And here I am, replaying Folklore and getting back into that as well. This is also my first fic for the game so apologies if any characters, specifically Keats, are OOC! I'm open to criticism. Also, regarding the Half-lives, I just figured I would have the pub crowded with some others since Charlie is there. I'm not heavily creative as to how he would play considering he admitted he couldn't since he had no windpipes/lungs, but, I sort of imagined him having a group to play along with him, so.
It was such a strange sight.
Vibrant music was flowing in and out of a pub in the small village of Doolin, creatures known as Halflives clamored around, drinking and dancing and laughing the night away. It was a rare thing, to see the pub this lively. The music often shifted between slow and mellow, to upbeat and fast-paced tunes, all of it lead by the Netherworld famous Charlie Rawhead. Various others would join in and sing, and would go back to sitting back and enjoying the music. It was interesting, the way these beings usually had a somewhat serious air around them, the troubles that were currently occurring in the Netherworld didn't offer much else.
A lone man sat hunched over at the bar, swirling his drink in his glass, not entirely sure if what he was drinking was...safe, considering it was made by a mythical creature. It smelled and tasted like regular whiskey, so he paid no mind. He wasn't really one for such loud bustling, and he needed a moment or two to simply relax with a drink and was too lost in his own thoughts to be bothered with the noise around him. It was rather annoying. That is, until he caught a glimpse of the girl next to him standing up and joining the banshee in a dance as the music started up again with a merry cheer and at this point he debated whether he should leave.
Her breath began to speak,
As she stood right in front of me,
The color of her eyes,
Were the color of insanity
It was her. Perhaps just her, being the reason he stuck around. He didn't have any particular interest in her personally, even though the events they were involved in formed an unusual—and rather unwanted—bond between this girl and him. He always preferred solitude, and suddenly this woman, and many others, were entwined into his life so that he could not escape. And there was a very tiny sliver of him that was perfectly fine with this. He didn't like that at all.
Like a ship, I could not reach her shore,
We're all just dancers on the Devil's Dance Floor!
He side glanced over towards the area where the band played, a few of the half-lives were dancing and the heiress of the Cloak of Sidhe was amongst them. He figured she'd had a few too many drinks; she was usually very soft-spoken and shy, timid. But right now she was radiant as ever, smiling, laughing, dancing. It was the liveliest he'd seen her since he'd met her in this little village. She looked free of burden, as though she could have forgotten all about their duties to the Netherworld.
Well swing a little more, little more o'er the merry-o,
Swing a little more, a little more next to me,
Swing a little more, little more o'er the merry-o,
Swing a little more, on the Devil's Dance Floor
He tried to block out the music and get back to his own critical thinking of his investigation, but it was difficult to do when there was so much to be distracted by. Specifically one thing, her, who was tied to the suspicious events around somehow. Another loud stroke of the violin and he was brought out of his thoughts again. He felt that he was severely out of place here. He didn't disagree with their having fun, he just would rather be in the quiet comfort of the base he had here. He sighed and raised his head up to prop his cheek against his knuckles to watch the party goers to the side, and found the girl hand-in-hand with the banshee and twirling around to the music without a care in the world, the half-life woman bearing a very rare smile.
The beat of the music picked up a little faster, and the other half-lives began to clap to the rhythm as the two females continued to dance and spin in the middle of the room. He glanced down at the hat the girl left atop the counter next to him, his eyes then trailing back to watch her dance. Her head spun around and she made eye contact with him, the smile wavered just barely, as though a part of her suddenly shivered at the fact that he was looking at her, but vanished quickly and she continued smiling back at him.
Pressed against her face,
I could feel her insecurity,
Her mother'd been a drunk,
And her father was obscurity
It was...very peculiar. The girl was, he'd meant. The way she looked at him. He wasn't interested in delving into any relationships with these people, he simply wanted a good story for his magazine. But the girl was an interesting sort, the kind that sparked your curiosity even when you'd rather not get involved. But there was so much he still had to uncover, so much to learn, so much that he didn't know about her and this village. He would claim he didn't care, but in the end, he was too curious for his own good. A mental chuckle was released, telling himself that perhaps he'd indeed had one too many drinks.
But nothin' ever came,
From a life that was a simple one,
So pull yourself together girl,
And have a little fun
He had blinked several times and, while lost in his thoughts, was taken aback when he finally noticed the girl was in front of him and placed a hand over his free one, a wide, yet a little tentative smile upon her face.
Why did she have to look at him that way?
Confused, he raised a brow in silent inquiry, to which her response was, "Come, Keats! Dance a little, you look so glum slumped over the counter like that."
He blinked, feeling a minor sweat drop form on his forehead in slight annoyance. "Ah, no, I'm not really suited for that, Ellen. I don't care too much for dancing."
Well she took me by the hand,
I could tell she was a fiery one,
Her legs ran all the way,
Up to heaven and past Avalon
An unusual pout formed on her face, still seeming persistent in getting him to move from his spot. "Oh, come now...take off that coat of yours and relax a little." There was a pause in her words, as if she was stopping herself from sounding too demanding of him. It wasn't that she was afraid of him, exactly, but he could tell that she did feel rather intimidated by him for the most part.
It was...intriguingly precious.
He stopped himself on the spot at that and attempted to resume his composure.
Tell me somethin' girl, what it is you have in store,
She said come with me now,
On the Devil's Dance Floor
"I mean I'd...like you to dance with me...please...?" Her words were slow, hesitant, like she didn't want to sound forceful. She was so sickeningly sweet and innocent, sometimes he'd wonder if it was just an act. It was driving him mad. With the amount he'd had to drink, it was causing him to think illogically and he didn't like it. He wanted to stay put, didn't want to make a fool of himself like the rest of the lot in the pub.
There was something about her that was causing him to slip a little. And, by some ungodly, unknown reason, he was allowing himself to do so. He argued with himself that it was an absurd idea, what a ridiculous image that would be. But, at the same time, he knew that the alcohol was already affecting his thinking, which was beckoning for him to loosen up a little for once. The way Ellen looked at him, ever kindly eyes and her soft tone risen only slightly to be heard over the music, her hand lightly grasping onto his own, it was all coaxing him into this one small moment of merriment. He wasn't sure he would last, and somehow, he was alright with that. He was slowly becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of entertaining her for a moment or two.
He soon realized that all of his thoughts ran through in only a matter of seconds, when it seemed like it had been minutes, maybe close to an hour, just for him to decide what to do. A small squeeze of her hand drew him back into the real world—well, figuratively. His eyes focused back on her gentle face and her smile caused any remaining disagreements to crumble, and he heaved a sigh before nodding at her, preparing to shrug his jacket off to sit it on the barstool. Her face lit up and she happily clapped her hands together, absolutely ecstatic that he was actually agreeing to join her. He plucked up his glass from the bar and downed the remaining whiskey inside, sitting it back down and running his fingers through his hair, nodding over towards the empty floor for her to lead him to.
The apple is now sweet,
Much sweeter than it ought to be,
Another little bite,
I don't think there is much hope for me
Everything that happened then seemed a mite blurry, but that was probably because he—and yes he dared to admit this—was actually enjoying himself to a degree, even if he wasn't roaring with mirth like the others. He managed to keep his calm and collected demeanor, and in a way he was mostly doing it so that Ellen would not pester him about it again. He didn't move as freely and joyously as the others had, he still had some control about him as he lead the girl through spins and minor hops as their feet tapped the floor to the drums of the music, the claps from the others at the bar and around them kept them in tune and it was surprising that, having not done this before, he didn't miss a beat even with the slight buzz clouding his judgment.
The sweat beneath her brow,
Travels all the way, an' headin' south
His eyes never left her face apart from when she would spin around and him in turn with hers, that irritating, bothersome, downright caring and adoring smile on her lips would be the death of him if he looked at her for too long while in this state. Perhaps this was a bad idea, but he didn't seem interested in ending this anytime soon. Humor her for now, he'd think, she's having difficulty trying to deal with everything that's happening at the moment and needs some uplifting. Although why I'm the center of it is unknown to me.
His attention was stretched out to nearly everything, his mind wandering in and out of paying attention; the way their fingers would twine and release before grasping each other again, the way she had automatically toned herself down from dancing with the banshee to match his more controlled pace, the violins and drums and the clapping, the crackling of the fire. He was still aware of his surroundings, but didn't think much of it as he saw no reason to remain tense and alert. No harm could come from a little enjoyment. Not that this was usual for him, he couldn't recall when he'd ever had the slightest consideration to even attempting doing something like this. He'd always remained a professional, never really stepping too far out of it. But just this once it would be alright, he supposed. It was too late to back out now, anyway.
A laugh erupted the Cloak heiress and he felt the alcohol cause some of his thoughts to wander yet again. He, Keats, was a working man, preferred to work alone, and could have been considered a bit of a scrooge, a no-nonsense type person. There was some very strange sense of attachment, in a mental sense, to this girl, at how he was allowing her and these other Half-lives see him this way. He had no doubts of the Faeries seeing him as an enemy of the Netherworld, not that he cared—they didn't seem to be aware of how wrong their plans were. But he wasn't necessarily interested in it for their benefit. He simply wanted to know the whole story to the events tied to this village, all of it seemingly trailing back to the blonde he was dancing with.
This bleedin' heart's cryin,
Cause there's no way out
But it was strange. There was a very complicated sense of comfort he found in all of this, and once again it circled around to Ellen. She may have been a bit naïve, but she wasn't stupid. She was indeed a very peculiar girl.
Some time passed, and after several more choruses ended the song, a slower melody began to play and the Half-lives soon return to chatting amongst themselves instead of hollering and cheering from the previous lively music. A female Half-life began to hum a mellow tune, one much quieter and softer and brought them a little off their jolly high; Ellen was definitely more affected by this than Keats was. When they slowed down it dawned on him that she had her head pressed against his chest and her arms wrapped around him and was wobbling slightly, using him as support so that she wouldn't stumble. He was a little startled at this and felt just a tad uncomfortable at the closeness between them and attempted to unwrap her arms from his waist.
"I think you need some sleep."
A yawn escaping her and something mumbled incoherently was his answer. He nodded and moved to retrieve his jacket, slipping it on and handing Ellen her hat. When she didn't take it from him right then, he shook his head a little and simply placed it atop her head for her. It was clear she was in no state to head back to her hut on her own, she'd worn herself out from all that dancing. He waved to the barkeep and exited the pub, wrapping an arm around her shoulders to help guide her along the rubble road. She tripped a few times, but he had prevented her from falling completely and hitting the ground.
He could tell as they walked that her eyes slowly began to drift shut, or were half lidded. The girl was ready to crash, as was he, though he wasn't as heavily affected by alcohol as she was. Her left hand would tighten on the back of his coat whenever she'd wobble, but his arm would hold her firmly in place, something that she was thankful of.
They arrived at her hut and he lead her inside, making sure that she got to her bed safely without tripping and hitting her head on something. They stopped in front of the bed and he heard her voice slowly and quietly, but for some reason he somehow sensed a growing tension and sadness welling up in the girl's voice as she spoke. He had just assumed it would be the alcohol talking.
"Ohh look at me..." He didn't see her swallow. "what is wrong with me?" A small chuckle.
He felt a bit confused by this. "What do you mean?" He asked, as he helped her over to sit down on the mattress.
"I'm so...scared." Ellen's gaze was on the floor and her body would sway ever so slightly from trying to stay sitting up. "I don't want to be alone..."
She must not be used to drinking, he thought. But he knew that her being slightly more than buzzed wasn't the whole reason as to what she said just now. He didn't know the whole story behind her, nor did he want to shove it aside because she was a part of the story, and he couldn't continue without her. He sighed.
"Come now, Ellen, you aren't alone." He replied, hoping that she would quickly dismiss this nonsense and just sleep.
"But I am...I always have been." Much to his discomfort, she began to sniffle and her voice cracked.
"When mother left me I had no one else...I always felt so helpless!" Her face was buried into her hands then—good lord she'd definitely had too much to drink to cause her to spill all of this onto him.
He sighed again, a little exasperatedly, and knelt down on one knee, reaching up to pull her hands from her face. "Ellen, look, you should know better than this. You have been traveling by yourself in the Netherworld and facing its dangers all on your own. I think you're capable enough of handling yourself." He paused to adjust his glasses. "You are not alone, and you never were. Now, stop this foolishness and try to rest, you need it."
Another sniff, though she ceased from falling into a sobbing fit. Her eyes caught his—well, his glasses, that is, which were illuminated by the oil lamp on the desk next to her bed, creating a mysterious glow upon his figure. She blinked several times, too raptured by how he was lit against the darkness. She hadn't noticed before that he was rather handsome, but even in her current state, she knew better than to say such a thing aloud. Ellen stared at him for so long that the previous conversation from seconds before was suddenly forgotten, and her eyes were lowered to the floor.
"Yes." Was her only response, and there was a sigh of relief from the man. "Thank you, Keats. I'm sorry."
He released her wrists and she laid back onto the mattress, sitting her hat to the side and curling up beneath the sheets, and was asleep in an instant. To his own surprise, he did not leave immediately. He stood and watched her for a few more moments, making sure that she was...well...why did he stand there? He was searching for a reason, but could not find one. There was something that kept him from moving, that kept him right there and watching her to make sure she snoozed peacefully. He was mildly concerned with his actions this night, they confused him. He lost track of how long he stood there by the door's corner watching her. Why was he acting this way? He usually kept his distance, both physically and emotionally. He never saw any need to become too attached to anyone or anything, and he certainly wasn't a sentimental person. So why on earth did he act this way now?
Could be the alcohol. Or I'm sobering up. ...Or these recent events are toying with my head.
He blinked when another tiny whimper escaped the girl's lips, he saw her brows furrow in her sleep. He was close to opening the door to leave, but by an unknown impulse, he found himself striding forward to her bedside and brushing strands of hair from her face ever so gently as to not wake her up. Almost instantly, her brows relaxed and she sighed, curling her face back into the pillow as though his touch tickled her and reassured her that she was safe.
A small hint of an unconscious smile appeared on his lips.
He managed to collect himself rather quickly after that, exiting the hut, stuffing his hands in his pockets and making his way back to his base. Hopefully he'd be able to focus on the task at hand much better now without so many distractions. He'd take a nap, and then try to pick up where he left off on his investigation.
It was nice, though.