The Other Half::celeste::Chapter 3Darkness
Officer Frank Petal hated night detail in Cleveland. It hadn’t been the first beat he’d been on. He’d worked out in Detroit for nearly three years before relocating to Ohio on account of his wife’s career change. He had, at first, expected a much better time. Getting away from the gangs and the drug dealers that seemed to poison the streets of the large city. Drugs and gangs were everywhere, but he’d thought that it wouldn’t be anything like the violence of the former Industrial giant.
He should have known, that first night on duty, it wasn’t going to work out that way. Right when his new Chief had pulled him aside in the locker room. Giving a Rookie speech that at first sounded normal, until he mentioned wearing crosses around the neck and never approaching anything that looked less than human. Frank had thought it was a joke at the time, a sort of right of passage. Until his second week when he swore he’d seen a man wearing what looked like a Halloween costume- mid July- complete with yellow skin and horns carrying a basket full of kittens.
From then on he became aware of what didn’t go into the reports they filed. Whispers over the coffee maker, whispers of supernatural activity here and there. Don’t drive by if you can help it, and steer anyone clear if you can.
He never really found out exactly what was going on in Cleveland, but he knew it was over their heads.
So he patrolled with his partner, Rich, and the two took care of the mundane. There were still drug pushers and prostitutes, still robberies and grand theft- it kept them busy. As to the rest, they never spoke of it. It was a code of silence that everyone adhered to, and if there was one body short in the morgue's count the next morning- well it was assumed as an administrative error. They had a lot of administrative errors.
Finding the John Doe last night, just walking around naked like nobody’s business, had been a rather nice change in pace. Some guy too hyped up on drugs (though he didn’t blow so much as a .01 on the breathalyzer) just wandering around. They’d had a good laugh over it after he’d been taken away. The two left it for social services to work out, and other than the follow up reports hadn’t given it much thought.
That was, until Sheryl’s voice from dispatch came over the radio with a 10-44. Mental distress. Rich and Frank had exchanged an amused look, both thinking the same thing. Their John Doe was out wandering around again, Frank would have bet two weeks pay on it. Once they’d obtained the suspect’s location, outside one of Cleveland’s eight cemeteries, Frank let Sheryl know they’d handle the call.
After making a quick U-Turn, they were en route. It took the patrol car ten minutes to reach the corner, and they both agreed to do a circle of the cemetery before driving past the gates to search inside. It was another one of those never acknowledged orders to only enter a cemetery at night only if there was no other choice. Orders that weren’t on paper, but somehow learned and followed none-the-less.
They were approaching the south side when they spotted him. Frank had a hard time keeping the smile off his face from the sight that greeted him. “That’s the same guy.”
“Yep,” Rich agreed, both recognizing the pale skin and bare ass. Same shoulder length greasy black hair that hung in loose clumps, same huge nose sticking out from the middle of a long, narrow, and sharp face. A tall guy, and extremely lean. He was probably in his early forties but certainly didn’t have the gut a lot of the detectives working desk detail had. “That’s our John Doe alright.”
Frank took up the small handheld again and spoke into it. “Two-seven-eight dispatch. 10-97, Suspect spotted.”
“Two-seven-eight out,” Frank replied just as Rich parked the car next to the curb a bit in front of their John, making sure to leave the headlights on.
The two officers exchanged a final amused look before Rich readied the handcuffs and stepped out of the car. Frank, shaking his head and grabbing his hat, followed his partner. He perched his hat on his head just as they both approached the John Doe.
Unlike last time, he did not seem skittish. In fact, there was something very odd about him- other than the fact he was nude. Frank couldn’t put his finger on what it was exactly- just a feeling that sent chills up and down his spine. Rich seemed to be of the same opinion, because he too was advancing at a slow and steady pace.
“Hands behind your back, just like last time,” Rich ordered to the John. “Easy does it. We’re going for another ride.”
The John stopped walking, his eyes going from one to the other before his head tilted quizzically to the side. When Frank first looked into those eyes, he thought maybe the lack of sufficient light was playing tricks on him. But, the closer they advanced, the more he realized it wasn’t light casting shadows. Their John’s eyes really had gone completely and utterly black. No sliver of white at all.Eyes of the abyss
“Hands behind your back,” Frank repeated with a lot more force, and acting on what his gut was telling him, drew his gun from the holster. That fear they never spoke of rising up to the surface. That something unnatural was going on.
The John just continued to watch them with its pitch-black eyes. Then, subtly tilting his head up a bit, they heard several sharp inhaled breaths and watched as the large nostrils twitched. Sniffing the air like some sort of hound. Frank’s brows furrowed together as he wondered just what the hell was wrong with this guy.
His head lowered again and then shook in disappointment. Obviously not catching whatever scent he'd been searching for. He started walking again, oblivious to the two officers and the gun pointed directly at his chest.
Just as he was about to pass between them, Rich reached out and grabbed the John’s arm. “Hey. We told you we’re going for another ride, buddy.”
Without sound the John paused. Peering first at Rich- and Frank saw his partner shiver slightly when his eyes met the John’s- before glancing down at the hand on his arm. There was no expression on his face, not so much a slip of a frown, but somehow Frank knew he was not pleased with the treatment.
Then, in the flash of an instant, the Johns other hand came seemingly out of nowhere to settle against the side of Rich’s face. Before Frank could so much as squeeze the trigger on his gun, he watched as Rick’s head was suddenly jerked to the side and a crack rang out in the night air. Like a twig had just been snapped in half- clean and quick and cutting.
It was too fast to even shout, it was too fast to fire a shot, it was too fast to do anything but stare as the John let go of his partner’s now limp head. Rich was dead before he even hit the ground.
All in the flash of an instant.
Frank roared in anger, finally getting that squeeze off of his trigger. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, night, ten shots accompanied his cry of anguish with the gun’s recoil vibrating down his arm as he fired one bullet off after another. He continued until the gun clicked ineffectually as the clip finally emptied.
The John never even jerked as all those bullets rained into his flesh, ripping tissue and smashing bone. He simply waited until the clicking stopped, and then slowly turned his head towards Frank. Blood that was as thick as oil and just as black oozed from the wounds, but if the John was in pain he didn’t show it. He didn’t show anything. It was like something out of a horror movie.
Frank realized he was in some serious trouble.
The night shifted around him. Shadows slipped away from their casters, gliding across the ground towards the John. They converged around him, sliding over his bare feat and slowly slithering up his pale legs. When they met somewhere on his back, where Frank could not see them, they sprung outwards like tentacles. As if the John had sprouted black vines like angels would release wings. The tentacles then moved as one before straightening towards him. They flew through the air, right for Frank- and the officer didn’t have time to take a single step back before they converged around him. Slipping around him, oily snakes as strong as ropes, and so cold they burned.
Then he was being dragged across the sidewalk towards the John, his struggles doing no good against them. No matter how hard he dug his heels in, he just drew closer to those endless black eyes. When he was near enough to feel the breath of the John against his skin, he could see just how empty and vast those eyes were. Frank knew he was as good as dead.
The shadowed bindings squeezed tighter, forcing him to gasp in pain. A moment later something had been drawn into his body with the air, and was slowly seeping into his tissue. Strangely it didn’t hurt at all.
Not at first, anyway. Not until he began glowing with a blinding golden light that pulsed around him. Then it hurt. It hurt in a way he couldn’t describe as something was forced to the surface of his body- through his skin. Something that Sang
The John showed the first signs of irritation, his thin lips curling into a sneer. Then the long pale hand that had broken his partners neck so effortlessly reached out and touched Frank’s chest- fingers resting with a parody of a tender brush over his heart. The glow began converging between the outstretched fingers, slowly curling as it drew the light between them. Frank shuddered, in too much pain as it was ripped from his body to even scream.
When the glow was concentrated into a small orb between the John’s fingers, one thin string of golden light going from the orb directly into his heart the last thing connecting it to Frank’s body, the John smiled before snatching his hand away. Ripping the golden orb with him, and effectively snapping the string.
Frank ceased to be.**
The First, who had watched quietly from atop the squad car, smiled as the human went limp as a rag doll in the dark coils. It could hear the song of the Eternal. So could Darkness. The Darkness turned towards it, a sinister smile on its face, as it’s hand began squeezing the orb. The song turned higher in pitch, crying out for the Others no doubt, but it had no chance of escaping Darkness’ fist to join and escape into its kind.
Then, with a final note of agony, the soul shattered. Millions of tiny pieces erupted like the last dying sparks of a fireworks display, fizzing out of existence before they could so much as hit the ground.
“I love watching you work,” The First told Darkness, the Slayer’s voice full of pride with the compliment.
Slowly the shadows were released and allowed to return to their proper places. The mortal’s body still stood, but it’s head stayed drooped down chin to chest and immobile. Darkness looked once again completely human without the black coils that had been dancing around him. The First, smile growing, hopped effortlessly down from the hood of the car, and strode to him. Wishing it could reach out and touch Darkness itself. It would feel so lovely.
Darkness answered with a sharp nod.
“Bet you just want to do that all the time, huh? Bet you’d love to do that to the whole of the Eternal, wouldn’t you?”
It’s black eyes burned more intense, the abyss of the infinite controlled by Dark Matter churning within them. Oh yes, it liked that thought very much. So did The First.
“Let them stew for an eternity in torment and misery. Fuel us till we can take over the Powers, and then you’ll be able to crush all the sad little lights you want to,” The First purred. “You’ll be everywhere. No more nasty golden lights to outshine you.”
A shiver of delight rippled across the sallow flesh.
“You know what we have to do first though, don’t you?”
Slowly Darkness’ lips curled into a sinister little smirk. He sniffed at the air again, than pointed a finger off to the west.
“That’s right,” The First smiled coyly in return before glancing towards the human body. “What do you want to plant? I personally love the elders. They’re so obedient.”
Darkness shook its head, inky black hair hitting sharp cheeks.
The First pursed its lips in thought as it walked slow circles around the empty body. “A normal, run of the mill vampire?”
A snort of derision was its answer. That was the trouble with Darkness- so very hard to please.
With a pout of it’s own, The First gazed back at Darkness. “Well, what then?”
Three long strides took him next to the empty body. Darkness tilted the chin up, peering intently into the clouded- empty eyes. The First felt a new piece of itself grow inside the mortal and nearly moaned aloud with the delicious sensation as it joined with Darkness’ efforts on behalf of the Intent. Darkness planted the seed, The First brought it that spark, and the Intent filled it with purpose.
The mortal transformed before The First’s eyes, coaxing a bright smile from The First who was pleased with the results of their corruption. “Lovely,” The First breathed.
Darkness’ lips slipped into a secret smile of it’s own before releasing their new spawn. The First quietly suggesting instructions of it's own within the twisted mind.
The First watched the demon run off until it had disappeared into the night after jumping over the high wall. “That should keep her distracted,” it commented.
Darkness nodded once more in agreement before inhaling a sharp breath of air. Catching the scent once again, it moved off in the direction of The Half Made Flesh.**
A pained grunt followed Giles’ muttered declaration. Buffy drew her fist back, feeling her biceps ripple with power before releasing the next blow with a force roughly equivalent to a sledgehammer right into the vamp’s ridged nose. She felt the impact run along the bones of her knuckles, through her hand, and into her wrist like an electric voltage. The sound of skin-covered bone meeting cartilage, that soft thwack, was oddly reassuring.
She continued to furiously pummel it, not giving an inch to the vampire as she worked off the stress with the demonic punching bag. Right, left, right, left, and an uppercut- oh, that had to have smarted. Judging, of course, by the way the vampire was launched vertically into the air.
She ducked at the waist, felt the high kick pass over her back inches above her from a Vampire that had tried to sneak up from behind.
“There is no earthly purpose for them. No one trims them. I don’t understand why you couldn’t just plant something tame. Perhaps a nice patch of chrysanthemums,” Giles continued from the general direction of the large stone obelisk he was leaning against.
Rolling her eyes, Buffy quelled the urge to send a vampire flying at her ex-Watcher and came up with a knee to the muscled abdomen of the vamp now attacking her. Another musical grunt, and then silence as the pointy end of her stake met the still heart within it’s rib cage. In that split second, the vampire’s fierce yellow eyes met her hazel with an incredulous look of disbelief. When it finally blew apart into dust, Buffy turned to regard Giles. “Those bushes saved your life, Giles.”
“I am not so old and decrepit that a seven foot fall would kill me, Buffy. No matter how many more gray hairs I have on my head,” he retorted. Then in a sour voice he said, “most of which are from you, I might add.”
Buffy waited for the vampire she’d knocked back earlier to run himself into her stake. She was not disappointed. The enraged demon didn’t realize his momentum couldn’t be stopped by the time he spied the sharp wood she jutted out like a pike. When the dust settled after the impromptu stabbing, Buffy pocketed the weapon and began slapping her hands together to clear any vamp that may have been left behind. “Remind me again why you’re here?”
Giles shot her a disgruntled look. He still had that icepack pressed against the back of his head from when it had been unexpectedly turned into a blunt instrument. Buffy was pretty sure heads weren’t naturally designed to smash through glass. Though hers would have done it well enough.
The shrubbery he’d been busy grumbling about had left it’s own reminders. Whatever patches of skin hadn’t been covered by tweed at the time was now decorated with long, angry red scratches. His dignity still looked ruffled beyond repair. Even hours after the incident had occurred and the last of the tiny green leaves had been plucked out of his hair.
Xander had walked away in much the same state. Except afterwards he’d popped a couple of aspirins and went to work boarding up the windows. Taking away from the awkward tenseness of the moment, since Willow was still unconscious, by quipping ‘just like old times, ain’t it
“We,” and Giles gently stressed the word, “are here to find out if there’s been any unusual activity.”
“Willow,” Buffy retorted. She strolled over towards Giles, holding out a hand to help him stand. He refused it, looking affronted once again, and pushed himself up. He cringed momentarily, complete with wince, before finally managing to hobble along beside her. Buffy thought he’d sprained his ankle in the fall, but he refused to be left behind while she went on patrol.
“Yes, but Willow is hardly giving any answers at the moment,” Giles stated.
“You’re sure she’ll wake up?” Buffy asked softly. She’d been concerned for the witch. Same as everyone else who witnessed Willow’s startling-whatever it had been. When she hadn’t immediately come to, Kennedy had carried her up to their bedroom where even now she probably remained at a constant vigilance at the bedside.
Giles removed his glasses with the hand not holding onto his icepack, probably nearly melted, and rubbed at his eyes with the back of said hand. “I’m reasonably certain. It appears she’s just gone into a restorative sleep. Whatever came over her was quite, ah, intense.”
“One word for it,” Buffy remarked evenly. She sighed heavily. It seemed her friends were always in danger around her. Even with all the new Slayers popping out of the woodwork every day, she remained the prime target for evil. Sometimes she wondered if there was a sign taped to her back saying ‘kick me’.
More like a really big neon sign above her head with an arrow pointing her out to the cosmic baddies. Buffy was definitely ground zero. Of course, it hadn’t helped matters any to move to another Hellmouth, but she was a Slayer. She was the one responsible for training others how to survive as she had. It was nice that Faith shared that burden with her, but as she told the other Slayer before Sunnydale had crumbled into a great crater under the Californian sun: to be the Slayer was to be alone.
Not even a whole new spawn of mini-Slayers could change that. Though, evil did seem to be tucking tail for the time being. At least, it was until today and Willow’s display in the living room. Everyone agreed it smelled of Apocalypse. That earthy aroma of hell dimensions spilling out to the flowery scent of death and destruction.
“Willow will be fine,” Giles said again. Reassuring as best he could. Buffy nodded and wrapped her arms around her stomach, gazing down at the ground and looking for sink holes as they walked through the dark cemetery.
They walked in silence. The gravestones marking their passing as they headed towards the gate, sprouting up like a macabre garden of the dead. The night was calm. They’d taken care of that nest early on, and the rest of the night she’d only found those two vampires. All seemed quiet on the western front. Sort of like the calm before a really bad storm. She just had that tingly spider sense about it.
When she began feeling the weight of Giles’ concerned gaze again, they were nearly to the car. Buffy glanced towards him from beneath her lashes after he finally spoke. “Buffy?”
“Any idea why Willow would have singled you out? Out of all the people in the room?” He paused, weighing his words undoubtedly. “Are you keeping something from us?”
Buffy’s head snapped up. “What? No! ‘Course not! Why would you think that?”
“There have been times you’ve not told us everything,” he pointed out gently. Buffy knew the times he was referring to. Angel, Heaven, and Spike to name a few of the bigger ones.
Still, that was no reason to go accusing her. She felt her ire rise unbidden. “I can’t keep some things private now?”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it,” Giles returned.
”Look, I don’t know why Willow went all- Glinda on steroids. No more than you do.” Buffy turned to him with a frosty glare. “And it’s not like you’ve ever told me every single detail of being Giles.”
Giles arched a brow before glancing away. Buffy felt sweet vindication. Score: one for Buffy, zilch for Ripper
Silence enveloped them again, this time thick with tension. The pair maintained a distance up to Giles’ car, and Buffy even exhaled sharply to try and blow of some steam once he’d unlocked the driver’s side and climbed in. The automatic locks clicked, telling her it was go to lift the handle. Buffy opened the door and sat into the passenger seat, staring ahead through the windshield as he started the engine.
It was not that she didn’t appreciate Giles’ presence among them. He’d always been something of a father figure to Buffy, and Dawn, given her own dad’s habit of absence and forgetting to call once a year. Giles was a stabilizing factor in her life. Since he was now acting as Watcher for all the girls at the new house, he was probably going to be around as long as they were.
Yet, at the same time, Buffy had a taste of independence. She’d led troops to battle. She’d basically raised Dawn after her mother had died. She’d paid bills, got a job, made mistakes and managed to learn from them. She’d loved and lost. She’d grown up.
She didn’t enjoy living in a house filled with people. She tolerated it. The fact there were so many younger girls were around, well, it made Giles even more ‘parental’ than usual. Bathroom time wasn’t the only highly sought after commodity, so was freedom from the patient ‘what do you think you’re doing’ looks that could reduce the twenty three year old Buffy to age fifteen again.
A prime example, when she’d brought a guy home. Now, everyone knew what Willow and Kennedy did in the bedroom after lights out. But when Buffy had enjoyed a little TLC- Giles had given her a good dressing down the next day after the guy had left. Not about having ‘relations with young men’ but rather about ‘having relations with young men around impressionable teenagers’.
It was straining them. She could feel the tension coiling at times. She was certain Giles, a bachelor without kids of his own and with no seeming interest in correcting that any time soon, wasn’t all peaches and cream with the way things were either. She knew he wanted space himself. Living with an overabundance of estrogen would do that to any man.
At the same time, the growing distance between them was terrifying. Buffy just wanted to know that Giles would always be a phone call away. They’d had their whoppers of disagreements in the past, she still got a bit angry whenever she recalled his deal with Robin to take out Spike, but overall she didn’t want to push him away. He was, would always be, her Watcher, Guide, and Friend.
“I’m sorry,” she finally stated into the silence.
”Quite alright,” he replied straight away. “I shouldn’t have pried. It’s not my place.”
“No, it’s your place,” she said. “I want it to be your place. I’m just- I don’t know. Sick of lack of privacy for one thing.”
“Yes. The hair in the drain is becoming overwhelming,” Giles admitted beside her. “As are the tampon wrappers in the waste basket. Picking up the telephone and hearing a rush of giddy words instead of a dial tone. And, lest we forget the most horrible of any torture method devised to man, Pop Music.”
Buffy grinned, feeling the tension in the car break with it. “Poor Giles.”
“Indeed,” he agreed whole-heartedly.
“So,” Buffy began anew, “what do you think?” At his sideway glance, she clarified, “up in evil activity? More demonic blips on the radar?”
His brows furrowed as he considered the question. “It certainly doesn’t seem that way. Of course, we can hardly draw any conclusions from one night’s patrol.” He shook his head. “We’ll simply have to wait for Willow to wake.”
Staring out the window watching the cars pass by, Buffy was inclined to agree. She hoped it would be soon. Her senses were still tingly.**
“It uses electricity?”
“And I’m supposed to put it against my face?”
“I’m assuming it doesn’t spit out sparks, Snape.”
“That’s what I said. I wouldn’t test my luck putting it in water though, if I were you.”
Snape peered distrustfully down at the electric razor. The metal rings laying across the top of the curving plastic handle looked more suited to grating cheese than removing stubble from his face. He gingerly deposited it back among the other items on the large mattress.
Bags of all shapes and sizes were piled in various places around the room. Most held a new wardrobe for him, and Snape shuddered as he recalled their expedition into the men’s department. The mall had been a traumatic experience enough on it’s own, worse than the bank. The humiliation of being forced to try on one garment after another while Black circled around him like a shark as he critically assessed every single piece only capped the afternoon.
Snape had to fight tooth and nail to keep most of his new clothing in various shades of charcoal, dark gray, and black. Somehow, while Snape’s back was turned, dark and muted colors had found their way into his pile of purchases. He had an assortment of greens and blues, mostly. Rather ordinary white button up shirts, vests, jackets, and even a few suits. The majority of trousers Black had pointed out were in wool along with the denim pants. A vast collection of ties and boxers culminated the entirety of Snape’s wardrobe.
Snape still preferred robes. He had vocalized his discomfort with the chafing several times, but Black wouldn’t hear of it. Even kilts were out of the question, though Snape wasn’t that keen on showing off his legs either.
Once he’d acquired enough clothing to suit Black, they’d moved on to other ‘essentials’: wallets of dark leather, silvery glinting watches, shoes and boots buffed to a high polish, and items for personal grooming. A lot of items for grooming, more than he was sure was needed. Snape had a distinct impression that Black was trying to hint something to him, but steadfastly refused to acknowledge the effort.
Finally finished, his feet nearly dragging and a pronounced twitch in his eye, Snape was allowed to rent a room at a local hotel. Again, Black had insisted firmly on it being a suit. There was- apparently- some sort of cover story at work here, and judging by his clothes Snape was guessing he was supposed to be taking on the air of a very wealthy gentleman traveling abroad. The amount of zeros in his new bankbook seemed to hold up his theory.
The illusion was all well and good for Snape who was not adverse to comfort in the least. He supposed it may not have been much of an illusion- given Black’s insistence that the money would not disappear as soon as all was said and done. Repeatedly calling it the nest egg. Snape was not so stupid as to protest.
When asked directly about the money’s sudden appearance out of thin air, Black had waved off concerns and said something about Columbian dealers and companies polluting the environment. Count on a Gryffindor to manage turning a theft an altruistic gesture. Robin Hoods the whole lot.
Snape began clearing his bed of shopping bags, intending to have a good lay in. He could figure out more of these muggle devices later, he decided. Anymore impromptu instructions from Black, and he’d likely erupt from exhaustion and overwrought nerves. Since he couldn’t very well count on Black for a good fight anymore, he’d lost interest in picking arguments with the abysmally serene spirit. Not unless he was really begging for it in any case.
“What are you doing?” Black asked, watching Snape. He always seemed to be watching.
“Going to sleep, Black. Unlike your endless supply of energy, mine needs a periodic boost. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Snape flipped back the covers before collapsing down. Still fully dressed.
“Oh no you don’t,” Black retorted as he shook his head, “you’re going out.”
“I am most certainly not. I’m too tired to remove my shoes,” Snape mumbled softly. One arm stretched out, grasping a pillow and setting it up behind his head. With a sigh of relief, Snape finally closed his eyes.
A crinkling of paper destroyed the blessed silence. Snape resolutely ignored it, curling onto his side and folding the large pillow over his exposed ear. It worked for a time, and he felt himself slowly sinking into the arms of Morpheus.
At least he was until something heavy landed across his thigh. Stifling a curse, he furiously threw back his pillow and glared at Black who was standing at the side of his bed. Watching the spirit’s fluid movements as he laid out one article of clothing after another. Nodding periodically to himself. “This should look good.”
“Black,” Snape said- a pleading pitied tone to his voice, “what are you doing?”
“Setting out your outfit for tonight. Go take a shower. Be sure to use that shampoo, it’ll take care of the oily hair. Oh, and remember to moisturize. Your skin could really use it.”
Ignoring the instructions, Snape leveled Black with a dark glare. “And where do you propose to send me off to now?”
“Night club,” Sirius replied off handedly before turning to pick out a pair of shoes.
Snape sat up with the speed of a jack in the box whose lid had just flung open. “What?!”
“A. Night. Club.” Black repeated slowly, carefully enunciating every word. “Get ready.”
“Why in the name of Merlin would you want to send me off to a Night Club?” Snape asked. His voice was trembling slightly, his dark eyes narrowed spitefully. A slim part of him held out hope that this was some sort of joke, but he rather doubted it.
Black ran his hand down the length of the black silk trousers, straightening any wrinkles he found in the smooth fabric. “I told you. We can’t afford to waste any more time. You’ve got to get out, walk around the city.” He paused and regarded Snape again. “You didn’t expect to just sit around, cooped up in this room, and have your other half just walk through the door?”
“Of course not,” Snape answered gratingly. Though, if he were honest, there had been a sliver of hope in that direction. He folded his arms across his chest, a definite defiance in his rigid posture. “Besides,” he continued, “how do you know she’ll even be at a Night Club? Perhaps she, too, appreciates the value of silence spent in the company of a good book and a glass of wine.”
Black’s lips twitched. “If she’s not there, we’ll still spend the time productively.”
“Why- teaching you how to interact with people again,” Black replied as if that were obvious. “Your skills are a bit rusty, Snape.”
“I know how to get along with people just fine, Black,” he spat.
“Oh yes. When it comes to terrifying first years there’s no one better than Snivellus Snape the Great Bat of the dungeons.” He shook his head, crooked grin on his face, before continuing. “Since you started teaching when was the last time you went out?” As Snape kept his lips tightly pressed together in stony silence, Black arched a brow. “You don’t even remember. Do you?”
“Of course I remember,” Snape answered at last. “Albus, Hagrid, and I went to the Three Broomsticks four weekends prior to my-“ Snape paused. Then, with a furious scowl, Snape pushed his legs over the side of the bed. As he stood he flipped a single finger salute to Black.
Minimally satisfied with that, he strode across the room to the bathroom. Making sure the door slammed shut behind him hard enough to rattle the walls.
He heard Black’s amused bark chasing him all the way into the shower.**
He was in Tartarus. What else could explain the surroundings he now found himself within?
The cab driver had dropped him off at the first Club they’d spotted. Snape had hoped it would be something tasteful and rather sophisticated. Serving a fine selection of liquor, a classical atmosphere, and sporting women of refined tastes.
Instead what he got was an establishment that had declared war upon the senses. Even out in the street, waiting in a long line of youth he could have taught a few years prior, he could hear the rhythmic pulse of the music inside the small brick building. In fact, the beat was so very loud and deep that the moment he got past the burly man guarding the door, he was certain it had reset his heart rate.
Music was not just heard in here, it was felt. It was colorized with beams of laser light that danced with the each eardrum-shattering beat of those horribly large speakers set up in every corner. Strobes flashed enough to threaten Snape with an epileptic seizure. A disco ball (Merlin in knickers- he hadn’t even realized those were still around) sent prisms dancing onto the bodies grinding in a very lurid display they dared term ‘dancing’.
And skin was everywhere. For a wizard who was used to all but the face, neck, and hands to be covered by voluminous robes- it nearly caused his eyes to boggle out of his head. Legs, arms, the swells of breasts and cleavage; nowhere was safe for his eyes. It did not help that he could nearly smell the pheromones in the carried on the air, fueled by sweat and a nearly animalistic urge spawned by everyone rubbing off on one another. Not to mention the alcohol.With a taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
I’m slipping under
With a taste of poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic
Snape grit his teeth against the barrage of that shrieking harpy. Though, he had to grudgingly agree, it was toxic in here. He was certain he’d never be quite the same again. All hope for the younger generation had fled with their clothes. And he’d thought the seventies wild.
“This is great!” Black shouted, hips gyrating along with the masses around them.
Snape’s fingers tightened on his glass of whisky. Threatening to crack it. “You would think so,” he muttered darkly. Unable to even hear his own voice with the pounding assault on his eardrums.
Unfortunately, Black didn’t need to hear Snape over the music. Wanker could read his mind. “When it’s too loud, you’re too old, Sev!” He shouted to Snape, doing some very strange pumping motions with his arms.
Snape rubbed at his temple, trying to stave off the building migraine that was slowly worming it’s way from the back of his skull to behind his eyes. He had no qualms about growing old. Not if it meant avoiding debacles like this.
“Why don’t you ask her to dance?!” Black then shouted, interrupting Snape’s dark brooding.
The former Potions Master glanced over with great reluctance, and spied the woman sitting a few stools down from him a still erratically grinding Black was pointing to. Snape turned his eyes back to Black, twin slivers of malcontent. The chit looked twenty years his junior. “You’re insane. You do know that don’t you?”
“Get a sense of fun,” Black returned. “Soul mates not here-“
“Which makes an excellent reason to leave.”
means we have to go to plan B!”
Snape scowled back into his whisky glass. There was no way he was going to approach anyone in this place. Let alone to dance to this travesty. He refused to bump and grind with the rest of this brainless mob of hormones on principal alone.
“Go on, Snape! Just ask, ‘would you like to dance?’ Five words! You can manage that!” Black shouted.
“We’ll stay here until you dance with someone!”
Snape’s eyes snapped back onto Black’s face. Unfortunately the spirit looked deadly serious. Well, as serious as he could while still bobbing his head along.
“FINE!” Snape shouted angrily, the outburst ignored by the couple giving each other a tonsillectomy directly next to him. He turned to his drink, lifted it off the bar top, and downed the rest of its contents in one long swallow.
When the burn in his gullet settled comfortably, Snape threw one last baleful glare at his guide before sliding out of his seat. Once back on his feet, he refastened his jacket with a few flicks of deft fingers as he approached the young woman Black had picked out for him.
A slip of a thing, with a waspish and flippant air about her that Snape could sense even from behind. When she turned, however, there was something quite odd about her. In the amber eyes framed by tendrils of thick brown hair piled into ringlets on her head, something very odd. Perhaps it was the way in which they focused on his face, flicking down briefly, before meeting his eyes again. And the smile the curved her lips could only be from anticipation.
Snape was boggled. Yet, with Black grinning like a loon and urging him on with the thumbs up, Snape dismissed the strange aura and leaned closer to the bar. Bending his head so that his lips nearly brushed her ear, he asked, “care for a dance?”**Lyrics are an excerpt from Toxic by Britany Spears. Evil thing has been in my own head since going to bar.