Chapter 1: Wander
Rey cried when she woke.
The doctors tended to her battered body, the police asked her questions.
She remembered her mother and father leaving her at the church. They told her to go in and ask for new parents.
She never saw them again.
Too scared to move, she’d waited.
Eventually she wandered down the street. She hid and stole food.
She just kept thinking they’d show back up.
At 6 she just had no idea what to do.
She saw everyone as a danger... strangers. Days blurred.
When the men were getting high in the alley that night she tried to be still, quiet.
But she knocked something over.
One caught her before she could run far.
They hit and tossed her around saying horrible things.
Then tore at her clothes, pinning her down.
She heard their words, she knew what they were going to do... how they wanted to hurt her.
But the monster stopped them...and the man who looked liked Santa.
She couldn’t keep her eyes open as blood spewed around her, screaming.
Her heart raced and she just lost herself.
She felt safe among the kind nurses.
The police were looking for her parents.
But weeks later the police had no information, and no leads on her rescuers.
The dead were druggies, murders... rapists. They wouldn’t be missed.
They said she imagined the monster... and Santa because of her trauma. She was sickly from starvation and dehydration...
So long in the cold and neglected, it had left her vulnerable. Her brain saw what it saw, but the therapist tried to make her see it was not a real monster. That Santa didn’t attack people.
Rey just wasn’t sure.
She was quiet and stayed to herself as the home. Healed but still skittish.
The director tried to find a place for her to go.
But Rey would talk about her monster and the couples would leave.
Chapter 2: Jollies
They often laughed over a drink about the misconceptions humans had. Tonight had been lucrative, their father pleased. The naughty marked for observation, possible punishment. The good will be placated with gifts or treats depending on their beliefs. They were ready for Krampusnacht and Christmas Eve. Some didn’t actually celebrate the ceremony, it’s morphed many times over time and culture. They’ve held many names.
“Did you see this town’s representation of my home this year? All glittery and surrounded by an army of elves. Why do they insist on the North Pole? I hate snow!” Poe complained. “ pretty much in every book or movie... but even before that they called me St. Nick and stuck me on a sleigh... with reindeer! I’m allergic!”
Ben shrugged, “ at least you’re loved... I’m a demon. I can’t look like this all the time... you only look like a fat man part time.”
” Wonder how they would feel if they knew...we do have matching sacks to use, but we live in Hell.” Poe chuckled. “You my dear demon, me a half human.”
”we’ve had these conversations too many times over the last century. We’re glorified boogeymen who wear different names and barely live.” Ben sulked as usual.
”Now now, you had a pretty good thing going with that priestess. I visit the surface and dabble often enough.” Poe wasn’t wrong.
They were free to roam most of the time.
Their magic came in handy.
Poe wore his sack attached to a leather cuff, it produced anything he requested.
Ben’s was hidden as a charm around his neck.
They could slip in and out of any realm, change form or size, alter memories or invade dreams.
Immortality could be boring, but mostly it was vast.
Their father answered to the chorus of Gods. Truly it was just the creator in what humanity deemed heaven and the many gods of past lore were parts of that being.
Too much for this world to fathom.
Though how other worlds interpreted creation was fascinating.
Poe and Ben knew little of the hierarchy surrounding other hell’s and heavens beyond this set.
But humanity had many versions of everything... some kind ...some brutal...
They dealt with it, made jokes.
Humanity was blind to most magic, mythical creatures and gods hidden from them especially now in this age.
”she’s on my good list you know...” Poe stated.
”Who?” Ben was curious, Poe didn’t reference specific children often.
Poe rolled his eyes, “the girl, that child we saved year before last. She’s a good girl...still at that orphanage, but has retained her empathetic heart. Despite her constant hardships, she is kind and turns the other cheek.”
”you’ve kept tabs?” Ben had tried not to, never a great idea. Humans weren’t pets.
”Yes... it’s our job to reward or punish, it shapes them into decent adults. She’s a strange child... do you know when the other kids put out the usual milk and cookies for me she adds a sandwich for you... for Krampus. She found your image likeness in a book. She’s an inquisitive girl.” Poe smirked. “ and stubborn.”
Ben nodded, very interesting...
Chapter 3: Grin
Rey tucked her favorite book in her backpack. School had dragged on today, she didn’t really mind though. Her teacher was kind, kept the bigger children from picking on her as badly.
“Why did you pick that book Rey? It’s stupid, I’ll never get it. The rest of us picked nice ones.” Jessika asked.
They tottered into the common room.
Different groups were spread out working on homework or playing games while they waited for dinner.
”it’s the only one I could find that talked about both...” Rey replied, she pulled out her homework and started on her spelling practice.
”the library lady brought tons of Christmas books that were donated, you picked one that has awful pictures. It makes people think you’re wierd.” The little blonde girl didn’t mean to hurt Rey’s feelings, but she always did.
Rey shrugged, “ it’s a holiday heritage book... it’s got stories from all over the world. It’s not wierd, it’s cool.”
Rey was used to it.
She dressed differently, preferring boy’s clothes instead of the dainty colors and frills the girls giggled about.
She tied her long hair into a big messy knot on her head.
She liked to paint her tennis shoes like rainbows and stars. Rich color and glitter.
In her opinion she didn’t need new things, rough edges added character.
Money didn’t buy happiness... the director told them that.
Ms. Maz said a good life came from good deeds and pure intent.
Rey thinks intent must be why the bad men hurt her... why her parents left her.
Their intent was evil... selfish.
Rey still bore the scars from her attack, across her back from the pavement.
She wouldn’t change her story about that night, they made her see a counselor that visited the children.
The other kids called her crazy and meaner things. She tried not to let it bother her, but in the dark of her shared room she cried.
Rey wondered what was so bad about her that her mom and dad just left her.
She wasn’t pretty enough?
Did she not listen?
Maybe she would never know.
She knew the Santa that came to the orphanage wasn’t the real one. He didn’t have the right voice.
All she could do was make good grades and stay out of the way.
Hide in plain sight.
Maybe her parents would find her when they felt better.
The couples that came always left with someone else.
She just watched them go.
Ms. Maz said she needed to let people in so she could find a new family.
Rey just... didn’t want to.
They were making decorations and putting up the tree. She hung up her drawings in her room.
Jessika thought her drawings were creepy...
She looked it up, it was his day soon.
He would punish the bad kids... and Santa would give the good one gifts.
Rey snuck last year and left him a sandwich beside Santa’s cookies.
Krampus was always forgotten these days. He probably felt left out.
No silly songs or decorations for him. Well... not like Santa had and of course Jesus...
Rey would leave them both a drawing this year. She needed to say Thankyou.
They probably wouldn’t remember her, but that was ok.
She could make them feel special.
She curled up looking at her weathered book, fell asleep waiting for them to come.
Chapter 4: Switches
Ben watched them parading around, drunk as skunks. Krampusfest in full swing, he was shocked that this became a tradition to some. People dressed like his demon form, swatting each other with swtches. Laughter and glee. Almost a real celebration.
Poe tossed the cards at Ben with a snicker.
”Damn it ! What?!” Ben screeched.
”dude, you’re a sexy beast these days... check it out! Ooooo sexy Krampus... erotica...Ha! Too fucking hilarious. And you gave me so much shit about Santa porn...” Poe thrives on taunting his brother.
“I should shove my hoof up your ass!” He was actually amused, the internet was a rabbit hole of depravity. But Poe wasn’t wrong.
Poe downed another shot. “Kinks are no joke, there’s some rather randy shit out there.”
Ben knew that... humanity was capable of many delvings within their own minds, sexuality.
Ben didn’t understand it though. He didn’t feel those urges.
The priestess was an attempt to see why humans craved touch so much... enough to lie, cheat, steal, ...kill.
They fought each other ...clawing and scratching to attain a mate.
She... was interesting, but he just never had the fun Poe seemed to with his partners. The deep connection.
Who would want him anyway?
Even the priestess Everleigh preferred his more human appearance for anything physical. She was drawn to his powers but not his rougher packaging.
It hadn’t ended... well.
Ben left Poe to his pretty devices that were currently licking his neck.
The streets were quiet the farther he got from the party goers running around.
His tricks allowed him and his brother the ability to slip in and out of any type of home or building.
He got first dibs to deal out his brand of humiliation and vengeance.
He would dip into their mind ...toss their essence in his bag to take to Hell for punishment if he felt they deserved it.
Some he would inflict nightmares, if they bullied others...they would be bullied.
Subconscious fears made real to torture or remind them they answered to someone besides themselves.
He couldn’t lie, beating their spoiled or judgemental asses was quite satisfying.
Hearing them squeal and beg.
Reduced them to crying little bitches.
He sighed as he took a seat on his bed. Glancing at the drawing he kept.
Little Rey... he’d left a few boys at her orphanage with raw behinds and raging fire pit dreams. They couldn’t pick on her...
The boys and girls... the adults he visited... saw his horns, his claws, felt the burn of his tongue over their skin.
They shook and trembled, peed themselves.
And yet ...
This little girl wasn’t mocking him or scared. He saw her thoughts... she didn’t find him hideous.
She... thought he was fascinating...
She was... he wasn’t sure what.
”you brought me so many tonight, I could hear their vile souls screaming. Your brother has big shoes to fill.” Death motioned towards Poe.
Poe scoffed, “aw come on pops, you know I’ll bring my A game... I’ll dish out all the goods on schedule. Ben gave me his list, I’m on it.”
He watched Poe shift from gorgeous manhunk to jolly fat man. “Dude the red just makes it worse... I hate your beard too... I’ll never let it slide you copied me. Mine at least looks manly.”
”whatever dickhead.” Poe shoved on his hat, activated his wrist charm to make his sack of gifts show.
Ben had to admit his magic sack was cool, you could pull anything out of it.
Not just sweets or gifts.
Good luck, prosperity, or other blessings could be given out if they had done really well.
Ben envied him sometimes...
Everybody loves the jolly fat man...
But little Rey liked Mr. grumpy pants Krampus... maybe he should check on her again after Christmas.
Leave her a gift of his own.
Chapter 5: If you give
Poe slouched onto the bed beside Ben. He tugged off his boots, his brother fell asleep way before Santa finished his trek. Poe was fucking tired. Usually Ben would have a drink with him before dawn.
“Hey assface!” Poe punched Ben in the ribs.
Ben jerked, “ouch you prick! What?!”
” You didn’t wait up...” Poe stated.
Ben shrugged, “ sorry, tried to. Have fun?”
Poe stood up and pulled off his pants and jacket. His Santa suit gone. His sack hidden on his wrist wrap.
He preferred to sleep in just a T-shirt and boxers, Ben just put off too much body heat.
”you could just go to your own fucking room.” Ben groaned, “ you insist on bothering me every Christmas morning...”
”what?! Brotherly bonding, besides we’ve done this hundreds of years. Plus, this year I come baring a gift.” Poe grinned.
Ben didn’t believe him, “I ... I don’t get gifts.”
Poe tossed a parcel at him, wrapped in old cloth. “ open it... it’s from your favorite little orphan...”
Ben stared at the cloth ball in his hands. He unwound the ribbon.
Inside was a small note and 3 things... butterscotch candies, cinnamon sticks, and peppermints.
My name is Rey. You might not remember me, but Thankyou for stopping the bad men from hurting me. Tell Santa thankyou too. I hope you both liked your pictures and sandwich last year. I read you like these tastes, and Santa gets lots of stuff from people so I thought you might like a gift too. Try not to be too hard on the boys at my orphanage, they don’t mean it. I don’t want them sad. Please. They have been having bad dreams, I know it was you.
Ben blinked at the little paper. He’d read it out loud.
Poe grabbed it from him. “ well look at that, ha! She’s thanking us specifically, and telling you to be nicer to those dipshits that pick on her. And she gave you an actual gift. That’s new.”
”She did it seems... This was by the cookie plate?” Ben asked.
”no actually, she had it on her night stand. I just peeked in to check on her and saw it waiting. Little red tag said ‘Krampus’ so I figured I’d deliver it.” Poe leaned back on the pillow. “ it’s cute. It’s not schnapps, but hey she’s a kid. A thoughtful one. I put a few extra surprises in her stocking. I blessed her as well, she deserved it. Such a kind soul.”
Ben agreed, she did. “ go to sleep fuckhead, dad will want your report by lunch.”
” Love you too brother.” Poe dismissed.
Ben sat his bundle of treats to the side, placed her note down.
Poe didn’t know Ben had left Rey a token too... under her pillow. He’d charmed it not to reveal itself until Christmas morning.
He felt even more justified now for doing it. He wished he’d left a note though to answer hers.
The season was over for another year.
He could go see her, just from a distance.
She wouldn’t recognize his more human form. It would be easy.
See if she wore his token.
If Poe blessed her their father might want to know why, it wasn’t done often these days. Humanity was mostly selfish minded, didn’t deserve it.
Poe’s snores were bearlike, Ben hated it. Now, it would take an eternity to fall back to sleep. Maybe he could smother him with a pillow... he wouldn’t really die...but he’d be silent for once. If only briefly.
He let himself release into his demon form, to save energy. So he could really relax.
Popped a piece of butterscotch candy into his jaw.
Let the sweet taste melt in his tongue.
They should have altered her memories... made her think they’d been a dream. It was unsafe that she knew.
Not that anyone would believe her.
But ...Ben liked it too... her believing in him. Not hating him.
Yes, he was going to seek the little human out. As long as he was careful it couldn’t hurt anything... to know her.
A child couldn’t hurt a demon.
Chapter 6: Charm
He strode casually through the park, it wasn’t too populated at this hour. Some mommies pushing toddlers in swings, some teens skateboarding, and some people chatting on benches watching other kids play. As he scanned, his eyes found her...
There she was.
Doodling in some notebook, then moving on to pick up random stones and leaves.
Ben was curious.
She shrugged off her jacket eventually, shoved it in her backpack.
He couldn’t help but laugh at the beat up thing, covered in obvious sewn places. She’d fixed it over and over apparently.
Why not just get a new one?
Any stones she picked up were placed like treasure in the zipper pocket of the bag, leaves closed into the back of her notebook.
He slipped closer, she wore his gift.
It decorated her neck without much fanfare, plain probably to most who bothered to look.
It looked just like his necklace, the charm that was his hidden magical sack of punishments... the way he dragged the misbehaving rabble to hell.
Only hers held no such vortex or tools. He’d imbued it with protection and an alert of sorts.
No one could hurt her without him feeling it.
Poe has blessed her as well as her Christmas gift from Santa this year... the girl was set.
Ben recalled her joy at discovering his gift hidden under her pillow. He’d used the shadows he controlled at times to give him a secret view.
The way her smile had beamed, her aura glowed like some angel. It made the demon feel... well he wasn’t sure what the odd emotion was.
But he’d been pleased.
Had decided to seek her out.
So here he was, as he has done for months. Watching her in this place she hides. Where she runs to.
She reached in her bag and pulled out an apple. Now on a bench alone, she took slow bites and glanced around at the other people.
He walked forward and sat at the other end. Unfolding a newspaper, pretending to read it.
She finished her apple tossed it in the garbage can. Fished out some goldfish crackers.
”you want some mister?” Her little voice asked.
Ben flashed a grin, “ah, Thankyou. Maybe just a few.”
She dropped a handful in his waiting palm. “ I don’t read the newspaper, usually has bad stuff in it... I like to imagine there’s better things to do.”
He snorted with a chuckle, “well, I believe there’s usually a mix amongst the bad with a bit of good.”
She nodded, chomped a few fish.
”I see you here a lot, you must live near here?” Rey questioned.
”I’m around, it’s quiet here. People keep to themselves. I suppose I’ve noticed you before, always drawing and picking up things?” He prodded.
”yeah, I like drawing the root formations and birds, etc. I color leaf rubbings and paint the rocks when I get back to my orphanage. People sometimes don’t see the possibilities... there’s beauty in everything.” She explained.
She opened her notebook and he saw a very detailed drawing of a small bird on a tree branch.
“You’re quite good, it’s nice to have a hobby.” Ben casually nodded, “ that necklace is quite odd... from a friend?”
Rey gave him a wide grin, “yeah, I got it from Krampus... I think it’s magic. I drew him and Santa pictures last year and left treats for him this year. Everybody says I’m crazy, but I know it was him. He saved me a long time ago... he’s my friend.”
That got his attention. Ben’s stomach lurched.
She called him ...friend?
”ah well, it’s good to have a healthy imagination child, but if I know a bit of history he’s not the giving kind.” Ben pointed out.
She shrugged, “ maybe usually, but I gave my friend a gift so he left one for me. So I think it’s special, magic. Well, I need to get back... nice to meet you sir.”
She offered her small hand.
He took it reluctantly not wanting to be rude, “likewise... I’m Ben by the way.”
She slipped her pack on her shoulder, “ Rey... see ya around!”
He watched her go.
It was not to smartest thing he’d ever done, but he didn’t regret the interaction. She was kind.
She thought he could be.
He would space it out, but he conspired to do this more... keep running into the child, talk with her.
Perhaps come baring a treat next time, be harmlessly enjoying it ...then share it like she had her snack.
Poe would tease profusely he knew.
But Poe was not here...
Poe was quite occupied with an angel who played liaison between this realm’s heaven and hell.
Death wasn’t a social creature, he liked to shove his more pleasant son at her. It backfired somewhat...
Poe revels in kissing both sets of her lips along with her very soft wings. Who knew his brother developed a wing kink...
It wasn’t outlawed, but also not encouraged.
Ben left the bench once Rey was out of sight.
The enchantment on the necklace wouldn’t allow it to be removed or broken from Rey’s neck. She would never feel the urge to remove it, and no one else could.
It made him feel... relief.
In the future he could leave her pencils? An actual sketchbook?
Ben cursed these invading thoughts.
People have referenced him since the 1600’s ...why did it touch him that one child does now?
Her drawing of him was typical... but less ferocious looking, more human?
He willed himself home.
Flicking his wrist his new list was already building. He saw familiar names...
Mischieviously sadistic plans wound deep, he would make them regret each thing they do... how quickly they forget once their nightmares stop.
He may have to shackle a few longer this year, be a bit more creative switching between his canes and whips ...perhaps attack their senses in a psychological maze... kiss every inch of their skin with fire.
Let them smell their own flesh bubble for days after...
That gave him satisfaction.
Krampus would not be forgotten so easily.
Rey would never see that side... her heart was too good.
Chapter 7: Climb
She climbed into his head, it was slow and unintentional... but so sweetly merciless...
Ben kept on...
Despite knowing better...
Despite Poe’s reminding of what consequences...
He saw her as often as he could without pattern, without catching anyone’s attention. Sometimes a week or month in between run-ins.
But in between...
He watched. More than he should... he had his job to do... he and his brother kept tabs as a unit, found it gave them more time to wander.
Death didn’t object as long as duties weren’t neglected.
Every December there were gifts. Small, inconsequential to most eyes. But Rey saw them.
Poe saw what his brother did. But he also saw signs of care. He kept his trap shut. The girl had no one... why not let Ben give her that.
She left the orphanage for foster families.
The situations never lasted... the bad ones she would be pulled from... the nice ones she just wouldn’t open up to.
She was never truly alone.
Ben had a habit of coming to her at night, especially if she was with a family. Just to protect her.
One foster father tried to touch her... no one tried again.
But her dreams... mostly harmless, could turn into vivid nightmares. So Ben would place his palm to her head and guide her from the dark abyss. He understood...
Their waking interactions became all he thought about.
She was always so excited to see what treats he brought when he read. His hungry girl.
He almost felt guilty taking her roommates for punishment ... other foster siblings. But, they needed to learn.
Their souls were tarnished.
Still, her glow was almost painfully bright.
Poe blessed her every Christmas, Rey was so giving... she was bad about giving her lunch money away or her toys... her clothes.
She felt their sorrow deeper than most... and never felt resentment.
When she was hurt or picked on, stolen from... she asked God to bless them anyway... for Krampus and Santa not to punishment them.
Her kindness made Ben cry. Mellowed his anger.
He saw her weak moments though... the nightmares from her parents death, when her heart ached and tears stained.
Krampus would humble himself to this human girl... place a kiss to her head... crave to hold her her and take any pain into himself.