Other Stuff

Yes, ladies and germs, you heard it here first (okay, that's kind of a given), I've got a couple of short (gasp!) stories that I've written for one reason or another and have finally gotten around to putting them up.  

This is the result of a contest on a fanfic writing mailing list.  The point was to pick any ten objects from a list and insert them all into a story set in any fandom.  Seeing as how it's the only show on TV I was really enjoying at the time I chose Angel.  So now, I give you:

Every Time a Vampire Sneezes, An Angel Looses Its Wings

PG-13 for language
Disclaimer: He's not mine, and I'll be kind enough to not go into detail
about what I'd do to him if he were. The "angel" is inspired by Jenna
Elfman's cameo in "Can't Hardly Wait".  If you haven't seen it, do.  It's
hilarious. :)
It's my very first non-Pitch Black fic, so be kind. 
Items used:
White Christmas lights, dried roses, feathers, carousel horses, green silk, soda, a telepath, a pug, a video game, beads

Angel stared into a street light for forty-five minutes just trying to make himself sneeze.  But it was no go for launch.  Nothing but a faint tickle that offered him a shred of hope before fading away.  Deprived.  Sneezing was an all-consuming act of involuntary abandon; the entire body participated, even closing its eyes to focus on that single, violent instant and the brief, euphoric feeling that followed.  He'd read once that a sneeze had the same effect on the body as an orgasm.  He laughed softly.  If that were common knowledge a lot of guys would probably never leave the house.  He could breathe, even if it didn't do him any good.  Why the hell couldn't he sneeze?

Maybe he was trying too hard.  He sighed and leaned back on the worn, cement
bench he'd claimed -- quick glance at his watch, for crying out loud -- three hours ago.  A flash caught his eye and he turned, squinting against the headlights.

Not half a block down a woman walked quickly down the sidewalk, holding up the hem of a long, white robe.  The side was open to her waist and held by a broad, golden belt that shimmered with rhinestones.  Nice legs, but that wasn't what kept him staring;  golden ropes criss-crossed her chest, holding a pair of small, white, fuzzy wings to her back.  She crossed the street without looking and missed becoming a hood ornament by less than a foot.  She offered a one-finger salute to the driver as she side-stepped the remains of a pigeon that hadn't been as lucky.  Just a mass of flattened feathers in the street, now.

She trotted up to the bench and dropped onto it with a heavy sigh, the green silk bag she carried falling into her lap. Instinctively, Angel scooted over though there was plenty of room for her.

"Don't worry, tall, dark and paranoid, I won't bite," she said, offering an over pronounced wink.

A crown of dried yellow roses circled her head, no doubt hiding the framework that kept aloft the tackily sparkling halo suspended over her blonde hair by a clear, plastic dowel.  She fixed him with a mildly indignant look that reminded him that he was staring but he didn't look away, instead opening his mouth and saying the first thing that came to mind.

"No bus," he said, gesturing stiffly at the bench.  "Too late."

"Just resting my dogs, Handsome," she said as though he hadn't just made Tarzan
sound suave.  She shrugged out of the wings and dropped them on the bench,
then set about blatantly adjusting her bra beneath the robe.  "Oh god, that's better.  Those things start to chafe after awhile, you know?"

Leaning back, she pulled a pack of cigarettes from the bag on her lap and tapped one out, holding it pressed between her lips while she lit it.  She waved the pack toward him, but when he shook his head it disappeared along with the lighter.  The beaded strap rattled as she snapped the bag closed again.  He caught a quick glimpse of key ring with a small, plastic pug dog on it and marveled that such a pretty girl might own such an ugly animal.  Maybe it was pity.

Blowing smoke toward the street, she stretched her arm along the back of the
bench, her hand coming to rest behind him.  It rubbed briefly at the back of his jacket and she nodded.  "Leather?"

"Uh, yeah.  Can I, um, can I give you a ride somewhere?"

"You coming onto me?"

"No, I just--"

"Why not?" she scowled.  Then realization seemed to dawn in her eyes and seeing it, he began to shake his head before she even spoke.  Not that it stopped her.  "Gay?"

"No," he said quickly.

"Waiting for somebody?  Girlfriend?"

"No," he repeated.  "Just--"

"A gentleman, hanging out on a bus bench on the strip at this hour?"  She paused, regarding him and pointing the cigarette at him as she continued. "Serial killer?"

He shrugged and tried a smile.  "Not really."

Laughing, she flicked ashes onto the sidewalk.  "Sounds ominous."

"Didn't mean for it to."  He winced at the awkwardness of his own voice and
wondered briefly why she left him feeling so completely disarmed, then remembered that pretty much everyone did.

"Sarah," she said suddenly.

It didn't get much worse than this.  

"Angel," he replied, not the least bit surprised when she laughed out a puff of smoke and looked at him like he'd grown a third arm.

"You're shitting me."

"Actually, no."

"But that's not your real name," she said, raising an eyebrow at him.

He blinked at her, then turned and pretended to watch as a flatbed full of garishly painted carousel horses rumbled by.  "Why do you say that?" Smooth, buddy.  Real smooth.

"Got the whammy," she said, tapping her temple.  "Runs in the family."

Normal, he thought, was a place far, far away from here.

"Oh, I'm sure you've seen much weirder than this."

The words, "sister, you have no idea" started to make their way out, but then he considered the fact that it hadn't even occurred to him to ask her why she was dressed that way and instead he said, "Weirder than an angel giving a taxi driver the finger?"

Her laughter was loud this time, almost startling.  "That must've looked good," she said.  She dropped the remains of the cigarette to the cement and ground it out with the pointed toe of one pearlescent pump.  "So, you do this a lot?  Hang out on the street in the middle of the night?"

"No better time to do it," he replied, then wondered why.

"Creature of the night, huh?"

Angel's foot twitched and knocked over an abandoned soda can.  With a hollow
clank it bounced off of the curb and into the street, contents dripping. She went on, gazing across at a storefront hung with white Christmas lights.

"So what do you do?" she asked.

"Self-pity, mostly," he replied.

"Yeah?  I used to be in that," she said, nodding.  "Didn't pay well enough, so now I strip."

"How's that working out for you?"

"Fan-freaking-tastically," she said, laughing.

He fished in his pocket for a business card and held it out to her.  She took it and held it in both hands as though it were something too heavy for one.

"An angel," she said with a short laugh.  "I get it."

His surprise must have shown.

"I guess it could be a butterfly," she said wryly.

They fell silent for a long while.  It was comfortable, though.  At least
for him.

"Ever miss things?" she asked suddenly.  "You know, stupid things like the notebook you carried in high school, or a really great pair of shoes you outgrew, or the one period in your life where your hair was just right?"

The question caught him off-guard, turned him thoughtful.  

"I had a saddle," he said, joining her in staring across the street.  Through the window of a Chinese take-out restaurant the colorful lights of a video game flashed
their repetitious message.  "It was the most beautiful thing.  Cost a fortune.  It had brass trim I polished every day, and the leather was this deep, reddish color, like cherry wood.  Someone spent months tooling it, and the stitching was...perfect.  I loved that saddle.  And the funny thing is, I can't  remember when exactly I lost it.  When the moment was that it was stolen or I gambled it away or gave up riding and put it in the attic."

"That's sad," she said.

He nodded.  "I guess it is," he said.  "I haven't thought about it in years."

"Weird how you can be so attached to something and then 'poof' - gone.  Out of sight, out of mind, all that."

"You don't miss things unless something reminds you of them," he agreed.  He thought about Cordelia's recent rash of psycho cleaning and the dust cloud that followed.  Everyone had sneezed but him.

A cab stopped in front of the bench and the passenger side window rolled down.  The cabbie was a broad, squat man with an Anaheim baseball cap. Angel
wondered briefly if he was sitting on phone books to see over the dashboard.

"You folks looking for a cab?"

Sarah stood and Angel slid from the bench, reaching the door first and pulling it open.

"You're a doll," she said, and kissed him quickly on the cheek.  She slid into the cab, dropping the green bag on the seat beside her.

"Nice talking to you," he said.  And he meant it.  He swung the door shut and watched the car pull away as she smiled through the window at him, peering out between the bold, white letters listing the fares.

He watched until it turned the corner, then a sudden twinge in his mind made him frown and glance back at the bench.  The wings!  He snatched them up and took about three steps before he realized he'd never catch her.  The soft, white fluff floated up and tickled his nose.  He sneezed, then stood looking stunned at nothing in particular.

He sneezed again and smiled as a man walked past, hands stuffed in his pockets, and said, "Bless you."



This story was written as part of the AoVD Lyric Wheel Project. The theme for the wheel was "Haunted."  The Lyrics provided were from "Fear" by Disturbed.  This must be the shortest thing I've written that wasn't a damn shopping list.


Wasn't his first time in the box but it was the longest. He counted time in meals and so far he'd racked up twenty-two plates of tasteless, unidentifiable slop. Figuring three a day, which his belly told him was right, he was working on day number eight. A fucking week in the box. His legs were cramped from lack of room, the rest of him was cramped from sleeping propped up in the corner. His ass was numb. And wet. They stuck a hose through the five-by-seven sliding window once every couple of days and called it a shower. No sun, no light, no airflow. The floor never dried all the way and neither did he.

There wasn't much sound unless he made it. The tiny room wasn't soundproofed but it was damn close. Sometimes he sang to cover up the ringing in his ears. But he didn't know that many songs and besides, he was tired of the sound of his own voice.

He wondered how long it would take him to go apeshit in here.

"You sorry motherfucker."

Not long, apparently.

He swept an arm across the tiny cell and found nothing but the piss bucket in the opposite corner. He felt at the door. The window was closed. So was the low opening they slid the food trays through. What did the head-shrinkers say about talking to the voices you heard in your head?

"You deaf, pussy?"

Screw the shrinks. He wasn't taking that shit from anyone, even if they weren't really there.

"Fuck you," he said.

"Fuck you? Oh, you must be an educated brother."

Riddick considered repeating himself.

"You gonna hide? Pretend I'm not here?"

"You're not."

"Then who you talking to, sorry ass?"


"You is nobody."

He didn't answer. Men went apeshit down here. They started talking to voices and didn't stop when they came out. He didn't want to be one of those men.

"Ignoring me won't make me go away."

"Can't hurt."

A loud, high-pitched wail filled the tiny room. It was accompanied by the sound of something beating against the wall, solid and wet. Tiny drops of warm moisture fell on his skin. He touched his arm and brought the tips of his fingers up to his nose but he could smell it already.


What the fuck?

The rhythmic pounding continued as a ragged voice screamed over and over again.

"Can't ignore me! Can't ignore me! Can't ignore me!"

Riddick pushed with his feet and tried to press himself farther into the corner but he had nowhere to go. The spray of blood coated his bare skin with a fine mist. The smell permeated the tiny space along with the scent of shit and piss and stale sweat and fear.

"You a piece of shit, just like me!" the voice shrieked. "Don't nobody want you so they flush you down here and forget about you! Can't ignore me! Can't ignore me! Can't ignore meeeeeee!"

He pulled his knees up to his chest and curled up tight in the corner with his hands over his head. Couldn't touch it. Couldn't make it shut up. Couldn't kill it because it was in his own head. Only way to get rid of it was to get it out of there. He unwound himself and reared back, then slammed his head hard against the wall.

Bright light. Head pounding. Somebody in his face. He tried to swat them away but he couldn't move his arms.

"You've been restrained, 24601. Just relax."

"What the fu...?" He tested the straps. Sure as shit, he was tied down good.

"You're lucky," the doctor went on. He poked a needle into a small bottle and drew back the plunger, filling it with pale blue liquid. "Most guys don't make it past four days in box 17 before they try and bash their brains out against the wall."


"Folks hear voices. See things. Guards think it's haunted."

Riddick snorted.

"Fuckin imagine that."