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Head's in Heaven, Soles're in Hell

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Fandom: Bandom (Bob Bryar, Patrick Stump, Brian Schechter, with Pete Wentz, PatD, TYV, and CS)
Pairing: Patrick/Brian, Bob/Brian, Brian/Patrick/Bob
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 14,000 words
Spoilers: n/a
Warnings: crack, clichés, consensual infidelity, a bit of gore, and major character death that doesn't stick In fact, everyone in this story is dead.
Author's Note: For the Bob Bryar Thing-a-Thon challenge. Prompt by Mahoni, found here. I restrained myself from titling this Also Evil, Also Into Cats. :D The title I did use is from the correct lyrics in the FOB song: "w. a. m. s." I took a lot of mythos from Christianity, Dead Like Me, Good Omens, and various urban legends and mashed them together. This fic would never have been possible without Saekokato. ♥, love! (Also, this totally counts for my "afterlife" square for my AU Bingo.)
Disclaimer: Everyone here belongs to themselves or Pete Wentz.
Summary: Bob dies, and that's when all of his problems start.

:: :: ::

Head's in Heaven, Soles're in Hell

:: :: ::

The walls are a sickly yellow color, and the room stretches on forever. Chairs line the walls, and they're all filled with people, who look less than thrilled to be there.

Bob's head is hurting and fuzzy, like he has the worst hangover in the history of hangovers, but he doesn't remember drinking any booze recently. He's sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair that's a hideous puke green. He assumes that it's supposed to match the paint on the walls. He shifts to adjust his ass, because the chair is ridiculously uncomfortable. It was probably designed by sadists and probably for high school students.

Bob also has crusties around his eyes, like when he wakes up in the morning – especially during allergy season, and it's difficult to pry and keep his eyes open. The yellow wall paint and green chairs don't help matters.

His hand is wrapped around a piece of paper. He scrapes at his eyes to clear them and reads what's written on the paper: 29,858.

Bob frowns at it for a moment before he examines his surroundings more carefully. Hanging from the ceiling is a huge neon sign, like the ones in the windows of bars everywhere, displaying the number 19,001.

He squints at the sign as it slowly changes to 19,002, and Bob has no fucking clue what the hell is going on with his life. Neon signs do not change their shape. He keeps watching the sign. In fact, he's pretty sure he's gawking at it.

The number slowly changes to 19,003 after what feels like an eternity.

Bob leans back in his chair, letting the back of his skull connect with the wall. The only thing it does is make his head hurt more.

With his head against the wall, Bob takes survey of the other people in the room. He's surrounded by some pretty sketchy people. Okay, that's a lie. Most of them look like soccer moms and dads in business suits. There are also a few punk kids, but something makes Bob think they're sketchy people. Like the soccer mom next door has a freezer full of butchered stray cats. And the dads in suits have embezzled enough money to buy their own Caribbean island.

As Bob looks from one person to the next, he sees wisps of something dark out of the corner of his eye, but whenever he tries to look at the wisps directly, they disappear.

Something sick settles in Bob's gut. He's sitting in a waiting room with people he doesn't know and a number that's more than ten thousand away from answering the ten thousand questions he has about what the fuck is going on. He's maybe freaking out a little.

His eyes immediately drop to his shoes, and he refuses to look at anyone. He most definitely refuses to make eye contact with anyone. He decides to categorize every scuff on his shoe based on the object that created it, how long it had been there, color, and size.

It's a good plan, except there's a puddle of something disturbingly like blood under the chair of the kid sitting next to him. It forms a square puddle.

Bob's eyebrows set into a frown, and he looks up at the kid.

The kid gives Bob a twisted smirk that does nothing to ease the sick feeling in Bob's stomach. "What, fucker? Haven't you ever seen a dead kid before?"

Bob quickly looks the kid up and down. He has an open slash down the front of his face, right along the crease of his nose, and there's another, longer gash across the kid's stomach, directly under the rib cage. Bob can see the white of several ribs, and there are many pinkish bulbous things that are probably organs, and Bob does not want to think about that.

"The fuck?" Bob mutters.

The kid shrugs. "The little bitch actually got a lucky shot in. Now I'm stuck here waiting for my fucking number to be called."

Bob blinks, and the kid laughs. The laugh sounds evil. Not evil like "I'll get you, my pretty!" but evil that makes people want to sleep with a light on. It sends a shiver up Bob's spine, but Bob covers it up. Working the club scene meant never showing weakness, something Bob had figured out back when he was the chubby drum kid being picked on all the time.

Bob looks away and doesn't look back at the kid and his gaping stomach wound.

He makes the mistake of looking closer at the rest of the other people. Most of the people around him have some horrible wound, and the ones that don't look too pale to be healthy.

This is like no ER Bob's ever been in.

Something nasty clicks in Bob's head. It's not the ER. There's no way the kid would be so calm with his guts falling out. He'd be unconscious and wheeled into the OR on a stretcher.

No, this isn't the ER.

Bob's fucking dead.

He swallows hard and forces himself to look down at his shoes again. He takes deep, even breathes, and if he really needs to, he could stick his head between his knees. Except he won't. There's no fucking way he's going to faint, not after the indignity of being dead first.

He's supposed to be at his aunt's birthday party tonight. If it's still tonight. He'd been trying to think up a decent excuse for weeks to decline the invitation. Ironically, he finally has a decent excuse not to go.

:: :: ::

Bob has no idea how long he's been sitting. His ass is numb, and he's fallen asleep twice – once between 21,998 and 25,343 and again between 27, 949 and 29, 123. The parts of his body that aren't numb ache. It's a deep ache, too.

The kid with his guts hanging out is gone and with him the blood. He was replaced by a girl who would be hot if there were meat on her bones.

Bob's stuck to keeping his gaze down except to check the counter. He's thinking about the girl's shoes. They're stripper heels with blood red, lacy straps winding up her leg.

The paper in his hand flashes really damn hot, and he releases a string of creative obscenities as he drops the paper to the floor.

He inspects his hand, which is totally fucking burned. As he watches, the burn fades back to skin again before the ash of the paper hits the floor.

The neon sign displays the number 29,858. Bob will never forget that number. He's looked at it close to a trillion times in the past eternity and a half.

He quickly stands up, and his limbs all protest the movement. He heads to the door that just appeared at the end of the aisle. He goes as quickly as he can, but none of his body parts seem to want to respond to his brain.

He tries to step it up. He'd seen what had happened to 26, 457 when she was too slow to make it through the door, and Bob isn't all that interested in finding out what it'd feel like to be a human-shaped piece of charcoal.

He manages to hop through the doorway just before it disappears again. Only just, because the back of his left leg is completely fucking burned. And, Christ, Bob can smell his own charred skin.

Bob curses as he surveys the damage on his leg, but the charred skin quickly fades away into unblemished skin. Too bad Bob's pants don't do the same.

He looks away from his leg and examines his surroundings. He's in an office. The walls are a deep violet, and the desk is a deep mahogany.

The man sitting behind the desk has a crooked grin and his feet propped on top of the desk.

The name plate reads, "Gabriel Saporta."

"Sit down, Robert Bryar," Saporta says. His grin doesn't flag at all.

Bob narrows his eyes suspiciously, but he's overcome with the urge to sit. At least this chair is a hell of a lot more comfortable than the last one.

"You've been Naughty, Mr. Bryar," Saporta says. He's still grinning, and Bob is struck by the thought that he's probably always grinning. It's pretty fucking creepy.

"Not to my knowledge," Bob says. "Santa always brought me presents."

Saporta laughs heartily. Bob's almost relieved that it doesn't sound as evil as the kid's had. The laugh is still pretty fucking evil, though.

"I like a man with cajones," Saporta says. "And you won't be a fucking douchebag about it. Plus, you're intact." He pauses before he says, "You strike me as a man who does whatever the fuck he wants."

Bob raises his eyebrows. "I'm not going to my aunt's birthday party tonight if that's what you mean."

Saporta laughs again. "I like you, kid."

Saporta drops his legs down from the desks and furiously writes something down on a piece of paper before he hands it to Bob.

Bob would love to protest or ask what the hell is going on, especially because there's nothing written on the piece of paper. It's blank. But Saporta is rounding his desk and throwing Bob out the way he came.

Except Bob doesn't end up back in the waiting room. He's in another waiting room. This one looks pretty normal to him; even though, there are no other people waiting. There's even a coffee table with magazines on it.

He walks up to the kid sitting behind a counter and hands him the piece of paper Saporta gave him. The kid looks like a scene kid, with floppy hair in his face and a nose ring. Bob prepares himself for an attitude.

"Take a seat," the kid says. There's absolutely no attitude there, and Bob's a little surprised.

Bob takes a seat and grabs a magazine from the coffee table. He flips it open to a random page and begins to read.

Bob makes it as far as something he'd rather not think about ever again that involves a cat, a razor, and a bathtub full of ice before he throws the magazine back on the table.

The cover mocks him. The title of the magazine is Incubus. He should have read it before he started to read. He also should have thought everything through. With the day he's having, he should have known it wouldn't have been Men's Health.

Luckily, the kid calls out Bob's name, and Bob follows the kid through the same door Bob had entered through.

It leads to another office. This one is a deep forest green, and there's a woman behind the desk. According to the name plaque, her name is Victoria Asher.

"Welcome, Robert Bryar," she says sweetly. He voice is sweet enough for Bob to suspect that the woman really isn't sweet at all, and she's waiting for the right moment to shank Bob in a lung. "I'm here to give you your assignment."

Bob doubts she's going to say anything useful, like explaining what the fuck is going on. He's sick of being confused, and the sickness in his gut has only grown in size.

"What's my assignment?" Bob finds himself asking. Even though, he didn't form the words himself. It's weird. He didn't think those words, yet they came from his mouth.

"I'm so glad you asked!" Asher says. Her tone is still sweet, and it creeps Bob out more than Saporta's grin. "You're my new intern!"

"And what exactly do you do?" Bob asks. This time those are his words.

"I'm a femme fatal," she says. She gives Bob a saccharine smile.

Bob finds himself taking a step back. "You don't expect me to be a…"

"Oh, no," Asher says, deeply concerned. Or feigning deep concern. Bob really can't tell. "You're going back to Earth to wreck havoc. I have a laundry list of havoc for you to wreck! Saporta's been on my back about it for the past three hundred years. I'm glad he finally gave me an intern."

"Uh," Bob says.

"Don't worry, Nate will help you out with the basics," she says. "Nate! It's time to train Robert Bryar!"

"It's Bob," Bob says automatically.

The kid from before sticks his head through the doorway. "Yeah, Victoria?"

"Bob needs to be trained," she announces.

The kid looks Bob up and down. "Sure."

:: :: ::

Bob isn't sure of half of the things that Nate told him, most of which included fire and pain.

But then Asher breezes into the room and says, "Have you told him about knifes?"

Nate shakes his head.

Asher sighs. "Nate's a pyro," she explains.

She grabs Bob by the arm. Her long fingernails cut into Bob's skin painfully. She drags him back into her office. Except it's not her office anymore. It's an apartment. It's a fully furnished, very modern apartment. Everything is black and white and stainless steel. Something about it doesn't seem as surreal as everything else. It seems solid, real. But it doesn't feel like a place that should be lived in.

"This is yours," Asher says. "On the fridge you'll find the list of things you need to do that week. Do those and we'll take care of your expenses."

"Like food?" Bob asks, realizing he hasn't eaten in a very long time.

"Exactly," Asher says. "Your wallet's on the kitchen counter. Your keys are next to it. The only rule? Stay the hell away from your former life. No contacting friends, family, anyone. You're dead to them. And don't tell anyone you're dead, either. You cannot believe the amount of paperwork you'll have to fill out if an encounter occurs. Plus, you'll lose this cushy job and have to work down in the Pit."

Bob frowns. It's bad enough he's dead, but not being able to see his friends or family again? That's a kick in the balls. Also, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out what Asher means by "Pit."

Asher gives Bob a satisfactory nod and heads out the front door. Bob doesn't even have to look to know that she's not in the hallway.

Bob doesn't know where to start. His new apartment is Spartan. There are three rooms, so Bob starts with what's closest: the living room. There's a black, leather couch looking out over a huge window. The skyline is unmistakable. He's staring directly at the fucking Chrysler Building.

Bob is pretty sure he died in Chicago. He's really fuzzy on the details, and frankly, he really, really doesn't want to remember. Being dead and not able to see his mother or friends is traumatic enough, thank you very fucking much.

The next room is the kitchen. There's a piece of paper on the refrigerator. Bob doesn't want to look at it. Not just yet.

The last room is the bedroom with adjacent bath. There's nothing on the sterile, white walls. In fact, the only items in the room are the king-sized bed with black bedclothes and what look to be satin sheets, a medium-sized, empty black dresser, a black lamp with a white shade on the bedside table, and a small digital clock with bright red numbers sitting next to the lamp.

He didn't see a computer anywhere, so he adds it to his mental shopping list, right after buy a shopping list and buy clothing.

Bob takes a deep breath and holds it for a moment before he releases it. He's exhausted. He's beyond exhausted. He wants nothing more than to crawl into the bed and pass out for the next century. Except the clock says that it's 10:04 a.m. If he wants to eat ever, he needs to do whatever is on the list on the refrigerator.

He wanders back to the kitchen and has time to read the first part of the sentence before someone knocks on his door. The first part of the note says, Make someone take the blame.

He doubts the person at the door is Asher. She probably wouldn't knock.

Bob wants to look out the peephole to see who the hell would knock on his door, especially when he's been in the apartment for all of ten minutes, but there's no peephole, forcing Bob to open the door to see who it is.

It's a short dude wearing a fedora. He has very blue, earnest eyes.

Bob stares at him a moment before saying, "Hi?"

"Hey," the dude says. "I'm Patrick from next door. I saw you move in and wanted to welcome you."

"Thanks," Bob says. He's still a bit skeptical. He never moved in. There were no boxes. There is nothing in the apartment that makes it look lived in. There aren't even clothes. If Bob were to guess, he'd also say that the refrigerator is empty.

"Are you new to the city?" Patrick asks. He seems nice enough. Just a polite neighbor, for which Bob is extremely grateful.

"Yeah," Bob says. "I'm originally from Chicago."

Patrick smiles up at him. "Me, too." The smile wilts a bit as Patrick studies Bob's face.

"Cool," Bob says.

"I need to head out to work," Patrick says, "but I'll probably see you around."

"Sure," Bob says. "Nice to meet you."

Patrick flashes Bob another smile (it looks forced) and heads off down the hall.

Bob shrugs to himself and heads back into his apartment to read the paper on the refrigerator door. It says exactly what Bob thought it would: Bob has to make someone take the blame for another person's crime.

Bob wants to lodge a complaint about his placement, but he doesn't know who to complain to. Instead, Bob grabs the keys and wallet. The keys go into Bob's pocket, and he leafs through the wallet. There's fifty bucks in cash, two credit cards, an ATM card for Bank of America, and a frequent sub sandwich card at some deli that Bob's doesn't know. Everything is in Bob's name.

Bob shoves the wallet into a pocket.

:: :: ::

The doorman gives Bob a nod as he leaves. Bob almost asks him what a dead guy's to do in New York, but he refrains from doing so. Bob's sure that could only end in paperwork. He never thought being dead would have so much bureaucracy to it.

Bob takes note of where his apartment building is and heads off down the avenue.

The first store Bob comes across is a department store. He ends up buying socks, boxers, jeans, a couple hoodies, and several black t-shirts. One moron pointed out that Bob's pants were ripped. Bob had said that was why he was buying pants. As an after thought, he grabs a plateware set, glasses, and a silverware set, because he doubts that Asher took care of that, either.

With his arms full of bags, he returns to his apartment. The doorman gives him a strange look that's all raised eyebrows but says nothing, even when Bob comes back downstairs again.

"Um," Bob says.

The doorman looks at him expectantly.

"I'm new," Bob says. "Where's the nearest grocery store?"

The doorman gives Bob a contemplative look. "You a hippy, organic type or do you not care where your food comes from?"

"As long as there're no cockroaches in it, I'm good," Bob says. "I'm Bob," he adds, realizing that he hadn't introduced himself, and his Momma raised him better than that.

"Brian," the doorman says. "I have the day shift."

There's something off about Brian, and Bob can't put his finger on it. He seems like he's somehow out of place. Bob's eyes keep bouncing down to Brian's neck tattoo and back up to his face.

"What brings you to New York?" Brian asks. It sounds like a lazy drawl, but there's an odd undertone to it that suggests Brian's really curious and trying to hide it.

"Haven't a clue," Bob says honestly. "A new start, I suppose."

"Yeah," Brian says. "I know the feeling. Look, for the nearest grocery, head left for two blocks than down the avenue for another block. For the best grocery, go right four blocks."

"Thanks, man," Bob says and heads out.

:: :: ::

When Bob returns with a new laptop and groceries, there's a person in his apartment. He's sprawled along the couch, all long legs and elbows.

Bob's not even surprised. "Why didn't Asher come herself?"

The man looks up. "She's busy."

"And Nate?" Bob prompts.

"He's busy, too," the man says with a wave of his hand. "I'm Ryland, your babysitter."

Bob crosses his arms over his chest and looks as unimpressed as he can.

"I'm your case manager," Ryland says.

"I've only been here a couple of hours," Bob points out. "But if you're the person I complain to, I'll be glad to."

"You can complain to me, but I'm not going to do anything about it," Ryland explains. "Especially if it's about your placement."

"Why are you here?" Bob asks.

"I was wondering why you haven't started on the list Victoria gave you," Ryland says. "Victoria's wondering the same thing. You've had more than enough time. You've met hundreds of people and have conversations with at least six of them."

"I doubt the cashiers count," Bob snorts. He's majorly crept out by the idea that Ryland's been watching him go about his day.

"They do," Ryland says. "But you should probably keep your sights set on your building. Easier access and all."

"Is that why I was sent, you know?" Bob asks, because he has to know.

Ryland tips his head back and laughs. "God doesn't give a shit who you boff. It's all about who you are inside."

"Oh," Bob says faintly.

"Look," Ryland says. "You're new to this game, which is why Victoria started you off easy, so I'll throw you a bone." He gracefully picks himself up off Bob's couch and strides out the door.

Bob stares at the door until there's the knock he knew was coming but didn't want to think about.

There can only be one of two people on the other side of the door. Or both of them, but Bob doesn't want it to be either. He wants a moment to himself to sulk. He never had a chance to sulk and think about his death – or his life. He feels that he needs to be alone, feel sorry for himself, freak out, then get the hell over it, and move on with his unlife. This continuous stream of people is not copasetic with Bob's plans.

The person knocks again.

Bob sighs and opens the door to see Patrick standing on the other side looking mildly concerned.

"May I come in?" he asks.

Bob steps aside and lets Patrick into his apartment.

Patrick sits down on the couch, looking a lot more compact than Ryland had. He wrinkles his nose. Which. Is kinda cute.

"Do you have a cat?" he asks.

"No," Bob says with a shake of his head. "Are they even allowed in the building? Are you allergic or something?"

"Yeah, on both accounts," Patrick says. "They're evil creatures; you don't want one anyway."

Bob frowns slightly.

"Your friend said you wanted to talk to me?" Patrick presses.

"Uh," Bob says, cursing Ryland before he remembers that Ryland's very dead and probably very evil. "Internet," he blurts. "I was wondering about a wireless internet connection for the apartment."

"Oh," Patrick says. "You're going to have to talk to the super about that."

"Okay," Bob says. "Thanks."

"That's all?" Patrick asks, skeptical. "Do you need help unpacking or something?"

"No, I'm good," Bob says. "Thanks, though."

Patrick gives him an odd look, but he lets Bob be.

:: :: ::

Bob has nothing to do with his time, so he wanders the streets, trying to familiarize himself with the city. He wanders, but he keeps his eyes open for crimes being committed, like he's some sort of freaky vigilante. If Ryland is keeping check on him, Bob might as well show a little pretense.

He ends up on a bench in Times Square, watching people bustle by. Everyone is in such a hurry. They have so much to do and not enough time to fit it all into their day. Bob remembers being like that, especially in college. The only reward he had for his efforts is that he's now an intern for a demon and asked to Do Evil Things in her name. Or Saporta's name. Bob's not too clear who he's doing this for, but it certainly isn't for himself.

And he doesn't want to know what the consequences are if he doesn't. Obviously the Pit. And a whole bunch of paperwork. But it's everything that goes with those. It's not something he's interested in finding out.

"Stop!" Bob hears as a man races passed him. Bob instinctively stretches out his legs and the man falls onto his face, taking out a second man. The purse he has in his hands flies out and ends up in front of another man.

The first man pushes himself up off the concrete and races off. The second man looks down at his twisted legs and picks up the purse. In the corner of his vision, Bob can see black vapors around the second man. Bob's only seen those once before, but he's pretty sure he knows what those mean.

A middle-aged woman rounds the corner and shrieks, "That's the man who stole my purse!" She points at the second man. The first man is long gone.

There's a mounted cop behind her. The cop dismounts and grabs the second man, who's looking on in shock.

"Is this the man you saw running away?" the cop asks Bob.

"Yeah," Bob lies. There. Job done.

The cop cuffs the second man, which Bob thinks is a bit harsh for a purse-snatcher, and over her radio says, "Bring the FBI down to 42nd. I've got someone who might interest them."

She then cuffs the man to the bench next to Bob.

"Excuse me," she says to Bob. "And thank you for apprehending a dangerous fugitive."

Bob frowns at her in confusion, but he stands up and says, "You're welcome."

The cop hands the woman back her purse. "I'm going to need both of you to head down to the station with me to fill out some paperwork."

Bob keeps his groan internalized. It's like he can't escape paperwork.

:: :: ::

Luckily, the station is two blocks away. The paperwork is painless. It just is a statement saying that he witnessed the theft and tripped the man. Which is a total lie, and Bob's not even sure how the legal system will react to having a dead man signing legal documents. He figures that someone Below will take care of that.

Not so luckily, Ryland is waiting for him when he returns to his apartment.

"What now?" Bob asks. "I did what Asher wanted."

Ryland looks horribly put upon. "You assisted the FBI with the capture of a dangerous fugitive. He slaughtered a bus full of kindergarteners in the Midwest. He wasn't an innocent."

"It was never specified that it needed to be an innocent," Bob argues. As far as Bob sees it, it's a good thing that felon is no longer at large. "It's not like I did a formal background check on the man."

Ryland gives Bob a dirty look, and Bob doesn't need to look out of the corner of his eyes to see the black vapors that Ryland is emitting.

"Didn't Nate tell you how to identify someone who's Naughty or Nice?"

Bob folds his arms across his chest. "No," he says. "And neither did any of Santa's other helpers."

Ryland gives Bob a wry expression. "I'll send someone along to make up for the blanks in your education."

:: :: ::

The moment Ryland leaves, another man crashes through Bob's door.

"Hi," the man says genially. "I'm Alex."

"Bob," Bob says.

"Ryland says you're a tricky one," Alex says, making himself at home on Bob's couch. "Victoria's irate, but Gabe thinks it's fucking hilarious."

"There weren't exactly detailed instructions," Bob feels compelled to point out.

"There never will be, either," Alex says. "You know, you should get a television for your place. It's kinda boring."

"I moved in this morning," Bob says dryly.

Alex shrugs. "So, what did Nate teach you?"

Bob shrugs in return. "It was mostly about fire."

Alex smirks. It's not as crooked as Saporta's smirk, but it's pretty damn close. "He likes fire."

"I gathered," Bob says.

"Anyway," Alex says blithely. "Ryland wanted me to teach you how to recognize someone Nice."

Bob raises his eyebrows expectantly.

"They have an aura," Alex says. "It's kinda like a light is on behind their heads, you know, like all those paintings of Jesus from the Middle Ages."

"A light," Bob repeats incredulously.

"It's kinda whitish," Alex elaborates, which is not exactly helpful.

"And how do I recognize someone who's Naughty?" Bob asks, thinking he already knows the answer. Those black vapors have to be there for a reason.

"They don't have the light," Alex says. He waves his hands about his head as if to demonstrate that there's no light there, not that Bob expected there to be: he works with Asher, Ryland, Nate, and Saporta.

"No light," Bob repeats. "That's it?"

"Yeah," Alex says.

Bob decides to keep his mouth shut about the black vapors and how he's never seen anyone with a light. If demons can't see their own aura – or just don't notice it – Bob figures he can use that to his advantage to stay Good while being paid to Do Evil.

"Oh," Alex says. "There are also Reapers. They're just harvesters. They aren't Naughty or Nice. They just do their jobs and stick to themselves. It takes practice to notice a Reaper, but it's an assload of paperwork if you tag one. They're kinda untouchable, you know?"

Bob doesn't know. "How do I recognize one?" The last thing he wants is paperwork, damn it!

"They kinda – It's like. Huh." Alex pauses and looks pensive. "It's like they're there, but they're really not. It's a perception thing. You'll know what I'm talking about the first time you see one."

"That's… not at all helpful," Bob says with a scowl.

Alex shrugs. "Anyway, I need to be off."

:: :: ::

Bob's on his way out in the morning when he catches the tail end of a conversation between Patrick and Brian.

"He doesn't have a cat," Patrick hisses.

"So?" Brian asks. "Neither do I."

"Because they're evil," Patrick says. "That doesn't explain the partial aura."

"Maybe it was someone who helped him move in," Brian suggests.

Patrick snorts. "He stinks of Hell. I'm going to Save him if you're with me or not."

Bob rounds a corner, and the conversation stops. He smiles and nods to both of them on his way out.

:: :: ::

Bob wanders uptown, walking along the Hudson Parkway – the sidewalk between the Hudson and the Parkway, not alongside the actual road. Bob was never suicidal, and he's not exactly sure if he can die, because he already has. Not that he remembers it or anything.

He's almost passed the docks where there are huge lines of huge cars ready to drop passengers off on huge boats when he hears yowling. It's faint, and at first Bob thinks that it might be some sort of engine echoing over the water. It's probably bouncing off the rocks down by the edge of the river.

Except it's not, because it's coming from behind a dumpster. Bob hopes it's not cats, because cats have claws. He likes cats and all, it's just he likes his face intact more. And interrupting a catfight is a great way to have his face cut to ribbons.

Instead, he finds a box of puppies. Their eyes have barely opened, and they're yipping pitifully.

It's not like Bob can leave them there. He's not coldhearted like the bastard who dumped the puppies. However, he has no idea what to do with a box full of six, newborn puppies. He doesn't even know what breed they are. They're grey with brown and matted with something that is hopefully water. And one of them looks up at Bob and attempts to let loose a ferocious bark. It sounds like someone stepped on a squeak toy.

No, Bob can't leave them behind the dumpster.

He hauls up the box, and the puppies squirm, upsetting the balance of the box. There's something oozing on the bottom of the box that Bob would rather not think about, and he knows he has to scrub his hands more than thoroughly later.

One of the puppies tries to make a break for it. It leaps into Bob's face, but it only makes it as far as Bob's neck before it becomes tangled in Bob's sweatshirt. Bob has to set the box back down before he can untangle the puppy, who seems more than happy to stay in Bob's clothes.

Bob sticks the wayward puppy into the pouch of his sweatshirt where it curls up and presumably goes to sleep. At least it's not squirming anymore.

The rest of the puppies settle down, and Bob carries the box under his arm. He has no idea where to bring them. He hasn't been in the city for long enough to know where to drop off abandoned puppies.

He bets that Brian would know.

:: :: ::

Bob softly places the box on the floor by his feet.

Brian gives him an apprehensive look, and he eyes the box as if it contained all the evils in the world.

Bob gently pulls the sleeping puppy from the pouch in his sweatshirt and shows it to Brian.

"The fuck?" Brian asks.

"I found them by the cruise ship docks," Bob explains. "I don't know where to bring them."

"Them?" Brian asks with a raise of his eyebrows.

"There are five more in the box," Bob states.

The puppies in the box begin to squirm again. Their tiny nails scratch against the corrugated box, and Bob can hear snuffling.

A dark spot on one corner of the box grows.

"Oh, hell no!" Brian shouts. "Those mutts did not piss all over my lobby!"

"They're puppies for fucks sake," Bob says. "They're not exactly paper trained."

Brian sneers at the box, and the puppy in Bob's hands squirms.

"I think I might need another box," Bob says.

"Okay," Brian says with a sigh. "I'll see if I can find another box."

"Awesome," Bob says.

"Evil," Brian mutters to himself as he shakes his head. Bob's pretty sure he isn't mean to hear it. "I fucking doubt it."

"Where's the nearest shelter?" Bob asks as Brian disappears into a storage room.

Brian reemerges with a large box. "I'm off in ten minutes. If you can hold on, I'll show you there."

"Oh," Bob says. "Is that a service you offer all the tenants?"

"Don't push it," Brian growls.

Bob shrugs and offers Brian the puppy he's holding.

Brian declines.

:: :: ::

The shelter Brian brings Bob to is small and has a Mom and Pop feel to it. Bob had no idea that any place in New York City could feel Mom and Pop.

A twentysomething is standing behind the counter. There's something off about him, too, and Bob's not entirely sure it's the overwhelming smell of dog. The guy gives Brian a large grin.

"Brian! What brings you crosstown?" the guy asks. His grin stays stuck to his face.

"This is Bob," Brian says. "He's a new tenant in my building."

"Hi, Bob!" the guy bubbles. "I'm Brendon."

"Hi," Bob says. "I found some puppies." He places the box of puppies on the counter.

Brendon opens it greedily. "Five puppies!" he exclaims. He then coos at them.

"Five?" Brian repeats looking to Bob suspiciously.

Bob shrugs and takes the sixth pup out of the pouch of his sweatshirt. "I'm keeping this one."

"But!" Brian protests.

"Dogs are allowed," Bob says. His neighbor on the other side of Patrick has a tiny dog-thing. It took Bob about ten minutes to figure out that she was walking a dog and not a rat.

"You seem more like the cat type," Brian protests weakly.

"I think they're a lab-collie mix," Brendon says, and then yells, "Hey, Jon! We have puppies!"

Another twentysomething appears in the doorway to the backroom. Bob's never seen someone appear so quickly. He doubts the guy would move as quickly if the building were on fire.

"Puppies?" Jon asks eagerly.

Brendon takes one out of the box and examines it. It squirms and whines. Brendon lifts a floppy ear, opens its mouth, and runs his fingers along its gut.

"I think they're a bit malnourished and possibly dehydrated," Brendon assesses. "But they're otherwise okay."

"I'll grab the formula," Jon announces and ducks back out of the room.

"I'd be happy to give you some formula," Brendon offers Bob. "These poor, little guys should still be with their mother." There's a serious and cynical undertone to Brendon's words that seem to contradict his bubbly personality. Bob doesn't know how he should process that information. "I'll give you the name of our vet to have your new pup checked out."

"Thanks," Bob says.

:: :: ::

"Brendon's mostly harmless," Brain says as he runs a finger along the ridge of a Red Bull can. "He's really enthusiastic about his job."

They returned from the shelter and subsequent pet store stop to Bob's apartment. Bob had doled out Red Bull. Bob's already gone through a can, but Brian is less enthusiastic.

"He seemed a bit off to me," Bob says thoughtfully.

It takes Brian a second too long to shrug and say, "It's just Brendon."

Bob narrows his eyes suspiciously.

Brian takes a long pull on his Red Bull.

Someone knocks furiously on Bob's door.

"You gonna answer that?" Brian mutters.

"Yeah, yeah," Bob grumbles back. But he opens the door to find a very angry Patrick.

Without asking for permission, Patrick storms into Bob's apartment, pointing an accusatory finger at Brian.

"Um, what?" Bob asks.

Patrick nearly slips on a chew toy, and both Bob and Brian have to keep themselves from laughing.

"The fuck?!" Patrick demands. Bob's not sure what he's addressing: his beef with Brian or the presence of a chew toy.

"Bob rescued half a dozen puppies from a dumpster," Brian says. He has a sadistic smile that Bob's never seen on someone who didn't have wisps of black smoke wafting off their person.

Patrick stops short. "…What?"

"He. Rescued. Puppies," Brian repeats. "Puppies."

Bob points to a dog bed in the corner. The puppy Bob had chosen, or really, the one who chose Bob, is curled up, snuffling in his sleep.

"Puppies," Patrick repeats faintly. He sits down heavily on Bob's couch. "Puppies."

"Is there something wrong?" Bob asks eventually.

Brian snorts, and Patrick shoots him a deadly glare.

"He thought you were Evil," Brian says, and Bob can hear the capital letter.

"It seems to be going around," Bob says under his breath.

Patrick gives Brian an even deadlier look.

"He met Brendon today," Brian says, and Bob wants to make a connection, but he's not sure there is one there.

"Brendon," Patrick repeats.

"Did you break Patrick?" Bob asks.

"No," Patrick says tersely. "I Googled you."

"Um," Bob says. He's not sure what else to say. Because, creepy.

"You're dead," Patrick says. "Dead, dead, very much dead."

Bob winces. He rapidly tries to think of a loophole, something that would not end with Bob explaining that he is dead and that he's the demon intern to a femme fatal.

"I figured that you must have faked your own death," Patrick continues. "But there were no warrants against you, and there were no unexplained deaths in your area, no debt, no pregnant girlfriend, so."

"Um," Bob repeats.

"For fuck's sake, Patrick," Brian says, thoroughly exasperated. "Cut the kid a break. He's been dead for two damn days."

Bob's head snaps to Brian so quickly he thinks he tore something in his neck.

Brian laughs heartily, but there's nothing malicious to it.

"How – What – I don't – " Bob stammers.

"And in that time he rescued puppies," Brian adds. "He didn't find them and turn them into pies after tearing their heads off with his teeth."

Bob makes a horrified face.

"But," Patrick protests, "his aura."

"You were arguing about me this morning!" Bob realizes. "Wait." There are more pressing issues to deal with than who's been talking behind whose back. "How the fuck do you guys know this shit?"

Patrick slumps backwards against the back of the couch and bangs his head several times.

"This is going to result in a fuckton of paperwork," Patrick moans.

Brian gives him a wry expression. "You'd never know based on his attitude, but Patrick's – "

"Oh, Hell, no!" Patrick snaps. "You don't get to out me!"

"Well, tell the nice man who rescues puppies what you are," Brian says slyly.

"Fuck you, Schechter," Patrick says.

Bob watches the entire exchange feeling dizzy. There's a feeling in the pit of his stomach that's ridiculously close to anxiety, and he doesn't want that feeling to mature into something monstrous.

Patrick scoffs and says, "I'm an Angel."

Bob stares at him.

Brian, Bob is fairly certain, giggles.

"An Angel," Bob says. "So you were on the Nice List?"

Patrick scowls.

"I'm a Reaper," Brain admits. "It's how I knew you were dead."

"And so's Brendon," Bob concludes.

Brian shrugs. "Well, now that the introductions are out of the way, can you straighten yourself out for Patrick? His panties need to be unwound." Brian leers at Patrick and adds, "Or removed."

Patrick blushes and pulls his fedora down to hide his eyes.

"I have no idea what's going on with me," Bob admits and a thought hits him. "Are – are you two sleeping together?"

Brian shrugs, and Patrick groans and blushes some more.

"I'll take that as a yes," Bob says.

"Our relationship isn't what Patrick wants to discuss," Brian says.

Bob looks to Patrick, who's still trying to hide underneath his fedora.

"Have you named the dog yet?" Patrick asks quickly.

"No," Bob says slowly. He doubts that's what Patrick wants to ask. Bob turns to Brian. "How did you know I'm dead?"

Brian shrugs. "It's part of my training to identify the Expiration – uh, Death Date everyone has. Your Death Date was two days ago."

"Wait," Bob says. "Two days?" He thought it would be at least three based on how long he had spent in the waiting room.

"Yeah," Brian says. "Thursday." He pokes Bob in the center of his forehead.

Bob blinks and swats Brian's hand away.

"And all that time in – " Bob cuts himself off. He's not sure how much he's supposed to say about the waiting room.

"Death kinda has its own time," Brian explains. He pokes at Patrick's thigh. "Don't be a pussy. Tell Bob about your concerns."

Patrick bats at Brian's fingers. "You're on the Naughty List," he says sullenly.

Bob nods. "I know."

"But you rescued puppies," Patrick protests.

"I know," Bob repeats.

"People on the Naughty List don't rescue puppies," Patrick insists. "Not to save them."

"I did," Bob says.

"Then someone must have messed up," Brian says. "It's been known to happen from time to time."

"His aura," Patrick says lamely.

"Can I fix it?" Bob asks Brian eagerly.

Brian shrugs, which is in no way helpful.

"I think Patrick's in shock," Bob says, looking over to Patrick, who still has his fedora pulled down.

"He just thought you ate puppies for breakfast," Brian says, patting Patrick's thigh consolingly.

Patrick slaps Brian's hand away.

"I think it's time for us to go," Brian says. He tugs at Patrick's hand until Patrick follows him out of the apartment.

:: :: ::

Bob pretends he can't hear through his walls, and thinking about it makes him blush even when he's alone.

:: :: ::

The note on the refrigerator stays blank, which is just fine with Bob.

:: :: ::

Now that Patrick doesn't think that Bob eats puppies for breakfast, he's a lot more welcoming than he had been. And a lot less secretive.

Brian always finds himself in Bob's apartment after his shift helping Bob feed and train his puppy… Until Patrick collects Brian, and what always follows makes Bob blush. Bob hasn't blushed this much since he was fifteen and trying to win the affections of Molly Monroe in his third period science class.

His life falls into a strange pattern until the note on his refrigerator is no longer blank.

Tear them apart.

Bob feels his stomach give out. He doesn't need to ask who the note is about. He knows, and Asher knows that he knows. He can't do that to a person. Both on ethical grounds and… he hasn't a clue as to how to go about it.

Ryland bangs into Bob's apartment like a hurricane.

"Yeah?" Bob asks.

"You're not the only case I'm managing," Ryland says. "I take my eyes off you for a moment and you're friends with an Angel and a Reaper, who appear to have a very active sex life together."

Bob feels his face heat.

"And you have a dog," Ryland says, scrunching up his face in distaste. "Why not a cat? Cat's are Evil."

"So I've heard," Bob says dryly.

"You've been given a more advanced task," Ryland says. "And you have a week to do it."

Bob really wants to retort, "And if I don't?" But he can't bring himself to ask it. He's still waiting for the paperwork from his original conversation with Patrick and Brian.

He doesn't have to wait long, because a stack of papers appear in Ryland's arms, and he hands them off to Bob.

"These need to be completed by tomorrow," Ryland says, and he's off again.

Bob examines the pile of paper in his hands. There must be at least fifty pages.

He sighs, dumps the papers onto his coffee table, and goes in search of a pen.

:: :: ::

Brian's rummaging through Bob's refrigerator for formula for the puppy when he notices the note. It must have fallen off, and Brian picked it up.

"Bob?" he calls.

"Yeah?" Bob asks from the other room.

"What does this note mean?" There's way too much suspicion in his voice for Bob to wave it off, especially when Brian charges into Bob's face and waves the note in it. Clearly, the subject of the note is just as obvious to Brian as it had been to Bob.

"Uh," Bob says. "It's a note from my boss," he says weakly.

"Your boss," Brian repeats dully. There's bite hiding just under the surface of those words, and Bob knows he needs to tread carefully. "You should be happy I found this instead of Patrick. He'd tear you apart."

"He's an Angel," Bob says.

Brian shrugs. "Angels aren't Nice all of the time. There's that whole wrath of God thing."

"Um," Bob says.

Brian snorts and tosses the note to the floor.

"How were you planning on doing it?" Brian demands. He's still up in Bob's face.

"Um," Bob repeats, warily. "I hadn't thought about it."

Brian snorts. "Of course you've thought about it. Even before you were given the order from your boss."

"Um," Bob retaliates.

Brian may be shorter than Bob, but when he's angry, Bob's no match for him, and Brian has Bob cornered on the couch.

"Were you going to go for adultery?" Brian asks. There's a change in his voice that gives Bob emotional whiplash. Brian's not pissy anymore. He's –

Brian cups Bob through his jeans.

Bob tries to conceal his squeak, and he's mostly successful.

"Were you going to seduce one of us?" Brian purrs. "Had you decided which of us would be your target?"

Bob tries to answer, but his throat has closed up.

Brian squeezes Bob lightly through the denim and then snakes his hand down Bob's jeans.

Bob's breath comes quick and short. He's not sure if he's panicking or turned on. He's half hard, whichever it is.

"What – what's going on?" Bob gasps out. He should know better than to question what he knows is coming (him), but he's a little confused as to how his friend and doorman has him pinned on the couch with a hand down Bob's pants.

Brian snaps open the front of Bob's jeans. "I'm going to give you the best damn blowjob of your life."

"Unlife," Bob corrects.

Brian chuckles deep in the back of his throat. It sounds gravely, like he's already given Bob the blowjob, which would be so unfair, because he hasn't.

Bob whines, now fully hard.

"Ah," Brain says. "You're an impatient one."

He presses his face into the crook of Bob's neck and bites down lightly. Bob keens softly.

"I knew you'd be a talker," Brian says triumphantly before he bites down even harder.

"Knew you'd be a biter," Bob responds breathily.

Brian hums as he pulls at Bob's dick, and then pulls it out of his jeans.

Bob watches as Brian sinks down to his knees in front of Bob's couch. In front of Bob. He's on his knees in front of Bob, and Bob's dick is exposed to the elements. Except he really doesn't have to worry about that for long, because Brian sucks him down whole. Bob can fucking feel the back of Brian's throat, and Brian doesn't so much as gag. The wet heat is intense, and Bob can feel the insides of Brian's cheeks sucking at him.

Brian stays like that, slowly pressing his tongue in tiny circles on the underside of Bob's dick as Bob looks down at Brian's hollowed cheeks.

Bob's thighs begin to tremble, and Brian presses down and out on them with flat palms. Bob needs friction, damn it. The sensation of Brian's tongue is a tease. Bob wants to fuck Brian's mouth until his voice is raw for a week, so that there will be no doubt in Patrick's mind what Brian was doing with his afternoon.

And then Patrick will tear Bob limb from limb, but he's not going to think about that now, not while Bob can feel the smoothness of Brian's palette against the head of his dick.

Brian bobs his head and does something with his tongue that make Bob's eyes roll back in his head and cause him to clutch at anything he can, which includes Brian's hair.

Bob's pretty sure he's turned into a babbling mess, but his nerves feel like they're being pulled from his body, and Brian shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he's speeding up, and it's in time to the hand that he has down his own pants.

"Guh," Bob says. He knows he's close to the edge, and he wants to warn Brian, but all Bob can manage are monosyllabic grunts and an occasional whine.

"Ima," Bob manages to squeeze out before he shoots down Brian's throat.

Brian doesn't seem at all surprised, and he swallows effortlessly. He gives Bob one last suck around the head of his dick before he peels off with a pop.

"Guhn," Bob says.

Brian chuckles, his hand still working in his pants. He then pauses and shudders.

They sit together in the living room, panting.

Brian makes a face at his pants and makes a dash for Bob's bathroom.

Bob takes that moment to attempt to compose himself and, at the very least, tuck himself back into his jeans.

Brian returns and sits next to him on the couch. His hair is at all angles, and his lips are flushed with blood.

"Um," Bob says. "What the hell just happened?"

"If you make one rigor mortis joke, I'll kill you again," Brian says. His voice sounds wrecked, Bob notes with a hint of pride.

"Jesus," Bob groans. "Patrick's going to kill me."

"If you're a good boy," Brian says slowly, "Patrick will fuck you."

Bob swallows hard as his dick makes an interested twitch.

"Tell your boss that Patrick and I have been together since the '60's, and it's going to take a bit more than a Demon intern a few days dead to undo that," Brian says.

Some fuzzy part of Bob's mind reminds him that he never said he was a Demon intern, not to Brian, not even to Patrick.

"You're making my job difficult," Bob mutters.

Brian shrugs and reaches up to kiss Bob.

Bob's not expecting that at all, and he's caught off guard by it, by how dirty it is, by how Brian uses his tongue for Evil, by how Brian tastes like Bob's mouthwash. He wasn't expecting a kiss at all. Of course, he hadn't expected a blowjob either.

Brian breaks the kiss, and then gives Bob one last peck on the lips before he's out the door, and Bob is left mostly still confused.

:: :: ::

Bob keeps waiting for something to happen. Something probably painful and probably involving Patrick and a flaming sword. Bob doesn't think that Patrick has a flaming sword, but it's always a possibility.

He also is worried about the note on his refrigerator. It still has those same three words on it, and Bob's not sure what to do.

He spends his days sitting on a bench in Central Park with the puppy either hanging out in his sweatshirt pouch or exploring the grass around the bench on a short leash. The puppy is still too young to walk, so he travels in either the sweatshirt pouch or hood. Bob varies his place day by day, but he always finds a place. He buys used books on the street and reads them. In case Ryland is watching, Bob sometimes reads books like Dante's Inferno, Paradise Lost, and, for the irony of it, Good Omens. He never read them when he was alive, and he wants to know if there is a bit of truth to any of them.

He's halfway through Good Omens when he realizes why Patrick asked him about naming the dog. Maybe Bob's reading too much into the situation, maybe not.

The puppy is snuffling in his sleep next to Bob on the bench, and Bob's a bit surprised when Patrick sits down next to him on the other side. Bob has been expecting Ryland to hunt him down first. Bob's week is almost up. Either way, it's a conversation that Bob doesn't want to have.

Bob's not even sure how Patrick found him. It's a big city, and Bob's never in the same place twice.

Patrick doesn't say anything, so Bob goes back to reading. He's fairly certain Patrick won't try to kill him in the middle of the day.

"Brian has an amazing throat," Patrick says conversationally.

Bob chokes on his breath.

"He told me everything," Patrick continues. He examines his fingernails. "He's a big talker when I fuck him."

Bob coughs uncomfortably. It sounds a bit too much like a wheeze.

"Oh?" Patrick says. "He didn't talk for you? Hm, it must have been hard with your cock down his throat."

"What?" Bob chokes out.

"He also told me about the note," Patrick says.

Bob stays quiet.

"Brian and I have been together since 1963," Patrick says. "We can't be torn apart easily. And we know how to play the system."

Bob nods.

Patrick leans into Bob's personal space to whisper in a hoarse baritone, "It involves lots of sex."

Bob tries not to twitch, and he feels Patrick's hand burning high up on his thigh. Patrick has long fingers, and they run down the inseam of Bob's jeans to his knee.

"Demons are on earth because they're special," Patrick says. "Angels are on earth because they're to be forgotten. And only a few demons know this."

"What?" Bob repeats. He's not sure how this statement connects to the last statement Patrick made. Unless the flippant statement about sex was just to rile Bob.

"Once you've been part of the system for more than a century," Patrick says, "you know about all the loopholes and learn how to, uh, implement them."

"You're suggesting I – I have no idea what you're suggesting," Bob says.

"You have a case manager," Patrick says.

Bob nods.

"But you're not his only case, right?" Patrick asks.

Bob nods again.

"And your boss wants you to tear me and Brian apart," Patrick says. "Wouldn't it be better in your boss's eyes if you corrupted an Angel?"

Bob stares at Patrick incredulously. He's pretty sure that Patrick just propositioned him.

"If I what?" Bob asks.

"Demons know notoriously little about Angels," Patrick says. "If you corrupted one, it would put you in favor with your boss."

"Are you asking me to…" Bob trails off. He doesn't want to say "asking me to have sex with you," because that's not what one asks on a bench in Central Park in the middle of the day.

"That's exactly what I'm asking you to do," Patrick says. "Brian and I will be at your apartment after his shift."

Patrick stands up, straightens his shirt, and walks off. He then pushes a passing man into a pond.

"What the fuck?!" Bob demands as the man sputters.

"He was about to steal your wallet," Patrick says. He adjusts his fedora and leaves Bob a little dizzy.

:: :: ::

Bob has a mild heart attack when there's a knock on his door. He doesn't even open it before Patrick and Brian come gallivanting inside. Brian's carrying a grocery bag, and Bob eyes it warily.

Brian doesn't stop. He heads directly for Bob's bedroom and upends the bag on Bob's bed.

"Um," Bob says.

Patrick breezes by him and into Bob's bedroom as well.

"What?" Bob asks.

Brian sighs and pulls Bob into his bedroom. He then latches his mouth onto Bob's lower lip, biting down. His arms wind themselves in Bob's shirt, and he sucks at Bob's mouth like he's never going to stop, and Bob doesn't want him to. Bob fights back. If he's going to do this, he's going to give as much as he gets.

Bob vaguely registers tiny noises that Patrick makes. He's too busy gnawing at Brian's face, and Brian's gnawing back.

There are hands in the waistband of Bob's pants, and he's pretty sure they're not Brian's. Bob's going to have trouble keeping track of everyone's hands. They've barely started and he's unsure whose hands belong to – he doesn't even know how many hands are on him. It feels like fifty, and his clothes are rapidly vanishing only to find themselves on a pile on the floor. And Brian's still trying to choke himself on Bob's tongue. Or choke Bob with his own tongue. Bob's not sure and really doesn't care.

But Brian's mouth disappears, and Bob makes a pleading sound.

Patrick kisses him next. It's different than Brian. Patrick is just as demanding but less aggressive and doesn't bite as much as Brian.

Bob's entire body hums.

There's a hand on his back that must be Brian's, because Patrick's are buried in Bob's hair. Brian's hand pushes Bob and, as a result, Patrick to the bed until the mattress hits the back of Bob's knees and he stumbles backwards.

Patrick doesn't fall on top of Bob or at all, and Bob kinda envies him for his balance and composure.

Patrick and Brain openly stare down at Bob, and for the first time, Bob feels self-conscious about this entire ordeal. He quells the urge to curl in on himself but just barely.

Patrick catches it, though. He sprawls out on the bed next to Bob and slings an arm and a leg over him.

Brian frowns and pushes Patrick off Bob so he can sprawl on top of Bob. He bites down Bob's throat and down his chest, as one hand supports himself and his other hand pulls at Bob's dick. Somehow Brian had coated his hands with lube, so his hand is slick and warm and so damn good on Bob's dick.

Bob's hips snap despite his orders to keep them still.

Patrick squirms up toward the head of the bed as Brian flips Bob onto his stomach – his hand never leaving Bob's dick. Brian's other hand ends up digging softly into the globe of Bob's ass.

Bob hadn't even realized his eyes had closed, until he feels hands cupping his face, and his eyes fly open.

Patrick cradles Bob's head, but he brings it down to his dick. Bob doesn't even think before he sucks it into his mouth. It's hot and fills his mouth so completely. Bob hums in satisfaction. He hadn't even known he wanted this so much, but he does.

Patrick kneels in front of Bob and moves his hands from Bob's face to his hair, and he watches Bob intently with those bright eyes. Bob watches back.

Brian's hand has left Bob's dick, but it's okay, because Brian's using both his hands to spread Bob open and using his tongue for what his hands can't achieve. Bob nearly chokes on his surprise and Patrick's dick.

For all that Brian enjoys biting Bob, Bob enjoys the expertise Brian's tongue brings to the table. It twists and turns and makes Bob wish he could beg for more – larger – than Brian's tongue, but he can't beg, because his mouth is wrapped firmly around Patrick's dick, so Bob whines in the back of his throat and hopes they understand.

Bob pulls off Patrick's dick, so he can slide his tongue down to Patrick's balls.

Bob can barely hear over the rush of blood in his ears, but Patrick's been spewing filth. Bob only catches snippets of it, but Patrick's giving Brian directions, and before Bob is aware of it, he's mimicking Brian's movements with his tongue.

Bob's jaw is at the warning stages of soreness when Patrick pushes Bob off his dick and further impales him on Brian's tongue.

Bob whimpers as Brian slides his tongue down to the back of Bob's balls.

Bob cries out as Brian penetrates him with a finger, crooking it and adding another.

Brian and Patrick have a dialogue, but Bob can't catch it, he can only hear his own panting and keening and, one embarrassing time, mewling.

Brian keeps adding fingers, and Patrick disappears from Bob's field of vision. Then Brian's fingers disappear.

Bob's just about to complain when he feels the blunt head of a dick against his ass.

Brian flips Bob over again, and he comes face to face with Patrick. Patrick who has his dick poised so damn close to where Bob wants it. So damn close. Bob wiggles his ass. He needs this, and he's not above begging.

Brian holds onto Bob's shoulders as Patrick slowly, slowly enters Bob. Bob clenches around Patrick, trying to pull him in deeper, because Bob fucking needs this.

Patrick denies Bob everything. He moves slowly, undulating his hips slowly, pumping slowly. Bob tries to buck his hips, but Brian bites Bob's neck, distracting him for a moment. When Bob focuses again, Patrick begins to pump his hips more fervently.

Yes. That's what Bob needs. Bob also needs to come.

Brian's arms trail down Bob's chest, lightly dragging his fingernails across the skin.

Bob's entire body is on fire: he's trembling with want and need and something else that he can't put his finger on.

Brian wraps his hand around Bob's dick again, and that's all Bob needs to send him over. It's a bit of a surprise he lasted as long as he had.

Patrick follows soon after, and that leaves Brian.

Bob's brain is blurring around the edges, but he still has enough coherency left to twist himself around and swallow Brian's dick whole. Bob, however, does not have enough brain power left not to choke when Brain immediately comes in Bob's mouth.

Good thing both Patrick and Brian are there to take care of Bob afterwards.

:: :: ::

Brian tends to be very clingy in the afterglow. Bob hadn't thought about it the first time around, but in his defense, he had been very confused. What surprises Bob even more is that Patrick tends to be giggly in the afterglow.

He giggles as he explains that Bob is corrupting him; Bob even encouraged him to push a guy into a pond.

"You knocked a guy into a pond," Brian says, aghast.

Patrick shrugs with a smile. "Bob's corrupting me."

He kisses a messy, wet trail down Bob's neck beginning behind his ear and ending at Bob's clavicle, which he nips.

"Nuih," Bob says. He's still a little fuzzy, but if Patrick wants to play the system, all the more power to him. It saves Bob a lot of grief and makes his unlife so much easier. And – oh, Patrick really is an Angel. Huh. He's a little twisted, not that Bob's complaining.

Patrick chuckles lightly and nips at Bob's clavicle again.

Brian snorts. "You're so malleable." He pokes Bob in the ribs, and Bob just rolls with it.

"You bite," Bob retorts.

"I know," Brian says wickedly. He bites at the closest part of Bob he can find. It happens to be Bob's pectoral.

Bob lazily swats at Brian.

The door to Bob's apartment bangs open, and before anyone can react, Asher stands in the doorway to Bob's bedroom with a dark cloud hanging around her – quite literally.

"Victoria," Patrick purrs. "Bob's your intern?"

Asher frowns. "Bryar," she says in a poisonous voice. "What the Hell is going on here?"

"Corruption of an Angel?" Bob doesn't mean for it to be a question, but Patrick and Asher aren't supposed to know each other. And Asher isn't supposed to be in Bob's bedroom, especially when he's sandwiched between an Angel and a Reaper.

"That was not on your note," Asher says. Her voice still has no budge to it.

"Um," Bob says. "I'm improvising."

"Cocksucking isn't improvising," Asher says, and Bob knows he's not going to win this. Not just after his brains oozed out his dick.

"He's not trying to usurp you, Asher," Patrick says. "And he's certainly not trying to kill you."

"Yes," Asher says. "Which is the problem."

"You want me to try to kill you?" Bob asks. "That's a bit strange."

"Your evil isn't exactly Evil," Asher says. "This is your only warning. While I approve trying to dupe Ryland, that is not as Evil as you should be. Do what the note tells you to do. Step up, or it's the Pit."

She then storms out.

"Um," Bob says. "You and Asher know each other?" It's probably the wrong question to ask, but that conversation was weird.

"Victoria?" Brian asks.

"We have a history," Patrick says, as if Brian and Bob couldn't have come to that conclusion on their own.

"Really?" Brian asks dryly.

"We've had some altercations in the past," Patrick says. "She's a devil woman."

"She's a femme fatal," Bob says, raising his eyebrows.

"That, too," Patrick says with a dismissive wave of his hand. "She's going to be tricky to work around."

"She already knows what you're doing," Brian says.

"I'm still curious how you ended up on the Naughty List," Patrick muses. "Victoria has to know that something bizarre is going on."

"You know who would know," Brian says. There's something to his tone that makes Bob think it's horribly unpleasant.

"I do," Patrick says miserably. "Is it really worth it to ask him?"

"Possibly," Brian says. "Hey, Bob, you wanna know why you're on the Naughty List?"

Bob opens his mouth to say of course he is, but Patrick beats him to it.

"If this is part of the ineffable plan, I'd rather not mess with it," Patrick says. "If it's not to Bob's benefit to leave Victoria's employ, I'd rather not have to ask him."

"He would know," Brian insists, and Bob is lightheaded trying to keep up with the pronouns thrown around.

Patrick sighs and humphs as he climbs out of Bob's bed. "Both of you had better put clothing on – not just boxers, fully clothed, all of you. Then join me in the bathroom."

:: :: ::

Bob doesn't have a small bathroom. In fact, it's quite large by New York standards, but with three men in it, it seems smaller.

Patrick takes a deep breath. "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asks for the thousandth time.

"Just do it, Stump," Brian growls. "I want this over with as soon as possible."

Patrick grumbles, then he looks at his reflection in the mirror. "Last chance to back out."

"Stump," Brian says tersely.

"Fine." Patrick takes another deep breath. "Pete Wentz, Pete Wentz, Pete Wentz."

There's a soft pop, and a tiny man sits on Bob's bathroom counter. Bob can see the black roll off him in waves, and Bob's wary.

"Lunchbox!" the man shouts and latches himself onto Patrick. "I knew you'd come back to me!"

"Pete," Patrick says thinly.

"You only call when you want something," Wentz grumbles. He eyes Bob. "He's new to your collection. And it looks like he's recently had your cock down his throat."

Bob flushes slightly.

"And up his ass," Wentz adds with a tilt of his head.

"You know why I summoned you, Pete," Patrick says.

"Aw," Wentz coos, "don't be like that, Pattycakes."

Patrick growls.

"Yeah," Brian says drolly, "don't be like that, Pattycakes."

"This was your idea," Patrick reminds him dangerously. It has an undertone of "I will remove your appendix through your throat" to it.

"You didn't summon me because you wanted to," Wentz says with a pout.

"Pete," Patrick says tightly. "This is Bob. He's been put on the wrong List."

Pete leans over to Bob and sniffs him. It's only mildly creepy compared to all the indignities Bob's suffered in the past week or so.

"He smells like sunshine, puppies, and cocaine," Wentz decides. In Bob's defense, he only did coke once, and that was when he was a freshman in college. "And Patrick spunk." He takes another sniff. "And Brian spunk." Wentz gives Brian a wicked grin and an eyebrow waggle. Now Bob realizes why Patrick wanted everyone dressed for this.

"He rescued puppies last week," Patrick says.

"Did you save one for me to eat?" Wentz asks eagerly.

"No!" Bob says, horrified.

"Huh," Wentz says. "He is on the wrong List."

He gives Bob a too-close inspection, and Bob's about to smack him when he pulls back.

"Who's your boss, kid?" Wentz asks.

"Asher," Bob says.

"Ah, the lovely Victoria," Wentz muses. "That means Gabe placed you."

"Saporta?" Bob asks. "Yeah."

"I'll see what I can find," Wentz says. "You owe me, Lunchbox."

There's a soft pop, and Wentz's gone.

"Lunchbox?" Bob asks.

"There are some questions," Patrick growls, "that should never be answered."

"Can he help?" Bob asks instead.

"Oh, yeah," Brian says. "Despite personality defects, he's good at what he does."

"How long will it take?" Bob asks.

"It depends on how high up the error goes," Patrick says. "But Pete can get into all sorts of circles easily."

Bob's not sure if he's relieved or not. He most definitely doesn't ask why Patrick's on such friendly terms with a Demon.

:: :: ::

The note on Bob's refrigerator is a bit singed but otherwise blank.

:: :: ::

Patrick seems more taken with Bob's puppy than the puppy had initially been with Bob. Bob and Brian sit on Bob's couch and watch Patrick play games with the puppy. Most of the games involve the puppy lopping around the floor and attacking Patrick's hands, arms, fingers, hat, whatever it can reach.

Bob feels ridiculously comfortable. Like he belongs. There's something different about this than Bob's actual life. He can't put his finger on it, but he's comfortable.

Brian leans into his side and says, "Our dog is teething." It's careless the way he says it, but Bob. Bob doesn't know how to take it: Brian leaning into Bob's side, Bob being at ease with the gesture, or Brian referring to the puppy as "our."

Patrick curses at the puppy as it chomps down definitively on his fingers.

Brian smiles as Patrick shakes out his fingers. "C'mere," Brian says. "Bob'll kiss it and make it better."

"Not with dog spit all over it," Bob says. He needs to put his foot down somewhere. Otherwise, he'd kiss Patrick's fingers. And enjoy it in all its domestic simplicity. He's not going to completely be Brian's bitch. Or domesticity's bitch.

Except. Patrick pouts at him. It's juvenile and stupid, but Patrick actually pouts at him.

"Fine," Bob grumbles, motioning Patrick over to the couch. He's going to put Patrick in charge of the puppy's paper training – especially the cleanup.

:: :: ::

There are no more noises Bob has to listen to through the wall. He's plenty busy. He never had this active of a sex life when he was alive. He's had his share of dates and hookups, but he's never… Yeah. Christ, looking back on his life is fucking depressing.

And threesomes should be on everyone's Bucket List. Seriously.

:: :: ::

Pete Wentz is sitting on Bob's bathroom counter. Bob wishes he were wearing at least boxers, especially with the appraisal in Wentz's expression. Especially when that appraisal turns into something more sly.

"Is there something you need, Wentz?" Bob asks. He tries his hardest not to cover himself up with his hands. Wentz's already seen what Bob has to offer, it would be stupid to cover up now. And futile. He'd have to hide his junk and the bite marks on his inner thigh and chest. (Brian likes to bite, okay?) He steels himself for whatever Pete has to dish out.

"I see you can keep Pattycakes satisfied," Wentz says.

Bob leans against the wall. "You're not here to see what I have to offer," Bob drawls, trying to calm himself down. Wentz is (hopefully) here to help Bob out, even if that means antagonizing Bob. Wentz is a Demon, Bob reminds himself.

"Is Patrick here?" Wentz asks.

"Is he needed for this?" Bob responds.

Wentz shrugs.

Bob rolls his eyes. "Patrick!" he calls. "Brian! Put some pants on. Wentz is here."

Wentz looks pleased with himself as he swings his legs, banging them off the cabinets under the counter.

Brian and Patrick stumble into the bathroom. Thankfully with clothing.

"What?" Patrick demands irritably. He then focuses on Wentz. "Oh. You."

"Don't sound too excited there, Patrick," Wentz says a little bit bitterly.

"It's two in the morning," Brian grumbles. "This had better be important."

"It is," Wentz says.

"Well?" Bob prompts.

"Bob's placement on The List isn't ineffable," Wentz says. "But it did come from high up. That's all I can tell you. Other than Bob'd better do what's on the note."

"That's vague, even for you," Patrick says. He folds his arms over his chest.

"I'm not saying that bending the rules could be a bad thing," Wentz says with a shrug.

"What are you saying?" Bob asks.

Wentz shrugs again. "You're a Demon, because that's what The List says. But someone put you there for a purpose, albeit not an ineffable one."

"If you say the universe is counting on me, I will punch you in the throat," Bob threatens. He narrows his eyes menacingly.

"Nothing like that," Wentz says with a pop. "It's not a mistake that you're on the Naughty List. That's all."

"That's not helpful," Bob says.

Wentz shrugs. "You owe me payment, Pattycakes." He then disappears with a pop.

Patrick groans. "He knows a lot more than he's saying. And if he expects payment, he'll have to say it all."

Wentz pops back into Bob's bathroom. "Not nice, Angel," he declares. "Maybe you're on the wrong List, too."

"I'm not," Patrick says. "This is about Bob anyway."

"He just didn't want to play his harp," Wentz whispers to Bob.

"Angels don't have harps," Patrick grumbles. "And that's still not the point."

"Maybe it's his cherubim cheeks," Wentz says.

Patrick growls.

Wentz bats his eyelashes at Patrick. "You shouldn't be so cranky." He points to Bob. "Especially when that's been up your ass."

Bob punches Wentz in the throat. Well, he means to, but Wentz blinks out of existence and back in after Bob nearly stumbles over.

"He's only trying to rile you up," Patrick says. "Ignore him."

"It's working," Bob mutters.

"If he expects payment," Patrick says. "He'd better answer everything to the fullest extent."

"Bah," Wentz says. "Fine. But no one's going to like it."

He pops out of Bob's bathroom.

"Go put some clothes on before he comes back," Brian suggests.

Bob wastes no time bustling out of the bathroom to cover up.

:: :: ::

The note on Bob's refrigerator has words on it, but they look like they've been washed out.

:: :: ::

It takes Wentz three days to pop back into Bob's bathroom.

"We're going on a field trip," he announces.

Bob's thankfully clothed, because Wentz had waltzed into Bob's living room. He didn't know Wentz could leave the bathroom.

"Grab your shoes!" Wentz says. Bob wonders if there's a way to keep Demons from entering his apartment, but thinks better, because he is a Demon. So that wouldn't work out too well. "And Patrick and Brian!"

"Brian's working," Bob says.

"He's off shift in, like, two seconds." Wentz grabs Bob's hand and leads him out of his apartment.

:: :: ::

Wentz leads Bob, Patrick, and Brian to someplace downtown, and Bob's not exactly shocked when they head into the basement.

"Is this...?" Patrick asks.

Wentz nods, so Bob thinks at least two people know what the hell is going on. Pete then bangs in a door, and Bob's been here before. Not here, a basement in New York City, but behind that door.

The walls are deep violet, and Saporta sits with his feet propped up on his desk.

"Welcome," Saporta says. His creepy grin is firmly in place. "I've come topside for you, Bryar."

"You're special, dude," Wentz says. He sits up on Saporta's desk. Saporta kicks him in the ass.

"And I'm here because Saporta has the answers?" Bob asks.

"You're here because Gabe is the reason," Wentz says.

Bob isn't sure why he didn't make the connection to begin with: Saporta was the one who gave him his placement. But nothing about Bob's unlife has been simple; he didn't exactly expect this part to be.

"You put me on the Naughty List?" Bob asks.

Saporta shrugs and smirks.

"Why?" Bob prompts.

He doesn't expect a direct answer, so he's even more surprised when Saporta gives him one.

"Vicky-T needed a decent intern who wouldn't try to kill her and take her job," Saporta says.

"So you thought, 'Let's take Bob. He once jaywalked.'?" Bob snorts.

"Nah," Saporta says. "It was all chance."

"Chance?" Bob feels himself begin to growl. "You fucked with my unlife because you had the chance?"

"I'm a Demon bureaucrat," Saporta says. He gives Bob that creepy smirk. Of course, Bob totally should have seen that coming, but. He doesn't belong on the Naughty List.

"At this point, you have a choice to make," Saporta continues. "Pete wouldn't stop until he ended here, so, Bryar, you are now in control of the outcome."

And holy shit, Saporta is damn Evil.

Bob turns to look at Patrick and Brian helplessly. He has no idea what to do.

"If you stay where you are, you still need to do what the post-it notes say," Saporta says. "If you decide you want to be on the correct List, I don't have a fucking clue what will happen to you."

"If you change Lists, you won't end up on earth," Brian says. "It's your choice. Stay here with a Demon boss or… leave." If Bob didn't know any better, he'd swear there was an unheard "us" at the end of that sentence. That's a little too heavy for Bob to process at the moment. He isn't exactly sure how part of an 'us' he is. Or how long that us would last.

"This turmoil is delicious," Saporta purrs. His purr is just as creepy as his smirk, and Bob feels that he needs to take a long shower when they're through.

Wentz nods in agreement.

Bob looks to Patrick.

"I made it my mission to Save you," Patrick says. "So that's what I did."

"Well?" Saporta prompts, his grin firmly in place.

"Fuck," Bob says vehemently.

"It's seems you've been doing a lot of that recently," Saporta says. "And rescuing puppies without the intent to eat them."

"Maybe I'm just saving him for later," Bob responds petulantly.

Saporta cackles along with Wentz.

Bob can't think. He's always sucked at making decisions – major decisions – quickly and without the guidance of his mother. (His Momma's awesome, so shut the fuck up. That does not make him a Momma's Boy.)

"I'm staying," Bob says. This is a bureaucratic society he's stuck in, so he adds, "But I want to negotiate a contract for my terms of employment."

"Done," Saporta says. He kicks his feet off the table. "Asher will discuss this with you at a later date."

Wentz hops off the table and ushers Bob, Patrick, and Brian back up the stairs.

Once they're all back on the street, Wentz says, "I want my payment, Pattycakes."

"Fine," Patrick grumbles. "What do you want this time?"

This time? There were other times?

"Have a mirror set up on your bedroom ceiling for an entire week," Wentz says with a grin.

"Done," Patrick agrees. "Starting tomorrow."

Wentz punches the air in excitement then pops out of existence.

"Pete uses any mirror or reflective surface to do whatever the fuck it is he does," Brian explains to Bob, who's a bit confused as to why a mirror would be payment. "He can see out of them or teleport or whatever."

Patrick turns to Bob. "I'm spending the next week at your place. Keep your mirrors covered."

"Dude," Bob says slowly. "Staying at my place isn't a problem. I mean, I think I just gave up Heaven for you guys."

Brian smirks at him. "We're very much aware of that. And very appreciative. I'm taking next week off."

"I think I will, too," Patrick decides.

"And so will Bob," Brian adds. The look he throws Bob's way is smoldering.

Bob flushes.

"We should hit up a convenience store," Brian suggests. "We're almost out of condoms."

"And I need a mirror," Patrick adds.

"To not use," Brian continues.

Bob stands back and lets the banter wash over him as they walk down the street – back to Bob's apartment. Where they will probably spend the next week.

"We'd better stock up on food, too," he suggests. "And formula for the puppy."

He gave up Heaven for these guys, but he's not about to go hungry for the next week, because there is no way in Hell he's leaving his apartment in that time.

the end