Club Nightshade glowed darkly as we pulled into its parking lot. Let me explain. It glowed because there were so many lights on the outside of the building to let people know it was open that night. I say ‘darkly’ because, for one, the building is painted black, and secondly because a lot of the lights used had darker colors on them– dark blue, deep red, royal purple. The building itself had a façade reminiscent of the Victorian era, looking formal yet creepy, wrought iron bars overlaid over many of the accents. There was also a banner announcing that a new DJ was debuting that night.
We showed our VIP passes to a bouncer in a red and gray suit at the door, as he bowed slightly as he let us in. The place already smelled of rich cologne an incense, and it was still bright inside to allow the crews to get everything set up. There were lighting tests and safety checks and– another employee in a suit and top hat stopped us to check our IDs so that he could get us wristbands for the bar.
“It’s going to get crowded later and you don’t want to be waiting in line for these,” he said as he fastened each wristband for us.
I thanked him, and he had the bartender give each of us a water bottle before pointing us in the direction of the stage. We found Stefan behind the wide podium, checking his equipment as he got things plugged in.
“Okay,” he said from under a tangle of cable, “let’s boot up and start the sound checks.”
“What song are you using for that these days?” I asked.
“Wait, what–” Stefan choked as he crawled out from under everything. He looked up at us, then a wide grin crossed his face. “You’re here!”
“O’ course we’re here, lad,” Killian said.
Stefan got to his feet. “You guys came really early.”
“What else are VIP passes good for?” I said with a wink.
Stefan didn’t reply right away. He looked over the sleek black slacks Killian had gotten on, and the silk shirt in black with a pair of long black dragons embroidered down the front. I’d gotten him to not wear the leather pants he preferred for club nights, considering it was still warm this time of year. The Stefan’s blue eyes shifted over to Larsa.
“I see Killian managed to convince you to wear black this evening.”
Larsa blushed. Stefan was mostly accurate; Larsa almost never wore black, preferring lighter colors and those traditionally worn by the people of his culture. But I was the one who’d convinced Larsa to try on the black jeans he now wore; they actually looked really good on him. He’d managed to get out of wearing the chainmail belt Killian had offered to lend him, but he did seem to like the braided leather bracelets we found at the store. He also had on a white collared shirt with a vest of black and sapphire brocade, and a plain silver chain necklace.
“I lent him a thing or two,” Killian explained, “an’ took ‘im shopping. I think he had more fun watchin’ me get dressed up.”
Stefan peered closer at Killian. “Well… What do you know? He got you to put on make-up?”
I let out a lough that sounded more like a giggle than I’d intended it to. “Larsa saw me putting on make-up and asked Killian if he wore it, too.” Killian definitely didn’t wear make-up before, even on previous goth nights. “It was interesting helping him apply it, to say the least.”
“The eyeliner actually looks really good on you,” Stefan told him, earning him a wary look from Killian. “No, I really mean it.”
Killian smiled a little, still uncertain about to look. The lipstick I’d given him was a deep red that managed to blur the line between black and maroon. It suited him, actually– in a gothic way. I was secretly wondering how things would go when they started making out later. I was so lost in thought that it took me a few moments to realize that Stefan’s eyes were still on me.
“Y– You…” I saw his Adam’s apple move as he swallowed hard; I decided not to say anything about it just then. “You brought that dress.”
That dress. He was so close to actually adding the emphasis. The truth is, I’d forgotten until that moment that he’d seen me in this dress before. The sleeves are all lace, and the lace is woven in the shape of bats in various sizes. The body of the dress is something between a corset and a medieval bodice, made of green silk overlaid with the same lace. It was low-cut, and some of the green silk lining peeked out from the top. The skirt portion continued the layers of green silk and lace, except there were more layers, and if poofed out a little.
I– back when I’d been dress-shopping years ago– remember being glad that it went down to my knees, because I really don’t like anything shorter than that. I actually have a couple other dresses that I like more than this one, but they don’t go well with the warm weather we get in early autumn. I had lacy tights on under the dress, but I’d had to get the kind with skulls because there were no bat stockings. Then there were my Doc Martens, of course. I couldn’t find my lace gloves, and I didn’t feel like buying new ones unless it was colder.
I nodded slowly. He’d been all compliments that last time I’d worn this dress to goth night, and I don’t know why I didn’t remember that when I’d seen the dress in my closet. But I was remembering it now. And my cheeks felt warm. And he was now grinning– not in a weird way, just…. just pleasantly happy. Stefan’s always a gentlemen like that.
“You’re going to be the best-dress young lady at my debut,” he commented. “And that dress actually makes sense for the season… unlike what I picked out.”
“Oh really?” I looked him over, noting his well-worn indigo Henley and the jeans that had once been dark blue, but were now more approaching a typical shade.
He chuckled. “Not this, obviously,” he said, understanding what I was thinking. “This is just what I’m wearing while I get set up. No sense in getting my special garb dirty.”
“Is it something I’ll recognize?” I asked. I remember the skin-tight leather pants he’d dance in back when we were in college.
“Not unless you were peeking in the back of my closet,” he said with a wink.
Around that time, one of Club Nightshade’s crew-mates came by. “All right, DJ, are you ready to do sound checks?” she asked as she handed him a bottle of water.
“Most definitely,” he replied.
A dark, smooth song for the goth in you: