Status: I haven't had much luck in finishing chaptered fics before, so we can only hope for the best with this one. Honestly thanks for reading it if you do, I've had this idea in my head for a few months and I'm going to try my best to execute it. :)

All Not Welcome

Chapter 1

Religion was always hard for me to grasp.
I can't bring myself to understand how someone can place all of their faith into a single, uncertain entity. It seems so wasteful and rash. Some people can freely devote so much of their life to this... idea. An idea that isn't even concrete. No, I can't believe in that. I believe in facts, in the solid reality of life and the universe. Facts like: humans are apex predators, water fills the container in which it occupies, the tomato is a fruit, all dinosaurs are long deceased, and the recipe for life is water, oxygen, bake at seventy degrees fahrenheit.
I believe in the ground under my feet, the smell of a freshly barbecued bratwurst, and the way a man's hair feels under my fingertips. I believe that cynicism hasn't failed me yet and that my life isn't bad enough to make me want to kill myself, or others. Others, for example, like my coworker Dwayne. He sits across from me in our shared cubicle and recites iFunny memes like side-splitting punchlines and slugs me in the shoulder if my feigned laughter, weaker by the day, isn't what he deems the appropriate amount for his tired, regurgitated white texts. He'd be a prime subject for any pondered homicide.
It is things like religion and Dwayne that keep me sane and grounded, if not horribly set and brain dead in my monotonous ways. It is also things like the Lean Cuisine lasagna meal that I was poking at in the breakroom of my office, which smelled of pencil shavings and depression, that keep me set in my middle-aged ways.
"Jack, my man, how about that game last night?" Charlie asked from across the room, walking in to sit across from me at the cheap table in one of the fold-out chairs that never seemed to match any other in the room. The metal creaked as he sat and the linoleum thudded as he dropped a container filled with salad on the table. His wife probably put it together. I feel sympathy for Charlie's wife for a few reasons. The first, because she's married to Charlie. Second, because she has to live with Charlie. Third, because Charlie thinks it's manly and pride-bringing that he brags about anonymous affairs he's had.
"Jack?" Charlie questions once more with a raised eyebrow and a frown.
I tore my distracted gaze from the salad and blinked at him.
"I don't watch sports, Charlie. You know that," I shrugged, taking a half-hearted bite of my cool lasagna.
"Oh, right, right. Because you're gay or whatever," Charlie nodded thoughtfully, stuffing a too-large forkful of salad into his mouth. I tried not to grimace at the sight. Instead, I scowled at his words.
"I don't watch sports because they're repetitive and boring. I feel that any level of excitement over a ball going through or into a hoop or goal after the seventh time is unnecessary. Not because I take it up the ass," I snapped, but it sounded bored. The sexual harassment video we were required to watch upon getting our jobs echoed in my mind when I saw Charlie's face twist at my last comment.
"Woah, man. Way graphic. Uncool," he replied, shaking his head with a sickened expression. He decided against another bite of salad.
"Yeah, because hearing you talk about the 'bomb pussies' of the women participating in your friday night affairs is totally appropriate. Tell Carol I said hello," I replied as I tossed my uneaten lasagna in the garbage and stood from my chair.
"Hey, watch your mouth, Barakat!" Charlie shouted after me as I slid past another coworker entering the breakroom. I just sighed and draped my coat over my arm and picked up my leather work bag, holding the strap that was draped over my shoulder as I clocked out and left the building. I was sure Mr. Perrigo wouldn't mind me taking the day off, especially since I was the only one in the office who actually finished my work.
I elected to walk home instead of take the bus, as I usually did. The weather in Baltimore was warm but breezy for a June day, very pleasant walking weather. I let my breath flow in and out of my lungs. Breathing was easy. Breathing was calm, relaxing. I felt the stress lift from my bones and float away in the breeze.
I lived in a relatively nice neighborhood. Not too expensive, but it felt warm and inviting. Lush green grass and vibrant flowers about in yards and beside sidewalks. There were a few odd characters that milled about every now and then, often dressed anachronistically or looking strangely happy. Like their eyes burned too bright, like they fell in love with every stranger they saw.. It was hard to explain. I avoided them.
My home was a small townhouse with a moderately cared-for yard and pastel purple window panes. I thought they were a nice touch, I suppose. Not bad enough to try to change them. I walked up the creaky steps peeling with white paint, my fingertips brushing along the worn railing. I frowned lightly at a flyer stuck to the screen door as I fished my keys out of my pocket. I plucked it off the screen and held the outer door open with my hip and unlocked the door, shoving it open. There was a trick to the door, it got stuck if it hadn't been opened for a few hours.
I closed the door with my back and stayed leaning against it while I dropped my work bag to the side and tossed my coat over it. The flyer was advertising a Summer Solstice party for tonight at some house a few streets over. Some sort of a... costume party? It advertised that all horns and wings were welcome. Strange.
I placed the flyer on the coffee table in the living room and dragged my feet into my room, falling onto the unmade bed. My room was plain, almost like a teenage boy's room but with less interesting things in it. A simple desk with a few work papers, clothes strewn across the floor, a blue plaid comforter with white sheets and a single pillow without a case, white walls, a closet with half empty hangers.
People often described me as a simple man. I went to work, I paid my taxes, I occasionally went out with friends. Among circles of acquaintances I could be described as a sarcastic clown. I knew how to make a crowd laugh. Jack Barakat, the jokester. The sarcastic ass. Whatever.
I sighed and pressed my face into my pillow, kicking my shoes off the side of the bed. My belt was uncomfortable and the buttons of my business shirt were digging into my chest, my tie cinched too tight around my neck, but I didn't want to move. So I laid there and let my mind wander. I thought about my mind numbing work life, how ignorance truly was bliss if all of my mouth-breathing coworkers had a nicer time at everything than I, how I sometimes wished to be more like my roommate, Rian, how I hadn't had a steady relationship in 3 years, how I should change my hair because mom always said a new hairstyle was a new you and at some point I ended up dozing off because the next thing I knew I was being shaken awake.
"Jack! Dude, we're going out tonight. Why didn't you call me about this?" Rian said excitedly, too loud, too loud. I winced.
He straddled my back and began reading.
"'Summer Solstice ball. Drinks, food of decadence unexperienced before, courtly dancing. The line between infatuation and love blurs. All horns and wings welcome.' Dude, this sounds so fucking cool. We're going, we can walk there, Jack. Easy peasy. Are you listening?" he asked, and I could hear the frown in his voice as he leaned down and ruffled my hair. I grunted.
"You can go. But it sounds sketchy. The writing is pretty pompous, don't you think? Probably some art majors from the university," I grumbled into my pillow, turning my head so I could breath fully. The weight of Rian on my back had pressed my face further into the pillow. "Can you get off?"
"No! We are going, Bakakakakakakakarat," Rian said, letting out a laugh. He turned and laid back so he was lying on my back and tossed the flyer aside. It did a flip in the air and drifted down onto my floor. Just then, Cora walked into the room and leaned on the doorframe.
"Hey, Jack. Party sounds sick. When are we going?" she asked, licking icecream off of the back of her spoon and her thumb. Her hair was chopped perfectly and evenly around her chin, her black fringe looking like silk over her forehead. Her makeup was always dark and perfectly pointed, and her clothes consisted of torn up tights, baggy sweaters, lowcut tanks, and clunky boots. Always a different variation of the same thing. I liked Cora. She was constant, her mood never changed. She was good for Rian, he was spastic and she balanced him out. And I liked her nose. It was small but slightly pointed. She looked like a bird, but in a nice way. A raven, maybe.
"Again, we are not. I don't want to. I'm tired. Can you remove him?" I sighed, pointing with my eyes to Rian. He kicked his legs and dropped his head heavily on the back of my neck, making me grunt again.
"No. Not until you say we're going," Cora said, a faint smirk on her black-painted lips as she walked over and climbed up so she could sit on Rian's torso. He groaned and hugged her waist, and I let out a pained nose and shoved my face into the bedsheets.
"I fucking hate both of you," I wheezed.
"No you don't," Cora said simply, taking another bite of icecream from the pint of Ben & Jerry's in her hands.
"You're right. Now get off so I can get dressed, I guess. What time is it?" I inquired breathily, my pained torso feeling extremely relieved when the two weights lifted from my back, one after the other. I peeked out from the bed and stared at them. Rian was hugging Cora from behind, his chin resting on her shoulder.
"Ten thirty. Get your ass out of bed," Rian said, opening his mouth for the spoonful of icecream that Cora held up to him.
I sat up slowly and rubbed my face, letting my head roll on my shoulders so it popped satisfyingly. I just nodded and shooed them with my hands, standing and unbuttoning my black shirt down, tugging the tie off and tossing it aside. My head felt groggy from the long nap and my body ached, but that would pass after a few minutes. I was a nap expert, apparently.
The couple left and I kicked off my slacks, pulling a pair of black skinny jeans from the floor and hopping slightly as I pulled them on. I buttoned them and kicked the other clothes on the floor around until I found a deep red crewneck and sniffed it. Smelled like pine scented Febreeze and my carpet. I put it on and sat on my floor so I could lace up my Chucks, briefly letting my gaze settle on my reflection in the mirror resting against my wall. Messy black hair, bird nose(much less aesthetically pleasing than Cora's, but not horrible), dark stubble, thick eyebrows, brown eyes dark enough to be black. I wasn't unattractive, I knew that much. In fact, I knew I was hot. I just wasn't interested in anyone who agreed.
I looked back down at my laced shoes and sat there for a few moments, reaching up and messing with my hair so it sat right. Sometimes I missed the skunk dye job of my youth. Sometimes I was glad that I only missed it sometimes.
I got to my feet and turned both ways in the mirror, craning my neck to make sure my clothes sat right. Once I was finally content, I pushed up the sleeves of my crewneck slightly and walked out into the living room, stuffing my keys and wallet into my pocket. I grabbed my phone and turned it in my hands, tilting my head as I looked to Cora and Rian on the couch.
"So. Are we going?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
They were both staring at their phones, draped over each other in a puzzle of limbs and intimacy. My heart ached. Not for either of them, but for their love. It was strange, I felt such a disconnect with everyone, yet I craved love so much. Anyone who offered themselves to me just didn't catch my attention anymore. Maybe I should've seen a shrink.
"Uh.. Yeah," Rian nodded, slowly tearing his gaze away from his phone before he locked it and stuffed it in his pocket, patting Cora's thigh. He untangled himself and stood, walking over to me and clapping me on the back. "Who knows, maybe you'll meet your dream boy," he teased, skipping to the door and pulling hard so it creaked open, walking slowly backwards out of the door and into the night. "Come on, lost boys. We have a party to get to."
Cora and I shared a look. For some reason, I felt very uneasy about all of this. I blamed it on the grogginess of the nap and my crankiness after it.
We walked the streets of our dark neighborhood, and saw a few others were headed in the same direction as us. The night air was cool and nice on my forearms and face, the breeze enough to rustle my hair. Once we got a few blocks over, we saw cars lining both sides of the street, leaving barely enough room to drive. One larger house had people milling about in the yard, a few tables with drinks and an open front door.
"Hey. Hey guys, I think I found it," Rian joked, smirking at both of us. I rolled my eyes and stuffed my hands into my pockets, trailing behind Rian and Cora. Parties were okay, I usually had an okay time once I got inside. I just never had very high expectations.
Once we stepped onto the lawn, I felt a strange ripple in my chest. Like the ground shook underneath my feet and made my insides turn, but nothing moved. It felt strong, almost like how you would assume a cartoon character feels when a ghost goes through them.
I frowned deeply and stopped dead in my tracks, staring at Rian and Cora. "You didn't feel that?" I asked, looking around anxiously. Rian was laughing and Cora had a look of concern on her face.
"It's probably just the music, man. It's pretty loud. You know how it is at concerts, you can feel it in your chest," Rian reasoned, a dorky grin on his face as he wrapped his arm around Cora's shoulders. She held the hand hanging over her shoulder and looked at me, still frowning lightly. We shared the same concerns, but didn't know what exactly it was that we had to be concerned about.
"Oh, you losers. It was nothing, come on," Rian shook his head and started walking towards the house again.
"Rian, I know what loud music feels like in your chest. That's not what just happened," I reasoned quickly, speeding up to grab his wrist. "Hey, we should just go back. I don't know about this."
"Dude, chill out," Rian huffed, shaking his wrist free. "Come on, I want to dance," Rian said, changing the subject. Cora looked at me again but gave me an uncertain shrug, following after Rian. They left me gawking on the lawn.
I shook my head and walked after them quickly, despite the uneasiness in my chest. If we died, at least I was right, I supposed.
The house was crammed with twenty-somethings, a few older. As I had suspected, many of them were wearing wings, horns, other prosthetic costume parts. I thought it was strange to have a costume party for a Summer Solstice, but to each their own. Maybe it was a group thing, inside joke, or something.
I followed Rian and Cora through to the kitchen, gently pushing bodies aside. A boy with ram horns stared at me from across the room, a half smirk curling his lips over sharp canines. I shivered. Another girl bit her lip at me and tugged on my hand, saying something that I couldn't hear over the music as she beckoned me to the dance floor. I couldn't hear what she said, but I could hear her tinkling laugh crystal clear. It raised the hairs on the back of my neck, and I ripped my hand away and frowned at her as I continued to make my way to the kitchen.
I looked around once, twice, thrice, then swore under my breath. Rian and Cora had ditched me. Probably got their drinks and headed to dance, figured I'd be fine. God.
I let out a frustrated breath and walked over to the breakfast island in the middle of the kitchen, picking up a bottle and opening it on the counter. I took a drink and froze, my nose crinkling and eyes watering. It was hot on my tongue and burned my throat, almost making me gag. I lowered the bottle to the counter quickly and coughed, leaning over the granite countertop. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and examined the bottle. It was dark brown like any other beer bottle, but when I tipped it and dribbled some of the liquid on the island, it came out dark purple. "What the hell..." I said quietly, smacking my mouth a few times. Tasted fucking horrible. It wasn't spicy like tobasco, just.. Hot. Like boiling water, but with a flavor. But that didn't make sense, because the bottle was cool on my palm.
I shook my head and left the bottle on the counter, both hands braced against it as I looked around once more. One girl had convincing cat ears and a tail. Another had fully black eyes, even the whites, and prosthetic gills on her neck. I had been to strange parties in my time, but this had to be the most unordinary. Almost creepy. It felt like my skin was crawling and something was prickling along my body. I rubbed my palms over my arms and began to leave the kitchen and move into the living room, presumably where everyone was dancing.
The costumes were extremely convincing and it was making my mind reel. I figured I should just find Rian and Cora and tell them I was going home. I carved a path through the crowd, the music booming in my ears and vibrating in my chest. Even the music was strange. It had the bass of any other party or rave, but also stringed instruments. Something that sounded like a harp, but being played quickly. It made my head pound in a bad way, not the way that gets you high and disoriented in a dark room with strobe lights. In a way that my brain pounded against my skull and screamed for me to get out.
I scanned the crowd of bodies dancing against each other, laughing, making out, drinking. I spotted Rian and Cora in the middle, laughing against each other and excitedly drinking from the same bottles that made me cough. I frowned deeply and began shoving through the bodies, but someone grabbed my wrist.
"Hey, fuck off-" I said loudly, looking over my shoulder. My words caught in my throat. The beautiful boy with the ram horns was gazing down at me with a grin that looked like it could swallow me whole. He pulled me closer, and I didn't resist. I felt like I didn't want to... Was I forgetting something? I thought I was just doing something. I could think of anything other than his yellow eyes, his strong hands sliding around my back and reeling me in.
"Stay a while," he said in my ear, his hot breath making me shiver deep down in my bones.
"U--.. Ahuh," I said lamely, letting my body press flush against his chest, my leg in between his thighs. He danced me in a circle, half modern moves and half.. something of another time, something you would see in a Renaissance movie, with my hand laid daintily in his. But our hips were moving against each other and his lips pressed against my ear, down my neck, bit at my collar bone. He smelled like earth and waterfalls, he felt solid and so real under my grasp, not like anyone else had ever felt. Every cell in my body wanted to bond with his at that moment. Being with, near him wasn't enough, I needed all of him. I reached a hand up and pushed my fingers through his hair, let them slid over the curve of his ram horns, and then his mouth was on mine. His lips were soft, hot, urgent. Like if he didn't kiss me now, I'd slip away through the cracks of the floorboards, the liquid of my body sifting through his fingertips.
Then someone crashed into us, ripping our bodies apart. The girl with the cat ears was on her ass in between us, laughing hysterically, her giggling friend toppled over her. It felt like something opened in my mind and my consciousness flooded back, and I stared at the man in horror across the floor. He was still smirking, but I wanted to smack the shit-eating grin off of his face. What the hell had just happened? It was like I had blanked out, but the only conscious part of me was lust. I felt anger bubble within me and light a fire in my chest. I felt violated, abused. I felt dirty. That wasn't like dancing with a random guy at a club, that was wrong. I didn't know what happened, but I couldn’t be near him anymore. I shook my head and glared at him as I started to shove through the crowd again, spotting Rian and Cora once more. They were on the other side of the room sitting against the wall, foreheads pressed together as they laughed.
I made my way through the mass of bodies much less gently than I had before. I stopped in front of the two and crouched down to their level, careful not to step on their legs.
"What the hell is up with you two? We should leave, this party is weird as fuck," I shouted over the music, shaking Rian and Cora's legs. They both looked at me, then burst into another fit of giggles.
"What are you talking about, Jack? Pahaha, this party is rad as fuck. I'm having a great time!" he said loudly, and Cora laughed obnoxiously and nodded in agreement.
"What the hell are you two on?!" I shouted, leaning in close to look at their eyes. They didn't look high, just teary from laughter. None of this was making any sense, it was like that house was on a different plane of reality from everything else. And that just wasn't right because I knew that everything existed on the same cold, hard plane of fucking reality. And that that shit just didn't happen in real life.
Cora tried to calm her laughter, but only barely so. She snickered as she leaned closer to Rian and tugged on his shirt. "I need to.. Pee- pff, hahah!"
Rian burst out, cracking up so hard he bent over. "Holy shit, haha, come on, come on," he breathed, still cackling as they both stood and left me sitting there looking like a dumbfounded idiot.
I slowly rose to my feet and watched them laugh all the way up the stairs, a few of the costumed people smirking at them. This was all wrong. Everything here. It felt so fucking wrong.
I started making my way to the back of the house because it was closer than the front and I desperately needed to get outside, away from the loud music and suffocating crowds. I shoved all the way through the crowds and stumbled out onto the back porch, going down the steps and shoving my hand through my hair. Most everyone was in the front yard, so only a few people milled about in the wooded back.
I took a few deep breaths and my lungs desperately thanked me, as did my heart as it regained its usual pace. Out there, around the trees and few drunk people, I felt calmer. My bones felt a little less cramped in my skin and my head pounded a little less.
But no scary party, or life of rejection and love and lust could have ever prepared me for the sight before me as I turned my head. God, everything that felt wrong clicked at that very moment and a fire lit in my bones and stars crashed against my skull. Waves pounded against my chest, flowing out of my heart. I stared at the being, because he wasn't just a boy. He was an ethereal creature, and that went against every moral and fact I'd ever come to know and believe but god he was standing right fucking in front of me and it was undeniable that he was not normal, he was not just a boy. He was something incredible that they don't teach you about in school or on the streets because if his name leaves your lips you'll burn to soft ash and he'll laugh over the pathetic pile of dust that his spirit had reduced you to.
I couldn't tear my lovestruck gaze away from the horns growing from his hair. They twisted in an unorganic way, and looked sharp enough at the points to draw blood from a simple scrape. Their dark obsidian color shined with an almost gem-like quality, not exactly opaque and not quite transparent. His flaxen hair settled perfectly around his face and horns, and his smile was dazzling in a hypnotic way. If his purple irises happened to land on you with malicious intent, it felt like your heart would stop at that very moment.
He was crouched on the ground among a group of a few other costumed people, all sharing handfuls of some sand-like substance. They were letting it sift through their fingers into their mouths, snorting it directly from their palms, one had a bowl and was inhaling deeply, his face looking absolutely tranquil. The grainy substance was mostly black with a few gold flecks, and was completely unfamiliar to me. But I wasn't focused on my highschool health class, all I cared about was the being passing out the drug.
He had a black jacket and fingerless grey gloves, torn up skinny jeans, but he was barefoot. Even though it was seventy outside, he was barefoot. And his grin.. God, his entire face would never stop smiling. It was like a light in the darkness of the outdoors, and his laugh was like silver tinkling onto stone. It made my head spin.
That's when he looked at me, and it felt like my entire body stopped pumping blood, my lungs gave, my heart stopped on a dime. He looked at me, he looked curious, then his lips curled over his shockingly white, sharp teeth and he laughed. Not at me, but joyously, as if he were ecstatic to see me. I felt like I was floating, like my body was a bubble and I was rising high, too high.
He stood from the group and ignored the groans of protest as he took his handful of the black sand with him, walking over to me. He didn't say anything, just smiling dizzyingly at me as he took my chin in one hand and lifted the drug with the other, some of it sliding off of the sides of his palm and through his half-gloved fingers. I opened my mouth obediently, staring back at him as I let my tongue slide over the drug, and I instantly felt the effects. His laughter sounded distant and far away as the few grains of it numbed my tongue and made my eyes roll, my thoughts melting together and my knees beginning to buckle. I wavered in and out of consciousness until I finally settled back into reality, my eyes huge as I stared off into the grass. The boy let out another tinkling laugh and dropped the black powder from his palm, catching me so I didn't fall. As he dropped it, two or three people fell to their knees as the powder rained into the grass and began frantically licking at where it fell, some even pulling chunks of dirt into their mouths.
"Alex!" I heard a woman's voice scream, and then watched her rush forward. She was in a period dress from long ago, I vaguely recognized it to be of some sort of French culture but with a more natural twist, leaves and flowers decorating it. "What are you doing out here?" she gasped.
The boy, Alex, laughed and bumped his forehead against mine. I swooned, smiling dumbly up at him. My actions were influenced half by the drug in my system and half by the way his eyes gazed back into mine.
"Just playing with a mortal, Drella. It's all good fun," he purred, nipping at my lower lip.
Mortal. The word echoed in my head. Again, again. Mortal. Mortal, mortal, mortal.
Meaning he wasn't mortal.
Meaning that everything I'd believed up until that point, was a complete and total lie. My entire thought process of 23 years had been disproved by a boy with horns that made me feel like I was flying.
Alex. Alex was going to ruin me. He already had.
♠ ♠ ♠
I'll try to update this weekly. Thanks so much to all my friends for the support and proofreading, lol. It's you guys that keep me from posting literal shit, bless your hearts.
tbh thanks to anyone reading this too.

(And obviously I don't own Jack Barakat or Alex Gaskarth and if they ever read this I would jump off the edge of the earth but you know, disclaimers and junk.)