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Trials and Errors (and More Dinner Dates)

Chapter Text

"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.

Chapter Text

"You're shittin' me."

Angel Dust withheld a giggle at Cherri's expression as he perused the windows looking for something to wear to the gala.  A few ideas, but nothing that was just RIGHT.

"I shit you not," he replied, pausing to look at a pretty pink number.  Hmm, not the right shade, wouldn't compliment red.  Moving on.  Cherri tailed him, gesticulating wildly.

"No, you've GOTTA be shittin' me!" she insisted almost desperately.  "You.  YOU and HIM."

"Yep."

"Bullshit."

"Nope."

"BULLshit!"

Angel laughed.  "You know I wouldn't joke about...okay, I would, but this time I'm NOT."  He paused at another store, grinning when he saw something worth looking at.  "In here, this one!"  He almost dragged her inside, ignoring the poncy fucks who stared at him and Cherri like they were dirty dogs running around.  Cherri almost groaned, pulling her ponytail.

"Angie, sweetie," she said, then paused to flip off one of the bitchy-looking ladies to make her stop staring.  "Sweetie, baby, no-hetero love of my life.  You're tellin' me...that you and the goddamn overgrown deer -"

"YES, Cherri babe," Angel said, looking over what caught his eye and checking the price tag.  "We are.  Ugh, right top, wrong bottom...I'll have to fix that.  He pulled it from the hanger and went to look at the shoes, being subtly followed by a sales associate but not caring.  He could pay for it.  

"Angel, focus!" Cherri yelped, flailing her arms.  "This is some level of never-gonna-happen bullshit the likes of which CAN'T be true!"

"And yet they are."

Cherri groaned, rubbing her face.  "Angieeeee...!"

"Excuse me, are you...ladies...going to actually buy anything?" the sales associate asked, giving them a sharp once-over.  

Angel shot her a look before slipping the black card from his pocket.  "Depends babe, you take card?"  At the associate gaping at it like a fish, he raised his voice.  "YO, CAN ANYONE ELSE RING ME UP?  I GOT PLACES TO BE AN' SHIT TO DO!"  

He was quickly dealt with at the counter with 250% more kissass than before, and then he headed for the door before turning around.  "By the way, bitch, I'm a man!"  He flipped the associate off before heading back onto the street with Cherri.  "Bourgeois bitches.  Want some lunch, Cherri, my treat?"

"Y'mean HIS treat?" she asked, hands on her hips.

"What?  No, I got enough for lunch.  He gave me th' card for clothes."

"...ho-ly shit."

Angel looked up.  "What?"

"'What'?  Angel, you have the Radio Demon's black card and you're using it HONORABLY.  The fuck is wrong with you, you got a fever or somethin'?"  She pressed a hand to his forehead, which he batted away.

"No, it's a matter of TRUST, Cherri."

"............."

"What?"

"WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BITCH!?" Cherri screeched, shaking him by the shoulders.  Angel flailed her off and covered her mouth, hurrying her off to the rental car.  

"Fuckin' hell Cherri, calm the fuck down!" he hissed, pushing her into the passenger seat before crawling into the driver's seat.  He sighed and started up the car, driving back into his neck of the woods.  "...look, what Al an' I have is serious," he continued, kneading a a pair of hands into the wheel while another clenched around the stick shift.  "I mean, as serious as it can get between a gay prostitute and an asexual deer -"

"Wait, he's ace?  I thought he was just a stuck-up prude!"

"He's that too, except when he's chewin' my tongue outta my mouth."

"A biter?"

"I meant that literally.  He chews the tongue out of my mouth."  He paused.  "And cuts me open to eat my organs.  Sometimes fillets my skin for a snack -"

"Angel."  Cherri stared at him unblinking.  "...what the fuck."

"What?"

"He EATS you!?"

"Yeah.  I'm th' one who suggested it."

"Seriously!?"

Angel rolled his eyes.  "Cherri babe, HOW long have you known me?  I can be a real freak if I wanna be.  I just found a way to catch Alastor's interest an' hold onto it."

"...without sex."

"...well, I orgasm, I dunno about him."

"Christ on a firecracker, Angel..."  Cherri leaned back in her seat, kicking her feet up on the dashboard.  "And you're FINE with him not touchin' ya?"

Angel huffed.  "He touches me plenty," he groused.  

"Food prep doesn't count."

"Well -"

"Or playing pocky-game with your tongue."

"Fuck's sake, Cherri," Angel sighed.  "I know.  HE knows.  We've talked this over at length."  He kneaded the steering wheel again.  "We have what we have...and what we have is somethin' we don't have with others.  If I want some dick, I can go out an' get some dick because he gets that I'm all about sex."

Cherri lit a joint, rolling her eye.  "And he's cool with that?"

"...Cherri, what's up your twat?" Angel demanded.  "Seriously?"

She took a hard drag, letting the smoke out with a heavy sigh.  "He has your contract, Angel," she finally said after a long moment.  "The only one out of the whole damn Studio."

"Yeah, I know.  I GAVE it to him."

"Why?"

"Why?  Cherri, I can't just go strings-off all of a sudden!"  Angel sat back, using a free hand to run through his hair.  "He handed my contract to me, unopened an' unaltered, no strings attached.  And I know myself enough t' know that if I just...if I had NOTHIN' holdin' me back...I'd just make things worse for myself."

Cherri flicked some ashes out the window.  "Is that the Hotel shit talkin', or YOU talkin'?"

"Maybe both.  Cherri, Al has no problem with me goin' out an' puttin' some bullets in some fucks who deserve it, or fuckin' anyone I want.  None at all.  We're talkin' about a guy who cannibalizes people an' tore his way through dozens o' overlords.  But at least he has class an' style doin' it.  I just..."  He paused, tongue lightly prodding the still-empty gap between his teeth.  "...with him, at least I get a say in what I want.  I don't have to put up with shit because I'm bein' paid for it.  Minus th' cannibalism thing, he's someone I coulda taken home to Ma and they'd be swappin' recipes in no time."

He parked the car on the street, sitting back hard.  "...he killed Val for me, Cherri.  On a day I was feelin' rock-bottom an' shitty enough to almost go back to th' Studio full time.  He killed Val, let me listen, an' then made me dinner.  I mean...fuck...how do y'think that made me feel?"

Cherri polished off her joint and flicked the rest away out the window.  "I think it makes you feel like you owe him," she said, her expression serious.  "Angie, I love ya, but you have this bad habit of bleedin' your heart for anyone who shows ANY form of sweetness.  Hell, it's how Val got to you in th' first place.  And we're talkin' the goddamn RADIO DEMON now.  Th' best deal-maker since Lucifer himself.  Who managed to kill Val without anyone noticing until he TOLD 'em, on a WHIM?"

"...honestly, you're making good points, Cherri, but all that's doin' is makin' my dick hard."

"Goddamn it, you're such a whore."

"Bitch."

"Just sayin', Angel...I've known you long enough to see your heart get broken more than once.  Especially by V- "

"Cherri."  Angel gave her a hard stare before rubbing his face.  "...I'd sooner let him eat my heart than break it.  I know that much.  Alright?"

Cherri closed her eye, sighing.  "Fiiiiine," she replied.  "I still don't like him.  Strawberry pimp motherfucker."

"He's not a pimp."

"....Angie, he gave you money to buy clothes after doing freaknasty shit to your insides.  And he carries a pimp cane."

"It's a microphone!"

"Whatever.  He's one fur collar away from half the Studio callin' him 'Deer Daddy'."

"Jeezus fuck, that's actually kinda hilarious."  Angel got out of the car, grabbing his shopping before tossing the keys to some random guy.

"Wait, whose car is this?"

"Fuck if I know, I just grabbed keys 'cuz I didn't wanna take th' bus."

"I knew you were my best friend for a reason."

 

Angel was really glad for the radio Alastor gave to him, he thought as he set to altering his outfit for the gala.  While he could get the same stations on his phone, the old-fashioned tinny feel coming through the speakers was a comforting change, and it made him relax as he slept or worked on his leisurely activities.

He found himself thinking back to his conversation with Cherri, and knowing that in some places, she had pretty good points.  She had no reason to trust or like Alastor; she'd never really had any respect for elite authority, let alone Valentino, and Alastor was the goddamn Radio Demon.  The most infamous deal-maker since Lucifer himself, able to wrangle other powerful demons into his cache.  The man who demolished and devoured his way into the best of the best, only one of a small handful of mortal-born souls to do so.

Angel himself still didn't know how or why he and Alastor managed to work.  They seemed to be on complete opposite side of the spectrum in ways that should make a relationship work, but clicked on small things in a way that made them seem better.  Alastor was a cannibal, and Angel was a masochist who didn't mind losing an organ or two.  They both liked music and dancing, and had the worst of the worst tastes in retribution.

It still didn't take away their vast differences; Alastor was a sex-adverse demi-prude, and Angel was as open with his sexuality as it got.  Angel liked touch, Alastor had literal set-in-stone rules about touch; they were literally posted in the stone wall of his office.

Alastor was a powerful overlord, and Angel was...

He hissed when a needle pierced one of his fingers, scowling at his work and setting it aside for the moment.  He was under no delusion of who and what he was.  It was another thing that bound them together.  Alastor was possessive, and Angel -to a degree- liked to be possessed.  

If he as a lesser demon had to be contracted under someone, he would rather it be Alastor.

Angel sighed, sucking on his bleeding finger as he waited for the wound to heal as he listened to the radio playing, sort of wishing for Alastor to suggest a date night to put his mind at ease somewhat.

His radio flickered on its own before changing to the 9.07 station.  "Hello dear, did you have fun today?" Alastor's voice came through.

Angel smiled, scooting closer to the radio.  "Sure did," he replied, then paused for a moment.  "...hey, Al?  Are you free at all tonight?"

"Hmm...I have a few last-minute preparations for the gala, but I suppose I could pop down for a nightcap.  Do you miss me that much?"

Angel huffed, poking the radio.  "Don't give me that, Al.  I just haven't seen you in a bit is all."

"Angel dear, I pulled your tooth out just last night."

"Yeah, a whole night ago."  He sighed.  "I'm just bein' clingy and shit, it's nothin'."  He sat back up, taking his sewing up again.  "Good to hear from you though, Smiles."

The radio was quiet for a few moments before it dialed back to the station he had been listening to before, making him drop his head back on the headboard with a heavier sigh.  "Way to show your desperation, asshole," he muttered to himself.  His hands kept busy for a couple more hours before he declared his work done, then he put it up neatly and headed downstairs for a midnight-ish snack.

Husk was shutting down the bar and putting up a warding seal to dissuade liquor thieves, glancing up when Angel walked down.  "Bar's closed for th' night," he announced.  Angel groaned, rubbing his face.  

"Ah, shit," he grumbled.  "...can I at least get a soda?"

Husk rolled his eyes and fished out a can of ginger ale, putting it on the bar along with a bottle of grenadine and a jar of maraschino cherries.  "Nothin' but Shirlies for you," he said, grabbing his own bottle and heading off to leave Angel to his devices.

"Smartass cat," Angel huffed, grabbing a glass and putting the ginger ale and grenadine together before popping in a cherry, poking at it for a moment before taking a drink and pretending the Shirley was dirty.  

"Is this seat taken?"

Angel looked up when he heard Alastor's voice, seeing the Radio Demon smiling at him and standing next to the spot next to him.  Angel put the glass down, giving Alastor a weak smile.  "Yeah, it's reserved for my beaufriend."

"Wonderful," Alastor said, helping himself to the seat.  "I got the distinct impression that something might have been troubling you, dear.  Care to spill?"

Angel's face went warm, looking back at his drink quietly.  "...it was really nothin'," he replied.  "Just...a lot happening in a short amount of time, y'know?"

Alastor nodded slowly, his clawtips drumming on the bar.  "I do know," he said, dropping the radio voice.  "But better to get th' busy work outta th' way now, rather than deal with it later, yes?"  He snapped his fingers, a bottle of rum and a glass appearing in front of him, pouring himself out a half glass before topping off Angel's Shirley Temple.  

"Yeah, I know," Angel sighed, sipping it and sliding his hand into his pocket to put the black card on the bar.  "I got somethin' nice.  I think you'll like it."

Alastor smiled and pocketed the card.  "Do ya like it?" he asked.  

"Huh?"

"Do YOU like what ya got?  You'll be th' one wearin' it, sha."  

Angel blinked before nodding slowly.  "...yeah, I like it," he replied.  "...I had to alter it, y'know, longass legs an' all, but I like it."  He gave Alastor a smile.  "And how about th' Studio?  You like what you're doin' with it?"

"Oh yes, Tower Beta is coming along nicely!"

"...Al, you gotta change th' name, it's so fuckin' lame."

Alastor laughed, taking a swig of his rum.  "I'll think about it, sha.  Now, about th' shows we're gonna be runnin'..."

Angel leaned his head on his hand, smiling as he watched Alastor talk animatedly about all the new projects that were going to be running with his new tower.

Yes, he thought, he liked nights like this best of all.

Chapter Text

Short notice for such a big opening gala meant nothing in Hell when the host was able to tap into frequencies of people's cars and phones to send out invites.  Thank goodness for one-way frequencies or Angel Dust was sure Alastor would have gotten more than his fair share of fuck-yous as a reply.

The size of the gala didn't matter, Alastor said.  It was mostly an opening party for his new employees and a status point for higher-tiered demons and overlords alike.  A friendly party where there would be little flexing of power as far as Alastor was concerned, figuring he (and the employees) were due some fun after the hard work to get it up to Alastor's standards.

Everyone in the Hotel was given an invitation, but Husk immediately declined, not wanting to be anywhere near a bunch of former prostitutes and other overlords.  Niffty would run herself into a coma trying to tidy up after everyone, so she elected to stay behind too, the two of them keeping an eye on the Hotel while Charlie and Vaggie accepted as a way to both be there representing the Hotel and double-up as a much-needed date night.

While Alastor went on ahead to make sure he was there to greet everyone as host, Angel would be riding there with Charlie and Vaggie, giving him plenty of time to get ready.

Angel took extra time to get properly showered and dusted down, making sure his scent was neutral.  He was sure there would be more than enough people there to make a cocktail of scents anyway.  He had checked yesterday to make sure his alterations were perfect, and so they were, down to the hem stitching, thank you in Heaven, Ma.

Hair and makeup were done, choosing to have the ends of his hair curl slightly, and dolled up his eyes as a focus, waiting for everything to dry and set before pulling on his outfit, packing his inside-lined pockets with his phone and a handgun, and pushing a switchblade into his boot before heading downstairs to leave with Charlie and Vaggie.

Charlie was wearing a fashionable black pantsuit paired with high heels, her hair pulled back into a simple updo, wearing black pearls to accessorize.  Vaggie wore a cute silver asymmetrical slip dress with matching ankle boots, wearing a garter that had several blades attached that she insisted on.

Both girls looked up when Angel came down the stairs, Charlie cooing and clapping her hands when she saw him.  "Oh Angel, you look so amazing!" she breathed.

"Bitch, I know it," Angel preened, striking a pose.  He felt that he had outdone himself with this one.  

The whole outfit he bought was a white tuxedo dress with a long trailed skirt he had cut open in the front up to the double-breasted vest, which had arm holes mended out to accommodate his arms.  Underneath he had skintight white pants with knee-high white stiletto boots.  The color he had was a pale pink tie and pale pink opera gloves, the whole outfit making him gleam under any kind of light.

Even Vaggie couldn't find anything bad to say about it, just giving him an exasperated thumbs-up before the three left for Charlie's limo, stepping inside and adjusting his skirt to make sure it didn't catch in the door, and then they were off.

Charlie was almost bouncing in her seat with anticipation.  "It's been awhile since I've been to a big party!" she chirped.  "At least one where I wasn't almost REQUIRED to go to."

"Yeah, those nobility soirees are boring as shit," Angel griped, picking any hint of lint off of his outfit.  "Nothin' but TALKING."  He paused.  "Well, except when Stolas drops by, MAN can that guy deethroat a -"

"I will literally pay you to not finish that sentence," Vaggie said, holding out a 50-dollar bill.  Angel snatched it out of her fingers, holding it up to the light before stuffing it into his fluff cleavage.  

"Anyway, at least Al is guaranteed entertainment," he picked back up.  "He can't stand a boring shindig."  He smiled a little out the window.  "...still, pretty cool to go to one o' these things as a guest instead of part of th' entertainment."

Charlie smiled, giggling.  "I think Alastor is going to really like your outfit, Angel," she said earnestly.  "You look beautiful."

Angel's face warmed at the sincere compliment, wringing his hands a little.  "...y'think so? he asked.  "Not too camp or slutty?"

"A little camp, but not at all slutty," Charlie confirmed.  "Very original and classy."

"A regular 'Pretty Woman' scenario," Vaggie added.  

"Wuzzat?"

"A nineteen-eighties movie, a Julia Roberts classic.  Look it up, it's actually pretty good."

".....a'ight."

Charlie beamed, happy with both a business-casual party and Vaggie and Angel Dust having a conversation without insulting one another.  Tonight was shaping up to be great.  She glanced out the window, gasping.  "Omigosh!" she breathed.  "Look at what they did to the place!"

Vaggie and Angel looked out the window too, seeing the revamped former Porn Studio that was now the new radio station.

The gaudy neon signs were gone and the building itself held a fine re-stylizing of old and new with a tall grand radio tower on top.  The windows held a red tint instead of a hot pink one, and a large decal of black deer antlers emboldened the front to show whose tower it truly was.

There was a crowd up in the front with a couple of people walking in past security, their turn with the limo coming up quickly.  Charlie squealed again before schooling her features and waiting for someone to open the door, stepping out into the fray with Vaggie among photographers and journalists.

"Oh, it's Hell's Princess herself!" someone announced into the camera.  "An honor for this opening!  She has an elegant date with her, armed to the teeth, it seems, how...oh MY!"

The crowd murmured louder when Angel Dust stepped out of the limo behind Charlie and Vaggie, standing and flaring his skirt out with practiced ease as he walked the line into the radio station, the photographers going wild with his graceful walking and small subtle poses for them.

Angel heard the reporter wonder to the camera if Angel Dust was taking a leave from acting and instead turning fashionisto and model before he walked past security into the station, beaming to himself.  That much attention fully dressed without other actors was something he hadn't experienced before, but damn did it give him some ideas of what to do with his free time at the Hotel.

Inside of the studio was a bustle of activity, ranging from some volunteers to work running reports and last-minute setups for airing later and some guests having a look-see around the place.  Angel Dust almost didn't recognize his former home and workplace from how much the layout had been overhauled.  Everything was much more tempered and classic, gleaming with cherry woodwork and memorabilia from the 1920s ranging from movies to actors to music posters.

Angel smiled; it was so like Alastor, he thought, making his way to a large central area alive with the sound of live jazz and chatter, walking inside to a wonderful party hall.

Trepidation from plenty of demons aside, everyone seemed to be interested and enjoying themselves, and some where even dancing on the cleared floor.  He could see a few familiar faces among the crowd that belonged to his old colleagues and even old customers, but he didn't care much about that.  He searched around for the large spot of red that would belong to Alastor, letting Charlie and Vaggie to themselves to search around.

"Looking for someone?"

Angel looked down, seeing Cherri standing next to him wearing a black bodysuit with strategically-placed rip holes and a hot pink scarf skirt tied loosely around her hips.  She gave him a pointed look that he returned as he straightened his collar.  "You know it," he said.  "You seen him around anywhere?"

"Only once when I came in," Cherri replied, nodding to the back.  "I had to hand it to Bambi, he at least knows how to organize some shit in a way that I can actually make sense of."

Angel stared at her, lips twitching.  "...did you just call Al 'Bambi'?"

"You betcha.  I'll call him that to his face too."

"You want roses or lilies at your funeral?"

"Both, don't be a cheap bitch."  She looked his outfit over, her look softening.  "...you really clean up nice, Angie.  Looks way better on you than it did in th' snob store."

Angel smiled, straightening the skirt.  "Y'think?"

"I know.  If Bambi doesn't compliment you on it, I'll shove a grenade up his ass."

"Cherri..."  Angel scoffed, trailing off when he spotted the bright spot of red he had been looking for across the room, feeling his chest flutter a little.

Alastor was dressed in a long red dovetail coat with matching trousers, a black vest and brighter red shirt underneath, accessorized with a black bowtie, heeled black boots, and a red and black top hat.  Even from the short distance away, Angel could see that Alastor had grown out his antlers to make for a more dominant display.

And boy, was it working.  

Angel was almost too busy resisting fanning himself to see Alastor look across the room and spot him, red eyes literally lighting up as he made headway through the crowd that parted on reflex around him.  Alastor stepped up, beaming as he gave a short bow and held out his hand for Angel to take.

"My my," Alastor said without his radio tin, giving Angel a once-over before kissing Angel's hand.  "Aren't you th' prettiest beau o' the ball, darlin'?"

Cherri stared at him.  "...the fuck?" she muttered to herself at the unfamiliar accent, her presence going unnoticed by the two.

Angel blushed, two other hands smoothing out the skirt.  "It's not too much?" he asked.  Alastor laughed, standing upright and offering out his arm to Angel. 

"Dear, you can NEVER be overdressed!" he said, his radio voice back on as he grinned up at Angel.  "You were right, I AM dazzled by your choice of fashion.  I almost feel UNDERdressed next to you."

Angel scoffed, taking Alastor's offered arm with two of his own.  "Then smile harder, dolcezza, you'll never be underdressed without it."

"Jeezus shit, I need a drink," Cherri muttered, going to find some alcohol and leaving the two to step further into the room where the crowd began noticing that Alastor, who commanded a Five-Foot Rule at almost all times, had the most popular porn actor attached to his arm.

The most popular porn actor who stood out like a pale beacon among the sea of darker and more tempered colors like a princess.

The murmuring definitely didn't die down when Alastor took Angel to the dance floor for a slow jazz tune, not bothered at all by the closeness.  Angel clasped one hand around Alastor's another resting on Alastor's shoulder as they enjoyed the band playing.  "Careful Al," Angel Dust murmured, "everyone might think you have a thing for tall-ass spiders."

Alastor grinned.  "Well I do have a taste for spider entrails," he replied, earning him a laugh from Angel.  "And quite honestly, it's none of their business whom I have a relationship with."

Angel smiled back.  "Well ain't you sweet," he said.  "Big bad elegant overlord takin' me in like some My Fair Lady story."

"Darlin', nothin' but power got me here," Alastor replied in his natural tone.  "I'm just a bayou boy from N'Orleans wit' a good voice an' th' devil's charm.  Never had money 'til I was in Hell an' I still don't care 'bout it."  He spun Angel out and back in, making the skirt flare out.  "A good time wit' good company an' good music beats money any day."

Angel blushed, his two free hands fixing his skirt and fluttering it slightly.  "You're a peach, Al," he said.  "Really."

"And you're an angel."

"Should I be flattered or insulted?"

"I don't know.  Are you a beautiful deadly force to be reckoned with or not?"

"Well I AM packin' a Colt .45."

"Oh thank goodness that's what I felt."

They both shared a laugh and separated when the song ended, Angel fixing his skirt again while Alastor manifested his microphone.  "I see more visitors that need to be greeted before they decide I'm snubbing them," Alastor said, rolling his eyes.  

"And I need champagne because Charlie said she'd let me drink if I stuck to just that."

Alastor smiled.  "The bar is in the back," he said.  "Meet up for the next set?"

"I'll be waitin'."

The two parted ways, Alastor watching him meet up with Charlie and Vaggie before going to meet-and-greet with some other demons with rank, inwardly bemoaning the tedium of having to take care of that rather than enjoying the evening without it.  He got a break some time later, taking a moment to survey over everything and enjoy the little thrum of power in his chest at his empire having been expanded if only but a little.

"Hello hello, Alastor."

It felt like his whole brain record-scratched at the familiar sound of Vox's voice, his smile going frozen as he looked over to see the other overlord grinning at him, his digital face aglow with amusement.  "Hello to you to, Vox," he replied.  "Wonderful evening, isn't it?"

"Oh, the best," Vox agreed.  "Quite a stir you've caused, Al, not that that's anything new."  He looked out over the place, the high-pitched frequency of his digital face like nails on porcelain to Alastor's ears.  "But you've done quite a lot with Val's old place, haven't you?"

"I suppose I have," Alastor replied.  "I can't help but notice that you didn't RSVP for this evening.  No word at all."

"I'm a busy man, Al, you know that more than anyone," Vox said, picking a piece of invisible lint off of his coat.  "Not easy being the media mogul of Hell, you know."

"No, it isn't," Alastor shot back with a wide grin.  "Maybe I'll be willing to share the workload with you sometime."

Vox's digital face flickered slightly though his features gave no give to betray any emotions.  "How thoughtful.  And they said chivalry was dead."  His screened head turned, spotting Angel Dust talking to Charlie.  "After all, look at all of your charity work!  The Princess's Make-a-Wish project and taking in the pride and joy of the Porn Studio.  It's almost sweet."

Alastor's glare was sharp despite his smile.  "I don't waste my time with paltry projects, unlike you, Vox," he replied.  "I value quality over quantity."

"Well I suppose if you go, you go big.  The Princess AND Hell's best whore?  Just how big is your harem going to get?"  Vox's screen flickered again when Alastor's microphone pressed against his chest and pushed him away.

"Five-Foot Rule, Vox," Alastor said through his teeth, his hand clenched around the mic stand tightly.  "And you had best watch your tone.  I did invite Lucifer, and it would be SUCH a shame if he overheard you saying such a thing about his precious baby girl."

Vox rolled his eyes, brushing the microphone away.  "Yes, yes, your silly space rule," he muttered.  "It didn't seem to matter much to Angel Dust."

"Vox."

"If it wasn't anyone's business but yours, then you wouldn't be flaunting it," Vox said, waving his hand.  "Not that I have any place to judge in Hell, after all.  I just find it...entertaining."  His digital grin grew wider, glitches near the bottom looking like bloody saliva from how delicious he found the situation.  "You, the untouchable Radio Demon, courting THE Angel Dust.  But then again, if ANYONE could dig their claws into you, it'd be him."

"Thin ice, Vox.  VERY thin ice."

Vox snorted, folding his hands behind his back as he looked at Angel Dust, screen flickering with silent laughter.  "It's not his claws though, is it?  No, you don't have a type at all...he's just an interest.  I get that, I really do."  His digital eyes flicked to Alastor.  "I REALLY do."  He laughed at Alastor's aura going static and glitchy.  "Not a ship I intend to sail, Alastor, calm yourself.  After all, it's your studio, and he's your one and only contract from the changeover.  He's all yours."

"Yes, he IS," Alastor growled, his antlers lengthening about an inch apiece.  "Keep that in mind, Vox.  I don't like mine and my own being trifled with."

"Oh, I understand," Vox replied.  "I'm the same way, believe it or not.  It's just that I have so MUCH of my own that it's hard to tell."  He grinned in Angel's direction again.  "I'm just more than a little curious as to what it is that you think you see in him.  He's your antithesis in every way, the sort of thing soap opera writers WISH they could come up with.  Just HOW do you entertain each other, when you're sexually barren and he's probably one good contract-free screw away from attaining incubus status?"

Alastor's smile twitched, his aura flickering with ghosts of veves that SCREAMED to be used and his blood burning to be drawn, if ANYTHING to just shut the other overlord up for just a MINUTE.

Vox noticed, chuckling to himself as he shrugged his shoulders and turned away from Angel Dust.  "It's just my own personal thoughts, I have a tendency to overshare," he said unapologetically.  "By all means, tear your chest open and bare your black cervine heart to the little spider."  He turned to leave off on his own, his digital smile widening.  "But keep in mind that you can't turn a whore into a housewife, no matter how pretty you truss them up."  He took a step away and froze when Alastor's microphone was brought down on his shoulder with just enough force to make him stop.

Alastor glared blood and fire into back of the overlord's head, his smile wider and much sharper than usual and his aura giving most of the demons around them auditory hallucinations of screaming.  He stepped around Vox, straightening his jacket before displacing his microphone, looking him in the eye.

"Angel Dust may be a whore," he said, his voice thick with static and shadow writhing on the floor, "but keep in mind that he's MY whore, and if MY whore is touched in any way, shape, or form, there is no force in this world or any of the thousands unseen that will keep me from devouring you from the inside out."

He lightened up and beamed a much friendlier smile, auditory hallucinations and shadows gone as he turned to leave back into the crowd.  "Enjoy your evening, Vox, et ne laissez pas la porte vous frapper à la sortie."  He headed to Angel Dust, Charlie, and Vaggie.  "How are you faring this fine evening?"

"It's great, Al!" Charlie beamed.  "I saw the layout for the new programs, and they all look so amazing!  I can't wait to hear them!"

"You're too kind, Charlie dear," Alastor replied, getting himself a drink.  Vaggie rolled her eyes, but she couldn't hide a smile.

"Fine, it's pretty good," she said.  "I'm not saying it again."

"I don't expect you to."  Alastor sipped his drink, looking to Angel Dust, who was glancing back almost distractedly at Vox, the other overlord almost impossible to blend in.  He felt his smile twitch, and his arm found itself around Angel's waist.

Angel almost didn't seem to notice.  "...didn't know you invited him," he said quietly into his champagne glass.  Alastor's fingers flexed against his own glass.

"Yes, well..."  He knocked his drink back hard, his radio voice dropping.  "Goddamn social obligation an' all that.  Next time I'll know not t' invite his Yankee ass."

Vaggie almost spewed her drink on Charlie while Angel snapped out of whatever funk he was in to almost double over laughing.

"I'm insulted, Al, I thought my Yankee ass was th' only one you thought about."

Charlie covered her face with her hands.  "Can we like...NOT talk about any overlords' ass?  That wasn't a visual I wanted!"

Angel snorted, pouring himself a full glass.  "Trust me, sweetcheeks, Vox has nothin' there t' be thinkin' ABOUT."

He and the girls jumped when the glass in Alastor's hand shattered.

 

 

Chapter Text

"Al, is there somethin' you wanna talk about?"

The party was over, the guests had filed out, and #Twister was trending hard with great reviews and pictures alike, making the opening night a raving success.  After the fact, Angel Dust stayed behind when Charlie and Vaggie were ready to go, intent on helping Alastor with whatever straggling details needed ironing out.

The night crew was already playing out the night pieces, the sound drifting pleasantly through the near-empty station that had been thoroughly cleaned and sparkling, ready for viewings and reception.  Alastor strolled around the empty room, his eyes like radio dials as he tuned into the new station's frequencies to supervise for a bit.

Angel watched him, having mulled over the night as a whole from start to finish and definitely finding a little bump about midway.

Arriving at the party feeling like a red carpet diva, check.

Having a public dance with Alastor, check.

Catching up on some gossip with friends, check.

Finding out that Vox was here and Alastor definitely not liking that, double-check.

The other overlord hadn't done anything to disrupt the party or take focus from it, but Alastor still glowered at the man like he'd pissed in the punch.  It hadn't soured the evening, but Angel couldn't help but feel that Alastor didn't enjoy his big night as much as he should have.

Alastor looked up at Angel's question, his eyes shifting back to normal.  "Whatever do you mean, dear?" he asked, using his radio voice which tipped Angel off more than enough.

"Alastor.  Dolcezza , it's me.  I think I know by now when somethin' is botherin' ya."  He gave the chair next to him an inviting pat, watching as Alastor's eyes dimmed and smile dropped into something more genuine as he walked over and sat next to Angel, fingers flexing into his microphone slightly.  "...talk to me."

The other sat in silence for a moment before he spoke.  "Vox has always rubbed me th' wrong way," he finally said.  "I ain't got a problem wit' his aspect or power, but th' way he acts is just..."  He scoffed. "Talkin' about 'obsolete power', as though my power ain't th' groundwork for his.  He's got no scruples about th' company he keeps, no pride in his own personal self, like he ain't even got one."

Angel's hands wrung themselves tightly.  "...tell me somethin' I don't know," he muttered.  "But what's your actual issue with th' guy?"

Alastor sighed.  "He's a sonofabitch sleeze," he replied.  "I just don't like that. Never have. At least I'm honest about when I'm only into somethin' for entertainment.  I don't trick people into my service either." He stared into space, his eyes turning to dials for a moment before going back to normal, doing routine checkup on his frequency as a habit. 

"As far as power goes, he doesn't have a fraction of th' raw ability I have," he said.  "But what power he does have, he knows how to' use to th' absolute utmost of his ability, usin' that aspect to add onto his own power.  It's somethin' that is admirable in a work ethic's point o' view, but at th' expense o' the basic source of th' power." He flexed his hands into his microphone again.  "He values quantity over quality, but that quantity built him up into overlord status, usin' those connections to expand out his own empire to somethin' that stretches t' all corners o' th' Pentagram."

He glanced at Angel, gauging his expression.  "Power like tha' is admirable, but there's no SOUL in power like that.  He didn't suffer for it, y'see what I'm gettin' at?"

Angel thought for a moment.  "...you suffered for yours, didn't you?" he asked.  "I thought about what Vaggie told me, about what I knew from ya, from what I looked up...you're almost a complete mystery, but...I've been in yer room just enough t' make some connections.  You banked up power in life to collect th' interest in death. Vox didn't."

"Y'got it," Alastor replied.  "Hell rewards th' worst o' th' worst, sha.  Some ways different than others." He huffed.  "My history wit' him is more from a matter o' pride than anythin'."

Angel nodded.  "...yeah," he said.  "But you've had decades t' deal with that.  What made tonight so bad?" He looked up at Alastor's silence, seeing the other's expression turn almost mulish.  "...Al?"

Alastor's jaw flexed before he spoke.  "...Vox was a prior client of yours, wasn't he?"

Angel stared before smacking a hand to his face.  "Oh jeezus fuck, Al -"

"What?"

"Are you jealous ?!"

Alastor sat up sharply like he'd been slapped.  "Jealous? Why in th' Nine Circles would I be jealous!?  I don' have nothin' t' be jealous 'bout, 'specially wit' a fils-de-pute cha' like 'im?"

Angel blinked.  "...when ya start talkin' in a way I can't understand ya through ya accent...I have my doubts."  He sighed, reaching over and holding Alastor's shoulder carefully. "...Al, whether it's jealousy or that deer possessiveness, it doesn't matter.  It's in th' past, an' you're my present an' future. So don't worry so much about it, a'ight?"

Alastor nodded, reaching up and taking Angel's hand.  "A'ight," he replied, kissing the hand and standing, snapping his fingers to have some soft jazz music play.  "Care t' have another dance, sha?"

Angel smiled and stood up too, putting another hand on Alastor's shoulder.  "Alone at last," he said, swaying to the music and enjoying some time alone with Alastor, the first in a few days a least.  "I'm guessin' with this new tower you'll be extra busy."

"No gettin' 'round that," Alastor said.  "This was a big power move, but one I was prepared t' make."

"...speakin' of Vox," Angel said, his expression going worrisome, "I want you t' be careful, Al.  I've got no doubts about yer power, but...Vox an' Val were pretty tight. I don't trust him not t' try to fuck you over."

"Oh, he's been tryin' to do tha' since he got here," Alastor replied, rolling his eyes, his hand tightening around Angel's.  "But I understand that. He won't have th' satisfaction o' gettin' this place."

Angel nodded.  "Alright," he said.  "...y'think...Charlie would let me come work here part time?"

Alastor tipped his head.  "You wanna work for me?"

"Yeah.  I mean, I don't know all that much about th' radio biz, but I know some about media in general.  If y'need an assistant or somethin' t' make things go smoothly around here, I'm yer guy!"

"There's an idea," Alastor mused, spinning Angel out and then back in.  "Not a bad idea, dear. I'll run it by Charlie, see what we can come up with."

Angel squealed, hugging Alastor tightly before letting go quickly.  "Sorry - but thanks, Al! I promise, you won't regret it!"

"Not fond o' promises without deals, sha," Alastor replied, "but I appreciate it."  He looked around at the empty place before blinking once, the music and lights fading out.  "Ready t' go home?"

"With you?  Absolutely."  Angel held Alastor's arm as they headed out of the studio together to Alastor's red and black Bentley, arranging his skirt to fit it all in as Alastor got into the driver's seat to head out.  

The two sat in comfortable silence for a spell, listening to Alastor's new stations on the radio as they headed back to the Hotel before Angel spoke again.  "...Al...if there's anything you wanna talk about or ask me...go ahead an' ask. I think we're way past th' point o' bein' embarrassed of anything by now, yeah?  I mean...y'pretty much know me inside an' out."

"By taste and cursory glance," Alastor quipped, earning a smile from Angel.  

"Yeah.  So...I just want you t' know that, okay?  Our terms an' conditions can always be updated y'know...if ya don't want me t' do somethin' or see someone.  I'm fine with that."

Alastor's hands flexed around the steering wheel, his expression unchanged.  "I may have your contract, Angel," he said, his radio voice speaking through since he was partly connected with the radio, "but I do not consider myself to be your owner.  I'm your...well..."

"Yeah, yeah, you don't like 'boyfriend' or 'pimp' or 'daddy', so -"

"Oh Angel, please never call me Daddy again."

"Pimp it is."

"Absolutely not!"

"'Beaufriend' sounds stupid though."

"Oh, it does not, Angel, you're just picky."

Angel rolled his eyes, lips twitching in a smile.  "That makes it sound like a crush. 'Partner' can just be taken too many ways."  He looked over at Alastor, arching a brow. "Your disinterest in social media aside, people are already askin' what we are.  I'd...kinda like t' give 'em an answer."

Alastor flicked his eyes to Angel.  "I'm supposing 'tomorrow night's dinner' is an inappropriate answer?" he asked, letting out staticy cackles when Angel smacked his arm.  "I'm just saying, 'boyfriend' sounds so juvenile. I'm not your pimp or your..." He refused to say the other word. "Beau fits well with both of us."

"Then let's drop the 'friend' part," Angel said.  "I'm your beau, and you're my beau." He smiled. "Sound good?"

Alastor nodded a little, his smile softening.  "Sounds good, sha," he said, lapsing into silence for a moment.  "...if I had to ask one thing of you, Angel...it's that you don't have sex for money.  You're going to have a new job, and I'll still be here for anything you might need.”

Angel scoffed.  “You’re ACTIN’ like a sugar -”

“Angel.”

“...beau.  Sugar beau.”

“No.”

“You’re no fun.”

“And I threw this party for nothing?  Please.”

Angel laughed, leaning back in the seat.  “...I can do that, Al,” he said seriously.  “I haven’t taken any money from anyone since we started this anyway.”  He let out a bark of soft laughter. “...I can count on one hand how many times I’ve even had sex since we started this.”

“Not on my behalf, I hope,” Alastor said.  “I did say I didn’t mind you having your sexual needs taken care of elsewhere -”

“No no, it’s not that…”  Angel wrung his hands a little.  “...I...just haven’t really WANTED to, is all.”

Alastor glanced over at him.  “You haven’t?”

“Not for lack of WANTING to,” Angel muttered.  “But it ain’t th’ same if it’s not you.” He gave Alastor a saucy grin.  “Congrats, Al, you stretched my limits far enough that almost everything else is vanilla.  Not easy goin’ back to regular johns after havin’ an overlord in my insides.” He sat back with a sigh.  “You’ve set th’ bar so high now, an’ I’m nothin’ if not a reacher.”

Alastor made a thoughtful sound, the old dilemma coming back for the umpteenth time now about that divide in his relationship with Angel Dust, and one that neither had brought up before; Angel out of respect and himself out of general displeasure of the subject.

The idea of becoming sexually intimate.

The arrangement they initially had already evolved into an actual relationship, one that went WELL beyond Alastor’s expectations from the day Angel made his proposition.  What had begun as a voluntary cannibalistic dinner date was now a hand-holding, occasional kiss-giving, name-for-it relationship.

That was further than he even got when he was alive combined with his years dead.  

He wasn’t a liar by any stretch of the imagination, especially to himself.  He’d developed romantic feelings for Angel Dust some time ago and knew Angel had done the same for him.

Ugh, sex.  It always seemed to complicate things.  

It wasn’t as though Angel pushed the issue; quite the opposite, considering he only asked for barebones intimacy like handholding and physical contact.  Everything else was on Alastor’s terms, and it was good fortune that Angel liked the things Alastor did to make what intimacy he did initiate work for him in a way that didn’t cause discomfort on his behalf.

At this point now, he didn’t mind kissing Angel Dust without chewing out his tongue.  He still liked tasting blood, though, and Angel liked it when he bit.  

But more recently, Alastor found that while he didn’t care about Angel’s chosen profession or the no-strings sex Angel could get from someone else, he DID care about the idea of anyone else putting claws into Angel’s skin, leaving bite marks, putting the look of ecstasy on Angel’s face that he managed to do with their own excursions -

“Just HOW do you entertain each other, when you're sexually barren and he's probably one good contract-free screw away from attaining incubus status?”

Alastor barely withheld a snarl at the memory of Vox’s unwarranted comments, his aura and the radio in the car going static for a moment.

Oh, what he would do just to put his fist through that stupid screen…

“Al?” Angel’s voice broke through.  “You okay?”

Alastor forced his body to relax, giving Angel a smile.  “...overall, I am,” he said honestly. “But perhaps...you’re right in saying a talk would be beneficial for us both.”  He dropped the radio tin, letting go of the steering wheel to reach over and take one of Angel’s hands. “I don’t want ya thinkin’ anything you’re doin’ or thinkin’ is wrong.”

Angel snorted, squeezing Alastor’s hand.  “Buddy, EVERYTHING I think and do is bad.”  He grinned. “NAUGHTY, even -”

“Still not gonna let you call me that, sha.”

“Prude.”

“Satyromaniac.”

“Baby, you know it.”  Angel used his other three hands to shoot finger-guns, prompting Alastor to roll his eyes and turn back to the road.  “...but mostly for you, Smiles.”

Alastor smiled, the radio station sifting out a soft jazz love song as they turned onto the street the Hotel was on, keeping his hold on Angel’s hand as he pulled into his parking spot -not that he needed one since his Bentley was never to be seen unless he wanted to use it- and got out to open Angel’s door.  

They both headed inside, the comfortable hominess of the Hotel like a better breath of familiar air for them as Alastor led them to Angel’s room.

Angel squeezed Alastor’s arm lightly.  “...I really did have a great time tonight,” he said.  “You really do know how t’ throw a hellova soiree.”

Alastor laughed.  “Oh, your friend Cherri had a hand in a good number of the details,” he replied.  “She’s good at her job. She’ll make a fine event coordinator, if she decides to stay with the station.”

“You still need a better name for it,” Angel remarked, yelping with a small blush when Alastor whacked his backside with his summoned microphone.  “Oi, I know you own the merch, doesn’t mean you should bruise it! I’m like a peach, you know.”

“More like a walnut.”

“Rude.  I thought Southern men were supposed t’ be charming.”

“Oh, we are.  You Yankees are the gauche ones.”

Angel flipped him off with a laugh, stopping at his door.  “Hope we can do this again sometime, Al,” he said with a bright smile.  

“Which part?” Alastor asked.

“ANY of it,” Angel replied.  “A car ride, out at a party place, dancin’, drinkin’...anything.”  He shrugged. “Any date is a good date with you, y’know?”

Alastor let out a breathy laugh, shaking his head.  “You once mentioned what ya liked best ‘bout me,” he said in his natural vice.  “Well...my answer for tha’ is this...how ya like th’ simple things wit’ such a big personality.”  He gave Angel a twirl to make the skirt flare a little as though emphasizing his point.  

Angel blushed, pushing at Alastor’s chest.  “Fuck, Al, yer gettin’ all sappy an’ shit again,” he muttered.  

Alastor smiled, laughing softly.  “Sometimes sappy gets a better reaction outta ya than profanity does,” he said.  “Also this.” He pulled Angel closer and leaned up to kiss him, the feat a minor challenge considering the height of Angel’s heels. 

Angel almost felt his knees go weak as they always did when Alastor initiated a kiss, hesitantly using his top set of arms to curl around Alastor’s shoulders, tightening his hold when he felt no tensing or resistance from the overlord.  His second set clasped onto Alastor’s jacket as he offered his tongue up for a bite, disregarding the fact that he was wearing almost all white.

Alastor did bite, but it was more of a nibble before he leaned in further for a deeper kiss, sucking on Angel’s tongue for a moment before leaning back, taking in Angel’s almost lovestruck expression from just five extra seconds of kissing with something extra.

“Dinner tomorrow night?” he confirmed, pointlessly fixing Angel’s tie for him.

“....you betcha,” Angel breathed, smiling.  “...night, Al.”

Alastor smiled back, fixing his own tie.  “Goodnight, Angel.” He turned on heel and strolled down the hallway toward the stairs, whistling a song that Angel recognized as ‘Goodnight, Sweetheart’ by Guy Lombardo.

He rubbed his face hard, huffing with a smile as he walked into his room and began undressing.  “...you goddamn tease,” he said fondly as he hung his outfit up and made mental plans for his outfit for tomorrow’s dinner.

Hm.  Maybe Al wouldn’t mind doing something a LITTLE different for dinner.

Chapter Text

It was really nice getting to go shopping on his own time without having to worry about clients or Valentino, Angel thought as he picked up a few food items for later that night.  As long as he was around for his therapy sessions in the Hotel on time, the rest was his will to do.

His time was freed up a good bit with Alastor taking his contract and while he and Charlie ironed out a schedule for him to work part-time at the radio station.  It looked like he would be taking an evening shift from what little he heard before going out shopping.  Fine by him, he was most comfortable working after dark anyway.

His phone rang in his pocket as he was perusing onions, hardly looking as he fished it out to answer.  "This is Angel Dust"

"God, I hope so," Cherri's voice groaned through, sounding extremely hungover.  Angel smiled, putting a few things into his shopping basket.  

"Had a good night?" he asked.  "Kinda lost sight o' ya after eleven."

"Ohhh, don't remind me," Cherri grumbled.  "Why, WHY do I keep putting ecstasy in my jack and cokes?"

"Because you're a dumb bitch," Angel replied like it was obvious.  "You doin' good now?"

"Define 'good'," Cherri whined.  "You know how I get when I shoot that cocktail."

Angel snorted, picking out a few fruits.  "Sooooo, who did you go home with?" he teased, hearing her let out a muffled scream into a pillow.

"I don't wanna say."

"Why?"

"Too embarrassed."

"Bullshit, you've got no shame."

"I found it sometime last night after finding out snakes have two dicks an' gave him my goddamn NUMBER for it."

Angel stared at his phone.  "...was Pentious even INVITED to that party!?"

"APPARENTLY!"  Cherri whined.  

"You fucked th' damn Victorian asshole!?"

"Oh shut up, you deer-loving ho."  Cherri rummaged around like she was pulling clothes on.  "You WISH you had two dicks to fuck."

Angel winced a little.  "...don't we all?" he asked, taking his shopping to the front to pay.  He heard Cherri sigh.

"Sorry, Angie," she said.  "I still don't get how you make that work while calling it a relationship."

"Yeah, me neither sometimes," Angel replied, heading out of the store.  "But when we're together, it makes sense THEN.  Dunno how to explain it."  He smiled.  "For instance, we're havin' dinner t'night in his place."

"You live in the same building, Angel."

"It's hard to explain...ever been in a bayou?"

"I have not."

"Do you know what a bayou is?"

"I do not."

"Anyway, it's like his own estate in one room, so...whatever.  Real romantic an' shit."

Cherri snorted.  "Bein' cut open and eaten, romantic?"

"You'd have to be there."

"Oooh, can you get me an invite?"

He rolled his eyes.  "As much as I'm sure Al would be THRILLED with you watchin' him eat, I'd have to ask first.  Not sure how he feels about voyeurism."  He paused.  "...hmm."

"Okay, while you and your boyfriend have your freaknasty couples shit, I gotta take a shower an' get a giant noodle out of my bed."

"He's STILL THERE!?"

"Yeah, and he sleeps like a fucking tank.  I think his ugly egg stepchildren are outside my place too looking for Daddy, so -"

"Okay, while YOU and your boyfriend have YOUR freaknasty couples shit, I gotta go.  Call me later, 'kay?"  He hung up, mentally filing that away into his blackmail folder and heading back to the Hotel to get ready for later that night.

 

Alastor walked into the Hotel in a pretty good mood, mostly anticipating his dinner with Angel Dust soon.  Angel had asked permission to go ahead inside his room to set up, citing wanting to do something a little different and needed some prep time.  

Ever a surprise with that one, he thought with a smile as he dropped a few forms by Charlie's office concerning Angel's employment with him and then stopped by the bar to grab a bottle of wine and some gossip from Husk, seeing as how he was early.

"And how has your day been, my good friend?" he chirped.  

Husk rolled his eyes, grabbing the bottle for Alastor and handing it over.  "Same shit, different day," he replied.  "Your perky boyfriend took hold of the kitchen and threatened me with a meat cleaver for tryin' to get some fish."

"Hm, wonder what he's doing with fish," Alastor mused.  "Anything else?"

"Yeah, but he again used the meat cleaver threat to keep my mouth shut," Husk muttered, shooting back some whiskey.  "Why you had t' pick the spider with borderline personality disorder is beyond me."

Alastor shrugged.  "Who knows how and why these things happen," he replied with a soft smile.  "I guess it had to be him saying the right thing."

"....like 'cut me open and eat me'?"

"Exactly!  Perhaps your beau will come from someone asking to do body-shots off of them."

"...no, no that'd be Angel Dust again.  And how th' fuck do you know about body shots -"

"Oh would you look at the time!" Alastor said, hopping up.  "You have a good evening Husker!"  He strolled upstairs to his door that happened to be on Angel's floor this time, humming to himself as he gave his door a few rhythmic knocks to let Angel know he was there before turning the knob to the right and stepping in.

"Angel dear, I hope I'm not too early!" he called in, shutting the door behind him and waving his hand to make the doorknob on the outside vanish, hanging up his coat and walking through his room to the cleared-out sitting room, halting his step at what he found.

His good sitting chair was pulled up to a large table that had a long red tablecloth draped over it.  On top of the tablecloth was Angel himself, lying on his back with his top pair of arms stretched back, the other two pairs resting at his sides.  He had raw meat and vegetables arranged over his body resting on leaves and flowers that came from Alastor's bayou, and on closer look, he was almost completely nude underneath the arrangement.

Alastor looked over the display, noting the decorative cuts and arrangements of the food that must have taken a good while to accomplish, and walked to the side of the table to his chair, sitting himself down.  "Well, this is new," he remarked, arching a brow to Angel, who gave him a cheeky smile back.

"Nantaimori is an experience," Angel replied.  "Mostly done with sushi an' stuff, but I didn't know how you felt about sushi, so I went with this."  His body remained motionless with practiced ease as he spoke.  "You like th' setup?"

"It's interesting," Alastor said, looking over the arrangement.  "Husk told me you threatened him several times with a meat cleaver earlier."

"Yeah, well, that's what th' damn cat gets," Angel replied, grinning.  "Eat all yer dinner an' I'll have dessert waitin' for ya after."

"Oh goodie!" Alastor chirped, unfolding his napkin and putting it down.  "I hope it's a heart, I do so love hearts."

Angel rolled his eyes, smiling as he watched Alastor spear through the meat pieces and eat them, pairing them with some cuts of vegetables.  "You have a good day at th' station?"

"Quite a good one!" Alastor replied before taking another bite of meat.  "We've got a show coming up this weekend that's going to be a weekly set, and the actors are excited for it."

"Josie an' Byron?"

"Yes.  Enthusiastic actors?"

"Buddy, those two were th' poster kids for th' roleplaying department.  If anyone's up for a show, it's them."

Alastor laughed, taking a sip of wine.  "If you'd like a segment, I'm sure we could find a spot for you," he offered.  Angel shook his head, leaning back comfortably.

"Nah, I've had my time acting," he replied.  "It was fun, but it's no fun bein' a one-trick pony.  Even if that pony knows a LOT of ways to pull off th' trick."

Alastor nudged Angel's hip with the bottom of his fork.  "You're hardly a one-trick pony, dear," he replied.  "Acting, dancing, fashion, cooking.  Is there anything you can't do?"

Angel thought for a moment.  "Nah, you're right, I'm perfect," he said with a straight face before laughing softly, Alastor joining him before finishing off the rest of the food place out on Angel and polishing off his wine.  

"That was something interesting and fun," Alastor said, sitting back.  "Though I recall you promising dessert?"

Angel shrugged.  "In a way," he said, lifting a hand to tap the unused knife to the side.  "It's in my stomach.  You're free to eat whatever you want gettin' to it."

Alastor smiled, picking up the knife.  "You're a dear, Angel," he murmured.  "How many more cute surprises you gonna have for me, sha?"

"More than y'think," Angel replied, relaxing back as Alastor shifted the leaves and flowers on his abdomen aside and gently pressed the knife in.  He hissed softly, fingers digging into the tablecloth.  "I'll hafta let ya eat from me on th' table more often," he purred, closing his eyes.  "Much more comfortable..."

He heard Alastor chuckle softly as his skin was peeled aside.  "Next time," Alastor promised, reaching in and probing the stomach area and indeed finding an unnatural hardness inside.  "...how did you -"

"Don't ask questions you don't want answered, Al."

"...consider my curiosity piqued."

Angel scoffed.  "That thing is nowhere near th' biggest thing I've swallowed.  Details are on my blog."

"You have a blog?" 

"You DON'T?  At least start podcasting, I know you'd get a ton of listeners."

Alastor smiled, rolling his eyes as he cut into Angel's stomach, finding it empty save for a wax-coated rectangular case roughly half the size of a credit card.  He fished it out and set it aside before pricking his finger on the tip of the knife and running it over the cut in Angel's stomach, tiny black wisps of tendrils mending it like new.

"Ohhhh, wow," Angel breathed.  "That's...that feels new..."

"Don't get incredibly used t' it," Alastor said.  "I simply didn't want to have all that much of a waiting period this time around."  He left the table for a moment to go to his desk and fetch his sewing supplies, sitting back down and threading a needle with his red thread.

"...no snacks?" Angel queried. 

"No, not this time," Alastor replied.  "Dinner was fun enough.  I thought you could be mended enough for coffee an' beignets."

"...I do like beignets," Angel muttered, relaxing back as Alastor sewed him up with the red thread, clipping it off when finished.  "You gonna open it?"

Alastor smiled, sitting back in his chair and using the knife to peel the wax off of a small thin box and open it to show a golden key.  He plucked it out, looking it over with a smile.  "To your heart or your stomach?" he joked, watching Angel carefully sit up and brush off some of the leaves and flowers from his crotch area, showing that underneath he had on "...is that a-"

"It's th' key to my chastity belt," Angel said, his soft pink fur spots turning a slightly darker shade.  "...Al...I know you said y' didn't mind me bein' with other people, but...fact is, I don't wanna be with anyone else."  He wrung his fingers into the tablecloth as Alastor looked between the key and the belt lock.  "I dunno, I just...I don't feel like it's fair to ya, is all..."  He squirmed at Alastor's silence.  "Or...you can pick someone for me an' unlock it when you wanna, and -"

He was cut off when Alastor clambered onto the table and pushed him back, straddling Angel's thighs as he pushed the key into the lock, clicking it open.  "Al-"

"Hush," Alastor commanded, his eyes glowing almost dangerously as he loomed over Angel.  "How many times I got' tell ya, imbécile araignée?  I ain't ya pimp.  I ain't gon' tell ya who ya do or don't sleep wit', sha.  I ain't gon' hold ya cul hostage like a trophy."

"Al, I'm -"

"Soyez silencieux," Alastor hissed, his eyes narrowing.  "I ain't like him, sha.  I ain't gon' deny ya nature anymore tha' ya deny me mine."  He put a hand to Angel's face, rubbing just under Angel's three small eyes.  Angel closed his eyes, leaning his face into Alastor's hand.  

"...please, Al," he murmured, his breath hitching.  "...I don't wanna be that person anymore...I don't wanna fuck randos anymore, even if I'm not gettin' paid for it.  I feel like I'm cheatin' or somethin'...it HURTS, how bad I wanna just...an' sometimes I hafta stop myself from doin' more to ya that ya want, an' -"

"Angel.  Mon ange.  Listen."  Alastor sighed, leaning down and pressing his forehead to Angel's.  "Tha's who we are, ouais?  I'm a cannibal, sha.  It takes so much effort t' not rip my teeth int' everythin' I see sometimes.  It's my curse in th' afterlife, t' always be hungry, punishment for my gluttony."  He nipped Angel's lip sharply as though to prove his point.  "So I ain't ever gon' blame ya for ya lust.  We're in Hell, sha...no stones cast b'tween us." 

Angel sniffled, tears prickling at all eight of his eyes.  "...then why do I feel so fuckin' dirty now?" he asked weakly.  "Guilty about needin' it from anyone else?"

"...same reason why other demons taste so dull, I s'pose," Alastor replied, his smile soft.  "But it's who we are.  What we're made of.  Hunger an' sex."  He let out a breath of laughter.  "...what a pair we make, eh?"

Angel nodded, leaning back on the table.  "...yeah," he said, giving Alastor a smile back before reaching down between them and clicking the lock back into place. 

"Angel-"

"Shush, Al," Angel said, using a hand from his top set to press a finger to Alastor's lips.  "I actually legit like this concept here.  An' besides..."  His blush was visible through his fur.  "...yer on top o' me, an' it's kinda...y'know...I had t' keep it contained SOMEhow..."

Alastor blinked.  "...I see," he replied, then sat up on Angel's thighs to get a better look at the belt setup.  "...this is...rather nice quality.  Is this real gold?"

"Th' key is," Angel said.  "I had it made from th' gold tooth."  He stretched out under Alastor, grinning up at him.  "Might as well put good gold t' use."  He puffed up his chest.  "Do I make it look good?"

Alastor rolled his eyes.  "Your aesthetics are lovely as ever, Angel," he said with a smile, then snapped his fingers, a chain attaching from nothing to the golden key before he put it around his neck.  "Is your li'l kink sated now?" 

"Dunno Al, your hunger satisfied?"

"...juste," Alastor conceded, then shifted off of Angel and sat back in his chair.  "...Angel, if it's more intimacy you want -"

"Al, you don't hafta -"

"Hush.  If it's more intimacy you want, I'll hear y' out about suggestions, a'ight?  Jus' talk t' me 'bout it."

Angel was quiet for a moment before sitting up, shifting his legs over the side of the table in front of Alastor.  "...there's plenty o' things that don't need penetration," he said.  "Lots I've always wanted t' try with ya.  Things that you don't even gotta put a lotta effort into."

"Angel..."

"No, really, I like havin' th' reins!" Angel said.  "Like...I have th' lead, but you have th' safe word t' make it stop."

Alastor arched a brow.  "...safe word."

"Yeah, one word or phrase none of us would usually use t' make everything stop, no questions asked, if things get too intense an' uncomfortable."

"...and...y' didn't think t' have one o' those in all of th' times I butchered ya open."

Angel blushed.  "...gonna be honest, Al, I was a little too desperate t' get you to agree to THAT t' think of it."

Alastor pinched the bridge of his nose.  "...we have GOT t' work on yer self-preservation skills, dear."

"Noted.  So...how's that sound?"

Angel nibbled his lip as Alastor quietly deliberated for a few moments before the overlord nodded.  "Alright," Alastor said.  "What didja have in mind, sha?"

Angel beamed brightly, and Alastor knew that he was in for a LONG night of explanation on Angel's part.

Thank goodness he still had coffee and beignets on standby.

Chapter Text

Working in a secretarial position was a huge leap of what Angel Dust was used to in the former Studio, but he was determined not to screw it up.

He went so far as to have his outfit Charlie-approved before he headed to the new Station, and was somewhat happy and comfortable with it being not too far from his personal favorite of a blazer and a miniskirt, but Charlie had it made so the blazer was a solid dark pink color and the skirt was a little longer, trading out thigh-highs for ankle boots.

He wouldn't budge on covering his chest fluff or ditch the choker.  Compromises had to be made.

As far as work itself, there was a LOT to do in a Station as big as this one with workers, enough so that Alastor definitely needed all the help he could get.  While Angel knew little about the radio business, he knew everyone by name in the Station, and all it took was knowing what department they now worked for before he was able to start running messages around and gathering notes for Alastor to peruse later.

He found it comforting at how many of his coworkers were adjusting and even enjoying the change of pace and careers.  They all seemed glad that he was back working too, and gave the old secretary-and-boss joking spiel.

Not untrue, but Angel wasn't about to tank his work or personal relationship with Alastor by making the workplace weird.  

Not that he didn't think of it.  It was hard not to when he caught a glint of gold chain around Alastor's neck and was immediately reminded of his chastity belt.  And that made things all the more juicy.

What a trial in boss-play.

Beyond that, however, Angel was enjoying his work no matter how different it was.  It was a little difficult to keep track of everything and work with something other than his body, but difficulty was always interesting to Angel.  Getting things done too easily was boring.  It was one of the reasons he enjoyed courting Alastor so much, the challenge in finding a way for them both to enjoy whatever it was they did.

At the few hours he had at work in the Station, Angel probably only saw Alastor half the time there but he was kept busy regardless even with tasks that weren't all his.  Angel wanted to learn all he could about Alastor's work, thinking that at some point he could have some full-time job for expansion in the future.

A radio tower in every Corner, Alastor once mused to him, looking like a child dreaming of the future.  What a goal to attain.  That alone would cement Alastor in the Top Three, and Angel would love dearly to help make that happen.

He wasn't biased, of course not.  But the Pentagram could do a lot worse than Alastor in the Top Three.

 

"You gonna head home, Al?"

Alastor glanced up from his desk to see Angel Dust standing by the door, then looked at his clock and saw that it was a bit later than he thought.  Angel's shift was over, and it was the point where they would head home together.  With three shows, four music lineups from the DJs, and his own list of possible broadcasts coming up later in the week, going home on time was not in the cards tonight.

"Never a dull day in the office, dear," Alastor replied, sitting up.  "Especially when new shows are on the rise.  I may be working late tonight to get it all into order, I'm afraid."

Angel nodded.  "Fair enough," he said, stepping into the office and closing the door behind him.  "You want me t' bring up anything for you?  Keep ya company?"

Alastor let out soft laughter, his radio tin turning off.  "It's nothin' I'm no' used to, sha," he said.  "In my life I practically ran th' whole station on top o' workin' night shifts three nights a week."  He sat back, twirling a pen between his fingers.  "Although, tha' was just th' news an' music station.  I'd only started my first year at th' N'Orleans broadcast station when I died."

"Big step up?" Angel queried.  

"Huge leap."  He smiled fondly, eyes a hundred miles away in remembrance.  "I wanted t' be a voice th' whole country knew.  Hell is a close second, I s'pose."

Angel snorted, taking a look at the office in the dimness that he'd never seen, hearing soft crackles of radio waves here and there that created a comforting lull with enough buzz to still stay awake.  "...what was it like?" he asked.

"Hm?"

"Workin' th' station at night.  What was it like?"

Alastor made a thoughtful sound, smiling.  "Well, it was normally myself, an engineer, an' a janitor," he said, his pen making lazy doodles on some scrap paper.  "Wasn't much need for th' engineer, I could fix any problem m'self, but station rules an' all that.  It was quiet while I played th' music, usually softer stuff on th' weekdays wit' livelier on th' weekends.  I actually preferred th' weeknights.  More time t' relax, enjoy th' music, plan my next hunt, things like that."

Angel nibbled his lip, walking over and sitting down on the nearby seat usually reserved for guests -or, he figured, a nap during late-night stays like this.  "...what were your hunts like?" he asked.  "I mean, I know you were a serial killer...what was that like?"

Alastor blinked, tipping his head.  "Curious conversation," he remarked.  "Y'havent asked before."

"I was kinda too busy gettin' eaten out."

"Vulgar."  Alastor smiled, folding his hands and resting his chin on them.  "Well...I didn't exactly 'hunt', per se.  I didn't stalk.  I waited.  I made th' prey come t' me, most of th' time.  Or they were already wit' me."  He hummed to himself.  "Sometimes it was strangulation, sometimes I had a knife.  Six were wit' an axe.  Nine were wit' a shotgun."  

His eyes went softly static, his grin widening.  "But my pièce de résistance...my best work..."  He let out a shaky breath, and Angel could almost see him trembling as he raised his hand and pointed to a radio with a set of headphones attached.  Angel glanced at it and back at Alastor before walking over and taking up the headphones and putting them on.

He could hear a rainstorm from inside of a house with rumbles of thunder, and nothing else for a full minute before footsteps on wood floors and the sound of a gunshot that fired off at the same time as a crack of thunder.  A woman screaming incoherently and then a non-tinny sound of Alastor's radio accent speaking in both French and another language he didn't quite understand, like he was broadcasting to someone unseen.  There was another gunshot and then nothing but the sound of rain before Angel then heard the sound of clothes being ripped, flesh being cut, splatters of blood on floors.  The sound of wetness dragging over surfaces, all through Alastor humming out soft music between more French and another language, almost like a chant.

The humming became louder and more breathy, almost excited with moans and laughter before Angel heard an overlay of Alastor's radio tin as a secondary voice, and then suddenly silence.  Silence that dragged on and on until the sound of footsteps through something wet on the wood floors, a gun being picked up, and Alastor making an exit through a door.

Angel swallowed hard, taking off the headphones with shaking hands and turning to Alastor, finding the demon sitting back in his chair with his hands over his face looking ravenous and blissful at the memory, his pupils like radio dials and smile wide and twitching.  He felt a shiver run down his spine at the image, putting the headphones down and walking over to the desk, carefully sitting on it as to avoid setting Alastor off violently.

It had to have been something ten times better to see than it was to hear, if Alastor was getting giddy from the MEMORY of it, he thought.  Hungry too, by the way he was salivating.  

Thinking back on it, he hadn't heard Alastor eat anything in that audio.  He wondered if there was a reason, but pushed it out of his head before figuring he COULD have Alastor eat a little something tonight.  His fingers nimbly unbuttoned his blazer, shrugging it off and setting it aside before tugging up his tank top underneath, the movement about enough to bring Alastor back to the present.  

"What are you doing?" Alastor asked, the radio tin back in his voice by habit.  Angel smiled and reached over to grab Alastor's decorative letter opener that he was SURE doubled as a dagger in a pinch.

"I can't let my beau stay here all night without somethin' t' eat," Angel replied, pressing the letter opener into his abdomen, easily drawing blood with how sharp it was.  "What kinda person would that make me?"

"Angel dear..."  Alastor trailed off when Angel gripped the letter opener tightly and pulled it horizontally across his abdomen, the spider letting out a choked hiss of pain as red stained his fur.  He was visibly salivating as Angel put the letter opener down and reached out with a shaking hand to hold Alastor's head.  

"Go on an' eat, babe," Angel said, and hardly had a moment to prepare before Alastor all but dove face-first into his cut abdomen and began biting and chewing off chunks of flesh to get into the organs.

Shit, if having his tongue chewed out was great, THIS was even better, Angel thought, biting his lip until it bled as he clenched his hands into Alastor's hair, feeling every gnash of teeth and swipe of tongue over his entrails.  Even if he ended the night passed out to heal up on Alastor's couch, he'd consider it a win.

He let out a breathy yelp when Alastor bit down a mouthful of his stomach, his hands shaking as one pair stayed clenched in Alastor's hair, the second pair gripping the edge of the desk to tightly the wood creaked and threatened to snap.  He wondered how much Alastor would eat, recalling an earlier conversation about the deer always being hungry and in constant temptation of feeding.  And here Angel Dust was, a walking, talking enabler who offered out his organs like a vending machine.

Truly, Hell was torture for some, a wonderland for others.

Angel snapped out of his musings when he noticed that there was no more chewing on his organs, and looked down to see Alastor staring up at him with a bloody mouth and a smaller smile indicating he was being thoughtful.  Angel gave him a little smile back, loosening his hands from Alastor's hair.  "...you doin' good, Al?" he asked, ignoring the twinge of screaming open muscles in his abdomen.

Alastor's aura made a low static sound, his eyes flicking from Angel's face to the opened abdominal tear, tracing his clawtip over both the edges he ate and the stitches from last time he cut into Angel that crossed over one another in a near-perfect Petrine Cross.  He wordlessly lifted his hands to lean Angel back onto the desk before snapping his fingers, his sewing supplies appearing in a brief flash of fire.  He surveyed out the damage first, using the letter opener to cut his fingertips open and mend the internal missing parts first before threading his needle and sewing Angel up..

The office was quiet save for the soft buzz of different stations, leaving Angel wondering if he'd overstepped a line somewhere along the way but he stayed quiet as Alastor finished his stitching and put it away.  Alastor stood up and gently scooped Angel up to carry him to the couch, settling him down.  

Angel's hand quietly traced his new stitches, glancing up at Alastor who had yet to wipe his own mouth clean.  "...too much?"

Alastor's aura flickered with static, his smile widening.  "Never enough," he amended, reaching down to cup Angel's cheek.  "You really have no idea how delicious you are, ange araignée.  I should have you taste sometime."

"I don't think I could really stomach that," Angel replied, leaning into Alastor's hand.  "Unless it's in some stew again...that was pretty nice."

"It's not th' same, sha," Alastor said, his eyes glowing.  "Y'don't KNOW...but that's fine."  He smiled, leaning down to kiss Angel's head.  "Like how I don't know 'bout what it means t' be sexually attracted t' someone."

Angel shrugged a little.  "...fair enough," he said with a smile.  "Didn't mean t' put a chink in ya diet plan."

"Dear, you are a treat I always have room for."

"Sappy shit."

Alastor rolled his eyes.  "Fine.  You are a 'snack'."

Angel laughed through the pulling at his stitches.  "That's more like it!"  He settled back, closing his eyes.  "'m a delicious fuckin' snack, don't fuckin', forget it..."  

"And I won't," Alastor said, draping Angel's blazer over his form.  "Rest now.  I'll wake you when I'm about to leave."

Angel didn't reply, already out like a light.  Alastor smiled, adjusting Angel's coat before going back to his own desk and sitting down hard, eyes trailing over the blood smears on his desk and on several pieces of paperwork and becoming aware of the blood still smeared on his face.  

Inside of him, a shadowy deer-skulled beast was snarling for more with fire and blood.  It wanted a heart, or it would TAKE one, somehow, some way, from someONE.

He'd heard Angel's heart beating as he ate, the sound fluttery and wonderful and full of such delightful affection.  Hearts tasted best full of adoration or full of despair, and in Hell, it was easier to fine one over the other.  

Adoring hearts were just so rare and wonderful, and he had one beating by his constant side so deliciously.

The one heart he couldn't bring himself to tear out if and when he would feel up to devouring one.

He sat forward in his chair, tapping his claws on the desk before waving his hand, a small handful of envelopes appearing in front of him.  They were all similar, but had little differences that marked which was whose.  

The envelope that had etchings of polkadots and curlicues.

The one with the four card suits in a pattern.

And his newest, decorated with hearts and stripes.

The souls that belonged to him, who all had special places in his life.

Just like the dozens that came before them, before he fulfilled their greatest wishes that led to their hearts being taken as sacrificial ends to their deals with him.  

But these three were different, they were hearts he felt that he couldn't take as sacrifice.  Niffty would never tire of helping him.  Husk would never let go of his past to truly belong to the present.  And Angel Dust...

Alastor's eyes flicked up to the sleeping spider on his couch.  No real 'deal' had been set between them as it had with Niffty or Husk, which made this contract all the more special.  It was one given willingly with nothing expected in return.

Satan-and-Kalfu-damned, Alastor was certain that Angel would offer his heart with his own hands if Alastor asked for it.

And as absolutely delicious and arousing as that image was, that would mean the end of everything.  A demon's heart was the one thing that didn't come back, ESPECIALLY when devoured.

So it was all he could do not to take that heart right from the spider's chest every single time he was cut open.  

Alastor held Angel Dust's contract envelope, running his thumb over the seal in the back.  It would be so easy to set the whole thing aflame, to release Angel of any and all consequences of being in his service.  

...soon, he promised, letting it go and snapping his fingers to vanish the envelopes away.  When Angel was more self-sufficient and comfortable with himself, he would burn the contract but continue to keep an eye on the spider, no matter what their relationship might be.

Huh, there was a thought.  What WOULD their relationship be a month, six months, a year from now?

If it was anything like it continued to be like now, Alastor felt that he could live with that.

 

Alastor couldn't bring himself to wake Angel up, choosing instead to teleport them both back to the Hotel.  He stepped out into Angel's room, carrying the spider to his bed and settling him down.  

The comforter and pillows really were plush and soft, he thought, making Angel comfortable before quietly taking off Angel's ankle boots.  He didn't know why Angel hated his feet, they look like little spider toes, the look almost like cloven deer hooves.  Almost cute.  He smiled, snapping his fingers to put a pair of comfortable pajamas on Angel and then tucked him in, watching him snuggle into his pillow.

Alastor didn't mean to pry, but it was interesting to be in Angel's room for a change, having only been inside from time to time.  It was very pink and white, obviously a personal overhaul job from comparing to the empty rooms in the Hotel, and it had a few of his own semi-tasteful movie posters framed on the walls.  Clothing bits were strewn about here and there, his vanity had makeup and body brushes scattered about, and the radio he'd gifted to the spider sat lovingly tended to on top of the bedside table.

On the bed, Angel had a good number of plush pillows and several blankets good for nesting.  Peeking out from under another pillow, naturally, was a personal toy that Alastor didn't linger on, and even in sleep Angel was reaching for a throw pillow to hold tightly in his arms.  It made sense to Alastor that Angel would like to cuddle something when he felt comfortable.

Perhaps he'd give Angel a cuddle toy of his own, he had plenty of materials to make one.  

Alastor snapped his fingers to turn the lights off and quietly turned the radio on to a quiet station for sleep ambiance, giving Angel's head a pet before heading out to his own room, shutting the door silently behind him.

"Gettin' a little forward there."

Alastor's head snapped to the side with his literal deer-in-the-headlights look at Husk, who was far too used to Alastor's quirks and was too buzzed anyway to care.  "Not forward at all!" Alastor proclaimed.  "Nothing forward about putting my beau to bed."

Husk rolled his eyes, grimacing.  "Spare me th' mushy shit," he grumbled.  "I was just sent up t' check on him since Charlie didn't see him come in."

Alastor smacked a hand to his head.  "Oh yes, forgot to call and tell Charlie he was working late with me," he berated himself.  "I'll speak to her myself."

Husk grunted in noncommittal reply, glancing at Angel's door.  "...workin', or...?"

"Husker my dear friend, I can assure you it was nothing that you're implying!" Alastor huffed.  "He merely...helped."

"Helped."

"Yes."

"I'm assumin' it had somethin' to do with that blood on yer face," Husk remarked, tapping a claw to his own face by his jawline.  Alastor sighed, licking his thumb and rubbing the dried blood off.

"Yes, it was.  Anything else?"

Husk scowled, crossing his arms though his eyes remained soft.  "...does he really help?" he asked.  "This..."  He made a vague gesture.  "...or is it just delaying the inevitable?"

Alastor shot him a sharp look that Husk met head on and unblinking.  "...it will not come to that," he said, adjusting his cuffs.  "I will burn his contract before it comes to that.  He made no deals in having me keep it."

"And if he'll never be ready?  Al, th' guy's literally incapable of living his own life without someone else's input.  He's malleable to almost anyone he forms a connection with.  He's with Valentino, he's th' perfect prostitute.  He's with you, he's a sacrificial lamb.  He's with Cherri Bomb, he's the goddamn getaway driver.  And now, here, he's bein' Charlie's perfect poster boy for change.  Would he be any o' that without a contract at all?  Would he still be someone you want?"

Alastor said nothing for a few moments before straightening himself and summoning his microphone.  "Good night, Husk," he said briskly, walking out of the hotel and bringing his microphone up to his mouth as he mentally tapped into the radio wave of Charlie's phone.  It rang twice before her line answered in his head.  

"Hello?"

"Charlie dear, it's Alastor.  I apologize for not calling you sooner, but Angel Dust stayed with me to help with last-minute details on our shows.  He's home now and in bed."

"Oh, that's good," Charlie sighed.  "But where are you?"

"I'm out, grabbing something to eat."

"...in what context?"

"Believe me when I say, Charlie, that this is for the good of the Hotel.  I'll be back in a few hours."

"...alright, Al.  Stay safe."

Alastor's eyes glowed brightly, almost salivating as he ran through a mental list of harvests.  

"I intend to."

 

Chapter Text

"Alastor, your 3:30 is here."

"Send them in," Alastor answered the pager, absently flipping through a few more things to get them out of the way.  He'd had a few meetings today from a few demons wanting to collaborate with his new tower and get a piece of the radio pie.  Only one had anything to really contribute, and he was more than a little tired of talking to people now.  He still had all his departments to personally peruse and get a feel for, and then an early clock-out to have dinner with Angel Dust.

Last meeting of the day, and then he was done.

His door opening alerted him to his appointment, but any greeting he had died with a sharp feedback sound when he saw the literal last person he wanted to see walk through the door.

"So glad you could make time for a meeting, Alastor," Vox said, helping himself to a chair and pulling it in front of Alastor's desk and sitting down.  "So how HAVE you been?"

Alastor's smile twitched, his fingers clenching tightly around his pen.  "Vox," he replied as his own bareboned greeting.  "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Business of course," Vox replied, crossing his legs and propping his hands on his knee.  "Speaking of, I have to say you've done quite  a job here with the renovations -"

"Cut the bullshit, Vox," Alastor said, his pupils going slightly dial-shaped.  "You want as much business to do with me as you want pictures to return to black and white.  What are you here for?"

Vox let out a dramatic sigh.  "And you used to be so hospitable," he said, his screen flickering with amusement.  "Is too much to believe that I want a partnership?"

"Absolutely."

"Yes, well, I'm only here to recover lost ground," Vox replied, his fingers drumming over his knee lightly.  "This little property here WAS partly mine."  He looked around.  "...gaudy as it used to be.  But still."

"And yet he still owned the title to everything here," Alastor stated.  "I looked through it thoroughly.  If you were entitled to anything, I would have let you know."

"Some agreements are not always set in stone, Al."  Vox's screen flickered again.  "Especially since I have a few things of my own that we had been discussing for some time that I could have been entitled to anyway."  He took an envelope out of his coat pocket and flicked it onto Alastor's desk.  

Alastor looked at it with distaste before picking it up, seeing that it WAS in official stationary usually used for agreements of this sort.  If it was unsigned, it could only mean that either Valentino was bullshitting around, or they had made the agreement together within days of Val being killed.  He opened it and pulled out a folded contract that had listings of property borders, media shares, and ownership trade-offs.  It all looked pretty mild as far as Alastor was concerned before his mental record scratch became audible at one of the items listed. 

Angel Dust's contract.

"...in what world do you live in that showing me this would benefit you in ANY way?" he asked through clenched teeth, his fingers itching to tear the whole thing to pieces.  Vox shrugged, unrepentant.

"Last time I tuned in, this was Hell, and the benefit is getting what was promised to me."  Vox's digital smile flickered.  "Though to be honest, that particular arrangement has been on the ropes for about forty years now."

"Absolutely not," Alastor said firmly, slapping the contract down on the desk.  "Angel is not for sale."

Vox laughed, the sound almost glitched.  "Oh Alastor, you know more than anyone that if they have a contract, they're for sale."  His digital grin went sharp.  "Though they don't usually last VERY long in your hold."

"Vox."

"Does he even know what happens to those under your employ?"

Alastor's aura went static with the sound of feedback, his claws digging into his desk.  "Enough, Vox."

"No, I don't think so."  Vox sat back in the chair, smile glitching again.  "Have you even told him?  I mean, Val was at least always very upfront with what he wanted from the little spider."  He drummed his fingers over his knee again.  "But I suppose that's something we have in common.  We like our meal tickets just on the fence and waiting for greener pastures we can offer them.  Making them offers they can't refuse."  He tipped his head almost curiously.  "But what a surprise when I find out that you got his contract with nothing set in return.  How nostalgic."

It took an admirable amount of restraint to keep from putting his fist through Vox's screen, but Alastor managed to do it.  "Nostalgic?  Spare me, you haven't done anything for nothing in return ever."

"Oh, you'd be surprised."  Vox's smile went wider.  "I had a nice little internship with YOU, didn't I?"

"Yes, and then after a couple of years, broadcast to half the Pentagram about what an 'obsolete has-been' I was, take some of my business partners out from under me, and proceed to ghost me except to give me the proverbial finger for sixty years.  I hardly think any of that was out of anything but spite."  He folded his hands on his desk, keeping his veves under his fingertips for now.  "I know your type, Vox.  You weedle your way in, take what you want, and then you dash away with your prizes.  Your intention is never to make real friends or allies, it's to get cash cows."

Vox smiled.  "Yes, and?" he said.  "We're in HELL, Alastor!  And what's more, we're the best of the worst down here.  Myself, who makes connections all over the Pentagram to put my flag down, offering back twice as much as I'm given over time as long as they remain useful.  And you, who came here with one of the highest regards of a mortal soul, a curse-placer, a deal-maker, a goddamn CANNIBAL."  He laughed.  "And that hardly covers when you were ALIVE.  I mean, I screwed people out of life and livelihood, but YOU.  You were a demon before you even died."

His screen flickered through several 'channels', playing back several quick clips of Alastor's carnage from bits and pieces of Vox's cameras before returning to his face.  "And yet here you are."  He splayed his hands.  "Playing lovey-dovey with a whore, going so far as to off his pimp.  The question is why?  What do you get out of it?  What does HE get out of it?"

Alastor gnashed his teeth, only the idea that television screens tasting horrendous keeping him from going feral.  "We get plenty, not that it's any of your business, Vox," he growled.  "Speaking OF business, weren't you -"

"Yes yes, about that part," Vox interrupted, smiling.  "I'm getting the distinct impression that your little 'relationship' is almost entirely one-sided."  He propped his head up on his hand, distorted chuckling almost overlapping Alastor's angry static.  "After all, you're Hellwide known for being a prude with little give to your standards.  And Angel Dust is VERY well known for bowing to any standards given to him, so long as he gets some scrap of affection."

Alastor's poor desk would definitely need a replacement with all of the claw marks etched into it.  "You -"

"Tell me, Al, do you even know his favorite food?"  Vox's smile grew more distorted.  "His favorite song?  His family's names?  His LIVING name?  His favorite movie?  His favorite non-sex activity?  Because I do."  

"Vox -"

"Because unlike you, I was able to give him what he wanted."

There was a sharp feedback sound before Alastor closed his eyes and focused every single ounce of self control he had into staying right where he was, his veves behind his fingers, and teeth in his mouth.  He inhaled, held it, then exhaled, opening his eyes and keeping his grin plastered on his face.  "...you didn't give him what he NEEDED, then, if he's with me, and not you."

Vox's screen flickered before he returned the grin.  "Is that so?" he asked, then his screen fizzled in changing channels, settling on a 'channel'.

Alastor felt his blood pressure rise again, seeing a first-person view of Angel Dust lying on his side in a bed, naked and looking completely blissed and HAPPY.  Angel giggled, reaching forward like he was running his hand over Vox's screen.

"You've gotta be th' best thing that's happened t' me in Hell, Vox," Angel purred, beaming brightly with a definite blush of bashfulness.  "...and...y'know what?"

"What's that, baby?" Vox's voice asked.

"...you've gotta be th' first man I've ever loved."  

Alastor felt his hands go cold, watching Angel shift to curl his arms around Vox, absolute worship in the spider's eyes.  "Is that okay?  That I love ya, Vox?"

Vox's voice laughed almost fondly.  "Sure thing, dollface."

"Then I love you, Vox."

The recording rewound, repeating 'I love you Vox' again before it went static and Vox's face reappeared, grinning wide.  "I'm going to just assume he's never told you that," he said.  "But then, I gave him more than you did."  He uncrossed his legs and stood up, adjusting his jacket lapel.  "If you don't want to fuck him, that's fine, MORE than fine, that's all you.  But I wouldn't mind at all having him sent my way again."  He shot Alastor a finger gun.  "Keep those other arrangements in mind, Alastor.  I'll have my people send over my own contributions to the place for you to consider.  Until then, good seeing you again."  

Alastor said nothing as Vox left his office.  He didn't move an inch from his spot until his intercom beeped and informed him that his departments were ready for reviewing.  

He took another deep breath and let it out, smiled, and replied, "I'll be right there!"

Then he picked up his desk and threw it out of the window.

 

Angel Dust hummed as he put the finishing touches out on the arrangement he set up in Alastor's room, having decided to treat Alastor to a large full-course Italian meal.  He could almost hear his other, bless her soul, saying "Your tesoro is always hungry?  You feed him like family, mio figlio."  And of course, she'd be right.

There was almost enough to comfortably feed the rest of the Hotel here, but whatever.  Alastor would eat it, claim he was full, and then jump at the chance for any dessert.  

He looked up when he heard Alastor's door opening, smiling as he smoothed down his skirt and blazer.  "Just on time, Al!" he chirped.  "Hope you're as hungry as y' always say y' are, you're about t' get th' Italian specialty!"

Alastor stepped in, looking at the large spread of food on the table with a smile that looked just a little forced in Angel's opinion.  Angel smiled and pulled out Alastor's chair for him.  "Hard day at work?" he asked sympathetically, knowing today was meeting day.

"...you could say that," Alastor replied, sitting himself down, remaining quiet as Angel sat down across from him.

"Must've been some real jerkoffs," Angel remarked, piling up some food on his plate.  "But nothin' some lovin' from th' oven can't fix."

"I love you, Vox."

Alastor forced his hands to unclench and set to piling his own food, his rising temper making the shadowy beast in his soul roar for a kill.  He took a few bites, absolutely hating the fact that Angel's delicious cooking tasted like ash on his tongue but being ravenous enough to not care.  The few bites became entire mouthfuls of food being torn into with hardly any mindfulness of table manners.  When he finally swallowed a mouthful of bread down, he looked upward to see Angel staring at him in humored bemusement.

"Damn, didja even eat lunch, Al?" Angel asked.  "Remind me t' at least send someone over with somethin' when I'm not workin'."  

Alastor couldn't find a response for that, and just nodded, eating a bit more.  It wasn't until he saw Angel staring at him again that he realized he'd contributed no conversation at all to the table.

"...are you sure you're alright, Alastor?" Angel asked, putting his fork down.  "If you weren't up for dinner, you could'a told me so."

"After your hard work?  Of course not, Angel."

Angel rolled his eyes.  "Please, Al, I'd have fed th' rest of th' Hotel an' cooked again later.  I love cookin'."

"I love you, Vox."

For the first time in what had to be the first time in Hell, Alastor felt like his meal was coming back up.  What the absolute HELL was wrong with him?  He took a moment for the feeling to pass before wiping his mouth, putting the napkin down with just enough unnecessary force for Angel to frown and lean back from the table.

"...Al.  Please.  Talk to me, dolcezza.  I can't help if I don't know."

Alastor wanted so hard to believe Angel could help.  He did.  Hard enough that he felt obligated to say, "I had a meeting with Vox today."

Angel blinked.  "...oh," he said, taking a small sip of wine.  "Well, he's a jerk, isn't he?  That's just who he is.  He couldn't have said anythin' THAT upsetting for YOU."

"I love you Vox."

"...you would be surprised," Alastor said through his teeth.  "He just...gets under my skin.  In the worst ways."

Angel let out a soft snort.  "Don't I know about that," he muttered, the darkness in his eyes going unnoticed by Alastor. 

"I love you, Vox."

"I would have guessed you might get along well," Alastor said, the small part of him that kicked him in the tail for such a petulant thing being overshadowed by Angel's face, his body, his LOVING LOOK at Vox.  Angel shot him a look, eyes narrowing.

"The hell you implyin' Al?" he demanded, putting his wine glass down.  "Because I ain't done NOTHIN' that'd say I'd -"

He was cut off when Alastor's aura went static, the radios in his room crackling before Angel's voice came through.

"You've gotta be th' best thing that's happened t' me in Hell, Vox."

"...you've gotta be th' first man I've ever loved."  

"I love you, Vox."

"I love you, Vox."

"I love you, Vox."

"I love you, Vox."

Like a broken record before Alastor slammed his hands on the table for some semblance of self-control, his aura and the radios fizzling out.  When the static cleared from his eyes, he saw Angel staring wide-eyed, two hands over his mouth with another pair clenching his jacket tightly.  The silence was louder than Alastor's worst static for what seemed like hours before Angel slowly lowered his shaking hands to press them to the table.

"...where...h...how...?"

Alastor's teeth ground together tightly.  "Vox had an...INFORMATIVE recording for me," he answered.  "Something I wasn't exactly...THRILLED to see, you understand -"

"Al, that's not...it's not what it -"

"So it was just bedroom talk?" Alastor asked, his radio tin almost hollow and his claws pressing into the table.  "Sweet little nothings for a client?"

"No!  I...I mean...!"

"Because it sounded very genuine to me."

"Because it WAS!"  Angel froze.  "...it...it WAS...in th' PAST, Al -!"

"Are you sure about that?  Because LOVE isn't something one just FORGETS."

Angel stared in still silence for a good long moment, and Alastor barely had the time to see all eight of Angel's eyes turn black before the spider jumped to his feet and hurled his glass of wine into Alastor's face.  

"FUCK YOU, ALASTOR!" Angel screamed, one pair of hands buried in his hair while a second swiped his place setting off the table.  "FUCK YOU!  FUCK ALL O' YOU GODDAMN OVERLORDS!  YOU'RE ALL TH' SAME, JUST STRINGING ME IN T' GET WHATEVER TH' FUCK YOU WANT OUTTA ME, AN' THEN YOU THROW ME AWAY LIKE GARBAGE!"  He let out a heaving sob, his claws digging into his face.  "Stupid!  Puttana stupida, you never FUCKIN' LEARN!"  He buried his face in his hands.  "Buono a nulla puttana stupida...!"

He shoved away from the table and ran out of Alastor's room in a near-instant, leaving Alastor seated at the table.  

It took just moments for Alastor's smile to fade from his face.

It took another for the Hotel to stop shaking from his internalized wrath that destroyed his room entirely.

 

Angel slammed his door shut, taking choked heaving breaths between sobs as twice-torn wounds began ripping open again, spilling out every fear, insecurity, and kicking-screaming call to make it all go away.  

He stalked to his bed and shoved it to the side, clawing at the floorboards to dislodge one and pull out the drugs he'd stashed away when he began his arrangement with Alastor.

'Just another fucking overlord,' his brain hissed.  'Another overlord who wanted to stake claim on you.  What overlord would want a stupid gullible whore to love for real?'

He let out another sob, fingers shaking as he folded some paper into a crease, filling the crease with white powder.

 

"Angelcakes, you know I adore ya.  Come with me, and I'll take good care o' ya forever."

 

He tipped his head back, emptying the powder onto his tongue.

 

"You're the sweetest little thing, dollface.  I'm charmed that you love me."

 

He swallowed, another pair of hands grabbing a bottle of vodka to twist the cap off and take a chaser swig.

 

"I as a buck tend to be more than a little possessive and territorial with what I consider mine."

"Mon ange araignée"

"Aren't you th' prettiest beau o' the ball, darlin'?"

"I ain't like him, sha.  I ain't gon' deny ya nature anymore tha' ya deny me mine."

"Dear, you are a treat I always have room for."

 

"Stupid..." Angel murmured, curling up on the floor as his weeks of sobriety unraveled as wretchedly as his heart in his chest, and for the third time since coming here, wished for a double-death to make this particular brand of pain go away.

"...so stupid."

 

Chapter Text

Against the express warnings from Husk, Charlie couldn't take not knowing what in the world was going on that would cause the entire Hotel to shake.  It had been almost three hours since, and enough was enough since nobody was coming forth to give an answer.  If anything, she at least wanted to make sure everyone was okay.

"Angel?" she called, knocking on the door.  "Angel, are you okay?  Did you feel that shaking?"

Vaggie frowned at the silence.  "You know, Al said they were having a...ugh...date tonight.  He's probably still in Alastor's room."

Charlie looked at the door again, noting a slight beam of light underneath.  "...no, he's in there," she said.  "And he's a light sleeper, he would've heard something."  She chewed her lip, taking the master keys out of her pocket.  "Angel, I'm coming in as a wellness check, okay?"  She unlocked the door and pushed it open, eyes immediately falling onto the curled-up form of Angel Dust on the floor next to his bed.  "Angel!"

Vaggie hurried in after her, grimacing at the powdery residue and mostly-empty bottle of vodka.  "Oh shit, what the hell?"

"Angel!"  Charlie shook his shoulder.  "Angel, talk to me, what happened?!"

Angel Dust curled up tighter, pushing back at her weakly, his whole body shaking with the cocktail he'd put into himself.  Charlie stood up.  "Vaggie, stay with him!"  She hurried out of Angel's room to find Alastor's door, banging on it.  "ALASTOR!  AL, ANGEL'S IN TROUBLE!  OPEN UP!"  She reached for a doorknob but felt her heart sink when she found it wasn't there.  "ALASTOR!"

She pounded on the door until her fit hurt, and before she had a mind to blast it down herself, she felt Husk grab her shoulder and shove her away from the door.  "Hey-"

"ALASTOR, GET THE FUCK OUT HERE!" Husk shouted, punching the middle of the door.  When there was no answer, he pushed Charlie back further before splaying out his wings, the suits on his feathers glowing as a doorknob formed out of nothing.  "Stay out," he commanded to Charlie before opening the door and stalking in.

The inside of Alastor's room was an absolute WRECK.  It literally looked like a bomb and then some had exploded inside, in addition to several large beasts going ape-crazy with the remains.  Husk growled, walking around the ruins looking for any sign of his asshole deer boss, stepping over shattered remains of radio and furniture, until he made it to the far end sitting room.  "You gotta be fuckin' kidding me."

Alastor sat back against a wall, looking in complete disarray with several wine bottles scattered around him and another in his hand, a small untouched radio in front of him playing garbled pieces of conversations between himself and Angel Dust.  He didn't acknowledge Husk in his room, nor anything else around him, and simply stared at the radio as he tipped back another drink.

Husk almost spat nails at the display before stalking over and grabbing the bottle form Alastor's hand, throwing it against the wall and snatching him up by the arm.  "Let's fuckin' go, you asshole!" he snarled, dragging Alastor to the door through ruins.  Alastor snarled, jerking his arm back to little avail to Husk's grip.

"Don't touch me!" he snapped, his radio tin gone entirely.  Husk ignored him, dragging him out of the room and past Charlie, who didn't know what to make of Husk manhandling Alastor, who didn't even look like he could stand upright.  "Let me go, chat connard stupide!"

Husk didn't let go, dragging him all the way to Angel's room while ignoring Charlie's pleading for an answers and Alastor shouting threats in French.  When they got closer to Angel's door, Alastor snarled, wrenching at his arm while his antlers extended, his eyes going dial-shaped.  "LET ME GO BEFORE I TEAR OUT YOUR ENTRAILS!" he roared, the image making Charlie and Vaggie cower back, though Husk just gave him a nasty look.

"You and I both know you ain't gonna fuckin' do SHIT," Husk snapped.  "I don't know what the fuck your problem is, or what HIS problem is -"  He pointed to Angel's door.  " -but I know for GODDAMN SURE I'm to damn old to be playin' fuckin' babysitter for everyone in this place!"  He reached up to grab one of Alastor's antlers, jerking him to the door.  "So quit embarrassing me and yourself an' FUCKIN' FIX IT!"  He shoved Alastor into Angel's room, turning to Charlie.  "Seal th' room."

"Wha -"

"SEAL THE FUCKIN' ROOM, PRINCESS!"

Charlie yelped and hurried to the door, her eyes glowing and horns sprouting as she traced her finger over the door, sealing it shut entirely for the next twelve hours.  "...Husk, what if they...I mean, they're not right with each other right now, what if they hurt each other?"

"Not my fuckin' problem," Husk snapped.  "I'm tired o' bein' the only fuckin' adult here.  Leave 'em alone, leave ME alone, an' let 'em work out their shit like goddamn grown adults."  He stalked back downstairs, hissing and grumbling to himself.  

Charlie and Vaggie looked between themselves and then at Angel's sealed door, hoping that when it opened, nothing bad would be found inside.

 

Alastor hit at the door that refused to unlock for him before giving up and standing back, his head swimming from the combined effort and rage before he had an inkling of where he was.  He turned and saw Angel Dust half-lying on the floor, the spider giving him a glare full of pain and anger.

"Fuck you doin' here, asshole?" he snapped, pushing himself upright.  "Get th' fuck outta my room!"

Alastor scowled, hitting the door again, but was too inebriated to properly remember how to call up his own power to break through.  Or to realize there was a window nearby.  He turned back to Angel, who was dragging himself upright and stumbling on his legs.  

"Get out!"

"I can't!"  Alastor could barely stand still upright as Angel stumbled over and shoulder past him to pull at the doorknob and pound at it.  "I told ya -"

"OPEN TH' FUCKIN' DOOR!" Angel screeched, hitting and clawing at the door.  "GODDAMN IT!"  He punched the door again before turning to shove at Alastor.  "This is all YOUR fault, you fucker!"

Alastor scowled, pushing Angel back.  "Don' give me tha' shit!" he snapped back.  "I ain't done an'thin'!"

"FUCK you!"  Angel pushed him again, tears swimming in his eyes.  "FUCK you, you goddamn overlord bastardo!  I was th' one who didn't do shit!"  He hit at Alastor's chest.  "I TOLD ya, it was th' PAST!  I TOLD ya I fuckin' hate th' sonofabitch!  YOU were th' one t' throw it all back in my face!"  He cried harder, still hitting at Alastor's chest until Alastor grabbed two of his hands.  "Let go!"

Alastor kept his grip as tight as he could.  "You didn' tell me 'bout any o' tha'!" he shot back.  

"Why th' fuck do ya even CARE!?" Angel shouted.  "I'm just th' stupid fuckin' whore, ain't I!?  Someone t' buy an' sell an' use an' BREAK!"

"I ain't tryin' t' break ya!"  Alastor pushed Angel's hands from him.  "I ain't EVER tried t' break ya!  I was doin' everythin' I damn well could t' make ya HAPPY, wasn't I!?"

"I WAS HAPPY, MOTHERFUCKER!" Angel screamed.  "I WAS SO FUCKIN' HAPPY!  YOU MADE ME HAPPY!"  He threw a punch at Alastor's face, his swing sloppy and only managing to graze the other's cheek.  Alastor leaned back and grabbed Angel's wrist again.

"Not happy 'nough, apparently!"  He rubbed his temple with his other hand, a migraine pounding at his head that only further soured his mood.  "Why th' devil you even leave someone ya loved -"  Angel's free hand made better work in making contact with Alastor's face, albeit with less force than he wished to as he burst into screaming sobs.

"BECAUSE HE BROKE MY FUCKIN' HEART YA BASTARD!"  He hit at Alastor's chest.  "HE FUCKIN' CRUSHED ME LIKE I WAS NOTHIN', PLAYED ME LIKE A GODDAMN VIOLIN, ALL JUST FOR FUN!"  He kept hitting at Alastor's chest, crying louder until his sobs drained him of any lingering strength he had, dropping to the floor almost retching from the strain it took to scream.  "He...he fuckin'...an' I was...it was a fuckin' JOKE...!"  He curled up on himself, crying himself hoarse.

Above him, Alastor stared down at Angel, his lingering anger beginning to drain from his body, leaving him with just a sore chest, a pounding migraine, and a sickening sadness in his gut.  He knelt down on the floor next to Angel, hesitating before reaching out to touch Angel's shoulder.  "Mon ange -"

"DON'T call me that!" Angel cried, hitting the floor with his fist.  "I'm not ya angel!  I'm not ya 'sha', I'm ya fuckin' whore!  Says so on my goddamn contract!"  He pushed up again, glaring up at Alastor with angry, tear-stung eyes.  "So why doncha cut th' shit an' start treatin' me like a whore instead o' someone you're pretendin' t' give a shit about!"

Alastor's hand clenched before he grabbed Angel's shoulder and shoved him back.  "If there's one thin' Alastor don' do, it's 'PRETEND', sha," he snapped.  "I ain't ever faked my feelings for nothin' or no one 'fore, an' I sure a' hell ain't started wit' you!"

"Fuckin' liar!"

"It ain't no lie, imbécile têtu!"  Alastor sloppily snapped his fingers, Angel's contract envelope appearing in his hand.  "I kept this for ya 'cause ya wanted me to!  If ya don' wan' it no more, then I'll set ya free an' show ya y' ain't a whore t' me!"  He grabbed the envelope with both hands, only to have Angel dive on him, grabbing for it.  

"NO!" Angel shrieked, eyes wide with panic.  "NO, YA CAN'T -!"

Alastor tugged it out of Angel's reach, pushing at him with his free hand.  "I ain't gon' have ya sayin' nothin' 'bout how yer only a whore t' me!"

"A whore is what I am!  It's all I CAN be!"

"SAYS WHO!?" Alastor snarled, shoving Angel and pinning him back.  "I ain't ever treated ya like a whore!"

Angel squabbled for the envelope, tearing at Alastor's shirt and arms with his claws.  "Just ya fuckin' dinner, right?  Did I even taste good, after havin' my insides used by half th' fuckers in Hell?!"

"GODDAMN IT, SHA, I DON' CARE 'BOUT ANY O' THA'!" Alastor shouted.  

"THEN WHY TH' FUCK ARE YOU SO UPSET WITH ME!?" Angel sobbed.

"'CAUSE YOU SAID IT TO HIM!"

"WELL I FUCKIN' MEANT IT FOR YOU!"

Silence rang through the room between them before Angel covered his face with his hands, letting out a loud wail of shame.  "...shit..." he whimpered.  "Fuck, shit...I...I didn't mean t'....'m sorry, Al -"  He winced when he felt Alastor shift off of him.  "Al...'m sorry...!"  When he heard nothing but silence, he lowered his hands, feeling a twist in his guts when he saw Alastor sitting back with his face in his hands.  "...Al -"

"Y'mean tha'?" Alastor muttered into his hands, not looking up.  "...y'mean t' love me?"  He shook his head before rubbing his face hard, looking up at the ceiling.  "Mère, donne moi de la force, I can't do this..."  A forced smile broke across his face in a reflexive habit as he rubbed his temples.  "Quelle comédie, lovin' somethin' like me.  Quelle cruauté, sayin' somethin' like tha'."

Angel turned to his side, sniffling as he curled up shaking on the floor.  "It's only a fuckin' joke what got us here," he muttered.  "I can't....I can't do this anymore...I jus' can't..."  He let out a shaky breath, half-crawling himself back to his stash and forcing himself upright, cracking open his bottle of vodka.  "Goddamn it, why th' fuck can't this shit kill me anymore? Stupid fuckin' demon bullshit..."  He tossed the cap away, scowling.  "...I hate my afterlife."

Alastor let out a humorless laugh, his smile frozen in place.  "...Hell for a reason, sha," he said.  "I ain't s'posed t' have fun all th' time, what better way t' show me than somethin' like this."  He rubbed his face, watching Angel take a hard swig of vodka before numbly standing and walking over, dropping down hard across from him.  "...Angel."

"What."  Angel took another swig.  

"...I'm sorry."

Angel almost spit the vodka out, coughing after it went down hard.  He wiped his mouth, staring at Alastor.  "...yer what?"

"I'm sorry."  He rubbed the bridge of his nose, his smile twitching.  "I was...out o' line wit' what I said."

"...then why'd y' say it?" Angel asked.  "Why'd y' just...take whatever th' fuck Vox said at any kinda face value?"

Alastor sighed heavily, leaning back against the side of Angel's bed hard.  "...I ain't lyin' when I said I feel territorial.  Possessive.  An' seein' you...LOOK at him like tha'...th' way you look at ME like tha'..."

"Al.  It was forty years ago."

"I know."

"I ain't even touched him since."

"I figured."

Angel scowled at the wall.  "...you hurt me."

"...I know."

"...I should'a told you."

"No -"

"YES.  I know that Vox is yer biggest rival.  I should'a told ya.  If anythin' just t' keep him away."  Angel wiped his face, sighing tiredly.  "...I just...didn't wanna reopen that scar."

Alastor scoffed.  "As though I didn't tear it open m'self," he muttered.  "As though he wasn't wrong 'bout some things."

Angel chewed his lip, hands clenching around the bottle.  "...like...?"

"...I don't know yer favorite song.  Yer favorite picture.  Wha' flowers y'like.  Yer goddamn NAME."  Alastor rubbed his face, his smile twitching again.  "An' I call m'self yer beau."

"Al, shit like that don't matter!  What really matters is how much you've done for me -"

"Which in th' grand scheme o' things ain't nothin'."  Alastor was quit for a moment before grabbing another bottle and taking a hard swig, grimacing and looking at the label.  "Merde, Husk wouldn't drink this bottom-shelf swill."  He sighed, shaking his head.  "...mon ange, what have I actually done for ya tha' I wouldn't have compromised m'self?  Most I've done for ya is kiss ya.  Y' can't tell me tha' you've been satisfied."

Angel looked down guiltily.  "...I haven't," he admitted.  "...I didn't...want t' chase y' off.  By askin' for more than what you've already given."

Alastor was quiet for a long moment.  "...at this point...nothin' could chase me off from ya.  I wouldn't want t' leave."  He paused.  "...I wouldn't want you t' leave either."

"...I'll admit I'm feelin' th' urge to," Angel replied bitterly.  "I fuckin'...I feel like SHIT, Al...like my fuckin' heart's been ripped out again, an' not in th' good way."  He buried a hand into his hair, pulling at it slightly.  "First by Val, then Vox, now you.  It's too fuckin' familiar..."  He sniffled, shaking his head.  "Fuck, an' you had t' make it harder with apologizin' an' shit..."  He took another drink of vodka, scowling at the floor between them.

Alastor took a drink of his own, ignoring the taste of whatever it was.  "...I want t' make things right again," he said quietly.  "...I really do."

"Prove it."

"Quoi?"

"Prove it.  Prove you wanna by doin' somethin' you'd never done before with me."

Alastor swallowed hard, his fingers tightening around the bottle.  "...what'd y'have in mind, sha?" he asked.  Angel sat up straight, leaning over to him, only to reach into the open floorboard next to him, pulling out a white bag.  

"Finish this with me," Angel said seriously.  "Take it, feel th' ecstasy an' absolute fuckery o' soberin' up that I do, REALLY get what it is t' be fucked up.  An' then don't do fuckshit about th' hangover."  He shook the bag a little.  "Deal?"

Alastor shook his head.  "No deals, sha," he said, then took the bag.  "Jus' show me how t' do this."

Angel gave him a rundown of how to take it, then took his own with a chaser of vodka again, sitting back against the wall.  Alastor did the same against the bed, fingers drumming on the floor.  "...how long 'till it kicks in?" he asked.

"First-timers need a minute, though with th' booze it'll get there faster," Angel replied.  Alastor nodded, closing his eyes.  

"...Angel?"

"Yeah?"

"...what's yer favorite song?"

Angel pulled his knees up, hugging them.  "...it's...'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby', Louis Jordan," he said, blushing.  "Yours?"

Alastor managed a smile.  "'You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile'," he replied.

"Figured."

"Yes, well, it's true."  His fingers drummed a little faster.  "My name is Alastor LeBlanc."

Angel looked up sharply.  "Uh..."

"M' daddy was mulatto an' took Mama's name so I'd have it, hopin' I'd have a better life, an' I did, I had...I had a good childhood."  Alastor's smile went wide again.  "...made sense then, that m'life would be so sinful, eh?"  His claws dragged into the floor.  "An' when I died -"

"Al, shush, yer havin' a trip -"

"Got chased through th' bayou, sheriff dogs almost tore me t' pieces 'fore I got shot in th' head."  He laughed, clenching his eyes shut.  "I hate dogs, y'know, jus' hate 'em...!"

"Al."  Angel reached out and pulled Alastor to him by the shoulders, settling the other demon's head on his chest.  "Shh, I know.  Wasn't fond o' th' yappy fuckers myself.  Shh."  He settled back, feeling Alastor bury his face into his chest fluff like a comfort blanket.  "...Al?"

"...hm?"

"...my name's Angelo Ragno."

"...'s a nice name."

"I hate it.  Hate th' family name, th' family business...I was a mobster, y'know."

"Huh."

"Yeah.  Th' family disappointment, bein' a crossdresser, gay, high on our own supply all th' fuckin' time, an' then a streetwalker.  I took too much one day an'...here I am."  He felt Alastor snuggle into his chest and shuddered before grabbing his bottle and drinking from it again.  Stamp down any bad actions with Alastor literally face-first in his chest.  

"...I lost my virginity to a corpse."

Angel spewed his mouthful of vodka out, coughing.  "Al, what th' fuck!?"  Alastor only buried his face deeper into his chest as though to smother himself.  "Jeezus fuck, hellova bomb t' drop!"

"Am I goin' 'member this when I'm sober?"

"Shit, I hope not."  He paused.  "...I do know a buncha drugs that'll simulate death -"

"NO."

Angel laughed, tears dripping down his face, not knowing what emotion it was he was currently feeling.  "...w...worth a shot, right?"  He dropped the bottle, not caring that the rest spilled out, curling his arms around Alastor's head and shoulders.  "'m so fucked up right now, Al...I don't know what t' do...!"  His body shook hard, hardly feeling arms curling around his middle.

"...'s okay, sha," Alastor murmured.  "Me too."

 

Charlie was pacing outside of the door counting the minutes down do the spell on the door ending.  Husk told her earlier to just leave it be, but screw it, she was worried and NEEDED to know if they were okay.

"Charlie, it'll be okay," Vaggie assured.  

"I don't know that!" Charlie wailed.  "WHY did I let Husk make me do that?!"  She looked up when the marks she traced onto the door glowed and vanished.  It took all she had not to throw the door open, and quickly took Vaggie's hand to squeeze it to give her strength.  "...okay," she breathed.  "Okay, let's do this."

Vaggie nodded and was on standby as Charlie quietly took the doorknob and turned it, cracking the door open.  When no sounds of unholy terror screams reached her ears, she peeked inside mentally murmuring the mantra 'please didn't kill each other please didn't kill each other' over and over.  

No sign of a bloody conflict, good sign?  She edged inside, looking around until she saw legs on the floor on the other side of Angel's bed.  She tiptoed over, peering around to see better.

Angel Dust was lying back on the floor, one arm over his face as he snored softly with another arm around Alastor who was using Angel's chest as a pillow.  Scattered around them both were empty bottles and little baggies with white residue, which at the moment were the least of her worries.  Worries were assuaged when she saw Alastor snuggle into Angel's chest almost sweetly.

Charlie smiled a little, easing out of the room and closing the door behind her.

As for the paraphernalia around them, she figured the hangover would be enough punishment later.  For now, she needed to call Alastor's station to let them know he wouldn't be there that day.

 

Husk looked up when Alastor stumbled in late that night after most everyone else went to bed, arching a brow at the absolute WRECK the man looked.  Mussed hair, shirt and slacks only, and look of death twice over.  Alastor walked over to the bar and sat down.  "...ginger ale, please," he said, sounding close to ill.  

"Dare I ask?" Husk asked, pouring out a ginger ale and then another glass with water and a seltzer tablet, pushing it over.  

Alastor took the ginger ale, sipping it.  "...PCP is not fun," was all he said.  Husk stared at him.

"...holy hells, what the fuck even HAPPENED in there!?"

Alastor's head just hit the bar in reply.  "...'m a terrible beau.  So I took PCP an' bad tequila t' make up for it.  I threw up in th' hallway."

Husk still stared.  "...and...where is Angel Dust?"

"Put 'im t' bed.  His chest is very soft."  He took another sip of ginger ale.  "...when all this over, pretend this didn't happen."

"Y'dont have to tell me twice," Husk said, already opening a bottle of whiskey.

"Good man.  You get a raise."

"You don't pay me."

"A day off then."

"Deal."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Angel Dust sat quietly in bed, having done nothing but since he woke up an hour ago.

He remembered most of last night, starting from the disaster of a dinner to holding onto Alastor while they both broke down from boiled-over emotions and drugs.  It was almost frightening to know that the Radio Demon was capable of reaching those bottom-of-the-well levels, as powerful as the other man was.  He'd seen Alastor scream and cry and break down, even dropping so low as to actually agree to helping Angel polish off his PCP stash.

To see Alastor so vulnerable was eye-opening for different reasons.  Alastor felt deeply enough for him to feel threatened by Vox and lose any sensibility of himself.  Felt enough remorse to drink himself stupid before being put in Angel's room, and then take Angel's drugs on top of that.  To spill life wounds and fall asleep with him.

Angel didn't like the kind of effect he had on Alastor that way.  It was the same effect two others had on him before, and despite this being Hell, he wouldn't want to wish that sort of pain on anyone.  

He sighed, rubbing his sore head as he looked around his room.  Nothing had been broken or destroyed, and the bottles and baggies from yesterday were cleaned up and gone.  He knew that Alastor had woken up before him and tidied up, which Angel was grateful for.  He needed time to think about where to go from here.

They couldn't just pick back up where they left off, and he knew that Alastor would feel the same.  If they were to even continue this relationship, there would need to be a lot of talking.

Angel hated talking like that.  It gave him bad anxiety, and this was no different.  This was a definite make-or-break of a relationship with the one person who met him halfway in both good and bad.  It scared him enough that he was staying in bed and not getting up to wash himself or rehydrate or anything.  He was afraid it would jinx out any form of good luck.

A soft knock at his door almost made him look up, deliberating for a moment before answer.  "...come in?"

His door opened and Alastor stepped in with a small tray.  The Radio Demon was smiling again, but it was softer and more tempered like he was trying to assuage any of Angel's knee-jerk fears.  He closed the door behind him and walked over to Angel's bed, setting the tray down next to the radio, a glass of water and a seltzer tablet paired with salt beef.  Alastor put the seltzer tablet in the water and handed the glass to Angel, who took it and sipped quietly while trying not to make eye contact.

Alastor didn't push for conversation, simply sitting back as Angel finished the seltzer slowly.  Angel sighed as his migraine slowly subsided, but made no move to eat the food, just sitting there with his hands in his lap.  Alastor just quietly waited, saying nothing and making no sound.

Finally, Angel spoke.  "...how much trouble am I in?"

Alastor laughed, shaking his head.  "None, sha," he replied.  "I messaged Charlie.  All things considered, you were punished enough."  His smile went sad.  "And it was my fault anyway."  

Angel winced, not wanting to agree to the truth no matter how clear it was.  He wrung his hands tighter before sighing.  "...we gonna...talk about it?" he asked.

"We really should," Alastor replied.  "I don't want any apologies or their acceptance or rejection done drunk, so...I want t' say I'm sorry again.  I really truly am sorry, for what I said, what I did...and I understand it you want t' end our relationship."

"Of COURSE I don't wanna end it, Al!" Angel said sharply.  "Right now, yer th' only good thing I have that doesn't make me feel like shit!"

Alastor scoffed.  "Until last night," he said, his smile bitter.  "I ain't surprised I managed t' screw it up.  But I do want t' fix it."  He pressed his fingertips together.  "...I jus' don't know how."

Angel looked down at his lap, clenching his eyes shut.  "I don't know either, Al.  I really don't.  I've had my heart broken twice before in Hell already...but...at least with you, you apologized.  And you didn't do it outta spite, just ignorance.  But as for fixin' it.."  He wrung his hands tighter.  "...part o' me just feels there's not somethin' t' fix, just...move on from.  But better, y'know?"

"...yeah," Alastor said.  "...but I don' want us t' make th' same mistakes again.  I don' want t' pretend it didn't happen.  This relationship...I wan' it t' work.  So...I wan' t' know anythin' important.  Yer feelings, yer wants an' needs.  Jus' TELL me, a'ight?  I WANT t' know."

Angel nodded quietly.  "...same with you, Al," he replied.  "If you'd just told me y' didn't want me near Vox, I'd have told ya why I wouldn't have gone near 'im myself.  It's Hell, Al, if YOU say you don't want me near someone, I'll fuckin' listen.  If y'hear somethin' about my past y' don't like, jus' ask me.  I've done too much an' too many people t' feel much shame about much o' anything.  Okay?"

Alastor nodded.  "I can agree to tha', sha," he said, then extended his hand out to Angel.  Angel swallowed hard before taking it and squeezing lightly.

"I'll tell ya anything, Al," he said.  "I kinda owe that after y' told me you lost yer virginity to a -"

"Oh fils de pute!" Alastor snapped, putting his free hand over his face, inciting laughter from Angel.  

 

"You can stop pacin' around, Princess," Husk muttered.  "They're gonna be fine."

Charlie sighed, wringing her hands as she paced on.  "I don't know that," she said.  "That's what I thought earlier, but look how THAT turned out." 

Husk rolled his eyes, pouring out orange juice into a flute, pushing it to her.  "Here, sit down an' quit stressing," he said, going back to his book as she picked up the flute and sipped it, almost spitting it back out.  

"Hey -Husk, what IS this!?"

"It's a mimosa, and calm down, it's mostly orange juice," he replied, not looking up from his book.  "It's just champagne."

"Not the point," Charlie muttered, pushing it back.  "You got any PLAIN orange juice?"

"Th' fuck is this, a dry day?" Husk grumbled, shooting back the rest of the glass before filling another one with plain orange juice and pushing it over just as the door swung open and Alastor strolled in.

"Good morning, all!" he chirped, smile in place and looking no worse for wear as he walked to an empty table, Niffy scurrying over with coffee for him.  "Another for Angel Dust, please, he'll be down shortly."  He sat back and sipped his coffee as a newspaper snapped into space in front of him.  

Charlie nibbled her lip before heading over.  "...hey, Al," she said carefully.  "...you doing okay?"

"Absolutely splendid," Alastor replied earnestly, his eyes not leaving the newspaper nor his smile twitching in the least.  "And how are you?"

"...worried and confused."

Alastor's eyes flickered as he began to hum 'Inside Of Every Demon Is a Rainbow', earning him an almost offended scoff as Charlie shuffled to another table as a form of protest.  He laughed through his teeth, looking up when Angel Dust walked in.  "Good morning, dear."

Angel yawned, rubbing his eye with a hand.  "Need more sleep," he grumbled, walking over to the table Alastor sat at and dropped himself down on the chair across from him hard.  Almost on cue, Niffty zoomed over with his overly-sugar-and-creamed coffee.  "Thanks, lil' bug."

"WHERE!?" Niffty squeaked, a sticking pin at the ready to spear it through.  Angel let her at it, sipping his coffee quietly.  Alastor pushed over a plate of pastries that definitely hadn't been there moments ago.

"Eat up, dear," he said, his smile softer. 

Angel huffed but bit into one of the pastries.  "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were tryin' to ruin my figure," he said while still chewing on the pastry.  

Alastor made a thoughtful sound, sipping his coffee.  "You can't ruin perfection, darling," he said, taking no heed of Charlie choking on her orange juice.  "But it's more for your health than anything."

"You're sweet, Al," Angel replied, finishing the pastry.  "Goin' to the Station today?"

Alastor nodded.  "I have some time to make up," he said.  "Would you like me to stop by when I return home?"

Angel bit into another pastry, thinking for a moment.  "I'll probably be asleep," he said.  "But if I'm not, sure."

"Alright."  Alastor finished his coffee, folding his newspaper into nothingness before standing.  "I'll message you later anyway."  He leaned down to put a kiss on Angel's head before walking out, humming to himself.

Charlie, Husk, and Vaggie -who'd just walked in- watched him leave before turning back to Angel Dust, who was silent as he finished his coffee and pastries.  Charlie chewed her lip before walking over, sitting down near him.  "...are you okay, Angel?" she asked.

Angel nodded, still looking tired.  "...yeah," he replied.  "...I'll be better eventually."  A pair of hands wrung each other on the table's surface.  "We did some talking...we're gonna do more.  We...wanna make it work."  He leaned his head on another hand tiredly.  "...he's given me the rest of th' month off...just t' make sure I'm okay."

Charlie nodded quietly.  "...so you're not fully okay," she reiterated for him.  He nodded back.  "I'm here to talk too, if you want."

"...I'll keep that in mind."  He stood up.  "I'm gonna go back to bed."  He took the plate of remaining pastries with him as he left the cafe, the employees watching him leave.

Husk huffed, shaking his head.  "Poor bastards," he said, giving no indication if he was being sympathetic or cynical.  

 

Alastor went about his day not giving any indication that he'd taken a couple days off to have an emotional breakdown and recover from a PCP trip.  That sort of thing wouldn't do at all to get around Hell.

It was bad enough that everyone else in the Hotel knew what happened.  Decades of carefully-cultivated self-control had been dropped like a hot plate in one night, so many personal rules and self-disciplines broken, starting with losing his composure and ending in a drunk and drugged heap on the floor with Angel Dust.  

If anything, he thought, it had to have STARTED with Angel Dust.

It was supposed to be one dinner  One interest.  One night to possibly get Angel Dust off his back and a tasty snack while he was at it.  

He hadn't expected Angel Dust to go the full weak clean.  He hadn't expected him to be so open and accommodating, so WILLING.  He hadn't expected Angel to be charming and easy to actually get along with.  Angel had made him want to get to know him MORE, to have more dinner dates, to allow Angel closer in light intimacy.  And before he knew it, Alastor found himself emotionally attached.

Alastor should have known when he went after Valentino with the intent of making things easier for Angel Dust.  When he created their private radio frequency.  When he broadcast it to Angel, listened to the spider grow excited on the other end, and then shared his meal even before Angel told him to keep the contract.  Sharing a sacrificial feast created something that bound them together, a solidification of a relationship.

Angel had so much power over him now, and that fact was frightening.  Where he once had no qualms about Angel Dust going to get sexual gratification elsewhere, he now found himself hating the idea of anyone else touching him.  Of Angel Dust crying over him. 

He acted rashly.  He spoke out of anger Vox incited in him, tore open a wound Angel Dust had tried so hard to heal -TWICE- and pushed the spider into a relapse. 

It wasn't his own lapse in personal control that drove him to down two bottles of wine after tearing his room apart.  He could feel the pull of pain Angel was feeling, and the draw to whatever was available to drown it out.  To put a damper on that pull between them if anything just to give him a chance to breathe.

And damn Husk for knowing exactly what was happening and parading him out in front of Vaggie and Charlie to make him fix it.  He supposed he deserved that, and kudos to Husk for the sheer chutzpah for doing so.  At least the ladies had enough sense not to point it out to him when he came back out to pick up the pieces of his life and pride.  

And the things he'd shared with Angel...it was almost enough to want to induce mass amnesia on the entire Hotel, but he tampered down the urge considering what Angel had shared with him in return.  HE had pushed Angel to that state, and HE wasn't going to be a coward and neglect the consequences.  

It wasn't square one he was back at, nor was it anywhere near the plateau they were just the morning of before it happened.  It was somewhere in between, a foothold for them to work with.

The fact that Alastor WANTED something to work with...that was something else entirely to sort through.

He rifled through the box that had the files recovered from his thrown-out desk, bringing out the wretched stationary that contained Vox and Valentino's arrangements.  Nothing that was set in stone, and Alastor wasn't about to give Vox a single goddamn thing. 

Still, it would be rude to leave an offer unanswered.

He plucked up his pen, drove it through every single one of the requests to deny them, then signed and stamped it through with his own seal and put it in the Outgoing pile before putting Vox on the persona non grata list for his Station.

That was that, he thought.  Anything else he would deal with as it happened.

For now, he had a moment's break, and used it to tap into the 9.07 station with his microphone, listening in for a moment.  "Angel?"

There was silence for a moment.  "...yeah?  Anything wrong?"

Alastor smiled a little.  "Nothing at all," he said.  "I just wanted to check up on you and hear your voice."  He heard Angel shift in bed a little.

"I'm alright.  Just tired."

"I can leave you to sleep then."

"No, it's okay."  Angel delved into silence for a moment.  "...how's work?"

Alastor leaned back in his chair.  "Mostly uneventful.  I AM itching to do another broadcast, though.  Perhaps bring something home to eat."

"Don't strain yourself on my behalf, Al."

Alastor laughed softly.  "Not at all.  I'd be happy to."  He picked up a file.  "I actually have some ideas, if at least for dinner.  Would you be up for some later tonight?"

Angel was quiet on the other end for a few moments.  "...sure," he finally said.  "Your room?"

Alastor hesitated, still feeling like the bad energy of his room hadn't yet been cleared out, but replied, "the bayou."

"Alright.  Until then."

"Get your rest, dear.  I'll come by when I'm home."

"Okay.  Bye."

Alastor heard Angel settle back into bed, listening to the spider breathe for a bit before shifting the frequency to a quiet jazz station for Angel and lowering his microphone.  He made a thoughtful sound, his hand drifting up to his neck to trace a clawtip over the outline of the chain attached to the golden key under his shirt.  Yes, the bayou would be good for tonight, he thought.

 

Angel Dust walked down the hallway toward Alastor's room, feeling the comfort of familiarity but wariness of the hitch they'd hit and how it might influence tonight.  The ensuing headache of trying to find something dressy to wear had him giving up somewhat and settling on a simple button-up and a skirt, nothing fancy or sloppy.  

He walked to the door and knocked once before turning the handle left, stepping into the earthy bayou with practiced ease of where to go.  The fairy lights around the clearing illuminated the dining area, and Alastor at a butcher block at work.  Alastor looked up, smiling when he saw Angel, and greeted him with his butcher knife.

"It'll be just a moment!" he said, bringing the knife down again to sever something.  "Sit yerself down an' get comfortable."  

Angel did so, seeing the table set up with a candle and a wine set waiting.  He sat down, helping himself to some wine as Alastor hummed a merry tune and washed up, taking off an apron to show he was wearing plain black slacks, a white shirt with sleeves rolled up, and suspenders, much more mundane than Angel was used to seeing him.  

Alastor brought over a large platter that had a butchered torso sliced open and almost decoratively arranged, from the ribs to the organs inside.  He put it down and sat across from Angel, folding his hands and resting his chin on them.  "...how are y' feeling, dear?" he asked, his voice soft.  Angel flicked his eyes between Alastor's face and the open torso two or three times.

"...still drained," he admitted.  "...what, uh...what's this?"

"This is dinner," Alastor said, his smile widening.  "I made mention that I want t' share it wit' you at some point.  This seemed most fortuitous that they dropped down in just t'day.  Clean as a whistle."  He plucked up some serving cutlery.  "Any requests?"

Angel swallowed hard.  "...I'm...honestly not sure," he admitted.  

"I think stomach or liver," Alastor suggested, slicing the liver in half and putting it on Angel's plate before putting a section of stomach on his.  "You need th' nutrients."  He sat back, picking his own cutlery up, watching Angel pick his own fork up and pierce the edge of the liver dubiously.  "If y' don't like it, I won't be offended.  I even have some backups in case, a'ight?"

Angel nodded a little, taking off a small forkful and raising it to his mouth, hesitating before biting it and chewing.  Then he swallowed.  ".....oh."

"...not yer taste?" Alastor asked, only to lean back a little when Angel picked up his knife and began cutting off a larger chunk.  "Oh."  

Angel ate his entire section with obvious enjoyment, his eyes brightening somewhat.  "...can't believe I've been here for more than seventy years an' I haven't thought t' try this."

"It's not somethin' y' really think about here unless y've done it in life, I don' think," Alastor replied, taking a forkful of his own food.  "Y'want some more?"  At Angel's nod, he cut off another piece of liver and plated it.  "I'm not surprised though, considerin' yer a spider."

Angel ate a few more bites before tapping his fork to his plate thoughtfully.  "...what made y' think of it?" he asked, getting Alastor's attention.  "...eatin' people." 

Alastor finished chewing and put his cutlery down, a nostalgic smile crossing his face.  "T' be honest, it was when I was a boy, readin' through a section in a world culture book on ritualistic sacrifice."  He swirled his wine before taking a sip.  "Th' idea...eatin' people...sounds crazy, dunnit?  T' average folk, anyway.  But..."  His smile twitched.  "It was just after th' Louisiana flu epidemic, an' I was skint on money from not workin' for weeks.  I'd already started killin' by then, an' I was jus'...hungry.  I'd had nothin' but a few meager vegetables from my garden, not anythin' much..."

He took another sip of wine.  "Mama an' mémé both taught me how t' cook bases from scratch.  So...I saved some o' th' bones from a kill an' made bone broth wit' it."  He let out a breath of laughter.  "Th' man I took it from was healthy as a horse, so I prayed his health would give me back mine.  Next day, I was so much better, ready for workin' again...so I jus' kept at it.  Savin' pieces t' eat here an' there."  He tanked back the rest of his wine, eyes glinting.

"Then one night, it was perfect, so damn perfect...clear sky, full moon, fireflies gleamin' all around...I cut th' heart right from her chest an' ate it raw wit' both hands."  Saliva glistened in the corner of his mouth.  "Power an' ecstasy just flowed through me in a way I'd never felt before, like I wasn't even human anymore, but somethin' MORE...I jus' KNEW it was right for me."

Angel smiled, blushing at the erotic undertone in Alastor's voice.  "...don't suppose that was when ya -"

"Yes, yes it WAS, goodness..." Alastor replied, leaning his head on his hand with the closest thing to a pout that Angel Dust figured he was capable of making.  "Are y' REALLY tha' interested?"

"Extremely."

Alastor snorted, rolling his eyes before smiling a little.  "I was hardly m'self when it happened," he said.  "I was on a killin' an' eatin' high an' it just...did somethin' to me.  She was right there, an' it jus' happened.  I finished, I cut her t' pieces, fed her to th' gators, end o' story."

Angel's lips twitched.  "...you fuck like you kill, then.  So romantic."

"Crass."  Alastor finished up his meal, still smiling.  "It wasn't anythin' special, least not t' me.  I don' even remember her name."  He poured himself another glass of wine.  "Sure you don' remember YOUR first time -"

"Nancy Trevoli, I was fourteen," Angel Dust replied blankly, stabbing at another piece of liver.  "Our dads were business partners, she had a crush on me, an' Pops wanted t' prove I wasn't queer.  Didn't prove nothin'."  He ate it and chased it with wine.  "So...I guess both of us had unmemorable times."  His smile didn't quite reach his eyes, which Alastor noticed.

"...he forced you to, didn't he?"

Angel sat back hard in his chair.  "...yeah," he said, eyes watering.  "Shit..."  He wiped at his eyes hard.  "Fuckin'...'m sorry, it's th' food an' all that, it's just..."  He clenched his eyes shut, putting his face in his hands as he took deep breaths to keep his tears at bay.  After a few moments, he felt Alastor's arms curl around his shoulders from behind, chin resting on the top of his head.  "'m sorry..."

"Don' be sorry, sha," Alastor murmured.  "Ain't no one's fault but his."  He felt Angel's frame shake in his arms.

"...Ma wouldn'ta made me do it...!" Angel whimpered.  "She'd have loved me like I was!"

"She sounded like a lovely woman," Alastor said, feeling Angel nod.  "Th' rest of yer family down here?"  Another nod.  "Anythin'...changed?  At all?"

Angel sniffled.  "...my brother, Arackniss...he sometimes talks t' me...lets me know what's goin' on..."  He wiped his tears.  "...my sister, Molly...my twin...she tries, but...I don't let her nowhere near th' Studio, I couldn't STAND it if Val had..."  He let out a shaky sigh.  "...'s bad enough she ain't even s'posed t' BE here....best thing Pops does is protect her, so...I just let that piece be."  He slowly calmed down, leaning back against Alastor.  "...Ma would've loved ya, Al.  I know it.  Older man or not."

Alastor laughed softly.  "Mama might've liked you," he said honestly.  "She wasn't one t' judge no one.  She might've scooped you up an' fed ya, skinny as ya are."

"Fuck you, Al, you're skinnier than I am," Angel laughed.

"Debatable."  Alastor smiled, reaching over Angel's shoulders to pick the heart out of the torso with his hands, holding it in front of Angel.  "So let's fix that."  

Angel swallowed hard, staring at it.  "...why's this feel different?" he asked.  "Because it feels different."  Behind him, he could feel a soft static from Alastor's aura.  

"It is, mon sha," Alastor purred, taking one bloody hand to take Angel's lifting it to hold the heart with him.  "Th' heart is th' most important piece.  It's where th' power is."  His voice and aura crackled softly.  "It's somethin' I wan' t' share wit' you.  Jus' an offer, sha, nothin' t' commit to.  If you wan' it."

Angel wanted it.  He wanted it a LOT, especially if it meant sharing something else with Alastor.  He nodded, FEELING Alastor's grin behind him, and leaned in to bite into the heart in his hand.

It was thick and fleshy, blood and tissue spurting out like biting into a liquid-filled jello shot.  Blood filled his senses, running over his chin and down his throat as he pulled the bite out, chewed and swallowed.  Such a simple action shouldn't have been so strenuous but he was almost breathless after swallowing, almost too lightheaded to notice Alastor lean over his shoulder to take a bite before leaning it back to Angel.

Angel bit into it again, suddenly feeling more ravenous, more desperate than before as he swapped bites with Alastor, the heart disappearing between them quickly.  Angel couldn't stop himself from licking his bloody hands, tremors running down his body that would've sent him to his knees if he was standing.  He felt Alastor's hands on his shoulders, squeezing softly.

"You liked tha'?" Alastor asked, his voice crackling further.  Angel nodded.  "Do y' understand, jus' a little?"

Angel shuddered, definitely not thinking with his full stomach right now.  "...I do," he said.  "Al...can you...I mean..."  He swallowed hard, another tremor wracking his body.  "...I need a couple minutes, I -"

"Non, mon sha," Alastor said, curling his finger around a lock of Angel's hair.  "I shared this wit' you.  Share wha' you want wit' me."

Angel clenched a pair of hands into the table.  "Alastor, I can't -"

"Ange araignée."  Alastor reached into his shirt, taking out the key on the chain.  "You won't do nothin' I won't let ya do."

Angel looked at the key, his pupils dilating before he threw his arms around Alastor and kissed him hard, knocking them both back to the bayou ground.  

 

The bayou was quiet, not even the radio playing any music as Angel Dust and Alastor laid back on the ground long after breaths were caught and wounds stopped bleeding.  Alastor smiled through his bloody teeth, carding his claws lightly through Angel's hair, making note to let the spider use his bathroom to wash the soon-to-be-crusted blood from his fur later.

A wandering extra hand reached for the key around his neck, and he promptly gave it a little smack.  "Non."  He snorted at the whine from Angel against his shoulder.  "Not now, sha."  He looked down, seeing Angel peering up at him with wide puppy eyes.  "...soon."

That was enough for Angel, who sighed and snuggled his face into Alastor's shoulder again, enjoying the lingering throb of having his tongue chewed out again with the added thrill of his neck having the same treatment.  If only he properly scarred, knowing how proud he'd be to have a neck full of Alastor-sized tooth marks.  The claw marks he left on Alastor's shirt would be a better reminder; maybe he'd let Angel keep the shirt later.

He closed his eyes, settling down for a nap before he'd have to move, intent on enjoying the moment as long as it took.

Alastor lazily scraped his claws into Angel's scalp, not minding the stinging claw marks on his sides or the idea of getting them again.  His mind kept wandering to earlier, sharing the heart with Angel.  Feeling that tremor through the spider's body, SMELLING the hunger radiating from him.  The idea of taking Angel Dust hunting with him, splitting the body open and feasting together, descending into the basest of their attributed instincts in a marvelous bloodlust, screaming to the ancient ones that be for a mere taste of that POWER...

You need to tell him the truth first.

He sighed, closing his eyes.  Yes, that would be first.  It was one thing to share a heart, to give a drop of water to the thirst, but to pull Angel into this life of his...

He'd destroy the contract first, he told himself.  Then give Angel an outlet for his need to be in service to someone.  He'd be Angel's guide, a leading hand, a first view into what Angel could be without a contract holding him back.

He'd tell Angel Dust.  He'd tell him, and then they'd start something new.  

Chapter Text

Improvements were felt both at the radio station and in the Hotel, the latter much more obvious.  One day the couple were on newer, more quiet terms, and literally the next day Angel was almost draped over Alastor, all smiles and giggles and looking completely back to normal.

Except...more so.

The others couldn't quite put their fingers on it, but there was a definite shift somewhere.  Angel Dust was just a little too peppy, smiled too widely, was holding onto Alastor a bit too closely.

Weird on Alastor's part was how much he was allowing it, let alone reciprocating somewhat.  Even in the earlier heyday of their relationship, they were much more subtle with public affection with slight touches, lingering looks.  

Not Alastor practically chewing Angel's tongue out in the lobby or Angel trying to use his teeth to undo Alastor's collar.  

Vaggie considered carrying around a spray bottle for such finds but was discouraged primarily by Husk, who seemed to know more than he was sharing.  

"C'mon, why won't you spill?" Charlie bemoaned, on the one hand happy that Angel and Alastor were back on great terms but also desperate for answers as to WHY.  "I mean, it's not like it's a secret or anything, right?"

"That's exactly it," Husk muttered.

"Bull," Vaggie said, crossing her arms.  "Not a secret if they're necking like horny teenagers."

Husk scoffed, his wings flicking with agitation.  "You ever wonder WHY they're actin' like horny teenagers?  Yer a newblood and disinterested with some of th' darker shit that goes on here, so I don't expect you t' know, but YOU, Princess, should know when to leave well enough alone."

Charlie frowned, going through a quick mental rundown of all the Hell magic she could remember studying as a younger demon but coming up empty.  "...I honestly still don't get it."

"All th' more reason to not meddle in it."  Husk took a hard shot.  "Just let it run it's course.  Don't come between it.  If it doesn't work, fine, if it does..."  He trailed off for a moment before taking another shot.  "...it's fine.  Totally fine."

Vaggie squinted.  "....it doesn't sound fine.  Why's it bad if it DOES 'work out'?"

"Nuh uh, not sayin' nothin'.  Not gettin' wrapped up in that fuckshit again if I can't help it!"  He stepped from behind the bar.  "By the way, I'm takin' a break for th' rest of th' day.  No calls."

Charlie sighed.  "Please, Husk.  An hour's notice next time."  She sat back in a chair hard, mulling over why a deeper relationship between Alastor and Angel Dust would be bad when her phone buzzed in her pocket.  She took it out and opened up a message, sitting up straight with wide eyes.

"Hon, what is it?" Vaggie asked, concerned.  

"Vaggie, it's from my dad!" Charlie chirped, hopping up with a smile.  "He wants us to meet him at home to discuss some funding!"  She was almost jumping in place.  "He heard of Alastor's takeover and our advertisement, so he wants to see about some future options!"

Vaggie was dubious at best, but her girlfriend's smile was too infectious, as was her hope.  "Well, I guess it can't hurt to hear what cards he has to offer."

"THAT'S my girl!" Charlie beamed, hugging her.  She grabbed Vaggie's hand to hurry upstairs to change, running into Angel en route.  "Hey, Angel, me and Vaggie are going to Dad's place this evening, can you tell Al when he comes back?"

"Uh, sure," Angel replied.  "Have fun?"

"Hopefully.  Also, Husk is out for the night and Niffty is cleaning the basement, so you and Alastor have some time to yourselves -"

"DON'T ENCOURAGE THEM!" Vaggie yelped, pushing her along, turning to glare back at Angel.  "If you fuck on a couch, you'd better let us know which one so we can burn it!"

Angel flipped her off.  "Fuck off to the bastard-in-law's place," he said with no real bite, heading down to get something to eat from the kitchen.  He rummaged around, huffing when nothing really caught his interest. 

Hardly anything could be as filling as eating someone else now.  Perhaps the price to pay for the ultimate act of gluttony.  It was nowhere near the level of hunger that Alastor had to deal with, but just the small twinge of constant need for something to eat put an idea of Alastor's Hellish punishment into Angel's head.  

It was the same that he shared with Alastor, with their new closeness, a trade-off Alastor gave in exchange to Angel eating flesh and viscera.  The constant, urgent touch starvation Angel felt all the time, and how the bare minimum of pleasure he was able to give Alastor was the taste he felt every waking moment.  An understanding between them, the need to share that part so deeply ingrained in themselves, that only seemed to pull them closer than ever.

Alastor made mention of showing Angel what it was he truly did when he 'went out for a bite'.  Angel eventually wanted to become intimate with Alastor.  These were things they were both slowly edging toward, knowing that jumping headfirst off either pier would probably end badly for them both.  

He broke out of his musings when his phone buzzed, answering it.  "This is Angel Dust."

"Hello dear," Alastor said on the other end, sounding chipper as ever.  "I was calling to ask if you had a preference for dinner tonight."

Angel opened the fridge for the third time since he came in to look for something.  "Anything sounds good," he replied.  "We need t' go shopping again though.  Oh!"  He closed the door, opening the freezer for his favorite popsies.  "Charlie an' Vaggie are out for th' night an' they said Husk fucked off somewhere.  We can eat dinner in th' cafe without them bitchin' at us."

Alastor laughed softly.  "Fair enough," he said.  "I'll bring something home for dinner.  Don't ruin your appetite!"

"No chance o' THAT," Angel muttered around his popsie.  "Dressy or casual?"

"Casual, darling, its the lobby.  Save the good outfits for when I take you out to Salem's Lot."

Angel stared at his phone.  "That fancy-ass place!?" he yelped with a grin.  "Jeeze, babe, don't blow yer whole wallet on little ol' me."

"For you, ange araignée, I'd buy it.  I'll be home around seven, alright?"

"Alright."  Angel smiled warmly.  "Later, cervo."

"That pun will get old eventually."

"Never."  Angel made a kissy-noise before hanging up, sighing blissfully.  God, he loved that deer.

He paused, realization creeping up his spine as cold as the treat in his hand.  

Shit.

Shiiiiiit.

 

Alastor came back about an hour after Charlie called to remind him that she and Vaggie would be out, carrying a box in with him to the cafe.  Angel Dust wasn't downstairs yet, so it gave him time to put the box aside and snap his fingers to set out a large meal set he'd compressed with his magic earlier.

He was somewhat nervous about tonight.  It wasn't going to be easy telling Angel the full truth behind his own dealings and what it was he was inviting Angel into, but it had to be done.  Having Angel back out now would hurt far less than the resentment later...or worse, the consequences should they arise.  

Either way, the contents of the box would be of use tonight, for himself or for Angel.  It was all up to the spider's decision.  

Alastor sat down, resting his chin on his folded hands as he gathered his thoughts and nerve for this evening, not having to wait long before Angel Dust came downstairs and into the cafe.  He smiled, seeing that Angel decided that the cafe was fancy enough for an evening gown with a generous slit up one side.  "Y'look lovely, darlin'."

Angel smiled, a definite blush on his face as he walked over and sat down.  "Thanks," he said.  "Not too much?"

"What'd I say at th' gala?  No such thing as 'overdressed'."  Alastor sat back, his smile going softer and more serious.  "...I wanted t' talk to you," he said after a moment.  "...it's...important."

"...oh."  Angel wrung his hands, wilting somewhat.  "...is it me?  I mean, I know I've been touchin' ya more, but -"

"No."  Alastor's voice was firm.  "Nothin' like that."  He took a deep breath and let it out before reaching into his jacket and pulling out Angel's contract.  "I want to talk t' you 'bout this."

Angel eyed it, the wringing in his hands tightening.  "...Al, what is this?" he asked, a touch of fear in his voice.  "I thought -"

"Angel.  What you have t' know 'bout bein' here..."  He put the envelope down on the table, folding his hands on top of it, the radio tin coming back.  "When someone enters my service, it is generally done with a deal.  Not always, but it's the general rule.  Sometimes they want a favor.  But sometimes they want something that gives them purpose.  Something to not be Erased for.  It can last for years, but deals like these...where they give me their souls in exchange for something like this...a deeper contract is made."

His eyes glowed softly, smile almost nonexistent.  "My end of the deal is to make what they ask for a reality.  And should the deal be complete, I take my payment."

Angel's hands were almost shaking.  "....what is the payment?" he asked.  Alastor looked over to the box he set down, resting a hand on top of the lid before opening it.  

"What it always is."  He pushed the box to Angel, who took it.

Inside was a heart.

Angel stared at it, almost entranced.  "...a heart?" he asked.  

Alastor nodded.  "Their heart.  Cut from their chest.  And eaten."  He folded his hands on Angel's contract again.  "For their wishes, their lives, their hearts...their very souls are devoured by me."

Silence sat between them as Angel caught the gist and slowly pushed the box away.

"...is that why you have Husk an' Niffty?"

"Yes."

"...that's what you were tryin' to do with Charlie."

"It is."

"...and...me."

Alastor was silent for a moment.  "...by my normal rules, yes," Alastor said.  "But you're not within my normal rules.  You gave me your contract without a deal.  With nothing really to bind it except your wish that I keep it."  His eyes lowered to the envelope.  "But that wish could be a fulfillment in and of itself...if given enough time."  He went quiet for a moment.  "Every time I eat your flesh, I hear your heart.  And I want it.  But if I eat your heart...you will not come back to me."  He flicked his eyes back to Angel.  "...do you understand what I am saying?"

Angel swallowed hard, eyes flicking between his contract, the heart in the box, his own hands, anywhere but Alastor.  "...what are you askin' me, Alastor?" he demanded weakly.  "Because right now...I don't know what t' feel.  What t' think."  His hands clenched on the table.  "...you knew that there was a chance you'd cash in on my contract...that I might offer you my heart...an' you didn't say anythin'?"

"...yes."

"Goddamn it," Angel muttered, burying his face in his hands.  "Why now then?  Why the fuck NOW?!"

"Because I don't want that.  Because here, in my hands, I have your contract -your SOUL- free of any binding that would call that fate!  I'm offering it to you, once again, to please take and become your own demon.  And if you're afraid of what you'll become, then I'll help you any way I can.  I'll support you, not as your overlord, but as your PARTNER.  Your beau."  He picked then envelope up, holding it out.  "Angel.  Mon ange.  I want to show you so much more than what Valentino kept from you.  With your freedom, I could show you things most demons could never dream of.  And we can enjoy them together, for all eternity if that's what you want."

Angel was silent for the longest time before he lowered his hands and slowly stood up.  "...I don't know what I want anymore," he said, his voice almost flat.  "I don't even know if you're tellin' me the whole truth."  He gestured weakly to his contract.  "What if what I become isn't what you want anymore?  Or worse, somthin' you can't stand to be around?"  He shook his head.  "No.  No, I can't...I don't want to risk it, but at th' same time I don't want t' stay chained to someone who might just be draggin' me along again -"

"Angel."  Alastor stood up too, smile gone and expression serious.  "We had a terrible fight that proved that wasn't true.  One that we both suffered for, to make clear that it wasn't anything like that.  I have feelings for you, Angel Dust, that I haven't had before in my life or afterlife.  Whether you've heard that line before or not, it's MY own truth.  And as your beau, your partner, I want you to have the same freedoms that I have.  This is the most unselfish thing I've done for the most selfish reasons I can rationalize.  All I want is one answer to one question.  The rest can be dealt with later."  

He held up the envelope again.  "Angel Dust.  Angelo Martin Alessandro Ragno.  Do you want your soul in your own hands?"

The silence was almost deafening between them, a swell of something in the air like a bomb about to drop, almost making the atmosphere static and constricting.  It made Angel's head hurt and put electricity into his spine as he opened his mouth, a hand raising up.  

"...I..."  He trailed off when the static and electricity seemed to worsen, seeing Alastor's eyes widen as the deer dropped the envelope onto the table.  "Alastor?"  He became aware of a high-pitched shrillness around him, a massive annoyance at best but to Alastor it seemed bad enough for the demon to clutch his head and double over in pain.  "AL!?"

Glass shattering and electricity had him hitting the floor, feeling the chandelier from above rain down pellets from the crystal shattering on it.  He looked over at Alastor, whose eyes were blanked out in red static, feeling his stomach lurch when he saw that the deer was bleeding from the ears and nose.  "AL!"

The electric crackle in the air let up somewhat, and Angel could hear footsteps coming from the lobby crunching over broken glass as they made their way to the cafe.  Angel swore under his breath that he'd left any guns upstairs, and lifted his head just enough to see if there was any cutlery he could use.  He grabbed a steak knife, shifting over next to Alastor.  "Al, someone's here," he whispered urgently.  When Alastor gave no acknowledgement, he nudged him carefully.  "Al, are you with me?"  

Alastor lifted his eye, his mouth moving but only half-formed static coming out, taking his hand away from his head to show that it was covered in blood from his ears.  Angel swore again and fumbled for his phone to call Charlie and felt more hopeless when he saw that there was a NO SERVICE warning stamped across the screen.

"Alastor~" 

Angel froze, his hand shaking when he heard Vox's voice call out just outside the cafe.  Alastor must have heard or at least sensed something, since the deer froze next to him.  Angel heard Vox open the cafe door and step inside, the miasma of electricity in the air returning with a vengeance.  

Next to him, Angel felt Alastor tense, and saw him bare his teeth in a definite preparation for attack.  "Al, wait-!"

Alastor shot from his spot on the floor with his own knife in hand, rushing at Vox with static almost blinding him, only for sparking cables to snap out from behind Vox's back and wrap around Alastor, shocking him violently.

Angel almost covered his ears at the sound of Alastor screaming; it didn't even sound like a human scream, but rather one of a tortured animal.  He instead gripped the knife in his hand and rushed to Vox with it, dodging cables coming at him himself until he was almost within arm's length, then Vox snapped another he had on reserve around Angel's arm in a bruising hold, shocking Alastor again.

"STOP IT!" Angel shrieked, dropping the knife to catch it with another hand, stabbing wildly at the metal cables.  "FUCKIN' STOP!"  

Vox did, but kept the cables around Alastor tight.  "It didn't have to be this way, Alastor," the overlord said, sounding almost apologetic.  "You just needed to hand over what was due to me.  What Valentino and I agreed upon.  That was all."  His cables tightened around Alastor, sparking slightly.  "But thanks to you, I've had to take time off of work to tap into your phone lines, block your frequencies, and get back what is mine."  He electrocuted Alastor again, eliciting another scream from the deer.

"GODDAMN IT VOX, STOP!"  Angel stabbed harder at the cable until the knife broke.  "LEAVE HIM ALONE!"  

Vox disregarded Angel, cutting off the electricity and pulling Alastor closer.  "My property or your life, Alastor," he said, his screen glitching with flickered images of Angel Dust.  "This frequency lasts another half-hour, plenty of time to break you, tear you to pieces, and fry them to ashes until even you can't come back from it.  Right now, it would be SO easy."  His cables crackled again.  "So what's it gonna be, Alastor?"

Alastor wheezed, baring his teeth at Vox, eyes static with pupils attempting to take a dial-shape.  "Va...te fair...foutre...!" he hissed, spitting out blood.  Vox's screen flickered, a grin passing over it.  

"I think I'll pass."

Alastor began screaming as the cables lit up to electrocute him again, the smell of burned clothes and flesh and ozone filling the room.  Angel screamed too, thrashing wildly against the cable holding him aloft, as he tried to dislodge it.

"I'LL DO IT!  VOX, STOP, I'LL DO IT!"

Vox stopped the electrocution, looking at Angel curiously.  "You'll do what, Angel Dust?"  

Angel sobbed, shaking softly as he looked at Alastor, who was hanging limply against Vox's cables, twitching from the lingering currents.  The Radio Demon's aura was flickering, the sound of horrible death rattle static filling the emptiness of his agonized expression.  Angel took a shaky breath and let it out, steeling himself.  "...my contract," he sad thickly.  "...my contract, I'll give it to you."

He yelped when Vox dropped him on the floor, shaking hard as he stood up and stumbled over to the table, sniffling and choking on his tears as he picked up the envelope with his contract inside, holding it tightly in his hands before walking back to Vox.

"A̠.̝..e̺͕̦͘ͅl͏̥͚̰..."

Angel winced hard, hearing Alastor's static-broken voice attempt to choke out his name.  "...'m sorry, Al..." he said.  "...'m sorry..."  He took another deep breath and kept walking until he reached Vox, holding his contract out with shaking hands.  

Vox took it, his screen flickering with an odd aura as he looked it over before he broke into a grin.  "Wonderful," he said, tucking it into his jacket.  "So good of you to have some sense, Angel Dust."

Angel scowled, fighting to keep his tears back.  "...let go of Alastor," he said firmly.  

"Gladly," Vox said, reeling his cables back before hurling Alastor into the bar.  "Now let's go, Angel."

"AL!" Angel yelped, any move to at least see if Alastor was okay being thwarted by Vox snapping a cable around his arm and dragging him out of the cafe, the lobby, and the Hotel to a waiting limo.  Angel was pushed in, the door slammed shut after him, and then the limo drove off.

Angel sat shaking on his seat, trying to keep from screaming in fear and frustration, to keep from attempting to try the doors and windows to get out.  He punched the seat with a fist, another hand clenching his hair tightly.

"Now now, don't go ruining you body in any way," Vox said, reaching over to push Angel's hand from his hair.  "I'm going to need it soon."

"Fuck you," Angel spat with every ounce of hate he could feel.  "Fuck.  You.  You have my contract, but I swear on everything that is profane down here, you'll regret ever doing this.  I'll never make anything easy for you for as long as I'm still breathing, y'hear!?  I don't know what you want me for, but that ship FUCKIN' sailed -"

"Who said anything about wanting YOU?"  

The smile slid from Vox's face, a look of contempt crossing his features.  "You?  Pathetic little whore, you're hardly fit to be a decent escort.  You're a doll, a piece of property."  He sat back.  "And that is what I need from you."

Angel fought back the old tear in his heart, choking back the urge to spit into that screen.  "The fuck are you talking about?" he demanded.  

Vox's screen flickered again with barely-formed images Angel couldn't quite make out.  "I don't care about the real estate.  I don't care about the Studio or the pissants within it.  What I care about is YOU."  He pointed to Angel, his screen distorting further.  "YOU.  Valentino's last contract.  His longest-lingering piece.  His prized possession that the fucking deer stole from him after he was MURDERED."  

The screen showed flashes of Valentino's office, blood and skin strewn over every surface before it reformed to Vox's face, now contorted with rage.

"All I need from YOU, Angel Dust, is your body."  His expression softened somewhat as more images passed over the screen, now of Valentino laughing and smiling in a way that Angel had never seen him do with anyone before.  

"So that I can get back what Alastor stole from ME."

Chapter Text

"Ugh, I've always hated this place," Vaggie muttered, stepping out of the limo and looking up at the palace.  As somewhat charming as the place was, it had an air of evil around it that always gave her the creeps. "You'd think your folks could've put the lights on or something."

Charlie would have rolled her eyes and lightly rebuked Vaggie for the general air of grievance of her family but she had to admit it was odd.  Any time her father was expecting someone, the outside torches would be lit along the pathway and front, but they were out as though having a night in.  Her brow furrowed, heading up to the front and using the large door knocker to make her presence known.

"...you could just...go in."

"I don't live here anymore, Vaggie that'd be rude..."  Charlie sighed and waited for a moment before the door was opened by one of her father's reptilian butlers.  "Hi, it's me! Dad's expecting us?"

Things only become more odd when the butler looked confused, but let them in and led them through the hallway to the downstairs parlor.  "Princess Charlotte and a guest, Sire."

Lucifer looked up, frowning when he saw Charlie, leaning back in his chair.  "Charlotte dear," he half-greeted. "To what do I owe this visit? Unannounced?"

Charlie stared.  "...you texted me," she replied, taking out her phone.  "I got a message from you saying you wanted to meet here to talk about the Hotel."  She handed him her phone, and watched his expression darken somewhat. "It's your number -"

"Hacked," Lucifer said, "I never sent that."  He glanced near the top functions of her phone before taking out his own, looking something over.  "And your frequency is completely disconnected from mine."

Vaggie fumbled for her own, seeing that service was completely out.  "Shit, Charlie, I think someone's trying to sabotage the Hotel," she said.  "Someone wanted us out of the way."

"Damn it all!" Charlie snapped, grabbing her phone back from her father.  "Dad, please, I haven't asked for anything since I left home, but PLEASE take us back right away, it's a long drive back and I'm RESPONSIBLE for everyone there -"

Lucifer held up a hand.  "I will send you back on the condition that you fix this mess yourself," he said, looking like he knew something more than she did entirely.  "Contain it."

"I will, just PLEASE!"  Charlie grabbed Vaggie's hand, and barely had time to react before they both vanished in a flash of fire.

 

"FUCK I hate brimstone!" Vaggie hacked, stumbling out of the burned area of ground they were sent to, following Charlie into the Hotel.  Immediately, they both saw almost every glass or crystal fixture shattered to pieces. "How...?"

"ALASTOR!" Charlie shouted, looking around wildly.  "ANGEL! ALASTOR, ARE YOU HERE!?" She ran into the cafe, seeing the whole area demolished and Alastor lying in a heap among shattered alcohol bottles, lacerations and burns covering his body.  "AL!" She ran up, looking him over in a panic; this was so much worse than seeing him in that depressive state those weeks ago. Someone had come here with the means to battle with him and WIN.  "Al, please be okay, please..!" 

Alastor moved his head at her voice, his eyes cracking open and weak, static-filled sounds coming from his mouth.  "Oh fuck, Al..." Charlie looked around, trying to find any sign of Angel. "Al, where's Angel!? Is he here?"

"A...Angel..." Alastor managed to choke out in a crackled mess, shifting over the broken glass to move.  "...Angel..."

"Al, don't move, okay?"  Charlie jerked off her jacket, lifting Alastor's head slightly to cushion it under him.  "Do you know where Angel is?"

"......"  Crackling static and a hint of furious light flickered in Alastor's eyes, his claws digging into the glass-covered floor.  

"Do you know who did this?" Charlie pressed, wincing when the brief sharpness of feedback pierced her ears.  "Okay, I just need answers, what -"

"...box..."

Charlie frowned.  "Box? What box?"  

Alastor wrangled up coherency to his thoughts, managing to lift a hand some inches to point behind her.  "...is...a box.......table?" It was the best he could do with sounding like shifting radio stations, but enough that Charlie looked and did indeed see a box sitting on a table.  

"Yes, do you need it?"  At Alastor's nod, she hurried to the table and grabbed it, bringing it back over and opening it, almost recoiling at a heart inside.  "Oh Al, what in the world -" 

"Give....heart.....to me..."  He parted his jaws, implications clear.  Charlie winced, but in this time where she had no answers and Alastor apparently had them all, she put her hand into the box and took out the heart, finding it was still warm.  She swallowed hard and lowered the heart to Alastor's mouth, looking away when the demon bit down into it.

Vaggie hurried in a few moments later, a spear in her hands.  "No one else is here," she said, "did you find -" She cut off, seeing Charlie hand-feeding Alastor a bloody heart.  "...fuckit, WHY?"

"I don't know," Charlie said.  "But Al knows who did it and needs to eat this -"  She yelped when Alastor snatched what was left from her hand and shoved it into his mouth, chewing messily before swallowing.  His breathing was labored from what Charlie assumed was pain, seeing his wounds begin to close themselves up. She didn't dare move, feeling as though she were one sudden movement away from being attacked by a wild animal, and prayed Vaggie would read the room and not retaliate either.

Alastor slowly stood up, his bones that had been broken cracking into place and then silently summoned his microphone and began walking out of the cafe, saying nothing and leaving a miasma that smelled of blood, gunpowder, and rum in his wake.

When she was sure he was gone from the hotel, Vaggie hurried over to Charlie, checking her over.  "I'm fine," Charlie insisted, holding her hands out loosely, not knowing what to do with the blood on them and quivering from the phantom static screams she swore she heard in her head.  "...I just...I want to help..." She teared up, shaking her head. "So stupid...how could I have not called Dad to make sure it was him? Angel's gone, Al was hurt...if Dad hadn't sent us back, Alastor might've...!"  She just barely kept from burying her face in the bloody hands. "...I want to help, but I just...I feel that if I try, I'll just...get in the way."

Vaggie tightened her jaw, pulling her girlfriend close.  "...if you feel THAT way, then we'll hunker back and see what happens," she said.  "I feel it too. If it's something this big, we'll hear about it soon enough." She felt Charlie nod into her shoulder, and quickly pulled them both up to take cover in Charlie's office.

For once since he got here, Vaggie hoped that Alastor would do anything that needed to be done to fix this.  

 

Angel sat shaking on the seat in Vox's penthouse, watching the overlord orchestrate through several screens before him, each one depicting different scenes of Valentino.  Different sides to the late overlord on every conceivable spectrum. Each one Vox connected to, transferring smoothly through his cables and into himself several times over in a manner that Angel could only guess to be 'distilling'.  

The spider had been told what he was here for.  He was going to become an empty doll when Vox was done with him.  He knew already what Vox's weapon of choice was; using his cables to steal or give memories or images to anyone he connected them to.  In the worst sense, he could -and planned now to- drain Angel Dust of all memories and replace them with the 'distilled' memories of Valentino.  

The very idea was terrifying.  Of course it would be; Angel was going to be a sacrificial body to resurrect Valentino's memory, and essentially return to life.  

Through his panic, Angel fought to come up with a plan.  He needed to stall for time some way, to hope and pray that Charlie, Vaggie, Alastor, SOMEONE would be able to come help him get out of this.  

"I still don't understand," he murmured, just loud enough for Vox to hear.  "Why ME?"

Vox waved his hand, another screen materializing and showing an image of Valentino with Angel Dust, the overlord pimp looking almost fondly at the spider.  "He was hard on you, naturally," Vox said. "But you truly were his favorite. Perhaps he didn't utilize you to the best of your ability, but in the end he always had a soft spot for you.  Any other of his whores would have been laid to waste, but he let you get away with so much over the years."  

He tipped his screen slightly to look back at Angel.  "You were the only one he felt was worthy of letting me play with, did you know that?  His prized possession, and he shared you with me. So naturally, I took such good care of you while I played with you, and then gave you back just as pretty and perfect as when he lent you out."  He reached back, nudging his claw under Angel's eye, catching a tear. "You brought us together, little Angel. We shared you and played with you together, and now you'll bring us back together again."

Angel's body shook hard, covering his mouth with a hand to keep from screaming or vomiting, seeing the day his heart snapped in two play on the conjured screen.

Remembering telling Vox he loved him.  Asking Vox to buy his contract from Valentino.  Being called into Valentino's office, expecting to hear that he was being transferred, only to see the two overlords laughing over champagne at Vox replaying Angel's confessions and requests on his screen.

He'd been too heartbroken to notice then, how Valentino sat with his legs draped over Vox's lap, how a free hand laced fingers with Vox's as they laughed.

It still hurt, seeing the two men he'd given his heart and trust to laugh at the game they had played with him.

I have feelings for you, Angel Dust, that I haven't had before in my life or afterlife.  Whether you've heard that line before or not, it's MY own truth. And as your beau, your partner, I want you to have the same freedoms that I have.

Angel's trembling stopped.

He lowered his hands, staring at them contemplatively.  

The hands that had been offered his contract twice now, that gave that contract to Vox for the sake of Alastor.

Alastor, who had done EVERYTHING for him, had given him a chance, equality in a relationship, twice offered equality as a demon in right of his own soul, had shared with him a source of his power with the intent of sharing it entirely.

"...he's coming for me."

Vox looked up.  "Hm? You'll have to speak up if you want to say anything."  Angel raised his head, glaring at Vox.

"I said, Alastor is coming for me."  He clenched his hands standing up from the couch.  "You said your stupid frequency only lasts a half-hour and that's almost up.  He won't leave me here -" He was cut off by a cable snapping out and wrapping around his neck with just enough force to not cause bruising.  

Vox walked over, taking Angel's face in his hand.  "I can change my mind, you know," he hissed. "I can go back to the hotel and finish crushing him entirely before demolishing that shitty building into rubble.  It wouldn't take me five minutes."  

Angel's glare only intensified.  "Five minutes is all he'd need. He's ten times the demon you are and a HUNDRED times the man."  

He and Vox had a stare-off before Vox pushed Angel back to the couch.  "You can keep your lovely wishes," Vox replied. "That has-been relic's hours are numbered before he's dust like a shelved radio.  Just you wait." He turned back to his screens to finish his distillation.

Angel almost tasted blood, clenching his teeth hard.  "...I can't wait for him to rip you open an' eat your heart."

Vox scoffed.  "He's more than welcome to..."  He trailed off, looking at one of his security screens only to see it blank.  "The hell." He flicked through several others before settling on one that wasn't destroyed.

By the video footage, lights down the street leading to his network building were fizzling and blowing out.  Waving his hand to zoom the footage, he could plainly see Alastor stalking down the street.

He wasn't smiling.

And when he came closer, his head snapped to the side to look directly at the camera before it too was cut off.

Angel let out a bark of wet laughter, tearing up.  "I told ya," he choked, feeling like he'd been shot up with a cocktail of relief and euphoria.  "I fuckin' TOLD ya! He's comin' for me, an' he's gonna fuckin' kill ya!"  

Vox growled, waving his hand to dispel his screens, turning to Angel.  "It doesn't matter," he said, a large cable curling from behind him. "I have everything I need."

 

Alastor stalked through the city with purpose, enough so that any demon with the SMALLEST modicum of common sense knew to get out of the way or be torn to shreds by either Alastor’s aura or the shadows that twisted around him.

Sometimes even that didn’t save them.  Those unlucky enough to be snagged at all had a piece missing, and that piece was pulled into Alastor’s shadow, making each step he took more destructive than the last, fueled his aura to something that made everything shake, almost making it feel like it was barely containing something even worse.

He stalked to the front of the Network building, glaring up at the whole thing, the entire place personally offending him.  He was going to DESTROY it.

But first.  

Alastor’s eyes glowed, reaching up with his magic to send a shadow to Vox’s penthouse, and then used it as a portal to step right through.

“VOX!” he shouted, the windows shaking.  “GIVE HIM BACK!”

A flicker of static light in the corner of the room almost sounded like laughter.  “Now why would I do that, Alastor?” Vox hissed, stepping around to the side, one arm around Angel’s front and a cable latched to the back of the spider’s head.  “I’m so very close to bringing what you stole from me back.”

Alastor’s teeth bared dangerously.  “Give him back now, and I MAY make your death less painful than I had originally planned.”

Vox’s screen flickered hard, a scowl on his face.  “Do you even know what you’ve done?!” he demanded, grinding the cable into the base of Angel’s skull.  “What you’ve taken from me!?”

“Angel isn’t YOURS -”

“I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THE DAMN WHORE!” Vox screeched, a sharp overlay of hard distortion in his voice, his arm tightening around Angel.  “I’M TALKING ABOUT VALENTINO!” His screen distorted again, flashes of Valentino flashing across it. “YOU TOOK HIM AWAY FROM ME, YOU BASTARD!”  His cord sparked violently, several others unfurling from his back.  

“And I will enjoy watching you feel the same as I drain every memory until he’s an empty shell, a vessel for the memory of Valentino to return to.”

Angel couldn’t move; the cable stuck to the back of his head was emitting just enough of a pulse to keep his body locked tight and unable to speak.  He was just thankful that Vox hadn’t begun the memory extraction yet, he wasn’t sure he or Alastor could remain calm for that. At best, he was able to move his eyes, and kept them pinned to Alastor.

He’d seen Alastor bitter.  He’d seen Alastor angry. He’d seen him sad, confused, stuck in loathsome memories and in the throes of agony.

He’d never seen Alastor like this before.

Alastor looked like a monster of nightmares, hardly any hint of a humanoid feature left.  He wasn’t even focused on Angel, his red and black dial-shaped eyes were pinned to Vox with the promise of nothing but pain and devouring, aura glowing and shadows almost screeching in the corners.

But Angel could also see Alastor’s body quivering, unbalanced and weak.  Whatever Alastor had done to get this far, it had only partially healed his body, focusing mostly on his power to get him here.  It wouldn’t matter what the power was, if Alastor’s body gave out.

He just needed Vox to break concentration on the cable in his neck, just long enough -

Vox threatening to hollow out his body of memories gave Alastor the push he needed to launch an attack with his shadows, and the opening he was looking for came.  He pushed back at Vox with two sets of arms and used his primaries to reach back and wrench the cable from his neck, letting out a scream when it shocked his hands instead.  He bore through the pain, tearing Vox’s arm from around him and dropping down to the ground, scuttling out of the way before Alastor’s shadows could hit him by accident.

“GET BACK HERE!” Vox snapped, snatching at him with his cable only to have more shadows crawl over it like rats and rend it down to the wiring.  He snapped them off of his cable, his own aura glowing a tempered green and the whole penthouse smelling like ozone and crackling with static in the air.

Angel barely had enough time to duck and cover his head before another loud blast of frequency came distorting the air, nowhere near as bad as last time, but still enough for Alastor’s eyes to go static again and cover his ears, his shadows shimmering and some vanishing entirely.  Vox snapped his cables out and wrapped them around Alastor, though to lesser extent with Alastor holding his microphone out to keep from them coiling around his neck and chest again.

“One way -”  Vox tightened his cables, sparking them out.  “ -or another-” He began reeling Alastor in with them, his screen glitching with madness, voice teetering on insanity.  “ -I will get him back!” He pulled Alastor close enough to reach his hand out and grab Alastor’s head, lurching forward and slamming the other overlord to the floor.  His claws pressed deeply into Alastor’s head, drawing blood. “Your body is bound to give out, and I will take great pleasure in dressing you up like the frail little fawn you are and gifting your head to Valentino when he’s returned!”  

His grip on Alastor’s head tightened, turning it sharply to the side as another cable unfurled from his screen, the end peeling away to show raw sparking cables.  “I didn’t care about the fucking property, but for this, I’ll take EVERYTHING from you! Your towers, your territory, your Hotel, and even your whore! It’s ALL going to be mine, and all you’ll be able to do is WATCH!”

“HEY!”

Vox turned his head in time to get a large decorative geode to the screen, making it crack where his right eye would be.  He let out a static shriek and pulled his hand away from Alastor’s head, touching the crack and glaring through it at Angel Dust.  

Angel’s body heaved with heavy breathing, both scared and enraged, his arm outreached from his throw.  “Look, you goddamn daytime talkshow wannabe motherfucker,” he spat, two pairs of hands clenching at his sides, shaking with adrenaline.  “I don’t know if you got th’ fuckin’ memo yet…”  

He lifted his sixth hand, a red envelope clenched in it with the sealed side out showing that it was still unopened from before.  He pulled another hand up to it, clenching it down the middle.

“BUT I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELONG TO NO ONE!”

Vox dropped Alastor entirely reaching out to get to Angel only for Alastor to slam his microphone into the screen to crack it further, and at the same time Angel tore his contract in half.

A tangible pulse flared out around the penthouse, shaking the windows and breaking the ones that were already shattered.  The two halves of the contract fluttered to the floor before bursting into short flame, the pieces being engulfed quickly before they even touched ground.  After the pulse settled, Angel’s eyes went wide as he fell to his knees, clenching a hand to his chest.

Alator kicked Vox out of the way, rushing over to Angel as the spider was collapsing to the floor.  “Angel!” he called, feeling Angel’s body almost convulsing through locked joints, unvoiced agony all over his face.  “Angel!” He hissed when a cable sparked near him, sending his shadows to stave it back. “What did you DO to him!?”

Vox’s screen kept glitching, unable to settle on any particular image or expression, but there was an air of sick, bitter satisfaction from the corner of a glitched smile.  “I did...nothing…” he crackled out, claws renting into the floor as he pulled himself upright. “Don’t you even know ANYTHING, Alastor? A creature like him...put under contract for SO LONG...he can’t grow....but any power he WOULD have…”  He let out an almost wet, static cackle. “...it can stockpile.” He laughed harder. “What’s a demon to do...when a frail body like that...is overwhelmed by its own power?”  

He stood up, cables staking into the floor to support him.  “Poetic fucking justice, don’t you think? Torn apart and destroyed by his own power.  How pathetic.” His voice conveyed no pity at all. “I’ll have to find another host for Valentino.  At least I got to see that YOU didn’t get him either.”

Alastor gnashed his teeth, forcing himself to focus on Angel.  “Angel, don’ listen to ‘im, sha,” he said, actually feeling a crawling sensation under Angel’s skin and fur, hearing cracks of joints and creaks of muscles tearing.  “You’re gon’ be fine, y’hear? Angel?” He lifted Angel’s head, seeing the eyes cloud over. “Angel! Mon ange -”  

His voice stuck hard in his throat when he heard a loud snapping sound from Angel’s body, feeling the spider go limp in his arms.  He stared down at Angel, dread crawling up his spine as he lightly shook him. “...Angel. Non non non, n'abandonne pas , yer alright, you…”  He sat back hard, staring down at the ashened halves of the contract beside him.  “...ya knew...ya didn’t wanna…’cause ya knew…” He ran a shaking hand over his face, his other carefully lowering Angel to the floor.  

“...Alastor, ya goddamn fool…”  He grabbed his microphone and stood up, glowering at Vox.  “...this ain’t over yet, boy. I plan on makin’ ya suffer tenfold what you’ve done t’ me!”

Vox let out a glitched scoff.  “With what, you backwoods hick?” he mocked.  “Your weak body? Flimsy magic? Admit defeat, Alastor, that whore is hardly worth your pride, even as an inferior overlord -”  He was knocked back to the floor in an instant with Alastor rushing him and slamming the end of his microphone into his chest.

Alastor’s eyes blazed red, baring his teeth.  “What’d I tell ya before, Vox?” he demanded. “He might be a whore, but he’s MY whore!”  He steeled his jaw, parting his teeth and raising a hand to his mouth, preparing for one last ditch effort he didn’t even know he had the strength for.  Vox’s cables pushed him off the floor, electricity sparking at them dangerously as the lights in his Network began going out to fuel them up again.

A loud crack kept either of them from moving, the two hearing another series of cracks before looking in the direction of Angel’s body.  Alastor could see broken movement under Angel’s skin, the whole of his body almost thrashing as though possessed before all six hands slammed down into the floor as though bracing themselves.

Alastor wanted so badly to move, but something in his soul, down to the instincts of his prey animal, told him to STAY PUT.  He could only watch as Angel’s body heaved violently before his back arched upward, and the skin along his spine began to split.

Alastor had heard the sound of skin ripping before, plenty of times.  But hearing it like THIS was like something entirely new. His eyes widened, taking in the sight of the split lengthening from the middle to Angel’s head, the other end beneath the dress, and from the split, something emerging from beneath.

An arched back, covered in blood far too bright to be considered red, and then one by one, six arms with long claws capping each finger.  Then a more labored pull, a near-struggle, until a head came out of the split scalp with enough force to arch what was underneath back.

Like watching a birthing upside-down, was what Alastor could only describe it, feeling his knees go weak as Angel -and oh Kalfu please it HAD to be Angel- arched back further, bracing a set of hands on the floor as he let out an almost orgasmic moan that echoed through the entire penthouse.

Alastor almost dropped to his knees at the wave of arousal that crashed into his gut, only his hold on his microphone keeping him upright.  He swallowed hard, watching Angel shift before standing, a pair of hands pushing the rest of the prior skin down like he was removing a pair of leggings, and stepped out of them, pulling himself completely upright and giving both Alastor and Vox an eyeful of what was under the old skin.

Angel was taller, by at least another foot and a half.  The bright red tissue fluid fell off of him, showing that where soft pink spots had been were now a magenta that was impossible to not see.  His figure was curvier in the hips, his chest fur much more generous, and the heart shape almost looked to be glowing. His hair was longer, down to his shoulders, and all eight eyes opened to show they were all black, his irises the same glowing magenta as they had always been.

The spider stretched before lowering his arms and looking at them almost curiously, the wonder on his expression fading into near-amusement.  “...was that it?” he said, a pair of hands reaching up to comb fingers through his hair. “All that worry, an' there was no reason for me t' be afraid o' my freedom…”  He glanced over at Alastor, smiling wide to show off longer eyeteeth, his missing one having grown back. “And I never realized it'd feel THIS good.”

That smile actually had Alastor drop to a knee, not just from the exhilarating relief of Angel being alive, but that SMILE.  That VOICE. Those EYES. Angel’s very aura was grabbing hold of him by the crotch and refusing to let go. He almost felt like BEGGING to be released, but at the same time not wanting to at all, ever, forever, amen.

As though sensing the thoughts, the aura eased off, allowing Alastor to catch his breath and stand upright again, though the stimulation to his body would take longer to deal with.  “...Angel…” he breathed, a smile returning to his own face. “... mon ange , you…”  He sighed, seeing Angel’s almost expectant look.  “...y’look breathtakin’, darlin’.”

Angel beamed, stepping away from his old skin entirely, not bothered at all by his state of undress.  “I have t’ say the same for you, Al,” he replied, walking over and looming over the deer, a hand reaching up to cup Alastor’s face.  “Y’look real nice, all roughed up.” He gave a toothy grin that could rival Alastor’s himself. “I like that in a man.”

A loud crack of electricity from Vox interrupted their moment.  Vox snarled at Angel, snapping a cable out to grab at him only for Angel to snatch it out of the air, hissing and arching hard at the shock he got.  

“Oh YEAH,” he moaned, giving Vox a wider grin.  “C’mon big boy, you got a bigger load in ya than that!”  He pulled the cable back hard before launching forward and driving his fist into Vox’s screen, completely shattering the left side.

Vox let out a strangled, garbled screech of pain, his entire screen glitched with a distorted NO SIGNAL sign flashing over what wasn’t completely cracked.  Angel kicked him in the chest, sending him flying back into a sitting room set.

Angel looked down at his legs, feeling at one with his lower set of arms.  “Mmm, I like th’ feel o’ that,” he murmured. “I could prolly clear th’ damn Hotel with these babies.”  He turned to Alastor, jerking a thumb in Vox’s direction. “You wanna take it from here, big bad voodoo daddy?”  His irises glowed softly, grin going hungry.  “I’m kinda starvin’.”

Alastor snorted, stepping forward.  “Tha', Angel, is th’ ONLY time y’ get t’ call me ANY sort o’ ‘daddy’,” he said, watching Vox get up.  “Ya shoulda just let ‘im go, Vox.” His eyes began to glow, red veves flickering around his body as he curled his fingers into the opposite palms of his hands, ripping his claws into them to draw blood before gripping his microphone in both hands.  

“Y͏' ̵might've͏ h̶a̵d a q̧uic͜k͞er ̸d͝eatḩ.”

He slammed the end of his microphone into the floor, and a loud, distorted groan of shifting air and twisted metal enveloped around them, the walls of the penthouse turning black and enclosing around them entirely.

 

Outside of the blank hole in Hell that was once Vox’s penthouse, the entirety of Pentagram City shook with a sound not unlike a baritone scream that seemed to come from everywhere, and every piece of technology that had a speaker -television, phones, radios, car stereos, tablets, computers- suddenly ceased their normal function and began to broadcast.

No television could be turned off.  No phone could be powered down. The broadcast was MANDATORY.

And one of this magnitude hadn’t been felt across Hell since the downfall of the overlord Ophelius thirty-eight years ago.

Older demons felt a trickle of fear down their spines, knowing that the Radio Demon had selected another to overthrow, and could only listen to find out who it was.

 

“Hello, hello!  Is this thing on?  Is everyone listening?”  Alastor grinned as he spoke into his microphone in his trademark talk show voice.  “What am I saying, of course you are! Welcome to a very special segment, and hasn’t it been awhile folks?”  He gave a pause for an applause effect.

“You’re too kind!  Now then, first, the news!  Our esteemed overlord, the Network King Vox, was caught attempting an infiltration of the Happy Hotel for Hazbins today, and left quite a mess in his wake!  He also masterminded an abduction for no doubt nefarious purposes of one of the wonderful patrons of the lovely establishment! But no fear, folks, the villain has been apprehended and the damsel in distress became the hero!”

He looked over, seeing Angel almost doubled over in laughter and Vox trying to scramble out of the way of shadows grabbing at him.

“Today’s segment is especially exciting because, my dear listeners, you will be entertained by not one, but TWO hosts!  Please give a warm welcome to my co-host of the evening, the ever-lovely, dashing, BEAUTIFUL Angel Dust!”

Angel laughed again, leaning over to speak into the offered microphone.  “It’s a pleasure t’ be here, Al!” he chirped. “It’s a new thing for me, bein’ on radio an’ all!  Never sure I had th’ voice for it!”

“Oh, my dear, you do just fine!  Now then, would you like to announce our guest star for the evening?”

“I sure would, Al!  Our guest star is a demon who’s gotten a little too big for his britches and thinks he can have whatever it is he wants because he says so!  If only he could work a dick as well as he could a remote control, say hello to Vox!”

“YOU GODDAMN WHORE!” Vox screeched, looking around in a blind haze, unable to focus on anything through his broken screen and it being worse that he couldn’t use any of his frequencies to sense anything around him.  “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?!”

Alastor smiled, twirling his microphone before handing it to Angel, who held it in two pairs of hands reverently.  “You know, Vox,” he said, strolling over, his shadows being cast as colorful caricatures in his wake among the darkness, all grinning as madly as he was.  “For all your postulating about how ‘obsolete’ I am in terms of ability, you seem to forget ENTIRELY where the groundwork for YOUR power comes from.” He held up a hand, curling his claws inward as tendrils sprouted from the darkness and wrapped around Vox’s limbs.  

“Your frequencies, and your signals, your wifi...where does it all come from?  What does it travel?” He threw his head back and laughed. “RADIO WAVES, my dear!”  He spread out his arms, twirling a little. “EVERYTHING you’ve done, I’ve had played across my fingertips for decades.  Haven’t I been a good sport, letting you have your fun for my own entertainment? Aren’t I such a good rival?”

Vox let out a distorted screech, struggling against the tendrils.  

“I know, I’m TOO kind.  TOO good a sport! I gave you an inch, and you took the whole goddamn mile, didn’t you, you naughty little boy?  Well right now, to answer your question, I’ve put you in my own little play place, where nothing exists inside but us.  You can’t have anything pulled in to help you, but EVERYTHING is being sent out. And with that being said…”

His eyes glowed brighter, smile going sharp.  “I’m not going to give you my usual fare, Vox.  You are going to be getting something SPECIAL.” He took a few steps back, holding out his hand to Angel, who gave him back his microphone.

“Angel, dear, why don’t you give the audience a GOOD SHOW?”

Angel blinked at the surprising request, then smiled softly.  “I’d love to, Al,” he said, then his grin went nasty, walking his way over to Vox and draping his top set of arms around the overlord’s shoulders, his second around Vox’s waist, and his third propped on his own hips.  “You still think I’m a little toy, baby?” he asked, giving Vox a pout. “I know you got a good eyeful of me right before I knocked yer fuckin’ LED lights out.” His top two sets of hands began untying and unbuttoning Vox’s jacket, tie, and shirt, tearing them open.  

“You ripped my fuckin’ heart out, you spineless figlio di puttana .”  He dug his claws of one hand into Vox’s skin.  “So I think I should return th’ fuckin’ favor.”

He tore his claws into Vox’s chest, ripping away flesh.  Vox’s scream was almost muffled in its distortion, giving Angel little in the way of satisfaction as he dug his teeth into Vox’s shoulder and bit out a large chunk of flesh.

“How does he taste, darling?” Alastor asked, a heaviness to his voice that he hadn’t used in his other broadcasts before.  Angel finished chewing and swallowed, not bothering to wipe his mouth.

“Not revolting,” he answered.  “But maybe too big a job for lil’ old me.”  He bat his eyes at Alastor, who let out a guttural growl and stalked over, planting his microphone in place before manipulating the tendrils to pull Vox to the floor, leaving him spread-eagle with Angel and Alastor on either side of him.

Alastor smiled, loosening his tie and rolling up his sleeves.  “It’s been awhile since I’ve done a food critique for my audience,” he remarked.  “Perhaps a nibble on each organ to get a proper verdict?”

“Gladly, dolcezza cervo ,” Angel purred, the two smiling at one another with identical grins before claws and teeth began tearing into Vox’s abdomen.

Vox thrashed against his bindings, his screams becoming less distorted and more humanlike as flesh was torn, ribs were pried and snapped away, and greedy hands wrenched his organs from their place.

“Oh, he has a liver, Al!” Angel chirped.  “Your favorite!”  

Non , you’re mistaken, mon ange , that’s YOUR favorite.  MY favorite comes last for dessert!”

“A little too pickled, doncha think?”

“Why I believe you’re right!  Still a fine cut, wouldn’t you say?”

“Not as good as these lungs.  Thank fuck, I’d always imagined smoker’s lungs tasted like tar.”

“Oh, you’d be right about that!”

“Hey Al, you ever had Rocky Mountain oysters?”

“Now dear, this is a family network, no need for such vulgarity.

“Baby, if you didn’t want vulgar, y’ shouldn’t have let me co-host.  Besides...you know you love it.”

Alastor laughed, swallowing down another slurp of lung tissue, licking his fingers.  “Amazing how a dinner date can bring out your worst table manners.”

“Says the posh fucker who’s smackin’ his own fingers,” Angel replied, giving Alastor a saucy look as he dipped his chest into Vox’s abdomen, lifting himself back up to show his more generous chest fluff coated in blood.  “An’ no one ever accused Angel Dust of bein’ tasteful.”

The playful banter was thoroughly undermined by the visual display, and Alastor was more than happy to witness it and play along.  He smiled, lifting his thumb to wipe a spot off of Ange’s face, quite far from his blood-soaked chest. “You’ve got a little something right here...there, all clean!”  He dipped his hand back into Vox’s chest, curling it around the heart but not quite dislodging it.  

“Are you ready for dessert, mon ange ?”

The eldritch room was silent among them, even the shadows ceasing their playful scurrying about to watch the two demons stare at one another.  Alastor’s smile was still in place but his eyes were serious. Angel returned the seriousness with a nod, sliding a hand in to join Alastor’s in curling around the heart.  

“Yes.  I am.”

The shadows began scurrying again, almost whispering to one another as Alastor lifted his left hand and used Vox’s own blood to paint a veve and several sigils onto the demon’s screen, seeing a flicker of lucidity in Vox’s displayed expression turn fearful and horrified as though seeing things clearly for the first time.  

“...A...Alastor…!” Vox stammered out, claws scraping the blackened floor.  “Don’t do this, I -I’ll put everything right, I’ll step down as an overlord, don’t -DON’T PUT ME THERE, DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME!”  He thrashed harder as Alastor’s grin widened, the deer’s body contorting and snapping out of his own clothes as his limbs elongated, antlers grew to at least fourteen points, and eyes went dial-shaped.  “ANGEL! ANGEL, DON’T LET THEM DO THIS!! I’LL FUCKING DO ANYTHING, DON’T LET THEM TAKE ME!”

Angel pulled his eyes from Alastor to give Vox a soulless look.  “Anything?” he asked.

“YES! PLEASE!”

Angel smiled, his thumb rubbing against Alastor’s now gnarled and bony hand around Vox’s heart, reaching up with a free hand to stroke Alastor’s face.

“Then die.” 

He plunged his fist through Vox’s screen, shattering it completely as Alastor tore Vox’s heart out, biting into it and swallowing pieces whole.  

Beneath them, Angel saw Vox’s body pull itself together and recede in size, and to his amazement, take on a human form.  He saw a man in his late thirties with conventionally attractive features that were contorted in terror, and as Alastor ate the heart, the human was dragged away by the shadow puppets only to be torn apart all over again, leaving a bloody mess in his wake.

A wetness nuzzling at him turned Angel back to the present, seeing Alastor’s bloody face look at him almost expectantly, and looked down to see a single mouthful of heart left in the other demon’s hand.  He nodded, and opened his mouth, letting Alastor feed him the last piece, the deer watching him intently as he chewed once and swallowed.

An ecstasy of arousal and hunger overtook Angel in a way he’d never felt before in his life or afterlife, pulling him to cling to the closest body he could and finding every comfort he needed in the distorted body that was Alastor’s REAL form.  

A thick crown of black antlers that reached sixteen points strong, nestled in black and red hair that had a texture more befitting of fur than actual hair, framing a thinner, bonier face with sunken black eyes that held lights like red radio dials and a grotesquely stretched mouth full of stained sharp teeth.  Long, thin arms ending in jointed claws fit only for rending flesh, an emaciated appearance to signify eternal hunger and a never ending appetite. Deer legs, he saw, covered in red fur and ending in black hooves, with more red fur covering his chest and trailing down over his back with an enlarged, protruding spine, the creature’s hunched posture easily capping Angel in height should he be upright.

Angel had never seen anything more beautiful in his life.

He buried his face in the coarse chest hair, smelling blood, viscera, and musk, and never wanted to come back up for air again.  He had to, feeling those sharp claws tip his head up, feeling Alastor’s saliva dripping onto his face through teeth. Angel leaned up, kissing Alastor’s teeth as he trailed one set of arms around bony shoulders, another’s hands counting ribs on Alastor’s sides and the third resting on the deer’s thighs.  He leaned back briefly, silently asking permission with restraint he didn’t know he even had.

It only took one understanding nod from Alastor for Angel to duck his head down and easily find Alastor’s cock among the fur, one set of hands stroking eagerly as he parted his jaws and licked over him.  A small teasing whim from the first moment he spoke to Alastor that had grown into a raging beast leading up to now was finally off the leash, and Angel could almost CRY at how freeing it was to finally have permission.

To have ALASTOR’S permission.

It wasn’t just lust that was cladding over Alastor, it was adoration and rewarded patience and the most sinful of love.  Not even the two broken hearts of Angel’s past could compare to what he was feeling and giving and GETTING from Alastor, and nothing could ever come close again.

Angel felt he’d barely even begun in pleasuring Alastor before the beast pulled him back up, disregarding the copious and slightly venomous drool dripping from Angel’s mouth before parting his jaws and pulling Angel’s mouth to his, only his tongue able to work with anything past his teeth, and was something Angel was more than happy to work with.  Angel curled his arms around Alastor’s neck, moaning around the tongue that filled his mouth more than the cock did, nipping and sucking on it eagerly as he felt Alastor’s hands grip into his skin, cutting through without a care.

Even the kiss was over far too soon, and Angel found himself pushed front-forward into the bloody mess that had been Vox’s carcass.  He pressed his cheek into the blood puddle, feeling his own heart pounding in his chest as Alastor ran his claws over Angel’s back and down over his thighs.  Please please please was the prayer that Angel kept begging, and with a swift mount and a hard thrust, his prayers were answered.

He screamed, renting his claws into the floor as his new body was torn into, feeling like a virgin all over again in the best way possible.  Nothing could compare to this, he thought, reaching back to grip Alastor’s hair between the antlers, feeling the beast huffing hungrily into his shoulder.  Nothing would ever be good enough. This was HIS punishment, for HIS gluttony, never ever having anyone that would make him feel this way ever again. He’d suffer from now until the end of time just for this, chasing this pleasure after one taste, over and over and over again.

“Ti voglio bene, Alastor! ” he gasped out through his saliva-choked sobs.  “Ti amo così tanto, ti voglio così tanto, per favore, per favore, per favore!”   He screamed louder when Alastor pinned him down with his body, razor sharp claws digging into Angel’s hips to pull them up to his own.

“Ma douce araignée,” came a rumbling, radio-fuzzy growl almost projected into his head.  “Mon araignée. Ma chérie. Ma putain. Mon corps. Mon amour.  Tout à moi! T҉͡O̢͝UT ̶̧͘À̵͝ ̴̶MOĮ͟!   He bit down hard on Angel’s shoulder, eliciting another scream from the spider that accompanied an orgasm.  

Angel grasped one of Alastor’s antlers, pulling it tightly as his orgasm was drawn out by the beast’s incessant rutting.  He screamed and sobbed and spat out an unintelligible mix of English and Italian in one long breathless string until his thighs were torn open by Alastor’s claws, and a moment later felt his insides fill entirely.  

He couldn’t move through the second orgasm that pushed him into, his grip on Alastor’s antler unrelenting until the beast withdrew out of his body and allowed him to collapse on the floor in a shaking heap.  Angel’s hand fell from the antler limply onto the floor, struggling to catch his breath as his raw emotions mixed with his new body’s even newer sensations scrambled for a wavelength to settle into.  

After several long moments, he forced his hands to brace up on the floor and push him to his side and then let gravity finish with lying on his back with a groan, staring up at the black void that was the room they were still in.  His eyes found Alastor, who was grinning down at him with a touch of concern, and gave the deer a smile of his own.

“I’m alright, dolcezza cervo ,” he murmured, reaching up to touch Alastor’s face.  “ E tu ?”

Affamé ,” Alastor’s radio-garbled mental voice replied.  “But what else is new, my dear?” Angel laughed a little; it was almost ridiculous hearing Alastor’s jovial work voice coming from such a sublime creature that transcended definition.  

“Nothin’ new on this end,” Angel said.  “Just what I’ve felt for awhile now.” He made grabby-hands for Alastor, who lowered himself to the floor and curled around Angel like a possessive deer.  “ Ti amo .”

Alastor made a soft rumbling sound in his chest, nudging Angel’s head with his own.  “ Je t'aime aussi mon cher ,” he replied.  

Angel beamed, reaching up to pet at Alastor’s head and face lovingly before his eye caught Alastor’s microphone still glowing right by them.  “...Al, we’re still recording.”

Alastor looked up at it, with a DEFINITE deer-in-the-headlights look.  “...ah, shit,” he growled in his natural voice, raising a hand to snap his claws and turn it off, letting out a long string of Cajun French profanity that left Angel laughing and crying on the floor.

What a day they’d walk into tomorrow, he thought with a wide smile.

 

Chapter Text

Charlie wasn't entirely sure what she was going to do for the twenty-odd minutes between Alastor leaving to apparently get Angel Dust and the sound of the TV, computer, radio (a gift from Alastor) and both her and Vaggie's hellphones suddenly switching on at the same time and Alastor's voice coming through.

“Hello, hello!  Is this thing on?  Is everyone listening?  What am I saying, of course you are!  Welcome to a very special segment, and hasn’t it been awhile folks?” 

Vaggie paled, looking at Charlie; Alastor having an actual broadcast during his tenure in the Hotel could either mean something very good or very, very bad.

“You’re too kind!  Now then, first, the news!  Our esteemed overlord, the Network King Vox, was caught attempting an infiltration of the Happy Hotel for Hazbins today, and left quite a mess in his wake!  He also masterminded an abduction for no doubt nefarious purposes of one of the wonderful patrons of the lovely establishment! But no fear, folks, the villain has been apprehended and the damsel in distress became the hero!”

"VOX did this!?" Charlie snapped.  "That asshole -"

"Charlie, that's not the POINT!"

“Today’s segment is especially exciting because, my dear listeners, you will be entertained by not one, but TWO hosts!  Please give a warm welcome to my co-host of the evening, the ever-lovely, dashing, BEAUTIFUL Angel Dust!”

Charlie got a horrible sense of déjà vu, and the horrible feeling didn't stop there.

Through Alastor laughing at Vox's assumptions of being a superior breed and power-make of demon and actually giving the reins to Angel for this 'special segment', Charlie thought it couldn't get worse.  Then came the sound of wet tearing.

"How does he taste, darling?" Alastor was asking.  Oh.  Oh no.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve done a food critique for my audience.  Perhaps a nibble on each organ to get a proper verdict?”

“Gladly, dolcezza cervo.”

Charlie almost vomited at the sound of flesh tearing and messy chewing; she already knew what the 'dates' of the two demons sometimes amounted do, but the fact that Angel was indulging in cannibalism too, and eating someone alive while he screamed in agony, commenting on the taste of organs...

Then Alastor mentioned 'dessert' and Vox appearing to lose the rest of whatever sanity it was he had left, begging both Alastor and Angel to spare him of something else that was there with them, his screams fading as though he were being carted away while more sounds of flesh-devouring rang through the speakers of every corner in Pentagram City.

Then there was a beat of near-blessed silence, like the broadcast was over but the line wasn't cut.

And then came obscene and downright pornographic sounds that made Charlie and Vaggie look at one another; this couldn't be happening, not on one of ALASTOR'S programs.  But both had been around Angel long enough to know what the spider sounded like, and these were definite moans.  The only sounds from Alastor were completely inhuman growls and the creaking of bones until the screaming started.

"FUCK'S SAKE, TURN IT OFF!" Vaggie screeched, her face red as she stomped on her phone and attempted to turn off or unplug anything else to no avail; the sound still came through in the speakers.  Charlie could only hurry out of her office and to a place with no speakers, still covering her ears to not hear Angel screaming in Italian and Alastor answering in French, her fluency in both not helping her attempts to ignore it at all.

It took several long minutes until it quieted down, Charlie hesitantly lifting a hand from her ear in time to hear Alastor say, “Je t'aime aussi mon cher.

Followed very quickly by, "Al, we're still recording."

And, "Ah, shit -!" and the sound of feedback.

THEN silence.

Charlie and Vaggie looked at one another, both red-faced and stunned.  "...did that actually just happen?" Vaggie demanded weakly.  Charlie didn't even have time to answer before the front door burst open and Husk rushed in, his fur standing on end. 

"IS ALASTOR HERE!?" he yelled, sounding panicked. 

"The fuck do you think!?" Vaggie shouted back, gesturing all around her.  "Holy FUCK, what the HELL was that!?"

"THE HELL YOU THINK, THE ENTIRE FUCKIN' CITY JUST HEARD THAT!"

"BOTH OF YOU, STOP YELLING!" Charlie yelled, pulling at her hair.  "Oh JEEZE, how are we supposed to look them in the eye again!?  And how's that gonna reflect on the Hotel!?  Oh god-fucking-damn it!"

"I LEAVE FOR AN HOUR AND THIS PLACE IS A MESS!" Niffty screeched, taking her turn to yell as she dropped her shopping on the floor and began running to get a broom, paying no heed to the other three having their individual breakdowns.

Charlie wailing about company image and damage control.

Vaggie about indecent mandatory pornographic bullshit.

Husk about how there was NO alcohol left in his smashed bar.

No one quite knew where to start in picking the pieces back up.

 

"No word from either of them yet," Charlie muttered two days later, checking her phone for the umpteenth time.  Husk snorted, flipping mindlessly through the television in the corner of his cleared-up bar.

"You really surprised?" he asked.  "The entire goddamn Pentagram heard them both fucking."  He settled on the news for lack of anything better, watching the weather report.  "That, and if Alastor was doin' what I THINK he was, he'd need a day anyway to recover."

Charlie arched a brow.  "Recover from what?"

"Not my place t' say."

"You and your cryptic crap.  Between you and Al, you're going to give me an aneurysm from all the stuff you're keeping from me."

Husk twisted the top off of his flask.  "Kid, trust me, if I could unlearn it, I would."  He took a hard swig.  "You think workin' with Al gives you a migraine?  Imagine working FOR him."

Charlie was spared asking what he meant by that when her phone buzzed, answering it.  "This is Charlie."

"Charlie dear!" Alastor's voice rang in, sounding like he always did through a radio and his greeting loud enough for Husk to hear and spew out his liquor from shock.  "Wonderful to hear from you, I believe the Hotel lines are still down."

"...yeah, they are," Charlie said, her face warming at the lingering embarrassment and wondered how Alastor could keep an even tone with what he'd subjected to the entirety of Hell.  "Where ARE you guys?  It's been two days!"

"Oh, just some recuperation after taking care of a pest," Alastor replied flippantly.  "I needed some downtime, and Angel Dust needed some uptime, but we're back at one-hundred percent and on our way home!"  Her phone felt staticy in her hand, and she SWORE Alastor was grinning almost evilly.  "We just have to take care of one last thing.  See you soon!"

"Wait, what do you mean by -"  She sighed when the line went dead.  "...that.  Seriously.  Migraine."

Husk held out his flask.  "Seriously.  It helps."

She opened her mouth to decline when she felt the ground shudder beneath her, and heard a low, distant rumble not unlike an ungodly dying roar like a mountain was collapsing.  "What the -"  Her eye caught the TV screen, staring as a breaking news segment showed that Vox's entire Network tower was collapsing, and rising from its destruction was a brand new radio tower.  "Oh goddamn it, Alastor!"

Husk banged his head on the section of the bar that wasn't smashed.  "Fuck my life," he muttered.  He couldn't watch as the news station caught footage of the freak-out that ensued before the main cameras went off.  "Prepare for shit to hit the fan, Princess.  Al just knocked out TV communication."

Charlie sat down hard on a stool.  "...oh," was all she could come up with.  There was nothing else more to say or do, just wait for something else to happen.

And after ten minutes, something else did.

The front door opened and Alastor's familiar voice rang out.  "We're home, everyone!"  Then a beat of a pause.  "Oh my, what a mess."

"We should've billed Vox for th' damages, th' bastard," Angel Dust's voice chimed in, sounding a touch different to both Charlie and Husk, the former hopping up to go see the while Husk remained where he was.  Charlie rounded the corner, angry demands as to what in the world he thought he was doing dying on her tongue when she saw them.

Alastor didn't surprise her all that much; he looked almost the same as he always did, except she saw that his antlers were slightly larger, sporting six points instead of four, and his smile looked exceptionally sharper than she was used to seeing.

It was Angel Dust that shocked her. 

The spider was significantly taller than the last time she'd seen him, and he now had vivid magenta fur patterns instead of pale pink, and all eight of his eyes were black, save for the bright pink of his irises.  His hair was shoulder-length and styled into soft old-fashioned waves that framed his smile, which was almost mischievous with longer eyeteeth fangs tipped in pink.  He was definitely curvier, his chest fluff much more buxom, and almost spilling out of the black jacket that was both tailored to perfection but straining to contain the contents.  His third pair of arms were tucked away as usual, though he had foregone gloves to show his fingers ended in shiny magenta claws.  Though his skirt was short as normal, it seemed even shorter with his added height, and the heeled boots weren't doing any favors helping.

All of that paired with the oversized black coat lined with puffy pink fur made Angel look like a movie star goddess, and one at first instinct made Charlie want to worship. 

...pack THAT piece of baggage away and shove it under the bed, she thought, fighting down her blushing with major difficulty, seeing that her reaction was just what the two were expecting.  "What in the world?!" she finally snapped, gesticulating wildly.  "Just...WHAT!?"

Angel snorted.  "Which part?" he asked.  "The part where Vox wanted revenge on Alastor killing Valentino by kidnapping me, the part where Al and I destroyed him, or the part where we tore his Network down and put the radio tower up?"

"YES!"

"Well there ya go, that's what happened."  Angel laughed while Alastor rolled his eyes with a fond smile, then looked over the still-broken areas of the Hotel.

"This won't do at all," he murmured, twirling his cane before snapping his fingers, the sound like a sharp crack as it seemed the Hotel itself came alive in the broken sections, regrowing itself with almost organic fluidity.  "We can discuss details in a bit, Charlie dear.  There's quite a lot to talk about -"  The door slammed open, cracking it again as Cherri burst in, looking like she had ran the whole way there.  "I JUST fixed that."

"YOU!" Cherri shouted, stalking to Angel and grabbing his coat, pulling him to her height.  "TWO days, and no call!  After something like THAT!?  The fuck kinda friend are you!?"

Angel laughed, standing upright again, Cherri dangling from his coat.  "My phone was broken, babe, I couldn't call with all th' juicy details!"  He grinned, his second arm tucking under her legs to seat her up on it with the arm above it slung around her shoulders.  "But if Husky is up for handin' out drinks, I'll tell ya ALL about it.  I'm sure hearin' it don't even DO it justice."

Cherri grinned, punching his shoulder.  "You slut.  So.  Was he THAT good?"

"Babe, you don't even know."

"How big was he?"

Angel giggled.  "Drinks first, sugartits.  Let's just say I ain't jealous of you an' Sir Two-Dicks at ALL."

Charlie ran her hands over her face as Alastor fixed the door again.  "Oh hell in a handbasket," she muttered.

"Agreed," Alastor said, straightening his collar.  "Angel may be awhile with his friend.  We could discuss things now, if you'd like."  He steered her to his office, tapping his microphone.  "Niffty dear, we're back!  Could you please bring coffee to my office?"  He sat Charlie down before taking seat across from her at his desk.  "Now then."  He dispelled his microphone, folding his hands on the table.  "At what point do you wish I start?"

Charlie massaged her temple.  "...the beginning," she said.  "I've been sitting on a thousand questions and no answers for two days."  She sat up, her expression serious.  "I've been scared, Al.  Ever since I found out that my dad's number was hacked to get me out of the Hotel and I came back to find you like that.  Husk is no help, and I just want answers."

Alastor nodded, his smile still present but more tempered and sympathetic.  "Fair enough," he said.  "It began in general when I killed Valentino.  I was privy to the way he...handled Angel.  I did not like it, and decided to simply do away with him."  He nodded to Niffty when she hopped in with coffee, sipping it quietly.

"Come to find, for decades now, Valentino and Vox were not only allies and business partners, they were lovers."

Charlie frowned.  "...I didn't know that," she said quietly, putting creamer in her coffee.  

"Few did," Alastor said, his smile tight.  "Both of them, however, were very keen on sharing Angel as their favorite plaything.  They even went so far as to make a game of making Angel fall in love with them just to break his heart."

"...that's terrible," Charlie said, stunned.  "How...why did they -"

"Because they were terrible people, Charlie," Alastor replied, sitting back and tenting his fingertips.  "That is what Hell is full of.  Terrible people.  Some more than others.  Valentino was a Hellborn like yourself who used his mastery over the sin of lust to build an empire to perpetuate that sin.  Vox was a television mogul from the nineteen-fifties, someone who played with people's lives, took advantage of the desperation those had of stardom, stole ideas for his own.  They were parasites, Charlie.  A louse and a leech who would't have taken redemption if the Good Lord Himself came down and offered it no strings attached."  

His eyes softened.  "I have no doubt that there are those who DO want redemption.  Who WILL come here with those aspirations.  And that there IS good in some people.  But for the vast, vast majority, none of that good will be of any good to anyone other than themselves.  Vox and Valentino may have been in love, but that love was bred from the subjugation and torment of someone else."  His smile twitched into something more angry.

"And it was that love that drove Vox to abduct Angel two days ago with the intent of draining him of all his memories, and replace them with Valentino's memories to bring Valentino back.  So in that vein of things, there were only two courses of action.  I either allowed it to happen, or stop it entirely.  I chose to stop it.  That is my function here in the Hotel, the one I choose to have.  I will let anyone who wishes for betterment pass through these doors, but the moment the Hotel or those within her are threatened, I will not hesitate to eliminate that threat."

Charlie folded her arms over her front, rubbing them quietly.  "...and Angel?" she asked softly.  "...was he okay?  I mean..."

"I got there in time, yes."  

"And...now?"  Charlie vaguely gestured to her hair, for some reason that being what she used to convey his newer look.  Alastor laughed, his smile brightening back to fond.

"Yes, well...at some point he managed to get a hold of his contract and tear it up, freeing himself from anyone's control or influence."  His smile twitched.  "...Charlie, you're familiar with contracts, yes?"

She nodded.  "I am, yeah.  Contracted demons to an overlord or otherwise bind the soul of that demon into a service.  I knew Angel was contracted with Val and then let you keep it after."

Alastor drummed his claws on the desk.  "It was more than that," he said.  "Something I was alluded to but did not quite make the connections until I SAW it for myself.  To start, Angel has been under contracted binding for almost seventy years.  Seventy years of steady, very constant sex work.  Secondly, after he tore his contract, he changed to accommodate an uncontracted form.  And as I'm sure you felt when you first saw him, that uncontracted form...is that of an incubus."

Charlie sat back, blinking.  "...an...as in an ACTUAL -"

"Yes."

"...I don't believe it."  Charlie ran a hand through her hair.  "Incubi and succubi are almost always Hellborn!  For one to be spawned here -"

"It's incredible isn't it?" Alastor asked, smiling.  "His lust in life was so strong it be was rebirthed as something so much more than a demon."  He shook his head.  "And being bound to Valentino kept him from collecting up on all of that energy due to him from his work.  So when he was released from his contract..."

Charlie paled.  "...Al, how powerful is Angel right now?"

Alastor shrugged almost sheepishly.  "I slept with him, didn't I?"  He seemed to take some humor in Charlie muffling screams into her hands.  "I apologize for the bad publicity for that.  But when everyone knows about Angel, I'm sure they'll understand."  More muffled whines. "Oh, what are you even complaining about, it wasn't YOUR broadcast everyone heard you romping on!"

 

Vaggie watched Charlie exit Alastor's office looking like she just aged a couple years.  Alastor walked out after, looking huffy for some reason, and beelined for the cafe.  Vaggie walked up to Charlie, holding her shoulder.  "Hey, Niffty told me they were back.  Are they okay?"

"...yeah."

"...are...YOU okay?"

"...I don't know."

Vaggie nibbled her lip.  "...what's going on?"

Charlie let out a burdened sigh.  "...a lot, Vaggie.  A lot."  She ran a hand down her face.  "...so...just a head's up, if you see Angel, don't be surprised if you're attracted to him."

"...honey, I'm a lesbian."

"...yeah...yeah, you are."  Pause.  "...I think Husk might be onto something."

"Charlie, no."

They followed Alastor to the cafe, seeing Cherri walking out with Angel.  Cherri paused by Alastor and gave him a once-over before grinning.  "Nice," she said through her teeth before turning back to Angel.  "I've got to head back, but you'd BETTER make some time to hang out, bitch."

"You betcha.  Now fuck off back to your overgrown noodle."  He leaned against Alastor, tall enough to prop an elbow up on the deer's shoulder.  "And stew in the jealousy."

Cherri rolled her eye.  "At this point, I don't know if I'm more jealous of you for baggin' a literal beast or him for getting the sexiest guy in Hell.  Jerk."  She gave a wave and headed out, leaving Angel grinning after her.

"Y'hear that, Al?" Angel laughed.  "She's jealous of my big bad beast."

"And my beautiful beau of Hell," Alastor replied, kissing Angel's hand.  Angel laughed, tossing his hair before squeezing Alastor's hand.

"Yer sweet, dolcezza," he said.  "I'm gonna go get changed.  See you for dinner?"  He winked and walked by Charlie and Vaggie, giving them a wave before heading upstairs.

Vaggie stared after him.  "...hon, no offense, but that's the prettiest demon I've ever seen."

Charlie patted her shoulder in understanding.  "I know," she said.  "There's a lot to unpack there."

"More than you think," Alastor chimed in, snapping his fingers and forming his red door from his office.  "Tomorrow, we're going to have to have a talk, Charlie, concerning Angel's stay here."  He held up a hand to halt any of her questions.  "Tomorrow.  It's going to be an eventful time here soon, but we'll have to be on the same page eventually."  He nodded, going into his room and leaving the Hotel in silence.

Charlie looked between the door and upstairs, gesturing helplessly.  "...well shit."

 

Angel walked into Alastor's room, sighing softly as she shut the door behind him.  "Hey Al," he said, smiling at Alastor sitting on the couch with several books.  "Am I too early?"

Alastor shook his head, eyes flicking over Angel's slightly-too-small dress.  "Not at all, darlin'," he replied.  "Yer gonna need a new wardrobe.  Tha' can't be comfortable."

"It's really not," Angel said, tugging at the top a little.  "But I figured I wouldn't abuse my power over ya by comin' in naked."

Alastor laughed.  "Much appreciated."  He sighed, holding up a few books.  "Found some o' my old journals for ya."  He ran his fingers over them nostalgically.  "More than 'nough information for ya in here t' get started."  He sat back, watching Angel take a journal and flip through it.  "...you sure you wanna do this, sha?"

Angel read through a page, looking a little nervous but his eyes held conviction.  "Yeah," he said with a nod.  "Al, there's a big gap in th' overlord hierarchy now, an' I don't want ya bein' run ragged.  If I can help even a little, then I will.  Besides, I think th' lustful sinners need a better outlet than goin' between Val or Vox's place.  I wanna do better by 'em, better than I had."  He smiled a little.  "An' anyway, I have no need for contracts th' way Val did."

"That's true."  Alastor poured out a couple glasses of rum.  "And you ARE familiar wit' how th' business is run.  A startup is really all ya need."  He swirled his glass before tapping his monocle, turning it into a pence-nez before picking up a file he picked up from Vox's office.  "I'm already completely established in Tower Beta -"

"Stupid fuckin' name."

" -anyway.  So th' old Network station is yours.  I just put th' tower up to stake it down for now."

"Nah, leave it up.  Makes things easier."  Angel flipped through another file.  "I'll just rebuild around it, an' have some techs spruce it up for some webinars."  At Alastor's look, he elaborated.  "Got a new girl in th' old Studio before we started all this.  She said TV is bein' overrun by internet streaming anyway.  Might as well cash in on that now."

"Iffin' ya say so," Alastor replied with a smile.  "I'll support ya however I can, y'know tha', right?"

Angel smiled back.  "I hope so," he replied.  "Considerin' I'm sharin' all this with ya."

Alastor glanced up from his file.  "...y'sure 'bout tha'?" he asked.  "I won't be keen on steppin' into your space, sha."

"I know," Angel replied.  "But I want ya to."  He held up a hand, pausing as though concentrating for a moment, then reached over and touched Alastor's arm.  "Al, after everything you've done for me, sharin' th' territory we took together is th' least I can do.  We can be both beaus and business partners, can't we?  B'sides..."  He gestured to himself.  "I'm...still kinda new to this."

Alastor sighed, taking Angel's hand.  "I know, sha," he said.  "We'll figure this out."

"Yeah."  Angel squeezed Alastor's hand.  "I mean...we figured out I'm an incubus.  That'll probably help patch up yer reputation."  He grinned, showing his teeth.  "An' boost up mine.  Even th' great Radio Demon ain't no match for th' wiles of me!"

Alastor laughed.  "Dear, I was no match for ya even before that."  He leaned over, nipping Angel's lip.  "You had me at 'cut me open an' eat me'."  He watched Angel's eyes glow softly, and the clutch-to-the-groin aura slipped out from the spider.

"Well, I ain't gonna say no to that," Angel purred, throwing himself back on the couch dramatically before lifting the side of his dress, showing a garter belt with a knife slipped into it.  "You hungry, cervo?"

Alastor growled, salivating as he gave a weak glare to Angel.  "Not fair wit' th' aura, ange incube," he hissed.  "Yer cut t' my reputation might be on sound evidence."

"Wow, it's almost like I'm a lust demon," Angel sassed back.  "What are ya gonna do about it?"

The hungry growl he got in return paired with the knife being grabbed from his garter belt answered that question, and made him happy that he chose a dress he didn't mind tonight.

 

 

Chapter Text

If Charlie thought the initial advertisement for the Hotel was a media shit show, she was in no way prepared for the day internet went back up and one of the first things people saw was Alastor performing his first 'picture show' broadcast with Angel Dust by his side.

It was also in black and white.  How they managed to pull that off, she had no idea.  

Alastor made his official announcement of Vox's demise, but then shifted the focal point to his public partnership -both personal and professional- with Angel Dust, who announced his own intention of taking over Vox's territory and setting up a new studio that would maintain internet connections in Hell, as well as run up a network of web shows in full connection with Alastor's radio station.

It wasn't said outright, but everyone caught the implication from the sight of Angel Dust as well as the aura he exuded even from behind the screen: Angel Dust had become an overlord.

What was more, the grapevine from Alastor's radio station and those who worked in there witnessing Angel Dust in person made it well known that Angel was an actual honest-to-Satan incubus.  Another human-born anomaly of raw ability, and he was apparently partnered and mated to the original human-born anomaly.  And worse, they were completely co-habitating with equal sharing of their territory and business endeavors.

Adding insult to injury, the two were also continuing to support and endorse the Happy Hotel.

Why?  Nobody really knew.  Nobody was fool enough to inquire about Alastor's business.  The man did as he wished and nothing more, and it was something most demons came to expect by now.  But Angel Dust, the Hotel's first patron and apparent failure of a project entirely, voicing his support?  An even bigger mystery.

 

"Hey, you busy?"

Charlie looked up from her mail -mostly hate mail, nothing she wasn't used to already- and saw Angel Dust standing in the doorway.  She gave him a little smile, putting the letters away.  "No, come on in," she said, watching him walk over to the chair opposite her and sit down.  His aura was thankfully under more control by this point to avoid an overload of discomfort from everyone else, but to Charlie, he still smelled of roses and midnight jasmine body wash; a reminder of erotic memory, if her last anniversary with Vaggie were any indication.  Nothing that could be done about that.  "What's up?

Angel looked somewhat troubled, something she hadn't seen since before all of this happened.  "...it's probably not much," he said.  "But...I feel I need to apologize to you."  He took a breath and let it out.  "I can't say I'm sorry about th' way I ended up but...I am sorry I'm yer failure."

"...oh," Charlie said, feeling a soft flush of shame at having had that vein of thought.  "...I...well..."  She heaved a sigh, running a hand through her hair.  "...no way to really sugarcoat that out."

"...no," Angel agreed.  "But look...there's a reason why I put my support for th' Hotel out there."  His expression was serious and earnest.  "While I may not have been pushin' for redemption...bein' here...it made me push for a better ME.  Give myself some self-respect, y'know?"  A small smile twitched at his lips.  "I mean...you guys all actually gave a damn about me, and whether or not I could do better for myself.  That...it goes a long way, y'know?"  He gestured to himself.  "If I hadn't figured this out, if Val or Vox hadn't been outta th' way...I really think I might've still improved.  Because you gave me a place to come back to."  He laughed softly.  "...trust me...outside of bein' with Al, havin' some stability like that?  I wouldn't trade that for anything."

Charlie teared up, hurrying around her desk to hug him.  "You still have it," she said seriously.  "You and Alastor both.  Business partners or patrons or whatever, this is your home too."  She leaned back, wiping her eye.  "I mean...yeah, this didn't go the way I expected, but there was no telling what would happen.  I just met you, and..I knew that there was something MORE deep down inside.  Something good."  She nudged his shoulder.  "You've got a good heart, Angel.  No one else in Hell could've captured Al's affections the way you did."

Angel blushed a little.  "...I dunno about that..."

"Nope.  You did that yourself."  She poked his cheek.  "Even if all you wanted was a conquest date in the beginning, Alastor still came to care about you so much he went after Valentino for you.  He went public with your relationship."  She threw her hands up.  "He took PCP for you, Angel.  Went after Vox.  All of this, for you."  She sighed, smiling softly.  "And you deserve it.  You deserve someone good for you."

Angel's lips twitched.  "Al bein' good for me."  He laughed, leaning back and running a hand through his hair.  "...damn...my salvation bein' a cannibalistic serial killer.  Hell is Hell for a reason, ain't it?"


Charlie shrugged.  "Well...maybe.  But some things happen for a reason too.  Mysterious things."  She wrung her hands.  "...that's why...even though it's really weird and all after what we've been through...I have good faith in you as an overlord.  You've been at the bottom, now you know how to do well at the top."

Angel beamed.  "I'm so proud of you for that," he said, dramatically wiping away an invisible tear while snickering at Charlie's expression.  

"You're terrible, and you should feel terrible for that."

"Hey, you know what I'm all about, toots," Angel replied.  "You're stuck with me, no take-backs."

Charlie rolled her eyes, kissing his cheek.  "Wouldn't want to," she said.  "And really...don't worry about...you know."  She squeezed his shoulder.  "Maybe in a couple hundred years if you and Alastor get bored, you could give it another shot."

Angel let out a soft laugh, standing up.  "Yer too pure for this place," he said, ruffling her hair.  "So tell ya what.  If you end up goin' before any of us, we'll pick up where ya left off.  How's that sound?"

Charlie stared for a moment before tearing up again.  "...if that could happen, then man...talk about mysterious things happening."  She dried her eyes quickly before standing up straight.  "Okay, that's...enough of all that.  Wanna go get something to eat?  You can tell me all about those plans for the new network."

Although he definitely sensed the forced shift in topic, Angel nodded and walked out with Charlie, putting a pin on that conversation for later.

 

Come to find, being a 'good person' wasn't the language a lot of demons spoke.  

There were a LOT -including former clients of his- who contested his claim to overlordship and no amount of talking would do anything that proving his mettle did better.  And he'd be thrice-damned if he was going to continue to have Alastor step into his battles.

Angel Dust was free from any contract.  He was above punishment from another overlord for making him look bad.

And after all of that happened he was still called Val's whore, he was PISSED.

Apparently a good number of demons needed reminding that incubi weren't JUST sex demons.  He didn't put a fist through Vox's screen for nothing, and if some demons wanted proof he was fit to own territory, he wouldn't disappoint in giving them that proof.  

Some of the more insulting of the ones who challenged him became fit to feed that pit of hunger that he'd developed since eating the piece of Vox's heart, and with them having quarrel with Angel in particular, it was Angel alone who felled them, cut them open, and ate them.

But it wasn't Angel alone who dealt with the consequences.

 

Angel heaved again, another wave of bile shooting from his mouth and into the basin below.  He took deep, labored breaths, two sets of arms clinging to Alastor's arms, who held him from behind and kept Angel's hair out of his face as he talked the incubus calmly through the pain.

"...fuckin' hurts...!" Angel choked out, letting out a dry sob; his tears had dried up some time ago.  "It fuckin' HURTS...!"  He heaved again, this time coming up with a bone.  

"I know, sha," Alastor murmured, his fingers carding through Angel's hair.  "Sortin' through th' meal takes a toll on ya first few times 'round."  He could almost feel Angel's insides pushing up rejected pieces -mostly bone and tendon- under his arms.  "We'll figure out how t' make it work for ya.  Better this now tha' later."

Angel didn't answer, focusing on his breathing before he prepared himself to throw up more solids.  

He was in Alastor's room at the Hotel doing this, the place being a respite of complete secrecy if need be.  Another reason to keep a support of the place, with Angel still figuring out the workings of his new body and power.  And there was a LOT to work out.

Angel learning to control his aura was the first step.  

Alastor was the perfect control for that, with his natural lack of sexual attraction.  If he felt neutral, it was fine.  Intense emotions tipped the scales, which left Alastor more than a little unbalanced himself.  It was something very new, suddenly feeling the urge to tear Angel's clothes off and orally service the spider out in public.  Better to put some distance and let Angel handle his own battles, which fared well enough until something like here and now happened. 

In this way, Alastor felt overwhelmingly protective of Angel, beyond his normal levels.  If Charlie so much as knocked and asked if they needed anything, he was sure he wouldn't be able to stop himself from lopping her head off.  Angel was in pain and ill, and it didn't matter if any other demons would have the urge to protect Angel too; HE was Angel's mate.  HE would provide the protection.

At long last, Angel finally settled down, having purged out what his body didn't need.  Alastor gently wiped Angel's fur with a cool cloth, smiling.  "How you feelin' sha?"

Angel let out a heavy sigh.  "...like shit," he replied, feeling Alastor get comfortable.  "You saw me puking my guts out, you don't hafta cuddle."

"Dear, tha's not even th' least attractive thing I've seen ya do."  He settled behind Angel again, curling his arm around the spider.  "An' nowhere NEAR th' worst thing I've seen.  Yer fine."

"Lucky me," Angel sighed, closing his eyes.  "...'m gonna be hungry when I wake up..."  He was out like a light before he could mention anything else, though Alastor knew what he alluded to.  

Same thing around-about, that Alastor kept insisting himself with.  Angel's appetite only had two moods: peckish and hungry.  Peckish meant Alastor would be up with some takeout later.  Hungry meant feeding from sex as was his nature.  Hungry meant wrangling an orgasm out of someone and devouring it with his body.

Alastor made it clear that he had chosen to be with Angel as both a partner and a mate.  That meant taking Angel as he was, hunger and all, just as Angel had taken him with his gluttonous appetites.  Back-and-forth conversations between the two never really yielded the ultimate cementing of that particular subject.  Alastor found it sweet if not a little weary that Angel didn't want to use him as a constant food source.

All well and dandy, and Alastor knew what being with an incubus would entail, but this was a new development in terms of relationship for him as well.  If he wanted to keep Angel Dust to himself for a specific amount of time, no one could blame him, right?

It wasn't as though he loathed sex with Angel.  While it wasn't his cup of tea and he wouldn't normally indulge himself with it, Angel was new to this.  Alastor didn't have anyone to help him outside of being his meal.  Only his personal rituals and insatiable cravings made the initial few months bearable at all.

Angel coming into his own was also working double-time with choosing to indulge in ritualistic cannibalism.  Alastor wasn't really trying to be cute in telling Angel he was perhaps biting off more than he could chew, but the point was made and countered.  When Angel wanted something, he went at it 110%.  Putting his body through the ringer was nothing he hadn't done before, even if this was on a whole other level beyond intense sex or being strung up for voluntary cannibalization.

Alastor still worried that Angel Dust was pushing himself too hard in too short a time period for adjustment.  He could at least be thankful that Charlie still opened the Hotel entirely to their staying for this.  He'd told her what was going on and swore her to silence about it, even if she was adamant about keeping it quiet herself.  She even offered her hand out to make a deal over that secrecy, something he kindly rejected.  It wasn't just her backers that she was protecting, it was her friends.  Hell or high water, nothing would be getting out about either Alastor's or Angel's weaknesses behind these walls.

That included Alastor offering himself to Angel the same way the spider offered himself to Alastor.

Alastor didn't know if it was more or less intense than their first time back in Vox's Network building; he honestly didn't feel much of anything besides hunger while he was in his true form, but he was fully aware of what he was doing with Angel at the time.  And he'd been in control that time it happened.  Now the past few times, Angel was the one in control and come to find it took a lot to satisfy the lust of an incubus, if even just a little.

Thank goodness for Niffty being able to pop in with food and drink without being noticed because during a hunger craving, Alastor wasn't able to leave the bed for about a day and a half.  

It was getting more under control, Alastor did notice, especially when Angel had taken to cannibalization when he was on the verge of his incubus hunger.  Finding a balance between the two factions was trying, to say the least, but Angel figuring a way around it to avoid being caught up in either his gluttonous hunger or his lustful appetite was admittedly smart.

If only the pain wasn't such a factor.  

Alastor slowly pulled away from Angel, slipping off of the bed to dispose of the rejected bits and pooled bile in the pan.  He could see smears of blood, and was reminded of his own time adjusting to his gluttonous hunger.  Of eating everyone he caught sight of during his episodes, including overlords.  It took some time before he finally found a routine, a method that didn't require him using his true form to devour something entirely.  

Pacing himself, gaining control of his hunger...it required a large amount of mental stability and self-control, things he didn't have much of when he was human.  A very easily-tipped tower in his afterlife as it was, and now he felt the pull of responsibility for his partner's mental stability and self-control on top of that.

Curiously enough, he found that he didn't mind or care.

Perhaps that's what love was, he thought to himself, disposing of the pan's contents and sipping on some coffee that had been sent up by Niffty.  The best and the worst kind.  Not that he minded, anyway.  Angel had already told him that he loved him, not in so many words but rather in gesture, carefully-framed wording, expression. 

Alastor wouldn't mind hearing the words, he thought with a soft smile.  He knew that even despite their public and private confirmations of a relationship, Angel left most of the major stepping stones to Alastor for fear of going 'too fast'.  Alastor accepted that fact and left it be.

For now, anyway.

He made sure Angel was asleep before sitting by the window and cracking it open before lighting up a cigarette, a habit he thought he left behind in life before he discovered his ignited sex drive some weeks ago.  Not that he'd ever let Charlie know, she had enough on her plate already.  He polished one off as he looked out over Pentagram City, seeing Tower Beta in the distance and even further back, the Network Tower.

Three down, three to go, he thought with a smile.  The easy part was over and done with.  The fun challenge was ahead, and what fun it promised to be.

Alastor flicked the butt of the cigarette away before reaching into his pocket and taking out a red velvet box, turning it in his fingers with a smile.

Tomorrow, he thought with a smile.  Over dinner.

 

Charlie looked over the big tabloids with a sigh, trying to scour over any negative mention of the Hotel to iron over with Alastor and Angel later.  Not much in the way to be seen, thankfully, but she knew at some point she would have to go up for another interview and restate her case.  

Not just for herself and her Hotel, but also for her father.  

'Contain it', he'd told her.  What 'it' was remained to be firmly seen, but she had a strong feeling, an inkling of déjà vu she couldn't quite shake.

"Hey," Vaggie said quietly, setting down some hot chocolate next to her.  "You alright?"

Charlie nodded, taking her drink and sipping it.  "So far," she said.  "It'll get harder before it gets easier."  She sat back in her chair, clicking over another article and pausing, the déjà vu feeling coming back.  "...Dad told me to 'contain it', but he hasn't really cared for the affairs of overlords before.  So why care about what Angel and Alastor are trying to do?"

Vaggie huffed, leaning her chin on her hand.  "Well the Radio Demon alone causes enough trouble," she replied.  "Angel Dust being an actual incubus throws in a whole other mess of problems.  I honestly have no idea what they could do together.  What they're trying to do together."  She paused, grimacing for a moment.  "...even if they ARE endorsing and offering protection for the Hotel."

Charlie chewed her lip.  "...maybe they're just...trying to live," she said hopefully.  "Isn't that what we're trying to do?"  She leaned her head on Vaggie's shoulder.  "On top of working to make things better?"

"I guess."  Vaggie stole a sip from Charlie's cup.  "But whatever they're trying to do...trying to be...it's something that your father doesn't want.  If he didn't stop Alastor at his heyday, then..."  She frowned a little.  "...that picture looks familiar, doesn't it?"

Charlie nodded, still looking at the article she'd clicked on.  It was a semi-candid of Alastor and Angel after the press conference dictating their partnership.  Angel had dressed to the nines in a beautiful black gown with a plunging neckline complimented with a pink fur stole while Alastor wore his usual style, save for a black dovetail coat and a homburg hat, and was grinning a mile wide.  

"...it does," Charlie said.  She looked for a long moment before sighing and closing out the window.  "We should get to bed.  Big day tomorrow."

"Why, what's tomorrow?" Vaggie asked, standing up.  

"...I don't know.  But I feel that it's big."  Charlie stood up and stretched before following her girlfriend out of her office and through the lobby on the way to the stairs.  En route, she found herself halting and staring at one of her family portraits.  

A tall, seductively sensual demon in a dress with eyes that could kill as easily as they could enamor.  

A shorter, smiling demon with an almost tangible aura of death and a charming, razor-sharp smile.

Charlie was looking at her parents, but right now, all she could see were Angel Dust and Alastor.

All she could see was a future endeavor that wouldn't end anywhere good should whatever it was they were searching to do come to fruition.

 

"So we're all in agreement then.  These two must be watched carefully, for any sign of usurping the throne."

"And if they are?"

"We have permission from Lucifer to do what we want.  Radio Demon and incubus aside, what are these mortal-borns to do against the Hellborn?"