The Tale of Drewan, the GreatAuthor:
I do not own these characters.Characters/Pairings:
Jo, Andrew, EllenWord Count:
Like every good ghost story, this one starts the same. It was a dark and stormy night…Notes:
Written for the weekly challenge #1 (weather) at Slaying the Supernatural
. Team: Roadhouse.Notes 2:
Set before "No Exit" for Supernatural
and post-Chosen for BtVS
I only just finished this, so no beta-ing and therefore all mistakes are my own.
Rain fell in heavy sheets across the roof of the Roadhouse, pounding out a steady, staccato rhythm. The barroom was pitch black, the darkness punctuated only by the lightning that struck every few minutes, somewhere in the vicinity of the shabby little building. Outside, howling winds and cracking thunder played a tumultuous symphony, barely muffled by the rickety walls which groaned with every gust.
In the gloom a nasally voice spoke with a dramatic, ominous lilt, "It was a dark and stormy night—"
"Oh, come on! Could you be more cliché?" Another voice rang out.
The electricity had gone out well over an hour ago, leaving the Roadhouse's two remaining occupants without light and with only themselves for company. Like anyone else who found themselves in such a position would do, these two resorted to storytelling. Specifically, ghost stories.
Ellen had gone to town earlier that afternoon to pick up some supplies for the Roadhouse and had left Jo there to 'entertain their guest'. Jo figured she'd forgive her mom for it right about never
. Not long after Ellen left a rather vicious storm blew and promptly blew out the lights. Now Jo and Andrew were lounging on the floor, backs to the bar, as they traded barbs.
"Well, it was," Andrew bit back with a righteous air, before repeating again, this time over Jo's irritated sigh, "It was a dark and stormy night, much like tonight."
"Oh really? What a coincidence," Jo cut in sarcastically.
"Stop interrupting!" Andrew whined loudly. "Do you want to hear this story or not?"
"If I say 'no', will you stop talking?" Jo asked needlessly.
Andrew continued on as if he hadn't heard her, once more the tone of drama ringing clear in his words, "While the storm raged on outside, an old man was sitting in a chair in front of his fireplace, thinking of his long-lost true love. He was about to fall asleep when suddenly he heard knocking, knocking on his front door. At first he thought it was the wind and nothing more, but—"
"Wait a second," Jo interrupted again, familiarity tickling at her memory. "This is 'The Raven' by Edgar Allan Poe," she accused.
"It is not!" Andrew defended indignantly.
"Yes, it is!" Jo argued.
"No, it isn't!"
"Yes, it—" Jo stopped, realizing she had just been drawn into childish bickering by someone whose IQ level was probably equal to that of a slug. "Fine. Prove it."
Andrew, nodding as if he'd actually won the argument (not that Jo could see his gloating expression in the dark), resumed telling his story, "But what the old man did not know was that at his door, that very moment, was a vampire
." He rolled the last word off his tongue, putting heavy emphasis on the last syllable.
"You mean vampire?" Jo asked dryly, pronouncing the word properly and placing emphasis on the first syllable.
Andrew gave a, yet again unseen, haughty look at her interruption and continued on without acknowledging her question. "The old man also did not know that this vampire
was, in fact, his long-lost love, Lenore."
"See! I told you this is the story of 'The Raven'!" Jo proclaimed triumphantly.
"It is not!" Andrew wailed, and Jo didn't have to see
to know that he was pouting.
"A story about a guy and his long lost love Lenore, quoth the raven, 'nevermore'. I'm telling you: been there, done that."
"But there are no ravens in this story!" Andrew complained.
By now Andrew's voice was reaching all new levels of high-pitched whininess that almost had Jo giving in right then and there, but she stuck to her guns. "And have you ever even met a vampire named Lenore?" she asked as if it were the most absurd thing she'd ever heard. Dracula
, sure. Angelus
. But who'd ever heard of a vampire with as plain a name as Lenore
For a moment they battled it out in a silent standoff, neither willing to give way. Finally, Jo heard Andrew sigh disappointedly, and she knew he'd given in.
"Fine," Andrew grudgingly conceded in a moping voice. "I'll tell a different story."
"This is a story about two lovers," Andrew started again, this time with a little less vigor, "who meet a tragic fate while parked on an old dirt road called Lover's Lane."
"Hookman," Jo piped in immediately, needing no more information to guess where this story was going. "And it was Six Mile Road, not Lover's Lane," she corrected.
"Stop that!" Andrew yelled, the whiney quality of his voice now such that it put spoiled children everywhere to shame.
Jo was beginning to worry that he might actually burst into tears this time. "Well stop telling stories that I already know," she reasoned.
"Fine! I have a story that you couldn't possibly know!" Andrew stated, with an eagerness that just dared her to say otherwise. "This
story," Andrew began, once again, "takes place a long time ago—"
"If you say 'in a galaxy far, far away'…" Jo warned.
"In a land ruled by magic," Andrew corrected. "Our tale begins with a brave warrior mage named Drewan, the Great."
?" Jo echoed suspiciously.
"Shh!" Andrew quieted, and Jo rolled her eyes. Moving on, Andrew said, "The warrior mage, who was the land's best fighter, was given a task by the elders of his village to save the last unicorn."
"Oh, please," Jo grumbled to herself, beginning to wonder why she was subjecting herself to this absurdity.
"Accepting this task," Andrew continued without pause, "Drewan set out on his journey, taking with him his young apprentice, a fat, dwarf-maiden by the name of Josephine."
"What?" Jo squawked, her exclamation too loud to ignore this time.
"What now?" Andrew complained, giving a put-upon sigh.
"You just called me fat," Jo's aggrieved protestations echoed through the empty barroom. "And
"I wasn't talking about you
," Andrew said airily, as though he were explaining the rules of make-belief to a small child.
"Really? Because your main characters have some suspiciously familiar names," Jo pointed out sharply.
"If I were talking about you, I would have called the dwarf Joanna Beth," Andrew disagreed.
Jo's mouth dropped at his audacity. She hated being called by her full name, mostly because it was only used when her mother was annoyed or angry with her. "Don't call me that!" Jo warned him hotly.
"What? It's your name!" Andrew objected, on the verge of a full-fledged tantrum due to his frustration with this seemingly unwarranted ire that was being directed at him and the continued interruption of his storytelling. "I just want to finish a story! Is that too much to a-AGHH!" A crack of thunder sounded, close enough to rattle the windows, causing Andrew's last word to end in a girlish squeal.
Lightning illuminated the room just long enough for Jo to see Andrew's eyes go wide and to guess what his next action would be before she suddenly found herself tackled to the floor in a terrified hug.
"Get off me, you little geek! And stop acting like a girl," Jo grumbled, setting about disentangling herself from the wimp. She found it hard to believe that this guy was one of the Watcher's Council's most trusted representatives.
"Whew," Andrew said in a relieved, trembling voice, pulling himself off of Jo and moving to stand. "That was…kind of a scary," he paused to catch his breath. "There's really nothing to be frightened of though. It's just a storm," he said, trying, unsuccessfully, to make it seem as though he were reassuring her more than himself.
Jo, likewise, dragged herself off the floor and began brushing dust off the back of her jeans. She was about to open her mouth and let loose another verbal assault on Andrew when a rumbling sound, coming from inside rather than outside this time, caught her attention. "Do you hear that?" she asked quietly, her voice steady with a tense wariness.
"The thunder?" Andrew asked obliviously. "I think it's getting closer. Maybe we should count how long it takes to—"
"No, I think I heard something in the back," Jo whispered, straining her ears to pick up any other noise.
"Maybe it's just the wind," Andrew suggested with a nervous hopefulness.
"Or maybe it's a vampire named Lenore," Jo countered sarcastically.
Some more thumping sounded from the back, this time louder, and Jo moved determinedly in its direction. "I'm going to check it out."
"I'm going with you," Andrew said with feigned bravery.
Jo suspected that he just didn't want to be left alone. "All right, but be quiet."
Jo moved slowly, feeling her way through the darkness, her hands grasping the bar as she maneuvered herself around it, Andrew following close behind.
She paused briefly, "Andrew, stop grabbing my arm." Then added a short second later, "And don't grab that
, either," when his hand strayed elsewhere.
A few more careful steps and they were in front of the door that led to the supply room in the back. Jo took a deep breath and began easing the door open, wincing when its rusty hinges squeaked. When the door was open just wide enough to fit through, Jo moved cautiously into the room, senses on alert for any alien sounds or movements. Andrew followed, managing to squeeze in behind her without bumping the door, and his presence at her back was oddly comforting.
They crept silently through the small room, keeping pace with each other, their shallow breathing the only sounds they made. Jo squinted at the shadows in the far back corner of the room, the only logical place for something to hide. Putting her back to one of the metal shelves which lined the walls on both sides of the room, she began inching her way toward the back, eyes straining to penetrate the darkness ahead while still aware of Andrew just within reach behind her.
It took only seconds to cover the few feet from the door to the back wall, but it felt like hours as Jo's heart pounded out each torturous second in her chest. It occurred to her that they hadn't even thought to pick up a weapon, which meant right now her best defense was her short, geeky companion. Not exactly the best odds. Still, better him than no one at all.
Finally, they were close enough that Jo's eyes could make out more details even in the gloom. The corner was empty, no monster lying in wait to make its dinner out of them, and as her eyes strayed further upward, she noticed that the window had come unlatched, the wind pushing it inward before blowing back out and slapping it shut again.
Jo gave a relieved sigh and leaned back against the metal shelf.
"Guess we found our ghost," Andrew joked, moving away from her toward the window with the intention of latching it shut again.
"Guess so," Jo chuckled lowly in her throat, amused now at how nervous she'd been over something that turned out to be so simple. She decided to blame it on the creepy atmosphere caused by the weather or the ghost stories they'd been telling, not that any of their stories had been at all frightening.
She was about to head back into the main room when she saw something glinting from the corner of her eye. She turned, canting her head, and peered into the shelving…and saw a pair of luminous eyes staring back at her.
The creature hissed angrily, and Jo was close enough to see its small, sharp teeth as it opened its mouth wide; its pointed ears pressed flat against its head. A clawed paw reached out to swipe at her.
Jo's reaction was instantaneous. Her eyes went comically wide, and without thought, a blood-curdling screamed wrenched itself from her throat. She leapt in Andrew's direction, her hands clamping down on his arm in a painful grip.
In a move more courageous than Jo would have given him credit for, Andrew moved his body to shield her. "I'll protect you!" Andrew shouted.
At that moment lightning flashed outside the window, illuminating the small room and casting light on the creature in the shelves. In those few brief seconds, Jo and Andrew were able to clearly see a drenched – quite pathetic looking, really – black cat, which had probably managed to crawl its way through the open window at some point in search of drier shelter. The momentary brightness ended, and the two humans and solitary cat were once again left in darkness.
Jo was still stunned, trying to catch her breath, so it took her a few moments to realize that the snuffling noises, which Andrew was making, were, in fact, the smothered sounds of laughter.
"Who's the girl now?" Andrew teased before dissolving into a fit of girlish giggling.
Jo gave Andrew a hard shove, pushing him dangerously close to the cat's swiping range, and threatened dangerously, "I swear if you ever tell anyone about this..."
Andrew tried to compose himself, but managed only a few brief seconds before collapsing into laughter again. Jo noted that her threats really needed some work.
When Andrew carried on giggling like a teenage school girl, Jo rolled her eyes and said, "Oh come off it, Drewan
. It wasn't that funny."
She headed back toward the door, leaving the cat where it was, and Andrew, still chuckling, fell into step beside her. Jo was about ready to punch him in the nose when they shuffled through the doorway back into the main room, but before she had a chance they were both pulled short by the sight of a tall, dark figure looming against the bar.
This time both of them screeched, throwing their arms around each other in a parody of a lover's embrace. Suddenly, they were blinded by a bright light, and they raised their arms, attempting to shield their eyes.
"What in the Sam hell are two doin'?"
"Mom?" Jo asked in surprise, easily recognizing her mother's voice as she squinted into the light.
Ellen lowered the flashlight in her hand, placing her other hand on her hip. Her expression was severe and lacking in any humor, like she was being forced to discipline two wayward children. "I thought I told you two to stay out of trouble while I was gone."
"Well, you see," Andrew started, "the power went out—"
"—and then we heard something in the back," Jo picked up the story. "So we went to investigate."
"And then there was this cat," Andrew took over again, only to have his foot stomped on by Jo when he mentioned the cat. "Ow!"
"Anyway," Jo cut in again, finishing the story with, "it turned out to be nothing."
Ellen stared stonily at them for a moment, like something in their story got lost in translation. Jo and Andrew shuffled their feet like they were children dreading an upcoming scolding from their mother, which in Jo's case might prove to be true.
After another moment of silence, Ellen picked up a spare flashlight, switched it on, and held it out to the two of them. "Well, if you two are through goofin' off, you can help me carry in these supplies," she gestured toward the front where her truck was waiting, laden with the aforementioned supplies.
Jo took the proffered flashlight, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. "Come on, Drewan
," Jo prodded as she grabbed Andrew by the arm, dragging him with her as she made her way toward the front door. "A warrior mage's work is never done."
"So very true, my dwarven friend."
"Don't call me that," Jo quickly admonished.
As they made their way outside into the rain, they didn't notice Ellen's smile of barely-contained amusement. Ellen let herself chuckle a moment before going into the back room to make space for the new supplies.
If Jo and Andrew had stayed just a few seconds longer, they would have heard a cat hissing, followed directly by Ellen's high-pitched shrieking.
End Notes: This ending can really be attributed to the cat sitting outside *my* window, which did, in fact, scare the crap out *me* while I was writing this story.