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Trials and Errors (and More Dinner Dates)

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"Any troubles from Tower Beta?"

"Nope!  All running smoothly!"

"Wonderful.  I'll have to drop by to get some details hashed out, but it shouldn't take more than an hour."

"I'll make sure they're ready for your arrival!"

"Many thanks, and goodbye!"  Alastor's glowing eyes dimmed as he set his microphone aside, tidying his Hotel office desk while several little shadows busied themselves around him.  Goodness, running both an expanded territory and the Hotel was some work, he thought, standing and walking over to the window overlooking Pentagram City.

In the distance, where the gaudy light of the former Porn Studio once glowed, there was now a tall tower that twinned his first in the Southern Corner, the structure like a flag staking claim on the area.  

Oh, the cries of terror and shock that overtook the area when it was being erected on top of the old Studio building, no one being fool enough to contest his claim once they saw what very little remained of Alastor's time with Valentino.

Alastor had his own reputation over the years, built from his broadcasts of demolishing and devouring prior overlords and spreading his reach all over the Southern Corner to make it entirely his.  For him to have this little piece of real estate in the Northwest would most definitely raise more than a few defenses from the other overlords, but Alastor didn't care much for that.

At the moment, he was more concerned with the misplaced denizens of Valentino's old contracted workers and allies.

With so many workers in the Studio now without work or homes and Angel Dust bringing up the point that a good many of them were even worse off than he was, Alastor made a personal appearance to them and offered them new jobs within the refurbished Studio, putting the writers and actors to work with making radio shows, music, a new news announcement segment, etc.  Most of them were on board, desperate to not be kicked out into the city without homes or protection.

A good handful, however, jumped ship entirely and made their way to Vox's territory.

Curiously enough, even with Alastor's new entertainment project up and coming, the other overlord was silent through Alastor's takeover.  

It would be foolish to assume that Vox would have cut his losses and moved on.  Alastor knew that the two overlords were entwined allies and that Valentino's demise cut off a huge chunk of power for Vox himself.  Being quiet now only meant a storm coming later.  

He'd set that bridge on fire when he crossed it, he thought, straightening his jacket and heading out toward his new tower.  For now, he had several departments to visit and new workers to oversee.

 

Alastor hadn't felt that he'd been 'blessed' by much since arriving in Hell, but really, thank goodness for the old Studio secretaries.

A good number of them had stayed behind when Alastor announced his takeover, and seemed overly grateful for a change in pace, as well as a boss that wasn't 'a complete cockhole', as Head Secretary Marissa said.

Going through the Studio to peruse what needed to be overhauled was...interesting.  He'd seen enough of Angel Dust's paraphernalia to not be surprised at all, but it was different seeing GROUPS of people in the same general vein of life here, the majority looking frightened of the unknown as opposed to the new owner of the place being THE Radio Demon himself.  A handful of the bolder souls seemed eager to get on his good side in the wrong way, and he was very quick to shut that nonsense down and make it PERFECTLY CLEAR that this was not a pornography studio anymore, and that he was not a pimp, very much let alone one who would ask for any form of sexual favors.  

He confirmed to them all that he had burned all of the contracts Valentino held over anyone who had one and that they were free to stay or leave at their leisure, but this place would not be at all the same as it was before.

He was pleased at the number of people eager to flex their skills in other ways, be it with show writing, acting, DJ-ing, or journalism and PR, and within a week -with his aid, of course- the gaudy lights and displays of the old Porn Studio were gone and a new tower was constructed on top of the building, which itself was overturned into something with much more...well, he didn't want to say class, so he went with 'tastefulness'.  

Being that this was primarily radio, everyone was invited to dress how they wanted but he made his own little speech of how even in radio, dressing for the job you want made you that much better at obtaining and doing it.  While a few of the employees were still more than happy to do their work in their familiar attire, he found more than a handful of people coming through the station in either looser, more comfortable clothing (primarily for the writing staff), pepped-up semi-casual shirts, ties, slacks, and skirts (the front desk and secretarial positions), and even more costumed appearances by the actors who wanted to perform at their best, even if they wouldn't be seen.

One of the workers who hadn't changed at all was someone Alastor recognized as Cherri Bomb, a demi-lordette and was one of Valentino's non-contracted party planners who kept a good chunk of land for herself.

And was also Angel Dust's best friend.  

It was during one of his visits to the station that she managed to corner him without an ounce of fear in her eye, looking him over like he was another john who thought he could get something without paying dues.  

"So with Valentino kicking the shit and contracts burned, I'm guessing that means Angie is out too, right?" she demanded, crossing her arms.  "You work at that Hotel he's staying at, you'd know."

Alastor smiled.  "I would, yes," he replied, picking a piece of lint off of his sleeve.  "But you would be wrong in saying Angel Dust's contract is voided."  He folded his hands behind his back, his smile going sharp.  "It's the one contract that I transferred to myself."

The X in Cherri's eye darkened.  "Oh really," she asked, the smell of nitroglycerin permeating the air around her.  "You got a problem with my boy goin' free?"

"Oh not at all!" Alastor chirped.  "I handed him his contract personally, and he told me to keep it!"  His smile twitched at the look on her face.  "It was talked about at length, my dear, you needn't worry about that -"

"Listen, strawberry pimp," Cherri cut in, pointing at him with a sharp nail that was almost sparking.  "I don't give a flying fuck about any baggage you had with Val, but I swear on all that is profane and flammable down here, if you think you can use that contract to hurt Angel like Val did, I will blow your ass up into so many pieces the whole Northwest will be smelling like venison for the next century!"  She tossed her ponytail over her shoulder, giving him a look that definitely had bite to her bark.  "And I'm not the only one here who thinks that.  Angel's a total bitch, but he's the darling of the Studio and everyone knows it.  So keep your pimp cane and hands to yourself, buddy."  

She stalked past him, making his nose twitch with the scent of a lit TNT fuse in her wake.  

He wasn't offended at all.  It was good to know that Angel Dust had some support outside of himself and the Hotel.  

But he wondered why everyone kept calling him 'strawberry pimp'....

 

Angel Dust was in his bathroom staring into the mirror when Alastor returned to the Hotel.  The Radio Demon stood in the doorway watching as Angel seemed to examine his mouth.  Strange, considering his tongue should have healed up yesterday.  "Keep smilin' darlin'!" he said, stepping in.  "You'll make yer reflection jealous."

Angel closed his mouth, smiling sheepishly.  "Yeah," he said, rubbing the side of his mouth.  Alastor's head tipped to the side, static flickering around him.

"Something amiss, dear?" he asked.  Angel seemed to wrestle with something before sighing, turning to face Alastor.  

"Al...could I ask you t' do somethin' for me?"

Alastor arched a brow at the odd question; usually it was 'can you do something TO me'.  "I suppose so," he replied.  "What is it?"  

Angel's hands wrung each other before he lifted one to point to his mouth, smiling a little, though it was strained.  "...I want you t' pull this tooth out."  His finger brushed against his gold tooth.

Alastor leaned up, looking it over quietly.  "It doesn't look infected," he remarked.  "Is it bothering you?"  Angel lowered his hands to the counter, clenching them into the surface enough for his claws to make dents.  

"...every minute o' ever day," he said quietly, his voice taking on an almost haunted thickness as it usually did when discussing his past.  "...it was a rite of passage for Valentino's FAVORITES.  T' have a tooth ripped out an' a gold one shoved in, like his.  Marks th' whores as his own."  His fingers clenched harder into the counter top.  "...I still can't bring myself t' do it.  I never have."

Alastor's hands clenched behind his back, having seen more than a few demons back at the station with gold teeth, but he hadn't thought much of it.  The idea now that Angel Dust had been carrying a fealty branding from that disgusting louse made his own teeth itch with the desire to resurrect the man and eat him again.

"Of course I'll take it out, dear," Alastor said taking his hands from behind his back and reaching up to cup Angel's face.  "It won't grow back, you know."

"...I know," Angel replied. "But I'm sick o' seein' it...of knowin' it's always there.  I'm not his anymore, I'm yours."

Alastor nodded, using his thumbs to pry Angel's mouth open wider before his own mouth opened full of sharper-than-usual teeth, leaning in and biting the offending tooth hard, wrenching and twisting it right out of Angel's mouth and spitting it into the sink before kissing Angel properly.

Angel sighed, feeling Alastor's tongue prod at his bleeding gum to lick at the blood until Angel felt that his mouth had been sanitized of blood completely.  He turned to look in the mirror, not thrilled with missing a tooth, but feeling the weight of the gold out of his mouth as a relieved burden.  

"...thank you, Al," he said, smiling softly, picking the gold tooth out of the sink.  "...don't suppose I could melt it down an' go all golden-calf on it."

"Whatever you decide, dear," Alastor replied.  "I can even send it into the Pit of Old Ones if you want."

"The what?"

"Anyway, you should have some calls from your friend Cherri Bomb coming soon," Alastor went on.  "She seems concerned for you."  He took his monocle off to polish it.  "And Tower Beta is having an official opening reception gala this weekend.  Would you like to go shopping for a new outfit for it?"

Angel beamed.  "Oh, you know it, dolcezza," he replied.  "Buuuut, I'd rather you be as surprised by my intense gleaming beauty as everyone else when I arrive."

Alastor rolled his eyes, slipping a black card out of his pocket.  "Something that fits the bill of 'intense gleaming beauty' is sure to be in the affluent side of town," he said, holding the card out.  "Best make sure it's something spiffy."

Angel flicked his eyes between Alastor's face and the credit card.  "...you shittin' me, Al?" he asked.  "An overlord BLACK CARD?!"

"Yes?" Alastor answered, arching a brow.  "It's just money, ange araignée.  Not like I'm doing much with it."  He put the card into Angel's jacket pocket.  "Make sure you shine, darling."  He tidied Angel's lapel and walked out of the bathroom, humming softly.

Angel stared after him, touching at his pocket and somehow feeling back in familiar territory but in an unfamiliar way.

He really needed a pal's night out with Cherri.