A/N: Just felt that the gang from the previous three stories needed some fun, and thanks a-plenty to Ash De Brie, who wrote this wonderful song.
Blood that seeped from the body onto the ground, dripping off the table, a rhythmic drip-drip onto the polished marble floor.
Silence that preceded the gun shot. Silence that heralded the sounds of struggling, the scrape of cloth against bare skin, the yells of the sailors.
Death that lives in each one of us. Death that has chosen its victims: Rodney Skinner and Tom Sawyer.
Taken away, by a stowaway crew, from these two.
A chain was wrapped around Rodney Skinner's neck; passed out, he was thrown into the Pacific by the stowaway crew that had boarded the grand Nautilus, attacking when the Sword of the Ocean was in the middle of the sea. Normally he would float; they had tied a weight around his ankles. He sank, never to return.
Tom's death was more brutal: he was fending off the pirates. The fight had raged on until he had been cornered into Mina Harker's room; there were several of the pirates on him, and one slammed him into the desk. His head hit the edge, and he passed out; what he didn't know was that three scissors had pierced right through the small of his back, hitting and slicing through his diaphragm and one through his lungs. He died instantly.
"Huck! You get back here!"
Tom opened his eyes, suddenly aware that he wasn't unconscious. There was a soft groan from beside him, and Tom turned his head, saw that Skinner was lying some distance away.
Skinner turned his head so that his cheek rested on the soft clouds they were on, looking Tom in the eye, the unspoken question there: where were they?
"Raven!" there was a scream, and then the second voice came again. "Raven, get off! Get off!"
"No, I'm not getting off until that cat gets away!" it was a third voice that spoke, and then more shuffling. "Away! Away with you! Roderica! Get your cat away!"
"Oh, c'mon, Raven, be a sport. Huck's harmless."
"So's Cerebus when he's not hungry! Now, away with the cat!"
Skinner, confused, sat up slowly and took in the scene before him. There was an outcropping of sorts, made up of clouds. There was a pretty dark-haired lady sitting on top of it, peering down at her friends. There was also a cat — one that, to his surprise, was wearing a hat and a vest — underneath the outcropping, and it seemed that the dark-haired one was afraid of it.
"I refuse to come down, you hear me?" the one on the outcropping was telling the second woman, who had hair so light a blond it was almost white. "Cats come from somewhere where it's worse than hell! They're furry, they bite, they scratch, and the hairballs. The hairballs! And this one talks, too! Is that normal, I ask you, is that normal?"
"You're hardly normal yourself, Raven," another woman with burgundy hair chuckled. The first woman — Raven — threw her a withering glare. "By the way, the both of them are awake."
"Oh, hi," Raven greeted the two, who blinked. Tom had sat up. "I'll be down once that cat goes away!"
"Fine, fine," the one with the light-blond hair said. "Huck, come here." The cat slinked over to his mistress, and after a wary glance at Huck the cat, Raven climbed down.
Tom was suddenly reminded of Huck, his friend, and what had happened to —
His green eyes widened.
He recognized one of them.
The owner of the cat gave a small smile. "You remember what happened, didn't you?"
Skinner frowned and looked at the American. What was the woman talking about?
"Damn, he doesn't remember the kiss," a fourth woman said, her blond hair wisps around her face. "How could you forget that kiss? No one forgets that kiss."
"We made him forget, remember?" another woman, the fifth and last one present, told her blond friend. "When they get sent back they forget everything. Usually, anyway."
"And ye are...?" Skinner inquired, standing up slowly. Tom did the same, and the two men were the only males present.
"I'm Raven," Raven said, "That's Clez" — she pointed at the one with burgundy locks, who gave a little wave — "Sethoz" — the fifth woman, who had the weirdest hair that Skinner and Tom had ever seen; it did seem familiar in some way... — "Ash" — the blond pulled up a harp from the cloud cover and started to strum it — "Roderica" — the one with the light-blond hair grinned — "and that...that cat is Huck." Huck purred, and Raven inched back a little.
Huck the cat chuckled. Tom blinked at that.
"Yes, he talks," Raven told them, watching Huck with one eye. "I'm mortally afraid of any cat, by the way. So, yeah. Did you know you two've been here before?"
Tom nodded, while Skinner frowned. He was getting vague recollections of a previous trip to a place much like this one...he looked up, sharply, at Roderica. She gave him a suggestive grin, and he got a look.
"He remembers the kiss," Roderica told her friends, laughing. Tom glanced at his friend, who refused to say anything.
"We know what we're doing here," Tom said warily, "we're not in the Underworld or Heaven, but somewhere in the middle."
"And although you've answered our questions," Skinner picked up, "We still don't know what you are."
At this, Huck grinned and jumped up to the outcropping, grinning. The lighting began to flash, and suddenly the outcropping became a stage. He began to sing.
Huck: They're the wild angels in the wild kingdom!
Raven: I'm the wild devil to run from!
Sethoz: Well there's mythology and golden gates
Raven: But I hate it, I like to go down to my Hell, angels!
Huck: We're the reapers that fly down an' yell "Hey!"
Even the clouds start to part their way
Ya know what I mean?
Sethoz: Uh huh!
The spot of light began to move around as each sang. Skinner and Tom watched in interest.
Clez, Sethoz, Ash, Roderica: The mouth of the Heavens is opened to us, sisters!
Huck: The place that we're talking about!
The place that they're talking about!
Raven: The mouth of the Hellians is opened to us, sisters!
Huck: So where are we actually?
What are you all actually?
Clez: Not Gods!
Raven: Not Mortals!
Skinner and Tom looked at each other. Tom raised a brow. That answers our question. Kinda.
Ash: I'm the songwriter in this wild kingdom!
Huck: She's the wildest harp player too!
Roderica: Well I'm the chick that sends you back to the world
So come on up, we like to have some company here, my friend!
Clez: Well I'm the girl that hates boredom
'Cause we're always looking for some fun!
Huck: Ain't it the truth!
They glide behind a wall of presentation
No prying eyes on their wild celebration!
There was a flash, and suddenly the two League members found themselves in the middle of a dark place with many caves and caverns; the Underworld. They stood between two rivers, and there was a ferryman nearby, shuttling damned souls to the entrance, where a large, three-headed dog stood guard. Raven waved to her pet, and all three heads turned around and wagged its tail in greeting.
Clez, Sethoz, Ash, Roderica: The mouth of the Heavens is opened to us, sisters!
Raven: They glade behind a wall of presentation!
They don't want to stay when the gods give them probation!
The mouth of the Hellians is opened to us, my muses
Devil Minion: Hey there Raven, you sure look good, dancing in the mud
Raven: In the red mud!
Raven gave a cackle as she danced around, and then they popped back to the cloud-filled place. The five were laughing their heads off at Skinner and Tom's expression. They were a mixture of shock, relief, disbelief, horrification, and amusement.
Sethoz: Forgotten in all eternity! Trapped between Heaven and Hell!
Ash: Our imagination, really rings the gods' bell!
They all finished with a flourish, and Skinner was motivated to clap. Tom joined in a minute later.
"Well, Tommy-boy," Huck came up to the two, as Raven was supporting herself by leaning against the outside of the outcropping, holding her stomach as she laughed. "And you, Skinner. Did you like that tour?"
"I wrote that song!" Ash piqued. She grinned, beaming. What she didn't see was Clez sneaking up behind her with a large trout in hand, and Sethoz with what looked to be a rubber chicken. Huck shouted a warning and Ash turned, and seeing her friends, took off. They gave chase, intent on using their equipment to whack her over the head.
Roderica laughed as she watched them at it. "Now, back to business. You two should be going back."
"Roderica..." Tom started, hesitantly, "How'd we die?" Roderica looked at Raven, who looked downwards, as if ashamed.
"Skinner got pulled down into the Pacific Ocean," Raven stated quietly. "A weight was tied to your ankles and you were passed out. Tom, your lungs were punctured by scissors when you were shoved into a desk. It went through you back, severed your diaphragm; it was instantaneous. No pain at all. And you didn't even know, which is kinda good."
There was silence; even Clez, Sethoz and Ash's laughter and screams were gone as they ran somewhere. Skinner swallowed. He'd drowned. Tom'd been backstabbed, literally. I don't want to die, Skinner thought. At least, if I do die, let me die fighting.
"Once you go back, it'll be up to you to help save the Nautilus," Roderica told them.
"How'd we do that?" Skinner asked, couldn't help feeling a little bitter at the same time. Some of it seeped into his voice. "I remember the whole place crawling with those pirates."
Raven gave a small smile, and walked up to him. Leaning in, she whispered into his ear. "Ice room."
With that, Roderica took over, and gave Tom and Skinner both firm kisses. With a flash, they disappeared.
Skinner struggled to climb up the ornate designs that made themselves present on the side of the Nautilus, which had surfaced. For once, he thought to himself as he found another handhold and pulled himself up. These are actually useful.
He had full recollection of his and Tom's experience in that world, and their brief trip to the Underworld. He had to get to the ice room. The weight that had been tied to his ankles had, by some miracle — or some intervention of by the sisters or Muses, depending on which one they wanted to be called — come loose and fallen. When he broke the surface of the water, he had regained consciousness, and to his relief he found he was only a few meters from the Nautilus. Again, intervention by the Muses.
He was freezing as he dropped himself lightly onto the conning tower; he willed his thief not to chatter as he snuck past the fighting, heading to Mina's cabin. Tom was there, fighting, a bloody pair of scissors on the table. It looked like it had been stuck in Tom's arm, and he had pulled it out; there was a stain spreading across a sleeve.
"Sawyer!" Grabbing an empty flask, Skinner smashed it over the head of one of the baddies, so that Tom could concentrate on the other one. With a deft shot of one of his Colts, the man fell dead.
"To the ice room," Tom nodded, and they went out into the corridor, joining the in fighting.
"I think, Roderica," Raven told her friend as they watched the battle rage on the Nautilus. Nemo's sailors and the League were winning, slowly fighting their way to the bridge from the ice room. Skinner and Tom had proved to be the last few outside the room, and had proved to be the turning point in the battle, "that we've done a good job."
" 'course we did, Raven," Roderica looked up at her counterpart and smiled. "We're from Hellven, aren't we?"
"That we are," Raven grinned, and as Roderica closed the hole in the cloud they stood on, yelled their friends' name. "Clez! Sethoz! Ash! Stop that chasing!"
The three in the distance did stop, but then crowded together in a tight circle for a moment. Raven and Roderica watched, puzzled, and Huck joined them, sitting on his backpaws.
Minutes later, Ash, Clez and Sethoz were after them with the armada of a rubber chicken, large raw trout, and a cute little trident.
Their laughter echoed throughout the place.
A/N: many thanks to Ash De Brie for this; she wrote the song, came up with the name for the place, as well as helped me along with the whole thing. Love her for me, yeah?