1964-05-25 - Pride of Place
Summary: At Lux, it's just a normal night full of angelic intrigue, demonic manipulations, and humans caught in the middle.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
spawn jay rosemarie lucian 


After the…well, maybe it could be called a 'fiasco' of a revelation involving the reasoning for the nightmares and feathering at inopportune times, Rosemarie spent a few days around the apartment. She called in sick, complained of the flu, and hid. Lola the cat was thrilled. However, the time came to admit that she needed to return to the world as a whole.

Perhaps…a chitchat with a certain barkeep first, however, but…not alone. A quick phone call, less stuttering this time around, and it's the librarian who awaits a certain someone outside the entrance to Lux. She wears a knee-length sun-dress, nothing terribly exciting, but the material is fine enough to admit to having spent some money on it. Flats and a clutch complete the ensemble. Maybe this time she'll blend in…maybe.

*

This isn't the kind of place where one finds Al Simmons, even before the first time he died. But he's heard things, so he's decided to check it out. Of course, being in a place like this without making too much of a scene requires him to expend precious magic to transform his suit into something that doesn't resemble melted wax. He spends it: though it will last only a couple hours. He's wearing a pair of jeans, a long black leather jacket and a black t-shirt. His beltbuckle is a skull, and the belt itself seems to be an odd fashion statement— it's a chain. He doesn't blend in at all, though, primarily because he's huge. Just shy of seven feet, with a thick body of muscle, he tends to be intimidating just by sheer physical presence alone. He stalks through the bar in an attempt at pantherine grace: it comes off more like a tank, though.

*

Lux is a hotbed of intrigue tonight. The mezzanine features a party where nearly everyone is masked in ornate, animal-like creations of mesh and leather and metal. On the main floor, things are no less intriguing. Glasses go sailing by as waitresses in largely black attire make their deliveries, offering those strangely shaped glasses full of libations that defy common description. A chalkboard propped at the main bar reads, in jagged print, No regular drinks will be served.

It's good the patrons can't see Go to Hell Heaven Lux scribbled on the other side.

Lucian is in fine form at any rate, lounging in his chosen booth. On the table, an assortment of berries doused in a flaming liquor. Not exactly the norm, but as he plucks each morsel free with a fondue stick, the puff of breath extinguishes the fire. Then a neat bite destroys the fruit. Delicious. There is probably no blending in whatsoever among the dim interior, since walking to the doorway means getting past the most observant of them all: dark-haired, olive-skinned Maz, who keeps watch, fingers tapping her arms. "You're babysitting tonight."

*

A certain someone comes when beckoned, at least when it involves someone he's recently had a part in assisting in causing severe stress or unpleasantness with. Jay Guthrie strolls down the street, on foot as he always seems to be, the soft clicking of his thong-sandals hitting his heels resonating around him. Hands slid into his pockets, the red-headed young man wrests one out in order to wave toward Rose when he catches sight of the increasingly familiar young woman, steps (and clicking) picking up slightly. A gentle smile drawn up on his genial features, Jay sweeps a hand through his hair, tossling it slightly just on the right side of shaggy v. style, but that doesn't stop the uncertain look up toward the face of the building as he nears. "Hey, Rose. Ah was glad to hear from you," the distraction clear in his tone, squinting up at the building. "What…is this place?"

*

"Lux. It's a club." She glances at the entrance and back to Jay, smiling a little smile that happens to be somewhat michievous…and a part nervous. "I f-figured…we c-could have a drink and t-t-talk about what…h-happened." There's a bit of a blush, but at least she motions for him to follow. Into the entrance they go and down the stairs and —

Uh oh, it's…that one server, Mazikeen. That gives Rosemarie enough of a reason to pause, holding her clutch against her stomach. She dares a wave, weak as it is, towards the woman.

*

When one of the black-clad waitresses offers him a… something… Simmons narrows his eyes. He wants his eyes to glow a deeper green and to leak necroplasm, but he's disguised, so it doesn't do it. "I'll have a beer." he says with a voice like a nightmare: deep but so rough its like what happens when a jagged rock makes love to sandpaper. His jaw clenches in annoyance as she demurs and points to the sign, so with a bit of anger he takes one of the… whatever this is. He sips it and makes his way to the side, which happens to be towards Lucian. Stop glaring, Spawn. Stop glaring.

Simmons glares. Not really at anything in particular, just, the lack of a proper beer.

*

Mazikeen, the most effective of servers and sometimes bartenders, gives a pointed look at anyone coming and going. Assassination on sight: a Lux specialty. Tight braids and an even harder expression are highly effective at conveying disapproval with everything, her appraisal gimlet. She slouches back to Bethlehem. Or rather, the bar, to fetch up another round of drinks, and tells Al in passing, "It's not her fault. You don't like it, brew your own damn beer."

With one of those flaming berries doused by a bite, Lucian almost cranes a look over. Maz's mood echoes something about the singed fruit. Maybe sweet, and possibly capable of murder!

*

Jay doesn't seem entirely convinced by Rose's reassurance, the young man's head craned backward, verdant eyes darting down toward the young woman uncertainly as he nods. "Yeah. Okay, Ah'd be happy to talk about it, though I'm not sure Ah can be much more help." Flicking a platitude of a smile and a doubtful look around the doors as he snags one to open for Rosemarie and enters in behind her. Down, down, down, and Jay's expression goes wide and slightly alarmed, just slightly. The lump on the young man's back straining against the cloth pulled across his back until it's taut, alert while he follows Rosemarie through the groups of bodies; masked, unmasked, waitstaff, Jay whispers 's'cuse me' to each as needed. Overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere and vibe of the club.

*

With her confidence half-slain for the knife-like passing glance of Maz, it still falls upon Rose, more familiar with the place — though absolutely not with the carnival-like party going on at the moment — to lead the way. Glancing to Jay, she motions towards the bar with its myriad stools and pristine marble-top.

"I n-n-normally sit-t th-there," she leans in to say to him, close enough that her breath might brush his ear. "N-n-no one w-will b-bother us." It's busy enough. Another glance around, however, brings her to catch sight of the barkeep with leonine hair in his booth. Nibbling at the scar on her lip ever-so-briefly, she changes her mind on the flip of a coin. "A-Actually, Jay, f-f-f-follow m-me."

Her travel brings her past Al, actually managing to brush against him and she lets out a little 'eeep' of surprise. Glancing over…and then up, she swallows. "S-S-Sorry!" It's a squeaky whisper of an apology. They're all within line of sight from the booth she intended to head towards and another step backwards, away from the tank-like Al, puts her a bit closer to it.

*

The chain around Al's waist unhitches, though it doesn't fall, it doesn't rise, so it doesn't immediately look suspicious. But it does tremble with a sudden desire to do violence. Leesha of the 7th House of K is a creature of pure violence, and at a whim she is unleasehed. Really, usually, its Simmons' will that restrains her, and he does so now. But for a fleeting moment that will faultered, and the chain almost came alive to savage the server. Quieting though, Simmons forces himself to taste this oddity. And he grunts. When bumped by Rosemarie, he turns to her and looks over her for a moment before his attention falls on Jay, recognition in his eyes. "Careful, girl." Its not respectful but despite the ragged, pained voice, its not unkind.

*

The server might not be one to savage given she's the warlord of the Lilim, daughter to that Lilith, and the boss is standing right there. Yes, he sloughed off a fair chunk of rightful change to be in the building. Question is out if Maz feels up to it, or maybe the seventh house of K was a friendly D.C. in Hell stop for all the bad girls. Question for another time.

Rosemarie isn't overlooked by Lucian, not at all. A faint raise of his eyebrows is the only statmenet he makes. The dessert is done in the booth and he doesn't even bother to pick up the plate. Not before someone else is attracting his attention, one of the waitresses descending out of the gloom to bend his ear. Rather than get too cooped up with the couple and the patron exchanging words with his right hand horror, he slides around to follow her upstairs. Time to do Business Things.

*

The opulance and alien culture of what's going on in this building keeps Jay slightly on edge and distractable. Repulsion isn't what shows across the pale young man's face, rather the opposite with rapt curiosity and general lack of understanding. New York. What a place. He turns and peers upward at the mezzanine with the myriad of people in their ornate masks, bumping lightly into Rose as she brushes Al, Jay's bright eyes widened and alit with youthful curiosity and unfamiliarity as he turns swiftly and comes face to face with…"Al," surprise in his tone, turning swiftly to gladness. Turning over toward Rose, Jay attempts to rest a beckoning hand on her arm and lean in to talk loudly over the atmosphere. "Rose, this is Al. He's a good man." Oblivious somewhat to who she was trying to lead him toward, there may have been a tracking look to follow Lucian up toward the stairs where the man vanishes. Little more than that before the brightly colored young man turns back to Simmons. "Al, this is Rosemarie. What are you doin' here?" Blink, blink, blinks of confusion following.

*

To Al, another near-silent sound of surprise. Oh yes, she'll be very careful at this point. Her cinnamon-brown eyes are very wide at this point and she can't help the staring, so sorry, gnarly tank-man. She misses Lucian's exit entirely for standing in the shadow of the tall gentleman. She even jumps underneath the touch of Jay's hand to her arm and rather abruptly leans back, near-plastering herself to his side.

The young man with the Southern lilt introduces them — how do they know one another?! — and Rosemarie nods quickly a few times.

"N-N-N-Nice t-to-to m-m-m-meet y-you," she manages quietly, her words probably lost beneath the hub-bub of the club.

*

Al is a good man? This statement alone has Simmons' head do a double-take and a spin of incredulity. No one thinks that: well, except his people. Still, the giant of a man nods his head slowly, "Jay. I heard that this place might be a center of — something. I don't know what. I had to look into it." That's more words then he usually says at once, and from the sound of it, either it pains him to speak or he no longer has nerve endings anywhere near his throat. But dark eyes focus upon Rosemarie and he nods slightly, and he remembers a little about what its like to act like a human, so he offers his big hand out to Rosemarie to shake. Even the hand, "Apparently I am a good man. This opinion is not widely shared."

*

Jay's hand pulls back quickly when Rose jumps, offering her a concerned look at first as she slinks closer to his side. Automatically, an arm reaches around the mousy looking librarian's back to steady her; protective. It isn't until his attention swims back up toward the enormous, looming shadow that is Al that Jay understands suddenly. With his frightening features and chainsaw-working-through-a-cement-slab voice, his own first reaction to the man wasn't exactly graceful, either. Regardless, the pale man smiles genially toward Simmons, an eyebrow arching upward, "Somethin'? What kind of somethin'?" Looking all around the club, another uncertain look around his immediate area, eyes jumping up toward the mezzanine. "It is…a little odd, Ah'll give you that!"

*

It seems like an excellent idea to continue where she is, tucked against Jay's side, trying hard to keep her pulse from thundering away in the confines of her chest. The Otherness is quite comfortable here, in Lux, for that barkeep is a known factor to its host and no harm has ever come to her here. Now this tall guy? That alien touch fizzles a smidge brighter in her veins and it does take Rosemarie a second to realize that a handshake is being offered.

She reaches out hesitantly, but eventually, that much smaller and more delicate hand disappears into Al's grasp and she returns the gesture with a wince simply a second away in case of crunched knuckles. "Y-Y-You s-s-seem g-good enough," she replies to him in a voice that's a bit louder, a bit braver, but still wracked with stutters. The bar of Jay's arm about her back is encouraging.

She scans the room for Lucian, but alas — the enigmatic barkeep is gone. A little sigh and she brings her attention back to the two men, the blush lingering beneath her freckles stubbornly.

*

"I don't know: it might be a place for good, but power gathers. That is rarely good for anyone but the powerful. My skin… itches here." Simmon replies to Jay. Despite his size, Al shakes Rosemarie's hand delicately. In fact its barely a handshake at all: its a motion with almost no pressure attached to it. Partly because his hell born instinct is to crush weak bones, and partly because he doesn't want her to be able to really focus on the feel of his hands. It falls away, and he gestures to a nearby booth, suggesting they go there. "Appearances are deceiving." replies Simmons, lifting a hand and shifting it over his face. As the magic is momentarily dispelled, the horror of his burn scars are revealed for a moment before his hand sweeps back and they're hidden. This is the most difficult of his magics: the ability to look like a man and not a monster. If an imposing one. Still, he turns, and heads to the booth. He doesn't check if they choose to follow him after that display: part of him expects and even hopes they flee.

*

Feeling the tension buzzing through Rosemarie, Jay dips his head down toward her shoulder and 'whispers' loudly over the din of the area, "Breathe deep, raght? He's a good guy. Just big." Withdrawing to stand up straight again, Jay has an encouraging smile written into his soft features. No need for talons here. Encouraged as the two make acquaintences, there is a flash of amusement when he notices that Rose's hand is swallowed up by Al's, vanishing briefly before it's given back.

Jay nods genially to the gesture toward the booth, removing his arm at last from Rosemarie's back, and perhaps just in time as Al waves his hand in front of his face to dispel whatever trick it is that makes him appear…well, less like /himself/. Which is no diamond in the rough, Jay must admit. He wets his bottom lip slightly, a sympathetic look washing over his face for a moment. "Ah…sorta wondered how ya did that!" He calls over the club noise. "But yer voice! Ah could recognize that just about anywhere." Definitely more practiced in hiding some of his shock and awe over, well, magic. Weirdness in general. It's been a tough three weeks as he jumped into the fires of weird in New York. Jay nods encouragingly toward Rosemarie, signifying that he'll follow.

*

The color drains from her face as she catches a fleeting sight of the scarring on Al's cheeks and forehead and oh my god — it's a miracle she doesn't immediately burst out into midnight-blue feathers and raptor talons. Jay's presence helps and…surprisingly, so does the effects of Josh's touch. The golden-skinned man seems to have not only soothed the Otherness, but managed to kick on the concept of symbiosis between host and alien mutagenic abilities. Instead of erupting into self-defense, it heeds her inherent wishes and remains at a mere simmer in her blood.

Catching the nod in her peripheral vision, the librarian looks over at Jay with wide eyes and stares until she realizes that she's doing so. A swallow and a very slow nod and then she walks over to the booth with the air of someone headed to execution.

*

Settling into the booth, and sippingt the monstrosity of a drink, Al looks at Jay and Rosemarie as they approach. He shows some surprise they come over, but he inclines his head. Once they arrive, on the topic of him 'doing something'? "It is expensive magic. I can not afford to do it for long or I will return and likely never claw my way out again, but. I can do it." His gravel-bloody voice makes the sound of a chuckle. Probably. He might be hacking a short caugh. "Can you? Recognize it anywhere? Even in the park? Well. I advise: do not breathe fire. It does not agree with the vocal chords." A slight smile before his dark eyes fall on Rosemarie again. He sighs. "I am no danger to you, little rose. If anyone were to threaten you I would kill him." The utter certainty of that statement is clear only in the clarity of will and not the sound.

*

Trying to remain as supportive and as calming an influence as possible, Jay nods to Rosemarie, though he has a sincere case of obliviousness about him where Jay thinks that everyone should be friends, no matter how uncomfortable it makes one another. No matter how uncomfortable it makes Al to be joined. No matter how uncomfortable it makes Rosemarie to go over there. Problem? What problem?

Jay gives a final look over toward the high mezzanine and the throngs of masked people up on it as the trio slips away into a booth, away from the abuse of the sounds of the club. Somewhat. He gives Rosemarie her choice of seats first before he slides in as well. A slightly ashamed smile lead toward Al, Jay nods. "Ah recognized you in the park. But you were…dressed up? So Ah didn't want to blow yer cover. I meant to come by and ask you about it, but then I bumped int' Miss Rosemarie here and, well, we had a man to see about a horse. Or. A bird?" Jay casts a small smile over toward Rosemarie, a touch of light in his eyes. He nods smoothly when Al says that he's no danger to her and would kill anyone who did. The mention is a little uncomfortable for the young man, but he seems encouraging none the less. "See? He's a fine cat." Smoothing his hand through his hair a couple times, still letting his eyes scan the masses around the club, trying to get a feeling for the type of patron that this place attracts. Something Al said tickling the back of his brain. "Return where? You said the magic was expensive? Ah don't follow."

*

Rosemarie defers to the outer edge of the booth and settles in as best she can. It means the clutch goes in her lap and her eyes rest on the tabletop…at least for a minute or two. They steadily creep back to Al's face and she's most definitely wondering if what she saw in passing was simply a play of the light. He's still large and imposing, but not…too gnarly-looking now.

Oh. Little rose. It's been…years since someone called her that. Rosemarie frowns at Al for all of a fleeting second before her demeanor gets rather muddled in parts memory and parts hesitant affection granted, at least, to the expression used. It's rather like being protected by a grizzly bear, when she considers things, and she nods slowly. Yes, okay, very good, safe now around this guy.

Glancing to Jay, she does manage a weak smile at his pun, but it fades when a server approaches her with a drink. It's dropped off without a comment and she eyes it speculatively. It's garnished with a lemon, lime, and a rosy-gold in color.

"Magic?" The word is devoid of stutter. She immediately occupies herself with her drink, content to listen to the rest of the conversation as quietly as a mouse.

*

Rosemarie heads to Private <P>.

*

Rosemarie has left.

*

"I saw you." grates Simmons' voice like a cheese grater fighting a screwdriver, "I saw you, but I did not think you would recognize me. Dressed up?" He considers these words as he regards Jay for a long moment, "Yes. No." he breathes roughly, "That is who I truly am. Spawn. This." He gestures to his unburned face, "Is a memory. What you saw when we first met is a shadow, but more honest then this." His attention flicks to Rosemarie and he regards her question. Magic. "I am …" Should he explain himself to her? To him? Would they even understand? "Magic. Power. I have only so much: and when there is no more, I will not be able to hold myself here." He looks to Jay, "Then I will suffer the fate I deserved for the life I lived. Then I will punished for refusing the command of the lord who made me. But until at last I am his, I will resist. I will use this stolen magic against them and fight."

*

Jay is used to things going over his head, especially here. Especially lately. This city breeds something that is so far beyond him and his base of knowledge, which is basically limited to, well, music and artistry. That all said, there is something especially confusing about the things that come out of Al's mouth. But he's /trying/. Trying to understand. Squinting at the 'magic shadow' across the way from him, Jay's brows flex and twitch together gently.

"But…magic's not real." That's what he comes back with. The mutant with wings coming out of his back, sitting beside the partial-alien woman, is telling the severely burned man across from them that magic isn't real. Because that's the biggest problem in his story.

*

Caring not for what it says, for what anyone sees, Simmons reaches a hand across the table between them. "Call it power. Call it energy. Call it the ability to apply force to a certain circumstance and achieve change. Magic means the energy is not normal physics. In the case of my mind…" Green light leeches out of his hand, collecting above his palm. A tiny inferno of green fire, "Necroplasm." he explains gratingly. "Magic is, otherwise, also real. The unliving dead we fought: magic raised that. A different kind of magic then what animates me, but it is magic." Fingers clasp together and the green fire is pulled back into his body. "I am nothing but magic. My body was destroyed in the fire and buried, and if it still exists it is bones and some small bit of charred tissue: but it might just be ash."

Al looks hard at Jay, "Listen to my voice." he says in tone sharp like shrapnel, "Imagine what it took to do the kind of damage you hear. Imagine the gas fumes I breathed in when he doused me: imagine the fire that I inhaled and burned me from the inside out, and image…"

"Do you think I survived that fire?" His cracked voice carries … gravity.

*

Al begins the slow and arduous task of A) explaining to little baby Jay that magic exists and B) explaining to little baby Jay that /he's not alive/.

The weight of what Al is laying down is felt, vividly. Recent history makes it all the more difficult to hear while Al hammers home with repetition. 'Imagine. Imagine. Imagine.' And he can. Vividly. Though the trauma he carries most vividly with him was delivered mostly by the opposing element, just listening to the man's voice is palpable enough to make his fair skin prickle in goose flesh down his arms. The manner in which Al describes itconfirming through context clues that it was murder, bloodthirsty and brutal, while he was consciousrouses a terrible and visceral reaction in him. Visibly wilting, Jay stares into the man across the way from him, unable to find the will to pull his gaze away while the noise and curiosity of the club and the dozens of bodies around them fades into a tiny mental pocket dimension in the background. A sheen comes over the sharp, viridescent eyes fixed on Al, though his sheathed wings do not flex and strain reactively against the denim that covers them.

Jay's lips fall open, holding silent for a lengthy beat before he finds his voice again for an abortive sound, "Ah—" Then stops again, giving Al a lengthy, aching look in silence instead. He /wants/ to childishly say 'yes'. Badly. But his heart can't allow himself to lie. So he remains silent.

*

"I am not a good man." Of all things Al wants to make this innocent, beautiful thing understand, that is most important of all others. "I was an assassin. I killed many. I may have believed in duty, and duty may have made me think this right, but it doesn't change the fact. I am a murderer." His voice is pain and blood, but his expression does not waver from Jay's own. "And I was betrayed. A man murdered me, and I went to hell as I deserved for my sins." The magic fades around his face, and he is the closest to the true self he is: scars and broken flesh and voice. "There a demon lord offered me a deal: I would lead his army against heaven itself and for such I would be given power and life again."

Spawn lifts his hands that still look … normal. "I said yes."

"I lied to a devil and took the power offered me, and now I fight to kill evil and protect thsoe who can not be protected. I do not do this for redemption."

His eyes shift to a green glow that is like smoke rising.

"But when my power runs dry I will return to hell. I will answer to Malebolgia for my lie, and I will be his forever to torment. That is my fate. That is who I am. Spawn. General of Hell, who refuses his master."

*

The story only gets worse, and more bizarre, and plucks at the strings that hold close around Jay's core, where his beliefs settle. Hell. Heaven. Generals. Deals. Demons. It makes him deeply uncomfortable. Deeply. Uncomfortable. The extra appendages on his back twitch and roil against cloth while he listens, and that shine in his eyes does not lessen, but does not seem to threaten to spill over as they flick back and forth, watching Al's eyes change to his 'natural' state. "Then why?" Jay murmurs, perhaps too quiet to be heard over the noise surrounding them, but Jay can no longer hear the mirth and mystery around him. Finally, his eyelids flicker and flash a couple times, allowing Jay to come a little more to the present. "Then why do it?" An edge creeps into the young man's tone, bordering on demand. A demand he doesn't seem to understand the origin of.

*

"I will pay for my life." grates Simmon's voice, "But I will not serve Malebolgia. Why? Why do it? Because he and his lieutenants think I enjoy being the monster I am. I don't." And with that the large man shrugs, "And on that alone rests the balance. I refuse. I will not lead the war against heaven. I am a murderer, I am a monster, but I am not that. I wanted to live." He closes his eyes, pain showing, "I wanted to see my wife. I wanted to rejoin her. So I said yes. But I will not do it: I will not be it." He opens his eyes and looks straight at Jay, "I am a monster, but I am not a demon. I will deny the devil its due. Because it the time will come, soon, when I am condemned and all I have is that memory of resistance. When you are damned, the struggle is all you have left."

*

That does it for Jay. The palpable pain when Al mentions his wife causes that lingering dampness shining in a veil over his bright gaze breaches just over the cusp, not to spill over but the root of his vividly colored lashes stick together into damp spikes as he blinks rapidly and shifts in place beside the quiet woman they've seated with. Soft, dextrous hands slide together on the table top, folding one over the other in a loose grasp, perhaps even sending out a tiny prayer of his own while he listens to the /why/ behind all of this. Behind Al's reasons for what he's done. What he's doing. "Yer not tryin' to vindicate yerself." Jay's voice is tight and rough, speaking around a tautness in his throat, but still nothing in comparison to the sound of angry cats making love to rusty machinery that comes out of Al's mouth. "Not redemption. Yer doin' it because of human will. An' because it's raght."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License