[ Sky – Master Post ]
Characters: Severen, Arkady, Baron, Betty, Lir
Warnings: Severen’s mouth
Notes: This is a love story. No, seriously. The line at the end is nicked whole-cloth from Planescape: Torment. I love that line, and so does Sev, although I think his answer may be a little unprecedented.
It happened in Pennsylvania, which really wasn’t all that unexpected. Pennsylvania tended to have that effect on Severen. But, that wasn’t really the reason or the point. The point was that, once again, it was Sin’s birthday, and he was on tour. He was never home when Sin would be the happiest to see him. Every year, he missed out on giving Sin what he really wanted, and this one would be no different.
"Have I mentioned how much I hate Pittsburgh?"
"Yeah, Sev. It’s why we’re playing Philly, this time," Arkady reminded him, from under an open issue of Hellblazer.
"Oh, seriously? We are?" Severen looked around, blankly, and then settled his head between his knees, glaring at the floor. "Fucking Pennsylvania."
"Give him a break, Arkady. It’s his boyfriend’s birthday," Betty pointed out, and Severen wished she hadn’t.
Arkady squinted at her, over the top of the comic. "How do you even know that?"
"I’m a fan." She shrugged.
"That is absurd. I’m not justifying it with a response." Arkady went back to his comic.
"Some days, I think Sin’s got more fans than I do," Severen snorted. "Especially after that spread in Propaganda."
"You looked really good there, Sev. I think you looked better than Arkady." Betty raised her voice, very slightly, and grinned.
Two voices rang out at the same time. "Bullshit," Severen insisted. "Now, you’re just talking out your ass," Arkady seconded.
"Still," she continued, "neither of you looked like Sin. I can’t believe you get to go home to that, Sev. I’m so jealous."
"Leave the band, and you can have him while we’re on tour. He’s like that," Severen snapped, suddenly twice as irritated that he wasn’t at home, enjoying what was supposed to be the most important day of his year.
The conversation stopped cold. They’d been playing together since the early 80s, and this was the first time Severen had mentioned that. There were rumours, but none of the band had ever given them any mind. Sin and Severen were nauseatingly in love. They always had been.
"Hey," Severen said, after a long and weighty pause, "do we know anyone in Philly? I need the name of a good tattoo artist. Somebody who’s willing to get woken up at this unholy fucking hour to do some good work."
Arkady put down the comic, and Lir looked down from the top bunk, where he’d been failing to sleep.
"Are you serious?" Arkady asked.
"You haven’t got a mark on you," Lir pointed out, stating the slightly less than obvious.
"You’re going to do something romantic, aren’t you." Betty just looked smug.
"It’s awfully quiet! You better not be making trajectory calculations, back there, Lir! I’ll be pissed if you start throwing beer cans!" The Baron shouted, from the driver’s seat.
"My hands are empty, Baron. Sev’s trying to talk himself into something stupid," Lir called back.
It took them four hours to find an artist, after they got to the hotel, and another two to find one who was good enough to do what Severen wanted. Arkady objected, repeatedly, to the proceedings, pointing out that Severen was supposed to be on stage, that night, and didn’t really have time to sleep off the dull burn.
"Of course I’m supposed to be on stage, tonight," Severen pointed out, "I wouldn’t be in such a rush if I had until tomorrow. Can you please stop talking? I’m trying to sleep through this."
"Lir, he’s trying to sleep through a tattoo. A detailed tattoo of medium size." Arkady pointed at Severen and looked over his shoulder at where Lir sat, glancing through a branding artist’s portfolio.
Lir shrugged. "If he can sleep through it, let him. He’s gonna need to be awake, tonight. I’d be more worried if he was trying to sleep through something like this." He tapped the photo he was looking at — a girl with feathered wings freshly burned into her skin.
Arkady turned slightly grey, and wandered off in search of a soda, as Betty walked up to gnaw on Lir’s head, while she read over his shoulder. Baron napped on the fake-leather couch in the front of the shop.
It was too early for this. There wasn’t a shop in town that was open before noon, but the way Severen threw money around, when he was buying for Sin, anything could be made to happen. And when Severen opened his wallet that far, all of Viridian Doll stopped and stared. Baron had even offered to find a doctor to validate his mental health. That was the thing about Sev — he didn’t spend money, unless it was necessary, and when it was necessary, he was moderately generous. But, this? This was utter lunacy.
The night was no simpler than the morning. The band arranged themselves in various flavours of elegant dishabille, Severen, as usual, the most elegant and least dishevelled — and also the most significantly intoxicated from the painkillers and lack of sleep. But, about halfway through the show, that changed dramatically. Severen held up a hand to Lir, calling for a pause before the next song.
"I want you all to know that tonight is a very special night," he said, tangling his fingers in his hair as he pushed it back from his face. "I don’t know how many of you saw that issue of Propaganda that we were in — hands, let me see hands. That’s quite a lot of you. Do you remember that man I was with on page sixteen?"
"Sin! Singularity! Sin!" The audience shouted back.
"Well, it’s his birthday tonight, and I’m not there, because I’m here with you."
"Aww!" It was like clockwork. They all made the same sound.
"But, I’m going to show you what I got him. Is anyone carrying a Polaroid? Show your camera to this guy, here." Severen pointed to a very startled-looking bouncer. "I need someone with a Polaroid to take a picture of this, for me. You can take a picture for yourself, too. I just need a print that I can overnight home, tomorrow morning."
He waved a girl with a camera through. "Thank you. What’s your name?"
"Oblivia." She nodded politely and kept a respectable distance.
"Ladies and drag queens, allow me to introduce you to Oblivia, who has both a Polaroid camera and a gloriously Baroque name." He gestured to the photographer. "Now, we’re going to play Sin’s favourite song, and Miss Oblivia, here, is going to take a few pictures. And I want to see you guys singing along. If I can’t go home, you have to celebrate with me."
Lir looked at the Baron, who stared back in absolute confusion. Oblivia took a few steps back and crouched on an amp, to get the best angle.
"The Day is Over," Severen shouted, and Betty just nodded, knowingly, as Arkady started to lay down the rhythm.
"The day is done, the morning’s come, and this all means the game is over…" Severen started, and the crowd fell in with him, belting out lyrics.
In the middle of the third verse, he started to struggle with the buttons on his shirt. "… the world is turning over, it’s turning over, turning over…" he finished, giving up and tearing the black dress-shirt open as Lir’s solo started. He threw his arms out, baring his chest first to the crowd, and then to Oblivia’s camera. ‘What can change the nature of a man?’ the text read, and it circled an anatomically correct image of a heart. The lines were not as clear as they would become, when the swelling finally settled out, but the meaning was clear.
"What can change the nature of a man?" Severen demanded of the crowd, letting his shirt fall to the stage. The audience went howling mad, shrieking and cheering, throwing flowers and brassieres. It was the first time in all the years he’d been performing that he’d ever been shirtless in public. And tomorrow, Sin would have proof.