The sign was rather unassuming – neon tubing fashioned into cursive letters to spell the club’s name and glowing a subdued green. It certainly didn’t stand out among the other signs that decorated the street, almost as if it didn’t want to draw attention to itself despite the fact that a fairly healthy crowd of patrons were flowing in and out through the side-by-side doors beneath the sign. He stood there, staring up at it, his eyes following the line of each letter, and suddenly wondering if this was a good idea.
He had risked a bloody hell of a lot to get there, however. Turning back now would be completely foolish. And besides, it wasn’t as if there were many places that were safe anymore. Not in this world. Not after what had happened last year.
He froze, knowing the voice was directed at him, though his free hand quietly slipped in his pocket. Taking a deep breath, he looked over at the large figure lumbering toward him, hoping he hadn’t been recognized. “Yes, Officer?” he asked, a false French accent disguising his own.
“Papers!” the officer barked.
Slowly, he withdrew his hand from his picket, a folded wad of documents clutched in his fist, which he held out. The officer stared at him with black eyes for a moment before reaching forward with a claw-like hand and extending two long yellow talons like a thong to take the proffered papers. Using the talons of a second hand, the creature quickly flipped through them.
“What brings you all the way here from France then?”
“I’m from Quebec, Canada, not France, sir,” he answered, refusing to let his accent waver under the obvious test. “I’ve have come to see mon ami—oh, forgive...I mean, my friend.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“Krevslorneswath. He runs this establishment. I sometimes come down to play for him.” He lifted his guitar case and balanced it on his knee to reveal the instrument inside.
“Fine,” the demon police officer said and shoved the documents back at him as soon as he had snapped the case shut. “Give Lorne my regards. Have a nice visit, Mister Bulee.”
But the creature didn’t seem to hear him, already having zeroed in on another human walking down the sidewalk. After shoving his falsified papers back in his pocket, Rupert Giles looked up once more at the Caritas sign, then went to the door marked “Humans” and stepped inside.
Caritas was busy, but it wasn’t crowded – at least not completely. On one side, demons of every description, including vampires, lounged on sofas and tables. On the other side, humans sat at tables, more of them because Caritas was one of the few clubs in L.A. that still catered to humans as customers. The division line was quite clear – a wooden barrier about waist-high that split the club down the middle from the bar to the stage. The only humans allowed to cross the line were Caritas servers...or “pets” of the demon patrons. One such human – a boy who couldn’t have been much older than eighteen – sat at the feet of a Vortash demon.
Giles stepped up to the bar, leaning his guitar case against it under the overhanging top. The bartender looked at him with a raised eyebrow, his question obvious.
“One beer.” He didn’t care for American ales, but it was better not to draw attention by asking for anything too complicated or foreign.
The bartender quickly poured him a glass of what was on tap and pushed it his way before holding up three fingers to indicate the price. Giles pulled three coins out of his pocket and slid them across the wooden bar surface. As the other man turned away to put the money – the new currency of the demon-run world – Giles picked up his beer to take a sip while turning his attention back to the room and the demon performing on the stage.
- Current Location:Caritas, Los Angeles