I don’t know how long it took for Killian to get there, but it took him and Larsa backing up Stefan’s insistence that I go sit down for me to actually do it. There was an extra chair on the DJ podium, close to Stefan’s controls.
“We saw everything from upstairs,” Killian said once he’d given me his water bottle and I’d taken a drink.
“I’m glad security thought to put a panic button on the console,” Stefan said. He’d pulled his chair around to face me, and he was giving me as much space as he could while still holding my hand. “Do you know who that guy was?”
I looked from Killian to him and shook my head. “I’ve never even seen him before tonight.”
“He really fixated on you,” Stefan noted. He turned to gaze up to the top of the stairs; the tall man was already out of sight, but Stefan’s thoughts were still racing. He sighed. “I have so many questions… but I’d say it’s more important to give you a break and ask them later.”
“Are you going to call the cops on that guy?” Killian asked, looking hopeful.
Stefan shrugged and looked at me. “I can send a message to the owner right now if you want to get the police involved.”
I shook my head. “I… No, I just…” I sighed and tried to calm my breathing. “What are they gonna do, anyway? I’m leaving town tomorrow, and I’m fine with just never seeing him again.”
“Anything you want, Leila,” Stefan said with a nod. He looked… I don’t know, divided, maybe? Like he wanted the cops to read that guy the riot act and maybe even lock him up for the night, but in reality, Stefan had stopped him before he did anything really bad, so unless he was a known repeat offender, not much would come of it.
There were less than two hours left for goth night. I let Stefan check that the playlist he had lined up was still good, then he toyed with the light show for a while. It was also programmable, so he could queue and time the lights to spin or change color or wave around. Once he was done with that, he sat down next to me again. Killian, having been satisfied that I would be okay, took off with Larsa to do some things.
“You sure you’re okay, Leila?” Stefan asked. His hand touching mine pulled me back out of my thoughts.
“I guess,” I sighed.
“What’s on your mind?”
I met his eyes for a fraction of a moment, then looked away; his worried expression was going to raise my nerves all over again. It was less that the tall man had me pinned down even though I’d thought I could push him off, and more the fact that Stefan was close to punching him. I think he only stopped because he realized that if he used more force than the tall man had, things wouldn’t quite go his way.
I shook my head. If I didn’t say something soon, Stefan was going to think I was way more shaken up than I really was. “He… that guy was so weird.”
“You’ve got that right,” he agreed. “He couldn’t even decide what kind of goth he wanted to be tonight.”
“I don’t think he’s used to the scene,” I suggested.
Stefan scoffed. “He’s used to some scene. Those horns he was wearing didn’t budge even when I took him down; he must know some secret for keeping them in place.”
“Yeah…” I sighed.
“There’s something else, isn’t there?”
Another sigh. “He was just so weird,” I told Stefan. “He gave me the creeps right when he walked in. He… he just seems like he doesn’t belong here.”
“Nobody belongs here who can’t keep their hands off of other patrons– especially my friends!”
I smirked a little. “I guess… I just mean that he’s kinda other-worldly.” When he didn’t reply right away, I rushed to say, “But– argh, I probably just think that because of everything I’ve been drinking tonight. And I’m exhausted.”
Stefan frowned. “Don’t second-guess yourself just because of a few ciders, Leila.” His voice was insistent. “Once we’re done for the night, I’ll get you some waffles and we can talk about or not– whatever you want.”
I was too busy rubbing my hands over my face to form any reply.
“Unless you’d rather just go straight to bed….” he suggested.
“I’m really hungry,” I groaned. Really, I would have liked to just go right back to bed, but I was too hungry to sleep.
“So’s Larsa,” Stefan added with a wink. He seemed content that his remark had gotten a slight smile out of me.
Since meeting him, I’d learned that Larsa was hungry most of the time– but he’d put in plenty of work to account for it. He was restless, in a way. He liked to help around the apartment, carry stuff for us– he’s stronger than I’d first predicted. So far, he seemed like a really good match for Killian.
All that said, the rest of the night– or morning, for the semantically-argumentative– was pretty much uneventful. Once the patrons had left and the crew started to clean up, Stefan and I gave our report to the club owner. The tall man was no longer welcome at Club Nightshade, and swore that he wouldn’t even be in town anymore. The club owner had never seen him before, and Stefan had texted him my perspective on not needing the police to come, security had escorted the man out and watched him disappear into the night.
After that, the four of us headed to our favorite 24-hour diner for waffles and an assortment of other goodies. I slept deeply after that. Stefan slept over again; I think he wanted to make sure I slept okay, even if he did claim he was too tired to drive himself home. I don’t know whether or not his presence had anything to do with my dream, but at least this time my ride with Sleipnir took me through a forest of faeries and quaint cottages.
“Dying Beauty” by James D. Stark: