Master Key (for [personal profile] raggedy_doll)

May. 22nd, 2013 09:28 am
hypnotic_patter: (Suited for Suits)
[personal profile] hypnotic_patter
Given the nature of his business Ragdoll had a habit of going off the radar for days or weeks at a time. Billy was generally all right with it. Plenty of people had long-distance relationships where their first conversation in a month involved giddy Skype calls from remote South American dictatorships that had recently had a major administration shift.

Still, he kept tabs in the best way he could. When his Google Alerts notified him that "Peter Merkel Jr." had made the news again he abandoned his half-finished sonic gun and ran to see what his dancing doll had done to make the world more interesting. The scene of a smoking building half-submerged in the river made him smile. Meister popped open a soda and stretched out to watch the news report.

The costume worn by one combatant was identified as that of Peter Merkel Jr., better known as Ragdoll, while the identity of his attackers was unclear. Their brutal battle spanned several city blocks, ending at a fuel station used for local barges. It's unclear exactly how the fire started but the blaze quickly led to a massive explosion that demolished several nearby buildings. Witnesses report that Merkel's injuries during the battle were quite severe, indicating he most likely died in the explosion. The only bodies identified so far were those of local dock workers, and two others were burned beyond recognition. So far no one knows the motives behind--

Some part of him had always assumed Ragdoll was invincible. Rubbery, able to bounce back from any catastrophe with a smile and a bizarre quip. In some ways he had seemed more force of nature than mortal human. Billy left increasingly desperate messages on Peter's voice mail, but after a few days of silence denial seemed impossible. He huddled in his dressing room trying to write some appropriate requiem in Peter's honor. Nothing he could create seemed grand enough to encompass the beautiful kaleidoscope chaos that was Ragdoll. He spent hours staring at the ceiling with the RENT soundtrack playing in the background, devoid of inspiration or the will to create.

At the end of the week a knock on the back door roused him from restless drowsing. He leapt from his bed and ran to the door, still in t-shirt and boxers, hoping against hope that--

Who the heck were these dorks?

A group of one man and two women were gathered in his back alley. Their clothes were loose white muslin with embroidered red coats. All of them wore elaborate jewelry and golden bangles around their wrists, as well as beads threaded into their long braids. "Music Meister." The group bowed low to him, as if he were some pope of weird people. "It is an honor, a privilege, to finally be in your presence."

"Eh?" He brushed his hair out of his eyes. "Who exactly are you?"

"We are the Acolytes of the Celestial Echo." Possibly they could sense how close he was to ordering them to pile themselves in the nearby dumpster, so the explanation was extremely rushed. "We believe that the universe was created by a single song, and that this song was then taught by the gods to the first humans. All songs thereafter are humanity's feeble attempts to recreate that which they once knew, buried deep within our ancestral memory. No living person can repeat it, for time has withered our voices."

"I see. You're crazy people." When he found who gave them his address he was going to beat them with a stick. Billy frowned. "I'm really not in the mood for creepy cults right now."

Again the low bows, their jewelry clinking. "We are sorry for your loss. We know how it must pain you."

"You know nothing about it." He had the door slammed in their faces before the implications of their words fully sunk in. The door opened a crack. "...what do you know about it?" Few people knew he was connected to Peter, let alone dating him. It wasn't their business.

"We have been following you for some time. You have a voice like no other, something precious beyond measure, and we believe it may accomplish what no other voice can. You alone, Music Meister, could bring the first song back into the world."

"So basically you're saying you're my stalkers." He leaned on the door, arms folded. This was not garbage he needed to be dealing with before coffee and a shower. "I appreciate the sentiment, I just don't care. There won't be any performances for a while, and you should understand why."

"Fully." The lead man reached into the ragged bag hanging at his side and produced a familiar mask. It had obviously been cleaned, but traces of dried blood and dirt lingered where the false hair met the pale face. Billy gaped.

"Why do you..."

"It was pulled from the rubble by the police. We recovered it by--"

"Give it to me!" Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
Billy snatched it out of the acolyte's thin fingers, hugging it tightly to his chest. His fingers ran fondly through the red mass of yarn. To Billy the mask was Peter's face as much as the scarred flesh beneath it.

"If you will come with us you may get back the rest of him...and more besides. The song created the world. Bringing one soul back from the dead would be a minor affair by comparison. Come with us and we shall teach you the song that meager mortals cannot sing. You will be worshiped as a new Apollo with we your willing servants, and your dancer shall return to your side."

Billy tongued the gap between his teeth. In his thoughtfulness he did not hear the soft humming by the acolyte in the back or see the way her fingers moved in arcane patterns across the symbol held in his first two fingers. The merest nudge, though even that took a great deal of their power. They appealed to the Songbringer's grief and his pride in unison, and this was only the final push to tip him over the edge of the cliff. The mask of the fallen dancer would bring his lover under their sway.

"Keep talking."

Date: 2013-05-23 11:45 pm (UTC)
raggedy_doll: and your blatantly obvious self-delusion (completely sincerely sort of believe you)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
He had to admit, he hadn't considered world domination before, but all his twisted heart's desires being his did sound tempting. He'd be slightly more inclined to play along with things if he didn't dislike William's "worshippers" so intensely.

The fake kept looking at him, but didn't seem inclined to attack, or to sound the alarm. He'd leave it be for now, and trust that it would be at least slightly cooperative.

"I can't say I dislike the sound of that." Though it was very unlike Meister's usual schemes, which didn't come anywhere near "reshape the entire world in my image and take everything over and be worshipped as a god" territory. He did dislike how drastic a shift it was, or at least the fact that Billy had been manipulated into it. "And I know it will be beautiful, William. With you performing, how could it be otherwise? But are you really certain they are entirely loyal to you?"

Date: 2013-05-24 12:09 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: and i smell like an atrocity (the charge is set)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
"Perhaps so." That was probably the best Billy was getting out of either of them. 'Not manipulating him'... Even without the double, it was fairly clear that they were manipulating Billy somehow. If nothing else, the assassination attempt and this strange homunculus were proof enough of that.

Peter could only hope that Billy could be made to see that, and they hadn't addled his brain permanently. This fervor over someone else's songs and ideas didn't suit him.

"Hmmm. Refresh my memory one last time, will you? When is this performance, again? I want to be certain I'm prepared."

Date: 2013-05-24 12:54 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (well then)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
"Oh, I am sure I will."

Two nights. Well, he certainly wasn't going to wait around that long. Perhaps there was a way to speed things up...

Before he could ask, Billy started to sing again. Quietly, but the effect was instantaneous and notable, even to him. It was a little warmer, a little brighter, the world almost seemed to be wavering in the corners of his eyes, and of course there was the fact that his double froze in place and listened as if spellbound.

It wasn't actually hypnotic. Meister wasn't using that special pitch of his. But there was something about the song that was... not quite appealing. But it made his head itch. On the inside, not the outside.

He realized he was listening with his own head cocked slightly to one side, though not a full ninety degrees. Hmph. "There's no chance of an early dress rehearsal, I suppose?"

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The Music Meister

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