Liam-sensei (liam_sensei) wrote,
Liam-sensei
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A Perfect Night Off

Title: A Perfect Night Off
Summary: Ronald is enjoying the perfect night off: greasy restaurant food and lively conversation with Grell. The year is 1977, a lot has changed for both of them though a lot remains the same.
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Grell and Ronald with a couple references to William.
Warnings: Language, some sexual references, some references to LGBT politics if this bothers anybody.
Disclaimer: Kuroshitsuji and recognizable characters belong to Yana Toboso.
Author's Note: This was a crack idea I've been sitting on for a while. It took the form of a crack cosplay (that I need to post here sometime) but I decided to do a oneshot. This might become a longer story but I'll probably just do a series of oneshots. I defend nothing in canon; if you don't like my interpretation of these guys in the 70s then make your own.

A Perfect Night Off

18 September, 1977
West End, London
8:35 p.m.


Elvis was playing on the crackling radio in the corner of the diner. A group of louts started singing along rather loudly, hoisting their fifth or sixth pints and crowing the lyrics amid drunken giggles. Ronald watched them, hiding a smirk behind his own glass; they were rather entertaining.

Elvis was playing on the radio a lot in the past month; dying is the true test of one's legacy after all. The poor guy had been the butt of everyone's jokes until he keeled over last month; heart attack was the confirmed answer floating around the office. The bosses knew how curious reapers get when a well known public figure dies so they release memo with the cause of death and the name of the reaper who did the job. Ronald actually knew the guy, Toby Watson from the Memphis office; they worked together during the D-Day invasion. Ron made a mental note to ring him up sometime; he was a great guy, serious about his work but always quick with a joke during the more strenuous moments.

The waitress finally approached with his steaming dinner in hand. That tight yellow t-shirt showed off some nicely rounded assets; that blue cartoon fish on the front just added dimension. Here was a gorgeous bird in a tight t-shirt approaching him with a smile with a plate of golden fish and chips in her hand; it was a sight of beauty if Ron ever saw it.

"There ya go, sir," the waitress said; Angela if he remembered right. "Be careful, love, it's a bit hot."

She lowered the plate in front of him. Ron set aside his lager and greeted his food, stealing looks at those mounds close to him and the feathery brown hair framing them for a moment. She had a really nice smelling shampoo.

"Thank you kindly, miss," he said.

"If there's anything more you need, give a holler," she said.

He gave a nod back with a wink. She twisted a lock of her hair and smiled back before going off to her next customer. Ron's eyes went from the pretty girl to the gorgeous plate in front of him, sinking a fork into the soft fish. Grease poured into the plate, it was glorious.

Ron was never really an enthusiast of fish and chips before; it was a ready meal if he was desperate but other than that he wasn't too interested. That was until he went abroad for so long. He had a plate of it when he came back to London last year and didn't realize how much of home he truly missed. Since then he'd been eating the stuff on a semi-regular basis. He sampled from different establishments, in the process reacquainting himself with London in these different times.

He took a chunk of the fish on his fork and blew on it slightly before putting it in his mouth. It was delectable; so greasy yet so tender, this place made it perfectly. So many restaurants were trying to make this more hip, more appealing, God forbid even healthier. No, this was the way he remembered it and this was the way it should be. Back then it was said greasy food was good for lubricating the joints, now some doctors somewhere said this stuff just induced heart attacks. Ron took another forkful with a smirk; heart attacks weren't exactly a concern for him.

The beginning licks of "Satisfaction" came over the radio, Ron bobbed his head in rhythm, his long blond hair brushing across his shoulders. This was another happy taste of home, he loved the Stones. He saw them in West Berlin a few years ago. The second they came back to England, he was gathering a caravan to see them.

"I can't get nooo...satisfaction," Ron sang along at a low enough tone not to sound too obvious.

He took the bottle of HP Sauce from the side of the table, shook it a bit and opened the top; pouring it on the side of his plate. A few drops fount their way onto his gray t-shirt and blue jeans, but these clothes could take a beating. He was off tonight, he could get a bit messy. Ron put the bottle off to the side and picked up a few chips and dipped them in. Here he was on his night off in a greasy chip shop munching on fried food with the Stones playing on the radio. It was a good night to be in London.

Ron shoved the chips into his mouth as the sleigh bells on the door chimed with the entrance of another customer. He grabbed his beer glass and took a sip to water down the starchy goodness, taking a look at the door out of curiosity. A man entered the diner in a full black tuxedo, cummerbund and everything. His red bowtie was undone and hung over the open collar of his shirt. Ron snickered a little; amidst the sea of t-shirts, jeans, leather vests, and dingy hair, this fellow looked more than a bit out of place here.

He took another sip of his beer and was about to look down until the customer suddenly looked at him full on. It was then when Ron suddenly saw his face and immediately knew who this was. There were so many gingers with shag haircuts and mustaches that he thought nothing of this one until he saw the facial features and those yellow-green eyes behind a pair of those usual red framed spectacles.

A year back in London and he still barely recognized Grell with his updated look. Even when Ron left, he still had that flowing red hair. He never kept it as long as he did before that scary little head injury he got in 1890, after that though he always wore it at least to his back. During the war he was more fond of ponytails, though now he liked to keep it fashionably short. The fact Grell Sutcliff was now voluntarily wearing facial hair was more heart attack inducing than this whole plate of food. Ron didn't know if he would ever get used to that, but people's tastes can change. It had been thirty years since Ron left London, it was good for a reaper to adapt to the times.

Ronald waved at him, getting a little wave in return. Grell strutted through the aisle between the other booths and walked right toward Ronald with a content smile. If he recalled Grell had some sort of swanky theater event he was attending that night. This chip shop was a bit out of the way of the West End theaters, though maybe this thing he was going to was a bit closer. Or maybe Grell just decided to find him and harass him; not like Ron cared, he didn't mind the company right now.

"What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?" Ronald said.

"Bothering you, of course," Grell said, plopping down in the opposite orange seat in the booth with a sigh. "Thought I would explore the strange dietary habits of your lot."

He poked the fish with a well-manicured nail, looking down at the grease on his finger.

"You know this is all made from chemicals these days," Grell said.

Ron took a huge forkful and shoved it in his mouth.

"Science is tasty," he said, speech slightly muffled by the fish.

"Charming," Grell said.

Grell took hold of a couple chips and dipped them in the sauce before eating them. Ronald caught a glimpse of surprisingly normal-looking teeth, he looked carefully and saw the wavy lines of an illusion charm over them. This was probably part of the attire for the occasion, pointed teeth wouldn't go over too well in high society.

"What was that about chemicals?" Ron said.

"Science is tasty indeed," he replied before going back to chewing.

"You know you're in a restaurant, you can order your own food," Ron said. "In fact it would be considered polite."

Grell swallowed his chips and lightly brushed some salt off the lapel of his black jacket.

"I would but I am rather satisfied at the moment," Grell said. "They served such a lovely coq au vin with this tender asparagus in truffle butter. Oh it was like culinary lovemaking."

Ron grabbed a bunch of his chips and dipped them in the sauce.

"Sounds lovely," Ron said, chewing the chips. "Where the hell did you go again? If you told me I forgot."

"The grand rebirth of Mersey Hall," Grell said with a dramatic hand gesture. "A historic landmark of Leicester Square fallen victim to the Blitz and languished in unused despair. Then a few saviors gathered and put her back to her glory, opened for more generations to see her players."

"Like how historic, as in as historic as you or more so?" Ronald said in a low tone.

"Your first assessment was correct," Grell said leading a bit closer. "If not incredibly rude. Anyway, I made my acting debut here. I was Mercutio in 'Romeo and Juliet' as a little hatchling of 17."

"Yeah I was right, it's really bloody old," Ron said.

Grell gently laid his fingers on the table, but Ronald clearly saw his hand turn to the back and two fingers go up before he rested his palm back down on the table. Ron only smiled in response.

"I heard a few partners were taking on the rehabilitation and provided them with generous support," Grell said, his tone still even.

Ron was one of the few people who know that Grell liked to play the markets and was damn good at it to boot. He had been doing it since the 1700s and just accumulated more and more with the passing ages; another benefit of keeping up with the times.

"It would be my tribute to my acting mentor," Grell continued. "He would be so saddened to see what state it was in for so long. Tonight was the grand celebration gala, it was breathtaking. So much old money, so many titles being thrown around, the press was crawling all over the place it was glorious."

"You going to make the papers?"

"Well I was one of the major patrons. Naturally the spotlight belonged to the new theater managers, though I couldn't help being in the way of a few flashbulbs."

"You don't think that's gonna peeve the bosses do you?" Ron asked, leaning in closer and keeping his tone low. "You're management after all, don't think they'd be wanting their field supervisor all over Page 1. 'Just what the hell does he do when he requests a night off?'"

"Well it was more like Page 6 stuff, regardless I doubt they'll care. I might get a few jabs from Will, but he's not happy unless he's jabbing someone."

"Though he's gotten better at it," Ron said with a dung-eating smirk. "Being more subtle, I mean, and not as much of a bastard. Not nearly like he used to be, well not since his little..."

"Mental breakdown? Well he may have relaxed a bit but he's still a bastard. Not like he used to be unfortunately. I'm glad he boy's getting better but"

"He lost that cold charm," Ronald said.

Grell nodded with a stiff smirk.

"Anyway maybe it will ease a few minds of any theatrically inclined people I collect," Grell said. "'Oh that's what that witty gentleman does for a living? If that is the face of death, then I shall feel completely relaxed in his care.'"

Ronald rolled his eyes.

The waitress walked back over to the table and looked at Grell.

"Sorry about that, sir, didn't see you come in," she said to Grell.

"Oh no my own apologies, dearest, I snuck in to meet a friend," Grell said, waving a hand.

"Can I get you something?"

"Just a half-pint, love, I won't be sticking round too long," Grell said.

"Certainly," the waitress said, looking back at Ronald. "How's everything for you?"

"Everything's perfect, compliments to the chef," Ron said.

"Fantastic, you need anything else?"

"No ma'am, I'll all set."

She turned around with a smile and walked away.

The group at the other end of the restaurant was getting a bit louder with more colorful language to the point where a few other patrons were giving them looks. Grell took a look back at them, then looked down at his gold plated wristwatch.

"Got a hot date?" Ron said, taking another forkful of fish. "I thought we were having a lovely night out."

"Sorry, darling, I'm having another affair this evening," Grell said, stealing another chip.

"Another? Damn we starting early aren't we?"

"Oh shush. My twenty minutes in the light booth with Lord Wolsley are none of your business. Alas no this isn't a fun call."

"What, you're on duty?"

The waitress returned with a half-pint of beer on her tray. She took it off and put it down in front of Grell.

"There you are, sir," she said.

"Why thank you, miss," Grell said.

She walked off again. Grell took a sip of his beer, his thumb and forefinger clearing some suds from his mustache.

"What nothing fancy, red, and French?" Ronald said, taking a sip of his own beer.

"When in the smelly end of Rome..."

Grell raised his glass with a smile and took another sip.

"So you on tonight or aren't you?" Ronald said, taking the bottle of HP sauce and pouring some more on his plate.

"Technically yes, though only one case," Grell said. "I did tell them I had an engagement tonight. They asked at the last minute if I could take care of a couple clients a few blocks over from my event. I said all right as long as I'm getting a bit of overtime pay for it. Everyone was agreeable, so yes I do have three clients in..." he looked down at his watch. "twenty minutes. So I'll just have a half-pint and relax a bit then take care of business then go home and catch 'Doctor Who.'"

Ronald looked at him for a moment.

"You watch Doctor Who?" Ron said with a snicker. "Seriously?"

"Yes as a matter of fact I do," Grell replied. "You eat this greasy mess, I watch the occasional bit of odd science fiction, we all have our base recreation."

"Like Lord Wolsley?"

"No, that was a cultured exchange."

"And what was that Davy bloke last week?"

"That was a recreation shag."

Ron gave a dirty chuckle. Grell grinned lewdly, lowering the illusion charm for a moment to give Ron a glimpse of pointed pearly whites before they went back to "normal." Ron snickered a little and took a sip of his own beer.

"But why over here?" Ron asked. "Soho's your territory isn't it? Don't they have people on duty here tonight?"

"They did," Grell replied, taking a sip from his own glass. "Allison Mitchell was assigned to this case but..." Grell looked around, then rubbed the top of his glass. Ron recognized this charm, the glass would magnify a tiny whisper to a normal tone to a non-human ear. This way they could really talk shop without truly freaking out any eavesdroppers. "The poor thing had a run-in with a rather nasty lemur about three hours ago. She nearly took the thing down from what I heard until a lucky claw swipe took her head clean off."

"Ouch," Ronald said with a shiver. "Poor girl."

"Yes, and it only gets better; the bloody demon set up a little ring of fire and her head incinerated, it's plum gone."

Ron winced. He took up his own glass and did the same charm on it before putting it close to his lips.

"Did they get her out of there, or are you doing an inappropriately dramatic telling of the story?" Ron whispered.

"Thankfully they got her right out. Her head's already grown back fully and she's talking. They want to keep her in the infirmary for the night so she can sleep of her...headache."

"Har har, still that's awful," Ronald said.

"She was the one joking around about it," Grell said. "These were supposed to be her last clients of the evening, so not a stretch. Hell you could have done it, you're over here anyway."

"So are you, except you were the one who requested the night off and they knew you were going to be over here anyway," Ronald said, lowering his glass and taking another forkful of fish. He was nearing the end of his plate and felt rather satisfied. "Though now I'm curious, how did you end up in this place? You weren't spying on me were you?"

"Our meeting was pure coincidence," Grell said, leaning into his glass again. "Can't say the same about the location."

Ron's eyes widened a little. He looked around the diner though saw only the usual goings on.

"Here?" he whispered, leaning in closer to Grell.

Grell reached in his jacket pocket and produced his copy of the To-Die List, opening it to the current entry and putting it in front of Ron. Ron looked through it, raising his eyebrows.

"Damn," Ronald said.

"Indeed," Grell said, closing the book and putting it back in his pocket. "You might want to get another pint, I doubt you'll want to be around for it."

"The way you work, I'd say I agree," Ronald said, picking up another few chips. "I'll just take my sweet time then."

"I've got ten minutes so I'll do the same," Grell said, stealing a couple more chips.

"What's this about being full?" Ron said, catching a patron walking past from the restroom out of the corner of his eye.

"Call it a common man's gatsrique," Grell said presenting his chip.

Ron could see the passing patron, a heavyset guy in a polo shirt, giving Grell a double-take before shaking his head, the words "Bloody fairy" loudly muttered.

"The bloodiest, sweet cheeks," Grell responded without even looking at the guy.

The guy just shook his head again and went back to his booth. Ron broke out into giggles.

"Have I mentioned I love you, in a perfectly platonic, gentlemanly way of course?" Ron said.

"I always welcome declarations of love, even from ruffians the likes of you," Grell said, sipping his beer.

"Oh so ruffians are the only ones that are off limits to you."

Grell gave a little smirk in response, Ron took another forkful of fish and shoved it in his mouth with an innocent smile. He was expecting to get kicked at any time but Grell was still quite relaxed.

"Naturally, I am a gentleman with discerning tastes," Grell said.

"Oh you are indeed a gentleman, you never got 'the surgery,'" Ron gestured with his fingers as quotation marks for that last phrase.

"Oh bloody Christ," Grell said with a profound eye roll.

Ronald cackled.

"Sorry, chap, just had to," Ronald said. "Didn't think you heard it enough this week, even today."

"Try this past decade," Grell said. "You blast your mouth off a few times to the wrong people during a weird time in your life and a hundred years later you'll never hear the end of it."

"But to be fair anyone who knew you back in the olden days might just ask the question, I mean you're right there was stuff you were a bit vocal about then but...you know...that was then."

Ron took a look for the waitress to make sure she didn't suddenly pop up during a weird conversation. He spotted her behind the counter twisting her hair whilst talking to some lout with long hair in a Black Sabbath shirt.

"Then I was just an addled Molly saying a bunch of mad stuff," Grell said. "Now there are clinical definitions and social movements and bollocks. You can't just laugh at the Mollies anymore."

"Pretty much yeah," Ron said. "I mean, I'll be a bit honest, I was kinda surprised to get back and see you..."

"And not be reporting to 'Miss Sutcliff,'" Grell said with a smirk. "I bet this gave you a right start."

He rubbed his mustache with his thumb and forefinger. Ronald pointed and nodded in response.

"It's been thirty years since we'd seen each other, Ron," Grell said, reactivating the charm on his glass and leaning into it. "Eighty since you were my junior during a time when I was, to put it bluntly, a bit fucked up in too many ways; that particular one being the least of everything."

Ronald only nodded and Grell gave a dirty smirk in response.

"I'm not going to be one of those old gits who are going to stay the same exact corpse for hundreds of years and in my case that's a good thing," Grell continued. "A lot has changed for me, a lot and so have the times."

Ronald nodded enthusiastically.

"Never did I ever imagine then what today would be like and it's just been the past fifty years when everything's changed even more," Ron said.

"It's glorious, a bloody miracle" Grell said. "I literally want to weep in pure orgasmic joy when I think about where things are now. I don't have to hide who I am not do I have to wish I were something else so I can be 'normal.' I can walk past a copper and brag about how I just got it up the arse and he might shake his head and call me a poofter. A hundred years ago I could go to prison for that, a hundred years before I'd be getting my neck stretched. Molly boys playing dress-up in their secret bars are now drag queens selling out shows to the locals. There's parades now, there's political movements, the way things are going I might just be walking down some church aisle before the Archbishop of Canterbury blessing my union with some perfect husband.

"Oh yes I could make that change, but why the hell would I want to be a woman now? To be nice and domestic with my husband and children, in this era? At a time when women are burning their brassieres and chopping off their hair, clawing against everyone that wants to keep them in the kitchen or the party parlor? Sorry, I'm not going to go through years of bloody injections and surgeries and who knows what else for my condition just to see if I could actually jump that bandwagon. Maybe it's for some other bitch but I'm a bit disinterested. I know that now, though can't say it was a hasty decision without a lot of thought but that's still where I am. The bandwagon's being burned in feminist protest to the fanfare of boys in pink knickers grinding against each other. I'll be watching it all in a smart suit and laughing my arse off."

Ronald looked at him for a moment, seeing the pure glee in his eyes.

"Your smart suit that lacks a starched collar," Ronald said, following a theme. "And right afterwards you aren't going to a ballroom, you can go to a discothèque with a bunch of half-naked people hopped up on coke shagging in the middle of the room. Or you can go home and get into leathers, tease your hair up, and go to a punk club and watch guys with safety pins in their cheeks beat the shit out of each other."

Grell took a long sip of his beer, his grin firmly in place.

"You know me all too well, dearest," Grell said.

"You're just loving this era aren't you?"

"There was an era like this once. A bit more wars and no rock music of course but the same concept: Rome."

"Rome fell though," Ronald said, picking up a few chips and dipping them. "Times change and this one will too, you know that."

"Oh I know, can't guarantee I won't look on myself a now a hundred years in the future and retch in disgusted embarrassment," Grell said. "There might be another Victoria or another 1950s. Another tight-arsed bitch might reenact the cause of purity, or I might just have that perfectly blessed church wedding with my soul mate."

"Or Mr. William."

"Unlikely, but who knows by then. Lucky for everyone I'm rather enjoying this whole 'gay bachelor' concept."

The sound of shattering glass rang through the diner. Grell and Ron looked back to see a guy in a leather vest get up and start screaming at his buddies; something about a girl but it was slurred voices all around. Grell looked down at his watch and nodded, Ronald looked at his own watch for reference.

"Still another five minutes," Ron said. "But five is another issue here too, gettin' back to our conversation."

Ronald lifted his glass again and refreshed the charm.

"You've seen it, in fact I've seen this on most of the handsome gentlemen you keep company with," Ronald whispered.

Grell immediately nodded, picking up his own nearly-empty glass.

"The five year list, oh believe me I know." Grell whispered back. "I've been watching out for that actually, taking a second look at ticking lifespans. I'd rather not get too cozy with someone who's going to kick off in five years."

"Do they know what's going to do it though? This has been scarily consistent. I'm guessing it's going to be a virus of some kind by the pattern, but you never know."

"Oh I know it's a virus. Something's going to get spread round; knowing all these party boys it's likely something social. If you look carefully it's not just the pink boys either; it's a lot of other people too. Everyone's sins are going to catch up with them. I fear this will plunge us back into the dark ages; but then once you've had a bite of the snake's apple, there's no going back."

Ronald sat back, slinging an arm over the back of the booth. He couldn't help but notice that old look of malicious glee in his senior's eyes.

"Nero's just tuning up his fiddle waiting for the first sparks that will burn Rome down, isn't he," Ron said.

Grell swirled the contents of his glass, the corners of his mouth quirking up a bit.

"We've been studying our classical analogies, haven't we?" Grell said.

Ron simply shrugged. The yelling at the back of the room was getting a bit louder. He looked over and saw two more guys on their feet and yelling back at their rude companion. Apparently this guy thought these two were flirting with his girlfriend a little too hard and loaded up on enough liquid courage to express his feelings.

"I really should get a head start," Grell said looking again at his watch.

Ronald nodded and picked up the last three chips on the plate. He looked up and saw the waitress approaching, looking more than a bit flustered.

"I'm so sorry, guys, didn't mean to forget you," she said, her voice a bit breathy like the first stages of tears.

"You seem to have your hands a bit full, dearest," Grell said, his head motioning toward the guys in the back.

"I'm terribly sorry about that," she whispered. "I've been on the phone with my boss and he's calling the police."

Grell nodded and downed the last few drops in his glass.

"Unfortunately I had best be off," he said.

He reached into his picket and pulled out a red leather wallet, pulling out a few pound notes and handing them to the waitress.

"This is for me and my chum here," Grell said.

Ron's eyes widened and he looked at Grell, mouth half stuffed with chips.

"Wow, thanks," he said. "You're Mr. Generous."

"No you'll owe me later," Grell said with a smirk.

He got up from the bench and pulled out a £10 note, delicately placing it in the waitress' hand.

"And something for your troubles, you poor thing," Grell cooed, lifting her hand and kissing the back of it.

She looked at the note and her mouth tuned up in a wide grin.

"Thank you, sir," she said, voice somewhat shaking. "You're such a generous gentleman, you are."

"I certainly do my part," Grell said, turning to Ron. "See you at the office, mate."

"Yeah, cheers," Ron said, tipping his glass toward Grell.

Grell waved and turned around, contentedly walking away. "Killer Queen" came over the radio. Ronald chuckled and saw Grell pause for a moment to sing along with the first lines in a low tone, taking a pair of black gloves from his pocket and dramatically putting them on. He strutted down the aisle, winking to the fat man who muttered insults at him earlier. The guy was too wrapped in his meat pie and telling his wife about some idiot co-worker to notice. Grell simply walked out the door, the chimes of the sleigh bells and the sound of his low singing slightly breaking through the rising yells.

Ronald scooped up the rest of his fish, keeping half an eye on the group in back. As expected shoving started and one friend yelled at them to "take it outside." The two calmer ones were practically pushing their drunker and louder companion out the door. Ron picked up his glass, seeing he had a small amount still left and didn't really feel like another one. This place was probably going to clear out in the next minute anyway. He made a point not to eye his watch lest it look suspicious.

One shot rang out, some of the diner patrons screamed, a few jumped right to their feet, Ron just looked confused. By the second shot the poor waitress dropped some dishes and started screaming. Patrons were getting up and running to the windows or the back of the building if they were smart.

Ronald jumped up from his seat and ran to the window just as blue lights flickered. As expected: Thomas Cleaves, the loud patron, up and shot his buddies Andrew Fitzpatrick and Samuel Barker in a drunken rage. He dropped the gun and must have run off, though he wouldn't be hard to find; he was going to get hit by a car a few blocks away.

Amid the growing screech of sirens was the roaring whine of Grell Sutcliff's death scythe, a sound only Ronald could hear. Maybe having another pint wasn't a bad idea.


Tags: fics, the 70s reaper
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