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    As odd as it was, having sex hadn’t changed anything between the pair.  In fact, to his amazement, they had grown even closer. They spent almost all their time in eachother’s company.  Just today, she had allowed him to accompany her outside the house; albeit invisible. Still, at least she hadn’t tried to restrict his actions toward the general populace of the town she lived in.  More often than not, she turned a blind eye to his antics. Especially when he decided to unload on those that decided to pick on her.

    Betelgeuse found himself feeling extremely protective of his living lover and couldn’t help himself.  After all, his philosophy was no one got to mess with what was his and got away with it. The only reason why he hadn’t juiced Claire Brewster to Hell and back had been Lydia’s insistence that he do nothing.  Eleanor had no such reservation. Had even thanked him with tear in her eyes the first time. It had almost been enough to make him want to invoke even more suffering on the teens. His little pranks had been far too light of a punishment for someone that had made the woman he loved cry.

    What galled him even more was the fact she was normally so strong.  She took everything in stride with a shocking calmness. These fuckers had to have done some real shit to her to cause such a state.  From that moment on, he had made it his personal mission to make these kids’ lives as miserable as he possibly could. Looking over at the teen beside him, he felt his dead heart give a lurch.  In all his unlife, he couldn’t remember loving someone as much as he loved her. She saw past all his quirks, all his horrible habits and loved him just the way he was. Even deigned to kiss him on her own more often than not.

    Sensing she was being watched, Ellie looked up from her homework and over her shoulder.  When she saw her odd boyfriend, she couldn’t help but smile. Getting to her feet slowly, she chewed her lower lip while she considered something she had been thinking about asking for a while now.  She was coming up on graduation and wanted to go to college. If only for the sake of learning more about ghosts as well as the afterlife. Because of this, she wanted to ask his opinion on what college she should attend.  “Uhm, B, do you mind if I ask you a question?” she ventured cautiously.

    Raising his brow at the timid tone his woman had taken, the bio-exorcist straightened in mid-air before landing on the carpet.  “Sure babes, you know you can ask me anything,” he responded, tilting his head to one side curiously. When she blushed and avoided his glance, he only got more curious.

    “I want to get into paranormal psychology.  A field I’m not even sure exists. Would you... would you happen to have any suggestions for a good college?” came out of her in a small, quiet voice.

    For a few moments, the poltergeist simply stared down at her; vaguely wondering if he had misheard her.  Then he was slowly nodding, one school in particular coming to mind. It was close to the town of Winter River and had been started by Lydia.  Initially, it had been small. But, over the years, it had grown into a huge college that ghost hunters everywhere flocked to for a proper education.  Still, paranormal psychology was a new one on him. “I know of a place but... it would involve quite the move,” he finally responded, feeling just the slightest bit of excitement blossom inside him.

    If she chose to go to this school, they would have to move into the house Lyds had given him so long ago.  Just the thought of building a life with Ellie caused pleasant shivers to run up and down his spine. “Where is it and how hard is it to get in?” came a question that made him grin.  Taking her into a gentle hold, he transported them to Winter River. A small town that was on the opposite side of the continent from where she lived. To say the journey was disorienting was more than a bit of an understatement.  Shaking her head as she backed out of his loosehold, she gave him a playful smack on the chest while trying to get her bearings.

    “You could have just told me, you know,” she pointed out in a tone of playful crankiness.

    Then she was looking around, the energy in the air making the fine hairs on her arms stand on end.  Reality here felt thinner than normal. It was a sensation that was hard to explain but one she had become familiar with over many trips to the Neitherworld.  Shuddering slightly, she turned to the right to see a massive, brick building looming over her. Half transparent ghosts mixed in with the students, even seeming to interact with more than a few of them.  In fact, a rather matronly ghost was making its way toward them.

    As the figure got closer, it became clearer it was a woman with black hair.  She was also dressed entirely in black, a kind but sad smile on her ruby lips.  Dark eyes moved from Ellie to the spirit beside her, a hint of pain coming into her wise orbs.  “B.J.... I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” she whispered, seeming almost like she was going to start crying at any moment.

    “Same here Lyds.  Was almost certain you’d choose to be reincarnated with your hubby,” the ghoul pointed out, all of his fire seeming to leave him at once.

    Hearing the nickname of B’s former friend and love interest, Ellie immediately felt her hackles raise.  Through context alone, she could tell just how much this woman had meant to him and how much she had crushed him when she chose another man.  Still, as much as she wanted to give the female across from her a piece of her mind, she decided to hold her tongue out of respect for the undead man beside her.  It was obvious he still cared about her a great deal and, besides that, Eleanor still needed to gain admission into this college. Something she was sure she couldn’t achieve if she insulted the undead founder.  Instead, she settled for winding a hand into that of her lover’s.

    Noticing the motion, Lydia looked down at their clasped hands before moving her head to meet Ellie’s gaze.  “I couldn’t move on, not after wanting to see the afterlife for much of my life. Still, it seems you aren’t here for a visit.  May I ask the name of your living companion?” she replied, her pleasant smile wavering.

    “Eleanor Craftian.  I’m looking to be a paranormal psychologist and B said this was the best place to do so,” the would be student responded, meeting her possible rival’s eyes unflinchingly.

    Nodding, the odd dean turned and began to float down the cobblestone path; leading the way to an imposing building that was obviously the center of this place.  “You remind me a lot of myself when I was younger Eleanor. I was also obsessed with ghost as well as the afterlife,” sighed her voice like a whisper on the wind, making the living woman behind her shudder instinctively.

    “Though, I never really believed in ghosts.  Not until my dad and stepmother moved here. See, they had no idea the house they bought was already very much occupied,” she continued, passing through the double doors like they didn’t exist.

    Blinking, Ellie opened the rightmost one; following their host up a polished set of wooden stairs.  “The undead family that already occupied the house weren’t too thrilled with us moving in like that.  Especially when they came back from a meeting with Juno to see Delia had completely changed their house to make it her own.  Out of desperation, they decided to summon Betelgeuse. They quickly found out he would be more of a hassle than a help and decided to attempt to get rid of us themselves,” she continued, a wistful smile on her abnormally pale visage.

    “And that attempt was laughable at best.  They were a shame to ghost kind. So, naturally, I had to take things into my own hands,”  Betelgeuse interjected, puffing out his chest a bit while looking all too proud of himself.

    Both Ellie and Lydia looked at him with an expression of playful exasperation before meeting eachother’s gaze.  While the younger breather immediately broke eye contact, the undead Dean raised a brow before looking at her long time friend.  With a slow smile of comprehension, she simply phased through the door that lead to her office. Blinking, the would-be student behind her opened the door and entered.  Once inside, her jaw dropped open in amazement. The walls were lined with shelves of books, a large, detailed globe was in the back left corner, and in the center of the rear was a beautiful, polished, oak desk with a leather chair behind it.

    In that chair sat a very alive looking man, a small smile on his bearded face.  “I see you made it to the office alright, can I get your name and what you want your major to be?” rumbled his pleasant baritone the corners of his eyes crinkling slightly.

    “Its alright Thomas.  This one can see and speak to spirits,” Lydia sighed from behind the newcomers, causing all three of them to look at her.  Giving a grin to Ellie, she floated toward the desk while her living stand in got to his feet.

    “Sorry Mrs. Cross.  Not too many come through her possessing those abilities at first,” came an unneeded apology as he was making his way to the door.

    Nodding, the ghostly Dean took a seat before motioning the pair to come closer.  “To continue my story, before he got involved; my parents wanted the Maitlands to show up again.  When they refused, they charged up to the attic with Delia’s friend; Otho. After they saw the room was empty, they left but... not before the fat bastard grabbed the handbook,” she continued, looking up at the poltergeist next to the younger female.  Chuckling, the long dead exorcist wrapped a loose arm around his current lover’s waist while a nostalgic expression crossed over his face.

    “Before he decided to use it, I utilized a small bit of my talent to show those squares just how a haunting was done,” he murmured, grinning wide enough to show off his rotting teeth.

    “Yes and, if I remember correctly, neither I or the Maitlands were amused by you turning into a snake and nearly killing my father,” Lydia chided gently, an amused glint in her dark eyes despite the clear irritation in her voice.

    The bio-exorcist merely shrugged, tugging Ellie closer so she was pressing against him.  “He wasn’t even injured and, besides, Charles needed a little excitement in his life,” he countered, still smirking.  The young woman to his right simply shook her head, the corners of her mouth quirked slightly.

    “Besides, I saved those worthless scraps of ectoplasm when you asked,” he continued, mischief shimmering in his wild eyes.

    “Yeah, I just had to agree to marry you so you could escape the Neitherworld,” his old friend pointed out, still smiling.

    Blinking, Ellie looked up at the ghoul next to her.  Of all the things he had told her about his time with the ghost in front of them, that hadn’t been one of them.  While the information wouldn’t change how she felt about him, it did make her wonder if he would try the same thing with her.  If they were going to get married, she wanted it to be because he loved her.  Not because he wanted to have the afterlife equivalent of a green card. Unfortunately, the shameful look he gave her in response didn’t give her much hope for that ever happening.  “So, how did you two meet?” came a question that brought her back to the present.

    Looking up at the woman that would be admitting her into college and was a possible rival, Ellie debated just how much to tell her.  After a good look into the other woman’s eyes, the future student decided it wouldn’t do any harm to at least answer her question. After all, it wasn’t like the spirit was asking for her entire life story.  “I... found the handbook in a thrift store and his business card was inside. I know it wasn’t smart but I was curious and I had always held an interest in the occult. I decided to call the name on the card three times and I guess the rest is history,” she finally responded, wrapping her own arm around her undead lover’s waist.

    Nodding, Lydia placed her elbows on the desk and twined her fingers together; resting her chin on them.  “Why do you want to be a paranormal psychologist? I doubt you’ll get much money and nothing like that job has ever existed before,” she inquired, her smile widening slightly.

    “I want to help both the dead and the living that happen to have a troublesome ghost in their house.  Rather than destroying the spirit, I want to help both parties learn to live with eachother. Maybe even help ghosts lead more happy afterlives rather than focusing on the tragedy that caused them to pass away,” Eleanor replied, her voice only holding pride and hope for the future.

    Nodding, the ghostly Dean opened a drawer in her desk to pull out a sheaf of paper.  Reaching over the desk, she handed it to her future student with a wide grin. “Just fill that out and have B.J. bring it back when you’re done.  You should know if you’re accepted in a few weeks after that,” whispered her soft voice while an excited expression blossomed on Ellie’s face.

    “Thank you so much!” the young woman gushed, practically bursting with excitement.

    Smiling down at the breather that had captured his heart, he wrapped an arm around her waist to keep her close to his body.  Then he was disappearing, leaving Lydia staring at the place where the pair had been standing. “To think, B.J. has a girlfriend,” she mused to herself quietly, her dead heart giving a pang in the center of her chest.  While she had been alive, she had only considered him a friend. Yet, buried somewhere deep inside her, she’d held a secret crush. A crush she had denied until some time in her afterlife. Unfortunately, it appeared she had figured it out far too late.  The one ghost she could have possibly lived her afterlife with had a woman of his own. The worst part was, she only had herself to blame.

    Getting out of her chair, she floated over to the window behind her desk.  Staring down at the students that mixed with the spirits, she couldn’t feel too sorry for herself.  Not only had she lived a full life, her legacy was still continuing well after her death. It also helped that Ellie seemed to love her old friend with all her heart.  Smiling she leaned back in the chair to stare at the ceiling. All in all, she was more than a bit curious to see just how things would go.

    Oblivious to the ponderings of the woman who would possibly be her Dean, Eleanor clung to her undead lover while the complete silence of the between pressed in all around her.  While she didn’t particularly enjoy this mode of transportation, she couldn’t deny just how much faster it was. Whimpering, she held the depleting air in her lungs until she finally felt solid ground under her feet.  Yet, she was reluctant to release the poltergeist until she was sure they were somewhere safe. Cautiously opening one eye, she drew in a sharp breath when she saw what surrounded them.

    There were literal curtains of cobwebs hanging off the ceiling and a thick layer of dust covering the dilapidated pieces of furniture.  Not that there were that many objects in the room to begin with. In fact, there was a dusty, worn out looking coffin with a yellowed, sunken in cushion on the inside, a leaning, splintered looking dresser and a torn, ratty looking couch.  Shuddering at the filth, she eyed the couch with a wary expression; wondering just how much dust would come out if she sat on it. ‘I hope this isn’t a sign of what the rest of this place looks like,’ Ellie mused to herself as she finally let go of her undead lover.

    Smirking at the expression on her face, the ancient troublemaker decided to have a little fun at her expense.  “Like the decor? Matches my personality, don’t you think?” purred out of him while his left arm wrapped around her shoulder to pull her close to his side.  Biting back a chuckle when she gave him a shaky, horror filled smile, he placed a kiss on her forehead.

    “Want the grand tour of the place?” the poltergeist continued, smirking when his breather’s eyes widened.

    As much as she didn’t want to see what condition the rest of this place was in, it would be rude not accept his offer.  Besides, she would likely be living here from now on; it would be relevant to know the layout. So, with marked reluctance, Ellie nodded while wrapping an arm around the ghoul’s waist.  In a blink, they were on what appeared to be to be the ground level. Though it could have been into another house entirely given the extreme difference from what was upstairs. While there was dust and cobwebs due to disuse, the furniture was in much better condition.  In fact none of it seemed to even come close to matching Betelgeuse’s strange tastes.

    Moving deeper into the house, she began to notice there was an odd mishmash of styles.  In some rooms, it almost looked like a middle-class family had decorated. While other rooms looked like an eccentric artist had held influence.  Still others looked like some goth woman’s wet dream. It almost looked like three different families had lived here at the same time. Walking into what looked like the dining room, Ellie found some of her questions answered by a single, framed picture.  A photo that was hanging on one of the blinding white walls and showed two sets of very different grown-ups and what looked to be a much younger version of Lydia.

    One pair of older people looked almost painfully normal, the man wearing an awful plaid shirt while the woman wore a bland looking, flower print dress.  The other couple next to them could be anymore opposite. While the man seemed fairly straight laced and normal, almost to the point of appearing downtrodden, the woman next to him was obviously the one responsible for all the ugly and slightly horrifying statues tucked into the makeshift gallery in the dining room.  She was dressed in an outfit only an eccentric model would love and her violently red hair was done up in a hair-do that resembled a palm tree. It was only upon closer inspection that she noticed the middle-class couple to the left was slightly transparent.

    Watching her from behind, the half rotted ghost felt a pang in his chest.  Just seeing a pic of Lyds at that age brought back so many memories. Some of them good, some of them bad.  He only wished the lily-livered Maitlands hadn’t mattered so much to one of his few friends. Just seeing them made him want to curl his upper lip in disgust.  Stepping up behind his current breather, the old rogue braced himself for any questions she may have. Therefore, he wasn’t too surprised when Eleanor turned her head to give him a confused look.  “Before you ask, the transparent couple you’re seeing are the Maitlands. Two ghosts Lydia considered surrogate parents and part of the reason why I even met her in the first place,” murmured his raspy voice as he reached into his jacket pocket for one of his beyond stale, clove cigarettes.

    As he took a drag, the young woman crinkled her brow slightly.  She had heard a rather condensed version of this story before. One that had, of course, painted the undead man before her in the best light possible.  “So, this house belonged to my future dean as well as the family you were trying to exorcise and the family you were brought in to save,” she confirmed, some part of her feeling a bit uncomfortable living in a house that possibly belonged to the only rival she had.

    “Basically.  When Lyds died, she left the place to me so I would both have place to stay  and the place would have someone to watch over it,” came a rather neutral response while Ellie looked around the cobweb clogged room with a raised brow.

    Chuckling softly she shook her head before turning to give Betelgeuse a teasing grin.  “I don’t think she really picked the right person if she wanted the place kept clean,” purred out of her before she was rolling up her sleeves and heading into the kitchen.  Floating in her wake, the bio-exorcist observed as she pulled out various cleaning supplies to set them on a dust caked counter.

    “What are you doing,” came a question that had her turning to giving him a raised brow.

    “Getting ready to do some heavy house cleaning.  If I’m going to live here, I’d rather not have a bunch of spiders and dust mites as roommates,” Ellie responded before picking up the clean rag she was intending to use for dusting.

    Grumbling and rolling his yellowed, acid green eyes, the poltergeist snapped his fingers.  In an instant, years of filth simply disappeared. “Geez, you breathers are so boring. No appreciation for the various forms of filth,” grumbled a raspy mid-tone while a grin curled his slightly purple tinted lips.  Placing both hands on her hips, Ellie gave him a playful glare.

    “You can’t seriously tell me your roomies like living in that pigsty you call a home.  I bet if they were given half a chance, they’d have cleaned long ago,” she pointed out sardonically before going through the kitchen to see what essentials she’d need to pick up.

    Beyond food, Ellie was surprised to find she had all the essentials.  Unfortunately, there was one big problem with going into town to restock.  At the moment, there was no access to a car. This meant that transportation would be left to a certain ghoul.  A ghoul that liked to cause chaos and mayhem wherever he went.. Especially when it came to being around large crowds of what the dead called ‘breathers’.  Of all the people Betelgeuse was around, he like to tease the living ones the most. According to him, their reactions made everything a lot more fun. This would make the simple act of grocery shopping more than just a little interesting.  Still, she conceded that she didn’t really have much of a choice if she wanted to eat any time soon. Pinching the bridge of her nose, the young woman sighed before looking up at her long dead lover. “Would you mind juicing me over to the nearest grocery store?” came a hesitant question.  The smile the curled his lips in response, chilled her down to her very bone marrow.

    A few moments later, Ellie found herself in the middle of the swirling purgatory that was the realm between realities.  Holding her breath, she clung tightly to the striped suit of her beloved; keeping her eyes tightly closed. It was only when she felt solid ground under her feet that she opened them once more.  “Guh, I’m starting to really hate that mode of transport,” she hissed, swaying while her stomach did several cartwheels.

    “You’ll get used to it after awhile.  Go do yer shoppin’,” murmured a rasp laced mid-tone in her ear.

    “Just... don’t cause a mass panic while I do so?” whispered a faint request before the female was wandering off into the maze of aisles.

    Watching her with a wide grin that showed off all his crooked, green teeth, the bio-exorcist looked at all the half conscious living people getting their necessaries.  It would be a damn shame not to stir things up. Put a little excitement in their lives. Moving toward a mother with a young child in the front of the cart, he gave a wave to the gawping little one before perusing what items she had collected.  Right away he spotted something that spoke to his creative side. Winking to the five year old, he disappeared into a shrink wrapped pack of steaks.

    Eleanor had been looking over the meat when she heard shrill screaming.  Rolling her eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh, she continued her shopping.  In fact, she ignored the flood of people that vacated the store; leaving their mostly full carts in their wake.   ‘Well, at least the lines won’t be to terrible,’ she mused to herself before picking up a pack of shrimp.  A few minutes later, she was watching a pale, shaking cashier scan her items, nervous eyes flitting around for any sign of what had caused the commotion.  Paying what was owed, the young woman took her bagged groceries and walked out the automatic doors; inwardly amused at the relieved look on the teen’s face.

    Almost immediately, a certain poltergeist was right by her side.  Not even offering to take some of the bags, he wrapped her in a tight embrace so he could juice them home.  Once back in the kitchen, the pair immediately noticed they had company. There, with a wide smile on a ghostly pale face, stood Lydia.  Next to her was a much older ghost with a deep scar on her neck, making her seem like she had been decapitated. “I heard you’d come back.  Didn’t expect you to have a girl with you,” the elderly female rasped, sounding like she smoked at least ten packs a day.

    “What are you doing here Juno?  Lyds I can understand, since my lady here applied for her college.  You, on the other hand...,” growled a rather protective inquiry while a striped arm wrapped around a pair of shoulders.

    Raising a brow, Juno simply pulled out a cigarette and lit it to take a deep drag.  Blowing a plume of smoke out of the incision in her throat, the matriarch merely smiled.  “After hearing about your ‘companion’, I had to make sure you weren’t coercing her into anything,” murmured a response that had Ellie puffing up in indignation.  Frowning slightly, the would-be college student grit her teeth before. Marching toward the elderly ghost, she rolled up invisible sleeves before standing toe to toe with the invader.

    “Look, I realize he’s caused more than his share of trouble in the Neitherworld and that he may have had abhorrent behavior in the past but I am here by my own will.  This poltergeist is not only one of my best friends but someone I happen to be in a relationship with,” hissed out of her as she seemed to repress an urge to poke the other woman in her chest.  Not only would that have accomplished nothing, it was highly likely Eleanor would have simply fallen through the ghost.

    Thoroughly unimpressed, Juno took another drag of her cancer stick while the dean to her right hid a grin behind her hand.  “You’re just a little spitfire aren’t you? You’ll need that to live with this old rogue. Still, its good to see someone standing up for him for once.  Even if he has caused more than his fair share of grief,” rumbled a frog croak of a voice before her glazed over, blue eyes moved over to the undead man behind the younger breather.  Looking over her shoulder so see where he was, Ellie jumped out of her skin when she noticed he was almost on top of her.

    A rather vicious expression on his moldy face, Betelgeuse placed a firm hand on her right shoulder; pulling her back until her body was pressing against his.  “While you may run most of the Neitherworld, you have no right to talk about things that are purely my business,” snarled a venomous mid-tone while acid green eyes narrowed.  Chuckling, the matriarch snubbed out her half smoked cigarette.

    “Have it your way.  You just better be careful with the little lady you have there.  She seems loyal, if not a little naive. If you break her heart, you may not find another to take her place,” rasped a warning that had the pair bristling at the same time.

    “As if anyone could ever replace my Eleanor.  She had been more understanding than any of the other humans I tried to pursue.  You may have trouble believing this but I love this girl entirely. I would never do anything to hurt her if I could help it,” rumbled a rather vicious snarl.

    Observing all of this with an amused expression, Lydia simply shook her head.  It had been so long since she had seen her dearest friend so happy. It just cemented the fact that she had truly lost her chance.  It was a bittersweet realization but one she was glad to have. Despite her own, very strong feelings, what she wanted most was to see him happy.  If this breather succeeded where she had failed, Lydia would happily call that a win. Still, she wasn’t about to step into this little catfight. She had no desire to get into a pissing match with Juno after all.

    Chuckling, the matriarch of the group simply shook her head.  “Good to see you back on your feet. I wish the both of you the best of luck,” rumbled her smoke roughened voice before she disappeared in a thick cloud.

    “Show off,” grumbled Betelgeuse under his breath, earning amused looks from the two women that were left.

    “Like you’re one to talk B.J..  If I remember, you used to love using your powers to make puns out of yourself,” Lydia pointed out, a smirk curling her black lips.

    Covering her mouth to hide a snicker, Ellie looked at her undead lover out of the corner of her eyes.  She wasn’t surprised to see the poltergeist looked just a touch embarrassed as well as annoyed. “Shoulda never introduced you two.  Before I know it, you’ll be swapping all sorts of stories about me,” sighed a good natured complaint.

    “As fun as that sounds, that’s not the reason I came here so soon after our meeting,” the ghostly dean admitted, dark eyes moving to her would-be student.

    “I didn’t need to look over all your records to know I wanted you in our school.  I think you’ll be a great asset to both my college and the world at large. Especially if your plans come to fruition,” Lydia declared, smiling when she saw the excitement flooding into the young woman’s blood red eyes.

    Staring at the ghost in front of her, Eleanor couldn’t quite believe what she had heard.  Blinking several times, she wiggled a finger in her right ear before clearing her throat. “W-would you mind repeating that?  I could have sworn you said you already accepted me,” whispered out of her, her body swaying slightly as she looked like she was on the verge of passing out.

    “You heard correctly.  You’ll be starting next year as school is already in session.  Until then, I hope you enjoy your time off,” Lydia replied, chuckling when the young breather simply crumpled like a bundle of celery.  As Betelgeuse bent to pick up his lover, she took that as her cue to leave. After all, it was highly likely the couple would want to celebrate the good news in a very intimate manner.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sometime After Sunset~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    “Are you sure you should ‘ave brought ‘er ‘ere Beeyaytailjooce?” whispered a thick, French accent.

    “Yeah, I’m sure she would have appreciated waking up in her own room rather than in your filthy coffin,” intoned a Jersey accent while a pair of eyelids fluttered.

    “I know what I’m doin’.  Besides, I have a hunch she would have wanted to come here to celebrate.  I seem to have knack for attracting the morbid ones,” husked a proud mid-tone.

    Groaning and sitting up, a feminine silhouette held her head in one hand while seeming to try to comprehend her surroundings.  Shaking her head, Ellie awkwardly got out of the high walled casket. “Its okay guys. B is right. Before I fainted, I was thinking of asking him to bring me here.  Just the one visit wasn’t nearly enough for me. Especially since I intend to become almost a liaison for both sides of life,” wheezed her sleep muzzed voice while all three ghosts in the room spun to look at her.  In a split second, she found herself in a striped embrace, breathing in the scent of perpetually rotting flesh while the other two slowly backed off to give the pair room.

    “Glad you’re finally conscious babes.  You’ve been out for hours. Are ya okay?” rumbled in her ear while the arms encircling her tightened slightly.

    “Never better!  I just still can’t believe how much happened in one day,” murmured a reassurance while she nuzzled into his mossy, moldy neck.

    “Good.  Let’s take a moment for you to get some strength back.  After you feel well enough, there’s someone I want to introduce you to,” Betelgeuse announced before leading her out to the living room.

    Unbeknownst to the couple, the pair behind them shared a concerned glance.  They had a good inkling of who their friend was planning on introducing Eleanor to and they had a foreboding feeling that is would go very poorly.  Still, neither of them could do anything to stop it. All they could do was trust Beetlejuice. An intimidating prospect if you knew anything about the troublemaking ghoul.  Shaking his skull, Jacques placed Ginger on a bony shoulder before making his way to the living room.

    Oblivious to what was happening, Ellie simply leaned into her smelly boyfriend and watched some Neitherworld TV.  As much as she wanted to protest waiting, she felt tired down to her very bone marrow. It honestly wouldn’t kill her if she took a few moments to relax and allow the adrenaline to drain out of her body.  Besides, the shows were endlessly interesting. Most of them were things you would never see in the world of the living. Right now, a weird cartoon called ‘Zanzibar the Zombie Dog’ was playing. Just like the title suggested, it was about a little zombie dog that ate the living; much to the chagrin of his undead owner.  While gross, it was amusing.

    Her companion, on the other hand, couldn’t be more bored.  With the Neitherworld as opposed to change as it was, all the shows had been in reruns for as long as he had been dead.  Still, he was glad his living companion was amused. It had been a long time since he had seen such a strong spark of life in one of his friends’ eyes.  Digging around in his filthy coat pocket, he pulled out a wriggling roach; popping the critter into his mouth and crunching down loudly on the exoskeleton.  Of all the bugs he ate on a daily basis, cockroaches were his favorite. Not only did they have a nice crunch but their guts were usually delightfully disgusting.

    Shuddering at her lover’s choice of snack, Ellie stretched while the show wound down to the credit sequence.  As the first names began to show on the screen, she began to reflect on one of the big reasons she wanted to become a paranormal psychologist.  It wasn’t an entirely altruistic reason either. Truthfully, she wanted to prove once and for all that ghosts, as well as the afterlife, were real.  Maybe then she could finally introduce her otherworldly partner to her mother, not that it would make it any easier for her to accept him or the relationship.  Gnawing at her lower lip in worry, she subconsciously furrowed her brow while the scenario played itself out in her head.

    Her mother was sitting at the table with a confused expression while Eleanor sat across from her.  Folding her hands over the wooden surface, the nervous young woman cleared her throat. “Mom... I met someone a while ago and I finally decided to introduce him to you,” began a shaky announcement.

    “That’s great!  Well, where is he?  Waiting outside?” gushed the excited response while the matriarch got to her feet and looked around.

    “Uh... sort of.  Listen, please sit down and promise not to freak out,” Ellie begged, wincing at the instant look of concern that passed over her mom’s face.

    “What’s wrong?  Is he a criminal?  A gang member? Does he use drugs?” shot a barrage of questions that felt more like pellets from a B.B. gun.

    “Just... its easier to show you than explain, okay?  But you have to promise not to scream,” the much younger female pleaded, knowing she was only frightening the woman before her even more.

    Taking a deep breath while the person across from her quieted, the younger Craftian summoned her undead lover.  Almost instantly, a cold wind began to whip around them; the room around them twisting and warping into something dark.  Immediately, Maven grew pale; her hands white knuckling on the table as her eyes widened. Behind her daughter, a rather nasty looking ghost was forming; a demented grin on its moldy face.  “Hey ‘mom’, good ta finally meetcha,” the thing chirped placing a grubby hand on her child’s shoulder. That was when all Hell broke loose.

    Thankfully, the very poltergeist she was thinking about was shaking her out of her unpleasant daydream; acid green eyes meeting her maroon ones.  “Ya okay babes,” rasped a concerned inquiry.

    “Just thinking about things that are far off in the future,” sighed out of her as she leaned into his room temperature body.

    Wrapping a striped arm around her shoulders, he held her close while pressing a kiss to her forehead.  Maybe now would be a good time to provide a distraction. So, getting to his feet, he offered her a hand with a wide grin.  “Come on, got someone I want to introduce you to. Should help you take your mind off things,” purred his mid-tone as she took his offered appendage and got to her feet without hesitation.  It was at that moment that it was cemented in his mind just how much she trusted him. Not even Lydia had trusted him so unconditionally, the very thought making his dormant heart clench in his chest.

    Maintaining his smile, he led her through the house and to the garage.  Taking a moment to flick on a light, he motioned her to wait at the door before moving deeper into the cobweb filled room.  In fact, he was heading right for an ancient, bright green roadster. A car that seemed to be stirring ever so slightly, its headlights opening to reveal drowsy looking eyes.  “Hey Doomie. Been a long time since I came out to check on ya. Look, I need to introduce ya to someone,” he began cautiously, getting an angry sounding engine rev in response.  To her shock, Ellie could almost understand it as language.

    “I know you don’t like the idea but Lydia won’t be coming around anymore.  You’re gonna have to get used to the idea that I will have to move on at some point,” Betelgeuse tried to reason, only get a series of honks and engine revs in reply.

    “I know she won’t replace Lyds as your mom.  All I’m asking is you don’t try to hurt her,” the bio-exorcist placated while the roadster’s rear lights flared to life, flooding the garage with an eerie, red light.

    A series of growling revs came from the vehicle while her lover began to back away from it slowly.  “Uh, I think we should get out of here now babes. Doomie doesn’t seem in the mood for visitors,” Betelgeuse whispered, trying to usher his breather back into the safety of the Roadhouse.  Instead of allowing it, Ellie pulled free to approach the angry mode of transportation. Despite her fear, the sorrow she had heard in the car’s vocalization tugged at her heart. Besides, the last thing she wanted was to leave something sentient to rot in the dark just because it didn’t like her.

    Ignoring the pleas of her lover, she swallowed her fear and stopped in front of the rather old fashioned car.  Lifting the parts of its bumper that were its lips so it could bare its teeth, Doomie let loose a loud roar of its engine that sounded like a low growl.  “Easy. I don’t want to hurt you or come between you and Lydia. In fact, she’s going to be accepting me into her college. All I want is to be your friend so you can be allowed out of this gloomy place,” she assured, not so much as budging an inch when it spun its wheels while staying in place.

    “Ellie!  Get out of there!” Betelgeuse exclaimed, fear thick in his voice as he juiced right behind her; attempting to yank her away.

    “Not yet B.  If he wanted to hurt me, he would have simply run me over.  I think he’s just scared and hurt. Just let me try to talk him down a bit.  Make him understand I mean him no harm,” Ellie requested, getting a dubious nod from the ghoul behind her.

    Meanwhile, Doomie was still glaring; rough snarls guttering from its engine.  Yet, under all the fury, there was a small bit of fear as well as hope. That maybe, just maybe, this person wouldn’t reject him like everyone else would.  That she wouldn’t be afraid of him. That she could be trusted with the more wild part of him. Despite appearing aggressive, he had been very lonely and heartbroken when Lydia had stopped coming.  In fact, he had despaired in the idea he would never find another person like her. Someone that would be by his side no matter what. So, when she came towards him slowly, placing a hand on his hood; he closed his eyes and shut off his engine.  It had been so very long since anyone had pet him, even Beetlejuice.

    Smiling, Ellie gently ran her hand over the surprisingly warm metal.  “See? I don’t want to hurt you or Betelgeuse. Think we can try to be friends?  Never met a living car before,” whispered a question while Doomie began to purr. After a few moments, there was a quiet, almost hesitant beep of acquiescence; both doors on his sides popping open on their own.

    “I think he wants to take us for a ride,” rumbled in her ear, hands tightening on both shoulders.

    A bit surprised, Ellie made to approach the passenger side of Doomie; only to have her lover hold her back.  Looking back at him with a raised brow, she was taken aback when she saw very genuine concern on his pale, perpetually rotting visage.  “I don’t think its a good idea. He may look safe and docile but he has a bit of a... wild side to him,” husked a warning before she was yanking herself free.

    “Right now, its crucial to show I trust him.  You can stay here if you want but I’m going with Doomie whether you like it or not,” snarled an ultimatum before the living female was hopping into the passenger seat.

    The door snicked shut behind her, seatbelts snaking around the woman’s body gently to keep her safe.  Patting the leather seat, both the would-be college student and the car looked up at a certain poltergeist with big, sad puppy eyes.  Heaving a sigh, he gave his vehicular son the hairy eyeball before slipping into the driver’s seat. “Alright, just take it easy. No funny business,” grumbled a reluctant caveat, earning an earnest beep in response while the garage door began to open.  Then they were heading off into the eternal sunset outside, Doomie’s rear light seeming to glow with elation.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ten Minutes Later~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Leaning back in the seat while watching the twisted, ghoulish world pass by, Eleanor Craftian began to wonder what her partner had been so worried about.  So far, it had been a pleasant ride. Not other traffic, not sounds from the radio. Just the sound of the roadster’s engine and the feeling of her lover beside her.  Breathing in the crisp, almost fall like air, she turned her head to give Betelgeuse a tired smile. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to be sharing the enjoyment of the experience.  In fact, he still seemed to be very tense.

    His burning eyes were focused on the road ahead like a laser sight, making it seem like he was waiting for some disaster to happen.  Just as she was about to ask what he was so concerned about, The Thing’s dog came trotting out into the road ahead of them. All of a sudden, Doomie came to a screeching halt; his entire frame shuddering.  “Easy buddy. Its just Poopsie. Try to keep in mind you have a new person riding in you,” hissed a tight assurance while the vehicle let out strained sound revs.

    In a split second, one of the rear fins became covered in a thick, maroon colored fur.  This was rapidly followed by the rest of the rear, the fur quickly crawling up the sides of the car.  Eyes wide while her heart began to thud, Ellie clung to Betelgeuse while Doomie’s engine made more and more aggressive sounds.  “Fuck, I was afraid this would happen. Just hang on tight and try to stay calm. This is gonna be one Hell of a ride,” hissed from her left while a protective arm wound around her.

    “What’s happening?  Why did he start changing when he saw Poopsie?” whispered out of her while Doomie continued to transform around them.

    “That has a lot to do with how he was made and why he happens to be sentient.  We used an abnormal carburetor and ever since then he’s had a Jekyll and Hyde moment with dogs.  Kinda ironic when you think about it, a car that chases dogs,” rasped a response as the change completed.

    Once finished, Doomie no longer resembled the roadster he was.  His front wheels were now black arms with claw tipped hands, his eyes were wild and he was covered head to foot in maroon fur.  Letting out a rev that sounded like a demented chuckle, the bipolar vehicle spun its rear wheels before speed toward the frozen, shaking dog.  Eyes widening, Eleanor prayed to whatever God was watching that she wouldn’t see some animal get run over by a malicious, sentient car. Thankfully, Poopsie began running for all he was worth, making a bee-line for his home; Doomie right on his tail.

    Zig-zagging like he was being chased like a predator, the poor canine sped under the porch; his terrified cries drawing his hairy owner out of his western style abode.  Spitting out his ever present toothpick, The Thing lifted his upper lip before raising an oversized shotgun. Pumping the forestock, he fired a shot into the air; the thunderous boom freezing the charging frankencar in its tracks.  Instantaneously, Doomie was back to normal; whimpering while he reversed. “Yeah, that’s right, go on back to yer house and leave mah gol dern dog ‘lone,” spat the creature’s thick, Texan accent.

    Turning tail, the roadster sped off down the road; not slowing down until they were several miles away.  Panting while rolling to a stop, the living mode of transportation gave a tiny beep of apology as Ellie tried to process what had just happened.  “I-its okay Doomie. I don’t think you can help it,” she stammered, giving the door on the passenger side a cautious pat. Betelgeuse, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as forgiving.  Unbuckling his seatbelt, he got out to slam the door and stomp over to the hood.

    “WHAT!  THE! FUCK!!,” blasted out of him before he was punching the roadster’s domed hood.

    “Didn’t I tell you to be careful!  To stay in control?! Ya gotta learn to contain those beastly urges!  You could have injured or killed Ellie!” the ghoul continued, green eyes spitting fire while the vehicle cowered and shook.

    Frowning slightly, Eleanor Craftian unhooked her own seatbelt before getting out of the passenger side.  Gathering what courage she had left, she stomped toward her partner and placed a firm hand on his left upper arm.  “B! Stop! He meant no harm!” she reasoned, bracing herself for the probability his wrath would be turned on her. So, when he spun on his heel to glower at her, she subconsciously flinched.  Wincing at her reaction, the bio-exorcist pulled away from her to take a few steps back and run a shaking hand through his wild, blonde hair.

    “I know but... if anything ever happened to you, I don’t know what I would do.  You’re... the only person I have ever felt this strongly for,” husked a confession that shook the young woman to her very core.

    Staring at the ghoul, her mind tried to wrap itself around what had just been said.  This was the closest he had come to a love confession in all the time she had known him and she really had no clue how to react.  Eyes filling with tears, she rushed forward; nearly tackling him with an enthusiastic hug. “I feel the same way. You’re more than a friend or a lover.  You’re the man I want to spend the rest of my life with,” whispered out of her while tears rolled down her milk white cheeks. Wrapping his arms around the shaking female, Betelgeuse could only smile; temporarily forgetting about Doomie’s presence.

    “I know babes.  Why don’t we go back to the Roadhouse to... ‘discuss’ this more?” purred in her ear as the car they were in front of opened its doors obligingly.

    “Somehow, I don’t think there will be all that much conversation,” chuckled a teasing response while they split apart to eye the mode of transportation cautiously.

    As much as Ellie appeared to want to trust the green roadster, the poltergeist standing next to the driver’s side had some very justified hesitations.  Looking up at the two humans, the car grimaced and scuffed his front tires in embarrassment. Letting out a rev that sounded soft and submissive, he sunk lower to the ground to show how ashamed he was.  “Alright... one last chance. But ya gotta work on this psychotic reaction to dogs you have. One of these days, its gonna get you in a shit ton of trouble,” sighed Betelgeuse as he took a seat. Letting out a solemn honk that sounded like a promise, Doomie waited until his passengers were seated before turning around and heading back home.