Ummm, we'll do
Copyright 2002 whole and entire by the above.
Not ONE WORD may be changed.
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"There was a time when you believed in Magic," Lenore said quietly, all the while staring at me with those weird, gold cat's eyes of hers. "Believed in the land of the Summer people."
I hated it when she sprang that old soul shit on me. Not only was it creepy as hell, but the last thing I needed was to have to worry about past lives. I was having a bitch of a time just dealing with the one I was in, thank you very much. But I knew better than to argue with her.
"Okay whatever, there was a time when I believed in Santa Claus, too, and that passed."
Lenore shook her finely braided head, setting off a soft musical swish of bells and beads. "You would be so much happier if you'd just try this. Really, a couple of good healing spells and some herbs and you'll feel a whole lot better."
"I still think a good curse or two would satisfy me a lot more," I groused. "And if you aren't willing to help me there, than what good are you?"
She sighed. She was talking to a stone wall and she knew it. "Arthur, how many times do I have to tell you, The Law of Three would turn that into a disaster for you."
I knew she was serious about this. Lenore Pell is nothing if not serious. She's my roommate and probably my best friend, but her one fault is that she's totally lacking in a sense of humor. Especially when it comes to paganism, which she practices diligently.
"Yeah, yeah," I grumbled. "What ever you do to someone else, good or evil, will return to you thrice fold." I rolled my eyes. "You Wiccans certainly take the fun out of witchcraft. You know, it's just my luck that I end up being friends with the only black chick from New Orleans who doesn't believe in Voodoo."
She snorted regally. "That is not the path to spiritual harmony."
"Fuck spiritual harmony; I just want a little human revenge!"
So started my rant. Lenore sat back and listened calmly, not even showing by so much as a curl of her lip that that she'd already heard my sad tale practically every day for the last year or so. But then I told you she was my best friend. When I'd found myself homeless she was the first person I'd called, and ten minutes later she had me sitting in her kitchen drinking some god-awful weed tea while I cried on her shoulder.
It wasn't a very original story. Just the same old sordid number where the poor schmuck, me, Arthur, comes home and finds his one true love, Quinn by name and queen by game, in bed with a set of twins who's combined ages wouldn't have gotten them into an AARP meeting. At 34, I wasn't ready myself, but still I was aware enough of the onset of my maturity that I was a little touchy when the subject of age came up. So it's not much of stretch to figure out that finding two kids barely out of puberty rolling around on my Egyptian linen sheets pissed me off. A lot.
Quinn, of course was nothing if not contrite. He swore he'd been drunk. He swore he didn't know what came over him. He swore he'd never do it again. I let him grovel for a couple of days before I forgave him.
Then I looked up a private investigating agency and had him tailed.
It didn't take long for them to report back that the twins were only the last in a long line of guys willing to sink to their knees or spread their legs for an aging pretty boy who still looked a lot like Brad Pitt albeit after a heavy night on the town. Pretty soon I realized that it wasn't so much a question of who'd slept with my boyfriend, but who hadn't.
I'm one of those butch types, and I was very manly about it. I threw a hissy fit that would have made a diva blush. Quinn just shrugged his shoulders and gave me his best sad puppy look. He could make his eyes glisten with tears on cue. "Think about it... I mean, we've had four good years. How many people can even say that?" Since we'd been together for seven, this didn't make me any calmer. I pointed to the door and asked him to leave. He went to the safe and pulled out the deed to the old Victorian I'd bought and showed me his name.
I'd forgotten about that. It'd been on our fifth anniversary, and I thought we were still a couple so... I'd added his name to the deed. My work had me traveling a lot around that time, and to a lot of places that weren't all that safe. So being the kind of guy I am (or was, - I'm a lot more cynical now, post Quinn) I'd put him on the deed so if anything did happen to me, he'd be all set.
He was all set, all right. He celebrated with an 18 year old in the hot tub we'd installed that summer. Yup, Quinn Vere was all set.
But even after I realized my mistake, I still didn't really think I'd lose the house. After all, I'd bought it, paid for it and dumped enough money into the renovations to fund a small country or two. For his part, Quinn hadn't done anything so mundane as contribute financially. Even if he'd had a dime of his own, it would never have occurred to him. Instead, he'd wandered around with ba-gua charts and talked a lot about space and light and feng shui. He said we needed a welcoming house. Silly me. I didn't realize he wanted to welcome every guy in the tri state area.
Unknowingly I'd given him every opportunity. Like I said, I was gone a lot, traveling for my job as an expansion analyst for a multinational conglomerate that was particularly fond of Central and South American locations that featured peasants who'd work for almost nothing and no pesky environmental regulations. Quinn didn't have that kind of job. Or any job, for that matter. Quinn was an artiste, a painter; though what the hell he painted was a mystery to me. Every time I got near the studio I'd added on (cedar and southern exposure, and a couch that folded out to a bed) he'd scream and tell me he wasn't ready to show anyone his work.
This sounds like I was the biggest dope in the world, but I had seen some of his stuff, that's how we met. Quinn drew caricatures, really witty little sketches that he'd do at parties and give them out to friends - or enemies - of his victims. And even though they could be cruel, they were so funny. And he was so charming. Of course, everyone wanted him to do one of them.
But that's all he ever did. The paintings he talked about, the sculptures he planned, never materialized and after a while I realized they probably never would. I was disappointed, but I figured what the hell. I made a very good living, and if he wanted to stay home and be a househusband it didn't matter to me.
Then came the twins.
I took him to court. I had all the legal papers, the bills, the check stubs with my signature. All Quinn had was that damned deed and photographs of an empty studio that he said was the only way he could now support himself. He also claimed that I'd insisted that he stay home. That my job and my hours had made me worry about the amount of time the house would be empty if he found other (any) employment. He cried when he told the judge that it hurt his pride to have to live off me, but he'd done it because I'd begged him too. It was laughable. My attorney told me it was going to be piece of cake.
It was cake all right. Sponge cake, and Quinn used it to soak up everything he could. The house, half my assets and the little BMW he'd just had to have. I'd only made 3 payments on it before the Hardy Boys showed up in my bed. I even had to pay the court costs. Sometimes I think Quinn must have fucked the judge. After the last court day, he took fifty of his nearest and dearest out on a chartered yacht and celebrated. I know he'd done most of them.
Once again, I was finishing up my story to Lenore, and bless her heart, she was still awake. "You know, I really don't care about Quinn anymore. I mean, sure I'd enjoy hearing how his dick fell off. And maybe if he could develop a terminal case of anal warts..."
"It would only be fair," Lenore agreed quickly, nodding when she was expected to, but concentrating on that damn cat of hers. "Sweet Oscar," she called him. Sweet Oscar hated me, because I knew him for what he was. The Devil's Own. Oscar stretched and jumped down, looked me over like I was something in his box, and flipped me off with his tale.
"Exactly," I smiled mistily, this was always the part that really choked me up. Thinking of all that lost money always had that effect. "But really, it's the house I miss. Damn, I just loved that house."
"I know sweetie, that's why I want you to try these new herbs and this spell. I've been doing some research and..."
"Oh God, Lenore, don't you ever give up with that stuff?"
She shook her head, "Not when I know it will make you feel so much better. Lot's better than that glass of scotch you're sucking on. Especially in the morning." She stood up and dug into the pocket of her jeans. "Here's the address of a shop. I want you to go over there and ask for Abigail Williams, she's the woman I've been talking to about this." She fixed those gold eyes on my baby blues and squinted as she took on a warning tone. "She's very nice and quite knowledgeable, and you better be polite to her. Don't be yourself. She won't think much of some smart ass who thinks Magick means pulling a rabbit out of a hat."
I'd heard this before, and I caught that thin smile on her lips. "I get it now. Someone got an eye for a bit of new carpet?"
I'd wondered what brought on this sudden concern for my happiness. Usually Lenore thought it was enough to just listen to me moan once or twice a day. She'd even stopped offering me the weed tea after the first week. But Lenore was a dyke with a sexual appetite for women that almost rivaled Quinn's for men, although she was a hell of a lot more honest and up front with her tricks than he was. So if she was trying to get the franchise on this Abigail woman...
I looked down at the card she'd handed me, and then I really did laugh. Salem's Odd Lots, it read, in big Gothic letters. Specialty Goods for the Special Arts was just below it. Something else, too, but hard to see. I could barely make it out, but I held the paper up to the light better and squinted. Hey, I'm in acquisitions, after all. You've got to check the fine print. A Loki International Company.
"God, you are so crude. Not everything is about sex." She shook her dark head and tried to look disgusted, but I knew her too well to miss the predatory gleam that had come into those funky eyes.
"Yeah, that's what this is all about," I smirked. "You want to snack on some new Berber and you're using me as a way to get this chick to come around with her samples."
She flipped me the finger and went into the kitchen to whip up a little tofu Wellington and that was the end of the conversation. I jammed the card back in my pocket and forgot about Salem's Odd Lots and didn't think of it again until three days later when I stopped off at TheaTrix, which claimed to be a theatrical supply company, although God knows how they made ends meet out here. If there was any theatre in the area, I didn't know about it. But apparently they had no qualms about offering up their inventory for the holiday season. I'd called around in desperation, because I'd put Halloween off like I put off everything these days, and finally came across it in the yellow pages. A woman by the name of Elizabeth Parris said she had something that would be perfect for me.
"You don't even know my size," I'd growled at her.
"Trust me," she'd said, and hung up. I copied the address and wondered why it sounded familiar. I drove across town to get there and the door was locked. I swore. Then I saw a note taped to the door with my name on it. "Turn left. See Abigail at SOL. She's waiting for you." The initials said EP.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sign with an arrow that said Salem's Odd Lots and pointed down an alley. At first, I couldn't remember why I knew that name, but then it came back to me. I wasn't going to stop, but then I'd remembered all the nice things Lenore had done for me in the last year and thought fuck it. And I did need that costume. I'd go see Lenore's little girlfriend and try and push the course of true lust a little farther along the path. Sure I didn't believe in all those herbs and spells and crap, but it wouldn't hurt either and it would make Lenore happy.
I walked into the alley. Jesus, it was cold suddenly. The sun had been out, but as I stepped in between the two tall old buildings that flanked the entrance it went behind a cloud and an icy wind swirled up from my feet and found it's way to the back of my neck. I shivered and looked for the store so I could get away from it.
It was pretty gloomy in that alley and at first I couldn't see much. I heard the sign more than saw it. A metal plaque that hung on a rod set at right angles over the door. It screeched as the wind caught it, the sound like fingernails on a blackboard. Automatically I walked over and reached up to hold it and it was then that I saw it was the place I was looking for.
I tried to look inside through the door but there was a drape over the window so I gave it up and opened the thing. It opened silently and I walked into a room that looked to be even darker than the alley. My eyes struggled to adjust and my nose twitched with the urge to sneeze from the strong smell of dust and mold and incense. But I was beginning to be able to see and the place looked clean enough, just your average New Age shop with lots of old books and shelves packed with jars and plastic bags full of weird plants and big brown pills an elephant would have trouble swallowing. Yeah, it looked normal; at least there was nothing there that I could see to explain to me why the whole place gave me the creeps.
"Can I help you?"
"Shit!" I jumped and turned in midair to face the female with the low voice that seemed to whisper right in my ear.
I looked up. And kept on looking. This had to be the tallest woman I'd ever seen outside of the WBA. I'm not short at 6 feet, but she had me beat by at least 4 or 5 inches. She was pretty though, maybe sexy, too, if you're into that side of things, which I definitely am not. She had wild, curly strawberry blonde hair that hung down to her ass and the long flowery dress she wore enforced the image of gypsy's and crystal balls. Her eyes were blue, but dark, almost purple, and they weren't cruel, but they weren't kind either. She looked at me like she was taking stock and the results were somewhat less than impressive.
I cleared my throat, "Are you Abigail?"
"Yes. And you, I think, are Arthur Moineau..." she said with an appraising look. "I've been expecting you."
My eyes widened and I grinned, "Of course... Lenore must have told you I'd be stopping by."
This made her almost smile, "Well, something like that." She nodded and then turned and glided away until she disappeared into the gloom of one of the back corners of the shop.
I stood there feeling disturbed and slightly foolish. Was it my breath, or did Lenore forget to give me the secret password? Then I realized something. I hadn't known I was going to come here, so how the hell had Lenore told this woman to expect me? "Dummy," I told myself. "It was Elizabeth Parris who told her."
It must have been five minutes that I waited for the mysterious Ms Williams to return. After the first couple, I forced myself to wander around and take a look at the place. I wasn't interested, you understand, I just thought I'd look less ridiculous if I pretended I was actually doing something besides waiting for the wicked witch of the Midwest to grace me with her presence.
There wasn't much to see unless you're seriously into paganism. This was the real deal for it if you were, though, even I could see that. This was nothing like those stores at the malls that had cute names like Do You Believe in Magick? and sold cute candles in the shape of dragons and hocked genuine bee pollen for men, with signs saying it was guaranteed to make your stinger bigger. This shop didn't go in for cute. If it carried bee pollen at all, you'd find it in little baggies, with hand-printed labels that had no instructions, the inference being, I presume, if you didn't know how to use it then you had no business buying it.
The books were equally as obscure. They were piled in odd corners with no thought to organization, at least as far as I could see, and cheap paperbacks were squashed between books that looked like they'd been around when witch burning held the same fascination that Monday Night Football does now. There was one that caught my eye, way up on the top shelf, a real page-turner called The Trials of 1692: The Question Comes to New England. But it had an interesting leather cover and I've always liked old books so I stretched my arm up to the shelf to take it down. Instead my hand brushed something that felt hard and scaly.
"What the hell?" I snatched my hand back and tentatively looked up. It was a stuffed bird. A small owl, actually.
"Where the fuck did you come from?" I muttered to it idiotically. I could have sworn it wasn't there when I'd first seen the book.
A shaft of weak light made it's way through a cracks of the curtain and as I watched, it seemed to aim for the owl's eyes and made them glow. I stared at it, mesmerized, and then horrified as those eyes slowly blinked at me. Involuntarily I backed up and might have kept on going if I hadn't bumped into something soft and warm.
"Dammit!" I shouted, and turned to see Abigail Williams once again standing directly in back of me.
"You know, you swear too much," she said calmly.
"And you should wear a bell," I muttered.
She ignored me and handed me a paper bag full of light and crunchy things. I looked in - herbs, lots of them.
"These should help you, ask Lenore for help if you don't know how to use them properly," the look on Abigail's face told me she didn't think there was a chance in hell that I did.
"Okay," I agreed meekly. "How much do I owe you?"
"Holy shit! I had no idea it would cost this much!"
She sniffed, "Money is never a way to judge the true price of anything."
"It is when the VISA bill comes," I grumbled and shook my head, but dug my hand into my wallet until I located the little piece of plastic I never leave home without and handed it to her. She disappeared again, but not for so long and when she came back she had two packages in her arms.
"Here," she gave me the charge receipt, then the larger of the two packages. "Miss Parris says this is for you. She said you could discuss the price later."
I picked up the small package. My costume, I supposed. What did she save for me, underwear? "And I don't quite know where this came from," she continued, "but this seems to be for you, too." She said, handing me the second package.
It was a book, I could tell right away, a trade paperback of some sort. "What is it?" I asked suspiciously and added. "And how much?"
Abigail shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. I guess Lenore must have called back and gotten Luke, the new guy. And it says no charge."
I looked again; it did indeed. I said my goodbyes and left the shop. It was getting dark and the place was unsettling enough without that added touch of atmosphere.
I walked into the kitchen and dumped out the contents of the paper bag. Ugh! Most of it looked like the stuff that had been growing under the back porch at my old, sigh, house when I'd had it torn down. I picked up the other package and started to unwrap it. The first rip told me what it was or at least what kind of book my oh-so-funny roommate had decided I couldn't live without.
Wicca For Dummies, the yellow lettering on the black background blared out at me. Includes Software!!!, was what the red sticker on the corner of the front page added. Sure enough, inside the back cover was a cellophane envelope with a CD showing in the inside. "Warning," it said on the outside, "PC's only, not compatible with Macs. We don't do apples any more!"
I sighed at this bad joke and loaded the disc in my computer, then sat back until my screen flickered.
Wicca For Dummies
® A Loki International Company
Immediately after I read it another screen popped up and as usual there was the license agreement demanding to be read and ticked off before it would go any further. I checked it without bothering to scroll through and started the installation process. That only took a couple of minutes to finish and register, then I started to browse.
I scrolled through endless love potions and a how-to-get-that-promotion-you've-been-wanting spells. I flipped through the screens quickly. So quickly in fact, that I had to back up when I finally saw something that caught my eye.
For a personalized consultation, click here for the Wizard.
I wonder how this works? I thought, eyeing the silver pentacle that appeared on the screen. How the hell do you get a personalized consultation on a closed system? Ah, hell. There must be some sort of interface that would make things easier to find. I clicked the silver star, waiting for the screen to change.
Well, things changed all right, and suddenly I wasn't sitting in front of my monitor any more. I was on the opposite side of the room, on the floor. My chair was turned over. I rubbed the back of my head and sure enough, there was a lump. It didn't take much to figure that if I looked, I'd see the outline of the back of my head dented into the wallboard. Plus I had a tingling sensation throughout my body. There was a smell, too, and I sat up and looked at my computer. Where there used to be a self-configured 2 gig P4 system, I saw a pile of melted plastic, wires, and what might have once been printed circuit boards. The monitor wasn't much better. I didn't know 21" tubes could melt, but that one did.
"Sorry," came a voice with an odd accent from my left. "We didn't think there'd be any issues with an XP system. I guess we were wrong."
I snapped my head around, my eyes wide. He wasn't tall, maybe around 5'9" or so. He was a looker, too. Fine bones, strong features... and the most arresting blue eyes I'd ever seen. God, they made Elizabeth Taylor in her prime look washed out. And the hair. A lot of it, hanging beyond the shoulders, untied. Pure black, almost blue in this light. He held out a hand and took mine. His fingers were like ice and I snatched it back and struggled to my feet.
"Who the fuck are you?"
He shrugged and smiled. "You clicked for the wizard, didn't you? Well, here I am."
"Uh-huh. Look, tell the Voodoo Queen I'm not buying it, okay? And whatever you guys did with my computer, well, that was about sixteen hundred bucks. Not to mention what I had on the hard drive."
He smiled. "Forty gigs of mpegs featuring men screwing men... priceless, I guess."
I blushed. I also wondered how they'd gotten through my encryption, but that didn't matter right now. I struggled to my feet. "Now, seriously, who are you? And why are you here?"
He shrugged, and brushed off his long red robe. "Maybe a name would help, since you won't accept me as the wizard. Call me... Emery. Emery Merryl. You might say I'm a special acquisitions consultant for Loki International, and I'm here to help. You wanted to place a curse on someone, didn't you?"
I pursed my lips and looked at him, standing there in his full-length red robe trimmed with gold. He was a damn fine looking guy, I can say that. The eyes, the face... and oh God, I could see he had that slender build that always gets me hot and bothered. Slender, narrow wasted... oh, and I knew the legs were long and lean. They had to be the kind you liked wrapped around your neck, the ankles locked together. He cleared his throat again and I snapped out of the spell I'd fallen into.
I raised an eyebrow and tried to bring it back to business. Damn, why couldn't he wear a doublet and some tight hose?
"Hose is cold this time of year, even if it does show what I've got quite nicely," he said in that odd accent of his again. "And it does show, quite nicely, Sparrow."
I looked up. I know I hadn't said anything out loud. Did he read minds? "Sparrow?"
"Yes, I do read minds, so be careful. Sparrow now, that's what your name translates to from French. And I do so like stripping away the French overtones... Mallory got quite carried away sometimes," he chuckled at some secret joke. I didn't have a clue what the hell he was talking about, and he picked up on that quick enough and he cleared his throat. "Right, back to business. Well, Loki International would like to enter into an agreement with you. You want a curse, and we've got an assortment. What will it be? I believe you mentioned warts once. That's do-able, but rather... banal. Did you have something a bit more colorful in mind? We know you don't hold back much around your lost Lenore, but perhaps you had something better in mind."
I pictured Quinn in a sling being tortured... but hell; he'd probably get into it. I thought it over. I wanted something painful... not physical perhaps, but something that would rip him to pieces inside and fester in him. Whatever it was, I'd be willing to pay, and pay well for it. "I want my house back," I said. "And I want him to suffer. I'll sign everything else over to you. Just name what you want."
Emery raised an eyebrow. "Payment is already arranged, Sparrow. Loki International only has one interest in you, and it's already taken care of. I mean, you agreed to the terms of the software, didn't you? You checked off the "I agree" window? Of course you did, I wouldn't be here if you hadn't. And a smart businessman would have made sure to read a licensing agreement, wouldn't he? I have an idea or two about your Mr. Vere. Trust me, Sparrow."
As he said this, Emery began to wander around the room. Finally he came across the second package from Salem's Odd Lots. "Ah, I see Elizabeth made sure you got the package. Good girls, the misses Parris and Williams. They work hard for Loki. But then, they have a fierce debt to work off," he said, and tore the package open. He pulled out a flimsy white thing. "Just right. Your costume, Sparrow." He held it out to me.
It looked like a slip, just a long one. But it wasn't light and lacey. It was rough wool, bleached God knew how, and coarse. I thought of it rubbing against my skin. I didn't much like the thought.
"I'm not wearing that," I said with finality.
Emery Merryl tut-tutted me. Yeah, that what he said, "Tut-Tutt." I always thought that was something you read in bad novels. Somehow it sounded natural coming out of him. "You are asking a favor from the gods. When you ask a god for something, he expects some sort of show of sacrifice. A little rash beats the hell out of the blood of your first born... which isn't too likely in your case. Or tithing a huge chunk of your income, either. All we ask is a show of penitence and humility. The white wool is traditional. And it's not that thick and heavy, either." I looked at it and him. We waited. Finally he shrugged. "Well, I guess we could call the whole thing off."
He didn't bother to pretend to fold it, just stood there with it dangling. He knew he had me. He'd known it from the beginning. I shucked off my clothes and started pulling the scratchy material over my head.
"Ahem," he said to get my attention, and pointed down. "The little things, too. All of them."
I stood, the white robe half way over my chest. "What, my socks?"
He huffed. "No. Silly. Those white things. The body should be free, after all. Properly speaking, you should be sky-clad for this, but given the season and your age-"
"My age? I'm only 34! And what's this sky clad stuff?""
"True, but when was the last time you did more than click a remote? Believe me, sky-clad is not the route for you. It means naked. You're not that bad, but... well. Besides, it'll save us both some time later if you don't have them on."
I kicked off my Calvin's. I wasn't sure what he meant by saving us time later, but I had my hopes. Even after the crack about the remote. "What kind of accent is that, anyway? It sounds English and German at the same time."
He smiled again, showing me a row of fine white teeth. "It's both and neither, I suppose," he said, placing a white cap on my head, similar to a yarmulke, except it was large enough to sit on the top of the head, not the back of it. "I've spent simply ages in Wales. I guess it's from there."
"Wales? Weird place. How'd you wind up there?"
Emery winked one of those night-blue eyes at me. "I guess you might say the company had me buried under a mountain of work. Loki International has a strange way of doing some things."
I wanted to ask him what the hell Loki International was. On the one hand it sounded like a modern company. But what kind of company deals in spells and wizards?
"The kind of company you should be very careful of when you make a deal, Sparrow," he said coolly, turning away. Just the way he said it sent a shiver through me. "Wear your shoes. Barefoot would be best and proper, but you new folk are suck babies about things like that. Now hurry. You have company."
The doorbell rang. I looked in the mirror one more time. "Still looks like a damn slip to me!" I bitched, then went to answer the bell.
"Arthur!" it said. Or rather, Gavin said. Gavin Wayne, all 6' 4", 250 pounds of him, stood there in a perfect replica of Marilyn Monroe's gown from the Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This would have been a showstopper all on it's own but for the blonde wig hanging to the left and one boob askew to the right. It didn't take too close a look to see the heavy makeup couldn't quite hide his five o'clock shadow. And then he smiled at me...
"Holy fuck!" I stumbled backwards instinctively. "What the hell are you supposed to be?"
"Dragula, of course," he roared in his Harvey Fierstien voice. He smiled again to show off the inch long incisors that seemed to already drip blood. "And sweetie, you should talk. At least I got all the way dressed." He looked over my Night of Penance robe and grimaced. "Darlin', nobody wears slips anymore." He rubbed the material and winced. "And if they do, they don't make it out of sandpaper."
"I told you this would happen," I said, turning to glare at Emery.
Gavin looked puzzled. "Sweetie, you didn't tell me nuthin'. Last time I talked to you, you said you'd probably cut some holes in a sheet and go as Casper." He looked me over. "Which, um, might be a better idea."
"Are you going to come over here so we can go?" I said to Emery.
"Well sure," Gavin answered again, this time looking even more confused. "But since I'm in the doorway, I thought you might come to me."
Now it was my turn to look confused.
"He can't see me," Emery explained calmly. "At least, not yet. It's a lot of work to make a nonbeliever see, and I have to conserve my energy. Besides, it's supposed to be a private consultation, Sparrow. Read the license in your software agreement, Arthur. It's for a single user. Like I said, always check the fine print."
I shook my head. God, I so wanted to wake up from this insanity.
Emery pushed off from the wall he'd been leaning on and smiled. "Don't worry, I'll just tag along quietly."
"Yeah, whatever..." I grumbled.
"Don't be in such a snit, okay?" Gavin wobbled his head and then adjusted his wig after it slid down on his left ear... again. "God, you've been the bitch of death for months. I hope you don't think I'm going to hang around you all night once we get to Tom and Terry's if you keep this up."
"Sorry," I said trying to soothe him. I looked at Emery and narrowed my eyes. "I have some issues I'm trying to work out."
"That's okay, Arthur," Gavin smiled again and I shuddered. "I understand, this is going to be a tough one. You haven't actually seen Quinnie since that day in court, have you?"
I closed one eye and twisted my lips. "You mean the day he stole my life from me? No, I haven't."
Gavin opened his mouth to say something, but at that moment the door was flung open and Lenore swirled in. She was wearing her Samhaim finery. A long, black silk opera cape, and under it a brocaded gold flowing gown.
"Well, well," Gavin grinned at her. "If it isn't our very own Queen of the Damned."
"You can knock that shit off," she frowned at him. "I don't believe in Hell, so how could I be its queen? Besides, you're the only damned queen I see in here. And have you thought about seeing a dentist for that overbite?"
"Very funny," he shrugged. "So, have you changed your mind? Are you going to dump those stuffy old witches and go with us to Tommy and Terry's for
some real Halloween fun?"
Lenore shook her head wearily. "You know, if I didn't understand the level of your ignorance, I'd be insulted." Lenore smiled sweetly. "Tonight is Samhaim, the last night of the year. The earth sleeps, and we must set it gently to bed. Halloween is a Christian perversion of something sacred. How would you like it if I invited you to an orgy on Christmas Day?"
Gavin pushed his tits up in a vain attempt to get them even again. "Let's see. A day with my family, or an orgy? Ooooo, I'd say you name the place and I'd be there. Even if you're part of the package."
Lenore sighed, and invoked the sky theatrically, "Why do I bother? Why must I always walk among the heathens?"
"I am not a heathen, Endorra. I am a Catholic," Gavin said archly, and slid his hands seductively down his dress in bad parody of Marilyn. "Twelve years of parochial school, both an altar and choir boy. And this is how you turn out."
She looked him over in the dress. "Gee, the Pope must be so proud."
"Especially when I told him I'd help with his makeup," Gavin snickered, wandering towards the living room. "Arthur? Do what ever you and the Witchy Woman got to do so we can go. God, what'll I do in this thing when I have to pee?"
"Just aim it straight up and take a warm shower, honey... just pretend you're on a regular date." Lenore scored her parting point and started to walk towards the kitchen then stopped and looked at me. Or rather, by me. "Who's your friend?"
"Huh?" I said stupidly.
"Your friend," she said, and pointed at Emery. Her eyes flashed. It wasn't a happy look. "That guy... who is he?"
"I thought you said nobody could see you?" I whispered without moving my lips.
"I said nonbelievers couldn't see me," he corrected me softly.
Lenore was staring hard at Emery, "I know you," she said, and their eyes locked.
"Gavin will you go warm the car up?" I interrupted.
"Why? I just drove it here."
"Please," I looked at him hard in the face. "I need to talk to Lenore. Alone."
"Oh, okay, but hurry up!" Gavin teetered out on his size 13 heels and slammed the door behind him.
I turned to find Lenore staring at Emery. From the looks of it she definitely didn't like what she saw.
"What's going on here?" She said quietly, never taking her eyes of my new friend. "This isn't right..."
I saw Emery's lips move, and his hands caress the air, and the lowest of sounds was around me, a buzzing. God, it was annoying. I turned to tell him to knock it off, but he brushed past me quickly and made it to Lenore and caught her, just as she collapsed.
"What the hell have you done?!" I hissed.
"Relax," he grinned back at me as he half carried, half drug my limp roommate over to the couch. "She's just taking a little nap. She'll be fine in about 20 minutes. And best of all, she won't remember a thing."
"Okay, that's it!" I ran my fingers through my hair. "I don't know what you did to her, but if she isn't perfectly okay..."
"She is," Emery walked over and ran his hands down my arms. I shivered from the icy contact. "Trust me on this. I promise. If you call her in twenty minutes, you'll see she'll be fine."
"She better be or I'll, I'll..." What could I threaten him with? He was already dead, for God's sake. Well, he was cold anyway, and a corpse is cold, right? He breathed, though. I could see his chest rise and fall.
I walked over to Lenore and knelt down beside her. She did look okay. Her breathing was nice, and even and as I watched, a smile played over her face and she sighed contentedly. I looked back at Emery, still not sure how to deal with him after this.
He smiled. "I gave her a good dream. Michelle Geller and all the women from Sex in the City. She's a happy girl right now."
I got up and went and got my coat. "Twenty minutes, and I'm calling."
He nodded and followed me out to the car.
The trip to Terry and Tommy's was uneventful. I never opened my mouth, just stared out the window as we traveled across town towards my old neighborhood.
Terry and Tommy-T `n' T- had been neighbors. Two old queens who'd lived in their Frank Lloyd Wright for almost thirty years, and talked about the bad old days when the neighborhood wasn't full of yuppies and gays who liked houses and hated kids and therefore didn't give a shit that the school system sucked. When Terry and Tommy moved in, most nights were filled with sirens and the occasional gunfire. Nobody left their cars in the streets if they wanted to keep their radios and tires. But that was a long time ago. When I bought my house almost 10 years before it was the only place left on the block that hadn't already been renovated.
We drove past it now and I sighed as I looked at the Creamsicle color scheme. I felt a hand on my shoulder and Emery's head next to mine as he whispered, "Yours?"
I nodded and he squeezed me a little bit in sympathy.
We finally found a parking space a block and a half away from the party. This was always a huge bash. Tom and Terry invited half the city and everyone that lived in a twelve block radius just to insure no unscheduled appearances by the police. That's the main reason Quinton was still on the guest list. T 'n T couldn't stand him after what he'd pulled on me, they barely tolerated him before that, but they knew he was just slime enough to call the boys in blue if he didn't get his usual invite.
Gavin set the break and started to crawl out of the car. I tried to follow, but Emery had kept his hand on my shoulder and now it was keeping me in place.
"Well come on," Gavin tugged on his boob and looked at me impatiently.
"I need to speak with you first," Emery told me.
"I'll be along in a minute," I told Gavin and then when he didn't look like he was buying it, I added. "I think I need a minute."
Immediately Gavin's face softened. "That's okay sweetie, take all the time you need." He threw the keys at me. "Just lock up when you get out. Last year I forgot and two guys used my backseat and the seat belts as their own private sling. Took me weeks to get the stains out of the upholstery."
I waited until he was out of sight before turning to face Emery. "Okay, what's so important?"
"A couple of things, actually. But first, why don't you get back here out of the light?"
He had a point. The streetlight illuminated the front, but not the back seat of the car. I decided it would be easier just to crawl over the seat, but I'd forgotten the last time I'd actually done that had been when I was about 12 and foot shorter than I am now.
It started out okay, but then my coat got caught on the headrest and I found myself sort of just hanging there with my arms pinned behind me. Emery leaned forward and tried to help, but it wasn't until my coat finally gave into the strain of my full weight that I came free. It was so sudden I fell flat on Emory, pushing him down until he was almost off the bench seat and jammed into the area that's never big enough for your feet.
"Sorry," I muttered, embarrassed.
"Perfectly alright," he protested and I realized from the growing bulge that he was pushing into my hip that he was telling the truth.
Even more surprising was the interest my own dick was taking in this close encounter. Yes, Emery was gorgeous, but he was also cold, to touch I mean, and that was not the kind of kink that usually turned me on. Although now that I was thinking about it, I realized that while he wasn't exactly toasty next to my skin, he was significantly warmer now than when I'd first made his acquaintance.
"It's similar to being cold blooded," he answered my thoughts. "Except it's not temperature that warms me, it's human contact."
That sounded a little creepy and I shivered involuntarily.
"I don't mean that I'm stealing your warmth, Sparrow," he sounded almost hurt. "But I can absorb the heat that radiates off mortals."
"So the more people you're around, the more your body temperature goes up?"
"That's part of it," Emery grinned and wiggled his hips.
I grinned back. "And what's the rest of it?"
"If you'll get off of me, I could show you."
I pushed off him as best I could and found myself sprawled over the backseat, the skirt of my slip, robe, whatever now somewhere around my waist.
Emery sat up gracefully and smiled at me. "Oh good, you're all prepared."
"Huh?? Umph!" I gasped as he flicked up my robe and dove face down into my lap.
His mouth was warm, no hot, on my cock though his lips were still cool. This caused an amazing combination of sensations that left me wide eyed and moaning.
"Oh god that feels wonderful, don't stop, don't stop..." I babbled over and over.
I don't know if he heard me but he kept on going sucking and swirling until he made my toes curl. He did stop once, but only to grab my legs and pull me down further onto the seat. Then he wrapped my ankles around his neck and got back to business.
"Mmmm," he murmured when he came up for air. "I have missed this."
For the first time since he'd started I remembered that this guy was not exactly like anybody else I'd met. Ghost, ghoul, the un-dead, whatever you wanted to call it, that's what he was. A guest fiend for a Buffy episode. For all I knew this was the part where he bites my neck and drains me dry of blood. One thing for sure, he was going to drain me of something, and damn soon, but it wasn't going to be exiting out of my neck.
"Oh God, oh God, I'm coming!!!!" I announced to that deity, Emery and about seven square blocks of my old neighborhood.
Emory seemed delighted with the news. He kept his mouth right where it was and swallowed every drop.
A few minutes later my brain started to reconnect to my body and I realized that he was resting his head on my belly. I stoked his head for a moment until I realized that something was different, very different.
It was true. And not only warm, but sweating.
He looked up at me lazily. "Yes, thanks to you."
"I don't understand."
He sighed and in between licks and kisses he began to explain. "You ever read Ann Rice?"
"No, but I saw that movie. And how do you know about Ann Rice?"
Emery rolled his eyes. "Just because I've was buried doesn't mean I don't keep up. You have a lot of time on your hands when you're immortal. For instance, I can name all the members of the Supreme Court, can you?"
"People like you," he said sternly. "Are the reason the US had another Bush for president."
"Yeah, yeah, we'll talk politics later, I want to know what just happened here."
"I thought that was obvious. You had a marvelous blow job and I received a gift of your Essence."
"What?" I wasn't sure I liked the sound of that.
He sighed like I was stupid, and to him I guess he was. "Your semen, spunk, cum, seed, splooge, whatever you want to call it. For me it is the Essence of Life, the component I need to complete my metamorphosis into human form. Like Ms Rice's vampires, I require a bodily fluid from a human to be alive. It's just not blood."
My heart pounded and my lips were dry as I forced myself to ask the next question. "Does that mean I'm dead now?"
"Do you feel dead?"
I thought about that. I felt drained, sated and maybe exhausted, but definitely not dead. I shook my head.
"Smart boy," Emory winked. "I may be a succubus, but I'm not greedy. Think of what you gave me as the fount of life. And I just took a few sips."
I relaxed and grinned back at him. "Well, feel free to guzzle some more later!" I pulled on his shoulders until his eyes met mine. I lightly kissed his warm and oh-so-talented lips. "And maybe now I'll return the favor."
"No!" He was off of me in a flash.
I looked at him, shocked. "Why not? Aren't I good enough for you to share your own little elixir?"
"Oh, Sparrow," he sighed and leaned in to gently stroke my cheek. "If you knew how much I wanted..."
He broke off abruptly and turned away from me. His words sounded so sad, so full of pain and longing I couldn't stop myself from reaching for him.
"Hey, it's okay. You don't want to do that, I understand."
He stiffened then relaxed in my arms. "Actually, I don't think you do," he took a deep breath before continuing and when he spoke again his voice was matter of fact. "Really, Sparrow, when you installed the program, you should have read that license agreement. What I take from you gives me life, but if you were to the same for me, it would give you the opposite."
"Death?" I whispered, suddenly scared.
"No," he shook his head and turned to look at me solemnly. "Even worse. Eternity. It would make you immortal."
"That doesn't sound so bad."
"Trust me, it's not what you think."
He was silent after that and even though I asked more questions he just shook his head and said we needed to get into the party. He opened the car door and got out and reluctantly I followed.
We entered the house, and we entered another world.
Now, I don't know how they celebrate Halloween where you're from, but let me explain to you what it is to a gay man. This is that one night of the year we can kick back and explore every fantasy that ever came into our minds. They could be grand ladies at the Sun King's palace at Versailles, or fantastical dragon slayers from the Age of Myths. You can parade through the streets, and no one thinks of more than just how good the costume looks. The only limit on what you can do is the amount of cash in your bank account, or at least what's left on your Visa card credit. Imagination is everything. Common sense is out the window.
I mean, I'd driven here with a 250 pound Marilyn Monroe who needed a shave, right? And so what that maybe you'll see a Krull the Conqueror with a beer gut but what the hell. It still looked better than a fifty-something with a drinking problem and delusions about his image trying to dress and act like a twenty-something at a bar on Saturday night. This was a night of fantasy, and as my eyes played over the crowd of demons and fairies and Caesars with their Cleopatras I felt foolish. Here in all this splendor I stood in a damn white night dress looking like a doddering Queen Victoria after nine o'clock at Balmoral Castle. I felt like the token breeder at the Pride Day party.
Emery, of course, fit right in with his red robes, and people asked if he was a Cardinal or the Red Death come to call. "Doctor Faustus," he'd say with a smile, and do a trick. Yeah, tricks. He snatched things out of the air like a magician, and handed them to the guests who stopped us. They loved him and ignored me. Except one guy who made a very delicious looking tart... the type of tart in a dress. Nineteenth century tart to be precise.
"Sauron?" he asked.
I stood there blinking, looking as stupid as I felt. What was a sore-on? Was it anything like a hard-on'? I wasn't sore. And thanks to Emery, it would be a while until I was hard again.
"Your costume, silly. Are you Sauron from the Tower? You know, the Lord of the Rings. One of the wizards that goes evil. I mean, it was only the movie last year. He duked it out with Ewan MacGregor in his tower at Isinglass or something."
"More like Lady MacBeth cursing the blood spots," came a familiar foghorn voice beside me. I turned and saw Gavin, handing me a drink. I spotted Emery a few feet away creating roses out of the air for pair of fine looking boys dressed as a devil and an angel. The angel wore a powder blue Speedo and a halo, tiny white wings pasted to his back somehow. The devil had a red Speedo and a pair of horns. Nice costumes, I thought. No expense spared. Of course, with their bodies you didn't need much more. I rubbed my middle and felt grateful for the loose gown.
Gavin looked at my companion. "Who are you, Mary Kelley? Go find Jack, you. I've got your number, and this one doesn't have to pay." My tart scattered. Gavin shook his head. "Jesus, how'd that one get in here? T `n' T would have a fit if they found they had a hustler working the party. Oh, and speaking of sluts, guess who's here?"
I took a deep slug from my glass. Scotch on the rock. Gavin always felt that more than one ice cube was a waste of space. "I can guess. What's he here as, the Queen of Death?"
"Uh-uh," Gavin answered. "He's already that, and you're supposed to come in costume... not that you'd know anything about that. He's over there with his latest Gym Bunny, Lenny Lancer or something. He's a dancer at Machine, that new bar in town." Gavin sniffed. "Probably Mary Kelley's room mate. They'll both do almost anything for a few bucks."
I raised an eyebrow, keeping a careful eye on Emery, who just lit a cigarette by looking at it. "You seem to know a lot about him."
Gavin shrugged and his boobs shifted again, pointing out and away from him in opposite directions. "I'm two-hundred fifty pounds, dear, and I've got `Sister' written all over my substantial ass in pink lipstick. Unless I want to go to the Bear Party at Nero's on Chubby night, a few bucks can get you a lot of satisfaction. A few more and they'll tell you how good you are after." He looked around, smiled, and pointed. "There they are."
I saw the Gym Bunny first, a young body builder type in a Spandex Superman outfit. Even in his prime Christopher Reeve would have been no match for this guy. And my eye told me that wasn't a pair of sox in his trunks, either. Next to him was Quinn, shorter but looking fine and trim as ever. For someone who never seemed to do anything more than arm curls with a glass of gin in his hand, he always looked good. Tonight was no exception. Green hose, the kind I wanted to see Emery in earlier, and a green doublet with a long, pointed collar. The doublet was open, exposing his chest. On his head a green cap with a red feather to match his red boots.
I felt a pang. Quinn had one of those faces chiseled out of granite. If he could remember lines, he could have been a leading man. If he could read, he'd have made it with a teleprompter. True, there was some make-up hiding the lines under the eyes. Quinn was only thirty now, but he loved that bronzed look in the summer, claimed it set off his blue eyes. Maybe it did, but it was aging the rest of him pretty quick. I'd heard a rumor that he was seeing a plastic surgeon, and planned a little "vacation" at a spa right after New Years, so he'd be all set for summer again. Dear Quinn wasn't about to move into his third decade without a fight.
"Who's he supposed to be? Robin Hood?"
Gavin snorted. "Hell, no. Don't you know Peter Pansy when you see him?
We both watched him as he gave a quick grope to the man of steel and then made his way over to the bar. Gavin then got distracted by a Lone Ranger who was packing way more than a six-shooter.
"Ooooo," he rasped. "I wonder if he shoots silver bullets?"
He drifted away then, probably to see if the guy wanted to get in a little target practice with Gavin's ass as the bull's-eye. Emery came up behind me, rested his head on my shoulder and spread his cape to envelop both of us. The heat radiated off him and warmed my cold legs. I remembered how he'd gotten his furnace started and blushed.
"Hello," he said. "How are you doing?"
"Just fine," I leaned back into him. "Did you see who's arrived?"
He looked in the direction I was pointing. "Maybe you should introduce us?"
Talking to Quinn again was something I'd just as soon pass on, at least in this lifetime. But Emery was already pressing me forward and before I could think of an excuse to back out of it, we were at the bar.
"Oh. Arthur." I was pleased to see he wasn't happy to see me either. "I didn't expect you to show up."
I raised my eyebrows and pretended I didn't have an overwhelming desire to knee him in the balls. "Why would you think that? These are, after all, my friends. And I was invited as a friend... not as a bribe to keep my mouth shut."
He flushed. It was a cheap shot, but it made me feel better. Quinn didn't have friends; just fuck buddies, though it had taken me a damn long time to figure that out. While I was thinking about this Quinn managed to pull himself together.
"Speaking of friends," he said. "Who's this?"
He was looking at Emery. No surprise of course. Emery was Grade A meat and Quinn was looking at him like a man starving for protein.
"This is Emery," I said like I was reluctant to give out the information. "Emery Merryl, and hands off."
The last bit sounded like a warning, but actually was more of a challenge. I knew the only thing Quinn liked better than a good-looking guy was a good-looking guy who belonged to somebody else. If I could make him think that I cared about Emery that just might be the thing to push him into making a play for him.
I was right. I could see the lights go on and the wheels start turning in that slutty little mind. Quinn was already running through the possibilities of how he could cut me out. I knew I should be happy about this, but instead I was surprised to find myself feeling a little sick. Maybe it hadn't been my great acting skills that had convinced him.
Emery squeezed me once and then moved away from me. "Hello, I don't believe I've made your acquaintance before?"
"Lucky you," I muttered, and then relented when Emery sent me a warning stare. "This is Quinton Vere, an old..." I stopped unable to put what I really wanted to say into words.
"How do you, Quinton?" Emery offered his hand and Quinton took it like he was reeling in a fish.
"Great, but my friends call me, Quinn."
"The rest of us just call him Queen," I snorted and then swore as Emery turned suddenly spilling the glass of red wine he'd been holding all down the front of me.
"Oh dear, how clumsy of me!" He had the nerve to wink. "Let me get you some club soda before the stain sets." He turned to the bar and tried to get the bartender's attention.
I narrowed my eyes at Quinn. "I mean it, back off."
He shrugged and laughed. "Artie," he knew how much I hated it when he called me that. "You don't own me anymore remember? You just have to keep up the payments. And the way that little trick was eyeing me, I'd say you don't own him at all."
The plans I'd made for revenge were forgotten now as I faced him. I didn't give a shit about Quinn anymore. He could fuck till his dick dropped off and he could keep the damn house and the car and everything else. But he couldn't have Emery.
"Listen you worthless scum sucking bastard..."
"All righty," Emery's chipper voice broke into my moment of truth. "Here you go Sparrow." He thrust a glass of club soda into my hand that wasn't clenched into a fist. "Off you go now."
"What?" He was sending me away?
"I said, it's time to toddle off. You need to find a loo to clean yourself up in."
"I can do it here," I said through clenched teeth. No way did I want to leave him alone with Quinn.
"No, I insist, that costume will have to come of if you want to get it really clean. And much as I'd enjoy it, I'm sure you don't want to strip in front of all these people."
"Yeah," Quinn laughed nastily. "Some of them have just eaten."
I never got to finish. Emery had taken my shoulders and shoved me away in the direction of the hall. I looked back at him in disbelief, but he'd already turned back to Quinn and they were laughing with their heads together. And as I watched, Emery reached behind Quinn's ear and pulled out a silver butterfly and handed it to him.
If I hadn't lived on the other side of town, I'd have left then and walked home. I knew that Emery was only doing what I'd told him I'd wanted, but that knowledge didn't make me feel one damn bit better. The thought of Emery and Quinn together, for whatever reason, made me ill.
I went into the bathroom and looked at the costume. I looked like I'd just gotten up from a nap at the Bates Motel. Fuck it, I'd just pay the 50 cents it would take TheaTrix to replace it.
I stood and looked at myself in the mirror. What kind of a schmuck was I? First, I'd let a two bit con artist like Quinn take most of my life's savings and all of my esteem and then I'd compounded all that by falling for a demon I'd somehow called forth to help me wreak revenge. How pathetic was that? I mean, it wasn't like we had any future together or anything.
I poured the club soda down the drain and went back to the party. By now it was almost midnight and the place was packed with drunken Shirley Temples and almost naked stud's. I bumped into a 6 foot bird who chirped angrily at me as I passed. I noticed that the guy was actually naked under about a thousand feathers that had painstakingly been glued on. Only trouble was the glue didn't seem to be holding and he was molting everywhere. Little piles of feathers made a trail and showed where he'd been at the party and already his back and ass were mainly exposed from guys touching him as he passed by. I'd have traded his problems for mine in a New York minute.
Gavin was standing by himself in a corner, glumly staring into his drink. I walked over to him.
"Hey, I thought you and the masked man had ridden Silver off into the sunset?"
"Nah," he shook his head sadly. "The guy was an asshole, said Marilyn never tripped his trigger. Can you believe that?"
I told him I couldn't and we stood there silently watching the parade pass us by. There was no sign of Quinn or Emery though I did see Superman wandering around looking lost.
Gavin must have seen too. "Looks like Lenny can't find his ride home."
"'Course, I can't really blame Quinn this time. Did you happen to get a look at the cutie he found? Jesus, there is no justice in the world."
"You'd be surprised," said a slightly accented voice from my left.
I turned to stare into Emery's beautiful blue eyes. "Having fun?" I said icily.
"No, not really," he spoke quietly, then looked past me and smiled sweetly at Gavin. "You must be my Sparrow's friend. He's told me all about you."
"Sparrow?" Gavin looked first at me and then at Emery. "Hmmm, he never said a word to me about you. Which I can understand"
Emery put his hand out. "Emery, Emery Merryl. Yes, Arthur and I are friends from a long way back. A very, long way back. Sparrow is just my little nickname for him, his last name you know."
"Look," I said interrupting. "Can we get out of here?"
"Sweetie," Gavin looked shocked. "It's not even midnight yet and you know T `n' T always put on a show at the stroke of twelve."
"Those two in lame gowns singing `Sisters' isn't a show. It's a goddam shame," I returned. I looked into Emery's night-blue eyes again and felt my heart sink. "I'm just not in the mood, Gavin," I responded quietly.
"It's okay. Gavin is it?" Emery cut in. "I'll go home with Sparrow, you should stay."
"Aw, it's okay," Gavin shrugged. "Not like anything is going to happen here I haven't seen before."
"No, really, I insist," Emery persisted. "And I think you're wrong about that." He pointed and Gavin followed his hand. "See that nice man over there in the Spiderman costume? We were talking earlier and it seems that he just loves big hairy men and pink is his favorite color."
Gavin looked down at his slightly the worse for wear costume. I think his girdle snapped and it was starting to bulge at the seams
"Go on," Emery encouraged him.
"Yeah, what the fuck." With a smile, Gavin pulled his right boob out from under his armpit and threw it in the nearest punchbowl. Then he hiked up his dress and minced over to see if he could get himself caught in Spidey's web.
"What are you doing?" I hissed.
Emery shrugged. "Call it one on the house. My good deed for the day. Now you were saying you wanted to leave?"
"Right, but that was before you sent our ride off."
"True, we now have no transportation. I guess we'll have to walk."
He started wending his way across the room. After staring at him opened mouth for a full minute, I followed. I didn't catch up to him until we were both out on the street.
"Emery, are you crazy?" I grabbed his arm. "It's got to be 15 miles back to the condo."
"At least," he agreed cheerfully. "But we aren't going there."
I'd left my coat back at the party and I shivered as I ran to keep up with him. "Then where the fuck are we going?"
He stopped abruptly and turned to me. "You know Abigail is right, you really do swear too much."
"Well, you said you wanted to go home," he waved his arm. "So here we are."
I hadn't realized we were now standing in front of my old house. I looked at it and watched as a light went on over the porch and the door slowly opened.
"Sparrow," Emery stopped me with a hand to my mouth. Then he grabbed one of mine with his other and pulled me towards the open door. "Come on."
"Wait," I tried to stop him from dragging me forward, but he was stronger than he looked. "I can't go in there, it isn't mine anymore."
He stopped. "But it is Dear Heart, you asked for it and I've gotten it for you. I'd do anything for you, haven't you figured that out?"
Emery laughed. "Come inside and I'll tell you."
He pulled me through the door and watched as I walked around admiring the house I'd missed so much. I ran into each room taking in the sights like a tourist at Disney World and yet everything was so familiar. We ended up in the library and I squealed like a little twinkie to see my Grandpa's old pipe rack right back on the mantle where it belonged. Really it was like I'd never left, everything was there, my clothes in the closet, my books, CD's and-and on my old computer hutch, what looked suspiciously like the newest innovation from Alien Ware. I looked at it and then Emery and raised an eyebrow.
He blushed. "Er, let's just call it a housewarming gift. Besides, Loki owed you for that meltdown at Lenore's."
I looked around the room again. On second thought there were some things missing. A lot of things actually, and they'd all belonged to Quinn.
"Where are Quinn's things?"
"Did you want them?" He asked worriedly. "I thought you wouldn't, so I arranged for them to go to charity. St. Vincent de Paul, but if you prefer the Salvation Army..."
"No I didn't want them," then what he said sunk in. "Charity, why charity? Won't Quinn be needing them?"
"Quinn," he watched me carefully. "Has decided to move on."
"He what?!" My jaw dropped in shock and it took me a few seconds before I could force it closed to speak again. "Emery, are saying you've killed him?"
He rolled his eyes. "Don't you ever listen to me? I don't kill people."
"No, you just take their souls."
"They give them to me, big difference."
"Uh huh." Hey, maybe I did hate Quinn enough to want him to suffer some pestilence or something, but that didn't mean I wanted him damned for all eternity. That was pretty heavy stuff and I wasn't so sure I needed that on my conscience.
"Don't worry about that," went Emery, reading my thoughts again. "This had nothing to do with you. Truly, I'd only been planning a little humiliation for the dear boy, maybe make him have to tell the truth for a couple of days, it was entirely his idea to become an immortal."
"Oh right, he just thought of it on his own."
He shrugged and smiled, showing a hint of those white teeth. "All right, I admit I might have mentioned it to him, just as an opener in the conversation. He asked me what my costume was and I told him the truth. I was a procurer. He asked me what I procured. The conversation went on from there."
I'll just bet it did. I could picture it. Emery talking about eternal youth, power, sex, anything you wanted, forever and ever.
Emery sighed. "He signed a contract. Is it my fault he didn't read the fine print?"
"Oh God," I shook my head.
Emery exploded, I hadn't realized he'd had such a temper. "What was I supposed to do? You don't understand, I had to have payment for this visit, and if Quinn hadn't been so willing then it would have had to be..."
He stopped short looking suddenly appalled at what he'd been about to slip and tell me. I stared back at him, a little appalled myself.
"Me? If Quinn hadn't gone for it, it would have been me that had to give up my soul?"
"I really wish," he whispered sadly. "That you had read your agreement."
My head was spinning. What had I gotten myself into? The implications were huge, I couldn't take it all in. But slowly, one thought surfaced.
"You saved me."
"Strictly speaking, I think that was more Quentin."
"No," I disagreed. "It was you. Why did you do that?"
Emery shrugged self-consciously. "You weren't aware, I didn't feel it would be fair."
I didn't believe him. "There must have been others like that, did you do the same for them?"
I wouldn't break my gaze until he finally answered.
"No," he said briefly. "No, I didn't do the same for them."
"Then why now?" He didn't speak, but I knew then, and although it really couldn't make a damn bit of difference, it still made me grin. Then I thought of Quinn again and stopped smiling.
"He was delighted," Emery's voice was firm. "And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he doesn't do very well in the firm. He's a company man if I've ever seen one."
I shook my head. Yeah, I had my house back... but I still didn't like the idea that once again, Quinn had traded up. He was immortal. Young and pretty forever. Exactly what he wanted.
Emery smiled, still reading my thoughts. "You know, you and he have a lot in common. You don't read the fine print... and he didn't ask the right questions."
I cocked my head. "What more did he need to know? He'll be young forever. Live forever.
Emery smiled. "Yes, forever. But there's rules about these things. Rules struck long ago. Loki International... well, we're sort of a seasonal business. The company will only need him one day a year, on the feast of Samhaim."
I snorted. "Even better. He's on vacation all year!"
Emery smiled. "Not at all. At sunrise, he'll be brought to a cave. He'll fall into a deep sleep. He won't wake up until next year, at sundown, for this one night." He paused, letting it set in. "But he won't age, ever. He'll always look the same... as long as he secures his quota for the night. And if he doesn't, well... the Chairman of Loki has a sense of humor. He'll let him keep the immortality if he comes up short of his end of the bargain." He grinned. "Just not his youth. And yes, he will age in his sleep. It's Brigadoon with more attitude."
I smiled. To live forever, but one day a year, and even then only for a night. And sleep all the other days. No pretty boys next to him. No vacations to Aruba.
"So you see, it's all yours," Emery grinned again, but it faded when he saw the expression on my face. "Arthur? What's wrong? You did tell me that more than anything you wanted your house back."
"No, no, it's great," I agreed sadly. "Only..."
"Only what?" He asked gently.
"Only now..." I took a deep breath. "This means you'll be leaving doesn't it?"
"Oh," he bit his lip. "I see. Yes, well, you knew that was going to happen one way or the other."
"I don't want you to go," I stood and looked at him.
"No, I mean it, I want you to stay with me. Can't you work it somehow? Can't you tell your bosses that I need you?"
"I wish I could," he spoke so softly I could barely hear him. "You have no idea, how much I wish that would happen."
And then he was in my arms and it felt so right, so perfect and I was sure I'd never let him go. And then he was gone. Vanished, with nothing left for me to show he'd ever been there.
I knew better than to look for him, but I did it anyway. Of course I found what I'd been expecting, which was an empty house filled with beautiful things that I didn't give a damn about if I couldn't share them with the man I loved. I ended up in the master bedroom. Slowly, like the old man I felt like, I stripped and left the awful slip in a pile at the foot of the bed. Then I just crawled under the covers and cried myself to sleep.
The dream was so good. Emery was leaning over me, gently pushing off the duvet as he softly stroked my skin. His hot mouth latched on to my right nipple and I arched my back in pleasure. Slowly he sank lower until he took all of me into his mouth. I was hard instantly and I reached back with both of my hands and grabbed on to the headboard as my body writhed in ecstasy.
He reached down and grabbed my ankles, swinging my legs up and up until they rested high on my chest. Then he dove down farther, below my balls, licking wetly at my perineum until he reached the center of all my desires. His tongue stabbed in and I rose up to meet him, sighing at the feelings he was giving me. But he didn't linger, a few moments to stretch me and then he rose up covering my body with his, flipping my calves over his shoulders and once positioned moving forward for that first thrust.
It was heaven. I wanted him inside me forever, but we were both too needy, both too aware that this was what we'd both always hoped for, but had been terrified we'd never find. I felt him expand in me at the same time my balls tightened and ordered my system to let go. With a shout I obeyed, only to feel Emery's release deep inside me. Then there was nothing as the dream faded and I lost whatever consciousness had led me to it.
I was crying as I came too. The tears spilled down my cheeks and into my ears. That had been too real, the pain of knowing it could never really happen too great. I could almost feel him still on top of me...
Wait a minute. I could feel him on top of me. I groped for the light and with a flick it switched on blinding me after the blackness of the night.
"Ouch!" A voice said over me. "You know you really should warn a person when you're going to do something like that."
"Emery?" Oh God, I'd lost my mind.
"Of course," his head hovered over mine, a worried look on his face. "I hope you weren't expecting anyone else, or this may end up a very awkward scene."
"Oh God, Emery!" I grabbed him and brought him down for a big fat juicy kiss that lasted until we were both in danger of passing out.
"Good," he purred when we finally unlatched our lips. "Then you are happy to see me."
"Christ yes, but," I looked at him. "Why am I? Seeing you that is?"
"It's a funny story actually," he rolled off of me and sat up. He was sweaty and cum stained and beautiful. "I went back to report to the bosses as I'd told you was required. I explained about the, er, change of plans. They were not too pleased at first."
"But I thought you'd said it would be alright?"
"Oh it was, it was... eventually. You see, I'd asked specifically for this job. Sentimental reasons we needn't go into now. So when I came back and told them about the alterations, they seemed to think that had been my intent all along. They discourage that sort of thing you know."
"Personal initiative?" I asked.
"Quite," he winked. "At any rate, they finally agreed that Quinn would make a much better procurement agent than you ever would. Seem they compared your files and his was ever so much more to their liking."
"That doesn't surprise me."
"No, nor should you take it as an insult," he winked again. "So they excepted that, but still they felt that I had definitely over stepped my bounds and should be made to pay for that."
"Yes. They decided they would have me see the big boss, the um, CEO as it were and have him make the final decision about what should be done about my insubordination."
"And what happened? I'm mean, you're okay aren't you?" Which was a stupid question because after that performance he'd just put on in my bed it was obvious that he was in great shape.
"I went to see the great man and he asked me what I thought my punishment should be. I thought about it and I came up with a few good ones. He wasn't impressed, said he needed more of an example for the others. We both thought about it for a minute and then I made another suggestion. He could make me mortal." Emery cocked his head. "You see, most of the agents are pretty happy with immortality, I've always gone my own way there. I wasn't sure what he'd say to that, I half expected to disappear in a puff of smoke, but he looked at me for a long time and then finally just laughed."
Emery sat there for a moment, thinking. "Yes, well, I think I've misjudged him somewhat. I always thought he was slightly stupid, now I'm not so sure."
I waved that aside. "So you're here now, for good I mean?"
"For the rest of my life - if you'll have me."
I grinned. "I think I already have."
"Technically, I think you have that backwards, my dear Sparrow."
"You're right, and that was a pretty sneaky trick," Yeah, like I gave a shit about that.
He kissed my nose. "Forgive me for that my love, it's been a long time, simply eons, and I guess I got a little carried away."
I pulled him back down beside me. "But I thought that was part of your job, procurement. And you're the one who explained how that worked. So it can't have been all that long since you fucked someone."
He winced. "You are blunt aren't you? But technically that's true, though you have to understand that was just part of my job. It simply takes the fun out of it when you know the only reason you're there is to curse someone through eternity."
I nodded. I supposed that made sense.
"So you see this really is the first time in simply forever that I've made love with someone."
"Made love?" I grinned at him. "I like the sound of that."
And with that, he smiled a long lazy smile. And when he finally moved it was only to cover me with his body.
"Good," he whispered. "Because I think it's time to do it again."