College Life Part 1: Field Trip

BY : FlameWolf
Category: 1 through F > Beetlejuice
Dragon prints: 252
Disclaimer: I don’t own anyone or anything from any version of Beetlejuice. This is just for fun and no profit will be made from this.

College Life

Part 1: Field Trip

 

By: FlameWolf






 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Year One: Month One~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    There was a lot to get used to when you were in college.  Especially if you were attempting to go into any sort of medical field.  There were endless classes, a mountain of homework and no time to yourself.  This, of course, made it pretty hard to be in a relationship.  The only saving grace was the fact that Betelgeuse was fairly independent.  While she would like to have more time to spend with him, he seemed completely fine with the fact that they often didn’t have much time to even enjoy eachother’s company.

    For the past few weeks, all she had been able to do was come home, do homework and maybe get in a few hours worth of sleep.  To say it was tiring would be an understatement.  None of this was helped by the fact that all she really wanted to do was return to the Neitherworld.  Here she was, learning about the supernatural from people that had never really had an experience, when she could go out into the afterlife to explore these things first hand.  It was almost enough to make her drop out and call the whole idea a waste of time.  The only thing that kept her from doing so was the fact that she was learning some things she never would have by simple observation.

    For not having access to a handbook or being able to see ghosts, the professors she had really knew their subject.  They were as passionate as she was, having researched their fields extensively and wanting nothing more than to have an actual, proveable experience.  Needless to say, this gave her more motivation than ever to try to contact Juno.  As intimidating as the elderly spirit was, she was the best contact she had in the Neitherworld.  The only problem was, what would the caseworker do with Betelgeuse?  From what her lover had told her, there was certainly no love lost between the pair.  In fact, they almost seemed to be rivals of a very strange sort.

    Shaking herself out of her own reflections, Ellie collected her books the moment the professor announced class was over for the day.  There was also a reminder about an upcoming test, making her wince at the thought of all the studying that lay ahead of her tonight.  With any luck, she would finish with enough time to grab a catnap before waking up for the next school day.  Already feeling exhausted, the young woman stepped out of the stuffy building and into the sunlight.  After being inside all day, the warm rays felt like heaven on her skin and she let out a content sigh before moving down the stairs and toward the side of the building that faced the road.  Pulling out a pack of clove cigs she had ‘borrowed’ from her undead lover, she placed one between her lips and lit the end.

    Taking a deep drag, she couldn’t help but smile at the taste.  In many ways, it brought memories of Betelgeuse; the staleness oddly adding to the appeal.  Others would call them gross, even throw them away; the same way most had treated the powerful poltergeist.  “Babes,” husked beside her right ear, as if her very thoughts had summoned him, “What have I told ya ‘bout stealin’ my smokes?”  Unnaturally cold skin brushed against her knuckles before she was relieved of the smoldering cylinder.

    “The same thing I told you about pulling pranks on random people when we go grocery shopping,” snarked her weary voice while she turned to face the lounging entity.

    The stripe clad male inhaled deeply before blowing smoke off to the side and giving her an assessing look.  “You look like shit warmed over,” observed his oddly serious mid-tone, before his rough lips pressed against her forehead.

    “Avoiding the subject are we?” she chuckled sourly, reaching for the cig her ghostly lover had reclaimed from her.

    Plucking the cylinder from his fingers, she replaced it between her own lips and took another drag.  “Also, thank you for your very apt observation,” husked out of her as she breathed out the slightly purple tinged smoke.

    “I’d have thought you’d have noticed how little sleep I’ve been getting lately and wouldn’t be surprised by the dark circles around my eyes,”  continued her sardonic voice, a bitter smirk stretching her lips while she looked up to meet his gaze.

    Instead of responding with some light banter of his own, a frown creased his pale, mold rimmed brow.  Suddenly, in a motion far too fast to be caught by the human eye, he was scooping her into his arms and disappearing into the odd realm between realities.  While brief, the transition was still jarring and she found herself barely able to stand once they appeared back in the house her lover was allowing her to live in.  “Fuck, try a little warning next time,” hissed out of her as the poltergeist placed her on her unsteady feet.

    Rather than grinning and teasing her like he normally would, Betelgeuse ushered her toward the couch in the living room before heading into the kitchen.  Shaking her head, Eleanor simply took off her way too heavy backpack and set it on the floor.  Opening the massive sack, she rummaged in it until she found the books she needed and pulled them out.  Before she could open one to begin studying, there was a steaming mug of something shoved in front of her face.  The... liquid? inside was thick, green and bubbling, more resembling slime or algae more than anything.

    Grimacing at the offering, she looked up at the bio-exorcist next to her with an inquisitive expression.  “Drink it,” rumbled a command that made her stomach churn.  Gently pushing away the porcelain container, she shook her head emphatically.

    “I’d rather not if its all the same to you,” gagged out of her ass she turned her head to even avoid looking at the mug.

    Within seconds, Betelgeuse pushed the cup back toward her; expression deadly serious.  “Not kiddin’ around here babes.  Drink yourself or I will find a way to make you,” hissed a furious mid-tone, acid green eyes narrowing while she flinched backward from the dubious drink.

    “No way in Hell!  No way in any universe!  It looks like Sandworm snot!  Bet it tastes just as bad,” hissed a vehement protest while Ellie did her best to disappear into the couch.

    Letting out a feral snarl, the powerful entity straddled the young woman, powers turning the air icy due to his fury.  “Five seconds before I plug your nose, force it in your mouth and make you swallow it,” hissed from between gritted teeth with the breather beneath him looked up with a nonplussed expression.  He was acting like she had never seen, making her an odd mixture of confused and just a touch frightened.

    “Five,” began a gravely countdown, filling her with a sudden and powerful jolt of anxiety.

    Not really wanting the sludge forced down her gullet, she immediately snatched the mug of goop and sniffed it.  Jolting backward with a grimace, it took everything within her not to drop the porcelain container in an effort to escape the vile substance.  It smelled like hot swamp mixed with rotting and the faint accent of cow manure.  “Four,” continued the count, making her stomach drop and nausea fill her body.  How was she going to keep this down if it tasted even half as bad as it smelled?  Shuddering at the thought, she held her breath and simply chugged.  This turned out to be a massive mistake.

    The texture was worse than snot, practically sliding down the throat like some horrific jello.  There was also the taste, resembling something like breathing in hot garbage fumes.  Yet, the moment it hit her stomach she felt like she’d just had the best night’s sleep in her entire life.  Gagging slightly and doing her best not to belch, she dug through her backpack for some altoids; popping them in her mouth before looking up at her long dead lover.  All the anger was replaced by relief, his body slumping until his forehead laid against hers.

    Despite the numerous questions whirling in her brain, Ellie allowed him to stay like that; unsure of how to respond.  “Sorry for bein’ so hard on ya babes.  I just needed ya to drink that,” hummed an explanation after what seemed like an endless amount of time.

    “But why?  What was that?” she whispered, still full of wonder at the effects she was feeling.  All emotions of confusion, fear and violation faded for this sensation and she found herself looking up into a pair of remorse filled green eyes.

    “A recipe hundreds of years in the making.  It’s meant to help with exhaustion.  The only consequence is you will sleep for an entire day after,” the bio-exorcist explained, avoiding the question of what it was made of entirely.  A fact Eleanor was all too okay with at this point.  With how it tasted, she was perfectly alright not knowing what had gone into her body.

    “Well, thank you I guess but why were you so pushy about it?  It was almost like it was a matter of life and death to you,” whispered a question as her arms came up to rest on his stripe clad back.

    “Because it was.  Sleep deprivation is no joke and I should have been more observant about your condition than I was,” murmured a husky voice as he finally pulled back to meet her gaze.  Unfortunately, this only further confused the female beneath him.

    “I was fine.  More tired than usual but certainly not in any danger.  It wasn’t like I was staying awake for several nights in a row.  I have gotten some sleep,” Ellie informed, brow furrowing when frustration sparked in her lover’s gaze.

    For a few moments, Betelgeuse looked about ready to explode.  Then he was closing his blazing eyes and taking a deep breath.  When he opened them again, they were much more calm.  “I keep forgetting you breathers aren’t very aware of your own limitations.  I assessed your energy levels before I brought you home.  You were on the verge of breaking.  And, trust me, it wouldn’t have been a pretty sight,” he informed with a slight grimace, slowly getting off the woman he was straddling.  Eleanor could only watch, half insulted by his implication she didn’t know how to care for herself and half shocked at the revelation he could read her energy.

    “Can all ghosts read the living’s energy?” she inquired curiously as she finally opened her textbook and positioned a notebook on a near-by cushion.

    “You should know better than to ask that.  Most of the things I can do, other spirits cannot,” purred in her ear, nearly making her jump out of her skin.

    As she turned her head to scold him, cold lips were covering hers and the faint taste of stale cigarettes filled her mouth.  Before she could respond, he was pulling away with a needy groan.  “I’ll let ya get some of that studying done.  Got some business to attend to anyway,” growled his mid-tone before he was simply disappearing and leaving her completely.  Sighing and shaking her head, Ellie dove into her homework; doing her best to ignore the throbbing that was centered in her lower belly.

    Betelgeuse, on the other hand, was nowhere near as calm as he appeared.  No, he was downright pissed off.  While he would begrudgingly admit he was more furious at himself for not noticing his breather’s condition, it was much easier for him to place blame on the school run by his former friend, Lydia.  Appearing in the office of said woman, he met her inquisitive, dark eyes with his ill-aimed fury.  Stomping forward while his rage turned the air icy, the ghoul brought his palm down onto the maple desk with a loud ‘bang.’  However, instead of being frightened or intimidated, the dead female simply looked up at him with a cocked brow.  “Something on your mind B.J.?” she asked innocently.

    “I think you know why I’m here,” hissed out of the pissed specter, green eyes spitting fire while the woman across from him continued to appear nonchalant.

    “No, I really don’t.  Though I think I can hazard a guess,” the dead dean sighed as she leaned back in her chair to look at him with an exhausted expression.

    “You, like so many other disgruntled parents, expect me to make a special exception.  To lighten the workload.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do,” she continued, looking extremely weary as she got to her feet and moved to look out a window behind her desk.

    “I allow my teachers to set their curriculum within a set of strict standards.  So, while it may seem like I am just picking on your lover out of some sort of jealousy, her workload is no more than anyone else’s,” Lydia finished, her body going transparent for a split second.

    Almost immediately, rage was replaced by worry and he almost moved to sweep her into his arms.  Staying where he was with clenched fists by his sides, he simply watched his former best friend with a furrowed brow.  The time for them had long since passed and he was happy with his current girl.  Still, that didn’t mean they couldn’t at least be friends again.  “You okay Lyds?  Even for a dead woman, ya look like shit,” he asked, finally moving forward so he could stand near her.  The dark haired femme let out a chuckle while nodding.

    “As exhausting as it is, its rewarding.  Seeing these young people wanting so much to learn about the other side, longing to see an actual ghost.  All of them come here to learn different things and they leave here ready to accomplish those goals,” she explained, some of her weariness fading for a genuine smile as she turned to face him.

    “I just wish Juno would give me the time of day.  She’s already seen it can work with me and the Maitlands.  Not to mention the fact that we were friends for a good chunk of my life,”  the woman grumbled with a frustrated wrinkle of her nose.

    Just like that, he was sent back to the days she had been young.  The days he had hung around her, watching her with a mixture of fascination and amusement.  After all, a teenager’s life was full of drama.  Little moments that always provided a fascinating show.  Moments where she would call him to complain, her little nose wrinkling subconsciously.  For just those few seconds, she was his Lyds again.  Shaking himself free of the treacherous memories, he simply gave her one of his teasing grins.  “You know Juno.  Stubborn as a mule and twice as ugly,” the older ghost purred, smirking when he managed to get a laugh.

    “B.J., you gotta be nicer,” the snickering woman chided playfully before shaking her head.

    A comfortable silence followed, the pair watching the school grounds from the window.  Before either of them realized it, many hours had passed and the sun was setting.  “Do you really think Eleanor will succeed?” whispered a slightly hopeful question.

“Fuck if I know but she’s determined as Hell,” rumbled a response as the final rays of daylight faded from the sky.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~At the House~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Ellie was completely oblivious to what was happening at the college.  In fact, she was so focused on studying that she didn’t realize she was being watched.  A transparent figure stood to one side, taking a deep drag off a spectral cigarette, faded eyes holding a mostly neutral expression.  Since Betelgeuse had been freed, she had been given the task to find him and put him back before he had caused too much chaos.  HQ didn’t necessarily need to know just how long she had known where he was or that he was living with a breather.  Still, questions were starting to be asked and other avenues were being explored.  If they felt he was enough of a threat, they may very well unleash the reapers; just the thought of it making her shudder.

    Sighing heavily, the ancient spirit stepped out of the realm in between and into the realm where she could be seen by the right person.  Clearing her throat, Juno took some joy in the fact that the young girl jumped before spinning to look at her.  In an instant, the living woman was on her feet; fear and apprehension on her paper white face.  “Why are you here?  From what B told me, you only show up when there’s trouble,” Ellie questioned, maroon eyes narrowed. Chuckling, the caseworker shook her head before responding.

    “Of course he would say that.  Unfortunately, you’re both right on this occasion.  Beetlejuice has to be put back for a few days.  At least until the heat dies down a bit,” Juno explained, grimacing slightly when the female across from her began to glare heavily.

    In seconds, the young woman had crossed the space between them, bare inches from touching the ethereal being in the living room.  “Why the fuck would I do anything you say?  Especially when it comes to sending my lover back to the Neitherworld without his consent?” the irritated student hissed.  Seeming unphased, Juno took a drag off her cancer stick, blowing the smoke in the young breather’s face.

    “It isn’t entirely up to me.  The ‘Powers that be’ have deigned he has been loose for far too long.  Pretty soon, they will take whatever measures necessary to put him back,” the withered ghost responded calmly.

    “A-and what does that mean?” Eleanor inquired, getting the distinct feeling she wasn’t going to like what she heard.

    Suddenly, a chill filled the air; the very atmosphere filling with electricity as a powerful entity began to make its presence known in the room.  Out of nowhere, a pair of icy, moldy hands came to land on the living woman’s shoulders; a feeling of malice curling around both the women present.  “The reapers...  Heh, old codgers are still so afraid of me,” hissed a venomous mid-tone while the youngest Craftian slowly raised her head to look up at her partner.

    “With good reason!  Or did you forget all the chaos you caused when you first died?” Juno sighed, affection shining in her gray blue eyes despite the aggravation in her voice.

    The troublemaker only laughed outright, the sound more menacing than jolly and making the hairs on Ellie’s arms stand on end.  “How could I?  Had the whole Neitherworld in a panic,” hissed from above her, the air only getting colder.

“Of course it was!  You were nearly the cause of the end of the afterlife as we know it!” Juno rebutted while Ellie looked between the two.  For the moment she felt like a kid caught between two quarreling parents.  So, for the time being, she felt it was prudent to remove herself from between them.  As angry as she was about the demand to put Betelgeuse back, she had no desire to be fried in an accidental crossfire.

    “With the way I see it, things needed to be changed!” the infuriated poltergeist spat, beginning to pace as the air grew cold enough to make Eleanor’s breath show.

    “The other ghosts float through their afterlives with no concept of the power at their fingertips.  In fact, they seem content to continue to live the same boring lives!  They don’t even bother to explore much outside the city and suburbs.  They don’t care that they’re putting themselves in the same old cage they escaped at their deaths,” he continued while the woman watching him began to shiver and rub at her arms.

    As if sensing her growing discomfort, the bio-exorcist placed his own coat over her with a flick of his wrist.  All while not losing eye contact with Juno.  Sighing, the elderly caseworker shook her head; the corners of her lips twitching just the tiniest bit.  “You don’t just get to decide such things by yourself Beetlejuice.  They have to wake up on their own,” whispered a cryptic statement that made the pissed ghost even more livid.

    “First of all, say my name one more fucking time.  I dare you,” hissed a demonic sounding midtone, round pupils briefly turning into slits.

    “Secondly, you and the rest of the ancients can just fuck off with that bullshit!  But rehashing alla this bullshit ain’t why you’re here, is it?” he continued, a wild gleam coming into his feral eyes as his body lengthened and his arms turned into twin, hissing snakes.

    “No, they sent ya to put me back into the toybox.  To separate me from the ‘naive little girl’ I’m so obviously manipulating,” spat his roughening voice, becoming more like the snarl of a beast; the striped pythons that were his arms wrapping around Juno.

    Yet, the caseworker was utterly unafraid; taking another drag of her cig before flicking the spectral butt away.  “What’s stopping her from getting you back after I leave,” murmured a reasonable point.

    “Look, they don’t care how long you’re there.  Just that they still have some illusion of control.  In fact I can cover your departure for a while.  The only thing I can’t do is pretend you were contained again in the first place,” the octogenarian explained almost tiredly.
    “Well, I don’t want to have to do this at all!  Is there any guarantee such actions will halt in the future?” the malevolent entity hissed, glowing eyes mere slits in a growing cloud of darkness.  Darkness that was emanating from his body.

    “Unfortunately, no.  At least not until...,” she trailed off, faded eyes flicking briefly over to a shivering and fascinated Eleanor Craftian.

    Glowing, acid green eyes narrowed further, a dangerous snarl emanating from the inky blackness Betelgeuse had become.  “Don’t!” spat an in human hiss, something slithering in the gloom while the pythons around Juno tightened again.  Raising a singular brow, the caseworker tilted her head in almost confusion.

    “Yet you were fine with forcing Lydia to...,” she started to point out, cut off by another monstrous vocalization.

    *“በቂ ነው እላለሁ!” grunted a guttural language that sounded ancient.

    **“እኔን ለማዘዝ በድሮው አንደበት ተጠቀሙ?! እርስዎ ፣ ምን ያህል የህይወት ዘመናትን እንዳየ ማስተዋል ያልቻሉ። ስንት እንደ እናንተ ሞኞች በጣም አደገኛ በመሆናቸው ሲጠፉ አየኋቸው,” the older female whispered, her own eyes beginning to glow while her hair came loose and started to float around her head.  Oddly enough, this seemed to be enough to get Betelgeuse to release her; the darkness receding just the smallest amount.

    ***“አሁን ፣ እንደእነሱ መሆን ካልፈለጉ በስተቀር ፣ ዝም ብለው ለአሁኑ ዝም እንዲሉ ሀሳብ አቀርባለሁ ፡፡ ለወደፊቱ እነሱን ከእርስዎ ለማራቅ መንገዶችን ለመስራት እሞክራለሁ ፡፡ ስለዚህ እባክዎን...,” Juno finished, slowly going back to normal while the man across from her did the same.

    After a few moments of silence, the bio-exorcist slumped his shoulders and gave a small, derisive chuckle.  “Fine since you’ve trusted me this far, I suppose I should return the favor,” he finally acquiesced, turning so he was locking gazes with his living lover.

    “Just don’t leave me in the cage too long, okay babes?” whispered out of him, a strange light in his wild eyes.

    Ellie could only nod, shivering despite the coat covering her while her heart clenched in her chest.  “I love you B,” she managed locking eyes with the specter as he gave a singular nod.  Juno, who had observed all of this, seemed like she vaguely regretted what she had to do.  With a sigh, she looked up at the male in front of her before uttering one word.

    “Beetlejuice.”

    The moment the name finished passing her lips, the ancient spirit was simply gone; only a residual coldness to signify he had been there at all.  Before the human could summon him back, however, the caseworker was moving to grasp her arm in a firm grip.  “Before he comes back, I need to know a few things,” the concerned entity whispered, wrinkled brow furrowing.  Feeling disgust at the implications, Eleanor shook her head.

    “He’s here because I want him to be.  Since we started this relationship, we have worked on the principle of mutual trust.  He trusts me not to use his name to force him back into the Neitherworld and I trust him not to cause complete chaos while in the world of the living,” began a stern explanation, the young woman silently grateful the air was slowly warming up.

    “I know its hard for you and the other higher ups to understand this but I honestly love him.  He has done nothing to brainwash me and he certainly isn’t using his powers to make me into his puppet,” she finished before crossing her arms and taking on a firm stance.

    “Now, its your turn to answer some questions,” hissed her normally gentle voice, maroon eyes narrowing.

    Instead of appearing angry or offended by her daring, Juno merely chuckled before summoning an unlit cigarette.  “I can see why he likes you,” husked her roughened voice as she lit the end and took a deep drag.

    “I have heard of you on the other side.  Of your ambitions.  The powers that be are... nervous.  One thing they fear above all else is change,” she continued, aged voice weary as she continued to meet Ellie’s eyes.

    “But... they’ve already seen this can work.  I mean, the Deetzes and the Maitlands lived together fairly successfully after everything was settled,” the frustrated student pointed out, subconsciously pulling her lover’s coat tighter around herself.

    “Too small of a sample size.  Besides, that whole situation also showed just how wrong it could all go.  So far, they see no reason to continue such experiments.  Especially when they involve... him,” the caseworker responded coolly, smiling ever so slightly when it looked like the spunky breather in front of her looked like she was going to protest.

    “However, I am disinclined to agree with them.  And, since I have been given carte blanche to do as I please when it comes to matters of the living and the dead, I have seen fit to allow you one chance.  Prove to me that you living people mean the dead no harm.  That you will do everything in your power to keep both sides safe.  Then, maybe I might be able to lift a few more of the restrictions in place,” the older femme continued, her smile becoming wider as she watched Eleanor slowly go from apprehensive to outright excited.

    Chuckling, Juno resisted a strong urge to embrace the young student.  “I will be watching events unfold with great interest,” the beaurocrat concluded, taking a deep drag off her cig and disappearing into the smoke that emitted out of her slit neck.  For a few moments, Ellie just stood there; utterly stunned.  She hadn’t expected such things to ever come out of the strict caseworker’s mouth.  Especially after all the experiences the entity had with the living.  Feeling a rush of renewed motivation, the youngest Craftian took a deep breath and began to summon her lover back to her side of reality.

    “Betelgeuse,” whispered from between her lips, an ethereal wind swirling around her almost like a caress.  Smiling slightly, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the sensation for a few seconds.

    “Betelgeuse,” husked a throaty voice, the wind growing stronger.  All the while, the atmosphere was growing heavy; full of anticipation and playful malice.  Chuckling, the lone femme took a deep breath and braced herself for the onslaught.

    “Betelgeuse,” sighed the third and final utterance, a burst of otherworldly power filling the small area almost immediately.  A low, rumbling chuckle came from behind while a pair of purple clad arms curled around her waist tightly.  The smell of cloves and faint rotting assaulted her senses, yet brought her comfort as she spun and opened her eyes.

    A smile full of yellow-green, crooked teeth greeted her just before a pair of cold lips descended upon her own.  Just as suddenly, she was robbed of the striped coat draped around her shoulders.  Breaking the kiss with a playful swat, Ellie flaunted a cigarette she had pilfered in his absence.  Placing it between her black painted lips she lit the other end and took a deep drag.  “Got some good news B,” she announced, slowly blowing out the flavored smoke.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Year One: Month Two~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    If anything, Juno’s words had only driven her to work harder; something Betelgeuse was less than happy about. More and more, he was trying to get her to take some time off to come to the Neitherworld with him for a small vacation.  As of yet, she had refused him every time.  While he normally found her stubbornness endearing, he was quickly getting fed up.  He was the most powerful being in the Neitherworld and he wasn’t about to just watch his lover wither away.  So, after a few weeks of her obstinate behavior, he decided he was done asking.

    Oblivious to any of this, Ellie drug her exhausted body through the front door.  She knew she needed a vacation, a long rest from what she was doing but her drive to breach the boundaries were too great.  After all, the stakes were higher for her than any of the other students.  Until she had enough research under her belt, Betelgeuse could be taken from her at any time.  Until she graduated, there would be no way for her to move to fix that.  Let alone find out why most ghosts seemed to refer to him by another version of his name.

    While she had no proof, she had a gut feeling the key to freeing him from his chains was in the two versions of his name.  Yet, no matter how many books she perused, she never found anything about using a name to bind a spirit.  When she asked Lydia, the older entity almost acted as if the subject was taboo; avoiding the questions skillfully.  Therefore, she had reached the conclusion the answers lie somewhere in the Neitherworld.  Sighing as she forced herself out of her thoughts, Ellie set her heavy backpack next to the front door before closing the entry.

    Stretching and rolling her shoulders, she wondered if she could get B to take her for a week or so.  Snorting, she smirked as she shook her head in amusement.  If she breathed so much as a word about taking a break, he’d have her in his arms and in the other realm before she could blink.  Opening her mouth to call him, she felt a chill skitter down her spine as the air in front of her grew colder.  Rubbing her arms and feeling an instinctual sparkle of fear, the young woman stood her ground while her spectral lover formed in front of her.  Then everything was swirling and she found herself shoved into the nothing of between.

    Fighting not to breathe in out in the vacuum, Eleanor clung to the striped jacket of the bio-exorcist as they seemed to linger in this awful place for an eternity.  Just as she felt she would go mad, they were on the other side; her lung sucking in the stale air around them.  Gasping breathlessly, she only managed a weak glare before simply letting her anger go with a shake of her head.  As much as she wanted to yell at him for trampling her rights, she had wanted to come here in the first place.  There was also the fact he had been begging her to take a vacation for a while.  With how short his temper was, she was honestly surprised he had lasted this long before taking things into his own hands.

    Pulling away from him, she felt her heart drop when she saw they were in the wilds of the Neitherworld.  While she would have normally been delighted, she had hoped to do some research in Neitherworld libraries.  Maybe try to get some time with Juno.  Instead, a twisted, black landscape stretched before her.  Unnatural rock formations heaved out of the ground, the winding, geometric shapes almost making her feel sick.  What vegetation there was looked like nothing that belonged in nature.  Bony, crooked branches reached for the skin like claws, bark more like leathery skin.

    A dark red haze colored the sky overhead, black creatures flying far over head.  A strange electricity coated her skin, something deep in her gut telling her to flee this place as fast as she could.  None of this was helped by the shadowy, fundamentally loathsome creatures scuttling over the horrifying landscape.  Subconsciously, the mortal was scooting closer to the long dead male; observing the hellscape with a deep fascination.  A gruff hum of approval came from above her before a cold pair of lips brushed briefly against her temple.  “This is why I love ya babes.  No other mortal has seen this place and come back with their mind intact.  You, on the other hand, seem like you’re dying to explore.  To figure out how it ticks,” purred beside her ear, cold tendrils of pure power coiling around her.

    In that moment, all suggestions of going back to town died on her lips and she felt a deep shame wash over her.  If she hadn’t become so obsessed with her college work, she wouldn’t have given staying here another thought.  Not wanting to spoil her lover’s good time, she forced her guilt down for a smile.  “Of course I wanna figure this all out!  I’ve never seen anything like it!” she responded enthusiastically as he seemed to almost study her.

    “Brave little breather.  Denying your body’s demand for you to leave for your thirst for knowledge,” rumbled a midtone, one of his hands waving almost lazily.  As if summoned by the motion, a familiar green roadster appeared before them.

    All worries temporarily vanished, the young woman running forward like an excited child to throw her arms around the sentient vehicle.  “Doomie!  I’ve missed you buddy!” she gushed while the car revved his engine in the facsimile of a purr.

    “Figured he could be our transportation and help keep watch for danger.  I have a nice spot picked out for where we’ll be camping,” hummed an announcement that had a chill skittering down her spine.

    “H-how long are we staying?” stammered a small, nervous voice.

    The spirit that towered over her smile in a predatory manner before he was leaning down to whisper in her ear.  “You scared?” grated his mid-tone, sending more pleasant shivers through her body.  Yet, her pride would not allow itself to be slighted.  Puffing up slightly, she crossed her arms over her chest and firmly shook her head.

    “Of course not!” hissed out of her while she was moving to sit in Doomie’s passenger seat.

    As if he had expected this reaction, Betelgeuse prowled to his own side of the transport with a satisfied smirk.  “Good, because we’ll be here for quite a bit,” he informed as the roadster’s engine roared to life.

    “Besides, I have something to show you,” he continued as they sped off into the treacherous landscape.

    For only having four wheels, Doomie moved over the sharp cliffs like a mountain goat.  While it was an exhilarating experience, Eleanor couldn’t help but cling onto the poltergeist beside her.  Every leap over a blind cliff, every unexpectedly sharp turn, every surprise encounter with some nightmare abomination had her pulse humming and her heart hammering in her ears.  It took every ounce of willpower she had not to scream in terror the entire ride.  Needless to say, by the time they stopped; she was all too happy to have solid ground beneath her feet.  Even if it was in the middle of a hellscape of forest, field and mountain all mashed together like a graphical glitch.

    Taking in the scenery that made her head hurt, the young woman caught movement out of the corner of her eye.  Turning her head, she saw Betelgeuse materializing a black and white tent as well as a firepit.  In said pit were black, twisted logs that seemed to leak a tar-like sap, the sight of them making her even more uneasy.  This whole place was tugging her sanity in weird and interesting directions and she couldn’t help but wonder why they were staying here.  Yet, when she saw the almost nostalgic expression on her lover’s face, she bit her tongue.  Instead, she walked closer to him to eye the tiny striped tent he had summoned.

    It was almost like a single person tent meant for a child and she wondered idly just how they would both fit inside.  Then again, she had witnessed weirder.  So, with a deep breath, she pulled back the flap and stuck her head inside.  When she saw a fairly quaint but well furnished living room, she was equal parts shocked and relieved.  Finding the small opening had grown to a full on door, she entered the sizable living room to explore more.  The wood of the walls and floor was black, the fireplace was lopsided and warped, the couch was the usual black and white stripe motif.  Finally, mounted above the fireplace was some many eyed abomination that she couldn’t look at for too long.

    Shuddering, Ellie looked to her right at a darkened staircase that led to a second floor.  Gaze switching from that to the kitchen and a door that seemed to lead to a basement, she honestly wondered where she should go next.  “We will be staying in the basement while here.  It’ll be safer.  Especially when night hits,” growled from behind her, nearly making her heart stop in her chest.  Before she could move to face him, he was in front of her, grasping her chin in a firm hold before lowering his lips over her own.

    With a sudden swirl of his powers, they were back outside; perched on one of the abnormal peaks that were close to camp.  Strong arms now wrapped around her, keeping her close to a solid, cold body while a sour wind whipped past them.  Before them, the vast landscape was laid out; great, shadowy beings moving in the mist in the distance.  For a few seconds, she could swear she saw Cthulhu; all breath leaving her while her eyes locked on the blurred monstrosity.  “This... this is what I ‘woke up’ to on the other side.  This is the world I was in until ‘they’ found me.  I wasn’t supposed to end up here.  I was supposed to be in the waiting room with others.  Sorted and categorized, sent off to be set to a job like the others,” rumbled in her ear, fingers turning to claws while a forked tongue lapped up a pale neck.

    “This place contains the true nature of death, of what we really are, what we’re capable of.  If the others tried, they could also feel this power.  They could become what they were always meant to be,” grated into her ear, sounding like boulders rolling down roughened cliffs.

    “The energy you feel on your skin, the oppressive feeling covering your very soul... that is the essence we were all born from.  A magick we forget how to use the moment we enter the flesh we are forced into,” ground the inhuman voice, growing more and more monstrous while the spirit behind her morphed.

    “Over the endless time I spent here, I came to learn my true form.  I became the first and only truly free ****ዳሞን,” the thing gritted out, almost sounding like he was trying to speak through thick slime.

    A large, triangular object pressed down on top of her head, the massive limbs moving to cage her.  Shuddering due to the feeling of immense power pouring from behind her, Ellie could feel the creature growing larger.  Yet, she felt no need to obey her body’s orders to run.  No matter what form he took, she knew Betelgeuse would never harm her.  So, when the speech faded for a terrible growl/grinding noise that sounded like gargling rocks, she accepted it with a nervous smile.  *Close your eyes* whispered through the strange noises, almost inside her head and yet not.  Still, she obeyed, heart hammering against her ribs while she felt something looming over her.

    Suddenly, she found herself very naked; a shiver rolling through her pale frame.  *Beautiful* hummed in her head, hot breath curling around her while something large circled around her.  Something cold and wet flicked across her skin while a long, leathery limb wrapped around her.  The massive being stopped in front of her, coming close to sniff at her nethers.

    *So trusting.  Not an ounce of fear.  I even smell your arousal* growled through her brain and body, the growling making her pant hotly while her nipples tightened.

    The thing that was her lover nudged her with a titanic, blunt muzzle, obviously signaling her to lay back.  Reaching up blindly, she patted the air until she felt leathery, bumpy skin under her fingers.  The sound he released in response made her knees go weak but not from fear.  There was no anger in the vocalization, there was only unadulterated hunger.  He needed her.  He craved her.  It was enough to make her head spin.  Ellie ran a hand over the top of his muzzle for a few seconds before she eventually pulled back to lay down.

    Instead of hitting stone, however, her back laid on semi-cold, slightly rough, leathery skin; thick muscles pulsing under it.  Soon after, she felt something hovering over her; the thing under her pulsing as it seemed to curl.  Slowly, the entity lowered; a wet appendage wrapping around a pink sweet and drawing a lovely song from her lips.  *So eager...  Many have gone mad just from my presence while like this...  I never thought I would long for this but...* husked from in and around her, the forked tongue driving her slowly mad as it teased her sensitive buds.

    Letting out a gruff sound that could have been a chuckle, Betelgeuse moved downward; forked appendage flicking at her in a torturous dance.  *I wonder if your body will even be able to handle me* rasped through the snarls before he was using his massive, shovel-like head to urge her legs open.  Unable to comprehend much through the haze of hunger, Eleanor blindly placed her hands on his snout; opening to him with a soft sigh of his true name.  Unknown to her, the sound of it made a pair of wild, yellow and green eyes close; a demonic purr rolling out as a reptile-esque tongue lapped against a needy slit.

    It was all she could do to keep her eyes closed, sounds she had never made before passing her lips.  The twin ends of his tongue moved independently, one curling around her sensitive button while the other entered her quivering canal.  Another gasp of his name left her, hands scrabbling for purchase on the weird skin of his muzzle.  *You are mine.  Even when you die, you will be mine.* roared the creature before the dextrous muscle plunged inside her.  A yowl erupted from pink lips, back arching while an unspeakable monster curled around and over her.

    If there had been anyone watching, they would have gone mad from the simple sight, only able to wander silently off the edge of the precipice around them.  If the massive thing didn’t eat them first for daring to glance upon his mate naked.  As it was, massive, claw tipped paws came up to grip milk white hips; hide slithering against the ground with a tooth grating sound.  Unaffected by anything except the writhing appendage within her, Eleanor let out a third cry of his name, making a shudder roll through his transformed body.  Yet, he didn’t disappear or fade.

    This occurrence was no surprise to the entangled pair, one of the tips inside her hitting a sweet spot.  Letting out an unholy squeal, the mortal’s hand writhed on the uneven skin for anything to hang onto.  A hot coil of need was ever tightening within her, getting tenser and tenser until both wriggling tips rubbed against the area from before.  With a scream, she was exploding; the inside of her eyelids going white as the creature between her legs came up to cover her with his body.

    Wrapping legs around strange hips, Eleanor arched into a serpentine-like torso; whimpering when something hard and slightly slimy pressed against her sensitive slit.  *I need you so badly right now.  Please, please allow me to have you.* rumbled a feral snarl inside her head while unspeakable sounds came from around her.  Shuddering, the thing her lover had turned into rubbed its erection along her opening; letting out a horrifying mixture of noises that somehow had her arousal reaching new heights.

    “Y-yes!  Make me yours!  Take me in your true form!” she gasped out, longing to open her eyes while her hands came to rest on a fur covered back.

    A massive head pressed against her, his sides heaving as he reached down to position himself.  “This will be rough and may hurt.  I will be unable to stop until I’m finished.  This is your last chance to say no,” rumbled a warning, sharp teeth resting on her neck as he waited for her response.

    “I don’t care!  Please, show me who you are.  Show me why the Neitherworld fears you,” husked a response, her own breath coming in pants while fear and anticipation began to mix within her.

    She had never experimented with any pain during sex.  Mix this with the fact she had no idea what to expect and she was understandably nervous.  Yet, she trusted Betelgeuse.  While it would hurt, he wouldn’t do any permanent damage.  So, when he placed both hands on each side of her head, she simply relaxed as much as she could.  Kissing under his triangular chin, Ellie moaned while he began to slide into her.  Every ridge, every vein, every bump, she could feel it within her; spreading her more than she ever had been before.  Still, he was moving forward; getting larger and larger until she thought she would split open.

    Just about when she thought she could take no more he was hilted, leaving her with a full feeling.  She could feel the tip of him inside her womb and she wondered just how much trouble she had gotten herself into.  “Nnnnnnh, fuck so tight.  So hot.  Nnnnnnnnh,” snarled from inside her head, claws scraping on stone near her ears.  The tail under her and the torso pressing into her shook with the effort not to move, harsh pants leaving him while her body adjusted to his massive girth and length.

    “Mmm, y-you can move,” whispered out of her after a few moments, heart pounding against her ribs.

    The only response was a low, horrifying growl that seemed to go on forever as he slowly pulled out and slammed back in.  Sharp fangs buried into her neck, the hot pain mixing with the pleasure of his frantic, almost feral movements.  There was no gentleness, no hesitation.  Only raw, undiluted hunger.  Hot breath blew against her neck while her hands wrapped in the long, stringy fur growing on his back; letting out an unholy howl as the oddly shaped member inside her hit all new spots she never knew she had.  Soon, they were both reaching their peak; filling the area with their howls of passion.

    Releasing her neck, the monster carefully sat up, sniffing over the unconscious female under him.  Other than the bleeding bite in her neck, she was in good health.  Still, she would be sore come tomorrow.  Chuckling gruffly, the bio-exorcist reverted to his more human form; making sure to hold his lover in his arms the entire time.  Clothing appeared over both of them as he teleported them back to their ‘tent’.  Heading down to the basement, he smiled down at the woman in his arms.  She had done what he had considered impossible.  She had accepted him entirely, even going so far as to allow his true form to mate with her.

    Laying her in a bed, he left the bedroom to head toward a massive door attached to the living room.  Opening it with a wave of his hand, he smiled when he saw Doomie had settled into his room well.  Giving a wave when the car turned to look at him, Betelgeuse merely shut the door once more.  Prowling around the living room, the spirit made sure everything was locked down both upstairs and downstairs.  Once ensuring all the metal shutters were down and the security was active, he went back downstairs to lounge on the couch.  Despite how much he wanted to curl up with his breather, he would feel much better if he was on watch for any danger.  Especially with what walked the lands at night.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Next Morning~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    To say she was sore was an understatement.  Her body felt like it had been run over by a train, picked up and chewed by Godzilla and dropped down so it could be run over by the same train.  It was all she could do to just open her eyes, let alone turn her head.  “Nnnnn, holy shit...,” groaned a raspy, throaty voice that sounded more like it had come from Juno than her.

    “I’ll take that as a compliment,” rumbled from her left, drawing her gaze to an all too smug ghost.

    Before she could begin snarking at him, he was waving his hand over her body, using his powers to take care of the worst of her aches.  Rolling her eyes while she sat up, she gave him a sarcastic thank you; still feeling an urge to smack the self satisfied expression off his face.  As if sensing this, the poltergeist chuckled gruffly; offering her a cigarette as a peace offering.  Taking it, Ellie finally began to soften as she placed it between her lips and lit it.  Smiling slightly while she blew out a cloud of purple smoke, the young woman idly hoped more sex wouldn’t be in the schedule for today.  She honestly didn’t think her body could take it, healed or not.

    Placing a kiss on her forehead, Betelgeuse led her up the stairs, silently bracing himself for massive amounts of destruction.  When he saw their shelter was in perfect condition, he was honestly shocked.  Unaware that anything was amiss, Ellie went into the kitchen; rummaging around in the cupboards for something to eat.  Not shocked to see they were all Neitherworld products, she cautiously glanced over a box of ‘Honey Bugs.’  She was so engrossed in making sure she wouldn’t eat something awful that she didn’t notice her lover wandering over to the door and poking his head outside.

    The area around the camp had been completely torn up, large chunks of land heaved up to match the other peaks around them.  On the rocks, however, there were splashes of a thick, black fluid.  A fluid that smelled indescribably awful and looked like nothing that should exist.  Using his powers to get rid of the mess, he couldn’t help but wonder just how much trouble they would be in tonight.  Normally, the things living here were not used being injured by ‘outsiders’.  It was likely they would try to exact revenge tonight.

    Frowning, the bio-exorcist went the rest of the way outside; shutting the door behind him.  Cracking his knuckles, he mentally opened the floodgates to his powers, easily covering a small radius with cold air.  Taking in a deep breath through his nose, he began the complex task of setting up more traps as well as barriers.  Whatever had been hurt would be back tonight and it would likely have friends.  He was so focused that he didn’t notice Ellie had come out of the ‘tent’ to see what he was doing.

    As much as she wanted to approach, she knew better than to startle him.  While he wouldn’t mean to, he would instinctually lash out with his powers; inadvertently injuring or even killing her.  Instead, she walked a short distance away from the tent to get a better look at one of the nearby trees.  The tortured trunk reached skyward like a tortured soul begging for redemption, something about its almost human shape sending shivers down her spine.  Even the black, warped bark appeared to be more like a leather than bark but she wasn’t about to touch it to confirm.  Especially since every instinct inside her was screaming she shouldn’t even be here.

    So, when she felt a presence behind her, it took every ounce of willpower not to run into the woods screaming before seeing what it was.  Reluctantly turning her head and preparing for death via some horror’s jaws, she felt instant relief when she saw her all too amused lover.  “You look so scared.  Like a mouse that’s about to be devoured by a cat,” purred his roughened mid-tone, something predatory shining in his acid green eyes.  Then he was grabbing her chin, his body suddenly bare inches from her own.

    “I won’t let anything here so much as get close to you,” rumbled a pledge before cold lips met hers.

    Leaning into the contact with a small sigh, Eleanor was almost disappointed when he pulled away.  “Now, shall we talk about the real reason you wanted to come to the Neitherworld,” purred out of him, his stance becoming relaxed but still holding an air of danger.  Knowing she was caught, the guilty female met his gaze nervously.

    “I... I was hoping to do some research,” she replied, wondering if she should even bring up the subject of her study.  Thus far, the ghosts in the know had almost acted afraid.  While she didn’t expect fear, she didn’t believe his reaction would be favorable.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t willing to allow her to get away with such a vague response.

    “Oh?  And what were you hoping to find out here?  There isn’t much here that can’t be found in the living world,” hummed his soft response, the sparkling in his eye betraying the suspicions he held.

    Feeling a bit like a trapped rat, Ellie sighed and prepared for the worst.  “Your name...  Don’t think I didn’t realize there are two pronunciations for it.  The differences are barely there but I can hear it...  I want to know why everyone else uses the other pronunciation.  Why me using the proper one is discouraged.  I want to know if the real name is the key to unbinding you, to freeing you from the summoning and imprisoning spell,” she confessed, still meeting his eyes steadily.  Unfortunately, his reaction was just as bad as she feared.  The moment she finished talking, a massive radius of air turned icy cold.

    “How many have you asked about this?  How many know you’re poking around?” rumbled out of him, almost sounding like rolling thunder.

    Flinching, Eleanor fought her growing terror to stand her ground.  If she gave in and fled, it would only make things wildly worse.  Especially given where they were.  Still, she found herself unable to meet his furious eyes.  “Only Lydia,” admitted a small, scared voice while the entity in front of her watched with furious eyes.  A pair of hands landed on her shoulders in a vice-like grip, drawing her to look up at the supernatural male.  While he was extremely pissed, there was also a thread of fear.

    “Are you sure?  You didn’t mention it to Juno did you?” snarled out of him, his power swirling around him is a whipping wind.

    “Even if I hadn’t thought of asking Lydia, I’m not stupid enough to go to Juno,” she quipped, almost insulted by the implication.

    For many moments, he just stared down at her; as if trying to assess she was being truthful.  Then, without any warning, he was scooping her into a tight hug; squeezing her almost to the point that she couldn’t breathe.  “Don’t go askin’ around ‘bout that, understand?  You have no idea the powers you’re fuckin’ with,” whispered from above her, the air around them calming as his rage faded.

    “The spells used to bind me are ancient and powerful.  Only used as a last resort.  If the ‘Powers that be’ find out you’ve been snoopin’ around tryin’ to break them... well you don’t wanna find out what will happen,” he explained, brow still slightly furrowed as his filth coated hands ran through her ebony hair.

    “Never heard of them setting a Reaper on a mortal but, when I’m involved, they’ll do anything to ensure I stay bound,” he continued, a muscle ticking in his jaw from the mere thought of it.

    While this was information she already knew, she couldn’t help but rail against it.  She knew her experience with him had given her a bias but she felt the actions of the ones in power were a bit excessive.  Though, she freely admitted that was likely due to her chafing at the fact anyone is trying to control or use her beloved.  No matter what he had done in the past, she would still not like it much.  “If you’re serious about this, I can bring you some information sources.  Just... don’t go lookin’ on your own.  Yer damn lucky Lydia is the one you chose to come to,” whispered a gruff mid-tone, his grip on her tightening; almost as if he was afraid something would happen at that moment.

    Then, very slowly, he was pulling away from her; a strange expression on his pale, mold rimmed face.  Lifting one of his hands to cup her face, he kept eye contact, that odd expression evolving into something achingly gentle.  All too soon, however, his normal, teasing smirk was back in place and he was placing a kiss on her forehead.  “Now that we’ve gotten that all straightened out, would you like to do some exploring?” hummed a question that had her nodding enthusiastically.

    Before she knew it, they were riding in Doomie, the landscape becoming more nightmarish the deeper they went in.  Soon, it was more like something out of a disturbed person’s imagination.  What could be called the ground now twisted and spiraled into the ‘sky,’ the two almost becoming one entity.  It was like walking through the darkest parts of insanity and she had to close her eyes for prolonged moments to keep her own sanity intact.  Beside her, Betelgeuse had resumed the same form as yesterday.  A form that would be far more useful where they were going than his human guise.

    As risky as it was, he wanted to show her the very heart of both her world and his.  Where everything mixed together in a hellish stew to form the true reality.  He wanted her to see and understand just as he had so long ago.  He could only hope that she would remain intact upon witnessing the real face of the universe.  The place where the Old Ones roamed with impunity.  Where they still ruled over those they deemed lower.  The very cities where the progenitor species were engineered as a cruel joke.

    Only when she witnessed this place would she understand just why he was bound and what she would have to deal with if she wanted to free him.  Only then would she really see...  But, if he overestimated her ability to handle this place...  No!  She would be fine!  She had to be!  Tail wrapping tightly around her subconsciously, he focused on the mess ahead of him.  Nothing remained of what would be considered normal landscape.  Yet Doomie continued forward in the blur.  Despite seeing nothing ahead, he knew they would be arriving soon; a fact that both excited and terrified him.

    Nothing remained above or below them.  Not even darkness.  Yet, there were monstrous structures.  Twisted monoliths, maddening hulks mad by nothing of this world.  There was no sound yet the air vibrated with what could be called a mixture of rabid voices.  All speaking a language that held no right to call itself such.  Below them, devastation played out; only to reverse like a movie and play out all over again.  There had been a rebellion long before time had even been a thought.  Rather than die and admit defeat to those they considered lower, the Old Ones had locked themselves into an endless combat.  Neither side would ever lose.  Neither side would ever die.  Not until the Great One arose from his slumber.  The day that happened, all that was would end; swallowed by the madness at the center of it all.

    Past the ruined cities, past the frozen war, past the massive wall meant to separate the Old Ones and their experiments, past twisted, half formed castles full of maddening writing there lay the great wastes.  A place even the Old Ones dare not tread.  This place had spawned horrors even they could not comprehend of, two massive guardians keeping watch of the center of all things.  The one spark of life and light it had all spawned from.  Speeding over the hulking beasts below, Betelgeuse leaned over slightly.  Just enough that they would see and acknowledge who he was.

    Upon sighting his true form, the creatures fled.  It seemed they remembered, even after these countless centuries.  Smirking, he ordered Doomie to land lust outside the very center.  Using his tail to lift his lover, he placed her in front of him, the ‘ground’ below them shifting in and out of existence.  ‘Open your eyes.  Only do not look at me.  Look at the center, the truth,’ rumbled through the air to echo inside his companion’s head.  He was not surprised when she did not immediately heed his words.

    For a while now, Ellie had been unable to open her eyes; nearly driven insane by the unblockable sounds and ambient atmosphere.  Now that it was being asked of her, she was truly terrified of what she might see.  She felt like she was being pulled in all directions at once while staying in the same position; a constant buzzing noise replacing the voices from earlier.  Whatever was in front of her, she was sure it would drive her completely mad.  It was only when she felt the claws on her shoulders and the tail around her tighten that she became centered once more.  No matter what happened, there was a reason he wanted her to look.  So, with great reluctance, she lifted her eyelids.

    At first it was like looking into the sun.  Yet there was no pain.  Nor could she look away.  Ever so gradually, the brightness melted away for the most beautiful and yet most horrifying thing she had ever seen.  All things, all places, all times, all realities whirled before her eyes.  Heaving and twisting until they joined together to meet at this point.  The original mistake.  The genesis of creation.  She saw and she understood.  Body seizing, she felt all the air leave her lungs while her eyes rolled up and she knew no more.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    “You did what?!” hissed a feminine voice followed by frantic shushing.  A few feet away from the figures, a shape shifts in a large bed.

    “Outside.  She needs to rest right now,” husked a roughened whisper before a door clicked open and the pair exited.

    The moment they were in the hall a sharp slap rang out, a very pissed Lydia glowering at a seemingly indifferent Beetlejuice.  Unmoved by the hit, the bio-exorcist took out a cigarette and placed it between his lips.  “Lyds, babes, we’ve been through a lot and, at one time, you meant a lot to me.  But...,” hissed out of him along with a plume of clove scented smoke.

    “Don’t ever hit me again,” snarled his baritone, turning into a demonic rumble as his eyes turned yellow and the pupils became slits.

    Taking a step back, the spectral dean met his gaze steadily; glowering heavily.  Underneath the anger hid a fair amount of shock.  Of all the entities in the Neitherworld, she would have never thought she would fear her childhood friend.  Had the rift between them really become that deep?  Pushing her hurt aside, she pressed forward with her point.  “I’m sorry but you know full well you don’t just bring a breather to... to that place.  If she ever wakes up, she might not even be the person you know.  She’s lucky to even be alive,” the dark haired femme protested only to be cut off by her former companion teleporting mere inches in front of her.

    “Exactly!  Have you ever seen a fleshbag come back from that?  In all history, there has only been a small number that have seen the center and come back,” rumbled from above her, more resembling falling boulders than a voice.  Fighting the urge to cover her ears, she stood her ground despite nearly overwhelming fear.

    “None of them are entirely intact!  All of the humans are quite mad.  Even that author...,” whispered her firm, worried voice, ebony eyes flicking briefly to the closed door they had just come through.

    Instead of showing shared concern, a grin split too white skin to show off green, croggled teeth.  “Its not like I forced her.  Besides, if she’s anything like Lovecraft, I will greatly enjoy observing what she will do,” purred the spirit, seeming all too pleased with himself.

    “But why?!  You claim to love her!  You even moved here and enrolled her in my school because its what she wanted!  So why?!” came the one question the ghost hadn’t answered.  The silence that followed was almost more deafening than his voice had been before.  Just as she was beginning to wonder if she should ask him again, a soft sigh broke the quiet.

    “You remember what she asked you, yes?  She needs to understand just what I am and what dangers she will face if she wants to achieve her goal,” rasped a much more melancholy mid-tone as Betelgeuse finally took a step back.

    “She has to fully understand what I am before she decides to take such a risk.  Even if I long for the end to my binds, she has to know she is risking her life for a twisted soul.  Something that can’t become human ever again,” he finished, a haunted look on his moldy face.

    Pale brow furrowing slightly, Lydia sighed and began to rub her upper arms.  If the woman in the room next to them didn’t wake up there would be Hell to pay.  All realities would tremble for eternity due to his unending wrath and pain.  “I hope for all our sakes that she will be okay and that you haven’t made a massive mistake,” she murmured before simply taking her leave.  Whatever was going to happen, she was sure she didn’t want to be anywhere near.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Year One: Month Three~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    As days began to turn into weeks with no change in her condition, the normally unshakeable poltergeist was beginning to get concerned.  Yet, he didn’t dare involve Juno.  At best, she would send him away and forbid them from seeing eachother.  At worst, Ellie’s memory would be wiped and he would be sealed until someone else stumbled upon the spell to summon him.  Besides, physically she was in no real danger.  He could use his powers to keep her alive until she expired from old age if needed but he knew that would be no real life for her.  If this went on for too long, he would have to face the very real possibility of ending her life himself.

    The only thing that was keeping him sane was his ‘job’, the irony of his situation not lost on him.  Shifting in the chair beside her bed, Betelgeuse cradled his head in both hands while gritting his teeth hard enough to crack them.  “Babes, I’m so sorry...  I should have never taken you there,” gritted his roughened mid-tone, a callused hand enclosing one of her smaller ones.

    “But... if I hadn’t...  Fuck, I wish I knew what the right answer was,” whispered to the silent room.  He had no idea that somewhere, deep inside her own mind, Eleanor could hear him.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Darkness and cold, the only light a vague voice that couldn’t be made out.  Yet, there was a strong urge to move toward it.  A promise of safety, of warmth, of love.  A promise of protection from the things lurking in the abyss.  Abominations barely kept at bay by sheer strength of will.  Unfortunately, the voice didn’t come often enough and progress was slow.  Sanity was slipping and the demons were edging close.  Yet there had been headway toward salvation every time it had appeared.

    Unfortunately, the voice hadn’t come for a long while..  So long that the last bit of strength was fading.  The terrible gibbering was close now.  It would only be a matter of time.  Just as the first of the terrible things began to come close enough to see, it came.  The final hope.  The light of the voice.  So sad and so familiar.  Sensing escape was close and this was the last chance, there was one last effort to escape.  To come back to consciousness.

    Have to hurry.  The light could disappear at any moment.  So close to safety.  Just a little more.  Please, please don’t fade out now!  Was the light dimming already?  Just mere breaths from what felt like safety?  No!  Have to leap!  Have to jump for it!  Endless moments spent in a hellish in between.  Not knowing if the final act was successful or doomed to failure.  If the final hope had only been a cruel tease.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    A lone figure sat up in a dark room, roughened gasps leaving quivering lips.  Wide, panic filled eyes surveyed the inky blackness, terror only heightened by the slumped shadow beside them.  Yet, it was that same figure that also helped calm the horror just as quickly as it had risen.  So much time in the abyss had long ago taught her that there was no amount of light that could penetrate it.  Therefore, if she could see; let alone recognize her own self, she was finally...  With a deep inhale, Eleanor let out a sudden and very loud burst of nearly hysterical laughter.  Laughter that far too closely resembled a scream.

    In a jolt, Betelgeuse was on his feet; instinctually using his powers to turn on the lights as he got ready to defend his lover from whatever horror had come from the Netherworld.  When he saw only her staring at her hands as she continued to let loose the banshee shrieks, he grew more apprehensive.  A rictus of a grin stretched her lips almost to an unnatural degree, tears streaming from her maroon eyes; crazed gazed fixed entirely on her hands.  “Ellie?  Babes?” rumbled from him cautiously as he slowly closed distance.

    Head snapping up in an instant, the obviously crazed woman fixed her eyes on his; chest heaving.  Yet, under the haze of madness there was a massive amount of relief as well as happiness.  Without warning, she launched herself at the stripe clad specter; wrapping her arms around him tightly.  Immediately he tensed, ready to use his powers to restrain her if needed.  When she merely clung to him like a lifeline; her strange vocalizations fading for sobs, he felt joy wash over him.  Shaky arms wrapped around the tiny breather gently, tears rolling down moldy cheeks.

    She was conscious, she wasn’t completely insane.  He wouldn’t have to...  Knees buckling from the realization, Betelgeuse buried his face in his neck as he allowed the dam to break.  All his pain and fear left him at once, his arms keeping her close.  Though he really didn’t have to worry about her moving an inch.  After having gone through something beyond comprehension. Eleanor was just happy to feel his skin against hers.  To have his scent in her nose.  To feel his arms holding her.  After so long as nothing but a nebulous ball of consciousness trapped inside of her head, she was more than a little starved for sensation.

    Before either of them knew it, their lips were moving toward eachother; meeting with a passion of a couple desperate for eachother.  There was nothing sexual behind the action.  No, this was a different sort of hunger.  Tongues touched a carressed as if assured themselves the other was real, hand moving to cradle heads as the couple sank fully to the ground.  After many moments, the ghost pulled away to allow his lover to snatch a breath; forehead resting against hers.  Panting, Ellie stared at the chin mere inches from her face.  “Am I really here?  Am I free?  Or is this some sick vision conjured by my brain to distract me from the pain of my death?” husked out of her, sounding more like a frog croak than a human voice.

    “Not an easy thing to prove...  Especially after what you’ve been through.  Right now, just try to take it as you can.  I’ll be here as much as I can,” rumbled from above the barely cognizant femme, the sound of the voice helping to ground her.

    Whimpering, she wound her shaking hand into the worn threads of his coat; barely daring to blink.  “That was the Eldritch.  You... you awoke in the center of the unnamed city.  The city of the Old Ones,” came out of her mechanically, her head slowly tilting up as her glazed, maroon eyes locked onto his.  For endless moments their gazes locked, Ellie barely seeming to breathe.

    “No wonder they fear you,” husked her dry voice, followed by a hollow scratch of laughter.  Yet, she made no effort to move away.  Instead she rested her cheek on his chest, right below his chin.

    “Not me though... no, not me...,” whispered into the silent room while a pair of arms gently lifted her.

    Cradling her like she was made of glass, Betelgeuse laid on the bed before placing her beside him.  Curling around her, he began to caress her ebony hair.  “They are coming again...  Soon...  The Sleeping One is getting restless and those fools are so afraid of the truth they put blinders on themselves.  You were not a mistake, you are a harbinger,” mumbled out of her before she simply fell into an exhausted slumber, eyes still open and staring.  All the bio-exorcist could do was look down at her with a furrowed brow.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Year One: Month Four~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    As the days became weeks, several things became painfully clear.  Darkness was no longer okay.  Even blinking could set off several hours long bouts of hysteria.  Sleeping was an entire nightmare.  There was no peaceful rest anymore.  In fact, Ellie was lucky to snatch a couple hours before she was jolting awake; screaming like her life was about to be snuffed out.  This left Betelgeuse with a huge dilemma on his hands.  With his chains very much still in place, he had no choice but to leave when he was called; yet he couldn’t very well leave Ellie alone in this state.

    Another massive problem was he only knew two ghosts powerful enough to help care for her and he only trusted one of them.  Sighing, he pinched the bridge of his nose before swallowing his pride and calling for said person.  “Lydia Jacqueline Deetz,” breathed out of him.  A few seconds later, she was appearing; a mixture of apprehension and confusion on her face.

    “B?  You’ve never done a summoning for me before.  Did something happen with...,” she began to question, dark eyes moving to the form sitting on the couch in the living room.  While the TV was turned on, there was no sound.  Only faint music playing from a nearby radio.

    “Sh-she’s awake.  Is she....,” the dead woman whispered, terror beginning to fill her semi-transparent form.

    “No.  She’s almost the way she was before I took her there but there’s been some mental scarring,” he responded before pulling her aside to explain what had been happening.

    Considering all of the information, the dean nodded to herself.  “I can afford to keep an eye on her for a bit but what she really needs is... well... a paranormal psychologist,” she offered, grimacing at the irony of her words.  Even Betelgeuse seemed not to know whether to laugh at the situation or punch something.

    “So, she needs something that doesn’t exist yet.  Fucking great,” he hissed running a grubby hand down his equally filthy face.

    “There.. there is one other way,” Lydia pointed out reluctantly, flinching when the poltergeist spun his head to look at her.

    “You have to... to put her under again and go into her mind yourself.  See what it is that’s causing the trauma,” she continued in a hushed voice, shrinking into herself the more she spoke.

    What she was suggesting was highly controversial, many considering it a type of mind control or brainwashing.  Therefore, it had been forbidden a long time ago by the ‘powers that be’.  If Betelgeuse wanted to end her unlife for daring to even suggest it, he would be fully within his rights.  Instead, he was wrapping his arm around her in a tight hug.  “Thank you...  Just stay here to keep an eye on her,” rasped in her ear before he was releasing her and striding toward his current lover.

    Stopping so he was next to her, he belt next to Eleanor.  Despite the dark circles under her eyes and her obvious internal distress, she had insisted on continuing her studies.  Many long nights had been spent with books pertaining to the subject she was hoping to major in.  What she had seen had given her more drive than ever.  Just like it had with a certain author.  More and more notes were made outlining where she had been and what she had experienced.  Hers would probably be the most recent notes of the beings and their realm since the days of the writer.  And, just like him, they would likely be shrugged off as fiction or the ravings of a madwoman.

    Kneeling down slowly so he didn’t startle her, the bio-exorcist cleared his throat to get her attention.  As she turned to lock her weary eyes with his, a warm smile stretched her dried, cracked lips.  “B.J., is there something you want?” husked out of her, her breath foul due to dehydration.

    “First of all, let’s take a break to sip some water.  After you have a drink and a snack, I have a proposal for you,” murmured his worried mid-tone before he was straightening and going to the kitchen.  Watching the whole scene was a bemused and faintly jealous Lydia.

    If she hadn’t been so blind to his feelings.  If only she hadn’t tried to push away her experiences as she had gotten older.  But there was no reason to expound on what she couldn’t change.  Instead, she would support the pair as best she could.  Moving toward the couch, she made sure to hum to herself as she got closer.  Smiling when the younger female turned her head, she felt a fair amount of hope when the poor thing returned the grin.  “Hey Ms. Deetz.  Are you and B.J. going to try to help me?” she whispered, her words sending a chill up the entity’s spine.  Yet, she didn’t question how Ellie had known.  After speaking with the novelist, such a thing was pretty much to be expected.  This didn’t make it any less unsettling and she found herself relieved when Betelgeuse returned to the room.

    Said poltergeist offered her a sandwich as well as a glass of cola, watching while the living woman practically inhaled the offering.  Once she had eaten, she looked up at her partner with a trusting expression.  “I know what you’re about to ask and the answer is yes.  I trust you to help me,” she whispered, leaning forward to offer her forehead.

    “Alright.  I will keep you safe.  Close your eyes,” he whispered, placing his lips on her skin.  With the tiniest amount of his power, he placed her into a deep sleep.  Then, without another word, he was disappearing into her; completely trusting Lydia to take care of things on the outside.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Mindscape: Day 1~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    The Frozen City encompassed reality, combatants forever stuck in a battle.  Strange hissing echoing off the walls of the structures, a hulking figure pulls itself upright.  Sharp claws scraped on the unworldly stone below while wild, yellow eyes opened.  ‘Shit!  Why’d it have to be here!  If she see me like this...,’ rumbled a not voice, seeming to echo endlessly in the dead metropolis.  Growling low, the striped beast forced itself to its feet.

    ‘No, that doesn’t matter.  Have to find her.  Have to try to draw her out of this mess,’ boomed the voice again before the abomination was lifting a triangular snout into the air.  Inhaling deeply, it caught the faint scent of life.  A beacon to anything that lurked in this hellish place.

    In an instant, it was moving; far faster than its form seemed capable of.  Its filthy, blonde mane streamed behind it while it jumped from buildings to gain a better height advantage, its cruel claws easily digging into a metal unknown by man.  Following the scent, it made its way to a high bridge.  A bridge that led to one of the aristocratic areas.  The building that had housed the creators, the experimenters.  Heart leaping into its throat, the creature scrambled onto the massive passageway; racing forward in the hopes it was not too late.  If a stray Shoggoth found her... no, it would not allow that to happen.

    As it drew closer, it began to slow; scenting no danger nearby and not wanting to frighten her more than she already was.  Peeking into a rounded tower, it tentatively called out for her.  ‘Ellie?’  The reply was a flurry of motion and a cry of the creature’s name.  Yet, as much as it wanted to comfort her in this moment, it could not risk her seeing its form.

    ‘Stop!  Please.  Close your eyes and allow me to move to you,’ it pleaded, only feeling a small bit of relief when she obeyed.

    Despite the questions buzzing in her mind, she honored his request.  Closing her eyes, she took a breath and called for him.  “Alright, they’re closed.”  The sound that followed next made her skin crawl.  The sound of claws and something heavy dragging itself along the floor.  Yet, when the thing nudged her, she didn’t flinch.

“Betelgeuse,” sighed from her lips, her hands exploring the top of what felt like a snout.

    ‘I’m here.  You’re safe now,’ purred in her head and around her.

    After a few moments, the being nudged her towards his massive body; rumbled in approval when she began to fumble with her hands.  ‘When you feel hair, use it to pull yourself up.  You won’t harm me,’ instructed the voice of her beloved.  Brow furrowing, she allowed herself to play with the strange feeling locks as she contemplated his orders.  Just as she opened her mouth to ask if he was sure, there was a slithery sound behind her; making all the hair on her body stand on end.

    ‘Do it now!  We have to get out of here!’ snarled the ambient voice, letting her know just how bad the situation had become.

    Blindly and hoping she wasn’t pulling too hard, Eleanor heaved herself onto her lover’s back.  Whimpering, she wound her hands in the wiry, greasy hair; burying her face in it as the beast beneath her took off running.  She could feel every leap, each sway, the scrabble of claws against the buildings and his breathing.  To her surprise, despite the amount of acrobatics he was displaying, it had stayed even and unlabored.  Behind them, she could hear something pursuing them.  Something that sounded wet and yet dry.  Something that had teeth, claws and tentacles.  Something that reeked of death and blood.  Something that instinctually made her feel the extreme need to get away from it.

    All too aware of his companion’s fear, the transformed ghost made his way toward the only place the Shoggoth would not follow.  The very place they had been created.  The grand Laboratory at the center of the noble’s quarter.  That meant going upward as well as forward.  Using his reformed limbs to his advantage, he easily kept ahead of the horror chasing them.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, he reached the zenith of the buildings.  After a quick scan of the area, he saw the great dome and began running across the tops of the structures to reach it.

    Once he was mere feet from the huge dome, he leapt from the tops of the buildings; hitting the ground with a resounding thud.  Unable to take a moment to see if his companion was alright, he galloped toward the door; easily plowing through it and to safety.  Turning to see where the Shoggoth was, he couldn’t help but smile when it had stopped many feet away from the laboratory.  Endless lifetimes had passed and it still remembered the tortures carried out here.  All of them did.  Letting loose a booming cry that sounded like a horrible amalgam of animals, the black mass of horrors turned around and retreated the way it had come.

    Still trying to catch her breath from her mount hitting the ground so hard, Eleanor squeaked when she felt a blunt muzzle nudge her.  Keeping her eyes shut, she fumbled with her hands until she felt the familiar texture of his strange skin beneath them.  ‘You alright babes?’ he rumbled, drawing a breathy chuckle from her.

    “Yeah, just out of breath.  Any idea of what we have to do here?” the shaken femme panted, relaxing just a bit now that they weren’t being hunted.

    ‘This city is just a projection of your mind.  We have to find the source of your fear and... you must face it alone,’ murmured an answer she had never hoped to hear.








 

*‘Enough I say!’

 

**‘You dare use the old tongue to try to command me?!  You, who could not begin to comprehend how many lifetimes I have seen.  How many fools like you I have seen get exterminated for being too dangerous.’

 

***‘Now, unless you want to become like them, I suggest you just come along quietly for now.  I promise, I will try to work on ways to keep them away from you in the future.  So please...’

 

****‘Daemon’



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