Actions

Work Header

Unforgivable

Chapter Text

The static buzz, menial beeping, and repetitive clacking on the keyboards used to be calming to him. It was sad to say that the mind numbing task of transferring data onto a spread sheet and checking over Joja’s inventory logs was calming to him. Check one page, type it in and yawn. Rinse and repeat. As long as he didn’t fall asleep at his desk or fuck up the Joja corporation’s higher ups didn’t care how many hours he worked, and well, he had racked up a lot of overtime.

Suddenly a mess of blond hair popped over the top of his cubical. “Yo, Polly. We’re going to go and hit the pub after work. You in or out?” This plucky ball of excitement was one of the newer members of the Joja family. Their will hadn’t been broken yet. In a month or two that would change.

“My name isn’t Polly. It’s Apollyon.” He muttered as he punched in a few more numbers. “If you can’t remember it just call me Al. Everyone else does. Steve.”

The blond pouted a little. “My name isn’t Steve. It’s June.”

Apollyon shrugged and quickly finished off his final spread sheet for the day. “Whatever.” He wasn’t one to be friendly with his co-workers, hell he hardly ever spoke to them at lunch, preferring to just eat his lunch at his desk. The only people he really talked to was his manager, the mail lady, and the random slew of interns that Joja employed. Legal slave labour.

“So are you coming out to drink with us or not?” June asked. “You hardly ever show up to any of the other company functions, so just come out and hang with us. Make work friends or something.”

“… Nah, I’d rather finish some stuff I’ve gotten behind on. Management will do my head in if I mess up this deadline.” He might have finished today’s workload, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t go through everything and check it again.

Almost as if the world was against him, his manager happened to walk by. June grinned at him and waved. “Hey, so is it okay if Polly comes out drinking with us tonight? He says he’s behind on work.”

“I wasn’t aware you were behind on anything.” Said his manager. He glanced over at Apollyon’s computer and shook his head. “You’ve finished your work for today. Just come out drinking with the rest of us.”

Apollyon could just feel a heavy weight slowly pushing down on his shoulder. Each word rolling out of everyone’s mouths making that weight heavier and heavier. “Oh, so I have… Who else is coming?”

June just grinned and started listing off people. “There’s Greg and Barry from accounting, Diana from admin, Rose and Tina from sector B’s IT crew, our manager, me and you. Small group.”

Suddenly the Joja corp jingle started to play as the bright green work light at the front of the room went out and the bright res rest button started flashing instead. Joja really seemed to treat its employees like animals. No, robots would be more accurate. That’s just how things were. The bigger the company the more expendable the workers.

“Let’s go.” Said June with a grin. “I wanna get there before Greg gets smashed. He’s such a light weight.”

So with much reluctance Apollyon ended up getting dragged to a bar to drink with his co-workers personally he’d rather be run over by the Zuzu city 9:15 bus than be here of all places. The pub looked welcoming enough. It seemed to have an Irish theme if the shamrocks and grotesque wooden leprechaun staked to the wall meant anything.

Everyone ordered a few rounds of drinks and happily downed themselves in alcohol. It disturbed Apollyon how easily everyone lost their damn minds, but he could understand it to an extent. Joja corp sucked the life out of everyone and everything it touched till they were nothing but an empty husk.

He looked around at all the people around him, sighing internally when he could easily distinguish who had been working for Joja for longer. The more reserved the individual and stronger the drink the longer they had been there. Maybe some of them were alcoholics and used it to numb themselves like the way he used work to do the same thing?

He quickly pushed that thought out of his mind as he continued to listen to these random people talk about their random weekend activities. Two of the girls were going to have a spa day. Someone was going to go fishing. Someone else was going to catch up one some TV show they had fallen behind on.

Apollyon wondered for a moment what he was going to do, but quickly squashed any idea that he was going to do something fantastical. He was going to do what he did every weekend; eat, sleep, and watch TV. None of those activities were really going to be much fun. He slept on a broken mattress in a rundown apartment, ate crappy instant ramen, and his TV’s volume had a mind of its own. If he made any deviation from what he usually did it would be to call his mum to see how she was going. But knowing her she was unlikely to pick up. Same with his dad.

As he begrudgingly accepted his mundane existence he hardly noticed one of the women slipping into the empty seat next to him. She was a brunet with long elegant hair. She was slightly flushed from the alcohol but still seemed somewhat capable of functioning on her own. “So is it real?”

“…Is what real miss?”

“Oh, Diana. I’m from admin.”

“Apollyon from sector D. So what’s real?”

Diana pointed to his face and grinned. “Your hair. Isn’t like natural black hair meant to have a blue or black shine? Why do you have a red shine?”

“I just do. Some people are like that.” It was true too, not once in his life had he dyed his hair. It just looked weird and that was that.

Before she could ask what he was talking about a woman started rattling off about something in a foreign language. This just caused the native English speakers to laugh and tell her they didn’t know what she was saying. “Come on Tina,” slurred June. “No one knows what you’re saying when you speak that gibberish.”

Apollyon shook his head. “She’s speaking Portuguese. Duh.”

“You know Portuguese?” Asked Diana. She seemed pretty impressed. “What else can you speak?”

“Eh, I can speak pretty much any language if I’m around someone who’s speaking it for long enough. But I can’t read it. Written words have never been my strong suit. That’s why I’m a numbers man.” He looked down at his drink; he had been nursing his cup of scotch for at least two hours now. All the ice had melted. He drained the glass and considered leaving.

“That’s cool, so if you are good with languages and stuff, why not get work as a translator or something?” She asked. “Would be good with war efforts on the front line with the Gotoro Empire and stuff… But then again you probably don’t like the feeling of getting shot at?”

Apollyon shrugged. He had considered going doing that, but the truth was he didn’t like the idea of fighting. Hell, he didn’t even really know why they were fighting the Gotoro Empire these days. As far as he knew it was an unfortunate mix of circumstances. It all made him feel uneasy and kind of dirty to be put in those kinds of circumstances.

Diana sighed. “Still, seems like a damn shame to waste your talent away punching numbers for Joja corp.”

True, punching numbers hand never been the truly ideal thing Apollyon wanted to do with his life, but it paid the bills. Kept him going day to day. Stopped him from thinking too much about anything. It was almost like working at Joja had beaten him mentally into submission. He really was a slave to the system at this point.

That realisation hit Apollyon hard. Was this what it was like to be human? Was this what it meant to be human? To just become a cog in the machine that was Joja corp? Was it an inevitable cycle? Would he eventually just leave Joja only to instantly be forced into working for Joja again? Sure the name and corporate structure would be different but in the end it would be the exact same wouldn’t it?

Realising having an existential crisis in public was probably frowned upon in polite human society, Apollyon excused himself. “Yeah, I need to go home now.”

“Aw, why?” Whined June. “You’ve only had like one drink.”

“… I have a doctor’s appointment early tomorrow and don’t want to stay up all night.”

His flimsy excuse seemed to be enough for the group and Apollyon was able to leave and catch a bus back to his neighbourhood. It was very depressing watching the glamorous night lights of the city with its fancy eye catching neon fade into the mundane yellow streetlights of the more residential areas.

He lived in a lower middle class area, the housing here was affordable for the time being. Lately there had been word going around that the government was going to try and gentrify the area. If that happened Apollyon would have to consider moving back in with his parents. He didn’t like that idea at all. They burnt all kinds of incense sticks and candles that made his eyes water and skin itch.

He got off at his stop and wandered back to his shoebox apartment. Glancing up at the sky he wondered if there was anything for him besides Joja. The stars said neither yes nor no. They just showed the Junimos trio constellation. Stupid spindly apple bastards. Apollon had a strong dislike for fables about those guys. They were meant to be forest spirits. Some versions of the stories his mum told him when he was younger stated that the Junimos were helpers of Yoba. He didn’t want to think about Yoba today.

Apollyon walked into his apartment and tossed his keys on the table as he walked straight into his bedroom. It was nothing impressive. Just a mattress on the floor, a closet, and a nightstand with an old wooden box on it. It was a little time capsule of his childhood. It was filled with all kinds of things he though were important when he was younger. Small toys, drawings, sea shells, some photos, and maybe a cool rock.

He licked off his shoes and collapsed onto the mattress. His jeans were the only pants he had with fabric strong enough not to get ripped to shreds on the broken bed springs. Apollyon rolled onto his back and looked up at the cracks on the ceiling. There were more today. A lot more. Soon those cracks would end up making a hole. A dark, black, empty void that would suck him in. He’d be sucked in and trapped in the dark with all the other fleshy things that lived in the dark.

That thought made his chest tighten and his anxiety to rise even higher than when he realised he was a slave to the Joja system.

The cracks were getting bigger.

In the end it was just going to be him alone in the dark. No one was ever going to care about him enough to be worried if he just vanished someday. He’d just go back to the dark and no one would care.

The cracks were getting bigger.

The relationship he had with his parents was strained at best. His mum was nice enough to him. She still loved him and made the effort when he made the effort so she’d probably be a little sad. His step dad on the other hand, that was a whole other story. He was nice enough, but always looked at him with disgust when he thoughts that he wasn’t paying attention.

The cracks were getting bigger.

The only one that would care about him going missing was his mum, but even then she would eventually feel relief if he was gone. It would be like ripping off a band aid. It would hurt for a while but then it would go away and be just like the band aid was never there.

The cracks were too big.

Panic finally set in and Apollyon quickly sat up and tried to pull himself off his mattress, knocking over the nightstand and the box in the process. He stared down at the carpet as he tried to ground himself back into reality. The cracks weren’t getting bigger. They were the same as they had always been. People would be sad if he was gone. He was here and he was okay.

He didn’t know how long he sat there calming himself, but when he finally did, he noticed the damage he had caused. He knocked over his nightstand which meant he knocked over his box, and everything in it has spilt out.

Apollyon groaned in frustration as he quickly put everything back; a few small plastic dinosaurs, some rhinestones he thought looked cool, a rock shaped like a monkey’s head, some wood that looked like a dagger, sea shells, some photos of him and his family and an unopened letter?

Frowning a little Apollyon looked at the strange letter with his name shakily written on it. He strained to remember where on earth he had gotten the letter from and why he hadn’t opened it. Cautiously he peeled open the envelope and took out two pieces of paper. One piece of paper contained the deed to his grandfather’s old farm, Hellfire Farm.

Dramatic name aside, Hellfire farm was a place Apollyon didn’t think he would ever see again. His earliest memories were of that place with him mum and grandpa. The old man died too soon. Way too soon. Apollyon had only been seven at the time and didn’t understand why his grandpa wouldn’t wake up or why he was put in a box in the ground.

He quickly read over the letter that informed him that he indeed was being given Hellfire Farm. His grandpa’s pride and joy. Apollyon could feel his chest tightening again as ugly fat tears rolled down his face and hit the letter, smearing a little of the ink, and he didn’t know why. It wasn’t panic he knew that for sure. Maybe it was relief? Maybe his body was getting flooded was adrenaline and dopamine or something? He had no idea.

He wipes his eyes dry and turned the letter over, there was a phone number for someone called Lewis. His grandpa also scribbled down that he would need to call them to set up moving into the farm. All his happy childhood memories came flooding back; picking wild flowers with his mum, learning how to fish with grandpa, running around on autumn leaves, making snow monsters in the winder, and spending all day in the sun.

Screw Joja. Screw them and their fucked up system of mentally destroying and subjugating everyone they employed. Apollyon was going to escape that poison well. He hardly had anything to his name, his job was deliberately soul sucking, and the place he was living in was falling apart. He had nothing in Zuzu city. He could start over. He had a decent amount of gold stored away, kind of. Not really. No. Five hundred gold was pretty awful, but he could make it. He was going to make it.

Goodbye Zuzu city. Hello Stardew Valley.

Chapter Text

Things had gone surprisingly smooth for Apollyon’s transition to Stardew Valley. He had emailed his resignation letter, spicing it up a little with a little lie about a terminally ill relative he needed to care for asap so he wouldn’t be in on Monday. He had also called this Lewis person and explained his situation about finding the deed to Hellfire Farm and how he was planning to move in the next few days.

Lewis was ecstatic to hear that someone was going to make use of the farm once again, and a relative no less. He had informed Apollyon which bus to get and that a woman named Robin would meet him at the bus stop.

So there he was, backpack clutched to his chest as he sat anxiously on the 7:20 bus to Stardew Valley. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen so much green and blue. Everything in Zuzu was very grey and muted colours. He nearly jumped out of his skin when the bus pulled up at his stop and announced their arrival in Pelican Town.

Apollyon quickly scrambled off the bus, almost tripping over himself as he did so. The ground was hard an uneven beneath his feet, but he didn’t care. Everything felt so fresh and alive. So different from the city. He loved it.

As he quickly became overwhelmed once by the greenery around him he noticed the redheaded woman standing in front of him. “Hey there. You must be Apollyon, right?”

“Yeah, and you’re Robin?”

Robin smiled brightly at him, a genuine smile that wasn’t forced. It unsettled him a little. He was still too used to the fake corporate grins on the Joja zombies. “That’s right. I’m the local carpenter. Mayor Lewis asked me to show you to your new home.”

Apollyon smiled at her, hoping it wasn’t as forced as it felt, and followed her down the dirt path to Hellfire farm. Along the way Robin happily talked about how excited everyone was to meet the new farmer and how the farm had fallen into disrepair. Once he actually saw the farm he couldn’t say she was lying; the whole place was covered with rocks and branches and trees and weeds. Sadly, not the fun kind of weed. It would take a while but he was going to fix this place up.

Suddenly an old man walked out of the farm house to greet them. As it turns out this was Mayor Lewis. He definitely looked old enough for him to be a man that his grandpa would have known back in the day. He quickly explained a few things to Apollyon, where to put his crops, that he should fix things up, and that Robin was going to try and sell him house upgrades. Whatever that meant.

“-And that’s everything.” Said Lewis with a smile. “You think you got a handle on everything?”

Apollyon smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I think so. Thanks for everything Mayor and Miss Robin.”

The two adults looked mildly amused by the way he had addressed them. “It’s okay Apollyon.” Said Lewis. “You can just call us by our names.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Feel free to explore around town and get to know everyone.” Said Lewis. “I’m sure you’ll be settling down and making friends in no time.”

Robin nodded in agreement. “Yeah, stop by my shop sometime too, it’s a little way off from the village up in the mountains. There’s a shortcut through the back of your farm. People have used it quite a lot over the years since this place hasn’t really been used… But I’m sure no one’s going to cut through here anymore since everyone knows about the new farmer.”

Apollyon nodded a little, very thankful for the help. Once the two people had left he took some time exploring the interior of the house, more like a cabin really. But it was just how he remembered it from his childhood somewhat. There was a table and chair, bed, TV, little round carpet, a fireplace and some spooky looking wall hangings on the wall. It made him smile a little to see the place still looked relatively the same.

However there was still no indoor plumbing, so it meant it was back to boiling water and digging out an outdoor toilet for himself. Not the worst thing in the world but he would need to fix this soon. He then realized he didn’t have a shovel, just a hoe. Not very good for digging a hole.

Despite his lack of proper digging equipment, Apollyon was happy. He sat down on the bed, surprised to find it seemed to be a new mattress. This was already a million times better than his old place. He couldn’t stop the giddy feeling that was swirling around deep within his chest every second he existed within that cabin. It felt good, it felt right. He was at home.

He spent the rest of the day cleaning and planting some parsnip crops that Lewis had left for him. He hardly noticed when the sun started to go down, but when it did he quickly made his way back inside and went to bed. Today had been amazing. He’d started the life of a farmer. He could already list all the animals he was going to get off in his mind; chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, goats rabbits, and whatever else he could get his hands on. But this was going to take lots of gold. He was going to need to plant a lot more crops.

***

The next day, bright and early Apollyon got up and watered his seeds. Despite his own personal reservations he decided he was going to be different. He wasn’t going to be closed off from the rest of the world this time. Today he was going to go out and meet the town. Being the outsider he had to try and intergrade himself into this community. If he was an asshole no one would want to buy his vegetables and he would be royally screwed.

He took a few moments to psych himself up. He needed to be pleasant and smile and make an effort not to have resting bitch face all the time. Apollyon didn’t trust himself to not make an enemy for life on his first human interaction of the day, so he decided to use the shortcut and see if he could find Robin’s home.

Thankfully the shortcut wasn’t a lie and he easily found her house. He was very impressed with the building and wondered if Robin went and built it herself. She was the town carpenter after all. Cautiously, Apollyon knocked on the front door and went inside. To his relief Robin was in fact there and standing behind a counter no less. It looked like she had converted the front room of her house into a store front.

“Hey there Apollyon. Good to see you. Need anything built?” She was still positively beaming with the same genuine smile that rattled him earlier.

He smiled sheepishly at her in a vain attempt to compose himself. “I just came by to say hello. Lewis said I should go around and meet everyone.”

“Met anyone yet?”

“Um, no… You’re my first stop.”

She grinned and clapped her hands together. “Aw thank you. It’s so nice that you thought of me and my family. Want some coffee?”

“Oh um, that would be nice. Thank you.” He followed Robin to the kitchen, surprised to see a man there washing and putting away his own coffee mug.

“Demetrius,” said Robin. “This is the new farmer, Apollyon. Apollyon, his is my husband, Demetrius.”

The man smiled at Apollyon and shook his hand. He had a very firm grip, and Apollyon couldn’t tell if he was just naturally strong or just one of those guys that had to out masculine every other guy they met. “Well it’s good to meet you. Robin was very excited to tell us all about you. Have you met our daughter yet? You probably passed her on your way up here.”

“Um, no sir, I took the shortcut and came straight here.”

“Oh, well I’m sure you’ll meet her soon. I need to get to work. I’ll see you later love.” He kissed Robin’s cheek and sidestepped past Apollyon. “Hopefully we’ll see you around more.”

Apollyon nodded a little and sat at the kitchen table while Robin got him his coffee. He knew that he’d technically only just met one new person today but he felt socially drained already. Which sucked since it wasn’t even midday yet.

Robin seemed to tune into his discomfort as she gave him his drink. “Not a very social person?”

“No, I like to keep to myself… Didn’t really hang out with anyone much in Zuzu city.” He sipped his coffee, enjoying the strong bitter taste. “Never really hung out with anyone in general really…”

“You remind me of my son.”

“Oh, you two have a son too?”

She nodded. “Oh yes. Sebastian, he was from my first marriage. Things didn’t pan out to well between us and well… I’d like to think things are better now for our family as a whole.”

Apollyon nodded. “So does this mean your daughter is your step daughter?”

“No, Maru is mine and Demetrius’s child. Demetrius is Sebastian’s stepfather.” She pursed her lips together for a moment. The men in her life seemed to cause her some form of trouble. “Anyway, I know moving to a new place can be overwhelming at times but you’ll pull through it. Okay?”

“… Okay.” It was nice to know that someone as bright as Robin seemed to be supporting him. He finished his coffee and set about meeting as many people as he possibly could around Pelican Town. Also he needed to find a shop that sold seeds.

Once he made his way down the mountain he managed to find the general store and said hello to the few people there. He met the store’s owner, Pierre and his wife Caroline. They too seemed to be all smiles and cheer like the Robin and Demetrius so he had to smile along with them. It just seemed so weird to him He didn’t understand how people could be so happy. It was probably something in the air.

After he’d picked up some seeds he managed to meet a few more villagers; Penny and her class of two at the library, Clint in his blacksmith shop, Alex and his grandparents, and finally Gus, Emily, and Pam at the Stardrop Saloon in the mid afternoon. That wasn’t all of them but that was more than enough social interaction for him for one day. Willingly talking and exploring the town was not fun for him. It was also so damn stressful smiling and being all cheerful with everyone he came across. He’d kill to just talk shit and get drunk with someone miserable. Something he never thought possible.

He sat on a stool at the bar and rested his head against the freshly polished wood of said bar, sighing heavily. Emily laughed a little as she cleaned a few glasses, holding them up to the light to check for imperfections. “You doing alright Polly?”

Apollyon groaned a little. “That’s not my name…” Emily reminded him of June. He wanted to be all snarky because he couldn’t be bothered to be nice, but he couldn’t. Not if he cared about being part of the community. Everyone seemed to like her well enough.

“Ah, sorry. But are you doing okay? Coming here is probably a big transition for you. You came from Zuzu city, right? What did you do there?”

Apollyon lifted his head off the table and sighed again. “I did… I used to work for Joja corporation… Spread sheet stuff mostly so yeah. Not used to working on a farm or with people…”

Emily nodded knowingly, as if just mentioning that dreaded blue company. “Ah, well I’m sure you’ll be growing lots of things in no time. The soil there is good. How about a drink on the house? Beer or ale?”

“Beer’s good.” Apollyon wasn’t the kind of guy to go drinking a lot, but a free beer was a free beer. He was halfway through drinking when the door of the saloon swung open and a rather tired looking man walked in.

Emily looked ecstatic and waved at him. “Shane! Have you met the new farmer yet?”

Shane glanced over at Apollyon and nodded a little. “Hey. Beer me Emily.” The second Shane got his beer he moved to over near the fireplace to drink in peace. For the first time since Apollyon got here he felt a connection with someone. Even if it was because he seemed completely dismissive of his entire existence. This guy wasn’t smiling or faking interest in him. He had found the grumpy old man he could drink and talk shit with.

“…” He moved over to Shane. “Hey, so I’m Apollyon. Nice to meet you Shane.” Moving closer he noticed Shame was wearing a Joja corporation jacket. Another poor unfortunate soul sucked into the Joja machine. They would get along well.

“What do you want?”

Maybe it was because he was just too used to people acting like assholes up in Zuzu but Apollyon rather liked Shane already. “Want to bitch and complain about the fucked up nonsense that is Joja? I have enough gold to buy us both a beer, or you two if you feel like it.”

Shane gave Apollyon a critical look, seeming to size him up a little. “… Alright.”

***

The next few days went by rather smoothly for Apollyon. He checked his parsnips every day, bought some more crop seeds and planted those too, explored more of the town and spent most of his evenings in the Stardrop Saloon. He was quickly becoming friends with Emily and Shane. He originally thought that Emily was going to be a pain in his ass, but no, she was just genuinely a nice woman. Shane was still just as grumpy as ever, but he was slowly warming up to Apollyon.

Everyone in town seemed to be relatively nice and cheerful. Some of his more noticeable encounters happened when Sam almost ran him over with his skateboard, Haley said his clothes were all dirty and kind of gross, and Linus scaring the heck out of him when he saw the strange mountain man foraging for leeks and horseradish near his tent. He felt like he had met just about everyone in town by now.

On Friday Apollyon got up and happily stepped outside, assuming that he was going to see another bright sunny day, and was immediately met with a Spring storm. Almost as quickly as he had opened the door he closed it. There didn’t seem to be much point in going out today if it was just going to rain.

He sat down on his bed and started to go through his phone. He should probably call his mum and see if she was going to pick up this time. He hadn’t told her he had moved back to the farm. He quickly hit the call button and waited to see he was going to get a voice mail again.

Much to his surprise he didn’t. “Hey baby bean,” she almost cooed. “It’s been a while since we’ve talked.”

He smiled a little. “Yeah mum, and I’m not a baby anymore. I’m almost twenty five… So I quit my job at Joja…”

“Oh, finally got your head screwed on right and gonna join the family business?”

“Mum, we both know that I am dangerously under qualified for that, and I’m pretty sure no one I’d work with would respect me enough to make sure I didn’t accidently kill myself.” She meant well, but Apollyon knew she couldn’t make his problems go away.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself dear. You’ll do fine. How long until they kick your jobless ass out of that apartment?”

“Um… I actually already have a new place.”

“Really? Where?”

“… Grandpa left me the farm.”

“Oh…” She didn’t sound too pleased.

“I’m doing alright I swear. Everyone here is really nice. I’ve practically met everyone and I’m not just working to get by… It’s almost been a while and things have been going really well…”

“Oh honey I’m glad things are working out for you,” she said in an almost overly concerned tone. “But like you just said, it’s only been what? A day? Two days? A week? … And you and nature… You two don’t really get along. Please be careful baby bean. We moved to the city for a reason.”

“I know you’ve said that whatever energy or aura I have attracts bad things towards me, but I’m okay… Really.” His mother had always been deep into magic and spiritualist things. She had told him that Stardew Valley was formed on a crack where both the Yoba plane and the Void converge. He had never been sure if he really believed her or not.

“And you know what will happen if one of these spirits senses your spiritual energy and feels threatened? You might be able to fool them in the city surrounded by people but out in the country… Remember baby bean, claws out and slash at the fleshy bits, but there is no shame in running away to fight another day. Survival is reason enough to keep on living.”

“… I know mum. I love you.”

“I love you too baby bean. I’ll send you a house warming gift soon.” She hung up. Presumably to start some crystal protection charm for him or something.

He knew that she loved him and didn’t mean to sound condescending or rude, but when she talked about his energy or aura it was always in a negative light. His energy was always negative and is aura was always black. He didn’t understand any of it but that apparently meant he was living a doomed existence or something. He didn’t want to dwell on it too much.

To take his mind off of the unfortunate accident that was his life he decided to go for a walk in the rain. Knowing himself he was going to dwell on this weather he wanted to or not. His feet ended up taking him down to the beach. He walked along the rickety doc and stood with the tips of his shoes just over the edge.

He looked up at the sky into a sea of grey and black. Even here it could be just as depressing as the city. Was he getting along with people now? Was he enjoying himself a lot more than he was in the city? Yes. But no matter where he went there was always going to be one thing that was the same. Him. He was never going to change. Not really.

The longer he stared up at the clouds the more they parts where the clouds overlapped started to look like cracks to him. Just like the ones in the ceiling of his old apartment. Before he could stop himself a sob managed to claw its way out of his throat. He knew he was stupid for acting like this. Everything was going good for him.

Everything was fine. He should be happy, but he wasn’t. He was still miserable. He was cold and soaked and miserable and couldn’t stop the ugly, fat tears from rolling down his face as he cried out into the sea.

Chapter Text

Today was Friday, which meant one thing for Sebastian; heading down to the saloon to beat Sam at pool that night. It also happened to be raining which meant he was going to head down to the beach to stare out at the sea. An enjoyable past time for him since it meant pretty much no one would be outside.

It was about nine when Sebastian pulled himself out of bed and into the kitchen. He needed his caffeine if he was going to function. He wasn’t bogged down with work at the moment so he could afford to take the whole day off.

He sat in the kitchen and drank his coffee, wondering if he should let Sam win a game of pool for once. But his own thoughts were interrupted when Maru walked in and poured herself an extra-large glass of orange juice and sat across from him, letting out an exasperated sigh.

“Oh man… I think I fried my third motherboard… I’m gonna be broke at this rate.” Said Maru. Sebastian grunted in response. He didn’t care too much for his half-sister’s attempts at small talk. Either she didn’t get the hint or just decided to ignore him. “Anyway… Have you met the new farmer yet?”

He had recalled that his mum had mentioned showing someone the old Hellfire Farm earlier, but didn’t really make much of it. Apparently they stopped over a few times too. Every time he had been in his room and didn’t bother to go out to see who was visiting. He’s just assumed it was Marnie asking for help with her chicken coops or something. It wouldn’t have been the first time.

“No. Too busy with my own work to meet any new people. I’ll see them around sometime anyway. This isn’t a huge place.”

“Well that’s true.” She drank some of her juice and hummed thoughtfully. “He’s really nice. He came into the clinic the other day and introduced himself to me and Harvey. He was so shy but you could tell he was putting in the effort to get to know everyone.”

“You talking about Apollyon?” Asked Robin as she walked into the kitchen. “Morning Sebby. Heading down to the docks again?”

“Yeah. I’ll be at the saloon later tonight too.”

Maru smiled a little at that, probably assuming that Sebastian was going to beat Sam at pool again. “Anyway, Sebastian hasn’t met Apollyon yet.”

Their mother looked shocked for a second but ended up shaking her head. “Well you do spend pretty much all of your time inside… Hopefully he’ll be at the saloon tonight. Marnie’s mentioned that he’s dropped by her ranch a few times to see Shane, so if Shane’s at the saloon so will Apollyon.”

As the two women continued to talk Sebastian managed to slip away and exit the house without being noticed. He didn’t care about the new farmer. Just a new person that would probably go right ahead and ignore him. No point getting to know him. He pushed the thoughts of the farmer out of his mind as he walked down the cobblestone pavement of the town. It was nice and quiet when it rained heavily like this.

He was about to walk across the bridge leading down to the beach when he spotted a rather large frog right in the middle of said bridge. After quickly glancing around to make sure there was no one around at all, Sebastian slowly crouched down and approached the green and brown spotted amphibian. By the time it realized Sebastian was behind them it was too late, Sebastian grabbed hold of the slimy boy and held it firmly in his hands.

“Got you.” He muttered happily as it wriggled and went ribbit in his hands at the indignity of being manhandled. Sebastian smiled and gave the frog a few pats before putting it back on the town side of the bridge. But the second he let the frog go the wind picked up from the South, carrying with it the sound of a hideous wail. The sound was so strange and unnatural it even made the frog misjudge its jump and land on its back before falling into the river.

Curious as to what on earth that sound was, Sebastian made his way down to the beach. He saw some black humanoid figure wailing at the end of the docks. For a fleeting moment he wondered if it was a Shadow Brute out from hiding. But then again those were just stories. He slowly approached the person coming within about a few feet of them before they noticed Sebastian was there and turned around.

They looked like a drowned rat, completely drenched from head to toe in dark clothes that just appeared black after getting soaked so badly. How long had he been standing out here for? His hair clung around his eyes, red and kind of puffy from crying. Was this guy the new farmer?

The man quickly rubbed his eyes and put on a small smile, even if it looked kind of forced. Not surprised since he was caught crying. “Um… hey?” He muttered. “Um, I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m Apollyon. I guess you’re Sebastian?”

“Um yeah…” Wow this was very awkward. There was nothing Sebastian wanted more than for this to be over with. Luckily for him Apollyon seemed to be thinking the same thing.

“Well, I’m sure you didn’t want to come down here and talk to some random stranger. I’ll let you get on with what you’re doing.” He walked past Sebastian, lightly brushing his knuckles against his own. Apollyon’s skin was ice cold and left his own skin tingling a little in the process. The new farmer was weird.

***

Later that night at the saloon Sebastian was retelling his weird encounter with Abigail and Sam. Sebastian thought everything was kind of weird about their encounter his friends however…

“Whale songs,” said Sam. “He was practicing whale songs.”

Abigail rolled her eyes. “Get real Sam. He was practicing some Blue whaleanese. Wait, did it sound more like wooooOOOOoooOOOooorrrrr, or more like rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIiiiimmmooooRRRR?”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Ah yeas, very important. The pitch is a dead giveaway. One octave can mean the difference between a blue whale saying hello and an orca telling you your mum has been harpooned.”

Abigail snickered at that comment and Sebastian’s sour expression. “Come on, all that can be easily explained. Firstly it’s cold as fuck when it rains and you have no idea how long he was out there. Secondly he was probably just freaking out about moving out here and needed to have a cry and scream about it. I heard him talking to my dad the other day and he said he used to work for Joja and just hates them.”

At the mention of Joja Sam cringed. “Okay yeah, if he worked for Joja he probably needed to let out a scream. I just work there part time and I feel like I need to go home and cry at least once a month. That place sucks the life out of you.”

Sebastian relented a little at his friends words. Things were weird, but they weren’t insanely weird. He was just overthinking things. “Whatever. Whose turn is it to get a round of drinks?”

“That would be I.” Said Abigail as she jumped off the couch and made her way to the bar. Once she was out of earshot Sam couldn’t help but grin at Sebastian.

Sebastian knew that look. He did not like that look. “… What are you thinking Samson?”

“Dude, do you have a crush on the new guy?”

“… Yeah so I am going to hit that ball with the cue and I’ll make it hit the rim, jump, and smash you in the face.” Just for a little added threat he leaned over the pool table and pretended to line up the shot.

“Not my face!” Whined Sam as he tried to cover his face and anything else Sebastian might try and hit. “All I have it my looks!”

“Pretty much.”

“Okay rude. But I was just teasing you. Though you do tend to imprint on things you find weird like a duckling… I think I heard your mum say that once. Which is how we became such good friends.”

“Do I have to shove this pool cue up your nose?”

***

After a rather embarrassing meeting with Sebastian, marking off the last person he had to meet. He just really wished he hadn’t been caught crying out in the middle of the rain like that. He was going to have to refrain from doing that out in public and just do it in the safety of his room like he would usually do in his old apartment. When he got home he peeled off his wet clothes and dried himself by the fire as best he could before putting on a fresh clean set and heading to the saloon.

Getting there he grabbed two beers and headed over to Shane. When the man tried to take one from Apollyon, he scolded him and quickly gulped down the first one before starting on his second one. Shane seemed to find this very amusing.

“What’s got you so worked up?” He asked with a slight smirk.

“The forced realization of my complete and utter insignificance in the world at large and reminding myself that no matter where I go or what I do I am just a complete piece of trash that should be buried in the Zuzu city dump.”

“… Shit, way to get real there all of a sudden. I’m too sober to talk about this.”

“Same.” As Apollyon quickly started on his second beer he noticed Abigail walked out from the arcade to grab a few drinks from Emily. He glanced over that way to see Sebastian and Sam near the pool table. It kind of looked like Sebastian was threatening the blond.

“Forget it.” Muttered Shane. “Those three hog the pool table every Friday night.”

“Huh, alright… Be back in a bit, don’t stumble home without me.”

“Yes mum.”

Apollyon chuckled and made his way over to Abigail. They’d met when he had gone to get some more seeds only to realize that the general store was closed on Wednesdays. Which sucked but everyone needed a day off at some point. Abigail was mildly disappointed that she couldn’t explore around the farm anymore, but she seemed to warm up to him a little when he gave her a dandelion.

Even though he was tired he still put on a smile and hoped it didn’t look too fake “Hey there Abby.”

She looked over at him and smiled. “Hey there yourself. What’s up?”

“Just seeing if you need any help with your drinks.”

She thought about it for a moment and handed him a tall glass of something. He hadn’t ordered this before. “You got Seb’s drink.” She walked back to her friends with Apollyon following. “Yo, one rum and Joja cola, more like Joja cola with a shot of rum, and a house cider for Seb.”

Apollyon handed Sebastian his drink. He seemed to hesitate for a little but took it anyway. He lightly touched Apollyon’s hand and frowned a little. “Your hand’s freezing.”

“I have very bad circulation in my hands and feet.” Said Apollyon as he looked down at the pool table. “So who’s winning?”

Sam groaned. “Sebastian, again…”

Apollyon chuckled a little and sat on the couch with Abigail and let the boys continue their game. After watching the two boys for a while he noticed that he was being watched himself by the purple haired girl next to him. “… Want a parsnip? They’ll be ready to harvest tomorrow.”

Abigail immediately pulled a disgusted face. “Ew, no. Never give me vegetables or I’ll shove it up your ass.”

“Fair enough.”

“Just wondering why you were practicing whale songs on the beach today.”

Now he just wanted to get up and leave. This was all just too embarrassing for him to have to explain. He was now really missing the city. He’d have to bend the truth just a little bit. “Ah, well you see I called my mum this morning and she wasn’t too happy with me moving back to Hellfire Farm. We have a bit of strained relationship.”

“Is she a bitch?”

He couldn’t help but laugh at that notion. “Quite the opposite, my mum is one of the nicest people around. She just… She’s into crystals and aura readings and spirit energy. Depending on who you ask she could be considered a medium, witch, or druid… I think I heard someone call her sorceress once. Anyway, the point is she’s always been able to read my aura and spirit energy. You know what she always sees? Black and negative energy.”

Abigail didn’t seem to know how to respond to that. “Um… That’s interesting?”

Apollyon shrugged. “I know it’s weird. But it can’t be helped really. Things just turned out the way they did… It’s kind of depressing that my mum’s only been able to see nothing but pain for me when she does my aura readings but it’s okay. I have a feeling she’s doing a little bit of projecting onto me or something like that. But I still love her. She pulled me into this world.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” She stirred her drink around with the straw and hummed a little to herself. “So, do you have a better relationship with your dad?”

“I only have a step-dad and to be honest… When it came to looking after me it was only just so I wouldn’t get taken away by child services.”

“… Rough.”

Apollyon chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, I tend to overshare when I have a fair bit to drink. I’m used to either drinking a whole bottle by myself and passing out or nursing a glass for a few hours… I should go home before I do something stupid, like revel my sex life.”

“… Boys or girls?”

He chuckled and lightly nudged her arm. “I don’t kiss and tell. I’m gonna see if Shane’s ready to head off.” He walked over to Sebastian and lightly tapped him on the shoulder. “Hey, about earlier today…”

“Forget about it.” Muttered the raven haired man.

Apollyon shook his head and reached into his pocket, taking out a sizable chunk of quartz. “Nah, I embarrassed myself like a dumbass. I mean really, you thought I was doing whale impersonations? Clearly I was speaking narwhal.” He turned the rock around in his hand a little, momentarily second guessing himself. “Anyway, I found this while I was breaking rocks on my farm the other day. Thought you might like it. I cleaned and shined it soooo later.” He put the stone on the pool table and wandered over to Shane.

Emily looked mildly relieved that Apollyon was walking back. “Hey there you are. I was wondering where you wandered off to.” She reached over the bar and gently shook Shane. “Come on big boy time for you to head home.”

Shane hardly complained as he pulled himself to his feet and followed Apollyon out. It wasn’t that big a deal to walk back to his place via Marine’s ranch once in a while. He recently found another path that lead from his farm right by Marine’s place, and it was kind of nice to walk by Cindersap forest at night.

“What were you talking to those guys about anyway?” Asked Shane.

Apollyon chuckled a little and shrugged. “Whale songs mostly. You getting jealous of me hanging around other people?”

“Piss off.” He shoved Apollyon and walked back into his own home.

Apollyon couldn’t help but laugh at that. He felt all over the place today with his emotions. One second he was happy and then he was sad. One of the drawbacks of not working in a soul sucking establishment like Joja. He was learning how to be human and have feelings again. It was scary in a good way.

He sighed a little and made his way back onto his farm. He was about halfway there when he heard a tiny screech followed by a furious flapping of wings. Apollyon looked up just in time to get his face side swiped by a very small angry bat. He quickly bolted back inside when the bat swooped him again and slammed the door right on its face. Now he had to worry about tiny flying bastards.

Chapter Text

All Apollyon did was go over to Emily’s place to give her an apricot as a thanks for being so cool towards him over the past few days, he had heard friends give each other random gifts from time to time. But somehow he ended up being used as a model while Emily draped fabric over his body and pinned it in place.

“Um… So what are you making?” He asked.

“Just seeing how this new pattern looks on a person,” she said as she grabbed a few more pins. “To be fair I would normally ask Haley to help me but this is meant to be for a man and well… I needed someone with a flat chest.”

“Fair enough.” Apollyon continued to stand still, not wanting to get stabbed by mistake.

“Yeah… do you have any sheep on your farm? I’d love to get some wool.”

“Unfortunately I don’t have any sheep at the moment. But I’ll keep you in mind once I get one.”

“Thanks Apollyon. You are the best.” She stood back and smiled at him, taking in the clothing design and deeming it to be suitable. “Nice.” Emily took a photo with Haley’s borrowed camera and started to remove the pattern. “So what are you up to today?”

“Um, I was thinking of checking out the mines…” Truth be told the thought of going to the mines terrified him. They were cold and dark and enclosed. He had nightmares about being in those kinds of places. That was when he could remember his nightmares.

He’d only gone up there to see if he could find any copper but instead found Marlon, leader of the Adventure’s guild. He gave him a sword and basically tasked him with slaying monsters in the caves. So now he had even more reason to fear the caves. Luckily he’d only come across slimes and monster bugs. But it was still horrifying to have a flying bug the size of a small dog dive bombing him with its pincers snapping like crazy.

Emily didn’t seem too happy that Apollyon was going into the mines. “That place is really dangerous. You shouldn’t go in there unless you really have to… But be safe. Okay? Pack lots of food and be smart about it all. Okay?”

“Yes mum.”

She grinned and poked his face. “I’m too young to be your mum silly. Drop by the saloon tonight so I know you haven’t died, if you’re heading up there now.”

“Don’t worry. I’m just going up there to get some copper then I am gone.” He reassured her. Once he was free of Emily’s shirt pattern, Apollyon made his way up the mountain to the mines.

He could feel his blood starting to run ice cold, if that was even possible. He was pretty sure his blood was made of ice water at this point. His skin was constantly cold after all. Cold. Cold. Always cold. Cold blooded? Yeah, he was cold blooded. He was a cold blooded killer. With all the murder and stabby stabby stab and what not. Okay he was pretty pathetic but he needed to hype himself up somehow.

He stood in front of the elevator and quickly made sure that he had enough torches to light his way in case things got too dark. Taking a deep breath he stepped into the elevator and went down into the depths. Truthfully he hadn’t even passed the first forty floors but he was doing his best darn it.

He got off on the thirtieth floor and descended the ladder. He was immediately plunged into darkness. Apollyon could feel his chest tighten with anxiety as he started throwing down torches like flares. This was the darkest part of the mines yet. It was so dark and scary. He needed to save up for a glow ring. The only thing that would keep him calm at this rate.

Apollyon frantically started smashing rocks in a desperate effort to try and find a new ladder to get down. He hoped that a lower level would be brighter and he wouldn’t have to rely on his torches so much. Eventually he found a ladder and quickly escaped down it. Unfortunately this ladder seemed to be covered in a thick layer of slime and he slipped, crashing down onto the thick, slimy ground.

He groaned and rubbed his forehead. The whole place was covered in thick green slime and the disturbing squelching sound of slimes echoed all around him. Somehow he had found some kind of slime breeding ground. Realising the danger he was in, Apollyon quickly got up and attempted to climb up the ladder, but a slime smashed him hard in the back of the head, sending his face through a rung on the slime rotted ladder.

“Fuck.” He groaned as he turned to face the smile, just in time for the sentient snot ball to leap forward and slam into his guts. He dropped his sword and fell to his knees. He was completely winded at this point. A second slime managed to gloop its way over and join the first slime in beating the hell out of Apollyon. Each hit was getting stronger. Each fall was getting harder to get up from. His vision was getting darker as he became closer and closer to losing consciousness.

The cracks were crumbling away.

***

It was about eight thirty according to Sebastian’s phone. Today had been another stressful day trying to fix some code for a client that just refused to get fixed. It didn’t help that his mum had come down and berated him for not going outside for a few days. It wasn’t his fault he was busy. He had things he needed to do if he was going to get enough gold to leave Pelican town for good.

As he finished his third cigarette of the day he checked to see how many he had left and if he needed to pick up a few more from Pierre’s shop later in the week. He might make it to Monday. By then he should have fixed the damn code. If not he’d have to get some more.

Nights out in the mountains were rather peaceful. The only sounds were that of nature and occasionally Linus moving around his tent. It was good for when he needed to clear his head. Suddenly his peaceful evening was interrupted by the sound of something heavy and metallic crashing against something else heavy and metallic in the mines.

It made him jump and stare at the entrance way from the other side of the river. He watched in morbid curiosity was a dark shambling shape trudged out. They slowly walked over the bridge and towards them. As they got closer Sebastian was surprised and very disturbed to see it was Apollyon. He looked awfuly; clothes torn, skin cut deeply in some places, blood was dripping from his hands, he was covered in thick slime and the whites of one of his eyes had turned red. He watched in fascination as the farmer shuffled forward a few more steps before dropping his pickaxe and almost falling over.

Sebastian approached the farmer, he didn’t want them to suddenly keel over and die right in front of him. That would be a mental scar he didn’t need. “Hey, are you okay?” He asked, but Apollyon didn’t seem to hear him. So Sebastian stood in front of him and begrudgingly put his hands on Apollyon’s slime covered shoulders. “Hey, listen to me. Are you okay?”

Apollyon looked at Sebastian with a dazed look in his eyes. There wasn’t any life in those eyes. It looked like he had some kind of brain injury by the way he was swaying. He opened his mouth a little and a tidal wave of blood gushed out onto Sebastian’s hoodie and pants before his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he passed out.

“Oh fuck!” Sebastian managed to grab hold of him and stopped Apollyon from hitting his head against the ground, but now he had a very, very injured and possibly dying man on his hands. “Oh fuck… What the fuck do I…? Shit I don’t need this today!” He held on tightly to him and dragged him back to his house, practically kicking in the front door as he did so. “MARU! MEDICAL EMERGENCY!”

Within seconds the whole family was in the front room gawking at the sight of a bloody and unconscious farmer in their front room. They probably would have been even more freaked out if they could actually see how much blood was on Sebastian’s clothes.

Maru quickly jumped in and started to perform first aid with the help of Robin while Demetrius went and called Doctor Harvey. All Sebastian could really do was stand back and watch. It wasn’t like he could really do anything anyway. His body wasn’t allowing him to do anything. His feet had planted themselves into the ground and refused to move. This whole situation was fucked up.

“Sebastian!” Snapped Maru.

“Huh? What?”

“What happened?”

“Oh um, they walked out of the mines and looked like that… They were really out of it and didn’t answer me when I called out to them and when I did manage to get in front of them they like spat up a mouthful of blood and passed out.”

She nodded a little. “Okay, probably a concussion… Maybe some internal bleeding… Mum, where’s the stretcher?”

“I’ll go get it.” Robin quickly got up and rushed out of the room.

Maru sighed a little and picked up Apollyon’s hand. “What on earth happened to you?” In the light Sebastian could easily see where most of the blood had come from; Apollyon’s nails had been ripped off. Some of them were still practically attached to his fingers, but only just. It almost looked like he’d been trying to claw himself out of something. It was horrific.

***

Apollyon blinked a few times, very surprised to see that he was looking up at the pristine white ceiling of the clinic and not the slime covered cavern he had passed out in. He felt kind of sluggish and drained. The door opened and good old doctor Harvey walked in. He looked rather shocked to see Apollyon awake, but surprise quickly replaced shock and he quickly moved to Apollyon’s side.

“Hey doc.” Muttered Apollyon. “How long was I out for?”

“Since last night. You’re lucky the worst you had was a minor concussion. Though you did lose a tooth and all of your fingernails. You also ruptured a blood vessel in your eye so your sclera is no longer white.”

“That explains why my fingers are all bandaged up then…” Apollyon sighed a little and pulled himself into a sitting position. “Anyway, I should get going. No point in hanging around here for much longer.”

Harvey put his hand on Apollyon’s shoulder and gave him a very concerned look. “Well be that as it may I um, I have a few questions to ask you concerning your medical history. It’s interesting to say the least and I was hoping you could correct me if this information is wrong.”

An exasperated sigh left him when he heard that. “Yeah… Well what do you want to know?”

“You had pica when you were younger?”

“I was five and ate anything that people put in front of me doc. I ate so many crayons and so much paper. I ate one of my mum’s candles and an incense stick once. Don’t do that anymore.” He remembered going to the hospital specifically because he ate an incense stick.

“You’ve also had multiple concussions over your teenage years.”

“I was an angry child that got into a lot of fights. In my defence they were assholes that needed to be taught a lesson.”

“You also got hit by a bus in your senior year in high school. But you only had a sprained wrist and road rash.”

Apollyon shrugged. “Yeah well, I guess I’m just lucky. So thanks for dragging my dumb ass down here Harvey. I appreciate it.”

“Oh, I didn’t bring you down here. Maru’s parents did.”

“Really?” Now he felt bad. They probably thought he was dying.

“Yeah, when Demetrius called he said that Sebastian saw you walk out of the mines and collapse right in front of him.”

“Oh…” Once again he had made an ass of himself right in front of Sebastian. “Well I should thank them for helping me out…”

“Maru’s working today, so she’s at the front desk… Are you sure you want to leave right now?” Asked Harvey. He still seemed very concerned. “I mean you can but maybe you should stay longer?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Apollyon got up and walked to the front desk.

Maru looked just as shocked as Harvey did to see that he was up and about. “Apollyon, are you okay?”

“Just a few scrapes and stuff, but I’m okay. Thanks for helping me.”

“Don’t thank me, you should be thanking Sebastian. If he wasn’t out smoking last night no one would have found you till morning. Things could have been really bad for you if he didn’t run into you… But you did puke a lot of blood and slime onto him.”

Apollyon laughed nervously. “So that’s why Harvey brought up the pica thing… What stuff does Sebastian like?” There was no way he was going to give Sebastian another lump of quartz. He probably thought he was a complete weirdo for doing that.

Maru thought for a moment. “Well, you should avoid the mines but he likes obsidian and this stone called a frozen tear… Maybe you should stick to something like pumpkin soup or sashimi? He also likes this thing called a void egg.”

“A void egg?” He didn’t realise people normal people liked those things. Void eggs held a level foreboding about them. In the old days it was thought that they were the eggs of void creatures like the shadow brutes or Squid kids. But people now knew they were just special black chicken eggs. They were still thought of as bad luck or inedible to most people.

“Yeah I know. Kind of weird… Just don’t go into the mines again, okay?”

Apollyon nodded a little and trudged back to his farm. He wanted to do something nice for the family that had helped him so much, and he wanted to do something extra special for Sebastian. He needed to be redeemed in his eyes. It was all because of small town politeness of course. Once he got to the farm and noticed had had a dozen or so parsnips and potatoes ready for harvest he developed an idea. He might not have a kitchen yet but he sure as hell could build a fire.

Around lunchtime Apollyon found himself walking towards Robin’s house carrying a pot of parsnip and potato soup. He swore the poor red head almost had a heart attack. She probably wasn’t expecting to see him so soon.

He ignored her shock and placed the pot on the countertop. “Parsnip and potato soup. Just a little something to say thank you for what you did for me last night.”

“Oh thank you… Would you mind if we take this to the kitchen?”

“Sure.” He picked up the pot and followed Robin to the kitchen, placing the pot on the table. “I’m really sorry about what happened last night. I just had a few cuts and stuff, and yeah, one of my eyes is going to be red for a while… and it’ll take a while for my nails to grow back, but I’m fine. Really.”

“If you’re sure…” She seemed a little wary. “So what happened exactly?”

“Um, I went into the mines and accidentally ended up in some kind of slime breeding ground and they belted the heck out of me.” He nervously shoved his hands into his pockets and looked down at the floor. “Um, anyway, is Sebastian home? I heard he’s the one that dragged my dumb ass here in the first place.”

“He’s in his room, down in the basement.”

“Okay thanks. Enjoy the soup.” He quickly made his way down to the basement, politely knocking on Sebastian’s door before opening it. “Hello?”

Sebastian looked over the top of his computer, surprised to see Apollyon up and about so soon. “You’re not dead. Good.”

“Yeah…” He walked over to Sebastian, unable to look him in the face. He felt so embarrassed. “Look, thanks for what you did. I just got the hell beaten out of me by some slimes and passed out… So here.” He took a pouch of gold from his pocket and placed it on the desk. “I asked Maru what stuff you like and since I don’t have a kitchen and can’t go back into the mines I thought maybe two thousand gold would be fine.” Sebastian stared blankly at the gold pouch so Apollyon continued to ramble. “And well, I thought since I apparently barfed a bunch of blood and slime onto you, you could like get some new clothes with it or something. I really owe you one. If you ever need anything just drop by the farm and ask.”

“… Thanks.”

Once again Apollyon felt like he had screwed up. It seemed as though he was fated to make terrible first, second, and third impressions with Sebastian. “Well… I guess I’ll see you around… Thanks again… Sorry for bothering you.” On his way out he couldn’t help but notice the quartz he’d given Sebastian the previous Friday being used as a paper weight. It made him smile a little to know that it hadn’t just been thrown out.

“… You’re not bothering me.”

Apollyon glanced over at the man who was still at his computer. “Hmm?”

“Look, when we first met you were weird, really freaking weird, but Abby and Sam seem to think you’re okay so whatever… And I thought the Quartz was a nice gift… And it wasn’t your fault a bunch of slimes beat the crap out of you.”

That alleviated some of the anxiety that was dwelling deep inside Apollyon’s chest. “Okay, I’ll let you get back to work.”

Sebastian nodded a little and went back to typing away on his computer. Feeling as though he had somewhat redeemed himself in Sebastian’s eyes, Apollyon left the house and trudged back down into the town. When he was about halfway down the mountain he realised that he didn’t go to the Saloon last night. Emily was going to kill him.

Chapter Text

Once again Apollyon found himself at Emily’s place. She was scolding him for being an idiot and getting completely wrecked down in the mines. All he could do was hang his head in shame and agree with her. He sat on her couch as she walked around him going off about the dangers of the caves.

“It’s so dangerous down there.” She scolded. “Do you have any idea how lucky you that you just… All of this-” Emily gestured to all of him. “-was the worst thing that happened to you. Don’t go into the mines again.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t…” That was a lie. He still needed copper and he heard Clint mentioning that there were more precious ores like iron, gold, and iridium deeper in these mines and a mine out in a place called Calico Desert. He just needed a better pickaxe and a stronger sword before he tried again.

Hearing him say that Emily calmed down somewhat and happily changed the subject. “Alright. Are you all ready for the flower dance?”

“The what?” Maybe the concussion and knocked that information out of his head, but he had no idea what that was.

Emily’s eyes seemed to sparkle as she spun around in a circle. “The flower dance is one of the best festivals in Pelican Town! Every year we go down to this large open field over the other side of the Cindersap Forest and we all get together and have this big dance! All the young people in town get all dressed up and dance to bring prosperity and fertility for the year!”

“… Um, prosperity and fertility? Kind of sounds like some pagan ritual.”

“That’s how it started off as.”

“… Oh.”

Emily chuckled and continued to move and sway, like she was dancing to some unheard tune. “It’s so much fun wearing long flowing dresses and dancing with a handsome man in a bow tie. Flower crowns are always fun to make too! You might get a chance to dance with someone too!”

“Doubt it. I can’t dance and I look like I kissed a shovel at the moment.” Apollyon ran his fingers through his hair and sighed a little. “Besides if suits have to pair up with dresses I don’t think I have one that fits me.”

Her eyes seemed to light up again. “Oh so you’re gay? Transgender?”

Apollyon shrugged. “I’d say I’m pansexual. But I personally prefer my partners with smaller chests and nice butts. Apart from that I don’t really mind what my partner identifies as. As long as we like each other I never really saw what the problem was.”

Emily nodded in agreement. “Too true. So do you like anyone in town?”

“Huh? Oh I haven’t really looked. Been a little too busy with farm stuff to be interested in that kind of stuff…” He’d just gotten enough money and materials together to build a silo and needed to figure out where he was going to put his coop and barn. Robin also told him he should get a windmill so he needed to think about that too. Then there was that orchid he wanted to put in. Pierre had so many different saplings he wanted to get his hands on so badly. Farming was hard.

Emily grinned and gave him a playful nudge. “Well there are a lot of young eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in Pelican Town.”

“Like who?”

“Let’s see…” Emily began to list people off on her fingers. “Penny, Maru, Leah, Abigail, Haley and of course me.”

“Really? You included yourself when you listed off all the girls that aren’t married? Why not include Marnie too?”

“You into older women?”

“Eh, she seems nice but I don’t think she’s my type.”

“Thought as much. Anyway so with guys that; Alex, Sam, Harvey, Shane, Elliot, and Sebastian.”

Apollyon felt dead inside at the mention of Sebastian. Every interaction he had so far with the raven haired individual had resulted in some kind of personal embarrassment. “Okay…”

Suddenly Haley stepped out of her room wearing her swimsuit and carrying a towel. “I’m heading down to the beach to tan for a while.”

Emily grinned. “Awesome. Your aura looks especially good today.”

Apollyon felt like someone had poured ice water over him. “You can see people’s auras?”

Haley groaned and rolled her eyes. “She’s into all that new age junk. Call me if you really need me back here.” She happily strolled out the door leaving Apollyon and Emily alone.

He was nervous now. In retrospect he felt dumb for not realising that all those crystals and weird music she listened to was not just because she felt like it, but had some kind of spiritual meaning behind it. Emily seemed to sense his unease and smiled softly at him.

“You’ve had your aura read before then?” She asked. “Heard someone say something nasty about it because it’s as black as night?”

“… Maybe.” He fidgeted nervously with the hem of his shirt. “I just… I don’t know how to change my aura or if it’s possible… People who tend to be more magically inclined tend to look upon me with disgust and avoid me. Why didn’t you?”

“Because you’re a good person.” She said in such a matter of fact tone it threw Apollyon for a loop. “Look, many people tend to radiate different kinds of auras and they all fluctuate all the time. Most people tend to stick to one main colour though.” Emily thought hard for a moment. “Hmm, take Haley for example. She usually has a gold aura. People with those kinds of auras tend to be the more artistic and beautiful people of the world, but sometimes it will get all kind of murky pink because she’s kind of immature. Today her aura is very golden.”

“… And what about black auras? What do people say about that?”

Emily thought for a moment. “Well black auras don’t actually exist.” She tilted her head to the side and tapped her fingers against her chin. “… You know, the more I look at you the more I think it’s actually just dark purple. Like really dark purple. Almost black but not.”

Apollyon fidgeted nervously. “So what does that mean?”

She leaned over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. “It means you’re a good person. Your aura might have just been dark because you closed yourself off from people. I am assuming.” Emily patted his back and walked off to the kitchen. “Well I should probably get back to getting that shirt all fixed up, and you should get back to farming. I’ll be at the saloon tonight if you want to talk.”

Apollyon thanked her and left her home. He was going to go and see Robin to check how much it was going to cost for him to have a silo built. As he passed the old run down community centre he couldn’t help but notice Lewis standing outside it looking rather dejected.

“… Something wrong Mr Mayor?”

Lewis sighed a little. “What an eyesore… This is the Pelican Town Community Centre, or what’s left of it. Once bustling with activity it’s now been left to rot… It’s shameful.” He walked up to the door and unlocked it. “You know, Joja has been hounding me to sell this to them so they can turn it into a warehouse.”

Apollyon thought he was going to have a heart attack. “What? Joja? Here? In Pelican Town?”

The older man gave him a very confused look and pointed to a large square building just off in the distance. “Did you not see the Jojamart? It’s been here for a few months now. Shane and Sam work there you know.”

“… My mind seems to have blocked out anything and everything Joja related unless it involved bad mouthing them.”

Lewis chuckled at that. “You’re a good kid Apollyon. I just… there’s just something stopping me from selling this old place… I guess old timers like me get attached to relics of the past… Ah well. If anyone else buys a Joja Co. Membership I’m just going to go ahead and sell it.”

“What? No way!” Apollyon was mortified. “I came here to be rid of all things Joja! That place sucks out your damn soul! I will never ever in a million years get a Joja Co. Membership!” Apollyon’s mind was set, he was going to rebuild the town centre with his own two hands if it meant Joja would have to crawl back to the vile pit it came from. He would need a lot of wood, untold amounts of hard wood, about a thousand stone, several bars of copper, iron, and gold, and a metric fuck-ton of gold.

While he was figuring out how to do this he almost didn’t notice Lewis walk into said Community Centre. Apollyon quickly followed him inside and looked around. The place was completely trashed; boarded up windows, holes in the walls, missing floorboards, water damage, and broken glass. He was going to need two metric fuck-tons of gold.

He notice off on the far left, next to the fireplace, there was a weird little hut just standing there. The Mayor noticed it too and frowned a little. “Huh, I guess Vincent and Jas must’ve been playing in here… This place is even more dilapidated than I remember…”

“Yeah, this place is in pretty bad sh- AH!” Just next to the hut a small green apple looking creature suddenly popped into existence. It waved its little stick arm enthusiastically at Apollyon before popping back out of existence.

Lewis frowned a little and quickly looked back over to the hut finding nothing there. “What’s the matter? Are you still a little out of it? Harvey did say you weren’t looking your best when you left the other day.”

“No I…” Apollyon walked over to the hut and looked behind it. The apple creature was gone. “I thought I saw something…”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this place was full of rats.” Suddenly the apple thing popped back into existence, seemingly to taunt Apollyon by doing a little dance before vanishing again seconds before Lewis could see it. He had a very concerned look on his face, probably because he saw Apollyon looking at something over his shoulder. “You’re worrying me, Apollyon.”

“… I think I should go and lie down for a bit.”

“That might be for the best… I think I’ll head home now. I need to get some lunch.” He took a few steps towards the door before turning around. “Hey, how about I keep this place unlocked from now on? Maybe you can catch that rat if you have some spare time?”

“Um… sure…” When the Mayor was gone Apollyon couldn’t help but feel a very strange and eerie presence looming over him. There was something not right and downright disturbing in the place. A small gust of wind through one of the building’s many holes blew some paper across the floor. An odd piece of golden parchment got caught on his foot and he picked it up. It seemed to be written in code or was just scribbles. He would have investigated the matter further but a feeling of impending dread was quickly taking him over. All he could see were cracks.

He raced outside as fast as he could, tripping and face planting on the grass. He was okay. The cracks weren’t real. He was okay. They weren’t real, those little apple bastards. He had just hit his head really hard and was in the middle of having an aneurism or a seizure. There was no way he just saw a Junimo, and there was no way the little fucker taunted him with a little dance. Apollyon quickly decided that today was over and promptly went home to sleep and forget about everything that just happened, but he was still going to rebuild the community centre.

The next day Apollyon started his morning by watching TV. The Queen of Sauce cooking show was playing so he spent a little time learning how to cook himself some tasty stir-fry. If only he had a kitchen to do so. Robin had told him that she could upgrade his house so he could have a proper kitchen and more living space, but it cost so much gold.

He lamented over the fact he was poorer than dirt as he tended to his farming duties of watering his parsnips, potatoes and beans. Some day he would have a kitchen and cook the best vegetable soup and make the best mashed potatoes. As he put his watering can away in his farming supply chest he noticed a bit of paper sticking out of his letter box.

Apollyon grabbed the letter, assuming it was from Harvey asking him to come in for a check-up or something but no. It was from a M. Rasmodius, Wizard. Somehow he knew that he had been poking around the community centre and wanted him to come to his tower in Cindersap Forest to talk about the rat problem. That wasn’t suspicious at all.

Mildly concerned for his safety, Apollyon decided to take his axe with him as he ventured down to the Wizard’s tower. He had spotted it before on his many trips down to the forest to search for wild flowers and vegetables to sell but never bothered to go up to it.

Entering the tower, Apollyon was greeted by a bearded man with wild purple hair wearing a black robe and hat. He seemed to be standing over some kind of summoning circle in front of his fire place chanting something quietly to himself.

Once Apollyon closed the door the Wizard stopped chanting and looked up at him. “Ah… Come in.” He walked over to Apollyon and bowed with a flourish. “I am Rasmodius… Seeker of the arcane truths. Mediary between physical and ethereal. Master of the seven elementals. Keeper of the sacred cha- … you get the point.”

“Um yeah. I’m Apollyon. Farmer of vegetables.”

“Ah yes Apollyon. The one whose arrival I have long foreseen… Though I must ask you to forgive me for what I am about to do, but I must protect the valley.”

Before Apollyon could react the Wizard waved his arm in front of him and muttered an incantation. The moment the last sound left his lips it felt like stakes were being driven through his body as he was forcibly pinned to the ground. Through the shock Apollyon let out a pained whimper. It felt like sharpened stakes had been driven through most of the joints in his arms and legs.

“W-why?”

The Wizard sighed a little, looking almost annoyed at this point. “I was really hoping for a different outcome. I was hoping you weren’t… But I guess that really doesn’t matter. You being this… This thing explains the sudden behaviour displayed by the Junimos. I will make this quick.”

“W-why? What did I do?” Apollyon was panicking. Was the Wizard going to kill him? He didn’t understand what was happening to him.

He raised his hand and started to utter another incantation when suddenly the same green Junimo popped into existence between Apollyon and the Wizard. It raised its little stick arms up and started to dance around making a series of high pitched sounds that sounded rather panicked in nature.

The little creatures supposed pleas seemed to quell the Wizard’s need to end Apollyon. “Are you sure Green?” He asked.

The Junimo known as Green bounced up and down a few times and hopped around on one leg. It shimmied and shook around making a few more frantic sounds.

“… Well if you must. The ramifications if things end up poorly due to your decisions falls completely on you and the rest of your kind.” He waved his hand and Apollyon was able to move again.

With his newly acquired freedom Apollyon crawled backwards as fast as he could till his back hit the wall. “What the hell?! Keep that apple bastard away from me!”

Green didn’t seem very happy to be called an apple bastard and made several gestures that looked like they were scolding him. The Wizard seemed mildly amused by this.

“I am sorry about that but please try to understand, I know who and what you are. I know the destruction you can potentially bring to the valley and I simply cannot allow it.” He looked down at Green and frowned. “However, this Junimo has informed me that you are under their protection, somewhat. You have no reason to fear them.”

Apollyon felt like he was going to die right then and there. “Um if you know that stuff about me you should know damn well I should be fearing these apple bastards. We are not going to get along. Also, you just tried to kill me.” He attempted to shoo Green away but Green appeared to just place its stick arms where its hips might be and started to berate him again.

“Green said that you found the golden scroll they left for you.”

“I couldn’t read it… I left it in the community centre.”

“… I will be back.” Within the blink of an eye the Wizard vanished, and within a second blink he was walking through the front door, startling both Apollyon and Green. “The language was obscure but I deciphered it; We, the Junimo, are happy to aid you. In return, we ask for gifts of the valley. If you are one with the forest then you will see the true nature of this scroll.”

“… Alright then.” Apollyon slowly got to his feet and tried to edge himself towards the door. “Well I couldn’t read it so I guess I’m not one with the forest. I’ll be seeing you guys later.”

Green squealed and ran to stand between Apollyon and the door. They didn’t seem to want to let Apollyon leave.

The Wizard sighed a little and shook his head. “Apollyon, despite your… you. The Junimo seem to think that you are their chosen hero. They are not ones to change their minds once they have made a decision… Please come here.” He almost forcibly lead Apollyon over towards a bubbling cauldron in the corner of his home. He put some of the liquid into a cup and held it to Apollyon. “My cauldron is bubbling with ingredients from the forest. Baby fern, moss grub, caramel-top toadstool… Drink up and let the essence of the forest permeate your body.”

“Hey, I haven’t agreed to anything here Wizard and apple bastard.” Snapped Apollyon. “You just tried to kill me and that apple… I’m not a hero. I never have been and I never will be. I’m just some messed up guy. Look at me! Even before I got beaten up by slimes I was still messed up.”

Green danced around Apollyon’s legs and made frustrated sounds. The Wizard also seemed annoyed. “Look, I do not like this anymore than you do but the spirits have chosen you so drink up. Don’t make me force you.”

Apollyon sighed a little and shook his head. He didn’t want to do this but if it meant he could get the hell out of there the better. He quickly downed the putrid potion, gaging in the process. Seconds later his vision went all green and he started to see leaves and trees dancing before his eyes. This was the weirdest drug tip he had been on in a while.

When his drug trip worse off Apollyon found he was lying on the ground outside the Wizard’s tower with his axe embedded into the ground next to him. This was not how he expected today to turn out. He was apparently the chosen hero of the Junimo and almost got murdered. He decided the only sensible thing to do in this situation was obvious. He was going to ignore it. He grabbed his axe and headed back to his farm.

When he got there he was surprised to see Marnie holding something that looked a lot like a plucked chicken. “What the heck?”

***

The gold pouch had not moved from its place on Sebastian’s desk since Apollyon had placed it there. He wasn’t really sure how he felt about it. Sure it was technically a repayment for ruining his clothes, but it felt weird somehow. It wasn’t his fault he’d coughed so much blood onto him. He hoped the farmer was doing okay now and not getting into trouble.

Sebastian sighed a little and finished up his work. He had a relatively easy job today and nothing else really lined up for the rest of the week. Checking the time Sebastian decided it was about time to venture out and find some food for himself.

His mum happened to see him walk into the hallway from her desk. “Sebby! Can I ask you a favour?”

This never turned out well for him, but he put on a smile, no matter how fake, for her. “Yeah mum?”

“Can you take the pot in the kitchen back to the farmer?”

Ah yes, the farmer had brought over some soup to thank them all for taking him to the doctors. They had it for dinner that night. It was kind of watery but good. However Sebastian didn’t feel like going that far outside today, or any day for that matter. “Um…”

“Just take the shortcut love.” Said Robin. “You’ll be there and back before you know it.”

“… Okay.” He didn’t really want to go all the way down to the farm but it was hard to say no to his mum. Sebastian grabbed the pot from the kitchen and used the shortcut to get to the farm. It was around midday so he’d just stop by the saloon and grab something from Gus to eat. He wasn’t overly hungry at the moment. He could wait.

As he passed the threshold of the farm Sebastian was surprised to see it didn’t look nearly as over grown as he remembered. Though to be fair the last time he had ventured out here was when Abby had declared that she was going monster hunting and taking him and Sam with her. That night ended with a lot of scrapes and bug bites.

“Meow.”

Sebastian jumped a little and almost dropped the pot when a thing pretending to be a cat marched in front of him. It was some ugly, hairless, wrinkly blue eyed thing. It continued to glare at him as Sebastian tried to figure out if it was going to murder him or not.

Suddenly Apollyon walked out from around his house shaking a container of cat food. “Goblin! Goblin! Din din’s Goblin!”

The cat known as Goblin quickly raced over to Apollyon and climbed up his leg. “Meow!”

“Claws! Ow! Ow! Ow! Hi Sebastian. Ow! I see you met Goblin.” He pried the hairless beast off his leg and walked back into his house. “Come on in.”

Sebastian very reluctantly followed Apollyon into his home, kind of surprised to see it was just one room with a table, chair, TV, and bed. He watched as Apollyon poured some food into Goblin’s food bowl by the fire place.

“Goblin is a good girl, she just has a tendency to climb everything. I ordered some cat shirts online so she doesn’t get sunburnt or cold in winter.” He gave the cat a few more pats before giving Sebastian his full attention. “So what can I do for you?”

Sebastian held the pot out. “Just returning this…”

“Ah, thanks.” Apollyon took it back and smiled brightly. “I only had like a day’s worth left of drinkable water left.”

“Huh?”

“I don’t have running water yet so I take water from ponds on my property and boil it before drinking it.” He put the pot on the table. “… Do you want something to eat or drink?”

“Nah, I’m good… Where did you get Goblin anyway?”

Apollyon looked down at his cat, smiling fondly. “Oh, Marnie came by after I went for a foraging trip by the Wizard tower… Anyway, I came back home and Marine said that this poor girl was all lost and wandering around my place so I adopted her. Good old Goblin cat.”

“Meow.”

“Yes, you are a goblin.”

Goblin jumped up onto the bed and curled up on his pillow. She flicked her tail as she watched the two men from her vantage point. “Meow.”

“You’re also a loud goblin.”

Sebastian felt like he had filled his social interaction quota for the day and took a step towards the door. “Yeah well, I’ll see you later then.”

“Oh, okay then… Oh! Are you going to the flower dance?”

Sebastian groaned. “I had forgotten that was coming up. I don’t want to be outside and do some stupid dance…”

Apollyon laughed a little. “Ah, well I’m sure it’ll still be a good time. See you there.”

“Yeah…” Sebastian quickly left Hellfire farm. The farmer sure was a strange guy.

Chapter Text

Ever since Apollyon had gone to the Wizard’s tower he had been seeing more and more Junimo’s popping up around his farm trying to get his attention. This mainly seemed to be because Goblin had decided to try and chase and eat the apple bastards whenever they showed up. Apparently animals could clearly see spirits.

Apollyon was still damn sure one of them was going to suddenly jump up and knife him in the back if he wasn’t careful, but he was slowly getting used to them being around him. Every time he had a plant to harvest one or two of them would dance around it and try to herd him towards the community center once he had harvested it.

Out of curiosity he had once gone up with a bunch of wild crops he had foraged. Holding them out to the golden scroll they vanished from his hand and once he filled in the Spring foraging bundle a pack of thirty Spring seeds appeared in his hands like magic. He did the same with a Spring crops bundle and got twenty packets of Speed-Gro fertilizer.

After that the Junimo’s appeared less around his crops. If Apollyon had to hazard a guess he could only assume that the apple bastards were just trying to show him what to do. Give them stuff and they would return the favour.

“MEOW!” Apollyon sat up in his bed to see Goblin chasing after a Junimo he had dubbed Blue, because well it was blue. He hoped that Goblin would continue to watch over him and chase the Junimo’s away.

He stretched and scratched his head as he watched Blue escape out the door with Goblin in hot pursuit. Apollyon really needed to lock his doors. He pulled on his clothes and walked outside. Today was the day of the flower dance. After he quickly watered his plants and chased away a few Jumino with his scythe he made is way down to the field near Cindersap Forest.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying their time talking with each other and getting all kind of food and drink from the table, which he could only assume Gus had provided. He immediately spotted Emily showing off her dress to Caroline. A white dress with several dozen embroidered flowers placed here and there.

“So I guess it’s tradition for you to wear this kind of stuff?” Asked Apollyon.

Emily grinned and did a little twirl for him. “Yep. All the girls wear these kinds of dresses, see?” She gestured over towards several other of the girls wearing white dresses and several of the guys wearing blue suits. Apollyon couldn’t help but let a very undignified snort escape his mouth when he saw Sam and Sebastian wearing suits. They looked so strange it was laughable.

Caroline smiled happily at him. “Are you going to dance this year Apollyon?”

Apollyon shrugged and looked over at Emily. “Shall we dance my lady?” He didn’t expect her to say yes, but he wouldn’t object to it either.

“Ah, sorry but I already promised to dance with Shane. Maybe next year?”

“That’s cool. I’m gonna go and see if Pam spiked the punch yet. Enjoy the dance.”

“You too. Oh by the way, your aura’s especially bright today. Very purple.”

That made Apollyon smile a little. “Thanks Emily.” He made his way to the far side of the snack table, grabbing himself a little cupcake thing with a flower on it and sat near a patch of wildflowers. Everyone seemed like they were having a good time. To busy himself, Apollyon picked a few flowers and started to make a flower crown.

Suddenly Jas and Vincent ran over to him. “Hey! What happened to your eye?” Asked Vincent. “It’s all red and bloody.”

“Don’t be rude.” Said Jas. “You can’t just ask someone questions like that.”

Apollyon chuckled a little. “It’s okay. I got into a really bad fight with some slimes. They hurt me a lot but Doc Harvey helped to patch me up, and I helped protect the town from evil slimes, so that’s worth it.”

“You shouldn’t hurt yourself.” Said Jas sternly. “If you hurt yourself then you can’t help anyone. Aunt Marnie gave you a cat the other day, right?”

“You know about Goblin?”

Jas looked shocked. “You named her Goblin?”

“I was going to call her Goblin Trash Cat the third, but that was a mouthful.”

“I wanna see the goblin trash cat!” Said Vincent enthusiastically.

Apollyon chuckled and put a flower crown on his head. “Maybe some other time. Goblin’s still getting used to her new home. You want a flower crown too Jas?” She nodded a little and Apollyon started on her crown.

***

Sebastian hated his suit. It was hot and itchy and freaking blue. It just felt weird and wrong not to wear black, but it was tradition for some reason so he had to. At least Sam and Abby were both just as uncomfortable as he was in their respected forced attire.

Abigail groaned in annoyance as she adjusted her dress for the fourth or fifth time in as little as ten minutes. “I should have ditched this stupid thing. Should have but I didn’t. This freaking blows.”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Yeah, but hey at least I don’t have to wear a dress.”

She glared at him. “Samson there is very little stopping me from pulling this dress off and shoving you in it.”

“Well that would make this whole thing more exciting wouldn’t it?”

Abby rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “Screw this. You guys want to come over to my place and play video games after this or are you two going to go over to Seb’s place and jerk each other off?”

The boys blushed and looked anywhere but Abby. Smoking too much weed for the first time in their younger teenage years had led to some very interesting results that opened new doors for them. They also made a pact to never ever speak of that again or face the consequences. Consequences that no one really knew about but didn’t want to potentially invoke.

Suddenly Vincent ran over to Sam with Jas quickly following him. “Hey! Look at my crown!”

Sam smiled a little, seemingly forgetting what happened moments ago. “That’s pretty cool. Did Penny make that for you?”

The young boy shook his head. “The farmer made it for me. He made one for Jas too!” He pointed over to Apollyon. He was still sitting by the wildflowers and making more flower crowns and eating a cupcake. “Hey Sam? Now that I have a crown does that mean I can be the flower queen?”

The blond chuckled a little. “Sure. Why not? How about you go and show mum and Penny?”

The two children giggled and ran off. Sebastian wondered if he ever had that much energy when he was younger. He didn’t think so. He was still kind of a shut in even when he was younger. As he reminisced about the past he hardly noticed when Abby waved over Apollyon.

“Hey, farmer boy.” She said with a grin. “You enjoying yourself there, making flower crowns?”

Apollyon nodded. “Yep. I think I missed my true calling as a flower crown maker. I think I’ll give up being a farmer and do that.”

“You gonna dance with anyone this year?” Asked Sam.

The farmer shook his head and sighed sadly. “Nah. Just gonna pretend like I’m back in high school and sit on the sidelines. Be a wallflower.”

Abby nodded in agreement. “Yeah, dances suck. Everyone always running around trying to find dates and stuff. Being labeled a loser if you didn’t get a date.”

Apollyon chuckled a little at that. “Ah well, I never stuck around in a school long enough for that to happen. I think the longest I stayed in one school was like three months.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Get kicked out a lot?”

“Nah, my mum and I used to move around a lot because her and my step dad…” He frowned at the mention of the man. “But it was whatever. I missed out on most of the bullying crap one might usually have to deal with. Did make getting a girlfriend kind of difficult but that was neither here nor there really.”

Abby sighed a little. “Yoba I wish that was me… Taking the bus to Stardew Valley high two towns away was nightmare… I just wanted to step in front of the bus each day just to avoid all that mess. You know what? Screw it. You’ve never been to a dance thing, right Apollyon?”

“Um well I have I just never dance with som-”

“Then it’s settled. You can take my place.” She lightly shoved Apollyon towards Sebastian. “Meet your new dance partner.”

Sebastian stumbled back a little, not expecting to have to catch the farmer. He blushed at the thought of dancing with another guy in front of the whole town. In such a small town like Pelican town if he, the town basement dweller, danced with another man at the flower dance festival it would be just as good as yelling through a megaphone that he was gay, and while he was comfortable with his own sexuality the only ones that he had admitted it to were Abby and Sam.

Before he could say anything Apollyon piped up. “Ah, sorry but I don’t actually intend to dance today… Looks like it’s a formal suit event and I kind of just came in my day to day clothes. Maybe next year?”

Abby pouted. “No way. If you need formal clothes just follow me into the forest back there and we’ll change clothes.”

Sam snickered. “Do you just want to get out of that dress?”

“I demand pants!”

Apollyon laughed a little and for a brief moment Sebastian had a chance to look at him, like actually look at him without him being drenched or all bloodied up. In the sun Apollyon’s complexion was slightly grey and he had slight bags under his eyes. He probably wasn’t sleeping well, but then again he couldn’t talk. His sleep schedule was completely broken at best. His eyes seemed to be a little glazed over as he talked to Abby and Sam. It was kind of like he was tuning out and not really paying attention to what was being said to him.

“Alright folks!” Called Lewis. “The dance is about to start! If you have a partner go find them and get ready to dance!”

Sam sighed a little. “Well, I better go find Penny. See you two on the dance floor.”

Abby pouted and looked at Apollyon with pleading eyes. “Take my place?”

He shook his head and stepped aside. “Sorry Abs, but like I said, I’m not gonna dance. Wouldn’t want to cause a fuss being the only guy dancing with another guy. People might think Sebastian’s gay.”

Abby rolled her eyes. “And wouldn’t that be a tragedy.” She linked arms with Sebastian and sighed dramatically. “Come on. Time to keep up appearances. Step on my feet and I’m going to punch you in the dick.”

“Um yeah.” He walked to where everyone else had gathered for the flower dance. The music started and he and the rest of the attendees engaged in what could only be called white people dancing. It was just some bobbing and swaying. Nothing really spectacular. Internally, Sebastian felt like he was dying of both embarrassment and the heat, and even more so when he realized that Apollyon was watching them. Now reasonably he knew that the farmer wasn’t actually looking at him, he was just looking around at everyone dancing.

Before he knew it the song was over and everyone could leave. There was nothing he wanted more to do than get out of this stupid suit and go back to his basement. He glanced over to where Apollyon had been standing moments before only to see that he was gone. He didn’t know how he felt about that development.

Robin went over to him and Abby, clapping her hands. “You two looked good out there today.”

Abby strained a smile and curtsied. “Why thank you. I was sure Sebastian was going to stand on my foot again.”

“Zip it Abby.” Sebastian quickly scanned the crowd, very surprised to see that the Farmer was gone. Perhaps they had decided that the festival wasn’t them and left? Unlikely, but maybe.

His wandering eyes were easily noticed by Abby. “Who you looking for? Sam? He’s still hanging out with Penny.”

“Oh um yeah…” He muttered.

Abby frowned a little and quickly looked around. “Farmer’s missing… Were you looking for the Farmer?”

“Was not.”

Robin chuckled and gave Sebastian a knowing look. “Apollyon took off about halfway through the dance. He headed off in that direction.” She gestured to the forest area behind the snack table. “I’m sure he’ll be back soon.”

Abby shrugged. “Probably drank too much punch and needed to take a leak.”

“Probably…”

***

Apollyon had been rather amused by the silly dance that the villagers had put on. It made him laugh to think he had always felt like he was missing out on something in high school. At least while they were all dancing it left the snack table wide open for the taking. He had reached to grab the last cupcake when a damn yellow Junimo suddenly raced across the table, grabbed it and ran away.

Without really thinking Apollyon grabbed a tree branch and ran after the little yellow bastard. That was his damn cupcake and he sure as hell wasn’t going to let one of those tiny bastards take it from him.

He followed the small creature to a tiny clearing in the forest where several Jumimos were dancing around in a circle and singing in their own language. Apollyon was starting to think that was all these things could do; dance and sing. He felt uneasy watching them do their thing, but he didn’t have an overwhelming sense of dread like he probably should have. He didn’t really feel much of anything.

“Enjoying the festival?”

Apollyon jumped and almost hit the Wizard in the face with his tree branch. “Don’t do that! The hell are you doing here?”

The Wizard gestured to the Junimos who were still dancing without a care. “It’s the flower dance festival. Did you think it was just something that the people of Pelican Town did?”

“… Yes?”

“Of course you did.” The Wizard chuckled in amusement at a private joke. “You know, in ancient times only the Junimos danced and that was to bring fertility and good luck to the land. If you observe their motions you’d realize that it’s very similar to the way the residence danced today.”

Apollyon stared at the Junimos and sighed sadly. “I can’t believe it… Junimos are white people dancing… They dancing for anything specific this year?”

The Wizard raised an eyebrow. “You can’t guess? The Junimos are dancing for you. They want their hero to succeed and rebuild the community center. They also want Hellfire farm to flourish and for you to build good relationships with everyone in town… also something about finding a partner I believe? Some of their words are very similar to each other.”

Apollyon could feel heat rising on his face at the mention of finding a partner. “Considering what I am I doubt that anyone in this town would want anything to do with me in that way…” He started to feel depressed again. “They would be better off asking for my swift and sudden death after I finish the community bundles. Someone like me I just… The Junimo know what I am right? They aren’t stupid, right?”

“Um… the jury is still out on their intelligence.” The Wizard stroked his beard, attempting to look more important than he actually was. “Regardless, I um… I wished to apologies for my actions when we first met. I must say you handled yourself rather well. Most people would run away screaming after being released from that kind of spell.”

“Yeah well, considering the shit I’ve been through you didn’t actually come close to killing me.” He didn’t even need to look at the Wizard to know he was watching him closely, just waiting for him to elaborate. “… Being who I am and considering there are a fair few people more magically attuned than most would believe my mere existence is as unforgivable…” A nervous laugh escaped his lips. “Can you imagine that? Brought into this world without your consent and immediately labeled as an unforgivable monster?”

The Junimos continued to dance as the Junimo that stole the cupcake, Yellow, started walking around the dancing Junimos. They grabbed bits of icing and cake as it passed and stuck it into themselves. They didn’t seem to have mouths that Apollyon could actually see, but he really hopped they had mouths and were shoving said cupcake into their mouth holes.

“… One people’s monster is another’s hero.” The Wizard stroked his beard again. “Perhaps you’re just too used to hearing about all the bad things and none of the good things?”

“… Says the guy that would have smashed my skull in if an apple bastard didn’t tell you to step the fuck down?”

The purple haired man became flustered. “Yes well that was an honest mistake. You can’t blame me for jumping to those conclusions… Anyway, your farm has a very interesting energy around it. Have you encountered any monsters?”

“I nearly shat myself with a stone golem decided to jump up while walking home from the saloon the other day… and bats. So many bats…”

The Wizard nodded knowingly. “I see… Well it’s only natural with your reappearance. Do what you can and stay safe. Don’t make the Junimos regret choosing you as their hero. You should run along back to the dance, it should be wrapping up soon.” And with that the wizard vanished with a twirl of his wrist.

Apollyon jumped a little at the sudden movement and then back to the Junimos. Some of them were smiling up at him and waving as they danced around. They were happy to see him. They were happy he was here and it hurt.

“… You’re all wrong.” He muttered to them. “I’m going to fuck this up for you and you’re going to hate me. Next year you’ll be dancing for my death.” He stormed back to the Dance, hoping that he didn’t miss the end of it and would just be able blend back in with everyone else.

However that wasn’t going to happen as the dance seemed to be over and everyone seemed to be packing up. Sam looked like he had been forced by Jodi to help Gus clean up the snack table.

“Hey man, wondered where you ran off to.” Said Sam with a grin, but that quickly worse off when he saw the state he was in. “You okay man?”

Apollyon chewed his bottom lip as he tried to come up with a reasonable explanation as to why he looked the way he did. “… A squirrel took the last cupcake when I already claimed it!”

Gus chuckled a little and shook his head. “Well those are squirrels for you. Ah, well can’t really be helped can it?”

Apollyon pouted. “Squirrels are evil… So where did Abby and Sebastian run off to? Gone to make out or something?”

Sam snorted at that notion. “No way. Abby bolted out of here the second the dance was over to get out of that dress, and I think Sebastian was melting in his suit. He’s probably gone home, if he hasn’t passed out on the way up.”

“Huh, alright… I should probably head home too… I have to go and feed Goblin.”

“Goblin?”

“Yeah, she’s my hairless cat. She’s an angry little Goblin.”

“Cool… Hey, how about you bring her over to my house around the afternoon sometime?” Vincent would love to see a freaky looking cat.”

Apollyon thought for a moment. “Sure, why not? How’s Saturday for you?”

“Perfect.”

Apollyon grinned and grabbed a mini quiche for the road, but his smile quickly faltered when he was alone. The Junimo’s were crazy. He wasn’t a hero. If those apple bastards were trying to get favours from Yoba he wasn’t going to answer them. He’d be more likely to take their request and find some way to turn it into a curse. Yoba wasn’t dumb like the Junimos. Yoba knew he deserved nothing and would get nothing.

Chapter Text

Dizzy and disorientated, that’s how Apollyon felt. He was being taken somewhere by two adults holding his hands. They were taking him down some long, dark corridor to a secret place. Looking up at their faces he realized they were wearing white masks and blue robes. He too was wearing a robe, but had no idea how or why he was wearing it.

The two people took him into a room with similarly dressed people in robes and masks. They all stared at him and parted ways to revel a table and a bucket. Apollyon didn’t know why he didn’t protest when the two people holding his hands lifted him and tied him to the table. His head hung over one edge over the bucket.

The masked people started chanting something in some strange language. Apollyon didn’t really know what to make of it till he saw someone tale out a sharp knife Something like in this situation, there was no mistake.

Someone grabbed his hair and pulled his head back making sure his neck was completely exposed. The chanting was becoming more and more erratic as it was building up to some kind of crescendo. The knife slashed through the air. It felt like fine hail running across his skin.

***

Apollyon woke up the next day, his face slightly damp with tears and Goblin was staring down at him with one paw raised. It looked like she was back to slap him and wake him up. But when she saw he was awake she put her paw down and walked over to bowl. Apollyon went about his daily chores tending to his farm which took all morning. The thoughts of his dream still strong in his mind.

It wasn’t unusual for Apollyon to have dreams about his childhood. That particular memory he was pretty sure he had combined with a scary movie he shouldn’t have been watching when he was so young. Sometimes the dream would continue if he was in a really deep sleep and couldn’t wake up, but mostly it ended with his throat getting slit. That dream was the worst.

Around midday he picked up Goblin and wrapped her up in a blanket before making his was to Sam’s house. Goblin didn’t seem too happy to be made into a purrito but she took in her stride and only meowed at him three or four times on the way there. When he eventually got there Jodi seemed very surprised to see him.

“Oh Apollyon. What do I owe the pleasure?”

“Sam said I should come by and bring Goblin.” He gently patted Goblin’s head. “She’s a good girl and loves fish. Sam said Vincent might like to see her.”

She nodded a little and let him in. “Well Vincent is out playing with Jas at the moment, but he’ll probably be home soon. Sam’s in his room. Just go on in.”

Apollyon thanked her and walked into Sam’s room. He was sitting on his bed tuning his guitar. “Hey Sam. I brought Goblin.”

“Cool.” He looked up and actually saw Goblin. “… You sure that’s a cat?”

“Honestly? No.” He let Goblin go and she explored the room, sniffing things and jumping onto chairs.

When she got close to Sam he strummed his guitar a few times making Goblin jump. “Think she likes music?”

“Don’t know. Never really tried.”

He watched Goblin cautiously sit by Sam, watching the blond strum the guitar. She attempted to strum a string every now and then but she backed out every time. Just that little bit too afraid to actually do it. This amused both men quite a lot.

Sam patted her, chuckling a little at the way his hand moved her loose skin into a mash of wrinkles before snapping back. “You play anything?”

“I used to have a mbira, but I think it got smashed.” Seeing the confusion on his face Apollyon clarified. “Thumb piano. It’s an African instrument. You flick these metal teeth on it with your thumb.”

“Cool.” He strummed his guitar a few more times, watching Goblin follow his hand curiously. “So what do you think of Pelican Town?”

“I really like it. Everyone is nice and apart from a few annoyances, I’ve had a good time.” He looked around Sam’s room noticing the synth and the drum set. “A man of many musical talents I see.”

“Yeah. Sebastian plays the synth. He’s pretty good at it too.” Sam gave Goblin a few more pats. “Wanna stay for practice? We do some cover songs to warm up. Name something and we’ll give it a go.”

“Um… Nah. My taste in music is pretty awful. Wouldn’t want you to judge me mister music.” Apollyon’s musical tastes involved an extremely large variety of music with very explicit lyrics. Something he was pretty sure he was going to get judged for.

“Your taste can’t be that bad.”

Goblin looked up at Sam. “Meow.”

“She is warning you of my horrible music.” Said Apollyon. “She knows how awful I am and doesn’t want your ear drums to bleed. Trust her.” He picked up Goblin and put on a silly voice as he waved her arms around. “His taste in music is hecking bad. My screams for food are better than his music. He is a terrible bean.”

Sam laughed and gave Goblin a few pats. She didn’t seem very amused but accepted it anyway. “Alright Goblin. I won’t ask.” He looked over at the door, frowning a little. “Sebastian should be here soon. Bet he’d just love to meet you Goblin.”

Apollyon waved Goblin’s arms around some more. “Oh I met him already. He was holding the water pot and stared at me. He didn’t try to take my food so he’s alright.”

The door to Sam’s room opened up and Vincent quickly ran in followed by Sebastian. “Where’s the cat? Mum said you brought your cat.”

Apollyon chuckled and held her out for Vincent to pat. “Here she is. Goblin Trash Cat the Third. Careful, I don’t know how she’ll act around small children.”

Vincent stared at Goblin for a bit and gave her a few pats. “She’s all wrinkly and weird. I like her.”

Goblin made a noise and slinked over to Sam’s bookshelf, quickly climbing up and perching on the top. “Ah, I think Goblin is done meeting people now…”

“Awwww, I wanted to pat her some more.”

Sam chuckled a little. “Don’t you have homework to do?”

Vincent made an exasperated sound and marched out of the room, presumably to go and do his homework. Sam grinned and closed the door. “Siblings, am I right?” Sebastian made a grunt that sounded like he was agreeing with him, but Apollyon just had to shrug at the comment. He was an only child after all.

“So why are you here?” Asked Sebastian, obviously directing his comment to Apollyon.

“Cat.”

Sebastian glanced up at Goblin and frowned. It almost looked like she was frowning right back at him. “I see… So that’s it?”

“I was also promised sick beats.” Said Apollyon.

Sebastian sighed a little as he walked over to the synth. “We aren’t that good… We need to practice more before we play in front of anyone. We’ll just embarrass ourselves.”

Sam brushed off his concerns. “Rubbish. We need the practice. Besides, Apollyon’s cool and Goblin likes music… Maybe we should call our band the Trash Goblins?”

“Were not naming the band after that testical.” Said Sebastian sternly. “I refuse.”

Sam laughed a little. “Okay fine. We’ll think of a better name later. Let’s start playing something.”

Contrary to what Sebastian said about them, Apollyon thought they actually sounded pretty good. They needed a drum beat in there eventually, but they were good. Even Goblin thought so. She jumped down from her observation point to enjoy the music. That and try to attack Sebastian’s shoe laces. It was all rather amusing, even if Sebastian attempted to push her away a few times.

After a while the boys called it quits, but that was just because Sam’s stomach started to rumble. “… So anyone want food? I have microwave pizzas and Joja cola.”

Sebastian cringed. “Make that a water and I’ll take it.”

“Same here.” Said Apollyon. “I’m not a fan of Joja cola, but it is a fantastic drain cleaner.”

Sam rolled his eyes and left Sebastian and Apollyon. This was kind of awkward. The only times the two of them had been alone so far was when Apollyon was either embarrassing himself or when he was apologizing for being embarrassing. He really hoped that Sam would be back with the Pizza soon.

***

Sebastian really hated Sam at this moment. He had said several times to him via text that he thought he was weird, but Sam insisted that there was something there. Even Abby had gotten in on the action and started to speculate about the farmer’s sexuality. Abby’s biggest piece of evidence had been the farmer caring about what people would think of Sebastian if the two of them danced together because that means he obviously doesn’t care about people seeing him as gay.

Plus he felt like they had no chemistry at all. Things between them were too awkward as it was. Even now Apollyon seemed to prefer playing with Goblin than talk with him anyway. He watched Apollyon amuse the cat with a bit of string for a bit before Goblin decided she was done with him and attacked his hand, biting his fingers.

“Ow. The hell Goblin?” He muttered in annoyance.

“That’s cats for you.” Said Sebastian. “Next time get a dog.”

Apollyon shrugged and patted Goblin. “Nah. I like my Goblin… But if Marine happens to find a dog that needs a home I’ll take them. Animals seem to like me.” He smiled a little as he thought about something in his past. “I used to attract animals a lot when I lived in Zuzu. Though it was mainly birds and rats. They were pretty cute. I’m just an animal magnet. For a while this one crow followed me everywhere.”

“Huh, alright. Are there many birds and rats in Zuzu?” Someday Sebastian hoped to move there. He wanted to get as far away from Pelican Town as possible. It was always interesting to hear someone else’s experiences.

“Yeah, fair few depending on where you are.” He smiled sadly. “You know, animals made living there bearable… Have you ever been somewhere that was so loud it became quiet? So many people but your existence doesn’t matter one bit… If you just vanished one day no one would care. Nothing would be affected. Not really…”

“… So you’d rather live in a place like this?” He couldn’t imagine someone wanting to live in Pelican Town of their own free will. He was sure almost sure all the younger folks were going to leave soon. This town didn’t offer them too much.

To his surprise Apollyon started laughing. “Mate, living here is a million times better than the city. Trust me, people only move to the city to work in cubicles or to die. There is nothing more depressing than living in that black and white concrete place… I only have bad memories of that place.”

“Oh… Okay.”

“But don’t let my experiences put you off. My perspective is just one of many.” Apollyon gave Goblin a few more pats to which she purred softly at the attention. “I’m sure you could find good things about city life, but I like it here better… I kind of like the idea of knowing people and them knowing me, and not just knowing me as the emo looking guy that always orders a triple shot espresso every Monday. Sorry if I’m being weird.”

Sebastian sighed. “You’re not being weird. If anything you sound depressed.”

“Nah man, I’m so deep in depression I’ve done a one eighty and I’m back to being normal.” He picked up Goblin and gave her a little smooch on her forehead. “But that’s okay. Working at Joja really killed me. I’m getting better now… At least I think so.”

“Meow.”

“You’re a loud girl today.”

Sebastian had to admit there seemed to be a very subtle shift when Apollyon was interacting with his weird hairless cat compared to other people. It wasn’t just that he didn’t talk about depressing stuff around people, but he just seemed more sincere and grounded. He didn’t get this distant look in his eyes like he did when talking about other people and his smile seemed more genuine. It confused him a little and left an uncomfortable feeling in his chest.

Suddenly Sam walked in carrying some microwaved pizzas and a few drinks. “Hey there party people. Got the snacks.”

Goblin’s ears perked up as she watched Sam walk around with the food. Apollyon chuckled and lightly booped her nose. “You are a greedy little fat cat. You get one ham. Those pizzas have ham on them right?”

“Yep.” Sam picked a square bit of ham off the pizza and offered it to Goblin. She sniffed it for a moment before biting it, along with Sam’s finger. “Ow.”

Apollyon sighed and lightly scolded her. “You are not being nice today. Meeting too many people has got you all excited. Sorry about that Sam.”

“No big deal.”

Everyone relaxed a little after that and sat around eating terrible cardboard pizza and drinking tap water. Once or twice Sam dared Sebastian to drink some Joja cola. He obviously he would never drink that poison. However Sam somehow convinced Apollyon to have a little taste. He almost felt sorry for him when he choked and spluttered, scaring the heck out of Goblin. A light blush quickly covered Apollyon’s face which ran all the way down past his shirt. It was kind of cute.

Clenching his jaw a little he shoved his hands in his pockets. Yes, he was gay but no he didn’t really think that the farmer was that cute. He just looked cute when he was blushing, but he was still weird with clearly a few issues. Now he was kind of mad at himself for thinking that the farmer was cute.

“MEOW!” Sebastian quickly snapped out of his thoughts when he saw a particularly pissed off cat getting wrapped up a blanket. After wriggling and attempting to free herself for a minute or two she resigned herself to her fate. “… Meow.”

Apollyon shook his head as he cradled the animal like a baby in his arms. “Angry baby… Anyway, thanks for inviting me to your jam session.”

“No problem.” Said Sam with a grin. “Drop by anytime. You gonna be at the saloon on Friday?”

“Eh, maybe. All depends on if I decide to go fishing or not.” Apollyon pulled a face at that thought. “Why is fishing so difficult? Maybe I need a better rod or something… Anyway, I’ll see you guys around. Later haters.”

Sebastian waved a little and watched him go. He was still a little mad That he found the farmer kind of cute. He attempted to reason he found Apollyon’s blush cute the same way he found Sam cute when he got really sleepy; cute in that instance and nothing more. Plus if he actually liked the farmer that would ruin his plans of escaping Pelican Town and running away to Zuzu city when he had saved up enough.

He noticed Sam’s eyes on him. “… What do you want?”

“Dude, you hardly said anything while Apollyon was here… This is the Ben thing all over again.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “It’s not. I had a crush on him back then and we both knew that band geek was as straight as a ramp. I just still don’t know what to make of him. He kind of weirds me out.”

“You said that about Ben.”

Sebastian was going to punch Sam right in the nose. “It’s totally different… Besides, think rationally for a moment, what the hell is the chance that a gay farmer would move here and actually like a gay basement dwelling troll. Plus it’s not like if you put two gay guys in a room they are immediately going to get together. That would be like saying you and Abby are going get together if I locked you two in a room.”

“Someone say my name?” Asked Abigail as she climbed through Sam’s window and scooped up a cold slice of untouched microwave pizza. “Hmmm ham and cheese.”

The boys didn’t even flinch. They were used to her entering via the window when she was escaping whatever punishment her parents were trying to enforce on her. “So, what did you do this time?” Asked Sam. “You missed practice.”

“Cut me some slack.” She whined. “All I did was call Morris a fucked faced old goat that should get run over by Lewis’s car and thrown in the river, and my mum heard me… Anyway, what are you two yammering about?”

“Sebastian and the farmer.” Informed Sam.

“Ooooo, so Sebastian has feelings other than fuck off and leave me alone?”

“Apparently.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. His friends were idiots. “Shut up. Don’t try and meddle in my nonexistent love life. You idiots don’t even know if he’s into guys. He hangs around Emily a lot. He’s probably into her.”

Abby frowned a little and nodded slowly. She seemed to be formulating a plan. “I see… Well it was nice meeting up with you boys but I must go. I have things to plan.”

“Whatever you are planning stop it.” Snapped Sebastian. “You stop it right now.”

She smirked and climbed out the window. “I’ll text you the details later Sam. Sebastian, you don’t worry your pretty little head. By the time my plan is over we’ll know if you can get a piece of that farmer.”

Sebastian let out an exasperated sigh. “Even if he is into men he might not even like me because I am not into him… and she’s gone… I blame you for this Sam. You are encouraging her.”

Sam shrugged and strummed his guitar.

Chapter Text

To almost all residence the community center was nothing more than a decrepit old building with nothing going on inside it. However those in the loop knew it was anything but. The Junimo’s were running around the abandoned building almost overly excited that someone was giving them offerings once again.

Blue was bouncing happily in front of the fish tank scroll, delighted to see that several fish had already been offered up. “Maybe in a year or two the farmer will have finished this bundle! We’ll be strong enough to move that big rock in front of the mines!”

Yellow made a happy sound as they attempted to jump over a cracked floorboard. “Yeah! They already finished the Spring lists for the Foraging and pantry bundles! Good pick. Good farmer.”

“We shall see about that young Junimos.” An old white Junimo with a tiny twig cane waddled over to the fire place and sat in front of it. “This could still all be for naught if the farmer turns to the dark side and joins the evil one… The human known as… Morris…”

Yellow shuddered at that name and several Junimo’s made distressed sounds. That man was evil. He wanted to do all kinds of horrible, no good, very bad things to the valley. If Joja was able to take over the community center their entire existence within Pelican Town might vanish completely. None of them really knew that that meant, if they would die, be forced out of Pelican Town, or be knocked back to the Yoba plane.

“The evil one will not win!” Declared Green. He stood on the shelf above the fireplace, waving their little arms around. “The evil one will fail! The current farmer is a descendant of the old farmer! The only other human besides the Wizard to see us in hundreds of years! I knew it when I first saw him! He is our hero!” Their little speech seemed to quickly rile up the other Junimo into a small frenzy of happy squealing and cheering.

White sighed a little and shook their head. Young Junimos changed emotions in the blink of an eye. “Just because he is related to the old farmer the new farmer isn’t the same person. They have their own hope and dreams and ambitions… And there is that little matter about how they actually came to be.”

A cautious whispering spread through the Junimos. They once again had gone from happy to sad. Green was having none of this. “Who cares about that? The new farmer is good! He’s just reluctant! He hasn’t gone and killed or hurt anyone in the valley! He’s planted crops and caught fish and started to fill our bundles to give us power!”

Red hummed a little from their spot up in the rafters. “What if the new farmer overworks themselves? The old farmer worked themselves to death.”

“Well he was all alone right?” Asked Orange. “We just need to find the new farmer someone to help them! Like the carpenter and the scientist! The old lady and the old wheelchair guy! The shop man and the house wife! The other house wife and… what did her partner used to do before he left and everyone was sad?”

Blue shrugged. “I heard he was known as a garbage man. No idea what that is, but it sounds super important.”

Orange flailed their arms. “Anyway, maybe we should find someone to help the farmer? Someone that will make sure they don’t overwork themselves and keep Hellfire farm alive for many, many years.”

A purple Junimo jumped up and down excitedly. “Oooooooo!I know! I know! I’ve been watching the farmer for a while! Mainly because I was scared for their safety. They live with a mean pink monster! It tried to eat Blue!”

“You said you wouldn’t talk about that!” Whined Blue.

Purple snickered. “Anyway, the farmer spends lots of time with the groovy blue one, the grumpy drunk one, the spiky guitar guy, the sword girl, and the smoking guy.” The Junimo’s quickly started chatting amongst themselves, all quickly taking sides as to whom the farmer should end up with. Some of them even started mentioning others in the village.

“What about the science girl?”

“Moustache man! Moustache man!”

“Sweet, quiet book lady!"

“Artsy wood lady!"

“Mister writer man!"

“Pretty photographer!”

“Grid ball! Grid ball! Grid Ball!”

White sighed a little, overwhelmed by their enthusiasm. “We really should learn their names…” They could only see bad things happening if the Junimos tried to help the farmer choose a partner. They contemplated telling everyone this was a bad idea, but they knew it wasn’t going to work. Hopefully the farmer wasn’t going to take too much offence and feed them to their pink monster animal.

***

Summer quickly rolled around and Apollyon had decided to do his best to get good at fishing. Since around seven in the morning he had parked his ass a few meters away from Leah’s home. He hoped that she wouldn’t mind him fishing so close to her place. He was trying to keep quiet, but it was pretty frustrating when the damn fish kept getting away. He was one escape away from snapping his fishing rod and jumping in himself to catch the fish that way. Like a bear.

With small screech he managed to pull up his third sunfish. While he had caught the fish he couldn’t help but feel like some part of his brain was about to explode. On one hand the apple bastards wanted a sunfish for some weird reason, but now he had three. Three and he had been struggling for hours. Hours damn it. After that struggle he would have felt so much more accomplished if he had caught something else.

“You catching any good fish lad?”

Apollyon jumped a little and looked over at Willy. It was a little unusual for the sailor to be spotted anywhere but the beach or the saloon. “Eh, mainly sunfish… I caught a carp in Spring.”

Willy nodded and cast his own line out into the water. “If you have the passion for it you can catch all kind of things. I’m thinking about ordering in some more fishing rods.”

“Really?”

“Yep. They’re advertised to be lighter, more flexible, and the parts they used for the reel are meant to make fishing smoother and less jarring.”

“That sounds amazing. I might actually be able to catch something other than a sunfish…”

Willy chuckled a little and quickly reeled in a fish. Much to Apollyon’s dismay he managed to catch a sturgeon. He needed one of those for the apple bastard’s bundles too. “Well what do you know? Looks like I got a nice fat one for dinner tonight.”

“Yeah, good job.”

Willy smiled a little and patted Apollyon on the back. “Keep at it lad. You’ll be catching all kinds of fish in no time.”

“Thanks… I’ll keep trying… Can I trade you one of my sunfish for that sturgeon?”

“Hmm, thanks but no thanks boy. I had sunfish for dinner last night.”

“Fair enough.” He cast out his line again and hoped for something else. It felt like he was sitting there for hours before something tugged on the line. With excitement and determination in his chest, Apollyon quickly reeled it in. Unfortunately for him he ended up reeling in a lump of driftwood. That wouldn’t have been so disappointing if it wasn’t for the fact god damn Blue the Junimo was hanging off it and waving at him. Without even blinking, Apollyon cut the line and headed on home via the community center. He was just going to throw the sunfish in there and let those apple bastards deal with that.

On his way there he happened to run into Abigail. She waved enthusiastically at him and ran towards him. “Apollyon! I was just about to look for you! Do you wanna- You stink of fish…”

“Yeah, I have like three sunfish. Want one? Please take one.”

She pulled a face at that thought. “… No… Anyway, tonight we’re hanging out in Seb’s room. Swing by around seven and don’t smell like fish. That crappy shack you live in has a bathroom, right?”

“… I technically have a bath.” He had two ponds on his farm. That was pretty much it. If he ever got enough gold together he’d have to as Robin to put in a kitchen and a bathroom.

“Alright, Seb’s bedroom. Seven o’clock. Tonight. Bring snacks if you wanna be cool.” She winked and happily ran off towards the library.

Apollyon was very confused but continued with throwing his plan of throwing a fish into the community center. He managed to hit Yellow square in the face. Well, he assumed it was its face. They were kind of just a whole face on a round mass. Point was, Yellow fell over when he got hit with a fish and that made Apollyon happy.

He eventually got home and had a bath on one of the ponds on his property. He kept an eye out for any angry Junimo’s that might come by for revenge for the fish thing. He saw one or two running about but Goblin easily chased them off. She was a good girl.

Later that evening he stopped by the saloon and picked up some pizza for the night. He didn’t really know what to expect going up there, but if it was anything like when he sat in on Sam and Sebastian when they had their jam session it was going to be fun. He hadn’t seen Sebastian’s room yet, but he had two clear ideas of what it looked like in his mind; dark and spooky, or bright and colourful in such a way as to make his eyes bleed. Either option was hilarious to him.

When he entered the house he saw Robin scribbling in a book at the counter. “Oh, hey there Apollyon. What can I do for you?”

“Um, where’s Sebastian’s room?”

“Basement. You can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” He paused for a moment. “Um, when I eventually get a house upgrade can I get a bathroom and a kitchen?”

“Sure. Now you head off and enjoy your evening.”

Apollyon nodded a little and headed down to the basement, politely knocking on the door before entering. “Hello?” Sebastian’s room was just spooky and dark. It wasn’t unexpected but he was kind of hoping it was going to be so colourful it would make his eyes bleed from all the clashing colours. Thankfully he wasn’t the only one there, Abby and Sam happened to be there too.

Abigail grinned. “Hell yeah! You bought pizza!”

“What kind?” Asked Sam.

Sebastian frowned a little and looked over at his friends. “Okay, which one of you invited him?”

Apollyon felt like a heavy weight was suddenly forced down on his chest. “Oh… I was under the impression I was welcome here… I’ll um, I’ll just go…”

Abby sighed dramatically and lightly smacked Sebastian’s arm. “Be nice you basement troll. I invited him over. “Apollyon is cool. Look, he brought pizza. Delicious, delicious pizza.” She walked over to Apollyon and pulled him over to the couch. “What kind did you get?”

“Um, just pepperoni with extra cheese…” Apollyon still felt he shouldn’t be there. Sam and Abby were happy enough to have him there but Sebastian didn’t seem so happy. “Because you know, some places put cheese on it but it’s like they are trying to ration it out or they only use some crumbly cheese like goat and it isn’t evenly spread around or there isn’t a good dough to toppings ratio and you just get a mouth full of bread with a hint of toppings. It’s not good.”

Abby took the pizza from him and happily started eating with Sam. “Mmmmm, extra cheese. Come play Solarion Chronicles with the rest of us nerds. You ever played it before?”

“I was interested but never had the money to get the cards and books and stuff… I grew up pretty damn poor.”

“Living in a shitty apartment poor or my parents had to have three jobs each kind of poor?” She asked.

“My mum and I used to live in our car kind of poor.”

“… Rough.”

Sam nodded a little. “Sucks man. I used to live in Zuzu city in a really cramped apartment with my parents before we came to Pelican Town.”

“Boo, boring whiny stuff.” Complained Abigail. She picked up a can of beer and pushed it into Apollyon’s hand. “Drink and be merry. One should not play Solarion Chronicles sober. It’s way more interesting when a little tipsy.” She pulled Apollyon over to a table and pushed him onto a chair. “Let’s play.”

The other two boys sat around the table and Sebastian started to shuffle scenario cards. “Alright, I added the new expansion pack I ordered the other day so we’ll have a few different scenarios and also three different character classes, so go ahead and choose what you like.”

Abigail quickly grabbed the character cards and chose her character. “Sweet, the finally added the rogue! I am so gonna be her.”

Sam grabbed the warrior card. “Mine.”

“Brawn over brain? Sounds like you.” Teased Abby as she passed the character cards to Apollyon.

He looked over the characters. The ones left were wizard, healer, bard, and beast master. With little hesitation Apollyon chose the healer. “We’re going to need a well-balanced party so Healer probably suits me best this time… I’d end up getting myself killed if I tried anything else.”

“Alright,” said Sebastian as he finished shuffling the scenario cards. “I’ll be the wizard. Okay, so now it’s time to start our journey into the world of Solarion…”

***

Purple and Red managed to follow Apollyon from the farm to Sebastian’s house. They managed to avoid the fleshy pink monster that patrolled the farm and decided to set out on a mission that they had given themselves. Their mission; to get the farmer a partner. Red was smart enough to point out that they should try and steer him towards the humans that he was getting along well with.

So both of them were really excited when Apollyon happened to go to Sebastian’s room where Abigail and Sam also happened to be. They hid under the couch and watched as the young adults play some card game.

Purple sighed a little as they watched the young adults talking and eating pizza. “So… What are we meant to do? Just watch?”

“Yeah,” said Red. “You see, humans have this thing called love that makes them want to be together. It’s different from us Junimos. We just you know, get to a certain age and then split into two. Humans don’t do that.”

“Well what do they do?”

Red shrugged. “I think it usually has something to do with a lock and key mechanic? It’s very weird stuff.”

“… Have you seen humans mating?”

“Well not humans but I saw some mice going at it once last Spring in the community center. I can only assume human mating is the same thing… But more emotional than chemical driven I think… I am no expert on the subject.” Red picked up a bottle cap and gave it a little sniff. It smelt like stale beer and rust. They decided to keep it.

Purple sighed again watched the action unfold in front of them. “… The purple haired one. She seems very happy to be around the farmer. Good pick?”

“The spiky blond one seems to be having a good time too. Also a good pick… But the smoking one? He didn’t seem happy for the farmer to be here.”

“Humans are weird. Maybe this is a sign of affection or something?” Purple pushed some dust into a pile near its spindly legs. “How are we meant to make any of these humans like the farmer anyway?”

“… I didn’t think that far ahead. We shall think of something! Maybe we should get closer?” Red peeked out from under the sofa and made a mad dash over to the book shelf. Thankfully no one seemed to notice of care that they were there, so they quickly zipped under Sebastian’s bed. Moments later Purple joined them.

“… Is this better?”

“I think so. I don’t think they are still playing their card game though.”

The two Juminos watched as the humans seemed for forgo whatever card game they were playing and started to talk amongst themselves. Everyone seemed to be laughing and drinking from bottles and cans.

Suddenly the purple haired one pointed at the farmer. “Truth or dare!”

The farmer laughed a little. “What? We doing this now?”

“Yep. Truth or dare.”

“Until I know what kind of dares you people do, I’m choosing truth.”

“Tell us about your first time having sex.”

“Abby!” Gasped the spiky haired blond one. “That’s like a round three truth or dare truth question thing.”

“Too bad, Apollyon is bound by the laws of truth or dare! Answer the question!”

The farmer chuckled a little and let out a wistful sigh. “Let’s see… It was a few months after I turned eighteen. My step dad kicked me out of the house for like the third time that week and I ended up going to the red light district in Zuzu city.” He drank heavily from his can. “I met this nice older woman. Mid to late twenties I think, very obvious boob job. Turns out she was a professional working girl and I lost my virginity to her.”

The purple haired one looked very deflated. “Oh, well that was boring. I was expecting something more… I don’t know dramatic? Heart breaking? Possibly homoerotic?”

The farmer laughed and shook his head. “None of my relationships have ever been dramatic or had any heart break on my end. It was my second time that was homoerotic.”

“So you’re gay?” Asked the spiky blond one.

“Nah, I don’t have a preference. I like both. Did you get this piss water beer from Joja mart or something?”

The smoking one shrugged. “It’s the only place that sells canned beer.”

Purple frowned and looked over at Red. “What in Yoba’s name is gay?”

Red thought for a moment. “Um… you see, there are two different kinds of humans. Humans with lumps on their chests and those that do not have lumps on their chest. Usually people with lumps go with people without lumps but I think when two lumpy people or two non-lumpy people get together that’s what humans call gay.”

“Huh… So the farmer is this gay thing then? Does this mean we can cross the purple haired one and all of these other chest lump people out?”

“I have no idea. Humans are weird.”

Purple sighed heavily and lied down, kicking their legs up in the air. “This is dumb! Let’s just choose someone and get them to be with the farmer!”

“… We can’t be lazy. If the farmer chooses the wrong partner they will both be upset and mad at each other and we might as well beg the evil one to flatten the community center.”

Purple sighed dramatically and flailed. “But this is sooooooo boring!”

Red pouted as them. “Well next time I’ll ask someone else to come with me! Maybe Blue or Green. Heck, even old White.”

Purple frowned and shoved them. Red shoved back. Within second the two Jumino where deeply engaged in a slap fight. However this didn’t really do much for either of them since they only had stick arms and no actual hands to slap each other with.

***

None of the humans knew of nor cared for the Jumino slap fight that was happening under Sebastian’s bed. They were much too busy drinking and playing truth or dare. Though truthfully Apollyon wasn’t one to get affected by alcohol as much as other people would. He was tipsy but Abby, Sam, and Sebastian looked like they were quickly starting to get drunk. He had no idea how much they had drunk before he got there or even during the game.

Sam seemed to be the lightest of light weights. He’d only seen him drink two beers before starting to chug Joja cola, and he was still tipsy as all hell. Abigail had at minimum three cans under her belt and was all flushed and giggly. Apollyon had no idea how much Sebastian had drunk but his face was slightly pink and he was smiling and more talkative than usual.

“So there I was-” said Abby as she made wild hand gestures “-Summer time, and for some stupid reason I decided to wear one of those shitty string bikini swimsuits, the kind you need to tie up or they will fall off, and a huge wave crashed over me. I went under, and when I came back up I saw my bikini top floating away out to sea.”

Apollyon snorted. “Oh my god. Really? Did you flash anyone?”

“Yep. My parents, Haley, Alex, and Emily. Flashed them all my sixteen year old titties.”

Sam sighed a little. “I wish I was there to see that. Sixteen year old me would have been very happy to see those two… But sadly I was grounded.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Sam, you’re an idiot. There is a thing called the internet for all your boob needs.”

He shrugged and sipped some more of his Joja cola. “Yeah well, sixteen year old me was more annoyed that Alex got to see tits before I did.”

Abby laughed and pulled herself to her feet. “Well, everything is making me giggle like an idiot. It’s time for me to split. Sam, walk a drunk girl home?” She grabbed his arm and pulled him up, not giving him much of a choice.

“Huh? Alright. Later you two. My mum probably wants me back home soon anyway.” He waved goodbye as Abby dragged him away.

Apollyon smiled a little at Sebastian. “Hey, sorry I kind of crashed your get together. Next time I’ll just decline.”

He shrugged and started to put away his cards. “Nah, it’s cool. It was actually kind of nice to have someone else join in. We actually made it through the Den of Shambalaran scenario without anyone dying. It was pretty cool.”

“Thanks. I didn’t think spell of healing was actually going to reattach Sam’s arm.”

“His fault for sticking his arm into that obvious arm trap.”

“I guess so.” He got up and started to tidy up all the cans and pizza boxes.

“Just leave it. Sober me can deal with that tomorrow.”

“Sober you can always use a bit of help. I’m used to cleaning up after people have had one too many anyway.”

There was a bit of silence between them for a few minutes as Apollyon busied himself tidying up. “Was it your step dad?” He asked. “Step dads are the fucking worst. Demetrius thinks he can run his mouth off to me just because he married my mum it’s fucking stupid.”

Apollyon laughed a little. “Yeah, I can see how that can be annoying… It was my mum. After my grandfather died things were really rough for us. Her more so than me.”

“Oh…”

Apollyon smiled at him. “Hey, step parents aren’t bad. Some are just more awkward than others. I’m sure Demetrius tries his best for you, even if he screws up a lot.”

“… Whatever. Demetrius is such a-”

“Hush you.” Said Apollyon quickly. “You’re drunk and I’m not going to get into some competition as to whose step dad is worse.”

“You’re drunk too. You had like four cans.”

“I have a very high tolerance. As far as I know the only thing that really gets me smashed is vodka. A few cans of Joja brand piss water isn’t going to ruin my day.” Apollyon started to subtly direct Sebastian towards his bed. Hopefully the young man would fall asleep once he was laying down.

Sebastian seemed surprised by their sudden closeness. He was more out of it than Apollyon thought if he was that easily surprised. He had to admit, Sebastian held himself together pretty well, and he did look rather cute with a light dusting of pink on his cheeks. He also had this slightly dazed look on his face which Apollyon found rather adorable.

“… You’re weird.”

Apollyon did his best to not laugh at that statement. The alcohol was starting to hit Sebastian hard. “Sebastian, you don’t even know the half of it. Go to bed. We’ll talk later in the afternoon when you’re back to normal.”

“Okay… Night Apollyon. Same time next week?”

He was surprised to hear that and was pretty damn sure that Sebastian wouldn’t remember the invitation he extended to him in the morning. But the gesture still made his heart race a little in excitement. “Sure. I’d like that. Night.”

He left the basement feeling a faint sense of happiness swelling deep within his chest. Apollyon felt good, really good. It was kind of a scary feeling for him. He had tried to not let himself expect too much or get too happy about much. His own self-doubt and anxieties wouldn’t allow for that. However after all the bullshit he had put up with working for Joja and the Junimo’s deciding he was going to be their lackey, he was starting to allow himself to be happy again.

***

Eventually the slap fight ended and the Junimo’s lay in piles of dust and food wrappers under Sebastian’s bed, their little chests heaving as they breathed heavily. If Junimos could bruise they certainly would be by now.

Purple sighed a little and looked out to see that there was no longer anyone besides Sebastian walking around the basement. “… Hey Red? I think the farmer is gone.”

“… Huh, so he is. Guess we better go too.”

“But the door needs people hands to open it. Are we stuck here till someone opens it and we can sneak out?”

Red stared up at the mattress for a few moment before letting out a frustrated sound and started flailing their limbs about. This was obviously not part of their plan.

Chapter Text

To no one’s surprise Sam, Abigail and Sebastian all had hangovers the next day. Though each one was slightly different in intensity. Sam, though he had drunk the least looked like he had been run over by a truck, and Abigail just looked miserable, opting to wear a giant pair of novelty sunglasses inside. Sebastian just had a terrible headache but otherwise looked like his usual self.

The trio were hanging out in Sebastian’s room as it was the darkest and quietest place in the whole valley. Sebastian was laying on his bed, Sam was on the couch, and Abby cleared off the table and decided to sprawl out over it. None of them really said anything. They just walked in and lied down.

After what seemed like an eternity Abby finally spoke up in a hushed whisper. “So, what happened when we left? Did you and Apollyon kiss or something?”

“He helped me clean stuff up and left.”

“Seriously?” Abby groaned in annoyance. “You mean we got plastered for nothing? You know Sam is a baby drunk. Look at him. He’s fucking dead.”

Sebastian glanced over to the rather dead looking man that was attempting to melt into his couch. “… Your fault for making us drink so much.”

“Shut up… I thought we’d just drink till we found out if he liked dicks or not… And when we found out he did I thought your dumb drunk asses would maybe smooch or something. It was a fool proof plan.”

“You’re an idiot.” Muttered Sebastian. Despite drinking a little more than he usually would he could very clearly remember a few details about last night when they were alone. Things like how kind Apollyon had been to help tidy up, and how close they had gotten to each other physically. It might have just been the alcohol clouding his mind or the lighting in his room but damn Apollyon looked good; a light blush dusted his face, eyes so warm and caring, and lips so soft. He wondered what it would be like to kiss them, but he wasn’t going to admit that. He was drunk. That was just the desperate drunk gay in him wanting to do stuff with another guy.

Abby experimentally took off her sunglasses before quickly putting them back on. “For fuck’s sake. You should have at least tried smooching him. You could have blamed it on the alcohol if you two didn’t like it.”

“Shut up Abby. You’re too loud.”

Sam groaned a little as he rolled onto his side on the couch. “Think Apollyon’s dead to the world too?”

“Probably,” said Abby. “You should have let him crash on your couch. He had like seven cans. Boy was draining them like Sam draining Joja cola.”

“He seemed fine when he left last night…” Now Sebastian felt a little guilty. He should have asked Apollyon to stay He wondered what he was up to right now.

***

“STOP STEALING MY FUCKING BLUEBERRIES!” Screeched Apollyon as he swung his scythe around, causing several Junimos to drop the berries and scatter. Did they think they could just steal and get away with it because blueberry bushes made several berries? Not on his watch damn it. Maybe they thought they could steal some because he had gone drinking last night? Not fucking likely. They were his crops and he was going to defend them as best he could.

“Hello! Anyone home?” Called Emily.

Apollyon waved her over. “Hey, what are you doing here?”

“Just came by to see how you were going and, is that your cat?!” She pointed over to the lazy naked chicken cat grooming herself on the porch.

“Yeah, that’s Goblin. She’s going to be less naked in a day or two. I ordered a cat shirt for her so she doesn’t get sunburnt.” He looked over at Goblin. “Hey! Stop locking your bits in front of guests!” Goblin ignored his yelling and continued to groom herself. “… She’s not very well behaved.”

Emily grinned. “Well I think she is gorgeous. I’m going to make her a jacket for winter… Anyway, I was wondering if you could do me a huge favour, if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

It took a moment for Emily to answer him. It looked like she was trying to find the right words. “It’s Shane… He seemed to be in a really, really bad way last night. I mean, he’s usually pretty grumpy, but last night it was more of a hopelessness kind of thing… Could you come by the Saloon tonight and talk to him? Walk him home again? I worry…”

“Say no more. I’ll help you out. Shane’s my friend too.” He felt a little guilty. He hadn’t had much time to go to the saloon over the past few days. He’d finally worked up the courage to go back into the mines and had finally made it down to level forty. Ever since then he’d been swinging his sword and screeching at every dust sprite and skeleton that came his way. It was brighter in the ice caves but it was still scary.

Emily smiled brightly and hugged him tightly. “Thank you so much. This means a lot to me, and I’m sure it will mean a lot to Shane if he shows up tonight.”

Apollyon smiled a little and offered Emily some blue berry juice which she readily accepted. The pair spent the remainder of the day together talking about this and that till Emily had to go off to work. He made his way down to the Saloon around five and waited for Shane to show up.

***

Once the trio of idiots had gotten over the worst of their hangover they decided to go down to the saloon for dinner, or whatever meal they were up to that day. Plus pizza sounded really, really good right now.

The moment the trio made it into the saloon Abby made a beeline for Apollyon and hugged him. “I thought you were dead! How are you still alive?”

Apollyon flailed a little but managed to stop himself from falling over. “Hey Abby. I have a very high alcohol tolerance. It’ll take more than that to get me drunk.”

Sam looked shocked. “So you drank all that and still managed to get home by yourself? When did you get up?”

“Six o’clock sharp.” Said Apollyon with a devilish grin. “I got up, watered my crops, chopped down a few trees, skinny dipped and came here.”

“You skinny dip?” Asked Abby.

“I don’t have running water in my house yet. I skinny dip in my pond every other day. More often now since the weather has warmed up.”

Sebastian frowned a little. That must have sucked. He couldn’t imagine how annoying it would have been to have to strip down and swim in a pond every time he had to have a bath, but for some reason he could clearly imagine the farmer doing it. Was he very slim? Muscular? He had to at least be toned something fierce from all that farm work. He shook his head a little and tried to fight the blush that was starting to creep onto his face. He couldn’t blame alcohol on it this time.

Abby grabbed hold of Apollyon’s arm and started to pull him towards the arcade. “Come on, let’s go sit on the couch and talk about this more in depth.”

He smiled a little and gently shrugged her off. “Can’t. I’m meeting Shane tonight.”

Sebastian felt kind of uncomfortable hearing that. Those two hanging out together just seemed strange to him now. Was this a spark of jealousy? He sure hoped not. He shouldn’t feel jealous about a man he was claiming he didn’t like. Although, he was starting to look at Apollyon’s lips more and more when he was talking. Now he was getting mad at himself again. Why should he care if Apollyon was talking to the town drunk?

“Boo… Well you come over when you’re done talking to him.” Abby went to Gus’s attention to order their group some pizza and water. Lots of water.

He followed Sam over to the arcade, but continued to glance over at Apollyon. He was talking to Emily now. They looked good together. Maybe those two were going out or something? He’d feel stupid if they were. Of course a guy that was interested in men and women would end up with a woman. Especially in a small place like Pelican Town.

***

Apollyon was getting increasingly worried. Shane hadn’t shown up at all and that was giving him so much anxiety. Emily didn’t seem to be taking it too well either. She was constantly glancing towards the saloon doors and giving Apollyon worried looks.

By eight o’clock Apollyon decided he needed to go out and actually find Shane. He bid Emily goodnight and headed out towards Marine’s ranch. Along the way there he happened to notice an empty can of beer, and another one, and another one. They seemed to be heading south towards the sea and locked sewer drain.

Guessing that the cans might belong to Shane, Apollyon followed them till he came across the poor man lying on the ground by the cliff side and surrounded by beer cans. He looked like he’d been like this for a while now. Not too sure of what to do, Apollyon crouched next to him and tried to wake him up.

“Hey buddy. Time to go home.”

“A-Apollyon?” He slurred. “My life’s a pathetic joke… Why do I even try?” He let out a small sob that really hit Apollyon hard. Shane was going through a lot more than he was letting on. “I’m too small and stupid to… to take control of my life. I’m just a p-piece of solid garbage flittering in the wind…”

“Shane…” Apollyon really had no idea what he could say to make Shane feel better. Heck he had no idea if he could say anything to make the situation better.

“I’ve been coming here often lately,” Shane admitted. “Looking down… Here’s a chance to finally take control of my life. These cliffs… But I’m too scared, too anxious. Just like always… All I do is work, sleep and drink to dull the feelings of self-hatred. Why should I even go on? Tell me… T-tell me why I shouldn’t roll off this cliff right now?”

Yoba, Apollyon wasn’t qualified to answer this kind of question. He didn’t want to make it worse. He could always say it was a sin or something, but he had no idea if Shane was religious. He wasn’t even religious. He could say stuff about there being so much to live for, but a depressed and suicidal person wasn’t going to see that. He could bring up his goddaughter, Jas, but that might just make him feel worse.

He took a deep breath and gently squeezed Shane’s hand. “Shane, this decision is your own… Just know I’m here for you no matter what you choose. Okay?” He wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to tell him, but he felt like that was better than saying the other options that came to mind.

Shane looked up at him for a moment, looking utterly confused as he processed what he had just been told. “Thanks… I appreciate that… I really do.” He rested his head against the ground and let out a long, slow sigh. “Apollyon, I think you should take me to the hospital now…”

Apollyon was a little surprised to hear that but never the less he grabbed hold of Shane and dragged him to the clinic, practically kicking the door down to get Harvey to open up. One look at Shane and Harvey quickly carted him off into a back room to treat him for alcohol poisoning and Apollyon stayed out in the waiting room.

Maybe an hour later Harvey came out to talk to Apollyon. “I’ve pumped his stomach and re-hydrated his body. He’s going to be okay. It’s a good thing you brought him in though.”

“Emily asked me to look out for him, but I think I failed them both.” Muttered Apollyon. “I shouldn’t have waited for him at the saloon.”

“You couldn’t have known he was going to do this.” Reassured Harvey. He glanced back at the doors leading further into the clinic with a worried look on his face. “Too much alcohol is terrible for the body… but right now I’m most worried about his mental health… When he comes to, I’ll have a chat with him about his treatment options. I know an excellent counselor in Zuzu city.”

Apollyon hummed in agreement as an almost comfortable silence settled between them. Apollyon was happy to know that Shane was going to be okay in the long run. Hopefully he would take Harvey’s advice to heart.

“Life can be painful sometimes.” Said Harvey. “But there’s always hope for a better future. You’ve got to believe in that.”

“… I’ve tried to believe in that.” Said Apollyon quietly. “But in all honesty? Life is pain. Existing is pain… But giving up and offing yourself isn’t the answer. You have to keep living just to spite everyone that’s told you otherwise.”

“… I guess that’s one way of putting it. Would you like me to give you information about the counselor?”

Apollyon politely declined and headed off home. He’d let Emily know that Shane was alright tomorrow. He wouldn’t tell her everything just that he drank a bit too much and needed to go see Harvey.

When he got to his farm he was immediately greeted by several Junimos grabbing the blueberries that he had neglected to pick earlier. They stared at him and he stared back, not braking eye contact as he slowly walked over to a tree and broke off a branch. “How many times do I have to tell you to stay the fuck away from my crops?” He ran towards the Junimos and the Junimos screamed and scattered.

Chapter Text

Much to Apollyon’s surprise Shane had knocked on his door and woke him up to apologise for being completely smashed the night before. Apollyon was just surprised that Harvey let Shane go so soon. He probably wasn’t as destroyed as he first thought.

“Don’t sweat it Shane. I’m just glad you’re still here… Is that coffee?”

Shane shrugged and offered a cup to him. “If you want it.” Apollyon took it and sat down on the porch, patting the spot next to him to offer Shane a seat. Reluctantly he sat next to Apollyon and the two looked out over the farm. “… Looks like you’ve got your life together.”

“Looks can be deceiving.” He took a long, slow sip from his coffee. “I think if I stayed in Zuzu for another week I would have jumped off my apartment roof. Would have been a perfect Olympic dive too. Judges would have given me a perfect score too. Eight story building.”

“But you have it all together now.”

“I don’t think anyone ever really has it all together.” He put his coffee cup down and pulled one leg up to his chest, balancing his heel on the edge. “… When I was a teen, I was really fucked in the head. I got into fights all the time with kids at school and around where I lived. It was always over the dumbest things too.”

Shane chuckled a little. “A skinny little shit like you? No offence but you don’t even look like you can throw a punch.”

“Who the fuck needs to know how to throw a punch when you can bash a skull in with a stick or curb stomp a fucker?”

“… Fuck, you’re serious?”

“I was a very angry child.” He picked up his coffee cup again when Goblin came over to investigate what he was drinking. The last thing she needed was caffeine. “I think it was a lot of self-loathing. Like, if I hated myself and if I acted like a complete train wreck people would hate me too. I just wanted to be punished and in some ways I still think I do now.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but I have been better over the past few years. The last fight I got into was in the mines. My nails have finally grown back after all that shit.” For a little emphasis he held up one of his hands and wriggled his fingers. “I’m trying to do more stuff for other people now. Kind of helps a little when you’re a farmer, your job depends on what other people want.” The two fell into silence for a while after that with the two of them concentrating on their coffees.

“Um… I’m going to see a therapist in Zuzu city.” Said Shane quietly.

“Oh?” Apollyon was happy for him.

“Yeah, Harvey recommended them… I want to be a better father figure to Jas. I want to be around for her as much as possible and not just as some drunk old guy that she legally has to live with…”

Apollyon smiled a little and put his hand on Shane’s shoulder. “Good. You have a long term goal and going to see a therapist is the first step. I’m proud of you man.”

“… Thanks. I should be going now.”

“Sure, oh and um, if you feel like talking to someone or just need to get out of the house you can always swing by and hang out here, even if I’m out. I’ll put on a pot of tea or coffee or whatever and we can hang out.”

“You’re a weird one Apollyon.”

“I have been told that many times.” Apollyon waved goodbye to Shane as he ventured down to the path that lead back to his house. He frowned a little when he saw a grey Jumino following him while brandishing a poppy. “… Wait a second…” He glanced over and saw several more Junimo’s pulling up his poppies and running off with them. “You little fuckers!”

***

By about midday Apollyon had chased the last Junimo off his property and managed to get a bit of landscaping underway. He’d cleared some rocks and trees around the dilapidated ruins of what looked like a greenhouse. He was going to have to ask Robin about fixing it up at some point.

With the sun blasting overhead and the heat getting to him, Apollyon stripped down to his underwear and flopped into the pond with a splash. He dived down to the bottom and looked up at the sky. It was interesting to see the world from this blurred perspective. Kind of peaceful really. If he had a choice he wouldn’t mind being reborn with a fish body. If he could avoid getting eaten by humans or bigger fish that would be fun.

The blurry shape of someone standing over the side of the pond. Apollyon swam to the surface and casually shook his head, getting water all over Sam. “Hey! Watch it dude!.”

“You’re the guy that decided to stand over my pond. What’s up?”

Sam sighed a little and dried his hands off on his pants. “Well I was gonna see if you wanted to come down to the saloon with us tonight. You any good at pool?”

“… Why?”

“Just come down to the Saloon. I promise it’ll be a good time.”

***

Much to Apollyon’s delight, Shane was not in the saloon that night. Hopefully he wouldn’t be coming around as often as he used to anymore. He made his way over towards Emily and was about to order a drink when Sam grabbed him by the arm and pulled him over towards the arcade.

“Glad you could make it. Sebastian is absolutely killing me.” He whined. “You gotta help me.” He practically shoved a pool cue into his hand and pushed him into the pool table.

“Oof!” grunted Apollyon. He looked over at Abigail and Sebastian, giving them a slight wave. “Hey.”

Abby grinned and finger gunned at him. “Hey you. Sam was telling us he saw you skinny dipping today. I should have gone over to invite you over tonight.”

“I was wearing underwear…”

“Still, ninety precent naked.”

Sebastian muttered something under his breath and went to set the balls. “Looks like Sam got tired of getting beaten and roped you in.”

Apollyon shrugged. “He didn’t really rope me in. I actually like playing pool. What are we playing? Eight-ball, nine-ball, three-ball, one-pocket, bank pool or loop pool? Well I guess we can’t play loop pool, the table isn’t elliptical.”

Sam and Abby looked shocked that Apollyon knew so much, or they were surprised that there were so many variations of pool to begin with. Sebastian didn’t seem as surprised but he did raise an eyebrow. “Eight-ball. How do you know about the other ones?”

“I did some shitty things when I was growing up to make a quick buck. One of the easiest things was hustle people over games of pool. Mind if I break them?”

Sebastian stood aside and let Apollyon break them. He wasn’t the best at pool, but he was better than average. He hoped that he didn’t make a fool out of himself. He managed to sink the five ball, setting him up for solids while Sebastian had stripes. Through some trickery he managed to sink the three ball too.

Sam let out a low whistle. “Wow you’re good.”

Apollyon shrugged. “I know how to handle multiple balls at once.” For a solid thirty seconds after he said that were filled with Abby choking on her drink. “You okay there Abs?”

From the blue couch Abby gave a shaky thumbs up. “Yep. Just didn’t expect to hear that.”

“So you’ve been with a lot of guys?” Asked Sam.

Apollyon chuckled a little and lined up his shot. “Why Sam are you bi curious by any chance? Just yanking your chain. I’ve had more experience with guys then girls, though that’s only because of the drug and alcohol fuelled orgy.” He messed up his shot. Upon hearing that there were very loud gasps of shock from Sam and Abby. Sebastian, while he didn’t say anything, but he did look rather taken aback by that. Suddenly Apollyon felt very, very dirty.

“We need context!” Said Sam. “Context!”

Abby nodded in agreement. “Yeah, you can’t just say that and leave it at that.”

“… Like I said I did some shitty things growing up.” Said Apollyon as he refused to meet any of their gazes. “Living in the city was boring. I felt numb almost all the time and just wanted to do something different. So I saved up some money and went to some anime con and became friends with some cos-players. Next thing I know I’m invited up to their hotel room and well… Things quickly escalated to where-”

“No one needs to hear that.” Muttered Sebastian rather bitterly.

Apollyon could feel his chest tightening as he kept looking at the ground. Were the fine grains in the wooden floor always so cracked? He wasn’t sure. “Yeah right… Sorry. No one wants to hear about that gay shit. Disgusting right?” He rested the pool cue on the table. “Look, I’m just going to head home… I didn’t feed Goblin and she gets mad if I stay out too late. Bye.”

He quickly left before anyone could stop him. He heard someone call out to him, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He shared way too much too quickly and as always people thought he was fucked up. Well, he was fucked up, but not in the way most people would have thought.

By the time he got back to the farm his legs were shaking and he felt sick, in fact he was. Right next to the box where he put all his crops for collection in the morning. Lewis was not going to appreciate that tomorrow.

He stood crouched over for a few moments when the sound of something rushing through the air caught his attention. Looking up he was shocked to see a green skinned woman riding on a flying broom. He was pretty sure she was a witch. She quickly spied him and wooshed down to meet him, staying on her broom.

“Well, well, well, who might you be?” She asked.

Apollyon blinked a little in surprise, not really expecting this. “Um… Well who might you be?”

“I asked you first.”

“I asked you second.”

The witch rolled her eyes. “I’m Morgana, witch of the valley. Mixer of dark arcane elixirs. Dealer of the dark arts, and so on. So who are you?”

“… Apollyon.”

A wicked smirk graced Morgana’s face. “Apollyon? Really? Did your parents name you after what you are or what you would become?”

“… I don’t know.” Oh Yoba, Apollyon didn’t want to be dealing with another magic user. He thought the wizard and the Junimos were bad enough. Now he had to deal with a witch. “Um, look I don’t have anything to offer you so um…”

“Did you happen to inherit this place from your grandfather?”

“… Yes? Why?”

Morgana gave a knowing look and nodded slowly. “I see… Your grandfather was friends with me and my ex-husband… Rasmodius…” She had a ridiculous amount of contempt for the man it seemed.

Apollyon could understand her feelings towards him. He wasn’t a fan of the wizard either. “Your ex sucks.”

“So you’ve met the cheating son of a bitch? How is he? Still fucking useless?” She snapped.

“Um yeah… He tried to kill me when we first met so yeah… Look, it’s getting late so I should just you know, head off to bed and stuff…”

She crossed her arms and shook her head, making tut tut sounds at him. “Don’t be rude boy. I kind of like you… In fact I think I’ll give you a little gift.”

Before Apollyon could say anything, Morgana quickly waved her hands and blasted some strange green energy right into his chest, making him stumble back a little. Satisfied that her work was complete, Morgana swiftly flew off into the night, cackling like a maniac.

Apollyon quickly lifted his shirt, trying to see if he ended up with a burn mark but found nothing. He was very confused as to what she did and would go and see the wizard tomorrow just in case. But for now he needed to lie down and sleep.

***

Seeing Apollyon quickly rush out of the saloon, Sebastian had a mix of feelings running through him. For one he was kind of shocked to hear about Apollyon’s sex life, and he was pissed at his friends for bringing all this up in the first place. He knew they were cooking up something.

Abby walked over to Sebastian and lightly hit his arm. “This is all your damn fault.”

Sebastian was stunned. “Me? What did I do?”

“You cut Apollyon off and shut him down.” She hissed. “He probably thinks your straight as an arrow too since you cut him off during a gay sex story and he even called it disgusting.”

“So just because I don’t want to hear about a guy that I kind of like fucking someone else I’m the bad guy now?”

Sam perked up when he heard that. “You like him now?”

“… As a friend.” He could feel the heat starting to rise in his cheeks. Apollyon was a strange guy for sure and he had a strange history, but he was alright looking. He still didn’t think he’d end up settling for a guy in a small town. He’d end up with a girl for sure. No point entertaining ideas that won’t come to be.

“Sure. Whatever you say.” Muttered Abby. “Still, he totally thinks you’re one of those straight assholes that act all progressive and shit but would get all disgusted if you had to undress in a locker room with a known gay.”

“Shut up Abby.” Muttered Sebastian. “You two shouldn’t have brought this shit up in the first place. You should have just left it instead of asking for context, Sam.”

“Dude, he was a participant in an orgy. I had to know the story behind that one.”

Abby sighed and shook her head. “Well this plan was a bust. Nice try Sam.”

Sebastian groaned. “Seriously? You just… You two set this up to try and get us together or something? What the hell?”

“Hey, it was a good idea.” Said Sam. “No one got drunk and you guys got to play pool. He’s a pretty good player. You should ask him over to play some more.”

“… Whatever.” He was itching for a cigarette now. With a frustrated groan he slammed the pool cue on the table and headed to the door. “From now on pool on Fridays only… And no more of your bullshit schemes.” He knew his friends meant well, but Yoba they needed to stop messing with his life.

Chapter Text

Five seconds after stepping into the Wizard’s tower and explaining his situation, Apollyon had been thrown into some kind of magic circle while the Wizard looked through different books and bottles. He ran back over and threw some gold dust over him and muttered a few words that sounded like gibberish.

“… Well whatever she did to you it won’t kill you.”

Apollyon shrugged. “Okay. As long as I don’t die I don’t mind… So I’ll just be moving along then?”

“Wait, you should talk to your mother. Let her have a proper look at you.”

“… Why?” Apollyon had no idea how the Wizard knew of his mother or her unique abilities. Plus the thought of heading back home made him feel kind of queasy.

The Wizard just scoffed at his reluctance. “Because your mother and Morgana studied the same field of arcane magic before… Anyway, I did visit you a few days after your birth and well… The less said about how that went down the better.”

“… Did you try and kill me?”

The Wizard became flustered and crossed his arms. “Child you are missing the point. You should go and see your mother… If you can get the bus working.”

“… What happened to the bus?”

“The day after you arrived when Pam came home from her shift the bus seized up and died.”

“Fantastic…” Apollyon sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Fine. Do you have a tool box?”

The Wizard shook his head. “Unfortunately I do not. Perhaps you could ask Robin? I’m sure she has a tool box or two in her place.”

Truth be told Apollyon had finally saved up enough money and material to build a chicken coop so he was going to see Robin anyway. “Um, okay. Fine. See you later I guess…” He quickly left the tower and made his way to Robin’s house via his own farm. However when he got onto his property he couldn’t help but notice a stranger in a black suit and red bowtie had wandered onto his property.

Seeing Apollyon the man adjusted his glasses and smiled almost smugly at him. “Ah, good to finally meet you. I’m sorry it took so long, but I had some managerial issues that I needed to look into. But you don’t need to know that. I am Morris. The manager of your friendly, local JojaMart.”

Upon hearing that this man was a representative of Joja, Apollyon wondered if it would be considered rude to threaten him with his hoe or axe. “Good for you.” He kicked open the wooden chest he used to store all the wood, clay, and stone he’d managed to pick up during his weeks.

Morris frowned a little, but to his credit he took it all in his stride. “Well, I came to welcome you to Pelican Town, and to offer you a JojaMart membership.”

“Sorry pal, but I don’t shop at JojaMart. I either grow what I need, trade what I need, or shop local. A mega conglomerate like Joja doesn’t need my money.” He quickly counted the number of wood and stone he had. If he was lucky he should have enough left over to make a preserves jar, or another mayonnaise machine.

The JojaMart manager seemed to be rather flustered by his blunt answer. “Well, I am sure you’ll change your tune soon enough. We are offering a discount to all new members.” He seemed to go onto full blown sales pitched mode. “Your first five purchases will be slashed to half price. And through our rewards system we can guarantee that each customer will get a twenty five percent discount at least once per season on all purchases over two thousand gold. We also give out free rewards on your birthday. Just a little bit of gratitude to show our loyal customers. So what do you say?”

Apollyon rolled his eyes. “No thanks. I don’t feel like selling my soul to Joja. Please leave me alone.”

“But it’s a fantastic offer.” Said Morris. He seemed to be taking on a more aggressive sales pitch now. “Please do consider it. I’ll slash the joining fee. Drop it from five thousand, to two thousand five hundred gold instead. What do you say? It’s a very good deal.”

Now Apollyon was starting to get annoyed. “Look, I am a farmer and I have things to do. Okay?”

“… Well if you change your mind, which I am sure you will, I will be at your local JojaMart, north of the blacksmith’s place. As a gesture of goodwill, let me leave you a flyer.”

Apollyon snatched it out of his hand and shredded it in front of his face. Noticing the horrified expression on the Joja rep’s face made his lips twist into a sinister sneer. “Get the fuck off my property before I slice up and threw you off piece by bloody fucking piece.”

Pretty much all the colour drained from Morris’s face and he bolted off the farm. Watching the fearful man run as fast as he could, which looked more like a fast waddle, it made Apollyon laugh. He looked pathetic. It was a spiteful and malicious laugh. Something he hadn’t done in a long time, but he didn’t care. He just grabbed what he needed and walked off to Robin’s house.

He happily pushed open the door and grinned at the red head behind the counter. “Morning Robin.”

She smiled back at him. “Morning Apollyon. Come for some materials? Need me to make a building?”

“Yep. I’m after a chicken coop, and a favour.”

“A favour?” Robin quickly ducked under her desk and pulled up plans for the chicken coop. “What kind?”

“I need a tool box. I’m going to try and fix the bus.”

Robin’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Really? That’s wonderful. Let’s get your coop sorted out first. Now, we’ll start with a standard one. Big enough for four little chooks. I think it’ll be good for a first time farmer. You can upgrade it later on if you like.”

“Sounds fantastic to me.”

“I’ll get started on it tomorrow. Now, follow me.” She happily led Apollyon out to the garage. As she looked around for it, Apollyon looked around too.

It was a typical garage, nothing crazy was in there, which surprised him. He expected some crazy machinery here and there because Demetrius and Maru seemed to make all kinds of science things. The major thing of note to him was what looked like what could possibly be a bike covered in black and blue bike cover. He wondered whose it was and if it was fully functioning or just a hobby piece.

“That’s Sebby’s.” Said Robin.

“Huh?”

“The bike. It’s Sebastian’s.” She found a tool box and quickly looked through it to make sure all the tools were in it. “He takes it out at least once a week. I’d rather he bought a car, but he’s his own man.” She handed over the tool box and smiled happily. “Here you go. Good luck with the bus. Bring it back when you’re done. Okay?”

Apollyon nodded and happily took the tool box from her. “Thanks. I’ll see you at my place tomorrow.”

***

The Juminos had once again congregated in the community center to talk about the farmer and the witch. Things were never good when the witch passed through and cursed things. While the Junimos were practically immune to her magic they still didn’t like what her magic did to everyone else.

“She’s so spooky!” Whimpered Yellow. “What if she hurt the farmer? That would be bad! Bad! Bad! No good at all!”

The Junimos flailed at the thought. Blue stood up and flailed around a stick. “This is bad! But the witch didn’t make the farmer’s skin change colour.”

“But he threatened to cut up the evil one! That doesn’t sound very heroic.” Said Orange. “… Also, has anyone seen Red or Purple? I haven’t seen them for a while…”

The Junimos looked at each other, all confused. Several of them shrugged and a few other Junimo just giggled. Suddenly the door burst open and the two Junimo walked in. Red and Purple looked exhausted and had long beards on their faces.

“What day is it?!” Cried Red. “We’ve been stuck under the smoking ones bed for years I tell you! Years!”

Purple nodded and lied down on the floor. “We have seen things… Things no Junimo was meant to see and hear and see and hear…”

Green pouted and crossed their arms. “You guys were gone for like a week. Calm down you dummies, and get rid of those dust beards. You two look silly.”

Purple flailed. “But we saw things! Things on that magic screen box! Mostly lines and circles, but sometimes people putting things in other people! I do not understand! I don’t! I don’t! And were the people in pain? Humans are scary! I choose to abort this damn mission to get the farmer a partner!”

Green shook their head. “Anyway, your mission was to see if you could find anyone that could be the farmer’s partner. Did you find anything out before you chickened out?”

Red sighed a little and whiled the dust beard off their chin. “Well, as far as I know it seems the like the spiky blond and the purple haired ones think that the smoking one is a good partner for the farmer… But he doesn’t really seem to have the skills to help on a farm… I don’t know. I was too busy trying to make sure that Purple wasn’t too traumatized.”

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…”

“We know you are traumatized Purple. Calm down.”

Green tapped their foot on the ground for a few moments as they were making up their mind. They quickly grabbed their bow and quiver they had crafted out of some little bits and bobs they found, along with a bunch of toothpick arrows, and quickly headed to a hole in the wall.

“And where do you think you are going?” Asked White. They leaned heavily on their walking stick as they hobbled after Green.

“I’m going to find the farmer and see if I can talk to them. Failing that I will talk to the Wizard and get his help. The farmer needs a partner to help him and if the smoking one is the right one we might need a little something to speed things up.”

White sighed heavily. “Oh young Junimo… While your intentions are good I don’t know if this is such a good idea. With the farmer being what he is and all it might be for the best that he doesn’t find a partner… No human should end up with that. The end result could end in disaster…”

Green pouted. “I don’t think that the farmer is a bad person. They can’t help it that they were randomly dragged here anymore than we could have helped being born. The farmer deserves someone to help them look after the farm. It’s too much for just one person to bear. I want the farm to stay around longer than it did with their grandfather, so I am gonna do my best to help them. That what we Junimo do, right?” Before White could say anymore, Green quickly scurried off and made their way over to Hellfire farm.

***

Apollyon had been staring at the bus engine for about twenty minutes and still had no idea what he needed to do. Sure he had changed the oil and checked the spark plugs but that was the extent of his car knowledge. He considered just giving up and asking his mum to come over, but if she did happen to agree to do that she would bring along his step dad. Something he wanted to avoid.

Not really knowing what to do, Apollyon grabbed the wrench and lightly tapped around the engine. He couldn’t hear anything rattling and if sounded hollow. So that was good. Right? He had no idea. “… Is there a fucking manual for this thing lying around? For fuck’s sake…”

Suddenly Green popped up waving a toothpick around. “Pip! Pip! Briiiiiii!” It squealed.

Apollyon picked up the screwdriver and tried to push it away with the handle. “Get lost you apple fuck. I’m busy.”

Green grabbed hold of the handle and shook their body. “Nuuuuuuuu!”

“... Oh fuck, I’m starting to understand you…” He attempted to get Green off the handle as soon as possible. “Let go and fuck off. Go on. Piss off.”

“Nuuuuuuuu!” Squealed Green. “Hewp fwend! Hewp!”

Apollyon groaned a little and shook his head. He didn’t want to understand these things. Curse his ability to understand languages quickly. He didn’t want to understand the Junimos. He just wanted them to leave him alone.

Suddenly a rather despicable thought entered his mind; he could get a JojaMart membership. If he did that then Lewis would have to sell the community center. That way he’d be rid of the Junimo’s annoying presence forever. Even if it meant selling what little shreds of humanity he had left to Joja it might be worth it to be free of them.

“Mi ick! Mi ick!” Cried the Junimo in despair, snapping Apollyon out of his disgraceful fantasy. The Junimo had dropped the stick it was waving about into the engine and was reaching down trying to grab it. It was kind of amazing how helpless a supposedly powerful being could be in the blink of an eye.

Sighing a little, Apollyon reached onto the engine and easily grabbed the stick and gave it back to Green. “Here… Don’t drop it again.” Those things were stupid but they didn’t deserve to get kicked out of the community center.

Green happily took it and put the stick back into the quiver. “Fwank ooo!” Suddenly Green looked over to the path and ran away. This left Apollyon confused for a moment until he heard the distinct sounds of someone running along the path. Much to his surprise he saw Sebastian running by towards his farm. His body was not built for running.

“Um, Sebastian?”

He quickly stopped and walked over towards Apollyon, he looked a little flustered and kind of exhausted. “Wrench.” He puffed. “Now… Please.”

Apollyon stared at Sebastian for a moment as the feelings of shame and disgust started to swell up deep within his guts. Normally he would have just given Sebastian the tool box and left it at that, but today he didn’t seem to have much of a filter between his brain and his mouth.

He smirked a little and leaned against the bus. “Well, well, well, didn’t think you’d be talking to me anytime soon.”

“… What? Look can I just have my tool box back? It’s mine. It wasn’t my mums to give away.”

“Bet you and your friends had a good fucking laugh behind my back, huh? New guy in town, not straight as a fucking ramp like everyone else around here. You three fuckers were probably laughing behind my back huh? Just digging up whatever stupid and dumb stories for more things to laugh about? Fuck off. I’ll give you back the fucking tool box when I’m good and ready.” He didn’t really know where this hate was coming from, but he had to admit it was kind of cathartic to be hatful to someone, and it wasn’t like he didn’t deserve it. Sebastian made him feel like shit.

Sebastian looked kind of ashamed. “… We weren’t making fun of you behind your back… I just don’t like hearing sex stories from people. Okay? And none of us care who you fucked in the past. Sam and Abigail were just…”

“Just?”

“… They were asking those kinds of questions because they are idiots and um… They wanted to see if you were gay…”

“Why the fuck would they do that?”

Sebastian blushed a little and sighed. “Okay, look, I’m gay. As far as we know the only gay guy in town. Those two wanted to know if you were gay and then try to get us together. They are stupid like that… I didn’t mean to make you feel like shit.”

“… Oh. So they kept asking about my sex life after I said I was pan because?”

“Eh, I think Sam’s bi curious and Abigail knows that if she asks you that kind of stuff around me it’ll piss me off… Or they were trying to convince me that you really would go for dick or something… Do you know what’s wrong with the bus?”

“Nope. Not a clue. If I had a manual I might be able to but… You wanted a wrench right?”

“Yeah…” He walked over to the tool box and quickly looked through it, quickly finding the tool he was after. “So why are you trying to fix the bus anyway?”

“… I want to go and see my mum soon. Can’t do that if I can’t even catch a bus… I don’t even have a driver’s license so I can’t even ask Lewis if I can borrow his truck for a day.”

“… Seriously?”

Apollyon shrugged. “I lived right next to public transport and my mum and step dad didn’t have much time to teach me how to drive… So it’s either fix the bus or walk… or hitchhike… and I am really against hitchhiking…” Too many horror stories about people getting murdered, kidnapped, raped, or all three to make him consider it.

Sebastian nodded a little as he looked down at the wrench in his hands, slowly turning it around in his hands. “… If you really need to get to your mum’s I’m going into the city in a few days. I have a bike part I need to pick up. You good with motorbikes?”

“Never ridden on one but I think they’re cool.”

“Cool. I’ll double check when the part’s meant to come in and let you know. Good luck with the bus.” He quickly left, still turning the wrench in his hands.

Once Sebastain was gone Green quickly climbed back into view and waved happily at Apollyon. “Fwend?”

“Yes?”

Green gestured to where Sebastian was standing moments before. “Nu! He famer fwend?”

“Oh Sebastian? I guess… I don’t know… Maybe.” He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He liked hanging out with those three, but couldn’t help but feel upset at them for making him feel like shit. But he was sure he was going to forgive them after a few days. Probably. “Anyway, you have any idea how to fix a bus?”

“Owld!”

“Old?”

“Nu! Owld!” Green jumped onto the ground and drew a coin in the dirt. “Owld!”

“… I can’t pay a mechanic to fix this. There isn’t one in Pelican Town.”

Green pouted and stamped their foot. “Nu! Gimme owld! Gimmie owld an bws wiwl go!”

“… Are you saying I need to give you little apple bastards my gold to complete one of your damn bundles?” Green bounced up and down as if it was nodding. Apollyon grabbed the screwdriver and did his best not to throw it at the Junimo. “Are you fucking kidding me? You little shits are making me pay to fix the fucking bus?” The Junimos were a stupid and evil race of forest spirits.

Chapter Text

Apollyon had tried several times to call his mum to let her know that he was heading over soon, but she wasn’t picking up. He texted her and hoped that would be enough. It probably wouldn’t be, but he could always live in hope. A day after Robin had finished his chicken coop was the day that he and Sebastian were going to head into the city.

He waited by the broken bus and watched in mild annoyance as the Junimos danced around on top of the bus. He had to wonder if these things were hanging around just to see if he could fix the bus. Green was there and waving at him while others like Blue and Orange were marching around, like they were on patrol waiting for something to attack. Probably Goblin.

The sudden rev of a motor made the Junimos jump. Apollyon just watched as Sebastian pulled up on his motorbike and tossed a helmet at him. “Get on.”

“Yeah, yeah. Give me a second. Don’t you need to know where my folks live?”

“Bike part first, parents second.”

“Whatever.” Apollyon threw his leg over the bike and adjusted himself accordingly. “… Where do I put my hands?”

“If you have good balance on your lap. If you don’t then I guess my hips or something…”

“…” A small smirk made its way onto Apollyon’s lips as he shimmied forward, making sure his hips were pressed firmly up against his backside as he let his hands firmly grip his sides. He couldn’t help but chuckle a little when he felt Sebastian tense up under his touches. “What? Too close for you?”

“It’s fine…” He revved the engine and quickly took off.

Apollyon held onto him a little tighter at this point. There was something to be said about hurtling down the highway at what felt like a million miles an hour on the back of a vehicle that had no doors or windows. It would either fill your mind with worry or clear it all together.

For Apollyon it seemed to clear his mind and for a brief moments he questioned his bitter attitude over the past few days. It wasn’t like him, but it somehow felt kind of fun. It sent a chill up his spine. When he was younger he had intense feelings of sadism. It was fun to play with people and leave them feeling broken and wondering why it happened to them, but that was years ago. He didn’t want to go back to that way of thinking.

Suddenly Sebastian pulled into some place and jolted Apollyon back into reality. It seened at though not only did Apollyon’s head clear but he lost all sense of time. He let Sebastian go and watched him slip off the bike and remove his helmet. Some of his hair stuck to the sweat on his forehead that he quickly tried to fix by running his fingers through his hair.

“I’ll be out in a second. Just wait here.” He quickly disappeared inside.

Apollyon watched him go, his eyes immediately drawn down his back and to his ass. Those skinny jeans were doing wonders for him. He’d probably look even better if he didn’t wear that baggy hoodie. He’d look sexy in a tight shirt.

“… What the hell am I thinking?” He shook his head and frowned. Now he was thinking perverted thoughts along with being abnormally aggressive? If there wasn’t some weird magic thing going on he was going to need to get his hormones tested. His testosterone levels were probably going through the roof.

It kind of made sense now that he was thinking about it. The last time he felt this way was when he his puberty. Those years were really rough on everyone. Especially any inanimate object that happened to be within his grasp. His rage always won out when he was younger.

As he pondered this Sebastian came back out with some weird metal part. Obviously whatever he ordered. He dumped it into one of the side bags on the bike. “So where do your parents live?”

“…” He thought about telling him, but the need to be needlessly cruel and to make Sebastian uncomfortable. “What’s the rush? We could always do something else first.” He stepped a little closer to him, but Sebastian quickly put his hand up against Apollyon’s chest.

“Just tell me where your parents live or I’ll leave your dumb ass here. Have fun hitchhiking back.”

Apollyon was a little surprised by that, but he appreciated it. He liked it when people fought back a bit. He had a feeling it was his sadistic side starting to show through again, but he didn’t mind. “No need to get pissy with me. They live on twenty three Greenway drive. It’s a street just off Hazel road.”

“Alright.” Sebastian put his helmet back on and the two started their drive. It wasn’t too hard to find Hazel road. It was a main road after all, but Sebastian did accidentally miss the turn off onto Greenway drive. It was easy to miss. One of those tiny streets seemingly tucked away from the rest of the road.

Eventually though they did make their way there and pulled up infront of house twenty three. It was just some none descript two story house with a white picket fence and a flowerbed. Out the front by the door was a man smoking a cigarette. He had a five o’clock shadow painted across his face and a scar that cut through his bottom lip. He seemed annoyed to see the two of them or at least Apollyon. “Apollyon.” He grunted.

Apollyon was used to this kind of attitude from him. “Colt. How’s mum?”

“Liz’s fine.” He looked over at Sebastian. “Who’s that?”

“A friend.”

Colt looked at the two of them suspiciously. “Just a friend? Nothing going on between you two?”

Ah yes, his step dad was just as annoying as he remembered. “No. Am I not allowed to have friends now?”

“It’s never just friends with you.” Said Colt in an accusatory manner. “You find people, play with them for a few days and then leave them for dead. Last time quite literally if I remember correctly, you fucked his face up real good.”

Apollyon clenched his jaw. He knew Colt was just trying to bait him. He always did this. But he wasn’t going to play along with this. Not today. “Hey, didn’t the police say the same guy I almost killed was wanted for like three counts of sexual assault and one count of rape? Pretty sure I did the world a favour with that one.”

Colt pursed his lips and blew some smoke out his nose. “I’ll give you that one. However, still doesn’t change the fact you obviously have an ulterior motive.” He glanced at Sebastian. “Keep your wits about you kid. This monster is the kind of freak that’ll take everything you give him and then some. He loves hurting people.”

He could feel his blood boiling now. Colt had always been a bastard. He never had a kind word to say to him and would happily tell anyone and everyone about how he was such a horrible and disturbed individual. Trying to fight back and defend himself would just add fuel to his argument that he was a bad seed.

“Is mum home?”

Almost as if she heard him, a woman in a long green dress opened the door and practically threw herself at Apollyon, embracing him in a hug. “Baby bean! You’re home! How are you? Have you been well? Is farm life too hard?”

He felt his anger quell slightly as he embraced his mother. “I’m doing pretty well. Farming’s been fun.”

She looked over his shoulder and spotted Sebastian. The man had kind of just stood back and let the scene unfold in front of him. “Oh, who is this? If you’re a customer I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Apollyon stepped aside and gestured to the raven haired man. “He isn’t a customer. Mum this is my friend Sebastian. Sebastian this is my mum, Elizabeth. She is reads fortunes for a living.”

Sebastian nodded a little, giving her a slight wave. “Hey.” He looked nervous and uncomfortable to be here. It wasn’t like Apollyon could blame him. His family was messed up. He was starting to think that maybe he should have just paid a ridiculously high taxi fare instead of roping Sebastian into this.

Elizabeth smiled brightly and went over to him, happily shaking his hands. “It’s wonderful to meet you. It’s always a pleasure to meet someone with a green aura.” She looked over at Apollyon and grinned. “You don’t tend to be around such hard workers baby bean. I can see good things in the future for him.”

Seeing Sebastian’s bemused expression, Apollyon decided he’d be nice and save him. “Mum. He’s not like you. Sebastian doesn’t see auras. I don’t think he’s even into magic stuff.”

She seemed confused. “Oh, but why did you bring him over?”

“He’s my ride.”

Elizabeth nodded knowingly. “I see. You two are welcome inside. Apollyon, back room dear. We’ll talk there.”

“Sure.” He gestured for Sebastian to follow and they walked into the house, leaving Colt outside. Good. He was glad that Colt didn’t bother following them in. He always rubbed him the wrong way. He had no idea what his mother saw in him, but he tolerated the man for her. The house hadn’t changed at all. It was still covered in crystals and all kinds of occult stuff. Some of it made his skin crawl but those items were very few and far between.

She smiled at the two of them and gestured to the couch. “Sebastian, if you like you may sit here. If you want to smoke please go outside. Apollyon and I have a few things to talk about so we’ll be in the room over there.” She gestured to a door with a star chart hanging off it. “But please make yourself at home. Come on Apollyon.” She walked into the room.

Apollyon sighed a little and ran his fingers through his hair. “Look, sorry about my mum. She’s a little weird, and Colt… He hates me. Don’t take anything he says seriously. Okay?”

“Um, sure…” Sebastian sat on the couch and awkwardly looked around. He seemed so out of place and unsure what to do.

For a moment he wondered what Sebastian would look like spread out and blushing underneath him on that old threadbare couch. Would he even allow it? Maybe he’d push him off and hit him? It would be interesting to see his reaction, but now was not the time for that.

He walked into the room his mother was in and sat down on a comfortable chair across from his mother’s extravagant peacock style chair. This room was where she did most of her fortune telling’s and tarot card readings. It was a very nice set her mother had inherited from a woman called Welwick. He’d seen her several times on TV telling the general fortune for the day.

But there was no time to think about that. His mother had dropped her happy demeanor and took on a more serious tone. “Apollyon, what’s happened to you? I can sense a growing wickedness in you that I find rather disturbing.”

“I got cursed by Morgana.” He said calmly. “The Wizard that lives in Pelican Town said that you two studied the same kind of magic and you might be able to help me… Mum, it feels like I’m going through puberty again… Minus the new hair growth, getting taller, and all that other hormonal stuff.”

She pursed her lips together as she thought. “That is odd… Apollyon, baby bean, have you been thinking about doing immoral things? You know, those kinds of things?”

Apollyon couldn’t help but let out a slightly embarrassed chuckle. “Really mum? I’m an adult with needs.”

“… You can say sex or fucking.” Said Elizabeth. “And I wasn’t talking about that stuff. I’ve never cared who you have sex with as long as it’s consensual, above the age of consent, not an animal, and you use protection. I’m talking more about the whole murder thing.”

“Oh…” Technically he had thought about hurting people, like Morris, but he didn’t feel like he would have actually acted upon them. He also wondered if threatening the Junimos would count. “Kind of?”

She looked disappointed to hear that, and that made Apollyon’s heart sink. She was the one person alive that he didn’t want to disappoint. Everyone else could rot for all he cared but this was his mother. He had to try and explain himself. She had to understand when he was going through.

“Junimos have decided I’m some hero of Pelican Town and are making me give them offerings to fix up a building. They annoy me.”

It took a moment for Elizabeth to process what her son just said, but once she did, she broke into a huge smile. “That’s wonderful news! The Junimos tend to have an either chaotic good or neutral good alignment according to human interpretation. I guess that explains why your aura’s started to become a little brighter these days too.”

“I guess… Anyway, getting back on topic, Morgana did something to me.”

“Right, right… Give me a few moments…” She quickly went over to her bookshelf and started to pull out a few books, quickly flipping through them. “So how is Pelican Town? Still milling along?”

“Yeah, it’s just doing its own thing. It’s peaceful.” Apollyon kind of appreciated that his mum was making light conversation as she worked. It would have worried him otherwise.

Elizabeth nodded a little and put the books down and started to look through her crystals and gathering her chicken bones. “I see… so are there many single people? What about that Sebastian fellow you brought over? Are you two a thing?”

“Mum…” He groaned. “Just stay out of it okay? He’s just a friend. I’ll admit he’s cute but I really couldn’t care less.” Though he said that he knew it was kind of a lie. He had an interest in Sebastian’s body, but that was no real surprise. He looked good to him as did most of the young single men and women of Pelican Town. If the opportunity came around and any of them were interested in screwing with him he wasn’t going to say no.

“Sorry, sorry.” She came back over with her crystals and started to place them around the table. “You know me, I just want to make sure you are in a happy and healthy relationship… No matter how brief it may be…”

Apollyon appreciated the gesture, but he knew this was an empty gesture. He was not made for long term relationships. One night stands or fuck buddies suited him better than that. The possibility of him finding someone who could love him enough to want to marry him instead of running in the opposite direction was practically impossible.

As he mulled over his own nonexistent romantic situation his mum made a knowing sound, like she had just figured something out. Hopefully it was what was wrong with him. She didn’t look too pleased. She was glaring at her crystals, almost frustrated with everything that was happening.

He was almost afraid to ask, but he had to. “… What did Morgana do to me?”

“You should work a lot harder on the farm. Maybe spend most of your days building things like fences and-”

“Mum!” He snarled. “Do you know what is happening to me or don’t you? If not I’ll just leave.”

The older woman looked hurt for a moment before she shifted in her seat, her body sagging in defeat. “From what you have told me and from what I know of Morgana whatever spell she cast on you it seems like it’s drawing out your negative emotions. The things you’ve tried so hard to keep in check… There isn’t much I can do for you now. You have to let this kind of magic run its course… Is there anything you can do to let your frustrations out?”

Apollyon sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Well there are these mines with monsters in them… I’ve been trying very hard not to get my ass kicked by the monsters in them… I guess I could kill some of those… And I guess I could pay a prostitute for the sexual frustrations?”

She pursed her lips upon hearing her son talk about prostitutes. “Apollyon, I know you’re going to do what you wish with your body and money so I won’t argue with you about that, but I highly doubt Pelican Town has prostitutes.”

“… Point taken.” That settled it. Apollyon was going to spend all his money getting a good internet connection, tissues and lube. His next few days were going to be spent either killing things or locked up in his home.

“… So is your relationship with Sebastian just as friends? He has a good aura so I wouldn’t object to him liking you, however with your given history. You liking him…” She was always poking around when he told her to drop it. Especially when she could sense a strong aura coming from them.

He chuckled slightly and shook his head. “I know mum. Sebastian’s a good guy, but we’re just friends. Besides, I wouldn’t let him get close to me like that. I won’t let anyone get close to me…”

“Baby bean…” She walked over and hugged him tightly. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…”

He smiled sadly and hugged her back. “It’s okay mum… It’s not your fault.”

***

It was taking a while for Apollyon to finish his talk with his mum and Sebastian was starting to get a little antsy. Things had been very strange today with Apollyon. He still seemed pissed off at him for the other day and who could blame him? He’d probably feel like complete shit if he thought the people he trusted thought he was disgusting.

Maybe Apollyon was getting back at him a little by being just that little more hands on with him than he probably normally would have on the bike? It seemed to make sense, kind of. He was probably just teasing the fuck out of him because he was gay. It was petty and childish, but things could have been worse. It could have just been he was nervous and slightly anxious about this trip.

He also needed to figure out why he had come out to the other in the first place. Sure Apollyon was surprised but didn’t act like it was a big deal, which he was thankful for, but still, to just come out and say it. It was strange for the usually introverted man. Maybe it was his hurt and bitter expression when they had their misunderstanding? Or maybe it was Abby and Sam guilt tripping him into being nicer to the farmer? Either way here was here now, and in Apollyon’s family home no less.

He was stressed. He needed a cigarette. He took the packet out of his pocket and stepped outside. Colt was still out there smoking away. Sebastian didn’t want anything to do with him. From the icy interaction he had with Apollyon he did not seem like someone to be trusted.

The older man paid Sebastian hardly any notice as he stood near him and fumbled with his own cigarette. He quickly patted himself down, searching for his lighter, only to groan in annoyance when he realized that he left it at home.

Colt chuckled and held his lighter out to Sebastian without even looking at him. “Here.”

“… Thanks.” He took it from the man and quickly lit up and passed it back.

The two men stood in silence for a bit before Colt spoke up. “You know, whatever your relationship is with Apollyon you’d better cut ties with him and distance yourself from him. Something like that… No one deserves to be tied to that in any form.”

The way he spoke about Apollyon made Sebastian feel uneasy. “Why do you have to be so hard on him? He’s just a guy doing his best.”

Colt let out a bitter chuckle. “Just a guy huh? Kid, if you think Apollyon is just a normal human being you’re going to be disappointed.” He took a quick puff from his cigarette and slowly blew a stream of smoke out of his mouth. “You’re not like us. I could tell from the second I saw you. You don’t have the sight. You ain’t no magic user. You’re one of those assholes that only believe in what you’ve defined fact.”

He couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Apollyon’s mum was a fortune teller and then this man obviously believed in all that junk too. “So? What does it matter?”

“It matters quite a fair bit. You’re not going to believe me when I tell you the truth, but I think it would be piss poor of me to not warn you about the sick bastard you’re all buddied up to.” He pursed his lips together as he thought of what to say next. “You know what demons are, right?”

“Who doesn’t?”

Colt grinned. “Well there are all kinds of demons and spirits that reside in this existence as well as the Yoba plane and the Void. Now what most people don’t realize is that not all spirits are demons and not all demons are spirits. There’s some overlay, but that all depends on your perspective. A very important thing for a lot of magic folk is our names. Names are power and that power can be used to do all kinds of horrible things to a body.”

“Right…” Sebastian was very quickly starting to think that this man was a little crazy, or at the very least this conversation was going to quickly spiral into insanity. He could see another reason why Apollyon wasn’t very fond of him.

Colt didn’t seem to notice Sebastian’s distain and continued talking. “So most magic folk either give their kid an obscure name that’s hard to spell, a name with power, a name with meaning, or a name given by the voices beyond our reality.” He took another puff from his cigarette and looked over at Sebastian. “You know how Apollyon got his name?”

Sebastian shook his head. “I don’t really care too much about names…”

The older man laughed and scratched his chin. “Well you’re in for a treat. It all starts a few months before the little shit is born. You see, the story behind the conception’s no mystery. Elizabeth wasn’t the most pure and innocent woman in her youth and got knocked up. Nothing supernatural about that. The real kicker comes when nature decided to be a cruel bitch and kill her baby in the womb.”

Sebastian gave him a confused look. He didn’t really know what Colt was talking about. So Elizabeth had a miscarriage? A still birth? Those things happened sometimes. He failed to see what that had to do with Apollyon.

Noticing his confusion Colt continued. “She was living with her grandfather at the time on that farm when she miscarried. Now that was bad enough. If she was any normal woman living with any normal parents that would have been the end of it. She’d burry the baby, grieve and move on… But like I said she ain’t no normal woman. A laps in sanity caused by a mother’s grief and the love of a father for his daughter… Those two brought something into the world that not even Yoba could love.”

Sebastian was really hoping for the sake of his own sanity that this wasn’t going to turn into an incest story. “What happened?”

Colt shrugged. “Elizabeth was sketchy on the details, but her and her old man used very dark arcane magic to bring that dead baby back to life. From what I understand they somehow managed to reach into the Void and forcibly graft an entity from a world of darkness into a corpse. After the process was complete Elizabeth and her old man apparently heard a name rumbling through the Void, loud enough to slip into our reality; Apollyon.”

“… You really had me going there for a moment. Thought you were going to say something interesting, but I guess you just like telling weird stories.” Colt was kind of creeping him out at this point. All he wanted to do was quickly finish his cigarette and get back inside.”

“Too fanciful for you or something?” Asked Colt. He didn’t seem surprised. Just kind of bored. “Apollyon is another name for Abaddon. The ruler of the abyss and the king of demonic locusts. The destroyer.” He chuckled a little. “Believe me or not but Apollyon is a demon. If you get involved with him anymore than you already are you’ll die or worse.”

Chapter Text

Elizabeth had insisted the pair stay for dinner, but thankfully Apollyon quickly declined the offer. He said they needed to get back to Pelican Town but Sebastian was pretty sure he just didn’t want to stay around his parents any longer. Especially since he asked Sebastian if he wanted to go to any pubs or bars before they left.

Sebastian drove them to the pool hall he and Sam usually went to when they went to into Zuzu together. It wasn’t a dive, but it wasn’t exactly pristine either. Apollyon didn’t seem to mind and made his way over to the bar and got himself a beer. He quickly downed it and got another, repeating the same action.

“… Are you trying to get drunk?” He asked Apollyon as he got his own drink.

Apollyon just chuckled and shook his head. “Look, I didn’t exactly have a fun talk with my mum. Let me have this. Plus I don’t get drunk easily remember? You and your friends got pissed and I was able to walk home and get up at six in the morning.”

“Right…” He didn’t know what to say at this point. He kind of wanted to talk about what Colt had said to him. Try and get some clarification, maybe joke about the absurdity of it all. But it didn’t seem like the right time. “Want to play some pool while we’re here?”

“… Sure. Get a table.”

Sebastian went and got a table near the back of the room. He watched Apollyon get another beer and slowly make his way over to the table. Although Apollyon didn’t seem to get drunk very easily he still didn’t want to worry about him being unable to hold onto him on the way back.

“Maybe you should make that your last one for the moment.”

Apollyon shrugged and set up the pool balls. “I’m not going to get drunk if that’s what you’re worried about. But if you’re that much of a whiny bitch about it I’ll fork out the gold to get a cab back to Pelican Town.”

Sebastian scowled a little as he went to break. “Did your talk with you mum really go that badly?”

“… Yeah. I got some annoying news. It just boils down to things are going to get worse before they get better.” He grabbed a cue and waited for his turn to play.

Being slightly concerned for Apollyon made Sebastian falter a little in his game, but he managed to sink two balls before he messed up and Apollyon took his turn. He would have thought his hand eye coordination would have been slightly off, but he seemed fine. It was kind of strange to say the least. Maybe in a few minutes the alcohol would finally affect him. Just as Apollyon was about to take his shot a hand reached down and swiped the white ball off the table.

“The fuck?” Growled Apollyon as he glared at the man that did it.

The man in question looked rather normal. Just some average guy with some non-descript hair cut wearing nothing that would make him stand out. Sebastian would have just told him to give back the ball and piss off, however Apollyon seemed to know this person and they seemed to know him.

“Gadreel.”

“Apollyon. Fancy seeing you out here. Been a few years.”

Apollyon rolled his eyes and pushed Gadreel away. “What the fuck do you want? I’ve had a shit day today and I don’t want to deal with your shit too, okay?”

Gadreel laughed, easily turning his attention to Sebastian. “Hey there. I’m Gadreel. Apollyon and I were in school together for a while. Nice to meet you.” He reached out to shake his hand, and Sebastian would have obliged if Apollyon didn’t swat Gadreel’s hand away with his pool cue. He didn’t seem amused in the slightest. Gadreel just smiled. “I see he still has a bad temper. Some things never change.”

“Gadreel, fuck off.” He growled, baring his teeth in an animalistic way. “I fucking mean it.”

The man just ignored Apollyon’s threats and went back to talking with Sebastian. “You better keep that one on a leash. He’s got a pretty nasty bite.” He looked over at Apollyon and smiled sweetly. “Didn’t you fight the gym teacher back in high school and get expelled?”

“I was changing schools anyway and I was tired of his bullshit.” Growled Apollyon. “Now piss off. You’re annoying us.”

The man sighed a little, but finally relented. “Okay fine, you win Apollyon. Hopefully you’ll be in higher spirits next time.” He took the long way around the table and said something in hushed tones to Apollyon before he left. Whatever he said it seemed to annoy him.

Once he was out of ear shot Apollyon sighed. “Sorry about that. Gadreel was a cocky little fuck in high school and it looks like he still is. He has a way of getting under my skin and pissing me off… If he’s like a regular around here just try and ignore him. He’s an asshole.”

“Huh… Okay.” There seemed to be more to the story but Sebastian didn’t want to probe just at the moment. They continued with the game for a few more minutes before Apollyon put the cue down and quickly finished off his drink. Tonight he’d be giving Shane a run for his money.

“Gonna go take a piss. I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Okay…” Sebastian watched closely as Apollyon slipped towards the bathroom, but then quickly ducked out the back door. He had no idea what he was up to.

***

Gadreel. Of all the people in the world it had to be Gadreel. While it was true that the man had been a little shit in high school, he was also a real pain in the ass for Apollyon since he was actually quite an adept magic user. That had made his life a special kind of hell growing up. They had met a few times after school was over for the two of them and it was never pleasant and either of them.

Gadreel had been waiting for Apollyon out in the alley between the pool hall and some pawn broker’s shop. He smiled happily at him with that horribly fake smile that everyone in Zuzu city seemed to have.

“I must admit I didn’t expect to see a demon like you around.” He said. “You kind of just vanished for a while. Were you laying low?”

“Kind of. I went into hiding for a while to get you magic fuckers off my back.” Growled Apollyon. “I had better things to do than to worry about one of you guys jumping down and trying to murder me or kidnap me for some fucked up ritual.”

“Fair enough. And the guy you’re with?”

“He doesn’t know anything. He’s just a guy I know. Leave him alone.”

Gadreel chuckled at that. “Really? He seems like he would be your type, some emo kid drawn to the dark arts. Oh well, doesn’t matter. I’ll just see what he knows after I’ve dealt with you. One more demon off the streets.”

Apollyon growled and pulled the first thing out of his pocket and threw it at him. It happened to be a toothpick, but it still managed to leave a small cut on the other man’s cheek. “Fuck off. I might be a demon but I really don’t give a fuck about what you humans do. I just want to live my life. Now beat it. I have shit to do.” He turned and went to go back into the hall and almost immediately felt a sharp pain in his shoulder. Reaching around he pulled out the toothpick he threw at Gadreel.

“You should know better than to turn your back on a magic user, Apollyon.”

“I know. That’s why I didn’t. I’m right behind you.” Apollyon looked over his shoulder just in time to see Gadreel turn around. This gave Apollyon just enough time to spin around and kick him in the head, sending him crashing into the trash. “Psych bitch. I can’t do that shadow trick stuff.”

Gadreel groaned and rubbed his face. “Steel capped boots? Really?”

“Yep.” He pressed his foot into Gadreel’s chest and relished in the realization of how easy it would be for him to just press down with a little bit of force and push his foot all the way through his sternum to crush his spine. It would be easy, but he wasn’t that kind of creature. At least for now. “Now leave me alone Gadreel. I’m not in the mood.”

Gadreel was quiet for a moment, weighing up his options. Thankfully he seemed to know when to back down. “Okay Apollyon. You obviously aren’t as weak as I assumed you were. Guess I’ll have to try harder next time.”

His cocky attitude really pissed Apollyon off. He slowly started to press down harder on Gadreel’s chest, stopping only when he could start to feel the bones bow. “There isn’t going to be a next time. I’m not coming back here after tonight. If I ever see you or any of your other magic hit men I’m not going to hold back. I’ll make you regret trying to kill me.”

“I doubt it. But you do you Polly.”

Apollyon glared at him for a moment and kicked Gadreel in the face, knocking him the fuck out. Satisfied with this, he dusted himself off and went back inside. Sebastian was still inside and by the pool table. He walked over and grabbed his cue. “My turn yet?”

“Sure…” He looked worried. “So you just went to the bathroom when you clearly went out the backdoor? What did you do? Go out the back and beat that Gadreel guy to a pulp or something?”

“Something like that.” He bent over the table and lined up his next shot. It was going to be a little hard but he was going to do it.

“… Seriously? You beat him up?”

“Relax Seb. I just roughed him up a little. I told you his was a shit head, right?” He tried and failed to make the shot. “I wasn’t exactly quiet about my sexual preferences in high school and well, I’m surprised he called me by my name and not fag lord or something along those lines.” Hopefully this lie would be enough to keep Sebastian satisfied for the moment. “We should probably head off soon.”

“Yeah, no shit. He might call the cops or something.” Sebastian quickly grabbed Apollyon by the arm and dragged him out. Not that Apollyon minded too much. It was kind of funny being man handled by a smaller man like this but he couldn’t be bothered to protest. As they left, Apollyon took one last look down the alley to see if Gadreel was going to suddenly come after them. At the moment they seemed good.

On the drive home he wondered if he should continue the way he had been. Not just with Sebastian but with the rest of the town. With his unfortunate magical condition and his increasing violent thoughts he’d probably have to try and distance himself for a while. At least until the magic had run its course like his mum had told him. That wouldn’t be too hard. He kind of memorised everyone’s movements around the town so he could easily avoid them.

After what seemed like a very short amount of time they were back in Pelican Town and Sebastian was pulling up beside the bus. “Well, we’re back.”

“So we are…” He got off and handed his helmet back to Sebastian. “Hey, so in case anyone asks I’m just going to be working on my farm for a while, so you won’t be seeing me in town for a bit.”

“Okay… It wouldn’t have anything to do with what your mum said to you, right?” Sebastian had this strange look on his face that Apollyon couldn’t really tell if he was trying to express concern, distress, or whatever that feeling was after you get food poisoning.

He just smiled and shrugged. “I have some trees I need to clear out and some I need to put tappers on. I’m also planning of building a fruit orchid and getting a barn. I need to plan that stuff out and gather materials… I also want to get a house extension so I actually have a kitchen. That would be nice.”

“Huh, alright…”

“Later Seb. Thanks for the ride.” He turned to walk back to his farm when Sebastian called out to him.

“Hey, I know your family is kind of weird and stuff, but whatever she said about you to make you feel like shit, it isn’t true you know… Same with Colt. He’s a dick bag. That weirdo said you were an actual demon.”

Apollyon couldn’t help it when a small smile made its way across his face. “I guess even a bastard like him speaks the truth every now and then.” He continued to walk home, not even bothering to see what kind of expression Sebastian has on his face. More than likely he’d be confused.

***

True to his word Apollyon had isolated himself from the rest of the town. Sebastian hadn’t seen him in days and as far as he knew no one else had either. Then again it was kind of difficult since Sebastian didn’t really leave the house until dark, so he could have been out and talking to people.

On one of his many cigarette brakes by the lake, Sebastian couldn’t help but keep glancing back over at the mines. He was hoping to catch sight of the farmer. He had a habit of coming out late at night with a bag of rocks and geods.

On this particular night Sam happened to venture up to the mountains to visit the secluded man. “Yo Seb.” He called as he walked over to him. “You doing okay? Haven’t seen you around lately since you got back from Zuzu.”

Sebastian shrugged and looked back out onto the lake. “I had work to do. Client needed some stuff done in two days at the most. It was good money.”

“Huh, alright.” He stood by Sebastian for a while in silence and let Sebastian enjoy most of his cigarette before talking again. “You took Apollyon with you when you went to the city the other day, right? How did that go?”

“… His parents are weird. They put him on edge.” He would have mentioned the slight sexual tension the two of them shared and the fact Apollyon might have beaten a man to a pulp, but knowing Sam he’d probably blow it all out of proportion.

Luckily for him Sam seemed to just nod in understanding. “Yeah, he wasn’t a big fan of his folks was he? So how bad were they?”

“It looked like his mum was a psychic that works from home and his step dad is a bag of dicks that out right called him a demon.” He took a long, slow drag. “… It was so bad, we ended up going to that pool hall to drink for a bit and we ran into someone he knew that pissed him off even more… Have you seen him around?”

Sam shrugged. “Seen him a bit. He just runs around not really talking to people that much. Seen him go into the clinic a few times. Not sure what for though.”

He was worried for a few moments, wondering what could possibly be wrong with the farmer. But that worry was quickly killed because Maru would have mentioned something. It was a small town and someone going repeatedly to a place where they normally wouldn’t was always going to raise suspicion and he was sure he would have heard someone say something.

“You going to come to the luau tomorrow?” Asked Sam.

Truth be told Sebastian had forgotten about that. He had more important things to do with his jobs. The luau was boring anyway and he’d have to go out in the sun and interact with people. The weird soup never tasted good to him and the governor was a hack with no tastebuds.

“Bet Apollyon will be there.” Said Sam.

“Probably.” Maybe he would be. He had no real idea if Apollyon would show since he said he was going to stay on his farm for a few days. He wondered if the farm looked good these days. He hadn’t been in a while and he could only imagine what he had been up to. Maybe he had some kegs or some beehives now?

Sam nudged him a little. “So are you going to go?”

“My mum is gonna make me go anyway. So yeah. I’m gonna end up going.”

“Sweet… Want to hang out at my house after?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool.”

Chapter Text

For the past few days Apollyon had been working hard on his farm. He had been clearing out trees, rocks, and weeds, he marked out places to plant crops, a fence so his chickens could run around safely, and a few preservative jars and beehives. He had to go into the mines several times to try and find all the materials he needed for these things.

While he was there he found a lot of gemstones and just cool things in general. With the money he had made from that he was able to afford Robin’s house extension. Now he’d be able to have a damn kitchen, but he’d be talking to her about it after the luau.

He sat out on his porch and bandaged up his hands, sighing a little when the bandages around his knuckles started to darken anyway. He’d gotten several supplies from the clinic before he went to the mines in his search for ore and to relieve his stress. Killing those monsters had been fun for him and he’d been a lot calmer than he had been last time he went in there.

He wanted to go back again and kill something else, but not today. It actually was the luau and Apollyon had been tasked with bringing something, so he had decided to bring in some really good looking grapes he had found on his way home the previous night. He wasn’t entirely sure what it was for since Goblin decided to eat the damn note before he could finish reading it.

Apollyon took the grapes down to the beach. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and having a good time. It made him feel like crap really. He wasn’t sure way though. Everyone being happy was a good thing. This was what he wanted. He wanted to be a part of this. He didn’t want to isolate himself like in the city.

He sighed a little and tossed the grapes into the giant soup pot Marine was stirring. She seemed okay with him doing that so he could only assume he did the right thing. He poured a little punch into a cup and made his way to the pier. Since everyone was having fun on the beach he could afford to just sit away from everyone and enjoy the quiet.

The bench beside Willy’s shop was far enough away from everyone and gave Apollyon a moment to collect his thoughts. The salt from the sea stung the small nicks and cuts on his hands that he didn’t bother to bandage earlier. He exhaled sharply through his nose as he started to flick at his nails. Despite them growing back they still felt thin and flimsy.

“Thought I saw you!” Called Emily as she happily skipped over to him. She sat down on the bench and smiled at him. “Been a while since I’ve seen you around. What have you been up to?”

“Nothing much. Just farming stuff mostly. I can’t really say much else.” He flicked at his nail a little more, flinching slightly when a small part of it chipped and peeled. “Ow…”

She sighed a little and gently placed her hand on his arm. “Hey, you shouldn’t over work yourself. Why don’t you come and dance with me? It’ll take your mind of things for a while.”

He thought for a moment and reluctantly let Emily drag him over to the dance floor where Robin and Demetrius were already dancing with each other. Robin smiled at Apollyon and gave him a small nod of acknowledgement and he nodded back.

Emily held Apollyon’s hands and playfully swung them in time with the music. “Come on. Just let your body move to the music. Let the rhythm take control and dance like no one’s watching you.”

Apollyon smiled a little at her enthusiasm and attempted to dance along with her. He envied how easy her movements were and hoe fluid her motions were. Her positivity and energy was stunning. He could see why people could be drawn in and captivated by her. At the same time it hurt to be around such positivity. Regardless he stayed and danced with her as best he could. He felt stupid though.

***

Sebastian couldn’t stop the scowl on his face from forming. Apollon had walked right past him, didn’t even acknowledge him, and walked right past him again with Emily to dance. Yoba he felt jealous, but damn it he wasn’t entirely sure why.

Suddenly Abby was at his side, smirking like a smug bastard. “My oh my. Why are you so mad? Wanna dance with the farmer or something?”

“Shut up Abby.” He mumbled. He quickly took out a cigarette and lit it. A hit of nicotine was just what he needed. “I just don’t want to be here.”

“Which is why you’ve been watching the farmer since they came onto the beach?”

“… Have you been watching me or something?” Attempting to deflect was hard.

She sighed a little and shook her head. “Seb, it’s obvious you like him and I think it’s obvious Emily probably has a thing for him too. Let’s face it, Emily is way more outgoing then you are. If she feels a connection she’s going to ask him out before you do. Then what are you going to do?”

“… I don’t know.” He frowned and took another drag. “Look, he hasn’t shown much interest in me and I know I haven’t been trying to get with him so I probably don’t have a chance.” Abby groaned a little and marched away. Sebastian hoped that she was just going to go and eat something, but he felt his blood run cold when he saw her making her way onto the dance floor, towards Apollyon and Emily.

“Yo Apollyon! Got a favour to ask you.”

“Yes?”

Sebastian quickly raced over to Abby and grabbed her by the arm. “Just leave it Abby. Seriously.”

A sly smile made its way onto Apollyon’s lips. “You asking for something on Bastian’s behalf Abs?”

“Yeah, Seb’s been interested in the secret forest. But there’s like slimes and stuff in there. Want to take him?”

“…” Sebastian wanted to strangle Abby right then and there. He did not appreciate her doing this. Especially infront of Emily. She’d probably think it was a date or something stupid like that, which was what Abby was trying to turn this into.

Apollyon looked surprised for a moment, but ended up smiling anyway. “Sure, it’s a date.”

Much to Sebastian’s distain, both the girls gasped at that statement. “It’s not a date… Please don’t say stupid things.” He felt like Apollyon was going to just tease the fuck out of him now or some bullshit for the rest of their natural lives. If that was the case he was going to lock himself in his basement.

He laughed. “Nah, my whole M.O is saying stupid bullshit.” He gave Sebastian a rather cheeky look. “But babe we can call it whatever you want if you don’t want to call it a date.”

Emily practically squealed. “I can’t believe you two are going to go on a date.”

“My parents are right there Emily.” Hissed Sebastian. He felt like he was going to die at this point. He was not going to come out to his parents via this bullshit. Hell he wasn’t going to come out to Emily like this either.

Surprisingly it was Apollyon that quickly came to his rescue. “We’re not going to go on a date Emily. That’s just a little too gay for Sebastian.”

Emily looked confused for a moment before laughing to herself. “Right, I keep forgetting people aren’t just automatically bisexual by default. But I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun. The Secret woods is really nice. Just watch out for bears.”

“Will do Emily.” Apollyon then, being the slick and ever so confusing bastard that he was, ever so kindly offered his hands to both Abby and Emily. “Now which of you lovely ladies would like to dance with me?”

Abby grinned and took his hand. “Why the hell not?”

Emily giggled and too his other hand. “We were already in the middle of dancing together weren’t we?”

“Wow, two fine young ladies at once?” Asked Apollyon in fake shock. “It’s been a few months so I might be a little rusty. Be gentle with me ladies.”

Sebastian felt a heat start to rise in his face and he quickly got off the dance floor. Every time he didn’t think his crush was as strong as it was towards Apollyon he would do something that would make him squirm and feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Yoba he hated feeling like this.

***

Apollyon had no idea what he was doing. Yoba he just started running his damn mouth when Abby was talking about taking Sebastian to the secret woods. He was damn sure Abby was trying to play match maker at this point. He was just running his mouth to try and get out of that situation, but had just made it worse.

He was at home now, the luau was apparently a success according to the governor and the mayor. He thought it was kind of dumb to see how well a town was going by how tasty a soup was, but whatever. Government was weird.

He flicked at his nail some more and watched some of it chip off. He was going to have to see Harvey about this. He felt like he was doing to start to fall apart, or was falling apart at this point. He didn’t like how he acting now. Apollyon liked being more reserved and shy. Just talking without thinking and making snide, suggestive comments weren’t something he wanted to do anymore. That was him when he was a dumb teen.

Most troubling of all to him was his more rampant perverted thought process these days. Yoba it wasn’t just towards Sebastian anymore with small lingering thoughts of how nice his ass looked in those jeans. He caught himself sneaking glances at Abigail and Emily’s breasts as they were dancing with him and wondering how soft they would feel if he squeezed them. He felt disgusted with himself thinking those kind of things. He assumed it was normal to think someone had nice tits or a nice ass, but it was kind of creepy to think too much about it.

While he stressed himself about these thoughts Morgana happily swooped down on her broom and grinned down at him. “Hey there demon boy. Kill anyone yet? Besides cave monsters?”

Apollyon jumped a little and glared up at her. “Take back whatever the fuck you did to me. I don’t want to wait it out. I want it gone.”

She shrugged, safe in the knowledge that she was out of his reach on her broom. “Come on, you have to admit humanity’s social norms are stupid and stifling. You aren’t really human. You’re just wearing human skin. Why don’t you just shed it and be you?”

“I like being human you green bitch!” He snapped. His snarky and venomous side was quickly coming out again. “I was raised as a human and I am going to live as one. I don’t give a fuck what I was supposed to be. You think your magic is going to break me? Fuck you!”

Morgana looked offended for a moment, but quickly grinned. This was obviously the reaction she was after. “Well don’t you sound all mean and grumpy?”

“Why the hell do you even care?! I hardly know you! What could you possibly get out of this?”

She rolled her eyes. “Well there is a lot I can actually get out of this thank you very much. But you wouldn’t understand much of it since your mind is too small since you were raised human. To put it in the simplest terms; the valley is really good. Full of really good things. Nothing can be this good for so long. People that study the dark arcane arts like myself balance things out.”

“… What?”

Morgana pulled a face that showed her complete distain for his intelligence. “Okay, simpler terms… Light magic, good. Good things happen. Stardew valley, too much light magic. Too many good things. People get suspicious. People find out magic. People think it solves all problems. People get mad when it does. World implodes. Dark magic, evil. Dark magic makes bad things happen. Bad things happen to balance out the good things. People keep on living their simple lives.”

“… Light and dark magic are things?”

“No you idiot. Magic is just magic but depending on how you use it can affect the outcome. Mainly through ritualistic chanting and what not. Morons like you that don’t understand this concept so the simplistic idea of good and bad have to exist.” She crossed her arms and huffed dramatically. “I feel like I’m talking to some Yoba extremist nut job…”

Apollyon felt like he was talking to a complete wack job. Then again she was a witch so she probably was a little off her rocker. “And cursing me does what for you and your weird ulterior motive?”

She sighed and shook her head before she cracked her knuckles. “Alright… Long and short of it, Pelican Town is way too damn wholesome and nice and good things keep happening. It’s time to shake things up with you. Time for you to cause some bad shit.”

“… No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“… Yeah, I’m going inside now. Don’t curse my melons.”

“Hey! Don’t you walk away you snippy little demon kid!”

Apollyon rolled his eyes. “Suck my taint you old bitch. I got better things to do then listen to you talking about all your mystical bullshit. Go fuck yourself with a rusty AIDS infected di-” His rant was quickly cut short when something heavy and large struck him in the back of the head, easily knocking him to the ground and knocking him out. Last thing he heard before he completely passed out was Morgana cackling as she flew away.

Chapter Text

Apollyon had woken up with a raging headache the next day after the witch belted him in the back of the head. But regardless, today was going to be a mining day. He had a good feeling that he was going to complete the mining bundle today once he grabbed a fire quartz.

He had made it to floor eight five and was hoping to get to floor ninety by the end of the day. The second he stepped out of the elevator he encountered a red slime. With a few frantic slashes of his sword the slime was unstable enough to turn to mush. Much to his surprise this one seemed to have swallowed a diamond. Now it was his. He quickly stuffed it into his bag and continued on.

Apart from finding the ever elusive fire quartz, the Adventurer’s Guild, AKA Marlon and Gil, had tasked him with slaying some monsters. He was going to try and go about slaying a few shadow brutes. He was doing an alright job at it too. He’d slayed about ten so far.

He rounded a corner and almost immediately got shot in the face with a fireball. These things were horrible. Huge, round, flying fleshy masses that hovered over rock clusters and spat fireballs. When he had asked Marlon what on earth they were he had called the Squid Kids. They neither looked like kids nor looked anything like squids in his own opinion.

It spat another fireball at him, but Apollyon managed to dodge it and puncture the hovering beast, popping it in midair. Though the Squid kid didn’t leave anything interesting behind he still felt satisfied whenever one of those bloated pimples popped. The lava caves smelt enough like burning without them spitting fire. Smells of burning, sulfur and something like… pork?

He hadn’t smelt that in the caves before. Confused, Apollyon tried to follow the smell and ended up walking around in circles for a good five minutes before he realized where the smell was coming from. It was him. More specifically his leg. The damn Squid Kid’s fireball must have bounced off the wall and hit him and burnt a sizable hole in the side of his pants, painting a fair amount of his leg in third degree burns.

Now while it was alarming that he had such a huge burn on his leg, the bigger issue for Apollyon was that he couldn’t feel it. No pain, no nothing. He cautiously poked it, expecting to feel a sting or something but all he felt was the pressure of his finger touching against the charred muscle.

“What the fuck?” Apollyon could feel his chest tightening and could just see the cracks starting to appear out of the corner of his eyes. “This… this has to be some kind of sick joke. Right? How the hell? What the hell?”

He was shaking a little and knew he had to go to the clinic, but he needed to test this out. He quickly found another mine shaft and climbed down it. On the next level he quickly found a Shadow Brute wandering around minding its own business. At least it would be until it saw him. These things just seemed to love to charge at him as soon as they saw him.

This one was no different. The second it saw him it charged as him and landed a punch right to his guts. While it winded him, it didn’t actually hurt. Apollyon put up no resistance as the monster continued to attack him. He would feel each blow but it didn’t actually hurt. There was no pain to the impact.

He could see the cracks getting bigger once again as a pained laugh made its way out his throat. The sudden laughter made the Shadow Brute pause in its attack and looked at him, very confused. Hell, even Apollyon wasn’t too sure why he was laughing. The situation he was in was kind of horrific and he knew it.

“I can’t feel pain… I can’t feel pain!” He lunged at the Shadow Brute and started to pummel the thing as best he could with his hands. Screw the sword. He didn’t need it if he couldn’t feel it. He heard his knuckled crack and saw his skin get bloodied despite how squishy Shadow Brutes actually were. With one strong blow to its face it evaporated with a mournful whine and his fist came into contact with a heavy copper bar.

With a small laugh, Apollyon picked up the copper bar and slowly walked back to the elevator. He really needed to go to the clinic. Harvey and Maru were going to fuss over him when he got there.

***

Sure enough the second he walked into the clinic looking like a bloody mess Maru and Harvey took him into the back room and started to treat his most obvious injury, his burn. They laid him on his stomach on one of the clinic beds and stripped him of his pants to make sure they could get to all of the burnt skin. At least he got to keep his underwear.

“How on earth did you get burnt that badly?” Asked Maru. “Did you stand too close to a furnace or something?”

“Something like that…” Muttered Apollyon. Whatever ointment they were putting on his burn felt cold. “… Hey, you two, is it normal for burns to not hurt?”

Harvey sighed a little as he started to gather clean bandages. “It’s not uncommon for third degree burns to not hurt at all because of nerve damage. Do you believe you suffered nerve damage?”

“Maybe… Can I talk to you privately for a bit doc? Once you two are done fixing me up.”

“Of course.” Once the two of them were done tending to the burn and the wounds on his hands Maru left and Harvey took a seat by him. He looked rather concerned. “You know I’ll need you to come in to get that redressed every day. Technically you should be staying here for a few days to make sure it doesn’t get infected… I’ll put you on a broad spectrum antibiotic just in case.”

Apollyon nodded a little and readjusted himself slightly. “Cool… So about the thing I wanted to talk to you about…”

“Ah yes. What can I help you with?”

“… I can’t feel pain, at all.”

Harvey looked confused for a moment. “I see, so how long has this been going on? Can you feel temperatures? Have you been sweating less or not at all?”

“No to the last two and since this morning… If it helps I got hit in the back of the head last night.”

“… I see. Mind if I do a quick examination?”

“Feel free.” He relaxed a little as Harvey checked his hands and looked at his feet. He then got a comb and started to brush through his hair which felt weird to him. “What are you doing?”

“Just making sure you don’t have CIPA. Of course it’s a genetic disease that you can’t just randomly catch, but I just want to make sure and rule it out as soon as possible. There are a few obvious physical factors besides not being able to feel pain like not being able to feel the temperature and not being able to sweat.”

“… Find anything?”

“Just a small nick on the back of your head. It doesn’t look too severe… Would you be alright with possibly getting an MRI? We obviously don’t have one here, but I can get you referred to one at Zuzu Central, or even Westfern private if your health fund can cover that.”

Apollyon weighed up his options for a bit before shaking his head. “Nah, I’ll just wait a bit. If I’m still not feeling any pain tomorrow I’ll come back and get booked in for one of those.” Despite Harvey’s protests Apollyon made his exit as quickly as physically possible, pulling on his tattered pants and almost falling over twice as he did so.

He hoped he had a pair of loose shorts he could wear for a few days while his leg properly scabbed over. He’d had worse burns when he was growing up. Some of them self-inflicted, also located on his leg. He could still vaguely remember the circumstances behind some of it too.

***

It was a crisp Spring evening when Colt kicked Apollyon out of the house again after school. “Come back before six.” He muttered. “Your mum’s gonna be home late but she wants you home for dinner. Till then I don’t want to see your ugly mug.”

Apollyon was more than happy to leave and hang out in the park two blocks away. It was quiet and no one gave a shit about him. He was just some miserable and pissed off looking sixteen year old, so it automatically meant all adults were terrified of his existence.

He found some quiet corner of the park away from prying eyes and took a few slightly bent cigarettes out of his pocket. He had stolen them from Colt. The day after he got a new pack he would swipe one or two. He never really seemed to notice. One time he almost did, but he got very lucky. He didn’t have a lighter but he did have a small flint fire starter. Lighting the cigarette had been a challenge but he still managed to do it.

He wasn’t a big smoker, but he liked to take things from Colt and fuck them up somehow. He only put up with him because he made his mum happy. Sure she knew some of the shit the older man gave him and she rightly reprimanded him for it when he did but she was still madly in love with him. He couldn’t fault her for that.

Apollyon took a rather long drag and lightly flicked the end, flinching ever so slightly when the hot ash singed his knee. He flicked the ash away and watched the red marks fade away almost as quickly as it appeared.

“…”

A morbid curiosity quickly took hold within his mind and he pressed the burning cigarette against his knee. It didn’t hurt nearly as much as he had expected it to. Sure there was some pain but not enough to make him flinch or cry out. It was strange to him. So he lit it and did it again, and again, and again. He ended up making a smiley face on his leg and watched with amusement as the burns healed unnaturally quickly into nothingness.

Suddenly a hand gripped his shoulder with a vice like grip and a man growled at him. “There you are you little fuck.” Growled Colt. “What the fuck are you doing? Burning yourself? With fags you stole from me? You fucking shit!”

“Piss off Colt.” Growled Apollyon. “Why are you acting like you give a fuck anyway? You fucking hate me and wouldn’t give a shit if I walked out the door and never fucking came back! Piss off!”

Colt pulled Apollyon to his feet and grabbed him by the throat, slamming him against the nearest tree. “Now you listen here you disrespectful fuck, you’re right. I don’t give a flying fuck if you took two steps outside and got shot in the head, but you and me, we have one thing in common.”

“Bull fucking shit.”

“Elizabeth.” He snarled. “We both love her and want her to be happy. Unfortunately she’s not happy unless she knows you’re alive and well, and she’s easily upset when I’m not around. Suck it up and stop being a little bitch.” He let Apollyon go and swiped the cigarettes out of his hand, stuffing them back into his own pocket. “She’ll be pissed if she finds out you’ve been smoking these.”

“Whatever…”

Colt rolled his eyes and shoved Apollyon in the direction of home. “Come on. Move your dumb ass. Elizabeth’s making spaghetti and wants to eat as a family.”

Apollyon rolled his eyes and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Fuck off. I’m just doing this for mum. Not for you.”

***

He chuckled a bit at the memory. Although Colt had roughed him around a little he was nowhere near as bad as he could have been. Then again he couldn’t help but recall that he didn’t feel much pain back then either. Was this part of Morgana’s spell or was there actually something medically wrong with him? He wasn’t sure.

He wandered onto his farm and checked his corn. Tomorrow it would be ready to harvest. Still, he broke off one and bit into it. It tasted alright. But he never really cared too much for corn anyway. Hopefully someone was going to like it.

“What’s tried to eat your ass?”

Apollyon glanced over his shoulder, happy to see Shane was approaching him. “A bear.”

“Seriously?”

“Nah, I got burnt. What’s up?” He hadn’t seen Shane in ages, but Apollyon had to admit he was looking better. He was slouching less and didn’t look nearly as tired as before. Maybe he was doing really well with that councilor Harvey had got him to see in Zuzu? He was really proud of him.

“Marnie asked me to drop off some hay.” He gestured to the hay he was carrying.

Apollon felt weird for not noticing that before. “Dump it in the silo over there.”

Shane nodded and did ad he was told. “So, you have a chicken coop now. Got any chickens?”

“Ah, not yet. I want to make one more mayonnaise machine before I get a chicken… Gonna name it Butter.”

“Butter?”

“Yeah. You know, butter chicken.”

Shane chuckled a little and rolled his eyes. “You planning on eating them?”

“Maybe when they can’t lay eggs anymore.” Noticing the slightly horrified look of Shane’s face Apollyon quickly back peddled. “I’m joking. When I have enough gold I’ll get a chicken. Don’t you worry.”

“Okay… You gonna change pants or something?”

Apollyon looked down at his bandaged leg and shrugged. “Probably should. I’m pretty sure I have shorts somewhere. If not, I am gonna go and kilt it up. I’m pretty sure I have a tartan table cloth somewhere I can use…” He walked into his house and started to look through his clothes.

Shane followed him in and let out a low whistle. “Nice. Your shit shack now has a kitchen.”

“Yeah, Robin was good to me and fixed it all up.” He pulled out a pair of board shorts. They were bright blue and had a huge pink flamingo printed down one side. Good enough. He shimmied out of his pants and pulled on his shorts. “Feel free to get a drink out of the fridge. I don’t have beer, but I have some soda water and lemonade.”

“Thanks.”

Apollyon smiled a little and sat on the couch. Although he couldn’t feel pain he managed to sit in a way that wouldn’t put pressure on his wound. “So what’s up? How’s everything going for you?”

“Pretty good.” Shane sat on the couch by him and cracked open a can of lemonade. “Jas has been really excited about the dance of the Moonlight Jellies happening at the end of the month.”

“… The what now?”

Shane shrugged. “This thing where a bunch of jellyfish drift along the South coast at the end of each Summer. They glow and stuff. The kids really like that.”

Apollyon smiled a little. “I love bioluminescent stuff… Did you know there’s a species of jellyfish that never developed stingers and live in this huge landlocked lagoon? It’s the only place in the world you can go swimming with jellyfish. It’s neat.”

“Sounds like it.”

“Yeah… So this is a huge town event thing?”

“Yeah, pretty much everyone goes to see it. Jas thinks it’s magical.”

Apollyon smiled a little at how much Shane was talking about Jas. He was glad he was taking more of an interest in her life now. Not being hung over on weekends would help when it came to paying attention to her. She deserved someone to look up to that didn’t drink all the time. Sure she did have Marnie, but Shane was meant to be her guardian.

“Guess I’ll check it out this year.” Said Apollyon quietly. “After that it’s just gonna be me preparing for the fall and then winter… Fuck there’s nothing to do in winter but mining and fishing…”

Shane chuckled at that. “You do that.”

Chapter Text

The twenty eighth quickly rolled around quickly and Apollyon started to notice a few things he felt were rather important; the Junimos were running around and acting more excited, Sebastian hadn’t approached him to go to the secret woods which was leading him to think that Abby was pulling his leg before, he still couldn’t feel any pain at all, and he astonished Harvey and Maru with how quickly his burn was healing. It was just a scar now. Even then that would eventually vanish.

The night air had a slight chilling bite to it, which Apollyon did enjoy. He liked the cooler months but that meant he probably wouldn’t be wearing shorts anymore. Which sucked because he was really starting to get used to wearing his board shorts everywhere he went.

By the time he got to the beach everyone was already there enjoying the night. He felt weird seeing so many happy people just enjoying their time, though it really shouldn’t have been. Every time the town had a festival everyone came together to celebrate it.

Deciding it was best to stay away from them for the time being, Apollyon stayed near the tree line. Much to his surprise he managed to find the Wizard. He too seemed surprised that Apollyon could see him.

“Ah, you there… hello.”

Apollyon nodded a little. “Hey… So you come down to this thing too?”

“Of course.” Said the Wizard. “I am here to observe the Lunaloos… or ‘Moonlight Jellies’, as you call them. They possess an unusually potent magical aura for an aquatic life form.”

“… Right. I’ll leave it to you then.”

“… Before you go I must ask you a question.” Called the Wizard. “Has Morgana paid you anymore visits lately? I suspect your injury is part of her doing.”

Apollyon sigh a little and shrugged. “Look, she did but getting burned was my fault… I just have to let whatever magic she cast on me work its way out. I’ll be fine.”

“And your condition makes it hard for you to feel pain or something?” He asked. He seemed interested in Apollyon’s condition. Apollyon was just glad he wasn’t trying to kill him again. He was going to be holding that against the Wizard for the rest of the year.

“I can’t feel pain anymore.” Said Apollyon calmly. “Guess with all the bullshit that’s happened to me it’s just normal… Yoba I don’t even really know what’s happening to me anymore.”

The Wizard nodded a little. He didn’t look very pleased with that explanation. “I see… Enjoy the rest of your night.”

“Thanks.” He wandered around the beach a little longer, watching all the happy people enjoying their time together. It made him smile, but for some reason it still brought about a sense of unease to him. He didn’t like it. Maybe he should have taken up Harvey’s offer and gone to see someone? At least for whatever emotional issues he obviously had.

He walked over to the pier, instantly seeing Sam standing right at the end with his bright blond hair. Sebastian and Abby were there too. He smiled a little to himself, he hadn’t seen them all together in a little while. Tonight was as good a time as any.

***

Sebastian rather liked the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies. It was late at night, so he was fully awake, kind of eerie, and a little strange. It was one of the few events no one needed to remind him of beforehand. He actually ended up walking down a little early today to hang out with Sam and his little brother Vincent who were enjoying the last warm day of the year.

As soon as dusk started to settle in Abby had wandered down and so did Jodie with some snacks for Vincent. It gave the trio the opportunity to find a good spot to watch the jellies. Once they were isolated from the rest of the people wandering around on the beach Abby quickly started probing Sebastian with questions.

“Did you go to the secret woods with Apollyon yet?” She asked.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “You two went to the secret woods?”

“We didn’t.” Muttered Sebastian. He quickly lit a cigarette and took a few quick puffs. “Abby tried and failed to set us up on a date. I am far too busy to think about that kind of stuff right now.”

Abby scoffed at the notion. “So if I went onto your computer and looked up your history I wouldn’t see gay farm related porn?”

“Nope, because I set my computer up to automatically delete certain sites for just that reason.” He didn’t, but he didn’t need Abby or anyone else snooping around his computer to try and find out his weird fetishes and kinks.

“So you have been looking at farm related porn and not of the lesbian variety?” Asked Abby before pulling a dismissive face. “Actually, never mind. I don’t want to know. Point is, I set up a perfectly good date for those two and Sebby hasn’t taken the bait.”

“And Apollyon hasn’t asked me out either.” Reminded Sebastian. “I’m not the one at fault here.

Sam shrugged. “Probably because his leg’s all fucked up.” The other two looked confused so Sam elaborated. “Didn’t you guys know? He has like third degree burns on his leg. The other day I went to the clinic to pick up some hay fever meds since we had like one left, and Apollyon walked out of the back room with his leg all bandaged up. I asked him what was wrong and he said a monster burnt his ass while he was mining… Think he said he had like third degree burns or something.”

Sebastian was shocked to hear that. No one had told him that Apollyon had gotten hurt again. But why would they? He hadn’t really talked to anyone much over the past few days. He practically buried himself in his work after the luau.

Surprisingly Abby didn’t seem surprised, but annoyed. “So I guess that means he probably isn’t going to turn up for this huh? Probably at home resting… And here I was going to put another Abby plan into action…”

“Sebastian could always go over and see if he needs any help.” Suggested Sam.

Abby’s eyes began to shine with excitement. “Yes! Perfect scenario! Our young, poor, helpless farmer needs the help of a young man to tend to his farm, tend to his injuries, and tend to his every physical need…”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Now that sounds like the start of a porno. A terrible porno.”

“Well it’s either that or the whole ‘pizza guy delivering a meat lover pizza with a thick crust and extra sausage’ scenario, but even I don’t think you’d lower yourself to that.” Said Abby.

Sam chuckled a little at that. “Have you seen that gif of the guy in that one porno that does that? Like he opens the pizza box and there’s his dick and the porn actress looks so disappointed that he ruined the pizza?”

“You sent that to us in the group chat.” Said Abby. “We memed it for a while.”

As his friends talked about memes and reaction gifs only they would understand his thoughts were drawn to the farmer. Despite his best efforts as of late he was starting to think more and more about the other man. He mostly blamed Abby and Sam for this since they kept talking about him.

But he couldn’t help but vividly imagine Apollyon being stuck in bed being all vulnerable. And since his ass was burnt he’d probably have to be lying around in his underwear or no underwear at all. “…” He could feel a blush quickly racing across his face. He felt dumb that just the thought of Apollyon naked could make him blush, yet his actual internet history was full of things that would make his friends look at him with disappointment.

Either way he still couldn’t stop the mildly erotic thoughts about Apollyon. He had a feeling that the farmer might have entered his dreams more than once, but he never really remembered his dreams too well. Something he was kind of grateful for. If he did remember them he would probably never be able to look Apollyon in the face again.

Speaking of Apollyon, the man was happily walking down to see them. Despite Sam saying they were injured they didn’t seem to have any problem walking on their leg, which Sebastian found off if he had third degree burns on his leg. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as he had made it out to be?

“Hey guys.” He called. “It’s been a while huh?”

Abby perked right up when she saw him. “Apollyon! Thought you weren’t gonna show up. Sam said you fucked up your leg.”

He looked down at his bandaged leg and shrugged. “Can’t help it if monsters want to eat my ass.”

“Thought you said it was burnt?” Questioned Sam.

“These monsters aren’t animals Sammy.” Scolded Apollyon in a playful manner. “They like to cook their meat before they eat it. Those monsters were going to eat my ass, they just needed to cook it first.”

Abby chuckled and nudged Sam. “Yeah Sam. Some monsters like their human butts well done before eating them. So does it still hurt?”

Apollyon shook his head, still looking down at his leg. “Well, I have a high pain tolerance so this is fine. In hindsight it’s probably the least messed up thing that’s happened to me.”

“What’s the most messed up thing?” Asked Sam.

The farmer thought for a moment. “Possibly the time I got hit by a bus and my eye popped out of its socket. Sure I popped that sucker back in but it fucked up my balance for a while.”

Sebastian had no idea if Apollyon was being serious or not. Deciding he didn’t really have much to contribute to the conversation he walked to the edge of the pier and let Abby and Sam talk to Apollyon. After the mildly erotic thoughts he had about the other he felt like he needed a little time to himself to calm down slightly.

He wasn’t too sure how long he stood there alone but all too soon Apollyon was standing next to him with his hands in his jacket pockets. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“So I’m guessing you didn’t want to go to the secret woods with me?”

“Not really.”

“Shame. I was looking forward to it.”

He glanced over at Apollyon. He didn’t look like he was trying to make fun of him. He looked genuinely sincere, but Sebastian wasn’t going to suddenly swoon for this guy. No sir. Not now. “Oh.”

Apollyon chuckled a little. “Oh? That’s all you got to say about it?”

“Yep.” He was doing his best to keep his eyes focused on the water. “… So did your eye really pop out?”

“Yep. High school senior year.” Apollyon let out a long, slow sigh. “I got hit by a bus and fractured my frontal and zygomatic bones around my left eye socket. It gave my eye just enough wriggle room to fly free. Scary shit but it wasn’t like my optical nerve was damaged so no harm no foul.”

“Huh…”

“Yeah…” He shifted his balance a little. “I heard Vincent saying he was going to see the rare green jelly tonight. Think we’ll see it too?”

Sebastian shrugged. “Maybe. Anything is possible in this world.”

Apollyon chuckled a little. “Yeah well, almost anything.”

Sebastian was about to ask him what he meant when Lewis called out to everyone. “Alright everyone! I’m going to launch the boat!” Sebastian watched as he placed the wooden boat his mum had made onto the water. He sent a small paper lantern on top of it and carefully pushed it out into the sea.

Once the boat drifted out far enough that it was just a tiny speck of light in the darkness, the jellies started to slowly drift in. It was slow at first, one or two small glowing objects drifting close and illuminating the ocean. Within a minute the whole place was teaming with a bloom of them. Bloom being the ‘scientifically accurate name for a group of jellyfish’ as Demetrius would say.

“Wow… It’s beautiful…”

Sebastian took a chance and looked over at Apollyon. The young man was completely taken in by the natural bioluminescent glow of the jellies. The way the light danced across his face gave Apollyon an otherworldly look. It made his heart flutter a little. He immediately scolded himself for doing that.

“Is that a green jelly?” Asked Abby.

“I wanna see it!” Called Vincent.

“Hey be careful Vincent! Watch where you’re running!” Called Jodie.

The next few seconds happened so fast it was almost a blur. Sebastian felt something heavy bumping against his back legs. Since he was standing right by the edge he started falling face first into the water, but instead of getting a face full of stinging tentacles he felt someone grab his wrist and swing him around back onto the pier. He landed on some rope, groaning a little as he heard a huge splash.

“Holy shit!” Screamed Abby. “Apollyon fell in! He fell in!”

“Willy! We need the life saver!” Yelled Sam.

Sebastian watched in stunned shock as Willy ran over and chucked the life saver into the water. Apollyon grabbed it and Willy with the help of Sam managed to drag Apollyon out and onto the beach. He watched as Harvey went over to him and started providing some basic first aid while talking to Maru. From what he knew of the jellies that migrated along the south coast they weren’t deadly and their stings weren’t going to kill him, but they really, really hurt.

He looked down at his arm, the one Apollyon must have grabbed to swing him out of harm’s way. He felt his heart flutter again at this grand gesture. It was getting harder and harder for Sebastian to deny he had feelings for him now.

Abby grabbed his arm. “Hey, you okay?”

“Um, yeah.”

“Good, let’s go.” She pulled him towards the beach where Apollyon was laying.

He wasn’t screaming or writhing in pain. He just seemed like he was in shock as Maru and Harvey were carefully removing any lingering tentacles with tweezers while Willy was pouring vinegar on his stings.

“You’re alright lad.” Said Willy. “Keeping a brave face like that, you’re a brave lad. You’re doing amazing… We need more vinegar.”

“I’ll be back in a moment!” Called Emily as she quickly ran back to town, quickly running past Gus and grabbing the keys to the saloon along the way.

Vincent was crying into Jodie’s shirt, very distressed about the whole thing. He was blubbering and saying sorry over and over again. It seemed as though Vincent accidently pushed into him and started off the whole chain of events in the first place.

Sebastian shuffled forward a little and looked down at Apollyon. Dark, angry red and purple lightning marks covered his arms, hands, legs and part of his face and neck. He had no idea how Apollyon wasn’t crying or at least flinching. He just seemed board now. Unamused by all of this. Sebastian’s felt his stomach twist in uncomfortable knots.

Harvey looked over at Lewis. “It’s important that we get him into warm water as soon as possible. Can we please take him to your home?”

“Of course. Let’s get going.”

***

Apollyon didn’t really registered too much about what had and was happening to him. He just acted on instinct when he saw Sebastian falling. He just felt that swinging him around was a safer bet than just trying to pull him back for some stupid reason. Getting stung by the jellies didn’t hurt, it just felt strange, like getting tangled in long thin hair.

The second he got pulled out he didn’t really know how to react while people fussed over him, pulling off tentacles still stuck to his skin and pouring vinegar all over his body. Now he was carted off to mayor Lewis’s house and dumped into his bathtub. He hardly even realized he was halfway through getting undressed while in the tub until his board shorts were halfway down his legs.

“… What was I doing?”

He heard a knock at the bathroom door. “Apollyon? Are you in the bath yet?” Called Harvey. “Lewis wants to put your clothes in the dryer and I want to check your stings.”

“… Right.” Apollyon quickly took off the rest of his clothes and sat in the tub. “Come in.”

Harvey quickly came in to get Apollyon’s clothes before giving them to Lewis and coming back. He brought a chair in with him and sat by the bathtub. “I’m just going to quickly examine you and leave you to soak for about forty minutes. Can you let me see your arm?”

Apollyon sighed a little and let Harvey looked at his sting covered arm. He hated it. The marks were ugly and gross and looked like his body was covered in cracks. He hated it. Now he looked like he was falling apart. He’d have to wear long sleeves or something similar until the marks were gone. He was going to eventually end up having a break down if he kept having to see those ugly lines.

“Can you still not feel pain?”

“I didn’t feel a thing.” He said quietly. “Not a damn thing.”

“… This really isn’t good.” Muttered Harvey. “You really need to see a neurologist. Even if it isn’t something specifically wrong with your brain there could be something wrong with your nervous system.”

“Whatever you say doc.” That sounded more sarcastic than he meant it to.

“This is serious Apollyon.” Harvey didn’t sound mad, he actually sounded concerned. That was something he wasn’t used to doctors being towards him. Small town clinics were very different to doctors in the city. “If you can’t feel pain you’re going to end up really damaging yourself. You’ve already been burnt and you have lots of small injuries just from doing maintenance on your farm.”

Apollyon shrugged. “I don’t think it really matters that much doc…”

“You could get an infected cut, or potentially strain something that will lead to worse injuries in the future.” Warned Harvey. “Please try and take it easy for a little while. You need to let your body heal, even if you don’t feel like you need to.”

“… Okay.”

“Okay. Now you’re going to be in here for a while. Would you like me to get you something to drink? Some tea maybe?”

“Yeah, that would be nice.” He watched Harvey leave. Once he was gone he felt like shit. He knew his body was going to eventually fall apart if he couldn’t feel pain. He needed to feel pain. If he didn’t feel pain physical pain then what was the point of his human experience? He didn’t know. He leaned over the side of the bath tub and started to follow the cracks in the old tiles. It made him feel sick. Every day he was getting closer and closer to shattering.

Chapter Text

Fall hit the valley rather quickly and with that Apollyon was quick to discover the spa up in the mountains by the train station. Every other day he had been spending a few hours relaxing in the baths. To his surprise he hadn’t ever seen another soul actually use the baths, but he had heard Alex using the gym way off in the back.

He spent most of his time staring up at the ceiling or just off in the distance while he was soaking. Apollyon didn’t like looking at himself anymore. His jellyfish stings looked like cracks. Ugly cracks all over his body. He wanted to vomit every time he saw them. Sure his body healed quickly, but he still had to live with it until then. Even then the blue light in the spa seemed to highlight his scars like a winter star tree. It was disgusting. He was disgusting.

The first day of fall when he went to get seeds he had run into Jodie and Vincent. The poor child was so distressed about the whole situation. It was easy for Apollyon to forgive him. He was just a little over excited and didn’t take in his surroundings. As long as he learned from his mistake and didn’t do it again Apollyon didn’t mind.

Harvey and Maru were starting to badger him about coming by the clinic more often for check up’s and what not. It was kind of annoying, but he understood where they were coming from. He needed to be more careful with his body.

With a mournful sigh, Apollyon pulled himself out of the baths and wrapped around a towel around himself before trudging out to the change rooms. He sat on one of the benches and closed his eyes, thinking about what else he needed to do in fall. He had already planted heaps of pumpkins and cranberries so he was doing well in that regard. He’d also finally bought two chickens, Butter and Crispy. Robin had mentioned he could get ducks and rabbits if he upgraded his coop some more, so he was going to focus on gathering those things for a while.

He heard the clank of metal hitting metal as Alex was off doing something in the gym for a bit. It was kind of rhythmical. That sound went on for a while, or it could have been for a few minutes, he wasn’t sure. He was kind of staring off into space as Alex walked past him, startling him slightly.

“… You okay?” Asked Alex.

“Yeah.” Apollyon hadn’t really talked much to Alex since he moved to Pelican Town. He’d said hello a few times and bought an ice cream off him once during the Summer but that was about it. He had this distinct jock vibe that just didn’t gel too well with him. But to Alex’s credit he didn’t seem like a complete asshole. “Everything’s just… It’s hard sometimes you know? I’m spacing out a lot more than I used to.”

“You’re also coming up here a lot more than you usually do.” Added Alex. “Do you just come here for the baths? Never seen the weights getting adjusted or anything when I come up here. Don’t tell me you can lift more farmer?”

Apollyon appreciated the small talk. “I get enough exercise on my farm. I’ll probably end up super buff by the end of the year. Maybe I’ll be able to bench press you?”

Alex scoffed at that notion and started to change out of his gym clothes. “Doubt it. Well, see you around. Don’t stick around too long it’s starting to get dark.”

He smiled a little and waved at Alex as he left. A few minutes after he was gone Apollyon peeled himself off the bench, dried, dressed, and headed out. It was only just starting to become dusk right now. He needed to spend more time looking after the farm rather than spending all day in the spa.

Deciding to take the long way home past the community centre, Apollyon walked past Robin’s home. Much to his surprise as he did so, Sebastian stepped outside, cigarette already hanging from his lips.

He looked surprised to see Apollyon, but nodded slightly at him anyway. “Hey.”

“Hey. Smoke break?”

“Pretty much… How are you?”

Apollyon shrugged. “I’m okay. Just heading home now.”

Sebastian nodded a little. “Cool… So you don’t really have anything planned for tonight?”

The farmer stopped for a moment and gave Sebastian a quizzical look. Was Sebastian going to suggest they do something? Together? Maybe he was going to invite him somewhere and they were going to meet up with Abby and Sam? That seemed more likely. “Oh? You wanna do something?”

He shrugged a little and lit his cigarette. He looked like he was blushing a little, but Apollyon couldn’t really tell. “Well, I was thinking of walking over to the secret woods…”

“Thought you didn’t want to go?”

“Yeah well… I’ve just been thinking about going down there for a bit since Abby suggested it. Just never got around to it.”

Apollyon hummed a little and shrugged. “Okay. Come with me. We’ll take the shortcut through my farm. I need to get my sword if we’re heading that way.”

Sebastian nodded and closely followed Apollyon back to Hellfire farm.

***

His smoke break was more than just an excuse to stand out and breathe in that nicotine. Sebastian was frustrated. He didn’t know how to approach Apollyon and thank him for what he did during the jellyfish festival. He hadn’t see Apollyon for a few days and he was getting worried. He’d asked Maru if he was alright, since he kept going to the clinic, but she never really gave him too much information because of that whole doctor patient confidentiality crap.

It was frustrating. He wanted to see him again and see if he was okay, but he had so much work to do. He wondered if Apollyon was stuck in bed or if he was staying at the clinic. He didn’t know much about jellyfish stings and how long it took to heal.

His mind was so preoccupied with these particular thoughts that it was starting to impact his work. Instead of typing ‘Objective right;’ he ended up typing ‘Apollyon right;’. Which really annoyed him because those letters weren’t anywhere near each other. He needed to do something to get his mind off everything.

So when he went outside and saw the farmer just outside his door, Sebastian’s brain started to short circuit and he started blurting out stupid things. Now he was going to the secret woods with Apollyon, just like Abby wanted them to in the first place.

He felt stupid and dumb as he tried to get his mind into order while Apollyon went through his tools and searched for his sword. His pants hugged his butt nicely as he squatted in front of his chest. Yoba have mercy. Sebastian hated how his damned mind was working.

Suddenly Apollyon stood up and stuck his sword through his belt loop. “Come on Seb. Those slime’s aren’t gonna slay themselves.”

“Right…” Sebastian followed Apollyon down to the Cindersap forest entrance of the farm. He noted that most of the trees had been cleared out, and a few of them had tree tappers on them. He also had a small area fenced off and ready for something. There seemed to be a few trees growing in that area, but he couldn’t be sure what kind of trees they actually was.

He didn’t mention it and continued to follow Apollyon down to Cindersap forest. He felt kind of dumb asking to go to the secret woods they could have just stayed at his farm or something. Maybe he was just over thinking things? That was probably it. He took a long drag of his cigarette to try and ease his nerves with a strong hit of nicotine.

Once they got to the entrance of the secret woods, Apollyon stopped him. “I’ll be back in a second. I’m gonna clear out the slimes.”

“…Okay.” He watched Apollyon happily walk off into the secret woods while he started to smoke a second cigarette. He couldn’t tell if this was his anxiety talking but he felt like this was a dumb idea. There wasn’t going to be anything interesting in there. Nothing he’d care about anyway.

“Okay, all clear.” Apollyon had a bit of slime on his shirt but apart from that he didn’t look any different. He gestured for Sebastian to follow him and the pair walked into the secret forest. The majority of the secret woods were covered in a thick canopy of trees yet it wasn’t dark in the slightest. There were fire flies or some kind of bioluminescent insect that bathed the whole place in an almost otherworldly glow.

“Whoa…”

Apollyon chuckled a little and walked a little deeper into the woods. “What? You never been in here before?”

“When I was younger, sure… Just not in the past few years.” There were several times when he was younger that he, Abby, and Sam would venture in here. However they always ran for it when the smiles appeared. They got in pretty deep a few times but they couldn’t stay for very long.

“Fair enough.” Apollyon walked to the ruins way in the back. He stabbed his sword into the ground and sat by the foot of the statue of Old Master Cannoli. Not too sure what to do, Sebastian also sat at the foot of the statue.

Although he didn’t really think it was a smart idea to ask Apollyon to bring him here, he had to admit it was peaceful. If he could get rid of the slimes coming here he would probably come here and smoke. It would make a nice change from just standing by the river near his house.

He could hear crickets chirping quietly in the underbrush and the occasional hoot of an owl as they went about their nocturnal business. It was peaceful. He stole a glance over at Apollyon and was a little surprised to see that the light from the insects gave his skin the same iridescent glow that the jellies had done previously. He looked amazing. This place, the secret woods, had to be other worldly in nature somehow.

Apollyon seemed to be distracted by looking at some kind of insect fluttering by, so Sebastian dared to look at him just that little bit longer. Looking past the almost ethereal glow that he had at the moment, Sebastian saw he had scrapes and cuts on his hands, and just peeking out of his collar were a few stray jellyfish stings. They looked like aggressively red lightning. A small reminder that he saved Sebastian from a world of pain.

Unfortunately for him, his staring didn’t go unnoticed. “You gonna keep looking at me or what?”

Sebastian blushed and looked away. “Sorry. I just… It must have really hurt.”

“It didn’t.”

“No seriously, you must have really been hurting.”

Apollyon smiled softly at him. “Well I’m being serious too. I got knocked the hell out a while ago and it fucked me up. I can’t feel pain anymore.”

That surprised him, but Sebastian wasn’t too sure he believed him fully. “Really?”

“Yep. Get something sharp and stab me.” Said Apollyon calmly. “Heck, punch me in the dick and well… I guess I’ll just feel you punching me in the dick, but without the pain. Harvey wants me to get my brain scan, but it’s not going to help.”

“Why?”

He sighed a little, running his hand through his hair. “… There’s something seriously fucked up with me.”

“Who isn’t fucked up?”

Apollyon chuckled a little and looked up at the canopy. The fire fly lights danced like stars in his eyes. “I’m being serious here Seb… Remember how my step dad told you I was a demon? He wasn’t pulling your leg. I really am one.”

Sebastian sighed when he heard that. Maybe Apollyon just felt like one because his step dad was an asshole to him for so long? Either way he wasn’t a real demon, unless he had some mental issues he didn’t know about. He’d just play along a little for now. “Really?”

“Yep. Ask me anything you want to know. I can answer most things.”

“Alright, where did you come from?” If he was going to play this weird game from out of nowhere he was going to play too.

“The Void obviously.” Said Apollyon calmly. “The cold place that’s said to be the physical barrier between this world at the Yoba plane… It’s very cold there… There’s no light there. The only warmth that exists is from the other creatures that live in there, but getting close to that warmth is a huge gamble. Back then I could have gotten eaten by anything.”

“You remember the Void and almost getting eaten?”

“Yep, and I didn’t say almost. I did get eaten.” Corrected Apollyon. “But due to the nature of demonic entities unless we’re completely eviscerated to the point where the majority of our cells are gone we keep coming back.” He shuddered a little. “It was really weird. Like I knew I wasn’t going to die, but whatever… I was some weird shapeless slug that slithered around just living my life in the darkness.”

Sebastian frowned a little. This just seemed like some stupid bad joke. A joke that wasn’t even ironically not funny. “So then how did you get here anyway?”

“I’m sure that Colt mentioned to you how I was born. He loves to harp on about that grotesque story…”

He had to agree that. It was a grotesque story. “Yeah.”

Apollyon chuckled a little and looked up at the canopy. It didn’t seem like there was much humour behind it, more like it was just a reaction he was having to this situation. “Well, I saw a light suddenly rip into the Void. Light is scary and everything went to run away. I was going to too, but the light touched me and it felt warm. I wanted that warmth. I followed it and I wasn’t shapeless anymore. I had a body with constraints. I couldn’t change and move the way I wanted to… And my mum, Elizabeth, she was the first thing I saw with these eyes and she was so warm.”

“Right… So you possessed some still born baby. How the hell does that work?” He still wasn’t buying this crap.

Either Apollyon didn’t notice Sebastian’s growing disinterest or he didn’t care and continued to talk. “Yeah, but possession is easier when you can inhabit a body that has no soul. I haven’t just inhabited this body anymore I am this body. It is a part of me and I am a part of it. Without a soul there is nothing forcing me back so I can’t fully take control of it. I’ve taken over every cell and mimicked it so that medically I look human, that is unless I took some extreme physical trauma.”

“Oh really? How interesting.” Sebastian took out his phone, wondering if there was any reception out here in the secret woods. He also wondered if this was the part where Apollyon went crazy and killed him.

Apollyon sighed a little. “Look, it’s fine with me if you think I’m crazy or want to avoid me. I’m fine with being left alone. It’s better that way.”

Suddenly it all seemed to click for Sebastian. Despite the absurdity of it all he couldn’t help but conclude that this elaborate story was just some rouse. Why though? Well, if all that shit he said about his step father was true, Apollyon probably had crushing self-esteem issues. Couple that with the fact he seemed fine to spend weeks alone on his farm. He probably had social anxiety issues too and wanted to be left alone because he was more comfortable that way.

He knew that feeling well. He himself had anxiety when he was around people and when he forced himself to go to all those damned social events he’d be drained for days on end. This weird tactic of saying he was some demon was just a defence mechanism Apollyon must have created to push people away when they started to get too close. That conclusion made his heart beat a little faster because that meant Apollyon considered Sebastian someone he was getting close to. Right?

Sebastian couldn’t help but let a small laugh escape his lips when he figured that out. If Apollyon felt that he was close to him in that way he decided to accept this nonsense, at least for now. “I’m not going to avoid you.”

Apollyon seemed surprised by this. “Really? You’re not?”

“Yeah. So you’re a demon. Who gives a fuck? Seriously in this day and age a demon from the actual Void is better than the government that’s actively trying to fuck everyone over.”

“… Thank you.” Apollyon looked relieved and kind of relaxed a little. As far as Sebastian was concerned he had proved, at least for the moment that he was willing to stick around him despite whatever unfortunate mental issues Apollyon might have.

***

Apollyon couldn’t believe his ears. Sebastian didn’t care about his weird existence. He actually accepted him. Yoba have mercy he was just telling Sebastian all this because he felt like he deserved a better explanation after Colt acted like an asshole and just blurted out his unnatural creation.

He thought that Sebastian would think he was a freak and just go home, avoiding him for the rest of their lives. Hell it worked on other people before he just learned to be an antisocial bastard that just worked well at keeping people away.

Sebastian accepted him. He accepted the strange and darker parts of his existence that most people just down right reject. He couldn’t stop his heart thumping loudly in his chest or the blush quickly dusting his face. Sebastian was different. Sebastian was… just was… he was amazing.

Yoba have mercy this man was causing to have so many different emotions all at once. He felt like he was caving in, no he had been caved in. He didn’t know what to think about this. Without really thinking about it, Apollyon reached over and lightly touched Sebastian’s hand, just for a moment.

Much to his surprise, Sebastian didn’t pull away and instead hooked one of his fingers around Apollyon’s finger. It made him smile a little. He felt a little anxious but at the same time he felt good. He liked being close to someone like this even if it was for a little while. Yoba, he felt like he was becoming bi polar at this point. One minute he was anxious, then angry, then exhausted. Actually he probably had depression more than anything else.

But he’d deal with that later. He was just happy that Sebastian was there with him in that moment and he didn’t think he was crazy.

“So,” said Sebastian. “Do you have a demon form or are you just good at mimicking humans?”

Apollyon smiled a little. “I look human until I take extreme physical trauma. So like unless I get decapitated or take on an injury that would kill a normal human I pretty much stay the same. Apart from that I have rapid healing for most things. Serious things heal fast while stuff like cuts and bruises take less of a priority. So I’ll have these jellyfish scars for a while.” It felt so good to talk to someone else about this. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

“Huh, so the only way to get you to change is if I stab you in the neck or something?” Asked Sebastian as he finished off his cigarette.

That made Apollyon laugh a little. “Well that’s not the only way. There are so many other ways that it could happen. Slitting my throat for example…” His mouth went dry at that thought and he unintentionally touched along his neck. “It was like fine hail across my skin…”

“Enough talk about this demon crap.” Said Sebastian calmly. “You don’t have to spill your guts out to me tonight… But have you gone and told anyone else this? This demon stuff?”

“Nope. No one else has met Colt so there’s no need for me to.”

“Okay… We should probably keep this between us for now. Other people might find it weird.”

The thought of telling anyone else this secret was enough to make Apollyon snort with laughter. “Trust me, I’m keeping this mouth of mine shut on this issue. Guess you could say it’s out little secret.”

Sebastian laughed a little. “Yep. Making secrets in the secret woods.” He looked up at the canopy and the two sat quietly for a while.

It was nice just to be close together. However in the back of his mind he felt like there was something there, whispering self-doubt and other kinds of nasty little things. Things that told him this was a bad idea, that he needed to back away slowly and go back to isolating himself from the rest of the town. For now this was good. He was kind of happy.

Chapter Text

The Junimos were in a panic and it was all because of Yellow and Orange. The two Junimo’s had been tasked with following the farmer around for the week and saw him confess his secret to Sebastian in the secret woods. It sent everyone into a panic because most of them had other ideas for who the farmer should take as a partner. Many Junimos were ripping up bits of paper and throwing them into the air while squealing about their upcoming plans being laid to ruin.

“But my plans for the library! Pretty book lady was going to be there! They were going to talk about the word squiggles!”

“I had plans for the farmer and Mr writer man to eat delicious foods on the beach!”

“I was gonna make the farmer and the drunk one go and look after chickens together! Did you know the farmer has chickens now?”

“The groovy lady and the farmer were the perfect pair!”

“But the spa house thing and grid ball… Grid ball and farmer…”

Green was watching the chaos unfold from the safety of the community center rafters. They themselves didn’t have too much to say on who the farmer’s partner was they just wanted them to have someone, anyone to help them take care of the farm. As long as this Sebastian fellow that Yellow and Orange spoke about made the farmer happy then it didn’t matter.

Blue waddled over and sat next to Green. “They are really going crazy huh?”

“Yeah. Weren’t you planning to get the famer together with the artsy wood lady?”

They shrugged. “Hey, plans change all the time. Adapt or die as the humans say.”

Green nodded in agreement and watched Junimos argue with each other for a while before standing up and stretching. “Well, I’m gonna go see Hat mouse.”

“Me too!” Said Blue. “I want to get an acorn while we’re out.”

Green gave Blue a weird look as they started to climb up and out a small hole in the roof of the community center. “Why?”

“Because it would make a cool looking hat.” Said Blue as they followed. “I want to pull the top half of it off, the little cap thing, and have a hat like that.”

“You’re too fat to be an acorn. And the wrong colour.” Reminded Green. They shimmied down the guttering and started to make their way over to Cindersap forest. They considered slipping into the sewers to get there, but that was where Krobus lived. The strange shadow brute seemed to prefer selling interesting and arcane goods, but that still didn’t mean he wouldn’t squash a Junimo if they crossed him on a bad day. They grabbed a bunch of fall leaves, intending to use them as camouflage as they slowly made their way along the edges of the town.

Blue did the same. “I’m not fat…” They muttered. “I am the perfect roundness for a Junimo.”

***

Deep in the lowest parts of the Cindersap forest there was an abandoned house. No one had been there for years and the building had fallen into disrepair. The roof had a hole in it and the walls had rotted away in some places. The original purpose of the house had long been forgotten and many speculated what it was for. The most logical explanation for it was that it was an abandoned cabin that might have belonged to a hunter in days gone by.

In the most recent years a new resident had taken over the abandoned building. A being known as Hat mouse. Hat mouse once used to live in the walls of 2 Willow Lane where they learnt how to make hats from the resident seamstress Emily.

They enjoyed the art of hat making so much they decided to open up a shop and happily sold their hats to whomever wished to purchase one. They once created a hat for the wizard and the wizard gave them the ability to change their size so they could make hats easier. It was very useful.

At the moment Hat mouse was busy making a new hat. A nice pair of earmuffs for the coming winter. Hopefully the farmer would come by soon. They sent a letter to them weeks ago. Maybe it got lost in the mail? They would send the farmer a new letter soon.

The sound of someone ringing the bell at the front desk made Hat mouse quickly scurry over. They poked their head out. “Yes? Me sell hats. You buy hats, yes? EEK!”

Standing before them was Morgan, the witch of the valley. In one hand she held her broom and in the other some kind of hand bag made of some kind of pulsing black leather. She didn’t seem too amused that Hat mouse squeaked at her like that. The witch looked about the same if it wasn’t for the fact she had no hat on her head.

“Excuse me, but I believe you have my hat fixed by now.” She said calmly.

“Yes! Fixed hat! Me fix!” Hat mouse quickly scurried away and came back with a sparkly black and blue hat box with a big shiny white ribbon. “Me fix hat good?”

Morgana took the hat out of the box and inspected it. She turned it over and looked at it this way and that way. She ran her thumb over the shiny golden lock a few times before putting it on her head. Hat mouse waited with baited breath. If Morgana wasn’t happy then they could expect a world of pain.

“Yes, you did fix hat good.” Morgana held up her bag and it spat 1,000g onto the front counter. “I’ll be sure to visit again the next time it gets a hole burnt into it.”

Hat mouse quickly scooped the gold up in their paws. “Many thanks. Me make good hats. Good hats for all people.”

“Hat mouse!” Called the voice of the wizard. “I require your assistance with- Oh, Morgana…”

Hat mouse squeaked in fear. It was well known among the magical residents of Pelican town that the wizard and the witch were angry with each other and therefor needed to be kept away from each other. Unless all hell breaking out was something you wanted to happen on your doorstep.

Morgana glared at the Wizard with venom. “Hello Ras, or should I call you the fucking cheater that can’t keep it in his damn pants!”

“I made a terrible mistake. It was a lapse in judgment and I regret it every day.” Said the Wizard. “You look good today…”

“Flattery will get you nowhere you loveless bastard!” Morgana’s fingers crackled with purple lightening as she started to draw some kind of magic circle in the air in front of her.

Hat mouse squeaked in terror and quickly closed up shop, scurrying down to the basement of the house where they kept most of their hat supplies. As they dashed down the stairs they couldn’t help but notice Green and Blue the Junimos sitting by their sewing supplies.

Green waved at them. “Can we have hats please?”

Blue held up the cap of an acorn. “I want one like this! One like this!”

Hat mouse chuckled a little and quickly got to work finding patterns and the right fabric. They often made little hats for the Junimos. Mainly because they thought hats were neat and they kept losing the damn things every other day.

The sound of a tree shattering made all three occupants look up at the ceiling. Hat mouse sighed dramatically. “Witch and Wizard being all men. Going to destroy me hat shop. Where me sell hats if no hat shop?”

“Community center?” Suggested Blue as they picked up a button. “So what are they yelling about now anyway?”

Hat mouse shrugged. “Usual. Witch say Wizard is scum. Wizard apologizes. Witch blows up wizard. Repeat.”

Green sighed dramatically. “Those two need to talk it out properly. Maybe then things wouldn’t blow up so much around here. They can only cast that cone of silence spell thing so many times before someone notices some kind of bluish purple translucent dome.”

Hat mouse agreed. “Me house needs protection charm. Get wizard to make one. Me sell hats. Me need hat shop. Community center is Junimos home. Not hat shop.” A loud thump rocked the ground and shook the empty hat boxes off in the corner. “Hope they stop fighting soon…”

***

After an intense five minutes of flinging spells at each other both Morgana and the wizard were tired. They weren’t as young as they used to be and casting magic around like it was nothing took a lot out of the both of them.

“Can we talk now my dear lily pad?” Asked the Wizard cautiously.

“Suck a dick Rasmodius!” Snapped Morgana. “You don’t get to call me those things anymore! Kill yourself and I might be able to forgive your reincarnation!”

The Wizard sighed a little and massaged his temples. He felt like he was developing a headache. “Morgana please… I actually need to speak to you about a serious matter concerning the farmer.”

That seemed to pique her interest a little. “The farmer? What about him?” She sat on her broom and happily crossed her legs as it hovered in the air. “Did he do something bad?”

“Not yet, but you’ve done something to him.” He crossed his arms and glared at her in an attempt to stare her down, but it wasn’t working.

Morgana laughed at him and feigned innocence. “Me? What could I have possibly done to that little demon? If he wants to play cabbage farmer then who am I to stop him?”

“Morgana! He has come to me and gone to see his mother Elizabeth! Whatever you’ve done to him has disturbed him! What did you do?”

The witch sighed dramatically. Mentioning Elizabeth seemed to soften her mood a little, either that or she was too confident in her own abilities. “Okay look, he’s kind of half and half right? But he’s been living like a human for all of it. Time for him to live like a demon for a bit, don’t you think?”

The implications for this were catastrophic. “Morgana, you can’t be serious… He’s partially human… If the farmer were to be consumed by that emotional rage machine there’s no telling what it could do! It could rampage out there and k-”

“Kill someone?” Asked Morgana sweetly. “That’s the plan. Pelican town’s been blessed by Yoba’s light for far too long. A little murder will balance everything out once again don’t you think?”

The Wizard was horrified. “Are you out of your mind? Murder? You’re planning a murder? What is wrong with you?!”

“Hey this is your fault too!” She snapped. “You’ve been soooooooo adamant about making this town a place for good and neutral spirits. Did you think if the mines had a few monsters running around in them that would be enough? Fat fucking chance! The only way things will balance out now is if something super tragic happens! I can’t just fly around and randomly curse shit!” A wicked smile graced her face. “No Apollyon will help me out with this. I already explained it to him as best as his stupid mind could understand.”

This wasn’t right. Sure he had done what he could to make Pelican Town a safe place for spirits, but he didn’t realize he had disrupted the balance to such a degree. How could he? He was just doing what he thought was right. Had he tipped the scales so much that he was no longer able to fix it himself? He had to try something, anything to fix this mess.

“Then kill me.” He said. “Let my death balance out the scales and allow the valley to reset as it were.”

Morgana scoffed at the notion. “You? As much as I want you dead as road kill, you are important for balancing Yoba’s light. If you die some little shit head mage might try and take control of the tower and fuck that. The youth these days are reckless and dumb. Thinking that Yoba’s light is all important and you don’t need the Void’s darkness to balance it out. No, it will be someone from the village… Someone people will mourn. Someone close to the farmer…” She smirked. “And considering the cute little randevu those two had last night I have a pretty good idea who’s getting their guts eaten while Apollyon pins them to the dirt.”

The Wizard’s stomach turned. He could get a Junimo to tell him who Apollyon was getting close to later. Now he had a few other things on his mind. He had to try and reason with her. “Morgana, just because Apollyon’s demon side is starting to come through doesn’t mean anything. He is a very strong willed man.”

“The strong will of man means nothing with faced with a ravenous, starving beast.” She countered. With a small kick of her heels she slowly started to circle Rasmodious. “First I cast a spell on him to force his suppressed emotions from years of menial office work to the surface. Oh the murderous depravity. I can only imagine what demons dream of. Then I cast a second spell, one that slowly returns his body it its natural state of being. Demon’s don’t feel pain Ras. Now neither does he.”

“… Are you trying to drive him mad?” Asked the Wizard in disgust. “This is much too far for even you Morgana. Undo your cursed magic and let Apollyon live his life as he sees fit! I’m sure you can come up with something else that’s just as devastating as murder!”

She shook her head. “Nope. It’s already set in motion. I already started phase three of my plan. One and two were all about getting emotionally disturbed and used to his demon senses again, or lack thereof.” She giggled gleefully at the thought. “This is going to be fun!” Before The Wizard could say anything else, Morgana quickly flew off back to her hut with a cackle.

He sighed a little and massaged his temples again. He really needed to stop this potential murder, but at the same time if Morgana was right then stopping this murder was going to be more trouble than it was worth. No, he had to stop this, or at least try and prevent this. He had to. He was many things but he wasn’t going to let Morgana try and fix the balance this way.

“… Hats?”

The Wizard jumped a little and looked back over at Hat mouse. They looked a little worried as they tried to inspect the potential damage done to the house. “Ah yes. Sorry about that. We avoided causing needless damage to your humble abode.”

Hat mouse nodded a little. “Fix hat? Buy hat? Me sell hats.”

“Yes, yes…” He took off his hat and passed it to Hat mouse. “There is a rather large moth living somewhere in my tower and it started to eat through my hat.”

Hat mouse nodded and inspected the hat. “Three days fix. Bring me charm?”

“Charm? What charm?”

“Protection charm. Save hat shop.” Said Hat mouse. As they spoke Green and Blue climbed up onto the counter top. Blue was wearing a beanie that looked like the top of an acorn and Green had a tiny bowlers hat. They waved up at the Wizard.

“Yes of course. One protection charm.” He said as his attention was quickly drawn to the Junimos. “Now you two I need to ask you a very important question, who has the farmer gotten close to?”

Chapter Text

Sweet Yoba how did things end up this way? The farmer had just turned up out of nowhere while Sebastian was just typing out some simple code to fix a catastrophic problem for a client, and now they were smoking pot. But smoking lead to talking, and talking lead to longing looks, longing looks lead to touching, and touching lead to well what they were doing now.

Sebastian was splayed out on his back, watching the smoke swirl around his head while Apollyon’s fingers started tracing his sides in an almost feather like manner. He was slowly pushing the thick material of Sebastian’s hoodie up and devouring each new piece of skin with lazy licks and kisses. His actions sent small shockwaves through Sebastian’s body that went straight to his groin.

He felt like a virgin again, which was far from the truth. Sebastian had a few sexual partners in the past. His first time had been with a girl in his history class. She looked pretty and said that she liked him. They had done it in the back of car during some drive in movie. It was awkward, and kind of clunky, and felt wrong to him. They broke up soon after that.

His second time had been a one night stand with a man in Zuzu. They were both a little tipsy and the sex was rougher than he would have liked, but it was a thousand times better than with a woman. It felt right and drove him wild in a way nothing else had. Like any new experience that flooded his mind with endorphins Sebastian wanted more, and he got more. For a few months he had gone to Zuzu to have a few more one night stands. That didn’t last. He didn’t like the idea of one night stands. He wanted more.

“Hey.” Whispered Apollyon, his voice snapping Sebastian out of his daze. He was face to face with him now. “Don’t think about them. I’m the only one with you now.”

His heart felt like it was going to leap out of his chest. He didn’t realize how desperate he was for this to happen. Sebastian reached out and tangled his fingers in Apollyon’s hair as he pulled into a feverish kiss that left them both panting. But neither had time to catch their breath as Apollyon pulled him back in for another.

Sebastian let out moan as Apollyon’s skillful hands made their way back down to his hips and grab his ass. He raised his hips, trying to get Apollyon to touch him somewhere else. Somewhere he desperately needed.

“A-Apollyon, please…” He whispered.

“Please what Sebby?” Purred Apollyon. “You want me to touch this?” He groped Sebastian through his pants. He bit his bottom lip, trying hard to hold back a moan. “Or would you rather touch this instead?” Apollyon took Sebastian’s hand and shoved it down his pants, beneath his underwear. He didn’t break eye contact the whole time he let Sebastian touch and grope his semi-erect cock.

Yoba have mercy he was huge already and getting larger with every squeeze. Just feeling how large he was just excited Sebastian even more. “Fuck, I want it all Apollyon. Give it to me, please.”

Apollyon moaned softly, rolling his hips into Sebastian’s hand. “Hmm, by the time I’m done with you you’re not gonna be able to tell the difference between Java script and C#.”

Sebastian shivered in anticipation. If Apollyon did indeed keep that promise he wasn’t going to be able to sit properly for a week either. As Apollyon undid his pants and pull them off along with his underwear, Sebastian couldn’t help but gasp as the cool air of his room hit his cock.

Apollyon hummed in approval at this. No wait, he was humming a tune? No not a tune. A rhythmic beat? Why? What on earth was Apollyon doing?

***

Sebastian’s eyes snapped open. Without moving out of bed he grabbed his phone to see who was messaging him at the ungodly hour of eight in the morning. Mother fucking Sam. He was going to murder him for cock blocking him. Was it even technically a cock block if it was a wet dream? Maybe? Screw it, Sam was dead.

Apparently he was asking where he was. As it turned out today was the day of the Stardew Valley Fair. If that was the case his mum was going to come down any second to make sure he was ready to head down by eight thirty.

Moments later Robin knocked on his bedroom door. “Come on Sebby. Time to get up. The fair will be starting soon.”

“… I’ll be up soon mum.” Called Sebastian. Once he heard Robin ascending the staircase he lifted his bed sheets to see if he needed to beat one out or change his bed sheets. Thankfully for him he wasn’t going to have to do a suspiciously large load of laundry today. He quickly took care of himself, got dressed and begrudgingly went to start his day.

He walked down to the town with the rest of his family and quickly went off to meet Sam and Abigail. Abigail was busy trying to bet Sam’s high score at the Slingshot booth, but she wasn’t doing too well by the way she was turning red in the face and Sam was laughing.

“Come on Abby.” He said. “It’s not that hard.”

“Sam, I swear to Yoba if you don’t shut the fuck up right now I am going to shoot you in the dick and shove the handle of this slingshot down your dick hole.”

Sam cringed a little at that thought and glanced over at Sebastian, grinning. “He Seb, you made it before midday.”

Sebastian shrugged. “Well, my mum woke me up for this.” He had a quick look around at the other stalls set up around the place. He noticed Apollyon placing produce in his grange display. Just seeing the farmer made him blush as the lewd images of his dream quickly invaded his mind. Yoba, he liked Apollyon. There he admitted it. He liked the weird farmer.

Suddenly Abby was hanging off him, grinning. “Hey Seb, you looking at the farmer’s ass?”

He blushed. “Shut up Abby.”

“You so totally are.” She playfully poked his side as he gestured over to Apollyon. “Oh yeah babe, you bend over and shake that booty.”

He lightly shoved her. “Piss off Abby. I’m not staring at his ass.”

“Whose ass are you staring at?” Asked Apollyon.

Sebastian was sure his face was bright red now. “No one. I’m going to smoke somewhere quiet. Too many tourists.” He quickly scurried off to a quiet part of the fair, leaving his friends mildly confused.

***

Apollyon didn’t really know what was wrong with Sebastian. He’d just come over to see what was going on with the trio. Maybe Sebastian had just realized that Apollyon was someone he needed to avoid at all costs or something? He wouldn’t blame him if that was the case.

Thankfully Abby pulled him out of his negative spiral by playfully bumping her hip into his. “So what did you put in your grange display? My dad’s been stressing about it for weeks.”

“Oh um, a large brown egg, mayonnaise, a crab, some flowers, and some corn.” He listed off each item on his fingers. “Pretty sure I won’t win, but it’s still fun to participate. Your dad really seems into it. He told me he hasn’t lost a single year.”

Abby shrugged. “Yeah well, he’s competitive when it comes to produce… Soooooooo, you do something to our boy Sebby?”

“… What?”

Sam grinned. “Yeah. He got all flustered when he saw you.”

Apollyon really hoped that Sebastian wasn’t weirded out by his demon thing. He seemed cool about it before. “Um, I guess that’s kind of weird…”

Abby grinned. “Hey, crazy idea, ask Sebastian out on a date.”

Apollyon sighed a little. “Look, he isn’t interested in me and I don’t do long term relationships.” It wasn’t like he didn’t try when he was interested in someone, but his long term relationships either ended because they thought he was crazy and left, or if they were a magic user they usually tended to try and murder him. He liked Sebastian too much for something like that to happen.

Abby scowled at him for that. “Seriously? Come on Apollyon. He’s kind of crazy about you in his own Sebastian way. Trust me, Sam and I have known him way longer than you. He likes you.”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Yep. By now he’s probably reached stage five.” He started counting off each stage on his fingers. “First, there’s annoyed denial, raging denial, quiet contemplation, denial, and embarrassed denial. Final stage is reluctant acceptance, which is usually followed by crushing depression since he’s a dumb gay boy and keeps falling for those damn straights.”

“… You speaking from experience Sammy?” Asked Apollyon.

“Ben.” Said Abby and Sam in unison. Noticing his quizzical look, Abby quickly filled him in. “Guy at our high school. He was pretty cool but you could use him as an accurate ruler he was so straight. It really crushed him when he started going out with Sarah-Ann.”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Yeah, but you know what? I think it was an even bigger blow to him because he was dating Sarah-Ann a week before they broke up just so she could get with Ben… Ah, I miss the days of high school drama.”

“I thought Sebastian wasn’t into women?”

“Well not anymore.” Said Abby. “For a while he thought he was bisexual, that’s why he dated Sarah-Ann. He had this idea in his head that it was better to like both then to just like dick. Teenage logic is weird.”

After that brief bit of relationship history the trio talked for a little more before they all went their separate ways. While Apollyon waited for Lewis to judge the grange displays he went around and looked at all the other things the fair had to offer. A few game stands, a sad clown doing some clown tricks, Marlon, Robin, and Clint were showing off their skills when it came to weapons, carpentry, and smelting respectively, There was an animal petting zoo, someone was telling fortunes, and Gus was giving away free burgers.

Be still his beating heart the second he learned that the burgers were free started piling burgers onto his plate and stuffing his face. Yoba have mercy he hadn’t been able to cook for himself because he was running himself ragged these days. Most days he just ate whatever his grubby little hands could snatch up while foraging. These burgers were so good. The meat was cooked to perfection with such wonderful and crisp vegetables, and that BBQ sauce? It had to be homemade.

Gus seemed pleased that Apollyon was stuffing his face. “Ha, maybe I should consider charging these burgers if you’re gonna pack them away like that.”

Apollyon shrugged as he downed his sixth burger. “Hey, I’d pay for it. These are really good… And I kind of didn’t eat before I came here.”

He let out a bellowing laugh before dropping off some more napkins and heading back to the BBQ. Apollyon loved hearing the sizzle of perfectly seasoned food cooking on any kind of hot surface; BBQ, pan, spit, heck he loved the sound of bacon sizzling on a hot tin roof. However, after eating around ten of Gus’s amazing survival burgers the sound and smell of delicious foods was starting to make him feel nauseous.

He quickly left that place and wandered down to the animals. Jas and Vincent were happily running around attempting to reach into every pen to touch every animal. Luckily for the children, Shane looked relatively sober and was watching them closely, along with the chickens. Harvey was also there so the kids wouldn’t be in any danger at all.

Apollyon hummed a little to himself and leaned over one of the pens, looking at the pigs. “Hello pre bacon. Don’t you look nice and juicy today?” The pig gave Apollyon a disgusted look before trotting away to lean against its water trough. “… Oops. Sorry?”

“Never thought I’d see you here Apollyon.” Cooed Gadreel as he slipped next to him.

Apollyon jumped a little, but quickly regained his composure. “The fuck are you doing here?”

Gadreel chuckled a little. “You’re always so eloquent when it comes to your greetings.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flyer, handing it over. It was one for the Stardew Valley fair. On the back someone scribbled a message simply saying ‘A familiar demon lives here’. Apollyon passed it back without much of second thought. “This was left in my mailbox a few days ago. I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to see who I was going to meet again.”

“… Well it’s a good thing I’m just visiting.” He lied. “I’d have to kill you if you found out where I was really hiding out.”

He smirked. “Oh really now? I asked that nice women, the one with the green hair, about where the majority of the fresh produce comes from around here. Said most of it came from a place called Hellfire Farm run by a farmer named Apollyon. Your name is not a very common one.”

“… Fuck.” Damn that Caroline and her need to make small talk with the damn tourists. “So what? I live here. Now that you know that I have to kill you.”

Gadreel just laughed at the thought. “Oh Apollyon, we don’t have to go through that happy little song and dance again. At least not today. I’m just doing a little recon today.”

“Oh? I’m flattered you’d do all that for me.” Well Apollyon was going to abandon his farm and start his life as a hermit. He could be the other hermit and learn all the hermit things from Linus. He seemed to have the hermit shtick down to a fine art. “Guess I should be expecting a visit from you soon?”

He shrugged. “Perhaps. It all depends on how I feel.” He hummed happily as he watched some piglets snuffle around in the dirt. “I saw that Sebastian fellow again, but I don’t think he saw me through that haze of smoke.”

A small growl attempted to claw its way out his throat, but he somehow managed to hold it back. “You stay away from him.”

Gadreel grinned. He seemed to relish Apollyon’s discomfort and growing anger. “Why? You laid some weird, disgusting demonic claim on him or something?”

“Go back to Zuzu and get hit by a train.” Snarled Apollyon. Truth be told he didn’t really know what a demonic entity like himself was meant to do if he found someone he wanted to be with. He had no idea if their relationship models were more based on human or animal relationships. Even then if it was animal there was a huge variation in relationship types in the animal kingdom. He really had no idea but he doubted that he would try and physically mark someone. Humans seemed to be the ones that were obsessed with marking what they think is their property.

No matter what he seemed to say or how he said it Gareel seemed to find it all amusing in some way or another. “Come on Apollyon, show some humanity and be nice to me… Well I guess you can’t really do that now can you? Show humanity. Can’t show something you never had.”

Apollyon growled at Gadreel, baring his teeth and digging his nails into the wooden fence of the pig pen. More than anything he wanted to grab Gadreel and rip out his fucking throat. However he’d have to just settle for angry glaring instead.

“Nice acting demon, but you’re not fooling anyone.” He hummed a little and turned to leave. “I’ll be back soon Apollyo, and when I do I’ll bring some friends. You better hope that when we come for you that we’re far away from the people that live here. I might be one to try and minimize collateral damage, but most of my friends believe that the ends justify the means.”

Purely on reflex Apollyon reached back and grabbed his arm, pulling him back. “If you’re gonna fucking fight me it’s gonna be on my farm. Nowhere else, got it?”

Gadreel shrugged off Apollyon’s grip. “Well, I guess if a monster like you is bothering to fake concern for humans I guess I can grant you that wish. It’s the least I can do for an old classmate.” He smiled ever so sweetly at Apollyon. “I’ll come by before the feast of the winter star. That should be enough time for you to get your affairs in order.”

Every instinct was telling Apollyon to pounce on Gadreel and rip into him. He hadn’t just threatened his life, he’d gone and threatened leveling the town. He didn’t care if Gadreel thought he was putting on an act or not. He wasn’t the most righteous of men but he wasn’t going to let innocent people get hurt because of him. He was going to find a way to fix this.

***

Sebastian felt dumb. He’d immediately run away from Apollyon after talking with him for two seconds and had gone through almost half a pack of cigarettes. He really needed to start cutting back. Maybe start chewing nicotine gum, or the nicotine patches maybe? Something to think about later.

Abby popped up next to him and shoved a plate of food into his hands. “Eat up bitch. You can’t live off coffee and nicotine.”

He sighed and reluctantly ate what she’d given him without really looking. “So, is the fair over yet?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Come on Seb, it’s only just midday.”

Abby nodded in agreement. “Yeah, we still gotta at least get our fortunes read by Welwick. Sammy’s already gone and done his.”

“Yep.” Sam was practically beaming. “She saw me playing guitar on stage in front of people. So I’m guessing we might get a gig soon. Either that or we’re going on one of those talent shows.”

“I refuse to be part of any reality TV show.” Said Sebastian bluntly. “They are bullshit and create fake drama for the sake of ratings. I would rather give myself a battery acid enema.”

Abby pulled a face. “Ew. I’m gonna go and see what Welwick has to say about me. Get over to the graveyard when you’re done.” She quickly ran off. The boys followed her at a much slower pace. By the time they got there Abby was just finishing up her fortune reading. She seemed very pleased.

“What did she see Abs?” Asked Sam.

“I’m gonna pass my online course.” Said Abby happily. “There’s also a chance I’m gonna find and or get given something amazing soon. I hope it’s a large deposit in my bank account.”

Sebastian didn’t believe in the fortune telling business. He thought it was pretty stupid, but it was fun stupid. Kind of like how people would watch a terribly acted and directed movie to make fun of it.

While Abby and Sam were talking about their perceived good luck, Sebastian walked into the tent. Welwick was sitting on her chair behind a table with intricate celestial patterns carved into it with a large crystal ball dead center. Welwick herself was a little old woman wearing a heavy blue woolen robe and red lipstick that was just a bit too bright and kind of looked painted on.

She smiled sweetly at him and gestured to the chair. “Ah, I suspected you would be coming here today.”

“Did you see that in your crystal ball?” He asked as he took a seat.

“Nope. You three come in here every year.” She waved her hand over the crystal ball, making the insides swirl with smoke. “But let’s forget about the past. We’re here to see into the future.”

Sebastian sat back and watched her put on her little show with her hand waving and visual effects she used in the crystal ball. He had a theory that she had some kind of peddle under the table, or button that she would press to make these things happen. It was pretty neat and he had to give her points for trying to create an atmosphere.

“I see… a field. You’re standing with someone. A young man. You two are close. Very close. You’re anxious but happy. Now I see… snow. Lots of snow. But there is something else mixed in with it. It’s hard to tell if it’s red or black. Perhaps burnt embers? There’s an animal, wounded, hunted. It’s furious… You’re standing over someone. They are very sick. However, you’re both happy… That is all the crystal shows me.”

“… Right.”

“Now remember, the future isn’t set in stone. You have the power to change your fate.”

“Okay. See you next year.” He always hated when fortune tellers said that kind of line. It was just a way to cover their own asses in case they got their prediction wrong. It was a lazy copout. The moment he stepped out of the tent Abby and Sam looked at him expectantly. “… I think I’m gonna see someone either shoot a bear or set a bear on fire and shoot it.”

Sam nodded in approval. “Metal.”

Chapter Text

Apollyon still couldn’t feel pain and it sucked. Now normally people would think this would be manageable as long as you looked after yourself. However, Apollyon wasn’t a careful person. He somehow managed to fuck up his hand with a meat tenderizer while he was attempting to prepare a stew for dinner that night.

He got distracted by Goblin and ended up crushing the back of his hand with a sickening crunch. It kind of sounded like someone crushed a bag of potato chips in their fist. Apollyon spent a few minutes trying to find a bandage or something to wrap it in. He ended up using a tea towel. With any luck he’s be fine by evening.

When he eventually went outside he was surprised to see Gunther. He was the strange man in the big blue cowboy hat that ran the library/museum. Every now and then Apollyon would bring cool looking artifacts and interesting rocks down for him to put on display.

“Morning Mr Apollyon.” He said with a slight twang to his voice. “I hope it’s not too early.”

“Not at all. I was just coming out to do some farming, as a farmer does. What’s up?”

“Well, I just wanted to stop by and thank you in person for all the wonderful artifacts and minerals you’ve discovered… you’ve done so much for just one person.” He reached into his pocket and took out a rusty looking key. “I have a gift for you. It’s an old key that’s been sealed in the museum vault for at least a hundred years. It’s rusty but still beautiful.”

Apollyon took the key off him and nodded. It really was beautiful. The handle of the key had a few interesting patterns carved into it and the rusty colour made it look a little like it was made of bronze. “Cool. Thanks Gunther.”

The man nodded a little and tipped his hat. “I’ll be seeing you around soon.” Gunther left and now Apollyon had to wonder what the mysterious key could open. He’d be spending most of the day figuring this mystery out.

Luckily for him there were very few locked doors around Pelican Town. Strangely enough though it happened to be the key to the sewers. It seemed strange that the sewer key was in a safe somewhere for a hundred years, but who was he to complain? To satisfy his curiosity he ventured into the sewers to see what was in there, besides rivers of piss and shit.

It didn’t seem like there was much in there and he was going to head back, but he heard something weird in a far off corner. He quickly found the source of the sound, it seemed to be a Shadow Brute. It was gently nudging a few pots around with its body. It didn’t seem to have hands. It quickly spotted Apollyon and its strange eyes grew wide for a moment.

“H-hello?” It said quietly. Normally these creatures wouldn’t say anything besides a strangled moan. It was probably some strange Shadow Brute trick. Now Apollyon didn’t have his sword with him, but he did have his fishing rod. He was pretty damn sure he could skewer this one and run like hell if he had to. “Oh, don’t be alarmed.” It said. “My name is Krobus. I’m not like other Shadow Brutes. I simply wish to trade.”

“… Trade? You’re a shop keeper?” Apollyon was still very cautious.

Krobus nodded. “Yes… Um, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but you yourself seem to be… You give off a strange energy for a human.”

“… Yeah, I’m not fully human. According to most magic users I am a demon in human skin.” This Shadow Brute didn’t seem to be hostile but he wasn’t letting his guard down just yet. “So… Who knows you’re here anyway?”

“The Wizard, witch, Junimos and more magically inclined individuals like yourself.” Krobus made a humming sound as it looked at Apollyon’s bandaged hand. “Did you hurt yourself?”

“Pain isn’t something I have much of a concept of these days.” Apollyon flexed his hand, noting that it felt like someone was popping bubble wrap under his skin as his bones slowly reconfigured into what was universally known as a human hand. It would be healed by the end of the day at this rate.

“If you’re trying to blend in and be human you should take better care of yourself.” Said Krobus calmly. “Humans tend to attack and fear the things they do not understand. I’d hate to see you harmed for simply existing.”

“… So I’m guessing you know how it feels?”

“To be hunted and killed on sight? Yeah. You were planning to hurt me too. It’s okay. I understand.”

Now Apollyon felt guilty. “Yeah… Sorry. Most Shadow Brutes see me and attack… You aren’t mad I killed some, are you?”

“Not at all. Death as you see it is quite different for Shadow Brutes. We simply dissipate for a few hours before we pull ourselves together.” Said Krobus calmly. “It’s an evolutionary trait we developed from our ancestors… Though it gets harder to pull ourselves together the older we get and the more times we get killed.” The Shadow Brute’s eyes grew large and glowed for a few moments as a menu made of smoke appeared in front of it.

Taking the hint, Apollyon looked through it, seeing what Krobus had on offer. He kind of liked the look of the Void egg, stardrop, and return scepter. Unfortunately he only had enough money for the egg. “Evolved? So where did you Shadow Brutes come from anyway?”

“We were creatures that were born from the Void but were given Yoba’s light.” Said Krobus. That was something new that Apollyon hadn’t heard of before. As far as he knew everything that was born of the Void was forever devoid of Yoba’s light. Just their existence alone in a world created by Yoba was an unforgivable act of perversion. “Through Yoba’s light we were able to live and coexist in this world.”

“Is that even possible? For a Void creature to be given Yoba’s light?”

“We Shadow Brutes believe that Yoba themselves was once a Void creature. They just possess the ability to create light and life.” Said Krobus. “But I know many humans believe Yoba was created separate from the Void. They want to believe in a completely divine being but the truth is if there was such a creature in existence then there would be no need for this world. Everything would be perfect and all would be lovingly worshiping Yoba. Only a flawed being could create a world of perfect and flawed creations to exist in this perfect and flawed world.”

Apollyon stared at Krobus completely dumbfounded for a few minutes. Truly they were wise beyond their years. “You know, I didn’t expect to have this kind of religiously philosophical discussion with someone today.”

Krobus shrugged. “I guess, but you must admit it does give monsters and those who manage to escape the Void some small semblance of hope.” The monster seemed very content in his own beliefs. “So don’t be sad. Even if you can’t love yourself, Yoba loves you. Don’t be sad, even if the people of this world turn against you, Yoba is on your side. Don’t be sad. Even if the world won’t forgive you, Yoba will forgive you.”

“That some kind of prayer?” Asked Apollyon. “Can I have a void egg?”

Krobus blinked and a void egg appeared in Apollyon’s hands. His wallet also felt a little lighter. “I guess you could say it is a mix between prayer and reassurance that we have lives worth living. I can only assume someone such as yourself needs words like that once in a while.”

“Alright.” He turned the egg over in his hand a few times and decided to make his way out of the sewer.

“Please come back soon.” Said Krobus. “I’d be happy to sell you more things or talk some more. I haven’t met someone fresh from the Void before. It is, interesting.”

Apollyon nodded a little and headed out. He went out the way he came and ended up back in Cindersap forest. He sat under a tree and looked out to sea. Krobus had given him a lot to think about. It seemed weird for a thing that originally came from the Void to worship Yoba. If something like that could believe Yoba cared about them did he even stand a chance and some kind of redemption? He didn’t know.

His whole life he had been told he was some abominable monster by practically everyone that knew his true nature but his mother. She would hold him and tell him he was special. That Yoba didn’t care where he came from as long as he was a good person. The rest of humanity didn’t share the same views.

Maybe if what Krobus said was true, then maybe he had been wrong about himself. Maybe there were some things he had been putting off because of his own preconceived prejudice? But what exactly? The answer was pretty obvious when he gave himself a few seconds to actually think about it, relationships. What kind of relationship could he feasibly have with a human anyway, and what human would want him?

Well he already had half the answer to that. Sebastian allegedly liked him, according to Abigail and Sam anyway, and Seb already knew he was a demon. So there wasn’t really any huge and nasty surprises there. He also did think Sebastian was a pretty cute looking guy and was more than happy to learn more about him. He really could go for it and actually ask Sebastian out.

He blushed at all the couple thoughts that came to his mind. Mostly innocent things like watching TV together, cooking together, waking up next to each other, hell even holding hands made his stomach flutter in ways it hadn’t in a while. It was pleasant in so many ways. Though before he actually asks Sebastian if he’s interested in dating though, he would need to hang out with him a little more to make sure they worked well together. Then again, after hammering in that he could never have that kind of a relationship with a human his whole life, could he even be anyone’s boyfriend at this point?

He also technically had some kind of a hit out on him and could technically be murdered any day now, but that was kind of neither here nor there for him at this point. Life was not that that good for a demon like him.

***

Much to Sebastian’s surprise, he had gotten a letter. It was left on the kitchen table when he went up to get his coffee late in the morning. It was in some weird looking envelope that kind of looked like it was made from recycled paper, and the ink that was used to write his name on it seemed rather fancy with their handwriting.

He sat at the table and opened the letter. It was some fancy paper. The only real way he could describe it was that it looked like the shades of blue that accompanied the setting sun and the ink was golden. He hadn’t ever gotten a letter like this before.

Dear Sebastian
My sources tell me you’ve caught the eye of someone ‘special’ in our community. I hope that you will find the enclosed protection charm useful as your relationship moves forward. If you have any questions please feel free to visit me. -M. Rasmodius, Wizard.

Confused, Sebastian tipped the envelope upside down and out tumbled a small pendant. He picked it up and inspected it. For what it was it was pretty small and seemed to be made from animal bone. On one side there was some kind of pentagram carved into it and on the back was a circle of tiny runic symbols around the symbol of Yoba.

“… The fuck?” He took out his phone and took a photo of the pendant, both front and back, and set it to his occult expert, Abigail. Seconds later she messaged him and let him know that she was going to be there ASAP.

He walked back to his room with all important things in hand and waited for her to show up. About half an hour later he could hear the muffled sounds of Abby quickly exchanging pleasantries with Robin before she barreled down the stairs and almost tripped over her own two feet.

“Ack!” She squawked as she adjusted her backpack. “Okay, I made it. Where did you get the thingy?”

Sebastian shrugged and tossed it to her. “Wizard gave it to me.”

Abby gasped and dived for the charm, easily catching it. “The Wizard? The weird loner guy that lives in the tower that may or may not be an actual wizard?” She held the charm up to the dim light of the basement and hummed a little. “… What did he say to you?”

“Nothing. He sent it to me in a letter.” He passed her the letter and let her read it. While she read it he finished off the last of his coffee. Nothing was better than a strong bitter brew when you first got up.

“Huh… Interesting…” Abby sat on the couch and took her book on occult rituals and spells out of her bag and started to look through it. “This is probably going to take a while… But what did the Wizard mean by you catching the eye of a special someone? He’s gotta mean Apollyon, right? Who else could it be?”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and started checking his emails. He had no work today. No clients. But if he pretended he was working Abby might shut it for a few minutes and let him be. “He’s a weirdo. I just called you here so you could figure out what that charm thing is before I toss it. I don’t need any dumb magic charm.”

Abby pouted at that. “Sebastian, the spirits are not folks you should piss off and annoy. Magic is real and if the Wizard really is a wizard he’s given you a real genuine magical artifact… And apparently this specific pentagram either repels or traps demons… and or bad spirits.”

“Thought you were an expert on this stuff? That’s why I called you for.”

Abby rolled her eyes. “Seb, not all magic is the same. You have so many different branches with so many different religions both pagan and universally recognized by modern times as actual religion. I’m just someone with a basic knowledge on this stuff…” She rolled the pendant in her hand, looking frustrated. “At least I know the difference between at least five different Western pagan magic’s and stuff… Can tell the difference between a death curse and a good luck charm…”

Sebastian sighed a little, running his fingers through his hair. “Look, this kind of stuff is all gibberish to me. Try not to take much offence, okay?”

“Fine. Want to know what the back part of the pendant is? I know what is.”

“Sure.”

“It’s a good luck charm. The first three runes at the top mean light, the ones at the bottom mean purity, and the ones on the sides mean balance. The symbol of Yoba means this is meant to give off similar affects to a holy relic, though it’s probably not as good as a real one because real ones are blessed and stuff.”

“So I got a semi holy relic that gives me luck and wards off demons? That wizard guy is weird.”

Abby shrugged and continued to look through her book. “I guess, but you don’t just give semi holy demon dispelling charms to just anyone for no reason. Semi holy relics are actually very hard to make. Can take several days meditation and fasting to get it up to snuff.”

“Fasting? Really?”

“There is always a proper way to do things and you can’t just back out when you do.” Informed Abby. “Most times if you back out halfway through it can be a million times as deadly as when you start. Though that’s mainly for rituals and stuff…” She hummed a little and turned the charm in her hand. “You should probably keep this. Keep it in your pocket or something. You can never have too many good luck charms… Now I feel like making paper charms.”

Sebastian sighed a little. The last time Abby went on a charm making binge she ended up randomly sticking paper charms to doors and walls around town. Lewis was not pleased about it and considered it mild vandalism. Then again so did a lot of the older residents of the town, mainly George.

“If I promise to keep the weird charm will you not go crazy and make a million of those charms again?” He asked. He really didn’t want to wake up one morning to find his door plastered with them and Demetrius asking if he’d found some new religion.

Abby thought for a moment. “Hmm, okay. Keep it on you and I’ll not plaster your door with charms… So…”

“So?”

“What’s new with you besides the charm thing? You gonna ask the farmer out?” She tossed the pendant back at him.

He caught it and slipped it into his pocket. “… Look, hypothetically even if I did like him I don’t think he’s shown much interest in me anyway.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well maybe he hasn’t shown any interest in you because you don’t show any interest in him?”

“Not true we-” Sebastian quickly shut his mouth. He didn’t really want to go talking about their little bonding moment in the secret woods. Unfortunately he had captured Abby’s interest and she now eagerly awaited him to continue. He’d just give her the bear minimum so she’d at least stop looking at him with those excited, pleading eyes. “We went to the secret woods a few nights ago. We talked. It was nice.”

Abby was positively beaming at this point. “Oh really? Do you think that you two could be something more if you like got together and actually talked some more? Hypothetically?”

“Hypothetically? … Yes.” Yoba have mercy Apollyon was weird as fuck and his family life was kind of fucked, but he was a nice guy and made him feel all kinds of strange and obscure emotions he could associate with feelings of possible love. It was a nice feeling.

“Seriously, can I help you guys out in anyway? Hypothetically? Asked Abby. “You two look really cute together and you’d probably make a good pair. Hypothetically speaking of course.”

Sebastian shrugged as an email suddenly popped up. Looked like he did have a job today after all. “I’ll think about it. Now go, I have work to do.” He watched as she sighed dramatically and left. He really hoped that whatever else her plans were for helping weren’t going to be something crazy.

Chapter Text

It was just another typical day at Apollyon’s farm. He cleared the weeds and rocks away. He was planning on planting some wheat and planned on making lots of beer in the winter. But as his hoe pierced the dirt it made a strange squelching noise, like he’d hit wet mud. Pulling it back to till the soil didn’t seem to make the matter better either. It sounded like he was ripping up something fibrous with a lot of roots.

Much to his surprise a small puddle of water bubbled up to the surface. It was kind of rusty coloured and Apollyon didn’t think too much about it. He was tilling near his pond to there was a chance it was just some excess ground water or something. He’d have to try and invest in some rice seeds as this rate.

He thrust the hoe into the ground and pulled back, struggling a little when it got caught on a rock. With some effort he ripped a large white rock out of the ground. Surprised by its colour, Apollyon picked it up. He instantly regretted it. It wasn’t some weird white stone, it was a vertebra. Not just any old vertebra, this one felt damp and warm, like it had just been removed from a body. He could clearly see fresh marrow oozing slightly through the centrum.

Apollyon gasped in shock and stumbled, falling flat on his ass. He watched the bone sail through the air and land in the pond with a dense thunk. When did the pond water turn black? He tried to stand but he couldn’t. Looking down all he could do was gasp in horror as the redish water that had been welling up from the soil was very steadily climbing up his limbs and pulling him down. Down into the black, inky void.

He struggled to try and get away. Eventually he managed to pull an arm free, but much to his dismay he had ripped off much of his skin like it was tissue paper. Beneath his pale skin was the unmistakable black hue of a Shadow Brute’s skin, but this was shinier and mimicking muscles.

However he didn’t have much time to dwell on this as the redish water was starting to drag him towards the pond. Apollyon struggled and tried to dig his nails into earth, but it was too soft. He got pulled into the pond. He didn’t want to be back here. He didn’t want to get dragged back there. It was dark and scary. But it didn’t matter. He got pulled under and he felt his skin peel away. His last remnants of his humanity were gone. He had nothing left.

***

Apollyon woke up with a gasp. He flailed and fell out of the bed while simultaneously flinging Goblin across the room with his leg. She screeched and hissed at him for waking her up and dashed off to the kitchen.

“… Sorry Goblin.” He sighed a little and got up. He could hear the sound of soft rain on the roof. It sounded kind of nice.

He fed Goblin and fed the chickens. They little fluff balls were growing up so quickly and were starting to give him eggs. Which was good. He was able to make mayonnaise and fry an egg up every other day. He wondered what he was going to do today, mining or fishing? He was already very good with mining so today was probably going to be a fishing day.

He put on a thick coat and grabbed his fishing rod. He didn’t want to dwell too much on his dream. It almost felt like a premonition. Since talking with Gadreel he’d started to feel slightly apprehensive whenever he went out onto his farm. It made him feel a little sick. He didn’t want to go back. He wanted to stay here. It was warm and bright here and full of so many weird and interesting things. The Void was stagnate. It didn’t change. It scared him. He liked seeing things change and he couldn’t do that if he was back there.

He trudged onto the wet sand and walked across the wooden bridge near Elliot’s house. He’d collect some coral or shells too. They sold for an okay amount. As he collected things someone caught his attention. For a moment he thought it might have been Elliot, but no. It was some weird looking old looking man wearing thin blue clothes, a wide brim brown hat and boots.

“… Hello?”

The man nodded a little at Apollyon. “Hello there. I’ve got this old amulet to sell… but something tells me yer not ready for it lad.”

That both confused and annoyed Apollyon. “Right… What amulet?”

“A mermaid pendant lad.” He hummed happily and rocked slightly on the balls of his feet. “Give your lover one of them and you’re asking them to marry you.”

“Oh, so it’s like an engagement ring back in Zuzu city?”

“A what?”

“… Must be a regional thing…” Apollyon sighed a little and rubbed his hands together to keep them warm. “So, I’m Apollyon. I haven’t seen you around before.”

A lopsided grin made its way onto the man’s face. “Folks around here call me the Old Mariner.”

“And you just stand out here in the rain telling people you’re not going to give them a mermaid pendant?”

He shrugged. “I only talk to the folks I feel have love brimming in their hearts. It just so happens that I feel a young strapping lad like yourself has a small spark of love within yer chest.”

“… Alright. So why a mermaid pendant anyway? Why not something more practical? Like a ring? Like a normal person?” Sure Apollyon should have just bid the Old Mariner fair well and walked away, but he seemed nice enough, and old people usually had interesting stories.

“It’s an old tale lad… You see, years and Years ago Pelican Town was just a fishing village and a small port that a few ships would dock in to trade.” Said the Old Mariner. “A young lad used to work the docks here making sure that the visiting sailors had their food and drink supplies all ready to go to the next major port. This young lad found a merperson.”

Not that Apollyon didn’t believe in merpeople, but at the same time he was pretty sure merpeople didn’t like humans that much. “Really? A merperson?”

The Old Mariner nodded. “Ay lad. Over the course of a year they two fell deeply in love. The young lad couldn’t put a wedding ring on the merperson’s webbed finger so they made a necklace using a bright blue shell. It was the same shade of blue as the sky in midday and shone like bright like the ocean on a calm sunny day.” He looked wistfully out to sea at that remark, as if remembering something from long ago. “So the merperson accepted it and dragged the lad down into the sea.”

“They killed him?” Asked Apollyon in shock. Okay fine, some versions of merpeople stories ended with someone getting dragged into the ocean to get eaten. It baffled him that the town would let such a story dictate how they propose to each other.

The man just laughed at Apollyon’s conclusion. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. Do you really think the merperson would go and drown someone they supposedly loved just because it was a human?”

Apollyon shrugged. “It’s just in their nature I guess. You shouldn’t apply human emotions to something that isn’t human… They were probably playing the long game anyway.”

“Are you?”

“What?”

“Nothing lad. Nothing at all…” He sighed a little and tipped his hat forward slightly. “Now if you’re going to be fishing today, I might suggest fishing by Willy’s shop. Specifically that large rock. The fish are biting a lot more over there than over this way.”

“Oh, thanks Old Mariner. See you around.” Apollyon waved to him and happily headed over to Willy’s shop. Hopefully today he could catch an eel or something. He could just imagine what would happen when he threw one of those at a Junimo. They would probably freak out and flail and squeal if they got hit with one of those things.

Walking out onto dock Apollyon was almost surprised to see Sebastian standing at the edge and looking out to sea. It had been a little while since Apollyon had seen him. He still had doubts if he could move forward with asking Sebastian if he wanted to go out with him. There were still risks with being with someone like him, and that wasn’t even counting the fact that Sebastian might not even want to go out with him because of how heavy handed Abigail and Sam had allegedly been.

Romance was hard. Apollyon cast out his line and watched the bobber bob in the water. Maybe after he caught a few fish he’d have enough courage to ask if he wanted to come over to his place to watch a movie or something.

***

Sebastian was just going to enjoy a nice quiet day to himself at the beach. Who else was going to do it? It was raining and everyone else seemed to hate the rain. It had rained a few dozen times since Apollyon had moved to Stardew Valley and to be perfectly honest Sebastian had wondered if the farmer would come out here and cry to the sea again.

If he’d had known then what he knew now about the farmer he probably would have offered him a drink or something similar at the Saloon that night, or just some human company in general. He sighed a little. That was the past. He had to look towards the future.

Speaking of the future, Sebastian was going to head up to the spa after this and warm up. Sure, it was all well and good to stand in the rain in Spring or Summer, but it was cold in the Fall. He needed to warm up a little after standing out in the cold all day. Plus it meant he could have more time alone to himself.

He turned to leave and was surprised to see that Apollyon was right there fishing quietly. Did he remember when he told Apollyon that rainy days were meant to be enjoyed alone or something? That was… it was actually kind of nice that he remembered.

He walked over just as Apollyon managed to pull up a can of joja cola. “… Rough day fishing?”

Apollyon looked over at Sebastian and smiled a little. “Yeah. Hope I didn’t mess up your alone time. I was trying to catch an eel… It hasn’t been working out too well.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah…” Apollyon stretched and cast out his line again. “I’m gonna try at least one more time to catch an eel today… Um, when I’m done do you want to come back to my place and watch a movie?”

“I was actually going to go up to the spa.”

“Oh, sorry… I’ll let you get on with your day then.”

Sebastian frowned a little. Had he been too subtle? He didn’t think so. “Um, you can come with me if you like…”

Apollyon looked a little surprised, but he smiled at him anyway. “Sure. Sounds nice.” Suddenly something tugged on his line and Apollyon fished up a piece of drift wood. “… Son of a… Okay fuck it. Let’s go to the spa.”

The two walked up to the spa in relative silence. When they got up to Sebastian’s house he ducked in to garb his swimmers. Apollyon went ahead of him. Possibly to go back home and grab his own stuff. It had been a while since he’d gone to the spa with anyone and he was feeling a little anxious about it, as stupid as that sounded. It wasn’t as though he wasn’t okay with people seeing most of his body, high school locker rooms kind of had that effect on him, but he knew if they changed together he might look at weird out Apollyon.

Luckily for him when he got there Apollyon was still not there, and from the sound of it Alex wasn’t in the gym area either. There always seemed to be a fifty fifty chance that Alex was going to be in there during the Fall. He changed into his green board shorts and quickly headed to the spa.

Much to his surprise Apollyon was already in there. He was off near a far edge of the spa bath. He’d sunk down into the water deep enough so that only everything above his mouth was above the water. He nodded a little when he saw Sebastian enter.

Sebastian got in and moved closer to the other, stopping when he was a reasonable distance away. They stayed silent for a while, both just enjoying the silence together. It was strange, but it felt good to sit in silence with him. He didn’t feel like he needed to feel the air with any noise. It was nice.

After some indeterminate amount of time, Apollyon moved so his head was just above the water. “Thanks for asking me here. I would have just gone home.”

“Don’t mention it. A bath is always nice after getting rained on.”

“Yeah…” Apollyon glanced over at Sebastian for a moment. “Hey, um do you want to come over to my place after and watch a movie after this? My TV is a piece of shit, but I have a DVD player and like, seven DVDs… You can take your pick of them if you like.”

Sebastian smiled a little at his slight ramblings. “Yeah, sure. What movies do you have?”

“The original The Thing, Life or Brian, GATTACA, Blade Runner, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run and Westworld.” Listed Apollyon.

He was impressed with the small collection of sci-fi movies he had. Minus the Life of Brian. “You have GATTACA? Neat. Haven’t seen that one in years.”

Apollyon gave Sebastian a strange look. “You like sci-fi?”

“Who doesn’t?”

Apollyon smiled a little and actually sat up properly in the water so his chest was now above the water. “I really liked Uma Thurman’s character. Sure she was a victim of bad female stereotypes but I still liked her a lot.”

“Yeah, me too. Hell, I think I’d go straight for Uma.”

“I’d pay her to execute me a la Kill Bill volume 1 black and white yakuza army style.” Said Apollyon. “Hell, I would even settle for Kill Bill volume 2 black mamba in the briefcase full of money. What a way to go.”

Sebastian laughed a little. “She could stab me with a knife and I’d say thank you. Fuck it, her or Sigourney Weaver.”

“Sigourney Weaver could snap my neck and if I came back as a ghost I wouldn’t even be mad.”

“Me either.” He looked over at Apollyon, surprised to see the amount of pale scars that were visible on his shoulders and chest. There were a lot more than what he should have had from a jellyfish sting. It reminded Sebastian a little of that DIY resin jewelry where the resin has some glow in the dark properties. It was beautiful.

“…” Apollyon noticed his staring and quickly slipped back down into the water. He looked embarrassed and kind of nervous. “I um… Emily knitted Goblin a sweater. She hates it but wears it because it keeps her warm. First time I put it on her she fell over, screeched and refused to move.”

Sebastian nodded a little. “Sounds like something that hairless testical would do.”

He laughed at that. “You don’t need to be so mean to her. She might look like a hairless old man testical, but she’s like a hot water bottle when it’s really cold at night.”

“Alright.” After that the pair fell into a silence once again. This time it was slightly more awkward. He wanted to say something to remedy the situation a little. “I’m not going to ask how you got all those scars but they don’t look as horrible as you think they do.”

“Thank you… Hey Sebastian? I um… I kind of like you…” As soon as those words left his lips Apollyon slipped further into the water so he was back to only have his nose above water. He looked embarrassed and kind of… guilty?

But he didn’t have time to think about that, Apollyon said he liked him. He actually liked him. “I like you too… And um, it’s not because you’re the only guy I know who isn’t straight here…”

“Same… I think you’re cute and handsome…” Said Apollyon quietly. “And you’re obviously really smart. People mentioned you’re a programmer. I could never do something like that, and you’re good with machines too… I couldn’t even get the bus running again…”

He felt flattered that Apollyon thought he was smart. “Well you’re smart too. You might not be good at programming, but I know I’d never be good at farming. I know jack shit about what to plant and how best to take care of animals.” Sebastian moved a little closer to Apollyon, pleased when he saw that Apollyon didn’t move away. “… Look at me for a second?”

“…” Apollyon glanced at Sebastian and he took the opportunity to quickly kiss his cheek. A slightly bold move on Sebastian’s part, but he liked Apollyon too and thought a kiss on the cheek would have been better than a kiss on the lips. Apollyon made a strange strangled noise as they sank deeper into the water until they were completely submerged.

“Hey!” Sebastian quickly pulled him back up. “… You okay?”

“Y-yeah.” Squeaked Apollyon. “… Do you still want to come over and watch a movie?”

“Yeah.”

Apollyon smiled a little. “Cool.”

Chapter Text

Once they were done at the spa, the two of them walked back to Hellfire farm and settled down to watch GATTACA and marvel at the both the good acting and very terrible acting of the main cast while arguing about the ethics of having genetically perfect babies. It was kind of nice to sit so close to the other on the couch.

“All genetic diseases would be gone that way.” Said Sebastian. “No more of that harlequin skin disease thing. Can’t say not having that wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

“True, getting rid of major genetic diseases would be good… However what’s to stop people trying to change lesser not life threatening genetic disorders like any that say… something that changes the proportions of your face or something?” Countered Apollyon. “Where would it end? Besides don’t we need mutations to evolve the species or something?”

“Fair enough, but it would be good to end really bad genetic diseases.”

“Are we really going to get super into human morals over an old sci-fi movie?”

“Nah. Want to discuss the symbolism of the drowning scenes?”

“Fuck no.” The two of them continued to watch the movie all the way to the end. Somehow by the middle of the climactic chase scene Sebastian was leaning against his arm with his head on Apollyon’s shoulder.

It made the heat rise in his cheeks ever so slightly. He wasn’t used to this kind of affection from someone else. He also had this horrible feeling in his guts just twisting around. He knew what this feeling was. Selfish. That’s how Apollyon felt. He felt selfish and cruel. Was it because he actually wanted this kind of romantic relationship with someone and just happened to choose Sebastian because he had similar feelings for him? Maybe it was because he wasn’t sure if Gadreel would be good on his threat and actually murder him and he just wanted to have some kind of romantic relationship now just in case this was his last chance?

Either option was bad. He was just playing with Sebastian’s emotions if that was the case he was worse than he thought. Sure he had manipulated people before but manipulating using romantic interest? That was just something he didn’t do. Were they even officially boyfriends now anyway? He had no idea.

“Hey, you okay?” Asked Sebastian.

“… I’m just thinking… I haven’t really been in a serious relationship before. I don’t really know how I’m meant to act… or what we’re meant to do…”

“It’s fine. I haven’t really been in any serious relationships either.”

“Not even Sarah-Ann?”

Sebastian shot up and looked completely shook. “Who told you about-? Abigail and Sam?”

“Abigail and Sam.”

Sebastian sighed dramatically and sank back into the couch. “Look, it was high school and being anything but straight wasn’t smiled upon. If you were a guy and wanted anything other than pussy you were going to get your ass beat by some shit head that thought you were staring at his ass in the locker room.”

“Fair enough.” Apollyon hadn’t been in one school long enough for something like that to happen to him.

The raven haired man nodded a little. “Sarah-Ann… I liked her kind of… I just assumed that all guys felt the same way I felt about girls and I kind of hoped that maybe I was bisexual, because I knew I liked guys and if I was bi I could at least pass for straight and have all those normal things… But no. I kind of forced myself to have sex with her and it was pretty awful. Not just because it was my first time, but just… everything felt wrong… She was too… soft…”

Apollyon snorted. “Soft? Really?”

“Well I don’t really know how else to describe it…” Muttered Sebastian. “She looked fine and everything and it wasn’t like she was wrong in anyway, but I just… She felt wrong to me. It felt wrong… And then she broke up with me and started dating my guy crush and that fucking sucked…”

“Hey, it’s fine.” He gently squeezed Sebastian’s hand, smiling a little. “These things happen. No need to beat yourself up over exes. I was just wondering if you had dating experience. That’s all.”

“… We went on a few dates. Movies and junk like that.”

A small smile made its way onto Apollyon’s lips. “So would this count as a date? We’re watching movies and junk.”

“Yeah, I guess it would… So we’re officially dating now?”

“I guess…”

“So I guess that means we’re boyfriends now?”

Apollyon blushed a little at that word, and the feeling of guilt twisted deep within his guts once again. “I guess so… Do you want to stay the night?” He didn’t know why he asked. Would Sebastian think he wanted to have sex or something if he asked? Yoba have mercy on his soul.

Sebastian looked surprised for a moment before he smiled a little and nodded. “Sure.”

***

The whole evening had gone kind of strange for Sebastian. He hadn’t expected to actually tell Apollyon that he liked him, same with finding out the feeling was mutual. Now they were in his house, watching a movie, Apollyon asked if he wanted to stay over, and he said yes. He honestly didn’t know what to expect. Apollyon had said he didn’t have serious relationships before. Did he want to have sex?

They stayed seated on the couch watching the rest of the movie in silence. There was now a strange sense of tension in the air that hadn’t been there before. Maybe he had suggested that they were boyfriends too quickly? Yoba, when did he become so damn ballsy?

Once the move was over Apollyon got up and walked into his room. He came back out with a pair of blue sweat pants and a pale green shirt. “Here, I think these will fit you. You can change in the bedroom.”

“Thanks.” Sebastian took the clothes and got changed in Apollyon’s room. Something he noticed immediately upon entering was that it looked really bland. There was nothing personal. He would have assumed that it was unlived in if it wasn’t for the fact that the bed was messy, calendar, and there was a handmade chest in the corner. Seeing as how there was part of a sleeve sticking out of it he assumed that was where Apollyon kept his clothes.

Sebastian got changed and sat on the bed. The clothes were a little big on him, but they fitted comfortably enough. They smelled a little like Apollyon too; earthy with a hint of whatever detergent he used to wash his clothes. It was nice and made his stomach flutter a little. There was something kind of nice about it.

He fished his phone out of his pants pocket and quickly sent him mum a text, letter her know where he was, when something caught his eye on the calendar. For some reason Apollyon had stuck a little pumpkin sticker next to Spirit’s Eve. Seemed like something Apollyon would like.

He walked out of the bedroom and watched Apollyon walk around the kitchen putting things away. “You excited for Spirit’s Eve?” He asked.

“Hmm?”

“Spirit’s Eve.” Said Sebastian. “You have it marked on your calendar.”

Apollyon shrugged and continued to do what he was doing. “It’s the day before holy magic replenishes. It’s at its weakest then and darker energy is theoretically at its highest. In theory that night is when dark spirits from the Void creep into this world to either torment humans or drag them back into the Void for nefarious means.”

Sebastian raised an eyebrow at that statement. “Nefarious means?”

“Nefarious by human standards.” Clarified Apollyon. “Most demons regard humans the same way humans regard insects; insignificant and kind of gross looking. Smaller, more insidious creatures are like small children with magnified glasses that want to poke and prod and pull the legs off insects for fun. If a human is dragged into the void they won’t die immediately but they will beg for it till whatever has them decides to kill them.” He sighed sadly. “Demons that pull people in are skilled at keeping them alive far beyond what is physically possible… But luckily for everyone those kind of things hardly happen anymore.”

“… Right.” Was Apollyon still harping on about this demon stuff? “So um…”

“Right, you’re probably tired… You can take the bed, I’ll take the couch.”

That was, unexpectedly gentlemanly of him. “You sure? It’s your house.”

He smiled kindly at Sebastian. “I’m sure. I trust you not to mess with my stuff.”

“Thanks, but don’t you need to get changed too?”

“Nah, I usually either sleep in whatever I’m wearing or in my underwear.”

“Ah…”

“Yeah…” He finished up in the kitchen and went over to the couch, rearranging the cushions a little. “Just be a little careful. Goblin might try and hit you a few times if she wants food or something.”

“Alright. Night I guess?”

“Night.”

“…” Sebastian watched Apollyon move to lie down on the couch. He sighed a little and walked back into the bedroom, making himself comfortable in Apollyon’s bed. It felt strange being here. He had assumed that they would at least be sharing a bed together tonight. They didn’t have to do anything. It wasn’t mandatory that they had to do something just because they decided that they were going to start dating.

He felt something jump onto the bed and glanced down to see the hairless testicle that Apollyon called Goblin. She was wearing some woolen jumper made from several eye bleeding colours. The cat didn’t look too impressed that Sebastian was there, but ignored him in favour of curling up near his legs. Sebastian didn’t know how to feel about this. He decided to try and ignore it and get some sleep. Now that he had settled in he was starting to feel that this bed was way too big for just one person to use.

He got in a few hours of sleep before he got woken up to Goblin squishing her paws into his face and making mildly alarmed noises. “Mrrrrow…” She said. “Mrrrrow…”

Groaning in annoyance, Sebastian pushed her away. “Let me sleep you weird testicle thing.”

Not surprisingly, Goblin didn’t seem to like being called a testical and quickly hit Sebastian’s nose several times before bolting towards the bedroom door. She looked over her shoulder, like she wanted him to follow her. “Meow!”

Sebastian was about to throw a pillow at the offending feline when he heard something. It was quiet, but it sounded like wheezing and gnawing. Curious, Sebastian slowly got up and crept towards the sound. The TV was on in the lounge room but the sound was off. Goblin darted past Sebastian’s legs and walked by the couch, flattening her ears against her head and arching her back slightly. If she had fur Sebastian was sure that she would be puffing up right now.

Curious as to what she could possibly be freaking out about, Sebastian looked over at Apollyon on the couch. The man was sleeping but he was sweating profusely and all tensed up as one hand clutched his forearm with white knuckles while the other gripped the arm rest. He was grinding his teeth together, letting out a small raspy wheeze whenever his jaw would unclench. Suddenly Apollyon convulsed and threw himself off the couch and onto the floor. The sudden movement made Goblin bolt out of the room, startled Sebastian, and woke up Apollyon.

He quickly sat up and looked at Sebastian. His face went bright red when he realized that the other was there. “Oh um… Hey there… Did I wake you up?”

“Goblin did…” He sat down on the couch and waited for Apollyon to sit up next to him. It took a few moments but Apollyon eventually sat next to Sebastian. “Are you okay?”

“… Yeah. I just…” Apollyon sighed. He looked really damn tired. “Lately I’ve been having pretty awful dreams… I always wake up like someone’s electrocuted me.”

Sebastian nodded a little. “So is that why you didn’t want to share a bed? In case you have some dream and kick me out or something?”

Apollyon smiled sheepishly. “Wouldn’t you feel bad about sharing a bed with someone if you didn’t know if you would lash out at them because of a bad dream?”

“…” Sebastian hesitantly put his hand onto Apollyon’s. He sounded like he needed to talk, and being friends with people like Sam and Abigail he was good at listening. “Want to talk about it?”

The other man hesitated for a moment. “Do you know what it feels like to cut yourself? Not like a paper cut or a cut with a kitchen knife when you’re cooking. I mean like a long, quick, deliberate slash. Something you don’t even realize has happened until you see the blood and feel the sting?”

“… Can’t say I can.”

“Yeah… why would you?” He laughed a little and brought his hands up to his face. “Anyway, to cut a long story short I’m running down some endless alleyway and some invisible creep slices me up and pulls me into the darkness… But I manage to pull myself out of the darkness. Just long enough to realize that everything below my ribcage has been ripped away.”

“… I see.” That just kind of seemed like a standard nightmare to Sebastian but it really seemed to affect Apollyon in a very negative way. The poor guy was trembling slightly. He sighed heavily and stood up, pulling Apollyon to his feet. “Come on. We’re both going to bed.”

Apollyon stared at Sebastian with concern clearly painted on his face. “I don’t think that’s a good idea…”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and practically dragged the other male into the bedroom, pushing him onto the bed before getting in next to him. “If you’re so worried about kicking my ass out of the bed maybe that will be enough to stop you from actually doing it.”

“… Okay.” Apollyon got into the bed but stayed right on the edge, trying to take up as little room as possible. He reminded Sebastian of that damn walking testicle.

“You can move a little closer you know.” Said Sebastian. “I’m not going to bite you for getting closer.”

Apollyon pouted a little. “Look, the last time I shared a bed with someone it was to fuck and by the time I woke up they were gone and so was all the cash in my wallet. So excuse me if I don’t really know if you expect to do something now that we’re in the same bed.”

“… Apollyon. It’s late and I’m kind of tired. I don’t want to do anything sexual. Just get your ass over here. Your bed is too big and it’s kind of cold.”

“Do you need another blanket?”

“Not if you get over here.” Reluctantly Apollyon moved closer and Sebastian wrapped an arm around him, holding him in a protective way. Sebastian could practically feel the heat rising in Apollyon’s face. Did this really embarrass him so much? It was kind of cute. Hopefully they could both sleep a little easier now. “Good night Apollyon.”

“Good night Sebastian.”

Chapter Text

Apollyon had left early the next day. He left a note for Sebastian and left to go to feed the chickens and catch some fish. He felt a little bad about leaving before Sebastian got up, but he had things to do and Sebastian seemed to like sleeping in.

He sat by the river in Cindersap forest and started to fish. He was attempting to get a catfish. Instead he seemed to be only able to catch tiger trout’s. It annoyed him a lot, but he just had to keep fishing. By about nine or ten in the morning he had a small pile of trout’s and no catfish. Why did the damn Junimos want a catfish anyway? Stupid apple fuckers.

He sat down, leaning against a tree. He was a little tired and hadn’t actually eaten anything today. He didn’t want to wake Sebastian up by accident. The young man just looked so peaceful just lying there in his bed. In his clothes. That thought made him blush a lot. He looked so adorable. When he got up he looked so peaceful wrapped up in his blanket with his mouth opened ever so slightly. It made him want to just lean over and kiss him, but there was no way he was doing that.

Suddenly Green the Junimo popped back into existence and waved up at him. “Hewwo!”

Apollyon could feel a migraine coming on. He opened his mouth to speak and a chunk of trout fell out of his mouth. He looked down at his hands, surprised to see that he had ripped into the belly of a tiger trout without even realizing it. “Huh… Hey there Green. What are you doing here?”

“See fwend!” Green sat next to him and looked up with a very pleased look on its face. “Fwend good?”

“Yeah, I’m alright… Just thinking about stuff. People stuff. You wouldn’t understand.” He contemplated eating the rest of the trout in his hands, but decided against it. He threw the carcass into the water and watched it drift away.

Green watched Apollyon intently. “… Fwend sad?”

“I’m not sad. I’m conflicted.” He looked down at the little apple bastard for a few seconds before deciding to just spill his guts. This thing wasn’t going to tell anyone important anything. “I like Sebastian. In fact I think we are dating now.”

Green clapped his little stick arms together enthusiastically. “Good fwend! Vewy good!”

“Shut up I’m not done yet. I like him and stuff but I am very conflicted. I feel like I’m selfish because Gadreel’s gone and given me up until the feast of the winter star to live.”

That sent Green into a panic. “Gadweel? Who dat? Why hawm you? You good! Hewo! Hewo of vawee! Gadweel bad! Me get poker and poke him!”

While that image was amusing to him, Apollyon didn’t think it was a good idea. “Calm down. Gadreel is… How to explain… He’s part of an eccentric branch of magic users that draw their energy from the Yoba plane. They believe that anything magical that isn’t all good and pure is evil and needs to die and go back to the Void.”

“… But you good! Good fwend!”

“I’m a demon you stupid chew toy.” Muttered Apollyon. “And don’t you see how fucking bad this is? I’m dating Sebastian and there’s a high chance I’m going to get killed… I’m a selfish fuck. I make myself sick.” He cast his line back out into the river and waited for another fish.

“… But fwend good…” Green didn’t seem to understand why someone would want to hurt Apollyon. “How can Junimos help fwend?”

Apollyon shrugged. “Unless you can suddenly turn me from a demon from the Void to a being from the Yoba plane there’s nothing much you can do.”

“… Okay! Junimos help fwend!” Green got up and quickly ran away.

An annoyed groan made its way out his mouth. This was a bad idea. He didn’t know how or why he just knew it was a bad idea. They were going to say or do something that was going to fuck up his world. Not that it wasn’t already fucked up.

He started to pick at his teeth, flicking out a few random scales, bones, and bits of fish flesh. He felt something sharp press into his thumb. He ran his tongue over the point, unsurprised to feel a second tooth starting to force its way out of his gums. It was at the back near his molars so no one was going to freak out any time soon if he smiled and sported a full set of shark teeth. It was strange he was having this kind of physical change, but he chalked that up to what that witch had done to him.

Apollyon wondered what other changes he was eventually going to undergo and how long he could keep it a secret from everyone. He was already pushing it with how quickly his skin could heal from cuts and scrapes. He also doubted that everyone here was going to be as nice and as understanding as Sebastian when he told them he really was a demon. Everyone would probably freak out if his demonic form decided to split his head open and grown an extra set of fangs.

That was one of the things he didn’t like about his demonic form. He didn’t have much control over it. It always looked vaguely human but since his true demon form was that of some shapeless slug he never really had a consistent form. The during the transformation process back to his human shape it always looked wrong. It was like his body was trying to look human but didn’t have it quite right.

Apart from how he looked he was starting to develop rather strange eating habits now. This wasn’t the first time he had just started eating a raw fish or uncooked meat in general. A couple of times he had bought food from Pierre’s shop when he was hungry only to realize he’d eaten a whole raw stake by the time he’d reached the bus stop. One time when he was hungry in the mines he had even bitten into one of those giant grubs. Kind of tasted a little like peanut butter.

Suddenly his line started to tug and Apollyon quickly reeled in a… catfish. Joy could not even begin to describe the positive feelings welling up inside Apollyon’s chest at the moment. Finally something that wasn’t a tiger trout.

He quickly gathered his fish and started to make his way back to the community center. He was pretty sure this catfish would finish off at least one bundle. He happened to walk by Leah’s cabin and spotted her and Elliott talking. He hadn’t talked to the two of them very much over the past year, but they seemed like nice enough people. Leah did a lot of art stuff and Elliott was apparently a writer.

As he got closer it sounded like Elliott was having trouble with something. “I just… It’s very perplexing and frustrating. I have an idea of where I want my novel to go, but I have no idea how to get there. Outlining it, no matter which route I take ends up reading as forced and contrived.”

“Maybe you just need a different perspective on things?” Suggested Leah. “Or maybe take up a new hobby of some sort?” She looked over at Apollyon and waved at him. “Hey there farmer. Mind helping us out?”

“… Only if you take a trout each.” Said Apollyon. “I have way too many.”

“Deal. So Elliott is having trouble with his book. If you ask me it sounds like he needs to relax for a bit.”

Elliott sighed, tucking his flowing hair behind his ear. “I find it hard to relax when my manuscript is still stuck within its draft stages.”

Apollyon shrugged. “I’m not really sure what you expect me to do. I kind of just farm and stuff… I don’t really have any hobbies and the only thing I really do to relax is occasionally go up to the spa and sit in the baths… That and sleep. Sleep is good.” Noticing the slightly disappointed look on their faces, Apollyon just started spewing word vomit. “Well since I farm and stuff I find planning where my crops are going to go and stuff. Leah, I’m sure you have smaller personal art projects you work on just for fun. Since you like writing so much why don’t you write a short story or poem when you get stuck? That way even if your novel doesn’t get done you have a collection of works you could possibly publish instead?”

Elliott seemed to like that idea. “Yes, poetry… This could be a good way to vent my frustrations… Perhaps I could think about having a small poetry club at the Library? I’m sure Gunther would be more than happy to allow that.” He shook Apollyon’s hand. “Thank you for this marvelous idea.”

“Um, don’t mention it?” He really didn’t expect Elliott to start some poetry club from his simple suggestion that he just write his own poetry. But he was glad to help. He gave Elliott and Leah a tiger trout before heading up to the community center. He quickly opened the door and threw the catfish in. He smirked a little when he heard several Junimos screech and freak out when they got hit by it.

***

Sebastian woke up at about ten in the morning. He wasn’t surprised to see that Apollyon had gone. As a farmer he probably had a million things he needed to do. He got up, changed back into his clothes from the previous night and headed out to the kitchen to see if Apollyon at least had some coffee.

He noticed the note Apollyon left for him next to a can of instant coffee. It pretty much told him he was going out to do farming stuff and to help himself to anything he had in the fridge. Sebastian wasn’t really that hungry but he decided to at least see what was in the fridge while he was waiting for the water to boil for his coffee.

He had a lot of eggs and mayonnaise in there, along with an axe for some reason. That was really weird. He took that out and put it on the table for Apollyon to find later. Behind the axe was a note stuck to a some meat wrapped in butcher’s paper. It said cook before eating. That was also odd. The farmer was odd. His boyfriend was odd.

“… Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck…” The heat started to rise in his cheeks as he thought about it. They were dating now. He was dating the weird farmer boy. Okay, maybe it was more like the farmer was dating the weird basement troll but still. It made him very happy to think that they were going out now, but there in came one thing he wasn’t really thinking about… He hadn’t come out to anyone besides Abby, Sam and Apollyon. He was pretty sure that Apollyon wouldn’t go around saying they were dating, but he didn’t really know for sure. He needed to find Apollyon now.

He quickly left the house and went to find Apollyon. Yoba he needed to find him soon. There was no way he’d be able to live with himself if Apollyon just told everyone before he had the chance to figure out how he was going to tell people about it. In general people in Pelican Town seemed to be pretty open and welcoming, but he didn’t want to risk it.

He checked around town, up by the caves in the mountains and by the beach. The only place he had left was Cindersap forest. He really needed to get Apollyon’s phone number at some point. That would make this a whole lot easier. As he entered Cindersap forest he happened to see Apollyon. He was with Penny who seemed to be in the middle of teaching Jas and Vincent.

Curious as to what was going on, he got closer. Not enough to make them notice him, but just enough to hear what was going on. It sounded like he was… teaching?

“Country life is about farming and learning to use the things nature has provided for you. I have to get up early every day,” said Apollyon. “I need to water my crops and feed my animals since that’s my main income. Anyone want to take a guess at what I have on my farm? Vincent?”

“Dinosaurs!” Said they boy enthusiastically.

Penny gave Vincent a sympathetic smile. “Vincent, I really doubt Mr Apollyon has dinosaurs on his farm.”

“Mr Apollyon has chickens on his farm.” Said Jas. “He bought some off Aunt Marine.”

Apollyon chuckled a little. “Yep. I got two chickens. One brown hen and one white hen. I have named them Butter and Crispy. Anyway, the valley’s soil is ideal for growing delicious vegetables. Since I sell a lot of my crops to Pierre I can bet that your mum and your aunt have bought something I’ve grown for your dinner.”

Vincent put his hand up. Penny smiled at him. “Yes Vincent?”

“Um, farmer Apollyon? If I eat your veggies will I grow up strong like my big brother Sam?”

Apollyon pulled a face like he was thinking. “Hmm, I think if you eat my veggies along with a good balance of other yummy foods like meats and cheeses you’ll grow up to be just as strong as Sam… In fact you two look like you’re bigger and stronger since I first saw you when I moved into the valley at the start of the year.”

The children giggled at this and flexed their tiny biceps. Penny chuckled a little and dismissed the children so they could go and play for a bit. The children had run off to the river to play and look at fish. Sebastian was about to make his move and walk over when Penny started talking again. “It’s a lot of work to take care of these kids… But I don’t really mind. I enjoy seeing them learn and hopefully I can help them grow up to be good people. Would you ever want to be a parent, Apollyon?”

For some reason that question made Sebastian’s chest tighten a little. But the thing that really made him feel ill was the possibility of his answer, whatever it may be. He felt sick.

Apollyon just chuckled a little. “Ah well, I guess so. It’s a natural urge… But I don’t think I’d be able to care for something so pure and innocent. That’s just how I am.”

She smiled a little at him. “I’m sure you’re going to be a good parent someday. You’re a really nice and sweet person.”

Apollyon laughed a little at that. “Aw, thanks Penny. I’m sure you’ll be an amazing mother.” It was about then he noticed Sebastian and waved to him. “Hey there Seb. Fancy seeing you out here.”

Penny seemed surprised to see him but smiled politely and waved at him. “Hello Sebastian. Enjoying a walk?”

“… Yes.”

Apollyon smiled a little and politely excused himself. “Well it’s time for me to go Penny. Sebastian’s helping me hook up my internet connection.”

“Ah, okay. Thank you for giving the children a talk. They really appreciated it.”

“No problem.” He gestured for Sebastian to follow him back to his farm. “… So what were you looking for me for?”

“… I wanted to talk to you about us going out.” Sebastian reached into his pocket and got a cigarette. “You haven’t told anyone about us have you?”

“Figured you’d want to do that.” He smiled a little at Sebastian and lightly touched his hand. “It’s a small town. If you think people knowing you’re gay is going to mess up your life here I’m more than happy to keep it secret. We could also just be gay as fuck and live on my farm… You at least gonna tell Sam and Abigail?”

“Well, yeah… At some point…” He was going to die when he told them they were going out. Knowing those two they would probably try and come up with situations to get them alone together. Maybe he could just text them. “So what did you get up to today?”

“I fished, gave a talk to a class of two, and inspired Elliott to start a poetry club by mistake.”

“… You did what?”

“I’ll tell you more about it when we get back to my place… If you want to stay over for lunch. I can make pumpkin soup or sashimi.”

“Both are good.”

Chapter Text

Sam practically squealed when Sebastian told him the news. Abigail was just as enthused, but managed to restrain her squeals. He had told them he and Apollyon were dating during their latest band practice session and he had instant regrets.

“So it’s official, official?” Asked Sam. “No take backs?”

“Have you kissed yet?” Asked Abby. “Or maybe… Screwed?”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “We’ve only been going out for a few days. He still has a bunch of stuff to do so we haven’t hung out much. He said he doesn’t have much stuff to do in winter so we’ll probably hang out more then.”

“Want us to help you two get some alone time during Spirit’s Eve?” Asked Abby. She seemed a little excited about this. “You two could get lost in the maze and make out like high school lovers, or even sneak away to bump uglies… Stock up on condoms and lube.”

Sam nodded in agreement. “One can never use too much lube.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and started messing around on his synth. “Whatever… I haven’t told my mum about us yet… You two are the only ones that know. Okay?”

“You should tell her soon.” Said Sam as he tuned his guitar. “Your mum’s really cool so she should be alright with you not being straight. If not you can move in here if you like.”

Sebastian sighed and rolled his eyes. “Ah, shut up. I’m sure I’ll be fine. As long as I have an internet connection I’ll be just fine… That and with a few more commissions I’ll be able to rent a place in Zuzu city.”

Abby looked confused. “Um, so if you move to Zuzu what do you think Apollyon’s going to do? You think he’s going to drop everything to go back there? What would he do in Zuzu city anyway? Go back to working at Joja?”

That was something he hadn’t really thought about. He still wanted to go to Zuzu city. It was his dream to escape this town and go to the city. He didn’t want to stay here but he hadn’t considered what Apollyon would want in that situation. He probably wouldn’t want to leave Pelican town. However they were very early on in their relationship so things could always change. He didn’t need this added stress right now.

“I didn’t think about that…”

Sam sighed a little. “Of course you didn’t.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re kind of self-centered.”

“Rude.”

Sam shrugged. “Hey man, for better or worse you always seem to put yourself first unless push comes to shove.”

Abby nodded in agreement. “Yeah… That just leads to many questions about how you two got together in the first place anyway.”

Sebastian shrugged. “Who cares about the semantics? We’re together now and that’ all that really matters… You guys are stressing me out. I’mma light up in here at this rate.”

“Not in my room man.” Whined Sam. “My mum will get so pissed at me if my room smells like smoke. Also, ash. Ash everywhere.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes and picked up an empty Joja cola can. “Happy now? Joja ash tray.”

A defeated sigh made its way past Sam’s lips. “Fine… Did you see on the notice board that Elliott is starting a poetry club? First meeting’s the day after Spirit’s Eve. Either of you want to come with me?”

His friends gave him weird looks. “Why?” Asked Abigail. “Since when have you been a poet?”

“I figured it would help writing song lyrics.” Sam tapped his lyric book for emphasis. “Song lyrics are just poems with music. So you two want to come with me? Penny already said she was interested in it so I’m going with her too, but yeah… thought you guys might be interested.”

Abigail shrugged. “Chores. Can’t do it… Since when did Elliott have a poem club?”

“Ask Apollyon next time you see him.” Said Sebastian as he searched for a cigarette. “He apparently gave him the idea.

After that the rest of their practice session was a mix of actually playing music and talking about Spirit’s Eve. Abby was excited for the maze. Sam also liked the maze, but he was looking forward to the food too. Sebastian wanted to see if Marlon was going to bring more skeleton’s down to spook everyone.

***

Apollyon didn’t check his mail the day of Spirit’s Eve. All he really wanted to do was beat the ever loving shit out of some monsters in hand to combat. Any day now Gadreel might come back and he wanted to be able to throw a punch hard enough to knock him out. His monster of choice to practice on was the metal head’s. Round little monsters that’s whole body was incased in what looked like a metal shell only exposing little glowing eyes and little yellow feet. They charged at his knees so they were good for kicking practice.

With one powerful kick he managed to launch the creature into a rock, killing it and cracking the rock in half. While the monster had nothing in it, the rock did. It seemed to have an omni geode, which surprisingly got smashed when the monster hit it. Now Apollyon didn’t have to bother about asking Clint to break it. He happily dusted it off the purple mineral inside the geode and was delighted to find that it was a huge chunk of obsidian.

He remembered that Maru once told him Sebastian loved this stuff and his birthday was coming up. If he could get it all shiny and clean he was sure it would look even better. He put it in his backpack and headed out of the mines.

Standing at the mines entrance he could see some unusual lights down in the town. Curious, Apollyon dusted off his hands and walked into town. From the decorations and such that were all around town it looked like it was Spirit’s Eve. In retrospect he felt like he should have noticed this since there were so many monsters running around the mines today, more than usual.

He made his way down to the tables all set up with food and sat by Emily and Shane. As soon as he was close enough Emily have him a big hug and Shane gave a nod of acknowledgement. “So good to see you Apollyon!” Said the blue haired woman. “I didn’t think you were going to turn up tonight.”

“Why?”

“I came by to go and get you but you weren’t there. By the way your wheat field is amazing.”

Apollyon laughed a little. “Yeah, I’m going to harvest it tomorrow. Should be a good haul. I’ll be able to brew some good beer during winter.”

Shane perked up a little at that. “Give me a little taste of that when it’s ready.”

“Of course.” Said Apollyon. “I plan to see what you and Pam think of my beer. If it’s any good I’ll see if Gus approves of it and start brewing some stuff for the saloon.” He hoped he’d be alive long enough to start doing that. Now he felt guilt starting to well up in the pit of his stomach.

Shane and Emily continued to talk about whatever it was they were talking about before he showed up, so Apollyon just let his eyes wander around the festival for a bit. There were lots of tables around with lots of food. More than likely provided by Gus. There was a huge cage set up by Marlon that had several skeletons walking around in it. Apollyon hated those things. Further up by the community center was a giant maze. That looked a little interesting.

He managed to spot Sebastian by the skeleton cage and his heart fluttered a little. He knew that Sebastian wasn’t going to want to do anything couply like holding hands or kissing, but he could still hang out with him right? Apollyon didn’t want things to be awkward between them. Hell, things were more awkward between them then the rare occasions he happened to see one of his one night stands on the street.

“Hey, you listening?” Asked Shane.

Apollyon looked at him. “What?”

“I said; I’ll be over at your place around midday to pick up your chickens.” Repeated Shane.

Emily looked confused. “Why are you taking his chickens?”

“I don’t have a heater.” Said Apollyon calmly. “This winter I plan on making lots of money and when I do I’ll be able to get a heater and get my chickens back. I didn’t want them to freeze over winter and I couldn’t just bring them into my house. Goblin would probably eat them.”

“You’re so considerate of your animals.” Emily smiled and put her hand on Apollyon’s. “Your aura is also especially bright today. Take advantage of it.”

Apollyon smiled a little and got up. “I will Emily. Don’t you worry. See you guys later.” He headed over to Sebastian, gently tapping him on the shoulder. “Hey.”

Sebastian jumped a little but quickly composed himself. “Hey… You’re covered in dirt.”

“I decided to roll in the dirt by the railroad track. Just normal kid’s stuff.”

Sebastian quirked an eyebrow and looked at the pickaxe Apollyon had on him. “… So you weren’t mining?”

Apollyon shrugged. “Maybe just a little mining. I’m hoping to find a prismatic shard to donate to the library. Once I’ve done that then I’ve donated almost ever mineral on my list.”

“That’s cool.”

Apollyon smiled a little and stood by Sebastian. Just close enough for their fingers to brush against each other. Sebastian put his hands in his pockets. “… So, these skeletons huh? How do you think they walk around without ligaments and stuff?”

“Magic?”

“Probably… Hey, sorry we haven’t had much time to hang out with each other. I’ve been trying to get everything ready for winter. I’ll probably have much more time to spend with you then.”

“I’ve had work, so we’re both to blame for the time stuff…” He glanced over at the food tables. Apollyon followed his gaze, noticing that he was looking at his parents. “… How did you come out to your parents?”

Apollyon shrugged. “Getting my ass fucked by a guy in the living room seemed to get the point across.”

Sebastian choked on air. “Are you serious?!”

“Nah, my mum’s always been free spirited when it comes to sex or sexuality. She has some weird idea that souls kind of just float around for a while before getting sucked into a baby when they take their first breath.” Said Apollyon. “I think she thinks that souls kind of absorb their surroundings and ideas and stuff so when they get put in a baby it’s already preset as to what they will end up being or something weird like that.”

“Huh, no demon explanation this time?” Asked Sebastian in an almost teasing manner.

“Well, technically lesser demons are hermaphrodites with no real distinguishing features. Demon reproduction is weird and a lot more animalistic than human sex.” Informed Apollyon. “Though more powerful demons have more of a physical structure with distinct arms and legs…”

Sebastian sighed. “Well that’s not really helping me much…”

“… Sorry.” He looked around a little and nudged Sebastian softly. “Hey, you don’t have to think about that stuff tonight. Want to come with me back to my farm? I have this huge pumpkin at home that I don’t know what to do with. I can make you some pumpkin soup if you like.”

“… Alright.” The two of them left the festival and once they were well out of sight Sebastian reached out and held Apollyon’s hand. “… Sorry. I’m kind of a coward at heart…”

Apollyon gently squeezes his hand. “It’s okay. Look, I get it. Really I do. If things go badly for you things go really bad. I’m fine with keeping things secret. I just want you to be happy.”

“… I feel like a selfish fuck for doing that.”

If Sebastian was selfish then what on earth did that make Apollyon? “Look, just don’t think about that kind of stuff right now. We can hang out now, right?”

“Yeah.” When they got to the farm, Sebastian seemed surprised to see how much wheat was growing on Apollyon’s property. “… That’s a lot of wheat.”

Apollyon grinned, dumping his backpack by his front door. “Yeah. I’m going to make so much beer. Gus is gonna be stocked till at least the end of Spring.” He walked into the field. “Come, I want to show you the cool new scarecrow I got.”

Sebastian smiled a little and followed Apollyon into the wheat field. Apollyon made sure to warn him about any sprinkler he had around. The last thing he needed was for someone to trip over one and either break it or break their ankle.

“And here’s my scarecrow. Cool isn’t it?”

“… Is that a giant raccoon?” Asked Sebastian in disbelief.

Apollyon poked out his tongue. “Don’t be mean. This raccoon is cute. I like it a lot. They have stopped birds from getting at my wheat.”

“Whatever.”

“No, it’s cute.”

“Whatever.”

“…” Apollyon pouted and pulled Sebastian close, making him squeak a little in surprise at the sudden closeness. “Admit that the raccoon is cute or I’ll make you pay.” He kind of hoped that Sebastian wouldn’t take that in a sexual way.

A dark blush quickly made its way across Sebastian’s face. “You gonna punish me now demon boy?” He purred. Damn it, he did take it sexually.

Apollyon was willing to roll with it. He smirked at Sebastian, placing his hands on his hips, rubbing his thumbs against the hem of his hoodie slowly making it creep higher and higher. “Tonight on Spirit’s Eve? I don’t think you’ll be able to handle me at my full power.”

“Well I’m not like most people.”

“I can tell. You better be ready for my punishment. I’m not going to hold back.”

Sebastian looked a little nervous but he nodded anyway. This conformation was good enough for Apollyon as he quickly pushed his hands under Sebastian’s hoodie and started to tickle his sides. This quickly sent Sebastian into fits of laugher as he squirmed and tried to get away from Apollyon.

“F-fuck you!” He called out between fits of laughter.

“Accept your punishment.” Cooed Apollyon as he continued to tickle him. “Call the raccoon cute or I will continue!”

Sebastian flailed and fell over, pulling Apollyon down with him. As he gaped for breath Apollyon sat next to him, holding his hand. “F-fine.” He wheezed. “It’s cute.”

“Good.” He looked up at the stars and sighed contently. Tonight was nice. Soon it would start to snow. He might try and make a snowman.

“… You’re an ass.”

“Hmm? Why?”

Sebastian poked his side. “I thought we were going to do something else…”

“… Seb, I’m covered in dirt and sweat and some other stuff. I’m all for getting down and dirty, but I feel pretty gross at the moment. You probably don’t want to screw around with a guy that reeks of B.O.”

The other man wrinkled his nose at that. “Yeah, okay. Fair enough.” He sat up and dusted himself off. “… I think I crushed a wheat plant…”

Apollyon moved so he was leaning over him to check the plant. “… Yep. It’s dead, but it’s okay. I still have plenty of wheat and you’re not hurt.” He moved back, stopping only to look into Sebastian’s eyes. “You’re not hurt are you?”

He was blushing again. “I’m good…”

“That’s good.” He quickly leaned forward and lightly kissed Sebastian’s lips. It might have just been a moment but Apollyon could still taste the nicotine. He could get addicted to his kisses if he wasn’t careful. That’s how smoking worked, right? Apollyon stood up and helped Sebastian to his feet. “How about some pumpkin soup?”

Sebastian smiled, not able to keep eye contact. Was he embarrassed by the kiss? “Yeah, sure. I love pumpkin soup.”

“Thank Yoba you do. I hate pumpkins I didn’t want it to go to waste.” The two of them walked back to the farm through the wheat field. For the time being, Apollyon was happy.