Not Quite the Emerald City

A Pink Dormouse Production



Ethan has a shop. It's not much of a bookshop, but it's better than nothing. It's not in the Village, and elsewhere in New York would have been preferable to New Jersey. It's a long way from Nevada and California, which cuts down on the memories. 

Ethan sells 'spell books' with sparkly covers, scented candles, and garishly coloured tarot decks to disaffected teenagers. They think themselves 'alternative' or 'radical', much as he did over thirty years ago. It all seems like ancient history to his customers, and, most days, to him too. But he's alive, and that must mean something.

***


Lorne has a coffee-shop, rather than the wine bar he envisioned, and located far from Manhattan. But he counts himself lucky to have escaped Los Angeles in one piece. The piano stands gathering dust in the corner; his clientele want to listen to recorded music, rather than make their own. At night, when the shop is open but no one comes in, he watches old movies on the fourteen inch screen behind the counter. He loves Judy Garland, but the sadness was there already when she recorded 'The Wizard of Oz', so mostly he watches Dean, Clift and early Brando.

***


Bored of his customers, who should all be in school anyway, Ethan closes for the afternoon and takes a trip into Manhattan. He drifts in and out of 'vintage' shops looking for the perfect winter coat. One that is long enough for his height, but not so broad as to drown him. He more is of a stick figure than ever these days, and with no magic to warm him, he feels the cold all too often. He misses magic more than he would miss breathing, and sometimes he wonders if he should sell books on cookery or transport instead.

***


The coffee machine is broken again. Lorne leaves the repairmen trying to unblock the milk foamer; he has no idea why three are required to fix one piece of equipment. He locks up and goes into New York in search of a new hat. The one he wears now dips that tad too far over his eyes. It covers his horns without pressing on them, and shades his face so the green skin is less obvious, but he would prefer to see where he is going. Besides, the brim is fraying; black is too ordinary, and it's so last decade.

***


At last Ethan finds a navy blue all-wool coat, with deep pockets. It fits perfectly, and the price-tag is less than terrifying. There is no point in opening the bookshop again today, so he wanders Manhattan, hands thrust far into the pockets of his unbuttoned coat. He would feel like James Dean if only he did not feel so old. He should take in a little culture, maybe visit a gallery or museum, but he is too wiped out. The zoo invokes unwelcome memories of being caged, labelled and regulated. He shops for rare books and checks out the competition.

***


Lorne finds a purple fedora, and gloves in the exact same shade. It clashes with his skin tone, but it also raises his spirits. He buys a scarf to tie around the brim. If the men have managed to repair his coffee machine, it might not be too late to re-open the shop on his return. 

On the way he looks for Fred's posthumously published 'Magick of Physics'. The chain bookstores claim they never heard of it, but he remembers passing a dark and dusty specialist store this morning, halfway between his own shop and the station. He'll check there.

***


Ethan gets back to his shop as a man is trying the door, and peering through the window. His visitor is no human, though. Suddenly he is both at home and very far from it. No, he tells his new customer, that book has not come in yet, but he will definitely save a copy under the counter for a small deposit. There is no need to mention that his regulars would not give a book like that so much as a second glance. He accepts the offer of coffee, but objects to watching any film not made in colour.

***


They both claim to be watching Selma, but they both know that the other is more interested in Antonio. And they both flinch when the bookstore coffee-shop burns down on screen.

Lorne fixes a succession of martinis, and they have a Bond marathon, bickering amiably over Connery vs Moore. They'll both be tired tomorrow, but that's what coffee is for. Ethan flags first, and Lorne pulls him to his feet. Sleeping on the counter's never good.

"Time to go home." 

Ethan clutches at him like a lifebelt, but they've both been drowning too long. Neither has a home here really.

***


Lorne's knuckles are running up and down Ethan's spine, and Ethan feels warm again at last. The lack of heartbeat concerns him, until he finds it somewhere else, somewhere unexpected. He hasn't felt this good since 1985 (Live Aid, and wouldn't Lorne love that piece of gossip?), but shouldn't they be doing this in bed, and with fewer clothes?

They make it to the bed, and there are a few more anatomical challenges, but Ethan's always been resourceful. Forget 1984, he hasn't had this much fun since the early seventies. He's lost his power, but the future looks good. Mostly.

***


Lorne doesn't need Ethan to sing to read him. Ethan's homesick, and constantly looking over his shoulder for Initiative soldiers. Lorne has no ties to this place. Starting again elsewhere wouldn't hurt.

"We should blow this town."

"Blow the whole bloody country."

"London?"

"Too much competition for trade. Liverpool?"

"Too last century. Leeds?"

Ethan shakes his head. Too many Chaos Mages who still have power.

They settle on Manchester. There is a niche in the market for a bookshop that supplies coffee by day, and cocktails with live music by night. They buy a house. You can guess the rest.

 

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