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Nicotine Stain

Nicotine StainRipper followed Ethan into the grafittied interior of the flat, exchanging the oppressive London heat wave outside for the oppressive heat of too many bodies inside.

London and heat were generally terms that were rarely used in proximity to each other without such qualifiers as lack of, so quaint foreign gadgets like air conditioners and fans were alien to the city's inhabitants. The residents had taken to civil disobedience and getting drunk on a regular basis to cope with the weather.

"Killer gig." Ethan eyed a fishnet-clad, knickerless creature with spiked hair who blew him a kiss as she drifted past.

Ripper lit a cigarette and examined his skinned knuckles, blowing a stream of smoke into the haze that hung at eye level. "Yeah, not bad."

The Damned had opened for the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club and Siouxsie, one of the Bromley Contingent, had invited the regulars back to her place.

Well, most of them. A vicious little thug by the name of John Ritchie was currently unconscious in a dumpster at the rear of the venue, where Ripper and Ethan had left him. Ripper had dragged the man outside after Ritchie had hit Diedre and cleaned the bastard's clock. Nobody messed with his friends.

"'lo, Ripper, Ethan. Didn't think you two were going to make it." A tall blonde wearing several strategically ripped and layered t-shirts handed them beers.

"Cheers, Billy," Ripper half-drained his can of lager in relief. "So. Tom, Phil, Randall and Diedre kicking around here somewhere?"

"Constantine's cornered Randall, bending his ear about a band he's putting together, last I heard. Diedre's buggered off with Strummer." Billy smirked in amusement, his lip curling into a cheeky sneer. "Tom and Phil are keeping court with Siouxsie."

Ethan grinned broadly and clapped Ripper on the shoulder. "I feel the need to worship at the altar of Siouxsie. I'll leave you to it." He wandered off in search of the fishnet-clad vision he'd seen on arrival.

"He'd better watch himself." Billy nodded in the direction Ethan had headed. "Young Berlin has a thing for him and he's a persistent lad."

Ripper snorted indelicately and shook his head. "All's fun in love and war." It was a safe bet that Ethan would be blind drunk by the end of the night and grappling in a corner with Berlin. In the morning, of course, he'd swear he was with Siouxsie. The power of denial was a wonderful thing.

"I'll see Berlin gets home safely." Billy felt a certain protectiveness towards his young friend. "Fancy a lift home later then, mate?"

"That'd be great. Point out this Constantine bloke for us, would you?"

As Billy led the way through the crowded lounge into the kitchenette, Ripper followed behind idly admiring the fit of the man's jeans. They were tight in all the right places.

Billy nodded towards a blond man tapping a cigarette out of a packet of Silk Cut. "Bloke lighting a fag." He placed a hand on Ripper's elbow. "Be careful. He's a bit... well, let's just say Conjob is more than just a witty pun on his name, yeah."

Nodding his thanks, Ripper introduced himself to Constantine. "Seen Randall?"

"Buggered off a while back." Constantine waved his cigarette in the vague direction of the slowly growing horde.

Ripper shook his head in amusement, the eternal problem of losing your friends in the crowd striking once again. If he didn't catch up with them tonight, he'd see them tomorrow. "Hear you're starting a band."

"Me and everyone else here. Strummer's got something together, I've even heard Siouxsie, Billy and Steve are thinking about having a go." He snagged a can of beer from the ice filled sink, handed it to Ripper and grabbed another for himself. "Me and a couple of mates have been mucking about a bit. Nothing too serious. What about you?"

"Guitar. Sing a bit. Jam with Billy at his place sometimes." Ripper took a healthy swig from his can. "Just a bit of fun."

Fishing the last of the cold cans out of the sink, Constantine opened one of the many boxes by the back door and slid the contents into the ice with an ease that suggested much practice. He handed half the stash of cold beer to Ripper. "Let's find somewhere to sit, I'm knackered."

They moved back into the crowded lounge, pressing through tightly packed knots of friends and acquaintances until they reached the far wall.

Two people of indeterminate sex, sporting multicoloured hair and hand-sloganed clothing, were grappling enthusiastically on the sofa. A third was sprawled bonelessly over the mismatched armchair, snoring softly, quite oblivious to his rutting companions.

Surprisingly enough, the beanbags were unoccupied, the pair having at it on the sofa making them a less than desirable place to sit. Ripper didn't give a toss and flopped gracelessly into one of the bags, Constantine taking the other. They exchanged amused glances, wondering how long the couple would last before they either finished their liaison or took it elsewhere.

"They're not going to quit." Ripper opened one of his cans.

"Mocking comments from the audience can put a dampener on a tryst."

There was a grunt that signalled the coupling was at an end for one of the participants, followed by a gruff male voice. "Constantine, you're an arsehole."

"Didn't recognise you from that angle, Gary." Constantine laughed as his mate departed, dragging his half-dressed girlfriend off somewhere with fewer hecklers.

Ripper and Constantine passed the evening in amiable conversation, talking about music and the always interesting topic of who was shagging whom.

Siouxsie, ever the considerate hostess, eventually caught up with them and spent several minutes draped across the boys laps whispering sweet nothings in their ears. She drifted off to mingle with her other guests and Ripper was not surprised to see that while Tom and Phil were still drifting happily in her orbit, Ethan was nowhere to be seen.

He did manage to spot Randall, who was engaged in an animated conversation with Billy that he couldn't make out. Ripper stood up to follow him, but a group of women brushed past, flashing him bright smiles and coquettish glances. It was enough to distract him and he lost sight of Randall, shrugging he returned to his beanbag.

Ripper had been wondering why the man had been discussing music with Constantine when Randall was, to all intents and purposes, tone deaf and only came along to gigs to get drunk and pick up women. "He wasn't trying to sell you that he's a musician, was he?" Constantine indicated that Randall had indeed been blathering on about his musical prowess. "I guess he forgot to mention his instrument of choice was the recorder. In third grade."

Both men doubled over in laughter, spraying beer over the floor in their mirth. Constantine managed to catch his breath first. "He did leave that bit out. But he seems to think you lot are a bunch of mystics. Think I hurt his feelings when I told him otherwise."

Rising to the bait, Ripper swallowed like a fish on a line. "You think we're a bunch of rank amateurs, do you? We're a little beyond Ouija boards and séances with your Aunt Fanny."

Holding his hands up in surrender, Constantine nonetheless smirked, pleased that he'd hit his mark. "Just saying, is all. Don't suppose you've had anything to do with demons and the like."

Deciding to keep the fact that he'd been raised to be the Watcher of a Vampire Slayer to himself, Ripper allowed a small smile to touch his lips. "You'd be surprised. Still, most of what we've dabbled in is minor stuff. Nothing too dangerous." Aside from the time they accidentally blew up the Aga in Diedre's last flat after Randall bollocksed up the Latin pronunciation on a spell. "Why'd you ask?"

"Ran across an old book the other day. You might be interested in it."

"Yeah?" Ripper raised an eyebrow. Might make a change from the small magicks they'd worked so far.

Constantine stretched back in his beanbag, stringing his sales pitch out. "'Bout a demon by the name of Eyghon. Bit of summoning, demon on a leash, at your bidding... that sort of thing. According to the translation anyway. Course, that could be the monks just putting a bit of gloss on an old wives tale." The gleam in Ripper's eyes more than told him that he'd be seeing the man again. He scribbled a number on a piece of paper. "Still, you never know. Give us a call if you're interested."

"Yeah. Ta. " Ripper looked at the number, not really noticing Constantine as he stood and melted into the crowd. "Thanks."

"Hey, Ripper." Billy appeared with a pretty young man wearing impossibly high heels in tow. "Good to go, mate."

"Sure, let's hit the road." Ripper accepted a hand up from Billy and helped to manoeuvre a very giggly Berlin out of the crowded flat into Billy's van.

They headed for home, Berlin happily snoring away as he used Ripper's shoulder for a pillow, drooling contentedly in his sleep and smelling ever so faintly of Ethan.

Ripper considered his conversation with Constantine and thought he'd take the man up on his offer. After all, what harm could come from it?

The End


mrsdrake's Ripper Ficathon for voleuse — pre-BtVS Ripper, in London, friendship, any of the people from Dark Age, loud music, drinking

Many thanks to the luscious moonbeamsfanfic and nihilistbear for volunteering as betas.

Runner Up of the Round One Lie To Me Ripper Award

Comments

( 8 howls — talk to the wolf )
willshenilshe
20th Jun, 2004 15:40 (UTC)
Oh, now this I love. It's a gorgeously debauched picture of the party scene Ripper must have been accustomed to, full of rich detail that just springs to life. And the topper, being tipped off about Eyghon... brilliant. Wonderful piece!
redwolf
20th Jun, 2004 22:51 (UTC)
Many thanks. I can't imagine any of the parties Ripper was attending at this time of his life were tea and cucumber sandwich affairs.
moonbeamsfanfic
21st Jun, 2004 19:53 (UTC)
*drive-by insanity*
::Moon tip-toes closer, looks around cautiously, and takes a deep breath::

"SWIMMING HORSES!!!"

::Moon runs away, cackling hysterically::
redwolf
21st Jun, 2004 22:56 (UTC)
Re: *drive-by insanity*
nihilistbear suggested Anarchy in the UK too. As much as I love it, I didn't think there was enough anarchy in the story to use it.

Very tempted by Swimming Horses, but in the end I picked an earlier Siouxsie and the Banshees song, Nicotine Stain, thinking it suited Ripper more.

At least I stuck with the theme you both suggested.
wickedfox
8th Jul, 2004 03:19 (UTC)
Loved the entire thing. Wonderfully written. Dialogue was perfect. Mood matched the request very well. But I must say, I particularly loved this line...

They headed for home, Berlin happily snoring away as he used Ripper's shoulder for a pillow, drooling contentedly in his sleep and smelling ever so faintly of Ethan.


Thank you for posting.
redwolf
8th Jul, 2004 05:01 (UTC)
Many thanks, it was a fun ficathon.

I've been wanting to write something like this for ages, I got exactly what I wanted and my cursed muse buggered off for parts unknown.
tweedisgood
23rd Apr, 2005 07:31 (UTC)
A great atmospheric fic and clever working in of the Constantine angle, but as a Brit I spotted a couple of little errors which made me do a doubletake. We don't talk about "grades" at schools over here: it's "forms" for the period your fic is set in, "years" now. And as I assume the thing which blew up in Deirdre's flat was the range(cooker), it's spelled 'Aga'. Not that most flats would have them, they are massive and very expensive.

Hope you don't mind me mentioning.
redwolf
23rd Apr, 2005 08:21 (UTC)
So what's the equivalent of year three? Which would be around the eight- to nine-year-old mark.

In Australia, forms were only used for high school; so year seven would be first form, through to year twelve as sixth form. They weren't used for primary school, which was always grades.

I did mean an Aga. I have no idea how I missed the typo, but appreciate the catch.

Thanks for dropping by and bringing knowledge.
( 8 howls — talk to the wolf )