"I'm heading out," the radio demon called, twirling his cane in one hand as he reached for the front door. "Is there anything you'd like me to pick up while I'm out?"
"Oh!" Charlie chirped, straightening in her seat. "More gold star stickers! I'm almost out with all the good progress our patrons are making!"
They all looked over to Angel, whose phone case was plastered with said stickers. He shrugged, not looking up from whatever media he was scrolling through on it. "What can I say? I like shiny things."
Vaggie rolled her eyes. "We're out of first aid, thanks to the same shithead's antics," she said, picking idly at her nails, and across the room Angel sheepishly grinned. One of the things he still struggled with were the turf wars; it was not entirely his fault, this most recent time, but it was still Angel that Sir Pentious had been after when he blew half the hotel to smithereens.
"I dunno," Angel said, crossing his legs and leaning back on two elbows. "Drugs?"
"Angel," Charlie started in a disapproving tone, and Angel waved one of his free hands at her, scoffing.
"I know, sheesh, I get it." He seemed to deliberate over the question for a moment longer, then shrugged nonchalantly and returned to his cell phone. Jokingly, he threw over his shoulder at Alastor, "Something expensive! Like a lobster dinner!"
"Can do!" Alastor said with a bow and flourish far too grand to be serious, turning away toward the door.
"You little roach," Vaggie grumbled under her breath, and Angel laughed.
"Wrong pest, toots!"
The door swung shut behind Alastor, and they all returned to the comfortably still afternoon, nothing amiss.
It was a few hours before the radio demon returned, smelling suspiciously of blood and with two plastic bags hanging from his elbow. Out hunting, no doubt.
Angel watched with vague interest - mostly borne of boredom - as Alastor offered a bag to Charlie, who dug the stickers out with a squeal. From what Angel could see from that distance, gold stars were not the only kind he brought; there was another sheet of something pink and cute, and curiosity prickled at him, Angel promising himself he would win those stickers just for the bragging rights.
Too busy coming up with ways to impress Charlie enough for whatever special secret stickers she had just gotten, Angel did not notice Alastor approaching until he was blocking his view. He started as that shadow fell over his chair, and leaned back with his hands folded behind his head. Not knowing what Alastor wanted from him, admittedly, had his nerves already a bit on end, but he batted his eyelashes up at the radio demon anyway.
"Something I can do for ya, Chuckles?" he purred, an easy smile curving his lips as he inwardly prayed he had not done anything to incur his wrath. But Alastor only set the second bag in his lap with a grand flourish.
"It's no five-star presentation, unfortunately," the radio demon said lightly, folding his hands pleasantly behind his back, "but I presume takeout is fine!"
" . . . what?" Angel replied dumbly, smile slipping off his face as he lifted a baffled brow. Alastor only nodded toward the bag, so Angel hesitantly peered into it, pulling out a plain white takeout box. He hesitantly lifted the tab, peered inside, and promptly let it drop closed. "What?!"
Alastor cocked his head, his eyebrows drawing together in apparent confusion. "You did request lobster, yes? Did I mishear you?"
"Are you fuckin' shitting me?" Husk called out indignantly from the bar. "You got him lobster? No sense of loyalty . . . "
"You didn't ask," Alastor sniped right back.
"Al," Angel stammered out, feeling heat rise to his cheeks, "I was joking."
"Joking?" Alastor repeated, sounding genuinely confused.
"Yes! Joking!" Angel waved his arms about as he spoke. "Y'know, because it's expensive? You ask people for expensive things because you know they won't buy it, and it's funny! You're not supposed to actually do it!"
"It's . . . funny?"
"Well, it's - " Angel gesticulated wildly, trying to find words. "It's not - it isn't funny in like, the full sense of the word - " How was he supposed to explain this to someone who didn't get it? "It's like, a joking way of saying you don't want anything."
"Does this mean you're not hungry?" Alastor piped up, eyebrows still furrowed, and Angel deflated, crossing his arms.
"I'm not hungry," he confirmed.
He felt almost apologetic; the radio demon usually rolled with his taunts so well, but this time he seemed so absolutely lost. Angel had caught sight of the receipt in the bag, too, feeling faint at the sight of triple digits, and his guilt only increased. But Alastor's expression cleared a moment later, and he plucked the bag from Angel's lap.
"I'll put this in the fridge, then," he decided brightly, turning on his heel and marching away. "You can eat it later! No need to be wasteful, after all!"
"Wh - wait, what?!"
Alastor swept out of the room, humming something cheerful to himself, and all of the lobby's occupants stared after him, jaws varying levels of dropped. Then, slowly, they all turned to stare at Angel.
"The hell are you chucklefucks lookin' at?" Angel snapped, feeling his face heat with embarrassment.
He curled up in the comfy armchair and hid behind his legs, moodily returning to his phone. Surprisingly - thankfully - nobody attempted to draw an answer from him as to what the hell just happened. Good thing, too, seeing as Angel had no clue himself. What kind of asshole took a joke that seriously? What was Alastor doing, spending so much on an idle request from Angel?
Why was he doing anything for Angel at all?
"I'm heading out," Alastor said once more, his standard farewell. "Is there anything I should grab while I'm out?"
"Bleach!" Niffty requested sweetly from her spot on the mantle, where she was wiping dust from the picture frames.
"Booze," Husk grunted. At Vaggie's disapproving glare, he threw in, "What? Bar's running low."
"Coffee," Angel grumbled into his arms as they started to argue ("you're the one drinking it all!" "my bar, my rules!" "who said it's your bar?!"), his eyelids drooping. It was growing cold out, the miserably freezing temperatures of Hell's winter creeping in, and it was getting very hard to stay awake at reasonable hours. A hot, caffeinated drink would perk him right up.
But when Alastor returned from his outing and Angel turned expectantly to greet him, there was no cup in sight, nor any telltale alluring scent of coffee. His shoulders slumped with disappointment as he turned back to the bar and laid his head in the pillow of his arms once more. Of course Alastor wouldn't get him anything - not after last time, when Angel had tricked him, however unintentionally. The radio demon probably was not willing to take the chance.
"You seem disappointed, my dear!"
"What?" It really was getting to be that time of year; Angel's responses were growing delayed. He propped his head up with his cheek resting against his hand as he peered at Alastor's smiling face. "Oh. Well, a little."
Alastor paused like he was processing the information, then asked with a note of wonder in his tone, "You actually wanted the coffee?"
"It's fine," Angel told him instead of directly confirming it, stifling a yawn. "I'll make it through the day some other way. Maybe Vaggie can kick me awake."
"I apologize," Alastor replied brightly, smile astonishingly sincere. "Had I known you were sincere, I would have taken your request more seriously!"
"Coffee is a very serious matter, Al," Angel sniffed, daring to poke an accusing finger at Alastor's chest. It was a dangerous game, but the radio demon only seemed amused, encouraging Angel. "I will never, ever turn down coffee."
"Noted! How do you take your coffee?"
"If it doesn't rot my teeth, it ain't worth shit," Angel declared intensely, not even lying.
Winter continued to fuck Angel's life over, and the next morning saw him dragging himself out of his room and down to the lobby far, far later than usual. Just in time, in fact, to see Alastor return from his morning errands. whatever they were. Caring little and processing even less, Angel simply drug his feet tiredly, making his way toward the kitchen in search of food. There was a pleasant aroma coming from it; undoubtedly, Niffty had whipped something delightful up.
A light tap on his upper arm stopped him, and he swung his head around, blinking blearily down at Alastor for several long moments.
"What?" he managed gracelessly, and the radio demon chuckled.
"Here you are." Alastor pressed something warm into his hands, ensuring he had a proper grip on it before letting go. "As sweet as you, my dear Angel."
He twirled around and started to leave, humming an old showtune to himself. Angel stared after him a moment, then down at the to-go cup. Coffee. With an incredibly appreciative hum, he lifted the cup to his lips and took a sip - it singed his tongue, but it was loaded with sugar and cream and something like caramel, and altogether was absolute heaven. Whatever it was, it was perfect. Had Alastor gone and picked the sweetest thing on the menu?
As sweet as - ?
" . . . wait a fuckin' second," Angel said suddenly. He stared at Alastor's retreating back as he started to process his words. "What the fuck did you just say to me?!"
It was angry to mask his embarrassment, the flush of his cheeks and stuttering of his heart. He knew fully well what Alastor had said - he just hesitated to believe it. Alastor threw a glance over his shoulder, lifting a brow at the sight of Angel pointing an accusatory finger at him, and waved a dismissive hand in his general direction.
"I don't believe I stuttered, dear fellow," Alastor replied airily, cocking his head playfully. "You, however seem to be stumbling over your words. Not so cocky when you're on the receiving end, hm?"
"You - ! I - t-that's not the same!"
He was definitely mortified at this point, face far too hot and fingers tightening precariously around the cup. But Alastor only threw his head back and laughed, continuing down the hallway until he turned a corner and vanished from sight. All that was left for Angel to do was fume and continue his way to the kitchen, willing his blush to go away
Every morning after, Alastor brought him coffee. Every time, it was sickeningly sweet and perfect to Angel's taste buds. And every time, clear as day, Angel would hear that stupid staticky voice in his head - as sweet as you.
It took ages to figure out a good retort, some way to get back at Alastor, but finally, Angel came up with something.
He took a long drink from the coffee Alastor had just offered him, gave a delighted, vaguely inappropriate hum, and purred, "Sweet as always - as sweet as you, maybe, Strawberry?"
Alastor froze in place, and Angel swore he heard something like a record scratch. For a long moment, Angel stared at his back, sure he had either broken the radio demon or annoyed him badly enough to bring about his own demise, but after Angel had thoroughly accepted his incoming death Alastor glanced at the spider over his shoulder, smile reserved - and were his cheeks pink?
"You would like to know, wouldn't you?"
Angel grinned lopsidedly, leaning back on one elbow. "Hell yeah, I would, hot stuff," he sighed, satisfied with himself.
Alastor only cough into his sleeve in reply, making a beeline for Charlie, who was just entering the room, to avoid the conversation.
"Is there anything anyone needs while I'm out?"
"I'm starved," Angel complained loudly, draping himself dramatically across the plush armchair and sweeping a forearm over his head as though faint. Alastor raised an eyebrow, clearly not buying it.
"And you'd like . . . ?"
"A taste of you," rolled off Angel's lips like silk, and both Vaggie and Husk gave very loud, disgusted groans at the flirtation, almost masking the choked noise the radio demon made in response.
Alastor whirled around quickly, reaching for the door handle and swinging it open as though he could not get away from the situation fast enough. Gratification rippled through Angel at the sight. He was still ruffled at Alastor embarrassing him the other day, and it was endlessly fulfilling to see Alastor experience the same. He planned on continuing until he could forget Alastor had ever been so smooth to him in the first place, and he was well on his way to such.
Angel Dust didn't get flustered. He did the flustering, and even Mr. Scary Radio Demon needed to learn that.
"Ahaha! Well, I'm afraid I'm all out of stock!" Alastor's chortle sounded distinctly strained. "But I'll figure something else out, no worries!"
Almost as soon as the door slammed shut behind him, Charlie piped up, "You're, uh, going pretty hard at him, huh?"
"He tried to play my game, baby," Angel replied, picking idly at his nails and failing miserably at hiding his grin. "Nobody plays Angel Dust at his own game."
From the bar, Husk snorted loudly, something akin to amusement in his perpetually groggy tone. "Alastor wins every game he plays," he grunted amidst entertained chuckles. "He's just learning the ropes."
The words hung in the air ominously, but Angel scoffed, pillowing his head on his upper arms and scrolling social media on his phone with the lower set. There were no rules to his game - as far as he knew, anyway - and no endgame to constitute a win. Besides, Alastor was too much of a baby to get as raunchy as Angel. He'd be left in the dust.
Hah. The Dust. Ugh, Angel wished Alastor was in the Dust.
When the radio demon returned, his smile was cool, clearly over how flustered Angel had made him beforehand. Angel would fix that at the next available opportunity. He still was not over his indignance, and getting such reactions from the radio demon himself gave him an almost addicting rush - he felt powerful.
Angel watched Alastor pass him, lounging lazily in the chair as his eyes followed his prey. He took in the comfortable, confident set of his shoulders, the easy smile, the sound of his laughter as he spoke with Charlie about something Angel could not be bothered to care about. How to taunt this time? How to tease and elicit that cute flush?
"Oh, and Angel," Alastor said, suddenly, making Angel crash back to reality. He lifted a brow at the radio demon as he approached, a sly grin curving his lips.
"Something I can do for - mmf - "
His sultry proposition was abruptly cut off. It took him a second to register the familiar warmth that meant there were lips pressed against his own, and before Angel could muster up the sense to raise his hands and grab Alastor's shirt or face or shove him away or literally do anything the radio demon was pulling back, back straightening from the bow he had stooped to with a very smug look on that stupid face.
Alastor had no cheeky one-liner, merely straightening his lapels and turning away, humming a pleasant tune. Angel gaped like a fish, fingers curled into the chair's cushions, before he abruptly stood, causing the chair to clatter backward noisily.
"What - what the hell!" he shouted, every word he knew suddenly escaping his vocabulary. But Alastor did not look at him, turning off into a hallway, and Angel chased after him on long legs. "Hey, asshole! Don't you run away from me!"
Alastor did not go far; he had only ventured far enough to be out of sight of the lobby, where most of the hotel residents' wandering eyes were located. He waited for Angel with his hands behind his back and that stupid smug grin still plastered on his face. Angel stopped before him, huffing and puffing with indignant words he did not know how to get out.
"You," he finally hissed, pointed an angry finger at his adversary. Alastor placed a hand on his chest as though to ask who, me? "W-What - what the fuck was that?!"
"My dearest Angel," Alastor replied, completely unbothered, "you requested a taste! I only did as asked. Really, hunting me down like this was quite unnecessary."
Angel was too busy making wordless noises of indignance, and did nothing to stop Alastor coming closer to him. The radio demon traced a finger under Angel's chin, who could do nothing but puff his cheeks out in protest, the cheeks in question flaming red. Alastor's finger traveled lower, hooking Angel's bowtie and tugging, jerking Angel down to his level.
"That is, unless," Alastor mused in a low purr rivaling Angel's worst flirtations, "you're still hungry?"
That asshole - that - that fuckhead - he really had figured out his game, and won it, too, and Angel couldn't even be properly mad! The claw he could feel pressing against his throat through Alastor's glove sent chills down his spine, and he swallowed, just for the extra pressure and thrill.
"And if I am?" he asked, voice dipping low and husky. Really, he couldn't be angry, not with Alastor finally playing along. Playing him. Turned out there might actually be an endgame after all.
"Well, we can't have that," Alastor murmured against his lips.
He was sweet, for the record. Angel was going to start requesting some Strawberry with his coffee.