Chapter 8: Murder on the Dance Floor
Why is it, Cal wondered, that it's always in those quiet moments after one of Winchester's stupid wise-cracks that trouble makes itself known?The timing totally blows when a girl's got a good comeback to throw out there.
She was staring at him, surprised that even
he would manage to say something so… well, so typically
Dean. If it's not one chick, it's the next one. The next
one apparently being Morgan. Not that she could fault the guy, he had
excellent taste. It was just a little suicidal all things
Sam was looking back and forth between Dean and Morgan, probably waiting to see whether she would choose to let his brother live.
Luke (who knew damned well that his sister couldn't kill such a helpless fool) was watching Cal... and she wasn't hating it.
The men's room was unnaturally quiet now that there was no longer a band up on stage. A quiet that didn't last more than a moment or two when CRASH! Cal was startled by the sound of… what was that? Cymbals maybe? It sounded to her like somebody was trying to murder the drum set on stage.
No longer interested in watching Dean getting himself into trouble, she moved toward the door to check things out. There were folk screaming out there and that meant, at the very least, there might be a bar brawl breaking out. If there was a fight going on at O'Leary's she was damn well gonna be a part of it!
Luke was right behind her as she stepped back
into the bar-
'Wahey!' He murmured, delighted. 'It's all kickin' off!'
-where together they watched chaos happen on the dance floor as crowds of people went running in all different directions. Some hiding under tables, others fighting to get out the door, most of them screaming at the top of their lungs. Okay, so not a bar brawl then (she thought disappointedly)… and what the hell was that thing up on stage anyway?
Whatever it was, wasn't pretty. Long dark hair hanging over its face in greasy strands, streaks of dirt all over its skin, a long, lanky body that moved hunched over itself like a monkey- a chimpanzee goofing off for the crowd at the zoo.
This one was getting its kicks out of tearing the stage apart, moaning and growling a little louder with every move it made.
Cal was about to make a smartass crack of her own, something to do with clichés and old monster movies, except that's about when she remembered where they were. This wasn't just some job in small town America. This was O'Leary's, and that made it personal.
"Maria, the girls…" Her first thought going to
the bar's servers and her partner in crime behind the bar. She hadn't
meant to say it out loud but apparently she had because Luke
moved closer, under the guise of making room for Sam and Dean – who
had finally come out to join them.
'What was that?' He asked, voice raised to cover the noise.
No time to answer though. There was a black blur streaking past them, Morgan. Time to make a move.
The woman was amazing. Halfway across the room, a
good dozen feet away from the bar, she leaped into the air in a
full-body-dive. Soaring over the bar like it was nothing
she softened the landing with a roll (grabbing her earlier
abandoned striped sleeves in the process); stood upright with her
bundled-up-sleeves, and pulled out her knife. Poor Maria backed away
from her, hands up in the air and very obviously terrified.
Morgan, for her part, tutted at the girl for freaking out over nothing and very casually called out an "Okay, who wants the knife? ...Anybody?"
Oh shit, Luke thought. She's gone all SAS.
Oh yeah, Cal thought eagerly. Time to play!
Morgan was throwing the knife up and down, absent-mindedly, like a juggling-baton, in her left hand, waiting for a taker. "No one?? Going, going-?" Cal just smiled, waiting for a cue from the other woman to jump in on the action. Morgan snapped on a big f*ck-off snarl at the lack of response from the rest of the group and slammed it across the room, where it hit home with a loud thud into Zombie-Tramp's shoulder. His arms snapped out from his body, whirled around under the impact, and Morgan finished her show-boating: "Gone." Her satisfied look enough to make Cal grin.
Oh yeah, this was gonna be fun!
The knife throwing had not gone unnoticed by the bar's patrons. The screams in the background had picked up and become panicked, joined by the sounds of smashing glass and animalistic rawring from the zombie.
Morgan pulled Mags out, locked her elbows to load, and turned her side-on, firing repeatedly. Cal was in a half crouch, using one of the round wooden tables that had been turned over on its side as shielding and was pulling out the long narrow knives that were sheathed in her boots. Just as the Winchesters started thinking it was a good moment to duck, Luke skidded across the floor on his knees, thudded into the table with Cal, and flashed a glittering adrenalin-pumped smile her way: 'Hey!' Ecstatic. He did a double-take at the sight of the cutlery, and let out a long, low whistle.
Behind them, Sam and Dean – stuck
for cover – dove behind the wall of booths, trying to get closer to
the stage. Dean's cursing getting louder by the second because the
hoboup there kept throwing heavy, blunt objects at their
heads whenever it caught a glimpse of them. (And how the hell
he managed to see past all that hair was anybody's guess.)
Dean got side-swiped by the smaller of the two amps and swore loudly.
"Son of a bitch!"
She just couldn't resist that one, now could she?
"Hey, its not the zombie's momma fault that you're such an easy target Dean!" Shouting loud enough to be heard over the screams, gunfire and zombie groans, Cal was sure the whole place heard her. Dean, who was now pink-faced with anger, shouted right back at her.
"You're lucky I'm not packing Cal, or you'd be dodging bullets right now!"
Speaking of packing- what she wouldn't do to get her hands on her own piece right about now…
Morgan (as if reading Cal's mind) stood
back, behind the bar, leaning back to see underneath the shelf, her
hands spread wide, calling out "Cal! You got a piece under here,
"'Course I do!" What kind of a question was that? Didn't everyone? "Under the sink, behind the bottle of JD." Cal's not-so-secret stash.
Seconds later there was a familiar, black Jericho 941FSL flying through the air toward her. Luke took a quick look at Cal's hands, which were both gripping knife hilts, and reached up to catch it – snatched it out of the air. The other hand he cupped to his mouth, head bobbing over the top of the table for a moment: 'Oi!' He shouted at his sister. 'Can we have some peanuts with that!?"
Luke chuckled to himself, his bare back to the table – jolting underneath him as people and missiles hit the other side – calmly cocked Cal's gun for her, and presented it to its owner with the same flourish as a wine-waiter. Now here's a man who can appreciate the finer things in life, thought Cal.
'Can I borrow your
knives?' He asked, loudly, wincing at the volume of his own voice,
hurled in this girl's face.
'Sure!' Cal yelled back, looking like she was having as much fun as him.
They swapped, Luke cutting quite the figure, naked from the waist up in torn jeans, twirling a pair of wicked-sharp knives round like drummer's sticks – Cal equally impressive, robot-spunk handkerchief top shimmering as she shook under each impact, her boots chunked-up and filling the space below her long legs, squeezing off shots around the side of the table.
Luke started to chop up bits of splintered wood strewn across the floor (Cal's knives were that sharp) into shards, and darted up, infuriatingly, like a fairground whack-attack game, to whip them at the stage like a 3D extreme game of darts.
'Fifty points if you can get it in the eye!' He suggested to Cal, who spared him a look of wry amusement at his MO.
"Fifty points? Okay." Equal parts tease and challenge she shot off another round, ignoring the target entirely, eyes glued to his and nailing it. "Just so you know, I'll be cashing those in later." A promising smile as she turned back toward the stage.
'Sam! Dean!' He
bellowed, when he'd run out of stakes. 'What's the plan?!'
They had moved inside the booth. Sam was a jumble of flopping limbs, trying to fit his massive frame in, half on the bench and half under the Formica-topped table, Dean backed up like James Bond to the divider between their booth and the next, neck twanging as he tried to look out for an opening. All that was missing was the fire-power.
Dean looked across at Luke like he was insane,
face screwed up, eyes flashing.
'Take out the Zombie!' he shouted.
Well, duh. So Luke looked to Sam, the brainy one, to see what word of wisdom he had to impart on the matter – what he actually got was the word: 'Tortoise!'
After his big brother had finished treating him to the derisive look he deserved for that piece of weirdness, he and Luke exchanged a careful glance across the room.
Sam, hands still up over his head, rolled his eyes. 'Formation!' He shouted – which... seemed to mean something to Dean, 'cause his eyes filled with understanding, and he turned his attention instead to the table between them, looking underneath, at the base pinning it to the ground. CRACK! Both Sam and Dean lashed out, and the thing broke company with the floor. The brothers pushed it over on its side, CRASH! like the one Cal and Luke were using, and started to push. Like the plate of a bulldozer, a battering-ram- Oh! A battering-ram! That's what they were thinking!
Luke and Cal looked to each other, laughing at the novelty as both clocked the reasoning behind.
The Winchesters' table screeched along the floor, two big guys crouched rather ridiculously behind it, shunting aside any hysterical punters who tried to run that way, pushing them towards the fire-exits, effectively blocking all the new pieces of musical equipment that Mr. Munster decided they needed to receive by air. Luke shuffled forwards as the table locked with theirs, glancing round with a grin of congratulations. Dean, in particular, looked very stupid, with the halves of his jacket splayed out over his bandy-legged knees where he crouched. He was trying to look over the top.
hell's Morgan?!' He shouted, scowling, and Luke nodded in his
sister's direction with a weary eye.
Dean bobbed up his head up to see.
She was telling Cal's friend to crouch down and stay
How could she be smoking, now?! No! Wait, she wasn't! She was tearing up a cloth from the sink, dousing it in booze, tucking it into the top of a bottle and – dude – setting it on fire! She picked one, weighed it in her hand – right this time – and hurled it over at the stage. Dean, and by now the others, watched It arch across the air, as it exploded in a blaze of fire, hit the Zombie, suddenly screaming in its fury.
Cal hooted her praise at Morgan's quick thinking. "Go Morg!"
Dean sat back down, licking his lips, had to shake his head once. Damn.
what now?!' He yelled to Sam, over the sound of Cal's gunfire –
close enough to hurt.
Sam squinted up at him from where he crouched. 'Now we push!'
Overhearing, Luke cupped his hand to his mouth again, reversing the direction of the knife so he didn't slice his own face open.
'Oh! Morg! Get in on this!' He shouted, veins popping in his neck under the pressure.
Morgan heard him, watched the strange contraption – two tables, buffeting the crowd aside, the four of them appearing to her view as it moved position, like the legs of a crab, a blaze of gunfire from Cal's hands lining the edge in light, revealing it as their vehicle. Morgan planted a boot on the top of the high bar (surprisingly flexible, Dean thought) among the bottles, stood right up on top - just like Cal – and jumped off.
She landed with a BOOM behind them, taking the time to reload Mags while she had the chance.
'Gosh!' She shouted acerbically. 'A hand-grenade would be really f*ckin' useful about now, don't y'think?!'
And if Cal hadn't been so busy firing, she'd have put her two cents in agreement with her.
'You'd never have fit 'em in your pockets!' Luke shouted back – obviously revisiting an old argument.
They pushed the tables on, path curving round, Sam and Dean braced their shoulders against it. The Zombie was roaring, kicking a loud hole in the snare, someone had torn the door off its hinges in an attempt to get out, people flooding in a screaming smoke-choked throng through the narrow space, ribs bruising. One last push, and they were against the stage!
Time to charge.
'Get the girls up!' Luke bellowed.
A hell of an improvement over the Winchester way of thinking, in Cal's opinion, considering they were usually the one's telling her to stay behind where it was safe.
Sam and Dean reached for Cal and Morgan, the armed ones, propelled them pitilessly upwards, right into the face of the raging monster, Luke followed after them, lighter than Dean able to stand on the edge of the table and almost jump up. Dean getting a foot-up from Sam, tall enough to climb on his own. And they were on-stage again! Morgan and Cal, shoulder to shoulder, fingers cramped around their triggers, boots in the whiskey-fire creeping along the sprung boards. Luke, picking up his feet in fear, throwing Cal's knives beside them, then Sam and Dean, grabbing anything heavy they could reach and throwing it at the thing – cuz yeah, payback is a bitch.
Together, bit by bit, they forced the Zombie back – the people who had been hiding found the courage and space to come out and run, urged on by the two big guys, Winchesters, who waved them in the right direction. Figures of shuddering relief.
But Morgan and Cal had to run
out of bullets sometime.
Morgan had been firing longer – went first, swore loudly as she clicked out, lowered her gun, and ducked back athletically as a filthy hand swung through the air, swiping at her face, smacked it down scornfully with the flat of her hand, like a cat batting at butterflies.
'Over to you!' She shouted at Cal, huge dark eyes looking scary as she stood aside, out of the line of fire – pulled Luke with her, unarmed now, all his borrowed blades used. The Zombie staggered on, hands stereotypically outstretched, groaning under the onslaught of gunfire obliterating its body, its face, a flicker of nerves passed Cal's face – she knew her weapon, she knew she was running low. Sam and Dean stepped up, as her Jericho sputtered into silence, took their last thing to throw – the sub-woofers, torn from the edge. Half smashed, half threw them, from two sides, into the Zombie's head – it only roared the louder, tilting head back, broken misshapen mouth gaping open as spittle and sourceless hatred flew at them. Its two arms struck out, preternaturally strong, and caught both brothers in the throat, pushed them aside.
Which left only...
Tombob. Standing on the edge of the stage, singed, scared, top-hat slipping and broken at the top – he'd crept from the wings, about to take his chance to escape. Except... except... here was a different kind of chance, wasn't there?
And then he did something so heroic, so
selfless, so rock and roll, that no one he ever told about it,
from that day to the next, ever believed him.
He picked up the nearest thing – which was a guitar – and smashed it over the Zombie.
Ozzy Osbourne would have been proud.
went down, vanishing over the edge of the stage, down the
several feet to the floor, destroying the table-tortoise as it went –
and now something, some wraith-ish specter, was striding through the
smoke to Tombob, bits of string and mahogany in his hands – who
felt like his knees would buckle if this turned out to be something
else monstrous. It wasn't. It was that ridiculously-hot European
chick, done pulling her idiot-brother out of harm- and fire-hazard's
way. She clouted the little guy on the arm, as hard as any of his
friends, and nodded her head.
All Tombob could say was: 'Mmmmff!!'
The two bigs guys he didn't know were lying messily on the stage, and the stubbled one grumbled belligerently under his breath, as they got to their feet – friggin' karate-chop my ass!! He checked the other one for injury, like a mother hen, both seemingly concerned with the state of each other's necks. The really-tall one patted him on the shoulder, with kind eyes.
'Wow, wow! Hang on!' That was the blond brother, standing where he'd been pushed – next to the other hot chick- holding his hands up as if to put a halt to the proceedings. He looked pale and horrified.
'Tombob.' He began, in a tone of utmost deliberation,
like the fate of the world rested on the reply. 'What guitar was
The others recoiled, disgusted with their friend for the amateur dramatics.
'Tombob' looked at the instrument still drooping from his fingers. 'Uh....?'
'Relax,' his sister cut in, scathing. 'It's blue. It's not the Les Paul.'
Blond-guy almost visibly deflated with relief, walked forwards, grabbed Tombob's face – Tombob, you absolute star – and planted a kiss on his forehead. Tombob was too shell-shocked to care... but not so shell-shocked that he neglected to look hopefully at Morgan, too, to see if she'd express her gratitude in the same way. No? Oh well. Figures, you can't have everything.
Cal was basking in the after glow of a good fight, watching as Luke strode over to the side of the stage to help Morgan lower a shell-shocked Tombob to the ground below. She wasn't too proud to admit to herself that she was holding out for the money shot, wanting to get a good look at the guy's assets as he bent over the edge.
He was looking too, risking a stealthy slide of the eyes as she dusted off her skirt and blouse, admiring her package as she had his. The sly smile that spread over his lips as she picked up her knives and slid them back into her boots mirrored her own… until something other than Luke finally caught her eye.
Maria was freaking out behind the bar, hitting the flames that were quickly spreading across it with a towel, trying to put them out. The stage was burning too, along with one of the booths and a couple of tables. Slow burning flames that were just dancing over the top of the alcohol it had taken to… not much damage yet but if left to its own devices the whole place would go up in smoke, literally. Suddenly those Molotov cocktails didn't seem as brilliant an idea as she'd originally thought.
First things first though, there was a practical use for that fire. Might as well get rid of the zombie corpse before the cops and firemen arrived.
"Hey Sam!" Because he was closest to the edge of the stage. "Give me a hand with the zombie?"
Took him a second to register what she was asking him to do. The first thought that came to mind was that they'd already finished it off. But then Cal nodded at the flames and the lightbulb went on. Salt and burn, of course!
Dean had apparently been thinking along those same lines too, because he was collecting salt shakers from the tables that were still standing.
Sam spared a moment's regret for the guy the zombie had once been, peering over the side of the stage.
'Uh... guys?' This was a first, even for them.
'What?' The question coming to him in surround sound from several different distracted voices. They wouldn't be distracted for long.
'It's not there.' The zombie wasn't where they'd left it.
Just one voice this time, accompanied by an upward tip of chin, as Dean threw him a '…Come again?!'
'It's not there.' Sam repeated, looking over the side of the stage again, as if to make sure.
'Whaddya mean it's not there?!' Cal this time, visibly annoyed and obviously not believing what she'd heard.
'I mean it's not there! It's gone!' The third time being the charm, apparently, because he now had everyone's attention. They were all rushing over to see for themselves. Dean was down on the dance floor, with an armload of salt shakers staring at his boots. He was standing right where the zombie had fallen, nothing more than a blood smear there now. "Dude," and there was that confused, surprised look that always somehow managed to make him look like he was five. "It's not there."
As frustrating as it was that it took three tries and everyone rushing over to see for themselves in order for them to believe him, Sam couldn't help the part relieved, part annoyed Thank you.
Morgan was seriously unamused. "We've lost the Zombie." Fighting the zombie had been fun, but now they were facing a long night of hunting it down.
"Well, now, that's just careless!" Luke, the straight-faced funny man to Morgan's serious one. He earned himself a chuckle from Cal with that one too, before she threw in her own opinion on this newest turn of events. "On the upside – looks like things just got interesting!" Because she was always up for a little excitement.
The Winchesters let out a derisive snort, letting her know exactly how interesting they found the prospect of spending the night combing the streets of New York for the Zombie-Tramp they all thought they'd already taken care of.
Luke sandwiched himself between them, amiably throwing an arm over their shoulders, and allowing his bottom lip to wobble with emotion.
'Y'know... I have the feeling this could be the start of something beautiful!!' He said, his voice so choked by the end that only dogs could hear him. (All it earned him was a pointed jab in the ribs.)
Dean could see where this was headed, the five of them cramped into the Impala, and cringed inwardly just thinking of what the extra weight might do to the shocks. "Okay." A loud, resigned sigh later. "Let's hit the road. Sooner we get out there the better chance we have to find it."
In the background there was still the soft thwapping sound of cloth on polished wood. Maria was still frantically flapping at flames, squeaking out a 'Little Help!?!' as she shot a desperate look at Cal and did her best to avoid making eye contact with Morgan.
Right. The fire.
"We're not going anywhere Dean."
"You heard me."
"Because we're not just going to take off and let my favorite bar burn down. There's a fire extinguisher right next to you, there. Put down the salt and make yourself useful for a change." 'Yeah Dean!' Luke chimed in accusingly, in the manner of the skinny bully who leans around the big one and shakes his fist. He was having a whale of a time.
Meanwhile, Cal didn't even blink, just hopped off the stage in that indecent little get-up of hers and assumed he'd fall in line and do as he'd been told. He was still holding the salt shakers when Cal slinked past him, getting up into his personal space and gracing him with the sweet, evil little smile that never failed to make his skin crawl.
"Oh, and Dean?" An innocently arched brow that told him she was up to something. "We're going to need to borrow your car to track the Zobo down."
That damned woman had some nerve volunteering his baby to taxi everybody around… blowing out the breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding, he shifted on his feet uncomfortably.
Sam, who had followed Cal offstage, frowned as he looked his brother up and down. "What?"
"S'just.... the thought of that chick in my car...." Dean muttered unhappily, like a sulky schoolboy.
"Pff" Typical Dean, being over protective of the Impala. "Dude, suck it up!"
Of course, Sam's scorn didn't go unavenged. Once he'd finished pulling a sullen smacked-ass face, and muttering all the more under his breath and looking at his feet as his scuffed them, Dean sauntered off after Morgan. She was leading Tombob to the bar with an iron grip on his arm, dropping him into the one remaining stool, oblivious to the fire raging right in front of them, and handing him one of her booze-bombs.
he said, trying to be cool, but uncertain what to do with his big
lips as he propped up an elbow on the bar, leaned into her field of
vision. 'Need a hand?'
'No, ta.' Morgan replied mildly, absorbed in wrenching the plug out of the bottle because watching the kid try to do it himself was just painful.
Dean tried to move closer, hindered by the fact that Tombob was sitting inbetween them.
'Get that down you.' He heard her mutter to the kid, smacking him on the back, and only then did he realize how much his hand was shaking as he gripped the bottle of black-label and put it to his lips.
Just then, Morgan spotted something on the floor and doubled over to reach it, bringing her face into alarmingly close proximity with Tombob's lap (Dean looked around at the guy, startled and angry, thinking for a split-second that this upstart kid was getting his luck). Something a teenage boy was just not equipped to deal with. Tombob convulsed with hormonal panic and horror, did the only thing he could do – he turned, and sprayed a mist of it right into Dean's resigned face. You could even hear it pattering over the sound of the flames.
Oblivious, Morgan straightened up with a battered pair of Converse in her hands, and met the sight of Tombob, almost cringing away from a Dean who's face had gone dangerously blank.
that sweat?' She asked him, meaning the sheen of moisture on
He scrubbed a hand down his features, suddenly tired with Fate's equivalent of having the rug out pulled from under his feet and then being wrapped up in it and tossed off a bridge.
'Yeah.' He said, tonelessly and through gritted teeth, glaring one last time at Tombob, who had the good grace to look ashamed of himself. 'I'm just gonna get a fire-extinguisher.'
Dean leaned right over the bar this time, scooped one up from the shelf below, where he'd seen a bartender use it earlier, turned on his heel, and stalked off. He paused to give the fire Maria was fighting a cursory skirt of foam, and then went on his merry way back to Sam.... Sam, who, he saw straight off, had clearly observed the whole thing.
Sam muttered, squinting in half-laughing sympathy at the specter of
his big brother, striding back to him through the rubble and the
flame. 'You're shiny!' He added in wonder.
'Hey, Sammy,' Dean said, deadpan. 'Don't look now, but your shoelaces're on fire.'
'What? No they aren't.'
'Yeah. They are. They totally are.'
Dean pointed the hose, and let rip. All Sam could do was stand there, glaring unblinkingly into Dean's bright little shit-eating smile, clinging to the last few vestiges of his dignity as his feet disappeared in a mountain of cold, soaking white foam. Dean kept the foam coming... and coming... and coming...
'There!' He chirped as the extinguisher spit itself
out into nothing. 'All gone!'
He smiled again.
'Hysterical, Dean.' Sam informed him in a deadly monotone. 'I'd laugh-' he waved an arm, '-f'only I wasn't crying inside.'
(Which drew an abashed tuck of the chin from Dean, as he pretended he wasn't trying and failing to think up a comeback).
Well, when in doubt: 'Shut up...'