Author Topic: Operation Cheer Up  (Read 85 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Operation Cheer Up
« on: February 11, 2019, 02:22:47 PM »
Reserved for suneater

I'm not really good at cheering people up. Most of my advice is to punch the things that get in your way. But when Zeph went a full two hours with no communication I started to assume something was wrong. My largest fear was that his father had called and told him about me. He'd been seriously pissed when I called and told him the gig was off. He'd told me "we'll see about that." I figured if I planned on seeing Zeph on the regular, which I was seriously hoping to do, that I'd have to deal with the old man eventually. He'd have his day in court. I was relieved when the air nymph asked me to come over, and quickly grabbed my leather jacket and hit the streets. My work was done for the night. I caught an unfaithful wife making out with a bartender at Venture. I hated that place, but quickly swinging by got me the photos I needed to get paid. Feeling flush and drunk as a skunk from a meal I picked up, I worked my way over to the stoner's apartment.

I drove drunk, but I did that most nights. Luckily I am a great drunk driver. It helped that I had a lot of practice and honestly alcohol just doesn't disorient me the way it did when I was living. Don't get me wrong. Drinking knocked me on my ass my fair share, but it was harder to get and stay juiced from feedings, and only so much blood can be taken. I'd been tasked with finding cream eggs, and I was determined not to disappoint their intended eater. A few drug stores had nothing, so I moved on to an actual candy shop off Main and JFK. Sitting there looking sickly artificial was one last pack of Cadbury Creme Eggs, and they were only two bucks. It was your lucky day Lasagna.

I got to his building and approached the ancient looking doorman. It was a different guy on shift but I told him I was here to see Zeph and he buzzed him letting him know some guy named Drew was here to see him. I smiled at that. I was here to see Zeph. Even if he needed cheering up I was chosen to provide it. Solving a case, getting drunk and now Zeph. What could go wrong?

I hit the elevator and stumbled. I think I was a little too drunk and I had to arrange myself as it worked it's way to Zeph's floor. I couldn't let him see me looking sloppy. He thought I was some hero. I quickly straightened myself out and after a few hard slaps to the face was feeling more alert. A familiar ping told me it was time to get out and I worked my way over to his door. I was wearing jeans, boots, a tank and my jacket. I don't change much. Oh, but today I wore a maroon beanie, with a Clark Kent tendril poking out from under my cap. I knocked and waited for Zeph to open up and let me in.
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~

Offline suneater

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 103
  • Initiate
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 02:54:07 PM »
The door opened slowly, only the few inches permitted by the small chain bolt that was still in place. Through the gap between frame and door, Drew would see one of Zeph's bright blue eyes peering out. It focused on Drew and the barest of smile traced what was visible of his full lips. The door closed again, and there was some fumbling of locks before he finally pulled the door open.

The nymph did not look his best. He was clad in a pair of pajama pants patterned with marijuana leaves and a plain white t-shirt that was creased in a way that suggested it was being worn fresh out of a Hanes three-pack. He shuffled back to admit Drew, then moved back to the door himself to lock, dead bolt, and chain bolt it once more.

The apartment was a genuine mess now. There were boxes and plastic wrappers from frozen meals littering the counter, and a few containers from said meals rested on various surfaces around the room, including two on the nightstand near his bed. The blankets on his bed were formed up into a large ball, suggesting that Zeph had been nesting there recently. Clothes were strewn about, mostly in the bedroom, but there were also some draped off the arms of the couch or balled on the floor in front of it. The television screen was paused on what looked to be an episode of the Voltron reboot.

The moment he'd locked the door, he was clinging to Drew, burying his face in the man's chest. His hair was a bit damp, and Drew would likely detect that he had recently brushed his teeth. He didn't produce much in the way of facial hair, but there was some downy stubble along his jawline and throat. Drew might get the impression, augmented by the state of the place, that it was probably the first time Zeph had seen to any kind of grooming in a while.

He didn't say anything, he just hugged. Held on for dear life, really. His arms wrapped around the small of Drew's back, and his grip was surprisingly fierce.

He hadn't left the apartment since his return from Venture the night before, and he hadn't gotten much sleep since - just fitful hours snatched here and there. He'd been afraid to talk to anyone. He wanted to, but the only people he knew who wouldn't think he was crazy were his parents and Rodrigo. The latter had texted him a half dozen times, but the messages were left on read. The former, well, they would believe him, certainly, but if he told them what had actually happened he would have been on the next flight back to Colorado. He had considered it. Charon's ancient presence and malformed features had figured heavily into the furtive dreams that had intruded on his attempts to rest, and the prospect of returning to Venture terrified him.

Frankly, the thought of going outside terrified him. Between his experiences at the vampire club and the altercation on the way home from the bar last Thursday, Zeph's rose-colored glasses had been cracked.

"Th-thanks for coming," he finally mumbled into Drew's tank top. "It's um, kind of a mess."

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2019, 05:49:41 AM »
Once I saw the little nymph I felt my face harden. I held him close, but my knuckles were cracked as I hugged, wondering who’s skull I needed to bash. I looked around the apartment and honestly it still looked better than mine - minus the frozen food shit that never happens to me - so who was I to judge Zeph’s last day or two? However, I could tell it wasn’t Zeph, and it raised my internal alarms. My body became a pillow. It’s what I’m best at in these situations, but my mind began to construct the bare bones of a mystery. What were the facts? I needed to fix this for him. I needed to sa-.

You’re trying to rescue him again.


I snapped back just in time to hear Zeph apologize for his place, and I picked him up in my arms and awkwardly carried him into the “bedroom.” I placed him down gently, and sat near him. If he ended up curling right back on me that was fine, but I don’t like to be smothered so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing that either. We didn’t speak for a long while. I didn’t know what to say, and Zeph seemed lost wherever he was. I needed to get him talking. I needed to see him smile. Wow. I needed that as much as he did I think.

I presented the requested candy, pulling the pack from my inside jacket pocket. I made a big show of it. “Your requested junk food sir.” I even gave a little bow, but looked up and locked eyes with him. DId I help yet? Was he better. Wishful thinking Drew my boy.   
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~

Offline suneater

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 103
  • Initiate
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2019, 12:44:38 PM »
Zeph's eyes widened in surprise as he was scooped up. Drew would find him a little heavier than he looked. His slim figure was encased in lean muscle, but his mass would still be very manageable. He threw his arms around Drew's neck, ducking his head in against the older man's shoulder. Drew carrying him felt nice. There was a bit of regression, to a time when his welfare was completely in the hands of others. Right now he needed some of that.

When Drew set him down he huddled up with his knees drawn to his chest and his arms looped loosely around his shins. He rested his chin on his knees, and his eyes were on Drew. He had no idea what to say, how to start, how he even could say anything. His features, characteristically, made what was going on in his head perfectly known. That admixture of panic and sorrow would be totally apparent- at least, until Drew produced the carton of foil-wrapped confections.

A faint smile twitched on his lips, and he reached out for them. "Thank you, sir." His attempt to mirror Drew's tone fell a little flat, but the effort was there. He drew the box in, resuming his self-hugging, but his eyes remained fixed on Drew's.

He wasn't ready to talk about anything that mattered, but he did need to talk. He needed to use words to make some sense of what was going on in his head, even if they had nothing to do with his problems- especially, in fact.

"These used to be my favorite," he mumbled. "I mean, I guess they still are but I haven't had them in forever." He lifted up the creme eggs and glanced at them. "I was always so amazed at how they did it. How did they get the yolk colors to be just in the middle? How did they get the creme in the chocolate?" He lowered his hand, letting it rest on the mattress. "I still don't know." He laughed, but it was jagged, the sort of laugh that could easily herald darker displays of emotion. He shook his head and fell backward, landing his head on a pillow and splaying his arms out in something of a crucifixion pose.

"There's a lot I still don't know," he said quietly. Drew would find that he'd closed his eyes and very much looked to be struggling to hold back tears.

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2019, 04:33:05 PM »
I laid down on the bed and placed my head near his ear. I threw an arm over him. I didn't know what to do or say, so we just laid there for a bit. I think it helped, just having me there. I could feel him start to cry as we were together, and the whole time I just wanted to ask him what was wrong. I just couldn't though. There was so much emotion and I was overwhelmed. I was also angry, and for some reason I got really sad too. I can't explain it. I just was affected or something. Eventually, I did speak up, and asked in as deep a voice as I could muster.

"Zeph. What happened man? How are you... feeling?" The last word sounded like a gulp was between it and the one before it. I felt my body tense up as I asked it, but I knew from these crisis intervention workshops I had to attend that talking about feelings helps when people are acutely upset. This shit don't come naturally to me, but I read up.

I moved on to full on cuddling him at this point. I couldn't take it anymore. I wondered if he could sense my worry. If I could find out what happened I could do something about it. Just like with the bully from the other night I would find whoever made Zeph feel this way and make it right for him.
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~

Offline suneater

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 103
  • Initiate
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2019, 01:10:36 PM »
He didn't answer Drew right away, but he did lean into the sudden cuddling. Drew's strength and solidity helped a lot. It was like being anchored, and Zeph's moved against the older man to enhance the effects. Nothing lascivious- just turning his head to brush his cheek against Drew's shoulder, or moving his hand up the plane of his back, or twining their ankles together.

What happened? How are you feeling?

He wasn't sure how to answer either question. He was feeling dread. Drew's presence helped diminish it, but there was still a lead pit in his stomach that got colder every time he thought about leaving his apartment. And he couldn't tell Drew what had happened. He couldn't. He would think he was nuts, and then he'd leave, and then Zeph would feel even worse. He couldn't tell him...

... unless Drew already knew, and there was a safe way to test that, he realized.

He wasn't strong enough to pull out of the embrace. Instead, he miserably mumbled his question into Drew's shoulder:

"Have you ever heard of a club called Venture?"

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2019, 05:21:01 PM »
My analysis shifted as Zeph brought up Venture and I began to suspect what might've happened. I don't know what happened, but I made this pathetic gulp, cry thing that must've sounded pathetic, but I imagined some gross old fanger biting Zeph and scaring him for ever. I spent the entire last time I was hear trying not to bite the kid, and now some other stupid fucker had? Wait Drew. You're jumping to conclusions. All he asked was did you know the club. You do. Start with that.

"Yeah I was just there actually," I tested, seeing what follow up questions Zeph might ask me.

I held him tighter when he said Venture's name and so on some level he may know I know what goes on there. Maybe I could tell him about me? It looked like vampires were the last thing he wanted to see, and there I was cuddling him up. God damn I'm a creep. He felt nice though, in my arms, and creep or not there was no place I'd rather be, even with him so sad. As I waited for his reply I nawed on his opposite shoulder a bit, a playful biting to make him squirm a bit. I tried my best to smile at him, but I'm sure my concern beamed through.
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~

Offline suneater

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 103
  • Initiate
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2019, 04:50:17 AM »
Yeah, I was just there actually.

Zeph tensed at the words, and pulled away a bit (it was hard, entangled as they were) when Drew ducked his head to nibble at his shoulder. The most disturbing of his dreams since Venture had involved various figures from the evening (and even several at once) doing just that, and his shoulder was far too close to his neck for the nymph to not be triggered.

He drew back, his features uncharacteristically focused on Drew, trying to glean everything he could about the statement. His response had been almost casual, as if Venture wasn’t a big deal, but if there was one thing Zeph’s experience had imparted to him it was that people had to know what the place was about to set foot inside. He’d been an exception, an odd circumstance.

So right. Drew at least knew about vampires, and maybe even was one, or was like Rodrigo and involved with one. Fear began scuttling about in Zeph’s chest, but Drew’s embrace was still comforting. Aside from a poorly timed playful bite, there was nothing the man was doing that made Zeph worry at all. In fact he felt waaaaaay better than he had prior to Drew’s arrival, even with the current topic.

He was still in Drew’s arms, but had pulled back enough to regard him carefully. Drew would see the gears turning inside Zeph’s pretty little head as he decided how to proceed.

“My friend brought me,” he started, just above a whisper. “Nothing… nothing really happened.” His voice fell a bit there. Technically it was true. No one had harmed him, and the worst he’d suffered was a few scares and some mental intrusion. Considering how things could have gone, it could have been much worse. “But I’m scared. Th-they want me to come back.” He was still looking at Drew, hoping he had answers, or something to say that might help even a fraction as much as his presence had.

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2019, 12:23:49 PM »
I was backed into a corner. I needed to tell him the truth. I hated the feeling of him tensing up in my arms. I never wanted him to do that again, but as I decided honestly really is the best policy, I let him go. I placed him down on the bed and took several steps back. I had no idea how he was going to take this, and if he freaked out, I just didn't want to make it worse by having him in my arms. I backed off the bed and stood, holding my beanie in my hand. I couldn't look at him. I couldn't see his shaken, sad face, and I definitely couldn't see the moment he started to hate me. I sighed a deep sigh, and threw a hand behind my head, scratching my neck.

"So look Zeph. I like you and I want to help. But I can't do that if we're not honest with each other." I was rambling again, but I wasn't quite ready to say the words yet. I looked around his room at the amount of stuff, finding it pleasent to look at something else other than the guy I was about to hurt.

"The thing is... I... I'm a vampire." I looked at him now to see his reaction, and opened my mouth to show him my fangs as proof. I was fully prepared to leave at this point. I was sure he'd want me to. As I scanned his face I couldn't help but let my mind wander. The rejection was coming and I knew it, letting a touch of humor enter my thoughts.

Still wanna make out?
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~

Offline suneater

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 103
  • Initiate
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2019, 12:53:57 PM »
A frown etched itself into Zeph's face as Drew released him and moved away. He sank back into the nest of tangled comforters, wriggling onto his side so that he was still at least facing the man as he looked up at him. His features were a knot of emotion, tangled filaments of everything ranging from discomfort to uncertainty, all of it filtered through his somewhat boyish crush on his knight in leather armor and combat boots. He listened solemnly as Drew fumbled through his preamble.

But I can't do that if we're not honest with each other.

During the pause, an anxious idea ricocheted around in his mind. Drew had pulled away. Had he done something wrong? Drew had just been to Venture. Had he learned about something Zeph had done there that he disapproved of, and viewed as an omission on Zeph's part? The nymph couldn't think of anything that would qualify, but still, he couldn't help but worry that Drew somehow thought him in the wrong - at least until the revelation came.

I... I'm a vampire.

Zeph's eyes widened completely as the words sank in and Drew displayed his fangs. His mouth had fallen just slightly open, enough to reveal the pink of his tongue beyond. The knot of emotion unraveled, tied itself back up, and then finally untangled itself to reveal sheer disbelief. Zeph began to laugh. It was not the stoner chuckle or gale of laughter he usually exhibited- it was a dull, choked sound that just didn't sound right coming from the happy-go-lucky air-blooded. He flopped down onto his back and then dragged a pillow over his face.  There was nothing dramatic - no pressure, no scream - in the action. The hollow syllables of laughter were muffled and quickly died.

After perhaps ten seconds he peeked out from underneath the pillow, exposing just a single blue eye to peer at Drew. "This is really weird. Do you know Ben? Or Charon? Or Rodrigo?" An edge of interest gleamed in the words. "Or is this just some kind of crazy coincidence, that I find out vampires are real and then, bam, the guy I'm kinda into, he's a vampire too?" He disappeared behind the pillow again, falling silent before reiterating a muffled: "Reeeeally weird."

Offline Billiam

  • Scribe
  • ****
  • Posts: 927
  • Anarch
    • View Profile
Re: Operation Cheer Up
« Reply #10 on: Today at 03:23:27 AM »
I never met a vampire before the one who made me, and she only seemed interested passing her blood on to me. Zeph’s reaction was better than I hoped but it wasn’t good, and I felt concern, hearing his choked laugh and subsequent use of a pillow to disassociate. I kicked myself for not telling him sooner, but how could I? True he was a nymph but I am often amazed at how little supernatural species know about one another. When the order to leave didn’t come I relaxed a bit, and I admit as I saw his eye peeking out from the protectiveness of his pillows I felt a sliver of hope. It was also such a cute gesture than even in all my gooey emotions I couldn’t help but smile at him.
I didn’t know anyone named Rodrigo. Ben was a name with a little street value and some yahoo had tried paying me to catch him in the act with Charon. Apparently they were involved. Now Charon was a name everyone with two pieces of a brain knew, and the stories I’d heard - including the ones about Ben - made me realize at least in part what might’ve happened.

“I know who Charon is,” I admitted, keeping me superficial knowledge of Ben quiet. If I did end up taking that job I didn’t need to add a conflict in Zeph. What if he and Ben were friends? I moved to the bed and sat back down, extending a hand should Zeph seek to hold it, snuggle it, chew on it, or whatever else might help.

“But in general it’s not like we all know each other. I doubt any of those people know about me. So you’re kind of into me huh?”

It was changing the subject, but I wanted to confirm I heard right, and that I hadn’t pushed him away with my disclosure.
The moment you feel fang touch skin, you realize there's no drug better than this. There's no going back. - Bryant Mitchell

INFUSCO
Greed~Lust~Gluttony~Wrath~Envy~Sloth~Pride~