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Son of the Serpent

Chapter Text

Sir Pentious.

Cherri’s rival.

The snake that’d looked so damn hopeful with sparkling eyes and a gasp of cheer when he said the word “Son.”

If Angel’d known he’d react like that, he would have never gone for a “Daddy” joke.

Somewhere between the confusion and awe that the man hadn’t gotten the double meaning, he’d felt a twinge of guilt for giving the man hope he’d found his kid just to take it away.

What sort of son did a guy like that have? What was it like to be a kid who had a dad who cared like that?

(Did the creep even really have a son or was he just that dense?)

Was he really happy about the idea his kid would be in hell with him? Or was it something else?

Angel sure as fuck didn’t know.

But he knew he was going to stop answering Cherri’s texts if she was going to continue to gripe about the villain and make Angel think about him. The snake was supposed to be toast after Alastor’s little stunt, but nah! The guy was fine.

Still kicking it and fighting with Cherri over turf, and Angel Dust couldn’t get his stupid, excited face out of his mind.

(Or stop wondering what having a loving, proud dad would be like.)

“Stop sulking at my bar,” Husk said. He propped his feet up on the “Welcome Desk” and leaned back in his seat. Husk nursed his beer and flicked his tail toward Angel Dust. “You’re an eyesore.”

“Take that back!” Angel smacked two of his hands on the counter. “I am always gorgeous, even when pouting.”

“Sure,” Husk said, deadpanned as always. He sipped his drink and scratched at the tuft of fur on his chest with his claw. Husk rolled in his seat until he crossed his arms on the bar top. “Pout somewhere else.”

“Now, now, Husker!” Alastor said. Angel and Husk both jerked as the man appeared behind Angel and tapped his cane on the counter. “Our new friend here appears to be struggling with an issue? What ails you my friend?”

“Nothing.” Angel forced his muscles to relax and leaned into the counter. “What? Me? I’m great. Just bored. I mean, there’s nothing fun to do around here, am I right?”

“It isn’t good to lie!” Alastor stepped around Angel and took a seat at the bar a few stools down, settling directly in front of Husk. He laid his microphone staff across his lap and rested his elbows on the counter. “It’s not a very redeeming feature, now is it?”

“Like you’d know about redeeming anything,” Husk said into the bottle top with a lazy stretch of his wings. Alastor smacked him with a spin of his staff (“Oh, so sorry! An accident of course!”) and tapped the base on the ground. Husk rubbed the back of his head and said louder and with as much obnoxiousness that he could fit into the tone: “Yeah, what he said. It ain’t very nice of you to lie.”

“Come on, fellas,” Angel said. He held out two of his arms and crossed the other two behind his back. “I ain’t lying about nothing.”

He was bored.

If he’d been kept entertained he wouldn’t be thinking about Sir Pentious.

“If you say so,” Alastor said, speaking into the microphone head of his staff. “But, I can say that as a bartender, Husk here is an excellent listener if you need to tell someone your woes.”

Husk slammed his empty bottle on the counter. “Would you stop volunteering me for stuff?”

“No.”

“I give up,” Husk said, throwing his hands in the air. He pointed at Angel and sneered. “Bartender’s advice: Alastor’s not going to let this go now that he’s curious. Come clean and save yourself the embarrassment of him broadcasting it live if he has to work any harder to weasel the story out of you.”

Angel looked at Alastor, who spun his staff to the side with a light “I totally will, it’d be entertaining!” grin on his face.

“How well do you know Sir Pentious?” Angel asked. He wouldn’t go into full detail, but if he threw them a bone they might go play chase elsewhere. “He’s been around here forever, right?”

“Longer than most of us, yes,” Alastor said. He stopped his staff and rested it against the counter. “I don’t know him well, though. The snake is more of a nuisance than entertainment.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Angel said. He clapped his hands together and tried for a smile. “My gal Cherri has decided he’s her arch rival so she keeps bringing him up. A guy gets tired hearing about the same tinker toys and egg minions over and over, you feel me?”

A slight buzz of static filled the air.

Angel swallowed the lump in his throat as Alastor leaned closer.

“Are you sure that’s all?” The Radio Demon asked, the microphone head of his staff tilted toward Angel’s mouth. “There isn’t anything else you want to share with your waiting audience?”

“I’m good,” Angel said. He drummed his fingers on the counter as the static grew more. “Totally fine.”

And time to get out of there.

“Oh, look at that!” Angel yanked his phone out of his pocket and looked at the blank screen. “Speaking of Cherri, it sounds like she wants to party. I think I’m going to go and don’t tell Charlie!”

Angel sprinted out of the hotel lobby and ran until the static stopped buzzing in his ears.

He fell into a brisk walk and huffed, dropping all four arms in relief when he felt truly alone.

“Who knew that guy would be such a busybody?” Angel asked the air. He recalled the Radio Demon’s motif and slapped himself in the face. “Everybody. Everybody knew.”

His phone rang, saving Angel from further self-embarrassment.

“Hey, Angie! You want to hang?” Cherri asked from the other end. “I’m bored.”

“Yeah, sure,” Angel said. How about that? He’d escaped an awkward situation and didn’t have to lie—Cherri wanted to party, after all. “I’m free. Name the place, baby.”

Cherri texted him the location and Angel headed that direction with a whistle.

A little partying would clear his head.


“This is not hanging, Cherri!” Angel shouted, dropping the cute nicknames to reinforce how angry he felt. “This is a turf fight!”

With Sir Pentious.

The guy Angel had been trying very hard to stop thinking about!

“Oh, come on, Angie! This is the best way to hang out and you know it.” She tossed a bomb twice in the air before throwing it over the makeshift wall they were using as a shield. It landed between two Egg Bois and splattered them across the cracked pavement. “When did you become such a bore?”

“When the hottest demon I’ve ever seen moved into the hotel! They will actually kick me out if I get caught on the news again!” he shouted back with the first half-truth he could think of. Cherri always knew when he was fibbing, so Husk would have to work as a scapegoat. “Have you seen our new Welcome Desk concierge? I haven’t hit that yet and I do not need you to ruin this for me.”

Cherri didn’t need to know that making Charlie upset made his chest squirm in the worst way with guilt.

Of all the things Angel had been happy to leave behind when he became a demon, guilt was one of them, and Charlie brought it right back out with that sad, disappointed face.

The Happy Hotel felt like home more and more each day and Angel was not losing it over a turf fight.

“I can get away with the drugs and the drinking, but this? They’ll have my head!” Angel kicked an Egg out of the way and shook the yolk and broken shell off his shoe. “I’m sorry, babe, but I’m getting out of here first opening I see.”

“Oh, whatever,” Cherri said with a disappointed pout of her own. “You really are going clean, aren’t you?”

Angel hated disappointing Cherri, too, but—he had to.

“Kinda? I don’t know.” Angel listened for the sound of Egg Bois and decided he should split while they were regrouping. “I’m sorry, Cherri, but I need to leave.”

“I think not, my dears,” a voice hissed—quite literally with an extended “s” sound at the end of “dears.” Sir Pentious appeared in the path behind them, his long tail flicking back and forth as it slithered on the pavement. He and his Egg Bois blocked their exit. His hair flared out like a hood as he pointed and laughed louder. “You cocky brats aren’t going anywhere! I’m finally going to stick it to you and you’re going to go down hard!”

Angel lowered his tommy gun and bit back the lewd response. “You did that one on purpose.”

Sir Pentious lowered his hood and scrunched is face in confusion. “Did what on purpose?”

“Leave yourself open!” Cherri shouted, throwing a handful of bombs in his face. “Ha! Nice one distracting him, Angie! I knew you still had it in you!”

She slapped him on the back and tackled the demon, starting a new brawl in the street.

Angel Dust kicked an Egg out of the way and made an escape as he dodged the two fighting rivals.

“Are you really ditching, Angie?” Cherri called out after catching Sir Pentious in a chokehold. “For real?”

“Yes!” Angel shouted back. He put his gun away and backed up. “Next time you want to hang, it better be for drinks!”

“Fine! Get out of here, I got this,” Cherri said. Sir Pentious growled and whipped his body around, knocking Cherri off her feet. Angel hesitated. Should he stay and help her out? He was mad but he didn’t want her to—Cherri jumped up with a laugh and tackled the snake, straddling him and putting her hands around his throat. “You look good under me, old man!”

Angel turned around and walked away.

“She’s got this.” He escaped the area and kept his eyes on the televisions in shop windows as he walked home for any sign of the turf fight on the news. “She totally had that.”

Angel stopped at a vending machine and slammed his lowest hand onto the button to retrieve a bag of his favorite pick-me-up. He hid it under his coat and returned to the hotel, tense and full of too many feelings.

The quiet lobby greeted him as he opened the door and slipped inside. Husk and Alastor were still at the bar. Angel avoided eye contact and walked past, ready to collapse in his room and stop thinking.

“You’re lucky I caught the sound bite of you objecting quite fiercely to the activities at hand,” Alastor said as Angel passed. He sipped something strong in a glass, cooled with a stone. “Or I might not have taken the liberty of interrupting the broadcast before our dear Hostess could have seen it.

“Though,” Alastor said, still smiling over the glass. Husk snorted on the other side, slumped in his seat with his hat over his face as he faked a nap. “I did keep a copy of the broadcast for my records, of course.”

Angel stopped his trek to his room and wandered back to the bar. He took a seat and glared at the Radio Demon. “What of it? You want something for covering?”

“A little entertainment,” Alastor said. He tapped his staff twice on the ground and scooted closer to Angel Dust. “Why don’t you tell Husk and I what had you running out of here so fast earlier? I’m sure it’s a delight!”

“Are you for real?” Angel asked. “You’re blackmailing me because you still want to know why I was pouting?”

“Yes,” Alastor said, openly and brightly. “Yes, exactly.”

Angel reached over and stole his glass, tossing back the rest of his drink. He slammed the glass on the counter and snorted. “What the hell?”

The Radio Demon’s staff glowed (recording?), but Angel talked.

Surprisingly, Alastor and Husk both listened.

Chapter Text

“Why am I not surprised a guy like you has daddy issues?” Husk snorted and tapped the desk near Alastor’s elbow. The Radio Demon rolled his eyes but waved his hand to summon another bottle of cheap booze. Husk took it. “Should have figured that out the moment you mentioned the old man.”

Angel bristled and snatched the bottle before Husk could take another sip. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means what it means,” Husk said. He grabbed the booze back and took a long drink. “I could go into all the details, but your thing with older men is enough.”

“I do not have a thing for older men,” Angel said. He crossed his arms—all four of them—and tilted his head up. “My services are equal opportunity for all ages.”

“I didn’t say shit about your services,” Husk said, mouth lingering on the lip of the bottle. Angel’s eyes tracked and he drew the bottle away. “Case in point: You’ll sleep with anybody for money, but so far I’ve only seen you truly attracted to me and Sir Pentious: Two old men.”

“Who said I was attracted to the snake?” Angel asked. “The sex jokes were teasing, not flirting.”

“Your interactions with Husk beg to differ,” Alastor said. His perpetual smile widened a fraction with the teasing lift of his eyebrows. “But even if that was true, you must admit your current fixation reveals an interest at the very least.”

Angel groaned and slumped on the counter. “I’m not ‘fixated’ on him. I’m curious about his life. There is a difference.”

“Is there?”

“Yes!”

“No need to shout,” Alastor said. He stood from the stool and patted Angel on the head before slipping away toward the main hallway. “Good luck with your future curiosity, but for now I do believe I need to find Niffty and discuss some decorating. We want this place to look spiffy!”

“For what?”

“Future guests,” Alastor said. He winked at Angel and hummed under his breath as he tapped away. “I have a feeling we’re going to have at least one in the near future.”

Angel asked Husk, “Do you know what he’s talking about?”

The older cat demon yanked over a magazine and flipped it open to an article on gambling tricks. “No idea.”

“If you’re going to lie, you shouldn’t be so obvious about it.”

“It’s hell. Does it matter if I’m obvious or not?”

“I guess not.” Angel tapped the counter and nodded at the back wall. “Pour me a drink, would ya?”

Husk pulled a bottle and short glass off the shelf and sat it on the counter in front of Angel. “Pour it yourself.”

He did just that and held up the glass with a short “Cheers” before downing it and two more before retiring to his room.


Angel had sobered up after a couple hours to himself, but the uneasy feeling he’d brought back to the hotel after his fight with Cherri and confessing his concerns with Sir Pentious remained.

A distraction came in the form of his ringing phone.

He answered Cherri’s call against his better judgement. He sat in the center of his bed, scratching the fur behind Fat Nuggets’ ear with gentle strokes. “Hey, babe. How’d it go with the snake?”

“A draw, which made it a total waste of an afternoon since neither of us took any extra ground,” Cherri said. An explosion sounded in the background alongside the sound of shattering glass. “No thanks to you ditching early.”

“Hey! Don’t blame me!” Angel Dust shouted back. “If you’d told me you were attacking Sir Pentious, I wouldn’t have come in the first place. You tricked me, and besides, you said you had it handled.”

“I did!” she shouted back. Cherri growled and then huffed into the phone’s speaker. “But if you’d had my back, we probably would have taken a few blocks.”

Angel tugged his pet into his lap. Fat Nuggets squealed before settling down and falling asleep with soft breaths.

“Look, Cherri,” Angel paused and took a breath, “I told you before, but can’t help you with that stuff. Charlie and Vaggie will kick me out and I can’t go back.”

Not to Val.

“You could stay with me,” Cherri offered. “We work well together and between the two of us, we could really work our way up.”

Constantly fighting over turf and maintaining a high position in hell wasn’t more appealing than being trapped in Val’s studio and under his thumb.

“I don’t know if that’s what I want.”

“Well, what do you want?”

Too much and none of it plausible in hell.

Angel Dust fell into the pillows and covered his eyes. “I don’t know.”

“Call me if you change your mind,” Cherri said. “You’re still my favorite guy to party with.”

“Back at you, babe,” Angel said, laughing. “You should come over here for drinks. Husk has some great top shelf booze hidden we can sneak into.”

“I’ll pass,” Cherri said. Another explosion sounded in the background, but her voice picked up into something lighter and forgiving. A friendly teasing Angel had been scared he might loose. “If I walk into that hotel I might catch your goody two shoes disease.”

“Hell forbid,” Angel said. “See ya later.”

Cherri hung up the line and Angel tossed the phone onto the pillow next to him.

“It is time for bed, Fat Nuggets,” Angel said. The little pig was well ahead of him on that front, already long gone and dreaming. “You’ve got the right idea.”

Angel stripped his clothes, careful not to wake his pet, and wormed his way under the covers.


Pentious had held the line.

His genius and superior skill sets had kept the little missy at bay and his turf line remained where it was with no loss of territory.

“You were amazing, Mr. Boss Man!” #23 praised. “Top notch as always, sir.”

“Of course! Would you expect anything less?” Pentious flipped his hood like one would their hair and adjust his coat. Though he had won, he had still taken a few hits and his body felt sore. “Now get out of my sight, all of you! I’m turning in for the evening.”

“Sure thing, Boss!”

The Egg Bois scurried off to their respective posts and beds, allowing Pentious to return to his own room in peace.

Once behind the security of his sanctuary, Pentious changed into comfortable pajamas and fell onto his bed.

It had been a closer call than he wanted to admit. Pentious had defended his territory admirably, but that Cherri-girl grew stronger every day and her explosions wrecked havoc on Pentious’ carefully built machines. Alastor’s earlier attack had devastated his arsenal and he had not been prepared another attack so soon in defending his turf.

If the striped spider had stayed to assist his girlfriend, Pentious may not have been able to hold onto his territory.

“I wonder why he left,” Pentious asked the air. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the white and pink demon with the perverted mouth. The man was capable, vicious, and had an old fashioned sense of style that he couldn’t help but appreciate. The man didn’t have the style of Sir Pentious, but at least he put more effort into it than the mismatched Cherri Bomb. “Did they have a fight?”

Demons could only trust themselves, but alliances were useful.

“I should have paid more attention to their bickering,” Pentious said, scolding himself. “If I helped further their divide, that little missy would be down a fighting partner.”

Giving Sir Pentious and his minions a distinct advantage.

Though he could also be wrong and it was a minor squabble that would be resolved the next time Cherri Bomb made a play for Pentious’ turf.

“I’d best keep an eye on it,” he said. Pentious snickered to himself and rolled over, hugging his pillow. “Maybe I’ll have a chance to fan the flames of their bickering and turn it into a true fight!”

What was more evil than breaking up a friendship?

“I’m so diabolical I scare myself,” Pentious said, stretching out. He was sure to have sweet dreams tonight. “And when they’re separated, maybe I’ll teach both of those brats some manners.”

Pentious snuggled into the blankets and went to sleep with a smile and plans forming.

Chapter Text

A porn star.

Pentious scrambled across his coffee table for the remote and missed the power button twice in his hurry to turn off the screen and hide the moaning noises of Cherri Bomb’s boy toy.

Or rather, everyone’s boy toy.

“This is your idea of research!” Pentious shouted at the Egg Bois in the corner. They huddled around a stack of tapes and booklets that surely contained more of the Spider’s pornography career. “I asked you to get me useful information!”

“Sorry, boss!” #23 said. He hid behind a stack of tapes, knocking over the top one as he shivered. “This is all we could find!”

Pentious dragged his clawed hands down his face and flicked his tail hard enough to bowl a few of the Egg Bois over.

Useless.

Minions were useless.

“Get out of here and go back to repairs on the ship!” Pentious pointed at the door. “I’ll get the information myself!”

“Yes, sir!”

The Egg Bois ran out of the room, tripping over each other as they ran from his wrath. Pentious slid into the cushions of his ratty couch and turned to stare at the blank television. The small player underneath continued to count the minutes of the tape. Pentious slipped to the floor and stopped the player before ejecting the blank tape.

“I should have read this.” Pentious picked up the VHS tape jacket and frowned. He’d been in such a hurry to get intel on the enemy that he’d shed the cover without a glance. If he had looked, he would have seen the nude Spider on the front and the salacious title. “That certainly explains his perverted behavior.”

But not his skill with a tommy gun.

Denizens of Hell had to defend themselves in some way if they wanted to survive each other, but most who decided to work for overlords like Valentino did so because they needed support or protection and got it through other services.

The Spider could handle himself on the battlefield fine, so was the pornography…a hobby?

How demeaning.

“And he’s still working for someone else,” Pentious said, slipping the video back into the case. Pentious slid across the floor and set the tape on top of the “research” stack. Pentious pushed the magazines and photographs aside before finding a candid photo of the Spider with the Radio Demon. “He went from Valentino to Alastor.

“Perhaps there is more to him than he lets on,” Pentious said to himself. He folded the photograph and tucked it into an inner pocket. “He must pretend to be weak to earn the overlord’s trust and protection. Very sneaky.”

Pentious used the tip of his tail to lift the cover of a fallen magazine. A photograph that emphasized the giant pink heart on his fluffy breast starred on the centerfold.

“Or he seduces them.” Pentious pulled his tail back and let the book fall shut once more. He rolled his shoulders and shook himself out to loosen up. “A tactic that works on most, but not I!”

Pentious flipped his hood out and straightened his hat. He slammed open the door, crushing an eavesdropping Egg against the wall. He flicked his tongue and left the minion where he was.

“I’m going out,” he called. The Egg Bois saluted him and he snapped his fingers. “Guard the base!”

“Yes, sir!”

Pentious double checked his security and slipped out of his lair and into the shadows. He had reconnaissance to do and an enemy to observe.

“Just you wait, missy,” Pentious said, laughing to himself as he traveled near the border of Cherri Bomb’s turf. “You’re going to be short one ally very soon.”


“Isn’t this fun?” Charlie said, rolling a dice in the center of the board. She moved her piece the appropriate number of spaces and clapped her hands when she landed on a space that let her draw an extra card. “I’m so glad you came down to play, too, Angel.”

“My pleasure,” Angel said, smiling bright. He tapped his small stack of cards on its side with his lower set of hands and rested his cheek on his upper hand. He lowered his voice and sneered into his palm. “It’s not like there’s anything else to do around here.”

Vaggie kicked him under the table and he bit his lip to avoid drawing attention to himself and keep Charlie from noticing as she watched Alastor roll.

“I’m playing nice,” Angel hissed back at the other girl. “Don’t hit me.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Vaggie said back. “She could have heard that.”

“She’s going to hear both of you if you don’t shut up,” Husk said, spinning one of his cards in a circle on the table by the corner. He looked right at home with a stack of cards in his hands and did idle tricks while waiting for his turn. “And the sooner this is done, the sooner she gives me back the key to my liquor cabinet.”

Angel agreed with that.

“Game Night” was the latest in Charlie’s ideas to bring in new customers. She had a sign posted outside the main door that stated everyone was welcome, but only Angel and the hotel staff showed up—after Charlie locked down every other possible activity to take their attention, backed up by her doting girlfriend.

“Yay! You got a ton of points!” Charlie cheered, gently shaking Alastor’s arm. He rolled his eyes and jotted down his updated score on his notepad. “You’re next, Niffty!”

“Just a second! I need to clean the dice.”

The energetic girl took the dice from Alastor and spit-shined them with a handkerchief before rolling.

How could Angel ever look away from such riveting action?

The game continued through another circle around the table, Angel faking excitement during his roll to Vaggie and Charlie’s cheer, but he struggled to stay awake during the rest of it along with the other members of the table. Charlie could make anything fun and Vaggie was only having a good time because she liked seeing Charlie happy. The games existed though and someone created them. But what sort of person had fun playing these games?

“Oh! A game night! How absolutely delightful!”

The dice dropped from Angel’s hand and hit the table, echoing in the room.

Sir Pentious slithered in through the doorway, clapping his hands together. He appeared next to the table and addressed Charlie. “The sign said it was an open game. Is there room at the table?”

“Sure is,” Husk said, his grin stretching so wide Angel knew why he got along with Alastor. “Take a seat.”

“Thank you,” Sir Pentious said, using his tail as a makeshift chair between Alastor and Niffty. “I do love a good board game, but playing with the Egg Bois can be so dull. They always throw the game and let me win.”

“Is anyone else concerned that a guy who tried to kill all of us is sitting at the table?” Vaggie asked, forever the voice of reason. “Because that happened.”

“True, I did,” Sir Pentious said. He held up a finger and flicked his tongue with smug look. “But game night is worth a temporary truce, even with unsavory characters such as Alastor.”

“Competition would make the game more entertaining,” Alastor said, filling the air with a steady stream of static. “I’m up for it.”

“Me, too,” Husk said. He shot Angel a wink and kept grinning as he flipped a card back and forth. “It’ll keep things interesting.”

Angel crushed a card in his hand.


The Spider Actor glared at Pentious from across the table, but he could only appreciate the expression from the corner of his eye. The Demon Princess demanded his attention as she explained the rules of the game while dropping in a spiel for the benefits of the hotel at the same time.

Her cheer grated on the nerves, but listening to her beat hiding in the bushes while hoping to locate a window he could spy from.

“Eager fans are dying to know,” Alastor said, drumming his fingers on the table. His eyes darted between Sir Pentious and the Actor before his smile widened. “What brings you to our area of Hell this fine evening?”

“Yeah,” the Actor said. His shoulders tensed and his third set of arms slipped out from their hiding to set his tommy gun within reach on the floor. “It’s a bit far from your turf, ain’t it?”

“When my plans are complete, all of Hell will be my turf,” Pentious corrected. He earned a glare from the Moth across the table and laughed it off. “But that’s in the future. Tonight, I felt like going on a walk to take my mind off an annoying little miss who doesn’t know how to stay on her side of the line.”

The Actor narrowed his eyes. “A walk.”

“A walk.”

“Walks are great!” The Demon Princess shouted, breaking through the tension. She put her hands on the table and snatched up the dice. “It’s my turn! Let’s finish up this game so we can get Mr. Sir Pentious in on the next round.”

“Excellent idea, my dear,” Pentious said. He folded his hands in his lap and put on the politest front he could muster. Maintaining his cool was everything with the Radio Demon and his minions surrounding him—Pentious could take them all, of course, but there was a time and place for an attack. “Who’s winning so far?”

“Husk,” the smallest demon at the table said from his other side. “No one beats him at anything involving cards or dice! He’s the best.”

Alastor’s most faithful flapped his wings, showing off the playing card markings that lined the feathers. “What can I say? When you’re good, you’re good.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Pentious said. He watched the Actor from the side of his eye and slid his tail into a more comfortable position. “Winning isn’t fun if it isn’t a challenge.”

“You’re on, tough guy.” Husk sat up straighter and leaned on the table, pulling his cards into his hand properly. “Why don’t I go ahead and win this game and we can see if you’re any better at board games than you are fighting for turf.”

“Let’s keep it civil, guys,” the Demon Princess said, her laugh turning nervous. She put her hand on Alastor’s shoulder—who didn’t brush her off—and leaned around to stare down Pentious and Husk. “This is a friendly game night. Friendly.”

“Or else,” the Moth added. “Are we clear?”

“I promise to follow the house rules,” Pentious said, nodding his head. “But I don’t want to hear anyone make a fuss when I dominate the game and make you submit to my superior skills.”

“Oh come on!” The Actor said, shooting up from his seat. He threw two hands toward Pentious while two went on his hip and the last set dropped in defeat—such a range of emotion on that one! “All right. I’m out. He is going to be talking like that all night and if I don’t leave now, I’m going to end up shooting him.”

Husk snorted and Alastor bit his lip.

“And don’t you two assholes say a word!”

The Actor gathered his gun from the floor and stormed off toward the bowels of the hotel, his heels tapping against the tile. Pentious watched him go with a pleased hum—it hadn’t been his intent to scare him off so soon, and it did hinder his intel mission, but watching the other man leave so flustered was rather nice.

“Is Angel okay?” the Princess asked. “He looked upset.”

“Leave him be,” Husk said. He flicked his wings a few times and threw the dice on the board. “Sir Pentious ruffles his fur.”

“If anything,” Alastor said, spinning his staff. “You should be proud he removed himself from the situation to cool himself instead of starting a fight.”

“That’s a good point,” the Princess said. She gave the empty seat one more sad look before turning back to the table. “Still, I think I’ll talk to him about it later. I don’t want him to be upset.”

The game resumed with quiet players and Pentious kept his guard up. After the Actor left, Alastor and his lackeys kept a close eye on Pentious. Any slip would ruin his temporary good grace with the Princess.

Access to the hotel would be in his favor during his future endeavors at eliminating the Spider as a threat.

Chapter Text

“Sixteen.”

Angel stopped as he passed the bar. Husk sipped from his bottle, daring Angel to ask with his eyes. The handsome cat-demon flicked his tail playfully and Angel rolled all eight of his eyes back. “Sixteen what?”

“Unintentional sexual innuendo that went without comment because you left us all hanging at game night,” Husk said. He lifted his arm off the bar in time to dodge Niffty as she zoomed by with a cleaning cloth. She scrubbed a small spot before dashing off the counter and attacking a cobweb that snuck into the corner. Husk settled back down and tapped his claws against the bottle. “Even Vaggie had to bite her tongue once or twice to keep from commenting.”

That only meant one thing.

“He really doesn’t know he’s doing it, does he?” Angel asked. He dragged his fingers down his face and took a seat at the bar. He threw two arms out dramatically to express his frustration while his other two hands remained on his face. “At first I thought he was doing it to get at me, but if he kept it up after I left, he’s just like that.”

The man had no idea what he was saying.

Or what all those sexually innuendo did to Angel’s active imagination.

“That’s Sir Pentious for you. He’s an absolute fucking moron,” Husk said. The demon hesitated and slowly placed his bottle on the counter. Husk raised a long eyebrow, looking considerate. “But he’s also been here since 1888, which means he’s been escaping the extermination longer than any of us, so he has to have some sort of a brain in there—just not for sex, looks like.”

“Wasn’t the Victorian era supposed to be like super kinky or something?” Angel asked. He leaned across the bar, hunting through the shelves on the other side for another bottle of liquor. They had all sorts of racy novels and all new forms of smut. “I could have sworn I read that somewhere.”

Husk rested his cheek in his hand. “How do you know the snake isn’t into all that? Being oblivious to wordplay doesn’t mean he hasn’t had sex.”

If Sir Pentious had a son, he absolutely knew about sex—had it, even.

Angel put a stop to those thoughts and pleaded at Husk. “Please don’t talk about him and sex in the same sentence.”

“Why? Isn’t in your favor if he knows?” Husk grinned and took another long swig. “I thought you wanted to fuck the guy.”

“I don’t want to sleep with him!” Angel shouted. He slammed all four hands on the counter and rattled the bottle he’d found. “I don’t want anything to do with him. Out of my head and far, far away is the only place I want him.”

“Who are you talking about?” The chipper new voice drew both Angel and Husk’s attention to Charlie as she strolled up to the counter. Her smart shoes clicked on the tile and she swung herself up to sit on the bar when she arrived. “It sounds serious.”

“Sir Pentious,” Husk answered—the jerk. “Angel’s got a thing for him.”

“I do not!” Angel shoved Husk aside and hopped on the counter to join Charlie and to block her view of the traitor. “Don’t listen to him. He’s giving me a hard time because he knows how much I hate that snake.”

“I picked that up,” Charlie said. She clasped her hands together and smiled, though it was tight. “From you know, the turf war thing and storming out last night.”

Her face fell in disappointment.

Angel’s chest twisted.

“But it won’t be a problem! It’s not like he’s going to be around,” Angel said. Charlie bit her lip and he leaned over. “Right?”

“I may have invited him to come back whenever he’d like,” Charlie said. She rubbed the back of her neck and her strained smile stretched the pink on her cheeks. “Sir Pentious was so nice at game night! I saw a lot of potential in him.”

“I think you mean self-preservation instincts,” Husk snored from Angel’s back. “He knew better than to start shit with Alastor sitting next to him after the thrashing he got.”

“All the same,” Charlie continued, “the entire point of his hotel is to give Sinners a chance to change—no matter who they are. If Sir Pentious wants to make an effort, I’m going to give him one.”

Angel collapsed onto the bar and rolled onto his side. He covered his head with all four arms and huffed. “Amazing.”

“But that doesn’t mean I’m going to forget about you,” Charlie said. She slipped off the bar and scrambled around so that her face peeked through Angel’s arms. Charlie grabbed the bar with one hadn’t and touched his arm with the other. The gentle touch held too much sincerity to be from a denizen from Hell, but Charlie managed it. “You absolutely do not need to see or be around him if he upsets you this much. I’ll do my best to keep you separated if you want.”

“I’d like that,” Angel said. He lifted an arm to see her face. He reached over and pinched her cheek. “Thanks, babe. I’m glad you understand because I want nothing to do with Cherri’s rival.”

“Liar,” Husk interjected.

Angel hopped off the bar and patted Charlie on the shoulders, fully intending to ignore Husk. “I appreciate your consideration, Charlie, but if you don’t mind, I think I’m going for a walk.”

“Have a good time, but please stay out of trouble!” Charlie called after him. “Be home in time for dinner!”

“I got it, I got it!” Angel said, waving his arm behind him. “I’ll be back in time.”

“Thank you!”

Angel left the hotel and smacked straight into Sir Pentious.


“My, my! You’d think someone with so many eyes could watch where they’re going,” Pentious said, steadying the Actor. The other Sinner gaped at him, all eyes wide. “Are you feeling better after last night? You did run off in such a hurry.”

“You!” The Actor stepped back and smacked into the door that closed behind him. “Why are you back already?”

“I received an invitation,” Pentious said. He tapped the rim of his hat and his chest swelled with pride. His plans went into acton ahead of schedule—Pentious hadn’t even gone into the hotel yet! “It’d be rude to turn the dear Princess down.”

“Likely story,” the Actor said. He narrowed his eyes and scowled, fierce and strong—very out of place on an adult film star that prided himself on looking innocent and sweet. The Actor had so many levels to unpack, didn’t he? “Since when do you care about redemption?”

“I don’t!” Pentious said, slapping his hands together. “I care about connections. Your little missy isn’t the only one who can make friends.”

“If you think Alastor is going to help you with the turf war, you’ve got a screw loose,” the Actor said. “Everyone in there is so far above you it isn’t a joke, even the goody two shoes.”

“Who said anything about making connections with the people in there?” Pentious said. He went for the kill and dropped both hands onto the Actor’s shoulders. His eyes darted to the spot where they touched and back to Pentious—fully enraptured. “I want to make a connection with you.”