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i know it's mad, but if i go to hell, will you come with me, or just leave?

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- RYAN & DALLON -

"Do you miss her?"

"More and more everyday."

Dallon was sitting upright on the bed with Ryan's head in his lap, stroking his hair, comforting him.

It had been a couple weeks since the funeral, but the pain was still there, stinging at Ryan's heart every time he thought about it.

The day he received the call from his cousin had begun as a normal one: waking up next to Dallon, making breakfast together, spending the entire day talking and cuddling.

Since leaving the band, that's how most of Ryan's days had been going, full of love and light. Dallon told him countless stories of adventures he had collected over the years, ones of women catching their husbands cheating while he hid, or the things nuns called him when he was caught in children's closets at the orphanage.

Ryan could listen to Dallon speak for days, smooth voice describing the stories with such detail that Ryan felt he was there, sitting next to Dallon in the darkness. Whenever there was a lull in the stories, Dallon would sing to him, songs about love and mystery and even sometimes murder. The songs acted as stories too, painting pictures of beautifully somber tales, how even something as bright as love could have a dark side.

Whenever Ryan was with Dallon, he didn't know that dark side. He didn't know any darkness except for Dallon's tendrils, always intertwined with his hand, soft and silky and comforting.

Ryan had been sitting on his couch, scrolling through his news feed while Dallon read a book, legs tangled together. His phone buzzed and his cousin's caller I.D. flashed, a crackled distortion of her voice coming from the phone.

"Ryan? Your mom is in the hospital. She had a heart attack at Aunt Linda's last night and I'm only hearing about it now."

Ryan's body went cold at the words, jumping off the couch and packing a bag, ignoring Dallon's confused stare.

Dallon had been too immersed in his book to hear what the woman on the other end of the line said, but he didn't like the worried look on his love's face, Ryan already gnawing at his lip as he slipped on his boots.

"What's wrong?" Dallon asked, pushing his bookmark into the spine of the book and leaving it on the couch.

"My- my mom's in the hospital. I have to go and I don't know when I'll be back." Dallon hated how Ryan's voice cracked, worries flashing through his mind. Since officially living together, Dallon had successfully kept Ryan happy and content, and the sudden change in emotion was burning a hole in Dallon's heart.

He watched as Ryan slung his backpack over his shoulder and disappeared into the hallway, leaving the demon alone in the apartment.

While he wanted to go with Ryan to the hospital and keep him company, Dallon was glad he couldn't. He had hated hospitals since the beginning of time, places that reeked of sickness and death, a terrible type of energy coming out of them.

The thought of being strapped to a bed, needles poking into his skin, injecting him with chemicals? It was too much for Dallon, feeding into his fear of being captured and experimented on.

Ryan's hands were sweating on the steering wheel as he drove to the hospital, unable to shake the feeling that something horrible was going to happen. His mom was getting older, and he regretted not having visited her sooner, blaming himself for whatever had happened to her.

Thankfully the hospital parking lot was pretty empty, sun beginning to duck below the horizon as Ryan slammed his car door shut and briskly walked to the entrance.

His father had died when he was young, so Ryan didn't remember much of him. His mother was his lighthouse in the storm, raising him all by herself while working full time, signing him up for drumming lessons and taking young Ryan to concerts.

They had grown apart when Ryan first joined Ronnie, cutting off all contact with everyone who wasn't considered 'cool'. After his realization, Ryan had worked hard to make amends with everyone from his past life, and his mother was more than delighted to share her opinions on Ronnie.

"I'm here to visit Gayle Seaman?" Ryan asked the woman at the front desk, picking at his blisters until they were raw and open.

The woman clicked away at her keyboard before looking up to Ryan. "Room 206. Take the elevator to the second floor and she should be just down the hall."

Hospitals made Ryan nervous, a place where only bad news was shared, at least in his mind. The hospital had been where he dad died, where little Ryan shared his last moments with his father. High blood pressure ran in the family, and Ryan remembered his mom explaining to him what a stroke was, and how when people died they went to heaven and watched over them.

Ryan had always liked how she explained it.

His heart dropped when he walked into his mom's room, monitors beeping away, orange light casting shadows on every piece of medical equipment.

She looked so... frail. Little Ryan had always thought his mom was a superhero, working in a big fancy building for a rich company where she answered phones and always had chocolates on her desk. Every when Ryan had been an edgy mall rat, he knew that every night she would tiptoe into his room and pull the covers over his shoulders, smoothing out his hair.

There were cards from his other relatives stacked on the small table next to her, notes scribbled onto bright cardboard, one of his other cousin's paintings on the front of one. While everyone in the family had adored his mom, Ryan was the black sheep among them. He had a feeling they still saw him as that rebellious teenager who never showed up to reunions, the evidence being that none of them ever talked to him except his cousins. Ryan was surprised he hadn't gotten the call earlier, but it wasn't totally out of left field for them to withhold information from him.

"Mom..." Ryan walked over to her side and rested a hand on her arm, heart breaking at how small she looked.

At the sound of his voice, her eyes slowly opened, mouth turning into a fragile smile when she saw him. "Ryan... it's so good to see you."

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I just went to one of your concerts." She gave him a weak laugh, hand shaking as she gripped onto Ryan's.

It had been a running joke between them that his mom felt most alive when she attended concerts with him, but her voice was dripping with sarcasm, pricking at Ryan's heart.

"Are you going to be able to recover? How bad is it?" Ryan kneeled down next to the bed, holding his mom's trembling hand, brows furrowed it concern.

"It... it's not looking very good, Ryan."

It pained him to see his superhero mom so tiny, eyes glassy and tired, hand so thin he could feel the bones jutting out.

Ryan glanced up to the door to see a doctor standing there, a kind smile on her face. It wasn't the type of smile that comforted people though- it was a bad news smile, one Ryan had seen plenty of. His mother had given him the same smile when his dog died in 5th grade.

"Are you Ms. Seaman's son?" She asked, black hair tied back tightly into a bun, like a ballerina's.

"Y-Yes." Ryan stuttered, stomach beginning to ache at the doctor's look. Her mouth might be smiling, but her eyes held sadness and regret, something that terrified Ryan.

"Could I please speak to you in the hall?"

He followed the doctor into the hall solemnly, giving his mom a little wave before she was out of sight.

"Is she going to be okay? What's going on?" Ryan said, wringing his hands, blisters dug so deep they were beginning to bleed.

"I'm so sorry to inform you Mr. Seaman, but your mother has suffered irreparable organ damage."  The doctor said soberly, eyes apologetic behind her glasses. "If we take her off of support, she'll pass away within a matter of minutes."

Ryan froze up, unable to respond to something like that. His mom was going to die?

His gut writhed, insides hollowed by grief. Everything else the in world was lost to the blood rushing through his ears, the doctor's words echoing through his mind until it was all he could hear.

"-Mr. Seaman? Would you like to gather any other family before we take her off of support?"

Ryan could only shake his head, legs trembling beneath him as he went in to say goodbye to his mother.

His mother who had taken care of him his entire life.

His mother who loved him unconditionally, even when he was part of Ronnie's gang, even when he refused to eat dinner with her, even when he would lie about his whereabouts.

After her death, Ryan would be an orphan. A word had never been scarier than that one- a person without parents, and it wasn't like the rest of his family was going to keep in touch with him.

"M-Mom..." Speaking was next to impossible, thanks to the lump in his throat, tears burning at his eyes. "Mom, I love you so much... I-I don't want you to go..."

His mother gave him a weak smile, patting his shoulder. She must know what was going to happen. "It's okay Ryan... everyone dies eventually, and n-now is my time."

He hadn't noticed the doctor on the other side of the bed, working on the machines, taking the needles out of her arm.

Ryan knelt down next to the bed and grasped her brittle hand, everything blurred by the tears streaming down his face. "Th-Thank you for everything... I love you so- so much..."

He hiccuped as his mom's breaths grew slower and slower, staring at him with wet eyes. "Ryan... I'll always be watching over you from heaven... just remember to brush your teeth after a concert..."

Ryan gave her a tearful laugh, one that sounded more like a sob than anything, knees quivering beneath him. "Mom... mom, I love you..."

He sounded like the scared little kid he had been, crying for his mother when he scraped his leg trying to skateboard, or whenever he found a spider in his bedroom.

Rain started to fall from the dark clouds in his brain, crying freely as his mom closed her eyes, a doctor and a nurse standing idly around the room. "Mom... I-I'll be taken care of... Please, please."

Ryan didn't know what he was begging for. More time with his mother? For a chance to start over, to cherish every single moment he spent with her? For the angels to guide her to heaven?

He didn't know how long he stayed in that room, kneeling next to his deceased mother, body shaking as he cried and cried and cried until no tears were left. He couldn't feel the doctor's hand on his shoulder, couldn't hear the words spoken to him, couldn't feel anything but the bitter taste in his throat, the pained sobs that came from the depths of his chest.

It was dark outside as he drove home, numb to everything around him. His vision had tunneled, head so deep in a storm of thoughts, so unbelievably lonely.

Dallon had been waiting anxiously at home for Ryan, heart breaking when he saw his love stagger in through the door, eyes red and swollen.

"Baby, what happened?" He said, catching Ryan's limp body in his outstretched arms.

Ryan began to sob again, body shaking in Dallon's embrace, making the demon pull him even closer. "Dal- Dallon, she d-died-"

"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry," Dallon guided him over to the couch and rocked him, holding his head close to his chest.

They sat there until Ryan's cries turned into soft gasps for air, face buried in the safety of Dallon neck, a gaping hole in his heart.

She was gone.

The demon didn't know what it felt like to lose a parent, but he understood well enough that it meant a lot to Ryan.

His aunt was put in charge of the funeral, one of the worst days of Ryan's life.

The sky was overcast, threatening to rain, just like Ryan's mind. Ryan didn't think he'd be able to drive after, so he called an Uber, gripping tightly onto Dallon's arm the entire car ride there.

Dallon had been there for him the entire time. He was there at the funeral, wearing a thick pair of sunglasses, tendrils tucked into his skin underneath his suit.

He stood next to Ryan as they stared at the casket, a new wave of tears welling up in his dark eyes. Ryan only choked on a sob when Dallon squeezed his hand, ignoring the stone cold stares from the rest of his relatives.

Speeches about her were short, but powerful. Ryan had no idea how many lives she had touched, biting down on his lip to fight the whimper that bubbled up, holding his boyfriend's hand tightly.

Dallon held Ryan close as he wept on the way home, Uber driver giving the two of them confused stares when Dallon's sunglasses got knocked sideways.

And now, weeks later, they were laying on the bed together. Dallon kept leaning down to press kisses to Ryan's head, staring at each other with a dim type of love.

"She looks over you every day, mon chéri," Dallon cooed. "Heaven is a beautiful place, my love."

Ryan sighed, core burning as he sat up and kissed Dallon. "You're the only reason I'm here Dal... I don't know if I'd still be alive if you weren't here."

Those words made Dallon's heart crack, rubbing Ryan's back. "Oh baby, I love you so much."

"I love you." Ryan mumbled into Dallon's neck, saying the words with his entire soul.

There was no one else in his life except for Dallon. The demon was the only reason he still got up in the morning, just to see the sharp-toothed grin that spread on his face, to feel the love that Dallon gave him so much of everyday.

After the funeral Ryan had fallen into a grim space, refusing to get out of bed for the first couple days. Dallon brought him food and held him tightly, rocking them together when the dismal thoughts would overtake Ryan's mind, kissing his love until he couldn't tell the difference between Ryan's mouth and his own. And at night, when the room was dark to the human eye, Ryan's thoughts would catch up with him, making him cry all over again. Dallon would wake up to the soft sniffling sound of his love weeping into his pillow and pull him to his chest, letting Ryan cry into his neck.

"Let it out darling, I've got you." He'd whisper, tendrils wrapped around Ryan's body in comfort, keeping the two of them close and warm.

The little cries were the worst, the ones that Ryan was obviously trying to hide. They made his entire body shake, high pitched whines breaking Dallon's heart, clear tears dampening each other's skin.

Today, things were better. Ryan had gone for a run that morning, and now after a big lunch he was sprawling himself over Dallon, reminiscing about his late mother.

There hadn't been a shortage of thoughts about God's letter in Dallon's mind, constantly searching for the right moment to tell Ryan about the offer.

After all, an offer to rule hell together wasn't something that could be asked lightly.

Everyday Dallon would stare at Ryan for a few moments, heart melting at how lucky he was to date the love of his life. He couldn't help but love everything little thing about Ryan, from the way he scrunched his nose adorable when he slept, to the way he gasped every time Dallon would surprise him with a kiss or squeeze his ass.

Before his mother's death, Dallon spent most nights with his tongue in Ryan's mouth and his tendril in his ass, bodies plastered together. The demon hadn't worked up the courage to undress in front of Ryan, so he kept on his pants and unbuttoned his shirt, savoring the feeling of Ryan's cold hands on his chest. It bothered him day and night that he couldn't show all of himself to Ryan, but his self confidence only went so far.

All Dallon wanted to do was give Ryan a life of wealth and luxury, to spoil his baby rotten every single day for the rest of time. And God's offer could allow him to do that, if hell was really what he said it was.

Dallon had only heard hell mentioned a few times in heaven, mostly in bad mouth. Then there was all the times he'd heard about it on earth, mostly from humans who assumed he had crawled up from the underworld to torment them.

Now that Ryan was healing, Dallon couldn't think of a better time to tell him about the letter. Ryan was nuzzling his neck, placing little kisses to the demon's pale skin, arms wrapped around him.

Ryan was happy. This was the right time to tell him.

"Sweetheart," Dallon pressed a kiss to his neon hair, coiling a tendril around Ryan's open hand. "My love... I have something to tell you."

Ryan stopped kissing his neck, staring up at Dallon with his beautifully dark eyes. "What's wrong Dal?"

"Do you remember when you were sick?"

"Yeah... what about it?" Ryan cocked his head to the side, blue hair falling into his eyes. Dallon pushed it away out of habit, smiling softly.

"I know this may come as a lot, but I got a letter from the man upstairs-"

"God?"

"Yes, God... he offered me and you a position as... uh... kings of hell," Dallon felt sheepish laying this all on a human, especially when Ryan's eyes widened in surprise.

"Wha... What does that mean?"

"Well my love, we would be royalty," Dallon explained. "We would have servants at our beck and call, and we could spend every single day with each other for the rest of eternity."

Ryan was thoughtful for a moment, gears and cogs turning in his brain, taking in Dallon's words. After learning that Dallon used to be an angel and hearing so many stories of his days in heaven, he had no doubt that hell existed, but did he really want to live there?

Even before his rebellious teenage phase Ryan hadn't been very religious, part of the reason his family didn't talk to him very much. Sure, he believed in God and heaven and angels, but he didn't go out of his way to go to church, and he definitely didn't adhere to the rules of the bible.

But Ryan wasn't someone who thrived off of other's misery. He took pride in his empathy, even if it was his undoing sometimes.

However, he trusted Dallon with his life at this point. Living with the demon had become oxygen for Ryan, something he needed to keep him going. The only person he was stuck on earth for was Dallon, and if it really was what Dallon said it was, Ryan was incredibly enticed with the idea of living forever with the demon.

"...Do you want to do it?" He finally said, stars twinkling in the dark sky of his eyes.

"Only if you do, mon petit ange," Dallon smiled that genuine smile of his, and Ryan knew that he wanted it. Wanted to spend every last day waking up next to him, to feel the warmth of his body every breathing second, to hold hands with him when the going got rough. He wanted to taste the sweetness on the demon's tongue, to hear his wonderfully bright chuckle, to feel the velvety tendril curled around his hand eternally.

"I want to. I want to live with you forever."

Dallon's heart stuttered at the certainty in Ryan's voice, overwhelmed with sudden emotion.

"Oh mon dieu, mon chéri, mon belle fleur," Dallon's french always jumped out when he was flustered, searching for the right words in English. Ever since reading that inscription on the music box, which now proudly sat in their bedroom windowsill, Dallon's french had been coming back to him, speaking more and more of it everyday.

"I want that too my love. I want us to be together in eternal happiness- I want to spoil you every single day with everything your beautiful heart desires." Dallon gushed, catching Ryan in a deep kiss, happiness making both of their bodies tremble.

Now all Dallon had to do was kill Ryan and carry him down to hell. He hoped it sounded a lot worse than it was actually going to be.




 

After some consultation with 'the man upstairs' as Dallon had referred to him as, the plan was set out in 3 easy steps.

1. Dallon would snap Ryan's neck, a quick and painless death that would guarantee an easy arrival to the afterlife.

2. Dallon would be granted the powers he had as an angel and carry Ryan down to hell.

3. Him and Ryan live happily ever after in the underworld.

They had gone over it so many times it was imprinted into both their brains, sharing an odd type of excitement. Ryan never thought he'd ever be anticipating death, but here they were, fantasizing about everything fantastic they could do once they were free from humanity.

Being a demon didn't allow Dallon to go in public very often, especially because of his social anxiety based on all the other times he had been in public. Those minutes and sometimes hours when Ryan would leave for groceries would be grueling, leaving Dallon to obsessively worry about his baby's health, if someone was being mean to him or hurting him.

He had been uncomfortable the entire funeral with his tendrils tucked away under his skin, but it was one of the rare occasions where Dallon needed to go with his love, social anxiety or not. That entire funeral he wanted to hiss at the family members who stared at him and his Ryan, sharing whispers that Dallon could only pick up a few bits of.

'Sugar daddy' and 'homosexual' and 'disgrace' were only a few of them, sharp words that Dallon was glad Ryan hadn't heard. It was already a difficult enough day for his love, one that begun with Dallon holding his hand and ended in the same way, tiny cries filling their room that morning and night alike.

Seeing his radiant flower so sad only made Dallon angrier at their remarks, trying his very hardest to keep his tendrils still in his back, bones and skin aching. He still hadn't let Ryan see him cry, hiding away that messy part of him so he could be strong and support Ryan.

But in hell, as royalty, two rulers of a sinful paradise? Ryan could be seen with Dallon wherever he pleased, a desire for both of them.

Finally, the day arrived, Ryan's last day on earth. He spent most of the day making sure his rent was paid for the next few months, writing an intricate suicide note and organizing his belongings.

Dallon had informed him of the rules of death, the biggest one being that humans were allowed to carry one item with them to the afterlife. Usually it was randomly selected after death, but Ryan was blessed with the rare opportunity to chose while still breathing earthly air, making a very easy decision.

The music box. The item that symbolized the love that they shared, greater than any force in the universe. Ryan could especially feel it in the quiet moments, like when he'd be laying on Dallon's chest, playing around with his fingers, admiring how slender and well kept they were.

Ryan would wrap his digits around Dallon's ring finger and imagine a wedding band, a matching one on his own. Ten minutes would pass before Ryan realized what he had been thinking, holding Dallon's hands close to his chest and letting the demon rub him in comfort.

He liked to think that accepting the offer was somewhat of a marriage, a commitment and bond for life. Everyday was filled with preparations, doing paperwork for taxes so his death wouldn't be a hassle for the rest of his family, or watering the last of his houseplants, wishing them good luck on their own.

But now, late at night, sky dark and overcast outside, it was time to do it.

"Dallon, I'm scared." Ryan whimpered, hugging the demon close, legs weak beneath him.

As much as he was excited for it, Ryan had been dreading the whole dying aspect of it, the mark of the end of his humanly life. Would it hurt? What if it went wrong and Ryan was just dead, no life after death?

Dallon did his best to reassure him, filling his mind with paintings of the two of them living like kings.

"You know I'd never let anything bad happen to you, mon ange. I wouldn't be doing this unless I felt one-hundred-percent sure, would I?"

Ryan shook his head, sitting down in his kitchen chair, stomach knotting itself into pretzels. He had begun to pick at his new blisters, etched onto his skin from practicing drums so much these past few days. Dallon assured him that there would be drumsets in hell, but Ryan wasn't going to take his chances.

"Are you sure you're ready, my love?" Dallon's voice was soft, entwining a tendril with Ryan's fingers, his other hand on the music box on his lap.

Ryan nodded, gripping tightly to Dallon's tendril, staring into the empty abyss of his eyes.

God, he loved those eyes so much, two perfect white pearls that shone in the moonlight.

He gave Dallon one last kiss before the demon put his hands on both sides of Ryan's head, making his entire body tense up.

This was it. Ryan took one last look at his apartment before squeezing Dallon's tendril, shutting his eyes tightly.

Dallon's hands moved quickly, a crack reverberating through his head, a quick flash of pain before nothing.

The demon had only been granted the power a couple hours ago, receiving a pamphlet on how to use it, practicing so many times in his head he could do it in his sleep.

Angels had the ability to bring humans between dimensions easily, but it wasn't something Dallon had ever done before, nervous for Ryan.

He had to do this correctly.

It hurt Dallon to see Ryan's limp body flopped over in the chair, tears stinging at his eyes at the sight of his love dead.

Get a grip. You need to do this.

Ryan didn't know how long it was until he gained a bit of consciousness, mind and body floating through a thick sludge of darkness, liquid filling his lungs.

"Dal- I can't breath, I can't breath!" He cried, unsure if Dallon could hear him. He didn't know if anyone could hear him, alone in a universe of inky blackness, choking and gasping for air.

"I'm right here sweetheart, I've got you safe. Don't worry about breathing, just let it take you." Dallon's voice sounded light years away, echoing through the emptiness of the void. "Can you feel me?"

Ryan strained to get in touch with his body, a faint warmth coming from his wrist, a familiar soft texture rubbing against his arm. "Y-Yeah, I think so."

It was so unbelievably cold, swimming through the arctic waters of nothingness, black spanning for as far as Ryan could see.

He had given up on trying to breathe and took Dallon's advice, letting the sludge fill his lungs, somehow leaving him still somewhat alive. It was almost comforting being full, the rest of his body hollowed out by embracing the nothingness, letting the waves of iciness wash over him.

"We're almost there sweetheart, you're doing so well." Dallon sounded a bit closer, his words relieving the otherwise deafening silence, a horrible pressure that only grew worse and worse with every passing second. "Can you still hear me baby?"

A sudden wave of tiredness overcame Ryan, body yearning to fall asleep and never have to wake up. "Mhmm... I'm sleepy Dal."

The darkness was so welcoming, holding out its arms, tempting him to give in and let it take him into slumber. It would be so easy to just close his eyes and let the void pull him away, drifting for an eternity, mind detached from his barely physical body.

"Nononono, don't go to sleep Ryan-" Dallon sounded panicked, making Ryan fight against the claws of the darkness, pushing away its open embrace. "Good boy, keep yourself awake. We're so close darling, you're doing amazing."

Ryan felt a smile tug at his almost numb mouth, interrupted by a sharp pain in his head, making him cry out. Dallon seemed to have cried out too, two short screams harmonizing into one melody of pain, ricocheting off the none-existent walls.

"Dal- it hurt-" Ryan felt like something was now attached to his skull, worsening the pressure in his brain, floating seemingly aimlessly through the pitch-black nighttime.

"I know sweet thing, I felt it too. You might want to close your eyes right now, okay?"

Ryan did as he was asked, squeezing his eyes shut, preparing for the worst.

All of a sudden he was pulled out of the sludge, coughing and gasping for air, mind and lungs cleared of their muddiness.

"Good job sweetheart, you were perfect." Dallon sounded like he was right there, before Ryan realized he was.

Dallon was here. He was safe.

It took his eyes a few moments to adjust, blinking and taking in his surroundings, pins and needles sweeping his body as all feeling returned.

Dallon was holding him bridal style in his arms, sitting in a field full of vivid flowers, a gigantic building half visible in the distance.

Ryan twisted around to look at Dallon, shocked by an addition to his appearance.

Two black horns spiked out of his head, curling towards the sky, shimmering with iridescence in the bright sunlight.

"What are you staring at?" Dallon gave him a goofy grin, eyes trailing up Ryan to gawk at his hair, making Ryan's hand shoot to his head.

He had them too. They felt like bone under his touch, smooth, his head moving with them as he yanked at the two spikes.

They were attached to him- part of him.

"W-What are these?" Ryan stuttered, feeling Dallon's too, his soft brown tuffs of hair getting caught between his fingers.

"I suspected this would happen. They're horns, a symbol of royalty instead of a crown." Dallon was looking at him with that adoring smile and every worry Ryan had melted away.

He made it. He was in hell, from the looks of it, laying in the lap of his boyfriend.

"We did it." Ryan said softly, a wide smile on his face. "We made it."

"Yes we did, my sweet little king." Dallon caught Ryan in a chaste kiss, peppering him with little butterfly kisses, making Ryan giggle. "And look, we're matching now."

It made Ryan beam like an idiot, grabbing the music box from where it had landed next to them, undamaged. He wrapped his arms around Dallon's neck as the demon stood up, holding Ryan firmly in his arms, eyes on the building in the distance.

Taking Ryan between dimensions had been a real piece of work, but Dallon still had the energy in him to carry his love, unable to keep his eyes off the glimmering horns that cut through the blue sea of Ryan's hair.

They were beautiful, just like the rest of his love. Dallon was overjoyed he hadn't lost Ryan to the jaws of death, something the pamphlet warned him of, coming in the form of an overwhelming urge to sleep.

Dallon would never have to worry about losing Ryan again.

The two of them trod through the thick grass, Ryan asking questions and Dallon answering.

"What's gonna happen when we get there?" Ryan said, holding onto Dallon's thin arm as he carried him, climbing through every type of flower imaginable.

Ryan didn't think that hell would be this beautiful, light clouds blanketing the bright blue sky, a blazing sun washing away all his coldness. A warm breeze made the flowers sway in the wind as he watched them with fascination, little bees hopping from petal to petal, a rainbow of plants spread for miles and miles.

"I'm not sure, my love. God said that before he froze everything here he told them that time would start again once a new leader was found."

Ryan nodded, laying limp in Dallon's arms. He didn't think he would be able to walk properly right now- dying had taken away all his energy, and his muscles felt weak in this new air, limbs not responding to his brain.

When the building came into better view, Ryan was surprised by what he was looking at.

It was made of crumbling red brick, a blocky attempt at a palace, dead vines crawling up the side. It was a contrast to the liveliness of the field they landed in, everything faded and boring. The windows were dark and stained with the remnants of acidic rain, bugs and spiders scurrying up the cracked walls.

"Ugh, we're gonna have to do some remodeling," Dallon said, unimpressed by the unkemptness of the manor.

Ryan laughed at his tone, stomach fluttering with butterflies of nervousness, buzzing in a weird type of excitement.

Dallon's dress shoes quietly slapped against the stone path that had emerged from the grass, approaching two dark oak doors with a heavy knocker on them.

Ryan held his breath in anticipation, holding onto Dallon's shirt tightly as the demon grabbed the golden knob and knocked. He had no idea what was coming, something unusual for Ryan. In life, he had always knew what was going to come next.

The door swung open with a loud creak to reveal a women in her mid 30s, blond hair frizzy and unkempt like she hadn't brushed it in days. She yawned and covered her mouth with her sleeve, rubbing her eyes before they widened in shock at the sight of Ryan and Dallon.

"Your majesties!" She fell to her knees, pink pajama pants folding under her legs. "P-Please forgive my untidiness."

Ryan was just as surprised at her reaction as she was at them, staring down at the yellow-haired woman who was cowering under Dallon's strong gaze.

"What's your name?" Dallon said firmly.

"Melanie Fletcher, number 006831, position as a housemaid, s-sirs." She added the last word quickly, avoiding Dallon's eye contact. Ryan only clutched the music box to his chest and watched as she pulled her straw hair back into a ponytail, tying it up.

"Stand up Melanie," Dallon demanded, voice sending shivers down Ryan's spine. "Please go inform whoever is the head of our arrival."

Melanie nodded and scurried away, giving Ryan time to bask in the hollowness of the room.

They had entered a gigantic indoor courtyard, deserted of all life, benches and tables covered in a thick layer of dust.

Thin floor to ceiling windows allowed beams of sunlight to stream through, painting little patches of light on the dusty furniture, highlighting every single dust particle that had settled on them.

The higher Ryan looked, the more dizzy he got, blank ceiling barely visible because of how far away it was. He couldn't count how many floors lined the walls, watching Melanie run down the long interior balconies, hand skimming the wiry railings.

"What was that about?" Ryan mumbled, head tilting back as Melanie disappeared into a room on what had to be the 11th floor, the slam of the door echoing through the hollow room.

"We're going to have to introduce ourselves eventually, mon chéri." Dallon planted a kiss to his forehead, making Ryan blush furiously.

"I know, but what was that number thing? And how did she know we were the new kings? And what's gonna happen after this?" Ryan was spewing the questions as they popped up in his mind.

Dallon walked over to one of the untouched couches and sat Ryan on his lap, cradling his back with a tendril.

"I'd imagine that the number was some sort of identification system, she saw our horns and recognized the symbol, and we'll probably have a look around and make some changes. Does that answer your questions, sweetheart?"

Ryan nodded, happy at the way Dallon said their horns. They matched now. They were theirs.

Dallon couldn't resist kissing his love again, enchanted by how gorgeous he looked in the slates of sunlight.

He still couldn't believe it. They were in hell, together. Dallon would have never guessed in a million years that this was how his life would turn out.

Ryan ran his hands through Dallon's thick hair as they kissed, regaining some feeling in his arms and legs, lazily swiping his tongue at Dallon's mouth.

They were too mesmerized by each other to notice Melanie return with another maid, donning the same loose apparel as she was. "Excuse us?"

At the sound of her voice Ryan spun around, face burning red. He would let Dallon do the talking for now.

"Please introduce yourself." Dallon said, entwining a tendril between Ryan's fingers and letting him rest his head on his chest. He wasn't going to be ashamed of kissing his love- it was something he planned to do everyday for the rest of time.

"Aliyah Singh, number 001149, position as a head maid. I'd assume you two are the new... kings?" She crooked an eyebrow at Ryan who only turned redder, sitting up straight and composing himself.

"Correct. Would you mind showing us around and explaining how things work?" Dallon said.

"Of course, your majesty. After that I will notify everyone and we can start on any changes you want. Please, follow me." Aliyah said crisply, turning around to walk towards the staircase Ryan hadn't noticed off to the side. Melanie seemed to have disappeared, light hair nowhere to be seen.

Being called 'your majesty' was going to take Ryan some getting used to, but Dallon already loved it, loved the power he held. It made his insides quiver at how Aliyah hadn't given his eyes or tendrils a second glance, unlike how humans on earth did.

The demon placed Ryan on the ground and held his arm out for Ryan to hold onto, legs wobbling beneath him. It was like learning how to walk again for the first time, taking small steps before he eased into a pattern.

Aliyah lead them up the spiraling stairs, stopping at every floor to explain the system.

"So, there's a hierarchy in hell. The worst people are at the very bottom of the world, confined in solidarity forever. These are the sinners who cannot redeem themselves for their actions on earth." Aliyah stopped in the middle of the hall to nod to a butler, who only stared at Ryan and Dallon in awe.

"Then there's the general population. They live in compact villages all around the world, working off their sins by doing community work. Once they've worked off every sin, they're reborn into the world. Think of it as a filtration system, so that as the world progresses, people become better."

They were walking on a deep red carpet, passing by closed doors with different numbers and words on them.

'Floor 4 common room' and 'Floor 4 dining quarters' and 'Floor 4 laundry room' was written in thin gold letters, floor numbers matching every floor they reached.

"And finally, the servants. Those with the purest souls that still hold weight are selected to be maids and butlers to your highnesses. Five years after working off their sins they can either continue working under you or be reborn." Aliyah's long black hair trailed behind her as they climbed yet another flight of stairs, making Ryan's legs ache.

Dallon had an arm wrapped around Ryan's shoulder, guiding him up the stairs as he saw his love's legs start to tremble.

The demon's mind was already flourishing with ideas of renovations he would do, turning the empty mansion into a Victorian palace, something gothic and elegant. And his Ryan would fit right in with his new horns and beautiful smile.

It would be their paradise.

"This entire floor is yours," Aliyah huffed as she climbed the last step, holding her hands out as to say 'here you are'.

Ryan leaned over the railing to look down at the courtyard floor, so far down from them, making his stomach twist. Dallon stood next to him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

"How are you feeling baby?" Dallon whispered, staring at his love with fuzzy adoration.

"Mm... I'm excited..." Ryan whispered back, blushing when Dallon ran his knuckle over his cheek, fingers cold against Ryan's warm skin.

Aliyah showed them the empty bedroom, the empty dining room and the many empty rooms that lined the hall.

And on an outstretched part of the indoor balcony was a throne, stripped of everything, overlooking the courtyard.

Ryan had been disappointed in how abandoned the building had been, like it hadn't been touched in years. But then Ryan remembered it probably hadn't been touched in years, missing it's ruler.

"-and you have a personal tailor, a personal chef and a personal- oh, please excuse me one minute." Something beeped on Aliyah's wrist as she stepped away from them, tapping at what looked like a smart watch.

"What do you think sweetheart? Do you like it?" Dallon pulled Ryan close to him and pressed their foreheads together, staring into Ryan's dark eyes. Violent rain had begun to slap against the windows, a tranquil sound that Dallon and Ryan loved alike.

"Of course Dal, it's ours." Ryan couldn't help but smile, staring up at his boyfriend who loomed over him, a matching grin on Dallon's face. God, he loved Dallon so much.

It was their paradise.

- BRENDON -

The cop was coming.

Brendon knew that one was chasing him, feet slapping against the sidewalk as he ran as fast as he could.

His arms were full of whatever food he grabbed before he escaped the store, alarms going off behind him. But he couldn't look back. Every time he looked back he was caught.

Sarah was at their cramped apartment, waiting for him to bring home dinner. Brendon didn't know how she managed to make a meal out of the stuff he stole in a hurry, whether it be a bundle of bananas and soda, or pancake mix and chicken breast. It reminded Brendon of the cooking shows he used to watch at his Aunt's house, when the ingredients were surprises and always random.

He turned a corner, feet starting to ache in his shoes, healed blisters starting to open again. There were only a few more blocks before he would be home- he needed to lose the police officer.

Brendon thought of his wife and children, waiting at home patiently even though they were starving. It motivated him to run faster, sprinting down the street, dodging people and trees alike.

He stared to stumble over his own feet, panting as he nearly tripped over a crack in the sidewalk, tears blurring his vision. The cop had started to gain on him, the sound of the his voice getting closer and closer, store alarms blaring in Brendon's mind. It was so hard to run, to breathe, to keep going, but he couldn't get caught.

If he got arrested, his family would starve. Sarah and his two angels would die, and Brendon could never forgive himself.

He had been stealing food for years, ever since Tyler was born. You'd think that by now he'd be good enough to get out unseen, but a cop had been nearby when the alarms went off, which was just his luck on an already terrible day.

That morning he woke up to his daughter Abby coughing into his face, which never meant anything good. Even if Abby only had a small cold, it could be deathly in their one room apartment, living on a pullout couch.

Abby was only two and a cold could end her life. Her nose was pink, her cheeks were rosy and her round blue eyes were tired, all the worst symptoms.

Sarah had held her close all morning, trying to warm her up in the cold November air that seeped in through the holes in the windowsills. Brendon's heart melted when Tyler made their bed without being asked, watching his sister with concern.

It went without saying- Brendon loved his family to death and wished that he could give them something better.

The cop was so close he could nearly feel his hot breath on the back of his neck, his grunts in his ear, the way he rasped out yells.

"Stop you punk- drop the food!" He shouted, voice gruff and hoarse.

Brendon spotted an alleyway ahead, just across the street, a shortcut to his apartment building. He could throw the food over the fence and climb it easily, something he'd done a million times.

He was waiting for an opening in the traffic, cars and buses whooshing by, blowing his hair into his face. Food was slipping out of his hands but Brendon couldn't stop to bend down and pick it up, legs dead underneath him.

-Now. Brendon didn't bother to look both ways, turning sharply into the street, eyes on the alleyway. Adrenaline was coursing through his veins, feet throbbing in his shoes that were two sizes too small, rocks tumbling beneath him. He was almost there, almost there, almost there-

And then something collided with him, a terrible pain searing through his entire body.

Darkness. God, it was freezing. Brendon clawed at the blackness around him, twisting around to see where he was. Everything was so obscure and numb- did he trip and stumble into a pond?

He was falling. Brendon's stomach dropped, air flying through his fingers, shirt billowing around him. What the hell was going on?

A loud thud made Brendon close his eyes, sudden hard ground underneath him, head pillowed by what felt like grass. Huh, that was weird. There hadn't been any grass on the street he was on.

The cop. He needed to get the food home to Sarah, to check on Abby and Tyler, to see if any of the places he applied to work at had called him back.

But... the tall buildings that made up his home city were nowhere to be seen. Neither was the police officer, a relief to Brendon.

He hadn't always been poor enough to steal food. Growing up, Brendon had been told his parents were rich people who pampered him everyday. When Brendon got older, he discovered his aunt only told him that to make him think his dead parents were good people.

To be honest, Brendon didn't remember his parents. He had lived with his aunt all his life until she died, leaving him with the little money she had and the apartment where his family now lived.

Even while they were poor, Brendon felt blessed to wake up next to Sarah and their children everyday. She was the light of his life, someone who inspired him to do better. Brendon would do anything for his family, which included stealing food and clothes.

Right now, the only thoughts going through Brendon's mind were about getting home and getting his family dinner. But when he finally sat up and looked around, home wasn't anywhere in sight.

Brendon had woken up in a deserted field, nothing in sight for miles except a small, grey brick building, lights glowing inside. Around his wrist was a bracelet Abby had made him out of rocks and buttons, held together by string and glue. It was the only thing that comforted his panicked mind.

The sky looked just like the sky above him in Chicago: overcast, stuffy clouds blocking the sun. Some darker ones were crossing the white expanse of the sky, veiling the brightness, little droplets of rain beginning to fall around Brendon.

His best bet was to enter the building and have someone tell him what was going on. Brendon's mind was racing with worries, glancing over his shoulder every couple seconds expecting the cop to be chasing him.

With unsteady legs, he trudged through the grass towards the building, pushing open the door with a weak arm.

The room reminded him of the DMV, a few people queued in lines to speak to a worker, all sitting behind glass at their desks. Every single person in that room wore an expression exactly like Brendon's:

Frightened and confused.

He got in a line, flickering fluorescent lights giving his already sore head a migraine, tapping his feet impatiently.

He had to get home to Sarah and his kids.

A dying plant sat in the corner of the square building, leaves drooping and brown, a small spider crawling up the side.

Ugh, Brendon hated spiders. He needed to figure out what was going on and get out of here as fast as he could.

He listened closely, trying to pick up snippets of other's conversations with the workers, but it was futile. The dull roar in his head made focusing impossible, only growing with every passing second he had to wait in line, maintaining eye contact with the still spider.

Even though he couldn't see them, Brendon knew that it's eight eyes were mocking him, watching him with arrogance. Whenever a spider made it's way into the apartment, Brendon made Sarah or Tyler kill it, too squeamish to go close to it.

Brendon hated the spider, hated this cramped room full of bewildered people, hated being so far from his family for so long.

"Next."

Finally, he could figure out where he was and how to get home.

"Hi, um, where am I?" Brendon asked the elderly woman behind the counter, intimidated by her strict look.

She sighed and adjusted her glasses, the silver chain attached to them clinking. "You died. You are in hell for your sins, and if you could give me your name, we could figure out where you're headed."

Her voice was monotone, like she had done this a million times, unimpressed by the panic that crossed Brendon's face.

What? Hell? This had to be a joke- how could he have died and gone to hell? 

Back it up. How could he be dead? How did he die? Who would take care of Sarah and the kids?

"-sir, there are other people who need to be served. What's your name?" She looked at him with disdain from behind her thick glasses, wispy grey hair hanging around her head like the storm clouds outside.

"Uh- uh..." Brendon forgot his own name for a second. "B-Brendon Boyd Urie."

She clacked away at the ancient keyboard before looking up at him like a disappointed grandmother would. "33 years old?"

Brendon nodded, still stunned into silence at her words. This was hell?

"You were hit by a bus and died instantly on impact. Your sins include theft, resisting arrest, identity fraud and premarital sex, among many other smaller ones. You soul weights just enough to qualify you for a servant position instead of heaven." She murmured, ignoring how Brendon got progressively more distressed with every word.

"Wait- what does that mean, 'servant position instead of heaven?'" He asked, tapping his foot nervously, feet cramped inside his sweaty shoes. Brendon couldn't stop thinking about Sarah waiting for him to come home, how her crystal blue eyes would fill with tears when she'd realize he's dead, how she'd break the news to their children.

It made his stomach lurch, world spinning around him as he tried to calm his breaths, to focus on the words the old woman was speaking.

"It's a system where your soul is weighted by your sins and good actions. Your's weighs on just the cusp of becoming a servant for our new kings, rather than going to heaven." Her dull voice was muffled by the glass separating them, words only disorienting Brendon further. "Hold your arm out."

Brendon did as he was told, sliding his arm through a circular hole in the glass, breath stuck in his throat as the woman wrapped a device around his wrist, locking it tight to his skin. "This is your identification and detention device. It has your identification number and position, along with a built in counter for every good deed you do and every rule you disobey. And don't try to take it off- it's sealed to your skin and tamper proof. Get on the next shuttle designated for servants. Next."

She gestured for Brendon to move to the side, already talking to the next lost person. He took a seat at one of the benches stuck around the room and stared at the glowing screen, brows furrowed as even more confusion settled into his mind.

He was a servant? What did that even mean? Who was he serving? Why was he even here?

Words and numbers started to fade onto the screen, the square monitor attaching itself to his pale skin, making him yelp out. It strangely burned before the sensation cooled, leaving an odd tingling feeling in his entire body.

'Brendon Urie. Number 009863. Position as valet butler. Click for more details.'

Brendon tapped on the screen, more words flickering before his eyes.

'Valet butler: you are tasked with seeing to every personal need of the masters such as any personal requests, facilitating any demands and seeing to the overall happiness of the masters.'

This was all so much to take in at once; he was dead, in hell, and was going to become someone's personal servant?

It felt like only minutes ago he was running from the cop, his family's wellbeing the only thing on his mind.

A P.A. system crackled overhead, another monotone voice announcing the arrival of the shuttle he was supposed to get on. Reluctantly, Brendon got up and left the cramped building to get on a bus, eyes glued to the screen on his wrist the entire time.

It seemed he was the only person on the bus, letting it jostle him around, too occupied with wrapping his head around the whole situation to care.

Brendon kept expecting for someone to pop out from behind one of the plastic covered seats and tell him it was all a prank and he was on some random game show. At least, that's what Brendon was hoping.

All he wanted to do was to say one last goodbye to his family, to tell Sarah and his kids how much he loved them and how he'd always be watching over them. Except that would be a lie- Brendon barely knew where he was, let alone how to contact them.

He finally looked up when the bus's break squeaked to a stop, rain pattering against the windows, leaving white stains in their paths.

Ordinary rain shouldn't do that.

The sound of rainboots screeching against the metal floor of the bus made Brendon look up, greeting with a very smiley woman.

"Hey you! Are you new? Great, welcome to the worst years of the rest of your life! Let's hope you can escape someday!" Her voice was all too cheery for the words she was saying, brown braids falling over the bright yellow slicker she was wearing, a thick umbrella trailing behind her.

"W-What do you mean?" Brendon shifted uncomfortably in his seat, skin crawling with gloom and puzzlement.

"You're a servant here, silly! My name's Agnes, I'll show you around. Make sure you stay under my umbrella, we don't want another person burned by acid rain!" She grabbed his hand, heavy gloves rubbing against his bare fingers.

'Wait, acid rain? Isn't that stuff not dangerous?" Brendon said, stumbling over his own feet as she guided him off the bus, avoiding muddy puddles of water as Agnes dragged him towards the worn red building.

"Maybe on Earth, but the stuff here'll get you real bad. What position did you get?" She grabbed at his wrist once they were finally inside, standing in the middle of a dark hallway. The only light in the room was the screens on both their arms.

"Aw man, valet butler? That's the worst position." She clicked her tongue, still gripping tightly to Brendon's wrist. "Means you gotta cater to whatever asshole is up there. Anyways, let me give you a tour and show you your room."

Agnes showed a confused Brendon to the ninth floor, walking through the dining quarters, the common room, the laundry room, and finally his room.

Brendon was still having trouble understanding where he was, let alone gripping the idea that he would be living here for who knows how long. Agnes's words haunted him- he didn't want to serve an asshole.

He didn't want anything but to get back to his family.

The bed was neatly made, a black comforter folded at the end, two pillows laying against the wall it was pushed against. An oak dresser was on the opposite wall, drawers empty as Agnes pulled them open one by one, shoving them back into place.

Her looks were so deceptive- her mouth was smiling widely, but all of her movements held anger, roughly closing doors behind her the entire tour. It scared Brendon a bit, flinching away from her at every chance he got.

"So the new king hasn't assigned uniforms yet- huh. Well, get used to the clothes you're wearing before we have to wear something uncomfortable." Agnes's braids seemed to have a mind of their own, swinging around with every step she took as she strode towards his bed and took a seat.

"W-What am I supposed to do for the king?" Brendon stammered, foot drumming against the hardwood floor.

"Okay, so, he's gonna have, like, a bell or something like that. Every time you hear that bell you gotta drop whatever you're doing and run to see what he wants- and honestly, it can be whatever. Food, drink, clothes, whatever their greedy hearts desire." Agnes said flatly, words sharp as daggers.

Dread fell over Brendon, picking at his cuticles. He only now noticed that his grandfather's wedding ring had disappeared off his fingers, misery making it's home in his chest.

That was his wedding ring with Sarah, the one his Aunt had left for him before she died. It was all he had left, and now, nothing except for the bracelet Abby had made him.

"-Speak of the devil, pun intended, Aliyah says you should meet them now. C'mon, I'll lead you there. You're gonna get more used to this place the longer you're here." Agnes sprung off the bed and marched out of the barren room, Brendon trailing silently behind. He didn't really want to meet the people, especially if they were just as evil as Agnes made them out to be.

By the time the reached the top floor, Brendon could either barely feel his legs, or feel them too much, joints aching with pain. Agnes slowed down when more people came into sight, letting Brendon catch up to her and stare.

Off to the side was a woman with floor length black hair and caramel skin, cat eyes lighting up at the sight of them.

But what really got Brendon's attention was the two men near the railing, holding each other close, exchanging words Brendon couldn't hear. He had never seen anything like them in the world- they both had pointed horns that glistened in the faint light of outside, something fitting for the rulers of hell.

One of them had teal dyed hair, shorter than the other, who was something else all together. Weird snakes seemed to emerge from the taller one's back, one curled around the shorter one's wrist. And neither of them had screens glued to their wrists.

They were sharing a look, something Brendon had seen a thousand time's on his own wife's face: love.

They were in love- Brendon couldn't help envy how lucky they were to have each other, even while they looked like monsters out of a children's book.

It made his blood boil with anger and jealousy. Why did they get to be together while Sarah sat alone at home with their children, wondering how she'd get dinner that night?

It wasn't fair- it wasn't fair at all. Brendon deserved to have Sarah back; what did they do to deserve such a high position?

Brendon didn't want to serve anyone except his family.

But did he really have a choice at this point?

- END OF ACT 1 -

Chapter Text

- RYAN & DALLON -

Ryan had no idea Dallon could be so hot while in charge.

They had been introduced to so many people Ryan could barely remember any of their names- only the surprised looks on their faces. Somewhere deep down inside him Dallon preyed on those looks, so unbelievably proud of the man he could call his lover.

After making the rounds around the empty manor, Dallon had taken over and rhymed off demand after demand to the servants. Ryan was glad he'd taken over- Dallon's requests were making his head spin, and his body was still adjusting to the different climate of hell.

The firm edge to Dallon's voice made Ryan shudder, attached at the hip to the demon. Ryan was aching for Dallon to push him against the nearest wall and use that dominant voice on him, to mark him up and make him his. Dallon must have noticed his hungry eyes, assertive gaze softening whenever he looked at Ryan, catching his love in short kisses between sentences.

The power Dallon held made him lightheaded, one possessive hand on Ryan, the other one pointing while he ordered servants around.

This was their paradise, and Dallon was going to fix it up exactly how he wanted.

First, he would get rid of those unimpressive outfits the servants were wearing, and replace them with something more classy. Suit vests and slacks for the men, and flat, short dresses for the women.

Next was beginning on renovations, which were relatively easy because of the blank canvas they had to work on.

Dallon adored the way Ryan stared at him wide-eyed, gripping onto his shoulder.

With every passing second, Dallon's disbelief that he could live in hell with his soulmate grew, heart pattering with so much love it was hard for Dallon to contain himself. All he wanted to do was devour Ryan until he was a whimpering, red-faced and teary-eyed mess, begging for more.

But the bedroom was just as empty as the rest of the palace, something Dallon was prioritizing. Servants rushed around him like schools of fish as Dallon raced around, holding onto Ryan's hand tightly.

He still hadn't told Ryan that he was the cat all those years ago, and that he was the kid who caused Dallon to become a demon.

Though Dallon didn't feel the need to tell Ryan about that, or at least not yet. Maybe there would be a better time, but Dallon wanted to cherish every wonderful moment with his love right now.

They both ducked under a ladder, entering another bare room, a small cluster of people staring at a piece of paper.

"Mon dieu, what is this?" Dallon cut through the group of people, grabbing that paper out of their hands. "Ugh, look at this crown molding! Did anyone down here appreciate the renaissance era?"

Ryan stood behind them, giggling at Dallon's tone. He was such a snob sometimes, but Ryan loved that about him.

It felt like every breathing second all he could think about was Dallon, Dallon's pretty voice, Dallon's silky tendrils entwined with every inch of his body. Ryan felt foolish for thinking like that, but he had let Dallon kill him just so they could be together forever.

Speaking of Dallon being with him- Ryan's hands were fidgeting as dirty thoughts crossed his mind, staring at the back of Dallon's feathery hair, wishing he was holding onto that hair as Dallon's tongue explored his lower region.

Then Dallon was looking at him quizzically, and Ryan realized he was gnawing at his lip and staring at the demon provocatively.

"What are you thinking about, my sweet little devil?" Dallon didn't care that the group of workers were glancing skeptically at the two of them, exchanging odd looks.

"Oh... nothing, I was just thinking... will the bedroom be ready by tonight?" Ryan shifted his weight from one foot to the other, face burning red at the images crossing his mind.

Dallon smirked, pressing a quick kiss to Ryan's cheek. "I'm sure it will, my love. Then we can break into the bed, hm?"

Ryan's blush only deepened, grasping onto one of Dallon's hands, subconsciously thinking about the ring again.

"Are you hungry sweetheart? Do you want something to eat?" Dallon asked, gesturing for the servants to get back to work.

"I'm okay right now... is it alright if I go look around a bit?"

"Of course mon chéri, take as much time as you want. I'll be around, alright?" Dallon gave him another kiss before turning away to scold someone for not writing down the right shade of curtains.

Ryan peeled away from them and walked over to the window, gazing at the white residue the raindrops left in their trail.

It hadn't stopped raining since they got there, dark clouds blocking out all light, making it impossible to see what was outside. Ryan squinted and strained his eyes, hands pressed against the cold glass, leaving two foggy outlines when he pulled them away.

Disappointed he couldn't see outside, Ryan made his way down the hall, met with a curt nod from every occasional person he ran into. The red carpet beneath him turned into plywood as he walked over where they were tearing it up, murmuring an apology.

People were in little clusters all around the manor, discussing work details in hushed whispers, Dallon's new uniform swapped out for loose fitting clothes.

He was glad that Dallon was so hard willed, because otherwise, Ryan wasn't sure what decisions he'd be making. Ryan wasn't sure if he'd even still be living without Dallon.

He couldn't imagine what it would be like if his mom had died while he was still in Ronnie's band, alone. Ryan probably would have starved himself to death, laying in bed until he dissolved into nothing.

But Dallon had held him so lovingly, had fed him and coaxed him to drink water, had let Ryan bury his face in the crook of his neck when the thoughts became too much. He owed his entire live to the demon, and Ryan was still trying to figure out how this was real and how they could live peacefully together forever.

Ryan was so deep in thought he didn't notice the servant standing in front of him in the hallway and collided with him, making both of them stumble backwards.

"Oh- I'm so sorry!" Ryan stammered, holding out his hand to help the servant up.

"No- no! Uh, I'm the sorry one, y-your majesty." Panic flashed across the servant's face, making Ryan feel rotten inside. He had a nice voice too, one that was melodic and strong.

"Oh, please call me Ryan. I-I don't like the whole 'your majesty' thing..."

The servant nodded, smoothing out his the wrinkles on his grey suit vest, eyes darting around the room. "I'm Brendon... I was just appreciating the piano you guys have here."

Piano? Dallon had gotten a piano? But neither of them knew how to play.

"We have a piano? I never knew that..." Ryan's eyes caught the shiny black piano tucked away in a corner, dark in the absence of light from outside.

"I used to play a while ago, but I don't think I'll ever be good enough to play on something like that." Brendon had the same colour of hair as Dallon, heavy bags under his tired eyes, voice cracking with each word.

Ryan already felt terrible enough about being called 'your majesty', but having servants was a whole new level. He knew Dallon enjoyed having their little paradise and that all of the servants were in hell for a reason, but it still hurt his sensitive heart when he saw them exhausted like Brendon was.

"You can play it if you want... I'm sure you're great." Ryan had always loved the piano, the rich tone the notes gave off and the way the melody brought the room to life.

"Really?" Brendon's eyes lit up, walking over and sitting on the bench, running his hands over the polished wood. It made Ryan feel good inside to at least let Brendon do something he loved, even if it was a small gesture.

Ever since his mom died, Ryan had been trying to do what she would want, which was always the kindest option. Some of the pain had dissipated, but he still missed her more than words and honored her parenting.

It made Ryan feel like he was carrying on his mother's graciousness when he saw the giant smile on Brendon's face as he played the piano, a happy song that brightened the darkened room. If Ryan wasn't looking out he window, he might think the clouds had parted and the sun was shining based on the lightheartedness of the song.

Brendon finished with a final note before scurrying away from the piano like it was poisonous. "I've overstepped, your- uh, Ryan. Thank you for this, but I must get back to work."

He was gone before Ryan could assure him he didn't need to work so hard, leaving a tiny hole in Ryan's good mood. And besides, what would Dallon think if he was treating the servants so nicely? Ryan knew about his vendetta towards humans because of how they had treated him, and based on how careless Dallon was with his newfound power, Ryan didn't think he'd appreciate letting the servants off the hook.

Ryan wandered through empty rooms, only a few inhabited with people working. It was still hard to think that this would be his home forever, something that he hadn't considered very much.

As a former human, Ryan couldn't fathom nearly how long forever was. What if he got bored? What if it wasn't what he wanted?

He didn't want to upset Dallon. Ryan knew how much the demon wanted to spend every last day with him, and while Ryan wanted that himself, he wasn't sure the human part of him wanted it. It felt like only seconds ago he was sitting in bed with Dallon, agreeing to an eternity with him in hell.

Ugh, why did everything have to be so difficult? Hadn't Dallon promised that they could live worry-less here? Or was that the thing that worried Ryan?

As he strolled through the rooms, he noticed them begin to string together into something a bit more comfortable, adorned with fancy details.

Gold vines crawled through where the wall met the ceiling, every feature refined to perfection, just what Dallon wanted. Wealth and luxury seeped out of every item Ryan came across, whether it be the florid roses carved into every dark piece of furniture, or the baroque paintings of beautiful scenes hung on every wall.

Ryan found himself in the dining room, wine-red curtains drawn, a dazzling chandelier with gold limbs coiling around flickering candles. The room was dim enough that he almost ran into one of the chairs at the long table, making the bouquet of fresh roses sitting in the middle wobble, clear vase shining with droplets water that caught the light.

Ryan couldn't help but smile at Dallon's choice of flowers. All throughout their relationship, roses had kinda been their thing, from being on the bed during the wet dream to being engraved on the music box.

The music box was with Dallon right now- Ryan didn't want to put it down anywhere and have it get lost. It was a reminder of their bond even before Dallon had spoken a word, something that didn't need to be stated to make it true. In fact, their love was nothing but stronger in those silent moments, the ones where they could read it in each other's eyes.

Ryan walked around the room in time with the rain hitting the window, shoes shuffling quietly on the deep red carpet. He didn't know where they'd get new clothes, but he wasn't concerned. Dallon would take care of it.

A rumble of thunder reminded him of his own hunger, gnawing at his stomach. Thinking about his mom had dampened his good mood, a heavy storm cloud hanging over him just like the ones outside. He needed Dallon's love to clear the sky in his mind, to be his sun that would chase away the bad thoughts.

Thankfully, the demon wasn't very far away. Ryan found him inspecting a painting a few rooms away, tapping his foot and rubbing his chin.

"Dal, I'm hungry..." Ryan fell into his outstretched arms, letting Dallon kiss his forehead.

"What do you want for dinner, my love?" Dallon looked effortlessly handsome, a few stray dark hairs fallen into his face, the first few buttons of his black dress shirt unbuttoned and ruffled. Ryan ran his hands over his exposed forearms, dark shirt sleeves rolled up around his bony elbows, letting Dallon pick him up.

"Could... could we have cheap ramen? My mom used to make it a lot and I'm really missing her..." Ryan mumbled into Dallon's neck as he carried him through doorways, strong hands on his waist.

"Of course we can sweetheart. My little angel just want some loving tonight?" Dallon whispered into Ryan's ear, making him blush. Dallon always knew what he wanted.

Then they were back in the dining room and Dallon was pulling out a chair, scraping against the carpet. Ryan made himself comfortable on Dallon's lap before the demon rang a bell, it's tinny sound ringing out through the empty room.

A familiar servant came rushing in- it was Brendon, the one Ryan had ran into earlier. His eyes held sadness at the sight of the two of them fondling each other, Ryan's fingers woven between Dallon's.

"Yes, your... majesties?" Brendon hesitated, like he was unsure what to call them. Ryan's pink face only bloomed a deeper red, suddenly embarrassed of their position, yet it made no difference to Dallon.

Ryan felt like they were at the fanciest restaurant in the world as Dallon told Brendon what they wanted. In fact, Brendon's outfit was pretty close to something a waiter would wear at one of those expensive restaurants that Ryan avoided like the plague.

It was odd to see someone dressed so elegantly carrying shitty, five dollar ramen, but Ryan's mind was elsewhere.

"Can you eat now?" He asked Dallon, knowing his aversion to food. Ryan thought that maybe because they were in another dimension his tastebuds would have changed back to normal.

"I... don't know. Let's see, hm?" Dallon grabbed a fork and one of the bowls from off the table and took a big bite of the noodles, chewing with anticipation.

"Hey, they're good!" He had that giant grin that Ryan loved too see, swallowing down his bite.

While it wasn't the most normal situation, it seemed that they could live more normally here, where people didn't scrutinize Dallon's appearance. It was nice seeing somewhere where Dallon finally fit it, the way his shoulders were always relaxed and he was always smiling.

Screw all his other worries- Ryan knew that if Dallon was happy, he was happy too.

They finished dinner quickly, Dallon feeding Ryan spoonfuls of the thin noodles until he was full. Ever since Ryan was sick and Dallon fed him for the first time, he had taken up being fed. Something about depending on Dallon made Ryan's head go fuzzy, and taking care of his love made Dallon ecstatic, whether it be feeding him or bathing him or ensuring his general happiness.

That's why his heart grew heavy when Ryan returned to him with a small pout, grief pooling in his dark eyes. It made Dallon's stomach drop whenever his love wasn't smiling his beautiful sunshine smile, the one that made a dimple in his chin, the one that made his eyes crinkle. Dallon spent hours studying that smile, feeling it against his own lips, hands running all over Ryan's body. Sometimes Dallon nearly cried with joy when he was around Ryan, the fact that he lived with the love of his life astounding.

That didn't mean Dallon was happy all the time though. His terrible self hatred would sneak up on him in even the brightest moments, flooding his mind with its vile whispers. No matter how much he kept them at bay, they attacked him when he was most vulnerable, laying in bed with Ryan's head on his chest.

As a demon, Dallon didn't need nearly as much sleep as Ryan did, so his nighttime hours on earth were spent watching his love sleep, grinning at his adorable little whispers as he sleep-talked. It was always incomprehensible pieces of sentences Ryan never finished, cuddling in closer to Dallon as he mumbled nonsense. Dallon was always sure to keep the nightmares away from Ryan's unsuspecting mind, sometimes meddling with the dreams and placing pleasant ones.

But even while staring at something that made his heart flutter, his cute angel bundled up in blankets, the horrible thoughts still sunk their fangs into his rotten brain.

'One day Ryan will wake up and decide he doesn't want to live with a monster anymore.' The voice made Dallon toss and turn, but covering his ears with a pillow didn't silence its taunts. 'He's going to leave you. You're disgusting. Hideous.'

Thankfully, the voice had been quiet since arriving in hell. Dallon was praying it wouldn't return anytime soon, making his chest collapse like it was suffocating him.

Dallon pushed the chair out from the table, cradling the back of Ryan's head. The grandfather clock sitting at the other end of the room showed that it was sundown, even if the sun was nowhere to be seen behind the thick clouds.

"How about you go get undressed in the new bedroom and wait for me on the bed like a good little angel?" Dallon whispered into Ryan's ear, smirking at the way pink spread through Ryan's face.

He'd seen what his love was imagining earlier, fighting the urge to drop everything and please Ryan right then and there. They hadn't had sex in forever and Dallon's skin itched to hear Ryan's little whines and moans.

Dallon watched with a sly smile as Ryan left in the direction of the bedroom, giving Dallon one last look over his shoulder before disappearing.

He sat there, tapping his foot to an invisible rhythm, a song running through his head as he waited. The rain outside made for an excellent audience for his silent concert, humming along to lyrics he'd heard decades ago. Dallon could only imagine Ryan's reaction when he saw the room, how it resembled the one in the wet dream he'd given Ryan all those months ago.

Same white silk sheets, same ornate bed posts, same candles and wide window and rose petals. The music box was sitting on their bedside table, along with a bottle of lube Dallon had found and another vase of roses, petals coloured a blood red. Dallon had left a towel on the end of the bed so after they could go right to sleep in clean sheets, thinking of what him and Ryan would do on top of the towel.

At the thought of Ryan sitting on the bed naked, Dallon stood up, pushed his chair in and briskly walked to the bedroom, unbuttoning the last few buttons of his dress shirt on the way. Before Ryan's mother's death, every week he'd unbutton a new button until they finally reached an open shirt, revealing the white scars across Dallon's chest after an incident with a dog. He hated them more than anything, but Ryan had pressed his lips to them so lovingly that the hate dissolved into love, murmuring his sweet praise as he worked his way up the demon's chest, slotting their mouths together in a filthy kiss.

Dallon opened the bedroom door, expecting Ryan to be sitting there undressed with his red face, but instead he was sitting on the edge of the bed, fully clothed.

"What's the matter, my love?" Dallon closed the door behind himself, listening for the soft click as he locked it. Ryan hadn't been feeling the greatest earlier, and Dallon didn't want to pressure him into it if he wasn't feeling ready. "We don't have to do this tonight sweetheart if you don't want to."

"No, no, I just..." Ryan trailed off, catching his bottom lip between his teeth and avoiding Dallon's eyes. He loved it when his baby got all shy on him, face the same shade as the roses, the blush burning up the back of his neck. "I want you to undress me."

Dallon's smirk returned, kicking off his dress shoes and sitting on the bed next to Ryan. "I'd love to, my sweet angel. Little thing just wants me to treasure him tonight?"

Ryan nodded, climbing onto Dallon's lap as their lips met in a hot kiss, arms wrapped around Dallon's neck. Dallon's words alone had already gotten him going, leisurely rocking his hips into Dallon's abdomen, whimpering at the friction.

Dallon grabbed him by the waist and held him still, giving Ryan a warning bite to his lower lip.

"Good boy." He growled when Ryan's hips slowed, coiling a tendril around his wrist. "Do you wanna be tied up tonight baby?"

Ryan shook his head. "Is... that okay?"

"Of course it is darling, anything for my naughty little devil." Dallon felt a fire ignite in his gut as Ryan wriggled on his lap, opening his mouth for Dallon to slip his tongue into. "I saw you thinking those dirty things earlier, weren't you sweetheart? Just begging for me to savor your gorgeous body, hm?"

Ryan's blush deepened as Dallon begun to unbutton his shirt, another tendril weaving through his open fingers. Dallon's sugary praise was something he craved, no, needed tonight, and he knew Dallon knew that too.

"Oh, look at those pretty little tits," Dallon was staring at Ryan's chest, pulling off his shirt and letting it fall to the floor. The rain continued to slap against the window, open curtains hanging idle next to the grey landscape, the noise calming and tranquil.

Ryan's eyes widened at Dallon's language, a little gasp falling past his lips as Dallon pushed him down onto the bed and crawled over him, hair falling around his smug face.

An surprised whine came from the depths of his chest as Dallon wrapped his lips around one of his nipples, making Ryan curl his toes and arch his back. "Oh- oh my god Dallon!"

Dallon hummed in response, sucking softly on Ryan's nipple, tongue darting out to lap at the skin. It was pleasure Ryan had never felt before, brain falling into that golden haven that always came when him and Dallon made love, mewling as heat crawled up his spine and settled in his lower stomach.

Content with one, Dallon moved to the other nipple, tendrils pulling off the rest of Ryan's clothes. One leg positioned between Ryan's, he could feel Ryan's cock grow harder with every lick to his tit, pulling up fistfuls of the sheets as his cock spilled more and more precome.

"D-Dallon- oh fuck- I love you I love you!" Ryan cried, wrecked moans broken by his strings of swear words, letting himself fall apart in Dallon's grasp. Unlike other partners he'd had a while ago, he didn't have to worry about unraveling when he was with Dallon. He knew that at the end the demon would piece his mind back together, helping through the drop that case from being so high, kissing away any fresh tears. Ryan couldn't help getting so emotional during sex, but Dallon loved how much he said 'I love you' and how he sobbed into Dallon's neck when the pleasure was too big for his weak brain to handle.

Dallon moved away from Ryan's hard nipples, admiring how swollen they were, shining with his saliva. "Mmm, can I mark you up baby?"

Mind already halfway gone, Ryan nodded feebly, a little moan escaping him as a tendril dipped beneath his underwear and coiled around his cock.

Dallon climbed further up Ryan to plant his face in his neck, making sure his horns didn't hit him. There was something about leaving hickeys on Ryan that made Dallon's brain go light, whether it be the way he tasted under his mouth, or the way he wore them proudly the next day, faded into purple bruises. Sometimes if things were particularly heated, Dallon would leave light bite marks from his collarbones up to his jaw, making sure he didn't hurt Ryan in the process.

It made Ryan his- only he could touch his precious rose so tenderly, marked up for the entire world to see. Before meeting Ryan, Dallon didn't own very many personal items, and the ones that he did were often lost to travel.

Dallon would never lose Ryan. He was his for an eternity, his little angel, his love. No longer did Dallon have to worry about Ryan finding someone better and letting them touch him. No longer did he have to sit at home waiting for Ryan to return from the store, chewing down his nails until the ink of his blood would start to drip from the ragged skin, soaking through boxes of tissues in an attempt to hide it from Ryan.

As long as Ryan was marked up, everyone knew who he belonged to. He was all Dallon's.

He was all Dallon's.

Ryan squirmed and whimpered as Dallon started to suck the marks into the delicate skin of his neck, waves of possessiveness washing over him.

His, his, his. Ryan was his.

The tendril around Ryan's cock remained still- Dallon wasn't ready to play with him just yet. He was too busy drinking up Ryan's tiny whines as he licked a column up his neck, pressing his tongue against his Adam's apple.

Even though Ryan was growing restless, he knew that he had to be a good boy and not beg. It was so hard to not though- the dull light coming from the lamp on the bedside table was casting shadows of them on the wall, Dallon's body on top of Ryan's, making Ryan want Dallon even more.

When he was satisfied with the collage of hickeys on Ryan's neck, Dallon sat back on his haunches and held out his hand for Ryan to grab.

He pulled Ryan until he was sitting up, spreading his legs in desperation, waiting for Dallon to crawl between them and take him into his mouth. "Dal, please touch me-"

Dallon tsked at the whiny edge in Ryan's voice, even though he loved it to death. "Patience mon chéri, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. We haven't made love in a while and we're going to take it slowly, okay doll?"

Ryan nodded silently, a pout crossing his face as Dallon removed the tendril around his cock, leaving him even more desperate for attention.

"Can you move a little forward baby? Just until you're sitting on the edge- perfect sweetheart, just like that." Dallon guided Ryan forward, kneeling down on the ground in front of him. The sight made Ryan's stomach flip, the fires of his past arousal that had died out suddenly reigniting.

Dallon intertwined two tendrils with both of Ryan's hands, his own holding onto Ryan's calves as he begun to kiss at the inside of his thigh, leaving lighter marks on the sensitive skin. It had to be Dallon's favourite place to kiss other than Ryan's mouth, leaving a trail of hickeys on the soft skin. His head went static as he imagined what it would be like tomorrow morning, when Dallon would slip his hand between Ryan's legs and press against the marks, making him arch his back and groan. It always hurt a bit, but in the best way possible.

He switched from one thigh to the other, rubbing circles into Ryan's legs with his thumbs as Ryan watched carefully, holding onto the shadowy tendrils. The entire room reminded him of that wet dream, except this one was a million times better because Dallon was actually there, dark head of hair between his legs.

Ryan gasped softly when Dallon moved from thighs to mouthing at his cock through his underwear, making the wet patch on them spread.

"O-oh Dallon-" Ryan was straining to keep his hips still, golden drops of light raining down on his mind as Dallon licked at him from through his underwear. He was the evilest thing ever, teasing Ryan when he hadn't even been touched yet. "Dal, 'm ready, I can take it. Promise."

"Are you sure sweetheart?" Dallon looked up at Ryan with his moonlit eyes, lips red and wet from tasting Ryan's body. The sight made him tremble, rubbing the tendrils in his hands just to see Dallon lose all composure. "Oh- alright darling, I'll give it to you."

Ryan beamed with happiness, clambering onto Dallon's lap when he got back up on the bed, running his hand down the demon's chest. He always hated how Dallon didn't like his body while he loved Ryan's. Ryan felt it was his duty to love Dallon's just as much, tracing the scarred skin with his thumb, stopping to let Dallon reach for the lube on their nightstand.

"Awh sweetheart, you're already wrecked for me?" Dallon cooed when he slid down Ryan's underwear, wrapping a tendril around his leaking cock. "You've been such a good boy already, haven't you? Such a pretty angel, waiting so patiently while I play with you."

Ryan's blush returned at Dallon's shameless praise, hips stuttering into the velvety heat of the tendril, lips attached to Dallon's.

"Gorgeous little thing, sitting so quietly while I tease you. Such good behavior deserves a reward, don't you think so?" Dallon whispered into Ryan's ear, low voice making him shudder.

Ryan loved it when Dallon talked to him like that, asking him questions that they both knew the answer to. He moaned into Dallon's mouth in response as the tendril around his cock began to stroke him softly, heart tap tap tap-ing against his ribcage in tune with the rain outside.

"I think my little devil deserves everything he wants, everything his naughty mind thinks of when he thinks I'm not watching. Don't you think he deserves that baby?" Dallon popped open the cap of the lube and spread some on his fingers, reaching around behind Ryan to circle his fluttering hole. "I hope he knows how happy it makes me when I see him thinking his naughty thoughts, pretty little face all red because he got caught. He's got the most beautiful face every mon chéri, just to match the rest of his gorgeous body."

Ryan mewled at how thick Dallon was laying on the praise tonight, exactly what he wanted. It made his stomach ache with how much he loved it, unable to contain the happy noises he made in response, leaning forward into Dallon as his cold fingers pushed into him slowly.

"We're just gonna take it slowly tonight, aren't we baby? I'm gonna take my sweet time opening you up, making sure you're nice and ready for me to slid right in. I wouldn't want mon amour hurting one bit while we make love." Dallon pressed a kiss to Ryan's nose as he pushed in deeper, scissoring his fingers, making sure his movements were careful enough that Ryan wouldn't feel it too badly. Ryan only whined in response, body growing warm at Dallon's words, completely gone for him and Dallon wasn't even inside him yet.

"You've got the prettiest eyes in the world sweetheart, have I ever told you that?" Dallon spoke against Ryan's lips, slipping a third finger against the two working him open. "Gorgeous eyes, gorgeous tits, gorgeous ass. God, what did I do to deserve something as perfect as you?"

Ryan felt the pressure build up in his abdomen as Dallon's words seeped into his mind, on the edge of coming. He hadn't had sex in months and everything was so much, between the tendril around his cock, the fingers in his ass and how absolutely sweet Dallon was being.

Ryan had forgotten how soft and gentle Dallon could be when he needed it, murmuring praise after praise into Ryan's ear, tendrils keeping him in place. He hadn't let himself float in a while, but Dallon's words were only digging him deeper into that cloudy haven where all he knew was pleasure.

"My sweet little devil is getting all high on me, isn't he? His pretty eyes are glazing over, oh doll, he's falling into his sweet space. I hope he knows how much I love him when he's floaty, how I'll be right here to catch him when he decides to come back down." Dallon said, infatuated with how easily Ryan slipped into it this time. God, and he hadn't even come yet either. Usually it took him a few orgasms to make him high enough to fall into his happy space, but this time all he needed was Dallon's praise and a tiny bit of pleasure, becoming beautifully pliant on his lap. "You were gone so fast, weren't you baby? Just needed a little bit of love this time and you slipped right into your sweet space, god I love you."

Dallon began to rub his prostate when he found it, listening closely to hear Ryan's tiny moans, knowing that Ryan didn't even know what noises he was making. It was only when he truly let himself go that Dallon got to see the rawest side of him, the one where everything he did was genuine, filter lost to the haze of his sweet space.

The only thing behind Ryan's eyes was light as he came with a little whimper, too deep in to care much. It only pushed him further, burying his face in Dallon's neck for safety, trying to ground himself a bit. Sure, it felt amazing to float so high, but the higher he went the stronger the drop would be.

His attempts to keep himself grounded were futile, especially with the added lubricant of Dallon's praise, making him slip right back into the soft space. Later when he was out of it, Ryan would guess it was the mixture of his craving for praise with how long he'd gone without sex that let him go so high so easily, heights he'd never known before.

"Sweet little thing, making his pretty noises on my lap as I open him. I'll be right here baby, I'll always be right here for you when you come back." Dallon knew that Ryan couldn't hear him when he got like this, but it still made him happy to reassure his love.

One day, after the first time Ryan fell into it thanks to a night of nonstop pleasure from Dallon, he'd sat down with the demon and they talked about it. Ryan himself didn't exactly know what had happened, only that he'd felt really high, higher than the time he tried weed at one of Ronnie's stupid parties. It had scared him what happened after though, how he clung to Dallon like his life depended on it and cried for hours for him to not leave him.

It scared Dallon too, unsure why Ryan had gotten so emotional when he got up to get a washcloth to wash them up. Only after did they discover it was because Ryan had experienced a 'drop' when Dallon left, the chemical imbalance in his brain and the feeble state his mind was in that had assured him that Dallon was gone and was leaving forever.

Now, whenever he went all high and floaty Dallon called it his 'sweet space', and knew exactly how to coax him back down, to ease his mind when his continuous dopamine would drop. He would hold Ryan close when he'd come back to the real world, making sure that he never left Ryan's eyesight until he was 100% there, whispering reassurance that he wasn't going to leave, that he would never leave Ryan ever.

Dallon didn't know what type of drop was going to accompany Ryan falling right into it so quickly, but it his worries were dampened by how adorable Ryan was, making his soft noises and rocking his hips into the tendril. Once Dallon decided that he was open enough to not feel any pain, he lined up his tendril and pushed in slowly, watching as Ryan arched his back and whimpered.

"That's it baby, that's it. Breathe sweetheart, just take it in slowly, my sweet angel." Dallon could feel Ryan's legs quiver around him and he went deeper, holding onto his love's hand tightly. "Good boy, look at you taking it so well. I love you mon petit ange, I love it when you're high in the clouds."

Ryan only nuzzled further into the crook of Dallon's neck, a little cry of pleasure bubbling up as Dallon found his prostate again, rubbing against it. He could taste nothing but light on his tongue, stars tingling in his fingertips, letting Dallon carry him away. He had never trusted anyone else enough to even come close to slipping into his sweet space, but with Dallon it was different. It wasn't an embarrassment when he was with the demon- it made sex even more pleasurable, knowing how much Dallon loved it when he wasn't able to talk, how Dallon fed off of his pleasure for himself.

It confused Ryan- how could Dallon be pleased just by seeing Ryan overcome with too much pleasure to handle? It made Ryan worry that he wasn't doing enough, that Dallon wasn't getting as much out of sex as Ryan was.

But Dallon continued to spoil Ryan rotten, to help him slip into the headspace, to hold him as he fell from the clouds. And Ryan figured out that Dallon liked seeing him happy, liked to give Ryan more than he could take so that he could get to the heavenly space where he thought about nothing.

"My love, my little king, my sweet devil," Dallon muttered into Ryan's hair, sliding the tendril so that it hit his prostate every time, milking more and more sobs out of Ryan. "What do you think everyone would think if they saw you right now, perfect little thing sitting on my lap, so far gone he can't see anymore? You know what I think they'd say?"

While he couldn't make out Dallon's exact words, muddled by the thick veil of haziness that cushioned him, it always made Ryan feel better when he knew Dallon was talking to him, even if he couldn't answer.

"I think they'd be jealous sweetheart, jealous that they don't get to have a sweet little angel sit on their lap, making the prettiest sounds in the entire world. So high he can't talk, can't see, can't even think straight anymore because he loves it so much. I'm the luckiest person in the entire universe darling." Dallon gushed, praise after praise slipping out of his mouth. He still couldn't believe how quickly Ryan fell into it, so deep in love that he was numb to everything else.

This was his. No one else got to see Ryan happier than this, stars twinkling in his dark eyes, lips parted as his little moans grew louder and louder.

"My perfect little thing. You're so goddamn perfect my love, just a pretty little angel needing some pleasure." Dallon loved the way Ryan was gripping his shirt, sobbing softly into his neck as he came again, legs tightening around him. He knew his love was going to drop soon and wanted to hold on to the very last moments of his high. "Pretty little rose doesn't even know he came again, does he? Doesn't know how absolutely beautiful he is, all spread open on my lap for me to play with."

Face in Dallon's neck, Ryan began to give little kitten licks to Dallon's skin, trying his hardest to replicate the red marks on his own neck. He was weaker than Dallon, especially when he was gone, so his attempts at marks were smaller and lighter. It didn't matter to Dallon- he was overjoyed that Ryan wanted them to match, even when he was high.

"Oh baby, oh mon chéri, good boy," Dallon tilted his head back so that Ryan could reach more of his pale skin, unbothered but the horns poking him in the jaw. "Little angel is trying to mark me up, isn't he? What did I do to deserve something so perfect?"

Pleasure crashed over Ryan again, making his hips stutter as a small whimper fell past his lips, overstimulation sneaking up on him. He knew he was about to drop, seeking out the safety of Dallon's embrace to catch him and bring him back to normal.

Dallon could see it in Ryan's glazed over eyes that he was coming back to him, holding his love tightly as he pulled the tendril out of him and unfurled the one around his cock. After being so high, still being stimulated hurt instead of what it was supposed to do.

Ryan closed his eyes and let the waves pull him under, dopamine dropping in his mind as he heard Dallon whisper sweet things to him, but he couldn't hear what they were. Everything sounded underwater, and he was so cold, and so... alone.

He needed Dallon. He needed Dallon right now.

Tears stung at his eyes as he thought about how alone he was, how Dallon was probably going to leave him after he got so high. Sometimes it was Ryan's downfall, something he hated about himself, wishing they could just have sex like two normal adults.

"Baby, sweetheart, my pretty little thing. I'm right here doll, I'm right here and I'm not leaving, I promise." Dallon must have heard the tiny, choked-up whine that Ryan made, tears dripping down his face as he drew ragged breaths in. "Feel my heart baby, I've got you, you're safe here."

Dallon placed Ryan's hand on his heart, listening to Ryan's high-pitched cries, letting him bury his face back in the crook of his neck. He was grounding his love, trying to reach and bring him back to the real world with making him focus on real things. Sometimes it was his heart, or holding onto his hand, or the weather outside.

"I'm here sweetheart, I'm always going to be here to catch you." Dallon had always wondered what it felt like to slip into a headspace that was sweet and nice. The only headspaces he had ever fallen into were the harsh ones where bad thoughts met him at every turn, like sitting on a bed of nails where as soon as he was unbalanced he was impaled by darkness.

But Dallon knew he could never go to the sweet space with Ryan. It was his job to stay on the ground and bring his love back to him- if they both went, who'd be there to catch Ryan? And it didn't matter much anyways, Dallon loved it when Ryan visited his sweet space where the only thing he knew was pleasure. It made the demon try harder to get him there every night, feeding him praises until he eased right into it.

Ryan began to bawl into Dallon's neck, everything so much at once. Compared to his sweet space, the real world was too much to comprehend, something that frightened Ryan when he was coming back.

It hurt him when he came crashing back down, every memory, thought and piece of knowledge overwhelming his brain that had been calm just seconds ago. Dallon couldn't understand what it was like, but he always tried his best to talk him through it with soft words.

"It's okay to cry sweetheart, don't you worry about that. I know that you get so high you don't know how to handle it, hm baby? And you know I love you no matter what, especially when I get to be the lucky person to help you come back down." Dallon was still holding Ryan's hand to his heart, softly rocking them together, a smile spreading on his face as Ryan's cries slowed.

Dallon. Dallon was there, and he loved him, and wasn't going to leave.

"Dal..." Ryan said, voice soft. It took a little while for his full tone to come back, but Dallon cherished his small voice just as much as he cherished his normal one.

"There's my sweet angel. You were gone a while, weren't you darling?" Dallon knew that even if Ryan seemed steady enough, one wrong move could send him toppling back into a sea of loneliness where his cries were worse.

"Mhm... I-I liked it..." Ryan's face burned red at his confession. He still remembered the first time it happened, how embarrassed he was once he stopped crying, wishing he could hide away from Dallon. But Dallon had reassured him that it was alright to feel things so strongly, that he would love him no matter what he was doing.

"I'm glad you did sweetheart. You went so easily this time, you didn't even need me inside you, didn't you?" Dallon's words were soft and gentle, holding Ryan close and making sure he could feel him, could feel the tendrils wrapped around his wrists and back.

"I went fast... th-thank you Dal..."

"Oh baby, there's no need to thank me. You know how much I adore you when you get all sweet on me, don't you? I wish I could keep you like that all the time, have you sit on my lap and make your pretty noises everyday, all happy and floaty." Dallon found Ryan's lips in a chaste kiss, both of them smiling against each other at Dallon's words.

"I'd like that..." Ryan mumbled, catching Dallon's fingers between his own, letting his mind settle back into reality.

The sat together in silence, the only sound the soft pattering of the rain against the window and his deep breaths, holding onto Dallon's hand. The way the demon was looking at him helped his heart ease into the right place, where he knew that Dallon loved him and always would.

"Do you want to go get washed up yet, my love?" Dallon purred, one hand entwined with Ryan's and the other roaming up and down his thigh, rubbing grounding circles into the skin.

Ryan nodded, eyes still hazy and heavy-lidded even though he'd come back. He loved the heat that came with being high, skin warm against Dallon's as he picked him up and carried him to the washroom.

Dallon sat him down on the counter, making sure that he was in Ryan's reach in case he needed to touch him. Sometimes when Ryan would be coming back, he'd find it hard to believe that Dallon was real, and liked to reach out and feel him to confirm.

"Pretty thing..." Dallon murmured as he searched for a washcloth in the cupboards, feeling Ryan's hand in his hair, fingers outstretched around his horns.

The washcloth was cold against Ryan's skin, making him squirm and shiver as Dallon cleaned him. No matter whether Ryan made it to his sweet space or not, Dallon always took careful care of him after, making sure Ryan was healthy and comfortable.

"You made me very happy tonight baby, you know that? I love you so, so much sweetheart." Dallon pressed kisses to Ryan's body, working his way up until he was standing at his full height, picking Ryan up off the counter. "My little sunshine is still a bit gone, isn't he? Just needs a bit more love to bring him back to me."

Ryan stretched out his fingers for Dallon to slip a tendril through, head resting on his shoulder as he carried him back to the bedroom. His insides were still fuzzy, everything around him blurred and hazy, but he definitely wasn't gone very far.

Dallon dressed him in soft new clothes, making sure that his baby continued to hear his voice and hold onto his hand.

"You did amazing tonight mon chéri, you were the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Such a pretty little doll, aren't you?" Dallon cooed as he pulled a sweatshirt over Ryan's head, smoothing down his blue hair after.

It made Dallon's heart unbelievably warm knowing that Ryan trusted him enough to completely let go of reality, trusted with his life. Ryan knew that even if he had one of the bad drops, the ones where it felt like the world was crashing down around him, Dallon would hold him close and gradually help him back to the real world.

Even after reaching his sweet space and dropping, Ryan was still holding on to remnants of the high, that wonderful feeling of being completely safe, loved and happy.

"I'm going to go change in the bathroom, okay sweetheart? I'll be right behind the door, is that okay?" Dallon was kneeling in front of him, a kind smile on his face. Ryan nodded and watched as Dallon disappeared into the washroom with the towel from under them.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Ryan kicked his feet up and stared out the window, soft pajama pants rubbing against his tired legs.

The storm clouds had finally parted, a crescent moon hanging in the dark sky, making the room shine with ghostly light. Ryan spotted a water bottle on the nightstand, clear water catching ripples of moonlight like pieces of silver, plastic reflecting the yellow light of the light. He reached over and grabbed it, taking a few big gulps.

Ryan always felt terrible that Dallon didn't want to show all of his body, but the demon assured him it wasn't because of Ryan. After sex, Dallon would only change in the bathroom or behind a closed door where Ryan couldn't see him, reappearing with a different outfit and a small smile.

His unsettled stomach eased when Dallon returned, wearing loose clothes. Ryan wanted to clutch to him and feel his thin figure against his own, their two hearts beating together.

"Hi cutie," Dallon dropped his clothes and the towel in the closet, joining Ryan on the bed, sweeping the rose petals onto the floor. "My love, my sweet little devil. How are you feeling?"

The sheets were just as satiny as Dallon's tendrils, helping Ryan get under the blankets and curl up next to the demon. "G-good. I love you..."

"I love you too, my pretty angel. C'mere doll." Dallon held his arms open for Ryan to crawl into, placing his head under Dallon's chin. "Adorable petit fleur, mon belle amour. You were perfect tonight baby, so damn beautiful just for me."

Dallon wanted to see the docile look in Ryan's almond shaped eyes everyday, the way his body molded so perfectly in Dallon's touch. He loved cuddling with his angel, stroking his hair and listening to the pulse of their hearts.

Ryan fell asleep quickly on Dallon's chest, all cozy and warm under the covers, limbs tangled with Dallon's. The demon followed soon after, but not before murmuring one last praise into Ryan's ear, even though he knew that his love couldn't hear him.

"I love you to the moon and back, mon chéri. I'll love you to the end of the world, and then we'll travel back in time and I'll love you all over again."

And for Dallon, Ryan's little snore was the only answer he needed.






"Dal... Dally, wake up..." Ryan murmured, watching Dallon's nose twitch in his sleep.

It was one of the rare mornings where Ryan woke up before Dallon. He loved these mornings where he could kiss Dallon awake and just lay there, listening to the sounds of them breathing, holding each other close.

Dallon's eyes fluttered open as Ryan softly kissed him, leaning into the embrace.

"Good morning, pretty boy," Dallon looked heavenly in the fuzzy morning light, hair all ruffled and messy against the white pillows.

Ryan's eyes trailed down his neck, surprised by the love bites that were blooming purple. "Dallon... did I make those?"

Dallon ran his hand over Ryan's chest, admiring the deeper plum marks on his love's skin. "Yes you did baby, and look, we're matching."

He blushed under Dallon's filthy gaze, letting the demon slid a tendril under his arm and pull him even closer. "Mm, Dal honey, I'm all yours..."

"That's right sweetheart, all mine." Dallon slipped his hand down Ryan's pants and pressed against the little marks on the inside of his thighs, making Ryan wriggle and stuff his face in Dallon's chest.

Everything from last night was still blurry in Ryan's memory, something that happened every time he went sweet. Dallon loved to remind him how precious and quiet he went, how he became so obedient for Dallon, like a lamb.

"You're so pretty mon chéri, I love you," Dallon kissed Ryan's hair, scratching his scalp around the horns.

"I love you Dal," Ryan beamed, pushing his head further into Dallon's hand, sheets tangled around their legs. "I love it here with you."

It was true. Nothing seemed better in that moment than him and Dallon laying together in the most comfortable bed ever, kissing lazily and sharing sweet words, everything Ryan had wanted in the past few months.

There had never been anyone else Ryan had felt so free with. With Dallon, he never had to hide anything, knowing that he'd love him regardless.

It made his soul carefree, days that weren't chained down by unnecessary worries about what others thought because the only opinion he cared about was Dallon's. And it was on nights like their previous, where Dallon gave him so many tooth-rotting praises he floated, that Ryan knew he'd never have to worry again.

"I love it too baby, almost as much as I love you." Dallon nuzzled Ryan's face and grasped onto his love's hand, heart overflowing with affection. "I'd love to paint you someday mon chéri, capture all that beauty with the brightest colours."

Ryan giggled, looking down in modesty. Dallon could be so wanton with his praise and it made him get shy every time. "Where would we even hang it...?"

"Oh baby, who said it'd be on canvas?" Dallon cooed. "I'd paint my gorgeous rose all the pinks and reds he blushes in, and then we could make love until we were both works of art, wouldn't that be beautiful?"

Ryan's face burned at Dallon's words, imagining Dallon brushing him so gently with paint, worshiping his body like he did every night. And when Dallon was satisfied with his masterpiece, he'd hold Ryan close and tell him how beautiful he looked, both of their skin slick with paint.

"Dallon... I'd love to be your pretty artwork..." Ryan was melting in Dallon's arms, rubbing up against the demon under the blankets.

Dallon had that mischievous grin on his face, the type that Ryan loved. "What do you say we continue what we started last night, hm doll? We have nowhere to be..."

Ryan gasped softly as Dallon's hand cupped his ass, a small smirk on the demon's face. "Oh, please Dallon, I wanna go sweet again."

Dallon ate up the pink shade of Ryan's skin and the possessive marks on his love's neck, grinning at how needy his baby was for it. "Let's see how quickly you go, mon petit étoile. I think that gorgeous ass of yourself would look perfect seated on my tendril, don't you?"

- BRENDON -

Brendon hated the new kings.

He didn't care who they were. He didn't care that he actually kinda liked the new uniforms, a classy replacement of the rags he wore at home. He didn't care if they spoke so kindly to each other that he couldn't imagine what type of people they were. Everything single tender moment they shared was a jagged reminder of Sarah, flames of anger that seared at his brain. Yet all he could do was clench his hands and let the fire die out, staring at them with a wicked hatred.

They thought that they were so powerful. Brendon knew that no matter whatever they had done to earn such pretentious behavior, it couldn't amount to what he deserved.

Brendon's life began with a hardship. His parents died when he was an infant, leaving him in the care of his estranged aunt. She had no business raising a child, but Brendon recognized that she always tried her best and ultimately shaped him into the giving person he was today.

He had met Sarah while his aunt was still alive, struck by her beauty since the first moment he laid eyes on her. They met at a grocery store, and he was so encompassed with her bright eyes and wavy dark hair that when her card got declined he paid for her food, even though his aunt would make him take double shifts at his job as a security guard.

His and Sarah's relationship only blossomed, sharing similar life experiences that drove them closer together. Brendon married her in a courthouse in December, the only place they could afford with a child on the way.

Then his aunt died and he lost his job, leaving him with a baby, a wife and a rundown apartment that was months behind on utilities. Every since then the crushing debt had only snowballed, keeping jobs for a few weeks before he'd be fired again for being late. Sarah's second birth was a lot more complicated than with Tyler, and the hospital bills resulted in taking out a loan he'd never be able to pay back.

There was no other choice than to steal for his family. The cold would slither underneath their blankets, wrapping around their lungs until someone would fall sick, which meant a brush with the inevitable death. The cycle never ended, his debt growing worse and worse and the days grew longer and longer. It kept Brendon up at night, pondering how he'd gotten into such a ratty situation where he had to commit crimes for his family.

And now, just the thought of Sarah sitting at home with Tyler and Abby, stomachs just as empty as their hearts? It was enough to make Brendon want to cry, covering his eyes with the thin material of his sleeves until the tears evaporated. No one asked what was wrong with him; no one cared. And the two assholes in charge got to sit on their high horse and be in love, while Brendon only suffered.

He hated them. Hated how odd they looked, hated how the held each other, hated how demanding and greedy they were. Just by looking at them Brendon could tell they hadn't had as rough as a life as he did.

Brendon was running around, figuring out things as he went along. It seemed everywhere he turned there were people working, talking in hushed whispers about the decor and such, scribbling things on paper. He had absolutely no idea what to do, and definitely didn't want to interact with either of them.

Wandering aimlessly, Brendon came across a piano, glossy black finish shining with distorted reflections of the candles. The candles lined the walls, tiny flames flickering in an invisible wind, wax dripping down the slender rods.

It gave the entire manor an eerie glow, like the type of haunted mansion Brendon used to read about in his aunts dusty old books. The whisper of a ghost, pianos that played by themselves, shadow figures that danced on the walls and a body that was painted with red handprints.

Brendon loved those types of books, one where the murder always ended up being by the grieving widow, but you only figured it out at the end. The entire house made Brendon feel like one of the phantoms that roamed the dark hallways, wearing an elegant suit vest adorned with spirals of golden thread, stitched into small patterns of flowers. Technically he was a ghost- he was dead, wasn't he?

Brendon was staring at the piano, imagining the type of sound he could get out of it. His aunt insisted he learned the piano when he was young, and one of his odd jobs was playing it at a bar. It had actually been one of his highest paying jobs with the tips, but sadly the bar got burned down, along with Brendon's treasured piano.

He was so wrapped up in his own world to noticed the man walking towards him, making both of them crash into each other.

"Oh- I'm so sorry!" The man stuttered as Brendon grasped his hand, getting back up on his feet.

Brendon rubbed his temple, taking in the man's appearance. Wait... this wasn't another servant. It was one of the assholes, the shorter one with the blue hair. Brendon hadn't wanted to talk to them, let alone run into one. "No- no! Uh, I'm the sorry one, y-your majesty."

An apologetic smile crossed the man's face, candles casting some of that mysterious glow on his opaline horns. "Oh, please call me Ryan. I-I don't like the whole 'your majesty' thing..."

Brendon tried to smile back, adjusting his suit under Ryan's gaze, stomach dropping at the fact that he was caught not working. "I'm Brendon... I was just appreciating the piano you guys have here."

Ryan's full eyes caught the beautiful grand piano, checkerboard notes just waiting to be plunked. "We have a piano? I never knew that..."

"I used to play a while ago, but I don't think I'll ever be good enough to play on something like that." Brendon felt stupid for talking to him. Why would Ryan even care if he was good at the piano? If they cared even the tiniest bit, Brendon would be back at home with his family instead of serving them.

"You can play it if you want... I'm sure you're great." Ryan shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans and shrugged his shoulders, words surprising Brendon.

"Really?" Brendon nearly ran to the piano, memories of playing for drunk patrons flooding his mind.

He stumbled at the beginning of the song, shame creeping up his neck as Ryan watched. But as he went along, the song morphed into a happy ballad the regulars used to love. It reminded him of his sunshine waiting for him at home, heart twisting at the thought of waves crashing down in the ocean of Sarah's eyes.

Brendon didn't think he could handle another second of playing for Ryan. He hated him. Hated his partner, hated how much they shoved their love down his throat, hated how Brendon had to work for them.

But... Ryan wasn't the royal ass Brendon thought he'd be. He let Brendon off the hook for not working, and let him play the gorgeously strong piano. Every dance of his fingers held incredible weight, bold notes reverberating around the room, sustain pedal holding onto the melody until it faded into nothing.

Brendon couldn't stand the battle in his mind between hating Ryan or being thankful. Embarrassed for violating Ryan's time, he stumbled over his own feet backing away from the piano. "I've overstepped, your- uh, Ryan. Thank you for this, but I must get back to work."

He didn't look back, feet slapping against the carpet, winding down the many sets of wire stairs until he wound up in one of the common rooms. They were bland compared to the rest of the manor, rooms that had a beige couch, chairs and a table. Even the windows didn't have any curtains, forcing them to stare out at the thunderstorm outside, acid rain leaving the grass brown and shriveled.

Brendon hadn't tried very hard to talk to any of the others in his short time here- if he didn't make friends, he wouldn't feel terrible once he finally got out. He was going to figure out how to leave, he didn't care what it would take.

A few of them were sitting at the table, sharing mugs of coffee and tea, chatting quietly. Discreetly, Brendon pulled out one of the bare-boned chairs and joined them, only listening to their conversation.

"Ugh, did you see these stupid vests that new jackass wants us to wear?" One of them snarled, pulling at the vest. He looked like he had been stuffed into it, shiny threads struggling to stay together. The flowers sewn into the dark fabric looked like they had been trampled, terribly stretched across his chest. His burly nature intimidated Brendon, who was staring at his hands.

"Are you guys talking about Dallon and Ryan?" One of the women asked, crimped black hair shining with oil in the yellow light from above.

The burly one scoffed and crossed his arms, making his dress shirt tighter. "Yeah, the new king and his little pet"

"P-pet?" Brendon couldn't stop it from falling out of his mouth, shrinking under all their gazes. It was hard to remember that he was in hell, where other terrible people went for their sins.

The muscular man gave him a sideways glance. "Yeah, the smaller guy. Our majesty the asshole treats him like a fucking princess. Have you heard the way he talks to him?"

Brendon felt like withering away, not wanting to badmouth Ryan, especially like this. It made him uncomfortable to speak so grossly about Ryan who had just treated him so nicely, even if he still wanted to hate him.

"God, I hate how much they shove it down our throats. Makes me wanna..." The burly one gripped onto his travel mug, gritting his teeth. Brendon felt just as threatened as the metal did, creasing in his beefy hand. "Do something to him, y'know?"

It was horrible how they all nodded, sharing knowing looks that held dark secrets. As much as he wanted to despise Ryan and his partner's pretentiousness, he couldn't fathom what people in hell would do to someone who was actually kind.

"Yeah, show him that it's not all soft and easy down here." The woman with the black hair said, swishing around her mug of murky coffee water. "Anyways, break's almost over. I gotta go help Georgia with some tailor stuff downstairs, anyone wanna come?"

The small crowd all dispersed, people heading off in groups, leaving Brendon alone.

God, they were rude. Brendon didn't know what he had expected for people in hell, but he didn't think they'd be plotting something horribly grotesque for Ryan.

And if they didn't like Brendon, what would they do to him? Could people even die in hell? A nobody knew him here- his death would barely make a ripple in anyone's life. No one had even cared when he broke down crying in the middle of the thick-carpeted hallways. He hadn't even been here for one full day and he couldn't stand it.

Brendon slumped over the table, arms cradling his head. How had this even happened? How was he in hell, surrounded by people who were probably ex-convicts, scared for his own life?

He didn't know how long he had laid there, dizzy when he finally sat up, face red from all the blood rushing through his head.

Might as well work, shouldn't he? Ryan hadn't been the prick Brendon thought he would be, but there was no telling for the other one. He didn't even look like he was the same species as Ryan- but fuck, why did Brendon even bother wondering anymore? Nothing here made any sense.

Eyesight still blurry, Brendon shuffled out of the common room and staggered up the stairs, shoes making the metal material creak under him.

He was starting to get kinda hungry, but no one ever told him where to get food. Agnes or whatever her name was had left him alone, confused and disoriented.

The tiny twinkle of a bell knocked him out of his bubble, hunger nestling itself in his stomach.

Bell. Agnes had said something about bells, hadn't she?

Brendon sulked in the direction of the ring, dragging his feet along the carpet. Everything was insufferable here, and he didn't feel like working. He didn't feel like doing anything but getting home.

Ryan and his partner where in the room, sitting at end of the long table.

That icky jealousy returned, but this time instead of green vibes that sparked with anger, it only left Brendon... miserable. He tried to stop the grimace that grew on his lips, but it still surfaced, wringing his hands in sorrow.

They had everything they ever wanted, and Brendon couldn't even say goodbye to Sarah. It didn't make him mad anymore, it just left Brendon feeling empty.

"Yes, your... majesties?" The word still tasted sour in his mouth, hands clasped behind his back so they couldn't see him rub where his wedding ring used to be.

Ramen. They wanted ramen, Brendon's most familiar meal. Before stealing, he'd buy the little packets that costed 50 cents and they lived off of those for a while, before their water got turned off.

Even the thought of it was enough to fill his eyes with tears, threatening to spill. Ryan and his partner didn't seem to notice, murmuring quietly to each other, hands laced together.

Brendon couldn't let himself get wrapped up in the hurt. He had an actual job now, with an actual bed and new clothes and a shower that worked.

It took him a little while, but eventually he found the kitchen, mumbling to whoever was there, numb when they handed him two warm bowls. The smell brought him back to the late nights when the kettle would scream just as loud as Tyler did, when Sarah and him would pass the bowl back and forth, listening to the wind howl outside.

He left the two of them in the dining room, uncertain where to go. Everyone was busy working, and Brendon didn't want to talk to people in hell.

Brendon ended up wandering around the manor, ignoring the growling of his stomach, mesmerized by the tremble of the tiny flames. He also came across more spiders than he ever wanted to see, scuttling around in the shadows of the house, beady eyes shining with the same iridescence Ryan's horns had.

An hour later, Brendon found himself standing outside of their bedroom door, unsure what he was going to say. Thank you? You're not the asshole I thought you were? Whatever he was going to say, he wanted to at least apologize to Ryan, even if it was half-assed.

He reached out to open the door, hesitating when he heard voices. Brendon couldn't help but eavesdrop, pressing his ear against the door and straining to listen.

"That's it baby, that's it. Breathe sweetheart, just take it in slowly, my sweet angel." It came from a voice that wasn't Ryan's, accompanied by someone's soft whimpers.

Oh god. They were having sex, weren't they?

He backed away from the door so quickly you'd think it was a spider, scared of making a noise and disrupting them.

Fuck... Brendon didn't want to almost walk into that. He couldn't remember the last time him and Sarah had time for themselves- it must have been before they had Tyler, on that rickety pull-out couch where the bed springs creaked with every move.

Brendon hadn't felt this lost in his life, even when he lost job after job and had bills stacking up. He had family then, and it was the only thing he needed to keep him going.

He would've never traded his family for a life like this, even where he had clean clothes and a place to sleep.

People passed him by in the hallway, some of them giving him a concerned glance and others ignoring him completely. The knowledge that Ryan and his partner got to make love while he had to sit here, swallowing back the lump in his throat, focusing on not sobbing? It was too much.

Maybe it would be in his best interest to talk to other servants and see what they were planning to do to Ryan. Ordinarily, Brendon wouldn't condone anything of the sort, but he was desperate now.

He would do anything to help his family, even if it meant taking down someone kind. And how bad could it be? The people down here didn't seem like the type to think through an intricate plan- they'd probably rough up Ryan a bit, and be done for the day.

Brendon had no idea how wrong he would be.

- END OF ACT 2 -

Chapter Text

- RYAN & DALLON -

"Are you ready, my love?"

Dallon was holding his hands over Ryan's eyes, eyelashes tickling him.

The demon had brought Ryan to the first level, surprising him with the finished courtyard. Him and Ryan had just eaten a big breakfast after finally getting out of bed, exploring all the new tastes Dallon could finally eat.

And now, Ryan was taking in the new surroundings, surprised by the changes to the indoor courtyard.

Beams of light made the ripples of gold on the marble floor glisten, sun shining brazenly through the tall windows.

All the boring chairs and benches had been replaced with matching marble tables, some adorned with bedecked chess pieces and old books Ryan had never heard of. The life in the room had been restored with potted plants standing proud in every corner, veins carrying vibrant greens.

Ryan looked up all those levels to see an baroque painting on the ceiling, surrounded by a frilly golden frame, pastel oils dotting every inch of the surface with small details no one would ever see. It was of women and men at a ball, faces daubed like porcelain dolls, cheeks and noses red & rosy. Dresses were streaked with soft pinks and blues, while the men's suits were purples and blacks, every tiny crease in the fabric brushed to perfection.

"Dal, it's... it's beautiful." Ryan turned around to face him, mouth breaking into a smile. The entire room looked like a mix between a courthouse and an art museum Ryan wouldn't be allowed in, but this time, it was his home.

It was their home.

"I'm glad you like it, mon chéri," Dallon gave him a kiss on the nose, eyes shining like pearls in the sunlight.

Ryan stood on his tiptoes and kissed Dallon back, letting their bodies gravitate closer. He was so encompassed with the moment he didn't see the spider scamper past their feet, crunching disgustingly when Dallon stepped on it.

"Ew..." He said, both of them staring at the black splatter of blood it left on the golden waves of the marble.

"What do you feel like doing today, mon amour?" Dallon brought Ryan's attention back to him, kicking away the carcass out of sight.

"I don't know... is it okay if I look around a bit more?" Ryan sheepishly stared at his new shoes, a pair that he would've never been able to afford on earth. After making love again that morning, Dallon sifted through their closet, showing Ryan all the new clothes they had.

It seemed crazy to Ryan how Dallon knew him so perfectly, rows of his favourite shirts and jeans hung so neatly on the bar, colourful next to Dallon's dark attire.

Ryan's hands roamed down Dallon's navy knitted sweater, the collar of a dress shirt poking out the neckline. It was a more comfortable outfit than what Dallon usually wore, but he didn't mind. Dallon got to live in the palace of his dreams- he could dress a little more modestly than normal.

"It's more than okay sweetheart. I'll be in the study if you need me, okay doll?" Dallon said, giving his cheek one last peck. Him and Ryan had all the time in the world to spend together, and Dallon wouldn't mind others seeing the marks on his love's neck, some fresh, some faded purple.

Dallon walked away blowing kisses, leaving Ryan to examine the chess boards, picking up the carefully chiseled pieces. They were all miniature figurines of the pieces, made up of intricate fragments of gilded gold and silver.

Ryan picked up the knight, it's tiny sword catching the sunlight, horse adorned with a royal saddle. Its front hoof was raised, little streaks of fur carved into the gold, a fierce look in both the horse's eyes and the knights. He carefully placed it back down with a clunk, admiring the beautiful stillness of the room, grand and open in front of him.

It was hard to believe this was his- a massive change from his ratty apartment with it's ripped up chairs, eclectic furniture and dusty old bottles of alcohol Ronnie wanted to stash away at his place. He felt breathless as he became enchanted by the painting on the ceiling, scene coming to life behind his eyes. Women's dresses swished in time with the haunting music, piano notes ringing through his head, heels clicking against the stone cold floor. And in the corner were two familiar white eyes, peeking out from the darkness etched onto the piece.

Ryan squinted, laughing when he realized it was Dallon. At further inspection, he saw someone sitting next to the wall of shadows, neon blue hair standing out from the oil pastels of the artwork.

It was him, talking to the two moons in the darkness, the music box on his lap. Ryan was beaming up at the painting, memories unfolding in his mind. The first time he talked to Dallon, their first kiss, the exorcist and when he was sick.

Ugh, Ryan was going to cry. He loved Dallon- he loved him too much.

The music of the ball seemed to grow louder inside his mind, notes dancing in his ears, overcome with emotion he usually didn't show to anyone except Dallon.

Yet, the melody only became more real as he got swept up in it, notes dipping between cheerful and melancholy. It wasn't in his head- someone was playing the piano upstairs, full tone echoing through the emptiness of the manor.

Ryan ran up the stairs, huffing when he reached the piano room. Brendon didn't notice him bent over in the doorway, clutching onto his chest as he gasped for air.

When Brendon finally finished, Ryan clapped, walking towards the glossy piano.

"Oh my god- how long have you been there?" Brendon whipped around at the sound, eyes flickering with alarm. It hurt Ryan's heart to see him embarrassed at something he was talented at, something that made Ryan feel things he only felt in extreme moments. The music bled with rich colours, the type that Dallon wore- deep reds, blues and purples, all dark and mysterious. But underneath the blanket was the pinkest, sweetest marshmallow scene you'd ever heard, quick moments of happiness that would sweep you off your feet.

"I- I heard you from downstairs... you're really good y'know." Ryan said.

"Oh, that's just an old song- I promise I'm better than that..." Brendon rubbed the back of his neck, eyes not meeting Ryan's.

The song didn't sound very far off from the records Dallon would lay on the record player Ryan bought for him, before joining him on the bed and pleasing his love. It was only on the nights where Ryan would have a bad day, when he'd seek comfort in Dallon's arms and let the sea of pleasure pull him into nothingness. Sometimes Dallon would tie him up and play with him until Ryan was shaking and sobbing, whimpering alongside the beautiful tune, and other nights Dallon would pet his hair and hold him close, whispering gentle things.

Ryan couldn't help but feel guilty- Dallon always gave him so much, and he barely gave anything in return. It made Ryan want to learn how to play Dallon's favourite type of music, to be able to give back to the demon, even if it was something as small as playing the piano.

"Hey... you wouldn't mind teaching me some stuff, would you?" He asked, ashamed for asking so much from Brendon.

"R-Really?" Brendon's eyebrows shot up, one foot resting on the golden pedal. "I mean, yeah, of course."

"Oh, thank you so much!" Ryan gave him a nervous chuckle. "Uh, but I better tell Dallon first. You don't mind waiting here, do you?"

Brendon shook his head, eyes darting around the room. "N-No, I don't have anywhere to be, heh."

It took Ryan a while to find Dallon, cooped up in the study, a room Ryan had never seen before.

The walls were stocked high with bookshelves, a rickety ladder standing stoically in the corner, candles casting little circles of orange on the books. And in the middle was Dallon, sitting at a desk with his legs propped up on the wood, a book in his lap. The lamp on the desk was reflecting light in his glasses, blank eyes framed by the thick black edges.

"Dal, I never knew you needed glasses," Ryan made his way over to the demon, frowning at the dread that morphed onto Dallon's face. Dallon quickly took them off and tossed them across the desk, landing on top of a paper. Ryan recognized Dallon's loopy handwriting, little notes about whatever book he was reading.

"Ah- I wasn't expecting you, sweetheart," Dallon's face blossomed pink, something Ryan didn't get to see very often.

"Hey, don't be shy, I love them." Ryan gave Dallon a kiss, making himself comfortable on the other side of the desk.

"You're too kind, mon chéri." Dallon was staring at him with adoration, and all of Ryan's anxiety dissipated.

He clear his throat, hands subconsciously picking at the blisters on his hand. "Um, is it okay if one of the servants teaches me piano?"

A crease appeared between Dallon's eyebrows, expression puzzled. "Why, of course my love. There's no need to ask me for anything- you know I love giving you the world, mon petit ange."

"Thank you..." Ryan bit his lower lip, encompassed by how handsome Dallon looked, especially with his glasses, surrounded by books and the soft haze of candles. "...Could you put your glasses back on? I like them..."

Dallon reluctantly picked them up and slid them back on, glancing away, face dusted with embarrassment.

"Pretty." Ryan pushed back his chair and gave Dallon a kiss, saying one last goodbye to the room, crammed full with words Ryan would probably never read. Dallon blended right in, so beautiful and he didn't even realize it. It was that thought that kept Ryan awake late at night, staring into Dallon's crystal white eyes until one of them broke the silence with a soft "I love you," or a gentle kiss.

Dallon's self esteem, or for better words, his lack of it, was something that bothered Ryan constantly, pain laying in the bottom of his heart. That pain had been there since their first kiss, when Ryan's fingers found the little lines of jagged skin, or whenever he would discover a new white gash on some part of the demon. Thankfully, he had never seen any new ones, only the scars that were long faded and struggling to hold onto his pale skin.

But Ryan loved Dallon in glasses, or with messy hair, or... basically anytime. The things Dallon was so uptight about were the things that Ryan loved most about him, whether it be his unnatural height, the shadows of tendrils or the way his eyes were a canvas just waiting to be painted. Ryan loved them like artists loved perfections, and Dallon's body was the most flawless work of art Ryan had ever seen.

It wasn't hard to find the piano room; Ryan was getting accustomed to the layout of the house, the maze of rooms that were all connected somehow. Dallon had dressed every one of them perfectly, every small detail fine tuned until it was exactly what he wanted, whether it be the drapes that flowed in an invisible wind, the polished tables that held every kind of flower imaginable, or the wax that slowly dripped down the slender fingers of the candles.

Brendon was playing a song more quietly, stopping when Ryan appeared in the doorway.

Ryan had played the piano a couple of times before, just for fun, but he was nowhere close to Brendon's level. He was a good teacher, taking his time to position Ryan's hands properly, explaining the notes and scales to him slowly while Dallon read away in the study.

The demon's favourite thing to do was write up thoughts and notes about the stories he'd get lost in, the type of fairytale romance he used to wish he had. But now he got to experience it every day, that unbelievably warmth and knowledge that him and Ryan shared the type of love others wished they had.

Dallon pushed his glasses back up, sweeping away the few hairs that fell in front of his eyes, hand scribbling words that were incomprehensible to others. His brain sometimes ran too fast for his hands to keep up, eyes flitting between the pages and the paper, writing snippets about how he felt about Ryan in the margin.

'A storm of deep emotions that surface when he gets excited. The sunshine of his eyes isn't very hard to find if you know where to look. His rose petals beam with vibrant colours like the sunset of summer nights, hands that are worn with words if you hold them carefully. They're easy to read if he lets you into his heart, yet they speak another language unknown to man. His lips are softer than the light that shines on God's favourite animals, but they feel the best when he smiles. His body runs warm when he's happy, cold when he's scared, and somewhere in between when he's unsure what he's feeling. It's best to hold him closely and listen to the beat of his heart, so steady and sure it flutters to the march of time.'

Dallon lost track of time, hand on his cheek as he wrote word after word, spilling his heart onto the page. He doodled hearts around the paragraph, face burning at how childish he was acting.

He turned over his wrist, checking the time on his watch. Maybe he should check in with Ryan- it made him nervous to leave him for so long.

The adorable clunks of piano notes led Dallon to the piano room, leaning against the doorway and crossing his arms as he watched Ryan play.

Dallon didn't like how close the servant was sitting to his love, but he wasn't going to let his possessiveness get in the way of Ryan having fun.

They finally noticed him, the servant's eyes widening in surprise as Ryan grinned.

"How was your lesson, mon chéri?" Dallon opened his arms and let Ryan fall into them, holding him close just like he loved.

"It was fantastic Dallon... Brendon is a really good teacher." Ryan glanced over to Brendon, who wouldn't look at either of them.

"O-oh, thank you. Ryan is a real natural. you should be proud, your majesty."

"I am proud of my sweet little angel." Dallon picked up Ryan effortlessly and twirled him around, fireworks fizzling in his heart. "You will be magnifique, my love. I love you so much."

"I love you so much Dal," Ryan giggled, feet stumbling over Dallon's as they walked away together.

The rest of the day passed by in serenity, with Dallon reading in the study and Ryan keeping him company, cozy in the room crammed full of books. It had to be Dallon's favourite room, other than the bedroom of course.

The study reminded him of the library of the one nobleman, the one he killed all those years ago after he saw a portrait of him. Now, Dallon wouldn't care much about the drawing- he had his Ryan, who loved him just the way he was.

Libraries had been his one safe place for many years, when he'd sneak in after hours and sit and read until his legs got cramped. The bookshelves made for excellent hiding spots, corners that held the type of shadows Dallon lived in. And for a few hours Dallon could leave his own world, the world that hated him so bitterly, and get lost in ones of adventure. His favourite books were the ones where the author found beauty in the ordinary; where they wrote about days where the sun was a little brighter, or the simplicity of orphans that found homes, knights in shining armor who saved the day, and dances that changed a woman's life.

Dallon still hadn't gotten his life-changing dance with Ryan, but he was going to tonight. It was something he'd fantasized about since the first time he played the music box, tiny notes twinkling like the stars so far above them, the same type of stars he found in Ryan's eyes.

For dinner Ryan and Dallon had steak and red wine, the type of meal Ryan never had the money for. Maybe it was because he hadn't had wine in a long time, but it tasted a bit off to Ryan, some extra flavor hiding around the edges. He brushed it off, enjoying the rest of the food before Dallon put down the fork and scooped him up.

"H-Hey! Where are we going?" Ryan laid limp in Dallon's grasp, wrapping his arms around the demon's neck as they walked through rooms.

"Patience mon chéri, it's a surprise." Dallon smirked, the type of smirk that only pulled up one side of his mouth, revealing his abnormally sharp incisors.

Ryan rolled his eyes. "It feels like every single moment I'm being surprised, Dal."

Dallon lead him to a room he'd never been in before, tucked away in the back of the manor. His dress shoes clacked against the polished wooden floor, catching reflections of himself carrying Ryan in the mirrors lining the walls, a chandelier in the middle of the room holding crystals like droplets of rain.

A thin veil of dismay fell over Ryan when he figured out where they were, a yellow glow hanging in the air. "Dallon- you know I can't dance."

"Nonsense. Everyone can dance my love, you just need some practice." Dallon set him down and strode over to a cabinet, flipping through records until he found the one he was searching for.

The record player was one of those old ones, a gramophone, with a brass horn and its wooden box. Dallon delicately placed the record on it, a few seconds of distorted fuzz playing before the song began to fill the room, a classical piano piece, not much unlike the one that Brendon was playing.

Ryan hesitantly took Dallon's extended hand, gnawing at his lower lip. He had never been able to dance, especially not something choreographed like ballroom dancing, and he didn't want Dallon to see him mess up.

"There's nothing to be worried about, darling. We'll take it slowly, alright?" Dallon pulled him in, locking their fingers together and placing his other hand on Ryan's ribcage, guiding his love's hand to his shoulder. "Just follow my lead. You look beautiful tonight sweetheart."

Ryan ducked his head down and blushed, focusing on where his feet were going. When Dallon's foot took a step back, he followed with a step forward, trying not to step on the tips of Dallon's toes.

His love was too busy concentrating on stepping in time to the music to notice Dallon's proud gaze, hearts falling into a rhythm. The feeling was suffocating him in the best way possible, beaming at how cute Ryan was when he danced, a magical presence accompanying them.

It was more than perfect- it was picture book perfect, the scene of the two of them dancing, sharing silence and adoration. Dallon chastised himself for not doing this earlier, thumb rubbing Ryan's hand in comfort, so deep in the moment it was hard to believe anyone else existed. The time passed by like dripping honey; golden, sticky and sweet, the lovely melody guiding the two of them, dancing like there's no tomorrow.

Once he was a little stable, Ryan glanced up at Dallon, nerves relieved by the grand smile on Dallon's face.

"You're doing amazing mon fleur, better than I ever imagined." Dallon said, and it was the truth. He had imagined this scenario so many times it was sometimes hard to distinguish dream from reality, especially because right now felt like nothing more than a wonderful dream that was slipping through his hands. Ryan seemed to be getting tired too, stifling a yawn, eyes staring into Dallon's. Dallon's beautifully pure eyes, the ones that he loved to hate and hated to love.

"I love you." Ryan said, stopping in the middle of the room to stand on Dallon's toes and kiss him. No matter how many times he said it, it was never enough. He felt compelled to say it at every chance he could, and this was the most perfect chance he'd ever experienced.

Dallon laughed against his love's lips, hand leaving its position on his torso to cup Ryan's cheek, leaning into the kiss. "I love you to the moon and back, mon belle ange."

Ryan pulled away to stare at Dallon's red lips, shining with the remnants of their kiss. He had finally given up trying to fight his yearn to sleep and yawned, eyelids beginning to grow heavy. "Mm- I'm kinda tired Dal,"

"You know what? Me too-" Dallon was cut off by his own yawn, holding onto Ryan's hand tightly. "Let's get ready for bed sweetheart."

They turned off the record player, abandoned the magic of the ballroom and made their way to the bedroom, bodies only growing more exhausted by the minute. Dallon and Ryan lazily brushed their teeth and changed into comfortable clothes, minds too busy trying to stay awake to be able to share any words.

"Goodnight my love." Dallon kissed Ryan on the nose before spooning him, holding him close and letting the patter of their hearts lull him to sleep.

"Night Dal," Was the last thing Ryan said before the current of sleep pulled his mind away, falling into a deep slumber.

Unbeknownst to both of them, Ryan wouldn't be there to kiss Dallon awake the next morning.

- BRENDON -

Brendon couldn't help but be pulled back to the piano.

It was one of the last normal things he was hanging onto- something that was full of happy memories, old days where his mountain of worries was still a small garbage pile.

He was playing louder than he should be, too busy concentrating to hear the low echo of voices from far underneath him. Thankfully, nobody had paid him any attention, leaving him to play alone in his own little world.

Last night he'd gotten the best sleep he'd had in a while- that didn't mean it was a good one. Brendon would wake up every time someone walked past his room, paranoid that someone would decide that they wanted to murder him. His conversation with the other servants had been eye-opening to the type of people who lived down here; the scum of the earth, people who's sins had racked up enough to be sent to hell.

Fortunately, last night he had managed to find food, a box of some weird type of pastries someone left in the common room. Brendon brought it back to his room and wolfed it down before falling asleep, trying to block out the memory of what he'd heard earlier.

The fire of his anger was still aflame, coals red with the heat of his fury. It was disgusting how absolutely unfair it was, and he couldn't shake that icky feeling of jealousy, something that couldn't be washed off with a shower. Brendon wasn't a stranger to jealousy; it was the only emotion more familiar than love, something he'd felt his entire life since the day he learned what it meant. Other kids at school had better lunches, better clothes, had birthday parties and toys. The only toys Brendon had was his aunt's cartons of cigarettes and her old books, ones he'd read so many times he knew the words by memory.

But this jealousy wasn't the ordinary kind he knew. It was deeper; it rooted from under his skin, vines that overtook the compassionate part of his brain. As much as he hated it, all he could think about was the two of them together, the way they touched each other so gently and how kind Ryan had been.

He hated it, hated having to replay the noises over and over, tossing and turning as footsteps clunked outside his room. The bed enveloped his tired body, blankets thicker than he knew they could be. The pillow was fuller than the thin ones him and Sarah slept on, and the room was so warm, hotter than their old apartment in July.

Now he was playing the piano, stuck in a bubble where nothing else existed but the melody. Brendon was so deep in the music he didn't notice Ryan behind him, his final note broken by someone else's clapping.

"Oh my god- how long have you been there?" Brendon's heart flooded with panic, embarrassed of being caught playing again by Ryan. It was bad enough that he could only think about the noises he heard last night- but now he had to face Ryan in broad daylight, to look at his face and act like he didn't utterly despise him. At least, Brendon thought he did.

"I- I heard you from downstairs... you're really good y'know." Ryan's voice sounded honest enough, but the rotten part of Brendon wanted to think he was just being nice.

"Oh, that's just an old song- I promise I'm better than that..." He felt stupid having to explain himself to Ryan, and technically it was an old song. All he knew were old songs, the ones he used to play at the bar while drunk old men sang alone, slurring all their words.

And wait- he didn't need to apologize to Ryan. Ryan got everything he ever wanted; couldn't Brendon just play his piano in peace? It was all he had.

"Hey... you wouldn't mind teaching me some stuff, would you?" Ryan finally spoke up, eyes shifting around the room, landing on Brendon.

"R-Really?" Brendon didn't know how to answer that. He wanted to hate Ryan, he really did, but... it was hard. Ryan seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and it was hard to keep feeding the fire inside him with more reasons to dislike him.

"I mean, yeah, of course." Brendon said, unsure if he could deny. Ryan was his boss, and where would he be if he didn't have a place to live?

"Oh, thank you so much!" Ryan's face broke out into a relieved smile, wringing his hands "Uh, but I better tell Dallon first. You don't mind waiting here, do you?"

Brendon assumed Dallon was his partner. He shook his head, turning back to the checkerboard notes. "N-No, I don't have anywhere to be, heh."

Ryan disappeared into the hallway, leaving Brendon to sort out his brain. He had never taught anyone the piano- and now he was going to teach Ryan, and his only job was on the line. What if some other servant saw him and wanted to murder him? Brendon had no shortage of thoughts about the stuff these heathens wanted to do to Ryan.

Ryan returned, a wide smile on his face.

Brendon tried his best to explain the octaves, placing Ryan's hands on the notes as gently as possible. He was treating Ryan like a glass doll, worried that he would accidentally move him too roughly and lose his job.

They decided to take a break, Ryan running to the kitchen to grab waters for both of them. Brendon accepting the bottle suspiciously, fighting to keep his wicked hatred living. Ryan's kindness was making it awfully hard, especially when they started talking about things other than the piano.

"How did you end up down here?" Ryan asked, taking a sip of water.

"Uhh..." Brendon wasn't sure whether he should tell the truth, but did it really matter? "I used to steal stuff for my family, and I guess one day I got hit by a car while running from the cops..."

Ryan's eyebrows furrowed, a sympathetic look crossing his face. "Oh Brendon, that's terrible- do you miss them?"

Brendon gave him an empty laugh, plastic crinkling in his sudden tight grip. Did he miss them? What kind of question was that? "Yeah- I mean, obviously, it's all I can think about..."

"That really sucks man..." Ryan was chewing on his bottom lip, genuine sadness hiding in the shine of his eyes. "Is there any way you could see them?"

He was surprised by Ryan's question, shaking his head as the piano bench creaked underneath the two of them, sitting uncomfortably close. "No... I don't think so. It's- whatever. I'll survive."

Brendon didn't want to talk about it anymore. It was only bringing back his own misery, coated in a sour layer of anger and jealousy, and now he wasn't even sure he wanted to be mad at Ryan.

They continued the practice is a heavy silence, interrupted only by the hesitant notes of the piano, Ryan working his way up the C-major scale. He kept looking back to Brendon with a weird look on his face, like a mix of confusion and pity. Brendon didn't want his pity; he wanted his family. He wanted Sarah and Tyler and Abby.

Brendon noticed the tall man in the doorway before Ryan did, but he didn't say anything. If anything, Ryan's partner scared him more- he looked like a monster of his nightmares, with his extra limbs, blank eyes and sharp-toothed grin. And what if he wasn't as nice as Ryan? He definitely was more demanding, and if anyone was going to fire Brendon, it seemed like he'd be the one.

Ryan beamed when he spotted Dallon ditching the piano and rushing over into Dallon's arms. It made Brendon's heart ache, thinking of all the times Sarah did that to him.

"How was your lesson, mon chéri?" Dallon said, planting a kiss to Ryan's forehead. Brendon shifted on the bench, suddenly wanting to crawl out of his skin. It was horrendous enough to think about what he'd heard last night- and he definitely felt like he was intruding their moment.

"It was fantastic Dallon... Brendon is a really good teacher." Ryan was smiling, grasping onto Dallon's sweater.

"O-oh, thank you. Ryan is a real natural. you should be proud, your majesty." The title still fell out of Brendon's mouth funny, something he hated to say, but he needed this job. It was the only thing he had left.

"I am proud of my sweet little angel." Dallon spun Ryan around, all attention focused on him. Brendon felt his stomach start to lurch again, studying the carpet like he'd have to memorize how many strings there were. "You will be magnifique, my love. I love you so much."

"I love you so much Dal," They walked away, making quiet conversation as Brendon composed himself. Now that Ryan was out of sight, the remains of his irritation returned, clenching and unclenching his hands. Maybe it would be in his best interest to talk to some of the other servants and see what they were going to do.

'That's horrible! How could you even want to hurt someone kind like Ryan? What would your kids and Sarah think?' The little angel on his shoulder whispered into his ear, words making Brendon stop in the middle of the hall and rethink his decisions.

Did he really want to hurt Ryan? No, he didn't... think so.

'Of course you should!' The devil on his other shoulder hissed, grinning maniacally. 'Ryan has everything he wants while you have nothing. Show him what it feels like to be you!'

Brendon resumed his march to the common room, certainty filling his mind. Yeah, Ryan deserved to be roughed up a little.

Thankfully the same people from his conversation yesterday were there, huddled close, murmuring hushed words.

"W-What are you guys talking about?" Brendon approached them carefully, like one would approach a rabid pack of wolves.

They all gave each other odd looks, eyes narrowing as their attention turned back on Brendon. "You're not a narc, are you?"

It was the woman with the oily black curls talking, hair surrounding her face like a cloud of frizz. The beefy man was next to her, along with a few other people Brendon didn't recognize from earlier.

"No- I hate-" Brendon cleared his throat, finding it hard to get the words out. "I hate those assholes."

They exchanged short nods, opening up their circle for Brendon to join them.

"Alright, listen close, but you can't tell anyone," The woman's voice was low as she nearly whispered, glassy eyes darting from person to person. "We're gonna kidnap the king's pet and keep him in one of the abandoned rooms downstairs."

Brendon's heart began to race, but he tried to keep the fear out of his wavering voice. "Wh- what are the abandoned rooms?"

"There's a bunch of old maid's quarters in the basement that no one else knows about. We've taken everything out of one- room 007. All that's left is the bare light and a chair in the middle." She was smirking just as evilly as the devil on his shoulder, arms crossed across her chest.

Brendon's palms were sweating worse than they ever had, but he wiped them on his slacks and continued listening, leaning into the small circle of people. This was what he wanted- to hurt Ryan. So why did he feel so scared?

"Tonight, Tony's gonna slip a pill in their drinks. Then when they're asleep we'll take him down there and tie him up." She was doing nothing to contain the glee in her voice, the smug grins on everyone's faces making Brendon want to puke.

But he was too far deep in now; what was he supposed to do? These people meant serious business and he didn't want to give them the wrong idea, but he definitely didn't like how this plan was sounding.

The group of servants disbanded, nodding one last time to each other before leaving in opposite directions. Brendon felt absolutely sick by what he'd just heard, knees quivering beneath him as he fell into a chair.

This was the most stupidest thing he'd ever done, even more stupid then when he'd spent his paycheck on a tattoo. It wasn't like he could warn Dallon and Ryan- then they'd know he was in on it, and he'd lose his job.

Or worse, he'd tell Dallon and Ryan, and the group of criminals would beat him worse than they'd beat Ryan.

He only had one semi-good option: don't tell anyone, let Ryan be kidnapped and live with a dirtied conscience.

Fuck, this was terrible. Brendon wanted to pull out his hair, grappling with the worst dilemma of his afterlife.

'This is good! Ryan gets to feel what it's like to be treated like trash, and Dallon gets to know what it feels like to lose a loved one.' The devil was back, it's scratchy voice even louder than before. 'If they really cared, they'd let you see your family again. They deserve it.'

Brendon's sad puddle of a heart perked up, fueled by the tiny devil's words.

This would be fine in the end, right? Ryan will eventually be returned, and maybe, just maybe, they'll let everyone go back to earth. Brendon would be reunited with his family and could go right back to stealing, rubbing the colour back into his children's cheeks and scaring away any critters that wanted to enter through their broken window.

Except spiders. He still couldn't stomach the thought of them, even after running into so many down here. It seemed like the castle was infested with them, shiny ones that hid in the dark corners, little bundles of red eyes mocking him.

Maybe the reason he was so intimidated by Dallon was because of the things on his back, surrounding him like spider legs. Brendon shuddered at the thought, searching around the common room for any to kill before leaving.

He mostly moped around for the rest of the day, ridding his mind of any doubts that popped up. Every glimpse of Ryan and Dallon reminded him of what terrible events were about to follow, stirring the queasiness in the bottom of his stomach.

It only made his skin prick with horror when he saw the two of them sharing a glass of red wine- the drugged wine. To escape, Brendon stole a sleeve of crackers from the kitchen and booked it to his room, worriedly cramming them into his mouth. Being poor, it didn't help that Brendon was a panic-eater, resorting to going to sleep distressed and hungry.

That's what he did tonight, yet the crackers weren't enough to fill to void in his stomach. All Brendon could hear that night was footsteps outside his room, muted whispers and thuds, giggles that people tried to hide. All he could think about was poor Ryan, drugged asleep, body being carried like a ragdoll.

And as he was finally falling asleep himself, all Brendon saw was the terrorized look on Ryan's face when he'd finally wake up, the way he'd scream and struggle,

and the way he'd his heart would drop when he'd realize Dallon wasn't coming for him, just like how Brendon's had when he realized he'd never see his family again.

- END OF ACT 3 -

 

Chapter Text

- RYAN -

It was so dark.

The room was pitch black, but that didn't mean Ryan couldn't feel the rope wrapped around his wrists and ankles, the tape that someone slapped across his mouth.

What the hell was going on?

Only minutes ago he was in bed with Dallon, hands intertwined, peacefully riding out the waves of sleep. But now Ryan was trapped, a dull ache settling down in his mind, accompanied with fear and confusion.

Sweat made its home in unsavory places, eyes darting around the room, searching for something that would tell him where he was. Had Dallon done this? Ryan didn't think he'd do something so impulsive without warning...

He began to wriggle against the ropes, breathing heavily into the tape when his wrists started to burn, the hairs of the rope digging into his skin. If this was Dallon, he wouldn't do something to hurt him like this, whimpering as uneasiness bled through his mind.

Ryan flinched when the light flickered on, blinding him momentarily. It was hanging dangerously close to him, a bare lightbulb suspended by a thin chain, radiating heat against his face.

The first thing he saw were the people standing around Ryan, staring down at him with disdain.

His first instinct was to scream, thrashing against the rope, rubbing his skin raw and red. Yet his shriek was cut short when someone slapped him across the face, luring tears from his eyes and gasp from his throat.

"Shut up." They spat- a woman with eyes like knives, puncturing his own. Ryan's heart was shivering, anxiety crawling into his chest, burrowing in the bottom of his lungs. Breathing was chore as he peered around, met with ripped up carpet, an empty bedframe, and stone wall, residue of wallpaper hanging onto the support beams.

His captors were all unfamiliar people: the woman with the knife eyes, a blond man with thick muscles, two thin twins who watching him with big eyes, hands like serpents as they twitched. And at the back was someone Ryan couldn't make out, face covered with cloth, yet he felt like he'd seen them before.

The sharp-eyed woman kicked him in the shin when Ryan let his head fall back, trying to loosen the ropes around his arms.

"Sit up straight, or else we'll tie up your neck too." She growled, making Ryan's stomach quiver. This wasn't orchestrated by Dallon at all- where was Dallon? Why wasn't he coming to save him from whoever these people were?

Ryan didn't mean to whine, but the thought of Dallon gone pulled the sound up from the depths of his chest, a feeble little noise. If Dallon didn't come soon, he might drop- a different type of drop, one caused by withdrawal of Dallon. He could already feel it start to coil around the bottom of his stomach, coaxing more whimpers and cries out of him as he struggled to breathe normally.

"Shut-" This time it was the blond man hitting him, making his cheek sting worse than when Ronnie had punched him. "-Up."

Ryan wished Ronnie was here. Anything would be better than being watched like a zoo animal, uncertain why he was even here, or how he ended up in this situation.

He tried screaming again, praying that someone, anyone would hear him. It earned Ryan another kick to the shin, thick-soled boot leaving an imprint on his skin, another wail working its way out of him.

"Get his tongue." The knife-eyed woman grabbed an actual knife from inside the bedframe, making Ryan writhe away from her, chair legs scratching against the wooden floorboards.

The blond man grabbed his chin with one hand and the back of his head with the other, holding the crying Ryan in place.

"Open your mouth." He snarled after ripping off the tape, letting Ryan take in a few laboured breaths before screaming at the top of his lungs, silenced by a slap.

Ryan shook his head, internally praying to Dallon, begging him to come down and save him. He wasn't an idiot- Dallon couldn't communicate telepathically, and neither could he. But it was the only thing he could chant in his mind as the blond man pinched his nose shut, forcing him to breathe from his mouth, hiding his tongue far back.

He could feel himself slowly descend into the dark, so alone it stung. Ryan was dropping, the weight of the entire world on his shoulders, everything too much to handle. Dallon- he needed Dallon to calm him, to hold him close and stroke his hair, to mutter reassurances into his ear.

But a drop without the comfort of Dallon was dangerous, one that would only end in despair, heart impaled by poison-covered nails. A halo of dark clouds surrounded him, only making Ryan sink deeper and deeper into the mud of the drop, suffocating on loneliness and misery.

The blond man's fingers tasted like pure alcohol when he grabbed Ryan's tongue and yanked it out of his mouth, making Ryan choke on his cry. It made his jaw ache to be held in that position, a string of drool falling out of his mouth, watching with eyes the size of plates as the woman brought the knife down to his tongue.

She dragged the tip across, making Ryan wail and cough on his own spit, trying to pull his tongue out of the man's grip. But his fingers only tightened, painted with the blood that surfaced from the cuts, fist full of Ryan's hair.

When she was finally done etching the cuts onto his tongue, she stepped back and smiled, a phony gentle one that taunted Ryan.

"All done- that'll shut you up..." She flung the knife carelessly over to the bedframe, clanging against whatever other torture instruments they had brought.

Tears were streaming down his face, every sob muddled by the tang of blood in his mouth, tender cuts lining his tongue. They stung more with every movement, making it impossible to swallow, red-coloured drool dripping down his chin.

Ryan didn't care that he was crying freely. He didn't care that they all watched him with half-smiles, leaving him to suffer on his own. He didn't even care that these people were servants- all wearing some variation of Dallon's uniform, fabric wrinkled and creased.

All he wanted was for Dallon to come and save him, to hurt these bad people who cut his tongue. But with every painstaking second that passed, it was clear no one was coming for Ryan.

Dallon wasn't coming.

Ryan stopped squirming in the rope and accepted defeat, every hiccup bringing him a whole new bouquet of pain. It was like he had eaten rose stems, thorns continuously pricking his tastebuds, scathing his tongue.

The unidentifiable servant stayed far away, not joining their partners in teasing Ryan.

"What's wrong? Why don't you tell us?" They all laughed, feeding off of Ryan's injury. He wept and wept until he could barely breathe, crying so hard his nose started to bleed, running down his face onto his pajama shirt.

It was so uncomfortable on the chair, Ryan forgot he was still wearing a teeshirt and loose pants, sticking to his body with sweat. All he could think about was how Dallon wasn't going to save him, how these monsters would probably kill him, and how badly his tongue was hurting.

Ryan coughed and gagged when they lit their cigarettes, blowing the smoke into his face. He could stomach Ronnie's old smoking habits, and sure, he had tried his fair share of nicotine products, but he couldn't deal with it like this.

"What a spoiled little princess," One of the twins sneered, hissing through crooked teeth. "Gonna cry for your daddy?"

Ryan couldn't stand that. Dallon loved to spoil him and take care of him , but their relationship was nothing like that. It made his skin crawl, trying to reach his hands high enough to cover his ears and muffle their torment, the disgusting things they said.

Ryan regretting crying out when they pushed their cigarette butts into his skin, burning red circles into his arms. Every sound that left his mouth amplified the pain, rooting from the base of his tongue, razor sharp incisions. He'd become so accustomed to the taste of blood it was second nature, filling his mouth, head feeling woozy.

It had been forever since he first woke up- what time was it? The room had no windows, leaving his stomach growling for food, sweat pooling under his arms. His captors were beginning to get bored too, sitting around the walls of the room, spitting an insult at him whenever their conversation would lull.

That was, before the knife-eyed woman returned from wherever she had disappeared to. The mystery servant had left with her, but they didn't accompany the woman back, a tattered piece of paper in her hand.

On the paper was handwriting Ryan had seen before, letters loopy and thin.

Dallon's.

"Hey princess," She said, unfolding the paper and making a face as she scanned the page. "Why don't we read some of your daddy's poetry? He's never gonna find your body anyways..."

Ryan frantically shook his head, floundering in the chair, trying to turn away from her piercing gaze. That name made him sick to his stomach, especially how they referenced that he would die.

Dallon had promised he'd never die. Dallon promised that he'd never be hurt again, and here he was, tied up to a chair, coughing up blood. The way his skin still felt the ghost of the cigarette burns made him was to peel it off, a never ending tunnel of torture.

Dallon would've never wanted this. Then why did he let it happen? Why did Dallon just let them take Ryan, let them do such horrible stuff?

'It's because he doesn't love you anymore.' He thought, a fresh batch of tears stinging at his eyes. 'He's never coming back. You're gonna die alone.'

"The love of my life." The woman started reading the paper, snickering at Dallon's words. "Our hands fit perfectly together like they were made for it. My purpose is to cup his face when the rain finds the sunshine in his eyes, and to hold him until he's steady enough to stand on his own. I love the mornings when he climbs on top of me, the nights when he cuddles in the crook of my neck, the days when he holds my hand the entire day because he's being extra clingy and I love it."

They all grimaced at that sentence, eating up the crystal tears that slid down his face and his choked-up whines. Dallon really did love him. But this was the last thing he'd hear of his boyfriend, the beautiful words written about him. It made his heart ache, craving the safety of Dallon's embrace, the slenderness of his fingers.

Ryan regretted not marrying Dallon sooner. It was something he fantasized about on the daily, the matching wedding bands they'd wear, the eternal love they'd share every day. Ryan didn't need a wedding band to confirm his love for Dallon, but it meant so much more, a promise to forever stay by his side.

He knew how scared Dallon was of losing him, and if the demon really didn't know where he was, Ryan felt awful. Dallon tended to lose all composure whenever Ryan had left the house, meeting him at the door with a deep kiss and a million questions about what had happened. Ryan knew it was because Dallon had lost a lot of things in his lifetime and had serious attachment issues, but deep down inside him, Ryan loved being treated like that. Loved it when Dallon put his possessive hands on him and told him how much he owned Ryan, how no one else would ever touch him again.

Fat chance of that. Ryan was bleeding and burnt, bruises starting to flourish on his shins. He was the worst damaged good at the supermarket, the can of soup someone had run over with a truck. A voodoo doll of someone's enemy- all that was missing were the needles sticking out of him, or buttons sewn onto his eyes, like in that creepy children's movie.

The woman continued reading. "I love painting his face pink, I love when he won't look me in the eyes because he's worried I'll see right through him. I love him more than words can describe, yet here I am, giggling and writing about a cute boy like a schoolchild. I love him like the morning dew loves rose petals, like war loves the unfortunate and like beauty loves Ryan." The woman fake gagged when she finished reading Dallon's words, manicured nails ripping up the paper. Ryan whimpered and mumbled incomprehensible pleads, tongue sitting oddly in his mouth. His cheeks and eyes burned, swollen beyond recognition, no more tears left in him. Crying was futile- he was going to die.

She dropped the pieces right in front of Ryan, watching with a smug grin as he wriggled against the bounds, trying to reach it. He wanted to feel something that Dallon had touched, to say one last goodbye to the man he loved more than anything in the world.

But the shreds remained still, Dallon's cursive letters sitting just out of reach, the worst taunt in the world. Ryan drew in ragged breaths, hair sticking to his forehead, nose bleed slowing down.

Did these people have hearts of stone? Did they not feel any pity for him, sobbing and struggling against the rope, begging for Dallon to save him through blurry words. Speaking was torture, swallowing was torture, breathing was torture. His throat was made of sandpaper, carrying the same type of dryness as the desert did. Water was the only thing he wanted more than Dallon, to flood the sands filtering through his throat.

Ryan's eyes caught someone else's, full of pity, but it wasn't a human's. In the top corner of the room was a spider, every one of its eyes carrying sympathy for Ryan, scuttling out of sight after sharing an invisible apology.

Great, now spiders were talking to him. It wasn't like he was scared of them, just like he wasn't scared of the dark- in fact, they had always fascinated him. But a spider wasn't the ideal companion in a situation like this; what was it supposed to do?

If only Dallon were here. Ryan had no doubt that he'd strangle every one of these thugs, eyes bleeding with fury and century-old instincts. And then he'd take Ryan into his hands so gently, would fix up his cuts and burns, would hold him like he was a porcelain doll and ease his terrified mind.

Ryan found himself smiling at the thought, so completely worn out he couldn't hide it.

"What the fuck is so funny?" The blond man got up from where they were playing cards on the floor, approaching Ryan, violence radiating off of him.

Ryan shook his head, smile disappearing from his face, replaced with the tremble of his bottom lip.

"You haven't gotten enough to wipe off that grin?" He clenched his fist, sending shivers down Ryan's spine. Ryan shrunk down in the chair, cowering under the beefy man's gaze.

The man weighted his options for a few moments, gears churning behind his ocean blue eyes.

That was, before he decided on smacking Ryan across the face, knuckles sinking into his cheek. Ryan cried out before everything started to dim, head falling limp, darkness filling his eyes. He must have been crying so hard that his body was forcing him to sleep, worn down to his bare, mind shutting down.

The last thing he saw before becoming unconscious was the spider, staring at him with its beady red eyes from the corner of the room, mercy hidden in the pink highlights.

And as he fell asleep watching the spider, a name fell out of his mouth. It might have been because of his exhaustion, or maybe it was because it was the only person he could think about, or maybe it was because he kind of resembled the critter...

"Dallon?"

- DALLON -

Ryan wasn't there.

The other side of the bed was cold that morning when Dallon woke up. The entirety of the blanket was still on him, which was weird, considering how much Ryan loved to steal it. Dallon's body ran warmer than a human's, so he didn't mind it when he'd wake up and see his angel bundled up in their blankets.

He wasn't completely worried at the beginning- Ryan could've gotten hungry, or gone to the bathroom, or decided to get up before Dallon. But the way his head was throbbing made it hard to consider the rational options, a thick fog clouding his brain. Maybe he should get up and check on Ryan.

Dallon slipped on some more presentable clothes, trying to ignore the waves of dizziness that made him want to topple over. Yet the washroom was empty, along with the study, the kitchen, the piano room and every other room Dallon rushed to.

"Ryan?" His voice was just as unsteady as his stomach was, the ache in his mind growing worse with every room that held the absence of Ryan.

No no no no. Ryan was here. Ryan wasn't gone- he couldn't be gone. Ryan couldn't be gone. Couldn't be gone.

Dallon's mind hadn't done this in a while- whenever his terrible emotions would become too strong too cope with, it'd get stuck in a loop, repeating thoughts over and over until insanity nestled itself in his brain.

The demon took a deep breath, grabbing onto the wire railing for balance. He wasn't completely stuck yet- there was still time before the dark found him, seeping into his pores, sharpened claws sinking deep into him.

Ryan wasn't gone. There were still other rooms Dallon hadn't checked. Not gone. Not gone. He's not gone.

Dallon didn't care that others were staring at him with wide eyes, frightened by the intensity in his eyes, jumping away from him. Every door that swung open only revealed another empty room, Ryan nowhere to be found.

The petit Indian girl who first greeted them- Dallon needed to talk to her, to have everyone searching. It wasn't like Ryan could've just disappeared... could he?

He scampered down hallways, peeking into every room, letting the disappointment wash over him when Ryan wasn't there. It was always 'he'll be in the next room,', holding his breath in anticipation, waiting to be greeted with Ryan's wide smile. Yet the rooms only held strangers to Dallon, not the love of his life, waiting for Dallon to come find him.

Dallon shoved away the hideous thoughts that dug at his head, itching at the boundaries of his sanity.

'Ryan left you. He didn't want to be with you anymore.' That all jeered, laughing at him with obnoxious tones. 'He's gone forever. He never loved you.'

It took all of Dallon's power not to fall to his knees and start weeping, frustrated screams rising in his throat, bitter when he swallowed them back.

No. Ryan would never leave him. Never leave, Ryan would never leave.

The sun outside was shining. Why was it shining? Ryan wasn't here. There's no point of having a sun if Dallon couldn't share it's beauty with his love. Dallon hated the sun without his sunshine.

The torrential rainstorm inside Dallon's mind was threatening to fall, it's black sludge starting to fill his mind with images of Ryan's dead body, horrendously twisted in abhorrent positions.

"No... no!" Dallon whimpered, hands racing to his head to yank at his hair. Another empty room, another empty room. He almost fell down the stairs, long legs tripping over each other as he ran into another empty room.

Ryan was here. Yes, he was here. Dallon would find him unharmed. It would be a joke they told each other for years to come. The day Dallon couldn't find Ryan.

But what if he never found Ryan again? Dallon didn't want to live in a world without Ryan, without his bright giggle, the life behind his eyes, the way his ragged hands found Dallon's in the middle of the night. Dallon didn't want to live in a world where Ryan didn't exist, where he'd never be able to dance or laugh or make love with Ryan again.

"Sir, what's wrong?" It was Aliyah, watching Dallon cautiously. She was having tea with another maid in some common room, her long black braid of hair fallen over her turquoise pajamas. Dallon didn't even care that she wasn't wearing proper uniform. How could he care about anything when Ryan wasn't here to care about it with him?

"I can't find Ryan. I-I can't find him." Dallon choked out, holding his head in his hands, trying to steady himself.

Ryan's here Ryan's here Ryan's here. He's here.

"We'll have everyone look for him sir, but-" Aliyah glanced to her friend, accepting her shrug as an answer. "I'm sure he's somewhere in the manor. It is a very big building, your majesty."

"I don't care. Nothing gets done until Ryan is found." Dallon stumbled over the floor on his way out, gripping onto the railing so tightly his knuckles were as white as his pupils.

Everyone searched all afternoon- Dallon had woken up rather late- and there was still no news of his love. Dallon didn't have time to curl up in a little ball, instead he examined every nook and cranny, mind slowly descending into the dark place, where all his voices loved to torment him.

It felt like it was a game God was playing, getting Dallon's hopes up when he'd hear a rustle, only to discover it was a servant. He had picked up Ryan's habit of gnawing at his lip, wiping away the beads of blood that surfaced when he accidentally bit too hard.

Dallon had never been this desperate, not even when his favourite kids at the orphanage had gotten adopted, knowing that he'd never see them again. No, nothing compared to the pit laying in his stomach, dread growing with every empty room.

The sun only shined brighter outside, like it was mocking him. Nothing deserved to be bright and happy until Ryan was found- Dallon didn't care what it was. It should be pouring outside, a bleak and dreary day to reflect his emotions.

"Sir, your majesty," Aliyah caught up to Dallon in one of the halls, a mournful look behind her round eyes. "We've swept the entire building... I'm sorry, but he's not here."

Red began to blur his vision, everything going numb and grey. Dallon needed to get somewhere safe where he could fall apart before he did something irrational, something that happened when he was at his worst. Except this was worse than his worst- this was a whole new level of pain Dallon had never felt, heart torn into pieces that were swallowed up by his grief, body too heavy to move.

Somehow, he found himself in their bedroom, flopping onto the bed. Today didn't feel real; it felt like one of the living nightmares that inhabited his mind, a plague of poisonous thoughts corroding away at his brain until he had lost every sane thought.

Dallon tried to sleep that night. Tried to lay down in bed and ease his restless mind, to slip away into a deep slumber where everything would be forgotten.

But he couldn't. He couldn't lay there alone, quietness hanging in the air so thick it screamed in his ears.

The bed was too empty without Ryan, a constant reminder that his love was nowhere to be found. The absence of the man left the bed cold and unwelcoming, brimming with jagged thoughts, crystals that were sharp and ice cold. They impaled Dallon's heart as he turned over, facing where Ryan usually slept.

He could barely stand it. The vacancy of the spot in the crook of Dallon's neck was gaping, so empty it hurt. Ryan loved to rest his head there, buried in the safety of Dallon, somewhere that didn't know pain. But now, the only thing Dallon could feel was pain. Ryan's favourite spot was so hollow it stung, a biting coldness that crawled up Dallon's neck, nesting itself in the depths of his body.

Dallon couldn't lay down and pretend everything was alright. That might be what he would've done months ago, before he knew what love and warmth felt like. He would've played a fruitless game and pretend that Ryan was right next to him, nuzzling his chest and sharing the good type of silence, the one where no words were needed because they both knew what the other was going to say.

The new Dallon wasn't going to rest until he got his love back, unharmed and safe. He would trample every single flower in that field, steal the life from every living thing in this prison of a palace if it meant Ryan would come back to him. Yet he was too weak to stand anymore, thought after thought bombarding his brain.

Dallon gripped onto the pillow and inhaled it's scent, fibers lingering with Ryan's shampoo. That alone triggered the violent rainfall in his mind, eyes drooling with black tears, dying the white pillow a grey.

Sob after sob left him, muffled by Ryan's pillow, burying his face further and further in it.

Ryan was gone.

Why should Dallon even live anymore? No one cared about him except for Ryan. He was a pest to everyone else, a grotesque monster that came down from Earth and made everyone's lives more difficult. Dallon didn't even care about himself.

Come to think of it, before Ryan, Dallon had never cared about anything. Sure, he loved to travel and read books, but the only thing stopping him from dying was his hope that one day things would get better.

And they had- just for what? For Dallon to lose Ryan, sour bugs crawling up his spine, through his neck, all the way up his spinal cord until they chewed away at his brain. Their little fangs inhabited every nerve ending, filling their stomachs while Dallon's was empty. Nothing happened until Ryan got back, which included eating, not that Dallon cared about that either.

He clawed at the pillow, the sheets, anything in reach. It was torture, that hollowness that made home in his chest, like someone had scooped out his heart with a spoon.

What kind of guardian angel was he? He let Ryan get abducted, and now he was probably dead. Ryan was probably dead and it was all Dallon's fault.

This wasn't one of his ordinary breakdowns. Dallon felt like the warmth in his life had been ripped from him, leaving him a cold shell of a person with no will to keep living. He had tried so hard to protect Ryan, to keep him healthy and happy, just for what? For him to leave, just how everything good in Dallon's life always left. No one else had ever given Dallon a second glance; no one had ever looked at him the way Ryan did. Yet now he was alone again, choking on despair, a hole in his heart.

Every other breakdown in Dallon's history had been from his appearance. Glances in a mirror, seeing his reflection in a puddle, a shriek from a human. His emotions were on a tripwire, one incident away from a night of tears and dysmorphia.

But this breakdown was different- Ryan, the only person Dallon had ever loved, had ever felt a deep sense of protection towards, was gone. Dallon had failed at his one purpose, and now Ryan could be in danger's way, and it was all his fault. That realization knocked all the wind out of Dallon's lungs, a whine threatening to burst from his lips, face buried in Ryan's pillow. It stung horrendously, the knowledge that it was his fault that Ryan was gone, hands trembling.

And just when Dallon thought it wouldn't get any worse, it did. A different type of pain started at the bottom of his spine, a tiny knot of throbbing ache that grew larger with every gasp he drew in. It fed off his movements, pushing and pulling at his muscle strings, playing them like a harp. The agony seemed to jump on his nerves, stomping its feet on his spinal cord until Dallon was writhing on the bed, sheets tangled around his spasming legs.

Growing pains.

Not the ordinary type of growing pains. Dallon hadn't had a proper fit of them for years, something he had been treasuring. But it decided to sneak up on him while he was in a dark headspace, a cavern of crystallized harm.

A wounded howl ripped at his throat, making him bite the pillow to silence his cries. It hurt especially around his back where his tendrils sprouted, a tender area that was on fire and frozen at the same time. Dallon never knew what caused it, only that some higher power was pulling at the threads of his body, winding his's veins around it's finger.

"Ryan... Ryan..." Dallon called out for him even though he knew he wouldn't be there. His teeth were sunken into the pillow, fists full of blanket, body arching on the bed as the throbbing infected every limb. Dallon didn't remember them being this bad, making his hands scrabble at his skin, wishing he could cut off his tendrils and end the torment.

His hand accidentally met with his face, long nails scratching his cheek, leaving a new batch of open cuts. Dallon wanted to crawl out of his skin, knees jamming into the mattress, covering his head with the pillow as blood started to ooze from the cuts.

"Please... make it stop..." He whimpered, voice ragged, like a satin cloth with rips in it. There was no end, misery swimming through his arteries, body tossed around by whatever curse inhabited him. Biting his tongue wasn't enough to stop his screams, the acidic taste of his own blood filling his mouth, dripping past his parted lips onto the bed below him.

Dallon only knew one way to deal with the pain, something he had vowed to never do again. Who fucking cared? Ryan was gone, and no one else cared enough about him to stop him from cutting himself.

The drawer in his nightstand was empty except for one thing, something Dallon had placed there in the hopes he'd never need to use it.

It was a dagger, decorated with golden roses around the handle, shaking in Dallon's grasp. He flipped it around in his fingers, smudged with the ink of his tears and blood like a pen that exploded. His gut cramped up at the sight, tiny mewls and hiccups falling past his lips.

Gone. Ryan's gone, and this is what you deserve. You made him leave.

Dallon only cut himself when he wanted his pain to focus somewhere else, somewhere he could control. And right now he was dealing with the worst pain of his life, body twitching with every elbow to his spine, every punch to his chest.

He held his arm wrist up, pressing the tip of the dagger into the middle, teeth clamped down on the inside of his cheeks. It was a much bigger cut than he'd ever made, going straight down his arm, prodding around his insides with the knife, opening it wider.

Dallon gagged at the sight of the inside of him, everything black and rotten, bones sticking to muscle with strings of blood. It hurt so bad, but not as bad as the knowledge that Ryan was as good as dead.

A movement caught his eye, something slithering around in the depths of his arm. As much as he hated it, Dallon reached down into the incision, fingers pushing past lax muscle and bone. Blood gushed out over the sides, but he was more intrigued by whatever he saw crawling around inside him, trying to steady his trembling hand.

His fingers finally latched onto something that didn't belong, wriggling and struggling in his hold. Dallon pulled it out, his physical pain dying out, except for the open cut on his arm and the scratches to his face.

It was completely dark against the dim room, curtains pulled closed, lights off. Dallon turned on the lamp with his free hand, stomach churning at what he had pulled out from inside him.

A newt, with two beady eyes and a slimy tail, flailing in his two fingers.

Raw fury overcame Dallon, disgusted by such a gross creature living in him. It might have been the hysterical state he was in, or how weakened the rational part of his brain had become, but Dallon had never hated anything more than that revolting little reptile, tiny scales shining with his blood.

Dallon gritted his teeth and squeezed it hard, fist shaking, watching it squirm in his hand until it's slim body stopped moving.

Satisfied, he let it's corpse fall to the ground, a realization settling down on him.

He killed it. He killed a hopeless little creature- a tiny newt who lived inside him. He took its life away with his bare hands, just like he took away the life of countless people.

Just like he let Ryan get killed.

Dallon began to sob again, heart twisting with agony, covering his eyes with his hands. It's dead, they're all dead. All because of Dallon.

It couldn't fight back. All it could do was let Dallon clench his fist around it's airway, crushing it in a sudden rage. Just what he had done to all his other victims, hundreds of murders spanning centuries.

He was a monster. Dallon held his shaky hands in front of him, covered in the ink of his tears, trying to stop the repetitive hiccups that made his head jerk up. The hands that killed so many people, including the tiny newt, feeding off his insides.

Carelessly, he threw the dagger across the room, not watching where it landed. He was so numb to everything around him he didn't hear it clang against the bell, or the door creak open, someone's gasp breaking the harsh silence.

It was Brendon, the servant who taught Ryan piano, stunned speechless in the doorway, staring at Dallon with unhidden horror.

"I- I- I'm n-not gonna hu-hu-" Dallon was having trouble getting the rest of the word out, hiccuping and sniffling through the sentence, a lump in his throat. "-hurt you. I p-promise."

Those words were too familiar, making Dallon choke on his whimper and start bawling all over again, more tears slipping down his burning cheeks. It was what Ryan had told him when he was stuck in his closet, a scared beast that Ryan tamed with his gentle words and unconditional love.

God, if only Ryan could see him now. A painting someone had spilled ink on, two holes cut out for his eyes, a tear in the canvas on his arm.

Ryan would be disappointed that Dallon resorted to cutting himself. He would clean him up and kiss every cut, gripping onto Dallon's fingers as he would coo sweet words into the demon's skin, dragging his lips across the gashes.

Dallon wanted nothing more than that. But the reminder was blaring in his mind, like a broken coo coo clock, the words stinging into the folds of his brain until they were part of him.

Ryan was gone.

Brendon slowly shuffled towards Dallon, holding his hands out defensively. "A-Are you okay?"

Dallon shook his head, looking down at his slacks, splattered with black drops. It was hard to tell what was blood and what was tears, not that it mattered anyways. He had learned the hard way that both of them stain, leaving a permanent collage of bad memories.

"It hurts with him gone, doesn't it?" Brendon's voice was soft, sitting next to Dallon on the edge of the bed. Dallon nodded solemnly, catching his breath in short stutters, hands on his knees.

Brendon was quiet for a few moments, letting the two of them exchange silent apologies, unsure what they were for.

"Do you want some help sewing that up...?" Brendon spoke up, treating Dallon like a wounded animal, cold hands pressed to the sweltering skin on his uninjured arm. Dallon flinched when he first laid his hands on his arm, leaning into the coolness, breaths evening out. Ordinarily he'd peek into Brendon's mind and see if he knew where Ryan was, but Dallon was so encompassed by his loss he couldn't bother to.

Hesitantly, Dallon nodded, hand searching through the second drawer of his nightstand for his needle and thread. The only one he had was the shiny gold thread, kept in there in case a button went loose.

Brendon took the needle and spool wordlessly, threading it through the hole on his first try. Dallon laid his arm on Brendon's lap, accepting help from a complete stranger, fighting the urge to heave at the sight of his insides.

So much adrenaline was pumping through him that Dallon was numb to the needle, poking through the edges of his cuts, criss-cross patterns bringing the skin back together. Brendon's eyebrows furrowed as he focused, hands steady as opposed to Dallon's.

The gold thread entwined with his skin reminded him of a Japanese art he'd read about; Kintsugi, the art of fixing broken items with gold. The cracks were seen as part of the history of the item, rather than something to be covered up.

While his mind was elsewhere then, later, he liked to think that the cuts were a part of his history, gold stitches out for everyone to see. Dallon hid most of his body behind sleeves and fabric, but maybe this once, he should show his cuts and scars rather than pretend they didn't exist.

Brendon tied a small knot at the end once he finished, a gentle smile on his face. The smile reminded Dallon of a father, something he'd never had, though he'd read about countless fathers protecting their families. Dallon didn't have the energy to smile back, but he nodded, an unheard 'thank you' passing through them.

Then he had to let Brendon touch his face, one part of him he hated other people touching. Only Ryan was granted the privilege of feeling his face, the rough skin of his fingers tracing lines from his lips to his forehead, kissing and fondling Dallon's delicate skin.

But now he had to let Brendon sew up the scratches on his left cheek, the lines his nails had dug, dripping with his syrupy blood. Dallon kept subconsciously backing away from Brendon when he reached for his cheek, mumbling "sorry," and moving closer again.

Eventually, Dallon stayed still long enough for Brendon to sew up his entire cheek, patting him on the shoulder when he was done.

Brendon disappeared silently into the hall, leaving Dallon to move his jaw, adjusting to the new additions.

If Ryan was here, he'd kiss away the ache, telling Dallon how pretty his stitches looked. But Ryan wasn't here, and Dallon had to deal with it on his own.

All on his own.

He staggered to the bathroom, wishing he was going in there carrying Ryan, not to wipe the blood off his face and hands.

Dallon recoiled at the sight of himself in the mirror, whimpering at how much he despised his appearance, especially right now.

'This is why Ryan left.' The voice hissed, more gooey tears running down his face, joining the splatters in the sink. 'You're disgusting. You're a nightmare- why would an angel like Ryan ever want to be with you?'

Dallon gasped for air, hands slipping on the counter, leaving black fingerprints. He couldn't take his eyes off the blank ones in the mirror, holding zero emotion. What was wrong with him?

The water turned black with his blood as he washed off his face, pushing and pulling at his cheek, fighting the urge to scratch up all of his skin. He was right. Ryan didn't want to be with someone so ugly, so riddled with issues, a demon who never learned how to deal with his feelings.

Dallon leaned over the sink, silent tears slipping down his cheeks, watching as his lips became painted with ink.

"Ugly..." He mumbled, grabbing fistfuls of his hair and pulling, leaning into the pain. "Ugly... ugly... ugly!"

Dallon sunk to his knees, cradling his head in his hands, body shaking. He hated himself so much, it was almost unbearable to live. He could almost taste the pure hatred he felt, a vile poison coating his tongue, bitterness crawling up from the back of his throat.

Dead. Ryan's dead because of you. He left you and now he's dead. It's your fault.

It was no longer the voice in Dallon's head telling him these things. It was him, his own voice ringing through his head, words searing into his brain until they were common knowledge.

The bathroom floor was tiled, making a terrible mattress as Dallon laid down, facing that cabinet. He didn't have the energy to get up and get into bed, where he was met with reminders of Ryan at every turn.

He wrapped his tendrils around himself, drawing in ragged breaths, bringing himself back to life.

"One, two, three, four..." Dallon whispered to himself, counting to the beat of his heart in his ears, something he did with Ryan when he needed to be grounded. He rocked himself, listening to his own heartbeat like he'd listen to Ryan's, holding his hand to his chest. "...five, six, seven, eight..."

A random thought popped up in the back of his mind, one that he'd never had before.

'You need to learn to love yourself before you can fully love Ryan.'

Dallon shook his head, burying the idea far back in his brain. It seemed bizarre- impossible even. Dallon was created to be unlovable, and the only person who had ever loved him was gone.

It took a while, but Dallon begun to drift off to sleep, eyelids growing heavy. Tears dripped down onto the floor, puddles of black surrounding his head as his eyelids danced open and closed, determined to stay awake.

Before completely falling asleep, Dallon watched a spider crawl past him on the bathroom floor, eyes blurry and hazy.

Hand half limp, he crushed it under his fist, letting out one last sob before his mind shut off.

He killed the ugly spider. He killed it.

Yet it was the one creature he felt no remorse for killing.

- BRENDON -

He should've never intervened.

The internal battle between right and wrong was violent, two sides butting heads, worlds of good and bad colliding.

The first thing Brendon did that morning was creep into room 007, hiding his face behind part of a sheet he cut out. The room was pitch black when he snuck in, sticking to the back wall, hands fumbling. Brendon wanted nothing less then to bump into one of the servants, beyond terrified they'd see the fear in his eyes and beat him to a pulp.

Yet when the light flickered on, the whole gang was there. Muscular man, oily hair woman, and the two hyena twins. He couldn't tell whether they were girls or boys, blond hair choppy, fringe covering their eyes. The reason Brendon nicknamed them hyenas was because they laughed like one, a disturbing duo of nasally giggles.

Brendon's stomach twisted at the sight of Ryan, eyes widening at the sight of everyone, a shriek filling the room.

"Shut up." Oily hair slapped him across the face, making Brendon gasp and press his back against the wall.

Ryan had a look in his eyes, the one look all fathers hated alike: a terrorized child.

Brendon had seen it on his own kids faces only a few times, when Sarah would get too weak to walk, or when Brendon would come home too late from a job. But Ryan's fear was much worse than Abby's or Tyler's.

He could practically see Ryan vibrating, pure panic behind his deep-set eyes, blue hair knotted and tangled. It made Brendon's heart writhe, wishing he could go out and stand up to those bullies.

Ryan flopped back against the head of the chair, trying to slink out of the ropes. It took all of Brendon not to go over and untie them, instead rubbing his invisible wedding band. He couldn't believe he signed up for this- Brendon didn't want this. He didn't want it at all.

That stupid devil on his shoulder had shriveled up and died, leaving his angel in full steer. But that was his downfall- all it had to say was rude things, chastising Brendon's decisions.

'Look what you've done! A poor, innocent man is tied up and being tortured, and all you're doing is standing there!' It's megaphone rung in his ear, glowing halo knocking against Brendon's temples. '-and now you can't do anything or else you'll be killed, or fired. Or maybe both.'

The thud of rubber against bone silenced Brendon's shoulder angel, making him flinch and hit his head against the wall. Oily hair had kicked Ryan's leg, and he whimpered in response, the same type of whimpers Tyler made when he scraped his knee.

"Sit up straight, or else we'll tie up your neck too." She rolled her eyes, ignoring his little sobs.

Ryan's noises of pain were aggravating the group further, while they only struck Brendon's heart in his weakest spots. Nobody liked to hear someone cry, but Brendon couldn't handle it. All he could think about was his own kids crying at home, starving and missing their father. All Brendon wanted to do was hug Ryan and reassure him, just how he would to his own children.

"Shut up." Ryan was slapped again. Brendon covered his mouth as he gasped again, terrified for not only Ryan's life, but for his own.

If these people saw any tenderness in Brendon's eyes towards Ryan, they'd do exactly what they were doing to him. Yet Brendon's life didn't matter as much as his- no one would care if he went missing. Brendon could only imagine Dallon's face right now, the same face he imagined Sarah making at home.

Brendon had seen the love they shared. The heart-eyed smiles, the kisses that lingered for a second too long, the hands threaded together at every second. Him and Sarah didn't have time for that type of love, the physical kind where there was nothing to worry about in the world. But it seemed like the only thing Dallon and Ryan thought about, holding onto each other as Brendon watched from the shadows, and now, a bedsheet.

When he couldn't stomach the second-hand pain anymore, he went back upstairs into the overworld of the underworld, met with frenzied servants, a sea of worried faces that parted around him.

"What's going on?" Brendon grabbed some random girl's shoulder, ignoring the puzzled look she gave him.

"One of the kings went missing and our majesty has declared emergency. Why aren't you looking?" She shot him a dirty look, ruffling her plain dress and re-tying her apron before darting in another direction.

Brendon's heart was pounding in his ears, forehead blossoming with sweat. Dallon was distressed- and if he knew Brendon was in on it, he'd rip him to shreds, no doubt.

He was stuck at an impasse; no matter what path he went down, he'd be met with a terrible fate. Tell Dallon, get fired or killed. Stand up to Ryan's abusers and get killed. Stay silent and rot from the inside, and be found eventually.

Brendon ran to his bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, calming his trembling hands. What was he supposed to do? It felt like the truth was written all over his face, and he was waiting for someone to read it and tear him up.

All he could see was the red streaming down Ryan's face, the heart-breaking whimpers that fell out of his blood-stained lips. His clothes felt too tight on his skin- he didn't deserve such fancy things while being a crook, an accomplice to a kidnapping.

The faint sound of a bell ringing made Brendon's stomach jump, heart leaping into his throat. Dallon wanted to see him- and Brendon was worried he'd see right through his wall of lies.

He sulked upstairs, feet heavier than the weight on his shoulders. Life hadn't been as hard as the afterlife was, and Brendon had had a difficult life.

Brendon pushed open the bedroom door, reeling away at the sight of Dallon, perched on the edge of the bed. Black tears were spilling down his face, iris-less eyes widened in horror, like Brendon was the terrifying monster.

As a child, Brendon hadn't watched very many movies except for the melodramatic soap operas his aunt's friends left at their house. The TV's volume was always too high or too low, but those insane movies left young Brendon entertained for hours. When his aunt was out at her weekly poker, Brendon would sneak into her bedroom and wrap her multicoloured scarves around his neck, draping himself over the couch and feigning an accent.

But a couple of times Brendon had gotten his hands on a horror VHS tape, the movies he watched in his treasured dress-up time. He'd sit there, clutching the couch pillow, covering his eyes when bloodcurdling screams would fill the room. They were always much too loud, arousing suspicious neighbors.

And one time his aunt came home early when he was dolled up, shrinking away into the cushions, eyes widened in terror at the TV screen. Yet none of the living nightmares in the films even came close to his aunt when she opened the door, waves of anger radiating off of her.

Brendon didn't know that sandal could hurt so bad, or that his aunt cared that much about him wearing women's clothes. It didn't help that night terrors followed him as he slept that night, murderers and creepy little girls that crawled out of TV screens.

Dallon looked like he'd slithered right out of Brendon's old horror movies, sniffling and rubbing the skin around a massive cut on his arm, extra limbs hanging around him like spider legs. Ugh, Brendon hated that thought; it only made him more frightened.

"I- I- I'm n-not gonna hu-hu-" Dallon was stuttering through his words, body shaking with each syllable. "-hurt you. I p-promise."

Even with his promise, Brendon's heart was still thudding in his ears, wishing he had a pillow to clutch. But all of Dallon's pillows were soaked with pitch-black liquid, the same liquid running down his face in thick tears, the same liquid that was spilling out of the cut on his forearm.

Had Dallon... done that to himself? Because Ryan was gone- because of Brendon?

Guilt fell over Brendon in a dark curtain, the same shade of curtains that blocked out all outside light, cloaking both of them in shadows. The shame made his stomach ache, thinking about how Ryan was suffering downstairs while Dallon suffered upstairs.

Brendon sat next to Dallon the bed, trying to avoid staring at the incision, the soft haze of the lamp shining on the open bone and muscles.

"It hurts with him gone, doesn't it?" Brendon didn't know how to speak to Dallon, his gulps for air strangely resembling Ryan's. They whimpered the same way, the frame of his body shaking with every little sniffle, wiping away his tears with the palm of his healthy hand.

Brendon was silent, unsure how to talk Dallon through it. He decided to treat it how he treated Tyler when he'd fall off his rusty bike, when he'd cry and cry until Brendon cleaned his cuts and kissed it better.

Brendon wasn't going to kiss Dallon- especially not when his cheeks were coated in the black ink. But he could comfort him... maybe it would comfort Brendon too, knowing that he could at least help him through it while he carried the knowledge that Ryan was being beat downstairs.

"Do you want some help sewing that up...?" Brendon held onto Dallon's sharp elbow, skin hot against his hands. It hurt his heart when Dallon flinched, looking Brendon up and down with wary eyes, shoulders relaxing.

Brendon took the shimmering thread out of Dallon's hand, the same thread that lined all of the servant's uniforms.

He had some experience in sewing- he made all Tyler and Abby's toys, and some of their clothes. His best work had been Abby's favourite doll, with locks of red wool hair, a polka-dot dress and two mismatched button eyes. Abby couldn't sleep without it, which was proven when it went missing for a few days.

Brendon had left the crib next to the window- already a bad enough situation. Sarah was making dinner with Tyler while Brendon cleaned the room, picking up piles of dirty clothes to clean in the sink after dinner.

He didn't see it happen, but Abby must have thrown the doll out the window, wailing at the absence. Brendon groaned at the prospect of her favourite doll going missing; it meant no sleep for anyone, which meant a miserable day tomorrow.

He rushed down the apartment stairs, thrusting open the door and searching the street below for the red-headed doll, but Brendon had no luck. It was like she had just... disappeared in plain sight.

The next couple of nights were filled with Abby's crying- nothing soothed her, not any of their other sewn dolls. How could a baby get so attached to a pile of felt and miscellaneous fabric sewn together? And more importantly, how could a baby scream so loud for hours on end?

Then, a miracle happened. A few days after losing the doll, she magically reappeared on their counter, in better shape then before. The knots of red wool had been untangled, donning a new outfit and matching buttons, thoroughly washed and cleaned. Brendon's concerns about how someone broke into their apartment were nothing compared to his relief at having that ratty little doll back, especially now that it was durable- not a mishmash of fabric sewn together.

The stitches on Dallon's milky skin resembled the stitches of the doll, shining in the dim light, crisscrossing over the ripped-up grey edges of the cut.

Brendon leaned back, proud of his work. Dallon hadn't moved at all during the entire time- was his tolerance for pain that high?

Then Brendon reached for the scratches on his cheek, just underneath his cheekbone, but Dallon moved away quickly.

"Sorry..." He mumbled, turning away from Brendon. Brendon tried again to hold onto Dallon's jaw, but the demon only backed away again, making Brendon's heart twist.

Eventually, he let Brendon cup his jaw and sew up his cheek, dirtying his hands with Dallon's black blood. It didn't matter much to Brendon; it was the least he could do after bringing this pain onto Dallon.

Brendon's hospitality hadn't cured his remorse though- it still lingered in his chest, the horrible feeling that hung over his head like a bad omen. His shoulder angel had nothing to say about anything now, even though it would still haunt him later, feeding the garden of regret in his head. It was made up of prickly vines, trees that held sour fruit and animals that echoed his worst crimes back to him.

He patted Dallon on the shoulder, a bit intimated by his height, and left him alone on the bed. There wasn't much more Brendon could do, other than tell Dallon, and how was he supposed to do that? Only someone involved in the kidnapping could know where Ryan was, and Brendon didn't think someone so distraught would want to hear his excuses.

Brendon definitely knew that when he first arrived in hell, he didn't listen to any reasoning on why he was there. The only thing filling his head was despair, envy and anger, the ingredients to loss. Those were the emotions that landed him in this mess, and now that his head had started to clear, everything was crashing down on him.

Dallon was likely going through the same thing, and Brendon had no doubt that he wouldn't hesitate to wring Brendon's neck for stealing away Ryan. No matter how badly Brendon wanted to tell him, he prioritized his life, even if that was the selfish option.

Then he thought about his family, and how he'd sacrifice himself for them. Ryan wasn't his family, but he was, by the looks of it, the only member of Dallon's. Brendon didn't know very much about the demon, but he did know how he was feeling, and how desperate he was for Ryan.

Condolence engulfed Brendon, exhausted from the day even though it was just dusk. He found himself back in his bedroom, sun setting outside. Ignoring the cavity in his stomach, he kicked off his shoes, washed his hands and face and clambered into bed, ignoring the thoughts that plagued him.

As Brendon fell asleep, Ryan's tortured screams rang through his conflicted head, alongside Dallon's broken sobs. Fate had separated Brendon from his family, and in multiple moments of resentment, Brendon had separated Ryan from his.

That prospect infested Brendon's mind, making sleep nearly impossible. Their pained cries pestered him just as his children's did, a symphony of anguish caused by Brendon, tormenting him endlessly.

Had he brought this on himself? Had Brendon been too irrational to step back and look at the long run? Spending his money worthlessly, stealing, sitting silently while they abused Ryan beneath him- every mistake in his life had been a product of acting in a moment of pure emotion rather than thinking things out.

If Brendon was going to make the right decision, he'd have to think this through. He was done with making stupid mistakes that bit him in the ass later.

As Brendon finally fell asleep, he spotted an eight-legged creature crawl across the ceiling, red eyes glowing in the darkness.

His decision for change started with his nonsensical fear of spiders. It took a while to convince himself it wouldn't drop down on him while he slept, but eventually, the anxiety passed, and he accepted being near the creature.

It wasn't much, but it was a start.

- END OF ACT 4 -

Chapter Text

- DALLON -

It had been two days.

Two days since Ryan went missing, since Dallon's life crashed down around him.

Two days of darkness, skin dyed a grey because of his constant stream of tears.

Two days of having Brendon sew up every cut he etched onto himself, thankful that the servant never asked any questions.

Dallon woke up at midnight of the second night, body cramped up uncomfortably in the bathtub, eyes swollen and puffy. While crying worn him out to his bones, sleeping was impossible in an empty bed, which was why Dallon found himself sleeping in the empty bath, fully clothed, head resting against the cold wall.

He had picked out the stitches of his original cut, curls of golden thread pulled loose out of his scab, fingers prying at the wound again. It didn't matter how many times Brendon re-did the stitches, Dallon always refused to fight his urges to scratch at it, ignoring the pain it brought.

His head was a graveyard of bruises, constantly throbbing to an uneven circuit of pain, falling limp over his crumpled-up body. Sometimes Dallon would let it smack against the wall, eyes blacking out momentarily before he had to come back to the cruel reality.

Two new cuts had made their home on his left leg, more shallow than the previous. He left those stitches to be, healing up easily, unlike the cavity in his chest.

It was the one cut Brendon couldn't sew up- the hollow cave in his heart, spiked with venom and dead roses, black petals continuously falling from Dallon's eyes. The demon was numb to it by now, the gaping hole that winds flowed through, howls of past memories echoing in his heart.

The voice inside his head had merged with him now; no longer was it a stranger hissing those insults in his ear- it was him. Dallon's own conscience reminded him constantly of his own fault, how he let Ryan disappear because of his own carelessness.

He didn't try to fight it anymore. It was easier to be swept away by its black wave of poison than to wrestle with the thoughts, to be utterly consumed with the shadows of his mind. Dallon's hands furled and unfurled on their own accord, the tiny tingles of stars returning in his fingertips. Falling numb was something that happened too often now, when his own hands on his own skin would scare him, unable to feel their touch.

Brendon had brought him food, brought him water, had knocked on the bathroom door and entered to find him curled up in the bathtub again. Dallon's legs didn't fit properly in the tub, so they hung over the side, shoes balancing precariously from his toes.

Yet Dallon touched none of it. The smell of meat, vegetables or freshly baked bread didn't tempt him at all, food growing as cold as his skin did. How could Dallon eat- no, how could Dallon take care of himself while Ryan was out there, possibly dead?

When he sat up with a groan, Dallon discovered that Brendon had taken away all the food and left water on the counter, the glass magnifying the spider behind it. The spiders were a common reoccurrence; no matter how many Dallon crushed, they'd always return to torment him, inspecting him silently on faraway surfaces.

Dallon stared as the spider climbed up the glass, flipped over the edge and perched itself right above the water, appearing to drink from the glass. He watched blankly as it scurried away to wherever their nest was, somewhere behind the bathroom cabinets.

The demon's legs quivered beneath him as he got up to drink the water, anything to rid his throat of the burning taste that crept up from his stomach. Dallon was too exhausted to care that an arachnid just drank from his water, holding the glass to his lips, slamming it against the counter when he finished draining it.

Another glance in the mirror would've normally brought on a thunderstorm of tears, but this time, Dallon just stared at himself. His lips were stained with the remains of his tears, cracks in them from where his teeth ripped up the skin. The mirror itself was covered in smudges of ink, fingerprints that painted a horrible picture, one of the world Dallon lived in. The world without light.

With no Ryan around, everything was bland and dark. Nothing even mattered anymore- not the sun that wouldn't refuse to stop shining, not the moon that only shed light on Dallon's imperfections, not the decaying roses that lined every room. It was as if someone removed every feeling from the demon, leaving him to wander around aimlessly, braindead and emotionless. A puppet of a demon, insides replaced with stuffing, sewn together at his seams.

The worst things were the hallucinations, when his mind would play a cruel game on him. Dallon would dream that Ryan was laying in the bathtub with him, resting his head on the demon's shoulder, safe and healthy. The hallucinations were so real Dallon could nearly feel his heartbeat and the tickle of his breaths against his neck- but when he heard Ryan's voice, that was when Dallon would reach out for him, met with stale air. Sometimes it'd be mundane things, like asking Dallon to move his arm, or for a kiss; but sometimes it was Ryan's screams, filling Dallon's until he wanted to scream along too, terrified that someone was hurting his angel.

For short moments, when Dallon had the good hallucinations, everything would be warm and full again, that wonderful fuzziness that made his stomach tremble with love. Dallon would replay their dance in his mind, closing his eyes and letting his skull connect with the wall, brought to another land where Ryan's rugged hands still fit in his. But the moment would be tugged down the drain of the bathtub, world left even colder and barren than before.

Dallon paid no attention to the slap of feet outside his room, the soles of shoes meeting with metal, then carpet. He gravely laid back down in the tub, a sigh coming from his chest, joints crackling as he rubbed his cheek.

Jagged white lines were embedded with every inch of skin on his cheeks, scratches from nails that he couldn't stop. It was as if Dallon's body had detached from his brain, and whoever was left in charge wanted to destroy it as much as possible, hands yanking at his hair, horns and skin in sharp movements.

The door swung open and ricocheted off the wall, knocking into Brendon's knees. Dallon didn't jump- only looked up at the servant, eyes heavily lidded, hands fumbling around the shredded fabric of his sleeves.

"Your majesty!" Brendon cried out, a grin on his face. Why was he grinning in a time like this? Did he not realize that life wasn't worth living anymore, not while the world still got to spin while Dallon rotted from the inside?

Dallon raised an eyebrow, bringing his knees to his chest and hugging them, moving his legs out of Brendon's way.

"I- I-" Brendon seemed like he didn't want to spit out whatever news he had, something that annoyed Dallon's dead nerves.

"What is it?" He croaked, voice scraggly and torn up. The window of the bathroom caught the moonlight, spreading it on Brendon's ecstatic face, while it only cast shadows on Dallon's.

"I need you to follow me." Brendon beckoned for Dallon to stand, halfway out the door. Dallon didn't want to leave the safety of the bathtub, the place where his dead body could lay properly, surrounded by the heads of lifeless roses. He could only pray that no one visited his makeshift grave, catching the rose petals between his fingers and letting them crumble to dust, just as his fervor had.

But something in Brendon's voice coaxed him out of the grave, leaning on the walls for balance, listening closely for Brendon's next words- the words that would change his life once again.

"I know where Ryan is."

- RYAN -

The days no longer passed by in hours.

They passed by in moments of pain, each time of day bringing a new type to Ryan. Breakfast was new cuts to his tongue, lunch was stealing more of Dallon's writing and changing the words into something hideous, and dinner was burning his arms with candles.

Of course there was always the snacks in between meals, like kicking and punching and spitting, tangling Ryan's hair and snickering new taunts, chock-full of the worst things Ryan had ever heard. The way they spoke made Ronnie seem like a saint, words replaying in his ears even after they were hissed.

Ryan had been sleeping with one eye open, head flopped to the side, leaving a kink in his neck. He was waiting for them to kill him so that the torture would stop, and he'd finally be able to escape and wither away into the welcoming darkness. She'd wrap her arms around him like his mother used to, letting him burrow in her neck like he did with Dallon, slipping into a comfortable eternity of nothing.

Dallon had explained to Ryan on earth what happened to people who died in hell, either by chance or on purpose. They were deaths with no more afterlife, just a lost soul left to float through the outside of reality forever, an immortal free from the chains of existing.

Ryan wanted nothing more than to float away, but in the worst way possible. It held the same freeness that floating with Dallon held, except this time, he'd never drop back down into Dallon's arms. Anything during these moments would be better than the torture, even death, which had to come sooner or later.

He was slapped awake, jolting upright in the chair, saving his breath for another round of cries for help. Ryan had no idea where he was, but it seemed like it wasn't anywhere close to the palace, screams that were ignored constantly. He only knew that the servants disappeared through the door and returned with food, something Ryan would reach for even though he was bound to the chair.

The knife woman had fed him a bottle of water, but she held it too high, making him choke on it. Ryan sputtered and coughed out the stray water, soaking into his bloodstained shirt, unable to dry his stinging cheeks.

His cries had slowed into shredded words, pleading them to show mercy and let him go. Ryan'd ask them why they were doing this, but no one understood his garbled sentences, impossible to speak with the slits on his tongue.

"Wake up." She demanded, as if Ryan wasn't already awake. His mind had gone from plain tired to deranged exhaustion, running through emotions dozens by the second before he was left empty, images of Dallon flitting through his mind.

His heart gave a weak palpitation at the sight of a saw, but Ryan couldn't be bothered to care anymore. Would they cut off his hand? Head? Finger? It didn't matter- it'd all bring pain, Ryan's new best friend.

One of the twins held the saw against his horn, the other three people holding onto his head to keep him still. Two hands were wrapped around his other horn, two full of Ryan's hair, two around his neck.

When they first started to pull the tool back and forth, Ryan couldn't feel the teeth of the saw chew away at his horn. They were only cutting half off, a half-assed attempt in Ryan's opinion. Why not go for all of it? They had the time and the tools, but these idiots didn't seem to think further.

The unidentifiable servant hadn't returned since the first day, but Ryan didn't care much about them. It was probably another sicko, there to watch the grand show of beating Ryan like a circus animal, throwing taunts at him, just waiting for him to bite.

When the metal of the saw met the center of Ryan's horn though, that's when the unbearable agony begun. He yowled and thrashed in their hold, pain swimming through his skull, vision going blurry. His body had given up on producing adrenaline and left him to tolerate the pure distress, he familiar taste of blood spreading on his tongue as Ryan bit open his past wounds.

Why couldn't it end already? Why couldn't they stop their horrible game and put him out of his misery? And why was he even here in the first place?

Ryan struggled and struggled in their grip, but nobody dared loosen their grasp, saw creaking and groaning against the bone. His voice cracked as he screamed at the top of his lungs, heaving for air, neck muscles aching from being contorted.

All hope was lost. Ryan was ready to close his eyes let let death consume him whole, fading away into the void for a forever of darkness. Nothing seemed better at that moment than slipping away into eternal sleep, to escape his abusers.

As he prepared to submit to the claws of death, Ryan took in slow breaths, just as Dallon had taught him. Right now he was floating away from reality and needed to ground himself- he was floating in the opposite direction than usual though, sun eclipsing in his mind.

In- one, two, three, four. Hold- one, two, three, four. Out- one, two, three, four. Hold- one, two, three, four.

Ryan's heart was pounding much too fast to focus on, so breathing to his own beat was the next best option, deaf to his tormentors' jeers. If Dallon were here right now, he'd tell Ryan how much of a good job he was doing, how amazing he was coping with it. Even though he was doing a terrible job, letting his mind wander to other thoughts of panic and fright, Dallon would still praise him, guiding him through it.

Too tunneled-in on his breathing, Ryan didn't feel thick beads of blood roll down the remaining half of his horn, black teardrops oozing from the inside of the bone. They fell like black rain, running down the side of Ryan's head and pooling in his ear, strangely warm. Ryan knew Dallon had black blood- but he didn't, or at least wasn't supposed to. The cuts on his tongue had flooded with ordinary red blood, yet the open wound of his horn bled Dallon's inky blood, the same blood as the spiders'.

Ryan stopped focusing on his breathing, a mistake he should've never made. Everything came rushing back all too fast, suffocating him, worries and injuries binding around his lungs and squeezing. Breathing had, once again, become impossible, short, rapid little breaths falling past his lips, weak body pulling and pushing at the rope. His rope burn had turned into a full-fledged rash, vines of raw skin creeping up his wrists, searing into his forearms just as badly as the actual burns did.

He was having another panic attack- a regular occurrence at this point. The air in the room was too thin, everything too tight on his lungs, wiggling and rocking the chair back and forth on its hind legs.

Ryan was going to die. For real this time, not the type of death with an afterlife. It was too hard to breathe, tears slipping down his cheeks as he gagged on an invisible hand that was choking him. He knew it was over when his vision started to flicker, eyes submerged in dark, then too much light to handle.

Dallon. The only thing that would save him would be Dallon. Ryan silently prayed again for Dallon to save him, blood rushing to his head in a tsunami, making it pound horribly. But his prayers went unheard once again, leaving him destitute and alone, accepting his fate and letting all the air escape from his lungs. Ryan didn't care about dying anymore. He didn't care about anything.

That was, until the door burst open and Dallon stormed in, look more rabid than he ever had.

- BRENDON -

It wasn't an easy decision, telling Dallon.

For the past two days Brendon had been feuding with the dilemma, mind alternating between rightful and smart, good and selfish.

He had run over every single possible outcome a million times, and telling Dallon was the only one that stood out. Sure, he could get killed or fired, but there was also the chance that Dallon listened to his reasoning.

If Brendon was just a bit more morally right, that's the choice he would've made. Tell Dallon, deal with the consequences. But lying was so much more enticing than facing the truth- as much as Brendon wanted to think he was virtuous, he valued his own wellbeing more than being selfless.

That's why he was planning to tell Dallon he "found" Ryan, not that he had known the entire time while he let Dallon suffer silently. The past 24 hours had been literal hell for Brendon, having to stomach Dallon's open cuts, threading a needle through the ripped skin and wiping away the blood that gushed out. Brendon couldn't let Dallon see the disgust on his face, not while he was so mentally unstable, where one wrong look would send him over the deep end.

The vile taste swimming in his stomach was never ending, leaning over the trash can when the images of Dallon's insides surfaced in his mind, holding down any of his own cries. Brendon's gut always jerked when Dallon would wail, or the thud of him banging his head against the wall, when Brendon would have to intervene and talk him through it.

Dallon seemed to go through different stages of emotions, veering between normal and extreme. At one end of the spectrum, there was hitting his head or tearing out his hair, muttering quiet abuse to himself. That was when Brendon would stop listening from behind the bathroom door and interrupt his harm, gentle hands grasping the demon's wrist, firmly telling him not to hurt himself. Dallon would behave like a confused child in return, cocking his head when Brendon explained to him that he couldn't whack his forehead against the bathroom wall. The words would go in one ear and out the other, but at least Dallon wouldn't be thumping his palms against his temples anymore, instead laying there like a corpse, staring at the ceiling.

Brendon hated it when Dallon did that, sick to his stomach with how much shame he held. No matter how many times he brought Dallon food or sewed up his cuts, it never fixed the disgusting feeling in his abdomen, the outbreak of regret that made his skin itch. He had broken Dallon, and nothing he did would fix it, no matter how many glasses of water he brought him.

The demon's skin was always freezing, faded into a sickly grey colour, eyes sunken into the ebony caverns of his sockets. Brendon felt like he was talking to the undead, trying to wipe away the ash of Dallon's tears with his sleeve, giving up when Dallon wouldn't respond to his comfort.

"I'm sure Ryan is out there safe..." Brendon would crouch next to the tub, cold sweat soaking into the thin fabric under his arms when Dallon would stare straight ahead. "He wouldn't want you to hurt yourself... he'd be sad if he saw you hitting your head."

He'd grow frustrated when Dallon would remain stoic, eyes chillingly emotionless, unresponsive. It was as if he was far away; like he had left his body as a vessel, a dead husk. His movements were almost animatronic, hands flying to pick at his cheeks, slowly putting them down when Brendon would scold him.

God, not even his children were this difficult. When Brendon's annoyance at Dallon stubbornness would get to a point where Brendon wanted to yell, he'd remind himself how this was his fault, how he had taken away Dallon's family. Brendon's hate would cool quickly, reproaching Dallon in a different manner, dabbling away the blood on his slack arm.

His final decision came to him while he was taking away the cold food outside Dallon's door, frowning at the untouched plates. As Brendon walked away, he heard a a familiar sound.

Repeated clunks, Dallon's whimpers and barely-audible words were slipping out from under the door, making Brendon's heart tumble into the abyss. He had just talked Dallon through another outburst, holding onto his bony wrists and telling him Ryan wouldn't want him to claw up his arm.

But when Brendon entered the room, Dallon wasn't punishing himself. For the first time since Ryan went missing, Dallon was sleeping, eyelids painted in royal purples and grim blacks, head resting on his shoulder. The thudding was him twitching in his sleep, softly calling out for Ryan, using the pet names Brendon heard so often. His nose scrunched up as his shallow breaths quickened, tongue falling over the words, eyebrows furrowing in woe as his hands reached out around the tub.

It was heartbreaking, watching Dallon unconsciously search for Ryan, choking out a whine. Dallon's skeletal fingers were winding around the golden thread, tearing it back up from his skin, soaked in blood as his hands plucked up the stitches from the crevice in his arm.

Brendon knew he had to reunite him- he didn't even know if he had a choice anymore. His heart was constantly heavy, and he had tried everything to stop himself from feeling so terrible. Every dish he brought, every cut he sewed up, every time he rushed into the room to stop Dallon from smashing his head; none of it cured the ache in his chest. So Brendon brought the food to the kitchen, working up the nerve to tell Dallon, rubbing his ring finger as he walked through the dark hallways.

Without Dallon around, nobody had bothered to upkeep the manor, candles blown out. Dallon had only left the bathroom twice- both times to pull decaying roses from the vases, plucking their dry petals and watching them fall to the ground. The way his entire face remained blank and empty made Brendon's bones shiver, roaming the halls like a lost ghost, searching for his love. But his soul would wander forever, unless Brendon revealed Ryan's location.

It made him feel like Oprah, reuniting a lost family, except Oprah didn't tear apart the families in the first place. Also, Oprah didn't live in hell, and her guests weren't demon boyfriends.

When Dallon's eyes flared at his words, Brendon knew he did the made he right decision. He silently followed the seething demon, stomach trembling at the waves of fury that came off Dallon, staring at the twitching snakes on his back.

Brendon had only seen the look in Dallon's eyes once elsewhere- and it was on a wild dog who was foaming at the mouth, trapped in an alleyway with Brendon.

Brendon hadn't won the fight against that dog, but maybe this time, it was good to be on the deranged animal's side.

- DALLON, RYAN & BRENDON -

Red dripped down Dallon's vision, teeth gritted together so hard it felt like lock jaw. Yet he couldn't feel it, couldn't feel anything but the blisters bubbling over in his brain, hands clenched so hard his nails were tattooing his palms.

When he shoved open the door, the sight of his angel tied up only fed the wildfire deep inside him. The flames enveloped every part of his brain until heat was laying thick on his skin, sloughing off as his hands jerked up.

Dallon's eyes darted around the room, taking in the people he wanted to harm. The people he wanted to strangle until they were gargling their own blood, to peel off their eyelids so they couldn't escape his wrath, to rip their veins out and knit them around their corpses.

No one got to touch what was his. No one got to hurt Ryan. No one would escape alive.

The first person to lunge at Dallon was a scraggly little bug, frizzy fringe covering their eyes like a curtain. One elbow to the head and they fell to the ground like a bowling pin, fueling the crave for revenge in Dallon's mind.

His triumph was short lived, turning on his heel to catch their twin before they could run down the hall. But their uniform slipped between Dallon's fingers, stick-legs tripping over each other as they sprinted out the door.

Adrenaline started to rush through Brendon's head, convincing him to chase after the escapee, feet slamming into the ground under him. The twin turned down the mazes of empty halls, glancing over their shoulder every few moments to see if Brendon was still on their tail.

Meanwhile, Dallon's frenzied eyes landed on Ryan, the fear on his face feeding Dallon's violent urges. His attention was peeled away when a woman jumped on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck, trying to pull him to the ground with her.

At the same time, a blond man grabbed Dallon's shoulders, attempting to wrestle with him. Dallon copied his movement while his tendrils dealt with the woman on his back, her fighting style much more refined than the man's blunt one.

The taste of blood filled Dallon's mouth as he accidentally bit his tongue, too preoccupied with overpowering the muscular man to care. Every instinct that had been hard-wired into his DNA unraveled, trapping his human side away, fighting with every animalistic tactic he had.

A knee to the stomach disconnected the man from Dallon, pushing him into the stone wall behind him. The demon had managed to contain the woman on his back, arms and legs tied together, holding her still while he contemplated his next move.

Everything seemed to move slow, giving Dallon time to bask in his victims' crimes, heart sinking lower and lower into despair with every glance at Ryan. He couldn't make out exactly what they had done to him, but he knew whatever it was, it had hurt Ryan to the bone.

It made the animosity in Dallon blaze higher, bearing his teeth, ready to harvest the life out of both of them.

In moments like these, Dallon was proud to be inhuman, free of the sympathy ordinary people felt. All he could think of was how delicious their screams would sound, how slippery their corpses would be once Dallon was done painting them in blood. And it was then he knew he would never truly be human, too giddy at the prospect of murder to obtain human morals. Being a monster of the night was usually an indignity, but Dallon had never felt more alive, corrupted with bloodthirst.

A few kicks to the chest winded the man, fright flickering behind his eyes, Dallon's favourite sight in the world just behind Ryan on sunny mornings.

"Stop- don't hurt me, I wasn't part of this-" The man choked, holding his thick hand out in front of him. A wicked smile tugged at Dallon's stained lips, taking slow steps towards the man, rubbing his hands menacingly.

"Oh, but that's where you're wrong," Dallon's joints cracked as he bent down, grin growing wider as his free tendrils restrained the man. The women attached to his back was squirming against his limbs, but he held her firmly in place, elbowing her in the ribs to quiet her down.

Dallon was going to savor every repulsive moment of vengeance, making sure Ryan had a front row view of the murders.

Normally, Ryan would be horrified by Dallon's actions, especially when he was as crazed as this. But now it made Ryan nothing but happy, the raw intensity on Dallon's face giving him butterflies.

His savior, his hero. And Ryan never thought he'd be saved by a psychopathic demon, yet here he was, watching in glee as Dallon wrapped his hand around the man's neck.

"You see, you took something that was mine," Dallon lowered his voice, palm pressing harder to feel the scurry of the man's pulse, thumb digging into the natural dip of his neck muscles. "And now, I'm going to take something of yours."

A wonderfully malicious idea hatched in Dallon's brain, toes curling at how horribly vile it was. Early on in his days as a demon, Dallon would slip into the mind of his victims and seek out their childhood fear, bending and twisting it to his will. Bringing nightmares to life was his one indulgence, the only thing that gave him petty pleasure during those dark times.

But now, it was a perfect idea. One hand keeping the man on the wall, Dallon closed his eyes and peeked into his mind, searching around the corners for his childhood fear. Everyone had one, even the coldest people, something Dallon could mold into his own weapon.

There it was:

Kissing another man.

Dallon scoffed at it, hatred building up in his chest. What a blithering homophobe- but Dallon knew exactly what this idiot would suffer from.

Preference was no fault, but at further inspection, Dallon discovered an uncovered pile of hatred towards same-sex couples. It made his blood boil over again, hand tightening on the man's neck, making him wheeze.

Meanwhile, Brendon had caught up with the second twin, shoving him to the ground. This was his chance to redeem himself, to help save Ryan and take revenge on the people who abused him.

Brendon sat on the twin's back, listening closely to the crackle of their brittle bones, restraining their hands behind them. He couldn't bring himself to kill another human being, so Brendon kicked their head with the toes of his shoes until their eyes snapped shut, loosing consciousness. Brendon decided he would sit there on the twin's back until Dallon returned, ignoring the concerned stares from other servants. The two of them had ended up in the courtyard, body sprawled across the golden ripples in the marble, sun shining directly on them.

Ryan's pain had been triumphed by his pure enjoyment, so grateful that Dallon was here that his mind almost slid into his sweet spot. The rush in dopamine was almost enough to get him there, but he stayed grounded, watching closely as Dallon continued his game.

"There's something you should know..." Dallon's face inched closer to the man's, speaking under his breath, using that dark, sultry voice Ryan loved. He softly cupped the man's jaw, tilting his head so that he was forced to stare into Dallon's eyes, a sly smile on his face.

A disgusting feeling stirred in Dallon's stomach, ashamed of treating another man so gently while Ryan was still tied up. But it was all part of his plan, to bring the blond man's idiotic fear to life.

Dallon was no stranger to insults, but this one cut a different vein, especially when he knew what this man had done to his love. Dallon didn't know his motive, but his blatant homophobia was pissing the demon off further, angered that someone looked down at his relationship with Ryan.

Insult Dallon all you wanted, but no one got to abuse Ryan. Dallon would take every piece of slander if it meant Ryan never had to hear it again- the one thing he hoped never to face in hell.

"No one ever..." Dallon whispered, nose pressed against the man's, feeding off of the disgust behind his eyes. "Ever, ever hurts my precious angel and gets away with it."

The blond man was writhing against Dallon's tendrils, but the demon only crawled further onto his lap, wrapping his legs around the man's wide waist. Their faces were so close Dallon could feel the man's panicked breaths against his lips, smirking to himself at what would come next.

Ryan wasn't sure what was going on, a tiny spark of jealousy igniting in him, pulling feebly at the ropes. Why was Dallon treating him so nicely? Wasn't he supposed to kill them in a flurry and take Ryan into his hands like that?

The man gasped and shouted in alarm as Dallon leaned in, giving him the wettest, sloppiest kiss of his lifetime. His tongue licked at the other man's lips, eyes closed peacefully as the man mumbled and yelled for help, for mercy, for Dallon to stop making out with him.

That gross emotion only flourished in Dallon, but it faded away when he pulled the dagger from its sheath in his belt, familiarizing himself with its curves and points. Kissing someone other than Ryan repulsed Dallon, with the exception of torturing a homophobe for revenge, bringing the tip of the blade down the man's chest.

His ragged shirt sleeves brushed against the man's uniform as Dallon mouthed at his lips, sucking and making obscene smacking noises, dramatically moaning. The man's eyes widened in return, trying his hardest to pull away from the demon, but Dallon's skeletal hand held him in place. It wasn't Dallon's favourite way of getting revenge, but the horror on the blond man's face made everything worth it, even if he was dishonouring Ryan.

Dallon drank up what would be the man's last breaths as he pushed the dagger down, wedging it deep in his heart, prodding around.

"Oh, should I go deeper?" Dallon was still using his low voice, dripping with false arousal, red soaking around the blade. It was Dallon's favourite colour, swiping at the fabric with his hands and bringing it to his lips, making sure the man's last sight was him licking it obscenely off his fingers.

Ryan stared in confusion, frightened by the blood splattering Dallon's face as he pushed the knife further until he was satisfied. All the life drained from the man's eyes, a string of drool connecting their lips as Dallon leaned back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Disgusting excuse of a human..." He spat, voice as poisonous as venom, standing up. The women on his back had given up struggling and let Dallon's tendrils trap her in place, shouting for help into the one covering her mouth.

Dallon didn't have all the time in the world to play his evil game, so he stood up, brushed himself off and walked over to Ryan, giving his angel a kiss on the forehead.

"I'm sorry baby, I'll have you out of here in a few minutes." Dallon's heart wrenched at the already visible injuries on Ryan's body, lost flames of anger licking his brain again. He was unfazed when Ryan didn't answer, not knowing that he couldn't, tongue sliced up.

"And who do we have here..." Dallon tossed her onto the opposite wall, watching as her body sunk to the floor, legs sweeping beneath her as she prepared to stand up. "Ah ah ah, you're not going anywhere."

Dallon shoved her back down, listening to the crack of her skull connecting with the wall, eyes turning a shade dimmer. He would have to hurry up if he wanted to run out the concussion clock, diving right into the maze of her mind, stuffed fuller than the blond man's was.

It took Dallon a bit, but he finally found the section of her childhood, ignoring everything but the shadowed part.

Dentists. It was a common one in children, something Dallon never understood even though he had never visited the dentist. On earth, he couldn't eat, so there was no need to dirty his teeth with useless food.

A scene flooded Dallon's mind, one that climaxed with her terror, something he was itching for. Murdering someone had never giving him so much delight before, stealing away the life from the people who stole his.

Dallon crouched down, same shameless smile on his face, mind absolutely rotting at how hellishly creepy his plan was.

"What if I told you I could make all your teeth fall out with the snap of my fingers?" Dallon's voice was stuffed full of fake sugar, dripping with sweetness and cheerfulness, eating up the frantic dread on her face as she shook her head. She was too concussed to form full sentences, but she could still understand Dallon's threat well enough, body going cold.

"Oh yes, and it would be so easy." Dallon cupped her chin and ran his thumb across her lips, tightly closed, like that would stop Dallon from finding her teeth.

In reality, he couldn't uproot a full set of adult teeth. Dallon was going to plant an illusion in her mind, making her think that all her teeth suddenly dropped loose, unlocking the childhood fear buried beneath all her other thoughts.

"My my, what beautiful teeth you have," Dallon had pried open her mouth with his hand, examining the perfect rows of pearly whites just as a dentist would. "It would be a shame if they all fell..."

Grinning diabolically, Dallon snapped his fingers crisply, reacting as if her teeth had fallen into his hands even though they all still sat in her mouth. By the looks of it, the illusion was working, her hands reaching up to feel her gums as she mumbled incomprehensible garbage.

Drool started to drip from her open mouth as if she was a toddler again, the whites around her eyes showing as she shouted louder babble, smacking her mouth. Dallon couldn't help but chuckle, staring down at her darkly, pleased at her horror.

"What's wrong- oh my, they're all gone, aren't they?" Dallon gasped, watching as her eyes flitted open and closed, struggling to stay conscious.

He wrapped his tendrils around her neck, wrath zipping through his veins, narrowing his eyes. It was disappointing that his game would be over so soon, but his fun had been spoiled by Ryan's lingering pain, something that Dallon shared.

They had wrung his heart, doing such terrible things to his baby, and Dallon hadn't even pried further. The sight of Ryan in distress, face and clothes drenched in two different shades of blood, arms caked in red marks- it hurt Dallon physically, unrestrained anger setting his nerves aflame, tightening his tendrils around her throat.

"You hurt him..." Dallon's voice was shaking, blood boiling into his view, grinding his teeth down. "You-you touched what was mine."

She started to grab at the tendril around her neck, head thrashing and hitting against the concrete wall. Dallon smirked and bashed her head, a delicious crack echoing through the room, unfurling his tendril and letting her body slump.

A trail of red footprints followed him as Dallon left the corpse, gravitating towards his injured love.

"My baby, my angel, my sweet chéri- the bad people are dead darling, I'm here now." Dallon muttered into Ryan's tangled hair, grunting as he ripped apart the ropes, revealing irritated skin. "Oh my love, I'm so sorry sweetheart, I've got you now."

Ryan's excitement and adrenaline had worn off, leaving him scared and disturbed, clinging to Dallon like a lost child. His eyes kept sweeping the room, expecting some other servant to crawl out of the woodwork and fight them. Ryan's numbness has worn off, every tiny cut, bruise and burn on his body coming back to life in double the strength. All he could do was shimmy out of the bounds and lean into Dallon, whimpering at the ache.

Dallon picked him up delicately and held his head close to him, grimacing at Ryan's heartbeat, fluttering rapidly under his fingertips. His love was shaking horribly, burying his head in Dallon's neck, hiding away from everyone's surprised stares as Dallon carried him to their bathroom.

Brendon stared wide-eyed at the two of them as they walked past silently, both covered in blood. Dallon's attention was focused purely on Ryan, eyes stuck on his love. Confused, Brendon would heave the servant to the now empty room and lock them in there with the corpses of their acquaintances, leaving them to plunge into hysteria.

A weight seemed to have been lifted off of Brendon's shoulders, but the guilt still lingered, praying that Ryan wasn't terrified beyond return.

What would Dallon say? Brendon didn't want to be met with the same furious demon he'd just seen in that room- and what would become of everyone else after something like this?

Could Brendon finally escape hell and find his way back to his family?

- RYAN & DALLON -

Ryan didn't have enough energy to be embarrassed of himself, dressed in ragged clothes, body blooming with plum, crimson and grey. He had been beaten to his bones, cartilage poking out of his skin, unable to stop the shivers from running throughout his body. Every disgusting image he had seen in the past few days was resurfacing, weak whines falling past his cracked lips, coaxing him deeper into Dallon's chest.

Dallon held his trembling flower to his chest, pushing open the bathroom door and ignoring the remnants of outrage that swam through him. The only important thing right now was calming Ryan's hummingbird heart, beating like drops of rain against the windows of his soul- the tears that were slipping down his face, dampening Dallon's collarbones.

"Sweetheart, I need to put you down now," Dallon bent down to pick up the crumpled petals in the tub, a bittersweet gesture- he had his precious rose back, but his petals were wilted and dirtied with dry blood, and Dallon needed to wash him and clean his cuts.

But Ryan wouldn't let go of his shirt, gripping him tightly and breathing in his scent, trying to imprint it in his mind. Ryan never wanted to forget it again, to have to be separated from the tall demon, to be forced to let go of Dallon's big hand. He didn't think he was so dependent on Dallon, but in reality, Ryan didn't know if he'd be able to survive right now without the demon.

Their taunts were still flashing behind his eyes, nuzzling further into the crook of his neck, arms wrapped around Dallon like they'd be ripped apart again as soon as he let go.

Dallon needed to detach Ryan from his chest so he could undress him and bathe him, but from the looks of it, Ryan didn't want to let go of Dallon. The demon smiled softly at the poke of Ryan's nose in his neck, turning into a frown at his tiny whimpers, body trembling.

There was only one choice- get in the bath with Ryan. As much as he didn't want to show his body, Ryan's well-being was much more important than any of his shame.

So Dallon flipped up the bathtub handle, felt the water temperature with one hand as the other rubbed circles into Ryan's back, and started to peel off his baby's clothes.

Every injury on Ryan's body only inflicted more pain on Dallon's heart, pangs of sadness colliding with him as he discovered cut after cut, haphazardly scabbed over, some of them still open. Ryan was too busy watching the door to see Dallon's wistful eyes, running his hands gently over the open wounds, past frustration replaced by anguish and heartbreak.

Once Ryan was naked, clutching onto Dallon like they'd blow away, Dallon had to stop avoiding the unavoidable. He shifted Ryan to one hip, fumbling over his dress shirt buttons, letting it fall to the ground in a pile.

Dallon's face burned with shame when he slipped off his pants, then socks, then, reluctantly, his underwear. Ryan didn't notice Dallon's humiliation, face shoved into the spot in Dallon's neck that he fit in perfectly, legs coiled around his waist just as Dallon's tendrils were coiled around his back.

"I've got you now baby, you're safe with me." Dallon muttered against Ryan's cheek, slowly settling down into the bathtub, water rippling around them. Ryan shivered at the temperature- lukewarm, seeping into his bloody cuts, trickling over his burns. Dallon softly rubbed them in comfort, pressing kisses to the bruises on his face, uttering reassurances into his love's blemished skin.

When Dallon said he wanted to paint Ryan, he never thought it'd be like this- skin blushing different shades of black, blue, purple and red, lines of blood clotting on his cheekbones. Dallon licked his thumb and swiped off the red, concern growing in his chest like a thorned flower when Ryan didn't talk.

"Can you open your mouth for me sweetie?" Dallon said when he noticed Ryan's jaw was closed oddly, sitting uneven. Ryan slowly opened his mouth, showing Dallon the slits lining his tongue, blood surfacing on his tastebuds.

"Oh baby, my sweet angel, poor little thing." Dallon's heart fell at the sight, hand caressing Ryan's face in comfort, trying to contain the anger that flared up again inside him. It was hard to stop his fists from clenching, wishing he could revive Ryan's abusers and bring them more pain for stealing away his flower, ripping off his most beautiful petals.

He absolutely hated to see Ryan like this, all vibrancy and life stolen from him. They had taken away his carefree side, leaving him paranoid and scarred, fingernails digging into Dallon's skin.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ryan couldn't believe Dallon had really shown himself, that he had undressed and exposed the barest part of his body. But at the moment, Ryan was too preoccupied with dealing with his own pain, biting down when Dallon's fingers would press a little too hard into the bruises, fighting every urge he had to break down and start weeping.

Dallon finished wiping away the blood, not only on Ryan's body, but on his own too, red stains and clots underneath his nails. Once they were both clean enough, he pulled up the plug and dried off Ryan, searching for lotion in the bathroom cupboard.

Ryan's mind was still hazy from such highs and lows, keeping two hands on Dallon at all times, eyes continuously darting to the door. He knew Dallon would keep him safe, but he still worried that someone else would barge in, stronger and more powerful than Dallon. Air started to soak into his wet skin, making his injuries sting once again, hair plastered to his forehead as Dallon resurfaced from the cupboards.

Silence struck the room as he flipped open the lotion lid and spread it on Ryan's cuts, holding him close on his lap, tendrils tussling his hair.

"Does that feel any better, my love?" Dallon murmured, thumb circling a burn mark on Ryan's upper arm, kissing his forehead and nose.

Ryan gave a small nod, staring up at Dallon with his big, full eyes, pain shining in the tears that dripped down his face.

"Sweetheart, oh doll, don't cry baby. I've got you now mon amour, I'll always have you." Dallon's throat closed at the sight of Ryan crying quietly, long whines slipping past his lips.

Every past time Ryan had cried, Dallon resolved to stay strong and not fall apart too, being brave for Ryan. But he couldn't stop his own tears, overwhelmed with irreparable misery, trying his best to hold Ryan as close as possible and fix his wounds.

Ryan himself didn't know exactly why he was crying- only that sadness had crawled into his chest, heart going cold and clammy, frost climbing up the warm part of his mind. Seeing Dallon's cuts too didn't help, the jagged lines on his cheeks, entwined with golden thread and the ghost of tears.

Something horrible had happened to them, and neither knew if it would happen again. Dallon no longer felt safe here, knowing that disaster could strike at any moment and Ryan could be killed in an instant. Dallon wouldn't be able to live in a world where Ryan was dead.

After a few minutes of sobbing simultaneously, Dallon slowed his own bawls, collecting the broken pieces of his soul. His tears had stained another towel, but Dallon couldn't be bothered to care anymore.

"We'll be okay darling, I promise. No one will ever lay another finger on my precious angel." Dallon whispered softly into Ryan's ear, kissing his way down his face, stopping at his chin. Every new injury Dallon discovered brought him a new shade of pain, daintily running his hand over the small circles of burned skin, feeling the rough scabs under his fingertips. Reading Ryan's body was different now- it opened his eyes to a world of anguish, every small touch to his skin that made Ryan whimper and squirm only made the thick veil of sadness fall further over Dallon's heart.

Ryan couldn't stop thinking about the things they did and said, ducking his head down in embarrassment. Dallon showed so much love all the time- had it made others uncomfortable? Did they express too much affection that it made people want to hurt Ryan? And did Ryan even deserve all of Dallon's love?

"What's wrong, my little rose?" Dallon stopped kissing Ryan's gashes, eyebrows drawn together in deep concern.

Ryan shook his head, avoiding Dallon's prying eyes, arms hanging limp on his lap. Maybe all the affection Dallon gave him wasn't normal... maybe others thought they were weird, and not in a good way.

Dallon had just killed three people for Ryan, and it was odd seeing him so feral then, and now, so soft and gentle. He didn't think he'd ever be able to scrub his mind of the things he'd heard and seen in the past two days, the animalistic fury in Dallon's eyes, the sound their skulls made when it connected with the wall and ground. Thinking about it was enough to bring tears to Ryan's eyes again, a small whine falling past his lips, leaning into Dallon's neck and nuzzling his skin.

Dallon's throat was the one part of him he hadn't scratched up, skin smelling like flowers after the rain, dew drops rolling down Ryan's cheeks as he struggled to stay calm and grounded.

"Oh sweetheart, it's okay, you're all safe here." Dallon ran his hands through Ryan's hair, getting caught in the knots, trying his hardest not to pull at his scalp. "Let's go get in bed and I'll brush your hair, okay baby boy?"

Ryan nodded silently in Dallon's chest, wrapping his arms around the demon and listening to the low beat of his heart, thudding along in a comforting pattern like the thunder of a storm. He laid his head where Dallon's heart was, lulled by its strong pulse, letting Dallon grab a hairbrush and carry him to their bed.

Things wouldn't be normal anymore, that was for sure. Ryan didn't think he'd be able to handle being tied up by Dallon ever again, the lingering feeling of the coarse rope digging into his wrists, the boots they wore smacking against his shin. Everything still hurt terribly, every light press to his body making Ryan cry through his teeth, trying to hold it back.

Dallon couldn't shake the frown from his face, holding Ryan like he was a glass figurine, helping him into a pair of boxers before Dallon put one on too. Ryan's eyes were glued to the door, still quivering in fear, nerves agitated beyond return.

"My pretty angel, my beautiful little king, I'll take care of you sweetheart," Dallon sat him down on his lap and began to brush his neon hair, dye bleeding out, revealing the bleached blond underneath the blue. "I'm here honey, I'll never let you go again."

When Dallon curled a tendril around Ryan's fingers, Ryan rubbed his hand against his face, searching for comfort in the silky limb. It was the opposite of the rope, slipping out of Ryan's hand and cupping his chin, hairbrush pulling at his head. Dallon's long fingers where like icicles on Ryan's scalp, scratching around his ears, ruffling his hair when it was finally smooth.

"There you are, mon belle ange," Dallon smiled gently, opening his arms for Ryan to crawl into. "Does everything feel a bit better?"

Ryan nodded as Dallon began to kiss his hair, working his way to Ryan's nose, hands holding onto Ryan's hips much more lightly than he usually did. The sheets were tangled between their two sets of legs, bodies growing warm under the covers as Ryan stared up at Dallon with his big eyes, letting the demon play with his hair and rub his back.

Ryan's body was more bruised and ripped up than the doll Dallon had found in an alley, a few months before he first ran into his love. Dallon had been scoping out new territory, slipping between the shadows the buildings cast on the hot asphalt, eyes trying to adjust to the fiery sunlight.

He was between two apartment buildings, shielding his eyes from the setting sun. Dusk meant the start of Dallon's day, searching for someone to drain before sunrise, when people woke and he had to hide again.

Dallon's back was glued to the brick wall, slowly shuffling his way out to the street, a blanket of darkness falling over the city. All of a sudden something plush hit him in the head, making the demon's head snap up, ready to fight.

But it wasn't a human looking for trouble. A baby's cry emerged from the window, followed by rushed footsteps and a string of swears. Dallon picked up whatever had hit him and dashed to the nearest alleyway, examining the item.

It was a filthy doll, held together by sloppy stitch-work, seemingly balding her red locks. Dallon smiled at the toy, memories of orphanages unfolding in his mind, and all the crappy dolls he had made over the years. Over time, he'd grown better at needlework, hiding the figurines underneath children's pillows for them to find when they woke up. Of course, occasionally one would wake up and stare at him with curious eyes, which was when Dallon would smirk and hold his finger to his lips.

Children seemed to like keeping secrets, thankfully. So Dallon wasn't caught very often, and he could keep gifting them all the odd toys he made, pulling thread through spare fabric with steady hands. Dallon hadn't made any dolls in a while, thanks to children's infatuation with technology, so he'd take the opportunity to fix this one up and return it to the baby.

It took a few nights of sneaking into craft stores and stealing supplies from schoolteachers, but Dallon finally gave the doll a fresh breath of life, tightening the stitches and sewing a new dress. Dallon crept up the creaky stairs, trying to recall which apartment the doll had fallen from.

When the family was asleep, Dallon slithered into their cramped apartment, tiptoeing to the kitchen. He carefully placed the doll down, giving it's head one last pat, button eyes staring back at him with no emotion. The doll and him shared that, the inability to convey their feelings, eyes blank and lifeless.

And with that, Dallon slid back into the groove of the shadows, cornering some business man on a late-night affair and stealing his energy. Dallon didn't need to stick around to hear the child's reaction, one he'd experienced enough to copy the feeling of making their day. It seemed at this point that all his emotions were copied and pasted from past experiences, seeking out something new, a fresh face that would bring him a new flower field of feelings.

Then he met Ryan. His Ryan, his precious angel, the one person that brought him unbelievable happiness.

It was Dallon's duty to nurse Ryan back to full health, to give him everything he needed to feel safe again. If Ryan didn't felt safe with Dallon, then something was wrong. And if Dallon had done something wrong, he couldn't live with himself until he fixed it for Ryan.

The sun had started to rise outside, shedding an orange glow on everything in the room, including Dallon's opaline eyes. Ryan's mind was working overtime to process anything that was happening, including when someone knocked on the door, making Ryan flinch and grip onto Dallon.

"It's Brendon." A muffled voice from behind the door shouted, opening it cautiously. "I uh- I thought you guys might need some food after that..."

Ryan hid in the crook of Dallon's arm, not wanting to face anyone right now except Dallon. He didn't feel Brendon place the plate down on the end of their bed, didn't see the sorrow in his eyes, and didn't hear Dallon's short 'thank you'.

"It's okay sweetheart, it was just Brendon. He was the one who told me where you were." Dallon planted a kiss to Ryan's hair, shifting the food so that it was in front of them. His stomach had unfroze, remembering that he hadn't eaten for days, and neither had Ryan, skin dangerously pale.

But when Dallon held a piece of bread to Ryan's mouth, he only shook his head, uneasiness behind his eyes.

"Baby, you need to eat for me. Please?" Dallon's stomach grumbled at the smell of the freshly baked bread, but Ryan only refused it again, pulling the sheets up over his head.

It took a few moments of miscommunication, but Dallon finally realized that Ryan was scared of the food being poisoned, which wasn't far fetched considering what they had done to him. So Dallon took a bite out of everything before feeding it to Ryan, ready to sacrifice himself to save Ryan.

It was hard to eat with his scratched tongue, but Ryan washed down everything with water, more thirsty and hungry than he ever had been.

When they were done, Dallon placed the plate on the nightstand and held Ryan to his chest, murmuring soft things.

"My love, I'm so sorry they took you, nothing like that will ever happen again." Dallon cooed, but he knew what he was saying wasn't true. Another gang of servants could very well take Ryan again, and there was nothing Dallon could do about it.

That thought frightened and angered Dallon more than anything, grip tightening on his love. How did it even happen in the first place? How could Dallon just let them take Ryan, without knowing until hours later?

If he wasn't holding Ryan in his arms, Dallon would have smacked his head again, beyond frustrated at himself for letting his guard down. No matter where he went, humans would be vile beings towards him, something Dallon should have seen coming for miles. He had never hated humans more, wishing that Ryan was another species all together, even if he was technically half-demon now. It didn't matter- Dallon felt shameful for hating Ryan's people all together, even if they were evil animals.

Ryan's eyes started to flutter closed, opening them every few seconds to watch the door, head resting on Dallon's chest.

"Why don't you get some sleep, sweetheart?" Dallon lazily kissed Ryan's head, tracing patterns into Ryan's back, lightly dragging his fingers over his cuts. All Dallon wanted to do was take care of his baby, snuggling up to him under the blankets, moving down to rub Ryan's thighs. It was as if every small incision, burn and bruise on Ryan's body had been done to his heart, dreaming of different ways he would've killed the servants even though their lives were already plucked.

Ryan's hair fell into his face when he shook his head, a tiny pout on his trembling lips. His rugged finger ran along Dallon's chest, spelling out a word among his sharp collarbones.

SCARED.

"Oh baby..." Dallon's heart broke at the word, pulling his love close into him until he could feel Ryan's short breaths on his skin.

He could never let go of Ryan again.

"Don't worry mon chéri, if anyone comes for you, they'll be dead before they reach my precious little angel." Dallon's tendrils climbed up Ryan's arms, pleased at the way Ryan's heartbeat loitered under Dallon's bony fingers. His body relaxed, turning to putty in Dallon's arms, letting himself finally become pliant. "Would you like me to sing for you?"

Ryan nodded, ear pressed to the heavy beat of Dallon's heart, eyes slipping away from the door and into the demon's kind eyes.

Dallon began to sing softly, melody gliding through Ryan's ears, soothing him to sleep. Ryan pushed his swollen face further into Dallon's neck, eyelids weighing too much to keep open. The velvety touch of Dallon's tendrils helped him ease into safety, ribbons of shadows curled around his body.

It was a romantic song about bicycles, vampires and France, but Ryan drifted away too quickly to appreciate it. Dallon's hands were keeping him as close as possible, watching the door like a hawk, ears straining to pick up any noise other than Ryan's little breaths.

Dallon would die a thousand times if it meant Ryan could live unharmed, trying to blink back the gooey tears that filled his eyes at the thought of someone hurting Ryan. He had never been so attached to anything before- Dallon had grown so accustomed to the curves of Ryan's body, the divots in his hips, every single sound his rich voice made, it was an addiction.

He knew it wasn't healthy. He knew it wasn't normal to need someone so badly, to rely on Ryan for every warm feeling. But Dallon couldn't stuff down those feelings, unlike every other one he felt. Being with Ryan was his favourite thing in the world, and even if he didn't want to admit it, Dallon had nearly gone insane without him.

Without Ryan, Dallon wasn't whole. His love filled that void in his heart, the one that had been created when God condemned him to a horrid existence. Ryan had seen past his scars, had seen Dallon for who he actually was, not just some deformed monster who terrorized people for fun.

Ryan had spoken so softly, had kissed him so eagerly, had held his hand like they were made to lock together. When Dallon held him from behind, they fit perfectly, especially when Dallon would suck at his neck and tease him ruthlessly. No one had ever given Dallon such pleasure, had made his heart lighter than a ladybug's wings, had filled the black spot inside him with such brilliant sunlight.

But now his sunshine was mute and dark, beautiful light dulled by necessary fear. And Dallon would never,

ever,

ever let anyone abuse his sunshine again. No one else was allowed to touch Ryan except Dallon. No one else was allowed to bring tears to Ryan's eyes unless they were happy ones, the ones Dallon only saw when Ryan was far away in his sweet space, nuzzling the crook in Dallon's neck.

The same space he occupied right now, drooling on Dallon as he slept, a crease between his eyebrows even while he was unconscious. Dallon wanted to rub that tiny crease until Ryan's face relaxed, to get rid of the deep lines etched onto his face like strokes of a pencil. The same lines that inhabited his face when he first spotted Ryan, drumming in the shadows of the stage, skin the colour of stone as if he was a statue. A tired, adorable statue.

"My love..." Dallon whispered even though Ryan was far gone, sleeping peacefully on top of Dallon, weight laying comfortably over the demon like a blanket of warmth. "My sweet little rose, my gorgeous étoile, I'm so sorry baby..."

Dallon swallowed a cry, instead diverting his eyes to watch the sun emerge from the horizon, a hand woven in Ryan's blue hair. "I failed you... I wasn't there to protect you, to keep them from tearing up your beautiful artwork,"

A sniffle ran through the room, trying to hold down his hiccups so Ryan didn't wake, getting some much needed sleep. Dallon couldn't rest, not while someone else might be on their way to harm Ryan.

"All I wanted was- was the best for you... I never wanted them to hurt you..." Dallon squeaked out, voice rising an octave as he fought back his cries. Unable to speak clearly anymore, Dallon relaxed into the pillow, arms wrapped around Ryan tightly, but not tight enough that his injuries would hurt.

He remained like that for hours, eyes switching between the motionless door, the sun that rose outside, and the sunshine on his chest.

When Ryan finally woke up, he shot up and took in the room, expecting someone to whack him across the head for moving so fast. Every muscle in his body had tensed up, preparing to withstand a blow, eyes wide and frantic.

"Shh, sweetheart, it's just me. You're safe honey, I've got you." Dallon cupped Ryan's jaw, bringing him back down to his chest, trying to slow his panicked breaths.

Dallon carefully placed Ryan's hand on his heart, skin warmed by the pads of Ryan's fingers, palm pressed up against his pec. "Feel me baby, I'm right here, they're never going to hurt you again."

Ryan exhaled a sigh of relief, melting into Dallon's warm embrace. He was safe. Dallon had rescued him. It all seemed too good to be true.

"Did you have a good sleep, my love?" Dallon's neck ached from the position, looking down at Ryan, body pressed against his.

Ryan nodded, moving in closer to Dallon, placing his head under the demon's chin. It was the only place he felt truly safe, surrounded by Dallon's scent, like a garden after a thunderstorm.

He hated how skeletal Dallon looked, ashy grey rings around his eyes, cheeks gaunt and covered in stitches. Ryan should've guessed that Dallon would hurt himself, but the realization still stung, coaxing a whimper out of him. Dallon had been doing so well, and then everything messed up and they were back at square one.

Brendon brought them lunch, and a bowl of ice cubes for Ryan to suck on, hopefully soothing the pain on his tongue. Dallon spent the rest of the day kissing his love's body, rubbing more lotion onto the burns and telling him how he'd never let go again, how he was safe now.

They were still laying in bed, Dallon sitting upright against the bed frame while Ryan laid next to him, hands interlaced together. Dallon was brushing his lips against every one of Ryan's fingers, muttering soft praise and reassurance.

Ryan couldn't stand the new scars on Dallon, the way every inch of him was sewn together like Frankenstein's second monster. It made his weak heart weaker, staring at the shiny thread with miserable eyes, a permanent frown on his lips.

Silently, Ryan sat up and climbed onto Dallon's lap, ignoring the dull pain that spread through his body like the plague. With his legs wrapped around the demon, Ryan pressed a kiss to the biggest set of scratches on Dallon's face and just... stayed there, eyes closed, listening to Dallon's heartbeat and appreciating how good he smelled.

"Oh baby, mon amour, mon belle petit étoile..." Dallon's heart melted, warmed by the feeling of Ryan's lips on his cheek, holding his injured body close.

He was whole again. Never again would he be incomplete, one half of a person, an empty soul. Dallon had his love back even if things were different.

Slowly, Dallon rocked them together, cradling Ryan's back with his hand. It was the sweetest moment they'd ever shared, so sugary and sticky Dallon's heart couldn't contain his raw happiness. "My love, my sweet angel. I love you more than anything in the world, such a good boy."

Ryan lips turned up into a smile against Dallon's gashes, the first time he had smiled since...

Since the fight.

Was Ryan just as much as a monster as Dallon, grinning at the sight of his boyfriend murdering his abusers? Sure, some of it could be accounted to being in a delirium, but Ryan couldn't stop thinking of why those people would want to hurt him.

He had never done anything wrong- had he? Had Dallon done something? Did he really deserve all that torture?

"Rest your mind sweetheart, don't worry about them." Dallon must have slipped into his mind, leaning away from Ryan to caress his cheek with his knuckles. "Such a pretty thing shouldn't be worried about such criminals... they're all gone now baby."

Ryan looked away from Dallon, squinting at the sun, skin burning and not just from his wounds. Of course Dallon wouldn't worry about them- he just killed them. Just like he killed thousands of other people.

Dallon would never kill Ryan, would he?

But he was holding Ryan so lovingly, kissing a path up his neck, lanky fingers wrapped around his waist.

Was it all a trap? Had Dallon brought him to hell just to torment him? Or was Ryan just being paranoid?

It still baffled him how much Dallon could love him unconditionally- sometimes, it didn't even seem real, like life was one big dream Ryan was floating through.

Dallon broke Ryan out of his train of thoughts, brushing his finger across Ryan's lower lip, chest tightened by Ryan's internal dialogue.

"I love you to the moon and back sweetheart, I'd never let anyone hurt mon belle ange, I promise." Dallon said, all the air knocked out of his lungs. How could Ryan think that? What had those thugs said to him?

Ryan felt himself slipping back into sleep, worries fading away into the blank void, just like Dallon's eyes. Even if Dallon had been behind it, Ryan's only option right now was to trust him and rest, bones aching deep inside his limbs. And even if Dallon didn't really love him,

Ryan loved Dallon.

That was his last thought as he cuddled closer to Dallon, burrowing in the crook of his neck, tendrils coiled around his arms as opposed to his wrists, where his rash of rope burn still flourished.

When Ryan was fast asleep, Dallon felt it creep up on him too, but he fought it with every ounce of energy left it him. Someone had to watch the door- if Dallon slept too, they could easily take Ryan back.

Dallon didn't want to relive the past few days again; he wouldn't be able to handle losing Ryan yet again. Not when he knew how badly his angel had been hurt, how deep his wounds went, when he had every shade of Ryan's blood memorized.

As much as Dallon fought it, sleep curled itself around his brain and dragged him into its depths, holding onto Ryan like the wind could blow them apart. Every one of his tendrils was wrapped around Ryan, bodies pressed together as tight as they could go, hearts beating together in a haphazard melody.

Losing Ryan again would be like losing warmth. Losing happiness. Losing love.

It would be as if the sun had been stolen from the sky, yet this time, Dallon knew it was never coming back. His world would be overrun with frost and shadows, stuck in a thick sludge of darkness, mind driving itself to insanity until Dallon couldn't think anymore.

Dallon had never been more ashamed of himself, the way he acted when Ryan was gone. But he had been in too deep of a storm to realize Brendon was trying to help him, to stop him from hitting himself repeatedly, to save him from himself. Little did Brendon know, the only person who could save Dallon from his own demons was Ryan.

And now that they were together, Ryan was doubting their entire relationship, something that reopened the scab on Dallon's heart. He had failed his duty, not only as Ryan's guardian demon, but as his boyfriend.

If Ryan didn't feel safe with Dallon, Dallon would have to erase himself from Ryan's life. Even leaving his love was a better option than making Ryan uncomfortable, the last thing Dallon wanted.

But Dallon knew he could never leave Ryan. He wouldn't be able to handle knowing that either Ryan would be alone, or someone else would replace Dallon, someone better and normal. Ryan could go back to earth and finish living out an average life while Dallon prowled the shadows, watching Ryan's life progress without him.

It would be absolute torture to Dallon. His possessiveness was flaring like a sparkler, fizzling inside of him, pulling Ryan even closer in his sleepy state at these thoughts.

Those servants had touched his angel in the worst way possible, and in return, Dallon murdered them. It was the only option- he couldn't wait around idly for Ryan's corpse to show up on his doorstep.

Was it bad he felt no remorse? Had Dallon ever changed, or was he still the beast he was before he met Ryan?

At least at the end of the day, Dallon could slip into Ryan's mind and check his favourite corner, the one Dallon inhabited.

And thankfully, as Dallon peeked in half-asleep, he could see that Ryan was dreaming of the two of them dancing again.

Ryan really did love him.

And Dallon loved him back, even if he couldn't love himself.

It was okay- Ryan filled that void enough that Dallon could barely tell it was someone else's love, not his own. And if Ryan loved him, Dallon didn't really care about much else.

- BRENDON -

Even after reuniting Dallon and Ryan, Brendon still felt like his insides were rotting.

The nausea in his stomach had only grown worse, especially when he brought the two of them food and saw Ryan.

Ryan looked anxious beyond return, hiding away from Brendon in the crook of Dallon's arm, gripping onto him like the world was ending.

He was so... small. This wasn't the same man Brendon had taught piano to- they had hurt his carefree soul, had stolen all the life out of his eyes. They turned Ryan skittish and nervous, shrinking away from Brendon like he wanted to hide behind Dallon, sheets pulled up until only his shoulders were revealed.

Brendon ignored the lightning white scars on Dallon's chest, something he'd seen too much in the past few days, and placed down their food. The sight of Ryan, not meeting eye contact, treating Brendon like he was one of the bad servants- it made him feel like one of them, still hoping that Dallon wasn't furious at him.

Yet Dallon only cupped Ryan's jaw and pulled him closer, mouthing a 'thank you' to Brendon, obviously acting as Ryan's protector. It reminded him of all the times Sarah had taken care of Tyler and Abby when one of them got hurt, the way she'd wash their cuts and tell them it would be alright, that it wasn't the end of the world.

In an attempt to wash away his shame, Brendon continued to bring them food, watching Dallon closely too see if any anger laid on his face. But Dallon only held Ryan and looked into his eyes, wiping away tears Brendon couldn't see, whispering softly into the smaller man's ear. Jealously no longer grew in Brendon's chest- it was replaced with misery, a hollow portion of his soul that missed his own family.

Brendon only visited the kitchen, their room and his own, laying in bed wide awake, grateful that Dallon didn't appear to be mad. He was glad that Ryan was in good hands now, that Dallon would take care of him and cure his anxiousness, and that he would heal eventually.

But Brendon would never heal fully, still holding out hope that he could return to his family, that he could go back to his old life. No amount of clean clothes and fresh food would replace the warmth of his family, the bright eyes and wide smiles they all shared even though they didn't have much. It gnawed at his chest, staring blankly at the ceiling as the sun started to dip behind he horizon.

Sleeping was futile- Brendon got up with a groan, slipping on his shoes and scuttling down the hall, confused by the absence of spiders. Every since he told Dallon where Ryan was, Brendon hadn't see any spiders, which relieved him beyond words. Sure, Brendon had been working on his fear, but it never truly disappeared.

Every candle was still dark, shadow figures climbed up the walls, following Brendon as he climbed the stairs. It was as if nothing had changed, and Dallon was still dead inside, just as the manor was dead too.

The piano room was eerily silent, curtains drawn closed, time as still as stone. Brendon held his hands out in front of him, expecting to run into a ghost, or worse, a fellow servant. He hadn't made contact with anyone else since the fight, afraid of what others would think of him.

His knees knocked into the piano bench, making Brendon jump, hands clanging against the heavy keys. Heart racing, Brendon's eyes dashed to the door, waiting for someone to come in and tell him off for playing while the rest of the palace was silent.

When no one came, Brendon let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, taking a seat at the piano. Even though the keys were pitch black, Brendon could still find the right notes, carefully placing his hands and pressing down delicately.

He moved his hand up the piano to play a high note, bumping into something hard with sharp corners. Brendon took it from where it was wedged between the notes, eyebrows drawn together as he struggled to make out what the two envelopes were for.

One of them was addressed to him, the other to Dallon, closed with a golden seal. Brendon tucked them in his vest and darted back to his room, wondering who would mail him and Dallon such things, and how they found their way into the piano.

The sun was still taking its time setting, half of it peeking out from the earth, sky brushed with oranges, pinks and purples. If Brendon wasn't so concerned about the envelope, he'd appreciate the gorgeous sunset, maybe taking whatever wine was leftover and watching it from the roof.

A crunch broke the thick silence as Brendon ripped open the envelope, flicking on the overhead light, eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness of his room.

He unfurled a paper, page full of letters, written in a curly font.

'Dear Brendon,

This letter may come as a shock to you, but I want you to read carefully.

Informing Dallon of Ryan's whereabouts was an act of bravery, one that held a grand weight. In fact, that was the final deed that made you legible for a spot in Heaven.

Brendon, you may have committed a number of sins, but they are all justifiable- at least on my terms. I would be willing to look past any blemishes on your record and offer you a home in Heaven, along with the rest of your family.

Please think about this decision; I know the answer might seem obvious at first, but like every big decision in life, it needs to be considered. I think that is something you could benefit from, my child.

When you do make your decision, please write back to me and leave your letter in the same place you found this one.

Think dearly youngling,

- God'

Brendon blinked, like that would help him understand the words scribbled on the paper in front of him.

What?

Was this a prank? It felt like the paper was burning against his fingers, something so plain holding such important words. Brendon choked on his own spit, eyes running down the page again, taking it all in.

He could leave hell and live in heaven with his family? It sounded too good to be true, and if there was anything Brendon had learned in life, nothing good every happened to him.

The lights flickered above him, as if to confirm the authenticity of the letter. Brendon gazed out the window, searching for his answer in the sun, but it had disappeared completely.

The words soaked into his mind, finally setting in.

He could leave. He could live the rest of his life with his family, in paradise.

Brendon didn't care if the letter was real or not- happy tears started to roll down his face, splotching the dark ink, letters blurred. They rearranged himself until they were legible again, untouched by Brendon's tears, almost by magic.

His cheeks ached from smiling so wide, covering his mouth with his hand so that his euphoria wouldn't wake any others. Light seemed to sear through his chest, seeds of hope that had once been killed growing again, standing tall and proud.

Brendon remembered Dallon had a letter too, hopefully one bearing just as good news. After everything the two had been through, Brendon felt they deserved a happy ending too.

On light feet, Brendon skipped down the hall, ignoring how childish he looked. His feet tapped together in cheerfulness, knocking softly on Dallon's door even though he wanted to pound it and shout the good news. It wasn't often in life that Brendon's heart overflowed with happiness, the same rush of exhilaration he had felt when his children were born, or the moment he married Sarah.

When no one answered, Brendon slowly opened the door, taking cautious steps in. Dallon and Ryan were asleep, arms wrapped around each other, as close as they could possibly be.

Brendon's heart sped at the sight of them, breathing peacefully, faces finally relaxed in their slumber. He tip-toed around the bed and placed the envelope on Dallon's nightstand, giving them one last look.

They reminded him of his own family, hands gripping each other like the softest breeze could separate them, holding on for dear life. Ryan finally looked at rest, like the colour had returned in his cheeks, snoring lightly in Dallon's neck.

Brendon couldn't help but smile, shutting the door behind him and listening for the click, hoping he didn't disturb their sleep. He continued to skip down the hall, body lighter than it had been in years.

His dream was finally coming true.

Brendon would see his family again.

- END OF ACT 5 -

 

Chapter Text

- RYAN & DALLON -

"Dallon..."

It was the first word Ryan had spoken in days, wincing at the dull pain his tongue brought, nudging his face so that he could kiss Dallon awake.

"Mm- good morning angel." Dallon smiled brightly, something that made Ryan's weak stomach quiver. He never thought he'd miss that smile so badly, Dallon's sharp teeth peeking out from behind his lips, leaning in for another gentle kiss.

"Dallon... Dal..." Ryan mumbled against Dallon's soft lips, warmth spreading throughout his body at the feeling. Dallon's kisses could cure everything, including the sting on Ryan's tongue, lost to the happiness of the moment. Fuzzy morning sunlight painted them both in yellow, leaving drops of gold in the canvas of Dallon's eyes, painting a picture of the perfect day.

Ryan was getting used to talking normally again, voice low and broken up sometimes, murmuring Dallon's name into the demon's mouth. Dallon didn't mind- in fact, he loved Ryan's adorably soft voice, quite like the one when he was coming back to Dallon from his sweet space.

They had slept for the entire night, bodies tangled together, just as the sheets were tangled around their legs. Ryan moved on from kissing Dallon's mouth to kissing up his cheek, trying to fix the stitches there even though they'd never disappear. It made his heart fall to see Dallon all sewn up, but at least he was smiling again, a grin just as sunny as the day outside.

"I love you..." Ryan spoke into Dallon's torn skin, sitting on his lap like it was the most comfortable chair in the world. Compared to the rickety chair he was kept in and the ropes around his arms, Dallon was the opposite, soft tendrils wrapped around Ryan's body tentatively. They roamed Ryan's skin like eels through water, pulling him closer to Dallon until their hearts were pressed together, thumping in a soothing pattern.

Dallon was the medicine, the cure, the remedy to Ryan's anxiety, lips pursed in another beam, watching Ryan stretch on top of him like he was an adorable house cat. "I love you too, mon chéri."

Ryan felt Dallon's arm reach over him, burying his face back in the crook of his neck, letting his mind ride out the remaining ripples of sleep. Waking up with Dallon was never rushed- it was a ritual, softly preparing each other for the day to come before actually getting up, bodies sewn together like the scratches on Dallon's face.

Dallon's heart sped up under Ryan's as he read a paper, causing Ryan to turn around and read it too.

"W-What's this for?" He asked, moving the paper so that he could read it too, head pounding at the words.

'Dallon, Ryan,

I understand that you have every right to be frustrated with me. But as you see, I always meant for Ryan to be kidnapped.

Dallon, your sins rack up a tremendous debt, one that cannot go unseen. Multiple murders, terrorizing innocent people, theft- these are only a few of the sins you committed on earth. You see, it would not be fair if I gave you the position of a lifetime without balancing it out.

You were never meant to peacefully rule hell. I always had another leader in mind, yet this gave me the opportunity to even out your sins.

Now that you've suffered through that, I'm ready to give you your final placement in this universe, no tricks this time. You and Ryan are welcome back in Heaven, granted I can trust that you will think twice about your crimes again. Your house has remained untouched since you last left, except for some new vines overtaking the trellis in your garden.

I am also willing to reverse any physical appearances- I know this has brought you tremendous pain, and I am offering to give you back your old appearance.

Please write back when you have considered your options and give your letter to dear Brendon, he will know what to do with it.

- God'

Ryan hated the way Dallon's smile disappeared, replaced with dull fury behind his eyes.

"Dallon? Wh- what does that mean?" Ryan spoke slowly, worried that speaking any faster would reopen his healing cuts. Nothing about the letter made sense, from the sender to the contents, leaving Ryan with a heartache and a headache.

"My love..." Dallon was still processing the words, neon anger flickering inside him. He was fighting the urge to crush the crisp paper in his hand, instead accidentally tightening his tendrils around Ryan's wrists. "Fuck- sorry sweetheart, I just..."

Ryan grimaced at the feeling, moving off of Dallon do they were laying next to each other, watching Dallon's eyes closely. The bad thing about having no irises was that Ryan could never tell where Dallon was looking, whether he was rereading the letter or staring at Ryan in sorrow.

Dallon seemed to have picked up Ryan's habit of chewing his lip, catching it between his teeth and gnawing, hands trembling uncontrollably.

Ryan was supposed to be hurt... and God was just okay with that? Dallon still hated him for what he did centuries ago, but some of that hardened hatred had softened, thankful that he had met Ryan.

Sure, Dallon had done a lot of bad stuff back on Earth, but it was his way of living. He never would've guessed that Ryan's kidnapping was payback for everything he'd done- but Dallon should've seen it coming from miles away. God seemed to love to torment Dallon, all for one stupid mistake he made centuries ago.

"Dallon?"

Dallon forgot that Ryan was still there, watching him with worried eyes, picking at his healed blisters.

"Ryan, I..." Dallon didn't know how to put his emotions into words. Should he be happy? Angry? Confused?

More than anything, Dallon wanted to live a peaceful life with Ryan. That was the life he'd thought he was getting in hell, but it turned out he was never meant to rule peacefully- it was a trap. No matter what he did, Ryan was going to be kidnapped.

That brought some relief to Dallon, taking some of the weight off his shoulders. Ever since Ryan went missing Dallon had been blaming himself, mind replaying every ugly thought he'd ever had until it was all Dallon could think about. But now, it turned out it hadn't been Dallon's fault- at least, current Dallon's fault.

As it dawned on him that he still caused Ryan to get hurt, all of Dallon's self-deprecating thoughts came flooding back, heart pounding in his ears. Ryan's concerned voice was lost to the blood rushing through Dallon's head, dizziness overtaking him.

"Dallon!" Ryan shouted, shaking Dallon's arm, trying to snap him out of it.

But Dallon couldn't stop thinking about how this time, it really was his fault.

Ryan got hurt because of Dallon's crimes.

"Dal, please," Ryan's voice broke on the last word, clambering up onto Dallon's lap and pressing his lips against Dallon's, trying to regain his attention. Dallon was staring straight ahead, body rigid under Ryan's touch, frozen in his whirlwind of thoughts.

Dallon didn't want to touch Ryan, out of fear of what else he could do. Would they ever be truly safe, or would Ryan keep on suffering for Dallon's sins, a horrible unending loop of torture? Could Dallon even still be with Ryan, or would it be putting him in danger once more?

"Dal, I wanna go to heaven with you..." Ryan whispered into Dallon's mouth, hoping it would break the demon out of his trance. "I want to live with you forever, please Dal."

Before coming to hell, Ryan had dealt with Dallon when he'd get stuck in his dark headspace, making sure he didn't do anything to himself. It had been a while since Dallon had done this around Ryan, unable to move, thoughts swimming through his head too fast to process. He was trapped in a cage, the unsteady pounding of his heart clanging against the bars, wishing he could handle his emotions properly. But they all fell out in a big pile, tangled and knotted together, thoughts stacking until Dallon could taste their bitterness on his tongue.

Dallon couldn't be around Ryan- he was putting him in danger. But he couldn't live without Ryan.

Ryan picked up Dallon's limp hand and wove their fingers together, planting kisses to each of Dallon's fingers just as he had to Ryan's. They were cold against Ryan's lips, bones and knuckles jutting out of the skin, dark splotches where Dallon hadn't been able to get rid of his tears.

But Dallon couldn't feel him, couldn't feel anything but the thousands of ants crawling up his skin, a sour coating on his tastebuds. Ryan let his hand fall to the bed, running his own fingers through Dallon's hair, massaging his scalp in an attempt to comfort him.

"Dallon sweetie, everything's okay..." Ryan uttered in his ear, wrapping his other arm under Dallon's until they were hugging, bare chests pressed together. "We can go to heaven together Dallon, it'll be safe. We'll be safe together."

Finally, Dallon blinked, leaning into the gentle touch of Ryan's hand. He was so swept up on the fact that Ryan's kidnapping was planned that he forgot him and Ryan could leave, could live together in heaven forever. In Dallon's old home.

Dallon didn't recall much of his old home above the clouds- he could only see the bright sunny days, the soft breeze that pushed his hair around and the long grass that caressed his legs, butterflies and ladybugs flying out from the tangle of plants. When Dallon was first condemned to earth, he missed his house more than anything, even if he was lonely up there- before being assigned Ryan to guard over, Dallon didn't have very many friends other than the animals that visited his cottage on the regular. And then his life was filled with watching Ryan, abandoning the warmth of his home to protect Ryan on earth.

After being gone for so long, Dallon couldn't say he missed the house anymore, unable to remember what it looked like. Ryan was his home now, the place he took refuge in, where bliss and contentment met him at every turn. Ryan was his life, his everything, and Dallon wanted to share those beautifully sunny days with him.

"Sunshine..." Dallon cooed to Ryan, a small smile tugging at his lips, pulling Ryan closer to him on his lap. "Do you want to go?"

Ryan nodded eagerly, face breaking out into the brightest smile Dallon had seen in a while. "Yes Dallon, I want to live in a real paradise with you, forever."

Dallon peppered Ryan's parted lips with butterfly kisses, smiling against each other, softly laughing at who knows what. All of Dallon's senseless worries had melted into the pavement of his brain, ones that would surface later when he was more vulnerable, but Dallon didn't care.

It was just like the moment Ryan declared he wanted to go to hell with Dallon, except this time their young hearts were more worn with injuries, standing tougher and rugged against anything else that would separate them. All Dallon wanted to do at that moment was kiss Ryan, giving his angel all the love in the world he deserved.

That thought uprooted something from deep in the soil of Dallon's mind, something he hadn't considered.

Did Dallon want his old appearance back?

When it came down to it, the obvious answer was yes. His appearance was something he struggled with for ages, his punishment for interacting with Ryan all those years ago. It brought Dallon immense pain, staring in the mirror with vile distaste, despising the monster that stared back at him. Except for the latest one, all of Dallon's great meltdowns had been caused by his very own existence, struggling to grasp what it meant to be a beast.

But... Ryan loved his appearance. Ryan complimented his pearly eyes, kissed his twitchy tendrils and hugged his odd body, murmuring sweet words into all the scars. Ryan made him feel like he wasn't the worst thing in the world, like he wasn't a hideous monster.

Ryan saw Dallon for who he was, and considered all his oddities beautiful.

Dallon wasn't an angel anymore, and never would be again. It just wasn't who he was. He didn't want to erase years of history just because he could- if Dallon got back his old appearance, he'd no longer be the demon Ryan fell in love with, and Dallon didn't want that. His imperfections were part of who he was now, and Dallon wouldn't want to get rid of anything Ryan loved.

While Dallon didn't want to be an angel, he had a very good idea of someone who would be one. Ordinary people in heaven didn't become angels, only humans who existed in another dimension, just like everyone in hell. Wings and halos were only granted to people who were created in heaven, just like Dallon, working directly under God for a number of tasks.

Dallon didn't remember interacting with humans in heaven often, maybe only passing them by in the street, or helping an old women with her groceries. They all gawked at him, which Dallon wasn't familiar with yet, so he just turned on his heel and left, face flushed bright red. Back then Dallon didn't know what it was like to be ogled, what being an outcast to society felt like. Next to his peers, Dallon fit right in, nothing more than a number in the system. Angels and humans were separate, and wings and halos were revered.

But maybe this once God could make an exception, and gift an ordinary person celestial wings and a golden halo.

Besides, the person in mind was already Dallon's angel. He just wanted the entire world to know how pure Ryan was.



 

 

"Are you scared, my love?"

Dallon grasped onto Ryan's torn hand, staring deep into the night sky of Ryan's eyes, trying to calm his own shivering nerves.

"A little... are you?" Ryan's heart shuddered, stomach housing a rainbow of butterflies, unsure if he was feeling fear or excitement.

Dallon had written a letter back while Ryan slept that night, carefully explaining his request, planning on surprising Ryan. Brendon had taken their letter with glee, eyes carrying more joy than Dallon had ever seen them.

He didn't ask Brendon why he was so happy, handing him the envelope warily, eyebrows raised at Brendon's upbeat attitude. After kissing every one of Ryan's wounds, plastering new bandages to the bigger ones and bundling him up in warm clothes, Dallon brought Ryan to the field where they first landed, holding an umbrella high over their heads. Ominous storm clouds had haunted them since that morning, and now white rain poured from the sky, drenching everything around them.

Ryan's new rain boots squelched in the mud, thick socks keeping his feet warm inside of the stiff boots. The air outside had turned harshly cold, nipping at the tips of his fingers as Ryan's hand found Dallon's warm one, stepping over puddles and watching frogs hop away. Dallon had warned him about the rain, how he had to stay close under the umbrella so it wouldn't add to his burns, bulky sweater covered in a plastic poncho. Normally, wool made Ryan's skin itch, but this type was soft and fluffy, alleviating some of the remaining ache.

A roar of thunder made Ryan press closer to Dallon, gripping onto the equally soft material of Dallon's sweater, covered in little knitted flowers. It wasn't something he would've normally worn, but even while Dallon's body ran hot, this type of weather could wriggle it's way under his skin.

Now they stood facing each other, fondling their hands and sharing worried looks, wondering if they'd be tricked in heaven just as they were in hell. Dallon hadn't seen any servants on his way out, holding Ryan tight to him and shutting the heavy doors behind them with a loud clunk.

"It's the same as last time... right?" Ryan asked, wrapping his hand on top of Dallon's, gripping the umbrella too.

"I think so. Don't worry sweetheart, I'll take care of you." Dallon's sharp-toothed smile relieved Ryan's tense nerves, letting his shoulders fall, rain beating the grass around them.

Dallon was going to kill Ryan again, and this time, bring him up instead of down. The reason people had no afterlife when they died in hell was because their guardian angels had abandoned them after their initial death, leaving their souls to drift down into hell, and now, to wander the darkness forever. But Ryan's guardian had never left his side, except for those torturous hours, the worst hours of Ryan's life.

"Are you ready, my love?" Dallon softly cupped Ryan's jaw, brushing his icy thumb across his cheekbone, admiring the light blush that dusted his love's face. It did him well seeing that colour, glad the cold hadn't taken everything from Ryan yet, breaths visible from the sheer frostiness.

Ryan nodded, giving Dallon one last small smile, butterflies' wings swatting against the walls of his stomach. The music box was in his arms, hugging it close to his chest, rubbing his thumb at the polished wooden lid. It had never left their room, gathering dust on top of the wooden roses, unwound and silent yet Dallon and Ryan still loved it.

Ryan could only pray this wasn't another trap.

Neither of them were sure what would become of hell once they left, but it's not like they were concerned in the slightest. Hell had punished both of them, and it only held bad memories now, a hollow shell of a castle that was once full of life.

Dallon's breath hitched in his throat as he coiled a tendril around Ryan's neck, slipping under the collar of the sweater. A quick moment of fright crossed Ryan's face as Dallon tightened the tendril, contorting in sheer pain before his body fell limp in Dallon's arms, dead eyes staring at Dallon's.

Ryan had never been scared of be darkness, but this was his least favourite type, engulfed in pitch black. He first felt Dallon's tendril in between his fingers, then Dallon's icicle fingers, palm pressing against his.

"I'm here my love, I've got you." Dallon sounded too far, something that scared Ryan. It didn't matter that he'd been through this before- dying was still alarming, body unconsciously going into shock, flailing around in the void. The thick liquid of death filled his lungs, but Ryan let himself be submerged, breaths slowing until he wasn't breathing at all.

"Dal?" Ryan's own voice echoed through his head, swimming through the emptiness, as if he was floating through a cavity in existence.

Ryan found the warmth of Dallon's body, pressing himself up against it until he was gripping onto the demon, mind trying to unravel itself from the dark. "...Is it almost over?"

"Halfway there honey, you're doing so well." Dallon was still lightyears away even though Ryan was holding onto him, eyes searching for something to latch onto.

A soft tingling feeling filled his skull, like the bubbles in a carbonated drink, sleepiness pooling in his mind. Ryan still remembered Dallon's warning from days ago, how as much as he wanted to, Ryan couldn't curl up and sleep, giving into the temptations of death.

"Dal... Dallon, my back hurts." Ryan mumbled, eyes flitting between open and closed, darkness wherever he looked. A muted pain started to muddle the nerves in his back, pulling at the two sides of his spine, but Ryan was too sedated to feel it. He felt drugged, rubbing his face against the fabric of Dallon's sweater, weakly pushing away death's enticing taunts.

"That's okay baby, we're almost there." Dallon's hand stroked Ryan's back, running his fingers over the bumps in his spine, listening to the trickle of time and space around them.

They were in the weird part between dimensions, the empty, unused space nobody every bothered to fix up, floating upwards. Spare time dripped around them, put aside in case disaster struck earth and God had to freeze the world and fix it, adhering any holes in the clock with the slippery sands of time.

Every organ in Ryan's body was light, just like the time he accidentally drank a bottle of dish soap, before the violent vomiting began. He had coughed bubbles for days after that, throat constantly burning horribly, wishing he never took that stupid dare and drank the blue soap.

His back burned just as his throat had, digging his nails into the wool of Dallon's sweater, strained groans slipping past his lips. Ryan could feel his body floating higher, as if he was tethered to balloons, wrapping his legs around Dallon's thin waist in an attempt to stop himself from flying away. But wind started to whip his hair around, pushing him upwards towards the stars, starting to feel the heat of the sun on his skin.

"Close your eyes sweetheart." Dallon demanded, wrapping an arm around Ryan's torso, letting the current pull them skywards and into the sun.

And then, everything was light. Ryan felt as if he was dragged out of murky waters, gasping for air, coughing up the black liquid out of his lungs.

"Shit, I'm sorry baby, it was a bumpy ride." Dallon patted Ryan's back as his eyes adjusted to the brightness of heaven, trying to sort his mind out. He didn't remember this section, sitting on a wooden bench next to tall grasses, a yellow building in front of them. The air around them smelled like a bakery, molecules stuffed full of vanilla, chocolate and sugar, scent wafting through Dallon's nose.

Ryan spit out the bitter water onto the grass, reeling away at the black sludge, ignoring the concerned stares other gave him. "Ack- you really couldn't have gotten rid of that?"

Dallon shrugged, preoccupied by staring at Ryan's back, confusing the already disorientated man. It appeared they both had shed their horns, but Dallon was grinning with such intensity, Ryan could no longer ignore it.

"What- what's this?" Ryan stood up far too quickly, going lightheaded as he peered over his shoulder, trying to figure out what the new weight on his back was.

"Dallon? What are these?" Ryan couldn't keep the panic from his voice, toppling over onto Dallon's lap, ruffling whatever was on his back in surprise.

"What do they look like, mon chéri?" Dallon was smirking, watching Ryan slowly flap his new wings, fists full of Dallon's sweater.

"Are- wait... really?" Ryan's eyes lit up, fluffing out his feathers, feeling the cartilage poking out from behind the fuzzy skin. When he stood at full height, the lowest feathers brushed against his calves, slowly fluttering them to try to get used to the new weight.

Dallon loved watching his angel discover his new wings, delighted that all his injuries had faded away, leaving Ryan's skin blank once again while Dallon's still held the golden thread. Ryan hopped from one foot to the other, hands racing to his head, grabbing a hold of something warm and metal.

A glimmering halo, radiating heat onto Ryan's finger tips, shiny and smooth. Dallon got up from the bench to kiss his love, heart bursting with too much euphoria to handle, blinking back the happy tears that stung at his eyes.

Ryan was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen, hints of rainbow hiding in his ethereal wings, twirling around and trying to feel them like a dog chasing his tail.

"I love you, my angel." Dallon declared for the entire world to witness, even though people filtered around them, shedding no second looks. The sea of humans parted around the demon and the angel, giving them space to deepen their kiss, joyful tears shimmering in Ryan's eyes like little pieces of glitter.

"I love you too, my demon." Ryan laughed against Dallon's mouth, tasting nothing but sunlight and dark chocolate, heart melting into a puddle of gooey sweetness.

They entered the yellow building with hands locked together, taking place in one of the queues, smiling at each other for no reason whatsoever. People donning similar smiles milled around them, some of them holding loved ones in their arms, some children holding onto other angels' hands and looking around with big eyes.

There was a rule in heaven, that every child who died, no matter what the circumstances were, went to heaven. While adults and seniors could manage their ways on their own without their guardian angels, children's always helped them through the beginning process, finding out their next suitable kin for them to live with in heaven until their caregivers died. Dallon pitied their confused looks, eyes darting around the room in fear, shuffling closer to their angels.

Dallon's eyes locked with a little girl's as they stood around waiting, while Ryan was distracted by others' low conversation. He recognized her tiny face and tattered black pigtails from somewhere... but where?

The girl tugged at the sleeve of her guardian angel, pointing to Dallon from a few lines away, separated by rope barriers. Her pale red lips parted, whispering something in the angel's ear before they ducked beneath the barriers, mumbling apologies to everyone's path they crossed.

"Excuse me, mister?" The little girl spoke in syllables, looking up at the angel for her next words. The angel nodded in support, urging her to keep speaking.

"I... thank you for the doll you made me..." The girl smiled, a big gap between her two front teeth, swinging her arms back and forth. They brushed against her red dress, black buckle-up shoes polished perfectly except for some scuffs on the toes, little sunflower buttons holding them together.

A lightbulb dinged in Dallon's head, suddenly recalling where he had seen her big brown doe eyes before, except they had been covered by tangled hair the last time he saw them.

She was one of the last people he sewed a doll for before meeting Ryan, laying in a wire bed, blankets thinner than Dallon's self confidence. The orphanage was on the outskirts of the town, one that seldom saw visitors, right across from the graveyard.

The girl had awoken as Dallon was placing the doll next to her, pulling the blanket up over her shivering body. It was a miniature version of her, with locks of frizzy black hair, strawberry red lips and a rosy nose, even with her buckle-up shoes and little flower charms he found at a florist's shop.

At first glance, she had thought he was a ghost from the graveyard, more curious than frightened. Dallon sat on the edge of her bed, letting it creak beneath him, and talked to her for hours, the most time he had ever spent talking to a real human. She laughed at his funny stories, scrunching up her button nose at his bad ones, asking every question that popped up in her young mind. Dallon was sad to see the sun start to rise, whispering a goodbye in the fresh golden light, promising they'd meet again someday.

And here they were, both in heaven, accompanied by angels. Dallon crouched down and beamed, despite the face that her angel placed a hand on her shoulder, watching Dallon warily.

"Thank you for talking to me, little lady." Dallon said. She ducked her head down and smiled shyly, clasping her hands behind her back and rocking on her feet.

"Come on Lindsey, we have to find your grandparents." The angel guided the girl away from Dallon and back into their spot, but she didn't leave without waving first, giving Dallon one last look.

It struck his heart to see her go, but Dallon was glad she would be taken care of in Heaven, which was a much better place than that orphanage. He waved back, turning to Ryan with a satisfied smile, giving his angel a peck on the lips.

"Who was that?" Ryan asked, stepping forward as the line progressed, halo catching rays of sun and reflecting it onto his face. It looked as if Ryan had pieces of gold engraved into his eyes, hiding away in the folds of his iris, pupils dilating as he glanced back to Dallon.

"Just an old friend." Dallon answered, not wanting to say anything else. Some memories were just for him to treasure, and as much as Dallon loved to share with Ryan, he needed his own experiences too.

Ryan took his answer and walked up to the desk when they were called, tapping his fingers on the counter in a quick rhythm. He hadn't played he drums in forever, and he itched to practice again, to reopen every blister on his hands.

"What's your name, sweetie?" The angel behind the desk was a kind young women, skin bronzed by the sun, beautiful rays shining in the natural highlights of her cheeks. Her thick brown hair fell over her shoulder in braids, hairpins with little butterflies and ladybugs clipped down at the bottom of the lock, seemingly fluttering their wings as Ryan watched them come alive in front of him.

"Ryan Eric Seaman. And, this is Dallon, my guardian-"

"Angel." Dallon cut Ryan off before he could say anything else, joining his love at the counter, inspecting the jar of rainbow candy that said 'take me, I'm free!' on the side. Dallon couldn't remember exactly how the system worked, but he knew guardian demon wouldn't register well, especially when his name and record had a massive blotch on it.

"You're his guardian?" The woman stared at them in disbelief, looking Dallon up and down, and then Ryan.

Dallon nodded, watching the butterflies in her hair flap their wings, sparkling in the yellow overhead lights. He looked behind her, examining the bulletins on the wall, a row of coffee mugs with knitted sleeves around them. Dallon had forgotten how happy-go-lucky everyone was in heaven, smiley face stickers stuck to every surface, inspirational quotes lining the walls. It made him feel yucky inside, a reminder of his past life and how he abandoned all of this for one moment with Ryan.

Now he got to spend every moment with Ryan.

The angel clacked away at her keyboard, rainbow painted acrylic nails shining in the warm light.

"Oh, you two are the... special case." She smiled as wide as she could, looking up at the two of them with kinder eyes. "And Dallon, you've been here before? I still have the house on Brobeck Lane under your name."

Dallon nodded again, hand fumbling for Ryan's, giving him a reassuring smile. His angel looked beyond heavenly, still ruffling his wings in an attempt to get used to them. The wings that captured the same colours as clouds on a perfect sunset, bursts of mauve, tangerine, peach and coral hiding from behind the wisps of the sky, feathers fluffing themselves out. Ryan's halo was made of pure gold, emitting a soft glow, the same glow Dallon's heart felt when his love smiled back.

The angel left the counter, disappearing into another room before returning with a crystal blue key, penny loafers scuffing against the wooden planks of the door.

"Here's your key- give me a few minutes and I'll... reset your records." She mumbled the last part, nails clicking against the keys as she chewed on a piece of gum. Ryan began to pick at invisible scabs, digging into the skin of his hands. Dallon slipped his fingers between Ryan's to stop him from creating any new calluses, even though Dallon loved to feel the toughness of Ryan's hand against his own, but he didn't want Ryan to hurt himself.

Both of them were pondering how the rest of their lives would turn out in heaven. Hell hadn't been what it was advertised as, and what if Heaven was the same, even if Dallon used to live here?

Ryan nibbled on his bottom lip at the thought, rubbing Dallon's hand, seeking comfort in the familiar gesture. His fingers found themselves wrapping around Dallon's uninhabited ring finger, gravitating closer to him until their shoulders were pressed together, somehow still perfectly comfortable in the thick sweaters even though the air in heaven was warm.

The angel finished typed something with one final clack, dropping the key in Dallon's outstretched hand. "The next shuttle should be arriving in a few minutes- show the driver your key and they'll take you to your house. While you're waiting, please familiarize yourself with your community layout and rules."

She glanced up at Dallon as she said the last word, pointing to another room off to the side, where different clusters of people sat, all wearing looks of anticipation.

Dallon stuck the key in his pocket and pulled Ryan towards him, taking a seat at one of the benches in the otherwise empty room. Another angel was handing out brochures, asking to see people's keys and shuffling through his pile of papers, handing out neon coloured cards to everybody.

As Ryan watched Dallon take in the room, hair skewing every which way, mouth turning up into a warm smile when he looked at Ryan- he knew he want to marry Dallon. He wanted to marry him so badly. Sure, things were moving a bit fast, but that was the nature of their relationship. Hell, Dallon and Ryan had sex before Ryan even knew what he looked like.

Now Ryan wanted to get married and settle down for the rest of eternity, to live a peaceful life with his favourite person. And he wanted to do it now.

"D-Dallon, I know this isn't the best time, b-but I... I really want to get married-" Ryan began, staring deeply into Dallon's eyes, fidgeting with his hands.

Dallon cut him off, pressing his finger to Ryan's lips, shaking his head. "Not here baby, not today. Today has already been long enough, and I want our proposal to be special."

Ryan nodded, resting his head on Dallon's shoulder, watching as the angel made his rounds to everyone. It seemed people of all ages and ethnicities were here- not that it surprised Ryan; they were in heaven after all, where only those who paid off all their sins went. It was still hard for him to wrap his head around the fact that him and Dallon had finally escaped hell.

He understood what Dallon meant- if they got engaged right now, it'd be lost to the other grand events of today, like getting killed once more and moving to heaven. Ryan didn't have anything to bring with him from hell except for the music box and Dallon, which was why he didn't feel any remorse for leaving behind that palace, even if it was the place Dallon worked so hard to make a safe space.

Now, they could do that in their home. If only Dallon could remember what it looked like- no matter how many times he racked his brain, he couldn't recall anything about the house, other than the flowers and fruits in his garden. He hoped nobody had touched them while he'd been gone; plants had a tendency to survive and flourish on their own in heaven, so the only way they'd be dead now was if someone trampled them. Dallon didn't remember much of his old life, but these plants held a dear spot in his heart, and he wanted to hold onto at least one thing from his days as a lone angel.

"Could I see your key?" The angel asked, holding out his hand for Dallon to drop the key in, nails painted the same colour as the woman's at the counter. Dallon quite liked how he didn't give them any second looks, eyes bright and lively, bouncing on his toes just as a child would.

He sifted through the different colours, handing Dallon back the key and a paper of the same turquoise colour, a golden seal stuck to the corner. Rules and regulations were printed out on one side, while the other had a map, stores all lining one main street.

Most of the rules were normal, forbidding sins of any kind with an exception for premarital intercourse. It had a snippet written at the bottom, how they recently changed their guidelines and it wasn't considered a sin anymore, just as they changed their guidelines in the 1940s when being gay was still a sin. Dallon didn't remember any of that garbage from the last time he was here, glad that it hadn't been imprinted in his mind while he was still young.

Then there were the niche rules, like garbage disposal routines or bus schedules, but the one that stood out to Ryan was the one about no currency being used.

It wrote that everything in heaven was free as long as you greeted the workers with a smile and left with a thank you, using common courtesy when interacting with retail workers. Ryan had briefly worked in retail where he met a plethora of rude old people, ones that wanted to speak with his manager about the smallest things, even about the colour of his hair. His past experiences made him appreciate that rule more, watching as Dallon folded the neon blue paper and stuffed it in his pant pocket.

"Are you excited, mon chéri?" Dallon asked, planting a kiss to Ryan's forehead.

"Mhm... I wonder what the house will look like." Ryan answered, resting his head on Dallon's bony shoulder.

"Whatever it is, we can fix it up and make it exactly how you want it, my pretty angel." Dallon cooed, wrapping and arm around Ryan and pulling him closer on the bench.

Ryan's body felt lighter than air as they boarded the bus, taking a seat near the front, hands clasped together. While Ryan watched the windows curiously, taking in every house with its flourishing gardens and lively gardens, bustling with life and vibrancy, Dallon just watched his angel, running his hand through Ryan's hair when the moment felt right. Everything felt more peaceful in heaven- even the air seemed easier to breathe, full of the scent of flowers and baked goods, something that soothed Ryan's soul to its bare bones.

They passed by every type of house imaginable- from mansions to trailer homes, all separated by fields of wildflowers and tangles of grass, people outside hanging up their clothes to dry or gardening.

As they slowed to go around a corner, Ryan spotted a familiar face, chasing around a cat outside of her house.

"Wait- stop the bus!" Ryan climbed over Dallon's lap in a hurry, running down the aisle before the bus's breaks stopped squealing and bursting out the door.

"Mom!" He ran towards her outstretched arms, falling into a hug, grinning wider than he ever had. "Mom, I missed you so much."

"What are you doing here Ryan?" Her voice wavered, worried about how Ryan died and ended up in heaven. She looked younger and more full of life now, cheeks rosy once again, all the skin back on her bones. She always gave the best hugs when he was younger, and it was bringing tears to Ryan's eyes to get to experience one again.

"I'm here with someone- I meant to come to heaven with him." Ryan didn't feel like explaining the entire story to his mother; there would be plenty of time for that in the future. Right now, he was hugging her tighter than he had in ages, beyond happy that he got to see her again. "W-Where's dad?"

His mother sighed, backing away from him with an apologetic look on her face. "Your father made some mistakes when he was younger... he's still paying them off down below, but I'm told he'll be here in a few months."

Ryan's father was in hell with him? Truth be told, Ryan didn't know him very well, but was looking forward to seeing him again soon.

Dallon eventually made his way off the shuttle, worried about what Ryan's mother would think of her son, dating a demon. But she only smiled and extended her hand, shaking Dallon's. "And this must be the someone I've heard about?"

"Mom, this is Dallon. Dallon, this is my mother." Ryan's heart fluttered, just as he fluttered his wings, introducing the two of them. He had dreamt of this day for ages, and finally, his mother was meeting his boyfriend. She'd always been accepting of him, but Ryan hadn't introduced any of his partners to her before.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Seaman." Dallon smiled his charming smile and Ryan knew everything would be alright. His mother was sizing up Dallon's limbs and his blank eyes, but she didn't say anything about them, golden sun shining down on all three of them.

They said their goodbyes, hugging and promising to stay in touch, boarding the bus again with lighter spirits. Dallon was glad to have met her, and Ryan was overjoyed to see her again.

The bus stopped at the end of a street, surrounded by a forest on all sides, more civilization behind them.

"What you're going to do is go straight through the forest, and your house should be there." The driver said, ushering them off the shuttle, music box in hand.

As the shuttle pulled away, Dallon and Ryan stared at the crowd of trees in front of them, unsure what to do.

"It's through there?" Ryan asked, hand finding Dallon's, a cool wind pushing his hair around.

"That's what he said sweetheart... only one way to find out, hm?" Dallon pulled Ryan forward with him, helping him step through the ditch around the end of the road, puddles soaking the bottom of their pants. Birds flew across the blanket of leaves and animals scurried away, but other than that, the forest was still, dried pine needles and leaves crunching beneath their feet as they swung their hands together.

Dallon hadn't smelled pure nature in a while, clear of smoke and smog, winds swishing the leaves around high above their heads. The trees swayed like people dancing, some branches coiled around each other, like they grew just to feel each other.

Dallon understood what that felt like- he'd grown a lot since first meeting Ryan, just so he could live with the love of his life forever.

And now, he'd gotten it, the one thing he was designed to never have. Love.

Finally, they reached the edge of the forest, a grand opening for as far as the eye could see. On their left was Dallon's old cottage- their new home, tucked away behind vines like it was hiding from the world, something Dallon could relate to well enough.

His garden had overgrown, flowers and plants he'd never seen before grown in clumps, bees dancing on top of their blossoming petals. All the curtains were pulled shut, windows dark and covered in a thick layer of pollen, some of the stones of the outside chipped away by weather, tin roof infested by rust. As they approached the tiny cottage, a black cat jumped out of nowhere, leaving a trampled trail of the tall grass in it's path.

On their right was a field of wild plants, tufts of tall grass, daffodils, baby's-breath and pansies blowing in the soft breeze, almost glowing in the intense sunlight. The grass went on for miles, like a sea of green and yellow, waves crashing over as the wind picked up.

Far past the sea of the meadow, Dallon could spot the glimmer of the actual ocean, reflecting the sun as if it was pieces of actual magic floating in the salt water, sparkles bobbing on top of the gently crashing waves. Dallon's strong ears could pick up the wash of the sea foam, fizzling as it rolled up on shore, pulling grains of sand into the shallow waters as it retracted.

"Dallon it's... perfect." Ryan turned around to beam at Dallon, cheeks shining in the daylight with golden brilliance.

"A perfect place for my perfect angel." Dallon murmured into Ryan's hair, resting his chin on top of the angel's head as Ryan breathed in the fresh air, the scent of flowers drifting through with a hint of the sea.

It was the paradise Ryan had never thought he'd crave.

Dallon helped him through the thick grass, finding the stepping stones between the locks of green that grazed their legs, moss growing in the cracks of the path.

The air was stale in the cottage, blasting them in the face as Dallon unlocked the front door and swung it open, stepping in. The floorboards creaked underneath their feet, taking in the empty shelves, frail houseplants just holding onto the last fragments of life and old books Dallon had never read, pages still the same condition as they were in centuries ago.

"It's not much, but..." Dallon sighed, swiping a shelf and inspecting the dust it left on his finger, walking deeper into the open rooms. "We can make it ours mon chéri, it'll be our home forever."

Right now, the cottage was still the remnants of Dallon's old life, a boring one without any true meaning or love.

But now, it was theirs to make their own.

Forever.

- BRENDON -

Brendon had only died once before, and it wasn't fun. Actually, it was one of the most stressful times of his life, standing in line at that prison of a building, awaiting his fate.

But now, Brendon couldn't be happier to see that building, standing in the same field he landed in.

He'd received another letter with instructions on what to do, where to wait, etc. Brendon didn't know how much he trusted these letters, but anything was better than staying in hell, constantly living in fear that he would be hurt.

And now, Brendon was lingering in the field, watching heavy clouds roll overhead. Impatience stirred in his mind, wishing he'd brought an umbrella and worn warmer clothes. The uniform didn't offer much in the way of heat, cold air seeping through the fabric, making all the hairs on his arm stand up.

Brendon was waiting for an angel to pull him from the depths of hell into heaven, or so he was told. To be truthful, there was still a lot Brendon didn't understand about the world, but he wasn't in a position to deny being saved from this nightmare and seeing his family again.

He really wanted to see his family more than anything, and Brendon would do anything to give them a better life.

"Hey- hey!" A voice called from behind him, and Brendon whipped around, heavy winds pushing his hair around.

An angel was walked towards him, face twisted in exasperation, rolling his eyes. Brendon had never seen anyone like him, with a pair of pristine white dove wings, brunette hair that covered their eyes and a baby face, holding innocence that was tainted by annoyance.

"Are you the guy going to heaven?" He asked, approaching Brendon slowly, feathers ruffled by the strong breeze. Brendon shivered and nodded, excitement draining out of him, replaced with anxiety.

"W-What's your name?" Brendon stuttered, teeth chattering together in the sudden frost that had overcome the field. He could barely hear the angel's answer over the howling winds, like a thousand voices screaming for Brendon to come to them, the worst song he had ever heard.

"That's none of your business." He answered, but Brendon spotted a name tag on their sweater vest that read 'R. ROSS, Guardian Angel' in flat gold letters. His voice was melodic, but his apparent headache was dulling it, making Brendon feel guilty for no reason.

"Are you my guardian angel?" Brendon shouted over the current of chilling air, losing feeling in his feet and fingers.

"Sadly, yes. I thought you were dead, dude." He rolled his eyes again, linking an arm through Brendon's trembling one, ignoring his worried look. "Here, drink this."

He pulled a bottle of water seemingly out of thin air, handing it to Brendon along with a tiny red pill with some lettering on the side. Brendon's hands shook as he took it, glancing at the angel's deadpan face and then back down at it, a knot of uncertainty tangling itself in the bottom of his stomach. "What's this going to do?"

The angel gave him a look, the same look Brendon gave his children when they were being difficult, narrowing his eyes. "It's going to give you wings."

"Really?"

"No. It's going to kill you dude." A hint of amusement hid in his voice, watching as Brendon warily swallowed it, gulping it down with the water. The sweet coating dissolved quickly, leaving it horribly sour in his mouth, trying to cough away the burn of his throat.

The last thing Brendon saw before everything went black was the angel's baby face, halo flickering as he struggled to lift Brendon up, body first going numb before his brain did.

When he woke up, everything was dark, mind groggy in the worst way possible. Brendon felt like he had awoken from a nap, eyes bleary, head stuffed full of cotton as he drifted heavenward.

"Dude, why do you weight so much?" The angel's boyish voice filled his head, groaning as Brendon felt his arms under his, body hanging in the abyss of nothingness. If he was fully conscious, Brendon would've retaliated, but words were too much work to form right now. Everything was too much work, even staying awake, someone's invisible hands choking him.

Brendon let his mind ride the waves of the void, softly crashing down around him in violet and navy ripples as they neared the surface. His mind floated in an odd type of consciousness, aware that he was moving towards somewhere warm, like Florida, but nothing more.

He gave up fighting his itch to sleep and let his brain shut down, body completely limp in the angel's arms, only thinking about the look on Sarah's face when they would be reunited. It was peaceful to finally let go, in a deeper sleep than Brendon had ever been in before, skin warmed by the rays of the distant sun.

"Hey, wake up." The angel called out, and then someone was gently slapping Brendon's face, and then shaking him. Roughly. "You're here."

Brendon stood up much too fast, legs collapsing under him, tumbling back into the greenest grass he'd ever seen. It dug into his elbows as he propped himself up, like the rigid turf of a golf course, neon and blinding. The angel was standing back from Brendon, staring down at him with judging eyes, wings drooping behind him.

"Alright, my work here is done. You should be able to find your family in that building over there." He pointed to as small yellow house as he walked away, wiping away the black sludge that rolled off his white wings in beads.

Brendon's heart thudded at the thought of his family, legs wobbling beneath him as he stood up again, darting into the yellow building and looking around frantically.

His chest deflated when he couldn't spot their familiar faces, doubts that he was even in heaven popping up, gnawing at his heart.

Had he made a mistake?

"Daddy!" Tyler's tiny voice rang out, hugging Brendon's legs from behind, almost knocking over the already unsteady man.

"Ty?!" Brendon exclaimed, looking down at his son, and then up at Sarah's broken face. "Sarah?"

"Brendon," She whimpered, running into Brendon's arms, carrying Abby with her. Tears dripped down both of their faces, both encumbered with too many emotions to handle, sobbing into each other's shoulders.

"God Brendon, w-what happened?" Sarah sniffled as she pulled away, black locks of hair tangled by their hug, sky eyes glassy and full of new tears. "I heard you were hit by a car, and then we got a letter, and everything was so hard, and-"

Her voice cracked on the last word, interrupted by a sob, shifting Abigail from one hip to the other. Brendon had never seen her so distraught and joyful at the same time- he had also never seen her so full of life. Her skin had a heavenly glow, hollow cheeks now plump and pink, hair cascading over her back in glossy curls.

She was just as beautiful as the day Brendon married her- maybe even more beautiful now, carrying their children.

"We're safe now Sarah, we're in heaven together. We can give the kids everything they need." Brendon's throat closed up, swallowing back the lump that inhabited it, too overwhelmed to care that he was crying even more.

As they hugged again, Tyler hugged their legs, weeping happy tears into the fabric of each other's clothes. Hearts were overflowing with too much glee to hold back their short sobs, reunited finally.

Brendon never wanted to let his family out of his sight ever again. It was still hard to believe he could give his children everything they deserved, that him and Sarah could live in harmony forever.

The house they were given was bigger than anything they'd ever had, even though it was just an ordinary two story. Brendon kept checking the corners for hidden cameras as Sarah inspected the home, fully furnished with things they would've never been able to afford.

The pantry was filled with the type of food Brendon couldn't steal, closets full of clean, un-tattered clothes, a bedroom for Tyler and a nursery for Abby.

The past week had felt like a nightmare to Brendon, and now, he felt as if he was having a fever dream. Brendon had never lived in a place so calm and nonviolent, where the sun always shined and animals coexisted peacefully, where they didn't fight him for trash and their fur was smooth and soft.

It felt like the happy ending to every soap opera he had ever watched, when everyone's lives settled down.

And it was all he had ever wanted.

- END OF ACT 6 -

Chapter Text

- RYAN & DALLON -

The past few months had been the brightest months of both their lives.

Life seemed to move as fast as strawberry syrup, sweet, sugary molasses that coated both of them, time dripping through a golden hourglass.

Dallon and Ryan had fixed up the house so that it was their home, their safe place that reeked of happiness, the two of their personalities mashed together.

Plants of every kind lined their windowsills, vines spilling over the pots, climbing up the frames of the windows. Their house was surrounded by rosebushes, vases of the carefully plucked flowers sitting in every room, catching light like stained glass. It painted the walls with different glowing hues, the silhouettes of the delicate flowers perfect for drawing, petals perfect for romantic baths.

Candles were always lit, beads of wax dripping down the fingers, flames flickering in the breeze from Ryan's wings. They never went out, fire burning on throughout the violet of the night, shining like the brilliance of Ryan's halo.

A record player sat in their corner, Dallon's new collection of vinyls underneath it, needle always running in the grooves of the records. Sometimes Ryan and him would dance in between the moments of the day, bodies swaying together, sharing soft whispers and gentle kisses. Dallon had taught Ryan well enough that their feet no longer met, hands buried in each other's hair, stepping in time to the twinkle of the piano.

Their garden thrived under their special care, days spent weeding and tending to the outdoor plants' leaves, listening to the peaceful music drift outside through the window.

Ryan's skin seemed to trap the sun in its pores, a yellow glow accompanying him whenever he moved. After spending so much time in the bright beams of sunlight, his skin was bronzed a sweet caramel colour, miles of tan skin for Dallon to savour.  On the contrary, Dallon couldn't stay in the sun for long without getting a sunburn, so he stuck to long sleeves and lazing in the shade. He was more than happy enough to watch his angel bask in the golden sunlight, halo glimmering, wings just as purely white as Dallon's eyes. Sometimes he'd sit in the natural shade of the garden and admire Ryan's glow, perched on one of their chairs, dark waves of hair curling around his ears.

Over the months, Ryan had let his natural hair colour grow back in, waves of dark chocolate hair sweeping across his face. Dallon would trim it in their kitchen when it started to get too long for comfort, snipping off the edges and leaving the curls that framed his face.

While Ryan flourished in the sun, Dallon always twinkled in the moonlight, skin glowing like he was a spectre. Dallon always came alive at night, eyes ignited by the mysterious gleam of the moon, shadows cast across his face in familiar patterns. Ryan would feel his milky skin under his fingers, pondering how Dallon could be so ghostly and yet so real, kisses light and soft with the occasional teasing bite. If Ryan closed his eyes for even one moment, when he opened them Dallon would be on top of him, wearing a devilish half-smirk, his sharp teeth glimmering in the moonlight. The darkness of his tendrils would envelope Ryan, the taste of bittersweet chocolate on Dallon's tongue, happy tears catching the mystical light that filtered in through the window.

And when the slow times of life would find the two and they'd sleep, Dallon's fingers would weave between Ryan's, the two worlds of heat and frost coming together in perfect harmony, just as the sun and moon coexisted in the canvas of the sky. The warmth of the sun would disappear into the night, just as the magic of the moon would fade into the light of day, and one would watch the other bloom in their respective shine when their time came.

At dusk and dawn the opposites would collide, the rich gold of the sky accompanying them as they embarked on their adventures. The two environments would come awake at those times; bright, cheerful animals would emerge at dawn, while the dark, strange creatures would prowl at dusk, a forest coming alive in front of them.

Ryan and Dallon would explore that forest, walking delicately over flora and fauna, hands grasping each other. Dallon would help Ryan over the clear streams, finding empty patches in the thick blanket of trees to dance in, sitting in the thin beams of sunlight that the leaves allowed through.

When they'd pass mushrooms, arranged in an odd circle, Dallon would grip Ryan close to him and warm him not to deviate off the path. Ryan would feel a strong urge to inspect the circle of mushrooms, guided to the enchanting ring by an invisible force, ears picking up the faint sound of beautifully melodic music playing. If he squinted hard enough, he could almost make out people dancing, beckoning Ryan to join their joyful celebration.

"Ryan, no, you can't go," Dallon would grab hold of the end of Ryan's shirt and gently pull him back closer, watching the circle with narrowed eyes.

"But why? I just wanna look..." Ryan couldn't help put pout, the sound of jaunty music growing louder in his ears, gravity pulling him towards the bewitching ring of fungus. They were all capped with bright red hats, speckled with white spots like every cartoon mushroom Ryan had seen ever.

"Come on sweetheart, it's not safe around here." Dallon's voice would be firm, wrapping an arm around Ryan's frame and a tendril around his wrist in case the fae tried to lure him in again.

Dallon had read his fair share of tales about fairy rings and their dangers, especially to young angels like Ryan. He knew that they could easily drag Ryan in to the portal, bringing him to another land where he'd be turned upside down and lost forever, where time would pass differently, and moss would grow into his hair.

"I thought nowhere was dangerous in heaven?" Ryan asked once they had entered another end of the woods, surrounded by trees cloaked by thousands of butterflies. It was Ryan's favorite part of the woods, where they'd flutter their rainbow wings in a mesmerizing pattern, some graciously landing in his hair.

"Technically, but fairy rings could take you far away my love, far enough that time moves faster than we can comprehend." Dallon tucked Ryan's hair behind his ear, smiling at the resemblance between the butterflies and his own angelic butterfly. "The fae would have their fun with a curious little angel like you sweetheart, but I'd never see you again."

Ryan processed the information, holding out a finger for a blue butterfly to land on, wings flapping slowly in the soft breeze. "...So it's a trap? Why didn't you go?"

"Fairy magic doesn't work on a fallen angel like me, mon chéri," Dallon explained. "You see, the fae are fallen angels themselves, yet a different type. They live in heaven, but sometimes their worlds get distorted and they end up on earth, which is where innocent humans are taken to the land of the fae. They especially like angels because they share a resemblance to fae, and faeries are mischievous little creatures who would love to steal a fresh pair of wings and a beautiful halo."

On rainy days, when they couldn't lounge in the jewels of the sky, Ryan and Dallon would sit on their new couch bundled up in the quilts from their bed, watching every movie Dallon hadn't had the chance to see. He hated the horror ones, which resulted in Ryan reassuring him, and they'd spend the rest of the movie kissing, pushing each other down into the cushions.

Dallon's poems and artworks lined the walls, taped to every empty space in their house, every single one holding a dear place in Ryan's heart. He loved it when Dallon would sit at his desk and work away, sometimes asking Ryan to pose for him, drawings of the two of them sharing cute moments. His paints were made up of natural pigments, like the raspberries from the bush outside their house, or the rainbow flowers that swooned in the wind, like they'd just read one of Dallon's romantic poems.

'Liquid amber lives in his eyes, a golden elixir that runs through the world's most cherished rivers, sunbeams finding themselves into his toasted skin. Lashes as thick as a raven's wings, I want to feel them flutter against my neck as he slips into dreamland, cheeks blooming like the flesh of peaches. Constellations of freckles dot the sky of his skin, making me crave to study the world of diamonds right in front of me.'

Since they didn't know many people in heaven, Dallon and Ryan had dinners with Brendon's family and his mother, the type of big family dinners Dallon had always read of in his favourite stories. They were loud on his sensitive ears, but Dallon loved the laughter and bustle of those dinners, listening to Tyler's absurd stories and Abby's toddler blabbering. Him and Tyler would play hide-and-seek, experiencing the childhood in Dallon he never had, bolting around the house as the adults chatted.

"I'm gonna get you Ty..." Dallon crept around the corner, looking for the curly-haired tyke, ears picking up his tiny laughs. "Is he in the... closet?!"

The demon threw open the closet doors, scooping up the giggling boy and swinging him around, setting him down on the front door mat. "Who's turn is it now?"

"I'm gonna be the monster now." Tyler declared, bouncing on the tips of his toes. "Hey Uncle Dal... were you always a demon?"

Dallon nodded, ruffling out the coils of Tyler's hair, showing Tyler his sharp teeth. It always made the kid laugh, the only child that was amused by Dallon's scare tactics, chasing him down their bedroom hallway while their socks slipped on the hardwood.

"You're funny." Tyler said, shrieking as Dallon tickled his stomach, nearly running into Ryan as he raced after Brendon's kid.

"You guys having fun?" Ryan asked, carrying a pitcher of lemonade and a jar of violet syrup, both made from the things in their garden.

Dallon only chuckled in return, watching as Tyler disappeared into their laundry room, pressing his back against the wall like he used to when he preyed on a human.

Playing with Tyler awoken something in Dallon, his yearn to have his own childhood. Dallon had been born an adult, burdened with responsibilities since the moment he was created, working under God as a guardian angel.

But now he could prowl his own house, playing games with a child like he was young too, having fun with Tyler. Dallon's life had never been so carefree, finally not worried about what others saw of him, because they all accepted Dallon for who he truly was.

Sometimes, he laid awake at night listening to Ryan's steady breaths, wondering how he got it so good. A year ago, Dallon had snuck into Ryan's car and followed him to his apartment, planting his first nightmare in his mind. And now, Ryan was dreaming of flying kites with the demon, courtesy of Dallon's still present powers, snuggled up right against him.

It was everything Dallon had ever wanted.

As he laid in the bed on this warm summer night, Dallon gazed out the open window, curtains blowing in the gentle breeze. The moon hung over the water like the jewel of a necklace, one that Mother Nature wore at night, seductive and secretive. The human eye wouldn't be able to spot the high tide of the ocean, but Dallon watched it ripple against the sand, leaving seaweed in its path as an offering to whomever roamed the beach this late at night.

Him and Ryan swam in that water a few days ago, legs caressed by the slimy weeds at the bottom of the sea, floating on top of the salty waves. At the beginning, they splashed each other and fooled around, but as dusk fell onto heaven, Ryan's body found Dallon's under the clear waters.

He clung to Dallon like the current would separate them, softly massaging every scar on the demon's chest, wings creating waves as he flapped them slowly behind him. Ryan knew that Dallon's shame still lingered, but it was smaller than ever, beaten by the unconditional love they shared that blinded both of them.

The golden thread had faded into Dallon's skin, a reminder of what had happened when they were separated. Neither of them ever talked about that time, accepting it for what it was and moving forward together for the rest of eternity.

They had taken the sunshine from Dallon's life, and his mind fell into shadows, submerged by darkness and poison at every turn. But now, all Dallon ever felt was sunshine, Ryan's warm skin rubbing against his, or the rays that bleached his hair lighter, feeding every one of their plants.

That same sunshine followed them everywhere, from when Dallon carried a tired out Ryan back to the house after spending their day down at the water, or when they'd dance outdoors, mindful of the animals that visited them. Sometimes, when they got too caught up the the magic of the moment, Ryan wouldn't see the cat behind him and trip over it's slim body, caught by Dallon before hitting the ground.

Dallon's sunshine was never out of reach, always there to hug and fondle, blinding Dallon with his unbelievable brightness. Ryan dressed in thin, flowy shirts, fabric veiling his tanned skin, knowing how much Dallon loved to see that tawny colour peeking out from under the cloth.

One morning, Ryan was cutting lemons from their lemon tree for their tea. The knife clacked against the cutting board, slices flopping over on their side, citrus juice squirting onto Ryan's apron.

The kitchen still smelled like toasted honey and vanilla from the cake they baked yesterday, sitting on their counter alongside their miscellaneous jars of dried flowers and candy. Every time they found something new in the forest, they dropped it in one of those jars, keeping memories of their happiest days always in sight. Ryan's favourite jar was the one full of sea glass, especially when the sun would hit it just right and every shard would glow, like magic flowed through its veins.

Dallon was outside in their garden, picking fresh mint and chamomile for their respective teas. His hair glowed in the sunlight, like Ryan's favourite caramel taffy, turned wavy by the salty seawater, dried by the heat. Even though the days were warm, the cool breeze cured the hot weather, pushing Dallon's salt-crusted hair around, ruffled sleeves billowing around him as he knelt down and plucked leaves from their plants.

Ryan smiled to himself at Dallon, tending to their garden so delicately, lanky legs folded beneath him. He had always dressed fancily, but these days he dressed like a fairytale prince, with his suit vests and loose fitting shirts tucked into his slacks, glasses folded over his lapel. The scene of Dallon in their garden was a common one these days, like he lived in the frilly frame of a classical painting, elegant and whimsical.

He loved Dallon so much, especially these days. Ryan was beyond comfortable with Dallon, sharing every little thing with him, legs wrapped around him in their intimate moments. They had no shortage of new things to try, and Ryan was never embarrassed to tell Dallon anything he wanted, only getting all shy on him for show.

Across the room, Ryan spotted a new drawing taped to the wall, one of Dallon's ink ones. He abandoned the fresh lemons and strode over to it, inspecting the careful scratches of Dallon's pen against the paper.

It was of a woman, standing in a field and staring at the sun, dress flowing behind her in the wind. She looked so peaceful, flowers tucked into her hair, eyes gazing wistfully into the horizon.

Ryan might be gay, but she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, eyelashes brushing against her high cheekbones. The dress hugged her torso but trailed behind her, tulle wrapped around her legs like a serpent around a sword.

He wanted a dress like that.

He wanted to wear something that celestial, strings of pearls curled around his waist, something so purely angelic that regals in paintings wore. Delicate material that would cover Ryan's skin, lace crawling up his sides, satin fabric that would embrace his body like Dallon's tendrils.

Ryan wanted to wear a dress, to look as beautiful as the woman in Dallon's drawing.

But what would Dallon think? Sure, Ryan could tell him everything, but this was different.

As much as Dallon was accepting, he was still old fashioned at heart. Him and Dallon could try however many things in the bedroom, but could Ryan wear a dress?

There was no sense in not asking him- they were in heaven after all, where there was no room for hesitation to be themselves.

So Ryan took the drawing into his hands, staring into the woman's glassy eyes, little flower petals cupping her cheek like a lover's hand. He watched as Dallon walked around the house, door slamming behind him as he came inside, a butterfly perched on his shoulder.

Animals seemed to flock to Dallon, following him around outside like the demon was a Disney princess. Cats, deer, insects and rabbits- they all migrated to Dallon, crawling onto his lap or stepping over his legs, plopping themselves down around them.

Panic swirled in Ryan's chest, standing in the middle of the kitchen, clutching Dallon's drawing to his chest. What if Dallon didn't like it? What if he thought it was weird, like Ryan wasn't the same person he fell in love with?

"I found this little guy outside, and he doesn't want to leave me... I think I'm going to name him Ryan." Dallon smirked as the butterfly hopped onto his extended finger, fluttering it's wings. Ever since Ryan had gained his wings, Dallon loved the butterflies that swarmed around them in heaven, donning the same dainty, graceful wings as his angel.

"Um, Dal..." Ryan shifted his weight from one foot to the other, avoiding Dallon's curious eyes. "Can I ask something?"

"What's wrong, mon chéri?" Dallon transferred the butterfly to rest on the curls of his hair, chest tightening at Ryan's behaviour. He hadn't looked this conflicted since they first arrived, an emotion Dallon hadn't seen on his love's face in ages. It made him nervous, praying that nothing ever wronged his precious angel, not wanting to fight anyone while he was carrying a fragile butterfly.

"Could I... Could I wear something like this?" Ryan rushed the last part, handing the paper to Dallon in a flurry, looking out the window and at the swaying leaves of their lemon tree.

Dallon took the paper warily, running his eyes over his own drawing, realization clicking in his head.

His angel wanted to wear a dress.

Dallon froze up, which Ryan accidentally mistook for disgust, hiding his face in his hands. His heart fell, craving to sink into the floor and disappear out of embarrassment.

"Oh god, Dallon, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, I- I-" Ryan's face blossomed bright red, praying that Dallon didn't leave him now. He felt so dumb, wishing he never said anything about it and buried those thoughts, unlike every other thing he'd blurted to Dallon.

But Ryan's words hurt Dallon's tender heart, unfamiliar to any pain in the past few months except the hot sand on his feet. He couldn't stop imagining how beautiful his angel would look in a dress, how his skin would feel underneath the soft fabric, how happy his angel would be when Dallon would get him every pretty dress he wanted.

"Oh mon dieu, my adorable rose, of course you can wear a dress darling- you don't have to ask me baby, I'd love to see you in one." Dallon hugged his blushing flower to his chest, grinning as Ryan melted into his arms, face pink for an entirely different reason. "Aw chéri, we can go later today and you can try on every one you'd like, okay sweetheart?"

Ryan nodded, smiling into Dallon's chest, heart light as he fluttered his wings. It was the best response he could've anticipated, reaching up to cup Dallon's jaw and kiss him.

The sound of their kettle screaming broke the moment into pieces, butterfly clinging to Dallon's hair as he rushed over to turn off the stove, placing the basket of herbs on the counter.

After drinking their tea and cleaning the kitchen, Dallon and Ryan walked to the mall and slipped into a store, shifting through the racks for anything Ryan liked. Ryan's stomach housed his own swarm of butterflies, glancing back at Dallon's face ever few seconds for approval, nerves calmed by his wide grin.

But when Ryan disappeared into the changing room and returned, Dallon's grin dissolved, mouth parted in awe.

"Oh mon dieu..." Dallon was speechless, watching his angel duck his head down shyly, white dress swishing around his legs.

He was stunning.

"Turn around sweetheart, let me see the back." Dallon said, heart quivering as Ryan blushed deeper and spun around, dress following.

"I really like this one, but..." Ryan chewed his lips, facing back to Dallon, halo glimmering in the fluorescent changing room lights. Nobody else was around, but it wouldn't really matter if they were. So far, everyone in heaven had been accepting of the two of them, not the normal dirty looks Ryan was used to when he'd walk with his partner.

It was refreshing, but more so, it was peaceful. Ryan didn't have any worries in the world other than what they'd make for dinner, or if a rabbit would dig up their plants again, roots carelessly thrown to the side.

"Do you like it?" Ryan finished his sentence, brushing away the dark hair that fell into his face, letting Dallon stand and take him into his embrace.

"Of course I do darling, you look absolutely gorgeous, but it doesn't matter what I like. Do you like it, mon chéri?" Dallon pulled away from Ryan, resting his hands on his hips, thumbs digging into the delicate fabric of the dress. He could nearly hear the thud of Ryan's heart, speeding up as he nodded, looking down at himself in the airy garment.

It made Ryan feel like a Greek goddess, as if the dress was made of cascading clouds, waterfalls of the tulle streaming down his legs. It was something he never would have had the courage to wear on earth, but being with Dallon in heaven made Ryan feel indestructible, like his high mountain of confidence would never be destroyed again.

Man, if only Ronnie could see him now.

So Ryan wore dresses on some days, and Dallon sewed holes into the back for his wings, feathers brushing against the floaty fabric. Dallon had no shortage of compliments, helping his angel step over streams and creeks, eyes filled with nothing but pure adoration.

Dallon knew Ryan was waiting for him to propose, but Dallon himself was waiting for the perfect day. It was hard to choose just one- everyday was perfect, even the days when storm clouds would block out the sun and the skies would open, watering their treasured garden. The thunder was comforting, a background noise to their simple activities, like Dallon's writing or Ryan's reading.

But Dallon knew he couldn't keep waiting out until the most perfect day- he was going to make the day he proposed perfect, from the beginning to end. His angel deserved nothing less.

The day started slowly, waking up tangled together, sun setting the entire room on golden fire. Neither of them got out of bed quickly, silently sharing kisses and soft nips at each other's necks.

Eventually, both of them got dressed, Dallon much faster than Ryan. He sat his angel down in front of the mirror and helped him tie up the back of his dress, kissing paths up the back of Ryan's neck, reaching across the bed for his thick bristled dandy brush. They were made specifically for angel wings, to smooth out feathers that poked out of place.

Every morning Dallon brushed Ryan's feathers, disheveled from sleep, feeling the soft wings under his fingertips. When he was done, Dallon began to brush Ryan's hair too, weaving flowers into his angel's dark hair. Ryan watched himself be pampered in the mirror, blushing as Dallon's slender fingers braided the stems around locks, wearing a crown of petals.

Ryan wasn't supposed to like dainty things. He wasn't supposed to wear dresses, and flower crowns and tend to his garden. Hell, Ryan used to plays the drums in a rock band, used to wear leather jackets with spikes and tolerate Ronnie's raspy voice.

But... Ryan loved this so much better. Life was peaceful, and he could spend it around people he loved without worries. It was much better than his exhausted, caffeine-filled life alone, abused by the band he didn't even care about anymore.

"Oh my lord..." Dallon finished braiding in the last flower, staring at Ryan in the mirror in astonishment, head resting on Ryan's shoulder. Ryan's heart sped, nervous about what Dallon was gawking at, like he'd just seen a ghost.

"Wh-what's wrong?" Ryan stammered, staring back at himself, dress wrapped around his torso, legs dangling off the bed.

"You are the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen." Dallon declared, tucking Ryan's hair behind his ear, planting a kiss to his pink cheek.

Ryan turned six shades redder, having no choice but to look down in modesty, swinging his legs. "Dallon... you say that every day."

Dallon smirked, coiling a tendril around Ryan's open hand, pressing himself up against Ryan's back. "I know darling, but every day you get more and more beautiful. I always wonder how you'll top it, and then the next day you're the prettiest little thing I've ever seen."

Ryan's heart melted, unable to handle how much love he had for Dallon. He was showered with adoration every day, but it always made his stomach ache in the best way possible, shivering with bashfulness.

He turned around and pushed Dallon down on the bed, kissing him, hard. Dallon squeaked in surprise, an unusual sound for him to make; Dallon was normally on top and in charge, and Ryan was the one making surprised noises.

But Dallon regained control quickly, cupping Ryan's jaw as they kissed, smiling against each other's lips as sunshine and warmth grew in their chests. Dallon let Ryan press him into their pillows, liquid sweetness dripping down his throat and into his heart, pooling as Ryan's tongue prodded at his mouth.

"God, I love you." Ryan said breathlessly when he pulled away for air, halo knocked sideways, lips wet and cherry red.

"I love you too, my beautiful angel." Dallon propped himself upright on the bed, brushing Ryan's hair out of his eyes and fixing the flowers. "I love you more than anything in the world, my gorgeous sunshine."

Ryan folded his hands on his lap and blushed, looking away from Dallon, heart stuttering in his chest.

What did he do to deserve Dallon?

As they finally got out of bed and went on with their day, Dallon came up with the perfect proposal. He would take Ryan out for a picnic in the field, and then as the sun set and the birth of night set upon heaven, he would ask Ryan.

Dallon had gotten the ring not long after they arrived in heaven, sneaking away while Ryan was out with his mother, hiding it in high spots Ryan couldn't reach. He had it custom made, something that represented their entire relationship, that had been their's since day one.

When Dallon went to tell Ryan about having a picnic, he found him watering their indoor plants, picking off any dead leaves. Even though Ryan denied it completely, sometimes Dallon heard him whispering to the plants, naming everyone one of them after some band Dallon had never heard of.

"How is Billie doing?" Dallon snuck up behind him, wrapping his arms around Ryan's waist as the angel tipped the watering can into the fern's pot.

"He's alright, but Mike's kinda droopy..." Ryan's mouth twisted into a frown, holding up the floppy leaves of the English Ivy, giving it a healthy dose of water. Dallon chuckled and kissed the soft skin of Ryan's neck, working his way forward until Ryan turned around and kissed him back, walking past him to put the watering can away.

"What do you say we have a picnic tonight?" Dallon asked, following Ryan into the kitchen, watching his angel's dress trail after him. "Some sandwiches, some soup, some fruit... anything you want."

Ryan looked up from where he was washing the dishes, cocking his head sideways and smiling skeptically. "What's the occasion?"

Dallon cleared his throat nervously, praying Ryan didn't figure it out too early. "Nothing, I just want to treat my love tonight."

Ryan nodded slowly, sleeves rolled up as he scrubbed a plate with a sponge, soapy water splashing up. "Alright, I'll let you treat me."

Dallon laughed at Ryan's smug smile, making himself useful next to Ryan, taking the dishes out of his hand. "Here, I'll do these, you go relax sweetheart."

The rest of the day slipped by quickly, finishing their normal chores before lazing around in the garden, Ryan sitting in the blazing sun while Dallon sat under an umbrella.

And before he knew it, Dallon was closing the front door behind them, one hand around the picnic basket and the other entwined with Ryan's. All afternoon his angel had been giving him pensive smiles, glancing quickly at him and then back, like he was trying to discover Dallon's little secret. Ryan must have an idea by now- he knew Dallon was going to propose one day, just never when. And he definitely knew what he was going to answer.

They had waited until the sun was in front of them, burning a deep orange colour, the same as the sunrise, but different in a million ways.

Fireflies had begun to fly about, flickering around their legs as they embarked out into the field, walking the path they'd made after days of trampling the tall grass. Bugs and insects poked out of the field as they passed them, saying nothing more than a short 'hello!' before continuing whatever journey the critters were on. Dallon's legs brushed against Ryan's dress as they walked in comfortable silence, sharing little grins as they listened to the sounds of nature around them, leaves stirring on trees and the distant noise of waves crashing. As much as they were familiar noises, Ryan always listened like it was his first time hearing them, peaceful sounds of the world continuing as their time slowed.

The sun had just begun to disappear when they found the perfect spot, laying down the blanket Ryan's mom had knitted, passing the containers of food around. Butterflies passed them, an air of hurry about them as dusk fell, fluttering their wings in a greeting and goodbye.

The food was warm and filling, just as Dallon's food always was. Ryan cooked occasionally, but Dallon was the self-crowned champion of making meals, body smelling like vanilla and mint at the end of the day.

Neither of them shared a word the entire time except a soft 'thank you', letting nature fill their ears, the ghost of the moon hanging in the blue portion of the sky.

After packing up the wicker basket, Ryan sat next to Dallon and kissed his cheek, gazing at the sky above them. He was too mesmerized by the sunset to see Dallon's head turn, a proud smile on his face, wrapping an arm around Ryan's shoulder.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Dallon broke the silence, staring at the majestic sky, admiring it like it was a painting.

It was hard to believe it wasn't a painting- bursts of red and orange streaked the blue canvas, muddling into purples and yellows, a symphony of colours that only the stars could hear. The sun donned a thin veil of clouds, wispy wings of mist flapping as it's warmth drowned in the night sky, burning past the horizon as the colours dipped after it. The night sky soaked the smothering masterpiece in navy ink, stars following in a mysterious silence, serious yet twinkling with riddles the universe couldn't untangle. The face of the night displayed them like bejeweled freckles, the all-seeing eye of the moon appearing behind them, holding a finger up to the constellation of her lips.

The night never told anyone what it saw, wise beyond millenniums, carrying secrets like a bag of dazzling jewelry. With every new answer to a question she held, a new star appeared, the price you paid for leaving your secret with her. She held millions of Dallon's mysteries, his collection of stars spanning far past the atmosphere could hold, bracelets, brooches and earrings of light she wore on her sapphire body.

God had created the night to guard the runes of the human mind, mysteries and riddles humanity would never learn the answer to, safe under her midnight wings. But maybe she departed with piece of herself when Dallon was turned dark, veins running with the ebony of her rich tapestry, part of the night twisted into his DNA. And if Dallon could appreciate the night as a mystical goddess of secrecy,

maybe he could love himself just as he loved her.

Dallon reached into his pocket to feel the square box, but when he glanced at Ryan, he discovered he was fast asleep on his shoulder, eyelids shining in the moonlight. Careful not to wake him, Dallon sighed and smiled, taking his softly snoring angel into his arms.

Maybe tonight wasn't the night- it didn't matter much to Dallon. He'd gotten another wonderful night with the love of his life, and there were many more nights he could propose on in their future.

Half asleep, Ryan wrapped his legs around Dallon as he picked him up, dress pulled up his thigh. Dallon left their picnic basket behind and carried his love back to their house, fireflies parting as he walked the path, bobbing their yellow lights in farewell.

He wasn't concerned about leaving the basket- nobody ever dared steal anything in heaven, and it wasn't supposed to rain overnight. Even if an animal got into, they could always replace the wicker basket, blanket and dishes, but Dallon couldn't replace the way Ryan mumbled nonsense into his shoulder, that was he adorably pushed his nose closer into Dallon's neck.

Dallon pushed open their front door with his back, mindful of his angel's wings, tucking them close to his back gently. Moths fled to the low light of their house, making Dallon slam the door a little more forcefully, sound ricocheting through the cottage.

But a peek at Ryan's sleepy face relieved Dallon, holding him close and turning off the lamp in the living room, guided by the soft yellow glow of Ryan's halo.

As he set Ryan down on the pillows, cradling his sleeping head and easing him slowly into bed, Dallon stepped back and smiled.

God, his angel was beautiful.

The flowers in his hair were hanging on to their last hours of life, faded and wilted by their day, stems threaded around the ash-black curls. He laid blissfully against the pillows, wings folded behind him, looking as gentle and still as Dallon's favourite butterflies.

Ryan was Dallon's sleeping beauty, curling up and sighing into the pillow, hugging his arms to his chest.

And Dallon wanted to marry him.

Reluctantly, Dallon looked both ways and pulled the box out of his pocket, like he was expecting someone else to be there to see.

Waves of nervousness crashed down over Dallon, filling his chest with uncertainty. Was he really going to do this tonight?

No, no. Dallon was going to slip it on Ryan's finger while he slept, and then wait for him to wake up and notice it. It was a perfect plan, surprising his love with a ring in the morning and popping the question.

Dallon crawled onto the bed, taking Ryan's limp hand into his own, hand shaking as he slid the ring onto Ryan's finger. He knew what Ryan's answer would be in the morning, but Dallon was still anxious.

What if Ryan said no? How was Dallon supposed to live with that?

As Dallon finished putting the ring onto Ryan's finger, the angel's eyes snapped open, sitting up quickly in bed.

"D-Dal? Mmf..." Ryan rubbed his eyes with the ring-bearing hand, pulling it away and staring in surprise. "What's this?"

Dallon's heart trembled, holding onto his love's hand, placing his other one on top of it. "My sunshine, my precious rose, mon chéri..."

Dallon took a deep breath in.

"Ryan Eric Seaman, will you marry me?"

Ryan's eyes widened in surprise, face breaking into a shocked smile, lower lip quivering. "R-Really?"

His heart thumped in his ears, all the blood rushing to his head making him woozy, staring at the ring in astonishment.

It glimmered in the soft glow of Ryan's halo, tiny jewels placed in the center of the rose, rose-gold petals folded over each other. Little leaves of pink-gold poked out from under the rose heads, some of them further down the band, like the ring was a rose vine coiling around Ryan's finger.

He loved it.

"Y-Yes, yes!" Ryan nodded frantically, jumping up on Dallon's lap, happy tears slipping down his cheeks. Dallon beamed in response, taking his love into his arms and kissing him deeply, nearly whimpering with raw happiness.

Both their hearts pounded in union, gasping for air in between kisses, unable to contain their pure glee. Dallon ran his hand through Ryan's hair, flowers falling to the bed, cheeks dampened by Ryan's glistening tears.

They were the best type of tears, rolling onto Dallon's hand as he stroked his fiancé's cheek, running his hand over his cheekbones as Ryan laughed softly and kissed him more forcefully.

It was hard to believe that a few months ago Dallon was laying in a bathtub, wondering if he'd ever feel anything again while Ryan was tortured. It felt like a bad dream now, like it had never really happened in the first place.

And now, they were getting married. That was the only thought running through Ryan's head as Dallon laid him down and crawled over him, his weight pressing Ryan into the mattress as he resumed their making out.

"Dallon, Dallon-" Ryan said breathlessly, staring up at Dallon with wide eyes. "I-I wanna feel you, please."

Dallon outright growled, catching Ryan's bottom lip between his teeth in a rush of possessiveness. "Of course baby, anything for my perfect little angel."

Ryan began to blush, looking down in embarrassment, breaths growing more ragged. "Um, Dal, could I... could you..."

Dallon sat back on his haunches, pulling Ryan up until he was sitting upright.

"It's okay baby boy, you know I'll give you whatever you want." Dallon's hand caught Ryan's again, rubbing the new ring, reminding him of how much he loved him.

"I- I-" Ryan was adorably shy, which only fueled Dallon's hunger, so enamored with how cute his angel was when he got all embarrassed.

"I want you to call me your little prince..." Ryan ruffled his wings, hiding his face away in Dallon's neck, blurting out the words. He was embarrassed of the new pet name, even though he wanted to be Dallon's little prince more than words could describe.

Dallon's heart jumped at Ryan's sentence, falling into that dominant headspace where Ryan was his to play with, sucking at his love's jaw. "Oh baby, of course I can do that. My sweet little prince is all shy tonight, isn't he? Got so happy we're getting married that he just wants to be owned, isn't that right?"

Ryan giggled and nodded, so delightfully warmed by Dallon's dark voice, spreading his legs wider. "Yes please Dal."

As much as he wanted to keep him there, Dallon eased Ryan off his lap and onto the bed, motioning for him to turn around. Undressing Ryan in dresses was a bit more complicated than shirts and pants, with all the buttons and zippers and snaps, but it was also so much more rewarding. When the dress would fall off Ryan's shoulders, he'd shiver and blush adorably, like a present that was just waiting to be unwrapped.

It seemed in a blink Ryan was naked, arms bound together in front of him, sitting obediently on his knees in front of Dallon. The ring glinted in the moonlight, making his heart flutter all over again, staring open-mouthed at Dallon's devilish smirk.

"Look at how pretty you are, my adorable angel, all blushing and needy..." Dallon cupped his love's chin, caressing his cheek and admiring how big his pupils dilated, already hard. "Such a perfect little thing, and he's all mine, isn't that right?"

Ryan nodded, nuzzling against Dallon's lanky hand, mist falling over his mind. He was going to be someone's husband-

Dallon's husband. Forever.

It made him make a happy little noise, accepting Dallon's gentle kisses, softly panting at the dominant treatment.

"Look at how beautiful you are, all tied up and ready for me to play with." Dallon walked his fingers down Ryan's chest, stopping at his nipples and rubbing them slowly, smiling darkly at Ryan's whines. "Does that feel good darling?"

Ryan nodded again, pushing his chest further into Dallon's thumbs, light creeping onto the sides of his vision. He arched his back and whined again when Dallon sped up, digging his thumbs into the peaks of skin, the rest of his fingers curled around the tan hills of Ryan's body.

Pleasure and euphoria had started to slither up his spine, a golden snake that sunk its fangs into Ryan's unsuspecting mind, body going weak in Dallon's hold. He lazily writhed against the tendrils around his wrists, cock leaking precome, gasping when a tendril coiled around his length.

"Such an eager little thing tonight, my greedy little prince." Dallon growled, continuing to trail his hand down Ryan's body, unfurling the tendril around his cock and replacing it with his hand. "My baby's gonna be mine forever, and no one else gets to touch him like I do, not even himself."

Ryan's stomach begun to ache at how badly he needed it, watching a tendril curl around his ring finger, knees trembling beneath him.

Dallon couldn't stop thinking about their wedding day, specifically the night after, and how he'd make Ryan kneel like this all night. He couldn't stop fantasizing about how submissive Ryan would be, how Dallon would make him wear his wedding suit as he wrecked him completely until his eyes rolled back in his head and his tongue would loll out of his mouth.

And Dallon was going to show his angel how good he would treat him for the rest of time, tonight.

"Say it sweetheart, say who you belong to." Dallon demanded, beginning to stroke Ryan's cock, watching with hungry eyes as he unraveled in Dallon's touch. "Can you say it babydoll? Can my little sunshine even talk while I touch him?"

Ryan tripped over his words, mind scrambled as he tried to form proper sentences, tried to tell Dallon who he belonged to. "Y-You- oh, oh!"

His hips jerked forward into Dallon's hand, tears welling in his eyes, clinging to his eyelashes as the pleasure built up. Ryan knew he was going to slip into his sweet space soon, holding onto the last moments of clarity before everything went hazy and wonderfully bright, when not one thought inhabited his mind except pushing his hips towards whatever was making him feel good.

"Good boy, what a perfect little prince." Dallon purred, slotting their mouths together and lapping at Ryan's parted lips, watching his angel sink into his happy space. "Oh sweetheart, you're already gone? You slipped in just from me touching you?"

Ryan whined in response, rutting against Dallon's hand desperately, clouds overtaking his mind as everything went blurry. His knees were shaking underneath him, all pliant and quiet for his fiancé, eyes glazing over. He came with a soft whimper, hair falling into his face as his hips jerked forward into Dallon's hand, everything going white and wonderfully quiet.

The only thing that could get past his wall of ecstasy was the shine of the ring, reflecting moonlight into his eyes, reminding him of Dallon's proposal.

He loved Dallon, he loved him too much.

Dallon crossed his legs in front of him on the bed and patted his lap, grinning as Ryan clambered on, face dusted with pink and red. All he wanted to do right now was to feel his angel against him, to kiss him and make him feel good.

That's all he ever wanted, was to please and spoil Ryan, to make sure nothing ever happened to his precious rose. And he knew exactly what Ryan wanted.

Ryan ruffled his wings again in ecstasy, breathing softly against Dallon's mouth as he began to stroke him off again, laying chaste kisses all over Ryan's face.

"Mine, all mine." Dallon cooed, a fire blazing in his abdomen, watching his angel float higher with every gentle touch to his cock. "My pretty little angel is all happy and high because I told him how perfect he was for me, isn't he? Beautiful little thing doesn't even know how to handle it when I tell him what a gorgeous prince he is, that's how weak he is."

Ryan let the waves pull him away from reality, staring up at the ceiling and drooling, bound hands falling into his lap. Nothing ever felt better than Dallon's filthy praise, when he'd tell him how needy he was for it, how pretty he looked while he floated.

"I love you baby, I love you so much." Dallon whispered against his parted lips, staring deeply into Ryan's unfocused eyes, heart melting at how gone his angel was. "I love everything little thing about you, mon chéri, I love you more than life itself."

Ryan whined happily in response, some of Dallon's sweet words slipping past the thick fog of his mind, unable to talk back except in the only way he knew how. He knew Dallon accepted his answer with a proud smile, eyes crinkling as he leaned in and kissed his angel again, the tip of his tongue just brushing against Ryan's lips.

"Can you show me the ring darling?" Dallon asked, intertwining his free hand with one of Ryan's bound ones, tendril holding Ryan's wrists together gently.

Ryan flexed his hand, bones peeking out of the skin, ring more magical than ever in the bright moonlight. The rose petals held teardrops of the moon, slipping down their velvet skin and pooling in the jewels, rose-gold metal shimmering around Ryan's outstretched finger.

"Do you like it sweetheart?" Dallon looked at Ryan expectantly, swiping his thumb across the slit of his cock, smirking as Ryan cried out and scrunched his nose up.

"Unhh-unh huh-" Ryan nodded, sunlight dancing on his tongue, love settling into the veins of his heart. He had never wanted to be closer to someone before, pressing his bare chest against Dallon's, trying to feel the demon as he floated.

He loved the ring. He loved what it meant, that him and Dallon could enjoy a beautiful wedding and be together forever, that their unconditional love could be down in writing. Nobody would ever understand how deeply Ryan felt connected to Dallon, gravitating together like magnets, love stored in the quiet moments where the universe opened its vault of beauty to them.

And Ryan felt beyond honoured that Dallon shared those moments with him, watching the sky morph into otherworldly pieces of art in front of them, or listening to the lilted melody of the record player.

It didn't matter what they were doing- every single moment with Dallon was a special one, one that Ryan dreamt of a million times over, replaying Dallon's gorgeously charming smile and the feeling of their hands locked together.

A curtain of serenity had fallen over the room, movements slow, noises soft, holding onto each other as Dallon stroked Ryan's cock and whispered praise.

"Look at how perfect you are, mon belle ange, so damn perfect." Dallon cooed in Ryan's ear, listening to Ryan's whimpers as the pleasure became too much. "You're going to be mine forever sweetheart, my perfect little angel. Nobody will ever touch you again."

Ryan sobbed as the words set in, safer and happier than he ever had been, gripping onto Dallon's shirt and tightening his legs around him.

He would be Dallon's.

Forever.

They could dance and laugh and enjoy life in the safety of their own home, a paradise they created themselves that was comfortable and quiet.

Ryan would've never guessed he would love it so much.




 

 

As the wedding date neared, Dallon and Ryan grew busier and busier. Between suit fitting, finding a cake and someone who wanted to officiate, and hammering out every little detail, Ryan felt like he was spending less time with Dallon everyday.

The feeling especially hit him when Ryan settled into bed, Dallon's side of the mattress empty. Everything was too cold without the heat of Dallon's body spooning him, fingers locked together, his soft breaths against the back of Ryan's neck.

Ryan tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable position without Dallon, but it made his chest ache to not have the demon next to him. Even with his wings wrapped around himself, nothing matched the feeling of Dallon's body pressed against his, so gentle yet so possessive. With a sigh, Ryan got up and made his way out of the bedroom, feet pattering against the cool floors.

Dallon was sitting at his desk, glasses reflecting the dancing flame of the candle, a yellow haze surrounding him. Moonlight bled through the window, giving Dallon a silver halo of his own, quiet scratches of his pen against paper breaking the easy silence.

He didn't look up to the jingle of the bottles in the fridge door, or the clatter of the cookie jar when Ryan poured himself a glass of homemade lemonade and grabbed a ginger snap. Ryan loved it when Dallon got in his own little world, brows furrowed in concentration, the tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth as he scribbled something on his paper.

"Hi Dal," Ryan set down his plate and glass next to Dallon's project, taking a seat at his chair. "It's getting late... the bed's empty without you..."

Dallon planted a kiss to Ryan's cheek, eyes stuck to the card in front of him. "Almost done darling... I just have to finish this, okay?"

He was drawing a bundle of flowers on the card-stock in front of him, using one of Ryan's stray feathers as a quill.

Every feather that fell from his wings was put in a jar on Dallon's desk, used for all his drawings, letters, and poems, dipped in pitch black ink. An abundant of feathers fell out when they made love, as a result of Ryan fluttering and ruffling his wings so much, unable to contain his pure pleasure. Those feathers were kept in a separate jar on Dallon's desk, tucked away behind pigments and paints.

Dallon used those feathers when he wrote about Ryan's body, the unashamedly loving words that he spilled onto the paper, tacked to their bedroom walls. Ryan had to take down those poems when they had guests over, face reddening furiously when he read it, feeling Dallon's strong presence push up behind him. He couldn't believe some of the stuff Dallon wrote, describing him like he was the most sought after jewel in the world, writing about the tight space between his legs and how easy it was to coax happy noises out of Ryan.

But Dallon was only using an ordinary plume, setting it aside when he was finally satisfied with his artwork.

"What's this?" Ryan asked, leaning his head on Dallon's shoulder. It was addressed to Brendon, a copy of the same letter in front of Ryan, addressed to his parents instead.

"Wedding invitations." Dallon answered, folding over a fresh piece of paper to form an envelope, reaching across the desk to grab his wax sealing tools.

Ryan brushed away the stray crumbs of the ginger snap, taking a sip of his lemonade and offering a bite to Dallon, smiling at how much he loved his fiancé's disheveled hair. The orange glow of the candle and the crisp haunt of the moon blended together in Dallon's feathery hair, the sleeves of his dress shirt rubbing against Ryan's wrist as he took the glass and held it to his lips, handing it back to Ryan.

"These are really pretty Dal..." Ryan mumbled, poking his nose in the side of Dallon's neck, resting his head there.

"Why thank you, my love," Dallon placed a bead of wax in the golden spoon, holding it over the candle, waiting for the wax to melt. Ryan's company was a surprise, but a welcome one, the tickle of his wings gently flapping against Dallon's back. When he was relaxing, Ryan often idly fluttered them slowly, one of Dallon's favourite feelings in the world.

Ryan watched with curious eyes as Dallon poured the melted wax over the envelope, pressing down the seal onto the paper until a pattern appeared in the magenta wax, one of a rose, quite like the one on the lid of the music box.

Dallon repeated this on the other letter, dragging the tip of the quill across the cream paper, writing their names in loopy cursive. Tomorrow, him and Ryan would cut through the forest and place the invitations in their guests' mailboxes, adorned with Dallon's drawing of bouquets of flowers and frilly lettering.

"Let's go to bed now, hm doll?" Dallon pushed his chair back, a bit disappointed in abandoning the perfect stillness of the moment. Pools of orange found their way into the dark sky of Ryan's eyes, shining brightly as they crinkled from his love's smile, standing up with Dallon and clearing his dishes.

It took one flap of his wings to blow out the candle on Dallon's desk, the trails of wax rolling down the side hardening, a curl of smoke dissipating into the night air. Ryan's hand fit perfectly into Dallon's softer palm, pulling him close as they tripped over each other's feet, kissing before Dallon changed and clambered into bed with Ryan.

Neither bothered to shut the curtains, bodies blanketed in the silver of the moonlight, eyes and wings catching the soft rays of the white light. Ryan nestled his head beneath Dallon's, eyes dragging with the best type of tiredness, letting his mind fall into place.

The door didn't need to be locked. Nothing bad ever happened in heaven, and even if it did, Ryan was safe with Dallon.

Ryan would always be safe with Dallon.




 

 

Dallon tapped his foot against the wood floor of the altar, smirking at Brendon's cheeky thumbs up, sitting among the wedding guests. Of course Dallon was nervous- it was his wedding day, the day that seemed to go catastrophically wrong in every story ever.

He hadn't seen Ryan since that morning, when they woke up to the sound of an alarm, an unfamiliar noise after peaceful months of waking up to birds chirping. Dallon's day had been full of making sure everything went perfectly, running around in his suit and putting out fires as they ignited, ushering people around like a herding dog.

It all led to this moment- well, it was supposed to be this moment. Dallon checked his watch, heart sinking when he realized they were running late.

Him and Ryan decided on a small church on the outskirts of town, with only Brendon's family and Ryan's parents as guests, and a nice dinner after. As a surprise to Ryan, Dallon booked them a hotel room downtown for the night and the next week, sort of a honeymoon for the two.

Dallon rubbed his uninhabited ring finger, an odd feeling after wearing it nonstop. He had parted with it that morning, handing it off to Brendon, who would hold onto it before passing it on to Tyler before the wedding.

Nervous, Dallon tapped his foot faster, eyes darting around the room, wondering where Ryan was. His instructions for the day were to relax, which Dallon worried Ryan took too seriously and had fallen asleep somewhere.

The chapel was filled with sunlight, limestone walls lined with paintings and flower vases, everything dressed in white. Dallon wasn't the most traditional person, but he had never planned a wedding before, so he stuck to what he knew.

His suit was black, pressed to a crisp, a blood-red rose tucked into his front pocket. Dallon's glasses perched on top of his hair, quickly taking them down and stuffing them in the pocket of his slacks, straightening out his tie as more time passed.

Where was Ryan? And why was he so-

"-Late! Sorry I'm late." The doors burst open to reveal Ryan, wearing a goofy grin, shutting the heavy doors behind him. "Alright, who's walking me down this thing?"

Dallon was frozen in awe, just as he was every morning after helping Ryan dress. But this time, Dallon's mind went blank as he took in his angel's appearance.

Flowers were woven around his halo like a crown of petals, its soft glow shining through the thin heads, every vein of life highlighted. Some of the delicate flowers were tucked into Ryan's wings, stems peeking out from behind the glimmering feathers, pieces of gold leaves clinging onto his plumage.

His suit held the same flowers, greyscale pattern folded over his snowy dress shirt, just as perfectly white as his feathers were. Ryan hadn't bothered to comb back the unruly curls of his hair, but Dallon loved it so much more this way.

He looked... heavenly. More than heavenly; whatever paradise laid beyond the brilliant sun that drenched them in heat and comfort, where the purest beings of this universe prospered.

That's how gorgeous Ryan was- in Dallon's eyes, this world wasn't deserving of his beauty.

In fact, Dallon was so awestruck he didn't hear the organ wail in the background, or see Ryan walk up the aisle with his father, eyes crinkling from smiling so wide. He didn't notice Tyler carry up the rings, or the way the sun shined a little brighter, or how rainbow petals fell from the golden ring of light above Ryan's head.

All he could focus on was the galaxy of Ryan's eyes, meeting with his as he stepped up on the altar, carrying mischief, nervousness and pure adoration.

Dallon's mind skipped over whatever the officiant was reading, staring straight into the dark pools of Ryan's eyes, trying to remember what vows he had prepared even though his brain was tripping over its words. He'd been considering what to say for ages, and it all came down to this, his declaration of love.

"--Now, Ryan and Dallon, please join hands. I understand you've prepared your own vows?"

Dallon nodded, swallowing down the lump of cotton in his throat, trying to unscramble the mess of pages and smudged words in his mind.

"Ryan, mon chéri, my love. I don't even know where to begin, how to put into words how much I love you." Dallon begun, heart steadied by Ryan's reassuring smile, taking a deep breath and continuing. "Even as I terrorized you the first time we met, I knew I could never hurt someone as gentle as you. Ever since the first moment I laid my eyes on you, I knew I never wanted to look away from the man in front of me, that it would sting too badly to let go of his blistered hand."

Ryan's smile deepened, eyes growing glassy at Dallon's words, heart stammering in his chest.

"And ever since our fingers first locked together, I haven't let go once, fitting together like that was our only purpose, to hold each other. I know that millions of years ago, we were created of the same stardust, two souls tied together by perfect harmony. Every second away from you, my soul dies off, and is resurrected once my sunshine greets me again with his sunny-day smile and gorgeous glow." Dallon rubbed Ryan's fingers in his, hands clasped together, words so raw he was speaking to Ryan's soul. "I've known that I was made to protect you, from keeping watch over you as an angel, to hiding in the shadows just to see your face. In a million lifetimes, in a million different forms, on millions of different universes, I will always find you to keep safe. And our souls will always drift together, just as our bodies were meant to embrace each other."

Ryan was full on tearing up now, trying to blink back the crystals that pricked at his eyes, not wanted to distort his vision of Dallon's kind face. The words were the type of words Dallon wrote on his finest paper, except now they were so much than that. They were a promise to the universe, a bond linking the two that could never be broken, not by closet doors or foolish servants.

"I love you more than I can speak of, because if I even attempt to, I know I'll start crying, and nobody wants to see that." Dallon had to bite his lip to stop himself from weeping happily, trying to forever memorize the look on Ryan's face, the way his lower lip trembled.

The type of tears in Ryan's eyes were Dallon's favourite, the ones that caught sunlight in them as they rolled down his cheeks, swirling with a different type of heartbreak, The good one, where the words were so much for him to take in his heart cracked right open, oozing his love into his chest, pooling in his lungs like liquid bubblegum.

"If I could go back in time and tell myself that one day I'd become a demon, meet a cute man who sees past my flaws and scars, and get to marry him, I'd wonder where he was my entire life. And as it would turn out, he was right under my nose the entire time. The light of my days, the love of my life, the sole reason I continue to exist in this universe. Ryan, I-I love you." Dallon's voice cracked on the last word, letting go of one of Ryan's hands to wipe away his tears, soaking right into the black fabric.

Once the words settled into the old stone of the chapel, Ryan gulped down his own cries and tried to make his mouth work, so heartstruck by Dallon's words. He'd thought about what to say all day, but now, as he stood at the altar, all eyes on him, all the words fell out of Ryan's head.

"Dal... I just, god, how could you do this do me?" Ryan's chest started to shake, tears dripping onto the polished wood of the altar, trying to compose himself before he started crying for real. Dallon's words had touched a part of him he'd never felt, pulled at the right thread of his heart, the thread that made his entire soul collapse in on itself. But he wasn't worried about who was watching or what would happen- he knew Dallon would help him piece himself back together again, just as he always would. "H-How could you say that- and not expect me t-to cry?"

Dallon laughed a watery laugh, sniffling back his tears, hand quivering against Ryan's.

"I n-never knew what it felt like to be loved unconditionally b-by someone, until I met you, the demon who h-haunted my dreams." Ryan tried to crack a smile through the rain of his eyes, knees weak beneath him, stomach swarming with butterflies of love. "I didn't know what it meant to love someone until I first wrote to you, a-and discovered you were so much more than a pretty voice. You were scared, and k-kind, and so easy to talk to, like we had met in another life. And, I-I guess w-we did... god, I love you D-Dal, I love you t-to the moon and back, and maybe a bit m-more than that."

That was all Ryan could get out before his throat closed up, stifling sobs, heart aching unbelievably in his chest. Dallon looked just as broken as Ryan felt, blank eyes holding his black tears, almost spilling past them. Ryan wouldn't care the slightest if they soiled their clothes- he never had, and never would. He'd gladly accept Dallon's tears and let them paint his clothes a million times before he'd want Dallon to hold them back, the mysteriously beautiful tears that dripped down his perfect cheeks and pooled in his sharp collarbones.

The officiant cleared his throat, but it didn't break their moment in the slightest. It meant they could continue the ceremony, one step closer to being married.

"Ryan, do you take Dallon to be your lawfully and eternally wedded husband?"

Ryan could barely get the words out.

"I do."

"And Dallon, do you take Ryan to be your lawfully and eternally wedded husband?"

Dallon felt Ryan's thumb brush over the scar on his palm, dragging his coarse fingertip against the white line of jagged skin, rubbing it in comfort. He would never forget their first kiss, when Ryan had massaged all his scars and shown him how much he cared.

It was the first time anyone ever cared about Dallon, and his care had never stopped.

"I do."

"You may now exchange your rings, the symbol of never ending love. These rings symbolize the eternal vows you have made on this day- they have no beginning and no ending, such as your love, which will never cease. May these rings remind you of the vows you have made on this day, as you became husband and husband."

Dallon's hand shook as he slid the ring onto Ryan's outstretched finger, trying to hold his own still as Ryan slipped his ring on his, gleaming in the sunlight that shone on them. His ring was just as Ryan's was, jewels catching the light and sending it off in thousands of directions, casting tiny reflections on both of their hands.

"By the power invested in me by God, I now pronounce you, husband and husband. You may now kiss."

Dallon pulled Ryan close to him hastily, lips meeting in warmth and jubilation, holding Ryan's trembling body to his as he kissed him like there was no tomorrow. They couldn't hear the patter of applause from the pews over the thud of their hearts, beating in a singular melody, thumping in their ears as they freely cried against each other.

It was too many emotions to handle, but somehow they stayed grounded long enough to pull away and stare into each other's glossy eyes, quickly moving back together to kiss once more. Ryan's lips grew cold much too fast, craving the feeling of Dallon right up against him, one hand cupping his cheek so gently.

They wouldn't know how they made it through their dinner without kissing again, family and friends sharing laughter, congratulations and stories, everything Dallon had ever wanted.

Later that night, in the stillness of the midnight hour when Dallon would fit their hands together and coo to his love as he pleased him, they'd both know that the universe had bestowed the greatest gift upon them- love.

And they'd all live,

happily,

ever,

after.

- LA FIN -