Black Sun 021: Ride Home (Original Draft)

Black Sun 021: Ride Home (Original Draft)

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“Angela Mercy, Coffee House Hostage Speaking!”

“Finally! I’ve been trying to get you to answer for almost an hour.” Julian stood outside the dance studio leaning against the brick wall. Everything inside was dark, the last few people having left a while ago. There was no going back inside to hide from what was definitely going to be a drizzly night.

“The boss gets pissy when he catches me on the phone, what’s the matter?”

“I just need a ride home. I’m guessing work is why you bailed on class today? Or did you finally get bored? You know, Margrit has some GREAT suggestions for ballets if you’ve finally given up on the whole dance thing.” she teased. Julian wasn’t going to let Angela forget her promise.

“Ew. No thanks. But yeah, I’m kinda one incident away from getting fired. I’m the only one here who can fix the espresso machine, which incidentally I’m also the one that BROKE it, but here’s hoping Boss doesn’t figure that out.” Angela sighed heavily. “What happened to Margrit? Or one of your vampires?”

“She said a bunch of fancy buzzwords and left early to do Margrit stuff. And I really don’t want to deal with Michael or Leo right now.”

“Oho, that sounds like juicy gossip. Something you wanna tell me?”

Julian just laughed. “No, nothing serious. But it’s also not something I want to talk about while getting slowly destroyed by mist and cold. I’m gonna have to run, then. Text me when you get home!”

Once she hung up and stashed her phone in her jacket pocket, she sighed. Walking home was not a big deal. That was her primary transportation! She didn’t know why all of a sudden she was so antsy about it. During the week it wasn’t so bad, but tonight wanted to be especially eerie. Julian decided to blame the sky and the fact that Halloween was right around the corner. Everything always freaked her out this time of year. She leaned forward to make sure it hadn’t started raining yet, and pushed away from the wall to go skipping down the sidewalk.

She hadn’t gone far when big, fat drops started to fall. The first one landed on her eyebrow. It rolled down, threatening to drip right into her eye, cold and wet and agitating. Soon more were spattering the pavement around her and splashing against her clothes.

Just as the rain started to really pick up, a grey sedan turned the corner. As it passed Julian it slowed to a placid crawl.

The driver’s side window rolled down, and the driver leaned out of the open window with his elbow resting on the door. He had an all-too-familiar face, though he’d once again changed his attire- this time, it was jeans and a t-shirt paired with a black raincoat.

“Hello, Jules.” Walter greeted her. Leave it to the murder witch to use everyone’s favorite new nickname for Julian. “You look like you could use a ride.”

Julian’s first instinct was to scream Fuck you, Walter! and run away, shrieking like a lunatic with her arms flailing over her head.

In fact, it really would have been the ideal thing to do. He wouldn’t try to run her over, right? Not if she ran fast enough around a corner.

She couldn’t get her feet to move, though, nor did she know why she even stopped walking in the first place. Oh right, complete and utter horror! And she was alone.

Julian sucked in a breath. She could do this. She had a pocket full of tricks this time, and what was he going to do? Get out of the car? No way.

“I could, but not from the guy that kills little old shop ladies, throws knives at perfectly innocent teenage girls, and runs around being creepy in the woods. I’ll take my chances with the rain.” The statement actually came out without her voice shaking too bad. Julian stuffed her hands in her pockets, fingers curling around a homemade mixture of rose oil and pepper spray. Good for vampires and evil witches.

“I’m not ready for a wizard’s duel either, so don’t get any ideas.”

“I haven’t killed anyone who didn’t deserve it,” he said, darkly. He put on the brakes and let the car idle. “Now, I think we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. I helped that lad of yours, after all; doesn’t that count for something?”

The rain was coming down harder now. Julian was going to be soaked.

“Get in the car. Text one of your boytoys if you want, I don’t care. I’m not interested in making any trouble here.”

“Even if I DID believe they deserved it, you still threw a knife at me! And let me think, oh right, you also said I’d be better off dead than hanging around vampires. So that sure doesn’t make getting in to a car with you sound like a great idea.” He almost sounded offended, which had Julian staring at him with a bewildered wide-eyed blink.

She swiped her jacket sleeve over her face to wipe away drops of water, and pushed her hair back behind her ears. This was crazy. She was actually going to stand here arguing with him.

When else can I do it without someone getting stabbed?

“Thank you for Leo.” she said, clearly uncomfortable with saying it, but digging up her courage. “What ARE you interested in? Why are you always everywhere, popping out like an asshole!” She eye him carefully.

“Maybe if you tell me and promise not to kill me in the process, I’ll get in the car.”

“According to someone I know, I’m interested in being a dick,” he deadpanned in a dry voice.

After a moment, he sighed impatiently.

“I’m interested in you. You, and every other key player in Silent Pines. Don’t think I don’t know who your family was, little psychic.” He eyed her up and down. “This is my town. What can I say? You’re my responsibility. I don’t want to kill you. It’s just that your taste in company is deplorable. How was I to know your vampires were neutered?”

She went crimson at the dick comment. He wasn’t going to forget that was he? It’s not like she had time to plan something more clever! And then instantly that flash of color was gone. He knew she was a psychic. He knew all about her.

There’s not really a lot left to lose now is there?

The struggle of indecision was written all over her features. He was way too casual about thinking it was OKAY to just kill people. But she didn’t want to keep running in to him all the time, be terrified, and otherwise be completely clueless about what was going on anymore. Especially now that there was this big family mystery of Michael’s to dig around in.

Walter thought she was his responsibility. What if Walter could be helpful?

Huffing, and not looking happy AT ALL with her decision, Julian stomped through the rain to circle around to the passenger’s side. She flung the door open and dropped heavily in to the seat before slamming the door shut again. It probably seemed like the classic teenager temper tantrum.

“First of all, don’t say neutered. That’s AWFUL.” How awful was punctuated with the way she was gesticulating with her hands. “And second, you don’t get to be all judgey about vampire things when you’re using death magic and killing people. …and how can you even say this is your town, are you even born here?” she asked, stopping in her rambling to finally take a look around the insides of his car with the very obvious expression that she still wasn’t sure this was a good idea.

The inside of the car was… cozy. It had one of those plush interiors, the kind that must have been a nightmare to vacuum or get stains out of, but it was clearly cared-for. There was a pack of hard mints and a handful of change sitting in one of the cup holders. A plastic British flag and a furry rabbit’s foot dangled down from the ignition. The whole thing smelled faintly of smoke- but not cigarette smoke. Wood smoke.

“I was born here.” He waited until she was buckled in and then peeled away from the curb, kicking up the quickly-pooling rainwater in his wake. “We’ve actually met, a very long time ago. You wouldn’t remember. I didn’t.”

He glanced over at her.

“I say it’s my town because it damn well is.” Matter-of-fact, that was his tone. “And do you even know what death magic is, little girl?”

They met before? As if things weren’t creepy enough. Julian shifted uncomfortably, using her sleeve to wipe her face again and poking the bag of mints to slightly shift the bag and see what kind they were. Everything was awfully normal for a murder witch.

“I don’t know much about anything right now.” she admitted. Julian tilted her head back, squinting at him. “I’m a quick study though. So what is death magic? You kill someone to make a spell work? Or necromancy? When did we meet? WHY is this your town? What did that shop lady do to deserve getting killed?” she questioned, and there were a LOT of them. Those were just the first few she could think of.

The fear was still there in the back of her mind, and she was annoyingly aware of the small space. Julian pulled out her phone and swiped to her contacts, her thumb hovered over two names. There was Michael and there was Leo. Would it even be a good idea to tell either of them that she was in a car with Walter?

“…you also owe me an apology for scaring the hell out of me, insinuating I’m a whore and throwing a knife at me.” she muttered under her breath.

He heard her anyway.

“Ah-ah. I insinuated that’s what your friend wanted you to be. That was before it turned out you have the both of them pussy-whipped. My apologies.” Walter snorted. “As for the rest, grow up. All I really did was scare you.”

The mints were spearmint. The kind with actual mint in them, even.

“I’ll answer your questions if you answer mine,” he told her. “That seems fair. But I tell you what, I’ll give you one for free. Death magic is a broad, broad term. It can mean any kind of spellwork involving the dead. In my case, it’s not too different from what you do, Jules. Divination.”

Julian crossed her arms, tapping her fingers against her phone, and was probably well on her way to being surly. …until he mentioned divination. That piqued her interest, and she did a very poor job of hiding it. Her mouth twist to the side as she chewed in to her lip.

“Divination involving the dead. Like talking to their ghosts? Or… pulling memories out of dead bodies?” Julian kind of hoped that one wasn’t it, because that had her skin crawling. She turned in her seat towards him so she could actually get a good look at him. This entire situation was nothing like she expected.

“Okay, questions for questions. If you promise not to do anything evil to me or my friends.” That sounded like a fair enough deal to her. Julian wasn’t so sure she would trust him anyway, but it would be a lot better than being afraid of him.

“No no, you answer my question first. And alright, I promise not to do anything ‘evil’,” he added, rolling his eyes. “Goddamn, sweetheart, you’ve got to stop being so dramatic. Now. Your boyfriends. Those would be Michael Hightower and Leo Lanier. The very same as the ones who went missing a hundred years ago or so?”

There was something fishy about his tone, like he already knew the answer. So why was he wasting a question?

Julian briefly looked offended. She was not being dramatic. Her concerns about him being an evil maniac were perfectly legitimate. If anything, he was the one that liked making a big scene out of things. She also almost interjected that only one of them was her boyfriend, but that was clearly just going to be impossible to escape from.

“Yes. Michael and Leo. It’s kind of a complicated story, though…” she answered slowly. Even she only knew the bits and pieces, and Julian wasn’t so sure if she should be sharing that now, especially since- well. She wasn’t sure. Julian narrowed her eyes at him. “That’s an awfully long ways back in time to be worrying about in the here and now, Walter.”

“Is that a question?” he returned.

When she didn’t immediately answer, he smiled at her and raised an eyebrow.

“I’ll go back to your previous question, then. I can do both of those things. Ghosts, memories. As can you. You’re just wireless rather than having to use a land line, so to speak.” He drummed his fingers on the wheel. “Take a mint if you want one. They’re not poison.”

Julian would hope he didn’t have a bag of poison mints just sitting in his car waiting for everyday use. She glanced down at the bag again, chewing in to her lip. He wasn’t going to kill her. At least not tonight. And so because she hadn’t eaten since breakfast, she caved in to temptation. Julian rest her phone on her knees and snatched up the bag.

“That lady in the shop then. Did you kill her for divination and did she really deserve it AND what did you find out?” She was hoping because it was all in one sentence it would count as one question. There might have even been the slightest devious glint to her expression when she popped a mint in to her mouth.

“It’s my turn to ask a question,” Walter reminded her. “What do you know about your family history?”

He reached over to swipe a mint.

Julian tensed when he reached over, her phone almost slipped off her knee and she had to catch it. She let out a small breath, feeling a little stupid about jumping and hoping he hadn’t noticed.

“I know psychic stuff runs in my family, but only because Leo and Michael told me.” she paused, looking confused for a moment and turning her phone in her hands. “…I think I knew before that though, but I don’t really remember how? Or why I forgot? It’s not really the kind of thing you forget.” Julian just went ahead and stole a whole handful of mints before she replaced the bag back where it belonged.

“It’s like you went to a party and you remember it one way, but then you see pictures of it and moments you hadn’t remembered and then slowly all the missing bits start coming back to you. Kind of. If that makes any sense. My friends say I’ve always been weird, but I never really noticed until it was pointed out and I started trying stuff.”

“Hm.” It took a minute before he continued the conversation. Julian could hear gears turning inside his head.

“I didn’t kill Claudia,” he told her. “Shame on you, jumping to conclusions. The spell was to figure out who the fuck was making a bloody mess in my partner’s shop. And I found out that it was, in fact, a new witch in town. One with a werewolf boyfriend, one who was up to quite a bit of trouble as it turns out. So, what led you to chasing down Tasha in the middle of the night?”


That put a completely different spin on Walter. Granted, he still thought it was okay to scare the shit out of her and who knows what else, but that definitely made things very different. Now she was trying to put everything in to this new context. A mint from her handful of confiscated candy was slowly placed on her tongue while she mulled it over.

“She was their friend, Michael and Leo’s. The whole reason I met them in the first place was because Michael wanted to find her. Because they thought she might be in trouble? …except it turned out she wasn’t their friend at all and was totally batshit crazy. I wasn’t even looking for her that night. There were just a bunch of ghosts in my house, and then with Michael and Leo being all eclipse-drunk, and werewolves and everything else it all got convoluted and mixed up.”

“I thought it would be you.” she confessed, turning in her seat again to blink at him. “Maybe you should rethink the way you interact with teenage girls around here. It’s kind of easy to jump to conclusions when you’re scared of someone and you have visions and you KNOW they’re lurking around out there in the dark.”

“Still. Don’t you feel silly. Granted, I also leapt to conclusions about you and your boytoy. Leo, was it? I was sure back there in the shop that you were his pet witch, rather than him being your pet vampire. Kudos, by the way. You’ve done an excellent job wrapping the two of them around your little finger.”

There was a moment of silence, broken only by the raindrops pelting the car and the rhythmic swishing of the windshield wipers.

“Did you have any more questions for me, then?” he asked at length, taking the next right. They were headed out of downtown Silent Pines and into the older neighborhoods now. Shops and eateries faded away in favor of grand old houses- sprinkled in between more modern additions.

“They aren’t my pets, they’re my friends, and I definitely don’t have them wrapped around my fingers.” Maybe she had Michael, since he WAS her boyfriend and good boyfriends liked happy girlfriends. But definitely not Leo. Leo liked being difficult on purpose and the few times he actually listened to her it was because she was shouting at him.

Julian did have more questions. A LOT of them. She fell quiet, thinking carefully about which she wanted right now and which could wait.

“Why is this your town? You’re not exactly the mayor or anything like that. What makes you responsible for me and everybody else? Have you decided you’re the witchy Overlord of Silent Pines?” she asked. He said he knew who all the key players in Silent Pines were. That was a pretty big deal.

“You really have no idea. I would have thought someone you know would have told you.”

Fishing inside his shirt collar, Walter pulled out a pendant. It was made of indeterminate metal that had been painted over with black. Beneath the paint, Julian could see the faint impression of a sigil. She couldn’t quite make out what it was.

“This used to be much prettier,” Walter drawled. He wiggled the pendant between his fingers. “But it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it only matters what it is. And what it is… is power. Power that was passed to me by the rightful owner of this little charm. I’m the heir to a very long legacy, Jules, much like you. It’s my job to make sure everything keeps in order around here. So yes, I’m your witchy Overlord. You and every witch in town. All I have to do is show them this and they all fall in line.”

“That’s kind of cool. …and kind of scary.” she admitted. And then wondered WHY because she didn’t want Walter thinking she had any sort of interest in him and his crazy witch empire. She didn’t. …okay, that was a lie. This was all sorts of interesting, and without the fear that he would stab her full of holes, Walter with his Divination and his witch network was now within her circle of reach.

“You’re not my witchy Overlord. But you can be my friend. Making sure things don’t turn in to utter chaos is something I’m good at. …Or I was before I found out almost everyone I knew was a little weird.”

She paused to squint at him. “Unless there is something I don’t know about this mysterious moment we met before? Cause I sure don’t remember giving allegiance to a witch Overlord.”

“Your questions are up.” Her house was in view now. He hadn’t even asked for directions, but he was rolling to a stop at the bottom of the drive. “Next time I see you… You owe me a favor.”

Julian didn’t realize she forgot to give directions until she saw her house. That was an eerie, skin crawling feeling. He really, really wasn’t lying about knowing all about her.

She frowned a him. Julian already suspected she owed him a favor, but she didn’t want this conversation to end so soon. Especially since she hadn’t even scratched the surface on things she needed to know.

A favor. And it better not be anything weird.” she warned. Just because she owed him one didn’t mean she’d do anything.

Julian pushed the car door open and climbed out. She almost shut it when she realized she let her phone drop to the car floor. While reaching in to snatch it back, she also stole his bag of mints. Walter received the cheekiest grin and a Bye Walter! before she slammed the door on him.

Now she was going to have to explain to her vampire boyfriends that Walter was her new friend.

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