Steve stared up, unable to look away. It was tall, too thin, smooth featureless grey skin, its mouth stretched to bare a hint of tooth, glinting and sharp. Caught between it and the stack of heavy amps at his back, Steve couldn’t move, frozen, a whimper mewling up from his throat. It moved closer and reached down with a graceful, elongated finger to stroke the side of Steve’s face.
A rush of heat swept through him. His limbs relaxed, went limp. He stared up at the grey face and its glinting, sharp grin, staring without any thought, any feeling…
There was a sharp, short, shock of noise. The creature’s head exploded.
The heat dropped away, the sudden chill sucking the air from his lungs. Then, only then, gasping and heaving air, did Steve realize that there was another creature, standing over Neal and holding the guitarist’s face gently between its own elongated hands, and Neal was staring up at the creature with no expression, eyes blank, mouth open. The creature was turning, towards the noise, even as the noise repeated, even as the creature staggered back, collapsing to its knees as circles of dark dampness blossomed on its torso.
That jolted Steve up, scrambling to his feet and hauling Neal with him, no other thought other than get the fuck away. Neal staggered, stumbled into a run alongside him, both of them tripping over each other until they made it around the corner of the hospitality trailer, far back of the stage. Fear, shock, nausea, all caught up, and Steve fell to his knees, breath heaving, retching.
“Oh god.” Neal collapsed against the corrugated steel of the trailer. “Oh christ. Oh fuckin’ christ…” The younger man was trembling, eyes closed, panting, gulping air.
“We…” Steve swallowed hard, hearing the high tension in his voice, feeling his throat close around the words.
…the long, graceful finger, slick and stroking down his face…
He looked up, his fists clenched, swallowed the memory down. He wanted to freak. He wanted to go find a quiet corner and get stoned out of his mind and just shake. But Neal was watching him. The two stared at each other, and Steve knew, knew, that if he freaked…
I’ll never live it down.
If he lived at all. He closed his eyes, forced himself to take a deep breath.
“Oh god,” Neal whispered, and Steve opened his eyes to stare at the guitarist. Neal shoved himself away from the trailer. “The others.”
Jesus. Steve knew the rest of the band had been hanging around the stage, but… “We gotta get out of here. The cops –”
The guitarist turned, and Steve halted at the look on his face.
“You’re crazy,” Steve said. “You can’t seriously be thinking–”
Neal turned away, stumbled, back towards the stage. Steve braced himself to his feet, staggered after the guitarist.
…of all the fuckin’ bands, I get in with the kid who wants to play superman…
“Neal!” A shout, panicked, high-pitched.
They both turned, just as Ross barreled into both of them, tripped, stumbled, was caught just before he could go sprawling into the dirt. The bassist was shaking so hard that he could barely stand, and for a moment, he clung to both of them, suspended between and hanging from their shoulders until he got his feet back under him.
“Aynes,” Ross gasped, his voice spiraling up. “They got him. Grabbed and split and vanished and oh fuckin’ christ…”
Steve couldn’t move, shock and fear smothering him. They. But Neal had Ross by the shoulders, shaking him.
“Gregg. Where’s Gregg?”
Ross only stared, wide-eyed.
“Dammit, Ross!” Neal shook the bassist again, harder. “Where. Is. Gregg?!”
But Steve saw Ross’s stare and twisted to look; it wasn’t at them, it was…
Tall. Grey. Silent. Two of…them…stood there, just at the other corner of the trailer, watching the musicians. Something, some base, trembling instinct, pulled Steve’s head around, the other direction, to see three more standing at the other side. Bracketed. Caught. His gasp pulled the others into turning; he heard Ross moan, and Neal curse, and in that moment, Steve saw it, past…them. The tunnels, ramps down to the lockers in the stadium.
…through the stadium, the parking lot, the buses…
“Lockers!” he shouted, shoving Ross hard, and Neal after him, stumbling into a run on their heels. But then something hit the ground at their feet, and he tripped, stumbled into Ross…
The air exploded.
Steve landed hard on his side, the impact driving the breath from him. Fighting for air, just one small breath, any air, any breath, he squinted up, saw Ross struggling to his hands and knees just a few feet away, and beyond Ross, Neal lay curled, unmoving.
The grey ones moved up, silent, pacing. Steve couldn’t move, wheezing, struggling to get his hands under him. His body didn’t want to work, didn’t want to move, and he could only watch as one of them stopped at Neal, reached down, lifted…
Neal’s face was bloody, but he fought weakly against the grip, his eyes wide and staring, meeting Steve’s gaze for just an instant before the air turned blue and imploded.
Neal and the thing were gone.
Steve choked, fighting for air, even as it sunk in that the things were coming towards him, stepping past Ross, ignoring the bassist completely, as if Ross didn’t exist. Steve stared up, into the grey, featureless face, at the elongated hands that were reaching for him…
There was light, red, sharp, cutting. It flew over his head, smacked hard into the creature, which stumbled back, still silent, still grey. Before Steve fully registered that, something else whirred around and over his head, and a small figure leaped past him, landing to stand between him and the creatures. One of the creatures tried to move past her, ignoring her as they did Ross —
The figure lashed out, a long wooden staff in its hand. There was a sound, like a melon crushed against pavement, and the creature fell, its head split and oozing grey and black matter onto the grass.
Whoever it was in front of him gestured sharply with its left hand, and suddenly the air turned alive, liquid, a glistening surface between him and the creatures. Whatever it was holding Steve snapped; he started to scramble up, to his feet.
“Don’t move,” the figure said, without turning.
Chick. She’s a goddam chick.
“Well?” The figure said to the creatures, defiant and angry between him and those grey faces. “Make up your mind, assholes. I haven’t got all day…”