A brief one-shot exploring the paradox that is Rodney Skinner's "Gentleman Thief."
This child - as downtrodden, poverty-stricken, and starved as he was - had, nevertheless, an incredible gift.
His small, barely-noticeable form slunk down the dimly lit street with practiced ease, stealing silently into the night with grace that was almost feline in its subtle magnificence. However, regardless of the skill and fluidity with which he moved, it was not the flexibility of his body that was his genius - his forte, so to speak; neither was it his sharp mind, cheeky, boyish smile, or untouchably cheerful, teasing confidence.
His talent - the one place where the full potential of his brilliance, inborn ability, and shining distinction was displayed - lay entirely in his hands.
He was gifted with incredibly long and dexterous fingers, all of which were astonishingly graceful and thinly muscled, capable of such quick, precise, and perfect movement that it was almost uncanny how much hidden strength and power they possessed. They were undoubtedly beautiful, striking in the pale glow of the skin, the silent perfection of the nails, and the virtually unnoticeable ripple of taut muscles as they moved. And the boy was no novice at the art of using them, either; he could move them in whatever perfect synchrony that he wished, orchestrating the most exact of actions in brief, musical flickers of his true self. They were much more than the tools by which he lived; his hands - this pair of pale, lean, and remarkable hands - were extensions of his very soul.
It was, therefore, no surprise that this child was meant for great things. Perhaps it was because of this that Rodney Skinner later proclaimed himself a gentleman.
As a thief, no less...
But always firstly and foremostly a gentleman.
His mother had left without warning again. She would put him to bed, wait until she thought he was asleep, and then slink out of their miserably cramped flat and down the stairs, onto the street where - especially in the evening - it was best not to be caught wandering. The company of this more questionable part of London was, after all, brutish, even at best.
He was no fool. He knew she was disgracing herself, selling what physical beauty she had left, for his sake - so that he would have bread to eat in the morning and a roof to sleep under in the evening. He knew that every night, she would give herself to any passing, willing man in exchange for a few pounds. How could he not, when she came home smelling of alcohol? When her scent reeked of the stench of several different men, mingling with the light fragrance of her own cheap perfume? She always returned with tears pouring silently down her cheeks, wearing the same ostentatious, revealing dresses that did nothing but accentuate the deliciousness of her soft flesh. Her lipstick would be smeared, her makeup would be ruined, and her eyes - they were always the worst...
Her eyes appeared dead.
He knew she died a little bit inside every time it happened. A woman of her stature, of her upbringing, of noble blood - lowered to prostitution? It was unthinkable. And yet every day, at the stroke of midnight, she would dress without hesitation and sneak out the door to the hell that awaited her below - every night, without exception.
He couldn't let her do this to herself. How could he? It wasn't her fault that his father had deserted her as soon as she'd been disowned, as soon as she wasn't worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It wasn't her fault that she had been left homeless and penniless, pregnant with the child of a man who had broken her heart, trying desperately to find a place for her son in so cruel a society. She was his mother, for crying out loud, and he loved her with all his heart. There was no way he was going to stand by and do nothing as she slowly killed herself, working herself to death for the sake of the only family she had left - her only son.
Which was why he decided to enter a very lucrative business, one that would lift the burden from the shoulders of his suffering mother - one that would allow her to live as she deserved.
One that was, unfortunately, also illegal.
Gentleman thief indeed...
It would be an interesting career.
Author's Note: Please note that this vignette follows LXG movieverse only - I have no knowledge of the graphic novel whatsoever - so excuse any discrepancies with facts that may be mentioned in the comic.
Any comments, positive or negative, are welcome, so please review and let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: Any and all characters pertaining to the film or graphic novel are legal property of 20th Century Fox and/or Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.