[Note: I owe scifantasy for suggesting the Baldur/mistletoe myth, amy_star_ for reminding me of the Magic Box Of Hair Metal Cassettes and for making me write a closing paragraph, ap_aelfwine for the codpiece, and, as always, The Clives for turning this from me-ese into readable English.
Also, this post is being left unflocked so I can show it to a couple of people who wouldn't otherwise see it; apologies in advance to any puzzled Supernatural fans who may note Occult is a bit...familiar.]
Title: Kissing Cousins
Disclaimer: These characters and settings belong to their creator, not the author of the fanfiction, and Princely Plots disclaims all responsibility for copyright infringement.
Warnings: Some readers have pointed out that this sounds like slash, and therefore has no place in the PP archive, but a careful reading shows that all events are necessitated by the plot, so we're letting it stand. Also, it is canon that Jab sometimes wears a magic codpiece. ~Warr1or
The road stretched out before them, empty except for the Fury, which purred and throbbed beneath their thighs. The radio had long since died, the one functional classic rock station dissolving by degrees into static, until finally Jab had wordlessly acknowledged defeat by reaching out to switch it off. The missing Magic Box Of Hair Metal Cassettes, recently stolen by some skank of a demon, was a sore point right now. They drove in silence for a while, until his impatience peaked. "So tell me about this case."
Pierce shook his head. "I'm not so sure this is a case."
"There've been, what, two attempted kidnappings? Sounds like a case."
"There are kidnappings every day, and most of them aren't our kind of case," Pierce pointed out. "Besides, I'm not sure this is even real."
Jab waited, and Pierce explained. "I mean...mall kidnappings? Of teenage girls? It sounds like an urban legend. There have been rashes of this sort of story since back in the eighties, and they never trace back to anything real. It's probably just some rumour, blown up out of nothing."
"Teenage girls?" Jab asked, looking less ready to fall asleep at the wheel.
"Down, boy. But, yeah: the two attempted 'kidnappings' involve girls from the local high school, who were hanging around the Mistletoe Grotto."
"Do I even want to know what a Mistletoe Grotto is?"
"According to the high school website, it's a sort of kissing booth, and they're using it to raise money for the local food bank," Pierce said, shrugging. "And now two girls--not volunteers, they were just hanging around--are claiming to have been drugged by someone who tried to kidnap them."
Jab said nothing, and didn't lift his eyes from the road ahead, but Pierce saw the tiny smirk on his face and sighed heavily. "Jail. Bait," he said tersely through clenched teeth.
"What? Did I say anything? I said nothing," Jab protested.
"You didn't have to. You had that 'teenage girls at a kissing booth' look."
"I have a specific look for that?"
* * * * * * *
"Jab Smith and Pierce Wesson," Jab told the hotel clerk. Pierce struggled, unsuccessfully, not to roll his eyes.
* * * * * * *
"So just before you started feeling sick, you were doing what, exactly?" Pierce asked, trying to sound patient. Even Jab was starting to look as if the tedious self-absorbed reality of teenage girls was wiping the fantasy version from his mind.
"I was just standing around the, you know, the grotto."
"Were you, uh, in line to buy a kiss?"
"God, no." She made a face indicating this was the stupidest thing anybody in the history of the world had ever asked. "The grotto sucks. I mean, mistletoe, how lame is that? We were just making fun of it."
"And then," Pierce consulted his notes, "That's when you said you felt a little prick?" Jab snorted, and Pierce glared at him.
"A whole bunch of little pricks." Jab turned away, entirely losing the battle for control over his own facial expression. "They jabbed me in the neck. And that's just what happened to Kate, too, you can ask her. Except it got her in the arm. But there was this sharp pain, and then I felt really dizzy, so I went outside. And while I was sitting out there trying not to puke, this huge hairy white guy asked me to get in his truck. If you ask me," which Pierce hadn't, and had had no intention of, "it's some sort of kidnapping ring, and they're, like, drugging all the hot girls with syringes. I mean, none of the dweebs volunteering for the grotto have been attacked. What does that tell you?"
* * * * * * *
"What does that tell us?" Pierce asked, once they'd politely dismissed the girl, who'd promptly grabbed two of her BFFs and headed for the mall washrooms for whatever it was girls did in groups in public washrooms. He and Jab were standing near the Mistletoe Grotto, at the edge of a crowd composed equally of people waiting in line and people standing in small clumps, mocking the grotto itself.
Jab shrugged. "That she over-estimates her own attractiveness?"
"That's not helpful. Look, do you think she's telling the truth? Was she drugged by a would-be kidnapper?"
"You're the one who said this was just an urban legend, dude," Jab reminded him, knowing even as he spoke that this was the part where Pierce would pull some complicated explanation out of thin air.
"Yeah, but listen," Pierce said, suddenly whipping out a laptop, "this is all happening around the Mistletoe Grotto, right? And there's a lot of mythology surrounding mistletoe."
"Which you're going to tell me about, whether I want to hear it or not."
Pierce ignored this. "For instance, Baldur was killed by being shot with mistletoe. Norse God," he explained, in response to Jab's blank look. "Thought he was immortal. Later he was resurrected, and his mother demanded that everyone celebrate by kissing whenever they passed under the mistletoe. Which is what our victims have in common--they weren't honoring the mistletoe tradition, they were mocking it."
"Could his mother, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a big hairy white dude? Because otherwise I'm not seeing the connection."
"Maybe that's Baldur," Pierce said reasonably.
"Zombie Baldur is pissed at these girls because they aren't kissing under the mistletoe and proving they take his death seriously?" Jab considered this for a moment, then nodded. "Cool. I like it. So if you were an angry formerly-dead dude, what would your next move be?"
Simultaneously they turned to look in the direction of the mall washroom, where the latest not-quite-victim had disappeared. "Ah, crap," said Jab, in answer to his own question, and they started to run.
* * * * * * *
The girl was sitting on the tile floor, wearing a gown and cape completely unlike her own jeans and sweater--which were, Jab saw, neatly folded on the bathroom floor next to her. Some huge guy with shaggy shoulder-length hair and clothes made of leather and coarse wool, sort of like an escaped Viking cosplayer, was patiently cutting her hair while she sobbed and slumped dazedly against the wall. Her two friends--already shorn and redressed--were lying with their heads in her lap, completely unconscious.
As Pierce and Jab entered the already-crowded washroom, the kidnapper jumped to his feet with a roar, and pointed one hand at Pierce, who had uncharacteristically pushed his way ahead of Jab. A handful of white and green glittering, sparkling points spun toward them, dazzling them both. It was a bit like being in a snowglobe when someone had shaken it, except the swirling bits of sparkle were all headed directly at Pierce. Jab, standing behind him, was entirely blocked from the spray.
"Son of a bitch!" Jab exclaimed as Pierce slumped to the floor. Jab knelt tenderly behind him, and saw that there were a handful of tiny spears embedded in the smooth skin of Pierce's face. The hairy Viking guy turned threateningly, and Jab held up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Nothing personal, dude, just an expression. I don't even know your mother."
After an ominous pause the guy hoisted the two sleeping girls to his shoulders and left, not so much walking away as vanishing.
"Freaky," Jab said, and then struggled to sling Pierce over his shoulder. The girl on the floor had stopped crying and was watching him, wide-eyed. "Do you think you can walk? I've kind of got my hands full here." She nodded, and he pointed her back to the mall, where there were already policemen at the grotto. "Go tell them what happened, will you? My partner and I will, uh, catch up to you later on." He slipped past the washrooms and out the back entrance--no point in hanging around a crime scene looking suspicious.
* * * * * * *
"Now it's time for you to research us up some more information," Jab said, caressing the wheel of the car. Pierce was already consulting their Journal of Convenient Stuff.
"They've probably been taken to the Hall of Frigg," Pierce said. He rolled his eyes at the smirk that spread across Jab's face in response. "It's the home of Frigga, the Norse goddess of marriage. She's Baldur's mother, after all, and responsible for the whole mistletoe thing."
The smirk was still there. "Marriage as in..." Jab prompted expectantly. Pierce sighed.
"It's not a euphemism. Marriage as in marriage. Vows, children, home and hearth? All that domestic stuff?"
Jab looked unconvinced. "Are you sure? Because that name really sounds like..."
"I'm sure. These girls are being taken from the mall and forced into a life of wedded bliss, fidelity, and domesticity."
Now Jab looked appalled. "That's horrible! We have to put a stop to this!" Sighing, Pierce buckled his seat belt.
"Do you even know where we're going?"
Jab pulled a crumpled brochure out of his pocket.
"Frigga's B&B offers Old-World Charm?" Pierce read, in tones of complete disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"
"I picked it up at the hotel." Jab squirmed, slightly uncomfortable. "I thought maybe she was running, you know, a...not really a B&B." Pierce looked momentarily blank, then revolted. "Hey, c'mon," Jab protested. "With a name like that, she's pretty much asking people to misinterpret her. Anyway, there's a map on the back."
* * * * * * *
"Yes, the girls are here." Frigga had let them in without question; now they were seated in her overcrowded parlour, refusing cookies and hot drinks from a succession of young teenage girls. For kidnap victims, they looked strangely happy. Maybe they were employees. "They're happy here, you know. Their only punishment will be to make early marriages, and bear children. You'd be surprised how readily they embrace their fate, these days--I blame Twilight, personally. But it makes my job easier, and I do have to enforce the rules about mistletoe, after all."
"And you," Frigga went on, sounding more formal and Goddessy, "are, here in my household, subject to the same law." She pointed upwards, over their head. "Scorn to pay proper tribute to my son, and you will meet the same fate."
Pierce looked up. Sure enough, he and Jab were seated beneath a high ceiling spread with mistletoe. "The same fate? You mean...wives? Happy marriages, and children? Families of our own?" His eyes and voice were wistful.
Beside him, Jab shuddered. "Not a chance," he said decisively, and swept the younger man into his arms, tilting him backwards across his bulging lap before Pierce could do more than sputter weak objections, and silencing him with a punishing kiss.
* * * * * * *
"What about the girls?" Pierce asked, after Jab had dragged him to the car.
"The girls?" Jab reversed carefully, then tore out of the parking lot in a cloud of dust.
"The teenage brides-to-be? The young women we were here to rescue?"
"Pierce," Jab said firmly, "some days, it's enough of a victory just to save yourself, you know? She said they'd be happy. She seemed like a nice enough lady, for a goddess. Hell, I believe her, okay? And I think the girls are in way less trouble than we'd have been if we stayed there any longer."
Pierce didn't answer, but for some reason the faintly wistful look was back on his face.