"Sure," the bartender smiled, "if I could see some ID." Mal sat back uneasliy, hesitating for a moment, then sheepishly feigned looking through her purse.
"Damnit, I'm sorry," she said, setting her purse back on the bar with a half shrug, "I must have left it at home." Jack snorted in a half laugh, sipping his new drink.
"And what is so funny?" she said in a harsh whisper as Steve turned to a different customer across the bar.
"Left it at home my ass," he said with a smile, "We both know it is right in your wallet like always, and that you are just too young...."
She shot him a look," And so are you..."
He smiled a little, shruged, jiggled his glass a little and drained it. "Go to hell,"she said curtly, realizing the gravity of her words only too late.
"In due time, my friend" Jack said flatly, picking up his coat and walking to the the door. Mal sighed and ran to catch him.
"Jack, look, I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sorry."
Jack swung his coat around over his shoulder and slid it on, "Don't be, I'm not. I'm a killer, Mal. I don't have any illusions about what it is that I do. It would be trite to feel remorse or remeber faces or names or any of that bullshit."
"How can you be so cold about it? You play with Life and Death! What gives you the right?"
Jack stopped mid step, shoulders hunched and hands in pockets, and turned to give her a bleak look. "It isn't a right Mal, it is a responsibility. I take responsibility for not only myself but for these other people. I take it on myself to decide fate, then I live with the consiquence of that action. I do it because I don't stop at decideing the fate, I take responsibility for it. Not many people can get past that first step. They break, confess, go insane. They want release from that weight they put on themselves. I don't always like what I do. Some have been truly innocent, yet they were still suffering. Sickness, disease, pain.....I feel bad for having to end it, but I'd feel worse if I had let it continue. But the rest, Mal..."
"True terrors who use authority or strength to inflict pain on others just to indulge their sadism. Like tonight. He runs a large company and uses that influence to force women into compromising postions, and that same influence to make sure they are discredited or...otherwise silenced....should they come forward to accuse him or try to defend against his appetites. That is what this is about. I have condemned myself in order to save others. I do things that everyone else won't do because I am ready to risk myself for what I think is right."
"I don't like it, Jack."
He turned and kept walking, "I know."
"I could stop you, I could call the police, warn them, warn him."
"You won't....I know you won't."
"I do know. Because tonight, after it is all over, I won't have changed. I'll be Jack. But that man," Jack drew a long, viciously curved knife from a fold deep in his coat, "after tonight he will never harm another woman agan."
Mal stopped and watched as Jack continued forward, fading into the shadow of the moonless night.