|Golden Eyes, Black Wings, and Powdered Garlic
Author: Kerrigas PM
On a new year's eve outing to a restaurant, Aria accidentally discovers a several thousand year old secret - the waiters aren't human. Now she is forced to reside and work among them, and her problems include more than knowing which spice is which! EDITEDRated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Fantasy - Chapters: 6 - Words: 22,315 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 09-07-12 - Published: 04-30-10 - id: 2802259
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
.:Author's Note:. I am re-uploading the story with editations because I didn't like the way that I set up part of the story. It's relatively similar to the original, for those who have already written, but with certain alterations because I decided to make changes to some of the characters and events. I was also forced to re-upload the chapters since Fictionpress screwed up on my first attempt-replacement, and I was forced to delete the others. It has been fixed, and I will be uploading as I change
Still, please review~!
December 31st, at 10:37 PM, a young girl ran through a busy street in downtown San Francisco. People bustled everywhere, love-struck couples holding hands and wrapped in scarves and pullovers, businessmen hurrying through the streets from work, long-coat collars pulled tightly over their faces, and others wandering to and fro in thick layers of clothes and delight, all celebrating the new year on a cold winters eve. She weaved in and out the bodies, all radiating heat and laughter, a long scarf flying behind her. As she reached the end of the street, she stopped by a small crowd across from the crosswalk. Cars zipped by, all rushing to their destinations; the comfort of a home, a warm hearth, and a welcoming family. The girl stood, rubbing her hands together and blowing on them. Tall, and slender, the girl had the body and metabolism a model would envy apart from the nonexistent curves and a small chest concealed in her winter clothes. She was dressed in a pair of navy blue skinny jeans, black Doc Martins, and a thick, black hooded sweater. Her honey-colored neck was hidden beneath a gray wool scarf.
The light on the other side of the crosswalk flicked green, and the crowd began to move, like a giant frothing wave. The girl ran forward, dodging a strange smelling homeless man sitting on the side of the street. He was holding up a cardboard sign on which had been scrawled in messy handwriting the words, "Happy New Year. God Bless and Save us from Destruction." She slowed to a stop as she neared a large store with bright, neon lights lining the display case. The girl paused to catch her breath, leaned against the white wall, and waited, hands hidden in her long sleeves clenched to her chest. Her breath came in white clouds from her mouth, distilling in the cool air. Giant buildings surrounded the street, alight and towering under the dark gray sky.
Something cold and wet touched her nose. She rubbed it away and looked up. A small, delicate white flake of snow fluttered down from the dark. She reached out and caught it in her hand, where it melted on contact. The girl clenched her hand before it retreated back into her sleeve. Snow in San Francisco was very rare. But it was pleasant.
"Aria!" A cheery voice called her name. Aria's head swiveled to her left, and she grinned as she spotted her friends John, Daniel, and Elise. John waved to her, and she ran towards him. The coffee skinned, well built, long haired 19-year-old picked her up in a crushing embrace before setting her down. Aria laughed and tugged on his elbow-length ebony hair. Suddenly, she felt thin pale arms snake around her waist from behind as her skinny, lightly freckled friend Elise embraced her. Aria acknowledged her warmly and hugged her back. She then greeted Daniel, to which the tall 22-year old had to stoop over to pat her back and return the embrace.
"Is it cold enough for you, John?" Aria asked him, grinning. He stuck out his tongue.
"Quite, yes." He responded. He was wearing a dark navy cotton gamer hoodie with some Dungeon & Dragons dice beneath it and a pair of baggy blue denims. Daniel had on a large sized jacket which still seemed too small for him at the sleeves because of his tall stature, and a pair of loose sweatpants. Elise wore dark jacket lined with duct tape over a wool sweater along with blue jeans tucked around a pair of black vans. A red-and-black checkered wool scarf was wrapped around her neck, embracing her long, ginger hair. The three of them began to walk in the opposite direction, following the crowd of people wandering along Mission Street.
"It's snowing." Aria announced brightly.
"What? Where?" Daniel replied, shocked.
"I caught a flake a few minutes ago."
"Seriously?" Elise responded, incredulously. "It never snows here." Daniel assented this.
"It's probably effects of global climate change" Aria said.
"Or the end of the world" John muttered, grinning mischievously. Elise rolled her eyes.
"What the heck, John" She nudged him. "You know that's all bullshit." Aria laughed.
"So, where is the restaurant, anyway?"
"It's only a block up ahead. We need to cross over there." John replied. They walked together to the end of the block, gossiping, laughing, and jostling through the crowd. As they stopped in front of a large crosswalk behind a crowd of people, Aria felt something wet fall upon her cheek again. She heard gasps around her and looked up. Small white snowflakes, as light and delicate as an owl's down feathers fell from the dark sky in numbers, shimmering in the lights like thousands of milky-white crystals. Excited cries and laughs erupted from the people around them. Children and adults alike jumped and batted at the small flakes, reveling in the rare spectacle.
"This is amazing." Elise gasped.
"Yeah…" Aria whispered back, looking up.
"Maybe the world really is going to end." Daniel said.
"God damnit Daniel!" Elise shoved the tall boy, exasperated. "Way to ruin the moment!"
"Yeah, girls? How long are you going to stand there gawking like a couple donkeys on an ice flow? The light's green."
Aria snapped to attention, and ran to catch up to John's amused smirk. She punched him lightly on the shoulder.
"You're the donkey." She muttered.
"Are you calling me fat?" He exclaimed, absolutely shocked.
"She's calling you an ass." Elise grinned, taking Aria's arm and pulling her to the sidewalk.
"That's a terrible joke." She heard John mutter crossly behind them.
They finally reached the entrance of a large, crowded restaurant. The words "Apocalypse Heaven" glowed brightly in neon red block letters across the front of the store. The windows were lined with white skulls with glowing red eyes and tall crimson candles dribbled blood-red wax from small flames which burned an unnatural fuchsia.
"Who picked this place?" Elise glared at the two boys. Aria stifled a laugh.
"If this isn't appropriate, I don't know what is." Daniel replied.
"Yeah but look at that line." Aria said gesturing at the endless stretch of huddling people lined against the wall.
"That's what reservations are for!" John said, smiling as he skipped up to the front of the line, gave his name to the waitress, and beckoned us in.
"We had to reserve three months in advance." Daniel whispered to the two girls.
"This place is relatively new, isn't it?" Elise asked. Daniel nodded.
"Its new to here, but the actual company has been around for a while. The place has actually been moved from LA to here. And they've moved at least half a dozen other times before, under this name."
"Woah, really?" Elise said, eyes wide.
"Why move so often? They look pretty successful…" Aria asked. Daniel shrugged.
They followed John into the building, and were suddenly wrapped in a very pleasant heat and the mouthwatering scents of barbecued meats and spices. The interior was large and filled with long, elegant, wooden tables and velvet lounge couches all filled with people. The walls were painted a dark red and the dim, low hanging lights gave an eerie feeling to the interior. A large, bright fire burned in a brick fire-place on one side of the room. Aria came to a sudden halt as she almost collided with a waitress, and quickly apologized. She was wearing a short sleeved thigh-high red dress with a thick black belt squeezing her slim waist, and long, silky, auburn hair cascaded over her shoulders around her neck, where a thin black ribbon was tied. The waitress smiled and nodded, and swept by, deftly carrying a large golden plate adorned with deliciously smelling foods in each hand. Aria gazed after her, awed. Aria heard John whistle softly after her and jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow.
"It's like a vampire cult." Elise whispered to Aria, giggling. She laughed and continued to follow the others up a pair of steep, red-carpeted spiraling stairs until they reached a small, four-person square table at the end of the second level room. They faced a large clear window with a direct view of Mission Street. The four friends pulled back the polished, black, red cushioned chairs and sat down at the table.
A young man, most likely in his early twenties, placed four sleek black menus on the table. He wore a pair of loose black dress pants and a black collared shirt that was slightly unbuttoned, revealing milky pale, taunt skin and a silver chain grasping his neck. He had strikingly beautiful, well defined features, with dark eyes, high cheekbones, and thick lashes. His long ebony hair was tied back with a crimson ribbon and hung loosely over his back.
"Hello." He said with a smile. "My name is Lucian. I'll be your waiter for tonight." His eyes met Aria's briefly, and he flashed her a white-toothed grin and winked before leaving. Aria felt a surge of blood sweep over her face and looked down. Elise nudged her slightly and leaned over to whisper in her ear, "Holy shit, he's gorgeous!" They snickered at each other, until they caught sight of the boys' uninterested looks glaring from the other side of the table.
"A hot waitress over there, but we just had to get the guy." John sighed, chin leaning heavily on his hand.
"Oh you're just jealous you're not as good looking." Elise teased. He glared at her.
"That she-man? He looked like some kind of pretty playboy vampire poser to me." John sniffed.
"Agreed." Daniel added. I laughed.
"Alright guys, vampire poser or not, the food isn't going to jump on our plates until they order so let's look at our options." Aria picked up one of the menus and opened it up. A diverse variety of spiced meats, vegetables, noodles, rice options, salads, and entrees lined six pages of the menu, from every day market foods to exotic meals she recognized from Europe, Africa, and Asia. She whistled.
"Well there's quite the choice, guys. What do you say we share two entrees, some veggies, a meat plate, as long as it isn't pork, and some noodles or rice." She said. The rest proceeded to open the menu and Elise assented.
"Sounds good." Daniel said. "So what do you guys want?"
They spend the next fifteen minutes bickering over what to order until they finally settled on their order. Aria looked around to find the waiter, but, as if on cue, he appeared before them, a sleek smile adorning his lips.
"So, you guys ready?" He asked in a deep, lithe voice.
John rolled his eyes. He muttered, "Yeah, how about some barbequed originality with a side of get- a-li-!" John doubled over, biting his lip from the impact of Elise's shoe on his shin from under the table. She looked up at the waiter apologetically.
"Don't mind him." She smiled. The waiter's eyebrows rose and he smiled, looking back at John.
"I'm sorry, sir." He said, in a mockingly professional tone. "We've run fresh out of life. May I recommend instead our juicy, medium-rare courtesy lesson topped with chopped you're-just-jealous?"
Aria and Elise giggled. John scowled.
"Does it come with fries?" Daniel interjected.
The waiter nodded enthusiastically. "Garlic. Keeps the vampires at bay." He winked at the girls.
"Alright," Elise laughed. "Enough. Let's order ok? I'm getting hungry here."
"Alright." Daniel said. "So we'll have the number 5 and 6 entrees, the pineapple chicken, sautéed peppers and green beans, and the mushroom brown rice. And to drink? I'll have a draft beer. Heineken. " He looked at us.
"I'll have a coke." Aria said.
"Just water for me."
"Do you have Rockstars?" John asked. Aria kicked him this time. He winced. "Coke's fine."
The waiter smiled. "So plate numbers 5, 6 15, 22, and 31, two cokes, a Heineken, and a water." He repeated. Aria suddenly noticed he carried no paper pad or menu. He must have worked here for a while to memorize all the plates.
"Do you need my ID?" Daniel asked, reaching a hand to pull out his wallet from his pocket.
"No need." The waiter replied. "You're 22 aren't you?" Daniel's eyebrows shot up.
"Yeah…" He replied slowly. The waiter smiled and with an elegant turn of his heel, he strode to the kitchen. After a short pause, Daniel spoke up.
"Do I really look my age?" Daniel asked, eyes flitting over the girls. Aria shrugged.
"You look like you're in your early twenties." Elise said.
"It was probably a lucky guess." John mumbled, clearly disinterested.
"Well he sure got me…" Aria responded, grinning. "But anyway, have you guys heard about the new Final Fantasy game coming out?" The conversation soon changed to the topic of upcoming video games before heading off to Infected Mushroom's upcoming concert. John bounced up and down in his chair like a giddy child, but Aria just laughed and pointedly announced that she'd rather see Aesthetic Perfection.
"Daniel Graves is a beast!" She said. Elise giggled and assented.
"I like him better in Aesthetic Perfection. Necessary Response is too synth-pop for me." She argued, referring to Grave's second band. Aria nodded and the two proceeded to discuss their favorite bands. John rolled his eyes and sighed, disappointed at how quickly his presence was forgotten. Daniel struck up a conversation with him about Dungeons and Dragons until the food arrived. Aria could smell it before she saw it coming.
A sweet, warm, savory scent that floated up her nostrils and wrapped her in ecstasy. She turned around, cutting off her own sentence. Lucian approached them, deftly holding two trays with their plates on them. He set the trays on the table and began distributing the plates. Aria could hardly keep from drooling right then and there when a steaming hot plate of mushroom brown rice landed in front of her. Aria wasn't particularly fond of mushrooms, but the scent wafting from the plate was beyond heavenly. Across from her, she saw John gaping at what looked like a hollow pineapple complete with a head and wings carved out of carrot, a beak made from the end of a red pepper, eyes of pepper, and the interior stuffed with strips of breaded chicken soaked in a sweet smelling yellow pineapple sauce which oozed from the pineapple. The waiter calmly placed the rest of the plates down, appearing to regard the four ogling teenagers as completely typical, stood up and with a smile and a courteous "Enjoy your meal," strode away.
For a few seconds, the teenagers just sat, staring at the plates. The strips of green peppers and string beans were individually designed into a spiraling vortex that gained several centimeters of height and was topped by chunk of parsley and surrounded by glazed onions. A tomato skin carved like a rose accompanied the dish.
"They really took 'pineapple chicken' literally didn't they." John remarked, eyes still glued to the plate.
"It almost seems a shame to eat it." Elise said. After another momentary pause, Aria picked up her fork and reached for the voluminous papaya salad entree.
"Well, I don't know about you guys, but this is all making me hungry so let's eat up." She said, scooping some of the mouth-watering salad into her plate. With that, the rest of the group snapped out of their reverie and started serving themselves. The food was beyond delicious. For ten minutes, the teens just shoveled the food in their mouths wordlessly, speaking only to ask for another plate. When all the food was whipped clean from the table, Aria sat back and heaved a very satisfied sigh.
"I've got to hand it to them," Daniel said, grinning, "that was probably the best food I've ever eaten, made by vampire posers or not." The three others nodded in assent. Aria sat up suddenly.
"I have to go use the restroom, if you don't mind." She said, nudging Elise on the shoulder gently.
"Oh, I see, skipping out on the check are we?" John drawled suspiciously. Aria shot him a look and rolled her eyes.
"Oh but of course." She pulled out a twenty dollar bill and handed it to Elise. "This should cover my share." Aria skipped away from the table and dodged around a young, blond haired waiter. She looked around, and saw a young boy a few years younger than her in a waiter's outfit standing by the entrance to a small hallway. Aria trotted over to him.
"Excuse me," she asked, "Where could I find the restroom?" She asked. The boy looked up at her blankly, blinked and pointed to the hallway. Aria peered around it and saw a few unmarked doors.
"Which door is it?" The boy scratched his head and hurriedly walked in the hallway. Aria followed. He walked to the end of the hall then sharply turned left at a split. He walked ahead of her, his pace unrelenting. As Aria trotted after the boy, he made a variety of turns, so many that Aria began to suspect if he was indeed bringing her to the restroom. Finally, he stopped abruptly and motioned to a small wooden door. Aria thanked him quietly and stepped inside.
The bathroom was spacious and large, with a pleasant, dim golden light, white tiled floors and a large granite counter with a marble sink and fancy, multicolor, flower shaped soaps. A large wooden framed mirror hung above the sink. Aria quickly relieved herself and washed her hands with a red, rose shaped soap. Wiping her hands off with a paper towel, she checked herself in the mirror quickly, trying to organize at her messy bangs, and slipped out of the bathroom. The boy was still there waiting for her. He acknowledged her with a nod and began walking back the way they came. Aria trailed him silently back to the central buzz of the restaurant and thanked him before walking over to her friends' table. Upon seeing her, the three of them stood up and shuffled over to meet her.
"Here's your change." Elise said, handing Aria three dollars and fifty cents. "It was surprisingly cheap." Aria pocketed the coins and searched her pockets for her wallet. She silently cursed herself. John, Daniel and Elise were already making their way to the entrance of the restaurant.
"Hey, Elise!" She called after her friend. They all looked back at her. "I'll meet you guys out front." Aria called after them. "I think I might have left my wallet in the bathroom." Elise rolled her eyes.
"Why does that not surprise me?" She muttered. Aria stuck her tongue out at her friend and jogged down to the narrow hallway again, dodging the scurrying waiters and their deftly balanced plates. She followed the hallway until reaching the two way split and turned left. She continued down the hall, turned right, then right again, then left. Aria stopped short as she reached a dead end with nothing but a rusty metal door.
"Goddamnit." She breathed. "I forgot what kind of horrendous maze this place is. They need a fucking map for their bathroom." Aria turned the knob and pushed open the door. It creaked on its hinges and groaned against the weight of the wind. Aria closed the door behind her and stepped out into the cool winter air. She closed her jacket tighter around her shoulders. The place appeared to be a private parking lot, with only four cars parked in the middle. Aria enjoyed the clean, crisp air for a bit, softly fingering at her scarf. She turned back to leave when she heard something over the gentle whistle of the wind.
Aria turned her head and craned her ears. She noticed a dark shape on the roof of a building to her right, beside the restaurant, and instinctively crouched behind a nearby car, glancing upwards. As the figure approached the edge of the rooftop, she recognized it to be human, and likely male based on his build, and wondered how a person could have gotten up there. Suddenly, the person leaned forward slightly, and casually stepped off the roof, as if down a stair. Aria muffled a squeak as she watched the person fall.
However, instead of splattering to his untimely and messy death, the figure gently landed on a foot, bending his knee ever so slightly before stepping forward with his other foot and continuing in a completely normal manner. Aria stared with wide eyes through the windows of the car she crouched behind, hand clamped over her mouth, as the figure disappeared in an ally way between the restaurant building and the adjacent building he had leapt off of. The person, she noticed, looked vaguely familiar.
She heard someone giggle.
After her shock dissipated, Aria weighed taking a peek at the ally, just to prove to herself that she hadn't just hallucinated, and retreating back to the restaurant and leaving immediately. Curiosity got the better of her, and Aria walked towards the end of the building and looked around it. In the small, dark alley, Aria made out the shapes of two people. One was a woman with wavy blond hair wearing a short black skirt and high heeled boots, and the other was none other than the long haired waiter, Lucian. Aria choked back a gasp of surprise and hid behind the wall again. However, something urged her to look back, something she'd seen that felt out of the ordinary. Aria held her breath and looked back around the wall.
The handsome waiter was still leaning over the woman, stroking her neck with a pale hand. The man's mouth opened for a second before gently pressing itself against the woman's throat. In that second it was open, strikingly white in the darkness of the alley, Aria caught a glimpse of two, needle- sharp, glistening white fangs.
"Wha –?" Aria started. Suddenly, her vision blurred, and her knees collapsed under her body. Aria saw the waiter snap his gaze towards her, red liquid dribbling down his lips, the woman slumping down against the wall. As she tumbled into darkness, she thought she saw great, black wings rear from his back as he sprang towards her, then the whole world went black.