Vincent watched her as he opened the envelope by feel. Inside was a photo -- an old-style Polaroid, by the thick, square stiffness. He wasn't sure what he waited for as he watched her, trying to anticipate her purpose. Then he looked at the photo and felt just like he did when he saw Josh and Geneva smiling in the photo on top of the stack of data in the Spike Center folder. Like the floor had dissolved underneath him and the lights had gone out for a moment. Like he fell downward and backwards through time, and the sands of memory that engulfed him threatened to suffocate him.
All five of them, twenty-five years younger, filthy from a successful mission, gathered around a table in some backwater dive. Snow, Javelin, Shadow, Daedelus, and Midas. Vincent marveled at the callous hardness in their faces, could hear the boisterous voices as they raised their glasses in a toast, splashing bad beer over each other and the cluster of glasses that filled the table from three previous rounds of drinks. All of them young, strong, full of life and fury, and for a brief moment united in celebrating their success. Handsome in a glaring, dangerous way. So young, unscarred.
He remembered the thin, hungry girl who took their picture with an old Polaroid before they knew she was there. He remembered how Snow had cursed her and Shadow laughed, using charm to try to get her to hand the picture over without having to pay for it. That was what the poor child did to earn a living -- take photos of people having a drunken good time and get them to pay too much for it. Despite her terror, the girl had understood that they wouldn't pay for the photo and they wouldn't let her leave with it, and she had run. Daedelus/Josh went after her, chasing her out of the bar, and came back with the photo less than ten minutes later.
Vincent's hand shook, remembering how Snow had vanished from the table a short time later. When they left the bar maybe an hour later, he stepped out of the shadows with the camera in his hands and a cold smile on his face. Vincent hadn't thought until just that moment what Snow had probably done to the girl to get the camera. He liked torturing children. When the powers-that-be sent him on solo jobs, they knew he would get the job done if the targets had children he could torment and "play with" after he had murdered the parents.
Funny, how Darcy had been able to match him up with the man in the photo, despite the years, the bad lighting, the filth, and the fact that his lack of soul showed so clearly. Vincent slid the old photo back in the envelope and handed it back to her."What did your dad tell you about us, about the men in that picture?" He found some amusement in the realization that he didn't want Joan to see the photo.