Frank sits up before he wakes up, and hits his head on the lid of his coffin. "Fuck," he says, and then pushes the lid off, rubs his head, and then promptly hits his head again. On a chaise lounge.
"What the fuck," he says, and rubs the spot on his head, hoping maybe the floral-pattered lounge with mahogany accents is a side effect of the first blow. The lounge bobs over his head, and the floats serenely out into the hallway.
"Dewees," Frank calls out, "Did you buy something ugly and floral?"
There's no answer, and so Frank gets up out of his coffin and follows the floating furniture.
The lounge is bobbing over the kitchen table in Frank's apartment, and he's not sure if this is one of those moments they taught him about in the Clan transition classes about properly addressing inanimate magical objects.
"Are you sentiently magical?" Frank asks the lounge. It does a sort of twirl in the air and so he thinks that's probably a yes. "I'm sorry I called you ugly. How'd you get in?"
It sort of....points to the window, which Dewees has left open.
"Ok," Frank says, and that's when the famous Midnighter detective climbs in through the open window, presumably on the trail of the chaise lounge.
"Is there a piece of furniture that doesn’t belong to you currently in your apartment?" Gerard Way asks, pulling his coat straight again after where it's gotten tangled around him as he climbed up the fire escape.
"There's a kitchen table that belongs to my buddy Dewees," Frank says, "But I'm assuming you mean the thing that's flying around my hallway?"
"Yes," Gerard says, nodding quickly. "You've seen it?"
"Yeah," Frank says, "Kind of hard to miss. It's not yours, is it?" Frank asks, thinking belatedly about how he called it ugly and wondering if it's going to hold a grudge.
"No," Gerard says. "I've been following it since the fourth district, with a detour through the werewolf quarter."
"A lead? You're on a case?" Frank says excitedly. That's even cooler than just meeting the great detective, being involved in an actual case, even accidentally thanks to a piece of flying furniture.
"I'm a detective," Gerard says, and Frank just stares at him, because, of course he is. "I guess I should have said that before I climbed in your apartment, I'm sorry."
"It's fine," Frank says, because this guy can't be serious. This is Gerard Way, he could commandeer Frank's whole apartment and make it fly through the werewolf quarter if he wanted and Frank wouldn't say a thing.
"So, the chaise lounge,"Gerard says, still looking apologetic. "It is a chaise lounge, right? Terrible floral pattern? Looks ridiculously uncomfortable."
"Yeah," Frank says.
"Ok, just as long as it's not the ottoman."
"How much flying furniture is out there?" Frank says.
"That's a good question," Gerard says, and then the lounge swoops by, close enough to knock Gerard in the back of the head, and it only just misses because Frank grabs him and tugs him forward.
"That's not very polite!" Gerard shouts after the chaise lounge, which makes a sharp turn and swoops low again, and this time Gerard and Frank crouch down at the same time. "I thought we were going to be able to have a civilized conversation."
"I don't think it's feeling particularly civilized," Frank says, as the chaise lounge swoops menacingly again.
"Well, would you, if you were upholstered like that?" Gerard says. "Don't make me add breaking and entering to the list of charges," Gerard says, addressing the chaise lounge again. "You're not exempt from the Clan Code Laws of magical Ingress and Egress."
The chaise lounge seems to take Gerard's threat seriously, and with a whoosh, flies off back out of the open window. Gerard scrambles up and takes off after it. He's halfway out the window, a leg thrown up over the sash, when Frank gets him to stop.
"You can use the stairs, you know," Frank says. Gerard stops and stares at him. "There's a blind alley and the front door lets out onto the main street. You'll catch it there when it has to turn around."
"Thanks," Gerard says, and hauls himself back inside and takes off at a quick run through Frank's apartment and out the front door, thundering down the steps. Frank peers out the window, and thinks he sees the shadows in the gas lamplights as the great detective takes off down the street in pursuit of a piece of rude rogue flying furniture.
"Is there a reason the window's open?" Dewees says as he's climbing in. "I mean, not that I mind not having to hold up the sill with my elbow, but you might get people breaking in."
"Isn't that what's happening right now?" Frank says, putting on his shirt.
"Hey, I have a standing invitation," Dewees says. "But you should consider some security measures against other individuals who aren't as well-intentioned as me."
Frank laughs and Dewees tumbles the rest of the way inside.
"I assumed you left it open when you went out," Frank says.
"Hey," Dewees says, though he doesn't argue.
"Unless the chaise lounge knows how to open windows."
"Frankie, you don't own a chaise lounge," Dewees says. "In fact, I'm surprised you even know what one is."
"Hard not to when it's hitting me on the head," Frank says.
Dewees shambles over to check Frank's head for wounds. Frank swats him away.
"I'm fine," Frank says.
"You're not fine, you're hallucinating furniture," Dewees says.
"I'm not," Frank says. "I woke up and there was a chaise lounge flying around the room. And then Gerard Way climbed in the window."
Dewees stops his fussing. Frank thinks probably he should have started there.
"The Great Detective chased a chaise lounge into your apartment.”
"They both came in the window," Frank says, "And then the chaise lounge went back out but I sent Mr. Way out the front."
"Because of the alley, good thinking, Frankie. Sounds like you've had an exciting evening. Is that why you're late for work?”
“Shit,” Frank says, because Dewees is right, he's already half an hour late.
“I'm pretty sure they'll forgive you if you tell them you were assisting Gerard Way in an investigation.”
Frank's not going to tell anyone at Pencey. He's not sure anyone would believe him. He hardly believes it himself.
Halfway across town, Patrick Stump is stumbling through the front doors of Decaydance Mansion, hat and glasses askew and his mouth blood-red.
Literally. Red with blood. Pete can smell it, and it makes him insane.
“Who hurt you, Patrick, who was it?” Pete grabs Patrick by the shoulders and shakes him hard. Patrick's head lolls, and his glasses slip a bit down his nose. Pete presses his nose close to Patrick's face, right up against his cheek, chasing the scent of whoever -
Pete pulls back and Patrick laughs, a disturbing, bubbly giggle.
“Who's blood?” Pete chokes out. Because it's not Patrick's blood leaking out the corner of his mouth and staining his lips. It doesn't smell like him at all.
“Didn't know it would taste so good,” Patrick practically croons, eyes closed.
“Who's blood?” Pete says again, because he can't yet see past the roaring jealously to get to the part where Patrick doesn't drink blood.
“A friend,” Patrick says, and then only the fact that Pete's still got his hands on Patrick's shoulders keeps him from hitting the floor like a stone.
“Pete,” Patrick calls, whisper-quiet, and Pete's up from his chair in an instant and at the side of the bed he'd wrestled the unconscious Patrick into maybe an hour before. Pete had lost track of time, staring at Patrick's blood-red mouth, furious and panicking in equal measure.
Patrick pushes the blanket away from where Pete had tucked it up under his chin, hands fumbling. Pete leans down to help him, and freezes when Patrick presses his mouth to his neck.
“So thirsty.” Patrick licks the skin just over Pete's jugular, and sucks so lightly, like he's trying to give Pete the faintest of hickeys.
“Stop it, man,” Pete says, pushing at Patrick's shoulders.
“You don't mean it,” Patrick says, and licks right up under Pete's jaw. Pete shudders.
“This is just the drugs. It was drugs, right? You're high, that's all.”
“You're a drug,” Patrick says. “Want more.”
“You're high and this is just - ” Pete trails off when Patrick's teeth graze his jaw. “Ok, that's enough.” Pete shoves Patrick away, and one of the pillows goes sliding off the bed as Patrick falls back against the mattress. Pete thinks that's it, that Patrick's out again, because he's laying still with his eyes closed, but then he smiles, very slowly.
A second later, Patrick is lunging at Pete, and they go tumbling across the bed. Pete ends up underneath Patrick, their hips pressed together, Patrick's fangs showing clearly in his smile. He bites Pete's bottom lip – really bites it, fangs going in, and Pete moans when Patrick licks away the blood that wells up.
“Gotcha,” Patrick says, and bites down hard again.
Pete screams so loudly that Gerard hears him from the Way Mansion across town six neighborhoods away.
“Did you hear that?” his valet says, but Gerard is already in the coat room, hastily pushing aside hangers until he finds his overcoat. He can't for the life of him remember this new kid's name. “That's coming from the First District.” Harold? Harcourt?
“It's coming from Decaydance,” Gerard says. “It's Pete Wentz.”
“Is someone trying to murder him again?”
“No, I have a feeling it's something much worse. Can you get the carriage?”
“You don't have time for that,” Brian's disembodied voice booms. “Take the underground tunnel.”
“The underground – there are tunnels?” Hamich says.
“You don't have a fear of enclosed spaces, do you?” Henry shakes his head. “Come on,” Gerard urges, and the kid can barely keep up as Gerard dashes off down the hall.
“Is it Mikey?” Brian joins them in the tunnel, startling Howard practically out of his skin.
“Don't tell him I ever said this, but Pete doesn't scream like that about my brother.” Gerard runs faster, because he has a pretty good idea what would make Pete scream like that, and it's not good at all.
Outside the Salpeter Mansion, a zombie is gardening.
“Excuse me,” Greta says, “But I think you have the wrong house.”
“What makes you say that?” Dewees says, pausing in his uprooting of an overgrown pink spirea.
“Well, because I don't have a gardener.”
“I freelance,” Dewees says.
“But I don't need a gardener.”
“The state of these beds says otherwise,” Dewees says. “Your spirea has sent runners everywhere.”
“I'm going to make you a runner,” Greta says. “Get out of my garden.”
“Ok,” Dewees says, and he carefully steps over the garden and into the driveway.
“Oh, you took that literally,” Greta sighs. “I meant, get out entirely. Off my property. Out of my sight.”
“Ok,” Dewees says and begins to shamble off. He is still clutching a handful of plant stems, their roots crumbling soil over his bare feet.
“Where are your shoes?” Greta asks.
“I don't know,” Dewees says.
“Where is your master?”
Dewees stops and looks at the plants in his hand, and then up at Greta. “I don't remember.”
Greta watches as he makes his way up the street, and, exactly as she had requested, out of her sight.
The underground tunnels bring Gerard to Decaydance Mansion directly and he arrives within moments of Dr. Asher.
“Are you on the case?” she asks.
“I don't know that there is one,” Gerard says, but they both know he wouldn't be there otherwise.
“What's the matter with him?” Pete says, for the hundredth time, as Dr. Asher examines a delirious Patrick, and Gerard searches Patrick's coat, hat, and shoes for clues.
“He's high,” Victoria says. “He's been dosed.”
“With drugged blood,” Victoria says. “I can give him something to help the withdrawal, but you're going to have to wean him off.”
“Wean-” Pete stops, and then closes his eyes and nods. “Yeah, I guess I should have already figured that out.” He touches his fingers to his neck, where Gerard can see the fresh bite marks. “So he's a vampire.”
After a long silence, Victoria admits, “I can't tell.”
“You can't tell if he's been turned?” Pete is staring like he's waiting for the rest of the joke.
“I can't tell either,” Gerard admits. He'd been hoping he wouldn't have to admit defeat, but at least he's not the only one.
“He has fangs,” Pete says. “I felt them.” His fingers go for the wounds on his neck again.
“Well, then if he's been turned, there's something very wrong with the magic,” Victoria says.
Pete growls and punches the wall, and then he advances on Gerard. “Will you take the case?”
“I don't know if there even is a case, Pete. He could have done this himself, under his own will.”
“Gerard,” Pete says, and it's a plea.
The doorbell rings once, and then again.
“Do you want me to get that?” Hamilton asks. Gerard had almost forgotten his valet was still there.
Gerard nods. Pete probably scared all his staff off with the screaming.
“I'll do what I can,” Gerard says, but he's not even sure Pete's listening. Pete's looking at the new hole in the wall, and the syringe Victoria is preparing. “I'll need to consult with the Blind Order.”
“Do whatever you need,” Pete says in a sudden, bright fervor.
Harper breaks the moment by reappearing with the messenger at the door. “For you, Mr. Wentz,” the messenger says, handing an envelope to Pete.
The messenger nods to Gerard, and Gerard startles and blinks.
“I know you,” he says. “You're - ”
“Frank,” the messenger says. “From Pencey. You followed the chaise lounge into my apartment this evening.”
“I did,” Gerard says. “Has it been back?”
“No,” Frank says. “And I'm not sorry to see it gone.”
“Thirsty,” Patrick moans.
Frank the messenger seems anxious to leave, and Gerard feels the same.
“I'll be in touch, Pete,” Gerard says. But Pete doesn't even seem to register that he's spoken. He's opened the envelope Frank has brought and he's staring at a small card. He blinks a couple of times and then hands it to Gerard.
It's a tarot card. The Tower.
“What the fuck is this?” Pete says.
“Abrupt and jarring movement caused by unforeseen and traumatic events,” Harvey says. “Not one of the nicer Tarot cards, that's for sure.”
“Who sent this?” Pete demands from the messenger.
Frank shrugs. “No return address.”
“Come on, let's let the patient get some rest,” Victoria says, momentarily diffusing the odd, unsettling tension. “Just keep an eye on him, and let me know if anything changes.”
“Yeah,” Pete says. “Yeah, I'm never letting him out of my sight again.”
Gerard's relieved to get out of there, but the feeling of unease follows him as he examines the Tarot card again. He almost jumps out of his skin when Frank touches his arm.
“Sorry,” Frank says, jerking back. “Sorry, I just wanted to ask.....if you'd caught the chaise lounge.”
“No,” Gerard says. “It's still out there.”
“Creepy,” Frank says.
“Are you ready, Mr. Way?” Heath asks.
“Yes,” Gerard says distractedly. “Frank?”
“Yeah?” Frank says.
“I'll, uh, I'll let you know. When I catch the chaise lounge.”
“Thanks,” Frank says, and beams at Gerard. “See ya.”
"Hey," Pete says, pulling his chair up close to Patrick's bedside. "Hey, I'm gonna read to you, ok? remember, like we used to?"
Patrick only tosses fitfully, but Pete can work with that. He can consider that agreement.
"Right? I used to get freaked out about the Clan Code and you'd get me to slow down by reading what I'd written. Reading it back to me. Your voice was soothing. Is soothing. Jesus," Pete says, scrubs his face. "Now it's my turn, ok? I know I don't have a soothing voice but I like the sound of it, you know?"
He doesn't get a laugh, not that that joke ever would have gotten a laugh out of Patrick. Rolled eyes maybe, a sigh. Patrick looks entirely unlike himself.
"OK, here, I'll read you some fairy tales, ok? I can't screw those up."
Pete pages through the Young Midnighter's Guide to Responsible Rituals, the first thing he grabbed from the bookshelf. "Ok, here, this is a good one," he says. "Nee Rein and the Alabaster Arena. I think it's good, I don't actually remember all of these. And some of them aren't even really fairy tales, just folk tales, and scare your kids into behaving kind of things, right, Trick?"
"Mmm," Patrick says, more a sound than a word, but it's too, too much like the sound he made after he drank from Pete. Pete shivers and starts reading.
"Nee Rein was the guardian of the village's only holy well. Village, huh?" Pete says, already breaking composure, "Do you think she means, like, the Village, Greenwich Village? Or is this a metaphorical village?" He gets no response and turns back to the page. "She was appointed guardian when the previous guardian returned to the sea. The sea, huh, Trick," Pete says, "Do you think she was a mermaid?" Nothing. No response at all. "Ok, ok. Nee Rein guarded the holy well for countless cycles and opened it at each of the quarter and cross quarter days, and sampled the water from a thimble. The water always tasted pure.”
Patrick makes a sound, and Pete has the eerie feeling it's in response to him saying 'taste.'
"The village soon became crowded after many cycles, and dwellings were built closer and closer to the holy well. If any house came too close, it would taint the magic of the well. So Nee Rein went to a sorcerer and asked her to build a small house for the well, so that it might be protected.
The sorcerer granted Nee Rein this magic, and built for her a house for the holy well.
But the villagers were vain and protested that the modest house built for the well was ugly, and didn't fit with the aesthetic of the village.”
Pete stops. "Do you think that's a translation issue. Do you think they used 'aesthetic' back then? Back....whenever this story was written? I bet it's a translation thing, I should check on that." Patrick turns fitfully. "Sorry sorry, there's more story, don't get upset Trick, don't you want to know what happens?
Nee Rein went to the sorcerer again and asked that she build a house for the holy well that would please the villagers. The sorcerer granted Nee Rein this magic. But soon the villagers all wanted to live in this house, which they thought was better looking than their houses.
So Nee Rein went to the sorcerer once more and asked if there was something that would be beautiful enough for the villagers but not ignite their jealousy.
The sorcerer granted Nee Rein this magic, and built an arena around the holy well. It was made of beautiful alabaster, and the villagers were pleased.”
“Something tells me they're not going to be pleased for very long, huh, Trick?”
Patrick's mouth parts to reveal his fangs. Pete quickly turns back to the story.
“Soon, the villagers decided they were not content to simply enjoy the beauty of the arena. They wanted to use it, for rituals and celebrations. After much meditation, Nee Rein decided to allow the villagers to use the arena, but only when the holy well wasn't open for one of the quarter days or cross quarter days.
However, the villagers had started to think of the arena as their own, and wanted to use it whenever they wanted, even when the holy well was open. Despite Nee Rein's protests, a large and drunken crown of villagers entered the arena on Beltane, and one villager stumbled and fell into the open holy well. Another villager, attempting to help the first, also fell in. Quarter day after cross quarter day, one and then two and then ten villagers fell into the well, until finally, no one came at all. The entire village had drowned.
Nee Rein returned to the sorcerer and asked her to return the arena around the holy well to it's original humble house. The sorcerer granted Nee Rein this magic, and Nee Rein guarded the holy well for countless cycles.”
“That's dark, man,” Pete says. “I don't remember these stories being so dark.”
“Thirsty,” Patrick murmurs.
“I'll read you another story, ok?” Pete says. He thinks he needs to get another book. The alabaster arena thing freaked him out. He thinks abruptly of the tarot card. The Tower. “What about history, huh?” he says, and he gets up and crosses to the bookshelf, trying to hide his edginess.
Outside the window, there's a zombie pacing back and forth, looking as though he's waiting for another order he can take literally. Pete watches a chaise lounge zoom by over the zombie's head. He wants to laugh but finds he just doesn't have it in him.