Gage peered through the tangle of wires and boxes from above, watching as the red and purple spotlights moved across the half naked bodies writhing and grinding in the otherwise dim light on the cheap black linoleum floor.
Dancing, he harrumphed, one side of his mouth lifting up humorlessly. Just a scrap of fabric was keeping most of them from fucking right there. He had to correct himself mentally, that wasn’t fabric. That was plastic, leather at best. All of it held together with industrial sized zippers or metal hoops and chains, the same sort that pieced the skin of the bodies below.
Though he appreciated their enthusiasm for the pain that came with the puncturing of skin, along with the endless hours spent beneath the fine point of a needle to imbed that ink under their skin, he couldn’t actually see the appeal. Why bother marring your body in such a permanent way when the body itself was so temporary? It wasn’t like those embellishments would carry over to the afterlife.
He would know.
Pity though that the club’s security, hiding in plain view amongst the crowd, knew what was doing and did well to keep the bump and grind routine from turning into full out penetration. Just such an action would make his boss very happy. Public sex acts, voyeurism. God in all His righteous indignation may have turned a blind eye to certain acts of debauchery in this modern age, but these were not monogamous- if not committed- relationships He made that acceptation for. These were mortals with so little ethics that they would take another in full view of others, uncaring what eyes, or hands even, would join in the fun. No, He wouldn’t take them into His kingdom.
Just like the pathetic man currently whimpering from his perch about ten feet behind where Gage stood. When his life was over, it was over. No bright lights and pearly gates for him like he had been taught to believe.
His like were common, petty thugs, all words no actions, lots of smaller sins on their souls that would guarantee them a trip “downstairs”, disposable mortals really unless they had information to barter. And though this one did have the information Gage needed, there was nothing he was willing to give the man in return, not even his life.
He just didn’t know that yet.
“Point him out,” Gage’s rough voice rumbled from him, his low tone making it to the man’s ears despite the heavy thrumming of music.
It was a blend of trance and house music that was to be expected of a night club of this caliber, just as much as the X and meth that was being passed around to no concern of those same security guards. Of course not, because the same person cutting their paychecks was cutting the drugs as well.
One would think with the amount of money the owner was making off his tax free endeavors he could afford something other than the drums of black paint used to decorate the place. But no, everything was black, from the bar tops and stools tucked neatly into the alcove beneath the VIP section, to the vinyl booths and laminate tables in front of them lining the wall opposite. Anything that could have been met with human hands was thick with years of layers, the cinderblock walls, the hand rails, the metal pipes acting as the divider between dance floor and lounge area.
Even the majority of the lights were “black” lights, lending an eerie purple glow to the corners that were otherwise untouched from the rotating spotlights. Highlighting the acts, both legal and not, with an alien quality in the most secluded of areas.
Only the patrons in their day glow and barely there…costumes- because calling those clothes would really be an insult to all those fine retailers around the world- imparted any variations to the otherwise dark scheme.
But, that was most likely the idea now wasn’t it?
“H-h-he’s over there,” the man jutted his chin out as he clung to his support, “the one in the middle of the table.”
Gage closed his eyes and pulled a frustrated breath through his nose as he gripped the steel support beside him with lethal force. He knew the exact moment when he had lost all patience for the human, when he had literally scared the piss out of him at their meeting. But, he was the one who had the information he needed. So for a few more unfortunate moments he would have to suffer his company.
“Where’s Vaughn,” Gage had asked the man when he found him earlier, leaning against the doorframe of some rundown apartment building only a few miles from here.
He knew the answer was never going to be that easy because of Rodney’s stereotypical tough guy façade. Humans and their bravado, their drive to be defiant, to act against any kind of authority meant it was never that easy. Gage smiled at that thought, how quickly he had proved it to be just that, a façade, an act. Rodney could have claimed it was out of loyalty to the man who employed him and as such refuse to talk against him. Or even that it was greed that kept his lips sealed because information had a price. And if he put up a fight it would put a higher price tag on the information, making it seem more pertinent.
But it was neither of those reasons he wouldn’t speak against Vaughn. No it was the same motivation Gage would be forced to use on him to get him to speak.
Rodney knew Vaughn would kill him if he spoke against the man, and valuing his sorry excuse for a “life” was the only reason he wouldn’t give him up.
Or so he thought. Gage wasn’t going to leave that rundown stretch of town or its horrid stench of dirty humans and excrement until Rodney told him where Vaughn was.
Or he killed him, whichever came first. But the problem with that most tempting of ideas was that it meant Gage would have to start from scratch again, and he was growing horridly bored on this earth as it was.
“Who’s askin’?” Rodney had jutted his chin out then too, but that time it was in defiance rather than fear.
“I’m asking,” Gage had responded flatly, tired of the same old song and dance.
“Well I don’t know you so I ain’t tellin’.”
Gage raised a dark eyebrow, “But you do know where he is?”
Rodney pressed his lips into a fine line and cursed.
Well that was step one.
Step two was to see if he was speaking the truth.
“I need to see him right away, it’s…it’s a matter of life and death.”
What’s the use in lying when the truth sounded so much better?
The man had snorted, “Yeah sure buddy, and I’m David fucking Beckham.”
Hardly, Gage had thought to himself. He’d be surprised if the overweight man could run a mile never mind last an entire football game. And his looks, well, the only way women would fall at his feet was if he knocked them out, which he wasn’t putting it past him to do.
“I assure you I am not lying. His death is imminent.”
Again, not exactly a lie, Vaughn would die one way or another.
The thug eyed Gage, taking in his clothes, his looks, “you don’t look like one of his usual…business partners.”
And Gage was well aware of that. After spending a few weeks in the gutter tracking various other associates of Vaughn, trying to find the one who would break the easiest, he became very aware he wasn’t like the rest of the slim ball crew he surrounded himself with.
“And what do I look like to you?”
It was a matter of curiosity really. Gage put quite a bit of effort into trying to blend in with human society, and though he could dress the part, he knew he stood out amongst the crowd for one reason.
It was a warning that no one ever heeded, what the world saw on the outside was a mirror of what he was inside. The hard lines of his perfectly sculpted face, the ridges of muscles that looked as if they were created not formed of his body were reminiscent of his more righteous cousins. Inspiration for hundreds of hard, lifeless marble sculptures that stood in museums and private collections to be ogled. His ice blue eyes were an echo of his heart, frozen and cold. And his hair, worn long in the fashion of the Roman times he had been born to, not quite enough to tie back, but enough to hide behind. It was black, just like Gage’s soul.
Again Rodney huffed, his eyes dropping to the street as he scuffed a shoe idly along the ground, “a fucking movie star. And last I heard Vaughn wasn’t doing business with movie stars. That’s Jimmy’s bag.”
Jimmy huh? Looked like Gage was going to stick around on earth a little longer than he had planned, two was better than one after all. This time though Rodney made no sign that he slipped up again. The words leaving his mouth without thought. Seemed he had been the perfect choice in lackeys after all.
But he could get the rest of that info later, “Are you going to tell me where Vaughn is so I can pass the message on, or shall we continue to stand here and compare nail polish?”
Rodney shot his narrowed eyes at Gage, his hand moving to the weapon he obviously had tucked in the waist of his too low pants, “You packin?”
Gage sighed and pulled open the leather jacket hanging on his broad shoulders with both hands, showing the man he indeed was not “packin”.
“Turn around,” the thug ordered.
Gage raised his eyebrows but obeyed, there was no way for this man to know that a gun or a switchblade was the least of his worries right now. He lifted the back of his jacket up as well to show there were no concealed weapons there either to placate the man. He wasn’t afraid of being shot in the back. Rodney may carry his own gun but he was too big of a coward to use it, Gage was willing to bet he had never shot a single round off himself. This might lead one to think that there was at least one redeeming quality to him as he wouldn’t willingly shoot another man, but the drugs that he peddled did far worse for people than any one bullet could. He robbed them of their lives, of their will power, no, his weapon of choice was far worse than a gun.
He heard the man approach him tentatively, and without being asked he held his arms out, knowing the thug was going to pat him down. It was all an expected part of the show.
The man did the touch and squeeze routine along Gage’s arms and torso, pulling the tails of his black silk shirt from his jeans before moving along. Having found nothing of concern there he crouched and began repeating the movement with Gage’s legs, even pulling the cuff of his jeans up so he could inspect the contents of his boots. Which, of course, was nothing more than Gage’s bare feet.
“Watch it sweetheart,” Gage drawled when the thug slid his hands up his inner thigh, “any closer and I’ll have to insist you buy me dinner.”
When the man was convinced Gage was weapon free he stepped back, pulling a cell phone out of his pocket.
Ah, now there was a weapon of great power.
“And what do you think you’re doing?” Gage asked as he turned around.
“Calling Vaughn,” the thug answered without looking at him, “let him know what’s up.”
That was most definitely not part of the plan and Gage kicked himself for not thinking Rodney would take such an action.
“He won’t believe you,” Gage spoke quickly, easily hearing the rings on the other end of the phone line, knowing he had only moments before-
“Vaughn,” a terse voice picked up.
He had no choice at that point. He ripped the phone from the thug’s hand and smashed it under his boot as he grabbed Rodney by the throat, cutting off both sound and air.
Now Vaughn knew something was up, knew someone was coming for him.
In that one moment this useless fucking mortal just took the job from a quick easy kill to a complicated mess. And Gage hated messes, he was a very neat…man…of sorts.
Gage peeled his hand off the beam and ran his eyes over the trembling man behind him. At least so far tonight the only mess had been in Rodney’s shorts.
But that would change shortly.
He walked casually back over to the steel support beam he had dropped the man on, grabbing him by the back of the neck and squeezing hard, “I said point him out, with your finger,” Gage growled in the man’s ear, “I want to know exactly who Vaughn is.”
“Bu-but if I let go,” the man’s petrified eyes shot to the floor a good thirty feet below them, “I might fall…and die.”
“But if you don’t let go and point to Vaughn I will snap your neck here and now and just take them all out.”
It’d be quicker, but that was the reason why his boss had sent Gage and not another. He was discrete. He wasn’t like the other killers kept at the ready; he wouldn’t plow them all down leaving someone else to sort souls. He did his research, found the source of the problem and took them and them alone down. Unless of course someone was stupid enough to get in his way, then that was another matter all together.
The thug gripped the beam and nodded shortly, slowly brining one of his hands out in front of him as he checked his balance, “him, in the black suit,” he pointed, “with the two chicks in the booth.”
Gage’s eyes followed the path Rodney’s extended finger offered him, sized the target up, and turned back to his internee, “You’re not lying to me now are you?”
The man shook his head in a quick jerky movement, “n-n-no, that’s him, that’s Vaughn.”
Gage released the man with a shove, watching as he frantically scrambled for his balance again before he turned his back, both literally and figuratively, on Rodney, “good.”
“Wait!” the man shouted after Gage as he began moving swiftly across the steel support beams hung from the nightclub’s ceiling, “aren’t you going to help me down?”
“Nope,” Gage shouted over his shoulder, “figure it out for yourself.”
And if he couldn’t figure his way back to the rooftop hatch they had used to get in, if the man did fall to his death after unsuccessfully navigating the I-beams crisscrossing the dance floor as Gage was expecting, then so be it. He didn’t need him anymore.
He tuned out the man’s whimpering as he came to a stop over Vaughn’s booth, cocking his head to the side as he worked out the best course of action.
The nightclub really had proved to be the best possible place for Gage to finally take Vaughn down. Like the thugs pleas for help, the heavy bass and electronic melodies insured sound wouldn’t carry. And the near blackness in between the strobe light’s beams mixed with the white clouds of smoke drifting from various sources meant that sight wasn’t going to be any clearer for the other mortals here tonight. No one would know what happened until it was over, until the bodies hit the floor.
Looking down upon the men below him, Gage could tell there was an awareness to the group of body guards surrounding Vaughn. Most kept causal stances, some standing, some sitting, but their eyes were constantly shifting, looking about, watching for danger to come up from the dance floor below. The so called VIP area was empty save for them, most likely having been cleared out by Vaughn’s personal group of meat themselves, leaving the bank of booths running along the wall vacant. Save for the one Vaughn was occupying with a couple of…yes, a couple of the pink plastic clad girls probably wooed up here with the promise of a good time. A free good time of course.
Though truly the fat fuck took up most of the space, the two girls looking positively anorexic as they fawned over Vaughn, cooing their drug induced affection for him which he was most definitely taking advantage of. After all, what woman in their right mind would let an unappealing man such as Vaughn manhandle them, they could most certainly do better than him given the right opportunity. An opportunity Gage was considering giving them, once they sobered up though. The artificial affection did nothing for him.
Shifting his gaze back to the real threat Gage noticed the distinct difference between the t-shirted and muscle strapped group keeping things PG-13 in the main area and the group of men dispersed around this elevated corner. Compared to the nearly naked patrons, they were in suits fit for a board room, each with conspicuous bulges on chests and below arm pits. They were professionals for sure, more militia then bouncer compared to the rest of the security. But no matter how well trained they were there was one mistake they all failed to make.
Not a single one of them looked up.
Gage stepped across one more beam with an eager grin, situating himself directly above the table Vaughn was lounged behind. He turned his body so his back was to the open room behind him, finding a clear path though the usual ceiling clutter, then he stepped off. Falling to the ground like a bullet.
He landed in a crouch, the table letting out a thundering crack as his full weight settled atop it. It stayed upright, which was more than Gage was expecting really, though the jostling left drinks spilling all over the screaming women now clinging to Vaughn. Good news for them was even their clothes were water proof.
As expected he heard the clicks of the guns that were quickly trained on him, but he didn’t fear them anymore than the one Rodney has possessed despite the accuracy he knew these men very well shot with. Instead he rose slowly, shooting Vaughn a cunning grin.
“Who the fuck are you?” Vaughn demanded, his eyes narrowed into slits.
“Doesn’t matter,” Gage continued to smile as he shook his head.
“The hell it does!”
“Funny you should mention hell…” Gage mused as he pulled off his coat, tossing it at one of the stunned woman still clinging to Vaughn, “wanna hold that for me sweetie?” he winked at her.
And she obeyed, the women always obeyed, with a smile no less.
Vaughn eyed his “date” for a moment, not understanding the enthrallment, before bringing his heated gaze back to Gage who was towering above him, “I’ll give you to the count of three and you either tell me who you are or you get the fuck out of here, because after that-”
“Hold it,” Gage said as he held up a finger, “save the bargaining for the next guy, I’m only here for one thing.”
“And what’s that?” Vaughn asked suspiciously.
“You of course,” Gage stated lightly as he began undoing the cuffs on his shirt.
The sounds of safety’s being clicked off met Gage’s ears and amusement once again crossed his face, “guys, please,” he tossed casually over his shoulder, “I haven’t even done anything yet.”
“Yet,” Vaughn spat through clenched teeth. He attempted to rise, to push the table out from in front of him but Gage’s deceiving weight held the furniture firmly in place.
For shits and giggles he got on one of those scales outside a supermarket once, and after putting in his two quarters and stepping on it the thing promptly zoomed through its digital numbers till it read error and spat out an entire roll of blank white paper. Stepping off and looking the thing over Gage found in tiny little print “weight limit 500 pounds”. He knew human males of his size didn’t weigh nearly that much, which did leave him curious though he shrugged it off to the fact that he was, by far, not human. But he also knew it took much more muscle mass on those same humans to be able to move even that computerized scales weight limit. And though Vaughn did have some size on him, his weight was more a product of indulgent living then any sort of physical training. To him Gage was the immovable object. The rock and the hard place as it were. And upon realizing he wasn’t going anywhere Vaughn reached under the table for his own weapon, quickly drawing the gun and aiming it Gage.
But Gage was faster. Without even looking up from unbuttoning his shirt he stepped on Vaughn’s arm, crushing bone and causing the man to drop the gun.
“Would you give me a second,” Gage clucked his tongue, watching as Vaughn’s face grew redder and redder tying to hold in his pain, “I just got this shirt.”
“Who the hell do you think you are, coming in here, threatening me-”
“Threatened you, who threatened you?” Gage laughed, pulling the fabric from his arms and tossing it at the woman on the other side of Vaughn who, like her counterpart, was more than glad to play coat hanger for him, “I just dropped in.”
He looked over his shoulder, feeling the air behind him stir a second before he was ripped from the table and dragged to the floor. Instantly Vaughn shot up, toppling the table and leaving the two women to fight over Gage’s shirt as if he was a rock star god and they groupies. Because the shirt had touched his skin, the coat hadn’t.
Still Gage didn’t lose his cool, letting the men pull his arms behind his back, letting them think they were truly restraining him.
Vaughn managed to find another weapon and was once again standing before Gage, the barrel tucked under his chin.
Seemed the prick was ambidextrous, well good for him.
“Who the fuck are you?” Vaughn demanded.
“I already told you, that doesn’t matter,” Gage answered unperturbed.
Vaughn nodded to the men behind Gage and they began searching through his pockets. And though Gage usually kept a few bills on him for the usual, he knew when he set out for the night that where he was going wouldn’t require any money. So the money clip stayed at home and they would come up empty handed. He didn’t have any ID or credit cards, those along with the wallet that held them were all the possessions of a human, of a mortal.
And Gage was neither.
“Nothing boss,” one of the men shook his head.
Vaughn narrowed his eyes and pulled the safety back on the gun, pressing it deeper into Gage’s jaw, “who do you work for?”
“I was hoping you would ask me that.” Gage grinned.
“So then why don’t you just make both our days and tell us all who we need to fuck up for sending you out here.”
“I’d love too,” Gage said sincerely, “but showing you would be so much better.”
Before Vaughn’s ignorant mind could process the answer Gage called on his strength, rearing back and throwing the men behind him to the floor, scattering them like bowling pins. He smiled, lifting an eyebrow at Vaughn before reaching up and pulling a sword from the air, from a flash of brilliant blue flame called by Gage himself into life. Truly, it was much more effective then pockets.
Vaughn stumbled backwards and fell to the floor as Gage gripped the hilt of his most prized possession, a sword forged from hellfire itself. He inspected the blade, its tip pointed behind him, its length running along his forearm.
His lips curled as he looked beyond it to Vaughn, “she’s a beauty isn’t she?”
The man met his eyes for just a brief moment before they landed back on the sword.
“Oh, and that’s not even the best part,” Gage smiled.
He closed his eyes and pulled a deep breath through his nose, throwing his arms out to either side of him, clenching his teeth as his felt the muscles in his back pull. With a roar that rivaled the bass of the music with its depth his body began transforming, bones protruding where there were none before, forcing his skin to stretch out from behind him to cover them and the new muscle forming beneath the thin layer. It was as if his flesh were unfolding, becoming almost transparent before tiny black specks began appearing over the empty space. But it wasn’t hair that grew to coat his new skin, but feathers.
As Vaughn could only stare in awe, or maybe horror, they grew like a time lapsed movie until there was no flesh to be seen. From his shoulder blades to the tips of his wings the deep ebony plumes grew and covered his skin, feathers that represented the sins of Gage’s immortal life.
Only the tips of his wings still held the chocolate colored feathers he had been created with. But like his blood, it was only a matter of time before they too turned black, before he became wholly evil.
Gage reveled in them, loved the way their weight felt on his back, needing the barest of seconds to alter his balance for them. Now this was as he was truly meant to be.
Some of the guards scrambled away as Gage stretched out his extra appendages like a man would his arms after a long slumber. With a few typical pops he extended them out to their nearly twenty foot span. It was impressive even to other immortals so he wasn’t surprised as the other men stared in disbelief, but one looked in awe, dropping to his knees beside Gage and offering his weapon to him in his palms over his head.
“My lord,” the man addressed the floor, “I meant no offense.”
There’s always one, Gage thought, always one who had heard the rumors and had the sense to believe them.
He nodded to the man appreciatively, “rise mortal, you I will spare.”
“Spare?” Vaughn asked in disbelief from the floor, looking between Gage and the man, Gage’s wings, back to Gage, the sword that was glowing blue in the dim light, back to Gage, “and who aren’t you going to spare,” he sneered.
“Really,” Gage asked in mock disbelief, “you haven’t figured out you’re the one getting called back?”
He shook his head, pulling his wings in closer to his body as he stepped over to the man cowering on the floor, “the boss has had enough Vaughn. You can kill any of the SOB’s you want and he couldn’t give a shit. But when you sent your good old boys out to the ‘burbs, started peddling your shit to those yuppie kids, that’s when you fucked up.”
Realization dawned on Vaughn’s face and he paled, but it was only momentary. Resolve transformed his features as if he thought words would actually get him out of this, “They knew what they were getting, and paid damn good money for it,” Vaughn shot back in his defense.
“No,” Gage growled and pressed a foot into the man’s chest, “They didn’t know what they were getting. Your thugs told them it was the same high as the shit they raided their parent’s medicine cabinets for, but it wasn’t. It was higher, it was harder, and you know what happened to them when they came down? They died Vaughn, or don’t you read the papers? They crashed so hard their white bread bodies couldn’t handle the stress and they died, seventeen, sixteen, fourteen year old kids dying from heart attacks, all because of your greed.”
Not that greed was bad under the right circumstances. In fact Gage’s boss encouraged it on most days. But even sins have their place and time, and ones that involved the useless souls of otherwise innocent mortals were not it. They weren’t worth the effort; they took far too long to break.
Vaughn’s gasp suggested that the man had finally caught up with the situation, “God doesn’t kill, and He doesn’t send His angels to kill.”
One corner of Gage’s mouth turned up and he pushed off of Vaughn, taking a step back so he wasn’t in splatter range, “who says I’m an angel?”
“Bu-but, your wings…” Vaughn’s eyes shot behind Gage.
He tossed his sword up in the air causally and readjusted his grip on it, holding it upright, the tip now pressing into the flesh at Vaughn’s throat, “Ah, but God isn’t the only one who can grant wings.”