=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Blue Light Productions presents: TEENS IN TRENCHCOATS episode seven, "Weakness," by Ben Rawluk, with special thanks to Jen Whitson. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Soundtrack - Ravencroft: "Cruel," by Tori Amos. Dust: "Grave Mentor," by Delerium. Winterthorne: "Datura," by Tori Amos. Emily: "Trans Fatty Acid," by Lamb. Luke: "Only Happy When It Rains," by Garbage. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Darkness. Almost midnight. The only light was that of the city, pinpricks of neon shimmering in the dark as she sat on the roof, clutching her coppery arms to keep from freezing in the night air. Stupid Net.ropolis, she thought - it always had to be cold at night. Even in summer. The warehouse groaned quietly beneath her - she could almost pick out the heartbeats inside. Her cohorts. But she turned her attention to the city - all the lights and colours and sounds. She wondered why she was out so late. It felt like a dream was waiting to be dreamed. The fifth time in as many nights. Dust was her name and dust was her element; swirls of dirt surged through the air in every direction, responding to her unconscious desires. Swirl here, stab out there. Clouds were forming, an aura of dingy brown that obscured her features as she sat on the roof, shivering, waiting for the reason for her insomnia. Something flew past; her eyes strained, and she tried to make the shape out. A crow? No, more like a raven, flying off into the distance. Dust giggled, in spite of herself; Rebecca had mentioned that omens tended to show up in Net.ropolis all the time. Probably nothing more. Almost midnight. Something was screaming in the back of Dust's mind. She couldn't put a finger on it, but it was certainly making itself known; the dirt and pebbles were flying all around, faster and faster. Growing in intensity. Like some kind of anticipation. And then something happened; a thought struck Dust. It was almost midnight, and now she realized that midnight was /important/, and not just because of things like the Witching Hour and - and - and - Witching Hour? Dust stopped for a moment. She felt like she should be hearing witches any second, cackling away. That didn't make sense. She hated things that didn't make sense. The soil stabbed out like blades of smoke. Midnight. Dust screamed, low and gutteral. She clutched her cheeks, fingers digging in and dragging down on the skin as everything came back. It was hideous. She wasn't Dust. She was, she said to herself in loud capital letters, Dust of the Wicked. Her cortex burned as blood made contact (imagined). She remembered - Shattered and holding him in her hands until he is broken, too. He's dead just the same, lying naked beneath the baking sun, all his pretty fluids sucked into the hot dirt beneath him. Dust crouched at his side, caked in earth, the brown streaks of it across her face and beneath her gleaming eyes, so full of viciousness and the joy of victory that she looks near fit to cry... Holding her brother. Holding Scald. Her blood boils in her veins because that was what he did - pulled everything up, everything to the surface, a raging flood of familial blood... And Dust clutched the metal of the roof, propping herself up - bringing herself back to the present. She had, she knew, barely a minute before she forgot it all again. A minute to go before the pain disappeared and she got to be mortal and human and normal, even if she /could/ twist the soils and the ashes and the dust. Her eyes widened. Widened. Widened to the size of dinner plates, because she /knew/. Ravens don't just show up around her. It doesn't work like that. They come if they're ordered to, if torture is in the mind of the master. She sniffed the air, still wincing from the pain she remembered. It was so hideous, like knives in her back. She picked up the scent after a moment. She was out of practice. "Hello," she said, in a pained voice. "Sister Wicked." The figure stepped out of the shadows, light slowly filling in the details as Dust turned to look: slight and lithe, skin like vanilla ice cream on a hot day in summer. Lips like dead flower petals. Eyes of that familiar blue, like oceans untouched by pollution. Dark clothing, sensible for once. Dust was almost impressed. "Hello, Dust," said the girl. "It /is/ still Dust, right? You two," her voice caught on the word 'two,' "You were never really into the name game, I remember. Call me Ravencroft right now, okay?" Dust looked at Ravencroft with uncertainty, eyes narrowing in slight disgust. "Oh. The curse. Right. Don't worry, it doesn't come back into effect until I leave. I've made sure of that." Ravencroft looked away, and Dust perked up - she was obviously fighting something inside her head. She didn't want to come in the first place. "Why are you here?" Dust stood slowly, deliberately. "You're not supposed to visit me, ever. You don't want to. I can see it in your eyes, you little - Ravencroft." "Can't a big sister," Ravencroft bit her lip, "Visit a little sister?" "No." Dust crossed her arms. The memory - on the edge of her perceptions, she felt it grow more vivid with each passing second. She winced. The curse was so strong. "Fine." Ravencroft walked right up to Dust, noses mere inches apart. "Play it the hard way, you little bitch. You screwed everything up - destroyed our destiny, Dust. I - how did you do it?" "What?" Dust took a step back. Dammit, she thought, never show weakness. "I - look, I said when it happened, when Father wanted to know. He provoked me like usual, he boiled my blood with his - his inheritence. That was his thing, you know that. Twist people up inside, make them remember every killer instinct, every iota of hate. I couldn't take that anymore. Why - why are you bothering me with this? Can't you let me spend my minute in hell and then go back to not remembering the pain?" As long as Ravencroft held back the curse that made her forget who she was, the pain and the memories of her old existence were foremost in her mind. "No." And as Ravencroft spoke, Dust remembered - Then the door opens, and Winterthorne and Ravencroft stand looking down, big sister and big brother are home. Dust looks up, and for the barest second the joy is in her eyes, and the pain as well, and the desparate need for them to _understand_ why she has done what she has done. Weakness... Dust shook her head violently, pulling herself back. "Well, why the hell not? You said we don't have our destinies anymore. We aren't what we were. What we were meant to be. You and our brother sank into the roots of it all, primal and elemental and that's great, you survived. I got to be mortal and that's how /I/ survived. Can't I have that?" "Don't tell me you wanted that." Ravencroft pulled away, eyes searching into the night. "The blood, the guts ripped right out of you. That's how you became mortal. They took their pound of flesh right in front of us, Mother and Father did. I heard you scream for an entire day. They pulled it out and stuck it in a box and that was that." "When I'm mortal," spat Dust, "I don't remember that. I can't. Why are you here? Why are you screwing with my life even though I'm suddenly insignificant?" "He's here," mumbled Ravencroft, staring at the rooftop. "He's calling himself Winterthorne. He said he was going to come see you." "He hasn't. Why is he here, then?" "He wants to play with my toys," Ravencroft grunted. "I hate him. You hate him. Maybe we could, y'know?" She looked up at Dust, pointedly, "I could keep the curse away for a while." More remembered moments - Two sets of them, Winterthorne and Ravencroft just old enough that they focus most of their attention on each other, leaving the younger set of siblings to do the same with themselves. Each half of each set spending most of their time trying to foul up the other half, and though other pairings and alliances formed they were impermanent and just as likely to drift into backstabbing as to stay the same... "No." Her voice was flat, she didn't care what Ravencroft thought. Delicately, she moved over to the edge of the roof, looking down over the side. Her friends were inside, under her feet, and they didn't know anything about what was going on. And, come morning, neither would she. "It never worked, in the old days. You'll stab me in the back, or I'll stab you." "Dust, I /hate/ him." "I know." Dust closed her eyes, and then opened them. She couldn't go on like this. "Stop this. Go away. Let me forget. I have to. God, I'm going insane because of you." "Families are supposed to drive each other crazy," giggled Ravencroft. Falsely. "Gospel according to the Nineties," grimaced Dust. "I won't help you." "No, I suppose not. Daddy'll be so mad if he finds out I talked to you. I suppose that's why Winterthorne said anything - screw with my head, get me in trouble." A memory cascaded across Dust's lobes - That day. Ravencroft and Winterthorne look at each other and smile. Not real ones, of course, nothing /real/ between them but knives, yet happy just the same. Won't Daddy and Mum be /so/ angry when they hear about this... "Gnh." Dust gripped the sides of her head. "That was what it was always about, wasn't it? Getting each other in trouble. Well, /fuck that/. I was just getting used to being a supervillain, and then you have to make the way things were stick around for more than a minute at midnight. I /know/ you didn't come here to ask for my help - we're both too far gone for that. What did you want from me, you stupid girl?" "How did it feel?" "How did what feel?" "It. The big deed. How did it feel. To spill Wicked blood?" "Oh." Dust looked up, at the high-rise skyscrapers, blinking on and off. "It felt - look. You know how it felt. You can guess. It felt beautiful wonderful like ecstasy from on high. I wanted to dance in the valley for seven days and seven nights, because my blood wouldn't fill with bile to let me know that he was near, because he never would be, again." A thin, featureless smile crept across her lips - cracked and dry lips. "I was relieved." "Ah." Ravencroft stared. Her fists clenched and unclenched. Dust sat after a moment, pulling her knees up to her chin. After a moment, Ravencroft joined her: the position didn't suit her, Dust decided, but she attempted it anyway. "So he's screwing up your latest game?" "Yes." Ravencroft breathed in and out. "I have so many good ideas, and he wrecks them all." "Scald was the same way." "Do you miss it?" Dust thought for a moment. "No. The pain's too much. I'm barely not screaming right now. Believe me. I like the way things are when I don't remember. I think. The people I'm with are stupid and clumsy and I want to wrap tendrils of soil around their throats sometimes. But." Ravencroft stared at the lights, her eyes twitching back and forth between them. "I've met this boy," she said, finally. Her voice almost quivered, twitching as the old muscles relaxed and she felt the angst dripping away from her. "Yes? And?" "I'm manipulating his life to shatter his sister's will and align her prowess to my desires." Dust nodded, sagely. She felt strange; they shouldn't be talking about this kind of thing. They should at each other's throats or stabbing Winterthorne in the back. But things had changed, she mused, and nothing was what it once was. She - she remembered again - They had wings. But now the feathers of charcoal grey fall to the ground with each passing moment as Scald's death echoes through all of them, all the Wicked - they are growing older, growing primal as his blood seeps into the soil. Ancient impulses echo inside her forehead as she sees what she has done... "The usual," she said, finally. Dust almost smiled; she had recovered faster, the train of thought was still within her grasp. "Is there something special about this boy? Is he a Chosen One or something?" "No. Not chosen or anointed or destined for great things. Just this boy, with a sister. A sister will be useful to me." Ravencroft smirked darkly. But not with the teeth. "He's a good kisser, though. Even if he /does/ wear too much makeup." "Makeup?" Dust grimaced at the thought. "Goth, then? One of your usual fare?" "Yes. Sad, isn't it? Can't I find /one/ lousy bronzed god in a position of use to me?" Dust and Ravencroft stared at each other for a moment. Something was different. And then they did something they hadn't done in a long, long time: they broke down into giggles. Dust winced every time, though. The pain bled into her brow. "I think you should stick with the goths." "I suppose." Ravencroft stared. "I - I suppose we would never have talked about this, before." "I was just thinking that," mused Dust. "Things have changed. We don't get a status quo anymore. Which is half the reason I killed that bast - oh." Dust massaged her temples. "It's still sloshing around in my head. You should go. GOD. I just want to forget all this. I was used to mortality, it's all I know, during the day." "You upset the balance. Daddy's curse was for your own good - you had to be reminded of what you did, but in a way that made it gnaw away at you." "Doesn't mean I have to like it." "Dust - we never enjoy our punishments." A few moments of silence. The soil and dirt rose and flew around Dust, surging forth and disappearing into the night air. Dust watched Ravencroft bite her knee, in frustration; she was always eating something, gnawing on something. At least in the old days. A very hungry person. Finally, Dust couldn't take it anymore. "What do you know about it? You never did anything," said Dust, her anger rising again. The words trickled from her mouth without any control. "You just went along, playing with lives and destroying them and fighting with us. You never killed your brother." "Yes." In, she breathed, and then out. Dust watched the carbon dioxide become a mist in the cool, night air. And then, in a quiet voice that could barely be made out, Ravencroft added, "I never killed my brother." "But you wanted to," answered Dust, looking off into the distance. "Like me. Wanted to. Want to. That's really why you wanted to talk to me, isn't it? Live vicariously. You won't kill him, will you? You can't. That was the whole point. Even if the family /has/ changed - some things stay the same. You can't kill one of your own. You two always had to be the role models, teaching respect to us runts of the litter. Even if that was just another way of saying claw each other's eyes out, in those days. I'm amazed that Mother and Father didn't kill the lot of us and start out fresh and new." "They couldn't - not by the end. They had changed just as much as we had. Even Grandma." "No. I mean - before that." "I don't know. Maybe that's what they wanted. Get us all filled up with fury and anger and hatred and set us out on the world in the end. Makes for a nastier demise then all of us Getting Along Famously while we work. All trying to outdo each other, I guess." A moment of silence. Dust stared as the dirt danced. "Ravencroft?" "Yes?" "Can I forget, now?" They held each other's gaze, and Ravencroft stood, slowly. "I - yes. I owe you that much, I guess." She smiled, weakly. "I'll go. You'll forget." "And the world will go on and the birds will sing - the big, black ravens will sing as they have always sung. Badly. Go. See this boy of yours. Screw up his entire life." Ravencroft nodded. The beating of wings filled Dust's ears, and then the curse swept across her mind, clearing so much memory and pain away... =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR: Okay, so maybe a bit more interaction with Jen. Yes, yes. We all know you hate me. Or are just /really/ jealous of me getting to collaborate with her and everything. Dust is the Third Wicked? The idea kind of spawned haphazardly, but then it grew and grew and grew and - heh. The soundtrack at the beginning was spur of the moment. The songs just /fit/ everybody so well. I may come up with a more over-all soundtrack for the series if I have time to come up with a playlist. This episode was a repeat of the "episode four" phenomenon: written in approximately two hours, edits notwithstanding. Proofreading notwithstanding. So, it's a little more coherent than usual, and no scene breaks. Ravencroft just tends to inspire these episodes so easily, it seems. Well, that and the new Tori Amos album I bought a few days ago, which is echoing in my earphones while I type this. I know this particular type of episode is always short, but it's really because the story flows for as long as it can, and then ends just like that. No prior warning. 'Teens in Trenchcoats,' 'Ravencroft,' 'Luke Jones,' 'Emily Jones,' and 'Winterthorne' are all owned and created and copyrighted to Ben Rawluk, 1999, all rights reserved. 'Dust' is property of Jen Whitson, all rights reserved. Direct any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org - thanks. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=Back to the Index.