The Story So Far
A Devil's Dance Floor Sequel
Here's the story so far
It's already here
We've made it this far
Sure we battled the spears
But life cuts to pieces
To the wounds from the secrets
Makes it all who you are
- The Story So Far, Flogging Molly
Nikolai sat in the exact same spot for the next seven Wednesdays. He always ordered two beers and drank only one. He played the same song on the jukebox at the same time. And in spite of numerous advances from beautiful women, he left alone precisely at two in the morning. He would wander the streets for an hour, and if he was lucky, he would bask in the rain before heading back to his penthouse. When he returned home, he turned on his television to the news channel, looking for an excuse to her absence for the whole night.
In seven weeks, he never found one.
He began to doubt the last, cryptic words she said to him. He had waited seven Wednesdays to see her again, to talk to her again, to dance with her again, and yet every one of those nights ended with him lying awake and alone in his bed, thinking of her. Like some disgusting, love-sick puppy. He hated what he was becoming, and yet there was no way to stop the metamorphosis. Seven weeks ago he tasted something intriguing, had spoken intelligent, witty conversation with a woman, and now all he could do was think about her. There wasn't another woman in the world that held more interest to him.
And he hated that. It was a sign that things changed, that he changed, and Nikolai hated change.
Without any warning, Wednesday number eight appeared in the middle of his week. Nikolai left the comfort of his penthouse, walked to the bar several blocks away, down the rickety stairs to the smell of smoke and beer, waved to one of the waitresses, and fell into his normal spot. The booth he sat in with Raven, the one tucked in the back, sheltered by awkward placement of support beams. His eyes scanned the typical Wednesday crowd, looking for an anomaly.
He sighed and leaned back into the booth. This was stupid. Maybe he just needed to accept that for one night, they both made stupid decisions. They said things they shouldn't have. Kissed and touched when they knew it was wrong. If he believed those things, maybe that painful ache in his chest would just go away.
Ugh. He was such a fucking sap.
He looked up into the smiling face of Candice and gave a half-hearted wave. They'd been friends for awhile, or whatever you call that awkward relationship you build with people in the service industry, and out of everyone who worked here, he liked her the most. There was something pragmatic and practical about her, something down-to-earth. "Candy. It's nice to see you again."
He watched as a menagerie of emotions passed across her face. Nikolai sighed. Nine Wednesdays ago he would have flashed his trademark smile and she would have fallen into his bed. But now… it just didn't seem worth it.
"As if there was any doubt you would show tonight. You come every Wednesday like clockwork." She placed the two beers in front of him, and then slid into the empty seat across from Nikolai. Something in his body ticked at the sight of her in Raven's spot, but he just concentrated on Candice's smile and tried to let the violation pass. "I have some very sad news, the Dragon's Milk keg is out."
Nikolai felt something dark sink into his stomach as he stared at the two dark beers in front of him. There was a change to his routine… was it a sign? Maybe he should give up on the change that had already started. Give up on Raven. She was just a girl, and girls flowed like water around him. He looked up at Candice, and flashed her a shadow of his trademark smile, enjoying the pale blush on her cheeks. "So, then what's this?"
Candice chuckled. "Sin Eater."
Nikolai laughed. "How appropriate."
"I thought so…" She fidgeted with the glass in front of her for a moment, and Nikolai thought she might drink it. That thought made him painfully sick to his stomach. It wasn't for her. She stopped fidgeting and looked up at him. "Hey, Nik? Can I… talk to you about something?"
He cringed and looked up at her. Her eyes were too damn blue, and she looked like she could see into his soul. "About what?"
"Well, we've been friends for a while… or whatever this weird relationship is called… and… I don't like seeing you pine over a girl. She's just a girl, and there will be others." She cocked her head to the side and watched him move restlessly. "You should move on, get a hobby or something. And stop turning all the other women away, half the reason we have this kind of crowd on Wednesday is because you're here. It'll be bad for business if they think you're taken."
Her joke did nothing to ease the pain she caused. He didn't want to think of Raven as "just a girl" but maybe he needed to. Maybe their one encounter was all he ever got out of her, or maybe with a little patience there would be a thousand more encounters. And that was something worth waiting for.
Nikolai glanced down at his beer before looking up into her face. "Candy… have you ever wanted something so bad in your life that you'd do anything to get it? And you get so close to having that one thing you want only to watch it slip away?" She shifted awkwardly in her seat, as it he touched a wound inside her. "I know what I'm doing seems stupid and pointless. It's… it's like Tantalus, with that branch just out of reach, and all I can do is stare at the fruit and hope it falls down."
Candice raised an eyebrow. "You're in love aren't you?"
"I'm in a sick state of infatuation and I hate it." He sighed and leaned back into the booth, staring at the faded, old band posters behind her head. "She promised me she would come back to me. So, I'll wait for a while longer."
"Just don't wait forever, Nik." Candice stood and walked away, leaving Nikolai stew in his own emotions for a while longer.
It was nearing midnight, and sleep seemed to be creeping in and out of his vision. The last two heists he went on had been particularly exhausting, and his flights downgraded him to coach where he had no room to sleep and sat next to noisy, crying children. Bastards. But he would wait until close for her, but maybe tonight would be the last night he waited. Maybe Candice was right and he needed to get a life. Or a piece of ass.
The thought of that made him remember the sight of Raven, her hair all mussed as he lay on top of her, kissing the breath right from her lungs. The feel of her heartbeat as he slid his hands over her breast. The way her hands felt as they tangled into his hair. God! He was such an idiot, letting himself get attached to her. To Raven, a freaking Titan! And here he was daydreaming about her like a school boy daydreamed about the girls in Playboy.
Nikolai cursed under his breath and stood up to walk to the jukebox. He stood there, flipping through the tracks on the screen, looking for that one album. He'd almost memorized how many movements it took to get to the song. Standing here, he felt hungry eyes of women on his back, but they weren't interesting. He couldn't talk to them, tease them, play games… they were empty headed females with nothing more than a desire to get into his pants. That was no way to build a relationship, although it was a nice try.
For a moment Nikolai thought he smelled the soft, musky floral scent of lavender, and the sensation jarred him from his monotonous thoughts. Nikolai's hand slipped. Wait. That wasn't the song he wanted. Damnit, it was too late now. Sighing, he walked back to the booth. Maybe Candice was right, and maybe pining after something he couldn't have was stupid. Change was bad, that Nikolai knew.
He ducked into the dark corner and stopped in his tracks. Across the table from his usual spot sat a petite, pale woman with an unreadable expression. Nikolai felt his heart jump into his throat as they stared at each other.
He had to be hallucinating. This had to be sleep deprivation. He had to say something.
That's it? Two months of waiting for this moment and the only thing he could say to her was "you're late"? Like it was some dumb scene out of a romance movie? Nikolai shook his head and stared at her as he sat in the seat opposite of her. This whole thing felt like a dream, like she wasn't really there, looking at him with those sad eyes. He groaned and pushed the second beer closer to her. "Well, at least you came."
Color flooded her face. "I'm sorry."
Nikolai enjoyed the sight of color on her cheeks and he stared at her for a long time. After all the time he spent waiting for her, the sight looked a hundred times more beautiful. "You should be sorry. I've spent two months waiting for you to come. You promised me you would be here the following Wednesday, and you weren't. And here I am, pining after you like a dog waiting for his master. Do you know what that does to my reputation?"
Raven's sympathetic look quickly disappeared and she pushed the beer aside to lean over the table. Dark fire flashed in her eyes, and Nikolai knew that he had crossed the line. It took a real idiot to anger Raven, and he did just that. Her lips turned up in a snarl and she inched closer to him. "You act as though you're the only one who was hurt by our encounter. As if I had no stake in what happened between us. Do you think that I haven't been troubled as well? Do you think that I haven't had to live with the guilt and remorse of fraternizing with the enemy?"
"I never feel guilty. It's a waste of emotions." Nikolai cringed as soon as the words left his lips. Well, that was a stupid remark.
"You're a conceited jerk, you know that, right?" She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back into the booth. Shadows covered most of her face, hiding her expression from Nikolai. "I could have gotten into serious trouble letting you do what you did to me. And you could have gotten seriously hurt if the others found you. This whole… whatever this is between us… isn't just about you."
"I know." He sighed and looked away from her for a second, trying to collect his thoughts. He'd spent so much time imagining this moment, that the actual reality of what had happened between them never really caught up to him. They had both been playing with fire two months ago, and it was a miracle that neither of them got burned. "I'm sorry… It's just hard to understand what happened. We… did something to each other, and now we're both all fucked up in the emotional department."
"I know." Raven looked up into his eyes and gave a weak smile. "You really fucked me up. I've spent nights dreaming about you, do you know what that does to my reputation?"
Nikolai smiled. "Well, it's good to know that we understand each other's situations." There was a sudden burst of noise, and music poured out of the speakers. Slow and sad, almost like a dirge you could dance to. Nikolai stood and offered his hand to Raven. "Come on, Rae. On your feet."
You always had what you wanted
So leave it behind
And if the glass isn't broken
Then the futures not blind
All that you know means nothing to you
But it's the loss of control shatters the truth
Raven's hand slipped into his and he pulled her to her feet. He could feel the confusion and hesitation in her touch, and he squeezed her hand in some act of comfort. Her eyes darted around the crowded bar, looking at the people watching them. "What are we doing?"
"We're dancing." He pulled her onto the nearly empty dance floor, arms pulling her close. Lavender filled his senses and something in him calmed. He looked down at her, watching as she stared up at him. "Is that a problem? I think you owe me at least one dance for what you put me through."
Raven rolled her eyes, but she didn't back away from him, and that was a promising sign. "There you go again, talking as if I had no part in what happened. I had a good excuse for not coming." She frowned, and her eyes suddenly had a dark, far-away look that Nikolai had never seen in her before. As if she was remembering something that should have been forgotten a long time ago.
The sight of her like that did something painful to his heart, and he pulled her closer. "Which was?"
Here's the story so far
It's already here
We've made it this far
Sure we battled the spears
But life cuts to pieces
To the wounds from the secrets
Makes it all who you are
"I…" Her voice broke and trembled, and she looked away from him. He felt her skin turn cold and clammy, and he pulled her even closer to his body, trying to shelter her. Sometimes it was easy to forget that she saw far more terrors that one person ever should. Raven mumbled her response against his chest. "I was saving you from the end of the world."
"That seems a bit extreme… but given your employment I think I can understand." His hands pulled her hips closer to him, so that their steps had to be careful and measured to avoid tripping. He was forcing her to stay next to him and forcing her to dance with him. He wouldn't let her go again, not after he nearly lost his sanity waiting for her the first time.
"Wait…" Something didn't seem quite right with her story. The end of the world? Surely humans would have heard something about their imminent destruction. On the news? In books? In papers? A blog on the internet? Something, but he hadn't even heard a peep in the two months she'd been gone. Nikolai was calling bullshit. "If the world was going to end, why haven't I heard anything on the news?"
"Because the world already ended, and you died." He felt Raven's eyes on him, watching his reactions carefully. Nikolai hated it when she looked at him like that, like he didn't know or understand what was going on. Raven tried to put space between them, but he held her close, refusing to let go. She was going to tell him the truth if he had to squeeze it out of her.
Raven cursed at him, before continuing. "A demon lord by the name of Trigon took over the planet, murdered everyone, and had intentions of doing the same to other planets in the universe. Our world stopped turning and we had to right it, so that everyone would be none-the-wiser."
His gaze turned into a glare. "You've got a lot of nerve making up that bullshit."
She returned his glare, snarling up at him. "I'm telling the truth."
Love craves self destruction
It's a blizzard in hand
Lay your cards ion the table
But you're not in command
So burn with the fire
You so eagerly lit
Watch the flames flicker higher
Said I don't care about you
Raven finally pushed space between them, and Nikolai felt bereft at the lack of contact. God, he hated what she did to him. Hated that she could take his heart out in a single swipe and feed it to wolves. If this really was love, he didn't want any part of it. Not if it hurt this much.
"I didn't have to come back, you know." Raven stopped dancing and stared up at him, frowning. "I could have stayed away. I could have forgotten everything that happened between us, and left you here to stew in your own misery."
"Then why did you come back?" He crossed his arms over his chest and stared down at her, feeling the electricity of anger and sexual frustration arc between them. "Clearly you don't need me. You're not the one who has been here every Wednesday waiting for you to keep your promise. Which leads me to ask the question if you even know how to keep a promise?"
That touched a chord with Raven and she took another step back, putting even more space between them. "I don't know. I don't know why I promised you I would come back when I knew it was wrong, when we both knew it was wrong. And I don't know why you chose to believe me when you knew the same thing."
"Then you should have told me the truth, Raven." Nikolai glared. "You shouldn't have led me on, forcing me to believe something that would never happen. If you didn't want this between us, that's fine, but you should have let me know."
"Nikolai…" Something about his name of her lips made his stomach drop to the floor, it sounded like music. He stared down at her, carefully trying to decipher her emotions. She looked confused and distraught, and Nikolai could relate. "I missed your company. I missed the conversations and the teasing, and… Goddess, I missed the way you touched me. That's why I came back."
Oh it's bitter the pill
That you swallow to feel
I don't care what I lost
I just thank god I'm alive
Nikolai breathed a sigh of relief, as if he was finally letting out all the tension he'd accumulated for two months of emotional torture. She missed him too, and that made all this pain worth it. He pressed his lips to her ears, nipping at her lobes. "I've been waiting for two months for you to say that to me."
"I know…" Raven cringed. "I never meant for this to happen. Really."
"Me either, and I don't want you to get into trouble…" He kissed along the line of her neck, tasting the lavender on her skin. It tasted like ambrosia. "Why do you do this to me?" Nikolai pressed his face against her hair, breathing in her scent. "Do you know how many women make passes at me, and I turn them down for you. What in the hell for?"
She smirked up at him. "Because you like me."
"Sometimes I wonder."
"And I like you." Her smirk disappeared and her eyes suddenly seemed much to dark, like they were holding a million secrets and he wanted to know every single one of them. His heart turned over in his chest and he forgot how to breathe. "Even though I shouldn't, and I'm bound to get into serious trouble with my teammates. But… you're different. A shade of gray I've never seen before."
Nikolai leaned down so that his lips almost touched hers. "You mean a shade of red?"
Raven looked into his eyes. "Are you going to kiss me or keep teasing me?"
"Are you going to keep your promises?"
"I'm going to try…"
That might not have been the answer he wanted, but it was good enough for right now. Without another word, he kissed her full and hard on the lips, urging her mouth open so he could taste her. God, he craved her taste. It was like plums and vanilla, and the warm musky scent of lavender. His tongue slid along contours of her mouth, before pulling away to nibble on her lower lip. She gave a low, breathy moan, and all bets were off.
Nikolai pulled her off the dance floor and returned to their hidden corner in the back of the bar, placing kisses along her neck and ear. He pushed her into the darkest, most sheltered corner of the booth, ravishing her body. His hand slid over her breasts, feeling delicate embroidered lace under his touch. He smirked.
"You worse something sexy, didn't you?"
"It was all I had." Raven chuckled, low and sultry, and Nikolai felt his stomach clench hotly at the sound. It was as if this was their first encounter all over again, and he was going to break down if she did anything else to tease him.
He kissed her again, hand sliding from her hip to her thigh. His fingers disappeared under her skirt, and he watched as Raven looked scandalized. She tugged at his wrist, trying to keep space between them. Nikolai just laughed and pulled away, giving her just enough room to breathe. "You never did answer my question… what do I have to do to get the rest of you, Raven? Name your price."
She thought for a moment before responding. "Don't give up on me."
Nikolai pulled away and looked into her eyes. "I can't, unfortunately."
"Good… now… a little bird told me you don't live too far from here…" Raven pressed her nose close to his, her own hand rubbing his thigh. "I wonder what I'd have to do to get inside your room?"
She smiled. "Please."
So, after reading Taboo by The Flamekeeper, I was inspired to write this. Her story really reminded me why I love Red X and Raven stories so much.
It's really meant to be a small continuation of the previous story with a little more emphasis of Nikolai's view of the relationship. Please let me know what you think, I love to hear your thoughts.