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Fanfic: Another Beer, Another Life

Chapter 1:

Disclaimers:
Unfortunately we don't own F13 the Series or any of it's characters...which is a bummer, 'cause if we did, it would have been out on DVD official release by now! Also, this story was reprinted from Volume 1 (October 1997) of The Vault...a fanzine that had been tied to the old website. If you are the author and would rather your work wasn't showcased on the site, then please contact us and we'll take care of it...

Now, on to the story!

"I didn't think of myself as the type, you know that? I really didn't think of myself as the drinking type. Sure, I'd go for a beer every now and again, but, well..."

The Seventh Street Pub was open and ready for business. The smoke filled place emanated greed and sex and booze and many other things -- it also emanate many forms of truth. And from the mouth of Ryan Dallion the truth spills out, confusedly, hurriedly. A second bottle of Budweiser and a tall, filled glass sit atop the counter, the first bottle out of sight, since the bartender threw it out just moments before.

Ryan sits on the barstool, leaning onto the bar for support. He wears his leather jacket, earring proudly displayed in his left ear. His right hand grasps the bottle and pours the golden liquid into the glass, replenishing it once more. Then the glass is lifted to his lips, and he takes an eager swig, the whitish head still frothing and bubbly. Ryan then brings the glass crashing back down onto the bar proper, none too soft or hard. Just right, enough to spill just a little liquid onto the napkins underneath it. He wipes his mouth on his sleeve.

The night was supposed to be perfect, but it has ended far from thus. He was supposed to be spending it with Alyce Shumaker, woman of class, woman of prestige. Better than any he had found before. But things went so subtly wrong, and now here he is, crying in his beer.

A man strides up beside Ryan and pulls up a stool beside him. Ryan does not notice, but then he hears the man's voice ask, "Problems?"

Ryan must do a double-take before he even realizes that the man is there. He looks up from his glass to find an unremarkable-looking man in his
mid-forties. He seems to be a trucker, a traveler of some sort, sporting a red cap, plaid shirt, jeans and work boots. His long-grown mustache and stubble on his chin belie his age. His eyes gaze deep into Ryan's.

"How are ya doin, bud?" the man asks. He extends his hand for a shake. "DeForrest Kelly's the handle."

"Ryan," is the only thing he can reply. He weakly shakes DeForrest's hand before returning to his glass. Lifts it up, toasts the air, tilts his head back and pours the alcohol down his gullet. A few moments later the glass is empty, and Ryan hollers to the bartender for still another bottle of Bud.

Kelly breaks out a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. Marlboros, Ryan notes. Just what a country man like the one sitting before him would have. Kelly tears the plastic off the pack and slams the cigarettes down onto the table, making one slip loosely from the package into the eager fingers of one hand. He flicks the cigarette into his mouth and asks an approaching waitress if she has a light. She hesitates for a few fleeting moments, as the man and she obviously know and dislike each other. She then draws out her lighter, and DeForrest boldly grabs her hand, brings the lighter she holds to his mouth, flicks the Bic, and lights his cigarette. He pushes her hand away then, and puffs in generous amounts of smoke.

DeForrest coughs and Ryan thinks something is happening to him, something tragic. But no, just the initial reaction of the smoke entering his lungs. Kelly swears, and goes on to offer Ryan one. Ryan, partially drunk and unsure of exactly what is going on, lights up as well. They both sit with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Like two cool men, Ryan thinks casually. Like Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. That is, until the smoke hits Ryan's lungs. That damned memory of his -- in all his befuddled confusion, Ryan forgot -- he doesn't like nicotene.

"But she did," Ryan says aloud. Kelly opens his eyes and twirls his mustache, looking at Ryan curiously. "Beg your pardon?"

"She did. Like nicotine. Smoked," Ryan says, watching as the bartender gives up another bottle of Budweiser. He opens it for Ryan, and pours it into the glass, refilling it. After warning Ryan about having one too many, the bartender leaves him alone. Kelly orders rum and Coke.

"By the by, you can call me Doc. Who's this female you talk about? Girlfriend? Fiancé? Or," Kelly says with a laugh, "are you just
fucking her?" The bartender cracks up while pouring the rum. Ryan doesn't catch it.

"I thought we had something. She's no one. No one important. And now she's dead. Her own fault, really." That sentence stops Kelly.

"How is that, partner? You kill her?" Odd things could escape from the mouth of a drunk.

"Indirectly. She started it. She had to cross the line and get mad at me."

"She have a reason to get mad?" the barkeep asks, sliding Kelly his rum and Coke. He also brings over a basket of pretzels. Big, hot, salty, soft
pretzels. Bavarian style. Ryan grabs at one and tears off a big piece, cramming it into his mouth while simultaneously guzzling beer.

"She said I wouldn't leave her alone. She said that I was driving her crazy, her family crazy. And she had just said her fiancé -- whoever she chose this week -- was going to kill me if I touched her again."

"That's a mighty heavy story, Ryan. But what's it got to do with her dyin'?"

"An awful lot," Ryan says, washing the pretzel down with beer. "I've known her for years. We had been friends, you know? I knew her family, they
knew me. I'd known them since I was little. But I hardly knew them at all. That's the general consensus. Anyways, we met in my store."

"Your store?" Kelly questionz.

"My friends and I, we own an antique shop a few blocks away. Curious Goods."

"Never heard of it," Kelly says. "What's so special about this place?"
"I -- we, my cousin Micki and I, inherited it from our rich Uncle Lewis. We tried selling off every item, but we didn't know what kind of havoc it would cause. Some of the havoc came in the form of the antiques. No, in fact, all of it. And somehow Alyce found some of that...that evil."

Doc doesn't believe what he is hearing at all. Another drinking story. Just another drinking story. "I'm the Doc, I ain't no cultist. What do you mean she found some of that evil."

Ryan takes another swig of the Budweiser. "She caught it, like a disease. It's what evil is, anyway. Flows from person to person, just like antiques do. Throughout the world relics of the old world threaten to consume what is new. Should we be breaking free of the old ways or embracing them?"

Doc thinks, Aw no, just what I need. A philosophical drunk.

"She was nice at first, and we were fast friends. We talked about everything. Even while she was involved with other men." Ryan stops drinking for a minute and chews on a pretzel. "Excuse me, fucking."

"And what drew you to this woman? What possessed you to pursue her, to be, as you call it, her friend?"

"She was really sexy," Ryan says, laughing with drunken gusto. He snickers like a perverse cartoon Beavis. "She had personality. Walkin' personality, talkin' personality, smilin' personality...!" Ryan sings in a ugly pseudo-soprano. He then stops when he sees the man's face, "Sorry." He belches. "Forgot myself."

"So what you're saying is that she was the proverbial black widow. She wanted to get you into bed? Or was it the other way around?"

"The early times I'm not so sure. Know I wanted to. Y'ever see Bridget Fonda? Or that model Fredrique?"

"I admit I haven't," Doc says. "I ain't no connoisseur of movies, Ryan."

"I know, you're just the Doc." Ryan coughs lazily as he swallows the final portion of his first pretzel. "She put both of 'em to shame. Looked like both of 'em, combined. Six feet zero inches tall, with a fantastic body. I mean fantastic! She makes Cindy Crawford look --"

"That's enough, kid. That's enough. I know what you're saying. She had nice knockers and was a real piece of ass. Sounds like she had you
whipped."

Ryan laughs again. That giggle really annoys the hell out of Doc. Like a demented little child. Doc wonders what Ryan is like when he isn't sauced. One thing is sure, when he gets drunk, he sure can tell one hell of a story.

"Guess so," Ryan says, belching again. "Not so's anyone would know. Except her. I made her know I was interested. Asked her out, but she never really took me seriously till a few weeks ago. It took enough
arguing and disagreements to turn her to my way."

"You fought?"

"Disagreed," Ryan corrects. "Fight is such an ugly word. She started it. Accused me of horning in on her boyfriends, whatever that means. She never really had one steady. A bunch of one-night stands was what they were. A bunch of 'Wham-fuck-thank you, Buck' stuff."

"You mean 'Wham-bam-thank you, ma'am,' don'tcha bud?"

"Whatever, yeah, this was the female variation. Lots of pleasure, minimal risk. Freud'd say she was looking for something she couldn't find at home."

"They all look for that, son," Doc says. "Just at different levels. But you really wanted to bag her, didn't you? Make her know that you were all she needed, bar none?"

"I think you're right. Or wrong. Boy, I'm really messed up tonight, huh?" He belches as he chugs his beer again.

"It's all right, son. She really musta run you down for you to be in here drinkin' as bad as you are."

"I don't drink, not usually," Ryan says.

"Amen and hallelujah," Doc says. "What the hell was so bad you hadda start?"

"I wanted to have her, like I said. I wanted to be there for her. I wanted her to know that I respected her, if no one else did. I bought her things. Gave her things. Told her I liked her. Lots. And still she treated me like second fiddle."

"Something tells me all that changed," Doc says. "And you'd be right. I gave her one of these things from the store. I found it on one of my field
adventures trying to find what I told you about, the pure evil."

"What was it?"

"A Pouch of dreams," Ryan says, coughing. "I gave it to her so that her and my dreams would match. Inside the pouch was dream-dust. Pixie-dust if you will. I kept a few sands. I hoped she would be led to me. I hoped she'd use the dust to seek me out and our dreams would become one. For all I knew, the dream-dust was only useful in conjunction with another object. It wasn't harmful in and of itself. The only thing it had been known to do was give Robert Louis Stevenson ideas for his books so he could write them."

"Stevenson? Of Treasure Island?"

"And Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Ryan says. "She found out how to use the pouch too well."

"Use it? What do you mean?"

"With the pouch came a curse. It was, in a way, like the Quilt of Hathor, another object, where what the dreamer's dreams become someone else's nightmare. In other ways it's like the Mesmer's Bauble, where whatever one wishes can become reality. But you have to kill someone to make it work."

Yeah, I really know how to pick the drunks, Doc thinks. "Go on."

"She started sprinkling the pixie-dust on those whom she wanted to sleep with. She would kill a woman, any woman, and used the dust that those women became to sleep with men. When the dust ran out, she would kill another woman. She bedded many men. Every one. She apparently got...kicks out of sleeping with so many men. I gave her the perfect tool, where no one could resist her. It was now my fault, driving her into the arms of so many men."

"How many men?" Doc asks. "Sometimes two or three a night. She didn't care. She would use the dust and fulfill her desires. But she didn't know I was in possession of some of the dust. And I didn't know what was going on until it was too late. I tried telling my friends when I figured out what was going on, but then I just couldn't accept it. I couldn't accept that she was really doing this. I wanted to show her she was wrong, show her myself, without any hassles. I didn't know the pixie-dust was influencing me at this time as well."

"How did you two finally --?"

"We got together one day when I called. I just wanted to convince her what was going on and to make sure she wasn't behind it. I wanted anyone else to be behind the killings but her. We went to a friend's wedding last weekend. I saw the pouch on her person, but I didn't say a word. I had left my friends at the shop and run out on my own. I didn't want them knowing. I didn't want them suspecting."

"We danced at the reception and this were wonderful. She was so beautiful, acting so nice. I tried touching her, kissing her, but she would have none of it. Not yet, she teased me." Ryan finishes off the beer. He takes another pretzel and starts pushing it into his mouth. "She went away for a few minutes and I found out that she was fucking the new husband, my friend. She was screwing my friend! I found them...on one of the upper floors of the building, she'd made a bed out of the guests' coats and they were making noises. I found them both naked. Around her neck was the pouch, slung down and brushing across her full breasts. I didn't want to accept the awful truth. I still don't."

"What did you do? What did she do to you?"

"She immediately sprung from her new lover and into my arms. She noticed then that I had the dust with me. The older, more volatile dust. I don't know what I was thinking. She made the groom leave the room and then she pushed me down onto the bed. She was everything I had dreamed of. Everything and more. The body of an angel, everything so naked and perfect. I hesitate to call her chaste-looking, but she was. In every way, there was no one blemish or imperfection. I gazed at her body and she had me at her command. I was hers."

"Did you two--?"

"She didn't need to put the dust on me. We were equally entranced by our own fantasies. She unzipped my pants, pulled them down. I didn't know what was happening but I knew I wanted this, had always wanted this, and
wouldn't rest until I had it - had her body. I ran my hands all around her form and didn't even thing -- just acted and reacted. 'Make love to me,' was what she said. 'Do what your heart has desired for so long. Release your every inhibition. I want you.'"

"And then what?" By now Doc is finished with his rum and Coke and orders another.

"Then the pouch in which I held my sand fell to the ground. I wasn't under her power anymore. I saw the pouch around her neck, dangling between her
breasts. I reached out to caress her naked breasts and nabbed the pouch which she had tied there. I now had the antique. She was powerless."

"The pouch contained every impulse she had? Once it was removed from her person she was normal, fully aware of what she had done?"

"Right," Ryan says, pouring the last of his Budweiser into the glass. "She didn't know what to do once that was over. She started to yell at me, to
scream and cuss and God knows what else. Ever obscenity in the world was spoken by her lips. I saw her for what she truly was, a monster -- not in body but in mind. But that soon followed."

"How so, Ryan?"

Ryan drinks the rest of his beer in one gulp, "When she was yelling, her body changed, growing ugly, the skin becoming eclipsed by pimples and boils. Her hair ran straggly, her perfect form became wretched, hunched-over, bony. Her body reflected her dreams. Her nightmares of what she really was, what she refused to admit -- a slut, who got out of
control, letting everyone take a piece of her identity, her chastity, her body -- until nothing was left save this beast woman, barely alive. She slumped over and died. I ran. I kept running 'till I got here."

"What do you want to do about it here?"

Ryan thinks a moment. "Forget about it," he says, beginning to cry. "I don't want to know that moment happened. I don't want to know these past few months happened. I want to know why I fell for her and what it means
I'm really like. Whether I attract this kind of woman because in some way I enjoy it. Help me to understand," Ryan pleads.

"You need to help yourself," Doc says. "And I might suggest you do that by
focusing on what exactly you really love in this world? I don't mean family, or friends. I mean who do you care about like no one else, whom you've been neglecting, shutting out from your life. You haven't let her in. Not once. You've kidded around and made awful fun, but you've never been able to admit what you feel."

Ryan thinks long and hard. The alcohol is impairing his judgment. He can't think straight but what he is thinking is unbelievable and far different from previous times. "It can't be. How do you know about this?"

"Everyone has someone whom they secretly admire. Usually if you're mixed up in something like this, the solution, and your true friend, your partner, your lover -- is right under your nose. The solution is there, you just have to work to find it, and then work to keep it. Do you know what I mean? Better, do you know who I mean?"

Who?

Micki?

Micki!

"MICKI!" Ryan screams, shooting up out of his stool. He grabs money from his wallet and tosses it onto the bar for his drinks. He immediately
runs out of the bar, up the steps, and out to face the night. "Doc" DeForrest Kelly follows him. An ever-so-gentle rain begins falling, slowly at first, then picks up intensity. Rain torrents pour down, and Ryan reaches his hands up to the sky. He smiles like never before. And he laughs. It was so simple, he thinks. The man beside him knows that. He always has. He always will.

"Come on, I'll ride you back to the store," Doc says. It truly doesn't matter, Doc thinks, how this man, this Ryan expressed his feelings and his
faults. It doesn't matter that he used such strange cliches and imaginative ideas such as curses ad evil women and demons and antiques to show how troubled he was. Something was wrong, and Doc did what he always does when something is wrong -- he fixes it. Like he has so many other times, with so many other lives. "I'll get you home."

"Thank you, Doc," Ryan says, feeling elated, happier than ever before. "You don't know what this means." He eases into the automobile which Doc
points out, and Doc gets in on the other side. "Really."

"I think I do," Doc says. "Let's just hope you realize it in the morning. Make sure you haven't forgotten who you believe means so much to you. Who
you've found for yourself." They drive off down the rainy streets. To Ryan, downtown Chicago never looked so beautiful.

Ryan steps out of Doc's car and thanks him. He stands in front of Curious Goods, rain streaming down his coat and face. "Don't spoil this, kid," Doc
says. As he does, Ryan sees Micki run out of the store.

"Ryan! Where have you been?" Micki asks. Doc smiles at the redhead.

"Who's that?" she asks. Doc takes this moment to drive away.

"Someone who helped me out."

In the rain he has found his answer.