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Halloween Shenanigans

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There was an unusually cold chill in the air for New Orleans. The cloudy skies hadn’t given any rain, but rest assured, some would still happen. Hopefully, very late that night. If there was one thing nobody enjoyed was a miserable Halloween Eve.

And Cora didn’t want the rain to wash out what she had planned.

“Boys and girls of evry’ age…” She hummed to herself as she folded up the red cloth scarf she’d taken from her dad’s closet. “Wouldn’t you like to see something strange? Come with us, and you will see this our town of Halloween!” She stuffed it into her backpack, adorned with pins from all her favorite horror movies. She shut off her radio, cutting out the song from the silent ambiance of her bedroom. The sun was going to go down soon. Not soon enough… She headed out of her room, down the hallway-

“Excuse me young lady, where are you going?”

Shit. “Oh, pa. I thought you and dad left already!”

“Your dad is grabbing his coat. Where are you going?”

“Out with Whirl, Talia, Cyrus ‘n’ Stephen. We’re going to Stephen’s to watch horror movies.”

“Are you staying over?”

“Maybe.”

“I wish you’d tell me before you’d make plans. Just, stay safe okay? Text me when you’re there.”

“‘Kay! Love you! Byyyeee!” She almost bolted out of the door and down the hall to the stairwell. Good thing Stephen was a decent cover story. If they knew what she had planned, she wouldn’t be able to leave the apartment all freaking night! The teen made it outside, down the wooden stairs and onto the street. Kids walked by, flitting between the towering complexes around them, dressed up in numerous costumes. Their Halloween would end in a couple hours. Hers was just beginning. Earbuds in, music cranked, she ran to catch the bus up to the Meet Up Spot. As long as everyone did their part, this would go without a hitch.

Night had fallen as she sat on a curb stop outside of the 7-11, still waiting on them. “Come on, come on… where the fuck are you guys?” She grumbled, getting antsier. 9 p.m.. They needed to hurry! Finally, headlights shone down the street and a large mini van pulled up. She sprang up, grabbing her bag and nearly barrelled into the back seat when it was slid open. “Seriously?!?”

“Rum is not fucking easy to steal!” Whirl snapped from the driver’s seat. “You know how many times it took before I was able to snag it from my old man’s stash?!”

“Okay, okay fine. Sorry. Did you get the gunpowder?”

“Right here!” Talia’s arm shot out from behind the back seat, dangling the baggie with the black powder.

“Jesus Christ Talia, you just reenacted Urban Legend!”

“What?”

“I gotta show you that one.” Cora took the baggie and put it into her backpack.

“Haha, nope! I’m already freaked out that we’re actually trying to summon this thing!” Cyrus let out an affirmative grunt from his own. “Is, this really gonna work?”

“Can’t hurt to try.”

“I still say we're wasting our time! We should just, I dunno, throw rotten fruit from the bushes or something.”

“And what if we get caught Stephen?” Cora asked, eyebrows raised. “If they see we’re there and did something that’s literally not gonna affect them save for ruining their clothes, we’re doomed. Capital D. Cabin in the Woods level of fucked!... Besides. We can still have a fun Halloween afterwards. We’re still going back to yours to watch American Horror Story.”

Everyone muttered some kind of agreement and headed out of the city, into the swampland. They drove for maybe twenty minutes, until Cora pointed out the gravel road they needed to take. Down they went, headlights the only things illuminating the way. Finally, the road turned to dirt, then it vanished. “This is where we’re supposed to get out.” The teens exited the vehicle, walking into the forest ahead. “Okay, last check: we got the rum,”

“Check!”

“The gunpowder,”

“Yep!”

“The red cloth was mine, and then the bull horn.” All eyes turned to Cyrus, who huffed.

“.. didn’t have ‘em.”

“You gotta be fucking-!”

“Grabbed antlers instead.” He pulled out the bone from the grocery bag he’d been toting. “This’ll work, right?”

“Well. I mean… as long as it’s a cow or bull or something.”

“Deer.”

“For fuck’s sake!”

“Waaait, wait wait!” Talia piped up. “Aren’t female deer cows?!”

“Talia. Males grow antlers.”

“And they’re called bulls right?”

“... holy shit yeah. Wait. Lemme google something really quick.” She pulled out her phone and tapped quickly. “Okay! Wikipedia says no, but they’re a branch off of the bovidae family! Sooo, maybe the guy will kinda think close enough?”

“We get him drunk enough maybe.”

“Whirl no.” Cora gave her snickering friend with the rum bottle a look. She exhaled. “We have everything. So, let’s go and get this done. The altar’s not much farther into the trees.” She motioned for her friends to follow, turning on her flashlight app on her phone as they ventured through the thicket.

“How’d you learn about this anyways?” Stephen decided to ask as he stepped over a patch of dying bushes.

“Dad and pa’s friend, Rudi Mentry? The Drag Queen? Her grandma’s this hoodoo priestess from Haiti. She found out I’m into the Occult and told me all about the Loa when we went over to theirs at Christmas. Gave me a notebook-... and told me to never try anything in it…”

“Cora!”

“We’re desperate, okay?! Desperate times call for desperate measures!” She exclaimed as Talia glared at her. “She didn’t know about Ariana and her stupid friends. Anyways I took photos of the steps to summon the guy we need, what we need to give him and what not to do. I have it all right here, we’ll be fine!”

“You say that but-”

“Listen. This isn’t some Evil Dead or Pumpkinhead or Hellraiser shit. We’re not reading the Necronomicon, we’re not getting a witch to help us, we’re not fucking around with a puzzle box. We’re summoning a special someone, who’s gonna be bound to some specific rules.”

Finally, they made it into the clearing. Just off the center was an overturned log, cut flat at the top some years ago. Surrounding it were carefully stacked piles of stones, locked together over time by thick moss. Sun-faded and rotted remains of hand-made effigies of old gods from several belief systems were scattered, hanging from the surrounding trees. Empty glass bottles hung around too, wind blowing over the open necks to sound like a hollow sort of flutey windchime. A place of worship, service, askance, and loss left forgotten until the teenagers had stumbled upon it while following coordinates from the notebook Cora had recieved.

“Everyone ready?” She looked at her friends. They spoke their agreements. “Time to summon this Loa.”

 

 

Halloween lost a bit of its appeal in Hell, considering nearly everyone was a monstrous sort of creature anyway, and children weren't exactly common. No trick-or-treaters to buy candy for and no sense in buying or making a costume. Angel had been a bit put out by the fact it was brushed over with no more attention than most bank holidays his first few years post-mortem. Still, there were a few upsides: most bars put out specialty candy flavored cocktails, and dealers sometimes cut their coke with actual sugar so that was one way to bring the mood up for the night.

Alastor practically lived in the spirit of Halloween on a daily basis regardless of the actual day. Regardless, he had noticed Angel reminiscing about how Halloween was supposed to be and decided to try cheering the other up. A disappointed Angel made for an annoyed Alastor.

"We could pick a pumpkin!" Alastor suggested.

"An actual pumpkin or that one bright orange guy we saw the other day?"

"Dealer's choice." Alastor answered.

Angel squinted. "He's already in your office, isn't he?"

"Maybe!" Alastor conceded brightly. "And maybe there's a surprise with him."

"You cut him open already and stuffed candy in him." Angel guessed, completely correct.

"You know me so well!" Alastor said, continuing on that train of thought. "He's practically a piñata now!"

"Pass."

"You're no fun." Alastor pouted, then stilled as he felt an odd sort of itch in the back of his brain.

Concerned by the sudden shift of mood, Angel took a step closer to him. "Hey?" He asked.

Alastor reached out, and Angel gripped his sleeve in concerned confusion. Alastor pulled the spider closer, not sure what was going on but not wanting to deal with whatever it was alone.

There was a flash of red light, the shadows stretched around them, filling the room with an inky void. Time seemed to slow as the room vanished around them, and then the darkness retracted as quickly as it had surrounded the two! There was cold air, and forest all around them. A moment of peace. No pain. No unnecessary racket of too many rowdy demons crawling around outside. They were somewhere in the wilderness. Compelled to look up, Angel noticed stars through the gap in the trees, and he nudged Alastor to do the same before letting go of his arm.

"What the fuck." Angel said quietly.

“Whaaaat the fuuuuck?!” Another voice said after him.

Five pairs of wide eyes were fixated on the two. “Uhh. Cora? Isn’t there supposed to be one of them?” One asked the other, two human girls, the responding one wearing black lipstick.

“Eeyup.”

“There’s two of them.”

“No shit sherlock.”

Alastor took his eyes off of the sky to look over the altar acting as a physical barrier between himself, Angel, and the humans. He glanced at the veve, clearly not a practiced drawing, and the offerings. Clearly they were expecting someone else. Alastor sneered, picking up the antler.

"Well, that'll do it." He mused, finding the cause of the mix-up.

“Holy shit. It worked. It fucking worked!”

“Haha, yeah right. Funny Cora, who did you pay to prank us?!”

“It’s not a prank Whirl! I’m fucking serious!!!”

“Sure. Loa are supposed to look like a pair of badly made furry OCs.”

"What's an OC?" Angel asked.

"Occult Caricature?" Alastor guessed. "Not far off I suppose!"

"Hah, really? You expected us to fall for this?" Stephen chuckled and reached out, grabbing Alastor's sleeve! "Where did you even get these cheap ass costumes?"

Alastor quickly withdrew his arm, a staticky sort of hiss distorting the air around him. He looked more than prepared to strike out with his claws at the blatant invasion of space, but the intention of harm kept him from actively doing so. Against his will, he had to refrain as the Dead could not directly harm the Living.

"You were not just about to hit a kid." Angel scolded him quietly.

"Old enough to try summoning things." Alastor sniffed. "Spare the rod."

“Okay, seriously though, enough with the bullshit. How much did Cora pay you t-?”

“For the love of god I didn’t pay anybody! Look!” She stepped onto the altar they had just decked out, reached over and grabbed his ear- “Sorry!” and yanked.

Alastor had little choice but to follow his ear down, and Angel reached over to swat the offending hand away from it.

"Fuckin' rude," Angel huffed, lower set of hands settling on his hips. "Who raised you assholes?"

“Cora-”

“It’s attached? See?!? We did it! We-... uhhhh….” She looked up as Alastor’s form seemed to shift.

They all stared upwards as Alastor’s form morphed until it looked absolutely horrifying. Twelve feet tall, rotting, looking like the carcass of a roadkill or botched taxidermy. It growled, an eerie rattling sort of bellow and everyone knew that they were absolutely fucked..

“Okay. Fine! That was a really bad idea-!”

“FUCKING RUN!!!” The short chubby one shrieked and the five barrelled away, through the grass and into the treeline!

"Al, no!" Angel huffed, running a ways after him before latching onto loose fur and climbing up the grotesque mockery of a deer's hind leg up onto its back. Hooves ripped through grass and roots loudly as the creature charged. Antlers ripped through branches on the way, which Angel had to duck to avoid. "Will you calm the fuck down?"

The only indication that Alastor was listening at all was a rumbling snort of acknowledgement that didn't really lead to a change in behavior at all.

“IT’S GAINING!”

“DON’T SPLIT UP! DON’T SPLIT UP!!!” Cora screamed at Stephen, eyes wide. She couldn’t see where the fuck she was going! Shit, shit, shit-! Her foot hit a tree root and she was falling, rolling in the dirt and her glasses- fuck-!

“CORA!”

Her ankle hurt. God, no! She couldn’t go down like this! Her hands felt around, and wrapped around a rock, and she yanked it up. It cut into her palm, she didn’t care, she needed some kind of fucking weapon!!! She raised it as the Loa cleared the distance between them in seconds and in a last ditch effort screamed,

“DON’T YOU DARE COME ANY CLOSER!!!”

Hooves were raised and stomped very close to the girl, a near miss. Possibly even an intentional miss.

"Big fuckin' baby." Angel muttered, patting the exposed vertebrae of Alastor's neck just forward of where he was seated at his shoulders.

“CORA!!!” Stephen screamed, a fair distance away, only able to make out the glow of their pursuer’s eyes. He came barrelling over, holding a giant stick, trying to get between the monster and teenager. “Get back! Get the fuck away from her!”

Alastor quickly snatched at the stick with fanged jaws, large sharp teeth more befitting an alligator than a deer. The stick splintered as he clamped onto the wood, then tossed his head and spat it away carelessly.

“... that went better in my head.” Stephen muttered, but didn’t run away. Cora was struggling to stand, but her ankle was keeping her still.

“Run!”

“What?!”

“Run! I- I summoned him, I pissed him off, he’s my problem!” Her fingers scratched at the tree next to her, trying to get back up. “Ow, ow, ow.”

“No way, nuh uh! That- that thing’s gonna-!”

"This thing's gonna sleep on the couch, is what he's gonna do. You okay, kid?" Angel called down, having noticed the stagger.

“My fucking ankle’s twisted but I’m not being chewed alive or trampled, soooo…” She called back, though looked confused. Why the fuck was he talking to her?!

Alastor didn't look at all remorseful, but he did have the grace to take half of a step away, chuffing as Angel let his disappointment be known. He climbed down then, knowing if he wasn't riding-along just to keep up for a run that Alastor prefered to not be sat on for more time than necessary.

Stephen’s eyes widened all the more when the spider demon approached, and he held up his fists. “Don’t, try anything! I know self defence, I-”

“Oh my god Stephen. This is how people die in horror movies.” She growled and managed to move onto her butt. “Besides he’s not even Loa. I can tell that much.”

“How can you tell?!”

“For starters he’s all pink and fluffy. Last I checked Loa aren’t supposed to be. I don’t know what the fuck he is. So. What the fuck are you?” She asked Angel Dust.

"Spider. Kind of." Angel answered, shrugging both sets of shoulders.

“Right.”

"He looks like a muppet."

“And that’s the other way people die in horror movies Stephen; insult the spider, entity thing.” Cora quipped dryly as she tried to get up again. “Motherfucker!”

“Take it easy- holy fuck your ankle!!!” Stephen grimaced, seeing it twisted a funny way.

There were shouts, and Stephen turned to holler; “OVER HERE! IT STOPPED CHASING US!” The three other teens stopped about twenty feet away, cowering upon seeing Alastor until Stephen added; “it’s not attacking us! We’re safe!”

“You sure?! It hasn’t brainwashed you?!”

“WHAT IS MY REAL NAME IF IT DIDN’T BRAINWASH Y-”

“Taylor shut up!”

“They’re good.” The blue haired one growled and the trio cautiously approached.

“Cora! Ohmigod, you’re okay!” Talia reached out and she recoiled;

“Don’t touch me!” She exclaimed, wincing in pain. “I’m fine.”

“Sorry, right, touch equals pain, my bad!”

“Especially right fucking now, fuck! I think I need a hospital…!” Everyone finally noticed her ankle and winced as well. “I thought you guys couldn’t hurt the freakin’ living!”

"You hurt yourself running." Alastor pointed out.

“Okay, fine. That’s my thing. Ugh… should’ve read the fucking notebook more closely.”

“Yeah, maybe paid attention to the bit where the Loa could, gee I dunno, chase us through the fucking woods?!” Whirl shook his head. “We’re never gonna get this done, especially now you’re outta comish!”

"A normal Loa wouldn't chase you. They would ride you!"

"Al. Phrasing." Angel snorted.

"Not my meaning and you know it." Alastor sighed, expecting such things from Angel.

“Ride-?”

“He means possession.” She told Stephen. “I was gonna be the one to volunteer but we can see how that fucked up! So now that means the deal is probably not gonna work either?” She eyed Alastor, as Talia looked through the grass with her phone’s flashlight for Cora’s glasses.

"Depends." Alastor stated. "You have my attention, in any case."

“... We summoned you to help us get revenge.” Cora told Alastor quietly, rubbing her bruised cheek as she took back her glasses, mumbling a 'thanks' to Talia. She cleaned them with the sleeve of her hoodie, and put them back on. “Listen, you weren’t even the guy we summoned! We wanted Kalfu! The guy that’s sorta into this stuff. Not, well, whatever you are. And whatever he is!” She pointed at Angel Dust, who had managed to find the teen’s bottle of rum, stowed away for safekeeping in Cora’s backpack. Ironically.

Angel took a swig, gagged, and spat it back into the bottle.

"I don't believe you just did that." Alastor told him, amused.

"Tastes like shit!" Angel huffed. "What'd you put in here?"

"If they did proper research, gunpowder." Alastor answered easily.

“Yup. Mixed it hopefully well enough.”

“But now it’s looking like that’s out of the question for tonight given that our friend here you’re supposed to uh, ride, needs to go to the ER.” Talia piped up, smiling sweetly. “Soooo, you guys can go back now! Thank you for the very scary chase! Have a good night!”

"It's very rude to invite a guest just to insult them and tell them to leave." Alastor said darkly, then repeated. "You have my attention."

“Uhh-”

“Stephen help me up please.” Cora held up her arm and Stephen, hesitantly helped her onto her feet.

“You don’t have to do this. I mean, what if we’re all hallucinating?”

“My ankle is killing me. We’re not hallucinating. We can still do this. Just need to make a detour.” She inhaled sharply, and exhaled. “Loa, I called you here on this night because I need your help and I am willing to- FUCK-” she almost fell!

"I'm willin' to fuck too but he won't let me." Angel snickered, waving a hand halfheartedly toward Alastor.

Cyrus came over with another tree branch and handed it to her to help her stand up. She inhaled, exhaled, and tried again; “I am willing to make a deal. You and your partner can for this night only walk freely among the living. In return, you help me and my friends with our mischief. The conditions are as follows: One, no mortal or fatal harm can happen to any of the living, including ourselves. Two, we will bring you back here before dawn’s light on the morning of November the first and send you back from where you came. Three, you help us with whatever we request of you, within reason. Everything else is fair game.”

Alastor thought that over. He couldn't intentionally cause harm anyway, and one night topside was appealing. He looked to Angel, who seemed just happy to have something potentially fun to do. Angel at least seemed more keen on this turn of events than what Alastor had planned anyway. If nothing else it was sure to be entertaining.

"We can walk freely so long as we are leashed to you, you mean." Alastor pointed out, but shrugged. "Oh what the Hell! You've got yourself a Deal." He said, moving to extend his left hand.

“Right hand,” she mumbled, gripping the stick with her left and keeping her right free. “You’re supposed to use your Right Hand. No tricks.”

"You have done your research!" Alastor praised, switching hands.

"I got four. Or six." Angel pointed out.

“You’re a ride-along. The deal’s for the Loa only.” Cora told him sternly.

"Oh cool, no rules for me!" Angel laughed. "Cheat night!" He raised his arms, jumping a little before turning and poking a finger toward Alastor. "What happens on Earth stays on Earth. Charlie doesn't hear shit."

"I will not tell on you but I also will not cover for you." Alastor chuckled.

"Fair." Angel agreed.

“Who’s Charlie?” Talia piped up from beside Cora.

“Do we have a deal?” Cora reached her arm out. Her right hand.

Alastor took it, a green spark sealing the terms and feeling a bit like a tiny static shock, like touching metal after rubbing socks on carpet.

“Okay. First order of business… hospital!”

“Cora it’s after midnight.”

“Nnnn-never mind! Fuck!”

"Fuck doctors anyway." Angel huffed. "Bunch of quacks. We can handle a twist… Probably."

“And my parents will kill me.” Cora sighed. “Okay, let’s just- I can ice it and get a cane or something for tonight. Make some bullshit excuse about falling down stairs or stepping off of the bus weird tomorrow. Whirl? Can we head out?”

He grinned. “I dunno. Can we?” Everyone gave him a look.

"Mais oui." Alastor said, deciding to take the shot at the bilingual pun opportunity. Talia snorted, and so did Stephen and Cora. Whirl and Cyrus gave him a look.

“May what?!?”

“Ugh. Pay attention in French for once mon idiot amical.” Talia chuckled to Whirl, who stuck out his tongue at her.

"Really, we're in N'Orleans and you only speak english?" Alastor tutted. "No roots, hm?"

“My family’s from Chicago wise ass.” Whirl snorted at Alastor. “Cora’s are from Manhattan.”

“I grew up here. Family’s Creole, so I know.” Talia grinned. “Mes amis ‘tink le français est dur.”

"New York!" Angel declared.

Stephen was helping Cora along as they all headed for the van, but the pair were being incredibly slow given her injury.

Angel dragged behind a bit to keep an eye on the injured girl. He didn't make much of any move to help but it wouldn't do to completely ignore it either. He did care in his own way, understanding it was his and Alastor's fault even if they hadn't meant for it to happen. Well, Angel hadn't meant it but he knew Alastor would have probably done worse if he was able.

They finally made it over to the van, and were about to get in when Stephen piped up:
"Question of the hour-"

"Of which we've had many,"

Stephen glared at Cora. "How are we going to get all of you into the van?!" He motioned to Whirl's vehicle.

"I'm pretty flexible." Angel stated.

"Okay time to play tetris with demons." Whirl grinned. “Biggest in the back, tiny asses in the front! I’m driver so size don’t matter.” He laughed and everyone gave him a look.

"It matters sometimes." Angel joked.

"Shallow." Alastor rolled his eyes.

“That’s what my ex’s-”

“O-KAY! So! Like Whirl said big guys in the backity-back!” Talia yelled, going to open the trunk. It popped up, and they could see the large back seat. Talia immediately scrambled in and folded them down.

Angel plonked down, making grabby hands at Alastor for the deer to get in his lap. Alastor sighed, but followed the unsaid direction.

“Hey you guys are from Hell right?” Whirl asked as Stephen started to help Cora over to the van.

"Well we sure as fuck ain't from Winnipeg." Angel answered. "That's in Canada."

“We know it’s in Canada!” Stephen called out over his shoulder.

Whirl continued; “So that’s what you look like when you get down to Hell?!” Whirl looked up at Alastor, then up at Angel. “Holy fuck. I get to be ten feet tall?!? YES!”

“WHIRL NO!” Cora, Talia, and even Cyrus exclaimed.

"I'm only eight feet. Depends on you, I guess. I know a lady that's dick-height." Angel clarified. "Tiny demons happen, too."

"I'm telling Niffty you said that." Alastor deadpanned.

Angel stuck his tongue out, not caring about the threat in the slightest.

“Who the fuck is Niffty?”

“Can you kill the swears for maybe ten minutes Cora?”

“Well, I’d love to Tal, but unfortunately my ankle fucking hurts right now.” She smiled sweetly at her friend, who glared right back.

“And who got us into this mess? Cap it.” Cora sighed, didn’t argue, crossed her arms and turned back around.

“Don’t worry. We talk to each other like this all the time.” Stephen eyed the pair. In the end, after a lot of heaving and hawing, they managed to get the two oversized demons scrunched into the very back of the van.

Both were too large to sit normally, especially with the length of Angel's legs so Angel had squirmed in first to settle sideways in the seat. Alastor had to go in last to half-sit, half-recline on the other demon. It was a bit of an awkward fit, even more so that while Alastor could handle this much from Angel, and Angel only, he was certainly not a fan of PDA. Cora, needing to elevate her leg, was tucked in next to the pair, leg propped on her backpack.

“Okay! Metal warning!” Whirl shouted, as they all climbed in and buckled up. Cora, wincing, grabbed something from her backpack pocket, a clear plastic case and clicked it open. A pair of foam earplugs she then inserted into her ears. “Thumbs up for Rob Zombie or Down for Metallica!” Three thumbs up, two down. “Aight! Zombie it is!” He turned around to smirk at the two in the backseat. “Enjoy the fuckin’ ride Hellians!”

The ignition started, Whirl’s cell was plugged in. There was a beat, maybe two and then music began to play. None that Alastor had heard before!

“DEAD I AM THE ONE EXTERMINATOR’S SON SLIPPING THROUGH THE TREES STRANGLING THE BREEZE”

Alastor's ears instantly drew back against his head at the loud and abrasive percussion and growling vocals.

“Feel that.” Cora muttered under her breath after glancing over at Alastor, keeping her damaged leg elevated as Whirl made a u-turn and began to drive down the gravel road.

“DIG THROUGH THE DITCHES AND BURN THROUGH THE WITCHES I SLAM IN THE BACK OF MY DRAGULA! DIG THROUGH THE DITCHES AND BURN THROUGH THE-”

Alastor put up with it for a moment, the subtly reached up to his face, flicking his thumb over his nose. Near the control of the car's radio, the volume dial turned down a bit and the song abruptly changed. Soft brass began to play, a much slower;

"Folks here's a story 'bout Minnie the Moocher-"

“WHAT THE HELL?!?” Whirl hit the brakes and everyone lurched forward! “What the- where’d my music go?!??” He picked up his phone and tried to find it. “Oi! You!” He wrenched around to look back at Alastor. “Driver picks the tunes, passenger-!!”

“Whirl did you just get amnesia and forget what happened twenty minutes ago? Where he almost killed us?”

“Fuckin’ fine.” Whirl growled. “We pick the next though!”

Angel suppressed a chuckle at that.

"She was a red hot hoochie coocher. She was the roughest toughest nail. But Minnie had a heart as big as a whale… There was a break of words for a chorus of vocalization without real words before the lyrics continued; She messed around with a bloke named Smokey. She loved him, though he was cokey..."

The van was quiet as they kept driving, but Talia had suddenly gone onto her phone. She smirked after a bit, then snorted. “Hey, Cy! Look!” She held out her phone across to her boyfriend, who smirked and snorted. She then tapped Stephen’s shoulder, and he took her phone and smirked, then passed it onto Cora, who smirked.

“Hey Whirl! Wanna know something interesting about this song?”

“What.”

“The lyrics for this song is about drugs. Smokey is "cokey", he used cocaine! The phrase "kick the gong around" was a slang reference to smoking opium. The "hi-de-ho" scat lyrics came about when the guy singing forgot the lyrics during a live radio concert.”

“He forgot his own fuckin’ song?”

“Yup.”

“Guess someone else was cokey that night.” The group burst into a fit of laughter at their own joke. “Oh and the hooch- cooch - whatever?”

“She fucked people for cash.”

"A 'hoochie coocher' is just a dancer." Alastor protested.

"Yeah," Angel agreed, openly laughing now. "You dance in your skivvies for three bucks a night!"

"Maybe you do." Alastor huffed.

“Oh you’re a stripper? Wait. Hell has strippers?!” Talia asked, innocently enough.

“Must be a helluva lotta furries down there if he can make money stripping.” Whirl quipped

"Oh I do more than strip and I make way more than three bucks for it nowadays." Angel declared, clearly proud of his profession. "Not for you though. You're like… twelve?"

“I’m eighteen puffball.”

“Seventeen.” Talia piped up.

“Eighteen.” Cyrus added.

“I’m the baby, turning seventeen tonight.” Cora piped up.

“Eighteen.” Stephen added.

“Besides you’re not even my type. I’m not a furry-fucker.” Whirl snorted.

"Eh, still babies to me." Angel shrugged.

“Wait when did you guys die? Well when did you die Angel?” Talia asked.

"1947." Angel answered.

“Oh that’s- 1947?!?!?” Everyone shrieked the last part, and Whirl even swerved a bit! “You’re older than my great grandma!!!”

"Al's even older!" Angel said brightly, ignoring the warning growl from the other. "Big Red bit it in '33."

"That's nobody's business." Alastor grunted.

“Jesus Christ did world war one even happen then?!?”

“Hold on, I’m checking!... That’s world war two genius. No wonder you’re failing history!” Talia scolded Whirl.

“Hey it’s not my fault Rachel and I have had a two month streak! It just happens to coincide with my class and her free period.”

“Ugh.” Cora muttered under her breath, but Whirl didn’t miss it.

“Oh like you have a leg to stand on Miss I-Never-Wanna-Kiss.”

“Hey I wanna kiss! Just not with tongue! Saliva is fucking gross man.”

"Vile." Alastor agreed.

Cora perked right up and looked at him, wincing as she shifted her leg. “Hold on. You’re ace too?!”

"... No. I'm Alastor." Alastor corrected. "Did I knock you in the head with a hoof without realizing?"

Everyone snickered a bit but Cora didn’t laugh. “It’s a part of the LGBTQIA! A stands for Asexual and Aromantic.”

“Aaaand here we go!” Whirl sang.

“So asexual means you don’t feel sexual attraction to someone, like ever.”

"Yeah, that sounds like you." Angel said to the other, tapping an antler.

Alastor hardly even registered the tap, both ears focused toward the seats in front of them.

“You can also be demisexual and greysexual too. Demi is where you only feel it after a really deep, personal connection is created. And greysexual is where you rarely feel it! Same goes for aromantic. You don’t feel romantic attraction, or you can be demiromantic or greyromantic-!”

“Easy Cora, you’re gonna give the guy info overload!” Stephen warned.

Alastor reached forward, claws digging into the material of the seat and ripping through it in what may have been an accident. "That's normal?" He asked somewhat urgently.

“I mean, for me it is? The world’s changed a ton since you guys bit it and went down to Hell.” Cora shrugged. “But, it’s not the societal norm. It’s fine to be that way.” Angel giggled at the phrasing but didn't comment on it. Whirl did too. Cora scowled at the pair. “God can you ever be fucking mature?!”

“Nope! So eat my cute genderfluid ass!”

“That was cringe.” Talia winced.

“Cringe culture is dead!”

“So anyways,” Cora looked back at Alastor, “you can want romantic stuff if you’re asexual or sex when you’re aromantic, or you can be both aromantic and asexual and just, not want any of that. It’s all valid.”

"Learning somethin' new everyday, huh Smiles?" Angel said, watching the smile on Alastor's face shift as he processed.

“Oh yeah, fun fact! Gay Marriage was legalized across the US a few years back!” Cora added with a happy smile. “My dads got married as soon as Obama passed it!” Angel whooped. Cora had slapped her hands over her ears, wincing. “Warn a girl!”

"Sorry." Angel sympathized.

Talia perked up. "Oh! Are you gay Angel Dust?!”

Angel pointedly looked at where Alastor had relaxed into his chest and decided to make a joke of it. "I sure fuckin' hope so considerin' I went and got hitched to this weirdo."

Talia lit up like a firework. “Awwww! You two are married?!? That’s so cute! Cyrus-!!!” Her boyfriend grunted and nodded. She reached out and took his hand. “Two years for us!!!”

"Discretion consistently escapes you." Alastor scolded Angel, though with no real malice in his tone.

"Oh what are they gonna do?" Angel rolled his eyes.

“You’re in a van full of queers, gonna break it to you gently.” Cora grinned. “I’m asexual. Stephen’s bisexual. Whirl up front is genderfluid, aromantic and pan. Cyrus is demiromantic. Talia is a straight we adopted.”

"I figured out I was a boy when I was like eight." Angel decided to share. "Didn't have that word til after dyin' though."

Everyone “awwwed” and looked at him with empathy. “Dude that freaking sucks. You had to go to Hell to figure it out! Let alone get married.” Stephen said softly.

"Well it does suck to go to Hell but at least Hell don't care about what you do. Can't go to Hell twice, right?"

Whirl perked up. “Reeeaaally…”

“Whirl no!!!” The van simultaneously yelled at him.

"I could guarantee a descent." Alastor offered.

Angel swatted his ear. "No makin' bad Deals with babies. These kids are probably good ones."

“You guys are already helping us with making sure Ariana and her fucking posse leaves us alone for the rest of High School.” Cora noted, reminding everyone of what they were about to do.

“Well anyways, we’re almost at the city. If anyone asks, you’re in some pretty fucking nice costumes.” Whirl piped up, driving across the bridge, headed inland. “Are either of you from around here?”

"I am. Though everything looks so different…" Alastor said, peering out a window. "Mardi Gras must be even bigger these days, hm?"

“Hoh yeah.” A beat. “Remember the year Mr. Marmora had one too many?”

“Yeah and one of you geniuses put on Low by Flo-Rida.” Cora snapped. “I’m still traumatized!”

“We all are!” Whirl snort laughed.

"Doesn't even take Angel half of a sidecar to throw his shirt at someone. Every. Single. Parade." Alastor huffed, deciding Angel had dragged him enough tonight and that it was his turn to overshare.

All the teens “ooohed” and sniggered together. A beat. “Wait Hell has parades?”

"Hell has everything but bible study." Angel answered.

“Why do the Christians not want us to go? Sounds like a fuckin’ party!” Whirl grinned. “No one cares what you are or where you go, you can still party and have a blast with kickass people-”

“Go to heaven for climate, Hell for company.” Cyrus quipped from the backseat. “Mark Twain.”

"Mark Twain's in Hell!" Alastor said brightly. "Very odd man. For some reason he turned out a tortoise..."

“Okay I’m going to Hell now.” Cyrus nodded eagerly.

“Cyrus is the literary nerd out of all of us next to Miss Wants-to-be-the-next-Stephen-King.” Whirl looked in the mirror and smiled at Cora, who was madly signalling him to shut up.

Realizing that he was probably misleading on accident, Angel felt the need to point out one serious detail. "Gotta be parties and fun shit to keep everyone distracted." He said, more serious than he had been.

“Distracted?” Talia looked at Angel.

"Hell hurts." Angel continued.

“What? Okay why the cryptic shit suddenly?” Whirl asked, looking in the rearview mirror.

"Different for everyone." Alastor answered. "Best not to worry about the future, though."

“... Oh now you got us curious man. Tell us!”

“Tell us! What’s the dirty secret?!”

“Come on you can’t leave us hanging like that!”

“Tell us Alastor, come oooonnn! Please?!?” Cora begged along with her friends.

"Everybody gets a personalized thorn in the side, sorta." Angel explained.

"Really it's rude to ask." Alastor deflected.

“Are we, talking literal or-?”

“SHIT WHIRL THE ROAD-!!!” Whirl, having gotten distracted, had veered over the line and was about to collide with an incoming truck! He swerved, everyone shrieked, but thankfully it was a near miss. Stephen was panicking. “Holy shit, holy shit-!!!”

“Whirl we don’t wanna go yet goddammit!” Cora snapped angrily at him. “Watch the goddamn road!”

Alastor began to laugh, not at all bothered by the near miss. He couldn't die again, after all. Not from something as mundane as impact at least. Angel also wasn't scared, but he did find the other's reaction distasteful. He also got an assortment of glares from the teens.

"Really, you try to summon a Loa and then run from Baron Samedi as soon as he gives you a wave." Alastor snickered.

“Baron-?

“Basically the reaper in hoodoo but not really.” Cora interjected Talia’s question. “Kind of, I think, more like- uh-”

"More like a party god of death." Angel said. "I met him. He's a gas."

“Disney’s Hades.” Cora nodded. “So, I guess Granny Mentry’s book on Loa and summoning’s got everyone in it. Neat!”

“Cora we’re burning the thing soon as the night’s over.” Talia interjected.

“Right.”

"I could take it off your hands." Alastor offered.

“Uh, hah, nope! I’m not giving it to a Loa that’s… uh… well. What are you a Loa of anyway? You weren’t in the book but we summoned you using Kalfu’s shtick.”

"You 're really fortunate you got me instead." Alastor said, calming his earlier laughter.

“We used deer antlers, not cow horns.” Cora sighed. “So I guess that your summoning is the same but uses bull deer. And apparently from roadkill too.” She eyed Cyrus, wincing again. “Dammit are we near Walgreens? My ankle is really swelling up!!”

“Google Maps says ten more minutes. We were just driving in from bumfuck middle of nowhere.” Stephen piped up, checking his phone.

"Buck deer. Shame I don't even get my own personal summons…" Alastor mused, feigning offense.

“We weren’t even gonna use horns, we couldn’t find any.” Cora chuckled dryly. “I thought rawhide chews would work.”

Mock offense became a very real offense at that. "You pulled me through the Veil using dog toys?"

“No, I found deer antlers from a roadkill.” Cyrus corrected him. “Thought it’d work instead. Pet store was sold out of rawhide chews.”

"Oh. Well there's that mercy." Alastor huffed, squirming.

"I'm gonna kick you if you don't sit still. You got your bony elbow in my ribs." Angel said, nudging Alastor with his knee.

“Wait how the fuck are we gonna get you out with the two of them stuffed in the back?” Stephen pointed out and Cora groaned.

“We’ll unpack and repack. Just, hurry please. I’m getting really fucking overloaded from this stupid pain.”

"Is now a bad time to say I really gotta piss?" Angel piped up. Everyone turned to stare at Angel like he’d grown a secondary head.

“You still gotta piss in hell?” Whirl asked. Thankfully they were at a stoplight.

"Piss, shit, eat, and sleep. Yeah." Angel confirmed.

“That sucks.”

 

 

Thankfully the store was still open when they pulled up to a parking spot. “Okay, Talia and Cyrus stay in here, make sure no one takes this thing. Cyrus ‘n me-”

“Cyrus and I-” Cyrus corrected but got a glare from Whirl,

“Will help Cor here out and inside since someone’s bladder still functions.” He eyed the two. “Eldritch Horrors, whatever ya do, do not try something I’d do.”

"Do worse!" Alastor cheered, letting Angel up so the spider could wriggle out of the car.

Everyone got out, stretched, and then Whirl went over to the back seat with Cyrus to help Cora out. She winced, yelping in pain when she put some pressure on it. “Oh quit being such a big baby!”

“It fucking hurts man!”

“Okay so An- hey wait-!” Stephen yelled out to no avail.

Rushing in the store, Angel got an unwelcoming reminder at just how much the Surface was not made for demonic shapes and sizes; even though the electric door opened itself, he still caught the top of his head on the doorframe that was too low for his stature!

"Motherfucker." Angel huffed, holding his head where he was sure he would bruise under his fur.

A cashier near the door gawked at him, staring all the way up at the spider demon. Thankfully Cyrus, Cora, and Whirl were right behind him.

“Ugh, hey, do you know where the ice packs and tylenol is?”

“Aisle 6.”

“Thanks. Hey, Angel, have fun getting out of your costume in the bathroom!” Cora called out, covering for him.

Angel squinted, confused before catching on. "Yeah, too bad I went and sewed the stilts into the trousers, huh?"

The cashier seemed to relax. “That’s, an amazing costume! I’m so jealous!” The woman gushed. “How hard is it to walk with your legs all weird?”

"It's like the weirdest fuckin' stilletos." Angel answered, a bit of honesty in it.

“It looks so real!” She gushed. “Did you need help finding anything tonight?”

"Bathroom." Angel answered.

“Oh that’s gonna be hell.” She gave him the key. “After you’re done can I get a photo with you? I have to post this to my Insta!”

"Sure thing toots," Angel agreed, not seeing the harm as he took the key and thankfully remembered to duck when he got to the bathroom door.

“... ‘toots’?”

"He likes staying in character." Cora spoke from around the corner. The living teens managed to get the ice, some paper towels, and tylenol for their friend, bringing her up to the counter to pay. Her face fell a bit upon seeing them.

“Uhh. Accident helping him get into the costume, heh.” She grinned awkwardly.

“Did you have that backpack on when you came in here?”

“Yeah, it’s, how I’m gonna carry the stuff out.”

“I’d like to see what’s inside of it ma’am.”

“I’m, sorry?”

“You three were back there for awhile. Please remove your bag and open it up.”

“Hey, hey wait you can’t do that!” Whirl frowned. “There ain’t any “no backpack policy” stickers anywhere!”

“Well that just sounds guilty. So either you open it up and let me check or I’ll call the cops. Pick one.”

The trio all shared looks, Whirl looking ready to start cussing but thankfully chose to clam up. They reluctantly they helped Cora remove her bag. “You ever heard of racial profiling?!” She scowled.

“You ever work retail? I know your kind. Kids of immigrants, coming into this country and thinking just because it’s the land of the free it means you can take whatever the hell you want.” The woman unzipped each pocket and rifled through, pulling out her PJs, sanitary napkins, and underwear right in front of her male friends-!

“Oooh my gooood…” Cora felt humiliated.

Angel returned shortly to the scene, frowning at the clear invasion going on. He thought for a moment, then put on his best wide eyed glare toward the clerk.

"You rifle through everyone's shit while they're in the fuckin bathroom?" He asked, hoping to take some of the embarrassment off of his new buddies by claiming at least the more embarrassing bit as his own just to get the clerk uncomfortable. Not like over half of Hell had seen him in worse circumstances.

“It’s just a precaution sir, we’ve had a tremendous amount of theft in the area recently. I’m going to put everything back in the way I found it once I double check.” She smiled sweetly. And, immediately after saying that, she stuffed all of Cora’s possessions back inside. “Okay, you’re all good! How will you be paying for your items today?”

“... Credit…”

“Well, unfortunately our credit machine is out of order. Do you have any cash?”

"I got cash if you got time to count out a royal shitload of ones." Angel said. He didn't wait for anyone to try stopping him from paying, finding it lucky his part of Hell used the same currency. He leaned on the counter, putting his secondary arms out of sight of the clerk and used the excuse of his 'stilts' hurting his feet to get away with it. Counting money slowly himself, he kept the clerk's attention while his lower hands began the practiced motions of grabbing the small snacks set on display there, scratching through barcodes with his claws and hiding them in the inside pockets of the hems of his boots. "You know you're lucky you went through my backpack while I'm not havin' to work. Usually dildos in there."

Cora and the others noticed, but stayed quiet, though smiled to themselves. “That was your backpack?” The woman went pale.

"Some guys got cunts too." Angel shrugged.

“Buddy system.” Cora played along with a smirk at the woman’s disgusted face. “Like you said, ‘lots of theft’. Might wanna wash your hands after you’re done.”

"Hey you wanted a picture right?" Angel asked cheerfully, knowing full well how likely that was to have changed.

“I’m, fine, not actually supposed to do it on the clock.” The cashier muttered. Her look of “grossed out” never left until she finished the transaction. She didn’t wish them a pleasant night as they left and hurried back to the van.

Everyone was laughing when they climbed back in, Cora taping the ice to her swollen ankle. "Did you see her face when you mentioned it was yours and she finally caught on?!" She asked Angel, busy handing out all the chocolate he stole to the kids.

"Yeah, been a while since I've actually been able to surprise anyone with that. Over half of Hell's seen my ass."

"Vulgar." Alastor muttered, watching the candy being passed around.

"Nah, just accurate. I ain't forget you." Angel assured, giving him a packet of beef jerky he'd snagged specifically for him. Alastor brightened considerably as he took it.

“Okay. Ankle’s iced. Just need a crutch because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna miss you two scaring the shit out of Ariana, James, Wilson, Fritz-”

“Yeah everyone in their stupid friend group is gonna be at this party.” Talia piped up, munching on her KitKat. “God I cannot wait to graduate in a few months and get into my Bachelor of Science. At least in that field nobody cares if you’re fat.”

"More to hold onto." Angel muttered.

"Five minutes, Angel." Alastor sighed. "Can you go without innuendo for five minutes."

"... No."

Cyrus smirked a little bit to himself and Talia started blushing. “Mmn. They’re assholes anyways Talia. Last I checked I don’t even know how to fire a gun.”

“Yeah. I wonder when that rumor is gonna die down.” Whirl shook his head. “Ya got any sour candies or was it all just chocolate?”

Angel picked out a bag of sour skittles, tossing it up Whirl's way. "I got everything." He stated, then also tossed up a stolen box of condoms. "Those ain't gonna fit most demons but you guys should stay safe, huh?"

He started the car and they began to drive again, Cora munching on her M&Ms. “Want some?” She offered Alastor.

"None too keen on sugar, but thank you." Alastor declined.

She shrugged and kept munching. “Oh, did you hear what they said about Whirl last week?” She asked Talia, who rolled her eyes.

“‘That freak is going to end up dead in a ditch’ or some shit. I dunno. Ariana says a bunch of stuff.” Stephen had taken to looking out a window, visibly uncomfortable by the group.

"Ariana sounds like a bitch." Angel observed.

“She is!” The unanimous declaration called out.

“Her dad owns a ton of companies in the area. She has money and so do all of her friends. Rich white people, ugh.” Talia snorted. “‘Hey Talia! You know you’d be prettier if you lost weight! You’d have so much more self esteem and wouldn’t date a future terrorist like Cyrus’! Like what the fuck? And it’s at least once a month where she’ll corner me and tell me that. She’s done so since we got together!”

“She acts nice because she’s a ‘good Christian girl’ but it’s all backhanded. Then she’ll start rumors about you so she can get away with whatever the hell she says. She’s made all of our lives miserable since we started high school.” Cora sighed. “She picks on me because, oh what a shocker, I have two dads, I’m disabled and I haven’t had any boyfriend ever. And recently she’s really played into racism. You know how many times I was asked how to make rice or if I liked the taste of dog meat? And then two days ago she asked me to read this Chinese that was on some packaging. Fucking- ugh-! I’m half Malay for crap’s sake!”

Alastor winced at the mention of racism, having more than his share of it in life. He'd lived in a time when 'no coloreds' and 'white only' signs were commonplace. Hell was a bit more forgiving given most demons were creatures, but in his human form he still sometimes got sour looks for his skin being a darker grey than others that looked likewise human enough. The sour looks stopped when he had taken down a solid half of the higher class population by himself but it hadn't stopped completely. Instead they had just been replaced with fear and he supposed that was better. Fear him for something he'd done, instead of hate him for how he looked. He said nothing outward, but empathized anyway.

Everyone nodded. “If she asks me a recipe for Curry one more time I’m gonna fucking lose it.” Whirl added. “Or her friends trip me and slip me pamphlets for ‘mental health’ retreats. I’m genderfluid, not psychotic! Maybe. I dunno. I’m fine.”

“I don’t say anything in class. Guess that makes me a school shooter.” Cyrus added, looking away. “I just like reading more than talking. Fuck her.”

“... fuck all of them.” Stephen finally croaked. He’d started crying. Whirl noticed and immediately pulled over.

“Hey man listen, we didn’t mean-”

“It’s fine. It's fine. I’m fine. I’m not gonna lose it. Just, let’s do this. Let’s make them pay for all of the shit they’ve put me through and us through.” Everyone’s anger and sourness instantly turned to concern and anxiety for their friend. Something was up.

"You need me to shoot at somebody, kid? Cuz I will." Angel offered. He knew he couldn't actually do so but a warning shot would probably work just fine.

“Maybe…”

“Stephen, we can’t. I made the contract. No harm to the living. We can’t get caught.”

“I know I- maybe just, drug him or something, I dunno.” Cora visibly winced as Stephen wiped his eyes with his jacket sleeve. “I just want him to know what it’s like to be fucking helpless.”

Angel could read the unsaid context. He'd been there enough to see signs. "Even If I can't pull a trigger we can still give the bastard a scare, right?"

“... yeah. Thanks.” He grinned a little back at the spider demon. “For someone from hell, you’re- man. I never thought, any of this would exist. Maybe that creationism theory deserves a second look or something.”

“Please god don’t.” Cora chuckled, the two eyeing each other. Whirl got back on the road.

"More a domino effect." Alastor said, explaining. "Or a Rube Goldberg machine but with the whole universe. Many beliefs for many Gods and Spirits all setting the laws and tools and then just… letting the ball go to see where it rolls. Everything is true. Creationism and science."

"Okay, I'm not nearly high enough to be processing any of that so I'm not gonna." Angel said after a pause.

"It's so simple!" Alastor squawked.

"You're getting me existential and I'm already dead." Angel groaned. "Somebody needs to be passin' a blunt around at least if we keep talkin' serious. Come on, who's got a J?"

Everyone looked at each other. Finally, Cora pulled the blunt in a plastic baggy out of her pocket. “Listen it’s for anxiety-”

"Ain't gotta justify shit." Angel said, checking his pockets and fluff, finding them lacking, and searching Alastor's until he found a matchbox. Alastor tolerated it, though did wish Angel would have just asked.

"Thin ice." Alastor stated quietly.

"Sorry." Angel said, making sure to keep better track of his hands.

“So, how long have you two been married anyways?” Cora decided to ask, as the car began to smell of weed. She took back her joint when he was done, dropping it back into the baggy.

"Little less than a year but nearly." Alastor answered.

“I didn’t know you could get married in Hell.” Whirl chuckled.

“Till tonight I didn’t think there was a Hell to go to.” Stephen murmured. “My whole life I’ve believed in science and the idiocy of religion and now- jesus. I may have a full mental breakdown tomorrow after all of this. I may actually have to start going to mass again with my parents.”

"Well laws in Hell ain't really enforced unless you got ways to off people over 'em. More like whoever's strongest gets to do whatever the fuck."

"And I wanted to marry Angel." Alastor continued.

“You can d-”

“So what’s the plan?” Cyrus interrupted Stephen. “We’ve come this far, the night is almost over. Still haven’t figured it out.”

"You guys are takin' us to a party, right?" Angel asked.

“Yeah. Wilson’s dad manages the park and picnic area. His parents are out at some Halloween Gala and knowing them by rumor, they’ll be too drunk to drive home. So Wilson is throwing it there.”

"Park out of sight." Alastor suggested, gesturing to himself and Angel. "Nobody should see where we come from."

Whirl nodded, and drove for another few minutes before pulling up on the far end of the park. Faintly, in the distance, you could hear bass pounding. “It’s probably at the picnic tables.”

“Okay. So the plan is, so far to just, scare the living daylights out of Ariana, Wilson and their friends.” Cora began. “Someone needs to sneak over and check out how many people are actually there, as well as the layout. Then we know how to approach and give them Hell.”

“... okay which one of us should-?”

Angel leaned slightly, suggesting something to Alastor who laughed and nodded.

"Hey Cy, let me borrow your jacket. We're both tall and I gotta hide these." Angel said, holding up his lower hands. "Anybody got red makeup?"

He looked at Talia, who nodded, and the teen sighed and slid the bulky trenchcoat off. His arms were marked up, and he looked quickly uncomfortable. Talia gave him her denim one immediately after, patting his arm comfortingly. “I do!” Whirl grinned and pulled out some. “Do you want ketchup packets? I got ketchup packets!”

"Even better!" Angel cheered.

Stephen finally asked: "What are you planning?"

"Al's gonna eat me!" Angel answered cheerfully.

The teenagers all gawked at Angel Dust with a mixture of confusion and disgust. “Kinky.” Talia piped up.

 

 

Cora was still having issues walking, hobbling along behind Alastor, using the stick from the woods as a makeshift cane. It was 3 a.m.. Time was running out.

Alastor looked back, then let out a sigh and manifested his own cane. "That twig is going to snap. You may borrow this."

“I- what-?” her eyes widened as the cane Alastor carried around with him, a microphone was shoved into her hands! She teetered, but planted it into the ground and balanced herself out before continuing onwards. She paused for a moment to scratch at her hand where he had brushed hers for a moment.

"Problem?" He asked, noticing the tic.

“Not, with you no. I just- I have this mental thing and it’s, kind of going to sound ridiculous. I just don’t like being touched suddenly.” She sighed, scurrying along behind him.

"Well being touched is annoying. Can't fault you for that!"

“It’s more than just ‘annoying' though. It- what, I have. It’s called Sensory Processing Disorder,” Cora explained to Alastor as they made their way through the trees of the park; “Your central nervous system takes in stimuli, but it can’t process it properly, leading to a whole bunch of issues. I’ve got what’s called Sensory Modulation with Over Responsivity; it’s like, sudden touches make me feel sick and sorta hurt. I’ve got this whole three foot rule everyone’s gotta follow unless I initiate any contact. It's weird. I guess that’s why no one really gets along with me, save for the guys. My brain’s fucked up and I’m a freak.”

"You're going to stand there and declare yourself a freak to a man with antlers?" Alastor pointed out, then sighed. "I also detest being touched. I keep a five-foot rule bit it's admittedly one-sided. Skin contact is particularly grating… Luckily Angel doesn't have much bare skin, what with all the fur, and has learned to not surprise me. Even so there's a cap to how much I'm able to tolerate in a day. There are worse ways to be a freak than simple aversions."

“Well. I guess there’s that.” Cora sighed. “I’d just like to meet someone, someday, who doesn’t care I’m like this. Before I make it down to Hell, respectively.” She grinned up at Alastor. “I don’t think I could wait that long.”

"Die young then!" Alastor suggested, though his tone suggested he was teasing.

“Nah. I wanna make something of myself up here before I wind up elsewhere.” It flew right over her head before she realized- “Fuck. Ugh. Why does this ‘socializing’ shit have to be so complex?! Bad enough everyone thinks I’m gonna be a serial killer or something in like a decade.”

"Why wait? It's a fun way to kill time."

“Now I know you’re joking.” She shook her head with a wry grin. “Loa can’t kill the living.”

"Dear, I'm only half Loa. Be glad for the human half or one of your group would have had to be my horse for the night. Anyway, why do you think I became a demon in the first place?" Alastor pointed out. "Though the pun I admit was intentional."

“... what?” She stopped her limp, balancing on the mic.

"The Great Depression was easier to manage if you didn't have to worry about keeping food on the table."

Cora stared at Alastor a long moment, and then she pieced together what he said and slowly her eyes widened and she dryly gulped. “You, wouldn’t happen to have uh, been alive when the New Orleans Butcher was kicking right…?”

"Why does no one ever come up with anything more creative?" Alastor huffed, managing to pout and smile all at once. "First that, now 'Radio Demon.' Lazy…"

“Oh.” Her voice went extremely quiet. “I see.” Inwardly her mind was screaming in absolute terror. She had done fucked up! They were running around with something- someone- a fricking serial killer!!! “Sooo. Quick question, uh, you know you’re not gonna kill these guys right? Like, I’m pissed off at them, I wanna hurt them but I don’t want them dead and shit.”

"If I could cause real harm I would have done so already. The Dead have rules barring them from harming the Living." Alastor reminded. "If you change your mind, though, try an Imp. Those are technically Living and can do as they please."

“Listen, as much as I hate them I don’t wanna kill them. I don’t wanna kill anyone. We already lost people in enough shootings and senseless murder up here because of their orientation ya know? Besides I’m bad at social skills, not a serial killer wannabe.”

"Pity," Alastor sighed, but conceded. He understood the sentiment at least. Besides with how connected modern technology had become it was probably harder to hide a body. No need getting into trouble you couldn't get away with!

“Okay. There’s the party.” She pointed at a large bonfire flickering between the tree trunks in a large cleared out area. Teenagers were staggering about, cans and bottles and solo cups littered everywhere; “Less people than I thought there’d be. That’s a pretty good sign.” She leaned against the mic, keeping her leg propped up like a flamingo’s. “... do you need this back to call it in?”

"The microphone is soulbound." Alastor explained. "I can use it from anywhere so long as it's in the same plane of Existence." He closed his eyes, the microphone part of the staff glowing as he connected with it, and with every other audio device in the immediate area. The booming music stopped, replaced with static before garbled music, a distorted version of Mr. Sandman laced with an odd rattling replaced it. "That's a start! Now to go see about a spider." He chuckled, leaving Cora with the cane and shifting as he walked.

“Might use this for a novel someday.” She grinned, knowing she could sit back and watch the show.

Shouts of ‘what the fuck’ echoed as teenagers paused and approached the speakers. And then, the screams began. Everyone backed away, terrified, and looked at each other in horror. Cora giggled to herself, revelling in their fear. A beat. Then Talia, Stephen and Whirl came barreling into the clearing! “IT GOT CORA! SOMEBODY HELP, CALL 9-1-1!!!” Talia wailed.

“What the fuck? What are you spazzes doing here?!” Ariana called out, clearly drunk.

“We- we- we’re so sorry!” She sobbed out, out of breath. “It- we didn’t know what we were doing! We didn’t think it’d work!!!”

“What the hell kinda LSD are you shitheads on?” Another boy asked.

“THE DEMON DEER IS COMING MAN!!!” Whirl yelled.

Stephen frantically pointed behind him. “We- we beat it here but- but Cora and Cyrus-!” A round of laughter erupted from the teens.

“Oh my god. They’re totally freaking out!” Someone had pulled out their camera to record.

“You have to run! Get out of here! We- we don’t have much time! We need logs from the fire, it hates it, it-!”

“Okay. I see what this is. You’re trying to prank us because you Stephen are still convinced that I ‘raped’ you last year. This is really gone too far. You’re deluded, all of you! So tell Cora to come out, and Cyrus too, and maybe your lives won’t be so fucking miser-”

That’s when the bellow echoed, loudly and from the trees. “OH MY GOD IT’S COMING!!!” Talia shrieked. “Wh- where’s Cyrus?! Isn’t he supposed to- to be here by now?!” Trampling, bushes shaking, from the treeline a familiar silhouette appeared, it screaming bloody murder! “CYRUS RUN! RUN! GET TO THE FIRE DON’T LET IT-”

Close behind, breaching the treeline, a large skull appeared, followed by the rest of the horrifying body! Teeth snapped at the tall figure, once a miss, but the second time closing around the head and shoulders, conveniently hiding the face. Alastor shook his head, careful not to actually bite down too hard before dropping his catch and shoving his snout into the stomach of the now 'bloodied' body. The teens screamed, Talia dropped onto her knees, wailing for the loss of Cyrus. Ariana dropped to her knees and began praying.

Angel was doing his best to stay still while Alastor's snout nuzzled his stomach. Ketchup staining the deer's teeth to really sell the 'kill'. Luckily the twitching from trying not to laugh could pass as death-throes. Really Alastor was having too much fun, tickling in a way that wasn't completely unintentional. Really Angel was just glad the mischief had clearly brought out the rarity that was Alastor being openly affectionate. He should pretend to die more often!

Alastor finally left his 'kill', circling fire in a lumbering gait as he waited for someone to lose their nerve and make a run for it. He was of course being a perfect showman about it, letting out rattling growls and shaking his head to show off his antlers. Occasionally he would stomp close before feigning fear at the flames.

“What the hell… what the hell…!”

“I- what are we gonna do?” Someone else spoke from the crowd.

“Okay. Okay we- maybe we can make a break for it. It doesn’t like fire, right?” Stephen looked at the logs. “We summoned it, we’ll drive it off! Maybe it’ll even give us back our friends!”

“Are you insane?! We need to call the cops-!”

“And add to the body count?!?” Someone piped up.

Alastor, listening to the conversation, snorted and raked a hoof across the ground in mock agitation before roaring. The speaker's static raised in tandem with the sound. Another set of screams echoed in the air. A few pairs of bottoms were soiled.

“IT’S GONNA CHARGE!”

“We have to! Just-”

Whirl grabbed a burning log! “Okay, we’re doing this! Holy shit! Hooooly shit!” Stephen grabbed his own. Talia did, and then they steadied themselves. “C-count of three! One! Two! THREE!” They lunged, holding the burning logs, yelling at the top of their lungs!

Alastor stomped, a clear challenge though he did take half a step back at the fire. He had to at least pretend that the flames put him off. Still, fearful animals were even more prone to lash out and so he dropped his head, careful to only catch wood with his horns and not flesh. He gave them a shove, not enough to actually injure as he knocked the burning wood away. As hoped, the other teenagers not in on the prank lost their nerve and ran, Alastor turning to follow behind for a ways, snapping his jaws without actually biting more than air. He only slowed once he was sure all others would be too fearful to look back, gave out one last bellow for good measure, then cheerfully frolicked back to his group. As much as something his size could frolick, that is.

Angel sat up, finally letting out the cackle he'd been a trooper to hold in. "Oh fuck!" He said between giggle fits, rolling over. "Oh that was so stupid!" He stood, brushing himself off and shedding the coat and walking up to Alastor to give him a kiss on the bony ridge of his snout.

“Geez, thanks for the soft landing.” Whirl groaned. “Damn I think I landed on my spleen…!”

Alastor rattled, shrinking to his usual form. "I physically cannot hurt you." He reminded, raising to his tiptoes to lick a bit of ketchup from Angel's cheek.

"Nastyyy." Angel teased.

“Shhh!” Cora hissed, having rejoined them at the hiding spot. “There’s some stragglers, freezers and- haha! Ariana’s still praying! Holy fuck!”

“Oh my god shut up! You’re gonna blow our fucking cover!” Whirl hissed, holding the burnt out log in his hands from his hiding place in the trees. Talia was having a hard time not laughing too, tucked under her boyfriend’s arms.

“Holy shit Ariana shit herself!”

“WH- what?!?” Everyone was crowding around, peeking out of the bushes and watching the teenage girl run by, sure enough a brown stain on the bottom of her cat costume. “Holy shit wow okay! Gross!”

“Hoooh, man, this is the best fucking Halloween ever!!!” Cora gushed.

 

 

 

“How’s your ankle?”

“Ehh, I'll be fine.” She said as Stephen helped her into the van. “... anyone else hungry?”

"Always!" Alastor chirped.

Four a.m.. What would be open that time of night? “Taco Bell is 24 hour!” Whirl grinned.

“Dude you’re an addict.”

“They have fuckin’ Baja Blast there!” He started the car and then eyed Alastor. “Hey! No messing with the music.”

"That wasn't stated in our terms of the Deal." Alastor pointed out. "But I suppose as long as you can refrain from playing garbage…"

“Well. This once I’ll put on my boring ass playlist for you.” He tapped some things on his phone, then began to roll along. Some chains, bubbling sounds, drums, and then-

I was working in the lab, late one night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight-

They bounced along, and the teens, now all in good spirits, began to sing along.

Unfortunately, Alastor liked it. Angel snorted.

He did the mash! He did the monster mash! The monster mash! It was a graveyard smash! He did the mash! It caught on in a flash: the monster mash! He did the monster mash!” There was an attempt at harmonizing with the backing vocals but everyone wanted to sing the lyrics, so there was a cacophony of “wahooos” jumbled with half sung lyrics.

Never mind, he hated it. Clearly a joke at his expense. Still he left the car radio alone. He'd had his fun.

“So what was Halloween like when you two were alive?” Cora peeked at Angel and Alastor.

"Parties, candy, and costumes." Angel answered. "Not much different I guess."

"Ritual sacrifice." Alastor answered as well.

"...See you could be joking or serious and I can't tell." Angel said, grinning.

“No, you’re being truthful right?” Cora perked up. “I remember reading that some Loa liked animal sacrifices.”

"Some." Alastor agreed. "Though I had no idea I was partially Loa while I was alive. I had to die to come into my magic and animals never liked me much aside from the one gator out on the bayou that had the privilege of having my leftovers. She was a special one."

"What was the gator's name?" Angel asked, this having been new information to him.

"...Hissy Missy"

Angel snorted.

Nobody even bothered to react this time. “Glad I’m not your type. I'd rather not meet Hissy Missy.” Cora joked.

"Only Angel is." Alastor admitted softly, to which Angel made a show of clutching his heart and flopping over as much as the limited space would allow.

“Okay but seriously though you two are Couple Goals.” Talia gushed. Whirl rolled his eyes.

They pulled into the drive through, up to the window and Whirl grinned. “Okay! Who wants what? An’ one atta time!”

Shouts of ‘taquitoes’, ‘cinnatwists’, “soft taco no sour cream”, “burrito” echoed from the back seat.

"Just get ten of everything and toss what you don't want back here!" Angel had to shout over the rest. Cora slapped her hands over her ears and gave Angel a sour look. "Sorry," He said after he noticed, "Just tryin' to be heard."

“Hah yeah like we have that kinda dough!” Whirl snorted.

"I'm the most famous pro-hoe in Hell." Angel pointed out, fishing his wallet out of his fluff. "My rates are fuckin' sickening."

“Oh hell yeah! When I get to Hell I’m gonna fucking-!”

“WHIRL NO!”

They indeed got ten of everything, picking through it all, sucking back the overly sugary concoction that was ‘Baja Blast’. For Alastor’s sake, Whirl added a black coffee to the order, and everyone passed it back to Cora, who handed it to Alastor. “Solid black, Whirl made sure.”

"Like your soul!" Whirl hollered.

"I mean yeah?"

Alastor laughed at that, thanking both of them as he carefully took the cup. "Black blood I know for sure." Alastor confirmed.

“Huh!” Cora shrugged, sipping the pop and then winced. “... yeesh. I see why you have no sweet tooth.” She passed it back up so Whirl could have hers and began to munch on her cinna twists. A large bag full of the leftovers was given to Alastor and Whirl. Soft rock had been playing on the speakers, not loud enough to bother anyone.

Alastor, hungry enough to forget to chew, managed to swallow a burrito whole. Cora blinked, sighed, shrugged and kept eating her own food.

Angel sighed fondly. "Wasted talent…"

"You hush." Alastor said, shovelling more of the mockery of mexican food in his mouth. Chorizo, he was glad to find, was oddly similar to demon. He'd have to see if there were any places like Taco Bell in Hell when he got home.

As they began to head out of the city, the song flipped onto something that made all the teenagers gasp/choke and immediately begin to sing along:

”Is this the real life?! Is this just fantasy?! Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality! Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…! I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy - ‘cause I’m easy come, easy go! Little high! Little low!”

Whatever this song was, to both Angel and Alastor, their new little group of human companions had turned into a bunch of theatrical choirers.

”Maaamaaa! Just killed a man! Put a gun against his head, pulled the trigger, now he’s dead! Maaamaaa! Life had just begun! But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away! Maaamaaa! Ooooh! Didn’t mean to make you cry! If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on! ‘Cause nothing really matters... !

Angel listened somberly, finding some solidarity with the song so far. He absently petted Alastor's ear, tapping his antler as a warning first out of habit. Alastor allowed it, enjoying the calm.

Even Cora seemed to get into the spirit of it, swinging her arms about, not caring if a Loa and Spider Demon were staring at her. But, within a couple of minutes, the song’s tempo switched after the guitar solo;

“I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Thunderbolt and lightning very, very frightening me!”

“Galileo!” Talia shrieked from a seat up!

“Galileo!” Cyrus bellowed next to her.

Alastor visibly startled at the sudden shift, but would admit there was charm to the song. Angel, likewise, was getting into it as well, though more openly.

“Galileo!”

“Galileo!”

“Magnifico-o-o-o-o!” They sang together again. “I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. He's just a poor boy from a poor family! Spare him his life from this monstrosity! Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?” Cora stuffed her food into the baggie after a few pieces went flying, and shoved it away, never breaking the melody for a moment.

Alastor may have grabbed the bag to see if there was anything left in it. Angel Dust and Cora, meanwhile, were really getting into the song together.

“Bismillah! We will not let you go!” Her arm flung out, but didn’t come near Angel or Alastor.

“Let him go!”

“Bismillah! We will not let you go!”

“Let him go!” Angel joined, not knowing the song as well as the others but catching onto repetition.

“Bismillah! We will not let you go!”

“Let me go!”

“Will not let you go!”

“Never let you go-o-o!”

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Oh, mama mia, mama mia! Mama mia, let me go! Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me!”

As Whirl made the turn off the highway and onto the gravel road, everyone began to simultaneously headbang along to the final parts of the song, and Whirl was drumming his fingers on the steering wheel as they bounced along!

“So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die?! Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby! Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here!!”

“Whaddya think Alastor?!” Cora asked, smiling widely.

Alastor crossed his arms, having run out of various things to eat already. "I don't hate it." He admitted.

"Translation, he digs it." Angel clarified.

“ALASTOR LIKES QUEEN!” Cora declared, and quite loudly so!

"Where's the volume control on you?" Alastor teased her.

She stuck out her tongue playfully, rocking a bit on her hands as they began to slow down, as did the music. “Nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me…!”

Queen sang the last lyric by themselves as the van pulled to a stop at the edge of the road; “Any way the wind blows…”

"And we'll be home in time to feed Nuggets breakfast." Angel said, melancholic about having to leave but glad he'd be back in familiar space soon.

“... Who’s Nuggets?” Cora asked as she scooted over to the door, glancing over at him.

"My baby!" Angel answered.

“You have a kid?!” Talia perked up. “Adopted or biological?!”

"Adopted." Angel answered. "Dyin' makes you sterile."

"It's his pig." Alastor clarified.

“You have a piggie?! Oh my god I love piggies!!!” Talia gushed. “They’re so smart and sweet!!!”

“Talia you just like any animal with any friendly nature in it.” Cora chuckled, about to hand Alastor his cane back. “Thanks for letting me borrow it.”

"Soulbound. It will come with me when you dismiss me." Alastor reminded. "Keep it until I go. You seem to need it more."

She perked up a bit. “Thanks…!” And she used it to help herself out of the van.

"Look at you, havin' a heart." Angel said.

"Slander!" Alastor answered playfully.

The teenagers gathered around the headlights. “... Well. Here we go.” Everyone started to head into the woods. “You know, this was a really good night. We had some actual fun!”

“Yeah! We shoplifted a racist lady’s Walgreens,”

“Made Ariana shit her pants,”

"Alastor listened to somethin' recorded after the 50s," Angel added.

“Yeah, but like they say: “all good things must come to an end”. So let’s head b- sonofabitch!” Cora stopped. “Shit I forgot my backpack!”

Whirl stopped and turned to look back. “It’s important because-?”

“We have to clear up the altar after they leave and my backpack has my phone in it! With the notes!”

“Well I gotta go back with ya. I have the keys!”

Talia shivered a bit and Cyrus sighed. “You can have your jacket back.”

“Nono I’m-” he draped it over her shoulders. “But your coat is in the van!”

“We’ll go back and get it too.”

“... and I’m not being left alone with these guys, no offence, so yeah I’ll come with.” Stephen concluded.

"No, by all means. Fuck off for a bit I wanna see if I can talk Al into dirtyin' up that altar." Angel chuckled.

"No." Alastor said sternly. "That is a place of service."

"Exactly!"

“Angel no!” The teens agreed, save for Whirl who whooped;

“Angel yes!”

The two demons waited for the kids to go before Angel cleared a space on the altar to sit. Alastor rolled his eyes but followed to stand close, eyes flashing momentarily.

"Do not disrespect old gods." Alastor warned.

"I just wanna respect the hell outta you." Angel answered, kissing the other's cheek sweetly. "Come on, when are we ever gonna get to be under stars like this again?"

Alastor's smile dropped to something more sincere as he relented. He was in a good mood and he did like to hold Angel. Just for a while. Just because it was Angel. Really, Angel had some semblance of the right idea; there was no better place than this to whisper adorations against his throat.

A gunshot rang out and both demons stopped, Alastor's ears swiveling to try placing its direction but the sound had been so brief he wasn't sure. Angel also looked up, but wasn't worried yet.

"We're in the woods babe. Probably somebody huntin'." Angel reasoned.

"I'm a deer." Alastor reminded.

Angel chuckled, kissing the glowing deathmark on Alastor's forehead. "Nobody's after you this time. Relax."

So Alastor did try to relax, the glowing X fading as he let Angel distract him further. He'd almost managed to fully compose before he heard another shot, his ear finding the direction instantly this time. He also noticed a faint taste of blood, secondhand and not directly. From his microphone. Even more telling; screams.

"Something happened." Alastor said quickly, stepping back and pulling Angel to his feet.

"Shit, the kids!" Angel said, catching on quickly.

Both ran back to where the van had been left knowing that the humans should be near it.

 

 

The teens made it back to the van, and Whirl went over first to unlock it, and then turned it on so the back seat would unlock too. Everyone was chatting, laughing and overall feeling good. The sky was slowly becoming brighter. The clock on the dash read 5:30 a.m.. Cora grabbed her bag, and Talia and Cyrus were in the middle of trading coats as they headed back, now sporting their leftover drinks. But then, from the darkness, came a shout:

“Don’t you- you fucking move!” Wilson was standing there, holding a- jesus christ-!

“Holy shit!!” Talia dropped her drink as she shrieked. Whirl dropped his too.

“You- you fucking- you did something messed up! I know you did! You freaks tried to kill us yeah?! Yeah?!?”

“Wilson, e-easy! We d-!” Cora had the gun trained on her next!

“SHUT THE FUCK UP! YOU- YOU BROUGHT THAT THING TO THE PARTY AND TRIED TO HAVE IT KILL US! I FOLLOWED YOU HERE, I SAW YOU WITH THOSE MONSTERS!!”

“No! No whoa- hey-!”

“Wilson stop it!” Stephen shouted, drawing his attention. The situation was escalating rapidly. Cora didn’t know what to do! “They had nothing to do with this! I did! Leave them alone!”

“Stephen don’t be a fucking hero man!” Whirl yelled.

“SHUT! UP!” He fired a shot in the air! The teenagers screamed and cowered, huddling together. “You think you can make this all go away. You think so Stephen?! Get your friends to help you take care ‘a me an’ then you’ll stop being such a fucking cry baby?! You chickened out, like you always do! Ha, hahaaha! You chickened out and it’ll be your last fucking mistake!!!”

Stephen’s eyes widened even more, and Cora’s narrowed. “Wilson-!”

Another shot. It whizzed by their heads this time! They screamed and Cora knew that there was no way in Hell that they were getting out of this uninjured. She gripped the cane. She had a weapon. She could stop this! It was him or them! So, as Wilson glanced down and reloaded, Cora put weight on her good leg and lunged!

“CORRAAAA!!!”

 

 

“KIDS?!” Alastor and Angel barrelled out to where the van was parked, headlights illuminating the ground and nearly blinding. “CORA?! TALIA?! WHIRL, STEPHEN, CYRUS?!?” Angel called out their names in rapid fire.

Alastor smelled the blood before he saw it, his grin pulling wider. All human blood smelled the same to him though, so he wasn't sure right away to be worried or proud yet. A body was laying on where the dirt road ended and the grass began. There was a lot of wailing going on, hyperventilating, and then finally-

“ALASTOR!” Cora was the first to finally notice them. “Alastor ohmigod- we- he had a gun! He had a gun!!!” Was all she could say at first. She was holding the cane, tightly. It, and her hands were smeared in blood and brain matter. So were the branches and rocks the other five were holding. “I just swung it! I- I’m so sorry I just swung it- and he went down but started screaming and lifting the gun and we just- we- we-”

“We didn’t mean to…!” Talia sobbed. “We didn’t mean to!”

Whirl had a thousand yard stare on his face. Stephen had doubled over and was throwing up his food nearby. Cyrus had pulled a shriek-crying Talia into his chest and was holding her extremely tightly. Alastor assessed the damage, almost giddy before Angel nudged him and minutely shook his head. Time and place. Alastor sobered.

“We’re dead.” Stephen choked out, gulping in air. “We’re dead we’re dead we’re fucking dead-!!!”

"No, you're all still alive!" Alastor said cheerfully and stepped forward to kick the body. He snickered as he actually could kick it. "This one is definitely dead, though."

Talia let out a wail.

“Alastor we’re all going to fucking jail! Nobody’s gonna believe us! We all- we’re all- this wasn’t supposed to happen…!” Cora choked out. “Fuck! We can’t hide the body! We can’t hide the car!!! We have- we don’t have anything or anywhere-!”

"No need to hide anything!" Alastor said, not at all worried. "I'm still famished, I admit."

"Babe, you horked like fifty tacos." Angel snorted.

“Fam- oh my god-” Cora made the connection immediately. “Alastor-!”

"Its either Al or findin' a gator. He’s gettin' eaten either way." Angel said dryly, used to this sort of thing by now.

They all shared a look. “... it’s too late.” Stephen finally spoke, voice raspy as he staggered over. “Listen he- it would have been us! We couldn’t have done anything differently. He followed us, he brought the gun, he said he was gonna kill us! We had to!”

"You ain't gotta justify shit." Angel assured. "Just doin' what you had to do."

“... Do it Alastor.” Cora croaked, looking up at the Loa.

Alastor was already shifting. There would be less mess with one bite and even he could understand that the kids had seen enough carnage tonight already. Angel wisely gestured to the kids that they might want to look away.

“Come- come on guys. We need to- we should go, get the altar ready.” They all entered the woods, no one looking back after hearing a single, sickening ‘crunch’. Following shortly after was the creaking rip of metal as Alastor made quick work of demolishing the car and shoving the pieces away under the brush. Dawn would be coming soon.

 

 

Everything was ready when Angel and Alastor arrived. The five teens’ eyes were bloodshot, and they all looked exhausted and sick. “We’re really gonna go to hell now, huh?” Whirl tried to grin a bit. Talia began to cry again. Cyrus shot Whirl a look that could kill.

"Yeah, probably." Angel confirmed. "But murder aside, this was fun!"

"You ought to summon us again next year!" Alastor suggested. "I'll be sure to have Angel nearby and pull him along again too."

Everyone shared a look. “No.” Was what Talia croaked out. “Not if it ends up like this.”

"Fair enough." Alastor shrugged.

"Ain't gotta crash a party." Angel pointed out, but he let it go as well. At least they got one night out of Hell. That was more than most Sinners got. Still he outstretched all four arms. "Last call for fluffy hugs in that case. Better than therapy. Cheaper too."

Everyone eyed each other. It was Whirl who went in for one. Cora stayed back, still clearly shell shocked. Then, she sighed when Whirl pulled away and decided ‘fuck it’, letting herself be hugged. Stephen too. Then Talia and Cyrus. Cora was the first who spoke; “the deal’s conclusion has been reached: for a night to freely roam without harming the living, you Alastor and your companion have helped us within reason, completing your end of the deal. We brought you back here to the altar before dawn’s light on the morning of November the first and I am sending you back from where you came. Our end of the deal is met.”

"Right hand." Alastor reminded, outstretching his own as he prepared to be dismissed with Angel clinging to his coat.

She held it out, taking it, “I’ll call you if I need you,” and shook it. There was a flash of green erupting around them as the first sunlight’s rays emerged on November 1st. They vanished, in a dazzle of symbols and light.

 

 

Every year on Halloween Angel had taken to clinging to Alastor's arm, just in case. The first few times left Angel disappointed. Even so he was always hopeful again by the next year.

"They don't want to see us again." Alastor tutted, knowing perfectly well why.

"They might!" Angel protested. "If they do I ain't lettin' you have all the fun without me."

A beat. And then, the flash of red! The shadows built, covered and then retracted, like they had a few years prior. And there they were: Cora, Stephen, Talia, Cyrus and Whirl. But things were different. They were older now; Cora was wearing different glasses, Stephen had grown his dark hair out a bit, Talia and Cyrus were wearing wedding bands and Talia was clearly pregnant. Whirl had a goatee and was clearly wearing a push up bra.

‘Monster Mash’ was playing on a stereo next to the altar. “Happy Halloween!” Cora sang in a singsong. “I brought coffee.”

“Miss Barista over here got a fancy espresso machine with the proceeds from her bestseller.” Whirl snorted, swinging back his beer.

“Hey, and you actually read the thing Mr. I-Hate-Reading!” She teased her friend.

"Bestseller? I'll need to have a copy in that case." Alastor said, doing his best not to show how excited he was to see her; to see all of them.

Angel was nowhere near as composed, eyes locking onto the clear pregnancy and becoming easily teary over the not-yet-baby.

She smiled and pulled out of her old backpack, a copy of a hardcover; ’The Radio Man’. “You’re right, therapy wasn’t cheap. But, hey writing helped!” She laughed, though it sounded a tad forced.

“And we, well, we met up a lot and talked things over and through. Everyone was sorta traumatized after that night so the school ramped up the councillors. Media chalked everything up to a gas leak or something.” Stephen shrugged. He was holding Cora’s hand. “Easy enough to get help without actually having to divulge, well, the ‘incident’.”

"Gas leak… Honestly is no one creative anymore?" Alastor huffed, then laughed. "Well I suppose you are." He winked at Cora, who scoffed and shook her head. She kept her smile though.

"Can I touch your tummy?" Angel asked Talia, still fixated on the woman.

She nodded and let Angel get in close as he stooped down. “It’s gonna be a girl! I’m naming her Genevieve. But, well, her middle name we thought-”

“Angela was nice.” Cyrus finished.

"Oh fuck off." Angel sniffled as he laid a gentle hand on Talia's distended stomach, not actually upset but too happy to process being nice. He meant well and it was obvious.

“Listen we woulda summoned you guys sooner but, shit happened. We graduated and then life happened. We couldn’t get away until now to do the ritual.” Whirl shrugged. “I got my bike and work,”

“I’m going on another book tour,” Cora glanced up to Stephen.

“I’ve been working on becoming a councillor,”

Talia piped up, patting Angel's hand; “I’m doing my last year of my major and also working at my company, and Cyrus?”

“My shop is doing well. Haven't gotten away.”

“So yeah overall, we’ve all been kinda busy. C’est la Vie, ya know?” Whirl shrugged. “And that’s all I remember from French class, sue me.”

"Life does have a way of happening." Alastor agreed. "Death is much more routine. I'm still working radio."

"I'm still workin' cock." Angel grinned, wiping his eyes as he finally calmed.

“Jeeeeesus you have not changed!” Cora slapped her palm into her forehead. “I should have just went with my earlier idea and made you a prostitute, not a detective.”

"I could be a private investigator and a, heh, private investigator." Angel joked. "Why not do both?"

"I want a divorce." Alastor deadpanned, though not serious.

“Hehe, lord knows there are many crooks and crannies to explore!” Whirl added, snickering.

"Shame on both of you." Alastor replied dryly.

“Oh my god please stop. I’ll send you with them!” She shot a look at Whirl.

“Try me. We’re already going there!”

An awkward, tense beat. “Anyways. Coffee,” she handed them both a travel mug with a picture of a toothy radio on it; “the movie is gonna freaking suck by the way.”

"You ain't gettin' that back." Angel whispered to her as he watched Alastor delightedly inspect the picture.

“I know. Call it a gift for not betraying and fucking with five dumbass teens looking for vengeance three Halloween nights ago.” She shrugged. “The book is to keep too. Although, it’s probably gonna be next to nothing to what you guys have seen.”

Alastor's grin widened after he took a sip from the cup. He looked at the altar, noting that the offerings were the same as last time.

"You know, for me, you only need the veve, something red, and an antler. Ruined rum is purely my father's drink of choice. I prefer courvoisier. Coffee is also good though!" He stated, puting the cup down to pick up the bottle. "But I suppose since it's here, why waste it?" They watched as he poured them glasses, all save for Talia, who stuck to her decaf coffee.

"Wonder what you'd need to summon me?" Angel wondered aloud, taking the glass handed to him.

"You don't have a veve so I'm not sure but something pink, maybe silk… A molted skin from a spider. You aren't anything like a Loa so I'm not sure." Alastor mused. "Old belongings maybe?"

“As if we’d be that cruel. We’d do something like a silk ribbon or robe!” Talia said.

“So, shall we toast?” Cora asked, lifting her glass. “To friends on the other side!”

“Friends on the other side!” Everyone swung back the rum (forgetting that there was gunpowder in it) and proceeded to spit it out and gag.

Alastor laughed, having tossed back his with no trouble. Angel wheezed, regretting drinking it even when he knew from last time that it was some sort of rancid.

"Just cuz you can eat anything…" Angel huffed at him.

"Don't you always brag that you don't have a gag reflex?" Alastor teased.

"Motherfucker I will chuck on your shoes." Angel threatened.

Other than that, the night went with little hitch. They listened to an assortment of music, talked about life, the changing world and Hell itself. They discussed plans, hopes and dreams for the future. But one by one, as the night waned, they left. Talia was feeling morning sickness and, not wanting to vomit anywhere near Alastor or Angel, chose to leave. She bid them a happy farewell and promised to bring baby photos next Halloween, hugging Angel before leaving. Whirl was the next to leave, but it was closer to the final hour. He said his goodbyes and headed for his harley. Stephen chose to go wait in the car as dawn’s light began to break across the sky.

“... Alastor? I have a question. Before you and Angel go.”

"I may have an answer." Alastor allowed.

“Hell, is a punishment for us, yeah? We’re going after what we did to Wilson.” It was apparent that it still weighed heavy on them all. “None of the others will say it, and we know it’s not our faults but- it’s, still- we’re afraid of what’s to come and where we’re going. Would- when, we all get down there, if we find you, can you help us settle in?”

"If we find each other." Alastor answered. "Not hard to find either of us, honestly. Angel and I are a bit famous in our own right and you know what we look like."

"No clue what all of you guys'll look like, though." Angel pointed out. "Gonna have to let us know it's you."

Noticing Cora seemed to have a bit of hesitation, Alastor turned to Angel. "Why don't you take a walk, darling?"

Angel caught it as a request for a little extra privacy and shrugged. "Yeah I'm gonna see if I can carve somethin' in a tree." He chuckled, taking off.

Cora sighed and looked back up at Alastor when Angel was gone. “You never elaborated what the, pun nonintended, hell you deal with downstairs.”

"It's personal and rude to ask. At least by Hell's culture." Alastor said. "But we aren't in Hell right now."

“No, you’re not.” She nodded, exhaling.

"I killed people. Often. And usually ate them." Alastor stated. "There was a bit of a blunder. When I died Hell wasn't sure if I belonged in the Gluttony Circle or Wrath, so I wound up in Wrath but with Glutton's hunger. I can eat all I like, but I never stop starving." He explained. "Now, you haven't eaten anyone, I assume. But, you did kill. That will have it's toll. What that will be I can't tell you, but it is very hard to ignore the curses Hell gives Sinners." Alastor sighed, looking to the space Angel had gone before turning back to Cora. "The best you can do is find good distractions. Luckily there is always a party somewhere, hm?"

She nodded. “... as, long as you’re down there, the afterlife won’t be that bad. You murdered people. I murdered someone. I crossed a line and I can’t go back. And it’s- god. I still have nightmares. Just, holding your cane and beating him and the static and-... you… that thing was, laughing...” She exhaled long and hard and took off her glasses, rubbing between her eyes. “But what’s done is done. I made a choice to summon you and do something stupid because I was angry. My friends went along with it because they were angry too. We wanted to hurt people. Guess we deserve our fate.”

"I will keep an eye out for new arrivals to the Wrath Circle." Alastor promised.

“... Make a deal with me, please Alastor.” Cora stretched out her right arm; “when my time comes, you’ll be there and you’ll take me down with you. I wanna know if I’m going there for sure.”

"It would be an honor to escort you down, my friend." Alastor said, somber and sincere, shaking her hand. When he let go, his tone shifted. "I am very interested in your descent and what forms you and your friends may take. Any ideas?" He tried making light of it.

“Whirl will probably get the short end of the short stick. Literally, because he wants to be in Hell and wants to be tall. Irony’s fun.” She grinned and chuckled as the darkness began to fade. “Talia loves animals so she could be anything. Cyrus, maybe something skeletal. Stephen- mm. I think horns would look nice on him.”

"You should tell him you think he looks nice." Alastor suggested. "Could be the start of a good distraction there. May as well prepare early since you know you're damned already."

She smiled. “I’m not letting him go. You know, if there was a silver lining to that night, we sent a rapist down to hell and I ended up with the love of my life.”

"You may be happy to know the rapist died twice." Alastor reported. "Angel has no tolerance to that sort of thing and has family with access to very special bullets."

“I owe him one. Probably I’ll give you guys a copy of that dumbass movie Blumhouse is making about my book. You two can laugh at it.” The sun’s rays were peeking through. “Angel better hurry the fuck up or he can stay and watch it himself in theatres!”

"I'm carvin' dicks on trees!" Angel called back.

"Stop doing that!" Alastor called back.

"I'm a man. I gotta."

"You're a mess is what you are!" Alastor laughed as he saw Angel come trudging back.

"Scuffin' the shit outta my boots…" He complained, tucking his switchblade away. "So what'cha talkin' about?"

"Just telling Cora that you're a spider because you were arachnophobic."

"That is not even close to true." Angel corrected. "Quit tellin' people that."

"He became a porn actor to become more comfortable with his body." Alastor continued.

"That's only even half true. Cora he's bullying me!" Angel whined dramatically and moved to hide behind her.

She giggled. “Come on you two, sun’s coming up! I have to send you back, we made a deal!”

"Yeah, don't wanna fizzle out or whatever happens." Angel sighed.

"That's vampires." Alastor said as Angel moved to grab onto his coat. "...Hands off tail, dear." He scoffed a moment later, Angel giggling.

“Wait, you have a-? Never mind!” She noticed the sun. Cora stuck out her right hand; “The deal’s conditions have been met: a night to freely roam without harming the living, a-”

"The verbal formalities aren't necessary, you know. I just let you do it because it's funny." Alastor snickered. "You're trying so hard it's adorable."

“Oh for fuck’s sake you troll.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Anyways. Deal’s done. See you next Halloween?”

"As soon as the sun sets!" Alastor agreed, taking her hand.

“As soon as the sun sets.” They shook, the sun’s light bathing Alastor’s hand as there was a flash of green. Cora stood, alone, before the altar, hair ruffling in the air disturbance. “See you later guys.”