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Close to the Sun

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Tales From Sirca Chapter 2: Dance with the Devil

"Here, put this on."

The phrase plus a bag with a hanger out the top landing on Icarus' face jolted him from his sleep, his eyes shot up directly to the face of the chupa crouched next to him almost ignoring the bag. Aries didn't look angry or irritated and his tail gently swished behind him, as if he was just waiting. Icarus sat up in his bunk, laying the bag down across his bed and pulling open the zipper. A faded blue suit, black tie, and slightly darker blue pants stared back at the albino chupa. He couldn't understand why Aries would give him a suit; a suit couldn't stop bullets and couldn't find those Freelancers he raved about.

"What's this," Icarus questioned raising an eyebrow at the other.

Aries rolled his eyes and stood tall turning away, "I know you're a country bumkin, but damn. It's a suit. And it ain't cheap."

"Why? Aren't we-"

"You know, I was being nice at first. Put on the damn suit and meet me outside. It wasn't an option; do I have to remind you again? Keep the combat skin on underneath, it's rainy and cold out. I'm not taking care of you if you get sick, Stray."

Aries slammed the door on his way out of Icarus' bunk, leaving him alone with his thoughts. He really needed to stop talking himself into holes. Aries was right, compared to any other time he was being noticeably more polite than normal.

"Fuck me."

It took a while, but Icarus managed to get the suit on and rushed toward the barracks door. His mind wandered to something that'd been on his mind since he had been given the suit. He was curious as to where Aries got the money from or who he knew as to where he could get his hands on some quality suits, even though Icarus wasn't big on formal wear the suit was very nice in his opinion.

He stepped out expecting to feel the patter of rain on his head but was only met by Aries at the door holding up an umbrella shielding him from the rainfall. Unlike what Icarus was used to seeing the taller dark grey chupa in, Aries wore a clean pressed black suit, crispy white shirt, a blood-red tie, and most to his surprise an ornate maroon horned mask with golden accents. The most notable being a symbol in the center of the forehead of a circle of arrows pointing in different directions. Aries' eyes peered down at the alabaster chupa, and Icarus felt himself shrink under the gaze, even though he somewhat trusted Aries there was something about that look in his eyes that seemed to spark a primal terror or anxiety that he had to suppress. The tall dark chupa reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a mask, this one was white in the center with golden wings around the edges. In the same spot in the jacket was a flask that glinted in the low light.

"I picked it just for you. Put it on. Don't lose it."

He gently placed it into Icarus' hand and did as he was told before being led toward the motor pool where a very nice-looking black car sat between the two warthogs.

"Where are we going," Icarus probed.

Aries didn't look at him, "Where else would you attend a hoity-toity masquerade? Omegrad."

- . -

Icarus never knew silence could be so unbearably loud, not a single word had been said the entire ride. Tense wasn't the word to describe what Icarus was feeling as he sat in the passenger seat of the car wringing his hands, Aries seemed unbothered as they rode through the streets of Omegrad. For Icarus, this was the last place he imagined either of them would want to be as both were not only felons but active terrorists. Aries' calm was almost unnerving, it was beyond Icarus' comprehension as to how he maintained a constant cool especially now.

"W-what's the play, Aries," Icarus broke the silence unable to bear it any longer.

"Jonestown," Aries performed a casual hand-over-hand left turn into a parking lot.

"What?"

"You need to stop worrying and let me show you how it's done. You are going to stick to my waist and look pretty while I handle business, so keep your mouth shut. These people can hear ignorance."

He threw the car in park, opened his door, and stepped out with the umbrella before making his way around to Icarus' door opening it for him. Icarus did exactly as he was told, but there was a clear look of discontent on his face as they approached the venue. Aries forcefully locked arms with Icarus.

Does he think I'm useless? Icarus wondered as they came up to the front doors.

As they began to approach security, Icarus instantly realized there might potentially be a massive flaw in the plan but before he could voice his concern Aries spoke up.

"Good evening," Aries flashed the doorman a radiant smile that made Icarus almost shiver, he refused to believe that the chupa beside him was capable of such an action. Aries pulled a decorative slip of paper out from his jacket and handed it to the man who motioned for them to walk through. "You need to start trusting me. Loosen up."

The ballroom was lavish and glittery to say the least, to Icarus the whole room looked expensive. Every chupa in attendance wore similar masks, suits, and dresses. There were tables scattered around the edges of the room for anyone to sit at, but the main floor was mostly open for what he assumed was dancing, speaking of which the musical selection was far too sleepy for him while Aries seemed to enjoy it, even humming with the classical tones. To say Icarus was out of his comfort zone was an understatement and for him to think this was Aries' was mindboggling.

The yellow-eyed chupa stopped Icarus at a table and put hands on the smaller male's shoulders to sit him down, "I'm gonna go mingle and blend- don't cause a scene, only speak when spoken to, and if anyone asks- I'm Mr. Black and you're Mr. White."

Icarus wanted to protest but just nodded under the authoritative glare. Aries vanished quickly into the crowd wearing that sickly sweet smile leaving Icarus at the table. If he had to be honest, he couldn't understand why they were there or, more importantly, why he needed to be there.

- . -

After about a half-hour of people watching, Icarus was sick of waiting. He'd gotten up a while ago and sampled some of the food and drink while listening to conversations in passing, the food was average and nothing that these people talked about were remotely important. Just a bunch of rich people carrying on about trivial things far as what Icarus could grasp. In his mind this was idiotic, why didn't he say anything when he had the chance? Just stop putting up with the bullshit that Aries would put him through. The ideas sounded good in his irritated state, but he knew what the reality was. Time and time again Aries proved just how hyper-lethal and unstoppable he was when focused, it was better to fall in line even if the trust wasn't there. Resistance wasn't really an option. With a heavy sigh, he went to take another swig of his drink, however, only air met his lips. As morbid as it sounded, Icarus had more fun being chased and shot at than attending a safe and quiet party.

It took him no time to reach the refreshments table, but a familiar hand caught his wrist before he could touch another glass, "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you."

The albino male lookup up at Aries, but his eyes looked different. He seemed almost concerned, then he remembered what he'd been told when they had walked in. Aries had told him to stay put and he had taken it upon himself to do the exact opposite.

"What's your name?"

"Mister White, why?"

"Okay, good."

Aries released the smaller male's wrist but stared as if there was something else on his mind, he glanced toward the exit and then back at the downtrodden expression and Icarus' face. Then an impish smile spread across his face, making Icarus worry. Nothing good ever came of that chupa's smile.

"Follow me," Aries turned away from Icarus, walking toward the middle of the floor.

"What? Are we leaving?"

Icarus cautiously followed, sidestepping around intertwined clusters of people who paid them absolutely no mind as the music began to change tempo. He couldn't help but wonder if he'd done something wrong now, if he'd managed to piss off Aries. The taller male stopped and turned, holding a hand out toward the smaller. Icarus was more than slightly confused and did the only thing that made sense to him, he imitated the same motion. Aries approached in a circling motion, and they came together, Aries grabbed his hand gently and carefully placed his other hand on the upper back of Icarus. The albino's mind cleared for a moment; into the most coherent thought he'd had all night. Are we dancing? He thought as Aries attempted to make the first move. He inadvertently stepped back, he braced to fall onto the floor, but Aries gracefully turned it into a dip before pulling his impromptu dance partner back up.

"Do you remember when I told you to loosen up and start trusting me," Aries spoke in a low tone, much softer than anything Icarus was used to catching him off guard. If he wasn't staring at him, he would have thought someone else had said it.

Icarus lowered his voice to match his volume, "Yeah, when we walked in- Why?"

"Consider this your lesson."

That was the second time tonight that Icarus had heard the phrase from him but didn't have time to think on it as they were moving once more. Aries moved as if he was on autopilot, effortlessly moving to a rhythm that Icarus was trying to analyze and synchronize only tripping him up more.

Aries pulled him close and whispered, "You need to relax. You can't try to fight a melody, just flow. Look at it like this. A fight is a lot like a dance, just keep it simple and loose."

Icarus internalized it; he couldn't find the words for how that made no sense but there was no harm in trying. He took a quiet breath and made and let Aries lead. They started simple with regular movement, although it took a minute Icarus felt like he was getting the hang of this- At least until Aries pulled his hand upward and twirled him, he almost gave in to panic as this was sudden and unexpected but forced himself to calm down. The choice was almost instantly rewarded as he was returned to a stable stance directly in front of his dance partner with a hand resting on his shoulder. He couldn't lie, this was nowhere near the same as shooting and blowing stuff up- but he was kind of enjoying himself, using the word very loosely he could call this fun and the content smile on his face relayed the message to Aries.

"What did I tell ya," He asked with a smug grin plastered on his face.

"Fine, you were right," Icarus caved, "I never took you for the upper-class type."

"Pays to be able to blend in."

Icarus pulled closer and just rested his head on Aries' chest. For a moment he swore that he heard the horn masked male's breath hitch.

"I think it's time for us to go."

"Hm? Already?"

"I thought you were the one who wanted to leave, you seem to be so afraid of Omegrad. Come on."

Aries led him quietly out of the center of the room and back toward the entrance, slowing their stride as they neared the door.

"Pretend to be sick."

They approached the same doorman who instantly dropped his serious demeanor when Icarus approached with Aries holding him, "Hey, is he okay?"

Aries looked up at the guy and nodded, "Yeah, it's probably just some bad food. He'll be fine but we're heading out early just in case."

He let them pass and gave them a friendly wave.

"Get home safe."

"Thank you, sir. Have a nice night."

The two hopped in their car and pulled off, it was going to be a long drive back to base. Maybe Icarus could catch some sleep on the way back.

About fifteen minutes into the drive Icarus finally spoke up again, "Hey, you think we could dance again sometime?"

"You mean like, at the base? I don't have any music."

"It's fine, I wasn't really in it for the music."

"Oh."

There was a silence.

"I'll see what I can do."

Aries rolled down his window, pulling the flask out of his jacket and tossing it out the window smiling as it clattered distantly behind their vehicle completely empty.

- . -

"This morning tragedy struck as a masquerade turned into a massacre in Omegrad," The female news anchor's face looked sickened, "Reports from the survivors say that everything was normal until the party-goers began to either pass out of violently attack others for seemingly no reason. Forensics have discovered traces of something they described as a potent poison. We'll have more coverage in a few hours."


Red vs Blue © Rooster Teeth. Halo © 343 Industries. Concept by Myshu, assisted by The Department of Chupapology.

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