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An Inconvenient Marriage

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Lydia’s P.O.V.

Should she?

No. Absolutely not. Never in a hundred million years. At least, that’s what Mr. and Mrs. Maitland would say if she were to ask their opinions.

Could she?

That was yet to be seen. Sweat from anxiety for what she was about to do beaded in her palms and so she wiped the damp limbs off on her dress before splaying them flat on the cool cherry wood of her vanity’s surface. Her reflection looked braver than she felt; brows set in a stubborn line, eyes hard and alert with resolve.

Would she?

Oh, yes. That much was certain. “Betelgeuse… Betelgeuse… Betelgeuse .”


Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The Maitlands. Who asked them anyway?! About anything?! Oh right, King Shit and his Shitty Idea Brigade, that’s who. “Look nice and stupid” did they? Right. Good. Fucking great, Betelgeuse. You were so close….

It had been a number of years in that waiting room by the ghoul’s measure. Though, its honestly hard to measure at all in that place - and if the Witch Doctor hadn’t been called before him his head would probably be the size of a softball still. Fortunately a good shaking out helped. It could have been a good look right? That hurt, by the way, even though it made his shoulders massive…er, well, to him anyway. Juno’s sentence had been deliberate and decisive - house arrest. For way longer than was fair, too. Three hundred years in a crypt?! Fuck that. But here he was, sent to his room, sulking. Stewing. He’d already cut out the newspaper obit of the Maitlands and crossed their eyes out, and drawn shitty pictures of the Deetz’s getting theirs in various fashion.

Except for Lydia. That made him the angriest - the most infuriated he had ever felt in his un-life. For days and nights, he paced the floor. Sometimes there’d be two of him. Sometimes he’d argue with the insects he scraped from the floor before biting their little heads off.

“She didn’t even like you,” would come the well-trod self-argument.

“Well maybe if you cleaned up a little nicer she would have.”

“No, idiot. If we had been faster … we should have sent those losers to … to… Saturn was a fuckin’ vacation. We should have let them be exorcized–

“Okay, no one could have predicted the wife on a sandworm.” And then he’d slump in a chair, in his velvet bathrobe, and growl.

That girl, that girl, that girl. As was his custom when thinking hard, he lit a cigarette and tapped the old moldering armchair beneath him. He can’t even find work, barred from contacting the newly deceased. Or anyone, in fact. The term ‘restless dead’ found a new meaning in the ghosts’ heart. Some nights he’d curse for hours and beat on his ceiling, the ceiling of his crypt. It was misery, it was hell. But most of all, it was ….. lonely. But who did he need? Nobody, that’s who!

He was in the middle of having a good scream session, sitting on his lavish and yet disintegrating coffin bed, clutching his ‘Guide’ hat to his head, right at the heart of a good rant at Juno and the unfair universe, “—AND LET ME OUUUUTTA HEEEEEERE!!!” in a whirling, pitched shriek, when he was yanked…no, torn from his oubliette. Someone…

Someone had said his name.

Someone had said his name three times.

And with that he found himself thrown directly from his imprisonment into Lydia’s bedroom like a straight shot. He came from seemingly nowhere…maybe the mirror? Maybe simply the ceiling? But he came at great velocity, slamming straight downwards from that location, tumbling like a great mountain of crypt-dusty clothes and smoke from his somehow still-lit cigarette. It took the ghost a number of seconds to collect himself onto his butt.

“Woah,” he said quite seriously, holding his hands out, his back still towards the girl. His nose twitched, and his face wrinkled. This place… smelled familiar. Really familiar. His lips curled to expose his stained teeth in a suspicious frown.

Slowly, the shock of greenish, moldy blond hair turned and caught sight of a face he thought he’d never see again. The grin that split his face was unmistakable, impish and gloatingly glorious - without missing a beat he offered, “Babe - ya miss me or what?”

Lydia’s P.O.V

As soon as the soft hiss of the last syllable of his name evaporated into the air, energy crackled through the atmosphere. The hair on the back on her neck stood on end and her spine hardened. Then, her vanity began to tremble. Her hairbrush and a bottle of perfume rattled over the wood until they could clatter to the floor. Clouds of black ink swirled across the mirror’s surface, drowning out her reflection. It was time to move. Struck with a sense of deja vu, she scrambled out of the way in the nick of time, just as a heap of mold and stripes catapulted through her looking glass.

His entrance was not nearly as grand or intimidating as the last time she saw him, but Lydia was daunted all the same. Nearly two years had passed and yet he was untouched by time. She had no place being surprised by this, she knew, but that did nothing to lessen the surreal nature of the situation. Finally, jade eyes turned on her. They were just as wild and burning as she remembered them- and thankfully lacked the bite of malice she was expecting. When that horribly charming grin revealed his teeth and his whiskey-stained greeting scratched at her ears, her mind went blank. The speech she’d been mentally and vocally rehearsing for weeks fled, leaving her with nothing but blunt honesty and the gut impulse to tell him that;

“I didn’t think you’d come.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

At that, up he goes! Quick, in a swift movement, he pops up from his indignant spot on the floor smoothly. His head ducks and those jade eyes flash…dangerously? It’s unclear - the distance between Lydia and himself is closed almost instantaneously as he crosses the room, immediately invading her space. His intentions are less than clear and his movement is without hesitation, which would generally make almost anyone uncomfortable. Closing in, he doesn’t smell…..good. And it isn’t as though he’s gotten any prettier, though he absolutely remains physically the same.

Those eyes burn holes into Lydia the closer he gets, and his expression, smiling, fierce, overly friendly, twisting into almost a grimace now. It definitely indicates he’s the same ghoul that he always was, something malicious always churning beneath the surface, but it seems …. tempered, at least, by the fact that, unbeknownst to her, she literally just rescued him from three hundred years of agonizing entrapment.

He hesitates there, almost…almost touching her. He looms, leans in. Of course, it isn’t like he hasn’t dreamt of her. Thought of her. Cursed her name. But being back here in her actual presence is enough to keep him from misbehaving momentarily. “We had a deal,” he says, slowly, his breath ghosting the poor girl’s cheek, one brow twisting up, “Change your mind…?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Each of his forward steps was met with a proportionate step back until, inevitably, she was crowded against the wall in the corner of the room. The acrid scent of burning tobacco itched at her nostrils, followed by an undercurrent of grave dirt and something unmistakably damp. From this close distance, she could make out the fine details of the moss that kissed his gums.

You can do this, she resolved, standing a bit straighter and willing her knees not to buckle beneath her nightgown. You have to. It’s the right thing to do.

“We did,” she agreed, voice soft, incapable of tearing her gaze from his. They had yet to unlock since meeting. There was something dark there, twisted and aching to get out. Would he unleash it on her? She certainly deserved it. “And I fucked you over. And it was wrong .”

The last word wavered on her tongue and she finally found the motivation needed to avert her eyes, clenching them shut before reopening and settling on the tie knot below his Adam’s apple. It was taking everything she had to stamp down the instinct to run, to duck beneath his arm and put distance between them. He needed to know that she wasn’t going to fight him.

“So… I guess the answer to that question is… yes.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The looming spirit could tear this house to pieces. He could ruin the lives of this poor girl’s parents and banish the Maitlands off to some nowhere where only nightmares remained. His possibilities were endless now, and they clamored and cluttered his brain as Lydia opened her mouth to speak. Oh, he was angry all right, but something about her stopped him. Something about this girl, this stupid, beautiful little girl, left him yearning to understand. Why? – it was a question he had asked her and it almost set him off track once. He wouldn’t let it happen again.

He stopped there, listening to her, his face still frozen in a questioning frown. Listening to her apologize . Wait —- apologize – yes. And, after all that, she confirms that she is still willing. Oh, this is too much. The ghost’s face crumples in a frustrated anger, and he pops the cigarette between his fingers into his pallid lips and takes a long hard drag.

“Fucking…… teenagers ,” he spits over her shoulder, pulling himself back from where he’s crowded her. He then walks back on his curse immediately, whirling his back to her, gesticulating as he paces away for a moment. “Okay, okay,” he seems to be trying to get a hold on how to make this situation work for him – in genuine disbelief, and he stomps over to her bed, walking directly onto it, his dirty black boots leaving muddy dark prints all over her nice comforter. It makes her bedsprings groan under his weight. “You’re serious?”

He doesn’t wait for an answer and pushes forward as he’s accustomed to doing – running over people until they do what he wants or at least until he can talk them into it.

“Why—“ he starts, and then stops, “Babes,” he holds out his hands, inquiringly, “Why didn’t you ask earlier? Do you have any idea—” he pauses, putting his fingers to his lips as if steeling patience within himself before finishing his thought. He flicks the cigarette off onto the floor beneath him and takes a hard jump off her mattress, making the springs nearly scream as he lands with a solid, well-positioned thud onto her floor. He looks like he’s about to close that distance again to wherever she’s moved. “What the hell happened then? Huh?! Where were you?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia stood frozen in the corner all throughout his tantrum, spine plastered to the wall vertebrae by vertebrae, spiced honey eyes widening a fraction with each abrupt movement. She cringed at the tracks he left on her comforter but shelved the petty mess away to be dealt with another time. It was entirely too soon to start nagging him. The ghoul moved so quickly and his line of questioning veered paths so rapidly that Lydia could hardly make heads or tails of exactly what he was asking her.

Suddenly, he made a daring leap from her mattress to the floor, a guttural sound tearing from his throat. Lydia spared a moment to glance at the door, concerned that the ruckus might attract unwanted attention. As it was, Mr. and Mrs. Maitland were running an errand in the Neitherworld and hadn’t been seen for several weeks, Delia was dosed up on valium, and her father was passed out drunk at his desk. No one would interrupt them tonight.

“What the hell happened then? Huh?! Where were you?


He wanted to know what took her so long to nut up.

“Where were you ?” She bit back with a suicidal acidity, experiencing a stab of indignation she knew she didn’t have any right to feel. It was quickly tampered with a single deep breath. “I didn’t. Think. You would come.” She repeated slowly with careful, even pauses. “I thought… I thought that I was calling for someone who wasn’t there anymore.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It doesn’t seem as though the poltergeist is particularly concerned with who he wakes up – but his eyes track hers to the door in a brief flicker before returning to her face. At her response, he squints, and blinks. His lips pull into a strange grimace.

“Where was—- oh, I’m sorry,” he drawls facetiously, drawing himself up, “I thought you were there - are you blind? You didn’t see me get eaten by a sandworm?! Thanks for the fuckin’ help with that by the way, those things are like a thousand feet long and it takes two months to go through ‘em – and let me tell you, it isn’t pleasant , they try and digest you from the head first,” the ghost yanks on his jacket in irritation.

“And then, and then, miss Lydia, Lydia Deetz, my darling, little Lydia Deetz,” his lips pulled into a snarl, “After I survived that I had to talk to my caseworker and that took three years. So I was a little…. just a little… .TIED….UP!!” the last comes as a roar, accompanied by flailing, frustrated arms. The ghost doesn’t mention the resulting house arrest …. no need to give away more than he needs to. He then gestures dismissively, “You’ve read the handbook. The only way for a ghost to die is by being exorcized. If you say my name three times I show up. That’s how this works.” His fingers spread, “Now you know.” The fierce grin that follows isn’t ….nice, per say, but at least it seems he’s calming down. Sort of.

“And I’m here now,” he adds, lighting another cigarette casually, “And I’d say we should finish what we started, but ah—“ he looks around, and gestures to the room containing only them, “—-no witnesses.” His grin is almost… mean? The last is said dripping with huffy bitterness. If he’s noticed her weird, slow, trembling tone he hasn’t reacted quite yet, instead, he throws himself into a chair nearby and glowers at Lydia, studying her. His eyes have still not peeled away from her face. After a long note of silence, he finally asks, in a voice resembling the one that asked her why she wanted to be dead so long ago, “So, what’s the real reason I’m here, babes?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia shrunk further into her corner the angrier he grew, willing the wall at her back to just swallow her whole. It was deserved. He was right. She didn’t have any right to have hurt feelings over his extended absence, especially when she wasn’t even able to summon the courage to attempt reaching out to him until tonight, until now.

The nightmare that woke her had been particularly vivid. In this one, he held her close instead of pushing her away when the sandworm came crashing through the ceiling. “If I’m goin’ down, you’re goin’ down with me,” the apparition drawled in her ear right before a striped serpent careening toward them, row after row of jagged unsightly teeth ready to be coated with her blood. His explicit testimonial of being eaten alive- so to speak- by one of these vicious beasts brought the still fresh images from her night terror to the forefront of her mind.

She did that to him.

There were several moments during his fit where she opened her mouth, yet another apology aching to tumble from her trembling lips and put an end to his furious rant, but there was no room. He either wasn’t ready or didn’t want to hear it. Once he finally settled into her reading chair in the opposite corner, the mental restraints that kept her chained in place dissipated. Without his animated form flitting from one side of the room to the other, invading the entire space, it was deemed safe to retreat from her crevice.

“So, what’s the real reason I’m here, babes?”

“Because I’m stupid ,” she hissed without even the slightest hint of malice, turning her back on him to crouch beside her vanity and collect the items that fell to the floor during his abrupt entrance. With shaking hands, she put them back into place, honey eyes settling on the spot in her mirror where she knew he would be had he a reflection of his own- maintaining eye contact without having to actually be subjected to his judgemental glare.

“This was a bad idea,” she muttered, bowing her head so that a curtain of inky black could hide her face from view. He would never give her the atonement she needed. “I shouldn’t have called you- no ,” she corrected herself harshly. “I should have called you a long time ago. I should have kept my word. I shouldn’t have left you to rot-” this word dripped with self-loathing. Tears pricked the back of her eyelids, but she refused to let them fall. Not now, not in front of him. She probably looked weak enough, with her stuttered words and trembling limbs. Tear stains running down her cheeks would only be the cherry on top of that humiliation sundae.

“I’m sorry,” she concluded simply, defeated, well aware that it was not enough. “If you still want my help getting out, it’s yours. If you don’t, that’s fine too.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t had his own nightmares. Ghosts aren’t really supposed to dream; or so it’s said. But his in the past few years, when they’ve come, they’ve come vivid and terrifying. Nothing scares the spookster easily – least of all silly dreams – but these….these have been different. Intense and leaving him in the equivalent of a cold sweat, they’ve only added to the blackness of his house arrest. If he could have seen Lydia’s dreams, they would have most likely left him similarly frightened…but perhaps for different reasons.

At the moment though, the way she says what she says is terrifying enough. It slices a cold, steely blade through his blackened heart like a knife through butter without pause. She isn’t lying to him. She isn’t trying to trick him. In fact, she’s stuck to her story the entire time he’s stomped all over her bedroom. The clamoring noise for fire and death and revenge in his mind shatter. She’s genuine. She’s really…completely genuine…. “Oh…. geez ,” he yelps - the realization hits him like a freight train. Faster than a hungry sandworm. You stupid, stupid….stupid….stupid….

He’s up in an instant, again, his hands stretched out, doing that awkward side-to-side quick walk like he’s trying to avoid stepping on snakes all over the floor. “No, no—no—-“ he croons, acknowledging his ridiculous mistake in the repetitive word, waving his arms in front of his face. His hands find placement on her crumpled shoulders, his grip is firm, insistent. It lifts her to him slightly without asking because he never does. Maybe there was an actual part of him that genuinely thought….well it was just a scheme wasn’t it? He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with her. And she wasn’t supposed to fall in love with him – it was just to achieve the end goal . But something went wrong. Something went so….sideways.

“We can still—“ he hesitates, “I still need your help, yes. Getting out,” it’s a sort of weird admittance, and he hastily almost mumbles it, “But babes…you…I’m sorry I got angry. I was waiting for a long time, and I just got—I got—I don’t do well in confined spaces— look it isn’t your fault, it’s…. it's my fault, okay? I should have written, or called, or something—“ he’s rambling now, knowing full well he couldn’t have done any of those things whatsoever. His facial expression goes from placating to scrunched to furrowed, and for the first time he actually looks at her, really takes a good, searching look now that she’s been almost pressed to his face. He blinks a few times as if seeing her for the vulnerable little girl she really is – and realization dawns on his face. “Babes….are you….okay?”

He intones it wrong, of course, like she maybe has something on her face…but he means it.

Did the Maitlands do something to her? Something dark twists deep in his chest at the idea of it. They’re too stupid, right?

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia was still reeling from his rapid change of tune when he hit her with the unexpected inquiry as to her wellbeing. No , she had the insane impulse to say. I’m really, really not okay.

“I’m fine,” she answered instead, numb and dry, giving her first lie of the night. His large, filthy hands easily spanned the length of both her shoulders, their fingertips digging into the muscle there uncomfortably but without intent to cause pain. At this proximity, his superior height forced her to crane her neck back to keep eye contact. Uneasy with such close male contact- nevermind who the male in question was- Lydia squirmed, but did not make any attempts at escape for fear he might misinterpret them and descend into another furious tirade. His unpredictable disposition called for a cautious approach.

“Haven’t been sleeping well,” she conceded after another beat, sensing that her previous lie was not satisfying, and threw a brief glance at her disheveled bedclothes. They were already twisted about and out of order before he stomped all over them. An alarm clock on the nightstand glared the time back at her; 4:00 a.m. School started in three hours. It appeared tonight would not be the night she got her much needed rest.

“You’re really not mad at me?” She needed to hear it again, needed the confirmation that everything really was okay. “I didn’t mean to,” she explained vaguely, avoiding eye contact again. “I didn’t understand. I thought- I thought you meant later . That you would come back when I was older or- or- have me sign a marriage license or something. Everything happened too fast and I panicked.”

Given the opportunity to speak uninterrupted, it was the girl’s turn to ramble on awkwardly, desperate to smooth out any residual negativity. The rabid fury that minutes before had radiated off of him in waves still stagnated the air, choking the deeply empathetic Lydia.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghost continued to inspect her, expression one of obvious doubt – his eyes roving as if to scry the source of this strange behavior. Betelgeuse was always one to sort of take things at face value; the idea of him being emotionally in tune with anyone else on its face was ridiculous. But here he stood, trying to figure out the girl who wasn’t flinching or tensing under his demanding grip. If he can unlock this weird teenager puzzle he might indeed be able to complete this deal, this marriage of inconvenience – and being dead will no longer trouble him. He’ll have fully exited the unfair, stratified, rules-based system that has tortured him for millennia.  If he plays his cards right…. But what cards are those, exactly? Expressing feelings? The thought made his stomach churn. Gross .

He listens as she only part-way describes what is going on with her, his mind unable to stay in one state for too long, drifting to more carnal thoughts briefly as he held her. She smelled good. She smelled alive and breathing, and he was free . But he had to stay focused. Focused, focused—he swallows, audibly.

“Well, I mean,” he mutters, trying to come back from that overwhelming temptation to indulge. Patience is not one of his fortitudes, either, “No need to delay a deal when it seemed so—“ close, “—convenient, we had our witnesses, we had the outfits, I had the ring—“ where did that ring go? “You were there, I was there,” he chuckles brusquely, “I said I was only gonna do it once babe. Once and only once, with you.” That last part was true. What other young, nubile, teenage girl with pale, soft skin would—FOCUS.

“I’m not …I’m not—“ angry? Talking about feelings is … not his thing. “No, no. Look, you had some bad dreams and so you….you called me—“ Fucking teenagers , “Why wait till you were older?” there goes that weird, breathy chuckle again, “You can handle this now, I’m the world’s most eligible bachelor babes, I get to look this good forever. We can find some witnesses. We can still do this, together— I didn’t mean to get so angry, it’s just been a … but that doesn’t matter—“ The plan could still work. His freedom is so close, if only he doesn’t blow it—- “You got cold feet, everyone gets cold—cold feet, you know, that’s why I answered for you during the vows, remember, babes?” Come on…..

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia, inexperienced and unaccustomed to attracting male attention, was unable to recognize the signs and therefore remained entirely oblivious to the poltergeist’s internal struggle.

“I remember,” she answered, lips twitching with something that might have been a smile if one were to tilt their head and squint.  "You won’t have to do that again… but-“ Placated by his reassurances, she smoothly slipped from his grasp and crossed to the edge of her mattress to begin collecting besmirched sheets and blankets. “I’d really prefer if we could find some witnesses that aren’t Adam, Barb, or my parents.”

It was painfully embarrassing how easily he had seen through her ambiguous admission. Shit, he probably knew damn good and well that the nightmares were about him. After tossing the bundle of fabric into the corner and disposing of the stray cigarette butt he left on the floor earlier, Lydia gave her room another cursory once-over, searching for any further evidence of his presence. It wouldn’t do for either her living or deceased parental units to discover her treason. They would never understand. Everything would just go to shit again.

The heavy curtains that dressed her window were drawn back to reveal that the sky was a rich royal blue, signifying the sun would be rising soon. She pulled the glass halfway up the pane and lit a stick of dragonblood incense. Hopefully, this would cover up the cigarette smell. Her father and Delia were not prone to snooping, but she wasn’t about to take any chances.

“I have to go to school soon,” she offered, gazing out to the horizon. “Not for a couple hours, but…” She trailed off, unsure where this left them. Did he want to do this now? Like last time? She didn’t, but also didn’t consider herself in a position to be the one setting terms. Not with her history of betrayal.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As she pulls back he easily releases her as she confirms acquiescence to saying her vows this time. The ghost still has his suspicions but it seems as though she is actually…really going to go through with it. He watches her move around the room in her nightgown and wipes a hand down his face, running it through his hair afterward. He’s never really stopped from pursuing women physically, even those not exactly consenting to his advances, but in this instance, he must . Maybe. For now. Maybe. As she leans over to pick up the cigarette butt he leans full back though, trying to get a sneak peek of those legs and … more. She’s so fresh . He’s been so pent up. He swallows again and internally curses every deity he can remember, trying not to growl aloud. He’s not sure if he’s successful.

He is distracted from his lusty reverie by three names: Deetz’s, Barb, and Adam. His attention snaps-to and makes a face as though he’s sucked on a lemon, crouching instinctively, eyes flicking at the ceiling suspiciously.

“No no no no no, we don’t want any of those losers at the …the wedding…” no, none of them would be there. His plans wouldn’t be interrupted again. “Where ah—where do they happen to be at the current time, exactly?” that’s a question he probably should have asked earlier. In his one track tirade, he hadn’t been paying attention to his surroundings very well. Stupid.

Reflexively, after she lights the incense he wanders by and pinches it out, putting out his second cigarette in the incense tray. It isn’t malicious as much as it is simply selfish and rude – he demonstrates these elements in his personality in so many ways just by being himself . He parks himself on the end of her bed, hiking up a knee, and flinches as she opens the curtains. Daylight was coming. How long has it been since he’s seen it? He looks pale in the growing sunlight and wrong – almost bloated, washed out, the mold growing on his face an even sicklier green color.

“School?” the ghost repeats, dumbly. He jerks in realization, “Oh, right, right. You kids do that. Okay, uh,” he snaps his fingers a few times trying to jog his brain into focusing again after being distracted by the daylight. He points at her, “Witnesses. I’ll … go find witnesses. You know, once you ….” He circles his hand around, letting the motion finish his thought. Fear suddenly crosses his face after a moment and Lydia finds herself with her hands clasped in his in a gentle, but firm and slightly desperate grip in grubby, pallid hands. He moves so quickly to her it is probably a bit of a shock. “Just—just….don’t. Don’t go anywhere okay? Don’t say the B-word, don’t tell….you know, don’t tell them , okay? It won’t take me long.” Time equates to possibilities of all kinds messing up his plans. “I’ll be gone for like, just a few hours, babes, I just gotta find us some witnesses, you know, do it the right way. You still have the ring right?” he gulps, hopefully. He genuinely isn’t sure if he can find another one.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia sighed airily, relit the incense right after he put it out, and shot a frown at his back. That was unnecessary.

“Delia will be dead to the world until around noon, and my father will probably trudge out of his study once she starts hacking away at some poor, defenseless hunk of marble.” She paused before explaining away the Maitlands’ absence, pondering how best to answer without giving away too much. “I’m not sure when Adam and Barb will be back. They’ve been in the Neitherworld for a few weeks.”

There was something melancholic in her voice while she relaid this. Lydia both dreaded and yearned for their reappearance and the news they would bring with them. The waiting was torture.

Suddenly, he was invading her personal space again, grabbing hold of her hands- gently, she noticed, a heat she didn’t quite understand settling in her belly. “I won’t,” she promised, eyes big, taken aback by the sheer desperation in his pleas. “But if you don’t want them to suspect that you’re here, you’ll have to do something about the cigarette butts. And don’t put out my incense,” she chastised lightly, brows furrowing while a put-out frown pouted her bottom lip.

“You still have the ring, right?”

For the first time ever, she smiled directly at him. Not a teeth-baring grin, but a warm, easy smile that highlighted the way the sunrise made her honey eyes gleam gold. Without a word, she slipped her hands from his, turned to her vanity, and pulled open the bottom left drawer.

“Of course I still have it,” she answered, as though the possibility of it being anywhere else was laughable to her. “A ghost gave it to me. The ghost.” For fear of augmenting his already overly inflated ego, she refrained from voicing the rest of his self-proclaimed title aloud. “You can’t buy that in stores.”

With that, she held a simple silver band up for him to see, before slipping it onto the ring finger on her left hand and splaying the digits wide appraisingly. This was a thoughtless, automatic gesture, repeated countless times before. There was a sort of fondness in her gaze as the band caught a sunray, showcasing how very polished it was.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Good. That crosses off the problems on his list. The problems on his list primarily comprise of “Barb, Adam, and the Deetz’s”. Internally, he checks those off. It still leaves open the possibility that the Maitlands will return at any time, but if he’s quick and sneaky enough they won’t have the chance to stop him like last time. Plus, he has other ideas to keep them away…just in case. If Barbara hadn’t found that sandworm, he would have been golden . But fortunately, it seems Lydia has changed her mind about the entire idea and is willing to literally seal the deal. For that, he is her lapdog as of current.

Something nags in his brain. She doesn’t call her mother by that title. Instead, she’s Delia – while he witnessed their weird relationship while he had free reign of the house, this cemented his suspicions that the red-head was most likely not Lydia’s biological parent. That doesn’t cover Charles, that doughy putz, but he was probably the progenitor in this instance. While he doesn’t vocalize this quite yet, it is something for him to chew on in the background.

In the forefront though, the girl fusses at him about something to do with behavior and cigarette butts. The ghost doesn’t do rules, but in this instance, as mentioned, he is at her behest. So, in an appeasing tone, he hurries out a, “Sure, sure.” – with a snap, the cigarette butts are gone and with a flick of his wrist the smell in the room is entirely incense, no odiferous leftovers to be had.

And she still has the ring.

This gives the ghost a startle, in fact. The impact that she still has it is far deeper than he could have expected – and cements the idea that she is one hundred percent for real. She fetches it, compliments his ego (close enough to the self-proclaimed title for him, the jerk) and displays it on her slim and graceful fingers. It’s been polished. She’s smiling. It’s too good. Oh, it's far too good. His heart leaps into his throat, and in an instant, he’s on her.

Whether or not she puts up resistance is apparently irrelevant, but he barks out an over-enthusiastic and probably overly-loud, choked, “Babes!!!” as his moss encrusted lips descend upon hers for a wet, overly emotional smack. Whether or not he actually gets to is also not apparently important – the gesture was one of emotional overwhelm. He’s all hers. He’s pudding in her small hands. She’s going to save him. He’s going to be completely, utterly free and untethered.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

It was over before Lydia could even begin process what was happening. She only knew that his lips were rough and chapped because of the way her mouth tingled afterward, as though the flesh had just brushed concrete, still somewhat moist from his saliva .

“Why did you do that?!” She gasped, slapping a hand over her mouth, scrambling back in horror and knocking items from her vanity’s surface all over again in the process. “You can’t- you can’t just do things like that!”

Her heart hammered so furiously against her chest she was sure the ghost before her could hear it if he tried. Her cheeks burned and the fingers that blinded her lips, one of which was adorned with a shining silver band, trembled. A crushing sort of panic began to creep in as the loss fully dawned on her. That was her first kiss and now it was gone before she could even truly appreciate it. Her breaths came in sharper as the room seemed to shrink.

It was entirely too crowded in here. She needed air. She needed to be alone .

“I- I- I need to get ready for school.” Not a complete truth. She still had plenty of time to sit and discuss things further if she wanted to, but he didn’t need to know this. “You should go. Find witnesses, right? It’s not like they grow on trees, so yeah, you should probably start looking now.”

The suggestion- part command, part plea- came out jerky, borderline shrill.

“I’ll meet you back here around 3:30, okay?” She finished, hoping that this would obliterate the optional nature of her request.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He doesn’t say it aloud, even though he could: he can, and he did “just do that”. She just gave…no, the first kiss she ever had was taken by a corpse-like ghoul many years her senior. The only thing he can offer her is that classic Betelgeuse, awful, gleeful high pitched laugh  – that he can’t help.

“There’s more where that came from, honey.”

Grossing the living out is fun no matter what, even though at this point he’d do anything for this girl just to get her back in wedding clothes. He also couldn’t help but notice her lips were delicious, warm, and soft – something his own desperately lacked in all measure, and almost every part of him was tempted to do experience them again. But she gets him back on track with her request, her plea, for him to go find witnesses. Her discomfort was, at this point, her own to bear it seemed … he was on a big egotistical cloud nine and didn’t seem too inclined to come down off it. She’ll get over it. Right? They had a deal.

“Right—“ he claps his hands, “Right. I’ll meet you back here. Gotcha,” he winks at her and grins, “Till we meet again babes.” And in an instant he disappears in a glowing flash, relinquishing her bedroom back to her as if he had never been there at all.

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The school day passed with excruciating sluggishness. Lydia was distracted, jittery, and anxious. It was impossible to lose herself in class work, not with the knowledge of her impending wedding looming over her shoulders. She floated from class to class in a listless daze, barely giving her surroundings any consideration.

The kiss changed everything. He wasn’t supposed to kiss her. This wasn’t supposed to be like that . Would he… did he expect… consummation? Lydia’s stomach flipped and her mouth watered with nausea. Her grip on her pencil tightened until her fingernails dug into her palm, leaving tiny little crescent-shaped marks.

You don’t have to do it, the coward inside of her spoke up, whispering the key to her salvation. You can say his name right now and forget this whole thing ever happened.

It was a pretty thought, but it was a lie. There would be no forgetting this- him . The nightmares would keep coming until they buried her in guilt and regret. After all, deals made with the dead were not meant to be broken. He seemed reasonable- okay, that wasn’t the best word to use- enough. He got rid of the cigarette butts when she asked, didn’t he? And the smell? Maybe he would understand, or they could come to some sort of agreement or compromise-

Lydia grimaced. The potential of any compromises they could possibly come to regarding the physical validation of their marriage only served to exacerbate her squeamishness. It wasn’t necessarily him so much as the act itself that terrified her. Of course, it didn’t help that Betelgeuse was much taller and stronger than her, not to mention his dangerous mood swings. If he decided he wanted her, there wasn’t a lot she could do to stop him.


Finally, the bell that signaled the end of the school day sounded. With sweating palms, Lydia gathered her things into her backpack, exited the classroom, and began trudging down the hall that led to the exit where the bike rack was posted up. She took her sweet, sweet time, in absolutely no rush to see her fiance.

“Like… Claire?”

A stunningly beautiful girl with bronze skin, platinum hair, and a glacial gaze flickered her orbs up from her phone to her best friend- a dishwater blonde named Stacy, currently stationed in the driver’s seat of Claire Brewster’s baby blue Porsche. She would have preferred to ride around in the hot pink one today, but Daddykins was having it detailed for his precious little sugar plum princess.

“Ya?” She answered sharply, popping her gum, annoyed that she was being distracted from her game of candy crush.

“There’s a pest in our way,” Stacy informed, a nasty smile curling her lips. “See it?”

They were taking the back roads that led to Claire’s boyfriend Josh’s family cabin. His parents were out of town so they could use the cozy hideaway to drink and get high to their heart’s content. These paths were skinnier than the main streets, not meant for anything wider than a minivan. A good ways ahead of them, through the thickness of the foliage, Claire could make out the blue plaid of their school uniform… as well as a head of long, raven hair blowing in the wind.

“Oh, I see it,” Claire replied, an even nastier grin splitting across her face as she locked her phone and tossed it aside. There were much more interesting games to be played at the moment.

“I don’t think this road is, like, big enough for the both of us. Do you, Claire?”

“No, Stacy,” the blonde answered, rolling down her window so that she could have a better view. “I don’t think it is, either.”

Lydia landed at the foot of a gnarled tree at the bottom of a ditch, only vaguely aware of hysterical female laughter disappearing into the distance before the pain set it. A cry of anguish tore from her throat as the root scraped and ripped at the flesh running up the side of her left calf up to the knee. Simultaneously, the wrist she reflexively used to catch herself as her bike went tumbling down the hill burned. Hissing with each movement and blinking back tears of pain, Lydia gathered herself and her scattered belongings.

There was a cut on the bend of her knee that was deeper than the other superficial scrapes. It bled gratuitously, leaving a bright red trail down to the black sock tucked into her combat boot. Her wrist, the left one, was already beginning to swell. She could still rotate it, so she knew it wasn’t broken, but carrying anything with that hand would be impossible.

Slowly, limping slightly as a direct result of the gash on her knee, Lydia continued her trek home, guiding her bike alongside her with her uninjured hand. There would be no riding it the rest of the way, not with her wrist in the state it was in, unable to grip anything with any real strength.

Around 4:45, Lydia Deetz walked through the front door of her house.

“Oh, Lydia!” An overly joyful, shrill Delia called from her studio without leaving the room, the sound of the front door opening having alerted her to her stepdaughter’s presence. “I went grocery shopping today and picked up everything on your list! Your allowance is on the counter and all the dishes are washed, so if you could start dinner soon that would be wonderful!” The redhead’s tone was so bright and whimsical she was practically singing. Delia must have been feeling inspired, then.

“I’m not feeling very well,” Lydia called back, retrieving a twenty dollar bill from the counter and trying her absolute best to maintain a timbre of indifference. “Can we do pizza instead?”

“Ugh,” Delia scoffed loudly, sounding quite put out, and a heavy BANG echoed from the room on the second floor, as though she’d just taken a hammer to one of her sculptures. “If you can call that cardboard-” BANG “- thing-” BANG “- pizza. I’ll have your father call in the order in a few.”

Winter River’s only pizzeria was a questionably “authentic” Sicilian cafe that, unfortunately, provided the best take out the small town had to offer. Delia at least seemed satisfied with the suggestion. Carefully, Lydia crept passed the open door to her studio, hoping not to draw the redhead’s attention. Explaining her tardiness to Betelgeuse would be uncomfortable enough. No need to engage her stepmother in unnecessary conversation. Luckily, the muses were with her today and Delia didn’t spare her stepdaughter a first glance or second thought. She didn’t even seem to notice that Lydia had come home much later than she usually did.

There’s no way Betelgeuse wouldn’t take note, though. He was pacing furiously in her bedroom when she finally entered, muttering lowly to himself, a deep scowl marring his already dark features. The poltergeist was so gone in his growling he didn’t even notice she was there until she spoke.

“Sorry I’m late,” she apologized grimly but with sincerity, and dropped her schoolbag at her feet unceremoniously. “Bike trouble.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Witnesses. Witnesses, witnesses, witnesses. Betelgeuse didn’t really know anyone in the Netherworld well enough to get them to come to his wedding. Make the wrong choice and he could wind up with interference again, besides. There would be no interference this time. He only had a few hours.

Instead of pacing around his crypt and hoping for the best, the ghost had decided to fully head back to his stronghold – the Roadhouse. It takes some time as the way there can be tricky to navigate at times from the Outerworld if there aren’t any doors opened that provide easy access. Mentally, he makes a note to create one and then scratches it. Where I’m going, I won’t need a door anymore.

He gives the front door to the Roadhouse a good hard kick open with one of his black boots, looking as triumphant as a ghost can. The place is relatively quiet except for a peculiar looking skeleton in a beret sitting on the moldering, stained couch in the middle of the room watching a flickering, whining television set. Oh. Right. Well, he does know some people after all. If you can call them people. Convincing them to do what he wants though…. Fuck. And he can’t talk about the wedding. They’ll get all excited and happy, and he hates it so much when they get excited or happy. Or talk to him. Or exist.

“Bonehead. I need you to come with me somewhere in like…two hours.”

“Oh oui? To where are we going, Bea-atle-jooce?”

“To look at something. And don’t…. don’t say my name you should know this by now—”

“To ….. look…. at somezing?”

“Yes. Quietly. Silently. Extremely….very silently. As quietly and as silently as you can possibly fuckin’ manage. No matter how exciting the thing is I want you to just…stay….completely quiet.”

“Oh! Zat doesn’t sound very fun. Iz it an interrrhresting thing?”

“Sure. Yes. Whatever. Just …. go get that eight-legged talentless hack and come with me.”

“You know what happens when you are doing the interrupting of her studio time, Bea-atle-jooce.”

“See, this is what I mean Jacque. That’s twice. Knock it off. I can’t fuckin’ work with either if you if you insist on things like studio time. Get the spider and meet me in two hours or I’m feeding you to the sandworms!”

Now to go talk to Captain Yipee-Ki-Yay across the street. Groan .

Somehow, he manages to convince the trio of his roommates and neighbor to come to this thing. The Monster Across the Street’s girlfriend wouldn’t go until he told them it was indeed a wedding, and she had the gall to huff about the short notice but seemed very happy for him. Happy enough that he almost puked after leaving, but he managed to keep the beetles in his stomach down. For now. Hopefully, those two don’t ruin it for him by telling the other two the nature of the event. He hated this place so much . As he said many years ago to Lydia, the place was just too creepy . And by creepy, he meant annoying and stupid .

He checked the five watches on his wrist. Only two worked, and one was wrong. He tapped the singular correct and working one that was chipped on the glass and squinted. He could scream – he was only an hour away from freedom, but convincing all those dopes took far longer than he expected. He would have to hurry.

He found himself happily back in Lydia’s place right before the main event. It would take him a little time to set the plan – and it keeps him busy for the remaining time. He waits. And waits. He paces her floor. The amount of cigarettes on the floor continues to grow. She’s late.

She’s really late. Or she’s not coming.

She double-crossed him.

Two of him pace the room now. 3:50pm. They argue and stew.

“There’s nothing stopping us from searching the house.”

“We should probably trust her, right? She had the ring, she had the …. She apologized, it was that whole big thing—“

“She fuckin’ double-crossed us, asshole.”

“She can’t get cold feet again—she didn’t BANISH us, we’re still HERE aren’t we?”

“Stupid teenage bitch. Where is she then? Huh?!”

4:15pm comes and goes.

The ghost is in a rage state. He’s stomped across her bed so much it's partially broken. Cigarette butts and beer litter the floor. He’s puked twice on her vanity. There are boot marks on the ceiling. The mirror is cracked. He’s torn the curtains from the hinges. It’s a horror show, and he keeps obsessively tapping his watch. He’s about to fly out the door and shake her parents down for her location, scare them so witless they would be vegetables by the end of it when—-she walks in.

She walks into her destroyed bedroom. At 4:45pm.

He’s still pacing and growling and stomping through the mess he’s created so much that he barely notices her entrance. Once he does, though, his glowering features change. He takes her in, her bleeding state and exhausted looking face, and all seems forgiven.

“Babes,” he says, rushing to her, taking up her hands again in an emotional sweep into his grubby mitts, his addressing of her said in a tone that could only be described as desperately grateful. He doesn’t realize that her hand or wrist is probably pretty angry at this point. “You look how I feel,” he snickers, jokingly, before assessing her more fully. “Bikes, you know I hate ‘em — you’re bleeding.”

The last is intoned grimly, and his eyes squint. That brain is working, and its inherently mistrustful nature makes him suspicious as to how exactly this happened. The living are so hysterically fragile it’s like the world’s biggest punchline. Other than dying. And they do die so easily – he should know. He’s sent a number of them to the old waiting room a little early. He frowns, though. This….this he doesn’t like. She needs to stay unharmed. Alive. It’s a conspiracy to keep him from winning her.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Approximately three seconds after greeting him, as he was the very first thing to reach her eye’s focus, Lydia noticed the state of the rest of her room. She expected there to be some wear-n-tear, what with the filthy ghoul taking up momentary residence in the space, but this was more than she could have possibly prepared herself for.

Her breath caught in her throat. His words turned into a dull buzz in the back of her head, indecipherable and unimportant. Wordlessly, she limped right passed him, brushing his shoulder on the way, and crouched down to pick up her antique copy of The Brothers Grimm: Complete Collection of Fairytales , lying open on the ground, a muddy boot print marring the kiss that woke Snow White from her deathly slumber. Why would he do this? Did he hate her that much? Maybe he was lying earlier and really was still harboring resentment. Hurt beyond words, she clutched it to her chest before standing to confront him.

However, the sight of her vanity’s mirror killed the why that was working to form on her tongue. The looking glass was split right down the middle, fracturing Lydia’s reflection. A wounded sound fell from her lips and she surged forward impulsively as though she might be able to save it from the damage it had already undergone, only to catch herself with a jerk. Instinctively, her right hand reached for the crack- willing it to please just disappear. Without the extra support, her injured hand was unable to continue carrying the book. Her wrist twinged, she cried out, and the tome once more fell to the ground with a heavy thud.

It was all much too much. The tears came and they came with a vengeance; big, fat, wet droplets streaming down her reddened cheeks and dampening the collar of her blouse. She held herself tight and tucked her chin down to her collarbone, creating an impenetrable wall with her curtain of thick, ebony hair. Deep, shuddering sobs quaked her shoulders and her knees buckled as if the tiny thing was straining to carry her own insignificant weight.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She drifted from his clasped hands and into the room like a zombie. His perplexed expression followed her, trying to be patient enough to figure out what in the world was wrong. He just watches her, baffled, as she limps and looks at him angrily, and then rushes to the vanity as if to comfort it. Yeah, he wrecked the room a little bit, certainly, but his face twists into one of total confusion over it. The living were singularly peculiar.

Normally, making anyone so miserable was almost one of his hobbies. But this one wasn’t intentional – and he starts to explain himself with a starting, “—-well, I thought you weren’t coming back so I—-“ destroyed the place? She drops the book she was clutching like a baby with a thud, her arm seemingly injured.

Oh….oh no. She’s crying. His face grimaces. He clutches at the air behind her in frustration when he knows she can’t see, hands balled into fists, his shoulders yanking back and forth in frustration. Fuck! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. He doesn’t know how to handle this . He’s not really in a relationship with her! How does he fix this?! They have a wedding to be at! Theirs! And they’re already late! His freedom seems so close, again, so tantalizingly close and yet so so far.

“It’s okay, it’s okay!” He growls, unable to keep the frustration from slipping in. He snaps his fingers and the room is suddenly, abruptly returned to normal. No mess, no fuss, no broken mirrors. The book on the floor even floats back into her bookshelf. “Now—I can’t do anything about the— don’t cry, no, don’t— the vanity is alright, look, see? I can’t fix the bleeding though—honey, come on….”

Searching for anything, anything he can think of to make it better, the best thing he can come up with is turning himself into a bloody mess all over his face. It’s horrific looking, red oozes from his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and hairline, coating his face and staining all over his striped suit. He puts his hands on her shoulders, not even thinking that this might only make it so much worse - “See? Look, we match! Eeeeyyy, we’re like peas in a pod honey, right? Right?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The jovial quality of his voice drew her from her despair, despite the undertones of desperation of which she was currently deaf to. He didn’t get to be happy when she was so miserable . It wasn’t fair. Her head snapped up abruptly, ready to tear into him with vicious words. Instead, a sound like a cross between a scream and a bark of laughter tore from her throat.

“You look-” she sniffled, unable to stifle the involuntary giggles his current illusion was inspiring, even through the sobs and residual ache in her chest, “- like you just had a really bad prom night.”

Now, she noticed the rest of the room, everything perfectly in place. It was neater than she had left it this morning. Her bed was even made. The smooth, unblemished surface of the mirror balmed her pain and drew a deep sigh of relief from her lungs. Suddenly feeling the events of the day, she dropped down to sit at the edge of her bed, pulled off her blazer, and began removing her shoes.

“Never do that again,” she warned without looking in his direction, quiet and solemn as she unlaced her boots, one by one. Her knee no longer bled. Now, a crusted trail of dried blood flaked with each movement. She wasn’t sure what she would do if he didn’t heed her words and she didn’t want to know, but they had to be said all the same.

“I’m serious,” she reiterated as she passed him on the way to the adjoining bathroom to tend to her knee, leaving the door open so that he could continue speaking to her if he wished. Her cheeks were still damp and red, but no more tears fell. For the time being, all was well again. As well as circumstances allowed, anyway.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She laughed. She laughed. Yes! Good! Good job, you stupid hack! Another win for today! You made it! You understand teenagers! No, you don’t. And because she laughed, he laughed too, reverting himself back to normal. “You know, I never did go to prom,” he admits, conversationally, with a strangely genuine smile at her. Did they even have prom when he was alive? Who really knows. “Do you think I would have killed it? Because I think I would have knocked ‘em dead.” Badum tssh.

His humor is slightly tempered by her very firm instructions to him. He makes an awkward face as she removes her boots – something between a smile and a grimace, and leans against her dresser. “Do what? No, no, I just got a little….little excited, that’s all, I won’t mess up yer room again, I just…sometimes I don’t….it isn’t intentional.” And that’s honesty! There. A sliver of honesty from him. He’s a messy guy though, and he rubs the back of his head thoughtfully. At least she can’t see his crypt bachelor pad. She’d throw a fit.

“I don’t have many limits to what I can do, babes, see. I’m the Ghost with the Most. But I can’t bring back the dead, and I’m not a doctor….”

A voice lilts from within the newly repaired vanity mirror, interrupting him. “Bea-aaaaaaa-tle-jooce, we are le arrive’d! We are here with…how do you say…. ze bells on!”

Oh, great. The big hairy blabbermouth and his big blabbermouth girlfriend absolutely told bonehead and legs all about the wedding. In fact, they probably told them things he hadn’t even decided yet. Great. Loving his afterlife right now. Why do things always go okay and then ruined?!

“Yeah yeah yeah yeah.” He says to Jacques, and then cranes his neck into the entryway to the bathroom, “You’d better lock your door or somethin’ before your pops walks in and I’ve got our witnesses here.” He ducks back out.

Into the vanity he reaches, stabilizing himself with a boot against it. It rattles and shakes, and in a good moment or two a skeleton, a spider, and two enormous hairy monsters come tumbling into poor Lydia’s room and onto her floor. They’re all in suits or a dress, or whatever they could fit in to, and the spider has….a …. bouquet.

“Beejaaaay we’re so haaaappy for yaaaaa!” the spider can talk, it seems. In a really strong Long Island accent, apparently.  “You shoulda toooold us you was gettin’ hitched!”

“Shut up, spinster. Remember how I told you all to be quiet? This is the quiet part, the really, really quiet part where all of you just….shut up, and stay shut up until I tell you to not be shut up. Got it?” hisses the ghoul. Whether or not this ragtag bunch is going to actually listen is another matter entirely. “And you, big n’ hairy, don’t shed on the floor the missus hates messes.”

“Ooohh beejaaay, that’s gonna be a prawblem for you—-“


Lydia’s P.O.V.

When he warned her to lock the door, Lydia took him very seriously and hastened to wipe the last of the dried blood from her leg, quickening even further once foreign voices started sounding from the other room. Shyly, she peeked around the corner to watch the display, unsure of what kind of “witnesses” he would produce.

“Oh, Beejaaay!” A beautiful magenta spider the size of a large dog spoke up once her fuchsia eyes landed on the slip of a girl spying on them. “Is this her? Why didn'tcha tell us she was so GORGEOUS!” A bashful blush pinked Lydia’s cheeks as the arachnid pulled her forward into the ragtag team of monsters filling her bedroom. “Now this- ” she thrust a bouquet of dead roses into the girl’s arms, “- is fuh you cause I just KNEW BJ would forget! He’s awwwful about the lil things.”

“Oh,” Lydia couldn’t help her smile, dipping her head to smell the stale flowers. “Thank you. They’re beautiful.”

“Sacre bleu!” A well-built skeleton extolled, dropping to one knee before her, taking hold of one of her hands, and brushing his teeth across the knuckles in a boney, gentlemanly kiss. “Zee mademoiselle! She is polite! She is clean! She is boo-tiful! How does Bee-atle-joos come to win your love, mon cheri?” Even more blood rushed to her face, coloring her a deep red. Before she could begin to spin an answer for him, a deep scowl twisted his skull. “Sans-couilles, ” he snarled after spotting something he didn’t like and jumped to his feet, pointing an accusing bony finger at the poltergeist. “Zee mademoiselle is hurt! Did you do zis thing, Beeatlejoos! Where is your honor! Your sense of duty! Your-”

“No no no,” Lydia cut in urgently, shaking her head. “It was an accident, he didn’t do anything.”

The skeleton seemed appeased by this but continued to mutter darkly and throw shade at the poltergeist through his empty eye sockets.

“You sure, lil lady?” A hulking beast of a monster growled from the wall he was crouched against, both he and his girlfriend- as that is the only thing the smaller, more delicate monster could be- having trouble standing up straight in her room. “Cause I got me some cousins been itchin’ fer an excuse t’ get their hands on-”

“I’m sure,” Lydia relaid, smile growing larger. How could she be anything less than absolutely charmed by all of them?

“Then what in the blazes are we waitin’ fer? Let’s get you two hitched!”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Headache. These idiots were just one big foaming headache. The ghost groaned as they all clustered to Lydia, cooing at her, fawningly. He hated them with all the blackness of his soul. They were just…so…hideously …. embarrassing .

Jacques was already accusing him of this or that, Ginger had supplied a bouquet and fussing at him more for his forgetfulness ( his mind was a steel trap! THANK you! ) and ye gods the Monster Across the Street was far too happy about the entire soirée. Puke. Barf. Yuck. He’s the best looking one in the room, you know? Someone not as handsome wouldn’t have been able to swing a pretty girl like Lydia into this scheme thanks. But the ghost just glowers.

“Yeas!” the giant monstress at the Monster’s arm purr-growled, “Oh I do love a good weddin’, puddin’!”

“Me too, my little cactus flow’r,” came the affectionate rumble in exchange.

Betelgeuse, having grumbled under his breath unhappily the entire time picked up where the Monsters left off. At least he knows his cues.

“Yeah yeah. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” He asks, but then he pauses and considers for a moment schemingly. “Now I’m serious about the quiet part. I hate the sound of your voices on general principle, but there are live people in this house that don’t agree with me marryin’ Lydia here. So it’s gonna be your jobs to listen in case anyone decides to come and crash our little party, okay?”

Maybe that would keep them busy. In the meantime, the ghost takes a moment to look to Lydia. His eyes are searching, and he snaps his fingers. It seems as though she’s not too terribly injured but the ghost seems more hopeful than anything else – he can’t fix it, so pushing ahead seems like his best bet. Her wall rumbles at the sound, the drywall and bricks underneath splitting apart. This time, a priest doesn’t appear but instead, a large white room does beyond the ragged opening, fully decorated with rows of empty white chairs. Rose petals grace the floor, and a long walkway with a silvery white path leads off to the hazy font that sits at the end. That’s where the weird looking, shrunken priest stands under a bower comprised of gold and white sculpted sandworms entangled with each other. Weird, screaming white birds swoop and dive in the ceilingless space above him.

“Ooo la la,” said Jacque in surprise – it earns a hard glare and almost a snarl from the ghost.

He waits after that. No forced dress, no assumptions, which is a strange change. He holds out his hand to Lydia. The expression on his face is …. Hopeful. Worried. But hopeful.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Even though this singular event was all that had been on Lydia’s mind since she first awoke in a cold sweat in the wee hours of the morning, it wasn’t until  he offered her his hand with a strangely vulnerable look on his face that it fully dawned on her that she was about to get married.

It was her wedding day! Circumstances aside, she couldn’t walk down the aisle in a dirt and blood stained school uniform!

“One second,” she muttered hastily and dropped her bouquet off on the vanity before grabbing her hairbrush and making a dash for the walk-in closet. At the time, she wasn’t sure why she bought it. It wasn’t black, it was more revealing than anything she owned, and since buying it the urge to wear it had never overcome her. Until now.

The lightweight, flowing maxi dress had thin spaghetti straps to hold it up, a plunging neckline, and a high slit up the side that would reveal a good portion of her leg whenever she walked. This was a dress designed for a taller person, so when Lydia wore it excess fabric trailed on the ground behind her. Grimacing at her sad variety of shoes- she really needed something other than boots- she sped through brushing her hair and settled on remaining barefoot.

There , she considered her reflection, smoothing the skirts at her side. Acceptable .

“Okay!” Draped in red, Lydia emerged from the closet somewhat breathlessly and retrieved her bouquet, cradling the decrepit petals against the rarely exposed flesh of her decolletage. “Now I’m ready.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghost cranes his neck after her and looks at his witnesses, who are also peering after the girl. Ginger shrugs the first three-quarters of her shoulders at a mystified Betelgeuse as Lydia disappears into the closet.

When she comes back, though, in the number that she does….it’s better than anything the ghost would have picked to be quite honest. Better than anything he could have ever imagined seeing her in, actually. He literally has to slam a fist to his throat to keep from howling aloud like some sort of dog, while his other hand uses poor Jacque for balance. For once, he’s at a complete loss for words. He chokes. If he had the ability to sweat he’d be sweating a waterfall by now. She’s actually the most beautiful creature he’s ever seen.

“Miss Lydia—,” gasps the Monster Across the Street with genuine astonish, and it seems not even he can finish his sentence.

“Now she lookz like a proper bride!” Chimes in Jacque, cheerily, once she gathers the flowers. Betelgeuse is still in the midst of almost beating himself to pieces to keep from jumping out of his own skin. Can he even touch her? Did she have an ability to completely change herself like he did, what is this witchcraft?!

He forgets altogether to even hold out his hand to her again. Or ask about the ring. Or think. Nope, thinking is over. In fact, Ginger has to climb up onto his shoulder and gently close his mouth. Once she does, he seems to sort of rattle back to his senses a bit. “Uh,” he says intelligently. Ginger rolls her eyes and climbs back down.

This used to be a deal. This used to be simple. This used to be a marriage of inconvenience. She wasn’t supposed to enjoy it – that was a happy side effect, of course, to getting her to acquiesce to it. But now things are quite different for the ghoul that stands at the threshold with this vision swimming in front of his eyes. That’s not even fair and she knows it. That’s cheating.

Those jade eyes, once locked, devour her. She has the slim build of a girl her age, but now it is starkly outlined by the slinky number: her small but sweetly developed breasts peeking at the edges of the dress’ center, her gently curved hips. Her leg peeks out the slit at the front, strong and yet supple, with petite and graceful feet that shyly appear beneath the overlong hem. He wants to immediately do absolutely disgusting things to them and then to the rest of her. He wants to make her scream. He wants to make her shake. He wants to own every inch of her and then some.

His tongue rapidly snakes around his chapped lips as if to moisten them. He barely remembers to put himself into a suit of some kind, and he absently makes it happen with the last remaining portion of his melted brain. It’s the same maroon number, but less “eaten by sandworms” and more normal looking, missing even the graveyard dust that covered it in a previous incarnation – apparently he’s not interested in looking as repulsive as possible this go-round.

Her readiness registers somewhere back in the corners of his brain. She said words. She said she’s ready, stupid!

“Oh! Uh, uh, right. Yes. Right. Uh huh. Ready. Okay. Good. Good.” He vaguely gestures, and gently she is drawn to him – similar to last time but less forceful. He almost does it without meaning to, the dress floating behind her feet as they leave the ground briefly to bring her near. The music begins. He offers his elbow. “Here we go, babes.” The way he says it is almost to reassure himself, it would seem. And he steps into the room with her, into the silken path, into the light.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Thank you,” Lydia demurely acknowledged the skeleton’s- whose name she still did not know- compliment, all the while eyeing Betelgeuse with something akin to concern. What was wrong with him? He wasn’t moving, or talking, or- or doing anything! Did he not like her dress? Not that his judgment held any weight in that arena , she reminded herself, remembering the lace and tulle monstrosity he once conjured for her. She would have kept it for sentimental value alone had Barbara not needed to take scissors to the thing in order to get her out of it.

Nonetheless, for some stupid reason his opinion mattered to her and so she spared a self-conscious glance down to make sure that the fabric was settled around her properly and nothing was out of place. But then he found his voice again and before she knew it they were arm in arm, marching down the path of the sacred- if that term even applied here- bonds of matrimony.

It was blindingly bright in here. So much so that the two of them stuck out like a sore thumb against the luminous backdrop. Though the birds were shrill, there was a haunting harmony to their screeching, ugly and lulling all at once. The writhing marble and gold sandworms that framed the priest didn’t inspire any feelings of guilt or shame, not like the ones in her dreams did. They were exquisite and terrible. She wanted to run her hands all over them, to draw them, to keep them as her own so that she could stare at them whenever she wanted and admire their atrocious beauty.

So distracted was Lydia staring on in awe at her impossible wedding venue that it was a shock to her when the dead man at her side nudged her, an expectant look on his face. “…?”

Oh! The priest was staring at her too! Was he just saying something? It was her turn, wasn’t it?

Was it?

“I-I’m sorry, could you say that again please?” She requested, her voice barely above a whisper, the apples of her cheeks dusting pink. It was embarrassing to be caught lost in her daydreams at such a dire moment while being watched by that many people.

The priest repeated the question; slowly, methodically, and unfazed by anything. “Do you, Lydia Elisabeta Deetz, take this man to be your husband, until death and beyond?”

“I do,” she answered properly without a moment’s hesitation. The way she promised she would. The way all little girls imagine they will one day.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It was blindingly bright nearly, indeed. The man at her side looked like a washed out Instagram filter had struck his features – and just for a moment, a singular moment, he looked …. alive. Maybe like he did when he was of the flesh, indeed. It’s a fleeting thing, and Lydia only catches it like a flicker once he nudges her and she looks at him.

He wasn’t rushing this time, or harassing the priest to hurry. No, in this weird liminal space between two worlds that he opened they have all the time they want. Their witnesses have moved up behind them, following them into this strange almost foggy white room, standing on either corner of the isle. The Monster’s girlfriend sniffles loudly.

Once she says her vow, clearly, the ghost can taste freedom. She did it. She really did it. There are other things churning in his brain that he’d like to taste, too, but he’s trying to focus in the moment. The priest finally addresses him, and he gets on with the show.

“Yeah, yeah, of course. I do. Sure.”

“Then you may place the ring on her finger.” He does, carefully – she flinches when he touches her, and he notices her bruising in the pale light. It takes a little bit of finagling – her finger is slightly swollen. Usually, he’d just change the size of the ring but he can’t in this instance – his magic wouldn’t work on the peculiar metal that has red tape and rules attached to it miles long. He gets it as far as he can without injuring her further, his own face an awkward grimace. She returns the favor, tremulously, the golden band sliding onto one of his still grubby fingers. He can feel her touch, and she’s sweating. If he could be reassuring, he would be – but alas.

“Then by the powers invested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

A rumble of thunder suddenly shakes the entire room. An arc of lightning shoots above them with a crackling hiss – no, more than just one. Many. They light the creatures flying above them in a ghastly pallor. A tremendous power surges, making the air in the room almost stifling and the pressure drop. The priest disappears in a puff of flame as the chairs fall away into nothingness. The light in the room turns a sickly green, momentarily, the lightning increases. The air is ominous and rank.

And then, just as soon as it had started, the room clears back into its bright whiteness. Betelgeuse looks around suspiciously. Is that it? He doesn’t feel different. He frowns, briefly, but then looks to Lydia and attempts a reassuring smile…perhaps with only partial success.

White puffy clouds fill the floor where the chairs once stood, and out of them a familiar honk noise sounds. HEEP HEEP! It’s a cheerful noise, and the rumble that replaces the ominous thunder is something from a….a vehicle? A clamoring, noisy, rumbling vehicle that pierces the floor’s foggy cloud layer in the same place where the priest once stood. The car is a big-finned mauve and green monstrosity. It looks like something out of the 1950’s, all shiny with chrome accents and happy warm headlights that seem inviting. The plush interior and steering wheel are clean and almost brand new looking – the ride seems far too luxurious for Betelgeuse to own….but there it is. The ghost breathes a sigh of relief. “Ride’s here. Ready to go?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Then by the powers invested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

The instantaneous thunder unsettled but didn’t frighten her. Startled, she instinctively clung to the side of the taller, solid mass beside her and clenched her eyes shut, thoughtlessly seeking protection. But then everything was still again and when she opened her eyes Lydia found that the supernatural storm had dissipated just as quickly as it raged, having stayed just long enough to embarrass her.


Flustered, Lydia pulled back from her husband and swiftly put a few feet between them, turning back to face him just in time to catch his amused grin. Before she had a chance to mumble a quick shut up and wipe that stupid smile off his face,  she was interrupted… by a car? Lydia gazed on in disbelief at the loudly colored antique. It looked like it belonged in either a car show or an art gallery where it could remain static and admired- not up and rearing and ready to wreak havoc.
“Ride’s here. Ready to go?”

What? Go where exactly? She fulfilled her end of the bargain. This was it, wasn’t it? Weren’t they supposed to part ways here? For reasons beyond her comprehension, this thought inspired a sinking sensation in her chest.

“Go?” She mouthed without actually speaking, confused and torn and not at all ready to make any more life-changing decisions. Suddenly, there was a rhythmic thumping sound; once, twice, three times it pounded, sounding muffled and far away.

“Pumpkin?” She could barely discern her father’s voice through the haze of the ethereal domain. “Pizza’s here! Come eat!”

She could tell Betelgeuse no, she didn’t want to go anywhere. She could stay home and eat a disappointing dinner of mozzarella flavored cardboard, surrounded by people who only pretended to love her out of obligation. She could fall asleep alone, rereading the same Stephen King book she’d read a thousand times before waking up and going to a school where no one even liked her, much less acknowledged her existence.

She could do these things.

“I’m not hungry!”

Chapter Text

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He refrains from chuckling at her as she winds up clinging to him but he definitely can’t keep the amused expression off his face over it. This is going to be fun . His attention turns to the witnesses shortly after and sends them all home with a rapid snap before they can protest.

She withdraws fussily and he opens the car door for her in the meantime, catching her confused expression over his request.

“Go,” he confirms, gesturing to the vehicle seats, “As in, leave. Vamoose. Scram. Skedaddle. Decamp. Depart. You can go anywhere babes. Don’t you want to see the Netherworld? C’mon- it’ll be Tha Wintah Rivah Nethahworld Tour for tha newlywedded bride!” He affects the same intonation as he did when he put Charles’ boss and her wife through the ceiling for effect, holding out his arms and grinning enticingly. He’s back in his striped suit which can only mean one thing: mischief.

He flicks his attention to the pounding at Lydia’s door after his little pitch, though, one eyebrow raised. Right. Parents. Lydia sends Charles away, however, much to the ghosts’ relief. With a flick of his wrist, he starts the wall closing again slowly, and it begins to do so with a churning grinding sound. As it slips almost fully closed there’s a dual scream – one from poor Charles, and the other from poor Delia.

He might have put some snakes in that pizza.

You know. The dowry.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Fortunately for Betelgeuse, Lydia was conveniently deaf to Delia and her father’s screams, already settling herself into the passenger side of the vehicle. She pulled her legs up into the seat to sit Indian style- the way she always sat in cars, her own little quirk. The excess skirts were gathered into her lap, as well as the bouquet before she made sure to strap the seatbelt across her chest. Who knew how safe of a driver he was?

“I like your friends.”

Lydia offered the nonsequitor as he climbed into the driver’s side, not knowing what else to say. It was suddenly abundantly clear to her that she knew almost nothing about the man next to her, and vice versa.

“How old are you?” She blurted out suddenly before the car could start moving again, carrying them to their destination- wherever the Hell that was supposed to be. His mention of the Neitherworld certainly cemented her decision to go with him, but that didn’t mean she knew any more about the supernatural realm than she did about him. Mr. and Mrs. Maitland steadfastly refused to answer any of her questions about it, fearful of her suicidal tendencies. She was aware of the waiting room, the system of caseworkers, and the fact that a woman named Juno was theirs. Of anything else, Lydia was completely ignorant.

Realizing that her inquiry came out a tad more brusque than she intended, Lydia retracted. “I mean, I know you’re old- as in, you died a long time ago old- but-” she groaned in frustration, having trouble voicing this question in a way that was deemed polite enough to her standards, and focused her gaze on the drifting fog outside her window. “How old were you when you died? I’m sixteen. My birthday is March 8th. I’m a Pisces.” She finished with a list of practical facts about herself, hoping that this would inspire him to cut the bullshit for once and just give her a straight answer.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghost chuckled, the sound of those screams certainly reached him – but he was listening for them. Jerk. He hopped into the driver’s seat, sans seatbelt but only for a few moments. Despite looking like a fairly regular vehicle, the car slides the safety feature around the ghost nevertheless, leaving him to grumble a dismissive, “Fine fine,” under his breath. The car honks cheerily as Lydia turns to him and finally engages him.

I like your friends.

“Friends!” the ghost cries, “I don’t have any friends. Those useless punks I brought to the wedding are just…” he grumbles, “Suckers. Acquaintances. Losers. I know them, sort of. Well, I live with some of them. Well, they live with me, I let them hang around me. Don’t get too friendly with them. They aren’t worth your time.” And they’re….. nice . Shudder.

How old are you? I know you’re old—-

The ghost, who now has sunglasses on for absolutely no reason at all, lowers them to look at her. “It isn’t polite to ask a lady her age,” he retorts, “And I’m not old!” he cries, indignantly, “I was like….. twenty-two when I bit the big one. Like …. Twenty three.” he pauses, seeing if she’d buy it. By her look, she isn’t buying it. “Okay, like…. forty-two. Ya happy?” grumble! “I lost track a long time ago. I’m in my prime, got it? I’ve got the Charles Atlas seal of approval.” Did the car just seal bark in assent?

He doesn’t elaborate on when he died, of course. By some of the slang he uses, probably sometime in the 1950s, but it could have easily been around the age of the Black Plague – or, easily enough, just ten years ago. His salesman pitch attitude and the “Guide” outfit he sports could have also been in the 1920s to 1910. It’s almost impossible to pin down and the ambiguity leaves a lot of intrigue as to where he picked up his mannerisms if one or more dates are accurate.

And then she rambles. Teenagers. It’s cute, actually, this time and it makes the ghost smile. So she’s a Pisces. He’s often used the Zodiac to pick up chicks, using a ridiculously lame line about various types that he’d switch up. He grins at her age though. That’s a big reason of why he likes her. He likes ‘em young. Fresh. Naive. Untouched. Perv .

“I’ve been told I’m a Leo,” he replies, conversationally, fondly remembering the cooing Dante’s Inferno girls telling him thusly many years back. He doesn’t mention this, of course, but they were all postulating very cutely post-coitus, exclaiming that he was so fierce he must be the sign of the lion. “And you’re a Pisces, huh? You must be a C major scale….allllll natural.” Groan.

The clouds around them were dissipating and the white plunged into an inky purple blackness. Once Lydia looked properly secured herself, the ghost hit the gas and plunged the car downwards – revealing the fact that they had been floating in some sort of liminal space above the Neitherworld itself. Despite having no road underneath it, the flying vehicle screeeees , Betelgeuse laughs loudly, that high pitched manic gleeful noise triumphantly and off they go. From this height, Lydia can see the bizarre world of the dead spreading out beneath her. Craggy highways that disappear into nothingness tangle far below, the lights of many odd vehicles blasting along them, some caught in snarls of traffic. There is no landscape exactly – just arranged chunks of land that have no bottom that appear to make up portions of the place. The sky isn’t really a sky exactly, and true daylight never seems to reach this strange world. If she squints, she can see that the tiny figures walking the streets are an assortment of monstrous shapes – some simply dead, some skeletal, some animalistic, some fully abstracted.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Friends! I don’t have any friends.”

“Hmm,” Lydia had hummed, entirely unconvinced by his posturing, “they may not be your friends, but you’re definitely their friend.” This response, insightful and irrefutable, belied a wisdom beyond her years.

When she was finally able to pry his age out of him, a deep color crept along the high lines of her cheekbones. He’s older than my father. She was still reeling from this through his lame line and concession of being a Leo- like he even needed to tell her. She had him pegged as a self-absorbed lion from day one. Of course, Lydia already knew that he was much, much too old for her, but the confirmation was foreboding all the same.

Then, the car was descending, the incandescent scene around them melted away, and all thoughts of propriety, right, and wrong fled from her mind. There was a brief floating sensation before her internal organs shifted up- the seatbelt the only thing keeping her in place- as they plummetted down, down, down, into the abyss.

Lydia loved amusement parks. Who didn’t? The junk food, the clowns, the multitude of opportunities to capture amazing photos, the fact that her father and Delia would always jump at the chance to drop her off with a wad of cash and leave her to her own devices for the day. Contrary to what after-school specials might have one believe, Lydia preferred it this way. She was never a fan of having to submit to unspoken arbitrary social cues. Like keeping up with mandatory small talk, asking each other about their days regardless of the fact that no one involved could give any less of a shit about the answers they received. Some of her favorite memories were formed strolling unattended through the New York State Fair with a tuft of cotton candy and her camera, taking photos and deciding which rides were worth waiting in line for.

The rides were the best. However, there was a special place in her heart for rollercoasters; the steep drop, the wind in her hair, the thrill of being that close to death without being in any danger of actually reaching it.

This was better than that. In truth, there was no comparison.

This was real. This was really, really happening. She was actually careening through limbo inside of an overgrown hotwheel with her deceased husband, on their way to- she could only presume- celebrate their recent nuptials. Instantly, she felt a pang of regret for not bringing her camera, her fingers twitching subconsciously for the snap button.

“Why would you ever want to leave this place?” She breathed in wonder, hands pressed against the glass, a fine mist coating the window where her warm breath kissed its surface. Lydia now understood with startling clarity exactly why Adam and Barbara kept her in the dark.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Well if they could stop being my friends, that’d be great. Anytime. Sooner the better,” the ghost grouses, unsuccessfully having convinced Lydia that he doesn’t need anybody . He’s a lone wolf, Dottie. A rebel.

The difference in age between himself and Lydia doesn’t seem to phase him. He likes it. He’s young enough, right? He’s handsome enough, anyway.

If Lydia only knew, the Neitherworld was a lot like a carnival. A weird, twisted carnival of the dead. But oh – oh, the nasty paperwork that came along with being deceased. It was worse than any funeral home and a hundred times more complex and restrictive.

The car banks to the left, giving her an excellent view of some very peculiar landmarks. As she presses herself to the glass and wonders why he’d ever leave, the ghost takes a moment to reply.

“Well babes,” he starts to explain, “It isn’t as fun as it seems at first. And it takes you a long time to be able to even get here,” wherever here is, “you’ve read the handbook….takes about two hundred years of hanging around the place you died or had attachment to. Takes that long for the office to process your paperwork. You get three visits with your caseworker only. And those sandworms?” he shifts uncomfortably, “They make sure ya stay put.”

It seems as though he’s considered her something of a careful ally by this point. After all, they’re married now. The car dives again, and out of nowhere a beach spanning the horizon seems to appear beneath them. “But….there’s….caveats. Tits and Tightwad, you know, the Maitlands – they died by accident, so they get to roll on into this place without much issue after they’re done haunting your house. Lucky bastards.”

He carefully navigates the rumbling car to land in the sand beneath them, it is a bit of a jostle but he manages it without too much issue. The ghost drums the steering wheel for a moment after the sand and car settles, his brows furrowed, and he looks at Lydia, “But us — I mean, those that ah… took our life in our own hands, let’s say? Civil servitude for allllllll eternity. Until we turn inta skeletons and then we fade away into dust.” He waggles his fingers for dramatic effect, opens his door and steps out onto the beach. He takes a deep breath, smacks his lips in satisfaction, and ambles around the other side of the car to let Lydia out. He’s got some politeness in there. Somewhere.

He leans his arms on the door once it opens and faces her, grinning, “But, as you probably guessed, they can’t keep me in a boring old office. They tried . But if you read that handbook, it’s a novel thing, yanno? They have a lot of loopholes they haven’t quite tidied up,” the grin gets wider, and nastily mischievous, “Can’t keep a good dog down, babes. I found much more interesting lines of work.”

He pulls away from the car door and gestures to the beach. “Welcome! To Tar Beach. One of the prettiest spots in the Neitherworld. I figured ya might have a lot of questions…. this is a pretty good place for me to try and answer ‘em.” This beach, it seems, is empty. It spreads out on either side and far into the horizon, looking almost like a fully realized place instead of the strange plugs of land floating in the middle of nowhere. The sea is a strange inky black color, with skeletal creatures rising up from the muck. The ghost lights another cigarette and offers his arm.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Overcome with excitement and fearless of the acidic, bubbling tar, Lydia ignored the offered arm and quickly closed the distance between her and the shore, eager to soak it all in. A warm breeze blew over her with each lazy, slow-moving wave that crashed upon the embankment. Crimson fabric flirted with the wind, the exorbitant train of her gown scarcely kissing amethyst-colored sand for more a split-second at a time. Her bouquet was limp in her right hand, decaying blossoms carelessly aimed at the ground. Blackened, paper-thin petals that still clung to the slightest blush of red from their glory days fell from their mantle to dance around her in erratic patterns with only the most meager of provocation from the gentle current.

The occasional skeleton floated to the surface of the vitriolic gunk, bleached white bones drifting lifelessly for brief moments- so unlike the gallant gentleman that attended her wedding- before sinking back to the depths. Almost as if they were coming up for air. Lydia constructed a scenario in which they decided to go swimming one day and just… never came back.

Lydia did not miss his slip. He killed himself- and he didn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t blame him. He would have to pry the details of her own failed suicide attempt from her cold, dead lips- something he could very well do, she reminded herself sardonically, a shadowy twist to her smile. The girl’s sense of humor could often take a dark turn.

“I figured ya might have a lot of questions…. this is a pretty good place for me to try and answer ‘em.”

That was a hell of an offer he had just made her; unlimited questions with an implied guarantee of honesty? How could she pass that up? Immediately, a barrage of inquiries formed at the forefront of her mind, but her tongue couldn’t quite settle on just one.

Why am I even here? Why me and not some other girl- someone prettier, more trustworthy, less… disappointing?

“Are you free now? For good?” Is the query that was finally deemed safe enough to fill the air between them. “I mean… that’s it right? I don’t have to do anything else?”

The real question she wanted to ask was buried in there somewhere; am I obligated to sleep with you and will you make me if I find that I can’t?

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V

His arm spurned, the ghost chuckles with a mild sneer, putting the cigarette to his lips and inhaling. He shuts the car door and ambles along the purple sand after Lydia, one hand in his pocket casually. He may dislike it when she walks away from him, but boy does he enjoy the view as she does. Phew, lad.

He waits for her to soak it in, his patience apparently overwhelming – he had all the time in the world, now. Every second of it. All his. His brain was busily working on new schemes, anyway, and what he might do first as revenge to this horrible place for keeping him trapped for so long in red tape. He might zap the entire office to sandworm land. See how they like experiencing it instead of just reporting on it. The thought makes him grin nastily.

It also feeds into Lydia’s question, and he takes a long, slow drag on his cigarette.

“Free as a bird,” he replies, easily. “That’s it. That was it, that was all you had to do, your part in this bargain is finito. Done. Over.” He raises his eyebrow and looks askance at her, “Unless, you know, you want to change the nature of our relationship.” His lips pop at the “p” end to the word. It’s hard to tell if he sounds hopeful, but he does sound like maybe he’s trying to be …. convincing in some way. He pulls the sunglasses back down over his face. “We could, I dunno, honeymoon in Acapulco.”

He taps ash with his fingertips, “I don’t know if the world is ready for me,” he admits, “But ah….they’re going to find out pretty soon if they are or not.” That’s not….ominous at all. Right?

Lydia’s P.O.V.

At his answer, a heavyweight of trepidation slipped from her shoulders. So relieved was she that the normally shy, easily flustered Lydia was not even fazed by his flirtatious insinuations. It was not taking the girl long to acclimate to his raunchy sense of humor. All worry gone, Lydia allowed herself to fully enjoy the beach. Well aware and uncaring of how very childish this made her look, she plopped right down in the sand and dug her hands into the warm, granulated amethyst.

“I don’t know if the world is ready for me, but ah….they’re going to find out pretty soon if they are or not.”

Oh God , Lydia thought suddenly, a foreboding sense of doom threatening to incinerate her newly found calm. What have I done?

“I’ve never been to the beach before,” she offered with something akin to wonder, consciously choosing to ignore his honeymoon talk and hoping to distract from his destructive musings. The sky was a canvas of bloody reds, vivid purple, and everything in between- but there was no sun to beat down and scorch her sensitive skin. It appeared as though the heat in the area was radiating from the toxic ocean rather than from any gargantuan balls of burning gas. Lydia would tag along with her father and Delia whenever they dragged her to their vacation home in the Hamptons, but the sandy white, sunlit beaches there were not made for her enjoyment. Tragically, most sunscreens proved useless against her heliophobic flesh, rendering the girl incapable of partaking in the simple joy of a day on the beach.

If only it was safe to swim in this stuff. In an effort to prove her suspicions, she plucked a wrinkled petal, placed it flat on the palm of her hand, pursed her lips, and blew. As she believed it would, the delicate thing disintegrated entirely upon meeting the surface of the septic goo. Struck with curiosity, she gathered a handful of sand and scattered the glittering dust across the surface, too. It stayed there for a moment, impervious to destruction and slow moving in its sink to the bottom, creating a galaxy-like effect.

“Deadly-voo,” she intoned with a whisper, ignorant to the breath-taking grin spreading across her face while she appreciated the complex beauty in this simple act. Several more times she repeated this process until she was gathering and throwing sand two hands at a time. “Do you have hurricanes here?” She questioned suddenly, taking a break from her game, eyes big with the possibilities of such an event. “Weather? Seasons? Why does this- ” she made a wide sweep of her arms, gesturing to the precious sand and impossible ocean- “even exist? What purpose could it possibly serve? Who put it here?”

Now that the floodgates had opened, she couldn’t close them. “And the sky! There’s no sun! Or clouds! Or moon! Why is it that color? Is it day? Or is it night? Do you have day and night?”

Thoughtlessly she rambled on, too excited to stop. Years of pent-up curiosity were being unleashed on the poltergeist and it did not appear as though Lydia was about to stop on her own any time soon.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As Lydia plops down onto the sand, Betelgeuse slowly walks up behind her. He looks out into the deadly surf, casually smoking, and then eventually down at her as she blows petals into the ghastly muck. He is definitely, definitely not staring down the front of her dress. Nope. Not …. Even…. A little bit.

“Nasty stuff,” he says at her intonation (which internally he likes…that’s a fun word, deadly voo ), after he’s mostly done having a good oogle, and sticks his foot directly into the blackish tar. There’s a sizzling noise, and eventually he yelps, lifting his foot out – now nothing but bone. He wriggles his toe-bones and skeleton foot at her, “It’s a little spicy but you get used to it,” in an instant, his foot and boot are right back to normal.

And then she’s got questions. And more questions. All the questions! He growls in reply. “I don’t— no, we — knock it off, babes!”

He kicks sand in her direction, almost playfully, with a snarl. “I don’t know , you’re talkin’ to a dead guy!” He thinks for a minute, “I sleep when I sleep and I eat when I eat, and that’s all I know. But…. hurricanes… .”

The look that spreads across his face is malicious and delighted. She might still be asking questions but at this point his mind is flipped onto other things. He reaches towards the horizon and slowly spreads his fingers, motioning his arm here and there. Off-hue clouds start to assemble, whipping into black, turbulent shapes. Arcs of lightning hit the aphotic waters far off in the horizon across the open sea, causing great jets of muck to fly into the air like acidic, destructive volcanoes. There’s a deep, growling rumble. The ghosts’ hair is pushed around by winds suddenly kicking up - a violent storm is growing, far out there in the open water. His hands plant on his hips in satisfaction.

“Now that’s a hurricane.”

He pauses.

“That’s a hurricane.” He blinks as if realizing what he’s done, and pulls at Lydia’s shoulder, “Uh, Lyds. Babes. Baberoonie. Baby. Babygirl. Sweetheart. Darling. Love of mine. We uh. We should definitely….move off this beach.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When he kicked sand at her, she scowled and stuck her tongue out at him in a particularly immature gesture.

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” Lydia criticized passionately, still playing in the sand. “How can you NOT know? It’s all I would be able to think about!” Were she to lift her gaze to the distance, she would have noticed the churning clouds and webs of lightning. The breeze blew strongly enough to whip her hair, but not distract from her burning curiosity- now tinged with indignation by his ignorance.

“That’s not fair! There are skyscrapers here! Someone had to build them, which meant they had a job and got a paycheck and went home to- to-” she broke off to laugh somewhat madly, “to their families and paid their bills! What the fuck?!”

Suddenly, a monstrous BOOM rattled the area, murdering the next barrage of questions fighting to get out. Without a moment’s hesitation, some animal part of her already aware of the danger and which direction to look, her stare snapped up to the disturbance on the horizon. With a slackened jaw and eyes the size of the moon, Lydia sat in paralysis while the storm brewed. She could feel Betelgeuse’s insistent touch on her shoulder, could hear his voice scratching at her ears, but what could he possibly want? Why was he talking to her? Didn’t he see what was happening right in front of him?

A great wall of muck rose high above the rest, casting a shadow so tall and wide that it was already beginning to encompass Lydia despite the distance. When it crept passed her eyes, cutting off the view of the sky that moments before had held her in a state of vexation, Lydia found that she could- and should- move. Right now.

Clinging to her instinct to survive, she was on her feet faster than she knew she was capable of, wild eyes scanning the area for salvation. Beach to her right, beach to her left, the car she didn’t know how to drive sitting a terrifyingly far ways away from the shore, and… Betelgeuse. Small, desperate, and out of her league, she took his hand in a vice grip and flashed a pleading look up- wordlessly giving her permission for him to do whatever he needed to do.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

There we go. Lydia’s hand was in his, and he had her. He wishes he could save that look on her face for a thousand years. And he just might.

He grabbed her up like she weighed nothing – the ghost was actually quite physically strong for his shlubby looks, and he carefully, but very quickly tossed her over one shoulder. One hand firmly gripped on her rump, that was no coincidence either , he took off running down the beach. “I’d zap us out of here babes,” he yelled over the sound of the now screaming wind, “I really would! But the storm – some kind of interference. Crazy fuckin’ Neitherworld weather, huh?” he huffed as he hauled down the beach. “Did you eat bricks for breakfast?!”

The storm was practically biting their ankles, now. The ghost always seemed to be one step ahead, though, dodging great globs of muck that the clouds flung from the ocean. They landed with a splorch and a hiss all around them and the stench of them were horrible - or maybe that’s the stink of an old corpse running. He’s not running towards the car, as Lydia could see from her over-the-shoulder view. The car was getting smaller and smaller in the distance.

The darkness was almost ready to fully engulf them. The wave of blackness had reached the shore and was curling around top of them in what seemed like nearly a mile up in the air, blotting out what little eerie light was there before. It was about to smash them to pieces when Betelgeuse took a flying leap into some sort of rocky shelter, just in the very nick of time. The walls of their newly discovered rocky shelter shook violently as the wave landed, glorshing vast quantities of acidic muck past the entrance they just left behind but not following them inside. The storm rumbled on, the wind continuing to scream, but in their safe hovel, there was a more muted quiet.

The ghost put the girl down gently and wheezed, huffing, leaning on a nearby piece of what appeared to be volcanic rock for support.

“I pay rent,” he finally chokes, “I p…I pay rent to a giant…. Sentient….” Huff, “….breadcrumb.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The pandemonium rendered Lydia incapable of seeing through his guise- or paying any real attention to the firm hand clenched on her backside. It squeezed down every time his boots skidded in the sand, his rough landings jolting oxygen from her lungs. A stream of acid just barely missed disfiguring her nose and she yelped, clenching her fists and burying her face in the material of his jacket. The temperature increased drastically, inspiring a thin sheen of sweat across her alabaster flesh. Briefly, Lydia feared it might hinder him and he would drop her- but his grip was unyielding and before she knew it, she was back on her feet again.

She stumbled a bit, despite his careful depositing of her person, and latched onto the cave wall for equilibrium. It was cool to the touch. The sensation was savored as unbearable heat still drafted from the direction of the entrance in sporadic bursts. She pressed her back flat to the stone, breathing hard even though she hadn’t needed to exert herself physically. Not really.

It was dark in here. Stray rays of ambient light somehow managed to find their way into the damp little pit, but they were weak, the walls unreflective. She could make out the white stripes on his suit and the barest shape of his pallid face, but everything else was obscured by shadow.

His humor was lost on her in the wake of what she considered to be a near-death experience. “There were people out there,” she whispered in horror, painfully aware of the tremors in her voice as it echoed across the cavern. The hurricane was sure to devastate the buildings she saw bordering the beach on their way in, filled with spirits; working their jobs, earning their paychecks, and waiting to go home to their families. “Are they… will they be… okay?”

They were dead and not likely to get any deader, but Lydia was unable to shake the image of the lifeless, fleshless carcasses she saw traversing the ocean, trapped in an eternal acid bath.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Oh, yeah – them? Uh, yeah I mean, they’re all dead, so …..they’ll be….fine. Just….missing skin for a little bit,” the ghost explains, haphazardly and almost dismissively. “We get storms like that like….all the time. They’re used to it.” Lies!

That storm was going to rage across half the Neitherworld. He was suppressing outright laughing, hysterical, wonderful laughter. The problem with his wife, it seems, was that she cared too much. Precious.

“It’ll pass. Won’t go far beyond this beach. Can’t go far beyond this beach! Atmosphere is….something…something sciencey, probably,” greaaaaat job there, Ghost with the Most . “You’re smarter than I am. You’d…probably know how storms work. They’d teach you that at that fancy pants girl school, right?” WHAT .

Lydia could probably see his eyes glitter in the dark as he looked around. “Wellp. We’re stuck for a bit, that’s the reality, Lyds. Let’s see what we got in this place, herrreee…eerrrr….” His last syllable drifted off, and he clapped both of his palms like on those “Clap-On, Clap-Off” commercials. The entire ceiling of the cave seemed to flicker on, but with what light source isn’t clear. It simply left them in an ambient, lurid glow much like the atmosphere outside.

However, what it lights up is the kicker. The cave isn’t exceptionally large, but it is vast in height and what coils around its edges is what can only be described as an ancient sandworm skeleton. It’s massive, and the bones that make up all of its contorted multitudinous ribs create something of a weird pergola from the middle of the cave stretching towards the back and sides of the place. The floor is the same purplish sand, soft and strangely warm. There’s….a blanket, tucked neatly in the middle of the ribs, and a….candle that is lit… .and….a wine bottle…aaaand a handbasket which appears to be filled with….mysteriously….fresh….food.

“Looks like we mighta interrupted somethin’,” the ghost says, dreamily, sending a snaky grin over to Lydia, as if she’ll totally buy it. “Wellllll, shouldn’t let this go to waste probably, who knows how long we’ll be in here, weird , right?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Light illuminated the area, her gaze fell to the disgustingly romantic setup, and her heart consequently sunk into her gut. She felt sick.

“You are so full of shit,” she hissed, holding back involuntary tears of outrage. Immediately, she turned her back on him to march back toward the exit to the cave. Fuck him. He was a lying, manipulative bastard and she would rather take her chances with the storm. Unfortunately, the gusts of scorching heat blasting from the mouth made her departure impossible. Seeing no other option, she mimicked her earlier childish gesture and plopped right down in the sand; front facing the exit, back facing his failed seduction attempt, and arms crossed stiffly over her chest.

His powers were working just fine. He could get them out of there if he wanted to- but he didn’t want to. He wanted to trick and lie and maneuver his way into her pants without even having the decency to provide her with the bare minimum- the feeling of desirability. She didn’t feel sexy, or beautiful, or loved, or any of the things you were supposed to feel when a man wanted you. She felt stupid .

Was this his idea of a date? If yes, would it really have been that hard to just ask her? Like a normal girl? Didn’t she deserve at least that? “Coward,” she grit out, glaring at the sand while wiping away a stray tear, uncaring of whether or not he heard her pointed insult.

“I want to go home. Right now, Betelgeuse.”

It was the first time his name had passed her lips since she summoned him. Deep in the ghost’s soul, he felt a barely there, terrifyingly familiar tug . The acidity in her demand rivaled that of the storm’s, leaving no room for debate. Sadly, Betelgeuse often made a habit of sticking himself in places where there was no room for him.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She was furious. What?!

What went wrong? The ghost re-traced his steps. Okay. Married her. Check. Showed her a pretty place. Check. Put her in danger and then saved her life. Check. Then, brought her to phase four, Romantic Beach Cave where she was going to cling to him and he was going to reassure her, and then she was totally going to go bananas for him. He counts on his fingers, vaguely, as she storms off to pout.

He looks genuinely perplexed, his brow rumpled, his stance one of confusion. This was supposed to have fully worked out in his favor. Chicks, am I right?

So, like a confused bull, his frustration at his own inability to figure this situation out turns to annoyed anger, of course. Processing emotions wasn’t his strong suit even a little. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!” he yowls, defensively, his tone injured. “You don’t like picnics? You don’t like sandworms. You don’t like…uh, being trapped in caves? You don’t like hurricanes? You don’t like gross romantic stuff.” He snaps his fingers as if seizing on a grand idea, “I can fill the room with snakes babes, just say the word.”

Then, she calls him a coward. His lips twist in a funny way. He just saved her from a deadly hurricane. Okay, he started it, but that takes some bravery too right? The word twists around in his gut. Ow. That actually hurt. Why would she call him that?

None of his questioning seems to really get him any answers, and she demands to go home, adding further to his stupefaction. And then….

….And then she says his name. And it yanks. Pulls. That deep gut sensation that he finds far too familiar. His brain whirls. There’s silence from him for a good moment – which is unusual. This would normally indicate a building rage, but instead, he’s got a hand placed on his belly, eyes wide. She still has the ability to call him back. Why? Did the marriage not work? Wait….there was that one, tiny, itty bitty clause about ….virginity. But she’s sixteen. There’s no possible way—–he covered all his bases. He made sure….

The ghost hiccups. His priorities suddenly shift like a freight train running off the tracks. He’s suddenly overwhelmed with panic. “B-babes, babes…..I know you’re really ….really angry, and ….I fully understand,” he does not, “And I’m s… shit ….sorry? Sorry. I’m a coward. I’m …I’m whatever, scum, the worst, I know,” His legs have gone weak, and he collapses into the sand nearby on his rump. “This is…going to be a ….really…weird question and I know you want to go home, and I’ll send you there in …. Just a minute, you can go back to your boring life and school and girlfriends and whatever and I’ll leave you alone forever, forever okay?” He says the last part firmly, suddenly intensely serious. He means every part of that. He lifts a finger, “But….have you….gone with anyone besides…well, I know we’re not really, but….besides me before? Fooled around? Something like that?”

The question is absolutely invasive and peculiar, and it might earn him a beating instead of anything else. But he has to ask. He has to know. She controls his destiny now and she can’t know about it. The thought is absolutely terrifying in a way he can’t put together exactly quite yet in his brain. Again, her feelings are being pushed aside for his issues. Marriage blows.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

What the fuck?! A sneer of disgust curled her upper lip and several more droplets of moisture leaked from her eyes unbidden. “Oh, yeah ,” she answered with a cruel laugh. Or was it a sob? “I’m a big slut. I’ve slept with lots of guys.”

It was a horrible lie. She knew it. He knew it. She knew that he knew it. She didn’t care. “Deepest apologies that you won’t get to deflower me, but don’t worry ,” she reassured with mock sincerity, smiling at him like she really meant what she was saying. The illusion was tarnished by the crystalline tears streaming down her cheeks. “I’m sure there are plenty of virgins out there you can seduce. You’re not completely terrible at it, you shouldn’t have much trouble.” Point adequately made, all pretense was dropped and she was a wounded viper again. “Now take me home.”

All of her muscles were tense, coiled, and twitching, as though she were still debating whether or not it would be worth it to throw herself to the mercy of the storm.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Her reply cuts deep. The ghost flails his arms uselessly, and then drops them into his lap. Ow. Owwwww ow ow ow ow, ow. The living were absolutely impossible.

“No, no,” he finally admits in a moan, defeated, his shoulders slumping. He inches himself on his ass closer to her, as if his proximity will somehow help him reason with her. He doesn’t get too close, knowing that it probably isn’t a good idea at this very moment. He looks at her, searchingly, “That wasn’t…that wasn’t…. the point.”

He pauses, and twists his fingers, picking at them. It seems as though he’s thinking exceptionally hard on what to do next. “I’m gonna take you home, but give me a second. I’m not good at this. You chicks are always ten steps ahead of us dudes, you know? I don’t know how to say nice things, or do nice things. This,” he gestures, “is as close as I get, and it wasn’t to get your dress off. I just wanted to do somethin’ nice so you’d stick around….and I’m not nice – when I say I don’t have any friends, I’m not lying. I don’t know why those idiots hang out with me. I fuck with them constantly.”

His voice is somber, defeated. He drops his darkly circled eyes from her, and looks at his boots which he’s cuffed into the sand.

“This place is too weird, and I wasn’t lying about that either. I don’t have any answers to your questions because I don’t know the answers. For a long time I was stuck in that office, forced to help Juno in whatever…shitty boring thing she had to do. Woman loves her job. I don’t. I don’t like being dead, Lyds. I don’t. I did a stupid fucking thing once …. once and I can’t take it back. I can’t take back the days that I wasted fighting with—-“ he stops himself, and then picks at the sand, still glowering downwards, “—the people who cared about me. They’re all dead now too, but I can’t find them in this place and I doubt they’d even want to see me again. I don’t even know how long I’ve been here. So I worked the rules, I worked them, and I worked them over hundreds of years, until I finagled myself into that weird name situation…you know, you say my name three times? Bloody Mary had a similar setup. Anyway, that’s of course where you come in.”

He levels his gaze upwards, from hooded eyes. “Our marriage was the final step in my freedom so I could reclaim everything I had. My life. This whole place is designed to fuck you over, so I had to make sure I read everything about this …. marriage deal. No more names, no more control over me, right? Except, just like everything else in this dump, there’s a clause.”

He stares at her, his face deadly serious.

“The clause, of course, is that the person I marry has to be untouched. Now, I figured due to your age, this may have not been an issue. I was guessing, babes. But here’s how it works now,” the ghost takes a long, uneasy breath and leans in as if telling her a secret, “You can banish me. You’re the only one that can.”

He leans back, frowning. “So no, it doesn’t have to do with you being as big of a slut as you like, or having had been one in the past – I’ve known a great many sluts, myself I count among them, and they’re some of the hardest working, finest people I know. And you’re not a slut, okay? I know you’re not. It’s this place. It makes sick, twisted rules based on a gal’s purity. Remember when I asked you ‘why’ all those years ago? I meant it, knowing what I know.”

He opens up his arms, “So do your worst. I deserve it,” he adds, with a quirky grin, “You’re angry with me and I earned it. I tried to tread the line between our clear and cut deal and something else – can you blame me, being faced with who you are, and what you look like? You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, even when you cry. I like it when you cry and that probably says something about me, and I know I’m not supposed to. I didn’t even kiss you when we said ‘I do’ – and I’ve only kissed you once since I got here which I’ve gotta tell ya, that’s been rough. But I get it. I’m a creep and a loser. I always have been babes.” And he smiles, genuinely, a weird brightness to it, “And a coward, too.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Oh, wow. Lydia watched him with wide eyes, tears drying as he talked… and talked… and talked . He was saying… a lot of things. His sheer, unexpected honesty was disarming. It shattered the adamantine guard she was in the midst of constructing.

She couldn’t quite hold onto just one emotion, they coursed through her so rapidly: relief that he wasn’t interested in her solely because of some patriarchal concept of purity, guilt for assuming that he prescribed to such sexist views, rage that the faceless, nameless authority of the afterlife would even dare to include a clause of that nature in a marriage contract, and a deeply unfair wave of shame that she had inadvertently exposed her darkest secret to him. He had no business knowing things like that about her and it was all her fault. She couldn’t even blame him.

Lydia couldn’t help the spike of curiosity that resurged at his mention of the Bloody Mary, but shelved any questions about that little anecdote for a less serious moment- and there would be less serious moments in the future. Many of them. Beautiful , he called her, so genuinely. She couldn’t even bring herself to be disturbed by his dark confession- the delight he took in her tears- though was aware that she probably should have been.

She wasn’t just an easy lay to him. He wanted to kiss her and take her on dates. He actually, really wanted her to be his wife- and everything that entailed. This revelation was as terrifying as it was gratifying. She didn’t speak until she was sure he was finished, unwilling to interrupt this rare show authenticity.

“No,” she denied, shaking her head and wiping away the last of her tears on her shoulder, “no. You’re not a loser. You’re actually really cool. I’m a loser. I don’t have any friends except dead people- and you know, it’s not like they really have a choice. They have to get along with me.” Mr. and Mrs. Maitland loved her genuinely, but Lydia would never be able to shake that inkling of doubt. “God,” she huffed bitterly, “I’m too stupid to even recognize when a guy likes me.” Not that this was something that happened often. Or ever.

Lydia felt like the biggest bitch in the world. Here it was, the romantic date she had many times imagined being asked on, yearned for girlishly while jealously observing the other girls her age who had no problems collecting suitors. And what was she doing with it? Crying, acting like a child, and slinging insults at the one who gave it to her. Stupid .

“I’m sorry,” she conceded, wrapping her arms around her legs, resting her chin on top of her knees, and refusing to meet his gaze again. “I ruined our date.”

Of course, if Lydia had known that this was a date, she would not have reacted thusly, but guilt and regret drowned her previous ire. All that was visible in her path to reconciliation were her own shortcomings.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As her emotions rollercoaster, she seems to be getting a good understanding of what its like to be him , in a way. His hyperactive personality is some kind of counter-act to being dead – ensuring he feels, still, ensuring entropy won’t pull him deeper into the earth. It's why most of them work, in fact, why many of the dead have jobs and productive habits, because after a certain point what else do you have? The dead can’t get sick, or injured, or disfigured, really. You live in a state of suspension like someone hit the pause button right when your life ended. So, just like in life, you need a purpose.

He listens to her and rubs the back of his head awkwardly. He’s starting to get a clearer picture of her the more he’s honest with her. She hasn’t made fun of him, and she hasn’t pushed him away whenever he’s been upfront about his dealings – even when she could have, even when she could have called him stupid and misguided. Which he was. And she hasn’t banished him yet. So he keeps talking.

“Oh yeah, the….the Maitlands,” he mumbles, “No babes, I ….I think they genuinely like you. Ya know, I learned a lot in that attic. Stupid…stuff, mostly, because both of them are complete idiots who’re really bad at everything and they double-crossed me twice but Barb never had kids of her own, I think in a weird way she adopted you. Emotionally, at any rate. Which would have eventually gotten real weird but I don’t think anyone really thought that far. Anyway, that was the one not-idiotic thing they thought to do, in the moment, because you needed them.”

The ghost shrugs, “And yeah, I’m….I’m terrible at the whole feelings thing. I show, I don’t always tell, and I’ve been dead for a really long time . So, this seemed like a really good idea. I have no frame of reference babes, I watch romance movies and those are gross - that’s all I’ve got. I’m tryin’ to keep my word to m’self and get back what I had …. You shouldn’t be apologizing to me. I know I’m not a good guy. I don’t know if I ever was, really. I’m tryin’ to win you over so maybe this won’t be so inconvenient for you.”

Please, please like me . He’s also determined, now, to see to it that she’s not hurt again. Because she does seem so very hurt – like this had all happened to her before in some weird way, and went much worse. For once, the ghost has it that he’s going to put her into the picture, somehow, some way, if she’ll have him. She needs protection, not abject chaos. He can try for the former, but he can’t wish away the latter - he is the embodiment of said.

Betelgeuse scoots a bit closer and puts one hand on Lydia’s crossed ones on her knees. Still mouldy and grubby as always and almost twice the size of hers, his gold ring glitters in the dim light. “You didn’t ruin anything. I ruin things. That’s like who I am as a professional. I’m great at it, babes, I nearly killed your dad, remember?” He half-chuckles, “Forgive me? I can’t promise I won’t fuck everything up in like ten minutes. I can’t. But I’ll try to figure this thing out. Okay? This thing we have. Or don’t have. And if someday you really do want me to go away forever, I’ll do it. My death is in your hands. Literally.”

No pressure there, Lyds. Also, you might want to drop the miniature gravestone with his name on it that you’re holding now, its sort of buggy.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

His reassurances about Adam and Barbara didn’t hold any new information. She knew that they longed for a child while they lived. She knew that parenting her was the best they were ever going to get. The idea that she wasn’t enough for them- for anyone- however, was deeply ingrained in her psyche and would likely never leave. Nevertheless, the things he said sounded good and she liked hearing them. If he thought Mr. and Mrs. Maitland truly loved and valued her, then there must have been some merit to the idea.

“I forgive you,” she answered easily, without any hesitation, as if she was capable of anything else . Her smaller hand twitched beneath his like she wasn’t sure what to do with it, but ultimately stilled and accepted his hold without a fight. Until she felt something wriggling in her palm. Alarmed, she sat up straight, shook his hand away, and uncurled her palm. An ordinary individual would have yelped and immediately tossed the infested hunk of rock across the room.

Lydia gasped in unexpected delight.

“Oh,” she extolled breathily, too emotionally drained to express the full depth of her amazement. “I’ve never seen that breed before,” she acclaimed, lowering her palm to the sand so that the large, black and white striped centipede could make a peaceful escape. As soon as it touched the amethyst dust, it burrowed away and out of sight. “I don’t think it even exists.” She curled up her fingers again, enclosing them around the little headstone- keeping it. “Did you make it? Can you do that?”

She didn’t really need the confirmation. Of course he could. He conjured a carnival and a shotgun wedding in her living room at a moment’s notice just two years prior. Before answer the question at any real length, an angry growl filled the space between them, emanating from her belly. She flushed slightly at the sound of it and curled herself a bit tighter again, abashed.

“I do want to go home. I’m hungry, and tired-” good God, she had been awake for so long on so little sleep- “and my knee hurts, and I want to take a bath… but,” honey eyes flashed up at him briefly, the cinnamon specks dappled across her irises made larger and more vibrant from all her pretty tears, “I’ll come back here another day. If you take me.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghost’s eyes widen slightly. He knew that Lydia was an odd girl, but the way she handles having a giant, if admittedly prettily patterned centipede of sorts crawling all over your hands is surprising. Does she like insects? Was that why she cringed when he munched that roach during their first meeting? The ghost watches her keep the silly tombstone charm with interest.

“Yeah, babes,” he says, quietly, “I can make pretty much anything. I can do pretty much anything. I can change how I look. I can change how you look—“ he trails off as her stomach growls. Oh. Right. She’s alive. She needs things like….food, and sleep. Regularly, even. And she’s still hurting. Ah – dummy.

Cursing inwardly at his ignorance, the ghost nods and creates an ordinary household door in the wall of the rock. It glows slightly, indicating his magic touch.

“That oughtta to take you home,” he says, and stands, offering her a hand to get up. “Oh, and one more thing,” he shuffles over to where he left all the picnic goodies and grabs the basket, shuffling back over to her rapidly. It’s covered in a cloth decorated with bones. “There’s some scream tarts and spaghetti and eyeballs, and boo-berry pancakes in there. I didn’t know what you like eating – er, I sort of have forgotten what live people eat. Or when they eat. Or how much they eat. Or when they eat. So….uh. Good luck with these. And uh, bourbon. I know I like that still. I’ll just take that,” he pulls a bottle of the stuff out from beneath the cloth and slides it into his inner jacket.

He looks into those eyes as she queries a return trip and he loses track of his thoughts. He wants to squeeze her breathless. “Yeah. Y-yeah. You can come back anytime you want.” And, he can go there, unless she banishes him. Good. “Just….y’know, knock on your mirror. That ought to do the trick. I’ll hear ya.”

He looks down at her angry knee worriedly, though, once she gets up. He doesn’t say much about it, but it definitely makes him visibly nervous. “Just…take care of…that. Okay? That’s the one thing I can’t fix. I don’t want you joining me like this too soon, you have a world out there that needs you and a life that you need to live first.”

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Just…take care of…that. Okay? That’s the one thing I can’t fix. I don’t want you joining me like this too soon, you have a world out there that needs you and a life that you need to live first.”

She stood at the threshold between their worlds, facing him with her back to the door, basket in arm and charm in hand. The miniature headstone would fit in well with the other knick-knacks on her bookshelf, and the food- if it proved edible - was certain to be better than the below-average pizza waiting for her at home. Lydia almost implored him to pass the bottle back her way so she could take a quick swig before departing. It had been a hell of a day. As it was, she wasn’t quite that comfortable with him yet.

“Will do,” she promised simply in regards to both tending to her knee and calling on him through the mirror. There was a strained moment where they both stood completely still, maintaining intense eye contact. It felt like something was supposed to be happening there- a kiss, a hug, a handshake, something . Instead of any of those things, her lips quirked into a barely-there smile and she murmured a hesitant goodbye before slipping through the door- refusing her ears whatever parting he might have for her.


It felt like it had been years since her last bath. The scalding heat encompassing her completely, the cloying scent of her favorite brand of African black soap, the way she was able to drift beneath the surface and forget about the world outside of the water; it was bliss. Neither her father nor Delia seemed to notice she was even gone. They were asleep upon her return, her door still locked, bedroom undisturbed.

The scream tarts were her favorite of the haul- the spaghetti and eyeballs went straight to the garbage, she wasn’t even chancing it with that one- but they had to be eaten with haste. As soon as she unwrapped them from their wax paper, the blood and puss colored pastries released ear-splitting shrieks into the house, forcing her to cram the sweets down her gullet to shut them up. Her parents would have to have been truly inebriated to miss the ruckus, which they did.

Absentmindedly, Lydia hummed while she bathed until eventually, her notes found words.

“Old death, where are you now?
You’ve left me behind somehow,
Drank deeply from your cup,
Now see what I’ve become,”

The girl had always liked her voice, but she was never one for singing in front of people. This was something that was uniquely hers, like her photographs. No one could speak with her voice, just like no one could see what she saw.

“What's left but ash and burn?
No last pale light to follow,
Along here, to find my way.
I'll catch up with you one day...”

Was it too soon to call him? This was the question on Lydia’s mind all throughout school the next day. She knew the answer; yes. It had only been a day, but already the monotony of the living realm was beginning to wear on her. How could she sit there and try to read a clinical analysis about the philosophies of Aristotle and Socrates for some humdrum school assignment when she could just go meet them if she wanted to, couldn’t she? This was added to her mental list of questions and concerns she would have to bring to Betelgeuse’s attention.

But… it was definitely too soon to call him. She couldn’t let herself look that clingy. He was probably off enjoying his freedom. It would be wrong of her to hinder that.

“Like, oh-em -gee .”

Lydia flinched at the sound of the voice and buried her nose deeper into her book. Her lunch tray sat pushed off and forgotten to the side, macaroni n’ cheese barely picked at. A quick glance to the clock at the head of the cafeteria confirmed that there were only five minutes left in the lunch period. Just five minutes. Lydia could handle five minutes.

“I cannot believe it. Stacy, I owe you fifty bucks. I thought she’d at least break a bone. Like, get a frickin’ doctor’s note so we wouldn’t have to look at her for a couple weeks. Geez .” Claire sounded immensely put out, as though Lydia had somehow inconvenienced her by not being seriously injured.

“Pay up, bitch,” Lydia heard an equally nasty voice reply and began rereading the same sentence a tenth time. “I told you it would take more than that. Like, we would probably need some holy water, a cross, garlic, a priest- scratch that- an exorcist . To be safe.”

Just five minutes.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.


The ghost checked his watch(es, multiple) approximately ten minutes after the door closed behind Lydia. The hurricane was continuing its course across the Neitherworld, though probably the Storm Chasers had gotten it controlled by now. Yep, there was a department for that, too.

Anyway, it had been about ten minutes, and that’s about ten minutes the ghost has been perfectly bored – so, it was time to see what his wifey-poo was up to. This was better than the best television show. She seemed to have forgiven him his most recent trespasses, and that’s the perfect time to accrue more of them.

With a snap of his fingers, he was back at the Roadhouse, in his own room, plush moldering coffin bed and all. Pulling a chipped hand mirror out of one of the sides, he settles in and twists imaginary knobs on the side of it to “tune in” to her activities.

Ten minutes in Neitherworld time, of course, is quite different than living time. By the time he checks in, she’s already in the tub, and the ghost blinks his dark-rimmed eyes and squints. “Oh-“ he mumbles to himself and adds an entirely too-pleased-with-the-view chuckle, “Hellllllo~.” Sure, this was a gross invasion of her privacy and he knows she’d absolutely have an attack if she ever found out, but this way….she can’t, really. Betelgeuse kicks his legs up, picks his nose absently, grunts, and vaguely fondles the mirror, twisting it here and there to get some really nice angles on poor unaware Lydia.

In the pale light of that small but surprisingly pleasantly renovated bathroom, she looks like a siren; her thick locks falling like a black waterfall over gently sloped shoulders. In places, she is sweetly soft, and others she is deliciously angular. Her back curves gracefully as she moves to wash those long limbs of hers, and in the back of his mind the ghost considers turning himself into her sponge. Instead, he just growls to himself, happily.

It takes him a moment of oogling to realize she’s making a noise of some sort. Her lilting, dulcet tones eventually shiver through the mirror’s surface as if from far away, and the ghost smacks the edges with a frustrated grunt until it comes in clearer.

“This old death is crooked and untrue,
I played your game but now I think I’m through.
I know what you look like,
And I’ll see you before long...”

The ghost puts the mirror closer to his ear, resting his chin on a palm and actually giving up her beautiful visage to close his eyes briefly. Perhaps, in some inner fantasy, he’s off dreaming that she’s singing to him. It is like this that he actually falls asleep – despite not needing any, it is her voice that soothes him thus into slumber, musica delicias habet ad pectum ferum mansuefaciendum – music soothes the savage breast.

The ghost wakes with a start in the wee hours of the morning. Flailing and struggling, he grabs up the mirror again, shaking it until it shows a clear picture of Lydia just waking up herself. “Man, she goes to school early ,” he remarks to himself, sourly, and promptly scrambles out of his coffin awkwardly. He goes through some sort of strange businessman routine, throwing coffee down his throat he doesn’t need to consume, straightening his tie, and promptly readying himself for some form of commute. With a wave of his arm, he disappears from the Roadhouse and enters the world of the living.

He reappears exactly on his intended target, the branch of a tree outside Lydia’s weirdly shaped Victorian-moderna house. He’s an oddly colored scraggly cat, mostly black but with a striped tail and overly yellow eyes, teeth crookedly sticking out from feline muzzle. His whiskers twitch. It’s peculiar being this….outdoors. He’s not accustomed to traveling the human plane in a non-haunt situation, but it’s important to him that…for some reason…he keeps an eye on her. Today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe forever. It isn’t logical, but the ghost is going with his feelings it seems versus any kind of sense-making. Also, this is vastly entertaining – more so than destruction or mayhem.

For now.

He follows her to school, minding being seen, marveling at various things, smells, sights. It’s a bit grand, and novel, and he even forgets to cause trouble as he sticks close to Lydia’s trail but just enough out of sight to be ordinary.

Once she hits the school building, another tactic was surely needed. As a ghost, he couldn’t be seen by most living people – but Lydia was different and he needed to hide from her. So, like any common specter, he went the safe route: invisibility.

God school was boring.

Agonizingly, he sat through class after class, taking up empty room, hiding in corners as different insects. Finally, lunch rolled around. He almost…. almost changed the lunch food into something disgusting after Lydia finished being served, but instead, he just sent a few mice into the kitchen to cause some nuisance to the women working there. It gave him mild satisfaction of a kind – the ghost did not deal well with boredom. Boredom grew in him vicious things.

And then, towards the end of the lunch period, slumped invisibly on one of the lunchroom benches, Betelgeuse can’t help but overhear a voice. It’s a voice that drips with malice and some form of edgy irony, which is generally considered the worst kind. It takes him a minute to understand quite what they’re talking about….but it seems as though…. they ….were Lydia’s bike trouble.

They were the ones that hurt her. And made her late to the wedding.

And it becomes perfectly clear, crystalline, that they had intention of hurting her again. His wife. The girl who has eyes like sadly melting honey when she cries. This, this was his. She needed to be safe, and these …. foul representations of humanity were not inclined to be on the same page, it seemed. The sensation that builds in his chest is one that he’d never felt, exactly. It feels like a hundred fires have lit all across his limbs at once. Red rage clouds his vision as she continues to speak. The last words he processes are these: “Like, we would probably need some holy water, a cross, garlic, a priest- scratch that- an exorcist . To be safe.”

He knows an exorcist. A bio -exorcist, to be exact.

Out of seemingly nowhere, the shape of something horrific begins to grow in the middle of the cafeteria. It grows quickly, striped, ghoulish. Scales, arms, legs, parts, insectine, voracious. Colossal coils slam forth, tearing a few tables in two as if they were made from balsa wood. Everyone was going to see THIS and it raised the feeling of pleasure deep in his heart. Lydia’s classmates shriek, wail, and run – he’d show these tiny, impudent souls who they’re really messing with.

Three heads pull outwards from one neck, hissing and rattling, groaning as they expand upwards, hampered only by the ceiling. Eyes, so many eyes, spread bulging across their monstrous visage. Rows of teeth line each mouth – so much worse than the snake he made so many years ago, jagged, almost clogging each maw. All three of them open so wide, gurgling, drooling. Almost everyone has escaped the cafeteria. Everyone, that is, except Claire and her group of friends….he’s trapped them with an enormous coil. The heads rear back, seeing them as open prey.

He’s going to eat them and send them to a world so much worse than death. He’s going to eat them all whole.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The smell hit her first. It was singularly foul; sulfur and raw sewage and the worst kind of rancid, stagnant rot. It almost made her lose the meager bit of cafeteria food she’d managed stomaching. Next came the screaming. They were the kind of shrill, blood-curdling screams that could only come from adolescent girls, the kind actresses in horror movies couldn’t be paid enough to replicate. Then, she saw him. There wasn’t a single moment where Lydia had any illusions about who- what- the creature was.

He was a monster . And he was out for blood.

Lydia stood frozen with paralysis as the grotesque, striped hydra decimated the lunch room, destroying everything in its path. There was no mistaking its destination; a gaggle of tan, blonde, screaming teenagers sequestered in the corner. Rapidly, each of them were snapped up by tentacles and suspended in the air above the monster’s gaping maws- it had three . The gleam of the cafeteria’s fluorescent lighting on uncharacteristically white, razor-sharp teeth knocked Lydia out of it. She had to do something and she had to do it now.

“Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!”

In less than a split-second, he was gone. There were several sickening cracks as Claire, Stacy, and a third girl whose name Lydia had never bothered learning fell nearly twenty feet to the ground. Fearing for their lives, Lydia quickly closed the distance between she and her bullies. Stacy was shrieking incomprehensibly, sitting up and clutching her leg which was bent at a horribly unnatural angle. She would be fine, then.

The nameless girl was eerily silent. Blood pooled beneath her unmoving head. Lydia struggled through her panic to search for what little practical first aid knowledge she had. She ripped off her blazer, bundled it beneath her head to elevate it, and lowered her ear to the girl’s mouth. A warm puff of breath hit her skin. She was alive. Thank God .

Claire was moaning low, writhing on the tile. One arm was wrapped around her middle while the other sat limp to the side, snapped like a twig. “Claire- Claire ,” Lydia urged, lifting a head of platinum blonde to rest in her lap in case she also sustained some kind of cranial trauma. Icy blue eyes fluttered, never settling on anything for more than a second. “Come on, can you hear me? What year is it? Who’s the president of the United States? Goddamnit , answer me, you stupid bitch!” This insult lacked the venom it usually carried when Lydia simply thought it. Instead, it was entrenched with desperation.

The sound of it must have struck a chord with Claire. Finally, glacial orbs found her. A cold fear filled them, so foreign to Lydia when compared to the biting malice they usually held. The blonde began to shake with terror, looking up at the girl who held her as though she were in the arms of the devil incarnate.

“Witch.” The conviction in her declaration was absolute. With that, Claire Brewster fell into unconsciousness.

In the end, the entire incident was written off as the result of a collective hallucination brought on by spoiled lunch food. School was let out early that day and the administration called off Friday as well, giving the students a three-day weekend in reparation for “lack of judgment on behalf of staff.” Nary a suspicious eye turned her way- none but Claire’s. Lydia would worry about her another time. For now, Betelgeuse would have to be seen to.

Why did he do that? He was going to be furious when she saw him again, she just knew it. Lydia was tempted to call him as soon as she left school, but nervousness prevented her. What if he was still on a rampage? No, it would be much safer to reach out to him through her mirror. Delia and her father received hastened half-hearted greetings while she scrambled up the steps, eager to speak with her husband. They didn’t seem to notice she when she came home earlier than usual either.

She cringed, hesitating before knocking on the glass. This wasn’t going to be fun. Knock. Knock. Knock . “Betelgeuse…?” Almost immediately, his sneering countenance came into view. She spoke first in a breathless rush, hoping to end his rant before it could begin. “Please don’t be mad at me.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

With a hissing scream like a deflating balloon, the ghost is summarily banished back to the Neitherworld just as his fangs of one of his heads were touching Stacy’s pretty face.

Being banished was probably one of the more frustrating parts of Betelgeuses’ miserable existence, but even more frustrating was the idea that he was stuck here, unable to follow through and protect Lydia . It was a confusing, new sensation, a new source of rage that he hadn’t considered prior to re-entering her life just a day prior. But, what is time, to the dead?

Anger came so easily to the poltergeist, and he was infuriated upon his return. He almost stormed down the entire roadhouse in his initial explosive anger at being unable to go back to the human world. How long would he be here? What line was it now that he had crossed? Most of his anger stemmed from confusion – the living had such an attachment to staying alive. It was so….. incomprehensible . And yet, who would want to be dead anyway? Certainly not he.

And anyway, she was just like the Maitlands.

How dare she interrupt a professional while he’s workin?!

It seemed like an eternity that he stormed, haunting his own damn house like a bad fever dream. He was about to take it out on the rest of the Neitherworld too, but eventually, he ran out of steam something like a child throwing a tantrum. And just like any child throwing a tantrum, it ended in frustrated tears, pounding the floor of his bedroom exhaustedly in his striped suit. Not many could imagine him crying, but this was a deal he had worked almost his entire afterlife for. And it was an angry sort of crying, involving punching, and kicking, and destruction. No one would see him like this but his empty, half-destroyed room now. To be thwarted in some manner again was wrenching, especially when, yet again, he was trying in his own misconceived way to do something ….good?…. for someone else.

Time dragged on. Betelgeuse was now in a full-blown sulk in the corner, utterly convinced he would never leave this place again. Why would she even try and call him back? He almost didn’t notice the knocking sound coming from his hand-mirror. It rattled and shook, and finally floated over to him, seemingly opening up the channel on its own. So, Lydia gets a really good face full of a sulky, sneering visage before she gets anything else, and he slowly turns towards the mirror with dark, almost black eyes that glitter as she speaks. Creepy.

“Lyds,” the ghost murmurs, after she rushes out her plea, his voice clearly hoarse. He struggles with what to tell her, no rant forming, clearly hesitating on a few things before settling with a genuinely worried, “You’re not gonna leave me in here, are ya?…..sweetheart…..?” he pauses, “I just…thought…them chicks were serious, see.” As if pleading to a higher deity and trying to convince it that his sins were small ones, insignificant ones, he speaks to his wife in this way. Please .

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Oh, thank all that was good and holy. He wasn’t mad at her. Yet . The desperation in his plea tugged at her heartstrings and made her hate herself for what she now had to do.

“Mm-mm,” she reassured immediately, shaking her head no and biting her lip, yet still neglected to say his name. “I just… Debbie’s skull is fractured.” It did not take Lydia long to learn the unconscious girl’s name. People began screaming it, as well as Claire’s and Stacy’s, as soon as it became clear that the “hallucination” had dissipated and the cafeteria was safe again. “And Claire and Stacy are pretty messed up, too. They’re going to be okay, but… I can’t…”

How could she honestly expect this to work? Betelgeuse was a ruthlessly savage being, prone to rapid mood swings that had the potential to turn lethal when gone unchecked, and… and… he was her husband, not her prisoner. She would be his keeper, but she would not be his jailer. Lydia only hoped he was able to recognize the distinction.

“I can’t… let you… hurt anyone, Betelgeuse.”

She ended with his name. That was twice. Maybe that would ease the sting. He didn’t do rules , and here she was taking it upon herself to impose the grandaddy of all stipulations. This was not a part of their deal. This was an infraction of their bargain; he saves her friends, she marries him, he’s granted his freedom. That’s that, end of story.

But… that wasn’t that, was it? He kissed her. He had made it abundantly clear that he had every intention of pursuing her romantically- and she implied that she would let him. That was a big infraction in Lydia’s book. It seemed fair to allow herself this breach in contract. Regardless of either of their desires, Lydia didn’t see herself as having much of a choice. He had stolen that from her She must do this.

“Primum non nocere,” she quoted softly in latin with closed eyes, before repeating in English and settling resolute honey orbs on his reflection. “’First, do no harm.’ I need you to promise me that you won’t hurt anyone again, B. Promise me , and I’ll never send you back again- that’s my promise in return. No matter how badly you fuck up or how mad I am at you, I will never take advantage of that power.”

In contrast to many of their previous conversations, Lydia kept her gaze level with his through most of her speech, willing him to please be reasonable just this once. “Deal?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghost is weirdly quiet as she explains herself, those eyes still dark. Despite his bargaining plea, his begging doesn’t match the expression on his face. He’s about to reply to that “let you” – who is she to let him do anything? He twists and picks at his fingers, though, his mind turning over and over, clearly thinking. She is, despite everything, in charge of his freedom at this point, and so his only bargaining chip is to reason with her. Just like in the cave, just like before he married her. She remains his control vector, and he shifts uncomfortably, frowning at the thought. Despite that, too, he does have a tugging, pulling need to protect her in a way beyond his obligation towards his freedom which he isn’t sure how to vocalize either. And he doesn’t like it. But he does like that those girls will never insomuch look at Lydia, nevermind talk that way to her again, despite her having a firm hand it seems on his proverbial leash.

She’s already said his name twice as if teasing him – it’s intended to take away the sting, but it only cements it. Like waving a treat in front of a dog, and he almost audibly sighs in impatience but somehow manages to stifle it. And it reaps a reward: she offers him a deal. Do no harm. He can’t hurt anyone, can he? His nasty little brain already pokes holes in her feeble attempt to keep him from chaos. He pulls a cigarette box out of his jacket pocket, clearing his nose with a hard, sort of gross phlegmy snort as if considering her offer. He lights the cigarette and it burns, those eyes still glittering, that intensity similar to when she first called him back.

“Sure,” he finally says, pulling himself into a more casual sitting position, “Sure, sure. I understand,” he says, holding up his hands, submissively. “I promise.”

His intonation is inscrutable and he agrees….fairly readily. Maybe too readily. But he did make the deal, and seems to be thusly waiting, adjusting his jacket in preparation to be re-released.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Betelgeuse,” she breathed out in a deep sigh of relief, freeing him. it was hard to believe that had actually gone as smoothly as it seemed. Lydia very highly doubted that this was the end of this particular issue, but the boundary had been set and terms were agreed to. That was enough for now.

Once he was back in her room, filling the entire space with his grandiose presence, Lydia found her demureness again. This was her husband who wanted to date and kiss her- and now he was standing in her bedroom with her. Alone. No plans, no expectations, no more deals to be made or fulfilled. Now what?

“I’m sorry it took me so long to get to you. I would’ve called earlier,” she explained ramblingly, nervousness showing as she crossed to the window to open it and release his cigarette smoke. Just like before, she lit incense to help chase it away- sandalwood for serenity. Hopefully, this would help calm any residual unease between them. Distrustfully, she hovered over it for a moment to make sure he didn’t put this one out either. “But I couldn’t get out. There was an assembly, the police were called, parents are furious- it was all a really big thing.”

Understandably so. Winter River’s crown princesses were viciously attacked by a monstrous apparition that no one had a viable explanation for. There was a disturbance in the atmosphere that couldn’t be ignored no matter how strange and unusual .

Just as Lydia was about to relay to him that he didn’t have to bully her bullies, she could take care of herself just fine, thank you very much- something occurred to her that hadn’t before. “Why… why were you there, anyway? I didn’t call you, did I?”

The last question was rushed, her cheeks just barely pinking. He was all that was on her mind at the moment. It wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that his name had formed on her tongue without her permission. Too late, Lydia realized her mistake. If he looked carefully enough, he might catch her slip and recognize exactly how much of an impact he was having on her. That was dangerous .

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

His entrance this time into her bedroom was much better organized. He wasn’t catapulted like before, but he billows in like a dark mist from within her mirror before reforming to his old, horrible self, sitting on her bed like a petulant gargoyle. As she rushes around lighting incense and describing the chaos, he watches her, studiously.

As she describes what happened at school, the ghoul grins a ghastly little grin. It’s the only thing that’s given him satisfaction beyond their deal, which he is careful not to mention again. “Well,” he says, smoothly, “Bygones be bygones.”

Had she seen him just an hour ago, frantically clawing, howling, shaking the walls, the epitome of wrathful energy…she would have immediately tagged that as a blatant lie. But she hadn’t, so he takes advantage of the opportunity to simply be reasonable. She did come to fetch him, after all. But, he’s being overly easy, perhaps. Perhaps.

He takes a long drag on his cigarette. “No,” he affirms, as she asks if she had called him to her school. In this way, he’s honest. But his honesty carries with it something a little less innocent, and a little less nice, “You didn’t have to. You let the cat out of the bag, remember?” he studies her some more, and does indeed get a very good idea about what kind of an impact he, and this, might be having on her. A dark part of him wriggles in pleasure, but there are many dark parts to him. And less dark, more impulsive parts. He’s almost tempted to tell her she has a beautiful singing voice. There goes that wriggle again.

“Come here,” he motions, his voice lowered, his eyes hooded, “And I’ll tell you a secret.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Let the cat out of the bag? What did that even mean? Before she could get any further explanation out of him he said something that made her knees lock and the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

“Come here, and I’ll tell you a secret.”

As if in protest at the mere suggestion, her feet turned to lead weights beneath her. Her senses sharpened and she became acutely aware of how very comfortable he looked on her bed. Oh, absolutely nothing good could come of this. Painfully aware of her trembling, sweaty palms, she clenched them in the material of her skirt and took that first step toward her doom. She stopped just before his knees; within arm’s reach, but probably not as close as he wanted.

What was the worst that could happen?

Large, apprehensive eyes settled on the cherry of his cigarette rather than his own. How she wished she was bold enough to steal it from his hand and take a deep drag of her own. God knows she needed it more than he did. He was so sure of himself, knew exactly what he was doing. Lydia didn’t have a clue. When he didn’t immediately speak- instead sucking down more smoke, seemingly basking in her nerves- she released her abused lower lip, shuffled just slightly closer, and whispered a barely audible, “Well?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He can practically smell her past the stench of his cigarette smoke as she suddenly freezes up. There .

That was it. The moment he turned from something she thought she had control over into something else. And as she makes her way over slowly, somewhat stiffly, he waits. If she was considering dictating terms of their relationship, he was going to have to blur some lines. You can’t tame a horse you haven’t properly ridden, and while she may have the reigns it’s quite clear she’s not been instructed on how to use them. So you think you’re very clever?

Her hands crumple into her skirt. Got you.

As she approaches his knees, and asks him, “Well?” he smiles like a cat and spreads them, and slowly encircles rough hands around her. One slips deftly around her middle, and the other entwines itself into that dark, luscious hair. It’s gentle at first, but once they’ve found purchase, the fingers in her locks tighten into a firm, squeezing grip. He pulls her to him in a singular movement, slow but insistent and without asking. Perhaps he’s expecting some resistance but not particularly worried about any, it seems. Because while his movements are slow and deliberate they are intensely strong and he leans in, almost curling over her small frame, to whisper into her ear.

“I know,” he nearly purrs, “That there isn’t a single part of you that was actually worried for them. You were worried for yourself, in that way, you and I are alike, little girl. But you thrilled at the idea they’d be snapped up, torn t’ shreds, yer heart can’t lie to me.”

He removes the cigarette from his lips using the hand formerly wrapped around Lydia’s waist and gently places the cigarette against her lips, knowingly, holding it there until she takes it.  The ring on his broad dirt rubbed hand glitters in her low bedroom light while the other hand in her hair remains gripped. Just enough to keep her relatively in place and assert how strong he can be, her arms are free enough, as is the rest of her.

“I know there are thorns in the brush that have pricked you, and I can see it every time I look into your eyes. I know you can sing like a bird from yer pretty little cage . And I know you’re no wilting, sad little flower waiting to be plucked,” his lips curl back to reveal those dirt stained yellowing teeth. He takes a slow breath of her hair, “And between us, the hunger is strong. Soon, you’ll grow tired of the unknowing.”

He releases her, then, completely - returning the exchange of his cigarette and leaning back.

“That’s what I know.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When he touched her, she turned to stone. Pliant, submissive stone- but stone all the same. Still sitting somewhat elevated on her bed, he was taller than her even while she stood. With slow, purposeful movements he drew her in- not quite as though he were concerned she might hit him, but prepared for it nonetheless. It was impossible to suppress the whimper that escaped when his long fingers curled and pulled at the base of her mane, only just so. Not a punishment so much as a reminder. Cold breath that stunk of bourbon and tobacco ghosted across her ear. Instinctively, she gasped at the icy sensation and turned her head, baring her throat in submission to the threat.

That voice of shadow and smoke grated across her eardrums, telling her his “secret.” No! She wanted to cry out her dissent and shake his arms away- but couldn’t. Not because his grip was too strong- and it was strong- but because something was burning inside of her and it wasn’t quite ready to stop yet. You’re wrong!

The gruesome images he painted for her with his cruel assumption of her character made her stomach turn, but not from squeamishness. She hated what he did to them. It absolutely killed her on the inside that Debbie- who had never once been outwardly cruel to her and was simply guilty by association- was now laying in a hospital bed because of her. The sound of the horrible agony in Stacy’s screams would not be leaving her any time soon. Claire was so mentally scarred by the incident that she now truly believed in her heart of hearts that Lydia was a witch and had sicced her monster on them.

Hadn’t she though? Wasn’t she?

Struck with a fresh wave of guilt, her knees buckled and she sucked in the smoke he offered eagerly, eyes clenching shut and mystifying with all new tears. She would not give these to him. He didn’t deserve them. More words came pouring out of his mouth, straight into her ear, but she couldn’t ignore them even if she tried. They were more accurate than the others, to a degree she wasn’t sure she was able to admit to herself.

“-I know you can sing like a bird from yer pretty little cage-”

At this, she stiffened again, not even realizing that over the course of his taunt she had gone from marble to putty in his arms- even when one of them ceased holding her. He watched her bathe- and thanks to their deal, there wasn’t shit she could do about it . It took a substantial amount of self-control to keep from sending him back out of pure spite. Her hands reclenched- into tight fists of rage, this time- and when he finally released her she made no attempts to back away. The practical knowledge that he wouldn’t even feel it was the only thing that kept her fist from crashing into his smug jaw.

Molten eyes burned, unshed tears forgotten. Nostrils flared. A goddess of rage stood before him, fearless of consequences.

“You don’t know anything about me ,” she corrected. Not with the petulance of someone who had been called out, but with the arrogance an individual who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were right. “But I know something about you ,” she mocked, taunting. “I know that you’re a selfish manipulative jerk who is so incredibly terrified of rejection that you couldn’t even produce the testicles necessary to ask me on a real date like a real man.”

Satisfied, she took a step back to let him ruminate on her accusation, somehow staring down at him despite the physical disadvantage. There. Her body language was taut, daring him to do something about it . Give her an excuse.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Well, that made her angry. He wasn’t particularly surprised this time, every attempt at making some sort of connection with her has insoforth worked out….half and half, at best. She liked it when he was honest with her, and so he was. Projecting his own savagery onto Lydia wasn’t nice, however, although the ghost was really in no mood to be nice anyway. And, it seemed, neither was she. Fucking teenagers .

“I know more about you than you think,” replies the ghost, slowly, his temper not matching hers, “I’m pretty dumb but I’m not that dumb, sweet’eart.” He had his explosive fit earlier and now he had settled into something more subtly malicious and playful especially after the incredibly unwise deal she had just made with him. At her latter insult, he laughed, genuinely finding it quite funny. It was a full toss of his head, gleeful cackle, too. “Accurate, m’little spitfire,” is all he says, as she stands defiantly between his knees. He takes a drag of his cigarette. His eyes gleam. He likes her at extremes, and this is probably not the healthiest thing…but it seems he can provoke her into a wide range of emotions, and none of them are predictable. It’s immensely entertaining. He almost hopes she hits him just like she’s threatening to do with that fisted hand clenched at her side.

He adds, cigarette clenched between his teeth, holding out his arms in self-effacing anger, “You wouldn’t wanna go on a goddamn date with me, anyway. Who dates a guy like me?” the world has been an unkind stranger to this prowling, hurt beast, and he has subsequently lashed out for so many millennia – and it drips in his tone.  He holds up his hands, “Fine. I’ll humor you. Lydia Geuse-Deetz - you like that? I thought that was pretty good, y’know Geuse isn’t really my last name , will you go on a date with me?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Yes,” she snapped back without any hesitation, still full of passion. “I will! Was that so hard? Ugh!” Scowling, she turned her back on him to sit back down at her vanity and brush out her windblown hair, all the while grumbling under her breath. Something about stupid boys and their stupid pride and unfairness. His laughter only served to pour gasoline over her rage. “Shut up.” There was still a simmering fury there, but it was markedly calmed.

An angry blush discolored her cheeks and she ran the brush through her locks roughly, glaring at her own reflection. How did he get to sit there all calm and nonchalant as though nothing had just occurred between them? Bastard. “Take my first kiss,” she growled inaudibly, ripping the bristles through her hair viciously, “take my first date and don’t have the balls to tell me it’s a date,” she separated her mass of raven hair into two equal portions hanging over either side of her shoulders, “spy on me in the bath,” her fingers worked quickly and methodically, arranging the locks into twin braids, “lose your goddamn mind and attack a bunch of little girls, you coward,” her volume rose here, rubbing it in that she wanted him to hear it. Lydia’s tongue was loosening the more she worked herself up.

“You stay right there,” she ordered with a glare as she made for the closet to change out of her uniform. She couldn’t go on a date in that hideous thing. The blue plaid accentuated her pale complexion in a way that Lydia did not find at all flattering. She instead donned a simple black sundress, her favorite, most worn pair of combat boots, and an equally worn leather jacket that was much too big for her.

With all the contempt of cat that had recently had its first bath, she presented herself to him; arms crossed defiantly over her chest, black-painted lips still twisted into a scowl. “Now take me on a date and make it a good one. You owe me.”

Chapter Text

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It takes Betelgeuse a good half a minute to realize she’s acquiesced to a date. She’s already storming away, grumbling, telling him to shut up – cutting off his laughter and leaving him blinking. The cigarette almost falls out of his mouth. If he could throw his hat, he would. WOMEN!!!

And then she starts blaming him – leaving him gawping. Accept date. Then yell at him? He can’t decide if he wants to laugh or kick something. He doesn’t reply right away, just letting her go on about it, his expression absolutely perplexed – baffled – and he eventually settles on a shrug, and a grin.

“Hey hey hey,” he eventually mutters something of a response to her last hiss about his attack, hardly expecting her to listen, “Those chicks mean it. And they deserved it, after hurting you – and threatening you with even more of the same. Babes, by keeping you safe I keep me safe, okay?” he puts it into terms she can understand – him being selfish, because of course he is. She said so. And it’s just true.

He settles into silence again though, as she orders him to stay on the bed, and so he makes another face and stays where he is, peering after her as she storms into her closet. As she marches back out in the sundress, his eyebrows shoot up to the top of his head. It isn’t fair to verbally berate him and then come angrily out at him looking like that .

“Uh,” he says, intelligently. This time, the cigarette does fall out of his lips and into his hands, where it burns the hell out of his fingers and he’s left flailing and cursing, trying to both catch the damn thing and put it out. He eventually manages it and glowers fiercely at the girl who stands there so defiantly, and sexily, and …. and… gah! “Hang on,” he says, holding up a finger, and trying to push the various voices that scream around inside his brain throwing up images of her biting him, her hands in his jacket, grabbing that leather coat and pulling her, and so on. She wants….to go…. Somewhere. On a date. Right. Date needs location maybe she’ll step on your neck in those shitkickers god…dammit!

He manages to quell the voices by not looking directly at her visage for a good moment, fiercely chewing on a knuckle, before turning back to her and trying to look maybe over her shoulder in order to fucking focus. What the fuck do the living do on dates? He showed her his best Neitherworld spot. “Well,” he says slowly, carefully, trying to keep his hands occupied because they feel like they’re going to jump off his wrists and grab her everywhere, “Your place or min—shit. Neitherworld—or your world, darlin’?” he recovers. Good. Phew.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

His immediate acquiescence to her demand calmed her fire. “Neitherworld,” she answered stiffly, nodding once. Nothing up here could possibly be as fun or interesting as anything down there. “And I don’t want to hear any bullshit stories about your ‘juice not working.’ I expect an edible meal to be provided and to be returned home by midnight-” unless we’re just having that much fun.

Lydia found it unwise to vocalize this loophole. She also couldn’t bring herself to care about the way he was glaring at her. Obviously, he was out of his element and was not at all pleased with her forcing him into this role, but that was his problem. If he was going to insist on seducing her, then she would insist he do it properly.

“Oh, Lydiaaa! Come downstairs, your father wants to speak with you!”

Delia’s voice sounded from downstairs, itching at her ears through the thick barriers of wood. She cringed at the sound of it. Apparently, her father and stepmother had chosen this moment to remember that she existed. Scoffing and rolling her eyes like the teenager she was, she mumbled an obligatory “one minute” in Betelgeuse’s direction and departed from her room to see what it was that they wanted.

“Pumpkin!” Her father greeted her once she reached the bottom landing, before drawing her into a tight hug and kissing the top of her head. Lydia squirmed until she was released. “Are you okay? I just listened to the voicemail from your principal, why didn’t you tell us what happened? Apparently, there was some kind of food poisoning… and some students were attacked…?”

Lydia faltered, scrambling for a decent response. “Yeah- I mean, it wasn’t that bad-” it was worse . “Some girls started screaming and crying- seeing things and attacking each other. I didn’t really eat much so… I guess that’s why… it didn’t affect me…?” She paused expectantly, seeing if he would take the bait. Lydia really was a terrible liar.

He did. A deep scowl marred Charles Deetz’s face and he stood a bit taller, stepping into his ruthless businessman persona. “Unacceptable,” he snapped, already halfway up the stairs toward his study. “For the amount of money they’re extorting, the very least I can expect is safe food for my daughter. Don’t you worry, pumpkin. Daddy’s gonna get his lawyer on the phone and then they’ll see who they’re messing with.”

“Dad-” she called out to him, distressed. “You don’t have to-” The door slammed. He was already beyond hearing her, like any other normal day in the Deetz household.

“Lydia!” Delia called brightly as she came around the corner, before cringing at her stepdaughter’s appearance. “Don’t you look… lovely… ” Well, that hurt. Lydia didn’t give a good God damn what Delia thought about her appearance, but it was painful seeing the clear distaste in those judgmental blue eyes all the same. “Are you going somewhere? Are you not making dinner tonight? Again?” There was a sort of fear in the crinkle of her stepmother’s brow, be it from the idea of starving or being forced to cook a meal herself- Lydia couldn’t tell.

“Actually,” she replied importantly, smugly, knowing that this would shock the despised redhead, “I’m going on a date. So no, I’m not cooking dinner tonight. You and Dad are on your own.”

To her delight, Delia’s face fell in horror. Then, she started talking again and Lydia’s self-satisfied pleasure faded away into something much less pleasant. “ What?! With who? One of the boys from the boys’ school, I’m assuming. Well, that means he’s rich and you can’t go out with one of those boys looking like that . Those boys have certain standards and expectations and- and- Lydia, where are you going? I’m trying to help you! Lydia? Lydia!”

Her bedroom door slammed at her back and she met her date’s gaze. Once more she was made entirely of fire and brimstone. At least it wasn’t aimed directly at him this time. “I’m ready to go.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As Lydia’s parents broke the weird, tense mood, Betelgeuse was mildly relieved for once. It also meant that he could watch Lydia walk away, which was a pretty nice view in his very studied opinion. He only barely resisted the urge to pinch her butt, but the door closes before he manages it…probably for the best.

His juice might work too well, in this instance, and he snorts to himself. Idly, he scuffs his fingers against his jacket, briefly, and then decides to do what he always does – spy on her . Well, “overhear” the conversation, really. He leans against her bedroom door in a half-crouch and uses a bit of his powers in order to bring the sound to him.

Oh Charles. Chuck. Chuckie. Spoiling for a fight, are we? The ghost chuckles to himself. The chaos he caused at Lydia’s school definitely upset her, but it made Betelgeuse filled with wrathful glee. Go get ‘em, tiger. Hahahahha! What a fuckin’ idiot, tilting at fucking windmills.

And then Delia’s voice lilts into the picture, and he listens even harder. This couldn’t get any better. Lydia explains herself, and the ghost practically dances with mischievous joy. He chuckles and chuckles to himself. Oh, Delia. If only you knew, you uptight twit. Those boys wouldn’t even begin to handle that daughter of yours. It takes a grown man to unlock that box. He growls though, at her insinuation that Lydia was dressed as anything but date material. The ghosts’ standards are certainly different than that of a prep school jock, admittedly, but give the girl a fuckin’ break, would ya?

As their conversation seems to end, the ghost quickly tip-toes back to the bed and resumes whatever position he was in previously, trying to look as casual and disinterested as possible. As Lydia’s wrathful presence slams through the door, it actually does make him jump in a startled fashion, not expecting her to be so enraged, oddly. He gives her an awkward, too-innocent smile and claps his hands together. “Sure! Sure.”

The ghost stands and summons a door for a second time. He’d use Lydia’s mirror, but he’s not sure how much she’d enjoy climbing onto her own furniture and it didn’t seem like an awesome time to test her. He opens the door for her, and whistles into the inky blackness. Within a moment or two, the happy grumble of the all too familiar vehicle from earlier makes itself known and it hovers just outside the door, beneath the threshold, waiting for Lydia to step directly into it. Betelgeuse doesn’t change for their date, but he does have a rotting carnation in his pocket now at least. “Ladies first.”

Once secure inside the vehicle, they fly off into the blackness until the muted purples of that unnatural otherworldy sky start to surround them. Those strange clumps of floating land pass by underneath, but this time the ghost flies lower and joins the other cars on the road. From this vantage point, the girl at his side can get a very picturesque look at the Neitherworld denizens and architecture up close. Weird buildings with odd angles jut out from a broken, winding sidewalk. Everything is strangely colored, including the figures roaming the streets. Some are fish people with hooks hanging out of their mouths. Some are like swiss cheese. Some are simply the walking dead, buying groceries, living a strange parallel life to the one they had when they were alive. With his arm hanging out of the side of the car, Betelgeuse drives slowly, casually, letting her see all this peculiar wildlife and environment. The highway they merge onto eventually arcs up and away from the edges of that cityscape, and they drive for some time until they hit another one. This one, though, leads into something of an empty lot and a giant screen, with many, many cars of strange and quirky variety parked in front of it. One car, in particular, holds a giant tentacled multiple-eyed monster of some sort, cuddled up to another one of similar nature.

“Romantic, isolated caves aren’t your thing, soooo….” the ghost asserts, “…..I’m kinda hopin’ you at least like movies. I think this one is uh…. Gore-Met Zombie Chef From Hell , where dining out is a permanent experience .” He wriggles his fingers at her, “Spoooooky.”

An unamused waitress quickly skates up to the car door, and the ghost cranks the window down. Clearly, she had died doing something like this, and was even buried in her damn waitress uniform potentially, streaked with the imprint of a car tire. “Welcome to the Rick R. Mortis drive-in, where people and great movies never die,” she prattles, tonelessly, “I’ll take ya order, what’ll’it be?”

Betelgeuse turns to Lydia and mentions, “They have stuff like uh, scream sundaes, haunt dogs, corn on the cobweb, popcorn n’ maggot butter, chocolate roach bites….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia could scarcely tear her face away from the window the entire ride. His vehicle lacked a speedometer, so there was no way of knowing how fast they were going, how much distance was being traversed. They looped and swerved, taking sharp turns and jumping over gaping chasms in their path. There was so much to see, but it was all moving too fast. Her fingers itched for her camera- she was kicking herself for forgetting it again- though she knew they were moving too quickly for her to be able to capture anything. Just a swirling canvas of lights and color in constant motion.

Maybe he could summon it for me if I asked. She threw him a considerate sideglance, biting her lip, before vetoing the idea. After the torrent of emotions she’d unleashed on him, it was probably best not to ask for any more favors so soon. Eventually, the car slowed and Lydia was able to make out her surroundings with clarity. There were dead people everywhere! As well as individuals that Lydia was hard-pressed to consider “human.” They roamed in and out of establishments, some with shopping bags in their arms, still bearing the marks of their deaths. Their flesh was pallid with the loss of blood, ranging in all shades of blue and violet. One woman, in particular, caught Lydia’s attention. What appeared to be a cellphone was tucked between her ear and shoulder, and Lydia couldn’t help but wonder how she managed to carry on a conversation without her jaw.

The buildings themselves were a marvel. The architecture varied wildly in style from building to building. Some were ancient and carved from clay, with no doors or windows. Just roughly hewn rectangular holes for patrons to exit and enter through. These were clearly the oldest businesses on the block. Others were towering monuments of chrome and magic, impossible spools of light and three-dimensional holograms sporting advertisements of what was sold inside. She was torn from a commercial for a perfume that claimed to smell like real, fresh blood! To attract that special vampire you’ve had your eyes on- when Betelgeuse turned a corner, the tinny voice fading into nothing as they departed from the populated area.

Soon, they pulled into what could only be the Neitherworld’s version of a drive-in theater. It wasn’t until he parked and gave her the name of the movie they were about to see that Lydia realized she was just sitting there with a big, dumb grin on her face, staring at everything. She couldn’t get enough

“I have no problem with romantic, isolated caves, thank you very much,” she corrected haughtily. An amused smirk curled black lips, telling him that any wrongdoing on his part had already been forgotten in the wake of all the exotic sights and sounds. “So long as I’m not there under false pretenses .”

Lydia’s stomach turned uneasily as he listed off items on the menu. Everything sounded absolutely atrocious and not at all edible- but the scream tarts had been delicious . Throwing caution to the wind, she made her choice. “Uhm… I would like a… scream sundae and a haunt dog, please,” she told the waitress politely, smiling sweetly.

“Scaramel or hot sludge, honey?”

“What would you recommend?” Lydia inquired, honestly curious.

A spark of life entered her dead eyes as she considered the living girl’s question. It was clearly not often anyone asked her opinion. “Between you and me,” she offered conspiratorily, leaning a little closer in, “the hot sludge is a little fresh . You’d be better off with scaramel.”

“Scaramel it is then,” Lydia decided, giving the woman a smile so bright she had no choice but to return it with a bemused grin of her own.

“Alrighty,” she marked off the order in a notepad and turned her attention to Betelgeuse, “and what’ll tall, dark, and moldy over here have?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse barely suppresses a roll of his eyes as Lydia instantly charms the waitress into a better mood. Ugh . Of course, they all like her. He internally wishes they’d all die again as he scowls and drums his fingers on the steering wheel. Lydia places her order and he sniffs at the waitress’ description of him. He knows he looks good, lady.

“Chocolate covered beetle bites. Light on the chocolate. And uh, I’ll have a large muck-sucker, extra lumps.”

“Sure thing honey,” she finishes writing in the pad, and skates off through the cars.

The ghost turns to his car companion, who looks …. happy, at least. Okay, so he did alright, right? Right. He adjusts his jacket and loosens his arms through his sleeves. “This movie’s a real stinker,” he says, tilting himself towards her just a little to explain, as the reel starts to play on the giant screen ahead of them. “Most of it looks like it took place in the director’s house and was shot with a hand cam, there’s a topless girl scene where even the dude in the scene just ignore them? Inexplicable shots of limbs. The basic plot is cannibals, but …that kinda…eehhh,” he waves his hand back and forth. “There’s a magic arm fight, though. Like, weird Jedi shit. Priests, something-something. The blood looks like tabasco sauce,” he pauses, then adds, “Good choice on the food by the way, I think you’ll like it, it’s a lot like the scream-cakes you uh, ate.” Yep, doubly sure he was spying on her now. Way to go.

It’s clear this one has watched a lot of movies. Maybe media is how he interacts with most of the world, keeps up to the changing eras. “I love a bad movie. What’s your fave movie, babes?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Fortunately, his slip went right over Lydia’s head. Not that it was news that he couldn’t be trusted keeping his eyes to himself.

“My favorite movie?” Lydia repeated, mind going blank. “Oh gosh, I don’t know… Give me a minute…” She chewed on her thumb, brow furrowed cutely while considering her vast options. “Well obviously Night of the Living Dead is the best zombie film of all time, but favorite? Hmm… Sinister is amazing, that one even got a scream out of Delia… God, Insidious was freaking great, but the sequels really dragged it down…”

She continued on in this fashion naming several more titles and their various positive attributes, but never really answering the question, until the characters on the screen started talking. Here, she quieted, training her gaze forward and listening intently. B-horror movies weren’t something that generally struck her interest. When she sought out horror, she was looking for a thrill. She never got it, of course, but that didn’t stop her from trying. It had never even occured to her that a piece of media of such poor quality would have anything to offer her, much less humor. Comedy just wasn’t something that Lydia prioritized.

But this… this was ridiculous .

“They look-” she snorted indelicately, slapping a hand over her mouth as if it might take back the ugly noise, “- like a bunch of nerds playing Magick the Gathering! Oh, wow. This is bad. This is really, really bad.” The stream of giggles that followed this observation belied that she didn’t actually give a damn. Soon, the waitress returned with their food, leaving them with another smile before putting her toneless, emotionless mask back on for the other patrons.

There didn’t appear to be much difference between a hot dog and a “haunt dog.” The bun was gray, but it smelled and felt normal. The condiments were purple and green, but when she tentatively touched her tongue to it, licking the tip of the meat, all she tasted was mustard and ketchup. This was all the motivation Lydia needed to take a voracious bite, hunger chasing away any leftover trepidation. The scaramel was similarly edible, if a bit more… vocal than she was used to.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Wheeze . Once she’s…. licked the condiments off her face (the ghost was more than halfway tempted to lick ‘em off for her…) he is able to vaguely re-compose himself. Sorta. He replies, anyway, “Of course it’s a double feature, babes. Second one is uh…. The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Vincent Price, Lyds. Can’t beat that, right?”

At her remark about the living world not having many drive-ins, he nods. “Well, here in the Neitherworld, it’s kinda one of the only things you can do for good entertainment. I mean, other than shoppin’.”

The ghost lights another cigarette and drapes his arm out the open window. One of the oddest things about the Neitherworld, of course, was its….strange lack of weather, or temperature. Wherever you were, it was perfect – never too hot, or cold, or anything. The air, minus crazy errant hurricanes, is always somewhat still, like being indoors without actually being so. So, when your windows were down at a drive through, it was just….pleasant. Nothing more, nothing less. It may be why the ghost startles just a little as Lydia starts to take off her shoes, and jacket, leaving her in that very light day dress and pigtails.

She is trying to kill him all over again. Of this, Betelgeuse is fairly certain. He would claw his own face in frustration but she’s also having a good time and he is finally doing things right with her, and that’s a pretty damn big accomplishment for a ghoul that’s barely even housetrained. Even though he’s fairly certain she has to know what she’s doing . So he settles for taking his ire out on the film, making the girl laugh. Every time she does, something funny twists in his chest. And she’s funny too, she has a biting sense of humor when she wants, and Betelgeuse has decided quite thoroughly that he likes it. Dating is just a slow, funny death or something though. It must be. Some part of this is agonizing in a way that the ghost can’t describe.

“I know where Vincent Price lives, yanno. He’s famous ‘round these parts, just like when he was alive. We’re not on speakin’ terms or anythin’. I’ve done him a couple favors here n’ there.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Oh, I love that one,” she gushed, sitting up a bit straighter in her excitement, curling her legs in tighter. The slight movement made her the light fabric of her skirt gather further into her lap, exposing her knees to the pleasant Neitherworldian atmosphere. There wasn’t quite a breeze, but the air wasn’t still either. It was just… nice. “Vincent Price is my favorite actor in the history of film ever. Hands down. Point blank. Period. His performance in The Pit and the Pendulum was just…” Lydia blinked, shaking her head jerkily as though she were overcome with emotion. “There are no words. Pure magic.”

His horribly nonchalant mention of actually knowing the Vincent Price, however, was too much.

“What?!” Like that, Betelgeuse had her complete attention. She turned so that she was mostly facing him, eyes large with disbelief. “Shut up, you did not do any favors for Vincent freaking Price, you liar!” Despite what she was saying, her tone bubbled with delight at the prospect that he might be telling the truth. Needing to know more, a barrage of questions immediately followed her skeptical outburst. “What’s he like? Is he nice? Oh, please tell me he’s nice, I couldn’t bear it if he was a jerk! Can I meet him? No- no, no, I shouldn’t meet him. He probably avoids fans all day long, I don’t want to be annoying… but maybe if I was really cool about it- No. No, it’s a bad idea… right?”

Without meaning to, the girl had leaned just that much further toward the driver’s side of the car with each frenzied question. Lydia became acutely aware of this when she glanced up after asking her last question and found herself nearly face to face with her husband. Her breath hitched. If the lighting was better, she was sure he would have been able to see the vivid color in her cheeks.

“I mean,” she squeaked, before dropping her hindquarters back into her seat and fiddling with the skirts gathered in her lap. The end credits for Gore-met, Zombie Chef From Hell began rolling, casting an even dimmer glow over the rows of parked cars. “It’s just an idea.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Alright, time to play it cool. She’s clearly wound up, and the thing that’s twisting around in the ghosts’ chest is almost purring about it. He is an artful, skillful liar in many ways….but, this one happens to be surprisingly true. So, he’ll unwind that reel slowly because like most interactions with Betelgeuse, he was not actually helpful to poor Vincent Price, in fact it was quite the opposite and hence why he mentioned the two are not on speaking terms . That will have to be carefully edited. Betelgeuse has met the ghost of many a celebrity – like it says on their currency, mors vincit omnia and once you die…well, it’s all the same.

We all float down here .

Some find him delightful when rubbing elbows – Mae West and Douglas Kenney come to mind, Barbara Britton has a secret admiration for him, others would love to see his head on a pike. Hanging out with him is like slumming – he’s gauche, tacky, boorish, and a troublemaker . His name is well known, however, in certain circles. If you want a particularly nasty job done, and done messily, he’s your guy. But making a deal with him is like making a deal with a monkey’s paw. You never know how things will turn out.

And right now, he’s entirely unsure as to how this will turn out, but active murder is occurring in this car. He would scream for help but has a strange idea that other people would look at him funny. So he takes a big hit on his cigarette and leans towards the window slightly as she wets her pants over Vincent Price, just for some…air, and when he turns back he suddenly finds her directly in his face. His eyes widen. He can feel the worst decision forming in his brain. He’s determined that what he wants to do is in direct opposition to whatever Lydia wants, but he’s definitely feverish by now. She can probably see it.

Some part of his lizard brain was vaguely paying attention to her ramblings about meeting Vincent Price, and the ghost winces. “Uh, yeah —-“ he mutters, vaguely, as she plops back into her seat, “I can take you to meet ‘em. Anytime this week. You name the time, we’ll do it.”

There’s a weird pause, but the ghost finally invades Lydia’s space and slides an arm around his wife’s shoulders, and gives her a good, firm squeeze. Proximity first. “It’ll be fun. Just you n’ me. And Pricey boy. He is very…. Well, he’s got the patience of a saint ,” he breathes into her ear. And that’s true. Are those fingers tangling in her hair? He probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. But he’s awfully close now. Distraction. “You know the titty sphinx sculptures on one of the altars in The Red Death ? I have a replica of one of ‘em in my—-” crypt? Grave? Juno-banishment-chamber? “—uh, apartment.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Oh. Oh, this was terribly romantic. Everything she ever thought she wanted, really. The movie was hilarious, the food delicious- if a bit unorthodox, and her date had been nothing less than attentive and courteous. Well, as courteous as she could expect Betelgeuse to be, anyway. He was dangerously charming when he wanted to be, and apparently, he wanted to be charming right now.

His icy breath kissed her ear while filthy talons dug their way into one of her loose braids, mussing, pulling it out in places. Gooseflesh rose on every inch of exposed flesh. She tried to suppress a shiver, but her body wasn’t in any mood to be reasonable. Why did this feel so wrong? Everything was perfect. Too perfect. Maybe she just wasn’t built for happiness, and that’s why that haunt dog was doing flips in her stomach. He wasn’t bad looking, not really. Some people might disagree with her, but Lydia wasn’t one to care about other people’s opinions. As a matter of fact, in the dim glow of the screenlight, he almost looked… handsome…?

“That’s- uh… That’s… really cool ,” she admitted not at all smoothly, feeling very much like she didn’t belong, that it was time for her to go home and be lonely again. “I’d love to see it, and him. I mean… but only if it’s really okay…” She made no moves to shuck off his arm or squirm away, despite her screaming fight-or-flight instincts. This was allowed, wasn’t it? He was her husband- who wanted to date and kiss her . It didn’t feel real. It was almost as though she was waiting for the ball to drop, for everything to go to hell the way it always does. This many nice things just didn’t happen to her in such quick succession. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong.

“Can I- uh…?” She didn’t wait for an answer, not sure if her frazzled nerves could handle any more harsh whispers directly in her ear. Nimble fingers stole the cigarette right from his hand. It was wrapped around black lips before Lydia took a greedy drag. A smooth stream of smoke expelled from her lungs. She dipped her head away and to the side to save her poor, sensitive ear from any further attention, took another deep hit, and gave him back his smoke. He preferred full flavors. Lydia herself favored menthol whenever she deigned to dirty her pristine lungs with carcinogens, but she wasn’t about to complain. Still, she couldn’t help the face she made at the perfectly non-minty taste. “Thanks.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He can feel her shiver, and despite her intentions to the contrary, he can also feel her tense just enough under his touch. He can’t say he doesn’t like it, just a little. She also hasn’t hit him or pushed him away, or insulted him quite yet, so that’s …. permission, in his language. It definitely isn’t considered the same by anyone else of course, but this is Betelgeuse and he’s been a bachelor his entire life and afterlife for a reason . Beyond that, he’s a nuisance of the highest order.

This is a new sort of exploration, too. He’s never tried doing this the genuine, and honest way…or dating, or subscribing to any cultural norms at all, and he still sort of isn’t – his intentions aren’t pure, that’s certain. Internally he wants to eat her alive but he’s settling for idly fumbling with her hair and seeing what he can get away with, it seems.

He’s not all that concerned, either, as to whether or not she finds him handsome, though there’s a part of him that supposes it would be nice if she did. He knows he’s the best looking ghost this side of the Neitherworld…or so he tells himself… but usually, an inflated ego means a disastrous lack of self-esteem. He knows he’s gross, too, but that’s what being dead will get you. That and the insects he eats. And the lack of exercise. And…okay okay, he’s a fuckin’ slob. Jesus .

His brain swims with a thousand bad ideas, but he’s walking on thin ice and he knows it. Too much pushing and she could break their deal and banish him. It isn’t his fault that this turned into something else, something beyond a marriage of inconvenience. Right? Right. So, with that settled, those grubby claws of his untangle one of her braids completely, even though it’s a shame to lose such a lovely little handlebar.

She reaches for his cigarette and snatches it up before he can answer, which he seems to be fully accepting of. It’s normal for girls to be nervous around such an amazing dead guy, so it’s obvious why she needs a smoke. Ha. Right. He starts working on undoing her second braid, idly, as he purrs into her ear again. “Yeah. Sure, ’s fine,” he replies, regarding Vincent Price. He catches the face she makes, though, and chuckles low in his throat. “Menthol is your demon of choice huh? Never liked the stuff. Lots of people degrade my full flavor ways but ah…. A man likes what ‘e likes.”

At the last, he runs his claws down the nape of her neck even as she ducks away, clearly inferring something else as the second braid is undone. He enjoys this hair of hers, its thick, and highly grabbable, as he discovered earlier. He refrains from that now, but instead simply runs his fingers through that luxurious bounty, stroking it fondly as if he had plans for it later. The titles for Dr. Phibes roll by and he pulls her to him gently, apparently fully prepared to settle in that way whether or not she was going to be particularly receptive. He never considered himself exactly cuddly at all, but apparently, he’s willing to make an exception in order to just hold her. She’s warm and soft, and the potential is there for her to get used to this if he does it right.

Every time its prey breathes out, a python squeezes harder, after all, inch by tiny inch, until they’re overwhelmed and the python gets its way.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Hey-” she objected weakly once she realized what he was doing to her braids, but the little bands that bound them had already been slung out the window and beyond her reach. Dick . She might have asked why if he didn’t immediately answer the question with his roaming hands, clawed fingers lightly scratching her scalp at the top of each raking stroke.

It was much too much. She was going to panic . The car was too small. Her breaths started to come in sharper, painfully shallow. Then, as if sensing the impending fit, he pulled her in close to his side of the car and anchored her to his chest with an immovable arm. Rather than feeling trapped, Lydia derived a bizarre sense of being grounded. It was comforting in a way that could almost be deemed obscene, especially if the girl were privy to the loathsome thoughts running through her captor’s head.  

Instead of indulging the fight response, she allowed her cheek to sink against his jacket, right where his heart would be. Thinking that he probably couldn’t see her face from his vantage point, she allowed herself a moment of weakness. Honey eyes drifted closed- she’d seen this movie a hundred times- her breathing slowly but surely returned to normal, and she willed her body to please stop shaking like that, it was so fucking embarrassing . She kept her arms pinned between them, hands curled beneath her collarbone even though it would have been more physically comfortable to indulge, to allow one to come and rest casually across his gut.

Somewhere along the way, his petting stopped making her cringe. She came to expect the slow, patterned caresses and the predictable weight of his hand atop her head. It would have been jolting if he deviated in any way. Vincent Price’s daunting, powerful voice promising vengeance for his beloved was able to coax her eyes back open. The familiar picture inspired a deeper calm. It was reminiscent of rainy days spent safely under the covers, binging the classics.

This was okay. She was okay.

Slow and shy, maybe unaware that she was even doing it, a thin pale arm took up mantle across his chest, tiny fist curling around the lapel of his suit jacket. Her strung tight body eased- ever so excruciatingly slowly- melting until she was a pile of pliant limbs against him. Somewhere beneath layers of stripes, mold, bone, and decay, she might have heard an impossible, barely there thump.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Precious trembling girl. He had to walk a tightrope with this one, but it was worth it . As she finally eases into settling against him, he can’t help but look terribly pleased with himself. That’s one breath out. And the python squeezes again, figuratively. She seems to enjoy the petting, too, and he keeps that steady and rhythmic. If there’s one thing the ghost is good at, it’s getting the unwary to trust him, and this is no exception. Definitely harder work – he wasn’t a sensitive type, but he learns quickly enough. Sort of. He’s good at scheming, at least.

If her arm sank across his belly he’d known he’d had her then – but it doesn’t, so he keeps his movements relatively safe, coaxing her into a lull. And she does, eventually, melting against him like a relaxed feline…except it is him who is internally purring. His heart may have indeed responded to this, her arm curled along his chest, the warmth of her slight form curved against his side with a distant thump – once, perhaps twice, he doesn’t much pay attention to a long ago memory of biological processes except when he’s attempting to affect drama of some kind. But his body still responds to some things.

After a good few moments of this, the ghost is quite certain she’s dozed off. While she wakes, briefly, to Vincent Price’s voice, she has completely gone lights out otherwise…and it’s deep. The living need sleep and Betelgeuse is always forgetting those sorts of things. Circadian rhythms are long lost to him. But this provides the opportunity to pounce, just a little, and he waits to be entirely certain she’s deeply asleep before he moves. And it’s slow, gradual, slipping his cigarette silently into his alternate hand and using his free one to ease the bench seat back. Carefully and smoothly to ensure he doesn’t wake her, he lowers it just enough to have her fully roll against him.

His tongue grazes his chapped lips in satisfaction, his attention quite fully focused now and intent on having a little fun. He greedily dances his fingers from her nape down her spine, tracing it, moving his hand down Lydia’s side almost reverently. He palms slowly, but firmly at her hips, which are just developing the soft womanly padding along their surface that demonstrates her age, just before the cusp of true adulthood. She’s delicious to touch, and if the ghost had any less of a leash around his slimy nape he’d have already had her by now. A greasy, self-satisfied grin spreads across his features. As long as she doesn’t wake up, he’s safe; so he goes from her hips to her buttocks and thighs, that day dress barely covering them, the flesh so soft and pliant under his dirt-stained fingers, carefully making sure his claws don’t dig too much. He is severely tempted to go after the little feet that now tangle against his thigh, but he barely manages to convince himself that any sensation too intense would indeed wake her up.

He’s quiet, slow about it, but the more he grabs at her the more wound up he slowly, but surely becomes, and eventually with a suppressed grunt and clenched teeth he has to pull back from her prone form. Control has never been his strong suit, but any further and it would be quite irreparable – and he couldn’t explain it away. Frowning, cursing silently, his nostril curled in furious unreleased agony, Betelgeuse snaps his fingers all at once. In an instant, they are no longer in the car in the drive-thru or in the Neitherworld at all. Instead, they’re back in Lydia’s room, securely on her bed instead of leaned back on car seats. And she’s still asleep.

With a hard sigh of frustration, the ghost untangles himself from the girl, ever so gently. He rolls off the bed and stands over her, gazing at her with an inextricable look on his face for a few moments before kneeling over her and whispering, “Brought you home on time, darlin’. Just like you asked….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Brought you home on time, darlin’. Just like you asked….”

A gruff whisper called to her, delving through the miasma of slumber to draw her forward into consciousness. Hazy, unfocused eyes fluttered open, already adjusted to the darkness that blanketed her bedroom. The shadows were only granted a reprieve by scant moonbeams filtering through the edge of her curtains. He was the first thing she saw.

“B…” She started to say his name, but when she distantly remembered that she had promised not to, her sleep-addled mind twisted it into something else. “Beej?“

He was hovering over her, one arm planted firm and erect beside her head, making her pillow dip. Confused, thoughtlessly seeking comfort, she took his wrist in a weak grip. “Is the movie over?” Her normally lilting voice was rough with sleep, laced with dream dust. She knew without needing to hear his answer that it was, and she had missed it. “Oh, noo,” she frowned, brows furrowed in disappointment. “I missed it.”

Nevermind that she’d seen it countless times, she’d never seen it like that before. Who knew if she ever would again?

“I fell asleep on you,” she intoned as if realizing it for the first time, in that wispish way that all freshly woken people spoke. “Did you carry me here?” There was a pang of guilt coloring her query. The words he huffed at her on the beach, when he saved her from the storm and cursed the burden of her weight, came back to her in a mortifying rush. The idea that she had inadvertently inconvenienced him was unpleasant. Her frown sunk deeper. “I’m sorry.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Don’t ….don’t be sorry,” he almost growls fiercely, then softens abruptly as if realizing his slip, “No, don’t be sorry at all, sweet’eart.”

He remains leaning over her for a moment, that rush of desire still lingering, especially as she grabs gently at his wrist... But it’s now intertwined with pain, a heavy sensation that lays like a thick blanket inside his middle parts. Is that….guilt? The ghost can barely contain his grimace. Whatdoyamean GUILT? He internally argues, angrily with himself, we haven’t felt guilt for six-hundred years! And we ain’t startin’ now! Oh but there it is, nonetheless, like a good stab right in his stomach. Ow.

That nickname is cute. He almost growls again, because that hurts too, but he stops. “Y’didn’t miss too much of it. We can always go again, they like playing that one a bunch. And naw,” he’s honest with her then, “I didn’t carry you. I uhhh,” he uses her parlance, “’Poofed’ us here. Takes a lot of my energy to do it, but I didn’t want to wake y’up.” That part is true.

He hisses out a long, hard sigh. His face is wrinkled with dark unhappiness as if he’s reluctant to say anything further. But he goes for it. “Listen, I uh—-“ he scowls, “I had a good time…. with you tonight.” He almost adds, and we should never do it again, but refrains, “But you should know this: the more time I spend with you, the more probable it is that I’m going to like you. A lot,” he pushes on the bed for emphasis, making her bounce just a little, “And probably in a way you’re not ‘xactly ready for. And probably in a way that is illegal in several countries and absolutely legally questionable in at least twelve. Okay?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

His confession brought forth a stab of panic in Lydia. It wasn’t as though she didn’t already know he wanted sex, but the way the tendons in his wrist strained under her pathetic grip belied a deep- almost angry- frustration. What if she was never ready? What if the thought of allowing a man to take her that way- holding her down, grunting, thrusting, pain- always made her gut twist with nausea?


It wasn’t fair. Lydia would not allow him to steal this from her, too. She would be what she needed to be to keep her husband. She would not go back to what her life was without him.

“I can be ready,” she insisted almost desperately, before backtracking. “Just… I just…” He was too close. She couldn’t say what needed to be said with him hanging over her like that, crowding her space. Carefully, she slipped out from beneath him until she was sitting up on her pillows, back to the wall. Lydia made no moves to turn on her lamp. It happened in the dark, and in the dark, it would remain.

“When I was little… I was…” She played with the hem of her dress while she tried to find her words, adamantly avoiding eye contact. “Someone-” the muscles in her throat tightened up, preventing her from voicing the unspeakable act aloud. After a beat, she continued, hoping to any powers out there that he understood and she wouldn’t have to clarify. “More than once… so… I just- I’m just scared , okay? I just need time.”

Honey eyes misted with tears she refused to let fall flickered up to meet his, finding enough bravery to let him see the sheer honesty in her next statement. “I don’t want you to go.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.




That explains a lot. It takes him a minute to process exactly what she means, and his face turns a few different shades of something as he falls silent. Mixed emotions twist in his gut, rage first and foremost, and then a secondary sensation as if the bottom of his stomach has dropped into his feet. It had nothing to do with him, which was something of a relief, but that was vastly overshadowed by all the other things now punching around inside of him.

Guilt washes over him like an ocean, and he sits down hard, back facing her, on the edge of her bed as she sat up. His figure becomes crouched as he leans over his knees, the wind knocked from his sails entirely. He doesn’t face her. Instead, he tilts his head somewhat over his shoulder to her after she pleads with him to give her time.

He lights a cigarette, which is the only thing he can think to do. The silence between them lays heavy for a minute before the ghost grinds out a reply. So overwhelmed with something akin to what heart-break must feel like – but he broke it himself, touching her without asking. He’s hardly any better than the experience and person she describes most likely. Perhaps worse since she wasn’t even awake to fend his attention off, but at minimum he hardly let it get too far too fast.

“I didn’t mean it like that ,” he voices, despite it being part of his intention, of course, trying to save some part of his image in some manner…maybe only to himself. His throat dry, his pale face reflecting moonlight from her windows, those dark eyes fully blackened into dark hollows.

He blows out a long volume of smoke with a sigh, “I was just….warnin’ you. Had to, in case you didn’t feel the same way.” He fiddles with his fingers, picking at them, and says, “….you know if you ever tell me, if I ever find out who it is, I’m goin’ to kill ‘em, right? You know that.” He doesn’t look at her as he says this, and he is very still in that crouched position. He seems to sense something though, and finally turns around to meet her misty gaze, his face crumpled and frowning. To any other person, he’d look terrifying, an evil looking ghostly mask with pits for eyes that glitter in the dark. Slowly, hesitatingly, he slides a moldy pale hand across the bed to her, its palm open.

“I won’t go,” he says, his voice soft, but the tone becomes broken as he adds, “But y’gotta know: I have a nature , girl. There’s gonna be times where…. I’m not gonna be able t’keep ….. t’keep…. from wanting .” And in that, he seems to be apologizing for himself, because he is. And he’s not sure how he’s different from the person who hurt her, and that’s difficult to process too. “But, I know one thing for sure,” he adds, after a time, “I know I ain’t gonna have it unless you want it, too.” Resolve, maybe. Maybe .

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Horrible dread curdled in her gut the longer he remained silent. He was disgusted. He didn’t even want her anymore. Why would he? He thought she was a virgin who would grant him the freedom he coveted, not damaged goods that imposed rules and couldn’t even fucking cuddle without having a panic attack. It was all she could do to suppress the sob crawling up her throat.

But then he started speaking again and all her rising fear dissipated like the smoke from the end of his cigarette. She crawled, almost fumblingly, toward the offered palm and took it resolutely. Firm, but not tight.

“I know,” she whispered in response to his promise not to force her. He didn’t look like a demon to Lydia. He looked like the wounded beast from her fairytales, wondering why beauty didn’t return his love. “I already knew that. That’s not who you are.”

Curiously, she ran her fingers along his, tracing his claws and the bits of moss the clung to his cuticles. Both of her own held it softly in her lap, examining while she spoke. It was so very different from hers in almost every way; large, calloused, dirty.

“He’s been dead and gone for a long time,” she informed grimly, index finger tracing the lines on his palm. The only reason she knew this was from eavesdropping on her father and Delia’s late night, drunken conversations. “He paid for his crime. It’s over. There’s nothing more that needs to be done.”

She scooted just a bit closer toward him, easing the stretch of his arm so that it could bend comfortably while she fondled his hand to her fill- like it was an interesting trinket to be studied or a challenging game to be figured out.

“That’s… that experience is all I know. I’ve never… no one’s ever been interested in me before. I’ve never been on a date until tonight. When you kissed me over there-” she tilted her head toward the vanity, “- that was my first kiss. I don’t know what ‘want’ is supposed to look like or feel like,” she bit her lip and rose her gaze to meet his once more before whispering yet another confession, “but I want to learn. With you.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

When he asked her “why” all those years ago, running over her hesitation to try to gain freedom and never earning the answer, her desires regarding death are suddenly put into perspective. He ducks his head slightly as she takes his hand, guilty, ashamed, but still so hopelessly hungry for her touch. As she reassures him, he smiles wryly in the dark. It is who he is , but it isn’t, too. She doesn’t really know who he is, or what – he’s had things his way for millennia, a life of drinking, whoring and terrorizing the living…and the dead. He’ll do anything for the right price. But here this living girl is, challenging all he’s ever known. He isn’t, though, and will never be politically correct by modern standards. But what he isn’t is a rapist, and that’s a clear line for him, at least.

As she informs him of the monster’s fate, he takes a draw with his cigarette with his free hand, the one under Lydia’s attention staying quite still as she traces the lines on his palm. His flesh is mottled, the uneven color visible even in the darkness, the green moss indeed having grown between his fingers taking on a blue tint.

“Says you,” he finally remarks, in a low voice. He lets it lie after that, though, because he’s going to find that dead guy and his afterlife is going to be so much worse than the exorcized souls closet.

He hunches less, sliding his leg back onto her bed and easing a little against her pillows as she moves closer, reciprocating as she continues to explore his hand. The one she has is the one covered in those dusty, dirty watches and the ruby cabochon ring on his first finger. Juno wears two watches on her ancient wrist, one for the living world and one for the Neitherworld. Betelgeuse has far more, four, indicating he has a track of time and places that are perhaps unknown to almost anyone but him. Two appear to be broken but two still operate, peculiarly, and they tell two different times of course.

At the latter half of her admission, his eyes widen. Widen .

“Babes….” He murmurs, leaning in towards her slightly, sympathetically, in genuine surprise. He has so much he could tell her, but it seems irrelevant and ridiculous. He feels a pang. Had he known, that first kiss would have been way better than the over-enthusiastic cartoonish smooch at the fact that she had kept his ring. “Okay. I can show you… teach you….” his everything was getting hot again. “But, generally the idea is that y’like it . A lot. Feels good. You want more. A lot more. Of whatever it is. It’s somethin’ you want. And anything y’don’t… well, you figure out if you like it or not immediately or …. over time.” He meets her gaze and keeps it, “I’m not gonna lie and tell you the stuff I like isn’t a little weird, though. Just puttin’ it out there early babes.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Something inside of her ignited at his promise to teach her. Show her . His already hoarse voice took on a deeper timbre like he was telling her a secret, even as he spoke just a bit faster. As if impatient to get to the lessons. Her pulse fluttered at the thought- not unpleasantly.  

“I’m not gonna lie and tell you the stuff I like isn’t a little weird, though. Just puttin’ it out there early babes.”

This was given almost like a warning. Like he was trying to give her an out. She didn’t want it. Didn’t he already know how committed she was to trying to make this work?

“I like you and you’re weird, so it can’t be that bad.” When he adjusted even closer, she met him halfway so that they were both leaning backs against the wall, lined up side by side. His boots were scuffing her blankets, but she couldn’t bring herself to care at the moment. She knew he would get rid of the mess if she asked. For the time being, Lydia was content to allow him to sully her bed. She drew her legs up, never once pausing her fastidious examination of his hand as she rested it over her knees.

“I like when you touch my hair,” she admitted demurely, positive he could see her glowing cheeks through the shadows. “So, you can- you can do that. That’s okay.”

The idea that had been on her mind the majority of the night finally found its voice.

“Miss Shannon says that ladies aren’t supposed to kiss until the third date,” she disclosed cryptically, braving a glance to the side, just long enough to make eye contact before dipping her chin down again, “ but I think she’s a stuck-up prude- and you owe me a better first kiss.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“I like you and you’re weird, so it can’t be that bad.”

She had him there. But he grinned over at her in reply, anyway, lasciviously and mischievously, because he just couldn’t help doing so. She might just find out if they get that far. She still had his hand, as if it were some sort of talisman, or comfort thing. So there they lay, side by side, old and young, one in a striped suit and the other in a black day dress. It would make a pretty scene in some sort of avant-garde photography space.

She curls herself up slightly, and he resists the almost overwhelming urge to flip his hand over and caress her legs. No, he’s letting her plot the course for now, and the emotional rollercoaster of earlier is still resonating around inside his brain. So he lets his hand rest in hers, on her legs, without giving in to his base desires. It’s impressive, really. He waits for her to speak again, and eventually, she does.

“Sure,” he purrs, regarding her hair, pleased that she had seemingly enjoyed said earlier. He considers what else he could say about her hair that wasn’t especially vulgar and settles on, “Your hair feels good between my fingers babe.” He knew that , of course, when he grabbed her hair first. It was thick and yankable like any good mane should be. The idea of grabbing it while she —- well. He’ll save it for later.

As she talks about kissing though, his brows raise to the top of his head slowly. Miss Shannon is a prude. Thank every deity. At least he wasn’t going to have to have to plan three more dates before they got anywhere . It might have killed him. Again. The man was not good with patience. He simply wasn’t. He probably never would be. Currently, this was as patient as he’d been in….well. A very long time.

At Lydia’s demand, though, regarding a better kiss, the ghost had the good sense to at least pretend to be ashamed, with an, “Oh, well, I couldn’t agree more, babes. We’ll strike the other one from the record. It’s like it never happened,” he inches closer and closer on his butt with each reassurance, “Gone, vamoosed, nixed, blotted out, canceled.” At the last, he is now hip to hip with her, larger than life. Instead of retrieving his hand, he works it around to clasp hers, her smaller one disappearing into it. He leans over her and uses his free hand with cigarette to tilt her chin up to him gently, and he leans down in order to capture her lips with his.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Even knowing it was coming- boldly demanding it the way she had- she couldn’t help but tense as his mouth descended on hers. It was cold, like the rest of him, and just as rough as her initial experience led her to believe. Not quite a gasp so much as a surprised breath parted her own petal-soft lips at the contact, and when closed again they molded around his perfectly. His stubble scratched her chin, reminding her of how incredibly older than her he was. It was thrilling- especially with the added knowledge that her parents were passed out cold just feet away. How very scandalous this all was. Naughty .

And, oh , he was being so patient. He’d barely moved since taking her up in this kiss, letting her dictate and experiment as she wished. This wasn’t scary or awful at all. He didn’t even taste bad, not like his appearance might lead one to presume. Lydia discovered this when she bravely flicked her tongue against his upper lip- so subtle, so soft that he might not have even noticed it. He tasted like sweet tobacco and dark, hard liquor and something else she would probably never have a name for. Death maybe? Was death supposed to taste good?

She turned her head one way and pushed back, but that position proved awkward, so she tried another way instead. This seemed more right so she stayed there. She needed to do something with the hand that wasn’t wrapped up tight in his hold. She was pretty sure she was supposed to do something, not just leave it sitting there in her lap, full of nervous energy. It came to rest on his shoulder, then his neck, curious fingers searching out his hairline, but not sinking into the wiry mass. Flakes of moss fell to her sheets upon making contact. Again, Lydia couldn’t bring herself to care.

She needed air. Sucking in droves of it through her nose while it was pressed so close to his face seemed inappropriate, and so she drew back, ending what she was now and forever going to consider her first kiss. Their faces were still close, her hand was still cupping the side of his neck, a glorious flush was still coloring her cheeks, and she gave him a nervous more-than-a-smile-less-than-a-laugh grin. The only words that seemed appropriate in the wake of such an experience were ones that gave him permission to do it again.

“I liked that.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghoul’s hand tightens around Lydia’s as their lips finally meet. He did like that first taste the initial moment he made contact with them, maybe that was the drug that led to the addiction, his fatal mistake that led to all this . And she feels as lovely as she did before, those lips soft, pliant, sweetly shy but hungry.

And he can feel that hunger, as muddled as it is with her uncertainty, which in itself makes him practically thrash inside his own skin. The monster that curls around inside his chest is awake, and it’s raging, ready to consume the poor pale slip of a girl in her entirety. It takes all his concentration to quell it, silence it, and she can feel him shiver out a breath as her tongue actually grazes the upper extremity of his lip. He doesn’t…well, he can’t miss any of her movements, all of his skin is electric and all of her actions are imprinted into his brain like a brand.

His stubble, of course, is a mixture of gritty messily shaved facial hair and soft moss. His skin is actually surprisingly soft itself, if cold, but in that way that indicates age more than youth. His cheeks are fleshy, and his lips are similar, plush, and despite being chapped they seem to warm slowly the more her own meet his. As her arm gently wraps around his shoulder, those delicate fingers curiously exploring the nape of his neck and the edges of where his hair meets it, he makes a noise into her mouth that is positively lewd, unable to stop it from escaping. His neck is surprisingly thick and strong, actually, and she might be able to feel the strain he’s mildly under, there, his muscles taut with concentration. She isn’t deterred by his moss, either, which for someone who is living is exceptional – he was almost sure that at least would give the girl pause. But it doesn’t, even when it flakes off, and it makes some inner part of him glad .

She draws back eventually, oh right, the living need to breathe, and even though he doesn’t his nostrils are still flared in heady breaths himself. He is on the verge of passing out or something equally as strange, he’s fairly sure, the intensity of the moment making his vision swim ever so slightly – and she can probably feel his hand shaking atop hers. But she liked it. And so he smiles, and slowly drags his hand up into that hair he so lovingly covets and squeezes it right at her neck, gently, but using his strength just enough to anchor himself firmly.

“Good, ‘cause you’re really gonna like this.”

He breathes it hovering over her lips before claiming them again, a little less restrained this time. There’s only so long he can keep his nature from escaping, that hot lust that simmers under his cold skin, and so he gives her a taste of it because he can’t really help himself and because she needs to know . He loses himself then, just enough, his other hand releasing hers in order to fully wrap around her slight frame something like a snake, hitching under her shoulders and tipping her towards him as if to let him drink of this pool that much deeper. He’s insistent, his mouth meeting Lydia’s again and again, tongue occasionally grazing hers, her warmth reaching frozen bones as he gets drunk off the taste of her. Eventually, he is forced to release her with a soft, breathy hiss, his hand tangled in her locks tugging her away from him.

“Stop—-“ is all he can grate out in a half-growl, and it isn’t clear if he’s telling poor Lydia this or himself. He rests his head on her shoulder, and probably to her surprise, it’s clammy as if he’d been sweating. “….stop—“ he breathes out, “We need to…..ssss….stop.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Where before his touch electrified, drawing gooseflesh with its chill, it now burned. She was on fire and he was the only one who could put it out. This was kissing. What they had done just seconds before was child’s play, she knew that now. Following an ancient dance she wasn’t aware she knew the steps to, his furor was matched with her own brand of clumsy, undisciplined passion.  

When his teeth nibbled at her lips, she mirrored, soothing them immediately afterward with bold swipes of her tongue in a silent apology for biting too hard, for being too excited, for not knowing any better. Once more, her muscles were taut and rigid, but for an entirely different reason this time. A strong arm snaked around her middle, pulling, and she followed eagerly, sliding her leg over his until she was settled in his lap. This felt good. Right. God, he was an excellent teacher. One tiny pale hand clutched at his shoulder while the other clenched at his button-up beneath his jacket; grabbing, squeezing, raking fingernails over the grimy, off-white fabric. Following the sensations, looking for anything that might douse that fire, her hips undulated without her permission. She writhed against him; pushing and pulling and taking anything he had to offer because fuck she wanted it all.  


“Why?” She moaned like a slut as he yanked her hair almost painfully, inspiring a wave of unbearable heat. It shot down her spine like a bullet before settling heavily low in her belly. So once more with petulant disobedience, she ground against him in an effort to relieve the horrible, wonderful pressure. He growled, baring teeth, before resting his head on her shoulder and resorting to begging.

Shaken by the unusual behavior, Lydia attempted to gather herself. It was then that she realized exactly what she had been pushing herself against for the duration of their tryst. It was heavy, hard, and unmistakably big. She froze. Oh. Oh, oh no, yes, this needed to stop. Immediately, she scrambled off of his lap to the other side of the bed. Cheeks aflame, normally pink lips red, swollen, and slick with saliva, she doggedly avoided looking at his obvious erection.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, her go-to response to any kind of discourse. She had been terribly forward. This discomfort of his was her fault.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It’s mainly her undisciplined nature that gets him – that she’s eager, curious, and interested . Before he breathlessly requests her stoppage, the sensation of her teeth, his hunger matched, as they send prickles of pain when she bites just a little too hard leaves him entirely forgetting to breathe altogether.

As she settles into his lap, it is both so much better and that much worse , especially as her hands claw and pull at him, demandingly, stoking him on for more . And her hips…when they do move, cause a low, warning growl in the ghoul’s throat, and it is at that moment he knows he must make his request.


She’s going to kill him right in this bed. It’s a homicide.

He knows, he knows she knows not what she does, and he knows, in his slimy heart, she knows not what she’s asking for. The heat of her thighs straddling him, grinding against him, it’s too much. He’s pulsing, aching, and burning in a way that if she doesn’t escape his claws at this moment they will be down a road that’s hardly fit for a girl like her after a single date. But the monster in him is glad . It’s glad, knowing this girl has this potential , this heated, wanton desire that’s just under a few layers of mixed feelings and that he can coax it from her. This was easy – in the scheme of things. Once she was primed, she was quickly stoked to hot, and the thing that twisted inside his belly was pleased, far too pleased over it.

The moment that Lydia realizes what she’s grinding against though, that’s an expression he’s going to file away and keep in some secret drawer to pull out later. She has it, now, the full idea as to where this might be headed, and a great wave of relief washes over him and makes Betelgeuse sigh and chuckle in turn. As she literally flees from his arms and off across to the end of the bed, rumpled and flushed, he leans back on his wrists and laughs. Not at her, certainly, but more because it releases him from the impending doom that certainly would have befallen both of them if she had kept with her heated insisting. She looked good like that, lips parted in some form of shy embarrassment, glimmering in the dim light from his prior attention. The promise of other things leaving that sheen weighs on his predatory mind and makes it purr. Her eyes were so bright, glanced away, trying not to look at his quite obvious state of arousal – yes, darlin’, it is that big, and that scary . His fingers curl into her sheets to keep him from pouncing or prowling across her bed….for now.

“I think you know the why , now,” he finally says, voice low, pleased, “This is gonna take you to a place where we can’t go back again. I’ll leave y’changed , babes, and I’m not gonna shortchange you the rest of this .” He says the last with a bit of determination, ‘this’ indicating their budding romance, dates and the rest, and he finally releases the sheets in order to slide halfway on his side towards her, like a giant prone cat. It seems to be some sort of reassurance that he’s harmless, and he adds, “I’ll be good though. Till y’know what you’re askin’ for.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

What is wrong with me? Lydia pondered in abject horror at her actions, pressing hands to her flaming cheeks. They were still somewhat cool from how desperately she’d been clutching at his frigid flesh through his clothing. That was just supposed to be a kiss and it had so quickly derailed into something she hadn’t thought she was even capable of. Had this always been inside of her? Or was he just so well-versed in the female form that coaxing out her inner Jezebel was a walk in the park?

Even though they were now separate, her blood still raced, her heart still pounded, and a secret bunch of muscles she didn’t know existed ached- powerful, throbbing pangs that wanted her to crawl back into his lap and curl up like a kitten until they had been soothed. Pent-up energy trembled her entire body and for the second time that night she bid the humiliating tremors to please stop . He seemed perfectly composed- he even laughed, the bastard- aside from the claws digging into her sheets, threatening to tear into the expensive designer fabric that Delia insisted on.

Delia! This mess had to go before he left for the night. There were bootprints all across her bed- in more concentrated places than the last time he left them- and stray cigarette butts littered the floor. He’d been smoking like a chimney ever since they showed up back here.

“I’ll be good though. Till y’know what you’re askin’ for.”

Lydia tried to bring her gaze back to his out of propriety, but once more curious eyes drifted unbidden to his crotch, only to fly straight up to the ceiling when they saw how excited he still was. “O-okay,” she stuttered, “I didn’t mean- uhm… I wasn’t trying to, uh… are you okay?”

She settled, the meaning behind her genuinely worried inquiry quite obvious. From what she had seen and heard on television and from eavesdropping on other girls her age, it could actually hurt men to go without when they were that riled up. She hated the thought that she was hurting him. Even more, the thought of doing something about it. Even more , the thought of someone else doing something about it.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

If he could hear her inner monologue, Betelgeuse would probably unhelpfully assure her that she did indeed have an inner Jezebel, that all women did, and remind her that she landed herself the most eligible bachelor this side of the Neitherworld. But he can’t hear her inner monologue, and that’s probably for the best.

She’s tremulous and clearly overwhelmed, and Betelgeuse can see that fire smouldering as she comes down from a peak. He is still hungry enough to want to sink his claws in again, but he knows that if he pushes it he’ll lose out on something much better later – and knowing that is enough to keep him satiated. Or at least, patient enough. She’s beautiful like this, all of her nerves electric, her face flushed and those petite lips worked into such consternation. As she steals a secondary glance, the look on his face is far too pleased with himself, stretched languidly now across her bed. As she wonders about him, ensuring he’s alright, he can’t help but laugh aloud. The very idea is more than hilarious to him, but he’s not laughing at her, just….well, that’s adorable . The more reaction she has regarding him and his current state, the more fiendishly happy he is.

“Oh, this fella?” he points downwards his tone asking in faux-innocence, and then he crosses his arms behind his head impishly, “He’ll be alright, he goes away after a while. ‘S what happens when the goin’ gets real good, babes. Consider it a compliment,” and he winks saucily.

He runs his tongue along his lips again, that predatory gleam still in his eye as it remains fixed on Lydia, but suddenly he startles and looks at his broken watches as if they’d alerted him to something.

“Oh uh,” he mumbles, tapping one of them. “I hate t’cut this short sweetheart, but…. I think I kept y’up too late again. Not that I’d say I’m sorry ‘bout it, ‘cause I’m not. But I should get out of your hair. Literally. Probably,” he snickers, showing his dirt-stained teeth, “Unless you wanna play hooky and mess around sommor,” at that, he waggles his eyebrows, knowing she’d most likely (and smartly) turn that down.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse’s easy, nonchalant reassurance regarding the state of his exorbitant arousal managed to ease some of her societally ingrained shame- and served to make him that much more approachable despite it.

“Oh,” Lydia began, inching closer on her knees, “you can’t keep me up too late.” There was nothing in her expression to indicate she was aware of the double meaning in her innocent quip. “I don’t have school for the next three days. It’s canceled tomorrow because of… you know… you .”

Realizing that she was probably coming off as a bit too eager, she retracted. “But, you can go if you want . I’m just saying- I mean-” Her knees were brushing the wiry mass of his hair as he lay sprawled out like a cat before her. A thick curtain of wavy raven hair cast a shadow over her face as she dipped her head down and to the side, considering him. He really wasn’t all that scary. Not nearly as much as he probably thought he was. “I’m not averse to kissing more,” she finally admitted secretly, daring to trace his lips and see if she’d left any damage in her wake. She had been biting on him pretty ferociously, she remembered bashfully. “I could obviously use the practice. Did I hurt you? Can you feel pain?”

That was one of those questions Adam and Barbara wouldn’t answer for her. Maybe her husband would give her an adequate response.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Ah dammit. He gave her a beautiful, shining out of the situation, and here she is, refusing to take it. And she’s moving closer. Naughty, naughty, naughty girl. Didn’t anyone teach you not to mess with ghosts, anyway?

As she reminds him that he royally did her school for a few days in by creating an immense plumbing problem, he grunts – well, there went that excuse. Hmm. The view from down there was pretty good , besides, once her knees manage to brush against the edges of his thin and wild hair and the position she takes up….well, that’s immensely distracting to poor Betelgeuse anyway. If he tilted his head up juuuust enough he could root around under her shirt with his face. He utters a groaning sigh of restraint through his lips, squinting up at her through that wild forest of black hair. His jade eyes follow her questioning, curious gaze. Oh, that look. He knows that look. It’s the look a woman gives him when she’s feeling particularly playful – and it’s a look that Lydia shouldn’t even be giving him yet. But there she is, doing it. Shit. Shit shit shit shi—

He wasn’t even really focusing on what she was saying, other than she was saying it in a coy tone, offering him an out of some ridiculous kind. Her finger traces his pale, full lips, and he swallows once, audibly. That feels delicious, almost as good as the teeth that were punishing them earlier. His eyes practically flutter, and he breathily murmurs to her, “Mmmmmm, practice makes perfect, babes,” he grins, then, mischievously, all his teeth showing and his nose wrinkled, “Pain? You should step on my neck in your boots sometime and find out.”

His tongue snakes out, once, and then his face wrinkles into a mask of very bad intentions. In a moment, quicker than she could have expected, he’s flipped himself over and used her unpreparedness to pounce her. His much heavier physical weight makes it easy, besides, and it’s clear his intention is not to hurt her, but certainly to overpower her, and quickly. The hand tracing his lips is gripped by the wrist firmly and held above her head, pinning her there onto the mattress – and he’s not even trying , but his iron grasp is unmovable. His body is larger than hers, and as he straddles her hips and settles down onto her petite form it’s clear that he’s not easily resisted. She can feel that, for all his cold skin, some parts of him are very warm and almost engulf her. He practically makes the mattress creak as he pushes her into it.

“No more fucking around then, princess.”

He was going to show her again of what she asked, and in a swift movement, he claims her mouth again, his free hand sliding back into her hair and gripping it, pulling it just enough to cause pressure. His tongue is more demanding, this time, and she can tell it’s almost too big for her mouth to handle.

He relinquishes her delicious lips after he’s gotten her fully breathless, leaning up briefly with a thin line of drool, only to give her hair a more firm tug, insisting she bare her neck to his attention. His kisses sear down that long, graceful skin, his wispy and wiry blond hair tickling the underside of her chin as he does so.

“Yer gonna kill me, babes,” he grumbles huffily into her collarbone, “Y’know that, right?” And then he bites her there, right in the crook of her neck, just enough, once ….and then twice for flinching.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

His next move was so quick she couldn’t help the quick intake of breath at his supernatural rapidity, oxygen streaming out and deflating her chest as he expeditiously reversed their positions. Each of her wrists was gathered into a rough, calloused palm, his unyielding weight pressed down on her, making the mattress springs whine, and her hair was once more tangled in his grasp. She was caught, pinned, as though he was about to do something he thought she would run away from. In direct contrast of all of his reassurances, everything he had patiently, painstakingly led her to believe about him and his character, a cold tingle of fear tainted her rising excitement.

“No more fucking around then, princess.”

This did absolutely nothing to help. She did ask for this, didn’t she? Still, she didn’t mean this . Lydia meant to maybe engage him in a handful of shy, explorative kisses to sate her budding curiosity before sending him away for the night. This was a doom of her own creation. She deserved whatever he gave her, and it appeared he was in agreement. A frightful “wait-” was able to make it past her lips in a hurried rush before he took her mouth for his own, unwilling or unable to listen. Lydia had been considering his previous kisses rough, gruff and full of just a bit more passion than she thought she was able to match. Apparently, he was holding back. This was violent . He ravaged her mouth, taking whatever he wanted from her, dominating so thoroughly that reciprocation- even if she wanted to, she wasn’t given a chance to decide- was not an option.

The roaring flames were back, his assault pouring gasoline over the dwindling embers in her belly. Yet, there was a wild panic behind these that threatened to burn her alive. Would he stop if she asked? Could he? Would she? Just when she thought she would die from lack of oxygen- her head felt so light, chest tight and burning- he granted her a modicum of mercy and moved his scorching attention down her neck.

“Yer gonna kill me, babes,” his stubble scraped her flesh as he spoke, “y'know that, right?”

Out of her depth, she countered with the only reply that made sense. “ You’re already dea-”

Filthy, blunted teeth sunk into her neck- once, twice. She cried out torturously, fragments of pleasure in the pained sound. Her imagination chose this moment to conjure an image of him she often dwelt on. It was from years before, when he took out her father, Delia, and Otho one by one before finally, inevitably cornering her; rows of jagged, unsightly sharp teeth curled into a ghastly grin. She had been so certain that death was imminent, so absolute in her assessment of the situation, so ready. Now? She didn’t know what to expect.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

If there’s one thing Betelgeuse is familiar with, its fear. The smell of it. The taste of it, exactly what the living look like when they’re afraid. And despite enjoying it far too much – nothing gets him more electric than scaring the living half to death or more than that , he can absolutely taste some of it on poor Lydia’s skin after he accosts her neck. The noises, though, that he elicits from her are beautiful . Oooohh, yes, yes, he likes those far too much .

But, he can also sense when he’s got going a little too far, and he raises those intense, wide, jade, eyes up at her from where he stays nestled on her shoulder momentarily after abusing her poor skin. He absolutely wants to leave more marks on her delicate neck but he stops, completely, wrestling down his base desires. He releases her wrists, too, in order to stroke a thumb along her cheek, silently, claw grazing that pale visage. She’s almost as pale as he, but flushed skin indicates that life-blood still flowing. His ear is close enough to her chest to almost hear her heart thundering, and the ghoul that he is guiltily thrills at it.

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“You don’t have t’be frightened unless that makes it fun,” he adds, in almost an apologetic tone, a smile quirking at the edges of his pallid lips, “Lesson two,” he holds up two mottled fingers, “You have the leash, darlin’. Whenever I get ah—-too much, you can always tell me to knock it off, and I will. Deal?”

Long ago, that might not have been the deal at all. He had intentions for her back then, but how unclear they were, perhaps even to him. Desire and pride thrummed his many ribs then. The animal in him was at peak form in those moments, deadly, Oedipus-like, having disposed of her father and sent her mother scrambling. If it hadn’t been for Barb and Adam, things might have turned out much differently. He remembers her scent, too, convinced of her own demise , poor thing. But he has her, now, in so much a different way…and he’s going to keep her, even if it means tying a knot in the snake he really and truly is.

He remains squarely sat on her hips for now, though, “The sun’s comin’ up, and I should go,” he murmurs, sincerely, rising to look into her eyes, “You’re a good girl, Lyds. You’re a beautiful girl. I’m a monster but I’m your monster now.” His head dips again, but only to give her a very sweet, very surprisingly soft kiss.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“You have the leash, darlin’. Whenever I get ah—-too much, you can always tell me to knock it off, and I will. Deal?”

“Deal,” agreed tremulously, breathless and flustered. Once more, she was struck by how extremely good at this he was. The man had practically attacked her, but in the grand scheme of things, she did like it. The fear was fun– not that she would admit that right now. Enough embarrassing confessions had filled the air tonight to leave her cringing for an eternity. There didn’t need to be anymore.  

When he kissed her again, soft and sweet, declaring himself hers , her heart almost burst from the torrent of emotion flooding it. Beautiful . There he went again, plying her with pretty, pretty lies. She wouldn’t argue with him, though she wished she could see what he saw. It seemed petty to debate what constituted “attractive” with this chubby, moldy, bug-eating fiend who was very quickly replacing Lydia’s unclear, muddled idea of what “sexy” was supposed to be.

“And I’m yours ,” she clarified in case he didn’t already know, craning her neck up for another kiss, still hungry for more. He kept himself just out of reach, making her work for the barely there brush of their flesh. It appeared he couldn’t be seduced into more kissing, then. Probably smart of him. She eyed the red-gold sunbeams invading her bedroom with distaste. Aside from all the other reasons she had to dislike the sun- there were plenty- it represented his departure, and that only made her heart ache more.

“When will I see you again?” She wondered, hoping she wasn’t coming off as needy as she felt. Lydia was starved for attention and he was practically drowning her in it. If she wasn’t careful, she would become dependant on him.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He could see doubt in Lydia’s features as he complimented her but didn’t remark on it, or acknowledge it in the moment. He would have never have gotten as far as he has without being a relatively good reader of people – he likes the most to get into people’s brains, see what makes them tick. His calling card on the Maitlands was lost, they were too dumb to understand his work…if he could make them so viscerally uncomfortable at first blush, obviously , he could do the same, and worse, to the Deetzs. His entire purpose was to be gross, horrific, disgusting, boorish, and challenging. What good is calling a scary monster who isn’t a scary monster? But each time, they thwarted him, stopped his work and interrupted his flow – as if they didn’t want the Deetz’s out at all. Which, as it turns out, they didn’t. Losers . He got his, anyway.

Ah, if only the girl could indeed see what the ghoul saw in her. She was so much more than the sum of her parts. Intelligent, attractive and despite her fragility she was immensely brave. No one living could have ever reacted to the Neitherworld as she had, as if she belonged there in some strange fashion. She rode out the tantrums and anger of one of the most powerful denizens of that place – himself. She endured him, and now, purported to give herself to him entirely. Something inside him snarled with glee, all of him disastrously happy for it, though the sensation doesn’t reach his features. He does, however, keep just far enough away from her lips after that initial kiss. Temptress . She knows not what she does to him. Not yet. Off in some far distant thought he has the desire to flick a snake-tongue against her face and hiss at her in contentment…his more conscious reckoning has the distinct idea she wouldn’t like it, though.

And that final question.

“When will I see you again?”

He almost feels bad for her. Almost. But more so, he feels bad for himself. Every part of him is aching beyond reason, and his desire to slake himself only resides with her now. He won’t rest until he claims her. More than once. And that will take some time.

“Soon,” he murmurs, reassuringly, stroking his rough hand gently through her hair, unable to resist, “I have t’set up our next dates, y’know. Gonna be hard to top this one, but I think Vincent Price will find ya good company. I know I do,” he taps her nose lightly once, before floating off her bed and onto the floor. He adjusts his rumpled suit, and with a quick wink, all the dirt, cigarettes, mold flakes and other mess is thoroughly gone, her wrinkled sheets straightened right underneath her. She lives exactly opposite in the manner in which he does, but he’s happy to acquiesce to her. “If you need me, though, you can always call me, babes.” And part of him hopes she would, because he’s a greedy little thing.

“And oh,” he adds, “I’d wear a uh….. scarf for the next….week or so.”

And then he’s gone.

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

It was an entire week before she called him again, overly sensitive and hurt that she was having to reach out to him like some clingy bad date. She was his wife and he was her husband , damnit. They were married, had played a dangerously delicious kissing game, and had already professed that they belonged to each other. He should call her . That’s just how it worked. He knew she was waiting for him, the bastard. What could he possibly be doing that was so important? That last thought was one she tried very hard not to dwell on lest her insecurities got the best of her.

Besides, Lydia had so much to tell him! He would be pleased to learn that Claire and Stacy had been pulled out of Miss Shannon’s School for Girls at the insistence of their parents and were now being homeschooled by private tutors- a fact that Lydia derived a wicked pleasure from, regardless of how much she disapproved of the events that led them there. She remembered the way the blondes used to mercilessly ridicule the handful of homeschooled girls that so graciously received invites to their school functions. Courtesy is key, Miss Shannon would say, urging her students to be polite to the poorly socialized newcomers. On this, Lydia and her teacher agreed. Without common courtesy and decency- concepts Betelgeuse obviously found foreign- she wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far in reasoning with him.

In addition to her bullies’ continued punishment, Lydia had also made a new… friend . Man’s best friend, to be exact. She first noticed him on Friday, much later in the evening. The house felt stifling in the wake of her wanton, otherworldly adventures and so she departed for the cemetery, yearning for another taste of something dead. Halfway along the shaded path that led to the necropolis, she realized she was being followed. It was big, dark in color, and crept quietly a ways past the line of trees- stalking. Her first thought was wolf . Her second thought was that she was alone . The third was that it was time to call Betelgeuse. Then, reason reminded her that it had been less than a day , and besides, wolves rarely attacked humans. She would hardly classify as a decent snack to an enormous beast like that. There were plenty of fat deer in these woods this time of year.

Lydia never did have a very well developed sense of self-preservation.

So, she continued to the cemetery and didn’t return home until nightfall, when it was time to feed her inept parents. Eyes could be felt watching her the entire time. On Saturday she went looking for it, having nothing better to do. After all, what if it was hurt or scared? What if it wanted help from her but had seen cruelty from humans in the past and didn’t know how to trust? Heartbroken at the notion, she stole one of the thick, fat, juicy steaks that was supposed to be a part of dinner and stashed it away in her bag. Then, she headed straight for the woods.

Almost immediately upon leaving the house, she felt the sensation of being watched. Clinging to a sixth sense she wasn’t aware of, she accepted and followed it- rather than shaking it off as heebie-jeebies, as any ordinary individual might. Lydia was rewarded for her efforts. Minutes into her descent into the forest, the beast was in her sights again- and beast was the only word to fit this creature. It looked like a rottweiler, but it was massive . Far larger than any dog should be, as though its entire life it had eaten nothing but steaks much fatter than the one Lydia had to offer. Its sheer size alone was almost enough to convince her she was making a mistake until she caught sight of its ears and tail. They were clipped.

He was bred for fighting . This was a creature that had seen absolutely nothing but the darkest pits of what humanity had to offer. Sympathetic tears misted over her gaze and she sat right down on the forest floor, taking up a submissive position that showed she meant no harm, and revealed the steak. “Hey, boy,” she called gently, holding the slab of meat out in his direction, waving it enticingly. In the distance, the beast perked up. “Yeah, you want this? I brought it just for you , handsome.”

The creature’s drooling maw fell into a giant, panting dog grin, as if he perfectly understood everything that was just said to him and was ready for more of the same. Now that it had been given permission, it bounded right toward her without a second’s hesitation. Lydia eeked, surprised by his eagerness, and tossed the steak. “Betel-!” She cried out reflexively, before catching herself. The dog had caught the meat mid-air and was in the midst of gnawing at it happily, belly to the ground, knub wriggling in joy. Phew .

Within seconds, the steak was gone and the dog was sniffing in her direction curiously. She offered him a palm, which he promptly licked any residual steak juice off of. Tentatively, she attempted scratching the top of his head. Immediately, he collapsed down into the bed of dirt, grass, and twigs, aggressively nuzzling into the offered affection and presenting his belly for more. He was a big baby!

His name was Beelzebub- she knew this because of the tag that hung from his viciously spiked leather collar. However, it didn’t boast a home address, owner’s name, or phone number. The terrified local vet could not be bribed to give him a checkup and see if he had a chip. Lydia didn’t blame him. Bubby- her nickname for the sweet boy- growled viciously at everyone who came within hearing distance of her. While Lydia found his fierce protectiveness sweet and loved him all the more for it, she knew that she would have to break him of this behavior or Delia would never allow him inside the house. The first time she tried, the insufferable redhead nearly pissed her pants from terror. “He won’t hurt you! He’s a good boy , he’s just confused! Stop screaming like that, you’re scaring him!”

Bubby apparently wasn’t deterred by sleeping outside. Like a vigilant stone lion, he sat at the end of the driveway every day until she left the house, before bounding to her side. He even took to haunting the outside of Miss Shannon’s when she was in class. Animal control had been called several times by both her parents and administrative staff, but they weren’t smart or fast enough to catch her sweet baby.

Would he treat Betelgeuse the same as he had everyone else? Lydia was dying to know. However, when an entire fucking week passed and her husband still hadn’t graced her mirror with his ghastly visage, she took matters into her own hands.

“Betelgeuse,” she demanded, a twinge of hurt showing through as she tapped firmly at her mirror’s surface and waited. Once should be enough to get his attention.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse, unfortunately for Lydia, wasn’t about to call her. The moment he stepped away from her bedroom and across the threshold into the Neitherworld, he was lost to the light of her heart – and he indulged every single one of his worst instincts in a horny, egotistical rampage. He was on hour twelve of sending tsunamis and plagues across the entirety of the lands of the dead in revenge, having filled the waiting room with rotted pudding and venomous snakes ( sorry Adam and Barb—except not ), when finally Juno gave in. He had placed himself hovering over Sandworm land on Saturn in his ridiculous car, taking pot-shots of them when the caseworker appeared in her tightly tailored pants suit and pearls in his back seat.

“B,” she grated out, exhausted, cigarette in her hand, “If you stop all this, I have a job for you.”

The car creaked as the ghoul whipped around, glaring over his shoulder. He smiled one of those horrible grim grins that indicated he knew exactly when someone’s balls were in his vice, and stomped over the hood to look down at her past the windshield.

“I stopped workin’ for ya a long time ago, Junebug.”

She held up a hand, her face pained.

“It pays, it pays.”

She knew how to speak his language, and the ghost sniffed. “How much?”

The two negotiated for a moment, before seeming to reach something of a conclusion the ghost could agree to. In a blink, he transported them back to Juno’s office, suddenly dressed in a very slick suit. They had been trying to catch him all day, but his powers were too strong now, it was impossible. So, they had to do what they could: make a deal - keep him busy.

It helped that there was no job the ghoul liked better than getting paid for free reign . It was far more fun than undirected destruction – while that was proving to be entertaining, it certainly wasn’t a match for getting into someone’s home, their safety, their minds, and fucking around. Plus, he could practice for what he was going to do to the Maitlands and the Deetzes, because they were still on his list. But for this assigned job it was simple: out, Juno had said – you just need to get them out. Well , he reasoned, you’ve called the right guy.

As he left the office, Juno sighed deeply, pained, her fingers caressing her temples. “By the way,” she said, practically into her desk with misery, “congratulations on your wedding.”

“I can’t let you hurt anyone.”

Lydia’s deal remained unbroken, as far as the ghost was concerned. She hadn’t let him do anything, i.e., she hadn’t given him permission. For the past day he’d been hurting everyone he came across and living for it. Betelgeuse knew she didn’t know how to negotiate a proper deal, and that was towards his benefit - he just had to do it out of her sight and then the terms would be met. She would be deeply unhappy knowing his activities for the past half a week. And for some reason, this only made him happier in doing it.

Rules were not something Betelgeuse did very well with, he was a hedonistic evil sprite at his core, ready to lash out at a world that had been so unkind to him from the start. He felt owed and grievous , and that pain and hurt that coiled deep in his psyche motivated his darkest impulses. While Lydia relieved some of that anguish and anger, it still fueled most of him, and he was itching to do terrible things to the victims that Juno had so kindly delivered to him on a platter. He vaguely thought he heard his name once, or part of it, a tiny tug pulled at him…but it seemed to only be a passing halfway start. Some evil part of him hoped it was Lydia crying out into her bedsheets. He likes the idea of that far too much.

Like a maestro in his perfect element, Betelgeuse did his work with a nasty precision – the very nature of his existence aligning perfectly with what needed to be done. It was almost as beautiful as his Maitlands scheme, but that was woefully imperfect. He hadn’t counted on Barb, the fucking Sandworm whisperer . But there was no Barb here. No one to recall him. No one to say his name three times. That was all done now. In the house’s wreckage, he was indeed bio-exercising another house of conflicting family values, he inhaled deeply in satisfaction.

Maybe he’ll buy Lyds something nice after this.

It took him a night to recover from the work. He did a quick check at the Roadhouse through his mirror to ensure his intermediary had been properly doing his job – what he caught was Delia screaming about monstrous slobbering beasts and get him out of my house . Perfect. Beautiful. Drained, the ghost spent the remaining Neitherworld hours of his frustrated, pent-up lusty state spent buried deep in his coffin bed. The dreams that came to him were outrageous even by his standards, absolutely indecent, obscene, and prurient imaginings entertained him for hours. They all, of course, centered around poor Lydia and all he was going to do to her once he properly could sink his claws into her, once she was ready . He had scared her in the moments that he gave her a glimpse of what his brand of lust brought along with it, and if she could see into his mind she’d most likely only be frightened further.

He awakes with a start. The pounding of his mirror pounds right into his heart, even though for Lydia it’s only a simple knock on the surface of the glass. He startles up. What day was it? What time was it? He had almost completely lost the concept in the past week, had it been a week? Disoriented, he blinked as his visage shimmered to the surface of her mirror. He smacked his lips and began to climb into her room like an over-fed cat, forcing her to move back until he sat on her vanity with a cup of steaming coffee. He slurped from it loudly and seemed to greet the morning sun, looking as rumpled as anything, his velvet bathrobe and pajama pants similar to the set he wore after that night at the cathouse.

“Mornin’ Lyds,” he says, perfectly unperturbed by her clearly annoyed expression , “What’s got yer goat?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

That… that jerk! How dare he just mozy on into her bedroom like nothing was wrong, armed with coffee and dressed like that. Lydia herself still wore her own nightgown- it was early in the morning- but she recognized that outfit very well. Against her will, images of him tangled up in sheets with blue-skinned, blonde-haired, voluptuous beauties flashed across her mind. Her heart clenched.

“Where were you?!” It took tremendous effort to keep her voice from cracking. Looking at him was painful, nevermind how much she had longed to do so since he left, and so she whipped her back on him to cross the room and light incense. Frankincense; to free the mind and release intense emotions. “It’s been a week,” she disclosed pitifully, absolutely hating the pout in her voice. “I missed you.”

The angry discoloration on her neck was almost completely faded. Lydia had made no moves to hide it from anyone the way he assumed she would want to. Let them see. Let them know that the creepy, ugly little Deetz girl was up to no good. For the first time all week, she hid the little pink mark from view, self-consciously sliding a tiny palm up to cover it, ashamed of her pride. He said he was hers- and she his. Lydia wasn’t sure if she had the capacity to endure the kind of pain he might one day bring her if this- if that- was a lie. It would destroy her.

“Nothing’s keeping you here,” she reminded him coldly, lashing out in an attempt to shield her heart. “If you don’t want to see me, then go away and don’t come back. I won’t call you ever again and you can have your ‘marriage of inconvenience.’” There was no masking the venom in the echoed phrase, dressed up with a thinly veiled layer of bitter agony.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Alright alright,” the ghost groused, wrinkling his nose and hopping off her vanity, suddenly in the same old striped suit he enjoyed wearing the most. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Lyds. Fer one, it's hard to keep track of time in the Neitherworld. I have these watches,” he holds up his en-watched wrist, “But they’re only so helpful.”

He paws the front of his suit and follows her as she whirls angrily around her room, “Second,” he says, leaning into her ear obnoxiously, “I missed you too. But after what y’did to me back there,” he jerks his thumb to indicate the past , “Yer man had to calm down a little, okay?” he sniffs, “Nothin’ untoward. Just a week of cold showers babes. And I had to work. I still have to work, you know? I’m a workin’ man.”

He reaches into his jacket breast, pulling out a large stack of Neitherworld money, “I had t’get paid so I can get you nice things,” he replaces the cash once he seems to display the evidence there. “But, that bein’ said….”

He inhales and puts his grubby hands on her shoulders. She wasn’t wrong , and he did feel bad . He just needed to get the octane out of his system.

“You can always call me. I didn’t mean for it to take a week. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you more than that, babes, but I can’t. It isn’t that you’re stupid, it’s just that when I’m around you I have difficulty concentrating and I wanna do this right,” he says, in something of a rush, but its true, “For that, I need patience babes. I don’t have patience. The week was to center my chi . Batten down the hatches. Make sure I’m at least somewhat rational around you, okay? But I sent a mindful eye to keep a watch on you, make sure you’re safe n’ such,” the ghoul winks, “You probably didn’t see ‘em, I told ‘em to keep his big mangy self outta sight. He’s a bit more drooly than me, I wager, though. But only just a bit.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

At his clarifications, Lydia immediately felt like an immature, spoiled little brat. Here he was working- the fact that he had a job alone was fascinating to her, but she shelved it for later- like an adult, earning money so he could provide for her like a proper husband. Not that Lydia was in any need of financial assistance, or that his strange Neitherworld currency would do her any good here. In the wake of her childish fit, she couldn’t bear the thought of him wasting any of his hard-earned cash on a silly trinket for her.

“It’s okay. No, no- I’m sorry,” she offered bashfully, ardor crumbling away into nothing beneath his firm, assured grip. At this distance, she had to crane her neck to look up at him. “I was just upset. I’ve been waiting. Girls aren’t supposed to call guys. It means they’re needy and desperate.”

Nevertheless, needy and desperate is exactly how Lydia felt despite all efforts to the contrary. His breath smelt like coffee and she had a bold impulse to throw her arms around his neck, engage him in another kissing game, and see if the taste of it had lingered. Lydia loved coffee. The impulse was ignored in favor of poking a little fun at him instead.

“Don’t lie to me,” she accused impishly and picked at a bit of moss on his jawline. “Cold or not, you haven’t showered. Not once, this entire week, and probably a lot longer than that.”

“You probably didn’t see ‘em, I told ‘em to keep his big mangy self outta sight. He’s a bit more drooly than me, I wager, though. But only just a bit.”

Here, Lydia’s brows furrowed. He couldn’t have been talking about… “Beelzebub? He’s your dog?” Suddenly, all the rage she had been reserving for her sweet boy’s hypothetical previous owner twisted into something closer to dread. “Oh, Betelgeuse,” she gasped painfully, forgetting herself. That was twice now. “ Please tell me you didn’t clip that sweet puppy’s ears and tail.” She sounded on the verge of tears. Lydia knew he was not a nice guy. She could stomach the thought of him harming people, though she would not allow it if it was in her power to stop him. People were trash. The idea that he played a hand in the cruel torture of an innocent animal, however, was not something she was sure she could forgive. “Please tell me.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As the girl’s anger dissipates under his touch, the ghoul pulls her gently against him, and his expression as he looks downwards crumples in abject confusion. Girls weren’t supposed to call guys? Oooooh. That explains a LOT of his misfortunes with women, among other things.

“Desperate? Needy?” he grunts as if insulted by the very idea and exceptionally tempted to just lean down ever so slightly to get another kiss as she cranes to look upwards at him, “Who cares? These girls and your teacher have been puttin’ a lot of funny ideas about what women are supposed to like into that pretty little head of yers. I think you oughtta just start likin’ what you like. And if seein’ me is what you like, then we’ll do that.” And that’s that. Simple! Right? Women are always making things so complicated.

At the latter though, he has to admit defeat. Picking at the moss around his face tickles, and it thrills him just a little. No one’s done that before.

“Uh,” he mumbles, distracted, “ Proverbial cold showers, babes.” She’s right though. He’s not into showers. Or being clean. What’s the point? If he’s clean, the bugs won’t stick around, and no more late night snacks. Or noon time snacks. Or morning snacks. Tragedy . Plus, he has a natural musk that’s attractive to the opposite sex, or so he’s firmly decided long ago.

Idly, he wishes she would keep touching his face. That’d be nice. He comes back around from his little woozy daydream in the middle of her asking about the dog. Clip his ears and tail? He blinks once or twice, registering what she’s asking.

“Oh. Oh . No, babes,” he says, insulted, “He’s from the ….. the fighting pits. They do that to ‘em when they’re puppies. Big black market gambling thing in the Neitherworld. They figure ‘cause they weren’t ever alive they can’t really hurt ‘em. I don’t like it, so I’ll steal ‘em occasionally.” What he doesn’t add is that he then he bets on the other dog, who wins by default and then never has to fight. It’s like being Robin Hood, except he keeps the money. “Dog came from there. He was too stupid to go anywhere else.”

He pauses, and then adds, “Lyds, I’m a monster, but I’m not that kinda monster . I don’t take jobs with kids n’ pets. I won’t do it, babes. Too complicated.” And by complicated, he means it legitimately bothers him to frighten those two categories. He’s done it before but he derives no pleasure from it. He prefers instead to use them as bargaining chips without an actual intent to hurt them at all. It’s sometimes really fun for the kids, in fact. Not so much for the parents.

“But I’m getting the idea you’ve met him, which means he didn’t follow my instructions very well. He hasn’t been misbehaving has he?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Stupid?” Lydia scoffed in disbelief, pulling back from him. The man needed to have more faith in his own dog. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s the smartest fucking dog I’ve ever met in my entire life. Come on, I’ll show you. My father and Delia are still passed out and will be for a while, so don’t worry about them.”

With that, Lydia departed from the room, not waiting for him to follow. She knew he would. The button for the automated coffee maker was pressed as they passed through the kitchen, Lydia having already set it up to go the previous night. Her parents could not be trusted with such a responsibility- or any responsibility, really. Then, she grabbed a bag of beefy cheesy dog treats- a purchase neither parent approved of but were unable to deny. She hugged her arms around herself upon stepping out onto the front porch, clearly feeling the morning chill. Bub, sitting stoically at the end of the driveway as he had all night, every night since she brought him home, perked up immediately upon sighting her. He didn’t move until she gave the signal, a sharp whistle. At the sound of it, he transformed into a giant bundle of amorous muscle, bounding toward her several meters at a time, tongue flapping in the wind. Just as it looked like he was about to tackle her to the ground and attack her with kisses, Lydia issued her first command.

“Heel,” she spoke calmly, without raising her voice or giving a hand signal. Instantly, Bubby became all business, every muscle taut in concentration, mouth closed. “Sit.” He did. Lydia dawdled down the porch steps leisurely. A handful of treats were laid on the ground about a foot in front of him. He didn’t even look at them, black eyes locked on his mistress. “Lay down.” A cloud of dust issued from the ground as he hit it hard, eager to please. “All the way.” Almost bashfully, his jaw hit the ground. Still, he didn’t look at the treats. “Roll over.” Lydia gave the next order quickly, stopping him on his back on the second roll. “Play dead.” Dramatically, he shut his eyes, lolled his tongue, and ceased all movement. “Up.” Swiftly and obediently, he was back to a sitting position. Lydia sat on the wet grass in front of him. The treats remained in a pile between them. “Left paw,” she held out a hand and, of course, he gave her the proper paw. “Right paw.” More of the same.

Lydia paused for ten extra seconds, just to demonstrate his immense patience. “Now.” He attacked, gobbling up all the treats with one lick before dropping his head down into her lap and rolling around on the ground like a worm. “Yes, who’s my good puppy? Who’s a smart boy? You! Vicious little baby, so precious. Look at that belly!” She continued on this fashion for a while, seemingly forgetting the presence of her husband on the porch behind her.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Nawh,” Betelgeuse argued, following Lydia out of the room, as she attempts to assert his dog’s intelligence, “Dumb as a rock. A sack of rocks.” By his tone, it isn’t clear if he means it, but he seems to be arguing very lightheartedly.

As he meanders through the strangely familiar house, he mightly considers leaving gifts in various places for the Deetz’s to find. That’d be highly entertaining. He runs a finger against the coffee pot lightly as they pass by it, imbuing it with an… interesting flavor indeed. Fucking drink that right up, Charles, ya putz.

As they reach the front porch with the treats, he can see the dog off in the distance. But Lydia whistles and Bub comes predictably bounding towards them. The ghoul sniffed. He could already see all over the stupid animal’s face that he was utterly smitten with his wife. That was an impressive first trick. Usually, the mutt is reluctant to wait for damn near anything.

“Lyds he’s gonna knock you ass over teakettle,” remarks the ghost with a chuckle as Bub comes thundering down the lane. “He’s pickin’ up speed.”

And surely, he was, but as she gently and firmly issues the command the dog immediately obeys. Betelgeuse lights a cigarette, looking sour as ever as the dog easily works through a veritable series of commands, one after the other. Eventually, he throws up his arms mid “left-paw” and growls, “Where were you when I was tryin’ to teach you all that stuff, you idiot dog?” he huffs, and huffs all the more as the giant animal wriggles all over his back with his big fat head in Lydia’s lap. “Fuckin’ ….traitor.”

Internally though, he’s mightily pleased and exceptionally impressed, he just has a reputation to keep – the bond between Bub and Lydia will indeed ensure she’s safe if he has to go away again. Which, if his libido continues on like it is, he will absolutely need to.

The ghost waves a hand dismissively, “He’s yours if you want him. You’re the only one who can do anything with ‘im, clearly. Mangy mutt. I don’t think you can get rid of ‘im now if you wanted to. We’re kind of similar like that,” he leers, and then adds, leering harder as she coos and tummy rubs the wriggling animal, “Lyds, if I’da known you were such a dog lover I’da changed m’self into one. When do I get belly rubs?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I’m a cat person,” Lydia corrected, not even deigning to acknowledge his lewd suggestion. The only indication she had even heard it was a smartly arched eyebrow. Really? He could flirt better than that. “I don’t know anything about dogs. I rented a book from the library. It took him two days to learn all that stuff. Can’t get him to stop growling at other people though,” she admitted dismally, slowing her frenzied scratches into long, raking strokes in his glossy coat.

Bub reacted accordingly to the change in pace, calming some and cuddling himself further against her. He would have been curled up like an infant in her lap if only he fit. He settled for shoving his massive head against her breasts and licking the underside of her chin. A show of submission , Lydia knew from her book. Precious baby.

“Delia won’t let him inside. She’s too chicken. Like a sweet boy like you would ever hurt anyone, no you couldn’t- Wait–” Something Betelgeuse said earlier finally sunk in. “If he was raised in the Neitherworld, then he should be… dead , right?”

The beast’s breath was hot on her neck, pounding heartbeat pulsing beneath her sweetly petting hands. Lydia savored the warmth in contrast to the morning draft and cuddled him close once more before gently detaching, rising to her feet, and wiping bits of grass from her backside.

“Not now, Bubby,” she dismissed him at the bottom step with a sympathetic frown and pat. “ Later . After the wicked stepmother flies away on her broom.” Lydia regretted her quip almost instantly. That was an insult to witches.

Politely, she held the door open for her husband on her way back inside before retrieving a large, black, well-used mug from the cupboard. The lip had two prominent cat ears shaped out of the ceramic, and the handle was comprised of a tail. After heaping a healthy dose of cream and sugar to the bottom, she filled it with the tainted liquid gold. The deep, familiar scent brought color to her cheeks and an infinitesimal, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it smile.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Jealousy tinged Betelgeuse’s chest. Dumb dog. Look at him, all snuggled up under those beautiful breasts, in her lap, allowed to lick her anywhere. And enthusiastically! He grumbles under his breath about it, flicking ash from his cigarette. He does find it charming that Lydia’s made such good friends with his errand boy, however, and so he drawls out slowly, “Mmm, looks to me that you’re a dog person now, Lyds.”

He grinned, sly and malicious at the idea of Delia disliking this pooch. Of course she would. Woman can barely handle the idea of keeping her life together out here in Nowheresville. As Lydia asks him about the dog, though, his attention returns from thoughts of Bub shaking egregious amounts of mud all over Delia and her bedroom after a romp in the rain.

“Nah,” affirms the ghost. “Well. Sort of. But no. But yes? He’s a Grim, Lyds,” Betelgeuse replies, matter-of-factly, “They ride the line between the worlds. Traditionally, they’re harbingers of death, but I’m fairly sure you’re well read enough t’know enuff about ‘em,” he pauses and gestures to Bub, “Ain’t what he really looks like. He’s about….mm. Four times larger in the Neitherworld. ‘S why I ain’t havin’ him crawl into my bed, babes. I won’t do it.”

The girl finally releases the hound and stands, wiping grass from her rear. Betelgeuse chuckled something about “yer ass is grass and I’m gonna mow it” cheesily as they headed back into the house. He hoped Delia would leave soon as she promised Bub, then he could have freedom inside the house for a while. Not that he didn’t like Lydia’s bedroom, but he was already feeling the sensation of being constrained – and he wasn’t enjoying it. It was sweet of Lydia to hold the door for him. Another invite, of sorts, to stick around and though he doesn’t mention it, it’s inwardly and perhaps unconsciously appreciated.

He was about to ask her something else when he noticed where she was getting her coffee from. Disinterested eyes suddenly lit up with urgency, and before she could drink it, he had to give her a quick distraction.

“Uh uhhhhh uh- hey Lyds, do you think I’d look fat in one of your dresses?”

It was the only thing he could think of to get her attention immediately, other than what would you have done if I had actually killed your fat slob of a father . He wanted to get her attention, not make her angry with him again. As she hesitates on drinking to answer, he winks swiftly and turns her coffee back to just the plain old stuff.

“…..I think I’m more of an A-Line though….” the coffee pot follows. He’ll have to come up with something else for Chuckie. This is going to be interestingly tricky. Grumble!

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The discovery that Bubby wasn’t only abnormal- something Lydia had gathered on her own quite swiftly- but an honest to goodness Grim was somewhat anticlimactic. After seeing so many fantastic, impossible things in the Neitherworld, this was easy to accept.

“Hey Lyds, do you think I’d look fat in one of your dresses?”

What the fuck kind of a question was that?! Lydia glared suspiciously over the rim of her steaming mug. “You keep your filthy hands off my clothes.” He would bust them at the seams if he even tried. Satisfied with her warning, she took a deep sip of sweet, caffeinated, hazelnut elixer before making to return to her bedroom.

“Delia and my father are going to Hartford today for some important investor’s meeting or whatever. She’s only going so she can shop at some ‘real’ department stores- that, and she likes to insert herself so she can feel important. Anyway ,” Lydia began again with a hint of exasperation, once more holding a door open and shutting it behind him with all the manners of a proper gentleman, “this means that the house is mine today- and by extension, yours. They should be gone most of the day so we can do whatever we want.”

Of course, Lydia almost always did whatever she wanted anyway, but Betelgeuse’s presence demanded a revision of decorum. She curled up in her reading chair, both palms wrapped around the warm mug, and tilted her head to the side coquettishly while examining the way he moved about her room. “I didn’t really have any plans when I called you,” she admitted, dipping her gaze to the creamy concoction she’d been sipping from. “I was mad. It was an emotional reaction. But-” She got more comfortable, leaning to the side and letting her legs swing over the armrest. Flimsy black fabric gathered on the way, revealing her legs almost up to the knee.

“You’re here now. What do you want to do? You’re the boss. I am at your disposal.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Phew. Crisis averted – and the question just miffed her. He looked vaguely at his hands. Yeah, they were definitely filthy. Pleased, he stubbed his cigarette on one of the occasional tables as he meandered with Lydia back upstairs to her bedroom.

He listens to her explain that her parents will be leaving, and he grins just a little from behind her. He kicks off the floor idly and floats into her room as she holds the door open, settling languidly into the air on his back, legs crossed as if he were on some sort of couch. She settles in to her chair, and he vaguely hangs about, looking at her upside-down at one point and smiling rottenly.

Whatever we want, huh?” his mind was suddenly crowded again with bad ideas, and it was written all over his face. No disguising that! Booby trap the entire house was on the tip of his tongue, but he knew Lydia wouldn’t agree to it. Striptease was second, and that was out, “Could make out,” he finally settles on, that grit in his voice mightily suggestive, teasing. “But we all know how distracting that is.”

As she adjusts and swings her legs up on the arm of her chair, that dress hiking up as it does, it captures his attention for a good solid few seconds. He comes back from his little oogle with Lydia offering the titillatingly tempting, “—you’re the boss, I’m at your disposal.”

“Well, Lyds,” he mumbles, “I’m a good idea guy. I have a lot of ideas of what to do with a free afternoon. But my sort of fun and your sort of fun are two very different things,” he winks, “But, I think I can meet in th’ middle someplace. One: we could go on a tour of the Neitherworld, two: we could go visit Barb n’ Adam in the waiting room. I’m sure they’d love t’see you.” Oh, how selfless .

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia was definitely amenable to making out some more, but he had a point. She wasn’t really interested in pushing the envelope on their relationship- even thinking the word made her giddy- that far today. Of course, the way things were going, she wouldn’t be surprised if her opinion were to rapidly change course.

“Have you lost your mind?!” The casual way he suggested visiting Adam and Barbara in the waiting room suggested that he was serious. “Nevermind. Don’t answer that, I forgot who I was talking to. They would never, ever condone-” Lydia struggled for the right word, eventually settling on gesturing at the air between them, “- this . I’d be essentially disowned. They would never understand why I even called you back to begin with.” Lydia wasn’t sure if Betelgeuse even understood or cared, but she wasn’t about to spell it out for him. “Do you know how taboo the subject of that night is in this house? My father turns green anytime anyone says the word ‘wedding.’ Delia doesn’t wear red anymore. If the conversation even looks like it might be turning that way, they all shut up and change the subject. I can’t- couldn’t talk about you or that to anyone.”

It was no wonder her regret over the occasion was allowed to fester until it came to a head. Lydia was never allowed to process the event normally; discuss, share her anxiety, receive others opinions. Any thought that came close to Betelgeuse and her almost-wedding was forced to remain locked up tight in her ravaged, guilt-prone mind.

“That being said,” she finished, settling back comfortably after her impassioned counter-argument, “I would love to see the Neitherworld today. Let me finish my coffee and I’ll get ready. Can we bring Bubby? I want to see what he really looks like.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Yeah well,” Betelgeuse drawls, floating down onto her bed, unperturbed at her impassioned refusal to visit Barb and Adam and how he had traumatized all of them, “ They didn’t marry you, I did .”

He picks at his fingers, “Just ‘cause they have issues with the deal we made doesn’t mean they get to decide how you get to feel about it. I owe Barb at least one good scream Lyds, she fed me to a fuckin’ sandworm .”

He doesn’t push it, though, because Delia wasn’t too traumatized that she didn’t sculpt his beautiful snake-like visage. He hasn’t seen that sculpture yet – but he would consider it a perfect homage to his efforts in scaring the living daylights out of them.

“I think you dragged me back here not just for the deal but ‘cause you think I’m cute,” he adds, just to be obnoxious, and then he grins, “Sure, I can take you around t’day. And yeah, Beelzebub can come with us. Stop givin’ him cute nicknames, it’s making my stomach green. Y’gonna make him all soft .”

He knows she’s not going to ever acquiesce to the latter. He mostly just seems to enjoy jabbing at her just enough, like old friends do when they talk.

“We can go to the Shocking Mall, oooor the Ice Scream shoppe, or we could go visit the main drag, there’s the Beguiling Swamp and Casino….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia nursed the last inch of her coffee away as he offered her a different viewpoint of the situation. He was absolutely right. They didn’t get to decide how she felt. She just wished it were possible to discuss her feelings at all.

“One good scream is fair,” she agreed before downing the last of her coffee and departing for the bathroom to perform her morning ritual; brush teeth, wash face, apply moisturizer, etc. “Just no emotional or physical trauma, please. I still don’t see why any of them need to find out about us at all . I don’t need their approval… but I don’t want their judgment either.”

Judgment is exactly what Lydia would get. She could already hear the questions, the accusations. How could you? Why would you do this? Are you stupid? He could kill us all! He could kill YOU! That last thought coincided with his expectantly cocky theory about why she called him back. Indulging her dark sense of humor, Lydia shelved her trepidation over revealing something this personal and decided that yes, she would spell things out for him.

“I called you back because I thought you would kill me on the spot,” Lydia corrected bluntly, a smirk in her voice as she shut the closet door behind her. Maybe that would knock his ego down a peg. “I was so shocked when you didn’t that I was ready to agree to whatever you wanted.”

She settled on a mid-waist, ankle-length black skirt and a lightweight cropped sweater- also black, of course- that would expose a scant amount of pale midriff whenever she raised her arms. After settling at her vanity to do her makeup, she listened as he rattled off all the different locations they could visit.

“Oh, all of them . I want to see it all- and no, I will not, he is a precious baby and will be treated as such.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“One good scream is fair.”

Good. Gooooood good. Well, who gets to decide what a “good” scream is? He might have to try to make her scream A LOT before finding the one. He scowls as she mentions emotional trauma. That’s something he simply can’t promise – he can’t tell who’s going to get PTSD from his scares. Although, he would assume most of them . He’s a bio-exorcist, not a birthday clown.

He lurks around on her bed watching her hover in her bathroom’s mirror, doing whatever it is women do while they’re “putting their face on”. He sniffs, picking at his nails and frowning. “Who cares about their opinions anyway? We have a beautiful relationship. I’m a mature, workin’ man babes. And you’re in the prime of your womanhood. They should be happy . And they should be happy because you’re happy, m’ little black rose.”

They would be so unhappy. So very, intensely, deliciously unhappy and that makes the evil thing in Betelgeuse’s chest purr.

He startles vaguely at her strange joke, suddenly staring at her intently as she swirled through her closet. And then he laughs .

“What and waste that fresh, lovely little body of yers? You’re good, Lyds. That’s funny. I never wanned t’kill you, you were all ‘oh no a snake!’ ‘Oh no a bridegroom!’ – you were scared of my very nature. I kill two people by plowing them through your ceiling and you think I’m going to murder everyone in this house,” he chuckles as if finding this very hilarious before he cuts off the laughter suddenly. “And I just might if they cross me again.”

He watches as she dresses. He’s always watching, his concentration on Lydia rarely falters for something else – and that’s unusual for the spasmodic ghost who can rarely decide on anything or concentrate on anything for long. He likes the way she moves, the way clothes easily fall onto her slim frame, the way she sits with a gentle curve to her back. He’s always finding something new, something to fuel his frustrated lust later.

“A’aight, sure, precious…whatever.” he agrees, putting his GUIDE cap on again, in a breath he’s dressed in the duster jacket and touring outfit of yore. He liked this ensemble. It was close to some of the more original outfits of his day.  Plus it showed off his cute ankles. “We’ll go wherever ya like, I’ll show you everything.” He pauses, and then smiles, evilly, behind her back as a slimy little plan forms in his head, “I’ll even show you some of my favorite places .”

It was not his favorite place that he was going to show her. Far from it, but why wait on torturing Adam and Barb? He’s never been a patient sort of guy, and he has no reason to start now.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Who cares about their opinions anyway? We have a beautiful relationship. I’m a mature, workin’ man babes. And you’re in the prime of your womanhood. They should be happy. And they should be happy because you’re happy, m’ little black rose.”

His creative terms of endearment always made her feel warm and mushy inside, usually softening the blow of whatever ghastly thing he had said right before them. This time was no different. “ Prime? I’m a flat-chested midget. I am not done yet. My boobs need to get bigger. I can’t stay this short forever, it’s not fair. I need at least… six more inches. Then I won’t have to use a stepping stool for everything.”

A thick mass of ebony waves was gathered on top of her head into a high ponytail, several tufts left down to hang in front of her ears and frame her face. Then, she pulled a simple black choker around the thin column of her neck. This was one of the skinnier ones so that if her husband decided he wanted to leave more marks on her, there wouldn’t be anything in his way. A small, circular, black gemstone dangled down from the center and the studs she proceeded to decorate her lobes with- they were pierced thrice- matched spectacularly. Subtle, yet dramatic strokes of coal along her lashes gave her cat’s eyes, larger and more expressive than ever. Rather than her usual black, Lydia decided to coat her lips with a deep, bloody red today. Just to change things up.

Satisfied with her appearance, she presented herself to him, ready to abandon the realm of the living in favor of more interesting adventures. The sight of his guide hat made her lips curl into a wide grin that showed off her teeth- white, polished, smelling of wintergreen.

“That’s cute, Beej.” Where did that nickname come from? She couldn’t remember ever having called him that before. Oh well. He didn’t seem phased by it, so it was probably okay. She reached up, flicking the lip of his hat just enough. “I’m ready if you are.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Babes,” the ghost says, seriously, sitting up very straight, “You’re the sexiest girl I’ve ever met, hands down, not lyin’. I want to bang you on every surface of your parent’s house . And not just for revenge purposes, but a little for revenge purposes. You have no idea the things I wanna do to your hot bod. Your tits are gorgeous, I’ve been staring at ‘em all day n’ whenever I’ve seen you so I should know,” he says, plainly informative. “Also,” he grates, eyebrows waggling, his voice low and lusty, “I’ve got six inches I can give ya. You won’t even need a step-stool to reach ‘em.”

She did walk into that last one. As she finally finishes fixing herself, he slings his legs off the edge of her bed. And then she does that slow motion sort of reveal thing…or maybe she just does in his mind… somewhere in his imagination ‘Bad Medicine’ starts playing. Every time . She does this effortlessly every time in hopes he’ll drop dead again just from looking at her, it isn’t fair. The ghoul makes a noise low in his throat that’s half way between a whimper and a grumble, on the edge of a growl but not quite. It turns into a hiss and he clacks his teeth together nastily.

“I shouldn’t letcha go outta the house lookin’ like that,” he says, fixated, “none ‘of ‘em out there deserve to see you lookin’ so fuckin’ fine.” And that was true. Betelgeuse had a jealousy streak a mile wide. His pretend of not caring was only a thinly veiled façade.

Piercings. She had three on either ear, which meant she could handle, and was welcoming towards, a certain threshold of pain. The concept made him nearly dig his fingernails into his palms. He slid towards her just a little as she approached as if drawn to her, and he grinned back at her as she flicked the brim of his faded grey hat. She likes it, so that makes him doubly pleased indeed. He could sense that today was going to go exceedingly well for him. Instead of replying, he relinquishes control for just a moment to kiss her very gently on those blood hued lips, and while her eyes flicker shut the transition happens. In a whooshing rush, he transports them both right into the Neitherworld.

Once the ghost pulls his head back, it’s clear they’re on some sort of popular main street. There are dead people everywhere , some revealing the manner in which they departed by how they look, along with strange monsters and beings all muddled together. They brush past the couple as they go about their business, strangely hued women with shopping bags laugh as they progress along the street. Some recognize the ghost with the girl and they hurry along faster, whispering and shuddering to each other.

“Well Lyds, this is one of the better neighborhoods here. Lots of stores. Ain’t the Shockin’ Mall but its sorta close. I myself live in a place called Wormwood, but this here is Uptown. ‘S called that ‘cause it’s literally up from anywhere else. S’ got places like Abrah’s Cadavers, Insannah Tea House, Bloodbath n’ Beyond, Al Ligori’s bookshop, The Less is Mortar n’ et cetera.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia had absolutely nothing to say to his explicit description of how very badly he wanted to fuck her. It wasn’t new information, but it still managed to throw her for a loop whenever he voiced it. This time was no different. She blushed deeply, and sputtered out something that sounded like “thank you” because she was polite in all things and he had just complimented her. Kind of. In his own lewd way. The frank honesty was somewhat charming.  

Before approaching him, she’d draped her camera over her neck, unwilling to forget it this time. When he bent down for a kiss- about time- she accepted it easily, tilting up to meet him. When her eyes fluttered back open, she instantly realized what had happened. The abrupt change in scenery was jarring and instantaneous. It knocked her off balance and she clung to him for purchase, clutching the material of his trenchcoat. Her stomach bottomed out, vertigo settled in, and for a moment she feared she might lose her coffee all over his shoes.

“Woah,” she breathed, closing her eyes and taking several deep breaths to center herself. The dizziness passed quickly. As she began to take everything in, he was already rattling off the names of different stores.

“S’ got places like Abrah’s Cadavers, Insannah Tea House, Bloodbath n’ Beyond, Al Ligori’s bookshop, The Less is Mortar n’ et cetera.”

Her camera was pressed to her face and she was aiming it in every direction, not willing to miss anything. She wandered, using her lens as eyes, vaguely aware of him still speaking behind her. The edge of the road fell off into nothing and she stood at the threshold, fearless of the certain doom that would meet her should she fall- instead aiming her camera at it. She caught every polaroid as they fluttered from her camera, tucking them into a black bag slung across her shoulder. They wouldn’t be examined until much later when she was back in the realm of the living and needed a reminder that this had actually happened, no Lydia, you’re not crazy. Well, maybe a little.

“I don’t know where to start,” she huffed in excitement, wild eyes scanning the storefronts, smiling and nodding politely at every ghoul or monster that shuffled passed them. “There’s so much!” While they all piqued her interest, the bookshop and teahouse were definitely at the top of her list, but she really wasn’t interested in letting Betelgeuse spend that kind of money on her. A meal was one thing. Gifts were another. “Take me somewhere you like,” she decided finally, turning fully to face him. “Anywhere, I don’t care what it is. You could take me to a bar. Do you have bars? Can you get drunk? Is that a thing? I mean, you smoke, so…”

She trailed off, seemingly realizing that she was getting very easily worked up over things that were commonplace to him. It was time to pull together and behave like the “prime woman” he believed her to be and not the awkward teenager she knew she truly was.

“It doesn’t matter where we go. I’ll be happy with whatever you show me.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As she clings to him for balance once they transport, the ghoul smiles. He likes it. He also seems to like her enthusiasm, waiting patiently as she snaps every picture she can with her Polaroid. Juno would be having frothing conniptions if she knew he had permitted her to do so, and that only makes him happier. As she whirls on him and peppers him with questions, he quirks one brow and looks amused.

“Babes we have every format of bar you could want. Oxygen bars to get that alive sensation, liquor bars, cocaine bars, heroin bars, sex bars, fetish bars, and some of ‘em are a combination of all those things and some other donkey-show type stuff. And sure, yeah I can get blackout drunk. Doesn’t do anything to ya. You don’t even wake up with a hangover. After about the twentieth, fiftieth time ya almost use it to get some sleep, if you needed that , which you don’t. But it sure passes the time.”

She seems awfully eager for him to bring her to the seedier sections of the Neitherworld. He’d be offended that she assumed that’s where he hung out if it weren’t absolutely true . She’s perceptive, he’ll give her that!

“Oh, one more thing,” he snaps his fingers and an enormous, horrific looking monstrous canine rounds a corner. Some Neither denizens worriedly make room for the pitch black thing. It seems to drool some sort of noxious glowing green liquid, steam hissing out the corners of its mouth. And it has teeth. Oh so many teeth, in all the wrong looking places, with all the wrong looking sizes. Its claws look more like a bear’s, and the thing is larger than the size of a lion, easily dwarfing half the people on the street. It ambles easily towards the ghoul and Lydia.

“Lyds, you remember Bubby .” The dog lets go a noise that is plainly horrific, something between a human scream and a rattling howl, like someone being killed in a windstorm. It blinks milky white eyes and picks up the pace as it sees Lydia, almost bounding to her in fact – it would be absolutely terrifying to anyone else and some bystanders look vaguely concerned indeed. But upon reaching her, the enormous creature shoves his head firmly but gently against her belly. It scream-whines low in its throat, rattling, panting. It has so much deep fur.

“And you know, babes, I’ve hung out a lot of places. Dens of ill repute. Dante’s sister location, cocaine bars, I’ve tried it all. Just to get that joy de vivre . But my favorite place, girl, is bein’ anywhere with you as it turns out. I know we haven’t been doin’ this long, but it’s true. Comin’ from a dead guy who’s been places,” he pauses, “I can’t take you to any of my regular spots with you lookin’ like that, either, ain’t no place for a beautiful girl. My girl. I ain’t doin’ it. I am not a sharin’ man, babes, I’m not. And I hate everyone I know that isn’t you. Before you came along, I just hated everybody period.”

After the adamant refusal, he adds, “You know where I really want to go, darlin’? I want to show you how property in the Neitherworld is purchased. So maybe we can get our own place together someday huh?”

He prays internally that she likes the sound of it. He’s only partway serious. He would do that if she liked, but his motivations for the day are fairly revenge based first, fun stuff second.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Heroin bars . Lydia’s face fell at this. She was hoping… she’d thought that here there wouldn’t be any access to… that it might be possible for her mother to…

Before the sinking disappointment had a chance to fully set in, her sweet puppy was bounding toward her, figuratively chasing the bad feelings away. She thought he was massive before, lurking the woods that surrounded her house like a fabled dire wolf. Apparently, that was his sheep’s skin. In truth, he was gigantic ; easily taller than a wild stallion and thrice as thick. Smoke trailed from his paws as he jumped clear over groups of people to meet them, vicious talons breaking away bits of concrete with each hard landing. In the living realm, his eyes were empty black pits, but here they were luminous, swirling and smoky like two crystal balls. He skidded to a stop before them, seemingly aware that he could inadvertently harm his mistress if he were to love her the way he wanted to. Instead of burning her face off with overly enthusiastic acidic kisses, he reigned himself in and settled for nuzzling his big, wet nose against her belly.

“Bubby puppy,” she cooed, throwing her arms around his muzzle in a hug, all thoughts of her mother gone, “look how handsome you are!” This excited him so much that he nuzzled harder, accidentally lifting her slight form about a foot off the ground in the process. “Oh!” Immediately, he realized his mistake, lowered his head until she was back on her feet again, and dropped down to the ground, rolling over and showing his belly in apology. A pitiful shrieking whine filled the air. “It’s okay, baby,” Lydia reassured, using both arms to rake her fingernails across his ribs, digging through his mounds of thick, dark fur. It was so soft she couldn’t help but press her cheek into it, nuzzling much the same way he liked to do to her. However, when she found his sweet spot and his leg started to reflexively kick, shaking her bodily, Lydia withdrew her attention. “Okay, okay, that’s enough, sweet boy. Lay down.” Obediently, he rolled back over to the proper position and laid his jaw flat to the ground, rows of jagged teeth sticking out from his gums.

“Good boy.” He huffed and licked the air in her direction to show his gratitude, knub wriggling even as the rest of him stayed loyally still. Lydia turned her attention back to Betelgeuse in time to hear his steadfast refusal to take her to any of his regular haunts. His reasons only made her roll her eyes. “Not everybody wants to fuck me, you know. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re the only one.” Despite his hopeless machismo, she still found his nearly overbearing possessiveness sweet. It was nice to feel wanted, special, like she was something worth protecting. This feeling was only exacerbated by his next suggestion.

“…So, maybe we can get our own place together someday, huh?”

Yes, they were married, he was her husband, she was his wife, and they had obvious sexual chemistry- something that still sent Lydia reeling, made her feel brave. But this was all so new . It felt much more like he was her boyfriend . Internally, Lydia shuddered at the word and decided never to think it in relation to him ever again. Overwhelmed by his eagerness to fully commit to her in such a way, she had no option but to accept.

“Yeah, sure.” Her cheeks darkened, highlighting the red on her lips, and she averted her gaze in a show of sudden shyness. “I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse’s face is mildly sour as she interacts with Bub. He was supposed to be terrifying . But Lydia, of course, never saw a scare in anything or anybody. Except maybe his snake, and that was only once. “Yer gonna make ‘em soft ,” he reiterates to no avail.

He finally just gives up being too terribly upset over it and takes her by the shoulders, one arm looping around them affectionately. “We’ll go to the property office. I’ll just….” he wriggles a finger around, “….take us there real quick, we can see what all they’ve got. It’ll be a quick trip, promise .”

They take another step forward together and suddenly step off from the sidewalk into a cloud of suddenly swirling paper, which blows around them like a small tornado to reveal that they’ve transitionally entered into a small cramped office. Behind the desk sits a strange fishlike creature with yellow bulbous eyes and fin-like hands. It moves slowly without blinking, surrounded by great mounds of paper. The office itself is bathed in a greenish eerie light, and everything inside of it seems dreadfully old and musty. The windows that comprised most of the office’s walls had collected a good sheen of dust on most of them, though some remained relatively dust-free. It was enclosed on all sides except the pained door, which Betelgeuse slid closed.

“See, this here is the central parcel processing office, Lyds. We made it. If you wanna piece of the Neitherworld, y’gotta come here first. And this here, this is Jim Slake,” he indicates the fish, which stares blankly at him.

Eventually, in a low bubbling voice that creeps from its vocal cords as slowly as it moves, the fish replies. “Bbbbuuurrtllejuiiimmccee! Tooooo wwwhhhaaauut dooooo I oooowwwweee tthhhbbllplleeaaaaaasssurre?”

Betelgeuse helpfully maneuvers Lydia right, then left, then back a bit, and then settles her right in front of Jim’s desk. “You can see the pictures perfectly from right in this spot, Lyds. Don’t move. Jim is going to show us everything he has.”

And the fish does so, slowly, painfully slowly, pushing forward a tome of bound photos at Lydia. They aren’t new looking, but the fish taps some of them with a fin as he carefully begins to flip through them. In that garbled, bubbly low voice, he begins to entreat her on the finer points of the properties in the photos. Some including graveyards, some including mud ponds, some including swamp views or right on the edges of cliffs and some halfway sunk into the ocean. As Lydia attempted to politely remain interested, Betelgeuse quietly backed up behind her, as if looking over her shoulder.

But he wasn’t doing that. No, he was leaning as far back as he could to peer past the windowed wall of the office as if checking on something. He squinted, and then, finding the objects of his interest he zeroed in.

Unbeknownst to Lydia, past this office sat the main office, and past that was the waiting room . And inside the waiting room, he could easily see Barbara and Adam Maitland, bored out of their skulls but waiting ever so patiently. He leaned just enough so they could see him, and waved his arm, suddenly back in the black and white striped suit they must so fondly remember . It takes a moment, but they see him. Barb almost punches Adam’s arm, and flails a finger in his direction. The look on her face alone is beautiful, outrage and shock already plastered on it. Adam has to adjust his glasses but once he does, he stands directly out of his chair, mouth agape. Beautiful .

The fish drones on. To make sure her attention is still focused, the ghost leans back in briefly to mention to her, “You know Lyds, I really like that one with the swamp view,” he gestures at Jim, “Can we see that one again?”

Lydia is so patient. Trying to be so charming. Jim seems to like her, he’s telling her about his spawning grounds up in the Skeletal Highlands and he slowly, painfully slowly, flips back to the swampland property. Betelgeuse leans back again to wave once more at the Maitlands. They’re still staring, shocked, and then he points dramatically at the girl in front of him. Their attention shifts and they see Lydia. They see Lydia . Barb practically claws into Adam, shaking him roughly, and pointing. Already, they’re agitated. So agitated. Adam and Barb march up to Celeste’s window and peer past her. The green woman is doing her nails and can’t currently be bothered to stop them at the moment it seems.

Now they can see better, good.

He’s going to have some fun. As they press in, just far enough to never be able to get to him and his bride, he points again to the girl and immediately makes the finger-in-hole motion to indicate sex. He points to himself with a surprised expression, and then back at Lydia. Oh yeah, we’re doin’ it. Barb looks like she’s going to have a heart attack. With a smug smile, the ghoul immediately ups the ante, curling his fingers around an invisible phallus and pantomiming something enormous going into his mouth, making the grossest blowjob face he can, eyes rolled into his head, tongue out like a panting dog. He points at Lydia once more and makes an Italian air kiss. Bellisimo. She sucks my cock like a whore . His attention returns to Lydia briefly to ensure she’s not seeing any of this.

Fortunately, Jim has her attention. He puts a finger to the back of her head and tilts her forward to look at the book far more closely, leaning over her shoulder firmly for a moment and tapping a photo. “See that feature? I fuckin’ love those things. It gets the slime right between your toes,” and then he leans back up, leaving her bent far over Jim’s desk, desperately trying to see the feature the ghoul could possibly mean.

He cranes back to see Barb and Adam’s horrified, infuriated faces once more and proceeds to air-hump the bent over girl, air-slapping her ass, smiling the biggest, brightest dirtiest smile he can at the Maitlands. This does it for them. Barb is trying to climb through Celeste’s window, Adam is red-faced and shouting. Betelgeuse holds up his hand as if telling them to chill out or to slow down, be reasonable, and they stare at him briefly….only to have him hold up his hand and waggle his fingers. His wedding band catches the light, and he points directly at Lydia once more. Married her .

Hell breaks loose outside Jim’s office. It’s a silent display from within, Jim’s office is made of very thick pained glass and Betelgeuse knows it. Five or six workers rush towards the front, Celeste is trying to hold the Maitlands back inside the waiting room, and the ghost seems entirely satisfied. Adam is trying to fight anyone that will catch his fists, Barb is flushed and sobbing, wailing. With a sniff, Betelgeuse adjusts his jacket and performs the coup de grace , pulling Lydia back away from Jim’s desk to be in full view of the waiting room window, turning her around towards him despite her absolutely confused look, and giving her the most passionate kiss he can at the moment.

“Sorry babes. All this domestic shit has me hot. Maybe we’ll think about it for a while, huh? I don’t wanna rush you. Did you see any you like?” one eye catches even more chaos in the waiting room. He has very clearly broken the Maitlands, reached inside their hearts and crushed them like paper. “I just wanted you t’see the possibilities . Wanna go get some ice cream? I’ll let you meet my brother Donny."

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia, as usual, remained oblivious to her husband’s ill intentions, choosing instead to see some modicum of virtue in him.

As fascinated as she was by Jim- he had interesting things to say provided one gave him time to say them- and the properties he had to show her, she couldn’t help but notice that this was… boring . Exceedingly so. The office itself reminded her of the rundown, dilapidated buildings in New York her father used to gut out and make his own; peeling paint, stray roaches, rife with spirits. The similarities were endless.

Nevertheless, the mundane nature of this monotonous task only served to warm her heart to Betelgeuse further. She knew him enough by now to know that he would never have even considered voluntarily sitting through something this dull were it not for her. He was serious. He meant what he was saying. He really, truly, genuinely wanted them to live together one day. Lydia had never done anything so adult her entire life, including their heated makeout session. This was positively, wonderfully tedious! It was enough to put her on the verge of bubbliness.

The houses themselves were marvelous. Some were little more than one-room shacks surrounded by filth and detritus. Lydia didn’t pay much attention to those, though she knew they were more up Betelgeuse’s alley. Others could only be described as castles, shadowy monuments that reminded her of dark medieval tales; vampires, curses, and ill-fated maidens.

“Oh,” she gasped in delight on the next page flip, eyes brightening, ignorant to the lewd gestures taking place right under her nose. “I like that one. This is tar beach, right?”

“Thhhhhhaaaaaaaat'sssshhhhhh riiiiiiiiiiiiggghhhhhhht, Miiiiiiiissssshhhhhhhuuuuusssss Juuuuuiiiiiiiiimmmmmccccceeeee,” Jim answered excruciatingly slowly, before proceeding to give her a number that might have meant something if she knew anything about Neitherworld currency. That glow in her chest hummed at the title he gave her, sluggishly as it was given. Mrs. Geuse . That was the first time she’d heard it aloud from someone else. According to him, that wasn’t his last name, but apparently, this wouldn’t stop other people from addressing her as such.

The house that drew her attention wasn’t a downtrodden hovel or an extravagant palace. It was a beachfront cottage with a decidedly eerie twist. The architecture was Gothic in style; sloping, rounded roofs that came to sharp pinnacles at the top, stained glass windows that depicted macabre scenes, three towers all of varying height that were constructed in such a way that Lydia just knew the staircases inside them had to be circular. The room at the top of the highest tower gleamed brightly within the photo, illuminating the elaborately designed windows, and it occurred to her that she was looking at a lighthouse .

It was time to turn the page. She was getting too attached. It was much too soon to be doing things like this anyway. Besides, who knew if this place was even still standing? That hurricane was vicious. The cottage was probably long gone by now. Before she could flip to the next page and burn the image of the dream house from her mind, Betelgeuse had bodily turned her around and was kissing her like he really meant it . After making a tiny surprised noise into his mouth, she melted, her arms coming up to wrap around his neck. It was long, deep, and full of passion, neither of them really wanting to let go but needing to so she could breathe.

“Sorry babes. All this domestic shit has me hot. Maybe we’ll think about it for a while, huh? I don’t wanna rush you. Did you see any you like?”

“A couple,” she answered vaguely, grinning. It wasn’t a lie. Her arms stayed wrapped around his neck as their lips unlocked. When he stood up straight, she had to go up on her tiptoes to maintain the embrace.

“I just wanted you t’see the possibilities . Wanna go get some ice cream? I’ll let you meet my brother Donny.”

Ice cream for breakfast? Betelgeuse had a brother? There was only one good answer to questions like those.

“Absolutely,” she breathed, stars in her eyes. Then, she took the initiative to push herself up those last few inches, pull him down to meet her, and plant one on him that demonstrated that while Betelgeuse was an excellent teacher, Lydia was a quick study.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

There was no virtue to be had here. No, there was only Betelgeuse, who only knew one thing: and that was how to be a monster. He loved Lydia to pieces, which itself was a tragedy in virtue – she was purely good, and he was the exact opposite. He was disgusting inside and out, and he reveled in it. And at the moment, he’s gotten his way twofold – the girl is happy, the Maitlands are having an aneurysm on top of a foaming conniption fit, and the ghost was standing on top of the world. God , it made him horny as hell, and the kiss he’s entangled with Lydia within is only making it worse, so his statement wasn’t entirely inaccurate.

As she continues to hang around his neck as he straightens up, he smiles down at her, ever so pleased. He likes it when she has to stretch to get at him – it reminds him of how petite she really is. As she so breathlessly and joyfully agrees to the latter suggestion, looking so eager regarding the deadly boring place he had brought her to look at property, there’s a tiny, teeny, itty pang of guilt as he meets those sparkling eyes of hers. It’s gone in a puff of smoke though as she pulls him down to meet her lips once more, doubly ensuring the Maitlands are getting an eyeful of his affection reciprocated. He thrills, double coup de grace – and he actually gathers her directly up into his arms in a strong sweep, lifting her off the decrepit floor and slowly twirling her around in Jim’s office. He does want to live with her, the poor thing. He’ll call Jim later about the lighthouse she hovered over. It was still standing, he knew, because the Neitherworld doesn’t really work as the girl imagines – his destructive abilities were usually reversed by an entire team of individuals called The Beetle Busters or the Anti-Ghoul Squad. It took them a while to clean up after him, sure, but that’s the most frustrating part of the Neitherworld – nothing ever changes . It all molders, timelessly but aging slowly and surely, and it creeps behind the real world like a dying but never fully deceased sloth. His powers were most effective in the real world where nothing was ever reversed and his actions were permanent and disastrous.  

The kiss and subsequent twirl-around transitions them out of Jim’s office within another small tornado of paper. After their departure, Jim’s glassy eyes watched the panic and disorder continuing outside his office blankly, before bubbling dreamily out to himself, “Wwwwhaaaaabbbthbhtttt aaaa niiiicccceee ccoouububbbbluubbble.” If the Maitlands had ever made it to his office, they would have found Jim as calm as ever and upon demanding answers from him he would have asked them plainly, “Wwwwwhhhooooobbb?” as if Betelgeuse and Lydia had never even been in his office at all that day. Jim was a fish. Jim was the best. The ghoul could always count on him to forget .

Girl and ghoul found themselves outside the very quaint Uptown Ice Scream Shoppe after dissipating from Jim’s office. Betelgeuse lowered Lydia down and gestured towards it pleasantly, keeping one arm wrapped around her shoulders affectionately. The building itself was actually quite bright in comparison to its neighbors, like something from a different era or place altogether. Creamy white paint coated the façade that remained clean amongst all the decay that ate at everything. It was relatively spotless if a little cracked in places, this place was very obviously maintained . Two thick stately candy-striped columns framed the doorway, which itself appeared almost dwarfed by them. Cheerful and exceptionally large pained windows bathed the outside with a warm yellow light, and inside were white metal tables and chairs from another time. It didn’t seem much busy, but there were a few of the deceased inside, helping themselves to sparkling glasses filled with sugary cold treats.

The ghoul led Lydia inside, asking her about the properties she had seen, but particularly the lighthouse. He was in a position to obtain a free flow of Neitherworld money, and cost was genuinely no object to Betelgeuse anymore, a position he very much enjoyed indeed.

A very cheerful, southern twang greeted them upon progressing through the door. In fact, it turned into an overjoyed twang as it realized who had entered. Emerging from behind one of the large soda pulls was a slim, spotlessly clean individual. He was tall, with a nose that looked vaguely similar to Betelgeuse’s, and blond hair – but everything else was markedly not alike. Handsome on his face, he had straight bright white teeth and he almost looked …. well, alive . He had no dark rings under his eyes, no moldering hair. In fact, his hair was very politely styled with gel into a classic men’s taper haircut with precision cut sideburns that gently flowed into pale stubble on the sides of his face. He was cleanly shaven on the whole and much younger in appearance than Betelgeuse – somewhere between his mid-twenties and early thirties. His eyes, in contrast too, were a happy grey-blue. He wore a white apron – clearly pressed and almost too clean, along with well fitted red and white striped pants. His arms were slim but muscular, and he had colorful tattoo sleeves down each one, the only thing that contrasted with his otherwise neat-as-a-pin squeaky-clean appearance.

“Mah big brother!” He crowed from behind the counter, dutifully wiping off his hands and hurrying around behind the counter and then out of it, towards them, “And a beaaaauut-eee-ful lady!” He was almost breathlessly happy, it seemed, to see them.

Upon reaching Betelgeuse, he stuck a finger against the nonplussed chest of the ghoul with a bright smile, “Now listen here, mister,” he said, in a playful, ever-cheery huff, “You have been misbehaving lately around this here Neitherworld and the Mayor him self asked me to tell you to knock it the big hecky off, alright?” he leaned back then, and wiped his brow, “Gosh I’m sorry to tear into y’like that though. Let’s forget I said anything, okay?”

Betelgeuse’s eyebrows raised slowly. “Okay. Sure thing , Donny boy,” he grunted, noncommittally.

The much slighter ghost turned to Lydia then, clapping his hands together and looking star-struck, “But what have we here, BJ? Who is this beaut-ee-ful companion? He never brings anyone here . He says I’m bad for his image ,” Donny air-quoted, then, and rolled his eyes with a very humored smile, “But he loves his little brother, doncha BJ?”

Placing a heavy hand on the much cleaner shoulder of his sibling, with pain his voice that appeared to be ever-long-suffering, Betelgeuse looked seriously at him as if ready to disclose something very truthful. “Donny…. kid,” he said, slowly, “You are absolutely killing my boner, man.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Beej,” Lydia chastized lightly, embarrassed, squeezing his hand to show her displeasure. Having just met his brother, she didn’t want him to get the wrong idea about her. Betelgeuse didn’t seem like the type to care one way or another, but she would prefer for his family to like her. Donny seemed like a genuinely nice guy , a soft-hearted foil to Betelgeuse’s darkness. It wouldn’t do for him to think she was that kind of girl– whatever that meant.

“Hello,” she greeted, warm and shy, politely extending her hand for a shake. “I’m Lydia, it’s nice to meet you. I’m, uh… well, I guess I’m your sister-in-law.” In case her word wasn’t enough, she tilted her hand just so, letting him catch a glimpse of the silver band on her ring finger.

“EEEK! BJ, YOU DIDN’T!” Donny suddenly screeched like a girl, ignoring the hand completely to sweep her into a bear hug. Lydia squeaked and tensed, squirming until she was released. Like most people, Donny was taller than her, though not as tall as his brother. “Oh, I’m sorry, hon,” he gushed, grabbing up both of her hands and bending his knees slightly so he was more on her level. It appeared both brothers had trouble grasping the concept of personal space. “I just got so excited! I been waitin’ for mah big brother here to find a nice lady n’ settle down for a long time now. Gosh,” he sniffled, genuine moisture gathering at his tear ducts, “I’m just so happy! Oooooh I’ve always wanted a sister!”

Lydia’s eyes grew wide. She was carefully leaning back, putting subtle distance between them, deeply uncomfortable with the emotional display- but flattered, nonetheless. Clearly, she would not have to worry about Donny disliking her. “I’m an only child,” she offered simply, wisely choosing not to add that she had never, not once, desired siblings.

“Not anymore, you’re not, sis!” Her husband’s clean, slim, kept look-alike reassured, nearly driven to excitable tears. He glanced over her shoulder and whatever he saw on Betelgeuse’s face must have given him a signal to back off. Like a light switching on and off, he changed. In a split second, his eyes were dry, he was standing behind the counter- all business- salesman’s grin plastered across his face, rattling off the names of all the different ‘eye screams.’ Free of charge, of course, for his newlywed brother and sister-in-law.  "We have rotberry sneezecake, cooties n’ scream, malted roach crunch, snail slime ripple, death by chocolate-“

“That one!” Lydia pounced on the first safe-sounding option. “I’ll have that one, please!”

“Nuh uh uh,” Donny denied patronizingly, reaching across the counter to pinch her cheek like she was a toddler who had just said something adorable. “BJ would absolutely have a fit if I letcha have that one, my bloody, breathy, fleshy lil sis!”

His smile was too wide. He was too happy. Lydia’s spine tingled, the animal part of her giving warning that despite his cheery countenance, Donny potentially had a darkness inside of him that rivaled his brother’s. It was profoundly unsettling. Lydia liked her evil right out there where she could see it, the way Betelgeuse wore it. Donny kept his hidden beneath layers of sugar, spice, and everything nice.

She flinched away from the touch. “Cooties n’ scream, then,” she decided, smile gone, wary honey eyes locked on the doppelganger.

“Tripple scoop cooties n’ sssscreeeam sundae with extra everythin’ for my beaut-ee-ful baby sister- eeek , just gives you chills , doesn’t it?!”

It did, but not in the way he meant. After taking Betelgeuse’s order, retrieving their respective sundaes, and setting up camp in a corner booth- far away from Donny, at Lydia’s quiet insistence- she allowed herself to speak freely.

“He’s certainly… enthusiastic,” she settled on politely, aiming one last apprehensive glance at the smiling spirit. He was whistling Tip-Toe Thru’ the Tulips while wiping down the already pristine counter. Lydia shuddered, aiming her gaze anywhere but him. Dead people wandered past the window in droves, chatting, shopping, living- but not.

“I guess the necrophiliacs won in the end,” she joked with a smirk before scooping up some whipped scream and cooties with her cherry and plopping it into her mouth. The stem was set nonchalantly off to the side, on top of her napkin. “Jeffrey Dahmer must be having the time of his life- well, you know what I mean .”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Lydia was right to be off-put by Donny. Betelgeuse himself was offput by Donny and he was probably the one person inside the Neitherworld who spent any real amount of time with the guy. Despite all of the people who had inserted themselves into his life under the guise of friendships, the ghost was a very lonely figure. He pushed others away and enjoyed doing so, but after a couple hundred years, it ain’t bad to have some family….even if they are very dubiously related to you. And, like most siblings, the pair absolutely couldn’t stand each other and yet couldn’t do without each other either. Donny has buried so many bodies for him. Forged so many documents. And kept so many of his drunkenly professed secrets tight behind his pretty, tidy little lips.

He hadn’t been able to tell Donny about Lydia, though. Something deep in his chest had prevented him from doing so over the course of the past few weeks – other than being simply utterly preoccupied. Maybe it was because the ghoul knew Donny’s secrets, too.

As Donny swiftly goes about making his wife feel exceptionally uncomfortable, Betelgeuse lets it go on for as long as either one of them can safely stand before giving his brother a stone cold look of “back off, bud” when he knows Donny has pushed it a little too far. His brother, at least, could safely be contained behind the guise of good manners – despite his over-abundant, peculiar, enthusiasm.

He orders himself a roach malt crunch once Donny successfully if annoyingly, dissuades her from the death by chocolate. By the look on Lydia’s face, he can immediately see she’s picked up on how peculiar his sibling truly is behind the sunshiny, happy façade. Smart girl. He squeezes a rough hand on her shoulder reassuringly and Donny happily serves them their ice cream orders. She moves them both to a booth chosen far off from the counter afterward, and Betelgeuse already knows why.

“Babes,” he says, snorting, slurping down a large spoonful of roach crunch as they settle in, “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my brother in one word. Y’know, I’m not even really sure we’re actually related. He just showed up one day at my front door with a stamped piece of paper from The Reconciliatory Office of Relatives & Family claiming to be my sibling. I don’t think anyone would ever choose to be my brother…someone musta played some kinda trick on ‘em.”

At her latter commentary, he almost laughed a mouthful of ice-cream up his nose, instead managing to stop it and glurp it back down. “You’re one too,” he leers at her, matter-of-factly, “Fortunately for you, I ain’t no stiff. But I could be, babes, if given some persuadin’.” His eyes flick, too, to Donny uncomfortably – blink and you’d miss it, but it is distantly too-knowing. He laughs, again, at the Dahmer commentary that follows. “You’re dark, babes. I like it.” He studies her, then, resting his chin in his hand . “Death makes angels of us all, and gives us wings where we had shoulder-blades smooth as raven’s claws.” He pauses, and burps out, “Huurrph. That’s a Doors song.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I don’t know,” Lydia tentatively disagreed with his theory, daring one last shady glance at her deceptively unassuming brother-in-law. “I think he’s your brother.” The way she said it made it sound like she wished she was wrong. “Maybe only half, but there’s something there. He’s with you for a reason… and I don’t think it was a joke.”

“Death makes angels of us all, and gives us wings where we had shoulder-blades smooth as raven’s claws.”

Honey eyes closed while he spoke, savoring the poetry as it came pouring from his mouth like dark, red wine. Once opened again, they were glazed over, taken in by the romance of the moment.

“You’re not going to teach me anything about The Doors,” she began with a warm smile, discomfort eased by his infectious laughter and captivating verse. No one had ever truly appreciated her dark humor before. Even Adam and Barb were often disturbed by it, though they never deigned to say so. Lydia could tell. “I was raised on The Doors, mister. You might know things about Jim Morrison that I don’t, for obvious reasons, but that’s where it ends.”

Lydia wanted very badly to argue with his assessment of her sexual profile, but seeing as she was only just learning about this side of herself, she couldn’t come up with a valid counter. He might’ve been right. What did she know? He was the expert here. “Fortunately for you, I ain’t no stiff. But I could be, babes, if given some persuadin’.”

A naughty idea inserted itself at the forefront of her mind. Something wicked flashed across her gaze- her inner Jezebel fighting to make another appearance. She might pay for this later, but the impulse was too strong to ignore.

“I don’t think you need a lot of persuading,” she determined- audaciously accurate- before licking the last of some melted cream from her spoon, maintaining eye contact, well aware of what she was doing. “But, since you asked so nicely…” Not slowly, but not quickly, she dropped her spoon back into the half-eaten sundae and nudged the bowl toward the edge of the table, signifying that she was done. Then, she retrieved the forgotten cherry stem.

“We can’t all have giraffe tongues like certain individuals I know.” Deliberately, she placed the red, pliable, little twig on her tongue, letting him see. Her cheeks hollowed and her lips puckered while she performed for him, still holding his gaze, confident in her abilities. She knew this trick would pay off for her one day. In under a minute, Lydia had a neat, tight little knot to present for him. She appraised it proudly, holding it pinched between black-painted nails. “But I can still do some things.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Doors fan? Good choice Lyds. We’ll have to see how much you know later.” He itched the soft curve of his cheek vaguely. She gets his attention though, quite quickly with the tone of her voice and what she says next. Oh. Oh really?

That was it. That was the last straw. As Lydia licks her spoon suggestively and neatly places the cherry stem, tied with a skillful tongue down onto the table, the ghost carefully and silently pushes back his chair. He wipes his mouth on a sleeve, jade eyes burning fire at the poor girl.

“Ice cream over,” he grunts, voice low, husky. He grabs Lydia up into his arms as if she weighed nothing, hauling her over a shoulder like a sack of flour. The shoppe itself has cleared out by now, Donny having gone to a room in the back to fetch something perhaps, so Betelgeuse is inclined to much more dramatic action in the face of this challenge. “Yer comin’ with me,” he growls, in a voice that indicates that’s that. He grumbles the whole way out, one of his meaty hands gripping Lydia’s ass to keep her in place as he carries her along.

Off he marches to a back door, cheerfully marked ‘exit - alley’. He kicks the door open easily with a solid thud from his boots and ambles down two moldering wooden stairs into a small brick alley. Neitherworld vermin of unknown sort scatter from in front of him with small hissing sounds. It’s dark, but neon lights from above illuminate the space in sickly greens and purples, some pink light splashing across an enormous metal dumpster that leans against the brick. He carries her to the other side of the dumpster, which hides them both from view of the main street in a dark shadow. The ghoul’s eyes glittered.

“Try n’ take you on a date n’ do everything all above bar,” he grumbles heatedly, “fucking behaved myself n’ everything—-.” He did not behave himself whatsoever , but Lydia doesn’t have to know that. He drops her from his shoulder carefully and easily despite his growling and posturing, maneuvering her body around his easily with his strong hands, veritably panting down her neck as he does so. Lydia finds herself with her back pressed against the sturdy brick, her legs rucked up on either side of the ghoul's hips perversely, his loins pushing deep into her skirt. He pins her like this, his hands supporting her weight by her thighs, which he grabs and gropes lustily, snaking his hands right up the bottom of her pretty clothes.

“Sly lil’ minx,” he purrs grittily, leaning in, “Let’s see how talented that tongue really is…”

He was going to have some fun in this greasy, nasty alley, it seemed and he was done waiting patiently to slake himself. He kissed her, passionately then, and she could feel him shudder with barely contained need, his tongue searching hers. Her lips and mouth were as delicious as ever and all he wanted was to drown himself there, at least for a while. He was going to mark her and this time he was going to be there to enjoy the results.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When Lydia was very, very young- little more than a toddler- she wanted to learn how to cook so that she could make a witch’s brew like the characters in her stories made. With the coordination and strategy skills of a small child, this meant she often hurt herself. Be it by playing with knives, touching the burner, or falling from the stepping stool she used to reach the forbidden items. Over and over again her mother would warn her of the dangers, and over and over again Lydia refused to listen.

Apparently, she still hadn’t learned her lesson.  

There was no ignoring the hand on her ass this time, not like on the beach. There might have been an initial struggle when he first flung her over his shoulder, but she surrendered so quickly it couldn’t possibly count. What did she expect, honestly, provoking him like that? Hadn’t he warned her? She knew what this was. As they descended into the grime and shadows of the back alley, a spark of fear hit her. The fun kind, the thrilling kind. The kind of fear where one didn’t know what was going to happen next, rather than being assured of their own certain doom.

He was so strong . He handled her like she was made of paper and he didn’t care if it ripped or not.  She knew now that the derisive words he said to her back on the beach were a ruse, a trick to lower her self-esteem and make her more vulnerable to him. Once again, she couldn’t bring herself to feel the rage she knew she should. A different kind of fire was raging, leaving no room for silly things like indignation and hurt feelings. He pressed her into the brick, not even allowing her legs to touch the ground before wrapping them firmly about his hips. Ragged claws and calloused fingertips dug into her thighs, sinfully experienced hands finding the opening to her skirt in the short time it took him to position her to his liking.

He surged against her, pressing something unmistakably big, hard, and familiar between her legs. The hands beneath her skirt were greedy; scratching, squeezing, searching. It didn’t take them long to find the cushiony flesh of her ass. She wore a tiny, lacy, black thong today- the sexiest pair of underwear she owned. Precautions had to be taken, after all. It wouldn’t do to be caught in a position like this while wearing her silly bat-patterned briefs. Despite the significant size difference between them- he was so tall, so solid, so bulky- they fit together so easily .

Again, his hips pushed, sliding her a bit further up the wall and sending waves of hot, aching pleasure that pulsated from her core throughout her entire body, down to her toes and fingers. She slid up, he bent down, and then their lips were locked together again. She tried to keep up, she really did, but he was so much . Soft, fleshy, untoned legs tightened around him. Clunky black boots dug into his backside. The only layers between their most private places were a barely-there scrap of lace and the rough fabric of his trousers. It was so good- so fucking good- it had to be wrong. She tried to cry out, but her pleas were lost into his mouth, garbled by his unyielding tongue. Finding a sliver of mercy within him, he moved his sloppy attention down her neck, leaving one last sharp bite on her bottom lip before making his descent.

“Please,” she begged, unsure of what she was asking for. “It’s- it’s too much- I can’t-” Again, he sunk his fangs into her, right on the fading pink mark she’d been showing off like a tramp all week. It hurt, and she shrieked, but the pain was so intermingled with euphoria she could hardly tell them apart. “Please!”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She was wearing a thong . It was lace, he could feel it, and it left her bottom as bare as the day she was born. If the flirting wasn’t provocative, this absolutely was . She knew this might happen to her today, or at least, some part of her wanted it to , clearly. It made heat surge through his chest, especially as she practically molds to his body, arching, lifting towards him as he pushes against her. He grunted, almost overwhelmed at how easily and readily she responded to him, thrilling at the idea that she wanted this as much as he , her fires burning, stoked to rise so quickly. She was beautiful like this, helpless in his wave of lust, so desirous but so perfectly worsted, too.

At the sensation of Lydia’s thick boots digging into his backside, the ghost huffs, unable to stop a groan from escaping his lips and into her mouth, her warm and soft thighs tightening around him. It was enough to make him crazy, and it pushes his thundering arousal up against her even more firmly, the sensation of that tiny, increasingly heated and wet scrap of lace hitting him quite completely now. He can almost feel her plump, juicy labia there, the ridge of his thick cock working rudely up between them, rubbing the fabric of his striped suit against the barely covered excitable flesh. She makes a noise at that, a muffled cry into his lips, and he has to brace himself from the edge, only barely managing to avoid ending their encounter far too soon.

Whatever she considered about herself, she was a natural at this. Everything she did in response to him only made him wilder for her, and he would have had her then and there if it wasn’t for being directly next to a battered and leaking Neitherworld dumpster. With any other partner, the ghost would have never stopped his indulgence, finding the disgusting atmosphere of a back alley dumpster fuck exactly to his tastes. But with Lydia, it halts him, keeping her from further gross degradation at his hands. This was just as horrible as she could probably safely stand, and he would want her first time to be….well. Not this.

As for now, though, his animalistic lust is being satiated fairly enough, perhaps even better than if he’d indulged. Just the very imagining of dropping his zipper and nudging away that fabric to stretch her wide around his cock and then not doing it was a perfect state of agony. Already, she was breathlessly pleading with him, and he moves to ravish her neck, teeth digging in to previously marked, sensitive places. It elicits such a good noise from her, that shriek, it sings in his ear and she can feel his trapped cock twitch hard against the fabric of her thong in response. The front of his trousers are hopelessly wet by now, having drenched them between her juices and his over-eager responses.  He apologetically, slimily licks the bite mark, growling against her skin. He desperately wants to slide his fingers inside of her, but he holds off, instead noting that her sweater has rucked up just enough to see the bottom of those sweet, luscious little breasts of hers. Little devil.

“Please what?” He murmurs, voice a heavy gravelly rumble, moving from her neck to pull back just enough to push her sweater up a bit further. He exposes her to him, letting the snowy mounds of her breasts free, the cooler breeze through the alley brushing over them. “No bra, and a thong , you know what you want . Daddy’s werkin’ on it,” he pants, breathily, “I’m gonna give you every inch of this thick dick deep into that tight little pussy of yours when you’re ready, dove. I ain’t gonna do it here, but I’m gonna make you scream for me.” He grunts before dipping his head down and capturing a sweetly pink nipple into his lips. Lydia can feel the moss of his face and his stubble brush against her, and he noisily slurps at her breast, pulling her up against him to do so. Her skin is soft as velvet his mouth and against his tongue, and the noises it elicits from her are beautiful. He can’t stay like this for too much longer, every part of his body screams for release.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Her underwear was soaked through. Her breasts were bared and under attack. Anyone could walk by and see them if they really looked. Daddy. It was all so filthy and wrong and humiliating and so, so right . Lydia was operating on pure instinct, undulating her hips like a seasoned whore, pushing harshly against his damp, clothed cock, meeting him thrust for thrust like they were already fucking. She couldn’t remember why she wasn’t supposed to be doing this. It seemed such a silly thing to be afraid of. If he had hooked a claw around the front of her crotch, pulled it aside, and sunk her down onto his “thick dick”- Lydia believed him, no visual proof necessary- she would not have objected.

It wasn’t as though she was some kind of virgin who deserved rose petals and silk sheets. A disgusting, dumpster-side fuck seemed fitting to her. Nevertheless, he appeared to be in disagreement with this notion. Lydia wasn’t sure if she was thankful for that or not yet. He knew what would make the horrible, wonderful ache go away and she wanted him to give it to her , no matter what it took.

“Ah!” A sharp cry echoed throughout the alley as he bit down on one of her pebbled nipples, simultaneously pinching its twin between calloused fingertips. The sting was immediately soothed away with lathing strokes of his tongue and sweet, pawing squeezes. Then, he switched, moving vicious, hungry teeth to the other, suckling and nibbling it to a similar state of redness. She was thoroughly marked, now. When she looked in the mirror later that night, she would be able to see everywhere he touched her; dark purple fingerprints and light red scratches- it was a wonder he hadn’t broken skin- along her ass and thighs, vivid flowering discolorations leading a trail from her neck down to her previously unblemished breasts. Let her father and Delia ignore these like they had the others.

One itty bitty pale hand was tangled in his hair, unwillingly gripping tighter than she would consider polite while the other found its way beneath his jacket and clutched at his back. His furiously grinding hips and her own frenzied grip were the only things keeping her pinned to the brick at this point.

“Beej,” she pleaded again breathily, entire body shaking from the immense pressure it was under. Sweat coated her all over, making her feel as slimy on the outside as she did on the inside. Her arms and legs felt weak, liable to give out any moment and send her crashing to the squalid ground. The logical side of her knew he wouldn’t let that happen. Still, she refused to release the rigid muscles, instead working them against him adamantly, following the animal intuition that already knew what to do. “I want- oh, God please- I don’t know how- ” He didn’t seem concerned with her begging, well invested in feasting on her breasts. “I need you,” she practically sobbed, on the verge of breaking to pieces.

A savage growl built up in his chest, violent enough for Lydia to feel the vibrations over all the other distracting stimulation. He bit down on the flesh that covered her pounding heart, his greedy palms found her ass again, and then he was jerking against her, wrenching her against him, dry fucking her right into the rough wall. Surely, there would be marks on her back to match the other evidence of his abuse. She broke. Every rigid tendon in her body froze and tightened before releasing completely. A new flood of moisture soaked the front of his trousers, absolutely destroying her favorite panties, and Betelgeuse earned his scream.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Oh , the noises he was eliciting from her were beautiful. Her tiny hand tangles in his unruly shock of hair, grabbing for him, pulling him to her, the other snaking into his jacket to properly grab him, like a little rider trying to hang onto an unruly bull. It made him wild . She begged, brokenly, for him, for more, the more he knew he desperately wanted to give her. It was enough, and with that low hard growl, his teeth sinking into her flesh just enough, he has his way with her as much as he can while retaining what little dignity he could leave her.

It feels almost as close, with the way he dry fucks her, hunched over her petite body like a relentless animal. Each thrust makes her little breasts bounce, he can feel them doing so underneath the pulse of his neck. And oh yes, there’s a pulse there, although there hardly needed to be. He works at her, grabbing her against him in a cloud of lust, that hard ridge pushing and straining fiercely against its constraints, threatening nearly to burst them. She felt amazing, so soft, hot, so alive , the soaked silken fabric pushed almost flat between her labia. They caress his dick with each thrust, enveloping it in that sweltering heat, and he nudges her clit over and over again with his movements. Eventually, it’s all too much for her, her little body overstimulated and thoroughly abused, and she clings to him and screams for him. Sonorous, dulcet tones that echo through the alley, her orgasmic outburst is something he could bear to hear for the rest of eternity. He knows instantly it’s a noise he could not tire of – her sweet sound of release is unlike he had ever heard before in all his years alive or dead. He can feel her whole body clench around him, pressing him hard against her as she soaks herself and him. It’s too much for him then, too, and with a rough, growling, throaty snarl into her chest, he finally comes hard, drenching the front of his own striped suit, cock as hard as ever, twitching with each gush of his release.

In the exhausted, panting moments that follow, he gathers Lydia up into his arms and away from the wall, sinking down onto the grimy alleyway floor into his lap. When he can finally catch his breath, he slowly and softly kisses her bruises, guiding her head onto his shoulder and petting her hair gently, affectionately.

“Babes,” he says, hoarsely, clearly shell-shocked, “That was the best I’ve had in six-hundred years.”

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Babes, that was the best I’ve had in six-hundred years.”

Oh, she wanted to believe that so badly. It sounded so true and honest, more genuine than most of the bullshit that came spewing out of his mouth on a regular basis. Lydia wasn’t stupid. He lied and manipulated to get what he want and he got her- exactly where he wanted her; curled up in his lap, thrumming in post-orgasmic bliss, and falling into a pitfall of dangerous emotions from which there was likely no escape. Dependant .

“Don’t say that,” she whispered, small and exposed, begging with him once more. Little not-quite gasps escaped with each soft brush of his lips across heated, abused tissue. They were cool again and it felt nice . “That’s not… Don’t say things like that if it’s not true.”

And it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. She knew he fucked his way through that entire whorehouse of thumbelinas, and probably countless other bordellos that she didn’t want to know anything about . There was no way a dry romp with a flat-chested midget behind his creepy brother’s ice cream parlor could possibly compare. Despite the beautiful lie, she melted into his attention, following his silent cues and giving full, unfettered access to whatever piece of flesh he wanted seconds of.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“It’s true,” the ghoul mumbles into Lydia’s hair as he leans against her forehead. “I…..” he hesitates, and then laughs, his voice shamefully embarrassed , “….I think those other girls were just humorin’ me, Lyds.”

It’s probably the most humble confession Betelgeuse has ever made, and indeed, it was a factual one. He keeps touching her, gently, positively woozy in an afterglow unlike one he’s felt before. And yes, for him, a dry hump with his new wife from a marriage of inconvenience into something else in a greasy alley behind a dumpster, right outside his creepy brother’s ice cream shop seemed amazingly appropriate for a transformative experience.

His hand slams down next to them both, suddenly, and he devours whatever insect he had nabbed as if it wasn’t even a second thought. He licks his dirt covered fingers, and tucks his legs up, easing her against him closer. That was nice. That was nicer than it had any right to be. He could feel her heart against his breast, and he savored that sound of living flesh against him. Suddenly, the alleyway door behind them opened, bathing them both in a pale, but bright light. It makes Betelgeuse squint and curse, raising his arm up over his head to bar the light from his eyes. He huddles Lydia closer as if to shelter her from whoever has intruded on their intimate moment.

“Oh lil’ sis,” comes the lilting voice from the doorway, shiny, clean black shoes descending the two wooden stairs. They stop on the last one. The voice is clearly Donny, silhouetted in the light. He holds out a hand, and on the end dangles Lydia’s camera, which he waves slowly back and forth, “You forgot this, lil’ darlin’. Wouldn’t wantcha to leave it here.”

Had Donny been waiting for them to finish? Had he heard the entire exchange? The answer, horrifically is he likely did.

Betelgeuse curses, pulling Lydia’s sweater back down as he hides her against him to do it, hunching over her protectively as he fixes her clothes and tries to fix her hair, but he most likely only makes the latter worse. “Time t’go,” he mutters to her, standing them both up. He isn’t embarrassed at all but he does seem annoyed . “Get your camera from Donny n’ I’ll get us outta here. I’ll take you to my place.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia didn’t need very much encouragement to cling to delusion. If he wanted to boost her self-esteem with pretty lies- use his casual dishonesty for good instead of evil- she would let him. So there she sat snuggled against him for precious few moments, basking in his attention, and let herself fantasize that she was the best he had ever had. It made her feel powerful and beautiful, and she would have sat there cuddling him behind that disgusting dumpster just as fucking long as he wanted were it not for Donny’s unsettlingly timed intrusion.

Very quickly, her pride and afterglow were tainted with a curdling wave of horrible shame. God, he probably listened to them. She was mortified. Betelgeuse set her back on wobbly legs, tugged her sweater back into place to preserve her modesty, raked a clawed hand through her mussed, loose ponytail, and then sent her off to collect her camera. Her grimace of protest at the order could not be masked. Why couldn’t he do it? Donny was his creepy brother. Nevertheless, Lydia was no chicken and she wasn’t about to start clucking like one.

“Thank you,” she mumbled with obligatory politeness and retrieved her camera and sling from his outstretched arm without touching him or making eye contact.

“Any time, sis .” Lydia had a sinking suspicion that if she were to look into that oh so familiar- and yet not- face, she would notice even more striking similarities between the brothers. “Gosh, has anyone evah told ya that you got the puuuurtiest voice? I bet you sing like a bird,” he hypothesized, leaning far outside the doorframe, clinging to it with both hands. He was taller than her, his silhouette casting a shadow that easily encompassed her in the gritty backstreet. This one felt more threatening than all the others. “Soprano, right? I’m a tenor, mahself…

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As Lydia moves to retrieve the camera, Betelgeuse lights a cigarette still on the floor of the alley, but upon hearing Donny speak he turns, slowly. And then, after a quick moment, he stands, swiftly moving to his bride’s side. If she had looked at Donny, his appearance definitely would have seemed horrifically familiar indeed. He has his brother’s leering face.

With a growl, Betelgeuse has heard enough and moves between them, taking Lydia’s hand to reassure her. “If I rip your balls off, Donny, you’ll fuckin’ hit those high notes real quick .”

Leaning back just enough to hover in his brother’s face, Donny’s smile turns into a gloating sneer, his cheerful countenance showing cracks. “Oooooh. Promises, promises, big brother dear,” he replies snippily, and moves away then, lurking back into the ice cream shop. Breezily, he adds from inside, “Jus’ bein’ complimentary on the operetta. Thanks fer stoppin’ by - I’ll send y’all a real nice weddin’ gift.”

Huffing, Betelgeuse has had enough. Taking a good grip on Lydia’s shoulder, he transports them in a wave of glittering dust from the dank alley to the doorway of a very peculiar looking building. It appears to be a place of residence, but all at strange angles and elevations. It almost looks like it’s ready to topple off the side of the cliff face it sits on, and a large blinking neon sign reads something about a roadhouse hanging precipitously off the side.

“Home sweet home, Lyds,” he gestures, leading her with an arm around her shoulder, opening the overly large and strangely shaped front door. The handles of said door are made from some large pieces of bone which make for easy gripping. “Welcome to the roadhouse.”

Upon entering, they are greeted by a very happy skeleton who seems overjoyed to see Lydia again. Betelgeuse frowns, he was hoping Jacque wouldn’t be home.

“Miss Lydia!” he says, intoning breathlessly, “Oh it is so good to see you once more—-“ he pauses, and finally takes in how she looks. Rumpled, bruised, mud on her dress and ruddy cheeks, her expression inscrutable, the skeleton looks accusingly at Betelgeuse.

“Beetl-el-joo-ce!” he exclaims, eye sockets narrowed in righteous anger . “What have you done to zis marvelous creature?!” he rolls up sleeves he doesn’t have and marches closer, holding a bony fist up at the ghoul threateningly. “You tête de noeud , you scoundrel , j'en ai ral le bol! Engarde! I will fight you, t'es rien qu'un petit connard!”

Ah dammit.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia sincerely hoped that Donny never sent them, or her, a gift for anything ever. She huddled under her husband’s arm when he came for her, grateful for the salvation. His brother was utterly terrifying when he wanted to be. Leaving someone as unflappable as Lydia in such a shaken, unsettled state was not an easy task.

Never bring me back there again, she wanted to plead but didn’t. Donny was Betelgeuse’s brother, and therefore important to him, no matter how her husband might posture otherwise. So long as she was only exposed to the bare minimum of what was absolutely necessary of his company, all would well. Thankfully, Betelgeuse seemed equally fed up with his brother’s shit and was quick to get them the Hell out of there.

BJ’s Roadhouse read a giant, flashing neon sign above the door. It was marvelous! An off-kilter balcony hung from the gaping mouth of a slanted doorway on the second floor and was that… a satellite dish on the roof? It was. Betelgeuse had cable and this was almost hilarious enough to make her forget all about their romp in the alley… until Jacque reminded her.

“No, no,” she defended urgently, standing as a petite barrier between the two- similar to how Betelgeuse had guarded her just minutes prior. “It wasn’t like that-”

“Hon hon hon!” The skeleton sneered, aware of Lydia’s presence but towering over her, maintaining eye contact with Betelgeuse right over her head. “Hiding behind your woman? Sous-merde fils de pute! Perhaps if I were un petite fille you would fight me, hein?”

Lydia did not need to speak French to know that the skeletal gentleman was saying some very ungentlemanly things. In truth, she was more afraid for him than Betelgeuse, though she really didn’t like the idea of people running around thinking her husband was beating on her. Not wishing to see his bones scattered across the roadhouse, Lydia swallowed her embarrassment and told the truth.

“They’re hickeys!”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Between his brother and this skeleton, Betelgeuse was starting to form a headache. As the skeleton immediately tears into him, berating him, threatening him, the ghost pinches his nasal bridge. Why was everything so difficult? Why was everyone else just so ….. fuckin’ impossible?

He holds up a hand, looking beyond irritated. “Jacque….” He starts, but suddenly Lydia is in front of him, protecting him of all things. Protecting him?! Why on earth—- he didn’t deserve to be protected for a second . He just did horrific things to her in a dirty alley behind a creepy sibling’s ice cream shop who was definitely watching them, and he glances down at her in utter surprise.

He would smile awfully at her embarrassed admission if he wasn’t still so damned annoyed with Jacque. That emotion takes precedent over Lydia’s obvious discomfort. The skeleton suddenly turns mortified, hesitating in his attack. “H…..le h… hickeys?”

“Yeah bonehead. I was suckin’ on her neck like a fuckin’ vampire and those happened. Go back to crumbling to dust in front of the boob tube, wouldja?” The ghoul takes Lydia’s hand and grumbles, leading her past the thoroughly bemused skeleton. “Shoulda just put us right in the damn bathroom, but no, no, I wanted you to see my house , where everyone thinks I’m Satan .”

He glares over his shoulder, “Satan doesn’t even exist, Jacque.”

The skeleton huffs and puffs as they walk away. “Well with some of ze nonsense you have pulled Bee-aa-tel-jooce, you cannot blame me for ze thought that you have harmed zat living girl!” there’s a pause and then he adds, as if to make a point, “We just got through cleaning ze blood from ze last stupid stunt you did pull!”

It wasn’t wrong. The ghoul was indeed a menace, and Jacque and Ginger have seen their fair share of them go awry, and worse. He walks faster away, pulling Lydia along, flailing an arm in this direction and that direction, growling, “Kitchen, over there, living room you just saw, hallway is where those losers live, view out to the highway, my bedroom is there, and here we finally are at the bathroom.”

He ushers her inside of it in a hustle, shutting the door audibly behind them with a THUMP . “Fuck, ” he breathes, eyes fluttering closed in annoyance, “Sorry babes. I …. I thought you might want a shower.” See? His intentions are good. “Though, I’d understand if you wanna stink like me for a while.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.


The skeleton’s nonchalant, nagging tone is what really got to her. He said it like it was commonplace. Like he was telling Betelgeuse to wipe his muddy boots off on the welcome mat before stepping foot inside. The damning word stayed with her all the way through his brusque tour of the house, and into the bathroom. She jumped when the door slammed behind them, more from shock than anything else.

He seemed awfully annoyed . Lydia did not want to add herself to the list of people he was annoyed with, but… she couldn’t let this go. It would haunt her.

“He said…” She began hesitantly, not acknowledging the offer of a shower, despite how desperately she needed and wanted one. The room was filthy, not in any state for anyone to practice any kind of hygiene. She would walk out of that stall dirtier than she went in. “He said ‘blood’- that- that he had to clean up blood . Blood that you left.”

Her heart was splintering to pieces before him, but she had to stay collected or he was liable to lose his temper. From the way he was pinching the bridge of his nose, brows furrowed in frustration, she could tell he was near the end of his short rope of patience. What would happen if she said his name three times now? While she was down here with him? Would it even work? Her chest lurched at the idea that she might have to. They had a deal.

“Whose blood?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The look Betelgeuse gives Lydia is a slow, unamused blink. And then his eyes silently roll upwards again. Someone exorcize him this instant. Please.

“Well Lyds,” he slowly begins, his tone dropping almost conspiratorially, his brain easily conjuring up the following explanation, “Sometimes…I volunteer at the Neitherworld Home for the Dead and Aged. Agnes’ deathday was coming up a couple months ago and she’s really, really ancient, so I had to make a huuuuge cake made only from 100% fresh blood, see. Y’gotta buy it in down here. Like in a bucket.”

He’s in full salesman pitch mode. But, he seems to be trying his best to make it seem as plausible as possible. “See, Lyds, the only thing is that I’m terrible at baking, and well, I spilled the blood all over the kitchen when I was tryin’ to pour it into the bowl and it got just everywhere and Jacque called me names and he and Ginger yelled at me and they always think I’m up to no good.

I’m just misunderstood, Lyds. I …have a reputation to keep though, so I told Jacque it was part of a job. As I recall mighta ….made up a really elaborate story that was totally disgusting, actually,” he itches the stubble on his chin. “I….I remember it being really really disgusting. So they wouldn’t ask me any questions, see.”

He smiles, awkwardly. “Nothin’ to worry about. Only person I’m drawin’ blood from lately is you, babes.” Wink!

Lydia’s P.O.V.

As with all of his other attractive lies- though this one was uglier than she was willing or able to see- Lydia ate it right up.

“Oh,” she murmured, drowning out the voice of doubt screaming at her to say his name and put an end to all this before it could really begin. “I’m good at baking,” she offered instead, lifting her clouded gaze from the grimy tile. “I can help next time. If you want. So your roommates don’t have to… don’t get mad at you.”

The subject needed to change. Her skin was crawling and she wasn’t sure if it was from the sight of roaches creeping up the drain, the feeling of cum drying between her legs, or the insincere quirk of his lips into such a handsome smile.

“I can’t use this shower,” she informed bashfully, hugging herself. It was rude of her to turn down the kind offer just because his bathroom wasn’t up to her standards, but Lydia was only willing to go so far for the sake of manners. “It’s too dirty.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghoul, horrible monster that he was, was happy enough to move on. Though she almost caught him with her offer to help. And she believes it, at least….for now. Something twists in his chest. He didn’t like that, how easily she simply accepted it, even though it made things decidedly easy . Was it… .guilt? He was undeniably himself, and denying aspects of himself always made him churn – if only Lydia would one day accept him for the piece of filthy garbage he absolutely was. Maybe someday. He didn’t like hiding himself from her, but all good demons masquerade under the light.

“Oh,” he replies in realization, glancing around, “Y’know, after you’ve been dead for so long, you uh….tend not to notice these things. Sorry Lyds.”

He waves his arms downwards. Suddenly, the filthy bathroom they’re currently in seems to melt away all around them like vanilla ice cream to reveal…..Lydia’s own bathroom. They seem to be back in her house, just like that. He’s getting stronger, and better at transitioning between her world and the Neitherworld, it seems. Or maybe it was always that easy. It’s so hard to know. He looks at her with a puzzled expression, head tilting, something in his chest suddenly tight and uncomfortable.

“I’m…..curious, though, babes,” he hesitantly asks, “If you don’t like stuff bein’ dirty, I mean,” he looks down at himself, “Uh.” He indicates himself, “Why me?” It was a point of honesty, he knew he didn’t look like Valentino. He was a rotting corpse with sunken eyes, essentially, mold growing all over his face, crypt dirt forevermore clumping his hair. He was not muscular, and he was much older than she. Normally, he could lie to himself regarding just about anything, but this…seems to be a continuing point with her, this…. Cleanliness thing.

“I can’t be the first guy that’s….that’s shown any interest, firstly. Secondly, I mean, I’m gettin’ this wacky idea you actually like me, since we sorta did that thing where you said you were mine and I said you were yours. I mean I’ve got—“ he looks down his shirt, and down his pants as if checking both locations, “I mean, the natural state of things is—-“ he tries to explain, “—-I’m a dead guy, Lyds. What’s the appeal?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Why you?!” She almost laughed out at the absurdity of the question. The easy transition into her bathroom didn’t even inspire a blink of awe. Lydia was acclimating to his tricks very quickly. “Why me? I didn’t choose you. I didn’t go looking for you. As much as you may like to think it, I didn’t call you back to marry you because ‘you’re cute.’”

She was sitting now at the edge of the tub, unlacing her boots and pulling off socks. She wasn’t about to strip down to her skinnies right in front of him, but this was okay.

“You’ve obviously been doing this for a while. You could’ve made that deal to anybody.” Suddenly, she paused, as if realizing something horrible. “Did you?” Just as quickly, she backtracked, ducking her face out of view and shaking her head. “Nevermind. I don’t want to know… I’m not- I know you say that I am, and your friends say that I am, but I’m not-”

There was a ball in her throat that wanted her voice to shake and waver like it did when she was about to cry, but Lydia wouldn’t let it. “I’m not pretty,” she finally confessed, concentrating very hard on unstringing her bootlaces. “I scare people. They don’t like me. Fuck, my own parents can hardly stand to look at me. You know, I didn’t cover up that last hickey you left and they didn’t say shit . Not one word. I don’t think they even noticed. They’re all like that,” she continued dismally, hunched over, hands paused. “It’s easier to pretend I’m not even there. Everybody just wants me to go away.”

After taking a deep breath that served to chase away any potential tears, she straightened and removed her ponytail, letting her mess of raven hair down to obscure her face- as well as the marks he’d left behind. Finally, she found the bravery necessary to meet his eyes again.

“Except dead people. So here’s the deal. I’ll tell you why I like a gross dead guy when you can tell me why you like a flat-chested midget.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It was the ghost’s turn to laugh, and he did, loudly.

“I told you, babes,” he leans against the wall, arms folded, looking vastly amused – her answers seem to have pleased him. “You ain’t flat chested. I know, your tits were all up in my mouth and my hands. They’re plenty enough to make me happy, and I’ve seen and touched a lotta tits. I like tits. I like your tits. And you’re petite, you’re sixteen, girl. You’re still growin’. You’re all….vivacious and comin’ into your own. Additionally, I like….small women. A lot. A lot,” he repeats, emphatically. He addresses the last thing she says first, and then moves on to the rest.

“Ahem. And, as for the first bit, no,” he says, flatly, “I haven’t offered marriage to anyone else, ever. Remember when I leaned away from you the first time we were gonna get hitched, and gave myself that little pep-talk? About how I said I’d only do it once and that’s it? That’s it.” He says, matter-of-factly, “Honestly, I hadn’t …. Even thought of that plan till I first saw you,” he leers, just a little, “You were smart. N’ you could see things everyone else couldn’t, because,” he suddenly imitates her voice, “I myself am…strange and unusual. There was a…clause, in the Handbook’s previous incarnations they retracted about marrying the living. I didn’t….think it would work, a young pretty, yes pretty girl like you wasn’t about to marry a corpse like me. So we had to make the deal. Make sure you wouldn’t back out.”

He doesn’t make it clear exactly when he first saw her. Or how many times. Or where he was when he heard that line, but it was clear that while he was attempting to first occupy her house he saw and heard a lot . It was his job to know, and so he did. Especially when he was running a scam.

“And I scare people too. A lot. That’s my job . I work hard at it. And as a scaring professional, babes, no offense, but you aren’t scary. The living, though, they’re stupid,” he suddenly lights a cigarette, agitated at the sight of her choked up. “Stupid enough to ignore the strange and unusual. To ignore a pretty daughter’s hickeys from a predatory older man. But,” he gestures to her neck, “They ain’t gonna be able to ignore those babes, I got a little over-excited.”

At her last though, he sinks down the door, pressing his back to it until he’s sitting. “I don’t want you to go away.” He fusses with the cigarette, not looking at her as she fiercely concentrates on removing her boots. “But I’m afraid you will, eventually. I don’t…..I’m not…..I’m not the hero in your story. I’m the villain. I’m the one —-“ he thinks about how many times exactly he’s tricked her this past week, and growls at his knees, “—-I’m not good, Lyds. I’m tryin’ to be. I want you ….I want you to like me, I want you to love me, but I need you to teach me . I’m tryin’ to become the hero but you may have to settle for somethin’ a little in-between.”

His eyes meet hers, and his lips pucker and twist. “Maybe we jus’ both wanna be seen. So,” he takes a drag, and holds out the cigarette to her, “Why me? And no horse shit about wanting to die. You know I’d go after your parents a thousand times faster than you if I had uncontrollable revenge in mind. You’re too smart for that.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia didn’t want to die. She never really had. She just didn’t want to be so fucking lonely anymore. His compliments regarding her physical appearance were taken with more weight than any of the previous ones, though that didn’t say much for whether or not they got through to her. “You’re still growin’.”

“I don’t think I am,” she admitted, frowning at her reflection from her seat at the edge of the tub. She had to strain her entire body up to even breach the mirror’s perimeter “I’ve been the same height for four years. This might be it for me.”

The truth was never pretty. She had suspected that he haunted the house for a period before she or the Maitlands ever summoned him, but his direct quote of her own words- repeated from the handbook as they were- was the confirmation she needed. Once more, Lydia went undisturbed by this information. It seemed silly to apply human terms like “stalking” to his ethically questionable behavior. Instead, she quietly added this to the evergrowing list of sins she was willing to forgive, especially in the wake of the revelation that she was the only girl he had ever considered wife material. This information made her glow from within, joyous light taking over her deep shadows for the time being.

“They ain’t gonna be able to ignore those babes, I got a little over-excited.”

“We’ll see,” she concluded, unconvinced. “I’m not going to hide them. My father didn’t notice these-” she flicked her lobe where three little onyx gems sat nestled, glimmering, “- until a year after the fact. He was so mad.” From the gentle smile on her face, it could be inferred that this was a pleasant memory.

When Betelgeuse sunk down to the floor, Lydia started, disturbed to see him so downtrodden. It was wrong, like watching a wounded lion.

“That’s not true,” she insisted urgently, dropping down to her knees before him and resting her backside on her now bare feet. “You took Bubby away from a horrible, horrible life! I don’t like the way you did it, but you- you-” she struggled for a  moment to find the proper phrasing, before eventually settling on something melodramatic, but accurate, “- avenged me to Claire and Stacy. You saved Adam and Barbara, even if you were just doing it to get what you wanted- and I… I love them. I don’t think I’d be alive right now if they weren’t around.”

She accepted the burning end of his cigarette, took two deep drags of bitter full-flavor, and stubbed it out right on the floor. Right into the expensively remodeled, clean tile, right next to his filthy boot.

“You are good,” asserted once more, maintaining fierce eye contact, before leaning forward to cup both of his stubbly, moldy cheeks and press a soft, warm kiss to his forehead. “No matter how much you don’t want to be. I would know. I’m smarter than you, remember?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As Lydia goes into the Maitlands, and that she wouldn’t be around without them, Betelgeuse keeps his doubts to himself. They couldn’t keep a goldfish alive, according to him. But she stubs her cigarette out in a way that makes something of a mess on the tiled floor, and takes his stupid face in hers, and kisses him so sweetly, right there on the forehead . Why was that so kinky? Was it the fact that she had touched him so tenderly? A beast like him hardly deserves her light. His eyes look into her fierce honey colored ones as she holds his gaze so intently, silently searching for a moment. He doesn’t know if she’s right, but he’d like to believe she is. He hopes she is. For her sake.

His expression shifts, then, as if shaking himself out of the moment purposefully. “Alright alright,” he says, “That’s enough ‘o that .” He tilts his head to nip at the fingers holding his face playfully, and he nods towards the shower, “You do what you gotta. I’m gonna go break into Charles’ liquor cabinet ‘cause I need a drink and also I definitely wanna see how many Cuban cigars of his I can smoke. I know that self-important prick has Cubans.”

He pauses for a second before his face turns really wicked, and he wiggles a crooked clawed finger at Lydia, “But first,” he says, “Daddy wants your panties. Cough ‘em up, Lyds.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Her eyes went wide. The snow white skin on her face swirled with color; first pink, then a deep crimson that spread down to her neck, nearly blending in with her love bites. Clumsily, she climbed to a standing position, eyes locked on her feet as she inched the flimsy draping fabric of her skirt up, then thumbed her soiled panties down. She couldn’t bear to physically hand the sopping garment to him, instead toeing it in his direction gingerly. Within her line of sight, a clawed hand snatched them up- like they were an insect to munch on. She heard a deep inhale that made her burn up inside all over again, and then there was a pop- and she knew he was gone.

Shaken, her knees buckled. It took several minutes of meditation before Lydia could collect herself enough to crawl into the shower and wash away the evidence of their tryst. Only the messier parts, though. No matter how hotly the water stung, there would be no purging the marks of his affection out of existence- not that Lydia had any desire to. The notes that played through her head as she cleansed took on a huskier tone than the sadder songs she usually preferred.

"I got a guy who’s always late,
Anytime we have a date,
But I love him,
Yes, I love him.”

When she finally ambled out of the steaming bathroom nearly an hour later- shaving, lotioning, tending to her copious hair, and just being a girl, in general, took a long damn time- she found a clean , white men’s shirt laying out on her bed. It was soft when she touched it, the material stretched and warn. But… there weren’t any stains or holes. She questioned if it even belonged to him until holding it to her face and inhaling, much the same way he had done to her thong, and discovered the familiar scent of smoke. His brand.

This was his shirt, alright. Not one to turn down such a meaningful gesture, Lydia shucked her towel right to the floor and pulled the overly large button-up over her head. It was just as comfortable as she thought it would be and absolutely swallowed her. The hem trailed inches past her knees. Its sleeves had to be rolled and rolled and rolled up to her elbows if she wanted to use her hands at all.  

After working her damp hair into twin braids that hung over her shoulder, she went looking for him. There were lights on all throughout the house and Lydia shut them off as she went. The window in her father’s study was opened, his liquor cabinet dangling wide. These inconsistencies were corrected as well. When she descended down to the first floor and heard the home theatre system in the basement den blaring- a joint creation of Adam and her father, the man cave, as Delia called it- she knew she’d found her husband. He seemed entertained enough.

Satisfied that all was well with the world, Lydia went about making herself a sandwich, and then him one too as an afterthought. The worst that could happen is he didn’t want it. He might, though. Adam and Barbara ate sometimes, so it stood to reason that he would too. In either case, Lydia would rather have something to offer than not.

Betelgeuse was throned up like a king in her father’s armchair; boots and jacket missing, tie loosened, shirt unbuttoned to the point that a wife-beater was visible, cigar clenched between his teeth and a glass of grade A Johnny Walker in hand. Bubby was fast asleep on the floor beside the lazyboy but perked up at the sound of his mistress’ light footsteps padding across carpet. Like a good boy, he saw the plates in her hand, knew they weren’t meant for him, and stayed in place.

Her bluray copy of House on Haunted Hill was playing. The original, with Vincent Price.

“Here,” she handed him his plate before taking up mantle on the couch, eyes already glued to the screen. “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want, but if you give it to Bubby take the tomato and onion off first, please. I know he’s not a normal dog, but I’d rather not chance it.”

Politely, she waited until she was done speaking before taking her first bite of food.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He had indeed looked for the comfiest spot in the house after a quick self-tour and smash-and-grab in Charles’ office. He’d seen most of it, but a lot of it had changed since he last wandered the Deetz-Maitland home unfettered. Now it was some sort of weird half-and-half modern farmhouse stitch-up, as if one portion of the house had swallowed parts of the other. He initially considered the master bedroom but thought that might be too much , so when he located the “man-cave” he knew he had found paradise.

Oh, how he wished he could inhabit this place. He’d ruin it, to be sure, by changing everything about it…but the bones were good. He could tell which chair was Chuck’s, it was the cushiest one in the room, plush and leathery, with a cigar tray on a small table next to the armrest. It’s here that he sets up, master of the house, with Bubby lumbering behind him and settling in on the plush carpet next to his chair. The lazyboy reclines as a function, he discovers and so he leans it back just enough, kicking his boots off and placing his grey sock covered feet up onto the coffee table in front of him. He unhooks his tie, pops open his button-down, and grunts in satisfaction.

He lights a cigar, and pours himself a sparkling glass of Johnny Walker, and remembers what it was like to be alive. Yes .

As Lydia enters the room, demure and dressed in his oversized shirt that he left for her, he almost purrs. She looks like a vision, and he couldn’t have asked for a prettier picture than her stepping onto the soft carpet, barefoot, dressed in something of his. Her braids almost make her look like a school-girl, and that’s awfully titillating on its own. There’s an indication of ownership there that he likes, perhaps too much. As she makes her way closer, he can smell her – the soft, rich scent of cocoa butter. Delicious . She certainly has made herself perfumed and pretty for him. “There’s my girl,” he murmurs, eying her up and down, and finally noting that she’s carefully carrying two plates.

She hands him one, and on it is a sandwich. She made him….a sandwich. This throws him for a loop, and it takes him a moment to know what to do about it. His silence could be interpreted a number of ways, but he’s realized at that moment that no one has ever made him anything. The last person to try was Bea Geuse, but his strange self-made assemblage of a family doesn’t really count in this instance. He’s always cooked very badly for himself or ordered in Italian, just to have something to do, and mostly enjoyed an assemblage of disgusting things like worms, maggots, roaches, and beetles which he’s acquired a horrific taste for. Slowly, carefully, he takes a bite after he says, “Bubby ain’t getting’ any of this.”

It was fresh, full of delectable meats, and topped with hearty bread. Tomato, lettuce, onion. The works. It was the best sandwich he’d ever tasted, if he were honest, but it isn’t clear if that’s because she made it for him or delivered it in a shirt-nightgown, or because she’s very talented in the kitchen. Any and all of those answers led up to a quiet Betelgeuse , for just a moment, until he could finish sucking down the rest of it. She can tell visually he likes it, because it’s gone faster than she could have probably expected, and he licks his fingers loudly in distinct pleasure after he’s through.

“Yer a good missus , babes,” he compliments her, voice impressed, “I knew you were responsible, good lookin’, well spoken, smart, nice tits, all that. But I didn’t know you were such amazin’ wife material.”

He takes a sip of bourbon and puffs his cigar contently, only vaguely watching the film. He’s seen it a hundred times, and is far more interested in watching Lydia, her adorable little feet peeking out from underneath his shirt-nightgown. Once he’s decided she’s eaten enough of the sandwich she made for herself, it seems he’d like one more thing to make his afternoon lounge complete.

“C’mere darlin,” he instructs her. She was too alluring to have her sit all the way over there on the couch. He pats the chair, “Y’look cold.”

She was probably not cold, and a corpse wasn’t about to warm her up. But that didn’t seem to bother Betelgeuse.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia was still glowing from his series of compliments- nice tits , wife material- when he suggested, not at all innocently, that she looked cold and should go over there . Instantly, she felt anything but cold. In fact, she was definitely burning up. On what felt to her like awkward, gangly legs, she obediently stood and closed the distance between them, stopping to lay her empty plate down in front of Bubby. Accordingly, the gentle beast lapped up the remaining crumbs and crust.

“I didn’t think you’d like it,” she admitted as she settled down onto the arm of the chair, taking his plate and laying it atop her licked-clean one. It received a similar tongue bath. “I’ve never seen you eat anything that has less than six legs before.”

Lydia conveniently chose not to mention his attempted devouring of Claire and Stacy. The idea that he had literally eaten people before was not one she was willing to ruminate on. She dared to inch down all the way until her bottom was cushioned on his thigh, then drew her legs up and curled them in, wound tight thighs splayed over his lap. Still, her spine remained erect. It was an awkward position, but she wasn’t quite brave enough to melt into him without more motivation. Knowing him, it wouldn’t be long until he gave it.

Passively, she noted that he wasn’t warm at all, though Lydia knew this was subject to change any second.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Well, I’ve never had a sandwich made for me,” Betelgeuse argues regarding his choice of food, “So, what was the other option, really?” He teases, as Bubby licks both plates clean happily and gently. “I never learned to cook, really, Lyds. Mostly I ordered in a lot of Italian.”

As Lydia obediently joins him on the chair, he smiles, “That’s a good girl,” he murmurs in praise as she settles atop him. She curls up on his lap in that funny little way and it puts her little feet right at hand-level. Unable to resist at this point, he uses the tips of his claws to lightly tickle the soft bottoms. This absolutely causes an immediate reaction, squirming and giggles – oh, she’s ticklish . Betelgeuse delights to discover it, and he pursues her further, tickling up her legs. All the way up her legs, which causes a great fit of wiggling and laughing protest.

His hands glide up into the overly-big shirt, torturing her just a little more with the tips of his clawed fingers gently before they drift and explore further, the edges of her perfect, pert little ass cheeks, and around the insides of her thighs. It is there that his fingers find purchase against her very soft, lovingly shaved mound, and those dark eyes widen with surprise and interest.

“Oh, I see,” he rumbles low in his throat, sticking the tip of his tongue out between his teeth, “Naughty girl. Nothing on but my shirt, and this,” two of his hidden fingers push gently against her smoothly shaved outer lips. They seem quite thick against her petite sex. “Just for me?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Mercy!” She cried out loud as he tortured her, writhing and pleading for freedom. “Oh, please, please, pleeease stop stop!”

Her shrieking laughter did not disturb Beelzebub, who was content to let his Master play. Instead, the beast tilted his head at them before lazily getting up from the floor, hopping to the couch, and going to sleep. Traitor , she thought absently, before refocusing her energy on begging. Somewhere under her notice, his tricky hands went from playful to searching, but her tickled sensitive nerves were unable to tell the difference.  

“Just for me?”

Her lungs ached from laughter. She thought her heart might beat out of her chest, it was thumping so hard, so fast, like a hummingbird trapped beneath her ribcage. Tired limbs were splayed out over him in a helpless heap. One strong arm rested lazily around her waist, the other lazing just as easily between her legs. Holding her down was cake for him, not that this was news. A familiar weight twitched and prodded beneath her bare bottom, trying to shove its way between her cheeks.

The pads of his fingertips felt so rough. She remembered his nails as being very sharp . They could tear right through her like tissue paper into a wood chipper. Nevertheless, what could she tell him but the truth?

“Yes,” she breathed, panting and weakened.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The admission . Oh, little girl. You know not what you do. Or, alternately, you know exactly what you do. Either way, Betelgeuse was going to indulge her. Indeed, she could feel the sensation of those claw-tips brushing ever so lightly against some rather sensitive portions of her anatomy. But he was careful, and after a moment he withdraws his hand to chew nastily on his pointer and index fingers, ridding them brutally and quickly of their sharp danger and spitting the tips quickly over the side of the chair.

Looking much more like normal, if still dead, fingers he works them back between her legs. He can touch her much more freely now, and he takes complete advantage, slowly working to nestle them between those outer lips. He begins rubbing back and forth in a slow, gentle rhythm, stroking her, the arm holding her to him pulling her until she’s resting with her head near his shoulder. He can feel she’s wet already, quickly coating his fingers in her sweet, warm juices. That’s what he likes. Good girl.

He nuzzles her earlobe, and murmurs sweetly to her, his voice gravelly, almost a whispered growl, “I wanna do so much to you, Lyds. I wanna feel you shake for me. You beg so sweetly, girl, I wanna make y’beg, and plead, n’ moan. Y’get me so anxioussss…

He hisses the last with his tongue flickering like a snake’s in her ear, just once – briefly and it’s gone, as his fingers start to threaten pushing inside of her, as if trying to gauge how much she can handle. His fingertips slowly edge the smaller, soft inner folds and rim of that tender, slippery opening, and he makes a noise low in his throat. He’s taking his time about it, but eventually, the tips of his two fingers slide inwards up until the first knuckle, just enough to get a taste. “Oooohh,” he breathily murmurs into her ear again, almost panting to her, “You’re so tight , babes…”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When his tongue penetrated her ear, she shivered, gasping so sharply it stabbed through the surround sound speaker system. The crude way he had sacrificed his claws without a second thought made her already drowning form positively flood for him, softening his callouses and easing his sinful strokes. In contrast to his previously rushed, eager touches, this was slow. Patient . The devil played her body like she was his very own fiddle. He was being so nice, so gentle with her. The evil things he whispered didn’t even give her the spike of a thrill they might have if he was really pinning her down. He touched her like she was a timid, abused kitten that needed to be taught how to love again.

Wasn’t he the one who said he didn’t know how to love? Lydia didn’t believe him. He was doing a wonderful job from her perspective. Under his attention, her legs drifted open until they were splayed wide, hooked over each of his stretched out legs. In typical villainous fashion, he milked the opportunity to pull her further into his trap; sinking down deeper into the chair, bending his knees so that her thighs stretched even further apart for him. He had full access to her now- as if he hadn’t before . Her sensitive ears and neck were within biting distance, her supple backside was pushed firmly against his rigid, eager cock, and his wrist was at an easy angle to slam those thick, meaty fingers right into her at whatever pace he wanted.

Like a fool, she trusted him. The girl whimpered at the dark promises hidden beneath his filthy confessions and tilted her neck toward the caressing hand in her damp braid, simultaneously granting the wolf better access to her vital arteries. They pulsed wildly, a breath away from his cruel teeth. She wanted very badly to return his dirty talk, if only to prove herself, but was simply unable. Instead, she gave him what he wanted, twisting her hips until his thick dick was nestled nice and snug between her ass cheeks and his fingers slipped further in, nearly to the second knuckle. She was almost able to suppress the yelp of discomfort at the intrusion, managing to choke the embarrassing sound into a short, distressed whine.

“Please,” she begged gently, fulfilling his heinous wishes, “keep being soft with me.. . I like it.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse was, if anything, particularly sensitive to specific situations – for all his boorish nature, there was always a reason behind his actions, usually not laziness, and usually not complacency. He was a showman, which the Maitlands were too stupid to realize the first time they met him. He could scare! What, they wanted a gentleman too? So, now, he’s gentle. Especially since he certainly left her bruised and sore and dirty earlier, exactly like he pleased.

As she blossoms for him, her legs sliding open invitingly and urging him to keep going, he hisses out slowly through his teeth. Especially as he draws her in, the hiss turns into a soft, throaty noise as her smooth and squeezable ass neatly slides his trapped arousal between each cheek. She was placed perfectly then, fully accessible, and he nuzzled into her neck after whispering dark promises to her. He didn’t bite her, no, not yet . He liked the idea of her simply waiting for it to happen and then delivering when she least expected it.

She was trembling, heart beating like a frightened doe, he could feel it. But her actions betrayed her energy – pushing his cock deep into the sweet flesh of her ass, working him in even further. He let go a breathy groan, especially as she lowers herself onto his meaty fingers, growling out an encouraging, “That’s it….” even as she made a noise that clearly indicated this was quite a lot for her – that concept in itself making the lustful thing in his chest ache. He wanted to have his way with her, desperately, the burning sensation between his thighs almost intolerable. But, he’s a ghoul that loves torture, and denying himself is a new titillating experience …. especially when he has such delicious things to focus on. He nuzzles at her earlobe and kisses gently, slowly down her neck, his one hand drawing away from her soft braid in order to pop open a few more buttons on the front of her shirt. Skillfully, he manages it with the one hand, and his mossy plush lips kiss downwards, moving across all the bite marks, between them, into the snowy, pinked peaks of her youthful breasts. He delicately holds one, dedicated to taking his time with it, dragging his broad tongue across the soft nipple hungrily.

His fingers continue to push into that deep, wet tunnel of muscle. It’s easier the deeper he goes and as he does he gently works her open around them. Oh, she squeezes so deliciously around his digits, though, pulling at him, and he can only imagine what she’ll feel like once he’s got his cock inside of her. He hasn’t yet determined when he will, but the idea of it makes him clench his teeth in desire, listening harder at the noises she makes. He begins to thrust after he determines she’s pliant enough, heavy, long strokes of his fingers that are achingly slow. The slick motions make lewd, slippery sounds after a while as he increases his speed just enough , accompanied by the low growls that keep pulling from his throat against the mounds of her soft breasts. “That’s my girl….you like it when I take my time, hm? I have all the time in the world for ya, baby…. I’ll be as soft as you want. Gotta make sure you can handle all of me when you’re ready…every inch….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“That’s it…”

His rumbles of encouragement helped her to embrace the foreign- but not- sensations down below. Oh, ohh his fingers were so long and thick. She couldn’t help but carefully recall the way she studied his hand once, in the shadows of her bedroom. After baring her soul to him, letting him sink his teeth in and take a big, fat, tasty bite of her black heart. Her muscles sucked his digits in- clenching, pulsing- almost as much as he pushed, but it was still so much. His tongue was cold when it first lathed her nipple, distracting her from the wonderful discomfort. The points of the pearlescent mounds, once icy pink and unblemished, were now closer in shade to that of a blushing rose, darkened from his previous abuse.

It was already hard before he bathed it with his frigid tongue, but the shock served to tighten it almost to the point of pain. But then, without giving her time to adjust to the abrupt change, the long, striped, writhing appendage curling lazily about her breast was searing . His teeth didn’t dare to scrape her, not once. The noises she made were erratic, unpredictable; sometimes low and slow, sometimes shrill and staccatoed. Her bodily spasms were similarly random. She was losing control of her faculties, twitching and jerking precariously, unwittingly easing his penetration. Soon, his knuckles were pressed tight against slick, hairless flesh, clipped talons bottomed out within her.

He didn’t appear to be having any problems keeping up a steady pace. Without a care in the world, he withdrew, pulling out until just his fingertips were left inside. Vaccuous muscles sucked at them powerfully in protest. Just as casually, he indulged her body’s demands, sinking in back down to the last knuckle. The blunted tips of his fingers prodded something that made her irregular, breathy sounds go high. Over and over and over again he did this, subtly increasing the force of his finger-fucking until he was- so, so slowly- beating his fist against sleek, silken, molten fire flesh. Their skin squelched and slapped as it joined and separated, drowning out Vincent Price’s monologue. If she ever did meet him, Lydia wasn’t sure how she would ever be able to look him in the eye without blushing.

Still, not much of the movie had passed. They couldn’t have been doing this for very long, though it felt like an eternity had passed, each second spent in delicious, hedonistic torment.

“Gotta make sure you can handle all of me when you’re ready…every inch….”

The last two words were punctuated with unhurried, pounding thrusts. The ridge of his fist grazed her clit. Too soon , she shattered apart in his arms. Just like in the alley, she sang for him, though this song was definitely sweeter than the last.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse’s pants were getting soaked again, especially as he could feel Lydia’s vaginal muscles tug, squeeze, pull and spasm enthusiastically around his fingers. He wanted to replace it with something else so very badly, but he was determined, steadfast in his resolve – it helped, of course, that this was searingly hot. If he could sweat he would be but by the positively evil, eager looks he’s giving the girl on top of him from underneath his dark, hooded brow it expresses much the same.

Eventually, she reaches something of a stoked bonfire, and he can tell she’s reaching the point of no return. The noises she’s making, the slick rhythmic slapping, and his growled encouragement that all but drown over Price’s syrupy voice combine into an absolutely obscene orchestra. His entire fist is practically dripping with her enthusiasm, in fact, every time his knuckles rut against her it urges more until thin rivulets drool down his wrist up to his elbow. She’s rocking onto him now, too, trying impossibly to get more of him inside of her. A part of him is indeed tempted to add another finger, but instead, he crooks the ones in use skillfully in order to feel for that fleshy, soft inner section of particularly sensitive muscle. He finds it, it seems, because it causes her to make quite a surprised, lustful noise and buck harder, making the ghost to chuckle pleasantly and greedily.

It doesn’t take long after that – it seems his words of encouragement were highly motivating, and as he pushes in once more at a particularly good angle, one that brushes her clit, she tenses all her muscles. An orgasmic sonorous sound fills the room – and Betelgeuse is surprised and happily so that he’s gotten her to that place so quickly. It’s far too hot, really, and he lets go a lusty, growly sigh as she sings for him again, arching beautifully like a mermaid perched on the precipice of a cliff in his lap. It makes her ass dig against his trapped arousal, which jerks underneath her, begging for its own release. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever get tired of that noise, but as she sags against him he gently pulls his fingers from her.

His fingers and hand glisten, and he hungrily sucks them into his mouth, lathering them with his tongue, slurping noisily and shamelessly. She tastes so good , and he has to catch all the little streams that leaked almost as far as his elbows. Satisfied seeming, he’s about to say something to Lydia before he winces just a bit, squirming fitfully underneath her – he unzips his fly suddenly and without warning, and she can feel an obscenely thick cock wetly slap against her backside rudely, bursting from the contents of his pants. The ghost slumps and rumbles out a relieved, gritty sigh.

“Uuhn, sorry babes – that bad boy’s been achin’ to get outta there for hours .” It isn’t particularly glamorous, to be sure, but Betelgeuse doesn’t seem to be too bothered by the appearance of his own dick. It does, however, twitch and leave a good thick smear of precum against poor Lydia’s skin, she can probably feel that no question. He leans over the side of the chair, then, and waggles the bottle of Johnny Walker at her in offering, and chuckles almost breathlessly, helplessly mentioning,

“You’re uh…’re gonna be sore tomorrow, baby. You took nearly took m’hand off. Wasn’t sure I was gonna get my fingers back.. but what a way to lose ‘em.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

At the sensation of a soft, fat, rock hard rod of flesh releasing against her spine, Lydia was all too ready to accept the bourbon he offered. She held the bottle with both hands, lifting the bottom up toward the ceiling to take a generous swig. A grimace and shiver were the only indications given to show that it burned. Spent and alarmingly curious , she twisted around until she was curled up on one side of his lap. Cheek pressed to his pectoral, her eyes drifted down. Oh, no . There was no way that thing was going to fit inside of her. He was delusional. Lydia kept this thought to herself, not wanting to let him down. He seemed so pleased and happy .

She fed off of it. Her heart rate was slowing, breaths deepening. With heavy eyelids, she stretched in his lap, coming up to brush petal soft lips against his cheek. At the same time, she bravely grasped his cock- very, very lightly, testing. It twitched almost violently. Encouraged, she ran a featherlight touch-up and down, mapping out the shape. She wasn’t looking at what she was doing though. She watched him , big curious eyes locked on his expression.

“I want to make you feel good, too.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse watches Lydia like an overly invested hawk as she drinks the Johnny Walker, impressed, but his gaze intensifies as she twists to see all of him out of sheer curiosity. That alone seems to please him, especially as he catches her ever so vaguely concerned expression – and he sticks his tongue between his teeth to chuckle low in his throat. He isn’t exceedingly long like you might see on some sort of porn actor, but he definitely has girth and for a girl who hasn’t seen a wide range of cock, his is ….well, sort of threatening, to be sure. He can almost see the thought that he won’t fit flit across her face, and he chuckles a little louder in that mischievous tone that indicates he knows .

She moves again, and he lifts his hands away briefly from her as she stretches languidly against him like a lithe feline. She can see his nose wrinkle pleasurably as her lips ghost his cheek, those dark eyes glittering still, as if waiting to see what she’ll do – curious, interested. She does something unexpected and quite brave then, her petite hand wraps around his cock ever so gently and politely, and the groaning noise he makes in response is positively vile . Lydia will never know the electric feeling of that as light as it is, her soft, warm living skin caressing his and while one might expect him to be cold altogether, his body at least has the good sense to imitate a lustful heat for her benefit.

Her fingers as they drift so curiously and lightly up and down his length is pure, fire-hot torture, and Betelgeuse’s dark eyes squeeze shut to try and stay as in-control as he possibly can under it. He huffs out a slow, shivery breath, and one eye opens to see Lydia staring fiercely into her face. She’s got him, and the faces that he progresses through are undignified , to say the least when she speaks.

“Oooh, L-Lyds,” he swallows, “You do, y-you do.” His brain screams at him in a thousand ways of what to do with her now with her request – he seems to settle on something after a moment, that dirty sneer returning, and his fingers tangle in her braids, giving them a tug downwards very lightly, “But…I can think of one way. On yer knees, girl.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia made no moves to wipe the slickness from between her thighs as she slid to the floor, kneeling between his spread legs. Feeling very brave indeed, she fumbled with unbuckling his belt and unfastening the button that still held his pants together. This revealed the hidden scant few inches of his cock’s meaty base, feathered by an expectantly moss infested thatch of wiry, green-blonde pubic hair. Luckily, the parasitic growth didn’t extend up the veiny mass of flesh. He sunk further into her father’s chair at the freedom, getting comfortable. Lydia didn’t have to strain as far to reach him now.

One hand on his thigh, the other holding his cock upright- her fingers couldn’t reach all the way around, it was like holding a beer can- she proceeded to experiment. First, she attempted just one squeezing stroke, not too hard or fast, just to see what would happen. His reactions didn’t disappoint. Instantaneously, a plump bead of precum surged from the head, rolling down and over her wringing fingers. Her eyes darted up to his face and she noticed his own were clenched shut in concentration, brows furrowed and twitching.

Maybe it would be better if... Following an impulse, she released the tight grip and used her now slick fingers to coat him head to base in his own secretions. Then, she took him in both hands. Working together, they were able to wrap around him fully. Eager to see how much more she could pull from him- because this was surprisingly easy, he was so responsive - she squeezed and stroked several times, each one drawing another fat drop of moisture.

It looked like normal cum. Lydia wasn’t so innocent that she didn’t know what semen was supposed to look like. Eventually, the need to know what it tasted like lured her tongue out past her lips to flutter like a butterfly against the fat, weeping head; softly, gently, there and then gone.

The look on her face must have been precious. He tasted like chocolate.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Ohhhh. She was feeling rambunctious, indeed. The ghoul internally commended her bravery, every ounce of him fully prepared to take advantage of her obviously slightly inebriated state. She’d loosened up and he can tell, and he likes it . She behaves well when she seems to be a little encouraged, a little relaxed, and a little fucked all at once. Betelgeuse makes a note in his head - he’s learning. She adorably pulls open his belt with delicate, fumbling hands, and he eases back into the chair in relief as she frees the rest of him, a throaty, thick sigh escaping his lips. Lydia thankfully doesn’t seem to be off-put by the natural state of affairs, that mossy overgrowth indeed having made its way like a green snail-trail down his front and into the thatch of wiry hair he sports. It’s what tends to happen when you’re a corpse, and there was no sense in hiding it – though his self-consciousness earlier in her bathroom seemed…mildly ridiculous now.

Was it possible to think someone’s hand looked cute on one’s cock? Betelgeuse was musing such things, because Lydia’s hand did indeed look mightily cute, barely able to grasp the entire girth. It was a fleeting thought, though, the idea of her looking so small and demure between his thighs because soon enough she had stroked him in earnest, just once, and he nearly has to bite his tongue in half in order to not soak her face and hand instantaneously. His hips almost buck upwards but settle for a controlled, gentle roll instead, encouraging her to further action of some kind. And she does intuitively the hottest thing possible, which is to use his own pre to slick up his shaft and then double hand it. He curses, his claws sinking into the leather of poor Charles’ chair, eventually leaving it with some pretty deep scratching marks from tearing at it underneath the waves of pleasure from Lydia’s actions. She milks him easily, as if imbued with some innate skill, stroking him on further.

It was too good, and just when the ghost had it in his head it couldn’t get any better, that’s when he feels that light, light kiss of tongue against the ever so sensitive ruddy tip of his cock. His eyes open at that moment to look down at her, just to catch her expression, and he breathlessly mumbles, “You dig chocolate, don’tcha Lyds?” before his hand pushes against the side of her braids, and he uses his other hand to gently nudge the tip of his cock back towards her lips, eager to capitalize on her inebriated bravery, “There’s more where that came from, little girl….but you’ll have to open wider….”

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Lydia’s P.O.V.

Like a good girl, Lydia obeyed his every demand. Opening wide, she sucked the entire leaking head of his cock into the searing softness of her mouth. She did dig chocolate. Generally, she preferred lighter, saccharine white chocolates made with cocoa butter and vanillas. He tasted deep and dark, bittersweet and salty. Like the gourmet treats her father purchased for Delia on Valentine’s Day that the woman picked at before passing off to her stepdaughter in favor of “maintaining her figure.” Lydia had no such hang-ups then, and she definitely didn’t now. She did, however, fleetingly wonder if this was fattening.

The familiar, unthreatening flavor served to make the inherently scary thing she was doing very un-scary. He was delicious. Though he only just barely fit in her mouth, her gag reflex didn’t seem bothered by the foreign object nudging impossibly at the back of her throat. That was something that was simply never going to happen. Physics wouldn’t allow it. He would be lucky if her lips ever breached the halfway point. Clawed hands- minus two fingers- twined in her braids, tugging along and helping her fall into the pulsing rhythm his hips were setting. The noises he made were awful and she loved them. He gasped and snarled, choking filthy, incomprehensible words into the air. The muscles between her legs were aching again. Her thighs squeezed together, slick with sweat, cum, and body butter, but the pleasant pressure wasn’t enough.

Lydia was positively dizzy with confidence. Nothing she could do was wrong. This in mind, one tiny hand relieved itself of the perilous effort to choke the fat base of his cock into submission. Instead, greedy for more pleasure, it crept down between her clenched tight thighs, white fabric bunching on the way. She was no stranger to touching herself, but had always done so in a passively curious way; practical and anatomical. This was pure exhibitionism . The bundle of nerves above her sweetly-fucked entrance was still sensitive from her previous orgasm, and when she stroked it very, very lightly, it convulsed with sudden heat. She would have gasped around his cock, but there was no room. Instead, she just sucked him deeper and a honeyed, high-pitched sound resonated up her throat only to be muffled into the delicious hunk of meat trying desperately to fuck it. Reflexive tears were blurred her vision, dampening her cheeks. Probably from the lack of oxygen. Lydia was too lost in the sensations to care. Choking on cock was an admittedly embarrassing cause of death, but what a way to go.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Even in his wildest, dirtiest fantasies, Betelgeuse couldn’t possibly imagine how intensely, intensely sexy Lydia looked between his thighs. And, beyond that, how beautifully her little lips stretched to accommodate the thickness of his drooling cock. Even further, as if slathering a cake with the best, most decadent icing, she had managed to work him almost to the back of her throat . Normally, even a practiced nightwalker would be gagging, but not his Lydia. No, his talented, beautiful bride had somehow nearly swallowed a good portion of him, and he can feel the slick back of her throat trying to suck more of him down, impossibly so.

His control breaks, then, and he curses, the noises that fill the room due to her attentions are a positively filthy, lustful jumble. His thighs almost tuck around her, his hand that tangle in her braids being relatively gentle, but she can feel his grip tighten as he starts to roll his hips towards her, slowly beginning to fuck into her mouth, unable to help himself. Every single part of her sweet, warm heat, her delicate tongue, her soft and tight inner places were driving him wild as if it were made exclusively for him. He wasn’t going to last long like this, his cock was already twitching, bucking inside the constraints of her lovely little lips, and with each rush of tumescence, she could feel a surge of wet, warm chocolatey liquid spill into her mouth. Of course, he was messy . One day, he’s going to bury her adorable nose in that wiry thatch of his and bottom out in her throat, his gut pushing against her forehead, he determines – but that will take some careful positioning and he’s far too long gone at the moment to even consider pursuing it.

He leans forward just a little as his heat is brought to a fever pitch, ready to hunch over and hump recklessly into the poor girl’s face like an animal – but he retains just enough self-control to keep steady for now, though she can feel the pulses inside her mouth quicken. He’s stiffening, growing impossibly hard inside her – and of course, leaning up in such a way gives him the perfect view of her hand sliding down between her thighs, delving underneath the edges of the shirt she wears that’s his in order to lustfully touch herself. And she moans, the muffled dulcet sound reverberating all around his cock in response. It’s too much, too tremendously hot, and with a snarling roar of some truncated version of her name his orgasm hits, cock lurching, exploding a fountain of warm, thick cum down her throat. He pushes her head down, holding her steady with almost clamped fingers in her hair as he floods her. Indeed, it’s a lot , almost too much. He seems to know, though and pulls mostly out of her mouth to permit her to breathe as he continues to gush, coating her tongue in a syrupy salty-sweet mixture. Eventually, it seems to tap out, and that’s when he slumps back again, almost dizzily, his hands blissfully easing in their grip.

“Fuck,” is all he grunts, his throat raw sounding. There’s so much else he could say, then, but he settles on a more emphatic, “Fuckin’ hell, girl.”

His tongue runs around his dry lips, and he visually soaks her in for a moment as his body slowly eases from orgasm, her cheeks flushed, still nestled between his legs. She’s heavenly looking: rumpled, lips flushed and glistening wet, so deliciously abused. Her hand is still pitifully between her thighs, heatedly pleasuring herself, and he tugs on the collar of the shirt she wears somewhat insistently.

“C’mere,” he mumbles, almost drunkenly, hunger still edging his voice, “Daddy wants you to sit on his face, princess .”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia, never one to leave a job incomplete, didn’t stop lathing his cock with her attention until it was done spurting sweet chocolatey goodness for her, slick with her saliva and nothing else.

“It was… okay?” She questioned, already crawling up from the floor into his lap upon his demand. It was easier this way; letting him tell her what to do, not having to worry about whether or not she was moving too fast or too slow, or doing something wrong. “I’ve never- I mean… I have ... but not like that. It was good?” Intoxicated and drunk on pleasure, her tongue was loose.

Clumsily, she climbed up his body, concentrating very hard on not slipping and kneeing him, or losing her balance and falling off the chair. The bourbon had fully settled in by now. Her vision was swimming, and everything seemed absolutely lovely . She eventually settled sitting high on his chest, thighs spread around his face. Gripping the top of the chair, she leaned over his head to gaze down at the ground suspiciously.

“I… don’t think this is safe. I think… I will fall.” Frowning as though she’d just said something deeply disappointing to him and she was sorry, she scooted down just enough to hunch in and press a sympathetic smooch to his nose.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She was so good he didn’t deserve her. She dedicated her attention to his cock until he was fully, and completely satiated. Whether or not it had to do with his fun flavor mattered not to the ghost, she was pure and generous, and altogether far too kind. As she crawled into his lap obediently, he strokes the side of her face, the leering grin on his face returning. So sweet. So eager to please. He could have so much fun with this.

“The best,” he murmurs, truthfully. “Girl, I haven’t had that much attention put into my dick in ….” he thinks about it, “Eh, ever, if I’m gonna be honest.”

As she climbs him like a wobbly feline, he just keeps smiling, though, “That’s a girl….” He says and then chuckles as she perches on his chest. Her thighs were so soft and lithe, and he nuzzles into them shamelessly as they caress his face. Every part of her was youthful and sweet, and every perverted part of his mind relished it. As she mentions falling, he laps hungrily at the inside of one of her legs, blinking up at her with wide eyes as she smooches his nose. God, she was sweet. It makes him laugh more fully, immediately using his arms to loop around her thighs supportively.

Once he has her fully gathered against his chest and shoulders with his arms, Lydia finds herself being lurched upwards. His head delves forward, lips and tongue finding the sweet, soft junction of her thighs. Instinctively, her legs clench around his head and her calves and feet hook onto his shoulders, her small body almost wrapping around his head as he lifts her – it angles her perfectly towards him, his wiry hair tickling between her knees. The ceiling in the den is relatively low, but she suddenly finds the top of her head touching the ceiling, the ghosts’ feet lifting entirely off the floor by a good inch.

“Y’never gotta worry about fallin’ with me around,” he mumbles almost into her pussy, “I’ll always catch you.”

He drifts them both over to the couch easily, in a small, graceful movement. Bubby realizes he’s suddenly in the way of his master and he lopes off the couch cushions he occupies to sprawl out on the carpeted floor with a long, bored sigh. Betelgeuse is inclined to give in fully to his hunger then, especially as he can taste her delicious skin, and feel her heat almost against his lips. He lays his bride on her back gently on the couch and pushes her legs up just enough to spread her nicely for him. He doesn’t warn her - instead he apologetically pushes his face firmly between her legs and licks slowly, hungrily up between her glistening lips. She tastes delicious, as he discovered while lapping her juices off his fingers and arm, but this is even better somehow, so warm, so pliant. He can’t fuck her fully quite yet, but he can do something else.

She can feel the slippery, long appendage that is his tongue suddenly push into her, but it’s so much thicker now. He’s made some adjustments, it seems, and he yawns her around its girth as if it were his cock. His lips work against her pussy, kissing, sucking, the noises of his efforts positively disgusting, fervid. He threatens to devour her from the bottom up, it seems, and his tongue is so hungry, thrusting deep into her, the substitute almost as demanding as the real thing. He’s almost violent, taking her as he desires for once as if testing to see how much he can actually push, how much he can take before she begs him to stop. His claws dig into her thighs to desperately anchor her. It's him that wants this, now, to reach her innermost places, to lap up all that sweet, giving nature of hers like the monster he really is.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The world was spinning for her when he floated them up and off the recliner, all the way over to the couch. She was still trying to settle her kaleidoscopic vision when he nudged her legs apart with his head, very casually. His first slow, gentle lick disarmed her, made her think she was due for more tender, loving care from her attentive husband. How very wrong she was. This was brutal . He was going to rip her apart.

“Beej,” she screeched, fisting weak hands in his filthy hair to no avail. “I can’t! I can’t,” she repeated desperately because he obviously wasn’t hearing her. “It’s too much! Oh, please, please, baby, please ,” she rambled on, pleading for him the way he told her he would make her.  

He was ironically deaf to her begging. Almost mockingly, he cut off her bucks of protest with an unyielding grip, talons digging into her already bruised thighs. The saving grace was that his lips were still being kind to her, if messy. They kissed and sucked hungrily around his violating tongue, and despite the sudden agony, Lydia was very quickly forced past the threshold into yet another orgasm. Tortured wails filled the room, cutting off her disjointed outcries of dissent. She thought he would stop then, sated by her screams, but he didn’t. If anything, he went at her harder, as if afraid that given a moment of respite, she might be able to form the proper words to stop him.

Lydia didn’t know if she wanted him to stop anymore. After the first peak, his assault became less bitingly painful and more deliriously uncomfortable . It was a subtle distinction, but made a world of difference. This was tolerable. She could allow this. He was an excellent teacher. He knew what he was doing. Maybe he was treating her this way so it would be easier for her later when he finally laid with her properly. That made the most sense. He was doing this because he cared about her. How sweet.

Struck with a pang of affection, her feeble grip on his matted hair crumpled into gentle, loving strokes, even as his defiling grew increasingly violent. When a third orgasm hit her, she released him completely, practically going limp after finishing this wave of convulsions. She simply didn’t have the energy to properly react to the immense pleasure he was dishing out. Stretched beyond her limits, she was boneless beneath him, ready and willing to accept whatever he had to give her.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Her pleading only makes him growl, and soon enough his actions make her roll through two torturous orgasms, offering her little to no relief. If she had really had much experience with him, she would have realized that she had the misfortune of understanding his intentions here. He was releasing some low, dark hunger that had plagued him since he started desiring her, and this overly intense, overly enthusiastic lovemaking was simply that – it was for him this time, violating her in a way that he simply couldn’t before. He’s taken advantage of her good nature and inebriation to push her to her limits, taking her body for his own, claiming her in beastly fashion.

And, in some perverse way, it was because he did care for her. Overly much, perhaps, and in ways that were unnatural at their core. He wanted so much from her. As she begins to weakly stroke his hair he knows he has her, then, and as she’s overcome with a third orgasmic rush, he can feel her clamp down on his tongue in a way that indicates her mortal body is fully and completely spent. Something dangerous in his chest desires to push her more, but he can tell it would be hazardous to say the least and so he relents. He gently and slowly withdraws from her, and he can see her eyes fluttering, struggling to stay awake and failing, her body trembling as the adrenaline coursing through her system earlier crashes her down hard. She’s exhausted in so many ways.

He forgets, he always forgets in his greediest moments….especially with as much as he’s put her through today, how the living really do need to break, to rest, to stop. He has no such limits and hasn’t for a long time, and so he quietly re-buttons some of her crumpled shirt and gathers her into his arms like a possessive gargoyle, carrying her back into Charles’ chair and settling in with her. She falls into a deep exhaustive sleep, then, her head lulling against his chest, completely vulnerable to him. But, he takes no advantage then except to undo her pretty braids and stroke her hair, conjuring a blanket with a beetle pattern and wrapping her in it like an overtired child.

“I think,” he murmurs sighing into the room, knowing she’s far gone, then, “I think I love you, y’stupid, beautiful Lydia Deetz.”

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

A deep growl woke her up. It didn’t originate from Betelgeuse but from the belly of a different beast. Her husband was gone. He had left her alone- Bubby notwithstanding- dry-mouthed, fuzzy-headed, confused, and sore. The last she remembered the ceiling was spinning, suddenly she was laying out on the couch, and then…

Lydia was not allowed a spare moment to consider the dangerous implications of the state she found herself in, and the sinking sensation in her chest that came along with it. Bubby’s growling grew louder, fat jowls peeling back to reveal vicious teeth, and he set himself up at the bottom of the stairs, fur raised and ready to attack. The only light in the room emanated from the enormous mounted television, halfway through screening season one of The Twilight Zone, until the door to the first floor opened, casting a bright yellow glare down the steps. Oh, no.

All hell broke loose.

There was screaming and crying all around. Delia did most of the screaming. Lydia did most of the crying. While it was true that the young girl was granted certain liberties around the house, this was due in part to the fact that she was careful . She cleaned up after herself. She moved so confidently and without remorse in her casual theft of liquor and smokable material- an outlet for teenage rebellion, a cure for boredom- that she never got caught. It wasn’t that her parents weren’t at the very least aware of her pilfering, so much as they ignored it because of how neatly she did it. Lydia was a good girl. She did her chores and homework, got good grades, stayed out of trouble and out of their way. They could afford to look the other way if a cigarette or two went missing, if there was a little less Jack in the bottle than there was the day before.

However, as Betelgeuse had warned her, there was no way they could ignore this.

A three-thousand dollar bottle of Johnny Walker was gone, drank down to the last drop. A third of a box of Cuban cigars were smoked down to the tip. There were tears in her father’s armchair– “Obviously, the work of that rabid animal,” Delia had sneered, already on hold with animal control. It took some stern convincing to lure Beelzebub outside. He didn’t lurk at the end of the driveway tonight, instead circling close to the house, ears pinned back and teeth perpetually bared. The commotion inside had him set on edge.

Lastly, their precious daughter looked rather… ravaged. Contrary to what Lydia might believe, Delia and her father certainly noticed her last hickey. Her father had been inclined to “hunt the little bastard down” but Delia reigned him in, reminding him how little social contact Lydia really had, to let her have this one thing. But this… this was too much for even the progressively minded redhead. Lydia hadn’t just crossed a line. She rode a motorcycle across it, guns a-blazing into the sunset.

As it was, her father and Delia were not accustomed to punishing her. She didn’t have any friends to see or places to be, other than school, making a typical grounding seem inadequate. So, they hit her where it hurt. Her camera. It was confiscated- “until she could conduct herself like a proper young lady”- taken and hidden away in some secret place that Lydia probably couldn’t reach. Like she was a child. It made her burn with rage. Furious tears rolled down her cheeks as she limped upstairs under her parents’ judgmental gaze donned in nothing but his gifts; the ultimate walk of shame. Those tears turned frantic once her head hit the pillow, quickly soaking the soft jersey fabric in her despair.

Did they fuck? She didn’t even know. From the scant amount of blood she wiped away from between her legs, she was inclined to think they had. She didn’t blame him if they did. She remembered enough to recall how enthusiastically she returned his advances, bending to his every whim. He only had so much self-restraint. She could have tried to resist him a little. This was her fault, really. As much as she tried to will them away, the tears wouldn’t stop. She didn’t want to call him, didn’t want him to see her like this. So disgustingly weak and needy ... dependant … but the pain was too much, and she knew he would have the words to make it stop.

“Betelgeuse,” she shuddered out faintly into her damp pillow and cuddled the plush beetle-blanket closer.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse, on the other hand, was having to deal with none of his prior night’s actions. In fact, he was off on another job and had left Lydia some sort of note that she probably didn’t see or read. He stayed with her as much as he could the night prior, lost in thought, holding her. He was swimming with possessiveness, so much so that it very well could have been a growl of frustration as Lydia awoke, melding with Bubby’s vocal alert as he disappeared before the Deetzes materialized.

He was in the middle of his work when he heard that familiar whisper of his name, that tug in his chest, which absolutely told him his name had been said at least once . And there was only one person on heaven and earth who could say his name with any kind of effect. Lydia. Either she was in trouble, or she was remembering their prior night. Titillating as an idea. Either way, it deserved attention. There was complete and utter chaos swirling around him, he was teaching the current ghosts in the house how to scare their poor living hell out of their unwelcome living move-ins. They were slow learners, and the ghost was getting frustrated anyway.

He appeared in her mirror in a shimmering haze at first before coming in clear, all grimaces, his face more death-like than usual. He looked a lot like he did when he tried to connive her into her first deal: dark, confident, a force that was just patiently waiting to be released.

“Hey babes,” he greets her, not seeing what was currently her state exactly at first, but the noises in the background of his image were horrendous sounding. Screaming, crashing, howling, it sounded like someone being murdered and thrown around a room.

“Shut UP,” he suddenly howls over a shoulder, voice pitched high, “I’m TALKIN’ TO MY WIFE!” Abruptly, he reaches off to the side and grabs someone, wrestling them into the frame of her mirror. “Say hello to Mister Patel,” he grabs the utterly bewildered middle-aged Indian man’s hand and waves it, mushing his lips around with his other hand, “Hiii, Lydia.”

He muscles the poor soul around easily, shaking his shoulders in an overly-friendly, aggressive way, adding, “Mister Patel here has two unwelcome guests in his house. Don’t you, Raahithya? And you’re what?”

The man hesitantly answers, his accent thick, “Going to…ah, going to—-scare them. Out.”

“Veeeeery good!” Betelgeuse crows, bopping the poor, poor man on his nose and shoving him back out of frame, “NOW GET BACK TO WORK!” He hollers demandingly, and then adds in a whispered growl almost to himself, “Daddy ‘ere has to see what his little woman’s been up to.”

He can see her now, thrown over her bed limply, her face partially buried in her arms and the beetle blanket he had wrapped her in. Part of his heart thrills at this, before he notices her cheeks are flushed, and it’s obvious she’s been crying. This gives the ghost immediate cause to action, saying something to his current victims about “staying right there, keeping it up, we’ll move downstairs next.”

A booted heel lifts him through the mirror, “Don’t worry baby,” he mutters, struggling through her vanity in a mess of stripes and limbs, “I’m c….I’m comin’, see? I’m comin’ for ya— whassamatter?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia’s first attempt at answering his question was terrible. It was little more than a sobbing, hiccupped apology for interrupting his work followed by a gentle reminder to please be nice to the baby ghosts, they were still learning. The next was marginally better, but that wasn’t saying much. Shoulders quivering, she wept a jerky string of mumbled, incomprehensible gibberish into her blanket. She was still wearing the white button-up. The sky was dark, but the house was quiet, indicating that enough time passed since he left that the Deetzes had retired for the evening– and yet Lydia was still awake.

Drowning in her emotions, she remained motionless, on the verge of hyperventilating into her pillow her grief was so deep. However, when she felt the familiar tug of his claws raking through her sinuous locks- lightly scraping her scalp, catching at the nape and pulling oh so gently- Lydia couldn’t continue to deny herself the perfect safety and comfort that his embrace offered. As often as he made his pseudo-threats at her, got a kick out of making her nervous, he never really hurt her. Not really.

With a broken cry, she flung herself into his arms, clinging her own around his neck and burying her damp face into the hollow of his throat. Then, she told him everything.

“I don’t,” she sniffled, burrowing into him, “I don’t remember what happened. I woke up, and- and you were gone, and Bubby wouldn’t stop growling at my parents.” This was sobbed especially pitifully as if it were a benchmark of her own failings as his Mistress. “And oh, Beej, they were so mad. My dad yelled at me.” She grew quieter, smaller upon relinquishing this. The more she spoke, the easier it became to get it all out, though her voice was still thick with pain. “Delia basically called me a slut that was going to ruin their reputation.” A shadow of Lydia’s rare malice made itself known as she tearfully mocked her stepmother and everything the woman stood for.

“And then… then they took my camera. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she bemoaned, working herself up at the mere thought of going a full day without her beloved hobby, much less an entire month. “I need it. I know it’s stupid and this makes me sound so petty and materialistic, but- but,” she held him tight again, muffling the excuse for her raw emotions into his jacket, “it’s mine.”

After a beat, she was able to work up the bravery to disclose the worst of her concerns.

“Did we have sex?” She finally queried, finally pulling back enough to aim bloodshot honey eyes framed by long, damp black lashes up at him. “I’m not- I’m not mad at you if we did. I was being-” she cut herself off, gaze abruptly shifting down, “and you’re you. And it’s- it’s just… I understand,” she finished, snuggling back against him to physically convey what she was having a hard time doing with words. It didn’t really matter in the end, as long as he was hers, and she was his.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Fucking teenagers. Betelgeuse is rendered fully out of his league in an instant. Lydia was sobbing, almost rendered paralyzed it seemed with grief. The first thing he could think to do was touch her hair, really, trying to comfort her as she sobbed into her pillow. He thought last night went well. Like, really well. What is this? A knot started to form in his chest until she practically flung herself on top of him. Oh. He pulled his face back into his neck slightly in surprise but wrapped his arms around her, thoroughly bemused.

Oh. Uh oh. She doesn’t remember? Ah……fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuuuuuuu-uuu-ck. You’ve done it again mastermind. She was that drunk and you barely noticed! Grimacing to himself, cursing internally, he tries to focus on her explanation of what was wrong. As it turns out, it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the Deetzes. Maybe he dodged a bullet. But he still feels….weird. Is that guilt again? Though, as she describes what Charles and Delia did to her in response to his actions, he growls, grumbling in his throat.

How dare they!?

Protectiveness swims in his thoughts. Possessiveness, too. They called her slut, yelled at her, and took her camera. That was pretty much like yelling directly at him, right? And taking his stuff? No one does that. That rage that was previously contained in a pink cloud of lust is unleashed, now, and his eyes glitter darkly. He holds Lydia tightly, quietly, as she finishes, and he sniffs, not interrupting her. He lights a cigarette instead and takes a moment to reply.

“No,” he answers her last question first, “We didn’t. We did some other stuff. But not that. I’m gonna make sure yer sober for that.” He says it almost to reassure himself. He nuzzles into her hair and resumes stroking it, cuddling her into his jacket. He liked this, certainly. “We had…fun, as far as I could see, you uh. You were into it.” He pulls and fusses with the blanket, wrapping her and himself in it with a clawed hand.

He wasn’t about to relinquish an opportunity like this. She was vulnerable, and even though he really ought to have been working, this was far, far more worthwhile to him. He might be able to get everything he wants and everything Lydia wants out of this if he plays his cards right.

“Don’t worry,” he murmurs, “I won’t let them do nothin’ to ya. Not really. Bubby growls ‘cause he’s protective of you just like I am. You’re not a slut for sleepin’ with your husband. I’m the first you’ve had, that’s like the opposite of being a slut, babes. That’s like, the most …. traditional order of things, actually, that I can think of,” he still considers her a virgin, red tape notwithstanding, and he’s sticking to it. Then, he starts poking holes in the ridiculous logic as it churns around in his brain, “Besides, how can you ruin a reputation if they’re the only ones who saw you last night ‘sides me? To really ruin a reputation, other people gotta see it.”

He pauses, and then casually adds in an overtly mischievous voice, whispering into Lydia’s ear, “You could always stay with me ‘couple days. Make ‘em see what they’re missin’ without you. Run away with me.” He chuckles, then, and alternately suggests, “Or I could come over as your date. Let them yell at me, huh? I think they’d shit themselves Lyds. The shrine your mom has in the living room downstairs of my gorgeous snake-face is fuckin’ bizarre, we could let them see the real thing again. Maybe she needs a live model.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Oh, good,” she sighed out in relief at the revelation that they hadn’t gone that far, some of her tension releasing as he cuddled his way into her bed, wrapping them both up in the blanket. “Last I remember, uhm… we were on the couch,” she finished lamely, too embarrassed to apply labels to their actions.

He said that she wasn’t a slut, and logically she knew this was the truth. Her inner feminist raged at the sliver of doubt that remained nagging at her, calling him a liar– and yet there it was. After all, she told him she “needed time” and by the end of their second date, she was choking on his cock like an easy bar skank. She was a horrible hypocrite. Would she have done that with anyone, or just him? Lydia didn’t know and probably never would, judging by his fiercely possessive nature, leaving her internal struggle unresolved. Maybe the time she said she needed wasn’t to adjust to the idea of a sexual relationship but to adapt to how ready her body was to have one, and the aftermath of the damage left by that newly found hunger.

“They don’t want other people to see,” Lydia clarified and sunk further into his embrace as his words calmed her, drying her tears, just like she knew they would. Though she was definitely averse to letting him see her so pitiful, the real reason she waited so long after the debacle with her parents to call him back was that she was aware of his penchant for vengeance. Were he to hear Delia and her father ambling about the house, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to reign in his more malicious inclinations. “They want me to cover them up. Delia ‘suggested’ I wear a scarf or a turtleneck under my blouse when I go to school until they heal.” Her voice grew fierce, eyes flashing gold through the shadows and nostrils flaring stubbornly. “But I won’t do it and they can’t make me.”

She loved the marks he left behind. Every time she saw them, she heard his voice in her ear, telling her how “beautiful” she was, how much he wanted her. They were proof of his desire. Lydia would be happy if they never faded and she got to feel that way every time she looked in the mirror.

“You could always stay with me ‘couple days. Make ‘em see what they’re missin’ without you. Run away with me .”

“They probably wouldn’t even notice I was gone until dinner time and food doesn’t magically appear on the table,” she hypothesized numbly, worn out. It was becoming harder and harder to feel hurt by her parents’ callousness. The longer one is subjected to certain brands of pain, the easier it becomes to accept it as normal. “Can I really come stay with you? Your roommates won’t be upset? I would only be there a day. I have to go to school on Monday.”

Maybe she could get to work on straightening up that kitchen. It was a mess. It was no wonder Betelgeuse ended up spilling blood everywhere with cluttered counters like that.  

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Oh,” says the ghost, a tinge of apology in his tone but his voice primarily remains as suggestive as ever, “I uh. Got a little enthusiastic after that point, if ya know what I mean. Sorta tried to eat ya from the bottom up.” He smiles, greasily.

At her stubborn refusal to cover up the marks he left, the ghost’s greasy smile pulls wider, and he bites the very tip of her ear gently with a pleased growl and purrs into her ear, “Atta girl. You give ‘em hell .” The predatory thing in his chest was immensely pleased, beyond the fact that Lydia was pleased of her ravished state he was doubly pleased at her misbehavior. There was a wild girl somewhere in there yet, and the ghoul seemed bound and determined to tease it out. Plus, the more upset he could possibly make the Maitlands or the Deetzes the better things were – though he was definitely, definitely not going to let her parents get away with their nasty little punishment. No, he was going to help Lydia misbehave in every possible way and then some - especially with these particular individuals…they’ve earned his ire. And then, as she describes their attitude about her presence, they simply add to his shit-list.

“I just don’t….see,” he mutters, annoyed, “How they can just ignore their own beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter like they do. But it ain’t surprising, considering they once decided it was a great idea to turn Winter River into some attraction for bored businessmen and use you and your connections to the other side to do it. Then they saw you, when they wanted somethin’ from you, and this ain’t no different I guess. I mean, from a pure manipulation standpoint, that was amazing , and it absolutely gave me an in, but they almost exorcized our favorite dopes-on-a-rope.”

He chuckles, then, “It’s a good thing I stuck around. Barb and Adam looked like ghost beef jerky.

He pulls a clawed hand through her hair slowly as she asks about his roommates.

“Who, those useless sad sacks? Nah, they don’t get to tell me what they mind or what they don’t. And they like you,” he admits, with a roll of his eyes, “A lot. In fact, they’re gonna be so happy I might vomit beetle-guts everywhere. It’s gonna be gross, Lyds. They’re violently disgusting when they’re happy. Turns my stomach. But you should definitely stay over. At least, until your parents calm down. Or…school, I guess.” As if alighting on some marvelous idea he adds playfully and wickedly, “We can make ‘em think you were eaten by Bubb—….nnn, Beezlebub. Then they’ll be real happy to see you when you get back.”

He’s definitely putting snakes in Delia’s underwear drawer. A lot of them.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

She shivered when his teeth scraped her sensitive ear, but kept her neck bared for his attention instead of shying away. His array of glowing compliments made her smile. This time, she didn’t even blush or stammer out any denials.

“They never wanted a kid,” Lydia explained away her parents’ neglect, fiddling with a button on his suit. “They only took me in out of guilt, after my mom went to prison- to keep me out of the system. Otherwise, they’d still be living it up in New York right now…” The end of the sentence trailed off and Lydia snapped her gaze back up to his, eager to change the subject. “Can we go now? Just poof there? I don’t want to be here anymore.”

The atmosphere in the house was so thick from the fight that it was impossible for her to settle. If she hadn’t called Betelgeuse, she likely would have been up tossing and turning all night.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He liked a lot of things about Lydia but one of the things he’s decided is very lovely about her is the way she smells. As her head tilts just enough to keep her neck bared, he gently nuzzles at her, almost without thinking, enjoying the sensation and being careful not to irritate the places that he angered with his teeth prior.

“Well I want a kid—,” he mutters, and then furrows his brows deeply, quickly correcting the dumb thing he said while distractedly feeling her delicate hands messing with his suit buttons, “Well, I want you .” He grumbles, huffing to himself. Idiot .

“I also think they moved here because your dad had a nervous breakdown. Remember, that’s why his boss came here ‘r somethin’? Winter River, attraction theme park, pitched by your dad to that shmuck?” He tries to be comforting, here, it seems, “I dunno. I only got pieces while I was hangin’ around in that model of Adam’s. So it wasn’t just you.”

As she appears eager to change the subject, he nods, acquiescing to her request. “’Course!” he says, and with a big, loud, snap of his fingers they veritably POP from her bed directly onto the Roadhouse’s living room couch as if they had always been there, Lydia still tucked against him just as she was in the bed. He’s not going to get tired of this ability anytime soon.

Of course, the two individuals already sitting on that couch had not expected sudden, abrupt company. Jacques LaLean lets go a surprised, elongated girlish shriek, and Ginger the spider joins him, leaping into his arms desperately before clambering inside his ribcage. Jacque is so surprised at this alone that he falls into a pile of bones on the spot, his head rolling until it hits the base of the television set.

Betelgeuse laughs. He laughs and laughs and laughs, that high-pitched hysterical, mischievous gleeful laughter. “What!” he yells, still laughing, “You two look like you’ve seen a ghost!” That sends him into a new torrent of laughter, eventually having to wipe tears from his eyes.

Realizing exactly what had happened after his initial surprise, the skeleton is already grumbling and trying to put his pieces back together bit by bit. Ginger attempts to peel herself out of his ribs, looking mightily put out, squirming huffily from between the bars of his bones.

“Zat wasn’t funny, Beeeaatle-joo-ce,” Jacques mutters, his grinning skull looking very cross from where it still sits on the floor. He can’t see Lydia from his current position, it seems. “You are always doing zis pranking, my bonez, they can only take so much!”

Ginger finally manages to pop from between Jacques’ ribs and tries to help putting some larger bones of his together. “Yea Bee-Jay, ya gotta knawk it off with this—-“ she pauses, though, and drops Jacques’ arm bone in surprise, “Miss Lydia!” she gasps, “Yeh back again!” the little spider seems so, so happy to see her. Like a bright ray of sunshine in a gloomy world.

Betelgeuse’s laughter had devolved into chuckling to himself, all the way up until Ginger took notice of Lydia. Then the grossed-out face appeared, and the chuckling waned out into a grumpy silence. They were going talk her ear off.

“Oh! Ze—Miss—Ze Miss Lydia is ‘ere again?!” Jacque exclaims happily from the floor, “Ooh, somebodee—please move my skull so that I may see heer, oui??”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Oh!” Lydia popped up in astonishment at the commotion, making her way to gather Jacque’s skull and pass it over to the discombobulated skeleton. Her limp was much slighter now. “I’m sorry about that. Are you okay, Jacques?”

“Eeet eez so wonderful to be seeing you again, cheri,” he greeted warmly and enthusiastically, holding his head under one arm while Ginger worked on connecting the other. “Zis happens all zee time, please do not be doing zee apologizing for zat moule à merde .” For a split second, his pencil-thin, penciled on mustache twitched with distaste, but then he was all toothy grins and friendly eye-sockets again. “In fact, it eez moi who should be doing zee apologizing, for embarrassing you about le hickeys, Miss Lydia.”

“No, no,” Lydia flushed, ducking her chin demurely, “you were just being a gentleman. Don’t worry about it.”

“Tut-tut,” Jacques interjected, having fully pulled himself together. “Non,” he insisted firmly, “you are a proper lady and a proper lady does not keees and tell , and zis is exactly what I made you do. It eez unacceptable and I must humbly beg your forgiveness, minette.” He bowed so deeply and gallantly then that Lydia had no choice but to acquiesce to his way of seeing things.

“Sure,” she grinned, almost laughing. “I forgive you.” This didn’t sound in the least bit sincere, but the skeleton seemed placated anyway.

“BeeJay,” Ginger finally spoke up, perched atop Jacques’ shoulder while she eyed the hickeys in question with displeasure. “Don'tcha know how to show a lil tact? Gawd, ya marked the poor thing up like a horny teenaguh.” When she saw that Lydia’s living flesh was turning an even darker shade of red under their scrutiny, Ginger showed a little tact herself and changed the subject. “You two stickin’ around fuh movie night? I’m bakin’ up a batch o’ my famous ginguh snap cookies!” The spider proceeded to snap impressively using one of her fingerless, spindly legs. Lydia hadn’t seen normal food in the Neitherworld yet and was intrigued to find out if Ginger’s gingersnap cookies would have a bite to them.

I’m staying,” Lydia clarified, making the skeleton and spider practically beam. Their obvious pleasure from her mere presence was deeply flattering. It made her forget all about the stinging dryness in her eyes and why they felt that way at all. “I don’t know about Beej. I kind of took him away from work. ” She turned to him now. He’d sprawled out over the entire couch, robbing anyone else of a place to sit, and was puffing away at a cigarette as per his modus operandi. He appeared deeply, deeply uninterested in the conversation as a whole. “I don’t want you to- I don’t know- miss any deadlines or anything. Get in trouble with your boss? I don’t know how this works. I’ll be okay by myself so you can go back to work if you want.”

She didn’t want him to go, but she wasn’t about to ask him to stay and sacrifice money in his wallet- like a spoiled, needy housewife. Such requests reminded her far too much of Delia.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse, meanwhile, had taken the opportunity to spread out and occupy the entirety of the couch indeed, minus the pile of bones at the far end that were currently being re-arranged into a full version of poor Jacque. He had lit a cigarette as mentioned and let the both of them blather on about Lydia, taking a smug bit of satisfaction knowing that he was the one who truly had her.

He vaguely perks an ear at the mention of her hickeys though, that smug satisfaction growing. It didn’t reflect on his grumpy, aloof face, but there it was, curling happily around in his belly. As Ginger comes around to fussing at him, he looks at her vaguely. “Well she’s sixteen, so that checks out, don’t it, Ging? I still got it,” he replies dismissively, picking at something on his shirt, “Ain’t my fault the girls in this place don’t know what they’re missin’.” He winks sneakily at Lydia then, indicating his level of teasing.

The status of whether or not he would return to work was practically adorable though. He suppresses a chuckle, but a wry little smile tugs at the corner of his lips, unable to stay off his face. He could tell what she wanted, despite her clear intentions of being low maintenance. He flicks the end of his cigarette with a thumb to rustle the ash off. “I dunno,” he says, disingenuously, voice manipulative, “Returnin’ to work is awfully tempting when faced with eating Ginger’s cookies and watching you both drool over my wife. Even she’s ready to get rid of me, see? I didn’t know y’had such a thing for skeletons and spiders, Lyds.”

Ginger rolled her eyes then, “Since when have you evah enjoyed workin’ a day in ya life Bee-jay?”

The ghost grunts a swift and smug reply, “Since Juno started payin’ me for what she knows I’m good at.”

The spider hesitates, dubiously looking askance at the ghoul, “She’s….just…lettin’ ya—-“

Betelgeuse nods, looking exceptionally pleased with his current negotiated situation. His grim and evilly self-satisfied expression told the spider everything she needed to know…and she stopped asking anything further. But she looked visibly concerned. In reality, Betelgeuse was the boss now.

“But,” the ghost adds, benignly, “I guess I’ll stick around. Gotta make sure there’s no threesomes I gotta worry about while I’m gone.”

The skeleton and spider both made exasperated noises in tandem, Jacques muttering under his breath about how the ghost always had to go and make perfectly nice things vile and disgusting . Their upset response makes Betelgeuse smile with satisfaction. Eyeing the clear situation of couch space, Lydia eventually has to physically attempt to move him though, which the ghoul finds impishly delightful. He acquiesces, playfully taking offense. “Alright alright, I’m scootin’, I’m movin’—whatcha gonna give me for it, huh? I’ve abdicated Rome!”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The gingersnap cookies were delicious, if a bit moody. The film of the night was one Lydia had never seen; older, black and white, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The spider was highly critical of Astaire’s performance, more than once calling it “sloppy” and “rushed.” Jacques was quick to agree with her. Lydia couldn’t see what they were talking about, but their opinions were so passionate she thought it unwise to play devil’s advocate. This was obviously something Ginger and Jacques did often. After some questioning, she gathered that movie night was a biweekly affair that Betelgeuse was always invited to and never attended. Lydia knew better than to ask him why.

This almost felt like a double date, though she still hadn’t been able to ascertain whether or not the spider and the skeleton were romantically involved, or if something like that was even possible for them if they wanted it. They were obviously close . The idea that they wanted to be together that way and couldn’t made Lydia very sad, so she snuggled further into her husband’s lap, tugging the beetle blanket up under her chin.

He conjured it for her when she asked nicely- as if she would ask any other way. Despite urging him to sit up and make room for everyone, there was only so much room on the admittedly lush, spacious loveseat. Ginger took up mantle in Jacque’s ribcage, right around where his heart would be, while Lydia took Betelgeuse’s lap of her own volition, without any instruction or direction from him whatsoever. She was learning, too.

His hands were surprisingly subdued, staying outside of the blanket to pet her hair and hold a perpetual cigarette. Occasionally, she would gesture that she wanted a toke and he would hold it to her lips for her in a thoughtless, intimate gesture. Her eyes grew heavier the longer the film went on. Warm, fresh-baked cookies settled pleasantly in her tummy and before the halfway mark Lydia was out for the count. Ginger was sure to remark on this quietly, commenting that she would have to show it to Lydia again sometime so that the girl could “experience it prawpully.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Lydia was soon fast asleep, indeed, tucked against his chest and gut underneath the warm blanket they shared. For being as cold and corpselike as he was, he at least had the fortune to be able to retain heat.

He was a good cuddle, too, being chubby enough, and Lydia’s slight form easily melded against him, carefully tucked in surprisingly strong arms. Once Betelgeuse and the others realizes she’s asleep, he ignores the spider’s commentary about re-watching this dreadfully dull film yet again with her later in order to remark he’d better take her to bed.

Without disturbing her, he gathers Lydia up just enough to keep her supported so that he can seamlessly glide her into one of the back rooms, his room. His bed is simply a large coffin, a wilting four-poster capped with skulls on all four points. Plush red velvet coats the interior, worn and frayed. With a wink, it creakingly widens just enough for two and he eases Lydia’s prone body into the confines of the interior of it. He idly pulls on some sleep things, silk maroon pajamas from another time, and tucks in next to her blanketed body, pulling over them both a very worn and soft sheet. The ghost has designated himself as the big spoon, and he nearly envelops her slight frame comfortably.

Resisting the urge to touch her like usual, he instead has had some plans concocted for himself to keep busy. Many plans, in fact. He’s been concocting them all evening, and he whispers a sigh into her ear, barely audible.

“Daddy’s gonna take care of a couple things. Sweet dreams princess….”

Charles Deetz had been very deeply asleep for the past two hours. He had used what little bourbon he had remaining to knock himself out - the whole situation with Lydia and whatever new beau she had acquired- and over three grand of his precious dollars down some stranger’s gullet, his cubans up in smoke- had left him in quite a state. In order to sleep peacefully, the man had self medicated quite heavily.

He was peaceful for the moment, and a dream was starting to slowly play out. He was happily sitting with Delia in the living room, sunlight streaming in through the windows. They were laughing about something, and he kissed her. “Get some of the wine from downstairs,” dream Delia had suggested, her tone cloying and playful, “I’m just parched Charles!”

Pleased at the promise of a romantic afternoon, dream Charles quickly found himself jaunting down the stairs into the finished basement. Midway down the stairs though, the mood suddenly shifted. The lights dimmed and some turned a bloody red, and the stairs behind him melted away into blackness. He couldn’t go back from whence he came, obviously, and his chest tightened. The small staircase itself had taken an ominous turn, and with shaking legs the man proceeded to go down them for what felt like an eternity, far further down than they could have possibly been in reality.

As he almost reached what appeared to be the bottom, he heard distinct noises. Moaning, to be precise, intermittently broken up by gasps. The noises’ source was distinctly feminine and young, they were followed by a masculine dark lusty chuckle that echoed in his ears. Something compelled Charles onward, and his foot finally found the pale cream colored carpet of the basement floor in the darkness that seemed to surround him. Thankful to have escaped the strange eerie sensation of the staircase he looked up into the dimly lit den to pursue his search for wine, barely remembered by now, but what met his eyes made his heart leap into the back of his throat in abject horror.

In the dim light of the basement, a very real seeming and visceral scene was being played out. The first thing that caught his attention was his beautiful daughter, fully naked, illuminated in the low light, her pale skin reflecting it and making her stand out in the gloom. Her small, soft breasts on full display, her back arched, her face contorted with agonizing pleasure. It was from here, clearly, that the moans emanated - and she sobs, softly, the noise making Charles’ hands want to rise to his ears immediately, but finding he simply cannot. Her black hair swims on her pale shoulders, and the cause of her current state is behind her, darkened in shadow.

It is the shape of a man, he can see it now. Not a boy, not one of her classmates. Not someone her age, but a grown man. In one of his hands is one of Charles’ cigars, the smoke slowly rising from between suspiciously pale and clawed fingers. His other is apologetically shoved up between his daughter’s thighs, buried deep into her, every motion eliciting a new pleasure filled noise from Lydia as she straddles his thighs wantonly. A ruby ring catches the dim light.

Charles tries to close his eyes to no avail. He tries to move to no avail. Physically, he found himself entirely trapped and no matter his struggle, unable to look away. And then, a voice from the dark figure.

THAT voice. That voice that had give him nightmares for years after it was first spoken. He knew it far too well, that gritty, nasty malicious tone, nearly slithering from the darkness even without the form of the snake Charles so fervently recalls. He knows him now as the dead man who attempted to marry his daughter. He attempts to scream, to cry out, anything - but no. The scene plays on.

“Been a while, Chuck,” Betelgeuse remarks casually, smugly and slowly, twitching his fingers just so and eliciting a whorish noise from Lydia’s dark lips. She doesn’t seem to notice her father at all, as if he were an invisible witness to the entire scene. “Yer gonna watch what I did to yer daughter last night. Oh yeah,” he confirms slimily with dark pleasure, “It was me that wrecked ‘er Chuckie boy. She loved every second of it too,” his nose wrinkles nastily in the dark, “Specially the parts she can’t remember.”

At this, Lydia reaches for the bottle sitting on the floor near Betel’s legs and swigs it back. The ghost laughs, and it meters out into a low chuckle. The light has found some of his features now, illuminating the pair. The ghoul behind her, dark skeletal eyes in shadow, that unmistakable pale grinning face that Charles will never soon forget. It was him. Charles begged him mentally to stop. Anything but this. Anything.

But the scene continued. It played almost exactly as it had happened, but the ghoul is careful to add some exaggerated details just for Chuck’s additional misery. Lydia’s poor father was forced to sit through all of it, with some additional commentary as Betelgeuse forced his cock down his daughter’s throat over and over. “You have no idea how amazing this feels Chuck. For a virgin, uhnnnnhhh , she is master class at this. You wish the bag o’ bones you call your wife was this eager to suck down your dick. When was the last time she even mmmmmmh, mmm …did? Look at how happy she is—-“ he hitches there though, reaching the part of their interaction where he unloads into Lydia’s mouth, and does so with reenacted aplomb.

They eventually reach the ending, though, the part where he gets just a little too eager, and Lydia becomes a little too forgiving. She begs him, pleads with him, to no avail. Chuck would be crying if he could be crying, and silently his begging matches hers, watching his daughter be overwhelmed by this hideous monster. Once she falls still, Betelgeuse changes the course of events and pulls himself off the couch to address Charles more directly. The Manhattanite could swear he could feel the horror’s musty breath as he leaned into his ear to hiss, “This would be terrible if we weren’t married, Chuck. I don’t want y’thinkin’ I’m not an honorable man,” this being said after he ravished her, “Y’wouldn’t believe horny I am for this bitch though, I figured y’might understand as a fellow alpha male. One more thing,” he adds with a dangerous smile, “Don’t fuck with her Chuck. Only I’m allowed to do that.” With that, Charles woke up in a cold sweat, bolt upright in bed, screaming, howling in anguish into the night. Next to him, Delia slept peacefully on. For now.

Ah, Delia Deetz. This was going to be much easier and less….intimate, than Charles’ torment. He started her off with something similar, though, a pleasant afternoon in the house that she and Charles and Lydia all shared with the Maitlands. Birds are singing, the sun is shining. She’s helping Barbara do something creative with the curtains near the front door. All is well, and easy. In a flash though, things change, and they change rapidly. In a stuttering series of lights, the room and house turn grey, and Barbara is nowhere to be seen. Delia’s perspective changes – and she looks into the living room from the staircase. Mourning sheets appear on the pieces of furniture and Delia’s carefully sculpted art pieces, covering the room in draped white sheets.

In front of the fireplace Lydia shimmers into view, her back to her step-mother. Delia tries to call out to her to no avail – instead finding herself unable to get closer or further away from her step-daughter. Suddenly, who should appear slowly beside her but that horrible, horrible figure she hoped never to see again. They don’t mention him or his attack on their daughter, and seeing him re-enter her visual memory is startling to say the very least. She tries to cry out, again, but cannot.

“So what’ya think we’ll do with all this junk?” He asks the Lydia beside him. Delia remembers that voice far, far too well. His nightmarish figure has influenced her art since she met him. Betelgeuse .

“I don’t know, darling,” the Lydia beside him answers cheerily, and reaches for his horrible, pale hand. He takes hers in his easily, far too easily, “But it all really should just be burned , we don’t have any use for it. It never sold, the art dealer made that clear. Always lost money on her, he said. Even with all that snake stuff.”

“I appreciate the homage ,” replies the dream ghost, “But it all never really looked anything like me. I was way freakier than that.” With that, poor Delia is shown a montage of them happily destroying her artwork together in creative ways. One of them out in the yard with dynamite, laughing together. It would be hilarious if it didn’t cut to Delia’s core, and she finds herself silently weeping to herself as the pair re-decorates to Betelgeuse’s utterly hideous aesthetic. There’s piranhas living underneath the dining room table in a moat that surrounds it. Piranhas . There’s stripes on practically everything, hideous, hideous monochrome stripes. All of the parts of the house that she watched Barbara carefully restore are covered in female pin-ups. And worse. So much worse.

Once the entire house has been utterly taken over, she is treated to a scene of Lydia and Betelgeuse kissing passionately on top of the living room coffee table. The couches look like they’ve both sprouted monstrous levels of hair. One growls.

“It’s so nice having the place to ourselves,” the striped pajama demon coos, “Now that we’re married and your parents are gone , we can do anything we want. Oh, don’t forget to get your wedding ring from the dresser in the master bedroom, I know you kept it hidden there.”

“I’m so happy , Beej. I love you. I’ll absolutely get the ring from the master bedroom dresser drawer now that we don’t have to hide anything ,” comes the cheesy, over-enthusiastic reply from Delia’s step-daughter.

They kiss again, and if Delia could faint, she would faint, probably. Instead, she wakes up in a cold sweat, wheezing. Not even noticing Charles missing from their bed, she flies to the dresser drawer in a hot panic, flinging open the top drawer in an effort to search for the ring from her dream. Instead, she finds snakes.

So many, many snakes. Striped snakes. They scatter everywhere, bursting from the top drawer and opening the middle and bottom drawers with their increasing numbers, slithering out like a wave. Delia screams. She screams, and screams, and screams.

Chuckie and Delia have both been given restless evenings as punishment for their trespasses on him and his. Inside the coffin far off in the Neitherworld, Betelgeuse twitches and chuckles against Lydia in the half-sleep he’s used to concoct all this nightmare fuel.

With his two victims taken care of, his focus turns of course to the placid little dreamer spooned against him. She could use some rest after the intense few days he’s spent with her, but his reality often doesn’t align with anything relating to common sense and this is no exception. He was going to have a little fun, indeed, while he was granting himself some unending dreamy wish fulfillment. Into her subconscious he crawls, easily, sleazing around until he finds what he likes. It’s as if he’s turned lights on in a proverbial closet marked SIN and took a look around.

Oh…so she likes that does she? Naughty girl.

After spelunking in her brain for just a little while, Betelgeuse collects some of the elements he’s definitely going to need to put this little night-time show into production. Was it nice of him to hotwire into the poor girl’s unsuspecting mind in order to easily pick and choose some interesting tidbits to titillate her with? Of course not. But he’s not nice, and he’s about to get a lot not-nicer, if the hot stuff in her little bad girl brain closet was anything to go by.

We’re going back, now, to the start of things. Re-writing that nasty little bit of history where he meets a proper, fitting, dastardly-dan sort of end at their initial wedding. The first one, with the maroon tux and pretty red dress, except now he gets to decide what happens. Like a tape re-winding, the visuals Lydia sees in her mind are muddled and backwards right up until the point where the Maitlands attempt to say his name. This is clearly the part where he went wrong, and so this is clearly the crux of the moments he needs to adjust and so he pauses frame there as if going through film. The movie begins again from there in Lydia’s mind’s eye. He and Lydia at the altar, with the strange disheveled priest. Instead of pulling Adam’s teeth out and slamming an ineffective zipper and then iron cover onto Barb’s mouth, he simply ties them down both in bolted chairs that lock into the floor. They yell his name. They scream his name. Over and over and over. Nothing happens. The Deetz’s are too shocked to do anything from where they’re currently entrapped by sculptures. Betelgeuse adjusts his suit, and snuggles Lydia’s arm into his own.

This is how it should have been.

The Maitlands are getting fussy, though, behind them – even in Lydia’s subconscious they are ready to fiercely fight for her virtue, and after a moment the ghoul is forced to roll his eyes and ball-gag them both. After that, it’s just him and his extremely worried looking bride, with a background of muffled complaining. She doesn’t look any less confused, frightened and hesitant than she did the first time around, and that’s beautiful to him. The priest’s warbling voice echoes.

“Do you, Lydia Deetz, take this….man, to be your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health—“

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia was having a lovely dream. Her beloved polaroid was slung back around her neck, where it belonged, and she was snapping away at weeping willows made of liquorice, strolling down a dark chocolate sidewalk that bordered a field of cotton candy. Alongside her sauntered Percy-  a skinny little black cat that left her life along with her mother. Delia never let her get another one. She was allergic. They were catching up, quipping back and forth easily like old friends, which they were. He was displeased that she was giving her love away to a filthy dog, but relayed that he was happy for her nonetheless.

Suddenly, Percy stopped in his tracks, bristling, a hiss forming on his imperfectly scarred alley cat face. “There is an intruder here. Beware.”

“What are you talking about, Percy?” The oblivious girl questioned laughingly, as though he was telling a joke she didn’t quite get, and kept walking on unperturbed. When no one responded, she thought to lower her lens and look back, only to find herself alone. The sky suddenly began to swirl with violent, realistic rain clouds. It didn’t even occur to her to run. There was nowhere to go, and Lydia wasn’t afraid of a little rain. Or a lot of rain. Which this was. It melted the cotton candy almost immediately upon contact, compressing the endless clouds into a churning blue and pink ocean of syrup. It was beautiful . The trees sunk away into sugary depths, and Lydia was left as a solitary monument on the saccharine landscape.

“Scaredy cat,” she derided gently to her now absent friend, and lifted her lens, utilizing the zoom so as to use it like a jerry-rigged pair of binoculars. Someone was coming in the distance. They were clothed just as darkly as she, features obscured by an unyielding hood. Even from this great distance, she could tell that they were impossibly tall and dangerously thin, beyond skeletal. They crossed the swirling sea easily in their thin gondola, traversing closer with measured, patience strokes.

“Are… you… crossing… over...?” A rattling voice echoed from the hood’s shadows as he approached. It was deep and slow, sickly, as though the figure was so very tired of doing this. From here, Lydia could see that there was only room enough for two in the boat.

“I don’t think so,” Lydia answered after a moment’s consideration, frowning thoughtfully. “Not yet.”

Nevertheless…” The ferryman continued, unfurling long, bony fingers in her direction expectantly, “payment… is… due…”

“Is this okay?” Without hesitation, she handed over her camera. “I’m not supposed to have it anyway.”

“It… is...” He began, recurling his fingers and passing the device into a hidden fold in his robe, “sufficient… Come… child…”

“Where are we going?” She grinned breathily, instantly taking the ferryman up on his offer of a ride. “The Neitherworld? ” She would be happy to visit the topsy turvy realm even in her dreams.

“Neither… above… nor… below… nor… between…” He rasped without the slightest change of inflection or pace. “Today… you… will… ride… the… passage… of… time … Today… you… go… to… the… past .”

The storm grew increasingly violent the longer they rowed on, Thick candied waters were bleeding red. The sky was positively black. Lydia wished very badly that she still had her camera. Waves of blood lapped at the edge of the boat, rocking it, wetting her clothes. Instead of turning wet-black colored, it brightened like wine splashing onto a white couch. Curiously, she dipped a finger into the vicious liquid for a taste. Nope. Definitely not cotton candy anymore . The ferry was whirling and spinning, caught up in a wraining whirpool. A black and white striped hydra emerged from the maelstrom, just as vicious and hungry as last she saw it. This time, without the burden of fear for others weighing her down, she was able to sit in true awe of its majesty.

“Betelgeuse,” she breathed, offering an arm his way for him to take if he wanted. She would much rather let him chauffer her than this cryptic, slow-talking puzzle of a man. Unfortunately, she leaned too far over the edge and quickly tumbled into the sea. For a long few moments, she was sure she would drown, until a familiarly patterned tentacle plunged through the crimson-tinted barrier to save her. When she breached the surface, she was dry, clothed in red, and the arm that saved her had been tainted by the blood as well, painting it off and dirty, more maroon than anything.


This had all happened before. More than once. Why were they doing this again? Mr. and Mrs. Maitland were screaming for her, but their words were incomprehensible, almost muffled. Her father remained silent, the way he always did when it really mattered , and Delia was whimpering, red-painted acryllics digging into her expensive, brand-name blouse. This was different than then , though. They weren’t supposed to make it this far. Something was supposed to happen here, wasn’t it? Someone was supposed to save her.

“Do you, Lydia Deetz, take this….man, to be your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, until death and beyond?“

“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, so confused, staring at the polished silver band already wrapped around her ring finger. “Something’s wrong…” Suddenly, as if searching for her salvation, honey eyes darted through the shadows, seeking out the sheen of a stray beam of light hitting sleek fur. “Where’s Percy? I want to talk to Percy.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

It was impressive the way this girl calmly sailed through his hypnagogic dreamscapes, unafraid, easygoing, as if she had been there before and liked it. She gives her camera away easily as collateral, and even attempts to take his arm as a hydra. He hadn’t intended that portion to be anything more than a relatively easy transition from her dream into his, but her mind took it and ran with it, and she floated atop like a happy little white boat on a churning brackish sea. He liked that he couldn’t scare her. Not really. Because what he eventually intended to do with her might indeed be very frightening to some.

As she bubbles up into the awareness of being in her wedding dress once more, she remains confused. She knows something is off and it reads in her face. As she awkwardly fumbles around her vows again, however, the ghost is vaguely irritated. Every part of her subconscious is still trying to fight him. Why? He didn’t exactly want to do this to her yet again, but he growls a rapid, “Percy? You don’t need ta talk ta Percy,” as his jade eyes scan the room rapidly for any hint of anyone else, but they find nothing. Instead, he clamps a wide hand over her mouth reluctantly and quickly, exasperatedly, imitates her voice for a second time.

“She’s just a little nervous, I’ll just read her vows for her. My name is Lydia Deetz and I’m of sound mind…you asked me and I’m answering…the man standing next to me is the one I want…yes I love that man of mine.”

At least it was true to what happened originally. The priest slowly turns to Betelgeuse, “Then by the authority vested in me….,” he says, slowly, voice still low and tremulous, Adam’s car would have hit his foot at this moment but it doesn’t, “I now….pronounce you….man and wife.”

There’s a pause where there should have been a sandworm, but there wasn’t, and the priest adds, “You may now kiss the bride.”

Beaming, having done this whole thing for a third time , Betelgeuse probably looks as though he would have in that moment had he not been sandworm food. Eyes wide, somewhat wild, he turns to a confused and bewildered Lydia and sweeps her immediately into a passionate, wanton kiss. It doesn’t really end there, either, the first kiss turns into a second, and a third, that anxious hunger of his building. She always tasted so good, even in dreams, and the ghoul had a very difficult time resisting keeping himself from her.

He lets her take a breath, sort of, after giving her those hungry kisses, in order to pull from the floor their matrimonial bed. Wedding bells still ring as the priest flickers out in a puff of flame and the mattress eases upwards in a foggy smoke. The bed is oversized and planted right next to the viewing public of her still-trapped parents, and the Maitlands. Oh yeah, they were going to absolutely see every minute of this, because that’s exactly what they’d always deserved. Plus, he knows, he may have planted this little funny voyeurism kink into Lydia’s head without meaning to, exactly. He carries his ‘new’ bride, still in a state of being absolutely baffled, to their newly made living room chamber and eases her onto the bed with him.

He looks into her utterly confused face expectantly and takes her hands in his, eyes glittering. “Alright babes. It’s time t’do what all married couples do and take this the whole way.” He councils her very seriously, it seems, “Normally, we’d get in a car, we’d drive off a couple miles t’like, say, a cabin someplace. But I think right here is just as good , and I’m a little too impatient to go anywhere if y’know what I mean.” The old sleaze is back in his voice, even though it’s a perfectly honest and true statement. “It’s been 600 years since the real thing, Lyds,” he leans in again for another kiss, his voice practically rattling with lust against her lips, “Give daddy a little sugar.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

His passion was so intense, Lydia had no option but to return his hunger; shyly, hesitantly, open eyes flickering back and forth between the captives and the dark pits of his shut tight jade orbs. She knew it was okay to kiss him. Why? She wasn’t sure, but she knew. Barbara’s muffled voice cried out, fat tears rolling down her flushed cheeks, but Lydia didn’t have the proper words to ease her distress. She could hardly ease her own torrent of confused feelings.

“Something’s wrong , Beej,” she insisted, going small and unheard as he hauled her off to their marriage bed. “This isn’t… that’s not what happened…”

Her dream-addled mind was trying so desperately to connect the dots. As much as she knew it was okay to let him touch her, she also knew that he could not be allowed to have his way. He was the bad guy. He made her do this. He was supposed to come back later, when she was older, and do this quietly. No muss, no fuss. This was too much, too fast.

“Give daddy a little sugar.”

She flinched away at the last moment, his mouth catching her jaw rather than her lips. This didn’t appear to deter him. If anything, he grew more assertive; growling fiercely, pushing her down into the plush mattress by her shoulders, filthy teeth following the column of her neck until they caught on red lace and could go no further.

“Wait,” she gasped as he bit down somewhere that she knew should have hurt more than it did. “Not here . Not in front of them . I can’t- I’m not ready- we’re not- this isn’t supposed to be happening-


Razor sharp talons tore right through the surprisingly flimsy tule, from neck to belly, unleashing her breasts to the air. When she moved her arms to cover them, he stopped her in her tracks, wrenching them tight above her head. He looked mad . Why was he mad at her? Even now, his wrath made her shrink, cringe, and bow to his whims.

“Please don’t be mad at me,” she begged, eyes misting, echoing the phrase she knew she’d uttered to him once before, but couldn’t remember when or the circumstances.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The chuckle that greets her last plea is dark, just like the pits around his eyes. “I think y’ are ready, buttercup. Look at ya, yer half of the way undressed,” he murmurs, almost into her neck after biting all the way down its length. He draws back if only to soak in her partial nudity after he clawed her straight out of her wedding gown, and his tongue pokes from between his lips playfully, lustily.

“This ain’t what really happened babes,” he agrees, looking around him vaguely, looming over her, her hands still held tightly down by one of his own, “No, in the real version I got eaten by a sandworm. Barb rode in like a deux-ex-machina and it gobbled me up. I never got to enjoy this properly,” a claw travels down between her soft, perky breasts and down her belly. “Can y’blame me for wanting to?” he queries, slowly, but intensely beginning to fondle her with a rough and exploratory hand. He chuckles again, the grin pulling at his lips a greedy, nasty little one. “But….oh I’m very mad. You don’t know what I’ve been through to get here. In fact, I’d say you owe me . And you’re being obstinate and methinks you doth protest too much.”

He pauses, releasing her just long enough to roll up a sleeve. In an instant afterward, he’s hauled her, half-naked, over his lap and drawn up the mounds of ridiculous tulle to expose her underwear-clad rear end to him. One hand grips into her luxurious hair fiercely to hold her in place – despite his ferocity, too, Lydia can feel his thumb caressing the strands underneath it tenderly.

“I think….you need a good lesson on how to be a good and giving wife, darlin’,” he says, far too cheerily, his hand arcing high into the air, “No matter where, or when, or why, you should always wanna give yourself to me, especially on our wedding night,” the hand lowers, his broad, calloused palm hitting her plush little cheek with a hearty, fleshy THWUAP! He’s so strong, and while she definitely ‘feels’ the impact, it holds with it none of the true sting or any resounding pain that it would as if she were awake. Instead, it’s interpreted as a hot, pleasant sort of pressure as if something were bumping her just hard enough. The sound rings true, however and it’s loud in the room. “In front of your parents,” THUWAP! “In front of the Maitlands,” THWUAP! “What I say goes.” THWUAP! THUWAP! “We have an understanding, little sugar tits?” THWUAP! His broad hand relentlessly keeps at it until he gets an answer from the poor girl.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

As soon as he said it, she remembered; a sudden thunderous crash, Barbara careening through the ceiling, him pushing her out of the way when he could have just as easily taken her with him. Oh, God . He had a right to be mad. They had a deal! How could she let that happen to him?! He deserved to take his pound of flesh from her any way he wanted.

“I’m sorry!” She shrieked as his hand collided against her backside. She knew he was strong. She knew that this was supposed to hurt. Therefore, in dreams, she reacted accordingly. Tears rolled down her face, plush snowy flesh darkened under his assault, and the area between her thighs- hidden beneath the bloody red lingerie he dressed her in- very quickly began to dampen. Very quickly. In fact, her thighs were dripping, moisture leaking from the tight confines of her panties, the gush almost reaching her knees.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry ,” she repeated over and over again, sobbing, fragile neck craned back in his brutal grip. When this didn’t seem to appease him, she changed tactics. “Yes!” She finally cried out, sounding for the all the world like a pornstar at the moment they were impaled on a fat cock. “Yes, Sir! I’m bad, I’m bad,” she mumbled deliriously without any of her previous sensuality, absolute in her conviction. “Whatever you want,” she promised tearfully, arching her backside into his abuse, “whenever you want it. You deserve it- Oh, I’m so sorry, Daddy…”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Satisfied by her last, Betelgeuse eventually stops sweeping his palm onto her backside after she arches it towards him for the last few rounds of punishment. Spanking was utterly pedestrian in the realm of things he’s done – and here, it was muted and fantasy based exclusively. All of this, in fact, was fabricated for Lydia’s enjoyment, though the ghost couldn’t say their tastes didn’t align. They did. In many ways, which was quite a pleasant surprise for the villainous ghost. In the days when he first met her, he worked through Dante’s Inferno like an old hat and if he can work through an entire ghostly, freaky whorehouse in a single night in order to actually say coherent words to Lydia the first time he saw her, well. This was practically cute .

It was also the only way he could give her the full Monte Carlo ghost treatment without actually harming her, and even though sensations are muted in dreams, the acts can go as far as her little brain would have it. And it’s having it. Consuming the content he’s pushing at a rapid pace, in would seem, as he finds his nice maroon tux dampened by her enthusiastic reaction. And she screams for him, begs so prettily, the noise making the Maitlands and the Deetzes both react with appalled and distraught noises. Their misery is his ultimate happiness, of course, and he growls at Lydia pleasantly, taking her up on her offering of whatever and whenever that he so easily demanded. “ Very good, m’little sex kitten. That’s what I like to hear…”

He gathers Lydia up into his lap, facing outwards from him, and quickly goes about disbanding the last of the poor wedding dress, ripping it off her like a fluffy tulle shroud and tossing it off the side of the bed. She’s left in that lacy red underwear and not much else and he moves them both to the opposite side of the mattress easily. From here, he gives his imaginary parental captors a disgustingly full view, and he settles on the edge of the bed with Lydia firmly in his lap. His clawed hand wraps around her tender throat, just enough to bare it to him and he nuzzles her, sweetly tender, inhaling her scent in an overt display.

“They’re crying for you,” he murmurs, his mossy lips pressing lightly against her ear, “They’re crying because they know I’m far too old for you, and worse, you’re gonna be fucked by a pervert dead guy . Tends to gross most people out, Lyds. But you’re the youngest, freshest thing to come my way, and they stopped me from gettin’ atcha once the first time I saw your pretty face, they ain’t gonna stop me again.”

His dirty, smutty clawed fingers drag down Lydia’s front, and he chuckles indulgently. His one hand holds her still by her neck, still, his pale and moss encrusted lips travelling slowly downwards to her shoulder in soft, firm kisses. His other hand finds one of her soft breasts, squeezing it in his palm, taking his time, now, to fully and completely tease her to a pitch. She can feel his hips rolling underneath her, moving her body with his, rocking hungrily and feverishly against her pert little bottom. His ministrations to her sweet, succulent youthful breasts are relieved if only to feel him rummaging behind her, and impatiently he appears to be easing his engorged cock out from his wedding clothes. The grip on her neck tightens, and she can feel his length spasm against her ass cheeks and back.

“I want ya to ask nicely, little girl,” he grits, nastily, “I know you’ve learned some good manners along the way, good job on that step-mom and dad. Tell me what you want , Lydia….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

She would have crumpled with shame were it not for his firm grip on her throat, calloused fingers squeezing just so. She felt so low, so awful, like the worst person in the world. Couldn’t she have tried harder to resist him, at least for the benefit of the audience?  To be so utterly exposed to the people she loved most in the world, the only people who cared about her- some more than others. Forced to beg for him, unable to control her bodily reactions. It was humiliating. Degrading.

Yet… she wanted more. She knew the right words, the right things to do to complete the fantasy. “I’m sorry,” she cried one last time, with shut eyes, unable to watch her watchers as she writhed her hips to match his. Whether she was speaking to them or her captor was unclear. Her knees were spread wide to accommodate him, bent and settled on the mattress while his feet planted firmly on the ground, giving purchase to his shallow thrusts. When she felt him free himself, she tilted her hips just right , arching her back so deeply that even though she was facing the opposite way, the sopping material of her crotch was able to brush his fat cock.

“Please fuck me, Daddy,” she pled sweetly, mewling freely in a way her waking form lacked the conviction to. Throwing her head back against his shoulder, she lost herself, spilling out all the filthy words, the deplorable thoughts she didn’t have the bravery to speak aloud anywhere but here. “It’s so big . I need it so bad . I waited for you for so long. I waited and waited and waited for you to come for me and you didn’t .” This confession was practically sobbed as she slid her arms back to wrap around his neck, displaying herself beautifully to her disgusted, brokenhearted onlookers. “I thought you were gone forever- or -or you didn’t want me anymore. But you do! You really, really do!” Her wet, flushed face broke out into an angelic smile, as though God himself were shining his light on her. “And you’re mine! Oh, please make me yours, please, please, please, I want to be your wife .”

She was rambling now, far gone in the illusory haze. He wanted her to ask nicely and she delivered- because she owed him and she wanted to. If he wanted her to stop asking, he would either have to gag her like the others, or give her what they both wanted.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

There was the edge, that precipice he had always intended for Lydia and he’s hauling her bodily across it unapologetically. He couldn’t have planned this better if this was their initial meeting when he was in snake form and she had wailed, “Take me, you scaly sonofabitch!”

It’s hard to resist something that’s been messing around in your brain, admittedly, going proverbially shopping.

As she arches towards him, his brain fills in what her damp panties must feel like. Though, considering how fiercely he’s grinding against her outside of that dream, it isn’t far off to reality. She begs, so prettily, in front of all their witnesses, and his face wrinkles in overtly sadistic pleasure. It isn’t real, but it is such a delicious, perfect fantasy. As her bravery he snarls, cackling with a surprised and sadistic sort of glee – it was so much better than he could have ever hoped. Her confessions seem to be grounded in some realm of reality, which is absolutely startling to some part of him. She had wanted him, long before this. Long before she called him back, perhaps. Everything she says is a shock after that, too, and it makes him helpless in an emotional tide. Her expression is so beautiful he can’t put words to it, and for a moment, she renders him entirely speechless. Even their onlookers seem to be stunned into a shocked silence.

So he does the only thing he can think to do, and that’s to sink his teeth into her neck viciously, giving her exactly what she begs him for. Clawed hands tear her sopping panties fully away, and he yanks her by her hips down, impaling her onto his leaking, achingly hard dick. Here, his imagination has to fill in – and it does. It’s a facsimile, of course, and the sensations are still those muted dreamlike ones, but it’s still sex, and it’s still real good . He’s precise and unforgiving, though she can probably feel that wild energy simmering beneath the surface, promising this and so much more once they enact this dance as the real thing. He thrusts into her with a hunger not easily abated, a hand moving up to claw its way to fist in her thick hair as she remains arched against him, hanging at his neck. His powers take on a life of their own while he’s intensely distracted, and the ball-gags eventually fall from the Maitland’s mouths.

“Stop!” Begs poor, poor Barbara Maitland, “She’s just a little girl!”

The ghost snarls into Lydia’s neck, spurred on by her plea, and his thrusts all the harder, until the wet slap of his hips against her ass ring throughout the room.

“Nah Barb,” he grunts, barely able to form a good retort, “That didn’t sound like a little girl t’me . Sounds like a woman who knows what she … …nnn, mmm, wants . Don’t ya, darlin’?” he pants, his free hand sliding down between the front of her thighs and gently plying her clit. “My wife …”

“This is disgusting, vile – you can’t make us watch this anymore—you’re hurting her,” chimes in Adam, his voice broken.

“Yeah and she likes it,” growls the ghost, leaning back just enough to get an even deeper angle. If this was even somewhat close to the real thing, he was going to go wild on her. In reality, though, he was most likely dry-humping her like a horny dog in her sleep. Pathetic. He was a cad, really. “I’m gonna breed her till I feel like stoppin’, and you’d be fuckin’ shocked at how much stamina bein’ dead gives you.”

Though, his abilities don’t match his threat all too well – even the ghost has his limits. And despite not having a refractory period of note, there’s only so long he can last like this, high on greed, high on his own power, fucking beautiful, beautiful and perfect Lydia as hard as he physically was able. He loved her. He loved her in a way that was dastardly, depraved, sick, maybe even, but tapping into her lizard brain had given him a window into her true, unbarred feelings and he liked it there. But like most good things, searingly hot sex dreams must come to an end.

Inside the coffin back in the Neitherworld, the real Betelgeuse had worked himself into a froth, one leg slung over Lydia’s hips, fiercely dry-humping her soft, bare ass as much as he could get away with without truly waking her. His slovenly gut was pressed firmly against her back, and he’d been at it for long enough that he’d soaked the front of his silk pajamas. With a lurid grunt muffled into the back of her neck, he climaxes, shaking against her with the ferocity of it, and so too, does he do so in the dream. It is this that wakes him, shaking him out of his half-slumber, pulling him back into the real world. Lydia moans beautifully in her sleep soon after, a noise that the awakened ghost seems to intensely appreciate, but he realizes that, pressed so fervently against her…she’s sort of overly warm, and sticky.

He also realizes, in that moment, what a mess he’s made of himself, and his pajamas, and the soft velvet beneath him. Disgusting . “Ah….fuck,” he mumbles, his voice an irritated whisper. In his perfectly addled state, he forgets entirely that he could simply poof himself into a different outfit, and instead carefully attempts to climb from the coffin as quietly as possible to get a clean change of pajamas.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia didn’t awake with a gasp, but with a series of low moans, slick thighs squeezing tight as she came down from her hallucinatory high. What a strange dream. She often dwelt on the night of her almost-wedding, but those dreams were almost always bred of guilt. They depicted Betelgeuse exacting his revenge in violent ways that generally ended with her gory demise. The wedding would never finish, and there was never any love. Just pain and sorrow and regret.

This was different. Yes, he was exacting revenge of a sort, but the emotions were all wrong- and so deliciously right. She tried very desperately to hold onto every detail of the wet dream, but they were already slipping away from her the further she drifted into consciousness. She couldn’t remember the things he said or the things she said, but she remembered the tone. The illusion was painted in a crimson light in her mind’s eye; hungry writhing limbs and growling, hissing taunts courtesy of her husband aimed at their captive audience.

What the fuck is wrong with me? Why would she imagine something like that? The scene depicted was closer to what Adam and Barbara probably thought would have happened than anything based in reality. Lydia was certain Betelgeuse respected her enough to not degrade her so completely… but did she want him to treat her like that? She shuddered at the very idea, but couldn’t deny the hedonistic appeal of the fantasy.

Having awoken fully at this point, Lydia quickly realized that she was lying in an unfamiliar bed in a foreign room. It was too dark to make out anything other than the ghastly pallor of her husband’s naked chest from the other side of the room. That was an exotic sight. Lydia had never seen so much of him at one time before.

“Beej?” She croaked, voice laced with dream dust, stopping him right as he was about to pull a long-sleeved pajama top over his head. “Wait,” she requested, beckoning with sluggish limbs, “come here.”

Once he was within touching distance, she reached for him, extending an arm from the confines of his coffin- it took her a moment to realize exactly what she was sleeping in- to curiously, gently rake her nails through the generous line of hair that ran from his chest, down his belly, and into his pants. As before, bits of moss and mold flaked off, but Lydia was nonplussed.  

“I had a weird dream,” she disclosed in an explanation for her waking state, tugging gently on his hand to indicate that she wanted him to climb on in and give her snuggles. “About our wedding night- the first one. This one wasn’t like the others though…”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Beej?” came the bewildered voice from the bed. Betelgeuse turns to peer over a shoulder, the room dark, right as he’s about to put on a secondary shirt. He is indeed illuminated by the half-light that Neitherworld nights possess shining through the strange and peculiarly angled gothic style window, his pale white skin tinted dusky blues and purples by the evening’s weird gloam. Lydia stops him from his endeavor to cover himself, surprisingly, and with a huskily murmured, “Sure,” at her request, he makes his way over to his bedside.

She reaches for him, and the sensation of her hand fearlessly pulling through his tangle of wispy blond chest hair and the trail that leads down his front that older men tend to sport sends a quiver throughout him. No living girl besides this one would probably consider any of his ghoulish, rotting features an asset. And here, he is out of his league yet again. When one’s entire state of being is based in malevolence, and further, being as unappealing and disgusting to the living as possible, it always comes at a surprise when the reaction isn’t either of those things. Bits of moss and mold flake off, and she doesn’t flinch away. She hasn’t yet, either, when they’ve fallen away from his face at her touch. The dead don’t mind these things, of course, but it isn’t with them that he prefers to mingle. There’s a reason he’s kept his clothes on as much as possible. One, to stop him from really behaving badly - it hasn’t actually stopped him from much of anything as it turns out- and two, because he truly wasn’t sure if she was ready for his full corpse-like visage. She’s seen the important parts anyway, right?

He swallows, possibly audibly, as she attempts to pull him back into the coffin. “Weird ah….weird dreams huh?” he mutters, distractedly, and climbs in next to her, shirtless, tucking himself back up against her as benignly as possible. A sudden thought makes its way into his brain, which is one: he’s never had a girl in his bed like this, all….cuddly and whatever…. and two, which slams home like a lightning bolt from her dream: she legitimately likes him. For real. This isn’t a marriage of inconvenience, and it never was. “Once, Lyds,” he says, somewhat interrupting her as that realization hits home, “I had a dream that I had sex with my grandmother. I was like, fifteen I think. It was totally fuckin’ traumatic,” he laughs, nervously, “It’s one of the only things I can remember about being alive, bangin’ that old lady. Isn’t that stupid?” he pauses, then, and asks perfectly innocently, “What did you dream about our wedding? The uh….the first one or the ….the second one?”

A third thought crosses his mind. She’s dreamed about the wedding before. And he doesn’t know how to feel about that either, but something is twisting in his chest and he doesn’t like it. Not one, tiny bit.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia was too sweet to mock him about his embarrassing admission like anyone else might, though it definitely gave her an in. Rarely did he talk about his living life and she wasn’t about to do anything to deter him from further sharing. Briefly, she attempted picturing him as a living man before giving up entirely. The stripes, the mold, the deathly pallor… they were all so intrinsically entwined with his image that trying to imagine him as anything else was nothing short of impossible. Contented by his embrace, she snuggled into his thickly muscled bicep, curled an arm atop his chest, and refrained from nudging her slippery thigh over his legs the way she wanted to. After all, the pants he wore were surprisingly clean.

“The first ones,” she corrected tiredly, yawning. “Multiple. They… they weren’t good . The night I called you back… that wasn’t the worst one, I guess, technically… but it was pretty bad. It hit me the hardest.” Obviously. It hit her hard enough to attempt suicide via inter-spectral marriage. “When the sandworm came, you took me with you.” This was imparted without an ounce of fear. Just solemn resignation, a defeated soul bowing down to her ultimate fate. After several beats of silence where neither of them spoke, her voice filled the air again, as wispish as before. “But when I woke up, I wasn’t afraid for me. I was afraid for you. I felt.. like- like I’d just committed a murder and gotten away with it. It was awful.” A knot formed in her throat, but her eyes remained dry. Lydia was too drained to display any extended depth of emotion. “I never wanted to feel that way ever again. I needed to know you were okay.”

In the wake of her torrid nocturnal phantoms and Betelgeuse’s own shameful confession, a tap of honesty had been opened in her. There was no reason to lie to him, not anymore.

“The one tonight was… good .” Blood flowed to her cheeks, inflaming them. He could probably feel the flesh burning against his bare chest. “I’ve never- ever- had a… a wet dream before. I’ve had nightmares about… what happened to me,” her voice quickened imperceptibly, hoping to gloss over the subject but still give the whole truth. “But that’s- that’s obviously different, I shouldn’t have even brought it up.” Frustrated, she burrowed further into him, hiding. “We finished the wedding, which never happens in any of my dreams… but then… and you have to promise not to make fun of me or use this against me ever, promise?” After receiving confirmation, she took a deep breath and continued. “Okay. Afterward, you… we… uhm… had-sex-in-front-of-Adam-and-Barbara-and-my-parents.”

The last was said in a breathless rush as she buried impossible closer, seeking protection both from him and against him.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghoul sort of makes her decision for her, a little, and cuddles her up close enough that if she did sling her leg over his thigh it would hardly have added or subtracted from the cleanliness of his pants. He might also be attempting to encourage it, but it’s hard to tell. He lived in practical squalor, and while she was always polite and fastidious, he was fully the exact opposite.

She was, in her entirety, pure to a fault – and the ghost is slowly coming to realize how much of this is simply who she is. He listens to her describe her nightmares involving him, and it actually sort of hurts. How does she always know the perfect place to tear at his heart?

“I never wanted to feel that way ever again. I needed to know you were okay.”

Ouch . Here, the ghost replies, because that was entirely a lot to unpack. And knowing what he knows now…he simply frowns above her head. He doesn’t deserve her. He knows that, now. Fully, completely, like a final sentence handed to him by a court. Shit .

“No, babes,” he mumbles into her hair, stroking the ends of it gently along her back, “That….y’couldn’t have done anythin’. Look, no one expects a….fuckin’….sandworm ridden by your adopted ghost mom. Least of all me! I mean, look, I tried to keep them from stoppin’ me anyway I could, the gags didn’t work, I sent Adam into the model but he drove into my foot….I zapped Barb into sandworm land, and she came back with one with my fuckin’ name on it. I mean, I ….I’m gonna be honest with ya babes, I pro….probably…. probably got what was comin’ to me for tryin’ to abscond with their teenage daughter.”

He pauses because admitting that was supremely difficult and he adds, “I wouldn’t take you with me. I wouldn’t’a done that to ya. I was …. I was angry. I still ….sorta am, but not with you, Lyds. Never with you, really. ‘Sides Sandworms are a living hell but I’ve taken ‘em on before. I hate ‘em, but if you stick yourself right in the back of their smelly, sticky gob and kick ‘em about partway down, they throw you back up. And then you …. You just sort of run, because nothing else seems to work—-while they tear your tux to shreds—and you wind up in the Waiting Room again after it eventually does catch you, and Juno’s given you a joke number, because your pain is funny to her. And then you meet a split-in-half girl who’s hot but who hits you fer bein’ curious and then a head-hunter shrinks your head into a tiny peanut but it makes your shoulders look awesomely huge—” His voice is a bit misty here as if remembering something wistfully. He comes back after a pause and adds, “Er, the point is I’m kinda hard to kill. Like a roach. I wanted to come back, baby, I did. But once the Waiting Room has ya, there’s….no comin’ out till you see a caseworker. Mine is Juno, same as the Maitlands. She thinks she has a sense of humor. She does not have a sense of humor. I was demoted to a Class 9 Malevolent Poltergeist down from a Class 6 Malevolent Spirit and sent to my crypt for most of eternity.”

He tucks his head as if looking down at the top of her head. “You …. saved me from that, actually, when y’called me back. And when I showed up I was an asshole because I was ….I was furious. I thought you were lyin’ when you said you wanted me there. But you weren’t. And you still had the ring,” he closes his eyes briefly. He drifts off talking momentarily, then, unable to let her in on the fact that he knows now. She’s always wanted him; even when she hesitated setting him free on the cathouse roof, even when he used her dying adoptive parents as a bargaining chip to get at her. Even as a horrible, perverted snake monster which almost killed her father. How could this be?

His answer comes in the form of the dream they had both shared, and he does her the favor of not pushing the what happened to her point whatsoever. It was very, very obviously different. His eyebrows raise though, at the adorable way she describes what he absolutely did to her in her dream, practically into his chest. The guilty thing in his stomach dissipates somewhat to be replaced by that evil, purring thing when he gets away with something. She liked that, did she? He chuckles, his laugh midway between something genuine and a snicker, because he can’t help it, and he squeezes her close. “Mmm,” he replies, breezily, “Sounds hot to me. Were they into it? I’m pretty sexy. Barb thinks I’m sexy. It’s weird, she’s married to Adam but when we first met? Man, she came onto me like woah, it was crazy. I think I have that…that…” he snaps his fingers, “…animal magnetism or somethin’.” He stops in his babbling to dip his head down at her again, his hips giving a little push against her and he grins, wickedly, his voice teasing, leading her on playfully, “I take it you liked the sex, though? Enough maybe to….not stop?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia had been of the opposite frame of mind for too long to accept his surrender without a fight.  "That’s not true,“ she insisted, fiddling with his chest hair. “You didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that. Besides, if I- if I hadn’t chickened out , or if I’d taken a minute to explain, make them stop…” She trailed off, letting the ‘what if’s’ go unspoken, eventually leaning up to brush a kiss across his cheek before settling back into place; eyes closed, the barest smile turning her lips. “But I’m glad you’re okay.”

At his bold-faced fabrication of Barbara’s initial impression of him, her face twisted into a cross between a scowl and a grin. “You liar,” she derided, poking his ribs firmly as punishment. “She did not . While we’re taking a vacation from reality, I bet Adam extended a permanent invitation to poker night too, right? God, you are so full of shit, it’s a wonder your eyes aren’t brown. ‘Were they into it?’- are you freaking kidding me? It was torture! I can’t believe I dreamed something like that!” Amused, she broke into a fit of nervous giggles.

Of course I liked it, dummy,” she admitted, leaning into his slight bump of the hips, but not quite returning it. “It was my dream. Though, it wasn’t exactly… uhm…” Consensual . “Let’s just say I needed some convincing, and you were… persuasive. Ugh .” Frustrated and embarrassed, but unwilling to hide the truth from him any longer, her thoughts came out unfiltered. “What’s wrong with me?” It was a rhetorical question, spoken with a smile and meant as a joke, but there was a layer of pain dragging it down. “I can’t just have normal sex dreams and normal crushes. No, every aspect of my life just has to be freakish, doesn’t it? Oh, well.” Sighing in resignation, she absent-mindedly scraped her nail across his purple-gray nipple, exploring the finer details of his nudity freely and without shame. “Normal is over-rated anyway.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

That was probably one of the most genuinely sweet things anyone’s ever said to him that he can ever remember. Stockholm Syndrome notwithstanding, he was genuinely not the villain in her story. And that was going to take some time to digest, for certain – the light brush of a kiss on his cheek made him smile in the dark. He lets that particular argument drop, but potentially she had wanted to say her vows. She may have started to say “No, let me explain—“ but he had cut her off at “No,” because letting her say anything beyond that seemed dangerous at best, he fully expected her rejection in that moment, not her support.

At her protest regarding Barb’s behavior, he nearly cackles at her, though. “She did, she so totally did. You can ask her. She planted a big wet one on me the second she saw me. I was like, woah lady, I don’t even know you. Nuts, right? Adam seemed pissed. I was just tryin’ to be a professional,” he grins in the dark at her laughter, though, taking her playful insults in happy stride, adding, “I dunno babes, I can believe you dreamt somethin’ like that. We’re both a little strange.”

At her further description, too, a small thrill runs through him. A sleazy sort of self-important smugness radiates from his voice. “I was persuasive huh? I can be pretty persuasive so I’ve heard. Your subconscious digs me talkin’ you into things, at any rate,” he makes a more throaty noise than intended as her fingernail drags over one of his nipples unexpectedly, and she can probably hear him smack at his dry lips. He shifts against her, entirely too focused on her touch suddenly, “I told you this being dead thing was too weird,” he grunts, a hand curving around her very bare bottom underneath that shirt of his as if trying to be stealthy. He gropes there a moment, and then gropes a little harder in ‘sudden realization’, “Oooh. Babes, I dunno about normal but you’re all…. sticky . The bone-ified BJ dream-treatment really musta turned your crank. I can help, yanno. I’ve heard I’m good at making— errr, cleaning a mess.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Her hand fisted gently in his chest hair when his own found her backside, squeezing insistently. Lydia was very quickly learning that this was his favorite place to grab her. At his suggestive offer to help “clean her mess” , she stiffened just so, the sore muscles between her legs simultaneously salivating at the prospect, and yet going rigid in protest. She wasn’t sure she could handle another attack like his last.

“I don’t know if-” she cut herself off, not wishing to deny him. “I mean, you can… If you want , but- but it hurt last time. I bled,” she confessed very quietly, so much so that he probably had to strain to hear it. “I don’t think I can take that again unless… unless you were soft with me.”

Her cheeks were so red, they were surely glowing through the shadows. As far as he had pushed her boundaries in their short courtship, she still was not accustomed to speaking so openly and honestly about such lewd topics. Nevertheless, he needed to know the truth of her injured state before moving forward. If that meant pushing through her shame, then that was what needed to be done. “I got all the time in the world for you, baby,” she remembered him growling in her ear, impaling her hard and slow on his hand. He was intense and hungry. He said he could be soft and patient, but Lydia wasn’t sure if this was just another lie. Whether the deceit was meant for her or himself was unclear.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“I can be soft,” comes the readily agreeable, greedy reply, “Yer such a horndog, Lyds.”

The last is said with horrific delight as if it were she that was the problem here and not Betelgeuse who hurt her and molested her in her sleep when they both knew the exact truth of the matter. Carefully, the ghost squirms within their tight confines just enough to start working his way with lusty, sloppy, slow kisses down the side of her face, her neck, and further. He makes gross and overly horny noises under his breath as he slowly unbuttons her shirt, interspersed with evil little snickers to himself. His little night-time occupations couldn’t have gone any better, and orchestrating yet another response from her sexually feeds his ego like nothing else. His worries about her sincere feelings for him are shoved happily aside in lieu of this .

His head dips between her breasts, his wild tangled hair tickling at her skin no doubt, and he takes his time around those, pressing them as petite as they were to his stubble and lathing his tongue across each one indulgently. Her body was perfect , every inch of it, and every time he thinks that’s enough it never, ever seems to be. Clawed hands rasp gently down her lithe sides to narrow hips as he eases his way slowly but insistently down her creamy skin. He eventually reaches her lower belly, nuzzling into the soft skin there, his shoulders working him between her thighs and spreading them for him. He laps at her inner thighs, cleaning the sticky, delicious remnants of her wet dreams from them.

For once, his mouth is warm , steamily, lustily warm, and it eventually meets the folds of her sore, abused and yet still excitedly damp flesh hungrily. This time, he is indeed gentle as promised, not even pursuing the temptation of pushing into her, his soft, somewhat chubby cheeks pressed happily between her smooth thighs. He doesn’t restrain her, either, letting her respond naturally this time around, curious as to what she’d do.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Each of his filthy noises- evil chuckles and hums of approval- was met with a soft gasp or a sharp, breathy moan depending on the sensitivity of the area lathed with his attention. His teeth dared to brush against snowier, unblemished sections, but they were sheathed when tending to bruised flesh. She melted beneath him, easily parting her legs for him when he came to shoulder them apart. Once his tongue met her folds, she tensed for just a moment, almost as if she expected him to go back on his word. Luckily, he did not. He remained as gentle as ever despite his restrained hunger. Rather than anchoring her down, his filthy talons dug into the lining of his coffin, threatening to rip it in his resolution to allow her freedom of movement.

Tiny feet came to rest on his shoulders for purchase. She spread her thighs wide for him, both to offer better access and show off just a little. Though she’d fallen off in recent years due to the lack of means available in Winter River, Lydia had spent much of her life training in the art of classical ballet. She both loved and hated the delicate, arduous style of dance for various reasons, but at the moment, she was grateful for the experience. It left her quite flexible . Had her knees not been obstructed by the edge of his coffin, she would have been able to keep easing them apart until they hit soft velvet.

Oh, he was so good at this.

He made out with her pussy slowly and passionately, like it was her first kiss all over again. Gently curved hips rocked in tandem against his mouth, setting an excruciating pace. When she wanted more, she arched into him and pressed down with her feet at the same time, giving added pressure to the sweet, slick friction. Fearless, undaunted hands tangled in his hair, but they didn’t pull or push. They massaged, scratching gently at his scalp, petting and wordlessly praising him for all the wonderful work he was doing.

The speed of her rocking inevitably quickened as that familiar burn crescendoed in the center of her being. “Oh!” She gasped after a particularly acute stroke of his talented tongue, the muscles in her legs straining and shaking. Still, her undulations were sensually smooth, pale arms releasing him to fly above her head and grasp the edge of his coffin for stability. She moved like a belly-dancer on her back, twisting her hips into his mouth with beautiful flowing undulations; up and down, side to side, circles, and masterful figure-eights.

Inevitably, she burst for him, making sure to half-muffle her cry of euphoria into the pillow beneath her head. It wouldn’t do to let Jacques and Ginger hear her screaming desperately from his room at ungodly hours. Their opinion of him would never improve.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Woah . Okay. He had no idea Lydia was that flexible. As her legs spread out for him, blossoming, she can probably see his expression between her legs and it’s …. Impressed and surprised to say the least. That’s going to make for some interesting, and fun experiences later on, of that he is quite certain. He is eagerly listening to her noises, responding to her body language intently – finding quickly which motion, which swipes of his tongue, what sort of pressure elicits the best and loudest moan. She tasted heavenly, and every part of her was so soft and alive. Nothing could match this.

And she was good to him, too, pushing and guiding with her sweet little feet, the sensation of which on his shoulders was delightful. Her hands felt good, too, pawing through the rotten mess of his tangled rat’s nest of hair. She twisted, then, and arched and he followed her dance gracefully, easily, his own snake-like undulations matching hers, still as surprised as ever. She was strong, and she was open to him. If he wanted to have her, then, he probably could have…but he remains as ever, tempered by her unspoken promises. Soon .

It isn’t long before he has her at her peak and she climaxes yet again for him, and he sees her through it with unusual grace and care, easing her hips back down onto the velvet of the coffin. “That’s my girl,” he mutters, his voice rough and heady. Part of him knows she had employed the pillow for politeness sake, but most of him greatly desired his roommates to hear her. He never brought his women back home out of some remnant of propriety, or perhaps hastiness on his part, but this was much, much different – it might even scare the roommates off a bit, which would be pleasant to see.

He sighs pleasantly and settles his large, unkempt head onto one of her thighs. “You didn’t tell me you could do that kinda crazy bendy thing,” he half-way mumbles into her hip. “Yer always surprising me, Lyds.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I can do the Chinese splits, too,” she boasted, breathless and limp while he used her thigh as a pillow. She adjusted accordingly, slipping her knee from the wooden edge to rest on soft velvet. “… and put both my legs behind my head.” Lydia didn’t brag often, or ever. It seemed Betelgeuse had done a fair job of boosting her sad little ego with his continuous, glowing praise.

That was nice. Calm, loving, and gentle, sweeter than any of the other things he had done to her. Not that she didn’t enjoy those experiences too, but this was different. Lydia often overheard girls her age lamenting how their boyfriends never wanted to do what Betelgeuse had now done to her twice in one day- each time vastly different from the other; an attack, and then an apology. For several long minutes, they laid there, silent and motionless, aside from Lydia’s breathing. Then, she sat up on her elbow to shuck his unbuttoned shirt from beneath her over the edge before collapsing back into the cushions, entirely nude. The time for modesty- another overrated concept, Lydia decided- had passed.

“You’re really… really good at that,” she gifted him with some praise of her own, yawning, idly stroking his wild mass of hair like he was a lazy cat who had taken up residence in her lap. The urge to thank him for bestowing yet another orgasm plucked at her but she ultimately determined that saying such a thing would only cheapen it. Instead, she offered her services in return.

“Are you… okay? I mean, do you… do you want me to take care of you? I’m pretty sleepy, but I’m not… not that tired.” The drowsy way she husked her proposition- yawning, rubbing her eyes- belied the lie in that statement.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Satan in glory, girl,” the ghost mutters at her braggadocio, licking at his lips. He croaks out, “Ya tryin’ to kill me again, or what? I am gonna have to see you do that….at some point, though.”

And then they fell quiet, and his thoughts swirled and had some time to process things. Sort of. It was still a sort of panicked jumble in his head in many ways. Now he had something to lose. He’s never had anything to lose before. Nothing, zilch, nada. It clawed at his chest and made him shift against Lydia’s thigh uncomfortably.

He’s distracted from this, though, as he notices his shirt flying over the edge of the bed. He looks up, only to see her breasts towering over him briefly like the sweetest fruit before she flops onto her back. She was fully nude. In his bed. And she had just described how flexible she was exactly. “Oh come on— “ he moans, in a half-whisper to himself. He grits his teeth and immediately rummages around his pajama pants for a cigarette as she compliments his abilities, feverish for something to keep his shaking hands occupied as her slim hand delves into his hair. He cuddles closer to her against his better judgment at her touch. She was so warm. So…. available .

“I’ve only gotten five-star reviews so far babes. But it’s always good to know the ole Beetle-deetle magic still works,” he breathes, almost wheezing. He finally gets the fucker lit between trembling fingers and takes a sharp, deep inhale that nearly consumes half of the long stick, huffing out a hot breath of thick smoke. He passes the rest of the cigarette upwards to her, and his eyes close slowly as she makes her return offer, as if he’d been stabbed with a dagger and is now slowly dying.

He was going to have to turn down a blow-job from his gorgeous wife that was so, so, so good at blow-jobs. He could cry. He might. He might cry, actually. This is a god damn tragedy.

“No,” he practically chokes through his teeth, “No babes you…… need to r-r…rest. I’ll be just….just fine. This was just for you. Just…….just for you babes. Besides, I have to….” He licked his dry lips, shuddering against her briefly as he struggled through this, “….g…go back to work probably. I’ll stay here till ya fall asleep, and then I’ll make my way back to the….to the Patels….there’s water…on the bedside table…..Jacque and Ginger will be around when you….wake up….”

Someone needed to give him a god damn award for self-control. Two. Fifty. Maybe make him King of Self Control and shower him with tits and money. God. Fuuuuuucking. Daaaaammit.


Chapter Text


True to his word, Betelgeuse didn’t leave her until she descended back into dreams unencumbered by mischievous visitors. When she awoke, there was a light filtering through the curtains that was just a bit too orange to originate from any sun. Almost immediately, disorientation faded away and she remembered where she was and why she was there; naked, cold, and needing to pee. With quick, impatient movements, she ambled out of his coffin, donned his bathrobe, and tried a door. She really was not looking forward to using his filthy bathroom, but the call of nature must be heeded. To her astonishment, she found the previously disgusting room clean. The tiles sparkled so clearly she could see her reflection, not a speck of dirt or grime to be found on pristine porcelain. There was a sticky note attached to the mirror written in a barely legible chicken scratch that could only be Betelgeuse’s script.

Sexy Bendy Little Sugartits–

When u wake up the spider & bonehead will probs make u food. Don’t eat from worm bucket in fridge that’s mine. I fixed bathroom for u. Soap in shower probably not the best but I don’t remember what that’s like. Hang around for as long as u want/can. Check dresser 4 good surprise. See u later. XOXO

Instead of signing it with his name or initials, her husband had drawn a little cartoon beetle with heart eyes. It was clutching its chest, swooning, overcome with emotion. Lydia swooned a little herself and tucked the sticky note away somewhere she wouldn’t forget it. She would have to keep it for the photo album she intended to dedicate to him. The soap he referred to didn’t come in plastic bottles, but glass mason jars. It looked homemade, like a bored housewife’s DIY project. Briefly, Lydia wondered if he stole it from the Patels, or the live people haunting their house, before dismissing the thought. It was a sweet gesture and she wasn’t about to dissect it.

The “surprise” the note alluded to almost made her cry. He got her a camera . An expensive, digital, top of the line piece of equipment. It wasn’t her beloved polaroid, but something else entirely. This was professional grade, still in the box, as though he walked into a store and bought it just that morning. It took everything in her to resist tearing it open and playing with it right that second. She had plenty of time, and there other things that deserved her attention. Now that the bathroom was properly cleaned, Lydia could see that he had a jacuzzi tub, like the kind in Delia and her father’s master bath. With this discovery, she indulged. She drew a bath, garnishing the water with some oil from one of the jars that smelled like cupcakes. Around the porcelain perimeter were several short-stemmed candles stolen from his room. He had a ton of them. Why? Lydia was sure she would find out one day.

The brown sugar scrub smelled delightful and she lathered it generously across her skin. She spent the entire morning in his tub; lazing, indulging, floating on a cloud of pleasant emotions. She felt so loved . So cared for. She never wanted to leave, not if this was what their life together would look like. Alas, it was a beautiful fantasy. Eventually, she was able to drag herself from the steaming waters and redress in another one of his shirts- the maroon silk top she’d stopped him from wearing the previous night. Like the other, it drowned her. Unable to resist the urge anymore, she tore into her new camera, settling down at his desk to play and tinker until she was confident she understood how it worked. Then, she grew a backbone enough to emerge from the room. Ginger was found in the kitchen, four of her eight arms hard at work, each holding a different utensil and performing a different task.

“Do you need any help?” The spider, well invested in her cooking, jumped in fright at the sound, spilling a pot of something slimy, green, and moaning all over the counter. “Oh!” Lydia jumped to action, grabbing a towel to help sop up the mess. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Honey, don’t worry about it. This is nothin’. Ya hungry? BeeJay said ya might be. There’s some leftover cookies ovuh there,” she gestured across the room with a free arm, shooing Lydia away so she could take care of the rest of the mess on her own. Reluctantly, Lydia acquiesced, settling down on a bar seat and carefully picking at one of the gingersnap cookies. Given time, their hot temperament had cooled some, and they didn’t attempt nipping at her fingers like the previous night. “Is that all Beteljerk gave you to wear?” Ginger inquired to Lydia, a mild scowl turning her fuchsia lips. “JACQUES!” She yelled out suddenly without giving Lydia time to respond. “COME WATCH THE STOVE FUH A MINUTE, I NEED TO MAKE MISS LYDIA SOME NICE-UH CLOTHES!”


“Oui, oui, mon amour,” Jacques answered obediently, sweeping through the entryway to take over for Ginger. “Good morning, Miss Lydia! We are so pleased to be having you here. Did you sleep well?”

“Like a dream,” Lydia replied smilingly, amused by their antics. “You really don’t have to bother, Ginger. I don’t mind wearing his shirt. It’s comfy.”

“Well,” Ginger frowned, unconvinced, and ushered Lydia from the room, “I mind. Besides, I have just the thing fuh you! S'been awhile since I’ve had a model as cute as you ta work with.”

The girl blushed, deeply flattered, and silenced all further protest, allowing herself to be pulled through a door that read Ginger in bright pink glitter, like the kind that could be seen backstage at a show belonging to a diva. Everything in her room was pink; dark pink, light pink, fuchsia, magenta, coral, rose, peach, and salmon.

“Wow,” Lydia commented politely with large eyes, working very hard to hide her distaste. Claire Brewster would love it in here.

“Let’s see,” Ginger took a moment to look her up and down, “what’re ya, four foot ten? Four eleven?”

“Nine,” the girl confessed smallishly, blush deepening.

“Precious,” the spider smiled, oblivious to Lydia’s embarrassment at her size, and proceeded to flurry around her, rapidly taking her measurements. “Perfect. Okay, now sit tight fuh just a minute while I work my magic.” She gathered a bundle of black fabric from her dresser, then red, and went to work. She moved with supernatural fluidity, weaving the fabric together with talented inhuman limbs. “Try this,” she ordered, tossing a pile of black to Lydia before beginning work on the red fabric now. The girl slipped behind the old-fashioned changing screen and worked herself into the gifted garment. It was a bodysuit. It encased her from neck to wrist to ankle, an expertly concealed zipper running down the front. The fabric was warm, but not overly so, and quite breathable, and hugged her like a second skin.

“Thank you,” Lydia breathed in wonder as she stepped out from behind the screen, unable to stop running her hands across the soft fabric.

“Don’t thank me yet,” Ginger smirked, satisfied with her work, and handed the girl another bunch of textile. This one was red, silken, and boasted a delicate spiderweb pattern. “Now, you can thank me.” It was a hooded poncho, so light and airy Lydia could hardly feel it over the bodysuit. The ends draped down to the ground both in back and front, completely hiding her figure from view, though glimpses of her silhouette could be glanced from the sides. “Lovely, absolutely lovely. I’ve outdone myself. Now, come come, lemme do somethin’ with all that hair o’ yours.”

Lydia, now completely confident in the spider’s abilities, was content to let herself be used as a dress-up doll and obediently sat before the spider’s vanity. Distantly, she realized that Ginger didn’t have a reflection, but was too mesmerized watching her hair move by itself in the mirror to question it. The Maitlands and Betelgeuse didn’t have a reflection, so this told her Ginger was definitely a dead person. Why, then, was she a spider? Why did they even have mirrors down here if they didn’t work? Within minutes, Ginger had worked most of her hair into an intricate updo held in place by a rich violet ribbon.

“There. Perfect.”


It wasn’t too long, after spending a very happy little afternoon (or, sort of however long it was ) with Ginger and Jacques, that the doorbell rang. “I wondah who that could be,” remarked Ginger, hopping off the couch and tapping over to the door with her many legs. She peeped out of the peep-hole, which was sort of a weirdly shaped telescope in actuality, and paused.

“Oh,” she finally said, a dour tone to her voice, “It’s jus’ Donny.”

The skeleton standing beside Lydia huffed. “What does ‘heeee want?” he asked, suspiciously, “He nevar shows up ‘ere withzout Beetel-jooce.”


The doorbell rang again, and sighing, Ginger finally opened the door with a groan. “Yea yea, we hear ya.”

Donny stood in the doorway, his candy-striped style soda jerk uniform neatly pressed, sparkling clean. His blond hair was tidily slicked, as usual, and he looked practically glowing, his countenance as pleasant and peaceful as ever, a smile settled on his pale face.

“What do you want, Donny?” Ginger asked, a suspicious edge to her voice, “Ya know ya don’t usually come heah without ya brotha.”

“Oh! Well, miss Ginger,” the ghost happily, cheerily replies, a breezy but eager element to his voice, “It’s lovely t’see you too. I’m here for miss Lydia, actually.” He gestured vaguely past the door.

At that, the spider startled, and Donny’s eyes raised up in a predatory flash to take in Lydia’s figure past her. A vague expression played on his otherwise happy features, and his gaze hung just a little too long. Especially with that outfit she’s wearing.

“Why?” Ginger demanded, still ensuring the ghost did not cross the threshold of the door. “Bee-jay didn’t say anythin’ about you takin’ her anywhere.”

Donny seemed prepared for this resistance. “Oh,” he said, his voice so very apologetic, “But I have this here note from him, miss Ginger. See?” he handed the letter over to the spider, who reluctantly agreed it was indeed Betelgeuse’s terrible scrawl.

Reluctantly, she turned to Lydia, and Jacque, her face not concealing her worry. “Well, ah…it looks like Donny is heah to uhm….pick ya up, Lydia. You don’t have to go with him—“

“Oooh, uh, I’d hate to spread any little ole white lies there, Ginger, sweetheart,” Donny interrupted, quickly, “She does have to come with me, I’m the only one who can get miss Lydia past the breach, an’ back home to her own sweet lil house. I’d hate to let my brother down, apparently it’s….a…. school night?” He continues to sound oh so apologetic, so genuine, innocently questioning, so concerned. And clearly, a little too eager.

Jacque clenched one of his skeletal fists, but he eventually turned to Lydia with a resigned appearance on his skeletal features. “Well Madame Lydia, it iz true Gingher nor I have ze ability to get you back to your own home. And since it iz indeed a school-night, and Donny has Beeetel-joooce’s blessing, I zink….we must part ways here, and we must entrust you to his care. We will miss you, darling mon cher.”


Donny was the last person in the world Lydia wanted chauffeuring her around. It was almost worth insisting on staying, missing school to not have to force herself to trudge down the walkway and fasten herself into his bright yellow beetle. But, she would rather the police not get involved with her sudden disappearance. Running away was a dramatic enough move as it was. So with a straight spine and a strong chin, Lydia powered through her unease to show Donny a modicum of proper decorum.

“Thank you for taking me home,” she imparted politely, aiming her camera out the open window.

“Well don’t you even dare think about even mentionin’ it, lil’ darlin’ baby sis.” His fingers twitched on the steering wheel as though he wanted very badly to reach over and touch her- pinch her cheek, bop her nose- but were under strict orders not to . “Anythin’ for family.” Lydia had absolutely nothing nice to say to this, and so didn’t speak at all. Small talk was not her forte, but silence didn’t seem to deter Donny. “Ya gotta tell me how ya met? I bet it was oh so romantic.”

“Oh,” Lydia panicked internally and invested herself in toying with the lighting settings. “Well, that’s… kind of a complicated question. The first time I saw him, he… was trying to scare us out. My family, from our house- the Maitland’s house, I mean, the ghosts that summoned him for the job. He made himself look like a giant snake. Dropped my father from the top of the stairs. The first time we ever spoke, he told me he wanted out, I told him I wanted in, and then we played charades.” Saying it out loud, it was all rather romantic, wasn’t it? In a twisted sort of way. “The rest is kind of a long story…” It wasn’t that long, but it was deeply personal and Lydia didn’t feel like sharing.

A spark of interest lit up Donny’s pale blue eyes. “Evah try ta bite the big one?”

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Talk about deeply personal things she didn’t feel like sharing. “Yes,” Lydia told the truth, unable to lie to her brother-in-law.

“Y'knoooowwww,” he drawled conspiratorially, leaning too far over the center console. Lydia shrank away. “Big brothah tied himself a twine necktie all cause of some pretty lil’ lass turned down takin’ his last name. Swore he’d nevah love again.”

Lydia’s heart broke first for her husband, and then for herself. Would he ever love her? She couldn’t ask him to, knowing what she knew now. Nevertheless, as long as he kept his fidelity to her, he would have hers in return.


“And so y’can see, it’s quite a shock that he came ‘round with you, ‘lil sis. Glad he got to ya before you completed your attempt successfully,” continued Donny, oblivious to Lydia’s discomfort, or perhaps… enjoying it. In fact, the worse Lydia seems to look, the more glowing and agitated the ghost next to her becomes. Donny suddenly lights a cigarette in the same sweeping motion as Betelgeuse would have. His are a rich black, and very long in his slim fingers. “Now, me? I was shot. Right through the heart. Y’can’t see it, it’s underneath m’tidy little shirt here. Big brothah says I deserved it though,” he chuckles, an easy, happy noise, “Once we found each other, we used t’scare together, see. The Geuse Brothahs, theyda called us, back then. Freelancin’ the bio-exorcism business. Ah, that is, before things went a lil’ hinkey, an’ he ….. well, ha, that’s another story for another time, I’m thinkin’. Don’t wanna give y’the heebie jeebies on our first family bondin’ time now do I?” he smiles, wide, guiding the bright happy car through the odd, curving Neitherworld roads.

Those fingers keep twitching. They want to touch Lydia. The ghost can practically feel her tender, living warmth, and one hand starts to glide towards her threateningly. At the last minute, instead, he whips out a list from nothingness and clutches it. Unlike Beetlejuice, his hands are carefully manicured, no mold or discoloration to be seen, and no gaudy rings.

“Now, let’s see,” he drawls, cheerily, “Bee-jay gave me this here handy n’ dandy lil’ helpful list!” The list, which he passes to Lydia reads as the following:

1. Take Lydia back home in 1 piece and ALIVE.

2. Keep ur filthy mitts 2 ur fucking self u psychopath.

3. If I hear u touched her with those dirty hands I will bury u in the blackest exorcism closet I can find I’m serious

4. No funny stuff

5. There’s something in it for u 2, that shit I know u like u gross fucko

On the back is a scrawled map of directions to the drop-off point. There’s also a beetle, with angry eyes and multiple knives in his hands. Then there’s a heart. Betelgeuse loves his brother.

“Now, ahm thinkin’ that first one is easy enough. The second and third don’t really apply ‘cause,” he holds up one of his pristine hands, “As you can clearly see, my hands are neither filthy nor dirty. So he ain’t got nothin’ to worry ‘bout. Fourth one is a little vague, ain’t clear if I’m not supposed to tell ya jokes or whatnot, but I won’t take ya to any circuses on the way home. Fifth one….that’s for lil’ ole me to know. I have very particular tastes,” the last comes out in a very slow, very insinuating drawl, followed by a low chuckle.

His finger drifts towards her on a slow hand, invading her space. It’s only to touch her camera though, tilting it, stealing glances off the road to eye it.

“You a photographer, lil darlin?” he queries, curiously, as if quite suddenly interested. “That’s a real nice camera. I bet you take the purtiest photographs….would you mind helpin’ your big brother Donny with a teeny tiny teensy errand ‘fore he takes ya home? Promise it won’t take but a minute….”

The way he says it, he isn’t really asking at all.


The note Betelgeuse wrote for Donny offered Lydia little reassurance. That her husband felt the need to warn him more than once not to touch her spoke more to the danger Donny presented than to Betelgeuse’s possessive nature. As confident as Lydia was that he wouldn’t let any harm befall her, the fact of the matter was that he wasn’t there and Donny was. If only Bubby was around to growl and snarl until that smarmy, pleasant smile was wiped from his creepy face.

“Not professional or anything,” she answered, sinking deeper into her seat, clutching at her camera possessively as though he might take it away from her. “It’s just a hobby…” That was a severe understatement, but it was closer to the truth than anything else Lydia was willing to disclose. “Sure. I can help,” she conceded to his request, well aware that he was not about to accept the ‘no’ she desperately wanted to give as an answer. “What do you want me to do?”

“Absolutely nothin’. See, I got this friend I need to have a lil’ talk with ‘bout his behavior- been causin’ trouble for anothah friend o’ mine. All ya gotta do is sit your purty lil’ self down at the bar n’ wait for me ta be done. Think ya can do that for me, sugah?”

“Okay,” Lydia surrendered bravely, not feeling one bit of the excitement she once felt at the prospect of seeing a Neitherworldian bar. It was much different going there with Donny than with Betelgeuse. Her husband had plausible deniability on his side, whereas contrarily Lydia was certain that almost everything that came out of Donny’s mouth was a filthy, sugar-coated lie. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Beeeeaaauuutiful,” Donny drawled, grin widening as he sharply turned into a parking lot. Like a proper gentleman, her brother-in-law opened the car door for her and ushered her inside, keeping his hands to himself the entire time. The Inferno, as it turned out, wasn’t just a bar, but was, in fact, a strip club. Lydia was shocked Donny even knew of this place’s existence. He was so prim that the idea of him getting a lap dance was as laughable as it was disturbing. “Now you just sit riigght here,” he directed her to an easily visible seat at the center of the bar, “n’ I’ll be back ‘fore ya even knew I was gone.” Breaking Betelgeuse’s stern instructions for the first time, he left her with a patronizing pat on top of the head before disappearing into the crowd.

“What can I get'cha, honey?” A strikingly beautiful, scantily clad she-devil asked from behind the bar. There were horns sprouting out from the top of her coiled red hair.

“Oh, uhm,” Lydia faltered, “I don’t have any money. I wasn’t really expecting to be here today. May I please have some water?”


Indeed, Donny looked like a strange ghost among ghosts. Here, he didn’t fit in whatsoever – his almost pristine glowing countenance in contradiction with everything around him like a man who was yanked out of time. It only clicks a little better once he summons an aluminum bat into his hand before disappearing into the crowd and into one of the back rooms.

The music thumped around Lydia as she sat down. The bar was relatively crowded with male and gender-less seeming spirits who eagerly jeered and hungered for the dancers who were currently at their work, all dark-eyed devil girls in appearance. This was as close to a real world strip club as it probably got it the Neitherworld. Dirty neon signs plastered the club, either advertising themselves or a specific sort of liquor. Everything here was vaguely dirty, overly used, and old. The devil girl behind the bar, a Dante’s girl though Lydia had never seen one, gives pause at that. Her sweet brows rumple as she takes Lydia in completely, and she finishes cleaning the smutty glass she has in her clawed hand, putting it down slowly.

“You didn’t come in with him, did you, sweet thing?—hang on.” she gestures to the path Donny took off in, her voice trying not to betray the concern she clearly felt but she’s distracted by another customer quickly, and passes Lydia water without being able to get her reply right away. Instead, a voice suddenly slithers out from behind poor Lydia’s shoulder, thick with some sort of east coast wise-guy accent. High pitched, too, with a weird sort of lisp.

“You look a lil’ lossst, honey dumplin’,” the voice makes itself known with a weird off-kilter giggle as its owner slides into the barstool next to her. A clown. A clown that may have always genetically been a clown, of some sort - it’s hard to tell but the makeup he wears looks more like it’s part of his face. He isn’t tall, exactly, and his hair is almost as wild as Betelgeuse’s, except its distinctly tangled in a curly way and a pinkish off-white hue. He wears a silly patterned shirt and suspenders, but everything about him is faded and gritty. Blackened soot marks extend all the way up his neck and over part of his face, and clothes as if something gun-powdery had long ago exploded there. By his appearance it can be conjectured how he died – shot from a cannon incorrectly.

“I ain’t ever seen you in heah beh-fore.” Like Betelgeuse, his teeth are a stained green and yellow, his eyes dark, and his face a clownish white. “What’s a pretty lil young thing like you doin’ in a gah-bage heap like dis…?” he suddenly honks a clown horn, loud as anything and startling, to get the devil girl’s attention behind the bar. His voice goes from syrupy and curious to a commanding growl in an instant, “Yo Candy, get me another onna them cotton candy surprises, and step on it!”

A gloved hand slithers directly onto Lydia’s knee, giving it a puerile squeeze. It suddenly jumps off her skin though, once he feels her natural warmth. “Oh…” He murmurs, clownish eyes going wide as saucers, and the smile on his face splitting horrifically wide, “You’re one o’ them breather girls— how’d somethin’ so pretty and so young git so far down here….? I can teach yeh how we juggle in the afterlife, sweet’eart….”

The Dante’s girl behind the bar whirls around at the sound of that clown horn to see an even worse situation than the one Lydia came in with. It brings her right back into that little situation - Lydia isn’t dead, and she just came in with Donny Geuse, and now this. The entire concept of this is absolutely horrific, and she watches the scene carefully as she mixes up the requested drink, alternating looking out through the crowd. Suddenly, as if called by some sort of silent force, a number of Dante’s girls from around the bar suddenly make their way in a flock back towards the bar. They walk on cloven hooves, their tails swishing behind them.

The clown’s drink is delivered, and suddenly, one of the shorter, curvier Dante’s devils yells from behind them a loud, clear, “Hey Scuzzo! Catch!”

He’s immediately distracted from Lydia and whirls rapidly, suddenly seeming to catch something. Good reflexes. It’s a Dante girl’s head, and he holds it with a high-pitched laugh. The disembodied head winks a sexy eye at Scuzzo from his lap. “Wanna take that cotton candy drink n’ go play seven minutes in heaven clown boy? On the house?” Scuzzo, the aforementioned named clown, hops off the bar stool and carries the head along with him cradled in his arm. He replies as he moves away, thoroughly distracted, “Trixie, you know I don’t do a damn thing in seven minutes except magic tricks –“ there’s a tinkle of laughter in reply, “Scuz, you’re about to make somethin’ disappear.” And they both laugh loudly, disappearing into the crowd.

The body of the devil girl is guided along by two of the others, being rendered quite blind, over to Lydia and the rest of the pack. “Trixie takes one for the team again,” the bartender says, her voice tired and dry, but thankful. “Thanks Trix. Sorry girly,” she says to Lydia, “I shoulda had a handle on that sooner. You doin’ okay?”

The disembodied Dante’s girl leans on the bar next to Lydia where she feels grounded, and four others circle around her with curious interest. Her hands raise and they suddenly sign something rapidly in ASL. The other girls laugh, “Timed it, huh?” one of them asks her. The devil girl’s hands flash signs again. Didn’t even make it to seven.


“No, don’t worry about it, you were busy,” Lydia refused the redheaded she-devil’s apology, not wanting to look weak in front of these Amazonians. They were the most beautiful woman Lydia had ever seen in her life; tall, voluptuous, oozing of sex. She felt plain and ordinary next to them. “I could have handled him on my own… but thank you.” Despite her bravado, she was deeply grateful for the interference.

“Honey,” the she-devil smirked, leaning far across the counter in a way that made her large breasts jut out, “the word busy isn’t in my vocabulary. I got an eye on everybody in this bar at all times. Sweet thing like you sticks out like a sore thumb in this dump. Us girls gotta look out for each other.”

“Speakin’ of-” a blonde, curly-haired she-devil chimed in, pushing her way through the gaggle of strippers Lydia suddenly found herself flocked by, “I saw you come in here with Donny freakin’ Geuse at the end of my last dance. You’re not…? With him…?” The horned beauty crossed two of her talons, already dark eyes darkening further suggestively.

“Oh, God no,” Lydia rejected, ready to vomit up the lovely brunch Jacques and Ginger made for her at the very idea of it. “No, no, no, no, no. No. He’s my brother-in-law.” She might as well have told them she was the resurrected Messiah, come to offer them all salvation from their afterlives of sin.

“You are not-”

“He did not-”

“Well, it would explain where he’s been. I was startin’ ta wonder if he took that last session a lil’ personal or somethin’-”

“Ain’t no way, ain’t no how. I don’t believe it. Pics or it didn’t happen-”

“Look! She’s got the ring!”

Suddenly, they were circling even further, one of them grabbing her petite hand up to showcase the plain silver band as though it were something significant; a holy grail instead of just a stupid cup. It was very apparent to Lydia that not only did all of these gorgeous women know her husband, they knew her husband. In the biblical sense. She was going to be sick. “You… all… ?” She was able to choke out, feeling a rush of emotions she knew she didn’t have any right to feel. It was one thing to be aware of her husband’s extensive experience. It was another thing entirely to have its large breasts staring you in the face, serving you drinks.

It was before her. She knew that. Still, she also knew that she could never, ever compare. What the fuck did Betelgeuse see in her?


“Well, yeah,” breathes one of the girls as they all look at Lydia in sudden surprise. Something dawns on all of them at approximately a similar time, one of them holding her hand still, as if it were a tender sort of treasure.

“You mean….you…. haven’t?”

There’s a heavy pause between all of them, and they stare at her with an even greater and more intense shock than before, and then look at each other with incredulity.

Lydia’s other hand, resting in her lap, twists into her poncho. “We’ve done other things,” she mutters in a sort of half-whispered self-defense, her cheeks on fire. How dare they?

One of them stutters, and another quickly tries to explain. “No, no, doll, it ain’t that. It’s just….the man has a….”

“….uncontrollable….,” adds another, trying to help.

“….massive, uhm, unbridled… ,” adds a third, awkwardly.

“….singularly focused….” helpfully chimes in another.

“Intensive sexual appetite,” finishes the bartender, bluntly, “he comes through like a force of nature and leaves nothin’ but scorched earth in his wake. Now all you stupid skanks back off.”

They do, easing away from clustering around Lydia, looking properly shamed. One of them, with a sweet and shy breathy voice murmurs, “It’s just, we’ve never known any girl to be able to hold onto that buckin’ bronco and keep him tame like that, but if there was one girl who could, I expect it’d be you, miss. He must be real content… .how do ya do it?”

Another girl looks at her studiously, “Are you a witch?”

“If you ladies are good she might teach you her tricks,” the bartender cuts in, winking at poor Lydia. “She’s a higher quality than any of you and you know it. What’s your name anyway, honey?” asks the bartender, her voice much more commanding and strong than most of the others. “I’m Candy, that’s Melodie, this is Hazel, that’s Zaza, and these two fine ones are the twins, Sugar n’ Spice.”

As if on cue, the twins both cheerily add in tandem, “And everything nice!” to a chorus of groans. “Sorry,” one of them apologizes, “Habit.”

The headless one points to herself, and holds up a middle finger at the bartender after slapping the wood of the bar-top to get her attention. Candy rolls her eyes, “And that’s Trixie, the funny one. When’s your head comin’ back doll? He’s been banging that thing for a half hour.” Trixie shrugs her headless shoulders, and taps her wrist helplessly where there is no watch to be found.

“Anyway, us girls gotta stick together, we’re just excited for you,” the breathy, sultry, shy one says, apparently that’s Zaza. “You’re the most beautiful thing to show up on our side ‘a town in ….well. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?” the girls all nod, looking at Lydia with a sort of sad reverence. “How’d it all happen, sug?”


“Lydia,” she introduced herself, playing with her hair demurely, made shy by all of their bold flattery. These women had no reason to lie to her. When Betelgeuse called her beautiful, it was easy to write it off as him just trying to get into her pants. That’s not to say it wasn’t genuine, but there was a definite layer of mistrust there that did not exist here. “I’m not a witch, but I have dabbled in Wicca- nothing that intense though. Are you all… succubi? Or something like that?”

Candy’s grin grew fierce and she trailed a crimson claw very gently across Lydia’s pink cheek- non-threateningly, as if in awe of her. “Somethin’ like that.”

“I’m really not- I mean, I don’t know how…” Lydia trailed off, suddenly finding her water very interesting. “I don’t have any tricks. I’ve never really been with anyone before Beej. Not really.”

There was a collective gasp of shock. The she-devils were so floored by her near-virgin status they didn’t even stop to comment on the adorable nickname the girl had given the poltergeist- something he never allowed them to do. Candy suddenly stood up straight, a gleam of determination in her eyes. “LOU!” She screeched, grabbing the attention of a portly bartender taking care of patrons too impatient to wait for Candy’s attention. “I’M TAKIN’ TEN! THE BAR’S YOURS!” With that, she hopped right over said bar to both literally and proverbially take the young kitten under her wing. “You’re comin’ with us, doll. You’re obviously in need of some serious girl time.”

“But,” Lydia objected weakly as she was swept away past a velvet curtain, flanked on either side by two to three Amazons, “Donny told me to wait for him-”

“Pfft,” Trixie derided, having regathered her head in the midst of the commotion, “Donny Geuse can kiss my glorious ass. Don’t worry, hon. We can handle him. Ya can’t let those Geuse brothers boss ya around, ya know. Especially Betel. If ya ask me, he’s a big bully and could use a spanking.”

Unseen by Lydia, Candy shot Trixie a disapproving look, knowing exactly what she was doing by planting rebellious thoughts like that in the girl’s head, and gifted her “glorious ass” with a stealthy, punishing smack. Trixie, ever the troublemaker, winked conspiratorially, licking her upper lip suggestively with a purple forked tongue. Soon, they ushered Lydia into a lush changing room filled with rows upon rows of skimpy outfits; lace and leather, glitter and feathers, spandex and latex. Anything one could possibly need to fulfill any type of erotic fantasy was in this room. There were toys, costumes, props, and was that… a nun’s habit? Everything she saw only made that constant blush deepen.

Aside from all of this, there were several cushy love seats generously adorned with large, fluffy pillows. As amorously decorated as the room was, Lydia got the feeling that men were not allowed here. A monster of a bouncer stood outside the door, ready to destroy any unwanted visitors. The slight fearful thrill she got from disobeying Donny’s wishes was tempered by this. Candy took the seat next to her on the loveseat, like mother goose with her favorite chick, while all the rest of them gathered on the ground before her like children at story time.

“Now,” Candy began, playing idly with Lydia’s exotically dark hair. Not one of them had black hair. They were all various shades of red, blonde, and brown. Some even had visible roots as though they dyed their hair, which in and of itself was fascinating to Lydia. “We want details. We wanna know how you met, the proposal, and definitely about the wedding.”

Lydia laughed, a short jerky sound, and accepted the cigarette Zaza had to offer. “Which one?”


The girls’ reactions to Lydia’s stories are enthusiastic to say the least, chiming in at certain parts here and there with shock, surprise or enjoyment. It’s quite a wild ride, and Lydia spills everything because the devil girls are fascinated and ask her sweetly – what they’ve done, what they haven’t. It’s probably the most interesting thing to happen to them in millennia, actually, and they are having far too much fun gossiping with her.

Sugar and Spice have already begun playing with Lydia’s silken locks in fascination, and Zaza is leaned against one of her knees, plucking at a rose and looking dreamy. “It’s so romantic,” she swoons, from the floor, her cloven hoof-tips pressed against each other. It’s as if she’s always known them, and they her, and Candy engages Lydia in a new game once her stories are finished.

“Let’s play Blackmail: Betelgeuse Edition!” she suggests, evilly, just as mischievous as the rotten ghost that visits them, “She’s gonna need dirt on him, ladies.” The group titters, because it’s true. “I’ll go first, because Zaza,” she announces with confidence, “you don’t know how romantic he can be!” she says this, jokingly, and a few of them laugh because they know this story far, far, too well. “Once, sugar,” she addresses Lydia, “The man must have watched Romeo n’ Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio or somethin’. Wanted Romeo and Juliet. The works. Period costumes, we had the whole balcony scene goin’, I was Juliet ‘o course. And he did it. He read the fuckin’ lines,” she’s already laughing, “He got as far as ‘O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?’ which was way further than I ever expected him to get before he climbed over the balcony and hauled me off like king kong. I think we said that line and made gorilla noises for three months straight!”

At this point, the girls are howling, wiping tears from their eyes. Sugar has almost smothered her poor face into Lydia’s shoulder laughing and Spice is sprawled backwards, kicking her cloven hooves. It’s unusual to see ladies so beautiful let their hair down in such a way, but Lydia has apparently thoroughly charmed them all.


Lydia couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed so hard. These women had stories. In return for their gossip, she offered up classified information of her own, disclosing intimate secrets of her relationship that she never thought she would find herself saying aloud to anyone other than maybe Betelgeuse. They knew just how to seduce her into a girlish, talkative state. Candy had fetched her a glass- or two- of a deep, dark wine. It tasted of berries, made her cheeks warm and her tongue loose. Bits and pieces of her hair had been twined into tiny intricate braids by Sugar and Spice, the vast majority left down for them to rake their claws through. Idly, Lydia toyed with Zaza’s perfect golden curls, boinging them as the she-devil melted against her knee, purring.

“I don’t want to give her back,” Zaza confessed in a hush to no one in particular, though her face was tilted toward their leader. Lydia was too thoroughly lulled to feel the chill of trepidation she should have.

“Not this one,” Candy surrendered bittersweetly, admitting defeat even as she gazed fawned over the girl covetously. “She’s not for us… but there is something we can do. Hazel, do you still have the…?” She pantomimed “horns,” holding two bent digits up to her own sharp prongs.

“Uh huh!” The bottom-heavy brunette agreed readily, flying away to rummage messily through a dresser drawer. When she returned, she passed something off to Sugar. Together with Spice, the twins worked to pull back her hair just so as to tie a thick, black ribbon around at the nape of her neck. Curiously, she pawed at the top of her head, only to find a pair of miniature horns all her own. With a pleasant gasp, she turned toward one of the many mirrors that lined the wall- who they were there for, Lydia wasn’t sure as hers was the only reflection present. They were red and short, as opposed to the longer flesh toned ones the women sported. Appreciating her image in a rare show of vanity, she decided they suited her quite well. Especially with the poncho.

“There we go,” Trixie threw an arm around her shoulders to press her cheek in close, lifted the camera around Lydia’s neck, and then grinned cheekily, taking a selfie of the two of them. Lydia was charmed enough to manage a sweet, blushing smile. “Now you’re one of us! An honorary Dante’s Girl! You wear that to any seedy den o’ sin in the Neitherworld and you’ll have eyes lookin’ out for you, girly. It helps that they’re awfully fashionable.”

With this, she proceeded to take a series of increasingly silly selfies, until the other she-devils became agitated with her greediness. Fork it over, you camera hog!


They even got a picture with Scrubs, the bouncer at the door. He loves those girls to pieces and guards them like a dragon, he was very pleased it seems that the girls had made a friend – even if she was a breather. He probably had a multitude of questions, but never asked them. After making a pretty overt overture to Lydia once fully back in the dressing room with the door closed, Zaza was distracted from her perusal of the girl – there was a noise outside.

A distinct thud. The door opened, and into the frame stepped Donny, tidy hair disheveled, sheened with sweat, his clothes splattered with….something. He taps the aluminum bat on the door itself, the end of it dripping in….some sort of gunk. He looks just as fierce and evil as his brother in that moment, his blue eyes flicking upwards from where they eyed the formerly awake bouncer to take in the cadre of girls and Lydia among them. Seeing her, his countenance immediately returns to bright and easy, “There y’are sweet darlin’, I thought….” he breathes in relief, “I thought somethin’ happened to ya—I was lookin’ and lookin….”.

In contrast, the girls are instantly thrown into a hellacious froth, and their true nature is shot to the surface. Where there once were beautiful women, there are now seething hellcats, their fangs extended, hissing and spitting like furious felines. Their claws have grown to nasty lengths, their horns protrude more threateningly. Candy, the mother hen, unfurls a large pair of bat-like wings tipped with spines and moves in front of Lydia, snarling at the Geuse brother in the door.

The look he gives them is ice cold, but a tinge of worry settles on his features. “Ah have to take her home,” he says, firmly, but he’s clearly outnumbered here by these beautiful monsters and surprised by their ferocity and it’s thrown him off his game. He hesitates in the door. Coward.

“She’s not going anywhere with you, Donny Geuse,” Candy insists, forked tongue and tail lashing. Her voice is a hiss, “We know what you want to do to her.”

It is Lydia that steps in and saves the day. Or, well, herself in this instance. Ever the peacemaker, she assures the girls of her safety and steps over to Donny, who seems genuinely relieved. Buckling into his beetle a few moments later after she says her goodbyes and extracts herself, he breathes out slowly.

“Excitin’ times huh?” he asks her merrily, driving away from the bar and magically straightening his everything back to pristine. It’s like they hadn’t even been there at all. “Cute horns, though I’ve gotta admit, sweet lil sis, I’m awful glad y’don’t have the attitude that comes ‘long with ‘em,” he loosens his bow-tie. “I think they were plannin’ on evisceratin’ your poor brothah. Speakin’ of evisceratin’, it’s prob’ly best that y’don’t go on and tell Bee-jay ‘bout our lil’ expedition, hm?”

It isn’t long before he delivers her to the door that supposedly leads her directly back home. “I suppose this you, heah, darlin’ sis. Don’t be a stranger, y’hear? You ever need anythin’, anythin’ at all, you just say m’name three times like y’do with Bee-jay. I can’t come over to the other side, but I’ll hear ya, be able to speak to ya. It’ll get my notice.”

Like she would ever want to.

Chapter Text

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When Lydia stepped through the door to the living realm, she found herself in her bedroom just like last time, entering through the doorway where her closet should have been. The moon was high in the sky, both of her parents sleeping deeply, heavily sedated. Fortunately, she was able to get a couple good hours of sleep in before waking at the crack of dawn, readying herself for school, and departing from the house without ever having to see them. They were sure to have words for her, but Lydia honestly couldn’t care to hear them. The school day passed by quickly. As promised, Lydia wore the marks of her husband’s affection proudly, daring her teachers or classmates to speak up, say something. They remained expectedly silent. Maybe if Claire or Stacy were still enrolled at Miss Shannon’s, they would have found a way to spin this around on her, mock her, maybe imply that she was “easy.” That would be rich coming from them, and a refreshing change from their usual implications that she was revolting boy-repellent. In time, new bullies were sure to crop up in the wake of Claire and Stacy’s absences. It was the natural order of things. For now, Lydia was in the clear.

Delia was a nervous wreck when she came home. Charles wasn’t in sight, but if Lydia had to guess, she knew where he was; wasting away in his study, doing his best to destroy his liver. The despised redhead blubbered incoherently on the phone with someone- the police, Lydia gathered quickly, stringing together bits and pieces of what Delia was saying. Something about how “they were a bunch of incompetent pigs, her daughter had been kidnapped, and how dare they sit on their asses doing nothing just because she hadn’t been gone for more than twenty-four hours.” The girl found it all overly dramatic and tiresome and wished very badly that she could float through walls like the Maitlands. Then, she wouldn’t have to subject herself what happened next.

Upon sighting her- in school uniform, walking through the door with a bored expression on her face- Delia shrieked and dropped the phone right to the floor without bothering to give the person on the other end an explanation. “Charles!” She sobbed brokenly, pulling Lydia into a crushing hug that the girl hated every second of. “She’s okay! Lydia’s home!” Meanwhile, the corners of Lydia’s mouth twitched with distaste as she endured the embrace. They missed her so much, did they? They were certainly worried enough to self-medicate until they were in such a heavy stupor that the front door slamming shut that morning hadn’t even woken them. Coming at the sound of Delia’s call, her father stumbled down the stairs. He looked like hell. It was clear he hadn’t shaved in several days, he reeked of liquor and was still wearing his pajamas. Instead of worrying about his wellbeing like she ordinarily might have, Lydia only felt a slight pang of guilt that was quickly overshadowed by disgust. She went missing, and freaking Delia was the one on the phone with the police raising hell, fighting for her while her father chose instead to abscond from reality?

Fuck them both.

“Where were you?!” Charles slurred once he was done sobbing drunkenly over his apathetic daughter. “You- you went to school? We were so worried!”

Lydia remained unconvinced. “I was with my lover,” she announced boldly, remorselessly, sticking to her resolution to never refer to Betelgeuse as a “boyfriend” ever again. Chin tilting up rebelliously so as to better show off her numerous hickeys, she clutched at the shiny new camera hanging around her neck. “He bought me a present. It’s mine and you can’t take this one away.”

The tears on both Deetzes faces very quickly dried in the face of such impudence. What the Hell was going on here? Who was this insolent brat that had replaced their passive, well-behaved daughter? Born and bred New Yorkers weren’t about to take sass like that standing still. They yelled. And yelled, and yelled, growing increasingly red-faced even as Lydia continued to remain aloof and terse with her answers.

“You are forbidden from seeing this boy ever again!”

“Try and stop me.”

“You thought two weeks was bad? Try two months! Two YEARS!”

Yawn. “Sure thing, Delia.”

“If you don’t watch yourself, you’re going to end up just like your mother!”

The house went quiet. Charles’ face drained of all color, well aware of the terrible mistake he had just made, while Lydia’s bored countenance froze. Her eyes narrowed, upper lip curling in vehemence. “Don’t you dare talk about my mother.” Molten eyes flickered back and forth between her sorry excuses for parents before she stood from the couch they’d cornered her into, somehow looking down on both of them despite the height disadvantage. “This conversation is over. I’ll be cooking my own dinner tonight. As far as I care, you can both starve.”  

With that, Lydia stormed from the room and up the stairs, furiously blinking back tears of rage. How dare he? What right did he have? Filled with all kinds of nasty emotions, Lydia lost herself in uploading the photos from her camera to her laptop, so much so that she didn’t even notice when her husband’s devilishly handsome visage made an appearance in her vanity’s mirror.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse watches his sweet, tasty wife do “computer things” for a span of about seven minutes, leaning behind the reflective glass. He was busy imagining what response he might receive from her once he entered – the few hours she had spent in the Neitherworld were, to his mind’s eye, probably fairly refreshing. He had, after all, left her with some of the best people he could conjure – minus Donny, but he had given Donny explicit instructions.

Eventually, his impatience won out and he pushed through the mirror’s surface, running a filthy hand through gnarled, wild hair. “Baaaabes,” he called to her, suggestively, halfway out of the looking glass with no idea of the chaos he’d caused, “I’m hooOOooome.”

He was returned right to the mood in which he had left her, horny, intimate feeling, having made her cum by being gentle with her poor misused body. He had made things perfect for her when he left, in a manner that would almost denote him as thoughtful. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her: most of those bath things came from forcing the Patels to rob their living counterparts of theirs, and as it turns out, Mrs. Patel makes a mean custom soap. Well, not literally mean. Quite nice as it turns out, but he wouldn’t really know the difference. The wrinkled smile on his face reveals his grimy teeth, he at least, is overly happy to see her and he makes his way over to where she sits, his hands already pawing at her without any kind of permission, trying to get into her hair and under her shirt just to feel her living warmth and her soft skin.

“Didja have fun in the Neitherworld, sugartits?” he practically breathes down her neck, “I missed you.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Not now, Beej,” Lydia rejected gently, shrinking away from his touch. “I’m not in the mood.” Despite her dour countenance, she found it in herself to gift him with a tiny, half-hearted smile over her shoulder- there and then gone. “I missed you, too.”

Just as she said this, the vast plethora of photos she took during her stay in the Neitherworld- sans husband- finished uploading to her laptop. There must have been hundreds. The SD card was massive, could hold several movies worth of footage if she wanted to use it that way.

“Thank you for the camera,” she acknowledged passively, without any of the beaming excitement that was felt when she first spotted it on his dresser. “It really pissed off my parents. Oh yeah, I’m forbidden from seeing you by the way.” Her dry, emotionless tone was granted a slight reprieve in the form of a nasty smirk. She was sure he’d find that hilarious.

“I had fun. Jacques and Ginger are really nice and you should treat them better. Your brother is a fucking creep and I never want to be left alone with him again.”

It appeared Lydia was fed up with propriety at the moment. Everything she had to say dripped with bitter sarcasm.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Not in the mood huh?” replies the ghoul, leaning down to lick her earlobe disgustingly with a slimy tongue. He doesn’t stop what he’s doing, despite her shrinking away, refusing to accept her admittedly mild rejection. That sounds like a challenge. He can be pretty slick when he wants. And she missed him, right?

He chuckles low over her shoulder as she acknowledges the mischief he caused with her parents. “Ole Chuck didn’t like the idea of you gettin’ your own equipment, huh?” he guesses incorrectly, and then suddenly clutches his jacket front, as if having some sort of heart attack. “I’m forbidden?” He gasps, “Lyds, say it ain’t so!”

He gets down on his knees, next to her, eyeing her from down there lustfully for a moment before asking, “What’ll we do? We could always elope! Oh, wait… .” He laughs, “….hang on, I’m just gonna choke and die on the floor for a few minutes here. I don’t think I’ve ever been forbidden from jack shit in my entire afterlife Lyds. What’d they say? You can’t see that dirty boy punkin’, he might be doin’ stuff to you. Like fucking you. And I, Charles Deetz, haven’t gotten my dick wet in over ten years. We’re converting the house to a nunnery. I bought you a habit,” he imitates her father’s voice as if it were really him and then falls into gales of laughter as he collapses slowly to the floor.

At the mention of his brother though, he looks up from where he’d eventually wound up sprawled near her feet, and grunts suspiciously. “Yea I know he is. He’s not so bad once you get to know ‘em. He’s the only one I know of that can get near the breach like I can. Otherwise, I wouln’ta asked him.” He attempts to climb into Lydia’s lap like an over-large gropey cat, then, squeezing and touching her in places, just to be a complete and utter nuisance. “What’dya take pictures of? Anythin’ good?” he tries poking at her computer uselessly, blocking her arms, “Did you take any nudes?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Stop it!” She snapped, shirking his arms away and standing from the bed entirely, taking the laptop with her. “I’m sorry,” she apologized tersely, not feeling at all sorry, and settled down in front of her vanity with the laptop. “I’ve just had a shitty day and like I already told you, I’m not in the mood.” She made sure to dim the screen’s brightness and dip the top just enough to hinder his view of the images as she scrolled down, assessing her work.

“I mostly just got the roadhouse, Jacques and Ginger, some of Donny, and…” She trailed off, contemplating whether or not she should go on. Donny didn’t want her to tell Betelgeuse about their little side trip. Why? She wasn’t sure, but she could handle Beej being pissed at her. Donny? No thank you. “Nothing much, really,” she lied in a way that she hoped was convincing, shoulders hunching slightly. “That’s all.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Oof! She drops him like dead weight as she slides out from under him, taking her laptop with her. Fuckin’ teenagers! He looks surprised, to say the least, left bemused on the top of her comforter. She was serious!

She didn’t even laugh at his jokes, and now she’s spurning his attention? That behavior won’t do. He works himself up into a crouch on her bed, letting her click through her photos momentarily. “Hmmm, nothin’ that tells me who or what pissed in your cereal,” the ghost growls, lighting a cigarette, “So I think yer lyin’ to me, Lydia Geuse.”

She suddenly finds her laptop whisked out from under her hands, floated into the air by the ghost, far out of her reach. He makes motions on his lap as if clicking and moving a mouse, the motions reflected on the screen high above him. “Now I gotta see how this thing really works—-nudes? Nah that’s not a nude. I don’t know what that is. I dunno how to work this thing. Liable to break it, maybe,” he says, casually, “Mmm, nnhhh….nawh that’s somethin’ else….oh here we go.” He ‘clicks’ his imaginary mouse eagerly, “Oooh, yep there’s the Roadhouse….there’s the stupid spider….th—-wait, you’re in a different outfit in these. Where the hell did you find that?”

Did someone buy this for her? His lips go tight and she can see his expression change from casual mischief to disgruntled annoyance. He likes that outfit. What the hell went on while he was gone? He clicks, and clicks, and keeps clicking. They’re taking a trip in Donny’s car. They’re going somewhere. Somewhere along the way he catches a picture she took of a look his brother slides her, and he snarls audibly. “Fuckin’ dick for brains….” He mutters. Click, click, click—-that’s not the breach. That’s…..

…..the infamous den of sin that the girls work on the side, the Inferno Bar.

He almost drops the laptop completely from its perch, but catches it with a “Woah!” click. Click.

That’s Scuzzo.

Those are Dante’s girls.

A LOT of Dante’s girls. There’s Candy, and Trixie, and Zaza he thinks—-

That was enough. The ghost sputters. He spits. He is enraged, but mostly because she kept this from him. Sneaky little viper…!

“H….how did this …..when did ya—- Donny brought y’here?! I gave that asshole explicit. Fuckin’. Instructions. Lydia, are those Dante’s girls!? Did you—-do anything with them!?” He points at her, accusingly, “Explain yerself, girl. And the clown—-did he fuckin’ say anything to you? Did he touch you—“

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Give it back! Stop it, you’re going to drop it! Ugh!” It was taking a lot of concentration to temper her tone, keep her parents from overhearing the commotion. He floated just out of her reach, but close enough so that it looked like she might be able to reach him if she could just jump a little bit higher. “You’re such a jerk!”

It didn’t take him very long at all to figure out how to scroll through the photos. This is where Lydia gave up, sitting back down on the stool to her vanity and pouting, arms crossed over her chest.

“What do you mean explain myself,” she bit back, glaring. “I didn’t do anything. You’re the one who left your creepy brother in charge. He’s the one that decided he absolutely had to get a lap dance before taking me home. If you’re that curious about what happened, why don’t you just go ask him, Romeo?” Again, the side of her mouth twitched into a nasty smirk. It wasn’t often Lydia could get a leg up on him. At the moment, she was beyond grateful for the ammo her newest friends had given her. “But don’t tell him I told you,” she still dared to request snarkily, scowling. “He told me not to. Creep.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

He finds a picture of his pretty, innocent, perfectly corruptible Lydia in devil’s horns next, clicking by accident to the next round of photos in his pique of anger.

WHAT are THOSE?!” He seems immediately less concerned with Donny wanting a lap-dance than this picture, though it does fit his profile that he’d dump Lydia in a bar while he got his rocks off. Sick dipshit. Romeo. Did she just say Romeo?!

“Sto—-knock it off—-you are asking for it lil’ girl.” He has so many people to kill that he’s getting a raging hard-on just thinking about it. Well, and maybe also because he’s lustily flipping through the photos of her with the girls. Anger and lust were two intertwined emotions for him, and this was like a perfect storm. “Any scenarios involvin’ Romeo and Juliet that these lyin’ whores told you are pure and utter fabrications, a gross misrepresentation of my character, and furthermore, disgusting.“

How dare she stroll into his seedy world so nonchalantly? So flippantly?!   Oh, she was in. Trouble.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Ha. His adamant denial regarding Candy’s story only told her that every single word of it was true. She may have been “asking for it”, but he was full of shit and Lydia wasn’t about to back down when she knew she had him caught in a lie.

“I prefer Macbeth, myself,” she teased gratuitously, rubbing it in. Meanwhile, she dug through a drawer in her vanity very casually. “ Romeo & Juliet is a bit… juvenile for my tastes. I like romance just as much as the next girl, but suicide pacts are just a little too sappy in my book.” The insult was clear in her insinuations. He was the real romantic sap here. Not her, the inexperienced teenage girl. “Two of the fairest stars in all the Heavens having some business do entreat her eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return,” she quoted, tone sultry as she tied the horns in place around her head. “What if her eyes were there? They in her head. The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars as daylight doth a lamp. Her eyes in heaven would through the airy regions stream so bright…”

With a put-upon sigh, she turned from her mirror and granted him a victorious, sinister smile. “That birds would sing... and think it were not night.” It appeared Lydia was quite the little actress when she wanted to be. If only she could apply those skills to her genuine attempts at ingenuity. “I think I’ll keep doing whatever the fuck I want, thank you very much. Trixie said that you’re a big bully and not to let you boss me around… right before they made me an honorary Dante’s Girl.” Here, she beamed, for some reason quite proud of her status as a living, breathing whore.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Speechless. For the entirety of her little dialogue from preferring Macbeth, and her insults to Romeo & Juliet – he was juvenile, was he?! – she has rendered him speechless, and the little jab about suicide pacts injures him deeper than he’s about to let on. Ow. But beyond that, she’s quoting the scene he couldn’t finish effortlessly, and his eyes are like blazing fire as he watches her dig through her vanity. Fuck.

Those goddamn hellcats. Those she-beasts. Hellions! Those monstrous little enabler encouragers! He wasn’t about to be put in his place by a sixteen-year-old girl who’d just had her first real sexual awakening! He doesn’t quite realize what she’s up to at first until she turns, wearing the aforementioned horns. And, still quoting Shakespeare, she informs him she’ll keep doing exactly what she likes and— Trixie said so, huh. The look on his face is imperceptible as she turns around and informs him of her intentions, but as she throws him that sinister little grin, his own splits into a slow…


…smile of his own.

“Honorary…..Dante’s girl, is that right….” He practically purrs, in that gravelly baritone, eyes going from wide to dark in a blink. One emotion has won out of the two that were warring, and he prowls over to her and the vanity in an instant, faster than he had any right to be able to move. The laptop drops to the bed with a soft thump, snapping closed, and Lydia rapidly finds the ghoul pressed up against her, pinning her bodily to the vanity. His rough hand closes around her delicate neck just enough to threaten, able to enclose most of it in its span. He growls into her ear, “Little girl, do you know what I do to Dante’s girls?”

It’s a rhetorical question, which he answers with, “It ain’t Romeo n’ Juliet, and by the time I’m through, y’ain’t gonna be speakin’ Shakespeare.” He gives her a little aggressive shake, for emphasis. “In fact, I think I should show you exactly what happened to that fuckin’ dumb slut Trixie th’ last time she crossed me.” His hips have pushed against hers, and she can probably feel his intentions clearly.

Gripping Lydia by her neat and tidy little schoolgirl outfit, he bodily hauls her up and away, cigarette dangling from his lips. He carries her physically back over to her bed, switching his hands around deftly in order to fist one of them nastily in her pretty straight hair. He’s not being nice about it, either, before where he had only squeezed and tugged he is now pulling, forcing her by her hair into a position over his lap. “C’mere,” he directs her aloud, demanding she adjust herself appropriately, “You wanna be my whore, huh? You’re gonna learn exactly what that’s like, Honorary Dante’s Girl.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

She managed to swallow the gasp his rapid movements inspired, gripping the edge of her vanity so tightly her already porcelain knuckles turned a ghastly, bloodless white. I ain’t afraid of no ghost, she reminded herself with stubborn determination, and jutted her chin up, maintaining a strong front. Despite her brave facade, her heart pounded. Her breaths were coming quicker. When he shook her, her adamantine guard shattered just a bit. The frightened child within made a split-second appearance in the form of wide eyes and an almost inaudible whimper.

“She’s not a dumb slut,” Lydia defended her friend fiercely, unfazed by the warning his insult garnished. She matched his ire bit for bit, legitimately infuriated by the way he spoke about these women- as though they were objects meant purely for his sexual pleasure, not people with feelings and emotions. “She’s funny! And smart! And-”

Apparently, Betelgeuse wasn’t interested in hearing about Trixie’s numerous good qualities. Cutting off her impassioned defense, he manhandled her over to the bed, ignoring the way she squirmed and voiced her dissent. “Stop it- Beej, you’re being too rough, I mean it!”

“C'mere,” he ordered, unconcerned, pulling her hair in a way that made her scalp burn in protest. Still, her insides churned pleasantly, and she reluctantly moved into the humiliating position he wanted her in; bent over his lap, back arched, the side of her face mashed into the blankets. “You wanna be my whore , huh? You’re gonna learn exactly what that’s like, Honorary Dante’s Girl .”

Oh, she was a fool. She was so proud, so happy to be accepted for once in her life by a group of women that genuinely enjoyed her company that she forgot what it meant to be one of them. Lydia knew very well what he did to them. It was only through their reassurances that the stab of jealousy she used to experience at the thought of their trysts was dulled.

“Betelgeuse,” she growled out in a last form of defiance, unwilling to cave to his whims as easily as she had in the past. “If you don’t get your fucking hands off of me right this second, Betelgeuse-” Number two was grit out into the blanket brutally as she writhed atop his lap, trying in vain to free herself. “You’re going to regret it– mmfff-”

Unfortunately, Lydia had also forgotten the cardinal rule of deception. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Ohohoo, oooaah, ah-ah-ah-ah! Not gonna say the B-word!” comes the sudden and surprised ape-like noise of dissent from the ghost, as Lydia threatens him with his name not once, but twice. His response is rapid, and Lydia finds her sweet lips wrapping around the plug of a round rubber ball-gag right after her warning of regret it. He’s summoned it from nowhere, pushing it unapologetically into her mouth which was open enough to threaten him with a third incantation of his name.

He’s instantly taken away her agency, her ability to recall him, in that moment. He knows, too, because he relishes in it - he tightens the strap behind her head physically, not bothering to use his juice so she can feel every bit of it. In a breath, he’s kissed her ear lovingly and whispered to her, at least remembering she’s a living breathing thing and not another ghostly romp, “T’tap out, smack m’ leg twice an’ I might listen. But now I ain’t goin’ anywhere, babes.” Her hands, though, those are juiced in a blink to say secure behind her back as if tied with ropes. That ought to prevent any funny ideas about getting that gag out, and it let him keep gripping her hair and smoking.

She’d misbehaved, utterly. She’d forgotten who was really in charge here, who wore the pants. And he was going to make sure she knew it. With the girl gagged, her hands immobile, he could take a good slow drag on his cigarette, crossing the ankles of his black boots underneath her casually. The problem had been secured, and now he could take his time.

“If you were a real Dante’s girl,” he starts, his voice matter-of-fact, “An’ ya went off like that on me, I’d put my cigarette out right on that pretty, flawless back of yers to watch you writhe.” He switches said cigarette from one hand into the hand that grips her hair, carefully keeping it away from the strands. He blows smoke down onto the top of her head purposefully. “But, you’re just an honorary one, so we can’t do that, can we?”

His hand is free to roam, and it does. “Rejectin’ me when I try n’ touch you,” he lists, “Not in the mood. I’m gonna fix that, little girl. You don’t know what I can do to you.” As if to give her a sample, he places his coarse, moldy hand flat on the small of her back, right above the knee-length pleated skirt she wears for school. In an instant, there’s a rush of heated energy that pools right between her legs, throbbing, causing a sudden, intense, needful ache. It’s as if she’s been at peak arousal for hours, unable to find relief or respite, her body suddenly and powerfully begging for release. “How’s that?” He sneers, listening for her muffled response from behind the gag, “Surprise. Let’s list yer sins while we’re sittin’ here waitin’ for you to beg me to get you off.”

He raises her school skirt, then, pulling it over her back to reveal her perfectly round, luscious bottom. He loves her ass in particular, and takes a moment to soak it in – no special panties today, it seems. Regular every-day ones today and these seem to have a little ghost design on the ass, and it says ‘Boo!’ cheerfully. Adorable. She’s precious. His hand relinquishes her hair in order to delicately, and slowly, scoot the little underthings past the smooth curve of her pert asscheeks.  

“Lyin’ to me,” comes the first of her transgressions, “Is fuckin’ hot. But I’ll find out.” THAP! The first spank is firm, but not too hard. His palm meets her ass squarely, making it jiggle. There’s a dull sting with it, and it makes whatever awful aching arousal she’s been made to experience worse. It isn’t like the dream version, either – she can feel every bit of it. “Givin’ me attitude when I come home after a long day’s work? That’s gonna be a problem, too.” THWUP! “Daddy doesn’t like it when his little girl isn’t happy t’see ‘em,” he continues, “And fightin’ me? Lydia Geuse,” he laughs, aloud suddenly, giving her another, even firmer THWUAP! “I’m gonna win. I’m always gonna win. So y’might as well get used to it, you little viper.”

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Lydia’s P.O.V.

At the foreign sensation of something big, round, and rubber stretching her jaw wide open, muffling her speech, Lydia panicked. The ability to call him back was the only real insurance she had to ensure her safety around him. It was her proverbial security blanket, the last assurance she had that he wouldn’t cause her any real harm, and now it was gone. In the blink of an eye. Just like that. All she had on her side was his unreliable word, his half-hearted promise to “do no harm.” Paired with the knowledge that he would likely never love her, this was enough to send her survival instincts into overdrive.

She went wild; yanking fruitlessly at the ties that held her wrists together, the efforts leaving light red marks behind, eyes misting with frustrated tears, and hyperventilating through her nostrils. A firm hand on her lower back kept her from bucking off of his lap and falling to the ground. Then, cold lips were brushing her ear tenderly, offering her a dubious opt-out of the precarious situation she found herself in. It was barely anything, considering how very untrustworthy he was, but it was enough.

He didn’t want to hurt her. Not really. He was just upset. She had been rather callous with him, hadn’t she? She hadn’t even given him proper thanks for his beautiful, thoughtful gift. Her upset with her parents had been unequally taken out on him, which really wasn’t fair of her. Ready to accept her fate, Lydia stilled her ineffective objections. Her inhalations were still deep and fast, but markedly calmer than before. It finally felt like enough oxygen was getting into her bloodstream. The hand in her hair had yet to soften its unyielding grip, but given time the burning pain had dulled to more of a numb ache.

However, when he disclosed what he would have done to her if she were a real Dante’s girl, she couldn’t help but tense up all over again. He wouldn’t. One of her hands flattened in desperation against his pant leg, ready to deliver the slaps to her salvation should he find himself tempted to do such a thing. Luckily, it was just a ploy to make her squirm again, and the hand on his leg relaxed some. Some.

His admonishment for rejecting his touch made her feel terrible. She hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings. He was just a lot, and Lydia had already dealt with a lot today. She could have let him paw at her. Feeling her up obviously made him happy, and it wasn’t like it was something that took a lot of concession on her part. She was being a bad wife. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled uselessly around the gag, right before he shot her full of concentrated lust . A muffled whine of pleasure tore from her throat, her eyes clenched shut, and alabaster flesh burned all over. Milky thighs clenched together beneath her skirt, trying futilely to rub herself to the completion she needed. Good fucking God. Now that she knew he could do this whenever he wanted, it made his ability in the bedroom all the more impressive. He didn’t have to work to get her off. He did it because he wanted to.

The first smack, lenient as it truly was, shook to her the core. The reverberations of her fleshy backside tickled at her overly sensitized nerves, pushing her closer toward the precipice. Each consecutive smack was met with muted cries of pained pleasure. He wanted her to beg him, and she would have if she could have- because he was right. She deserved this. He had earned this- but she couldn’t. Her bodily reactions to his abuse were, at this point, beyond her control. As much as she wanted to give him what he wanted, Lydia wasn’t going to last long like this.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

By the look he catches from above her, she’s getting the picture now. He doesn’t have to make her listen, he can worm into her mind and he doesn’t have to wait for her to feel anything, he can make her feel it. And he can make her climax on a bit of juice, yes, but he likes to work for it usually. That’s the fun. It works because she’s open to him – his strange sort of ghostly powers operating on some perverse power of persuasion. But he doesn’t do any of that because it’s no fun that way. He wants her to lust for him because she wants to, and he wants her to listen to him because she wants to.

That being said, this is very fun, convincing her of the latter part of that. Sometimes he does need to convince – not all his games are exactly welcome. The juice is helping, of course, sometimes a mental mind-fuck can be nice – and it isn’t long before the swirling of pleasure and pain that course through poor Lydia overwhelm her. A final THWUAP to her backside and her spine arches, a long, muffled groan bursting past the gag in her mouth as she climaxes. She’s soaked her panties, and the ghost can feel her damp thighs against his suit pants after a moment.

“Naughty girl!” Betelgeuse cries out, amusement edging his voice and he can’t resist teasing her, “Dante’s girls don’t cum before their clients,” whether or not that’s actually a rule is irrelevant, he leans down into her ear and snickers, “Now I gotta get mine, sugartits. On yer knees.”

He’s been waiting for this for far too long. He’s been achingly horny since he left her in the coffin they shared, and the memories of her abilities with her mouth have been floating in his brain for hours. He guides her down between his thighs insistently, releasing her hands from their invisible bondage as he does. The gag comes next, one hand unstrapping it from behind her head gently, the other undoing the front of his striped suit pants from where his arousal had been fitfully strained.

His engorged cock eagerly bursts forth from its confines, the tip of its ruddy head already drooling with thin droplets of pre. A heady chocolate scent wafts under her nose. He’s still got that going on too, it seems. She goes right from the gag to his dick - he presses the wet tip to her sweet, soft, warm lips, moving forward with his hips in an attempt to ease himself forward into her mouth. “Open up, babes…”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

She couldn’t have stopped from cumming even if she wanted to, which she didn’t- until, of course, he told her that she wasn’t supposed to. Luckily, he didn’t seem all that upset about it. If all he wanted as retribution was a blowjob, Lydia considered herself fortunate. Blowjobs were easy, especially with the way he tasted. Just like the last time she did this, his demand was obeyed without a moment’s hesitation, and she sucked down as much of him as she possibly could in one stroke. Her bed sat higher from the ground than her father’s armchair did. Lydia had to balance on bent knees, gripping his thighs for purchase.

This was her first experience giving head as both a sober and willing counterpart. Thusly, Lydia took the time to experiment. She worked him slowly, keeping her mouth still for long moments at a time so that she could see just how hard she was able to suck, which undulations of her tongue got the best reactions. It didn’t bother her nearly as much as she knew it should have that he was treating her like one of his whores. He held her in higher regard than them. He must have. It’s why he hadn’t fucked her yet despite the numerous opportunities. Besides, as they had so excitedly pointed out, she had the ring.

She would be his whore if that’s what he wanted. Besides, it’s not like this was hard or anything- so to speak. Lydia didn’t need alcohol to lower her inhibitions or relax her muscles, not this time. She sucked him slow and sweet, like a runny fudge pop on a hot Summer day. Something she was doing must have been right because her husband was making absolutely atrocious noises. Distantly, she worried that her father or Delia might hear. Maybe he’d be willing to gag himself. Not likely, she thought with a pleasant hum as he lathed her tongue with succulent cocoa-flavored precum.

Nothing to do but make him peak as quickly as possible, then. Shut him up.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

As Lydia finds out, she can suck Betelgeuse’s dick pretty fucking hard. In fact, the harder she does it, the more he curses and hisses filthy directives of encouragement. He’s not interested in being particularly quiet about it, either, so Lydia does have some cause for worry. Shutting him up is difficult enough in normal situations.

And while he may indeed be treating her like a whore, she’s the best one he’s had. Her mouth is living warm, all natural, and it’s not fair whatsoever in any realm living or dead that she can just waltz right in and suck his dick like she’d been doing it for an eternity. Even though she was the one on her knees, she was quickly taking charge. At this point, the ghoul could care less. She was prime rib. She was caviar. And the slow, succulent time she was taking with him was making him writhe. This was agonizing. She works him into something of a state, where his need to get off is too burning, too achingly maddening.

He’s going to see how far this little girl can go, how far he can push her. He already has learned in their previous encounter that she can swallow most of him, but greedily, he’s determined he wants her to take the rest of it. He’s forced to stop her attentions briefly in order to position her correctly for his little experiment, huffing in frustration as he does so, and he makes it as quick as he possibly can with strong arms, muscling Lydia about. Once arranged to his liking, he pushes into her mouth again with a hot groan, and then forces his dick rudely down her throat until he bottoms out against her lips impatiently.

“Fuck….” He snarls at the sensation of her slick, tight throat clenching around him, “…that’s ….aa—aah….a good girl. Swallow all of it….”

He braces his leg against her bed, gripping her soft flesh for stability hard enough to leave little bruises later, and begins to fuck her throat and mouth as fiercely as he can without injuring her. He’s beyond most words now, reduced to cursing and moaning her name throatily, wet slapping accompanying. He can’t last long like this, furiously humping against her face, the lower slope of his muscular gut dragging lightly against her chin. Her tiny red horns poke at him lightly, and the sight of them spurs on his orgasm. She doesn’t have to endure her punishment long, with a gravelly, snarling noise he cums, forcing a wave of chocolate-flavored spunk down the back of her throat. His cock throbs and twitches, pulling from her just enough to let her breathe then, still gushing and oozing sticky threads of residue across her tongue. “Lyds…’s…. not…okay that you know….how to suck….dick like that,” he grunts, breathless despite having long ago lost the need to breathe.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia squeaked in surprise when he hauled her up by her underarms, only to drag her up and lay her out flat on the bed, her head hanging off the edge. The ends of her hair pooled on the ground beneath them. Then, he was fucking her throat in a way she had previously thought impossible. She couldn’t breathe, but just as before, she also couldn’t bring herself to care. Not when he was groaning her name like that, grabbing on to her “sugartits” over her school uniform and anchoring himself for the ride of his afterlife.  If she was going to be his whore, she would be the best damn whore she could be. A pleasant warmth overtook her. It may have been from oxygen deprivation, but Lydia liked to think it was because she was a “good girl” again in his eyes. All she could do was hold onto his hips as he thrust into her and hope that he wasn’t so far gone as to forget that she was only human. She could only do this for so long.

Fortunately, she didn’t have anything to worry about. Apparently, he was under a similar pressure. He busted down her throat with a vicious snarl, squeezing her breasts so hard Lydia had the obscene thought that they might pop and gush blood and gore all over her blankets. His withdrawal from her person was a relief, but she still glowed with pride. After choking down the last of his cum and finally getting some oxygen into her lungs, she huffed out her uncharacteristically cocky, teasing response to his derision of her apparent abilities.

“What…” she panted, red-faced and teary-eyed, blinking up at his upside-down image from her inverted position. “… like it’s hard?”

Suddenly, there came a series of taps against her bedroom door. “Pumpkin,” her father’s voice sounded meek, “can I come in?”

“No,” Lydia snapped with firm resolution, glaring at the door, not even bothering to take the steps necessary to mend her disheveled appearance.

There was a tense pause. Betelgeuse didn’t even speak, and she knew he must have been tempted to. “Please?” Her father begged brokenly. As upset with him as Lydia currently was, she wasn’t cruel. With a putout sigh, she threw Betelgeuse a pleading look to which he scoffed, rolled his eyes, grumbled something inaudible, and then popped out of existence.

“Come in.” The door crept open slowly, revealing a miserable Charles Deetz. He didn’t dare pass the threshold. “Well?” Lydia spoke sharply when he did nothing but stand there awkwardly for a few moments. She had yet to sit upright and was still looking at the world from an upturned perspective.

“I- I thought I heard… I don’t know what I thought I heard…” The unkempt man rubbed at his bloodshot eyes, gripping the doorframe with one hand as though he were on the verge of collapse. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. That was… It was very wrong of me to say that… but-” he began, as though he meant to provide some sort of excuse for his behavior.

“It was and you should be,” Lydia interrupted icily, not at all interested in his half-assed attempts to alleviate his massive guilt. “Apology not accepted. Are you done?”

If possible, her father crumpled even more, as if she had physically struck him. Lydia felt nothing. “What’s with the…?” He gestured vaguely around the top of his head, and she brought her own hands up, feeling at her horns. She’d honestly forgotten she was even still wearing them.

“None of your business,” she answered with just as much pleasantness as she had all the other things he said. “Now go away.” Charles Deetz may have been a shark in the real estate market, but when it came to the women he loved, he was a yellow-bellied chicken. Tail between his legs, eyes downcast, he obeyed his daughter’s demand and let her be. “Yeah, you’re really sorry, aren’t you?” Lydia asked the door, slick, swollen lips curled with bitterness. “You worked so hard on that apology. Dick.” Finally, she sat up, blinking rapidly at the sudden rush from all the blood that had flown to her head. “Beej,” she inquired, voice soft again, looking about with rapidly fading disorientation, “are you still here?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse didn’t really have words for how hot it was that Lydia hadn’t even moved from her throat-fucked positioning to berate her father. It almost salved the very fact that he had intruded on them at all and invisibly, he chuckles low in his throat once the man leaves.

He re-appears stripe-by-stripe like a Cheshire cat, as Lydia queries out into the room. “Yeah yeah, yer other, better daddy’s still here, babes,” he replies, the rest of him oozing back into being fully visible. He had taken up a position right next to her while unseen. “Remind me not to really piss you off,” he adds, his striped arms wrapping around the girl’s slim shoulders warmly. Everything he had done up until this point was a scramble-repair, but he had managed it every time. Even by a hair.

He had not been kind to her this evening, either. So he lights up and observes her face, a clawed hand cupping her chin and tilting her head this way and that. That’s a pretty face – flushed lips, slowly fading ruddy cheeks, and eyes red from tears. He places the cigarette to her mouth, still holding her until she takes it, huffing a cloud of slow smoke into the air. “Y’should really let me juice ‘em,” he says absently as he stares out at the door longingly, then turns to her accusingly, “Speakin’ of, what kinda Bad Girl Bug bit you? You’ve been nothin’ but piss n’ vinegar since I got home, ‘spect you’re calmed down now though. Fucking hell Lydia. You’re a natural at that cock suckin’ thing. But your ‘tude - can’t be your trip, you had fun at the Inferno Bar – somethin’ Chuck said? By the way,” he leans in, tone frank, “Don’t ever listen to fuckin’ Trixie. How d’ya think y’got stuck with me, anyway?”

He nuzzles into her dark hair, stroking it with his claws. “Also,” he adds, grimy hand sneaking up her shirt, and she can feel him inhale, “Unless you want to go again, baby, I recommend y’take these little puppies off.” He taps the horns, then, “I have like a Pavlovian response to these fuckers, in case it weren’t obvious.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Foul mood back with a vengeance, though Lydia now knew better than to take it out on her husband, his jokes were only met with lackluster pseudo smiles. She took the cigarette he offered and easily curled into his touch, tucking her legs over his until she was halfway in his lap. Obediently, she undid the knot that kept her horn-ribbon in place, idly setting the provocative accessory aside with one hand and sucking down nicotine with the other.

“He didn’t mean it. He was drunk,” she informed lifelessly, taking it upon herself to provide excuses for her father’s cruel words. “And it’s not like I’ve been being a great daughter lately.” Stealing from them, smoking, drinking, fucking around with older men- a grave understatement- running away, and smarting off… No. Lydia definitely deserved their ire. Earned it.

“He said…” She nuzzled her head under his chin, pulling close to his chest and avoiding eye contact all in one go. “He said I was going to turn out just like my mom.” The impenetrable wall that held her tumultuous emotions locked up tight fractured. There was a crack in her voice and wetness in her eyes that didn’t come from rough oral sex. “My mom,” she clarified, breathing deeply into his jacket, “who just died- and I mean just died. One month, two weeks, and three days ago. It was a heroin overdose.” Tears streamed without mercy down her flushed cheeks, uncaring of her disgrace, but she didn’t sob, or shake, or lose herself. Lydia had shed enough tears over her mother to be able to speak through them smoothly.

“They found her in a utility closet when she didn’t show up for headcount. They don’t… I don’t know if it was intentional or not.” Once the cherry hit the filter, Lydia tossed the cigarette butt to the floor shamelessly. Messes could be cleaned, and she wasn’t willing to remove herself from the safety his arms provided. “That’s why Adam and Barb are in the Neitherworld. They’re checking for me, using one of their vouchers to see if she’s… working there. They left the day I got the news. One month… two weeks… three days…” She allowed herself a deep, shuddering breath against him that could almost count as a sob if one were nitpicking.

“That vanity’s all I have left of her,” she gestured vaguely at the cherry wood antique. “It was the nicest thing we owned, and I got to keep it when I came to live with my father. I never…” Deeply ashamed of her actions, it took every ounce of bravery she could muster to continue confessing. “I never went to visit her in prison. I could have. All of her family lives in Moscow. She was alone here. She didn’t have anyone and I couldn’t even- I didn’t-”

The wall shattered. Lydia had to muffle her wail of despair into his shirt, having worked herself partway under his jacket. This was the first and only opportunity she had ever had to voice the unspeakable; that her mother had committed suicide, would now be a slave for the rest of eternity, and it was all her fault.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

This calls for a second cigarette, is the first thing that swims through the ghost’s brain. He lights himself one, and her a second, because at this point that was the immediate thing that needed attention as she cried into his jacket and hid from her pain behind his lapels. He doesn’t reply for a good few moments, either. There’s silence between them, but she can feel him gather her into his arms closer as if issuing some sort of unspoken apology. His grimy chin sets itself on top of her head gently after she’s done speaking, having already been nestled underneath him for most of her explanation.

“So,” he says, after a moment, “What yer sayin’ is that I can’t kill him for sayin’ that sorta stuff. Can’t do in your remaining sober parent. Gotcha.”

The silence and broken crying he receives is answer enough, he only lets the pause happen for a beat before sighing out a large cloud of smoke. “Just sayin’….that’s uh,” he murmurs, slowly, “some pretty heavy fuckin’ shit y’just laid on me, there, Lyds.”

And it was.

Unbeknownst to her, he had just discovered the following things:

Why the Maitlands were in the waiting room and what they were doing there. So, demonstrating to them that he’d just ruined her life by marrying her and schtupping her while they were absent and unable to protect her was … great, good job. She was vulnerable and he took advantage. Of course he did. Second, that they were there for this in particular – already probably upset over the idea of it, and then he had to come along and make it so….so much worse. Oops . They were gonna be so pissed. Way more pissed than he’d realized.

That his conception of the wealthy, middle-upper class lifestyle he was certain she was rebelling against with her “goth phase” was much more than that. A sexually abusive past, and a biological mother addicted to heroin. So much so that she died, in fact. And he had capitalized on every bit of it, confusing her submission and attachment to him towards a great number of things and not vulnerable needy abuse victim. He had taken advantage of her good nature, of her pliant, giving attitude. He had run over her and she had taken it like a “good girl” because of this.

He had broken that vanity once when he assumed she’d gone and double crossed him, and been utterly puzzled as to her over-reaction towards it. He had blamed her hormones, the fact she was a woman, the fact she was a wacky angry teenager. But no, as it turns out, that portal he’d been using to slime his way in and out of her room as he pleased was a family heirloom of a sort. He almost felt bad for spying on her through it sometimes. Almost.

She was crying on a man who had never been really in touch with his emotions. No, for many hundreds of years he had embittered himself to the world. He was a monster and this was living, verifiable proof that it remained true. He had no rules. He was dead. He was beyond reproach from the living. Life screws you over, and then death does the same. When he had said, aloud, in the basement that he had loved her, was it true? When he had thought to himself that he did, had he fallen in love with a girl who was unable to really love him back? Did she know what love really was, after all this time? Traditional values held that he hadn’t shown her anything but lust and manipulation. So did he?

In as much as he could remember about what it was like, he loved her. So, what do people who love each other do in moments like this?

To be real, the ghost didn’t really know. He’d always been trying to convince her of something else. Convince her that she hadn’t gotten herself into even deeper trouble with a dead guy who had lost so many of his concepts of decorum many years back. He remembered how he described the Neitherworld to her in blunt terms when they first had entered into it.

Lydia can feel the thrum of something in his chest and she presses against him, perhaps his heart beating, once. Under the guise of being patient, or letting her cry, he had simply let these thoughts run through his mind slowly, trying to untangle so very much all at once. On top of all this, there was his own way that he had met his grisly end.

“It’s not your fault,” he finally says, “You can’t…. fix somethin’ like that.”

She couldn’t fix him, either. He’d already set himself up to be this way forever. He swallows, audibly, the odd sensation of acid burning his throat but he continues.

“Yer mom couldn’t see the forest through the trees. Anyone who ends up that way….’s all pretty personal, but ….they just…can’t see outside of themselves. I used t’ be Juno’s assistant, I think I mighta mentioned it,” he explains, taking a slow drag on his cigarette, “I used to work in the ole dead-dog DMV right along the Maitland’s problem-solving harpy. The reason I was her assistant was that I killed myself, but you probably inferred that.”

He pauses, not knowing she already has this information, but it’s pretty heavy for him, it seems, and he burps on a bubble of cigarette smoke, coughing once before pushing onwards, “The marks ‘r pretty much gone now, but I took m’self out the auto-erotic asphyxiation method. Hangin’. Some people do it for boners, I did it because of a girl. Which I guess is sort of the same thing, if ya wanna be reductive. Anyway…. There was no one, not even that girl, who was gonna be able t’save me. There was more than just a …. broken ticker that led me to that place.”

He sighs, slowly. This is uncomfortable, and he can feel the anxiety crawling under his skin threatening to reach up and choke him.

“You’re a good girl Lydia. Your mom still loves you, that never changes even after you die. I’ve tried to change it, in m’self. But that stubborn bastard hangs on. Threatens you at knifepoint when you least expect it. Holds you hostage. Y’wanna know the irony of life n’ death, babes? It’s this: that girl I fell in love with wound up killin’ herself about twenty years after me. The guilt got to ‘er. She was my co-worker for the entire time I worked in that dump. Every time I’d clock in it was like someone stabbed me in the throat t’look at her. She forgot my name after a while. It was like dyin’ every day for four hundred years till I weaseled my way out of there usin’ red tape n’ fine print.”

He takes a slow drag on his cigarette and closes his eyes briefly. “The guilt got to you too, so we’re married now,” he adds, the finger points of his garbage fire of an afterlife not lost to him, “That bein’ said….I can speed up the process and get the Maitlands to go see your mom. Tomorrow if you want. Nothin’s ever easy, she may not be there at all. But I can force it with Juno. She can’t ignore me anymore.”

He pauses, and then, as if in summation of everything he’s done to her, everything he’s put her through, an apology for himself – saying the two words he vows constantly never to say to anyone, he says,

“I’m sorry.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Your mom still loves you, that never changes even after you die.”

“By the time she got locked up, she was so fucked in the head I don’t know if she even remembers she has a daughter. I thought she might get clean in prison, but… she’s beautiful. She never had trouble getting what she wanted from men. Iron bars didn’t stop that.” There were never any letters, no phone calls to contemplate rejecting. For all Lydia knew, her mother had forgotten her completely.

Her heart shattered to pieces for him as he disclosed the raw details of his time spent working for Juno. To have to stare at the person you love, the person you died for, every day and know that they met the same fate as you… For them to not even recognize you… To forget about you…

“Oh, Beej,” she whimpered, pulling herself tighter against him with arms around his neck. Satin lips wet from her tears pressed to the flesh there, offering the only comfort she knew how. “Donny, uhm, he already told me. About how and why… but I didn’t know about that. I didn’t say anything because I knew you wouldn’t like him telling me your business like that.” She wished she had better words for him, the way he always seemed to have them for her, but she just didn’t. Nevertheless, she would try. “I will never forget your name. I promise. I couldn’t if I tried. I’ve thought your name every single day since you made me play charades to learn it.” Cheeks heating, she dared to offer him yet another embarrassing secret. “I even, uh, have a notebook with your name scribbled all over it. God, you must think I’m so lame,” she giggled nervously into his neck, amused and humbled by her own immaturity.

“I can speed up the process and get the Maitlands to go see your mom. Tomorrow if you want.”

The tattered shreds that remained of her oversized heart dropped into her stomach. It hadn’t even occurred to her to ask him for such a favor. It was too close, too personal. She wouldn’t have been able to bear it if he mocked her for requesting such a thing.

“Really? You can really do that? Oh, yes, please, I’d owe you forever. I miss Adam and Barbara so much, and- and I need to know if she’s there or not. I need to. You understand.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse avoids really responding to the first part of what Lydia tells him. He doesn’t know to reassure her on that – the Neitherworld is an unkind place at first. Nothing to worry about when you’re dead, no more problems. Just vices and indulgence. All he does after a moment is shrug, unable to offer her an answer. They’ll find out what she remembers, exactly, at any rate.

“Yeah, Donny likes that story. He thinks it’s terribly romantic. Or somethin’. It ain’t. It isn’t even interesting, not t’me. He was probably tryin’ to make you uncomfortable, he likes doin’ that, too,” the ghost sniffs, unimpressed. “I’m gonna crush his trachea later though. He’s earned it.”

Claws stroke through her long raven hair, and he smiles mischievously after she describes her little infatuation with him. “I had a vague notion that was the case,” he replies, tucking his chin a bit to look down at her. He doesn’t mention that he found out she had, to his surprise and shock, actually been curious about him for some time via her very naughty dreamscape. “Valentino, and all that. I make a pretty hot snake and an even hotter miniature. I wanted out so bad Lydia, you have no idea. It’s probably for the best you didn’t. I had plans for you n’ they weren’t kosher.”

The last bit is said teasingly, with a wink, as if she hadn’t just been gargling every inch of his cock. “If it helps, I never forgot you either. I think I have some uh….draw…ings….” He trails off – ‘doodles of roaches banging the hell out of her while more of them snapped her family into pieces with their mandibles, created while he was imprisoned’ sounds rough, “…. nevermind. If you think I’m gonna love you any less ‘cause you’re obsessed with me…” he shrugs, always the egotist.

He drops that last line as if she wouldn’t hear it, too. Maybe she won’t. His tongue slipped, and maybe he didn’t notice it, either. He’s preoccupied soon enough by her begging for his assistance, and he smiles nervously, looking a little out of place.

“Yea yea. I’ll get goin’ on it tomorrow….but….I mean….I may not come back with awesome news so….emotionally maybe prepare yourself in advance. Just….sayin’ that upfront, Lyds. I don’t know what I’m gonna find. But I’ll go to Juno’s and I’ll send your weird neo-farmer parents back at least while I take it up. Might take me some real-world time, even though I’ll only be there for a couple hours at most. Here,” he takes off one of his dirty watches and passes it over, “This will let you keep track of the difference.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Love. Did he mean it? He didn’t seem the type to use words like that in jest. Donny told her he would never love again… but everything that came out of Donny’s mouth was a filthy, sugar-coated lie, wasn’t it? Lydia granted her husband the mercy of pretending not to notice. She knew enough to know by now that he didn’t like being called out, especially when it came to his emotions or lack thereof.

“You drew me?” She grinned, heart fluttering and tears drying at the prospect. “Can I see? You’re a good artist. I like your little beetle doodles.” The note he left her the morning after their sleepover was tucked away safely on her bookshelf where she could reread it and swoon whenever the urge struck her. “If you show me yours, I’ll let you see my notebook- but you can’t make fun of me, it’s seriously embarrassing.”

The watch he passed off to her was ancient. The face was cracked, the leather strap was dusty and far too long for her thin wrist, and the hands seemed to be moving much, much slower than the clock on her wall. The second’s hand didn’t appear to be budging at all. The hours were denoted with Roman numerals. There was an extra hour at the top, signifying that this was not an ordinary wristwatch. Lydia wasn’t sure if it was even in working order, but she appreciated the gesture too much to question it and buckled the too-large band around her right arm unhesitatingly.

“Thank you,” she imparted simply, meaningfully, looking up at him like he hung the moon just for her, before straining up to brush another sweet kiss across his stubbly, chubby cheek. “I mean it. I’ll owe you. Anything you want. Name it, and if I can make it happen, it’s yours.”

Lydia was well aware that this was a dangerous offer to make but was too deeply grateful to give much of a damn. If all he wanted was her body, he would have had it by now, so she doubted he would use this for anything unsavory- but… There always seemed to be a but when it came to Betelgeuse.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Okay,” mutters the ghost, dubiously. Lydia hasn’t really taken in his warning, it seems about her mother. It was her funeral, proverbially, though fulfilling her request of showing her any of his doodles is…. not a good idea either and it makes his stomach twist. Maybe he’s got some from before his little incarceration that aren’t as ah….Goya-esque. He really wants to see her weird notebook. His ego suddenly needs it to survive.

In the meantime though, he earns a kiss for the gift of his watch, which seems to surprise him. It’s dusty, cracked and caked in graveyard schmutz, and he’d had it since he started working as a caseworker. Who would appreciate such a thing but Lydia? And then, in exchange, she makes a Devil’s bargain. Anything. If he gives her more stuff, will she make more promises like that? The screaming imp that seems to live in his brain hopes so. She must …. must know by now that making that kind of a deal with him was a terrible idea.

“If you say so,” he smiles, unable to help the wicked expression from his face, “I’m gonna keep that IOU, babes. I never forget anythin’ owed t’me.”

“Sec…,” he requests after that and reaches up into the air as if to snatch something out of it. Papers appear in his hands, multiples, semi-crumpled and messy with coffee stains and other damage. But there they are, and he hands them over to Lydia as promised, looking vaguely uncomfortable. There are so many crude, nude doodles of a long black haired girl reading a tiny primitive handbook, including a diagram of why she’s incredibly hot with a lot of red arrows pointing to her tits and ass, and a half-way finished poem she once read aloud while in the attic alone he had transcribed. There’s a number of other doodles of his Very Good Ideas to scare the living shit out of her parents, and a small doodle of a very happy snake carrying her shirtless off to places unknown. They are childish and impulsive, and there’s a bunch of roaches with crowns and “profit”, “freedom” and knives scattered through the whole little narrative.

There’s also, towards the back of all the silly nonsense, a very detailed and studied charcoal drawing of her. She had apparently fallen asleep on the plush chair the Maitlands had situated near the attic door, and the ghoul had taken some artistic advantage. It is surprisingly good and shows great patience in contrast to almost all of his other innate nature as if he had truly been studying her carefully. This one is especially crumpled as if he’d wadded it up in an effort to throw it out at one point and regretted the notion later.

The ghoul nudges her after forking them over. “C’mon. Weird fap diary to me, let’s go,” he makes a ‘gimmie’ gesture to her. “I showed you mine, you gotta show me yours.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I’m gonna keep that IOU, babes. I never forget anythin’ owed t’me.”

“I’m not scared of you,” she returned, teasing, meeting his wicked expression with an impish smile and narrowed eyes. “Worst case scenario you’ll want me to do some gross sex thing- and really, if I ask nicely you’ll back off. So go ahead and remember it. Just try not to request anything too foul, please.” He may wear the pants in their relationship, but Lydia held the leash.

A mess of stained, crumpled parchment suddenly materialized in his hands and Lydia eagerly accepted it when he passed it off to her. She slid from his lap to sit cross-legged on the comforter and spread them all out before her. Chin resting atop her knuckles, she took them all in with studious, lidded eyes, carefully roving across every line, each precise stroke. He was so fucking talented. Lydia didn’t recognize the girl in his photos. Or maybe she did. She would have sworn she was looking at portraits of her mother if it weren’t for the damning presence of the handbook in several of them. Then again, mommy dearest probably had her own copy by now. His sillier doodles earned big smiles that might have evolved into laughter were Lydia not struck by his more serious renditions of her.

“This is what I look like to you…?” Her tone was indecipherable. There was no way of knowing if she was charmed or insulted. In truth, she was deeply flattered. If his depictions of her father and Delia weren’t so eerily spot on, she might have accused him of taking liberties with her appearance. She didn’t have hips or breasts. Her eyes weren’t that large, that captivating, nor her lashes that long. She just wasn’t this beautiful girl he had drawn. There must have been some sort of mistake. Still, no matter how many times she blinked, there she was on paper in every shade of black and gray on the spectrum.

“You’re gifted,” she finally imparted quietly once she’d looked her fill, very gently gathering the old, delicate paper into a pile and setting it off to the side on her nightstand. “You should be proud. I’m, uhm,” she began, searching her bookshelf for the damning notebook, “I’m not as good as you.” Unable to look him in the eye, she passed it his way once it was located. “Don’t expect much. This was mostly just something to keep me busy when I got bored at school.”

Going in line with what she said, the first half of the college-rule notebook was filled with random notes and math problems, remnants of past schoolwork. The rest, however, was a treasure trove of deeply embarrassing material. It was just as she said; his name, over and over again. “Beetlejuice,” all one word. Usually, it appeared in threes; block letters filled in with his signature stripes, flowing elegant calligraphy, harsh jagged letters stylized brutally. Many of them had curling, intricate borders that would have taken hours to detail properly. Of course, there were also beetles upon beetles upon beetles; ladybugs, scarabs, stags, weevils, fireflies, etc. They crawled all over the paper, infesting her notes as much as they had her mind.

Perhaps the most shameful additions were the occasional “Lydia Juice,” drawn fluidly and prettily in the upper right corner of every other page. Just to see what it looked like, she had told herself at the time. Now, she knew better.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“It might not be a gross sex thing,” the ghost defends himself, looking very over-dramatically appalled with Lydia, “It might be an embarrassing thing or a scary thing or a weird thing or an embarrassing scary weird threesome which would cover all my bases now that I think about it—“

She was correct that she had the leash, but it led to a dog that pulls and yanks on his chains fitfully – just to get her to kick him occasionally. Jerk. As she turns serious about his drawings, his bout of mischievousness turns into a strange aloofness out of embarrassment, and he shrugs. “Y-yeah, that’s what you look like. Or at least, it’s what I see when I see you. I….had a lot of time to learn some things, yanno?” he definitely, definitely does not tell her that he started drawing hundreds of years ago in order to get some realistic action out of a piece of paper.

As she compliments him, he shifts uncomfortably and mumbles, putting her off. He’s never been much good at anything, and it seems like he’s not particularly eager to start. Even though he was something that apparently simply kept her busy at school, he eagerly accepts the notebook for a distraction himself, pulling out a pair of very self-important looking reading glasses. He takes a good look at the little journal studiously. He’s quiet for a moment, flipping through the pages over and over.

“Babes, if we were at that point, I’d fuck you into the floorboards. This is the best thing anyone’s ever made of me or my name. You like bugs, huh?” he’s ready to torture her just a little, “You like it when I eat ‘em? They remind you of me? You made me a veritable smorgasbord in these pages, hot stuff.” He rolls onto his belly, journal in hand, and taps the corner where she has prettily spelled her name out including his last name as her own. “Lydia Deetz,” he states, lowering his reading glasses so that he could peer at her from over the tops of them, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this marriage thing wasn’t just about you feelin’ guilty. In fact,” he adjusts the journal somewhat, “I think you wanted to marry me cause you liked me. A lot. These swirly letters say so. Oh – see, this one has a heart over the “i’s”. I told ya. Valentino. I have an animal magnetism.”

He’s almost done, but he’s having too much smug fun with this, “You know, you coulda just summoned me and told me y’loved me and you wanted my hot, dead corpse insteada playin’ coy.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia couldn’t bear to watch as he looked through her notebook, well aware of the embarrassing things it contained. Instead, as soon as he pulled those glasses out, she made for her closet, ready to change out of her school uniform into something less hideous and more comfortable. In contrast to her previous behavior, the door was left open this time. Hiding anything from him was futile. The marks on her backside were proof of that.

“Okay, fine,” she admitted grumblingly, face beet-red as she unbuttoned her blouse and let it drop to the floor, leaving her topless as she perused her wardrobe. “So I had a crush on you, so what? It’s not a big deal or anything. Also, this isn’t news!” She reminded him, dropping her skirt and toeing off her socks as soon as she found something suitable. Briefly, she was left in nothing but her BOO! panties, but then she pulled a ripped up, oversized t-shirt over her head and stole the sight from him. It depicted the poster art for the original Psycho, and the neck had been removed completely, leaving the black cotton to slip down and reveal both shoulders. “It’s not like you didn’t already know…”

He must have with the way he was able to play her like a fiddle, seducing her with ease. For those few seconds of almost-complete nudity, Betelgeuse was privy to all of the marks he had left on her in the past few days; dark purple fingerprints on her breasts and thighs, large handprints on each ass cheek, rosy, discolored nipples, and flowering hickeys on either side of her neck leading a trail down to her chest. A less informed individual might think she had been attacked.

Lastly, she thumbed down her soiled panties and pulled on a clean pair- simple, black, and cotton. No frills, lace, or silly designs. The dirty pair was quickly stuffed into the hamper before he could steal them. They were one of her favorites.

“You know, you coulda just summoned me and told me y’loved me and you wanted my hot, dead corpse insteada playin’ coy.”

Lydia was going to drown in her mortification. “Stop it,” she begged from the other side of the room, unable to be in any kind of close proximity to him while he was teasing her so mercilessly over such a vulnerable subject. “Come on, that’s not fair! I- I didn’t think anyone would ever see it, I was just messing around…”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghoul looked up from the journal briefly intending to pursue more emotional torture, but once his eyes caught Lydia topless and left in nothing but her cute little underwear he stops in order to oogle her properly. She did look like something had certainly abused her thoroughly, and it made his lips curl in that awful sort of grin that revealed all the fronts of his grimy teeth and gums. The difference between Lydia and all the girls he’d been with while dead was the fact that her pale, living flesh recorded every time he had touched her or grabbed her too roughly, or made her skin flush with the weight of his hands, or sucked and bit her in various places a little too enthusiastically. Most of them were intentional, but some of them were simply because he was rotten, unapologetic and had little self-control.

Her shirt is cute, he thought internally as she pulled it down over herself, and he grunts under his breath as he notes she never does seem to wear a bra. Better for him, really. “It’s news t’me,” he argues, “I thought you were just in it for the sex.” He tucks the journal away somewhere because he’s decided he owns it now since she hasn’t immediately insisted on its return. “You’re just messin’ around and I like messin’ with you. How come you’re always so embarrassed about it? I mean, I’m dirty, sure, and I’m dead, and I’m obscenely older than you but we knew that going into this thing. I like that y’like me. I only tease ya cause it makes y’blush and I like that, too.” He’s rolled onto his back now, hanging partially off the bed in order to eye her lasciviously from an up-side-down position. He resembles what she looked like just a few moments ago in fact, except without any dick being pounded down his throat. As her panties slip down her legs he makes a viciously filthy sort of throaty noise, happily crossing his legs casually as if enjoying a show. She’s only changing, but it’s enough to turn his screws, or at least, make him react. “I mean, we don’t gotta talk about our feelings, either. You could just sit on my face, beautiful, that communicates plenty.”

She’s had enough, and he can tell. The severe look she throws him is indicative of that, so he chuckles and backs off. “For real though, you’re stuck with me for at least a couple more hours, Lyds. I’m not goin’ back to the Patel’s for a bit,” they kicked him out for a while, really, he’s a hard pill to swallow for anyone who isn’t Lydia it seems, “We could watch the grossest horror movie we can find and eat snacks till we wanna puke. You got a VCR in this dump?”

It isn’t really a dump. He just uses terminology like that to be evocative. This, as far as he was concerned, was his house. And since he was going to go retrieve the Maitlands, he could see the cusp of him truly being king shit right on the horizon. The Deetzes weren’t going to stand for him, and he knew it. All was coming together, all he had to do now was wait.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“You’re just messin’ around and I like messin’ with you. How come you’re always so embarrassed about it?“

“I don’t know,” she mumbled, flushing impossibly darker as he called her out. “I guess…” she began, after taking time to seriously contemplate the question, “because I’m not supposed to like you.” This was imparted quietly, guiltily, as if she were afraid she might hurt his feelings. “And before you start, I know exactly what you have to say,” she cut in when he opened his mouth as if to interrupt her. “We’re not normal, it’s okay to like what I like, don’t listen to what other people have to say, yadda yadda,” she rattled off points he had made to her in the past, rolling her eyes as if he weren’t absolutely right. “But it’s just not that simple, okay?”

Then, he was offering his face up as a chair. Scoundrel. Her lips pursed, eyes narrowing. She was the one uncomfortable with talking about her feelings, was she? He couldn’t even make it through a serious conversation without working in a pass at her!


“Oh, wow,” she lauded, blush fading, staring in awe, “you are old. Let me introduce you to the newfangled contraptions of the future, Grandpa.” Ignoring his foul expression, she grabbed a slim remote from her nightside stand and took a seat next to him on the bed. A click later, and her fancy smart TV came to life. It wasn’t as large as the television in the home theatre, but it was substantial in its own right. “This,” she began after navigating toward a little black and red box on the screen, “is Netflix.” He was sitting up now, gazing at everything she was doing with avid interest. This alone brought a pleasant smile to her face that she hoped didn’t come off as mocking. It was sweet, honestly. Taking his hand, she worked the remote into his palm, navigating his large thumb across the directional pads. “These buttons will let you move up and down, or right to left- accordingly. If you go all the way up,” she used his thumb to navigate to the search icon, “you can search for something specific. Like, The Twilight Zone, for example.” Still guiding his thumb, she started typing in the proper letters until the corresponding show popped up on screen.

“There. Get it?” He seemed a bit overwhelmed. Lydia’s smile grew. “The little arrow button there will take you back to the main screen. I’m going to go make us something to eat. You go ahead and get acquainted with that.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Grandpa?! He was no cotton pickin’ ancient Methuselah! Where did she get off?! He was in his prime! He was a stallion!

And he figured out how to make a television commercial all by himself, okay?! He was into broadcasting! That commercial was premium entertainment! The protest he was about to level with Lydia was readied on his scowling features, but his glinting, beady eyes catch the television screen instead. Flat screen. That’s got some nice definition to it.

He sits up and leans forward, looking exactly like the perplexed, old man she described him as. Or, well, more like some sort of very suspicious, curious rodent maybe. His face was scrunched in concentration, all of his teeth showing, his brow rumpled in supreme focus. She takes his hand, then, and demonstrates how to work a remote. Okay. He knows how to work a remote, thank you very much. He has another protest prepped, but the indignation is entirely squashed by the fact that she’s teaching him as one would do for a trained monkey. And she’s being very sweet about it, and her skin is soft, and he likes it when she touches him.

Also, this so-called Netflix, as it turns out is great fun. She leaves him to it, and he’s instantly and thoroughly distracted like a small curious child. New technology he picks up as quickly as he can and he’s a quick study. He stares after her once she’s gone completely for a good minute. Make us something to eat has finally registered in his brain. That’s new and interesting too. She made him a sandwich once. And then he ate her for dessert.

He finds all sorts of movies and goodies. They just let you access these now? Whatever happened to copyright?! Well, fuck it, this is great. He almost, almost forgets where he is and calls to her that he found Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ – but, remembering their current arrangement he flops backward onto the bed with a grunt. Patience. Patience was not his strong suit. He decided instead to imagine filling Delia’s shoes with delicious roaches. Delicious roaches.

He could go for a roach. Or a fly. Or literally any insect at all. Worms. Spiders. He wagers that Lydia isn’t making him some sort of dead bug soufflé. Can he ask her to make that?

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Apparently, Delia and her father had taken her refusal to cook dinner seriously. When she came downstairs, they were in the formal dining room eating a sad little pizza. The air was tense. No one spoke. What little conversation that was being had before Lydia was present on the first floor dissipated into nothing. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much different from how things usually were without Adam and Barbara around. Without them, it was almost as if the past two years hadn’t even happened. They were right back to square one, performing their family act one scene at a time just as they had in Manhattan. However, Lydia was now far more in tune with her role of “the problem child.”

Once delicious smells started wafting from the area, her silent parents made their retreat. Lydia drew her own smug conclusions as to why. Good. Now they wouldn’t notice how much food she was cooking. She already had biting retorts ready for them in case they dared to question her, but was glad she wouldn’t have to use them. Enough cruel words had been spoken today as far as Lydia was concerned. In perfect silence, she sauteed mushrooms and onions, baked two golden potatoes, and lastly seared two thick steaks in butter, garlic, and rosemary. The Partridge Family was stuck in her head, so a few classic notes may have been hummed into the air as she moved about the kitchen with grace and poise. Cooking was something Lydia enjoyed very much, one of the few things she and Barbara had in common. Ordinarily, Lydia would only cook on weekends while Barbara handled dinner on school nights, but they always helped each other.

They would be back soon, thanks to Betelgeuse, and maybe- just maybe- things with her mother could be repaired. Soon, Lydia thought with a near giddy smile, plating up their food. A stray dead fly on the windowsill caught her eye as she slipped her husband’s steak onto his plate. Hm. Lydia’s appetite wasn’t at all wetted by the sight of it, but maybe Betelgeuse’s opinion would differ. Did he even eat dead bugs? Or did he prefer them live? Well, she was going to find out. As an afterthought, the crunchy little thing was placed atop his steak like a garnish so that he could partake or toss it, whatever he wished. Then, very carefully, she balanced two plates, a glass of lemonade, and a bottle of beer for him in her short arms. Opening her bedroom door proved a bit of a challenge, but nothing she couldn’t handle.

“Here, take this one, it’s yours,” she offered his plate pleadingly once she was through the door, the tiny fly atop his steak the only things setting them apart. “This too.” The beer was handed off. No longer afraid of dropping all her hard work, Lydia settled onto bed next to him and finally took a moment to take in what was happening on screen. Whatever he was watching was black and white. A woman with no legs waddled across the screen. “What is this?” She inquired, interest piqued. Those were some pretty good special effects for something this old.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse scrambles back up into a sitting position as Lydia comes bundling through the door, his strange reverie interrupted. She hands him an enormous plate of delicious smelling fresh steak, replete with a fat dead fly garnish atop it – mushrooms, onions, the works. And a beer.

She sits down next to him so casually after that, as if she hadn’t done anything at all. He looks at her for a long time after she asks her question, almost to the point of it becoming awkward. Slowly, suspiciously, he cuts into his steak. Blood seeps out underneath. Rare.


How can such a simple thing for her make him feel so many things at once? She’s asked him something. Something about the movie, but his gut is all twisted up and he can’t seem to answer her right away. He’s startled. Spooked, maybe. Maybe in that instant, like a lightning bolt, he’s realized she’s just done something specific in regards to their marriage that a wife would do. You don’t need to feed a ghost. He doesn’t require any sort of viable sustenance. But she did it because she cared. She even added a fly. A FLY.

He’s staring. He knows he’s staring, and he knows that some sort of unearthly color has risen to his cheeks, sort of maybe like a blush, sort of maybe like he’s attempting to undergo some form of secondary rigor mortis. Snap out of it, Betelgeuse!

“’S….f…The…uh,” he says, intelligently, and then in a rush he mumbles, “Tod Browning’s Freaks.”

He’s almost afraid to eat this.

“It’s uhm,” he adds, trying to sort himself, “A ….revenge story. N’ those aren’t special effects. Those’re the real deal.”

He finally can’t resist and starts stuffing steak into his mouth, fly included. He makes a singular noise that might be a groan, or a moan, or some combination of a very heated noise of enjoyment. The look on his face clearly indicates he hadn’t intended to make that noise, either. Beer! Beer will fix this! He flicks the bottle open with a claw skillfully and takes a long, deep swig. Sweet blessed nectar, save this man from himself.

“Dinner’s good,” he remarks, after that, simply. He looks at her askance, more steak halfway shoveled into his gob. “…. what?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Oh, good,” she smiled in response to his compliments to dinner, already having cut half of her own steak into neat, bite-size pieces. “I wasn’t sure if you like rare or not. I can throw it back on for a few minutes if you’d prefer it more done…” Her nose wrinkled in distaste at the idea of ruining a perfectly good steak like that, but then she trailed off, having looked up to see he’d already jammed half of it down his filthy gullet. “Nevermind.” Clearly, he approved of the dead fly garnish. Maybe she could put up a trap for next time, so she had a more reliable source.

At the rate he was going, he was done long before she was; leaning back comfortably into the pillows, toeing off his boots, tossing his jacket, and unbuckling his belt to offer his substantial gut a bit of relief. A post-meal cigarette was lit and he continued nursing at one of Adam’s fancy IPA’s like a big, fat, content cat. Lydia was pleased. Even though he hadn’t said much, she felt accomplished, appreciated, like she’d done something very, very right. The movie was good, too. Even though she was coming in late, it didn’t take her long to pick up on the plot.

Lydia didn’t need a lot to eat. She finished all the mushrooms and onions, a fair portion of her baked potato, and only half the steak. “Bubby,” she called quietly out the window after issuing a soft whistle to get his attention. “Come get dinner.” Immediately, he snapped to attention from the edge of the driveway and came bounding her way, coming to a screeching halt right under her window. “Sit.” The gentle beast caught her scrapped steak between vicious teeth before it could hit the ground and gobbled it down within seconds. “That’s a good boy. Who’s mommy’s sweet precious? Yes, mommy misses you, she does. I’ll come down for you later, I promise.”

She knew she didn’t have to provide food for him. Since his appearance, wild rumors had sprung up all over Winter River concerning the ravaged deer carcasses discovered in the woods by shaken hunters. Words like “werewolf” and “chupacabra” had been thrown around. There was even a fuzzy photo of him featured in this week’s issue of The Winter River Gazette. Lydia didn’t think it adequately captured how handsome he was. In short, Bubby was more than capable of taking care of himself, but that wasn’t going to stop her from babying him.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The look the ghoul shoots her at the thought of putting the steak back into the oven, or of taking any of it away from him indicates his feelings very clearly about that. Like a jealous mutt, he guards it and continues to devour everything on his plate.

After releasing his satiated gut and oozing back onto his elbows, cigarette lit, far too content for his own good, he eventually becomes lost in thought for a moment. Perhaps, just perhaps, this terror still clenching his muscles was the simple fact that he had it good. He could get used to this. Things were finally lookin’ up for the B-man after a relatively hard-scrabble afterlife of his own making. It came in the form of a sixteen-year-old girl and a cockamamie plan to marry her for his freedom. Why did this work out? It didn’t make any sense, but the ghost was through questioning it for now. It was giving him a headache. Maybe, just maybe, he could actually relax and stop questioning whether or not he actually deserved it.

His wife feeds the dog, the dog that doesn’t need feeding, and for a second, things are very still and peaceful in his mind. He doesn’t even complain that she’s spoiling the damn thing. He squirms until he rucks himself up against the pillows on her bed, crosses his legs, and puts his arms behind him, smoking silently. The clamor, the screaming, the bad ideas that haunted his mind were quiet, and so was he. Freaks was a fun movie, this bed was cozy, and he finally had almost everything. “If there’s anything this movie taught me Lyds,” he remarks aloud after a moment, gesturing with his cigarette, “It’s don’t piss off someone who only comes up to your knee, and don’t fuck with a guy who doesn’t have no legs.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Common sense and decency should have taught you those things,” she shot back teasingly, still leaning half out the window. Harassing the physically disabled was a pretty clear and obvious “no-no” in Lydia’s book. “But I suppose I should just be happy you’re even capable of learning lessons.”

A naughty smirk was shot over her shoulder. Lydia was well aware that she was pushing it. However, she was capable of learning lessons as well, and if the events of the day had taught her anything, it was all she would get for mouthing off was a rough romp with her husband. Maybe a spanking if she really fucked with his fragile ego.

“I like this movie,” she informed, sauntering his way before stealing the beer right from his hand and downing the last couple inches. “Freaks are the best.” A face was made at the sour taste. “Ugh. Beer is gross. I wish Adam would develop some better tastes. You liked it though, right? You seem like a ‘beer guy’ to me.” This was definitely not an insult or reference to his cuddly beer gut. Not at all.

Lydia was feeling cocky. Uninhibited, but not by the scant amount of beer she’d stolen. Things had very much gone her way today. Delia and her father had been adequately put in their place, she was confident that Betelgeuse cared enough for her to not cause her real harm, and Adam and Barbara- her favorite people in the world- would be coming home soon. Everything was perfect. It was time to make things a little more perfect.

“But,” she began, climbing into his lap, settling her soft, cushy thighs on either side of his hips, “I missed the first twenty minutes.” Despite her faux disappointment, it was clear Lydia couldn’t give any less of a damn. “That’s no way to watch a movie. You have to watch it title to credits or, in my opinion, you haven’t really watch it at all, have you?” This was a rhetorical question. Pale hands toyed with his tie, trying to figure out how to undo it properly. It took longer than she was happy with and, frustrated, she gave up, crossing her arms and sitting upright with a pretty little scowl turning her lips. “Why do you wear that stupid thing? Take it off, I can’t figure it out…”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“I’m highly receptive to pain-based learning, Lyds. A guy whacks your kneecaps with an aluminum bat ‘cause he’s only three feet tall, y’don’t forget it,” comes the matter-of-fact reply. Betelgeuse catches the look she throws him, but the one he returns is dubious.

It becomes even more dubious as she whisks his beer from his hand and polishes it off. What was that? Subtly dropping to him that this was Adam’s beer as if he was some sort of cuckold in his own house in some strange fashion; as if he’d already taken the title of gets to do what he wants because this is Betelgeuse’s house now. Woah.

She climbs into his lap. Woah. WOAH.

Is she hitting on him? She is definitely, absolutely hitting on him. His face is as surprised as ever, his expressive eyes so very wide, but he is certainly not unhappy. A steak dinner and now this? Fuck, he’d suck Barb’s tits if it meant he gets the royal treatment like this all the time. He’s not really listening to what she’s saying after a minute, because her thighs are silky and warm and enveloping his hips – something about the movie, and missing some part of it. It’s all become a mushy blur, because she’s fussing with his tie ineffectively, trying to get it off.

Instead of replying, he gently works her folded, annoyed hands back into it and shows her how it’s done, as if returning the gesture from earlier with the remote. “I wear it ‘cause I look good in a suit,” he smiles, just a little smug, his voice thick with a low gravelly intonation to it, “and it frustrates horny lil’ girls named Lydia.”

Upon getting the tie off between the two of them, he pulls her towards him by her shirt, those cadaverous eyes of his dark with intent. He puts her hands on his shirt buttons next as if telling her silently to keep undressing him. Once her fingers are working his buttons, of course, he pulls her against him by the back of her head, capturing her lips hungrily with his own in order to start a very slow but very desirous make out session. His tongue plies hers, unapologetic in his need now, no longer tentative or coy with her explorations. His hands then are free to crawl up her thighs like eager little spiders, holding her firmly against him for a moment by the tops of them, pulling her downwards as he rolls his hips upwards hard, dragging the crotch of his pants heatedly against the crux of her thighs.

She never has to do much to get him wanting – but this is quite different, she started this, with a purpose. Her desire alone for him, the moves she made, instantly sprang the boiling furnace of his lust to life and he was determined to eat this sexy dessert slowly. He isn’t entirely sure if he can resist taking her the entire way this time with her assertiveness egging him on – his lofty plans seemed so trivial in comparison to her wants – but still, she deserved so much from him for a first time. Decisions, decisions. Was she ready for him?

Lydia’s P.O.V.

That’s more like it. Seducing him was cake. Lydia returned his kisses distractedly, unquestioningly following his wordless instructions to fumble with his button-up until it was completely undone and untucked from his pants, made loose by lack of belt. His hands felt so good sliding up her legs, slowly and purposefully, as if savoring each inch of exposed pearlescent flesh- just for him. Then, they tightened just so, pulling her down as he pushed up. They had played this game before, but that had been rushed and messy. This was different. Now, they had time and comfort to enjoy each other properly. Lydia was eager to take advantage, pulling him up by his broad shoulders until the dusty button-up could be pushed off and away.

All he wore now were the striped pants- tented, zipper straining- and a sweat-stained wife beater. She had to break away from their heated kissing in order to tug that over his head. Blindly, she flung it across the room as well, leaving it to crumple to the ground along with his tie. Lydia loved his body. She knew it was weird and “she wasn’t supposed to”, but she didn’t care. He was a being of opposites; soft and hard, fat and muscular, dead and yet oh so alive. His moss-infested chest hair was something she especially enjoyed. The way it felt brushing against her chest when they cuddled in his coffin once upon a time was delicious. The memory alone made her want to replicate the experience.

Impatiently, she pulled away from his greedy lips to strip her oversized shirt away and drop it over the edge of the bed. Then, they were attached at the mouth again, each trying their best to kiss the other into submission. Who would eventually be the victor remained unclear.

“Betelgeuse,” she moaned thoughtlessly as he moved down to nibble at her neck, hips rolling insistently, wiry hair scratching her over-sensitive nipples just the way she liked. “I think…” She trailed off into another high-pitched, breathy noise as he wrenched her down by her ass, claws carelessly digging into the cushiony flesh there. “I think… I’m ready.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

She was undressing him, and it was like no one had ever done it to him before. Or at least, not in any capacity he could remember that was similar to this. This real, physical sort of pulling his clothes off. He could just poof them, he knew, but that would take every ounce of fun out of the stripping, the handling, the way her fingers felt as they pulled and tugged at his vestments. He wouldn’t be able to experience her hunger for him, and oh was it good.

She gets his wife-beater off and he lets go a positively filthy noise as she tosses it across the room. Every atom of his body wanted this, her enthusiasm spurned him on. It was every kind of wrong, indeed, their forbidden love – old, young, dead, alive, good, chaotic. So many taboos at its very core, all ready to be indulged. Though, as she presses her soft, lithe form against his larger frame again from yanking off her own top - so eager for him, his strange, moldering body and everything that came with it, it felt oh so right.

She can feel him shudder underneath her as she swiftly comes back to continue the fitful battle of lips and tongue, his self-restraint slowly chipping away.  Her breasts pushed against his chest, soft, warm, pillowy things, far too delicious for their own good. Contrasting his own strangely textured skin, his masculine thatches of hair, she was like a silken dream. He wanted to eat her alive, and then some. The burning ache that pooled between his legs suddenly turned into an overwhelming rush of heat as the words she groaned into his ear reach his brain.

“I think….I’m ready.”

Dear God, it’s me, Margaret. How could he resist that? How was he supposed to? Every part of his body wanted it. In response, and almost for an instantaneous need to relieve the pressure of his trapped dick, he shuffles his hand down between them both and yanks open his fly. He grunts deep into her neck as his cock is sprung free from the prison of his striped trousers, rutting up between her thighs rudely, immediately gunking her panties with sticky smears of precum.

“….you sure baby? I …” he breathes, and she can feel him swallow heavily against her collarbone, trying to formulate words, “…had this…whole idea with rose petals, see….”

None of that made much sense. Her bedroom, taking her virginity from right under her parents’ noses…that was good enough, wasn’t it? They were safe here. This seemed like a good a time as any, right? He at least has the good sense to warn her, though. “….mmnh…beyond that, though…” he huffs, his hands gripping at various parts of her still, as if determined to touch every inch of her sexy, heated body, “…once I get goin’, I ain’t gonna be able to stop I don’t think…”

As if to attempt to stop himself, or keep her from fully answering him, he rolls his weight onto her like a crocodile in a river. He did have an entire set-up planned, and even though he was so ready to fuck her stupid and then some, he was hoping on one scrap left of hope that he could possibly… possibly hold out. She’s pinned under his weight, then, his gut pushing into her flat stomach as he heatedly begins to dry hump her. It was so close to fucking, and all he would have to do is tug that tiny, sopping bit of her panties aside with a claw if he wanted to. His thighs are surprisingly strong, and they hit her softer, slimmer ones underneath him with unapologetic, animalistic slaps. His hands dig into her shoulders, his own pushing the undersides of her knees downwards, bending her underneath him, her calves wrapped around his neck. She’s flexible, he knows, and he’s testing it now. That, and he’s giving her a good taste. He curses, and curses, the entire frame of her poor bed shaking with his force, his cock riding against the soft, slick mound of her sex rapidly. Names for her tumble from his mouth, along with incoherent noises jumbled together. If she can handle how fiercely he’s ramping up, she might actually want him to follow through. But he’ll know soon enough.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I’m not a-” virgin, she managed to gasp out as he hammered her into the comforter, leaving a little Lydia shaped indent. “I don’t- I don’t need that.”

He was so heavy, so hungry. An unyielding weight on her shoulders kept her from pulling him down into another suffocating kiss. Instead, he hovered over her, grunting like a beast, dark eyes gleaming over her. They flickered indiscriminately between her face and breasts, eating up her twisting expressions and the way her chest bounced and jiggled with each forceful thrust.  She used the leverage that hooking her legs over his shoulder provided, working herself against him feverishly.

Lydia didn’t care about his plans. She didn’t need silk sheets or violin music. She didn’t need to hear that he loved her, whether it was true or not, and she definitely didn’t want him to stop. Made fickle with lust, his bride was ready to throw caution to the wind in order to achieve the high she knew he could- would- give her.

“I want you,” she crooned as he bore down on her, slamming down and then grinding with fervor. Black-painted nails bit into his muscled biceps, leaving tiny little crescent-shaped marks in the mottled flesh. It would be so easy to reach down and slide the damp crotch of her panties aside, take hold of him and position him properly for his next thrust. But his movements were so harsh, so fast she wasn’t sure he would pause long enough to let her. That and Lydia wanted him to take her. She had balls enough to make the first move. He should have balls enough to finish it.

Frivolous with desire, she took no notice of their increasingly loud sounds of passion or the way her bedframe was pounding against the wall. Delia Deetz, however, was of an observant frame of mind tonight. A knock at the door stopped Lydia cold. “Fuck,” she whispered reflexively, pausing all movement, head snapping toward the sound. The knob mechanism laid horizontally. It was unlocked. Just as rapidly, she was back to gazing at her husband- with a different kind of desperation this time. Judging by the wicked shine that remained in his dark orbs, glazed over with lust and mischief, she would find no mercy there.

“Lydia, dear…?” Her stepmother inquired, sounding quite perturbed. “Is everything okay in there? I heard… noises.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“You are,” comes the breathlessly growled reply. To him, she was, and the rest of the world’s opinion on it could go suck on a wood chipper. But her pleading was not falling on deaf ears.

Quite the opposite, in fact. She was melting his already shaky resolve with a heat gun, and every time his hips thrust downwards he was shaking. She did want him, every part of it, and who was he to deny her? As her smooth calves clenched around the taut muscles of his thick neck and she thrust against him with vigor, he had pretty much made up his mind already.

“I want you,” comes the crooning nail in the already rickety coffin. There’s suddenly a sheen on his skin as if he were sweating…which he must be. She wasn’t thinking clearly but now he wasn’t either and being who he is, he wasn’t about to start.

His movements were indeed harsh as if to prevent her from taking this scenario into her own hands. Denying her anything was not in his repertoire though, and he can’t resist her pleading for long. She was grabbing him, her nails digging into his arms and causing delicious prickles of pain. “Lydia…..” he breathes, his voice soaked with its own heated, gravelly plea.

His hand drifted downwards towards his cock, hips still working feverishly, tongue rimming dry lips. He was going to fuck her so hard she wouldn’t walk straight for a week. He’s almost at the point of clawing those sweet little underthings aside when…

“Lydia Dear….?”

Lydia freezes like a deer in headlights and so does he. The enthusiastic noise immediately ceases, and his eyes go wide. This was better than any scenario he could have imagined - not only was it a horrendous rush to almost get caught by Delia Deetz, she had no idea what he was doing to her poor daughter behind the door. It was pure, hedonistic, sick evil and it flooded his brain with sweet dopamine.

Lydia looks at him like a forlorn, terrified animal ready to panic, and is only met with jade glittering eyes that spoke volumes. No, she would receive no help here. Instead, a purely vile grin splits onto his face and his meaty palm pushes over her mouth, clamping down across her entire face nearly. She was so small under his broad mitts it was easy to do, and he leaned into her ear and whispered, “For old time’s sake, babes,” before leaning back up and gleefully answering Delia in Lydia’s voice.

He once again effortlessly imitated her, throwing her voice. She sounded positively vicious and altogether done with Delia intruding on her. “Worshipping Satan with porn and a vibrator is a loud endeavor , Delia! Now kindly fuck off, I’m busy!”

Just to make sure Lydia isn’t too upset, or at least to distract her from being so, his other hand is now very busily angling his cock against the slick forbidden entrance he’d denied himself for so long. He pushes forward ever so gently, working in just the tip, just to feel her strain and arch silently underneath him. Her muffled struggle is electric to him, as is the warm, living, pulling muscle of her inner parts as it clenches around just the very first inch or so of his dick. He’s shuddering, but the wicked look on his face remains until they’re both sure Delia is long gone. She feels like heaven. His eyes close briefly as he tries to scrape together any semblance of self-control.

Once they are both sure of Delia’s embarrassed departure, he pulls out with an almost angry growl. “Not today babes. Soon.” his hand pulls off her mouth, “I need t’be able to wreck ya without any worry ‘bout the sex Gestapo.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“You are.”

His panting insistence struck deep in her chest, right into the beating, pulsating organ that pumped her blood. It made perfect sense. Such a notion had never occurred to her. Of course, he saw her as a virgin- technicalities aside. She may as well have been compared to him. Despite her used status, he knew everything and she knew nothing. Lydia was reminded of this with sharp clarity every time they tumbled into one of these trysts.

A clammy, meaty palm slapping over the bottom half of her face upon Delia’s intrusion inspired an internal panic, and the downright villainous grin distorting his dark features did nothing to help. Oh, God. Anything could happen now. The jig was up. He was far too riled, too gone in his excitement to behave for her. While she wasn’t paying attention, her grip on the leash had slipped and now the dog was free to run wild.

“Worshipping Satan with porn and a vibrator is a loud endeavor, Delia! Now kindly fuck off, I’m busy!”

Fortunately, it seemed all he was interested in doing was pissing on the neighbor’s doorstep. Thank everything that was good and holy in the universe. That could have been so much worse. He even managed to scare Delia off. In all reality, that wasn’t too far off from what Lydia probably would have said given the freedom to speak, though she likely would have taken a less crude route. The despised redhead really should have been minding her own fucking business. Why was she sticking her upturned nose into Lydia’s affairs instead of working on increasing her valium tolerance? Bitch.

There were more pressing matters to attend to. While he spoke, imitating her voice with obscene perfection, the blunt head of his cock pushed into her, forcing her sleek, tight walls open to accept it. Lydia writhed, sinking teeth into his filthy palm at the overbearing sensations. It was so strange and unusual, but undeniably wonderful. Too much, and yet nowhere near enough. The hand muffling her cries pressed her down punishingly into the cushions- thrilling her, pushing dark and forbidden imagery into the shadowier portions of her brain- while the other fisted his cock in a vice grip right beneath the tip, keeping himself from thrusting all the way home. Slow and overconfident, he jostled it within her, swirling little circles like a brush into paint, as if with the intent to open her further to him. It was torture.

But then, unexpectedly, he withdrew completely, freeing her mouth and collapsing down to growl out an explanation into her neck. Not today. It was disappointing, but knowing what she knew now, Lydia would not push him again. After all, wasn’t it she who insisted that if he was going to seduce her, he would do it properly? Dates and romance and the like? She would let him have his virgin fantasy sans argument. He deserved it.

“Fine,” she pouted, swallowing the pleas that she knew would get her what she wanted. “Just don’t-” she shifted and her clit slid along the smooth flesh of his rigid cock for the first time, absolutely nothing between them. Oh, this was so much better. Lydia would never settle for humping with barriers ever again if this was what she was missing out on. “Don’t stop.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Thank everything she was accepting, though her pouting tore at him just a little. She had no idea how difficult it was to hold himself back. It was a feat Betelgeuse wasn’t just shamelessly having his way with her in the grossest fashion he could imagine right now. Upon begging him to continue, though, he huffs and drags his tongue across her petite earlobe. “Don’t worry sugartits…I won’t leave y'hangin’….” Oh, waitaminnit….she shifts, and oh fuck that was nice.  Even though he wasn’t inside of her, the flesh of her folds was caressing him, enveloping him nonetheless into warm, wet heat. His head nudges her clit and he shudders. That’s real good.

No barrier was definitely better than anything they’d attempted previously and, upon chasing Delia off and reclaiming his prize, Betelgeuse is back to pursuing this at a less frantic pace. This was something that needed exploring, and indulging, and despite his overwhelming hunger he had backed off the peak of the challenge in this tempting situation. He could control this. He shifts their position easily then, pulling Lydia into his lap, tucking her against him so her legs splay out over his hips, rolling hers so that the crux of her heat is pushed against the throbbing ridge of his drooling cock. She can work at him as she likes, now, and he can suck at her tasty, pillowy soft breasts. His tangled mess of hair tickles under her chin, his broad hands wrapping around to grip her perfectly smooth little ass. Each cheek fits into his meaty palms perfectly, nearly, and he squeezes at her hungrily.

“Ride me, baby…show me how much y'wannit….”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Just- mm- just a minute-” Awkward and smooth all at once, she pulled one leg in tight to her chest in order to slip the soaked cotton of her underthings off without having to disengage from his embrace. The stubborn elastic still clung tight around one thigh, but now she wouldn’t have to bother with adjusting them and could free her hands for better endeavors, like scratching his back and tangling in his hair. Patiently, he devoured the hyper-sensitive peaks of her breasts, made so from his previous abuse, and all the other flesh around it.

Meanwhile, her hips twisted in a sweet, fluid rhythm, eager to prove herself to him. She could be sexy. She earned those horns, even though they weren’t currently gracing the top of her head. Slick and easy, she slid up and down, fluctuating pressure as it suited her. One leg worked its way around his back to press her socked foot into the base of his spine, leading him into the dance, while the other hooked around his elbow to hug his bicep. Slim pale arms hugged him tight to her chest, encouraging the beast to feast until he was sated. A soft, flushed cheek found rest on the wiry pillow of his hair while she murmured encouragements. She wanted to make him feel good with words the way he always seemed to do to her. He made it look so easy.

“I want you to fuck me so bad,” she confessed in bolder terms than she ever had before, pulling tight, working his thick cock along her small netherlips, puffy and glossed with precum and her own sap. “But I can wait for you… You’re right… This is better.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Ah. That was better - no more annoying undies to keep trying to move aside. Smart girl. Lydia puts those carefully manicured nails of hers to good use, too, pulling very contented, very aroused noises from him whenever they run along his mossy back or through his disordered hair. He likes that, and if he had the capacity to achieve true goosebumps anymore her attention would have caused them. As it stands, it sends prickles of happy sensation along his skin and scalp. He likes that.

Muffled gruff noises emanate from the depths of the ghoul’s throat into Lydia’s chest as her hips tortuously twist, and dive and rise. His own push upwards, meeting her undulations with his own in careful counter motions, his jade eyes arched upwards to watch her writhe atop him. He hisses as the sensation of that little sock against his back. One of these days, he’s going to do awful things to those adorable feet of hers - just like he promised himself when he first got a real good look at her from head to toe.

He lets go a filthy sort of growl as she murmurs to him, his clawed hands moving around to her hips in order to steady her as his thrusts became more insistent. He responds well to hearing that sort of thing from her apparently. “I’m gettin’ that idea….” he chuckles, making a pleased noise as her cheek tucks into his filthy mass of hair, slurping at her poor, ruddy nipple further, mumbling around it, “But, baby, you ain’t waitin’ for me. I’m waitin’ for you. I coulda done everything to ya way back in that Cave of Convenience or at the movies, or in yer basement, or right now but I think you like….” he moves his snake-like tongue up Lydia’s collarbone, “…. romancth n’ stuffth.”

Betelgeuse retracts the tongue since it makes him sound somewhat ridiculous and he grabs her just a little more fervently. He’s not going to last long like this, but he’s determined to get her there before he does. Not that it particularly matters, he has no refraction period so to speak and he could frottage her all day, he just likes watching her cum. In the meantime, he’s making an absolute mess of her thighs and nether regions - apparently, he is quite the enthusiastic producer. “I wanna do it right for ya sugar. But when we do get there n’ I’ve got you buttered up n’ hot, rrrh… .I’m gonna fuck that tight lil’ pussy of yours till yer screamin’. My juice can keep the party goin’ for days if that’s how hot it makes yeh. All I wanna do is put this big fat cock in you, believe me.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

You could not have, she wanted to argue just to be disagreeable, despite the knowledge that he was absolutely right. He could have had her seven ways from Sunday by now. Still, the truth remained that it was Lydia who was waiting for him, no matter how he saw it. Once upon a time, this was not the case, but things had very quickly changed. All she had to do was tilt her hips just right, beg him to poof them to his coffin, and bam. Problem solved. Marriage consummated. As it was, Lydia wanted him to have the dating experience too. He would never admit it, but he dug the “romance n’ stuff” just as much as she did.

“Whatever you say, Romeo,” she rasped into his hair petulantly, provoking a particularly vicious snarl of dissent, claws digging into her hips unforgivingly, teeth closing around the nipple that currently had his attention. Paired with his filthy, explicit dialogue- would she ever be able to talk like that?- it was enough to push her over the edge. The hand in his hair gripped tight, pushing her breast into the pleasant pain his teeth offered, while the other raked down his back. Were he alive, she would have left marks. Both legs locked tight around him, the muscles rigid and trembling. Painfully aware of her parents’ conscious state, teeth dug into her bottom lip to muffle the sharp, euphoric cry that wanted to escape.

This orgasm seemed somehow more intense than many of her previous ones. It went on longer, dragged out by his precise thrusts, white-hot jolts of straight pleasure shooting from her core throughout her entire body. Still convulsing from the aftershocks, she attempted to pick up the slack she’d dropped mid-peak and get him there too, but she was so weak. Her movements were shaky, not nearly as smooth or refined as they had been just moments ago, and her grip was feeble. She always felt this way after a tumble with him. At least Lydia knew she could count on sleeping well tonight.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Oh she was determined to be a brat, was she! Romeo had better be a nickname that doesn’t stick around, and Betelgeuse lets her know exactly what he thinks about it. He bites her and gets a bit rough with her in response, just enough to sting, and is pleasantly surprised that it pushes her into an orgasmic state. She claws him and he lets go a guttural noise, his head tucking against her chest as she grabs him and rides out her peak as quietly as she can. It was hot as fuck that she had to muffle it – there’s nothing more the ghost enjoys than getting away with something.

This one gets her good, too, it seems, as she’s all sorts of trembling and weak after easing down. He’s probably exhausted her yet again – their romps tend to be a particular kind of white-hot intensity. Betelgeuse isn’t going to let the moment pass though, he takes advantage of her post-orgasmic state to claim his own. It only takes a tiny nudge of his cock with a hand, as she keeps trying to ride him he pushes into her hungrily on the down-stroke. Not too much, and certainly not all the way, just enough to work himself back into her tight, wet confines. She squeezes down on his dick in a sort of surprise, and that’s all it takes – he pushes his face firmly between her breasts to huff out a low, muffled noise, explosively orgasming inside her.

This one’s been building, and his peak is so much more intense than he could have predicted. He’s worked up and she feels like heaven to him. She can feel his cock twitching and pulsing, enthusiastically filling her with quite a large load of cum – eventually, he pulls slowly back out, splattering the insides of her thighs and nether lips with an additional few weak bursts of sticky fluid. Even after all that, he could probably go again…but he’s fairly sure she’s had enough for the evening. He’s thoroughly made a mess of her, at any rate.

After a moment of panting quietly, he admits, “Lyds….for a second I really thought Delia was gonna open that fuckin’ door.” And then he laughs, “Yer so lucky it was me answerin’ and not some talentless hack.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“You could have just let me answer, you bully,” Lydia panted, slumping against him in such a way as to guard her comforter against his mess. Their mess, really, but he was definitely the key contributor. Again, he’d only given her the tip, but it was enough. She was ready to pass out where she lay; nestled in his lap flush against him, his lazily drooling cock tucked safely out of the way, still hard as a velvet-covered rock and jutting against her ass cheek.

Dazed and sated, she snuggled into his neck as his essence continued to drip from her. She was absolutely filthy. A shower or something was in order before she could succumb to sleep the way she wanted to. Briefly, and not for the first time, she worried that he might be capable of impregnating her, but banished the thought as quickly as it came. As he liked to often remind her, he was a dead guy. As delicious as that sperm was, it was dead ectoplasmic goo and it wouldn’t be fertilizing anything. No demonic babies for Lydia, thank you very much.

“I think,” she whispered tiredly after a few moments, squirming in discomfort as the sliminess stopped being hot and started feeling gross, “this is what actually happened to the ‘virgin’ Mary.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse doesn’t answer Lydia’s first accusation. Where was the fun in letting her answer?! She got to torture Delia all the time. It was his turn, he earned it, he decided.

A cigarette was pulled from the ether as it usually was. He was an avid smoker, as none of that could do any damage to him anymore, but the vague sense of habitual comfort it provided was enough. Long ago the nicotine high had worn off its ability for much. But like a casual encourager to bad habits, he easily passes it to Lydia. At her commentary he almost startles, looking down at her with confusion at first.

And then he busts out laughing against her shoulder, trying to stay relatively quiet about it and nearly failing. “I’m fuckin’ makin’ baby Jesus, am I? I’m ready to bring a new Lord n’ Savior into the world babes. Do I get to ride a donkey?!”

He notices her discomfort, and pats her on her soft backside, encouragingly. “Yeah yeah. Shower. You go do that. I’m getting your computer and I get to play 21 questions with these photos Lyds. I saw a clown in there and I know that clown and I wanna know things. Like how he got so up n’ personal with my wife.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Fine, ” Lydia sighed in mock exasperation, crept from his lap carefully so as to keep any mess from dripping onto her blankets, and took it upon herself to retrieve the laptop and type in her password. She knew he was liable to break it in a temperamental fit if she refused him access. It opened right back up to where they were before he decided she needed a spanking; the file explorer showing the folder that held all of her photos from the Neitherworld. There were a little more than two-hundred for him to filter through, so that would keep him busy.

“Don’t delete anything or I’ll be really mad,” she warned, shooting him a stern look before making her departure for the bathroom. Like the closet, the door to that room was left open as well. Cum trickled down her thighs in slow, sticky rivulets with each step, making her walk to the shower rushed and clumsy. It was unfair of him to deny fucking her only to leave her feeling very fucked. Jerk.

“He was a total creep,” she called back over the splash of water hitting porcelain, clearly referring to the clown. “Gave me some line about ‘teaching me to juggle’ and tried to feel me up without even offering to buy me a drink. Bum.” The heavy sound was muted some when she dipped her head under the stream, drenching her sex-mussed mane. Lydia liked her showers hot. Aromatic steam began to drift from the room as she lathered up her loofah and started to scrub.

Well aware of her husband’s explosive jealous streak, she continued on before he had a chance to properly lose his shit. “Don’t worry. He only touched my knee, and Trixie got rid of him before I could punch him in the nose and find out if it was fake or not.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The reading glasses went back on as Betelgeuse clicked through the photos, pleased that Lydia has acquiesced to his weird obsession with her little “trip with brother Donny”. She catches not just one, but a number of photos of Donny giving her quite a look down from his seat in the little beetle. Betelgeuse knows that face all too well. Gross fuck.

“I dunno how to delete anything on here babes,” the ghost replies, distractedly, though he catches her stumble away to the bathroom with some very gooey, glistening inner thighs and smirks evilly from behind her back on the bed. That was a nice little view and satisfied, he went back to rummaging through her photos.

At her description of the clown, he grunts. “I’ve tried punching him before,” he remarks, speaking over the volume of her shower, “don’t do any good, his nose squeaks and he just laughs like it’s funny.” He grumbles, then, “Good on ole Trix. She probably considers it a favor, might come to collect one from ya at some point, be prepared for that. She’s the fuckin’ queen of quid-pro-quo. You think me an’ Donny are bad, that girl is a trip. Also, just so we’re on the same page, I’m going to inflate that clown with the most helium I can find by shovin’ a hose up his ass an’ attach him by his shriveled little dick to a sandworm.”

He hasn’t remarked exactly what plan he has for Donny yet. That usually means it’s serious when he doesn’t have a detailed, precise death or destruction plan for somebody who’s crossed him. He gets to the section with all the Dante’s girls. Most of them are fairly benign, but he catches a few of them with expressions that are …. a little too affectionate towards his wife, too. This he doesn’t voice to Lydia because he’s distracted thinking about her mud-wrestling them in some way and soon forgets about how the girls may not be so thoroughly benign for her to associate with.

Eventually, he seems satisfied enough. He was still going to kill at least two parties involved or torture them, or both. Also, he makes a mental note that Lydia isn’t permitted around the Neitherworld without him….potentially too dangerous. Steam wafts in from the bathroom and he tilts his head up vaguely. Whatever products she uses makes her smell so very alluring, and he has vague imaginings of pouncing on her in the shower. Damn that girl. She’s proving highly addicting.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“He was drunk,” Lydia defended the clown half-heartedly, ringing excess moisture from her hair before stepping out of the shower, patting herself dry, and slipping into her bathrobe. It was long, lightweight, and silken. She loved the way the sleeves billowed. It made her feel like Morticia Addams. Claire would sometimes call her “Morticia”, meaning it as an insult, but in actuality, Lydia could only hope to one day aspire to that level of iconic Gothic beauty. Wet hair coiled into a black towel atop her head, she joined him back on the bed.

“He probably doesn’t even remember. I’m sure you’ve done far worse things while drunk than hitting on a random bar girl.” Lydia didn’t like the idea of the clown meeting a grisly demise simply because he dared to try and score with her. Going forward, she would have to be more selective with her casual savagery to others in front of Betelgeuse. He had proven himself a proud, vengeful being. Clearly, any disrespect or derisions of her person were something that he took personally.

Ordinarily, Lydia would slather her entire body with cocoa butter before going to sleep but was well aware that her husband would only find this provocative, and so stuck to massaging the fragrant, off-white cream onto her legs and thighs.

“Are you staying the night?” She queried offhandedly, admiring his glasses as he gave her photos one last patient look over, curiosity apparently sated. “You can if you want, but fair warning, my alarm goes off at five a.m.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The ghoul simply grunted. She wasn’t wrong, it’s just that this was different. Either Betelgeuse cared the whole way or he didn’t care at all, and that’s how it went with him. He never went halves on anything, and his brand new wife was no exception. Besides, he knew what she didn’t: if he, or Donny, or the Dante’s girls hadn’t been with her, one of the dead would have probably made her theirs in some way or another – and Scuzzo has a bad habit of not respecting any sort of no as an answer. Then again, neither did he, generally. They’d be best of friends, probably, if they weren’t constantly trying to outdo each other. And, in his esteemed opinion, Scuzzo was an asshole.

He gave her a glance over the rims of his glasses, before sliding her laptop closed and whisking them away. “Mm, ‘m gonna stay here till ya fall asleep at least. Any longer and I’m liable t’do things to ya,” he teases, giving her a real good oogle. She looked vampy in that silk robe, and he liked it far too much. It clung to her sweet, youthful curves and dipped between her breasts fashionably. “I’m liable to do ‘em to ya now, too.”

In a breath, he’s in some form of pajamas – similar to the ones he wore while they messed around in his coffin. They too are silk, a sort of maroon number that doesn’t fit him altogether correctly. And just like everything else he wears, they seem sort of oddly out of place and time. “Speakin’ of hot outfits, babes, where’d you get that sexy cobweb number in yer pictures anyway? Donny didn’t have anything to do with that, did he?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The credits were rolling, signifying the end of Freaks, but Lydia went ahead and restarted it knowing full well she was liable to pass out before soaking in any of the plot. She’d have to watch it again when she actually had some energy. For now, it would serve as adequate white noise. A stick of incense- lavender for relaxation- was lit and placed next to the bed and Lydia turned off all the lamps, leaving nothing but the blue light from her television to cast a dim glow about the room.

“No more doing things tonight,” she specified firmly, smirking in a way that said she would very much like to keep doing things, “or I’ll end up sleeping past my alarm.” Lydia wasn’t about to let something as trivial as a sexual relationship drag down her impeccable GPA.

“Hold that thought,” she answered his question without really answering at all. The house was quiet. Delia and her father appeared to be out for the count. Minutes after leaving Betelgeuse alone in her room, she returned with an extremely happy grim trailing behind her. The panting beast immediately hopped up to the foot of her queen-size mattress and settled into sleep, the corners of his jowls upturned in a content dog smile. It was quite obvious that this was not his first time sleeping in her bed.

“Okay,” Lydia finished with a sigh, finally sliding into bed- and her husband’s open arms. The towel that held her hair crumpled to the floor, leaving her still somewhat damp tresses to settle and curl on the pillow and his arm. “Ginger made it for me,” she mumbled tiredly in his chest, heavy eyes already shut. “Made me breakfast, too. I helped them clean up the kitchen. Can we go to the next movie night? Jacques said ‘zey will always be welcoming to me,’” she quoted with a smile, attempting her best French accent. “You have the best roommates.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Lydia, as it turns out, is a gal after his own heart. Countless years he’s spent watching the same show till he fell asleep, or repeated the same movie, just for the white noise. Sometimes, too, being the world’s most eligible bachelor (see: Neitherworld’s most wanted…see: a garbage person no one wanted to get close to…see: gross shlub) was quite lonely, and that was the unspoken-to-anyone remedy he often employed. It was that or take up company with Donny, and he hated Donny. His roommates were a last resort.

As Lydia sweeps gracefully around the room turning off lights and lighting the incense, he watches her. Again, he was transfixed by the way she moved, and the billowing robe did nothing to curtail his intense interest. He grunts, at her dismissal of his overtures. “Alarms. Who needs ‘em?” he waves that away, encouraging further bad behavior on her part. The look she gives him indicates he won’t get anywhere, despite her interest, and he works deeper into her pillows with a huff.

She’s rapidly off, too, to places unknown after that. In the meantime, he attempts to reason with his boner that’s busily straining at the front of his pajamas. You’ll get it later. Knock it off. Go away. Fuck you. You’ve had enough. She’s gonna sleep and you’re gonna settle down, asshole. Nothing works, so he flumps a pillow into his lap in exasperation and waits for Lydia’s return.

Not long and she’s back with that drooling mutt in tow. The dog takes a place at the end of her bed that he’s really too big for and sheepishly gives Betelgeuse the side-eye as if apologizing. The ghoul makes a disapproving noise but relents. Clearly, this is some sort of dog-and-girl bedtime arrangement. Besides, Lydia was wrapping herself up against him and that distracted him from any ill-will burbling in his brain. He wraps his bulky arms around her slight frame, practically enveloping her smaller body as she presses to his chest. He’s a little soft, always, in places, but surprisingly hard muscle lurks underneath and makes for a very restful sort of surface. His chin tucks above her head, and his eyelids droop. She can feel the usual wiry sort of jittery energetic tension leave him, and with a long sigh through his nose, he seems to finally relax.

“Mhm,” Betelgeuse replies and promises himself he’s not going to feel up her very naked thigh underneath her robe. He wants to. Very, very badly. “We can go any movie-night y’want. And you can think that all y’want, too. I’ve lived with ‘em too long. They’re so…. friendly. Eugh. Makes me wanna puke,” she smells good. He tilts his head downwards, huffing a breath into her hair. “They’ve almost ruined my reputation more’n once. And they’ve never cooked me breakfast, either.” Probably because he never once deserved it. He’s never deserved any of their kindness.

Slowly, he squirms a thick thigh between hers, mischievously. He leaves it there, though, unmoving and seems to settle that way. He could get used to this.

Chapter Text


Slowly, carefully, Betelgeuse eased his way from underneath Lydia’s warm slumbering body. She had fallen into a heavy sleep against him, and once he was sure she was well and truly unconscious it was time for him to go. Once he slides off the edge of her bed, Bubby perks his ears quietly and as Betelgeuse moves away he gets up from the end of the bed. The dog slumps down where he used to be, and is immediately cuddled into a spooning position by his exhausted wife. The ghost rolls his eyes – and reaches out to pet both Bubby and Lydia affectionately in farewell.

“I’m tag-teamin’ with a mutt,” he grouses, under his breath as he heads for her vanity, “Stupid dog sees more action than I do.”

The ghost slips through the mirror for old time’s sake – he has a myriad of ways to get back into the Neitherworld but this one is among his favorites. He comes out directly into Donny’s tidy little ice cream shop, vis-à-vis one of the decorative mirrors that line a far wall. It’s silent and empty, but he knows his brother is lurking around here somewhere. He locks the doors with a snap of his fingers and steps forward, falling into a new, horrifying form. His many, many legs ease him up onto the ceiling, and there he waits for his brother.

Whistling, Donny rounds the corner, a large ice cream tub in his arms. He opens the case and works it into place inside, busying himself. The thing on the ceiling shifts, and the prim, tidy ghost suddenly realizes something is amiss. Bright blue eyes scan the parlor, but see nothing.

Betelgeuse drops. His horrifying, many-legged body lands on Donny with all its full weight. He looks like some sort of disgusting cross between a house centipede and a whip scorpion, except he’s the size of a person and his claws are enormous. He has a vaguely humanoid face attached to the front, black, pearly eyes littering his visage, and he hisses, attaching one of the clamping appendages to Donny’s neck in a vice-like grip. His many mandibles clap.  “I gave you eeexxxcppliisssscit innssssstructions, you little sssshit for brainssss!”


A girlish shriek filled the air as the monster dropped from the ceiling to capture its brother in a lethal grip. Acidic drool dripped from its many teeth, burning tiny little holes through the tile.

“B-b-b- big brothah! Y-ya gotta lemme explain- EEEK!” One of the creature’s larger, more viciously sharpened talons drew back to gain momentum only to miss disemboweling its target, crashing into pristine checkered tile instead. Donny popped away at the last second, appearing on the other side of the parlor, knees shaking and holding a tray up in front of his person as some sort of last-ditch defense.

“Ya don’t understand! S'not mah fault, honest! Lil sis is- AAHH!” A shot of pure energy, electric green in color, zoomed across the room, bounced off the tray, and shattered the eye scream display. Rather than skidding across the floor, the resulting shards of glass aimed themselves at the doomed ghoul. In lieu of filleting his squeaky clean flesh, they caught the edges of his uniform and secured him to the wall; a pinned insect ready for dissection.

“She’s a trouble magnet! Y'oughta put a collar on that girl n’ keep her locked up indoors where she can’t get inta nothin’!” The demonic abomination slithered ever closer as his brother pled, murderous intent glazing over its ravenous gaze. A curdling sense of dread tickled Donny’s spine. His brother had never come at him like this before.

“Oh, c'mon, BJ, be reasonable! She’s alright, ain’t she? I didn’t touch a hair on yer lil kitten’s head, promise! She didn’t say I did, did she? If she did, she’s a lyin’ lil-”

The younger Geuse brother was not permitted to finish his sentence.


All of those legs find purchase in the walls, along Donny’s little candy-colored suit, around the pieces of glass that pin him to the wall. His pincers find purchase at Donny’s throat after he attempts to create an imaginary scenario where his wife is a lying little….what? Whore? He was going to get it for that strangled word.

It’s almost impossible for a ghost to truly hurt another ghost, so while this was quite terrifying for Donny it wasn’t as horrific as it would be if he were alive. Still, the intimidation factor is there, and all of Betelgeuse’s mandibles clatter with rage. “You’d like that wouldn’tssss you?” the horrible insect snarls, regarding Donny’s suggestion of a collar and a cage, “Ssssssick little asssssshole. I’m proooobably going to do that at ssssssome point but not on your ssssuggestion and not for the sssssame reasssonnsss.”

Claws that tip the ends of his many horrid legs scrape at the younger ghost’s clothes, his skin, his hair. That acid drool is busily melting his serving tray. His thorax presses heavily against Donny’s front, keeping him well-pinned beyond the shards of glass. “Liissssstteeen caaaarefully. We’ve shhhhared many thingsss, you an’ me. We’ve sssshhaared whoressss, we’ve shhhared a bed when timessss were lonely,” one of his claws drags down the side of Donny’s pale cheek, “But thisssss, little brother….thiiissssss we do not sssshare. I sssssaaaaw the looksssss y’gave herrrrrr.”

He vaguely considers using some sort of ovipositor to lay insect eggs under Donny’s skin to hatch later. He settles on it being far too gruesome for his brother, instead he growls, “I’m going to do the worst thing I can ssssthink to do to you, and thatsssss cutting you off.”

The claws dig into skin as if for emphasis, “No more ffffaamily bussssssinnessss. Nooo more little ssssssister. No more ….family pretendssss.” His body rattles and hisses horribly, like some sort of Madagascar cockroach. “You fucked it up bigtimessss.”

Betelgeuse starts eating Donny’s arm at that juncture. It’s horrific, crunching of bone and flowing acid dissolving his ghostly flesh. If they could feel anything properly like that anymore, it might even hurt. He makes it all the way down to his sibling’s torso before he stops, shudders, and suddenly bursts into a wet green acidic slop with a million little versions of himself scattering to all the dark places in the shop. He is gone, then, it seems. The shards of glass formerly holding poor Donny shattering to the ground all around him. The physical damage was trivial – with a little work everything would be entirely repaired, but the threat remained like stagnant air. Donny would be completely alone on the family front.

The ghost continues on in a surge of an insectoid wave, all of him spilling in a pile of many-legged insects right into the Waiting Room. Like some sort of horrible chittering plague, he sends its denizens scattering to all corners of the place. A good handful of his insectoid selves find purchase crawling up Barb’s legs as they encounter them, all laughing in tiny shrill voices merrily. “Legs, legs,” they all murmur, chortling, eventually swarming up between her and Adam swiftly. The insects congeal into shape, and the shape is a man.

Betelgeuse finally takes up the space between the pair properly, and slings his striped arms around both of them, overly affectionate, chummy, far too happily and sinisterly eager. “Hey - Adam, Legs,” he says, “I missed you two losers. How’s life waiting in line, huh?”    


Adam and Barbara Maitland were moving up the line. Very… very… very… slowly. Watching paint dry would have been more interesting. Unlike their last visit, they were not given the privilege of special treatment. Back then, Betelgeuse was occupying their home uninvited, on the verge of escape, something that the powers that be took into grave consideration. Therefore, they were rushed right through. Favors for the living, however, had only earned the Maitlands upturned noses and snotty looks.

Fortunately- or unfortunately, depending on the perspective- the deceased couple had plenty to discuss while waiting.

“This is our fault, isn’t it, Adam?” Barbara had whispered in desperation she didn’t know how long ago. The only answer she received was a despondent frown, a loving brush of her copious curls, and a kiss to the forehead. If Adam had anything to comfort his wife, he would have given it, but there were no mercies in the Waiting Room. Time was their mistress and she was a cruel bitch. Knowing full well that there was nothing to be gained from it, Barbara watched the clock on the wall until she was certain she could actually see the frozen arms moving. They must have been. Had to be. The hour wasn’t the same as when they arrived.

A ghoul who arrived after them was shuffled through the door. Adam glared behind his specs, getting the distinct feeling that they were being punished for something. Maybe this is Hell, he wanted to comment in a twisted echo of more sappy phrases he’d uttered before, but didn’t. Barbara was torturing herself just fine without his help.

Suddenly, there was a break in the monotony. While other spirits screeched and scrambled, the Maitlands sat frozen. Rage rather than fear kept them glued to their seats. They recognized that energy. It was unmistakable. They knew who they were dealing with before hearing that detestable scratching voice, seeing those vomit-inducing stripes. Betelgeuse.

“MONSTER!” Barbara attacked, wrapping manicured fingers around his grimy neck and wringing with all her strength. “Evil, slimy, son of a BITCH!” Adam would have been giving the poltergeist his best right hook if he weren’t terrified for his wife’s safety. Her choking didn’t appear to be getting her anywhere. Betelgeuse remained just as dead as always. “LET GO OF ME, ADAM, I’M GOING TO CASTRATE HIM!”

“Quiet down out there,” Miss Argentina chided lightly, rolling her eyes, and then shut the partition, still mumbling to herself. “Can’t a girl get a little shut-eye? Sheesh.”


There were hands around his neck in an instant. Feminine, soft hands. Strangling him. Oh Barb, never change. Betelgeuse laughs gleefully at her threats, wildly excited, kicking his legs and making an over-exaggerated strangling noise for her benefit. Eventually, he just detaches his head, causing her hands to slip directly between the space left behind as they’re chided by Miss Argentina.

“Woah woah, alright, there killer. You can’t cut my dick off, I save that for every other Tuesday and we’re on an off-Tuesday,” he says, escaping from between the two of them since it seems they intend quite a lot of violence towards him and that’s going to waste a lot of time – even though it’s sort of sexy. He re-attaches his head with a gross crunch.

“I know why you’re both here okay?” he adds, “Little woman told me aaaaallll about it. Hard as it is to believe, I’m here to help y’out. Only person that can get you out of this waiting room and on your way before…,” he checks his watch and lights a cigarette, “….the end of eternity is me. And really, is this any way to treat your adoptive son-in-law, legs? This is hell. You guys want out, don’tcha?”


That he had been able to get Lydia to trust him enough to send him on as delicate a mission as this spoke horrible volumes. A gag built up in Barbara’s throat, stomach acid she didn’t know she still had working to fight its way out. Adam stood behind her, his grip on her biceps- insurance in case she flew off the handle again- growing painfully tight.

Adoptive son-in-law. “You are vile ,” Mrs. Maitland spat, shaking with disgust. “To take advantage of a grieving child is… is lower than low. You’d better hope that this is really the end. I wouldn’t want to see anything that any kind of higher power might have planned for you.”

“Barb,” her husband’s firm tone cut off her impassioned rant before she could lose herself in it. Generally the calmer and more collected of the couple, Mr. Maitland was able to see that it might not be a great idea to hurl insults and threats at the filthy ghoul, no matter how much he deserved them. “Maybe- just maybe- we should consider accepting his help-”

Barbara gasped, overcome with shock and horror. “Adam-!”

“Hear me out,” he murmured low, drawing his wife away just a few feet in a futile attempt at constructing a barrier for privacy. “ Lydia sent him- and he went! He must be… bound to her in some way- I know, honey, it makes me sick, too- but just think about it.” Comprehension darkened Barbara’s eyes. The poltergeist couldn’t do anything too horrible to them or Lydia wouldn’t like it, which apparently mattered to him for some perverse reason.

“Fine,” Mrs. Maitland practically snarled, turning her back on her husband to face Betelgeuse once more, curls whipping in her fervor. At the moment, she closely resembled a mother lioness growling down at the filthy, soon-to-be-dead hyena that dared threaten her cub. “But if you think you’re about to do this alone, you’ve got another thing coming. Adam and I aren’t going anywhere.”


“Don’t worry Barb, this is Hell,” replied the ghoul with sudden, cruel honesty, a perverse frankness to his tone. Then he adds, with a quirked smile, “Yer hot when you’re pissed though, anyone ever tell you that?”

As Adam actually sides with him, his eyebrows shoot up on his forehead. Maybe that whole simpatico thing got to him eventually, or maybe he’s just seeing the light. The ghoul paces around them, slowly, cigarette dangling from his lips. Adam pulls Barb away, and he hangs back – he can hear them loud and clear from right where he stands. Adam’s reasoning, though, makes him nearly choke on an inhale of smoke. They think she’s the one in charge, do they? Hilarious.

Whatever Adam’s stupid thinking, it does have the nice effect of making Barb agree with it. Chalk one up to the prick. As Barb whips around with froth practically at the corners of her mouth, the ghost holds up both grimy hands plaintively.

“Listen, legs, whatever gets me out of here with you stiffs and back to hot tit—ehm, Lydia, okay?” he sniffs, and wipes an arm disgustingly under his nose, “My wife? She called me back, it was real sweet. Mighta sent you on this fool’s errand just to do the deed while you were gone. Anyway, let’s find yer Russian likhoradka huh?”

He crooks a finger at them both and leads them to the door to the office. Opening it, Miss Argentina begins a protest before realizing it’s him, the Maitlands in tow.

“Juno’s not gonna like this,” is all she remarks, “There’s an order.”

“Junebug can suck every inch of my cock. She owes me,” is all that is snarled to her in return. Miss Argentina shrugs, and goes right back to passive-aggressively filing her nails.

The ghoul leads Adam and Barb past all the desks, the skeletons and other workers, down the side corridor and kicks Juno’s door open with a boot unceremoniously. CRUNCH.

The caseworker inside startles, glaring at all three of them with molten fury. She jabs a long-nailed old forefinger at all three of them in a direct gesture.

“You’d better tell me what you’re here for in three seconds or less, or I’m gonna tear someone’s testicles off with my teeth,” this time, Juno means it. Betelgeuse seems to sense that she means such strict business, and without further ado, he pulls a wrinkled scrap of paper from his pocket. He reads off Lydia’s mother’s full name, which he scrawled down at one point or another.

“Twenty-fifth desk from the back. Filing section. She’s still acclimating. Sad case. Now get lost,” Juno snarls, leaning over her desk, “And don’t fuck with my employees too much! I don’t want any bullshit from you or them, B!”

As he leads the Maitlands back out, Juno growls to herself. “Working together – unbelievable, first they let him out, then they banish him, then they let him marry their daughter, they want her parents out, then they want her parents in—-nearly got us all discovered—“ the door slams shut loudly behind them all.

“Well, you heard the woman. C’mon,” Betelgeuse once again leads them back out, into the main portion of the office space. He leads them past rows and rows and rows of desks, endless workers, endless typewriters, paperwork, perpetual exhaustion. The ‘filing section’ is just that. Tall filing cabinets, rows of them, that seem to disappear in height into a foggy ceiling. The hanging bodies or ones that can hang from the track system access the highest drawers. At the bottom though, are the desks and the workers. Most are steadfastly working.

Betelgeuse sees her far before the Maitlands do. She looks just like his Lydia, but….an older, ruined shell. Misery hangs around her like a shroud, he can almost viscerally feel it even some distance away from where he and the other ghosts stand. Something horrible clenches in his chest, and twists his gut. He leads them onwards, towards the woman’s desk grimly. “I think….” He says, pausing a number of feet away from her, as if unable to get much closer. The resemblance is tragic. He suddenly has the urge to disappear far from this office. “…that’s gonna be her, yeah….”


“She called me back.”

Liar! The accusation ached to ring through the air, but nevertheless could not. What did they know? How long had they even been gone? Betelgeuse was gifted in the art of deception, but he had no reason to lie here. He had already won. The brassy golden band on his ring finger said so. The realization seemed to hit Mr. and Mrs. Maitland at precisely the same time, and they shared a hollow, guilty stare.

In seething silence, they followed behind the monstrous ghoul as he bullied his way past Miss Argentina. There was no smug satisfaction at getting a “cut in line” to be found for Adam or Barbara. The ghostly couple allowed themselves to be crudely ushered through Juno’s office and back through the perpetual sea of civil servants. Eventually, their foul chaperone slowed to a halt, shadowy gaze locked on one raven-haired laborer in particular.

Betelgeuse’s feet appeared to be cemented to the aisle, keeping him a fair distance away from Lydia’s grim doppelganger of a mother. The job was done. They checked, and Natalya was here. No need to speak to the woman. The Maitlands were of a foolish, opposite frame of mind, it seemed. They approached her desk, said nothing, and received no reaction in return. The pale, faded beauty only stared off into space, slumped limply in her chair, tiny, bony hands idly resting on her dusty keyboard.

“Natalya?” Barbara dared to whisper, gasping horribly when this made the woman’s frozen facade falter. Once, slowly, she blinked. Then, her icy, milked over eyes settled on the one who spoke her name.

“You know me?” She rasped in a heavily accented, eerily familiar voice. Albeit Natalya’s was huskier and devoid of life, there was no mistaking the resemblance it bore to her daughter’s. “I do not know you.”

“No, no,” Mrs. Maitland corrected, grasping her husband’s hand tight, “We don’t know you… exactly. We’re… friends of your daughter’s. Of Lydia.” Here, there was an expectant pause.

“Lydia,” said girl’s mother sighed lovingly, the name rolling off her tongue in a musical way. For a brief moment, life gleamed over that dead gaze and dark blue lips curled into the tiniest of smiles. But then all was as before and the hollow doll was staring right through them again, facial muscles slack. “I do not know any… Lydia’s… You stay…? Keep me company…? It is so lonely here.” For the first time, those hollow eyes looked past the Maitlands, sharply catching Betelgeuse’s during one of the scant few seconds he’d brought himself to actually look at her. “And you, pretty green eyes…? I love a man with green eyes… You stay with me…?” Something dark and sensual was murmured in her native tongue before she reverted to English.

“I know I will miss you when you are gone.”


As those ghostly, dead eyes catch his dark ones, the ghoul actually physically shudders. It isn’t at all often that anything affects him anymore, his blackened heart shriveled to tragedies like this long ago. Dead people looked dead – but that sad, sallow face and the latescent gaze that was a shadow of an older Lydia made horrid things churn in his own corpsey shell. He doesn’t like it when she talks, either, her voice is a dead ringer for his wife, and as she addresses him there’s a large part of him that wants to simply abandon the entire ordeal, disappear and never return.

Of course, Natalya doesn’t remember her daughter. These clean freaks and a hopeful teenager wouldn’t know the grip of a deep drug lifestyle if it spat on them. Steeling himself to keep up appearances, the ghoul pointed at himself in faux-surprise.

“Who, me?” Betelgeuse ambled forward, then, every part of his mind resisting in order to lean right into Natalya’s dead, broken visage. “No, pretty likhoradka,” he replies with faked regret, wishing he could banish her appearance from him, “I can’t stay here with you.” He strokes a thumb across her cheek, horrified to discover her skin was still soft, so disgustingly familiar, “I’d break yer heart. Maybe if things had been different, you and I woulda gotten on famously.”

His expression tries its best to be suggestive, but once he turns away towards the Maitlands it falters. They might catch it, but he pushes past them with a mumbled, brisk, “’Scuse me.”

As they continue to try to hopelessly jog Natalya’s memory, or stand there in awkward silence, the ghost wanders purposefully a short distance away. Barb and Adam watch after him, perplexed, as Barb takes Adam’s hand for comfort. There, in the strange dim green light of the office, Betelgeuse encounters someone he seems to know – a pretty blonde, youthful, in a tidy suit jacket and short skirt sitting behind one of the desks. Happily, once he says a few words to her she embraces him.

“Is he seriously leaving us with Natalya to—to—-“ Barb starts to stutter to Adam. “ Flirt…?! Unconscionable. Monster—“

Betelgeuse brings the blond out from behind her desk, leading her back towards the Maitlands. They can see now that there’s a small wound in one of her cheeks, and as she turns at one point it’s quite obvious that the entire back of her head appears to be blown away. Her golden ringlets cover some of this horrific disfigurement from the front, but it is plain as day from any other angle.

Barb seems ready to fire off at him again once they return and reach Natalya’s desk, but the ghoul simply raises an irritated finger at her. So shockingly silent and angry is the ghost that it stifles Barb in surprise, who watches him with wide, appalled eyes and a gaping mouth. Adam quietly looks on, the muscles in his neck stiff.

Betelgeuse introduces the blond and Natalya, rushing on about co-workers and Natalya being new. The blond seems to have a motherly disposition, and a large amount of sweet, sincere patience. She hunkers down by Natalya’s desk and appears to have a mission now, taking one of her pale, barely responsive hands in her own. As they connect, Betelgeuse sullenly returns to the Maitlands and dryly grunts, “Let’s go.”

“Who was that?” Barb asks, after glancing at Adam.

“You knew that girl?” her husband added.

“That was nobody, and no,” came the very dark reply over his shoulder as he leads them away, said a tone they hadn’t ever heard from Betelgeuse before. It seemed to quiet them – they had seen him furious, jovial, lascivious and a wide range of other emotions, but not this one.

In a swirl of paper and a rush of air, the ghost pulls them along with him out of the office. Stray papers come with their transition and scatter along the wooden floor of their home which they suddenly find themselves re-occupying. Betelgeuse has put them all right in front of the dining room. There was no need for him to hide any longer, the proverbial cat was entirely out of the bag.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

It was terribly difficult for Lydia to swallow the urge to call her husband in the days that passed. She knew what he was doing. He warned her it would take awhile. She should have gotten a more specific time from him before he left, not that he would have given her one. Still, she had grown accustomed to his presence, spoiled by how easy it was to call him to her side. At least Bubby stuck around to keep her company.

The watch he gave her was useless. Lydia had replaced the fractured frame, polished the tarnished silver, treated the cracked leather, and carefully inserted new notches in the band so that it could fit on her smaller wrist. While it offered no frame of reference for when he might return, there was a slight comfort to be found whenever she found her gaze wandering toward it. It was nice to be on his time, even though she wasn’t. Not really. The arms moved erratically, never when she was watching them, and never in a pattern that made any sense. One school day, the hour hand moved a whopping three hours. Contrarily, it once took an entire forty-eight hours for fifteen minutes to pass.

Three days into her boycott from the kitchen, Lydia took pity on Delia and her father, when watching them survive on pizza and ramen became sadder than it was hilarious. Besides, she liked cooking. Friday morning, one week to the day since she last saw her husband, she put a fat, marinated cut of pork in the oven to roast on low before biking off to school. By the time she returned and finished any given homework, the mouthwatering aroma filled every corner of every room of the house. Generous and attentive, Lydia loaded up three plates with tender meat, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cornbread before slathering it all in gravy made from the pork juices. Barbara hadn’t left her behind with nothing.

“Well?” She sniped haughtily over her shoulder while setting the table, having sensed Delia peaking around the corner hungrily. “Go get father. Dinner’s served.”

It was in the middle of this silent, awkward meal that Betelgeuse chose to reappear with Mr. and Mrs. Maitland. In plain sight. Three feet from the dining room table. Lydia froze midchew, noticing all three of them before either of the Deetzes. Before she could even think to make any kind of discrete “shoo, go away” motions, her father looked up from his plate. His tan skin grew very, very red and he very nearly choked on the hunk of meat he was chewing. Delia, discerning that something was off, turned in her seat, only to scream out loud once her crystal blue eyes took in the source of the disturbance.

Chaos was immediate. Betelgeuse didn’t even have to pour gasoline over this fire, though it would have been so easy to do so. “What are you doing with him?!” Her father yelled accusingly, silverware clattering to the floor as he stomped from the table.

Lydia sent him,” Adam stepped forward, taking a fierce offensive position between Charles and his wife. “Why didn’t you know that she’s been seeing him-?”

“- That they’re married! That she called him back!” Barbara cut in, unleashing all of her pent-up fury on the Deetzes, who for all intents and purposes had let this happen.

“That’s not true!” Delia denied, brows furrowed, shaking her head. “Lydia has a boyfriend. Lydia, tell them, dear,” she implored sweetly, somewhat desperately, needing to hear it out loud. “Tell them that’s not true.”

Lydia shrunk further into the wall she had slunk against in the midst of all the yelling. She swallowed, panicked gaze fluttering rapidly between all parents- living and deceased- who had dropped all bickering in favor of getting an explanation out of her. She knew better than to look to Betelgeuse for help here. He was getting off on this. He relished in their misery, hers hopefully to a lesser extent than the others.

The room was getting smaller. There were too many eyes on her. Unable to answer Delia’s questions in a way that wouldn’t end in more shouting, Lydia deflected, breaths growing noticeably sharper. “My mother,” she gasped suddenly, snapping attention to Barbara, “did you see my mother?”

Mrs. Maitland’s open mouth closed. Chocolate eyes glazed over painfully and the girl was granted the slightest of nods. Something inside of Lydia broke. Her gaze grew unfocused but did not glisten over, and her distressed countenance was freed from all emotion. Whether or not she was even listening anymore was indiscernible.

“Who cares about that- that junkie slut?!” Delia finally snapped, frazzled red hair standing on end as her pleasant facade deteriorated. “We have bigger problems to worry about! Like him!” Forgetting herself, the puny mortal stepmother dared to point Betelgeuse down with a navy acrylic nail, like she was pointing out a particularly interesting mess on the floor. “Are you trying to tell me that he’s been lurking around my house for weeks because that psychotic little brat couldn’t just find herself a normal boyfriend?!” It was Delia’s turn to foam at the mouth. Whether the somber, grief-stricken Lydia was stung by her callousness remained unclear. “Charles!” She screeched, near ripping her fiery hair out. “Do something about this!”

Like a faithful lapdog, Charles sprung to action. “You need to go back and chat with that social worker of yours and straighten this crap out right this second!”

“Who do you think you are, Deetz?” Adam clapped back, unwilling to let his wife take the reigns against the rival paternal figure. She seemed happy enough to snipe with Delia regarding the woman’s unkind phrasing. “We don’t answer to you. No matter how very badly we would like to, we can’t fix this! It doesn’t work that way! The real question is how did you let this happen? Under your nose, under your roof!” Charles gaped, mouth opening and closing several times. “Are you truly just that irresponsible?”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The only thing that eases Betelgeuse’s ragingly bad mood is the return to the house, and the slow, delicious reaction from both of Lydia’s parents to seeing him.

He doesn’t even have to say anything before the Maitlands and the Deetzes laid directly into each other like a bunch of rabid animals over him and Lydia. At one point in the conversation, he slinks around behind Barb and Adam, leaning in between them for a quick jab, unable to resist, “See, if you woulda just let me do my job… ” tauntingly, before ducking back into the strange shadowed lighting of the dining room.

As Delia points a finger at him the ghoul merely adjusts his filthy tie, sniffing. He was absolutely getting off on her anger, vitriolic, delicious. A moldy hand slides down to the front of his pants and he squeezes there once, lightly, making a face that indicates he is very pleased as if this situation was a sexual fine wine. As she turns on Lydia, though, the ghoul’s expression darkens. She can be just as vicious as her step-daughter, as it turns out – psychotic little brat? Yikes.

They continue to bicker, and the ghoul rocks on his heels briefly, before glancing over at Lydia. She wears an emotionless mask as she continues to sit in her chair, not looking at anyone, clearly not taking in any of the surrounding chaos. He frowns. That’s not good.

“And YOU!” comes the roar from Barbara Maitland, finally, pointing at Betelgeuse herself, getting up in his face with a few short angry strides. “That whole scene in the waiting room weeks ago with Lydia, where you just had to show off your sick little game!”

She slaps him.

The room goes quiet, expecting some sort of explosive response and Betelgeuse blinks slowly. “I didn’t think I could get more aroused Barb, but y’just did it.”

Adam has to hold Barb off as she threatens to kill the ghoul all over again but he’s also yelling. Barb almost knocks Adam’s glasses off with her furious flailing. Delia is still enraged at the both of them, and Charles has switched from trying to take out his rage on Adam into trying to calm down his wife. Charles suddenly seems to have a realization himself, however, because Betelgeuse has taken a moment to turn to him slowly out of the chaos and give him a big, fat comedic wink.

“That….the…. dream— “ he stutters, suddenly having to hang onto Delia’s shoulder, the air fully sucked out of his lungs. “That means—-“

Betelgeuse licks his lips slowly, evilly.

“Charles—what in god’s name are you talking about?” Huffs Delia, enraged, before pointing at him, eyes wide, “Wait - you’ve had a dream about him too?”

They both stare at him, horrified, twin pairs of eyes as wide as saucers – and both of them hanging off each other pitifully. Betelgeuse lights a cigarette.

The chaos immediately resumes. Charles is trying to leap across the dining room table towards the ghost, his face redder than ever and he’s threatening the ghoul with death now, too. Delia finally turns to her mute daughter fiercely.

“Is it true? You’re …. You called him? You’re…’re….”

Betelgeuse answers for Lydia, lifting his finger into the air to show off the glittering gold band.

“Deed’s done, Deetz,” he says, eventually leaning against the wall Lydia is trying to disappear against, “None of you can send me back, no more three names bullshit. I’m free. All thanks to your precious little daughter.”

His hand extends outwards to the shrinking girl as if to check on her, maybe. He’s aching to touch her, to feel her soft warmth, to erase the horrific memory of her mother’s skin on his fingers. He almost sighs as his thumb travels her sweet, youthful cheek but he stifles it, instead letting twin jets of cigarette smoke out his nose. Lydia doesn’t respond to him, exactly, but one of her eyes flinch just enough to indicate she felt it. Barb can’t stand it – she bristles instantly, her voice breathless and stern.

“Oh no you don’t! You don’t get to — you keep your filthy paws off her! You don’t get to touch her like that! For one, she’s sixteen, for two, you can’t. I forbid it! This is still my house and what I say goes!”

Charles suddenly looks grim, and he glances at Barb, sinking into a chair.

“I think he already has touched her, Barb,” he says, voice hoarse, defeated.

They turn on Lydia then. Three of them, interrogating her in turn, with Charles pleading with her to tell the truth. Instead of answering any of them, however, her face simply crumples. Not a tear streams from her eyes, but she quietly and quickly removes herself from the dining room, pushing past Betelgeuse, and flees up the stairs without as much as a word to any of them.

The pair of parents instantly turn right back on each other in her absence instead of even attempting to stop her. Bored now, and clearly acknowledging none of them really were interested in either comforting Lydia or helping her, the ghost slips away behind the arguing, furious couples and floats lazily up through their living room ceiling.

He phases through it and emerges into Lydia’s bathtub. He adjusts his suit and steps out of it, moving to the door frame that leads into her room and leaning there, stopping at the threshold. He’s silent, for once, intending to take in her current state before deciding on his next move.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The beetle blanket, which Lydia had snuggled with every night since it was given to her, was left pointedly folded at the foot of her bed- the only indication that she was at all upset with him. Her face burrowed instead inside one of her cushier pillows, the fluffy fibers sucking in her deep, shuddering breaths. Everything hurt. She was so stupid. How could she have dreamed that would have gone any better than it did? Of course Mother killed herself. Anyone would have in her shoes, except perhaps those few privy to the secrets of the afterlife. This was the end for her. There was no hope. If there was any way out, Betelgeuse would have said something by now.

… would he?

He didn’t love her. He couldn’t. That much was abundantly clear to Lydia, more so now than ever. Love was nothing more than a silly word he slipped into conversation because he knew it would make her feel special and warm. She was just a stupid little girl with stupid little dreams. He used her because it was easy… and she liked it. His love may have been unattainable, but his lust and attention were not. Lydia would accept the latter and learn to find a way to resign herself to the former.

For now, however, she wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

“Thank you,” she concluded numbly after several minutes of silence. She didn’t need to look to know that he was there. For retrieving Adam and Barbara. For speeding up the process. For checking on my junkie slut mother. All the reasons choked on their way up. “I would like to be alone now, please.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Yeah,” the ghoul replies from the doorway in reply to her wanting to be alone, “I know.”

That’s all he says for a beat, and then he adds, “Look, Lydia….babes….I’m sorry.” He’s not good at this. He’s better than her father, maybe, but this is still not in his ball-field. He moves from the doorway and takes a few steps into her room, moving to sit opposite her on the edge of her bed. His back faces her, and he hunches there. He smokes and seems to work out what to say to her.

“I don’t like Barb and Adam and I’m not gonna pretend I do, first. Making them upset makes me happy, and the only collateral is you, and I hate that but it clearly doesn’t fuckin’ stop me. Second, your mom is …. where she is, she’s in the office. She sounds and looks exactly like you if you had wound up there, and I gotta tell you, that’s fucking traumatic.”

He pauses, again, “But it isn’t about me, anyway. Look, Lyds, you’re an amazing, beautiful, wonderful girl. I’m not that. I’m …. I tricked ya into almost marrying me the first time. I was a lucky, stupid asshole the second time because you were guilty enough and good enough to come back for me. And, ‘cause I am who I am, I’ve been generous enough to fuck it up every possible chance I get. But I wasn’t lyin’ about ….I mean, those sketches…. what I feel about you is real.”

There’s a pause, and Betelgeuse twists to look at her vaguely over a shoulder. “I’m sorry I can’t be your Prince Charming, babes. I missed ya all week. I’m a bum. Please talk to me?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I’m not mad at you,” Lydia imparted lifelessly, just as hollow as before, in an attempt to ease his hurt feelings. She wasn’t mad at him. She simply didn’t have the emotional capacity or mental fortitude required to attempt sorting the truth from the lies. “I missed you too.” Another truth. Lydia could only deal in precise facts at the moment. The marks and bruises that mapped out his affection had all but faded. If it weren’t for his trinkets littering her room, she might have questioned whether their adventures had even happened. Luckily, her sanity appeared to be remaining mostly intact.

Talking was hard. Thinking hurt. Lydia would have loved nothing more than to curl up into a ball in the shadiest corner of her darkroom and die. Death wouldn’t free her from these feelings, she knew, but it was still a comforting thought.

“I’m not-” Her voice wavered, threatening to unleash a suffocating onslaught of tears. “I’m not good at talking right now,” she was finally able to choke out into her pillow without shedding any droplets of moisture. Even in the depths of her misery, Lydia couldn’t bear seeing him so downtrodden. In concession, she summoned the strength necessary to turn until she was facing him, face still buried in the cushion. A tiny, pale hand crawled forward, only to slump and die listlessly at the halfway point between them. Close enough for him to grab if he wished. Maybe that would make him feel better.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse watches Lydia’s hand do its best to reach him. Ode to a Miserable Teenager – the poor thing dies halfway across, and she and it lie there limply. It was a peace offering, he knew, and it took considerable effort on her behalf clearly.

But, for the ghoul, it just wasn’t enough. He hitches his legs up into the bed and with a weighty motion he bodily collapses next to her, dragging her into his arms in a sweeping grab. He pulls her so that her face is buried into his suit jacket instead of her pillow, his bulky striped arms gathering her up to him, his chin tucking over the top of her head. He smells like the usual – cigarettes and must, and his own unique scent.

He breathes out, long and slow, despite not having to breathe at all. She can feel him relax around her and sort of melt against her slight frame, like a lion curling around a precious lamb.

“I think its movie night, in the Neitherworld, if you want to fuck off from here n’ go get fucked up with some better stiffs. N’ not think for a while.”

Usually seems to help him when he can’t process correctly. Drinking. Drinking still gives him the satisfaction it always has. He drags his fingers through her impossibly long, silken hair and gives her a suddenly tight squeeze. He’s glad, for once, that although she doesn’t know it – the office, the Neitherworld, they’ll never truly have her, not like her mother. No, this one’s mine, and mine alone.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

When he first grabbed her up, Lydia stiffened, torn between slapping him and surrendering to his heavy embrace, eventually settling on the latter. It was easier to just let him comfort her. All the nasty voices in her head- calling her stupid and worthless, calling him a womanizing liar- were at the moment silenced. She missed him so much, and he was so strong and solid. He could carry her burden. Maybe it made her weak, but Lydia was in too much pain to care. There were worse things in the world than weakness.

So, ever his trusting, gullible prey, she sunk into him as he squeezed her tight; thighs wrapped around his middle straddling, arms and face squirmed beneath his jacket. Frail hands remained curled and feeble atop his button up, not gripping anything. Tears had yet to fall, but Lydia knew it was only a matter of time. Deep lungfuls of his familiar scent helped to center her somewhat, yet her mind was still a confusing jumble of derogatory accusations- most of which were aimed at herself- and half-assed plans for the future. What to do now ? Everyone knew- not that Lydia had tried all that hard to hide her relationship, high on idiotic rebellious pride.  

“Ok,” she acquiesced once more to his whims, even though she really didn’t want to see, talk, or be around anyone, him included. However, even the slimiest, sleaziest denizens of the Neitherworld had always been kind to her at the very least. She had yet to have a cruel word or disgusted sneer aimed her way down there. Jacques and Ginger would be nice to her. They wouldn’t judge her or hound her for explanations, demand to know what the fuck was wrong with her because something obviously was. They would just be happy to see her and that sounded nice.

If there was any justice in the world, she would end up sobbing over her clueless husband later that night, drunk and incoherent. He deserved it.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

The voices in Lydia’s brain were correct on one thing: he was absolutely a womanizing liar, and an enthusiastic one at that. As she tucked in close, her thighs enclosing his middle, her face disappearing past the lapels of his jacket, her little hands coiled against his chest, he squirmed to meet her affection. He wasn’t lying about anything he just said to her, of course, and her sweet deep breathing, her warmth, her soft, pliant body were like a drug – he was instantly soothed even if she was not exactly. Warmth pooled between this thighs, however, at being so closely entwined with Lydia, the ghoul grimacing as puerile thoughts intruded on him. Despite their insistence, he refused to act on them, simply running his long grubby nails and fingers through her hair slowly.

As she acquiesced to his suggestion, he knew from her tone that nothing at the moment would really make her alright, or happy, or feel better. This was a salve, a distraction, and an effort to get her far away from an overtly hostile environment….and to reclaim her, on a selfish level, back to his own lair where no one was going to call into question his motives. With a little twist of a free hand, the politely folded beetle blanket magically unfolded and pulled over her, and a little over half of himself. A marked sign of rejection leaving it in such a way, he refused to let it continue on – she was stuck with him and she seemed to know it.

With a snap of his fingers, they bodily moved from her bed to his Neitherworld couch in a blink, landing them both softly on its solid surface. Fortunately for them, at that very moment, Jacques was happily occupying his own stately chair that Betelgeuse had gotten him. It doesn’t stop the skeleton from remarking in frightened surprise at their appearance, and to see them pressed to each other underneath the blanket in such a way Jacques politely averts his eyes very suddenly with another exclamation.

“Calm down,” the ghost grunts, unapologetically. “You needa relax, Jacques.”

“IS THAT MISS LYDIA WIT HIM,” comes a yell from the kitchen, clearly Ginger, “OR IS IT JUST STINK BREATH?!”

Jacques, still refusing to look at the pair out of some sort of concept of propriety calls back, “It is zem both!”


Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Hello,” Lydia greeted politely, as loudly as she could muster given the circumstances. She hoped Ginger could hear her over the hum of the television and clatter of kitchen noises. There was an immediate weight gone from her chest now that she was far, far away from the demanding voices of reason in her life. No one would come for her here. She was safe. The hard conversations could wait.

“Oh, honey, I’ve gotta tell ya,” Ginger continued boisterously calling from the other room, still ignorant that anything was amiss, “it’s so much easier navigatin’ this kitchen since you organized the cabinets. Can’t thank ya enough, honestly.” Still gushing, the spider emerged through the doorway with three steaming mugs of creepy cocoa curled up in her long, hairy arms. Apparently, Betelgeuse had long ago been deemed unworthy of partaking in Ginger’s movie night treats. Lydia promptly crawled off of her husband to the opposite end of the couch, sitting up with the blanket wrapped around her shoulders to accept her mug. She wasn’t so far gone in her misery that manners had left her.

“Thank you,” she managed to speak once more, even going as far as to gift the spider with a hollow little smile to show her gratitude. “Creepy Cocoa” was somewhat thicker than normal hot cocoa, darker in color, and the mini marshmallows were shaped like bats and jack-o-lanterns. After taking her first sip, Lydia decided that she never wanted regular cocoa ever again. Its warmth seeped deep down into her bones, and the rich sweet taste distracted her from the all the things that were so terribly, horribly wrong. Before she could take another greedy gulp, a striped arm slipped over her shoulders. A flask full of something dark and strong was tipped over into her mug, filling it back up to the lip in compensation for the sip she’d already taken.

“BeeJay!” Ginger about threw a fit, scowling furiously, her pink little head practically turning magenta. “You’re gonna ruin it! Now it’ll taste all wrong!”

“It’s still good,” Lydia assured, half-heartedly defending her husband’s actions- and yet not. And it was still good. The heat that bubbled in her middle from sipping down the steaming sludge was now making its way to her head, which was just lovely.

“Is something wrong, Miss Lydia?” Jacques finally seemed to pick up on her solemnity. The question distracted Ginger from her petty grievance, the wrinkle in her brow twisting from outrage into concern.

“Wanna talk about it, gorgeous? If ya want, we can go in my room n’ these boneheads-” the way she winked at Jacques made it clear that this was just friendly ribbing, “- can stay out here n’ talk ‘bout stupid boy stuff. Oh, I know, I could make ya anothuh outfit! You make such a good model. Would ya like that, sugah?”

Those were entirely too many questions for Lydia to attempt answering. Eyes wide, she shrunk under the blanket, mug clutched tight to her chest. This was a bad idea. I should have stuck to my gut instinct and curled up to die in my darkroom.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse had indeed been banned from Ginger’s movie treats long ago for being absolutely disgusted with them too many times. The spider is a talented arachnid in the kitchen, and Betelgeuse eats insects. She does, however, with one additional arm pass the awful ghoul his “chum bucket” of horrific living edibles that he kept in the fridge. Maybe it’s to keep him quiet, or maybe she’s thanking him for bringing Lydia back to them in some way.

It was something of a consolation prize as Lydia drifted to the opposite end of the couch, however. Nonetheless, it had been almost a full week without any sort of insectoid consumption and the ghoul anxiously tore the top off his snacking bin and dove in something like a vile horse with a feed bag. He wasn’t too lost in consumption, however, because he catches Lydia sucking down cocoa without any sort of spiked ensemble to it – and that just won’t do.

Thus, he does indeed top it off with rum, much to Ginger’s dismay. He ignores her protests just like he ignored most of the emotional outbursts sent his way in the past several hours. Lydia is learning there’s not a lot she can do to stop him from his schemes when he wants them hard enough, especially when she’s at an emotionally exhaustive low. Which, as it turns out, was about to be tested beyond Betelgeuse taking liberties by his overly concerned roommates.

Quickly, as he sees Lydia shrink into her blanket, he pounces angrily.

“Hey, hey – Nothin’ is wrong,” he waves them off, abrasively, bristling at their questioning. “We’re gonna watch a fuckin’ movie and neither one of you is gonna ask any more stupid questions, got it?”

They both back off apologetically, thankfully at that – they seem to know when Betelgeuse means it. He gives Lydia a look as if to say very sincerely see what I mean about them now? You get it, right? He seems to think for a moment before putting his bucket aside and moving closer to her on the couch as if to protect her from further inquiry.

Jacques has picked tonight’s movie, a French horror film with subtitles called Don’t Deliver Us From Evil (Mais ne nous delivrez pas du mal).  “Premise is,” explains the skeleton, “Two young girls decide to worship ze devil, and it goes awry, of course, az eet always does!”

As the movie begins and his roommates settle in on Jacques fine new chair together, Betelgeuse takes the opportunity to settle in more fully against Lydia, taking a slow swig from his rum flask as she continues on with the spiked cocoa. “I haven’t seen this one,” he remarks, idly. “Unusual for me.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The movie was right up Lydia’s alley. That Jacques of all people picked it told her that there was much more to his stately, polite demeanor than he let on. Lydia was fascinated, titillated by the girls on screen and their sacrilege. Though she certainly didn’t condone their actions, she couldn’t deny the appeal of losing oneself to a life of sin, abandoning both spiritual and human law in favor of indulging in darker pleasures. In short, she sympathized with their plight, but only just so. They were cruel, fanatical little brats that deserved the grisly ending they got.

The boozy chocolate drink worked well to heat her from the inside out. It was delicious and she drank it down greedily. Lydia couldn’t even feel the burn of rum it was so intermingled with the scalding cocoa. Ever the attentive hostess, Ginger topped her off whenever she noticed the cup was low. By her third mug, it became too warm for either the blanket or Betelgeuse’s heavy arm slung over her shoulder. Smoothly, she slid out from under it and to the side to rest against the arm of the couch, shedding the blanket as she went. To let him know that this was done out of necessity, not spite or pettiness, she tucked her legs up and over his lap. Almost immediately, she could feel claw-tipped digits tracing her ankles, fingering the opening of her socks. It tickled, just a little bit, but he stopped when she squirmed.

Well, he didn’t stop so much as his touch turned firm, purposeful rather than teasing. He actually scooted away from her, just by a few inches so that he could pull her legs out straight and position her feet on his lap to his liking. Then, he pulled off her socks completely.

What exactly did he think he was doing? She looked away from the screen to watch him, a vague question in her eyes. He didn’t seem to be aware of her gawking, too fixated in studying her feet of all things- tongue lolling out of his mouth, pupils narrowing into reptilian slits. What the fuck? Was he about to…? Was he actually going to…?

With a snap, the jar of sweet-smelling oil he procured for her baths appeared next to him on the couch. Impatiently, nostrils flaring, he wrenched the lid off and scooped a substantial amount into his hands, quickly transferring the overly generous amount onto both of her feet. Excess oil dripped onto his pantsuit, but he seemed unconcerned. Once the tiny limbs were good and slathered, he set into work; digging strong, large thumbs into her high arches, kneading at the balls and heels. He was indiscriminate, switching attention between each foot often and without any sort of pattern.

She absolutely melted for him. Every muscle went slack, any tension she was holding rapidly banished by his expert stimulations. The half-empty mug of rum and chocolate was deposited on the side table, Lydia fearing that she might drop it by accident in this state of ultra-relaxation. Hazy honey eyes drifted shut while she savored the sensations, even as her breaths seemed to quicken. He was just good at everything, wasn’t he? Except telling the truth, a nasty voice reminded her even as a tiny groan of pleasure slipped out.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Ah, Lydia’s Bad Girl Brain Closet strikes again. Though Betelgeuse can’t tell at all what she’s thinking, the movie being right up her alley speaks volumes about why they get on as well as they do. Well, that and the ghoul might be something of a bad influence, but he’s probably only stoking things that are already there.

He likes this film, though he tends to chortle in all the wrong places, earning glares from his compatriots. It isn’t his fault that horror movies tend to read more like comedies to him, since death and dying, the final hurdle has been crossed and he knows exactly what’s on the other side. Devil worship is additionally hilarious because the only Satan he’s ever worshipped comes in the form of a big-breasted Dante’s girl. In order to stop laughing and annoying his roommates, he’s gonna need a distraction, of course, and that comes in the form of poor Lydia’s little tootsies. She needs to relax… and he’s here to help.

The gravelly, mischievous low chuckle he makes as he pulls her socks off is definitely not the sort of thing to earn her confidence though, and neither is the look on his face once he does. This innocent-seeming gesture, well, innocent to anyone else maybe, has thoroughly distracted him from any kind of movie watching. He finally has her in his clutches in a position to finally get a little foot action going for himself and he’s not about to pass it up. He lubes her up good with that oil he got from the Patel’s (he didn’t deserve any of their generosity, really), and although he’s not a fan of the smell (coulda been more skunk-like), he gets to work. In a way, this was almost just as good as cuddling her, or undressing her, or rubbing his dick sneakily up behind her except he could do it well out in the open. His strong, pale thumbs pushed up the center of her petite soles, and the mere sensation of her tender skin against his fingers was enough to make him shudder briefly. Sex in full display of people you call friends was gauche, but what’s a little innocent foot massage, right?

He doesn’t get too lost, but he does indulge heavily, easily rolling in slow circles here, pushing on the tops of the balls of her feet there, almost grunting as he strokes on her delicate little toes. Her foot almost disappears completely into the size of his hands, he’s quite a bit larger than her and so manipulating her physically was easy. He watches her carefully when he isn’t ogling how her skin shifts and rolls under his attentions, how soft her skin is against his hand, the sweeping curves of her flesh, and so he catches when her eyes start to close. He also catches her moan, and a nasty little grin splits his face. She likes this, does she?   He knew she would, if only because he knows things she doesn’t about feet in particular. Both of his thumbs slide greasily towards her heels, and finding a spot between her arch and the bottom of her soles carefully he strokes, and rubs, and caresses her on both feet at once. He keeps his eyes trained on her with interest, his tongue poking out of the side of his mouth just enough, that predatory, lascivious expression finding a hard time disappearing from his face.

His roommates weren’t particularly interested in this and seemed too distracted by the more dramatic portions of the film now that Betelgeuse wasn’t mucking up the dramatic tension. That of course meant that he could indulge another fetish of his – getting away with something right under everyone’s nose.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

It was too hot. Lydia was floating on a cloud of pleasant feelings; every muscle pliant, almost liquefied beneath her skin, head swimming. With her eyes closed the way they were, all that could be heard was indistinct French dialogue from the film. Almost all of the oil had seeped into the flesh there, softening it even further, except for a sheen coat that let Betelgeuse’s large, strong hands easily slide and squeeze as he wished. The only problem she had- more vital complications miraculously, temporarily banished for another time- was that it was entirely too hot.

She stretched, squirming until her crop top rucked up a bit, exposing the scant few inches of milky white midriff below her breasts and above her long, high-waisted skirt. With a lazy tug, the chiffon fabric was easily pulled up over her knees, a little below mid-thigh, freeing even more of her flesh to the open air. This helped, but only some. Humming in content nonetheless, Lydia shifted, turning slowly until she was laying on her side, pressing herself into the parts of the couch that hadn’t absorbed her warmth. An inflamed cheek flattened against the cool fabric, offering her a bit of relief.

“Ohh,” she moaned breathily as he pushed down hard on what was apparently an extremely tender area, making a pleasurable tingle shudder her spine. Satin lips, ruddier than usual, parted to gasp as he kept at it, digging in mercilessly. People were screaming on the television, and this was enough to open Lydia’s eyes back up. The satanic schoolgirls were burning! The sight alone of their scorching demise inspired sympathy from her once more and served to make her all the more aware of her own flaming consumption.

Her thighs were sticky. Was… was she getting off on this? It wasn’t enough that she was an alleged necrophiliac, now she had to be some kind of foot-fetishizing sicko, too? How dismally embarrassing. Betelgeuse could never know.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse is fairly talented with making problems disappear temporarily only to return later in some sort of horrific monstrous larger problem. Fortunately, for now, Lydia’s issues are just…perhaps waylaid and this won’t evolve into the aforementioned. He almost let loose an audible hiss, though, as she squirms enough to scoot her little cropped shirt up to reveal a large swath of creamy, pale skin illuminated by the television’s flickering light.

He desperately, fervently wanted to frottage against her slick soles, mount her shamelessly, run a hand down that soft, sweet skin and settle his fingers between her overly warm thighs. Instead, he settles for continuing to push his fingers all up and down her arches, giving her momentary breaks from the spots he knew would only make her flushed state altogether worse. Her shifting around was a clear indicator that she was indeed overly warm, from the liquor and his steady attentions. While she probably didn’t think he noticed her signs of steady, growing arousal, or the scent of her becoming that way, she was sorely mistaken

As the movie starts the crescendo to the end, it also takes his attention briefly. The girls had immolated themselves alive in their final Satanic act, their parents howling and sobbing uselessly from the audience. The fire also starts a stampede for the door, and the film cuts to the outside of the building. It seems as though everyone inside will now burn alive along with the doomed pair.

In that final act of violence depicted on screen, Betelgeuse’s touch has become more intensive, his cool hands probably something of a relief on her skin. He licks his lips slowly, glancing down at his poor wife. He leans over her, then, leaning down to mutter into her ear in a thick whisper.

“Second movie, ‘r you wanna go cool off?”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Lydia blinked up at him, listless and a tad unfocused, unsure of what she truly wanted. As usual, she remained for the most part oblivious to Betelgeuse’s ulterior motives. As far as she knew, he was trying to be good and attentive to her and she was the one deriving perverse, misguided pleasure from it. Something told her he definitely wouldn’t mind if he knew, but she wasn’t quite willing to give him that kind of ammo against her. Not right now. She simply didn’t have the capacity to endure the monstrous teasing that knowledge would bring about.  

Before answering, she leaned up on her elbows to grab her mug of tepid cocoa and gulp down the last half of it. A sudden buzzing rush flooded her senses, the alcohol taking hold a bit quicker due to the greedy way it was flushed through her system. Eyelashes fluttering from lightheadedness, she managed to get the cup back on the side table. Then, she leaned up to meet her husband where he had bent toward her and wrapped both arms around his neck firmly, anchoring herself, making it clear without words that she expected him to carry her.  

“I’ll fall asleep if we watch another,” she yawned into his neck, pressing herself into his coolness. How was it his skin always seemed to know which temperature she needed it to be? There was no rhyme or reason to it. It was either room temperature, or frigid, or downright searing, but there was no denying that it always felt good against hers. “There are too many people out here,” she whispered low, not wishing to hurt Ginger or Jacque’s feelings.

This was more she had spoken at one time since reuniting from their week-long separation. Her vocal cords appeared to be operating for her again, time, alcohol, and his thorough massage dulling the sharp pain in her chest to throbbing bearable pangs.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse’s eyebrows arched as the dedicated little teenager practically guzzled the rest of her rum soaked hot cocoa before giving him any sort of answer. And what an answer she winds up giving him, too – her long and graceful arms wrap around his relatively thick neck in a clear indicator of the desire that she wanted to be carried.

His face scrunches happily, nastily, in that grimace of a grin that showed all his dirty little teeth and a good portion of stained gums. She yawns adorably into his moss besotted neck, mumbling about falling asleep if another movie should go by, and that’s when he lifts her up with him easily. He’s strong as he’s proven earlier and she’s petite in comparison, and it would be terribly sweet if only this didn’t somehow arouse him all the more, having her pitiably cling to him in sleepy drunkenness.

It almost screams take decadent advantage of me, and he can’t help but think of all the things he could do to her in this state easily while he supports her against him as he eases off the couch. One hand cradles her behind her head, the other underneath and around her rump, and he nods understandably about her desire to be quite alone with him – for the most part, that’s the only thing he wants with her, too.

“Don’t worry princess,” he whispers back in a pleased breathy sort of snicker, “I’ll get ya outta here.” He’s had enough of company too, but then, it’s turning out that Lydia is the only person he can stomach for more than a few hours and that’s saying something. She’s also probably the only person who can stomach him for a few hours.

He was also happy to have her talking again too. Like carrying an overtired child, he takes Lydia up and away from the couch, grunting his departure to Jacques and Ginger unceremoniously. They were accustomed to his abrupt nature and both of them only gave a vague, cheerful wave to Lydia who they could see past one of his shoulders. He totes his wife back down the strangely lit corrugated metal hallway into his room, where he carefully deposits her into his coffin. It’s a bit of a relief, probably, unlike the couch the coffin is peculiarly well aerated and hasn’t had her overly warm skin pushing into it for an hour.

He climbs in next to her, a hand idly pawing up one of her legs underneath her skirt without any real initial direction, it seems to be an affectionate gesture at least, at first. He mostly just likes feeling her up, that’s obvious. It sneaks around to the front, though after a moment under the gauzy fabric and one of his brows quirks with interest. “…you’re a little ah….sticky, Lyds.” The hand withdraws, and he licks the digits with disgusting pleasure, “I give pretty good foot rubs I take it? Couldn’t have been the movie…unless, y’know, you like that kinda thing.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“You do,” she admitted breezily, stretching into the cool, soft velvet lining of his coffin. It felt so nice. She wasn’t even embarrassed by the lewd manner with which he called her out. That wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There was a precious moment of calm where all she did was lay limber beside him; arms above her head, breathing deeply, watching stars dance behind her eyelids while Betelgeuse pet her soft, slow, and aimlessly. Outwardly the girl appeared gone from the waking realm, brow smooth and lips parted. The thick wave of raven hair fanned out beneath her- brushed glossy, curling at the ends- was silhouetted exquisitely against the sea of red, like the richest of inks spilling into a vat of blood. This only served Lydia to more intimately resemble the tragic princess her husband lovingly dubbed her as.

Once the stars tired of dancing, honey eyes cracked open without the help of a rousing kiss. Lazily, they met Betelgeuse’s eternally electric gaze, wide awake and burning down at her.

“I missed you,” she repeated, sad and sweet, regretfully. As though she wished she hadn’t. Decision made, she shifted against him firmly, nudging a knee between his legs the way he had once done to her. Extending up and straining to do so, she pressed a kiss first to his jaw, then directly to his wintry lips before lying back down. They were more than pecks, with a lingering passion that belied her intent. Somber and wanting all at once, she gazed up at him, giving silent permission for him to slake his lust.

This was learned behavior, really. After watching Charles and Delia Deetz lean on their crutches for so many years, Lydia couldn’t help but think that it was only fair she let herself have one. If she was going to drown her pain in rum, why not indulge in all of her other vices as well? Now was as good a time as any.

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Lydia, for the moment, looked like she utterly belonged in that coffin. Like a perfect bombazine figurine, her pale skin and black ocean of hair and clothes, her lithe form stretched in some form of sleepy ecstasy across the red velvet. Those pale but pink lips were parted breathlessly, and Betelgeuse studied her as she closed her eyes, dark jade eyes intensely taking in all her beautiful detail.

Eventually, she roused and gazed up at him with those eyes of hers – those sad, honeyed eyes, lazily lidded, which only served to make her look sexier to him. She was so incredibly resplendent when she was sad, and even more-so when she cried, those shy, emotional big eyes of hers took on a life of their own. It made his throat catch, briefly, just to look at her. So vulnerable – it was perhaps this frailty in her appearance that attracted him to her in the first place. Lydia had cowered so thoroughly at his snake form, some sort of visual allegory for a phallus most likely, so tragically pressed to the wall as if devastatingly resigned to her fate and every part of him had wanted to take her in that moment. Damn the Maitlands for interrupting him! The vision that was Edgar Allen Poe’s daughter hadn’t left him since, though, and even though the other ghosts had delayed his claim on this prize, they had not fortunately stopped it.

Lydia’s admission to missing him, so forlorn in tone, caused a noise of faux-pity to purr from his throat. It changes into a deeper, grittier thing as her luscious leg pushes up between his own, however. Her little gestures of reciprocation and seduction work instantaneously, he grinds onto her leg with a slow roll of his hips so she can feel the firm ridge of his thick arousal against her and he shudders needfully. As she stretches up gracefully to kiss him, he leans into Lydia’s soft, sumptuous and youthful lips as hungrily as when they’d first met; that bubbling, searing heat that lives just beneath the surface for her alone flooding his senses. She leans back into his casket then, with that silent, imploring gaze of hers – granting him permission of a kind, and he complains low in his throat in a helpless, desirous fashion.

“I missed you too. You know I’d rather be spendin’ time with you versus anyone else, right? And not just ‘cause you make me horny. But god damn, girl, you do make me horny.”

His hands slide up her skirt, rucking it up for him, cupping around the gentle curves of her asscheeks. He uses this as an anchor to roll himself over atop her smoothly with a grunt, his bulk and weight resting atop her, crushing her underneath him briefly. He works his still clothed hips rudely between her thighs, unable to stop himself from at least rubbing himself against her for a while selfishly, so anxious and yearning for that wet, living heat. He’s aching and breathless already, and he sloppily kisses his filthy mouth down her flawless neck.

“All I want baby…” he growls between those kisses, a plea to his tone, “…is to fuck ya….so hard… I wanna fuck you so hard it hurts… .”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

The brief moments he spent resting his entire weight atop her, crushing her, pushing the air from her lungs were absolute bliss. Oxygen was overrated. Roughly, his broad hips wrenched her thighs apart so he could force himself up against her. She wasn’t wearing any underwear. It wasn’t on purpose. This was no half-baked attempt at seduction. A growth of short, sleek raven hairs coated her mound- proof that she had not been expecting to see him today. Like many other girls and women of all ages, porn and the media had taught her that men preferred women clean shaven and so that is how she sought to present herself. Wife material.

Fleetingly, she worried that he might be deterred by the sight or feel of it, squirming under her skin at the thought, but then he sunk blunt, grimy teeth into her throat, branding her as his once more, and any uncertainty was forgotten. A calloused hand had already found its way under her shirt to squeeze and knead at her breast, rolling the nipple between his thumb and forefinger. His digits pinched with just the right amount of pressure to keep her on the precipice of pain- just a taste.

“I’m yours,” she reminded torturously in response to his heated begging, lost in the sensations. Intoxicated, overwhelmed by the stinging pleasure she derived from his roughish treatment, her resolution to let him romance her properly was forgotten. “You can.” She clung to him desperately, arms around his shoulders, legs around his back, taking everything he had to give and encouraging further abuse. This. This was the distraction she needed. “Please make me feel good.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Please make me feel good.”

Betelgeuse’s whole body shudders in wanton agony, fully prepared to yank down his pants and ravage her like an absolutely depraved sexual animal. That is, until his brain supplied him with a frightful image of her corroded mother, writhing underneath him, saying almost the same thing, in almost exactly the same voice. “Please stay with me…”

His body stiffens and he seemed to suddenly, woefully remember himself. Fucking….hell. If someone had planned this divine torture for him, it was so beautifully orchestrated that they deserved some kind of eternal credit for their twisted imaginings. No, Betelgeuse would not have Lydia here, and drunk – only to wake up with a broken heart and everything else in pain – he couldn’t do it. The villain in him was quieted briefly, if only for her. Damn this girl.

“I will, kitten. Have I ever letcha down? I’m gonna make you feel real good. You were keepin’ ready for my return, hn?” he finally grunts in exchange as he eases off Lydia’s bitten neck, his hand finding purchase between her thighs, underneath his hips. A thumb tenderly runs over the short, velvety fur that had grown out in his absence. Unbeknownst to her, of course, Betelgeuse liked it. He’d like any state she came in, but the shy thatch of hair was perfectly up his alley, and a picture of part of her naiveté and youth. Lydia wasn’t, of course, without her underthings for him - but Betelgeuse likes the idea of it. “Hopin’ I’d sneak up anytime, take advantage of this?” he squeezes gently, two broad fingers sliding down between the soft folds of her outer labia, dragging against the sensitive smaller inner folds as he does. She’s so deliciously warm there, so tender, and his broad fingers stroke her slowly, his thumb rubbing at her clit. “Naughty….” The fire it seems has been tamped but hardly extinguished.

Lydia was woefully beyond remembering the last time he devoured her, and so he’s determined to do it again to supplicate her in lieu of breaking her. He ducks out from underneath her arms and works his way down her side within the coffin, biting, sucking her in places, licking, making filthy, pleased noises to himself. His bulky body shifts and slides between her thighs as he crawls downwards over her. He has to hunch close to the bottom of the strange bed as it isn’t exceptionally long, but it seems to work just as well once his shoulders are past her legs and she can brace the bottoms of her thighs against them. Hungrily, he doesn’t pause, his tongue is writhing in action quickly and lapping at her like a heated, determined creature. The slimy, broad, striped appendage is demanding, fervid. She tastes heavenly, and Betelgeuse only wants more.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“Hopin’ I’d sneak up anytime, take advantage of this?”

Lydia couldn’t say with one-hundred percent certainty that she hadn’t considered the possibility of him popping in unexpectedly, cornering her, tucking his hands under her clothes and praising her for being ready for him. The thought crossed her mind, anyway. He always came with good news in her fantasies, already having arranged some sort of peaceful truce with Mr. and Mrs. Maitland. How incredibly stupid she was. The girl only had scant seconds to wallow in her musings before he was stroking her most sensitive place, ragged claws raking along her pubic hair in a way that told her he was far from repulsed by it. Molten lava coursed through her at his touch, burning her pain away like she knew it would. “Naughty…”

“I don’t know,” she mumbled feverishly, grabbing at him, making an attempt at the truth. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Her clothing was light and flimsy, worn for comfort and to stave off the living world’s late Spring heat. She was lucky he didn’t simply tear them away like tissue on his scorching trek down her body, instead pawing the meager things out of the way whenever they interfered with his onslaught. The last time he did this, it was sweet and slow with Lydia plotting the course. Now, he was possessed, sweeping his starving tongue across her glistening lips with persistent swipes, greedily lapping up her essence. It wasn’t enough, though. A meaty hand came to grasp her tit roughly, talons digging in, and he growled into her, as if in warning.

Lydia didn’t know what he wanted. Eager to please, she stroked his wiry hair very gently and mewled louder under his attention, hips twisting sinuously into his mouth. This wasn’t enough either. He only growled louder, pressing his face harder against her, the sudden unforgiving friction almost making her yelp. Then, something entered her. It wasn’t his fingers- or the other thing. It was too soft, too pliable, wriggling and writhing and extending within her to inhuman lengths. Still, it was thick, and the sudden forceful stretch imbued a facet of distress into her ardent cries while she trembled beneath him. The cruel hand on her breast softened and his growl calmed to more of a purr.

“Oh,” she lauded, fisting his hair reflexively as he made sweet love to her with his mouth, “oh, Beej! It’s so big! I can’t- I can’t- I- ungh-” Her peak came swiftly and powerfully; back arching high off the bloody velvet, porcelain flesh misted with sweat, cheeks flushed and head thrashing side to side in delirium. “I love you!”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Betelgeuse didn’t do truces. He did schemes and other sorts of things. This for that, always – if a truce was to be had, the Maitlands were gonna have to cough up somethin’ real good. Of course, Betelgeuse wasn’t at all aware of the hypothetical potential of a dressing down from Adam Maitland in his future, either. For now, he had his sweet wife all to himself to abuse recklessly, and all of her sweet naiveté to take advantage of.

And indeed, he was demanding of Lydia this evening – he had missed her, and that came along with it the pertinent, unabating lust he had for her of course. He had drawn her out, too, from the sad little sallow creature huddled in her bedroom, wanting for all the world to be left alone into the writhing, sweet bud ready to bloom underneath his attention. Betelgeuse was good at baiting, and he was good at vice, and he was good at the confidence trick – eager to indulge Lydia in some drinking, and sex, and forgetting. His intentions were good, really, even if his actions weren’t particularly. If she was going to be hurting, it might as well be for a fun reason, right? He’s always found physical pain easier to process than emotional pain, himself. With her tendencies, he couldn’t imagine she was much different.

Betelgeuse couldn’t help himself when it came to his consumption of her either, his tongue, lips and mouth working her unrepentantly, the taste of her alone making him something of a wild thing. Her gentle encouragement only made him growl, needing more, sexual frustration resuming steadily and building in his system. It isn’t until she trembles and cries out for him as his tongue plunges its snakelike, writhing girth into her that he relaxes somewhat. That’s the sort of reaction he likes from Lydia, and he soon caresses down her side lightly as he fucks her relentlessly with his unmerciful tongue. This was close as Betelgeuse could get to the real thing without ruining his plan to take her properly at the right moment, and it was the closest he could bring her to feeling how relentless that could be. All her muscles clamp, squeeze and pull at the length of his awful appendage luxuriously, the poor girl stretched wide for him until she can’t stand it. Lydia mewls the most lovely and pitiable things to him, as if thoroughly overwhelmed, before she comes hard for him, her whole body arching like a tightly strung bow.

She’s beautiful like that, her whole body tight, her movements torturously pleasured; but he only has a moment to admire it before she suddenly and explosively professes to him her love. Betelgeuse knew he had a talent with this sort of thing, but that’s awfully impressive. It’s the first time she’s said as much, although he’s gotten the full picture of things other ways. As she comes down from her high peak, he can feel her internally thrumming with slow, elongated pulses against him. His tongue slowly and mercifully withdraws, and he nuzzles at Lydia’s inner thigh with dark, glittering eyes that gaze up at her. He hesitates, wondering if the admission was only said out of an orgasmic rush or drunken liberation. Did she really…?

“I love you, too, Lyds,” he says, finally, and then wrinkles his face in an impish smile, “I ‘specially love the view from down here. Ha!”

Well, it might get him kicked in the face, but that was better than I’ve never been so scared of losing something in my entire afterlife. Seemed a bit too heavy for post-coitus admissions or discussion.

Lydia’s P.O.V.

Deception and duplicity were skills far beyond Lydia’s reach in the wake of the euphoric bliss Betelgeuse had just dealt out. If she said she loved him- oh God, why did she say that?- then it must have been the truth. Though the girl was a stranger to the finer points of romance, she was quite certain of her feelings. When he was gone, she counted the minutes until his return, and when he was there, he made her feel emotions that no one else had ever come close to inspiring. Even at his absolute worst, she’d rather share her company with him than just about anyone else- and he was the worst. He was terrible. Given the opportunity, he would take advantage of her feelings to get what he wanted. He would use her to exact his petty vengeance on Adam and Barbara, and she had given him everything he needed.

Villainy aside, it was sweet of him to attempt fabricating feelings for her, even going as far as to voice them. That must have taken considerable effort on his part. Nevertheless, Lydia wasn’t interested in the fairytale he was trying to spin. Fairytales weren’t real, she knew that now. The Hero would never save the Princess, the long-lost Queen would never return to claim her crown, the King would never find the strength needed to remove the sword from the stone, and the bad guy always won in the end.  

“Don’t-” She choked, brow furrowing, shaking her head in adamant denial. “You don’t… you don’t have to lie.” There was no malice or hurt in her accusation. Just heartbreaking resignation clouded by her rapidly fading orgasmic elation. “It’s okay, really,” she reassured, trying her best to impart that he didn’t have to coddle her heart like she was some lovesick teenager. She could accept the reality of the situation. “I don’t need it. Donny told me you would never love me.”

In direct contrast to what she was saying, she couldn’t look at him, terrified that the tale she was spinning- that she was an indestructible, mature woman who did not need his love- would come crashing down around her if she did.  

“So just… don’t worry about it. I shouldn’t have said that. I mean- it’s true- but- but you don’t have to say things just because I… said things. I’m okay.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Beetlejuice looks to Lydia’s right thigh, and then her left, and then at the slick flesh of her mons, and then back up at her. “No,” he argues, “The view from down here is excellent babes. Honest!”

He’s obviously teasing because after a moment he extricates himself from below her in order to climb somewhat over her. He’s still wound up but he’s ignoring it pointedly in order to settle against her side weightily and address this larger thing. He puts his cheek in his hand and looks down at her for a moment, as if in mild disbelief at her mental gymnastics.

“Lyds, first of all – I don’t know when y’started listening to my brother, but take some advice: don’t,” his tone is sincere, and vaguely annoyed. Betelgeuse holds up one clawed, dirty finger, and then adds another to the first, “Second, if you think I would haul my ass back into the waiting room to go help the two people who fed me to a sandworm, stopped me from marrying you, and sent me to ghost prison because I’m just such a great guy, well. I mean, I am great obviously, but I’m not that great. I do stuff for ya ‘cause I love ya. I haven’t …. I keep puttin’ ya off because we still have ….y’know, you deserve dates, n’ romance, n’ the things you like,” the last is said almost shyly.

His brows arch mildly with another thought, “If I didn’t love ya, Winter River would be raised by now, babes. It would be my own personal hell on earth for everyone else, where every breather for miles would be forced to be my own dog n’ pony show. King B, y’know? I’m practically demi-god status at this point, but I’m here, in this coffin, wantin’ you to not be so hurt over….the cards you were dealt. I work still, so I can give you the freaky, happy life you deserve. I could be out there making everyone’s life a living hell, but I’m here with you making your life a living hell. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is, Lyds. I know this was supposed to be a marriage of inconvenience, I’ve tried to inconvenience you at every turn but you’ve stuck around.”

He twirls her hair into his fingers, then, “And, y’know. It could be Stockholm Syndrome on your part versus love, but I’ll take one or the other really, I’m not picky. Whatever lets me be around you.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome!” She insisted first, pouting, feeling a hypocritical stab of hurt that he would deny the validity of her feelings. “I do love you!” Allegations of mental illness aside, he made a solid argument. Lydia couldn’t poke any holes in it… but then again, he was an excellent con man.

“Are you really that powerful?” She finally queried in a whisper, gazing up at his grisly visage with something akin to awe and disbelief. Reality bent at his whim. Any and everything he wanted he made appear with a blink, a snap, or a crook of his dastardly fingers. If he was who he claimed to be, why was he wasting his time with her? Could it be… was it possible that her heart was the con? That, in truth, all the lies he told and games he played weren’t bred of boredom or lust for cheap thrills, but of a desire to win her love… in return? Everything was too fuzzy for Lydia to trust her own logic, and so once more, perhaps foolishly, she would place her faith in his.

“Promise me you’re not lying,” she beseeched, all the ache and pain she carried pouring out in that one pitiful plea. “I don’t… I don’t think my heart can take any more hits, B.”

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

“Yep,” Betegeuse replies casually to Lydia’s inquiry regarding his powers, scuffing his nails egotistically on the front of his suit jacket, “I’m kinda a big deal now. I mean, I always was, y’know, pretty famous…but this really puts me on the map. I say demi because there’s still some limitations but they’re hardly worth mentionin’.”

He takes a deep, slow inhale, then, and studies her after Lydia pleas with him. He knows, that’s for certain, but he studies her carefully.

“I promise,” he replies, slowly. “Cross my heart and hope to—eh, ah, that won’t work. Anyway, I promise. I’m gonna warn ya,” he says, tone firm, “I don’t know how to love right sometimes, though I’d like to think I’m better than your entire stupid family at it – it’s…been a long time since I did… have any of these… feelings for anybody. Ole ticker works great as in it stopped operating when I bit the big one, but …” He taps his temple confidently, “This up here, I’m a brilliant mind and that sometimes comes with …some…quirks.”

He pauses and says in an apologetic, fast breath almost out of the corner of his mouth, “Like really enjoying torturin’ your entire stupid family a whole lot.”

Betelgeuse’s arms curled around her small body then, his large head settling to rest on her slim shoulder. It’s heavy, and his wiry, tangled mess of balding hair most likely tickles her a little. “You’re like a light in a dark room. A real bright light. Brighter than you know.”

Lydia’s P.O.V.

“That was really beautiful, Romeo,” Lydia teased affectionately, petting down his coarse mane as he settled against her, fingers eventually coming to curl sweetly around his neck and into his nape. That she was able to joke with him at all was a miracle in and of itself. “I don’t think you make a terrible Prince Charming when you put your mind to it.” It was easy to ignore the ominous nature of that threat to her family when he was holding her so covetously, pressing down just enough of that bulky weight to force her breaths deeper.

This… this monster loved her, and she loved him. At that moment, every part of her being hummed in delight; physical flesh buzzing from carnal pleasures, punishing voices muted by drink, and spirit balmed. Eyes shut and lips curled into the barest, most gentle of smiles, she recited more Shakespeare for him, unable to completely let go his promise to torture her family. What was he gonna do? Spank her?

“O serpent heart,” she accused breathily with faux-hurt, “hid with a flowering face! Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical, dove-feathered raven, wolvish, ravening lamb.” Soft and easy, she pet him even as she continued to chant prose at his expense. Not wishing to push her luck, she skipped through to the end of the monologue, practically breathless at this point. “Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace.”

Chapter Text

Betelgeuse’s P.O.V.

Despite not needing it, Betelgeuse for the first time in a long time had had a deep, dreamless sleep. He and Lydia had stayed approximately in the same places in the coffin all night, with him spooning her, or resting against her side. They had a war of poetry that went awry into switching genres back and forth ( the Poe battle was the most intense ) before the girl had become too tired to continue, and so he had conceded to her ( she had won fair and square, in reality ).

He didn’t leave all night, for once. For once, he was solidly still – his fevered brain at ease. He arose in the Neitherworld equivalent of “morning” before Lydia did, of course, and briefly entered the kitchen for coffee which didn’t do anything for his energy levels and a blunt that barely touched the edges of his ghostly consciousness. Rhythm was comfort, routine was comfort. He ate a handful of roaches from within a jar on the counter, the insects partially getting stuck in his teeth. Trying to suck their little legs out from between them vaguely he shuffled back into the bedroom.

He climbed back into his deathbed and sat propped up for a time, smoking weed and drinking coffee, and watching Lydia sleep. His thoughts were slowly fading in from sleep, and he crossed his ankles comfortably, a grimy hand gently pulling through the raven locks of the drowsing beauty against him.

Maybe he would offer some sort of explicit peace contract to the Maitlands. Maybe that was the blunt talking. He put on his reading glasses and pulled the day’s paper from within the robe he wore as of waking up. Stock quotes, political news, obits. A weird parallel of the living world, and yet not at all – he