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The Vampire Barber of Fleet Street

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You and your boyfriend are sitting together in drama class, savoring the little free time you have before class when the instructor is teaching and has to split up couples to keep them from being all over each other. Despite this, you love theater as it’s fun-plus you get to be with your hubby. And Duke even likes theater too, despite what one would think. You sit in front of him as he plays with your hair.

“Your hair is so fluffy and soft!” Duke said.

“Thank you.” you say blushing. “I mean, it wasn’t always that way, my mom only stopped washing my hair for me this school year!” you whispered.

“Huh. I assumed longer than that. Either way.” He plants a kiss on the top of your head and embraces you.

“Even if you weren’t in this class Duke, I’d still love it. It allows me to be involved in theater even though I have no time for the actual thing or plays and am intimidated by hardcore theater kids.”

Duke chuckled. “Honestly, I never thought I’d admit this, but this is my favorite class. Like I’d also join theater, but….I don’t know if I’d...gel with the theater kids either. Plus Dad wouldn’t let me hear the end of it. Mrs. Hernandez is hilarious and fun! She’s like the ONLY teacher at this school I don’t want to kick in the shin! Well, aside from Mr. Steinbeck.” Duke looked back and forth before whispering into your ear. “Plus I wish she was my mom.”

“Why thank you for those encouraging words, Duke!” You and Duke turned around to see Mrs. Hernandez standing right next to you. “Okay. Everyone stand up, no one touching one another, warm up time! Especially couples.”

Duke sighed. “Farwell, my beloved. We shall meet again soon!” He blows you a kiss.

“Mr. Devouts! Find your own space!”

“Yes Mom-I mean, m’am!”

After some stretches, fun games, and tongue twisters, you all sit down on the stage. Mrs. Hernandez begins to speak.

“Okay, so I have some disappointing news. Our lead for the spring play production of Sweeney Todd broke his foot so he will be unable to perform. His understudy also has the flu. If you know anyone who would be interested in taking the role, please let me know as soon as possible. Like the saying goes-the show must go on! Unless we cannot find a part, because if we can’t we might have to cancel the show. And I REALLY don’t want to do that! Never in my 40 years of teaching have I ever had to cancel a show! I hope to never have to break that streak!”

Everyone murmurs a bit and you give Duke an expectant look.

“What?”

“I think you could do it!” you whisper.

Duke widens his eyes. “Are you kidding?!”

“You have an amazing singing voice! And don’t you like horror movies and stuff?”

“But...but….I don’t know about PERFORMING…in front of people in this town….”

“But if even if you weren’t performing in front of people from here would you still do it?” you ask.

Duke blinks and considers this. “Well…”

“Would you?” you hiss.

“Would you do what?” asked Mrs. Hernandez. Everyone turned around to look at you and Duke. Duke blushed slightly, twiddled his fingers and looked around.

“Nothing, miss.” he looked down.

Mrs. Hernandez nodded. “Okay.” she said, not fully convinced. “Now onto today’s assignments…”

*THE END OF CLASS*

After class, you walk over to Duke.

“Hey. If you’re interested in trying out for the play, you should talk to Mrs. Hernandez before class ends. Are you interested? I mean, I don’t want to pressure you into anything.”

Duke sighs, and he pulls you over to an obscured part of the auditorium. “Well….yeah actually. Admittedly….I do like theater. Okay, I love it. But…” he blinks and looks away and exhales. “...my dad….he’d be on my ass if he knew I was into theater!”

“What’s wrong with doing theater?!” you ask indignantly.

“Nothing! He just thinks all guys should be athletes! Hell, when we first moved here, he dragged my ass to try out for the football team.” Duke sticked out his tongue and made gagging noises. “I totally half assed it. Then he dragged me to try out for the hockey team. Then the basketball team. Then the soccer team. Then the track team. Track team wasn’t AS bad as I run pretty damn quickly enough as is, but he didn’t want me showing off because… you know.” he looked to his left, and blinked at you, code for “he didn’t want our vampirism exposed.”

“It’s not like he could do anything about it, right? Like would he ground you or punish you or some crap?”

Duke chuckled. “No! Like….I mean, he’d definitely laugh in my face or give me a hard time about it. The only thing he’s been more stringent on are being home before curfew after that time I spaced on him and work.” He shrugged. “He’s not a control freak…..though….he doesn’t get why I’m hanging out with sophomores being a senior….especially ones who aren’t popular or jocks…” Duke grumbled. “And he may be getting a little suspicious of you.”

“Oooh.” You sigh and look around.

“Don’t worry about it. I know how to get stuff by him without him finding out.” He chuckles. “I’ve been doing it since 6th grade. Hell, maybe even earlier than that.” Duke stroked his chin. “Okay, maybe since 1st grade.” The bell rings. You poke Duke in the side.

“Go! Opportunity knocks!” Duke meagerly walks up to Mrs. Hernandez who is talking with another student. Duke scratches the back of his head then starts pressing his index fingers together.

“.....but yes, I am certainly looking forward to your ideas of transferring ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ into a cyberpunk universe! Keep up the good work, Alyssa!” She turns around to Duke.
“Yes Duke?”

Duke cleared his throat. “Um….I’d like to….audition...for the play….thing….”

“Sweeney Todd?” inquires Mrs. Hernandez.
“Yes! Sweeney Todd!” Duke chuckles awkwardly. “When….are your….next auditions?”

“After school today at three o’clock sharp. Have you prepared a monologue? Are you familiar with the play material?”

“Yep! Actually, no! I can print out a monologue! Or find something that I’ve memorized from somewhere! I’ll do it my next free period!” He chuckled. “Love the movie! Took a date to it once…”

“You are well aware that we’ll be basing this more on the musical itself, right? The stage version.”

Duke blinked then laughed. “Oh….right, of course! I’m down with that! See you after school today!”

“Looking forward to it, Mr. DeVouts!”

You two walk out of the auditorium briskly to your next class. Duke sighed and groaned into his hands loudly.

*AFTER SCHOOL*

You and Duke walk to the auditorium, holding hands. He is doing deep breathing exercises. You pat him on the back.

“I’m here for you. Remember, imagine the audience in their underpants!”

“Sure, so I can either throw up in my mouth or burst into uncontrollable laughter.” snarked Duke.

You giggled. “Just remember-BE Sweeney! Envision yourself in the role, imagine the scenery around you. You’re not in high school, you’re the vengeful barber!” You pull him into a kiss, only to be interrupted by Mrs. Hernandez’ cheery demeanor.

“Hey hey, break it up you two! We are not auditioning romantic leads! Duke! Are you ready?”

Duke nodded and got up onto the stage. Without missing a beat, he performed a monologue from The Goodfellas. You and Mrs. Hernandez clapped when he was finished.

“Okay, but can you sing?”
“Can I whu?”

“Sing.”

Duke sighed, looked around nervously inhaled and went into a rendition of a song from Phantom of the Opera. While you’ve heard Duke sing before that time you two babysat Russell’s cousins, this was different. As there was no else around, so you were able to take in his voice more. Mrs. Hernandez sat awestruck while you closed your eyes, blushing. After he finished, he took a bow and Mrs. Hernandez ran up to him.

“YOU! ARE! OUR NEW SWEENEY TODD!” she cried. You run up to Duke and hug him tightly and laugh. Duke smiles.

“Wow. I….didn’t actually think I’d get the part. I was just wondering if I could...like I love theater but….” Duke looked downwards.

“You fear people will think you are not ‘masculine’ enough if you embrace doing what you love?” asked Mrs. Hernandez.

“Yeah….wait, how did you know?? I didn’t even say-” Duke sputtered.

“I could tell. Duke, I’ve taught many students over the years, with a similar situation like yours. Don’t bow into pressure from others. Do. What. You. Love.”

Duke blinked and smiled. “Thanks Mrs. Hernandez.” Mrs. Hernandez gave Duke a paper, with all of the upcoming rehearsals.

“I will see you this week and in class. Have a marvelous day!”

Duke nodded and smiled. “Same to you. My pleasure.”

You and Duke walk to his car with your arms around each other smiling. Duke looks at his schedule and smiles.

“I am so frigging proud of you!” you squeal. “You are going to be AMAZIIIIING! Mrs. Hernandez totally sees your potential!” You two climb into his car.

“Thanks babe. You were the one who inspired me to go through with it. Now I just have to look at these dates and arrange my schedu-AUUUURGH!” Duke slammed his head on the car horn, creating a loud beep that sent the janitor into a panic, running faster to his car than usual.

“What’s wrong?”

Duke groaned. “My dad. Work. Some of these rehearsals I won’t be able to make. Like some of them are mandatory….and….trying to get Dad to let me miss some days of work will be out of the question….especially as he’s on my ass since that time I forgot I had to help him with a project because he sucks at carpentry... URRRRRRGH!” You pat him on the back. “The only trait or talent my dad actually LIKES about me is that I am good with building, tools, carpentry, architecture, etc.” He exhaled and folded his arms, placing his head into them.

“Maybe your dad and Mrs. Hernandez could have a meeting to discuss this…”

“ARE YOU KIDDING?!?! He would have her in tears! He doesn’t listen to anyone!”

“You don’t know until you try…..maybe she can put him in his place…”

“And I can fart a rainbow out of my ass. And our next rehearsal is…..in TWO DAYS??! AUUUUUURGH!”

“Or I could talk some sense into him with you!”

“Do you have a death wish?! He’ll figure out we’re dating, find you to be a bad influence, erase our memories, and move us again!”

“Then we’ll schedule the meeting…”

“NOOOOO!”

“Duke, do you want to be in this play? How much do you want to be in this play?”

Duke sighed. “More than anything in the world. Aside from, being with you forever of course….”

“Then we’re gonna do the safer of the two options. I can tell Mrs. Hernandez to schedule a meeting with your Dad, but have her not say it was my idea, but yours instead. I have faith in her.”
Duke sighs. “Fine. Good luck getting him to leave work at a reasonable hour.”

“I will not let you down, Pookie.”

After your beloved dropped you off at your house, you ran straight to your computer and composed an email to Mrs. Hernandez and Duke. You were not going to let his father control every aspect of his life. The show must go on!

*TWO DAYS LATER*

At the end of the day, you bump into Duke in the halls. He’s looking anxious.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Any news from your dad?”

Duke exhaled. “We’re meeting after school.”

“YESSSSS!” you run into Duke and hug him tightly and kiss him on the cheek.

“Hold your applause….like he’ll even show up….”

“Worth a try though…” You smile. You walk with him to the front near the school office, hands locked. Much to your surprise, who but Duke’s dad is sitting in a chair waiting.

“Hey.”

“Hi Dad.”

“Just got off a pretty big business call. This better be important.” Duke shoots you a look and you put your hand on his shoulder. Duke’s dad notices you standing close to him.

“That your friend there? You’ve been hanging out with *Y/N* an awful lot. What about your...other friends?” he asked, suspicious.

“They’re just busy today, that’s all.” Duke said flatly, with slight venom in his voice.

Mrs. Hernandez strolls down to see Duke and his dad. You wave to Mrs. Hernandez and then scuttle off, hoping to eavesdrop on the conversation.

“Mr. DeVouts! So wonderful to meet you! Your son is a very bright, talented, kind young man! I am so proud of how much he has come out of his shell these past years! You’re lucky to have him as a son!”

“Hmm.”

“Come with me.” They headed to her office near the auditorium. They close the door. You sneak in front of it and eavesdrop the conversation.

“So, as you saw in the email, your talented secret thespian son has landed the role of Sweeney Todd in the spring musical?”

“He has?”

Mrs. Hernandez paused, taken aback. “Didn’t you see the email I sent?”

“Oh. Yeah. I just skimmed part of it, and saw we needed to meet and something about his work schedule. He’s in a play?”

“Yes, Mr. DeVouts.” said Mrs. Hernandez. “So I was hoping to sit down and discuss the rehearsals he MUST make, which is most of-”

“Are you fucking kidding me woman?!? Duke’s in hot shit already at work, and this is just what he needs! Another distraction!”

“It is not a distraction, Mr. DeVouts. It is a strong creative outlet for this young man, and I was hoping maybe he’d be able to work some days and attend the most important rehearsals..”

“Who the fuck are you to tell me what my child needs? If anyone knows my son, I do! And I know that he needs to get his shit together and prepare for the real world and not waste his time with theater figs!” Only Duke’s dad didn’t say “figs.” You cover your hand to your mouth in horror. Duke and Mrs. Hernandez gasped.

“Mr. DeVouts.” she said putting on her most scary authoritative tone she could muster. “Do NOT use that hateful language in my presence. Unless we can find another replacement for the role, I am going to have to cancel the performance, and no one wants that.”

“And this is my fault, how? Duke should’ve thought about his schedule before making plans to dance for some fruity play.”

“Dad, it’s Sweeney Todd! Hello? The vengeful demon barber who cuts up people and makes them into pies?! With BLOOD and DEATH AND MURDER?! It’s not fruity!” Duke scoffed. “Plus we’re already loaded. It’s not like if I lose that damn job I’m gonna be homeless!” snarked Duke.

“Be quiet, Duke. Grown ups are talking right now.”

“I’M EIGHTEEN! Fucking hell Dad.”

“See how he talks to me? No respect!”

“Can’t he just talk to his supervisor? Ultimately it’s up to his boss at work.” suggested Mrs. Hernandez.

Duke sighed. “I’ll work weekends! Extra hours! Move my days around! Please Dad! I’ll never ask you for another favor again!”

Duke’s father tutted. “Whatever. Ask Lucas when you get home. Only he can determine what happens. Good luck with that.”

“When you see your son in this performance, you will take back everything you said!” Mrs. Hernandez chimed in. “Mark my words!”

Duke’s father sighed. “Okay, okay! Talk to Lucas! Sheesh. Can’t deal with all this sniveling…”

“A pleasure meeting you today, Mr. DeVouts.”

“Eh.” Everyone exits the office and you slink off so as to not get caught. Duke’s dad turns to him one last time.

“Still think it’s horseshit, but your choice I guess. Where did your little friend who follows you everywhere, go? I swear, you two spend too much time together. Are you two…?”

“No, Dad!” Duke heads out of the school, and you follow suit behind him. You tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hey Dukes! I heard it went well!” You smile.

He sighed. “Yeah. He’s still gonna bitch about it but….fuck it.”

Duke’s father called out to him. “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Duke groaned. “THANK YOU!” then muttered under his breath. “Asshole.”

*THE NEXT DAY*

You’re sitting in Study Hall with Russell and Missi. You’ve managed to finish all your homework (before you inevitably have more assigned later on in the day) so you’re shooting the gabber and making fun of the awkwardly drawn people in your textbooks.

“Okay, this woman looks like what would happen if Dunham and my great aunt had a baby!” said Russell.

“Would the baby look like that when born or later on?” asked Missi.

“....probably when born.”

“And why the fuck does she look angry and constipated? Like she found out her husband was cheating on her and she ate one too many bananas?” you laugh. “Get her a bran muffin!”

“HEY *Y/N*!” Duke’s face appeared in yours suddenly and…..upside down?

“EEEEP!”

“HE LET ME DO IT! HE’S CHANGING MY HOURS!”

“Who?” asked Russell.

“My boss! He changed my hours so I can still work a ton and be the new Sweeney Todd in the play!” Duke smiled. He was standing on a chair hanging his upside down face in front of yours.

“You’re gonna be the new lead?” asked Missi.

“You’re into acting?!?” asked Russell.

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I heard rumors about you becoming the new lead, but I didn’t know if they were true. Congrats!”

“YESSS! Congratulations Duke! It took a LOT of teeth pulling for his dad to let him!” You pull him into a Spider-Man kiss, only for him to flip over onto the table in front of you guys, knocking you two and the table over. This prompted the entire study hall to turn around, including the teacher.

“Mr. DeVouts! This isn’t your study period! What are you doing here?!”

“Sorry! I….er….had….to bring *Y/N* something from one of our classes we share!” Duke awkwardly stepped off of you, reassembled the table then took you by the arm to lift you up. He slid a flyer into you and Russell’s hands.

“ThesearethedatesofourperformancesopeningnightisintwoweeksMissi’sontechcomesupportusbye!!” Duke gave you a peck on the forehead right before rushing back to his class. You Russell and Missi exchange smiles.

“Of course, I could’ve told you that…..” said Missi winking.

*OPENING NIGHT*

You and Russell are the first ones there when the doors open. After paying for your tickets, you sit down.

“I mean, I can see Duke singing really well but….acting and dancing? I mean this movie is up his alley being horror and all…” said Russell.

“He’s full of surprises. You should’ve heard him audition! It was even BETTER than that time he sang for your little cousins!”

“You sure Missi didn’t play the recording for Mrs. Hernandez and she was like ‘you’re in!’” asked Russell.

“No, he also had to do a monologue. He has to be good at acting too, being theater and all.”

“Ah. I even prepared for this by watching the movie. I wonder how it’ll compare!”

“I don’t know Russ, I hear the play version is pretty different, and this is what they’re basing it off of. And let’s face it, Duke’s WAAAAAY hotter than Johnny Depp! Oooh! It’s starting!”

The lights dim and you and Russell wave to Missi as she runs backstage. The performance is AMAZING. While of course your man steals the show with his acting and singing, everyone does a good job and the story is engaging. Some of Duke’s adlibs make it into the play and you and Russell find yourselves laughing louder than the audience. After the play, you and Russell go backstage to find Duke and Missi, giving each of them a hug.

“Holy shit, that was AMAZING!”

“And you did an amazing job with the lights and moving stuff around too, Missi!” said Russell. You hand Duke and Missi their flowers.

“From my Mom! And this is from me….” You pull out a paper crane and hand it to Duke, folding his fingers over it. “I’ve….never been good at origami. At all. But….this is the first crane I ever made that’s fully functional! And I decided to give you the honor of having it.” You kiss his hand.

Duke smiles. “Thanks babes…...do you….guys see my dad anywhere?”

You exhale nervously. You look around. He’s not in sight. You poke your head around the corner. Not even sitting to the back of the wall.

“Maybe he’s in the bathroom?” suggested Russell.

Duke sighed. “Probably not. If he did come, I definitely would’ve seen him in the crowd. He looks like an older, blockier version of myself.”

You and Russell look at Duke sadly. “I’m sorry.”

“Whatever. I mean…..he gave me the impression he would come a few nights ago. He even double checked to make sure the date was right and stuff!”

“Well, you have more shows….he could surprise you!” You say.

Duke shrugs. “Yeah. Even if he doesn’t, I don’t give a shit. You guys came.” He pulls you, Russell, Duke and Missi into a group hug. After a few seconds, you are pushed into the hall by the crowd.

“DUUUUUUKE! OH MY GOD! WE LOVED YOU!”

“YOU ARE THE BEST SWEENEY TODD WE’VE EVER HEARD!”

“WILL YOU BE ACTING AGAIN AFTER THIS?!”

“YOU’RE HOTTER THAN JOHNNY DEPP! AUUUUGH!”

“Who knew that recluse could sing?”

The four of you run into the dressing rooms, hide and shut the door behind you. The four of you blink, taken aback.

“Are they gone?” asked Russell.

“Probably not.” said Missi.

“Are the next shows going to be like this?” asked Duke.

“Probably. Sorry ladies, he’s taken!” you laugh.

THE END