The air is humid and sticky as the mid day sun beats down upon Ryan and Shane. They just reached their hotel, and Shane has been nothing short of pissy since their arrival.
The location for the episode was none other than the Sorrel Weed House -- supposedly the most haunted house in Savannah. Ryan had been excited when he told Shane about it. Shane was less than enthused.
Walking up to the front desks and retrieving their room keys, Ryan turns to Shane and hands him his.
"Here man, lets go order some room service and get settled in. We don't have to be at the house til tomorrow," The shorter mans tone is chipper, trying to cheer the big guy up.
"Fuck this state," Shane grumbles, taking the card. They walk along the halls toward their room, which is situated on the first floor so that they wont need to use the elevators, "In fact, fuck this city in particular."
Ryan turns to look at him, eyebrows slightly cocked, "What's got you in such a pissy mood recently, dude?"
Shane gives an exasperated sigh and just looks at Ryan, "I hate this town."
"I wasn't aware you had ever visited before."
Shane shrugs, opening their door. Ryan barrels in, dragging their suitcases and placing them by the beds. Shane follows, proceeding to flop on said bed closest to the window, staring up at the ceiling, his expression still sour.
The flight wasn't too long, but it was cramped and Shane had been quiet most of the way over. Ryan just couldn't understand why he was so irritable. Unzipping his suit case, the shorter ghost hunter continued his thoughts aloud.
"So, why do you hate this place so much?"
Ryan's voice is curious, though he's not looking at Shane, instead busying himself with digging out toiletries and bringing them into the bathroom. Shane responds nonchalantly,
"It's not important. I just, I lost a bet once. The place leaves a bad taste in my mouth, is all."
Ryan steps out of the bathroom, shampoo and soap safely deposited in the tub and stands on the threshold of the doorway.
"You lost a bet," Ryan repeats. There's a slight chuckle under his breath but he senses this is a sore spot, so he decides not to poke fun. Shane just looks across the room at him, still laying on the bed and nods.
"Yeah. Was a long time ago. Don't worry about it, Ryan."
Ryan frowns but drops the subject. No point in making Shane angrier.
"You hungry, dude?" He says instead, gesturing to the little book by the hotel phone. Shane turns his head to look at it, considering the offer.
"Not really. Could go for a drink though."
Ryan nods, pulling out his own phone to toss a text to TJ and Mark who were situated in one of the other rooms.
-Hey guys, me and Shane are heading out for drinks. Are you two coming with?-
A moment passes before a return text is sent.
-Naw, you two go ahead. Mark says he wants to get some rest and I was planning on checking the equipment to make sure it arrived ok. I'm not really wanting a repeat of the last time we flew.-
Ryan chuckles, the memory still fresh.
-Yeah, that camera was expensive. I'll send you a text when we're back-
Shane shifts on the bed, sitting up. His lips are pulled into a frown, clearly focusing on some past memory. Yeah, drinks are probably a great idea, Ryan thinks. The return text beeps,
"Looks like it's just gonna be us tonight. Teej and Mark kinda want to settle in. Make sure the camera actually works this time."
Shane nods, still not looking at him. Ryan walks to the door and pauses as Shane rises wordlessly from the bed and follows. They make their way through the hotel towards the front, the silence stretching out until they're outside on the street. Ryan looks up at Shane,
"Well, since you've been here before, you lead the way big guy."
The sky is a splash of deep reds and oranges as the sun dips along the horizon. Shane turns his head to the right, gesturing for Ryan to follow.
"I know a good pub up this way," He finally speaks, "It's got a nice selection of beer and some nights there's even a live band."
Shane's lips curl into a small smile, but it looks almost bitter. They start walking, a few cars passing as they make their way there. Under his breath, Ryan hears him mutter.
"Johnny.... Fuck that guy!"
Ryan's gaze turns to Shane, "Who's Johnny?"
Shane's eyes are still ahead, "Nobody important. But still, FUCK him!"
Ryan wheezes a laugh, Shane's expression finally lighter than earlier. Eventually the two make their way there, Ryan opening the door and Shane walking in.
The pub is dimly lit, and there is a distinct smell of ash and cinder about it that has Ryan's hairs standing on end. It's a strange sensation. The decor is very western, he notes, as they make their way towards the counter.
Shane turns to the bar tender and orders a couple beers for the two of them. Then, he turns back to Ryan, flashing him the first genuine smile of the day.
Ryan grins up at him, taking the beer and popping the top, taking a long swig right there. The two then wade through the crowd, to look for a table.
His mood is sour. Shane knows he should be lightening up, but he just can't get that memory to leave him alone. It was a family heirloom, and realistically, he knew it was a bad idea.
The pressures of work at the time had him desperate, though. There is a good reason Shane doesn't do collection jobs anymore. They were never fun and he always felt like the bad guy, even if the people had agreed to the deal well beforehand.
No, Buzzfeed was a much better idea. Not to mention more fun. Shane lets his eyes fall onto Ryan who is looking around the room with a happy smile on his face. It still amazes Shane how this human had managed to grab his attention unlike any other human before him.
Ryan is brave. A lot braver than many other humans, and Shane often wonders to himself just exactly where that line between bravery and stupidity is drawn when it comes to the little guy. It's as if he has a lust for fear himself, what with how he's always throwing himself into things that terrify him, all for the sake of the show.
Shane doesn't mind though. Tomorrow, they'll start their investigation and he'll get to see Ryan freak out at all the creaks and sounds of the house, and Shane will get to enjoy every moment of it. If there happens to be any hungry or wayward entities, well, it's their funeral. No one touches Ryan. Not even Shane himself.
He finds himself echoing Ryan's smile, fondly.
Yeah, this job is much better than collections.
Shane walks forward, his eyes scanning the bar. As his eyes cast around, they meet with someone towards the back.
The man at the back smiles darkly, rising to his feet as Shane and Ryan approach.
He should be dead, Shane thinks. The man grins, his eyes darting between Shane and his shorter companion, the smile on his face light and smug,
"Oh, ho-ho... Come back for a rematch, have you?"
Shane spits through gritted teeth, "YOU!"
Upon the table beside him rests a shiny golden violin. Shane's eyes are drawn to it momentarily, and he feels a pull at his heart. As if in answer to the earlier thought of Shane's, the mans eyes flash momentarily red, the smile stretching wickedly. Ryan stiffens beside him, the smell of fear sparking in the air.
"Sh..Shane," Ryan stutters, unease coating his voice, "Who is he?"
Shane ignores him, his focus clear on the dark haired man in front of him, "So that's why... It makes sense I suppose. No mortal has ever been able to beat me. Yeah, I'll take your rematch."
Ryan's eyes dart to Shane, "Mortal? Shane-- What's going on, dude?"
The lanky man's expression is dark. Shane looks well and totally pissed off. There's a pause as the darker haired stranger trails a finger over the golden string instrument at his side, almost lovingly. Shane stiffens, and looks like he's about to deck the guy.
"Ryan.. Go wait outside. I'll be out in a second." His voice is low and warning.
"Dude... You're not planning on getting into a bar fight with this guy, are you. HR will have our heads."
Shane rolls up his sleeves, his eyes not leaving the stranger, "No. Johnny and I have some unfinished business to take care of. "
The man's eyes glint red again, a chuckle rumbling in his chest. Ryan's hand involuntarily grabs onto Shane's shirt. He doesn't move.
"So," Johnny says, eyes darting between Shane and his friend, "What will the stakes be this time, hmm?"
"I want my Golden Fiddle back, you swindler," Shane growls. Johnny closes his eyes, a laugh in his breath. Calmly, he responds,
"Tut tut, Devil... I won that fiddle fair and square."
"You lied about the stakes," Shane argues. Ryan's eyes are wide. Devil?
"You took the deal," Johnny rebuts, "So... Same stakes as last time, then?"
Shane just growls something low, the strangers hand outstretched. There is a moment of tension in the air before Shane grabs it and shakes, "Deal."
Ryan suddenly feels a weird pull as the room begins to get really hot around him. Fear and confusion fill Ryan's mind as he turns to his companion, anger now peppering the concoction. He wants answers.
"Shane! What the fuck is going on!" Ryan demands. Suddenly, a wave of vertigo hits him, the edges of his vision fuzzing, "Also.. I feel really weird right now."
Shane's eyes widen as he realizes what just happened. His eyes dart to Ryan in panic before returning to the man in front of them in rage. There's an unearthly quality to the dark tone of Shane's voice when he yells at the man in front of him, livid.
"Johnny, what the fuck do you think you're doing?"
The strange man, no--demon?- Turns to Shane, shrugging a hand out nonchalantly, and explains.
"Since you want the fiddle, then what I want is him."
Ryan, the vertigo forcing him to sit on the nearest bar stool, forces his gaze to the one called Johnny, his eyes widening, "M...me? What do you mean you want me?!"
Johnny laughs, a dark evil sound echoing around the room which has now gone nearly silent. He ignores Ryan, looking at Shane with an evil smirk,
"His soul is so sunny and bright. It's shiny.. just like my fiddle. A soul for the fiddle.. only seems fair. Those were the stakes before, remember?"
Shane glares at him momentarily before casting a look to his shorter confused companion.
"Don't worry Ry... I won't let him win this time," Shane's gaze returns to the demon in front of them as he continues, "I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't let anything hurt you. I'm not about to break that promise. We took an oath."
Johnny lets out a dark chuckle, "Then let's begin."
The room around them shifts and changes as the demon reaches for the golden fiddle and lifts it to his chin. Holding out his other hand, palm up, suddenly a matching golden bow materializes before them.
Johnny begins to play.
The sound is quick and dark, and vaguely familiar. Shane realizes it's the same tune as the one he played all those years ago. Johnny is mocking him with it, adding more complex melody than Shane used the first time, before transitioning into the happier tune that he beat Shane with before.
"Fire on the mountain, Run, boy, Run..." Johnny sings, his voice a weird eerie echo, his teeth now sharp, "Devil's in the pub with the setting sun..."
Shane's eyes darken as he listens, Ryan sitting on the sidelines, eyes wide with fear. The fiddle's tune dances around them, echoing through them. Johnny's eyes lock on the shorter man, he licks his lips hungrily,
"Ryan's in the hot pan, burning hell's coal."
The fiddle screeches darkly as they both listen on. Shane's expression is unreadable. Ryan is terrified. The vertigo amplifies as Ryan feels his eyes swim and the only thing he can focus on is the sound of the music playing.
"Soon I'll own both this fiddle and his soul."
As the rest of the song plays through, Shane's eyes go black. Normally, Ryan would be terrified, but it was as if the room was filled with a sedative of sorts. As if he's outside of his own body almost.
He has so many questions right now.
However, as the string music floods his ears, a couple realizations dawn on him.
1) Shane is a demon.
2) So is this 'Johnny' person.
and finally, 3) Shane is basically fighting for Ryan's soul and there is nothing he can do about this. He knows he should be angry. Shane basically lied to him. He's the very thing Ryan is most frightened of, and yet there he was, right beside him the whole time, lying about it.
But somehow he can't seem to bring his mind to care about that. There is a weird sense of calm as he waits out his fate.
Thoughts of Shane fill Ryan's head. His infectious laugh. The way his eyes crinkle and his wry grin as he does. The overwhelming calm he feels at haunted locales when he is next to the lanky sasquatch.
Then, the thought occurs to him that if he had to choose, he would much rather Shane own his soul than this other demon. What was that saying again? Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't?
Ryan grins at that thought. Shane has never hurt him. Shane makes him feel safe.
Wow. A demon makes him feel safe. Safe from ghosts and demons. The irony in that makes Ryan begin to laugh, sudden and almost hysterically. Shane turns to look at Ryan who is now bent over at the waste, holding his belly, tears beginning to wet his eyes as he laughs.
Johnny's song ends, his expression irritated.
"What's so funny?" He finally addresses the smaller man, his voice sharp and curt.
Shane just watches the exchange, his eyes going between a cackling Ryan and a pissed off Johnny. Finally, Ryan composes himself and tries to explain.
"Hehheh... heh.. No, it's just... It's funny," His gaze goes to Shane, eyebrow cocked and a smirk on his face. There is an irritation at the fact that Shane lied. But he's also amused.
"You know how afraid of demons I am, dude.... and," He begins to start chuckling again, but tries to stifle it and continue. There's a moment of laughter before he goes on "Heheh..and yet you're the one thing that makes me feel less scared of them," he laughs more. The two demons just stare in confusion as finally Ryan manages to compose himself. Then he turns his attention to Johnny, his voice dark and confident.
"We've been to so many locations, and all this time, Shane has remained adamant that nothing was there. Clearly that was a lie..."
Shane glances to Ryan a little sheepishly, eyes still black but in spite of that, he could see Shane looked guilty. Ryan continues, his attention still on Johnny, "But then, that got me thinking. Nothing has ever touched me or hurt me before, either. So what makes you think that this will be any different? I may not be as old as either of you both, but there is one thing I am sure of. I've known Shane for five years, and if anything, he is the most infuriatingly stubborn person I have ever met."
Ryan's eyes meet Shane's gaze, and he gives him a smile, "We made it out of the Sallie House alive, and that place was literally Hell, as far as I'm concerned. If Shane could protect me from that, then you know what that means, Johnny... You don't stand a chance."
Shane's sheepish expression melts into a smile at Ryan before turning his black eyes back on the demon before them.
"Johnny, I gotta say that you still play a good fiddle son. But Ryan here believes I'll win, so let me show you how it's done!"
Shane holds out his hand, summoning the old wooden fiddle from way back when. Its wood is black as ash, and it's bow is made of brimstone. Shane holds it close, eyes running over the charred surface. He looks at Ryan one last time, giving him a nod before turning a determined look to Johnny who sits down in the chair again, watching carefully.
Closing his eyes, Shane presses the instrument to his neck and begins to play. Suddenly music fills the room. It's different from last time; More complex to be sure but also happier. It rings of the experiences Shane has gone through. It hums of the hope for the future of both his life and Unsolved. It sings of the feelings Shane carries for Ryan.
Shane, unlike last time, begins to sing with it.
"Many years since last we played, you won my golden prize. You played the fiddle strong and well and fooled me with your lies. But things are different now, and I've come back to set it straight. Cuz Ryan's soul belongs to me, and that fiddle's mine to take!"
The strings are crooning loudly and harmonically as the lanky demon begins to dance as he plays, a smile on his face. His eyes opening to look at his adversary before casting a glance to Ryan.
"Fire in my heart, I sing this song." The fiddle dances the tune happily, "Johnny, this is where you went wrong."
Ryan looks at the demons expression as Shane sings, "Every single haunt we choose to go...."
Johnny's expression says he knows he's been beat. Shane finishes, "All of the ghosts and the demon's know..."
The fiddle croons out the last of the impromptu song, Shane's words a warning to the demon.
"This challenge that I took again, and any prize you choose... but the moment you asked for Ryan's soul you bet you're gonna lose."
The last of the song tapers off as Johnny looks between the two ghoul boys. Wordlessly, he picks up the golden fiddle and lays it at Shane's feet.
"I concede," Johnny says, a small smirk still on his face, "You are indeed a worthy challenger, Devil."
"The name is Shane," He says with a smirk, picking the fiddle up. Then, inexplicably, Johnny is gone.
Ryan feels a shift in the room as suddenly, the fuzz along the outside of his vision clears, and his emotions catch up with him. Shane turns to look at him, and Ryan looks back, slight fear prickling the back of his mind again. But just as quickly as the fear comes, so does the thoughts from before. Ryan takes a breath.
"You have some explaining to do... Devil."
Shane looks down, expecting the worst but Ryan places a hand on his shoulder, a small smile pulling the corner of his lips.
"Let's get some food."
There is a moment where they just stare at each other, before Shane says, "You're not angry with me?"
Ryan's grin widens, "Oh, I'm fucking livid with you. But you kinda saved my life, dude." Ryan turns his head back to where Johnny was moments ago before adding,
"AND-- I was right about demons and ghosts. So I can at least agree to give you a pass for now. But I want answers."
Shane nods as the two make their way to the door, his mothers golden fiddle finally back in Shane's hands. The demon knows the next few days are going to be long and probably difficult. Ryan is gonna grill him harder than he ever has, to be sure.
But the smile on the short ghost hunter's face gives him hope that things wont be so bad.