Me, again, The Grave Robber. I found this one by the Mother Panic plot. It looks like one of Violet’s adventures that had been lost until now. Things are always found when the dirt is moved. Jody Houser did a brilliant job of jotting down most of Violet’s nights out on the town but some were bound to slip through the cracks. Violet was always quite good at slipping away when needed. Violet was always such a good time… time for you to find out why.
The Grave Robber
Mother Panic: Love Indulgent
By Nea Ann, aka Tittyvillus
The statue’s ugly.
There’s no other way of putting it. Violet Paige—undercover vigilante, and socialite terrorist—isn’t one to mince words. It’s like those terrible art remixes that turn Disney princesses into cement mixers. No soul, not even a bit of fucking integrity, just pumping out shit to sell.
The statue’s supposed to be a 3D version of Vermeer’s The Love Letter, but with a “twist”. Instead of their normal old boring clothes, they got modern boring clothes, both dressed up to look like mall rats in garish shades of red and pink. Violet could be charitable and call it “Neo-pop art” or whatever the fuck but again, she’s not one to mince words.
“You a fan?”
“What?” Violet snaps as she turns around. Behind her is some generic-looking sap, a dude that you would never be able to pick out of a sad indie boi line-up. He motions to the holographic display.
Violet says, “Never heard of her” with a slight growl, but the dude doesn’t act as if he heard it.
With a raised eyebrow and a snarky tone he asks, “Then why are you at Love Letter’s exhibit?” His voice is like nails on a chalkboard but she tries to ignore that.
“I got invited.” The letter burns in her pocket.
His eyes light up.
He starts talking, no, he starts monologuing. He probably thinks he’s being friendly, educating some poor woman on some underrated indie artist that was too good for “the mainstream” (the definition changing by the day).
God, she hates just standing here, doing nothing. Any other day Violet would have smacked him across the room and laughed in his face for trying to talk to her. But being thrown out of this shitty event is a no-no, so she stays there, listening to him drone on and on and on and—
“You know, I thought you were a critic when I first saw you.”
“Uh-huh,” Violet says, using this moment to check her phone. Spam, spam, spam—
She snaps the phone shut and gives the fuckboy her full attention.
“I think it was the boots-no, it’s the pantsuit. I mean, who wears that much white except the really V.I.P.s?”
Today she’s wearing a stark-white pantsuit and even brighter combat boots. It’s a loud statement but it’s her statement. It’s the closest thing to armor she has right now and for now, it makes her feel untouchable.
Her (cruel) smile seems to excite him, he starts talking faster, gaining a starstruck look she’s seen on amateur actors who think they saw a scout in the crowd. He takes out his phone and babbles about the woman of the hour; Love Letter.
You already know the spiel. A secretive artist with an eccentric sense of style blahblahblah. Violet already knew all of that before she came here. She may be a screwup but she’s a prepared screwup who’s dealt with too many shitty artists to count. She knows why she’s here and what Love Letter wants.
Violet cuts him off. “Yeah, my date said we were going to meet up in the V.I.P.—“ she stresses that last part, just to make sure he hears it. “— area but I can’t find it. You know where it is, right?”
This deflates him. From the way he was talking earlier he probably thought she was here alone, his for the taking.
The fuckboy points to a door on the opposite side of the room and she wastes no time getting away from him. Of course, he tries to follow her, she’s probably the only woman he’s spoken to all week.
Oh how dearly she wants to tell him to fuck off. The security guards posted near the fancier “statues” glare at her as if they could read her thoughts. Fuck off she mouths to them and picks up the pace a little.
Her enhancements click as she weaves in between the wasted patrons like a cat in a china shop. Varma would call this a waste, and she’d probably be right. So she slows down, just a bit—
And he’s here again. Perfect.
“Can’t you take a hint?” She hisses through her teeth. They’re at the door now, gaudy as everything else in here, covered in stupid-looking heart-shaped stickers. Love Letter has a theme, and it’s a shitty one. Violet pulls at it once and it doesn’t budge. Fucking great.
And of course the fuckboy is back. She can hear him out of breath huffing and puffing behind her, like a subway rat that’s gotten too bold after stealing a pizza slice.
She won’t turn around and she won’t give him the satisfaction of making her look. She won’t hit him.
He takes this opportunity to launch into another speech, really trying to win her over this time. Buddy, if she didn’t listen to you all those other times, why the hell would she start now?
“L-listen lady, I don’t know who your boyfriend—“ She never said boyfriend. “—is but if he would just leave you in here, maybe he’s not the right guy for you?”
She spins around but makes not attempt to come closer.
This frustrates him. He’s out here being nice and all and still she spurns him. So he pulls out his trump card, a small envelope with a tiny heart on it.
Oh god, he came with a prepared speech. Violet thinks as she sees him hold it up.
Wait no, it’s not a letter, it’s too shiny for that, it’s a keycard!
He takes a step closer and says in a tone that belongs nowhere in a public space “Or maybe I can show you—“
Violet slams him into the wall with so much force it stops the party dead. Muzak wafts through the air as she rips the keycard out of his hand and holds it to the door.
By the time the security guards beat their way through the crowd, she’s already gone, safely behind the heart-shaped door.
Her last action before it locks is to flip them off.
There are no yuppies in the hallway Violet found herself in. In fact, she’s the only person here, just her and a row of lockers.
Now that she’s away from the crowd she walks faster. Her eyes sweep back and forth rapidly, searching for something important. They weren’t enhanced like the rest of her body but she isn’t looking for something hidden.
And the jackass that stole it from her didn’t make it hard to spot. Right next to the exit is a locker with a bright red letter taped to the front. “Open me!” It says in an obnoxiously bubbly font and Violet gleefully grants its wish.
She rips the door off its hinges, it crashing to the side revealing—
“Fuck yeah”. Violet pulls her cape out of the locker. She’s been missing this thing ever since it was stolen, along with the rest of her costume. They had been replaced with a letter telling her to come here if she wanted her stuff back and she followed it like a dog.
Ah, whatever, at least she has her cape back. She feels the fabric in her hands and sighs in relief.
And then she feels it.
“Like my gift?” A smug voice rings out from deep inside the locker. She stares dead inside and thrusts the cape in as if eyes were down there and screams “What the fuck did you do to my cape you fucking pervert?”
It laughs again. That pisses her off even more, more than the red sequins that she didn’t fucking want lining the outside of her cape. “Relax, I just wanted to give it a little touch-up. Doesn’t it look so much better than the stuff you—
“Shut. The. Fuck up and give me my stuff back.” Her fist forms a crater in the locker next door. Can it see her face? Can it see her desperation?
“Calm down baby,” it says with an audible smile. “You’ll get your costume back after you finish the gallery.
Now, lay back and indulge yourself! This is my letter to you.”
The voice clicks off, leaving Violet alone with a defaced cape and buzzing noise in her ears.
She pulls the keycard out and winces.
Her hand hurts.
Room two is much smaller than the first, fitting for a V.I.P. Only area. The people here dressed as Violet imagined they would: Reflective tank tops and bell-bottoms. The dark red lighting made them sparkle more as they twist and turn through the holographic displays. This place is a club, or at least trying to be one.
Normally this would be her element. She could walk in and have all eyes on her in an instant, march through like a steamroller and be out in five minutes flat.
Could’ve done that here too if the crowd would stop fucking touching her.
She’s become a star without even trying. They don’t look at her but through her like she was a fucking mannequin or something. From their ooh’s and look!’s she knows they recognized the work hanging off her shoulders. It was the work of the woman they had all come here to worship.
The voice is above her—–no, all around—–and comes with a projection. Love Letter isn’t here, not physically but her holographic image is and it’s floating center stage. She looks like a doll, big eyes and bottle blonde hair included. On her chest lies a blinking brooch that looks like one of her tacky keycards.
The crowd claps adoringly and Violet’s heart thumps harder. The room beats with it—–
—–No, that’s just the sound system. But it’s echoing a bit, or maybe one stereo is a few seconds behind the rest because—–
She takes a step and falls, landing hard on the floor. Someone pulls her up—–pulls the cape up—–and starts talking but Violet can’t hear her and pulls away. Everyone’s staring, asking questions she doesn’t know or doesn’t want to give the answers to (who are you, did you come here alone, where’d you get this beautiful cape?), so she runs. Violet runs so fast she doesn’t notice she’s missing something until she’s at the service door, pressing her full weight against it like she’s seconds away from being sick.
The card’s gone. She must’ve dropped it when she fell goddammit. It’s so shitty she almost felt like laughing. A crowd forms around her, staring like goldfish.
They see what she’s doing.
They see her cape.
And they give her their cards.
She’s alone again.
The service corridor’s empty and the silence buzzes around Violet like angry wasps. She stumbles forward, clutching the railing for extra strength.
She just wanted to get out of the house.
It started to get louder after Varma left. That sounds silly as hell. Violet still has her mother, still has Ratcatcher, still has that boy. And she still sees Varma for surgeries. But for some reason her not being in the house anymore changed Violet in ways she didn’t understand.
What did she say right before she moved out?
I need space.
Right, that. There’s something else there but Violet’s never been good at reading between the lines. Maybe she was just tired of her disobeying her instructions.
Maybe it was something else entirely.
Violet turns a corner and sees faint light from down below.
On stage are:
Her gloves. A set of tacky red clip-on nails are now attached to them.
Her helmet. This change hurts the most. The sharp horns had been sanded down to make a silly heart shape. It isn’t hers anymore, not while it looked like that.
And Love Letter. The doll herself.
She turns around the second Violet steps foot on stage. Where there sensors? Never mind, she doesn’t care. She starts running and—
Her body betrays her, sinking to the floor like it’s made out of weights. All the eyes on her feel like drills, especially Love’s, who mocks her with only a glance.
Her target giggles, sporting a smile so big it splits her face in two. “I just wanna tell you look gorgeous right now.”
“Shut up Love,” She won’t look up, won’t give that bitch the satisfaction. “I don’t listen to fucking perverts like you.”
A chorus of laughter. Is she in front of a fucking live audience right now?
“Oh lighten up! Everyone’s gotta get a makeover someday and you,” she flicks Violet’s head. “Should be happy that I designed yours out of love.”
It’s official, something’s blocking her enhancements. That part of her feels dead and she needs to revive it before this bitch has her way with her.
“What…the fuck are you talking about?” Violet mutters. Her tongue is clay in her mouth, she can’t say the words properly.
Love Letter laughs again and the crowd laughs with her. She can see them now, wearing masks with pulsating hearts on them like they’re in some sort of freaky cult. Actually, they probably were, with how this whole thing was structured.
The crowd falls silent a second before “At the Collective we learn to tap into our deepest emotions to create art. It’s like super important, ya’ know?”
No, she does not, nor does she care about that group of weirdos. She’s too preoccupied trying to figure out what’s locking her in place. It’s obviously—
Love continues talking to her adoring crowd. They move like wind-up monkeys and it’s only through focusing on them that Violet’s able to think.
“They love your style but honestly I think it’s a bit boring, ya’ know? You—“ she points at Violet’s curled-up form. “—are uncarved marble, waiting for a maestro like me to make you into something really worth looking at. You needed a bit of heart, a bit of love!
“So I got to work. I created a new costume, and even let you try it out! The way everyone loved the cape was like, super cool, right?”
Violet doesn’t care about the costume, she never cared about the costume. She cared how her body worked in it, how it was a homemade shield against the shittiest of Gotham. She never cared about how it made others feel. She never—
She didn’t see beneath the surface, she didn’t read between the lines.
“And that surgeon lady?” Love twists her face and the crowd boos in unison. “Well, she didn’t know what she had or she wouldn’t have ruined it with all those ugly machines. Don’t worry—” she cups Violet’s face in her hands, an ugly feeling. “—we can fix that all later.”
With that last statement, Love Letter tapped her brooch and Violet knows how she did it.
It’s a challenge but she drags her head up to stare Love Letter right in the face, clutching the keycard in a vise-like grip in her pocket. She pulls back her teeth, and says,
“I don’t need you to fix me.”
She crushes the card to dust and Mother Panic rises.
She has no helmet but she can feel it, no armor but she’s already untouchable. Mother Panic crosses the space between them and punches, meeting Love Letter with a fist full of hate and love.
With that, the dream shatters. Violet stands alone on a shitty stage weakly filled with projector lights. Rip-off R&B trickled out of the speakers, copying all of the sounds but none of the style. Around her people call out to each other and she makes a call of her own.
“Varma?” I think I’m ready to talk now.”