NOTE: yeah. What can I say? I apologize to my co-writer. Darling, I finished this some time ago and completely forgot to put it up. I'm starting with the third chapter. I'm sorry I'm slow and awful to work with. I blame uni applications and my intrusive social life -.-

I can't say sorry enough. To my readers who are still reading this and haven't dumped me for being a terrible updater, I'm sorry. I'm almost done with next update of BUBBLES and halfway through next update of Broken Umbrella.

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Treading Love and Living Lust

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Chapter Two –Pink Drinks; Hiccup Inducing and Hallucinogens?

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I haven't even the faintest clue as to how the hell I got here. Hang on. Let's backtrack slightly… I'm, well, sitting at a stool in what looks like pub of sorts, at least to the respects that it's got a bar, and some tables and booths and stuff, but it kind of looks like it's been redecorated by an ex-game-designer on LSD. I mean, we're talking colours, weird lights and a cast of freaks rivalled by any horror movie, fantasy flick or alcohol induced imagination. Basically a bunch that I can hardly describe as anything other than freaks. Freaks in ever shape, size and colour, and I swear it's dress up like a slut night or something, because the lack of proper clothing in this room is astonishing…

I am currently drinking uh… well, it's something liquid, I can tell you that much. It's kind of pinkish, like candyfloss pink, and bubbly as well, they're terribly odd little bubbles… It's pleasant stuff though, makes me feel slightly heady, same as a couple of glasses of champagne can do, you know? It's making me feel nice and relaxed too… strangely happy about my life and uh... I think a kelpie is chatting me up… I'm not going to even try to argue with my brain's interesting logic right now.

At least, this thing looks like a kelpie. It's tall, taller than me anyways, which isn't that much of a feat, and it's slim in that lean and hard way I have never quite been able to attain, hard as I try. It's hair is all long and silky, the way that long hair usually looks underwater… and it's this strange sort of murky colour, like the bottom of a lagoon or something, and, you know… I think it has seaweed in it. It's wearing a dress shirt and black trousers with old-fashioned braces, but its clothes are wet, completely sticking and clinging to its skin… and there's water dripping off it onto the bar where it's leaning and puddling by its feet.

At this point, I think it's pretty safe to assume that I have somehow managed to get myself high on some extremely potent hallucinogenic. I can't remember doing so, but maybe that's one of the side effects. There is no other rational, reasonable or even sane reason why I am doing what I'm doing right now…

"Do you have something you want to give me?" the kelpie thing asks, with this really low voice that sounds like gravel scraping over itself underwater. Okay, that is no way the voice of anything female… I have thus established that it is a guy. He's looking at me very strangely and his eyes are a weird colour, like oil spills on puddles. Pretty… but eerie.

I just shrug. I am going to ignore the fact that I am conversing and interacting with a figment of my imagination or drug induced state.
"I'd have to think about it," I tell him, and my voice comes out sounding really long and slow, definitely drugged. Oh fuck it, maybe this pink stuff is spiked? Probably, because it is making my head feel like fluffy cotton and my tongue feel very heavy… I may have a problem here… Come in base? This is Damien. Red alert. Red alert.
"Think about it, then," the kelpie replies reasonably. He grins revealing sharp, polished, pearly looking teeth, and as he does so water flows from his mouth, like a drowned corpse when it's being lifted up. It's sort of creepy, especially since he isn't drinking anything, but somehow I'm not too fazed… the pink stuff affecting me again I'll bet.

"I can't think," I tell him, because it seems like the safest thing to say, and because it's basically true. He smiles slightly.
"You can't think? Shouldn't that help?" the kelpie asks, raising its eyebrows. I think for a moment.
"I wouldn't think so," I inform him slowly, trying to get my head around what we were actually talking about.
"You think too much," the kelpie declares and I am half inclined to agree, then decide against it, as it isn't true.
"I don't think I do," I say, because it's true.
"Give me a thought, then. You clearly have too many of them anyway, it doesn't matter which one." I shrugged again, and because I can't be bothered keeping up with the whole conversation anyway, I say:
"Whatever." He frowns and I wonder what was wrong with my answer. I return to my drink, taking a long draught from the tall glass and hiccupping slightly.

"Are you mortal?" the kelpie asks suddenly.
"I should be," I say. I'm not so sure anymore, it's such a debatable thing, I mean, really, do most humans hallucinate about kelpies chatting them up at psychedelic bars full of freaky people?
"What brings you here, then?" His interest unnerves me slightly, but, finally a question that makes sense and that I can answer sensibly! I smile, and hiccup again.
"That guy dragged me here," I tell him, gesturing towards my uh… friends? I do so relatively normally in my opinion, but the movement goes a little more than I'd intended, and I have to steady myself on my bar-stool. "You know, that guy over there?" I hiccup. "Dude with the crazy red hair? Pretty face? Glitters and wings? Wants to be a rockstar? With that dude with the insane black hair? And the violet? And stuff?" I turn towards the kelpie, wondering whether he's feeling like my answer isn't so sensible after all, which is what I'm feeling, as somehow the answer in retrospect looks almost as nonsensical as the rest of our conversation has been. I hiccup. To my great surprise, though… I turn to meet a terrified oil-spill stare. The kelpie has definitely gone a shade paler and looks rather scared.

"You're Delirium's?" the kelpie hisses, his voice less soothing and suddenly feral, suddenly frightened and frightening.
"I'm no one's," I counter, probably sounding like those feisty chicks from historical romances… just more slurred and finishing it off with some more dignified hiccups.
"You're Delirium's!" repeats the kelpie, looking panicked. "Why didn't you say so earlier? I'm…I'm leaving." I feel a little startled and can manage nothing more than:
"Alright." The kelpie gets up and leaves in a hurry, leaving a trail of puddles behind him. I cock my head to one side, watching him go, then hiccup eloquently.

"I want another one of those pink things," I tell the bartender. She (or he, according to your point of view, I suppose) nods at me, looking at something around, behind or in front of me (it's hard to tell because its eyes had no distinguishable irises or pupils) and proceeded to pour me a second glass of the pink stuff. She/he hands it me and I grab it greedily, slurping down a few more swigs. Too bad if it's drugged… it's a bit late now anyway. A red-haired wannabe-rock-star has just entered my field of vision, perching himself on top of the stool the kelpie just vacated.

"Greetings mortal!" he says cheerfully, giving me a little royal wave. "How are you enjoying yourself?"
"Okay," I reply, not very wittily, hiccupping and peering a him over my pink drink. He looks back at me curiously and smiles in a bemused manner. I hiccup again and he smirks. I scowl at him and he sits up straight suddenly.
"Now then," red says, looking somewhat serious and business-like. I don't like referring to him as red so I decide to ask his name.
"What's your name?" I ask. My voice sounds slurred and silly.
"My name?" Mr wannabe-rock-star looks at me as though I've just asked the stupidest question it's possible to ask. "I'm Delirium." He states with a scathing glance at me. The way he just said that makes me absolutely certain that had he known the expression 'duh', he would have added it with a great deal of emphasis.

"I'm Damien," I tell him, thinking it polite to say so. Apparently he thinks not.
"Your name is of little to no importance," Delirium informs me, indicating the insignificance of my name with a dismissive wave of his long-fingered, pale hand. I feel confused and suspect I'm slightly shocked. I hiccup. "You are our human manager. Why would you need a name?" he adds with a confused look on his pretty face. He laughs at the sheer absurdity of it all. It actually hurts slightly as I realise that he is being completely serious, he understands no reason why I should need a name. He stops laughing and stares at me, frowning. I shift on my stool, feeling a little intimidated by the intensity of his stare. I hiccup nervously and take a sip of my pink concoction.

"Do you not have glasses?" he asks me suddenly. I don't understand.
"Glasses?" I repeat slowly, trying to get my head around how this connects to anything.
"Glasses… these pieces of glass humans wear in front of their eyes to make themselves look more intelligent?"
"I know what glasses are," I say, somehow failing to sound offended. Still confused. I tip my head slightly to one side and hiccup, he raises his eyebrows.
"Well? Do you not have any of those?" he demands, looking at me expectantly.
"I do," I tell him, "But I left them at home," I shrug. Delirium sighs in exasperation.
"That is vexatious. Can't you get other ones?" he asks me, clearly annoyed.
"I could, but I don't have the money."

"Money? These scraps of coloured paper that smell strange? Unhealthy things you humans use to control each other?" Delirium asks, excitedly. I stumble over my words, taken aback by his bizarre enthusiasm.
"Uh…you could say that, I guess." I hiccup violently now, my body jumping slightly. I glance at my pink drink wondering if it is the cause of the cursed hiccups which are making me seem incredibly stupid.
"I can make you as many of these as you wish, don't worry. What have you in your pockets?" I frown and put down my fizzy pink concoction for a moment to dig my hands into my tight jeans pockets. I rummage through them and my hands come out clasping fistfuls of brightly coloured sweet wrappers and creased used tissues.
"Perfect!" Delirium trills. I nod slightly, feeling worried and picking up my drink, taking a long swig of it and watching my red-headed friend carefully.

He takes a sweet wrapper, picking it up between middle finger and index, and flicks it around in a dizzyingly rapid and deft movement. I blink, hiccup, and it's a £50 note he's holding. He hands it to me with a smug smile and I take it and look at it. A £50 note. A real, actual £50 note. I think my eyes are bugging out of my head. Maybe I really do need glasses. This cannot be possible. It is impossible. I look up at Delirium and hiccup, mouth hanging open. Classy, aren't I? I take a sip of my pink fizzy stuff and look back at my £50 pound note.

Suddenly, I have been overcome with this feeling that maybe, and I repeat, maybe… being this guy's band manger isn't so bad after all. I smile slightly at him and he positively beams, his eyes are lit up with this crazy gleam.

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When we're finished celebrating (what, how or why we were celebrating were all things that completely escape me, but I don't dare ask,) Delirium asks what the next on the agenda is. I tell him very frankly that I don't know, hiccup, sip my third pink fizzy thing, and he gives me a look that threatens seventy different kinds of tortures that my human mind wouldn't even be able to imagine.

I look quickly down at my lap, frowning and I start thinking really quickly about all the band-related books I've read, films I've watched, and magazines I've disinterestedly flicked through. I'm in that sort of panicking mode, my hands are shaking, I glance up at Delirium who is now looking at me with a face that's doing the absolute binary opposite of smiling, eyes that glint scary goldish in the sepia glow of lamplights, piling the pressure on me as I think desperately. I hiccup violently in semi-fear and return my eyes to my lap. Violet-twirling man is just twirling the violet between his nimble pianist's fingers, his gaze fixed at a point somewhere directly between the dream world and the world of the dead (or at least, that's what it looks like) so at least that's something. He creeps me out. Seriously.

I rack my thoughts roughly, trying to think of something, anything.
"Band meeting?" I blurt out exactly the same moment as I think of it… I decide it's pointless trying to think of something better, and anyway, Delirium doesn't look like he'd know if I was doing it all wrong. He nods at me, looking less evil and scary suddenly, an excited smile on his face. He really hasn't a clue… and neither have I, but he's in charge, so I nervously clear my throat, then hiccup again.

This is probably why, about twenty minutes later, I find myself sitting on a wet park bench somewhere, shoes, socks and feet thoroughly soaked, half-naked tree branches over me dripping remnants of raindrops on my pathetic deceased hairstyle, dripping down the back of my shirt and making me shiver. I am now shivering and hiccupping. I also feel very confused as I face my two employers, who are sat comfortably on two high-backed, velvet-cushioned, heavily bedecked polished rosewood chairs.

I decide that asking where the chairs came from is probably not a wise idea, however I do sit debating whether or not asking if I can have a nicer chair is allowed. When I see Delirium's expectant face, I decide against it: he looks impatient.
"Well?" he asks me, golden eyes focused solely on me, serious and bright. He's sitting with his elbows on the armrests, his hands joined at the fingertips the way that guy does in The Matrix. It makes him seem very commanding. I hiccup nervously. Why won't these fucking hiccups go away?
"Well what?" I ask quietly, unsure.
"Well? Proceed!" Delirium demands, sounding like he's used to dishing out orders and being obeyed. It's slightly unsettling. "What do we do?" he asks impatiently.
"How about you tell me?" I ask, a sudden burst of confidence surging through me. I shouldn't let him push me around, after all, he wanted to do this, so surely he should know what to do!

Uh oh… he looks a little annoyed. Was that rude? I shrink into myself slightly… hiccupping quietly into my hand.
"How should I know? You're the mortal manager, not I!" he replies testily. I don't think he's being very fair, I never asked to do any of this! I was pressured into it! He needs to back off a little bit, I mean, why's he got the right to yell at me like this? Who the hell does he think he is?
"You're the one who came up with the stupid idea of becoming a rockstar and making me, of all people, your manager!" I point out, maybe a little louder than was wise, feeling angry all over again. I hiccup a few times in succession.
"I will not be spoken to in that tone!" Delirium says, and he sounds very angry. Somehow I'm not scared.
"Fine then! How about I leave?" I half yell back at him, and this time I'm afraid all control has left my tone, and I do sound angry, and furious, and spiteful and all these things that Jedis would tell you lead to the dark side. Maybe I can buddy up with Darth Vader? At least he seems capable of kicking Delirium's ass.
"How about you hold your tongue!" Delirium cries, furiously. Except that he sounds like an angry little boy whose hair you just feel like ruffling affectionately and saying: 'aw, ain't he cute?'
"Make me!" I yell. My teenage rebellion seems to be going far better than I'd initially hoped: in one day, I get to slam a door, run away from home, and use the sentences: 'No one understands me' and 'Make me!'. What a record, I can't wait to let Sandro know. He'll be so proud, I can tell.
"I certainly will!" Delirium hisses, sounding very dangerous indeed. I no longer want to ruffle his hair. He stands up and snaps his fingers at me. The sound is very high and inordinately snappy, like a dry twig being snapped into two.

'Fine then, bring it on bitch!' I yell, except my voice doesn't leave my throat. It's like it's left my body entirely: I'm forming the word and shaping my lips and pushing the air and constricting my throat in all the right ways, but my voice is just gone. I clutch at my throat, looking at him in sudden panic, reminding myself incredibly of The Little Mermaid Disney Version™. I hiccup silently and curse inwardly.

"Thank you," Delirium says voice icy and imperious. "Now, if we may. You are our manager. You have signed a contract. You will behave towards my band-mate and I with the respect I feel is due to a rock-star." He smiled coldly and sternly. "If you fail to do so," he adds with a measure of vicious pleasure dripping from his hissed words, "then you will be punished. And let me tell you, mortal boy: our people have ways of making someone regret something such as you wouldn't be able to imagine in your wildest, most horrifying dreams. And even if that isn't enough to convince you, let this do: Ethereal is a Knight."

Delirium utters the last sentence like it's the most groundbreaking piece of information I'm likely to get in all my life. I blink slowly, do one of those bizarre silent hiccups. I stare at him and try to work out what's so groundbreaking about it, but from where I'm standing, it just doesn't make sense, at all, so I don't say anything. Not like I can, anyways. I just do the blank-stare thing, which, I've been told I do quite skilfully. Sandro told me that, and I do believe him, but then, what if he was being sarcastic? Ugh, I hate even trying to work this kind of stuff out.

"And thus, you may," says Delirium calmly, interrupting my riveting mental conversation with myself.

Delirium does a flick with his fingers that looks both elegant and abrupt and a little strange but somehow very him, and I get a feeling in my throat like swallowing a hard-boiled sweet whole. I cough slightly and hiccup. I hear it this time. I sigh in slight relief, looking up at the red-head with a measure of trepidation.
"Proceed," Delirium said, with an air of grandeur about his person.

"Songs, then," I say quickly, because it's the first logical thing that came to mind and I don't want to have my voice suddenly disappear on me again. I think back on what I'd just thought and realise there is something distinctively twisted and wrong about the way I was thinking and what is going on right now…

What a normal person should be thinking at this point should be more along the lines of how did my voice disappear and why did it seem like Delirium somehow made it disappear? What the heck is this on Delirium's back, wings or something? And why in hell do he and violet-twirling dude seem to have wings anyways? What was that weird pub all about, and my kelpie friend dude who panicked the second he realised I was there with Delirium? Why does Delirium give the impression of thinking that I'm a mortal and therefore he is an immortal? How is that possible? Why does violet-twirling dude twirl the violet? Who is he anyway? What the fuck is happening to my life and where do I go to buy the normal one back? Most importantly though, why the fuck won't my hiccups go away?

"What are you?" I ask, as politely as I can make it sound, starting with one of the obvious questions, then hiccup. Damn those pink fizzy drinks… I need to hold my breath. I take a breath an close my mouth firmly.
"Us? But we are rock-stars!" Delirium declares passionately, a grin on his face. He frowns at me slightly. "What are you doing?" he asks me, "Stop!" he demands and clicks his fingers, without any conscious want to do so, I let out the breath I was holding and hiccup immediately. He cocks his head in confusion.
"Why on earth do you keep making that noise?"
"Hiccups," I mumble, embarrassed. Delirium looks confused.
"Can you stop making these hiccups, they are annoying," he demands. I shrug apologetically then say:
"I can't stop them… I need something to surprise me, or shock me or something…" I trail off, sounding foolish. Delirium seems to be thinking.

I close my eyes tiredly, trying to push against an approaching headache. Woah. What the fuck is that!? My eyes fly open and all I can see is glitter and gold and red, and I can definitely feel someone's mouth on mine. The hell!?

Then it's gone and Delirium, who I presume that just was, is now back in his chair. I am staring slack jawed and he's smirking.
"I… uh.. what?" I say weakly, feeling dizzy. I close my mouth, then lick my lips, tasting something sweet and dangerous, like the burn vodka gives you on the back of your throat.
"The hiccups are gone, we are done with that minor problem now I think. What were we saying before this interruption?" I close my mouth and feel very stupid at the face I'm pulling. I suppose, I did say I need something to shock or surprise me and he did…uh, do so.

"What are you?" I ask again, returning to the conversation where it had previously left off. He nods and smiles slightly impatiently,
"I already told you, we're rock-stars!" I huff. That is not what I'm asking him.

"He means: what are you?" Violet twirling dude cuts in with a drawl. His voice is beautiful in the way no voice should be allowed to be, beautiful in a dangerous way, beautiful like the glint on an assassin's blade before it slits your throat, beautiful like the place where dreams meet nightmares, beautiful like the sweet and spine-tingling sound of breaking porcelain, smoky and rasping and rough like velvet, with a papercut edge to it… all that and so much more. God… why didn't he speak more often? Seriously… I could die listening to that voice.

"Ah, that!" Delirium says with the air of someone who has been illuminated with the same celestial illumination I was waiting for in vain just before I met him. He laughs. "I'm faery. Eth is too."

"Fairy? Like… gay?" I ask, raising my eyebrows, and immediately wish I could stuff the words back down my throat like Delirium had done with my voice when I caught the disdainful glare sent my way by the violet-twirling dude- Ethereal is he called?

"Gay?" Delirium asks, looking confused. I let my shoulders drop, I feel very frustrated right now. You have no idea. So that's it, is it? A couple of druggie homos who want to make it big time….oh my God…Velvet Goldmine.

"Damien, you are a fool…" murmurs Ethereal, glancing up at me. I feel very small and insignificant when he's giving me a death glare like that, but his voice has already made me melt. "Faery you imbecile… faery like wings, like the touch on your skin at night when you turn around and there's no-one there, like magic, like glamour, like cuts and love words, like glimpses of beauty, like sharp edges and lies like spiderwebs…" he drawls, and again, this whole voice-rape thing. God, if he could sell his voice in a bottle it would immediately become the most addictive substance known to man. I can verify that. Maybe I should ask him to record himself talking?

"Ah. That kind of faeries," I say slowly. Goddamn. Am I still high?

I need to get my head around this. Faeries. Right. It makes sense, after all. But it's impossible. Or is it? Who am I to say? I mean, no, no… it can't be real, faeries are from little kids' story books, this is nonsense. This isn't real… but it feels very, very real. Very real indeed. I did lose my voice pretty miraculously after all. I mean… oh my God, how am I supposed to be dealing with this? How does one rationally deal with this? Is there a way to rationally deal with this? I can't take this! Seriously… Okay. Faeries. I am a band manager for a pair of faeries who want to be rock-stars… or Delirium does anyway. I got that. Well… I guess, I can continue denying it, or just accept it. I choose accept I guess. There is not other way this can be happening unless I've lost my mind and I would rather that was not the case. Okay. Got it. I am perfectly sane. I am a band manager for a pair of faeries. This is fine. Deep breaths.

"Is he okay?" asks Delirium quietly. I can only just hear him and Ethereal replies, sounding amused.
"He's just getting his head around it all. It may take him a moment to get back on track." Oh damn… that drawl. I shiver slightly, then shake my head, clearing it. I think back to our last trains of thought.

"Songs," I say, firmly, looking from one faerie to the other, unsurely.
"Songs!" Delirium twitters, repeating the word with some delight.
"Well? Have you got any?" I ask the two of them, getting a bad feeling.
"No..?" replies Delirium, seeming confused. I huff and ask:
"Well, how do you expect to become a rockstars if you have no songs with which to rock an audience into adoring you?" The two exchange slightly blank looks, then Delirium glowers at me darkly, I swallow nervously.
"How about you tell me how to do a song, instead of giving me negative attitude?" he asks, icily, eyes burning holes in me. I decide not to snap back.
"Right, how to write songs? Erm… uh… you sit at your instruments. Uh… find tunes. Adjust. Come up with lyrics, verses, choruses? Instrumentals. Experiment a bit. Do finished versions. Pick out which one sounds best. Name it. Start again." I finish my blathering and look at the pair slightly worriedly. Delirium stares at me blankly, gold eyes wide and confused.

"Instruments? Tunes? Adjust? Lyrics? Choruses? Instrumentals? Experiment?" he repeats very, very blankly, sounding more and more confused as he reels off the list.

This is when I realise just how deeply I'm in trouble.

So deep that I can't even see daylight?

No, deeper.

Oh shit.

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NOTE: I know I have no right to demand reviews, but please, review for the sake of my beautiful, darling, patient co-writer. Thank you all for reading this far.