Old 12-21-2012, 10:38 PM   #1
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The Crusade

[OOC : This thread is closed to SinisterSpiders and myself. We both hope you enjoy our tale.]

The beat of the music was felt in Paul's bones. The woman at the turntables did an excellent job with the various tracks she had available to her, working the crowd on the dance floor just as well as a maestro would their beloved instrument. Paul moved around the slightly elevated dance floor, just two small steps away from the gyrating crowd. As he walked, he allowed himself to be carried by the music, almost dancing as he walked.

A few of the less regular patrons looked at him, wondering how he was ever allowed into the Succubus in the first place. His age was not the point of interest; his long, flowing hair that went past his shoulders was iron grey, as was the full, well groomed beard. But his hair was held in place by a woven band of colourful material that crossed his forehead. His slightly oversized, short sleeved shirt was a loud tie dyed affair of colours that tried to blind the viewer with their intensity. The jeans that were held up by a length of rope ended halfway between his knees and ankles in a curtain of bleached threads, some of which touched the top of his scruffy, hide moccasins. Snugly surrounding each wrist was a wide band of plain beaten copper with a half inch gap between each end.

But he moved through the main entertainment area like he owned the place. A thought many shared, and even gossiped on. But Paul didn't own the club, nor did he have any financial stake in the club itself. The true owner was more than happy to let Paul spend his time there, do his work there, and generally help out in his own special way.

Even though he looked like an old hippie, Paul had an excellent ear for music, and a fine understanding of what would be popular in the long term, rather than just a flash in the pan sound. He would find artists, some established, others up and coming, and get them to play at one of the Succubus' internal venues, depending on their style. Management would normally accept the recommendation, and the club and patrons reaped the benefits of Paul's well tuned ear. Much like how Totika was enjoying her third straight week entertaining the dancers.

Paul had other matters on his mind that he needed to attend to, particularly if he wanted to keep his home base running smoothly as it was. He threaded his way past other patrons moving from or to the slightly elevated dance floor. He filtered them from his mind, as he brought forth the information he needed to complete the meeting he was on his way to attending.

Patrons became a blur as he made his way along the long corridor to the stairs leading to the lowest level of the club. Some were heading the same way as he was, others were coming from down there. More than a few were using the corridor for some private matters that they felt were not to be done in the more public area of the club. Paul took the stairs two at a time, bobbing to the faint strains of Totika's music before syncing himself with the more passionate beats coming from below.

The lowest level of the Succubus was a stark contract to the floor above. While the main floor was a modern looking and feeling place, full of flashing lights and partying middle class people, Paul walked into a dark, almost claustrophobic environment. The walls were a deep black, save for the lighter coloured graffiti that broke the monotony. Dim lights gave enough illumination to let people see enough without eliminating the almost living shadows that clung to the corners and some segments of wall.

He came to a rest against the wall, fishing about in his pocket for the joint he readied earlier in the day. His face lit up as he pulled the roll free, wasting little time in lighting it up. He took a deep pull from the joint, a look of joy washing over him as he exhaled the large cloud of smoke. The leaf in the joint came from a plant he had specially cultivated to give it a nice feel when smoked. Safely cupped in his hand, he proceeded down the shorter hallway into the den that was the lower level of the Succubus.

When he entered the first main area of the level, the angry music and lyrics exploded around him. Players at the pool tables ignored him as they focused on their games, and the prizes riding on them. Three of the tables had a pile of cash sitting on each, while the fourth had a bored looking Princess of Darkness watching with thinly hidden interest as a fellow Goth took on an old school punk. Paul paused for a moment, looking at the young woman from crown to sole. A few soft Sanskrit words escaped his lips, allowing his vision to follow the flow of time around the woman. As he suspected, she was the prize for the game, and her partner in noir was going to loose more than just the game. She would be entranced by the punk and his ability to give her a fucking that she would never forget for the remainder of her artificially shortened life. He was relieved that he still had time to do something about it, but his meeting was far more pressing.

Paul entered the labyrinth, walking through the myriad of hallways with confidence and ease. He knew where he would meet the Italian, and what they would discuss. It didn't matter that he walked less than a foot away from a young man's first time sucking another's cock, nor that he heard the final words of one of the many drug deals that took place within the darkness. He walked past kissing couples, drunks and one who was higher than a jumbo jet. All of these people were doing it because they wanted to, and enjoyed it. That was all that mattered to Paul.

“You're late.” The voice was deep, guttural with a strong Sicilian accent to it. Paul recognised Peter's voice the moment he heard it. Dark hued olive skin with the midnight coloured hair and five o'clock shadow fitted the environment well. His suit was well cut, more at home with the top floor rather than the lowest, but business was business.

“I'm never late, man. You... you are just too stressed. Slow down a little, there's no need to rush.” Paul took another pull, the embers at the end shedding a tiny glimmer of light in the deep darkness.

Peter took a step forward, looming over Paul. Paul was impressed that a five foot seven man was able to give a six foot two person that impression. Paul showed more of his white teeth as his smile broadened.

“I am here to secure a deal. I am not here to socialise, particularly with someone like you.”

“Chill man. We're here to do a deal. I know that. But, you wont move even a fraction of a gram of your stuff in this place without my OK. This is my turf, no one else's, man. Now, about that crazy stuff you want to sell here, the answer's no.”

Peter took a step back, his dark eyes growing darker. Paul sensed his hands flexing regularly and could hear the slight squeal of grinding teeth.

“Like I said, man, chill. I'm not sure what would kill the user faster; the dosage or the crap that's been mixed in. The dose is too strong. Halve it, or even drop it to a third, and get the poison out of it too. You do that, you've got a deal.”

“No. It's sold as is. No changes to the formula. So, when do I start shipping?”

“Oh... man,” Paul laughed. “You need to do better at listening. No one sells here unless I let them. No. One. Try it, and you'll be in shit deeper than you can reach over. Now, fuck off man. Come back when you've cleaned up you produce.”

“You listen to me, flower child. My backers have decided that this is being sold here. You will sell it, or you will find yourself replaced with someone who has more sense than you. I will be back in forty-eight hours to close this deal with you, or your replacement.”

“I've heard that line many times, man. No one has been able to carry through yet. But go ahead, man, try your best to get this hippie busted, turfed or killed. Whatever you try, will befall you first.” Paul stepped back, signally to Peter that he could leave.
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:08 AM   #2
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Willow

“You made the call, that shows you still hold some hope.” Willow reaffirmed, pressing her ear harder against the phone as though it would make her point more salient. “The fact that you called meant that there was something that was stopping you. Can you tell me about that?”

The voice on the other side of the phone was muffled, drowned out by a dull back-beat of loud music. The man sounded flat, as though he had already swallowed the pills he said he was holding. It was another sign of a world gone sour; the corruption of the few left to bleed to the rest of the population. It was bad enough that someone was able to slip and slither through the cracks to reach a point this low, but it was entirely wrong that the means to grant their darkest wish was so easily provided.

“This is the only place I feel it.” The man said, his voice slurred and words barely audible.

“What do you feel there?” Willow asked softly, coaxingly.

“Anything. Everything.” The man replied. He was already drunk, she knew that, and she also knew that if he was holding drugs, they would be enough to send him over the edge. A one way trip to a beyond that was just as dark as his here and now.

“And you never feel anywhere else? There has never been another place, ever, that you have felt something?” She asked. Using these types of extreme statements usually coaxed a quick denial from the person on the other end of the line. Never and ever were strong words; very few people would deny such a statement.

“The Succubus is all I have.” He says. The name of that place comes up again and Willow’s mind reels. This is the fifth time in her six months of working with the telephone counselling service that she has heard the name of this place.

“The Succubus seems to appeal to a lot of people. Tell me, what brought you there today?” She asked, seeing a small glimmer of hope in this seemingly desolate situation.

“Anything. Everything.” The answer came again, a broken record of words she had heard too many times in this conversation. The glimmer of hope is flickering now, like a candle in the wind, time is becoming precious and Willow knows that she has to up the ante. Before she can speak, there is a soft, keening sound on the other end of the line and then it is interrupted by the long beeps of a phone that has been hung up.

Willow sighed and rubbed her eyes as she leaned back in her chair. She ripped the earpiece and microphone off a little more vigorously than she should have and throws them on the table. This was supposed to be where she made a difference; this was meant to be the one job she could do where she could reach out to those people that society left behind. Instead, she had begun to feel as though she was leaving them behind too.

Willow got out of her seat and stretched her cramped body. Her dark hair fell in loose waves around her body, her tight dark denim jeans and white business shirt crumpled from her time at her desk. Her brown eyes scanned around the room for Geoff, she braved smile when she spotted him listening in on a colleague's call.

“I’m off for the night,” She tells him “Another call like that and I’ll be the one on the other end of the line.”

He laughs, but it is a peculiar laugh that they all share. Sympathetic, consoling, and all too understanding that there is truth behind such a seemingly flippant statement.

~*~

Willow was tired. She knew that because her eyelids were drooping and her mind was dancing around like a company of ballerina’s, but perhaps not so gracefully. When she pulled her old car into the parking lot of the mysterious Succubus, her eyes widened.

Anything. Everthing.

The words slithered through her mind and through her entire body. Isn’t that what she was looking for also? Isn’t that what she needed? She turned the keys in the ignition and the car spluttered into silence. She opened the door and grabbed her handbag, then shut it and locked it before reason started to take hold. She needed to get to bed. She was tired. She had work in the morning.

Willow looked up and saw the Succubus looming before her. The neon sign flickering and humming with electricity in the stark night. So many callers had mentioned this place. So many people finding solace and release within its walls. She put on a brave face for her colleagues, but really she was just like her callers; desperately searching for hope in a world full of corruption and lies. Perhaps one drink would be alright. One drink to calm her racing mind and put her back on the straight and narrow.

As Willow pushed open the thick, frosted glass paned door, the sight, sounds and smell of the Succubus assaulted her. The music was loud, the bass rattling her to her soul and replacing the subtle thrum of her heartbeat with something faster, more urgent, something infinitely more primal. She could smell the tang of alcohol, drugs and too many bodies. Her world turned from a dull blackness lit only by the red street signs, to a flashing wonderland of strobes. Each brilliant illumination outlining a new scene of people’s bodies pressed together as they danced to the beats that the DJ skilfully manipulated.

Willow was too entranced by the mass of life on the raised dance floor to get any closer. Instead she looked around, spying the bar at the other end of the room and made a bee-line for it. When she reached the bar she smiled at the person behind it.

“Vodka and orange juice.” She said, then thought better of it “Double shot please.” The barman gave her a wry smile and quickly went about filling her order. In a few seconds she had the drink, settled the bill, and turned to face the writing mass of humanity.

There were so many people here, so many people from different walks of life. However, they all seemed to have one thing in common. They all looked as though they were having a good time. There were even people in attire not too different from her own, unwinding for the night.

Anything. Everything.

The words haunted her and Willow shook her head and took a sip of her drink. It was more like a triple shot. Maybe it was what she needed. The tang of the orange juice stung her lips as she took a second look, a deeper look.

Before she could find what she was looking for Willow was distracted by a momentary flash of colour disappearing into a corridor she previously hadn’t seen. There was a radiant rainbow, framed by a steel grey that contrasted with the brightness of the fabric. Curiously, Willow got to her feet and weaved through the sea of bodies, following the elusive white rabbit that promised lead to her Wonderland.

Down the rabbit hole. Her rabbit hole. A dark corridor leading to an even darker set of stairs. Despite the fact that her better judgement told her not to, Willow took another sip of her Vodka and OJ as she descended the stairs and was struck by a sudden sense of vertigo.

Willow felt just like Alice. The world beyond the rabbit hole was strange and different from the one above. The angry music washed over her in waves and became more than her pulse, it became the energy with which she was built. It took over her and became her reality. The lyrics combined with the screams of the instruments played with her mind in a way that she would never have anticipated.

The people around her were different from those above as well. They were unlike those from before who were seeking enjoyment, seeking solace. This new cast were all as different and individual as fingerprints, each leaving a smudge on her alcohol-altered sense of reality.

A flash of colour was all it took to remind her of her purpose. The bright hues a beacon of hope among the dark work around her. It was like the City and the Succubus. The corruption held within the dark cement walls and the pulse of humanity within the club. Curios and curioser.

Willow tried to follow the person like she would a Will-o’-the-wisp; feeling like the being’s remarkable brightness was leading her to her fate. Or her doom. She never could remember the legend properly.

The lower levels of the Succubus proved to be a maze. Willow had to concede that she had lost her beacon of hope when she passed a young man sucking on another man for the third time. How did it happen? How did that hope get away from her so easily? She took another sip of her drink and decided that perhaps this was a bad idea.

Anything. Everything.

She could understand how people could become lost in this place.She had to find her way out before it consumed her too.

Last edited by SinisterSpiders : 12-22-2012 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:17 AM   #3
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Paul watched Peter stalk out into the darkness. He took a couple of more pulls of his joint, letting the effects take root in his body. Those effects triggered changes in his mind that were more reflex than out of any real effect by the narcotics flowing through his bloodstream.

Paul was more aware of everything around him. His eyes penetrated the gloom more, showing him the secrets the lack of light normally denied him. He heard the noises of those close to him within the labyrinth as if he was next to them. He nodded in agreement to some of what he heard, shook his head and stifled his laughter at others. Even the heavy air sluggishly moving around him felt warmer and more alive. But the most beneficial outcome was that he was open to the flows of the universe and could use his most valued talent.

Magic.

The main reason for staying close to the Succubus was the place was thick with the flow of essence. The people came there to relax, to get away and imagine new things. In his heightened state, he could almost taste the essence created by the people rejoicing at the music, and taking part in the dances. He could draw on it, store it away so well, he had no need to meditate to do it, or even hasten the flow into him.

Paul headed off, casually weaving his way through the labyrinth for a while until he remembered that there was a young woman in potential trouble. He turned to start taking the shortest path to return to the pool tables. He arrived just in time to see the game reach a point where the Goth was going to loose. The bright green and blue, spiky haired was leaning back against the wall, smiling as he watched the pale faced, black attired youth try valiantly to figure out how to get out of the predicament he was in.

Paul was in a similar state. Even without his heightened awareness, he could tell that the game would end soon, and the punk would be the victor. That young man was resting casually, no signs of tension anywhere to be seen. He was in complete control of himself, and the game. The Goth, however, was sweating, fidgeting checking and double checking his shot. Paul could tell that he was delaying the inevitable, hoping against the odds that he might find something that would save his position.

Paul went and found himself a stool, sat down and watched the game proceed to the foregone conclusion. Both men were graceful victor and defeated, and the girl seemed to be happy with the result too. Images flashed in Paul's mind from his earlier vision - ... black lace dress spread out across the ground... bra down around her pale, slim waist... hair matted around her bruised face... dark wet stains near her thighs... shininess catching in her hair... deep cut to her throat... tacky pool surrounding her completely...

Paul stood up, taking a couple of quick puffs as he closed on the victor leading his prize away form the field of challenge. he was holding her close to him, pressing her against the various studs and protrusions of his clothing. She was shyly looking down, but Paul could feel her pleasure at being with him. He corrected himself quickly, happy at being away from the Goth.

"Hey, hold one a moment, my colourful bud. I just noticed that you beat bleach boy to gain the hand, and rather voluptuous body of this young woman. I bet I can beat you at that game of pool. If I win, I get the girl. If you win... I can give you some good shit that if you don't use yourself, can get few quite a few bucks from your friends."

"Thanks for the offer, flower power, but I ain't in the mood. The girl and I have places to go and things to do."

Paul looked at the young tough, trying to figure out how goad him into accepting his challenge. It took him less a second to work it out. He shrugged, stepping around the two.

"Well, I can understand you not wanting to loose against an old man like me. Beating a kid is easy. Beating someone with some skill, that's too much for a youngster like you."

The punk stopped as if his feet had been nailed to the floor. He looked over his shoulder, giving Paul a feral grin.

"Nice try, old timer, but I'm not falling for it."

"That's fine. But when you're brothers here about how you walked away from someone challenging your right to a woman because you were scared..."

"I'm not scared of some old fart like you."

"Your friends wont hear it that way."

He stopped, letting go of the girl, turning to face Paul across an increasingly clear space. The younger man's fists were balled as he stalked back towards Paul. Paul stood still, one hand resting against the vacant table, the other bringing the roll to his mouth. The youth raised one of his clenched fists, ready to strike. Paul blew smoke into his face.

The effect was just as Paul hoped for. While the younger man flinched form the smoke in his face, Paul grabbed his neck, spun around and slammed his face into the table. He leaned down putting his mouth near his ear, small wisps of smoke leaking from his mustache.

"Now, don't be a little shit trying to be the macho man. Do that, and you'll have quite a tale to tell about how an old fart broke so many bones in your body beating the crap out of you. Now, you take up the challenge, boy. See if your stick work is better than your fists."

"OK," the red faced punk snarled. "But I ain't touchin' no drugs, so you best come up with a different stake or you'll have a shit rep out on the streets. What are you going to put up for if I win?"

'Fuck! I knew there was a flaw in this plan.'
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:25 PM   #4
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Willow

The sound of the angry music pulsed through her body as Willow stumbled through the labyrinthine corridors. She looked at the glass in her hand and was surprised to see that it was almost completely empty. Had she really already had that much to drink? Her memories of the upstairs level of the Succubus were floating about in her mind like the drawn out shadows of dusk and she wondered how much time she had spent foolishly following the promise of a rainbow.

Finally Willow found herself in the room with the pool table again. This time the music seemed even louder and the room was filled with a tension she couldn't identify. A feeling that made her skin crawl and the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Willow stumbled, falling over an abandoned cup and reached out for the wall to steady herself. In the process she dropped her own glass and it fell to the floor with a spectacular smash. Quickly, quicker than she should have, she fell to her knees and begun to clumsily pile the glass against the wall so that no one would step on it. When she got upstairs she would have to tell the man behind the bar.

"Shit!" Willow cursed, her hand pulling back against her chest instinctively as blood began to bead along the long cut on her hand, her hair falling over her shoulder in a long curtain when he head bowed to inspect the damage. The fact that she could hardly feel it, combined with the knowledge of how hard she had fallen to her knees, told her that she would wake up in a lot of pain in the morning.

More carefully this time, Willow got to her feet, tossing her hair back over her shoulder. She used the wall again, this time without the hindrance of a glass in her hand, and managed to get to her feet, barely. She was just about to continue her ascent to normality when something caught her eye. She turned, mouth opening in an "O" of surprise. There it was- the rainbow she had been looking for, the colours swirling on the man's shirt in a beautiful pattern, so intense that she almost had to avert her eyes.
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:10 AM   #5
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Rather than panic outwardly, Paul remained calm, taking yet another pull from his joint. The familiar taste and other effects soon helped him keep his panic at bay. He was going to save the girl, and if the punk didn't want drugs, he would offer a prize he knew the young fellow would take.

It was at that point Paul noticed a woman enter the room that stood out. She seemed to be more colourful, rather than the bland visions of the other people within the room. She had a vibrancy to her that spoke to him on a level deeper than his soul. While he looked at her, he smiled warmly, relaxing totally. Without taking his eyes off her, he lifted the punk off the table, turning his head toward the beauty that entered the room.

While not attired like the goth girl, she had all the hallmarks of being the perfect visual specimen. Fair skin from too much time out of the sun, hair dark enough to be black in the lowly lit environment. She choice of clothing was far from Gothic Chic, but it showed off a figure well worth looking at regardless of the apparel. Paul knew in that moment, if he ever got the chance to share with her, he would.

"See her. You beat me, you win her just like you won that little Goth girl. That good enough for your wager?"

The punk shrugged himself out of Paul's grip, looking over the woman Paul indicated. He gave Paul a nasty looking grin. "You're kidding me? She'll agree to it?"

"Does it matter?"

The punk looked at Paul again, reassessing him in a glance. The younger man relaxed slightly, his belligerent tone waning slightly as a modicum of respect blended into the mix.

"You'd better deliver when I win."

Paul smiled. "You break."

Paul walked over to where the Willow stood, leaning against the wall. He closed on her casually, stopping far enough away not to crowd her, yet still be heard over the noise in the room.

"Evening, ma'am. I need your help for the next few minutes. I'm in need of a good luck charm, and you happen to give me a very good vibe." He slipped his arm around her shoulders, and guided her over to the table when the punk was lining up his shot.

The punk glanced up at Willow for a moment, smiling knowingly, before sending the cue ball down the table to break up the cluster of balls, sending the number 2 ball into a corner pocket. Not a word was said as he sauntered around to take his followup shot.

Paul gave Willow a reassuring smile while he formulated his plan of attack.
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Old 12-25-2012, 07:37 AM   #6
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Willow

When her White, or rather Rainbow, Rabbit came over to her Willow's breath caught in her throat. She was drunk and disoriented, but when he came by she felt a clarity that she hadn't felt a few moments ago. As he put his arm over her shoulder all of the noise in the room around them disappeared and she could only concentrate on that wonderful point of contact. A small part of her brain told her that she needed to leave, that she had to continue out of the club and get back home, but she shushed it.

When the punk broke up the balls and sent one of them skittering Willow turned to look at the steely-haired man beside her. Normally, if someone had been so forward she would have given them a nice elbow to the stomach. However, she had been drunkenly pursuing a hint of his vibrancy for the better part of her drunken haze, and she didn't want to give up her triumph just yet.


"Who are you?" She managed to ask curiously, looking up into his worldly eyes and taking in his handsome ageless appearance.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:07 PM   #7
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Paul split his attention between his new companion and his competitor. It was with a degree of nerves he watched three balls get sunk with ease, but was then placed in a position where he couldn't do much good.

"Who are you?"

he turned to face a pair of intense eyes staring at him. He knew that look; he had given it many times before. She was soaking up every detail she could see of him. He would be very surprised if he asked her to describe him again in twenty years time, that she would forget something.

"I'm Paul. And you would be?" He kept looking her way as he went over to take his shot. When he wasn't looking at her, he scanned the table. He found that there was little chance of him sinking one of his balls, so tried valiantly to deprive him of a chance with his shot. His turn over, Paul walked back to stand beside Willow.

"I hope you don't mind staying around and watching. I know this will sound strange, but having you here makes me feel more relaxed, and slightly luckier too."

A fourth ball had been sunk, and the punk sauntered past the pair, once more giving Willow a thorough look.

"Of course you're more relaxed. You don't want your wager to do a runner now, would you?" He continued to casually walk to stand beside his first prize of the night, staring back at the other two and smirking.
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Old 12-26-2012, 05:35 AM   #8
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Willow

"Willow." She could hear just how slurred her speech was over the loud bass of the music. She looked at Paul more closely, trying to determine what it was about him that had her so mesmerised. "However, I don't think I am bringing you any luck." Willow said slowly, a wry grin on her face as Paul failed to make a shot.

It wasn't until the punk looked at her, his eyes devouring her greedily, that Willow's mind started to ring with loud alarm bells. When the wretched man spoke it only made her feel even more ill than she already did.

"Wager?" She half asked, half growled, glaring at Paul and stepping away from him. Her hands felt fuzzy and about two sizes larger than normal, but they had no trouble finding her hips. "What does he mean? Your wager doing a runner?"

She had been stupid to come here, and even stupider to let this Rainbow Rabbit steer her off course. She should be hailing a taxi by now. Not watching a game of pool. If it could be called that. It was more like a slaughter.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:55 PM   #9
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"Willow," Paul spoke softly, letting the feel of her name settle on his lips. "A fitting name for you. Something graceful about a willow in you."

"However, I don't think I am bringing you any luck."

"Well, maybe you'll have to use your charms a little to bring me the luck I need."

Paul wanted to kill the little shit for his blurting about Willow's role as a wager. He had been hoping to let it slip past unnoticed as he beat the younger rough. Naturally, Willow took it less than well.

"Wager? What does he mean? Your wager doing a runner?"

He stopped the smile coming across his face when she struck the rather alluring pose with her hands on her hips. Combined with the vibe she was trying to burn him with, he couldn't help but notice how sexy she was. he cast a sideways glance at the punk, before taking a step or two closer.

"I needed a little help trying to get the young girl away from him. He's going to hurt her badly if she leaves with him. Challenging him to the game was the best way of saving her." He let his expression drop to one of blatant seriousness. "Please, just stay here until the game is over. I promise you will not be harmed by anyone."

He went and found his smouldering joint, taking one last long pull from it. He found The Place, centring himself quickly. He allowed himself to firstly see the flow of Karmic Cycle, narrowing it down to pinpoint on the table, and the balls spread out on it. He saw the possibilities of how the balls could move, their interactions with one another and how to shape them into ways that would benefit him. But before he could do that, he needed a cover to explain it, lest he get slapped down by the world around him.

"Could I please, please call on the aid of one of you lovely ladies to champion Lady Luck for me, and bestow her blessings on a poor fool like me... so I have a slim chance of winning this game?"

He turned his pleading eyes toward Willow, hoping against the odds that she would help him.

"Man, all I ask is for one kiss, lovlies, right here." He pointed to his cheek, just where the beard ceased, and his bare face commenced. "Please?"
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:37 AM   #10
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Willow

Willow peered over at the drunken girl Paul was referring too. She knew that the girl was wasted because, even in Willow's present state of inebriation, the girl looked drunk. If Willow could see it, then she must be quite out of sorts. She looked a little put out though, like a spoilt child who didn't get the toy they wanted from Santa. She kept looking over at the punk and giving him a lingering glance before looking at Paul with a mixture of open curiosity and petulant resentment. Also, judging by the dismayed look on the face of a Goth guy who was staring at the girl, he had lost the last game of pool.

To Willow, the girl didn't look as though she was in trouble. She seemed pleased to flutter around the creepy punk. The creepy punk, however, was an entirely different matter. The way he looked at Willow made her skin crawl, and his cocky bravado with his skill showed her that he was a jerk. His eyes were filled with a dangerous mixture of confidence and sadism that, alone, was enough for Willow to want him to lose. The guy sent out bad vibes. Very bad vibes.

Paul was a different story. His words had been honest and heartfelt, even if Willow wasn't sure that they were accurate. She looked at the joint he had just finished smoking and had to wonder how much of his concern was fueled by the effects of the marijuana. Despite his good intentions (drug induced or not), it was no excuse to drag Willow into the mix. What if Paul lost the game? Would he expect her to follow through on his unauthorised gambit? Or would he try and help her out of the situation? What was the point of trying to save one person only to condemn two? Judging by the look on the Punk's face, he had no intention of letting a prize go free.

Willow took a step closer to Paul and brought her face close to his, her lips a few centimetres away from the smooth patch of skin just above his beard. If the girl was in trouble then she couldn't walk away. Wasn't this the reason she was here in the first place? Because she had failed to save someone?

"You'd better win this game." Willow hissed into Paul's ear. With the loud music still raging around them only he would be able to hear her hushed tone. "If you don't you'll be in deep shit; I am not going anywhere with that prick." She said.

Willow took a step back and looked between the Punk and Paul before schooling her face into a sweet smile.

"Good luck Paul." She said loudly enough for the others to hear. "I've seen you get out of worse binds before."

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:58 AM   #11
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Paul felt a tangible wave of relief pass over him when Willow approached. If she left a kiss on his cheek, bringing him the luck he required, then he would be able to slip his little bit of magic past everyone, and not get the biggest bitch slap of all.

Plus, it was always nice getting kissed by a pretty girl, no matter where they kissed him.

She moved close, bringing her lips close to the spot he had indicated. With the relief came the relaxation he needed, and above all the means to focus properly and not make any mistakes. It was not the kind of effect he did all the time, so every little thing that made it easier was good as far as he was concerned. She smelled nice, at least her hair did, even with the subtle smells of the city in the mix. He briefly wondered how she would smell fresh from a shower or bath.

"You'd better win this game. If you don't you'll be in deep shit; I am not going anywhere with that prick."

Paul's eyes went wide, turning to look straight at Willow as she stepped back to eye off the combatants. he barely held on to the spell he had woven in his mind as her words blasted their way through his mind. He felt so sure that she was going to leave a kiss there that he hadn't prepared for any other eventuality.

"Good luck Paul. I've seen you get out of worse binds before."

'Today's lesson: Don't be an arrogant prick, Paul.'

He was looking about for someone else who could help him, but there were only two women present. One who wouldn't want to help him, and the other didn't help him. He put on a forced smile, trying desperately not to imagine how the inevitable backlash was going to manifest, and hurt him. He walked over to the table, almost mimicking the man condemned as he took up his place, and readied himself to release the spell that would aid him increase his luck with the pool balls.

'Good luck Paul. I've seen you get out of worse binds before.'

Willow's echoed in his head just as he released the spell. She wished him luck, and said that he had got out of worse before. Loud enough for those about him to hear. He relaxed again, opening his senses fully and watching the Karmic Cycle manifest before him. His smile became more natural, animated as he saw how best to play the next shot, and ensure that he sank a ball, and laid up the following shot. Putting himself into the hands of the universe, he played his shot as suggested, and it turned out exactly as suggested.

"Woohoo, man! Finally." He moved around the table, passing his opponent. "Man, you should thank Willow for not planting one on me. If she had, I probably would have sunk two on that shot."

Paul took a moment, letting the Karmic flow again guide his actions. 'A Jedi uses the Force to guide his actions.' Paul laughed as Sir Alec Guinness' voice quoted the well used line from the original Star Wars movie. Another shot, another ball in a pocket. A third ball joined those in the pockets before Paul was left without a scoring shot.

He moved to the music that echoed down the hall from the other dance venue, sliding to a stop beside Willow. He gave her his best, friendly smile, swapping the cue stick between his hands in time to the beat. He leaned his head over a little, stopping just short of resting it on her shoulder.

"I would have preferred the kiss on the cheek, Willow, but what you gave me did the trick alright. At least, I hope it does."

Paul's smile faltered when the punk's fifth ball dropped, rapidly followed by the sixth. All that was left was the '1' ball, and the '8'. The punk walked back to stand beside the goth girl, grinning from ear to ear.

"Actually, I just may still need that kiss." He straightened himself, securing the cue in his hand. "I might need a little more luck."
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:18 AM   #12
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Willow

The sense of relief that Willow felt upon seeing Paul sink those three balls was short lived when the Punk creep sunk more of his in rapid succession and with a single-minded precision that alarmed her. Shit, she thought, realising that this could turn very bad very soon.

Paul seemed to lose his confidence as well. Willow had watched as he expertly lined up his shot. Despite the drugs racing through his system he still seemed to move and speak with a balance that was at odds with what she had expected. Another look at the Punk made Willow's already churning insides churn all the more. If Paul won, and she tried to leave on her own, who knew what the guy would do.

Despite her anger at the devilish white rabbit Willow shrugged him off her shoulder and turned to face him, fixing him with a hard glare.

"Don't even begin to think that I'm happy with you." She begun, her head tipping to the side as she smiled for their observers, pretending that her words were nothing more than casual flirting. "You got me into this situation and I expect you to get me out of it." She told him. She noticed that her tongue didn't feel quite as heavy and her senses were clearing as the effects of the alcohol lessened.

With a surge of desperation Willow grabbed either side of Paul's face, his beard tickling the palms of her hands, and pulled his face down to her. If he wanted a kiss she was going to give him a damned kiss.

Willow's lips slammed against Paul's and she poured all of her anger and desperation into the kiss. She slid her tongue along his lip teasingly before pulling away just as quickly as she had leapt at him. She looked at him with a raised eyebrow and stuck her thumb over her shoulder.

"Now go and win this damned game already, alright?" She snapped, stepping aside and hoping that her kiss would indeed bring him luck. He was going to need it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:10 AM   #13
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With his senses as sensitive as they were, he felt the weight of her glare against his skin. The heat of her anger was concentrated like a laser beam, and felt just as painful. Further, it was clear that her anger was burning away the alcohol in her, sobering her up faster than would be expected. Paul wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

"Don't even begin to think that I'm happy with you. You got me into this situation and I expect you to get me out of it."

The words said one thing, the person behind those words was screaming something totally different. he played along, looking at her sheepishly while she 'berated' him. If he ever had any doubts about the phrase "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned", Willow would have put them to rest. All he was focusing on was wining the game so she didn't kill him, or worse.

He was completely blindsided by her move of grabbing his face with both hands. He was trying to make head or tails over what was happening as he felt himself being bent over. All thought ceased when his lips crashed into hers.

The spell he had been concentrating on, failed as he lost complete track over it. Luckily, as it had been working so well, it merely faded from his mind without any nasty side effects.

But with his senses wide open as they were, the impact of her kiss was enormous. Her kiss was almost a living entity by itself. He felt the power of her anger, desperation and other emotional detritus caught up in the flow. It flowed around him, scalding his skin while bring it to life. In a brief flash of clarity, he knew she opened her self to him for the barest moment, letting him taste of her wellspring, her very soul through her holy passions. His eyes, already wide from the surprise of the kiss, grew more saucer like when her tongue brushed his lips, giving him something he may have otherwise missed.

As she pulled away from him rapidly, he felt the linger shock of the passage of the quintessence from her to him. He felt the desperation passed from her to him. Not a desperation for herself, but for others. He looked at her with a faint awe and greater respect.

He blinked a couple of times before clearly seeing her raised eyebrow and thumb that clearly told him where he should be.

"Now go and win this damned game already, alright?"

He turned his head mechanically as she stepped aside for him. he snapped himself to attention, ripping off a salute that would have made a drill sergeant proud. "Yes, Ma'am." His smile threatened to break his face in half as he walked briskly toward the table. His mind quickly formulated a different approach, one more powerful than the original one. Rather than just watching the Karmic Cycle, Paul was going to actively change the odds and effect the movement of the balls on the table.

He gave the punk a truly evil grin as he released the effect, powered by the gift he received from Willow. He knew in that moment, he would be able to bend the flow of the karma about the table. The game was his.

Paul sank his fourth ball with ease, the perfect angled shot that anyone beyond a beginner would get. The fifth was a subtle tap as the cue ball rolled around the table, bouncing off the cushions seemingly at random. Sixth dropped to a shot the refused to fall in the middle pocket, but then proceeded to race across the table to disappear into a corner opposing. Paul was left with the '13' ball, and then the '8'. he didn't even take the time to look carefully, he just lined up a cushion, took his shot and sent the 13 into a pocket without touching anything on it's way in.

"I warned you, man. She's one lucky gal, is Willow." He looked down at the table, then glanced up at his opponent. "Eight ball, lower right corner pocket." Paul took his time, making sure that he left nothing to "chance", sending the ball into the nominated pocket with a moderate degree of force.

Paul stood up triumphant, resting his cue against the table. "That, is game. I do believe that it is time for you to depart without the fair damsel at your side."

"I'm happy to do that, but the young lady may think differently." He put an arm around her waist, pulling her in tight. He took a step back from the table, the girl still secure in his grasp. Paul bounded around the table, coming to a stop in front of the punk and the goth girl.

"Now, that's all fair. But I do need to ask the young lady the question. Do you want to stay or do you want to leave?"

With the subtle emphasis on the word 'stay', Paul broke through the Illusion of the Self, touching the girl's mind with his own and leaving her with the desire to stay there rather than leave. Her eyes narrowed slightly at his question, then her hand went to the punk's at her waist, pulling it away from her.

"I'll stay here. After all, he won me." She looked a little confused as she spoke.

"Willow, could you please take the girl to the bar and get her something to drink. Tell them that Paul's paying." Paul pointed to the bar at the far end of the pool room while he turned his attention back to the young man he defeated.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:39 PM   #14
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Willow

It was with a haughty sense of satisfaction that Willow stepped back and watched as Paul saluted her and made his way to the pool table. The look of shock on his face had been priceless, as had his disorientation afterwards. Serves him right, Willow thought.

Willow's smugness was short lived though when she remembered why she had kissed him in the first place. The first shot was a no-brainer, even Willow with her limited pool playing expertise could have pulled that off. On the next shot, Paul sent the white rolling around the table and bouncing off the cushions, seemingly at random, until it knocked one of his balls it. Willow had to stop herself from cheering for him. This was going better than she had hoped.

The next two shots were truly inspirational. They left Willow wondering if Paul had planned this all along. Perhaps he was actually very good at pool and had foolishly tried to hide his skill to lull the Punk into a false sense of security. If that was his plan it would have been better if the Punk was crap at the game.

"I warned you, man. She's one lucky gal, is Willow. Eight ball, lower right corner pocket." Paul took his time lining up the next shot, checking it from every angle and looking as though he was deep in thought as to how it should be played. When he lowered his body, pool cue ready to strike, Willow couldn't help but hold her breath. If he didn't make this shot the game would pass to the Punk and he would undoubtedly sink the Eight. It wasn't an option she wanted to linger over.

The sound of the white striking the Eight was music to her ears, and the lovely thud of the Eight ball sinking into the pocket was like a choir of angels. He won! Willow worked hard to restrain her excitement, instead fixing him with an unimpressed glare as he went over to claim the girl. As Willow had predicted, the girl was quite disappointed when he tried to claim her. However, when Paul asked again Willow shivered and watched as the girl suddenly changed her mind. Without hesitation, Paul ushered the girl over to Willow and told her to go and get the Goth a drink.

Willow and the Goth girl made their way over to the bar, Willow flooded with the relief and the girl drowning in confusion. Over the loud music Willow managed to get the attention of the barman.

"What do you want?" She asked the girl. The girl looked at her, blinked, and then shook her head, looking as though Willow had interrupted a very important train of thought.

"Absinthe... Duplais." The girl said directly to the bar man who nodded at her and looked back to Willow.

"What is the most expensive non-alcoholic drink you have?" She asked him, raising an eyebrow. She needed a hit of alcohol more than she could fathom, but she knew that it would probably get her into even more trouble.

"Virgin Succubus or Pina Colada." He said.

"Well then, I'll have one of each please." Willow told him with a sweet smile, "And Paul said that they were on him." She nodded her head to where Paul was standing with the Punk and the barman just shrugged before going off to get their drinks.

Willow was pleased when she got her drinks, both of them, as they were quite tasty. She hoped they were damned expensive as well. That would serve him right. She contemplated asking for a very expensive bottle of wine as well, as compensation for the stress and being coerced into kissing him, but she decided that she would probably feel too guilty about it in the morning.

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Old 12-28-2012, 10:51 PM   #15
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"Now, man, you honour your word, lest the Great Karmic Cycle bitch slaps you from here into tomorrow." He brought his face in close to the punks, his eyes boring holes through the younger man's eyes. "If she doesn't, then I will make you wish she did."

The young ruffian was pulling his head back uncontrollably, his facade of bravado cracking under Paul's intense stare. He nodded, the forward spike tapping the tops of Paul's head.

"Now, get out of here before I loose my temper, man." He kept his hard stare on the young man as he made his way out of the room, heading toward the lower club entrance. Once the youth was gone, Paul relaxed, smiled openly and sauntered back to the bar where the two women were sitting.

He slid onto one of the stools beside Willow, looking at their drinks while the bartender brought over his.

"I think that's fair." He nodded, his finger vaguely pointing at the two drinks sitting before Willow. "There is some really nice spirits up on the top, left end. Really smooth liquors that don't pack that much of a kick, and don't leave you hung over. I thought you'd hit those personally."

He leaned forward a little more, fixing his gaze on the young Goth girl. "Sweetheart, your boyfriend over there is waiting for you. Why don't the two of you go somewhere quiet and have a good long talk about whatever's going on."

She swirled her drink a little, taking a sip with her eyes closed and fixing her gaze on the glass once more. "Talk is not going to change anything. It never does. It never will."

Paul scratched his bearded cheek. "Well, try talking with an open heart and open ears. You'll be surprised at what you'll say and hear. Finish your drink and got talk to him before you crush his heart along with your own."

She looked at him, tears filling her eyes. She pushed the glass away from herself, got up and walked away from them quickly. Paul cast a glance at the young Goth boy, nodding to him. The boy took off after the girl, both disappearing into the labyrinth.

Paul sighed. "I'm glad that's all worked out." He took up the tall glass of rose coloured liquid, downing it in one smooth motion. He turned to face Willow, his smile was warm, and slightly wistful. "Thanks. You just helped save her from being killed. Well, if you believe me that is." He stood up, smiled a little broader, and headed towards the hallway that led back to the upstairs dance floor.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:06 PM   #16
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Willow

Willow looked up as Paul sunk into the seat beside her. When he acknowledged her choice of beverages she was slightly disappointed to see that he was not annoyed at her. Perhaps she should have gone with the expensive bottle of wine instead.

Willow couldn't help but stare, dumbfounded, as Paul gave the goth girl some very sound, insightful advice. From the look on her face it was clear that he had hit a nerve. Her comment about nothing ever changing reminded Willow so much of the earlier phone call that she found herself sobering even further. The events of the night began to catch up with her and she wondered what the hell she had gotten herself into.

"I'm glad that's all worked out. Thanks. You just helped save her from being killed. Well, if you believe me that is." Paul said whilst finishing his drink. He smiled at her and then got up and disappeared into the hallway before Willow had a chance to think on what he said.

Surprising herself, she jumped out of her seat to follow him. Who did he think he was to use her as leverage and then not even debrief her? She wasn't sure if she believed that the Punk was going to kill the girl. Sure, he reeked of danger and hatred, but a killer? Either way, the coincidence that she had been following Paul through the labyrinth only to have him pull her into his strange game was not lost on her. Nor was the fact that she was now, once again, following the radiant flashes of his offensively bright shirt through the crowd of black-clad people.

When Willow surfaced in the main room of the club, the drunken dream-like haze of the lower levels shifted a bit. The loud music the DJ was still skilfully manipulating made her wonder just how long she had been submerged in the underground for. She looked around again, trying to catch a flash of Paul's long steely hair and bright top through the writing mass of casually dressed bodies.

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Old 12-29-2012, 06:52 AM   #17
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Paul was feeling good with himself. The young Goth girl was back with her beau, at least for a little while. Something deep down told him they would get over their little hump, and get down to a little humping. he chuckled to himself over the little play on words as he took the stairs two at a time.

The two levels were really two different worlds, and the third, the level above the dance floor, was almost another world again. He peered up through the massive opening above the dance floor, watching the spectators at the balcony watching the dancers below, as well as the select few that were on the elevated platforms above.

"Well, if they wear dresses or skirts up there, they really want the people below to know what's being worn underneath."

He walked a little closer to the bar, then stopped. Paul waited for a moment, letting the remnants of his opened senses tell him what he needed to know. he turned, taking two steps and bringing himself right before Willow.

"So, why are you following me? More importantly, do you know why you're following me? You feel the connection, don't you? Which is why you followed me into the labyrinth?" Paul circled Willow slowly. "You don't believe me, do you, when I told you that you helped save the young girl's life? That's what you're saying to yourself, but if you stop, and look deep into your soul, you feel that it was true."

He stopped behind her, he head down near her ear. "You are one who saves lives, aren't you Willow? You reach out to people when they need it. You help them, even though you feel they aren't being helped." He swept around to stand before her again. "But what is it? You can't help enough from where you are? You need to come out to where it all happens, save them direct?

"Are you Alice, ready to jump down the rabbit hole? Or are you going to be the sensible woman, and go back to doing what you have been and continue to help as you have?" He stood straight, bending his head to one side and raising it, looking down on her with an imperious expression. "Remember what happened to Alice, down the rabbit hole. Think on it, Willow, then imagine it darker, more horrifying, more maddening. If you can face that, then come back again tomorrow night. If you do, you might find the white rabbit, or maybe the Mad Hatter."

His grin became broad, almost unnaturally. "Or maybe you'll meet the Cheshire Cat.' He melded into the crowd, calling up once more his knowledge of the Illusion of Self to ease himself from Willow's mind so that she couldn't see him through the crowd. When he was safely away from her, he projected his thoughts to her, letting her hear his voice within the confines of her mind.

"Or, you just just read the book, rather than live it."
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:26 PM   #18
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Willow

Willow jumped when Paul appeared in front of her and stepped closer to her. His eyes pierced into hers as he questioned her.

"So, why are you following me? More importantly, do you know why you're following me? You feel the connection, don't you? Which is why you followed me into the labyrinth?"
His words slipped through her mind and played with her already fraught emotions. Why was she following him? Could she honestly tell him that his brightness stood out in a world of dull grey? Could she tell him that the contrast between his hair and shirt had hypnotised her? That the way he had used her and then left like it was nothing had frustrated her to no end?

"You don't believe me, do you, when I told you that you helped save the young girl's life? That's what you're saying to yourself, but if you stop, and look deep into your soul, you feel that it was true."

No, she didn't believe him. As Paul slowly circled her like a shark with its prey, she held her breath. How could he possibly know what was going to happen to that girl if she had left with the Punk. When he told her to look deep into her soul an image of the creepy Punk flickered into her mind and she shivered involuntarily. She knew that he wasn't someone she would ever want to be alone with, but did that make him a killer? And the girl had wanted to leave with him initially, did she have no right to carve her own path? When he stopped behind her the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, she could feel his hot breath on her skin and her heart fluttered in anticipation.

"You are one who saves lives, aren't you Willow? You reach out to people when they need it. You help them, even though you feel they aren't being helped." He swept around to stand before her again. "But what is it? You can't help enough from where you are? You need to come out to where it all happens, save them direct?

How did he know that? How could Paul possible know what she did. Willow's fists clenched at her side as a wave of nausea washed over her. This night had been too much. After the emotional drain of the threatened suicide coming here had been a mistake, the alcohol doubly so. She wasn't in the right state of mind to withstand Paul's mystical words.

Anything. Everything.

The haunting words she'd heard over and over again on the phone played through her mind and Willow looked back up at Paul. Even in the coloured strobe lights of the club he still radiated life and vitality in this world of perpetual dullness. Even though he had dragged her into a situation and used her to save (or not) a woman from being harmed, she couldn't fault him for it. His face looked more honest and genuine than she had seen in a long while, and she found part of herself wanting to believe him. If she had helped him to save that young woman, perhaps her earlier failure to aid the caller would be remedied. Perhaps she could make a difference.

"Are you Alice, ready to jump down the rabbit hole? Or are you going to be the sensible woman, and go back to doing what you have been and continue to help as you have? Remember what happened to Alice, down the rabbit hole. Think on it, Willow, then imagine it darker, more horrifying, more maddening. If you can face that, then come back again tomorrow night. If you do, you might find the white rabbit, or maybe the Mad Hatter."

Wasn't that the Wonderland she was already living in? Willow struggled to recall a time where her life hadn't been at least a little maddening. She had been to hell and back, she had escaped the ambivalent hell of the Fields of Asphodel and stopped herself from drowning in the River Styx on her ascent back to normality. She had been living her life, trying to make a difference, but tonight was the first time where she truly thought she might have achieved something. At least Paul seemed to think she had. When Willow looked up Paul had disappeared into the crowd and she suddenly felt very alone.

"Or, you just just read the book, rather than live it."

Paul's voice slithered through her mind and was like a balm to her burning thoughts. She looked around to try and locate him, but when the writhing sea of bodies failed to be anything other than swaying drones she gave up. She put a hand on her head as she pushed her way outside. When she left the Succubus and felt her the fresh nippy air of the city around her it was like she had breathed for the first time. Unsullied oxygen rushed through her body and her head exploded with pain. She thought for a moment about driving home, but then decided that it was a terrible idea in her present state. Instead, she made her way over to a line of taxis she saw down the street and let someone else chauffeur her back to normality.

~*~

The following day Willow woke up and was infinitely pleased that she did not have a hang over. Even though she hadn't had much to drink it had a monumental effect on her. However, when she woke up, bright eyed and bushy tailed, she almost felt like the whole previous evening had been a frighteningly lucid dream. That was, at least, until she found a stick shard of glass stuck to the bottom of her shoe. The sound of glass shattering had pierced through her mind.

Anything. Everything.

It was all Willow could do for the rest of the day to concentrate on her callers. Thankfully they were all relatively simple. People complaining about work, relatives, the upcoming holiday season. And the added bonus was that not a single person had ever mention the infamous Succubus.

"You heading off now?" Her colleague Mary asked as she gathered her belongings off her desk and shut down her computer.

"Yeah, and looking forward to two days off." Willow replied with a grin.

"Did you want a lift home?" Mary asked, "I noticed that you caught a cab in. Is something wrong with old Elvis?"

Willow laughed. Everyone at work had taken to calling her old car Elvis because, as Gerald said, the poor old thing had more hits than the King.

"No, I went out for a drink after work and decided to call a cab home." Willow said.

"Ah, I see, you picking it up on the way home?"

"Spot on." Willow said. She grabbed her bag, wished everyone a good afternoon, and walked down the narrow staircase that led out of their second story office. When she reached the street below she hailed a cab.

"Where you off to Sweetheart?" The kindly-looking older man asked as she hopped into the taxi.

"Portmouth Street please." Willow said.

She wanted to go home. She didn't think she was ready to go back to the Succubus yet, even if it was to pick up her car. The city whizzed by in a mixture of dull cement and gleaming glass as the taxi weaved its way through the traffic.

"Or, you just just read the book, rather than live it."

Paul's voice slithered through her mind again.

"Shit." Cursed Willow. The driver looked at her with a single bushy white eyebrow raised.

"What was that?" He asked curiously. Willow frowned and looked out of the window to see that they were terribly close the that damned club.

"I just remembered something." She lied. "Can you please take me to the Succubus instead? Have you heard of it before?" She said quickly, otherwise she wouldn't say it at all.

"The Succubus?" The Cabbie gave her an odd look before shrugging. "Whatever you like, Ma'am." He said.

When the car pulled up outside of the club Willow gave the Cabbie more than the fare was worth and told him to keep the change. She got out right on the street in front of the door and looked at the large building with trepidation. She was there to get her car, not play mind games with an old hippy. She reached determinedly into her back and pulled her car keys out, smiling when she turned to the parking lot and her car was still there, seemingly unharmed.

When Willow reached her car memories of the previous night came unbidden to her mind.

"Shit fuck shit!" Willow hissed, jamming her keys back in her bag and turning on her heels to face the club again.

Willow started walking back towards the club, telling herself that it was only out of morbid and dangerous curiosity. She would open the door, look inside to reassure herself that she wasn't delusional, and then she would go back home. Plus, it was still early, there would probably be no one there anyway.

When Willow opened the door to the club her mind whirled. The strobes and music and people were just as she remembered. If she hadn't changed her clothes she might have even believed that the had imagined leaving. She looked around quickly, seeing no sign of Paul.

There, Willow thought with an indignant nod, I came, I saw and the White Rabbit is nowhere to be seen! She turned and reached for the door handle again, pleased that she wasn't mad and that leaving seemed like the best option.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:43 AM   #19
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Walking away from Willow was the hardest thing Paul had ever done. he could feel her desire to help other radiating from her like the sun. But he couldn't keep her going down that path, not the way she was. He gave her the teaser, got her thinking. He would have to wait and see what she did.

He took the stairs two at a time once more, taking him up to the 'Upper Level'. The music from the dance floor filled the air, but a softer version which allowed conversations at normal volumes. The patrons of this level were more formally attired, or more expensively attired. The men were well groomed, the women exquisite in their finery and jewels.

He leaned against the balcony, looking down at the slow moving mass of people undulating on the dance floor below. The flashing lights made them appear to jump from one pose to another. In his mind's eye, she stood out against them. She was not dull, the shade of grey that he say below him. But her colours were washed out.

"Who would know if I led her? Who would know that she didn't make the choices?"

His eyes roamed the dancers, nameless and faceless individuals moving to the beat of the music that called to them, they listened to, but never actually heard.

"I would know. I would know what I did was wrong. That would pollute everything she would gain. If it is her fate to walk that path, then she will walk it and I'll be there to help."

He stood up straight, resting his hands on the railing while staring off at the bar on the other side of the room. His eyes went out of focus as he opened his ears to the music coming from below. It soothed his mind as he bobbed and swayed in time.

"Man I love this place. Where else would the Angels and Demons flock in the city? Every now and again, one of those bastards shows their face here, and I can rid the world of another blight. None of them know the truth, thankfully. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

"And speaking of bliss, I'm sure that there is a lovely lady about what is looking for a damn fine fuck this evening. I just need to find her." With a spring in his step, Paul moved off in search for some companionship.

~||~

Paul spent the morning in quiet meditation, thankful of the gentle hand of Karma bringing the mature aged woman to him. She was finally divorced after a long and bitter court battle, barely get what she was entitled to, and loosing a great deal of it to the lawyers. Marcie was celebrating her victory alone at a table in the corner.

He asked if he could sit with her, and she agreed with a vague wave of her hand and slurred voice. He thanked her politely, introducing himself as he did. She returned the favour in kind, and five minutes later she was pouring out her grief on his shoulder. All he needed to give her was his quiet support, gently holding her as her bottled up grief drained out of her.

They spent the next three hours talking about everything and anything. Paul sensed she needed some company, and hung around giving her that company. She spoke of her husband, kids, dreams, wishes, loves, hobbies and a whole host of trivial things that Paul hadn't the faintest clue about. But by the end, she was relaxed, and starting to look a little more radiant.

Paul stood to bid her farewell, when she asked if he could get her home. He offered to get her a cab, and she made it plain why she wanted him to help her get home. She finally passed out from their love making around 3AM, Paul leaving her at that point. She was on the road to recovery, and his time spent with her, at the club and her home, were big parts of getting her going in the right direction.

While he meditated, he also cast his mind toward Willow. There was something about her that set her apart from the crowd. He knew she was a helper, one who gave to others in need. She used her voice and words to convey more than just what she was saying. She seemed to tap into her passions, something that made her good at what she did. It probably explained why she looked so drained the night before.

His neutral expression dissolved into a joyous one as he remembered her kiss to give him "luck". She had given him luck, and more with that lip lock. There was the barest shiver as he wondered what her kiss would be like when she was aroused. He forced his mind to drift further from those thoughts before they disrupted his meditation too greatly.

At noon, left let himself off his head and back on his feet, eating a good healthy meal, followed by a fat, own rolled special that really put the final touches on his mellow mood. He spent the remainder of the day light hours meeting with his suppliers, organising deliveries and doing some quality checks. By dusk, all was in order, and it was time for him to relax a little.

The patrons were starting to roll in with increasing numbers, filling the club to a more vibrant level. Paul closed his eyes, feeling the hum of the interactions between the people. The place was coming to life; a life powered by the many people throwing off their banal coats and jackets and embracing their souls once more.

He sat bolt upright as he felt her enter the club. She was the same as the night before, but there was a little something else there. He grinned, resisting the desire to look over his shoulder to find her. But it was clear, curiosity brought her back. He eased himself out of his chair, standing at the table deciding whether to give her a nudge in his direction, or leave it to her to decide her.

"If she's who I think she may be, then she will plot the proper course." He moved away from the table, seeing her reaching for the door. He looked at her hard, then slowly turned away, heading over to the opposite side of the dance floor to take one of the vacant booths. Even if she didn't come to join him, he was certain that others would.

"Please let it be her that gets there first."
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:58 PM   #20
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Willow

The moment she touched the door handle Willow felt her body turn cold and her mind tingled uncomfortably. It was a similar feeling to the one she got once when she was walking through an alley to get home and spotted someone in the shadows watching her. However, this was slightly different. Where as the other sent chills of fear running through her limbs, this one sent sparks of anticipation. Without thinking she turned. Her eyes zeroing in on a familiar rainbow shirt framed by a long, steely, wave of hair.

Paul.

She started walking to him automatically and was half way across the dance floor before she stopped. What the hell am I doing? She thought. She had gotten so close to leaving, she wasn't sure if walking further into the lion's den was a clever idea. Nevertheless her feet continued to walk as her brain feebly pondered the idea of an escape. By the time she reached Paul's table she knew it was too late to turn around, and was conflicted by the anger, curiosity and amazement at the set of events that had led her to this point.

"So, which are you? The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit?" She asked, crossing her hands over her chest and trying to hide her interest in learning the answer.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:51 PM   #21
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Paul felt her approaching. There was a connection there. Something that defied his ability to name or discern, but he had learned well enough by that time that it was useless to ponder over those indefinable somethings that always teased him. He knew that one day, he would know, or it would remain a mystery. he accepted it, even though he didn't like it.

She looked at him with defiance; her arms crossed before her chest and her stance one of profound annoyance. But she was there, why didn't matter. She was there. Full of life. There.

"So, which are you? The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit?"

Paul smiled wistfully, indicated for her to take the seat opposite him. "Sit down, Alice. If you know the tale well enough, I be the White Rabbit. Because you haven't started going down the rabbit hole yet."

He waited for her to sit. His eyes never left her while she waited then moved. She fascinated him, pure and simple. She followed him, due to their bond he was sure. He longed to know why they were together and what they were to do together.

'Half the fun is unwrapping the present, the other half is playing with it. So, unwrap it first.'

"Why did you come back, Willow? Seriously, why did you come back in here?"

He took a long blink, opening his mind to hers, reading the surface thoughts and emotions of Willow while she answered. He grimaced slightly at the strain he put on his body performing the spell without the proper focus to ground him. Luckily, it was a simple effect to achieve, so the strain was weak. But it served as a warning all the same. He was pushing himself too hard over the last few days, and he was getting a little complacent as he went.

"Why, Willow? Why?"
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:16 AM   #22
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Willow

Out of all of the questions he had asked her, he had asked her that.

"Why did you come back, Willow?"

At that point in time Willow felt more confident tackling questions that philosophers had stumbled over for years; if a tree falls in the woods and no-one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? What is the meaning of life? Do humans have free will? Is it really possible to be completely and utterly objective? All of these questions would be easier to answer than the ones he had posed to her.

"I'm not sure." Willow said snappily, angered by her own inability to prevent her rash actions. She slid into the seat of the boot and looked over at him, eyebrows furrowed. "Maybe because I left my car here last night?" She said. "Out of curiosity?" She added as an after thought.

If she was honest with herself there were probably a million reasons, but they were all racing around her mind faster than the speed of light, each impossible to catch. When she looked up into Paul's eyes her thoughts slowed slightly, settled a bit.

"But I came. I'm here. Even if I don't know why I still made it. Surely that is the most telling thing?"

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Old 01-01-2013, 05:24 AM   #23
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To Paul, Willow could not have looked more stunned if he punched her in the face. His one not so simple question hit her harder than he expected, but her overall reaction was close to what he was expecting.

"I'm not sure."

'Excellent. Her first words are truthful, honest and concise. Even if she's sounding a little pissed.'

"Maybe because I left my car here last night? Out of curiosity?"

He smiled, nodding at the continuing list of reasons. He heard the truth of her words, which still bode well for her.

"But I came. I'm here. Even if I don't know why I still made it. Surely that is the most telling thing?"

"Most telling thing? No not really. Yes, you left your car out there," he thumbed in the general direction of the club's parking lot, "but there was still no need to come in, was there?

"But if curiosity brought you in, what are you curious about? Surely you must know that much."

But he looked at her again, letting himself get in tune with her, which he found remarkably easy. He sensed her confusion, or the massive tempest within her mind.

"If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll go and get us something to drink. You take the time to sort out your thoughts, so you can better answer the questions I have, and have your own questions for me prepared."

After a quick shuffle, Paul was off to the bar. The barkeeper had the drinks ready when he arrived, after pushing his luck again and implanting the images of the drinks to be made in the young woman's mind, along with his face. He smiled, nodded his thanks as she added it to his tab. When Paul returned, he sat down beside Willow, effectively closing her in as she had closed him in before.

A large, tall glass of orange juice was placed before her, while his pint glass was full of a deep, dark, foamy fluid.

"Plain orange juice. After last night, I thought you might like a clearer head with less fuzz." He lifted his own, taking a swig, leaving behind a foam moustache on his own natural one. "Ahhhh, now that hit the spot. You have any real answers for us, Willow? Seriously, we cant get anywhere until you have the answers to that all important question. Why are you here now, with me?"
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:52 AM   #24
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Willow

Willow took the glass and looked up at Paul apprehensively. How did he know what to get? Had he seen what she was drinking last night? How could he know when she'd dropped the glass before she'd walked over to him? Willow shook her head and cursed her naivety. It wasn't as though orange juice was particularly exotic or unusual. He could've given her a coke and she'd probably have been just as perplexed. This place was doing her head in.

"You." Willow said as she reached over and took the glass from him. "If you must know I came in here to see if you were here." She took a sip and settled back in her seat. When she looked up and saw that she had a bit of foam from his drink stuck in his moustache she smiled and couldn't stop a small laugh from bubbling up and ringing through the throbbing air around them. She looked away from him and focused on regaining her composure.

"I saw you walking through the club last night and your shirt was so offensively bright and vivid amongst a sea of grey that I couldn't help but follow. I thought that my drunken mind was over-exaggerating your radiance but I was wrong. Today you still look as bright as you did yesterday."
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:59 AM   #25
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[OOC: A big thank you to SinisterSpiders for supplying the background material that Paul used in the post.]


Paul could sense the confusion in Willow when he gave her the drink. She had no idea of what she was dealing with, and even if she did, she would probably still be just as confused.

"You. If you must know I came in here to see if you were here."

He saw her stern expression start to break into a smile, which was followed by the most delightful laugh. It was a laugh that a person couldn't help but smile when hearing. It was pure, from deep in her soul and it touched Paul just as deeply. But as people were expected to behave, she stopped herself and looked at her drink while she composed herself. Paul felt a tinge of sadness as he watched the light from her fade slightly as she returned to talk to him.

"I saw you walking through the club last night and your shirt was so offensively bright and vivid amongst a sea of grey that I couldn't help but follow. I thought that my drunken mind was over-exaggerating your radiance but I was wrong. Today you still look as bright as you did yesterday."

Paul laughed softly at the description of his shirt. "Well, I wasn't the only shining light last night. You were picked out because you were like a beacon in the dark. You, Willow, are special. More special than you think you are."

he shuffled around on the seat, resting one leg on the booth's base so he could face her directly. He put his elbow on the top of the backrest, letting his fingers catch the hair that fell in front of her ear. In a rather intimate gesture, he hooked the hair behind her ear. While he touched her, he cast his sense back through the flow of time that coursed about her.

"Rebecca... such a loss of a fine young woman. All for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You were crushed by it, and felt alone, lost and nowhere to turn to. Deeper and deeper into the abyss you fell, until you found the spark, not outside of you, but within you, that gave you the light to find the path you needed to follow to get out of the chasm."

His fingers continued to lightly graze her temple as he flitted through her life , drawn to another time and place.

"But nothing is always dark, is it? Night time is, but a good fire and family can make a difference. Even if your family had everything necessary, except for the food that was left in the driveway. But did that stop the trip? Ruin it? Hardly. Roasted marshmallows over the camp fire that survived the drive made supper. Then a sugar high filled night of talk laughter and love. Yes, that would explain the ability to find the spark. Make lots of good from very little. Never let Life take everything away from you."

The backs of his fingers brushed the side of her cheek ever so softly.

"Of course, the reason you're here in the first place. He reached out to you, hoping that your light would warm him enough to stave off the cold that threatened to freeze his heart for eternity. 'Anything. Everything.' He said about this place. Here was the only place he felt alive. So many think the same as him. Places like this are the only places where they can feel that life. Fill the hole in themselves. Taste what has been lacking for so long that they have forgotten that those same morsels exist outside those places.

"You came to find him. No, you came to find what was in this place that meant so much to him. You had to see for yourself. Feel it yourself. Experience it first hand so that you could deal with the next one better. Know in your heart that you saved that one, while you don't know how well you went this time."

He dropped his hand, releasing the spell and returning him to that place and time where they both sat. He drained a third of the glass while he let Willow ponder on what he saw and revealed to her. He sucked away the moustache.

"See, Willow, you're special. Very... special."
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