The smell is what really sets the place apart. It's got a stench, a tang, an aroma, an odor, and a perfume all at once, and you could never mistake it for anything else. The thing lives and breaths just as surely as the people who live there, and it clings to you after you leave, because you never truly leave. That might be an okay thing though, because no one ever wants to leave.
The smell has layers to it, each carrying their own weight. The first is an aroma of food. All of the culture and life just bursting at the seams, coming out in the many different types of dishes that you can taste simply by inhaling. The meats and cheeses and fishes that put you into any place you could possibly imagine while keeping you very firmly grounded in reality.
Right under that is the tang of alcohol, ranging from the wines to the beers to the hard liquor served in every store front. If you spent too long with it in your nose and in your brain, it's said you could get drunk. Maybe that was incorrect, but it certainly felt true, and everyone went about with such ease that they might as well have been drunk.
Just beneath this layer, you can catch the perfume of the cigarette smoke that laces every alley and street. Always, it hangs in the air like a different kind of smog. Perhaps that's why people here have such short life expediencies, all that second hand smoke has to go somewhere. But it's such an intoxicating blend of spice and nicotine that no one wants it gone, not really.
The stench that it covers up however, that people say they could do without. Because then you get to the raw sewage and rotting masses of who knew what that infests the streets, clogging up the arteries of the place, choking it. Yet it gives the place a pop of color that it would miss were it to vanish. So most are willing to put up with it.
And through it all is the odor of the sea’s briny sting, which ties it all together.
Together, this is the smell of the city. This is the smell of New Orleans.
When you walk through the streets, with their narrow winding allies that turned into sideways, to streets, that lead into allies once more, you can find any number of places. Some are beautiful, others are unassuming. The Black Penny, is one of these places, a bar like the million others that crowd the city. This particular place is closer to the dikes and dams that keep the place from flooding. It's nicer, slightly, or at least, it was at one point. Now, it's run down and tired, much like the people who work within. Those who aren't entirely dead are getting out, going to different places. Moving up in the world.
Because in New Orleans, if you move down, you hit the silt and drown.
However that is not where our story takes place, no, we must set this sad place aside for the beginning is in a much brighter place. Instead we must follow the scent of the city, because the smell seems to have an epicenter. Though it's hardly the source, it produces it like no place else. It's at the heart of the French Quarter, and Bourbon Street is the name, with it's strip clubs and bars and sex shops that are lit with glowing neon at all times a day. There’s a reputation that precedes it as the place where how much liquor you can hold is considered a prize and the money in your pockets seems to evaporate into thin air as soon as the stage lights come on.
There's actually a life expectancy for the street alone, with fifty being considered a ripe old age. And yet no one seems eager to leave.
It's a place of living fast a dying young, but no one cares. Not that you'd be able to tell, at any rate.
If you travel to the center of this experiment in human debauchery, you’ll find a palace unlike any other. One decked in gold, one that’s as enchanting as it is enticing. This is the home of an exotic enigma, a gold flecked god who has been rightfully crowned the king of any heart that enters his palace. With sun kissed skin, ebony hair and crystal blue eyes like you're looking into the finest sapphire.
You can catch a glimpse of him through the doors at times, body overflowing with jewels and golden bands, muscles rippling in the light. The strong scent of vanilla, cinnamon and alcohol fill the club he calls home, and with his sultry glances, he lures in men and women of all persuasions.
Because here in The Kings Quarry, you either bend to the will of his siren call or find yourself crushed outside on the rocky steps of his doorway. Everybody knows the saying; you never cross the Bourbon Street King, and if you do, god rest your sorry soul.
When you come to the door, there are solid walls of muscles that block your way, Bouncers that keep out everyone but those who belong in the den. But if you manage to get through the door, the first thing you'll see is gold everywhere. The walls, the counters, the hands and bodies of the people who give you dark eyes, all drip with gold. It's blinding and beautiful, lavish and extravagant in a way that only New Orleans will allow. If you can make it inside, you won't ever want to leave.
Tonight, it’s hitting every note, with it’s thrumming music and glowing gold. It’s a night like any other, and yet around here, every night feels special.
Currently, one of the lesser deities of the place is dancing. With his sandy blond hair and freckled skin, Kenny is putting on a show for sure. You can see it in the way he looks at the men and women around the stage. Watch me and only me. It's hard to believe there's someone better than this man, something more intoxicating.
But everyone knows why people really gather here.
Kyle isn't facing the stage when he asks the question, he's sitting at the bar, a hand hovering over the glass in front of him. His curly red hair tumbles in his face, and his emerald eyes remain fixed on his drink. His words however, they're directed at the only person who could possibly be listening to him.
Damien's answer doesn’t make much sense given how busy the club is, but usually, the place is even fuller, with people crowding just to catch a glimpse of one of the gods that inhabit these halls. Tonight, it's admittedly quiet, which incidentally, is how Kyle likes it. Damien likes it this way too, mostly because he doesn't have to deal with too many mortal idiots. Funny that he'd say it like that, considering this town is closest to the edge of death.
Kyle stops stirring his drink, and he looks up at Damien with a critical eye. Whatever flits through his head seems to work itself out however, and he's back to his alcohol, which he lifts up and examines in the dripping golden lights. Because everything there is gold, gold and black and opulent. The liquor glitters in his fingers, a rich, amber glow cast across his freckled skin, then it's disturbed as he puts the glass to his lips and lets a few drops trickle over his tongue. It burns, and he savors that feeling.
The lights on the stage dim as the blonde finishes his spin on the golden center stage and the thrum of the base fades into the background. Kenny hops off his godly pedestal and makes his way into the crowd, almost like a god greeting his followers. There are many who reach out to him, but more are already sitting forward in anticipation, ignoring the blond in favor of what is about to happen next.
Kyle looks up too. He and anyone with a brain in their heads have their eyes trained on the stage, the one that’s slowly filling with fog. The fog slowly spills over the edge, tumbling into the crowd and mixing with the cigarette whisp that fill the place. Then the lights begin to dim around the stage once more and everyone holds their breaths.
A golden spot light cuts through it all like a knife. The steady beat of Pour It Up by Rihanna starts to fill the air and spread through the club. As the tempo picks up, the lights lining the edge of the stage blaze to life one by one, starting at the edge and running towards the center until the whole thing glows in gold. The base continues to build, thrumming through the club in preparation for the glistening blue eyed god about to enter. Kyle leans forward in his seat, grabbing the edge of the bar.
And then, he emerges. As a new song starts up, the hips of the gold-flecked god flicker through the haze.
Gold paint drips over the muscular, curved hips of a faceless figure, his features still hidden by fog. Only his lower half is illuminated in the spotlight, but already it’s clear that the King has arrived. As Bounce It starts up and Juicy J begins to rap in the background, his sun kissed abdomen comes into the light. The stage is already full of bills as those thick thighs spread and a tanned hand makes it to the waistband of the glistening lingerie that clung to his skin. Oh, it’s a show, but that’s what they’re paying for.
The light finally snags on a bright white smirk, slowly followed by heavy bedroom eyes lined with gold. Sapphire-blue eyes glisten under the warm spot light as the god rolls his body and hits his knees on the stage, dropping to all fours where he stretches that tanned and luminous body, earning a roar from the hungry crowd. The golden deity crawls forward to greet a random customer who sits drooling in the front rows, looking like he is descended from the jungle beasts he seems to mimic. Those hips snap upward and his cheek presses to the stage as he arches his back. Slowly he parts his lips, allowing a soft moan to be heard by those closest.
This is the King of Bourbon Street, long may he reign.
From behind the bar, where he watches with fiery eyes, Damien snorts. The sound's aimed at Kyle, who doesn't bother to turn towards him. His fixed attention isn’t without reason. Not many know everything about the past between the redhead and the god on stage, but this particular bartender clearly does, it's obvious in the way his eyes watch Kyle's face like a hawk.
"Beautiful as ever."
"Fuck... Uh, y-yeah."
Funny how the gold covered man on stage can leave even Kyle Broflovski dry-mouthed and at a loss for words. Hands covered with thin, shimmering gauze drag over that tawny skin sinfully, and even Damien, who's clearly accustomed to the display, spends a few moments watching the god at his best and his most sinful. There's no pole tonight, this is a different kind of dance, and it feels more intimate, with the smaller crowd and the pulsing lights. Almost too intimate.
Damien looks back at the counter. A small tongue of fire lights at the end of a finger and burns the napkin some idiot had left behind, with their number messily scrawled onto the wrinkled paper. Unsurreptitiously, he brushes the ashes off the golden countertop.
Kyle says the words like he's not sure why he's speaking. In return, Damien eyes him sharply with narrowed eyes. Despite the bartender’s reaction, the redhead’s words are true, the man on stage is limping. It's hardly noticeable, and he's doing a good job of making it seem intentional, but to the trained eye, it's obvious. Even though he's the one who said the words, Kyle doesn't seem to expect an answer, and Damien doesn't seem about to give one. That being said, just behind those emerald eyes, the words Why do you let him do that to you? run through Kyle's mind.
Though the golden paint keeps it behind a mask, there are bruises on those hips, hidden from sight. They dip down like dripping paint, and trail over his ass. At the top, they’ve almost got a dark beauty, but as these things do, they get nastier as they migrate around between those powerful thighs. Not that anybody would ever know, nobody is allowed close enough to even guess. The punishment to so much as touch the stage is so severe that no one in their right mind is about to disobey that rule. Especially with Damien's watchful eye on the stage and Kenny's knife wielding figure watching over each guest who makes a single move towards that imaginary line.
It’s an unspoken law of the club that nobody's hands are to ever dare to grace the skin of the King and that is partially because nobody can afford it. Though, that also happens to be due to the fact the owner of the club will strip the flesh on your hand down to the bare bones for daring to even think of trying it.
The only one allowed to touch that skin is him. At night, the one to make this golden god scream is none other than the crew cut blonde with a fist of iron. The Lion in a city of rats.
He’s got a scar over one eye, stretching from his eyebrow to his upper lip. The mark is etched deep, the knotted skin around it always looks cruel. It’s obviously from a run in that was intended to kill the man. No doubt some wish they’d succeeded. The scar hid a single milky eye, paired with a bright blue one. Together, they accompanied the heavily tattooed man who was never seen without a suit that likely cost the same as a home's down payment.
Chaos, for that’s who the man was, is a well known club owner, respected and feared by most. He not only owns the club, but half of the street as well. His family is old and his money endless. But in here, his reputation is of a slightly different nature.
He has a habit of laying claim to his pets and bending them over his desk whenever it strikes his fancy. His flavor of the month is the current god on the stage, and those who snidely remark on such things like to say he’s using his thick length to treat his pretty boy right.
The problem with this habit shows through at times like this, however, in the way he’d left the gorgeous boy boneless right before a show. Seeing as Stan’s the club’s main attraction, it’s hardly a wise business decision, but how could anyone resist an ass that fantastic?
The redhead still sitting at the bar knows that the bruises are becoming more and more common. Stan’s always hated taking orders, and his defiance and fire had no doubt led to him mouthing off at Chaos once more. Unfortunately, the club’s owner had finally put a stop to that today. He'd spent the night with the boy screaming beneath him, and that’s enough to teach anyone a lesson.
Kyle can tell something’s more off than usual the second Stan winces in the middle of his act. He never flinches. What did that bastard do?
It had been Kyle, once upon a time, who'd been the arbiter of that gorgeous creature on stage, but they'd both agreed that a pseudo business relationship involving fucking and protection just didn't feel right. They belong as friends, and Kyle usually seems happy with this, but it's at times like this that one realizes that the redhead hasn't quite gotten over those protective urges.
Kyle’s observation draws the bartender’s attention.
"He's always bruised."
Damien stresses the word always ever so slightly, and that's what makes Kyle's head turn. Everyone knows what Leo is capable of, and no one's particularly eager to challenge him, but it's times like this where it's clear that some are more eager for things to be overturned than most. Except... the moment passes, and Kyle roughly grabs for his drink and washes down the bitterness in the air with the bitterness laced with ice.
"The day he tells me to make it stop will be a bad one."
Kyle winces at his own words, clearly the sentence came out wrong. But he doesn't retract it. He just leaves it hanging there damningly instead, and that's where it stays. Damien blinks once, then goes back to mixing a drink for the girl at the other end of the bar. His fingers are almost as quick as the music, which has Stan undulating on stage. The way the gold flashes is so hypnotic, but he falters again, and Kyle's fingers grip his glass a little harder.
Knuckles whiten, clenching over condensation and fragile glass, then he releases his grip and takes a breath. That’s when Damien decides to change the subject.
"I thought you'd made up your mind to frequent other establishments instead."
Kyle lets out a soft sigh that's drowned out by the voice of Rihanna from the stage.
"The Black Penny’s closing soon."
His eyes wander back up to Stan, then to the shadowed door that anyone with half a mind would dread. God forbid those moments where it opens. Heaven help whoever’s dragged through as well like a lamb to the slaughter.
The redhead clears his throat.
"And I couldn't stay away."
At least, Damien thinks, as Kyle somberly watches the god of the city throw his head back, exposing his long neck. He's honest.
Which is more than you can say for most of the people in that club.
As the song comes to an end Kenny makes his way to stage and wraps a golden robe around the crowd’s beloved king before guiding him backstage away from his cheering subjects. It’s always the end of his act, getting pulled off stage like his beauty has to be protected. It does, but Kenny has other reasons.
The moment they’re in the back room, the sandy-blond sits Stan down on one of the lavish couches and doesn’t even give him a moment to breathe before speaking to him gently.
"Strip Stan, we have to get you cleaned up. Before Chaos-"
"Before I what, Ken?"
Leo stands there, leaning against the doorway as he watches Stan and Kenny look up at him as though they have committed treason. Well, they might as well have. There’s so many unspoken rules, is it any wonder they’re instantly on their guard. But Chaos doesn’t act like he notices this. Instead, he simply purrs, the words dripping from his mouth easily.
"Before I see how beautiful my boy is?"
The man grins as he witnesses the way Stan quakes under his gaze. God, finally. Took him long enough to realize who owns him.
"Get lost Angel, you have to get ready. I'll take over the care of my pretty little King."
He watches as Kenny straightens up and scurries off out the door and away from sight. Stan trembles harder on the couch and tries to stand, but those legs give out beneath him as Leo catches his hair in that rock hard fist. Pulling back up on the hair of the boy beneath his thumb, he looks over that paling face with cold eyes, seeing what has become of him.
"I want you clean and over my desk in an hour, is that clear pet?"
Demanding and harsh don’t even begin to describe his voice. But when you’re this powerful, it doesn’t matter what you sound like, people are going to listen. Stan listens. They always listen. Well, he didn’t before, but times have changed.
"Yes Sir. Of course Sir."
The little king reply is so timid, it’s hardly audible, but all the same, he’s dropped back to the floor.
“ What a good boy .”
Finally, Leo leaves the room.
At once, Stan gets out his phone and sends a quick text to Kyle.
Stan: [Hey Ky I can't come over, I'm staying the night again. Extra practice :^) Love you dude, see you tomorrow]
Kenny steps back on stage, and Kyle's phone buzzes in his pocket.
Fuck. He doesn't draw it out. Damien notes this as he walks a drink over to someone else. Keeps the corner of his eye fixed on the man and knows that Kyle's resisting the urge to check. Well the redhead is. He's trying to focus on Kenny, but he can't. Not when he already knows what that text is going to say. The same thing it's said the past few days. There's so much frustration in Kyle's body, he looks like he wants to cry.
But he doesn't.
From the stage, Kenny's eyes sweep the crowd and catch Kyle’s. The man's just sitting there, the dancer notes. Though he doesn't mean to, a sudden well of bitterness taints the Angel's air, and Kenny spends a millisecond reeling it back in. As though he can sense it from the bar, Kyle's eyes drop, and he palms his phone almost guiltily. You're letting him die, Is what Kenny's eyes had said. You're standing by as he's destroyed.
The man at the bar reads the text once. Twice. Damien returns and reads it over his shoulder. After seeing the words, the bartender makes up his mind to send Stan another bottle tonight before he's subjected to whatever torture is in store for him. Even though he's fueling the man's already rampant alcoholism, Damien's got a twisted view of the world, and some things are just worse than others.
Suddenly, the room chills.
A shadow steps out from that dreaded door, and Damien makes a point of not looking up. Kyle however gives in, and he stares at Chaos with sharp green eyes.
"Call me in the morning to come pick him up."
From the corner of his mouth, Kyle says the words bitterly. As something inside him drops defeatedly, he tacks on the regretful words that he hates to say.
"Cause you know he won't."
Of course Stan wouldn't. Damien knows it just as well as the man's friends do. So he simply nods once, and some of the tension in Kyle's posture relaxes, but none of the anger goes away. Someday, someone's going to die. In this land of the dead, it's only a matter of time before the bone hits the cobble. That day isn't today though, and Chaos vanishes once more.
Damien grabs the glass out of Kyle's hand and replaces it with another. The dulled blue of the drink looks acid green in the golden light.
"You need something stronger."
Kyle doesn't disagree. He just lifts the glass and drinks.