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Hellfire in New Orleans

Chapter Text

July in New Orleans was always a test on Bambi’s perseverance.

“I still don’t understand why you even bother. If there even is a God, he sure as Hell doesn’t care about us,” Bambi groused, adjusting her collar as she followed her father into the small Church. “I could be out puttin’ up my tree blind. Waste of my fuckin’ time.”

“Ya shut yer mouth in the Lord’s house ‘fore I bust you ‘gain!” Carl hissed under his breath, a meaty paw of a hand no doubt leaving bruises on her bicep as he pulled her to the front pew. “Might rip out that whore’s jewelry ya got in yer mouth so you’ll know your pace.”

The old biddies already called her a queer for shaving part of her head and refusing to wear dresses or skirts to Worship. Never mind the fact she was in her mid-twenties and hadn’t settled down with a fella or even had a kid yet. Couldn’t have them knowing he smacked her around, too.

“If ya wouldn’t test me, I wouldn’t have ta raise my hands,” he growled, looking at her in disgust as she slouched in her seat. “And would it kill ya to dress like a proper lady instead of some dyke?”

Bambi kept her gaze forward and ignored him, admiring the delicate stained glass and antique pipe organ of the simple house of worship like she always did. He eventually gave up on getting a reaction and turned his attention to the other parishioners, a mask of false despair on his face as others tried to console him on doing his best for his “troubled” daughter. She rolled her eyes and slid to the opposite end of the pew; the smell of complete and utter bullshit was stifling.

There was nothing wrong with wearing a nice pair of skinny jeans, a pair of sensible ankle boots, and a fitted dress shirt to Church. There was nothing wrong with shaving part of her hair off when it was three feet long and the weather was almost a constant one hundred percent humidity out. There was nothing wrong with a woman hunting gators and deer while her piece of shit sperm donor was passed out drunk at home and the fridge was empty.

I was hoping things would get better once we moved to the Crescent City, she mused, glacier irises meeting the amber gaze of Saint Hubertus in the nearby stained glass. Instead, I’m still stuck with this shithead.

His halo mimicked antlers and, as always, was accompanied by an impressive stag. Patron Saint of Hunters, the only one she kept a token of on herself at all times for. Bambi took out said piece, delicately carved from an antler slice by her own hands, and idly rubbed her thumb on the back. He was the only Saint she bothered with since Carl started dragging her here on her birthday and why not?

Saint Hubertus was the only one that had actually answered her prayers in all of her twenty-five years of life.

Carl had left her stranded in feral hog territory, literally pushing her out of the moving truck and driving off, and she had been stuck up a tree at least twenty feet in the air after a boar charged her almost immediately after she’d regained her feet. To this day, Bambi couldn’t tell anyone how she’d gotten that high without a boost since the tree had no branches she could’ve reached, but the blood on the tree told of a sudden adrenalin high that shredded her hands and feet in the process of survival.

Someone kept coming around and placing fermented corn around the area, bringing back the entire herd of at least thirty pigs. So she stayed stuck up the skinny tree; dehydrated, sunburnt, covered in blood, and filth. As the sun started to set on the third day, she was honestly considering just letting herself fall and giving the hogs something to eat when her Salvation appeared.

A bull Elk appeared, not at all native to Louisiana, right before she lost her balance and fell from the tree.

Before the hogs could get her, the Elk charged into the fray! Bambi had curled up until the dust settled, waiting for a stray hoof to end her life, but it never happened.

When the dust settled and the hogs ran off, the Elk had nudged her until she sat up. Despite still being keyed up from the fight, he had accepted her shaking hand on his velvet muzzle and a chin scratch before huffing over her as if to check if she was alright.

The gore on his antlers and hooves didn’t bother her in her dehydrated state.

Norman, an older gentleman who would hunt with her on occasion and only friend down here, had flown into the field in the darkening twilight. His truck spooked the stag and he disappeared back into the woods. The only thing left behind was a broken piece of his antlers that she pocketed before Norman reached her.

With her friend’s help, Bambi was taken to the hospital and sent back home a week later. Carl had convinced the entire congregation she had run away on a drug bender while she’d been away, but she didn’t care. Norman brought up Saint Hubertus when she divulged the story of the bull Elk and he showed her a few artworks of him.

The stag that often accompanied Saint Hubertus had a striking resemblance to the one that had randomly shown up to save her ass, so she carved his likeness onto the antler fragment and fashioned it into a worry stone pendant of sorts. Never left home without it.

Since then, she’d escaped everything from a stalking cougar to nuisance gators – all events that should’ve ended with just another lost Soul to the Bayou since she usually hunted alone. Bambi liked to think he’d kept her safe all this time in exchange for all the conservation work she did, but it was probably dumb luck.

Seeing Father Jonah finally step up to the podium, Bambi sat up to give him her attention and a genuine smile which he returned. Jonah was good people; the only good person in this damn Church, in her opinion.

He was a good friend of Norman’s and never judged anyone like the sheeple he preached to. Father Jonah was also very accepting of the LGBTQA+ and preached acceptance, which surprised her at first, but he was adamant that God’s word was about love and acceptance rather than hypocrisy and violence against the unknown.

What caught her eye as Father Jonah sorted his papers, though, was the man that entered from the back room and sat at the pipe organ nearly right in front of her. She’d never seen him around the Church in the few years she’d been there, they didn’t get newcomers with it being so small.

Dressed in the stereotypical black robe of a priest, he was quite the lanky fellow albeit classically handsome. All leg and arm from what she could see, but he moved much too smoothly to just be some glorified choir boy. His skin was a warm chestnut color, hair a warm brown with red undertones, freckles dotted the bridge of his nose under his wire frame glasses, gorgeous dark amber eyes crinkled a bit in the corner as his lips twisted into a small smirk –

Jesus, fuck me! He caught me staring!

“Take a picture, darlin’. It lasts longer,” he drawled, making her face bloom into a lovely red.

Bambi was saved from embarrassment as Father Jonah started his sermon, motioning to the man at the keys with a nod. He placed his, curiously, gloved hands on the ivory and Bambi simply watched his hands dance over them with well-practiced ease. He had absolutely lovely hands, from what she could deduce.

She glanced up at his face only to find one eye cracked open and looking at her, face the epitome of smug as the apples of her cheeks burned once again. This was the only part she enjoyed about being forced to come, the singing. She wasn’t going to let him ruin it.

Bambi pushed him from her mind as the congregation stood and raised their voices in worship. She closed her eyes and sang from memory, vibrato voice ringing out beautifully among the small gathering.

It absolutely sucked that the angelic sound was produced by fucking demons masquerading as people…

Father Jonah introduced the stranger after the hymn as Father Alastor, come to help run the place as Jonah was getting on in age. Bambi was not prepared for the transatlantic accent to come out of Father Alastor’s mouth after the drawl he’d hit her with earlier, mouth twisting to hold back the abrupt urge to giggle, but she punched Carl in the arm when he outright guffawed along with a few of the other Boomers in the pews. After a short introduction, he stepped to the side to observe the usual running of things.

Arms behind his back, back straight, stance relaxed; the new Father oozed a calm confidence. Looking like that, it was no wonder! Father Alastor had a classic sort of beauty to him that reminded Bambi of the old sepia photographs of her grandfather.

Bambi caught him watching her a few times and finally raised an eyebrow in question. The new Shepard replied with a smile subtle wink that made her cheeks flush with a tiny frown. Sick of being teased by this intruder, no matter how entertaining, she brought out the big guns.

Waiting until Father Jonah had paced to the other side of the room and being the mature adult she was, Bambi made sure Father Alastor was looking directly at her before making a peace sign and wiggling her tongue between them lasciviously, a smoldering look on her face.

His eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline as he choked loudly on air, the sound echoing and gaining Jonah’s attention in the quiet place. By then, Bambi had clasped her hands on her lap and looked the picture of Innocence, complete with a head tilt in concern when Father Jonah asked if he was alright. Once he went back to preaching, she smirked at his beet red face and blew a kiss.

Those venom piercings are paying for themselves, finally!

“Trust you to be soft for a nigger in the south,” Carl grumbled just loud enough for her to hear. “Lettin’ you live with ya mother for so long made you a fuckin’ snow flake.”

Bambi knew Father Alastor heard him when his jaw clenched and he rolled his shoulders as if he was letting the slur roll off him like water off a duck.

“Says the one who tried to fight a high schooler for calling him a Boomer.” Bambi finally looked away from Father Alastor with an exaggerated pout, “What’s wrong? Did he hurt your feewings? Do you need a safe pwace?”

Carl snarled at her and turned his attention back to Father Jonah, likely not even taking in the words of wisdom and thinking tiny bigoted thoughts instead. She turned back to Father Alastor with a solemn look, apologizing with her eyes and a small bow of her head. He bowed his head back in an almost imperceptive move and graced her with a tiny, genuine smile. She returned it before giving Father Jonah her attention once more.

Carl left with one of his drinking buddies, probably to talk shit about the new pastor, and left Bambi at the Church. She spent the time putting Bibles and hymn booklets back in their cubbies while the two pastors made small talk with those in less of a hurry to leave.

“She’s an odd one, isn’t she?” Alastor questioned, unable to stop his eyes from wandering to the young woman every so often. “Not like her father at all. Certainly not from around here, yes?”

“Bambi is odd in her way, but a genuinely good Soul here,” Jonah replied while watching her sweep the floor starting at the back and moving towards them. “Just started coming regularly last year after moving from up North, but her father drags her here like she openly refuses.”

“A new Lamb, then?”

Jonah chuckled and shook a hand at Alastor. “That Lamb will sooner knock your dick in the dirt than tolerate ignorance and hatred, my boy. Treat her with respect and she’ll do the same.”

“Kyle!” Both men jumped at hearing her bark towards them, a young boy stopping abruptly in the doorway like cold water had been tossed on him. “Come here, please!”

The child, Kyle, hesitantly made his way over with his hands in his pockets and looking down sheepishly. He rocked on his feet for a moment before looking up at Bambi who had a hand on her hip and nails tapping on the broom handle.

“Y-yes, Miss Bambi?”

The rest of the conversation was lost to them as Kyle’s mother came back inside to see what was taking so long, sighing in frustration at the sight of him with Bambi. After a few words, Kyle was under the pew and back out with a rather large glob of something in his hands. Bambi marched him to the garbage, then to the bathroom in the back to wash his hands before bringing him up front. Kyle saw his mother and blushed something fierce under her disapproving gaze.

“Sorry for keepin’ him, ma’am. Found more gum again.”

“And how do you know it was Kyle?”

“He’s the only other one in the congregation that like the sour green apple Bubble Tape that I do, ma’am,” Bambi supplied with a shrug. “He always asks me for some before mass starts.”

The woman pinched the bridge of her nose in exasperation while Kyle shrunk in on himself. This was apparently a repeating occurrence and Alastor found his nose wrinkling at the idea of having to scrape old what-have-you off the pews.

“Thank you, Bamba-lamb. I thought we’d curbed that habit weeks ago!” the older woman sighed, nudging Kyle forward. “What do you say young man?”

“Sorry, Father Joe… Miss Bambi…” Bambi cleared her throat and raised an eyebrow. “Huh? Oh! And Father Alastor… I’ll do better, promise!”

“He’ll be over to help ya with preparing bait for the gators during the week, Bambi,” his mother said before leading him off.

“There’s no need, ma’am. Really!” she tried to call after, but they’d already gotten into their vehicle. Bambi deflated a bit. “Last time he helped, he puked on the chicken…”

“I reckon the gators don’t much mind a little extra flavor!”

Bambi’s face turned to one of disgust as she looked to Father Jonah, making him laugh from deep in his belly. She rolled her eyes and went back to sweeping. It wasn’t long until the church was empty and she was walking up to them, sleeves rolled up and wiping a bit of sweat from her brow.

“My, where did that wonderful smile of yours go? You know, you’re –”

“ - Never fully dressed without one. Yea, yea.” Her nose wrinkled as Father Alastor chuckled, white teeth flashing momentarily. She turned to face him, crossing her arms. “Is it a damnable offense to tell a member of the clergy to fuck off?”

“Behave, you two.”

“Yes, Father,” they chorused, the man looking at her in further amusement as she curled her lip at him.

“Good morning, sweetheart. Surprised to see you today,” Jonah said. “You’re usually getting ready for hunting season.”

The question wasn’t said with malice, just genuine curiosity. Filling the fridge was first priority for Bambi this time of year and she had a long list of tasks to complete before the seasons started.

“You’re just wonderin’ when you’ll get some of my jerky,” she said with a smirk.

“Don’t tell me you go after those beasts all by your lonesome, Miss Bambi?” Alastor asked.

“I do. Why?” Her tone was challenging when she answered him, shoulders squared like she was preparing for a fight.

“Prickly thing, aren’t you, dear?”

“Alright!” Father Jonah stepped between the two, seeing Bambi was riled enough already. “Alastor, if you’d wait for me in our office?”

“Of course, Father Jonah.” Alastor bowed his head at him before turning to Bambi. “Until we meet again, ti chat.”

“Who the fuck are you calling ‘Kitten’!?” Jonah had to put a hand on her shoulder or she would’ve launched herself at the departing man’s back.

“Language, Bambi!”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” She took a deep breath, counted to ten, then, “I’m sorry. Whom the fuck?”

“Sweetheart, no… Let’s go over what we need for the upcoming bake sale – out here!”

Father Jonah shook his head with a deep sigh as Bambi pulled out her phone to open the list of items needed for the fundraiser. These two were either going to get along like a wildfire or like water and oil, there’d be no in-between. He hoped it’d be the former. As soon as he’d been told Alastor was the one being sent, he knew Bambi might finally have a kindred spirit to bond with and visa versa, but their behavior so far predicted mixed results.

“God better give that twink ass bitch the strength to catch these hands or watch his mouth!” Bambi huffed.

“Lord, give me strength to weather this storm…”

With gator season upon the Crescent City, Bambi found herself thanking Kyle for helping her with the bait. With his help, she’d been able to prepare more than fifty percent more than she needed and get some tags early. Poor kid was green in the face every time, but he didn’t vomit this year so that was a plus. She paid for him to get a new bike and set him off on his way.

After their initial meeting, Father Jonah could always count Bambi and Alastor to make mass interesting. Whether it was Alastor riling the blue eyed belle up by playing complicated pieces on the pipe organ (which he knew she couldn’t help but watch) or it was Bambi making inappropriate gestures/noises when Alastor spoke, there was always a good laugh to be had between the two.

They had even teamed up to make everything needed for the bake sale that, mysteriously, most of the congregation had said they couldn’t help with. The three of them had been in Jonah’s house for a good two days straight baking, but – besides a small flour war – there were no casualties. Their joined efforts earned them more than twice the goal the church needed for new pews and siding!

There seemed to be truce between Alastor and Bambi after that, much to Jonah’s relief.

Now Bambi was in Father Jonah’s backyard with him after setting the bait that morning and relaxing with some of his famous lemonade while she performed some maintenance on her .3030 and his own guns. She was checking the sights of her gun when their conversation was cut short by the sound of gravel being kicked up and a car door slamming. Bambi had just slid a small magazine on the .3030 when Alastor vaulted himself over the back fence and collapsed on the ground.

They were stunned to say the least, but Alastor’s state was quick to get them out of their seats.

His glasses were cracked and hanging off one ear, he had a black eye and a split lip, and usually pristine white dress shirt was covered in red splotches. There was a rip in one shoulder and a few buttons were missing, exposing his chest and abdomen, which were also covered in red. His breath was labored like he’d just run from the Devil himself and he couldn’t hold himself up, falling back on his front when his arms quivered and gave out.

Without hesitation, they helped him up and toward the house. Jonah took an arm over his shoulder while Bambi wrapped an arm around his waist. When they sat him on the porch swing, her hand was covered in slick blood when she took it away. Jonah carefully removed the scrap of ruined cloth that was Alastor’s shirt and they inhaled sharply at the bruises and lacerations to his torso. Bambi took off her t-shirt and pushed it against a wound in his side that was bleeding steadily while Jonah went inside to get a First Aid kit.

“They comin’!” Alastor rasped at her, eyes wild, panicked, and a bit of Cajun slipping into his accent. “They followed me, chère!”

Bambi paused in her reply when she heard other doors slam before jumping off the porch towards the table in the yard where the firearms laid. She grabbed her .3030 and cocked it while taking the safety off. She’d just made it back to Alastor’s side when several men rounded the corner of the house, seemingly following the exhausted man’s blood trail.

Bambi kept her gun out of their sight for now, her hand resting on Alastor’s shoulders when she saw him tense. Ready to run, ready to fight, she wasn’t sure. She knew she recognized one of his pursuers, though.

“Well, well, well. You’ve been gone for a few days and now I know why, Daddy,” she snarled. “Back to old tricks again?”

“This is none of your concern, Bee. Hand him over!”

“No, don’t think I will. Y’all best be fixin’ to move along before I get mad.”

“Bambi, don’t -!” Alastor hissed when he tried to move, the pain finally starting to catch up to him. She just rubbed her thumb on his shoulder, hoping he’d forgive her for touching him this one time.

One of the men hopped the fence with a growl. “Listen here, ya bitch! I ain’t lettin’ no little girl tell me what to do!”

“Don’t move.” Bambi brought the rifle up and had the asshole’s head in her sights instantly. “The gun is hot and I’m not afraid to put a bullet in your carcass, Clarence.”

“Ya don’t have the balls ta shoot me, sugar tits!” he laughed, continuing his advance. “Ya ain’t shot ya Daddy for beatin’ ya, yet! Yer all bark ‘n no bite!”

Jonah came out of his home to a thunderous BANG! A .30 cal found its place in Clarence’s calf, shattering his shin into hundreds of pieces. Bambi reloaded the lever-action with practiced ease while the man wailed and screeched in the lawn. She kept her sights on the group as they screamed for their comrade.

“How’s that for bite, you limp dick jackass?” she said in a clear, calm voice. Her gun stayed eye height as she stepped off the porch and towards the group. “Y’all come get yer man and no further, ya hear?”

“You bitch! My Pa’ll see you in prison for this!” Clarence squealed as his lil posse picked him up.

“With the good Father on my side, I’m sure even the most crooked of Sheriffs will take my side, ya Daddy included. Now,” she fired the .3030 at their feet and had another in the chamber before you could blink. “Get the fuck on outta here ‘fore I put a bullet right ‘tween yer fuckin’ eyes!”

“You ain’t welcome at home, ya harlot! Ya hear me!?” Carl yelled. “You can stay with that nigger ya love so much!”

“Fine with me! Sick of takin’ care of your deadbeat ass anyway!” she roared back.

The men scrambled to get over the fence and with a clattering of gravel, they were gone. No one moved for what felt like hours before Bambi tapped the safety on and slumped to the ground, head between her knees. She levelled Alastor with a look when he made like he was going to get off the porch, then focused on steadying her shaking breaths.

She chuckled after a few minutes. “Nothin’ like pissin’ off your sperm donor and his Klan buddies, right Jonah?”

“You damn foolish girl, getcher lily white ass in the house this instant 'fore I tan it myself!”

Chapter Text

After patching up Alastor, who needed nothing more than a few butterfly stitches, they couldn’t sleep. The threat of the Klansmen coming back kept them awake and on high alert.

They couldn’t just bring Alastor to the hospital. Her father and the rest of his Klanmates were sure to be there with their injured member. It was safer to stay at Jonah’s until he was well enough to go home. They didn’t expect another attack, but they had slashed the tires of Alastor’s car when they arrived, so better safe than sorry. For added safety, Bambi slept the days away and patrolled the downstairs at night.

Jonah may have been able to sleep through that first night, if the chainsaw-like racket from his room was any indication, but Alastor could not.

On top of being sorer than after his Mother’s discipline, he’d hear a floorboard creak softly, nails tapping on metal or wood, a lighter ignite, every so often in the dark. It didn’t follow a pattern, so he couldn’t pin it down.

The Wolf in Lamb’s skin was protecting the Shepards in a macabre turn of events. It made him feel useless and weak.

“Maybe going downstairs will put me at ease…” he mused. “I do enjoy the Lamb’s company…”

He hadn't been able to relax like this since he moved back. Between fixing up his childhood home and getting the affairs of the Church settled, there just wasn't time. The failed seductions of the congregation set him on edge, as well. Just shaking hands with them made his skin crawl when he saw the Sin in their eyes!

But Bambi wasn’t like that, no.

He saw something when their eyes met, but it didn’t revolt him in the slightest. This little Lamb was a mystery to Alastor, a strange creature whose company he preferred to the rest of the Flock. He saw something of himself in her…

Once he looked past the vulgarity.

While he was used to the less than savory leering of men and women alike, she didn’t undress him with her eyes as the others do. She didn’t invade his personal space or touch him with less than pure intentions. Her questions rarely became invasive when they spoke and she backed down when he placed a boundary.

Yes, he’d caught the little Lamb openly staring at his physique, but it could be likened to an artist appreciating their work. Though, she did a love affair for his hands and arms, he’d noted.

While working together for the bake sale, Bambi had openly watched him work the dough and prepared ingredients in-between her own projects. More than once, she had commented on his classic style – how well it suited him. Not how much better it would look on her bedroom floor like that simpering Mimzie!

Sometimes, Alastor caught her watching his face – more specifically his mouth – while he spoke and he swore he could see that damnable Lust smoldering in those crystal blue eyes. But when their gazes met, it vanished!

Bambi added small massaging movements to her treatment making him groan and settle further in the chair.

He’d admitted only recently in confession that the alleged attraction was mutual.

The first day when she’d presented her tongue to him during mass, the two metal studs had thrown him for a loop! He’d never seen anything like it and the mild flirts he’d been doing to fluster her were child’s play in comparison.

Being clergy, no one asked if it was alright to touch him. They just grabbed at his hands, tugged on his robes, pulled him into their arms, cried on him! He started wearing the leather gloves just to give himself another layer of protection from the unwanted touches. So when she first asked if it was alright to touch him – just to pick some random lint off his stole – it floored him.

“I’ve noticed… It’s subtle, but you don’t like being touched. It’s okay. I hate it, too!”

Alastor had seen the Lamb knock a parishioner out for grabbing her arm before either Priest could intervene, so he had no doubt they were alike in that regard, but not even Father Jonah had noticed his little twitches, he was just polite enough to not paw at him.

He’d admired how she’d lose herself in the music during Mass, but when she’d shown up unannounced and began to sing while she waited for Jonah - it was like angels had appeared! Her voice caused shivers to race up and down his spine, especially the final note. Alastor recognized the song from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and found it fitting.

Bambi was a bit of a black sheep with her doing masculine things when most of the Flock was steadfast in their binary traditions. They gossiped about her spinster status and they got more entertaining as the days had passed; spread rumors that she was with a prostitute named Anthony, she was infertile so no man would marry her, etc. But his personal favorite was that she’s part of a sex cult that was hidden away deep in the swamps and that she was waiting for the perfect time to lure Jonah and himself into her vile clutches!

She’d laughed in his face when he’d brought up the rumors’ validity to her one day, working herself up into a few snorts and squeaks when she couldn’t get enough air into her lungs. Unbeknownst to her as she leaned on him for support, the sound had warmed his chest like no other had before and it was then that he realized he didn’t mind her touch.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Alastor hissed when he moved too fast and stretched the cut on his side. He paused a moment to catch his breath and began making his way downstairs.

Or he tried to.

Jonah’s home was a modest split level ranch, but the short staircase that led to the kitchen and living room had almost undone his friends’ stitching just getting up them earlier. Getting down them now seemed embarrassingly daunting with how his body ached, never mind his eyesight being a bit impaired by the dark.

Pausing on each step to remind himself just to breathe, he misjudged the distance on the last step and missed it entirely. He spit a curse as he lost his grip on the railing and prepared himself for the humiliation of waking up the whole damn house when he collided with a soft body instead.

His savior grunted as she set him to rights, lifting up the borrowed hoodie to check that nothing had reopened. She kept her touch feather light, only noticeable from where her cold fingertips brushed his warm skin and caused goosebumps to erupt in their wake. Satisfied that nothing was bleeding, she gently guided him to the kitchen table and sat him down.

“I thought Men of the Cloth were supposed to be smart, Al,” Bambi huffed as she got him a glass of water. “Walking through an unfamiliar house at night in your condition is anything but.”

The man chose to ignore her statement, an unseen flush settling on his face. His Pride was wounded enough today. Instead he focused on her and her lack of clothing.

“Why haven’t you put a shirt on?” he inquired, tapping the birthmark over her diaphragm. “Terribly distracting to be in this state of undress…”

“What?” She looked down to the black compressing garment and shrugged, cheeks darkening ever so slightly. “It’s like eighty percent humidity out and it’s a sports bra. Nothing exciting.”

She sat across from him and he took note of the small set of jewelry pliers and tools alongside her rifle that was laid on the table. He hadn’t gotten the chance during the fiasco earlier and he barely could now in the dark, but it was obviously a much beloved piece of artillery. Shadows showed where her fingers had carved out skulls of bucks and other animals in the stock, the glint of moonlight showing off the polish she’d managed to get on sometime before or after the altercation.

No scope, he muse as she leaned it on the table instead. It was odd to see a lever-action rifle in the hands of someone other than himself. He used the same Winchester .3030 his great-grandfather had ever since it was passed down to him in his teens and, while Bambi’s was an obviously much newer Mossberg model, his cheeks warmed at seeing her handle one with such care. Interesting…

The crickets and other nightlife were loud in their silence, but he could make out the sound of her working on some small metallic trinket in her hands. The soft tik-tik-tiks of her nails and making an almost rain-like sound trail through the first floor that settled him enough finally relax his shoulders, unclench his hands and jaw as he sipped the water.

The little Lamb nodded to herself after a few moments of tinkering and stood to circle to his side of the table. She tapped his chin with a nail until he looked up at her and flinched when she moved a hand to his face. Alastor’s breath caught in his chest when twin halos of silver gazed back at him from the dark. Her irises were blown out to the very rim to devour all available light, making the rings of blue almost glow in the night. After a moment of letting him relax, she placed some metal trinket over the bridge of his nose and behind his ear with a ghost of her cool touch.

“Couldn’t fix the other side, unfortunately, but I managed to make a monocle of sorts for the prescription lens with the broken frame,” she murmured, leaning over him to adjust it until the arm sat behind his ear just right and the nose guard hugged its place just so. “Should hold until we can get to the optometrist.”


“You still have blood in your hair… Lemme get it.” She smirked and gently started to comb his hair with her fingers. “Didn’t know there was an echo in here.”

“Just a lil something we have here in Louisiana. A lil parlor trick, don’t worry~” Alastor winked at her with his good eye, though the effect was a bit muted with his other almost swollen shut. “If you relax it will enable me to do… anything I please~

“Oh, Mimzy will lose her shit when I tell her you just used Doctor Facilier on me!” Bambi snorted softly in amusement, lightly smacking his unbruised cheek in jest. “She loves that Shadow Man.”

“Sweet Heaven, please don’t tell her!” he groaned, leaning back dramatically and bumping her chest with the back of his head. “I’ll never hear the end of it!”

They settled into a comfortable silence as her fingers raked through his hair. The repetitive motions rocked them into a small bubble of comfort that allowed them to just exist for a moment. It reminded Alastor of the days when his mother would do the same for him, made him soft.

As Bambi’s thumbs worked the knots out of his neck gently and his chin fell to his chest, Alastor hummed appreciatively. Her actions had no hidden motive besides to relax him after the altercation earlier that day. He considered her a good friend despite only speaking during faith related activities, but he certainly hoped she felt the same.

After all, she was the reason he’d even been around those scoundrels anyway. Now he had a choice to make.

“You shot a man today, ma chérie…” Her hands stopped when he broke the silence, hovering a moment before resting on his shoulders. He barely caught an indignant whine and ignored the urge to rub against her hands like a cat for more petting. “You threatened to kill them.”

“I did… and I should have.”

Alastor covered one of her tiny hands with his before lacing them together. “They’d put you away if you did.”

“Forgive me, Father…” She bent to speak in his ear, the quiet growl and nails digging into him slightly made his hair stand on end. “But I doubt the bodies would’ve been found… Or that I’d regret it…”

Interest peaked, he turned to look at her pensively and she met his gaze steadily with a tilt of her head. “You would’ve slept soundly knowing you’d kill a man?”

“Those aren’t men, Alastor. The cowards aren’t worthy of the space they take up,” she said, nose wrinkling as her lip curled. “Their ghosts wouldn’t keep me up at night when all of them can’t measure up to any other.”

“But they’re worth your Damnation?” he pressed with a growing smile.

How he adored these little debates of theirs.

“You know I don’t subscribe to organized religion, Al. Our Judgements can’t be black and white, there’s too much gray area for it to be,” she said. “Besides it’s not my Soul that I’m concerned with.”

Alastor moved to stand, breathing heavily through his nose when his bruised ribs complained. Bambi supported him at the elbow until he was steady and he loosened the grip he’d had on her hand. He looked at their joined hands fondly while moving them so they lined up from heel to fingertip. He curled his fingers over the top of hers so the pads touched her nails, his darker skin appearing like creeping shadows against her fairer complexion even with her hard earned tan.

“So, mon agneau, if your Soul isn’t the top priority, then who’s is?”

“It’s only a few, less than five,” she said with a playful smile. “How about this; if you guess them in three tries, you get a prize!”

“I do love a challenge! Let’s see then… Ah, yes,” he huffed in mild amusement. “There’s Father Jonah, of course!”

“That’s the easy one, but yes.”

“Hmm… One of the little ones at the Church, I’m sure –”

Bambi shook her head and popped the ‘p’ in “Nope!”

“Oh…” Alastor deflated a bit, tapping his knuckle on his chin in thought. “Miss Rosie, then?”

Her smirk showed teeth when she shook her head in the negative again.

“Mimzy – What do you mean ‘no’?!” He stifled his yell when Bambi once again denied it, making her bury her face in his chest to smother her own giggles so they didn’t wake Jonah. “Definitely not your father, if one could call him that… Who else is there?”

“Tony! He doesn’t go to the Church.”

Alastor pouted at her. “Having me guess the identity of someone I’ve never met? That’s cheating, ma chérie!”

“There’s still one more!”

“Another mystery man or woman I’ve never even heard of, I’m sure!” Alastor pouted.

“Ha! No~ You actually know them quite well!” Those eyes shined like sapphires in the moonlight as she put her chin on his chest and looked up at him, free arm wrapped loosely around his waist.

“Do I, now?” That got his attention. He drummed his fingers on her hip, noticing how she took a step closer. “Do I see them often?”

“You see them every day…” Bambi hummed when he rested his chin on her forehead. Breathing in his scent as his neck bumped her nose, she could still smell his aftershave under the sweat and blood. “…You smell good.”

“If you enjoy the smell of blood, I s’pose,” Alastor snorted and started to sway them unconsciously, entirely too comfortable in her arms. “I must admit I am stumped, ma chérie. I cannot think of one person that would be worth dying for – besides you.”

He certainly felt her tiny gasp against his throat and bit his lip a moment to remember himself. Though, he couldn’t stifle the whine he made when she pulled away to meet his eyes a moment later. She didn’t comment on it or his weak attempt to pull her back or the blush she could barely see in the moonlight.

“A little needy, are we?” she teased with a small grin, taking both his hands in hers. “Close your eyes and I’ll show you.”

Alastor gave her a skeptical look before closing his eyes with a huff, trying to not let hope get the better of him. He felt her release one hand before its feather light touch reappeared on his bruised cheek. Leaning into the cool touch, he nuzzled his mouth into her palm before leaving a soft kiss there. Her thumb brushed his lips before moving to the back of his neck. Her nose rubbed against his, his lips barely brushing her own, but she didn’t move past that yet. His shaking hand anchored himself at her hip again and her voice came as a whisper against his lips.

C’est toi, mon amour.

Soft, plush lips pressed against his in a chaste caress that caught his breath in his chest. He didn’t respond after a moment, so she began to pull away. Then he exhaled heavily and pulled her firmly against him with a hand on her neck before her lips were even a centimeter away. The small moan that escaped Bambi’s throat when he gently suckled on her top lip set his blood alight. She returned the favor by ghosting her teeth over his bottom lip, their eyes opening to gaze at each other before diving back in for another taste.

Alastor couldn’t get enough. He was going to devour her.

The hand on his neck tangled in his hair while the other gripped at his back as she pushed against him. They were flush from chest to thigh and it drove Alastor mad, but his bruised ribs reminded him that now was not the time nor the place.

Putain de merde,” he hissed against his Lamb’s lips at the painful twinge, hand releasing her and gripping the offending area.

“Shit, sorry!” Bambi panted lightly, taking a small step back. He tried to pull her back, but this ribs throbbed again. “Come on. Let’s get you back to bed.”

“No,” he said petulantly, easing himself back into his chair. “I want to stay down here with you.”

“Tsk, you’re impossible,” she mumbled, stepping between his legs when he tugged her to him.

“And yet, you’d kill for me.” Alastor wrapped an arm around her thighs, the other grazing one of her calves, and nuzzled the soft skin of her stomach, breathing her in. He sighed happily when she started playing with his hair again. Though it was muffled against her own body, Alastor asked, “You don’t have anywhere to go now do you, darling?”

“Nope. I figured I can ask Jonah in the morning, but I don’t want to intrude.” He said something against her stomach, making her giggle. “I didn’t quite catch that, Al.”

“I said, ‘I have a spare room’… You could stay with me, chère.” Alastor propped his chin on her stomach to look up at her, cheeks dusted with pink.

Bambi was quiet as she searched his face, thumbs moving to smooth the creases on his brow. The pads on her fingers worked around his face to ease any tension there before her fingertips worked on the back of his head again. His eyes remained on hers determinedly despite the heavy lids, but one thing was missing and it made her chuckle.

“Gods, honey, smile! You know, you’re never fully dressed without one~” She pinched his good cheek until his tired chuckle joined hers. “There’s my favorite smile! As long as you’re sure I’m not a bother, I’ll gladly move in.”

“That’s fantastic news! We’ll need to clean it out a bit, but a little hard work never hurt anyone!” The smile that erupted from his lips split the cut on them again, much to Bambi’s chagrin, but didn’t slow him down even as she dabbed it with a napkin. “We can work on your French, too, my dear! I’m beyond flattered, but your accent is atrocious!”

“I prefer Italian” she mumbled. “Anyway, we can’t do anything until I get my shit from Carl’s house, hon.”

Alastor waved a hand dismissively. “Nonsense! We’ll get you moved in tomorrow!”

Bambi sighed and shook her head with a fond smile. They were both stubborn people, but they respected each other’s boundaries. Shouldn’t be too hard to co-exist.

The following day, after leaving Jonah and Alastor at the latter’s home, Bambi called Tony for some help. Tony wasn’t a morning person, it often took brute force to get the gay man out of bed before noon, but once he heard what went down, he’d been at the curb with Cherri in tow as back up. Then they were off to Carl’s to collect her things.

Which he’d apparently tossed into the front yard the night before.

Cherri immediately set to folding the clothes and placing them in boxes they’d brought with them with Bambi. Meanwhile, Tony started threatening the older man in Italian when he noticed several expensive electronics and her compound bow were missing. Only the threat of getting his older brother involved made Carl budge and allow him inside to grab said items. Bambi herself didn’t cause a fuss. She just wanted to get this all done and over with as soon as possible.

That being said, she didn’t stop Cherri when the Aussie wedged long carpentry screws against the tires of Carl’s vehicles. She also didn’t stop Tony when he poured dried bonito flakes in the cracked windows and open vents of the cars, either.

They were done and back at Alastor’s home within the hour with only minor headaches.

“You’ve been holdin’ out on me, Toots!” Tony purred. He was sitting with the Cherri on the modest back porch while Bambi was adjusting her bow in the yard. “Ya said the pastor was good lookin’, not that he was a fuckin’ snacc!”

“He’s a whole ass meal, thank you!” she called over her shoulder at Tony, cursing when the arrow she loosed went too far left of the bullseye of her target. “He’s also touch averse, Angel.”

“Bullshit! He let you hang on him!” Tony, aka Angel, whined.

“She’s also not touching anything inappropriate, Angie,” Cherri snickered at her friend’s distress. She winced when Bambi’s next shot hit closer, but still wide. “Oof, so close, babe.”

“I am so damn tired of this fuckin’ thing, swear ta the Gods…” she seethed as she adjusted the sights for the umpteenth time. “Gonna shove a broadhead up Carl’s ass and twist next time I see him.”

“Ooh, ooh!” Angel bounced in his seat a bit, eyes glittering like a Disney Princess’. “Dip it in Icy Hot! Make it burn all the way in!”

The three of them guffawed at the image, tears coming to their eyes and bending at the waist in their mirth. Alastor shook his head at their antics in the kitchen as he made dinner for them all, smile on his face. It was no wonder why his beloved’s humor was so dark with these two around!

The pastor had seen some books of the Wiccan and Pagan variety in her collection as he helped her unpack them earlier. He'd also seen more than a few crystals, herb bundles, and a ridiculous amount of incense.

Alastor side-eyed the Chesire grin on his own shadow as it wiggled against the wall as he hummed to himself, "Maybe she wouldn't mind my Friends on the Other Side."