me? Mary, I mean."
"Yet you're here."
"Yet I'm here." The raven haired woman chuckled, like someone who knew how ludicrous their own choices were. Mary really did find someone crazy enough to show up.
John Tyler was the monster under the bed, the creature that went bump in the night, the hair raising crawl of following eyes with no one in sight, the churning unease of passing a dimly lit alleyway. He was what every woman feared, bundled into a black mass that walked and talked like a human being. In spite of that, across from him sat the first woman to know his wickedness and greet him with the shake of a hand, a joke, a seat aside the Devil. The man who meditated with walls adorned in obsessive post-it notes admired her courage, even thankful for being regarded as nothing lesser than a living, breathing being. The monster... he wanted to burn away her fearlessness to ash, shatter her spirit, pluck out her soul to pick apart and haphazardly sew back in. How infuriating of a contradiction.
"I'm sure that she's let you in on every little detail of how she feels about me, our work relationship has been unfortunately... rocky, as of late." John's wide eyes held confidently firm, tone similar to that of a man talking about his ornery boss at a desk job, rather than one illegally tracking a supposed kidnapper and killer. "So, that begs the question: why not hire you to follow me instead of this? Certainly Mary has led herself to believe that she's putting you at risk by coming here- she is a worrier, often without cause." Without cause, the irony. "I told her that's the kind of thing that causes cancer." John uttered incidentally with a downward gaze as he shook his head, nudging aside the white cup soiled in idle coffee grounds.
Rio's mouth twitched up with an entertained beam, leaning back in her fissured faux leather seat. "You can't tell me that you would've been hunky-dory if you found me poking around on behalf of Mary Barlow. A loose cannon and a desperate woman walk into a bar... that's a natural disaster waiting to happen. I, for one, would rather diffuse a nuclear bomb before it explodes- call me crazy." She waved a dismissive hand, but John's eyes lit behind a wolfish grin that rose in disbelieving amusement. "Oh, I don't believe you're that charitable, Rio." He asserted with a lighter timbre. "In a working relationship, no, I'm not. But Ms. Barlow does pay well to be in the vicinity of a man with your reputation- Hell, she'd have to." Finally, Rosario's steaming cup of coffee and freshly cooked omelet were laid before her, the waitress sauntering away, following a polite "thank you."
Ah, the thousand dollar question: Did Rio like Mary Barlow? "Like" was a very strong word. The genuine answer? Hell no. This endeavor was foolish and single-minded- if John hadn't been over the edge already, this would send him tumbling. But Rosario had her own reasons, her own need for being here. People often looked danger in the face out of necessity. This was no different.
"My reputation." He repeated through a bitter mumble as Rio gently blew on her coffee, those darkened eyes rising to her plush puckered lips. His amusement had fallen. "Yes, John- your reputation. We won't get along very well if reality avoidance is one of your coping mechanisms." She determined nonchalantly while taking a sip, and his daze broke. No, that didn't go over well. Brief silence filled the air; the pause before an unwavering decision. "Let Mary know that I won't be needing a babysitter, would you? Thanks for the coffee." His smile smoldered with sarcasm and vexation. Wordless, John stuck Rio with the bill as he stood- call it payment for a waste of time. Soon, the man was making a beeline for the diner's exit in irritated strides. All that he'd brought to the table, and she express delivers one big middle finger to John's doorstep; not only a declaration of how little confidence Ms. Barlow held in his ability to get the job done, but her lack of respect for his efforts.
"Come on, you could at least let me finish my food before stomping off like a teenage girl!" Rosario called after him as the door clicked shut. "Son of a bitch." She sighed beneath her breath while rising, taking a few quick mouthfulls of the overly salted omelet and washing it down with black coffee gulps. Rio tossed loose bills and change on the table before quickly trotting after John across the gravel parking lot, who was currently unlocking his vehicle. "You're so professional until someone steps on your toes, John. Between stalking women for months at a time and prison therapy, I'd figure you accomplished a little more patience than that." He immediately swung around as if to silence her before any bystanders could overhear; the weight of John's foreboding leer communicated his threat more than words ever could. "Just how professional would I be if I allowed an outside party to botch my investigation? I've gotten this far without being held by the hand or made to look through the rulebook; you would slow me down." Not once did he blink or falter- a man with sole confidence in himself. Rio raised her hand, signaling a truce. But nothing lifted the heaviness of his stare, like stone piled upon screaming lungs. A short breath pushed past the woman's lips as she gathered scattered thoughts. It was clear that bickering wouldn't get them anywhere.
Casting her gaze to the crunching gravel below, Rosario's expression softened, her tone eased; Mary instructed Rio to make this work, so perhaps appeasement would pave the road to partnership, albeit discontented. "Do you really think it would've been a bright idea for someone who abided by the rules to accept the position I've been put in? You're out of state, that's cause enough for arrest regardless. I get results by the most efficient means possible- it rarely leaves time to flip through every page in the rulebook, and I have access to information, people. I'm here to make this easier." John Tyler was the last person Rosario expected the need to plead her own case- the tables weren't turned, but completely thrown out of the window.
"In any case, Ms. Barlow wanted me to jog your memory; she has you set up with your car and your credit card- you're not in a position to bite the hand that feeds you, John. Keep that in mind." The man who towered above her height loured inwardly, wrestling with his own mentality. Oh, how he wanted to wrap his hand around her neck and- no... no, not here. Civility. This won't end well, he knew it as blatantly as she did; John sensed it in her wary eyes, her cautious arm's length away. What could stop the full force of an avalanche, held back by a single waning layer of snow? What could stop a man who was cracking at the seams, held together by scotch tape and a pipe dream? Wolves will do what is in their nature: hunt.
"We do this my way."
There it is.
"If your way works, I'll oblige. I hear you're heading out tomorrow. Pick me up, here, same time." Rio consented, her composed posture soon finding its way back as she pulled a set of jangling car keys from her pocket. The raven haired woman suddenly perked up like someone who'd remembered an important detail. "Oh, and John? If you go after another woman, I'll put you in prison for the rest of your life. Lay a hand on me, I'll put you in the ground." She smiled faintly, as if a darkness of her own hadn't illuminated those eyes. Lightly tapping his vehicle's hood, Rio made way to her ride. "See you bright and early, partner."
"Said a fly to a spider." John mentally grinned with devilish delight and bared fangs. And so his shell chipped.
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