Accidental Summoning - Alumid - Hazbin Hotel (Cartoon) [Archive of Our Own] (2024)

Chapter 1: The Mortal World

Chapter Text

Striding down the street towards my place of work, the cold wind bit at my skin. I am a lover of the cold, but some days it gets a little too much to handle in this city. It is much different than what I’m used to, and my freshness to this state hasn’t left me with the time I need adjust yet. The orange and red leaves falling gently from the trees, the scent of the cool crisp fall air envelops me as I turn down a small side street, the sidewalk narrowing out. Arriving at the small but well-loved bookshop, my hands quickly unlock the door, pressing the door open.

A soft jingle rings out through the narrow aisles, every shelf stuffed to the brim with books both new and old alike. Some tomes bear yellowing pages and crumbling covers, while others are glossy and new paperbacks, seeming out of place in the atmosphere. The scent of old books, aging paper and leather, drifts through the cozy shop, familiar to me at this point. I shuffle through the tiny aisles, my sure steps taking me to the back of the store, where the responsibility of checking in with my boss, Jeremy, lies.

The little door leading to the storage room has a habit of creaking, and I brace myself for the aged symphony as I press a well-manicured palm against it. Stepping inside, I almost stumble, my eyes darting down to the unknown obstacle in front of me. My surprised eyes are met with a large dusty box that has been haphazardly placed directly in the pathway, the rough cardboard withholding unknown contents. What is this doing here? Jeremy never leaves boxes of donations this close to the door…

With a small sigh, I stoop down and slip my hands under the bottom of the box, ensuring it won’t break before I hoist it up. The weight is surprising, but I am used to carting around boxes of books, so I manage to adjust it in my arms before heading off to find my elusive boss. It doesn’t take long, the door to his office propped open just a hair. Striding over, I push open the door to find the kindly old man sitting at his desk, reading through a small paperback, his pure white hair a testament to his age.

“Good morning, Jeremy, how was closing time?” I take my chance to ease the box down on the coffee table lingering on the other side of his office besides a well-worn couch. He looks up, a crinkle to his eyes, showing that he was no stranger to smiling.

“It was fine, but I had a damn customer show up as I was closing to donate that there box, lass. I told the fellow to come back another day, but they just couldn’t take no for an answer!” He lets out a big sigh, bookmarking his place and setting his paperback aside, “So, I just dropped it down in the hall before closing up, guess I forgot to bring it back here this morning too, sorry bout’ that.” Grinning sheepishly, he strokes his white hair like a kid in trouble.

“It’s no problem, sir, I was able to bring it here rather easily. You have no need to feel guilty,” my voice is stern and unyielding, “You should not be carrying these heavy boxes anyway, you just had surgery. Taking care of your health is of the utmost importance, sir.” Stepping over to the small coffee maker in the corner, I begin to pour coffee grounds into the filter before closing it and flipping the device on.

With a mirthful laugh, he grins, “I swear you act just like my mother sometimes!” The coffee maker whirs to life and I prepare his cup, filling my own with icy cold water from the nearby water cooler. “Anyway, your job today is to just sort through that new box there. After that, if you could bring some of your beloved order to the storage room, that would be just fantastic!” He lets out another peal of laughter.

“I should be able to do that, sir.” I respond respectfully, filling his coffee mug as the pot finishes.

“You don’t need to be so dang respectful all the time! I hired you because of your efficiency and fantastic work ethic, but you can cut yourself a bit of slack sometimes, lass,” His usually gleeful gaze is tinged with a bit of concern.

Placing his mug on his desk, I straighten back up, “Do not worry about me, sir, I enjoy my work thoroughly. I cannot stand to slack off.” Dismissing his concerns outright, I glance at the time. “I should be getting to work, sir, do be careful manning the front. Call me if you need help lifting anything.”

“Okay, lass,” with a grunt, he rises from his seat, grabbing his cane. “Just don’t burn yourself out,” he offers before heading into the front to man the counters. Now alone in the office, I take a sip of my water and ease myself down on the flowery and worn couch. Alright, I need to get to work quickly, I don’t have time to fool around. Setting aside my cup, my fingers find the dusty flaps of the cardboard box, quickly pulling them open.

Working quickly, I begin to sort through the books housed in the recesses of the cardboard, volume after volume coming free to be examined and catalogued. Most of them seem to be occult in origin, which is not surprising. There are plenty of donations we get from people afraid of the books they come across, who merely wish to get them out of their house immediately. Setting aside another volume, I can’t help but scoff, quite ridiculous, honestly. These books are only a product of their time. I am just glad they decided to donate instead of destroying or burning. They are historical artifacts and should be preserved despite their ridiculous topics.

Even when working quickly, it still takes a rather long time to get the books into a decent order, my attention to detail ensuring everything is as it should be. Reaching into the box, I am pleased to find only a single book left. Fingers closing around the hefty volume, I draw it out, prepared to examine it. It’s striking appearance immediately stands out to me, the ruby red cover showing no signs of aging despite the dated binding process used. Surprisingly, there is not even a single crease or mark in the soft leather cover despite being buried under the rest of the box’s contents.

Intrigued, I open it up to a random page, the warm vanilla tones of the smooth paper warm to the touch. The words revealed make by breath catch, the language entirely foreign to me. Strange, I should at least be able to recognize the language, or even the language group. Flipping through the surprisingly thin pages, my eyes devour the strange symbols and crabbed writing, my cheeks flushing with excitement, it seems to be handwritten! This is an amazing find; I need to show Jeremy! Hopping off the couch, I grip the book to my chest and hustle towards the front shop, my book-loving heart racing.

“Jeremy, look at this book! It was at the bottom of that large box you brought in yesterday!” I explain to him hurriedly, brandishing the ruby red leather volume with sparkling eyes. A bit surprised at my vigor, he looks up from his work, eyes taking in the book.

“Calm down, lassie, I haven’t seen you this excited since that rare botanical volume came in last month!” A rich chuckle leaves his throat at my animated explanation. “Go ahead and keep that one, I can already tell that you’re gonna ask me!” Managing to predict my next question, I reel for a moment.

“Thank you so much, Jeremy! This book seems to be in a language I can’t recognize, do you by any chance recognize it?” Opening it to a random page, I slide it over to him, my eyes clearly excited.

Inquisitive eyes scanning over the page, he hums, “I can’t seem to recognize this language either… I’ve never seen anything like it! Maybe, since it’s handwritten, it’s in some sort of code? That’s my best guess, lass,” he says with a shrug, face belying amusem*nt. Taking up the tome, I snap it shut.

“No matter, I will do some research tomorrow on my day off. However, I should get to putting the storage room back into shape, thank you again, Jeremy!”

“It’s no problem, Lassie,” he says warmly as I stride away to the storage room, prepared to do my job. Before starting, I place my newly obtained book with my belongings, careful to treat it with care. Running my fingers over the soft leather one last time, I turn on my heel and enter the storage room, ready to begin organizing.

The remainder of the day flies by as I manage to reorganize the entire storage room from top to bottom. It was no small task; the heavy boxes of books having taken a toll on my less-than-active body. With a sigh of relief, I slot the last few books in their proper spaces, marking down their locations in the computer system, I power everything down. Exhaustion wracks my limbs as I step back into the office, collecting my things. A rush of invigorating excitement runs through me as I delicately grab the new edition of my personal library, the ruby red cover making my lips quirk into a small smile. Saying my goodbyes to Jeremy, I start out on the short trek home in the crisp autumn air.

Walking home with a spring in my step, my eyes take in the beauty of the natural world around me. In a flight of fancy, I make a short cut across the local park, the lovely fall colors lifting my spirits even higher after such a tiring day at work. A few children play on the small playground, their cheerful cries and the sight of the exhausted parents make me smile a little. That is cute, I should walk through here more often even if it does take a bit longer. There is nothing wrong with experiencing nature.

My unhurried steps eventually bring me to the neat front of a small yet comfortable looking home. My home. My mind trails back, recalling the fantastic price I got for it, the mortgage managing to fit into my budget. The only downside was the lack of public transportation in the area, but I am perfectly capable of walking, the exorcise keeping me sharp anyway outside of my usually sedentary lifestyle. Stepping onto the small wooden porch, I set my things aside and produce my keyring, quickly opening the front door. It swings open to reveal a spartan living room, no trace of unnecessary decoration or trifle to be found.

Entering my home, I set my brand-new volume on top of my simple wooden coffee table, the bright red a beacon in the colorless neutrals. A wave of satisfaction overtakes me as I slip into my usual evening routine, unwilling to overlook a single portion. The bathroom offers me a brisk shower, my bedroom providing my usual simple and modest white nightgown, the hem fluttering around my ankles. The plain design, chaste neckline and long sleeves are a testament to my way of life. A lack of frills or lace, no unnecessary comforts gracing my home.

With quick movements, I take down my tight bun, long black hair cascading down to my ankles as I step into the small and tidy kitchen. The fridge holds an array of perfectly healthy ingredients, a lack of any luxury continuing. Grabbing a small Tupperware container, I unclasp the lid and place it inside of the microwave. A few beeps ring out as I reheat the leftover soup from last night, my hands slicing off a slice of french bread to accompany it.

Taking up my usual seat at the minuscule dining table, I eat my meal slowly, my bites measured and elegant. A quick glance at the time elicits a small sigh from my lips, another bite of the warm soup going down smooth. There is not enough time on my schedule to research my new volume, filling me with disappointment. What a shame… perhaps I should break my schedule and stay up to research? No! I cannot do that! I resolve, gripping my spoon tight, I must adhere to my schedule, just one day off and my beautiful consistency will be dashed on the rocks. Willpower, Eleanor, willpower. Taking a deep measured breath, I banish the though from my mind as I neatly wash my dishes, setting the spoon and Tupperware onto the drying rack to deal with in the morning.

My room is equally simple, the neutral colors centering me. Prepared to settle for the evening, I look into my hands, the ruby red volume staring back at me. My cheeks blush in slight embarrassment at the sight, my hands moving to place it under my pillow despite the silliness of the action. However, I quickly shake myself out of embarrassment, refusing myself to think poorly of myself even if the action is childish. I can do as I please now that I live alone. Honestly, I have the perfect life… a job I love, a home, a wonderous expanding library… I am rather lucky! I can afford a little bit of levity.

Climbing into the twin sized bed, clad with simple white sheets and a thin white blanket, my fingers dart to my alarm clock. I ensure my five AM alarm is set properly before settling fully into my covers. The exhaustion of the day hits like a truck, my eyes drifting closed and sending me off into a dreamless slumber.

In the dark of my spartan bedroom, a warm ruby red light begins to grow, my unconscious mind ignorant to it. My fingers are firmly grasping the source, the odd book full of mysteries slowly enveloping me with a rapidly brightening glow. As it climbs in intensity, snaking around my form, it suddenly flashes, the array blinding before the remnants of light begin to fade. As the light fizzles out for good, it leaves the room empty, devoid of Eleanor.

Chapter 2: Entering Hell

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My eyes flutter open and are met with an unfamiliar cream-colored ceiling with a small chandelier. What in the… This is not my room! I bolt upright and frantically look around only to be met with the sight of a decadent red colored room. It gave off an opulent feeling but seemed somehow strange. Where in the hell am I! I find myself hyperventilating while remaining frozen on the plush queen-sized bed I woke up on. My hands grasp my chest as I try to calm myself down. Get yourself together. Breathe… I need to figure out where I am and what happened. Being flustered will only make things worse. Deep breaths. My breathing finally slows to a manageable pace, but my heart is still beating like a drum. After what feels like ages, I push back the covers with trembling hands and drop down from the large bed. The bed is surprisingly tall, as is most of the other furniture. The second my feet hit the floor; the door opens. I take a sharp gasp and prepare myself for the worst. My hands grab the sheets so tightly that my knuckles turn white, when a young blonde woman with strangely red cheeks pokes her head in and makes direct eye contact with me. I just stare her back in the eye, not knowing what to say. There is a second or two of silence before she rushes in enthusiastically.

“Oh! I didn’t expect for you to be awake!” She exclaims, as I am reeling to catch up with her energy. Before I can utter a word, she continues. “I am so sorry!” She suddenly bows in front of me, and I am left with more questions than answers. I look at the bowing woman with confusion until I finally can think logically. I need information. Nothing makes sense.

“Um... who are you?” I manage to stumble out, chastising myself for sounding so unsure. She does not seem dangerous, but she could very well be. Looks can be deceiving. The blonde girl briefly looks surprised before launching into another expressive sentence.

“Oops I should have led with that; my name is Charlotte, but you can call me Charlie! I know you are probably confused; I mean I would be too if I woke up in a strange room!” She glances around nervously. She seems to be trying to set me at ease. “I can answer any of your questions, but first I need to tell you something very important. Um... well… you are kinda sorta… in Hell…” She fumbles with her hands guiltily and keeps glancing up at me taking in my reactions. What. My face contorts into a frown.

“Hell? Am I dead!” I could not help but raise my voice a bit. There is no way I am in hell! This woman must be trying to make a fool out of me, but where am I? As if knowledge was a trigger, I sense that everything is slightly off. The air is a bit too stale, the light a bit too dim, along with many other minuscule details. In my sudden hyper-awareness, I catch a shadow shifting in the corner. I must be hallucinating!

“No, no, no, you aren’t dead! That is sort of what the problem is. You aren’t dead, you are still a human. In Hell. Surrounded by demons.” As she trails off the gravity of what she is saying hits me like a freight train. While I try to gather my thoughts, I glance at the corner again where a perfectly normal shadow is cast. I need to project a strong front no matter how shaken I am.

“Wait, so you are telling me that I am not dead, but I am still somehow in Hell? Now how does that make any sense, would you care to explain?” I assume my most demanding demeanor as I ask her this.

“Ok, this is a bit of a long story so buckle in,” her attempt at humor falls flat. I am not in a very humorous mood and merely stare back at her. She coughs awkwardly before continuing, “So I was just getting back from a trip to my dad’s house, and he had given me a box of old books that he didn’t need anymore. Most of them were pretty beat up and weren’t very interesting, so I just left them in the library for anyone to look through.” So, this place has a library, at least I will not be without literature. “My girlfriend, Vaggie, was going through them and a few other people were there too. Vaggie came across a really pretty red book and picked it up, but another person yanked it out of her hands.”

“Pause, who is the one who is doing the yanking. I would like a name please.” I soften my tone a bit to not sound to combative as she is explaining. I cannot come off as rude, at least not until I get the whole story.

“Oh sorry, His name is Alastor, he is a bit… um… interesting. To say the least. You will have to meet him eventually.” Her nervous laugh returns, and I can sense this person makes her uncomfortable. Alastor, I will have to keep in minds that he is a troublemaker. She continues, “So, he took the book from Vaggie and prevents her from taking it back. Like he holds it far above her head and keeps teleporting it around the room to keep her from grabbing it.”

“He sounds like a schoolyard bully!” I cannot help but exclaim. Until I can make it back, I just need to avoid him, I do not have patience for people like that. She giggles and agrees with my assessment. I shoot her a warm smile. At least she is easy enough to get along with.

“I guess he is a bit like that, I wouldn’t say that to his face though! He is dangerous.” She seems to pale a little at the thought of someone outright insulting him. So, he does not like to have his ego bruised, I can work with that. “Anyway, Vaggie gets angry and tries to mock him, saying things like ‘I bet you can’t even pronounce the language sh*tlord.’ It was really funny!” I like the sound of this Vaggie person. “Well… until he took that as a challenge. He opened the book to a random page and started to read the words, I don’t think he knew what they meant but he did pronounce them flawlessly. You see they are in infernal; I speak that language and I could tell just how screwed we were, but I couldn’t interrupt him in time before he finished the spell. Unfortunately, the words he spoke were a spell that summoned the books pair. Along with the closest sentient being. Which is you. A human. Who definitely shouldn’t be here.”

“Oh.” I am here by mistake! I cannot believe this. I have been wrenched from my happy life just because some overgrown toddler did not like being insulted. I could just laugh. Not. I slump onto the ground in a fit of malaise. “Is there a way to send me back?” My hopeful tone seems to make Charlie cringe a bit. That does not bode well.

“Well, about that. It would be possible if the paired book were still in the human world, but it isn’t now. It was transported along with you. We don’t really know how to send you back, and you might be stuck here for a while.” Her apologetic words froze the blood in my veins. I am stuck here. In Hell. For an unknown amount of time. With demons. What the hell am I supposed to do! I just sit despondently on the plush carpet as Charlie approaches me like a cornered animal. I do not even react as she sits next to me.

“I’m so sorry. I know that apologies don’t really help but I want you to know that I am sincerely sorry. I will do everything in my power to protect you while you are here. I do have some clout here; you see my dad is Lucifer. That makes me the princess of Hell!” She puts on a cheesy smile; I can’t even force myself to acknowledge the avalanche of information hitting me. She continues, slightly subdued. “Unfortunately, Hell is a really dangerous place. Especially for a human, you don’t have the same regenerative abilities that demons have, and a human is really valuable. I won’t go into details, because it is definitely not something you should hear right now.” Great, some more garbage to deal with. “You also don’t have a demon form, so in order to stay safe I don’t think you should leave the Hotel.” Hotel?

“Hotel? There are hotels in Hell?” In my addled mind, I grasp onto something that sounds strange. Charlie perks up as I ask and goes into another spiel, much more spirited this time.

“Yeah! Hell is really a lot like the human world in many ways, or at least that’s what Angel and Vaggie say.” Angel, another name to remember. “This hotel in particular is special though!” She looks proud for a moment before continuing. “You see this Hotel’s purpose is to rehabilitate sinners! I know you wouldn’t know this, but Hell has a really bad overpopulation problem and every year there is something known as the Extermination. I really don’t like it, it’s where angels from heaven come down and kill a bunch of the sinners to try to keep the numbers down. I want to do something to prevent it from having to happen at all, therefore I am working on this Hotel, the Happy Hotel to be exact.” She seems to be very caring about her people, unlike my image of what a demon is. An extermination? Great, even heaven seems shady. I really am screwed aren’t I.

“There is so much to take in… I do not really know what to say. I feel like I am drowning in information, I apologize, but can I please have a moment to myself. Maybe ten minutes?” She seems to understand and hurriedly nods. She gets up and leaves, quietly closing the door behind her.

Why. Why is this happening to me, I just managed to build the perfect life for myself and now I am dragged to literal Hell. There are demons who are dangerous, and apparently angels are dangerous too! Just my damn luck! I climb back onto the bed and lie prone for about five minutes just processing exactly how screwed I am. Finally, I rally myself. No. I cannot give up. Things will only be worse if I just mope around, moping is not fixing anything. I need to just suck it up and move forward. I can save my tears for when I manage to get myself back. That’s what I will do! I will find a way back! All I need is willpower, and I can achieve what I want.

As I rally myself, I can hear two more voices from the corridor speaking to Charlie. Well, more like arguing. I straighten out my appearance, still in my nightgown, and wait for the ten minutes to end. Hopefully I can get through this in one piece.

Chapter 3: First Meeting

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“Why the hell are you here! You are the one who f*cked up, there is no way I am letting you talk to them. You’ll probably f*cking eat them!” An angry woman’s voice filters through the door as I sit in wait on my bed. A strange prickling of static gives me gooseflesh.

“You wound me dear. Why I wouldn’t harm a hair on her pretty little head, I did summon her after all!” A strange male voice responds with feigned indignance, somehow sounding thrilled at the same time. How strange, it sounds like there is radio static overlayed on his voice. And is that a transatlantic accent? That person must be the source of the static. I wonder why?

“Don’t give me that bullsh*t, asshole! You are the reason they are here, but that isn’t a good thing. You are a sad*stic f*ckhead, there is no way I am letting you even look at the human!” The woman shouts back, somehow even more angry. This is quite the situation; I assume that the static laced voice is Alastor due to the summoning comments. Maybe the other voice is Vaggie? It would fit the story that I was told.

“I can’t even look at the human?” A laugh track rings out loudly. What the… “Well, it is a little late for that don’t you think? I thought you were smarter than that Vagatha! I guess I was mistaken.” His voice takes on a mocking tone with the last line. “You should at least be smart enough to know that if I was going to kill them, they would already be dead!” His chipper tone clashes with the dangerous words. Chills run down my spine. The voice, most likely Alastor, continues. “Charlie, be a dear and let me greet the poor lost little human? I’m sure she is just dying to meet the one who summoned her.” He pauses for a moment before saying something that chills the blood in my veins. “Why, doesn’t that make them my ward?” His laugh exudes malice. Does he know that I am listening? No, there is no way he knows that! So, why does it sound like that was targeted at me?

“Um… well first off, they aren’t your ‘ward’ or whatever. They are a person and not yours.” He chuckles as if mocking her as well. “But I’m sorry Vaggie, despite him being an asshole, I think Alastor has a point. She is going to have to interact with him eventually, and he has already promised not to kill her.” The other female voice let’s out a huff but relents and the door cracks open. The static gets much louder, and I can hear snippets of jazz music mixed in. Charlie pokes her head in and sees me sitting on the bed, her eyes show concern and trepidation.

“Hey, there is someone who wants to meet you if you are ok with that. It’s Alastor,” she shoots me a wink, probably referencing the distaste I expressed about him. “He just wants to greet you, you can meet Vaggie too!” I lightly nod my head and saunter over to the door. I grab the door like a shield, take a deep breath, and poke my head out through the small opening. I am immediately met with a grey face, with a jagged smile, directly in my personal space. I stumble backwards reflexively, and the door shoots open. A thin demon with red and black hair with a set of antlers and ears, dressed in a red pinstripe suit stands in the doorway. He towers over me. Adjusting his monocle his red eyes bore into me, his mouth stretched into a terrifying smile, sharp yellow teeth on full display. His smile somehow stretches larger as he stares me down as if I am prey. I can feel my skin prickle with discomfort.

“Why hello, my dear! It’s a pleasure to meet you when you aren’t practically comatose,” a laugh track plays from somewhere, “my name is Alastor! What might your name be little lady.” Before I can respond, his arm shoots out from its folded position behind his back and grabs my hand. Damn, he’s fast! I try to yank my hand back out of his grasp, but his grip is like iron, he doesn’t even shift. He slowly brings my hand to his mouth as I struggle, disgusted at the physical touch. However, instead of biting me like I half expected, he kisses my knuckles without ever breaking eye contact. My heart-rate spikes as terror grips me, but I don’t let it enter my face. What is this, some sort of twisted chivalry? Finally, after lingering for a second too long he let go of my hand, and I immediately took several steps back. I begin to wipe my hand on the bed sheets as I stare him down. The radio static increases in volume.

“Hello. My name is Eleanor. You know it is rude to enter a lady’s room in such a manner Mister Alastor.” I spit out, attempting to show as much disgust as possible in my voice. He co*cks his head, which lets out a snapping sound, and chuckles softly. I glance into the hallway past him to spot a white-haired demon girl with a pink bow. She seems to be trying to speak, but no sound comes out. Before I can see more, I am caught off guard by Alastor strutting into my room and the door slamming shut behind him. I feel my stomach drop. He picks up the theatrics again as he begins to look around the room.

“My sincerest apologies, my dear! I was simply excited to meet you, I guess my manners were a little lacking.” He voice too boisterous to be sincere. Whatever, as if you did not just trap me in a room with you. I start to search for an alternative exit with my eyes, but as I glance to where he was, I am met with his face much too close. His gray skin is even more apparent at this proximity, as I try to back away. His hand grabs my shoulder to prevent me from backing up anymore, his claw like fingers digging into my skin. I shiver in disgust.

“You aren’t a very talkative one, are you? Your reactions are very entertaining you know.” His breath hits me directly in the face and as I am overwhelmed with the metallic scent of blood, I cringe. “You must be so confused as to why you are here!” He backs away, removing his clawed hand from my shoulder, to continue looking around. As he leaves my personal bubble, I realize that I had been holding my breath.

“I am not as confused as you might think I am. I received a detailed description of how I ended up here from Charlie.” I reposition myself closer to the door as he continues to walk around, almost as if he is searching for something. “I also heard how it was your fault.” His head snaps around to look at me once more, smile ever present. His eyes, however, seem dangerous. The static grows in volume briefly. I need to remember that this man is dangerous.

“How spectacular! Hell’s dear princess has regaled you with the epic tale, has she? I had hoped to tell you myself, but alas!” He pretends to be upset, but it isn’t convincing with that deranged smile. I am glad she told me, who knows how he would twist it to benefit him. “Oh well, since you know I am the one who summoned you, perhaps we could make a deal?” He seems completely focused on me again, hands neatly folded behind his back. Hell no! There is no way I am making a deal with a demon. “Perhaps- “

“I will have to decline. I will not be making deals with anyone, especially not you. How dense do you think I am?” I interrupt him before he can get out another word. His red eyes seem to briefly change but before I can register, they are back to normal. The static grows in volume until it starts to hurt my ears. His demeanor seems abnormally stiff as he approaches me again.

“Ah, my dear, you seem so tense. Perhaps you should relax. I don’t tend to enjoy having people disrespect me and it must be because you are still disoriented.” His eyes carry a dangerous glint, as his voice drops an octave. I can see small symbols appear in the air surrounding him. My breath hitches. He turns away again and the static drops back down to a normal volume, “No matter, you will come around eventually. You see I can offer you so much, but if you aren’t receptive to listening, we might as well discuss that later. Moving on to the next order of business, you seem to not have a single possession!” What does this have to do with anything? He goes from threatening me to complaining about something so inconsequential! “Why, it is just a tragedy, you were ripped from your home and don’t have a single thing with you, only that plain nightgown! No woman should be without their beloved belongings, right?” He leans in, towering over me again, with his bloody breath hitting me full force. He seems to be mocking me, unfortunately for him that doesn’t work on me.

“And you are pointing this out because…?” I pointedly look at him like he is an idiot, my heart rate still soaring as I try to not think about why his breath smells like blood. He pauses momentarily, smile and eyes frozen, as if he genuinely didn’t expect that response.

“My dear! You sound as if you don’t even care. What are you going to do with no belongings?” He looks at me expectantly, as if I am going to mourn the loss of my possessions. I get it now; he is trying to get me to ask for help. Two can play at that game, he will not win this interaction.

“I do not particularly care. They are just objects; I can make do without.” It is true though, I do not actually care about my stuff, only my books. My apathetic words seem to catch him off guard again. His eye twitched almost imperceptibly. I wouldn’t have even noticed if he wasn’t so close.

“Well that just won’t do!” He recovers his façade. He struts past me and throws open the door again to reveal Charlie holding back Vaggie, who is still silenced. “Calm down ladies!” His chipper voice calls out to them. Vaggie stops struggling but is obviously fuming. “Now, I have discovered an egregious problem that must be rectified at once!” His words seem to confuse Charlie before she turns and looks at me questioningly. I just shrug and offer a confused look. “This poor dame has not a single scrap of clothing other than what’s on her back right now! Not only that, but she owns not a single possession, what kind of hosts would we be if we let this continue!” Charlie looks surprised for a moment.

“Oh my gosh, you are right Alastor! How could I have overlooked this!” She proclaims as he looks at them like a disappointed parent. “I know, I can give you some of my old clothes and tomorrow we can go clothes shopping!” She seems to be unbearably excited at the idea of shopping. Vaggie, finally able to speak rains on her parade.

“No! She can’t leave the hotel. Remember,” she gestures to me, “Human!” I immediately follow up.

“She is right, you expressly have forbidden me from leaving the premises. Would it not be dangerous to go clothes shopping as you wish to?” I am not opposed but the danger seems too great to justify it. I especially do not want to go if he is involved. Just what is he playing at? Vaggie seems pleased at my support, it must be rare around here.

“That’s wacky nonsense! I can assist in this little endeavor.” His annoying voice cuts through our reason. He summons what seems to be a microphone, and waves it towards me. I don’t feel anything, but Charlie looks excited again, and Vaggie seems peeved. Looking down at my hands I start. My skin now resembles the gray of Alastor’s and I have a similar set of wicked claws. He chuckles and summons a floor length mirror in front of me. I gaze into the mirror to see that I now look much more demonic, still in my nightgown. Specifically, a deer demon like him, down to a matching hairstyle. I feel my blood boiling. Anger seeping into my voice.

“Is there any reason that I look like a deer, Mister Alastor?” His smile grows to the absolute limits of his face, and his eyes take on a mirthful caste.

“Why, it’s what I know best, my dear. You don’t want the illusion to fail because I couldn’t imagine it properly, now do you?” This man will be the death of me, and it will not be because of his claws or teeth. I am going to have an aneurism. I managed to reign in my anger. He wants me to be upset, so how about I make him upset instead. Ha.

“Very well, I guess you would only be able to do so much, oh well it’s a shame it is so distasteful.” I pointedly turn away before witnessing his reaction, but I can feel his eyes boring into the back of my head as the static screeches. “Vaggie, is this illusion convincing enough to permit me to leave the hotel?” She seems almost caught off guard that I would ask her instead of Charlie, and she keeps glancing at the red menace behind me. The static lowers, but not all the way.

“Um, well it is convincing, but I still don’t think you should leave. It is dangerous out there!” She looks at Charlie pleadingly. Unfortunately, as I look over toward Charlie, I can already tell Alastor has won.

“This is amazing!” She circles around me taking in all the details of the illusion. “Don’t worry about it Vaggie, I will go with her and make sure she is safe. She does need clothing after all, and we can pick up a few other essentials.” I sigh and resign myself to the fact that this is most certainly happening. Glancing towards Alastor, his face radiating smugness, I maintain my apathetic expression and pointedly ignore him. It seems he is restrained to a certain degree in front of these two. Good to know, but I should not push it. I do not know his limits.

“Splendid! Perhaps I should come with, after all what’s wrong with more protection for our little human charge! I linked the illusion to this ring,” he waves his microphone around, producing a simple black ring that floats over to me, “But I should go as insurance!” Cheers ring out in the surroundings overlapping the static. He looks at me with another smug look. My blood pressure rises yet again, I don’t want to be near him for a second longer.

“I don’t think that is necessary.” Charlie comes to my rescue, and his eyes narrow. Thank goodness. “I don’t think you should come with us; it wouldn’t be very appropriate for a man to come with us clothes shopping.” He seems stunned at the accusation but can’t immediately disprove her, much to my delight. “The hotel also could use protection while I am out.”

“Very well.” He seems immensely disappointed, but the smile never leaves his face. “However, I will expect Vagatha to remain as well. After all, she doesn’t seem to trust me very much.” Canned laughter fills the area. Vaggie just looks pissed off but doesn’t deny it. To my absolute euphoria, Alastor dismisses himself and with an equally annoying exit speech drags off Vaggie. Charlie leads me to her room to get some temporary clothing. I pick out the plainest clothing she has, with the largest amount of coverage.

“You seem to really like plain clothes; you also picked the most modest ones too! What do you normally wear, it will help me pick where to go for shopping.” She also seems genuinely curious. I pause for a moment. Should I tell her? It will most certainly come up in other ways, so I definitely should tell her now.

“I usually wear plain unadorned clothing in neutral colors. I also ensure that they cover as much skin as possible.” She nods along but I continue. “I might as well tell you now before it becomes a problem,” She looks concerned for a moment, “I practice asceticism, it means that I shun anything that I consider an indulgence. It applies to what I eat, wear, and do. I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of knowledge, and anything else is trivial to me. I do value good company however, and you have shown yourself to be a kind person… demon.” She looks extremely shocked and for a moment I think that I have said something wrong.

“I am glad you told me now,” She seems worried about something, “this is definitely going to be tricky.” She starts pacing around thinking. I just continue to sift through the clothes, confused. She keeps muttering things and I only catch snippets, mainly the name Alastor and a few mentions of heaven. She stops pacing for a moment and asks me quietly, “You said it effects what you eat right?”

“Yes, specifically I fast every other day. On the days I eat it is only plain vegetable soup and bread. I only permit myself to eat meat if I am ill. I generally take a vitamin supplement as well to make up for any lack of nutrients, but I will need to alter my diet here if that is impossible. I do, however, refuse to consume anything that is sweet or has caffeine. Those are strictly off limits, no matter what. Strong flavors are also something I avoid.” She seems even more concerned. “Might I ask what concerns you about this?” My curiosity is piqued.

“I don’t have an issue with it, but I think that Alastor might.” I cringe at the familiar name. “He does all the cooking, and he doesn’t like it when people miss the meals he prepares. I think he might actually be offended if he heard how you eat. Is it healthy to eat so little?” At her last innocent question, I chuckled.

“It is certainly not recommended but I usually go to a doctor once a month to ensure all my nutritional needs are met. I only avoid indulgence; I am not trying to kill myself!” She seems relieved at that. “Do not worry about Alastor, he might be threatening and dangerous, but I am an adult. I have dealt with others who take offense at my refusal to eat their cooking. I only ask that if he turns violent, you make sure I do not die.” I add my version of a joke onto the end, and she can’t help but grin.

“I can do that! Let’s keep this on a need-to-know basis, I am fairly certain that your soul is not hell-bound. That is good for your post-mortem prospects but while you are down here that puts you in even more danger. A heaven-bound soul is extremely valuable. Also, I would normally recommend not telling Alastor, but we might need to.” Her face shows a seriousness that is rare for her.

“I understand, I will not tell anyone who need not know. You could just describe me as ‘eccentric’ if you want. I will tell Alastor, if necessary, but I will leave that as a last resort.” She chuckles at that. I gather up the clothing I have chosen. “I have made my selections.”

“Ok, I will lead you back to your room. It is getting late so you should get some sleep. I will come and get you in the morning, what time do you wake up?”

“5 am sharp.”

“Wow, early… breakfast is usually served at 7:30, in case you want to join. We will leave at 9:00 to go shopping if you skip breakfast, is that ok?”

“That is fine by me, could I perhaps borrow a book for the interim?”

“Of course,” she skips over to a small, crowded bookshelf in the corner of her room and picks out two of the largest books, “Here you go, two books that cover information you might need about Hell! Feel free to keep them, I already know everything in there, so they are just taking up space at this point!” Elation overtakes me as I delicately grab the books.

“I am honored! I will take good care of these.” She giggles at my excitement, before leading me back to my room. I settle in for the night, uncomfortable in the overly plush bed. I decide to remove the comforter and neatly place it on the floor. I place the pillows on top of it and settle into my makeshift floor-bed. The carpet doesn’t prevent the ground from being hard, and I drift off to sleep.

Chapter 4: Ascetic

Notes:

Possible trigger warning for eating disorders. MC does not have one, but her eating is regulated!

Chapter Text

Opening my eyes I turn over in bed and look to my alarm. I have two minutes before it goes off. I disable the alarm before standing up out of my makeshift floor-bed. I stretch my limbs out in my usual routine before fully opening my eyes. For a moment I stand dazed, not remembering where I am. Shaking the sleep off my brain, I remember everything that happened yesterday and my mood takes a dive. Ugh, I am still here. I wish it was just a bad dream, but unfortunately that is not the case. Oh well, no use crying over spilt milk. I begin to examine the room that I will be staying in for an extended period. There is a full bath behind one of the doors, and a walk-in closet behind the other. I have no need for that much space, I only need seven sets of clothing to rotate. There is also an ornate wooden wardrobe and a matching wooden desk set. I should at least be able to do my research here, I need to add writing utensils and paper to the list of necessities. Perhaps we could even visit a bookstore! If they even have those in hell. I grumble in my head. There is also a red armchair positioned in the corner. I might use that to read in when I do not intend to take notes. The only other things in the room are a small bedside table with a lamp, and the four-poster bed.

Wrapping up my small investigation I enter the washroom and disrobe. I start the shower on the coldest setting and hop in immediately. The brisk shower helps wake me up the rest of the way as I recall I forgot to shower last night. I scrub my shoulder and hand even harder as I remember the disgustingly touchy Alastor. I finish up my shower and begin to towel myself off. I leave my hair down because it takes over two hours for it to dry. I wrap the towel around myself and position myself in front of the pile of borrowed clothing. I start rifling through it to find the most suitable option. I decide on a simple gray long sleeve shirt and a pair of floor length black pants. Unfortunately, I am extremely skinny, and I feel like I am swimming in the clothes. I must tie up the pants to prevent them from falling. I did not think of this issue last night, they must not have noticed either because my nightgown is so flowy. Oh well, it is not the end of the world. I decide to wash my nightgown in the tub portion of the shower before I start my reading, so I can leave it to dry all day. Finally finishing up my perceived chores, I amble over to the two new books I received from Charlie. They were a two-part series titled ‘Everything You Should Know About Hell’. I pick up volume one, relax on the armchair, and begin to read.\

I get so lost in my reading that I lose track of time, nothing new about that. At seven I put my hair up into a tight bun and return to reading. 7:30 comes and goes, I don’t even notice. Lost in my book, I jump when I hear a loud inconsistent knock at the door. I look over at the alarm clock on the bedside table to see that it is only 8:02. Hmm, she said she was picking me up at 9. Why is she here now? I get up as the knock rings out again.

“I am coming to the door, calm down.” I unlock the door and turn the handle. “Why are you here so early Charlie? You said you were getting me at nine.” I swing open the door fully, only to be met with a wall of red. I slowly look up as my face pales. Alastor is standing there instead of the expected Charlie. His radio frequencies hit me full force as the hair stands up on the back of my neck. His grin overbearing as he eyes me up and down.

“Why, good morning, my dear! I didn’t expect you to already be up, you didn’t show for breakfast after all.” His smile grows slightly. “I had assumed you slept in, so I decided to wake you up!” His eyes narrow dangerously. “But it appears I was mistaken; you have decided to play truant instead.” He forces himself into my room once more, brushing against my shoulder causing me to cringe away. “Now whyever would you not come to breakfast,” He turn dramatically waving his microphone in my face, “were you not told the time? You are aware I am a fantastic chef, aren’t you?” He strikes a proud pose with his hand on his chest. My brain, reeling from shock, finally forms a sentence.

“No, I was told 7:30 was breakfast.” This seemed to be the wrong answer as the static increased in volume as he co*cked his head with a snap and brought a clawed finger to his chin.

“If you were aware of when, then how come you didn’t show up, my dear.” His voice dropped an octave on the last two words. I backed up a few steps, but he mirrored my movements. Damn, why is he so upset about a simple meal. I shake my head.

“Today is my fasting day Mister Alastor.” I inflect the last two words the same way he did. A record scratch sound rings out and he looked about as dumbfounded as he could with a sickening grin. He slowly rakes his gaze over me, taking in the borrowed clothing that I have pinned up.

“What?” His voice had a confused tone and had very little static laced in. My eyes widen briefly at the foreign sound, but I draw myself up confidently.

“You heard me Mister Alastor, today is my fasting day. I fast every other day. And even on the days when I am not fasting, I will not be eating the food you prepare. I will prepare my own.” The confused look in his eyes is replaced by a dangerous glint, and he takes a large step towards me. I back up to maintain distance but am quickly met by the wall. My heart rate picks spikes. The radio frequency grows in volume as he approaches while his grin stretches to an inhuman degree. He bends at the waist to make eye contact with me.

“I would ask if you were lying but seeing how hopelessly thin you are,” He grabs my wrist fast as lightning. I attempt to wrench it away. You’re one to talk stick bug. “I am inclined to believe you.” His voice sounded dangerous and pain shoots through my wrist as he grips harder. The static begins shifting and morphing unsettlingly. “Why would you be fasting, if you are already this skinny? I mean look at how big Charlotte’s cloths are on you; you look like a half-starved orphan!” A heavily distorted laugh track plays, I attempt to look away from him but he brings a clawed finger to my chin. “I don’t particularly enjoy when people refuse to eat what I spent my time and effort in making, my dear,” He pinches my cheek, “especially when I know they need it.” His eyes narrow to thin slits, and I can smell the metallic bloody smell of his breath again. He needs to brush his damn teeth.

“I do not fast for some stupid vain reason like that.” I try to pull his hand off my wrist, but I can’t remove even a single finger. He tightens his grip again in response, and my bones begin to scream at me. “I practice asceticism, and food is an indulgence, I only eat what is necessary to survive.” I force myself to make direct eye contact with him refusing to acknowledge the pain.

“Ascetic? What are you some sort of bluenose?” He scoffs and shifts slightly closer. “Whyever, would you need to do that, some sort of religious devotion? There is no need for you to do such nonsense, we’re in hell my dear!” His loud voice hurts my ears. “Almost everyone ends up here when they kick the bucket, so why not get a head start!” The frequency shifts into a slow-paced song that I have never heard before but reminds me of the roaring twenties. He tugs on my wrist, pulling me into his chest as he begins to dance. His other hand holding my back, as I struggle to break away, my feet dragging on the ground as he practically lifts me in the air. “You can have anything you could ever want down here; all you would need to do is make a deal with me, my dear. I can give you anything you could ever want! Money, power, material goods. Whatever a dame like you desires.” I struggle against his vice like grip and he releases me suddenly, I stumble as I regain my footing. Massaging my wrist, I create distance from him.

“I am not religious; I was rather unsure about the existence of God, but I guess I believe now due to where I am.” I gesture to the window. “Nonetheless, I refuse to make a deal with you.” He co*cks his head raising an eyebrow and bringing one clawed hand to his chin in a thoughtful pose, other arm folded behind his back.

“If you aren’t a religious nut, and you aren’t a dumb dora, worried about her weight, why exactly do you force yourself to abstain from all of life’s pleasures?” He twirls around and produces the microphone again while adjusting his monocle. He leans on it, chin in hand, seemingly eager for me to continue, his smile bursting at the seams.

“I do not think you need to know that.” I turn to avoid seeing his reaction, and seat myself with my book back in the armchair. He is so attention seeking, let me see how he likes being ignored. I begin to flip through the pages, legitimately reading. Out of the corner of my eye I see him straighten up to his full height and make his way closer.

“Come now, my dear! Do you seriously think I would let this go without knowing exactly why you refuse to eat my cooking?” Is he still upset about that? I thought moved on from that. I ignore him completely and continue to flip through the book at my trademark fast pace. I can feel him get closer trying to grab my attention. “How old are you, my dear? You know ignoring people is very rude and I don’t believe that you are reading a single page of that book.” I see a clawed finger tap the top of the page I am reading. I don’t respond in any way. He moves to stand behind the chair, dragging his hand across the armrest and chairback. I can feel him looming over me, looking over my shoulder at the book pages.

I manage to keep ignoring him but tense at the unwanted proximity. He leans even further into my personal space, and I flinch away but don’t acknowledge him and turn the page. He pauses for a moment and I think he is going to back away. However, he suddenly leans his face next to my ear, and I can feel his stupid red hair tickling the side of my face. My breath hitches and I hold my breath. I can see his sharp teeth glisten out of the corner of my eye, as his grin widens. He breathes directly into my ear, and I can’t help but startle. My blood starts to boil. I know he did that on purpose! I am going to- My thoughts are cut off as he whispers breathily into my ear. “Don’t ignore me, Darling~” What the f*ck! !” I shoot up immediately and shout.
“How vile!” Only to have him grab my shoulders roughly, and push me back down into the chair. My elbow collides with the armrest painfully and I hiss in pain. I can feel his claws almost piercing my skin through the top I borrowed from Charlie. My eyes widen in fear as I feel dread fill my gut. He slowly circles around the chair, shifting his hands to the armrests, until his grin is directly in front of my face again. He has an obviously smug look in his red eyes.

“Oh, I’m vile now?” His grin grows and the frequency flips through radio stations quicker. “Not exactly the usual reaction to that tactic.” He glances to the side and mutters almost too quietly for me to hear. He immediately fixes me with his gaze again. “Anyway, my dear, now that you aren’t childishly ignoring me, I believe it is time for you to regale me with why you can’t eat what I cook.” I hear wood splintering as his claws grip the armrests. “I will let you know, for the sake of your health, that my patience is officially running thin.” His claws start to rip into the cloth, and I can feel my heart racing. I meet his gaze.

“Fine, you red menace. I am ascetic because I only care about the pursuit of knowledge. I have also seen many ruined by chasing unnecessary indulgences. I refuse to do the same.” I glare at him. “Are you happy now?” He continues to stare into my eyes and leans in closer, static increasing. His bloody breath washes over me as his breathing grows heavy and raw terror enters my veins. I try my best to keep a calm façade. The closer he gets, the more he smells like death. I can see his sharp teeth getting closer and closer to me. I finally close my eyes and wait for the inevitable bite and tear. However, instead of pain I feel suddenly feel him back away and disengage from the armchair. I open my eyes hesitantly, to see that he has moved to a reasonable distance and in his usually prim and proper stance, throwing and catching his microphone. Out of the corner of his eyes I can see his gaze still trained on me.

“See, that wasn’t so hard was it, darling~” Sheer disgust flows through me, at his patronizing tone and disgusting pet name. I stand from the chair and raise my voice for the first time.

“Do not call me that!” As his grin grows, I realize I have made a mistake. He places his claw on his chin again as though thinking of a response. He chuckles and adjusts his monocle.

“Hmm, no.” My jaw drops at his gall. No? that’s all the response he has! No! I do not want to hear his disgusting face call me that. I draw myself up to my full height, still much shorter than the seven foot demon.

“Excuse me! Did you just say no! I do not want to hear such disgusting words out of your smarmy mouth!” I realize I have officially lost my cool. My hands are curled so hard the knuckles are turning white. He seems delighted.

“Oh, you are a feisty one, darling~.” He faces me again. “I must admit I have never heard a sheba call such things disgusting! How entertaining!” Laugh track. I feel my rage boiling, but I forcibly close my eyes and begin to breathe deeply, hands trembling. I need to calm down, and what the hell is a sheba! Thankfully, before the red bastard can do something else to piss me off, Charlie walks through the still open door. She looks confused to see Alastor, with his trademark grin, and me absolutely livid.

“Um, what happened?” She squeaks out. I feel a breeze as he probably waves his microphone towards me.

“Why Charlotte, I was just inquiring as to why our dear human wasn’t at breakfast. Isn’t that right my dear.” He approaches and lays his arm over my shoulder. I try to remove it to no avail. I grunt and resume my breathing techniques in attempt to not explode. I shakily make a request to Charlie.

“Charlie,” deep breath, “I need you to remove this disgusting creature before I gouge out my own eyes to prevent myself from looking at his ugly face.” A record scratch sound rings out and his arm goes stiff as his claws start to dig into my shoulder. I can sense his red eyes on me, but I don’t even look at him and Charlie lets out a surprised sound.

“Um, Alastor you should probably leave, I don’t think she wants you to be here right now.” I keep my eyes closed until I feel him shift away, the radio static in the air is deafening. He doesn’t say a word and suddenly the radio static and prickly felling is gone.

“He is gone now Eleanor; you can open your eyes now.” I do so and collapse on my armchair, inspecting the damage he did to the arms. They are completely crushed and shredded. That could have been me. A sobering thought indeed. “I must admit, it was really freaky to see you so mad. I haven’t known you that long, but even I can tell it probably takes a lot to get you that mad.” She laughs nervously. “I can’t believe it! You should have seen the face he made; it would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous. You need to watch your back; he has done a lot of bad things. Can you tell me what happened?” I go into detail about his antics, and she doesn’t look shocked, at least until I get to the thing that set me off. As I explain what he said I can feel my rage bubbling over again. I look over at Charlie and she looks a bit confused.

“I understand why you would be scared through that whole encounter; Alastor is an asshole. I would have probably lost my temper much earlier. Vaggie would have gone off the deep end near the start.” She giggles. “But… why was him calling you darling what set you off? It just seems so innocuous compared to the other things he did.” I take a deep breath. I guess it would seem strange. Whatever, it is not like anything is going to get better if I leave it open ended.

“I must admit that my weakness is along that vein. I absolutely despise being thought of as attractive in any way. It is nothing but a danger, especially because even the thought of the more carnal aspect of human nature makes me physically ill. I did not grow up in a particularly forgiving place. I have seen many women go through horrific things just because they were wooed by horrific people or were found to be ‘attractive’ to them. There has never been anything positive to come out of any relationships I have seen. Luckily, I managed to escape such attentions, but living in that hellhole has changed who I am on a basic level.” I sigh. “Men are simply a danger, and hearing his pompous voice call me such a disgusting thing just set me off. I wanted to rip his head off but knew that I couldn’t, so I just imploded. Before you ask, I am aware that he was only trying to get a reaction, that’s why I got angry instead of vomiting immediately. Thank you for helping me get rid of him by the way. If you hadn’t shown up at that point in time, I would have probably kept digging my own grave until I ended up as a blood stain on the carpet!” I laugh at my own morbid humor, but Charlie seems less than impressed.

“I know that you probably have heard this before, but I am sorry you had to go through that. I disagree with your assessment of love, but I understand your point of view. I will try to talk to him and get him to leave you alone, I can’t promise you anything, but I will at least try.” She rallies her mood and breaks into a wide smile. “How about we lift your mood by getting you some clothing,” she glances me over, “I didn’t realize you were so thin! I thought my clothes would fit you better, here,” she hands me some safety pins, “let me help you pin those pants, so they don’t keep shifting.” She helps me pin the temporary pants at the waistband, and we start to head to the lobby of the hotel. I am slightly nervous as I haven’t yet met any of the other guest or seen the remainder of the hotel.

“I have already told everyone that you are here, and a couple of them are excited to meet a human! Husk… well he doesn’t really care, but that is nothing new!” A new name, Husk, interesting. As we walk through the halls, suddenly a short little demon rushes through cleaning and dusting every single corner, moving at an insane speed. She pauses in front of me, and I notice that she is a cyclops with one large orange eye, and bright pink hair.

“Ohhh my goodness, you must be the human!” As starts shaking my hand, her strength catches me off guard. “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Niffty, and I love to clean! What do you like to do?” Her eye starts darting everywhere.

“Hi, my name is Eleanor, it is nice to meet you as well. I like to read and embroider; those are my only real hobbies.”

“Really! I haven’t met a lady that could embroider in ages! I bet Al would like you.” My face freezes. I manage to force out some polite words before Niffty excuses herself to continue cleaning. As she rushes off, I take a deep breath and calm my nerves. I need to remain apathetic towards him. It pisses him off more anyway. He wants entertainment, so I will just become as boring as possible. We continue down the stairs into what I assume to be the lobby, which is quickly confirmed.

“This is the lobby! Isn’t it just wonderful!” Charlie gestures to the grand room, that is mostly empty. I do spot a strange sight in a place that is supposed to redeem sinners.

“Is that a bar?” Her face falls and she grumbles something about Alastor putting it there and how it is what helps bring in the sinners to begin with. “I see…” At the bar I see two more new faces, a pink and white spider creature with four arms in an extremely lascivious pink dress, and a large white and gray cat with wings.

“Angel, Husk, meet our new guest, Eleanor!” she gestures to me and the two at the bar seem unimpressed.

“So, this is tha’ human? She is awfully skinny, ain’t no one wanna bang someone with no meant on their bones.” How dare he!

“Excuse me. I do not take kindly to such crude topics in relation to myself.” The spider scoffs.

“C’mon toots, ya’ need ta’ lighten up. What are ya’ a prude?” He fluffs his… chest? …bust? Whatever.

“I am happily a prude, and I will be until I die.” He seems caught off guard, but just laughs it off.

“Whateva' Mother Theresa, I need ta’ get ta’ work anyway. Ciao bitches.” He says as he struts out of the building.

“That must make you husk; it is nice to meet you.” The cat just stares at me and continues to drink his bottle of booze.

“Ok, hi, whatever, you want a drink?” He just grumbles as he goes back to his riveting task of getting as drunk as possible.

“No thank you I don’t drink.” The cat doesn’t seem to care.

“Then f*ck off, I’m only here cause’ I have to be. I don’t need any more chatterboxes.” He has to be?

“You have to be here? Why can you not leave?” I ask confused. He just grunts and mutters.

“I was ‘volunteered’ by that asshole Alastor. Now f*ck off.” I feel sorry for Husk, I know how much of a pest Alastor is. I decide to give Husk his desired space and start walking back over to Charlie. Before I get far, I hear one last parting comment from the bartender.

“Hey kid, consider this a warning, don’t make any deals with Alastor. It will only end badly, I should know.” I nodded and accepted his advice, rejoining Charlie. I slip on the illusion ring the red menace gave me, and we walk out of the large stained-glass doors.

Chapter 5: Rosie's Emporium

Notes:

I totally portrayed Rosie wrong, I like her and Alastor's friendly relationship much more in the Amazon series, but please enjoy regardless!

Chapter Text

We exit the building, and I am met with a red sky and a twisted cityscape. There are advertisem*nts everywhere for drugs, weapons, and sex. I shudder at the lewder posters but decide to just ignore them. I look up at the oddly colored sky, a pentagram sits where the sun would be, and a bright white planet sits near it. Charlie catches me looking at the sky and tells me that the white orb is, in fact, heaven. They seem to like taunting the sinners who live in hell, don’t they? She leads me to a limousine, and we scramble in.

“Ok, so the first place we are going to go will have underclothes that you might need. Your particular style is a little tricky, there are very few places that offer modest clothing. The only one I can think of is Rosie’s, because she has everything. We could try a few other places, but they probably won’t have much for you.” We settle into the car, Charlie sits by the window and I sit straight as a board in the center.

“That sounds good to me, I am not that picky otherwise. I trust in my ability to make do, so don’t worry! Oh, can we also get some paper and writing utensils when we get the other necessities I need?” I put on a hopeful look slightly turning my head towards her, and Charlie giggles.

“Of course! We also need to make sure you have hygiene products, I put some small ones in your bathroom but those won’t last long. Your hair is really pretty and long, so maybe we should get you some hair products?” I laugh a little at that and my hands unconsciously grasp at my usual tight bun, ensuring it is still intact.

“I do not use any hair products other than the basic shampoo and conditioner; I only ever have my hair down when I am sleeping or letting it dry. Other than that, it is kept neatly in a bun. I must say that I do not need much overall, merely the basics are good enough for me!” She seems a little disappointed and fiddles with her fingers. We sit in an awkward silence for a minute or two. My face lights up as I remember something I wanted to ask her. “Oh, Charlie, I had a question may I ask it?” She sits up straight. I am reminded of when my best friend described me as ‘like a no-nonsense professor.’ I giggle internally at the memory.

“Of course, Eleanor, there is no need to beat around the bush, ask away!”

“I remember you saying that you have a library, is that correct?” less than subtle excitement enters my usually quiet voice. Charlie co*cks her head thoughtfully for a moment.

“Yeah, there is a huge library in the hotel, but it is super disorganized and some of the books are falling apart.” Her eyes reflect a sadness when she says that, and she wrings her hands. Perfect. The worse it is at the start, the more work I will have. I love a good fixer upper. I adjust my voice to not offend Charlie with my excitement.

“Well, I am going to have to stay here for a while and I hate not being productive. I thought I might be able to ask for a job.” She perks up. “I could organize your library, repair the damaged books, and manage the library if you want guests to be able to utilize it.” A sparkle enters her eyes. “If a book is too damaged to repair, I could even transcribe them into a new copy! It is up to you, but I have a large amount of experience working in bookstores and libraries.” Charlie looks like she is about to explode with joy, but quickly she shakes herself.

“You don’t need to work you know.” She folds in on herself. “It’s our fault that you are in this mess, you don’t need to push yourself if you don’t want to.” She glances over at me in trepidation.

“Do not worry about me. I could not possibly sit around with nothing productive to do. I will also let you know that my one true love is literature of any kind!” She jolts back a bit at my sudden passion. Her face splits into dopey grin.

“Well, if you want to work so much… You’re hired!” My heart soars and I cant help myself from donning a small grin of my own. She turns to me with an inquisitive glint in her eye. “You seem to really love books; I am glad you shared your passion with me! I will keep it in mind.” She asks me more about my bibliophilic habits and I oblige.

“You see back in my home; I have a grand library and I spend all of my time reading when not at work!” My exuberance seems contagious, and she starts to jitter with excitement. I gesture wildly as I describe my beloved collection of over three thousand books. “I especially love a good history book; I just recently acquired a large amount of true crime books from an estate sale. I managed to get through about ninety percent of them before… well… I ended up here…” I trail off as I regain my senses and realize that I probably won’t see my collection again any time soon. She has a pained look in her eye before brightening up again.

She starts to regale me on all of her plans for the hotel, and I can tell she is trying to cheer me up. I learn that it is supposed to be called the Happy Hotel and they only have one guest so far, Angel Dust. I thought the sign said Hazbin Hotel? Whatever, it is not that important. As she talks, we arrive at our first stop. The driver of the limo opens the door for us and Charlie goes to grab my hand. I recoil slightly and apologize.

”Sorry, I do not really like touching people.” I look at her guiltily.

“No worries! I should have asked, don’t worry about it ill be more careful next time.” She reassures me as I follow her out of the vehicle. I am met with a shocking storefront. There is a neon pink sign that says ‘Lingerie and More’ and photos of scantily clad demons adorn the windows. I feel myself freeze and Charlie giggles at my discomfort.

“Don’t worry, they have some more plain options. This is the least scandalous place I could think of honestly!” I nod robotically and follow her as she scurries inside the… establishment. I keep my eyes down and trail behind her like a lost lamb until she stops and whirls around.

“You can look up now Eleanor!” I hesitate but look up to see we are in a secluded corner, with one display of plain undergarments. I let out a relieved sigh and prevent my eyes from straying anywhere else as I select the least ornamented options. Unfortunately, they have some lace, but I decide to just make do. I end up grabbing ten sets of white underwear and two white bras. Charlie also reminds me to grab some socks, and I grab ten pairs of white ankle length ones.

“I have made my selections Charlie; can we check out quickly please?” She giggles at my obvious discomfort and leads me to the checkout counter as I gaze downward again. We reach the counter and I deem it safe to look up as Charlie hands the clerk my suggestions. The clerk arches an eyebrow at my selections and glances back and forth at me and the garments. Thankfully she doesn’t say anything, and we depart the store after Charlie pays.

The driver opened the doors for us, and we shuffle into the car, resuming our previous positions. Charlie hands me the paper bag with my purchases. I promptly fold it into a bundle and shove it in the corner of the car, making sure the shop logo is covered. Charlie glances over at my antics with a tiny smile but abstains from commenting to my relief. She suddenly takes a deep breath after about ten minutes of driving.

“So, I need to give you a little warning about Rosie’s” I feel myself go rigid at the serious tone. “She is friends with Alastor,” I take a sharp breath but say nothing, “and she is also one of the leaders of the Cannibal Colony.” She looks at me nervously and I take a deep breath relaxing my tense muscles. Cannibal Colony? Great the red menace is a Cannibal too? Just my luck. At least I know what he wants now. I should confirm that though.

“Cannibal Colony? Well, I guess this is hell for a reason,” I scoff and look out the window, “however, if Alastor is friends with her… does that make him a cannibal as well?” I ask quietly, already knowing the answer. She cringes and it is all but confirmed. She sighs and her usually boisterous voice sounds strained.

“Yes, Alastor is a cannibal.” She states simply and I let out a small sigh. She however continues. “Unlike Rosie he is not technically a leader cannibal colony, but he is the most powerful cannibalistic demon in hell.” My eyes widen slightly, and I turn to face her, she has a defeated look on her face. “He is the only Overlord that is a cannibal, so he is very popular there. I think his estate is there as well.” An Overlord… I read about those in the books she gave me. They are powerful… that could be an issue. I shift uncomfortably in the heavy silence and Charlie fixes me with her gaze, waiting for my reaction. I decide to try to lighten the mood with a joke.

“So that is why his breath smells like blood. How distasteful!” I can’t help but laugh and Charlie giggles at my poor wordplay. However, her eyes turn serious again and I give her my full attention.

“I think you need to hear more about Alastor, especially because of how much you dislike him.” Dislike is an understatement. “He is a very powerful demon, he showed up in… I think… 1939? Well, around then, and immediately went on a killing spree.” Why am I not surprised. I nod at her to continue. “I only heard about it from my dad, but he said Alastor killed such a large number of demons that the streets literally ran red with blood.” I grimace imagining myself as a mangled corpse. “He managed to overthrow almost all of the overlords that had reigned for centuries and became an overlord himself, in record time.” I am shocked to hear just how much of a menace that red freak is but I refrain from commenting. “He became known as the Radio Demon, and he is a dealmaker. He likes to trick people into selling him their soul for who knows what.” Perfect. At least one upside is I know what he wants. I will go forward with the assumption that he wants to make a deal, like he tried to earlier, and if he fails he will probably eat me. No big deal. I steel myself and resolve to prepare myself for the worst case scenario, but I retain hope that he will just lose interest. My face returns to it’s apathetic guise and I hazard a question.

“Is there a reason he is called the Radio Demon? Aside from his… auditory effects?” I shift slightly in my seat.

“Yeah, he broadcast his carnage over radio on his first day and continues to go on rampages in random parts of pentagram city, broadcasting all of them.” I knew he was attention seeking, might as well add that to the confirmed pile. “The only part of the city he hasn’t ravaged is the Cannibal Colony, probably because of an agreement with Rosie.” She sighs and I add Rosie to the list of dangers in my mind. She starts speaking again, but she sounds slightly… scared? “Another important piece of information is that the demons he killed were actually erased. You see, demons supposedly can’t die here unless killed by angel weapons, then they are considered erased. When a demon is killed, they sorta respawn, Vaggie says it’s like a video game. Anyway, none of the demons he killed respawned. He has managed to discover a way to erase souls and he most likely siphoned their power when doing so. I don’t know if he has an angelic weapon or some other sort of power but he is dangerous nonetheless. He is so dangerous, in fact, that my dad warned me not to piss him off when he heard he was helping with my project.” I gasp reflexively to hear that Lucifer is wary of the red menace as well. I regather myself.

“Lovely. So, why is the red menace man helping you with your project in the first place?” She smiles self-consciously and giggles at my moniker for him.
“He said it was because of ‘sheer, absolute boredom’ and that he wanted to watch sinners try and fail to redeem themselves for his entertainment.” Figures. He really is childish. Entertainment? I will need to keep that in mind. “Unfortunately, he seems to consider you some kind of new toy, so you need to be careful.” I grimace “I don’t recommend making any deals with him, no matter how good they sound.”

“Do not worry about that. I will never make a deal with him; I would rather end up on his little radio show before that.” She grimaced but nods at my resolve. We sit in a heavy silence as we arrive at Rosie’s. Looking at the front it appears to be an old-fashioned style building. It is rather large and has large windows with the name painted on. It looks like there used to be a previous owner. I think, as I see the crossed-out name before Rosie’s. We exit the vehicle and walk up to the ornate glass door. We both take a deep breath, and she pushes it open.
A bell jingles announcing our arrival and tall demon woman dressed in black with a large hat appears to greet us. I sense Charlie is a bit surprised, but I hesitate to say anything in front of the tall demoness, out of self-preservation. I can feel her black eyes staring at me and I force myself to not shift uncomfortably. I remain standing tall with perfect posture and look her in the eye as well. A brief flash of surprise crosses her eyes as she turns and addresses Charlie.

“Charlie, I wasn’t expecting a visit from you today!” This must be Rosie, why did she greet us at the door if she did not expect her? “You haven’t visited in so long, why it has been months! The last time you were here was for that one party, right?” She guides us deeper into the shop, never pausing to let Charlie speak. “And who is this lovely lady you brought with you? She looks like a dear friend of mine, you know.” She finally pauses her question onslaught. I feel my heart drop. Great, of course she would mention that, I just want to forget that I look like that red freak. Charlie makes polite conversation, but I can tell she is on edge.

“It is good to see you too Rosie, she is a new guest at my hotel. She just fell the other day, so she doesn’t have any clothing! I thought your emporium would be the perfect place to go.” She flatters the hell out of Rosie, and it appears to work because Rosie smiles genuinely at her.

“I see, she certainly seems new. I bet Alastor would find her very interesting, is he still helping with your little passion project?” Charlie cringes at Rosie’s patronizing tone and I cringe at the name-drop of my personal hell. Charlie assumes a fake smile.

“Yeah, he is still helping. He is the one to suggest taking Eleanor here clothes shopping.” She trails off and shrugs. Rosie does not seem surprised, almost like she expected this. Suspicious. I glance around the store as I follow the two ladies. There are rows and rows of beautiful garments, with the vast majority of them being in vintage styles. I do see some more modern pieces, however. They appear to be sorted by decade and color. Out of the corner of my eye I see shadow shift and I give a small start, but when I turn there is nothing abnormal. I am jumping at shadows now. Great.

“Well, what type of clothing are you looking for Miss Eleanor.” Rosie’s voice cuts through my unease. I look over and her eyes are fixed on me, surveying the clothes currently pinned to my waifish body. I stand up straight and ensure I keep my voice even keeled.

“I am in need of seven sets of plain and modest clothing in neutral colors. I do not need for them to be flattering, but it would be nice if they fit correctly.” He eyebrows arch in disapproval. I stand confidently, refusing to show a reaction.

“Come now, I would never allow a customer to leave with unflattering clothing. Plain and modest… I don’t think I have ever gotten a request like that before!” She seems genuinely surprised and I refrain from commenting. “I will need to take your measurements, if that is ok with you?” I hesitate, glancing at Charlie who nods and shoots me a pitying look. I acquiesce and she leads me to a private measuring room.

“Alright Miss Eleanor, I will need you to strip down to your undergarments.” I recoil physically and she seems surprised and amused at my reaction.
“Is that necessary?” My voice comes out hoarse.

“Well, if you want the clothing to fit perfectly it sure is!” She giggles and I weigh my options. She looks at me expectantly. I steel my resolve and remove my outer clothes without saying another word. My extremely skinny form is revealed as Rosie begins to take measurements. I cringe every time her hand brushes against my skin. She mutters to herself.

“She really is stick thin, Alastor wasn’t lying!”

“Excuse me? I did not hear you.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, sweetie. I have finished up your measurements.” I rush to put my clothing back on before she says another word. She chuckles. “You are free to look around while I gather a few things that you might like. If you spot anything that you want, feel free to grab it.” She waves me off and heads through a door, probably leading to a back room. I watch her leave and briefly see a scrap of red through the doorway before the door is closed. I begin to slowly look around at the clothing after telling Charlie that the measurements have been taken. There are so many old-fashioned designs that I love, but I manage to reign myself in and focus on looking for the plainest garments on display. I spot a simple floor length skirt in a secluded corner, and I rejoice at my find. I grab two pairs, one in white and the other in light brown. I continue to search and manage to find a white long sleeve shirt, with no bells or whistles. I pick it up and I hear Charlie calling me to the changing rooms. I walk over to the spacious changing area and am met with an intimidating mountain of clothing. I can feel my eyebrow twitch as I take it in. Only about twenty percent of the pile seem to meet my requirements and I face Rosie with a look that demands answers. She just stands proud next to the pile with a beaming smile.
“Well sweetie, it’s time for you to try on some clothing. I had a helper to pick some out, so if you don’t like something feel free to say so.” I sigh and glance at Charlie who just shrugs. This is going to take a while. I begin by trying on the variety of brightly colored vintage dresses that do not fit my specifications. They are all extremely well crafted, but I can’t help but frown at each of them. They are much to showy for my tastes. The only way to describe them is attention grabbing. The worst one of the bunch is a bright red dress that has a low swooping neckline that exposes my entire shoulder and neck. I make a disgusted face which makes Rosie and Charlie laugh. I promptly reject it and move on. I quickly notice that Rosie is placing the rejected clothing into two piles. Two piles? It would be much easier to just have one.

I finally make it to the clothes that show promise and I manage to select seven suitable outfits and Rosie seems surprised that I actually wanted them to be plain and modest. She doesn’t comment and leads us to the checkout. She personally tallies the order and sends us off to the car. As I leave the shop, I feel a weight leave my shoulders. Charlie also seems much more comfortable as we head to the next stop.

………….

The bell jingles signifying the exit of the customers and Rosie makes her way to the back room. She sidles in carrying one of the piles of rejected clothing, setting it on a low table across from a certain deer demon. “Here you go Alastor, these are the clothes that looked the best on her from your selections.” She sits across from the red figure and picks up her teacup. He sips his black coffee elegantly. Placing the cup back down he responds.

“Why thank you my dear Rosie, did she select any of them to purchase herself? I know how dames just love clothing.” He sets his elbow on the table and puts his chin in his hand, gazing unblinkingly at Rosie. Rosie politely laughs and sips her, now cold, tea.

“No,” He co*cks his head, “she seemed to hate all of them! She rejected every single item you selected,” she lifts the offending red dress, “the way she reacted to this one was as if it tried to kill her.” She chuckles slightly and Alastor narrows his eyes at her. He remains still for a moment before standing up violently, startling Rosie.

“My word!” He strides over to the pile with refined movements. “I must say I didn’t expect that! She actually bought such drab clothing, even with such fine options in front of her! What a confounding dame. How entertaining!” A laugh track plays. He picks up the red dress with a flourish and examines it with mock interest. Suddenly the radio static increases violently in volume and his smile grows sinister. “Do you want to know what the bearcat called me today.” Rosie reels at the sudden change in atmosphere. His words spoken more as a statement then a question. “I am sure it will shock you; it certainly, shocked me. I almost punished her on the spot, even though princess Charlotte was right there!” He drops the dress back onto the pile with a flourish as he turns back around, fixing Rosie with stare as he leans his elbows on the table behind him. Rosie sets her teacup down with shaky fingers.

“Why, of course I would love to know Alastor, you know I love some good gossip!” She says confidently but shifts nervously at his obviously sinister smile. His smile grows even larger, struggling against the confines of his face.

“She called me a disgusting ugly creature!” Rosie can’s stifle a gasp, and Alastor inspects the claws on one of his hands. “Can you believe that my dear!” Chills run down her spine as his eyes narrow, taking in her every movement. He stops leaning, and straightens up again. Her mind rapidly tries to think of the best thing to say. Why would he be upset at being called ugly? He knows very well that he isn’t. Why, he is the most eligible bachelor in the Colony.

“Oh my! I am sure that she didn’t mean it, you know how the women in the Colony love you so!” Her attempt at flattery seems to do nothing to improve his mood and he ambles back to the table Rosie is seated at. His upbeat voice holds a dangerous element to it.

“I am aware of my own charms in the Colony, much to my chagrin,” He taps his microphone on the table twice in front of the rigid demoness, “but I am sure she believed what she said!” He lifts his microphone violently, just barely missing her face, and with a flourish, a smoky screen reflects a replay of the altercation for Rosie. “You see the gal said she would rather blind herself than look at me! What a gutsy dame, why, I was ab-so-lute-ly surprised!” Rosie stares at the side of his face as he rewatches the events again through narrowed eyes, grin twitching. She shifts uncomfortably. I don’t see why he cares so much, but what if… no, that can’t be it he has never once cared for the opposite sex so why would he care now? It must be something else.

“What are you planning on doing Alastor?” He snaps to attention as if breaking out of a stupor. “Are you going to kill her” Rosie hazards a guess. “I’m sure her flesh would be delectable.” Alastor laughs along to the sudden laugh track and turns to face her again.

“No, my dear Rosie!” He says as if talking to a child. “That would be a waste of such valuable prey. I have a different fate in mind for our dear human!” He sends his microphone away with a flourish of his hands and the smoke screen disappears as well. “How much for the clothes?” He gestures to the pile and Rosie blinks owlishly at the sudden question.

“You are going to buy them?” She scrambles to keep up with his change in topic. “Why?” She already knows her own mistake as the lights in the room begin to flicker and snapping resounds from Alastor’s antlers as they grow slightly. He bends at the waist to bring his face directly in front of Rosie’s, bloody breath washing over her. The static rises to an uncomfortable degree sending warning signals through her nerves.

“I don’t believe you should question my decisions, Woman.” He spits out venomously. “I don’t take kindly to meddling. How much.” He reiterates slowly, gradually leaning closer to the scared woman. Rosie starts to shake slightly as she rapidly tells him the price and apologizes profusely. His antlers shrink back down and the static drops, he remains staring at her for another second before springing beck up into perfect posture and flourishing with his reappeared microphone.

“How jake! I will purchase them all.” He waves his hand above them, and they are absorbed into shadows. Rosie heaves a sigh of relief as her heart pounds. “Put them on my tab my dear Rosie and keep her measurements on record.” He glances to her out of the corner of his eye. “I also would like you to procure me some books.”

“Certainly Alastor, what books would you like me to search for!” She shouts a little too enthusiastically. Alastor raises an eyebrow before twirling and making a grand gesture, microphone gone again.

“I would like any you can find on souls and, more specifically, mortal souls in hell, my dear. I plan to do some research of my own about this little summoning mishap. The gal seems dead set on hightailing it out of hell without making a deal with yours truly!” He chuckles to himself. Rosie’s heart begins to pound as he drains the last of his coffee.
“I will find what I can, d-do you want to pick them up or to have them delivered?” She wrings her hands under the table.

“Attagirl! Have them delivered to my estate in the Colony, I do hope you expedite this little order.” His voice drops. “For your sake.” He pauses and maintains eye contact before suddenly turning and heading to the door. “Well, Off I go, back to the princess’s little passion project. I should do a radio broadcast on the way back too. I need to relieve some stress.” He mutters. “Don’t take any wooden nickels, my dear!” The door opens without him turning the knob, and he walks out with perfect poise. Rosie rises from her seat and summons an employee to clean up the tea table. Be careful little human, you don’t have a clue what you have just done.

………….

On the ride to the next store, I sigh melodramatically. Charlie giggles.

“I forgot how tiring clothes shopping can be!” I exclaim dramatically to lighten the mood. “The last time I went clothes shopping was when my best friend was still alive, she loved buying new clothes and would always try to get me to buy something for myself.” I laugh at the fond memory and Charlie smiles.

“Yeah, Vaggie always says the same thing. I haven’t seen such a huge pile of clothes since the last time I went to Rosie’s to get a dress for a party.” I giggle this time at the memory of the clothing mountain. She continues, “your best friend passed away? Do you think she would be in heaven?” I chuckle at her hesitant question.

“No, she would definitely be down here with us! If I am being honest, I am probably hell bound as well, so there is no shame in that.” She seems curious about something but I quickly change the topic. “I wonder who helped her pick out the clothes? Most of them were not anything like what I asked for, at least there were clothes that worked out.” I brush my hand over the shopping bag from Rosie’s. Charlie looks out the window back in the direction of the shop we just left.

“I was wondering that too! I have never heard of Rosie having someone help her pick things out, she is generally headstrong and independent!” She imitates Rosie’s posture and I can’t help but laugh. Charlie sticks out her tongue with a wink. “Well, whoever it is obviously didn’t care about what you actually wanted!” We continued to talk about the various clothing items that I tried on as we arrive to our final location for the day, a general store to get all the small necessities. We hop out of the car and enter the large store.

I begin to gather all of the essentials, such as hygiene products. Charlie shows me around to all of the sections I need and eventually I have a nice little pile of goods in the basket. I excitedly ask her where the stationary is and we amble over. I grab five reams of paper and a large container of pens. Charlie stares in wide eyed shock.

“Wow, that’s a lot of paper!” She motions to the cart. I hold my hands to my chest like a schoolgirl, and I giggle.

“I have access to a whole new library. Who knows what type of books are in there, notes are not going to take themselves after all!” I run a hand along my sleeve trying to keep my excitement in check. “I was also going to make a catalogue of the books you have, to make it easier to find what people want.” She nods and seems to be more understanding of the purchase.

“That makes sense, I guess you are the scholarly type.” She brushes a hand over her hair. “People like you are rare in hell; most people would rather spend their time drinking and partying.” I shudder at the image and feign indignance. “Anyway, do you need anything else? You said you like to embroider to Niffty; do you want to go to a craft store to get some materials for that?” I shake my head.

“No, I would rather not, I am tired, and I don’t want to do anything that would draw the red menace’s attention more.” She nods in understanding, and we head to the checkout. Climbing back into the car, Charlie grins while looking over our haul. I manage a small smile but a sinking feeling resides in my gut. Back to the hotel, sigh. I hope that the red menace finds something better to do tonight.

Chapter 6: The Stairs

Notes:

Trigger warning for threats of violence, please feel free to let me know where I can improve this fic, I am open to suggestions! I wrote it over a year ago at this point, so I would love to hear constructive criticism!

Chapter Text

Arriving back at the hotel I pull my shopping bags out of the limo, shoving the undergarments bag into one of the others. I stand up tall and turn to the hotel my gaze resting on the sign. It definitely doesn’t say Happy Hotel. I turn to Charlie, and she follows my gaze and frowns.

“Alastor.” I nod in complete understanding. We gather our things and enter the hotel. The lobby is surprisingly empty except for a passed-out Husk at the bar. I ignore the plastered cat and turn to Charlie.

“Alright, I should head to my room to set everything up.” I motion to the array of bags. “I also want to know where the library is, so I can get a good idea of what I am working with.” She gives me the directions to the library and informs me that I am not to do any work today. Tomorrow will be my first day and she will give me a good paycheck. I just shake my head and acquiesce to her coddling.

As I begin heading up to my room, Vaggie rushes past me to Charlie. It seems that Alastor hasn’t been in the hotel all day, despite being told to stay here for protection, and Vaggie is upset. I decide that it isn’t my business and continue up to my room. I unlock the door and bring my bags in, chills run up and down my spine as I recall the incident from this morning. I forcibly dismiss my unease and begin to unpack my bags.

I start with the bag from Rosie’s and hang my seven outfits in the large walk-in closet, giggling at how ridiculous it looks to have so much space. I unfold the bag of undergarments and neatly put them into the top drawer of the wooden wardrobe. Moving on to the general store bag I place the unscented shampoo and conditioner in the shower, along with the basic bar soap. I hang up the beige towel I purchased and lay the toothbrush, toothpaste and hairbrush and miscellaneous hygiene products in the medicine cabinet. I also place a small gray container of hair ties next to the sink, for when I need to put my hair up again.

Moving out of the bathroom I headed to the desk with a pep in my step. I arrange the reams of paper on the left side of the desk. I open the top ream and position it for easy access to the sheets of paper. I also placed the stapler and ruler on that side of the desk on top of a large package of manilla file folders I grabbed last minute. On the right side of the table, I place a cup and fill it with my new pens. Admiring my work, I am tempted to start taking notes on the two books Charlie gave me but restrain myself. Work before play Eleanor! I need to check out the library, and then I can start my research.

I change out of the ill-fitting clothing Charlie gave me and into a floor length beige skirt with a white long sleeve blouse. The clothes fit me nicely and I re-fasten my bun to ensure there are no flyaways. Ensuring my appearance is spic and span I fold the borrowed clothing and set the safety pins on top of the bundle. I resolve to return the clothing after a research session. I vaguely remember that dinner is somewhere around seven, but I dismiss it due to it’s irrelevance.

I leave my room, locking the door behind me, and start heading in the direction Charlie told me the library was. As I roam the halls, I notice how strange the layout of the hotel is. There are strange numbering rules of the rooms, and the dimensions seem slightly off in some areas. I climb the steps to the third floor and eventually make it to a door labeled ‘Library’. I brace myself for a trainwreck, from what Charlie told me. I grab the door handle and slowly open the door. It creaks but opens smoothly revealing a pitch-black room.

I fumble for the light switch and flip it on. The electric chandelier flickers on, bathing the massive room in yellow light. There is a seating area in the center of the room that appears to have been used recently. There are plush red couches surrounding a low wooden table, and numerous plush red armchairs. The bookshelves are massive and numerous, spanning the entirety of the walls. Every possible space is crammed with deteriorating books, scrolls, and documents. There is a sturdy seeming rolling ladder attached to the shelving units, due to them reaching the tall ceiling. I stand in awe of the magnificent library. There is a thick coating of dust over everything except the seating area, and the books are completely disorganized, but I feel sheer excitement at the prospects of fixing this place up into something magnificent.

I stroll along the bottom shelves and see so many interesting books that my heart starts fluttering with joy. Some are in a language that I can’t recognize, much like the red book that got me in this mess. The vast majority are in languages that I know, however. I spot Latin, English, and French. The rest of them are in languages I recognize but can’t read, such as Spanish and German. I grab two of the more interesting tomes and blow the dust off of them. One is a botanical guide to species only found in hell and the other is a book about where infamous figures ended up after their deaths. I arrange them into a small stack.

Making my way out of the library, I return to my room and place the two new books underneath the ones I already have and take a seat at the desk. I set my alarm to go off at eight PM, knowing that if I don’t, I will spend all night reading. I delicately open the book I was reading in the morning and flip back to the start. I hate having to restart it, but now I can take notes! Taking a deep breath, I hone my focus in on the task at hand and begin to take copious notes on the large book losing all sense of time.

I wrap up my notes on the section about overlords when I am startled by my alarm. Snapping out of my focused state I can feel my tense muscles screaming at me, I stretch them out and notice the dimmed state of the light. Flipping on the lamp, the room is bathed in yellow artificial light as I grab my notes. I staple each chapter’s notes into thick packets and place them into their own separate folder, beginning a stack underneath the desk. I stretch again and massage my sore hands.

Heading over to the bed I grab the neat stack of clothing. I have to go return these to Charlie. Walking up to the door, I pause before leaving. I hope I do not run into the red menace. Taking a deep breath, I open the door – only to be met with Alastor primed to knock.

“What the-“Dropping the clothes in surprise I take a step back, hand over my beating heart. Alastor co*cks his head and re-folds his arm behind his back, and I feel the static hit my skin, his radio frequencies skipping around like usual.

“Well, my dear I didn’t know you were so eager to see me! It seems we were on the same wavelength!” He forces his way into the room past me as I attempt to pick up the dropped clothing.
“I was only dropping by,” laugh track, “to ask if you are keeping up with that ridiculous fasting nonsense. Why, it is simply ridiculous!” He turns and rests his microphone in one elbow. Gesturing up and down at me with his free hand and adjusting his monacle. “You look like a stiff breeze could blow you away, my dear! I can see just how much you need to put some meat on your bones, especially now that you have those clothes that fit you.” I shudder. Of course, you would want more meat on my bones, cannibal freak. I stand after gathering the clothing and face him confidently.

“Yes, I am keeping up with the fasting. I will not change my lifestyle just because some,” I motion up and down to him, “narcissist in red wants me to.” I take the chance to exit the door and start making my way to the lobby. I can feel him following me at an uncomfortably close distance. His footsteps leaving sharp clicking, like a deer. I smile to myself internally imagining him as a real deer.

“You know it is very rude to walk away while we are having a riveting conversation, Darling~” I grip the clothing harder refusing to let him see your discomfort. He continues speaking, much to my chagrin. “Speaking of clothing,” I groan internally, “why have you selected such drab ones? A little birdie told me that you went to Rosie’s, and she has some splendid options, yet you chose the plainest rags she has!” I can hear another laugh track and I can feel him gesturing behind me.

“I already told you why, but I guess you have issues with listening. Perhaps you should get your ears checked roadkill.” Heavier static washes over me as I reach the stairs to the lobby. Suddenly I am tugged backwards by my arm, colliding with his solid chest. I look down at his vice grip on my arm his claws threatening to pierce the new shirt and my flesh in one go. I remain facing away from him and he bends down next to my ear from behind. I can see the red of his hair in my periphery and feel his hot breath on my neck. My heart begins to race with instinctual fear. I force myself to remain calm.

“Darling, I would watch what you say~” I cringe as the scent of blood washes over me, much fresher than the last time. My condolences to the poor sap who he got to. “Who knows what I would do if I were offended by your,” He leans in even closer, mouth almost touching my ear his voice drops to barely a whisper, “little insults.” Each syllable sends a shockwave of discomfort through my body as he draws the word out. I can practically feel the sharpness of his teeth at this distance. “Perhaps, it is in your best interest to play nice with me, Darling~” I try to yank my arm out of his grasp and get away, but he doesn’t let go. His other hand coming to rest on my other shoulder, claws brushing across my collarbone, than my neck, tracing my jugular. My eyes go wide. He starts to say something but stops abruptly.

Relief washes over me as I see Vaggie rush up the stairs Directly towards me. He has yet to let go, so I remain stock still. His claws stop drifting across my neck and remain frozen in place but remain threateningly.

“What the f*ck are you doing!” She reaches us and has pulled out a white spear, glowing at the tip. “Let go of her!” Alastor chuckles in my ear, I physically recoil as his breath hits my ear. His claw gently grazing my neck leaving a small scratch that draws no blood. He removes his hands slowly. I move away from him as fast as possible, rubbing my ear forcefully, trying to remove the feeling of his breath and hold my hand over my neck. He straightens up into perfect posture, re-summoning his microphone with a flourish.

“My dear Vagatha, I was just having a conversation with our dear guest!” he motions to me. “You see-”

“Bullsh*t! You were all up in her business you radio f*ckhead! Do you think I'm blind!” She brandishes the spear towards him.

“You are so violent Vagatha!” He pushes the spear out of his face with a single clawed finger, scoffing. “I was merely asking why she missed dinner. You see, I am worried about her health! Why, with such a frail figure, she could waste away overnight!” His smile grows and I can see him looking at me out of the corner of his eyes.

“Whatever, its up to her if she eats or not, asshole. You don’t own her or control her!” He rolls his eyes and Vaggie turns to me. She sees the clothing I am holding. “You are returning those to Charlie, right?” I nod, ignoring the red menace. “Ok, I will go with you, so you don’t have to worry about,” She glares at Alastor, “him.” Alastor laughs at the pair of women before him.

“How about I escort you two fine ladies! We wouldn’t want anything to happen to you two, now would we.” He begins to walk towards us, when Vaggie brandishes the spear towards him again. He holds up his hand in mock innocence, smile wide as ever.

“f*ck off, you’ve done enough for tonight.” Vaggie just seems tired at this point and Alastor, thankfully, backs off.

“Very well, I understand where I am not wanted. I will leave you two dames to your girl talk.” He laughs along with his infuriating laugh track as he twirls and walks away down the hall with purpose, remaining perfectly poised. Vaggie turns to me after making sure he is gone.

“Are you ok? What happened?” She asks with concern.

“I am ok, I was just a little scared. He seems to dislike that I have fasting days, it seems to have bruised his ego that I do not want to eat his cooking.” She looks at me in disbelief.

“All of that for you just not eating his food? What a dipsh*t.” I can’t help but laugh at that, and she smiles, seeing me lighten up a bit.

“You have fasting days? Is it religious in nature, we like to make sure to be as accommodating as possible.” I shake my head.

“No, it is not religious, I practice asceticism.” Vaggie co*cks her head, so I explain further. She seems to understand after I give her the full rundown.

“That makes sense, I was wondering why you missed breakfast and dinner myself! Of course, I wouldn’t assault you because of it!” Her attempt at humor falls flat as we both recall the scene on the stairway. She chuckles awkwardly as we arrive to where Charlie is. It appears to be an office, decorated with an ungodly amount of glitter and rainbows. I am a bit shocked to see the overstimulating scene. Vaggie giggles at my reaction and gets Charlie’s attention.

“Hey Charlie.” Charlie snaps to attention. “Eleanor wanted to return the clothes she borrowed.” I accentuate her statement by holding up the bundle. Vaggie frown. “I also found Alastor being a f*cking wierdo.”

“Oh no! What did he do this time?” Vaggie reacts with surprise.

“This time? What did he do before!” Charlie tries to calm her down. “He was threatening her in her room when I went to pick her up for our outing. He was upset about her skipping breakfast.” Vaggie grimaced.

“I found him holding her hostage on the staircase and getting all touchy-feely with her neck. He was upset about her missing dinner.” Charlie grimaced this time, and I shudder at the disgusting memories. They exchange a look with each other before they turn to me.

“Ok, he seems to be rather sensitive about this food issue. I have a suggestion.” I motion for her to continue. “On days that you are fasting, how about you spend mealtimes at the table anyway, so we can prevent him from lashing out at you.” I ponder my options before agreeing to her proposition.

“Alright, I will spend my mealtimes with you guys, can I bring my research to the table on the days I do not eat?” Charlie gives her assent and seems excited to see me work. I return the clothing and say goodnight to the duo. Returning to my room I make sure to double check my lock, to prevent any possible intruders. Specifically, those in red. I go through my nightly routine, set my alarm and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow on my makeshift floor-bed. My exhaustion prevents me from seeing the shadows shifting in the corner.

Chapter 7: First Breakfast

Chapter Text

Waking up to my alarm, I stretch and massage my stiff shoulders. My stomach gurgles and I fill with excitement, remembering that today I can eat. I take a quick shower and towel down. Leaving my hair down to dry I get dressed in my only dress. It is white and has long sleeves, with the skirt reaching my ankles. I slip on the white shoes and check the time. 5:30. I stop and prevent myself from leaving. I must make my soup, that takes an hour and I have to eat at the table. So… I should start cooking at 6:30. I will head down at six. Forcing myself to sit at my desk, I begin to review my chapter one and two notes, before the clock finally hits six. I shoot up and hurry out the door.

I hurry along the corridor, with my damp ankle length hair trailing behind me. I reach the staircase and stop in my tracks, recalling the threats I received from the red menace yesterday. I unconsciously rub my neck where the barely visible scratch resides. Taking a deep breath, I power down the stairs and into the lobby. The only sound is snoring from the direction of the bar. Smiling to myself slightly, I glance over to see the big cat passed out with an empty bottle labeled ‘cheap booze’. Careful to not wake him up, I open the doors to the kitchen.

The kitchen is absolutely spectacular, and everything is beautifully organized. The cabinets are made of a lovely dark wood, and the counter tops are mostly marble. One section is a built-in butchers block. A large yellow cookbook sits on one of the marble counters next to the giant fridge. I can see that it is in French. I stop myself from looking at it when I recall who does the cooking. Sighing, I resolve to not let him push me around today.

Opening the door to the fridge, I can’t help but be shocked. This is the most stocked fridge I have ever seen! The meat drawer unnerves me however, and I look away. I hope none of that is Alastor’s ‘special reserve’. I chuckle at my little joke and grab a variety of veggies, and a large container of vegetable broth. I open all the cabinets and eventually find a soup pot. I ensure I place everything back where I got it, but I can’t help but be nervous as the clock ticks. Setting the pot on the stove I begin to boil the vegetable broth; I begin chopping the various veggies and adding them in. I get so engrossed I don’t even hear the door open and close. Adding the final ingredients, I place the lid on the pot and turn to begin washing the dishes, only to be met with the last person I want to see.

“Good morning, my dear!” He roughly pats me on the shoulder, I move away from the touch. “It appears you have decided to nourish yourself today, consider me shocked!” He makes an exaggerated gesture to the soup pot. “However, I must say I don’t quite know what you are making. I only just got here after all!” He starts to approach the pot, but I block him with my body.

“I do not think it is any of your business, why do you even care what eat anyway?” I ask genuinely confused, and he laughs as if I told a joke, slapping me on the back.

“My dear! Of course, I would care what our little human guest eats! Humans are delicate creatures after all.” He grabs my wrist lightly, showing how thin it is. My hand is dwarfed by his. “Why, I am not sure I trust you to take care of yourself darling! And as the one who summoned you, the responsibility falls to me to ensure you don’t kill yourself inadvertently!” He plays a laugh track and shoves me out of the way. I hit the cabinets and bruise my hip from the impact. I turn and glare at him as he lifts the lid off of my cooking meal. He grabs a spoon and stirs the simmering liquid, bringing a spoonful to his mouth and tasting it. He reacts as if he has been shot, recoiling dramatically from the pot and slamming the lid down, making me flinch at the sudden noise. The static is deafening, and I can hear Husk fall over in the lobby.

“Why did you do that? You woke Husk!” I can’t help but ask indignantly. He turns stiffly to me and whacks me on the head with his microphone, lightly.

“You don’t seriously expect me to allow you to eat this swill, do you?” He sounds offended and his grin twitches, his voice heavily distorted. “You have denied my cooking for this! Why, there is no meat! No seasonings! It is a travesty masquerading as food.” He looks at me expecting a response, with a hand on his narrow hip eyes narrowed. His clawed fingers tapping the counter.

“Yes, as I have explained for the umpteenth time, I avoid indulgence. That means no seasonings. That means no meat unless I am ill.” I grab the spoon and step in front of the pot again, guarding it from interference. Alastor draws himself to his full height, arms folded behind his back.

“This is an absolute disgrace!” He flourishes his hand towards the pot. He begins to pace the floor in front of me. He gives me side eye, “Let me guess, you are going to retreat to your little hermit den after you finish concocting that swill you call a meal! Why I haven’t seen a dame so incompetent at caring for herself in my life!” He gestures to me, before refolding his arms. He makes a sharp turn on his heel towards me, leaning his weight on the opposing countertop with his elbows.

“That is false, I was going to join you all at the table. I am also perfectly capable of taking care of myself.” I say in smug satisfaction as I give my soup a stir. Alastor stares through me with an unreadable look, before jumping back up into a standing position.

“Aside from the facts that you are woefully inept at caring for yourself, were you the one who decided to join us for your meal, darling? Or did little miss Charlotte recommend it?” He sidles up beside me as I replace the lid on the pot, his voice dripping with a patronizing tone. He thankfully is not touching me, so I reward him with more conversation.

“Yes, Charlie and Vaggie recommended it,” I turn to face him with a mocking gaze, “specifically to prevent you from causing anymore problems. You are so sensitive about this issue after all.” His eyes narrow, but at the same moment Charlie bursts through the kitchen door.

“Good morning you two, how did you sleep!” She skips over to us, I only see a brief moment of concern in her eyes but it disappears when she sees I am fine. I turn away from Alastor and greet her.

“Good morning! I slept fantastically.” I think I hear a small scoff from the peanut gallery but dismiss it. Alastor faces the bubbly blonde and gestures with his microphone.

“Good morning, Charlotte, and to what do we owe the pleasure of this little interruption?” He emphasizes by lightly tapping her on the head with the microphone, and Charlie rubs the spot he hit. Charlie isn’t off put by his barbed words and continues joyfully.

“I wanted to make sure Eleanor was settling in nicely. Did you know she is going to eat with us from now on, Al?” The radio static spikes at the nickname. He sighs dramatically, smile twitching.

“I have heard the good news my charming demon belle.” he twirls her around, “However, have you seen what our dear Eleanor considers to be food? It is downright atrocious!” he gestures to my soup. Charlie shrugs.

“I don’t care what she decides to eat, but isn’t it just vegetable soup? What’s the issue?” Alastor raises an eyebrow, radio static switching through stations rapidly.

“What is the issue! My dear, the issue is that it is woefully under seasoned and there isn’t even a lick of meat in it! The poor gal even used vegetable broth!” He grabs my shoulders lightly and shakes me back and forth. “Why, she looks like a starving orphan and yet refuses to see reason!” I escape from his light grasp. Charlie looks at him incredulously.

“Yet again, you don’t own her Alastor, you can’t force her to eat what she doesn’t want to!” She suddenly looks around the kitchen and looks at the time. “Um.. Al… weren’t you supposed to start making breakfast, like, half an hour ago?” A record scratching sound is heard, and Alastor straightens up grin widening. Without a word he waves his microphone above the countertop. A large variety of breakfast foods appear where he gestured. There is an array of waffles and pancakes, as well as a large variety of breakfast sausages, bacon, and ham. There is also a large container of scrambled eggs and various kinds of juice and coffee.

“My dear Charlotte, this morning will be a self-serve occasion. Tell the rabble that they can grab whatever they wish before sitting at the table. I will go set the dining table.” He walks out the door without a second glance, posture as perfect as ever. Me and Charlie exchange glances, before breaking out into giggles. I finish making my soup and make small talk with Charlie, and Vaggie when she enters about ten minutes later. We tell Vaggie about Alastor forgetting to make the food, and she starts cracking up.

The time for breakfast rolls around, and I serve myself a helping of my soup and cut a slice off a loaf of bread. I portion out the rest of the soup for my lunch and dinner and find a way to fit them into the overstuffed fridge. Collecting my breakfast, I head to the dining table to find it set perfectly with Alastor nowhere to be found. Charlie and Vaggie fix themselves plates and take their seats, flanking me on both sides. Husk stumbles into the dining room and is told to grab a plate from the kitchen. He just grumbles and enters the kitchen, followed by Angel who shows up as Charlie explains the food set up to Husk. Angel sends a few flirtatious comments to the cat, and I giggle. Vaggie seems surprised.

“I though you were, no offense, a mega-prude!” I can’t help but burst into laughter at the comment.

“No offense taken, Vaggie. I do not trouble myself with the affairs of others, everyone is free to do as they please and it is not my place to judge them for that!” The two girls seem a bit surprised. “My best friend when I was in the living world was a girl named Cindy, she just happened to be a prostitute, but I never thought any less of her for it. I even helped her out of a spot of trouble here and there. As long as the ‘attention’ is not aimed at me I could not care less!” Charlie giggles and gestures to the door with her eyes.

“You might actually get along with Angel then, you should try to get to know him sometime.” Vaggie nods but adds.

“Yeah, just don’t let him give you any drugs!” Husk and Angel re-enter the room with their plates and take seats at the table. Niffty enters and grabs herself a plate as well. Eventually everyone is seated and eating, the only person missing is the red menace. Good riddance. I get excited to soon, as the door bursts open surprising everyone at the table. Alastor struts in and surveys the table, eyes lingering on the two filled seats next to me, before taking a seat at the head of the table. As he sits, he snaps his fingers, and his table setting is filled with food. He has a cup of coffee, and a large bloody steak. Angel recoils.

“Aw dude, what the f*ck! You’re havin’ a f*ckin’ steak for breakfast! At least cook it first, Smiles, you’re getting’ blood on the f*ckin’ tablecloth!” Alastor’s grin grows as he faces the spider.

“Well, my effeminate fellow, I could go and get your little swine. I am sure they would make an excellent roast!” Alastor moves to get up, but Angel gasps and holds a hand over his fluffy chest in indignance, shooting out of his chair.

“Don’t you dare you strawberry lookin’ pimp!” The static spikes. “Leave Fat Nuggets outta this!” Alastor plays a laugh track and sits back down.

“I wouldn’t start games you can’t finish my friend!” Angel mutters to himself and sits back down, angrily shoving a piece of waffle in his mouth. Alastor’s attention snaps to me, as I eat my soup and bread slowly.

“My dear, I see you are enjoying your… well, what you call food!” I roll my eyes. Husk looks between me and Alastor, seeming slightly concerned, but says nothing. “However!” The loud word draws my attention back to the red menace. “I do not believe you have anything to do today. It must be dreadfully boring to be stuck in your room all day, my dear! Perhaps I can arrange something for you to do in this fine establishment!” I can’t help but grin as I look over at Charlie. Charlie swallows what she had in her mouth.

“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that Al!” He co*cks his head with a snap and raises one eyebrow. “I already gave her a job; she is starting today!” Her smile as bright as ever. The corner of Alastor’s mouth twitches as he turns to gaze at the jovial blonde.

“I do not believe you told me of this little arrangement, Charlotte. Am I not assisting you in running this establishment?” A look of guilt appears in Charlie’s eyes as Alastor gives her a disappointed look. She stumbles over her words.

“Well, I already gave her the job when we went clothes shopping, but I thought you wouldn’t care.” She fidgets with her hands, shifting the food around on her plate. Vaggie chips in.

“Charlie is the owner of this project, she doesn’t need to tell you everything, sh*tlord.” Angel starts to howl with laughter, and Husk just pours himself a drink, from an unlabeled bottle of booze.

“Of course, I would care! The employment of our darling little human is important to me. I, being the reason why she is here to begin with!” Husk chokes on his drink, sputtering. Alastor looks at him with a raised brow as he coughs. Angel sends heated stares between me and Alastor. Niffty seems spellbound by his every word. Returning to the conversation once more, “Could you enlighten me on the job you gave her, dear?” He motions for her to speak.

“She is going to be in charge of the library,” she turns to me, “She requested to work there herself!” Alastor co*cks his head, motioning for her to continue. She clears her throat. “Um, she is going to re-organize everything and make a catalogue, then once she is done with that, she will just manage the books like a librarian! Isn’t that just wonderful! She said she already has experience in the field to from the mortal world.” The sound of an audience applauding emanates off of Alastor.

“How copacetic!” He rises from the table. I look down at his plate to find that he has already finished but I never saw him eat a single bite. He drains his coffee and rounds the table towards me. “I shall assist our dear human with her scholarly endeavors!” He grabs me by the shoulders as I freeze. Angel begins to howl with laughter.

“What are ya’ a buncha’ nerds! I didn’t even know we had a library!” He almost falls out of his seat. “And Smiles, what are ya’ her stalker!” He keeps laughing and I can feel Alastors fingers grip a bit tighter.

“I do not appreciate what you are insinuating, you daisy. I am merely worried about her well-being, something that you wouldn’t know about, seeing as you are all hopped up on who-knows-what.” Alastor removes his hands from my shoulders and struts over to Vaggie. I catch Husk looking at me, but when I look over, he turns away. “My dear Vagatha, would you like to see what I witnessed this effeminate fellow purchasing the other day?” He doesn’t wait for a response, before dangling a small bag of white powder in front of Vaggie’s face.

“Hey howdja’ get that!” He starts patting around his clothing before coming up empty. “You stole my co*ke! Give that back!” He lunges towards Vaggie and Alastor, trying to grab the co*ke, but Alastor holds him at bay with his microphone. Vaggie looks downright pissed off.

“Angel! What the f*ck is wrong with you! You have already made us look bad, but you are still bringing in drugs?!” Charlie tries to calm Vaggie and Angel down. Vaggie stands up and starts to rush to Angel’s room, yelling about doing a full investigation. Angel chases after her trying to get his co*ke back, and Charlie trails behind attempting to mediate. I look over the dining table, to see Husk has disappeared and Niffty has already started to clean the room.

Chapter 8: First Day of Work

Notes:

Trigger warnings in the bottom notes to avoid spoilers!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Well now, my dear! I believe it is time for us to get to work!” I start as I hear Alastor’s voice next to me, I had forgotten that he was still here, and I groan internally dreading whatever mischief he’s up to now.

“I do not need any help. I can do this on my own, and I would prefer if you left me alone.” I rise from my seat taking the dishes left on the dining table to the kitchen sink. I can hear the clicking of his steps as he follows me.

“Pish posh! With those skinny arms, there is no way you can do such a big job on your lonesome! How do you expect to move all those heavy books around when you eat like a bird!” Laugh track. Sighing, I begin to wash the dishes as I think of a good answer to his inflammatory comments. As I am thinking, scrubbing a plate, he suddenly takes the dish from me with one hand and pulls me away from the sink with the other.

“There is no need for you to do such an undignified job, my dear!” He snaps his fingers, and the entire sink of dishes begin to wash themselves, as they are cleaned, they send themselves back to their respective cabinets. I gape at the excessive scene and turn to him in a huff.

“I could have done that; I am perfectly capable of doing things on my own. I do not need your assistance with anything. Please leave me alone.” Alastor chuckles and adjusts his monocle.

“I’m sure you could have, darling, but what kind of gentleman would I be if I let a sheba like yourself do the dirty work!” He turns to me and offers his elbow. “Now, we should be getting to work on that library!” I ignore his obvious gesture.

“I never agreed to let you help with my job.” He tucks his arm back away, with a flourish.

“I never gave you a choice, my dear!” He snaps his fingers and viscous shadows engulf both of us. What the hell! The surroundings morph into the familiar sight of the library, I feel my stomach twist and I stumble. A pair of thin red arms catch me before I hit the ground. quickly righting myself I throw his arms off, avoiding having to look at his probably smug face.

“No need to be so upset, darling, this is the quickest way to travel!” He swings his microphone around and dutifully scans the library; lights already flipped on. “Now, where do you want to start, dear?” I sigh but accept that he is not going to leave.

“Well, I was going to pick up some paper and a pen from my room on the way over, but it seems you have prevented that.” I scowl. He chuckles and waves his hand over the table, producing a stack of high-quality paper alongside a beautifully gilded fountain pen with a matching inkpot. In the body of the pen are a set of etched initials A.C. These writing materials are much higher quality than the ones I had purchased the previous day, but I decide not to make a fuss about it, its on his bill anyway.

“Very well, I am going to begin by cataloguing the books that are currently present. It will make sorting much simpler. You can just sit over there or something” I wave noncommittally at the couches. Barely acknowledging him I head to the first bookcase. Starting on the bottom shelf I begin to pile books into my hands to bring them over to the table. I hear a snap and I am suddenly seated on one of the plush red chairs, pulled into the low table My stomach swirls in protest. The writing materials are already set up in front of me. I glare at Alastor.

“Excuse me, but I was in the middle of something, Mister Alastor.” My tone scathing. I try to push out the chair to get up, but it doesn’t even budge. “What is the meaning of this.” He laughs and taps the table in front of me with his clawed fingers.

“I believe I remember saying, I would do the heavy lifting, my dear. Now who is it who has trouble listening!” A laugh track punctuates my sour mood. He turns on his heel and begins to collect the books that I left at the shelf. After grabbing an armload of books, more than I could have carried, he carts them over to me and sets only one in front of me. He places the rest of them in a pile, just out of my reach and sits down at the table. I look between the single book in front of me and the pile he placed in front of himself. His red eyes are crinkled in mirth as he watches my movements with his chin in one clawed hand, elbow rested on the table.

“You could just stack them closer so I can reach, it will be much more efficient.” I punctuate my sentence with a glare. He shakes his head.

“No, I don’t think I will. It is much more entertaining this way, darling! Now, rush along!” He waves at me to begin; I suppress my rage and begin to write. I have experience using a fountain pen, so it poses no issues and I note the title, author, and topic of the book. Finishing the first line, I pointedly look up at the red menace. He somehow grins wider and snaps his fingers. The book in front of me is replaced with the next. I sigh and decide to just accept it for today, I will try to prevent him from helping tomorrow. I continue to work trying to ignore his penetrating gaze. The sounds in the room being soft jazz and swing music, snapping, and the scribbling of the pen.

I manage to enter my focused state, and all background noise fades away as I efficiently catalogue the books that appear in front of me. I am suddenly snapped out of my reverie as I feel a hand grab my shoulder. I jump and my eyes dart around. I see Alastor leaning down next to me, hand grasping my shoulder.

“Darling, as nice as it is to watch you work, I believe we should wrap this up for today.” I look at him in confusion, as he motions to the pile of finished books. My eyes follow his gestures, to see we have finished cataloguing three entire bookshelves worth of books. He adjusts his monocle and chuckles. “Why, you were so entranced I almost couldn’t bring myself to stop you!” he punctuates his sentence with a laugh. I attempt to stand, but the chair still won’t push out. I go to speak, my voice coming out hoarse.

“How long have I been working?” I clear my throat. He conjures a glass of water; I grab it but hesitate to drink.

“Don’t worry darling, I wouldn’t poison you! There are so much more fun ways to kill someone, poison is just so droll!” Still feeling uneasy, I take only a small sip of the water to wet my throat. He rolls his eyes. I reiterate my question.

“How long?” He lets go of my shoulder and spins on his heel, walking to the other side of the table.

“It has been ten hours, My dear!” His smile growing much larger and his eyes narrowing. My eyes widen in shock, I attempt to stand again, but the chair is as solid as a rock still.

“Let me up Alastor.” The radio frequency swells in a way I haven’t heard before. “I need to eat my meal; I cannot believe you let me skip lunch. I thought you were sensitive about that.” He co*cks his head and raises his brow.

“You know, it’s rather nice to have a captive audience, maybe I won’t let you up!” He chuckles. My eyes take on a hard glint to them.

“Fine, I will just spend the night here, you are free to leave.” I cross my arms, lean back and close my eyes. The radio static rises, and I can hear the click of his footsteps approaching me. Before he gets too close, my eyes shoot open, remembering the previous time I tried to ignore him. He stops as he sees my eyes open. “Stay away, you wierdo.” He laughs and doubles over to make direct eye contact with me and adjusts his monocle.

“Or what?” The simple words chill my blood. There was almost no distortion to his voice, and the tone dangerous. His eyes dig into me, his smile threatening. “Perhaps,” he draws his syllables are drawn out, catching my attention, “I will consider letting you up,” I look away from his probing eyes, “, if you finish the water, I so kindly provided you with. I assure you it isn’t tainted in any way, darling~” I stare down the glass I left on the table, weighing my options. His voice cuts through my thoughts. “I wouldn’t wait too long my dear, otherwise I might decide to help you.” I know I don’t want to know what that means, so I grab the glass with a shaky hand. I bring it to my lips, and I can feel his disgusting red eyes watching my every move. I begin to drink the water, but when I attempt to take a breath, I suddenly feel his hands forcing the back of the cup up again. I am forced to chug the water, and I try to move my head away, but he brings a hand to the back of my head cutting off my escape.

My lungs start to scream at me, as I forcefully finish the glass, his hand grabbing away the vessel. I begin to cough and gasp, intaking as much air as possible, my watery eyes see Alastor still staring at me with his deranged smile. His hand is still holding my head in place, clawed fingers woven into my hair. I grab the armrest and try to force my way up, but there is a sharp section of unfinished, or damaged wood, that I didn’t know about. I accidently slice my palm open, and I hiss at the pain, looking down at my hand as blood starts to form in the cut and drip onto my white skirt. I almost forgot about Alastor but the hand in my hair suddenly yanks my head back to meet his eyes. His other hand violently grabs the wrist of my injured hand. I feel my heart sink.

He pulls up my hand to his face as I try to pull free of his iron grip. I can feel his hands trembling, obviously not in fear. A hungry look enters his eyes, and his grin widens in an unhinged way. I try to speak, but a sharp tug at my hair has me choking back the words in my still burning throat. He lifts my bleeding cut closer to his mouth, I try to break eye contact and look away, but he tugs on my hair again. I watch in wide eyed terror as he tentatively begins to lick the rivulets of blood dripping from my hand, still forcing full eye contact. Every time I try to look away a sharp tug of my hair brings my eyes back to his. He shifts up to the wound itself and grows more frantic. Pain radiates from my hand as his vile tongue begins to force the wound open further, the radio frequencies changing wildly as his eyes turn to what looks like radio dials. He begins to tremble violently, and his antlers start to grow with loud snapping noises, when suddenly he is gone in a rapid burst of shadow, my hand dropping.

Beginning to feel tears welling up in my eyes, I try my best to blink them away as my body starts shaking like a leaf. I weakly push back on the chair, only for it to move easily this time. I stumble to my feet still shaking and look at my hand. The cut and the surrounding flesh are an angry red, blood is smeared all over my hand and plenty has fallen on my skirt. Well, that’s ruined. The scent of iron is overwhelming. I also spot countless tiny nicks scattered on my palm from his razor-sharp teeth. Stumbling out of the room, I don’t have a plan, but I hear a panicked voice call out to me.

“Holy sh*t Toots! What the f*ck happened to ya’” I turn in a daze to see a familiar white and pink spider running towards me in a blur as I feel my eyesight fade and, losing consciousness, I hit the floor.

………….

Sickening crunches and squelches ring out in the crisp breeze, blending with screams and lively jazz music under heavy distortion. The demons caught on the street flee in every possible direction, but few make it before the monster in red catches them. Ripping and tearing through flesh, he is soaked in blood, the streets are painted red. He devours a few of the more delectable looking demons, but sheer bloodlust prevents him from enjoying any kill for longer than a couple seconds. After what feels like an eternity the bloodlust of the monster fades leaving the Radio Demon on an empty, viscera-soaked street.

He snaps his fingers and the gore caking his clothing is washed away, leaving only the blood coating his teeth and claws. He produces a handkerchief and wipes his claws down neatly. He throws the soiled cloth onto the street; it is quickly lost in the mess. He takes a deep breath and with a gesture, he summons his shadow.

“Go, monitor her.” The shadow speeds off through the scarlet streets back towards the hotel. The radio frequency settles on an upbeat jazzy tune as he begins to walk through the rapidly darkening streets.

What am I thinking! I cannot believe I let myself get carried away! He pictures the terrified look in her eyes, and the taste of her blood. He is unable suppress a shudder at the thought. That was the finest blood I have tasted in my life; I have never experienced such a divine flavor! He steps over a disembodied head. Her eyes are lovely drenched in fear, I can just feel my blood boiling from the memory. Her eyes are so expressive, like windows to her soul, he wonders what they would look like in countless scenarios. I have never felt this way before! What is she doing to me! He turns a corner, seeing a straggler, he quickly pierces their skull with his microphone, they fall with a sickening thud, and he steps over their corpse.

What is it that I want? I have never been one to deny what I want, but what is it exactly? He strolls past a coffee shop and decides a cup of joe might help him think. He saunters in, grin bared.

“Good evening, my friend! I will take the largest cup of coffee you have, my good man” The barista trembles, nodding like a bobble head. He begins to pour the coffee into a large mug, and almost misses. He fumbles with the pot while trying to set it down. Alastor watches the nervous man with a sad*stic joy.

“W-w-would you like a-any milk or s-sugar, sir?” The barista manages to squeak out. Alastor shakes his head in exaggerated disgust, smile never falling. The barista cringes away, almost dropping the mug.

“No, my good man, I like my java dark as night!” The barista hand him the full mug and refuses to let Alastor pay. “Attaboy! Perhaps I shall bring a friend next time!” He turns on his heel and sits down elegantly at a quaint metal table, outside the shop. He begins to savor the coffee as he racks his brain for an answer.

I enjoy watching her reactions, that is nothing new, she is very entertaining. I love to see the terror seep into her eyes, it takes quite a lot to get her there, I can feel it through her flesh before she lets it enter her eyes. He takes a long sip of the coffee, pulling out a newspaper pretending to read it. It is surprisingly easy to anger her, she hates any form of personal attention and proximity. She especially hates terms of endearment; I can work with that. But what is my end goal? He spots a pair of demons pass his table holding hands and speaking softly to each other; they don’t see him due to the newspaper obscuring his face. However, as they get closer, he lowers it and offers them a wide smile, they jump in fear and hurry off into an alleyway.
Hmm, I would love to bend her to my will, get her to abandon that ridiculous ‘asceticism’ nonsense. Instead, I would like her to do as I say, eat what I give her, wear what I provide, only look at me. She has no need to concern herself with others, I would also love to enjoy her delectable blood regularly. He feels a thrill run through his body. I do not mind if she fights any of these things, that only makes it more exhilarating! He finishes his coffee, and a perfect idea crosses his twisted mind. That’s it! I want to own her! Not just her soul like the other riffraff, though that would make this easier. I vaguely recall something like that… He brings a clawed finger to his chin in thought. Ah-ha! Now I’m on the trolley! I’ll get her to be my bride, hopefully I can get her to make a soul contract as well, that would make everything just jake! Never thought I’d be dizzy with a dame but, oh well! I always do as I please anyway.

He rises from the small table and nods at the terrified barista peeking out of the window. The poor man jumps and shuts the blinds. A chuckle escapes his throat as he resumes his walk, back to the hotel in a chipper mood.

Notes:

Trigger warning for force feeding (force drinking?) and blood.

Chapter 9: Getting to Know Angel and Husk

Notes:

Trigger warning, discussion of injury.

Chapter Text

I groan and open my eyes. I am met with the pink and white spider shaking me. Taking in my location, I realize I am still in the hallway. I must have passed out briefly. I start to shift my limbs.

“Oh my f*ckin’ god, I thought you died! I don’t want to have them blamin’ me for a murder too toots.” I suddenly remember what just happened and images of blood, teeth, and red eyes flash in my head. Jerking my hand up I see the wound still bleeding. I try to stand up, but am still unsteady on my feet. Probably from sitting for ten hours, that red freak! “Calm down lady, What the f*ck happened too ya’ you look like you were mauled by a badger or somethin’” I blink owlishly at him before choking out a response, my throat on fire from the forced water drinking.

“A-Alastor, he-“Angel cuts me off.

“Wait, Smiles did this!” He motions to my hand, I nod weakly. “sh*t, what the f*ck do I do! I got it! Follow me toots I know who can bandage ya up.” He walks off with a purpose, I follow, holding my hand to my already stained skirt to prevent blood from ruining the floors. He leads me to the lobby and storms right up to Husk slamming his hands on the bar. Husk is drinking from his usual bottle and speaks before turning.

“Whaddya’ want-“ he turns and immediately clocks my disheveled state “What the f*ck, kid!” He scrambles for something under the bar, producing a first aid kit. “What the hell happened. You look like sh*t!” He motions for me to sit at the bar. Angel helps me onto a bar stool, I pass my hand over to the gruff bartender.

“I wanna’ know too!” Angel takes a seat next to me and I can feel the intense stares of the two men. I take a deep sigh, running my free hand through my disheveled hair, cringing as I reach a sore spot from where Alastor tugged. They both notice but don’t say anything.

“Ok, so I was going to work today, and Alastor invited himself along during breakfast,” they both seem to remember that happening, and Husk grunts for me to continue. “So, I try to get him to leave me alone and he refuses and does some sort of teleportation, directly to the library. I accept the fact that I cannot shake him for the day and decide to just get to work.” They nod. “I begin to gather books, but he teleports me to an armchair pushed into a table. I realized that I couldn’t leave the chair, it was rooted to the spot.” Husk grimaces and Angel seems offput. “I understood that I was not in a position to argue, so I just start to work with him giving me books to catalogue. Eventually I enter my work mode and lose track of time.” They both seem to know what I am talking about, so I continue, briefly cringing as Husk applies alcohol to the wound to clean it. “I am pulled out of my work mode by Alastor, he offers me a glass of water because my throat was hoarse from the long hours, ten hours by the way. I obviously do not trust him in any way and only take a small sip to appease him.”

“I know what that’s like.” Husk interjects and Angel seems to understand from personal experience too. I nod and continue, my voice starting to shake slightly as I recall what is next.

“Apparently, he did not like that I only drank a small amount of the water, I could not even tell he was upset. I asked to be let go out of the chair and he refused unless I drank the entirety of the glass in front of him.” The two men recoil. “I was debating my options and he got impatient, claiming he would ‘help’ me if I did not hurry up. I decide to just bite the bullet and I begin to drink the water. The issue only came up when I tried to take a breath.” Angel bites his lip, sensing my trepidation. “He forced the glass back up and held my head in place until the rest of the water was gone, I began to panic and cough, I tried to get up despite his hand still in my hair. There was apparently an imperfection on the chair’s armrest, and I sliced open my hand.” I begin to shudder, and Angel begins to rub my back, Husk growls and appears extremely angry.

“I- H-he grabbed my h-hand and I tried to pull it away, but he was too strong,” my breath hitches, “I tried to look away, but he kept yanking my hair to maintain e-eye contact. He started to-“ I take a deep breath to ground myself. “He started to lick the blood off of my injury,” I can hear Angel make a disgusted noise and Husk makes a strangled growl. “He forced eye contact the entire time. He eventually began to get more violent and started to force the wound open more w-with his tongue and his eyes turned strange, like radio dials. Then he disappeared.” I take another deep breath, “I was finally able to get up, I made my way into the hall and Angel immediately ran over as I passed out.” I look at the two waiting for some kind of response.

“Wow, Smiles is a f*ckin’ freak.” Angel mumbles. Husk grabs his bottle of booze, and I notice my hand is completely bandaged up. He takes a long draft before addressing me.

“You need ta’ be careful kid, Al is a bastard. He is probably trying to get you to make a deal with him.” He grunts. “That never ends well.” I nod.

“Yeah, he has already asked to make a deal multiple times, generally when he is throwing a hissy fit over me not eating.” Husk chokes on his alcohol and Angel snorts with laughter.

“Holy sh*t toots’! You’ve got a way with words don’tcha!” Husk clears his throat.

“That’s funny kid but don’t let him hear you sayin’ that. He doesn’t like being,” air quotes, “Disrespected.” I chuckle and supply my previous experiences with him.

“He really did clock you on day one didn’t he? Ugh... just be careful kid, he thinks it’s some sort of twisted game, but the consequences are very real.”

“Ya’ he is a freaky bastard, he keeps tryin’ to kill Fat Nuggets! What did he ever do to him!” He throws his hands up in exasperation, but quickly reigns himself in, leaning on his elbows. He shoots me a side glance. “So, uh, what’s ya name? I didn’t catch it the otha’ day.”

“My name is Eleanor, it is nice to meet you!” I offer him a small smile. “Though I wish the circ*mstances were different, how was the work you mentioned going to?” He puts on an unreadable face.

“It’s fine. Not somethin’ ya want ta be hearin’ about, ya’ got those ‘proper sensibilities’ don’tcha.” He laughs at his half-assed joke. I raise an eyebrow.

“I do not care what others do on their own time Angel; I just do not want it relating to me in any way.” He has a confused look and I elaborate. “Let me tell you a story of my best friend from when I was in the living world.” They both seem confused by the tangent but let me continue speaking. “She was a wonderful girl; her name was Cindy. She also happened to be a prostitute.” Angel has a pale look on his face, slack jawed. “I never thought any less of her for it, I am not some morality crusader,” I scoff, “In fact I am probably hell-bound anyway, so what right do I have to judge!” I can’t stifle my giggle. Husk looks at me incredulously, and Angel snorts.

“Sure, of course you’re headed to hell,” his tone sarcastic, “what with that nun sh*t ya’ do.” I can feel my smile grow and they seem confused at my reaction.

“Would you like to know why I am headed to hell?”

“Well, if you’re so damn sure bout’ it, ya’ musta done somethin’ pretty bad.” He pretends to not care but I can see the gleam of curiosity.

“Well?” Husk begins to polish a glass in mock indifference. I chuckle.

“I have shared with you my friend Cindy’s profession,” they nod, “well, her pimp was a detestable man and she tried to hide the bruises often from his little fits of anger. I did not take kindly to him abusing my friend, but out of consideration for her I left it alone.” Angel nods, invested in the story and leaning in closer. “However! He crossed a line, he broke her arm one day, and she stopped lying to me about his behavior. I of course already had a plan in place, just waiting for the moment she let me destroy him.” Husk raises an eyebrow, but quickly goes back to polishing the glass. I smile in satisfaction as I recall the bastard’s end. “I may or may not have been an information dealer in that part of the city.” The glass he is polishing drops, and Angel freezes. “I also may have spread every piece of information I had gathered on that fool through the underworld, including all of his dirty dealings.” Angel starts to crack up with an undignified laugh. “It seems the individuals who he screwed over did not take kindly to that, they had his little organization crushed by weeks end. Never did see him around after that.” I hide a coy smile behind my uninjured hand.

“Damn toots’ I gotta’ say I didn’t expect ya’ ta’ have a dark side! I like ya” He asks husk for a martini, and Husk pours him one. “So why are ya all goody-goody if ya were in so deep ta’ the seedy underbelly?” I shrug.

“It is because I was there. I saw many people meet their end through overindulgence, including Cindy. She overdosed on heroin two years after the pimp fiasco.” Sadness creeps into Angels eyes, but he quickly blinks it away. “Fortunately, due to my position I was practically unknown to everybody, they just knew there was an information dealer in town, but the had to jump through hoops to get anything. So, after Cindy died, I just dumped all of my information out in public and hightailed it out of the city. They never even knew it was the ascetic hermit that lived with the dead hooker!” I smile in self-loathing. “I still wish I could have helped Cindy more, but it is what it is. None of my skill sets are applicable here anyway, at least not until I am a demon myself.” I shake myself out of my stupor. Husk is staring intensely at me.

“It’s better if Al doesn’t find out about this, he might double down on his efforts. A good covert demon is hard to find down here, they are valuable, most resort to flashy violence.” He glares at Angel who shrugs and sips his martini.

“I understand, I already try to avoid him, he is just too damn insistent.”

“I’ll drink to that!” Husk laughs sharply. He pours himself a drink and hands me a glass. “You want anything?” I debate for a moment.

“I will take a water.” I grin devilishly. I cannot let him break me; I will show him that he will not win. The two men chuckle as Husk pours me a glass.

“A toast to Smiles being a f*ckin’ freak!” Angel shouts boisterously, we clink our glasses and drink. The sound of the front doors opening and a sharp clicking sound shakes out of our reverie. Husks face drops as he looks behind our shoulders. Angel turns lithely in his chair to face the newcomer. I decide to remain facing the bar. The familiar sound of radio frequencies flipping through stations makes my heart settle in my stomach. He is humming a jaunty tune as he walks up to the bar.

“Look what tha’ cat dragged in, a freaky bastard!” Angel scoffs at Alastor downing his drink, and I can see Husk sink into himself slightly.

“Why, I must protest my effeminate fellow! I am not here for my good man Husker!” He saunters up to the bar stool next to me, I don’t even glance at him. His eyes flit over my drink. “Drowning yourself in drink, are you? Husker is not a good influence my dear!” Husk growls at him as I can see his sh*t-eating grin out of the corner of my eye. “You seem to be keeping such poor company, darling, a drunkard and a lascivious spider? I thought you were better than that!” I side eye the bastard.

“I am only drinking water, and I must say it is much better than the glass you gave me. Perhaps you are the poor company?” Angel starts laughing and I can hear the radio static spike.

“Yeah smiles! She can hang with whoeva’ she wants, don’t get all pissy cause that’s not you. I wouldn’t want ta’ hang with a freak like you either, I mean you f*ckin’ licked her hand like a little f*ckin’ gremlin!” He bursts out laughing and I can see strange symbols forming around Alastor, but they quickly disappear. Husk can’t suppress a slight chuckle but goes serious again.

“Leave her alone Al, you f*cked up her hand pretty bad. You don’t own her f*cking soul and she isn’t going to sell it so f*ck off.” I feel more confident with these two on my side, and I finally turn to face the red menace. I can feel my blood freeze as I see him staring at my bandaged hand and the blood still staining my skirt. His eyes trail over me and up into mine. His smile grows.

“Why, it seems as if I have made a right mess of your skirt! I must make up for such an egregious lapse in manners! Why don’t you join me for a walk tomorrow and we can rectify this error.” His stare pins me to my seat. I scoff.

“No thank you, you have already done enough. I would rather not.” Turning away, my eyes scan over the full shelves of alcohol, I can hear him take a seat in the stool next to me. Probably more theatrics!

“Husker, my good friend, I would like a whiskey on the rocks.” He turns to me. “Would you like anything darling?” I remain cradling my water like a lifeline and glance over to Angel who seems pissed.

“I do not drink alcohol.” The radio settles on an upbeat swing tune. Raising an eyebrow and co*cking his head he scoffs.

“Why am I not surprised! Knowing you, you probably deem oxygen as a luxury. I really don’t know what to do with you, my dear, it seems you need a helping hand!” He plays a laugh track and takes his drink from Husk. I clench my fists and flinch at the shooting pain. His eyes flash over my hand before returning to my face. “I will swing by your quarters at eight, make sure you wear your glad rags. We can make a day of it, and head to my good friend Rosie’s!” I stare at him as he takes a swig of his drink.

“What?” I blink owlishly.

“We are going to go to Rosie’s. Don’t tell me you already forgot! Perhaps Husker spiked your beverage, at least I assured you mine wasn’t poisoned!” He laughs harshly, tapping the side of his glass, and the cat frowns.

“Hey, she said no to your little stupid walk Alastor! Leave her alone!” Husk raises his voice. Alastor turns to him and raises an eyebrow.

“Now my dear Husker, I don’t believe that you have any say in the matter! The last time I checked,” he mimes looking at a watch and plays a laugh track, “you have to do as I say my good man!” He chuckles and Husk’s ears lie flat back on his head. The cat relents and goes back to drinking his booze, but not before one last comment.

“Hey kid, make sure you tell me anytime he messes with you,” He sends Alastor a side glare, Alastor beams at him, “I might not be able to help, but I can lend an ear.” He doesn’t wait for a response and settles back into a stupor.

“Why, Husker my good man you act as if I am some sort of animal!” He swings his microphone towards him, but Husk just ignores his cajoling. Turning back to me he realizes that I have switched seats to the one on the other side of Angel. He raises an eyebrow.

“Leave her alone Smiles. You might be hot but you’re weird as hell, she said no to your stupid little walk asshole.” Alastor looks past Angel directly at me, radio frequencies swelling. He finishes the last of his whisky and sends the empty glass sliding toward husk Husk, who catches it just before it falls off the counter, cursing.

“How is your poor hand after our little tryst, my dear?” Caught off guard at the sudden topic shift, I grab my hand, obscuring it from view. My stomach twisting at the disgusting word choice. I don’t answer him and turn to stare at my drink. Angel seems confused at the switch in topic as well. Alastor continues, “You know, your blood is really quite the treat, darling~.” I glare at him as he chuckles, adjusting his monocle. “Why I almost lost myself completely! It would be a shame if I didn’t hold back next time, wouldn’t you agree?” I shudder and grip my glass harder.

“What the f*ck!” Angel jumps up from the seat. “Are you threatnin’ her?” He seems prepared to fight, but Alastor doesn’t even twitch.

“I have no idea what you are referring too my effeminate fellow!” he co*cks his head with a snap. “I am merely making polite conversation; I wouldn’t normally kiss and tell but it seems the lady has already spread the news!” The contents of my stomach threaten to spill, but I suppress it. He rises from his seat slowly, turning on his heel to face the up-in-arms Angel. With a flourish, “It would be a travesty if I were unable to control myself, wouldn’t it? Why, she would end up scattered about the hotel,” He swings his microphone around, “it would be quite the mess! Perhaps the same would happen to you if you interfered, but you wouldn’t do that would you?” The radio static spikes as the microphone disappears and I can see small symbols floating around the man in red. He holds up his hand poised to snap. I slam my glass on the bar counter, three pairs of eyes turn to look at me.

“Fine. I will go on your insipid walk. I will not be responsible for a fight in the lobby.” Pointedly looking at Angel, with a gaze that tells him to calm down. Rising from my seat I turn and leave the lobby, refusing to have the red bastard gloat. At least, not where I can see it.

“Wait toots’ you don’t hafta-“ He is interrupted by Alastor’s sudden violent laughter, his tall thin form doubled over.

“What a fiery little dame, you heard the gal! I believe she has given you a chance to save yourself, I would suggest taking it before I change my mind.” His voice grows dangerous as he stands upright, as if the laughter was an illusion, and adjusts his monocle. Angel seems conflicted but returns to his room without another word. Alastor glances around the empty lobby, adjusting his suit and dusting himself off despite the lack of anything out of place. He turns to face Husk at the bar. He leans in towards the feline bartender, bending slightly at the waist.

“My good man, I would recommend watching your words, you wouldn’t want me getting the wrong idea, would you?” He lifts Husks chin with his microphone, eyes narrowed. Husk seems caught off guard by the serious tone and hesitates to respond. “That little dame is off limits; you should keep that in mind my friend.” He practically purrs. Husk swallows, his mouth watering a bit too much. Alastor waits for him to nod before sauntering away, disappearing into the kitchen. Husk grabs his chin, feeling a slight bruise from how hard Alastor pressed with the microphone.

“What the f*ck?” Husk can’t help but whisper to himself, glancing up the stairs to where Eleanor’s room resided.

I spend my evening ruminating on just what exactly have I gotten myself into. After eating my simple dinner and changing into my nightgown, dread fills my gut. I have to go with him to Rosie’s tomorrow… ugh… Why did he have to ruin my skirt! He would not have had an excuse in that scenario, I should have held my hand over the floor instead... I picture his red eyes staring into mine, as I feel pain emanating from my bandaged hand. I glare at it and gently unwrap it to take in the damage again. With the blood cleared away, I can tell just how bad it is. The original cut wasn’t that bad but after his tongue forced it open, the ends have ripped further, the depth of the injury is also concerning. The nicks and cuts surrounding it make me dry heave at the memory of his teeth skirting around my hand. He’s like a f*cking lamprey! Oops... did not mean to curse, I bring my hand to my cheek, I thought I broke that habit.

I re-wrap the injury, obscuring the memories. Willpower. Willpower. Willpower. I cannot let him win. Lifting the bloody skirt, I ball it up and chuck it out the window. It is ruined anyway, and I do not want to see it anymore. Curling up into my floor-bed I set my alarm and then sulk, eventually falling asleep.

Chapter 10: Walk to Rosie's

Chapter Text

My alarm wakes me up, and I awaken in a stupor. I stomp over to the restroom and take my morning shower. I find myself scrubbing every place he touched, raw. I stop myself before breaking the skin, that would be bad, he would probably go nuts again. I knew he was a cannibal, but it is completely different to be on the receiving end of that reminder. I can obviously tell his end game; he wants to piss me off until I agree to some sort of rigged deal. After that, he will probably lose interest and eat me or something. I leave the shower and re-bandage my hand, I skip letting my hair dry, recalling how easy long hair is to pull, and pull it into a bun. It will dry weird, but that is fine. I head to my closet, one skirt shorter of clothing. I pull out a pair of light brown trousers and a white shirt that is slightly flowy. The sleeve are long and the collar is high, it does a good job of obscuring my figure. Feeling more comfortable now that I am dressed.

I begin to work on my research, but suddenly remember I had agreed to eat with the group at the dinner table. Packing up my book and a bundle of paper with my trusty pen, I begin to head down to the lobby. As I reach the lobby, I am aware I am rather early, so I sit on the couch with a small table. I make sure to greet Husk, who just seems to be waking up. He greets me gruffly and has a concerned look but doesn’t say anything more. I pull out my book and begin to read and take notes.

After a good while I hear the clicking. I see a clawed finger push my book down, revealing a pale, smiling, red-eyed face.

“Good morning, my dear! I must say I did not expect to see you here! Have you finally given up on your little hunger strike?” I roll my eyes, it is too early for this, ugh.

“No.” I return to reading taking down a couple of notes.

“No? Are you going to elaborate why you are here then, sweetheart.” I violently look up at the new pet name and scowl. His grin grows and his eyes narrow. He lifts my book out of my hands looking at the pages with a thoughtful expression.

“Charlie told me to sit at the table, even on my fasting days, and I would appreciate not being called that.” He raises an eyebrow in amusem*nt, and he snaps the book shut. At least I remember my page number.

“Now, why would you do that! If you are going to join us, the least you could do is eat! And, I quite like calling you names, dollface, so I don’t think I will stop. You make such an entertaining indignant expression after all!” He grins wider, I forcefully take a deep breath to calm down. He sets my book down on the table out of my reach, his hand perched on top of it, clawed fingers threatening to pierce the cover.

“Whatever, I will not be eating with you.” He begins to tap his foot impatiently; he taps his fingers rhythmically to the tune emanating from him and I begin to think. Wait! I just had a fantastic idea! I immediately raise my head making direct eye contact with him. This seems to catch him off guard slightly and he adjusts his monocle, folding his arms behind his back. “I have a proposition.” He raises his eyebrow and straightens up to his full height, summoning his microphone and placing it in his elbow.

“How copacetic! my darling human wants to make a deal!” I hear Husk sputter.

“No!” I shout a little too loudly. I clear my throat as he co*cks his head. “No, I am not making a deal with you. I have a proposition that benefits us both.” He motions for me to continue, with a strange glint in his eye. I take a deep breath and pray that this works.

“You want me to eat, I do not. That is the crux of this issue. However, I also do not want you to enter my room and keep bothering me about it. It would also be much easier to take my meals in my room. I would be willing to make a compromise with you.” He laughs and begins to examine his claws, one elbow holding his microphone, grin ten miles wide.

“How Jake! Now how do you wish to go about this little compromise, darling?” he seems genuinely excited. I suppress a grin and pretend to look distraught.

“If you stop pestering me in my room and allow me to eat alone in the sanctity of my chamber, I would be willing to eat the food you cook on my fasting days. However, I would want someone besides you to bring it to my room. I would also appreciate not engaging in cannibalism.” I cross my arms and give him a hard stare. His face looks like it is going to break as his smile grows even wider, the radio frequencies begin flipping quickly. He gestures with his microphone in a theatric manner.

“Now you’re on the trolly! Of course, I agree to your little compromise my dear!” He offers his hand that begins to glow green. I raise an eyebrow and push his hand away quickly.

“I will not be shaking your hand; it is a compromise not a deal.” He brings a claw to his chin in thought, before suddenly righting himself and whisking away the microphone.

“Very well! Better scurry on up to your room, I will send Niffty up with something spectacular!” I prevent myself from sighing in relief as I gather my things. Taking one last glance up I spot him staring at me, but he looks away immediately. I cannot believe that worked! All I have to do is keep up this charade and he will finally drop this issue. As I pass Husk, he looks at me with a questioning look and I shoot him a sly wink. His eyes widen for a split second, but he nonchalantly resumed nursing his drink. Climbing the stairs, my heart sings and I smile like an idiot. Yes! I make it to my room and relax with my book, finishing of volume one of the hell guides. Before I can start the second volume, I hear a tiny rapid knock at the door. Standing, I calm myself before answering. I cannot let anyone know my plan. Not even the ones who are friendly to me, they could leak information. I open the door smoothly to see the short pink haired demon named Niffty, pushing a trolly with my meal on it.

“Hiya Eleanor! Al sent me to bring you your food! I think it is so awesome that you two are getting along!” Her words tumble out at high speed. I raise a hand to my forehead.

“Thank you Niffty, I do not like him, and I am not getting along.” She giggles.

“That’s what they all say! Al is just too charming; you will come around eventually!” I suppress a shudder and just dismiss her with some polite small talk. Pulling the cart into my room I give it a look over. It has been so long since I have seen such foods, I can’t even remember what half of it tastes like! I rifle around, trying to identify the items. I think this is some sort of egg dish, it has ingredients peppered throughout it and is in a flaky crust, I cannot remember what it is called. There is also a glass of orange juice and a few slices of toast with some sort of jam. I spot a note pinned under the glass, which I recognize as the same type as the one in the library. I recoil faintly before grabbing the note.

“I am just so thrilled that we could come to an agreement, my dear! You will find a hearty serving of my favorite quiche recipe, and a couple of slices of toast with marmalade. I am sure your stomach has shrunk due to your poor decisions, but I expect you to finish every last bite. I’m sure you recognize the glass, so do enjoy, darling!”

Feeling my fingers crumpling the note I tear it up and shove it in the trash can. I run my fingers over my hair and take a deep breath, before getting to work. First, I take the unused utensils and run them through the meal before wiping them off again, to simulate being used. I then ensure a few crumbs fall on the cloth under the food. I place my lips on the rim of the glass without drinking. Moving the cart over to the window, I look down and out at what is just outside. I sigh in relief as I see my window is just above a garbage can and I spot my bloody skirt among the trash. Chuckling to myself I begin to empty each dish out into the dumpster below, some misses but I don’t worry about that. Placing the now empty dishes back on the cart I push it to the door and leave it. Heading to the restroom, I brush my teeth, leaving no trace that I didn’t consume the dishes. Hands on my hips I survey my work with a smile and take a seat and begin my next book.

Eight o’ clock rolls around, and I place a bookmark into the pages and shuffle over to the door. Standing up straight, I open the door. My firm eyes meet the jovial red pair staring back at me as I am hit with a wave of static. He glances over my clothing and behind me to the empty trolley.

“I see you have finished your meal my dear! I am so glad to learn you can follow instructions!” I force a scowl. I can see his eyes trailing around my room, lingering on the trash bin. “I am so glad you didn’t decide to throw it out, I would have been quite upset! So, did you enjoy it?” He bends at the waist, bringing his face close. Turning away I motion half-heartedly to the cart.

“It was fine.” He chuckles at my obstinance, but I am grateful when he finally drops the subject.

“So cantankerous my dear! Very well, are those actually your finest clothes, darling? They are so… plain.” He looks down his nose at my choice of clothing and I scoff.

“Yes, of course they are. I do not find it important to wear something so ostentatious.” I look over his suit blatantly, with a judgmental gaze. The radio static fluctuates, and he smiles wider.

“My dear you manage to surprise me time and again! You are quite good at passive aggression aren’t you, doll? I wonder why?” His eyes dig into me, as I flippantly disregard him.

“And here I was assuming you fancied yourself a genius, hearing you wonder is quite a treat for me, mister Alastor!” I imitate his body language. He co*cks his head, he is about to speak when I coldly interrupt him, dropping the act. “Let us just leave. I do not want to spend any more time than necessary near you.” I force my way past him into the hallway and begin to walk to the lobby, slipping the disguise ring on. Hearing him shut my door, his clicking footsteps join mine.

“Are you upset that I have won, my dear? I did get you to eat a decent meal after all.” I can practically hear his grin widening as he tries to poke at my sore spots. Jokes on you, I am the true victor of this little battle. I glare at him, hiding my mirth expertly.

“I do not want to hear another word about food.” Managing to sound bitter, I know I fooled him when his radio frequency settles on a jaunty tune. We reach the staircase, and he offers his elbow, I grab the banister instead and descend the stairs. Reaching the lobby, I beeline towards the bar.

“Husk,” He looks up from his deck of cards, “I am unfortunately leaving with him,” I shoot Alastor a scathing look, “if I do not return by the evening, you should assume I am dead and probably being digested.” Husk fails to hold back a chuckle when he looks behind me at Alastor’s face. I hear the radio frequencies spike before settling back down. Feeling a hand rest on my shoulder lightly, I look up at the red menace’s face.

“Do you really think so poorly of me, darling? If I wanted to eat you, you wouldn’t still be here dear.” Smiling brightly at him I remove his hand; his eyebrow shoots up.

“You have made that threat before, I guess you rely on theatrics more than actual content. It would make sense why you recycle terms so often.” Scoffing I head to the door, my heart rapidly beating at the spike of static. Luckily, he decides to ignore it and before I can reach for the handle, he opens the door. He bows slightly with eyes narrowed and I saunter past him. Exiting the building he forcefully grabs my arm, linking it with his. “I guess that gentlemanly disguise is just that.” I mumble and his grip tightens on my arm, he begins to walk in the direction of Rosie’s. Being so close to him makes his height advantage much more obvious, and I can’t help but be intimidated. He is walking at a fast pace but slows when I struggle to keep up. Damn long-legged bastard. As we leave the vicinity of the hotel, he looks down at me, and feel my heart speed up.

“You’ve got a smart mouth my dear, but I would be careful to keep such vitriol in the hotel. I am not quite as restrained out here after all.” I feel his hand grasping my arm slip down to grab my injured hand. My heart starts pounding and I gasp as he begins to force his clawed thumb underneath the bandages.

“What are you doing!” I try to free my arm, but it is intertwined too well. He reaches his goal, but instead of injuring me more he merely strokes the wound. Feeling sick I look away as we continue to walk. He continues to ghost his thumb over the wound until we reach a populated street. I watch in barely disguised curiosity, as every time a demon spots Alastor they flee. He manages to clear the whole street in record time; however, a few stragglers remain. He co*cks his head at the sight of a pair of hyena demons laughing among themselves, motioning to us. There is also a passed-out demon nestled near a trashcan, too drunk to care I presume. Alastor strides confidently towards the hyenas who take up aggressive positions.

“Well, looky here, if it isn’t some dandy and a hottie too.” I can feel their eyes rake over me, and I feel nothing but disgust. Alastor smiles wider and doesn’t even seem perturbed.

“Why, you fellows must be new! I’ll bet you are just dying to make a name for yourselves?” He twirls his microphone out of nowhere with his other arm, still caging my arm.

“Whatever dipsh*t, why don’t ya’ hand over your money, I can tell ya got a lot by those threads ya’ wearing.” One of the pair intones in a brash voice. The other cackles.’

“Yeah, and why don’tcha hand over the chick too, maybe we wont rough you up too much then.” Glancing around I can see various demons poking their heads out of alleyways, eyes trained on Alastor’s every move. I can hear whispers from the hidden crowds, but I can’t make out their words. Noticing my wondering gaze, he forces me closer into his chest and releases my arm. I begin to move away, but suddenly all I can see is red, as he covers my eyes with a single large hand. I struggle but he holds me firmly.

“My good men, you seem to misunderstand who I am, perhaps a lesson is in order?” He squeezes me closer, and I can hear the radio static grow.

“Trynna be a hero are we!” A cackle. “All she’ll miss is us kicking your ass, you red loser.” He snaps his fingers. The cackling and threats of the demons, change rapidly to screaming and begging. I struggle to leave Alastor’s grasp, but he holds firm. The begging changes to gasping and gurgling, sobbing is heard. Eventually, after what seems like a lifetime, he removes his hand. All that is left of the pair is a puddle of viscous gore. I can’t even spot a single identifying feature in the mess, and I feel much less safe.

“My apologies dear, such innocent eyes shouldn’t have to witness the demise of such disgusting cretins, their flesh is much too foul for consumption.” His smile bright, eyes surveying my reaction. What a pity for those too, they were idiots though. Even I could tell he was dangerous on the first meeting.

“Whatever, just hurry up I want to get back to the hotel.” I begin to walk away out of his reach, but he snatches up my arm again before resuming his confident strut towards Rosie’s. As we walk I spot a few posters hung up haphazardly, featuring a familiar red figure. They read ‘Beware: The Radio Demon’ with a crude drawing of Alastor. The poor art skills of whoever made them makes me chuckle and Alastor follows my gaze.

“Looks just like you, Mr. Radio Demon.” He snaps his fingers and the poster bursts into flames, catching the wooden pole it is attached to on fire as well. “Well, that is a little excessive.” I mutter. He pulls me in closer much to my chagrin.

“As you witnessed first-hand, Darling, those posters don’t prevent fools from being fools! And for something trying to resemble yours truly, the execution is rather poor!” He plays a laugh track and re-summons his microphone, twirling it as we walk. I roll my eyes and keep my eyes down, hearing demons fleeing on every new street.

I become lost in thought when Alastor stops, I look up to find we have arrived at Rosie’s. Sighing with both relief and frustration, he flings open the door, bell jingling wildly. Strutting in he projects his voice throughout the store.

“My dear Rosie! I have brought you a fine customer.” Rosie rushes out of the back room coming to stand in front of us I can feel her gaze settling on me briefly before shifting to Alastor. “You see, in a stroke of atrocious manners, I accidentally destroyed a lovely skirt belonging to this dame! I was appalled at my egregious mistake and decided to rectify the error posthaste. Realizing that she purchased such a fine garment at your fine establishment, I realized that I had to come visit!” He twirls his microphone around, punctuating his sentences. Still held firm by my arm I just roll my eyes.

“Of course, I would be happy to help Alastor, right this way.” She turns and begins to lead us to a back room. The exact back room that I had witnessed a flash of red behind on my last visit. That bastard was here last time. He must have been the idiot picking out clothes, other than Rosie! The gall of this man! I ball my fist as he pulls me into the room. Entering, I take in a beautiful tea table, replete with a full tea service. Did she know we were coming? Or is she always prepared for an intrusion from the red idiot? He finally lets go of my arm and I rub the spots that were starting to hurt, and righting the bandages on my hand. He pulls out a chair and motions for me to sit even before Rosie. I cross my arms and wait for the hostess to be seated first, radio spiking the whole time and I spot his eye twitching. Rosie balks but quickly realizes that I won’t sit until she does. She gently takes a seat. Satisfied with my level of politeness, I take a seat. In the other chair. Leaving Alastor to sit in the chair he offered me. He seems to find this hilarious and laughs as he takes his seat. Rosie pours herself some tea, and hands Alastor a steaming cup of coffee, the scent terribly strong.

“Alright then, would you care for coffee or tea?” She offers, but I shake my head.

“Unless the tea is decaffeinated, I will take plain water please.” Alastor raises an eyebrow as Rosie provides a glass of water.

“My dear, you shun caffeine too! Preposterous! Coffee is the finest beverage around!” He seems legitimately offended and clutches at his chest in indignance.

“I have never had it and I do not plan too.” The radio skips around rapidly and Rosie seems on edge.

“This is a travesty, I knew your sense of taste was poor, but I didn’t know to what extent!” Rosie sips her tea, observing our interactions, before interrupting a speech about the majesty of coffee.

“Alastor, as much as I find your speeches spellbinding, I would like to hear more about what you would like from me.” Alastor freezes mid syllable, like a paused movie, before adjusting his suit and monocle.

“Thank you, my dear Rosie, I nearly lost myself there!” Laugh track. “I would like for you to provide this here dame with a new skirt, on my tab of course!” He chuckles grabbing my bandaged hand and holding it up. “There was a small mishap on my end and this poor dear injured her delicate hand!” He slips a finger under the bandages, I panic and try to pull my hand back, What the hell is he doing! Is he trying to advertise what he f*cking did! Rosie looks curious, but also offput by the little display.

“What are you doing!” I can’t help but raise my voice at him. He chuckles.

“Why, I am showing her the reason for our visit, darling! It is only proper to enlighten our dear hostess!” He slowly starts to unravel them, and I pale as the last one slips away, revealing the angry red wound. The small nicks and scrapes from his teeth much more apparent in the stark light. Rosie gasps slightly, knowing instantly what caused them. Alastor begins to examine the wound himself as if admiring a piece of art, poking around my palm with a sharp fingertip.

“I see why you would need a new skirt; blood is certainly difficult to remove.” She awkwardly shifts, pulling Alastor out of his trance. He gently places my hand on the table, and the second he lets go I snatch it back and place it in my lap.

“I would just like an exact replacement please.” I make my opinion known before he obscures the point again. He takes a seat again, picking up his mug.

“And why would you like another drab skirt, my dear? It is frankly a blessing in disguise that such a plain piece of clothing was ruined!” He sips his coffee again. “Now is your chance to live a little, you are here on my dime after all!”

“That is the point. I want it to be plain. I want it to be drab. Miss Rosie, do you need to take my measurements again, I would still like the same skirt.” Rosie looks back and forth between us, seemingly torn. Alastor gives her a long look.

“Um… Yes, I need to retake your measurements, Miss Eleanor. We unfortunately only keep the measurements of frequent customers.” I sigh in slight relief, at least they do not just keep those hanging around.

“Ok, let us just get this over with.” I rise and request her to lead me to the measuring room again. I permit her to measure me quicker this time, tired of this farce. She writes them down and guides me back to the table. I take my seat and she rushes off to procure the skirt. As soon as she leaves, I glare at Alastor.

“What the hell was that?” I cross my arms and feel my blood pressure rising.

“Whatever are you talking about, darling?” He offers an infuriating innocent smile.

“You are not stupid; you know exactly what I am referring to. My. Hand. Why would you show it off like that?” I force my voice to remain even. Looking like he only just remembered he responds.

“Oh, that! Why, I am quite proud of my handiwork! The red really brings out your pale skin, darling! It is such a fine piece of art I just couldn’t help myself; I hadn’t seen the damage without your lovely blood anyway.” He is so nonchalant, its as if he is talking about the weather. My breaths come shallower as I scowl.

“You really are a freak.” I mutter and he raises an eyebrow.

“Come now darling, what did I say about restraining your insults in public! I have a reputation to maintain, you know? Make another slip up and I will be forced to punish you, my dear, and neither of us wants that, do we?” He practically purrs the last two words, and I feel a wave of discomfort rolls over me.

“Fine.” I cave and look away. Pick your battles Eleanor. You cannot win them all. You already won one today, do not get greedy.

“Attagirl! I knew you were smarter than that!” My blood boils at his patronization, but I suppress it and sip of my glass. I see his eyes watching my throat as I swallow the water, and I place the glass back down, feeling uncomfortable. Eventually, Rosie enters the room again and hands me a skirt.

“I do apologize but the exact skirt you wanted was out of stock, this was the closest thing, would you like to try it on?” I examine the skirt and find no issues with it, so I turn her down.

“No thank you, this is fine. I would just like to leave.” Rosie seems to understand and Alastor chuckles, rising from his seat.

“Why, thank you kindly my sear Rosie, you were a great help today! I will be sure to return the next time this dame needs more clothing.” I sure hope that is never. He offers his arm, I refuse it again, and he forces the issue yet again. Ugh, he aggravates me so much! The walk back to the hotel is uneventful, and not a word is spoken between us. Husk seems relieved as we walk through the front doors.

“Thank f*cking god! I thought you had actually f*cking killed her.”

“Oh, ye of little faith! You wound me so my dear Husker!” He gallivants over to the bar and I take my chance to escape his grasp. He turns to look at me, but I hurry up the stairs before he apprehends me again. Alastor decides to continue bothering Husk and I thank him for his sacrifice, as I lock myself in my room.

As the lock clicks, I slide down the door, and curl up on the floor. The reality of where I am hits me hard. I fold into myself, and I feel hot tears rolling down my cheeks as I hide my face. I’m in hell, both literally and figuratively. I can’t believe he would just… show off what he did like it’s f*cking show and tell! I rub my hand, still feeling violated at the image of him proudly displaying my f*cked-up hand is burned in my memory. My breath hitches and my sobbing continues. Breath Eleanor! Breath! I roughly pinch my cheeks to break myself out of my spiral. You can’t let him break you down. The longer you sulk the more f*cking power he has! I look around, cheeks damp and eyes red, I spot the trash can. That’s right! He isn’t invincible, I was able to trick him this morning! I just have to keep finding ways to sidestep around him. I slowly rise off the floor and shuffle to the restroom. I wash my face in the sink and take down my hair, it curls in a strange way, due to being put up while still wet. I brush it out until it looks decent.

Satisfied with my appearance I decide to just unwind with a book. I grab the fun botanical book I picked up from the library, and the time passes. Dinner comes and goes, and I repeat my process from the morning. Thankfully Niffty picks up the empty trolly this time, and I drift off to sleep.

Chapter 11: Cindy

Chapter Text

The days, seem to pass by on a perpetual loop. I manage to get some work done in the library without the red menace, and I get through the cataloguing portion of my job. Every other day when I am fasting, I keep up the illusion that I am eating the meals provided by Alastor. I always get a good chuckle when he gloats every time. The dishes he makes are varied and look so lovely as I dump them in the dumpster down below. My hand is healing perfectly well, the small nicks already completely gone. The large cut is looking much less severe.

Unfortunately, Alastor finds some reason to keep pestering me day in and day out. I have gotten much better at appearing apathetic to his infuriating tricks. They still bother me, but I know I cannot give him a reaction. I straighten up the pile of books that I plan on searching through, all of them are about souls, living and otherwise. I am confidant I can figure out a solution and get the hell away from this literally God-forsaken place.

Charlie swings by today to offer me help with my research. It seems the residents of the hotel have some sort of rotating schedule to help me, maybe they feel pity at me being targeted from day one? I take my seat next to Charlie and hand her a mug of tea that I offered. It’s an herbal blend that is caffeine free. I made sure to ask Charlie to purchase me some, so I could have a little variety in my beverages.

“Thank you Charlie I appreciate the help.” Her company is genuinely enjoyable, and I try my best to help around the hotel when she needs it.

“Don’t worry about it, Eleanor, I am glad to help! I am just glad things seem to be calming down, Al hasn’t done anything egregious in a while! I think he might be getting bored.” I smile brightly at the idea of some peace and quiet without the perpetual pest.

“I sure hope so! That would be the dream scenario!” We giggle like schoolgirls as we pour over the tomes.

………….

Meanwhile, in the Cannibal Colony, a similar scene is spread out. Amidst soft jazz music and the scent of coffee, sits Alastor perched in a large red armchair, perusing a large tome. An elegant table in front of him is filled with books of varying sizes and colors, all detailing information about souls and living humans in hell. Across from him sits Rosie, absently fiddling with her pen as she waits for a response from the deer demon.

He suddenly snaps shut the tome and stands, summoning his microphone in one smooth motion, bringing it to rest on the book pile. Rosie starts slightly but recovers.

“How jake! I knew you would come through my dear Rosie! It took a little longer than I wanted, but I will let it go this time.” He brings the microphone to her cheek briefly, but quickly turns away. “Now, dear, how much do I owe you for these fine specimens of literature?” He slightly turns his head toward her, side profile grinning wide.

“Don’t worry about the cost, I was late in getting them here, so they are on the house.” She grits her teeth but gives him a smile. These were much more difficult to get than I thought, I should have agreed to such a short turnaround! I can’t afford to lose his favor.

“Fantastic Rosie! You do give the best customer service; I will make sure to recommend your services on my next broadcast!” Pacing around the table and examining each books title his grin grows exposing his black gums. “Knowledge is power after all! This will make retaining my darling little human much easier!” He glances at Rosie, who takes a sip of her tea, a slight metallic taste revealing her favorite additive. “You know, I was able to get the poor thing to eat, finally! You should have seen her distraught expression. It was such a treat; I almost lost my wits!” He turns on his heel and struts to the kitchen. “Would you like something to eat, dear? I managed to get some fresh mutton the other day, why, they practically just walked into my kitchen!” A laugh track rings out, and Rosie smiles genuinely.

“Of course, I would love some! Thank you kindly for the offer Alastor.” She gingerly places her teacup on the table and follows him into the kitchen. Alastor opens his pantry door, revealing a sheep demon struggling against bindings made of shadows. Materializing a butchers knife he closes in, obscuring the trembling demon, and screams are heard throughout the mellow evening. Not a single soul in Cannibal Colony gives the estate a second glance.

………….

As I take notes on a promising tome, I am interrupted by a shout from the lobby. I can’t make out the words, but Charlie bolts up jittering with joy. I place my book down, marking the page.

“Oh my gosh! there is a new guest checking in, I need to go greet them!” She scrambles off out of the room as I stare dumbly at her retreating back. Shrugging my shoulders, I decide to wrap up my research for the evening, and slipping on the illusion ring, follow Charlies retreating form to the lobby.

As I descend the stairs, I am met with the back of a medium height demon with bleach blonde hair and light-colored fur. Charlie is talking quickly towards them, and I get a sense of familiarity off the lasciviously dressed demon. However, the inkling turns into fact as she opens her mouth to respond to the chatterbox princess.

“Wow, calm down there lady, chill the f*ck out!” My eyes shoot open.

“Cindy!” I can’t help but shout and she whirls around, eyes wide revealing my old friend Cindy, still recognizable through her canine features. She rushes at me and gives me a tight hug.

“Ellie! Oh my god!” She squeezes tighter and I tap out.

“Suffocating… lungs…” She immediately releases me and pats my back, while the crowd in the lobby, consisting of Angel, Husk and Charlie, watch our interaction in dumbstruck awe.

“Sorry! Sorry! I didn’t mean too Ellie!” Coughing, I tell her it’s fine. “Wait, if you’re here… That means you f*cking died! Who the hell killed you! I am going to find them and make them wish they were never f*cking born!” She starts to get riled up.

“You do not have to worry about that Cindy, I am not dead.” She looks confused.

“Then why are you here in hell? You even look like a demon?” I slip the ring off my finger and place it in my pocket, her eyes go wide as she takes in the shocking scene, her ears perk up.

“It is a long story; it turns out that there are ways to summon humans and a certain detestable demon did so accidentally.” I scowl as I think of Alastor. She furrows her eyebrows in rage and snarls.

“Who the hell summoned her, I am going to f*ck them up. My sweet little Ellie doesn’t deserve to be here!” She says as she coddles me into her warm fur. Angel is the first to speak.

“Holy f*ckin’ sh*t toots! This is the chick you were talkin’ bout’? Ya’ know the friend who's pimp you offed?” He grabs his drink from the bar downing it, as Cindy nods proudly.

“Hell yeah, she offed that son of a bitch! Didn’t even have to get her hands dirty, cause she’s a smart bitch too!” She rubs the top of my head proudly. “She got me out of so many fixes, I honestly owe her my damn life!” Angel breaks into a smile.

“Yo’ Eleanor, or should I call you Ellie,” He stick out his tongue, “I f*ckin’ work with this broad! I didn’t know this was the Cindy you were talkin’ bout’, she’s great on the poles!” I grin lopsidedly. Charlie finally processes the situation, and Husk just sighs and takes a swig.

“You know each other!” She starts to flit around us like a kid on sugar. “I am so glad you have a friend; this is great!” She pauses. “Wait, how do you know each other?” Cindy starts to respond but I silence her with a hand on her back.

“I shall explain, Me and Cindy were best friends and roommates in the living world. She is so close that she is practically my sister,” I glance warmly at her, “unfortunately, she passed away a couple of years ago, but I guess that doesn’t matter now that I can see her again anyway!” I take my chance to give her a big hug and pat her back motherly as she starts to choke up.

“I-I never thought I would see you again Ellie!” She starts to sob openly. “You have done so much for me, and I just went and f*cking squandered it! I thought you would be so disappointed and hate me!” I rub her back in circles, forcing her face up to look at me.

“Do not ever think that I could hate you, Cindy! Who was it that made sure I was never put in a bad situation despite where we were forced to live?”

She sniffles. “Me?”

“Correct! I am just glad you are okay down here. You do not need to worry about me, is everyone treating you alright? No big issues?” I pat her on the head lovingly.

“C’mon,” She blushes and Angel howls in laughter, Charlie smiles at the sweet scene, “you always act like my mom! I am fine, you are the one who is in danger down here!” I scoff.
“I just said to not worry, I am doing perfectly fine.” Husk and Angel both sputter.

“Nuh-uh, you did not just say that toots’! How is being targeted by Smiles not a f*ckin’ problem!” I glare at Angel and Cindy straightens like a board.

“Yeah kid, you are definitely not doing ‘perfectly fine’,” he chugs his cheap booze and I avert my eyes from Cindy. I can feel her burning gaze on the top of my head.

“Your being targeted! Ellie, you need to tell me about these things, I cant lose you again!” She grabs me by the arms gently. “You protected me so much, now it is my turn to protect you, so just let me protect you without a f*cking fight this time!” She lifts my chin to look in my eyes. “How bad is it? What have they done?” Sighing I cave in and tell her everything about Alastor that has happened so far.

“Yeah, I am pretty sure he wants to eat me… or steal my soul and then eat me.” Cindy’s face morphs into the angriest visage I have ever seen on her. She grabs my hand and looks at the healing wound as if it bit her.

“Where the hell is he! I am going to castrate that f*cking prick!” Angel and Charlie grab her before she can storm off to who knows where.

“Whoa cool off, sugar tit*! Smiles ain’t someone you can just off like that, he’s a f*ckin’ overlord. He would eat you for f*ckin’ breakfast. You need to keep your damn cool, how the hell do you plan to protect the broad if you get yourself killed, huh?” She grabs her arms and takes deep breaths; I pat her on the back until she calms down.

“Ok. I am as calm as I will ever be.” She turns to me. “I am going to protect you, I cant kill the f*ckstick, but I wont let you just be led to the f*cking slaughter.” She shakes off the rising anger again. Addressing Charlie, I offer an idea.

“Perhaps, if Cindy decides to remain here, we could ensure she has a room next to mine?” Charlie nods like a bobble head.

“Of course! She can have the room right nest to yours!” She looks at Cindy with pleading eyes. “Will you stay here Cindy? I know you weren’t sure about redemption but-“

“Obviously I’m staying here! I don’t give a rat’s ass about redemption, but I can’t leave Ellie to fend for herself, so I will play nice and try out your program stuff.” She puts her hand over my shoulder. “She was always weak when it came to physical strength, so I need to make sure I lend her my muscle!” She pretends to show off her biceps and Charlie giggles. Angel rolls his eyes but can’t hide his small grin. A sudden opening of the front doors cuts our pleasant conversation short, and the sound of radio frequencies and clicking fills the lobby. I tense and Cindy steps in front of me protectively before I can even see the man himself. Angel goes on guard and Charlie straightens up.

“Why, good day to you lot! I wasn’t aware you allowed dogs on the property!” He glances derisively at Cindy who bristles, before spinning to face Charlie. “My dear Charlotte, do you think it is such a good idea to show off our little human to,” a wave of his hands, “filthy mutts straight off the street?” His smile downright chilling.

“Don’t make assumptions Alastor, that’s rude! Eleanor knows her, they are friends.” Charlie attempts to look intimidating, failing miserably. Alastor co*cks and eyebrow.

“Yeah, don’t get ’cha boxers in a twist, smiles, this broad knows Eleanor from when she was alive, so buzz off.” He fluffs his bust and puts his hands on his hips. Cindy finally speaks before Alastor says another word.

“He really does look like a strawberry pimp; you were right Angel!” She smiles mischievously and I fail to suppress a laugh. The radio static spikes and the surroundings cool down threateningly. Alastor summons his microphone and places it in his elbow.

“I see you haven’t been house-trained, mongrel.” He adjusts his monocle and chuckles darkly. Cindy bristles. “You are a poor excuse for a guard dog, I mean who knows what diseases you’re carrying!”

“At least I am not a f*cking freak with a blood kink like you!” She snorts derisively, protectively wrapping her arm around my shoulder. He narrows his eyes tracing over her arm on my shoulders, and his smile reveals black gums.

“I would watch your tongue mutt. My patience only goes so far,” he turns to Charlie, “I would suggest removing this mangy creature from my sight before I disobey your little ‘no-killing in the hotel’ rule, princess.” He sharply turns and saunters over to the bar as Charlie hurries Cindy and me into the hallway. I can hear Angel arguing with an intensely quiet Alastor.
Making it up the stairs, Charlie leads us to Cindy’s room and hands her the key before booking it back to the lobby to try to calm Alastor down. Sighing I turn to Cindy and we both break out into raucous laughter. Opening her door, we head into her room to set things up.

“You weren’t kidding, that dude is freaky as hell! I felt my heart stop when he first walked in,” She spins around striking a pose, “He might be hot, but he smells like a f*cking butcher shop!” Giggling I agree with her.

“Yeah, I am not even sure he brushes his teeth I mean just look at how yellow they are! And his breath always smells like blood, it is really bad up close, believe me!” Taking joy in trash talking my tormentor, we decide to hang out in my room next door. We start to catch up with each other, and she cracks up when I tell her of my exit stunt from our old city. She regales me of her life and conquests in hell as of yet, and it feels like we were never apart. Our catch-up session is interrupted by a knock at the door. Cindy raises an eyebrow and I roll my eyes, holding a finger over my lips, hushing her.

Opening the door, I am met with the familiar cart being pushed by Niffty.

“Hiya Eleanor! I brought your dinner; Al told me that you’re not allowed to share with the new girl!” She says with a grin, I just nod and accept the cart, closing the door behind me.
“What the hell is that? I thought you didn’t eat that kinda thing?” She pokes around the cart curiously. I grin evilly.

“I don’t!” I chuckle. “This is my little ploy to get around his pestering about food.” Looking intrigued, she motions for me to explain. “He seems to care a lot about what and how much I eat, and he was very annoying about it in the beginning. I assume he wants to fatten me up or something like that, but I do not actually care why. Anyway, I made a ‘compromise’ that he would leave me alone while I am in my room and let me eat alone, in exchange I would eat his cooking on my fasting days.” My smile is as bright as the sun. “So, I throw every bit of it into the dumpster out my window!” She sticks her head out the window and starts to break into laughter. “Do not tell anybody though! I have not told a single person to prevent information leaks, but I need to tell you since we will be hanging out a lot more!” I chuckle.

I begin my usual routine of taking care of the food and brushing my teeth, before looking at the note left under the glass. I lift it up with a twinge of discomfort and Cindy grabs my arm reassuringly.

“Good evening, my dear! You seemed to have dragged in a distasteful mutt, and I admit I am a bit disappointed in your choices in ‘friends’. No matter, I’m sure I can fix that, I must ensure you take care of yourself, after all, darling! Anyway, please enjoy your meal, it is my mother’s recipe for jambalaya! I presume you know better than to let your little guard dog eat any of it. Yours truly, Alastor.”

Reading the note over my shoulder Cindy scowls. I crumple the note and throw it into the outside dumpster.

“He really is a piece of work isn’t he Ellie? Such a prick...” Nodding, I take a seat on the armchair, and she sits on my bed. We let conversation carry us through the evening, and I can feel a heavy weight lift off of my shoulder. I guess I was really lonely. I missed her so much… Night rolls around and we both retire to our respective rooms, and I have a fantastic night’s sleep.

Chapter 12: Hallucination

Chapter Text

Heading to the library to start my work, Cindy decides to join me, and I can feel contentment enter my bloodstream. We make it to the library, and she marvels my progress, about half of the huge bookshelves are perfectly organized. Showing her the catalogue, she affectionately rubs my head. I let her help me carry books to the table, for me to sort and we start to get to work.

Unfortunately, after only an hour of work, a familiar clicking noise is heard heading down the hall, accompanied by a big band song and humming. We look at each other in exasperation. The library doors shoot open and Alastor strides in. He stops; however, he stops in his tracks when he spots Cindy helping me. Raising an eyebrow he struts over to the table, swinging the microphone, in circles.

“Good morning, my dear! Getting an early start, I see.” He looks at the stacks of books on the table, and Cindy bringing more. “And here I thought you didn’t appreciate help! It certainly seemed that way the last time I kindly offered my assistance!” Cindy scoffs and slams her hand on the table in front of me, facing the intruder.

“Yeah asshat, its cause’ it was you. I thought you were smarter than that you dandy.” He co*cks his head and looks past her at me.

“I apologize, darling, I can’t seem to understand the barking and baying of your bitch.” My eyes shoot open. I have never heard him curse before, that is not good. I stand and place a gentle hand on Cindy’s clenched fist.

“How unfortunate for you Mr. Radio Demon, I can understand her just fine! You must have an issue with your hearing again, she said that I do not want you specifically to help me.” I grin widely as I hear the radio frequency spike. “I also thought you fancied yourself a gentleman! Why, I am just shocked to hear you use such foul language, I guess you must be pretty upset to curse at a pair of ladies weaker than yourself.” Shooting him a pitying look, I return to working and I can feel Cindy stifling laughter. There is a faint creaking as where his hand is on the table, sinks in slightly, leaving finger shaped indentations.

“Darling, you seem to be under the impression that I am a man of infinite patience!” He scrapes his claws along the wood of the table, approaching us, leaving deep grooves. He bends at the waist, looking Cindy in the eyes with a threatening gaze. “I also do not consider a mutt such as this to be a lady of any kind! Merely a bitch attaching herself to a fragile little human, begging for attention.” His smile grows and Cindy snarls. He shifts his gaze past her shoulder making eye contact with me. “Don’t assume that your insults will go unpunished, sweetheart~ I am not one to simply forget disrespect. However, I am a busy man so consider yourself lucky for now, my dear!” He promptly stands with a flourish of his microphone and disappears into a viscous shadow.

Cindy immediately sits roughly on her chair, and I release my held breath, my lungs needing oxygen. We look each other in the eye and sit in a heavy silence for a minute or two before Cindy sighs.

“That bastard is no joke, but I won’t let him hurt you anymore.” She puts her head in her hands. “The first time you actually need me to protect you, and I turn out to be nothing but a weak obstacle! I’m useless!” She slams her fist on the table. I place my hand over her clenched fist.

“You are doing your best Cindy! I will not let you trash talk yourself in front of me like that!” I force her to look at me. “This is not just some thug on the street, he is an overlord for goodness’ sake! Do not beat yourself up over being weak when that is what you are comparing yourself to!” Smiling at her I strike a pompous pose. “I have my ways of dealing with him as well! I might not be strong, but he is not immune to a little trickery here and there.” I send a sly look at her; she smirks through her tears. “Also, I believe my willpower is much stronger than he knows, there is no chance that I will make a deal with him.” She nods, having first-hand experience at my inhuman stubbornness. “Think about it this way, if he kills,” she flinches, “me what happens? I just end up back here, and much less weak than before! I would just need to go into hiding after that, without worrying about being a human!” Her tears begin to clear up and she puts on a small grin.

“He doesn’t even know who he decided to f*ck around with. He didn’t choose an easy mark!” We giggle together. “I will try to prevent him from killing you, but if he succeeds, you just come and get me after you get here!” She grabs my hands. “I mean he is in a losing battle! He kills you – you’re gone. He doesn’t kill you – you still refuse his stupid deal! There really is no win condition for him!” We beam together at our little plan and get back to work, making jokes at his expense the whole time.

After about two or three hours of work, we are interrupted when the lights shut off. Jolting in surprise, we both gasp.

“What the f*ck! Did the f*cking power go out or something?” Cindy scrambles up blindly, in the pitch darkness. I also stand, shuffling around to find the light switch.

“I do not know, I will check that the light did not get switched off.” I manage to find it after blindly searching the wall for a bit. My fingers brush against it and I flip it back and forth. Nothing happens. “Unfortunately, the light switch is not working. It might be a bigger issue than just this room!” We both groan and Cindy stumbles towards the door.

“You just sit tight there Ellie; I am going to go find Charlie and ask what the f*ck is going on! I don’t want you to trip in the halls, you don’t got that demon healing, girlie!” She cackles and I can’t help but giggle.

“Alright, but be careful Cindy, there could be a big bad deer somewhere out there!” She laughs and shuffles out the door, closing it behind her. I manage to reach my chair again, and take a seat, fiddling with the edge of my shirt in the darkness.

Sitting as still as possible, I begin to worry slightly about Cindy. I hope she is ok… Suddenly I hear a creak, and it makes my heart speed up. I look around blindly, seeing nothing but black.

“Is that you Cindy?” I hazard in a tiny voice. No response. I stand as quietly as possible and start heading in the direction of the door.

“Is someone there?” I try again. No response. Holding my hand over my beating heart, I begin to panic. I feel a brush against my shoulder, and whirling around I am met with a pair of glowing red eyes. I feel a scream start in my throat, but suddenly I see nothing, as I fall to the floor unconscious.

………….

My eyes flutter open and my head is fuzzy. I can see the red canopy of a four-poster bed above me, and I feel the plushness of a bed underneath me. I force myself to sit up, in the bright room, as pale light filters through the window. My head swimming, I can’t seem to remember what happened, or where I am. Looking around I take in a lavish bedroom, set up with many luxuries. This feels wrong, but I can’t seem to recall why. Suddenly a voice tears me out of my thoughts, accompanied by a gentle hand on my shoulder and… radio static?

“Good morning, darling! You seem to have slept in again, what am I going to do with you?” I turn my head to see the origin of the voice. I am met with a pair of red eyes, staring into my mine, the face is pale and has a full smile of sharp yellow teeth. He has small antlers and a set of deer ears amid his blood red hair. My brain starts reeling, but something forces the feeling of fear away. He is dressed in a neat red pinstripe suit, looming over me, but I can’t seem to place why I am uncomfortable.

“Good morning, I should probably get up now, right?” I yawn and stretch, noticing I am wearing a red silken nightgown edged in lace. A breeze hits my shoulders and bare arms and I shudder in discomfort. I begin to push back the covers and stand up when his clawed hand pushes me back down into the bed.

“Perish the thought, my dear! I shall bring you your breakfast, for you to enjoy in bed!” He pulls the covers back over my bare legs, fingertips brushing my skin, I cringe, and he pats my head. My stomach lurches.

“But I thought I had something to do today? I cannot seem to remember what it was though?” I sit confused amongst the crimson pillows and blankets, resting my back on the headboard.
He adjusts his monocle chuckling before bringing a hand to his chest “What kind of gentleman would I be if I let you worry yourself about things like that! I’m sure that you are misremembering, darling! I would know if you had something planned, dear.” Really? I can’t remember!

“I guess… so.” Relenting, I let myself relax back into the bed.

“Attagirl! I will be right back with your meal, sweetheart.” He turns on his heel and saunters out into the rest of the house, I can hear the door close behind him with a click. Did he lock the door? Why does everything feel off? I continue to look around the room, everything seems familiar, but also like I have never seen any of this before. I lift my hand and inspect the smooth unblemished palm. Why did I think I had a cut there? I continue to prod at my palm when I hear the door click open again.

“Here you go, darling!” he sets a tray, filled with food on my covered lap, before he pulls a chair to the bedside. Taking a seat, he begins to describe what he gave me, chin in his hand, elbow resting on the bed. “I made all of your favorites, my dear. There is sausage, bacon, and waffles. I also gave you a glass of water, I do hope you enjoy it. Do I like those things? I do not really remember what they taste like.

“T-thank you…” I lift the utensils and decide on where to start, I can feel his eyes on me. “Um… are you going to watch me eat?” I ask meekly.

“Certainly, my dear! Why, this is our morning routine after all, don’t you remember?” All of a sudden, I do remember, every morning he makes breakfast and watches me eat it, I feel ridiculous forgetting something like that. I giggle self-consciously and begin to eat my meal politely. His grin widens revealing black gums, but I ignore it and focus on the soft jazz tune that is filling the room.

As I take the last bite of waffle and sip the last of my water he jolts up and grabs the tray.

“Good girl, you ate every last bite! How was it?” He leans in close, eyes analyzing my every movement. Feeling uncomfortable, I shift back slightly. What did it taste like? I do not think it tasted like anything really.

“I-it was very good, thank you again.” I mumble out. He stands up straight again, and waves his hand over the tray, it disappears into a viscous looking shadow. What was that? Something feels off still.

“Alright!” I startle at his vigor, as He gestures to a walk-in closet, and I tilt my head. “It’s time to get ready for the day don’t you think, darling?”

“Oh… ok, I guess you’re right?” Sounding unsure I try to get up on my own but am quickly met with his clawed hands helping me stand. “I could have done that on my own!” Getting a little miffed, I snap.

“Horsefeathers, darling! The last time you tried to get up on your own, you almost fell off the bed! It’s my duty as a gentleman to ensure you don’t injure yourself, you know!” Remembering the incident as if it was just put there, I blush slightly, but shake his hands off, nonetheless. I can feel the nightgown fall to just above my knees, and I fumble to pull it lower, but am met with failure. He folds his arms behind his back, chuckling at my attempts, and with a spin he leads me to the closet door. He politely opens the door for me, to reveal an excessive quantity of clothing.

“Why are there so many!” I can’t help but exclaim, confused at my own outburst.

“Darling, are you feeling, ok? Remember, most of these wonderful gowns were gifts from me!” He looks proud and a cheering sound rings out. Looking over the variety I am overwhelmed with the options. His smile grows at my flustered state. “Don’t worry, my dear, there is no need to worry over choosing, I will select something for you, why don’t you have a seat at the vanity.” He shoos me away, and I unsurely seat myself at the carved wooden vanity. I look in the mirror at my reflection, while I wait for him to make a selection My long black hair is perfectly coifed in an ornate hairstyle that seems foreign to me. I can see him through the mirror, watching me out of the corner of his eyes. My eyes gaze over my shoulders and I blink in confusion. Where is that small scar? I know I had one right on my shoulder!

He finally spins on his heel, producing a lovely blue gown with embroidery snaking around the bottom of it. It looks like it would fall just below the knee, and is made with high quality fabric.
“Here you go, dear.” He hands me the gown and I run my fingers along the fabric, not really feeling anything. Sitting silently looking at the dress, I look up to see he is still standing there. Feeling frustrated, I glare at him.

“Well?”

“Well, what my dear!” He co*cks his head and raises an eyebrow.

“You cannot seriously expect me to change while you are in the room!” He plays a laugh track and reacts as if I told a joke.

“Darling, no need to be so shy, its nothing I haven’t seen before!” Grasping the dress to my chest, feeling uncomfortable and angry.

“No, I refuse to change while you are here, get out!” My voice trembles with rage.

“My dear-“

“No!” Turning away I begin to fume. A chill runs down my spine as I feel his hand brush over my bare shoulders. Through the mirror I can see him striding around me. He leans in close to my ear, the scent of blood washing over me.

“Fine, darling, perhaps we could make a deal instead?” Sparks run up and down my spine as sheer terror fills eyes. I can see his smile grow, revealing black gums as his eyes narrow. I shoot up and spin on my heel to face him.

“f*ck off Alastor! What the hell is going on!” I push him backwards and his eyes widen in surprise as everything in the room begins to dissolve away, starting with him. A splitting pain shoots through my head.

………….

The vision of the room dissolves away, revealing a familiar red eyed face looming over me, my head swimming with pain. My body is paralyzed as I try to move, I can feel my head resting in his lap. Feeling his clawed hand comb through my hair, I feel my stomach twist in disgust. He seems caught off guard at my sudden consciousness, as I glare at him, unable to speak.

“Good morning, darling! I must say I didn’t expect you to break out of that illusion all on your lonesome! Unfortunately for you, the paralysis is set to last another minute, so I guess you’re stuck with me until then, my dear!” he plays a laugh track and continues to comb through my hair with his fingers, twirling a few strands around his finger. “It seems you are deadset on not making a deal, I guess I just need to try harder next time, sweetheart.” I’d rather you just kill and eat me f*ckface! After a minute elapse I jettison myself up immediately, ignoring the claws pulling out some of my hairs.

“What the absolute f*ck was that!” My face is red with rage, and he just pauses, arms empty. “You are a f*cking disgusting creature; I can see why you are in hell!” I storm over to the doors, finding them locked. Spinning on my heel I glare at him with the full force of my rage, as he stands elegantly.

“I didn’t think you had it in you to curse, my dear! What a sight you are when angry, such a fiery little dame you are!” He claps along with the audience as he plays an applause. He strides towards me, and I continue to glare.

“I don’t care what you find entertaining you strawberry freak!” He chuckles and the radio frequencies cycle through quicker. A crashing sound rings out, interrupting whatever speech he was about to go on, and the doors burst open in a rain of splinters. Standing in the doorway heaving, is Cindy. She rushes over and stands in front of me.

“What the f*ck happened! What did he do!” She growls. I place a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. Glaring at the red menace I address Cindy.

“He has not done anything yet. You did not miss much, just an idiot’s sad attempts to get me to accept a deal.” There is a record scratching sound, and his eyes widen before he doubles over laughing and Cindy seems perturbed.

“You wound me, my dear! However-“

“Whatever, let us just go back to my room Cindy.” I turn and start walking back. Cindy freezes for a moment, before flipping Alastor off and running after me.

Left behind Alastor simply dusts off his suit folds one arm behind his back and strolls out of the room with a dangerous smile and narrowed eyes. With his other arm he spins a small black hair tie around one of his fingers as he walks.

Chapter 13: Pastries

Notes:

Trigger warning, force feeding and injury.

Chapter Text

The next morning as I do my morning routine, I count through my hair ties. There is one missing. Recalling the illusion incident, I realize he must have taken my hair out of its bun in order to run his fingers through it. I begin cursing him out in my head when I hear a knock on the door. I open it to see Cindy standing there, in her risqué pajamas.

“Mornin’ Ellie,” She waltzes in, and I close the door behind her. “Today is your eating day, right?” I nod “Are you going to eat your soup in here or at the table?”

“Well, I was going to eat in here, unless you have a different plan?” She sends me a small smile.

“Yeah, I sorta want to eat with you at the table… it’s like really awkward at the dining table. I just was hoping you being there would make it a bit better.” Sighing good naturedly I pat her shoulder.

“Sure, I do not mind, I already prepped my meals for the week anyway. It does not hurt to eat out there sometimes, especially when I know my buddy is lonely!” I tease her and she sticks out her tongue. “Let me just finish putting my hair up.” I head into the restroom and make sure my bun is as tight as I can make it, and I slip an extra hair tie onto my wrist. “Ok, I am ready!”

We head out the door and I ensure that I lock it. As we walk, we get to talking about what the table is usually like, and Cindy tells me that Alastor picks on everyone a little but singles her out. I feel myself getting angry, but I take a few deep breaths. She makes a displeased face.

“He also brags constantly; it is really annoying. I hate the way he talks about you…” I stop her with a hand.

“I do not want to hear what that wierdo says about me. He already says enough to my face, I would rather remain blissfully unaware!” We both chuckle darkly. We hit the stairs and head into the lobby, greeting Husk. I remember my promise to him and tell Cindy to go on ahead, I will be right there. She agrees and scurries to the dining room. As I approach the bar, he lifts an eyebrow and pours me a glass of water.

“I remember you request that I tell you when the red menace does something, would you like to hear?” He takes a swig of his booze.

“Sure kid, also that’s a good name for him ain’t it!” He chuckles gruffly. I smirk, before turning serious.

“Do you remember the blackout?” He nods “Well he was skulking around the library when Cindy left to find out what happened. When I tried to leave, he did some sort of illusion or hallucination magic to try to get me to make a deal.” He nods knowingly.

“Was it your worst fear? I’ve seen him do that sh*t before, it’s creepy!”

“Yeah, it was basically that.” I shiver at the memory of that twisted domestic scene. “Anyway, I would rather not say what I saw.”

“That’s fine.”

“But I managed to break through the illusion. I then got a bit angry and cursed him out.”

“You cursed him out? Like a witch or a sailor?” I giggle at his joke.

“A sailor.” He grins.

“I woulda loved to see that, kid! Anyway, it just sounds like another ploy to get you to make a deal, I can’t believe I am a little relieved by that. It beats him actually changing and becoming unpredictable. That would be bad. For everyone.” He emphasizes with a sweeping gesture with his bottle, around the hotel. “Well, kid, if we’re late for breakfast he’ll make my life hell so let’s get a move on.” He exits from behind the counter, and enters the dining room. I grab my meal, and head in after him. Everyone is present and I take my seat next to Cindy, who sighs in relief. Alastor seems thrilled that I have joined the table.

“Why, good morning, my dear! How fantastic for you to leave your little cave!” He places one hand on the table and another on his hip as he stands watching us enter. “Did your little mutt summon you? I thought that was my job.” Laugh track. I give him an apathetic stare as I sit and place my meal down. He scoffs at my usual vegetable soup. “Darling, I would think you would give up the vestiges of your little ‘ascetic’ nonsense. You have already abandoned your ideals anyway, dear.” He sits dramatically, and the residents at the table seem uncomfortable. Cindy however is livid and stands up in a huff.

“It is fine Cindy, he can say what he wants.” She takes a deep breath and sits back down.

“How nice to hear your voice, dear, perhaps you would like to eat something better than that!” He offers me a plate of waffles with sausage and bacon. Ugh… I scowl at the plate and shove it away.

“No. I would prefer you drop the subject.” He plays a laugh track. Cindy seems pissed again, but I don’t have it in me to interfere.

“Why do you even care you radio freak!” Alastor turns to face her.

“Oh my! It looks like the dog wants to engage in conversation! How novel!” He adjusts his monocle and leans toward her. “Perhaps you're upset she has already agreed to eat my cooking before you arrived! What a travesty, you failed to be her little guard dog!” His eyes gleeful. Cindy shoots up. He continues to goad her until finally, she explodes in rage before I can stop her.

“You sound like an idiot right now, f*ckhead! She hasn’t eaten a single bite of your f*cking cooking dipsh*t!” Silence. The blood drains out of my face as I snap my head up to look at Cindy. She immediately knew she f*cked up. Everyone turns from looking at Cindy, to look at Alastor who is still frozen at the head of the table. I can feel my heart pounding as the temperature drops. He begins to slowly saunter toward where I am standing, and Cindy is sitting. Silence. He reaches my chair and I just stare at my bowl hands clenched under the table, face pale. I can feel his clawed fingers graze my shoulders.

“Darling~ is this true?” I don’t respond and I don’t look at him. Cindy tries to pull his hand away from me, but he grabs her wrist with his other hand. There is another beat of nothing. I can hear snapping and everyone at the table is looking behind me. The radio frequencies are deafening. Suddenly, silence. He is gone. My breath hitches. Cindy sits back down legs shaking. All at once everyone starts to speak over one another. I can’t even make out a single word, I simply stare at my bowl. I can hear Cindy’s shaky voice apologizing, but I remain still. Eventually I look up and everyone stops arguing, looking at me like I might break.

“W-what do I do?” I mumble, and Vaggie is the first person to speak.

“Here’s what we do, we need to wait that prick out. There is no way you can be alone today. Each of us will take turns accompanying you, until necessary. Are there any objections?” She looks everyone in the eye pointedly. No one refuses. “Ok, I will start, now why don’t you enlighten everyone on what the f*ck is going on.” I take a deep breath.

“Alright, you will all remember him being very persistent about food, correct?” Everyone nods. “I became sick and tired of his pestering, so I made a compromise with him,” eyes shoot open. “Not a deal.” I clarify. They calm down. “If he left me alone when I am in my room and stopped bothering me about food, I would eat his cooking on my fasting days. He agreed. However, ever since the first tray arrived, I just dumped it out the window.” I shrug. “I have done this the entire time, and he was none the wiser, well, until now.” Cindy cringes. They all seem surprised.

“You are much more stubborn that I thought toots, I sorta thought ya’ caved. Can’t say I woulda’ thought a that…” Angel says, hand fluffing his bust. Husk grumbles.

“You shoulda caved, kid. I haven’t seen Al that pissed in a while, I’m sure he is making a radio broadcast right now.” He pours himself a glass of who-knows-what.

“You aren’t seriously trying to blame her for trying to protect herself are you! What else was she supposed to do!” Vaggie shouts, slamming her hands on the table. “Him being a psycho isn’t her fault anyway, he has made a f*ck ton of broadcasts this whole damn time!” They continue to argue amongst themselves, Charlie trying to mediate. The rest of breakfast passes uneventfully and Vaggie heads with me to the library. A fog of uncertainty hangs over the hotel the entire day. Every few hours my company switches out. Nobody sees Alastor for the rest of the day, he seems to have vanished into thin air. When Husk is the one to guard me, I ask him if Alastor has made a broadcast.

“You don’t wanna know kid, I know you feel guilty, but he is just a f*cking psycho. It’s him in the wrong, not that f*cking matters when he is a powerful son of a bitch, but whatever.” He swigs his booze, and I banish my guilt and lose myself in my work. Towards the end of the day, Angel is the last one to keep me company. He seems extremely bored, but surprisingly doesn’t take it out on me like I expected.

“Hey toots, d’ya think you wanna bunk with me tonight? Ya’ know… with Smiles all f*ckin’ angry like that?” He fluffs his chest and doesn’t meet my eyes.
“That would be nice Angel, thank you! I honestly have avoided thinking about it, he could just waltz in at any moment.” I shudder as I turn the page of my book. Screwing up my courage I decide to open up a bit to the spider in front of me. “Can I tell you something, Angel?”

“Shoot.”

“I am legitimately frightened of what he might do. I know his ultimate goal, and I am prepared to do whatever I need to prevent him from beating me in this twisted game, but I am still scared.” My shoulders slump and I feel awfully small, in this macabre world. Angel seems taken a back briefly, but puts his hand on my head.

“I know how ya’ feel toots. I know what its like to be scared of what’s comin’ but not knowin’ how ta’ stop it. All I can say is don’t let Smiles kill your light.” I can feel a tear threaten to spill, but I rub my eyes before it gets a chance.

“You are right, Angel, I cannot let him kill my light. Thank you for your advice, I value it more than you know.” He looks away bashfully.

“Don’t worry bout’ it toots, I don’t do well with the sappy sh*t.” I giggle and we finish out my shift. Alastor doesn’t show at dinner, and I don’t have much of an appetite so I only pick at my meal. I inform everyone that I am going to bunk with Angel for the night in case they need me. Dinner wraps up and we head up to Angel’s room.

As he opens the door, I can see a sea of colors. Messy is probably the nicest way to describe it, with expensive clothing and accessories strewn about. I ignore some of the lewder objects and he starts to clear a space on the floor. He sighs and I tilt my head.

“Aw, damn toots, I forgot ta’ grab extra blankets and sh*t, are ya’ ok with grabbin’ some from ya’ room? I’ll get everythin’ else set up.” That should be fine it is a quick trip.

“Ok, I can do that. I should probably grab a couple of other things while I am there as well. Be right back.” I leave his room and hustle down the hallway, trying to make this as quick as possible. I reach my door and hesitate. I check the lock and feel my tension release as I see it is untampered with. Unlocking it I swing open the door, placing the key in my pocket, only to gasp as I see Alastor sitting nonchalantly in my armchair.

Backing up I try to slam the door shut, my fingers catching a splinter in the wood. He snaps his fingers and with a shift behind me shadows start forcing me into the room. The door closes behind me and I can hear the lock click. My heart begins racing, as I press my back against the door scrambling to get my key from my pocket. His eyes bore into me, smile chilling. The radio static wearing on my ears.

“I am glad you could finally join me, darling. I believe you are looking for this.” He holds up my key in his thin clawed fingers, my heart sinks as he whisks it away into a shadow. His smile grows, revealing black gums. Motherf*cker…

“Let me out of here or I will scream.” I say firmly, but he only chuckles darkly, unperturbed. He swings the microphone around while tapping the armrest rhythmically with sharp fingertips.

“Go ahead, my dear, although I don’t believe it will do you any good. I have soundproofed the room after all.” He stands suddenly dismissing the microphone, and I force my back into the door harder, my legs shaking. “You can scream as loud as you want, darling.” I scramble away as he strides toward me. Feeling a sudden jerk backwards, he grabs me by the arm, squeezing hard enough to bruise. He pulls me behind him and begins walking, my feet dragging on the floor as I refuse to take a step. Trying to yank my arm out of his hand, I can feel his claws threaten to dig in. He swiftly forces me in front of a cart covered with a cloche and assumes his usual perfect posture next to me, hand glued to my arm. His voice sends waves of chills through me, and the scent of blood in the room is cloying.

“You seem to be under the impression that you can do as you please with no repercussions, sweetheart. I have warned you repeatedly that my patience was running thin, however, you persisted, my dear.” He practically purrs. “I am extremely disappointed that you chose to lie to me, but I must admit you are a clever dame!” Glancing at the door repeatedly, he keeps a grip on my arm, preventing flight. “Honestly I was beginning to wonder why you haven’t gained a single pound, I guess I know now, my dear!” The radio frequencies cycle at a steady pace as he adjusts his monocle absently.

“Now, onto business, my dear.” He removes the cloche and reveals a dish of varying sweet pastries, my teeth hurt just looking at them. I can recognize a few of them, but I have always avoided such sweet things, even before I became ascetic. I can tell some are chocolate, and some I recognize as beignets, the scent of sugar sets my stomach off, mixing with the overpowering metallic odor. As I recoil slightly his eyes practically glow with sad*stic pleasure and the radio frequencies begin to cycle through upbeat tunes. “Darling, you are going to eat everything on this plate, that is not a request.” Scoffing, I lean in closer and make eye contact with him. I can only try to wait him out. Angel should come looking for me when I take too long, I just have to endure whatever twisted game he has planned.

“No. I. won’t.” I hiss at him, emphasizing each word. He only responds by laughing quietly and he seems somehow pleased at my defiance. I feel a sinking sense of dread.
“I had assumed you would take this route; you always make things more difficult for yourself after all!” White hot pain shoots up my arm as one of his claws punctures my flesh after the last word. A scream rips through my throat as I writhe trying to remove the source of the pain instinctually. He settles the background music on an upbeat jazzy tune. “I would suggest eating, if you want me to stop, darling!” He emphasizes with another claw puncturing my skin, sliding slowly into the flesh of my arm. Looking down I can see my sleeve soaking in blood, dripping over his hand onto the floor. Clenching my other fist, I try to manage the pain.

“No.” I force, through gritted teeth. I can feel my heart beating in my throat, as another claw pierces. Forcing myself to stop yanking my arm away, I cursed the Cheshire cat smile on his face, His other arm delicately folded behind his back. Retreating within my head, I try to block out the pain. The next claw pierces and I can feel my blood pouring.

“Darling, I didn’t know you had such high pain tolerance!” He pierces the final finger in my arm before immediately ripping his hand off of my arm, reigniting the pain and causing my vision to black out briefly, as I fall to the floor. I shriek and grasp at my arm, trying to stop the blood flow. I can tell the flesh is badly injured under my sleeve, but I can’t see the damage... Gagging, I watch him bring his claws to his mouth and start licking my blood off, he shudders in ecstasy. “I must say, my dear, you are simply delectable! I almost enjoy your blood enough to let you escape your punishment! Almost.” He snaps his other set of fingers, still savoring my blood, and I can feel myself being dragged to the bed by shadowy tendrils. They lift me and slam me onto the bed, hitting my head on the headboard. He finishes licking his fingers and pushes the cart to the bedside. I struggle against the shadows that have my hands pinned to the headboard, my injured arm screaming at the position.

Freezing in terror, as he pushes the cart to the bedside with one arm as the other finishes consuming most of the crimson liquid.

“What are you going to do?” My voice hoarse from the pain and my shrieks. He looms over me, and I begin to flail as he begins to climb onto the bed, with inhuman movements. I kick my legs at him to prevent him from getting closer, but he just chuckles and pins them down with a large hand. He brings himself to overtop of me and straddles my hips. His large form pinning me down, he is heavy despite his thin form. He straightens his back and holds a bloodstained finger to his chin, his other hand grabbing my face.

“Why, I am going to ensure you eat what I so carefully prepared for you, dear!” His gaze shifts to the cart and I can make out his bloody fingers selecting a pastry covered in powdered sugar. He turns his eyes back onto me. “Open up, darling!” He brings the pastry close to my face, the scent of sugar overwhelming. I force my mouth shut as hard as possible and turn my head to the side. He roughly turns my head to face him again the tips of his claws digging slightly into my skin. Refusing to open my mouth I glare at him, disgusted, as his smile grows, eyes narrowing. Leaning in to get better leverage he hisses through his sharp smile, “You are so stubborn.” His fingers force my jaw open, and he shoves the pastry into my mouth, sharp fingertips slicing my lip. I tried to spit it out as the sweet taste overpowers my tastebuds, but he holds a hand over my mouth until I chew and swallow the bite. The sweetness makes me gag, as my tongue is unaccustomed to it. He leans next to my ear and purrs.

“There you go, darling~” His hair tickling my face and his bloody breath clashes with the scent of sugar, clashing as the jazzy tune plays on repeat, volume gradually increasing. He leans back again, his bony hips digging into mine painfully. He selects another pastry and forces it into my mouth again and as he holds his hand over my mouth, he strokes my cheek gently with his thumb. The music becomes deafening as his eyes glow in satisfaction as he sees me swallow the bite, the taste of my own blood tainting the morsel. He grabs another item from the cart, I can barely tell what it is due to my eyes watering. He repeats the process, and I can barely taste or think due to the pain in my arm and the music blaring in my ears.
“Attagirl! That wasn’t so difficult now, was it? You only have,” he glances at the cart with a smirk, “thirty more, sweetheart! I do hope you are enjoying this as much as I am! It is absolutely thrilling to watch you eat!” I can only groan in response as even his voice is drowned by the pounding rhythms.

He begins to force my jaw open again and force in the next pastry when I hear banging at the door. Relief floods through my veins as Angel starts to shout, words muffled. Alastor’s eye twitches and his grin shrinks, re-covering his black gums. The music drops and begins to cycle again and my head is pounding.

“How disappointing…” He mutters as the door bursts open and Angel rushes in. He forces the last pastry into my mouth regardless.

“What the f*ck!” Angel’s voice shrill as he tries to rip Alastor off of me to no avail. “What the f*ck are you doing!” Alastor waits until I swallow the final piece, before languidly snapping, reappearing in the armchair as the shadows holding me in place disappear. I let my arms fall, my injured one throbbing, I begin to cough, and each spasm sends pain shooting through me. I shift as Angel tries to move me. Spotting the blood covering the entire sleeve of my top at this point, Angel goes into hysterics. “What did you do!” At this point the commotion has brought everyone on the floor to the door. The last thing I hear as I pass out is anarchy breaking loose.

Chapter 14: Angel's Suspicion

Notes:

The songs in this chapter are, End of Innocence by Kamelot, Ask a Silly Question by Elvenking, and I'm Sorry by Aurelio Voltaire.

Chapter Text

The residents of the hotel confront Alastor about crossing the line and get him to agree to not do that again. Angel invites Eleanor into his room to have a talk in private. He tells her that he is worried about Alastor’s behavior towards her. Eleanor claims that he is just trying to annoy her for entertainment, but Angel disagrees and warns her that he is obsessed. She promises that she will be careful and report anything shady that he does to Angel, who opens up to her about his job and how messed up overlords can be.

My ears start to bleed as the deafening sound of that same tune blare through me. I cower in a shadowy void, surrounded by crimson eyes and radio dials. Curling into fetal position I rock back and forth as I can hear his transatlantic voice taunt me. I know he is going to kill me, a small voice in my head disagrees but I force it away. I cannot handle that thought. The music somehow gets louder until I can’t even hear my own thoughts until, suddenly I jerk awake, shooting up as pain stabs through me. My forehead hits something, but I don’t have time to care as I jump and run to the nearest garbage can. Violently, I begin to vomit up the unwelcome meal.

Looking around I recognize that I am in the lobby, and everyone is gathered… minus one person. I begin to shudder and my eyes dart around, searching for the red bastard. Cindy is rubbing her forehead, and I assume that’s what I hit on the way up. She slowly approaches me like I am a cornered animal. My heart is beating wildly as I can’t find Alastor. I can’t defend myself if I don’t know where he is!

“Calm down Eleanor! He isn’t here…” Her words pull me out of my panicked state, and I finally take in that I am not in danger at this moment. My breathing shallows and I can feel my body aching.

“W-what happened after I blacked out?” My voice trembles slightly and the gathered group all give each other unsure looks. Vaggie is the first one to pipe up.

“Eleanor, I will tell you what happened but first… could you tell us what the hell happened? Angel refuses to tell us, he was the first one to get there…” Angel has a guilty look but defends himself.

“Hey! It’s not my place to assume what I saw Tacorita, and what if she doesn’t wanna share with the group, this isn’t some schoolyard f*ckin’ incident!” He snaps at her. I hold up my hands to stop them from fighting.

“I-I can say what happened, but I would prefer to take a shower and change first…” Gesturing to my bloody clothes. They seem to nod in understanding. “I also would like some help bandaging my arm… I haven’t seen it yet and I don’t know if I can bandage it myself…” Charlie has a sad look and volunteers to help me. We head to her room as I don’t feel like seeing the mess in mine. My mind is blank for the first time in years, I have no plans, no thoughts, just the need to get my appearance in order. Reaching the room, she hands me a fluffy towel and a change of clothing before letting me into the restroom.

Shuffling in, I start to remove my bloody clothing in front of the mirror to survey my injuries, I can see dark circle under my eyes. My arm is badly bruised in the shape of his hand, and five deep gashes are visible deep in the muscle of my bicep. That is gonna scar… There are also a few small punctures and a few slices on my bottom lip, I peek at my gums and see a small cut there as well. I remove my skirt and undergarments to see that he bruised my hips. Seriously… I didn’t even think that was possible… A few more bruises are scattered around from when the shadows dragged me. I just sigh and enter the shower, scrubbing off the blood and realizing that the use of my injured arm is limited. Ugh… How annoying… I step out of the shower and put the clothes on, they are Charlies, so they are quite loose. However, I find the oversized fabric comforting and I exit to find Charlie sitting on her bed preparing bandages.

“Hey.” I say, sitting next to her. She returns the greeting.

“Hey… So…. I’m going to need to see your arm…” Not responding, I just roll up the shirt sleeve revealing the nasty hand shaped bruise and punctures. Charlie gasps softly but just starts to clean the area with alcohol. My breath hisses as she applies it, but I am careful not to flinch. She begins to bandage the wound in silence. I stare at the floor, before asking Charlie something in a small voice.

“Um… do you maybe have something that can play music? I have… a song stuck in my head…” She tilts her head before smiling slightly.

“Of course, Eleanor, you never ask for anything! I am glad to help…” I can tell she is curious as she gets up and searches through a stuffed drawer. She lifts a small device into the air in a victorious pose. “Found it! Here,” she hands it to me, “it’s my old hellphone, you can access the internet and play music as much as you want!” I thank her and we head back down to the lobby, my feet dragging. Everyone is whispering among themselves but go silent when they see us enter. I take a seat on the couch and sigh deeply.

“Ok, putting it off will only make it worse. I was going to sleep in Angel’s room, you all know that already.” Nods. “Well, he had forgotten to grab extra blankets, and I needed a few things from my room, so I went to get them.” My fingers pick at the cushion. “The red bastard was there already,” a few eyes widen at the unfamiliar sound of me cursing, “I tried to disengage immediately, but he used his weird voodoo bullsh*t to force me in the room and lock the door. Stole my f*cking key too.” I mutter. “I tried to threaten him by saying I would scream, but apparently he sound proofed the room.”

“Yeah, no one heard anything until Angel started to scream…” Charlie says quietly.

“He then grabbed my arm and dragged me to a cart; he went on some sort of power trip speech. I don’t care enough to recall it, but he said that I needed to be punished. He took the lid off the cart, and it was a ton of sweet pastry things. He told me that I was going to eat them all, and I outright refused. I f*cking hate sweets.” Cindy nods. “He apparently expected this and started to force his claws into my arm one at a time.” I motion to the arm injury, and I can see them cringe imagining what lays under the bandage. “Now, I still refused to acquiesce to his temper tantrum, but I had assumed he would give up after that didn’t work. I was mistaken.” I leave out the blood consumption, because it makes me uncomfortable to recall it.

“Yeah, he’s a f*cking stubborn bastard…” Husk interjects.

“Yeah. Anyway, he forced me to eat the damn sweets and Angel showed up, the end.” I roughly sped through the ‘finale’ not wanting to describe exactly how he did so. Angel raises an eyebrow. Caught off guard at the speedy conclusion everyone reels for a moment before Vaggie tells me what happened after the fact.

“Well, we all showed up as you passed out and he was gloating over getting you to eat, so we sorta figured it was something like that. A fight almost broke out between Alastor, Angel and Cindy, but Charlie had had enough.” Charlie looks slightly guilty. “She wanted to kick him out of the hotel.” My eyes widen in surprise. “At first, I was completely on board with kicking his ass to the curb, but something about his demeanor stopped me. I got Charlie to not kick him out…” Confusion fills my features, and a guilty caste overtakes her face.

“There must be a reason, I trust your discretion.” She nods.

“Yeah, he is holding back and limiting himself in the hotel, as much as it doesn’t seem like it. If he is kicked out, there is nothing stopping him from doing much worse to you… You would probably be dead already…” I can see Angel roll his eyes, Husk catches it and looks confused at his response.

“Yeah kid, he woulda killed you the first time you insulted him, so if keepin’ him here means that you stay around… its probably a good idea.” He takes a swig of his bottle. Charlie continues the story.

“Yeah, so we made a compromise with him…” Vaggie continues.

“He will remain in the hotel and continue to follow the hotel rules of not killing on the property. He also can’t repeat what he just did, no force feeding you or physical torture. In exchange we had to agree not to prevent him from speaking to you.” My brows furrow.

“That is all he wanted?”

“Well, it’s a compromise, which means we are all going off of each other words, we refused to give him any leeway to ask for anything crazy. We refused to make a binding deal, so the next time something like this happens, we will be forced to move you into hiding or something. He is unfortunately very hard to fight against…” She sees angry at her inability to help me completely.

“It is fine. I understand your limitations.” I clench my hands. “We only need to hold him off until I can find away back.”

“Yeah! We just need to keep on researching a way back for you!” Charlies’ enthusiasm is blinding. Angel seems offput at something, and as the group starts to disperse, he sidles up to me.

“Heya toots’ I’m sorry I sent you there alone… I think we should have a talk…” I tilt my head.

“I do not blame you; you are not the one who… did that… What do you want to talk about?” He shifts uncomfortably.

“I don’t think we should talk here toots’…Ya’ might appreciate a bit a privacy.” My stomach twists in dread. Whatever could he want to talk to that needs privacy…

“Oh… ok. Where should we go to talk?” He seems relieved that I agree and leads me to his room. When we reach it he scans the hallway before shutting the door and throwing himself on his bed. I take a seat in a chair, politely. He sighs and hesitates to speak, but then rushes into a fast-paced speech.

“Ok toots’ I know ya’ are gonna want to interrupt me, but ya need ta just listen till I’m done. Capish?” I nod. “Charlie, Husk, Vaggie, and you all seem ta’ think Smiles is tryna’ kill ya’ or somethin’ like that but I disagree.” Tilting my head in confusion as he continues, I can feel my heart drop. “Theres no way that’s he’s gonna kill ya’, did you see the look in his f*ckin’ eyes! He looked like an animal, and he wasn’t hungry for food toots’. I think he’s got the hot’s for ya’ and not in a sexy way… in a f*ckin’ creepy obsessive way.” My face pales and I almost dry heave.

“N-no, I can’t believe that… That is not the kind of person he is, I refuse to accept that his goal is anything but killing me.” My voice gets hard at the end. He scoffs.

“Ya’ can deny it all ya’ want toots, but this sh*t ain’t over. I’ve had my share of obsessed fans, and they don’t just go away cause’ of a little compromise. He was f*ckin’ straddlin’ ya’ and ya’ just skipped over it, I don’t know if ya’ dense or in denial, but ya’ need ta’ face the music. Overlords don’t just give up what they want. I should f*ckin’ know, I gotta bad one on my case too…” He trails off shutting his eyes forcefully. “Ya eva’ heard of Valentino toots?” I nod, that name was in the hell guidebooks… he is an overlord that runs the drug and prostitution businesses. “Yeah well, my sweet ass belongs ta’ him and it ain’t a f*ckin’ walk in the park, ya’ know? It don’t matter if he beats me or forces me ta’ do whateva’. This is hell, there ain’t any laws toots’ if Smiles wants somethin’ he ain’t just gonna give it up cause ya don’t agree.” My brain is going haywire. There is no way that is true! I am sorry for Angel, but I think he is just projecting. I don’t want that kind of attention… I’d rather he kills me; it would be so much f*cking better that way. Even Husk thinks he wants to kill me or make a deal, and he has known him for who knows how long… Angel watches my face contort. “Whateva’ toots’ I hope I’m wrong too... I can tell you couldn’t handle that… but whateva’ he wants, he’s gonna try his best to get it no matter what. Ya’ need ta’ keep me informed of his f*ckin’ antics, I don’t want ya’ ta’ let him get ta ya’” He trails off and we sit in silence for a few minutes.

“I understand. Thank you for your opinion, I hope you understand that I cannot believe that. Nothing good ever comes from such attentions, and I have lived my life avoiding them strategically. I doubt that I would catch anyone’s fancy in such a manner, and I would like to keep it that way. I will make sure to keep you informed, I trust your discretion after all.” He rolls his eyes at my firm denial of his claims. I can spot him glancing at my hips for a second, before he throws my something from one of his drawers. Catching it I examine the label in confusion, it seems to be a topical treatment for bruises.

“I know ya’ got a nasty bruise toots... not just on ya arm’… Use that in the mornin’ and evenin’, it will reduce the pain.” Gasping I grasp the jar tightly averting my eyes.

“How did you know?” I mumble.

“Trust me, I’ve seen plenty a’ similar bruises after particularly, ahem, violent clients…The way ya’ sat down, and normally ya’ place ya’ hands in ya’ lap in a specific place. Ya’ have them further up your knees, avoidin’ the tender spots. And before ya’ ask, no, I don’t think anyone else would notice… well maybe Cindy, but I assume you will tell her anyway.” Slowly, I nod, and Angel helps me to my room. Upon arrival he notices me lingering by the door.

“Ya’ want me ta’ open the door?” He offers, and I nod meekly. Opening the door slowly, he takes a look around, taking in the room. There is no sign of Alastor, but the room is still in disarray from the incident. He spots something and grunts angrily and I follow his eyes to the, still bloody, bed. Sitting primly in the center of the bloodstains is a note with my hair tie sitting atop it. He stomps over to it and snatches it off the stained sheet and grabs the hair tie. Holding the tie up to me he hikes an eyebrow.

“Wanna tell me what this little symbol means? Don’t think I haven’t noticed his little symbol game, where he does something f*cked up and then reminds ya’ of it constantly through little things. Its pretty common with tha’ sad*stic types.” He takes a glance over the note, his expression turning angry. Tapping his foot he waits for my response, withholding the paper.

“Fine. He stole my hair tie the other day,” I state confidently before my voice drops to a mutter, “after he made me hallucinate one of my worst nightmares…when I came to he had taken my hair out of my bun.” Leaving out some details, I hope this is enough.

“Of course! Told ya’ he was a creeper.” He hesitates before handing me the note. Starting to remove my bloody sheets he hurriedly hides the cart, still full of pastries, under them. “Ya’ might wanna have a seat before readin’ that trash.” I take a seat in my armchair, hands grazing over where he destroyed the armrests. Taking a deep breath, I begin to read the note.

“Good evening, my dear, I assume you have heard of my little compromise with the rabble. Unfortunately, it means you are able to skip the rest of your punishment, as much as I crave to finish it out. After all, you make such quaint expressions when in my grasp, it is so endearing! Your blood is somehow even more divine than the last time I tasted it, you are quite a delectable morsel aren’t you, darling? I look forward to seeing my handiwork underneath the blood, I am sure it is such a lovely wound. You will find that I have returned an item of yours, I truly did not mean to steal it, dear. It was only in the way, and you stormed out in such a huff that I had no chance to return it. Your hair is much more accessible when down, perhaps you should wear it that way more? Yours truly, Alastor.”

Raising my pale face, I am met with Angels concerned eyes. He reaches a hand out, asking for the note. Handing it over I sink into the chair further and put my head in my hands.

“He really is an insufferable prick, ain’t he? Ya’ got more details ya’ conveniently left out toots? Why would he care bout ya’ hair bein’ ‘accessible’ or whatever.” He states, as he rips the note up and throws it in the bin.

“Fine! When I broke out of the illusion, I was still paralyzed, and he was playing with my hair while I couldn’t move or speak.” Huffing, I cross my arms and pout.

“Seriously? Do ya leave out details like these out for a reason or...?”

“I leave out unimportant details. They are merely scare tactics that he knows I dislike; therefore, he tries to make me uncomfortable. There is no need to share them when they are meaningless.” Angel slaps a hand on his face.

“Damn... I guess you are dense and in denial…” I scowl at him.

“I do not see how anyone would not read that as a threat! I mean he pulled my hair before too; it is probably just something he does frequently. The scalp is a sensitive part of the human body after all, what better way to unnerve someone than by touching their hair.” Angel’s jaw drops at my tirade.

“And how do ya’ explain him straddlin’ ya’ toots.”

“Well, it is simply an easy way to pin someone down. He wanted to get me to eat, so he used his larger frame and heavier weight to ensure I couldn’t run while he carried out his task.” Feeling confident in my assertions, I feel the unease in my gut dissipate. That is right! He is just trying to unsettle me. If I let him get in my head, he is much closer to victory, I cannot misinterpret a rabid beast like him. Angel just shakes his head and mutters something.

“I swear… ya’ hopeless…” Feeling assured in my thoughts I get up and help finish tidying up the room, remembering the hellphone Charlie gave me. Excited to get that insufferable tune out of my head I flip it open and begin to search for some good music.

Whatcha doin’?” He pokes his fluffy head over my shoulder, looking at the phone.

“I was going to play some music; I have a terrible song stuck in my head. I also haven’t had a chance to sing in a while, do you want to join me? We could invite Cindy too; I am not really feeling sleepy.”

“Gotta say I didn’t expect such a normal hobby from ya’ toots, hell yeah I’m in! I wanna hear ya’ sing, I can’t even imagine it!” We go next door and invite Cindy to listen to some music with us. She agrees excitedly.

“You know, there is a piano in the ballroom, we could play a few of our duets Ellie!” Angel seems excited.

"Holy sh*t, ya’ can play the piano!” Cindy scoffs punching him on the shoulder.

“Of course! I ain’t just a hooker, Ellie here made sure I had some more classy skills.” She strikes a snobbish pose in jest. We all head to the ballroom, to find a grand piano and Cindy sits herself at the bench. Angel pulls up a seat, as I stand next to Cindy, preparing my voice.

“What song do you want to play?” I ask Cindy, allowing her to pick the first song.

“Hmm, I know! What about End of Innocence, I always liked playing that one!” Angel settles further into the chair.

“I like tha sounda that!” Chuckling I curb his expectations.

“It is not quite what you think Angel, alright are you ready Cindy?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be!” The dulcet tones of the piano begin filtering through the ballroom and I take a deep breath ready to sing the soft song.

“Tell me do you remember

The games and the laughter?

Far from the choices we'd have to make

A kiss on the lips turned the toad to a prince

And the end was a lifetime away

Angel seems blown away, I blush slightly. My voice is a little rusty, but the notes come out smoothly.

I pour myself onto this page

And I'm writing a swan song for ages

I will leave it behind

And just maybe you will remember me

My eyes close as I place myself in the shoes of the singer, feeling the song in my bones.

It's the end of an innocent era

The beauty we know will be lost

We're building a bridge between heaven and hell

To return again

And why must a hero die young?

Not to be gone and forgotten

So I pray for the broken this is not the end of innocence

The chorus reverberates through the room, and not a single person realizes that a fourth individual has joined them.

Now it's me and my knife and my will is my temple

Numb from the choices I have to make

Slowly we all took a bite of the apple

And laughter's a lifetime away

The intruder in red watches the performance with spellbound eyes, forcibly suppressing the static to prevent frightening away his prey. I relate with this verse more than I remember and the soul of the song fills me.

And I pour myself onto this page

I am writing a swan song for ages

I will leave it behind

And just maybe you will remember me

The tones of the piano blend with my vocals, creating a beautiful mixing and blending. The man draws closer, assuming a position directly behind Angel.

It's the end of an innocent era

The beauty we know will be lost

We're building a bridge between heaven and hell

To return again

And why must a hero die young?

Not to be gone and forgotten

So I pray for the broken this is not the end of innocence

Of innocence

Where do we go from here?

My eyes still closed, I ramp up the vocals, preparing for the final verse of the song.

It's the end of an innocent era

The beauty we know will be lost

We're building a bridge between heaven and hell

To return again

And why must a hero die young?

Not to be gone and forgotten so I pray for the broken

This is not the end of innocence

I finish the final line as strong as possible, keeping my eyes closed marinating in the silence that is unique to after a performance. However, a loud crowd of applause, yanks me out of my revelry and my eyes shoot open. Angel and Cindy also react in surprise at the sudden ovation. We all turn to see Alastor, smile beaming, applauding. He is looming directly above Angel’s seat.

“Splendid, my dear! I had no idea your singing could rival your screams in loveliness! That was remarkable, what tune would that happen to be? I don’t recognize it as the drivel people call music nowadays.” We all make a disgusted face at the crimson bastard.

“It was called mind ya’ damn business Smiles, now f*ck off she doesn’t need your sh*t tonight.” Angel is the first to snap at him.

“I must say your choice of company is rather depressing, darling. For being such a pure soul, you have an affinity for the harlots! No matter, I am sure you will find better company eventually. Like myself! I could certainly learn such a simple song. I am a superior pianist to the dog, after all!” canned laughter rings through the ballroom, echoing off of every surface.

“There is no way in hell she wants you to keep her company asshat. Have you seen what you did to her arm, you damn monster!” Cindy growls, still sitting at the piano bench.

“Don’t get him all riled up Cindy, he left a little note, and his ego doesn’t need to be inflated anymore.” Cindy gasps and looks at Alastor in rage.

“Oh? It seems a little snoop has gotten a hold of my private letter to my darling little human! What poor manners indeed.” The radio static spikes, his eyes narrowing. Placing my hands on my hips I smirk.

“I let him read it. No need to keep such drivel to myself after all.” I scoff and whisper something to Cindy. She grins and nods back. Angel guffaws at my dig and Alastor shifts his attention to me.

“Now, now, my little canary, no need to be so spiteful!” He strides to the piano and leans on it. “Why don’t you give us an encore, darling? I would certainly love to hear more!” Perfect. Cindy has a smug look on her face as I cross my arms. Angel seems to sense something, and a small smirk spread across his features.

“Sure, I don’t mind singing another song. I will even dedicate it to you specifically!” I motion for Cindy to begin as Alastor grows suspicious. Taking a deep breath an evil grin crosses my features and his eyes narrow. I begin to sing.

“A long time ago the gifts were given by the gods

That day you didn't show your face at all

Now I'm gonna ask you: where do you belong?

The human being's supposed to be the best of all

After the first verse I can tell he was genuinely caught off guard, and Angel can’t help but snicker. I simply continue, my face consumed by spiteful joy.

The missionary position's leading back to number one

You thought you had some points, but now you have none

You're just one of the bloody freaking mass

The very best of the breed in your literature class...?

My patience has been worn out by your self esteem

How can you say Lord Byron used to play in your dream team?

I can see his clawed fingers gripping the piano hard enough to leave an indent as I accompany the lyrics with mocking gestures.

Ask a silly question - get a silly answer

You comedy of contradictions is your final cancer

If this is what you are, then I say: No!

If this is all you say then I say: No! No! No!

The missionary position's leading back to number one

You thought you had some points, but now you have none

All the natural and good willing forces of the earth

Are worth being respected since your time of birth

But I know you'll betray them - for your dumb regime

Forget your ugly face 'cause you don't count more than anything

I bring the back of my hand to my forehead dramatically and Angel is practically rolling on the floor with laughter. Alastor has a closed mouth smile, and his eye is twitching, and the piano goes silent, cutting off the remainder of the song. I begin to laugh uproariously, and Cindy does the same. I can feel the temperature of the room is dangerously low, and he finally addresses me.

“I see, my dear, you seem to be spiteful in song as well. I must say I prefer the previous track; this one was most distasteful.” He approaches me and bends at the waist to make eye contact with me.

“Oh? Were your sensitive sensibilities offended by my little song? That’s a right shame…” I turn purposefully and begin speaking to Cindy about how wonderfully she played, giggling every few words.

“Yeah Smiles, lighten up!” Angel shouts, still chuckling. “Your face was f*ckin’ priceless!” Alastor doesn’t acknowledge the spider. Instead, he lifts a clawed hand and brushes his sharp fingertip down my spine, as I am turned away and leaning over to speak with Cindy. Immediately bristling, I shoot up and spin to glare at him.

“Don’t f*cking touch me!” His grin grows again at the sight of my scowl.

“Oh? Making request now, are we? After that little display of insubordination, I am not sure you have a right to make requests, darling~” He walks his fingers along my shoulder, up towards my neck. I brush his hand off and move away again. He follows but stops behind Cindy instead. He brings a hand up to her hair and grips it roughly but refrains from pulling it. Smile revealing black gums he looks me in the eyes with an unsaid threat.

“What the f*ck!” Cindy shouts, grabbing at her hair, trying to remove his hand. He tenses at the touch and yanks her head next to his face.

“Don’t touch me you mangy mutt.” He hisses in her ear, so low I can’t make out the words.

“Hey, let go of her!” I try to remove his hand, but he keeps a strong hold.

“Perhaps I will… if you sing me another song, my canary. One more suitable, of course.” He purrs threatening to tug her hair again. I acquiesce to his goading, not wanting Cindy to get injured. Angel seems offput and makes his way to the piano.

“You don’t have to Eleanor!” Cindy says through grit teeth, but I can’t just let her suffer in my place.

“I’ll do it just let her go.” He releases his grasp and dusts his suit off as if he touched something filthy. “Do you want anything specific? I cannot guarantee knowing specific songs.” I mutter, upset that I am playing along with this farce. He brings a clawed finger to his chin, crossing the other arm over his chest as he thinks.

“Perhaps something… suitably apologetic, darling! And preferably something you can perform without accompaniment! I don’t want the mutts obscene key mashing to obscure your voice.” My teeth grit in frustration, but I try to think of something that won’t make him kill my friend. Finally settling on something, I frown.

“Fine. I have something that fits your criteria, but I want you to stand much farther away from her.” He is, looming over Cindy and it is making me uncomfortable. He chuckles and snaps his fingers, appearing reclined in a seat in the audience area, looking practically giddy. Heaving a frustrated sigh, I set a hand on Cindy’s shoulder reassuring her as she looks at me concerned. I begin to sing unaccompanied.

“Life has a way of making you humble

Day after day it's bringing you to your knees

all's okay, then everything crumbles

And all that you perceive is blowing away

But while I'm tearing at the seams

I'll apologize to anything

I'm sorry....

All's black and white when you're just a baby

You get some hair on your chin

you think you know everything

Years go by then everything's "maybe"

and all that you believe

Drowns in a sea of gray

But while I'm tearing at the seams

I'll apologize to anything

I'm sorry, I'm selfish

I'm sorry, I behave this way

I'm sorry, couldn't help it

I'm sorry that you lost your faith in me

We lost our faith in me

But while I'm tearing at the seams

I'll apologize to anything

I'm sorry, I'm selfish

I'm sorry, I behave this way

I'm sorry, couldn't help it

I'm sorry that you lost your faith

I'm sorry that it rains

I'm sorry I ever came

I'm sorry, sorry”

A round of applause rings out from Alastor and his grin is threatening to tear away from the confines of his face.

“Apology accepted, darling! Why, how could I deny you when you entreat me so sweetly!” My face turns red with rage, but I just take a few breaths as Cindy pats my back.

“I am retiring for the evening.” I say as I begin to walk away from the situation, Cindy and Angel following me. Exiting the room, I can hear a breathy chuckle as the door slams shut behind me. Standing just outside the doors, I collect myself as my two friends try to calm me down.

“He makes me so f*cking angry!”

“Toots ya’ need ta’ calm down, he is trying to piss you off!” Agnel tells me as we are walking back to my room. I take a few forceful breaths as Cindy holds my hand. She rubs the back of her head with her other hand, and I can feel a wave of guilt crashing over me.

“I’m sorry Cindy…if I didn’t try to piss him off like that, he wouldn’t have taken it out on you.” Waving her hand forcefully she vehemently denies my apologies.

“f*ck no, that was all him! He is just a prick it isn’t your fault, Ellie; you didn’t have to cave to him for me! His smugness was sickening…”

“Yeah…” Angel agrees. We all commiserate in silence, moping until we head off to bed, oblivious to the shadows watching us.

Chapter 15: Board Games and a Show

Notes:

Trigger warning, graphic depictions of violence.

Chapter Text

The days pass with Alastor continually pestering me, Angel and Cindy, being especially combative with my two friends. A small part of me hopes that he is spreading out the unpleasantness due to him losing interest in me, but Angel straight out denies it. Claiming that he is trying to guilt me into spending less time with them. I feel guilt wash over me, but they quickly dismiss it claiming that it is a good thing because it means me hanging out with them is making him upset. This puts a small smile on my face, and I can just picture him fuming, to my delight.
One evening Charlie rushes up to us as we are chatting in the lobby, Alastor free for the moment. She seems to be vibrating with excitement and begins to speak very quickly.

“Hey guys! I just had a fantastic idea; why don’t we have a board game night! Everyone could pick a board game and we could all have a fun time with some friendly competition!”

“Board game night? what are ya’ five?” Charlie’s face falls and he scrambles. “But I guess that could be fun… if you two like tha’ sound of it of course…” He looks away awkwardly towards us, only to see sheer excitement plastered across our faces.

“That sounds fantastic! I will decide on a board game right away!” I shout with glee and Cindy matches my energy.

“Hell yeah! I’ll f*ckin beat you this time, we still have unfinished business, Ellie! I have yet to beat you at Settlers of Catan and you promised to play until I win!” We both rush over to the storage closet where we know the board games are kept, and search for our choices. Angel looks at Charlie who seems equally surprised.

“I’ve got a feelin’ they like board games…”

“Yeah… I wonder how good they are?” Charlie giggles and rushes off to tell the rest of the residents, realizing that Niffty is nowhere to be found she asks Alastor, who simply states she is indisposed. He seems enthusiastic about the concept of the board game night and disappears to make his selection. Husk doesn’t seem to care and just grabs his poker set. Vaggie nods and smiles along with the idea, making a choice that she feels will be easy for everyone to play.

They all reconvene in the lobby to find a large game table set up, and Cindy and Ellie already playing a game against each other, Angel spectating. The game seems to end and Cindy shouts.

“f*ck! You won again, damn… I’ll get you next time Ellie!” Giggling I help place the game of Splendor back into the box. Realizing that the rest of the group has arrived, save for the red menace. Charlie motions for everyone to place their games in a pile and surveys the choices. Alastor materializes next to it, scaring Charlie, and places an elaborate wooden box in the pile.

“Alright everyone let’s go through what everyone picked, to see what we want to start with! I picked Monopoly and Vaggie picked Uno, everyone should know how to play those two games. It looks like Cindy picked, Settlers of Catan? I am not sure about the rules on that one, are they complicated for everyone to learn quickly?” Cindy scratches her head.

“Um… well the rules are easy, but they might be hard for newbies to learn quickly…Let me just grab something a bit simpler, got any ideas Ellie? You are totally going to have to switch your game too,” she chuckles as my cheeks turn pink. I grab my selected game, Risk, out of the stack and decide to choose scrabble instead. Cindy selects Dixit, explaining that it is easy to learn. Charlie continues to go through the choices.

“Husk chose poker,” Nobody is surprised, “and Alastor what did you choose? I can’t tell by the box…” He swings his microphone, tapping the top of the box.

“Why, I chose chess, my dear! It is simply the pinnacle of entertainment, I am ab-so-lute-ly thrilled to see how you will all fare!” Charlie makes eye contact with Vaggie briefly.
“Um, isn’t chess only a two-player game? Shouldn’t you choose something that can have more players?’

“Nonsense my dear Charlotte, I don’t anticipate each game to last very long, after all!” He laughs haughtily and takes a seat dramatically at the head of the game table. I ensure that I am seated the farthest possible from him. He raises an eyebrow but says nothing.

“Lastly, Angel, I don’t see a game from you?” Angel takes a seat next to me.

“It ain’t in that little pile, I gotta good one, it’s called never have I ever, sound good toots?” Charlie nods and she and Vaggie take their seats. Cindy sits on my other side and Husk sits beside her. We all end up clumped on the other side of the table, far from Alastor. Who chuckles.

“Now, now, my friends, how do you expect to play when you are so crowded together? fix this.” He snaps and everyone is redistributed evenly around the table. I end up directly next to Alastor and I shoot him a glare. “That’s much better! Now what do you want to start with, darling?” Ignoring him I pass the question to Charlie, who seems offput by his antics.
“What would you like to play first Charlie?” She shakes herself out of her thoughts and grins.

“I was thinking we could start with your game, Scrabble! I think it would be a good warm-up!” Nodding, I expertly set the game up with Cindy’s help. The game starts out strong, with me placing a few complex words. Angel tries to place down a few obscene words that are certainly not in the dictionary, and I must explain to him that they are not valid words. He just grins and normally plays the rest of the game. Towards the end it seems I am neck and neck with Alastor. Cindy was never great at this game, but I know she will crush it in the others.

“Well, darling, you are quite verbose, aren’t you? However, it seems we have tied! Whatever are we to do?” I grin and explain the tie breaking rule.

“Well, in case of a tie the player with the highest score before deducting unused letters is the winner. Which happens to be me, Smiles.” His eye twitches at the familiar nickname.

“My dear, it seems the lascivious spider is rubbing off on you, how distasteful… It seems you have won fair and square, darling, congratulations” I chuckle at his muttering and stand to repack the game. Angel and Cindy are smiling smugly at my victory. I cheer in my head. Angel said he would hate that; he was completely right! I ask what the next game will be, and Charlie selects Uno. Grimacing in my head I take the game out of the box. I hate uno…it is completely up to chance! I ensure that everyone is dealt their hand and reseat myself, shifting my chair subtly away from Alastor. He gazes at me pointedly and winks, sending me shuddering in disgust as his smile reveals black gums.

The game goes about as well as any game of uno, tensions running high. Somehow Alastor is the first to reach Uno, but he I play a plus four, feeling vindicated. Angel starts to shout as Cindy hits him with a plus four as well, and as I am for my next turn, I feel something brush against my ankle. I glance under the table, to see nothing strange, I shrug and play my turn. Eventually Alastor wins the game, and his smug smile infuriates me.

“It seems it is one to one now, my dear! I almost thought our dear Charlotte would win that one, but alas I managed to achieve victory!” Rolling my eyes, I move to stand and set up the next game, only for my chair to push itself in knocking me back onto it as it collides with the back of my knees. “Relax, darling, I will set up the next game, no need for you to worry your pretty little head about it!” I look away uncomfortably only to see Angel looking at me like I am an idiot. I stick my tongue out at him, and he rolls his eyes chuckling. Alastor and Husk set up the next game, poker.

The game starts out slowly, but I know for a fact that Cindy is extremely good at this game. I can feel the corners of my mouth trying to twitch into a smile, as I see Alastor narrowing his eyes at her. The game is neck and neck between Husk, Cindy, and Alastor as I fold. The tensions are rising palpably as Husk surprisingly folds, and I’m not sure it’s because he would lose. Sparks are shooting across the table as Cindy and Alastor reveal their final hands. I can feel Alastor tense as it is revealed that Cindy is the winner. She stands up and hollers in excitement while I congratulate her. I may have lost, myself, but it is worth it to see the sheer disgruntlement on Alastor’s face. Angel is also grinning at this development.

“It seems that the dog can do tricks, how impressive. You must have trained her well.”

“Nope, she learned how to play poker by herself. I did not teach her anything about it, but I guess it is hard for you to accept that isn’t it, Smiles?” I mockingly smile at him, and I can hear the radio frequencies spiking. He says nothing as I set up the next game, being monopoly. Sending a knowing glance at Cindy, she smirks and nods. Time for our famous teamwork. It always pisses people off, but it is worth it!

The game begins and I feel the brush against my leg again. This time it doesn’t go away, and I look down to see Alastor’s leg touching mine. Glaring at him I catch him eyeing my reaction out of the corner of his eye and feel his leg get even closer, stepping on my foot and pinning it in place. Whatever, I need to focus on the game. The game progresses and everyone notices the strategy that me and Cindy have. Perfect teamwork in a competitive game. We make moves that strategically help the other player and gradually force the other players into poor positions. Cindy sends me the signal that she wants me to be the one who takes the win. Angel is the first to go bankrupt, followed by Charlie, and then Vaggie. Cindy manages to make it a few more rounds but makes a blatant error with a smile. I can feel the pressure on my foot increase and pain shoots up my leg as he digs his heel in. I put on a purposefully apathetic face, ignoring the pain as best as I can. The game comes down to the wire and I can tell my foot will be bruised, but Alastor lands on my property and goes bankrupt. He removes his foot and I glance down to see he has left a permanent indent in my shoe, but I feel nothing but contentment.

“It seems I have won again, Smiles. I thought you said you were good at games. I guess you were just co*cky, oh well…” Faking a disappointed face I send Cindy a subtle thumbs up.
“Yes, well your little teamwork trick with the mutt worked wonders didn’t it, sweetheart.” He says through gritted teeth and the tension rises at the table. With three games left Charlie decides that we should take a quick break to stretch our legs and Husk gets a new bottle of booze. I amble over to Cindy and Angel with a smile.

“You are playin’ with fire toots, but damn if it ain’t entertainin’! I’m f*ckin shocked he hasn’t done anythin’ yet.” His eyes showing genuine confusion and glancing at the man in red, conversing with Husk. I make sure he isn’t looking before dropping to a whisper.

“I can tell he was particularly unamused by our monopoly tactic. He was practically crushing my foot the whole time; he left a damn indent!” Motioning slightly, they look down at my indented shoe. They seem unsurprised.

“Yeah, sounds like him. A sore f*ckin’ loser!”

“Who is a sore loser, my effeminate fellow?” We all twirl to see Alastor walking up with his trademark smile.

“You f*ckin’ know, Smiles, unless ya stupid as well as a prick!”

“Why, I believe I handled my losses quite well! At least I haven’t lost every game unlike you. Regardless, I would like to have a word with the darling little human. Alone.” A dangerous quality enters his voice, dripping with malice. Cindy just scoffs and Angel puts his hand on his hip.

“Or what? You gonna cause a scene in the f*ckin’ lobby? What d’ya even wanna talk about? How you are pissy that she keeps winning?” Alastor narrows his eyes, vocal distortion growing.
“I am sure you know exactly what I am speaking of.” Fortunately, before he can continue his threats Charlie calls us back to the table. He sends another threatening gaze over the three of us and turns on his heel, heading back to the table. The next game is Dixit and I already know how it is going to play out. As the game progresses, the players quickly realize that they can use inside jokes and references to throw other players off, and it gets interesting. Cindy and I consistently are able to correctly guess each other’s cards. Angel and Cindy seem to have a similar affinity. Charlie and Vaggie are also on the same page, leaving Huska and Alastor behind as they cannot keep up with the inside references. Alastor seems so caught off guard that he isn’t even angry, he seems to enjoy spectating the thought processes of everyone. Towards the end of the game, it rolls around to my turn an I look at the card in my hand, smile mischievous splitting across my face. Everyone will get this, but it is so worth it. I play my card.

“The phrase is: The freak.” Eyebrows shoot up and as the cards are laid out smiles begin to filter on their faces. Among the cards mine is obvious. It depicts a smile stretched across the card. I can feel eyes burning on the side of my face, but I just ignore him and the spiking frequencies. Everyone gets the card right and the game wraps up quickly after that. The victor of this game is Vaggie, she was able to get a few of everyone else’s references. Alastor came in dead last. Two games remain and I am supremely excited for chess. Alastor stands and speaks to the group.

“Now, time for a worthy game. Chess!” He waves his microphone, and an ornate wooden chess table appears, with chairs for spectators surrounding it. “We shall pair off and play matches till we have a grand finale!” Everyone just nods and we all pair off and start playing, Angel decides to sit this one out. Alastor thoroughly defeats Husk, and Vaggie beats Charlie. I beat Cindy. The next game decides between Vaggie and Alastor. He defeats her easily and it comes down to me and him.

I take my seat across from him and he offers me a wide smile with eyes narrowed, analyzing my every move. He sets the board back up and lets me pick my color. I pick black and he raises his eyebrow, the radio frequencies cycling at a steady pace. The game ends up progressing at a rapid speed, each player only spending a couple seconds per move, both hyper focused. There is a thick tension as the spectators can tell it is a close match. Alastor plays aggressively while I play using an any means necessary style. It drags on for an extended period, much longer than the other matches, until…

“Checkmate.” I say in a monotone voice, and I can feel Alastor’s eyes burning into me. He surveys the board again, while I glance at the spectators and offer Cindy and Angel a thumbs up. Suddenly his transatlantic voice draws my attention back to him.

“So, it seems, darling~. Congratulations.” He purrs, and I look up into his face. His eyes seem hungry, and I feel my heart stop for a second. He reaches a clawed hand out towards me, offering to shake hands. Feeling my fingers tremble slightly I meekly shake his hand. His grip firm, his eyes never leaving mine. When I try to pull my hand away, his grip lingers for a second or two before releasing me. I immediately get up and head over to the group as he adjusts his monocle, his eyes follow me.

“Alright! It’s time for the final game!” Charlie shouts. “We don’t need the table for Angel’s suggestion, so let’s just pull up a couple of couches and relax.” Alastor chuckles and snaps his fingers, the game table folds itself back up and sends itself into the storage room, along with the games. Charlie and Vaggie push the couches together and everyone began to take their seats. Angel asks Husk to bring over some drinks and I realize that I will be the only one not drinking, even Alastor requests a glass of whiskey. Instead, I head to the kitchen to get a glass of water. When I return, I take a seat in an armchair, to avoid being too close to anyone. Angel describes the game again, stating everyone will hold up ten fingers and on their turn, they will say never have I ever done ‘blank’. If someone has done it, they put a finger down. The goal is to be the last person with fingers left up. Everyone seems to understand the rules and it begins with Charlie going first.

“Never have I ever… stolen something.” She looks around at who puts down a finger. Every last person puts a finger down and she gasps. I am a little surprised that Alastor has stolen something before, but I refuse to address him unless necessary.

“Even you Eleanor!” Says Charlie.

“Of course. It was necessary to get the information I wanted sometimes.” I shrug and she seems to understand a bit better. The next statement is said by Vaggie.

“Never have I ever,” she looks around at who is playing, trying to sabotage people, “had a menage a trois.” Angel and Cindy both put down a finger, everyone else does not and Alastor seems offended by the question.

“What does that mean?” I ask hesitantly, looking at Vaggie for clarification. She just coughs a bit and sends a pleading look to Cindy. I can hear static spiking uncomfortably. Cindy leans next to my ear and whispers what it means, sending a horrified look across my face along with a blush. I keep my fingers up. The next turn is Husk.

“Never have I ever threatened Eleanor.” Everyone turns and watches Alastor put down a finger chuckling. I just roll my eyes and look over to Cindy who blushes while putting a finger down.
“Wait what! Ya threatened Eleanor! When!” Angel cries out and I find a smile creeping onto my face as Cindy hides her face.

“I can tell you that! It was when I was doing research on a topic that I found very interesting, she realized that I had not slept in two days. She threatens to knock me out if I did not go to bed right that second! I did indeed go to bed; I wouldn’t want to get a concussion now would I.” I send her a little smirk. Alastor seems thoughtful for a moment, before making his statement.
“Well then, never have I ever engaged in illegal drug use!” He chuckles as Angel and Cindy put fingers down, but then I pipe in.

“Is that really true? You are telling me you never once touched alcohol during prohibition?” Grinning I turn to him. He seems caught of guard for a split-second.

“Fair point, my dear! I had forgotten all about that nonsense law banning giggle water! I guess you caught me…red handed!” He plays a laugh track, and everyone groans at his pun as he puts a finger down. I wink at Cindy as she giggles. Next is Angel and he giggles.

“Never have I eva’ banged someone!” He laughs and immediately puts down a finger.

“Can you do that! That is obviously a lie!” Cindy shouts at him. He keeps laughing.

“There ain’t no rule against it toots! I put ma’ finger down now what about all of ya’? His smile is a mile wide as he watches everyone one by one. Charlie and Vaggie put a finger down with a blush, Cindy put one down without a care, Husk does as well. However, when Angel’s eyes reach me, I keep my finger up and he shouts.

“f*ckin’ knew it! Whadda bout you Smiles?” The static is deafening as Alastor remains stock still, smile slightly open in shock. He doesn’t put a finger down. Angel breaks into more laughter.

“My, what an obscene bunch aren’t you!” He twitches but doesn’t say another word, simply turns to me and motions for my turn. I debate who to target with my question, settling on the obvious answer: Alastor.

“Never have I ever eaten human flesh.” I can hear a few groans and Alastor begins to laugh boisterously, forgetting about the awkwardness of the previous statement.

“What a clever little way to single me out, darling!” He puts down a finger proudly before turning to Husk. “Husker my good man! I should be seeing you put down a finger as well, I did have you over for dinner at one point if I recall!” He tilts his head and goads the bartender. Husk growls at him.

“You didn’t f*ckin’ tell me you were a f*ckin’ cannibal at that point ya’ freak.” He grumbles but puts a finger down regardless. Finally, it is Cindy’s turn, and she already has a question.

“Never have I ever murdered someone when I was alive.” Looking around, Alastor is the first to put a finger down, grin positively joyous. Angel puts a finger down, and so does Husk and Vaggie.

“How jake! We have quite a few cold-blooded killers on our hands, don’t we?” He plays a laugh track. “I am certainly not the only sinner with blood on their hands my dear!” He addresses me directly with a spark of humor in his eye.

“Hey, don’t lump me in with you, bastard! I was in the damn army, of course I f*ckin’ killed people. I didn’t do it for f*ckin’ sport!” Angel and Vaggie also offer similar sentiments but it just makes Alastor grin more.

“Pish posh! Reason or not you ended up here, didn’t you?” He makes eye contact with each person who admitted to killing someone. The game continues to go around, with questions getting more and more obscure.

“Never have I ever lied to a police officer.” Charlie stated at one point, leading every single other person to put a finger down. She squeaks.

“Really!”

“My dear Charlotte, you do realize you are in the company of sinners, correct? Personally, I preferred to bribe them, but a few were particularly uppity. A little dishonesty was required to take care of the problem!” I feel like I recognize bits and pieces of his background but am missing a large piece preventing me from figuring out his identity on earth. I just shake off the feeling and the game continues until it is just me and Alastor with fingers left up. He seems supremely smug at this situation and turns his full attention on me for his next statement.
“Just you and me, darling! I must say you are quite the pure maiden, aren’t you?” I scoff and tell him to just get on with it. “Very well, no need to be so impatient! Never have I ever lied about eating.” His voice drops slightly. I remain silent as I put down a finger. Leaving me with two fingers up and him with one. However, Alastor adjusts the background noise to a familiar tune, that makes my fingers start to tremble slightly. I can’t prevent the trembling, but I just take a deep breath before making my next statement.

“Never have I ever force fed someone weird pastry things.” I say with a spiteful caste to my voice. He pauses before chuckling and putting his remaining finger down.

“You’ve got me there, darling! One correction however, they are called beignets, my dear.” He suddenly stands and everyone else does the same, chatting occurs among the attendees until they all begin to disperse until the only remaining people are Alastor and Angel.

………….

Angel moves to leave the room but is stopped when a clawed hand forcefully grabs one of his arms. He whirls around to meet Alastor face to face.

“What tha’ f*ck smiles! Let go a’ me."

“You and I need to have a word.” He drags Angel behind him to the center of the room again, Angel trying to pull his arm away. Reaching the destination Alastor lets go and summons his microphone, placing it in his elbow.

“What tha’ hell ya’ want!” Angel crosses his four arms and looks at him angrily.

“I believe you know already, my effeminate fellow, but let me remind you!” He snaps and shadowy tentacles hold Angel in place, leaving Alastor to pace around dramatically. “You see my darling little human seems to be picking up some bad habits from you. Most egregiously, she has begun to address me distastefully much more often. I would normally craft a fine punishment for her, but my hands are currently tied with the little agreement. You however are not protected in exactly same way!” He faces Angel from a few feet away, eyes glowing in the dimming light of the lobby.

“What tha’ f*ck is wrong with ya’! Why do ya’ even care so much. What are ya’ tryin’ to f*ckin’ do ta’ her!” Angel struggles against the shadows to no avail. In the backlight his face appears to be all smile and a pair of glowing red eyes. He slowly approaches Angel and the scent of blood washes over him from Alastor’s breath. Eleanor was right, his breath is f*ckin’ rank! This ain’t f*ckin’ hot at all!

“You would like to know my intentions? Well, I believe they have been quite clear! I intend to make her my little wife, of course!” His smile reveals black gums and Angel feels his stomach twist.

“Theres no f*ckin’ way she’d ever agree ta’ that ya’ f*ckin creeper!” Alastor grabs his face, and the claws dig in ruthlessly and Angel flinches back glaring at him.

“You seem to be misunderstanding something, my effeminate fellow! I have already decided, her agreement is unnecessary. I simply need to break her down into making a deal with me and she will naturally fall into my grasp!”

“She’ll never make a f*ckin’ deal with ya’, especially if she knows what ya’ f*ckin’ want, and what tha’ hell did ya show her in tha’ f*ckin’ illusion bullsh*t ya’ pulled! She seemed f*ckin’ disturbed, more than after ya’ f*ckin’ maimed her damn arm!” Alastor grips Angels chin even tighter, breaking the skin further as droplets of blood fall to the floor.

“If she is so stubborn that would be truly unfortunate, I would be forced to resort to more… extreme methods of keeping her.” His narrowed eyes pierce through Angel as his voice comes out as a purr. I f*ckin’ knew it! She is in way more f*ckin’ danger than I thought…what f*ckin’ extreme methods is he referring to. “The illusion, hmm, I simply showed her a taste of what she can expect after I obtain her! It was a lovely little domestic scene if I do say so myself, though I missed the delicious look of fear in her eyes! It even gave me a few more ideas, myself!” He sighs heatedly and his eyes light up like a kid on Christmas. “Like what if she couldn’t walk on her own? Why, I could cripple her legs and have her be dependent upon me for movement! What a splendid idea!” His face grows intense, the smile growing as a deep blush covers his pale cheeks. Oh my f*ckin’ god… I don’t want to hear more about his twisted f*ckin’ fantasies! This is worse than workin’ the f*ckin’ corner.”

“Oh dear, I seem to be getting all worked up! Back to business, however. I would like you to call the mutt out along with my darling little human. If you refuse, I might forget the rules of this silly little joint and force my plans ahead. I would be more than happy to plan another tryst with my darling, the last one was… truly invigorating.” He shudders and his eyes briefly changing to radio dials as he recalls the flavor of her blood and her face as he force-fed her. He snaps his fingers and adjusts his monocle. The shadows drop Angel, who springs up and flips off Alastor.

“She ain’t yours ya’ f*ckin’ prick!” He shouts as he rushes off to get Cindy and Eleanor, afraid that if he doesn’t hurry Alastor will run out of patience.

………….

I had just changed into my nightgown and taken my hair down when Angel bursts into my room without even a knock. He rushes right over to me and grabs me by the shoulders. I try to make out the stream of words leaving his mouth and can see the small bits of blood drying on his chin.

“Ya’ need ta’ come ta tha’ lobby! Ya’ need ta’ come f*ckin fast! I need ta get Cindy too, don’t go ahead wait for me ta’ get Cindy!” He runs out and I trail into the hallway with fear seeping into my limbs. What the hell happened! Why is he hurt! He rushes out of Cindy’s room with the canine demoness in tow. He grabs us both by the arms and starts to lead us as fast as possible to the lobby. His eyes show single minded determination. I hurry along as fast as I can and shoot Cindy a look. She returns it with similar confusion. We reach the staircase, and he is practically skipping steps and I almost trip towards the end but am caught by a pair of thin, red covered arms.

“Be careful, darling~, we wouldn’t want you injuring yourself!” I tense as the radio laced toned speak directly into my ear. Forcing myself away from him, he surprisingly let’s go easily. Angel catches me and positions me behind him.

“What the hell is going on! Angel came in screaming like a bat out of hell!” Cindy shouts, grabbing Angel by the shoulder in a supportive way.

“Why, there was no reason to be so frantic, my effeminate fellow! You seem to have frightened the dog!” He chuckles and struts to the center of the lobby, motioning us to sit on a couch.

“Make yourselves comfortable, my friends! I have summoned you for a private show, hosted by yours truly!” He snaps his fingers and the surrounding shift and change. The couch morphs into a set of three theatre seats… with shadows pinning us in place. The lobby shifts into a stage and a legion of shadows fill the side wings, carrying instruments.

“What the hell!” I can’t help but shout at the disorienting changes, Angel seems nauseous at the sudden violent movements and Cindy is stock still.

“Now, it has come to my attention that you three believe that I will overlook blatant disrespect! Unfortunately for you, I will not!” His grin is deadly, eyes narrowed. “However, I have a little agreement to follow, so I had to be creative, and I do love when I can be creative! You see I cannot kill on property, and I cannot torture any of the guests…Physically.” He waves his microphone dramatically and places his other arm behind his back folded politely. A trio of terrified demons appear on stage, all bound in shadowy chains. My heart begins to pound as he continues his monologue. “Now these poor saps are not guests at the hotel, and we are not on hotel property! Can you tell me what that means, you lascivious harlot!” He holds the microphone in front of Angel’s face, but he just looks away. He strides along and stops in front of me, slowly turning his head to gaze down into my eyes. He brings a clawed hand to my cheek and caresses it softly with sharp fingertips, leaning down to whisper in my ear, the scent of blood hitting me full on.

“What about you darling~, can you tell me what that means? I know you aren’t stupid.” He taps the tip of my nose with a claw.

“They are not under the protection of the agreement…” I whisper almost inaudibly, but his ear twitches lightly brushing my hair due to the proximity. He shoots up while his hand lingers on my face.

“That’s right, my dear!” Clicking noises ring out as he climbs the steps back onto the stage. “These loathsome sinners are not protected by the inane hotel rules!” He motions to them with his microphone, almost hitting one in the head. Cindy and Angel make small gasps. “That makes these sacks of flesh the perfect examples, to give a little demonstration on why I am feared and what might happen if you persist!” He sidles up to one of them and runs a claw over their cheek, drawing blood. Bringing the claw tip to his mouth he tastes the crimson liquid. “How underwhelming…” He mutters. “Darling, I must say that nothing really compares to your delectable blood!” Shouting down towards me, I cringe as I remember him greedily licking my hand.
He removes his suit jacket and folds it delicately, placing it on my lap before hopping back onto the stage. The shadow band begins to play a catchy big band tune and he taps his foot to the rhythm. Pausing one more time, his head turns unnaturally to glance at us through the side of his eye.

“I would suggest keeping this little event between us! We wouldn’t want one of you ending up on the stage!” He plays a laugh track and makes the first motion, his clawed hand grasping the face of the one who was cut before. Screams ring out as he applies pressure, his fingertips digging in and drawing blood. He keeps squeezing, until the inevitable happens, spraying blood across all of us. Somehow not a single drop touches me, but I can tell my two friends are badly splattered. Alastor lets go of the, now limp, body and it slumps to the floor in a puddle of blood. He delicately steps over it and reaches the next victim. Appearing to think for a second, he settles on something and leans over them. Lifting their shirt with one hand he brings a claw from the other to the side of their stomach. Slowly he draws the claw across, effectively disemboweling the poor demon and sending their strange organs spilling onto the stage. He chuckles at the display before reaching into the incision, elbow deep, rooting around for something. He seems to find it relatively quickly and pulls harshly, his arm coming free with their heart. Bringing the still spasming organ to his face he takes a large bite, before dropping the rest to the floor.

“How distasteful… Bad meat.” He mutters at the still cooling corpse. Finally, he approaches the final demon, cutting their restraints with a smooth motion. They stumble as they attempt to run, but he trips them with a long leg sending them skidding across the stage. He lifts his foot and places it in the middle of their back. Lifting his head, posture perfectly poised, he makes eye contact with each of us in turn. Each time he makes eye contact with a different person he applies more pressure in is leg, effectively crushing the poor demon. Eventually his leg breaks through to the other side with a sickening pop. He shakes the already deceased demon off of his foot before taking a bow and silencing the shadow. His background music taking its place as they filter off.

"What a wonderful show! Why it was ab-so-lute-ly splendid to let loose with a captive audience!” He steps off the stage and approaches Cindy. He wipes his bloody claws on the fur of her face before striding in front of me and bending to look me in the eye. My face pale and trembling I avoid his eyes. He gently grabs my chin and faces me towards him again. I wait for him to speak but he remains silent, running his thumb over my bottom lip eyes glowing. His teeth part slightly revealing his red tongue behind the sharp yellow canines. Out of the corner of my eye I try to look at Angel who is also looking shell-shocked. This seems to break Alastor out of some sort of stupor, and he breaks away.

“Well, my friends, what a lovely evening! I am glad you decided to attend my little show, I will return you too your rooms.” He raises his fingers primed to snap. “And don’t forget that this stays between us.” He snaps and the next thing I know I am seated on my bed. My entire body begins to shake violently as I rush to the restroom to vomit. I can feel my brain reeling at the vile ‘show’ and I manage to make it halfway to my makeshift bed before collapsing on the cold floor.

Chapter 16: Sickness

Notes:

This is a very long chapter, and if I recall correctly, there will be a lot of long chapters past this point!

Trigger warnings at the end to avoid spoilers.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The following morning, I come too on the cold floor, my body aches and I am a bit lightheaded. Moving a hand to my forehead I realize that I am burning up. Ugh… Great, what a time to get sick…I shift my body, lifting myself to a seated position on the floor. My achy joints protesting as I move to rise completely. I manage to stand, but my body sways and I feel so warm that I know I can’t hide this level of sickness. I don’t want Alastor to know that I am weak right now…especially not after that f*cking horror show. Managing to stumble into the restroom I turn on the shower at the coldest temperature and climb in. The cold water feels fantastic on my feverish body. Eventually I realize that I have been standing there for way too long and I shut the water off with a sigh.

Climbing out of the cold embrace of the shower I towel off and put my nightgown back on. There is no way I can do anything else today and I am in no shape to be strict with myself. I slowly move my bedding back to the bed and collapse onto it, returning to a fitful sleep. Waking with a start, I can hear knocking on my door. I force myself to get up and shuffle over to the door. Opening it I spot Angel and Cindy; their eyes shoot open as they see my state.

“Holy sh*t toots, you ok!” He asks as I stumble forward. He catches me and darts his eyes around the hallway, before picking me up bridal style and bringing me back to my bed. Cindy follows and double checks the hallway before closing and locking the door. As I hit the soft bed I try to tell them that I’m fine.

“I-I’m fine…Don’t…don’t let him know…” My delirious words concern them more.

“There is no way you’re f*cking fine! You are sick as f*cking hell, the last time I saw you this sick I thought you would die!” Cindy rushes over and feels my forehead “Do you think that last night caused this?” she asks me concerned.

“Probably…probably stress and…and…I passed out on…the floor last night, I’ll be fine… just let me rest and…don’t tell him.” Angel pats my head.

“Theres no way well tell him, don’t worry toots, I gotta idea.” He pulls Cindy to the side, and they discuss something heatedly while I fade in and out of consciousness. I can feel Cindy sit on my bed next to me as Angel leaves the room.

“It’ll be ok Ellie; we will take care of you. We won’t let him know…Angel told me something about him that I know you aren’t in a state to hear, but I just want you to try to avoid him. He is dangerous, more than we thought….” She shudders with disgust and keeps glancing at the door. “Angel is getting you something to eat and a few ice packs. I want you to eat what he brings because you cannot possibly fast in this state.” I nod into the pillows as she strokes my back. “I don’t even know if there is medicine down here... demons don’t really get sick like humans do…” She puts her palm to her face. “This has all been so difficult for you, I’m sorry. Getting dropped into a new hostile environment, only to be immediately targeted. You’ve been attacked multiple times and yet all we can do is hold him off with words and agreements, but that doesn’t mean sh*t! He is too f*cking powerful…” I can hear her sniffling and I raise on of my leaden limbs to hold her shoulder. “And now you’re sick as f*ck and still trying to comfort me! I have never deserved such a good friend and yet you never abandoned me…thank you Eleanor… you mean the world to me.”

We share a few minutes in silence before the door creaks open, Angel scans the hallway before rushing in and shutting the door quickly, locking it. He takes a few deep breaths as if he ran here and ambles over to the bedside, handing Cindy a few things. She coaxes me to turn over and I do so. She places an icepack on my head and places a thermometer in my mouth. She takes a look over the food items that Angel managed to grab in a rush. There are crackers, some grilled chicken from a leftover dinner, a thermos of chicken broth, and a jug of water.

“Ok Ellie, Angel brought some food, I want you to try to eat as much as you can.” She hands me a few of the crackers as she looks at the thermometer. She shows it to Angel who holds a hand to his forehead in distress. “Your fever is 103, almost 104. You are going to be out of commission for a couple of days. I’m sorry, I know how much you hate being taken care of and coddled.” Angel makes a face as if remembering something distasteful.

“Its fine… I will just... rest.” I mutter as I finish the crackers. She moves on to give me the chicken.

“Can you eat it on your own? Do you need help?” My eyes rocket open, and I shake my head.

“No! No, I can eat on my own!” I grab the chicken with trembling hands, I don’t want to be fed ever again. I’m not a f*cking baby. Cindy has a pained expression and glances at Angel, who takes a seat in the armchair. She hands me the thermos and the warm chicken broth sooths my throat in between bites of chicken. A tense silence hangs over the room, as if everyone is listening for a familiar clicking and static. I finish off the food he brought, and Cindy pours a cup of water out of the jug and sets it on my nightstand.

“I want you to try to get some sleep, one of us will stay with you the whole time. We are going to switch back and forth to try to throw him off. Can we tell the others?”
I shake my head, “T-too many i-information leaks.” The other two make eye-contact before nodding.

“Ok, we won’t tell them, we will just say that you need some time alone for a few days. I’m sure they will understand. Especially Charlie. I think that the red bitch might also believe that due to the bullsh*t he pulled yesterday…” She trails off and I begin to slip back into sleep.

………….

The hotel is strangely quiet as a clicking is heard in the lobby, trailed by radio static and humming. He walks purposefully, searching the lobby. He doesn’t find what he is looking for, but instead Angel comes out of the kitchen at the wrong moment. He gasps and tries to back up, but it is too late.

“Fancy seeing you here my, effeminate fellow!” He strides up to Angel, who is obscuring something behind his back. “Raiding the kitchen, are we? That is not a very polite thing to do so close to a meal, you know.” He tilts his head with a crack. “Where might my darling little human be on this fine morning? Is she going to work in the library today?” His smile takes on an unidentifiable quality. Angel scoffs.

“No, she is taking a break for a few days. She said she needed time alone, might have somethin’ ta’ do with you being a prick.” Angel shrugs and tries to walk past him.

“Perhaps I shall pay her a visit! I am sure she would enjoy some company during her little sulking session.” Angel panics internally, but suddenly realizes that he is poking around for information.

“Whatever, I doubt she’d be happy ta’ see ya’. She seemed pretty shaken up about your f*ckin’ demonstration. If ya’ want her ta’ take ya’ damn deal maybe ya should back tha’ f*ck off and let her get a moment of f*ckin’ peace.” Alastor raises an eyebrow.

“Is that supposed to be advice? You were so up in arms the other evening that I am honestly a bit suspicious of your intentions, my good man!” He swings his microphone up to Angel’s shoulder and pokes it. “Maybe you are hiding something…” His eyes narrow, thin smile growing.

“Fine, ya’ so damn persistent!” Quick need to lie, f*ck! “She snuck out last night with ya’ illusion ring. We don’t know where she is.” Alastor’s eyes widen and he seems offput.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner, my good man, this is of the utmost importance! I cannot let my little canary fly from the cage so easily!” He purposefully turns on his heel and leaves out the front doors rapidly.

“f*ck, f*ck, f*ck!” Angel bites his thumb nervously and rushes back up to Eleanor’s room.

………….

When I come to again, I can see Angel telling Cindy something in a panic. My bleary eyes make out that he brought another ice pack, and I am relieved because my current one is almost completely melted. The voices never rise above a heated whisper, and it seems like something bad happened. I can feel my brain sending alarm bells, I shift, catching both of their attention.

“W-what happened?” I mumble.

“We got an issue with Smiles. He was gonna try to pester you today and I had to lie even more. I said you left tha’ hotel yesterday and he’s searchin’ for ya’ right now…” He looks away guilty.

“I seriously think ya’ need ta’ know somethin’ but you are in no state ta’ hear it toots. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing ya’ didn’t actually run away…” He scratches his head and avoids eye contact. Sighing I lay back down.

“I-It’s not your fault Angel, you lied to assist me, I just hope he doesn’t get mad at you…” He wrings his hands and places the new icepack on my forehead, placing his hands on the bedside.

“Ya’ should head back ta’ sleep toots. Be wary, we might not be able ta’ hold him off foreva’, be prepared for his stupid face to show up… I’m sorry we can’t do more than delay him…” I pat his hand and reassure him.

“I don’t blame you; you’ve done what you can Angel. You too Cindy, thank you both for helping me so much, I don’t know what I can do to repay you both…” They just pull my covers back up to my chin and tell me to get some sleep. The atmosphere falls into tense silence as I nod off to sleep.

………….

Cindy makes her way into the storage room, searching for more blankets. As she sifts through the piles of bed linens a sudden sound of static makes her jump in surprise. Her eyes dart around looking for the source, but instead of Alastor, she sees an old radio. The radio switched itself on and through it are sounds of ripping and tearing accompanied by playful jazz. Her face grows distorted, but she can’t bring herself to pull away. Suddenly the squelching noises end and a smooth transatlantic voice filter through.

“Good evening my dear listeners! I do hope you are enjoying the broadcast, and lucky for you, it could continue for much longer! Like most special broadcasts I have a purpose. You see, I am searching for an individual who is quite dear to me. It has come to my attention that they believed they could escape my grasp and hide amongst the masses of you loathsome sinners!” Cindy scrambles back, bumping into a table.

“I am offering you all a fair shake, however! If one of you lovely sinners manage to find the sheba, then I will end my special broadcast! I shall continue until the dame is located, and who knows, I might make a few visits to the residential streets if I get impatient!” There is a sound of more tearing and a few screams. “If any of you fine fellows find her, just tell your trusty radio and I will be right there! However, if it is a false report, I will have to enact punishment on the timewaster, so, do have fun searching, and good luck to you all!”

Cindy’s face grows pale, and she rushes out of the storage room, the sounds of screams jazz and gore muffled. Running up to the room she bursts through the door, startling Angel, thankfully, Eleanor doesn’t stir.

“Angel, Alastor is enacting a city-wide search for her!” Angel jumps up.

“What! How tha’ hell is he doin’ that!”

“He is making a f*cking broadcast right now and threatened that unless someone turns her in, he will continue. He even threatened the residential districts!” Angel starts to pace around.

“What tha’ hell do we do?! We can’t just rat her out ta’ stop this!” Cindy chews her lip and nods. A meek voice joins the tense conversation.

………….

“Just…just f*cking tell him I am here…I don’t blame either of you for his…psychotic behavior.” They whirl around to see my tired form propped on my elbows, eyes half-lidded. “I don’t want him to keep killing people.” Sighing I just let myself collapse onto the bed and turn over onto my stomach.

“But-” Cindy starts.

“Just do it.” Nestling my head back into the pillow I can hear them whispering something about him, but I just tune it out. Unable to fall asleep right away this time I imagine what I would be doing if I was at home. I would probably be reading a new book, or maybe sorting through my library! That would be fun. I could head up to the local park and read in the sun, with a blue sky instead of this red one…I wouldn’t have to worry about death at every turn… My thoughts trail off as I slip into slumber once more.

………….

“I’ll do it. I was tha’ one ta’ lie ta’ him, I should be tha’ one ta’ take tha’ brunt of his anger. Plus, he would probably find some way to screw ya’ over, seeing as he hates your guts for some reason!” Cindy tries to argue back but Angel just holds up a hand and storms out of the room. He bumps into Vaggie on the way and she stops him.

“What the f*ck Angel, why are you running like that!”

“There is an urgent f*ckin’ issue. I need ta’ get ta’ tha’ storage room, now.” He forces his way past her and her words cut off.

“An urgent issue-“ She decides to follow after him to the storage. Upon the door opening, they are greeted with the unique noises that signify a special broadcast. Vaggie’s eyes shoot open.

“Alaster you f*ckin’ sh*tlord! What the hell are you doing!” Angel ignores her and stride up to the radio.

“Get your f*ckin’ ass back here smiles. Eleanor never f*ckin’ left, she just didn’t want ta’ see ya’ and I lied.” A shadow seeps out of the radio and rushes rapidly through the door and out towards its master. Vaggie seems confused.

“Angel you are going to tell me what is going on. Now.”

“Eleanor is sick as f*ck and wanted us to keep smiles away. He ran into me when I was leaving tha’ kitchen and he wouldn’t take no for a f*ckin’ answer, so I said that she left tha’ hotel. She didn’t but I couldn’t think of anything else ta’ keep him away!” With her head in her hands, Vaggie sighs.

“f*ck…So he is making a broadcast to let off steam?”

“No. He is enacting a full f*ckin’ city wide search, using his massacres as a f*ckin’ threat. I told Eleanor what he was f*ckin’ doin’ and she just said to tell him she never left…”

“Ugh… His bullsh*t is getting so annoying!” Suddenly the sounds of gore cease on the radio and his voice filters through again.

“Good new my dear listeners! It appears the dame has been found, how lucky for you lot! I do hope you enjoyed this magnificent broadcast as much as I have, until next time I bid you adieu!” The radio powers down and the room is bathed in silence. The shadows morph around the radio and Alastor comes striding out of them, completely coated in blood and viscera. The thick scent of gore pervades the room, as he completely ignores the two demons in front of him.

“Alastor what the f*ck are-“ He waves a hand, silencing the demoness. He briefly turns his narrowed eyes onto Angel.

“You are playing with fire, my effeminate fellow! Let us hope you don’t end up getting burned.” He continues past him, trailing blood into the lobby and the subsequent hallway. The two demons follow him, and he heads directly to Eleanors room. As he reaches it Vaggie pushes herself in front of him blocking the door. Her words still silenced; she just glares at him.

“Why don’t you move out of the way, my dear. I am simply paying our darling human a little visit!” Angel is the next one to speak.

“She doesn’t want ta’ see ya’ smiles.” Alastor merely glances at him out of the side of his eyes.

“That just makes me want to visit the dame more!” He moves to push Vaggie out of the way with his microphone. She resists but is pushed to the side. Alastor begins to open the door when Angel finally snaps.

“Fine! She is f*ckin’ sick! She isn’t in the state to deal with your f*ckin’ bullsh*t!” As Angels words ring out Alastor finally stops in his tracks. He rigidly turns to the spider, static rising violently and his eyes resembling radio dials.

“You vile harlot! You hid my darling human’s illness from me?” There is a creaking and snapping sound from his antlers as they grow, his stature doubling in size. Vaggie is panicking but Angel holds his ground despite shaking slightly.

“She told me ta’ do it. She said, and I quote, ‘Don’t let him know.’ And ‘Don’t tell him.’ I just followed what she requested, smiles.” Alastor seems to calm slightly and reverts to his normal form.

“You had better watch yourself. I will not be so forgiving next time.” He straightens his impeccable suit and adjusts his monocle, staining it with blood form his still soaked form. He opens the door in a much quieter manner than he would have before. Eleanor is on the bed, fast asleep, her back gently rising and falling. Cindy is sitting in the armchair glaring at the new arrival in disgust. Alastor freezes in the doorway, staring at her peaceful sleeping face, flush with fever. Her black hair delicately wreaths her face and trails off across the pillows. Vaggie rushes in past him and approaches Cindy. She finds that she can finally speak again.

“Is she ok? I heard that she was sick, what’s her temperature?” Cindy glances at the still figure in the doorway before answering.

“She is struggling. There is no fever medication that I know about in hell, her fever started around 103.5 but I haven’t rechecked it yet due to the…commotion…” She scowls at Alastor, who finally moves. He strides in directly to Eleanors side, causing all three of the others to become defensive. He doesn’t respond and pushes them away like annoyances. He reaches her bed and sits down next to her, blood soaking into her sheets.

………….

I can feel a hand begin to rub my back, leaving a cool sensation behind as if their hand was wet. Stirring in confusion my senses are assaulted with the cloying odor of blood. My heart begins to race as I awaken with a fright. My eyes trail down the bed to find Alastor, coated in blood, sitting next to me with a clawed hand on my back, keeping me prone as I try to get up. My delirious brain panicking and adrenaline rushes through my veins. My eyes glued to his face in fear, I can hear the voices of Cindy and Angel yelling at him. I can also hear Vaggie admonishing him, but he doesn’t seem to hear any of what they are saying. Suddenly he turns to Cindy.

“The thermometer, mongrel.” He holds out a hand to her as if expecting her to just hand it over.

“There is no way I am letting you take her temperature you freak!” He raises an eyebrow and co*cks his head, my form frozen in fear as the razor-sharp tips of his fingers ghost across my back. He sighs, snapping the fingers of his other hand, producing the thermometer from Cindy’s clutches. She makes a frustrated noise as Alastor turns his attention back to me, applying slightly more pressure on my back.

I am going to take your temperature, so be good and open your mouth, darling~” I turn my head and sink my face into the pillows, the stifled breathing worth it. I can feel him chuckle and reach a hand into my hair, combing his fingers through it and working blood into my tresses, before gripping it tightly. “My dear, you are making this so difficult for yourself! If you don’t comply, I will be left with no choice but to force your mouth open again…” He releases my hair and gives me another chance. I turn my head, frustrated, and let him take my temperature. He places the back of a hand on my forehead, leaving a bloody streak, as the thermometer is registering. “You are quite warm, darling~,” He pulls the thermometer out of my mouth and checks the reading. “Hmm, 104, it seems your temperature has gone up, my dear! You might need a bit more care than these,” His eyes scan around at the gathered group disdainfully, “individuals, can provide! I would be more than willing to care for our sick little human.”

“No f*ckin’ way! I don’t f*ckin’ trust ya’!” Angel shoots his suggestion down.

“Now way in hell!” Cindy screams. My heart is beating so fast that I think it might beat out of my chest.

“My friends! You would risk our darling little human’s life because you dislike me? How low…” He brings a hand to my face, stroking my cheek with his thumb, leaving a streak of red. Vaggie takes a deep breath, before making a serious face.

“And how exactly could you help.” Everyone save Alastor is surprised at her statement.

“Why, I’m glad you asked, my dear! I would be willing to dedicate my resources to caring for this little dame until she returns to the picture of health!” I manage to wrap my head around his words, and I can see Vaggie thinking.

“I-I would r-rather f*cking die…” I manage to mutter, and a record scratch rings out. He co*cks his head, and I can feel his fingers tense, slightly scratching the skin on my back through the thin material of my nightgown.

“Now, I’m sure you don’t mean that, darling!” He leans in close to my ear, hair tickling my face uncomfortably. “After all, we wouldn’t want anything untoward to happen to any of your little friends…” He hisses the words and a chill runs through me, I can tell I am the only one who heard them. His fingers begin to stroke my back once more, the feeling sending danger signals through me.

“Hey she said she doesn’t want you to help her so buzz off.” Cindy snaps at him.

“F-fine…but I want to go to the lobby…” The three seem surprised at my sudden turnaround.

“What? You are going to let him take care of you? What the hell did he say to you!” I shoot Cindy a look that tells her to shut her mouth.

“I-I want there to be another person t-there at all times…otherwise f*ck off.” He seems to ponder my offer with a finger to his chin, the blood is beginning to dry.

“Hmm…Ok!” He perks up and snaps his fingers, the room shift and morphs into the lobby, the bed underneath me replaced by a couch. Vaggie is the only one who got teleported with us. My body locks up in slight shock as I take in the new surroundings. Alastor is standing above me at his full height, I feel so small… Vaggie prevents him from doing anything else.

“Wait! You need to get rid of the f*cking blood!” Alastor seems surprised for a moment before glancing down at his appearance and the bloody streak he left on my face and nightgown.

“Oh, how rude of me! I completely forgot the state of my dress!” He snaps and the blood disappears into a shadowy mist, including the blood from me. “Much better! I do apologize for my dreadful appearance, my dear!” He straightens out his suit and adjusts his monocle. “Now, lets get down to brass tacks!” He snaps his fingers summoning a shadow that looks like a mirror of him, grin, and all. “My good man, I want you to retrieve Dr. Barlowe!” The shadow rushes off, disappearing in a streak. He motions for Vaggie to sit in a nearby armchair and I can hear Angel and Cindy coming down the stairs in a huff. They sit in the other couches and are watching Alastor like a hawk. I assume a proper seated position, fighting away the lightheadedness.

“My dear, you should be lying down,” He strides over to me, leering down at me through narrowed eyes. He grabs my shoulders and forces me to recline again, pulling a blanket over me. The blanket feels like it weighs a hundred pounds, and it prevents me from rising again. I glare at him, but he ignores it. He snaps and summons another icepack and places it on my forehead, brushing my hair behind my ears. He finally summons a wooden chair at the head of the couch and sits himself down, running his hand through my hair, causing me to recoil in disgust. He chuckles.

“What the f*ck do you want Alastor!” We hear as a short lizard like demon appears in the center of the lobby, being circled by Alastor’s shadow. Alastor rises and greets the newcomer.

“Good evening to you too, my friend! I am in need of a professional opinion Dr. Barlowe, and I just knew that you were the one to call on!” He forces an arm over their shoulder, herding them to the couch I am on. “I trust that you have good common sense as well to keep the nature of the patient secret. Such discretion is in our deal after all…” His voice drops to a dangerous tone. The dr. nods her head rapidly and her eyes widen slightly as Alastor whispers one more thing to her. She hastily nods and arrives next to me. Looking me over she seems nervous. Alastor looms over the pair of us, monitoring the whole time.

“H-hello miss, I am Doctor Barlowe, I was called because you seem to be a bit under the weather. What are your symptoms?” Looking her in the eye, I sigh and list my symptoms.

“I-I have a fever of 104, achy joints, l-lightheadedness and weakness in my muscles.” She nods and pulls out a thermometer to re-check my temperature but is stopped by Alastor.

“I took her temperature personally, Dr Barlowe, I feel it is unnecessary to take it again.” His smile lifts at the corners. Dr. Barlowe shudders and quickly puts away the thermometer.

“Of course, m-moving on, do you think that anything in particular brought this on miss?” She addresses me again with a shaky gaze.

“Y-yes, I assume it is a mixture of things. I have been under a lot of stress,” I eye Alastor, she follows my gaze and nods slightly, “and I had quite the scare last night.” She glances at Alastor, and I nod. “I couldn’t make it to my bed and ended up sleeping on the floor.”

“My dear! You take such poor care of yourself; you really do need my help, so it seems!” I glare in his direction as the doctor continues to ask the normal questions.

“Mr. Alastor you might want to step away for these next few questions…” The doctor asks meekly.

“No need, my dear! I plan to stay the entire time to ensure nothing untoward happens to our darling little human!” I know exactly what is coming so I shift uncomfortably. The doctor looks me in the eye with an apologetic look.

“Um… miss… are you sexually active and is there any chance you could be pregnant?” record scratching echoes off the walls of the lobby and his face is frozen. Both me and the doctor refuse to look towards him. I can hear giggling from the direction of my friends.

“No, and no.”

“When was the final day of your last menstrual cycle miss?”

“I do not remember; I do not track it.” The doctor takes some notes, and I can see Alastor’s face has a deep blush across it and he is still frozen. He suddenly coughs and recollects himself.

“Are such obscene questions really necessary Dr. Barlowe.” He seems absolutely scandalized. The doctor shrugged.

“This is a medical checkup; I must make sure there are no other underlying issues. I gave you a chance to remove yourself, but you chose to remain.” His smile is closed lipped, but he doesn’t push the issue.

“Do you have any preexisting conditions miss?” Alastor’s ears perk up.

“Yes. I am prone to fainting spells and migraines.” I lower my voice to barely a whisper. “I um… also have a history of hypoglycemia and malnutrition…”

“I see miss.” She writes down a few more notes. Refusing to look at Alastor he seems to radiate smugness.

“It seems that I was right, sweetheart~” He purrs into my ear, and I wrench my head away. The doctor seems surprisingly nervous suddenly as she turns a page in her notes.

“Alright m-miss I am going to need to take a small blood sample…to run some tests…” I can immediately tell something is off. I probably just have the flu or a cold. I know they don’t need to take blood.

“No thank you Doctor. I will just take your diagnosis based upon cursory information; I am certain a blood test is unnecessary.” Making my voice as stern and steady as possible.

“Darling~ It is not polite to argue with the medical professional! She is only trying to help you.” His gaze turns to the doctor who seems uncomfortable.

“No. I have been to doctors before, and I am not an idiot. She doesn’t need to take blood.” Firmly holding my ground, I turn to face Vaggie, who gets up and comes over.

“You don’t need to take blood. I haven’t been dead long enough to forget what is normal at a doctor’s appointment.” She glares, not at the doctor, but at Alastor. Dr. Barlowe looks panicked and keeps glancing at Alastor.

“Such hostility my dear! Oh well... It was worth a try!” Laugh track. “Continue with your little examination Dr. Barlowe.” She seems to be relieved and Vaggie scowls at him.

“Ok, miss, I believe that this is simply a case of the flu. It is pretty easy to treat. The fever medication formulated for demons should work but you need to cut the dosage to about one fourth of what it recommends otherwise it will cause extreme drowsiness. You should rest and make sure to drink plenty of water. This will probably last anywhere from a couple of days to a week, so, if you are working, I would suggest taking time off. I would also recommend keeping stress to a minimum, but…” She looks to the radio demon smiling menacingly. “That might be impossible.” She is about to hand me the medication that she prescribed, but Alastor snatches it out of her hand and drags her away from me forcefully.

“Thank you kindly, my good Dr. You will find a suitable fee wired into your bank account, taking into account your secrecy, of course!” She nods and begins to speak but is unceremoniously whisked away in the shadows. He straightens and strides back over to me.

“Now, darling~, it seems you are stuck with me until your fever drops! I will be ab-so-lute-ly certain to take good care of you!” He reads the package information while adjusting his monocle and heading to the kitchen. I groan and Angel and Cindy amble over, Vaggie just seems tired.

“He’s such an asshole!” Cindy grumbles, sitting down in the chair next to me. Angel is still snickering.

“Did ya’ see his reaction ta’ tha’ sex questions! It was f*ckin’ hilarious!” He sits down at the end of the couch by my feet. “I’m glad ya’ gonna be ok toots…but he really tried to get blood from ya’ in a shady f*ckin’ way!” Groaning I turn over into the back of the couch trying to forget that. Cindy continues to grumble about the injustices of this situation when Alastor strides out from the kitchen. He surveys the friends crowding around me and sighs.

“It doesn’t take long for the rabble to attach themselves to you, does it?” He snaps and they are sent back to their previous seating arrangements shouting obscenities. “Alright, my dear! Here is your medication and a glass of water.” He hands me the glass and a pill. I hesitate for a second but decide to just take it. I down the pill and take a large sip of the water. His eyes watching me expectantly. “Now, why don’t you settle back down, darling, I shall read to you while you rest.” I feel surprisingly excited to have him read me a book, even though I hate him, I must admit his voice is good for radio. He has the perfect face for radio too…I giggle at my own joke in my head. Laying back down I settle into the couch, and he sits in the chair by my head, thankfully not touching me. He begins to read from a lovely book of poetry that I am sure I have read before. When I am suddenly hit by an intense wave of exhaustion. I rapidly fall into a deep sleep.

After an unknown amount of time, I can feel myself being gently shaken awake. My eyes flutter open, my body feels like lead, but my fever seems to have dropped a bit. Alastor is stooped over me, and I start in confusion for a second, before remembering why he is there.

“Darling~ I do hate to wake you, but it is time for your next dosage!” He manages to be dramatic in a whisper as well. He hands me another pill and glass of water. I promptly take them and then fall back into slumber, ignoring his hand on my head. The next time I wake up I take a look around me to see it is the middle of the night and Angel is asleep in an armchair. I can see a pair of glowing red eyes piercing through me and my heart stops. Has he been watching me sleep? I try to push myself up, but my leaden limbs don’t allow me to.

“My dear~” his voice purrs. “You are just in time for your next dose!” He rises and retrieves the medicine. Something is wrong… Why am, I so tired? I can’t even think straight… He emerges from the kitchen with another glass of water and a full pill. “Here you go, darling.” He hands me the pill and I stare at it for a moment, my body threatening to fall asleep at any moment.

“What is the normal dosage? Is this really one fourth of it?” He chuckles as I quietly ask the question.

“Oh? You don’t trust me my dear? You wound me!” He slinks over to me, cupping the bottom of my hand. “It is important for you to take your medicine.” purring in my ear he starts to lift my hand to my mouth. I force my hand back down and he lets go with a sigh.

“You really are a clever little dame, aren’t you?” He delicately takes the pill from my still open palm and places a hand on my shoulder. It doesn’t take much pressure for him to push me back into a prone position on the couch. I try to make a sound, but my voice doesn’t come out, and I realize he has silenced me. He straddles me with one foot on the ground and one knee planted on the couch, his large stature dwarfing me. “Darling, you are going to wish you listened to me the first time…” He forces my jaw open and pushes the pill down my throat. I gag slightly as his fingers brush against my soft palette. Retracting his hand, he keeps my mouth shut until he sees me swallow the pill. “Now, onto business, my dear.” My heavy eyelids are struggling to stay open, but I force them to obey. Snapping he produces a thin butterfly needle attached to a clear plastic bag by a tube and I know exactly what he plans to do.

“You’re lucky I studied anatomy for my hobby, dear, but I think you would have been more comfortable with the doctor doing this~” He grabs my arm and pushes the sleeve of my nightgown up slowly, revealing the inside of my elbow, the skin pale and delicate. He seems to pause, thinking for a moment before continuing to push the sleeve up until the bandaged portion of my arm is visible. “I have held my curiosity till now, darling, but I just need to see my handiwork!” Placing the needle to the side, on the back of the couch, he delicately begins to undo my bandages. As they are removed it slowly reveals the vestiges of a hand shaped bruise and five large puncture marks at the tip of each finger. His breath hitches in awe as he slowly brings his hand up to the wounds, placing it to fit the hand shaped bruise. I flinch as he applies a bit of pressure to the tender area and my mind flashes back to his vice like grip. “I didn’t know I left such a lovely bruise, my dear, I wish I had managed to see it when it was fresh! That would have been hotsy-totsy! I forget how delicate you are, sweetheart~” He pinches my cheek lightly. Beginning to rewrap the wound, his fingers linger over it. Disgust runs through me at his behavior.

“Well, let us continue with my little project!” He brings the needle to my skin and positions it perfectly but pauses. Looking up he finds my eyes and his grin grows, detecting the fear. He slowly pushes the needle into my vein and a small pain shoots up my arm. My blood begins to flow through the tube into the bag, causing him to make a pleased noise. My stomach twists as I can see two other needle marks in the crook of my arm. He sees my discovery and his grin grows revealing black gums.

“Your blood is truly addicting, sweetheart, I just couldn’t help myself!” What the f*ck, how much blood is he planning on taking! How did he manage to take blood when there were others in the room? My mind begins to wander when I realize I can do nothing. I look over to where Angel is sleeping, hoping he wakes up. Feeling a hand on my chin, I am forced to look back into his eyes. “Darling~ I would suggest you keep your eyes on me, unless you want me to give you a reason to.” I shake my head trying to prevent whatever he is planning. The blood bag is only about halfway filled. He chuckles darkly as the drowsiness begins to hit me hard. “Oh? Getting sleepy, are we dear? I guess those pills are doing their job well!” He lays a palm on my forehead, pushing my head down into the pillow gently. “There we go…Let the sleep take you~” I try to fight my eyelids, but they are getting heavier by the second. I can feel his weight shift slightly as he leans further towards me. “Good girl~” He whispers as my eyelids finally win. I can hear him mutter one more thing, but it gets lost as I fade into a deep slumber.

………….

“Perhaps, I should invest in some sedatives? That would be truly thrilling!” Alastor mutters as Eleanor fades into sleep. He keeps his eyes on her face taking in her features and with one hand absently brushes his hand over her bandaged arm as a deep blush crosses his features. The blood bag finally fills to the marker, and he slowly removes the needle from her arm. A small quantity of blood beads on the puncture site. Debating what to do he stares fixedly at the small droplet. Slowly he lifts her arm to his mouth and licks the blood directly off her soft skin. He lingers for a bit longer but eventually re-places her arm gently at her side and lowers the sleeve of her nightgown, obscuring the puncture sites. Sighing, he disengages from the couch, delicately picking up the blood bag and inspecting the lovely crimson liquid that radiates warmth through his hands. Snapping his fingers, it gets whisked away to who knows where, as a set of footsteps are heard. He pulls the blanket back over her form and does a once over of the area, ensuring no sign of what occurred remains. Feeling confident he turns to greet the newcomer. Husk ambles over and scans his eyes over the scene. Alastor raises an eyebrow.

“What were you doin’? I heard you talking.”

“Why, I was just giving our dear little human her next dosage of medication!” Alastor gestures to the fast-asleep woman. Husk furrows his brows, looking over at Eleanor whose face is contorted as if having a nightmare.

“Sure… I don’t f*cking trust you…What the hell are you trying to gain from her you bastard. If you were only entertained you would have moved on by now, or f*cking killed her… You always want something, so what is it!” His hands clench as he stares the taller man down.

“Husker my good man? Is it really that difficult to understand? Why, just the other day the lascivious spider asked me the same question!” Husk glances over at Angel, who is fast asleep despite the commotion.

“And how did you f*cking answer! Stop beating around the f*cking bush.” He growls causing Alastor to chuckle and narrow his eyes.

“Why, isn’t it obvious! I plan to make the dame my little wife!” Husk huffs in disbelief.

“What? You think that I am gonna’ believe that!” He bristles.

“You wound me! I would not lie about a manner of such importance, my friend!” His eyes frag across the sleeping Eleanor and Husk seems at a loss and flounders for a moment.

“But…why? You have lived for what? A hundred years? You chose now to get a little f*cking crush on someone!” Alastor’s grin twitches and his eyes widen slightly.

“First off, my good man, you have gotten my age wrong. I was born in 1908 and I died at 31 and I haven’t aged a day since! However more importantly are you asking me why I have designs on such a lovely little dame?” He looks at Eleanor thoughtfully as if he never thought of that question, before turning on his heel back to Husk. “Why it is simple my friend! I find her every action ab-so-lute-ly invigorating! She is quite a clever little thing, why I haven’t had someone defeat me at chess in decades! Her blood is also the most divine I have ever tasted, why it almost makes me lose my self-control every time I think about it!” He shudders in remembered bliss as Husk’s face grows more horrified. Alastor continues.

“Her appearance is also most enchanting, I must say. Pale skin that perfectly contrasts the little love marks I make, especially the one on her arm, I hadn’t realized I made such a beautiful bruise! Eyes that reflect every single iota of fear and indignance that I cause in her weak frame. It all just makes me want to lock her away and make her dependent on me for every little thing she does, ensuring that no other loathsome sinner even sets eyes on her delicate form! Why I can just picture it!” His eyes become slightly cloudy, and a soft blush dusts his cheeks, as Husks face contorts, finally registering the words he just heard. Taking a step back in horror he sends a concerned glance at Eleanor.

“Dude… What the f*ck is wrong with you! There is no damn way that she would agree to your twisted f*cking fantasies!” He seems disgusted with the man in front of him.

“Oh? I am already aware my good man! However, I do not care. The only choice she has in the matter is how she will fall into my grasp! There is the easy way where she agrees to a deal, and the hard way where I am forced to take more,” He grabs a handful of Eleanors hair in a tight grip, “forceful actions!” Letting go of her dark tresses the strands of hair stream through his fingers. Husk’s brow furrows in rage as he stomps over to Alastor, placing himself between the smiling demon and the defenseless sleeper.

“Does she f*cking know what you’re planning, you freak! I thought you were only a violent prick, but I guess you’re a f*cking pervert too!” Alastor’s smile simply grows directly in Husks face, and he adjusts his monocle. The scent of unsettlingly fresh blood pervades Husks sensitive nose, and he prickles.

“Husker, my ossified fellow, I would suggest not pushing your luck.” Placing a clawed hand on Husk’s shoulder, he pushes him to the side in a swift motion. He takes a seat on the chair near Eleanors head and begins to comb his fingers through her hair. “Of course, my darling little human does not know! I am aware of how dense they are about affairs of the heart!” He places a hand over his own in a theatrical gesture. “Even if every last sinner in this hotel told her my intentions, she wouldn’t believe it unless it came out of my mouth! I simply wish to wait for the curiosity to get the better of her, the uncertainty will force her to confront me at some point and I am certain that her reaction will be so entertaining!” Husk growls but Alastor hold up a hand. “You wouldn’t want to wake the poor gal, would you?” He pinches her cheek lightly and no reaction occurs. Husk furrows his brow, suddenly concerned.

“Hey, why the hell hasn’t she moved once this whole time I have been here, not even a twitch. She looks more unconscious than asleep!” His rage spiking again as he sends an accusatory glare at the man in red.

“Oh? You are concerned about my darling’s health? You have no need to worry my friend! Merely a little extra medication, nothing that will hurt the dame!” Husk seems unconvinced.

“Extra medicine? How much extra!” Alastor chuckles coldly.

“Only four times the doctors recommended dose!” Husk balks. “But worry not my friend! The only side effect of such a high dose is extreme drowsiness, perfect for keeping her compliant while I care for the sick little dame!”

“f*cking great… now you’re drugging her! I need a f*cking drink…” He holds a paw-like hand to his forehead.

“As much as I have enjoyed our bull session, my good man, I need to get the little lady some new ice!” Pausing for a second Husk seems dumbstruck as Alastor dusts off his suit and rises from the chair, placing his arms folded behind his back.

“You are not just going to end this f*cking conversation you bastard!” Husk sidles back over to Alastor, eyes positively threatening.

“Oh? I do think that I indeed am!” Snapping his fingers, Husk is sent back to the bar and is unable to leave for the rest of the night.

Notes:

Trigger warning, drugging, blood.

Chapter 17: Confession

Notes:

Trigger warning, violence

Chapter Text

I eventually stir from my deep slumber and am met with Cindy on guard duty. She gives me a weak smile, before I sense Alastor to my side. His grin absolutely drenched in satisfaction I groan and recall his trick with the dosages. Forcing myself to sit up I glare at him accusatorily.

“Good morning, my dear! You were certainly out cold, why, no-one could wake you for your next dosage!” He waves a hand over the table, pointing out a glass of water and another pill. My head fuzzy I scowl and wave for Cindy to come here. With a hand to my head, my voice cracks slightly from sleeping so long.

“Cindy. I want you to check the package for the dosage of this medicine.” Her eyes shoot open as she turns to glare at Alastor.

“What in the hell is wrong with you!” She begins to stomp off to the kitchen to check the package, but Alastor snaps and produces the box into his hand, forcing her to walk all the way back from the door. She snatches it out of his hand and huffs at him. She looks it over and she begins to tremble in rage. “You bastard, you have been giving her way too much! She is supposed to be taking a fourth of the normal dose, not the full dose you idiot!” She slams the container on the table as Alastor just chuckles and shrugs, his smile absolutely mocking her.

“Oh! My mistake, mutt, it seems that I have erred! The text was simply so small that with my poor vision that I must have misread it!” He adjusts his monocle and shoots a smug look down his nose at her.

“That is f*cking bullsh*t! I know you did it on purpose you smiley bastard. If you did anything while she was knocked out, I am going to kill you myself!” He lifts an eyebrow.

“Oh? And how do you plan on doing that, you pro-skirt.” The temperature drops and small symbols surround him, sending fight or flight signals to everyone in the lobby, even the passed-out Husk seems uncomfortable. Her ears pin to the back of her head as she snarls.

“I don’t know what the f*ck that means but I can tell it is an insult you bastard! What the hell is your problem! You are nothing but a sick freak!” He narrows his eyes coldly staring at her.

“It means you are a woman of loose morals, a prostitute, a disgusting mongrel attaching yourself to someone who you shouldn’t. I would suggest watching your tongue, mutt, else I decide to remove it for you.” His smile is thin and stretching the confines of his face menacingly, I can hear the tell-tale creaking of his antlers and I jump up to intervene, my body feeling much better, despite only resting for a day and a half. Guess taking too much medication helped something, I don’t want to f*cking think about what he is doing with my blood. Both demons snap their head in my direction at the same time.

“Stop fighting in the damn lobby. Alastor why don’t you just f*ck off, I think my fever has dropped enough. Cindy, you come with me, I am going to my room.” Cindy immediately rushes to my side, still scowling at Alastor, who seems to calm down a bit.

“My dear, you are not completely recovered. Why, it has only been a day! You don’t seriously think I will let you make yourself worse.” His head co*cks to the side with a snap.

“The only thing making me worse at this point is probably blood loss, you knockoff vampire!” My voice raises involuntarily. “How much did you f*cking take anyway!” Cindy grabs me by the shoulder protectively, looking at me concerned, as I lift the sleeve of my nightshirt showing her the three puncture marks. Her face contorts back into rage, and she resumes glaring at him.

“Come now, darling! No need to be so upset, I merely took about a pint and a half! I was intending to take three, but you are such a frail little thing that I was worried you would go into shock, my dear!” My face contorts into a grimace, and I back up involuntarily.

“Why the hell did you take her blood at all!” Cindy shrieks and even I flinch away at the sound.

“Your voice is quite shrill, mutt. I took her blood because it is ab-so-lute-ly delectable! I’ve found it goes great in my java!” I gag in disgust, and Cindy looks horrified. He grins and strides towards us as we stand there frozen. He circles up from behind us and lays an arm on each of our shoulders. “You see, I am quite the connoisseur of the finer things in life, and this little darling has the finest blood in all of hell!” He suddenly pushes Cindy to the side, launching her into the wall and he uses a leg to knock me off my feet. He catches me as I trip backwards, and I end up being carried in his arms bridal style. I struggle, trying to get him to let me go, I don’t even care if he drops me, I just want him to let go!

“Let go of me!” I emphasize by trying to push him away, but he holds firm and strides towards the couch as Cindy hops up, unfazed by hitting the wall. He just chuckles as he reaches the couch and I decide to do something I know will have consequences. I quickly reach up and snatch his monocle off of his stupid face and throw at the ground. As it hits the floor, it shatters into tiny shards of glass and Alastor freezes. The silence in the room is palpable and I can feel his hands dig into my shoulder and the back of my knee. Even Cindy is frozen with her eyes wide. He slowly turns his head to look down at me, eyes briefly flashing to dials.

“Was that wise, darling~?” His voice has a dangerous edge to it, and I can hear the radio static going haywire. I huff and struggle in his grip again.

“Let. Go. Of. Me.” I time each word with a push, trying to force him to let go. He doesn’t relent and tightens his grip as Cindy regains her wits and rushes over to us, trying to pry his hands off me.

“Don’t touch me you, mutt.” Cindy is dragged away by some sort of shadow as Alastor fumes. He suddenly lets me go and I fall onto the couch, hitting my head on the armrest, sending my head spinning. Scrambling to sit up, I feel his hand grip my hair and force my head up to look at him. My vision is still slightly blurred as I can see smeared colors of red, corpse white and the yellow of his smile. “My dear, you should really think more about your future!” His grip tightens, shooting pain through my scalp as my eyes begin to water. “I have repeatedly warned you that your actions have consequences,” He drags a hand across my bandaged arm gently, “and yet you insist on being stubborn!” He twists his hand in my hair, and I whimper in pain. “You will soon learn that all your little protests are futile, darling~, you would make your life so much easier if you just gave in and made a deal with me!” He hisses.

My mind is barely functioning through the pain in my head, if he is going to kill me anyway, I might as well have the last f*cking laugh! I raise my arm to where his face is, my vision blurred through the wetness in my eyes and the pain, I gently touch his hair and he seems confused for a second easing his grip on my tresses. Suddenly, I grab as much of his crimson hair as I can and yank with my full strength. He is caught off guard and is pulled off balance, stumbling for a second and letting go of my hair in the process. I can hear Cindy let out a strangled gasp and the radio static screech.

“Just kill me you f*cking loser!” I shout as I jump up and scramble towards the lobby doors, past Husk at the bar who is awoken in a fluster by the screeching radio static.

“What the- “ He starts to say as he looks behind me and his eyes go wide. I continue to run and almost make it to the lobby doors before something grabs my ankle, sending me falling to the floor. The wind is knocked out of me, and I grab for whatever is on my ankle, struggling to pull it off. I can see Alastor’s looming form, completely monstrous with long thin limbs and giant antlers stretching toward the ceiling. His eyes are dark voids, and his grin is so large that his face is almost split in half. “Holy sh*t what happened!” I can hear Husk shout, but my attention is completely devoted to the monster in front of me, but I refuse to be afraid. I am prepared to f*cking die; I need to make it as unsatisfying as possible for this f*cking asshole!

“What, you think that you are going to f*cking scare me at this point, coward! Do you need help killing a weak little human you sorry excuse of a demon!” His form draws closer, and the shadows curled around my ankles drag me towards him. My nightgown begins to ride up and reveals my calves, but I push it down before it reveals anymore of my pale legs. I can hear the sounds of yelling, a deep gruff voice and a shrill one. The towering form leans into me as I am pulled close, the thick scent of blood enveloping me. His jagged mouth exhaling hot breaths in my face causing me to scrunch my face up as his eyes bore into me.

“You have a smart mouth, don’t you?” His voice is barely discernable through heavy distortion as the long-clawed fingers of one hand curl around my throat and begin to squeeze, cutting off my air flow. “However, darling~,” He pressed harder, and my vision begins to waver, “it seems you have a misunderstanding!” His words hiss through his teeth, and he releases a bit of pressure to prevent me from passing out. My addled mind races to understand what he is saying, my lungs screaming for air. “I don’t intend to kill you, my dear!” He releases my throat just enough for me to choke out words, my voice hoarse and halting.

“What the f*ck do you want then!” This causes him to let out a deep chuckle, rumbling through his monstrous form and causing his hot bloody breath to wash over me anew. Watching in horror as his other hand drags across my exposed calf light enough to tickle, he says the worst possible of combination of words I have ever heard.

“Darling~,” He placed his forehead on mine, the proximity causing me to sweat as my vision is encompassed by the black voids of his eyes. “I intend to make you my,” He grabs my calf hard, “little wife.” My mind reels in horrified shock and my face pales. NO, no no no no no! As he shifts backwards, I immediately turn to the side and dry heave, producing nothing due to my empty stomach. Trying to scramble away I am still held tight by the shadows on my ankles and his grip on my calf, and I feel my head spinning. “Oh? No need to be so disgusted, my dear~ you should get used to the idea!” His hand on my throat releases, sending me falling backwards but before I hit the ground his hand moves to the back of my head, cradling it as I lose consciousness.

………….

“Good day my dear Rosie!” Alastor shouts as he enters her shop. She comes bustling out of one of the rooms, straightening her appearance as she arrives near him. She offers a smile.

“Good day Alastor? What brings you to my emporium today?” He swings the microphone around and lifts his other hand dramatically.

“No need to stand on ceremony, my dear! I have simply come for coffee and advice!” Rosie sighs, internally confused as to what advice he could possibly want. She relents and leads him to her private tearoom. She summons an employee who prepares the usual spread of tea, coffee, and a blend of sweet and savory snacks. Alastor hates sweets so he only ever eats the savory ones, most of which contain cannibalistic elements. As the table is set and he is served his coffee, he waves his hand producing a small vial and a dropper. Rosie raises her eyebrow at the new addition to his routine.

“What might that be Alastor?” She hazards, as he beams, placing a generous amount of the crimson substance into his black coffee.

“Why it is my newest addiction, my dear Rosie! It has to do with the advice that I came for!” Rosie prepares her tea and delicately bites into a small yellow tartlet. Whatever could he need advice about that relates to the blood in that vial… It does smell quite delectable though! She motions for him to continue with his story. “You see, my dear, I have found myself dizzy with a dame and-” Rosie chokes on her tea and Alastor gives her a moment to collect herself. “Continuing on, I have officially announced my intentions to court the gal!” He puffs his chest proudly. “However, I need a feminine opinion on the intricacies of this whole courting thing! You see I was never one to bother myself with those of fairer means back in my living days, and I have continued that streak after death!” She remains speechless for a few seconds, staring uncomprehendingly at the well-dressed demon in front of her, before placing her teacup down.

“Might I ask a few questions about the girl in question? The advice I give will vary on your responses of course.” She finishes off the tartlet while Alastor’s radio cycling settles on a song he deems suitable as background noise.

“Certainly, my dear, ask away!”

“First order of business, who might this dame be?” Rosie asks, already knowing the answer deep down, but hesitating to assume. Alastor tilts his head to the side.

"You have already met her; she is the darling little human I brought in last time!” Nodding she feels vindicated that her intuition is still as sharp as ever. Debating on what to ask him next he takes a long draft of his coffee; a faint blush crosses his cheeks almost imperceptibly.

“Are you aware of her stances on love and marriage? Has she been in any previous relationships?” Establishing her stances on these things will help me figure out just how difficult this will be. She did not seem to like him very much the last time they were here. Alastor seems to brighten at the question.

“Why, I must say, she is the purest maiden I have ever met! She has not an ounce of interest in affairs of the heart, and even actively despises them!” He states with a swing of the microphone. Ugh…This is not boding well…

“How does Eleanor feel about you currently?” This causes Alastor to bring a finger to his chin in thought.

“She absolutely detests me!” He announces with a grin. “Why, when I told the dame my intentions she almost upchucked on the floor and passed out!” Rosie groans internally. How does he expect to woo someone who hates him that much! She raises an eyebrow.

“Alastor, might I ask how you intend to win over someone who hates you so much, and who actively resents even the concept of a relationship? I might be able to offer advice about the average lady, but I am not a miracle worker!” She proclaims, slightly miffed at his classic nonchalance.

“My dear Rosie, it doesn’t matter if I actually succeed in wooing her, I am merely giving her the opportunity to submit to me willingly. I will permit her to exhaust each of her options, until she either comes quietly or…I will be forced to change tactics.” A chill runs down her spine, imagining what being on the receiving end of such an intense sentiment would be like. “Now, what is your advice on how to win over such a fiery dame.” He narrows his eyes slightly, and Rosie knows he is done answering questions.

“Well, to woo a normal girl I would initially recommend offering her positive attention to reinforce a positive opinion of you but... I can tell that is a no go.” His eyebrow arches upwards. “Some women enjoy receiving gifts, heart symbolism is quite common. Food and clothing are common gifts that women enjoy receiving. Flowers are also quite beloved. Generally, a chaste woman will play hard-to-get, and to get past their barriers requires a certain level of persistence.” She sees him taking notes in a small leatherbound notebook and debates whether to suggest things to avoid, knowing that he might take offense. It is the least I can do for the poor girl. “The worst possible thing you could do is force yourself on them. Even a woman who enjoys your company would lose all attraction if you were to do so. That includes unwelcome touching, kissing, and…other things.” Alastor’s cheeks blush and he combats the uncomfortableness by selecting a small sandwich filled with various types of meat. He hesitates to write this down as Rosie continues. “Women like her are also put off by… suggestive comments.” He narrows his eyes and closes his book. Rosie swallows a sip of tea recalling his display of Eleanor’s injured hand.

“I believe that will be enough advice in that vein for today, my dear. You seem to have gone on a tangent! I have one last question that requires a woman’s opinion!” Rosie nods for him to ask, internally dreading what might come out of his mouth.

“Would a woman prefer to be paralyzed from the waist down, or to have their Achilles heel severed?” Rosie pauses mid bite of her tea cake.

“Pardon? I must have misheard you…”

“Yes, I plan on crippling my little wife’s ability to walk but am having a right hard time deciding the better method! On one hand paralyzation is a more permanent solution, but it lacks a certain appeal in multiple ways. On the other hand, severing the Achilles heel is a much more appealing and offers a larger range of motion, but it lacks permanence I would need to repeat the procedure multiple times.” He holds a finger to his chin, head co*cked in thought. Rosie sits frozen in shock before bringing a hand to her forehead and clears her throat.

“Um… I do not think any woman would prefer either option…”

“Oh, I’m aware that she would probably be upset at either, but it is nonnegotiable. I am simply trying to choose which one is the superior method!” He rhythmically taps his fingertips on the table, to the tune playing. Coughing uncomfortably, she tries to answer with the lesser of two evils.

“I-I think that you must consider the loss of feeling when it comes to paralyzation… Perhaps she would prefer that?” Alastor seems to have not considered this aspect of paralyzation and jumps up.

“Why, you are certainly right, my dear Rosie, I had not considered loss of sensation! It seems that my decision has been made for me, I couldn’t possibly have my little wife unable to feel anything, that would be quite rude of me!” Rosie balks at his sudden enthusiasm and says a silent apology for the unfortunate victim. “Oh! I would also like to request an order before I forget, my dear!” She nods a tired nod. “I would like to order sedatives and syringes in bulk!” Rosie just sighs and acquiesces. Alastor quickly says his goodbyes, chipper as ever, and Rosie tidies up the tea table. I knew she was in trouble the last time she came in, but…even I couldn’t expect this development! Who would have thought that he was the obsessive type… I bet the gals in the colony will be mighty relieved when he reveals his ‘little wife’ and what he plans to do…

Chapter 18: Hearts

Notes:

Trigger warning, mentions of gore.

Chapter Text

My eyes crack open to see an unfamiliar ceiling. My fuzzy brain tries to recall why I am here but all I can recall is a terrible nightmare. Hah… there is no way that was real. At least my brain could come up with something more believable… I shift in the unfamiliar bed and an aching pain emanates from my whole body. What happened! I feel like I have been hit by a truck…And my head is killing me! I feel the back of my head and am met with soreness on my scalp. My neck is also throbbing, my throat sore, I sit up slowly and look around, surprised at the gathered crowd. Every single resident of the hotel is present, except for Alastor. Did he do something? He was certainly in my nightmare, but I don’t want to think about that! Their eyes are all watching as if I am about to panic, and I recognize this room as Charlie and Vaggie’s.

“Um… Why am I here? What happened, I don’t really recall…” Cindy rushes over and sits next to me on the bed, followed by Angel.

“Toots’…all I can say is that I wish I was wrong…” My brain rushes to comprehend what he means when Vaggie speaks up.

“Eleanor… How much do you remember?” I tilt my throbbing head.

“Hmm…I remember being sick and the red menace found out. I was forced to let him take care of me. Then I had a check up with a doctor that he summoned, and she prescribed me a fever medication and I needed to take one fourth of the normal dosage. I never had a chance to look at the suggested dose when he gave me the first pill. I took it and experienced extreme drowsiness. After another dose I became suspicious and when he tried to give me the third dose I asked if he was over-medicating me. He was.” I can hear a few whispers. “I refused to take the pill, but I was extremely drowsy still and he forced the pill down my throat and began to take my blood with a needle.” I pull up the arm of my nightgown and reveal the three puncture marks. “And while he was taking my blood I was hit with the extreme drowsiness and fell asleep.” Husk curses and says he knew there was something wrong when he came in after I was already asleep again. “That is all I remember. I had a horrible nightmare though, but there is no way that happened.” I grab at my nightgown to steady myself at the memory of that nightmare. Vaggie sighs as Cindy strokes my back. Vaggie motions to Cindy.

“Well, when you woke up, I was there and you refused to take the pills, accusing him of over-dosing you. I got so damn pissed that I wanted to f*cking kill him! But you intervened before he attacked me and wanted to go to your room. I was going to help you, but he stopped us, and you accused him of taking your blood. I saw red and not because of his stupid clothes! He said he was putting your blood in his damn coffee!” I shiver with disgust and dawning recognition.

“He f*cking pushed me into the wall and picked you up, when I tried to help, he restrained me with some shadow bullsh*t. You flipped the f*ck out and shattered his ugly monocle on the ground, it was honestly a bit funny, until he got super angry. He threw you on the couch and was pulling your hair, I couldn’t really hear what he said but it was probably threats. I couldn’t wiggle free of the damn shadows but when I looked up, I saw you reach out and yank the freaks hair!” Angel sputters at my action.

“He let go of you and you asked him to just kill you as you ran off toward the front. He morphed into his f*cking monster form and sent some shadows to trip you, and you hit the ground pretty damn hard! He began to choke you, while you continued to goad him to kill you.” I begin to shudder violently. “Then he said um…” I yank the edge of my nightgown up revealing my calf. My hands clench and the knuckles turn white as I can see the clear handprint shaped bruise on my calf. My head slowly creaks upwards to look around at the gathered crowd before my eyes begin to well with tears.

“No… He can’t…That’s not… I don’t want…” Vaggie immediately clears out the room as a few tears trickle down my cheek. She closes the door and slowly steps toward me before sitting on the bed next to me. Placing a hand on my back, I collapse into her chest and break into sobs. She rubs small circles on my back and lets me soak her shirt in tears. “Why! Why does it have to be me! I wish he just wanted to kill me, I could accept that” I choke the words out, my voice hoarse.

“Shhh… I won’t lie to you Eleanor; this is a pretty f*cked up situation. I didn’t even know that talk show sh*tlord could feel anything even resembling love, but I guess it makes sense that when he does it is twisted too…” I laugh a little through the tears.

“Yeah, it f*cking figures…” Wiping my eyes roughly with my hands I sit up and see the tears soaking her shirt. “I’m sorry… Your shirt…” She looks down and waves a hand.

“Don’t f*cking worry about that, you are in distress, I am not worried about my damn shirt!” She pats me on the back again. “So…I don’t exactly want to ask you this but… was there any signs of his… ulterior motives? He didn’t do anything worse did he!” Her voice rises and I hurriedly shake my head. She calms down a bit but still looks angry.

“Angel tried to warn me, but I didn’t believe him… he said that there was a look in his eyes, but I couldn’t tell… He also…um…he…” She seems concerned at my reticence and grows more concerned. “He has a habit of…um…pinning me down and…straddling me.” I barely whisper the last words and her eyebrows shoot up, face morphing into a rageful visage. “He also is constantly reminding me of the injuries and scars he has caused me and talking about my blood being ‘delectable’ or something. I just thought this was all to make me uncomfortable, like how he is always touching me, messing with my hair, and calling gross pet names. He has this thing where he always wants eye contact, it is really creepy!” I speak quickly trying to move away from the awkward words that I said. Suddenly my face drops further. “Oh no… I remember something else…Do you remember the blackout?” At this point my tears have ceased and my eyes are filled with fear. Vaggie quickly nods her head looking positively appalled.

“That was closer to the beginning of when you were here, not that long after the hand incident! What did he f*cking do!” She shoots up off the bed, hands in tight fists.

“Well, I think he might have caused it, because as soon as Cindy left to check it out, he showed up and put me in a hallucination, illusion, thing. I thought it was just supposed to reflect my worst fears, that’s what Husk said, so I didn’t put any more thought into it. But…if it wasn’t supposed to be that… then…” My eyes widen in absolute horror and Vaggie rushes over.
“What! What was the hallucination!” Her brows are furrowed in worry and sorrow at what has been happening under her nose.

“It made my skin crawl…” I put my hands on my arms, hugging myself, and I begin to rock as I recount it. “I woke up and I was in a room that I had never seen before, I wasn’t completely myself because I never panicked until the end. I was in a…bed. I was wearing a red lacy nightgown, and the sleeves were thin straps. I felt really uncomfortable in it. I realized that he was staring at me, I think he was watching me sleep… He said I slept in, and I tried to get up, but he pushed me back into the bed and pulled the covers back up but… his hands lingered over my legs, and I didn’t react somehow. He left the room to get food and he locked the door behind him…I was confused because my hand was pristine, no cut or scar.” I gesture to my scarred hand, not looking at Vaggie.

“He came back into the room with food and he… watched me eat…I thought it was weird, but he put a memory in my head that it was a normal thing. He magicked away the dishes and said it was time to get ready. I tried to get out of the bed…but he wouldn’t let me get up without ‘helping’ me, I was even annoyed in the illusion! When I stood up, I was uncomfortable because the nightgown was really short, I tried to pull it lower, but it sat at my knee! I was so embarrassed at the indecency! He led me like I was incapable of even walking by myself, the nerve! There was a whole lot of fancy clothing, but he wouldn’t let me choose and had me sit at the vanity. He chose something for me to wear and handed it to me…” My breath hitches. “I waited for him to leave…but he didn’t…I asked him to leave so I could change but he refused… I got really angry, and he said that it was ‘nothing he hasn’t seen before’ I was so horrified when he offered me a deal in exchange for him giving me privacy, I knew it was an illusion and broke out of it on my own.” I take a huge sigh, trying to regulate my breathing.

“When I came to, I was paralyzed, and he had put my head on his lap. He was watching me when I was unconscious and touching my hair! I was mortified, but I couldn’t move for a whole minute while he just looked at me…” I shudder and finally turn to face her. Her face was pale, and she was trembling slightly.

“That f*cking bastard,” She suddenly shrieks, before clapping a hand over her mouth. A commotion occurs in the hallway and Angel busts into the room followed by Cindy and the rest.
“What f*ckin’ happened, we heard a damn shriek!” Vaggie is still trembling with rage as I sit curled into a ball on the bed rocking.

“I am going to f*cking kill that freak!” She summoned her spear and tries to rush out of the room. Charlie and Angel, both hold her back in tandem.

“Wait! You can’t do that! He would kill you if you tried to do that!” Charlie shouts at her concerned. Vaggie stops and twirls around, face red.

“What the hell am I supposed to do! Just let that perverted freak get away with his f*cking antics! Do you realize what type of danger she is in!” She motions to me huddled on the bed. “This isn’t a new f*cking development; he has been harassing her this whole damn time and I never even f*cking noticed!” Angel sidles up to me and gently sits down. I keep my head buried in my legs.

“Toots…did he do something else?” He asked hesitantly, with a vague idea of what she is upset over.

“I am so stupid… I haven’t noticed a single sign…The hallucination…” Angel stops me from continuing and Husk looks caught off guard.

“It wasn’t just the normal fear illusion? What the hell was it!” Disappointed in himself for not getting more information when it happened, he is filled with anger at the bastard’s gall. Angel is the one to answer instead of Eleanor. He sighed.

“Tha’ otha’ night I asked him the same f*ckin’ question… he didn’t say exactly what was in it, but he did say something about it. I am going to quote him word for f*ckin’ word so don’t come at me for the f*ckin’ creepy words. ‘I simply showed her a taste of what she can expect after I obtain her! It was a lovely little domestic scene if I do say so myself, though I missed the delicious look of fear in her eyes! It even gave me a few more ideas, myself!’. He looked f*ckin’ creepy when sayin’ it too.” My blood chills and I huddle even tighter. Vaggie screeches, no words, just pure unadulterated rage. Charlie looks downright frightened, and Cindy is just as enraged as Vaggie, snarling. Husk and Angel are the only ones who are semi-composed. Husk begins to speak slowly, as if withholding himself from any extreme emotion.

“He is a f*cking bastard… but, I have an idea...” Everyone looks towards him with a rainbow of emotions. “Damn… He is a pretty persistent guy, but he has never once ‘pursued’ a woman in his entire f*cking life. And he is f*cking old, like a hundred and fifteen years old at this point. However, this makes me think that he might lose interest like he does with his other ‘toys’ like a spoiled f*cking brat. If this is his first twisted f*cking crush, it might be easily extinguished, we just need to figure out a f*cking plan.” Vaggie takes a deep breath and stomps over to him.

“How do we f*cking know you aren’t trying to help his sorry ass! He brought you in here!” Husk grunts.

“Cause’ I don’t f*cking like the bastard either! I f*cked up and he has my damn soul, but that doesn’t mean I like the prick! He hasn’t asked me for a damn thing other than runnin’ the damn bar.” He crosses his arms and looks away. “And if it makes you feel better, don’t include me in any of your plans, and I can leave the room to prevent him from gaining any information through force.” Vaggie glares at him, before softening slightly.

“Fine, I believe you, but you need to leave while we plan.” Husk nods and leaves the room, taking a drink of his bottle. Cindy closes the door behind him after checking the hallway. She locks the door from the inside before turning around and leaning against it, ears perked. Vaggie moves to the center of the room and takes a look at the gathered people.

“Ok, I want to hear every single one of your opinions. Keep it relevant to observations about his patterns and ideas on how to thwart the prick.” She looks to Angel first.

“Aight’ I have noticed that he is an obsessive freak. He acts like some obsessive fans I’ve had. He watches her every f*ckin’ move when they are in tha’ same room. He always makes sure ta’ stay close ta’ her so he can feel her up like a wierdo.” Angel shrugs and glances towards my huddled form, I have stopped rocking and poked my eyes out to watch the meeting. Vaggie looks to Cindy next.

“He is a possessive son of a bitch, like what he said to Angel about her! He really hates when anyone else is around her, especially me. I think he just hates dogs in general. He also has a fixation with her blood and injuring her ‘aesthetically’, I think he’s got a f*ckin’ blood kink…” I shudder but force myself to straighten out. This is the worst-case scenario…but can I just shut down? If I shut down then he wins…I need to keep fighting to get out of this and back to a peaceful, Alastor free way of life… Vaggie looks to Charlie next, her eyes a bit softer.
“I-I’m so sorry this is happening… I just want to help….” She begins to rack her brain for any details that might be relevant. “I know! He seems to be really interested in what she eats, and he also seemed to be interested in her lack of indulging in anything and her extreme independence, despite being in an unfamiliar new place. He also seemed to be weirdly interested in her…lack of experiences…during the game night. Oh! He also had a weird face when she won chess!” Vaggie finally turns to me with a gentle gaze.

“Do you want to add anything that might be relevant? You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to Ellie…” Screwing up my courage I sit up to my full height, back straight, eyes deadly serious.

“I can’t let him f*cking win. I will share what he seems to focus on when he has me cornered. Please do not interrupt or make a comment on anything, I…don’t think I could take that…” I shut my eyes. “He focuses on my eyes, stating how they reflect my fear well. He is always touching my hair and my face. He has only ever touched my legs twice, once in the illusion and once when he said he wanted to… you know. He has only touched my arms when injuring me, restraining me, or reminding me of the injuries. He has never once touched me in an explicitly inappropriate place aside from…straddling me twice, once leaving a bruise.” I sigh, keeping my momentum going. “He enjoys drinking my blood and calling me pet names, he has never once used my name in the entire time I have been here. He also dislikes when I interact with anyone else besides him, and he enjoys being in control of my actions. He seems to want to control me to an extreme degree and always focuses on the terms ‘frail’, ‘weak’, ‘delicate’, and ‘little’.” Angel grimaces recalling his threats to cripple her. “He liked my singing when we were in the ballroom and forced me to sing more. He seems more subdued around others but will always do something bad if he is alone with me. His breath is also super rank, I don’t even think he knows what toothpaste is. That is all I can remember.” I shrink back down into myself as I ruminate on the situation. The gathered people all sigh, but don’t comment as I requested. Vaggie looks pained but gathers herself.

“Ok, so I think we have a full picture of what we are working with, an obsessive, possessive, sad*stic, molester.” She sighs before tacking on more. “Who also happens to be one of the most powerful souls in hell… and a cannibal.” She grabs her hair in frustration. “Ugh! Why the hell does he have to be such a monster! If was any other sinner, I would just f*cking end him!” I stand up at that.

“If he were mortal, I would have f*cking murdered him by now! That stupid 1920’s freak…wait 20’s, radio, named Alastor, last name starts with C, serial killer… I know who he was when he was alive!” Everyone seems confused by this left field statement. My analytical mind takes over as I rack my brain for all of the details that I remember.

“Really? Who is he!” Cindy pleads with me to tell her.

“I read about him in a book about the most prolific serial killers in the United States. His full name is Alastor Chausser, and he was a prolific cannibalistic serial killer in the twenties and thirties. He killed upwards of 300 individuals of all races, genders, and ages, he was known as the ‘equal opportunity killer’. After his death in 1939 he was found to have bribed almost the entire police force in New Orleans, and the ones he didn’t bribe, he killed. He was the single most popular radio host on the air in New Orleans and made a habit of reporting on his own crimes in detail. His reign of terror was brought to an end when he was disposing of a body. There was a pack of hunting dogs that mauled him half to death when hunter mistook him for a deer and shot him. Right in the forehead.” Angel shakes his head.

“Damn, everyone knows he was a serial killer, but I never knew how many!” Vaggie shouts and Charlie pats her back comfortingly.

“No wonder he hates dogs…” Cindy mutters.

“I’m glad his death was so undignified! He was shot like the garbage he is.” I stand confidently with my hands on my hips, feeling better about having even a scrap of information on my enemy. “I am sure he knows French, and his choice in cooking reflects his origins. I spotted a French cookbook in the kitchen a while ago and was curious. I bet I can find more dirt on him when I get back to the human world, there are plenty of books analyzing serial killers in excruciating detail. It’s a good thing I know French!”

“Ya’ know French? How many damn skills are ya’ hidin’ in that tiny body a’ yours?” I hesitate for a second, generally I keep personal details tight to my chest, but I trust everyone in the room enough to share.

“I am able to do a great many things, it happens when you are mostly a hermit and jump from hobby to hobby! I know Latin, Greek, French, and Italian. I can play violin and piano, I am only decent at singing. I can embroider and sew to an acceptable degree, the nightgown I arrived in was handsewn. I am decent at most handicrafts, minus painting, and sculpting. I do not like how unwieldy they are, and I do detest messes. I guess you can add strategic games and research in the mix as well, though those are mainly for pure fun!” Cindy strikes a proud pose.
“She is better at piano than I am! She’s a real renaissance woman ain’t she!” She grabs my shoulders shaking me slightly. “I just wish she was any good at cooking and taking care of herself!” My face blushes.

“Hey, I am perfectly fine at cooking. I made perfectly nutritious meals, with the exact ratios of calories, vitamins, and macronutrients!” Cindy chuckles.

“Yeah, but it tasted like trash!” Angel sputters out laughing and Vaggie smiles faintly. Charlie’s concerned expression lifts slightly as she can’t help but crack a smile.

“Alright, now that the mood is a little less dour, let us come up with a plan.” Vaggie reigns us in before we go on another tangent.

“Ok, so the red menace,” I can hear a chuckle or two, “seems to be restrained slightly when I am around others. He still messes around a bit, but not to quite the same degree. My room is also a hotspot for encounters, he seems to ignore locks, but he has never harassed me in someone else’s room.” I scowl. “I think the best course of action is one I wont like very much, but it is better than the…alternative.” Everyone shudders.

“You are right, I think that one of us should always guard her, we can rotate the duty between us. She should also bunk with others until he loses interest.” Vaggie furrows her brows. “How do you think we will know when he loses interest in her?” Angel is the one to pipe up.

“I got a handle on that, toots, trust me, when he stops hounding her every f*ckin’ minute he is probably losin’ interest. If he stops getting’ all touchy feely that is a good sign too. He never really calls anyone by their name unless it annoys them like ya’ two, so I don’t think that would signify anythin’. Other than that, I guess if he stops makin’ those hungry eyes at our Ellie, then he has probably moved on.” We all nod in agreement.

“Finally, if more than one of us is present, then whoever is not guarding her should try to lure him away and keep him away when possible. However, no lying about her leaving the hotel.” She glares at Angel who shrugs nonchalantly.

“I would like to suggest that we reconvene once per week, so I can report all incidents and any developments positive or negative. Is that acceptable?” A chorus of agreements sound out, and we set the date, time, and location of our next meeting. Feeling much more determined and my dread turning to sheer spite and rage at his impertinence at making me feel unsafe, I leave the room with my guard for the day: Vaggie.

I begin my work in the library, the sorting and cataloguing already done. My current job is repairing the deteriorating books, and transcribing the ones that can’t be saved. I am working on transcribing and translating a beautiful french book of poetry, when I can hear the tell tale clicking of the red menace. Vaggie jumps to the ready and we both mentally prepare for our next battle of wits, my stomach dropping. The doors to the library burst open and he strides through, only pausing momentarily when he sees Vaggie.

“Why, Vagatha, what brings you to the library?” She smiles and crosses her arms as he raises an eyebrow.

“I am spending quality time with Ellie. I never get to spend any time with her, so when she invited me to help her work, I jumped on the opportunity.” She sits back down next to me and pointedly hands me another sheet of paper when I needed it. I thank her with a bright smile and begin on the next poem. Alastor narrows his eyes in suspicion.

“My darling little human, whatever are you doing?” He leans in to look over her shoulder, threateningly close.

“I am transcribing and translating.” I say curtly, not even turning to face him. He looks intently at the page I am writing on; the original poem is written out first followed by an English translation, my cursive handwriting is neat and small. Vaggie smirks as he holds a hand to his chest dramatically.

“My dear I didn’t know you could speak French! Perhaps I shall call you ‘cher’ from now on?” His eyes reflecting mischief.

“Whatever, I don’t care.” I manage to look nonchalant, and a spark of confusion crosses his face. He gently lays a hand on my shoulder and brings his face close to my ear.

“You don’t care? Why, you didn’t say that when I called you sweetheart~” He purrs into my ear, and despite the involuntary shudder from air hitting my ear I don’t react. My mind, however, is revolted. Vaggie frowns.

“Yeah, I don’t care anymore, now can you please either take a seat and be quiet or leave the library. Distractions are frowned upon in a library setting, Mr. Manners.” He freezes in confusion for a second before taking a seat while Vaggie can’t help but smile. His smile looks strained, but ever present. She also chooses to ignore him, instead helping me with little tasks like changing ink pots and refreshing the paper. The only sound in the air is the fountain pen scribbling across the pages, light breathing, and the static of an annoyed radio demon. After only ten minutes he seems to grow bored of the peaceful scene.

“Why, Vagatha, I wonder what our dear princess would think of you spending such quality time with another woman?” He smirks condescendingly, but Vaggie looks him in the eye.

“Oh, she knows I’m here. Is your ego so fragile that you can’t handle her spending time with anyone else?” She beams brightly as if she didn’t just insult him to his face. The static rises and falls in a quick burst.

“How bold coming from a dame who is neglecting her duties!” His grin turns dangerous and his eyes narrow. Vaggie jumps up out of her chair.

“What are you talking about! Did you do something!” He chuckles and shrugs his shoulders, swinging the microphone.

“Who knows, my dear, I guess you would have to find that out on your own!” She scowls at him, and I begin to pack up my work for the day. Vaggie glances over and her scowl morphs to a small smile. He doesn’t seem to notice what I am doing, watching Vaggies movements like a hawk.

“Fine, you prick, I have to make sure you didn’t f*ck up the hotel. Come on Ellie, lets go.” Alastor immediately changes his attention to me, seeing that I have packed up and I can hear a skipping records sound. As I move to rise, I realize that my chair is stuck once more. My body freezes momentarily, remembering his intense gaze and the feeling of his tongue on my hand, lapping up the blood and forcing my wound open. Vaggie notices my predicament.

“It appears he has fastened my chair again. Perhaps I could get a spot of assistance?” I force out through gritted teeth. Vaggie sends me a gaze that asks for permission, and I nod. Alastor seems to be smug until Vaggie walks over to my chair, and I place one arm over her shoulders. She grabs me by the waist and pulls me out of the stuck chair before setting me down lightly on the floor. I dust myself off and gather my items, refusing to look at the red menace. The sound of static is sitting at an uncomfortable level as we head out of the door. I can hear splintering as we close the door behind us.

After walking for a minute or two I can’t hold back my nervous laughter. She places a hand on my back comfortingly.

“That went well!” I force out a bit too loudly suppressing my shaking hands. “Did I do well in seeming apathetic?” My eyes flit up to her face and then back to the floor.

“You did great, Ellie, I know it is hard to be around him, but it was completely believable.” She shoots me a supportive grin and my shaking calms down. I take a few deep breaths and relax my tense shoulders.

“Alright now let’s see what bullsh*t he pulled to get me out of there.” We perform a search of the hotel floors, starting with the lobby, only to find that nothing is amiss. Everything is perfectly in place. We look at each other and start to giggle. “Guess he is a liar too! At least he didn’t f*ck anything up… He could do major damage if he wanted too.” She grabs her shoulders in a defensive manner, and I take my chance to comfort her in return. We decide to just spend the rest of the day relaxing in the lobby. At some point Angel arrives back at the hotel from his job. Cindy follows soon after and we all are chatting and goofing off in the lobby. Angel orders a co*cktail and I make myself some tea, ensuring that Vaggie follows me to the kitchen when I do so.

Nothing happens for the rest of the day, and the uneventfulness is both welcome and disconcerting. I know he hasn’t lost interest this quickly. What is he planning? Vaggie seems to be thinking the same way, as I can see her scanning the room every few minutes. Angel seems to be monitoring the staircase and the kitchen door. Cindy keeps glancing at the lobby doors. The longer we sit and talk, the more uncomfortable I feel, a sense of dread takes hold of me. I can just feel that something has happened, but I can’t place it. Forcing myself to calm down I flip open the poetry book and begin to read from its deteriorating pages, half listening to the conversations swirling around me.

The day winds onwards and I eat my simple dinner, with no issues. Alastor has not shown his face since noon in the library. He didn’t even make dinner for the rest of the residents, so we decided to have a fun group cooking session. I was forced to sulk at the table in the kitchen when Cindy recounted just how horrible I am at cooking. Angel turns out to be a really skilled chef, mainly in Italian cuisine. He whips up a delightful smelling pasta dish that tempts me to try it. Remaining strong, I refuse to bend to the indulgent meal and finish off my bread and soup. Charlie baked some attractive cupcakes, and I helped her decorate them. She asked me to make them look like unicorns and I relent putting my detail-oriented skills to work. We end up with some surprisingly tasteful looking unicorn cupcakes because I chose some less…vibrant…colors than Charlie did. They are cute, but I can just smell the cloyingly sweet scent wafting off them and it makes my stomach churn, effectively cutting off any remaining appetite I had. Flashes of the sickeningly sweet taste mixed with the scent of blood makes me nauseous.

“Do you want one?” She offers, and I prevent myself from pulling a face as I politely decline.

“No thank you…I have never enjoyed sweet things.” I blush slightly, feeling like I am starting to overshare with these people, but no one chastises me. Cindy looks pleased to see me opening up a bit more. We all sit around the table, and they eat their meal and dessert, while chatting. The dread in the atmosphere is completely gone at this point, and I am having a splendid time. The evening eventually winds down and Vaggie pulls me aside.

“Ok, it is almost time to go to bed, we should probably swing by your room to grab your things. I can give you a bag to put your personal affects in and we probably have a suitcase lying around somewhere to put your clothes in, seeing as you don’t have that many.” I nod my head enthusiastically.

“Thank you for everything… I don’t think I could sleep in that room again. Especially alone, I just keep thinking about what he might do…” Placing a hand on my shoulder she makes eye contact with me, a serious look on her face.

“I know this is difficult. I can tell how nervous you are, but I won’t let anything happen to you while I am around, I promise. He would need to go through my dead body first!” Her assurances make me both happy that someone cares for me, but terrified that it might happen. I don’t want these people to be hurt over me. We head for my room, climbing the stairs, passing the spot where Vaggie helped me before when he threatened my life. I wonder how long he has been hiding his intentions… Has it been from the start? Or when he threatened me on the staircase? Maybe when I cut my hand? Could I have done anything differently? My mind spirals around questions that will probably never be answered as we reach my door.

I hand the key over to Vaggie, not wanting to open the door myself. She turns the key in the lock and pushes the door open, spear at the ready, just in case. As the door swings open, the scent of blood and gore hits us full force. My stomach lurches and Vaggie gags as the open door reveals a pile of hearts, still bloody, piled atop my bed. A few have fallen to the floor and left bloody trails. Falling to my knees I begin to breathe heavily as Vaggie curses. She shuts the door, blocking the view and drops her spear, throwing her arms around my frozen form. My eyes are fixed open still staring at the door. Vaggie pulls out her hellphone and sends a text to someone, and after a few minutes I can hear three sets of footsteps climbing the stairs. My breathing has calmed at this point, but my eyes are still staring at the door in the same spot.

“What the f*ck did he do…” Cindy’s tired voice quietly asks Vaggie. Vaggie helps me up to my feet and leads me away from the door, breaking my eye contact with it, and I shake myself out of my stupor. She gestures to Cindy to investigate the room. She cracks the door with Angel and Charlie looking over her shoulder. They all recoil in disgust but slip into the room.

“How are you doing?” She whispers, rubbing my back in circles.

“Were those what I think they were?” My words tumble out haphazardly. Vaggie sighs.

“Yes…They were hearts…They looked fresh.” A shiver rips through my spine.

“Is that why he wasn’t around today?” My mind refuses to think.

“Probably… I need to check something.” She lifts her hellphone and looks something up. Her brows furrow briefly before a resigned look crosses her face. “He made a special broadcast today. Do you want me to stop? Or do you want to hear more?” I motion for her to continue. I need all the information. She sighs. “Apparently, he targeted a specific demographic today, instead of his usual…tactics. He targeted young women and only took their hearts, not injuring them further. None of those who were attacked were erased.” That makes me sigh in a twisted sense of relief and I manage to calm my nerves enough. I put a hand to my shoulders and massage the stiffness out of them, Vaggie seems relieved as I come out of my fear state. Angel struts out of my room carrying a bloodstained paper, handing it to Vaggie. Vaggie looks over it and frowns deeply.

“I don’t think it would be wise for you to read this right now.” She places it in her pocket, and I acquiesce.

“Cindy is packin’ ya’ stuff up, Charlie is startin’ ta’ clean up tha’… mess. This room is officially off limits, I don’t want ya’ comin’ near here anymore, ya’ understand?” I nod meekly and grab my shoulders. Vaggie leads me to her shared room with Charlie and lays down a spare mattress. I am too tired and shaken to protest to the comfort of a soft bed. I make sure to help her lay out the sheets and blankets, not wanting to feel useless. Charlie slips into the room, carrying a small suitcase and toiletries bag, filled with my items. I place them next to the mattress I am going to sleep on. We all take turns getting ready for bed.

On my turn I enter the bathroom and put on a nightgown that I haven’t worn yet. It is cotton of a pale blue color with a simple ribbon at the high neck. I was a bit unsatisfied with the embellishment and color, but it was the best I could find. I check the length to find it is satisfactory, hitting the bottom of my ankles and the sleeves reach my wrists. The entire piece is loose and obscures every curve of my body in a perfect way. I wash my face and brush out my hair gently, careful of my sore scalp. My fingers brush through the base of my hair and I look at myself in the mirror, taking in my pale features and sunken eyes. My gray eyes reflect my tired state. My neck is ringed with a clear hand shaped bruise, matching the one on my calf. I bring my thin fingers to brush against it, and am met with tenderness. I brush my teeth and then shuffle out of the restroom, feeling like a zombie. I can see Charlie and Vaggie sitting up waiting for me. Sighing I sit myself on the mattress and wait for them to speak to me. Charlie is the first one to speak.

“So… How are you doing?” I just offer a thumbs up, contrasting my exhausted face. She nods and Vaggie hands her the note. “Do you feel okay enough to read what he wrote?” She grimaces looking down at the bloody note. “It is just about as bad as you would expect…” Sighing I just motion for her to hand it over. She does and I flit my eyes over the words in neat cursive.

“My dear little human, I do hope you enjoyed your surprise! I went to extra effort to ensure they were the most delicate hearts I could find, much like I assume yours to be, darling. I do so miss our tender moment the other night, it was quite intimate. The way your face relaxed as you slipped into sleep was truly captivating, I promise I didn’t do anything untoward! I must admit I do not approve of you getting so close with others, my dear. Your delicate form could break so easily that a specific level of care is required, and I am the only one that can provide! I have already begun to prepare your living quarters in my estate, they are quite similar to those in our lovely little shared vision! Until next time, cher!”
Finishing the note, I just crumple it and toss it into the trash can. Adjusting my nightgown, I state matter of factly.

“It was nothing but drivel.” Vaggie chuckles a little, before grabbing a package that was sitting next to her on the bed. She hands it to me and my head tilts in confusion.

“We were thinking that you need something to take your mind off current events, and we remembered that you liked embroidery. When Charlie went out today, she picked up some embroidery supplies.” I open the package to see a huge variety of thread, fabrics, needles, and pattern books. “She didn’t know what type of embroidery you liked so she got one of everything.” She giggles and pushes her elbow into the bashful Charlie’s ribs. My eyes light up at the haul.

“Thank you so much! I love all kinds, so I will use everything here. I am so glad that I can do something with my hands!” My words race out and Charlie beams at me.

“I am glad you like them! I can’t wait to see what you make!” Vaggie agrees and we talk lightly for a few minutes before I say that I would like to go to sleep. They agree and shut the light off. My eyes close and I slip into a deep, yet nightmare filled sleep.

Chapter 19: First Kiss

Chapter Text

My body convulses in fear as I can see a pair of red glowing eyes in the pitch-black forest. I try to run, but my legs are frozen in place as I tumble to the ground. Shivering on the cold damp forest floor, the dampness seeping into my nightgown, causing it to stick to my skin. The eyes grow closer, and I scramble backwards, my pale flesh receiving small cuts and scrapes. The familiar form of Alastor looms over me, antlers at full length. He kneels over my shaking body and his hands grab at my face. His breathe consumes my senses with the smell of death, as he leans in closer, his dial eyes meeting mine. He shifts a hand away from my face and reaches for my leg. His fingers brush against the material of my nightgown and starts to slowly push it up as his smile grows, revealing more teeth. When it reaches my knees, I startle awake, hyperventilating.

I frantically look around the dark room, seeing nothing out of place. Charlie and Vaggie are still fast asleep, and I can see the time is four in the morning. My breathing calms down as my body releases its tension. Still shaking slightly, I move the covers aside and examine my leg. The bruise is still vibrant and tender to the touch, and when I poke at it a wave of dull pain shoots up my leg. I place my hand over it, the outline of his hand dwarfs mine and I feel a chill. Quickly I pull my nightgown back down, covering my leg.

Realizing that I won’t be able to fall back asleep I stretch out my sore limbs. I hit the ground pretty hard, didn’t I? I quietly get up from the mattress and head to the restroom to shower. I shower, being careful of the numerous sore spots littering my body. My hand brushes over the scar on my shoulder, proud that at least I have one mark on me that wasn’t caused by him. Finishing up in the shower, I dry myself off and get dressed, before combing out my hair and exiting the restroom. I sit back down on the mattress and sift through the embroidery materials. Finding a small booklight I decide to get started on one of the patterns.

Preparing a small handkerchief, I place it in the wooden hoop and fasten it down. I thread my selected needle and reference the pattern of an open book surrounded by bell shaped blue and purple flowers. Beginning to methodically embroider, I let my mind become consumed by the repetitive action. Time crawls by, until Vaggie wakes up and groggily gets out of bed, tripping over the corner of my mattress.

“Oh sh*t!” Her shout wakes Charlie and pulls me out of my concentration as I see the white-haired demon falling towards me. I shift to the side at the last second as she hits the mattress right where my leg was. That would have hurt.

“Are you ok?” I squeak out and a deep blush crosses her cheeks as Charlie rushes to help her up.

“I’m fine, I forgot the mattress was right there,” She notices how close she was to hitting me, “Oh! Sorry, I almost hit you! That would have been bad…” I shrug and give her a nonchalant smile.

“It’s fine, it just would have hurt a bit, that’s all! It wasn’t your fault, so don’t worry about it.” She shakes the remainder of sleep off and scrambles off the mattress with Charlie’s help.
“That was a good tumble there Vags!” She giggles before glancing over to my work.

“Ooh you have already started! Can I see?” Nodding I show off the almost completed handkerchief, the only part left is the outline, which I have already started.

“How long have you been awake? It’s only six thirty!” Putting the hoop in my lap, I face them.

“I woke up at four AM, I had a nightmare, so I couldn’t go back to sleep. I already got ready for the day; my hair just dried. Raising a hand to my hair I run my fingers through it, only to be met with a dull ache from my scalp.

“I’m sorry to hear that, do you want to tell us what it was about?” My face twists into a frown.

“It had Him in it…” They don’t seem surprised. “I was in a forest and could see his eyes in the dark, they were doing the dial thing. I fell over, unable to run and he climbed on top of me. He touched my face and then… started to push my nightgown up…” My shoulders shake slightly. “I woke up when it reached my knee.” I begin to embroider the outline of the book, not looking up at them. I can feel one of them sit next to me and put a reassuring hand on my shoulder, causing my shaking to stop. No words are exchanged as we sit in silence until Vaggie speaks.
“I am going to take a shower; Charlie will stay out here with you. I think it is Cindy who will hang out with you today.” I nod and she lifts herself off my mattress and shuffles to the restroom. While she showers, I finish the handkerchief and show it to Charlie.

“Good job! You are really good at that, say, do you have any other crafts you are good at?” I tilt my head in thought while removing the handkerchief from the hoop.

“Hmm, I am good at paper crafts, and sewing if it counts as a craft. Why?” Charlie looks excited but refuses to tell me until breakfast time. Oh, yeah today is a fasting day… I don’t have an appetite anyway, all I can think of is the smell of his breath…Vaggie exits the restroom, fully dressed, hair damp and Charlie takes her turn. Vaggie sits next to me, and I hand her the handkerchief.

“I want you to have this, I am really thankful for everything you have been doing to help me… If you hadn’t been here, I would have probably just broken…” My words trail off and she claps me on the back, surprising me.

“Don’t worry about it, thank you for the handkerchief! I am glad to help…I have been in a situation that has some similarities to yours…” She takes a deep breath and I let her continue. “There was an abusive prick in my neighborhood when I was alive, he had a habit of creeping on all the girls. At some point he crossed the line and started to force himself on them, I thought I was safe because my father was in the cartel, but… I wasn’t…” Her shoulders fall a bit. “I toughened up after that and I got my revenge, I killed him, but that didn’t make the pain go away…” Placing my hand on her back, I try to comfort her. She lets out a self-deprecating laugh. “I just wish I had enough power to prevent that prick form hurting you anymore than he already has…” We both sigh and ruminate in gloomy silence until Charlie exits the restroom, ready for the day.

“Alright ladies lets head to the kitchen!” We all rise and head to the kitchen, with Charlie in the lead. We reach the doors and when she reaches for the handle, the door opens on its own, revealing Alastor. He is wearing an apron and stirring a bowl of something.

“Why, good morning, ladies!” He exclaims setting the bowl down on the counter and turning to greet us. My stomach twists. “Who would have guessed that our dear little human would show her face at the table! Did you like the little gift I left for you last night?” I try to think of what response would annoy him the most as I can feel Vaggie tense and Charlie frown.

“What gift? I didn’t sleep in my room.” A record scratch echoes out and his face freezes, smile agape slightly. I shrug my shoulders, feigning ignorance.

“Surely you are lying, my dear, you would have had to retrieve your personal affects-“

“Cindy got them for me.” Cutting him off I stare him in the eyes with the maximum amount of apathy I can put out. Vaggie backs up my lies.

“Yeah, she stayed in our room. Cindy went and grabbed her stuff. There was a bit of a commotion,” She glares at him, “but she stayed in our room the whole time.” Crossing her arms over her chest she assumes a smug look. Charlie just decides to keep quiet to not mess up the fake story. He seems to be convinced, but rather upset at the development.

“So, what did he leave?” I purposefully ask Vaggie and not him, he seems interested in my reaction.

“He left a bunch of hearts on your bed, like the organ not the shape.” Vaggie states plainly, and I can tell she knows I have a plan.

“Oh, how unsanitary. Why would you do that?” Maintaining apathy, I look him directly in the eye, as if he hasn’t been terrorizing me for months. He seems taken aback at my apathy and takes a second to think, before changing tactics.

“Well now, darling, I am sure you know why! I am merely trying to court you, I heard that hearts were a common motif!” Perfect, he has fallen into my trap.

“Yeah, the symbols not the organs, what are you five?” I strut past him and look in the fridge for the water jug. I can hear the radio frequency spike and giggles from Vaggie and Charlie.
“My dear, I am certainly not five. I expired when I was thirty-one thank you very much.” He turns to continue cooking, chopping some veggies, and I take the perfect opportunity.

“That was in 1939 so I guess you are just going senile then.” Pulling the jug out of the fridge, I hide my smile and maintain apathy. The static spikes yet again, but this time it remains.

“I have not aged since then, Darling. And how, might I ask, do you know the date I died?” His voice contains an edge, and I make sure to pour my water near the other girls as a layer of protection.

“Come on, you were a serial killer, did you seriously think that you wouldn’t be written about? I mean especially with you kill count of over three hundred and your constant broadcasting of your own crimes. Plenty of books were written about you, with every last detail of your life. It slipped my mind till now because out of the book, that section was just so underwhelming. You didn’t even have the highest kill count in your state, let alone the country.” I down the water and retreat to stand between Vaggie and Charlie and finally look at him. He is obviously trying to suppress anger and his eyes keep flickering between his normal eyes and dials. His hand is clenched so tight around the handle of the knife he is holding that it creaks in protest and deforms.

“You seem quite pleased with yourself, my dear. I must say your research skills are top notch, but your common sense is abysmal.” He takes a deep breath, distortion wavering before falling. “I will have you know, sweetheart, that quantity of victims isn’t important. What is important is quality, much like the quality time I will spend with you after you break.” He emphasizes the words with a rough chop of the vegetables.

“Yep, and the quantity of that time will be minimal, because I would rather disembowel myself then spend quality time with you.” My voice drips with disdain and I corral the two I am with into the dining room. Hearing a radio spike as we exit the room. Once the door closes, I can’t contain the smile that splits my features and I can see Vaggie grinning too.

“I never recommend egging him on, but damn that was satisfying!” She revels in seeing him so upset and Charlie just seems lost.

“I could tell he was mad, but why?” She hazards, Vaggie smirks.

“She called him both immature and senile in the span of a minute and then downplayed what he values most, his image. The egotistical prick didn’t stand a chance!” We all take our seats at the table, and I pull out my next embroidery project, to distract myself from whatever repercussions will probably occur. I slip into almost a state on meditation, focusing on the rhythmic movement of the needle. Breakfast time rolls around and the other residents filter into the room before Alastor, and we warn them that he probably in a bad mood. Alastor is the last to enter the room, placing plates full of food on the dining table as everyone immediately goes silent.

He takes his eat at the head of the table and those who are eating, serve themselves plates full of food. I continue my embroidery and I can feel his narrowed eyes burning into me. Feeling uncomfortable, I shift in my chair slightly, maintaining an apathetic expression. Angel feels my discomfort and as I take a sip of water he leans over and whispers to me.

“Heya toots, ya’ think smiles is overcompensatin’ for somthin’ with alla that ego?” Unable to hold in the laugh I instead choke on my water and start to cough. I can see five pairs of eyes trained onto me as I try to clear my throat. Angel is grinning from ear to ear, and I can see Alastor tilt his head in curiosity.

“Well, are you going to share with the class, dear? It is terribly rude to whisper at the table.” I shake my head, completely unable to repeat what Angel said. “Oh? You are unwilling to share, are you? Perhaps our effeminate fellow will elaborate!” He turns his eyes onto Angel who shrugs his shoulders.

“I was just sayin’ that with how much of a prick ya’ are ya’ probably overcompensatin’ for yours!” He bursts into laughter as radio static begins to screech, his smile downright strained as he grits his teeth. He snaps and Angel suddenly has a cloth binding his mouth, preventing him from speaking. Taking his chance Angel begins to moan suggestively, sending Husk sputtering and Charlie’s face goes bright red. I just focus back on my embroidery, sensing the impending blowup and holding back my laughter. Vaggie just rolls her eyes. Alastor stands abruptly and everyone looks up at him, his eyes narrowed. He slowly begins to circle the table.

“It appears that you lot have forgotten, just who it is that you seem to insist on disrespecting.” As he passes by each chair back he glares at the back of each person’s head, grin positively deadly. “Each and every one of you has things that are easily taken away.” He continues to make the rounds. He passes Husk first, then Angel with a wide berth, then Vaggie.
When he reaches the back of my chair at the opposite end of the table he stops abruptly. My hands are frozen mid-stitch as I feel him lean his full weight on the back of my chair. His hands grip my shoulders firmly and I can only stare ahead at the others at the table. Their eyes are all trained on the figure looming above me.

“Whatever, are you working on, darling?” He moves a hand off my shoulder and snakes it down to the embroidery in my lap, his chest contacting the back of my head as I am enveloped. My fingers begin to tremble slightly as his long fingers grab the back of my hand that is holding the embroidery hoop. He brings his other arm to rest across my chest, the hand resting on my opposite shoulder, effectively hugging my neck from behind as he lifts my hand up to his face to look closer at my embroidery. I am engulfed with the scent of blood, and I try to pull my hand out of his, but he applies more pressure on my bruised neck, causing me to flinch in pain.

“Hey, let go of her you f*cking creep!” Vaggie shouts and tries to rise but is slammed back into her chair. He chuckles deeply, directly into my ear, which cause me to recoil. The others are also held fast to their chairs, mouths moving with no words coming out. My heart starts to slam against my ribs as his arm around my neck begins to shift, hand following the curve of my shoulder.

“Now, why would I do that, my dear Vagatha! I quite enjoy being close to my darling little human~” He emphasizes with a squeeze of my shoulders. I begin to hyperventilate as he brushes against the shell of my ear, his breath causing me extreme discomfort, each one sending a shiver through me. He drops my hand holding the embroidery and rapidly bring his other arm around me, hand grasping my waist. He is now holding me in an embrace from behind, both of my arms pinned at my sides. “You are quite good at embroidery, my dear~ are there any other skills you are hiding in this delicate little frame?” He squeezes me tightly and I feel like he is a boa constrictor. I can hear the rushing of blood in my ears, and I feel lightheaded. “That wasn’t a request darling~. I need to know what my little wife can do! Why don’t you tell me your skills, before I,” his voice drops to a purr in my ear, I know am the only one who can hear it, “go further.” The fingers on my waist grip harder and my eyes widen in fear.

“I-I am able to s-speak Latin, Greek, French, and Italian…I c-can play violin and piano, as w-well as sing. E-embroidery, I can also do that, as w-well as sew… I can do m-most handicrafts and I am g-good at strategy games and- r-research.” My quiet voice stutters out and the fingers on my waist begin to tap rhythmically to his perpetual background music.
“Is that everything, my dear?” I violently nod my head and I can feel his breath hitch. “It seems that I have picked quite the dame, haven’t I?” His voice is breathy in my ear. “Now that we both know each other a bit more intimately, one more question, sweetheart.” He pauses as if debating whether to ask the question or not before he brings a hand up to brush his thumb against my bottom lip. “Since you are such a shy little thing, have you ever,” pausing and sounding almost unsure, “kissed anyone?” My fear somehow grows, and I can feel my vision wavering as I shake my head. He chuckles again before releasing me in one quick motion. My head spins and I can see him striding away, arms folded behind his back. I manage to catch myself by the table edge, instead of falling to the floor, as I try to calm my breathing down.

As the door to the kitchen closes, the others at the table are released from whatever held them back, and they all rush towards me. Vaggie stabilizes be in my chair and Cindy runs me through breathing exercises as Angel paces and Husk curses under his breath, pointedly looking away.

“What the hell did he say! He started to f*cking whisper and no one could hear!” at this Husk coughs awkwardly and his ear twitches.

“I heard what the bastard said…but I don’t want to repeat it…” He looks extremely uncomfortable and Vaggie rages. My breathing begins to slow, and I request a glass of water, my throat burning. Cindy rushes off and grabs a glass, when she hands it to me, I sip it slowly.

“H-he asked me what skills I had and threatened that if I didn’t answer he would…” My face pales and I sip more water. My breathing begins to speed up again and my knuckles turn white with the force of my grip. Vaggie shushes me.

“Breathe Ellie, you don’t need to tell us, we get the picture.” She pats me on the back and glances up at Angel who is biting his fingernails. Cindy looks me in the eye.

“Ellie. Do you remember the agreement we made back in the human world? In the summer of 2015?” Everyone seems confused at this sudden seeming shift of topic. My eyes widen and my breathing slows down to a more manageable pace. I nod. Her eyes burn with determination. “Don’t hesitate to act on that, at any point. All you need to do is say the codeword.” Her reassurance helps me regain my composure, and I sit up straight once more and force an apathetic face on.

“Thank you everyone, I am fine now.” I close my eyes and the gathered group backs away, sitting back in their seats. “Now that he is gone, why don’t we have an actually decent breakfast.” I continue my embroidery robotically and after exchanging a few glances they all take their seats. As they resume eating in silence, I remember that Charlie had something she wanted to say earlier. “Charlie, I believe you had something you wanted to share?” I say without looking up. She clears her throat as she remembers.

“Oh yeah!” She jumps up with forced joy. “I almost forgot! We are having a party to try to get more guests!” I look up from my work and tilt my head.

“Really? When?”

“It’s tomorrow evening! I just need some help with the decorations, and I was hoping you and Cindy could help…” She looks expectantly towards us, twiddling her thumbs behind her back. Vaggie smiles a small smile at her excitement. Her excitement lifts the mood semi-artificially. My mind refuses to be excited for something that could go so wrong, but I put on a happy face, pushing through my internal strife.

“I could certainly help. Cindy?” I permit her to make her own decision, I can see Angel glancing at me strangely, but I dismiss it.

“Sure, I can help.” She seems equally blasé about the idea of a party but puts on a smile.

“Angel, could you help us decorate?” Charlie bats her eyelashes at the spider.

“Ugh… I don’t wanna put some stupid decorations up!” He groans in displeasure and Vaggie rolls her eyes.

“Fine, just stay out of trouble. Husk, you just man the bar.” He chugs from his bottle nodding grumpily.

“So, nothing f*cking different.” Charlie seems to legitimately be excited now and rushes out of the room chattering about how she is going to decorate. The heavy silence returns. Angel slinks over to the now empty seat next to me and sits down.

“Toots, what did he f*ckin’ say.” Vaggie starts to protest but Angel shuts her down. “How do ya’ expect us ta’ help her if we don’t have all tha’ facts! We are already fightin’ an uphill f*ckin’ battle!” Vaggie scowls but reluctantly sits back down. I place my embroidery in my lap and I glance up at Husk. He seems to understand that I am uncomfortable with him in the room and gracefully leaves swigging from his booze bottle. As he exits, I sigh deeply, my fingertips buzzing with discomfort.

“He threated to ‘go further’ if I didn’t tell him my skills. I am not completely stupid, even I know what he meant. He also asked me if I have ever kissed anyone.” Angel snorts.
“I swear he is like a f*ckin’ kid getting’ bashful over kissin’ someone! I mean c’mon everyone has kissed someone at this f*ckin’ age!” I glare at him, and he chokes back his words. “Wait really toots? No wonder you are so much of a f*ckin’ prude.”

“I haven’t kissed anyone because I have never wanted to. Never once have I found someone attractive. The entire concept of relationships does not appeal to me.” I state matter-of-factly as Angel sputters.

“Wait, so you ain’t just some kinda’ suppressed prude?”

“Of course not. I have never even had a ‘crush’ on someone.” My fingers continue to tremble. “I have always been afraid that someone would take a fancy to me… I purposefully crafted myself to avoid that scenario. Now look where that has gotten me.” Cindy pats my back.

“So… what’s this ‘agreement’ ya’ mentioned? It sounds kind important.” Sighing I look to Cindy, and she understands that I want her to explain.

“Yeah, so, in the summer of 2015 there was a prick who had designs on Ellie. He was pretty insistent despite her shutting him down every time. Eventually we came up with an agreement to lie and say we were a couple, just to get him off her back. We agreed that, in order to make it convincing, when Ellie says the codeword, she was comfortable with kissing me to sell the lie. Luckily that guy got f*cked up before we had to carry out the plan when Ellie spread misinformation about his betrayal to the local mafia, but it seems like it might be helpful here, so I brought it up.”

“Holy sh*t toots, you are both the most badass and pansy ass bitch I know!” I smirk, deciding that it was a compliment. Vaggie grins and gives the plan a thumbs up.

“That might work, he seems to think of her as weirdly innocent so maybe her being in a relationship, real or not, will make him give up on her.” Vaggie says as Cindy pats my back and I force myself to stand. Vaggie stops the group before they filter out of the room.

“Ok, I know none of you are excited, or even care about this party, but… Charlie has worked really hard on this hotel and this party might be our one chance to convince more people to try it… I know there is a lot going on, but if you could at least put in as much effort as you can, I would appreciate it.” She turns her head, a light blush dusting her features. Drawing myself up to my full height and putting my hands on my hips.

“Vaggie, I wouldn’t dream of not doing a job to my best abilities. Even if I am not excited it doesn’t mean I can just slack off. There is no way I am going to inadvertently sabotage my benefactor’s event due to a personal problem, if it was not for everyone in this hotel, I would already be locked up in some dingy dungeon by the red freak!” Vaggie gives me a half-hearted smile, understanding my sentiment, but offput by my dark humor. Angel groans.

“Fine I’ll f*ckin’ help! Ya’ f*ckin’ intense sense a’ duty is makin’ me feel guilty!” He struts out of the kitchen, and we follow giggling. In the lobby, Charlie has pulled out boxes and boxes of decorations and even I balk slightly at the quantity.

“Oh my…” She spots us and rushes over.

“I was thinking that you and Cindy could sort through them, and I will start to put them up with Vaggie! Does that work?” She spots Angel and he tells her he will help put them up as well. I agree to my assigned task and decide it will be easier just to start. I make my self comfortable, by laying a pillow on the floor and sitting on it, while Cindy brings out a bean bag from her room. We begin to sort through the decorations, sorting them into piles by theme and then make a pile of unusable ones to be thrown away.

About two to three hours in to sorting, a familiar clicking echoes down the stairs, but we decide to just keep sorting. He doesn’t address us as he heads to the bar to pester Husk, but when he passes behind us, he traces his hand over my shoulders causing me to flinch away. He chuckles and sits at the bar towards the front of the lobby, talking to Husk. Me and Cindy make eye contact and I wink at her. She grins and launches into a perfectly delicious script.

“Um… Ellie. Do you have a moment to hear me out?” She pretends to shift nervously, and I can see Alastor’s ears perk up towards us, but he continues his conversation with Husk. I nod confirming he is paying attention. “I…um…I have liked you for a really long time and…” She is really hamming it up and I can see Alastor has frozen mid-sentence. “I was wondering if you would be my girlfriend!” She raises her voice a little in a passionate request. Alastor has stood up, the glass in his hand creaking, Husk seems really confused at his sudden outburst.
“Oh, Cindy! Of course, I accept!” I play the role of the meek receiver of affection quite well and I whisper the code word. Cindy smirks and I can see Alastor finally turning to face us as she approaches my face. He begins to storm over, but too little too late, Cindy lands a light peck on my lips, causing me to blush vibrantly. His fuming form finally reaches us after she has already drawn back, and we both turn to look up at him. His smile is strained, and he is gritting his teeth violently.

“Just what is going on here.” He hisses through his jagged yellow teeth, smile twitching at the corners. Cindy puts herself in front of me and I act bashful.

“I just confessed my love to my dear Ellie, and she accepted!” She smiles. “And we had our first kiss!” She glances back at me in faux passion.

“You are playing a dangerous game coveting what is mine, mongrel!” His antlers creaking and snapping.

“Last time I checked, she never consented to be in a relationship with you. She is now accounted for, smiles.” His eyes start flickering into dials and the fingers of his clenched fists begin to elongate. Cindy stands her ground as he becomes enraged.

“She is mine, you f*cking harlot! You have taken something that you shouldn’t have, mutt!” His transatlantic voice heavily distorted as he continues to shift into his monstrous form. At this moment Charlie and Vaggie rush out of the ballroom, eyes large in shock, witnessing his shift. He lunges forwards, grabbing for Cindy, who stumbles backwards into me. Charlie rushes over and assumes her demonic form, which surprised me. In a serious tone that I have never heard from her she admonishes him and he freezes, just moments from maiming Cindy.

“You can’t kill in my f*cking lobby! Remember your agreement! If you f*ck up on your end, I am sending Eleanor straight to one of my estates that is hidden. So, watch what you do now Alastor.” With a squeal of radio static, almost deafening, his monstrous form continues to fill the lobby, but after a twitch of his fingers brushing against Cindy’s stomach, he disappears. Somehow, we both made it through without a single injury. I am not sure how, but Cindy is still stoic, she doesn’t even seem phased by the outburst, but my fingers tremble as I remember his form looming over me and grabbing my calf. Charlie changes back to her normal form and sprints to our side. She checks us both over, ensuring we are uninjured, she seems relieved that I am just a little shaken up.

“What happened!” Vaggie dismisses her spear and jogs over to us. I take sips of my water while Cindy explains.

“We tried out the plan and he flipped the f*ck out, it’s the first time I have ever heard him say ‘f*ck’!” She seems tickled pink by his slip of the tongue before she assumes a victory pose.

“Although now, no matter what he does, he can never take her first kiss!” She winks and sticks out her tongue. I smile half-heartedly. Charlie and Vaggie just sigh, and we continue with the decorating.

The rest of the decorating goes well for the evening, we manage to sort through the entirety of the decorations and most of the ballroom is decorated. Tomorrow we will just need to put the finishing touches on, Charlie asks me to help make sure everything looks finished and refined. I agree to help her, and a wave of exhaustion hits me from the eventful day. My fingers ghost over the bruise on my neck as I head up to turn in for the night. Tonight, I am sleeping in Cindy’s room. I recall our fun evenings back in the living world in our cramped, but comfortable apartment.

On the days Cindy would get home late I would stay up for when she got home and we would eat together, playing games and chatting until the sun comes up. Then we would both crash and sleep in until mid-day. I feel a sense of satisfaction, in the sea of dread. As I brush my teeth and comb through my hair I think about the day in detail. That is the first time he has threatened me like that… He has only ever threatened me with pain and death… At least, no matter what happens, there is something he can’t take from me… I think to myself as I snuggle into my sleeping spot in Cindy’s room. I slip into a tense nightmare filled sleep.

Chapter 20: Party and a Deal

Notes:

Trigger warnings at the end to avoid spoilers. I'll add more chapters tomorrow when I get a chance, there are still plenty left. I think there are thirty two total, but maybe I'll pick up writing this one again if inspiration strikes me! I have a list of possible chapter hooks, so we'll see.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Waking up in the morning, I am stiff and sore from my tense sleep. My brain dwells on the nightmares as I force myself up. Heading to the restroom while Cindy is still snoring in her bed, I take my shower and stand still taking in feeling of the cold water. My eyes glaze over as my hand brushes against each of my bruises, trying to block out the memories. Eventually I shut off the water and towel off, careful of the tender places on my body. I remember the bruise treatment that Angel gave me and fish it out of my toiletries bag. Thank goodness Cindy packed this, I wouldn’t be able to go retrieve it otherwise. I twist off the lid and begin to apply it to each of my bruises, the minty scent hitting my nose. As I am applying the topical treatment over each and every bruise, I can hear the door to the restroom open. Jumping I try to cover myself, still in a state of undress.

Cindy stands in the doorway rubbing sleep from her eyes. Finally. Looking up she apologizes forcefully and moves to shut the door, but stops, her eyes trailing over just how bruised and battered my skin looks. I try to cover myself, unable to hide the bruises without my usual full coverage clothing. She shuffles in and runs her fingers along the worst ones, tears welling in her eyes as I finch away from the pain and the touch. Suddenly without a word she hugs me, tears trickling onto my bare shoulder. I awkwardly stand there, embarrassed at my underdressed state.

“Um…Can I please get dressed?” I manage to mumble out. She hurriedly detaches herself, apologizing profusely and leaves the restroom. As throw my clothes on, I make sure they are perfectly presentable. When choosing them I made sure to select a shirt with a high collar. I put my hair up and exit the restroom, only to find Cindy sitting on the edge of her bed looking serious. She looks up at me, taking in my put together, yet plain appearance, every single bruise and sign of injury is covered and expertly hidden. She hangs her head. I approach her and sit next to her on the bed.

“What’s wrong Cindy?” My quiet voice asks delicately, but she reacts as if she had just been shot. She wrenches her head up to look me in the eye, sending me flinching back at the sudden movement.

“What’s wrong! I’ll tell you what’s wrong! Look at yourself!” She pulls up the sleeve of my shirt forcefully, causing me to shake slightly. “You are so f*cking battered, and I didn’t even know! I know you told us each time, but seeing it is different…” She trails off with tears in her eyes. “You even hide the pain so well…Just running a finger along them causes you to flinch in pain, and yet you never show it…” She hangs her head again and I push my sleeve back down. I calm the jitters in my fingers and cross my arms over my chest.

“What else am I supposed to do?” My voice is strained. Cindy looks at me as if I am stupid.

“What? You could ask us for help!” Her face is lit up in righteous indignation, but I hold up a single hand, turning my face away.

“What, pray tell, will that do? If I show off the marks he made, it will only make him happy! It’s not like showing them off will heal them faster! My only option is to obscure my pain…What happens if I don’t? What if it sets off his sad*stic glee? What then…” I trail off a single tear rolling down my cheek. Cindy looks away, not having a response. We sit in a heavy silence for what felt like centuries. “Thank you…” My voice barely whispers. She looks at me in confusion.

“Why? I haven’t been able to do anything to help you! All I have done is make things worse!” I hug her and she stops her self-deprecating tirade in shock.

“Thank you for caring…If you didn’t care I would have broken a long time ago…” Her eyes tear up and she hugs me back.

“Thank you, Ellie…Thank you for caring about me… If you didn’t, I would be a much worse person. Even though I am in hell!” We both let out small laughs and the air clears slightly.

“Well, I think that we should figure out what to wear for that party!” I smile with obviously fake enthusiasm, causing Cindy to laugh. I help her pick something out of her absolutely monstrous closet. It feels like forever before she decides on a positively scandalous pink dress. It is sleek, with a low-cut neckline. The skirt portion has a large slit up to the mid-thigh, and I question the purpose of it. I do not have to wonder what I will wear because the last time Charlie left the hotel, she got me a dress for formal occasions. It fits my dressing style perfectly and I had no complaints, so I accepted it, and today will be the first time I get to wear it. It is a pale gray dress that has a floor length flowing skirt, perfectly obscuring my legs. The top portion is cinched in only at the waist, with long flowing sleeves and a high neckline. I think Angel said it was something a grandmother would wear! I laugh at the memory. We both lay out our dresses on her bed, along with the accessories to make it easy to change when getting ready. I have a simple necklace and a set of gray flats. Cindy has a set of sky-high heels in the same pink color, and a fluffy scarf thing.

Satisfied with our clothing, we exit the room and make our way down the stairs into the lobby. We spot Charlie rushing around, grabbing final decorations, and we jump in to help. We manage to squeeze in a quick breakfast and continue to place final touches on the ballroom. I am making the rounds, ensuring nothing is out of place, while Cindy runs off to grab the decorations that I request to refine a few areas. Angel is following me around, as he is my guard for the evening, and he keeps bitching about my changes. However, after I place the new items, he shuts up, unable to complain about how good they look. I hear the familiar clicking of footsteps and my heart drops, but thankfully they are not coming towards the ballroom. I think he is headed for the lobby, probably to harass Husk and Vaggie, who is making sure the lobby is presentable.

Eventually the time for the party nears and Charlie dismisses us to get dressed, while she and Vaggie head to their room to do the same. Cindy and Angel follow me to Cindy’s room as we chat about how we think the party is going to go. We reach her door, and she unlocks it, and we trail in after her, only for me to glance at the bed and freeze. Cindy follows my eyes and rushes over to the bed, picking up the dress laid out for me. It is not the same one I had left, but I do recognize it. It is the red dress I had rejected at Rosie’s. My blood freezes in rage and I snatch the dress out of her hands and bolt out of the room, with the other two close on my heels. In the heat of the moment, I rush down into the lobby, making a beeline for Alastor. He turns, his smile glowing.

“Why did you switch my dress.” I sternly ask him, rage overtaking my eyes. He chuckles looking over the dress.

“Whatever are you talking about, darling~ I have no clue to what you are referring!” He swings the microphone around in a circle, tapping me on the nose with his finger.

“You know exactly what I am talking about, give me my other dress back, you f*cking strawberry freak!” He raises an eyebrow and grabs the fabric of the dress I am shoving towards him.

“Strawberry freak…?” He whispers before snapping back into his normal cadence “Whyever, would you want a different dress, dear? This one is quite lovely! Certainly, much better than that boring one you had before! I especially love the color!” He places some of the fabric against my exposed wrist as if comparing the colors.

“I want my other dress back; you can have this garbage back.” I throw it at his feet. He reaches down and picks it up, gently forcing my hand open and placing it there.

“I don’t know where your other dress is darling! I guess you will just have to make do, won’t you?” His grin grows at my sheer rage. Cindy grabs me by the shoulder, trying to get me to back off. I huff.

“Fine.” I switch my attention to Charlie who is watching this whole spectacle. “I will not be able to attend the party, I apologize.” Her face drops and I feel a twinge of guilt, but I just can’t wear this dress. Alastor senses my guilt and worms his way into this exchange.

“Darling! This is such an important event for our dear Charlie.” He strides over and places his hands on her shoulders, making her obviously uncomfortable. “Would you really let your spite ruin it for her?” He sets his sharp chin on her head, causing her to shift out of his grasp, he dusts his suit off and adjusts his monocle.

“It’s fine Ellie, you don’t need to attend, I mean you aren’t a demon anyway!” She tries to reassure me, but I can sense the disappointment in her voice. I grind my teeth and suppress my raging inferno of anger.

“Fine. I will go.” Charlie seems surprised but Alastor’s grin widens, revealing black gums, he strides over and pinches my cheek lightly.

“Attagirl! Just grit your teeth and get right to it, darling!” He turns on his heel and walks off to bother Husk at the bar. My fingernails are almost piercing my palms with the sheer force I am clenching my fists. I don’t say another word and stomp back to Cindy’s room. She and Angel follow me, not trying to talk to me. I can see that he also left different accessories on the bed, next to where the dress was, I pick them up in a white knuckled grip and enter the restroom slamming the door behind me.
I open the two boxes, the first one containing a necklace made of rubies and garnets, the pendant being a pair of antlers. I grip each end of the necklace and pull, ripping it apart, sending gemstones scattering across the floor. I grab the pendant and I chuck it in the trash can. The next box contains a set of bracelets and earrings that match the now destroyed necklace. I give them the same treatment, leaving Cindy’s bathroom floor absolutely covered in precious gems and bits of twisted metal. Feeling myself calm down a bit from the wanton destructions and I put the dress on. The off-the-shoulder neckline, revealing the pale skin of my upper chest and neck, the bruise ringing my neck clearly. My shoulders and arms are also bare, sending shivers of disgust through me. The various bruises and the bandages on my arm, do not lend to this dresses appeal. The top portion fits close to the skin until it hits the waist, where it flares out into a full-bodied skirt coming to my mid-calf, the handprint bruise halfway visible.
Leaving the restroom, I shyly walk out into Cindy’s room to see her and Angel chatting, already dressed. Angel makes a strangled noise as he sees the marks littering my skin. He puts a hand to his forehead.

“What the f*ck is he plannin’ makin’ you wear that! I didn’t know you had so many bruises toots…” He looks away. Cindy seems angry at the situation but chooses not to speak. I bashfully look at my feet.

“I may have left a bit of a mess… There were also some jewelry items and I sorta…broke them…” Cindy chuckles and Angel gets up to look in the room behind me, whistling at the scattered gems and metal bits.

“Damn, I can tell those were expensive… You really went ta’ town huh…” I chuckle and nod.

“It got some of the rage out!” I say with a bright smile on my face causing them both to giggle. “Well, lets head out. I will put on the illusion ring only after everyone sees exactly what he has done.” I decide to turn this into an opportunity for spite, despite not wanting them to worry about me. We make our way down the hallway and when we reach the staircase, I can see Charlie, Vaggie and Husk look up at us from the lobby. I can hear a curse from Husk, and gasps from the two girls. I make sure to walk down slowly, making sure to show off the extent of my marked skin, hoping it takes away attention from the dress itself. As I reach the lobby with Cindy and Angel close behind, Vaggie and Charlie rush over.

“Oh my f*cking god…” Vaggie says as she hesitantly runs a hand over my arm. Charlie just stares in shock. Husks curse makes Alastor turn around in his barstool to look at my entrance. He rises and strides over. I cross my arms and glare at him.

“Darling~ that dress is quite the treat on you, however, I was not aware to the extent I have marked up your lovely skin! You should have said something, my dear, there’s no fun if you are damaged to this extent!” He runs a hand along my arm, causing me to jerk backwards but he grabs my elbow firmly, but not tight enough to bruise. “I must say it is a beautiful sight to see you so battered, but I prefer the contrast of only a few lovely marks against your otherwise unmarred skin!” He suddenly bites his thumb and writes a symbol on my arm as I try to jerk away. Vaggie tries to pull him away but he merely chuckles. “Come now, don’t you want our little human all healed up?” Charlie widens her eyes and a couple of gasps are heard.

“You can do that?” She asks. He smirks and gives her a condescending look.

“Why, of course! What would I be if I couldn’t do at least this much!” He continues to write symbols on my arm, and I stop struggling when he says he is healing me.

“Why didn’t you heal her before you freak!” Cindy shouts at him, causing him to chuckle again.

“Now where is the fun in that? I do enjoy seeing the marks I leave on her delicate skin; I was just unaware of the quantity! I much prefer to emphasize on quality.” He pointedly looks me in the eye. A wave of red and black washes over my skin, pausing over every single mark. As it moves on, unmarred skin is left in its wake. It lingers longer over the more severe injuries, taking longest on my arm. It even heals the scars on my hand, and I notice in horror that it also removes the scar on my shoulder from over ten years ago. As it wraps up he grabs my hand and lifts it up to his mouth, placing a kiss on my knuckles.

“There we go, sweetheart~ A fresh canvas! I must remember just how delicate you are!” I snatch my hand away from his mouth and retreat into the mass of spectators, they all ask me how I feel, and I give noncommittal answers, feeling a pair of eyes following me as I walk off. Deciding to sit at the bar until the party commences, I order a water and Husk gives me a pitying look. Ignoring it I just drink my water and mope.

The time of the party rolls around, and I slip on the illusion ring right before guests begin to trickle in. I decide that I will make the most of this event and gather some information, while trying to convince guests to try out the hotel. As I make my rounds, I introduce myself as a demon in the program who died from being shot, and the reason I was sent to hell was for smuggling drugs. A few demons seem curious as to why I am a deer demon, due to them being extremely rare. I find out that most other deer demons have been killed by the radio demon for ‘venison’ and I feel a shiver run through my spine. I explain that he probably hasn’t killed me because there is a no killing in the hotel rule. This seems to make some people interested in checking in. It seems safety from the radio demon, despite the proximity to him, is a valuable thing.

Multiple guests complain about his more frequent special broadcasts, and I react suitably apologetic to those who were near one of the recent ones. The evening seems to be going well and I methodically gather information about my enemy, as well as about the other overlords. Many demons who I speak to seem interested in the hotel, though mostly just for the free rooms and protection from erasure by Alastor.

Continuing with the evening, I purposefully ignore Alastor with every fiber of my being, but I can sense his eyes on me consistently. I can feel them growing heated every time I speak to someone, but I just dismiss it, until I see him approach one of the demons I was just talking too. He seems to be talking in his usual faux gentlemanly way, but the demon’s face seems to twist in fright, and he glances between me and Alastor. I can feel displeasure welling up in my stomach as I watch him approach each and every demon that I spoke to and repeat the process. After speaking to the last one he looks up and meets my eyes from across the crowd, his smile growing. He lifts a hand and beckons be with a single clawed finger.
Unhappy with this development and I resolve to keep ignoring him, until I see the scared demons all making their way to the exit. I turn back to him and scowl, making my way over to him through the crowds. His eyes follow my motions, and I can feel rage returning in my face. Finally, I reach where he is, and I cross my arms in barely suppressed anger.

“What the hell are you doing! You are scaring guests away you freak!” I whisper towards him, my voice dripping with rage. He shrugs his shoulders and grabs a flute of champagne from a table and snaps, turning it a dark red color and visibly more viscous. He takes a sip of it completely ignoring my question he asks one of his own.

“Darling~ Do you think it is wise to ignore me and instead speak with the rabble?” I raise an eyebrow at him.

“What are you talking about, I am just doing my job, unlike you.” I hiss through my teeth. “I even wore this hideous dress in order to help Charlie and you are ruining everything by scaring them off!” My scowl increases as he chuckles.

“My dear, I am simply protecting what is mine! However, you seem to want to make that much more difficult by giving me the cold shoulder!” He places a hand on my bare shoulder, and I try to shake him off to no avail. He leans down next to my ear and in a whisper, “I would recommend staying close to me for the remainder of the evening, darling~ We wouldn’t want me to get frustrated and make a splendid special broadcast here, would we?” Clenching my fists, my blood freezes.

“You wouldn’t!” I whisper aggressively at him, causing him to laugh.

“Of course, I would, doll! I am not feared for no reason, a fact you seem to keep forgetting!” He brushes a stray hair behind my ear, and I get a chill, seeing the dangerous look in his eyes. Thinking of how upset Charlie would be, I relent.

“Fine.” I take a seat at a nearby table. “But I am not moving from this spot.” He chuckles at my childish outburst and takes a seat across from me.

“Very well, my dear, I will entertain your little protest.” He sits theatrically and places his elbows on the table, resting his chin in his hands. I face my chair away from him and look into the crowd. Neither of us speak for the remainder of the night, I people watch and try to pick up on snippets of conversations, and Alastor just stares at the side of my face and occasionally he rises to speak to a demon that approaches him or me. At one point I see Angel look over at me with a concerned look, glancing at Alastor. I just wave my hand signifying that I have it handled. He reluctantly continues with the party.

The party begins to wrap up and demons begin to file out. I can spot Cindy and Angel taking care of a few intoxicated stragglers, kicking them out. One or two try to get fresh, but they are rudely disposed of. Charlie and Vaggie are starting to clean up the food area and Husk is wiping down the bar and taking stock of what alcohol they will need to replace. I am suddenly aware that I am alone with Alastor and all the residents are too busy to keep an eye over here in a secluded corner. Suddenly his gaze makes me much more uncomfortable, and I turn my head, seeing a glint in his red eyes of something I can’t place.

“It seems we are alone, my dear.” His voice purrs and I move to stand, but his hand shoots out and grabs my wrist, forcing me back into the chair. I try to yell at him, but I realize no sound comes out. My eyes widen in fear, but he doesn’t make a move yet. “Darling, it seems that you need to be reminded of a few things.” His grip increases in pressure. “You will be my wife. It would be so much easier to just make a deal with me, darling. All these paltry protests only serve in making your life much more difficult, they don’t change the result.” He uses his other hand to walk his fingers up my arm and toward my shoulder. “You seem to think that pretending to be accounted for will dissuade me, but alas you are mistaken, sweetheart. All it does is earn you a punishment.” He hisses and I remember the stunt we pulled when preparing for the party. I had forgotten it completely. His hand reaches my neck, and he gently runs a finger along my jugular. The hand works its way up into the roots of my hair, underneath my bun, and he suddenly forces my face closer to his.

I am met with his face at close quarters, his bloody breath directly hitting me full force. His red eyes are staring into mine with a sad*stic glint. Trying to use my full body to force my head back, He lets go of my wrist and shifts it to my shoulder, preventing me from using my body weight to break away.

“I think you know exactly what you’ve done that deserves a punishment, darling…” His eyes drop and they run over my lips. My struggling picks up, even with his tight grip, adrenaline filling my bloodstream. He jerks my face into his, colliding with my lips painfully as I keep trying to pull away wildly. The hand in my hair keeps my head steady, as he kisses me violently. I can feel his teeth bite my bottom lip causing me to gasp in pain slightly. He uses this chance to force his tongue into my mouth. I panic as his tongue writhes around my mouth painfully, and I can taste stale blood. I bite down hard, the taste of fresh blood filling my mouth mixing with the stale. He just chuckles and finally breaks away, leaving me gasping and coughing silently. The metallic taste of blood remains in my mouth as I can feel hot tears welling in my eyes. I bring my hand, trembling, to my lip and I can feel that his teeth have pierced around my bottom lip, and my fingers come away with blood. Turning my head, I can see he has blood staining the yellow teeth of his smile. He brings a finger to my face, still holding my head in place. He traces the outline of his teeth marks on my bottom lip and brings his finger up, licking off the blood. I can see his tongue is already completely healed.

Suddenly he rises and circles around the table and bends down bringing a thumb to stroke my cheek as I am shaking violently in shock, trying to prevent myself from bursting into tears. He wraps his arms around me, and I go limp from pure exhaustion and fear. He lifts me up and spins, sitting on the chair I just vacated. He places me on his lap and his arms completely encircle me, pushing my head into his chest. I struggle weakly, but I can’t even shift him. He begins to stroke my hair as I tremble with disgust and abject terror.

“I know it hurts, darling, but I wouldn’t need to be so violent if you just gave in.” He whispers softly in my ear and my skin crawls. “You wouldn’t need to live in such fear if you just make a deal with me, I can treat you with a much gentler hand.” My tears threaten to spill as the scent of blood makes my stomach turn and the throbbing of my injured lip begins to give me a headache. “If you agree to be my little wife, you can live in comfort, without a single thing to worry about. I will care for your every need, darling, all you need to do is obey me and you can have it all! The only thing you must do is give up your little protest and submit.” He squeezes me tighter in his arms and after I gasp, I realize that I can speak now.

“I don’t want to be with you at all. Your presence makes me physically ill I don’t want to be dependent on anyone, let alone you.” My voice is hoarse and quiet, filled with raw emotion. He merely chuckles and continues to stroke my hair rhythmically, his other hand rests on my shoulder gently.

“That must be difficult, darling! I promise I can feel your pain, but unfortunately you must get used to me. You do not have a choice in being mine, only how painless the process is for your delicate form.” He squeezes my shoulder lightly and I rally my strength. Inhaling as deep as possible I let out a wordless ear-piercing scream. He startles and let’s go on reflex, holding his hands to his ears, and I fall to the floor. The scream alerts everyone in the ballroom and as I crawl backwards, I can hear them running to where I am. He sighs and rests his chin on his hand, elbow rested on the table. “I will give you some time to make your decision, darling. You should clear your head and think this through, I know you're a clever dame.” Cindy is the first one to reach me and I grab onto her legs, shivering, and bury my face into her dress. More people arrive but I can’t see who they are.

“What the f*ck did you do!” I hear Vaggies voice screaming. I can feel Cindy drop to her knees next to me and place her hand on my back. She embraces me and I bury my head further into her clothing.

“Nothing much!” Alastor’s tone is flippant, and I shudder violently.

“Nothin’! You call this nothin’, she is f*ckin’ terrified! What happened!” Angel’s voice cuts in with a sharp edge. I can hear a deep chuckle resounding from Alastor, and Cindy sooths me with her voice.

“It’s ok, we are here. Shhh, it’s over…” Her repetitive words sooth me only slightly, I can feel that blood is smearing on her dress, and I pale again. I can’t show my face! They will know what he did! I lift my violently shaking hands to my face, completely obscuring it from view and standing up suddenly. Cindy reels but I force my way past and run to the closest room with a door, hiding my face from view, blood seeping through my fingers slightly. Voices call out to me, but I ignore them all and as I enter a small closet and slam the door behind me. I scramble to put my full weight on the door and fasten the lock, finally bursting into tears.

………….

Back at the scene of the event, everyone watches as Eleanor freezes and lifts her shaking hands up to her still obscured face. Cindy is about to ask what happened when she shoots up and bolts away as if being chased. Shock at the unexpected development colors everyone’s faces, save Alastor who seems to have expected it. Slowly Angel looks at Cindy and lets out a short gasp, causing Cindy to look down at where Eleanor had been, what she sees is blood. Her face goes pale, and she rushes after Eleanor.

“Blood! What did you do!” Vaggie has drawn her spear and Angel draws his guns. Alastor lifts his hands in mock defense.

“I don’t know what you are talking about! Why don’t you ask the lady!” His smile is absolutely joyous.

“What the f*ck did you do you radio bastard!” Husk shouts towards him, causing Alastor to raise an eyebrow.

“Husker my friend, you too? I have already said that I don’t know what you lot are talking about. I was merely comforting my dear little human when she screamed out of nowhere!” His eyes go half lidded and he leans back in his chair nonchalantly.

“That’s bullsh*t and you know it smiles! Why were you comfortin’ her! I don’t even think it’s possible for a monster like ya’ to comfort anyone.” Angel has a deadly look on his face and Vaggie draws in as well, threatening Alastor with her spear.

“Why I am not one to kiss and tell like you, my effeminate fellow! I believe that is for the lady to divulge!” Angel freezes, comprehending the gravity of his words. He suddenly holsters his guns and sprints off in the direction Eleanor and Cindy went.

“What the f*ck does that mean! Speak in plain English you prick!” Husk shouts gruffly, hands clenched. Vaggie’s face suddenly dawns in comprehension and Charlie is still confused.

“You monster! Why was she bleeding!” Vaggie shouts before Alastor can respond to Husk and he sighs at the interruption.

“I merely got a bit…carried away.” He tilts his head languidly and shrugs as Vaggie’s face turns bright red.

“You won’t get away with this you talk show sh*tlord!” Husk and Charlie are still lost, but they understand that something bad has happened and support Vaggie.

“Oh? I won’t get away with this? I have not broken a rule in our little agreement. Even if I had I would like to know what exactly you think you would be able to do about it.” He stands and towers over the white-haired demoness, tapping his fingers on her spear. She grunts in frustration.

“I don’t care if it wasn’t in the agreement! You crossed a line!” Alastor’s eyes narrow.

“And what line have I crossed, my dear Vagatha. Feel free to enlighten those of dimmer minds.” She seems to reel at having to actually say what he did out loud.

“You…You…You forced her to kiss you didn’t you!” She manages to get it out after some fumbling, causing Charlie to gasp. Husk smashes the bottle of liquor he is holding on the ground and holds a hand to his head.

“I believe you deserve a gold star my dear Vagatha!” He snaps and materializes a small golden star sticker that he sticks to her spear in condescension. She screeches in wordless rage and puts a hand on his hip, inspecting the claws on his other hand in feigned boredom. His half-lidded eyes suddenly dart over to the fuming Vaggie and the corners of his smile twitch larger. “I must say, she is quite the sheba!” This sends Vaggie over the edge and she lunges at him, he remains perfectly still as a shadow springs up in front of him, the spear is sucked in and disappears. “You must be careful with such sharp objects, my dear Vagatha! Who knows what I would do if I thought I was being attacked even when I haven’t broken a single rule.” He slowly leans in further with each word, until he is face to face, noses almost touching. The scent of both fresh blood and stale, hitting her in the face. Charlie grabs Vaggies shoulder and pulls her back, glaring at Alastor.

“Vaggie, we can’t fight him. Not now.” Vaggie breaths deeply still fuming but not attacking. “You. You may not have broken a rule, but forcing yourself on someone is not acceptable! I am adding it to the agreement.” She says firmly. He co*cks his head with a snap.

"If you wish to alter the agreement, then what makes you think I will accept it without an added benefit for me?” Charlie takes a deep breath and resolves herself.

“I will shake on it.” His eyebrow shoots up and Vaggie balks.

“Charlie are you sure!” Charlie holds up a hand. “I am the princess of hell. Eleanor being brought here was a mistake on my part and I promised to protect her. My word is paramount Vaggie. I can handle myself to make a deal with him.” Vaggie looks unhappy, but suddenly her eyes shoot open.

“No. I will shake on it. You can’t endanger yourself due to your position, but I can.” Charlie tries to stop her, but she stomps up to him.

“Alastor, I want to make a deal with you.” His grin reveals black gums, and he snaps, transporting them both to a study, a dark desk lies in the center of the room with bookcases edging the back wall. Most of the tomes are in French and English, but some are in another language that she can’t identify. What is more concerning is an entire ceiling high bookshelf dedicated to both single sheets of paper and some are multiple sheets bound together with a staple. Alastor catches her looking at the shelf that is filled from floor to ceiling. His eyes glow in the dim room, sending chills up her spine.

“I see you are interested about my shelves, my dear! From the look on your face, I assume you already know what they are?” He pinches her cheek causing her to slap at his hand that is already gone.

“Deals.” She whispers, causing him to appear next to the shelf suddenly, and flip through a few of the papers.

“Correct my dear! Though these papers are quite powerless! They merely serve as a copy that I can remind my partners with! They are also fun to go through when I am looking for entertainment. These are all the active contracts, contracts belonging to the erased are all stored in a storage closet,” He appears next to a door in the study and opens it, “here!” He reveals a long hallway of bookshelves, all filled to the brim with deals. No end can be seen from the door. Vaggie’s jaw drops and a sense of dread flows over her. His grin takes on a sad*stic quality as he shuts the door in her face.

“All right my dear Vagatha,” He leans in, eclipsing her body with his, “let’s get to business!” She prevents him from continuing his spiel with a forceful tone.

“I want a written contract first, then the handshake.” He rolls his eyes but materializes a piece of paper and a fountain pen. He strolls over to his desk and sits, giddy with excitement.

“All right dear, you lay out what you want and then I will ask my price!” She feels chills, but stomps over to his desk, intending to watch him write every word.

“Ok, bastard, the original agreements terms are applicable. No force-feeding hotel guests, no torturing hotel guests, no killing hotel guests.” He writes down the terms in a skilled hand waiting for her added terms. “Now the added terms, no forcing yourself on hotel guests.” She states clearly but he pauses before writing it out.

“Now my dear, do you not want to elaborate what exactly that term means. It would be a shame if I didn’t have the same definition of things…” His eyes glow with an undefinable quality.

“Fine. No forcing hotel guests to kiss you and…” She pauses before adding the next part, glaring at him. “No forcing hotel guests to engage in intercourse with you.” Her face is deadly serious, and he seems frozen for a second before coughing awkwardly and writing down the term. He finishes writing out the terms on her end before beginning to write out his own.

“Alright, now, for my additions. I will always be permitted on hotel premises,” Vaggie nods, “I will not be prevented from speaking to or interacting with Eleanor,” Vaggie’s eyes widen at him using her name properly for the first time, he smirks and continues, “Finally, I will not be prevented from taking Eleanor away from the hotel if she becomes bound to me in any way.” Vaggie narrows her eyes.

“Explain.” He chuckles.

“Let’s say she agrees to a deal with me or accepts my courtship, then I will not permit others from interfering with me taking away what is mine!” His grin is positively demented and Vaggie shivers but agrees to the term.

“Fine. She will never agree to make a deal with you anyway, and she certainly will never ‘accept your courtship’ or whatever.” Alastor just laughs and adds the final stipulation of the contract.

“If the contracted breaks their end of the contract, their soul will be acquired by the contractor. If the contractor breaks their end of the contract, they will be unable to set foot on the hotel premises. Sound fair, my dear Vagatha?” His eyes sparkle.

“No, but I expected something like this. If you want to keep that clause in, I want one more thing.” His eyebrow rises and he motions for her to continue. “I don’t want anyone to know about that clause. They would all feel all too guilty or angry if they knew.” She bites her lip and Alastor chuckles, adding the clause.

“All right, my dear! Now sign your name here,” he motions towards the bottom of the finely written contract. She signs her name, and he snatches it back, signing his name as The Radio Demon causing Vaggie to raise an eyebrow. He shoots up out of his chair and sends the pen and contract into a shadow while dusting of his suit and adjusting his monocle. He strides towards the white-haired demon, coming to a full stop in front of her, back straight as a rod, towering over her. He looks her over through narrowed eyes, grin wide as ever. He holds out a hand towards her, lit up in a green glowing light. Alastor’s face is lit up from below in a chilling way, as he purrs, “Do we have a deal then?”

Vaggie gulps, her throat dry. She lifts her hand up to his, hesitating just before, “Will it hurt?” She mumbles, he chuckles quietly.

“Of course.” The simple words cause her to sigh, before grabbing his hand and shaking it, sending a burning pain shooting through her veins. She passes out from the pain, being caught by the thin demon in red, who lays her out on the couch in his office. He keeps it around specifically for cases like this, anyway. While waiting for her to awaken, he thinks back over the evening.

His mind dwells on the feeling of Eleanor's delicate little body flush against his chest, her weak struggling and the rapid beating of her heart. It seems comforting the fragile dame makes her tremble more! I never thought that a delicate touch could cause so much fear, I will need to explore this when she is mine. His mind strays to the kiss and he blushes heavily, his clawed finger brushing against his lips. She always surprises me! What an idea, to bite me! She almost severed my tongue, I was so surprised, but the fight is half the pleasure. I can only imagine the fight she will put up on our wedding night! Now that is something to look forward to… His blush somehow deepens, and he shakes the images out of his head. That is much too indecent to think of, get a handle on yourself man! Suddenly Vaggie stirs on the couch, and he snaps to attention, strolling over to the couch and looming over her.

“Good morning, my dear! You were not out for very long.” Vaggie rubs her eyes, before sitting up grouchily. She just glares at him before rising and they make their way back to the hotel.

Notes:

Trigger warning, forced kissing.

Chapter 21: Aftermath and Mimzy's

Notes:

I had completely forgotten about this chapter, but it's one of my favorites! Please enjoy!

Chapter Text

My fingers pick at the skirt of the dress, unraveling the red threads. My other hand rests on my lips, trying to staunch the bleeding from my lip. The dark room comforts me as I steadily destroy the dress. My brain plays the previous events on replay, and I am filled with disgust every time. My stomach is twisting and turning, threatening to vomit. Pain shoots through my face and I rip a piece of my dress off and use it to place over the wound. My tears are constantly flowing, but I remain silent.

I can hear Cindy on the other side of the door begging me to come out, but I can’t let her see what he did to my face. My fingers reach up again, still finding the wound, and causing a fresh wave of disgust.

“Ellie, you have to come out, you’re bleeding!” Her voice pleads. My mind spirals, she knows I am bleeding…does she know what he did? No. No. No. No. NO. My hands grip the side of my face as I begin to rock back and forth, panic sprouting in my chest again. Cindy’s voice softens and I can hear her speaking to another voice quietly.

“Toots…I’m sorry I wasn’t there…I was supposed ta’ keep an eye out for ya’ tonight, but I f*cked up.” I can feel something heavy hit the door and slide down. My fingers resume picking at the dress, ripping off chunks and sending red fabric all over the room. The destruction of something he forced me to wear is cathartic. “Ya’ need ta’ come out toots… Hiding in tha’ closet ain’t gonna help ya’, trust me…” I find myself weakly chuckling at his joke.

“I-I don’t want you to see…” My hoarse voice ekes out, as I rip off another portion of skirt. The once calf length skirt is now to my mid-thighs. Angel sighs and Cindy sounds worried as she whispers to him. He shushes her.

“I know what he did.” His words hit me like a truck, and I fall back into hyperventilating, and rocking back and forth, my back hitting the door hard on every back swing. I can hear them shuffling in the hallway at the loud banging coming from the door. My fingers dig into my shins leaving bright red marks. Remembering the taste of stale blood, I can’t prevent myself from vomiting in the corner of the room. I rip off another piece of dress to wipe my face off.

“What are ya’ doin’ in there toots! Ya’ need ta’ come out, if we treat it soon it won’t scar…” White hot fear rips through my mind at the idea of it scarring, marking my face forever. My hands scramble to the door handle and I unlock it. Angel slowly opens it, gasping at the mess of red fabric. Thankfully he doesn’t mention that I vomited in the corner, as he puts a hand on my shoulder causing me to jump. I relax slightly, knowing it is Angel and not Him. He gently picks me up off the floor, my hands shoot up to cover my mouth before either of them can look. As I am lifted the tattered edges of my dress hang down limply, shedding threads onto the hallway floor as he silently carries me to his room. Cindy takes a look into the room and shoots off a quick text before closing the door and following after us. My breathing hasn’t calmed, but I am able to calm some of the shaking.

Arriving to his room, he opens the door with another one of his arms and walks inside. He sets me down on the edge of his bed and I curl back up into a ball. Cindy shuts the door gently behind her and sits down next to me. She is about to pat my back when she sees me flinch. She instead puts her hand down awkwardly back onto the bed. Angel is rifling through his drawers and a tense silence hangs over us. Gently rocking back and forth, my breathing begins to calm. My hands around my shins begin to relax a bit as well.

Angel finally finds what he was looking for and approaches cautiously to not spook me. He pulls up a chair to in front of me and takes a seat with a sigh. My eyes peak out from the comfort of my knees, and I can see him running a hand through his hair, debating on what to say.

“I am going to need to see ya’ face ta’ treat it…” He tries, and I hesitantly begin to release my legs and sit cross legged on his bed, my hands still covering my face.

“Ok…You can’t say anything… I already know it’s bad…” My hands tremble as I pull them away from my mouth. Cindy gasps and Angel sighs painfully. I can feel blood still seeping down my face, but it has slowed significantly, and I can see my hands soaked in red. Gently Angel raises a hand holding a cloth. I jerk back a bit but force myself to allow him to clean the area. Pain shoots through my face as he wipes the blood away with the damp cloth. He sighs again.

“I’m sorry… you might need stitches; it goes clean through ta’ tha’ otha’ side…” My hand shoots to the wound, feeling around it. “Stop pokin’ at it, it’ll make it worse.” He stands up to find a needle and suitable thread. I can see Cindy trembling with a mix of rage and sorrow. I look at her and I can see her eyes glancing down at the wound. My shoulders fall and I know that this isn’t something I can hide. The others are all going to see it… I can feel my eyes moisten and a trickle of tears rolls down my already tear stained cheek. I reach my hand out and fumble for Cindy’s hand. She gladly grasps my small pale hand in her large grey one, the warm soft fur comforting on my clammy skin.

Angel finds what he is looking for and sits back down. He looks me in the eyes. "This is gonna’ hurt. I have an anesthetic if you want it, but it’ll knock ya’ out cold for hours… It’s up ta’ ya’ toots.” I think for a moment before my quiet words come out.

“I’ll take it.” He sighs in relief and hand me a set of two pills and a glass of water. I put the pills in my mouth and go to drink the water, but the pain stops me, so I just swallow them dry. A bitter taste fills my mouth, but it is relieving to have a taste other than blood on my tongue. He leans me back and gives me time for the sedative to set in and after about half an hour, I drift into dreamless slumber.

I come out of the anesthesia slowly, my body still slightly numb. Slowly blinking my eyes, the ceiling of Angel’s room comes into view. The sharp pain from my lip has now turned into only a dull throbbing. I raise my heavy feeling arm to my mouth, running my fingers lightly along the wound I can feel a line of stitches. I guess I really did need quite a few stitches…Ugh…Shifting my weight to my side I curl up on the bed, causing someone to stir in a chair next to me.

“You’re awake! How are you feeling Ellie?” Cindy’s kind voice envelops me, and I feel a rush of relief. Trying to sit up on my own, my heavy limbs make it difficult. Cindy’s soft hands help guide me to a seated position and I look around taking in Angel’s room.

“I feel like trash…” I give her a small smile when she frowns. “Other than that, my lip hurts a lot less.” She seems relieved and hands me a glass of water and offers me some pain killers. Looking over the pills I debate with myself. Do I want to take pain killers? I hear that they can be addictive… Cindy sees my hesitation.

“If you aren’t comfortable taking them, you don’t have to, I know you don’t like taking medicine in general! If you feel like you need them at any point, feel free to ask.” She opens a drawer and slips them back into it before shutting is with a faint click. She seems tired and I wonder how long I have been out.

“How long have I been out?” She holds a hand to her chin and checks the time on her hellphone.

“It’s been six hours, the stitches only took about thirty minutes, so you have been resting for the rest of the time. I got you a change of clothing but didn’t want to help you change without your permission…” Looking down at the shredded red dress I can feel a shudder run through me at how much of my pale thighs are showing. I try to get up to change, only to be met with unsteady feet. Cindy catches me before I tumble over, and she sets me on the edge of the bed. “Take your time Ellie, just give yourself a few minutes to regain your orientation as the anesthetics wear off.” I nod and sit at the edge of the bed for a minute or two before I feel comfortable enough to stand without stumbling.

I make my way into the restroom, unaided and she hands me my favorite nightgown before I shut the door. Hastily I rip the red dress off my back, destroying it completely. I spend a few minutes tearing it to pieces, making sure that no hint of its previous appearance remains, before slipping on my plain cotton nightgown. The slightly rough fabric feels comfortable on my skin compared to the silken gown that I was forced to wear, and I feel a sense of normalcy fall over me once more.

I decide to finally look into the mirror I have been avoiding ever since walking into this room. Slowly I raise my head to examine the damage and am met with a solid ring of sharp teeth marks right under my bottom lip. They have been stitched up neatly with some white thread. The rest of my usually put together appearance is shattered as well. My hair is a mess, the bun is falling apart, hair flying off everywhere, and my eyes are puffy and red. I hastily pull the hair tie off, it tugs on bits of hair and pulls out a few strands. My hair falls to my ankles and is a bit less of a mess, but I borrow a comb and comb it out to my usual standard. I run some cold water in the sink and wet a cloth, applying it to my puffy eyes. The cool sensation is comforting, and I leave it on until the coolness leaves the cloth. Sighing I set it aside and I can see the puffiness has subsided to an agreeable amount.

Feeling much more stable I exit the restroom, to find Cindy talking with Angel. He looks up and looks relieved. “I’m glad you’re up toots…I got some news.” He motions for me to sit on the bed and Cindy sits next to me, I don’t flinch away when she rests a hand on my back this time, and she seems slightly relieved. He seems careful of my mental state as he starts, but I can tell I have snapped out of my panicked state, when his words don’t set me off trembling. “So, um, ya’ remember what happened I assume?” I nod my head and my hand strays to my stitches. “Yeah, so Vags made sure that he can’t do that…or more than that, ever again while you are in the hotel.” My body feels a wave of relief wash over me, but I tilt my head in confusion.

“How? He doesn’t strike me as someone to agree to that without something in return?” Angel sighs and holds a hand up to his forehead, running his hand through is hair.

“She made a deal.” My heart drops and I pitch forwards, my head slamming into my hands.

“No! Why would she do that! What did she have to give up!” Cindy prevents me from falling off the bed and Angel places a hand on my shoulder.

“Whoa calm down toots! She didn’t sell her soul ta’ smiles! It is basically tha’ same agreement that they had before, just with a couple of extra terms and a handshake.” Guilt still fills my gut, but relief slowly fills my veins. “Tha’ original terms bein’ no killin’ hotel guests, no force-feedin’ hotel guests and no torturin’ hotel guests. Tha’ extra terms are that he can’t force a hotel guest to kiss him, and he can’t force a hotel guest ta’… ya’ know… go further.” Ice fills my veins at the thought that he could have tried to do much more, the thought didn’t even cross my mind, and I feel grateful that Vaggie thought ahead and prevented that. “In return the previous terms were that we can’t prevent him from talkin’ ta’ ya’ and we can’t prevent him from interactin’ with ya’ either. Tha’ new term he added sounds f*cked up, but I don’t think it will ever come into play toots.” He waits for me to acknowledge that before continuing. “He can’t be prevented from takin’ ya’ away if ya’ become bound ta’ him in ay way. He specifically mentioned a deal, or ya’ acceptin’ his f*cked-up courtship.” I nod my head slowly. There is no way I will ever make a deal with him, and I certainly won’t ever agree to marry that monster.

Angel seems relieved that I didn’t panic, and he fluffs his chest awkwardly. Taking a few deep breaths, I take in that I now have a safety net. My mouth twists into a grin, ignoring the pain of my stitches, and the two next to me look surprised.

“As long as I never give in to that monster, there is nothing he can do now, is there?” Cindy chuckles and Angel grins.

“That’s f*ckin’ right toots, he wanted a deal so bad that he forgot that there is no f*ckin’ way you are going to go with him willingly. Ever.” We erupt into giggles; a levity works its way into my tired soul.

“Yeah, he f*cked himself over with that one! Ellie is the most stubborn person I know!” Cindy pats my back and I devolve into laughter. I know this feeling of victory won’t last forever but might as well savor it. Angel suddenly snaps up with a bright look in his eyes.

“I gotta f*ckin’ idea! Why don’t we take Ellie here for a girl’s night out in celebration!” Cindy jumps up with a joyous shout.

“That’s a great idea! It would do you some good to get out of this hotel before you go stir crazy!” My eyes widen, hallway in excitement, halfway in trepidation.

“That sounds fun, but can we do that?” I ask in hesitation, causing Angel to laugh uproariously.

“What’s stoppin’ us toots? I gotta perfect place in mind! I can even hook ya’ up with some f*ckin’ nonalcoholic drinks since ya’ so borin’!” He laughs at his own joke, and I smile a little. “Ya’ can dress up a little, really let loose!” My head is spinning with the idea of dressing up.

"But I don’t want to show a lot of skin…” Cindy is the one to strike down my weak protest this time.

“C’mon you don’t have to show skin to be drop dead gorgeous Ellie! Wouldn’t it be nice to dress up at least once in your life, just to say you’ve done it? I know you don’t see it, but you are a straight up hottie! You can just have fun rejecting all the dipsh*ts, and we can make sure they get the message!” I feel a bit unsure about the idea of people trying to flirt with me, but it would feel nice to be able to reject them successfully, unlike a certain demon in red. If they are going to make sure that I am safe, why shouldn’t I go?

“Ok, I’ll go.” Steeling my nerves, I am immediately overwhelmed by my two friends arguing over what I should wear and how they should do my makeup. I decide to just let them take over since I am already lost in their back and forth about dress styles, jewelry and makeup looks. I feel like I am hit with a whirlwind of fabrics, Cindy keeps running out of Angel’s room to her own to grab things. After what feel like ages, they pick a dress and start on my makeup.

“We definitely gotta hide this…” My heart falter as I remember the glaring wound on my face, but they both seem nonplussed. “Toots, don’t worry about it, I ain’t been in this profession this long to not know how ta’ hide a few blemishes!” They get to work and smear pastes and powders on my face, half of which I have never heard of. After they are done, it all feels shockingly lightweight, though I am a bit uncomfortable with the feeling of the makeup. Cindy rushes off one more time to get a pair of shoes, saying that she has some that don’t fit her, but are small enough to fit me. Once she returns, I am met with a pair of black high heels that are not too tall. They have a sleek look to them, with no real frills. I put them on my feet and they fit fine, just a little loose in the toe, but we stuff a sock in there to adjust.

Finally, ready Angel tells me to close my eyes and stand up. I do so, and he leads me to where I know he has a full-length mirror. Opening my eyes, I am shocked at the person in the mirror. My long black hair is perfectly styled and coifed around my face, somehow not falling below my shoulders despite the quantity of it. They have affixed false horns within my mass of hair, giving me the benefit of the doubt without having to wear the illusion ring. The black dress I am wearing is certainly full coverage, with long sleeves, but it is anything but plain. It hugs my curves before trailing into a flowy skirt that falls just below my ankles, the tips of the heels poking out from beneath it. The bodice of the dress is lined with a tasteful quantity of black rhinestones, and a lacy black shawl is draped over my shoulders. I am wearing a pair of black gloves, making my pale throat and face the only skin showing. The makeup they decided on matches the overall black outfit, a coat of black lipstick coats my lips, and I am shocked that I cannot see the wound below my bottom lip. My eyeshadow is a smokey look and my face is contoured to bring out its natural shape. As the cherry on top, Cindy slips a pair of false jagged teeth on top of mine, they are a little uncomfortable, but fit snug enough to not get in the way or cause me to lisp.

I feel like some sort of femme fatal, dressed head to toe in black. Or maybe a black widow who has a long string of dead husbands. I chuckle to myself. I would sure like to have one suitor to wind up dead. Spinning around, Angel and Cindy clap and congratulate themselves on a job well done. They start to discuss what they are going to wear when a familiar inconsistent knock resounds on the door. The mood instantly falls and Cindy steps in front of me, obscuring me from the door, while Angel groans and moves to open it just a crack.

“What tha’ f*ck do ya’ want.” He sticks his head out to bitch at the demon at the door.

“Why, I was just checking in on my darling little human, of course! I am aware she is hiding away in here like a scared little rabbit!” Angel grunts and I feel chills running up and down my spine.

“She doesn’t want ta’ f*ckin’ see ya’. We are getting’ ready ta’ go out.” Angel’s tone is firm causing the other voice to chuckle.

“Going out? Wherever too, my effeminate fellow! It is not as if that shy little thing would agree to go anywhere that you frequent!” Angel makes a noise like he is trying not to sound too smug.

“Actually, that is exactly where we are goin’ smiles, we’re havin’ a girl’s night out at tha’ club!” I can hear a record scratching sound, muffled through the door.

“And, why, might I ask, are you bringing her to such a place? She would be nothing but uncomfortable!” His voice has a dangerous tone, and I can see Angel stiffen slightly. I decide to voice my own opinion, and Cindy doesn’t move to stop me, giving me a thumbs up. I strut over to the door and Angel steps to the side when he notices I am there. Alastor begins to speak again but I throw the door open all the way and place my hands on my hips glaring at him. He freezes and his eyes slowly drag over my appearance, his smile twitching.

“I agreed to go with them. You do not control me.” I stand there and wait for his retort. He suddenly jerks into motion again and I notice a thin stream of blood has trickled out of his nose. He lifts a clawed finger and pulls it away, inspecting the blood, before snapping his fingers causing it to disappear.

“Darling~ it is quite a sight to see you all dolled up in your glad rags, but I do not approve of you going to such a place! Especially not dressed like that!” He motions up and down with the microphone, emphasizing my clothing. I decide to prod a little, aware not to cross a line.

“Like what? I do believe these clothes cover even more skin than my usual ones do.” I lift my gloved hands for emphasis. I hike an eyebrow up waiting for a response as he pauses again.

“My dear, are you not aware of…” He hesitates and I continue to wait for him. “How… provocative, that dress is?” I can hear Angel burst into laughter behind me and I suppress a smile, maintaining my serious face.

“Is that so? Well, it does not concern you so I believe you should just scurry along.” Waving a hand to dismiss him I go to shut the door, but he catches it with his foot, wrenching it open again. I yank my hand back before the door pulls me of my feet as it hits the wall.

“You may not be aware, my dear, but there are many unsavory characters that would love to approach a sheba like you with impure intentions.” I roll my eyes and gesture to him.

“Yeah, and one of them is right in front of my face. As long as they don’t make me get stitches like you did, I should be fine.” I stomp over to my two friends as a form of comfort. “Anyway, I have two trustworthy individuals to protect me from such ‘unsavory characters.” They help to emphasize my point by stepping in front of me, while I bat my eyelashes like a damsel in distress. He chuckles and steps into the room, causing me to stiffen slightly.

“Stitches, darling? I do not think it was that serious, after all I do not see a single mark from our little tryst left on your pretty face! However, it did not seem like these ‘trustworthy’ friends of yours did much good for you last night!” I hide my hands behind my back as my fingers start to shake and I take a step backwards.

“You are a bastard.” Cindy grunts through gritted teeth and I can see her muscles are tense.

“I am certainly not! My parents were properly married, unlike yours who was probably a pro skirt! Like mother like daughter, I suppose.” He plays a laugh track, and I can feel my blood boiling. I grab Cindy’s arm before she does something that we will all regret. “I guess I hit a nerve there, mutt!” He patronizingly bops her on the head with the microphone. Angel steps in front of him before he can advance further.

“Do ya’ even know how many stitches I had ta’ f*ckin’ give her! You pierced clean through her f*ckin’ flesh you monster!” My hand rises to cover where the wound is underneath the makeup, the throbbing increases. He co*cks his head with a snap and looks me over again as I am covering my mouth and turned away slightly.

“Now, I will repeat once more that I disappointedly do not see a single mark left on her face, despite the invigoratingly delicious experience!” His grin widens slightly as I can feel a tremble shoot through me as his eyes fix onto mine, the look of a hunter apparent. Angel steps in front of his eyes cutting his vision of me off.

“Are ya’ stupid? She’s wearing makeup, it f*ckin’ hides the marks ya’ numbskull!” He seems genuinely caught of guard for a second and his smile twitches as his eyes narrow.

“I was not aware that makeup could do such a thing, after all it is one of the feminine arts. Were you the one to cover it up?” The question seems a bit dangerous but both Angel and Cindy take the heat.

“It was both of us who covered it up, asshat.” Cindy growls at him. He snaps and appears behind them, directly in front of me, I reel backwards but he catches my arm gently. Lifting my face with his other hand, he uses his thumb to wipe away the makeup beneath my lips. Angel tries to yank him away causing Alastor to turn and hiss through his teeth at him.

“Do not touch me, you harlot.” Angel is fastened to the spot and Cindy is as well. He returns to wiping away the makeup and his grin grows revealing black gums as the semi-circle of teeth marks are revealed, the white threads stained slightly by the makeup. “Now, darling, that’s more like it! I knew there was no way your frail human form could heal that quickly!” He runs the tip of his thumb over the marks, severing the stitches and causing fresh blood to well up. I flinch back in pain. His voice comes out as a purr as he leans in closer, “Perhaps, I would be willing to heal this,” His fingers brush against the wounds sending a twinge of pain through me, “little blemish on your lovely face. But I would need something in return, sweetheart.” Angel is the one to speak.

“What the hell do ya’ want. It betta not be excessive cause there is no way she is gonna sell her soul over a few cuts.” Alastor merely chuckles and keeps his eyes on mine.

“I am aware of that, my friend! I would not request such an excessive thing in return for a little favor. No, I merely wish to come along with you on your little outing, and for you to change your destination. Instead of whatever obscene dingy place you would have gone too, I would like to suggest a friend of mine’s establishment.” Angel seems caught off guard, and I can feel my mind swaying towards agreeing. However, I wait for them to give me the ok, I will not ruin their evening over this if they do not agree. I shoot them a look that expresses my wishes for them to decide before Alastor jerks my face back towards his. “Ah, ah, ah, darling~ keep your eyes right here. So, what will it be, sweetheart? You get to live the rest of your life with a beautiful reminder of my affections on your pretty little face, or you merely let me come along with your ridiculous night out and experience a much classier establishment run by my dear friend Mimzy.” He co*cks his head waiting for a response. I can hear Angel grunt his approval and Cindy just sighs and grunts her approval as well.

“Fine, I will permit you to heal me.” He chuckles at my wording, but slices open his thumb, nonetheless. He wipes his blood over the semicircle of teeth marks on the outside of my mouth before his eyes glow with an unknown element and his grin widens.

“Open your mouth, darling, I need to access the other side.” I gasp and shake my head. “Come now, you don’t want me doing a poor job of healing you! If they really pierce through, I need to apply my blood to the other side, my dear.” Hesitantly I open my mouth and he shoves his thumb into my mouth, rubbing blood on the inside of my mouth where the punctures were. The flavor of metal sends bad memories through my mind, but I shake them off, refusing to let him get to me right now. He finishes it off with a symbol and the wounds begin to knit together again, leaving fresh unblemished skin.

He takes another look over my face, hand lingering on my chin, before separating and striding over to the door again.

“Alright my friends, make sure you are ready and in the lobby within the hour!” He shuts the door with a click, and I rush over to my Angel and Cindy as they are released and they grab me, making sure I am ok. I assure them that I am, and they fix the makeup on my chin quickly before getting dressed. The once excited atmosphere is now much more subdued as Angel and Cindy get dressed. Angel’s eyes light up and he whispers something to Cindy, she seems to be equally excited by the idea.

“What are you whispering about over there?” I hazard, curious what they are giggling about. Cindy winks at me and Angel shoos me over to the corner, where I won’t be able to see them getting ready. I decide to do some embroidery while I wait, to make some progress on my newest piece. As I pick it back up, I giggle when I remember the design. I was obviously full of spite when I started this, and I feel a wave of satisfaction as I resume. The design is a red colored buck being eviscerated. My hands move with glee, if only this was real. I would happily butcher his sorry ass. Pausing for a moment I wonder to myself if I am becoming more violent. Oh well, I don’t really have another outlet, so might as well take relief where I can get it.

Eventually I hear Cindy clear her throat and I look up. They slowly strut out where I can see them, and I burst out laughing. What they are both wearing is what I can only describe as Alastor cosplay. They are both wearing their closest match to a red pinstripe suit, with a set of fake red fluffy ears on the top of each of their heads. They have red wigs that they cut into his signature hairstyle and dyed the edges black. On each of their faces is a faux monocle. They both start to mock him with poses, and I can’t help but laugh.

“Well, my dear, ready ta’ head off, I’ve got deals ta’ make, demons ta’ kill!” Angel says, smile plastered on his face, while Cindy takes me by the arm as if escorting me.

“Come now, darling, no need to dilly dally! I am an impatient man after all!” Her impression is spot on, and I take her arm gladly.

“Of course, you are both gentleman after all, why wouldn’t I want to go with you!” We exit Angel’s room and head down the stairs to the lobby. On each side of me each fake Alastor has my arm in an escorting fashion, and I feel like laughing again. We make it to the front doors and wait for Alastor to arrive. It doesn’t take long when we can hear the usual clicking and humming. Suddenly the clicking stops and we all turn to greet him with fake smiles on our faces. His face is frozen in a grin and the radio frequencies are wildly switching between stations. His eyes narrow as the corners of his smile twitch.

“Whatever, do we have here?” His voice is dripping with distaste. Cindy is the first to speak, still doing her impression of him.

“Why, I am merely escorting our darling little human out on the town! You did indeed tell us to be ready in an hour, and here we are, all dolled up in our glad rags!” He steps closer but we all maintain our ear-to-ear smiles. Angel dusts off his suit jacket and adjusts his monocle.

“Now Alastor my friend, let’s get a wiggle on! Wouldn’t want ta’ keep our darling waiting!” He hugs my arm closer, and I let him lead me toward the door, Cindy mirroring him. Alastor seems to grumble something under his breath but the clicking resumes behind us. As we leave the hotel, he snaps, and I am extricated from their arms. He reaches his elbow out to escort me, but I just cross my arms, refusing him. He chuckles and forcibly takes my arm in his and starts to walk at a fast clip towards, I assume, Mimzy’s. Angel and Cindy follow behind, maintaining their impressions perfectly and I can’t help but keep glancing back and giggling. I can feel Alastor’s arm tense each time, forcing my attention forward again. He doesn’t say a word.

We continue the walk in silence, the only sounds on the street being the yelps and cries from the demons who spot Alastor as they run and hide. I can hear a few confused whispers and a few giggles, causing Alastor to tighten his grip on my arm. Despite the discomfort I am still giddy with his reaction. He is so obviously pissed that it is hard not to laugh. Suddenly he stops and turns to me.

“Darling, what did the grape say when it got crushed?” I stop in confusion and look up at him.

“What? I don’t know.”

“Nothing, it just let out a little whine!” He plays a laugh track as I just stare at him, deadpan. “What do you call a well-balanced horse?” Silence. “Stable!” Another laugh track. At this point Angel and Cindy have caught up to us and seem just as confused as I am. He turns to them, dragging my arm with him. “How do you make holy water?” Cindy looks at him with an eyebrow raised.

“What? I don’t f*ckin’ know.” Angel says breaking character.

“You boil the hell out of it!” He laughs along with the laugh track before turning and continuing to walk to Mimzy’s. I am forced to follow but my confusion remains, he just continues to tell bad puns the entire way there.

We finally arrive at an establishment with a large neon sign saying ‘Mimzy’s’ and Alastor pauses before we enter. He turns to the two imitating demons and snaps his fingers, changing their outfits completely. They both groan, now in a flapper style dress for Cindy, and a suit for Angel.

“You’re no f*ckin’ fun smiles!” Angel complains, but Alastor just hits him on the head with the microphone. Cindy doesn’t complain but seems unsatisfied. He bops her on the head anyway, before turning around and heading up to the door. The security guard is about to stop us, but when he looks up into the face of the radio demon, he lets us in without a word. His eyes linger over me for a second, looking confused, but I just ignore him.

As we enter the establishment, loud jazz overwhelms me and I flinch slightly, not used to such loud environments. I can see Alastor look down at me and chuckle as he makes his way inside, not letting me break away. The overpowering scent of stale alcohol, heavy perfume, and smoke make my stomach turn. The building reminds me of a lounge, with a central stage and a bar made of dark woods to the left. There are plenty of seating areas made of the same dark wood, the chairs are upholstered in a dark maroon. On the stage is a quintessential flapper, she is short with a full figure, her blond hair bobbed, and she is wearing a maroon dress. She is singing along with the upbeat jazz band that is laid out behind her.

Alastor speaks with a demon who appears to work here, and he rushes off to presumably obtain a table for us. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed in the loud atmosphere, but it is not to the point where I feel the need to leave instantly. To distract myself from the sensory overload, I take a look around us. The demons around us seem nervous, but not quite as terrified as they would be in the streets. I wonder if he tries to behave himself here. My eyes scan around, to see a dancing area and a few gambling tables in the corner. Angel sidles up to me, still plastered to Alastor’s side.

“Neva’ been here, ya’ gotta have an invitation ta’ be let in…guess he knows tha’ owner though…” I try to extricate myself from Alastor’s arm to face Angel, but he doesn’t move a muscle, so I just awkwardly turn my head.

“I guess so, it is quite loud in here!” Cindy laughs and shakes her head.

“This is nothing, it is honestly pretty tame!” I balk slightly, this is tame? What would the other place have been like then? I can see Alastor look down at me smugly when he feels my sudden discomfort at the idea of a place crazier than this.

“I did try to warn you, my dear! You do not belong in those types of places, why I’m sure even Mimzy’s is overwhelming you!” He leans down to my face, bloody breath washing over me, mingling with the thick scent of smoke. “Am I right, darling?” I grit my teeth and shake my head.

“No. I am perfectly fine; you do not need to worry.” He just chuckles and stands back up straight. At that moment the employee, dressed in a fine suit, rushes over, and tells Alastor that a private table has just opened. He leads us towards it, and I can see a disgruntled group of demons glare at us as we sit. However, as they begin to approach us, they see Alastor, who smiles at them, and they rush off to another table. Angel and Cindy sit down in the booth, and I move to follow them, but Alastor prevents that and sits down first, creating a barrier with his body, between me and my friends. I sit down uncomfortably, as the scents and loud atmosphere begin to give me a headache.

A waiter swings by our table and begins to take our drink and snack orders. Cindy orders a screwdriver co*cktail and some pretzels, Angel orders a sex on the beach co*cktail and wings, finally Alastor orders a whiskey on the rocks and lobster canapes. I am about to ask what they have but Alastor interrupts me.

“This little lady is a fine teetotaler, so why don’t you whip her up something nonalcoholic my good man!” The waiter looks at me confused for a second, but I nod, causing him to raise an eyebrow.

“Would you like anything to eat ma’am?” He asks resuming his professionalism.

“May I please-“ I begin to answer, my quiet voice practically lost in the din, when Alastor cuts me off again.

“Just arrange for a variety of appetizers, whatever she doesn’t eat we can take care of.” I glare at him, but he just waves the waiter off and turns to smile annoyingly at me.

“I could have ordered myself!” I huff.

“Oh? Do you know what they serve in a bar, my dear?” He raises an eyebrow in mock astonishment. I just cross my arms and sink into the cushion of the booth. “That is what I thought, sweetheart. Why don’t you just focus on enjoying the atmosphere!” He snaps and summons a cigarette, causing my eyes to shoot open in surprise and displeasure.

“You smoke?”

“Only socially my dear, can’t have my voice being damaged!” He lights up the cigarette takes a drag and blows smoke directly into my face, causing me to cough. My headache is increasing but is still manageable. I turn away from him, my lungs yearning for fresh air. Angel and Cindy begin to chat amongst themselves, but I am too far to engage in the conversation, and they call over an employee to ask for a game. As that employee departs the waiter brings over our drinks and snacks. He sets down a red drink in front of me with a cherry on a toothpick resting at the top and I look it over from every angle, not being able to guess what it is. Alastor chuckles and leans next to my ear, blowing smoke in my face again.

“It’s a Shirley temple, darling, I’m sure you have never heard of it before.” I can feel my stomach churn from the smoke, and I feel frustrated with how lost I am. He seems to feel my frustration and his grin grows as he faces the other two who are conversing happily. I pick up my drink and go to take a sip. What assaults my tongue is the most overwhelming drink I have ever tasted, there is a sickly-sweet syrup in it and the carbonation burns my throat as I force down it down while gagging. My headache grows and I can feel Alastor chuckle without looking at me. Looking over the snacks I decide to try one. I pick the simplest looking thing, but as I try it, I realize that it is extremely salty. I used to be fine with this level of salt, but after years of only under seasoned soup this feels like I just licked a pillar of salt. I place the half-eaten pretzel in front of me on a small plate and push it away. I can sense Alastor’s smugness as he drags the plate towards himself with a claw, eating the rest of the pretzel. The other employee brings over a tray with cards, dice, and other similar items. Angel suggests that we play blackjack and Alastor agrees happily. Thank goodness I know how to play that! My shoulders relax a little.

“Splendid, my effeminate fellow, but how about we make this interesting?” My stomach sinks and I know he is going to do something that pisses me off. “Why don’t we invite a few other patrons over and make this a fun little drinking game?” Of Course… He is trying to make me ask to leave… I realize that they are all looking at me and I ask them to repeat themselves.
“Are ya’ in toots?” Glancing over at Alastor, I can see his eyes goading me on. I groan internally.

“Yes, I am in.” Stating it matter-of-factly I stare down the vile concoction in front of me. Alastor seems absolutely giddy, and I know he can tell how uncomfortable I am. As Angel gets up to go find a few other players, the red menace next to me leans in again, with another plume of smoke.

“You know, if you are feeling uncomfortable, we could leave this gin mill, darling~” His sharp smile ticking me off. The new wave of scents gives me gooseflesh, but I stare him in the eye and put on a nonchalant expression.

“No, I am fine.” My response is short, and he chuckles, reclining in the booth swirling his whisky with one hand. He places his other arm on the back of the booth, resting behind me and I just roll my eyes. Cindy glares at him but realizes this is a losing game. Angel sidles back over with a pair of demons in tow. One is on the shorter side and resembles a hyena, while the other is more human looking, but they have smooth scales covering most of their arms. They both seem fairly inebriated and as the scales one sits next to me the scent of fresh alcohol mixes in with the veritable miasma. I shift uncomfortably as the demon sits a bit too close, squeezing me in between Alastor and them. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be cold blooded, and I am hit with a wave of heat from the crush of the bodies. Alastor shifts his arm from the back of the booth, to directly resting on my shoulders. The warmth causing me to sweat under my full coverage outfit.

“Welcome, my good fellows! It seems our friend has acquired us some more players for our little game!” The two demons seem to not recognize who he is, most likely due to the haze of alcohol.

“Sure, sure, we only came over cause there’s a coupla babes over here.” The hyena demon says, looking over me and Cindy with lecherous eyes. I have no direction to move without running into either Alastor or the drunk next to me, so I just place my hands in my lap and huddle into myself. Alastor narrows his eyes, pointedly pulling me against him and I try to sit back up to no avail.

“Keep it in ya’ pants boys. We’re here ta’ play a game not ta’ f*ck around.” Angel sets them straight, sending me a concerned gaze. Cindy seems nonplussed by the male attention and starts to shuffle the cards.

“Whatever just deal us in.” The scaled demon next to me says, his breath reeking of alcohol. I can see him eyeing me out of the corner of his eye, but he hasn’t done anything yet, so I dismiss him for now. I lift my arms and push myself away from Alastor and he finally lets me sit up more to play. I am dealt my hand and Alastor lays out the rules.

“Alright my friends, here are the rules to this little game. The game is blackjack, but whomever wins the round gets to request another player to drink! I assume everyone has their drink of choice already?” His eyes sweep over the table and each player grips their drink, I just shift it a bit closer to me, disgusted. “Ah, yes, I almost forgot! The reason for our little visit tonight is this little dame right here!” He grabs both of my shoulders with his hands as four sets of eyes look directly at me. “You see, this is her first time in a gin mill like this, so I would like for you all to ensure she gets the full experience!” He shakes me gently and my head spins slightly. Angel and Cindy seem a bit miffed that he called me out, but they can’t really do anything about it. The two drunk demons, however, look at me like I am fresh meat, and it causes a chill to run through me.

“Congrats, cutie, never met anyone who hasn’t hit up a bar at least once! What’s your name?” The scaled demon next to me asks as we begin to play. My brain is only half listening as I focus in on the game.

“My name is Eleanor.” My voice quiet as usual and the scaled demon chuckles.

“A shy one aren’t ya’. Don’t worry I like that in a chick.” The game progresses I use my secret technique that I always do to excel in card-based games, card counting and statistics! Cindy already seems resigned at my victory, but none of the others know just what they have gotten themselves into. If Alastor thinks he is going to make me drink this oversweet swill, then he is about to lean otherwise. My head clears a little as I begin to hyperfocus, tuning out all extraneous conversations. The game progresses until,

“I win.” My voice cuts through as silence and Cindy seems vindicated. Angel doesn’t seem all that shocked remembering my playing on our game night and Alastor does not seem that shocked either. The two drunks however seem a little miffed.

“Congrats on beginners’ luck, babe.” The hyena demon grunts, and the scaled demon says nothing.

“Now then, darling, who will you have drink?” My mind immediately jumps to Alastor, but I hold back. No, that will make me no better than him.

“Cindy, drink.” I give her a smirk and she grins widely taking a huge swig of her screwdriver. Alastor seems surprised at my decision and places his whisky back on the table and begins to deal out the next round. The hyena demon focuses in, and I learn that his name is Frank. The scaled demon seems to be watching me play closely, but I am careful not to show any outward signs of card counting, my face a perfect visage of apathy. His name seems to be Vince. I immediately forget their names as unimportant and focus back in on the game. This time it doesn’t take as long, and I win again. The hyena demon seems right pissed off, but the scaled one has a smirk on his face.

“Angel, drink.” I single out Angel for a drink this time, causing Alastor to narrow his eyes at me, before blowing another plume of smoke in my face.

“You are quite good at this, my dear! Why I think you should play against my good friend Husker, you might have a chance to win!” He leans in directly next to my ear, the vibrations of his voice causing me to shiver a bit. “Especially with your little, tactic.” I wait for him to back away before I look over at him with the most innocent look I can manage.

“Whatever are you talking about, Mr.” He tenses at the address that put distance between us. The two drunks seem to clock this.

“You ain’t his girl?” The scaled one asks me.

“Of course not! He merely has his hopes and dreams.” I can hear the record squealing, Cindy and Angel burst into laughter. The drunks both crack up at this and I can feel Alastor’s stiff arm press into me tighter.

“Of course not! He merely has his hopes and dreams.” I manage to sound scandalized and pitiless at the same time. I can hear the record squealing, Cindy and Angel burst into laughter. The drunks both crack up at this and I can feel Alastor’s stiff arm press into me tighter. His grin is twitching, and his eyes narrowed. At this moment before Alastor opens his mouth to speak, the singer from the stage comes prancing over, I assume this is Mimzy. The high-energy woman reaches the booth, and her eyes go wide in shock.

“Al, you haven’t visited in so long!” She waves at him, unable to get closer to the booth. “Do ya’ finally have a gal! This is so exciting!” Alastor’s mood shifts away from the dangerous side and seems to rise again. He pulls me into his chest again, and I struggle even harder this time.

“Why, of course my dear Mimzy! This is the dame I plan to make my little wife!” The drunks seem confused, only some of the confusion is from the alcohol. I make sure to speak clearly, to be heard over the din.

“No. I am not his ‘gal’ or whatever nonsense he is spreading. I do not wish to be in any form of relationship with him.” Mimzy is now the one who seems confused, but Alastor seems to still be pleased by this development. He takes another drag of a new cigarette and blows more smoke in my face, causing me to cough again. As the vestiges of the hyperfocus fades I am once again subjected to the din, the stale air, the heat, and the overwhelming scents. My head spins again and my headache returns with a vengeance. Mimzy seems to come to some sort of conclusion in her head and she smiles brightly.

“C’mon honey, I think we should have a chat! Al, send her over, I want ta’ talk ta’ her in my private rooms. Maybe I can convince her of your charms.” She winks at him, and I roll my eyes. Alastor snaps his fingers happily, and I am finally freed from the crush of heat, my headache fades slightly but this place is still so overwhelming. Mimzy grabs me by the hand and leads me to a door next to the stage. We enter and she leads me down a small hallway into another room, which is her private rooms I assume, due to the opulent decorations. The color scheme can only be described as ‘pink’. There are a set of soft couches in the middle of the room, and she sits me down in one, sitting herself down in the other.

“It is a pleasure to meet you! My name is Mimzy, what is yours, honey?” The overpowering scent of alcohol and smoke is simply replaced by the heavy scent of perfume and…more alcohol.
“My name is Eleanor. It is nice to meet you.” My voice returns to its usual volume, she seems to chuckle a little before launching into why I am here.

“Well, Eleanor, you see I have known Al for a long time, he even came into my speakeasy when we were both alive!” I nod a little, not surprised by that. “Al has never been interested in any gal his whole life, originally, I thought that he might swing ‘the other way’, but he was never interested in the guys either! We were all beginning to assume he would spend his eternity alone! So, imagine my excitement when he walks in with a lovely sheba on his arm, I just knew I had to meet you and make sure I wasn’t seeing things!” My stomach twists, and my face morphs into a frown. She seems to be perturbed at my displeasure.

“Do you really not want to at least give him a chance?” Her eyes are pleading, and I violently shake my head.

“You don’t even know the half of what he has done to me. There is no chance in ‘literal’ hell, that I would give him a chance.” I prevent myself from raising my voice, but I am sure to get the point across. She keeps the pleading look as she continues.

“Aww, no guy is perfect, honey! He’s got all tha’ things that a girl could want! He’s got the looks, the reputation, the money! He has a beautiful estate in the colony, I mean what doesn’t he have!” My jaw is slack with shock.

“Um, morals? Not being a sad*st? Valuing consent?” She looks over at me with a pitying look.

“C’mon, I already said no guy is perfect, maybe you could learn ta’ live with it? This is hell after all, all tha’ best guys went upstairs, ya’ gotta compromise!” My eyes narrow and I can feel myself getting angry.

“There is no way I want to be with a man who injures me on the regular, takes away my free will, force feeds me his stupid food, and forces me to kiss him!” I realize I am standing, red in the face, and I am hit with a wave of light headedness. Feeling woozy I try to take a step forwards, but all the overstimulation of the evening hits me like a truck and I fall to the floor only semi-conscious. I can hear Mimzy gasp in shock, I can’t tell if it is due to my rant, my collapse, or both, and I can hear her rush out of the room.

My head is spinning, but I manage to right myself on the floor, but when I try to stand my legs give out again. The soft carpet is only adding to my discomfort, and I try to get up again. This time the door opens as I try to rise to my wobbly legs, I can see Alastor stride in looking smug. Alastor grabs me by the arm before I tumble over again, my head feels like it is splitting open with severe headache, and I can’t seem to get my balance.

“I did tell you, sweetheart.” He holds me by both arms trying to steady me, but I try to yank away, causing me to almost fall again. “You are not built for a place like this! I think that might be a record time for overstimulation my dear, why we have only been here for an hour and a half!” I shake my head, unable to form words, but I am still trying to get away from him with little success. “Darling, look at yourself! Don’t think I haven’t noticed how strong your senses are, my dear, why you practically keeled over as soon as you stepped into this joint. I’m sure that every nerve in your body is screaming to leave!” He let’s go of me and I fall to the floor again and scramble backwards, holding a hand to my head. He looms over me, bending at the waist to bring his face closer, arms folded behind his back. “When will you admit to yourself that you are much more suited to a domestic life, sweetheart!” He scoops me up in his arms and I just go limp, my eyes glazed, holding a hand to my head. He begins to walk out of Mimzy’s private rooms and re-enters the floor of the establishment. The fresh wave of sound and smell cause me to stiffen, my teeth grit in agony and my hands cover my ears as hard as possible. I can hear Angel and Cindy run up to us.

“What’s going on! Is she okay!” Cindy shouts over the loud music, Alastor just chuckles, hugging me a bit closer to his chest.

“This little dame is just a bit overstimulated, it’s nothing that won’t be fixed by heading back, mutt! I believe I told you two that she would not do well in this atmosphere, and you wanted to take her somewhere even worse!” His grin grows as he puts on a mock disappointed tone. “I can’t believe you would drag such a delicate little thing out into the unforgiving world! Why what if I weren’t here, what would you two do then.” He narrows his eyes and begins to head to the exit, making sure to linger as long as possible to ensure the negative experience lasts.

“This wouldn’t have happened if ya’ hadn’t kept blowing smoke into her face ya’ bastard!” Angel retorts, causing Alastor to chuckle, sending pain through my head.

“Are you sure, my effeminate fellow? Did you not notice her discomfort the moment she walked in? The meek little statement that ‘it is quite loud in here.’” He chuckles again, openly mocking them. “You didn’t notice when she despised her drink, thinking it overly saccharine. You did not notice when she refused to eat due to the offerings being too salty! Why you lot didn’t notice a single thing, not even when our new friends slipped something into the ladies’ drinks!” Cindy’s face pales and Angel gets pissed.

“What they spiked their drinks? Why the f*ck didn’t you do something!” He stomps up to Alastor who merely rolls his eyes.

“I believe it is quite a common occurrence for a defenseless lady to be targeted in such establishments, or am I mistaken?” Angel shifts uncomfortably. “You wished to take her to a much more dangerous place for one of her constitution, what right do you have to blame?” Angel looks away, gritting his teeth. “However, did you really assume I would let them get away so easily? We are in my territory after all, finding a couple of low lives is simple, I plan to pay them a visit later this evening, why I am in need of fresh meat after all!” He finally exits the building with the two trailing behind him with guilty faces. The fresh air hits my face, and I can feel my headache easing slightly, my stomach stops doing somersaults and the tremors in my hands diminish. The cool breeze feels heavenly as he sets me on my feet, still slightly unstable. As I gain some of my footing, I yank myself away from him and try to stand on my own.

“Now, is that any way to thank me, darling?” I glare at him through my pounding headache. He chuckles and forces me to lean on him again as Cindy begins to sway as well. Angel supports her and she scowls at Alastor.

“I would have been fine if it wasn’t for you.” I make my opinion known and he plays a laugh track.

“Whatever you say, dear! though I am inclined to think otherwise!” He snaps, and we all end up in the lobby. “Now, my dear, I believe you should get to bed and sleep this off! Why if I didn’t order your drink myself, I would assume you were downright spifflicated!” He emphasizes his point by shaking me slightly causing my headache to spike.

“f*ck you.” I hiss at him through gritted teeth, causing him to laugh.

“Is that an invitation, darling?” I just shuffle off to Angle’s room after pushing him away with all my strength. He doesn’t even shift, merely dusts off his suit and adjusts his monocle. Angel helps Cindy following me, and as we hit the stairs, I have to lean my full weight on the banister to climb them. Angel just picks Cindy up; she is in no shape to climb at this point. As we reach the head of the stairs, I notice that Alastor has disappeared. Good riddance. We all pile into Angel’s room, where Cindy promptly passes out on the floor, and I collapse on my mattress that is still set up. Angel just shakes his head and sighs as I slip off into a fitful slumber.

………….

“Goddammit! That f*ckin’ bastard!” The hyena demon shouts, punching the wall of the alleyway. The scaled demon is fuming, while sitting on a stack of boxes.

“Damn, we used the good stuff too…” He huffs. That chick in black was hot as hell, she would have made a great gift to Valentino… Maybe he would let us crash in his territory, its much f*cking better that this radio asshole’s. They are both startled by a sudden burst of radio frequencies.

“I’m sure you did, my friends!” They both look up to see a familiar figure backlit at the alley entrance. His glowing red eyes are narrowed, and the yellow smile is downright sinister.

“Hey, it’s the bastard from the bar! The one that f*cked up our plan!” The hyena demon scream and stomps up to him. “You’re gonna f*cking regret that, dipsh*t! We already promised Valentino a pair of broads!” The figure co*cks his head with a snap. The scaled demon also jumps up and sidles over, looking ready to start a fight.

“Yeah, you better bring them back around if you don’t want us to f*ck you up!” A laugh track plays and the figure in red summons his microphone.

“You lot are aware of who’s territory you are in, correct?” His eyebrow raises in a perfect arch as he idly swings the microphone around, giving them as obvious a hint that he can think of.

“We’re not stupid, unlike you, you pansy-ass. This is the radio asshole’s territory, but everyone knows he isn’t gonna save a nobody like you!” A laugh track plays and the red demon looks dumbfounded.

“I can’t tell if you lot have nobody home,” He knocks a few knuckles on his forehead in a mocking gesture, “or you are too zozzled to think straight!” The two men bristle at the obvious insults, but he cuts them off. “However, whichever it is, it does not excuse your poor behavior towards those of fairer means, especially the dame that I intend to wed!” He strides over to the alleyway wall and removes a paper with a smooth motion. He glances it over as the two demons start to laugh.

“That’s rich! She obviously hates your guts dumbass! And what are you going to do about it, talk us to death!” The red demon’s grin grows, and he merely hold the paper up next to his face and waits for the gears to turn in their heads.

“Now, I think these little warning posters never quite capture my image well enough, but I think it’ll do for now!” The scaled demons eyes shoot open, and a wave of sober clarity washes over his addled brain. The hyena demon realizes a second later. They look back and forth between the ‘BEWARE THE RADIO DEMON’ poster with its crude artistic rendition, and the genuine article.

“T-the R-radio Demon…” The scaled one stutters out, his entire demeanor deflating. “B-but I t-though you weren’t interested in girls?”

“Now you’re on the trolley, my ossified fellow! I do not believe that my interests are any of your business, my friend. However, what is your business, is how you two were quite rude to my little dame, you made her quite uncomfortable with your lecherous gazes! Why, you even tried to slip something into her drink!” The demons drop to their knees and begin to beg.

“I didn’t know I promise! We never would have done that if we recognized you, sir!”

“Yeah, we didn’t know she was your girl! I’m sorry!”

“If you know who I am you should know I do not take kindly to such filth in my territory,” he examines the claws on his hand in a bored fashion, “and I do not offer a scrap of mercy to those who have provoked me…” The sounds of snapping and creaking emanate from his antlers as he morphs into his monstrous form. “You two shall make a poor meal, but it’ll do.” Shadows rush out of every corner and the sounds of screams fade into the night.

Chapter 22: Birthday and Movie Night

Notes:

Trigger warnings at the end to prevent spoilers. All of the movies in this chapter are great, I would recommend all of them! (At least my taste in movies hasn't changed, lol)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

A few days pass from the disastrous night out, and things have practically gone back to normal. Angel and Cindy, both cornered me to apologize profusely, I was confused as to why, but it seems that they felt guilty that I became overwhelmed at the atmosphere of the bar. I dismissed their concerns; it was his fault. I would have been fine if he hadn’t separated me from them and kept blowing smoke in my face! I can still remember the carcinogenic scent of the smoke clinging to me, and I shiver. Unfortunately, he is right, I don’t think I ever want to go to a bar again… At least not without proper preparations. I begin to think of what I could do to make that atmosphere more bearable and get a little lost in my thoughts.

“You ok Ellie?” Snapping out of my reverie, I quickly nod to Vaggie and get back to work on my transcription. I have been making grand progress on the library, I have sorted the books into three categories; those that need to be fully transcribed, those that need to be repaired, and those that are perfectly fine. I have already shelved the books that are in the ‘fine’ category, and the wall of bookshelves are filling out quite nicely with the repaired books. I double check the date on the calendar, checking to see how many days it has taken to get it to this state, when I realize what today is. Oh… it’s my birthday. Happy birthday to me, I guess. I then promptly continue on with the transcription, talking idly with Vaggie.

The day wears on and I am pleased to follow my routine to the letter with no interruptions by a certain red menace. I still can’t believe he did that… My hand strays to my lips and I feel a tremble enter my fingers. Hurriedly I wring my hands to rid myself of the bad feelings and realize that it is time for dinner. Today I get to eat, so I guess I will eat at the table… My mood sinks slightly as I make my way to the kitchen with Vaggie. She seems to sense my unease.

“You don’t have to eat at the table if you don’t want to Ellie…” Shaking my head I retort.

“No, that would not be fair to you. You should be able to keep your routine, despite having to guard me like I am an invalid!” My attempt at a joke falls flat due to the loathing that slips into my voice and she just looks concerned. Grabbing my food, I head to the table, it looks like he has prepared some sort of stew, and the scent is pleasant but very strong. I take my seat between Angel and Vaggie. Alastor takes his seat at the head of the table as usual, and the dinner is surprisingly uneventful. He merely makes a few distasteful comments here and there, which Angel or Cindy strike down with their usual vigor. Vaggie seems much less prone to attack him, or really yell at him at all. It must be because of the security from the deal... I know I feel much safer now that it is enforced with magic.

After dinner, everyone disperses to their hobbies and I take a seat in the lobby, working on my embroidery. I am able to put the finishing touches on the gory scene and I feel a sense of accomplishment. In a stroke of inspiration, I decide to take a few golden threads and spell out a little sentiment; What I desire. I can feel myself erupt into giggles and Vaggie looks over at me with an eyebrow raised. Managing to calm my giggles down, I pass her the finished product. She takes one look at it and her smile grows as she erupts into laughter as well. Suddenly the familiar clicking is heard, and we both try to stifle our laughing fit. Alastor exits the kitchen, finished with the cleanup from dinner. He seems to have clocked our laughter before we could suppress it and beelines towards us.

“Well now, ladies, what has you in such a jovial mood!” He leans on the back of the seat Vaggie is in and tries to look over her shoulder, but she hides the embroidery with her hands.

“None of your business, Alastor.” She snaps at him and tries to hand me the piece of fabric while still hiding the image on it. I reach out to take it, but he snatches it from between my fingers. My face turns to glare at him, as he brings the fabric to his face to inspect it. He raises and eyebrow before playing a laugh track and devolving into laughter himself.

“Now, I new you were spiteful, darling, but this is a whole new level of passive aggression!” He delicately turns the fabric around and points to the eviscerated buck. “I assume this is supposed to be me, your embroidery is extremely good, my dear, but you got the points wrong! I am a 32-point buck, not a 20-point buck.” He gently folds the fabric and places it in his suit. I cross my arms over my chest and huff.

“May I have that back.” He places his elbows on the back of the couch and rests his head in his hands.

“Hmm, no.” I fume, but he cuts me off. “Unless, of course, you ask me politely in your sweet little voice!” My face is red with aggravation, but I take a deep breath.

“Fine. May I please have it back.” He smirks and takes it from inside his suit and I go to grab it but he pulls it back again.

“Ah, ah, ah, sweetheart! I didn’t hear you address me correctly!” My fists are clenched with the knuckles white.

“May I please have it back, Alastor.” His smile grows to reveal black gums and he finally hands over the embroidery. I try to quickly snatch it out of his grasp, but his other hand grasps my wrist. He forces open my hand and gently places the fabric into my open palm and closes the fingers individually. I continue to glare at him the entire time, and he eventually let’s go of my wrist. I snap my arm back and cradle it in my other arm as if it was injured.

“There you go, my dear, that wasn’t so hard now, was it? You have quite a skilled hand, darling, we wouldn’t want those delicate fingers getting injured!” Sitting back down on the couch I shove it into the bag I use to carry my embroidery around. He leans over me from behind the couch, luckily the back puts some distance between us though. “That reminds me, my dear! Whatever did you do with the jewelry that I so kindly left for you for the hotel event?” A chill runs down my back at the tone of his voice, but I remember the deal after glancing at Vaggie. With newly invigorated confidence I turn and look at him with an amused look.

“Whatever are you talking about? I do not recall such a thing being left for me from you! I was however left an ugly red dress from some sort of stranger. It came with some jewelry, but I saw to it that they were well and truly destroyed, you could probably find the pieces if you sift through the dumpster though!” I can see his eye twitch slightly.

“Of course, my dear, I wouldn’t expect anything different from a fiery little dame like you.” He seems to recover from the displeasure. “Well, it was nice to beat my gums with you, but I believe it is time for you to head off to bed, darling, wouldn’t want to ruin your little schedule!” He gestures to the time, and I can see that he is, indeed, right. How does he know when I go to sleep every night? I glare at him and pack up my things, Vaggie does the same and we scurry off to her and Charlie’s room. We head to bed, and I slip into a nightmare filled sleep.

Rising bright and early in the morning I shake the sleep off me, still feeling tired, and get ready as usual. The morning marches onwards, as I start a new project. However, as time for breakfast rolls around, I am met with a pounding on the door. Luckily, both Charlie and Vaggie are already awake, and I open the door only to be met with a fuming Cindy. She grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me.

“Ellie! Why the hell didn’t you remind me it was your birthday yesterday! I can’t believe I f*cking forgot!” She shakes me with each word, and I detach her hands and hold a hand to my spinning head.

“Oh yeah, I just didn’t really care. I guess I noticed when I checked the calendar, but I just sort of forgot about it too.” I can hear Charlie getting wound up and turn to face her. Her face is bright with excitement, and I instinctually take a step back.

“It was your birthday! Oh my gosh! We need to plan a party for you! How old did you turn! What kind of things do you want as presents!” I am inundated with a stream of questions, and I try to calm her down.

“No, it’s fine I don’t need a party or anything. I have never really cared about my birthday. I haven’t even celebrated it once since Cindy died.” Her joy turns to shock and even Vaggie raises an eyebrow.

“Really? It’s your birthday though, you could at least let us get you something!” She seems to be hiding a bit of excitement as well and I can feel an impending doom fall over me as Cindy grabs my shoulder from behind.

“You haven’t celebrated since I died! I always made sure your party was small and understated, since you wouldn’t let me do anything more…but now,” I can see a glint in her eye as she looms over me. “I am going to make the best party ever for you, to make up for your poor decisions!” I try to protest again, but they just dismiss my complaints and start to discuss a party as I sit in the corner sulking. They continue to chat and the time for breakfast passes, when a knock is heard at the door. None of the girls even acknowledge it and I sigh while answering the door. Angel is standing there looking miffed.

“Why the hell are none of you at breakfast! Smiles was right f*ckin’ pissed, he made me come and get ya’ f*ckin’ slackers.” He fluffs his chest in annoyance, but then he realizes that they didn’t even acknowledge his entrance, I am the only one paying attention. “Um, what the f*ck is goin’ on?” Sighing deeply, I just let him into the room.

“Cindy was upset that I didn’t remind her my birthday was yesterday, and now they are all caught up in party planning. I don’t even care about my birthday.” Angel’s eyes shoot open, and he grabs me by my shoulders.

“It was your f*ckin’ birthday yesterday! Why the f*ck didn’t ya’ tell anyone!” I roll my eyes. Et tu Angel? He lets me go and struts over to the girls. “Hey, shut the hell up for a second!” They finally go silent, turning to Angel. “I want in on this plannin’ business, but if ya’ don’t go ta’ breakfast, smiles will blow a f*ckin’ gasket.” They all look towards the clock and in a rush, they rush out of the room, chatting as they go. I rise to my feet and resign myself to follow.

As they enter the dining room, Alastor is at the head of the table, standing. His smile is deadly, and his eyes narrowed.

“How nice of you to finally join us.” Their chatter stops as they take in his dangerous atmosphere. He strides to stand in front of us and inspects his claws. “Might I ask what prevented you from being punctual ladies.” He sounds downright pissed. Cindy is the one to speak up.

“We were planning a party for Ellie. She tried to get away with skipping her birthday!” My eyes go wide as she expertly throws me under the bus and I turn to glare at her, she sticks her tongue out at me, and I can feel a deadly gaze on the side of my head. I slowly turn my head back to see Alastor’s narrowed eyes locked on to me.

“Keeping secrets are we, darling?” he strolls closer to me, setting a clawed hand on my shoulder and bending at the waist to make direct eye contact. “I’m certain you just forgot, it’s not like you would keep this from me on purpose, now would you, my dear?” His half-lidded eyes staring into my soul.

“No, I remembered I just don’t care.” His hand tightens on my shoulder as he sighs and stands.

“Of course, you would say that, my dear, I forget how hopeless you are sometimes! Why, you deprive yourself of so many luxuries that you have lost all sense!” He raises a hand to his forehead dramatically, smile growing slightly as I fume. I take a seat at the table and cross my arms, sulking.

“I do not understand why you all place such importance on such a trivial thing.” I mutter and Cindy stomps over to me.

“C’mon! Just because you never celebrated your birthday growing up doesn’t make it trivial! You never let me do anything fun for you, so I am making up for all of the lost time!” Alastor’s ears perk up at this and I groan internally, Cindy is looking at me sternly, hands on her hips.

“Oh? Pray tell why you haven’t celebrated thus far. I was under the impression that everyone celebrates their birthday, why even I do!” He waves the microphone in a dramatic gesture and places a hand on my shoulder again. I shift uncomfortably under his touch and turn to scowl.

“Why? It is simple, my parents never arranged any sort of celebration. I usually just continued work as usual.” Cindy groans and seems upset, causing eyes to shift to her.

“Ellie! I already have explained time and time again that your parents were trash! There is no reason for you to maintain their weird f*cked up strictness!” This causes me to glare at her.

“Cindy. I would like to know why you are bringing up my personal information in front of the enemy!” She cows slightly, and I can see Alastor’s eyes narrow.

"The enemy? Do you often call suitors such hurtful words, darling?” He seems sarcastic but I just give him a blasé look.

“Yes. Moving on, you can feel free to plan a party, but don’t expect me to be thrilled with it. Birthday parties are merely a waste of time, money, and effort.” I pull out my embroidery and begin to work on it, not angry enough to be stupid and storm off. Cindy crosses her arms and huffs, towering over me again. I ignore her and keep angrily embroidering, nearly missing my fingers with the needle.

“I will give you a party and you will participate.” She states before sitting down at her place and serving herself breakfast with aggression. The other guests seem lost at the sudden tense atmosphere, except for Alastor.

“Now, isn’t this an exciting development!” He leans in over Cindy’s shoulder, and I can see her bristle.

“What the hell do you want, smiles.” She grunts as Angel sits down next to me and hesitantly starts to serve himself. Charlie and Vaggie do the same. Alastor places a hand on her shoulder, and she growls at him.

“Why, I just wish to know more about our darling human! Perhaps you could enlighten us, dear.” Cindy glares at him with confusion.

“Don’t you dare.” I slam my hands down onto the table, sending the dishes rattling. Even Alastor starts slightly, radio frequency going haywire for a split second. The others at the table start with the sudden noise. Cindy shifts from looking at Alastor, to looking at me and a glimmer of unease enters her eyes. My eyes are practically glued onto her with a deadly look. Cindy seems to remember something and her frustration changes to a panicked look.

“I’m sorry, Ellie. I forgot how you feel about… sharing information. Please forgive me!” She gives me a pleading look and I can feel my red-hot rage subside.

"It is fine. I forgive you Cindy, but please watch your tongue when speaking about me.” I begin to embroider in a much more measured pace and Alastor seems enthralled with what just occurred. “I realize I have been unreasonable about the party. You may plan it as you wish, and I will participate to the degree that is necessary.” Deciding to meet halfway, I do not want to damage my relationship with Cindy, even though she almost broke my one rule: never share information about me or my history without my consent.

Cindy’s eyes brighten at my express permission to plan a party and she begins to chat with Angel, Vaggie, and Charlie. Alastor, however, never sits back down, instead he strolls around the table to stand, looking over my shoulder at my embroidery. I happen to be cross stitching this time, needing to shake things up. His eyes watch my expert hand flit across the fabric, placing stitches in the appropriate squares based on the pattern I have laid out in my lap.

“Darling, you are quite skilled at that! I have not seen this sort of embroidery before, what is it called?” Without looking up at him I switch needles, this one with a different color.

“Cross-stitch.” My one-word answer seems to only intrigue him more. He leans in and examines the pattern sheet I have on my lap, and he chuckles to himself.

“Were you the one to draft this…pattern?” I simply nod in the affirmative, the pattern I drafted is of an adorable cat curled in a teacup. It is not especially large, but big enough to take quite a few hours. His hands snake themselves onto my shoulders again and I pause mid-stitch, not looking up.

“Can I help you?” He chuckles and leans on my shoulders, causing me to compress, trying to hold up his weight.

“I never thought you were the sort to enjoy such…cute things.” He sounds like the cat that caught the canary and I roll my eyes.

“I like what I like.” Giving him a non-answer, I already know he is going to be annoying this morning.

“And what is it that you like, my dear? Why, I don’t think I have ever asked!” My spine has chills running down it, but I maintain my apathy.

“What I like is my business, and my business alone.” I snap at him, continuing to the next color, already primed on the needle. He chuckles and it reverberates through my body, causing me to tense up and a tremble to enter my fingers, not enough to interfere with my stitches.

“Darling, why, it is quite normal to ask what someone likes!” He lifts his weight off of me and strolls over to Husk, who is busy eating his breakfast while keeping an eye on Alastor. Placing a hand on his shoulder, “Husker, my good man! What might your favorite color be?” Husk stares at him as if he just spoke in a foreign language.

“Why the f*ck do you want to know?” Alastor’s grin grows slightly.

“I am merely making a point to our dear little human! So, my friend, what is your favorite color?” Husk grunts, and Alastor leans in a little closer.

“Green. Can you f*ck off now.” He pushes Alastor off his shoulder, and Alastor dusts off his suit.

“See, my dear! He was perfectly forthcoming!” He saunters back over to me and leans in again. “So, how about I simplify the question for you, doll. What is your favorite color?”

“That is personal information I am not willing to share.” He raises an eyebrow.

“How have I not yet noticed your strange reticence to share personal information, darling?” I roll my eyes, looking up at him finally.

“You never asked.” He chuckles and snaps, materializing a seat next to me, which he promptly sits in. He rests his chin in one hand, elbow on the table, and stares at me intently.

“You have me there, my dear!” He plays a laugh track. “Pray tell, what is your age?”

“Twenty-four as of yesterday.” He seems surprised that I answered and looks incredulous.

“Dear, I believe that you just claimed not to share personal information? You seemed quite forthcoming with that question!” It is my turn to look incredulous and I raise an eyebrow.

“Age is merely a number that describes how long I have been alive. It is a physical descriptor. If you were to ask my hair color, I would not hesitate to say black. However, I will not just happily tell anyone my personal profile.” He chuckles and leans in closer.

“Might I ask why; you are so reticent about such things?”

“No matter what happens, I will always have my mind. This is actually quite relevant to your sick goals. No matter where I end up, I always remain the master of my own mind. There is no way in hell I would let someone like you in my head.” His eyes glow with an undefinable quality and I can see a faint redness tinge his corpse-colored cheeks. He shifts his chin off his hand and grabs my wrist, stopping my consistent stitching. His fingers feel like they are trembling almost imperceptibly. My eyes raise up to look at him, his face is much closer. My eyes dart around, it doesn’t seem like anyone has noticed the atmosphere around him change.

“Sweetheart~ When you say things like that it only makes me want to possess you more…” His thumb slowly strokes the palm of my hand and I feel a spike of fear rush through me. His voice drops to a purr, “With all of that willpower, I can tell that you won’t break easily, darling~ You might never break at all! And that is a very invigorating thought.” I break out in a cold sweat and try to pull my wrist away, and he surprisingly let’s go. His demeanor is still making me uncomfortable, but I shakily begin to stitch again, trying to ignore his heated stare.
“You really do have it all, my dear.” His voice is slightly raspy, and I can barely make out his words. “You have intelligence, even beating me in chess! You are a skilled dame, many of those skills just exude femininity,” I cringe, “and yet you have a stubborn streak, darling, that excites me to no end. You seem to be drawn to destruction as an outlet of your frustration, however if you had the power in your delicate little limbs, I am sure you would attempt to kill me yourself!” I slip with my needle pricking my finger, and my eyes widen as a small bead of blood gathers on my fingertip. He doesn’t even hesitate before grabbing my hand, bringing it up to his mouth. Trying to pull back as he licks the droplet of blood off my fingertip, dropping my hand. I snatch it back as he lets out a throaty chuckle.

“Not to mention, your delectable blood, darling! Why I just want to cage you in a room and never let you leave, I would be the only one to witness your face. I want to control your every movement; ensure that you depend on me for everything. You would be unable to disobey my wishes...” He lifts a finger to my cheek and strokes it, his red eyes downright predatory. “I could experience your every delicious expression at will…” His breathing grows heavier, and I try to back away from him, causing my chair to fall. I bump into Angel behind me, and he finally looks up from his conversation, catching me in surprise. His eyes widen as he looks up towards Alastor, catching the predatory look in his eyes, before he hastily resumes his usual demeanor, as if nothing happened. He is a f*cking master at image isn’t he… f*ck… Angel helps me up to my feet and glares at Alastor.

“What were you doin’ smiles.” His voice is serious, and the loud noise of my fall has alerted the rest of the table. Alastor merely chuckles and adjusts his monocle before shrugging.

“Why, I don’t know what you are talking about, my effeminate fellow! She merely fell, I did nothing to her, I swear on my cold dead heart!” His grin reveals black gums, and his half-lidded eyes look me over, making me feel nothing but disgust. Angel senses my discomfort and changes the subject, making sure to keep an eye on the demon in red.

“Whateva’ I don’t f*ckin’ believe ya’ smiles. Anyway, aside from the strawberry pimp over there, we have a good idea of how we wanna have ya’ party, toots.” He rests an arm over my shoulder in a protective fashion, and I can feel a burst of displeasure in Alastor’s gaze as he rises and strides to the head of the table once more. “We were thinkin’ that we could have a movie night!” My panicked state subsides as Alastor moves away, but I am still slightly trembling, and I think over the idea in my head.

“Hmm, that sounds like it could be fun, but I haven’t seen very many movies…” Angel smirks and rolls his eyes.

“Figures as much, toots. I kinda expected that, but Cindy wouldn’t confirm or deny it! Somethin’ about bein’ unsure if that is personal information…” He glances at me out of the corner of his eyes but moves on. “Anyway, we were thinkin’ it could be fun for everyone ta’ pick a movie that they want ya’ ta’ see at least once. Then we can watch em all together and you even get ta’ ‘gather knowledge’ or whateva’.” His description of the idea makes it seem much more attractive, and I can feel a slight displeasure coming from the head of the table. My mouth twists into a bright grin.

“Why that sounds quite fun! I am sure you will all pick some entertaining movies!” My agreement sends a wave of excitement through the planners, but I hear a radio distortion spike from Alastor.

“I was going to decorate the lobby so that it feels more festive!” Charlie chimes in and I nod at her stream of ideas.

“I am going to go and get the movies that people choose, and I’m also going to set up the movie watching area, Angel is going to help with that!” Cindy seems proud of her contributions. Finally, Vaggie looks over with a warm look.

“That just leaves me, I am going to,” she eyes Alastor, “hang out with you today until we have everything set up!” He merely grins at her, before gesturing to himself dramatically.

“Since you all have your roles, that just leaves me! I shall be happy to whip up some food for this special little event!” They all agree easily, he does make the food on a day-to-day basis anyway. My hands just won’t seem to stop shaking as I think about what he just threatened. I would honestly rather die rather than live like that… I catch him looking at me across the table, and I flinch away, causing him to grin wider.

Thankfully, breakfast comes to a close relatively soon after that and the group scatters to prepare. Vaggie and I head to the library, not for work, but instead I want to just find a book and relax. I have quite the lump-sum of savings at this point, Charlie seems to pay me an exorbitant amount every paycheck… maybe I can ask someone to take me to a book shop? We reach the library and as I lean down to search for a book, I suddenly feel a hand on my shoulder, causing me to startle and start shaking like a leaf. Vaggie backs off hands raised, and I manage to suppress the shaking when I see it is just her.

“Calm down Ellie, it’s just me! What did he say to you? You are so jumpy!” At her questioning I can feel my knees weaken, and I collapse onto the floor. My bulletproof façade keeps getting weaker and weaker with every time he targets me. She rushes over and sits next to me as I can feel a few tears silently leave my eyes. I hug my knees to my chest and stare out into the room despondently.

“He, well…” I try to find a way to sum up his vile monologue. “He was basically taunting me…” She seems barely convinced at my under detailed description.

“There is no way that him just taunting you would leave you in this state Ellie! Just remember that he can only talk a big game, but he can’t kill you, he can’t force himself on you, and he can’t torture you. Take solace in that fact, no matter what he says, there is nothing he can do other than try to torment you, as long as you just don’t make a deal with him.” I nod, feeling myself calm down slightly. She places an arm over my shoulder and asks again. “What did he say to you?” Sighing I let my head plop onto my knees.

“He said that I won’t…break easily and that is invigorating to him… He got this weird look on his face and started to go on a monologue about why he…is interested in me. I pricked my finger with my needle because my hands were shaking, and he…licked the blood off. He started to…” I pause as my shaking increases again and Vaggie rubs my back.

“He started to what?”

“He started to…talk about what he wants to do to me…” I jump up to my feet startling Vaggie, as a peal of anger rips through me. “You know what he f*cking said he wants to do? He wants to lock me in a damn room and control my every move, like some sort of invalid! He said he wants to ‘experience my expressions at will’ whatever that f*cking means! He is so f*cking full of himself it makes me so angry that I can’t do anything!” Deflating, I throw myself into a chair at the table and sigh deeply. Vaggie rises from her spot on the floor and takes the seat next to me.

“He really is a pompous asshole, isn’t he?” I scoff.

“Yeah, that’s an understatement… He doesn’t care at all about what I want, he only cares about his twisted fantasy, I don’t even want to know the things he doesn’t say…” I shudder, imagining what he could possibly think is too shocking to share with me. “He is like an obsessive freak; I don’t even understand half the things he fixates on…Was there ever anything I could to dissuade him? He seemed to clock onto me the second I arrived, for god’s sake! What would have happened if I came here after I died, would things still end up the same?” My brain starts spiraling into what-ifs, when Vaggie clears her throat, I look up at her and she has a serious expression on her face.

“The what ifs don’t matter Ellie; what matters is the here and now. He is interested in you, and he is planning some f*cked up sh*t. The only thing we should be thinking of is how to outsmart him until we find a way to get you back to the human world. We can worry about the rest after you die. He is already extremely limited in his movements due to our deal, so all I need you to do is not make a deal with him.” I nod firmly.

“There is never any chance that I would make a deal with him. I have explained that to him time and time again, but that still seems to be his plan.” She raises a finger to her chin in thought before her face brightens.

“That is actually a good thing Ellie! We just need to keep him focused on forcing you into a deal! If he keeps at that, then he isn’t planning anything else! The next time that he tries to goad you into a deal, you need to seem like you might consider it before rejecting it. That will make him think he is close and try to push through with that plan!” My face lights up as I think about the plan.

“That is a great idea Vaggie! Thank you!” I throw my arms around her in a hug, she seems surprised at my sudden movement. I do not usually hug, but I am so pleased with the plan that emotion overtook me. We are interrupted by a sudden ringing of a bell and Vaggie perks up. Looking at her questioningly, she tells me to put on my illusion ring. Doing so, we head down towards the lobby, only to hear Charlie’s excited voice rapidly talking. As we mount the staircase, we can see two demons standing by the bar slash check in desk, and Charlie talking their ears off.

We make our way towards them and are greeted with a male demon who resembles a boar and a female demon who resembles a sheep. They look over at us and the sheep demoness balks at my appearance. Damn this f*cking illusion ring, making me look like that prick. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish as I approach as nonthreatening as possible. The boar demon notices me, and he snorts slightly.

“Hello, are you two checking in to the hotel?” The boar demon is the one to answer.

“Maybe, are you with the Radio Demon?” He asks a bit rudely and I put on a disgusted face.

“No. I hate that man; it is a shame how similar we look.” The boar demon seems to soften slightly, and the sheep only seems a little less terrified. “My name is Eleanor; I am a guest at this hotel. What might your names be?” The sheep demoness stutters horribly but manages to get her name out as Lucy, the boar demon just gruffly says Striker. Striker? Is that even a real name?

“What are you in for red?” Striker asks, and I pause at the nickname, but I guess it is only natural in this disguise.

“I smuggled drugs topside, ended up getting shot like an idiot!” Striker chortles at my exaggerated motion, and I am glad that they seem to be warming up to me. Lucy then speaks up softly and I turn my attention to her.

“E-Eleanor, um, I have a question?” I nod, giving her the go-ahead to ask.

“Do you have a partner?” Her voice shifts slightly from shy to serious. My eyes widen and I balk at the forward question, Striker quickly apologizes.

“Sorry, bout that. She always asks everyone we meet that; she used to be a matchmaker topside and can’t mind her own business sometimes.” She glares at him and turns back to me with sparkling eyes.

“No. I do not have a partner, and I am not looking for one either. I have a very annoying…suitor…at the moment and he has really soured the whole idea of romance…” I look away and this seems to catch her attention. She sidles up to me with an inquisitive and fiery gaze, Striker just sighs in defeat.

“Who is it? You are so pretty I can see how someone annoying like that would approach you!” My eyes dart around a bit and I am visibly uncomfortable. I just dismiss her question with a noncommittal answer and lead them over to sit at the bar. Striker orders Jägermeister and Lucy orders a daquiri. I order a water and Striker raises and eyebrow.

“Water, you ain’t going to drink?” Chuckling I shake my head.

“I don’t drink.” He seems surprised.

"You don’t drink! I haven’t met a single soul in hell that doesn’t drink! You’re like some sort of f*cking unicorn!” He laughs boisterously causing me to grin. Lucy also joins in with the laughter before looking around the mostly decorated lobby.

“Did we come at a bad time? It looks like you are setting up for a party or something.” Husk grunts and is the one to answer as I look slightly bashful.

“It’s this kid’s birthday. It was technically yesterday but she tried to hide it, we only found out today.” I look at him in betrayal and he just polishes a glass smirking. Lucy seems appalled that I would try to skip my birthday and Striker seems to find it hilarious. Suddenly the kitchen door opens, and I can feel a chill run down my spine. Lucy seems to notice this and slowly turns to look at the now open door. She starts to shiver as Alastor is revealed in the doorway, backlit by the kitchen light his smile seems downright evil. She turns stiffly to me and surveys my body language before shakily speaking.

“I-it’s him isn’t it…” My eyes grow despondent and I just nod, she pokes Striker in the side, getting him to notice the approaching demon. The sound of clicking and radio frequencies approach and I finish my water while the two new demons seem afraid. Getting off of my seat I step in front of them with all of my courage and put my hands on my hips glaring at him.

“What are you doing. There is no need for you to scare the new guests.” He chuckles and his grin grows as he looks me over. I feel a shiver of disgust run through me but hold my ground.

“Why, I am just trying to greet our new guests, darling!” His eyes stray away from my and survey the two demons at the bar with narrowed eyes. I can feel them tense, but I step back in front of his eyes, blocking his view of them.

“I think you should just leave; you are making the guests uncomfortable with your ugly face.” The two demons behind me gasp slightly at my obviously hateful words. Alastor raises an eyebrow and looks me up and down again.

“I am making them uncomfortable? You wound me, darling! However, I believe I have already told you that don’t take kindly to disrespect, my dear. Why, just this morning all it took was a few words and you were all a-tremble with delicious fear, and now you think it wise to insult me to my face? You truly are a confounding dame.” My face twists in disgust at his words but I hold my ground, shoulders shaking slightly.

“You cannot do anything about it Alastor. Remember your deal with Vaggie. You cannot kill or torture guests of the hotel. I am a guest of the hotel and so are they.” They seem surprised at my words and whisper to Husk who confirms it. They seem to visibly calm down slightly. Alastor however just grins wider.

“I think you are forgetting a few of the things I am not allowed to do, darling! I believe that they were all made for you!” My stomach churns and I try to stop him from continuing.

“Those rules are irrelevant for other guests; I do not see a reason to inform them.” He steps in closer to me, bending at the waist to make eye contact, and I am enveloped with the stench of blood. He ghosts a hand over my lips, and I start backwards, stance breaking, but I catch myself, so I don’t fall, and Lucy grabs my shoulder, steadying me. Alastor stands again and holds a finger to his chin in thought.

“Who knows, darling, I think that all new guests should know the full limits on my actions!” He pauses and side eyes them. “As well as what they cannot interfere with.” I groan and I can tell the two new demons are both curious and horrified. He dramatically summons the microphone and places it in the crook of his arm. “The next rule, I think you will remember this one well, darling, is no force-feeding guests!” I can feel Lucy’s grip tighten. “Honestly I think it is a bit excessive to have its own rule, it could easily be rolled into one of the others.” He winks at me, and my stomach twists and I start to tremble, Lucy seems appalled. I thankfully, cannot see Striker’s reaction, and I don’t want to. This is insulting… How dare he embarrass me like this…

“Finally, the last rule limiting my actions,” his grin reveals black gums, and he makes direct eye contact with me, I can feel rage growing in my gut at his nerve. “I am not allowed to force myself onto hotel guests! Now, I think this one is a bit excessive as well, it was only a little kiss after all. No, I believe in waiting for marriage, so there is no need for such a crass rule!” My face is red with rage and embarrassment as I stand up, pulling my arm away from Lucy, careful not to hurt her.

“Only a kiss! You bit me so badly I had to get f*cking stitches you bastard!” I throw my empty glass directly at his face, which he catches with ease, and storm away. Vaggie quickly follows me as I leave the room, trying to keep up with my rushed steps. I make it all the way to the library before sitting back on the chair, in a huff. My whole body is trembling, not with fear this time, but pure white-hot rage. I begin to mutter to myself as Vaggie sits down in her chair.

“f*cking asshole… how f*cking dare he spread that around.... He f*cking bit my goddamn lip! I needed f*cking stitches, and he just calls it a little kiss! I wouldn’t even call it a kiss at all, more like a violent assault, and he had the nerve to try to comfort me afterwards! I had almost been able to force myself to forget about the f*cking force feeding, but no, he just has to bring it up in front of basically strangers! He can just get away with forcing food down my f*cking throat and then brag about it right in front of me!” I devolve into just wordlessly screaming into my hands and Vaggie just looks like a deer in headlights. I can feel the rage subsiding as I curse his name in my head and slowly, I begin to take deep breaths. “He’s such a prick.” I finish my rant off with a weak insult, but it makes Vaggie giggle.

“Yeah, he is, isn’t he?” She seems to pick something out of my rant and has a confused look. “Did he really try to comfort you? How the hell does that work?” I sigh and deflate into the chair, sliding down the back of it.

“He literally picked me up and trapped me in his lap and stroked my hair. He also thought it was a great moment to try to convince me to make a deal, he said he wouldn’t have to be so violent if I just gave in, I physically felt ill the whole time…” Vaggie shivers in unison with me, imagining the scene.

“That is repugnant… I have had him grab my shoulders before and get into my personal space, he really does smell like blood. I can’t imagine having him try to get that close every damn day… I really feel for you Ellie…” Chuckling self-deprecatingly I nod.

“Yeah, he is really f*cking heavy for looking like a damn red toothpick. It must be his height or something…” I groan and she giggles.

“Maybe, it’s the weight of his ego!” That makes me break out into giggles as well and we continue to talk trash about him until I can hear a clicking coming down the hall. We look at each other in disbelief and sigh. I straighten myself out and look as nonplussed as possible. Vaggie does the same and tries to hide her smirk from our playground insults. He enters as dramatically as he usually does, and makes his way to my side, smugness radiates off his features. I can feel my anger rise again, but I suppress it.

“Why are you trying to scare guests away.” I huff, in attempt to prevent the obvious topic. His eyes narrow and he seems to notice that I am no longer fuming, much to his chagrin.

“Whatever, do you mean darling? I was merely greeting the new meat! They should obviously be made aware of my limited actions if they wish to stay here, it should ease their poor little hearts! I think I will make sure that every new guest is given a similar welcoming experience!” Forcibly keeping myself calm I look at him intensely.

“Don’t do that. You know exactly what you are doing.” He smirks and bends at the waist, Vaggie seems equally pissed off at this point.

“So, what if I do? What exactly are you going to do about it, my dear?” He leans in, his forehead nearly colliding with mine. He has a twinkle in his eye, that radiates mischief. “I would perhaps consider leaving the hotel guests alone if…” He pauses, looking me up and down with his eyes. “You make a deal with me.” My anger subsides completely, replaced with confidence as I realize that my chance has come sooner than expected. I put a contemplative look on my face and keep glancing at Vaggie. He seems to detect my supposed trepidation and he stands up straight, eyes aglow.

“N-no, I can’t do that…” Making my voice sound weak, I glance at Vaggie again, playing up my unsureness. His grin grows and he circles an arm around me, cutting off my view of Vaggie.

“Come now, darling! It would be so easy just to give in! All you have to do is make a deal with me, and not only will I give you a life of comfort, I will also not interfere with this little hotel’s guests!” I make my face appear weak and despondent.

“But…I don’t want to marry you… is there really no other way?” Alastor tightens his arm and leans in, hitting me full in the face with his bloody breath. His other hand cradles my face, stroking my cheek with his thumb.

“Sweetheart~ I know you don’t want to be my little wife, but that is your only option if you want me to stop my little games.” His eyes grow serious, smile still Cheshire like. I can tell he feels like he is closing in, anticipation makes his breathing grow heavy and he looks like a cat ready to pounce on his prey. Now, how should I extricate myself? The answer is given to me as Vaggie shoots up from the table.

“Alastor, get your slimy hands off her! She isn’t going to make a deal with you, Eleanor you had better ignore his goading! Whatever he is threatening you with isn’t worth it, even if it concerns the hotel.” A hint of annoyance crosses his features and I can feel his muscles tense, as he sees my wishy-washy expression harden again and I glare at him. I can hear a wave of radio distortion and his smile is the smallest I have ever seen it, making for a very off-putting expression. I shake myself out of his grip and get up.

“I refuse your deal, Alastor.” I state simply and retreat to Vaggie’s side and she puts a protective arm around my shoulder. He seems frozen, before he suddenly straightens out, adjusting his monocle and dusting off his suit. He turns and narrows his eyes at Vaggie. His eyes look fit to kill and I can feel a wave of intimidation wash over me.

“You will regret your interference, Vagatha.” He hisses and turns on his heel, exiting the library. The doors slam behind him, and we both devolve into a mixture of nervous and excited giggles.

“He looked so angry…” My voice squeaks out between nervous peals of laughter, and she nods along.

“I have never seen him with that face! His smile was so small…” She giggles along, eyebrows drawn in concern. “I know what you mean by predatory eyes…” She shivers, chill going through her spine.

“I know, he is like some sort of wild animal in gentleman’s clothing…” My giggles stop and I collapse down into a chair. She does the same and puts her forehead into her hands. We sit in silence until Cindy’s cheerful voice brings us out of the tense atmosphere.

“The party is all set up Ellie, it is time to celebrate your birthday for real this time!” I get up, feeling very un-festive, but I shake it off and put on a happy face. I can see Vaggie do the same and we follow Cindy to the lobby. As we enter, I am struck with the sight of the lobby all decked out in decorations. It appears to have a blue, white, and gold color scheme and I am reminded of winter. Cindy must be the one to choose these colors, she is the only one who knows my favorite colors are blue and white. In the center of the room, there is an absolutely massive pile of pillows and blankets, on top of multiple mattresses pushed together. In front of that is a large projector screen, a projector is situated behind the mattress pile.

“Alastor is the one who forbade a television, so we had to make do! It reminds me a little of watching movies in school…” She sighs in nostalgia, and I wholeheartedly agree. Over to the side of the movie area, I see a table filled with refreshments and a separate table piled with presents. I balk as I stiffly walk over to them and look at some of the tags. It seems that most of them came from Charlie and Alastor. They appear to be tied. My stomach churns at what might be in them, but even I know the etiquette of a party, so I back away and look over the refreshments table. There is an array of sweet and salty snacks and in the center of the table is a large cake topped with candles. It appears to be chocolate and seems way too sweet, but I just dismiss it. However, before I move on, I notice a small section of the table labelled with my name in elegant cursive. I recognize that handwriting and a chill goes through my spine. Laid out under the label are a collection of plain looking snacks and a small personal sized cake that looks like much darker chocolate. It is topped with sour looking cherries and actually seems appetizing.

“I see he made you a separate section…” Vaggie mutters and I mutter back.

“Seems like it…” Cindy suddenly shouts out from the staircase, and I turn to look. In the time it took for me to look everything over, everyone has arrived in their pajamas. Cindy beckons me and Vaggie over and has us go change into ours. I slip on my favorite nightgown and Vaggie puts on a pretty purple set of pajama pants and an oversized t-shirt. We head back down, and I notice that no one has seated themselves yet. Charlie excitedly skips towards me in her pink, bow-covered pajamas.

"Happy birthday Ellie! We wanted to let you sit down first, so that you have the best seat in the house!” I find my mouth twitching up into a smile and I happily make myself comfortable in the dead center of the mattress pile. Cindy, in her much more revealing red nightgown, sits down next to me on one side. Angel in a similar outfit in blue, takes up my other side, effectively blocking me off from the pest. Vaggie and Charlie sit behind me, and Husk pulls up a rickety folding chair. I ask if he would be more comfortable sitting on one of the mattresses, but he just says that Alastor would kill him. I roll my eyes and give him a pillow and blanket while he grumbles. Alastor finally enters the room, still in his usual suit and snaps, conjuring a large red armchair next to the pile opposite to Husk.

“That nightgown looks nice on you, darling.” He says coyly as he walks past us and I shudder. Angel glares at him.

“Yeah, nice outfit, smiles, guess ya’ too poor to get a proper set of pajamas like these!” he gestures to his and Cindy’s matching negligee. Alastor just chuckles to himself, producing a glass of whiskey while seating himself in the armchair.

“I have no need to sleep, unlike you lot, therefore have no need for nightclothes.” He looks smug, but his boast just makes him seem more inhuman. “Although I can see the appeal.” His eyes focus in on me, and I pull up blankets to cover myself, causing his smile to broaden. Cindy calls an end to this charade by putting on the first movie. The first selection was chosen by Husk, he selected a movie called ‘Die Hard’. As the movie progresses, I am enthralled with it. I find myself excited at every twist and turn. Angel seems bored, but Cindy seems unsurprised at my enjoyment of the movie. During the scene with the broken glass, Alastor chimes in.

“Ah, yes, glass. I do remember it being particularly nasty to remove, why it slices so cleanly through flesh!” He takes a sip of his whisky, and we all decide to ignore him. The movie comes to a close and I express my enjoyment. Husk seems flustered at my love of the movie and promises to give me a list of similar films. Alastor’s eyes narrow towards Husk but he says nothing. The next film was selected by Angel, and I already know it might be a bit much for me just from the cover. He picked ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and as it starts, I am lulled into a false sense of security, however that quickly morphs into horror as Tim Curry enters the movie. I find myself closing my eyes and covering my ears at all the moments I deem inappropriate. I have Cindy tap my shoulder when they are over. I can also hear dissatisfied radio static emanating from Alastor, though he seems to find my reactions entertaining when I prevent myself from seeing the gross scenes. After it is over, my face is slightly pale and I just mutter out,

“T-the music was good?” Angel bursts into laughter and pinches my cheeks.

“C’mon toots, ya’ such a prude! That wasn’t even the raciest movie I know! Ya’ were hidin’ like ya’ owed the movie money!” He continues to laugh, and I turn bright red. Cindy chuckles and pats my shoulder.

“I knew this would happen when you picked that one Angel, are you trying to turn her against movies!” She teases him and we take a short break for people to grab some snacks. I ask Cindy to grab me a few from the plain section, hoping Alastor wouldn’t notice. I am unfortunately not that lucky.

“Oh? You are feeling up to eating tonight, darling? I thought I would never see the day!” His smug face appears in my periphery. I snuggle down into the blankets further, obscuring my entire body.

“It is a special occasion and I promised to participate. Consuming at least some of what was prepared is part of that. At least you didn’t actually make the crackers from scratch.” He seems to find my logic amusing and bends down to look me in the face.

“Whatever you say, darling~ I am still considering this a victory for myself! However, that was quite an obscene picture show, was it not! Why, I thought you would curl up so tight you would disappear! I found it just as distasteful as you, but not to the point where I felt the need to block off the whole world!” He plays a laugh track and I glare at him, he only grins back, reveling in my obvious discomfort. He suddenly stands, chuckling and makes his way back to his armchair, producing a cup of coffee, as the others trail back over. Cindy hands me a small plate with a few kinds of plain crackers and I can feel Alastor’s eyes boring into me. I decide to try to ignore him, and I take a bite. They are perfectly plain crackers, nice to snack on during the movies, but he is reacting like I just gave him a million dollars. Angel sits down next to me, and I whisper to him about Alastor’s weirdness, watching me eat. He just sighs and says to ignore it as best as I can.

The next movie was chosen by Cindy, and she says that I will definitely like it, although I will have to close my eyes once or twice. I nod and prepare myself, she is going to warn me of the scenes before they happen, so I feel a bit more comfortable. The movie she picked is called ‘Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street’. The movie begins and I thoroughly enjoy the dark aesthetics. Towards the beginning I am told to cover my eyes once, but I can still listen, as it is just singing over the scene. Other than that brief section the movie is very entertaining, and I feel a vindictive sense of justice when he kills Pirelli. I can feel my smile grow during that scene. However, Mrs. Lovett suggests baking them into pies and I am uncomfortably reminded of the demon sitting only a few feet away, grinning happily at the development. Other than that, I love the movie, even though it ends on a tragic note, I am less thrilled about Alastor’s small rant.

“Come now, there is no way they would have escaped law enforcement for that long! They seemed to have no sense of how to cover up a murder. He was also so uncreative in his methods, even I had to change things up occasionally, it gets boring using the same kill method every time!” We are all staring at him in disbelief, but he just keeps talking animatedly. “I also know from experience that the bearcat’s methods were flawed as well, I mean the fingers are one of the worst parts of the body to eat, I am sure those meat pies were dreadful. Human flesh needs to be processed correctly, but that dumb dora can’t even keep a kitchen clean!” He refills his coffee and settles back into the armchair, satisfied with his opinion being heard. We all decide to just ignore that entire rant and move on.

The next movie selected is from Charlie, who seems to enjoy the movie a lot. The title is ‘Labyrinth’ and I excitedly share that I have seen this one! Cindy seems proud of me and the movie starts. I only half remembered the plot and am a little thrown off by a few uncomfortable parallels between my situation and the film. I try my best to ignore them and am still charmed by the film, nonetheless. I suddenly sense a little opportunity and lean over to Cindy who is taking a drink and whisper to her. I can see Alastor’s ears perked up, so I know he will hear me.

“The individual playing the Goblin King has quite an attractive face, they have good features.” Cindy practically does a spit-take, and I can hear a loud cracking noise and a record scratching sound. We all turn to Alastor, who has squeezed his mug so hard that it cracked. The pieces clatter to the floor as he appears frozen in place, eyes wide, smile twitching.

“Are you ok?” Charlie asks hesitatingly, as the final scene of the movie plays out in the background. He seems to recover and snaps the pieces of the mug away, a little too robotically.

“I am perfectly fine, no need to worry, my dear!” He hisses out, very obviously not fine. We all just shrug and watch the remainder of the film. Cindy is trying to suppress giggles as she knows exactly what I just did. We debate taking another break or watching the last film because Alastor refused to provide one. We decide to just watch it before serving cake and opening presents. Vaggie is the one to pick the final film, ‘Clue’. I recognize the name from a board game and clarify with her that it is indeed about the boardgame. She confirms and I feel excited to see how they do it. As the movie starts, I recognize one of the actors from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I balk momentarily but am relieved that this movie is much tamer. This movie is very funny, and I enjoy the multiple ending scenes. With the final movie over, I can feel my eyes trying to drift closed. It is way past my bedtime, but we still have to serve cake and presents…

We all stand and walk over to the food table, most of the snacks have been eaten through the night, and Cindy lights the candles. She tells me to blow them out and make a wish after they all sing happy birthday, Alastor’s voice absent. I blow out the candles and make a wish in my head, I wish that Alastor will just leave me alone… Cindy begins to serve the cake and she hands me the small special portion. I find myself hesitating, because of Alastor’s intense gaze, but I can see the expectation in the other’s eyes. I grab onto the fabric of my nightgown and, sighing, I bring a bite to my mouth and try it. It has a much more bitter flavor from the dark chocolate, and the sour cherries on top compliment it perfectly. His eyes watch my throat as I swallow the portion and his smile stretches larger. I actually find the sweetness to be at a bearable level, however I place it down after the one bite.

“Are you done already, darling? Was it not to your tastes?” Pushing it away from me I look at the table.

“The taste was fine, but your staring makes me uncomfortable.” He chuckles and slides the rest of the cake over to himself, snapping it away, before leaning his chin on his hands. I thought he was going to eat it… That’s what he did at Mimzy’s. However, my brain begins to cloud over slightly, and my eyes grow heavy. I dismiss it as just sleepiness, but as I go to rise, I find my legs not cooperating and I tumble over. I am caught by a pair of red arms, and I struggle. The others at the table seem to realize that something is wrong, and they start to panic.

“What’s wrong Ellie!” I can hear someone say, but I don’t know who.

“W-what…” I can only get out that one word before Alastor shushes me.

“Shhh, darling. It was only a bit of sleeping medication, my dear! They seemed to work surprisingly fast, I do think I got a bit carried away!” Surprise and dread coats my features as I struggle against sleep. “I ensured you couldn’t overdose, my dear, so just let the sleep take you.” He places a hand over my eyes and my eyelids feel like iron as the surroundings erupt into chaos. I slip into a deep dreamless slumber.

When I wake up, I can see daylight leaking in through the windows of Cindy’s room. I feel sluggish as I try to sit up, still unsteady. Looking around I can see the room is vacant. Ugh…My head is killing me… I can see a pile of unopened presents set in the corner of the room and I sigh. Rising to my unsteady feet I amble over to the pile and sit in front of it. I can see that the pile is smaller than last night, and I examine the tags. All of the gifts that were from Alastor have been removed, and I co*ck my head in confusion. I remember that he f*cking drugged me, but I don’t know why the gifts he left are gone… I would have just thrown them away anyway, whatever.

Struggling to my feet, I go to poke my head into the hall, only for the door to swing open, almost knocking me over. I scramble backwards on my shaky legs, and I can see Cindy looking apologetic.

“Oh my god! I am so sorry; I didn’t know you were up!” Holding a hand to my head I sit back onto the side of the bed.

“What time is it? How long have I been asleep?” She starts to fiddle with the hem of her dress and look away from my probing eyes and I feel unease pool in my stomach.

“Well…You have been out for just over two days… He used some pretty nasty sleeping drugs. We searched the kitchen and apparently it was a medley of multiple different kinds.” My eyes widen in shock, and I can feel all of my muscles tense. She sits down next to me and has a tired look in her eye. “Even he seemed surprised by how long you have been out, It has been almost impossible to keep him away, but luckily a territory dispute popped up and he had to go take care of it…” My tenseness eases only slightly as I hear that he is not in the hotel, but my mind swerves to another topic.

“Why have the gifts he provided been removed.” My voice comes out as a whisper but has a desperate edge to it. She cringes at my words and stands up, pacing around. I just sit in silence on the edge of the bed, waiting for what the hell happened. She finally sighs and crosses her arms.

“Well, after you passed out, we had to practically drag you away from him. He wanted to take you to his room, but we absolutely forbade that…He left after partially morphing and did a ‘special broadcast’. He seemed to be more impatient than usual…” I recall Vaggie’s plan and how it seemed to work, but it may have worked too well. My heart sinks when I hear that he wanted to take my to his quarters... “After he left to throw his tantrum, we decided to shift you between rooms to make sure he never knew where you were until you woke up.” Relief floods my veins now that I know he couldn’t do anything when I was out. “When we cleaned up the lobby, Vaggie had a bad feeling about the gifts he left, and we separated them all and opened them up.” She pauses for a while before continuing. “They were a series of objects.” She seems hesitant to continue, but I look her in the eye.

“If you don’t want to say what they are, let me see them. I need to know what he did this time, I hate being left out of the loop.” She sighs and holds a hand to her forehead.

“I thought so… Vaggie wanted to get rid of them, but I prevented it, knowing you would ask to see them. I am going to warn you though Ellie. Sometimes you should just let yourself be out of the loop, I think it would do you some good…” She states those words before opening her closet and removing a set of gifts, already opened, and places them in front of me. I notice that they have numbers on the tags, so I go in order. All the packages are wrapped in red wrapping paper, and the color association makes me shiver. I hesitantly reach into the first package to find a ruby red book. I check the text and I am confident that this was my copy of the book, I can identify a few of the unique flaws in the handwritten words. Sighing I set it to the side and throw the packaging into the trash bag Cindy provides me.

Moving on to the next box, I shift the paper aside to reveal an empty water glass and a white skirt, exactly like the one that was destroyed. Immediately I drop the glass and I can recall the feeling of choking down the water, followed by the burning pain in my palm and the vile wet sensation of him lapping up my blood. I throw this whole package into the trash bag and glance up at Cindy. She is watching me with a sad look in her eye.

The next box is slightly smaller, and I realize why when I look inside. I see a red lacy nightgown, identical to the one in the hallucination, and a black elastic hair tie. Tossing the box in the trash I can feel my hands tremble slightly. I guess he is trying to remind me of literally everything… As though I could ever forget. I open the next box to reveal a cloche filled with pastries, stale from their time in the box. They also get the trash can. Opening the small box labeled five, I pull out a small ornate music box. I look to Cindy in confusion.

“Play it.” I obey and wind the music box, and what comes out causes me to drop it. My voice is singing the exact song he made me sing, I’m Sorry by Aurelio Voltaire.

"How the hell did he do that!” My voice raises in shock and mounting fear. She merely shrugs her shoulder and I chuck it into the garbage bag. The next item is a chess board and I remember defeating him in chess, but I don’t understand the reason for its inclusion. I chuck it in the trash anyway and move along to the next set of items. Cindy cringes as I pull these ones out since she was also there for this. There are three soft voodoo dolls, one has its head destroyed, streamers of color hang limply from its neck. The next one is disemboweled with bright multicolored organs hanging out. The third one has a foot shaped hole punched through it. I unceremoniously chuck them in the trash, apologizing internally to the demons who suffered.

The next box makes me shudder with a visceral reminder of what happened when I was sick, but also how he just drugged me. It is a box of fever medication and a blood drawing kit, butterfly needle included. My stomach churns, remembering his disgusting expression as he stole my blood, and I slipped off into sleep. Throwing it in the trash I pick up the smallest box with my fingers trembling. Cindy places a hand on my shoulder, and I look inside to see a shattered monocle. I drop it on the floor and red colored glass shards scatter, causing me to apologize to Cindy.

“It’s fine, just calm down for a second, before moving on.” She sweeps up the glass and dumps it in the trash bag while I take a moment to collect myself. Eventually my hands diminish their shaking and I move on to the next box. I see that it hasn’t survived the multiple days and is in a clear plastic bag. I can see a collection of blood lining the bottom of the soggy gift and Cindy just sighs.

“Hearts.” I nod and throw it away. The next box is quite large, and I am shocked to find a violin alongside a book written entirely in Latin. My confusion lasts for a few minutes as I rack my brain about what this could mean and I almost want to keep them, however I finally recall what this signifies, and I toss them out immediately. The breakfast where he forced me to divulge my skills. My spine feels a chill and I open the next one to reveal a familiar red dress and necklace. I shoot up and can feel myself shouting.

“I thought I destroyed this f*cking thing!” I find myself ripping and tearing it to shreds again as Cindy just looks on, tired. Making sure that the mess is confined within the rapidly filling trash bag, I move on. The next box is also in a clear plastic bag and I look to Cindy to explain.

“It’s a severed tongue and a spool of white thread with a needle.” My shuddering increases and I drop the package. Cindy helps me pick it up and tosses it out for me, my expression growing weary as well. Finally, the last package has a poster for Mimzy’s and a pack of cigarettes. The scent of tobacco fills my nostrils and I gag, closing the box and it ends up with the rest. My soul feels depleted, and we both just simmer in the heavy atmosphere. My eyes are hollow and not a single thought crosses my mind as I can feel myself growing tired again. Without a word I just get up, move over to my mattress in Cindy’s room, and curl up. She stands and walks over, pulling the covers over my trembling form as I slip back into a slumber. I am not fortunate enough to escape the nightmares this time.

Notes:

Trigger warning, drugging

Chapter 23: Confrontation, Resolution and Selena

Notes:

Trigger warning, eating disorder

Chapter Text

The next few days pass by in a blur as Alastor has yet to return from the territorial dispute. I can feel the usual sense of uneasiness that has become normal as I wake up from my nightmare filled slumber. I make sure to follow my daily routine as best as I can, but as I look in the mirror, I can see heavy dark circles under my eyes and my sunken in cheeks. I hastily tie up my hair and leave, avoiding mirrors for the rest of the day.

Heading to breakfast I arrive just after everyone else, and I grab my meal from the fridge, fingers shaking slightly. I take my usual seat at the table and place my spoon in the soup, not taking the first bite. My hand lifts to the spoon multiple times, and after each failure I place it back in my lap. Cindy leans over and picks up the spoon, taking a bite of the bland meal. She lifts up the bread and takes a bite of that as well without a word. I am finally able to lift my spoon up to my mouth and take a bite of the bland soup, anxiety rising as I wait a few minutes after each bite. I manage to finish half of the meal before throwing the rest in the trash. Angel looks like he wants to say something but hesitates and I make my way to the library.

I enter the library and take a seat at the table, preparing to translate a Greek tome, I push aside the unfinished French book to make room. As I make myself comfortable, I adjust the now looser sleeves of my top and get started on work. I still manage to enter my hyper focused mode but occasionally, I hear a creak of the building settling, and I jump a little. My hands continue to write at a steady pace, and I feel a sense of dread as lunch time rolls around. Forcing myself up, I head to the table and repeat the same process from the morning. Hesitate, someone else tastes it, I am only able to finish about half of it. As lunch winds down I am overcome with an impending sense of doom, and I swivel to look at the dining room door. The others at the table seem to be confused until a familiar clicking is heard, followed by a jazzy tune.

They all look to the door as I force myself to assume a calm façade and turn away. I can hear the door open behind me and the tune grows louder. My shoulders tense and the clicking grows nearer. I can feel him loom over me as I attempt to choke down another spoonful.

“Why, it is nice to see you, darling! It feels like an eternity has passed!” He turns my head to face him, and I can hear the music distort back into the usual radio skipping as his eyes narrow. “My dear! You look as if you haven’t slept in ages!” He lifts one of my wrists, my usually form fitting sleeve sliding down slightly. “You have lost weight as well, you already looked half-way dead before, now you might actually be!” I snatch my wrist back and get up from the table.

“That is none of your business.” I dump the remainder of my meal in the trash can, my appetite well and truly ruined. He chuckles and stops me from leaving the room, one hand on his hip and the other holding the microphone.

“Of course, it is my business, sweetheart! Anything regarding your well being is my business, you should know this by now!” Rolling my eyes, I try to force my way past him, and he seems surprised at my bold approach. He lets me by for once and I stroll over to the couch in the lobby, with him hot on my heels. I can hear Angel following behind him as well, and I sigh. He saunters up beside me as I start in on my embroidery. “You seem rather reticent today, darling, have I done anything to offend recently?” Both me and Angel just glare at him in shock causing him to co*ck his head with a snap.

“You f*ckin’ drugged her ya’ dipsh*t!” Angel shouts at him and he holds a finger to his chin in thought.

“Ah! Is that what you are upset about, darling? I mean, this isn’t the first time I have technically drugged you, so what makes this so different? Besides, it was a due punishment for your repeated disrespect towards me recently. You should have thought it through, my dear, before insulting me in front of strangers!” My nervousness morphs into barely concealed anger, but Angel steps in before I can talk myself into a corner again.

“It wasn’t ok tha’ first time, asshole! But what makes it infinitely f*ckin’ worse this time, is that you slipped it into somethin’ that should have been safe! You always bitch and moan about her not eatin’ your f*ckin’ cookin’ and yet the first time she does so willingly, you knock her ass out for two full f*ckin’ days with a goddamn sleeping drug co*cktail!” His fists are trembling, and Alastor seems completely unrepentant. '

“If it was such a terrible thing, my effeminate fellow, then I guess it was a suitable punishment!” His grin is bright, and I can feel my stomach churn.

“Suitable f*ckin’ punishment! You are a dense motherf*cker, she could f*ckin’ die from the stress you are putting’ her under! Do you even see how much weight she has lost! She can’t even take the first bite of a meal she made her damn self! And even after someone tests it for tampering, she never finishes the damn thing! She can’t even sleep at night because of ya’ stupid existence! When she sleeps in my room, I can hear her wake up hyperventilating every f*ckin’ thirty minutes! Do you not even feel a shred of guilt?” As Angel rants, the rest of the hotel residents filter in and stand around awkwardly. Alastor however simply examines his claws in feigned boredom until he is finished.

“Are you quite finished?” Angel is breathing heavily after such an outpouring of emotion. His face twists into disgust at the blatant disregard. “Very well, I shall be generous and reward your little outburst with a response.” I resume embroidering, knowing that I will need something to calm me down when this bastard talks. He places the microphone in the crook of his arm and gesticulates with the other. “The fact that it has affected the dame so heavily is the whole point of the thing, my good man! It is supposed to be a punishment after all. As for the rest, I am perfectly prepared to assist her against any such self-destructive behaviors, why, I already have the methods prepared in my estate. I am honestly quite flattered that I have been able to disturb her sleep in such a way, but rest assured I have the solution to that as well! As for guilt? No, I don’t really feel guilty at all.” His smile grows to reveal black gums as everyone just glares at him. “Actually, I feel quite proud, that I have reduced a dame with such strong willpower to this point, why she will be agreeing to a deal in no time!” He puffs his chest out and I can feel spite overpowering any self-preservation instincts I have left.

I stand up slowly, causing five pairs of eyes to turn to me. Raising myself up to my full height, still dwarfed by his tall stature, I stride up to him and look him in the eye. My face is stern, and he raises an eyebrow. I hear multiple gasps and a record distortion sound as I do what I have wanted to for weeks. I raise my hand and slap him in the face. He didn’t seem to expect this, as he would have easily been able to stop me in any number of ways. His eyes narrow as he looks down at me, holding a hand to his cheek, not in pain, but in surprise.

“Don’t get so full of yourself. You are nothing but an annoyance. An obstacle. I honestly don’t even see you as a person, just a collection of everything I hate cobbled together into some half-assed excuse for a piece of unnaturally dyed venison. For someone so absorbed with the flavor of my blood, you seem blind to the fact that you are nothing but canner grade meat. I wish I could have been there as you were shot in the head and convinced them to aim for the heart, maybe you wouldn’t have ended up this dense, I guess lead in the brain will do that to you.” Gathering my embroidery in the complete silence, I notice that even the radio static is absent. I turn one last cold glance towards him as he stands stock still, and I climb the stairs to crash in Angels room.

As I enter the room, I can see that my suitcase of clothing is disturbed and I throw the top open, to reveal that every single one of my clothes has been replaced with something else. I recognize some of them from Rosie’s and I can feel a laugh bubble up. I can hear the screeches of radio static all the way from here as he probably goes berserk, and then nothing as he goes to throw a tantrum with a broadcast. I am absolutely thrilled that he has provided me with the perfect outlet for my pent-up aggression, and I begin to systematically destroy each and every dress. I make sure that they are as unsalvageable as humanly possible. I even bring in the usage of my scissors, cutting fun shapes out of the expensive and luxurious fabrics. There is a blue one that I find quite lovely, so I take extra time cutting it into fine strips. I make sure to pile all the fabric scraps in the suitcase, to prevent Angel from having to clean up after me. As I finish the last one, I decide that I have already screwed myself over, why not go the extra mile.

I lift the suitcase full of destroyed dress confetti and I exit the room. I can tell he has left the building, due to his loud exit, so I know I am safe. I make my way down the hallways until I reach his door. Sitting down on the floor and unzipping the suitcase, I decide to make this a fun work of art. Leaving the door for a few minutes I return with a large container of glue and a few bobby pins. I try the door to find it locked, as expected. Making use of a skill I never anticipated using again, I pick the lock of the door. Let’s see how he likes an invasion of privacy. It opens easily, these doors are not even close to pick proof, and I saunter in.

His room is completely different from the other’s that I have seen, much larger and more luxurious. I can tell that everything in here cost a pretty penny, that is just perfect. I start with the plush set of couches, and I splash glue on them both, sprinkling dress bits over top of it, in a pleasing palette of blue and pink. My attentions shift to a large mahogany desk sitting in the corner of the room. I apply an even coat of glue to the top and make a beautiful collage of colors on the top. Finally, I make my way over to the unused bed and absolutely soak the fabric in the rest of the glue and overturn the remainder of the fabric scraps into it. Surveying my work, I zip up the suitcase and carry it back to Angels room.

Upon arrival I replace the suitcase and throw myself onto the mattress hugging my pillow tightly, feeling a mix of elation and terror at what I have just done. So much for convincing him I am on the verge of making a deal with him… I think I just threw that away…I need to make sure that I reimburse Charlie for the borrowed glue… My head is swimming with all the inevitabilities that will come about from this and I, for once, slip into a dreamless sleep naturally.

………….

After a particularly nasty special broadcast, Rosie sighs and switches off her radio. I wonder what happened this time… I am getting sick and tired of his constant visits. As if on cue the tinkling of the entrance bell accompanied by the familiar transatlantic voice summons her to the front. She informs an employee who sighs in exasperation as they begin to set up the tea table. She strides to the front only to be met with Alastor, still covered from head to toe in blood and gore. He has a dangerous look in his eye, his smile dangerous, yellow teeth-stained red.

“Alastor! You are getting blood on the carpet!” She can’t help but raise her voice and he seems to only notice now as she points it out. He clears his throat, snapping, and the blood dissolves away into a shadowy powder. His eyes return to their narrowed position, and he walks past her to the tearoom without a greeting. A pit forms in her stomach, this isn’t good. She follows behind him at an appropriate distance, ears ringing from the violent radio static. They reach the room, and he takes a seat, sipping the black coffee. She sits hesitantly and hazards a conversation starter.

“What’s wrong Alastor? You seem upset!” She crosses her fingers under the table that this is the right tactic to deal with the seemingly unstable psychopath in front of her. He seems to lighten up slightly and she sighs internally.

“My dear Rosie, there has been an unsatisfactory development. The little dame has much more spirit than I anticipated, it seems neither the courting tactic, nor the deal avenue is working. She managed to trick even me, into thinking I was close to success only to snatch it from my hands! What an invigorating little sheba! She is obviously worn down, but at this rate she is more likely to end up dead. Her pride is too firm, it seems.” He runs a hand through his red and black hair, between the antler and ears, looking her in the eyes. “However, despite her poor state, her spite is as strong as ever it seems. Imagine my surprise when I returned to my room from blowing off some steam only to find she has not only destroyed every single dress I have gifted her but has made an art project with them in my quarters!” He seems to find this both amusing and shocking, laughing in a stilted manner with no laugh track. Rosie reacts in a combination of shock and awe. This girl has some nerve, I knew that she was stubborn, but this is on a whole new level! She takes a sip of her tea.

“Why, that is honestly surprising! I cannot think of a single demon who would destroy your quarters like that! What are you planning on doing next? Are you giving up on this girl?” That made him laugh as his grin grows menacingly. Rosie can’t help but shift uncomfortably.

“Of course not! That is wacky nonsense! The more she resists the more I want her! However, it seems I am forced to pursue a more extreme method, that is part of the reason I came here. I wish to put in an order, my dear Rosie!” She shifts in her seat uncomfortably before asking him to continue, trepidation filling he veins.

“What is it you might need; will it be another rush order?” Alastor chuckles and nods his head.

“You’re on the trolley, my dear! I will require every book you can find on soul-binding!” Rosie drops her teacup, which shatters on the floor. Frozen in shock, her eyes widen.

“Y-you aren’t serious are you! Nobody has used that technique in centuries!” She grips the table with her hands so tightly that creaking is heard. Alastor merely takes a sip of his coffee, with his trademark grin and narrows his eyes.

"Of course, I am serious, my dear! I made it extremely clear that I would use extreme means if necessary, and it has become necessary!” He waves the microphone in emphasis. Rosie is still reeling in horror as Alastor rises from his seat and circles the table. “You will be able to provide them won’t you, my dear?” His voice has a dangerous edge, and she can feel her heart rate rise not looking at him.

“Y-yes, I can get them, but is this really a good idea? I know that you are interested in her now, but this is permanent, not even lucifer can reverse this! Not only that but if she is ever apart for any more than a week you will start to obsess, and not like right now, think one-hundred times worse!” He chuckles darkly setting a hand on her shoulder firmly.

“My dear, I do not think it is your place to question my decisions regarding this matter. I am already aware of the side effects, and I have deemed them acceptable.” His grip tightens and he leans in closer, the scent of blood increases. “You will provide them, correct?” There is no room for argument in his voice, she takes a deep breath.

“Yes.” I’m sorry Eleanor, I value my life too much to refuse… Alastor stands up again and plays a cheering sound effect.

“Splendid to hear, my dear! I was worried you would try to refuse, but luckily for you that wasn’t the case!” She quickly glances around to see the shadows melting back to normal, and sighs in relief, her fingers trembling faintly. “Now, onto the second order of business! While I research the process and acquire the necessary items for the soul-binding ritual, I will need to lower her defenses again! Do you have any recommendations, my dear Rosie?” Summoning an employee to clean up the mess, she puts a finger to her chin in thought.

“Well, currently she is hyperaware of your every move because she feels like her life depends on it… she isn’t wrong, but that is besides the point. In my opinion, what you should do is separate from her.” He raises an eyebrow and leans in his chair, closer to Rosie. “I don’t mean give up on her, I mean make her think you have. Say you’ve lost interest and leave her alone completely.” He chuckles resting his chin in his hands, elbows on the table. “She will be suspicious at first, but you could always try to convince her that you have moved on. You could shift your attention to someone else? I don’t know who would work, but I’m sure you will come up with something.” She places her hands in her lap, indicating that she is done with her idea.

“Now that is just a hotsy-totsy idea, my dear! It will be the perfect cover while I do my research and place the finishing touches on her quarters in my estate! Speaking of, are the items I ordered last time ready yet?” She nods and leads him to the storage room.

“Here are the boxes that contain all of the items you ordered.” She motions to the first one. “This one contains all of the clothing and bed linens,” She opens it, and he surveys that it is filled to the brim with a variety of fine clothing and night dresses, as well as plenty of bed linens in various colors. “Moving on, this is the box that has all the smaller luxury goods and necessities.” He opens it this time, revealing a massive quantity of jewelry, beauty products, and accessories. It also has things like fine combs, brushes, and bathing goods. “Finally, I am just going to call this box medical supplies.” She averts her eyes as he dutifully sorts through it. There are the sedatives that he had ordered a while ago, along with a large quantity of clean syringes alongside a kit of scalpels with ornate handles, and a large quantity of gauze and bandages. There is a wound suturing kit as well as a large variety of medications for various ailments that a human could have, some of them have been smuggled from the human world. He seems pleased with the array of goods and snaps, sending them into his shadows. Rosie just sighs and leads him to the last item, he grins and circles around the wheelchair, taking in the fine craftsmanship. It is made of a lovely cherry wood and has carvings of deer on the back of it. The seat is upholstered with red cushions and there appears to be a storage section reachable by the user. However, it has no way to maneuver it from inside the chair, requiring a second person to operate. He snaps the chair away into the shadows.

“Splendid Rosie, there is a reason I rely on your services my dear! Every item is satisfactory, you will find that the funds have been wired to you already, I included a little bonus for the quality of the goods as well!” She manages a bright smile; this is probably the guiltiest I have ever felt working with a customer on such a large order. Somehow the bonus just makes it worse… “Well, today was very productive, my dear! I will be expecting those books delivered as soon as possible! I must, however, say my goodbyes, I have things to plan!” He politely excuses himself and departs the store. Rosie calls over all her employees and gives them their orders.

“All right. We have another rush order from Alastor, you know what that means.” A sigh ripples through them, but the maintain decorum in front of their boss. “This job requires the peak of discretion and secrecy, you know what he did last time when his order got around to the news…” Shivers run down the spines of the gathered employees, and they stand up a bit straighter. “We are to acquire every book about soul-binding that we can find.” There is no extreme response from the gathered crowd, only a few confused noises, but Rosie does not enlighten them on what exactly it is. “I would suggest refraining from doing your own research, unless you really want to know what a man like The Radio Demon is planning.” She turns and enters her personal office, reclining in a comfortable chair, she places a hand on her forehead and sighs.

………….

Ugh… This f*cking sucks… I feel my stomach echoing with hunger as I roam the streets. I need to find a new mark and quick, I don’t think I can handle walking around on an empty stomach anymore. Ducking into an alleyway, I can see a shop named Rosie’s Emporium, and I can already tell it’s a highbrow place. My heart soars as I can see a tall thin demon dressed in a red pinstripe suite exit the store and my fingers start to twitch with excitement. Hell yeah! This will be the first rich target since falling down to this hellhole… I mean I guess it is hell, but, whatever. He looks like some sort of deer demon, so he can’t be that dangerous, I can see the hoof prints on the bottoms of his shoes and the small antlers. His bright red hair is fringed with black, and his ears stick straight up, mirroring this color scheme. He seems to be swinging around some sort of… cane? I can’t really tell from this distance…I can see his red, slightly tattered, coattails swaying as he walks like some sort of proper gentleman. Hmm, tattered, maybe he is only playing up his status… I can see that he is the only demon on the whole street, so I am careful not to be spotted, slipping through the alleyways.

Surprisingly I find quite a few demons hiding in the alleys as I flit past, and they all look rather scared, staring out at my target. I startle slightly as he suddenly makes his cane disappear, folding his thin arms behind his back in a proper manner, and walks perfectly ramrod straight. Managing to get a bit closer this time, I realize that I can hear… music? Is that jazz? How the hell is he playing jazz! He seems to be humming along with the tune, and the steady clicking of his footsteps seem to alert more demons down the street and they appear to flee and hide as well. I wonder if this guy is some sort of bigshot, his fingers look more like claws… What type of deer demon is this guy? Whatever, I just need to sneak up close and take what I can before slipping away… I pass a few posters on the wall, but I don’t stop to examine them, focused intently on my target. Managing to get a bit closer, the jazz is quite loud. Perfect, it should cover up any small sounds that I make, this guy should really be more careful! Managing to get ahead of him through some side alleys I look for a good area.

Picking the perfect spot to carry out my plan I lie in wait, seeing him from the front is a completely different experience. He has this weird permanent smile full of large yellow teeth, it sends a chill down my spine, but I remind myself that all demons have sharp teeth. He has red eyes that almost seem to glow, and a red monocle is sat over his right eye. I wonder if his vision is impaired on that side, I should approach from there… His skin is corpse gray and as a whole, he appears like a gentleman with a few rough edges. The perfect moment occurs and I creep towards him quickly, remaining silent. I reach his side and he still hasn’t looked over, I reach for his pocket… Only to be grabbed roughly by the wrist. Oh f*ck! He lifts me off the ground effortlessly and dangles me from my wrist in the air, eyes narrowed. The jazz has changed into what sounds like radio static violently switching stations.

“Now then, what is this? Some ragamuffin trying to pick a few pockets, are we?” Shooting pains run through my wrist as he squeezes harder. Damn, this guy is strong…

“I wasn’t doing anything!” My hoarse voice squeaks out and the man in red just chuckles and waves me back and forth, my wrist feeling like it is going to snap.

“You call sneaking up on someone, nothing, my dear? Why, I consider it quite rude!” He pulls me closer to his face and I am hit with the scent of blood from his hot breath. Warning signals shoot through as I realize this is not some defenseless deer demon.

“W-who are you! Let me go, I won’t try to steal from you again!” His smile somehow twists larger, revealing his gums, which I realize are black as coal. He co*cks his head with a snap as if mocking me.

“Well, you appear to be new, so it is only natural that you wouldn’t know who I am! However, I feel that it is unnecessary to explain these things to someone who is fated to die.” His eyes seem to turn into strange dial things, and I can feel my heart rate speed up. Out of the corners of my eyes I can see shadows slowly closing in. I squeeze my eyes shut and start begging for my life.

“Please don’t kill me! I’ll do anything, just don’t kill me!” My body is prepared for the impending pain, but instead nothing happens.

“Hmmm,” I crack my eyes open to see him apparently lost in thought, other hand resting on his chin. “Perhaps, you do have a use besides my next meal…” He’s a f*cking cannibal! sh*t! He lightly shakes me by my wrist again, but his grip lightens. “You see I am in need of a new recruit for a problem I have, you seem to be a perfect fit, my dear!” He narrows his eyes. “Would you like to make a deal with me? I can provide you with your wildest dreams! All you need to do is help me out a bit, what do you say?” He seems to be looking at me expectantly and I feel myself chomping at the bit to take this chance to escape death. What should I ask for? I don’t know just how much he is able to give, or is willing to…

“I-I’ll make a deal with you, just put me down!” He chuckles and drops me on the spot, I dust myself off, I just know he will kill me if I run… I manage to prevent my flight reflex and stand up as straight as possible. He raises an eyebrow at my theatrics, but waits for my terms, nonetheless. “I-I want ten thousand dollars!” He seems pleased by my request, and I can see pure joy in his red eyes.

“Why, of course, my dear! Money is tough when you first get to hell, isn’t it!” He places a clawed hand on his chest and gestures at me with the other. “I can tell that you are down on your luck, dear! I will happily part with such a large sum of money for your sake, just don’t forget to keep your end of the deal!” He bends at the waist, making eye contact with my smaller stature, holding a large seemingly gloved hand out, and a green glow washes over the surroundings. I am once again assaulted with the scent of blood and his face looks positively sinister in this light. However, I know this is my only way out, so I raise my hand to his, grasping it as tightly as I can and shake. Immediately I am overwhelmed by burning pain in my veins, my eyes shoot open as I take in his laughing form. Black spots cover my vision, and I can feel my consciousness leave my body.

I can feel my eyes flutter open, and I start upwards. Looking around I can see that I am in some sort of room, it appears to be some sort of office. Ah, f*ck… I almost forgot about what just happened…He could have f*cking told me it would hurt, that bastard! My eyes dart over everything taking in a large dark wooden desk and a back wall full of books. I spot a huge bookcase full of papers, different from the ones filled with books, my head tilts as I wonder what they are. Double-checking that I am alone in this quite room, I rise to my feet quietly, and inch over to the shelf. My lithe fingers pick a few of the papers at random. My eyes widen as I realize what exactly I am holding. C-contracts? There’s f*cking thousands of them! Maybe even more! Flipping hastily through them I can see that most of them have requests ranging from trivial to wildly excessive. I could have asked for so much f*cking more than ten thousand dollars… However, as my eyes dip to the contractor’s price I can feel my face pale. Some of them have very specific requests, but most of them have two lines: The contractor owns the contracted’s soul, indefinitely. The contracted must follow orders from the contractor. My hands begin to shake as I realize just how badly I f*cked up.

“Quite a little snoop aren’t we, my dear!” I practically jump out of my skin at the sudden transatlantic voice laced with static, and I whip around. He is seated primly at his desk, a piece of paper held between two fingers, his other hand holding what I can now tell is a microphone. My eyes are as wide as saucers, and I tremblingly place the papers back on the shelf. “Very good, now, why don’t you take a seat across from me, dear. We should go over the details of your new purpose.” His smile grows and I can feel my blood freeze. I stiffly walk over to his desk and take a seat across from him. His eyes follow me the whole way.

“W-what is the price of my deal? I-I saw…on the others….” He chuckles and theatrically holds the paper in his hands up to his face. He dismisses the microphone into shadows and adjusts his monocle.

“Good question, dear, although I must say you are a little late in asking! The terms of your little deal are as such: The contactor will provide the contracted with ten thousand dollars. In return the contractor owns the contracted’s soul, indefinitely. The contracted must follow orders from the contractor.” My face somehow pales even further, and I can feel my limbs tremble. He looks at me like the cat that caught the canary and I feel despair enter my veins. He motions to a small package on my side of the desk, and I pick it up. “You will find ten thousand dollars enclosed, my dear! Don’t spend it all in one place!” I look inside to see that he is correct. Slipping it into my oversized jacket, I look back up at him.

“W-what are you going to make me do?” My voice is meek and mild, he seems to find this hilarious, and I can hear a laugh track pervade the room, startling me.

“No need to be so scared, my dear! It’s not as if I will make you do anything ridiculous!” My eyes widen hopefully. “You see, I did not lie when I said I needed a new recruit, my dear! You just happened to appear at the perfect interval, how jake!” My eyebrows knit together, and I speak haltingly.

“Recruit for what? Why do you need me?” He chuckles and snaps, sending the paper over to the shelf, where it files itself. He temples his hands and looms over me from behing the desk, staring into me.

“I have a little project that I am working on, to obtain what I want! I am in need of a little helper to prevent prying eyes from detecting my change in tactics!” My eyebrows shoot up.

“That barely told me anything!” I can feel desperation overtake me. “I just want a straight answer! I don’t even know your name and you are asking me to help you in some huge scheme!” He leans backwards eyes narrowing.

“I would watch my temper if I were you. I can easily find another suitable candidate; it would be extremely simple to erase you.” My face goes pale again, and I settle myself down. “Very well, I shall tell you a ‘straight answer’, however, if you regret knowing what you are helping me with, you only have yourself to blame!” He rises suddenly and begins to launch into an explanation, gesturing the whole way through. “You see, my dear, I am in the middle of pursuing a fiery dame! My intention is to make her my little wife, however, it appears that she has extremely strong willpower. None of my tactics to coerce her into a deal have worked thus far, so I am being forced to use a more extreme method. However, I require a bit of time to obtain the required items to perform a forced soul-binding ritual. That is where you come in my dear!” My face is twisted in horror as I realize what exactly he is roping me into. “She is currently on high alert, and the rest of the individuals near her are as well! I intend to feign loss of interest in the sheba, with you as my new target! Then when my affairs are in order, I shall ask her one final time for a deal. If she refuses, then I will unfortunately have to perform the ritual.” He turns on his heel, eyes now boring into me, as I feel my heart race. “Any questions, my dear!”

“W-what h-have you done to put them on h-high alert?” He is trying to force this poor woman into marriage! What the f*ck! And I have to play along with his twisted ploy!

“I guess that would be an important detail, since you will have to play at her role for a while… Lets see,” He holds a finger to his chin as he debates on how to phrase it. “Well, I think the most recent thing that they are upset about is when I slipped a little something into her food as punishment, I mean I don't understand why they are so upset this time! The last time I drugged her; they weren’t as up in arms…” The look on his face, however, tells me that he knows exactly why they are upset. “I guess there is also the time that my darling was refusing to eat my cooking, so I ensured that she ate a lovely batch of pastries. It seems they were upset at the forceful nature of my methods, but oh well, to each their own.” How…how did he force her to eat them… I don’t want to know… “Hmm, I guess they were also quite upset after our first kiss! I mean it’s not my fault that my teeth are so sharp, I truly didn’t intend for her to need stitches, although the wounds were quite lovely! She almost bit through my tongue anyway, so I consider it even. I even healed her up after that, and how does she repay me? She tries to go out with her vile harlot friends, I couldn’t just let that happen, so I invited myself along. However, that was truly a win for me, because she had a dreadful time! She has such a delicate constitution, that she really isn’t cut out for such places…” He continues to monologue about a whole bevy of f*cked up things and I can feel my stomach churn. This guy is a psycho… I need to pretend to have his attention? Ugh… I think I might vomit…

“Anyway, now that you know the lurid details, I believe I should prepare you for your role!” My stomach does flips, and I double over. “Don’t flatter yourself, dear, I don’t find you attractive in any sense of the word. In fact, I haven’t had an ounce of interest in romance for my entire living and dead life, my darling is the only one who has inspired me so!” I feel guilty at the relief that washes over me, but I just ask him to continue. “Yes, your orders are to check into the Hazbin Hotel and just live your life normally. However, you are forbidden from revealing a connection between us, and if you try to warn my darling in any way,” the radio distortion over his voice grows more intense and the surroundings glow with small symbols, I sink into my chair petrified, “I will make sure that you are erased in the most painful way possible. Understood?” My head nods like a broken bobblehead doll and he immediately return to his normal demeanor.

“W-what is s-she like…” I can’t hold back my curiosity and it seems like he didn’t expect this question. He pauses looking intently through me and I shy away from the intensity. His eyes glow with an undefinable emotion and he turns on his heel, facing away from me.

“You wish to know more about my darling? I guess I can oblige you, you will have to get along with them for a while anyhow. The first thing that you should know, is that she is not a demon.” I gasp in confusion, I can see his grin in side profile. “Yes, she is a human, not yet deceased. There was a summoning incident and she ended up her by complete chance! Imagine my luck! Other than that, she is an extremely stubborn dame, and her intelligence is absolutely splendid! Her blood is absolutely divine, the flavor is unparalleled!” TMI, asshole… “Her constitution is extremely delicate, and yet she insists on living a difficult life without luxuries. I plan on remedying that as soon as she falls in my grasp, of course. Her face is rather unexpressive to the casual observer, but her eyes are truly spectacular! I can see every trace of pain, fear, and rage filter through them at my every action!” Of course… Why is he such a sad*st! “She is also as pure as the driven snow! Why, just a few days ago, the rabble at the hotel planned some sort of picture show evening, and every time an obscene scene played, she shut her eyes and covered her ears! It was honestly difficult to not laugh at the dame’s shy reaction!” This guy creeps me the f*ck out… I am sort of glad that I am not this chick, wait, what is her name? He hasn’t used her name once! Wait, what the hell is his name! His monologue continues, but during a lull in his incessant animated speech I interrupt.

“Um… What is her name, and what is your name? You never introduced yourself…” He seems to freeze, and a record scratching sound is heard. I guess that means he was caught off guard? He summons the microphone again and slips back into his usual demeaner.

“Why, how rude of me to have forgotten such an integral part of our introduction!” He strides over to me and shakes my hand; phantom pains shoot up my arm from the previous handshake. “The name’s Alastor, what might your name be, my dear?” His head co*cks with a snap, I swear that always sounds like it f*cking hurts…

“My name is Selena…” He just maintains the grin and stands back up straight.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, my dear! And the other name you requested was of my darling little human, correct?” I nod. “Yes, her name is Eleanor. The filth tends to shorten her name to Ellie, but I expect you to maintain decorum.” Making sure that I nod, I begin to really want to meet this poor girl. Maybe I can try to be her friend, until the inevitable happens…

Alastor continues to brief me on the intricacies of how this is going to work, until the sun sets. He eventually dismisses me to a small room in his estate. As we walk to the room, we pass by a lovely wooden door. It is heavily carved; all of the scenes contain a beautiful doe. However, on the door handle I can see a heavy-duty iron lock and I feel a chill go up my spine. I catch my self staring at the beautiful carvings and he seems to notice as well.

“That room is off limits, my dear! It is intended for my little wife; I still have to apply the finishing touches. Your timing is honestly impeccable! I was just departing from my dear friend Rosie’s with the last of the needed items!” He ushers me along and opens a door for me. It appears to be a simple guest room. “There we are, dear, you shall stay in this room until I call on you to fulfill your duty. You may use the kitchen as you please, I expect you will keep it clean and tidy, there will be a penalty if you don’t, of course. However, unless you share my tastes, I would avoid the meat storage. Along those lines, you should avoid leaving the estate, we are in the colony after all!” He chuckles at my horrified expression. “You are to remain looking this shabby, it will be more convincing when you check in. Make yourself comfortable, dear, I am expected back at the hotel!” He shuts the door behind him, and I collapse on the twin sized bed, covered in soft flannel sheets. This is a pretty nice bed… I guess he was rich, he said this is an estate, but the colony? Does he mean I am in the f*cking cannibal colony! Goddamn it! I fume to myself for the rest of the evening, until I force myself to sleep.

Chapter 24: Lost Interest

Chapter Text

Waking up, feeling refreshed, I make my way hesitantly down the stairs. I can see everyone is gathered in the lobby minus Alastor, and I take a deep breath. Walking towards them, Cindy notices me and jumps up from her seat on the couch.

“Ellie, are you ok!” She rushes over and drowns me in a large hug. Angel follows after her and pats my shoulders with one of his hands.

“I’ve seen you mad before toots, but not mad enough ta’ loop around ta’ bein’ calm… You’re f*ckin’ brutal! If he wasn’t already dead, I think that woulda killed him again!” I can feel a blush rise to my cheeks and Angel scoffs. “Yeah, that’s good and all but what tha hell are we gonna do now? It’s like he has been escalatin’ recently, ya’ got any ideas why?” Vaggie is the one to stand up and answer this question.

“I suggested that we try to make him think she is close to making a deal, but it worked way to well… I think that he drugged the food, because she still rejected the deal after giving him hope. He also seemed to think that her poor state is due to her being close to breaking, but…” She pauses and looks at me. “I think you may have disproved that with your put-down. He seemed absolutely pissed off. He almost broke the contract, I think, because he lunged at me before he froze and disappeared. I thought he was going to destroy the damn lobby! But maybe he just thinks you are cornered…” I shake my head and look away bashfully.

“I might have done something else… I think that I may have well and truly ruined that plan…” She raises and eyebrow and Angel shakes me a little.

“What did ya’ do toots!” Twiddling my fingers behind my back like a child who doesn’t want to get in trouble, my voice comes out meekly.

“Well… He replaced all my clothes with the rejected ones from Rosie’s…” Charlie nods, remembering the shopping trip. “I may or may not have destroyed them all…” Vaggie laughs and Cindy seems relieved.

“Is that all? That isn’t any different from what you have done before!”

“That is not all.” Their faces turn serious again, and I continue in a fast pace. “I may or may not have broken into his room and glued all of the pieces of fabric to his furniture.” My face is bright red with embarrassment, and they all just stare at me with owlish eyes.

“Ya’ what…” Angel sputters, and Cindy holds a hand to her forehead.

“I am sorry to ask, but can I please borrow a few sets of clothing? I only have what I am wearing…” Vaggie is still frozen in shock, but Charlie nods vacantly. Husk seems to be the only one on his feet.

“Why the f*ck would you do that, kid… I have never seen anyone pull this kinda stunt on Al, I have no clue how he will react…” My face morphs into one of apathy.

“It’s not like he can do any worse than he has already. I don’t know why I did it, but I needed to do something… I couldn’t just sit around and mope forever without retaliating in some way. If I can’t hurt or kill him, due to a difference in strength, I needed to be petty.” I voice out my logic and it seems to make sense to them. They don’t endorse it, but they can’t blame me. However, the atmosphere of the room grows tense as we hear the lobby doors open. The familiar clicking, jazz, and humming makes my stomach sink like a stone. He ambles towards us, seeming completely unphased.

“Why hello, my friends, what brings you to the lobby, with your little gathering!” I am unsettled as he looks around and his gaze does not settle on me for once. I can feel a chill run down my spine, and I hug my arms. Vaggie is the one to step up.

“We were just talking about how you are a prick.” She glares at him, causing him to chuckle.

“Oh? I see, well you don’t need to worry about my antics anymore, my dear. I have lost interest in the human.” He sends a disinterested gaze towards me, and I can feel a wave of suspicion. I can tell that I am not the only one, as Angel steps up to him.

“What tha’ hell are ya’ talkin’ about! Ya’ think we are gonna believe that bullsh*t!” His fists are clenched and Cindy stomps up to Alastor as well.

“Yeah, we aren’t stupid, you f*cking bitch!” Her insult causes him to raise an eyebrow, but he just looks at his nails casually.

“You’re free to not believe me, but it doesn’t change the truth, my friends. Why, the bearcat made quite an art project in my quarters. Is that honestly the best you could come up with? I can tell that you’ve run out of entertainment for me, so I am moving on to greener pastures, dear.” Part of me feels indignance at the insults, but I can’t help but grin brightly.

“You might be playing a trick again, but if you are not, I am glad we could come to an agreement.” He seems bored by my response, and I can’t help but giggle. The others all seem lost, but Husk just sighs.

“It’s about f*cking time. I know you have the attention span of a fruit fly; I was getting worried that you’d changed.” Alastor rolls his eyes, grin still present. Husk begins to head for the bar.

“There is no need for insults, Husker my good man!” He follows along behind Husk, set on bothering him at the bar. I look over at Angel and his expression is bathed in disbelief.

“You said you could tell from his eyes, right? Well, what is your verdict, Angel?” My giddy voice rings out and I clap a hand over my mouth when I realize how loud my voice was. Sending a glance over to the bar, I can see he hasn’t even positioned an ear in our direction. My smile grows again, butterflies filling my stomach.

“I honestly don’t know what ta’ say… He didn’t have tha’ look and his gaze didn’t linger… It’s like night and f*ckin’ day…” My excitement reaches outer bounds, and I can feel myself become elated. Cindy, however, step in and places a hand on my shoulder.

“Calm down, Ellie! I know it seems like the best-case scenario, but you can’t get too excited. What if he is just trying to fool us.” Vaggie nods and voices her agreement. Charlie seems torn.

“I honestly don’t know what to think… He seems to have moved on, but… He is a trickster for sure. He could easily be tricking us, but if he isn’t then we can finally let out a breath of relief.” I try to collect myself and I lead our group into the dining room, far from his prying ears. I offer an idea.

“I have a suggestion. How about we put him to the test.” I can see interested gazes, and a frown from Vaggie.

“I don’t want you to be in danger if he is tricking you, though…”

“I know the risks, but… how else will we know?” She is not happy about it but she tells me to continue my idea. “No more guards. I will spend more time out in the open, and I will move back into my own room.” I can hear a few gasps, and Cindy seems completely against it.

“What if he does something! He could corner you easily and do who knows what!” She says heatedly but I shake my head.

“I am willing to take the risk. The moment that I think he is faking his disinterest I will immediately find one of you. However, if he truly does leave me alone, I will leave the final decision up to you all. You can take a vote at the end of the week. What do you think?” I can still sense some hesitance, but no one voices their displeasure. We all disperse, and I take my first risk in months. I head to the library alone.

Entering the library, I am hit with a sense of paranoia, but I power through it and take a seat in the infamous chair. I can see the unfinished part of it now that I look closer, and I write a note to get it repaired. Picking up where I left off from yesterday’s work, I start to transcribe it. The day wears on and I am not interrupted a single time. My shoulders are tense from anticipation, but I wrap up for the evening. Leaving the library, I set out to find Charlie and ask about those clothes, and my room. However, as I am walking through the halls, I can feel my heart stop. Alastor is in the hall, walking towards me. Forcing my feet to continue walking, I purposefully keep my eyes away from him, focusing directly in front of myself with my head help high. Anticipation racks my form, but he walks right past me and enters the library. No acknowledgement of any kind. My heart sings and I practically skip the rest of the way to Charlie.

When I find her, I tell her what just happened, and she seems genuinely happy about it. She gives me some of her old clothes and we plan to get me some more tomorrow.

“So, is the room livable still? The last time I saw it, there was a bit of a mess…” She looks down awkwardly.

“Well… We couldn’t get all of the stains out, so I was just going to give you another room, until we can sort it out. We might need to get a professional company.” I feel a shiver, but it doesn’t bring down my soaring mood. She hands me the key to my new room, and I make my way there, alone.

Unlocking the door, I am met with a similar sight of my original room before it was lived in. I place my clothes in the closet, and I unpack my toiletries from their bag and set up the restroom. For once since I have gotten here, I have felt comfortable to take a bath. Running the water, I strip down to my undergarments. Feeling suddenly exposed, I feel a shudder run down my spine, and I wrap a towel around myself. While the bath fills, I do a once over of my room. Nothing is different. I check my locks and they are untampered with. Re-entering the restroom, I lock the door and I see the bath is filled. Turning off the faucet, I take off the towel and finish undressing, before slipping into the warm water. The warmth eases my tense muscles and I look over my overly thin body. I am going to need to eat more… I guess I will postpone fasting until I get my weight back up to normal… My tension leaves me, and I stay in the tub until the water cools.

After exiting the bath, I towel myself off and comb out my hair, letting it dry before I head to bed. In the interim I crack open one of my books and decide to read in the armchair. My heart skips a beat when I think I hear something, but it turns out to be the wind outside. My nerves seem to calm considerably, and once my hair is dry, I set up my makeshift floor bed. I have slept on enough overly soft mattresses to last me a lifetime… Laying down, I feel a sense of contentment overtake me, and I slip into a deep slumber.

The days pass in a similar way, Alastor sparing me not a second glance the entire time. My mood begins to rise, and I can feel my shakes going away. I am finally able to keep down my entire meals, and I ensure that I am eating every day. The rest of the hotel residents seem to be slowly coming to the same conclusion: He seems to legitimately have moved on! We all meet at the end of the week and decide unanimously that I am allowed to continue being alone. Cindy seems downright elated, and we embrace like we just won a war. Angel also seems happy, but he suppresses it behind his usually rough exterior. Vaggie is the only one who seems slightly suspicious still, but she still admits that she has no proof.

The next day I wake up bright and early and prepare for the day. The dark circles are gone from under my eyes, and I can feel a return to semi-normalcy. I still wish I could get out of here… I miss the human world, where I can go anywhere, I want and do what I want as well. Sighing I put my hair up and read until breakfast. As I make my way down the stairs I look over to the front desk and see a small demon that I have never seen before. In shock I rush back up the stairs and grab the fake demon horns and sharp teeth from the night out, and I affix them as convincingly as possible. Heading back out, the demon is still at the counter, she seems to be a bit mouse like, and I make my way over to introduce myself. Husk looks up briefly in shock but sees the horns and teeth as I flash him a smile, he calms immediately.

“Hello, are you checking into the hotel?” The demon jumps and I apologize for scaring them, they seem very nervous, and I look over their clothing. Husk chimes in.

“They’re new, they must have just fallen. They don’t know jack sh*t about hell.” I nod and address the small mouse demon again.

“Hi, my name is Eleanor, you can call me Ellie! I remember being new in hell, it was horrible! What is your name?” Her eyes seem to widen in surprise, and I am slightly thrown off guard before she rushes into a speedy introduction.

“Um, hi, my name is Selena. Can I still call you Eleanor, I don’t like shortening people’s names…” She glances around nervously, and I giggle at her obvious discomfort.

“Feel free to call me by my full name, I don’t mind!” She seems relieved that I don’t take offense. She looks around again before asking me questions in a halting voice.

“So, you are pretty new in hell too, right?” I nod. “How has your life been so far, I don’t really know what to expect…” My face falls a little and I can see her face twist into an apologetic look.

“My stay in hell has been…eventful… I don’t really want to talk about it…” She nods like a bobble head and tries to change the subject.

“That’s fine, really, I didn’t mean to ask you such a rude question! Umm… What do you do here in the hotel? Are you a guest or an employee?” My shoulders lose their tension as the topic changes, and I put on my friendly face again.

“Ah yes! That is a good question, I am in sort of a grey area. I work here in the library, mainly transcribing and repairing books, however, if you ever want to borrow a book, I am the one to ask. At the same time, I am a guest, Charlie is my benefactor!” Leaving out a few details I give her the run down of my position and she still seems nervous, but I don’t sense any ill-will.

“Y-you seem to be very scholarly; I don’t really read much, I’m a bit dull…” I raise my hackles at the self-deprecation.

“It is perfectly fine to not enjoy reading! How much you read does not determine your intelligence, Selena! Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and my pet peeve is people who put down other’s intelligence just because they are well read or think themselves some sort of genius. That just makes them garbage to me!” Selena seems to be surprised at my sudden rant and even Husk raises an eyebrow. “Selena, I know that it is difficult to be forced into such a new situation, but don’t hesitate to talk to me if you have any issues. You are free to visit me in my room, or the library if you feel like you need some company!” She has a bright smile cross her face, but I sense a degree of sadness underneath it. We continue to chat, until I invite her to eat breakfast with us.

She follows along close to me as I grab my soup and an extra chair for the table. Her stature seems to be perpetually hunched over and she wears an oversized jacket. I almost feel a sense of protectiveness with how nervous she seems, but I refuse to be overbearing. We enter the kitchen and find that we are the first ones there. I set up the new chair in between Cindy’s and mine, so that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable. I force down my soup, my eating habits have started to return to normal, but I still hesitate sometimes when Alastor is in the room, so I try to be finished before he arrives. Today I don’t seem to be so lucky. My ears prickle as I hear the familiar clicking and jazz, and my fingers shake slightly. Selena seems to pick up on this but before she can say anything, the dining room door swings open, revealing the red menace.

I can feel Selena tense next to me and sigh a little when I realize that I did the same. Relaxing my muscles, I force myself to not look at him as he walks around the table. He doesn’t greet me but seems to pause next to Selena and I can feel an unease fall over me.

“Why, we have yet to meet, dear!” I can see him lean over Selena in his usual looming way, and she shrinks down into herself. “My name is Alastor, what might yours be?” He grabs her hand and shakes it violently up and down, sending her in a tizzy.

“S-Selena.” He chuckles at her stuttered word and places a hand on her shoulder. I can feel my anger rise as I can see where this is going.

“What a lovely name, my dear! You seem to be quite new in hell, what brings you to this quaint little hotel?” She seems to be very nervous and keeps glancing in my direction. I offer her my hand and she take it with trembling fingers.

“I am new… I saw a poster for this place and saw that they had free rooms…” She looks down and squeezes my hand. Alastor seems to find this hilarious and plays a laugh track.

“Not interested in this redemption nonsense are you, my dear? Make sure not to tell Charlotte, she might burst into tears, when she realizes how ridiculous this whole thing is! But I must say it has made for some very interesting entertainment!” My hand squeezes Selena’s and I try to suppress my anger at his flagrant disregard for Charlie. Selena looks up into his eyes and I can see a glint of an undefinable guilt. There must be something in her past that makes her feel guilty…

“I wouldn’t dismiss it as nonsense, Mister Alastor, but I don’t think it will be possible for me after what I have done… You know, in my past…” My head tilts at the tacked-on ending. That is a weird way of phrasing it, but it doesn’t seem like she is good at socializing. It must just be a slip up. Alastor seems put off guard by the phrasing as well and he pauses, staring into her eyes. He stands at this and struts to the head of the table, taking his seat after serving himself breakfast. Others begin to trickle in and I take this chance to introduce our new guest to them all. Charlie seems ecstatic and Vaggie also seems pleased. Angel is absent for work today, so I just introduce her to Cindy.

“Selena meet Cindy, Cindy meet Selena. She is our newest guest, she is also new in hell, so she might need a bit of help here and there, I do hope that you will be patient with her.” Cindy smiles brightly and shakes her hand gently.

“Don’t you worry about that Ellie, I would love to help out a newbie, especially if you have warmed up to them! If you have any questions or concerns and Ellie can’t help you, feel free to hit me up!” I can hear a laugh track from the head of the table and Cindy glares at him. “Is there an issue, smiles?” She snaps at him, causing his smile to widen.

“Of course not, mutt, I am merely astounded at how quick you work at laying your mangy hands on everything in this hotel!” She bristles and I can feel Selena’s hand flinch. Alastor’s eyes glance over her in a unsettlingly familiar manner. “Since the rabble have offered their pitiable help, I shall also offer my services! If you feel a need for anything, my dear, don’t hesitate to ask!” Cindy and I make eye contact before we both turn to Selena.

“I would not trust him, Selena. He is a shady man and only knows how to spread misery. I should take this time to tell you of the hotel rules that he has to follow.” I can hear a bit of radio distortion as Selena co*cks her head in an interested way. Cindy pats her back and backs me up.

“It seems that they wish to poison you against me, my dear! Why I am sure the dame with the severe appearance is merely jealous! And the mongrel is her little lap dog anyway.” The silence is so tense and heavy that you could cut it with a knife, and the whole table of people seem offended.

“Excuse me-“ Cindy starts, but I hold up a hand to stop her.

“Do not worry Cindy, he is free to believe whatever he wishes. It is not our fault that he cannot differentiate jealousy from concern. His twisted little head is of no concern to us. His opinions worth no more than the ground under your feet.” I remain calm in the face of his goading and offer him a smile before turning to Selena who seems uncomfortable. “Anyway, let me go over the ground rules that he cannot break.” He seems slightly upset at my lack of reaction, but I ignore him. “Rule one, he cannot kill hotel guests. Rule two, he cannot torture hotel guests. Rule three, he cannot force feed hotel guests. Rule four, he cannot force himself onto hotel guests. These are the limitations that he is under, so if he threatens you, I would just ignore it.” She seems dumbfounded at the rules and even he seems surprised that I so freely shared them, considering my apprehension last time. “If he ever shows an ounce of interest in you that makes you uncomfortable, I suggest having a private talk with any of the other hotel staff or guests. They have some great ideas, and would be willing to help you, if it comes down to it.” Silence. The hotel residents look proud of my protective disclaimer, but Alastor just sneers.

“Come now, my dear! Are you really so upset that I have shifted my attentions! If you wanted to keep them, maybe you should have been more entertaining!” I just smile and finish off the rest of my water calmly. Selena seems to feel put-on-the-spot.

“I have already said that you are free to believe what you wish, your opinions don’t concern me.” My lack of indignance seems to throw him off, but he recovers quickly. Breakfast finishes on an awkward note, and as everyone disperses Selena clings onto me. I smile at her child-like demeanor and let her come with me to the library. She seems to have fun helping me with my work and we have a splendid evening. Alastor came in to torment Selena at one point, but I held firm in my apathy and prevented him from bothering her too much. She thanks me for my assistance in warding him off, but I just laugh.

“Let me tell you, I wish that I had all of these rules in place when I first came here… It would have saved me so much heartache…” She looks sad at my statement, but doesn’t pry, thankfully. We spend the rest of the day chatting and bonding, but after the evening comes to a close, she heads off to her room and I enter mine. Feeling worried for her, I find getting to sleep a bit difficult and I end up having a familiar nightmare.

The following weeks are tense, as Alastor seems to have fully shifted his attention to Selena, and I have taken up the role of her protector for most of the time. Honestly it feels a little strange being on this end of it, and I still feel a twinge of fear occasionally, when he is nearby. Cindy and Vaggie have helped me keep watch over Selena, and we have managed to keep him away from her most of the time. She seems to hate the constant physical touches from him, but I give her a few tips on how to hide discomfort in such situations. We also suggest that all of her food should be taste tested until further notice and she seems confused at first. However, after one particularly difficult day with the red menace, Cindy taste tests her food, and falls victim to another drug co*cktail. She was not knocked out for very long, due to a demon’s constitution, but Selena seemed to understand our worries after that point.

We eventually come clean with Selena about my whole history with Alastor, including my status as a human in hell. She expresses surprise when I remove the false horns and teeth but takes the news extremely well. Alastor makes a few more jabs about jealousy, but I dismiss them all in an apathetic fashion, until he ceases. Luckily, it seems that Selena is taking her situation much better than I did, and I feel nothing but distaste towards Alastor for being an evil prick.

Chapter 25: A Way Home

Notes:

Trigger warnings at the end.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Waking up in the morning, feeling refreshed from another full night’s sleep, I realize that today is my day off. Getting up slowly I run through my daily routine and settle down to read. My weight has stabilized, so I have resumed my fasting days. I think back at Selena’s confusion, but after I explain my lifestyle choices, she seems to understand. The book that I have today, is one that I managed to salvage from almost complete destruction, and I marvel at my own handiwork, rejoicing in how well it turned out. My body starts to enter hyperfocus mode when I turn the page and am jolted out of my calm state.

The chapter is titled: How humans end up in hell, and how to resolve such incidents. My body feels electricity running through it as I begin to flip through pages at a much faster pace. My eyes scan through the paragraphs and I find myself laughing out loud. How could I have known that the answer was lying under my nose the whole time! It says right here that we need a hellborne individual to say this chant and the human will be dismissed back to the mortal realm. Placing the book down next to me, I am overwhelmed with a co*cktail of emotions, and I can feel a few hot tears trickle down my face. I can finally go home! I will miss Cindy and the rest… but I guess that I will die someday regardless, so it wouldn’t be permanent. Can I really leave Selena alone though? My heart seems torn between my want to leave and my responsibility for Selena.

What would she say? Trying to picture that kind demon, I am immediately granted an answer. She would want me to go back. I could very well be delusional, but I don’t belong here, at least not yet. I can’t even leave the building without an escort, and I have only begun to enjoy myself recently, now that Alastor has moved on… It isn’t like he can do the same things to her that he did to me anyway, there are rules in place now. My mind resolves itself and I stand up, placing a bookmark in the pages, and I head down to find everybody.

Alastor is out for the day, and I feel a relief at not having to be on guard for his mischief against Selena, as I exit my room. Heading down the stairs I spot Charlie in the living room, and I can hardly hold back my huge smile. She looks up at me with a hint of confusion, but I just open the book up to the correct page and shove it towards her. She reads over the same passages I just read my self and I can see comprehension form on her face, as she bursts into a bright smile.

“Oh my gosh! This is amazing! You can finally go back to the mortal world!” She embraces me in a tight hug, and I almost fall backwards, she apologizes and catches me, but I just giggle.

“It’s fine Charlie! I am just as excited! I can finally go home to the mortal world!” I can feel a few tears ease out of my eyes, and I wipe them away.

“Wait here, I will gather everyone, I want you to be able to tell them!” Nodding, I take a seat on the couch and watch the minutes tick onwards in an impatient haze. My heart is thudding in my chest, elation fills my every limb, as Charlie eventually leads a crowd of confused demons into the lobby. They look at me confused and see my utter glee, tilting their heads. Standing up dramatically I clear my throat and hold the book in front of me and read word for word the paragraph that spells out my saving grace.

“To send a human back to the mortal world, one must have the cooperation of a hellborne individual,” I point at Charlie, “They must make the following spell circle,” eyes shoot open in joy and surprise, “and say this chant four times.” I show the chant off to the gathered crowd before setting the book down slowly and beaming at them. Suddenly chaos breaks loose.

“Oh my f*cking god! You can finally go back Ellie!” Cindy screams and embraces me in a tight hug, followed by Angel picking me up and swinging me around.

“Toots, ya’ f*ckin’ did it! Ya’ f*ckin’ found tha’ answer, in some dusty old f*ckin’ book, too!” Vaggie seems overjoyed and she silently hugs me as I am still reeling from the spin attack. Husk just claps me on the back and I tumble forwards slightly.

“Good job kid.” He swigs from his bottle of cheap booze, but I can see a small grin on his features. Selena is the last to react, her face seems slightly pale, but a look of extreme excitement overtakes her features. This is the most emotion that I have seen on her tiny mouse like face the whole time she has been here and I feel a bit of confusion.

“Eleanor! That is amazing! You can go back to your home!” My face shifts to a guilty look, but before I can say anything she cuts me off. “Don’t you dare feel guilty, I am overjoyed that someone as nice as you can go back to the mortal realm! You don’t even know what this means to me!” She hugs me around my waist, and I can feel tears forming in my eyes. Cindy also seems to be feeling the sadness, and I can see a few clear tears run down her cheek.

“It will be lonely without you… but you need to go back! It isn’t your time yet, Ellie… I am just glad I got to see you again, before you make your grand entrance in hell! I’m sure you will absolutely dominate when that happens!” I smile through my quiet tears and hug her again.

“This is a happy thing, no need ta’ get all mopey and sh*t! I got an idea toots!” He stands with his hands on his hips, eyes aglow. “We should have a party, a f*ckin’ dope ass goin’ away party! Then everyone can get their sappy emotions out, before ya’ head out…” I can see a look of sadness cross over his eyes, but he covers it with a mischievous look. Charlie immediately begins to excitedly throw out ideas for a party and everyone disperses in a hurry. I stand there feeling like a tornado has just passed over me and I begin to feel excited about a party.

I decide to make my rounds and help everyone individually, getting in as much personal time that I can with them. My first visit is Husk, who seems to be preparing the bar. Sidling up to the bar I take a seat at one of the stools and he raises and eyebrow.

“Do you need any help, Husk?” I ask in a sweet voice and he scoffs.

“Nah, I don’t need any help, kid. What are you getting at?” His tone gruff, but I can tell that he isn’t upset in any way.

“I am just making my rounds, seeing if anyone needs help. I haven’t had a lot of time to talk to you while I was here, so I decided to ask you first.” He huffs and I can sense that he is blushing slightly.

“You’re a good kid, but you don’t need to bother yourself with me. I am connected to Al, and I know how everyone feels about him… I f*cking hate the guy too, so I understand.” He looks away to polish a few glasses and whispers the next part, “Especially after what he has done to you…I still don’t trust the guy, he says he lost interest in you, or some bullsh*t like that, but I have never seen him outright ignore someone… It’s like he is trying too f*cking hard.” My mouth twitches into a frown as I think back. He’s right, Alastor does seem like he has been ignoring me as much a physically possible… The only time he speaks to me is when I defend Selena against him. I am glad that I am going back to the mortal realm, it’s not like he can do anything between now and then.

“Thank you for telling me, I will keep an eye out, but I doubt he can do anything between now and my departure…” My voice trails off sounding slightly unsure. He knits his brow together and huffs.

“Yeah, I don’t think he can do anything without breaking his f*cking deal with Vaggie, so I think you are in the clear, kid. But be careful around him anyway…” I thank him and he waves me off to find the next resident. I head over to Selena next, who seems to be helping clean the ballroom to prepare for decorations. As I arrive next to her she seems surprised to see me.

“Do you need any help, Selena? I am trying to see if anyone needs any help, so I can get some one-on-one time with them!” She blushes and stutters out that she needs some help with the dusting. Nodding, I grab the duster and get to work.

“So… are you excited to get back to the mortal realm Eleanor? You should go as soon as possible; it isn’t good for you to be stuck down here…” I chuckle at her concern.

“Yes, I am excited to get back, it will be nice to be able to move around freely! I must say I have gotten a bit tired of having my movements controlled…” My eyes stare off a bit. “Charlie is planning to send me off first thing in the morning, so this is my last chance to talk to everybody…” I can feel my eyes water slightly and she hurries over, trapping me in a hug. Surprised I return the hug and I can feel my tears subside.

“Thank you, Eleanor, you have been so nice to me. I have always felt bad that such a nice person is in a such a bad situation…” She seems to have a look of extreme guilt, but I dismiss her concerns.

“Such is life Selena! I have always found a way to adapt to what life brings me, but what I am worried about is you.” She tilts her head. “If he keeps bothering you, you need to keep asking the others for help. Especially Cindy, I can vouch for her.” Looking down at her feet she starts to speak.

"Yeah, I will do that, but you should avoid-“ but her voice cuts off in a weird way and her eyes go wide. Tilting my head in confusion, she seems to regain her thought process.

“You should avoid… doing anything bad in the mortal world…I don’t want you to end up down here.” She sounds unsure but I just chuckle at her sentiment.

“I won’t do anything bad, but I think that goose is already cooked! I haven’t exactly been a goody two shoes my whole life, so I will definitely be back down here after I keel over!” She seems to pale a bit, but I comfort her. “Don’t worry, at least I will be prepared for what hell is like already! And then I won’t have to hole up in this hotel, because I will be a demon myself!” This seems to ease her mind a bit, but she still seems concerned. We chat a bit more before I finish the dusting and head off to the next person, Selena sees me off with a concerned face, but I just smile to try to ease her concerns. The next person that I visit is Vaggie, she is helping cart decorations in from the storage room.

“Do you need any help Vaggie, I am trying to help everyone a little bit today!” She puts her hand on her hip and gives me an exasperated look.

“Really? You should be relaxing today, we are putting this on for you, it just makes me feel bad if you have to help for your own party…” Waving away her concerns I share my ulterior motives.

“Don’t worry about it, I do want to help, but I am just trying to get some quality time with everyone before having to leave…” I rub my arm in a bashful way, and her expression softens.

“I see… You can help me bring some of the lighter decorations in.” She leads me to the storage room and we each grab a box.

“Thank you so much for all of your help Vaggie… I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t there every step of the way to support me…” She shifts the box to one arm and pats me on the back with her free hand.

“I’m sure you would have come up with something! You are one stubborn girl, Ellie! But you’re welcome… I am glad that I could help you in some way against that creeper.” She looks down at her feet and re grips the box fully. I chuckle to myself.

“I mean remember the look on his face when you prevented him from locking down a deal! It was priceless wasn’t it!” She cracks up, remembering his face. I start to laugh as well.

“Yeah, he looked so f*cking pissed!” We continue to trash talk Alastor, until I have brought in all the light decorations, Vaggie then shoos me away to the next person. As I make my way over to Charlie, I can hear the lobby doors open and a clicking noise, accompanied by jazz. Deciding to ignore him today I keep on towards Charlie who is making herself busy decorating in the ballroom. Unfortunately, it seems that he had the same person in mind, and he ends up following behind me, no words exchanged. I get to Charlie, and she seems confused to see both me and Alastor. I allow him to speak to her first, a little curious about what he wants.

“Hello, my dear Charlotte! Whatever could have happened in my absence it is as if everyone is in a tizzy!” He gestures to everyone preparing for the party. Charlie looks conflicted but decides that it is fine to share with him, since he has lost interest.

“Oh, we found a way back to the human world for Ellie!” He freezes, but quickly regains his composure as if nothing happened. “We are putting together a going away party for her! We are going to send her away bright and early tomorrow!” She seems happy to have finally found a way to help me back to my world after she felt like it was her fault I am here to begin with. Alster scoffs and looks me up and down with cold eyes, they feel much better than when he is predatory.

“I see! This little ragamuffin is finally headed back! I’ m sure you are quite pleased about that, dear.” He stares through me, and I put on a bright smile.

“Of course, I am! It means I don’t have to see your ugly face anymore!” He scoffs again and his eye twitches as he folds his arms behind his back and strides away. I look at Charlie and she can’t help but giggle.

“Do you need any help, Charlie? I am trying to help everyone a little bit today!” She smiles warmly at me and hands over a couple decorations.

“You can help me put up a few of these bows, Cindy suggested the same colors as last time, at your birthday party!” The bows in my hands are blue, white, and gold again, and a small smile rises to my lips.

“I will get right to it!” I salute her, causing us to both giggle We end up chatting about the mortal world, because she is very interested in it. She seemed to be the most interested in my description of high school. My high school experience was a bit abnormal, but I make sure to share a bit of Cindy’s to balance out her worldview on it. Eventually, I run out of bows and wave goodbye to Charlie, heading off to find Angel. I manage to find him in the kitchen, it seems that he has taken charge of the food, and a wave of relief washes over me.

“Hey Angel! Do you need any help?” He scoffs at me.

“Nuh-uh ya’ aint gonna help with this. Don’t think I forgot how bad Cindy says ya’ are at cookin’. Ya’ better just take a seat over there.” Pretending to pout I take a seat in the kitchen and watch him whip up dessert after dessert. The scent of sugar is strong in here, but I persevere to talk to him. “Ya’ excited ta’ finally get away from smiles?” He hazards, glancing at me through the side of his eyes.

“Yeah, I am also excited to be able to do as I please again, without being worried about going outside without a guardian, like a child!” He chuckles at this and turns to face me.

"Ya’ honestly handled all of this sh*t betta’ than anyone I know. I woulda’ caved pretty early into smiles’ f*ckin’ routine.” A small smile crosses my lips, and he scoffs. “No need ta’ be bashful toots. Ya’ have a strong as f*ck willpower. There is no way that even I could think of ta’ get ya’ ta’ give up ya’ freedom willingly!” That makes me giggle, but he puts on a serious face. “Ya’ need ta’ be careful when ya’ actually die, toots. There won’t be a get outa jail free card then…” I wave a hand to dismiss his concerns.

“Trust me Angel, I’m aware. I plan to prepare extensively, now that I know what hell is like. Knowledge is power after all!” Angel’s serious face breaks into an exasperated one.

“I swear, ya’ the only chick I know who would ‘prepare’ for comin’ ta’ hell…” We continue to chat with small jabs at each other the whole time, before Cindy comes into the room and clocks me.

“Hey Ellie!” I look up from my embroidery that I started to keep my hands busy. “I want you to come with me!” Nodding, I put the hoop away and wave goodbye to Angel. He waves back with one of his non-busy hands. I follow behind her and she leads me up to her room. We enter and I see, lain out on her bed, the same outfit that I wore to Mimzy’s.

“I think you should dress up a little tonight, Ellie! You seemed to really like this outfit, so I am giving it to you as a going away present!” My eyes widen in shock as I trace my eyes along the beautiful fabric.

“Are you sure, Cindy? This is obviously expensive! I was worried I would damage it last time, but you want to give it to me?” She giggles and pushes me forward.

“Of f*cking course, Ellie, you looked drop dead gorgeous in it! It also fits your full coverage restrictions; wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a nice dress for fancy occasions?” My face looks torn, but I decide to just accept the gift.

“Ok… I will take it then! Can you help me get changed into it? I will need some help with my makeup as well…” She beams brightly and we start getting me ready for the party. We chat about old times as I get ready, but she puts a stop too it when I start to tear up.

“We can’t have that! You will ruin your makeup, Ellie!” That makes me giggle, and I pat away the tears.

“I am going to miss you Cindy…” She crosses her arms and looks away; I can see the tell-tale glistening in her eyes.

“I’ll miss you too Ellie, but we both know that you will probably end up down here anyway! So just think of this as a temporary goodbye!” She hugs me tightly, and I return the gesture. We sit there embracing for what felt like an eternity, before she pulls away. “We need to finish your makeup! It is almost time to head down!” She puts the finishing touches on my makeup, before carting me in front of a mirror. I am met with the same appearance that I had when I went to Mimzy’s, the only skin showing is my face and part of my neck. However, the dress emphasizes my figure, and is so beautiful that I am afraid of ruining it. My hair is styled in a similar manner, but we were able to leave off the horns since, everyone knows I am human. We decided to leave off the shawl tonight, because we felt it would be too much, and we start heading down to the ballroom. Cindy decided to wear a lovely pink dress, with plenty of rhinestones decorating the edges of the skirt. She told me that everyone was going to be dressed to the nines, so I shouldn’t worry.

We reach the ballroom, and she swings open the doors, revealing a sea of blue, white, and gold decorating every surface. All the residents are already present, and they stand when the doors open. I can see that they are all, indeed, dressed up quite nicely. Vaggie and Charlie gasp when they see my dress for the first time, but Angel just smirks, having predicted what I would wear.

“You look amazing Ellie!” Charlie shouts and Vaggie just stands their gaping.

“Holy sh*t, girl. I had no f*cking clue you cleaned up so well!” She finally says, clapping me on the back. They lead me into the room, and I am glad to see that the red menace is absent. I can see that there is a large table with food, a vast quantity of alcohol, and a table with a game set up. My eyes brighten when I see the game: Risk. Cindy chuckles at me reaction and they all lead me to where it is set up. Everyone takes their places at the table, filling up all six available positions. Cindy smirks and Selena decides to just watch, as we don’t have enough spaces in the game.

“Alright Ellie! It’s time to f*cking decimate some people at Risk!” I can see a few wide eyes as my face morphs into one of hyper concentration, with a wild grin plastered across it. What happens next can only be considered a one-sided slaughter, as I execute my perfect strategy against my unwitting enemies.

“Holy sh*t…” Angel whispers, “I can see why ya’ wanted ta’ play this game toots, ya’ f*ckin’ decimated…” Husk grunts and swigs his alcoholic drink, I can’t tell exactly what it is. The party progresses smoothly, with a few more games of risk, which got easier to win as people started to become intoxicated. I remained stone cold sober, Charlie and Vaggie only seem a little tipsy. Selena didn’t drink either, but she seems nervous as ever. Eventually, we shift over to another table and begin to chat about all of the good times that we have had while I have been here. Wisely, everyone skips over the elephant in the room, of Alastor’s torment, but I am glad to not have to relive it. Shock fills my face as they all start to give me some gifts.

“Whoa what is all of this!” I can’t help but exclaim. Husk scoffs as he forces a crudely wrapped present in my hands.

“They’re going away gifts, kid. Everyone is gonna miss you.” He turns away hiding a blush, as I accept the onslaught of packages. I begin to open them up and am blown away by how thoughtful they all are. Husk gave me a beautiful notebook, with an engraved leather cover depicting a lovely forest scene. I thank him and he grunts his acknowledgment. Cindy gave me a unique book on the ecology of hell. My eyes brighten and I give her a big hug. She smirks and sticks her tongue out at Husk, who just scoffs. Selena gives me a small music book, and I thank her for the gift. The next gift is from Angel, and as I open it I see an extremely nice pen made of what looks like teak wood. It has my name engraved in the side and I am thrilled by how smooth it writes. He looks a bit bashful as I offer him a bright smile, and I open Vaggie’s present next. She gave me a large book of embroidery patterns that I can tell are unique to hell. My excitement starts to skyrocket as I open Charlie’s to find all the supplies for every single pattern in the book.

“Thank you all! These gifts are all wonderful!” My face is bright, and I give everyone an individual hug. “I am so happy that I got to know all of you! I am going to miss you guys… but in the words of Cindy, its only a temporary goodbye!” They all laugh at my sly joke. The party begins to wind down and I notice that it is getting late.

“You should head up to your room Ellie, we can handle the cleanup, you probably need to pack up your stuff for tomorrow… We will probably all gather in the lobby after we are done cleaning, if you can’t sleep, feel free to join us.” She seems a little sad, but insists that I go to bed, nonetheless. I make my rounds and give everyone one last hug, before heading up to my room. As I close the doors of the ballroom I am overcome with the silence of the rest of the hotel. Making my way over to the lobby, a gloom seems to envelop everything as my quiet footsteps ring through the empty room. Glancing around, but seeing nothing out of place, I climb the stairs to the first floor, where my room is. Taking the key out I slip it into the lock and open the door. As I enter, I am met with a familiar scene and my heart skips a beat. In my armchair, sits Alastor, hands steepled and eyes narrowed. Freezing in the doorway, a few seconds pass in silence. Working up my courage I enter the room regardless, but I leave the door wide open. The sound of radio frequencies are noticeably absent.

“I guess you really were faking, but it’s a little late for this now.” I begin to busy myself with packing, while keeping an eye out on the red-clad demon. He doesn’t respond, just places one hand on the arm of the chair and the other on his chin. I notice that on the side table, two small vials are placed out, and a chill runs through me. Powering through my discomfort I keep packing, when his transatlantic voice rings out, completely free of distortion, causing me to flinch.

“This is your final chance, darling, will you make a deal with me?” My spine breaks out in a cold sweat, but I can feel my anger rising. Standing up and facing him, I finally have the height advantage with his seated form.

“How many times do I need to tell you! I will never make a deal with you. I would rather die and then throw myself to the exterminators and be erased, than make a deal with you.” The atmosphere of the room shifts and chills run through me at the sudden drop in temperature. This isn’t safe, I need to get the others… Beginning to back away from him, I can see him start to stand up. His eyes are full of a strange determination, and his smile is almost nonexistent. Feeling panic setting in I turn and try to run out of the still open door.

A sudden violent force pulls me back by my arm and slams me on the floor. My head collides with the hard wooden planks, sending my head spinning, while my arm aches from the force of the pull. Trying to rise to my feet I see the blurry red form of Alastor looming above me. My head is fuzzy, and I am struggling to rise, when he forcefully grabs me by my arm, and I can feel flesh tearing as a white-hot rush of pain emanates through me. Black spots fill my vision, as I can feel him pin me to the floor, my head slamming down again, sending another whirl of pain through me.

Trying to scream, my voice is cut off when he forces one of the vials into my mouth. A bitter tasting liquid is forced down my throat and I can feel my stomach churning, I try not swallowing it, but he increases the pressure on my arm. My throat instinctually swallows whatever the vial contained, and I can see his smeared form drink the other vial. Trying to struggle away from him, my blood turns cold as he reaches a hand up to my neck. I prepare myself for him to choke me, but my eyes widen as he grabs the neck of my dress. He rips the expensive fabric away from my shoulder and I try to push him off of me, but he is too strong. My eyes fill with fear as I begin to scream wordlessly, but it echoes into the empty hallway, alerting no one. His other hand forces my head to the side forcibly, baring my neck and shoulder. Trying to push against his hand I balk when I see his jaw almost completely unhinge, and he approaches my shoulder with intense speed.

My nerves are assaulted with pain as I can feel his sharp teeth pierce the flesh of my shoulder, warm blood spilling freely, pooling on the wooden floor. The pool soaks into my hair and the fabric of my ripped dress and I realize just how strong his jaws are as I can feel my collarbone start to creak. He keeps applying more pressure and I can feel his tongue lapping up the blood as a violent pain shoot through me, a sharp cracking sound is heard. Suddenly what feels like a searing hot flame runs through my veins as my limbs start to feel cold. As I begin to shiver violently, my vision is engulfed in black spots, and I can feel my consciousness slip away as he finally pulls away from my mangled shoulder.

………….

As Cindy throws out one last trash bag, the residents are finished cleaning up the ballroom, and all gather in the lobby. Angel and Cindy sit next to each other, sprawled out on one of the couches, while Charlie and Vaggie each take an armchair. Selena sits on the floor, face pale and she looks racked with worry. Husk just pulls up a stool from the bar and uncorks a fresh bottle of booze.

“You’re seriously drinking more!” Vaggie shouts at him, he only shrugs in response to her admonishments. A gloom settles over the gathered demons, as they sulk. Charlie tries to cheer them up with a smile.

“I know that it is sad to see her leave, but it is better for her this way. She obviously wants to go back home, and it will be good to have her separated from Alastor…” As she says his name Cindy and Angel both sit up straighter, and Husk places his bottle down.

“Have any of ya’ seen him today?” Angel asks nervously, and Charlie knits her brows together.

“Yeah, he cam by when we were setting up the party, and asked what was going on. I told him, and he seemed to be pretty calm about it.” Cindy seems upset about this news and shoots up from the couch.

“You f*cking told him!” Charlie reels back at the sudden fury, but Angel backs up Cindy.

“Why tha’ hell would ya’ tell him that she’s leavin’! what if he tries somethin’ in last minute desperation!” Angel shouts, but Charlie seems confused.

“I thought he lost interest in her…” Vaggie pats her back but seems concerned.

“Yeah, but he could have easily been faking that… We need to find Eleanor; I don’t think it is safe for her to be alone tonight.” Selena flinches as the others agree with her, they start to get up, only to be disturbed by loud jazz emanating from the top of the stairs. A look of horror overtakes their faces as the familiar clicking of hooves makes their way down the hallway. Cindy’s face turns pale and Angel scowls, facing the stairs. Charlie and Vaggie both seem tense and even Husk has stood up, on high alert.

Suddenly, the sound grows closer, and Alastor appears at the head of the stairs. Screams and gasps rip through the gathered demons as they see in his arms, he is holding an unconscious Eleanor. Her dress is ripped, revealing a heavily injured shoulder gushing blood on the wooden floor, and his mouth is ominously stained with red. Her skin is pale from blood loss, and her arm seems similarly injured as it hangs down limply, rivulets of blood dripping from her fingertips.

“What the f*ck did you do!” Cindy’s horrified voice rings out as she grows pale, as he mounts the staircase, beginning his descent.

“Holy f*ckin’ sh*t, is she dead!” Angel moves to draw his weapons, face twisted in rage, Vaggie moves to summon her spear and Charlie shifts into her demon form, her face shockingly enraged.

“Calm down, my friends! She is not dead, merely unconscious! I haven’t broken a single one of your little rules, so I would suggest not breaking your end either, my dear Vagatha!” His voice is heavy with smugness, and his grin is positively brimming with joy. This only enrages the gathered crowd, but Selena’s eyes just shoot open, and she falls to her knees weakly.

“What are you f*cking talking about!” Cindy shrieks, sending pain through the demons’ sensitive eardrums. Charlie stomps over to him, and he moves his gaze over to her.

“Put her down Alastor. This is unacceptable!” She bristles as he chuckles at her rage.

“Oh? And why would I put down my darling little human? I believe that you are all aware of the terms of my deal with, dear Vagatha? I will not be prevented from taking my little wife away from the hotel if she becomes bound to me in any way.” Vaggie pales at this implication but shakes off the sensation.

“There is no f*cking way she agreed to anything! She isn’t f*cking bound to you or whatever you are going on about!” Selena is now openly sobbing on the floor, but only Husk takes notice of her, and his eyebrows knit together in suspicion. Alastor plays a laugh track, and it rings out through the lobby at a loud volume.

“She isn’t bound to me? That is quite the little joke, my dear! If she isn’t bound to me than what is this here?” He wipes blood off of her shoulder, revealing a black set of antlers, seemingly tattooed on her pale blood-streaked skin. As Charlie stares in shock, he raises a few fingers to his mouth and licks the blood off, causing Cindy to shriek wordlessly. She moves to attack him, but Charlie stops her. Shock rolls through everyone as they turn the Charlie who is shaking with rage.

“Get the f*ck out of here. You had better not hurt her more than you already have, you monster.” Alastor grins and starts to saunter to the lobby doors; however, the others begin to fall into a panic.

“What the f*ck are ya’ talkin’ about Charlie! Ya’ aint just gonna let him leave with her!” Angel shouts, glaring daggers at her, and still aiming his guns at Alastor, who has paused tapping his foot impatiently with a raised brow. Charlie just sighs and falls to the floor.

“We can’t interfere… he forcibly soul-bound her…” She mutters, but the others don’t seem to understand completely. Vaggie’s fists are closed so tightly that the knuckles turn white.

“I don’t know what that f*cking means, but it means that she is bound to him right?” Charlie nods weakly and Vaggie crumples to the floor, face vacant. Cindy is shaking with rage, but Angel realizes that they can’t do anything and tries to hold her back, his face twisted with grief. Husk walks over to Selena and roughly grabs her by the shoulder.

“You f*cking knew didn’t you.” He growls at her through gritted teeth, her shaking and sobbing continues as he confronts her. Alastor chuckles at this display.

“I forget how clever you are sometimes Husker, my good man! That little dame is indeed under my employ! She did quite splendidly if I do say so myself, my darling little human was none the wiser! All I had to do was threaten that little ragamuffin with erasure and she happily signed away her soul!” Husk grunts and drops the shaking mouse demon who curls up on the floor. The other demons all turn their eyes on her, with a mixture of rage and disgust.

“Ya’ shoulda’ been a f*ckin’ rat instead of a mouse, bitch!” Angel can’t hold back his biting remark and Cindy seems to have looped into despair, collapsing on the couch.

“Well then, I do believe that the hour has gotten quite late, so I will be heading off! I still need to settle my little wife into her quarters! I do trust that you will sign my darling out of this hotel, without my interference.” Charlie nods weakly making his grin widen. “Selena, come here, my dear.” She picks herself up off the floor and haltingly stumbles towards him, still shaking.

“There we go!” She joins up at his side and keeps her eyes on the floor, the others all just stare despondently as Alastor snaps and the trio departs through a shadow to his estate.
Silence overtakes the bloodstained lobby. Vaggie begins to sob, as Charlie just sits in a daze. Cindy is staring at the puddle of blood where Alastor was standing, while Husk is chugging from his bottle, leaning against the wall. Angel is the only one who retains his senses.

“What the f*ck are ya’ all doin’! Ya’ let his dandy ass leave with Ellie and then all wallow in self-f*ckin’-pity! What the f*ck is going on Charlie! Why did you let smiles leave!” He stomps over to her and looms over her small form. She sighs and runs her fingers across the floorboards.

“He forced her into a soul-binding contract…” Angel scoffs.

“Ya’ f*ckin’ said that before, mind f*ckin’ enlightenin’ us what the f*ck that is!” She clenches her fists and hesitantly begins to explain.

“Soul-binding hasn’t been done in centuries… The last time the ritual was performed was before I was born… It creates a bond between two souls, so strong that not even my dad can break it. It was seen as some sort of stronger marriage bond, but it fell out of favor due to the strong binding effects, which are varied. Neither of them can be killed unless they are killed at the same time, I guess that means that she can’t ever become a demon…” Angel’s eyes widen. “It has never been performed on a human before, but I think it might prevent her from aging, and if her body dies, it will regenerate next to the other soul… Alastor. I even think that if they were both erased, then their souls would go to the void together…”

“Are you f*ckin’ serious! How the hell did he do this without her consent!”

“Well… it was almost always done willingly, but a few demons came up with a way to forcibly carry out the ritual, but it required so many expensive and rare ingredients, and such brutal methods that the recipe was lost to time. I think it was only ever performed a couple of times when they were testing their theories…I honestly don’t know how he managed to find out how to do it…” The rest of the demons in the lobby have gathered around Charlie as she explains.

“Um…there is one more thing…” Angel rolls his eyes and scoffs.

“Great! There’s f*ckin’ more!” Charlie just nods despondently.

“I have heard that the forced binding causes side effects… If the bound souls are separated for more than a week than the soul that created the contract begins to slip into an obsessive state until it is reunited with the other soul. The soul that was forced into the contract, grows weak, eventually slipping into a comatose state, until reunited with the other soul.” Silence fills the room as everyone processes this information. Despair fills their eyes and even Angel takes a seat on the ground.

“Is there anythin’ we can do, at all?” He asks weakly. Charlie just sighs and shakes her head.

“Not that I know of… I can ask my dad though… He might be able to think of something, but I don’t even know if he can do anything about this…”

“It’s worth a shot…” Cindy mutters as the lobby devolves into a heavy silence.

Notes:

Trigger warning, graphic depictions of violence.

Chapter 26: New Environment

Chapter Text

My eyelids feel like they are made of lead as I stir awake. As I try to shift, a shooting pain runs through my shoulder and arm, as I remember what happened before I passed out. Forcing my eyelids open, my eyes dart around in a panic, taking in where I am. I don’t recognize a single thing in this room, and as I try to shift upwards, I notice that my wounds have been dressed. What’s going on… This doesn’t look like the hotel…

Gritting my teeth from the pain, I manage to get up without further injuring my arm. As I slip out of the covers, I realize that I am not in my original clothes, but a red nightgown, and a sense of déjà vu crosses over my mind. f*ck… It only falls to my knees, and my heart begins to speed up in fear. Striding over to the door, I try the knob, only to find it stuck fast. f*cking locked… Scanning the rest of the room, I begin to recognize aspects of it, there is a vanity on one wall, absolutely decked out with accessories and beauty products, most of which I have never seen in my life. I open a large ornate box sat in the center of the vanity and am shocked when I see the vast array of jewelry. There are necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, of every color stone and style that I can think of. I can also see brooches and a few anklets as well as a few rings.

Shutting the box, I turn to see the bed that I woke up in is a queen-sized four-poster, with a heavy-duty red canopy. Curtains are hung around it but are drawn open and tied currently. The white bed linens appear to be made of a high-quality fabric and are extremely soft as I run my fingers over them. The frame of the bed appears to be cherry wood, and is carved with forest scenes, all containing a small doe. A doe? The carvings are very nice, but why a doe? Taking a deep breath I decide to check out the closet.

As I walk over, I notice that the floor is carpeted with a high pile red carpet, that feels soft on my bare feet. As I reach the closet, I tug open the door, only for it to open smoothly with no noise, revealing a massive quantity of clothing. My eyes widen as I think back to the hallucination, and I run my hand through the array of dresses. They range in color, fabric type and color, but all have a tag that indicates they are from Rosie’s emporium. How many dresses are in here? This must have cost a fortune… There seem to be a large array of nightgowns as well, and I spot one empty hanger among them. I feel a chill run through my spine. How did I get changed… I was unconscious… Pushing that though out of my head, my eyes shift down to the floor of the walk-in closet. There is a shelving unit that runs the entirety of the wall near the floor, and it is filled to the brim with varying kinds of shoes. I pick up a pair to find that they are, indeed, my size. Putting them back on the shelf I close the closet doors and hold my injured arm with the other. Damn, this hurts like a bitch…

After shutting the doors, I set my sights on the other side of the room, where there is a cherry wood set of drawers, a matching armchair, and a small carved side table. I also see a large bookshelf in the corner, but I save that for last as I decide to investigate the drawers. Opening the top drawer, I peek in, only to reel backwards, shutting it a bit violently. I guess that is where the underclothes are… My blood runs cold as I try to forget what I just saw, neatly organized sets of undergarments as well as socks. Feeling my stomach churning I open the next drawer, and I am met with a large quantity of gauze and bandages, as well as medications for every illness I can think of. That is a whole lot of medical supplies… Why is there so much? I try to open the next drawer, but there is a lock on it, and I can’t seem to force it open. Damn it, what is with all the f*cking locks! What the hell could be in here!” Frustrated I fling open the next drawer, revealing a vast array of embroidery materials. My heart stops as I look at it with greedy eyes, but I shake myself out of it and force myself to close the drawer.

Finally, I decide to check out the bookshelf, as I head over there, I accidently shift my arm in a way that sends pain shooting through my shoulder, causing my face to go white and my knees to weaken. I stand still for a moment, before re-collecting myself and reaching the shelf. My eyes scan the titles, and I can see that the top shelves are filled with classics. Ah, I see… I haven’t read many of these, I only really read non-fiction… The middlemost shelves seem to have sheet music arranged for violin and piano, as well as lyric books. I can tell that most of these range from 1900-1940… f*ck… Moving my eyes to the lowest shelves I can see a vast array of embroidery pattern books. My heart can’t help but skip a beat at the beautiful collection, but I snap my attention away.

As I stand next to the armchair my eyes spot a vile item sitting on the side table. I find myself just staring at the personal sized radio, set in a cherry wood case. My stomach sinks and I can no longer deny where I am. This must be his estate that he keeps talking about… But why am I here! I didn’t sign a deal with him so how could they let him take me! No, its not their fault, they might not even know that he took me at all… I don’t know what happened after he attacked me… I force myself to sit down in the armchair and find it to be extremely comfortable. My eyes gaze over the wall that the vanity is sitting against, and I realize that I missed a door. Another door? Struggling to my feet again, my arm screeches at me, but I ignore it and grit my teeth.

Arriving in front of the door, I open it slowly, revealing a restroom, decorated in a similar style to the other room. It is replete with a sink with a mirror, I can see a toothbrush and toothpaste set up exactly the same as I had mine set up. There seems to be no toilet, but that doesn’t concern me. I haven’t needed to use the restroom in that way since coming to hell… I guess it is something to do with magic, that’s what Charlie said when I was worried… I can see in the opposite corner a large freestanding bathtub, and there does not appear to be any sort of shower head, only a faucet. Hanging from the ceiling encircling the tub, is a thin red shower curtain, and I can see that silhouettes would still shine through it. So much for a privacy curtain, there is no way I would trust that… I can see a shelf replete with a large array of bathing items. I can see shampoo and conditioner as well as a large quantity of different soaps. I also see a basket with candles and other accoutrements that some people use when taking baths, such as bath salts and oils. I don’t understand people who take baths with such frivolous things, I mean who the hell would want to bathe with bits of flowers and junk like that. Set up next to the tub is what appears to be a seating area, replete with a chair and a small table. Why is that there? I guess I have seen seating areas in some restrooms in the mortal realm, but those were communal places. This makes no sense.

I exit the restroom, careful to close the door without a noise. Standing in the middle of the room I debate what to do next. I have looked over everything, so what do I do now? I could try to find a way out, but I don’t know where he could be at the moment, I should wait until he f*cking explains himself. There is no way I am going to make a deal with him, so I can probably have him take me back to the hotel, I am still a guest there, so he is restricted. Sighing I decide to find something to pass the time. I could try to embroider… A twinge in my arm as I shift it, immediately changes my mind. No, my arm is too injured… I guess I can read? Making my way back over to the bookshelf, I realize that the novels are all place on the top shelves. Conveniently out of my reach. Are you f*cking serious? I guess I will just browse through the embroidery books. I take a few off of the shelf and settle myself in the armchair. There are a ton of beautiful patterns in these books, and I feel frustrated that I can’t try any of them with my stupid arm. Why did he have to f*ck up my arm! I would rather him not injure me at all but come on!

As time ticks onward, I realize that there are a few things missing in this room. There are no windows, nothing to tell the time, and no way to adjust the lights from inside the room. Seriously? Where the hell is the light switch! There is an overhead light that is shaped like a chandelier, but it doesn’t seem to have any wires, and no damn switch. Why is there no windows and no clock? Does he want me to not know the damn time that bad! I feel like it has been hours, just waiting! I clench my fists, feeling frustrated with the situation. I would change out of this ridiculous nightgown, but I don’t know when he will walk in. With my luck I will be buck-naked, I would just die if that happened… I try to pull the hem of my dress down to cover my knees while I am seated, but it just rides back up when I let go. Looking over at the bed, I realize that I could probably pull the flat sheet off of the bed with one hand, but it will take me a little while. Might as well try. It’s a better idea than changing or just sitting around.

I stand up with purpose and stride toward the bed. Starting from the corner I start to push off the plush comforter and blankets, separating them from the flat sheet. The neatly made bed is now a mess of blankets and displaced pillows, but I successfully free the flat sheet and wrap it around my shoulders in victory. My body now fully covered from the neck down, I sit back down in the armchair and sulk. Now what do I do… My thought is cut short as I hear the jingle of keys and the lock in the door turn. I force the flat sheet around myself tighter, my arm protesting, as the door handle turns and opens. My muscles all tense up, my face whitening with the fresh wave of pain, but I maintain focus on the door. Alastor walks in, looking as smug as ever, grin absolutely beaming.

“Why, good morning, darling! I did not expect you up already!” He looks over my huddled form, the stack of embroidery books, and at the messy bed. “It seems you have been up for longer than I thought…” He closes the door behind himself and strides in. I force myself to my feet and back away like a cornered animal.

“What the hell is going on. Why am I here!” My voice comes out hoarse, and chuckles, grin wide.

“I guess an explanation is in order, but first let’s clean up the little mess you made.” He snaps his fingers, the books fly back onto the shelf and the bed remakes itself, the flat sheet tearing itself out of my tight grip. I glare at him and try to hold the skirt of the nightgown down. He chuckles at my response but doesn’t say anything about it.

“Now, my dear, I believe that you are still in need of more rest! Come now, back to bed, and I will explain your change in environment!” He stands beside the bed and pulls back the covers, before facing me with a hand on his hip. I just stand there staring at him in awe of his gall.

“No. I don’t trust you, just explain your f*cking garbage from over there.” I stand defensively, but my arm is racked with pain. He raises an eyebrow and chuckles.

“This just won’t do. It will be much better for you to do as I say, dear!” He takes a step towards me, and I take a step backwards. We repeat this process until I hit the wall. “See, darling, there is not exactly infinite space in your quarters! It would be much easier for you to just obey, then I won’t have to tuck you in myself!” A chill runs through my spine, but I can hear the threat laced into his voice. Keeping a wide berth between him and myself and never taking my eyes off him, I circle around to the bed. His grin grows as I try to climb up, but my arm makes it difficult. Looking away for a second to try to figure out how to go about this I am caught off guard as I am picked up from behind, with one arm.

“What the f*ck! Put me down!” How is he so damn strong! He can lift me with one arm!? He pulls back the covers further with one hand, and places me on the bed. I scramble to an upright position, ignoring the throbbing of my arm and shoulder. He pulls the covers up to my waist and surveys his work. My glare doesn’t seem to even register as his grin reveals black gums.
“There we go, darling! I had not anticipated that you would have difficulty, I guess I got a little carried away during the ritual…” He holds a claw to his chin in thought. Ritual? What the hell is he talking about. “Hmmm, I will need to heal that up, but first let me explain the situation that you are in, my dear!” He snaps out of his thoughts and launches into an explanation.

“You see, darling, you are now officially bound to me!” My eyes shoot open, but they narrow in suspicion.

“You are lying. I did not agree to any deals, and I certainly did not accept your advances. I am not bound to you in any way!” My fingers clasp the blankets in a white knuckled grip. He seems to find this hilarious and plays a laugh track, my rage builds.

“I am not lying, my dear! You are correct in saying that you did not willingly sign yourself away to me, but that only made me use a more forceful tactic!” I shift uncomfortably under his intense gaze. He turns on his heel and begins to pace alongside the bed, gesturing. “You see I discovered a little technique called soul-binding!” My eyes shoot open at the ominous sounding name. At first, I thought that it was a dead-end, and I got quite frustrated, you almost had me beat sweetheart! But I managed to get my hands on a lovely old book,” He snaps his fingers producing a small, battered book, that is falling apart at the seams, “detailing a method to perform the soul-binding ritual, forcibly!” He opens the book to a dog-eared page and places it in my lap. My blood freezes as I read over the passage.

“To force a soul-binding contract on an individual, one must first craft the pair of potions out of the ingredients listed on the following page. After the potions are brewed, the dominating soul, must force the enslaved soul to consume the first potion. They must then consume the second potion themselves. After this is accomplished, they will then need to consume the blood of the enslaved soul. After this is complete, both souls will feel a burning sensation within their veins, while this is occurring the dominating soul must recite the following chant…”
My fingers drop the book on my lap, and I numbly look up at the smiling demon in front of me. His grin grows and his clawed fingers pick the small book back up, flipping to a different page. He then clears his throat and reads another passage verbatim, as I can feel hat tear welling up in my eyes.

“A soul-binding contract creates a bond between two souls, so string that none can sever it. Even Lucifer himself has been reported to be unable to sever such a binding. The purpose of this contract was originally created as a form of marriage ritual but can be used for other purposes. The main effect of the soul-binding contract is to render the two souls effectively immortal, even against angel weapons, unless they are slain at the same time. This has been proven after much research into the topic. If only one soul is slain, their body will reform next to the other. If both souls are slain together, it is theorized that they even enter the void together.” Tears begin to fall silently as he flips the page, continuing to read.

“However, if the soul-binding contract is performed under duress, following the instructions for a forceful binding, there are other side effects.” He doesn’t even glance over at me as my hands begin to shake. “Forcibly bound souls are unable to be apart for more that approximately seven full days, before these side effects set in. The dominating soul will gradually enter an obsessive state, in which their thoughts will be consumed with the enslaved soul. This can be suppressed at first but will eventually become too powerful for the dominating soul to resist using any means necessary to reclaim the enslaved soul. This will only subside when the souls are reunited. The enslaved soul on the other hand, will gradually weaken and eventually fall into a comatose state until reunited with the dominating soul.” He promptly shuts the book and looks down at me. I can barely see his face through the tears running down my vacant face. I can feel a finger brush against my face, wiping away my tears gently.

“There is no need to cry, sweetheart.” I can feel the side of the bed compress as he sits beside me. “I gave you plenty of time to prepare yourself to become mine, I know it is difficult for one so driven as you to accept. I offered you a much easier path. you refused to take.” He wraps his arms around my trembling form and pushes my face against the red suit of his chest. My tears continue to flow, as he tauntingly attempts to comfort me. “You will not need to worry for anything now, my dear. I will take care of everything for you, all you must do is listen to my instructions.” I try to push away from him weakly. “I will treat you with care, my delicate little darling. I cannot promise your life will be painless, but I will always be there to comfort you and care for you after my more… violent attentions…” His breathing seems to grow heavier, and my breath catches in my throat. However, he seems to calm down after a few seconds.
He continues to hold me as I try to push him away with my good arm, to no avail. Eventually, he relents and frees me from the cage of his arms. I fall weakly onto the pillow and turn on my good side to avoid looking at him, drawing the covers up over my head. I can hear him chuckle, and I can feel the tears pricking at my eyes again. He pulls at the blankets slowly, and I try to keep them over my head. He wins the impromptu tug of war match, with a well-timed tug, revealing my head again.

“Now, my dear, I need you to sit up, so I can treat your arm.” He grabs me and pulls me to an upright position again. However, when he lets go, I fall back onto the pillow and curl into a ball on my side. He sighs, and I can feel him try to lift me again, but I force my injured arm to cooperate, gripping my knees tightly. “Are you sure you want to play this game, darling?” I don’t respond, only huddle tighter. The jazzy music in the background distorts slightly, but it seems like his mood is too good for it to fade into radio static. I can feel his hand rest on my injured arm, and my stomach sinks. No… he wouldn’t… I am immediately proved wrong, as he begins to squeeze my injured arm. You f*cking monster! My breath hisses through my teeth and I burst out into a cold sweat. I try to maintain my position, but my grip weakens as he squeezes even harder. I can hear myself whimper at the overwhelming pain, and while my grip is weak, he yanks me up by my injured arm. My vision briefly goes black, and I let out a strangled gasp. My breathing is haggard as I am now sitting upright.

“There we go, darling!” I keep myself upright this time, my body shaky and teeth clenched. “Now I can treat your little injuries!” He begins to unwrap the bandages on my arm, and I am in no state to resist. As my arm is revealed, I can feel my face go pale, when I see how mangled the flesh of my upper arm is. The flesh is torn and bruised, and in one place I can see it has pierced through to the bone. He begins to unwrap the bandages on my shoulder, and even the slightest pressure sends me shivering. My hands are clenched, knuckles white. As the bloody bandages fall away, I can see a large ring of deep gashes encircling a black tattoo of a deer’s antlers. What the f*ck is that… The flesh around the gashes is also bruised badly. My eyes are staring unblinkingly at the injuries, and I feel sick to my stomach. He holds a clawed finger to his chin in thought, smile wide, but eyes narrowed.

“Hmm, I really did get a bit carried away…” He lifts a hand and presses gently on my shoulder, and a hiss escapes my lips as I begin to breath faster. “It appears I have broken your collarbone as well; I do prefer flesh wound on you; darling, broken bones seem a little much.” He tilts his head. “Though they could work as punishments, as they don’t mar your skin, so I could let you keep them longer.” I look at him with horror as he just continues to stare at my wounds from different angles. “I must admit it is quite the sight, but it is a bit extreme, even for me! I think that contrast suits you more than pure brutality!” He brushes a clawed finger against where the injury reaches the bone and I shudder. “What was I thinking!” He holds a hand to his forehead. “Why, an injury this deep is not aesthetically pleasing at all! The bruising is much too deep, and it covers up your lovely pale skin! I need to keep this in mind.” He chuckles and I scowl. After a bit more examining, he stands up and makes his way over to the chest of drawers. Even wracked with pain, my curiosity gets the better of me and I crane my neck to see what he has locked away. He snaps, producing a key, and unlocks the drawer, and my face twists in horror yet again. Neatly lain out is a suture kit, a set of ornate scalpels and knives, as well as a large box of syringes alongside a large amount of an unknown substance in medically labelled bottles.

My heart begins to race as he selects a small knife and closes the drawer, locking it again. As he turns to walk back over to me, he sees my horrified expression, and his grin grows revealing black gums.

“There is no need to worry your pretty little head over that, my dear!” He chuckles and removes his suit jacket, placing it on the back of the chair. He sits back down and begins to roll up the sleeve of his red undershirt. I hesitate to speak but force out a question.

“W-what are you doing…” My voice comes out much quieter than I expected.

“I am healing you, my dear! Such large injuries require much more blood than I have had to use on you before. I guess you will get to experience being covered with my blood for once, sweetheart! Although, I doubt it compares to yours.” He pokes the tip of my nose with a clawed finger, and I reel back slightly. He raises the knife to his wrist, and I watch in horrified silence as he slices himself open deeply. Blood begins to cascade down onto the white sheets, as he snaps and places a large glass underneath the stream. He looks at the claws of his other hand in boredom, as he waits for the glass to fill. When the glass is about halfway full, the blood begins to slow down to a trickle, before stopping completely. I can see that the slice on his thin wrist has completely healed over. He sighs in an annoyed fashion, rolling his eyes. Picking the knife back up he slices himself open again and the glass fills the rest of the way. He finally seems satisfied with the quantity, and places it on the side table while he rolls his sleeve back down and dons his suit jacket. Sitting back down he picks the glass back up and dipping a finger in it he begins to coat my injury in his blood.

“You might want to relax a bit more, darling, this could take a while.” I lean my head back onto the headboard and shut my eyes, the pillows supporting my lower back. He shifts closer to accommodate my new position and continues to apply the blood slowly. He eventually moves on to writing symbols on the more intact pieces of flesh on my arm. When he begins to write the symbols on my shoulder, I can feel my hands tense every time he applies pressure. He seems to notice this as well, and surprisingly begins to soften his writing. Eventually he seems to be finished and I open my eyes as the familiar red and black wave of magic washes over my arm, I can see my flesh knitting back together. It reaches my shoulder, and I can suddenly feel him grip my hand, I am about to pull away, when a dull pain rushes through my collarbone. I can feel my hand grip down on his with my full strength, as the dull pain increases. He chuckles, and grips my hand back gently, until the pain subsides. As soon as my breathing calms down, I snatch my hand away from his and glare at him.

“Now, my dear is that any way to thank me?” He chuckles and stands again, snapping the chair away. I am too tired to speak to him and I just let myself sink into the bed. “You must be tired, darling, healing magic does take quite a toll on your body! Especially for one as delicate as you!” He pulls the covers up to my shoulders and snaps his fingers. The chandelier light overhead shuts off, plunging the room into pitch black. The only thing I can see is the glow of his red eyes, and a faint silhouette. I can hear his clicking footsteps retreat to the door. They pause one last time and I can se his eyes scan over me on last time. “Sweet dreams, my dear.” I can hear the door open and close again, followed by the click of the lock. My eyes threaten to close, but I force myself up and begin to plan as adrenaline rushes through my veins.

Chapter 27: Escape

Chapter Text

My mind races a mile a minute. How should I go about this. I don’t know where he is in the house, but I need to escape soon, before he starts to use what is in that f*cking drawer. Jumping out of bed I feel up my arm ensuring that it is fully functional. No pain, that’s good. Even the bone is healed, I recall the dull pain and his disgusting hand, causing me to shudder. Ugh… He was looking at my wounds like a failed art project… Slapping my cheeks, I force myself to focus. Don’t get distracted. I know there is a lock on the door, I think I might be able to pick it from this side, I just need to find something to do it with. Deftly, I remove myself from the covers and carefully climb down onto the floor, the carpet thankfully dampens the noise. Blindly I feel my way over to the vanity. I know I saw a lot of hair accessories on this vanity, there must be a hairpin somewhere. As quietly as possible, I feel my way across the Vanity, opening every container and feeling the contents. Accidentally sticking my fingers into some sort of cream, I wipe it on my nightgown disgusted. However, I am met with success on the next container, the bobby pin pricking me as I stick my fingers in. Damn, that hurt! But I found what I needed… Now I need to figure out clothing…

I run my hands along the wall, approaching where the closet is. Feeling up the door, I locate the handle and pull. The door silently opens, thank God that it is such a quiet door, now I can’t see a single f*cking dress in here, so I need to go by feel… I begin to feel up each dress, looking for a full coverage one, not out of modesty, but because I will be an obvious target as a non-demon. I find one that seems to be full length with elbow length sleeves. I pull it off of the hanger, feeling a few other dresses falling as I do so. Whatever, he can f*cking deal with those himself. I kick them to the side and grab a random pair of flat-bottomed shoes. Heels are a no go; I might need to run. I remove the nightgown and hurriedly put on the dress, feeling awkward without a bra. I can’t worry about that, it isn’t like I have much there anyway, I can manage without one. I start to put the shoes on, but I hesitate. No, I will put them on once I get outside. I can be quieter barefoot if there is hardwood flooring or tile… I need some sort of jacket or cloak, so I can cover my head and face…Standing there in thought for a moment, I recall the flat sheet. Perfect, I can make it look more natural once I have any degree of light. I manage to free the flat sheet much easier and ball it up under my arm. I think I have everything that I need…

I finally make my way toward the door and feel around for the lock opening. I manage to find it fairly quickly and I blindly begin to pick the lock. Damn, it’s a tricky one… But I can tell he didn’t expect me to be able to pick locks… My fingers grow sore as I keep trying the lock, and I almost feel despair set in when…click. f*ck yes! Success! I slip the bobby pin on the neckline of my dress just in case I come across any more locks. Taking a deep breath, I slowly crack the door open, just enough to glance outside. I am met with a dark hallway. Looking around, I see no sign of Alastor or any other demons. Pushing the door open further, I slip out and close it behind me. Looking back at it I can see the door has the same carvings of forests and does and I shudder. I guess if something has a doe on it, that means me… Gross…

Looking up at the wall I can see that the keys are hung up right next to it, I can also see that there is a deadbolt on the door, that he didn’t fasten. That was close, if he had fastened the deadbolt, I would have been out of options… I hastily grab the keys and relock the door, trying to cover any sign of my escape from the outside. After I do that, I place them back on the hook and head down the hallway. My eyes brighten when I see a window. I know that type of window can open! Yes, my luck is golden right now. I make my way towards it, but as I pass by a room, the door opens suddenly. My heart drops and I freeze like a deer in headlights, only to see, not Alastor, but Selena. My eyes widen and hers do to. She begins to speak, but I put a finger over her mouth. She seems to understand what I am doing, and mimes zipping her lips, closing the door once more. What is she doing here? Whatever, now is not the time to ponder that… I sneak towards the window, making sure to pause and listen for footsteps every few seconds.

Reaching the window, I see that there is a lock on it, but as I try it, it opens freely. That’s right dumbass, I bet you didn’t expect me to get this far. I open the window and look outside. First floor, no spraining my ankles today! Squeezing myself through the opening, I just barely fit and I thank the lord for my waifish figure. As I slip out, I immediately shut the window and make sure that nothing appears any different. Perfect. However, my joy morphs to fear as I can see a familiar red-haired demon walk into the hall, arms folded behind himself, smile joyous. I duck down below the window, before he ever looks in this direction. I can hear the clicking through the glass of the window, and the muffled sound of jazz. Listening in, I can hear him walk through the hall, pausing once. My heart beats faster when I realize that he is probably stopped in front of my door. Hesitantly I peek through the window again, and I can see him paused in front of my door. He seems to be running his hands over the carvings, and I can feel chills run down my spine. Suddenly he moves to turn on his heel, and I hide myself again. The clicking continues until I hear it stop once more.

A knocking sound rings out, and I assume it is Selena’s door, I take a quick peak, and my suspicion is confirmed. She answers her door, and I can hear muffled intelligible talking. One voice is Selena’s soft tone and the other is the boisterous, transatlantic, radio laced voice of Alastor. They seem to be conversing normally, and no shouts of surprise or hints of violence occur. They only speak for a minute or two, before her door closes again, and I can hear the clicking of his footsteps fade away. Refusing to be caught off guard I take a cursory glance over my surroundings, ensuring that he didn’t teleport right f*cking next to me. All clear. Slipping on the shoes quietly, I place the flat sheet around me like a cloak and tie it around my neck. I make sure to keep one hand over the knot, preventing it from being undone by accident.

I start to make my way around the building, it seems that I came out near the side of the building. As I sneak my way around the perimeter, I realize just how large the building is. I am glad I found an exit quickly… If I had to search around, I would have been caught! Especially with him roaming the f*cking halls. I finally find a path that leads out onto the well-lit streets. As I look behind me my eyes widen in shock. On top of his estate is an entire f*cking radio tower. Radio Demon indeed… I slip into an alley way, and I make sure to stick close to the walls. As I pass by a trash bin with a pile of trash next to it, I realize how conspicuous the white flat sheet is. I toss it out and look over what I am wearing. It seems to be a dusty-rose colored dress, that is well tailored, but my shoes are a bright blue mary-jane style shoe. Great, I am a fashion disaster. Especially with my hair flowing freely like this… Looking over the garbage, I spot an old jacket that is full of small holes, but it has a hood, nonetheless. I grab it and shake off bits of paper and cigarette butts. Ugh it smells like tobacco. I guess they were a smoker, that explains the holes. Slipping the jacket on I shiver with disgust. It isn’t particularly dirty, but I am not a fan of wearing questionable clothes.

Spotting some discarded soot I rub it over my shoes, dulling their bright color. I also cover my face, making myself look like some type of beggar. I also take the chance to rim up the bottom of the fine dress, disguising the expensive fabric with more soot. Why the hell is there soot here? I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but do a bunch of demons use fireplaces in this part of the city? Feeling satisfied with my refreshed disguise, I tuck my hair into the hood, and walk along the alley ways with my head down. Every time I hear a demon approaching, I deem it wiser to hide, instead of taking my chances. Unsure of where I am exactly, I try to look around at the landmarks. I can only see Victorian style houses, and some that look even older. This must be the Cannibal Colony; I remember him saying his estate is here… I really need to stay careful. Making sure to stay out of sight I start to feel exhaustion hit me. f*ck… I need to take a break somewhere… He wasn’t lying when he said that magic tires you out. I haven’t been this tired in a while. Deciding to at least make it out of the colony before finding a resting spot, I weave my way through alley ways. I can see multiple crudely drawn posters with the words ‘BEWARE: THE RADIO DEMON’. You don’t have to tell me twice…I make my way through a few more alleys, almost getting spotted by a large pig like demon, but I manage to avoid him by hiding behind an empty garbage bin. Eventually I sigh as I see a beautiful sight. A sign that says: YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE CANNIBAL COLONY.

As I make my way out of that gauntlet, I can feel my limbs slowing down, and I enter a darkly lit vacant alleyway. There seems to be a large dumpster, that has a few feet of clearance below it. I f*cking hate the idea but… That might be the best hiding spot, I don’t think I can make it anywhere else… I think I am small enough to fit, but it will be tight. Sighing, I screw up my courage and slide under the bin. It is a tight fit and I feel a little claustrophobic, but it is surprisingly cleaner under her than I expected. I guess it is because no one would throw trash underneath it when they can just drop it on the ground beside it… f*cking litterbugs… Curling into a ball under this garbage bin, I can feel myself slipping into slumber, and I just let it take me.

After who knows how long I awaken from my slumber, to see that it is no longer nighttime. It seems to be mid-day, and I stretch out my sore limbs. I can feel a crick in my neck from such a poor sleeping position. Making sure to listen for any signs of demons nearby, I determine that the coast is clear. Sliding myself from under the bin, I blink at the sudden bright atmosphere. How long was I asleep… I should probably assume he knows I am gone now… Stretching my limbs one more time, I check around to see if there are any useful items. I spot a fairly decent set of sneakers, that are woefully too big for my feet. I check them over and empty out a few scraps of paper, but they seem good enough, so I kick off the mary janes, and slip them on. Maybe I should hide these… I hide the shoes underneath a large pile of cardboard and begin to make my way towards where I think the hotel is. I don’t really have another option… I guess I could just hide on the streets, but I would be found quickly if I did that, and maybe not even by Alastor.

The day wears on and I slip through side streets and even more alleys, getting used to the routine of hiding from every little sound, and dodging interactions. As I make a right turn, I suddenly reel back to hide behind a wall. Rosie’s… at least I know where I am… My heart begins to beat faster, as I try to make out what is behind the glass of her shop. I can see a tell-tale streak of red, behind the glass, obscured by a glare. sh*t! I immediately backtrack and head through as many confusing side streets as possible, trying to maintain an idea of where Rosie’s is in reference. Eventually, my heart begins to calm down, and I am instead assaulted with a feeling I haven’t felt in a while. My stomach rumbles. Oh… I though it stopped being able to do that… I must have been asleep longer than I thought. My stomach wouldn’t growl unless I haven’t eaten for more than three days… Did the magic really knock me out for that long? I begin to calculate in my head. It was fasting day on the day of the going away party, then he attacked me in the evening. After that I was out for an unknown period of time, I couldn’t even tell the time of day when I woke up. Then he treated my wounds and sent me off to bed, where I immediately started my escape. I went through Cannibal Colony throughout the night, until I got too tired, then I fell asleep for another unknown period of time. It could honestly be anywhere from two and a half to five days. My stomach rumbles again, but I suppress the feeling and keep walking towards where I assume my destination to be.

Along the way I spot a demon sitting on a curb, eating a sandwich. My eyes flash with hunger and I realize that if I don’t eat, I will only get weaker. As I am looking at him from behind, from my hiding place in the alley, I can see him put the sandwich on a plate that is sitting next to him. I spot some chips on the plate as well, and I make up my mind. Picking up a small rock, I chuck it at another alley way close by, causing the demon to shoot up. He stomps off toward the alleyway and starts to shout down it. As he is distracted, I snatch up the plate, and resist the urge to eat right away. Instead, I quietly run down as many twists and turns I can come across, ensuring he won’t be able to follow me. As I reach another main street, I back up into the alley again, and take a seat behind a pile of cardboard boxes. I start to dig in to the ill- gotten meal, and nothing has ever tasted as overly salty, yet so good. I cringe, but force down the meal, eating every last crumb. Making sure to toss the plate in the dumpster properly, I can feel my hunger subside. Good, now I wont collapse. I run a hand through my hair and shiver with disgust at the greasy feel of my roots. God, I want a f*cking shower…

Suddenly, I spot a poster, and in the fading light of the sky I can make out that it is an advertisem*nt for the Happy Hotel. Yes! It has directions right there! It looks like I am close, I just need to travel a few more streets… Sighing I pull up my hood again and begin to walk forward again with my aching feet. I haven’t had to walk this far in a long time, especially with all of the twists and turns, wearing a pair of ill-fitting sneakers! I laugh at my own misfortune, but I can’t help but feel a little proud of having gotten this far. I make my way through a few more alleyways, and the pentagram engraved sun dims the rest of the way. My body is wracked with exhaustion, and I can feel my heart sing as the hotel comes into view.
The familiar altered sign glowing above the entrance like a beacon, I take a step towards it only to be held in place. What the hell! I try to move again, but I realize that something is wrapped around both of my feet. My heart sinks as I look down to see shadowy tendrils holding me firmly in place. No! Goddammit, I was so f*cking close! I struggle against the shadows, and I realize that my shoes are oversized. Looking around, I haven’t yet seen Alastor, but I can hear the familiar clicking, accompanied not by jazz, but by heavily distorted radio static. I yank hard on one foot and my shoe comes free, I do the same to the other side, and I bolt off into a side street. However, my hope is crushed as more shadowy tendrils grab at me from every side, holding me in place. My struggle doesn’t make them yield. I can only watch in resignation as I see Alastor finally come into view. His eyes are narrowed, and his smile is dangerous. I can see a displeasure glint in his eye, as he adjusts his monocle.

“You are a clever little dame aren’t you.” He strides up to me, as I am held in place by the shadowy tendrils.

“I f*cking hate you.” I flip him off with both of my hands, despite them being restrained.

“I know, darling. You seem to have slipped away rather easily, how did you go about your daring escape, my dear?” His question is laced with threat, and I know that I am in for a world of hurt if I don’t answer.

“I don’t know, why don’t you tell me, you are supposed to be the smart one. Let me tell you that it is really creepy to stroke a f*cking door like that, wierdo. Also, you seem to really like going to Rosie’s maybe you should marry her.” He raises an eyebrow, and I can see his eye twitch.

“Sneaking seems to be in your repertoire as well, darling. That is good to know. As for how you escaped, I already know the answer. You did leave quite a mess on the vanity, dear.” He grabs my face roughly and lifts my head to face him. “You must have used the same technique to get into my quarters in the hotel. However, that does not explain how you got out of the house and were even able to see me as I made my rounds. Why don’t you share with the group.” His claws dig in slightly, as I scowl at him.

“Your windows open, dipsh*t.” He co*cks his head with a snap, and his grin grows to reveal black gums.

“I see. It seems you are much thinner than I thought if you could squeeze through there.” He lifts a hand to his chin in contemplation, eyes narrowed still. “No matter, it will not be happening again, darling. Don’t think that you will get another chance.” He snaps his fingers, and we are both brought back to my room, exactly as I left it. I fall to the floor as the shadows disappear. I lift myself up slightly and with the lights on I can see the mess I made of the vanity, and the pile of clothes that I accidently dropped. “You have made a right mess of yourself as well!” He grabs me by my hair and forces me to my feet. “I guess this is what happens when you are on the lam for three days, my dear.” He looks over my tattered and soot covered clothing. “This will not do.” He begins to drag me towards the restroom by my long black hair, that is currently very greasy.

“No, let go of me!” I try to pull my hair out of his grasp, but he just twists his fingers in more. He manages to get me past the threshold and the door shuts behind me. He finally releases my tresses and I fall to the floor, because I was pulling away so hard. My hand grips my scalp, massaging the sore spot. He strides over to the chair and small table and takes a seat. Snapping, he produces a mug of coffee and a newspaper, he places one leg over the other in a casual pose. He begins to read the newspaper and sip from the cup as I sit on the floor in confusion and shock. He lowers the newspaper slightly and I can see him raise an eyebrow.

“Well, hop to it, darling.” My head tilts as I scramble to my feet. When I am standing, I cross my arms over my chest.

“What are you talking about.” My eyes glare at him, and I can see a hint of mischief in his eyes.

“You need to bathe, sweetheart. You cannot expect to retain that filthy appearance in perpetuity. So, get to it. You will not be permitted to leave this room until you bathe.” My eyes widen in shock, and I recoil causing him to chuckle and he continues to read the paper.

“There is no way I am going to bathe in front of you!” My fists clench, but he doesn’t even respond, just taking a sip of his coffee. The scent seems to fill the room and make my mostly empty stomach churn. Realizing he is not even going to acknowledge me I sit back down on the floor, making myself comfortable. “I guess I will be here forever then if you refuse to leave.” He lowers his paper again and looks at me with an undefinable expression, before he raises it again. A few minutes pass in silence and I merely rest my head on the door of the rest room.
“My dear, are you really going to play this game?” His voice cuts through the silence and I just nod at him. He lowers the paper and places it on the table, before putting a hand on his chin. “Hmmm. Perhaps, if you do not comply, I will be forced to strip you down and throw you into the bath myself. And while that is an attractive option, I would much prefer you obey my instructions.” His eyes seem serious, and I feel a chill run through my spine. I force myself up and huddle my arms over my chest, hugging my shoulders.

“Why can’t you just leave the room. I will bathe if you leave.” He chuckles and stands up, causing me to huddle into the corner.

“If you hadn’t made an escape attempt, I would have been willing to cooperate, but you are in no position to negotiate right now, sweetheart.” He takes a small step towards me. “You have one last chance. Make the right decision.” His voice has a harsh edge to it. Fine, but you aren’t getting a f*cking show. Huffing in displeasure, I walk towards the tub, keeping a wide radius away from him.

“Fine.” I mutter, before climbing in the tub fully clothed. I draw the curtain around the tub and sit down. I can hear him laughing.

“You will still need to undress, my dear, you can’t bathe fully clothed, especially not in those rags!” Huffing, I have already thought ahead.

“I know.” I begin to strip my clothes off, remaining under the rim of the tub, preventing even a silhouette from showing through the curtains. As I remove the garments, I slip them over the lip of the tub, and they fall to the floor, past the bottom of the curtains. My eyes linger over the antler tattoo and my stomach churns. As I reach my underwear I remove them, but instead of dropping them out I hang them on the faucet. “There. Now leave me alone.” He chuckles and I can see his silhouette bend down and pick up the discarded clothing. Shock fills my eyes as I can see the outline of a flame engulf them. Did he just f*cking incinerate them! Reeling in shock for a moment, I regain my senses and I turn the faucet on, feeling my muscles tense up as the ice-cold water splashes down into the basin of the tub. This is so embarrassing… I put the stopper in and wait for the freezing cold water to fill the bath. Keeping my eye on his silhouette, I cringe when he doesn’t sit back down.

The tub eventually fills to the top, after what feels like an eternity. My thin form is shivering in the frigid water, this is so much worse than a cold shower. Realizing my error, I groan internally. f*ck. I forgot to grab the soap and hair products… What the f*ck do I do now. My face grows grim as I realize what I have to do. I can’t leave the curtains and grab them myself, so I need to ask him for help…Ugh… I can see his form, still standing, and I realize that he must have already noticed, or else he would have sat back down.

“I need the soap…” my voice practically whispers. I can practically hear his smile grow.

“I’m sorry, you need to speak up, darling! You are as quiet as a mouse!” My face practically glows with embarrassment as a heavy blush crosses my features.

“I need the soap, and the hair products, I forgot to grab them.” I speak up louder and make sure to include everything that I need in the request. I can see him tilt his head and lift an arm, and I just know he is making his stupid thoughtful face.

“Hmm, maybe I will be inclined to assist you, if you ask politely, dear!” My fists clench in rage and I force the words out through gritted teeth.

“May I please have the soap and the hair products.” He finally moves towards where the shelving unit is, and I can see him pause in front of it, seemingly deciding which ones to grab. After what feels like an eternity, he finally selects the products I need and walks back over to the curtain, and as I see a clawed hand wrap around them, I panic. My arms cover myself as best as possible in the cold water.

“Stop! Don’t open the curtain!” He thankfully freezes, but I can sense his pleasure at my reaction.

“How do you expect me to give you the items then, my dear?” The smile is audible in his tone.

“I am going to slip my arm through the curtain, just please hand them to me one at a time.” My face grows red again as I slip a hand through the seam of the curtain, making sure there is no way to peak, with my other hand.

“You are quite the bashful dame aren’t you!” He taunts me, but I feel him place the bottle in my hand, his claws brushing against my damp hand. I retract my hand and place the shampoo on the lip of the tub. I snake my arm out once again, and he places the second bottle in my hand, his claws lingering longer this time. Retracting my hand, I suppress a shudder, and place the conditioner next to the shampoo. Feeling hesitation, I haltingly push my arm out once more. I am waiting for the next item, but instead I can feel his clawed grip on my wrist. Starting, I splash slightly in the water and try to tug my arm back. Suddenly I see his silhouette bend over, and I can feel the brush of his lips against my knuckles. He chuckles and he places the final item in my shaking hand. “There you go, darling! All of the things you requested!” I sigh in relief as I can see him amble over to the chair and take a seat again, lifting the newspaper.
I get to work on washing my hair, having to shampoo it twice to get all the grease out. That feels much better… As I look at the bottle, I can see that it is scented like strawberries. That is a bit childish, isn’t it? After washing out all of the shampoo, I applied a generous amount of the matching strawberry scented conditioner. I always go through so much of this stuff, but I really do prefer the unscented variety… Crinkling my nose at the strong scent I pick up the body wash. My eyebrow arches in disbelief as I see this is also strawberry scented. Was he that offended by being called a strawberry pimp? It would be much funnier if I wasn’t under his f*cking thumb right now… I place an adequate amount of body wash in my hands and begin to scrub my body, removing all of the soot and grime from the streets. I must admit it feels nice to finally get clean. I move on to scrubbing my face and I am shocked at the amount of soot that comes off. Wow, I really was grimy, gross. I rinse off the remainder of the lather and begin to massage my scalp, ensuring that the conditioner has worked its way through completely. Feeling satisfied with it, I rinse that out as well.

As I pull the plug and the water starts to drain, my face goes pale. Now what. I don’t have any other clothes. Or a towel. f*ck, I need to ask again don’t I. As I look over, I can see that he has placed down the paper, and is sipping coffee in a relaxed manner, looking over towards the tub. I could just let myself air dry, then I won’t have to ask for that. But it doesn’t solve the clothing issue… and I would rather get dressed quickly… Damn it, I need to ask… The tub finishes draining, and I am sat shivering in the cold ceramic.

“May I please have a towel, and I also need some clothing…” His silhouette shifts and stand up, and I can hear the smile in his voice.

“Why, of course, darling! How could I have forgotten such an important thing!” I know you did it on purpose asshole… He makes his way back over to the shelf and grabs a towel, I already have my hand out in preparation. He chuckles and places the oddly warm towel in my hand. I retract if and watch him leave the room to get some clothing. I begin to towel myself off, taking my chance to stand up while he is not in the room. Making sure to prioritize drying off my skin, as soon as I see the door handle turn, I sit back down, and towel off my hair.

“I have a new set of clothing for you, doll. I assume you are going to keep up this charade?” I scoff and stick my hand out of the curtain again. He plays a laugh track as he places the bundle of clothing in my hand. Snaking my arm back in quickly, I can see him looming by the door, and I can feel anticipation. Hurriedly I look over the clothing and my face twists in disgust. Ugh… There is a black nightgown that has an acceptable neckline, but when I turn it, the back is a lace panel. There is also a simple set of white underwear, seemingly made of expensive fabric.

“Are you serious! This dress is obscene, there is no way I can wear this!” He chuckles at that, and I can see him gesturing as usual, through the curtains.

“Well, you will just have to accept it, doll! If you don’t want to wear it, you can always come out of hiding and search for a suitable garment yourself.” He plays a laugh track as I sputter in shock. f*ck! This is bullsh*t! “I would suggest making your decision quickly, my dear, I am getting quite tired of this little game.” His voice has a threatening edge, and I bite back my anger, and slip on the clothes. The silk of the gown feels cool against my skin, and I can feel gooseflesh on my arms. Thankfully, it seems to go past the knees, but stops at mid-calf. Finally, feeling as covered up as I can, I hesitantly pull the curtains open and climb out of the tub.

I am met with Alastor standing at the doorway, positively beaming. He strides over to me, and I shrink away, hugging my arms. He seems to look over my appearance and I feel nothing but disgust. My long black hair feels heavy, due to the weight of the water, and strands are sticking to my arms and face. I flinch as he raises a clawed hand. He pushes the strands of hair sticking to my face, behind my ear and I glare at him.

“There we go, darling! That wasn’t so difficult, now, was it? You look just hotsy-totsy in that dress, I knew I had a good eye!” He circles around me, arms folded behind his back. My face is red with rage, and I grit my teeth. Suddenly, he is in front of me again. “All right, my dear! It is time for you to head off to bed, we will discuss your punishment in the morning!” This wasn’t the punishment? It seemed like a f*cking punishment to me… What the f*ck is he going to do! He looks pointedly over at the sink, where the toothbrush and toothpaste sit, and I stomp over to them. I quickly, yet thoroughly brush my teeth, the taste of mint overpowering everything. Shuddering, as I see him watching my through the mirror, I finish up and rinse out my mouth. Turning to face him I frown, he smiles and walks out of the room, and I trail behind him. I can see that the room is perfectly in order again, down to the bed being made, however it seems the sheets have been changed to a pale peach set. He pulls back the covers again, waiting for me to enter willingly, but I reel.

“You don’t expect me to go to bed with wet hair, do you!” He co*cks his head with a snap, seeming legitimately confused.

“I do not see the issue, my dear. Is there something I am not aware of?” Scoffing I absently shift my hair to rest on my shoulder, dangling in front of me.

“Do you even realize how many knots that would put in my hair! Not to mention drying strange…” My eyes glaze over slightly as I imagine how painful brushing my hair out in the morning would be. His eyes widen a tad, and he raises a claw to his chin in thought, hand absently stroking the soft sheets of the bed.

“And how long exactly does it take for your hair to dry, dear?” I frown.

“Two hours minimum.” He chuckles at this and narrows his eyes.

“You wouldn’t happen to be lying to me, would you?” Keeping my calm, I know I am telling the truth anyway.

“If you think I am lying feel free to time it.” I narrow my eyes back at him. He seems to believe me, but instead of giving up he just snaps his fingers. I can feel a warmth radiating from my hair as it rapidly begins to dry, my eyes widen in surprise. “What the-“ After less than a minute, my hair is perfectly dry, and the scent of strawberries gently wafts off of it from the hair products. He seems proud of himself, and I realize I no longer have an excuse, as he pats on the bed.

“Now, darling, I believe you have no valid complaints now, so hop to it!” My feet hesitate to move, but I force the issue. Whatever, I will definitely find another way to escape. I am getting tired anyway… As I approach the bed, I can feel the soreness of my feet and legs from the unnatural amount of walking and running. I really am out of shape… Reaching the four-poster, I glare at him to move out of the way. Thankfully, he moves, letting me climb up into the covers successfully this time. He goes to pull up the covers, but I beat him to it, yanking them up and turning over in a huff. He chuckles at my childish actions but snaps his fingers, causing the light to turn out. Waiting for him to leave the room to sleep, I realize that he hasn’t moved.
“Well, aren’t you going to leave?” My bitter voice rings out in the quiet room.

“Of course not! The last time I left you to your own devices, you managed to slip through the cracks! No, I will not be permitting that to happen again, sweetheart.” His glowing red eyes pierce through mine, and I scowl at him again, knowing he can see just fine. I just flip him off and turn back over, huddling into a ball on the bed, covering myself completely with the soft blankets. Sleeping like this might become a habit… The fatigue of my attempted escape finally hits me. I can hear Alastor moving towards the armchair, and the tell-tale rustling of him sitting down. At least he isn’t going to just loom over me all night… I think to myself, as I slowly sink into a deep slumber.

Chapter 28: Twisted Explanations

Notes:

Trigger warning, force feeding and graphic depictions of violence

Chapter Text

I can feel a warm hand land on my shoulder, and shake me slightly. My eyes flutter open, and as I glance around taking in where I am, my heart drops. Ugh… I almost forgot I am in my personal f*cking hell. Shifting myself upright, I am met with the familiar grin of Alastor, and the soft sound of jazz. I rub the sleep out of my eyes with a frown.

“What do you want now.” My groggy voice is sharp, but he just smiles down at me.

"Why, it is morning, darling! You were sleeping so soundly; I almost didn’t want to wake you!” Creep. As I lean my head on the headboard and shake the rest of the sleep off of my brain, he looks me over. “Now, my dear, I believe that it is time for breakfast! It will do you some good to eat some real food for once!” My heart drops, as, without waiting for a response, he strides out of the room. I can hear the door locking behind him. Ugh, I do not want to eat whatever the hell he is going to try to give me. There is no f*cking way, not after he drugged me! I have to try to convince him I am not hungry or something… Looking around the room, I hop out of the bed, and toward the vanity. I grab a comb and comb out my hair as quick as possible. At least he dried my f*cking hair. I start to search over the various containers, trying to find a hair tie. I don’t see a f*cking hair tie anywhere! Bastard. However, I spot a variety of silken ribbons lain out neatly in a box and I get an idea. Picking the most simple, white ribbon, I manage to put my hair up into my usual bun. I have a bit of difficulty, as I am not used to using such an unwieldy item, but success is mine.

Feeling satisfied at the state of my hair, I stride towards the closet, throwing it open. Immediately I begin to search for a more modest dress, and I stumble on a perfect choice. It is a light blue cotton nightgown and is detailed with small flowers along the hems, but it fits my modesty criteria. Rushing over to the restroom and shutting the door, I throw off the black nightgown, and pull the blue one over my head. Checking the length, I feel satisfaction. It hits my ankles, and my arms are completely covered. Perfect. While I am in here I take the chance to brush my teeth, my mouth is filled with the minty flavor of toothpaste, but a few rinses with water dulls it considerably. Picking up the discarded nightgown, I head out of the restroom. What should I do with this… I could destroy it! Moving to rip out the lace panel, I am surprised as I hear the keys jingle. f*ck! Hurriedly I toss the dress into the open closet and close it, just as I hear the door click open.

He pushes open the door and seems momentarily surprised that I am not still on the bed. His eyes quickly find me however, and he looks my up and down with a raised eyebrow. He is holding a tray in one hand and places the other hand on his hip.

“You sure work fast, my dear!” This does not seem to please him, but he just sets the tray down on the side table of the bed before turning on his heel and approaching me. “Why don’t you tell me what exactly it is you think you are doing?” As he towers in front of me, my face turns to apathy, and I sidle away to sit in the armchair.

“I was just getting more comfortable.” My eyes scan the bookshelf, as I can see him raise an eyebrow.

“I don’t believe I gave you permission to do such a thing, my dear!” He walks over and arrives next to me.

“Why would I need your permission to comb my hair, brush my teeth, and change my clothes.” He seems to suddenly find this very entertaining, and the annoyed look in his eyes melts away.

“Why, because you are mine!” A clawed hand snakes out and grabs me by the wrist, before I can react. I glare at him as he bends at the waist to make eye contact with me. He lifts his other hand up to my hair and easily undoes the knot in the ribbon, causing my tresses to cascade over my shoulders. “I much prefer your hair down, doll.” The bloody scent of his breath overwhelms my senses, and I huff, turning away. I don’t give a f*ck what you prefer! “Now then, my dear! It is time for you to eat!” He drags me out of the chair by my wrist and forces me back onto the four-poster. I sit on the bed, arms crossed, but I let apathy enter my face as he sets the tray in front of me. Looking over the array of food, I can feel his expectant gaze.

“I am not hungry.” I push the tray away from myself and He chuckles.

“Come now, I can’t believe that! You have been without food for, what? Three days now? Maybe even four.” He leans in over me, but I look him in the eye.

“That is not true. I ate while on the run from you.” It’s not a lie, but it isn’t the full truth… He seems to not believe this, so I continue. “It is quite easy to steal, you know. Especially from idiots, you know, like you.” I maintain eye contact and push the food away again. “So, I am not hungry.” He narrows his eyes, and leans in closer, I am once again assaulted by the scent of blood.

“That is beside the point, my dear!” He raises a hand, pushing hair out of my face. “You will eat regardless.” His voice is dangerous, but I grow desperate to avoid eating whatever he is trying to make me eat.

“I do not want to eat, especially not what you give me!” His grin grows suddenly, revealing black gums. I am hit with a sudden sense of déjà vu. He appears pleased by my continued resistance, and I realize, no… he wanted me to refuse... f*ck! Suddenly, I try to back track. “No, it’s fine I will eat, just back off.” I try to push him away and grab for the tray, but he doesn’t move.

“No, you are right, my dear! It will be quite difficult to convince you to eat every time!” He grabs my wrist again and shoves me on my back. I can feel the shadows wrap around my wrists as he lets go.

“No! I will eat, just let me go!” He grabs the tray and sets it on the side table again, grinning all the while. As he begins to climb the bed, I try to kick out at him, but He grabs me by my ankles and forces them down. He sits himself on my hips, straddling me yet again, and I unable to move in any meaningful way.

“Darling, I actually much prefer it this way! I am glad to hear you agree!” He seems giddy as he looks over the tray of food. My eyes are tinged with disgust and fear, but I keep trying to free my hands from the shadows. “Hmm, I believe we will start with this.” He grabs an individual plate from the tray and brings it over for me to see. It appears to be a plate of waffles, and I am reminded of the hallucination. He sets the plate down on my stomach and I can feel the warmth seep through my nightgown. “This should be fun, sweetheart!”

“You’re a f*cking psychopath! Why the hell are you doing this!” He raises an eyebrow, as he picks up a fork and knife. As he begins to cut the waffle into small pieces, he chuckles.

“I have already accepted that I am insane, dear, that doesn’t bother me! As for why I am doing this?” He sneers at me, and I recoil. “It’s because I find this ab-so-lute-ly thrilling! It is quite fun to feed you, darling! Your expressions are simply to die for!” He lifts a forkful of waffle and forces my jaw open. He pushes the fork into my mouth and pushes my jaw closed over it. Sliding the fork out from between my teeth, he holds a hand over my mouth ensuring that I properly eat the bite. “Why, feeding you is almost as delicious as your blood!” he runs a finger along my throat as I swallow the bite, making direct eye contact.

He continues the process with the rest of the waffles on the plate, and I can feel a hint of relief, when I see that they are all gone. However, I realize, that was not the only thing on the tray.

“There you go, sweetheart! I know you hate this,” He strokes my face as I hold back tears, “but, you are doing so well! Well then, how about you decide what I feed you next!” He forces my face to look at the tray, and I balk when I see the amount of food left. There appears to be some sort of egg thing, a plate of what I hope is bacon, a bowl filled with various fruits, and a glass of orange juice. “Now, dear, I know it is hard to choose,” He shifts in closer, pain shooting my hips in a familiar way, “but if you don’t then I can make this a much worse experience...” He drags a finger across my cheek. f*ck! I don’t want to eat any of this! I guess the egg thing looks the easiest…

“T-the egg thing…” My mind fails to remember what it is called, but he just chuckles, picking the plate of eggs up. He moves the empty plate off my stomach and places down the new one.

“It is called am omelet, darling, I am astounded that despite how intelligent you are, when it comes to such basic things you are hopeless!” He begins to cut into the omelet, and I can see bits of various vegetables mixed in with the eggs. His hand resumes it’s position on my jaw and he continues to force forkfuls of food down my throat. I hate this… I can’t do anything… I feel like a f*cking child! I continue to blink back tears and I finish the last bite of the omelet. The jazzy background music suddenly begins to sound familiar.

“I’m sure you will recognize this one, darling! I felt it fitting the first time around after all!” Recognition dawns on me and I remember the first time he force-fed me, I can feel a phantom pain in my arm, where he injured me before. He is a f*cking monster! At least it isn’t blaring this time… “However, there is no pests to interrupt us this time, my dear!” He grabs the next plate, without my input. Angel…I wonder if they are doing ok… My eyes start to wander, until I feel a sharp tug at my chin. “Focus now, darling. I want your attention on me.” His eyes are narrowed, and I feel a chill run through my spine. My eyes widen in fear, and I stare up at his face, his eyes grow satisfied again. “There we go!” He lets go of my face and picks up a slice of bacon and begins to snap it into bite sized pieces.

When he is pleased with the preparations, he switches which hand he forces my jaw open with. I also notice that he is using his fingers to feed me the bacon. Disgusting… He pushes a piece into my mouth, and his fingers linger over my lips before he covers my mouth. Thank god it’s bacon… Thankfully, this seems to go quickly because there was only two pieces and he seems disappointed when he realizes he is out. Shrugging he selects the final item, the small bowl of fruit. As my eyes scan over it I can see that there are sliced strawberries, grapes, and pineapple? That’s an odd choice…

“And now for dessert, my dear!” Rolling my eyes, I see him pick up a sliced strawberry and my stomach churns. Is he really going to use his hands for this! That is so gross… My jaw is sore at this point, but he persists and forces the strawberry into my mouth. My eyes widen with horror, as when he draws his fingers back, he licks them off. “I don’t hate strawberries… I do tend to dislike sweets, much like you, dear, but fruit can be quite good!” My stomach churns and he chuckles at my expression. He picks up a grape this time, but instead of feeding it to me, he eats it himself. “It is quite nice to share food isn’t it, darling?” His fingers pick up another piece of fruit, a piece of pineapple and as he forces it into my mouth, a small amount of pineapple juice runs down the corner of my mouth. My eyes fill with disgust when I see him smirk, and he leans down. I try to turn my head away, but he holds it firmly in place, as he runs his tongue along my cheek, removing the pineapple juice. His sharp teeth ghost over the flesh of my cheek and My stomach churns, physically gagging, which makes him chuckle. He finishes feeding me the rest of the fruit, alternating with eating some himself. Thankfully, the rest of the pineapple is much more contained.

“It’s almost over right…” My quiet hoarse voice rings out, and he look down at me.

“Yes, you are correct, my dear, only one item left!” He grabs the glass of juice and my face falls. He grabs the back of my head and lifts me up, into a semi-sitting up position, much closer to him. With his other hand he brings the glass to my mouth and begins to tip it slowly. As I try to drink it, without spilling any, he tips it more violently. Some trickles down the side of my mouth, but I manage to prevent a large mess. The last of the juice disappears down my throat and I can sense he is a bit disappointed, but he uses a finger to wipe off the small amount that escaped my lips. “All done, darling! You did so well!” He finally gets up off of me in one swift motion, and the shadows disappear. I collapse onto the bed, curling into myself, holding a hand over my full stomach. Ugh, I haven’t been this full in a while, it is uncomfortable… He lifts the, now empty, tray and snaps, sending it off through a shadow.

“Now, onto the next order of business for today.” My watery eyes peak up at him over my arm, I can see him looming over the bed yet again. I can’t take much more today… I am sick of this already. “No need to look so sad, my dear! I already informed you last night that we need to go over your punishment! I also think that now would be a perfect time to lay out exactly what your new life will be like! There are quite a few lifestyle changes that you will need to adjust to, but I will be there every step of the way, darling, so you have no need to worry.” That just makes me worry more. Lifestyle changes? What the f*ck does that mean!

“T-this wasn’t the punishment! Then what the hell was it! And what do you mean by ‘lifestyle changes’...” He chuckles at my outrage but answers my question one by one.

“Of course, that wasn’t a punishment! You should get used to being fed, my dear, perhaps I will consider being gentler if you are cooperative next time.” My face flushes with anger but I refrain from yelling at him. My hand feels around my chin, taking in the obvious bruising. I can also feel a few nicks and cuts along the inside of my mouth from his claws and the fork tines. “Now, the lifestyle changes have to do with your punishment, sweetheart.” He leans in over me as I remain curled on the bed. “You see, I would have done this regardless, but you have presented the perfect opportunity to push my plans forward. What with your little escape attempt.” He pokes my side gently and I squirm away from the touch. What is he talking about? “Do you know what the achilles tendon is, darling?” No…My eyes rocket open, and I scramble backwards, but his hand grabs me by the ankle. He lifts my leg up a little and runs another clawed finger across the back of my heel. “You see, it is the tendon right here,” He runs over where the achilles tendon is located, as I try to pull my leg away. “If it is severed, it becomes extremely difficult for one to walk, it could even make it impossible!” The blood rushes out of my face as I comprehend what he is saying.

“You’re going to f*cking cripple me! Why, what could possibly f*cking benefit you from doing that!” He releases my ankle and I pull my legs underneath myself cross-legged, holding my ankles with my hands. My face is a mixture of fear and rage, as I glare at him.

“Good question, my delicate little darling! You see I want to control your every move,” he summons the microphone and uses it for emphasis as he continues his twisted speech. “Having you be completely dependent upon my for your every movement, your every need, why, that’s just jake!” He folds an arm behind his back and looks at me through the side of his eyes. “Since you are now in my care, I would discard your hopes of independence, sweetheart. Your every action will be decided by yours truly. I choose when you wake, I choose when you go to sleep. I choose when and what you eat. I choose how you spend your free time. I choose what you wear, and where you go.” He grabs me by my wrists and pulls me to my feet violently. “I am entitled to your every expression, your every emotion, your very soul is mine and mine alone, darling. You are mine, and I plan on taking full advantage of that fact.” He wraps an arm around my struggling body and leans in close, hissing in my ear. “If I tell you to bathe, you will bathe. If I tell you to wear something, you will wear it. If I tell you to eat, you will eat. If I want to consume your blood, I will, and nothing you do can prevent it.” His other hand grips my hair and forces my head up to look him in the eye as I shudder in fear. “Do you understand, my little wife.”

“I understand your f*cked up intentions, but I refuse to accept it! You are a disgusting creature, and I hate you with every fiber of my being!” My trembling form looks him in the eye, stubbornness prevailing over fear. He drops me, and I fall to the ground as he laughs, doubled over.

“That is perfectly fine, my dear! Your refusal is meaningless, but I see that you understand my words.” He straightens himself out and snaps his fingers. Shadowy tendrils grab my wrists again, however another tendril binds my knees together, as I am dragged onto the bed once more. I am forced to lie on my stomach, and I can feel my feet hanging just over the edge of the bed, the ankles facing upwards. Trying to struggle, I am met with failure. I can hear his clicking footsteps approach the chest of drawers, and the click of the lock. Sounds of the drawer sliding open, and the small clattering of his claws hitting the wood as he picks something up. He seems to grab a few more items and lay them out on the small table by the armchair.

“You can’t…”

“I do believe that I can, my dear, and I will. Alright, everything is set up, I believe that it is time for me to begin your little procedure. I know this will hurt, sweetheart, but that is unavoidable, so feel free to scream!” He pulls up the armchair and I can feel his presence sitting down as he ghosts a hand over my left ankle.

“No!” He ignores me completely and is unsatisfied with my positioning, he grabs both ankles and pulls me further towards him. My nightgown rides up a bit, revealing my pale calves. My heart begins to race, and I can feel myself start to shake. “Don’t, I will listen if you don’t do this!” He flips the radio frequencies to a catchy tune, that I recognize as ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’. It is playing at a loud volume, and I find I am holding my breath in anticipation, as I can feel him grip my left ankle much tighter this time. No, no, no, no. My brain just plays on loop, as I can feel the cold blade of a knife touch against the side of my ankle. “Stop!” Suddenly, pressure is applied, cutting through the back of my heel like butter, a scream tears through my throat, unable to form words. My body is shaking, and sweat is pouring off of me, a sickening snapping noise is heard as he cuts through the tendon. Fiery pain rushed up my calf as my left foot now hangs limp, gushing blood from the gaping wound.

“There we go, darling! The first one is done; I just need to suture it up! We can’t leave you with an open wound now can we!” I can faintly hear rustling as I violently shake and grind my teeth, my eyes dilated. My fingers somehow grip tighter on the blankets as I feel the needle pierce my skin. Hissing through my teeth at every puncture and pull of the needle and thread, I can feel my consciousness waver. He finishes suturing the wound and gently wraps it in gauze, and then a white bandage. “Now, we can’t have you losing consciousness, my dear! That would just ruin the punishment, now wouldn’t it.” I can’t even respond through my shaking and hyperventilating. He pauses his ‘procedure’ to run his finger over my calf, tracing unseen designs. “Your calves are very nice, dear!” Chills run through me, and a new wave of pain emanates from my heel. He waits until I am no longer on the verge of unconsciousness and my uncontrollable shaking calms down.

When I finally can breathe normally, his presence shifts to the other ankle, and I can feel tears streaming down my face.

“Stop…” My voice comes out weakly, and he chuckles.

“Now, darling, I can’t leave a job half done!” Without a hint of warning this time, he slices in one smooth powerful motion, and I feel another scream rip through me. The snapping sound lost to my vocalizations. My shaking doubles and black spots enter my vision, tears streaming freely. He hastily begins to suture the wound, my body weakly shivering and flinching at every jab. After what feels like centuries, I can feel him wrap the gauze around that ankle as well, followed by the bandage. My energy fully drained, I don’t even react when the shadows release me, only lay limply on the bed.

“Good girl! It’s all over now.” I can feel him rise, and a hear a snap. The wet sensation of blood disappears, and he rustles around, putting things away in drawers. My eyes just stare into the pale peach of the bedding, when I feel a pair of hands roll me over. The sudden movement sends pain streaking up my calves and I flinch. I can now see Alastor leaning over me, grinning. “Let’s get you tucked in darling, then we can talk!” He forces his arms underneath me, lifting my limp body in a bridal carry. Laying me down properly on the bed, with my back against the headboard, he pulls the blankets over my legs. My head lolls weakly against the wood of the headboard, my back only just managing to keep me upright. He takes a seat next to me on the bed and begins to stroke my hair, his bloody breath hitting me in the face from the proximity.

“We have much to talk about, sweetheart.” He pushes some of my sweat-soaked hair out of my face as I stare at him blankly. “There is a wedding to plan after all!” My brows furrow and I glare at him wordlessly. “Yes, I have begun the planning stages as of yesterday, my dear friend Rosie is assisting with the required materials. I already have a venue in mind, I just need to acquire it from its current owners.” His eyes narrow momentarily, before returning to normal. “Rosie is also working on a splendid dress for you, I have spared no expense! I was wondering if there is anything in specific that you desire for our wedding?”

“I don’t want to get married to you.” Voice coming out as a whisper. He sighs and tilts his head, making full eye-contact.

“I am aware, darling. Yet you insist on saying it, as if it has any value. You will marry me, so wouldn’t you rather have a say in your own wedding? I am willing to accommodate your desires to a point, my dear. I will not only take for eternity, I am more than willing to give, but you must understand the limits.” I turn my head away from him, breaking away from his hand stroking my hair. My throbbing ankles are a reminder of the type of person he is. This is hell… why me? I wonder what the others are doing right now. Do they even know what he has planned… wait, I have an idea… He sighs again, gently turning my head to face him again. “You have one last chance to make any wishes known, my dear. I am not omnipotent; I need to know what you want before the planning proceeds too far.”

“I want my friends to be there…” I whisper with a firm look on my face. His eyes light up as I respond before he brings a finger up to his chin in thought.

“Hmmm, I am pleased that you have requested something, but must you really invite those pro-skirts? They are quite distasteful.” My face twists into anger, but I keep my voice even.

“You asked if I wanted anything at this farce of a wedding. The only thing I want is for my friends to be there, and that is not just Angel and Cindy, but also Vaggie, Charlie, Husk, and Selena.” He scoffs but nods and is about to speak when I tilt my head and interrupt him. “Why is Selena here though?” My face pales and fighting against the pain I shift upwards. “Did you do something to her!” My rage comes to a boil, but he just pushes my back against the headboard.

“Ah yes! I have completely forgotten to inform you about that little dame! I assume you saw her on your little escape attempt?” He raises an eyebrow, I don’t know the situation, I can’t let him know she saw me first…

“I saw you speak to her through the window.” Deciding on a half-truth, he seems convinced and nods.

“I see, you would have made a good informant, my dear!” I look away, not wanting him to know that is exactly what I was on earth. He chuckles at my reaction but continues. “You see that little dame was under my employ from the very start!” The blood rushes out of my face and his smile stretches further at my reaction. She was a plant… “Yes, that little one had the misfortune of trying to pickpocket me, just as I was looking for a suitable dame to divert your attention!” His grin reveals black gums, as I feel my shoulders tremble. “She did just splendidly, even if she did try to warn you at one point! I forgave her little slip-ups since you seemed to be so attached to her.” So, she tried to warn me… I don’t know if I can forgive her though… I want to speak with her.

“Can I speak with her.” He raises an eyebrow, and I can feel his grip on my shoulder tighten a tad.

“You wish to speak with the dame after she betrayed your trust? I am not sure if I am inclined to permit that…” I frown at him while he knits his brows together in intense thought. Is he going to keep me cooped up for my whole life! However, he seems to come to a conclusion before I can interject. “Of course! I almost forgot that I planned for such a thing!” He suddenly rises from the bed, leaving me confused. Striding over to the vanity he opens a drawer that I overlooked and pulls out a strange white opaque cloth attached to some sort of circlet. He seems to debate for a moment, turning intense eyes on me, before setting it back in the drawer, and removing a light blue one instead. “I will not be permitting any others to see your face, darling, that is my privilege alone.” My face falls, but he lifts my chin with a clawed finger. “However, I do not intend to keep you cooped up in here forever, sweetheart. I have planned ahead and procured a swell little item.” He adjusts the item in his hands, and I lift my hands up to grab the item, but he pushes them down. “Let me assist you, dear.” I scowl as he places the circlet around my head, and it settles snugly about mid forehead, the thin fabric hangs down, obscuring my face completely, and it comes down to just past my chin. Surprisingly I can see quite well through it, despite the other side being a solid color. He backs up and looks over my appearance, and hums in pleasure.

“A veil?” I ask in confusion, and he sidles back over to me. Placing a hand on the top of my head and bending at the waist, examining my face up close through the veil.

“Indeed, my dear! It seems to be exactly to my specifications; I shall have to send my praises to Rosie.” I roll my eyes, but I realize he can’t see it. I go to remove the veil, but he stops me and sit back down next to me. “Now, darling, if you want to be permitted to speak to others, or to leave the estate, there are two rules.” He holds up one clawed finger. “Rule number one, you are to remain veiled. No one is permitted to see your face.” What! Why!

“But-“ I am cut off.

“That is final, it does not matter if they have seen your visage before.” He grips me by the shoulders, the scent of his breath is thankfully obscured through the veil. “If this rule is broken, I will not hesitate to erase the individuals who have lain eyes upon what they should not have.” A shudder goes through my spine, and I pull backwards, he lets me do so. Under the veil I realize that I can break eye-contact with him, and he is none-the-wiser. I guess that is one win… Who am I kidding… “Rule two, you will always be under supervision when outside of the home or meeting with outsiders. However, I might permit you a private conversation here and there, at my discretion, of course.” My eyebrows raise in disbelief.

“What! It’s like I am a prisoner!” He chuckles a bit, before gently lifting the veil and flipping it over my head, revealing my angry face. He runs a finger along my pink cheeks.

“Perhaps you have a point, darling, I guess you are my prisoner…” he seems more pleased about this than I am comfortable with, but he starts up again. “Though I prefer to see it as you belonging to me. I take good care of my possessions you know! Be they items,” he summons the microphone and twirls it, before dismissing it just as fast, “or individuals.” He pinches my cheek softly. “However, the common thread, is that I am very possessive of what is mine.” His eyes take on a crazed glint and I back up into the headboard. “I do not permit the rabble to covet what is mine.” He slinks closer to me, the scent of blood hitting me with the veil flipped up. My ankles are throbbing as I tense up, his jagged teeth threateningly close.

My body trembles recalling what being bitten by him feels like, the piercing of the flesh and the cracking of the bone. His breathing grows heavy, and I can see a predatory gleam in his red eyes. Lifting my arms, I try to push him away, but he captures both wrists in one large hand, pinning them to my front. Leaning in even further I can feel his other hand grip my hair. No, not again… Cold dread fills my gut and I force my lips together forcefully and grit my teeth. He chuckles deeply, the sound reverberating through me, and he brings his lips to mine. Both of our eyes are wide open, mine in shock and his in sad*stic pleasure, as he presses harder. I can feel his tongue force itself against my lips, trying to gain entrance, but I just press down harder. I can see him debate biting me, but relief floods my veins as he pulls away. As soon as he releases my wrists, I wipe my mouth violently.

“Now, darling! You expressed an interest in meeting with Selena, correct?” Still shuddering in disgust, I nod my head. He rises off of the bed and head to the door, turning one last time. “Very well! Remember my rules, dear…” Scrambling, I pull the veil back down, covering my face. I can’t let him kill Selena… I shift in the bed, momentarily forgetting about my ankles, until a white-hot burst of pain reminds me. f*ck… He actually crippled me… How can I escape if I can’t even walk. Despair floods through me as I realized just how screwed I am. This is so much worse than being f*cking summoned to literal hell. So much for not being able to do worse… My eyes gaze around the room, taking in the room, not as a place to escape from, but as my prison for the time being. I guess all the sh*t he said back at the hotel makes sense. He really was making a room, and it looks like it cost a lot of money… Just how rich is this guy? My eyes spot the radio on the small table, it seems to have been shifted to the side from when he laid out his ‘tools’. I can feel a chill, but I try to shake it off. I don’t even know what time it is…

What feels like only a few minutes passes, and I hear the turning of the doorknob. Sitting back up straight, I make sure the veil is covering my face fully. The door swings open and Alastor strides in, followed by a meek Selena. She sees my veiled face and tilts her head a little in confusion. Alastor closes the door behind her before speaking.

“There we go, darling. You wished to see the dame and here she is!” He chuckles and makes his way over to the armchair as Selena stand there twiddling her thumbs. As he takes a seat and pulls out a newspaper, she finally shuffles towards me a bit and works up the courage to speak.

“I-I’m sorry Eleanor!” She bows her head towards me, her shoulders shaking, and I can tell she is tearing up. Sighing, I realize there is no way she intended to betray me, she was just forced into this just like I am forced to be here.

“Come here, Selena. I can’t get up…” Alastor chuckles and she tilts her head again, but she does indeed walk closer.

“I didn’t want to trick you, but he made me do it! I’m sorry?” She cries out as she gets closer, but I just set a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s fine, he is a disgusting excuse of a man, I believe you when you say that you didn’t want to.” I can hear the radio frequencies skip around but ignore it. Selena seems shocked that I would insult him to his face, even after everything he has done. “I want us to start from scratch Selena…” My voice has a hint of desperation, and she seems to pick up on it. She rubs her arms and takes a deep breath, wiping away her tears.

“Hi, my name is Selena, it is nice to meet you. What is your name?” I can hear a scoff emanating from the armchair, and Selena cows slightly but I ignore it.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Selena. My name is Eleanor. Might I ask what brings you to such a place?” She pales a bit but forces herself to continue.

“I-I accidentally targeted the wrong person… I was trying to get some money for food, but I tried to pickpocket him,” She motions her head towards him, and I can see him peering over the paper at us with an amused expression. “He offered me a deal, and I knew that if I didn’t take it, I would be a goner…” She shudders and I scowl, picturing what the hell he did to get that across. “So, I asked for ten-thousand dollars, but I was too stupid to read the fine print.” She looks at the ground, shivering. “I didn’t realize the cost of the deal was my soul, so he had the power to order me around.” Pieces click together and I understand her looks of intense guilt and assurance that she cannot be redeemed. “He made me sign into the hotel in order to trick everyone and if I didn’t, I would be erased…” Her voice trails off and I nod, understanding that she only did what she had too.

“I would have done the same in your situation, Selena.” I fib a little, but it is not my place to pass judgement on self-preservation. She fiddles with her fingers a little, trying to get a question out, I wait patiently for her to ask.

“Um… Eleanor, why are you wearing that on your face? I…heard screaming…is…is that why you can’t get up?” My face pales and my hands tremble a little. Alastor takes this moment to stand, startling both of us.

“I believe that I can enlighten you about that, my dear!” He strides over sending the paper away and arriving at the bedside, next to us both. He sandwiches my head between his hands and places our cheeks flush against each other, separated only by the thin veil. “This little dame is mine! As such, I don’t want any eyes, save my own to witness her darling little face!” He lets go of my head and I pull back forcefully, almost hitting my head on the headboard. He chuckles before shifting his attention to where my crippled ankles lay under the covers. He plants a hand on either side of my legs, leaning into Selenas face. Her face cringes away, but she stands there frozen in place. “As for my darling’s mobility,” he strokes one hand over my blanketed ankle. “Let’s just say that she will not be walking on her own again.” Her eyes shoot open, and she rapidly looks back and forth between my legs and his joyous face.

“W-what did you d-do! I h-heard screaming, and I know it was her voice!” Her shoulders are trembling, and her fists clenched. His grin grows and he pauses his stroking of my ankle.

“Oh? You want the lurid details, do you?” He grabs my leg firmly, just above where he sliced. A dull pain goes through me causing me to grit my teeth and ball my fists. “First I pinned her down with my handy little friends,” he snaps, and a veritable army of shadows start to swirl around on the wall, some with faces. One in particular looks identical to Alastor’s silhouette with a large grin. “Then I took a knife,” he snaps again, and an intricately handled knife appears in his hand. I recognize it as one from the drawer. “And with this knife, I sliced open her pretty little ankles!” He taps the dull side of the knife on the top of my right ankle, the reverberations send dull pains through the wound. “You see, within the backs of the ankles there is a tendon that enables one to walk, my dear, and I was certain to sever them both!” Her face is well and truly horrified at this point and I can feel myself trembling as I relive the experience. She backs away while Alastor chuckles and dismisses the shadows and knife. He also removes his hands from my legs.

“T-that’s terrible! Why would you do that you monster!” Her voice cracks as she shouts at him, he merely co*cks his head with a snap, before placing a hand on my shoulder.

“Because she is mine, my dear! I can do as I please with my little wife.” I flinch under the grip on my shoulder. “I wanted to prevent her from walking on her own, so I took the necessary steps to achieve my goal. Originally, I was debating between paralyzing her and severing the tendons, but a good friend of mine raised a good point! If she is paralyzed than she might very well lose feeling in her legs!” He lays a hand on my knee, and I flinch. “And I couldn’t have my darling unable to feel, that would just be cruel!” His sad*stic grin betrays his true thoughts.

“Stop.” My cold voice rings out, and he looks at me with an eyebrow raised and Selena looks at me with an expression of intense guilt. “Stop trying to make her feel guilty. It is clear that even if she hadn’t been threatened into a deal, you would have still found a way to get me alone and do the exact same thing. Her participation was not even necessary, so guilt does not fall to her, but you alone.” He chuckles. “You are the sole perpetrator; I will not permit you to distribute blame for your own crimes.” Selena seems to be struck with awe, and the guilt in her eyes drains away, though not completely.

“You wound me, my dear! Whyever, would I try to make the poor dame feel guilty?” Scoffing I shrug my shoulders.

“I do not know, I thought you to be too prideful to share your ‘victories’ with another. But I guess you are quite a fickle man, willing to flip flop as the opportunity arises.” My biting words send a silence through the room, only the radio static remains.

“You do have a clever mouth don’t you, darling.” He murmurs, before turning to face Selena. “I do believe that it is time for your guest to depart, she has much to do after all! I have reassigned her, you see.” My eyebrows shoot up.

“Doing what exactly.” He chuckles, strutting over to Selena and placing a clawed hand on her head.

“Why this little dame in in training to be my messenger! I have been in need of a suitable messenger for some time. You see, I can’t just show up in front of every demon causing mischief in my territory, so I intend to have this one,” he ruffles her hair patronizingly, “deliver messages for me!” His grin twists up further. “She could also deliver the invitations to our wedding, sweetheart, isn’t that just copacetic!” Crossing my arms, I roll my eyes and refuse to respond to him. Instead, I address Selena.

“Be careful Selena, being a messenger can be tricky work, some people like to take out aggression on the one delivering information.” She nods full of vigor, seemingly upset that she must leave so soon. Alastor seems curious, but escorts Selena out without mentioning it. As the door shuts, I take a deep breath and try to calm my shaking hands. At least Selena is ok… I hate that he is forcing her into such a dangerous role though… Why does he have to constantly poke and prod at sore spots… both figuratively and literally. He is a bastard. I begin to fiddle with my hands as dread coils in my gut. What is he going to do when he comes back…

I realize that I am still wearing the stupid veil and I rip it off of my head in annoyance. f*ck! I feel so f*cking helpless! I look over the circlet and I notice that it has small sapphires embedded in it, and as I flip it around in my hand, I can see an engraving on the inside. Bringing it up to my eyes, I can see that the engraving reads: Alastor and Eleanor, Chausser. This f*cking bastard! I chuck the circlet and it knocks off a few containers from the vanity onto the floor as it lands on top of it.

Leaning my head back on the headboard, I slide down to rest on my pillow, my ankles throbbing with the movement. Staring at the ceiling I count the seconds as I wait for him to return. After what feels like ages, I can hear the doorknob turning and I sit back up again. He enters the room and I huff in annoyance.

“Oh, I had hoped you weren’t coming back.” His grin grows as he ambles over to my bedside, eyes trailing over the vanity, with its displaced items.

“No need to get your hopes up again, my dear! I would never leave you alone for too long, at least while you are conscious!” He plays a laugh track and my eyes snap over to him. What is that supposed to mean… “However, I do need to leave the estate on business, sweetheart. It seems that there is a feeble-minded individual who has decided to encroach on my territory!”

“Good.” He chuckles and my eyes widen as he strides over to the chest of drawers and begins to unlock the third drawer. “What are you doing.” I try to keep me voice calm, but a hint of fear worms its way into my tone as my hands tremble.

“You shall know soon enough, dear.” His fingers find his goal and he picks up the unopened container of syringes. My heart drops as he opens it with a claw and pulls one out of the package. He snaps, producing a small booklet and, adjusting his monocle, appears to search through it.

“What the hell is that!” My heart rate increases as he appears to find what he was looking for and he lifts one of the vials of faintly blue liquid.

“Be patient, darling, I need to make sure I get the dose right!” He places the needle of the syringe in the proper spot and begins to draw up the liquid. His eyes track the quantity, and he stops when it reaches the measurement he desires. What the f*ck is that! He isn’t going to inject me with something is he!? Satisfied, he places the full syringe on the top of the chest of drawers and puts the contents back in order, laying the booklet on top of the now opened syringe box. He closes and locks the third drawer, before picking the syringe back up and turning on his heel towards me. “Now, darling, you are free to ask your little questions!” He strides over to me and sits on the side of the bed as I scramble backwards.

“What the f*ck is that! What are you going to do now!” I can’t help but raise my voice as he leans in, still holding the syringe.

“It is nothing bad, sweetheart! I am merely going to sedate you while I am away from the estate! I would get used to it, because I plan to do so each time, I go out without you.” He reaches for my wrist, but I snatch it away.

“Why would you do that! You’ve already crippled me, what could I possibly do when you are gone!” I can feel my heart pounding as I try to keep backing up.

“Darling, it is merely insurance that you don’t use that clever little head of yours to think up a new plan! As well as the fact that I don’t want you to be without my company for too long! Mentally at least.” He looms in and I begin to go into hysterics.

“Stop! I don’t want to be sedated you freak!” He manages to grab my wrist, despite my flailing.

“Calm down, sweetheart! It will only pinch a little!” He drags my arm out, revealing the delicate flesh of the crook of my elbow. My other hand shoots out and grabs the area, gripping with all of my strength. He sighs and he motions with his eyes to a shadow on the wall, his hands too busy to snap. The shadow responds and tries to drag away my hand from gripping my elbow. The tug of war continues, and I manage to hold out against the shadow, but when he summons a second one, they force my hand away. Finally able to access the area, he has another shadow hold my wrist in place as he feels for a vein. My eyes are wide open, following his movements in terror. All of my muscles are tense, as he seems to find a suitable vein. He lines up the syringe and slowly slides it into my skin. My heart is pounding as he begins to press down on the plunger with his thumb and the sedative disappears into my bloodstream. Immediately I can feel my head growing fuzzy and he removes the needle, wiping his thumb over the small droplet of blood that results from the injection site. As my vision begins to swirl, I can see him put his thumb in his mouth, licking the blood off.

“There we go, my dear. Just let it take effect.” He grabs me as I slide over, trying to keep myself upright with all of my power. He gently guides my head to the pillow, and I try in vain to sit back up. He leans over me as I begin to fade, and I can feel the sensation of his lips on my forehead as I am forcibly dragged into unconsciousness.

Chapter 29: A Rough Day

Notes:

Trigger warning, panic attack, depictions of a wound, throwing up

Chapter Text

My consciousness gradually returns, and my eyes flutter open in confusion. My heartrate spikes when I remember what he is trying to do I can’t let him sedate me! I shoot upwards but collide into something just above my head, causing me to reel back and put a hand on my forehead. What the f*ck is that! My ankles are killing me, and I look around wildly, I finally spot the bastard in red. He is rubbing his forehead with a clawed hand, holding an empty syringe in his other. What the hell is going on! My voice doesn’t want to come out, and not because I am silenced. My mouth just doesn’t want to cooperate. Chills are running through my body as I try to sit up again.

“Well now, it appears that you have some side effects, darling.” He places the syringe on the side table, and he pushes my shoulders down, laying me back onto the pillow. “Calm down, my dear.”

“Y-you’re t-trying to sedate me how can I be c-calm!” My voice hisses out finally, and he holds my head down with one hand while bringing the other to his chin in thought.

“My dear, I have already done that, you are coming out of it right now. I guess it really does cause confusion… Are you feeling any other side effects, darling?” What? He already did it… Why don’t I remember that? I hold a hand to my head and my body feels cold as the chills overtake me, I begin to shiver. C-cold…

“C-chills… I-it’s c-cold…” He tilts his head and pulls the blankets over me, and I grab them, huddling up. He snaps and another plush comforter appears in his hand, and he wraps that around me as well. He holds a hand to my forehead, checking my temperature.

“You don’t have a fever; the chills should subside in a few minutes. What do you remember last?” My teeth are chattering as I try to speak again.

“Y-you w-were filling a-a syringe… a-and you s-said you were g-going to sedate me!” My breathing grows rapid again. “D-don’t! I don’t w-want to be s-sedated!” My eyes are as wide as saucers as I sink further into the warmth of the blankets, and I shiver violently.

“As I have said, I have already done that. You have been out for…” He snaps and a timepiece appears, he checks it, before sending it away, “three hours, darling. I have only just reversed the sedative.” He motions to the empty syringe on the side table, and I can see a different vial with a faintly green liquid in it. W-what? He knocked me out already?

“Y-you already k-knocked me out?” My heartrate begins to calm, and I weakly confirm.

“Yes. Perhaps I should ask Rosie, who has supplied these sedatives. I have a few questions about the side effects…” My blood still feels ice cold, but the shivers begin to calm down as I realize that I am not in immediate danger. I can’t believe he sedated me! I shift my arm partially out of the blankets to see two injection sites, one is bruised, and the other is pristine. He sees me looking over the punctures. “You were struggling quite heavily, my dear, so it unfortunately bruised rather badly.” I press on the site, and feel a dull pain, before tucking the arm back into the blankets.

“W-why…why did you sedate me…” He strokes his chin with a finger, his eyes narrowed.

“I told you before you went out, my dear. I can’t have you being conscious while I am away from the estate. It seems your side effects include memory loss from about five minutes before the injection, confusion, panic, as well as chills and extreme cold… Are you feeling any other symptoms, darling?” Doing a mental once over of my body I squeak out a response.

“M-my mouth is dry, I’m t-thirsty, and I h-have a headache…” I huddle up in the blankets, feeling absolutely dreadful.

“Hmmm, I will put those down as well.” He summons a small notebook and a fountain pen. He writes in his neat cursive the symptoms that I am experiencing, before sending it away. Standing, he strides over to the chest of drawers and my heart pounds, but he opens the second drawer instead of the third. He seems to root around for something, before pulling out a small package of medicine. Walking back over to me, I see that it is a painkiller for headaches. He reads the back of it, adjusting his monocle, before opening the package.

“How severe is the headache, dear?” My head pounds as he asks, and I whimper.

“S-severe.” He nods and takes out four pills. He snaps and summons a glass of water, handing it to me. I begin to drink it, quenching my thirst, before he hands me the pills. I hesitate, but the pounding of my head makes me take the risk. I swallow all four pills at once, and sip on the rest of the water, not wanting to gulp it. Settling back into the covers, after about fifteen minutes, the chills begin to subside, and I no longer feel as cold. The medicine starts to kick in for my headache as well, and I begin to feel much better. Alastor has taken this time to read through the booklet, drinking a cup of coffee.

As I start to return to a more normal state, my weakness turns to anger. What the f*ck was he thinking! Did he do no f*cking research, before just injecting me willy-nilly! I-is he going to do it again… He might. That definitely sounds like something he would f*cking do. I bet he is thrilled at how much it messed me up…Ugh. Suddenly, he snaps shut the booklet, causing me to jump, and places it on the side table.

“It appears that you are feeling better, darling.” I nod my head, sulking. “I truly was not aware you would react so violently to the sedatives; however, it appears none of the side effects you experienced are life-threatening.” My eyebrows knit together, and I frown.

“What does that mean.” He adjusts his monocle and downs the last of his coffee.

“It means, my dear, that I will continue to use it.” I scowl at him in indignation.

“I knew it.” He chuckles and rests a hand on my head.

“I know it is uncomfortable, darling, but unless I can obtain a less side-effect heavy alternative, we are stuck with this one. I truly do not like to see you in this type of discomfort, as much as that might surprise you.” Yeah, you probably prefer all of my agony to come directly from you…

“Say’s the one who isn’t forced to take it.” I roll my eyes. His grin widens.

“Of course!” He pinches my cheek softly.

“I hate you.” Slapping away his hand I curl up in the blankets.

“I know. Now!” He shoots up out of the chair, and heads to the door. “It is time for your lunch!” My stomach churns as he leaves the room, ugh, can he not give me a f*cking break! My hands ghost over my ankles and I can feel a throbbing pain run through them. My hair starts to annoy me, so I brush it to the side, out of my face and off of my shoulders. The extra blankets begin to get a bit too warm, so I pull them off and drop them on the floor. I force the normal ones back and pull my legs out from under the covers, my ankles scream as I do so, but I persist. Finally freeing my trapped legs, I drape them over the side of the bed and sit up. I stare out at the room, just waiting for something to happen. Deciding to inspect the damage I pull my left leg up and lay it over my right knee. Looking over the bandages, I can see that it is skillfully wrapped. I begin to undo them, and I can see the rust-soaked gauze underneath. I guess he only cleaned up the blood that already spilled but didn’t stop them from bleeding…

Tugging at the gauze, I am wracked with pain as it pulls away. I hesitate to look, and I gasp at the long red wound stretching the entire back of my ankle. The stitches holding the flesh together, are neat and evenly spaced, and I am shocked at how cleanly he sliced. I guess he does have a practiced hand…f*cking serial killer… My fingers begin to press gently around the wound, trying to determine exactly where I can safely put pressure without causing pain. As I press a little too closely my breath hisses through my teeth. f*ck, that hurts… Determining the safe spots to put pressure, I sigh. It seems that the tendon being severed causes pain up most of my calf. At least my shin and the top of my foot seem unaffected. But the heel and the bottom of my foot are no-go’s. Wait… did he disinfect the wounds at all? Could he have really f*cking forgot that gashing open my f*cking ankles could cause a f*cking infection!? I didn’t think he was that stupid before, but after his f*cking fumbling after the sedative, I’m not so sure.

Feeling rightly angry I sit and fume on the side of the bed, waiting for that deer bastard to show his face. Eventually I see the doorknob turn and the rage I feel overtakes me as he opens the door. As soon as he shows his face, I chuck the bloody gauze on the floor.

“Did you even f*cking disinfect this you idiot!” I scream at him, and he seems momentarily surprised and the radio frequencies wobble, before slipping back into his usual demeanor. He walks into the room and sets the tray he is holding down before picking up the bloody gauze.

“Darling, is it wise to go unwrapping your wounds like that?”

“Answer my f*cking question, cretin. Did you or did you not disinfect the f*cking wounds.” He twirls the bloody gauze in his fingers and an odd look comes over his face. He is still smiling but looks a little…guilty?

“I did not…It slipped my mind; you see demons do not have to worry about infection.” He tries to explain himself, but I shut him down.

“Whatever, save your f*cking excuses. I will not be getting a f*cking infection because of your f*ck up. Fix it unless you want me to end up half-dead.” He snaps and produces a bottle of alcohol and I stick my leg out, arms crossed. This will f*cking hurt, but it needs to happen. He produces a chair and sits down, bottle in hand.

“I need you to lie on your stomach, dear, otherwise I cannot apply this.” Sighing, I do so, lying down on my stomach. He gently grabs my ankle and I hold my breath, gripping the covers. He begins to pour the alcohol over the wound, causing my muscles to tense and a hiss to leave my lips, as a burning sensation overtakes my leg. Satisfied with the cleanliness of the wound, he gets up briefly to retrieve more gauze and another bandage and re-wraps my ankle. As he moves to the other ankle, the burning subsides in the first one, and I prepare myself for the next burst of pain. I can feel the cool air hit my ankle as the gauze is removed, dull pains running through me as it is pulled off. He tips the alcohol over this wound as well, and I am more prepared for the pain, so I remain silent. Merely gritting my teeth and clenching the blankets. He applies the gauze and bandages to this ankle again as well.

“It’s done, darling. Are you happy now?” I roll onto my back and sit up again, reeling slightly from the burning still in my leg.

“I’m not happy, but now I am not going to get sepsis, dumbass.” Ignoring my scathing words, he gets up and dismisses the chair. He walks over to the tray he brought in, and I suddenly recall what he was out for. My face goes pale, and his smile regains its usual appearance. Looking over the tray I can see a weird looking sandwich and a plate of something with bananas over what looks like ice cream. This seems unhealthy for lunch… I can also see what looks like iced tea with a lemon in it. At least tea isn’t sweet… maybe I can get him to let me eat by myself… However, as I think that, I can feel him pushing me backwards. He then slips his hands under me, lifts me up, and sets me back down with my head on the pillow.

“Can’t I eat myself? I will eat the food…” He chuckles softly.

“I already told you, darling, I will be feeding you, and if you eat well for me now, then I will be more gentle at dinner.” He straddles me again but doesn’t restrain my hands. I guess he is giving me a chance… This is so f*cking embarrassing, but I don’t want him forcing food in my f*cking face three times a day. Goddammit! He grabs the main dish, and I can see the sandwich is some sort of roll with sliced meats on it, and some sort of spread. “This is a muffaletta, my dear! The spread is made of olives, and it is quite nice, I happen to enjoy this meal very much.” He sets the plate on my stomach again and begins to slice it into bite sized pieces with a much sharper knife than this morning. I hate looking at his f*cking face… especially when he is holding a damn knife… Once the sandwich has been reduced to small bites, he begins the familiar process of forcing my jaw open, pushing food in, and slamming it closed again, keeping it shut as I chew and swallow the food. The sandwich is very salty but is otherwise decent. He seems pleased at my cooperation, and the sandwich disappears quickly, I can even see him take a few bites for himself. This seems like it will be over quickly, thank god.

He realizes that the plate has been emptied, and he switches it out with the banana dish. Disgust shows on my face as I can smell the caramelized sugar hit my nose, and he seems to find this entertaining.

“This, darling, is bananas foster! You missed the showy part of it, but that is unavoidable until you behave well enough around food.” Showy part? I tilt my head and he plays a laugh track. “You see, the caramelized bananas are coated in rum and lit on fire!” My eyes widen when I hear the word rum.

“I don’t drink.” He chuckles but waves a hand dismissively.

“The alcohol is burned off in the fire, my dear! Though we will have to get you used to giggle water in the future!” I crinkle my nose, but he starts in on the dish. He forces my jaw open and forces a spoonful of banana, caramel, and ice cream in my mouth and I shudder at the overly sweet sensation. It leaves a film on my tongue as I swallow it, and I balk when I see how much is left. His grin grows, and he continues the onslaught of overly sweet dessert. After what feels like ages, I can see that it is finally the final bite. As he forces it down my throat I sigh in relief. However, I feel a coiling of dread when I remember that there is a drink as well. He lifts it up in his clawed hand and sadism fills his eyes.

“This, darling, is called sweet tea.” His grin reveals black gums.

“Sweet! Why the hell is it sweet, tea isn’t sweet!” My disbelief is apparent in my tone, and he places a finger to his chin in thought, swirling the cup.

“I do not really know, personally I detest the stuff! It is over-sweet swill!” My eyebrows knit together, and I glare at him.

“Then why are you making me drink it!”

“Because I know you will hate it! And this meal is a test remember, if you behave even during this, I can trust you to eat your dinner in a much nicer manner.” Scowling I lift my head up, prepared to choke down the glass. He chuckles and grabs the back of my head in the usual way and brings the glass to my lips. He pauses, letting me suffer in anticipation, before suddenly pouring the tea down my throat. I am immediately assaulted with the cloyingly sweet flavor, mixing with the taste of over-steeped black tea. My eyes water at the unpleasant taste, but I force myself to power through, my teeth ache from the sugar, and the sugary film on my tongue only grows worse. I can feel my stomach protesting to the sugary drink. He tips the last of the disgusting concoction down my throat and places the glass down. Immediately I feel queasy and my face pales. He seems to notice something is wrong, and quickly gets up, and I rocket upwards, swinging my legs over the side of the bed, ignoring the pain.

“I-I’m going to vomit…” I manage to warn him, and he hurriedly snaps and shoves an empty trash bin in my hands, as I begin to retch. Sticking my head in the bin, hiding my face, I violently vomit. While I am occupied, I can feel him sweep up my hair, and hold it above my head, out of the bin, and rub my back with his other hand. I begin to sweat and shiver, as I upchuck the entirety of the meal, until I have nothing left. Still dry heaving, I remain in that position for what feels like forever. Eventually the gagging subsides, but I still can feel the swirling of nausea in my stomach. He snaps and sends away the bin and hands me a damp cloth. As I wipe my mouth off, I can still taste the bile, and I gag again.

“C-can I b-brush my teeth…” My voice comes out feebly.

“Of course, darling.” He lifts me up bridal style and carts me off to the restroom. As he opens the door and enters, he sets me down on the chair and hands me the toothbrush and toothpaste. I begin to brush my teeth weakly for as long as I can. I hate throwing up…. It’s disgusting… Eventually I motion that I am done, and he lifts me up yet again and carries me over to the sink, where I rinse out my mouth. Once I am done, I just hang there limply in his arms as he sets me back onto the bed.

“Now then, my dear, how are you feeling?” As I huddle on the bed, I glare up at him.

“I feel horrid… That was disgusting… And you over-steeped the tea...” He holds a finger to his chin in thought, for the f*cking millionth time today.

“Do you perhaps have a sensitive stomach, dear?” Looking up at him in disbelief I manage to string together an adequate sentence.

“And you are only noticing this now? You’re lucky that I have willpower and I didn’t upchuck every time you forced me to eat or drink…” My voice trails off into a bitter silence and he summons up the small leather notebook, writing something down. Are you serious!? He dismisses it again and takes a seat beside my curled-up form, laying a hand on my shoulder.
“You did very well, darling. The next time you eat, will be a much nicer experience for you. Hopefully, we can avoid another situation like this as long as you continue to eat properly.” His hand strokes my shoulder and I shudder in humiliation. It’s like I am some sort of pet…I hate this… “I know this is difficult to adapt to, but I am not completely heartless, my dear. I hate to see you suffer this way.” Like I believe that.

“Yeah, you only want me to be in pain that you directly caused you sad*st…” I whisper, causing him to chuckle.

“I cannot deny that,sweetheart, but I do know that the human body has limits. Especially one so delicate as yourself.” He lightly pokes my cheek, causing me to cover my face. “I do hope I can make your existence a pleasant one, outside of my more… violent needs. You just need to cooperate with me.” My eyes well up, and I try to blink back the tears.

“W-why me… why couldn’t you have found anyone else for your t-twisted fantasies…” He sighs, shaking me gently.

“It’s only because it is you, my dear. It could be no one else.” He leans in over me and I am awash with the scent of blood. “You see, I have never been in love before, darling. Not in my entire 115 years of existence, and I do not deny myself what I want. And what I want is you.” Scoffing I push his face back.

“This isn’t love, its obsession, you monster!” He grabs the wrist of the arm that pushed him away.

“It doesn’t matter what it is, my dear. I don’t plan on denying it.” He places a kiss on my wrist, and I shudder in disgust, pulling my arm back. He lets go easily and I rub the spot roughly with my other hand. “Now, I believe that you should take your bath now, darling.”

“What…” My eyes are wide with horror. How did I not think of this. My eyes dart to my ankles, and back up to him and I curl up defensively. “No, I don’t want to.”

“No need to panic, darling! I will not peek; I am a gentleman after all!” He chuckles and stands, forcing his hands underneath me. I try to ball up more, but he still lifts me up easily, and carries me to the restroom. My heart begins to pound rapidly, and I can feel my stomach drop. As he enters, he sets me on the chair and starts to run the bath, letting the water warm up before he puts the stopper in. My face is pale, and I begin to shake slightly, dread coiling in my gut. He approaches the shelf and selects some hair products and body wash, as well as some sort of oil. He sets the products on the lip of the tub, pouring the oil into the filling tub, and the scent of lavender pervades the room. I can see that the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash all carry the same scent. Is that supposed to calm me down! Lavender isn’t a f*cking anti-panic drug, idiot! My heart stops as he turns on his heel and strides over to me.

“Now, darling, I will need to help you undress.” I shake my head violently, but he stops me from speaking. “I will keep my eyes closed, but if you resist, I will be forced to open them. Do you understand?” My heart is beating against my ribs, and I can feel my shaking worsen. I just nod, as I realize it is my only option. “However, first I need to undo your bandages, I do need to see for that, so please hand me your leg, dear.” He kneels in front of me and holds out a hand expectantly, eyes boring into me. I hesitatingly offer him my trembling leg, which causes his grin to widen as he gently grabs it. He undoes the bandages and the gauze, before motioning for the other side. I offer it faster this time, just wanting to get this over with. When both ankles are unwrapped, he stands and closes his eyes. “I will be right here to assist you, dear, do not hesitate to ask.” His hands are resting on his hips as he waits for the sounds of me undressing.
I take a deep breath and hold it in, as I begin to pull the blue nightgown off over my head. I can feel tears forming in my eyes as I remove my undergarments and fold them inside the nightgown, setting them to the side on the table. As I finish, my trembling picks up, as I know the only thing keeping my modesty is his closed eyelids.

“I-I’m done…” He nods and his voice is chipper.

“Attagirl! Now, I am going to pick you up and place you in the tub, dear. Remember, if you struggle, I will be forced to open my eyes.” He reaches down towards me, and I can feel every muscle in my body tense, and I hold my arms over my chest. He slips a hand behind my back and under my knees and lifts me up. His suit material feels scratchy against my bare skin, and I begin to tremble even with tensed muscles, my ankles throbbing. I can see the claws of his fingers indenting my flesh slightly from where he is gripping and cold fear trickles through my veins. As he reaches the tub, he gently lowers me into the comfortably warm water, that exudes the scent of lavender, and as I am submerged up to my shoulders, he draws the curtains. I finally exhale the breath that I have been holding in and my muscles relax.

“There you go! That wasn’t so bad was it, darling!” I huff and I can see his silhouette take a seat in the chair I just vacated. He seems to summon a book and his usual coffee, but I can’t smell it over the scent of lavender. Taking a deep breath and calming my nerves, I begin to wash my hair. It washes much easier this time, seeing as I just washed it yesterday. It feels good to wash off all the sweat from my trying day, and I realize that I only just had lunch. This f*cking day is only half over… This is miserable. After I apply the conditioner, I lather up my body and I make sure to be extra careful when lathering my legs and ankles. I avoid getting soap in the wounds, but when they enter the water, they sting regardless. The oil in the water seems to soften my skin, and I decide that I hate it. I don’t need soft skin…especially not here. My face is full of bitterness as I rinse out my hair, letting myself float gently in the water. My muscles relaxing in the warm water. I do have to admit this feels nice… Even though it smells like a f*cking flower shop in here. When I finish, I pull the stopper and take a deep breath, my tension returning full force. Waiting for the water to drain away completely, I raise a trembling voice.

“I-I have finished…h-how is this g-going to work…” His silhouette dismisses the book and finishes the coffee. He strides over to the shelf as he speaks.

“I will retrieve what you need, dear. You will towel off in there, however, I will retrieve you and you will change in the main room. I promise to keep my eyes closed, as I have already selected your clothes for the day.” He grabs a fluffy towel off the shelf, and I snake my hand out to grab it. When I bring it in, I realize yet again, that it is warm to the touch. Is he warming these towels up, or am I hallucinating? Toweling myself off, I make sure to be gentle around my ankles, before wrapping the towel around my midriff. I gasp when he suddenly pulls open the curtain, but I feel relief when I see his eyes are already closed.

“All right, my dear. I will need your cooperation if you wish to retain your modesty.” He reaches down and places a hand under my knees, but I must wrap my arms around his shoulders for him to get a grip on my back. My face twists in disgust when my face gets nearer to his, but I power through it. He lifts me deftly out of the tub, and walks me out into the main room, where I see the clothing lain out on the bed. He places me on the seat at the vanity, and I can feel my heart thudding against my ribs. I look over the selected outfit, to see that it is a well-tailored cotton dress of a navy-blue and white trimming, that reaches to just below the knees. There is a matching pair of navy heels that I don’t think I would be able to walk in if I had to. What are those, two-inch heels? I can only walk in one-inch tops. My face pales when I spot the undergarments and stockings blatantly lain out next to the dress, they also match the color, but are apparently silk and have lace trimming. The stockings come up to knee level and are of a white color, trimmed in delicate lace. Realizing that I can’t reach any of the clothes from here, I huddle in my towel shuddering.

“Now, my dear, I will hand you the items one at a time. I promise to keep my eyes closed, as long as you keep up with your splendid obedience.” My face twists into a scowl but I don’t say anything, only take the first item from his hand. My face turns red as I slip the underwear over my ankles and slide them up, lifting my body slightly, with my arms. Once they are in place, I make a small noise indicating that I am ready for the next item. He lifts the brazier by a strap with one finger and hands it over. My embarrassment increases, and I snatch it out of his hands and clasp it on, making sure everything is situated correctly. How did he know my bra size… Ugh! Next, he hands me the dress, and I balk. How am I going to get this on without standing? And there is a zipper on the back that I can’t reach… I unzip the zipper and pull the item over my head, getting it to my hips. Realizing that I need help my voice stutters out quietly.
“I…I n-need help…” His grin widens and I know he was waiting for this.

“In what way do you need my assistance, dear?” He looms over me, eyes still closed firmly to my relief.

“C-can you lift me up a little, so I can p-pull the dress on completely…”

“Of course, darling!” He grabs me by my waist, where the dress is already situated, and lifts my gently, allowing me to straighten out the dress to its full length. He sets me back down again.

“C-can you also zip up t-the back?” He raises an eyebrow and leans down, eyes still closed.

“I will need to open my eyes for such a task, dear. Is that acceptable with you?” His stupid voice pisses me off, but I agree. He opens his eyes and circles around to my back. His clawed fingers grabs the zipper and zip up the back, his fingers brushing along my bare back. As it is fastened, he returns to in front of me and looks me over. The sleeves of the dress are more like thick straps and the neckline is squared. I self-consciously run my hand over the black antler tattoo as it is completely visible. He grabs my hand and moves it back to my lap, and I can see his eyes linger on my shoulder.

“You look quite nice in this, sweetheart! Now, I will retrieve the bandages and wrap up your lovely little ankles!” He turns on his heel and heads over to the chest of drawers, opening the second one and pulling out the gauze and bandages. He makes his way back over and picks up the shoes and stockings. He kneels in front of me and motions for a leg again. I offer it, and he begins to wrap the ankle in gauze and bandages again. He repeats the process with the other leg, getting much quicker every time he wraps my ankles. As he finishes, I expect him to let me put on the stockings, but I balk when he picks them up himself.

“Wait! What are you doing!” He pauses, chuckling.

“I am helping you, darling! I don’t want you to injure yourself further, trying to get these on!” My trembling begins anew as he slides the stockings onto each leg. When they slip over my injured ankles pain shoots up my legs and the gentle compression is mildly uncomfortable. His fingers linger on my legs as he pulls them just over my knee. Finally, he slips the heels onto each of my feet quickly. As he finishes, he backs up and looks me up and down. “Well, that’s just hotsy-totsy!” He holds a hand to his chin and circles around me. He snaps and my hair dries rapidly again, surprising me yet again. “Now, darling, it is time to do your hair!” He pushes the seat into the vanity and snaps, producing some sort of step-by-step guide.

“What? Can’t I just put it up like normal?” He scoffs and runs a hand through my hair causing a shiver of disgust to run through me. The scent of lavender wafts off my freshly washed tresses.

“Heavens no, my dear! I detest that hairstyle on you, I have made it my duty to find a much more suitable one.” He flips open the book and points to an intricate updo, that requires extremely long hair. I scowl at him, but he begins to pin my hair up in accordance with the guide. It takes much more time than I think reasonable to spend on one’s appearance, but he seems pleased with the result. He examines his handiwork and I roll my eyes as I can see his eyes glint with satisfaction.

“Are you done now. Why am I even getting so dressed up anyway?” My tone is sarcastic, but it doesn’t bring his mood down.

“No, you are not quite done, sweetheart, we must still select your jewelry!” He pulls the ornate jewelry box right in front of me and opens it, revealing the excessive array of items. “It is quite nice to be able to adorn you, darling!” My anger rises.

“I’m not some sort of doll!” He just chuckles and sorts through the box, laying out suitable options on the vanity in front of me.

“You are a doll, dear, though not quite in the way you are implying! I know that you are alive and have your own opinions. You are free to express them, I might even take them in consideration sometimes, as long as they don’t collide with my own!” I scoff at him and begin to sulk as he lays out a large array of fineries. “Now, my dear, you may choose from the items I have selected. You must choose from each category; however, I will not let you get away with only picking one.” He looms over me as my eyes scan over the jewelry. Glaring at him out of the corner of my eye, I raise a hand over the options and make my selections. These are all so intense, I guess I will just pick the simplest ones. I select a simple golden necklace with a small antler pendant. This is disgusting, but I would rather this than the gem encrusted ones… I select a thin bracelet made of gold as well, it has a thin line of diamonds along it, and I balk at how much this must cost. That’s just excessive. Finally, I choose a pair of golden chandelier earrings that appear to match the bracelet. All of the earrings are quite large… I wish there were some simple studs… I hand him my choices and he looks them over with a grin.

“I am not surprised that you chose the simplest items, dear!” He winks at me causing me to recoil, and he packs away the rest of the jewelry, before beginning to place the pieces I selected. He brushes my hair aside and affixes the earrings, placing the hair back in a suitable place. Moving on to the necklace, I can feel the sharp tips of his claws, as he fastens it against the back of my neck. He lifts my arm and slips the bracelet on before backing up and surveying the final result. “Splendid, my dear!” He pulls the vanity chair out and circles me again, like a predator eyes prey. “You are quite the sheba when you are all dolled up!” I glare at him, my patience wearing thin.

“Why exactly am I ‘all dolled up’, exactly.” I hiss through my teeth and cross my arms. He summons the microphone and gestures with it.

“Why? Because we are going to go on a little walk, darling!” My face lights up a bit.

“Really?” I can’t suppress the excitement in my voice completely and he chuckles.

“Of course, my dear! We shall take a walk through the colony to introduce you to a few of my acquaintances, and then we will have tea at Rosie’s. I believe she has invited a few of her friends along as well. It will be good for you to get out, you have had a trying day, darling!” My excitement is dulled a bit, I don’t want to be shown off like some sort of trophy… But I can go outside! With the fresh air, and not look at this f*cking room for hours on end…Wait, how am I supposed to walk? He isn’t going to carry me the whole f*cking way, is he?! He can see my head turn towards my ankles and he chuckles. “Don’t worry, dear, I have a wheelchair prepared for you! It would be rude of me to carry you through the streets, as much as I would like that!” I shudder but feel a bit of relief that he isn’t going to carry me. But, a wheelchair? I never though I would be confined to one of those… My mood dips as I lament my circ*mstances. He snaps his fingers and summons the item in question. My face pales as I can see that the wooden back panel is carved with the same scene of a doe in a forest that is on the door and the bedframe.

“Your theming needs some work…” I mutter, causing him to play a laugh track.

“You are my doe after all, darling! Might as well accept it!” He approaches me and transfers me from the vanity to the wheelchair, the upholstered seat is surprisingly comfortable, and I notice that there is a side compartment.

“What is this for?” I motion to it and his smile grows.

“Why, that is for any items you wish to bring with us, my dear! I wouldn’t want you to be bored after all! All you need to do is ask me politely and I will provide you with what you desire.” He bends at the waist and the scent of blood hits me in the face. Now is my chance to obtain some sort of f*cking diversion…

“May I please have some embroidery materials.” His grin reveals black gums, and I scowl.

“Now, how do I know you are speaking to me, darling!” He chuckles and I sigh but comply.

“Fine. May I please have some embroidery materials, Alastor.” When I say his name, a faint blush crosses his corpse gray skin, and his grin pushes the limits of his face; I only feel disgust. He stands up straight again and places a hand on his chest, the other holds the microphone in the crook of his arm.

“Certainly, my darling Eleanor!” His vile voice says my name for the first time causing my stomach churns violently, as my face pales. He strides behind me and pushes the wheelchair towards the chest of drawers while I am still reeling. As we arrive, he opens the fourth drawer, full of embroidery supplies, and leaves me in front of it. He approaches the bookshelf and as he grabs a book of patterns, he addresses me.

“I am not well learned about such a feminine hobby, so I just purchased everything that was available. There is more than could fit on this shelf and in that drawer, but I merely have it in storage. If something necessary is missing, don’t hesitate to inform me.” My eyes sparkle as he hands me the pattern book, and I deftly begin to flip through the pages. It appears to be a cross stitch book focused mainly on flowers, and I select a pattern that includes my favorite flower: lily of the valley. After selecting the pattern, I ignore his probing eyes as I begin to sift through the drawer, searching for the proper fabric. I find plenty of linens and fourteen count aida, but I can’t seem to find eighteen count. Deciding to address that later, I begin to select the proper colors of thread according to the key. After making my selections, I grab a seam ripper, a small ornate pair of scissors, a small red pincushion, and most importantly, needles. Piling the items into my lap, I grab a suitably sized wooden hoop, before turning to Alastor.

“It seems that you are missing the fabric that I need.” I hold up the fourteen count aida as an example. “You have fourteen count, but I primarily use eighteen count for cross stitching. If you have any, I would prefer the color to be black, so the pattern stands out.” He chuckles and snaps his fingers, a wide array of embroidery fabric appears.

“I do not know which one fits your criteria, would you be a dear and show me?” Sighing I point out what each fabric is, and what they are used for, as he watches intensely.

“This,” I lift up the fabric I was looking for, “is the eighteen count aida.” I direct his attention to the stitch count on the packaging and he adjusts his monocle while leaning in.

“And what precisely does this ‘count’ signify?” I pick up a package of fourteen count to show the difference.

“If you look between them, you can see that the higher the count, the more stitches fit in a square inch. This allows me to achieve a more refined look in the finished product. I generally use eighteen count for fun projects, but if I am stitching something for others, I sometimes use twenty-eight count.” I motion to that fabric as well, and he examines the different grid sizes. “The approximate color is obviously visible from the outside, but if a pattern calls for a specific named color, it will be listed here.” I point to the color label, and he seems to understand. “It is very self-explanatory after you know what to look for.”

“I see! You are quite knowledgeable, sweetheart.” His eyes fixing back onto me. “Perhaps you will enlighten me as to how you selected the colors for your selected pattern?” Nodding I lift the pattern book and show him the pattern grid.

“This here, is the key.” I point to the thread key, as he peers over my shoulder, at the book. “It has a brand name of thread at the top, that decides what colors the numbers coincide too. You would simply locate the skein of thread that has the corresponding number.” I show him where that is listed on the thread skeins. “Some individuals will select colors by eye, and merely pick the closest color, but I prefer to use the exact colors listed.” He smirks and grabs my shoulders, leaning in close to my ear. I break out of my explanation mode, realizing exactly who it is I am speaking too. Damn, he doesn’t deserve a good explanation! I just couldn’t help myself!

“You seem to enjoy precision, darling~” His hot breath hits my ear and causes me to recoil, but he simply moves closer again. “And, I believe you have given away your favorite flower, my dear.” He gently picks up the pattern book and points to the lily of the valley one that I chose. My breath hitches and I go to deny it.

“No, I simply liked the pattern. And it is none of your business if I like precision.” I turn my head to the side. He chuckles and spins the chair around, causing me to face him.

“Now, I know that is a lie, dear, just from the way you said it! However, anything concerning you is, indeed, ‘my business’ as you so eloquently put it.” He leans in, forcing me to make eye contact with his other hand. “I will find out all of your preferences and tendencies, darling. I intend on being privy to all of your likes and dislikes.” He places his forehead against mine. “After all, what kind of husband would I be if I didn’t even know what my little wife likes!” He suddenly pulls away, and I frown. “Anyway, darling, I am going to give you a few hours to enjoy your embroidery, we will go on our little walk after you take your dinner! The next time I enter, do be prepared to eat, sweetheart, I promise it will be a much more pleasant experience.” He turns on his heel and strides over to the door, leaving. He locks it behind him and I shudder.

That bastard! I wonder what he is going to make me eat this time… Sighing I look around one last time, and upon discovering I can do nothing else; I start in on my embroidery.

Chapter 30: Walk

Chapter Text

As I work on my embroidery, I am suddenly startled by the sound of the radio clicking on. My heart begins to pound. Is he going on a f*cking rampage! I don’t want to hear that garbage! His transatlantic voice filters through the slightly staticky radio, making it sound as if he is in the room with me.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! It is a splendid day today here in pentagram city, as I present to you your regularly scheduled broadcast!” His voice trails on, and I am dumbfounded. I guess he presents a regular radio show as well… I guess that’s why he calls the special broadcasts. “The temperatures will continue to fall as we enter the winter months, so do make sure that you loathsome sinners don’t freeze to death ha-ha-ha!” He plays a laugh track. I guess winter is getting closer… I wonder how cold it will be in here? As I listen to the broadcast and embroider, he goes over all of the most recent news from pentagram city. At least I can get information through this. He suddenly veers off to inform about the status quo in his specific territory and I am reminded of my unfortunate sedation. “Just earlier today, there were a few truly vacuous demons who attempted to encroach on my territory, however, I set them right, my dear listeners! Here is a short recording of their enlightening experience!” Wait, what. Suddenly my ears are assaulted with the screaming and begging of various voices. I cover my ears in shock, and I can hear the laughter and quipping of Alastor in the background. He seems to be taunting them and I can only imagine what happened. After about a minute of the sound of wretched agony, it quickly switches back to Alastor’s smooth voice. “You see, my friends, they certainly learned their lesson! I do hope that their little slip up serves as an example to you all.” He is a f*cking monster! I glance down at my ankles. But I guess I already knew that…

“However, in other news, I have a swell announcement to make my dear listeners! I have officially been engaged to a delightful little dame!” My face turns into a scowl. “Some of you may recall an extra special broadcast from a few months back, and this dame is the very same one I was searching for then!” He was searching for me? I don’t remember that. An extra special broadcast? He continues to talk animatedly as I wrack my brain for what he is talking about. Wait! I sort of remember Angel freaking out about a broadcast when I was sick. Is that the same one he is talking about? I tune back in as his cadence changes and a chill runs through my spine. “And if I ever catch one of you loathsome filthy cretins even looking at her with impure intentions, I will ensure that you endure the most agonizing demise that I can think up. She is mine, and any disrespect towards her is disrespect towards me. Now that I have made myself clear… onto the musical portion of the broadcast! The first track to start off today’s selection is Ain’t Misbehavin’ performed by Fats Waller!” His voice fades away and into a familiar song, and my hands tense around the hoop of my embroidery. Cold dread fills my gut as I remember the feeling of the cold blade slicing through my ankles, and the sickening sound of the tendons tearing. My hands are shaking and the excess fabric around the hoop creases from my tight grip.

My panicked state feels like forever, until I finally am able to reign myself back in. When I am able to function again, the song has long since changed, instead playing a much softer tune that I have never heard. I stretch my fingers, sore from tension, and start back up on my embroidery. This is miserable… I can’t even function when I hear that dreadful f*cking song! My stitches grow more violent as frustration takes hold over me. What the hell should I do… I can’t fight him, every time I try he just takes more. Escaping didn’t work either… I don’t even know how he found me; I covered my tracks as well as I possibly could have! When I lash out at him, he only seems to find it entertaining, but when I acquiesce, he reacts the same way! It’s like nothing I do can change anything… Was there ever any chance for me to do something differently? I continue to ruminate and work on my embroidery, at some point the radio switches off after a closing statement, but I don’t even notice, too lost in thought. Suddenly the sound of the lock catches me off guard, followed by the turning of the handle. My eyes swivel towards the door as it opens to admit Alastor.

“Good evening, darling!” His chipper voice ticks me off as he struts into the room, already carrying a tray. Ugh…food… He makes his way over to me and sets the tray down on the small table holding the radio and pulls up the armchair closer to it. “Did you enjoy the broadcast, sweetheart?” He pushes my wheelchair up to the table, very close to the armchair.

“It was fine.” I grumble.

“I will take that as a compliment! Now then, darling, it is time for your dinner!” My eyes scan over the tray, spotting a much milder meal. There seems to be some sort of porridge with bits of chicken in it, and a dish of baked apples with cinnamon. On the side there seems to be a dish of roasted carrots and a glass of a fizzing clear drink. He takes a seat in the armchair, and I put away the embroidery in the side compartment of my chair.

“Am I allowed to eat normally now?” My voice has a shred of hope in it, but he immediately cuts that down.

“Of course not! Remember, dear, I told you that I would be feeding you from here on out! However, I am willing to make this a more pleasant experience for you, since you did so well at lunch.” He picks up the utensils and scoops up a bit of chicken and porridge in a spoon. “So here is how it is going to work, sweetheart. You are not permitted to eat on your own, and if I catch you doing so, then you will be forced to eat in the previous manner.” My face pales. “I will feed you directly, at every meal, but you are permitted to drink on your own.” He hands me the glass and I hold the cool cup in my hands. “I would also like you to tell me your opinion about everything that you try, so I can make a profile of your tastes.” I tilt my head.

“I thought you already know what I like.” He chuckles.

“I merely know that you detest overpowering flavors, especially when they are sweet in nature. As for what specific types of food you like, I am unfortunately ignorant, and I intend to fix that.” I nod, knowing when to yield. I don’t want to have him force food down my throat anymore… I guess this is preferable… “All right dear, open up.” He brings the spoon to my lips, and I permit him to feed me the spoonful of porridge. The flavor is surprisingly nice, and the chicken is tender. The salt is a bit much, but I am starting to readjust to it. “What do you think, darling? This is a simple porridge made with chicken broth, and the meat is also chicken.” I chew and swallow the bite before answering.

“I enjoy the flavor of the chicken, it is a little too salty, but so is almost everything…”. Other than that, the chicken is tender, and the porridge is not too runny.” He nods, producing the small leather notebook and pen. He scribbles down my opinion on the dish, before feeding me another bite. I keep my hands in my lap, wrapped around the glass. Before I take a drink, I clarify what it is. “What is in the glass?” I motion to it.

“Ah, that is ginger ale, it is supposed to be good for sensitive stomachs. It is a bit sweet, but I found one that specifically has less sugar.” I nod and take a sip between bites of porridge. The carbonation burns my throat a bit, but the flavor is not horrible. I enjoy the taste of the ginger, and he was right when he said there was less sugar than usual. He motions to the notebook, and I detail my opinion.

“It is quite pleasant in taste, although I am not a fan of carbonation. It burns my throat. I have tried ginger ale before, but it was too sweet. This, however,” I lift the glass and look at it. “Has the perfect amount of sugar to compliment the ginger. I usually dislike how syrupy some soft drinks can feel, but this one avoids that.” He seems pleased by my positive review of the drink, and continues to feed me the porridge, until it is all gone. I take another drink of the ginger ale, and deal with the burning.

“The next item today, is roasted carrots.” He skewers one with a fork and brings it to my lips. I use my teeth to remove the carrot and begin to chew, and I am pleasantly surprised when I find that it is crunchy. “Opinions?” Waiting for me to finish chewing, he lifts the pen.

“I like carrots, and these are well seasoned. I much prefer when carrots have a crunchy texture, I hate when they are mushy.” I turn away, embarrassed at my expression of intense dislike.

“I see, it seems that you have an aversion to more textures than flavors, my dear. Is that a true statement?” He tilts his head waiting for my response. My blush deepens and I decide to just tell him my hangups about food, so that he might prioritize things I like.

“Well… I am just a really picky eater in general.” I take a nervous sip from the glass. “I have always found many textures and flavors to be distasteful. The visual appearance of the food also plays into whether I will like it or not… I have been known to be unable to eat things I hate, much to others confusion. There is a laundry list of things that I hate, and most of them are quite inconsequential in the scheme of things.” He seems lost in thought, before writing something down.

“Interesting… You really are a delicate little dame, just as I thought!” I frown but decide to remain civil for now. He finishes feeding me the carrots and he steals a few for himself. “Alright, darling, last item. These are baked apples with cinnamon. I cut the sugar down and used green apples instead of a sweeter variety.” He feeds me a bite of them, and I am shocked at how much better they are than I expected.

“These are quite good. I enjoy the crunch still left, and the sweetness is perfect paired with the tart apple. Green apples have always been my favorite variety.” He grins and writes down my glowing review of the dessert dish. Finally, he finishes feeding me the apples and I drink the last of the ginger ale. He snaps and the tray disappears along with the glass. He stands and my eyes follow him up, staring at his towering figure. He strides over to the vanity and opens the drawer with the veils, pulling a white one out. I sigh, my face falling, as he gently places the circlet over my hair, adjusting the thin fabric to lie perfectly.

“Now, darling, it is time for our little walk!” He grabs the back of the chair and begins to wheel me toward the door. My heart pounds as he crosses the threshold. This is my first time seeing this hallway well lit… My eyes roam around, under the veil, and I take in the elegant décor of his home. He is like the perfect monster in disguise… We pass by the kitchen, and I see it is perfectly in order, but I can hear a few low moans coming from a closed door opposite the pantry. My eyes widen and I hear Alastor chuckle before he whispers in my ear. “That is my dinner, aren’t you flattered to have eaten before me, darling?” My breath hitches and I grip the hem of my dress. As we pass some sort of living room, I can see a grand piano and a violin set up, next to a shelf of sheet music. “I play piano too, my dear!” He runs a hand over my bare shoulder, causing me to shrink away. “Though I am not trained in violin, that is a new addition for you.” I see… Eventually, we reach the front door, and I am in awe at the size of this house.

He snaps and the door slams open dramatically, and he summons the microphone, setting it in the crook of his elbow. Wheeling me out, I am once again bathed in the light of the sun. I was on the run just yesterday, and yet it feels like it has been years… If I am forced to be cooped up in that torture room, I might go mad. My eyes glance over the well-tended front garden, and I am surprised to see a large variety of flowers. These weren’t visible at night; he doesn’t seem like the flower loving kind…

“I didn’t take you for one who likes flowers…” He chuckles, while wheeling me through the front gardens, towards the front gate.

“Appearances are everything, dear! What kind of gentleman would I be if my estate were shabby and dilapidated. Besides, there is one flower that I like!” He grabs my chin from behind and tilts my head up, and I can see his upside-down face grinning down at me. He lifts up my veil, and runs a finger along my cheek, as I try to put my head down. He lets go of my chin and the veil falls back down as I right my head.

“Whatever.” Huffing, I cross my arms over my chest, and stare ahead at the moving scenery. As we make it past the gates, I begin to take in the rest of the colony. It is a lovely place, its too bad the people are f*cking insane. I can spot a few demons ahead already, and dread fills my gut when they spot us. One of them is a leopard-like man in a heather gray vest, with matching slacks. The other is a lady who is dressed to the nines, in a Victorian style blue dress, her hair in an intense updo. They seem to have been chatting, but once they notice us, they make a beeline. Alastor meets them halfway, ever playing the gentleman.

“Good day, you two, how do you do?” He asks, in a charming seeming voice. They seem confused when they look over me, and I can feel the woman glaring daggers into me.

“I am doing quite well, Alastor! What brings you out today, you don’t usually take your walks this early.” The woman has a smooth voice, but I can tell it is practiced. Her eyes keep glancing down at me with spite.

“I am showing my darling little fiancée around the colony, she needed a bit of fresh air, you see!” My eyes roll and I can feel the glare redouble. The other man speaks this time.

“Ah! So, this is the gal everyone has been talking about. I didn’t expect her to be so… frail.” He seems to glance at the wheelchair with a sneer. My lips curl into a smile, when I realize that I can damage his reputation merely by existing. f*ck yes!

“Yes, getting maimed would do that to a person.” My bitter voice rings out, and the two demons seem surprised that I would speak at all. Now they are both looking at me directly, and I just roll my eyes again, since they can’t see my face.

“And what is your name, dearie?” The woman asks, voice sickeningly sweet.

“Eleanor, and yours?” My voice is cold and firm, catching them both off guard, while Alastor just smiles widely, hovering just above me.

“My name is Liza, dearie, and this is Cecil.” She motions to the man, who tips his hat towards me. He seems much more interested now. “How did you two meet, dearie? It’s the talk of the colony that the most eligible bachelor here, has finally shown interest in a,” She looks me up and down. “Girl.” Ha. As if that is an insult.

“We met because this,” I motion to Alastor, “can’t take no for an answer.” I scoff and he chuckles. Liza seems offended that I am not madly in love with this creep and Cecil seems to find it funny.

“Ah, so he was the one who pursued, not the other way around!” A look of mirth crosses his eyes. “That will definitely stir up the gossip girls around here, you see, they all assumed that you were the one to approach him first!” He laughs and Liza is now fuming.

“It sounds like you aren’t happy to be engaged to such a great man! You should be grateful that he took a liking to you, I’m sure you were quite the flirt, dearie.” This causes me to burst into laughter and she seems taken aback, but I can feel Alastor’s grip tighten on the chair, static wobbling.

“If you call hating his guts flirting, then, sure. I would rather be strung up by my intestines than be here right now, but I guess we can’t win them all.” Alastor doubles over in laughter as Liza seems shocked by my bitter words. Cecil, however, is still tickled pink.

“Quite the fiery gal, isn’t she Al! I can see why you picked her!”

“Indeed, she is a little live wire! You see, she is a clever little dame, and her insults are quite cutting! Some of them even got under my skin!” Did they? Which ones? I need to use those more. Liza’s face is pale, but she tries another tactic.

“Dearie, why is it that you are wearing a veil? Are you too prideful, to let others see your face? I’m sure you aren’t all that, dearie, it just seems sad.” This was the wrong thing to say, and I can feel Alastor tense. Cecil seems to notice as well, and dismisses himself, saying he has to get home. Liza however does not seem to notice the static distortion around Alastor, she merely seems satisfied at my silence, as if she struck a nerve.

“It seems as if you think my patience infinite, my dear.” His voice cuts through her smugness and her face pales.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-“

“I don’t want to hear your feeble excuses. Did you think I would be accepting of insults toward my darling?” He grabs my chin protectively, and I raise my hands up to try to pry it off, but his grip just tightens. “She does not wear a veil for herself, you dolt. I require it. I do not want inferior eyes to gaze at her countenance, eyes like yours.” His thumb strokes my cheek, and Liza stands, dumbstruck. “The only reason I am not killing you as we speak, is because of my friendship with Rosie. However, if she ever abandoned you, I will be the first face that greets you.” His biting words don’t diminish his diabolical smile, his eyes are narrowed like a predator. Liza shakes softly as Alastor lets my chin go and begins to push me past her, onwards toward Rosie’s. I can see her straighten herself out and shakily walk away.

“Was that necessary. She was merely jealous.” My cold voice rings out, and he brushes fingers over the antler tattoo on my shoulder.

“Of course, sweetheart. I will not permit outsiders to insult what belongs to me.” I just roll my eyes. “You are mine, and it seems that the rabble still need to understand that.” I decide to just distract myself with my embroidery, and I pull it out of the storage in my chair. My fingers deftly to begin on the pattern anew, as he wheels me through the lovely streets of the colony. We pass by a few more demons and they all stop for small talk, but I refuse to participate. I just stitch as they talk to Alastor, ignoring their comments about me. Gossipers indeed… No other Liza incidents occur on the way to Rosie’s, and we arrive in front of the familiar doors.

“Here we are, my dear!” He opens the doors with a snap, and wheels me in. Rosie meets us at the door, and I can see her look me over, eyes lingering on my ankles. There is a hint of sadness in her eyes.

“Good evening, my dear Rosie! I do hope we were not delayed too terribly. There was quite a rude dame on the way here.

“Welcome, Alastor, Eleanor. You are not late at all! the other guests just arrived a few moments ago, they are getting settled at the table. What happened on your way here?” Alastor waves her off.

“We can discuss that later, my dear. Let us prioritize the task at hand!” She begins to lead us back to the tearoom, and I look over the racks of clothing as he wheels me. As we enter the room, I can see four other ladies in various well-tailored dresses. One of them is on the shorter side, with blonde hair and wearing a pink dress. The next in line has red hair, and one cyclopean red eye, her dress is of a pretty green. Sitting next to her is a taller woman with white hair and skin in a maroon dress. Finally, there is a tall lady in an entirely gray dress and hat, her hair is dark, and there is a large red rose set in her hat. I can feel all their eye’s land directly on me, making me put away my embroidery at last.

“Good evening, Alastor and…” The woman in gray begins.

“Eleanor.” I state, already done with this whole thing.

“Of course, it’s nice to meet you, Eleanor! You are the talk of the colony right now!” I sigh and Alastor wheels me up to my place at the tea table, taking a seat way too close to me.

“Why, it is good to see you all ladies! How have you been?” Alastor immediately makes small talk, and I can feel their heated gazes switch to him.

“I have been just dandy! Why, just recently a new meat shop opened on third street, and they have some just delightful products!” The blonde one begins to chatter, cutting off the other ladies.

“I see! I shall have to visit, you never know which one will be my favorite, after all!” Alastor’s chipper voice comments, and Rosie serves him a mug of coffee.

“What do you want to drink, darling?” Alastor’s eyes find mine under the veil somehow.

“Tea is fine.” My voice has gone much quieter, after remembering just what these demons all share in common. Cannibalism. He motions for Rosie to hand him the tea pot and she raises an eyebrow but complies. He pours me a cup, while the other demons look on in confusion, and I can feel heat in my cheeks. Is he really going to make a scene in public… As he hands it over to me, I notice he has not added any sugar, thankfully. The red headed demon takes her chance to answer his prior question.

“Things have been going quite well in my side of town, you really should visit the new lounge. I know you have always preferred Mimzy’s, but this new one is really a sight to see!” She talks animatedly about the lounge, and the other ladies chime in here and there with their experiences there. I sip on my tea, the veil is roomy enough to facilitate eating and drinking, it seems.

“It sounds spectacular, ladies! However, I would have to defer to my little fiancée! She has quite the delicate constitution after all!” I glare at him, as all of the eyes turn onto me.

“Go if you want. I don’t know why you are asking me.” My voice is objectively bitter, and the ladies seem a bit off guard.

“No need to be so spiteful, darling! I am asking because if I decide to go, I shall bring you with me, on another outing!” He emphasizes the last three words. So, I would get to go outside again? But it would have to be some sort of lounge? I set my teacup down on the table with a faint clink.

“Fine.” I huff and He chuckles and takes note that I have finished my tea.

“Do you not like to go out, Eleanor?” The woman in maroon asks with an arched brow. The other ladies seem invested in my answer, as Alastor pours me another cup. Ah, more jealousy. Just better concealed.

“I do not enjoy going out, but anything is better than being caged up in my room.” My voice is dripping with distaste.

“Whatever do you mean Eleanor?” The lady in gray seems interested, but Alastor cuts in before I can respond.

“Why, it seems the dame has some qualms about my more…possessive tendencies.” He sounds almost proud, but there are mixed reactions.

“Possessive? I never took you for the sort, Alastor! You know that you are the most sought-after man in the colony, but you have never even glanced at your pursuers! What made Eleanor different, what made her pursuit unique?” The demon in gray conceals interest, but from the look in all of their eyes, I can tell they are very interested in what he has to say. My stomach turns, as Alastor laughs boisterously.

“It appears that you are all under the false impression that my darling pursued me! Now, that would be a sight to see! No, I was the one to fall first, as they say!” The demons seem shocked, but Rosie just drinks her tea in silence. He grabs me by the chin again, and I recoil visibly. “This one was a very hard-to-get dame! Why, I almost had to throw in the towel! However, I managed to reign victorious in the end, thanks to our dear Rosie!” My glare falls on the silent woman in black, the other demon’s glance at her as well, but don’t show an ounce of hostility.

“So, I have you to thank for this curse.” I mutter, hugging my arms, fingers brushing over the tattoo. Rosie has a guilty look in her eye as her eyes spot the antler mark, but she quickly looks away.

“Of course, darling! Where else could I get the proper research materials for the little ritual!” His eyes are glowing with an undefinable quality, and I refuse to look at him. The other demons seem hungry for details, gossips, they’re incorrigible.

“You said something about a ritual? What ritual are you referring to Alastor?” The woman in maroon hazards, but Alastor just chuckles and the radio frequencies switch to an upbeat jazzy tune.

“Why, I performed the soul-binding ritual, of course! You refused to make a deal after all, dear.” He runs a finger over the tattoo, and I bat his hand away. The company appears to be split. Two of them seem shocked, the other two confused, and Rosie just sighs. While they are reeling, Alastor picks up a canape from the tea table and he eats it. However, my heart drops when he picks up a second one and turns to me.

“Now, dear, I believe you will like this, it is a croquette.” I can feel shocked and confused eyes boring into me as Alastor brings the croquette to my mouth under the veil. I hesitate, but I can see the warning in his eyes. Accepting the canape, my lips brush against the tips of his fingers and I can feel a tremor run through them. He withdraws and picks up his coffee once more. I can barely taste the croquette through sheer embarrassment.

“You performed a soul-binding ritual? But the last one was centuries ago! Was it a…forced contract…” The woman in maroon pales as she asks, and the woman in gray seems similarly cowed.

“Why, yes it was, you are a smart cookie aren’t you, dear!” His eyes are scanning the array of canapes and I just hope he doesn’t find another one that suits his fancy. The blonde woman and the red-haired woman seem equally confused, especially as the other two gasp.

“B-but why?” The woman in gray asks, face awash with horror.

“I already explained my dear!” He lays an arm around my shoulders and forces me against his chest, fingers holding another croquette. “My delicate little dame, refused to break in her refusal of me, so I had to use more forceful means to obtain her!” He brings the croquette to my lips again, and I eat it, a tear rolling down my cheek. He thankfully, lets go of me and I shift my body weight to bring myself as far away as I can, while still confined to the chair.

“I-I see…” The woman in maroon stutters slightly, a break in her refined demeanor, as she hurriedly takes a sip of her tea.

“What does that mean Alastor? I have never heard of that ritual?” The bubbly blonde seems unaffected by the change in atmosphere, and I sigh in aggravation.

“It means that me and my darling are soul bound for eternity!” He grabs at my shoulders again, as I was unable to move away far enough. “Not even Lucifer himself can sever it!” His voice is triumphant, and the blonde gasps, seeming to understand the gravity of the situation. Rosie seems to understand that this little event should come to a close, and she suddenly stands.

“It seems that it has grown late, my friends.” Alastor stands as well, and I flinch as he sets a hand on my shoulder from above. “We should really be getting back to the estate! Wouldn’t want my darling to get too overwhelmed!” He pinches at my cheek under the veil. The ladies seem to understand that they shouldn’t question further, and they all say their goodbyes. He grabs the back of my chair, and begins to wheel me out, exchanging a few more pleasantries, while I pull out my embroidery. My hands are a little shaky, but I start in, nonetheless. As we exit the emporium, I can see that it has grown much darker, and there is a chill in the air, signaling the approach of winter. My arms begin to shiver slightly as he wheels me toward the estate.

“Have you no shame?” My biting voice rings out, addressing my tormentor, who simply chuckles.

“No, my dear, I do not. In fact, I am quite proud of myself, if I must say!” He snaps his fingers, producing a soft red flannel blanket. He drapes it over my shoulders, and circles around to adjust it. His eyes bore into mine, and I shy away. “After all, I have managed to obtain such an adorable little dame for my own.” After adjusting the blanket, he lifts my veil to gaze over my face, the scent of blood hits me. His face approaches and I tense up as he places a gentle kiss on my forehead. Seemingly satisfied, he pulls the veil back down, and continues to wheel me forwards. I huddle into the blanket, the comfortable warmth does nothing to ease my agony.

We reach the estate and enter back through the front gates. The sight of the building at night is much more familiar too me from me failed escape. My mind races, trying to think of where I could have erred.

“How did you find me when I escaped…” My voice comes out as a whisper, but I know he can hear it. He laughs softly and runs his fingers over my shoulder.

“It was quite difficult, dear. You are very good at sneaking; however, you made a mistake in returning to the hotel.” f*ck, I didn’t even think about that! “I had a few shadows staked out there assuming you would try to return to a familiar place.” The radio frequencies start to wobble threateningly. “However, if you hadn’t done that, it would have taken much longer to track you down. There was not a single shred of evidence that I could locate. I would have resorted to another broadcast.” A chill runs down my spine as I realize what that means. He seems to cheer up as we enter through the front doors, and I am wheeled through the halls. My stomach drops as we arrive in front of the familiar door, and as he opens it, I am met with my luxurious prison, yet again.

“Now, my dear! I believe that it is time for you to head to bed!” He closes the door behind him and transfers me to the vanity. “I assume you will need assistance in changing again, darling?” I frown and rip the veil from my head, chucking it across the room. It clatters against the wall, falling to the floor, the circlet slightly dented. He raises an eyebrow and picks it up off the ground.

“I hate you so much!” I shriek, my blood boiling, as I rip off the necklace, breaking the clasp. I throw that at him, and he catches it with ease.

“I know, sweetheart.” He places the dented circlet in the drawer of veils and sets the broken necklace on top of the vanity. “Let me take your hair down.” He begins to remove the pins from my hair as I fume. Whenever I try to speed it along by pulling pins out myself, he pushes my hands down. I pull off the bracelet and throw it onto the vanity, it clatters harshly, and I pull off the earrings giving them the same treatment. Eventually my tresses are freed from the intricate updo, and I can see him grab a comb inlaid with pearl, from the vanity. I try to take it from him, but he refuses to hand it over. Instead, he combs out my hair gently.

“I can do that, you creep.” I mutter, and he chuckles in response, not saying a word. He finishes combing my hair and leans down next to my ear, making eye- contact through the mirror. I can feel the tickling of his hair against my cheek, and the violent arch of his sharp smile unsettles me.

“Now, sweetheart. Are you done throwing your little tantrum? If you aren’t I am more than willing to assist you in undressing without my eyes closed...” My body freezes, as he softly strokes my hair. When he sees my lack of movement he continues. “Good choice, darling.” He stands again and ambles over to the closet, selecting a nightdress from the wide variety. My heart is pounding in my chest, but I remain still. “Would you prefer black or white, my dear?” He seems torn between two choices, and he holds them up in front of him. They seem identical in every way, save the color. My eyes trace over the two short, lacy gowns and I feel nothing but disgust.

“White.” I mutter, realizing he won’t let me avoid the question. His grin grows as he puts the other one back in the closet and he places the chosen gown on the bed. He kneels in front of me and removes my shoes first. However, when he begins to pull off the stockings, he moves much slower, much to my horror. I can feel the brush of his fingers along my calves, and his touch lingers over my bandaged ankles. My eyes widen as I detect a hint of sadism in his eyes. No… He wouldn’t…Would he? My fears are proved right as he gently wraps a hand around my left ankle, looking up into my horrified face. He begins to slowly apply pressure, causing my features to distort in agony. A cold sweat breaks out across my body, and my breathing speeds up. The muscles keeping me upright in the chair give out, and I collapse against the back of it, writhing. Suddenly, he stops, and a dull ache is left as he removes his hand and finishes pulling off the stockings. I can feel his lips brush against my ankle, but I am too out-of-it to care. He repeats the process with the other leg, and I can see black spots cloud my vision. As he finishes, he stands again, bending at the waist over me.

“There we go, darling! I must say that your gams are quite lovely!” He circles around to my back and unzips the back of the dress, while I react in indignance, this bastard is pretending like he didn’t just torture me! “Now, I shall close my eyes, feel free to request my assistance, dear.” He takes a step back and I can see his eyes are indeed closed. Weakly I pull the dress up over my head, and it falls to the floor. I unclasp the brazier and it follows. I make a small noise indicating I am done, and he hands me the nightgown. I slip it over my head and the smooth fabric falls easily around my hips. I decide to force it over my hips this time, without his help, by shifting my weight back and forth. Eventually, I have it fully down and I can feel a small burst of victory.

“I’m done.” He raises an eyebrow and opens his eyes, seeing that I am, indeed done.

“You didn’t need any assistance this time?” I shake my head.

“Of course not, and I don’t think I will again. I have figured out how to do it on my own.” A displeased look crosses his eyes briefly, but it passes, and he approaches the pile of discarded clothing. He lifts it up and snaps his fingers, sending them away. He’d better just f*cking wash them… Ugh, I don’t want to think about that…

“I see, good for you, darling.” He snaps his fingers again, and the bedding begins to change itself, switching to a crimson-colored sheet set. He lifts me up and carries me to the restroom, where I brush my teeth in a similar manner to lunch time, and he watches over me like a hawk. When I am finished and have rinsed out my mouth he leaves the room briefly, and returns to lift me up again, and I cringe at his touch. When he takes me over to the bed I can see he has pulled the blankets aside completely. He lays me in the dead center of the bed, instead of the usual side. Why is he changing where I lay? It doesn’t really matter… He pulls the covers over me, in a deceptively gentle way. His eyes scan over me, and he rests a hand on the side of the bed, too far away to touch me. I guess that is a plus to being in the center. “Now, my dear. It’s lights out for tonight! Sleep well!” He snaps and the lights switch off and I am bathed in the pitch-black darkness once more. His glowing eyes make their way to the door, and I can hear it open and close behind him.

The sound of the lock is followed by dead silence. This day felt like a thousand years… I am so sick of his bullsh*t! I still can’t believe he f*cking maimed me… will they heal correctly? He keeps poking and prodding them. If I manage to escape, will I be crippled forever? My mood spirals downwards as I think of the very real possibility that I could be permanently handicapped, and I can feel a few tears roll down my face. I eventually nod off into a nightmare filled sleep, my ankles throbbing.

Chapter 31: A Preventative Deal

Notes:

Trigger warning, attempted sexual assault, panic attack

Chapter Text

My consciousness returns slightly, and I can feel a crushing weight on my entire body. What the hell? My eyes flutter open, to be met with red. I immediately feel adrenaline rush through my veins, and I try to move, to no avail. The glow of his eyes light up the rest of their face faintly, and I can make out a line of jagged smiling teeth. I can now tell that he is using his entire body to pin me down, his hands are gripping my arms tightly. The blankets are nowhere to be found, and I can feel the fabric of his clothing against my skin. I struggle harder, but he doesn’t relent, and his breathing is ragged.

“W-what the hell are you doing!” I shout, and I can feel him move a hand from my arm, and onto my face, sharp claws causing my hair to stand on end.

“Darling, you drive me absolutely wild…” He brushes my cheek, and I can see a deep blush cross his features.

“Get off of me!” I try to push him with my now free arm, but he doesn’t budge.

“No, I will not, do you even know what you do to me when you make such pleading eyes, my dear…” His hand trails down from my face to my neck, and then over my bare shoulder.

“W-what are you d-doing…” My voice has faded to a whisper, as I tremble violently. His hand trails further, drifting onto the fabric covering my stomach.

“What do you think, darling…” His breath is practically a pant at this point, as his hand reaches the hem of my gown.

“S-stop!” I try to buck him off, but my legs can’t seem to move with his weight.

“Why should I stop, I believe it is perfectly acceptable for a couple to get,” His hand slips under the gown and grabs my thigh, “intimate.” His voice comes out as a hiss and my panic increases.

“N-no, stop!” The hand trails up the dress to rest on my bare stomach, I can feel a droplet of something land on my face. When I look, I can see that a small trickle of blood has escaped his nose. His eyes are drenched in predatory intentions. As the hand strokes my stomach, my panic mounts and I am forced to go for my last resort. “I-I’ll make a deal with you! Just stop!” My voice is shrill, and I can feel his muscles tense, hand frozen along the top band of my underwear.

“Darling, if you want me to stop, I want you to beg for it…” He leans in a bit closer, fingers stroking my stomach. My stomach twists, but I need to comply.

“Please! Please let me m-make a deal w-with you, Alastor! Please!” He lets out a small hiss from between his teeth, as if holding back.

“What kind of deal, darling…” His voice is hoarse, and I realize that there are no radio sounds in the room, the distortion is gone from his voice, but I can see a sliver of reason in his red eyes.

“I-I don’t want to… I don’t want you to do what you are t-trying to … you can ask for w-whatever you want for your terms!” My voice stumbles, but I get the message across, my eyes pleading.

“I need you to say it, darling. Tell me what you don’t want to do, or else I might misinterpret your request…” His clawed fingertips slip under the band and my panicked voice rings out again.

“I don’t want to e-engage in i-intercourse with you! Ever!” My face is bright red at having to say such a disgusting word, and his face blushes heavily as well.

“Do you realize what you are asking, sweetheart?” He purrs. “If I can’t be intimate with you in this way,” He tugs gently at the waistband, causing my stomach to sink. “Then I will need to find alternative ways to take out my…desires…” His panting breath sends the scent of blood into my face.

“W-whatever! I-I just don’t want you to do this!” I try to pull his hand away with my free one, but he is firm. Tears begin to well in my eyes. His face gets closer, foreheads touching.

“Do you understand what I mean…darling…” I shake my head violently, and he continues. “I am willing to make this deal with you… but realize that if I can’t experience you carnally,” Another tug, and a few tears escape my eyes. “Then I will not hesitate to do anything else I wish to do with you…” My eyes widen. “I won’t prevent you from resisting, because that is half the fun, darling, but be aware that I am quite a creative man… do you understand?” I nod quickly, willing to do anything to escape this moment. “Good girl,” He places a soft kiss on my tightly closed lips. “Now, let’s discuss the terms of this little deal…” I can tell he is struggling to stay in control of himself. “I will not engage in intercourse with you, with two exceptions…” My heart sinks, but I let him continue. “We will consummate our marriage, with or without your consent… and if you consent, with or without coercion, intercourse will be permitted.” My eyes are wide and cold sweat pours down my back. “If you refuse, darling…” He tugs again, shifting downwards this time, revealing a small amount of my hip. “Then I will make sure you feel me every day for the rest of our lives…” My breath quickens to hyperventilation as he continues. “As for my terms…” He pauses for a long time, breathing heavily and my fear mounts. He finally seems to think of something, and the grin grows. “Every time I ask you ‘who do you belong too’ you must respond ‘I belong to you, Alastor’.” My fists clench. “Do you understand.” I nod, horrified. “My second term,” His eyes trace over my lips, “is you must initiate a kiss to seal the deal…” My stomach churns, but he continues to speak. “As for the fine print, darling, I will state it outright, seeing as I doubt you will refuse. Intercourse will only be defined as penetration of any kind… everything else is fair game. This,” His gaze scans over the current position. “Is fair game. Even this,” He suddenly forces his mouth to mine, using his hand to force my jaw open, sliding his tongue in. He kisses me intensely until I can barely breath, before finally breaking away, the taste of stale blood overwhelming me. “Is fair game. Do you understand?” I nod weakly, wiping my mouth off with my free hand. “Now, darling… do you accept this deal?” His panting has gotten much more frantic, and I can feel him trembling.

“Y-yes…” I turn my head away unable to look at him. I can hear an impatient noise from his throat.

“You’d better hurry and s-seal the deal, dear… My willpower is wearing thin…” His fingers pull downwards again. I force myself up and with a feeling of disgust and hesitation, I shakingly place a peck on his lips. He grabs the back of my head before I can pull away and extends the kiss as a green glow overtakes the room. Burning fills my veins as the deal takes hold, but he prevents me from losing consciousness with a snap of his fingers. He breaks away from the kiss, panting heavily.

“Now, darling, who do you belong to?”

“I-I belong t-to you, Alastor…” My voice is quiet and tinged with despair, but it causes a chill to run along his form.

“That’s right, sweetheart… You do belong to me…” He snaps his fingers, and I can feel a cold dread coiling in my gut, when I can see what is in his hand. A scalpel. He sees my look and chuckles hoarsely, the sound reverberating through my body. “I warned you that I would need to take out my desires in a different way, darling, feel free to whimper, it is so invigorating when you do…” The blush deepens on his corpse gray face, his grin revealing black gums. He brings the scalpel to my chest as I stare in abject horror, trying to prevent myself from making a noise. He gently positions the blade at the top of my shoulder, pausing, before pressing down. I bite my tongue, preventing the whimper building in my throat. Red blood wells in the wound immediately and begins to drip down my shoulder, following the curve of my upper arm. His eyes track it as he begins to drag the scalpel across my chest, along my collarbone, cleanly slicing the strap of the nightgown. The thin line of red grows, welling with blood the whole way. I manage to remain silent, but when he lowers his mouth to the wound and begins to lap up the blood, the whimper escapes my lips. I scold myself, as I can feel a tremor run through him at the sound. He continues to lap up the blood, until the bleeding slows, and his motions are stiff.

“Now, for the fun part, sweetheart…” My heart is pounding against my chest as he eases his weight off me, and I try to scramble backwards, pulling down the hem of my nightgown and fixing my underwear. He stops my retreat by sitting on my lower thighs and knees, and I can feel them screaming from the weight. My ankles are throbbing from the harsh movements of my failed retreat and his lascivious gaze burns me as he looks over me. He grabs both of my wrists and restrains them above my head with a single large hand, as I try to pull them free. My eyes are glued to his every movement, as he places the scalpel down on the mattress. With his now free hand, he slowly pushes up the hem of my nightgown to just under my bust, revealing the bare flesh of my pale stomach and thighs, as well as my navy-blue underwear. His eyes trace along the curve of my waist and I begin to struggle violently, no longer caring about injuring myself. His free hand brushes against my stomach causing me to flinch intensely, the muscles tensing.

“You are so underfed darling… I really need to remedy that....” My ribs are visible through the skin, and he traces along them to accentuate his point. He shifts, tracing a design over the bare flesh, trailing from the top of my hips, to just below where the nightgown now sits. “You are truly ravishing… I already regret making that deal…” His breathing roughens, before he forces himself to calm down. He grabs the scalpel once more, and I tense up, no longer wildly thrashing. He brings the scalpel to just above my waistband, and gently begins to press down. The sharp blade slices through my skin like paper, and I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. He does not cut deeply, merely grazing along the skin, just deep enough to bleed. He slowly traces the line of my hip, up to the bottom of my ribcage, leaving a thin red line welling with blood. My breath catches as he draws away the blade and sets it down beside him. He lets go of my wrists and I attempt to pull the gown down, but he is faster, grabbing me by the waist and brings his mouth to my bleeding stomach. My hands find the top of his head and I try to move him away, as I can feel the disgusting sensation of his tongue run along the cut, causing me to writhe in disgust. I can see that his eyes are looking up at my face as he laps up the blood, and I keep trying to shift away. The sensation almost tickles as he runs along the curve of my waist, his sharp teeth grazing lightly against my skin. As I try to push his head away, I scratch my palms against his antlers, but he doesn’t relent.

After what feels like forever, the shallow cut stops producing blood, and he sits back up, licking his lips. My hands are finally able to pull the gown back down, staring in horror at his red stained teeth as I hold my hand over where the wound is. Bloody saliva soaks into the cotton of the gown along the line. His eyes are half-lidded in pleasure, and my tears begin to flow silently.

“You are a delicious little thing, darling…” He covers his face with one of his large hands, seemingly struggling. “I need more… I can’t stop…” His voice is strained, and with a shaking hand he grabs for my wrists, and I manage to stick them underneath myself, away from his grasping. He raises a shaky hand to my face, and I still can’t see his face, when he speaks in a low tone. “Who do you belong to, darling?” He shifts his fingers, looking through them and I can see his eyes thick with desire.

“I-I belong to y-you, Alastor…” I whisper, disgusted. Shudders run through him as he covers his eyes once more. Suddenly he lunges forward, body pinning me once more, my hands now unable to move from underneath me. His face nestles into the crook of my neck, and I am horrified to feel his tongue run along the side of jugular, without the pretense of a wound, followed by a deep kiss. He continues to kiss along my neck, moving downwards, towards my collarbone. The intense kisses suddenly turn painful as he bites down hard on the flesh of my shoulder. I can’t prevent myself from shrieking in painful surprise. He only just avoided any arteries, but blood begins to pour out of the wound, around his mouth. My white nightgown is drenched in sweat and rusty blood, as I writhe under the assault on my shoulder. He detaches from the bite wound and I can feel my head spinning when I look down at the red raw flesh bleeding violently. Bringing his face up to mine, I can feel drops of my blood landing on me, leaving red streaks as they run off my face.

“I hope that was as pleasurable for you as it was for me, darling… It was truly an enlightening experience…” He pants directly in my face and lowers his lips onto mine, the taste of my own blood filling my mouth, causing me to gag. His tongue breeches my teeth and probes around when he suddenly reels backwards. “I-I have had a capital idea!” He suddenly shouts, startling me out of my misery, his motions are erratic, and a new streak of dread shoots through me. “If I can’t be inside of you in the traditional manner…” I pull back into the pillows trying to create space between me and him, despite my pinned state. “I will just need to improvise…” He begins to unbutton his suit jacket hastily, and my eyes widen.

“Y-you can’t… t-the deal!” My hoarse voice screams out, my stomach churning from a medley of disgust, fear, and anticipation.

“No need to fret, my dear…” He runs a finger along my shoulder, before resuming, stiff fingers fumbling with some of the buttons. “I will… uphold your terms… No, I have a simply splendid idea to bring us closer together…” He pulls the suit jacket off violently, throwing it to the side, where it falls limply from the mattress. He rolls up the sleeve of his crimson undershirt, ripping it in multiple places from force and the tips of his claws. It reveals his corpse gray forearms that fade into the black of his hands. My mind is racing, trying to decipher what he means, when he lifts the scalpel to his own wrist, and roughly makes a deep gash. Blood pours out onto my white nightgown, mixing with my own. He brings his wrist to my mouth, I turn my head to the side, trying to avoid the crimson liquid.

“You will drink, sweetheart, I will make you if you don’t do it willingly…” He pushes the bleeding wound against my cheek, rubbing in the blood. His other hand is firmly grasping over his mouth.

“No! That’s disgusting!” I force my head away blood trickling down my cheek, panic clouding my mind. He grunts, before gripping my chin and forcing open my jaw with the non-bleeding hand. He forces his wrist into my open mouth and the bitter metallic taste fills my mouth. He continues to push downwards, preventing my head from moving in any direction, as the veritable waterfall of blood pours down my throat. I am forced to swallow the blood to prevent myself from aspirating it, and my stomach twists from the unwelcome substance. His face looms over mine, making eye-contact as his eyes briefly turn to dials. The sound of creaking and snapping is heard as his antlers begin to grow outwards.

Suddenly, he wrenches his wrist out of my mouth, reeling backwards, and snaps his fingers appearing next to the chest of drawers. As I devolve into a coughing fit, wiping my face wildly, he rips open the third drawer without unlocking it, ripping the wood around the lock. I scramble against the headboard, a hand over my churning stomach, gagging at the taste of blood. He forcefully rips a syringe out of the package and fills it with the sedative, flickering back and forth between forms. He summons shadows, which immediately restrain me not allowing an inch of movement, crook of my arm out. He strides over to me, and roughly finds a vein, before immediately jabbing the needle in and pushing down the plunger quickly. Pain jolts up my arm from the rough injection, but my head begins to spin. He disappears instantly, as I fall over and drag myself across the bed, covered in saliva, sweat, tears, and both of our blood. My nightgown is practically in tatters from the forceful manhandling with clawed hands. As I lose consciousness, I weakly let out a shuddering gasp.

…………

My consciousness rapidly returns, and I shoot up before I even open my eyes. I need to get away! Frantically I scramble backwards, my arms held out defensively towards an unseen enemy. W-where is he! My eyes open and I can see Alastor sitting at the bedside, I don’t even take in his demeanor. No! I don’t want to!

“No!” I begin to hyperventilate and shake violently, rocking back and forth, limbs tangled in the covers. My hands violently wipe at my mouth, trying to remove blood that is no longer there. Chills run through my body, and I feel like I have been left in the arctic. My ankles scream at the sudden movements and being trapped in the covers, twisting awkwardly.

“Darling, it’s over-“ He tries to hold out a hand, but I just screech and reel backwards, hitting my head on the headboard, to hysterical to care.

“D-don’t come n-near me!” I shriek, my voice cracking. My wild backwards movements bring me dangerously close to the opposite edge of the bed. He stands suddenly, trying to stop me from falling off, but that just accelerates it. The sudden movement causes me to fall off the bed in fear. As I hit the floor, I can barely feel the pain and I scramble to drag myself under the bed. I drag the covers still wound around my legs under the bed too inadvertently.

“Calm down, darling, you are coming out of sedation again.” His voice is soft, trying to pull me out of my hysteria. I shudder, my blood feeling like ice, and my head pounding as I huddle into a ball under the bed. I flinch when I hear him rise from the chair and walk around the bed. “Dear, you need to come out from under there. You are feeling the side effects from the sedation, and you need assistance.” His clicking feet stop where the blankets are half-way under the bed. I watch in terror, as he kneels and his face appears, eyes locating my huddled form. My uncontrollable shivering increases and my teeth begin to chatter from the frigid feeling in my body. “Sweetheart, you will only make yourself worse if you don’t come out. I promise that it is over, dear.” He tries to coax me out, but I don’t move to leave the perceived safety of my position. “I don’t want to have to pull you out from under there, but I will, darling. You need my help.”

“No! I don’t want to drink your blood! Y-you’re vile!” He sighs and mutters to himself.

“I guess the disorientation is a little much directly after such affections…” Grabbing the blankets that are entwined with my legs he starts to pull, dragging me by the legs, wildly trying to free myself. “This will be uncomfortable, dear, just bear with it.” As I am pulled to the exit, he grabs my calf, carefully avoiding my ankle, and tries to pull me out the rest of the way. I flail wildly, grabbing the underside of the bed, trying to keep myself under it. My grip is tight on the wooden plank, and as he pulls, I can feel the bed shift. “Let go, dear, you are only making this more difficult for yourself.” He pulls again, harder, and my grip slips, and I can feel a splinter lodge itself in my palm. He manages to get me completely out from under the bed, and he snaps his fingers, getting shadows to restrain my limbs. “Alright, dear, I need to unwind the blankets from your legs. You have gotten them mighty tangled, just bear with me, darling.” He begins to unwind the blankets from my legs as I panic. Eventually he separates them from my legs, and I recoil them to my body.

“D-don’t” My voice is much weaker, as some of the adrenaline subsides, and I can feel the extent of my injuries. My head is pounding, and I have a sore spot from where I hit it on the headboard. My body is wracked in chills, my teeth chattering, and I have a splinter in my hand. The worst pain, however, emanates from my ankles.

“Darling, I am going to lift you up onto the bed.” He has his shadows release me, and I am in too much pain to continue flailing. He slips his hands under me and lifts me easily, placing me gently on the bed. I can feel the bandages on my ankles begin to soak through, and he notices as well. “It seems you have ripped your stitches. I will deal with that after you calm down, darling.” He sits me up, and snaps, summoning a new comforter, which he wraps around my shivering form. I grab the blanket and tightly grip it to myself, and he wraps another one over top, before standing and retrieving the headache medication. He pulls out four pills and sets them on the side table, alongside a glass of water. “Feel free to take these when you calm down a little. They are only for your headache, I promise.” I huddle down further into the blankets, I huddle down further into the blankets, and I begin to feel my ankles full force, taking away the pain from my smaller injuries. He is sitting on the chair at my bedside again, and I am watching his every move with owlish eyes. “I swear, my dear, you are going to stare a hole right through me!” He jokes, playing a laugh track, but I don’t respond and continue to stare.

The panic begins to subside, replaced by hyperawareness of his movements. I slowly slide a hand out of the covers, reaching for the pills, never taking my eyes off of him. When I feel them under my hand, I snatch them up and return my arm to the safety of the covers. I can feel them shifting around in my palm, under the covers, and I set them on my knee. My arm snakes out once more, reaching for the water glass, my intense stare unflinchingly glued on his movements. As I feel it, I grip the glass and pull it under the covers a little slower.

“Is that really necessary, darling?” He seems amused at my strange movements, and I do not acknowledge his words. I grab the glass with one hand and the pills in the other, adjusting them perfectly under the blanket. Slowly I bring the hand with the pills to my mouth and take them. I swallow the pills dry, before hiding my hand again and bringing the glass up to my lips. I sip it, carefully tipping the glass instead of my head, to prevent me losing sight of the enemy. “You seem to be quite on guard, darling. I must admit it is quite entertaining!” He rests his chin in his hand, elbow propped on the bed. We merely stare at each other until the shivering subsides, and my headache dies down. I am no longer disoriented, understanding exactly what happened up until my memory cuts off. I assume he sedated me soon after forcing me to drink his f*cking blood… I am glad I don’t remember why. As my mind becomes clearer, I realize a few things that escaped me in my hysteria. The hair in my face faintly smells of roses, and I am not covered in blood or anything else. In fact, I am perfectly clean. Almost freshly bathed… The last shampoo was lavender… Did- did he bathe me when I was unconscious! Suddenly I look down and I can see that I am indeed in a different nightgown, and I feel even more violated. My wariness is doubled at this new revelation when he shifts in his chair.

“It seems you are in possession of your faculties again, darling!” He stands up, my eyes following his movements, as he ambles closer to where I am on the bed. “You have ripped your stitches, dear, I will need to suture your wounds again. I am also sure you have sustained a few more minor injuries in your panic, would you mind detailing them, darling?” He leans over me.
“D-did you bathe me when I was u-unconscious.” My voice is cold and angry as I glare at him.

“Why yes, I did, darling. You were in quite a state, and I knew you would not be willing to bathe after you came to.” He seems entirely unrepentant, as if it was a perfectly fine thing to do. My heart sinks, but he continues. “Do not fret, my dear! I am bound by our deal, remember. Your chastity is still intact, darling. We are not yet wed after all!” My downtrodden face morphs into anger at his flagrant taunting. “Now, why don’t you answer my question, dear. What are your other injuries.” His voice has an edge, and his eyes are narrowed. I shift uncomfortably, my body aching.

“I h-hit my head on the headboard, and I think it left a m-mark. I got a s-splinter in my hand from the bed. I also think I b-bruised my hip, and sprained my wrist… when I hit the ground…” He holds a hand to his chin, co*cking his head with a snap.

“You really did a number on yourself, darling! I guess that’s what I get for sedating you during our little… session.” He seems at a loss for what to call it, but weakly decides on a word. My stomach twists in dread, disgust rolling over me. “I do apologize, dear, I did not intend to get so carried away so soon… I had hoped to slowly get you accustomed to my advances, but I…” He clears his throat awkwardly “…lost control.” I glare at him with all my might. “I am sure it was quite distressing for one so innocent as you to feel the full force of my affections, but it wasn’t a total loss for you, darling! You managed to get me to agree to a deal, that I never planned on making…” He seems lost in thought as he says that, but I feel a rush of victorious relief that doesn’t dismiss the feeling of violation. “Why I barely even asked for anything in return! I cannot believe I agreed to such a poor deal!” He seems genuinely upset at himself but smooths it over quickly changing the subject.

“However, dear, we should treat your little bumps and scrapes, as well as get your ankles sutured back up!” He strides over to the chest of drawers, I notice that the wood of the third drawer is warped and torn, the lock completely destroyed. What the hell happened to it… He gingerly opens the heavily damaged drawer and pulls out the suturing kit, and I spot the still bloody scalpel haphazardly thrown into the otherwise neat layout. My flesh crawls, and I shudder at the memory of his so-called ‘affections’. The only reason I can handle the memory, is because of the deal… I can’t believe I got him to agree to it! I guess his reason was…clouded… My heart drops again, when I recall the caveat and I can feel my stomach turning. I have to sleep with him once… There is no way I can do that! He is disgusting! My face falls, and he seems completely set up for the impromptu first aid.

“Darling, I am ready to treat you. I will need to position you a bit differently.” He stands and approaches my form, still huddled in blankets. I acquiesce and let him pick me up, crossing my arms bitterly. He lays me on the bed horizontally, and flips me onto my stomach, my ankles to the ceiling. The bandages have completely soaked through at this point, and I can feel the burning and throbbing of the aggravated wounds. He begins to unwrap the first one and I hiss through my teeth as the sticky gauze is gently pulled away.

“Hmm, you definitely ripped the stitches, darling. Quite badly too…” He gently runs a damp cloth over the surrounding area, wiping away the blood before he picks up the suturing equipment. “This will hurt, my dear. Prepare yourself.” I grip the blankets and grit my teeth in preparation, as he begins to remove the torn sutures. My knuckles turn white at the off-putting sensation, paired with the pain of the threads being pulled free. He eventually finishes removing them all, before he warns me again. “I am going to begin your stitches, dear.” He immediately starts the first stitch, and I hiss through my teeth. They go well, and I can hear him uncork a bottle of alcohol, so I prepare myself for the oncoming burning. “I will disinfect them properly this time, darling! I have learned my lesson, I promise!” He pours the liquid over my ankle, and I whimper in pain. I can hear his breath hitch, and I chastise myself, but he doesn’t mention it. He finishes disinfecting the wound, and wraps it gently in gauze, followed by the bandages. He repeats the process with the other side, before helping me sit up.
“Now, darling, give me your hand.” He waits expectantly, as I haltingly hold out my palm. He gingerly cups the bottom of it and adjusts his monocle, searching for the splinter. It is rather obvious where it is, due to the wood being a much darker color than my skin, and the splinter being quite large. “Alright, sweetheart, this will sting.” He snaps, summoning a pair of tweezers, before gently pulling the splinter out. This type of pain is nothing at this point… I frown, as he places a gentle kiss on my palm. “There you go! Now, I need to inspect your head, darling.” I turn my head, and he lifts a hand, feeling around underneath my hair, the smell of roses gets stronger. “It does not appear to be bad enough to warrant any kind of care, dear.” He shifts in closer, his hand trailing through my hair. “But I must say that I quite like this scent on you…” He twirls a bit of my hair in his fingers, as I glare daggers at him. He lingers, but finally let’s go, standing from the chair. “Now then, I believe that it is time for your breakfast!” My eyes shoot open.

“What time is it? How long did you sedate me this time, you monster…” His grin grows, and he bends at the waist, pinching my cheek gently.

“Why, you were out for seven hours dear!” I sigh, but he continues. “You were…sedated, at midnight, and it is currently seven thirty!” His face is bright, but my mood sours.

“What the hell were you doing for that whole time! The last time was only three hours… I don’t even remember you sedating me this time…” He holds a hand to his chin, debating what to tell me.

“Well, darling, I must admit that it is quite embarrassing that I had to sedate you in the first place… It was not planned. I… lost control and needed to vacate the premises to… let off some steam.” Oh… He almost… did that to me…. And then f*cking massacred people… “That took most of the time, but I also needed to…tidy things up.” I hug my arms to my chest, as I can feel my heart aching. “Darling,” He sits beside me, as I dejectedly stare at the floor. “There is no need to feel so depressed.” He brushes my hair out of my face, and places an arm around my shoulders, pulling me to his chest.

“Y-you w-were going to… I-I can’t… Y-you v-violated me…” My voice is weak, and I can feel tears springing up in my eyes. He strokes my hair in a comforting manner, but the action feels like a fresh insult to me.

“Darling, I have already apologized for startling you, I truly did not intend to make advances on you so early. However, I must protest, I did not violate you, as you say. I agreed to your deal after all.” My shoulders begin to shake as the tears flow.

“Yes, you did. What you did was v-violating… Y-you l-looked at me…” He continues to stroke my hair in silence for a minute before responding.

“It seems that we have different definitions of violation. However, you are just going to have to grin and bear it, darling. I know you are a delicate little thing, but I will not stop myself from indulging in whatever I desire. Who do you belong too, sweetheart?” My tears roll down my cheeks and my heart drops.

“I-I belong to you, Alastor… You’re a monster…” I can feel him place a tender kiss on the top of my head.

“Yes, you do belong to me, and I am already aware I am a monster, sweetheart. It seems that we must both get accustomed to a few things.” He lifts my face up to look him in the eye, my cheeks streaked with tear-tracks. He wipes a few tears away with a finger, before bringing it to his mouth. I shudder as he licks my tears from his clawed finger. “I must get accustomed to holding back around you, my dear… It is so difficult to restrain myself when you are so… enticing.” His eyes are half lidded and I feel a stab of fear through me. “However, I cannot possibly keep terrorizing you every minute of every day! That would be ungentlemanly of me! I must be able to hold back when we are in public… Why, I almost showered you in my affections right at the tea-table!” My shoulders tremble, and he places my face against his chest once more, stroking my hair. “As for you, my dear… You need to get used to being the center of my attention. It seems you dislike being pampered, you dislike being loved, you dislike being touched, you dislike even being looked at! Why, is there anything you like other than your books and your embroidery?” He scoffs. “As much as it pains you, darling, you belong to me,” He pauses. “But I also belong to you. I couldn’t possibly separate myself from you without going mad!” It’s my turn to scoff and I shift my head, breaking out of the disgustingly gentle embrace.

“You are already mad. How could I possibly get used to being tortured by you day in and day out! It has only been one full day and yet I feel like I have been here for years…” My face falls, and he brushes hair out of my face, clawed fingertips threatening my cheeks. “You f*cking crippled me,” I grab at my calf, just above the ankle, “and then expect me to forgive you! I can never forgive what you’ve done to me…” I drop my face into my hands, and I can feel him lean in, bloody breath wafting over me. He places a clawed hand on my back tenderly and grabs my wrist with the other.

“Darling, I don’t expect you to forgive me,” He slowly but firmly pulls my hand away from my face, rubbing my back. “I don’t even expect you to like me, let alone love me.” He rests his forehead against mine. “The only thing I want from you, is you yourself. It would be much easier if you just grit your teeth and accept that you are mine, and you will be mine for the rest of eternity.” His hand moves up from my back, to run through my hair. “I will shower you in my affections, and I will comfort you afterwards. I will be rough, and I will be violent, it is in my nature. But I can also be gentle with you, I can pamper you and I can give you anything you could ever want. All you need to do is accept that this is your fate, my delicate little Eleanor.” He gently places a kiss on my forehead, before pulling away. My tears have begun to stream freely down my face again, and he wipes them away with his thumbs. “Now, darling. I need to prepare your breakfast. Is there anything you want in particular?” My appetite is nonexistent, and I just shake my head softly, face down. “Alright, I will make you something nice, you need to gain some weight dear! Why you are almost skinnier than me!” He plays a laugh track and suddenly squeezes my waist, startling me. Before I react, he gets up off the bed and strides over to the door. I can hear the lock click and I let myself fall to the bed tears streaming freely.

…………

Alastor exits the room and locks the door behind himself, straightening his suit jacket and adjusting his monocle. He folds his arms behind his back and the clicking of his footsteps resounds through the halls, accompanied by a jazzy tune. My darling is such a delicate creature. Who could have thought she would react so poorly! Why I didn’t even lie with the dame, as much as I wanted to… It was merely a bit of suggestive fun! He nervously adjusts his hair, his smile twitching. Her reactions are so enthralling… She truly drives me wild! Even her teary face feels like an invitation to dominate her further! As he passes by Selena’s door, he is caught off guard a little when it swings open. Oh, I almost forgot about this loathsome sinner. Selena stands in the door, glaring at him.

“Why, good morning, my dear!” He summons the microphone, placing it in the crook of his elbow, before bending at the waist to look her in the eye. Selena shuffles back slightly, still glaring. It seems she is quite up in arms about something! How entertaining!

“What did you do this time… I feel like I can always hear screaming from her room…” She cringes away as Alastor, strides into her room. He begins to look around, examining anything he pleases. Ah… I really must invest in soundproofing that room. I wouldn’t want my darling’s privacy intruded upon…

“I don’t see how it is any of your business what me and my fiancée do in our spare time, dear.” He lifts an MP3 player from off of Selena’s bed and twists it in his hand. “What might this be, my dear?” He holds it up to his face, theatrically examining it. Selena stomps over and tries to snatch it out of his hand, but he is too tall for her to reach. It seems that this is important to the dame!

“Give that back! And it is my business! Eleanor is my friend, and I can’t do anything but listen to you torture her!” Alastor raises an eyebrow, still keeping the MP3 away from Selena’s grasping hands. She is your friend? I am not sure that I like that, you seem to be clinging to what does not belong to you…

“Answer my question, dear, and I might grace you with an answer!” He pushes her forehead away, keeping her at arm’s length. She huffs in frustration.

“It’s an MP3 player, there, are you happy! Now what were you doing!” She crosses her arms, giving up on trying to grab it. He co*cks his head with a snap, before tossing it back on her bed, causing her to lunge for it. She cradles it to her chest protectively, causing him to become curious. Hmm, a curious reaction, I wonder what is in that little device for her to be so protective… I guess I could give her a little information, it would surely be entertaining to see her reaction!

“Hmm, I was merely calming my sweetheart down! She reacts quite poorly to the sedative, and she had a rough night.” Selena’s face pales and she shakes slightly. Boring, I expected outrage, this is a pitiful display. Do you even care about my darling at all? He dismisses her obvious distress. “However, I wish to hear more about that little device! What does it do, dear? And where did you get it?” Selena frowns and holds it tighter to her chest, as he peers down at her, grin widening.

“It plays music. Eleanor bought it for me…” Oh? She looks sad and her fingers fiddle with the side of it. “I asked her to put her favorite music on it.” She glares at him. “I use it to drown out the sounds of you being a monster in her room!” He chuckles and holds a finger to his chin in thought. Now this is truly valuable information! I don’t know very much about her music taste. I do detest such devices, so I will just have her write the track list! Splendid!

“Well, my dear, that is a nifty little device you have there isn’t it.” He bends at the waist, his bloody breath hitting her full in the face, and she recoils. “It is also valuable.” He rests a hand on her shoulder. “After all, it contains something related to my darling little fiancée.” Selena grips it so hard that her knuckles turn white, cowering in the predatory gaze of the red-clad demon. “Perhaps, I would find it in my heart to permit you to keep it. If, you detail the contents.” He snaps his fingers and produces the leather notebook and pen, waving it in her face. Selena removes one of her shaking hands from the MP3 player and grabs the notebook. She scurries away from him to her desk and turns the device on. Alastor looms over her shoulder as she opens the book, freezing at the neat cursive words it already contains. It seems to have every single observation that he has made about Eleanor, neatly organized by category. It seems we have a little snoop. His voice startles her, “I believe you are searching for the section on music,” He flips to a page titled ‘Music Preferences’ and point to the line he expects her to start on. “It is unfortunately quite barren at the moment, as I have only heard her lovely voice sing three songs, and I do not know their titles!” I must rectify that! But I have eternity after all, I can have her sing for me as much as I like! How invigorating!

As Selena hurriedly begins to copy song names and bands from the device, she sees that there are only three songs listed, each with a neat label signifying their importance. The first song listed is ‘When I Take my Sugar to Tea’ and the label says: This one is just lovely to play while feeding her, she seems to react negatively to it. Selena keeps writing to prevent him from knowing she is snooping. The next song is ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ and she pales at the label: This is the tune that was playing as she was handicapped, so she will assuredly react negatively to it. Perhaps play for emotional distress? Selena’s grip tightens on the pen, but she preservers and reads the last song. This one has a star next to it and the label makes her pause in her writing on accident. She only manages to read the label before Alastor leans in to whisper in her ear.

“You wouldn’t happen to be snooping would you, dear?” Selena shakes her head violently and turns the page to continue the list. I shall have to train that out of her… Her mind dwells on the cursive that she saw: Perhaps this would be nice for our first time together. Keep in mind! As she finishes writing out the large quantity of songs her hand is throbbing from how hard she was gripping the pen. He snatches up the notebook before she can hand it to him and dismisses it along with the pen. “Attagirl!” He turns on his heel and exits the room, offering Selena a dismissive goodbye.

This shall be perfect to help my darling calm down, I will need to take a listen through them later today. I suppose I will have to acquire one of those infernal cellular devices… He continues at his usual pace down the hall towards the kitchen. Now, what shall I make her? I promised something nice, but I need to make sure it is filling enough. He begins scanning over what ingredients he has in the pantry and fridge, ignoring the whimpers from the meat storage room. She is so skinny that her ribs show through! I must fix that posthaste! He spots cream cheese among the ingredients, and an idea strikes him. Yes, maybe that will work… It might be a bit sweet for her tastes, but she seems to enjoy sour flavors. He grabs the cream cheese and the other necessary ingredients. However, that would certainly not be enough for a meal. Hmm… He grabs a few other things, planning to whip together a few other simple items to compliment the main dish. He unbuttons his suit jacket, and lays it on a nearby chairback, tying a simple white apron around his thin waist. My darling might look quite good in an apron… I shall have to investigate what looks best on her frail body. He begins to prepare the food, working skillfully in the large well-stocked kitchen. I already know she looks nice in red, both clothing and when bleeding. pauses in the middle of stirring a bowl of cream cheese filling. Perhaps… A chill run through him, and he places down the bowl. He ambles over to his suit jacket, and hold it up, examining the size. She is so thin it might just fit… although her height might make it more of a dress… His eyes flash with an undefined emotion, but he shakes himself out of his reverie, and places the jacket down before resuming the cooking. I mustn’t get distracted when I am preparing her meals! I need to ensure she only consumes the finest that I can provide.
He finishes up the meal and begins to set the dishes on the tray in a pleasing manner. As he begins to pour her drink, he is interrupted by banging on the door. He pauses, his head co*cking to the side with a snap. Whoever could be calling on me at this hour… I do not believe any sinners have made an appointment. He removes the apron, and slips on the suit jacket, smoothly buttoning it up as he strides to the door. He adjusts his monocle, before opening the door, his grin large as ever. However, as the door opens, his eyes narrow in displeasure. Of course, it would be these pests. Standing there, frown on her face, is Vaggie, to her side is Charlie, looking equally upset.

“Why, what ever brings you to the colony, my dears! It is such a long walk from your little project after all!” He looms in the doorway, towering above the two demonesses, and they just glare at him. They are turning out to be quite the nuisance.

“You know why, asshole! We want to see Eleanor.” Vaggie snaps at him, and he merely chuckles. Of course, the short-tempered one would snap! How predictable. Charlie just seems to be backing up Vaggie, nodding along with her words. And the spineless partner nods along! I have finally been making progress with my sweetheart, I do not want these two interfering…
“I see. You two wish to see my darling little fiancée! I am afraid that I cannot permit that. She is just about to take her breakfast, and I will not allow her to be disturbed at such a time!” He summons the microphone and gestures with it, effectively blocking off the door. This seems to make Vaggie fume, but Charlie cuts her off, stepping in front of the livid demon.
“We just want to see her. You might be soul-bound to her, but I am still the princess of hell, and I want to meet with her.” Her usually joyful face is drawn in a frown. Ah! Now this is a surprise! Pulling the authority card, despite detesting it! How quaint! His smile grows, revealing black gums, and he leans in.

“Oh? You are acting as the Princess right now? I am surprised my dear, I thought you disliked being seen as such!” She scowls at him, fists clenched, and Vaggie pats her on the back. She is also scowling but hesitates to interfere.

“I am only doing what I need to Alastor. I want to see Eleanor, and that is an order.” She draws herself up to her full height, only rising to his neat bowtie. He co*cks his head with a snap and places his hand on his chin. Perhaps I can indulge them a little… but I want a little more entertainment first!

“Hmmm, alright! He turns on his heel, striding into the estate, leaving the women surprised at the door. They realize that he is not waiting for them, and they rush in after him, Vaggie slamming the door. Keeping up with his long strides is tricky with their much shorter stature, but they manage to catch up with him.

“Wait, you’re really agreeing that easily?” Charlie’s confused voice sounds out, causing Alastor to shrug.

“Why of course, dear! You said it was an order from the princess of hell after all! Why, I bet that the dame who broadcast your little hotel idea, would love to hear about this!” Her face pales, but she screws her face up again, preventing Vaggie from lashing out. They arrive in the kitchen, and they look around confused, until they pick up on the whimpers from the meat storage.
“Who is that! Is that Eleanor!” Vaggie shouts, shoulders trembling in rage. Alastor doubles over laughing and plays a laugh track that echoes around the kitchen.

“Of course not! That is wacky nonsense my dear! That is merely my meat storage, I would never keep my darling in there! No, she has her own quarters.” Charlie pales in horror, and Vaggie fumes, looking back and forth between him and the door. He ignores her stares as he finishes pouring the milk into the glass and puts away the ingredients in their proper places. Her eyes narrow.

“Why are we here! You said we could see Ellie!” She sounds at the end of her rope, and even Charlie seems upset. He picks up the tray with one hand, the other on his hip.

“I do believe I told you ladies that my darling was about to take her breakfast! If you wish to meet with her, you will just have to wait!” He turns on his heel and strides away, Vaggie is about to shout at him again, but Charlie stops her.

“No, we need to see her. If we piss him off, he might change his mind…” Vaggie sulks, sitting down onto a chair set up at the kitchen island.

“I know… I am just so worried about her. She has been here for days! Who knows what he has done already…” She frowns, and Charlie pats her on the back.

“I am worried too Vaggie, but if we want to help her, we need to play nice with that bastard.” She sits down next to her, and they both commiserate with each other, waiting for their host to return.

Chapter 32: Tea in the Garden

Notes:

Alright, this is the final chapter that I have written out, so I hope you enjoy! I have a bunch of fanfics on my hard drive that I've written in the past, so please let me know if you're interested in reading more. All of them have a yandere, but most of them are a bit lighter on the violence. I could probably scan through and edit out some of the super messed up parts, but if anyone is interested in extreme yandere content, just let me know!

I may or may not pick this back up in the future, but there are no guarantees, thank you for reading this far!

Chapter Text

My tears have already run dry, and I am just lying on the bed, in a daze. In twisted curiosity I pull up the hem of my nightgown, and fearfully look at my stomach. I can feel myself gag, when I see the thin red cut, already healing. My fingers find the similar cut on my collarbone, and I shudder. I place the gown back down and am surprised when I hear the door unlocking. I shoot up, and wipe my face off, putting on a strong look. I can’t let him break me… That’s exactly what he wants! My glare settles on Alastor as he enters the room carrying the usual tray. My cheeks are tear stained, and my eyes rimmed in red, but I just scowl at him with spite.

“It seems that you are feeling a little bit better, darling, I am glad! I have your breakfast right here.” He sets the tray on the small table, and I am drenched in confusion, when he sits down, instead of retrieving me. “I also have a surprise for you after your meal! I think you will be quite happy!” He begins to cut and break all the food items into the bite sized pieces he usually does, I tilt my head.

“You don’t normally do that ahead of time… What are you planning…” My voice is tinged with concern at the unusual turn of events. He chuckles and finishes cutting the items up. He places the utensils on the tray and stands up, striding over to me.

“I am going to feed you a little differently this morning, sweetheart!” He lifts me up and carries me over to the chair. I expect him to place me down, but instead, he sits down. I shudder in shock, I am rested on his knees, his arm still behind my back. The other has moved from under my legs, to resting on my stomach, right over where I know the cut is, causing me to shiver. My legs are dangling over the arm of the chair, and I am horrified to realize that I am laying in his lap.

“W-what the hell! Let me down!” I struggle, but his arms hold me firmly in place. He leans his face into mine, and I am awash in the scent of blood.

“Darling, I am not going to let you down, until you finish your meal! Remember to eat well for me, I would be happy to return to the previous eating arrangements if you prefer though…” His eyes look me up and down, causing a chill to run through my veins. f*ck no, not after what you did last night, you perverted freak! I cross my arms and stop struggling, instead sulking. He chuckles at my display, and leans over me, grabbing the glass of milk and handing it to me. I take it and hold it against my chest protectively. He reaches again and selects a plate, bringing it to rest on my stomach along with the utensils. “All right darling, this here, is a cheese danish. Make sure to inform me how you like it!” He uses his fingers to grab a bite and brings it to my lips. I take the bite, careful not to touch his fingers, causing him to chuckle again. The flavor is surprisingly pleasant despite the sweet flavor. The sourness of the cream cheese counteracts the sugar, and the buttery pastry helps as well. After swallowing I mutter my review to him.

“It’s fine. It isn’t too sweet; the pastry and sourness counteract it in a pleasant manner. Now get on with it” He picks up another piece and repeats the process, but this time when I take the bite, he shoves his fingers in my moth along with the danish. I reel back at the sudden violent movement, but he quickly withdraws his fingers, leaving the pastry on my tongue.

“Darling, remember who is in control here.” His voice has a twinge of danger to it, and he brings his fingers up to his mouth, licking them off. I look on in horror, my stomach churning in disgust. He seems satisfied and continues to feed me the rest of the pastry normally. Every time I take a bite, I feel a rush of fear, worried that he will repeat the action, but he doesn’t.

“There, sweetheart, that wasn’t so bad was it! Not much different from the other way, the only difference is the position!” He runs his fingers over my stomach, causing my muscles to tense as I flinch. I sip on the glass of milk, hoping it will wash away the taste of his fingers, while he selects the next plate. The next item seems to be scrambled eggs mixed with what I hope is chopped ham. A chill run through me as I question the identity of the meat.

“Now, darling, these are simply scrambled eggs with ham! No need to be afraid to eat meat here, I wouldn’t surprise you with my diet! If I want to feed you my favorite type of meat, I will certainly let you know!” He scoops up a forkful of the fluffy eggs and feeds me the bite. I accept it, and the pleasantly salty taste of the ham goes nicely with the taste of the eggs. He looks at me questioningly, and I tell him what I think.

“This is quite nice. Not too salty, the eggs are cooked well, and they diffuse the intense salt of the ham perfectly.” I frown, not hurrying him along this time. He seems pleased at my opinion of the eggs and continues to feed me the rest calmly. I sip on the milk in intervals, as he chooses the next item. I am glad to see that there are only two left, but a concern crosses my mind. “Are you sure it’s healthy to feed me all of these things all the time? I mean yesterday, there was dessert at every meal! That can’t be healthy…” I mutter, and I can feel his arm around my back tense, his hand gripping my shoulder. His gaze turns onto me and he seems displeased, his grin twitching.

“Sweetheart. Do you realize how underfed you are?” He grips my stomach with his other hand, right over my ribcage. The fingers prod in painfully, finding the perimeter of my ribs, causing me to writhe in discomfort. “Your ribs shine right through your skin! That is unacceptable while you are under my care, darling. I intend to get you to a healthy weight, then, and only then, can you worry about how healthy the meals I give you are.” He jabs his fingers into my ribs, not breaking the skin. “Do you understand?” There is no room for dissent in his tone, his eyes burning holes in mine. I nod meekly, wanting to move on from the topic. He selects the next dish and sets it in front of me on my stomach. I am met with another bowl of fruit and my face pales, remembering the previous time he fed me fruit. His grin grows to reveal black gums, and I shudder. “I believe you know what these are, darling, after all, we had such a touching moment between us the last time you ate them!” He lifts a piece of pineapple up in his clawed fingers and brings it to my mouth. I hesitatingly eat it, carefully ensuring it is contained. He eats the next piece himself, before he feeds me a strawberry, followed by a grape. “Now dear, what are your opinions on fruit?” My voice stumbles out, my heart racing.

“I-I used to like p-pineapple, but… I don’t anymore. Strawberries are good when they are a little sour, and grapes are fine. I hate blueberries though…” I give him extra information to hopefully make him a bit happier. He holds his free hand to his chin in though, and I wait in tense anticipation. Suddenly, he reanimates, and he picks through the bowl, taking all of the pineapple for himself.

“Why, that is good to know, my dear! I shall avoid blueberries and pineapple in the future!” My eyes shoot open in shock, and he chuckles softly, pinching my cheek. “I did say I would make you something nice for breakfast, dear, I don’t want to go back on my word over a single poorly chosen item!” He winks at me, and I recoil slightly. He feeds me the rest of the fruit, and I rejoice internally to see we are at the last plate. I blink owlishly at the last item and glance furtively at his face.

“Chocolate for breakfast?” I mumble, causing him to arch an eyebrow.

“What did I say about worrying, darling?” He runs a finger over my cheek, and I backtrack.

“I wasn’t worried only confused…” I lie through my teeth, and he knows it, but thankfully moved on. He picks up the square of chocolate, before biting it in half. I watch as he eats his half before offering me the other.

“It is dark chocolate, darling, I think you will enjoy it!” He pushes it against my lips, until I hesitantly eat it. He is unfortunately right, I do like the dark chocolate, but the fact that he ate some first puts a bitter taste in my mouth…other than the chocolate.

“I like it. I would like it more if you didn’t eat some first though.” I mutter bitterly, causing him to chuckle and play a laugh track, patting my stomach gently.

“Now then, darling! You have been fed, so I will fetch you your surprise, feel free to relax.” He stands up, slipping his hand back under my knees, and deposits me in the bed. He tucks me in, and I start in surprise as he slips a veil onto my face. My hope grows as he turns to leave the room.

“Am I meeting somebody?” He simply nods and exits the room, the door locking behind him. My emotions fluctuate wildly, I am excited to see someone, but I am worried about who it is. What would I even say if it is a stranger… It looks like I am some sort of f*cking concubine, this is mortifying… I pull the covers up further, over my shoulders. Pulling one leg up, I try to cross it, but am met with a wave of pain. f*ck… That hurt… I guess I can’t sit cross-legged. Straightening them back out, I just huddle further in the covers, only my head is visible. Eventually, I hear the click of the lock, as well as shouting. Wait, I recognize that voice! Vaggie! My heart soars and as the door opens, she rushes in with Charlie in tow. Alastor follows behind, closing the door behind himself.

“Oh my god Ellie! Are you ok!” Vaggie rushes to my side and sits next to me, I see a hint of confusion cross her features. “Why are you wearing that? Did he f*cking do something to your face!?” She glares at Alastor, who is standing with perfect posture, smile beaming. Hurriedly I shake my head, and Vaggie looks back at me.

"No… he didn’t do anything to my face. But I can’t take it off…” She tilts her head, as Charlie sits next to her, and we are all in close quarters.

“Why?” Charlie asks quietly, and I sigh deeply.

“He said that if anyone sees my face, he will erase them…” My voice trails off as they both scowl.

“That bastard! What is he some sort of obsessive freak!” Vaggie fumes, and Alastor chuckles over by the door. She suddenly grows dead serious and looks me in the face. “What has he done to you… can you tell us? We are worried about you…” My face falls under the veil, but I screw up my courage, sending a glance over at my tormentor. Before I answer Charlie speaks softly to me, seeing my tension.

“I’m sorry to ask you something so difficult to talk about… but it might help to talk about it…” She sends a furtive glance to Alastor, who’s eyes are narrowed. I take a deep breath and my voice comes out very quietly, and they crane their necks to hear me.

“He…crippled my ankles.” I shift the covers off, and show the bandages, causing them both to pale. They don’t say anything yet, letting me continue. “H-he did it after I escaped… I almost made it to the hotel when he caught me… It hurt… a lot.” My face is pale under the veil, having to say these things out loud, and I can see sad*stic pleasure in his eyes when I glance over.

“You escaped?” Charlie questions, and I nod.

“Yeah, when I first got here, I didn’t know where I was, and I investigated while I was alone… I found a few helpful things when I did that, so after he came in and… spoke to me. He healed my wounds before, turning out the lights and I was able to slip away.” He reacts before the girls do and raises a finger to his chin.

“It seems you really did woke much sooner than anticipated, that makes sense how you already knew the layout of the room, dear! That is good to know!” I cringe, and Vaggie glares at him without a word, before turning back to me.

“You have been… gone… for about five days, this is the sixth, how long have you actually been here?” She hazards, and I nod before answering much more confidently.

“I was here for only a few hours after waking up, then I was on the streets for what I assume to be three days. He found me at the end of the third day and dragged me back here. Yesterday was the first full day of… hell…” I trail off and they look concerned.

“W-what happened yesterday, Ellie.” Charlie asks gently, and I begin to shudder a bit while recounting the day.

“W-well, he woke me up at some point, I don’t know when, because there isn’t any way to track time in here.” They glance around, confirming that. “He then b-brought me breakfast… I refused to eat, because I didn’t trust it not to be drugged, but he forced me to eat it in the same way he did last time…” They nod, eyebrows creased. I can feel my hands shaking as I continue. “T-then he, p-pinned me to the bed, a-and sliced open my ankles.” They nod. “I-I was able to meet with Selena and get her side of the story.” I grab Vaggie’s hand. “She was threatened with erasure if she didn’t trick us… I forgave her…” Vaggie’s eyes shoot open, but Charlie seems to understand.

“Why would you forgive her!” I squeeze her hand.

“This isn’t her fault. Everything is because of him, not her. She is just another victim.” Charlie nods, but Vaggie still seems unconvinced, however, I continue to recount yesterday. “A-after she left…” My voice shrinks. “He sedated me. With a syringe.” I motion to the crook of my arms, revealing the various needle marks, some bruised. They glare at the marks, and Vaggie rubs my hand with her thumb. “I-I think I was out for three hours… that’s what he told me.” He interjects.

“Why of course, darling! I wouldn’t lie about that; I have no need to!” He ambles a bit closer, clearly enjoying my ‘storytelling’. I glare at him through the veil but decide to ignore him.

“W-when I came too, I was in a panic-“ His voice cuts in again, pissing me off.

“You were more than in a panic, sweetheart! You really do not handle the sedatives well! You go into hysterics every time you come out, not to mention the chills and that dreadful headache, dear. Why, you should be glad that I was prepared the last time!” The two ladies glare at him, positioning their bodies to block his view of me, before they speak to me again.

“I’m sorry…” Charlie mumbles.

“That’s terrible!” Vaggie shouts, and I nod my head weakly.

“T-then was lunch… It was terrible…” I shudder in disgust, recalling the taste of the over-sweet, over-steeped tea. He chuckles.

“I truly did not expect you to react so violently to that meal, sweetheart! It was only crafted to be distasteful to ensure you would behave, I was not aware of your sensitive stomach!” He summons a cup of coffee while he waits for the conversation to continue. I ball my fists and glare at him past Vaggie’s head.

“I hate you.” My voice is bitter, but he just grins more.

“I know, dear, you really like saying that don’t you? It is quite charming!” I shudder and back into the headboard. Vaggie shoots up and stomps over to him.

“Why are you such a f*cking horrible person! Do you even realize what you are doing is so horribly f*cked up! You act like this is some sort of game!” She screams in his face, but he just takes a sip of his coffee, before bending at the waist, smiling in her face.

“I am aware I am horrible; my little fiancée makes sure to remind me as often as she can! I also know that what I am doing is morally wrong! I just don’t care!” He plays a laugh track, before narrowing his eyes. “However, my dear, I do not see this as a game. There is nothing trifling about what I feel for my darling, and I take offense at your suggestion that I am merely playing around. She is mine. Do you understand.” He hisses through his sharp teeth, and she cringes when his breath hits her face.

“I understand that you are a monster! She doesn’t belong to you!” He plays another laugh track and straightens up, striding over to the bedside. Vaggie stomps after him and Charlie tries to block him off, but he just pushes her to the side. He grabs me by the hair, bringing my head to his cheek, his eyes staring at Vaggie.

“Darling~ who do you belong to?” He purrs next to my ear, and I try to push him away, but answer, nonetheless.

“I belong to you, Alastor. I f*cking hate you so much, get away from me!” The ladies’ eyes shoot open at my response, but Alastor lets go of my hair, and strides over to smugly smile down at Vaggie.

“It seems that she does indeed belong to me, Vagatha!” My hands cover my face in shame and Charlie hugs me, rubbing my back in small circles.

“I-I made a deal with him…” My voice squeaks out, and Charlie nods faintly, urging me to continue. Vaggie bolts over, past the smug Alastor.

“Why did you make a deal! What happened!” She sounds frantic, and I can see Alastor’s grin grow, as he nonchalantly strides over to the armchair and takes a seat, sipping his coffee.

“L-last n-night, I woke up, and he was… on top of me…” Their eyebrows shoot up, and I avoid looking at them. “H-he was going to… you know…” I whisper. “But I made a deal to stop him.” My heart rate increases and my voice cracks. Vaggie’s face looks miserable, and she grabs my hand again. “H-he won’t… you know… but I have to… once… after he forces me to marry him. In return for him not… I have to respond as you heard, every time he says that… and I had to…kiss him…” My voice is strained, but before they respond, I continue. “H-he didn’t… you know… but he still…did some really gross things…” My hand covers my stomach, where the cut is, and I shudder, I can hear them gasp. “A-and then he sedated me again… after he forced me to drink his blood… I only woke up about two hours ago… I was… panicking, and I ripped my stitches. He had to stitch them again, at least he f*cking disinfected them this time...” My voice is weak, as I try to move on from the uncomfortable topic before anyone responds. “H-he tried to comfort me, but it just felt disgusting… Then he made me sit in his lap to eat breakfast… He never lets me eat on my own… I can’t choose my clothes, I can’t bathe on my own, I can’t even walk on my own! He controls everything I do, and it is driving me crazy!” I grasp at my hair, rage and injustice flowing through my veins. I can hear him rise from his seat, but I continue to plead with them.

“Please, I can’t f*cking be here! I don’t know what he is planning! I-I hate the way he l-looks at me!” My voice is returning to hysterical levels, and I can see them begin to panic. “He never stops t-touching me! I just want to rip my skin off!” My face is twisted in fear behind the veil, as I can hear his clicking steps getting closer. “Stay away! I don’t want to be here!” I scramble closer to the two girls, and they hold onto me tightly. My ankles are throbbing from the harsh movements, but I can’t think about that.

“Calm down Ellie! We are right here!” Vaggie pats my back as I begin to shake violently. Charlie stands up and positions herself in front of us, blocking Alastor from closing in.

“Don’t come closer Alastor! Look at what you’re f*cking doing to her! She is a mess!” Vaggie is whispering to me about positive things, and I just hone in on her voice, the dread closing in on me.

“I believe that my darling is in no state to entertain guests anymore, Charlotte.” He leans into Charlie’s face, but she just puts her hands on her hips and glares back.

“What the hell are you going to do if we leave! Torture her more!” She shouts at him, outrage in her tone.

“Of course not! I am merely going to calm her down. I have plenty of experience now, after all! I think the sedatives side effects still haven’t worn off completely, rendering her mental state delicate, so I will be asking you two to leave.” Vaggie gasps.

“No! Don’t leave! I can’t be alone with him!” I tightly grip her, my breathing ragged.

“Darling, you need to calm down. You will rip your stitches again.” He pushes Charlie aside, and she quickly regains her footing and tries to pull him back. He persists and arrives next to the bed, causing a shudder to run through my already trembling body. He grabs Vaggie by the back of her hair and yanks her out of my arms, causing me to tumble forwards, sprawling onto the mattress. He drops her on the ground, and she tries to get back up, but he rests a foot on her chest. “I believe that I have asked you two to leave. I would suggest doing so before I get angry.” His voice has a dangerous tone, his eyes narrowed. There is snapping and creaking heard from his antlers, and small symbols surround him. I scramble to the far side of the bed, pulling the covers over me completely, and huddling in place. There is a stare down between the Alastor and the two demons, before he snaps his fingers, and they disappear with a shout. Now the room is rendered silent, save for my rapid breathing. Pulling the cover tighter around me, I can feel the mattress sink down with added weight.

“Darling, I am not going to hurt you right now.” His smooth voice emanates from much closer, but I just shudder. The mattress shifts under his weight as he approaches me, causing me to huddle more. Suddenly, I can feel his hands grip me through the blankets, sending a chill through my spine. He lifts me up and sets me, still wrapped in the blankets, on his lap. I can feel his arms wrap around me, and if I didn’t know who it was, it would feel extremely comfortable. “Just breathe, darling. I know you are panicking, so just breathe.” He rubs circles on my shoulder through the comforter. My breathing begins to slow, and my wits start to return. No…How could I waste my meeting with them… if only I just kept calm, they would still be here… I am such an idiot!

“W-why can’t I just s-stay calm…” My hoarse voice squeaks out, and he pats my shoulder.

“I’m sure it is difficult to not be in control of your emotions, dear. However, I believe I know why.” I hum for him to continue. “When I read about the side effects of the sedative, it said that you might be unstable for a few hours after you are brought out of it. You are not weaker for feeling such strong emotions dear, there is no shame in it.” He squeezes me a little tighter, and I can feel exhaustion overtake my form. The cocooned blankets feel so nice, and the gentle pressure helps calm me down further. Not seeing him helps… and not being able to smell the blood…

“I-I’m tired…” My voice is weak, and I can feel him shift slightly, bringing his legs into a cross legged position underneath me.

“Sleep then, darling, there is no reason to fight it. The sedatives do not actually give you any rest, so you are running dreadfully low on sleep right now.” He rests my head against his chest, and I cringe, but I am too tired to keep fighting right now. My eyes slowly begin to drift closed, and I slip into deep slumber.

My eyes flutter open, and I tiredly take in that I am still balled up in the soft blankets. As I stir, I can feel that his arms are still wrapped around me, and a bolt of discomfort shoots through me.

“It seems you are awake, darling.” His voice purrs directly next to my ear, and I flinch away. He begins to move, setting me down on the bed, and unwrapping the blankets from my form.

“Yeah…” I say, sleep still tinging my eyes. As my face is uncovered, he slips the veil off of my head, and I rub my eyes before stretching. “How long was I asleep?” As my wits return to me, my gaze hardens as I survey the area. Nothing is out of place, but the blankets and sheets are a mess.

“Well, you slept right through lunch sweetheart! I wanted to wake you, but just couldn’t bring myself to do so!” He smoothly alights from the bed and adjusts his suit and monocle. “You slept for five hours, dear.” His simple statement makes me jerk back.

“Y-you held me for the whole time! Why!” My voice is shocked, tinged with outrage. He chuckles and summons the microphone to gesture with.

“Why, I was comforting you! And because I enjoy being near you, dear, I believe I have made that very clear! And you are quite adorable when you are asleep, even through the blankets! Your breathing softens considerably, and you shift around ever-so-gently!” He grins, and a soft blush crosses his cheeks. I hug my shoulders and inch away, uncomfortable at his words. He chuckles and heads to the bookshelf. “How would you feel about reading today, dear?” He has a hand on his chin as he looks over the classic on the top shelf. I feel wary about the offer, but I feel like reading might help me forget where I am.

“I would be fine with that… What’s the catch?” I narrow my eyes as he selects a volume off of the highest shelf, and flip through it experimentally.

“There is no catch, darling, you need some well-deserved rest today. I am even willing to let you read in another part of the house if you wish.” He deems the book he picked up suitable, and ambles over to me, handing it over. I look between him and the book, before holding it to my chest and looking away.

“Can I really read somewhere else?” My voice has a thread of hope, and I startle a little as he ruffles my hair. My eyes dart back to him, on the defensive.

“Of course, dear! Where would you like to read?” He leans down and his gaze focuses on mine. I falter slightly, unsure of what he will allow.

“W-what about the garden? O-or if you have a backyard…” He tilts his head in thought, seemingly debating whether to grant my request.

“Hmm, alright. I will permit you to read in the garden, but you will need to be dressed up more, dear.” I sigh, but I want to go outside so badly, that I relent.

“Ok, but please close your eyes again…” There is a desperate note in my voice, and he chuckles, leaning into my ear.

“Don’t worry, dear, I cross my heart that I won’t look” He imitates crossing his heart, grin wide. My face twists, a bitter taste in my mouth, but I nod.

“Good.” I watch as he heads over to the closet, looking for a suitable dress. He seems to gravitate towards pale colors today, and I can’t help but wonder what criteria he uses to pick. How does he decide, with all those clothes. It would take me forever to decide on something… I would rather have something much less ostentatious… He makes a selection, and I am surprised to see it is a rather delicate dress. I didn’t even see that in there, with all of the other intense ones. It is a pale pink, flowy dress with an A-line silhouette. There appear to be small flowers and leaves embroidered in the skirts, and I can tell that they are well done. He also grabs a pair of simple flats of the same color. I guess he is into theming… garden equals a dress with flowers. How original. However, I pointedly look away when he approaches the chest of drawers and open the top one. Ugh… I hate him so much… This is mortifying. After pulling out the required items, he lays them all out on the bed, before striding over to me.

“Alright, darling, I am going to move you to the vanity.” I let him lift me up and set me down on the pulled-out chair. At this point he closes his eyes, and I remove my current clothing. Signaling when I am done. He hands me the undergarments first, and I am disgusted to see that they are completely made of lace, of the same pale pink. I balk at his gall, giving me such obscene items. “Is there an issue, dear?” His voice rings out, surprising me.

“No. I just hate you more now.” I mutter, putting on the garments. He chuckles, nonplussed. I don the rest of the outfit, refusing to let him help me with any stage.

“You know it would be much faster if you just accepted my assistance, darling!” He circles around, looking over the finished result. I just cross my arms and scowl at him.

“I am willing to take as long as I need to avoid that.” He simply pushes the chair into the vanity without comment, but I can see his smile grow slightly. He picks up a brush and brushes out my hair as I sulk. I feel a bit of relief when he chooses a much simpler hairstyle than the intricate updo from yesterday. He twists up the bulk of it in a loose bun, a few strands falling beside my face. Nothing like my usual no-nonsense one. He deftly grabs a small flower shaped hair accessory and slips it in my hair, at the center of the bun, before examining his work. Seemingly pleased, he opens another drawer and I roll my eyes. More f*cking veils. These ones are made of a much sheerer material and are attached to ribbons. I guess these are for if he doesn’t expect anyone getting close… He is a freak. He gently grabs a pale pink one and ties it gently around the hairstyle.

“What do you think, darling?” He rests a large, clawed hand on my shoulder, and I use two fingers to lift it off. He allows it and I look over my appearance. I look like a f*cking pink flowery mess. Definitely not my style… too, girly.

“It’s very girly. Not my style.” He raises an eyebrow, leaning in next to me, looking me in the eye through the mirror.

“But you are a girl, darling. I think the delicate feminine look suits you.” He runs a hand over my hair, resting his chin on my shoulder. I flinch and he stands back up straight. “Alright, my dear! I believe you are all ready, shall we head to the garden?” I nod, and he summons the wheelchair, placing me into it gently. He hands me the book once more and begins to wheel me out of the room. As we pass the threshold, my mood brightens a little. I am wheeled through the halls once more, and as we exit through the front doors, I am met with the lovely garden.

There are various kinds of flowers, arranged in a pleasing manner. There are a few that I recognize, but most of them appear to be unique to hell, and I can’t help but regret never getting to read that botanical book. I guess I could ask him… but I don’t want to. He notices my eyes lingering on the flowers, as he wheels me to a shady section, overlooking the blooms. I can also see the street through the wrought iron fencing, though most of it is covered with vines sprouting small red flowers.

“Are you perhaps interested in the plants, dear?” His voice shakes me out of my examination, and I look up at him.

“They are fine. I am more interested in the unique species than the blooms themselves.” I huff, and pick the book up, watching his actions out of the corner of my eye. He summons a wrought iron tea-table, and I can see him setting something up. As I read the book, I am slightly frustrated at how much I enjoy his selection. Damn, I never got around to reading H.P. Lovecraft on my own time, now I wish I had…The book I am reading is the complete collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s works, and I make my way through it at a fast clip. The Alchemist is quite comedic! Who would guess it was just an immortal, I don’t think it was intended to be funny though… I skip around, reading through the story’s that interest me before the others. As I am beginning ‘The Call of Cthulhu” I am suddenly pulled out of my focus, by a hand resting on my shoulder. I look up to see Alastor reading over my shoulder.

“You read at quite a fast clip, don’t you, dear!” My eyes gaze over the completely set up tea table, and I can see there is a spread of tea snacks, as well as a pot of coffee, and the materials for a pot of tea. “You missed lunch, darling, but I cannot have you eat nothing until dinner.” He wheels me up to the table, and I sigh, setting the book down.

“Is this really necessary…” My voice is annoyed, and he takes a seat next to me.

“Of course! Now, I believe you said that I over-steeped your tea last time, dear. I must admit that was not intentional, you see I do not drink the stuff! No, I much prefer coffee!” He places the tea set in front of me along with the tea leaves. “Perhaps you could enlighten me on how it is done?” I swear he is an idiot. He could just look this up, why do I have to show him. Sighing I begin to show him how to prepare the tea.

“The tea leaves you are using are black tea leaves. They become extremely astringent and bitter. What you served might not even qualify as tea anymore, more like a war-crime in a glass.” He plays a laugh track, but I am not feeling very jovial. I measure out the tea and pour the hot water in the pot, closing it up. “The temperature of the water is also important, but luckily black tea doesn’t require precision, otherwise I am sure you would mess it up.” He raises an eyebrow as I continue. “You would add one level teaspoon of black tea leaves for six ounces of boiling water. The steep time ranges between three and five minutes. I prefer about four minutes, as five minutes is a little too astringent for me, but three is much too underwhelming.” As I finish my explanation, the tea finishes steeping, and I pour it into the teacup he placed out. “For black tea I only prepare one cup at a time, because I detest when it has been sitting in the tea pot for too long, brewing further. However, I much prefer herbal tea’s anyway, and they have a different brewing process.” I look over, and I can see him taking notes. Him and that infernal notebook. What the hell does he have in there!

“Darling, might I ask the difference, I had assumed that there was only one kind.” He seems genuinely interested, and I roll my eyes.

“There is certainly not only one kind. There are six types of tea technically, but herbal tea is not included in that list, seeing as it does not actually contain any leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant.”

“It does not contain actual tea? That seems rather ridiculous!” He begins to look around the snacks as he listens.

“I agree, but I am not the one who created the terminology. The teas are categorized by how they are processed, and each have a different flavor profile. I do not know the full details of the tea making process, so I will just list the types. There is white tea, green tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, black tea, and dark tea. The other types that are not considered true teas are herbal tea, purple tea, and red tea.” He looks astonished at the variety, but I quickly move on before he can comment, wanting to get this over with. “Personally, I tend to dislike black tea, unless it is flavored in a pleasant way. I also dislike dark tea.” He selects a halved egg, stuffed with what looks like the yolk, and lifts it to my mouth.

“How interesting, open up, darling, this is a deviled egg, I believe it will suit your tastes.” I glare at his interruption but comply. The egg is quite flavorful, but I do not hate it. It has a tang that makes it appetizing. “Well, how is it, dear?”

“It is fine. Despite being extremely flavorful, it does not cross the line. Probably because of the tanginess of it.” He takes another f*cking note in his notebook, and I huff in frustration.

“Alright, my dear. There seem to be a large variety of options, what might be your favorite?” Rolling my eyes, I sip my tea, much better than what he made.

“Fine, I will tell you, so you don’t f*ck up again.” I can hear a faint warble of radio static and his eye twitches. “I like herbal tea, specifically peach or chamomile. Peppermint is also decent, and a few other fruit flavors are fine. However, there are a few types of teas that I absolutely detest, and those are the teas flavored like baked goods, or chocolate.” My face scrunches up as I remember the one time, I tried a tea that purported to be flavored like a lemon cake. He chuckles and takes a note, before placing the notebook to the side. He picks up his coffee cup and sips on it, before setting it in front of me.

“I think you should try coffee, dear! Who knows, you might like it!” My eyes glare balefully at the cup.

“I do not want to. Caffeine is just another drug that people get dependent on. At least tea has much less, but herbal is caffeine free, and I like it that way.” I push the cup back over towards him and sip on my tea again. He pushes it back over, keeping his hand on the table this time.

“Come on, dear, a cup or two isn’t going to get you hooked or anything! It is certainly not as addictive as the substances that lascivious spider ingests on the regular!” At the mention of Angel, I lean backwards away from the table, my already frustrated mood falling. My eyes move to look out of the fence, a few demons walk by, sending glances towards Alastor’s estate. Only one or two seem to spot us through the vine covered fencing, and they seem surprised, and hurry away. Suddenly, I feel his hand on my cheek, turning my face gently to face him. “Darling, I want you to drink the coffee.” His eyes are fixated on mine, and I can tell that it wasn’t a suggestion this time. He lifts the cup and hands it to me directly, my much smaller hands taking it. I hesitate. He drinks holding the cup in his right hand… so if I flip it, it will be as if it is a fresh cup… I flip it around and lift it to my lips with my left hand. He raises an eyebrow, but I ignore him and take a small sip. The bitter taste of the coffee is strong, but I am not unable to see the draw for some. It has a good underlying flavor; one would just have to get used to the bitterness. I place the cup down again, looking him in the face.

“There. I tried the coffee, are you happy?” I slide it back towards him, but he catches my wrist.

“I want you to finish it, sweetheart.” He curls my fingers around the handle and has me pick up the cup. I frown but continue drinking the dark liquid. He watches my every move, as I work my way through the cup. Occasionally, he will feed me another snack, and I just try to muscle through it. However, as I near the end of the cup, my hands begin to tremble. My whole body feels jittery, and it is unpleasant. He seems to notice my shaking hands, as the last of the coffee is sloshing slightly in the cup. He grabs my hand, stilling it, before letting go, only for it to start up again.

“It seems you have a low tolerance for caffeine!” He grabs the cup out of my hand and drains the last of the coffee. “I am yet again reminded how delicate you are, darling! It is like you have been handcrafted to be taken care of by me!” He selects another snack, while I try to still my jittery hands, feeling wired.

“That is not true. I am perfectly equipped to take care of myself, you just see what you want to see! I made it this far in life without your help, I don’t need it now either.” My voice is filled with indignance, and he feeds me some sort of cracker. It’s fine.

“You are free to deny it, dear, but I think you would have been dead within a few years!” He rests a hand on his chest dramatically. “Or worse! Another man would have noticed you and scooped you up before you even made it within my sight! Of course, it would have been easy to remove such a pest, but I much prefer this arrangement.” He runs a hand along my cheek, and I jerk backwards.

“As if I would have allowed that. The only reason I am here is because of your weird voodoo bullsh*t, if you were just a normal human, I would have killed you ages ago.” I glare at him through the veil, my words come out quickly from my hyper state.

“Darling, if I were a normal human, you still wouldn’t be strong enough to kill me! I would even be forced to use more mundane methods of keeping you, like ropes or chains! And that is just not gentlemanly!” He seems appalled at the thought of having to tie me up with conventional methods, and I scoff.

“The fact that you think brute force is the only way to kill someone, makes me even more certain that I could have ended you quickly.” I take a sip of tea, trying to wait out the jitters. He plays a laugh track and laughs along with it.

“Oh? You are confident you could end my life, are you, that would be very entertaining! Have you ever killed before, darling? Would you be able to carry through?” He leans in, the scent of blood washes over me, and it taints the taste of my tea.

“I have not taken a life personally, like you. However, I have been the initiator in multiple people’s untimely demise. I’m certain that I would be able to carry-through, especially if it’s you.” I recoil as a blush crosses his features, and he leans in closer.

“Darling, it’s almost like your flirting!” I glare at him, but this only seems to egg him on.

“I would never flirt with you; I find you repulsive.” I place my teacup down, and go to pick up my book, but he catches my wrist.

“You might find me repulsive, dear, but I find you positively thrilling!” He lifts my hand up to his mouth, kissing each finger individually. My hand tenses, and I snatch my hand back when he lets go and wipe it on my dress.

“What the hell! It’s like insults just egg you on, you freak. I wonder if compliments would make you leave me the hell alone!” His grin grows, and he tilts his head.

“I wouldn’t suggest it, sweetheart! if you complimented me, I think I would lose all sense of reason right then and there!” He seems to be imagining something and a shudder goes through him before he shakes out of it. My face twists in disgust, and he chuckles. “I don’t think anything you do could make me leave you alone! Why, every time you try a new tactic, it only drags me deeper into obsession, darling!” He stands up, summoning the microphone and gesturing. “I swear, it’s like you are perfectly formulated to tempt me! When you are full of spite and fighting spirit, it is entertaining, I never know what you are going to say next! When you ignore me, I just want to force you look at me. However, when you are filled with fear or are in pain, your every move is enchanting, the knowledge that I am the one causing it is truly invigorating! But when you are so sweet and submissive, I am filled with the desire to pamper you. And not to mention your lovely tear-stained face! Why it drives me wild!” He leans in from behind me, running a hand over my shoulder. His voice lowers to a purr, and I grip my book with a white knuckled grip. “You test my willpower like nothing else, darling. I have made a promise to myself to let you have today to rest and recover. I already regret it, dear, because there are so many things, I wish to do right now…” He wraps his arms around me from behind and places his face in my neck. What is he going to do! My breath hitches, and my heart begins to pound. I am firmly trapped in place by his long arms, and his breathing is rough. However, after about five minutes, he rises again, letting me go.

“Now, darling, you are free to return to your book! I won’t stop you anymore.” He strides back to his seat, pouring himself another cup of coffee. I lift the book up with shaky hands, flipping it open to the page I left off on, and try to calm myself down. There really isn’t anything I can do, is there? f*cking figures… Even if I just went along with his twisted games, I don’t think it would calm him down at all… It might even make it worse! My mind slowly slips into concentration on the book, and the hours slip by. After finishing The Call of Cthulhu, I move on to At the Mountains of Madness. After getting about halfway through I realize that I absolutely adore it. I just love the analytical nature of the writing! It really does make it feel more realistic!
Suddenly, I am ripped out of my concentration, by Alastor bolting out of his chair, and quickly striding away, the radio static rising threateningly. In my surprise I knock my knee against the table, hissing through my teeth at the impact. What the f*ck? I watch as he quickly reaches the gate, and then I notice that there is a sharply dressed demon in a top hat, with dark hair. He is mostly humanoid, much like Alastor, but I can see two ears poking out of the side of his hat. I think those are cat ears? But I could be wrong… What is he doing here? As Alastor arrives at the gate the demon greets him heartily.

“Alastor, my good man, it is quite a shock to see you lazing about! Especially in your front garden, why I have never once seen you spend your time here, let alone with a charming dame, such as that one!” Oh sh*t… Is he trying to piss him off? Alastor adjusts his monocle, still smiling as wide as ever, but I can see his eyes narrowed.
“Indeed, William, my good fellow! I am merely spending time with my fiancée, she wished to read in the front garden, so I happily obliged.” He steps to the side, blocking William’s view of me. I can hear the demon make a surprised sound.

“I never thought you had it in you, my good man! You always seemed to avoid romantic matters like the plague, color me surprised!” He steps to the side, and I can see his eyes lock onto me for a split second, and I can sense a calculated look. Ha. Maybe he will get himself killed, but I would love to see what he is planning. “Perhaps I could meet the dame! I’m sure that it takes a spectacular woman to have won your affections!” He winks at me past Alastor and I frown.

“No, she is not accepting visitors at the moment, my good man!” He once again steps in front of his view. I can hear him laugh, before making another attempt.

“You could ask the dame, why she is right there! Maybe she would be willing to meet with just one individual, you never know what the fairer sex are thinking after all!” I can see Alastor stiffen slightly, obviously suppressing anger.

“Her willingness to meet you is irrelevant, my friend! I am the one refusing you, not her.” Alastor summons the microphone, and places it in the crook of his arm. William laughs again. Does this guy have a death wish?

“Trouble in paradise, my good man? If your so worried about her meeting with others, maybe she has already strayed?” You were so close to hitting him where it hurts, but you really went with that avenue? Pathetic. Alastor plays a laugh track, surprising William, and he doubles over laughing.

“Of course, not my good man! Out of all the things I could worry about, that is dead last! The thought is just ab-so-lute-ly ridiculous!” He breaks into a peal of laughter again, and I can see William’s confused face over Alastor’s bent over figure. He seems to recover however and try a different tactic.

“Why, that is good, I was worried for you, my good man! Well, if you are not worried about her faithfulness, why would you forbid her visitors?” He leans his upper body on the gate looking curious. Alastor straightens back out into his perfect posture.

“I simply am not permitting her visitors, my friend, and I would suggest you perish the thought!” He co*cks his head with a snap, one arm rests on the gate in front of William’s, his other arm neatly folded behind his back. William seems to think for a moment before doing something that surprises me. He turns to face me over the gate and shouts out.

“Miss! Would you be willing to meet with me? It seems your guard dog has taken it in his mind that I am trying something funny, but I swear I am not!” My hands snap closed my book in shock, and I can see Alastor stiffen. William is looking right at me, and now Alastor has turned to face me as well. I can see in his face that he is not pleased. Looking back and forth between them Alastor speaks before I formulate a response.

“Darling, I promise you do not want to meet with a man such as this,” He gestures to the cat eared demon, “why, he only has mischief in his mind!” He narrows his eyes at him, and I decide upon an answer. William looks expectantly at me.

“Are you really so incapable of convincing a simpleton like him that you would try to go behind his back? I’m disgusted at the sight, for someone so calculating, you are very poor at hiding it. I think you should learn some restraint, though I am not sure if you would even be capable of that. Did you seriously think that you would be able to turn this situation around after you accused me of something so disgusting? I guess curiosity truly did kill the cat, it’s too bad that not even satisfaction will bring you back.” William just stares at me in shock, and Alastor plays a laugh track, but I turn to him as well. “And you, if you are so worried about visitors, you really have done a dreadful job of keeping them away. Why, if you weren’t standing so straight, I would assume you had lost your spine. You seemed perfectly content to sit around and drink your damn coffee, if you are trying to protect me in some twisted way, at least do a good f*cking job of it. Now why don’t you two keep me out of your inane squabbling, I am trying to read.” Alastor is now just staring as well, as I flip the book back open to the page I was on before. As I continue to read, I can hear both men burst into laughter. Whatever. Are all the f*cking demons here masoch*sts? Disgusting.

“Well, she is a live wire isn’t she! I certainly did not expect the dame to have such a sharp tongue!” He laughs patting the gate with one hand. Alastor straightens out after laughing as well, stepping in front of William once more.

“Indeed, she is quite the witty sheba! However, I believe you have your answer.” His voice grows threatening. “My darling does not want to meet with you. Don’t think that just because I have agreed to not erase you, that my patience is infinite. There are worse things than death, my friend.” I can hear creaking and snapping. William finally steps back.

“Don’t get so upset, my good man! It was merely a good bit of fun!” He seems a bit frightened, but not enough for his own good. “Well, it was nice seeing you Alastor, and it was certainly nice meeting your fiancée! You have quite a task ahead of you going middle aisle with such a sharp-witted gal!” He departs with a few more barbed words, and Alastor ambles back over to the tea table, where I am reading.

“That was quite an impressive tongue lashing, my dear! How do you manage to target one’s weak points so easily?” He leans in, pushing the book down into my lap. I roll my eyes and sigh, annoyed.

“It really isn’t that difficult; you just need to be observant. I’m sure you have practice in that, being a creepy freak and all.” I huff, and he plays a laugh track.

“I am aware of how observant you are, darling, but that does not equate to being able to pick apart someone’s insecurities like it is second nature!” He leans his face closer to mine. “Perhaps you will enlighten me as to what you think are my weak points, dear? I’m sure you have been holding back your insults out of fear for the repercussions. You certainly had a lot more to say before I managed to get you in my grasp!” I think back to my tirade before I made an art project out of fabric in his quarters and turn away. He lightly grabs my chin and turns my eyes back onto him. “Come now, sweetheart, I promise there will be no repercussions to telling me!” He mimes crossing his heart again, and I take a deep breath.

“Fine, if you really want to know what your weak points regarding insults are, they are quite numerous for someone who is always smiling.” He scoffs. “First, is anything related to your death.” I poke him directly in the forehead, the pad of my finger landing directly on the X. He narrows his eyes but motions me to continue. “Next is new technology. You seem to hate televisions in particular. I’m sure anyone could get on your nerves with the classic ‘video killed the radio star’ line, though that is much too low hanging for me.” I inspect my fingernails, as if bored, ignoring the hissing intake of breath. “You also seem insecure about your appearance, especially the yellowness of your teeth.” I can see his eye twitch. “It seems you are also sensitive if people insult you about your little mass murder hobby. Not about the fact that you do it, no, instead insulting your skill at the task. You also loathe being ignored, probably from your ego, so I am sure that someone truly not caring about you in the slightest would get on your nerves. Finally, you like to be threatening, so I am sure that you would be insecure about your deer-like appearance. Especially the tail.” His hand, rested on the tea-table, flexes, deforming the metal. “However, now I think you have a brand-new weakness.” His head co*cks with a snap, and he hisses through gritted teeth, sending the scent of blood into my face.

“And what would that be, my dear.” He seems dead set on keeping his promise, so I propose a question to him instead of giving him the answer.

“What would you do if someone were to insult me?” He freezes in place, I can see his eyes briefly turn to dials, and his grip on the table tightens and he tears a hole in the already deformed section.

“I see…” He hisses, and stiffly stands up straight, turning on his heel, and walking over to his chair. He takes a seat roughly, and lifts his coffee cup, accidentally cracking the porcelain in his large hand. “It seems that is indeed a sore spot, darling.” His eyes are deadly serious, clashing with the large arc of his smile. I pick up my book to read again, trying to defuse the atmosphere. Silence pervades, and I realize that there is no radio static. Feeling offput, it becomes difficult to focus on the words, tension filling my muscles. I try to start conversation, anything to drain away the tension.

“So, what about me?” He looks over at me, co*cking his head with a snap. “What do you think would insult me? I am not immune to insults, after all.” His tension seems to morph into a thoughtful expression. He thinks for a bit, the radio static returning at an extremely quiet volume.

“Hmm, that is a tricky question indeed… Would you be insulted if your intelligence were questioned?” He looks at me curiously.

“No, not particularly, I am confident in my own abilities.” He raises a hand to his chin in thought.

“I see. What if you were implied to be a woman of… loose morals?” He blushes slightly, and I scoff.

“No, I am aware of my own proclivities. People can assume what they please.” He seems surprised at my response. They can assume what they want, as long as they don’t try anything funny…

“Perhaps, your appearance? You are rather thin.” I cringe a little.

“That would certainly make me a bit indignant. However, there are much worse things. Do you need me to tell you the answers?” He shakes his head.

“No, darling, I want to figure this out on my own.” He leans his elbows on the table, staring intently at my face. Suddenly, he sits up straight, microphone raised. “I’ve got it, my dear. You dislike being thought of as dependent, or as needing help with anything!” I flinch as he hits the nail on the head.

“Yes, that is indeed infuriating. Now do you see why I hate you?” He chuckles.

“Of course, although I already knew that you would! I assume you have a new sore spot too, darling!” I raise an eyebrow. “What would you do if someone were to imply you were with me w