It’s early, but the temperature's already climbing high. That’s fine with Ghoul; he’s spent too many years in the cold, sterile hallways of Bat City to really mind the heat. He can handle the heat; it’s the waiting that gets to him.
His foot taps out an erratic rhythm on the floor and he strikes a match, watching the flame flicker for a brief moment before lighting his cigarette. He inhales, and the nicotine smooths out the rough edges of his temper.
Ghoul’s been motoring solo for a while now, and he misses having someone at his back, especially now that he's dealing with this new crew of 'runners. They've been stirring up a hornet's nest of trouble with BLI and that's a sure way to get ghosted.
But Dr. D had asked, and it isn't often that D asks for anything. So, here he is, hanging out in a deserted Fuck You House, an ancient ceiling fan barely moving the air around, the soft whir-click it makes grating on his already stretched nerves.
His fingers drift down to his holster, lightly touching the butt of his zapper.
Dewees brings him another drink, sets it down on the scarred wood table in front of him. "Thanks," Ghoul mutters, tipping the glass toward Dewees before knocking the alk back with a grimace. "What’s the story behind these guys, the—what are they calling themselves again?"
"The Fabulous Killjoys." Dewees pulls a chair out and drops into it.
“Stupid name,” Ghoul grumbles. “What the hell does that even mean?”
Dewees barks out a laugh. “You’ll see.”
“Known ‘em long?”
“Long enough,” Dewees says.
Which doesn’t answer the question, but Dewees is one of the few people in the Zones that Ghoul trusts. Not completely, because Ghoul doesn't trust anyone like that, but enough. “Fucker.”
Dewees shrugs and goes back to stocking the bar, glasses clinking.
He waits impatiently for another handful of minutes and just as he’s about to call it a day, take his crate of zappers and go, there’s the roar of an engine, tires losing traction in the gravel and dirt.
Ghoul jumps to his feet when the door bangs open, and there’s a tall figure silhouetted by the bright sunlight. He squints.
“Dewees, motherfucker, that last bit of intel was a bust!”
“I make no guarantees,” Dewees drawls. “As is, where is.”
The stranger chuckles, low and cocky. “I’ll remember that in the future.” He strides into the dimness of the bar and Ghoul blinks in surprise. The guy is lean and tall, and his hair is the most unnatural shade of red that Ghoul has ever seen. It’s long and unkempt and falling into his eyes; it suits him somehow.
A hip holster holding a yellow and black zapper catches Ghoul’s eye, and he just barely keeps his hand from twitching toward his own ray gun. Both the Doctor and Dewees vouch for this guy; he needs to stop being so jumpy.
“Hey, baby.” The guy grins at him. “Dewees, introduce me to your pretty friend. And bring us a drink.”
Dewees brings over a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of alk. He pours them both a shot and sets the bottle on the table between them. “Fun Ghoul, meet Party Poison, leader of the Killjoys and monkeywrencher extraordinaire. Poison, meet Ghoul, expert procurement specialist for anything that goes BOOM!”
“Fabulous Killjoys,” Poison corrects with a wink.
“Fuck off,” Dewees laughs. “The Fabulous Killjoys.”
Ghoul takes the hand that Poison’s offering, and instead of shaking it, Poison just holds on, rubbing his thumb over one of Ghoul’s tatts, the spiderweb. It sends a shiver of heat down Ghoul's spine.
He pulls away and reaches for the alk, ignoring the way his hand is shaking a little. Poison smirks at him and Ghoul has the sudden urge to punch his pretty face. He slams the shot back, gasping at the horrible burn that slides down his throat and pools in his belly. "Fuck, that's nasty."
Poison raises an eyebrow and tosses his own drink back with a shrug. "So, D says you got some zappers you wanna unload?"
Straight to business, then. "Yah. Standard BLI Drac issue, 36 to the crate, fully charged power packs."
"Niiiice," Poison says. "Show me?"
"Outside." Ghoul waves toward the back door.
The lee side of the Fuck You House is mostly surrounded by scraggly shrubs and a growing pile of junk—discarded appliances, wood and metal scraps, odds and ends. Ghoul pushes away some brush to reveal his crate, popping it open and stepping back. "Wanna try one out?"
Poison slants a grin at him. "Love to, baby, but you'll have to teach me how."
"What do you mean?"
With a laugh, Poison pulls his zapper out of his holster. It looks well used, scorch marks around the muzzle, chips on the paint. There's a loud click as Poison pops out the chamber where the power pack rests, and Ghoul can't believe his eyes, there's nothing in there.
"You've been running around with a zapper that doesn't even work?" Ghoul asks incredulously. "How the fuck—I mean, why haven't you been ghosted?"
Poison shrugs. "People make assumptions."
"No fucking shit." He's dumbfounded. "So you've never used a zapper before?"
"Insane." He's heard some of the stories about Poison's crew, and he doesn't understand how the dude is still alive. "You must be damn lucky."
The smile that slides across Poison's face is smug. "Sugar, you have no idea," he murmurs, looking Ghoul over from head to toe.
Ghoul can feel the blood rushing to his face; he turns and pulls a zapper out of the crate. "Well, I can give you a quick demo, just to show you the basics, yeah?"
Ghoul tries to ignore the way Poison's voice tightens something low in his stomach. "Roger dodger." He pulls his zapper, runs a fond finger over the green and white paint, pops the power pack to make sure it's charged. "Always make sure the power is full up, because you never know when you're gonna need that last bit of juice to get you through a gang of Dracs."
Poison copies Ghoul's motions, hands a little clumsy, but he manages to get the pack out. "Green for go, yeah?" he asks, tapping at the glowing charge indicator.
"Yeah," Ghoul agrees.
"And then it's just point and blast, yeah?" Poison takes aim at a hapless bush and pulls the trigger. And misses. By several meters.
"Fuck, you're a lousy shot."
"But not a lousy lay," he purrs, licking his lips. "Show me what I'm doing wrong."
"I don't have that kinda time," Ghoul snaps. He's only half joking.
"Show me," Poison repeats.
"Right." Ghoul holsters his zapper and kicks at Poison's foot. "Wider."
"That's what all the boys say."
Ghoul sucks in a breath at the image of Poison spread out on rumpled sheets— "Arms up, off-hand supporting your shooting hand." He makes an adjustment, checks the looseness of Poison's arm. "Don't lock your elbow, keep it relaxed. Zappers are bottom heavy; use that to your advantage."
"Oh, I'll definitely take advantage, baby."
Huffing, Ghoul eyes him. "Do you take anything seriously?"
"Not unless I have to."
"Hmmm." Ghoul looks over Poison's stance, dissatisfied. He sets his hands on Poison's hips, guiding him to center his weight. Deliberately, he doesn't think of how good Poison feels under his hands, how he wants to tighten his fingers until he leaves behind bruises. . .
He moves slightly behind Poison, bodies barely brushing. "Sight down the muzzle of the gun, take a deep breath, and slowly squeeze—don't pull—the trigger as you exhale."
Poison follows Ghoul's instructions and because he's better braced for the slight kick of the zapper, the shot doesn't go wild. It doesn't hit the target—the same poor bush—but it's closer. "Better," Poison mutters under his breath.
"Again," Ghoul says. "Stay relaxed." He needs to take his own advice, but it's difficult. This close, he can smell Poison, sweat and dust, the bright tang of gasoline, and not a trace of Bat City on him. It makes Ghoul want.
Poison flexes his hands on the zapper and shoots, hitting the bush dead center, leaving behind a singed hole. "Sweet," he crows. He turns, slips his fingers under Ghoul's chin and dips down for a kiss.
It's been so long that for a moment, Ghoul is frozen. He's hooked up with plenty of people, fast fucks in dark corners of bars and dirty alleyways, but this is different. He doesn't—this isn't—and then his body shoves his brain out of the driver's seat and takes control of the wheel.
He opens his mouth and Poison's tongue licks over his bottom lip before sliding in, wet and hot and filthy. They're only touching in two places, jaw and lips, but the connection is electrifying. He can't help the little noise he makes, breathless and needy, when Poison pulls away.
"How much for the crate?" Poison asks, voice ragged. He brushes his lips against Ghoul's ear, nips at the lobe.
"What?" Ghoul shakes his head, trying to shift gears. "I don't—"
"The zappers. How much?"
There's the faintest hint of a laugh in Poison's voice and it pisses Ghoul off. He shoves at Poison and lifts his chin. "How much you got?"
"Whatcha need? Intel, supplies, c's? Name your price and I'll see what I can do. Maybe even throw in something extra, special just for you." He arches an eyebrow.
Ghoul figures he ought to make Poison work for it. "500 c's, three cases of Power Pup, and all the intel you have on the Drac patrols running on Resurrection Road."
Poison laughs. "Oh, baby, I like the way you burn. Two cases of Pup, 300 c's and a Drac-map from Zone 4." He points toward the crate of zappers. "There's only 36 of 'em."
"With fully charged power packs. Three cases, 200 c's and the map."
"Deal. And I'll see what I can dig up on Resurrection." He grins. "For next time."
"You're a cocky motherfucker, aren't you?"
"Only when I see a sure thing." Poison spins the zapper on his finger and fires off a series of shots, not at the bush, but at a more distant target, a BLI smiley painted on a scrap of wooden board and nailed to a fence post. Every one of his blasts hit dead center.
Ghoul can't fucking believe it. "You—"
"Sorry, baby," Poison says, but he doesn't really look that sorry. "It's better if people underestimate me." He squints up at the sun, measuring. "I gotta go, meet you tomorrow with the goods, yeah? Two cases of Power Pup, 200 c's and the map."
"Three cases. Three, you fucking cheating bastard."
"Three." Poison nods and moves close, stealing another kiss, a quick press of lips. "I'll see you tomorrow, same time, same place." He puts the zapper back into the crate and heads into the Fuck You House.
In the doorway, he hesitates for a moment and looks over his shoulder at Ghoul. "Oh, if you ever get tired of running solo, you just let me know, baby. I got a place for you on my crew, anytime." He winks and is gone before Ghoul can react.
Ghoul takes a deep breath, and touches his lips; he can almost still feel Poison's mouth against his. "Fabulous Killjoys, indeed," he mutters. "I need a fucking drink."