Verse 14: This Night


Goddammit, Juwo was just entertaining the fucker, now. There was no reason for them to not converse in common, but Samael was so earnest that the old bastard couldn't hide how delighted he was at the chupa eagerly stumbling over his excited attempts at describing everything they'd done to get the party ready using the bats' language. Andee scowled horribly at the chieftain, who stole a look away from Samael to flash Andee a small smirk.

Okay, now he was just rubbing it in.

"And...and oh yes, Andee even did a locate of a bigger loud-box! The cave will stone tonight!"

"It's fuckin' speaker, ya dumb redneck, an' that ain't the right kinda rock," Andee muttered even as he silently allowed himself a taste of pride. Nelson had taken her lessons home with her and spent weeks practicing based on Mutt's instruction. Samael was sounding more like a natural every day, and that was with less than a quarter of only verbal lessons with Andee. He was a stupid inbred prodigy when it came to using his tongue...shock.

Andee gave his own little smirk while watching Samael gesture dynamically to Juwo about the planned musical performance. He wasn't about to give the old bat any credit for what he and Samael had achieved to bring this whole thing together...but he supposed at the very least, Juwo hadn't been wrong about them working together. Not even Tracer had managed to coax such a flagrant violation of Xulod's xenophobic traditions, despite being beloved by the entire city. Andee and Samael had done this themselves and...yeah. The idiot puppy continued to surprise him.

Sometimes in ways he didn't expect.

Samael, the great negotiator, the pacifistic peacemaker, had even joined him at the bar earlier to sling some well-deserved insults at Tex, who'd showed up to the caves at some point. Andee had fully expected Samael to try and broker some sort of calm when he'd come upon Andee trading barbs with her, but...nope. Andee grinned to himself. They'd nearly gotten the shit kicked out of them both, but man, was it ever worth seeing the look on her face, like she couldn't believe their audacity.

...It felt fuckin' good.

Andee let himself drift further away from the conversation as he gazed at the party, now sliding into full-swing. The percussionists had been joined by a bat sporting a wooden pan flute...and none other than Angel herself on a fiddle as she swayed and moved easily to the center of the stage to add a bit more life to the performance. The crowd had started to break into energetic dancing...though their chupa visitors were still clustered over by the bar. Andee almost snorted dismissively before he caught a glimpse of Mutt's burly frame beckoning to Vincent, encouraging the young rebel to follow him into the throng of bats twisting and bouncing rhythmically to the music.

Andee smiled despite himself, letting his hands rest on his hips as Mutt started slow, demonstrating a traditional set of moves to Vincent. As thick-bodied as Mutt was, Andee knew all too well how smooth he could be; even from where he stood, he could see the muscular bat's sinuous motions were a beacon to Vincent's curiosity. Andee watched as Mutt's eyes drank in the chupa's adoring expression, his piercings glinting as he moved his wings in time while shuffling in a tight circle around the tall rebel. Vincent bobbed his head at first, then started to mimic the dance carefully...before breaking into a rapid improvisation that sent a massive grin across Mutt's features as the bats around them stared in surprise, only to start cheering him on. That fuckin' fruitbasket, of course he'd be the first one to brave the strange waters. No wonder Samael liked him.

The festivities burgeoned from there as Juwo excused himself to make a brief speech from the stage -- the music didn't even stop, just tamping down enough for the chieftain to greet his people, thank them for their willingness to open their arms to the surface-dwellers...and of course make special mention of those who had helped organize the whole event. Hundreds of eyes slid over to peer at Samael and Andee, the former preening even as a hint of sheepish humbleness crossed his features, while Andee merely grinned and offered his people a rude gesture -- hey, he figured they expected it by now.

As soon as the chieftain stepped back down, the music swelled and the frenetic dancing continued with gusto. This night was actually going well, and Andee turned to...oh, goddammit. He blinked when he realized Samael had wandered to the lone chupa by the bar -- at this point, even Nelson had been dragged into the writhing mass as Ashley crowed drunkenly and twirled around the scowling rebel leader joyfully. Ugh, of course Wash was the exception, that tight-ass always was a cranky bastard, nothing Andee did was ever good enough for him, he always had some complaint, even when Andee wasn't trying to screw him over! Andee had expected York to be the one to ruin this night, to drag Samael away with his stupid puppy-dog face and the fact they were such good pals, but no. Samael was over there wasting his perfectly good personality on the pissy wallflower.

Not on Andee's watch.

He prowled through the crowd, grumbling and muttering at his fellow bats before finding a spot near the edge of the throng. He glowered at Samael, though apparently the redneck couldn't feel the poisonous stare, and so he huffed and bent down to snatch up a pebble. He squinted at the stocky rebel, concentrating for a moment as Samael offered a hand to a grumpy-looking Wash.

"--do you wanna dan--hey!"

Samael whipped his head around when the tiny rock bounced off the back of his skull, but his features immediately lit up when he saw Andee smirking and gesturing very pointedly with a claw. Yeah. This was his puppy. Andee didn't even hear what he said to Wash, but he didn't care. All that mattered was that Samael remembered who came first.

As Samael trotted eagerly up to him, Andee chuckled and then reached up to grab the waistband of Samael's shorts, yanking him down toward him. "C'mon, Fiffy. You gotta look like a dipshit on the dance floor before ya do it on the stage. Show me what those inbred genetics can do, ya backwoods fucker..."

Samael's grin seemed to outshine the swinging lights above their heads as he curtsied playfully to the bat before winking and then shuffling smoothly into a jaunty box-step with a whoop as Andee laughed despite himself and doggedly matched his energy with the more rhythmic steps of Xulod. They moved not as one, but twin forces of chaos, paired in their joint appreciation of the lively beat despite their wildly different ways of expressing it.

Even as they twisted and spun past one another, gazing at their friends and companions all enjoying themselves, dancing with partners new and old as two opposing cultures mingled at some deep, unspoken level, Andee could feel Samael's whole being locked onto him, every ounce of his attention squarely focused on him. It was everything he wanted from the stupid puppy, the most blissful feeling of...no, it wasn't control, wasn't even some kind of power he wielded over the chupa. It was devotion. But a devotion not to the resistance, not to Sirca, not to any of his friends or lovers. Those blue eyes glowed only for Andee as the duo whipped around with reflected grins, their steps mismatched but their intentions perfectly aligned.

It was the kind of devotion Andee could at last savor, because it was finally directed where it belonged. The thumping mushrooms and the wail of Angel's bow soon faded, leaving Andee with just the thud of his own heart as he and Samael moved closer, their pounding dance taking them into the middle of the vigorous crowd. In this precious moment, that separation he'd forced between them didn't exist. Samael wasn't a rebel, wasn't a suicidal maniac for the cause, no longer a broken student of Raymond Tracer...hell, he wasn't even a goddamn whore. Within this moment, he was Andee's, and Andee's alone...and that was all the bat wanted now, because not even his biggest score felt this good. This was worth throwing out that delineation between their personal and business relationships; it didn't matter, not when Samael's gaze was on him like this, since he knew, in that instant, he could have asked him to walk into Omega's Citadel itself...and the reason wouldn't have made a difference. Samael would simply do it for him.

He never wanted that gaze to end.

Andee lost track of time as they whirled around intensely, sweat soon soaking through their bodies, breaths coming as quickly as they had in that goddamn gay meadow. Andee never thought he'd want to feel the way Samael did, but god, if this was what that stupid damn puppy experienced whenever he bounced his way toward Andee, he was starting to understand that stubborn insistence on chasing after him, no matter the painful retribution. It was like a hit of his favorite substances...and he didn't even have to worry about the hangover.

"Hey, ya short, wing-y bastards!" Andee was torn from the euphoric stupor as he and Samael both stumbled and glanced over and through the dancing crowd, joined by several other curious gazes. "Brought the goods!"

York stood there, one arm around an embarrassed-looking Wash as the other held up a familiar-looking covered platter. An overloaded red wagon was positioned in front of him as well, stacked high with the hors d'oeuvres and moonshine from Samael's shack. The music quieted somewhat and Andee teetered on the edge of frustration, though he took some pleasure seeing Wash gawking uncomfortably out at all the stares focused on the two. "Someone order Andee's special brownies?!?" York called out over the masses before laughing and tossing the tray onto a nearby table, then giving the wagon a firm boot to send it rolling toward the teeming crowd. "Dig in!"

Several excited cheers sounded from the bats as they surged forward to take advantage of the bounty while Andee only made a face at the way Samael was grinning broadly at York. He slapped a wing against the rebel's sweaty back and muttered over the noise: "Ey, wasn't that asshole supposed to come back with you like thirty fuckin' minutes ago?!"

"Guess he did get lost!" Samael yelled back cheerfully before he pranced toward his best buddy with a giggle. Andee's expression immediately soured, his ears flattening as he glared darkly after the rebel while remaining alone in the center of the arena as the music began to swell again. Of course it had been too good to last. He hadn't even been granted twenty fucking minutes of that stupid asshole's attention before it had been broken by some distraction...no, not just any distraction, but his pal York.

Andee's teeth ground slowly as he watched York chortle and then reach over a shoulder to pull the distinctive guitar from where it'd been hanging on his back. Part of Andee wondered if those two really had just met up for a goddamn ten-minute-fuck instead of actually getting the supplies...no, Andee hadn't smelled it, but he was sure Samael was a fucking master of covering that up after having lived with Nelson for so long. It would explain why Samael hadn't brought a goddamn thing back, not even his precious guitar.

He started to stomp forward only to pause when he saw Samael spin once with the guitar, then immediately find him again through the crowd with a beaming expression. The bat felt grounded to the spot as the chupa trotted neatly between the celebratory bats and chupas who had returned to their lively dancing. York was still there but Samael was coming to Andee. His gaze was solely on the bat even as his fingers automatically moved to tune the instrument, even as he called out buoyant apologies to everyone he bumped into.

...Maybe Fiffy really did know who was more important, after all.

Andee masked his earlier consternation with an expectant grunt as Samael bounded up to him. "How the fuck did you forget the one thing I got for your dumb redneck ass to use tonight??"

"Hey, listen...I was gettin' the lowdown on York an' Wash while we was loadin' up the wagon!" Samael explained with a laugh as Andee scowled for a moment. "Then Juwo was lookin' for us, so I had to--"

"Ah, fuck it, ya got the damn thing now," Andee interrupted with a snort, giving a half-smile and stepping forward so he could grip into Samael's belt again and pull him closer. "Time to fuckin' show Xulod whether or not you're full of shit, Fiffy. Hope you didn't pop any of those brownies yet..."

He could feel Samael's elated shiver in response to the claw hooked into his waistband and he kept his grin modest. Samael gave him a dumb smile while holding his guitar tightly to his chest, no doubt a simulacrum for the bat he was so goddamn crazy about. "Heh...hey, we don't know, could make me groove even better..." Andee rolled his eyes but smiled as Samael winked and licked his muzzle anxiously. "Nothin' but booze tonight, though...ready to himroc, hon."

"Good," Andee replied softly, his eyes gleaming before he jerked his head toward the stage. "Then let's go."

He turned to elbow and push his way through his fellow bats with several scowls and grumbles while Samael chuckled and swooped after him, far more delicate despite his thick frame as he gave apologies and contorted himself to try and avoid shoving against anyone. Andee wasn't oblivious to the fact that he and Samael were so goddamn different in almost everything they did...hell, if anything, he was starting to savor that. Maybe that's why he put up with the stupid bastard. They had the right things in common, yet Samael was anything but a carbon copy of him. Would have been boring any other way.

They eventually arrived at the stage and Samael started to make his way around to the side, but Andee flapped his wings to simply throw himself up there, right in the damn middle. He huffed and thrust an arm out toward Samael while looking at him pointedly, and the chupa gave what might have been a moment of a shy grin even as he reached up and gripped firmly into Andee's wrist. "Get up here, ya fuckin' garden gnome," he muttered while grunting and hefting Samael up as the band shuffled apart to give them both room.

Angel dipped in close for a moment to grin quite directly at Andee even while her bow continued to fly across the fiddle, and Andee snorted at her, then hip-checked her aside as she laughed and twirled away to join the bat on the pan flute. He adjusted his cap before snatching up a hoop with taut strings pulled across it and adorned with several silver bells, looking up at Samael as their eyes met. "Make me proud, jackass."

Samael beamed, his body seeming to thrum with confidence. "Always, hon." Their bandmates began to wind down the current number as Samael hooked the guitar up to the speakers and moved to the front of the stage. Any hesitation or doubt faded from the damnably calm chupa's features, and Andee had a hard time not marveling at how easily Samael faced the hundreds of excited faces that all turned toward them when the music faded completely. He had a flash of a vision, recalling Tracer speaking to a massive crowd in the plaza as he spun a tale of life outside the caves, but it was only a flash. Samael had his charisma...but something. Something was different.

"Awright, friends!" Samael called out, his powerful voice easily carrying across the expansive cavern without any amplification. "We done some good movin' tonight, but now it's time to swing!" Some of the bats began to cheer and Andee hid his smile as Samael carefully changed languages. "You all must forgive me -- I am little rusty...but let us do it still!" The roar of approval was deafening, a flurry of fists raising in an eager endorsement as Samael grinned and let his fingers quickly dance over the strings before he whooped and turned to face the rest of the band, stamping a paw firmly against the stage to set a solid beat while chanting rhythmic nonsense for several seconds

Andee couldn't avoid the smirk as he dropped onto an overturned bucket and started tapping his own instrument in time while the bats behind the mushrooms grinned and joined in, each instrument adding a bit more accompaniment until Samael spun back around with a laugh. His booming baritone rolled out over the energized crowd as they started stomping and clapping along.

Well, I'm gonna get out my still 'n shine up some blues

Meet my baby, gonna tell 'im the news

Bet my money on a sway-back nag

An' I come home winner with plenty'a swag!

The remaining instruments joined in as Samael's fingers started to strum while he broke into the chorus to the delight of their audience. The dancing resumed eagerly and Andee was helpless in his admiration for the way Samael glowed as he stood front and center, belting out the words with nothing short of pure joy in his features.

Andee's eyes skimmed over the crowds as bat and chupa alike moved happily to the rollicking tune, catching glimpses of Mutt and Paneko trading steps with Vincent, Nelson's entire crew laughing and twisting together, and even the less-familiar faces of Kiden and the handful of anarchists who accompanied him -- late, but managing to meld into Xulod's numbers with unsettling ease thanks to all the goddamn work Samael had done preparing the secluded people. He didn't want to care, but there was no denying the way his heart pounded with selfish pride, because he knew even as friendly and open as Samael was...it was because of meeting Andee that he'd so quickly embedded himself into this culture. The damn puppy had been doomed the moment he set eyes on him.

Gotta big jug'a shine an' a bottle'a wine!

One's fer my honey, the other's mine...

Andee glanced up with a half-smile as Samael gazed right at him, singing to the crowds but focused once more on the bat. Damn, that felt nice.

Sip on the shine, sip on the wine --

We both sip together an' we have a good time!

He bounced toward him as Andee gave a grin he couldn't repress, eventually hopping up to stand on the bucket while rattling his instrument harder. Samael belted out the chorus again while shifting closer and making room at the center of the stage, breaking his eye contact with Andee to cheerfully sing:

Now listen to the fiddle...as she plays that sugar foot rag!

The entire band burst into a jaunty instrumental break while Samael stepped aside to dance around Andee with the guitar as Angel grinned merrily and shifted to take the spotlight, her wing moving a in blur to send the frayed bow gliding across the fiddle. The crowd bellowed and danced that much harder, everyone pressing closer together and whirling faster as Samael glanced joyfully back at Andee. Yeah. Much as he would have loved laughing at the puppy's efforts failing and him falling flat on his face...it was hard to be mad at this.

Andee's heart was racing as Angel's solo tapered off, feeling himself drawn forward when Samael pulled away to return to the center of the stage. God damn this redneck and his goddamn magnetism. He panted, not sure if it was still from the dancing, from the rousing music, or something else entirely, but every inch of his body was hooked on Samael's presence, his ears pricked, talons perched on the edge of the bucket. Geezus, maybe Samael was right, maybe this was their big, dumb, gay party.

One foot, two foot, slew foot drag

Swing yer honey to the sugar foot rag!

Do a li'l jig an' a zig 'n a zag...

An' listen to Fiffy! He's gonna play ya that sugar foot rag!

Samael hollered brightly again as he ripped into his own solo, his claws dancing swiftly across the strings as he turned again to face Andee. Their grins met instantly and Andee hopped off the bucket, unable to resist the call to join Samael in circling one another, the bat slapping the jangling instrument wildly against a thigh as Samael leaned toward him with a delighted smile while the guitar screamed blissfully. The whole cavern shook around them as the crowd stomped, hopped and danced along to the vibrant performance, the lanterns swinging above their heads in time to the intoxicating rhythm.

The bridge went on for a minute or two until Samael finally threw his head back with a Sampi-born howl, following it with an energetic cackle as he smoothly transitioned to another song, one with a tempo just as intense. The band came with him, Andee remaining on his feet as well as he grinned around himself and soaked up the atmosphere. Himroc would never be the same...and for once, he was pretty sure that was a good thing.

They played a few more animated melodies before Samael at last slowed the tempo, his voice lowering to a sultry rumble. "A'right, y'all know they felt that out in Omegrad...but let's show 'em we know how to love, too..." He moved smoothly into a serenade and Andee finally let himself drop back down onto the bucket as he set aside his instrument and propped his muzzle up to watch Samael with a quiet smile. His stupid redneck was still a cheesy bastard, he supposed.

As Samael and the rest of the band filled the cavern with the swooning ballad, Andee looked out over the crowds again. Most of them were still on their feet, pressing close to someone, whether lover, partner or just some random motherfucker, swaying together to the gentle tune. His eyes flicked to a towering tan figure before he snorted at the sight of York dragging Wash to a corner of the dance floor. If he thought Wash looked uncomfortable before, boy, was it bad now. Andee spared no expense with his cruel grin, absolutely delighting in the way Wash shifted and stared around while York attempted to nudge him close by the hip, no doubt trying to cajole him into sharing a dance. Heh, what a pussy -- even Andee had shown no hesitation dancing with his goddamn puppy.

He couldn't make out their words, but eventually Wash made some sort of flustered sound and slipped out of York's grip to quickly weave back through the tight-knit masses and disappear from the arena. Andee hummed in satisfaction, more than just a bit entertained by the display now that he wasn't a part of it. But his eyes quickly shot back to Samael when the rebel's voice wavered, seeing the way Samael looked over at York with a concerned expression. The slow strumming faltered, his gentle baritone drifting off-key for a few seconds...until Andee gave a low, dark growl.

Samael's head whipped back around to look down at him awkwardly. All Andee had to do was narrow his eyes and Samael gave a faint, apologetic smile before focusing again on the performance, even if his gaze drifted back toward York standing aloofly, a giant among the bats as a hurt expression of longing remained scrawled across his features. Fuckin' good, as far as Andee was concerned -- let some other motherfucker taste the downside of trying to make a terrible romantic decision work. Wasn't fair that Andee and Samael seemed to only be the ones in that fuckin' boat.

...Not that it mattered, since York apparently was just as bad about being a social whore as Samael. It only took a few moments for the awkward stares of the surrounding bats to return to quiet bliss as CT and that Neb chick moved to York's sides, giving him matching smiles of sympathy and offering their hands so he could join them in a friendly dance trio. Eh, whatever -- at least it meant Samael could stop his goddamn fretting and get back to his job...since he was doing a lot fuckin' better than Andee expected.

Andee's hackles lowered and he grumpily settled back onto the bucket before his eyes once again fell onto his puppy to watch him finish the lilting ballad, then carry his fellow musicians into a more uptempo waltz. He squinted when Samael again looked toward York, but once he saw the big stupid were-mutt's muzzle had another smile on it -- plastered on or otherwise -- he focused again on singing and picking away at the guitar. Andee supposed he could give him a bit of credit for at least keeping the illusion of being a talented showman, since even when his dumb friend was being dumped by his shitty not-boyfriend, Samael kept the performance going. That was worth something, at least.


Samael played with the band for at least an hour before his voice finally began to grow hoarse. He closed off one final spirited number before whooping and yanking his guitar off his neck to thrust it high into the air above his head as Xulod and her guests roared cheerfully in response. "Y'all been too kind, I ain't got the words to thank y'all fer this chance!" he yelled, barely audible over the audience. Andee smiled faintly to himself, not missing the dampness in the emotional asshole's eyes. "This's been one helluva cave-stomp...and I am hoping it will not be the last time!" he concluded in the bats' language as the cavern erupted into another round of joyful shouting, the remaining band members moving back into a cheery melody so the party could continue.

Andee joined Samael at his side, smirking as he wrapped a wing around his legs and guided him off the stage. "Not bad, Fiffy. Not fuckin' bad at all..."

Samael beamed down at him, clutching the guitar close to his sweat-drenched form as his eyes radiated nothing short of raw elation. "Xulod's still standin' -- guess y'all get to keep livin' here fer now, huh?"

Andee snorted but smiled all the same. "I think you fuckin' gave the bitch a run for her money this year, though, probably got a few new goddamn cracks in the walls."

Samael laughed and dropped an arm down to rest his hand on his companion's shoulder as well. Andee was ready to take some time with Samael away from everyone else, but they didn't make it more than a few steps away from the stage before a tall chupa in a torn jean jacket and a spiky mane even more yellow than Wash's appeared in front of the pair. "Samael-fawkin'-Wurlitz! I didn't know you had other fawkin' talents besides havin' sex with da whole goddamn ring!"

A curious grin spread across Samael's features as Andee squinted up at who he supposed counted as the third leader among Sirca's largest Movement factions. "Heh, gawddamn, Kiden! I ain't seent ya in a hot minute! Lawd, son, I fergot yer accent's so heavy, makes my li'l bat-friend here sound gat-damn normal!" The lutris narrowed his eyes at the much-shorter rebel before snorting as he flicked his thick, smooth tail irritably.

"Oh, ya one to fawkin' talk," Kiden muttered as he took a moment to look over both Samael and Andee. Andee was pretty sure the resistance leader had a new scar or two carved across his features since the last time he'd seen the guy, his dark purple fur pockmarked with the signs of his branch's specialty. Kiden's people ran the propaganda arm of the Movement, having camps set up throughout the major cities where they staged protests, spread pamphlets and graffiti, kept tabs on Omegite activity, and in general set out to cause trouble while simultaneously trying to offer both protection and the opportunity to fight for those interested in working against the House. It perhaps wasn't as intense or immediately dangerous as what Nelson or Wash's people did...but only a fool would think it was exactly safe, either. "You still sound like ya got your fawkin' maw stuck in your cousin's asshole!"

Samael grinned amusedly as Andee snorted and gave his companion an entertained look. "Fuckin' hell, Fiffy, you wasn't lyin' -- that is the joke everyone makes!"

"Told ya!" Samael replied before shifting the guitar to let it rest on his back so he could place his hands comfortably on his hips, his breath starting to return to normal. "So ya enjoyin' the festivities, Kiden? Though I guess yer folks get to throw down more often'n us...both Wash 'n the ol' lady ain't so fond'a parties!"

"They also ain't fawkin' fond of puttin' their goddamn resources in the right places," Kiden grumbled while he ran his hand through his messy mane. "All that fawkin' Freelancer muscle in one place...and don't even get me started on you."

Samael blinked before glancing down as Andee looked up, the two sharing a confused look. "The fuck ya mean?" Andee ventured warily, stepping forward -- he didn't give a fuck who it was, he wasn't about to let some fucker go insulting his redneck after that performance. That was his right alone.

Kiden pursed his muzzle and gave Andee a flat look. "Clip those fawkin' wings, ya tiny squawkbox -- I mean that Nelson's fawkin' squanderin' Sammy's potential by keepin' him all ta herself!" Andee looked somewhat surprised but settled again as Samael chuckled quietly. "I ain't fawkin' talkin' outta my ass, don't laugh!" Kiden half-yelled as he threw his arms up in frustration before crossing them over his chest while studying Samael. "You 'member that one job ya helped us with?"

Samael rubbed his chin with a reminiscent smile. "Sure, sure -- Nelson sent me out to give y'all a hand with that safehouse 'bout to get overrun. I took me a li'l dive into the local militia, got 'em to poke their dumb ol' snoots somewhere else, heh."

Andee snorted while elbowing Samael's thigh. "That sounds like my dumbass puppy, alright -- he's fuckin' good at shit like that."

"Yeah, that's what I'm tryin' ta say!" Kiden retorted emphatically while flailing his slender arms again. "Ya barely broke a sweat gettin' access to that fawkin' station! I don't even wanna know how you got da whole fawkin' department to search da other side'a town..."

Samael grinned as he cocked his hips to one side. "Oh shit, that was the easy part -- see, the Inquisitor's brother worked there too, 'n they had this kinda fetish, so I gave 'em blowjobs at the same time -- hoo boy! They was putty in my hands after that!"

Andee blinked before grinning broadly as well despite his attempts to look upset, while Kiden only widened his eyes and then groaned loudly. "I said I didn't wanna fawkin' know...but hell, see what I mean??" He scowled and pulled at the hem of his jacket with both arms in frustration. "A slick muddafawkah like you, you could get da minutemen to look the other way, local checkpoints shut down...fawkin', we turn ya ass loose on some clergy?? We'd have priests, Clerics, a fawkin' Arbiter in our pocket..."

Andee laughed as he flashed his teeth up at Samael again before jabbing a wing confidently at Kiden. "You better fuckin' recognize it, too, Sammy's a goddamn pro, you think I'd waste my time with any ol' whore??"

Samael giggled and slapped Andee's back gently with his tail, making the piercing jingle in protest. "Ayy! I gots feelin's, too, y'know!"

"Yeah, feelin' how good you are on that dick!"

Kiden practically frothed in his disgruntlement even as he stamped a paw in agreement. "You fawkin' see what I mean?!? We'd be unstoppable wit' him in our ranks, he's fawkin' wasted where he is now!" Andee snorted but felt a mote of hesitation, now. Maybe he didn't love that Samael was so goddamn devoted to Nelson and her way of doing things...yet he also knew Samael did well there. He didn't have to like it, but he was all too aware just what a difference the little bastard made for her, for the whole damn cause. Still...he could be proud about the fact someone else wanted him, too. "I just wanna know...how da hell don't that nasty old bitch see that, too?!?"

"Because this nasty old bitch ain't in the fuckin' business of holdin' hands in front of fuckin' tanks and spray-painting some motherfuckin' bridges when there's a real fuckin' war to win!"

Samael and Andee both shrunk at Nelson's snarl and even Kiden couldn't help leaping to the side with a shocked curse as she all but appeared from the still-dancing crowd next to them. Her eyes were burning, but for once not at Samael as she stared down Kiden with the intensity of a wolf guarding her young. "The fuck you doing talking to my people, Kiden?"

...Andee didn't even bother to protest, accepting the designation as he remained frozen in place against Samael while Nelson bared her teeth furiously up toward Kiden. He tried to recompose himself with a loud huff, even if his nervousness was still plainly visible. "Hey, listen, Nelson -- I...I get it, he's one of ya best, but we need someone like him!"

"Bullshit, you need fuckin' bored kids and housewives, people who fuckin' blend in, Wurlitz look like he does any sorta 'blending in' to you?!" she shot back.

Kiden blinked before sputtering: "...Yes?!? Christ, woman, that is literally what he do best!"

Nelson reared back and then growled in a low voice: "Okay, you gotta fuckin' point, but he does it best where he is now, making a real fucking difference. What the fuck's it gonna mean if he gets his ass mowed down in some fucking protest?"

Kiden's bravery returned, riding on the back of his ire. "You fawkin' kiddin' me?! I lost two people just this week from da fawkin' raids da House has been sendin' our way! Don't make light of that shit, Nelson! Their lives are just as goddamn important as your people's!"

Andee had to withhold his snort, but Nelson didn't bother as she only stared coldly back up at Kiden. "Are they?"

Andee felt Samael stiffen up, knowing already the bolt of guilt that coursed through him. Andee didn't really care -- hell, for once, he was on Nelson's side. Samael was one of those more-important lives, after all. Kiden's eyes bulged, however, and his muzzle curled into a furious snarl. "Da hell, woman?! I know we ain't out dere, fawkin' doin' all ya super-spy shit, but those are real people dyin' in da fawkin' streets!"

"They are your people to command, and your consequences to handle when shit gets rough," Nelson replied icily as she leaned forward, a dangerous venom curling around her words. "Wurlitz is mine. And he will fucking stay exactly where he is."

Andee shifted his weight as he gripped silently into Samael's hip with a claw, squeezing it slowly. The pride was morphing to paranoia as he remembered Samael's grinning features the last time Nelson grudgingly praised him for his work. That dumbass didn't need any help killing himself any faster. And here these two were, arguing over his redneck, like he was--

"If Tracer was here," Kiden uttered, just loud enough to be heard over the celebration around them. "He woulda sent Sammy straight to our camp, and you fawkin' know it. Da kid was made for this shit."

Nelson's nostrils flared as she clenched into her armrests hard enough to kink the steel. "You don't fuckin' believe that," she spat out. "Tracer sent him to me." Andee glanced up as Samael trembled at the second mention of his name, feeling the chupa's tail nervously curl around his wing and for once, not doing a damn thing to stop it. "'The kid' is precisely where he belongs, and you fuckin' say one more word about what you think the old man wanted, and I'll have your fucking head," she thundered, not a hint of hyperbole in her tone.

These motherfuckers were treating Samael like he was a fuckin' resource, a commodity to be spent and used up by the goddamn Movement. And Samael wasn't saying shit...Andee wondered if it was because he didn't know what to say, which cause was more just in his mind. He had no doubt Samael was willing to throw himself to either side, put his life on the line for them both. It made Andee's heart clench as his eyes narrowed. These assholes seemed to keep forgetting Samael was his puppy, damn the separation he'd so industriously built up. He wanted Samael where he truly belonged, at his goddamn side, not a fuckin' pawn in these bastards' game.

"Ay!" Kiden and Nelson blinked in surprise as they both slowly turned their heads toward Andee, their argument frozen mid-rant. "You bitches can keep on havin' your little fuckin' slap fight, but I'm takin' Fiffy somewhere quiet, 'cause your stupid chupa-fuck asses are ruinin' the goddamn party!" he declared before wrapping his arm around Samael's hips again and looking up at the rebel. "C'mon, Sammy." He paused, the words on his tongue tasting...strange. Foreign. He let them roll off all the same. "You did real fuckin' good tonight. And I'm not gonna let anyone fuck that shit up." He glowered at the other two -- neither of them really seemed to care as Nelson only intensified her frown. Kiden, at least, finally glanced away with an unintelligible mutter as he crossed his arms again, and Andee took a quick breath before adding firmly: "Let's get outta here."

He partially expected a protest, or at the very least a look from the chupa, something that told him Samael was torn between his momma and yet another soul in need of his talents, his time, his blood. But when he glanced up again, he found Samael's eyes settled on him, and him alone. Those azure pools held him close and the bat nearly swooned. Christ, that was the last thing he needed all these bastards to see.

Samael's tail pressed against his shoulderblades and he remembered how to breathe, giving a defiant look to Nelson when she only continued to fix them with a sour expression. She eventually rolled her eyes and gestured with an arm. "I'm not your fucking mother, I don't give a fuck what you two do -- as long as you know where your ass better be when rec time is over." She glared coldly at Kiden, who snorted and raised his hands in at least the semblance of defeat.

"I said my fawkin' piece -- better get back ta my people, anyway, don't want 'em thinkin' they's expendable," he fired back snippily before shoving his hands into his pockets and pushing his way once more into the dancing mass of bats.

Nelson watched his back for a few seconds before looking again at Samael and Andee when they started to walk past her. "Wurlitz."

Samael hesitated and met her gaze to Andee's chagrin, though he himself couldn't help glancing up at the woman, either. "Mama?"

She spent a few seconds simply studying him before her eyes flicked to Andee. Her voice carried just over the raucous din surrounding them. "Guess it's too late to stop you now. Make the most of it while you can." Andee's eyes narrowed but he felt Samael's fingers closing silently around his shoulder in reassurance. "I expect you back at Sidewinder by 1800 BM." She allowed a small quirk of her muzzle and eased her chair back enough to give them berth to pass. "Enjoy the night, fruitcakes."

Andee returned the smirk as he squeezed Samael's hip, then led him forward. "Don't worry about us, ya rollin' nightmare -- you better keep an eye on that hoop kid, think Mutt's gonna try make him a man tonight."

Nelson narrowed her eyes but then gave the hint of a smile as they walked past her. "Pretty sure your Cakkco Fif already took care of that." Andee blinked before grinning despite himself as he dug his claw lightly into his companion's waist. "No wonder you picked him. Maybe he can do the same for you, bat."

"Ha!" Andee reached up with his other hand to adjust his cap while firing her an amused look, pretending he didn't feel the way Samael beamed happily at his side. "We'll see who's the fuckin' whelp by tomorrow morning," he boasted before meeting Samael's eyes and finding his attention still blissfully drawn to him. "But let's get you somethin' to drink first, ya big stupid puppy..." He jerked his head and Samael was quick to stay close with him after a small wave to Nelson as they moved past her and toward the bar.

Xulod had been given their time with Samael. Now it was Andee's goddamn turn.


"You fuckin' kiddin' me, you never performed in front of a crowd before?!"

Samael giggled, his head propped up with one hand as the other lifted a glass of actual ice water to his muzzle. He was shocked the bar had anything available other than the berry-based liquors and his moonshine...but considering the fact he was drenched head to toe from the concert, it was a grateful surprise. "Hell no! We ain't even had no shit like recitals or nothin' out in our snow-caves -- you jus' dragged yer asses out in front'a the ol' geezers who were fuckin' pros an' played for 'em an' waited to see if they approved or sent ya out to the fuckin' Field'a Shame to think 'bout how much ya suck at music 'n maybe if ya should pick up another hobby like fuckin' woodworkin' or basketweavin' or some shit..."

Andee guffawed but still looked impressed as he held his head up as well, giving the chupa a gaze laced with just enough tenderness that Samael felt his heart threatening to burst excitedly from his chest. "Fuckin' color me impressed, then -- you went fuckin' above and beyond, ya inbred bastard...I ain't heard the cave shake like that before, not a fuckin' single time." He watched as Samael guzzled more of the water, his eyes dancing as the rebel delighted in the thrill coursing through his veins. "Guess it was worth lettin' you talk me into this stupid idea, huh?"

Samael smacked his lips as he set the glass down and then smiled happily at the bat. "Yeah it was. I was a li'l bit scared, ain't gonna lie..." He chuckled and rubbed the back of his head while casting his eyes back over the writhing crowd for a moment. "Figgered if I fucked this up, I'd kinda be less welcome 'round here, even if ol' Sage's all nice to me 'n shit..."

His companion snorted and reached over to flick his shoulder. "I'm startin' to think you're jailbait to all the old, wise fuckers of the world...and I'm startin' to think you like it, too." Samael couldn't help the playful grin and Andee laughed as well, shoving at his arm again. "God, you're fuckin' broke in the head, Fiffy..."

Samael smiled warmly again and leaned toward the bat. "You kinda like it, though..."

Another wonderful little thrum as Andee leaned back toward him with a throaty laugh while he gripped tightly into Samael's thick bicep. "I'd hafta be a dumb motherfucker to be into a messed-up wreck like you..." Samael kept beaming quietly while Andee snorted and slid his arm up to trace his claw across the chupa's broad shoulder while looking up into his features. The band still played, Xulod and her visitors still danced, but this little corner of the cave seemed to slow down and wrap itself securely in its own quiet reality. "Guess that makes me a dumb motherfucker." Samael's smile widened as the bat grumbled but let his finger continue moving until it traced gently across the white patch on Samael's chest. "You ain't gonna say nothin', puppy?"

Samael turned completely toward him, bending down as a strong arm wrapped around the bat's waist to pull him to the edge of the bar stool. Andee's eyes bulged just a bit but Samael was there to gaze down at him, not sure what he was reassuring Andee about, but offering it silently all the same. Andee seemed to appreciate it. "Don't wanna ruin the moment with my dumb redneck words," he murmured, his muzzle lowering until it bumped against Andee's nose.

The bat let out another little puff of air before digging his claws lightly into the heavy, damp fur covering Samael's chest. "Maybe I like your dumb redneck words, asshole..." Andee's eyes lifted to meet his again, his head tilting up with a slight smile. "Make me feel like that much more of a fuckin' genius."

Samael smiled back happily as his fingers settled against the small of Andee's back, leaning down to rub his muzzle along his companion's before pushing it down into his neck. He felt the tickle of the bat's sigh across his cheek, the claws in his chest clutching a bit harder. "Then yer in luck," he murmured into the bat's collarbone before letting his teeth nip lightly at Andee's throat, drowning in the delight of the shudder he felt roll through his partner's slender form. "All I got are dumb redneck words..."

"Not if I give that stupid mouth somethin' else to do..." Andee replied breathlessly, taking a moment longer to let Samael's muzzle drift through his neck before he pulled back with a pant, his silver piercings flashing in the colored lights as his excitement failed to be contained. "Fuck this, Sammy. We done our fuckin' part for Himroc...they don't need us out here no more." Samael's whole body trembled as he smiled hesitantly while Andee glanced over his shoulder at the pulsing celebration behind them. "C'mon. Tired of sharin' your ass with everyone else..." He hopped off the stool and looked back up at Samael with a toothy grin. "Follow me, Fiffy..."

Samael was on his feet immediately, his eyes gleaming with anticipation as he slid up to Andee's side so they could stroll out of the caves together. He gave one last look back at the festivities, and smiled when he didn't catch a single gaze back in their direction. He was fine with being out of the spotlight now, because as much as he'd enjoyed that...god, he was ready for some quiet time with Andee.

The echoes of the lively melodies and energetic dancing followed them down the dim corridor, but Samael heard only the drumming of his own pulse. Andee brushed against his side so often as they headed for Xulod, both of them showing more than a bit of weariness in their steps. But every time their eyes met, a spark of revitalization jumped between them, igniting a broad grin or cocky wink that didn't know the meaning of exhaustion.

To say the last few days had been a blur would be an understatement. Samael honestly didn't even know what day of the week it was anymore...everything had just been measured relative to the Himroc. He and Andee hadn't stopped their bustle since the moment they received Juwo's blessing to proceed -- the invitations were only the first step, as Samael wheedled and plied the various Movement leaders both across the radio and during several harried road trips while Andee set out to gather the supplies they'd need for their various goodies. Even with Juwo's speech to Xulod, Samael still made it a point to personally visit as many bats as he could to talk about why he wanted to invite his fellow chupas, how magical this place was to him. They worked hard enough that at one point, Samael even passed out for a quick nap in Andee's apartment.

Granted, it was on the floor, and Andee left at some point while he was snoozing to meet with one of his connections for some of the festival supplies...but still. It had been something, enough to bring a small smile to his muzzle as they moved through the quiet streets.

They didn't pass a soul on the way to Andee's building, every able-bodied bat -- and even those who weren't -- having made their way to the celebration. It was eerie, but not unsettling; Samael meant it when he said this place was a home away from home. The mismatched architecture, the mixture of agrarian and high-rise, cobblestone and concrete, torches casting fiery light from one storefront as the one across the path glowed with neon. He knew it like the back of his hand, now, and he loved every inch of it.

...But only one destination was on his mind.

Christ, he was actually nervous, like a schoolkid on his first date. And he hadn't even gone to school. He found himself stretching his hand down, and Andee glanced up at him with a bemused look when his fingers brushed against his wing. "God, you...faggot," the bat murmured before reaching up and grasping into his fingers tightly. "Lucky no one's here to see this gay shit."

Samael smiled quietly, too fuzzy with warmth to care. He felt a tickle, though, one that nibbled at the corner of his thoughts even as his heart pounded eagerly. He knew it was a bad idea, but..."Do...do you think...York..."

Andee's eyes shot up to him again, narrowing beneath the brim of his cap. "Sammy..."

The chupa smiled weakly, a slave to his own flaws. "I'm just worried 'bout 'im..."

Andee exhaled loudly and then stepped in front of Samael, causing him to jerk awkwardly to a halt. The bat continued to look up at him before reaching with his other hand to grab Samael's opposite wrist as well. "Look, Fiffy. I ain't gonna get pissed, 'cause tonight...tonight's been..." Andee searched his gaze for a few seconds as Samael swallowed and did his best not to plumb the depths of the oddly-vulnerable bat's soul. "It's been good. And even if I wanna bitch at you for even fuckin' thinkin' about any other fucker right now, I ain't gonna be the one to fuck things up. Not tonight." Samael opened his muzzle to respond, and Andee squeezed both his hands firmly. "Naw, listen up, puppy. Wait on me." Samael nodded obediently and Andee grumbled before looking squarely into his eyes again. "I get he's your friend. But he's a grown-ass man. I know he was there for you when we..." He glanced briefly away and then sighed. "But fuckin' hell, Sammy. It's one night. I need you to give me this one night, when you's here with me...and only me."

Samael swallowed thickly again before dropping to a knee so he could gaze evenly at his companion. "I'm sorry, hon. Yer...yer right. But you ain't just got this one night. I wanna give you every night..."

He knew York would understand. Even if Andee didn't, the key York wore, whomever he wore it for...it meant he would understand.

Andee smiled after a moment, pursing his muzzle but eventually giving a nod. "Yeah...you fuckin' better, ya dumb redneck," he rumbled before jerking his head over his shoulder at his apartment building. "Get up, Fiffy. I know you're still gonna be a damn whore, but I'm gonna show you why you won't even need no other motherfucker in the sack, believe that..."

That tremble of excitement was even stronger as Samael stumbled back up to his paws while Andee yanked on his wrist to pull him toward the rickety staircase at the back of the building. They fell into a silence that was anything but uncomfortable, Andee leading the entire way and keeping his firm grip around his companion's arm with that same half-smile. It didn't matter that Samael knew the route, that he'd gone up these stairs a hundred times. Every step on the creaking wooden planks was a step past a new threshold, into something he wanted...needed.

They made it to Andee's apartment without a single exchanged word, the bat still clutching into the rebel's wrist as he reached out with his other hand to open the door. Samael had been inside plenty at this point, but this wasn't the same. This felt...momentous.

Andee strode forward before blinking as his wing went taut, Samael still frozen outside the doorway. He tugged on the chupa's arm but Samael only stared into the apartment for a second or two before looking sheepishly down at Andee.

He watched the bat's maw open, likely ready to fire some insult or mockery, some kind of teasing invitation...but Andee paused after a moment before he instead smiled and stood to one side while sweeping his other wing out. "Come on in, Sammy. My puppy ain't sleepin' outside tonight."

The chupa felt his cheeks flush even as he smiled again and took a step forward, exhaling slowly as he walked into the apartment. Andee shut the door behind them as Samael gazed around the space. Everything about this place felt like his partner. The plush furniture, worn but eye-catching. The bed that was entirely too large for a single bat, even if he'd been Mutt's size. The trinkets, treasures and knickknacks hung up on each wall, ranging from exotic to ancient, bat-made to chupa-born, some intricately-crafted, others with the marks of a novice's fingers.

Samael set down the guitar without really looking, his eyes sweeping the walls. He spotted a picture of himself, the first one he'd sent to the bat -- god, it had been silly of him but. There it was, neatly centered between a resistance poster and a dreamcatcher, one he'd seen several times now without ever really getting an explanation of what it meant.

Samael's eyes lingered on the dreamcatcher for a few seconds; he felt drawn to it, even if he wasn't sure why...but Andee cleared his throat rather distinctively a moment later and Samael forced himself to look away. "Oh, uh...shit, sorry, hon...want me to put on some coffee?" he asked as he turned toward Andee.

His eyes widened when he saw Andee on the overstuffed armchair, shrugging off his half-poncho and ignoring the clatter of its various contents spilling out on the floor around him. Andee's eyes glowed as he stared hungrily at Samael. "Nah, Fiffy. Not tonight. You ain't gonna need it."

As Andee reached up to slowly pluck his cap off and toss it aside, leaving him with nothing but his piercings and black leather collar, Samael blood surged. He took an unsteady step toward the armchair as the bat smirked and beckoned silently with a finger.

Andee was right about the coffee.


~ * ~ * NSFW * ~ * ~

Andee looked rather pleased with himself, even if he winced and cursed quietly when Samael took a moment to shuffle into a seated position and then turn them both around so he could flop against the back of the armchair. He wrapped his arms loosely around the bat, then hesitated with a sheepish smile. "You uh...y'want me to go find a towel or..."

But Andee only gave him a bemused smile before letting his head drop against Samael's broad chest, careless of...well, anything that coated his companion's shaggy hide. Samael smiled back and let his embrace tighten as he pulled Andee close while careful not to shift his hips too much so they could rest as comfortably as possible. "You're still so goddamn gay, Sammy," Andee murmured as he let one wing shift up so he could trace his claw through the chupa's messy fur.

"Kinda," Samael replied with a chuckle before grimacing when Andee shifted a bit in his lap. "Hngh...c-careful, hon..."

Andee let out a soft pant but did his best to stay composed even while mumbling into his companion's throat: "How long's this shit last, ya weird-dicked asshole?"

Samael smiled while nuzzling slowly between Andee's ears, then nosing into one. "Heh, we got 'least ten minutes'a cuddlin' to enjoy, don't you worry..."

"Oh, good," Andee grumbled, though Samael felt him shift his other arm up to cling silently into one of his shoulders. "God, no wonder you fuckers are all such emotional bitches..."

Samael's smile never wavered as he rubbed a finger gently up and down the bat's spine. He didn't bother with a response, settling for just holding Andee securely. He felt the bat nose the bottom of his muzzle and he gazed down to see Andee looking at him with a tenderness he wasn't used to. Samael savored it as long as he dared, then moved to rub their jaws slowly together while his tail curled around the bat's waist.

"You...you really done somethin' special tonight, Fiffy," Andee murmured as he let his nose ring glide along the crimson studs in Samael's lower jaw. The chupa raised an eyebrow, giving the bat a playful look past the remaining evidence of their evening, still matting his fur down. Andee pursed his lips but couldn't help the amused snort. "Not this, asshole..." He paused and then gave a better smirk this time around. "But guess you did alright with that, too," he added before reaching up to loop an arm around Samael's neck. "But...I mean with the Himroc, puppy. That...that wasn't no easy shit we did." Samael gazed at him, letting the bat pick carefully through his words, since he knew they sure as hell weren't easy to get out. "What you did, what you went outta your fuckin' way to do for us, and for your stupid chupa-fuck-friends..." The bat grumbled but nuzzled into his throat while murmuring: "Even Tracer never managed somethin' so big. And I'm...I'm fuckin' proud of you, okay? So fuckin'...enjoy that shit, 'cause I ain't ever gonna say it again..."

Samael smiled warmly as he kissed one of the bat's ears and rubbed steadily along his back again. "Aw, hon...I...I jus' wanted to share everythin' I love 'bout this place an'...an' to do it with you." He pushed his head back against the cushion so he could gaze down and meet Andee's eyes again. "Ain't nothin' feels quite as good as when you'n I tackle shit together.. You make me feel like there really is a light at the end'a the tunnel..."

Andee scoffed, though his eyes revealed the warm emotions before their glower upward. "Yeah, yeah. I guess you c'n stay here in my pad...next time." He paused and then frowned as Samael felt his own heart dip a bit. "Next time you're...here." Andee wrinkled his muzzle before sighing and dropping his head back against his partner's breast. "Because you gotta get your ass back to fuckin' Sidewinder in the morning. Like you're gonna have to do every fuckin' time..."

Samael opened his muzzle, but knew before even saying it that inviting Andee to move out to Honkal would have been the same as when Andee asked him the same. He shifted a bit, then wrapped his arms tightly around the bat while murmuring against the side of his head. "It ain't gonna be forever, hon. We're gonna finish this thing. An' when we do...all I want's a life with you..."

Andee snorted quietly again but clutched into Samael's fur all the same, revealing some sliver of the same hope for himself. "Wishful thinkin', ya stupid puppy. But I guess at the very least we can get a fuckin' place set up for me out that way...'cause that goddamn room of yours is too fuckin' public an' smells like every other fucker you fuck on that bednest."

The chupa laughed, squeezing Andee briefly but nodding agreeably. "Yeah, yeah...'course, hon, we'll find us our own li'l private love-nest." He shifted a hand to lightly cup the back of his partner's head while closing his eyes as exhaustion began to creep over them both. He felt Andee relaxing against him, their bodies pressing closer as Andee nestled his muzzle under Samael's with a mumble.

A few seconds passed, the silence settling peacefully...until Andee gave the smallest shift and then murmured: "Hey, asshole. Ain't you...ain't you gonna fuckin' say it?"

Samael opened his eyes and glanced down at the top of his partner's head, then smiled quietly as he lowered his muzzle on top of his once more and cradled him in both arms. He knew exactly what he meant -- and Samael had no hesitation."I love you, Andee."

The claw buried into his shoulder drove in a bit harder before he felt Andee relaxing again. "Good. You fuckin' better," Andee replied quietly while nuzzling along his throat. Samael smiled to himself again and nodded once as they both fell still in one another's arms, moving comfortably into a doze together.

Outside the apartment, Xulod remained quiet as her inhabitants continued their celebration in the distant chamber, sharing the cherished ritual with their guests...outsiders who wouldn't have ever experienced the festival if not for the efforts of the duo. But they weren't needed anymore, not tonight. Xulod and her visitors would make it to daybreak without them.

After all, this was their night.