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You Call this Healing?

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Angel Dust was a simple spider. He liked all of three things; Money, sex, and his pet pig Nuggets. That was the end of it. He didn’t have room for anything else.

Of course, then he wound up at the pet project hotel of the Princess and suddenly he had friends. Not close friends, but friends nonetheless. He hadn’t meant to get attached. Heaven, he hadn’t even meant to stay. It all just… happened. He didn’t really have much control over it now. He liked Charlie and Husk. He could even tolerate Vaggie most of the time. Alastor, though…

After Vaggie told him how Alastor got famous, or infamous rather, he had made a drunken pass at Alastor in a halfassed effort to get into the Radio Demon’s favor. Alastor, upon being propositioned, had promptly snapped his own neck. Angel gave him a wide berth after that. That didn’t mean they never saw each other though.

Alastor made Angel nervous. The guy was creepy, even by Hell’s standards. He had a tendency to stare. Not just at Angel, but at everything. Between the shark toothed grin and the lack of blinking, it gave Angel the impression that Alastor was hungry and only holding himself back from eating other demons because he had promised not to cause trouble for the hotel.

At the moment, Alastor was at Husk’s desk with a book open in front of him but he wasn’t reading. Instead he was watching Nuggets, the pig, who was fruitlessly trying to root something out of the carpet. There wasn’t anything in the carpet, or under it, but pigs would be pigs. As usual, the staring made Angel nervous and he was for once sober enough to listen to his own sense of caution.

“Nuggets, come here buddy.” Angel called, and the pig oinked the whole way to the spider’s waiting arms. “How’d a sweet piggy even get to hell?” He wondered under his breath.

“It may be because pork is considered a sin to eat in several religions.” Alastor chimed. “As is shellfish!”

Angel looked up with a frown, “I wasn’t askin’ you.” He said, then carried Nuggets to his room where he felt the pig would be safer.

Nuggets, to their credit, didn’t seem to notice anything amiss. Angel loved them for that. Nothing could phase a pig. They were fearless. Or maybe just stupid. Angel had heard pigs were one of the smartest animals out there, but Nuggets didn’t seem to fit that bill. That was fine. Angel liked knowing he could be the smartest thing in the room every now and then.

The spider sat down on the floor rolling a ball to Nuggets and smiling when the pig pushed it back. He rolled it again and sighed as a craving hit him. He wasn’t allowed drugs in the Hotel and after last time’s fiasco he couldn’t leave without a chaperone. It was annoying and without the assistance of narcotics there was just too much room in his head for thoughts he didn’t want. Thoughts he knew, rationally, didn’t even matter because he was dead and so was everyone else. Knowing didn’t make them hurt any less.

Waste of space. Lost cause. Useless. Can’t even drink myself to death, I’m already here. Should just pick a hole and sleep in it for the rest of my afterlife…

Nuggets noticed their owner had stopped rolling their ball to him and crawled into Angel’s lap. Angel picked Nuggets up again and hugged him, hiding his face in his pet’s side and trying to keep his crying quiet since once he started he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop for a few minutes at least. He just knew he was smudging his makeup all to hell, but it was an afterthought drowned out by the fact that he suddenly couldn’t breathe correctly. At some point he even started rocking himself and his pig, trying and failing to calm down. He didn’t even know what set him off this time, and that made it all the worse.

A knock sounded at the door, and Angel held his breath.

“Mister Dust?” Charlie’s voice sounded, muffled by the door.

Angel scooted himself so he could rest his back against the door, just in time as the knob turned. The door didn’t budge, and there was another knock. Angel took a breath to get his voice under control.

“What?” He snapped, wincing slightly as his voice cracked. “Can’t a guy get any privacy in his own room?”

“I just wanted to make sure you were still h-” Charlie cut herself off. “Vaggie saw you come up here and said you looked a little off.”

“Thought I ran off, huh?” Angel huffed. “Tell you what, doll. You can tie me down for some PCP. Hell, I’ll take a leash for some weed at least.”

He heard Charlie sigh, and what sounded like he whispering. Another voice chimed in to say something he only half-heard about not making exceptions.

“Oh hey, Vaggie.” Angel greeted, wiping his face and standing, putting Nuggets down on his bed. He glanced at the mirror on his vanity and grimaced. He’d definitely looked better.

“You know we can’t enable you. It would be counterproductive.” Charlie explained, even though Angel had heard it before. “Don’t you want to get out of Hell?”

What’s the point in going to heaven if I’ll still have to put up with myself? Angel didn’t trust himself to answer that out loud without breaking down again, so he didn’t.

“I’m still here. I’m not tryin’a break out. I just… Look I don’t gotta explain why I’m in my own fuckin’ room. Just fuck off, a’ight?” Angel said, becoming angered.

There was no answer. Just footsteps. Nuggets oinked.

Angel deflated, washed his face in the bathroom attached to his room, and curled up in his bed to take a nap. After some more unwelcomed thoughts he realized that the trigger had been how Alastor looked at his pig. He knew Alastor wouldn’t do anything to Nuggets but the thought of losing one of the only things he gave a shit about had been a heaven of a doozy... Added with his withdrawals it was a wonder he had’t snapped right there in the lobby.

He was too tired to deal with this shit.

Chapter Text

Angel Dust didn’t know how long he’d slept. Time was weird in Hell so it didn’t really matter that much. He got up, fed Nuggets, then went right back to bed. He somehow itched under his skin, which made no sense but was happening anyway. His eyes were watering for no discernible reason and he was glad he didn’t have a conventional nose because he just knew it would be running.

“Thought bein’ dead meant you didn’t get sick.” Angel muttered to himself as he piled blankets onto himself, only to throw them off a few minutes later for being too warm.

Lethargic and irritated, Angel eventually had to get up again when he noticed Nuggets getting antsy. Unwilling to have pig shit on the floor of his room, he clipped a leash to their collar and let them lead him to the courtyard. It was a fenced in part of the Hotel, so there wasn’t much risk of Angel escaping unless he felt like climbing electrified barbed wire. It used to be a regular fence, but mistakes had been made and learned from.

A few other residents were about. Ones he didn't recognise. Nobody but staff and himself were willing to stay at the Happy Hotel for long once they realized avoiding sin meant avoiding fun. The only reason Angel left is because he felt that he couldn’t. He was the first resident here. If he left it would mean Charlie had failed and although Angel’s morality was skewed, he did have his own personal code of conduct and the first rule was to never let his friends down. He had so few of those. He couldn’t disappoint Charlie no matter how much her policies pissed him off. She was a good kid. She just wanted to make a difference while the whole of Hell was against her.

Having grown up gay in the 30s, he could relate.

Speak of the Devil’s daughter, she was in the courtyard too, tending to a dead garden that had no hope of growing but was being cared for anyway. She was on the ground, tilling too-dry soil with her bare hands. She looked frustrated.

Angel took the leash off of Nuggets, letting him be free to play, and moved closer to Charlie.

“Need an extra hand, or four?” Angel offered. “Y’know you could liven this shit up easier by just shoving paper flowers in it.”

Charlie snorted. “Yeah, I could. They’d be fake though.”

“Fake’s just as pretty.” Angel pointed out.

“Maybe so…” Charlie conceded. “But real flowers mean more.”

“A flower’s a flower.” Angel shrugged and knelt to copy what the girl was doing; ripping dirt up to get it loose.

Charlie looked up to thank him, but instead just blinked in surprise. “Wow. You look… tired.”

Angel froze for a moment as he realized he hadn’t put on makeup for the day and had only halfassedly washed off the coat from before. From Charlie’s reaction, he knew he must look like a mess.

“Well fuck you too, doll.” Angel huffed.

“I didn’t mean it like that!” Charlie backtracked, then quickly changed the subject. “So… I’m thinking of hiring people to be therapists here.”

Angel squinted at her. Charlie continued.

“They’d have to be trained, of course. But I found some books that deal with trauma and I noticed a lot of sins are coping mechanisms and that a lot of people in Hell had bad experiences when they were alive or even horrible death’s that they might need some mental help with and-”

“Fuckin breathe, will you?” Angel interrupted. “Look I can’t speak for other demons but I don't think anybody’s gonna want to talk about their feelings to some hack bein’ paid to pretend to care.”

Charlie hummed, and Angel knew she hadn’t been discouraged at all. She was still going to try out her idea. Angel would no doubt be the guinea pig. It would backfire, or just not work. Charlie would make the sad demon eyes and they’d be back to square one again. It had happened before. It kept happening.

Nuggets chose then to waddle over and shove their whole face right in the dirt. Angel cringed, none too keen on having to give the pig a bath later.

 

 

Alastor didn’t actually work at the Hotel. He was a sponsor. The only sponsor, but his involvement kept the place funded and he had a room for himself if he felt like having an extended stay. He did like the atmosphere, though he was well aware it wasn’t a place he would stay if he were treated as the patients were. He liked booze and chaos too much to want to be cured of it. If there even was a way to cure a Demon. None had been redeemed and sent to heaven yet and Alastor didn’t have a hunch either way if it would or wouldn’t work. He just wanted to see what the outcome was, whatever that would be.

And if he also had a few microphones hidden here or there, well, who didn’t love to spy a little?

A lot of things the microphones caught were of no interest to Alastor. Small snippets of friendly conversation, masturbation, the anguished but altogether pointless angry shouting at a hallucination from demons going through a particularly rough detoxification. All of these he glossed over, uncaring. What he wanted was information. He wanted to hear something he could use.

Still, the crying caught his attention. Most demons, when upset, got angry. Not this one. He listened to the recording in his own room for a while, but no words were said. It had been happening more and more often lately. He glanced at the room number for the bug and matched it to Angel’s room. His ear twitched at a particularly pathetic sob and he shut the recording off. He didn’t need to hear any more.

Chapter Text

Angel wanted out. Now. He was still sick, he still itched, he couldn’t tell if he was hungry or nauseous and all he wanted in the world at that point in time was to smoke, snort, or shoot up. Preferably all three, if he could swing it. He’d sent a letter to Cherri a few days ago to smuggle him something but her pockets had been checked at the door and the visit had been supervised so if she was packing anything in her bra there wasn’t a way to get at it without being obvious. It was nice to see her anyway, but not really what he wanted.

“Can I please just go across the street?” He asked Charlie.

“To the vending machine?” Vaggie rolled her eye.

“...No.” Angel said defensively, crossing both sets of arms. “To the… Okay fine, yes to the vending machine.”

“You know we can’t let you do drugs.” Charlie said in a voice that may have meant to be soothing but was ultimately just grating Angel’s nerves.

“You don’t even have any money.” Vaggie pointed out.

“I could get a twenty in twenty minutes.”

“Lust is a sin too.”

“Hard work isn’t!”

“No.” Charlie put her foot down.

Alastor picked that moment to peek through the door, his grin wider than usual. “Oh come now, surely the lad needs some enrichment. A walk could be good for him.”

“We have the courtyard for that.” Vaggie huffed. “He only wants out to get high.”

“There’s other things I wanna do too.” Angel huffed, starting to count on his fingers. “Get laid, shoot stuff, drink… A typical monday, y’know?”

“All of those are bad for you. You can’t go out. Not alone.” Charlie stated. “Me or Vaggie have to watch you.”

“Perhaps I could chaperone?” Alastor offered. “I could keep him out of trouble.”

Charlie looked to Vaggie who was frantically shaking her head. Angel, oddly enough, looked discouraged by the idea. If anyone could get the spider to behave, it would probably be the Radio Demon. If anything bad did happen, Alastor could keep it out of the news with his considerable influence and they’d have to start over with Angel’s rehabilitation. For the latter, it wouldn’t be the first time.

“Okay, just keep him away from… anything he likes.” Charlie allowed.

Vaggie threw her hands up in defeat, muttering something that sounded like “Why do I try?”

“I’ll take him to a picture show and he will be on his best behavior, l just know.” Alastor beamed.

“Better be porn.” Angel muttered.

“It will absolutely not be pornographic at all!”

Angel grunted in disgust but allowed the enthusiastic deer to drag him out the door, plotting possible ways to ditch him. He had no interest in being babysat by Sir Smiles-a-lot. While brainstorming his escape, Angel was more than surprised then he realised Alastor had brought him to a bar. What the heaven?

“Hey, not that I don’t appreciate liquor but… isn’t drinkin’ on the list of shit of shit you ain’t supposed to let me do?” Angel asked, looking around the establishment. “This some kinda ‘resist temptation’ trap exercise?”

“My boy, even catholics drink wine.” Alastor said cheerfully. “Would you rather stay sober?”

“Fuck no.” Angel said quickly.

“Then enjoy your break! The ladies don’t need to know.” Alastor winked and put a claw to his lips. “It’ll be our little secret.” Alastor then ordered them both a glass of rosé.

“You’re payin’. I haven’t been allowed to work.” Angel huffed.

“Of course. I didn’t expect you to anyway.” Alastor shrugged, his grin growing wider.

Something about the easy allowance rubbed Angel the wrong way. “Yeah, right. Sure. So what’s in it for you?” Angel asked, knowing nothing good ever came without strings.

“Perceptive, aren’t you? I just have a small errand to run in a few days and thought a pretty face might help my chances of getting through it more smoothly.” Alastor explained vaguely.

“You need a distraction.” Angel understood suddenly. “Gonna cost you more than a drink, depending who you got in mind.”

“Oh you’ll be paid more than enough.” Alastor waved dismissively but didn’t actually say who he planned to rob, taking a delicate sip of wine as Angel took a much less reserved gulp.

The spider didn’t really like being kept in the dark when it kept to plans; Shit went wrong if you didn’t have the whole story. Still, if he agreed then he’d have both an out and an alibi as far as the hotel and Charlie were concerned. He could have a little fun without making anyone upset. He just had one concern he needed to address.

“Hell’s got more whores than me for cheaper. You sure I’m the guy for the job?”

“Of course!” Alastor was quick to assure. “He’s a fan of yours.”

That didn’t really give Angel much of a clue. He had so many fans that there was no good way to narrow it down. Money was money though and he could do with an emergency stash to hide in his room. He was sick of not being able to eat and then throwing up nothing just because of a lack of ambient drugs in his system.

“Lemme think about it.” Angel agreed. He was sold on the idea but he’d been brought up to haggle wherever possible and he wanted every benefit he might be able to squeeze out of the Radio Demon.

“I understand it’s a big decision, what with your recovery.

Angel couldn’t tell if Alastor meant to sound condescending or not. It didn’t really matter. He was used to being looked down on and it only bothered him if he let it. He downed the rest of his drink, then snatched Alastor’s, who surprisingly allowed it.

Chapter Text

After a few weeks of being clean and sober, Angel Dust could not hold his wine as well as he thought he could.

“You know, for a creepy fucker you’re a pretty… pretty swell guy.” Angel praised, putting one of his lower hands on Alastor’s arm.

Alastor flinched at the contact. Angel didn’t notice, and Alastor gingerly removed the offending appendage.

“Creepy fucker.” Alastor repeated, amused.

“Eh, don’t take it wrong. As long as you don’t eat my pig we’re square.” Angel giggled, swaying in his seat. “Can I touch your ears?”

“No.” Alastor answered quickly. “I prefer you not touch me at all.”

Angel huffed, somewhat offended. “Fine, I’ll take my filthy whore hands somewhere else.” He took a step off of his stool and immediately lost his balance. He landed in a heap on the floor and started giggling.

“You are much more helpless while inebriated than I expected you to be.” Alastor cocked his head to the side. “Then again I suppose being off the sauce long enough would ruin your tolerance.”

“Shhhhuddup.” Angel picked himself up, wobbling a bit. “Just one bottle. I’m fine, look.”

Alastor just shook his head. “Well we can’t take you back to the hotel like this. Let’s get you some water and take a walk. I know a decent place for coffee.” In Hell, decent was as good as things got.

“Hey Al-” Angel began after Alastor had managed to herd him a few blocks.

“Don’t call me that.” Alastor was quick to cut in.

“-What do you think’ll happen if I die here? Will I go to… like… Super Hell? Is that a thing?” Angel asked, leaning on a wall.

“I don’t know. I think you would just cease to exist.” Alastor said.

“Oh nooooooo…” Angel whined, starting to sniffle.

“No way to tell, I suppose. Best not to think on it too hard.” Alastor noticed a few demon’s staring and nudged Angel roughly in the knee. He sent a wild glare at the other demons, who wisely averted their eyes. “Keep walking. You’re causing a scene.”

 

 

Meanwhile, across town, Charlie was pacing.

“They’ve been out for two hours…” She worried aloud.

”You let them go. Don’t start fretting about it now.” Vaggie huffed. “Should’ve listened to me.” She added under her breath.

“What if they aren’t coming back?” Charlie started to pull her hair.

“One less headache for me.” Vaggie joked, then looked up to see the distraught look on her girlfriend’s face. “Oh, damn. Look, it’ll be okay! Angel left Nuggets here and he wouldn’t just abandon his pig. And Alastor’s dropped too much money on the hotel to just walk out. Come here.”

Charlie flopped onto Vaggie’s lap, hiding her face in the other’s stomach. Vaggie started brushing Charlie’s hair with her fingers. “Worst case, Angel got too handsy again and Alastor tore his arm off. He’s got three more though, it’s fine!”

Despite the gruesome visual, Charle giggled.

It took another hour for Alastor to bring Angel back, the latter still nursing a massive paper cup of coffee. Vaggie could tell by smell it had nothing in it, a strong contrast to his usual over-sugared abominations. Vaggie raised a suspicious brow. Alastor met her gaze with a grin, no more suspicious than usual. She hated not being able to read him.

“How did it go?” Charlie asked sweetly.

Rather than actually answer, Angel went straight to his room, visibly grumpy the whole way, and slammed the door behind him. He knew he wouldn’t be let out again if the girls were aware he’d been drinking, so it was best for him to just avoid them until he’d had a nap. He could hear Alastor’s voice, though muffled, spinning the cover story they’d agreed on that he was just so fascinated by all the new technology Hell was picking up secondhand from the Living Realm and that Angel, who had adapted better to new things, had been explaining them and that time had gotten away from them.

Angel appreciated the fact that the Radio Demon was willing to lie for both of them rather than just covering his own ass. It was selfish, of course, as he needed Angel’s cooperation for some big plan. All demons were selfish, though. Nothing new there.

Nuggets seemed happy to see him at least, squealing and squirming and running around underfoot and making walking difficult. Angel picked them up to give them a kiss between the ears, and then put them down again.

Angel chugged the rest of his bitter coffee and set up a mat in his bathroom before dropping his clothes, which Nuggets decided needed to be made into a nest. The spider tended to sweat out his alcohol and though he hadn’t begun to smell yet, he knew he would. He sat on the mat and opened a nearby box that was filled with a fine, powdery sand. He took a scoop of it and dumped it onto his head, then started to scratch it through his fur so the grit could get to his skin. Then he brushed it out and it took any moisture and dirt out with it.

Damn, bathing got weird after dying. Angel thought to himself. He missed showers, but with as much fur as he had it was hard to dry off all the way and he didn’t like smelling like mold any more than he did booze-sweat.

He brushed a few more times, just to make sure he wasn’t going to wind up with a sandy bed, fed his pig, then went to sleep. He’d clean up and fold the mat when he got up again, he’d decided; A problem for later. He regretted the decision when he woke up to find that Nuggets had strewn the sand all over the carpet.

Chapter Text

Angel was in a much better mood after his outing with Alastor, Charlie noticed. Excluding the initial sour march to his room when he first got back. He was cheerful and almost polite, even offering to help with the other Hotel residents.

“Maybe he really did just need a change of scenery.” Charlie beamed.

“Not buyin’ it.” Vaggie sighed.

“He’ll drop again in a day or less.” Husk gruffed from his desk as he picked through paperwork.

“Drop?” Charlie asked.

“Yeah. Drop. It’s a thing with addicts.” Husk explained, then as an afterthought added, “And a lot of mental shit, but in Angel’s case he’s happy for now,” He raised a wing to illustrate what he was saying. “But once that wears off and he has another craving.” He struck his wing down on the desk hard, scattering papers. “He’ll drop. Damn, could you hand me that?” He pointed to one of the papers that had fallen to the other side of his desk where he couldn’t reach without leaving his chair.

Charlie handed it back, thoughtful. She didn’t look to Vaggie. She didn’t need an I told you so. just this second. Just because Husk made sense didn’t mean his answer was the only right one. There were sides to this. She trusted Alastor well enough and didn’t think he would go against her. Not knowingly, at least. Angel, though. She’d given him enough benefit of the doubt. Angel could be sneaky. Well, she could be sneaky too.

“Vaggie?”

“Yeah?” Vaggie answered, holding back her snark since she could read Charlie’s face fairly well.

“Take Angel out to see his family, or Cherri, or somebody. I need to search his room and make sure he doesn’t have a stash somewhere.”

“Good call.” Vaggie nodded. “How long do you need us away for?”

“At least half an hour.” Charlie answered, trying to ignore the twisting guilt in her stomach.

Vaggie pulled her into a hug, kissing her forehead. Husk rolled his eyes.

 

 

Angel was surprised to get to go out again so soon. Vaggie was going with him this time which wasn’t ideal. Even weirder when he said he wanted to hang out with Cherri and she agreed without a single snide remark. Something was up, but he didn’t know what. Oh well. He was still up in his spirits so whatever it was didn’t matter much. He and Cherri even managed to talk Vaggie into karaoke! Today was great!

“Nice to see you finally got that stick outta your ass!” Cherri once one song ended and the next began.

“Ey, we used to be friends before she left me for Princess Prude! No disrespect to the kid, she’s cute.” Angel said, bumping his hip into Vaggie’s side to try to get her to dance with him. “She’s too good for you though. All naïve and shit.”

“And you’re just shit.” Vaggie bit back, sitting down on a near couch instead. “Remind me why we stopped talking?”

“Ooooooh-hoo-hoo~” Cherri giggled.

“I’m just sayin you’re lucky the one person that don’t even deserve to be in Hell thinks the world of you.” Angel explained, then decided he was being way too sincere for comfort. “I’m surprised you ain’t dirtied her up yet.”

“And how would you know?” Vaggie snapped, folding her arms and frowning.

“Oh, I’d know.” Angel assured.

“He’d know.” Cherri repeated way too seriously, hanging an arm over the spider. “This bitch can smell it. Angel smell me.”

Angel grinned and took an obedient sniff of Cherri’s hair. He raised a brow and chuckled. “You disgust me.” He grinned as Cherri put a hand on his face and shoved him away as he cackled. He let gravity work and plopped down next to Vaggie

“You don’t even have a nose.” Vaggie pointed out.

Angel tapped the shiny pink spots under his eyes. “Yeah but these are like weird nose-eyes. I can smell with them and I can pick up shadows and colors with my real eyes closed. Real trippy shit before I got used to it…”

“I always thought they were freckles…” Cherri said, dropping heavily to lay in Angel’s lap.

“I can also taste with my hands.” Angel deadpanned, gesturing to his gloves. “My body is freaky.”

“Well you are a spider.” Cherri pointed to her own eye. “At least you can see distance. Do you know how much this fucks my aim?”

“A lot?” Vaggie guessed knowingly, since she also only had one eye.

“A lot.” Cherri confirmed.

 

 

Charlie didn’t like snooping. She knew it was an invasion of privacy. Still, she had rules here. She had to make sure they were being followed. It was for Angel’s own good, after all. Nuggets following her around as she searched didn’t make her feel any better.

The first thing she noticed was that the carpet was sandy and that in it of itself was weird but not incriminating. There was a pig living in the room too. Messes happened. She checked obvious places first; the drawers, under the bed, between furniture and walls, under the bathroom sink, and the medicine cabinet. Those yielded nothing, so she started checking less conventional places.

Stuck inside the back of the toilet just above the waterline, was a tightly woven silk bag. She didn’t know what was in it, and she couldn’t find a way to open it without destroying it, but it was suspicious enough. She took it, having to exert quite an effort to get it unstuck. Once she had that she checked over the room one last time, then put everything back as she had found it.

She took the silk bag to her own office and put it in a lockbox for safekeeping. She’d talk to Angel about it when he got back. Hopefully they could have a civil conversation about things and he would understand she had gone through his things for a good reason. Hopefully. Even though she felt awful.

Chapter Text

When Angel returned he could tell something was off Someone had been in Angel’s room. Things had been moved, but not the pig-knocked-shit-over kind of moved. Things had been moved and put back. A person had been going through his room. Almost as soon as he realized this, his heart dropped and his blood went cold.

“Angel, what is this?”

Angel scratched through his hair, trying to ground himself as his mind was thrown back to a time when he’d had fewer limbs and less fur. It wasn’t working.

“Don’t you ignore me, young lady. I asked a question, I expect and answer.”

“A drawing.” A younger, more human Angel responded quietly.

“And what is this a drawing of?” His father’s voice was soft and demanding all at once. It made Angel feel sick.

“Some fellas.” Angel answered lamely.

“You think this is acceptable behavior between two boys?”

“They’re just holdin’ hands.” Angel tried to defend, then suddenly felt a burst of anger. “You think it’s fine to kill people that owe you money. Big deal, I’m a boy and I like boys. Why is that what you have a problem with?!”

“What would your mother th-”

“Ma knew!” Angel snapped, snatching his drawing back. “She didn’t give a shit! She said I was perfect anyway!”

His father sighed, and shook his head. “I’ve arranged for you to see a doctor.”

Angel finally snapped back to himself on the floor of his room. He was at the hotel. He was part spider. Nuggets was laying on his foot and looking worried. He was dead. He was in Hell. His father’s decisions didn’t matter anymore and this time he knew it wasn’t his father that had gone through his shit. It didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t.

Angel stood up abruptly, taking no notice of the hot tears streaming down his face. He ripped blankets off of his bed and upended the frame. It made him feel somewhat better so he continued. He tore drawers out of the dresser. He yanked doors off of the cabinets. He tore down both window and shower curtains. Anything breakable that he could get his hands on wound up in pieces. He even pushed over his vanity, the mirror shattering with a crash and sending makeup all across the floor.

Nuggets’ terrified squeal was what finally broke him out of his destructive trance. They had hidden themself in a corner behind the bathroom door. Seeing his pig so scared of him, he deflated, all the rage falling out of him. He sniffled and knelt down.

“C’mere buddy. Daddy’s so sorry. You okay?”

Nuggets seemed to forgive him instantly, waddling right into his open arms. They weren’t hurt at all, just frightened. Angel knew he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if he hurt his pig, even on accident. He was ashamed as it was.

“I heard a ruckus up here.” Came a sudden, filtered voice from the open doorway.

Angel startled, holding onto his pet tighter, and looked up to see Alastor. He considered telling the Radio Demon to fuck off. He decided against it.

“Would you like to go somewhere else?” Alastor asked, looking around at the state of the room.

“Yes.” Angel answered quickly. He didn’t even care that he’d just got back. He wanted out again.

“I’ll meet you in the Lobby in… say twenty minutes?” Alastor said and turned to leave.

“Yeah… Yeah that sounds good.” Angel nodded, wiping his eyes and picking up some of what he’d scattered. He wasn’t going anywhere without fresh eyeliner at the very least. He clipped a leash to Nuggets too, figuring they could go wherever he did. If not, well, he was in the mood for a fight anyway.

It was with one foot out of the door that he suddenly remembered to check on the bag he’d stuck to the inside of the toilet. He didn’t think anyone would find it there. He also hadn’t thought anyone would go through his room and look at what happened.

The bag was gone.

“Son of a BIIIIITCH.” He roared, stomping out of his room. “Which one of you motherfuckin’ walrus asses went in my room and stole my shit?!”

Several people scattered but Charlie stepped forward. “It was me.”

“You.” Angel rounded on her. “Why the fuck-”

“Because I wanted to make sure you weren’t hiding anything. And you were.” She took the silk bag out of her pocket. “I confiscated this. It’s drugs, isn’t it? That’s why you’ve been in such a sudden good mood.” She spoke calmly, but in his emotional state, Angel only heard smug.

“Drugs. Yeah, sure.” He snatched the bag and held it out of Charlie’s reach. “You wanna know what’s in this, Princess?” He tore the bag open with his claws, a small wad of bills and a scrap of a photograph fell out. “It’s a fuckin’ safety net in case I need to get out of here, which clearly I do. I’m checking out.”

Charlie began to protest or apologize. Either way Angel didn’t care. He stuffed the bills and picture down his shirt and pushed past her to the desk where Husk sat staring. He reached over to grab one of the check-out forms. He signed his name more sloppy than he usually did, his hands shaking. He threw it back, picked Nuggets up despite the fact they were on-leash, and trudged out the door. He remembered a bit late that he said he would meet Alastor in the lobby, so he stayed in sight of the hotel, but he wasn’t putting a foot back in the building.

After a minute he guiltily wondered if he’d made Charlie cry. He hated when girls cried. It always reminded him of his sister. Charlie had made him feel unsafe though, so he tried not to give too much of a damn. She was in the wrong this time.

“That went rather dramatically.” Alastor commented dryly.

“She crossed a line.” Angel huffed. “So how about that errand? Still need a pretty face?”

Alastor’s grin widened. “Your timing couldn’t be more perfect!”

Chapter Text

It was a pretty easy job, Angel thought at first; Go over to a high ranking demon’s personal territory as a ‘gift from an anonymous friend’ and keep the bastard entertained for an hour. Literally all he had to do was keep the client in his room. He was even getting paid three times what he’d usually make in a week. What a steal!

Of course… The downside was that the job was Vox and if Angel was discovered to be just a distraction then he would probably be in for an underworld of pain. Or his career would be ruined. One of the two. He supposed it was a good thing he didn’t even actually know what Alastor was actually doing. Only giving Angel the information he needed to do his part of the job and nothing more. A classic case of Half-Blind Mouse. He couldn't take any blame if he didn’t know shit.

Another problem was that once Vox brought Angel to his room Angel saw a whole wall of tv screens showing off different rooms of the estate. Those would definitely not help anything. Angel hoped Alastor was aware that there were cameras everywhere because he had no way to tell him.

“Like them?” Vox asked, having noticed where Angel had his eyes.

“Yeah, they’re… thorough.” Angel grinned and tried to make a joke of of it. He took a seat on the edge of the bed and spread his legs. He was even careful tp position himself in a way so that Vox would have to face away from the cameras to get anywhere with him. “Got a camera in here too?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve been filmed.” Vox pointed out, poking Angel where his nose used to be.

“Hey, I ain’t complainin’ baby. I just want a copy.” Angel shrugged. “Anything special in mind? I take requests.”

Five minutes later saw Angel on his back and probably the most bored he’d ever been. Honestly, missionary? This was Hell. This was prostitution. He’d been paid for. It was okay to get weird. Make it interesting. Apparently the kinkiest thing Vox could think of was just self-congratulatory dirty talk which was funny but not helping in the slightest. Angel even pulled one of his legs up to his own shoulder to try getting a better angle but then Vox changed gears and somehow made it worse. They guy’s aim was worse than a blindfolded drunk playing darts.

Of course, Angel didn’t say any of this. He just made obscene noises to let Vox think he was doing anything and kept an eye on the wall of screens. It was difficult considering his current client's head was an actual box television wider than his shoulders, but Angel made do.

Alastor evidently did know about the cameras, because one by one all of the screens on the wall started to fizzle out into static. Not for the first time, Angel wondered what Alastor was even doing. He didn’t get to think on it long before Vox seemed to sense the disturbance in the screens behind him. It hadn’t nearly been an hour, so Angel tried to get his attention back on himself but Vox just shoved him away.

“You stay put, I’ve got to take care of a pest.” Vox gruffed, put his pants back on, and left the room in a flurry of cursing.

“Hey, you finally get rough and you’re just gonna leave me here?” Angel called after him, feigning anger but not actually caring. “Eh, you’re a boring bastard anyway.”

Angel waited a second to listen to Vox’s footsteps leave the immediate hall, then he hurriedly grabbed his clothes. He redressed in his outerwear, not wanting to waste time reclipping the lingerie he’d arrived in. Going commando was nothing new to him and his main concern now was getting as far as he could before Vox figured out he was actively involved in an act against him. Mortal demons could do enough damage and Angel had no wish to be at the mercy of one of the Hellborn ones. Charlie was an anomaly in how nice she was but other Hellborns weren’t so forgiving.

The hallways were a maze without a guide. The estate was too large and confusing and Angel would have just left through a window if not for the fact the ones he checked were sealed shut and he didn’t want to risk drawing attention by breaking one. He could have sworn the walls were moving.

He never did find the actual exit.

 

 

There was a large screen blasting white noise and tv static at one end of the room. In front of it was Alastor, staring blankly into the bright, flickering light. His cane lay on the floor beside him and he suddenly dropped to his knees, still staring. His body seemed to ripple and melt, growing and shifting. Bones audibly snapped and reformed as the Radio Demon's breathing grew labored. His body became more animalistic. His face stretched into a deer’s skull, his ribs protruded, and his antlers grew longer. Black sludge started to drip from his mouth. Still, his eyes never left the screen. It was apparent that his mind was currently absent.

Angel was in such a state of shock at seeing the shift that it took him a moment to realize Vox still hadn’t seen him in the doorway. He turned around, considering going back the way he came. No reason to get involved. He’d already been paid and this wasn’t his business. But then Alastor screamed and Angel knew he couldn’t just leave him there.

“Dammit,” He muttered to himself, and tried to decide on a plan that might not get both of them killed.

Clearly the light was the biggest problem. Vox was busy laughing like a cliche cartoon villain. Angel cursed himself under his breath and ran to Alastor, grabbing the deer’s skull and pulling it to his chest to block the light with his body. Instantaneously, Alastor snapped out of the trance. He shut his eyes and got to his feet, hooves at this point in time, and turned away from the screen. Angel shifted, not expecting a reaction so suddenly, but clung to Alastor’s neck as the deer fled from the room through a window.

“What the-?” Vox started, but Angel didn’t hear anything else past the crash of breaking glass.

Angel was glad he had four hands to hold on with because Alastor didn’t slow down until they’d made it to the outskirts of the other side of the city. As soon as they found shelter behind an overturned dumpster, Alastor collapsed. Being closer and actually having the time to look, it was a wonder he’d been able to run at all. There were several TV antennas poking through the warped deer body, and he’d practically been gutted. How that much damage had been done while Angel was lost in the mansion.

“I just saved your afterlife and you got to put your face in my fluffy tits for free. You better be fuckin grateful, pal.” Angel huffed, trying to comb drying sludge out of his fur with his fingers. He was trying to play the whole thing off as a mild inconvenience but his hands were shaking.

Alastor didn’t answer. He had passed out.

Chapter Text

Angel didn’t waste time pulling the antennas out of Alastor’s body while the Radio Demon was unconscious. He wasn’t a doctor by any means but he knew those couldn’t stay in and it would be better to remove them while Alastor couldn’t feel it. It was also lucky that Alastor wasn’t awake to see how Angel made his webs, which was embarrassing.

The simplest, and also most crude way to describe the way Angel made webs was that it both looked and felt like vomiting silk. Useful to help bandage up the wounds, but definitely Angel’s least favorite thing about his anatomy. He didn't hate it exactly, but he never did it in front of anyone.

Other than a few pained groans, Alastor showed no sign of waking. They couldn’t just stay behind a dumpster in a random alley, though, so Angel set to work dragging the other demon’s body by the antlers through an endless string of backstreets to avoid anyone seeing them. His own reputation had fallen far enough being in the Hotel. He didn’t need some sleazy tabloid shithead taking pictures and making up weird rumors.

“You know, you coulda waited til you turned back into your usual person-shaped self and made this a bit easier, but no.” Angel grumbled, having decided if he was going to continue helping that he could complain as much as he wanted. “Just had to be a bigass bambi spook.”

 

 

“Wahhappund?” Alastor wheezed when he came to, pulling his larger form into a smaller humanoid one. It took more effort than he was used to and hurt fiercely.

“Huh.” A high voice sounded from somewhere to Alastor’s left. He looked over to see an upside-down Angel. No, wait. Angel was right-side-up. Alastor was flat on his back on a too-soft bed. “That’s a new accent. You get fucked up so bad you changed personality too?”

“I’m from N’Orleans.” Alastor said as he sat up, then made the mental switch from his natural Cajun to the voice he used for Radio and almost everything else. “But I am also a performer! I would never have been hired as a Host if I didn’t sound like one.”

“You sound fine t’me.” Angel shrugged. “But hey, what do I know?”

Alastor didn’t quite know how to respond to that, so he didn’t. Instead he looked down at the bloody silk bandages he had shrunk out of when he shifted, then at the unfamiliar room. He didn’t remember how he’d got there. The last thing he remembered was dismantling most of Vox’s Network with the intention to replace it with his own, then sharp pains spearing through his body. After that was just a bright white blank.

“Where are we?” Alastor asked.

“Crack House.” Angel replied.

“Oh. A drug den. Of course, I almost forgot who I was with. How silly of me.”

“Not a crackhouse. Crack House. It’s uh… where I used to work before I got big.” Angel explained.

Knowing more than enough about Angel’s idea of work, Alastor vacated the bed as swiftly as he could, aggravating most of his injuries in the process.

“Oh relax. They bleach everything hourly.” Angel chuckled.

“Why are we in a brothel?” Alastor demanded with a discomforted shudder.

“Because I know the people here and it was the closest place to where you hit the ground that I knew would be safe for us.” Angel defended.

“I hit the…” Alastor trailed off, thoughtful. “You saved me.”

“Yeah, you almost got us royally trashed and I’m amazin’. If you get all weepy about it I’m leavin’.” Angel joked. “You’re heavy as shit, by the way.”

Alastor fell quiet for a long time. Long enough for it to be uncomfortable. The failure meant his ego had taken quite a blow and his botched plan meant he couldn’t try again any time soon because now he had Vox’s attention. Vox would most likely publicize the attempted takeover and that would get other Higher Demons attention as well. He would need to lay low for decades.

Then there was Angel, whom he’d thought of as a tool to use to meet a goal. Surely Angel knew this. Angel could have left him for whatever would be death after dying, but he hadn’t. Angel had saved him and taken him to a sanctuary of sorts. There had even been a clear attempt at medical attention which was shoddy at best, but had given him a chance for his skin to knit back together and his organs to regenerate. He wasn’t completely healed, of course, since he was still in pain and standing was starting to make him feel woozy. He sat back down on the edge of the bed before he made himself look foolish by tipping over.

“I’ve never seen you not smile before.” Angel stated, pulling Alastor from his thoughts.

“Blame it on the internal bleeding.” Alastor beamed, plastering on his grin. “It won’t happen again!”

“Nah, I think it’s kinda nice. Lets me know there’s actually a person in there instead of just a creep-machine.” Angel mused aloud, then shook his head. “Well you’re awake now so you don’t need me to be here to watch your ass. I’m gonna beat it. This room’ll keep for another day while you heal the rest of the way.”

Angel stood and moved toward the door.

“Wait.” Alastor said quickly, before he could stop himself. He hadn’t meant to; his mouth just worked without him.

Angel stopped, raising a curious brow.

Alastor for once didn’t know what to say. He usually had everything planned out to the letter. Even if things with Vox went south, which they had, he’d been prepared to be erased while Angel left to save himself. But Angel had saved him. Angel stayed with him for who knows how long while he healed. Angel helped him heal. Alastor was so used to being reliant solely on himself and knowing how selfish other demons were that he’d never planned for Angel, who even now was still waiting for him to say something.

“Don’t feel safe by yourself, huh?” Angel guessed, when Alastor had stayed quiet for too long. “I guess I don’t have to leave right this second.” Angel admitted, sitting back down.

Unable to think of anything else, Alastor simply said, “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

The two couldn’t stay at the Crack House for too long. Angel had to get back to Nuggets and in not-as-many words, Alastor had things to do. Both Nuggets and things were at Alastor’s home under the Radio Tower, so they made their way there as soon as Alastor was able to walk without assistance. He still needed to rely heavily on his cane, but carrying a cane at all times meant no one thought it odd when he actually used it for support.

Alastor’s home was a small, but neat place. At least in the living space. The kitchen was a nightmare and Angel hadn’t seen the bedroom. The basement was a bit of a mess, but only because Nuggets had been down there by themself for days. They definitely needed a bath but other than being a bit hungry and annoyed at being left alone, they were fine.

“Sorry about your floor…” Angel muttered to Alastor.

“Oh that’s alright. I expected as much. The pig is a pig.” Alastor shrugged, picking through a rack of jars mounted on the wall. “You’re cleaning up after it, though.”

“Later. I’m bushed…” Angel started to sprawl on a plush chair next to a desk covered in more wires than he could count.

”Now.” Said Alastor sternly. “Before it gets any worse.”

“Okay. Damn. I’ll clean it up now. Where’s your mop?”

 

 

After the basement was spotless and Nuggets had had a bath, then Angel was allowed to relax, though not in the chair near the desk. Alastor took that one, donning a pair of headphones and turning various dials on a complicated looking box on the desk. Angel was curious of course, but Alastor seemed the sort of focused that had no patience for distraction.

Next to Alastors arm was a jar that Angel had originally assumed to be homemade moonshine or something similar, but when he looked closer he noticed there was an eye in it. From further away it had looked like a maraschino cherry, but no. Definitely an eye.

“Yeesh…” Angel grimaced when Alastor took an unbothered sip from the jar.

Well this was Hell. Even the demons who seemed nice enough had to be fucked up somehow. At least the eye didn’t belong to anyone he knew. At least that he was aware of. Hopefully.

Angel wasn’t sure if he should take Nuggets and leave or not. He didn’t really have anywhere specific to ho. The Happy Hotel had put an end to his job while he was gone but he didn’t know if he could just go back to porn acting without some sort of hassle. Sure he had a reputation in the industry, but if somebody new had taken his spot that wouldn’t mean much. If you got pushed out of a top spot it was hard to get it back. At least there was always prostitution.

Angel did leave the basement, then the house. He didn’t leave the immediate area, instead leashing Nuggets to a shrub. He scaled the wall of the house and sat on the roof, appreciating the faint buzz he could feel radiating from the radio tower. He dug through his pockets to find a half burnt-out cigarette he had found on the ground a while ago. He lit it with a flip lighter from a different pocket and took a long drag. It didn’t last long enough.

A siren went off in the distance, signalling an extermination had begun. It was too far to worry about, so Angel stayed where he was. He laid back, staring up through the gaps in the radio tower. There was no sky in hell, just a void. No stars, even out away from the city. The only thing from above they ever say were greyed out Angels on their ways to erase demons so there would be room for more. Every few days another section of Hell was blocked off and cleared out. He hoped Cherri was okay. And the people at the Hotel… And his family.

Footsteps on the roof caught his attention and turned his head to see Alastor approaching. Angel sat up, almost standing before Alastor sat down next to him, not touching but near enough to feel some sort of confusing closeness.

“Looking for stars?” Alastor asked.

“Baby I am a star.” Angel grinned. “Who needs little spots of light? Just toss some glitter on me.”

Alastor’s smile lessened, but that somehow made it look more real. There was something in his eyes too that Angel couldn’t place. He got the feeling that he had made Alastor laugh even though the Radio Demon hadn’t made a sound. It made Angel feel a strange sort of warm to see.

“I have to say I much prefer fireflies to stars. They were so much closer.” Alastor held a hand out in front of him, as if trying to catch a small insect that didn’t exist.

“Got a thing for bugs, huh?” Angel joked, gesturing to himself with all four hands.

Alastor rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I’m sure you’re quite fetching with the right lighting.”

“You callin’ me ugly now?” Angel challenged, though without any real offense taken.

“You have been without proper hygiene for a few days. Your fur is stained.”

“With your blood.” Angel pointed out, then purred. “Ain’t the worst thing that's stained my fur. You shoulda seen me after-”

Alastor stood up quickly, the false, too-wide smile covering up the real one that had been there before. “I’m leaving.”

“No, wait.” Angel said, and crossed all of his arms to make a show of keeping his hands to himself. “I’ll shut up. I forgot you’re a prude for a second.”

“Since when have you ever cared about others’ boundaries?” Alastor asked.

“Longer than you’d think.” Angel defended. “Fuck, I know I’m a slut but I’m not…” Angel paused, remembering a few of his own less than gold star behaviours. “Okay sometimes I’m pushy and can’t always take a hint right away but I sure as hell understand a clear ‘No.’ when I hear it.”

Alastor turned his back on Angel. “It’ll always be no wit’ me.” He said quietly, dropping the Radio Voice.

“Hey, I get that. I’m not your type.” Angel shrugged, and was confused by the sudden cold feeling it brought to his heart. He usually didn’t enjoy rejection, though, so he chalked the feeling up to the blow to his vanity.

“It ain’t you specific’ly.” Alastor corrected, and left the roof as a shadow.

Chapter Text

Angel spent a week couch surfing with Cherri, then moved on to trading sex for safe places to sleep. It was just until he got back on his feet. He had to re-establish himself in the porn industry and that took time even when he had a reputation already. He had to save up enough to get his own apartment and be able to make himself look and feel presentable before getting back into serious business.

As expected there was a pretty new face on all the latest dirty magazines. She was some sort of cat, like a lion or something, and Angel could respect a fellow whore. That didn’t mean he appreciated her taking his spotlight. Checking on the latest films yielded the same exact situation. The new girl even had a line of greeting cards. Angel wondered how he hadn’t thought of that. Sure, he’d had autographed pictures, but those weren’t as fun as cards.

Oh well. At least he could do whatever he wanted now that he was free from the Happy Hotel. No Vaggie threatening him. No Husk making rude remarks. No Charlie… He knew he probably made Charlie cry. Even though she was the one in the wrong didn’t make him feel better about it. Heaven, she had probable cause. She went through his room because she didn’t trust him and who could blame her? Angel wouldn’t trust himself either.

Every now and again Angel considered going back to the Hotel, but then he’d find something to eat, smoke, snort, or even inject and remind himself the Hotel wasn’t any fun. He belonged high out of his mind in the arms of some stranger whose face he would forget within the hour. He belonged in the midst of gunfire and explosions and laughter. He belonged where nobody could tell him what to do and what not to do. Even if that meant curled up in a corner, shivering and puking his guts out.

Angel had died the first time this way, but you couldn’t die of an overdose in Hell. You just had to wait through the effects and hope you passed out before it got too bad. No such luck this time. Angel was awake and had to feel the sharp pain in his chest, the fever, the seizures. He told himself that it was fine, once he was coherent again, that his tolerance would return and he wouldn’t fuck up again. He knew he should have started slow to begin with but he’d never had strong impulse control.

It wasn’t long before a black van pulled up to Angel, two demons pulling him into the back of it. Angel just let it happen. He knew who the van belonged too and he was too tired to bother fighting the abduction. Once he’d sat up, several familiar arms came to crush him.

“Angel! It’s been forever!”

“Hey Molly…”

 

 

Charlie was trying. She really was. It was hard though. Nobody who checked into her Hotel wanted to stay very long and since Angel left there were fewer even checking in in the first place. Alastor helped keep the place funded, so it wasn’t out of business, but she got the feeling that the Hotel was quickly becoming a failure.

She’d also been tearing herself up inside over Angel leaving. It was her own fault. It didn’t matter that Husk’s words had gotten to her. It didn’t matter that Vaggie agreed. Charlie had been the one to betray Angel’s trust when he hadn’t done anything wrong. If she had just left his room alone then he would still be around. He might have even been saved by now. Even if he was never a resident, she still thought of him as a friend.

“Do put on a smile, dear. I’m sure Angel is happier now. You know how trapped he felt.” Alastor encouraged, though it only served to make Charlie feel worse.

“I didn’t mean to make him feel trapped at all. I just wanted him to be happy. I want everyone to be happy.” Charlie explained.

“I don’t think any demon can really be happy.” Husk grumbled. “Hell isn’t supposed to be happy. Should’ve just opened a casino or somethin’.”

Vaggie set a glare on Husk before pulling Charlie under her arm. “You tried. You’re still trying. That’s what counts, isn’t it?”

Charlie looked around at her girlfriend’s encouraging smile, Alastor’s somewhat unsettling one, and Husk’s indifference, and decided two out of three wasn’t bad. Sure, the Hotel was failing, but it hadn’t failed yet. There was time to turn it around. This could still work.

Chapter Text

“Dad wants to see you.” Molly explained as the car moved.

“Yeah I figured. What for this time? Somethin’ stupid, I bet.” Angel sniffled, scratching through his fur. “Can’t it wait til my body stops trying to fuckin’ die again? I think my heart went and exploded. I hurt too much to be talkin’ to anybody.”

“He said he wants you close so he can protect you.”

“Bull-”

“Vox set a bounty on you. You’re not on the news yet but Dad knows people.”

“Oh…” Angel winced. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”

“The Radio Demon’s got a bounty now too, but he’s too big for anybody to actually do anything to him.”

Angel sighed heavily, and pushed himself off of the seat to lay down on his back in the footwell of the car. He shut his eyes and covered them with two hands, while the others rested idly on his stomach. Molly watched him with a frown.

“I know Dad did you wrong before, but he’s been real sorry. He misses you, Angel. He really does.” Molly said softly, reaching to pet her brother’s hair. “He wants you to be safe.”

“Right.” Angel laughed bitterly, letting one hand fall from his face to join the others on his stomach. His remaining hand pointed to his left eye, the one blacked out. “He didn’t keep me safe from a fuckin’ lobotomy. He didn’t keep me safe from bein’ shocked forty fuckin’ times an hour.” Angel sat up, reaching for the handle of the door despite the car moving at a high speed. He got the door open, not really caring if he fell out and got caught under the wheels. He’d just regenerate. Sure it would be a slow and painful process, but it was better in his mind than having to face his father after decades of avoiding him.

Molly didn’t let that happen. She yanked him back, shutting the door.

“What the Heaven, Angel?!”

“I don’t wanna be under Dad’s dirty boot again! I’d rather be roadmaimed. Besides, if Alastor’s on a hitlist, he should know.”

"The Radio Demon'll be fine! Prob'ly!" Molly assured, then turned to tap the driver. "Hey, put the child lock on the back doors, will ya?"

There was an audible click and Angel groaned, collapsing back into the floorboard and rolling onto his side. "Just for that, I'm gonna chuck on your shoes."

Molly picked her feet up quickly just as Angel started to vomit. Again.

 

 

Alastor was concerned. He did not often feel concerned, but every now and then he would see a screen flicker as he passed a display on the street. He had healed and would be fine, of course, he was sure of that much. Still, he didn't like the feeling of being watched. Screens were everywhere, he noticed.

Alastor also hadn't seen Angel Dust since the spider had left his radio tower and while he was loathe to admit it, he was worried about Angel's wellbeing. He couldn't help constantly thinking back to their talk on the roof. They had both been in pain and filthy and so very tired, but Angel was… not alive but lively, and so incredibly genuine.

Alastor was a mask of smiles and bravado but just for a moment he had let Angel see past the Radio Demon and instead of being disappointed or fearful, Angel had simply seen a man. His brow furrowed and his smile widened in annoyance. He needed a distraction. He wasn't a man anymore, he reminded himself. The man had died. He was a demon now, and demons did not get attached to others. Demons did not worry.

Luckily for him, a distraction dropped right in front of him.

Charlie found Alastor later down in the hotel kitchens, a gagged and struggling lesser demon strung upside down from the ceiling. They had been skinned and their organs were in a bucket next to the corner.

"Alastor!" Charlie said, annoyed and surprised. "What are you doing?!"

"Cooking!" Alastor replied cheerfully as he continued his task of stripping muscle from bone, laying the pieces out on wax paper on the counter. A large pot already sat bubbling on the stovetop, and there was a warm sweet scent coming from inside the oven. "I know you can buy meat at any old market but then how do you know where it's been?"

"How do you know where this one's been?" Charlie countered.

"Easy! He's fresh from earth and just dropped in."

"Then we should be welcoming!" Charlie huffed, untying the lesser demon and lowering them gently to the floor, dumping the bucket of organs back into the cavity of his body and making an effort to put everything back where it should be. "I'm so sorry about this."

The mangled demon, for his part, could only wheeze painfully.

Alastor rolled his eyes, "Oh, you're no fun."

"What's got into you, Alastor? You were getting better lately." Charlie sighed. "Don't tell me I'm failing you too now…"

"I was never getting better, Charlie. Just less bored." Alastor said, and pointed to the one on the floor. "Though you might be relieved to know that belongs in the lowest circle and I'm not doing anything worse than he would get that far down. It's a mercy, really."

"Is it really mercy?" Charlie asked, a bite to her words that she didn't normally have. "Or did you just need to let off some steam? Do you feel better?"

Alastor didn't respond. He just watched Charlie drag the injured away, trailing a large smear of blood as they went. Oh well, he'd taken off enough meat to get a decent gumbo started and he knew Niffty would be around to clean up within the next twenty minutes or so anyway. He did not feel remorse for his actions, but Charlie's accusation rang in his head. He didn't feel better. He just felt hungry like always.

Some traitorous voice in the back of his head pointed out that he hadn't felt hungry with Angel around.

Chapter Text

"All the fuss you put up about bein' a boy," Henroin said as his wayward son was brought before him. "And you come back to me wearin' a fuckin' skirt."

"The facial hair evens it out." Angel quipped, scruffing up the fur on his face. "See?"

"So what's this shit I been hearin' about you turnin' tricks in movies?" Henroin continued, not amused in the slightest. "Indecent, is what that is."

"I know! Like I lost my damn mind or somethin', ain't it?" Angel quipped bitterly, pointing to his blacked out left eye. "Must be the hole in my head. Right up in the eye socket. It's a wonder I had enough brains left to kill myself after that!" Angel laughed, but it was cold; Forced.

"Angel!" Molly started to scold, but the much larger and more beastly spider raised one of his many hands to silence her.

"I know we haven't been the closest, Angel. That don't mean you ain't still part of the family." Henroin shifted in his chair, reaching toward an end table and opening the drawer. He took a piece of paper out and waved it a bit. "I got word that you went foolin' around with the TV network king himself. He ain't too happy that you and that other kook stole his shit."

"I didn't try to steal nothin'!" Angel corrected. "I was just the decoy. The plan failed anyway. I don't see why the jackass has his panties up in a bunch about it."

"It's a matter of makin' an example." Henroin pressed his fingers to where the bridge of a nose would have been if he had a nose at all. "You should know that from livin' with me since you was born."

"Well you always nagged about me never listenin' to you." Angel huffed. "Then you went and had my head scrambled!"

"I was tryin' to help you!"

"You were tryin' to change me!"

"Can you two stop arguing for five seconds?" Arackniss spoke up from his seat near a corner, having stayed silent until now. He was softspoken, but in a way that demanded attention. "Dad, you can't force Angel to stay. He has to want to. You aren't making it easy for him to want to. Just…" Arackniss trailed off, staring at the wall. "Let it go. It's done. It doesn't matter anymore. We're dead too, Angel."

"It still matters a lot to me." Angel said, sounding much more seriously.

"I'm tryin' to keep you safe. Whether you believe me or not." Said Henroin.

"I don't feel safe around you." Angel crossed both sets of arms and looked toward the floor.

"Angel, please." Molly asked, but her twin just shook his head.

"No."

"Do you have somewhere else safe to go?" Arackniss asked.

Angel had been staying by himself in a studio apartment, but it wasn't well protected. He could probably always back to Val but the more he considered that option the less it appealed to him. His old pimp might be able to protect him, sure, but the emotional cost had always been too high. He thought of the Radio Tower, but he didn't want to invite himself somewhere he may not be welcomed without invitation; He knew Alastor tolerated him at best. That left one place.

"Yeah. We gotta swing by my place to get my pig and then you can drop me off at the Happy Hotel." Angel decided.

Henroin scoffed, but Arackniss stood and grabbed his keys from a hook on the wall. Molly grabbed her purse and followed suit.

"Do you have to keep throwin' how you died in Dad's face?" Molly asked when she and her brothers were back in the car. "It hurt us too, you know."

"Why shouldn't I? It's his damn fault." Angel answered bitterly, but some concern for his siblings did show on his face.

"Did you actually do it on purpose?" Arackniss felt the need to ask.

"I don't know." Angel shrugged, a phantom pain suddenly shooting behind his left eye as he thought about his death and how numb and lost he had felt the weeks before. "Nah, I don't think I could'a strung enough thoughts together at the time to really want to die. I just knew getting high let me feel something and dippin' in what we was dealin' was an easy way to get as much as I wanted. Just overdid it that last time…"

Molly leaned over to hug Angel. Arackniss wasn't as physical, but he did awkwardly pat his little brother's shoulder which was just as appreciated. They had both died quickly in a shootout and couldn't truly understand the torment of being physically alive but so completely extinguished on the inside. Angel couldn't hold that against them, but the bad blood between he and his father was just too deep to trudge through. It had been Henroin that signed over his rights to some shady doctors in the first place.

"Hey at least dyin' made me me again!" Angel tried to lighten the mood, having felt his sister start to tremble. He didn't want her to cry. "Now everybody down here has to deal with me and there ain't shit they can do about it."

"I still think you should stay with us." Arackniss grunted. "Are you sure that pansy hotel is safe?"

"It's run by the princess and the Radio Demon. If anybody touches it Lucifer'll probably lose his shit." Angel chuckled. "Room's free, too."

"Cheap bitch." Molly teased.

"You know it!" Angel agreed.

When they arrived at the hotel, Angel felt a wave of melancholy wash over him. He hadn't left on the best terms and even though he knew Charlie was the forgiving sort, he didn't want things to be awkward. There was also the high possibility of Alastor lurking around the property and the chance of running into the wendigo made Angel nervous even though he couldn't place an exact reason for it.

"Come in with me?" Angel asked, then realized how vulnerable he sounded. "Help me carry my shit, would you?"

Molly, of course, saw right through him. She said nothing though, grabbing one suitcase as Arackniss grabbed another. Angel carried only Nuggets and a bag of clothes. It took a lot more effort to step into the lobby than the last time; He knew exactly what he was signing up for this time around.

Chapter Text

“Ho. Ly. Shit.” Said Husk from his place at the front desk. “The bastard came back.”

That was the only warning Angel got before he was tackled to the floor in a bone-crushing hug by the Hotel’s founding demon princess. There was the click of cocking guns from both of his siblings as they levelled matching tommy guns at Charlie, which prompted Vaggie to draw her own spear. Nuggets, freed from Angel’s arms, began squalling and running around while Niffty began to chase after them before they could make too much of a mess.

“Okay, everybody. Calm yer tits!” Angel said quickly from his place on the floor. “Hold yer fire, I’m fine. She’s just a hugger.” He specified to his brother and sister. “Charlie, get off of me, would’ja?”

“Oh! Yeah. Sorry.” Charlie said, getting up and helping Angel up. “I just didn’t expect to see you again. Ever.” She looked over at the other spiders and grinned. “Oh you must be Angel’s family. Nice… guns.” She said nervously, only realizing a little late that she could have been shot. It likely wouldn’t do much more than inconvenience her, but it would still be painful for a moment at least. “Are you two here to check in as well?”

“Fuck, no.” Arackniss answered as Molly giggled.

“No, we just wanted to come in and see.” Molly said, knowing Angel had asked for their presence while settling in for his own comfort, but knowing her twin well enough to not give him away.

“Just me.” Angel confirmed. “Here, go ahead and go through my shit. At least I’m expecting it this time.” He gestured to his suitcases, which his siblings set down. “Only contraband in there is about half a dozen dildos.”

Arackniss promptly kicked the suitcase he’d been carrying across the floor, disgusted. Molly giggled.

“Relax, buddy. I’m kidding.” Angel chuckled. “I only packed two.”

“I’m going back to the car.” Arackniss huffed, but hugged his little brother on his way out. “Stay safe, kiddo.”

“Get bent!” Angel called after him, though he meant it in an endearing way. “So, Cha-cha, you gonna bring me the check-in book or what?”

“Oh! You’re actually…” Charlie said, stumbling over her surprise. “Wow! Uh, welcome back! Husk!”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m getting the book.” Husk grunted, turning around and giving a halfhearted flap of his wings to reach a notebook kept above the bar. He handed it over to Vaggie, who reluctantly passed it to Charlie, who passed it to Angel.

Angel signed into the first guest-page, then a copy of the sins file page, actually taking time to check the boxes for his most common vices; Hedonism and violence. It was more care than he had put in the first time, when he hadn't really thought about it. He'd thought it through this time.

"You're actually serious?" Vaggie asked incredulously.

"Well I need somewhere to stay, don't I?" Angel deflected.

"That's not good enough! Charlie-" Vaggie began.

"Let him stay." Charlie spoke over Vaggie. "It was my fault he left."

"Just like that, huh?" Molly raised a brow, taking the file from her brother to look it over. She read it through, finding the idea less and less apealling the more she read. "Oh, ugh… I'll stay with Dad. Oh, but you have fun Angie!"

"Not likely." Angel huffed. "Oh, hey before the crazies take 'em from me." He fished a bag of assorted pills out of his shirt, swallowed half of them dry, and handed the rest over to his sister before giving her a hug and nudging her toward the door. "Waste not, whatever."

Molly frowned but wished him well as she left, lingering at the door for a moment before pulling it closed behind her. Angel was a bit melancholic to see her go, but knew it was for the best.

Vaggie pinched the bridge of her nose, not looking forward to dealing with Angel while he was on whatever cocktail he just put into his stomach. She let out a deep sigh and put her focus toward herding the spider toward his room before the high actually hit him. Charlie followed close behind.

"Is Al around? I gotta talk to him." Angel asked, his singular pupil already starting to dilate.

"He's been in a mood." Charlie said.

"I gotta." Angel reiterated.

"Not while high." Vaggie warned. "You get handsy and you know it."

"No, I can behave." Angel frowned. "I just need to tell him somethin' then I'll leave him alone. Important shit."

"Should have thought of that before taking whatever poppers you just took." Vaggie scolded.

"No, those are important too cuz I gotta talk to him and then I gotta pass out before he gets mad at me." Angel explained, already regretting taking as much as he had. He likely wouldn't even remember any conversation he had in the next hour, but he hadn't wanted to waste the mixed drugs he'd had on him. They were expensive.

"Why would he get mad?" Charlie asked. "What happened?"

"Can't tell you. Gotta be Al." Angel tapped his head. "S'a secret, babe."

"That's not comforting." Vaggie grunted, managing to steer Angel up the stairs and toward the room he'd stayed in before.

"You kept my room?" Angel asked, noting when the door opened that everything was the same as before he'd thrown and broken everything. The vanity had even been replaced.

"Charlie's sentimental." Vaggie shrugged. "Sleep off the shit you took."

"Where's my pig?"

"Niffty's probably cleaning it. She'll bring it up later with your luggage." Charlie assured.

"I need to talk to Al." Angel repeated, forgetting he had already asked to do so.

"You said that already. Do it later." Vaggie said, pushing Angel toward his bed

"Where's my pig?" Angel looked around, wobbling a bit. "Nuggets? Come back to daddy!"

"Go to bed, Angel." Charlie said softly. "Everything'll be here when you wake up. Okay?"

"Yeah… Yeah okay." Angel finally accepted, pulling back a blanket to flop face first onto the bed.

"Bucket?" Charlie asked Vaggie, pushing Angel to lay on his side once she realized he wasn't going to move on his own.

"Bucket." Vaggie agreed with a sigh. "If he doesn't throw up, I'll eat my bow."

Chapter Text

Charlie had said that she would have Alastor stop by Angel's room once Angel had sobered up and levelled out. For that, despite how bad his shakes and migraines got, Angel actually managed to behave. Sadly it took weeks for him to even glimpse Alastor, who seemed to vanish every time Angel so much as made eye contact with him. It was annoying to say the least.

"I gotta talk to you dammit!" Angel called after the wendigo's shadow, which always seemed to linger a few seconds longer than the demon it belonged to.

Alastor clearly did not want to talk to Angel. Angel, after a few days, bitterly decided that was fine. The flake could just deal with Vox by himself if it came down to that and Angel would have plenty enough to deal with when the shakes and migraines started up again. They started up with a vengeance, it seemed, along with constant agonizing itching and temperature fluxuations. Nausea seemed to be the worst of it so far.

Charlie, mercifully had learned through other patrons that quitting anything completely could not be done cold turkey and set up an allowance system for Husk's bar. Good behavior was rewarded with points that could be spent in exchange for a certain amount of alcohol or marijuana. Harder drugs were still considered contraband but at least there was something within reach to give Angel some relief. It wasn't nearly enough but it was more than nothing.

Sometimes Angel even went to the bar, but for some reason he couldn't quite place it was just easier to stay in his room with his pig. Going downstairs took effort and someone always just had to point out that he looked tired or that he was shivering or sweating or that his pig was trying to eat the carpet and that it was rude to just let your pet do that. So Angel just stopped leaving his room for anything other than to let Nuggets outside to shit.

It wasn't all bad though. Even suffering through having to perceive everything around him with a clear head, sometimes he'd have an oddly pleasant tactile hallucination. Usually it was after a particularly painful heave or during a very strong sob Angel would think he felt something gently petting his hair or brushing his fur. It was strange but also so comforting that he didn't mind.

 

 

 

 

When not in the kitchens trying to sate his perpetual starvation that seemed to have increased two-fold, Alastor was in his home under the Radio Tower, tuning into his various bugs he'd hidden all over Hell. The ones he focused on the most were at the Hotel since it seemed to be the only place new enough to not bore him.

Alastor knew Angel Dust had returned to the Hotel. Besides seeing him both in person and through shadows, Alastor still had a microphone in the room Angel stayed in. A click of a dial and Alastor could hear everything in the room.

He hated the crying.

Usually Alastor delighted in the sounds of pain, torture, and general discomfort. Screaming in particular was a favorite and crying was a very pleasant sort of audible seasoning. Coming from Angel's voice it was just grating. Irritating, if Alastor were asked to pick a word. It made him feel a bit useless and he had no idea how to stop that feeling when it really sank in. Rationally he knew he could just turn the dial to a different microphone or put his headphones away. He didn't want to.

Instead he turned in his chair to open a drawer. It was covered in various sigils and filled with dolls, each one resembling a demon Alastor had reason to work with, and a few left blank. He chose one of the blank ones and set it down gently on his desk and opened another drawer. It had bits and bundles of labelled hair, scales, and skin. A few strands of white fur is what he picked out. He set those next to the blank doll.

Reaching under his desk, and momentarily catching an antler in the headphone cord in the process, he retrieved a shortbread cookie tin that was actually filled with various sewing supplies. Since the doll was already white he didn't have to waste time dying it any other color, which was convenient. He opened up the open seam in the back, wrapping the hair in a bit of pink string before placing it inside. He filled the doll the rest of the way with sand before sewing it up, then ripping two arms from another blank doll to attach to the important one.

It was a bit awkward for Alastor to sew with his right hand, but he felt that he couldn't make this particular effigy lefthanded; This one wasn't for those Spirits. Embroidery, he found, was extremely difficult to do when working with an unpracticed hand. Normally voodoo dolls only needed form and a bit of the person they were made to represent. It would have been quick work if not for the fact Alastor felt the need to make it a perfect likeness.

By the time the doll was finished, Alastor could hear muffled retching letting him know Angel was in the bathroom. Probably filthy. Alastor grimaced and took a small doll's brush from his sewing kit, running it over the stringy 'fur' of the new toy he'd spent far too much time on. The retching suddenly didn't sound so painful, so Alastor kept it up until the room grew quiet.

Alastor listened awhile longer to the sound of shaky breathing before he took his headphones off and put the doll down.

"What am I doing?" He asked quietly to nobody at all.

Chapter Text

When Angel finally did see Alastor, the Radio demon was already waiting for him in his room, absently staring out of the window. Angel cursed and jumped, crawling partially backward up the wall in surprise. He had only gone out to walk Nuggets and didn't think he'd been gone from his room long enough to warrant a surprise. Also he never left his door unlocked. There was also the matter of the bad case of tremors making him a bit more irritable than usual.

"Fuckin' spook! How the heaven did you get in here?" Angel hissed. "Scared the shit outta me!"

“You’ve seen me destroy an armoured dirigible without even touching it. The fact you think I can be stopped by a mere door is laughable.” Alastor pointed out, then chuckled as he retrieved a small trinket from his pocket. “I have a skeleton key to the entire hotel.”

“Of course you do.” Angel sighed. “Okay, lemme rephrase. Why are you in my room? I thought you were avoiding me.”

“Oh, I was.” Alastor agreed, his brilliant smile dimming a bit. “It wasn’t fixing anything.”

“What’s to fix?” Angel asked bluntly.

“...Me, I s’pose.” Alastor said with a shrug, dropping his false Radio accent. “Y’could’ve left me behind and feigned ign’rance, sha. Now we’re both in de pot.”

“So you already know. Been tryin' to tell you. I don’t even know why I did that.” Angel admitted. “I guess I panicked?”

“Your panic response was to help me rather than run, then drag me to a safer space to tend to me medically?” Alastor deadpanned, the false accent back as his grin widened.

“Oh cut that shit out.” Angel scowled. “You kept runnin' from me every time I tried to talk to you for weeks! You take the damn mask off if you want a real conversation with me and quit actin’ all superior.”

Alastor flinched under Angel’s harsh tone before he let his expression relax. He sat down on Angel’s bed, looking toward the floor instead of meeting the other’s eyes. He said nothing.

Angel let the annoyance drain from him, relaxing as well. He sat down at his vanity instead of beside the wendigo as a rare show of respect of boundaries; He had come to realize that keeping some distance with Alastor was less to do with disgust to be taken personally and more to do with an aversion to being touched unexpectedly by anyone.

“What’s that you called me? Sha? That mean somethin’?” Angel asked, his voice softening.

“Slipped out.” Alastor deflected, but he was back to using his real, unfiltered and natural voice.

“Why are you really in my room, huh? I know it can’t just be for shits and giggles.”

Alastor didn’t answer. He didn’t know how to. Sincerity wasn’t his strong suit and he wasn’t sure how to put his recent thoughts into words that would be well understood. He shifted on the bed, turning and laying flat on his back. He waved his hand, hesitation barely noticeable.

“Lay wi’ me a while.”

“What?” Angel gawked, not expecting the invitation at all.

“I don’t wannu have sex wi’chu.” Alastor was quick to clarify, seeing the gears in the spider’s head turn the wrong direction.

Angel hesitated before acquiescing, stepping up onto the bed and over the other demon to take up space by the wall; He didn’t want to risk Alastor feeling like he was blocked in. He laid down on his back, keeping both sets of his hands to himself and visibly crossed over his stomach. For a moment both of them just stared up at the ceiling and said nothing. They didn’t touch each other, though Angel's shivering could be felt through the mattress. It was almost a comfortable silence, if not for the radio interference that always hung around Alastor. The static and occasional scattered note of music kept Angel fully aware of who he was with and how strange it was to be in this situation.

“So… Al.” Angel waited for the other to correct his name, but the shortening of it went unchallenged. “Not for nothin’ but if you ain’t in here to fuck me then I’m lost. You need another distrac-”

“No.” Alastor cut him off, but didn’t elaborate.

“A fuck’s all I’m really good for.” Angel huffed. “Considerin’ I’m off the drugs and I’m not supposed to be manifestin’ guns on Hotel grounds.”

“I...Hmm…” Alastor fumbled over his words, and the fact was so strange that Angel had to prop himself up onto two of his elbows to look at the other demon currently sharing his bed properly.

“Just spit it out, Al.” Angel encouraged. “You know I ain’t got the right to judge shit.”

“I can’t get you out my head and for once I think killin’ you may not be de answer.” Alastor blurted as he had been instructed. "Not de best at new things."

“Oh.” Angel answered dumbly, not sure what he had been expecting. “Sounds like you got a crush, babe.”

“I don’t wannu have sex wi’chu.” Alastor repeated, squinting up at the spider.

“Nobody said you have to.” Angel rolled his eyes. “Though I can’t imagine why me if you ain’t in it for an easy screw.”

“Vulgar.” Alastor scolded tiredly.

“Prude.” Angel scoffed. “And you’re full of shit. C'mon, me? You lost your fuckin' mind.”

“You’re honest.” Alastor said simply. “Not wi’ everyone, but always to yourself. It’s admirable.”

“Tried lyin’ to myself enough while I was alive jus’ tryin’ to keep the peace. Got sick of it and died.” Angel shrugged, rolling onto his stomach and resting his head on one of his hands. “I think endin’ up in Hell may have been the best thing to happen to me. There’s nothin’s worse to threaten me with, you know? Except maybe whatever happens when some Heavenly Square sticks a spear in us. But that’s not even a punishment, it’s just… a thing that happens when you get unlucky. There's nothin' left to threaten me with. Why you still feel the need to play yourself as a smilin’ snob, aside from politics I guess, just seems like it’s exhaustin’.”

“Talk about…" Alastor agreed, his arm shifting to take one of Angel’s lower hands in his own.

Angel reciprocated easily, though he couldn’t keep the surprise out of his tone. “Oh now my filthy whore hands are good enough for you?” He teased. “Thought you were too proper to be a friend of Dorothy.”

“Never quite sure if I was temperamental or not.” Alastor admitted. “Never looked twice at anyone really.”

“Sounds lonely.”

“Peaceful.” Alastor corrected. “Though I could do with excitement occasionally.”

“Oh?” Angel perked up.

“Not that sort.” Alastor grimaced. “Too messy.”

“Boo.” Angel whined, though he accepted the answer. "I don't really talk feelin's much." Angel admitted with a sigh, taking his hand back and sitting up. "Not used to affection without strings attached. I think the only people who've ever actually shown me a lick of decency wanted a lick in return if you catch my drift."

"I'd prefer not to catch it, but yes. I understand your innuendo." Alastor nodded.

"Or they were family. Or Charlie. Sometimes Cherri but then it's a matter of havin' a dance partner to break shit with." Angel continued. "I'm startin' to jump tracks. My point is I don't mind you havin' a crush on me but I have no clue how to handle that considerin' I'm used to bein' a fucktoy. Heaven, I'm comfortable bein' just a fucktoy! I know exactly what I'm doin' in that kinda scenario but this… This is new shit."

Alastor sighed, sitting up as well. "Would you like me to leave? I won't bother you with this if-"

"I didn't say new is bad." Angel interrupted. "Stay."

Chapter Text

There were several things about withdrawal symptoms that sucked, but one in particular that irked Angel was that he felt so awful that he hadn't even noticed that he had gotten sick as well. His tremors had gotten worse from both the lack of drugs and from muscle fatigue, and what he had assumed was just an oversensitivity to temperature was, in fact, a very serious fever. He was sweating so much and hadn't had the energy to properly bathe so his fur was starting to mold.

"Ugh, can you come back later?" Angel asked as his door opened. "I look like a fuckin' mossball."

"No. I brought soup!" Alastor said, using shadows to open and close the door around him as he carried in a tray with a covered bowl on it.

"Oh yeah, who's in it?" Angel joked, pulling the blanket up with him as he sat up.

"No one you know." Alastor replied cheerfully. "Chicken, probably. I didn't check if it was sentient."

"Let's go with not sentient, if you expect me to eat it." Angel sighed, taking the bowl he was offered. He dipped a claw into the broth, having left his gloves off. He didn't taste anything weird from the touch, so he tipped the bowl up to drink some.

"I didn't drug it." Alastor stated dryly, his grin dimming somewhat. "Although if you would like for me to smuggle you something that can be arranged. No one checks my pockets."

"Habit, sorry. You get roofied once, you learn." Angel explained, then quickly changed the subject. "I thought I put a 'Don't disturb' sign on the door."

Alastor had taken to letting himself into Angel's room whenever he desired company and had taken notice of the spider getting steadily worse. At first he wondered if Angel's drug dependency was similar to his own need to eat constantly; Something Hell did to sinners to remind them why they were there, but that didn't make enough sense. Addiction was a symptom, not a sin in itself. This wasn't a matter of needing a hit.

"You did! The pig needs a walk, doesn't it?" Alastor asked, gesturing toward Nuggets who was curled up halfway under the blanket and snoring loudly.

"Charlie walked them already." Angel gruffed, his voice sounding a little less like gravel.

Angel dropped the blanket and dragged himself off of the bed. Alastor politely averted his gaze toward the far wall when he noticed that angel was wearing nothing at all aside from, puzzlingly, a pair of pink and black striped socks. It was more for his own sense of modesty, as Angel clearly had no issue with nudity.

"You sleep in your socks?" Alastor asked. "Doesn't that get itchy?"

"My feet are weird. Shut up." Angel grimaced, picking through his matted fur. "Could've given me some warnin' before comin' in here while I'm ugly."

Angel grabbed his brush and headed to the bathroom, kicking the door shut behind him. Alastor resigned himself to wait, sitting down at the vanity and covering the unfinished soup. At some point Nuggets had woken up and was staring at the deer, who stared right back. Unblinking. This went on for several minutes while he listened to the rustling sounds on the other side of the bathroom door.

After nearly half an hour the soup had gone cold, but Angel was clean and brushed and had a fresh coat of eyeshadow on. He smelled better, though he still looked a bit tired and sounded fairly rough. He still wasn't dressed completely but he had at least put on underwear and a shirt purely so Alastor didn't feel the need to look anywhere other than Angel. Angel wasn't sure if he found that particular mannerism sweet or irritating; He liked being looked at but figured that Alastor was trying to be a gentleman.

"Thanks for the soup." Angel said, "Sorry I barely ate any…"

"Nothing to apologize for. If you're not hungry then you're not hungry." Alastor chuckled, taking the bowl for himself as he was more than content to finish it. "More for me!"

"Yeah." Angel sighed, sitting on the edge of his bed and letting Nuggets wiggle their way into his lap. "So you got me awake and into pants which is a weird reverse of my usual shtick. What, you get lonely?"

"I was hoping to see if you were well enough to take a walk in the courtyard with me." Alastor explained. "But seeing you now I understand more rest would be better for you."

"You woke me up to tell me to take a nap." Angel chuckled, which turned into a cough.

"Yes, I suppose that is a bit silly of me." Alastor admitted, awkwardly patting Angel on the back between the two sets of shoulder blades.

Angel powered through the coughing fit, which turned into a gag far too quickly. He rushed back into the bathroom to heave, and Alastor followed, dropping his smile. Something in his chest ached at the sight and he lamented the fact that he had somehow gained a sense of empathy somewhere in the past month or two. This sort of situation was so much easier to deal with from behind a microphone and a doll.

"Sorry," Angel said once he was finished bringing up what little he had eaten. "I usually don't gag."

Alastor ignored the joke, recognising it as the deflection it was. Very carefully, he ran his claws through the spider's hair, combing it backward so that it fluffed up a little more. Angel hummed and leaned into the touch, which caused Alastor to freeze for a moment. He wasn't being attacked, he had to remind the deerish instincts that invaded his common sense. This was fine. It had to be fine.

"Fuck, sorry." Angel, more perceptive than usual, removed himself quickly from the deer's immediate personal space as soon as he felt the hesitation. "Keep forgettin' I can't get grabby."

"You weren't get'n 'grabby', sha. I just ain't expect it." Alastor dismissed. "Some'n to get used to."

"If you plan on stickin' around long enough to get used to me bein' touchy we're in for a long hard ride." Angel teased, then cringed at himself and covered his face. "Fuckin' stupid. Sorry."

"Say 'sorry' one mo' again an' I'll tear your arm off." Alastor warned, but the smile he used was genuine and playful so Angel didn't take it seriously.

"Do it, bitch. I got plenty of arms." Angel grinned, and noticed that he was starting to feel a bit better.

The soup remained unfinished on the vanity. Neither of them were very hungry.

Chapter Text

Letting himself into Angel's room whenever he wanted brought about some consequences Alastor really should have foreseen. Still it was a surprise when he pulled himself together from the shadows in the spider's room to see Angel on his side on his bed, one leg propped up on the wall, and two of his hands between his legs.

"Hey! Knock!" Angel barked, but didn't seem otherwise bothered.

"Whoops!" Alastor said, the static of his voice a little thicker than usual as he covered his eyes with his hands.

"You wanna join me?" Angel tried, already knowing the answer.

"No." Alastor said quickly, and merged back into the shadows to bring himself together again in the lobby.

He could practically hear Angel laughing from upstairs as he quickly distracted himself with ordering a drink from Husk and pulling down a stack of paperwork that he had been pretending he was too busy to do for nearly a month.

"Are you fucking blushing?" Husk asked him, looking just a bit disturbed.

"Mind your business!" Alastor snapped, grinning a bit wider.

"Fine. I don't want to know anyway." Husk shrugged, taking a step to distance himself from the other and opening a new bottle for himself.

A few minutes passed and Angel was downstairs, walking into the lobby. He saw Alastor at the bar and joined him, pulling a stamp card out of his fluffy.

"Hu~usk. I got thirty good boy points for wine and some weed."

"You're in a better mood." Alastor mused, putting the accidental eyeful out of his mind. "Over your ailment then?"

"You got ten points left after this." Husk gruffed, filling a glass and passing over a small bag of green buds.

"Yeah. I think I got it outta my system." Angel took a sip and smiled. "Feelin pretty good."

Alastor glanced at Angel's hand, the one holding the wine glass, and noted that there was a visible tremor. "You're still shaking."

"It'll pass." Angel shrugged, setting his glass down and planting all four arms firmly on the bar, leaning onto it. "You still up for that walk you mentioned the other day?"

Alastor nodded, and they finished their respective drinks while Husk glared warily at both of them from the corner of his eye. Angel put his punch card back into his shirt, as well as the weed as he intended to keep it for later. He had earned it.

"May I ask a personal question?" Alastor asked once they were outside.

"You might get more of an answer than you bargain for but sure, fuck it. What'cha wanna know?"

"Well I am aware of your orientation and… sexual identity."

"You can say it. I'm trans, yeah." Angel encouraged. "So?"

"So I've attempted to educate myself on the matter and I know transgender people choose their own names." Alastor continued. "I just wanted to know why you picked yours."

"I didn't." A melancholy sort of smile graced Angel's face and he shook his head. "My Ma did."

Alastor's brow raised, curious and hoping to hear more but not sure if he should pry. Instead of prompting verbally, he took one of Angel's hands in his right and lead him to stroll around the path that framed the poor attempt at a garden.

"I think I was eight… I told Ma I was pretty sure I should be a boy and she told me that whatever I turned out to be, I'd always be her little angel. I started callin myself that and everybody just sorta went with it." Angel chuckled at the memory, before his face fell. "But I turned out a demon. Shit, she'd be so disappointed if she saw me now…"

"I don't think so." Alastor said, gesturing to the back of the sign of the hotel. "You're making an attempt to get better. Surely she would be proud of that."

"I'm not actually trying to get better. I'm just squattin' here for safety." Angel huffed.

Alastor's grin suddenly widened as his ear twitched nearly imperceptively. "The girls are spying on us."

 

 

 

"You have to admit that this," Vaggie said, gesturing toward the window. "Is suspiscious."

"It is pretty odd." Charlie agreed. "But Angel's out of his room again and there hasn't been a corpse in the kitchen for a week! That's progress, right?" The princess practically squeaked. "Aw, they're holding hands!"

Husk, not directly involved but still in the lobby, choked on his whiskey. He coughed and hacked and when Niffty came over to check on him he passed her a twenty dollar bill since he had just lost a bet. Niffty smirked and pocketed the money as she cleaned up the mess.

Charlie didn't get to watch for very much longer as there was a feel of static in the air, which audibly crackled before thick shadows pulled the curtains of the windows shut.

Chapter Text

Angel was busy painting Nuggets's hooves a soft shade of purple when he was surprised by an unknown number on his hellphone. Well, not actually a number as much as a series of strange runes that seemed to wriggle if he stared at them for more than a second. Confused, he answered, shifting which hands were holding the polish, the brush, and the pig so he could hold the phone in his fourth.

"Who the fuck is this?"

"Well that's quite a rude greeting!" Came Alastor's cheerful reply.

"Didn't know you even had a phone." Angel huffed.

"I don't! I'm using my microphone." Alastor explained. "I'm at a shop and I thought I would get something for you to aid in your...activities. I know the girls confiscated the ones you brought with you."

Angel took his phone away from his ear and squinted at it before returning it. "Bullshit. You went to a sex shop?"

"Just because I am disinclined to participate in the act does not mean I should deprive you." Alastor explained in a confident, but added in a quieter one, "And I don't want you getting bored of me."

"That's sweet." Angel chuckled. "So why are you calling me?"

"Because after I walked in I realized that I have no idea what you like and to be frank I'm not sure what most of this stuff even is." Alastor admitted, and was met with laughter loud enough to spark some microphone feedback. "Oh hush. I will eviscerate you."

"Kinky." Angel replied, almost reflexively. He composed himself, closing the nail polish and shaking his free hands to try to redirect the urge to giggle. "Okay, which store are you in?"

"Pandora's Toybox." Alastor answered.

"Ooh, fancy!" Angel said. "I'm familiar with it. Okay, go to the back wall. There should be whips and floggers over there."

"Okay?" Alastor went where he was told, trying to ignore the one other demon in the store that was staring at him. "I'm there."

"Good. Look left." Angel continued to direct. "That's where the good shit usually is."

"Oh." Alastor said as he was greeted by a rack full of various vibrators. "Why are there so many kinds?"

"Some people are picky. Or collectors. Or picky collectors." Angel explained.

"This one says 'magic wand'." Alastor reported, picking up one of the boxes to look at it properly. "It's a very weird shape."

"One trick pony. Put it back." Angel said. "Never get anything that requires a cord."

"Alright, noted." Alastor continued browsing, only getting more confused as he read various packages. "What's the difference between waterproof and splashproof?"

"You take somethin' splashproof in the shower and it'll be useless." Angel answered, picking Nuggets up to blow on the pig's hooves in a futile effort to get the polish to dry faster.

"You don't take showers. You have that sandy stuff."

"I don't take showers often. Not to get clean, anyway. I like hot water sometimes, I just have to follow with a dustbath or I'll mold."

"Your biology is fascinating." Alastor said fondly, picking up another box. "This one has a suction cup on it. Is that important?"

"Yes, that's very important." Angel said, straining to keep a serious tone. "Any other details you can tell me?"

"It's sort of wavy?"

"What color is it?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"I want a red one!" Angel replied, trying and failing to give into a bout of giggling as Alastor hung up on him.

Nuggets wiggled, annoyed that they couldn't walk around while their hooves dried. Regardless, the pig did like the extra attention that being carried around afforded them. Angel turned them onto their back to scratch at the pig's belly, rewarded with happy grunts and oinks.

Angel's tremor was still present, and he had had a bad wave of nausea earlier that day but he was feeling alright now and the awkward tone of Alastor's voice that he had barely been able to mask had put him in higher spirits.

Then, Angel started to feel a bit of guilt. With Alastor taking care of him and bringing him gifts he wondered if things were always going to be so one sided. This wasn't a sugar daddy situation, or at least Angel didn't want it to be. He wasn't sure what to call it but he knew he wanted things to feel fair. Usually he'd offer a sexual service, but that wasn't an option with the Radio Demon. There didn't seem to be a catch and that bothered Angel. There was always a catch.

"What do you think Smiles likes?" Angel asked Nuggets.

Nuggets, in a show of very sagely piggy wisdom, only snorted.

"Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say." Angel deadpanned. "Not like I can go anywhere to get him somethin'. I could make somethin' but-" Angel mused aloud, then slapped himself in the forehead. "I can make somethin'!"

Nuggets squalled happily, kicking their hooves in the air as Angel held them up higher. Angel brought them down again to kiss their snout, then put them down. The fact that the pig would be leaving purple hoofprints on the carpet was far from his mind as he pulled on his jacket and rushed out the door, taking the stairs to the lobby two at a time.

"Charlie! I need to use the kitchen!" Angel called. " What kind of cheese do we got?"

Chapter Text

Alastor manifested himself in front of Angel's door and knocked, having learned his lesson. There was no answer so he let himself in anyway and was greeted by a completely spider-less room. Alastor raised a brow, and looked into the bathroom and finding it empty as well. He shrugged and set the toy he'd bought down on the bed, folding the blanket carelessly over it.

The only one other than Alastor present was the pig, Nuggets, trailing purple hoofprints all over the floor. Alastor grinned and knelt down next to the pig.

"Where is your daddy?" Alastor asked, knowing the pig couldn't speak but figuring that if Angel talked to it that there must be some merit in doing so.

Nuggets replied by making a noise that could only be described as a squonk. Alastor shrugged and picked the pig up, noticing that the nail polish on its hooves was still not dry.

"Recently painted! He was just here, wasn't he?" Alastor asked, rhetorically of course. "Well he can't have gone far. Let's look together, shall we?"

He took a bit of toilet tissue from the bathroom and patted the pig's hooves dry so the polish wouldn't stain his coat, then tucked the animal under his arm. Nuggets wiggled a bit to get comfortable, but was otherwise unbothered.

"Niffty, darling!" Alastor called as he left Angel's room.

"I'm here!" The small girl appeared quickly, bubbly and bouncing as she reported for duty.

"Be a doll and fix up the carpet before it stains? Leave the bed alone, though." Alastor gestured to the hoofprints.

"On it!" Niffty nodded, racing away to fetch her supplies. She was back and had the carpet spotless in seconds. "Easier than blood! Was that all?"

"For now. You're the best!" Alastor praised.

Niffty giggled, "Okay, bye! Bye bye piggy!" She waved, smiling a bit too wide at Nuggets.

Nuggets shrank back as Niffty looked at them, seemingly trying to hide in Alastor's side. Alastor only waved with his free hand, grin slacking somewhat when Niffty left and Nuggets relaxed again.

"Oh don't worry, my dear swine. You're off-limits." Alastor assured the pig as he descended the stairs and looked over the lobby.

Charlie ran over as soon as she saw Alastor, smiling too wide to be sincere as she started talking about everyone's progress with the hotel and how much the points system was helping give the patients a good and achievable incentive. It was all things Alastor already knew and the way the princess kept turning him or stepping into his path when he tried to walk around her was making it glaringly obvious that she was trying to provide a distraction. Alastor took a few steps in various directions to see which way she didn't want him to go and determined that there was definitely something going on in the kitchen.

"Oh my, you haven't disposed of my offal in the freezer have you? I've been saving that for the holidays…" Alastor mused aloud, nudging the girl aside. "You need to work on your subtlety. I can practically smell the suspicion." He took a theatrical sniff and then paused as he picked up a scent that caused his ever-empty stomach to churn in interest. "And basil?"

Alastor took another step toward the kitchen only to be grabbed and pulled back by the princess. Unwilling to be touched so suddenly and without warning, the radio demon turned on her with a wide upturned snarl, his antlers and claws growing ever so slightly. Charlie wisely took her hand back and put it in her pocket, laughing nervously. Nuggets wiggled anxiously, aware of the sudden tension.

Luckily, the squirming of the pig reminded Alastor that he had the task of finding Angel. So far the clues pointed toward the kitchen, and Alastor wasn't just assuming that for the sake of trying to relieve the painful clench in his stomach. He wasn't. No one could prove that.

"It was supposed to be a surprise." Charlie huffed, crossing her arms in front of her and pouting.

"Oh?" Alastor replied, turning away from Charlie, opening the door to the kitchen, and strolling in.

"Motherfucker It's not done!" Angel cursed as he startled, not expecting to be intruded on so soon.

"Need assistance?" Alastor asked, unbothered.

"Fuck no. I've seen what you do to the kitchen." Angel teased, wiping a hand on his apron. It was a pink apron with the words 'Kiss The Cook' embroidered in, but 'The Cook' had been crossed out and replaced with 'My Ass' in dark permanent marker. "No blood in my caprese, thank you."

"I wasn't aware you cooked." Alastor said, bending to look inside the door of the oven where a covered casserole dish sat baking. "What is that?"

"Manicotti! Figured you might like pasta. It's filling, anyway." Angel shrugged, one set of hands chopping up vegetables and the other brushing garlic butter on bread dough. "I don't usually have a reason to cook but I was in the mood."

Despite telling Alastor he didn't want help initially, Angel did end up giving the deer small tasks and eventually set him to making the risotto since he already knew Alastor was more than familiar with rice. In the next hour or so they had made four kinds of pasta, meatballs made out of what Alastor said was chicken, and an alarming amount of garlic bread. When they finally took the last pan out of the oven, Angel was surprised to find that he had run out of counter space.

Nuggets, having been released, roamed the floor to eat whatever was dropped.

"I might'a gone overboard." Angel admitted. "But I've seen you eat. You horked a whole damn pot of jambalaya by yourself the first day here!"

"This is all supposed to be for me? I thought you were aiming to feed the whole hotel!" Alastor laughed, mostly to cover how flattered he felt.

"Yeah it's just for you." Angel confirmed.

Alastor's grin lessened just a fraction. The ache in his stomach he always felt was gone even though he was surrounded by food. It was more than he could eat and normally he wouldn't dream of sharing a single bite, he would be ravenous, but once again Angel's presence left him with no more of an appetite than a normal person.

"Well there's going to be a lot of leftovers!"

They both laughed.

Chapter Text

It couldn't last, Angel knew. It was going too well. Nothing good ever stayed good in his experience. It wasn't perfect of course; He still wasn't sure what exactly he and Alastor were. They weren't dating because they didn't go on dates. Alastor hadn't called Angel his boyfriend and Angel wasn't about to overstep that possible boundary. They weren't friends with benefits because Alastor didn't want the benefits but they weren't just friends either. Was it a fling? Could it even be a fling after over a month?

"Dude just ask him." Cherri rolled her eye after watching Angel pace and rant for an hour.

Angel had racked up enough good boy points to be allowed an unsupervised visit from his friend. Being the sort of friends that they were, she had been kind enough to sneak him some cocaine. It wasn't much but it was enough to stop his near-constant tremor for the price of being just a little manic.

"I can't just ask! I'll look stupid." Angel protested. "I mean he holds my hand sometimes but he won't kiss me. He brings me shit but I can't tell what the fuck I'm supposed to do for him."

"Sounds serious." Cherri said, a teasing tone to her voice. "Do you love him?"

"I don't fuckin' know!" Angel shouted, throwing his hands up.

"Woah. Chill. I was joking." Cherri deadpanned, hopping up to grab the lower set of hands to pull them down. "You're overthinking this shit anyway."

Angel shook his lower hands out of her grip while he grabbed his own hair in his higher set. His lower hands started pulling at his shirt. Cherri huffed but backed up a step to give her friend his space.

"He don't want to fuck me. He don't want to kiss me. He's too nice to stick around when he figures out I ain't got shit else to offer." Angel continued to spiral. "I can cook but that ain't nothin' special-OW! Bitch!" He cut himself off when Cherri one of Nuggets's chew toys at his face.

Angel picked it up and threw it back, but Cherri dodged it easily. Nuggets went running after it.

"Calm the fuck down. Fucking drama queen." Cherri scolded. "You'll push him away with that attitude. You're a sweetheart with a bitch's pokerface and fur softer than a puppy! Anybody'd kill to have a chance at a flirtationship with you."

Cherri had tried to be encouraging, but all of a sudden Angel was crying on her shoulder.

"He doesn't even like puppies!" Angel whined.

"Oh my fucking god." Cherri groaned, awkwardly patting the spider's back. "Okay no more mixing crack and weed for you."

 

 

 

Unknown to the spider and the cyclops, they had a small audience listening in. Alastor had unplugged his usual headphones to listen to the speaker of the radio he used for spying.

"See? He feels unworthy." Alastor complained to his guest. "I don't like that."

'Guest' of course, was a strong word. He had a demon strapped to a chair, not yet harmed but definitely uncomfortable.

"Maybe you're coming on too strong." The demon said, rolling his eyes.

"No, I don't think that's right. He offered fellatio within five minutes of meeting me. No coming on stronger than that!" Alastor shook his head, a laugh track playing quietly in the air behind him. "No, no. It has to be something else."

"Do I have to listen to your relationship drama?" The demon asked, squirming.

"Yes! And there is no drama! If anything it's too peaceful." Alastor corrected. "He's lovely, really. I just worry that I'm not meeting all of his needs. No, I know I'm not." He waved a hand at his desk radio, the volume dial turning itself lower. "That proves it."

"Have you even asked the guy out?" The demon asked, deciding to play along in the hopes that if the Radio Demon was appeased that he would show some mercy.

"I've expressed my feelings for him. I believe I was clear."

"No. Have you asked him out." The demon clarified. "He probably needs the special attention."

Alastor hummed thoughtfully. He and Angel had gone out for drinks the one time before the mess with Vox happened but that hadn't been of a romantic nature. It didn't count.

"You know, I hadn't thought to. I've never had to think of dating before. I confess this man is the first romantic inclination I've ever had and I've been at a loss." Alastor admitted, stepping toward a metal rolling table where he had a variety of both butcher's and surgical tools. He picked up a paring knife, considered it for a moment, then put it back down. "That said he has been surprisingly understanding with my aversion to… well let's not get too personal. Hm?"

"You should. It'll clear shit up." The demon huffed. "Now that you've got that figured out can I go?"

"Oh of course not!" Alastor replied cheerfully, turning to rummage in a drawer. He pulled out a special blade, bright and ethereal and just a bit difficult to look directly at. "You know too much, I'm afraid."

"Is that a fucking angel blade?!" The demon asked, squirming enough to knock the chair he was strapped to over.

Instead of answering, Alastor plunged the knife into the demon's neck and dragged it, effectively gutting him. The nature of the blade cauterized the gash instantly so there was no bleeding, but the demon did die instantly. He would stay dead, too, so Alastor didn't worry about having shared so much.

Chapter Text

Angel was in the courtyard watching Nuggets run around. He'd chased Nuggets around the first few minutes, much to the little pig's delight. Cherri had gone home and the drugs had worn off hours ago and the shaking had started up again. He had a weird sort of pseudo-energy that made him want to run but also made him feel like he needed to crash and sleep for four days. Cocaine and a good cry could do that to a person.

Angel didn't even remember what he'd been crying about. Probably nothing. Mixing drugs always made him weepy for some reason. He decided not to dwell on it. Whatever it was was out of his system now and he felt pretty great aside from the tremors and fatigue.

Nuggets eventually tired themself and came over to lay on Angel's foot. Angel picked them up and put them in his lap, scritching between their ears until they fell asleep on him. After that he just sort of zoned out, mentally drifting between some old song and a new one he'd heard on a commercial that was far too catchy. His thoughts on music spiraled until he ended up softly singing what he could remember of a song by Tom Lehrer about pigeons. He wondered if Tom Lehrer was in Hell, then after thinking about the content of most of his songs he decided that he probably was, assuming he had died yet.

"Skygazing again, are we?" Came a filtered voice, startling Angel out of his musings.

"Just thinkin'." Angel said scooting over so Alastor could join him on the bench. "Hey, do you think Tom Lehrer is dead yet?"

"Haven't a clue who that is."

"Come on. New Math?" Angel prompted.

"He may have been after my time by a bit. Anyway I always favored jazz." Alastor suggested, looking around the courtyard briefly to find they were alone.

"You can listen to music that happened after you died, you know. Some of it's fuckin' good."

"Debatable." Alastor allowed, and took one of Angel's hands that weren't occupied with keeping the pig comfortable. "I been stuck on de things I know, sha. Don't like surprises much."

"Great, I have to cancel the surprise party for your deathday then." Angel joked, taking his phone out to fiddle with the calendar on it.

"I can never get my head 'round dese." Alastor took the phone out of his hands to look at it, but Angel tensed and quickly snatched it back.

"Don't do that!" Angel hissed.

Alastor stiffened, one of his legs jerking slightly in surprise. He wasn't angry, just confused.

"Sorry," Angel deflated before Alastor could properly respond. Angel shook his head and handed the phone back. "Val used to do that shit. Just take my phone whenever to look at who I'd been talking to. I ain't got shit to hide but it's just… uncomfortable."

"I understand." Alastor replied, gingerly taking the phone now that it had been offered and making a mental note to remove the microphone that he had in Angel's room when he had an opportunity. If Angel felt so viscerally about snooping then he would stop. He could just stop listening, but it would be better to remove the temptation altogether. "Show me how to work dis thing?"

"Sure," Angel smiled and reached over. "So if you push this button it'll light up and then you can touch the screen to pull up apps, see?"

 

 

 

After some prompting, Alastor finally got with the times and got a hellphone. He could call Angel by using his microphone, but Angel liked texting sometimes when he didn't feel up to talking. He also liked sending pictures. Images and text did not come through the microphone very well and that made a hellphone desirable.

It ended up being less desirable after the hundreth picture of Nuggets in various outfits, some of them cute but most of them just silly. They were delightful to see and Angel's enthusiasm was contagious but Alastor still couldn't figure out how to put the phone on silent and the constant dings were interfering with his show recordings.

Across the Pentagram, Angel smirked as he listened to a radio he had sent for specifically to listen to Alastor's broadcasts. He was well aware that he was interrupting the other's work and having far too much fun whenever he heard the notification sound ring in the background. Alastor's voice seemed unphased however, taking the distraction in stride as he narrated in detail the proper way to skin a demon that had an exoskeleton. It was a bit gross, but Angel appreciated the fact he was only hearing it and didn't have to see it.

Angel was desensitized to blood and death but mutilation and torture just for the sake of itself wasn't his cup of tea. He could tolerate it but only just. Still he liked Alastor's voice, either version of it, and wanted to be supportive even if it wasn't something he understood. Satan knows Angel did shit he knew made Alastor uncomfortable and Alastor never judged him for it.

Angel sent another picture of Nuggets dressed up in a little bacon costume, certain that Alastor would get a kick out of that. He heard the ding through the radio, but Alastor's voice continued on undeterred. At this point to Angel being ignored felt like a challenge, and he was competitive.

Angel quickly undressed and put on a sheer pink robe over a matching set of red lace lingerie. He knew Alastor probably wouldn't appreciate nudity but so long as the important bits were covered that it would be fine. He was trying to be tasteful at least.

The spider sat up on the desk portion of his vanity and snapped a picture in the mirror, checking it briefly to make sure he looked just the right amount of flirtatious without being too sexy. After living on his sexuality for so long it was difficult to downplay it, but after taking a few more pictures he managed to pick one that was acceptable. He sent it, grinning when he heard Alastor actually pause.

"Excuse me, depraved listeners! Someone clearly needs my attention."

Angel snorted as his own phone rang and he answered it immediately.

"Darling I'm working." Alastor's voice came through both the phone and the radio.

"I know, babe. I been listenin' the whole time." Angel said, hearing his own voice echo through the radio.

"You're awful." Alastor complained, but he sounded fond.

Angel laughed as he was hung up on.

Chapter Text

Rumors cropped up after Angel had interrupted Alastor's broadcast. Everything from paper tabloids to gossip blogs were making guesses on just who in hell the mysterious 'Darling' was. There were even a few who got it right, having recognized Angel's voice on the radio from his many and varied movies. The few who were correct were vastly outnumbered by the majority of demons making wild guesses.

Angel was tickled by the situation, but Alastor refused to admit that he had broadcasted Angel's voice as well on purpose. It was so much more fun to let the spider think it had been an accident. Angel had wanted attention and often complained of being bored cooped up in the hotel. He had also expressed annoyance that the porn industry had replaced him so soon and someone else was in his spotlight. Now, Angel was sort of back in the media's attention in a way that didn't actually directly link to him or the hotel. It had been a split-second decision to call Angel while on-air, but still a well planned one.

"Look at this shit! Somebody went and recorded where you called me and made a song out of it." Angel snorted, clicking the clip. A remix of both of their voices sounded.

Alastor's ears twitched backward just a fraction. "I wouldn't call that a song. That's a butchery of music if I ever heard one. Where do you keep finding these things?"

"Hellsites." Angel answered easily, scrolling through his phone some more.

They were sitting at the bar of the hotel, Angel nursing a shirley temple since he was out of points to use until he earned more. Alastor had a glass of bourbon and was allowing Angel to sneak sips when no one was looking. Husk was very pointedly ignoring both of them, keeping himself buzzed on whiskey and reading the back of a box of crackers for a lack of anything better to do. He was aware of Angel sneaking drinks but since Charlie and Vaggie weren't around he didn't feel the need to pretend to care. So long as Niffty didn't notice then it was fine.

"Some asshats are arguin' in the comments thread." Angel reported.

"Oh? Do tell." Alastor turned in his seat to face Angel, letting their knees touch and resting his chin on his hand.

Angel blushed under his fur at the contact. He was used to being grabbed and groped by strangers but it was always a pleasant surprise when Alastor initiated touch aside from just holding his hand. He mentally scolded himself for becoming flustered, reminded himself that he was a Bad Bitch and not some shy idiot, and turned his phone around so Alastor could read.

One username of the thread was claiming, quite correctly, that 'Darling' clearly sounded just like Angel dust. The second username was adamant that someone as high up on the food chain as Alastor was wouldn't be wasting affection on anyone not of similar status, and especially not on some has-been video hooker.

"Well that's awfully rude of them!" Alastor's brow furrowed somewhat. He was surprised at how angry he suddenly felt over some faceless demon's opinion of Angel. He kept the anger hidden.

"I know! I'm not a has-been yet. I could still be in the game, I'm just…" Angel waved his lower right hand, trying to think of how to word what he was thinking. "Just takin' a break!"

"Are you?" Alastor asked quietly into his drink, though he meant it to be rhetorical.

"It's honest enough work." Angel shrugged, tilting his head curiously as he felt like something was off. He wasn't sure what but he had gotten the impression that he had said something wrong.

"I'm not bothered by you working." Alastor was quick to say, realizing as he said it that he did mean it. The idea of the spider sharing his body with strangers didn't bother him anymore than the idea of sex in general did; Like the passive disgust of watching someone walking on carpet with muddy boots, but the relief of the fact it wasn't happening in your own house. It was fine as long as he wasn't the one who had to touch the mess or clean it up. "It's actually an ideal solution to, well… I just worry for your safety if you do go back to that."

Angel blinked, unsure of how to respond to that before brushing it off with a smirk. "Oh I'm a big boy, Smiles. I can take care of myself." He said in a tone just shy of being sultry.

"Fuck sake." Husk grunted, reminding the other two that he was still there. "I'll give you a full bottle of vodka to stop with the mushy bullshit three feet in front of me. Go to your fucking room."

"Fuck yeah, I'll take free booze." Angel said with a grin. He reached out for Husk to give him the bottle and left, cradling the vodka like a baby.

Alastor didn't follow the spider right away, instead shooting Husk an annoyed grin. "We were talking."

"Then go talk upstairs." Husk chuffed, unphased. "Jeez, I don't feel like having to hear you verbally making out with somebody."

"Well lucky for you I don't feel like removing your limbs." Alastor shot back dryly.

"You won't do shit to me, kid. We both know it." Husk said, tapping his claws idly on the counter.

Alastor squinted at the cat, who just stared back unflinchingly. Alastor hummed thoughtfully, then eventually shrugged and turned away, looking upward at where he knew Angel's room to be.

"So how'd he catch you anyway?" Husk asked, since Alastor was still present.

Alastor sighed fondly before he could stop himself, a sound Husk's large ears certainly caught onto. Husk had known Alastor for a long time. Long enough to be able to read him better than anyone else in hell.

"He surprised me." Alastor answered vaguely, but more truthfully than the cat had expected.

Husk was surprised that he got an answer at all as Alastor melded into a shadow and quickly creeped along the wall and up the staircase.

Husk waited until he knew for sure Alastor was gone, then smiled. "Well, good for you. Fucking idiot."

Chapter Text

Excessive drinking could either make Angel very hyperactive or very sleepy depending on what the drink was, but it without fail always had one guaranteed side effect. A drunk Angel was often a naked Angel. He couldn't help it, his clothes made his fur itchy and with lowered inhibitions (Which were already fairly low.) he had no qualms about nudity. He was born naked. He fell into Hell naked. And after half a bottle of vodka he had taken his shirt off, fully intending to be completely naked if Alastor hadn't joined him a few minutes later.

Angel still had enough wits about him to know that it might be an issue for Alastor if he took his shorts off but he wasn't going to put his shirt back on. If other guys could be shirtless whenever they wanted then so could he, tits and all. Come to think of it, Husk was naked constantly, though to be fair the cat had longer fur while Angels was more dense but shorter.

Alastor did pause in the doorway somewhat at the sight, but he didn't ask Angel to cover up so Angel just grinned and put the bottle down so he could flop backward on his bed without spilling it.

"You really have a heart on your chest." Alastor observed aloud, grabbing Angel's attention. "I thought it may have been painted on."

Angel snorted, remembering any other time before now that if he had undressed with Alastor in the room that the deer would always turn away. "When'd you ever sneak a peek at my chest?"

"Found one o' your movies on my phone after you showed me how to look up stuff." Alastor said, dropping the radio filter after properly closing the door.

"Oh?" Angel asked, surprised. Plenty of people had seen his films; He had been pretty famous in porn for a few decades. He was proud of the fact, never embarrassed, though the admission that Alastor had seen him in such context made him suddenly self-conscious. "How'd that treat you?"

"It was… gross." Alastor answered dryly, but perked up a second later. "But informative!"

Angel snorted. "Why'd you even look for that shit anyway?"

Alastor shrugged and put his hands in his pockets.

"No way, don't give me that shit. You had a reason."

"S'pose I was lookin' to see if we could find a middle-ground." Alastor admitted.

"Yeah?" Angel prodded, his curiosity well-stoked now. "You find anything worth a shot?"

"Maybe." Alastor said with a glint in his eye that only made Angel even more curious.

Angel only had a second to wonder before the shadows in the room sprang to life and solidified, forming thin tendrils that wrapped around the spider's entire body. Angel suddenly found himself upside down with his legs strapped together and his arms tied crossed behind his back by the shadows that had formed themselves into oddly soft ropes. Looking down, or in this case up, at himself, Angel could recognize a pattern to the ropes.

"Ooh~ turtleshell. Classy." Angel chuckled, wriggling a bit in a halfhearted attempt to see if he could get loose, only managing to make himself swing gently from where he was suspended from the ceiling. He couldn't, but he didn't really want to. "You truss up all your kills this pretty too, or am I just special?" He joked.

"You're special." Alastor answered earnestly, causing Angel to blush hard enough to be seen under his fur.

"Oh, damn it…" Said Angel, at a rare loss for words.

Alastor's grin became less forced, melting into an honest smile as he moved closer to the spider. He took his right hand out of his pocket to card his claws through the short fur of Angel's cheek, careful to avoid the eyespots. Angel let out a little sigh, leaning into the touch. It was much more affectionate than he was used to. Nobody had ever handled him like he was something fragile. Coming from anyone else it may have even annoyed him, but this was a very unique case.

"Soft soft," Alastor mumbled, pleased at the proud smile he got in response.

Alastor's claws continued to explore, tracing over Angel's jaw and pausing briefly at his throat which made a heat rise under Angel's skin and caused his fur to bristle slightly. He knew that if Alastor wanted that he could tear his throat right out. He also knew that Alastor wouldn't. Not to him. Still, Alastor seemed to take the visible reaction as fear and withdrew his hand.

"C'mon Smiles. Why'd you stop?"

"You 'fraid of me, sha?" Alastor asked, something like regret hinting in his eyes.

"Nah." Angel scoffed. "Probably should be but hey. If you were gonna hurt me you've had a shitload of chances. I trust you." Angel rolled his eyes.

"You done puffed up. Y'sure?"

"Yeah I'm good. I'm just gonna need a few minutes to myself when you're done with whatever the fuck you're doin'." Angel snickered.

"Oh." Alastor nodded, mostly to himself as he realised what exactly Angel meant.

Angel wiggled again, managing to swing himself just a bit. "Keep goin'. It's nice."

Alastor grabbed Angel gently to stop the swinging, getting a giggle out of the spider for it as he resumed slowing petting the other, still keeping his left hand to himself. He was sort of combing Angel's fur with his claws at first before noticing that there were a few areas that Angel responded to more than others, most notably his neck and stomach.

Angel could think of a couple places he wanted those claws to play with but he kept his suggestions to himself. He knew if he started talking dirty that Alastor would probably drop him and leave without even a warning. The thought was the only thing giving him the self control to keep his mouth shut. He was glad he'd managed to behave when Alastor leaned to kiss his cheek; the first time he had kissed him.

Angel would never admit it, but for just a moment he forgot how to breathe.

Chapter Text

Alastor only released Angel from his bonds after he noticed that Angel physically could not stay still. At some point he had started rubbing his thighs together as much as he could while tied up so tightly and it didn't take a genius to figure out what he was trying to do. Alastor was amused that Angel seemed to try to be hiding the action but he still took it as a clear cue to let the spider down, cradling him a moment to guide him down onto his bed gently rather than just dropping him.

"Are you alright?" Alastor felt the need to ask.

Angel nodded and hummed, scratching through his own fur since his hands were free before stretching and making what was possibly the lewdest sound Alastor had ever heard. Angel laid down wiggled a bit on top of his blanket, getting comfortable and reaching out for Alastor. He didn't ask for Alastor to join him out loud and he wouldn't even mind if Alastor decided to maintain some physical distance, but Alastor went willingly into the spider's offered arms.

Alastor was stiff, lying there in such a physically close manner, becoming even more so when three of the four arms wrapped around him, the fourth just holding his hand. Angel noticed, and kept his hold on the other very loose, not wanting to make Alastor feel trapped. Alastor expected the usual flight or freeze response to hit him as it always did when someone touched him, but for once it didn't happen. This was fine.

"You good?" Angel asked, feeling the tenseness in the other's back.

Angel's voice brought Alastor's attention to the fact that while he hadn't felt the need to flee, he also hadn't relaxed either. "M'fine." He answered quietly, silently thanking Angel's patience as he managed to let the tension go.

Angel hummed again and Alastor mentally congratulated himself for not flinching when he felt the other's many hands start to rub his back through his coat and shirt. It made Alastor suddenly very aware of the fact that he was fully dressed while Angel was still only covered in his shorts. That didn't seem very fair, but still Angel didn't push.

Alastor pushed himself up, Angel's arms quickly leaving him. He caught the sound of Angel's disappointed sigh, no doubt assuming that Alastor was leaving. He didn't leave, instead taking his coat off and hanging it over the chair at the vanity.

Angel sat up when Alastor started to undo the buttons of his shirt, shock clear in the way his eyebrows shot up.

"What--uh--What'cha doin?" Angel stammered.

"Evenin' us up." Alastor answered, trying not to show how nervous he was as his shirt came off completely, which he hung over the coat. He kept his pants on, but that was it. "You're indecent. I may well be, too."

Angel had of course wondered what Alastor looked like under his clothes. Anyone with any sort of sex drive would. He had also developed some idea of his shape given the brief bit of cuddling that he had been allowed, but Angel wasn't prepared to actually see.

Alastor was skinny. His ribs were clearly visible through his ashen skin, as were the crests of his pelvis on either side of his stomach that seemed almost caved in. His collarbones, too, protruded. It looked painful.

"Fuck, Al. You need to eat more." Angel blurted out before his sense of tact could kick in.

"I eat." Alastor rolled his eyes, though Angel caught a hint of offense in his eyes.

"Sorry," Angel apologized quickly, smacking himself in the forehead. "Fuck, you're tryin' to put yourself out here and I'm fuckin' it up, huh?"

"S'pected you'd say some 'bout it." Alastor shrugged and Angel tried not to focus too hard on the fact he could clearly see every muscle and bone involved in the action move under his skin.

"Saw some weird fish guy check in the other day. You like seafood?" Angel joked, trying to bring back the easy atmosphere he felt like his big mouth had ruined. "He never leaves his room. Charlie won't miss him."

Alastor laughed, real and hoarse and wonderful, and Angel wanted more of that laugh every day if he could manage it. Alastor rejoined him on the bed, chest to chest and skin to fur, much to Angel's delighted surprise. Angel was more than happy to snuggle, letting Alastor continue to idly pet the thicker fur on his chest.

Alastor, likewise, was happy to accept the hands returning to the skin of his back. He noticed fuzzy fingers paying special attention to the bumps of his spine, but knew Angel wasn't doing it out of any malice, just care. Alastor couldn't even remember the last time he had actually felt cared for by anyone other than his mother. This was a different context, of course, but he hoped that it would last. Appearance of it aside he wasn't hungry. He wasn't afraid either, just happy. He'd be content to stay this way forever if he could, and he realized after a moment that forever was a very real thing given that they were both dead already.

"Angel." Alastor asked, tucking his face against Angel's neck. He wasn't sure if his heart had sped up or stopped completely, but he couldn't deny that he had one anymore.

"Yeah?" Angel answered, his hands stilling as he took note of Alastor's nervous tone and wondering if he was doing too much by being so touchy.

"I love you." Alastor answered quietly, grabbing the fur under his hand a bit harder than he meant to in order to keep himself grounded.

"...Fuck." Whispered Angel, hiding his face with one of his eyes. "I ain't even doin' nothin'."

"And y'still fas'nate me." Alastor sighed.

"Fuckin' sap." Angel huffed, wiping at an eye as he felt himself tearing up. He wasn't even sure why; He wasn't sad at all, just not expecting to hear something like that of all things.

Angel pried Alastor's hand out of his fur and sat up, worrying Alastor for a moment that he'd done something wrong.

"It's fine." Angel said quickly as he saw Alastor's smile had actually left his face. "Just need a bit if you're gonna be playin' with my tits and sayin' sweet shit at the same time."

"Oh!" Alastor said, sitting up and putting his hands safely in his own lap. "Sorry. I wasn't thinking of your anatomy!" The filter and the transatlantic accent was back to cover up his real cajun one, and Angel snorted.

"It's fine." Angel repeated, leaving the bed and making his way to the bathroom. "Gimme ten minutes, okay?"

"Okay!" Alastor agreed, watching Nuggets run out of the bathroom as soon as the door opened.

The door closed again and Alastor could hear the water start up, letting him know that Angel was taking a shower instead of just dusting himself. He expected that, and looked toward the light fixture in the ceiling. Right, he still needed to get rid of the microphone there. He hadn't had a chance to do so until now, but Angel had given him a clear timeframe to work with. He could untap the light quickly and never worry about it again.

Angel, on the other side of the door, had a hand under the running water as he waited for it to warm up. Good behavior deserved a reward, right. He'd behaved and had managed to keep his urges under control enough to not push the other away with the wrong sort of intimacy and it had turned out spectacularly. Maybe even too well if Alastor meant what he said.

Angel was far too hot and bothered after all the petting to process Alastor's confession right now. It wasn't unwelcomed, but Angel didn't really know how to deal with it. He wasn't sure how he felt. He certainly liked Alastor very much, but the few times he ever thought he was in love had all turned sour. He got the feeling that Alastor wouldn't hold it against him if he couldn't say it back right away, but what if Angel wound up ruining it anyway?

Angel winced and pulled the knob that turned the water to come out from the showerhead instead of the faucet. He stepped under the spray, then stepped right back out when he realised he had forgotten a pretty important thing; The toy Alastor bought him was still in his room, hidden between the mattress and boxspring of his bed.

"Hey babe can you reach under the mattress and hand me -- What the fuck do you think you're doin'?" Angel asked, having poked his head out of the bathroom door.

Alastor was standing up on the vanity chair, one hand wedged into the ceiling light cover, the other untangling a red microphone wire from the rest.

"You tryin' to fuckin' spy on me?" Angel asked hotly, before Alastor could even process the fact he'd been caught.

"Actually, I'm removing this." Alastor corrected.

"You been spyin' on me?" Angel demanded. "What the fuck?!"

"I spy on everyone!" Alastor tried to explain. "I have a microphone in every room of the hotel."

"Oh that makes it better!" Angel huffed, throwing his hands up. "So much for bein' special, huh?" Angel glared, his breath coming too quickly as he tried to think this situation through rationally. He really tried to reason it out, but he couldn't. It was better to get away from the situation entirely. "Get the fuck outta my room."

"...Angel." Alastor almost pleaded.

"Fine, I'll leave." Angel shook his head and pulled his crumpled clothes from the floor and onto his wet fur. Alastor took a step toward him, but was suddenly met with a gun pointed directly at his face. "Don't fuckin' follow me."

Chapter Text

"Where are you going?" Vaggie asked as Angel passed her in the hallway. "And why are you wet?!"

"He's dripping on the carpet!" Niffty almost snarled, skittering away to grab towels.

"Angel? Are you okay?" Asked Charlie, audibly worried when he got to the lobby.

Husk was the only one to stay quiet, seemingly minding his business even though he was always paying more attention than he let on.

"I'm goin' out." Angel grunted when he got to the door.

"We can't let you--" Charlie began, but Angel interupted louder.

"I can't be here right now. I. Am goin'. The fuck. Out." Angel hissed, slamming the door behind him.

He instantly regretted it. Hell always had somewhat extreme weather and the cold season had started. To make it worse it was windy, and Angel's fur was too thick to air dry. Still his anger and his pride wouldn't let him turn around, so he picked a direction and followed the sidewalk as he trudged angrily away from the hotel.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Alastor had put his shirt and coat back on. Angel's angry exit had brought his starvation back full force so he left the room and locked it behind him, not trusting himself not to eat the pig. He walked down the stairs slowly, his smile absent to reveal a tired frown. Angel told him not to follow, and so he wouldn't. He wondered if he even deserved to feel so badly when clearly Angel was the one hurt.

"Shit." Husk grunted when Alastor made it down into the lobby. "What did you do?"

"Shut your mouth." Alastor snapped angrily, but deflated a second later. He tried to put his smile back on but couldn't quite manage it. He chuckled, a hollow and unhinged sort of sound. "Fiery pit of failure!"

Charlie started toward him, the need to comfort him strong. Vaggie quickly pulled her back and Husk shook his head at both of the girls, a subtle warning not to get involved.

Alastor's chuckle broke into a full laugh, overlaid with heavy static, sobs, and recorded screaming. The lights flickered and shadows spun around the room wildly before the lightbulbs shattered. The lobby was pitch dark and silent. Alastor had vanished, taking his noise with him and leaving the others' ears ringing.

"Dramatic piece of shit." Husk grumbled, reaching under the counter and handing Niffy a box of bulbs to replace the lights.

 

 

 

Angel had managed to walk almost ten blocks, shivering in the cold before a familiar car pulled along the sidewalk and slowed down to keep pace with him. A window rolled down, but Angel didn't need to look to know who it was.

"Bad time, Val."

"I could tell." Valentino smirked. "You must be freezing, Angel Cakes." He leaned a bit out of the car and shook a bag of white powder. "I got your favorite~"

Angel started walking faster, but he knew he couldn't outpace a car and he didn't feel like running. He also knew that whatever Valentino wanted, he wasn't going to leave Angel alone until he got it. Angel may as well humor him. The inside of the car was probably at least warm anyway.

"Ugh," Angel huffed and stopped, tugging the backseat door of the car open and stepping in because this may as well happen. "You're lucky I ain't got nothin' better to do. Gimme that." He snatched the bag of pcp and squinted. "So how long you been prowlin' around waitin' for me to leave the hotel?"

"Since I heard your voice on the radio." Valentino answered easily, not even denying the fact he had been behaving a bit stalkerish. "Been getting cozy with buck-boy, huh?"

"It ain't your business." Angel snapped. "What do you want anyway?"

"I can't visit my favorite boy now and again?" Valentino crooned, reeking of bullshit.

"No." Angel said dryly. "I know you too well… But fuck it, I'll bite. New girl piss you off? Noticed that pussy cat everywhere."

"You could say that."

"So you need a replacement til she heals up, huh?" Angel sighed.

As much as Angel hated being replaced, he knew firsthand how badly Valentino could treat his workers. They weren't even people to him, just toys. Angel had been the same, but had learned quickly enough how to play that fact to his advantage. Just keep the boss happy and rewards would roll in, usually in the forms of drugs but occasionally as special privileges. Make the boss mad and you could end up locked in your room and bleeding out for days at a time. Angel didn't work for Valentino anymore so he wasn't worried about the latter bit, but he held some sympathy for the ones who still did.

"Pass." Angel said, tossing the bag of drugs back. "If I get back into the biz longterm it ain't gonna be under you."

Valentino caught the bag with grimace, but conceded. "You know what? I get it. You get a taste of romance and you think someone like that would actually care about you of his own volition? Get real, baby. I saw the look on your face. He used you up and tossed you out, didn't he? You're still just a toy." He tossed the bag back. "You're good for one thing and you know it. Quit fooling yourself."

Angel caught the drugs and sighed. He was still cold and wet, angry and sad, and so very disappointed in himself for letting himself believe even for a few minutes that anyone might want the best for him. Valentino was a shitty person but so was everyone else. At least the overlord was honest about the fact he didn't give a shit. He didn't pretend to care. Angel looked down at the bag in his hands, opening it and dipping his ungloved fingers into it. He didn't taste anything off about it, so he made a decision. He could hate himself for it later but for the moment he just didn't want to think anymore

"You got me for three hours."

Chapter Text

Valentino started the allotted three hours by giving Angel a few minutes for the pcp to take effect. The spider was considerably high by the time the car got them to the studio, and the larger demon lead Angel roughly by the back of the neck to his own office. Angel hated being grabbed that way and Valentino knew it, but it was an effective way to steer him where he wanted him to go.

The next half hour or so saw Angel bent over the pimp's desk, blissed out of his mind on the ketamine and unable to stop himself from letting it happen. Valentino was familiar enough with Angel's body to know how to drive him out of his mind and that was what he wanted, even if it wasn't who he wanted. Even so, Valentino was rough and being a fellow bug, even though he wasn't a spider, he had plenty of extra hands. Angel couldn't help but imagine that the hands holding him down were smaller, fewer, and gentler. He came embarrassingly quickly with Alastor's name on his tongue. He was still mad at the deer but he couldn't help but wish he were with him instead. Not like Alastor would ever fuck him anyway, so Angel would take the substitute.

"If didn't like you so much I'd be offended." Valentino growled, pulling out to finish himself off on Angel's back. He shoved Angel onto the floor, uncaring if the spider got hurt. "Don't clean up. I want you already dirty when we get the cameras started."

"Mn." Angel acknowledged. "Who'm I workin' with?"

"Benji and Ralph."

"Horse and Bull." Angel groaned, regretting asking. "No wonder you had to loosen me up."

"That was just for fun." Valentino smirked. "I'm sure you can find your way to room four by yourself?"

"Yeah. I ain't that stupid." Angel sighed, wobbling a bit as he stood and giggling. "You make that angel dust yourself? It's fuckin' good."

"Get to work." Valentino growled, lighting a cigarette and picking up the phone on his desk, dialling a number.

"Sheesh, fine. Bossy motherfucker." Angel huffed, leaving the office.

Into the phone Valentino said, "He's here."

Angel didn't hear it, already heading through the halls of the studio naked aside from his boots and fur matted. It wasn't an uncommon sight for one of the workers to move through the building in such a way but Angel's presence specifically got a few whistles and whoops.

"Angie's back, bitches!" Called a blonde imp, as if everyone hadn't already figured that out. A few demons that weren't currently busy looked up with varying levels of surprise.

"Pay cuts for everybody!" A hyena shouted, cackling at his own joke.

"I'm just visitin' Toni, don't lose your pants!" Angel joked back, laughing when the hyena did take his pants off just to throw them at the spider.

"Too late!" Toni snickered and fell into step with the other. "I'd hug you but you got a little, uh." Toni gestured to Angel's back. "Where ya headed?"

"Val's got me playin' with the big boys today."

"Oof. Plural, too. Yikes." Toni sympathised, though Angel knew he was incapable of being serious. "All at once or takin' turns?"

"Fuck knows." Angel said with a shrug.

"Fuck knows." Toni agreed, nodding. "Welp! Have fun breakin' your guts!"

"Yeah, leave some sugar for me for after, you crackhead. I might need it." Angel called as Toni left him to get back to his own work.

 

 

 

When Alastor reached his home he ate everything he had stocked, not even bothering to cook it. If anything the smell of it all just made him more ravenous. He hated this feeling. He hugged himself, trying to put pressure on his stomach in an effort to trick himself into thinking there was anything at all in it but it was shrivelled and empty as ever.

As if to add insult to injury his heart hurt as well now and there wasn't a thing he could think of to do about that. He could feed hunger, even if it wasn't very effective he could try. What in Hell was he supposed to about heartache?

Carve it out. Came a suggestion, and Alastor wasn't sure if it was his own thought or if it belonged to one of the Spirits that followed him.

A fresher scent of blood hit him, alerting him to the fact that he'd clawed his chest open without even thinking to. He brought his bloodied hand to his mouth, chewing his palm desperately for any sort of relief. His other hand stayed where it was over the wound, his claws dragging and making the gash bigger.

 

 

 

Charlie spent the night watching the road from the window, seated on the sill. Alastor had his own home but Angel still hadn't come back and it was getting late. She'd gone ahead and walked Nugget's for him, knowing the pig would need to do its business at some point.

"Charlie it's been hours." Vaggie said gently, sitting next to the other and wrapping an arm over her shoulder. "They both probably just need to cool off. They'll be fine. Come to bed?"

Charlie sighed, pouting but leaning into her girlfriend. "Did you see Angel's face?"

"Hun," Vaggie said softly

"It was just like that after I went through his room…" Charlie continued. "And Alastor looked like…"

"I know. But you didn't do anything this time." Vaggie assured.

"If it'll make you girls feel better, I know where Alastor lives." Husk offered. "I can go kick some sense into his stupid ass."

"Everyone knows about the Radio Tower." Vaggie rolled her eye.

"Yeah but most people don't survive going under the Tower."

Chapter Text

Husk's nose crinkled in disgust as he opened the door to the stairway of Alastor's basement. The place reeked of rotting meat mixed with fresh blood. It didn't matter, though, and Husk still descended the stairs.

All of the lights were off, but there was a horrible cacophony of segmented music. There were several record players with records skipping over the same lines again and again, though they were all playing different songs. They were loud and overlapped in a way that set Husk's teeth on edge.

'--innie had a heart as big as a whale--'

'--essed without a smile--'

'--omething wild about you child that's so contagious, let's be outra--'

"Of fucking course." Husk gruffed, turning the records off one by one before they could repeat anymore so he could listen in the dark.

Usually Alastor had a constant ambiance of radio static around him, switching frequencies constantly but always there. The basement was completely void of such noise now that the skipping music had stopped. Instead there was the sound of the slow and laboured breathing of a very large animal paired with the wet ripping of flesh. Husk found the light to turn it on and was met with a gruesome sight that made him glad he had forgotten to eat lunch; In the corner was a great mangled form of a deer with a skull for a face. It was eviscerated and had blood on its teeth.

"Fuck sake stop eating yourself." Husk chuffed, picking up a book from the shelf next to the door and chucking it at the deer.

The book bounced off of the hard bone of the monster's snout and he turned from chewing his own entrails to roar at the intruder. The radio static that had been absent picked up, bringing sounds of gunshots and foreign shouting to the cat's ears.

"Nice try jackass. I hear that shit every damn day." Husk grunted, but his fur and feathers were set on edge. "I'm not leaving that easy."

The deer tried to stand up, enraged, but slipped on its own viscera and fell with a loud crash. Between having hooves and a hard floor, there wasn't much traction to walk with.

"Oh, you're gonna charge me at now? We're doing this shit again?" Husk's paws fared better as he stomped toward the other. He grabbed the large skull by the antler and yanked it to bring Alastor's eye level to his own. "You gonna bite me Squeaker?" He challenged. "Tear me up and eat me?"

"Hun...gry…"

"Yeah? Well I'm tired." Husk shot back. "I'm so goddamn tired of you. You're lucky I loved your mama like my own or I wouldn't still be putting up with your stupid fucking melodramatic bullshit. Especially when you're throwing a tantrum this bad over some goddamn floozy. Grow the fuck up."

Alastor made a noise that sounded sort of like a crackle, and Husk let go of his antler. His head dropped with a hollow thud.

Husk sighed. "Look, kid. I know you're late to the whole falling-in-love thing, but it was bound to fall apart. It always does. You can't, well, tear yourself up about it."

Alastor just stayed on the floor for a while, seemingly struggling just to breathe. Husk sat down next to the deer's skull, deciding to stick around and provide some impulse-control until Alastor healed enough to reshape himself into his usual, less beastly form. He kept talking, shifting the subject from blueberry jam and moonshine to fishing to card tricks, and over a few hours Alastor did seem to calm considerably with the distraction.

 

 

 

When Angel's three hours of use ended he was messy, sore, and had absolutely no will to walk anywhere. He was also a bit out of his head, having gotten his hands on extra drugs that Valentino hadn't given him. He'd also had time to think about Alastor. He decided it was ultimately a good thing that Alastor had been removing the microphone. It still wasn't nice that the microphone had been there in the first place but Angel had come to terms with the fact that it wasn't personal. It was just how Alastor kept an ear out for everything and removing it probably should have been taken as an act of trust.

Still, Angel felt embarrassed about it and he couldn't help but wonder how often Alastor had listened to his room. Angel had a habit of voicing odd thoughts out loud at random. Angel also cried quite a bit when he felt badly. Maybe Alastor hadn't listened at all but that was unlikely. Angel was aware Alastor loved having his nose up everyone's business. That didn't make it better, but it did make Angel think that he probably should have expected as much.

"Okay, my time's up. Drive me home?" Angel said as he walked into Valentino's office.

Valentino flicked an antennae. "Oh I don't know. Pretty sure I could buy some more of your time?" He opened a drawer, rifling through it. "How does heroin sound?"

"Not in the mood. Bummed some cocaine off one of the other guys already anyway. Right now I just wanna dust off, check on my pig, and go to bed." Angel shrugged, leaning against the door.

Valentino frowned, annoyed that the spider wasn't taking his offer. "I'm not driving you anywhere."

"Okay, fuck you then. I'll catch a cab." Angel huffed, turning on his heel to leave when the door slammed in his face on its own, blocking his path out.

"I'm not being clear. You aren't going anywhere." Valentino sneered, taking off his sunglasses so he could fix a proper glare on Angel. "I've got a very important guest on his way and he's filed a complaint about you."

Angel squinted, confused before his still-stoned brain could catch up to the situation he'd let himself fall into. "Oh. Fuck."

"You can run along high and happy staying in the studio," Valentino suggested, putting his shades back on. "Or I can have you wrapped in razor wire until Vox turns up."

Razor wire was a favorite punishment of Valentino's. It would cut into a demon as they struggled and they would bleed until they lost consciousness. While passed out they would heal up, only to be cut into again when they woke up if they even so much as twitched. Angel had only been tied up like that once, but it had lasted days and he had learned his lesson well enough to never need it again.