Chapter 9 : Ravenous
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The delicately formed thought was barely finished ringing in Audrey's head when there was the back door of the club opened with a loud crash. For a moment her mind wasn't able to register the noise, her entire being focused on the delicious heat of Percy's body pressed so nicely against hers, “And don't come back!” a familiarly awful voice hissed.
“What the hell?” Audrey murmured in confusion as she and Percy continued walking, her steps slowing. They had walked a short distance away from the club, but not so far that the noise was beyond their hearing and something slimy tingled down her spine, “this night is just getting fucking outrageous,” she said furiously under her breath, wondering just who had decided to enrage her former manager further.
Bare Back was bustling with rowdy customers and Audrey didn't find it strange that someone else had been thrown out tonight. Though she hadn't expected her night to end this way, she was relieved to note that she had one thing to look forward to, Percy's solid presence was immensely comforting, “Don't you dare put your hands on me again!” a woman sobbed.
Percy's steps halted as well in alarm and Audrey found herself gritting her teeth violently as Joseph Wring and his cronies let loose a hail of insults. Most of them were crude and she didn't think that the actor and his drunken friends would be able to enrage her further but her anger spiked, “Ms. Tang,” her newly appointed boyfriend murmured warningly.
Audrey could hear in his tone that he wanted to head back on his own but she looked up at him with a frown. “Get your ass as far from here as possible!” it was Remmington's foul voice floating from the dark alley, loud enough even from this distance and she tensed, knowing that her night had just went from possible delight to foul.
There was no telling who the manager of the club was bullying now and a sense of dread entered her bones. For the past few months, he had been making crude advances towards some of the other dancers and she found herself slinking from underneath Percy's arm, determined to put an end to it tonight.
“Audrey!” Percy snapped furiously, stomping after her and taking her upper arm before she could melt back into the gloom and dankness of the alleyway. From where they now stood, she could make out Remmington's unimaginable bulk and a cowering girl trying to cover herself, “let me handle this.”
Joseph Wring, the famed actor that Audrey had admired and looked up to was ogling the battered girl openly with his friends. They were all drunk and despite the fact that Percy had nearly beaten the actor into the ground, he was still standing, though on wobbly legs that looked as if they would give out at any moment.
The scene disgusted her and Audrey felt a flash of fury. Her manager may have fired her but that didn't mean that he had the right to take out his irritation on the other girls and her fists clenched “What? That could be a friend of mine he's bullying!”
“Even so, Ms. Tang I'm not going to let you walk into a dangerous situation. Not after the night that you've had,” Percy said down to her, his pale blue eyes glinting. There was a nasty cut on his lower lip and even in the shadows, Audrey could see the hint of a bruise on his jawline...like a tainted mark, “go back onto the sidewalk and wait for me.”
Audrey glared up at him, hearing Remmington berating the poor girl in such a voice that it made her chilled. The girl was sobbing loudly, pleading for mercy it seemed while Joseph and his foolish friends roared with laughter, “Like hell I will!” she shouted up at him.
Percy's eyes narrowed into warning slits but before he could say more, Remmington gave a bark of cruel laughter. “Still here, Tang?” he shouted down at her and with his large bulk situated in the doorway with blaring light falling behind him, she thought he resembled a demon. His mouth twisted into a nasty smile, “take your fucking friend with you before you go!”
Audrey's eyes widened in horror as he grabbed the girl by her upper arm and slung her forward. She stumbled weakly out of her heels and lost her balance, whatever scraps of clothing she had on barely held up, “Oi, you keep your fucking hands off her!” she screamed, trying to yank free of Percy.
“Ms. Tang, I'll handle this. I can't stand a man that has the nerve to mistreat a woman and I'm going to put him in his place,” Percy said warningly to Audrey and she saw a flash of murder in his eyes.
Joseph Wring and his friends were slinking towards the girl like ravenous wolves, their drunken suggestions making her cower. Audrey was infuriated and felt her skin go pale as the girl skittered away into a shaft of weak light from the open door, her features finally identifiable, “Pamela?!” she cried, raking her friend's familiar features.
The last time that she had seen Pamela, they had been in the locker room getting ready to leave. But her friend must have stayed awhile longer or been talked into going on stage for a bit of extra money, given how she was barely wearing any clothing, “A-Audrey?” her friend asked shakily, squinting down at her.
“Pam!” Audrey cried in disbelief. There was a nasty feeling forming in the center of her stomach and Percy's mouth slacked open, as if he were completely startled by the obvious cruelty hinted here, “let go of me, Percy!” she commanded sharply, wrenching free.
Percy's furious shout was ignored as Audrey ran to her friend, shoving one of Joseph Wring's lapdogs out of the way. “Oi, watch it bitch!” he cried angrily, nearly falling to the ground and she shot him a murderous glare, “let's get out of here, Joseph. There's nothin' goin' on at this joint anymore...” he hissed to his friend.
Joseph Wring's face was still swollen and bleeding from his fight with Percy and at Audrey vicious look, it took on a ghoulish light. With Remmington watching them all with a cruel light in his eye, she felt as if she were being advanced on by a pack of demons, “Pam, what did they do to you?” she asked her friend.
Pamela's face was smudged with makeup and tears and the black streaks of mascara and eye liner was sinking into her skin. Audrey ran her eyes quickly over her, noticing the bruises on her bare arms and the shredded state of her clothes, “I-I got t-talked into staying a while longer, that... bastard told me I could make more money!”
Audrey's eyes widened in sympathy and fury, knowing that Pamela had children to take care of and worked harder than even she did. “What did you do to her?!” she screamed threateningly at Remmington, cradling her friend to her chest as she sobbed uncontrollably.
Remmington seemed amused by her anger and raised his upper lip condescendingly, causing her to briefly see red. He leaned his massive weight on the doorway, the boom and thump of music from inside making her teeth ache, “Just offered her something you would never take Tang with some customers. She didn't exactly cooperate,”
Disgust roiled throughout Audrey's body and she watched as Joseph Wring and his cronies laughed, apparently too fascinated to leave just yet. The actor's apparent sneer couldn't be easily ignored and Audrey felt it like a slap to her face, “I should kill you!” she screamed at Remmington, ignoring Joseph and his group.
That only earned her a hearty laugh from her former manager and she wasn't certain what came over her—something dangerous seemed to snap. One moment she was holding Pamela and the next, she was crossing the distance to him and trying to rip off every inch of his face, pummeling and kicking with enough force to cause a few painful blows.
“Audrey!” it was Percy's voice and during the commotion, she had nearly forgotten about him. She was so intent on murdering the man in front of her that she couldn't even hear his hurried footsteps or the surprised hoots of Joseph and his friends, “you piece of shit, don't you lay a hand on her!”
Remmington had been caught by surprise with Audrey's sudden attack, stumbling from the doorway with a grunt as he fended her off. She was much smaller but she wasn't new to fighting and worked purely on adrenaline, wanting nothing more than to wipe the inky smile from his face, “Whoa, check it out!” Joseph Wring cried in amazement, as if he were watching a particularly interesting show.
Percy's footsteps sounded far away as Audrey continued to try to kick, bite and scratch every inch of her former boss. Remmington was a big man and quickly regained himself, snatching a lock of her hair roughly in his fist, “What do you think you're doing Tang?! Huh?” he shouted into her face, spraying spittle.
Audrey gagged in both pain and disgust at the close proximity, her fingernails scoring viciously into his thick wrist. Remmington retaliated by dragging her violently across the soiled ground before tossing her violently, watching as she collapsed onto her knees with a painful gasp, “Audrey!” Percy shouted and there was a strange sound, like the pop of fireworks.
Pamela ran to her side immediately, the click of her heels reminding her of bones being shattered. “Audrey, oh my God are you all right?!” the woman asked, watching as she raised a hand to her stinging head, wondering if Remmington had pulled out a lock or two.
It seemed that during this, Joseph Wring and his companions had completely forgotten about taking themselves elsewhere. They had watched the entire scene with dropped jaws, their delighted hoots making her furious and willing to rip them to shreds, “He can't get away with what he tried to do to you!” Audrey cried and Pamela only sobbed.
Remmington was panting, obviously a bit overwhelmed by the force of her attack and she watched him run a hand over his sweaty forehead. Angrily, he shoved past Joseph and his friends, advancing on them like a vehement monster, “You watch yourself Tang, I'm not going to forget about this.” He warned viciously down at her.
Audrey forced herself to stand and Pamela's eyes widened in terror. She had always been the one to tell her not to push Remmington too far but she could hardly care now, not when anger was lacing through her blood, “Stop it Audrey! Stop it!” her friend pleaded, trying to restrain her. “Its my fault, I couldn't do it and ran away—please!”
Somehow, Audrey managed to push her away, unable to hear the note of desperation in her voice or the sadness in her words. The danger and horror that her friend had faced flashed through her mind and she felt nothing but anger, feeling in her heart that Remmington had done this before...would do it again if she didn't somehow stop this.
“I'm going to report you, you sick freak! I'm going to make sure that this place is shut down so you won't be able to do this to anyone else!” Audrey threatened, meaning every bit of the words. They caused Remmington's face to flood with fury and she watched his skin turn purple, meaty fists clenching, “I won't let this go!”
Remmington reacted with a scowl of rage and he violently yanked Audrey up by her arm, roughly shoving Pamela away when she tried to help. “You little bitch! I dare you!” he screamed, shaking her and making her teeth rattle in her skull, one hand gripping her throat, “I'll bury you before I let that happen!”
“Let me go!” Audrey shouted in a panic, truly frightened at the madness that flared in the man's eyes. Whatever terror he had produced in Bare Back seemed to mean too much to him and she had never been confronted with this...when she truly thought that her life might be taken from her— “Percy!” she screamed, turning her head.
“Audrey!” Percy's enraged voice sounded so far away. Remmington had been shaking her again and she could feel her skin turning blue, eyes popping, “Stupefy!” the strange word was followed by the sound of fireworks popping and cracking.
A strange red light flared in the alley like a bomb and Audrey let out a shrill scream as Remmington grunted, the light striking him in the back. Confused and terrified, she could only watch as he stumbled suddenly, the mad gleam in his eyes fading and a look of curious surprise forming on his face.
Audrey wrenched herself free from his slackening fingers and skittered wildly away, chest pounding and sweat breaking out on her exposed skin. Terror was still thrumming violently through her and she coughed, holding her tender throat with furiously trembling fingers. “W...what...” she gasped weakly.
Someone was screaming hysterically but the sound didn't seem to catch her notice as Remmington's massive body collapsed onto the ground with a heavy thud. Audrey leaped away, clamping a hand to her mouth to hold in the scream that was threatening to build up in her own throat, unable to look away from his fallen form.
There was a stunned expression on his reddened face as one of his outstretched hands lay motionless before him. It was impossible not to notice that his thick fingers were still curled into claws and Audrey stepped away once more with a disbelieving shake of her head, terror lacing through her with every breath.
What had happened? How was it possible that that one beam of light had reduced the man to this? Some part of her knew that she should examine him, to check for a pulse but she was too afraid of the answer...the nothingness she would encounter from a still and silent heart. “Y-you freak!” Joseph Wring shouted madly at an approaching figure, snapping her out of the dark thoughts.
Audrey turned wildly as tears welled in her eyes, the fear of the moment mixing into the overwhelming confusion she felt. Percy was walking towards them out of the surrounding gloom and in the dank space of the alley, he appeared almost unearthly, his face illuminated by a strange silver light.... “You've killed him!” it was Pamela screaming, her entire face pale.
Percy Weasley. Audrey stared at the man as if she were unsure of what planet he truly came from, her eyes wider than saucers...heart racing as she watched him step closer and closer to the trembling group. Joseph Wring and his friends seemed to be rooted like statues to the spot and she could detect the sick scent of fear and revulsion as they huddled together, all bravado gone.
Audrey spared them a slight glance before focusing on Percy, the man that was assessing the situation with a critical, calculating eye. There was something about the hue of his eyes that was terrifying and brutal, the scowl on his face making the blood in her veins go icy cold, “Are you and the others hurt?” he asked her, turning his red head in her direction.
“...What...” Audrey murmured softly, flinching violently. Pamela was still screaming, staring down at Remmington's body as if she would faint at any moment and the sound seemed to pulse and throb in her brain, “...are you?” she asked weakly.
The question caused Percy's pale blue eyes to widen with shock and fright and for a moment she saw that there was a human underneath his beastly rage. The fear she saw reflected in his eyes stunned her, “...Audrey, there isn't any time for this right now, I'm so sorry,” he whispered brokenly before he turned his attention quickly to Joseph, his friends and Pamela. Her friend was still screaming and he snapped, “quiet!”
Audrey jumped from the sound of the brutality in his voice, it was more vicious than thunder and Pamela shook her head madly. She was trembling violently from head to toe and suddenly latched onto Audrey tightly, trying to drag her away but she was rooted to the spot, “Who is this, freak, Audrey? Do you know him?” she screamed in her ear. “We have to call the police!”
“There's no need for that, I'm sure that this will be cleaned up and result in more problems than I'm ready to handle.” Percy snarled at Pamela and Audrey stared at him wondrously, worried that she might be dreaming. There was something so distinctly off about him just now...it was like a completely different...thing had taken over, “I'm already in enough trouble as it is.” She heard him mutter.
Pamela was practically clawing into Audrey's numb arm and she weakly tried to fend her off, feeling the ugly slide of tears on her pale cheeks. “We need to get out of here!” Percy shot her a warning look and opened his mouth to speak but found himself staring at Audrey instead, the misery flicking in his eyes too much to bear. “He's looking at you—do you know him?” her friend screamed madly.
No. She didn't....Audrey hadn't felt her lips move but the words must have flown out in some soft, dazed echo. Percy looked as if his heart broke in that same instant and tore his eyes away, lower lip trembling and his skin flushing in the shadows and gloom, mixing in with the strange gasps of Joseph Wring and his terrified friends.
“None of you leave from this spot, we can't have anyone else stepping out and finding what's happened,” Percy eventually said tightly, voice haunting in the dark. He looked around quickly down the alleyway, checking for some sign that there would be other witnesses and Audrey felt her heart squeeze over.
Remmington had come out here on his own to toss Pamela out into the night but she knew that someone would notice his long absence eventually. Bare Back wasn't known for being the most professional of strip clubs but Audrey knew that the bodyguards would start to wonder what had become of their boss sooner or later.
What would they do if they stumbled out and saw his lifeless body face down in an alley? Audrey wasn't certain what sort of lie...what sort of truth she could come up with when she had no idea herself what had even occurred here herself.
One minute he had been threatening to wring the life from her throat and the next...a bright red light and then nothing but his body lying on the ground with a group of terrified people hovering around him. And Percy.
Audrey wasn't certain what he was or what sort of weapon that he could so easily conceal without her notice. For a moment she was struck with the image of him back inside the club when he had been reaching for his trouser pocket but she couldn't imagine what he could have used against Remmington.
She was horrified by the night's events, though she was more than startled, more than scared by the Percy Weasley that she was encountering now and the beast that had finally been unleashed upon them all. There was such a haunted and vulnerable look on his face that it scared her to the point where she thought that she might have lost him forever.
Through her life she had been faced with horrible, terrible people but to be the witness of a murder was something that she never thought would have happened to her. But Percy couldn't be a killer...he just couldn't be?
Audrey had felt it in her heart that he could be no killer, that the wounded animal that she sensed in him had never taken a life but yet...she glanced down at her former boss's body again, sickness curling into her stomach. Joseph Wring's teeth sounded as if they were chattering and his friends were inching away slowly, the crunch of their shoes sliding along broken glass.
The crunch and pop made Audrey flinch, the feel of Pamela's long, broken nails digging into her jacket sleeve not helping the matter. “....What are you?” she demanded shakily, unable to stop the words from flying out, her throat clenching tightly as a sob threatened to overtake her.
Percy's face was anguished as Audrey simply stared at him, unable to understand what was happening, expecting him to reply. Instead, he remained silent and she thought she heard the most pitiful sound...like a silent cry that scorched her throat, “It wasn't supposed to turn out this way.” He murmured, looking down at Remmington. “I didn't know what else to do, he would have—”
“Y...you killed him! I'm getting you sent to jail for this—someone had to have heard what was going on out here!” Joseph Wring suddenly accused loudly, eyes wide. The fact that he had been quite fine to watch Audrey fighting off a man three times her size flashed through her mind and she wasn't certain who was the bigger monster.
Percy's pale blue eyes narrowed warning but the man had already started making a mad dash down the alley with all his might. “Wait!” he cried furiously as Joseph's friends shoved Audrey and Pamela roughly aside as they ran after the actor, looking half mad as they did so.
“Let's get out of here!” one of them cried, face paler than death.
The other sounded as if he might be crying. “He's some crazy freak!” Percy gritted his teeth, from either their words or the threat that they might be discovered and raised his left hand, Audrey catching sight of a long stick.
Audrey watched in a sort of suspended silence with Pamela still clutching to her, as Percy turned to the retreating men and fired various shots from the end. Red light flared like bolts of lightning and connected to them cleanly, stopping them dead in their tracks, the last one striking Joseph smartly between his shoulders.
The men fell one by one, like macabre dolls onto the ground and almost immediately, there were numerous strange pops in the wind. Audrey watched in both fascination and terror as figures manifested from the darkness into the alleyway with them, cloaked in strange, flowing robes in dark shades and colors. Pamela gave a strange shriek as they quickly took in the fallen men and the pair of them huddled together, Percy standing watch over them with a bestial flame in his eye, a strange man breaking her heart.
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