Author: smokexscribbles (LiveJournal name) something.myffic (FF)
Disclaimer: I am not CLAMP, nor do I own these characters.
Pairings: None yet.
Rating: PG, will be PG-15ish in future.
Warnings: Eh. Unbeta'd.
Summary: The Roaring Twenties – An age of bootleg, flappers, gangsters, speakeasies, and now, Tsubasa RC. Written for the Summer History Challenge on LJ. All facts are as close to historically accurate as I could get.
A/N: I had Fai call Kurogane "Kuro-puppy" and nothing else because I doubt Fai'd call him anything like "Kuro-chan" if both were born and raised in New York or thereabouts. Oh, and as for why this era? I just had this picture in my head of Fai and Kurogane listening to Duke Ellington on some old record, and thinking it was the coolest, newest, most interesting thing ever. Also, Kuro-bootlegger is a pretty sexy idea.
Jazz blared out across the waterfront. Young ladies danced, bobs flipping back and forth, long necklaces twirling around in miniature whirlwinds of beads. And on deck, the moonshine was flowing freely.
It was the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Era, and Rum Row was lit up.
On the deck of the ship, leaning over the railing, a tall, dark-haired man glared at the water like it had done him personal wrong. These kinds of parties always made him on-edge. The fuzz could show up any minute, as unlikely as that was in this part of town.
He turned around and watched the crowd. At least at these event there was something to see. The boats were always booking something for a show, whether it was a jazz band or a group of debs. Reluctantly, he started to enjoy himself.
The band stopped playing for a break, and Kurogane was surprised to see the violinist lean exhaustedly against the rail next to him. "Hyuu! We're really playing tonight, I've about had it." He peeked up at the bootlegger hopefully. "Butt me?"
Kurogane wordlessly passed him a cigarette.
"I'm Fai," the violinist said.
Kurogane hadn't asked, and made this clear by ignoring him.
"You have a name?"
"Kurogane," he growled. "Now don't you have a job to do here?"
The man just smiled at him, slightly distant and apparently not caring whether or not he was welcome. "We've got a ten-minute break, Kuro-puppy."
For about ten seconds, all the bootlegger could do was stare. The man was obviously completely ossified. "What did you call me?"
"Well, I thought you looked like a puppy, grr-ing like that. Kuro-puppy! Don't you like that name?"
Kurogane was about to strangle him, but the band started up again and Fai waved an airy good-bye.
He was sure, at the moment, that they'd never meet again.
Rum Row – Any place where bootleg was sold, but most commonly the boats on the coast of New Jersey. Many bootleggers threw parties on their boats to get more people to buy their liquor.
Fuzz - Era slang for police.
Debs - Debutantes.
"Butt me" - Mind out of the gutter, guys – He just wants a cigarette.
Almost a year later, Kurogane had found employment elsewhere, as a bouncer and a retriever of less desirable goods for a woman named Yuuko. She ran a speakeasy called The Cat's Eye, which was not actually reputable but also not a terribly dangerous place. For some reason, there had never been a bust, despite the fact that it seemed popular. Popular enough to make Yuuko rich, that was for sure.
The problem was that as speakeasies became more popular, Yuuko had started to lose business to more interesting places. This had led to her hiring a band. And the band. . .
"Hey! It's Puppy again!"
Kurogane moaned. It was going to be a long, long night.
"Why this band?" he hissed at Yuuko. "Why him, of all people?"
"Well, I like this band," Yuuko said, and when that woman had made up her mind that was the end of it.
"Kuro-puppy!" the blonde violinist wailed from across the room. "Come help us set this up…" he didn't even flinch when Kurogane stormed over to him.
"Do it yourself," the bootlegger glared. "You act like a jane."
Fai just laughed and started singing under his breath. "Masculine women, Feminine men
Which is the rooster, which is the hen?
It's hard to tell 'em apart today! And, say!
Sister is busy learning to shave,
Brother just loves his permanent wave,
It's hard to tell 'em apart today! Hey, hey!"
"Dry up," Kurogane said, almost amiably. "Scram, before I strangle you with that damn violin of yours."
Of course, that made Fai laugh again.
Jane - Woman
Masculine women, feminine men… - This was a song poking fun at how liberal the 20's had become, written in 1926.
Dry up - Shut up/leave
Fai might be annoying, but Kurogane had to say that tonight, the band was hitting on all sixes. Yuuko knew what she was doing. He jumped as the very woman he was thinking about appeared behind him.
"Well, don't you look spiffy," she said, with a trace of smugness in her voice. "I didn't think you'd be the kind of guy to look good in a tux, but you, Kurogane, look like you're about to go up the middle aisle."
"Don't give me that line," he told her, but couldn't say he really resented the compliment that much.
"Your friend is playing well," she commented. Kurogane went an interesting shade of fury-induced red.
"That sap? No way is he my friend! He drives me- "
"Kurogane, please stop scaring the customers and serve some drinks," Yuuko said, smoothly cutting him off.
The bootlegger made a strange noise in the back of his throat, like he was trying to stop something from jumping out of it. Watanuki, a part-time waiter at the speakeasy, rescued him. "Come on, help me bus these tables." When he was sure he was being obeyed and Yuuko was gone, he said, "That woman's a regular bearcat. She creeps me out."
Kurogane made his noise again. "I could take her."
Watanuki looked at him skeptically. Reluctantly, he added, "Probably."
When the music stopped, Watanuki got to see an expression not many people could claim to have witnessed on the huge bootlegger's face – Fear. "Oh, shi-"
"Hey, puppy, buy me a drink?"
The poor waiter yelped as Fai plucked off his glasses. "Hey, look at these cheaters. I'll get a headache, they're so strong!"
"So don't wear them," Kurogane said, in a tone that suggested his sanity was not long for this world.
Watanuki's glasses were rescued by the other waiter, Doumeki, who handed them back with a little smirk. "Don't get them stolen again, you sap."
"I told you not to call me that!" the waiter hissed. "Here I am making you food and serving drinks and I don't know what else, and you . . ."
Kurogane pulled the violinist, who was apparently listening intently to the rant, away. "He'll go on for hours, go near him and you'll get an earful."
Fai smiled at him. "I still want that drink."
"Will it get you quiet?"
"Depends. Will you do the talking?"
He passed the man a drink, just to make him tone it down a little, and started washing glasses at the bar. "What am I supposed to say?"
"Tell me about yourself, puppy."
A ruthless smile crossed Kurogane's face. "Well, for one thing, I hate stupid names like that."
The man just nodded, like he'd never been so interested in anything in his entire life. "Go on, Kuro-puppy."
A glass shattered in his hand as he tried to remember not to kill their new violinist.
Hitting all sixes - Doing perfectly; literally, firing all six cylinders.
Up the middle aisle - Get married.
Cheaters - Eyeglasses
Kurogane remembered that one really interesting thing about Fai was how absolutely splifficated the man could and did get almost every night. It was hard to tell if he was more or less annoying when he was like that. He'd be serious one second, and the next, dancing around and trying to get Kurogane to dance with him.
"This isn't some pansy club," the bootlegger announced to a near-empty room, only the staff still there to clean up. "I'm not dancing with you."
Fai did the Charleston around empty tables, arms swinging, legs stepping back and forth, laughing at the entire world for not seeing how much fun this could be. "I could put on a skirt and a necklace, if you're only going to dance with the dames," he said, and did the Bunny Hug, grinning suggestively. Kurogane turned red and washed the glasses with more ferocity than they really deserved.
He decided that maybe the violinist didn't quite deserve to be strangled with his own violin strings, if only because it'd be an insult to such a great-sounding instrument.
Splifficated, ossified, zozzled, canned, corked, tanked, primed, scrooched, jazzed, plastered, owled, embalmed, lit, potted, or fried to the hat – Drunk.
Panst club - Gay bar
Charleston - Popular dance in the 1920s, considered fairly provocative for the time.
Bunny hug - Similar to grinding.