There was very little in Hell that truly got under Alastor's skin.
He could more than easily laugh off a power play, wave aside most insults to his person, and he'd let slide plenty done to him out of the sake of ignorance of the offending party. He only really flexed his dominance when the need arose for it, such as when he displayed for his new Hotel colleagues his intentions to keep the Hotel safe from Sir Pentious. That had been more than enough of a cementing of his role as #1 backer and co-runner of the place.
Husk and Niffty already knew what he was all about, and Vaggie already had a healthy (and intelligent) dose of wariness of his power. Charlie, bless, was all but focused on the good he could do rather than the bad, and gave him the same amount of respect as she gave everyone else. It was a good change of pace to have an equal footing with a colleague.
And Angel Dust...
Oh what a story that had become.
Alastor was not surprised by much of anything anymore, having seen and done plenty even while he was alive. His first general meeting with Angel Dust was a very earnest offer for a blow job when asked what he could do.
No one had ever just frankly propositioned him like that before; no one really ever had the stones to.
Alastor had a good figure of who Angel Dust was and what he was about, having meddled a hand in every bit of media here and there to keep up with news and trends in Hell, and Angel Dust was one of the biggest names in the Second Circle. It was nothing to keep Alastor's interest, so he didn't think much on it at all before seeing the news broadcast of Charlie 'rehabilitating' Angel Dust followed by the unfortunate footage of some territorial dispute the porn star was involved in.
He didn't see much when the station glitched out because of Charlie's brawl with Miss Killjoy until he made his introductions to the Hotel, and the surprises didn't quite stop with that first day.
Angel Dust was persistent, he gave the spider that at least. Alastor was far from the only person with a penis that Angel Dust attempted to woo, but he was the one that Angel Dust always came back to. Always trying to bypass the Five-Foot Rule. Always trying to initiate touch. And then at some point, giving some distance only to watch and observe.
And then Angel came up with that INCREDIBLE proposition.
"I want you to cut me open an' eat me."
It wasn't the proposition itself, so much as the absolute conviction behind it. His station that tapped into other peoples' verbal frequencies could pick up the most subtle of tones, giving him wonderful insight to people's actual motives and intentions, and he could HEAR nothing but a desire to have just that done to him.
Goddamn it, the spider had actually done it.
He'd crawled his way into Alastor's interest with a perfect compromise, and actually came through with Alastor's requests. Was more than happy with the events of the evening, was such a surprisingly enthusiastic participant in being literally cut open and had an organ eaten.
Such a good sport, a decent conversationalist, so fair and flexible in arrangements.
And what was most surprising of all was how much Alastor was enjoying himself and his apparently steady beau.
Angel Dust worked well with mutual boundaries, respecting Alastor's limits and providing compromises for anything further he would want to try.
At this point, he somewhat enjoyed kissing without chewing Angel's tongue out. Didn't mean he didn't take a little bite every so often.
He was well enough aware of what a physical person Angel Dust was, however, and was also aware of Angel's primary profession. He didn't have much of a problem with Angel's work per se, but rather whom Angel worked for.
Valentino wasn't exactly one of Alastor's favorite fellow overlords; Alastor didn't care about Val's line of work, but the man was just plain unpleasant to be around. His very aura made Alastor want to step away and take a shower, and his Five-Foot Rule was VERY strictly enforced when he had to be around him. What was worse, Val was best buddies with Vox, whom Alastor despised even MORE. The fact that the two of them were on the same wavelength in terms of personality was reason enough for Alastor to keep his distance and business separate.
It wasn't much of a surprise that Angel Dust had work with Valentino, and it was a fact he came to accept, seeing as how Angel Dust made rare mention of the man. At first he thought it was out of courtesy of their relationship, but things became way too clear soon enough.
He was lifting a hand to knock on Angel Dust's door when he heard panicked conversation inside.
" -promise, I'll be there as soon as- " Angel's frequency was full of actual fear. "...I didn't mean to -no, no, I'm not procrastinatin', I swear, please, Val- " Alastor actually HEARD a sharp rebuke from the other end of the phone. "....please, Daddy, I'm sorry...I'll be there right away..."
Alastor's end of the arrangement was to not inquire about Angel's job, but he was close to breaking his end of things in order to stop Angel from going. He nearly missed Angel opening the door and almost bumping into him on his way out. "Angel dear-"
"Sorry Al, I gotta go, emergency at work," Angel said quickly, not meeting his eyes as he curved around Alastor. "I should be back toni....tomorrow. I'll be back tomorrow..." He kept his head down as he hurried down the stairs, his aura almost screaming for help all the way out of the Hotel.
Alastor didn't know how tightly he was clenching his microphone until he felt like he was being strangled. He forced his grip to loosen, forced his smile to stay on his face, and forced himself to step downstairs to pass by Charlie's office.
"I'm heading out, Charlie," he said, his voice crackling slightly in a way that put her teeth on edge. He didn't wait for her response before stepping through one doorway and ending up at the base of his radio tower.
Vox's unsportsmanlike (and rude) proclamations of Alastor being 'obsolete' as far as technology and power went were definitely not as true as the over-inflated idiot thought. The other overlord was all show and no tell, leaving nothing to the imagination as far as entertainment and terror went, and relied far too much on what people WANTED to see rather than what they NEEDED to see in order to get the point across.
And be that as it may, as long as there were radio waves and speakers involved, Alastor already had his power established in it, whether he let anyone know it or not. And he let Vox think he didn't understand a lick of it, if anything just to keep his own edge in the competition.
It made great use in keeping tabs on everyone important in Hell, able to listen in through their hellphones. Most of it was usual nonsense he rarely put any stock into, but he always kept important frequencies on instant go-to in case of emergencies.
This constituted emergency.
He walked into his booth, settling in comfortably as he ran his fingers over his station equipment, feeling his power flicker through the radio waves as he tuned into the frequency of Porn Studio and Val's phone, able to hear clear as day what was going on.
Val was making pointless calls between rooms of his studio getting feedback from writers and editors, and making a call up for some lunch before Alastor heard a shift in tone.
"You took your sweet time, Angelcake."
Alastor felt his smile twitch at Val's pet name for Angel Dust, hearing an undertone of malice with it rather than affection.
"...I'm sorry, Boss," Angel's voice replied, sounding so small in a way that was completely undeserving of someone like VAL of all people. "It won't happen again."
"Oh Angel Angel Angel," Val drawled, each syllable grinding against Alastor's nerves. "You shouldn't make promises you can't keep. After all, you promised you'd make pay this month, and ya came up short."
"And how you promised you wouldn't let this silly little 'rehab' Hotel bullshit interfere with your work?"
"It isn't -"
"Angel baby. Shut up." Val's voice was lifted in a tone as though he were speaking to an untrained dog. "I've been so good to you, haven't I? Hasn't Daddy been good to you? Gave you a place to work, to live, to eat? Haven't I given you any little high you want?"
Silence for both ends for awhile.
"....you seein' another Daddy on the side, Angel baby?"
"You took a little long to answer that, Angel. Are you seeing another Daddy on the side?"
"Angel....don't FUCKIN' LIE TO ME!"
There was a sharp slapping sound followed by a crash like Angel had been thrown against a shelf. In the radio booth, the windows began to crack.
"Now you're making me bruise the merchandise," Val sighed dramatically. "Honestly, baby, haven't you learned by now that no one's gonna have the time and patience for Hell's star whore except for me? This is where you belong, Angelcake, not at some pipe dream rehab hotel or with some rando who thinks he can give you what I can." There was a sound of Valentino walking across the room to Angel Dust. "Come back home, baby. You've played pretend long enough."
Angel let out a deep sob, and Alastor could hear Val hissing out fake little words of comfort. It went on for several long minutes before Valentino walked back to his desk.
"Go get your stuff, Angel baby, and come back home. Your old room is still there. You can even bring your little pig if you want. Aren't I such a good Daddy?"
Angel sniffled, his voice weak and beaten. "...yes, Daddy."
"Good boy. You've got two hours."
There was a call made for a ride set up for Angel before Angel left, and Alastor heard Valentino let out a groan.
"Stupid whore," the overlord hissed, slamming his fist on his desk. "Gonna have to recondition the shit out of him. If he wasn't such a cash cow, I'd have exterminated him like the fucking pest he is ages ago." He pressed a pager button. "Taz, get the Colombian Devil's Breath ready and put it in those stupid milkshakes the spider likes."
Alastor cut the transmission, sitting back in his chair with the closest thing to a scowl on his face he had since he had to play nice at the last shindig Vox invited him to. A million ideas ran through his head all at once, of things to say, to do...
He only had to pick one.
Angel Dust said nothing as he reentered the Hotel, making a beeline for the stairs up to his room without acknowledging anyone else en route.
Concerning, albeit a familiar one to the staff. Angel always needed a day or two of recovery time whenever he returned from his 'job', and it still took a few days more for him to fully get back to normal. Several times, Charlie told him that the Hotel would take care of everything he needed and that he didn't need to go back and forth to work. Whether his response was silence or lashing out, the underlying fear was still there, and it was unbreakable.
Charlie looked after Angel's retreating back, wondering what had been done to him in the short time he'd been gone that would cause such a broken look, clenching her hands at her sides. "....he can't keep going there," she said, pacing around. "He can't, he just CAN'T..."
"And it can't be helped," Husk spoke up, a flicker of concern on his own face. "Contracted workers are bound to th' soul until time runs out or debts are paid off. Tryin' to keep him here would bring Valentino's entire estate right to th' goddamn door, and that's a hellova lot harder to get rid of than the snake bastard." He took a swig from his bottle. "Bein' high profile ain't always good, Princess. Best you can do for him is give him a place to come back to."
Charlie sighed, sitting down hard and putting her head in her hands. "...if only Al hadn't left, he'd know what to do," she murmured.
Angel mechanically walked into his room, looking around slowly at the little space of home he'd made for himself here and feeling a painful tug in his chest that almost brought him to his knees.
He didn't want to leave.
He didn't want to go back to Val full time.
He didn't want to be a toy in the Studio, only to be brought out when needed and then thrown back into his room without a word or anyone to make sure he was okay.
But it was the only place he felt that he had a cemented place in.
He'd been drop-kicked right down into Valentino's territory right at death, his sins anchoring him right back to where he'd been in life, only he felt that he was doing something RIGHT for once. In Hell, no one cared about his clothing preferences, his sexuality, his mannerisms. He had an impressive client list from his first week in Hell, and he was the most popular porn actor of this current generation, more than forty years running.
But he wouldn't have had the safety from the truer terrors of Hell without a pimp, and a pimp was the price he paid in order to still be alive today between overzealous stalker fans and Exterminations alike.
He tried telling himself that the Hotel could help. That being under the care of the Princess of Hell herself would get him just as much protection, but it wasn't that simple. Of course it wasn't. The Hotel was a fancy hostel and nothing more, with not even Lucifer himself overseeing anything the Princess was doing, and even she didn't know what she was doing half the time.
And things were going so well after Alastor showed up and began making this place a safety reality...
But the fact remained that he was a patron here, a guest.
This wasn't his home.
Angel dropped to his knees, his shoulders shaking with phantom pains of being cut open with such care and mutual delight as compared to being paid to do something he wasn't even invested in. It felt like the realest part of being here, reaching out and having an actual, mutual relationship of sorts with someone he actually liked and respected.
....if only he'd met Alastor first...maybe he'd....maybe he still COULD-
Angel hit the floor with his fist, scowling to himself. He could never ask Alastor for something like that. What right did a simple whore in Hell have to ask an overlord -one who cared nothing for his profession even- for such a huge favor?
He sat back on his legs, rubbing his damp face hard as he reached under his bed and grabbed a suitcase. He was a fleeting guest in the hotel, breezing by, he told himself, his thoughts browbeating him down heavily. Nothing to stay on the radar of either a princess or an overlord. A new patron would come in, do better, BE better, and he'd just be a passing memory.
As he stood to grab a few things from his closet, he almost jumped when the sound of static crackled back towards his bed. "Al!?" he yelped, turning back to his room, though instead of seeing Alastor standing in his room, he saw something he was SURE was not there when he left earlier that day.
An old-fashioned radio sat on his bedside table, the wood gleaming like brand new in the dim lighting of his bedroom. He frowned, walking over to it and hearing it crackle with static although it didn't seem to have any means of plugging it in. The station display flickered a soft red color, the station numbers almost glowing invitingly.
He felt a lump in his throat, thinking that this had been a gift from Alastor that had been dropped off after he left. He clenched his hands tightly, knowing that Valentino would never allow something like this in the Studio, and quelled down the urge to scream and punch the wall.
Beside him, the radio crackled again, the dial shifting on its own between stations as a voice came through.
"....lo...? Hello, is the frequency coming in alright?"
Angel's head snapped up, looking at the radio. "...Al?" He jumped when soft laughter came in through the speakers.
"Of course, who else would be using such a trademarked item, dear?" Alastor's voice came in as clear as if he was in the room, albeit using his radio voice. It was a little odd hearing it as he should through the radio itself, though. "In any case, this is something new I wanted to try with you!"
Angel slumped down on the bed, rubbing his face hard. "...Al...this...this ain't the best time..."
"Nonsense!" Alastor retorted, and Angel could almost see the other demon grinning into his microphone, gesticulating dramatically. "In fact, this is the absolute best time to do this!"
"You see, I haven't done a decent broadcast in awhile," Alastor spoke on, a barely-audible sound of footsteps in the background. "Too many people focused primarily on screens, too used to seeing something instead of really WITNESSING it, you know? And as much as I would love to expand this little idea of mine further, I wanted to try this out with you first!"
Angel scrubbed hard at his face, his clawtips almost catching his fur. "Al, stop," he said, hating how his voice broke at the end. "Look, if you wanna talk, then....fuck, I don't know how to say this -"
"Then think about it while you listen, ange araignée," Alastor replied. "Look at the station, Angel, and tell me what number it is."
Angel let out a heavy sigh, leaning closer to the radio and seeing that the dial was turned to station 9.07. "...Nine-dot-o-seven," he replied. "...what about it?"
There was a soft crackling that almost sounded comforting. "Dear, that's the day of our first date," Alastor replied. "And a special station that only THIS frequency can access. I pinpointed and isolated it myself, so no one can reach it but you and I."
Angel pressed a hand to his mouth, fresh tears running down his face. "...Al, I -"
"And in that vein of things," Alastor continued, "it's a station that will now run a broadcast for you, and you alone. You are my only audience for this special feature, my dear. I only hope you don't mind that I have another guest star for this one." Before Angel could say anything about that, he heard the sound of creaking metal and a bang like a door being broken open.
"What the fuck -!?" came Valentino's voice, almost making Angel fumble the radio in his hands. "Alastor, to what do I owe the...pleasure?"
Angel didn't know if it was present where Alastor was, but he could hear distorted creaking and snapping from his end of things through the tinny static.
"Please, Valentino, the pleasure is all mine, I assure you," Alastor said, his voice dropping an octave before the sound of more metal creaking and otherworldly screeching sounds reached Angel's ears.
Angel recognized some of these sounds; Alastor's old broadcasts held similar sound that left LOADS to the imagination.
It suddenly struck him what it was he was about to listen to, and he felt his breath catch hard in his chest as though his lungs had been stolen away.
Oh sweet Satan...!
"What in the Nine Circles do you think you're doing, Alastor!?" Valentino snapped. "How DARE you just -" He was cut off with a sharp yelp, it sounding like he had been slammed into his desk hard enough to shatter it. "FUCK-"
"Be sure to articulate properly, Valentino!" Alastor chirped in his best announcer voice. "You don't want to disappoint my wonderful audience!"
"Alastor wha -FUCK!- " There was a sharp snapping that sounded like a limb being crushed. "SHIT, FUCK, GET OFF -!"
"Well I'm trying to, but there's simply not enough blood!" Alastor replied cheekily, startling a laugh out of Angel Dust. "Oh, you like that joke, dear? I suppose just for this station I can get a little saucy." There was a softer cracking sound. "Though if you tell anyone, I'll deny it completely."
Angel let out a wet laugh again, hugging a pillow to his chest.
"Who the fuck are you talking to!?" Valentino snarled. "Are you fucking BROADCASTING this!?"
"I sure am!" Alastor said cheerfully. "And I'm only broadcasting to one person, so I have to make it count." Angel heard Alastor snap his fingers. "Now then, darling, your input please...would you rather his bones be snapped out of his body, or would you rather he be skinned alive?"
Angel bit his lip hard, his hold on his pillow tightening. "...Al...are you...are you fuckin' serious...?" he murmured. "Is this really happenin'?"
"It really is, ange araignée," Alastor replied, his voice almost tender before picking the tone back up. "Now, bones or skin?"
Angel buried his face in his pillow, getting the overly-sugared fluffy feeling in his chest out before turning back to the radio. "Skin," he said. "An' he keeps hand sanitizer in his desk," he added as an afterthought. "I heard that shit STINGS on open sores."
He swore he heard a rumbling growl on the other end of the radio. "Now dear, we had an agreement about dirty talk, didn't we?" he said, the exaggerated sound of a knife being dragged on some surface ringing through the speaker. "And anyway, lemon juice is much worse."
"Hypocrite," Angel shot back, his head buzzing with disbelief that this was actually happening.
"I didn't get to Hell being a good person, dear," Alastor said, his voice almost drowned out by snapping sounds and Valentino letting out a loud string of profanity. There was a sound of a knife roughly cutting through clothing and Valentino's swearing was cut off with a gagged choking sound. "Do try to stay still, Valentino, I like a certain neatness to my slaughter."
Angel laid on his side in bed, hugging the pillow tighter as he took in the sound of wet slices of a knife, blood dripping onto the floors Val kept so pristine, and Val screaming himself hoarse, the sound becoming more desperate and horrendous as time went on. Through it all, Alastor kept his tone conversational and light, giving little detail in the way of what he was doing and leaving it all to Angel Dust's imagination.
And what an image it was.
For the life of him, Angel couldn't even see Val in his mind's eye as he listened to the massacre through the radio. All he could see was Alastor, could practically imagine the demon at work with coat neatly removed, sleeves rolled up, and up to his elbows in nothing but wet red, paying no mind at all to any blood splattered on his clothes or person.
Best of all, he could imagine Alastor's smile, never wavering and razor sharp and jovial as ever, as though he was discussing exciting current events rather than skinning someone alive.
He loved that smile, the one that Alastor always wore whenever Angel was being harvested or filleted or having his tongue chewed out for their rare kisses. It was a special one that just did it for Angel, and the idea of Alastor having that smile the entire time he was skinning alive Angel's nightmare-inducing existential-bane of a pimp in a process that had gone on for well over an hour (Alastor never liked to rush his work)...it was perfect.
Angel Dust buried his face in his plush pillow, keeping his moans muffled so he could hear while stroking himself off to Alastor's work. Alastor already said he didn't mind whatever noises Angel made -so long as they were genuine- he didn't want to miss a moment of potential visuals.
Shit, this was better than phone sex, Angel thought with a thrill as he imagined tuning into new broadcasts of Alastor's in the future, although nothing could compare to this one here, a radio show just for him.
And Alastor KNEW how Angel was taking this. It was definitely like phone sex; there was no way Alastor couldn't hear him moaning through the radio, no reason for Alastor to be cracking un-Alastor-like jokes for Angel's enjoyment.
He wondered if it would be pushing the envelope to ask for this sort of thing the next time he was cut open.
Baby steps, Angel Dust. Take this grain of sugar first.
He could hear wet, ragged gasping from Valentino now, accentuated by Alastor whistling a soft jazzy tune. "Quite a bit of a mess in here," Alastor remarked. "I don't envy the one who has to clean this up. But since we're coming to a close here, should I introduce my audience to our special guest?"
Angel blinked, realizing that throughout this whole time, Alastor hadn't mentioned him by name once. He sat up, feeling a rush of overwhelming euphoria at the idea of Valentino knowing just who exactly he'd been skinned alive for, and that was what drove him to orgasm, not bothering at all to muffle himself from moaning Alastor's name.
"GodDAMN, let that sonofabitch know, Al!" he groaned, flopping back on his bed, grinning and catching his breath before rolling over onto his stomach, grinning at the radio. "Although, and make sure he's paying attention, okay?"
"He's all ears, darling!" Alastor piped up after a moment, and Angel could practically hear Val drowning in his own blood-filled lungs. Angel grinned, leaning in closer.
"I lied, Val," he said, making sure his voice was clear and steady. "I do have a new Daddy -"
"Ugh, fine, a new overlord. Take away my fun, whydoncha...but anyway, he ain't 'some rando', an' he gives me a hellova lot more than you ever did. Hell, I'm sure I give him more fun bein' strung up an' cut open than you do."
"That y'do, sha," Alastor said, dropping his radio voice. "I'm 'bout done on this end, so I'll see ya soon back home." There was a bit of wet rustling like he was adjusting a body for disposal. "Come by my place 'round eight, an' I'll cook ya somethin' nice."
Angel smiled at the radio, running his hand over it. "You spoil me, Al," he said softly. "I'll be there. Take yer time, I need a shower and a nap."
"Wear somethin' nice," Alastor said before the radio went silent.
Angel smiled at it, running his hands over the casing for a few moments before turning the dial, finding one of the stations from Alastor's tower that played old music and settled down for that nap, hoping and praying that all of this wasn't just the best dream ever.
When Alastor walked through the doors some time later, Charlie didn't even have time to speak up to him about checking up on Angel Dust before the Radio Demon was speed-walking past and removing his jacket. "Wait, Al -"
"I need the kitchen for the next few hours!" Alastor chirped, rolling his sleeves up and looking excited in a way that made Husk want to hunker down until the all-clear and Niffty's 'overhaul cleaning imminent' senses tingle. He doubled back around the corner, pointing upstairs. "Oh, and leave Angel Dust be for awhile, he's had a long day."
"...he was gone for two hours, what in the world is -" The sound of the kitchen door slamming shut cut Charlie off, making her step back as the wood seemed to be burning, turning red from the middle outward and sprouting his antlered monogram plaque. "....going on." She ran a hand down her face, sighing. "Seriously, some context would be nice."
Husk poured her out a Shirley Temple, sliding it over to her. "Trust me, Princess, context is the absolute last thing you want from Alastor. It's best you just let him do his thing and pretend it's nothing nightmare-inducing. For instance, I'm imagining he's actually cooking food in there."
"...what else would he need the kitchen for?"
"Oh you sweet summer child."
Angel Dust blinked awake from his nap to the sound of soft blues playing on his radio, feeling like a million bucks.
He wasn't in pain, he wasn't hungover, he wasn't crashing from a high. Maybe the Hotel really did send him to Heaven, he thought as he sat up with a stretch, filled with excitement at his dinner later with Alastor.
Cranking up the volume to be heard in the bathroom, Angel slipped out of his clothes and went to run a bath, choosing to use some bath milk instead of his fragrant bubble bath. He'd learned some time ago about Alastor's oversensitive sense of smell, which was probably why the man didn't like sweets all that much. Fair enough, since certain cheap-sweet sprays even gave Angel a headache from time to time.
He let himself soak for awhile in the hot water, listening to the music in the other room and reminiscing about Alastor's little broadcast gift, mulling over it more than he originally thought he should.
For all intents and purposes, Alastor had all but freed him from Valentino, and had done so on a whim. It made his whole body heat and quiver, thinking about such raw power Alastor had that he would have the man kill another overlord as a spontaneous date idea and still have enough expendable energy to have a secondary dinner date in the same day.
Angel was SURE the weight of all this monumental baggage would hit him at some point, but he would rather be wined and dined before that happened. Anxiety attacks on an empty stomach were draining.
He finished soaking and dried off, checking the time to see he still had about an hour. Plenty of time, but then he would still have to search around the Hotel for Alastor's door. He finished drying his fur and picked around his closet for something nice to wear, smiling when he found a good outfit for the night that he still wouldn't mind having to either ditch or scrub clean later.
Makeup over the eyes, file his claws neatly, tug on a button-up shirt, adjust his chest fluff evenly, and then pull on a knee-length pencil skirt and a matching blazer, looking in the mirror. He looked like a secretary, he thought, rolling his eyes and tugging a tie on. The things he did for Alastor...but at least he was in a skirt for a date this time. He tugged on some boots and adjusted the outfit neatly before heading out early to take his time looking for Alastor's door.
Almost twenty minutes later, he huffed as he made his way to the ground floor; up and down each room floor, and nothing. The least he could have done was tell him where the damn door was this time.
Angel rounded some corners, looking for the telltale red door and passing the others in the lobby. Charlie jumped up, looking worried as she rushed over.
"Angel, are you okay?" she asked. "You looked so upset when you came home earlier!"
He kept an eye around the doors as he talked. "I'm fine, Princess," he replied. "Had a bad day, but it got better. You seen th' red door anywhere down here?"
Charlie glanced in the direction of the kitchen. "...Al shanghaied the kitchen a few hours ago," she said. "Made the doorknob vanish and everything, saying he didn't want to be disturbed-"
"Perfect, thanks." He walked past her and toward the kitchen, disregarding her following with worry. As he approached the door, the brass doorknob reappeared, ready and waiting. "Dramatic cervine," he muttered, grabbing it and turning it left, frowning a little when it wouldn't make the turn. "...okaaaay..." He chanced a turn right with it, and the door clicked open. "Neato." He walked in, shutting the door behind him, and Charlie saw the doorknob vanish again.
"...Husk, I have a question -"
"FUCK THAT NOISE!"
Angel Dust looked around the new area quietly, feeling a thick heaviness of enclosed coziness around him. It was an old-fashioned home that was lined with shelves full of neatly-arranged books and knickknacks, vintage radios here and there, and a wall dedicated to taxidermy animal heads and a shotgun mounted on a display rack.
"Classy," he remarked, smiling a little.
"Why, thank you!" Alastor piped up next to him, almost making him jump. "Like I said, it's nice to have some hominess down here. Did you have trouble finding my door?" Angel gave him a dry look that Alastor returned with a cheeky smile. "Anyway, ready for dinner?"
"Sure," Angel said, looking around. "Don't know why you'd want me t' stain th' nice floors in here..."
"Oh no no no," Alastor said with a soft laugh, turning on heel and walking off. "You're not here to BE dinner, my dear, you're here to HAVE dinner. I cooked."
Angel felt his cheeks warm as he followed Alastor across the large room to a space set up with a table and two chairs that looked out of place, as though Alastor had cleared out living room furniture for a meal 'indoors'. Alastor smiled, pulling out one of the chairs and gesturing for Angel to sit down, pushing him in. "I actually feel like a gentleman, Al," he said, looking at the meal set out, his stomach growling a little.
"You look like one too," Alastor said, sitting himself down.
"Skirt an' all?"
"I said what I said." Alastor took the lids off of the serving pots, showing off rice and a rich thick stew with baguette slices and hot sauce bottles on the side. "Dig right in, darlin'."
Angel smiled, the warmth in his face getting warmer as he piled on some rice to his plate and topped it with the stew, mixing for a moment before taking a bite. "...oh my god, Al, this is incredible."
Alastor beamed, breaking a piece off of his bread and dipping it in the stew. "I take it y'like it then?" he asked, watching Angel take several more large bites, hardly chewing.
"I haven't had food like this in forever!" Angel replied, taking a mouthful of bread. "Where'd you learn t' cook like this?"
Alastor's smile went a little soft. "I had my mother to thank for that," he replied. "Best cook in N'Orleans, but chose to feed th' neighbors rather than customers." He took a few bites of food. "Sweetest woman y'ever met, too. Never a bad word t' say 'bout anyone." He chuckled. "Then again, y'd never THOUGHT she'd say anythin' bad. Smile sweetly enough, people think a curse is a blessin'."
Angel smiled. "A strawberry right off th' vine, huh?" he asked, spearing through a piece of celery. "Ma taught me an' Molly to cook too." His eyes lowered slightly. "Heh...talk about sweet women...I think she knew more about me before I did...I used t' think she was joking when she said I should learn t' cook t' make a man happy, but..." He sighed, tipping back a swig of wine. "...Kinda wish she'd have been there when I was older...I prolly wouldn't have gotten as low as I had."
"Oh fuck yeah, she'd have whipped th' shit outta me for messin' with drugs!" Angel laughed, running a hand down his face before settling down. "But because o' her, I at least knew how to take care o' myself when I left home. Tailored all my own clothes, cooked my own food...maybe I woulda made a man happy." He propped his head up on his hand, taking another few bites in silence.
Alastor swirled his wine quietly. "Regrets of th' past, no?" he said. "Sometimes they weigh ya down, sometimes they feel trivial compared t' who y'are and what ya do here now." He took a sip. "We died too young t'figure that part out, but that youthful optimism makes things more excitin' here, doesn't it?"
Angel snorted, giving him a little smile. "Speak for yourself old man, you were like, what, fifty?"
Alastor put an affronted hand to his chest. "Thirty-three, I'll have you know!" he retorted. "Coincidentally, my death year."
"...Nineteen forty-seven," Angel put in himself, taking a sip of his own wine. "...hey, Al? Can I ask you somethin'?"
"With limits, yes," Alastor replied, watching Angel weigh his words carefully before speaking.
"...why'd you do that? Go after Valentino?" Angel put his glass down, looking Alastor in the eye. Alastor buttered another piece of bread quietly, his smile widening a little.
"You're aware that those demons such as ourselves that have animal attributes sometimes have a tendency to display behaviors of said animal," he finally answered. "One of death's little mysteries, perhaps, but...it's a fact." He took a bite of the bread before chasing it with a forkful of stew. "Much like how you, as a male spider, are brighter and flashier, and have a tendency to pinpoint your interests in a partner that will more than likely demolish you if you fail to perform to a certain standard." He put his fork down, folding his hands under his chin.
"While I as a buck tend to be more than a little possessive and territorial with what I consider mine."
Angel was CERTAIN his face was bright red, mouth moving but unable to properly speak for a few long moments while Alastor's smile glinted in the dim light. Angel sat back, burying his face in his hands, making a high-pitched keen of embarrassment.
"Jeezus fuck, Al, you can't just say shit like that!" he whined, scrubbing his face. "I mean, ya can't really mean -"
"Mean what? That within the time we've had this unconventional relationship, I feel more than a little compelled to make sure that you're being taken care of? That some parasite of a pissant overlord would demand your time and attention, getting his disgusting scent over you, throwing around his weight and affluence without an ounce of backbone to show for it?" Alastor's smile was as angry as it was sharp, his radio voice returning with sharp static permeating his voice. On the other side of the room, the radio collection glitched and crackled between stations.
Alastor's folded hands clenched as he lowered them to the table's surface. "Normally, I would not bother dirtying my hands with something like that, but after making a threat to take away what is mine...he simply had to go." His smile upturned, the oppressive miasma of the room lifting. "A superior overlord brandished his antlers and won. It's a matter as simple as that. Oh, speaking of!"
He reached into his jacket and took out a red sealed envelope, setting it down on the table. Angel stared at it, feeling his whole body shake as he recognized it as his contract.
"By all intents and purposes, as the usurper of his territory, his contracts become mine as well," Alastor continued. "I burned the others, had no need for them, but I wanted to return yours personally."
Angel reached out and took his contract with shaking fingers, holding the envelope in his hands. It felt so heavy, he thought, running his thumb over the surface, like a burden he didn't know he wanted back.
He remembered how light he felt after signing himself over to Valentino; back then he simply thought he was getting an easier break, giving the hard parts of his life over to someone else to take care of. It took years for him to realize how much power he'd handed over, the very burden of his soul in a golden safe in Valentino's office, where it would remain for as long as the overlord saw fit to keep it. Getting the full expanse of his soul back was a power so few would be willing to give up, considering contracted souls could never grow further in power. It was one of the ways Hell governed itself, keeping the flow of power gathered in as tight a circle as they could.
And Alastor had handed it right over.
Simple as that.
Angel stared at the envelope for the longest time before taking a shaking breath and letting it out, bracing himself before snapping his hand out toward Alastor.
Alastor's smile twitched, looking more deer-in-the-headlights than ever. "Pardon?"
"I..." Angel swallowed, his hand trembling. "...I'm not ready, Al. I'm not ready to just...HAVE this kind of freedom." He looked up, eyes serious. "For nearly my entire time here...I've had my soul put into someone else's hands. I...I'm honestly scared t' death of what havin' freedom would do to me." His mouth twitched into a wary smile. "...this is who I am, Al...I'm just someone who needs someone else t' keep me, or I'll just destroy myself. Learned that well enough in life after Ma died..." He let out a humorless laugh, his hand shaking a little before he collected himself, steeling his eyes.
"...Call me a goddamn bleedin' soft heart, but right now, there's no overlord in Hell I'd trust with this than you. Shit, no one PERIOD I'd trust with this than you. So take it. It's yours."
Static and shifting stations flickered around Alastor's aura as the Radio Demon looked between the envelope and Angel's face. "...do you even know what you are asking of me?"
Angel nodded, his hand going steady. "Yeah," he said. "I'm givin' my soul contract to my new overlord." He paused, then went for broke. "An', y'know...my boyfriend...or whatever."
Alastor blinked before bursting out into laughter; his REAL laughter, without any of the radio toning or pomp behind it. "Oh goodness, Angel dear!" he breathed, a hand on his chest. "How absolutely FORWARD o' you! Offering ya soul t' me AND giving an official title t' our relationship?" He leaned his head on his hand, grinning widely. "What an eventful day."
Angel's jaw twitched. "...you makin' fun o' me, Al?" he asked, trepidation in his voice. Alastor laughed again, softer this time.
"Not at all, mon ange araignée," he replied, reaching over and taking the envelope from Angel's hand. "I'm simply surprised that you would be so trusting in someone like me. This is no less dangerous than giving someone a holy spear kill switch to your heart."
"...yeah," Angel replied, wringing his hands. "I know."
Alastor tapped his fingers against the envelope. "Well, you leave me little choice, my dear. I accept." He smiled, opening the envelope and taking out the slip of thick paper inside before manifesting an ornate red fountain pen and signing something with a flourish.
Angel hissed softly, feeling a hard shift somewhere in his soul that just felt DIFFERENT somehow. He was still him, that much was true, but it was like he had been instantly teleported from one extreme atmosphere to another. He rubbed his chest, watching Alastor tuck the paper back into the envelope and resealing it with a black seal with a little red hoofprint pattern before tucking it into his jacket once more.
"Welcome aboard, Angel Dust," Alastor chirped. "I'm sure Husk and Niffty would be happy to give you the ropes later, after I give you your initiation."
"Is it mandatory?"
"Unfortunately. Much like hazing."
"I'm afraid to ask."
"Well, you've already passed, if it makes you feel better." Alastor piled on more rice and stew to both of their plates before eating a bite, his smile almost going sharper. "Tell me, did you REALLY like my cooking?"
Angel took a bite of his own. "Of course, Al, why would I lie about that?"
"Oh, I know you're not lying." Alastor took a sip of wine, watching Angel eat another bite. "Most people get touchy about my cooking, but these past few months have let me know that you accept my tastes wholeheartedly. I just wanted to share that with you."
Another forkful of stew paused halfway between the plate and Angel's mouth. Angel glanced down at it, noting for the first time that he hadn't thought to ask what sort of stew it actually was. "...Al..." he said slowly, looking up and seeing Alastor's grin widen. "...this isn't beef or pork, is it?"
"Noooo," Alastor drew out, taking a long sip of his wine.
"What is it?"
"Better question!" A wider grin. "Who is it?"
Angel looked at his fork again, staring for the longest time before putting it into his mouth, chewing and swallowing. "...okay..." he ventured, "...who is it?"
"Absolutely no one of importance!" Alastor chirped, taking another forkful for himself. "But I'm glad you still enjoy my cooking regardless."
Angel smiled a little, finishing off his plate. "If the rest o' your cooking is as good as this, I'll eat my own damn father," he said earnestly, draining his wine and sitting back. "...excitin' day indeed. I get a radio show of my pimp bein' skinned alive, my contract given to someone a million times better, an' if I wasn't hearin' a rejection, an official beau."
"No rejections here," Alastor said. "We can hash out the details later." He sat back, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "I'll have a busy schedule reorganizing my new territory, but I'll be sure to make time for you, give you a proper rundown of my setup, the works." He smiled. "Sound good?"
Angel smiled back. "Sounds great, Al," he replied. "Really." He wrung his hands for a moment before going bold, leaning over the table. "Care for some dessert?"
"Why yes, I would love some strawberry sorbet!" Alastor said, snapping his fingers and making two cups of sorbet appear. He chuckled at the look on Angel's face, then leaned over and grabbed Angel's tie, pulling him closer and kissing him. Angel groaned, leaning into it and offering his tongue for Alastor to bite.
And so he did, taking a small chunk off and swallowing it before leaning back and grinning at Angel with bloody teeth. "The sorbet should ease that burn a little, dear," he said, taking a spoonful of sorbet and eating it.
Angel did the same, the taste of blood and strawberry filling his mouth and indeed putting a little numbing on the missing piece of his tongue. "....t'ought 'ou 'in' 'ike swee's," he mumbled out.
"Blood evens out the sugar," Alastor replied with a smile, eating his sorbet with Angel until the desserts were gone, standing and pulling Angel's chair out for him.
Angel stood up, swallowing residual blood in his saliva as he walked with Alastor through the large room, spotting more bookshelves, a desk with stacks of files and -were those fucking voodoo dolls?- other things with another gun displayed on the wall, and a small bed tucked in the corner that didn't seem to have a lot of use.
"Y'got guns?" he asked, his tongue still tender. Alastor smiled, nodding.
"Did a fair bit o' huntin' in life," he said, using his natural voice. "Got good at it, liked th' amount o' blood it made. Used it when I needed a lot o' blood."
Angel arched a brow. "Dare I as' why?"
Alastor's eyes glowed softly. "Ya can. Can't promise you'll like it."
"...maybe nex' date."
"You'll find out soon 'nough, darlin'," Alastor said ominously, walking to his door. "...Angel." He looked up, smile still in place but eyes serious. "I'm not th' type o' person you'd usually go for. I can't promise ya a damn thing when it comes t' intimacy -"
"Al." Angel lifted a hand, smiling back. "I'm bein' serious when I say righ' now, sex is 'e las'ing on my mind wi' you. Sexy as ya are." His hand flexed for a moment before he lightly touched Alastor's arm. "Wha' you've given me is so much bedda. Cross 'em bridges when we ge' dere, eh?"
Alastor beamed. "Fair 'nough, sha," he said, opening the door for Angel. Angel gave a little wave, heading out before he felt a hand grab his own, turning and seeing Alastor raise his hand up to kiss the knuckles, his smile almost predatory. "G'night, darlin'," he said, letting go of Angel's hand and closing the door.
Angel let out a soft whimper; just like that, sex was back in the top three Most Important slots of his priorities. He turned to leave back to his room to scream into a pillow like a prepubescent girl when he saw Charlie and Vaggie peering around the corner with wide eyes and slack jaws.
Well. They'd know about all of this soon enough.
He straightened his blazer and strolled right past them like he was performing the walk of shame after a date with all the pride in the world. He had every reason to be proud, anyway, he thought, grinning widely at Vaggie's exclamation,
"You've gotta be shitting me."
Aaaand of course I have more ideas for this vein of thought.
Previews for the next segment include Alastor and Angel figuring their way around their unique tastes, more cannibalism, a bit of a power play from both of them, and Vox being a massive dick.
Thanks for all your reviews and support, and see you in part three!