Author's Note: What follows is a roleplay between myself, TheArtOfSuicide, and my friend, SinnaNasti. They are writing as Betelgeuse and I as Lydia. Because of the nature of roleplay, the point of view changes often and you will see each event as it was perceived by our renditions of these characters. It's being posted here so that we can have a comprehensive archive to look back on and reread easily. Please be warned going in that this may never have a clean or concise ending as that is not the point of roleplay.
Scales & Silk
He hated this. Hated it deeply and with a passion he hadn't felt since he was in the Deetz's house. Just the thought of that place made his already sour mood turn even worse. He was supposed to be spending his honeymoon with Lydia, the little brat, not in the darkest corner of the Netherworld they could find after the sandworm consumed him. Betelgeuse had been chased throughout the realm of the dead for his crimes against both the living and the dead, then captured in a tiny alleyway he tried to snake his way through.
He steamed, both mentally and literally. The chains around his body stung and burned his skin. His nose was filled with the smell of char while the smoke from the fire beneath burned his eyes. Maybe this was what hell was actually like, or what his cigarettes felt like when he puffed away at them.
Betelgeuse tipped his head back and tried to get some cool, fresh air on his face. They put his cage right near a vent, the barest of breezes kissing his cheeks when he moved just right and set still for a fleeting moment. But there was nothing this time, no relief from the heat that pressed in on him, and the ghost snarled his frustration. One leg kicked out‒ his only free limb‒ to the bars around him, pushing out between them. The heat of the fire turned more intense the moment he did, making Betelguese hiss as he yanked his leg back into the cramped cage.
He would give his left nut to get out of this. Both if he could get back to the living world and get his hands on Lydia for making this happen.
The word stayed with Lydia as she tossed and turned in her sheets that night, unable to find rest.
"He's getting an exorcism," Barbara had hushed, leveling a grim stare to her husband over their expressed copy of The Netherworld Times. Juno very kindly took the time to send them issues every now and again so they could keep up with Betelgeuse's case. They didn't think Lydia knew about the arrangement, but she did.
"... serves him right."
"‒What are you guys talking about?"
"Nothing, nothing at all, sweetie. How was school? Didn't they send out report cards today?"
The subject was changed, and the newspaper was gone from sight as if it had never been there… but not before Lydia got an eyeful of bold black and white stripes plastered across the front page.
Did it serve him right?
This question kept her distracted all through doing her homework and an hour of study with Adam. The answer continued to elude her as she pushed uneaten food around her dinner plate, appetite gone. Now, hours later, while even the dead that haunted her domain slept and guilt churned in her gut, she found the answer. It wasn't one anyone else in her life would agree with, but it was the only truth her heart could recognize.
No. No, he didn't deserve it.
In a flash, she was up, throwing on a pair of boots and flying down the stairs just as quickly and quietly as possible. What needed to be done could not happen there. She needed space, a radius of area that could take whatever wrath he might have been in the mood to dish out. Could she really blame him?
Her legs broke into a sprint as she crossed the threshold the Maitlands couldn't, clunky combat boots catching on the train of her nightgown and sending her knees skidding painfully over gravel. She hissed, brushed off the dirt, then broke back into the run, holding her long skirt higher now.
Time moved differently there. What if she was too late? What if it was already done and no one came when she called? Unfamiliar emotion bubbled in her throat at the thought, eyes stinging.
"Betelgeuse!" She gasped once the house was out of sight. This clearing was a favorite of hers. If he was going to kill her in a fit of vengeful rage, Lydia couldn't think of anywhere else she would rather die. Bent over herself, fighting to catch her breath, and slicked with sweat, leaves caught in her long swathe of wavy dark hair, she appeared as someone who had been through an ordeal before arriving at where they were.
"Betelgeuse… Betel… geuse…"
The tingle that went up his spine at his name, gasped and sounding in a familiar voice, made Betelgeuse jerk in surprise. He hadn't heard her in a while, hadn't expected to hear her. He was amazed she could even reach into the deep, dark hole he was forced into. His chains rattled when he shoved himself up onto his knees, eyes wide, and mossy teeth showing in the fire's glow.
When Lydia breathed the last syllable and he was taking in cold, fresh air, he swore he could kiss the girl. But then he remembered she was the reason he was locked up to begin with. His skin still stung from the chains, clothes singed from embers, and he looked even rattier than when she met him the first time. Betelgeuse looked her over, saw the skids and tears on her nightgown from where she fell on the gravel, and a part of him felt sadistic pleasure at her pain.
"So… You decided ya wanted more o' me, eh? Can't blame ya, I'm a treat to be around," he hummed. Betelgeuse fluffed his jacket's lapels, grinning at her. She looked like she had run a mile, sweating like a whore in church. It was a sight he enjoyed immensely.
Her reasoning for summoning him didn't matter too much in his mind, all that he cared about was that she did it, actually got him out of his cage. He was out of the heat and away from the fire, haunting his favorite mortal of her own volition. Betelgeuse stepped towards her, reaching out with a grimy hand to take a piece of her jet black hair between two fingers. He spoke again, rubbing the strand while wearing a wicked grin.
"Gotta say I missed ya, Lyds. Was thinkin' 'bout you the whole time I was down in the hole," Betelgeuse said. This close he didn't need to speak too loud, but his smell couldn't be pleasant. He had to be pretty ripe after so long in the heat.
"Did ya miss me too? Have a feelin' ya did, else ya wouldn'ta called me. Bet ya wanna try that hitchin' thing again, even kept that nice ring I gave ya." Betelgeuse grinned wider, winking and tugging her hair.
Too late, Lydia remembered that she was wearing his ring. There it was, the small silver bit gleaming under the moonlight clear as anything on her right hand's ring finger‒ the finger a widow would wear it. Due to its placement and understated design, neither her parents or Adam and Barbara had noticed she kept it. They probably wouldn't have liked it very much, but what was she supposed to do? Throw away the wedding ring an honest to God poltergeist used to propose to her?
Self-conscious that he'd pinned it so quickly, kicking herself for forgetting to take it off first before leaving on her little night time trip, the guilty hand crumpled into her skirt.
"They‒" her breath hadn't quite caught up with her yet, unaided by his close proximity and presumptuous handling. Was he flirting with her? Was he mad? Both? Lydia couldn't tell. "They were going to kill you."
His scent was strong, but no more so than her own stinking sweat or the damp forest around them. At his blank look, she realized what a stupid thing she had just said.
"Permanently. 'Exorcism.' That's what they said. I couldn't… It's not right."
A convenient nearby tree caught her back as she pulled instinctively away from him, her small, tired form slumping against its trunk. This cornered her if he decided to pursue, she knew, but her screaming legs didn't care and welcomed the break.
"I didn't uhm," she wiped a sleeve across her forehead, the thin cotton coming away damp, "didn't really think this through, honestly. The ring is uh… shit…"
It wasn't really hers, after all, was it? Maybe this was reparable. Maybe another act of good faith would redeem her in his eyes. Frazzled, grasping at whatever she thought might please him and alleviate her massive guilt, she pulled the shiny piece from her finger and thrust it out for him to take.
"Here. It's yours. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have kept it. I shouldn't‒" have done a lot of things. "I shouldn't have it. Please take it back."
Betelgeuse watched her move around, following her with his fingers still pinched on her hair like it was a leash. The thought of exorcism made his skin crawl‒ it was the worst fate a ghost could be dealt. He was caught off guard by her saying he didn't deserve it, that it wasn't right.
She shouldn't have cared about him being exorcised. She shouldn't have kept the ring. The latter he could explain away by her macabre interests, but the former… That was a sign of care, of her feeling something about him.
"Exorcised, huh? Didn't think I was a bad enough boy for all that," he snickered dismissively. Betelgeuse squatted in front of her, thighs yelling a bit when he did so. His pants also protested, stretching tight across the meat of his thighs and going flush against his crotch.
"Yer too sweet for yer own good, y'know? Sweet little Lyds, savin' me from a terrible fate," he cooed. Some part of him hated that sweetness in her bleeding heart, the sheer martyrdom that she held on her sleeve like a badge of honor. Lydia was too selfless and he detested it for reasons that were difficult to place, but damn did it do something to him.
The ring on her widow finger, then coming off gave him a little rush of hurt in the bottom of his gut.
"Gave it to ya, didn't I? Ain't mine no more. N' why the widow finger? Cause Mommy Babs offed me with her sandworm?"
A jab, he needed to be prickly with her. Hurt the girl some, keep his demeanor mean so she didn't feel too sweet for him. But even as he said it, he accepted the ring from her hand. It was warm from her body heat, a much more pleasing warmth than the fire he escaped. He rolled the ring between his fingers and soaked the warmth into his cold palms before stealing Lydia's left hand. Softer than he would admit, the silver bit was slid onto her left ring finger. It looked too good on her.
Betelgeuse sighed as he looked at the silver twin of his own ring, pulling the gold band out of his coat pocket to slide it on his corresponding digit.
"Y'know they're gonna come after me, right? Netherworld police don't take kindly to gettin' skimped outta their exorcisms," he rasped, grinning again. It was a dark, ugly thing. He took his hand away from hers to adjust the tight stretch of his pants across his dick, sinking onto one knee to alleviate some pressure.
Very still and silent, Lydia allowed him to replace her ring in the proper position, watching like a hawk as he proceeded to make his appear and do the same for himself. For some reason, she had thought it much more likely he would want her blood over her hand. The possibility of finishing their wedding had not even been a thought in her mind when she sprinted out here like a madwoman in the dead of night to save his soul.
... But she hadn't saved it. They were still going to come for him, and it was all her fault. She hadn't done anything. Recommitted to the original goal by this revelation, she recalled the words he spoke to her not so long ago; I want out. For good.
It was still possible to save him.
All these thoughts rushed through her hyper-alert mind at a mile a minute as he oh so casually crouched down over where her legs had failed, not at all alarmed by his impending demise‒ not the way she was. Once the ring was settled on the proper finger, his hand kept hold of hers longer than necessary, his fingers stroking over hers. It was intimate, without a doubt the most romantic experience of her life to date.
Then, he released, and so did her breath, and the moment was over. It was powerful enough for Lydia to know what he needed from her without further vocalization on his part.
"But they can't get you if you marry me."
It wasn't a question. Her heart hammered in her throat, and she was suddenly acutely aware of how dry her lips were. Without hesitation, before she could even conceptualize why this might be a bad idea, her head was nodding up and down very slowly, almost zombie-like.
"I'll do it."
Just like she should have the first time. Death always got his due.
Betelgeuse stilled, eyes wide. Was she really offering what he thought she was? Now his hatred of her good soul reared up in annoyance, and he was sorely tempted to be nasty to the girl. The ghost rubbed an exasperated palm down his face, bits of moss rejoining the forest floor as they were pushed loose. She was too nice to him, too nice in general, and he loathed it so. But then again, he couldn't deny the pleasure it also gave him to be on the receiving end of her sweetness.
Betelgeuse shuffled closer, planting a hand on her calf. Smooth skin, white as porcelain, would undoubtedly bruise if he pressed too hard. He wanted to bruise her, make her bear not only his ring but also proof of his owning her. If she wanted to, and pushed hard enough, he would let her mark him as well.
"Y'know what that means, yeah?" His voice was a low rumble as he spoke. Both for the intimidation factor and for the knowledge of what his voice did to the ladies. "You bein' my little wifey… I get to have ya when I want, where I want. Fill that lil' pussy up when I like, mark ya up in every way so's you always know who yer daddy is. Sure you want that?"
He had a wicked grin on his face as his dirty fingers pressed into her chin, forcing Lydia to look him in the eyes while he made his threats. Betelgeuse was already imagining her prancing around in the skimpiest outfits in a house just for them‒ making dinner in just an apron, lounging in a striped babydoll… It made his mouth water. He swallowed thickly, thumb running up and over Lydia's bottom lip. She was ready to risk everything just to get his ass saved.
He would call her an idiot if she wasn't the smartest breather he'd ever met.
"N' I'll be out. Could do anythin' t'the livin' world, anythin' I pleased. Y'wanna take that risk, kid?"
He had to make sure, had to give her every possible leg to stand on short of giving her his own. She needed to know exactly what she was getting into; he needed to have some kind of ace to tuck in his sleeve.
Why was he trying to scare her into saying no? He was still angry. He didn't need to yell or rage or hit her for her to feel it seeping off of him in waves. Shameless with his vulgarity, he felt along her leg, a grubby mitt on her jaw forcing her to look him in the eye while he threatened her with vile acts.
"It's not about what I want…"
It was about what was right and good and true. What she could live with, and what she could not, and what she could not live with was to allow the loss of this fiend's immortal soul to hang over her head the rest of her life and then some. He put on one hell of a farce, but he wasn't as evil as he wanted everyone to think he was and Lydia knew it. Jade eyes burned into hers, fierce and hungry for a reaction. She refused him the anger and indignation he was expecting, instead very gently bringing her ring-bearing hand to grasp the wrist of the gorilla paw he was using to bruise her jaw.
Unlike his, her grip and soft and forgiving, a nonverbal promise that she truly didn't mean him any harm.
"But yes. If‒ if you think that's necessary, then yes. But… if you're just going to use your freedom to run around hurting people, then I guess I'll have to change my mind and go home. I don't want to do that."
He hated this. She should be scared and cowering and begging him to not breed her like she was some prize bitch he won. She wasn't supposed to be calm in the face of what he represented. Part of Betelgeuse wanted to hurt her, give her a show of what she'd get when married to him, whether she wanted it or not. But he couldn't. Not her, not like that, who was he kidding? Stupid kid owned most of his cold, dead heart, and he could barely stomach the thought of ruining her that way.
Additionally, he had laid claim to her virginity a long damn time ago, and that cherry couldn't be popped with force.
Well. It could, but where was the fun in that?
The warmth of her ring pressed into his skin and he loosened his grasp on her. He was hurting her with every second he let himself stew, purple bruises looming just under her skin and slapping him with shame. Betelgeuse hummed, falling back on his ass before tugging Lydia into his lap forcefully. Being away from everyone, locked in the cage, had made him touch starved. Now that he was in the cold damp of Winter River on the edge of spring, he craved her living warmth. The poltergeist held her in his lap, arms wrapped tight around her tiny waist to keep her in place.
"What, can't terrorize the livin'? What 'bout the lil bitches you hate at yer stupid school, huh? Don't want me t'make 'em shit 'emselves on the daily for fuckin' with ya?"
He was a grumbly mess, on the verge of pouting. She was a martyr, a sacrificial lamb, and he should have known she would be willing to take the brunt of his mistreatment for the sake of keeping him away from others. But in his opinion, a marriage to a hot goth and the prospect of torturing her was leagues better than being exorcised and thrown into the pit of forgotten souls.
"Fine, whatever. Won't fuck with the livin', scout's fuckin' honor, I'll just harass the dead," he sighed, holding up three fingers‒ produced from his coat pocket‒ in his right hand. "Too nice for yer own good, babes. Takin' my full force against lil' ol' you, just to save yer fellow man. What a fuckin' hero. Almost makes ya sick."
In his opinion, the more selfish the better‒ that was how he had lived and that's how he had made a name for himself in the Netherworld.
"But I figure we gotta wait a lil' bit for things to cool some- can't have 'em knowing I'm here just yet or I'll be sandworm food again and eep." His voice went up three octaves with the final noise, clutching his throat with one hand whilst the other kept its place high on Lydia's thigh.
When he grabbed her up so abruptly, snuggling her in close to his chest on his lap like a beloved teddy bear by a rambunctious child, she went painfully rigid. Fight or flight instincts were screaming to be indulged, but Lydia focused intently on keeping her breathing calm to chase them away. This was the price. She agreed to let him do this. Fighting now would only invalidate everything she'd just said.
But it was so hard. He was terrifying her with his lewd threats, and it was taking everything she had not to let on how deeply she feared what he had in store for her. It didn't help that he clearly revelled in her discomfort, teasing and poking and prodding to try and force any nastiness out of her that he could. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction. It did not go beyond her notice that he was hyperfixating on the part of their deal that meant she was saving mankind from his wrath‒ in doing so completely ignoring that she wouldn't need to save them if she just let him perish the way everyone believed he was meant to.
"Primum non nocere," she quoted, eyes closed, unclenching the tiny, pathetic fists that wanted to break his crooked nose. "First, do no harm. I'm sorry I went back on our deal, and I'm sorry Barbara did that to you, and I'm sorry that‒ that they thought those were good enough reasons to put you on death row. I'm sorry. It's my fault. I was scared. I know that's not an excuse, but it's what happened."
There. She could feel a supreme weight lifting off her chest. She wasn't absolved completely, not yet, but just saying it all out loud made her feel so much better.
"I didn't mean to back out. I didn't think it was going to be like that. I thought‒ I don't know, I thought I would just sign a marriage certificate or something and it would be fast and quiet and‒ I'm so stupid."
The sun was coming up. The sight of the dull red haze on the horizon made her groan, and finally fight against his hold to get to her feet. He wouldn't let her.
"I have to go home to get ready for school. I promise I'm not going to send you back. Please just let me go to school."
He rested his chin atop her head, enjoying her weight against him and the soft curve of her ass between his thighs. She was still thin, but had some curve to her that she didn't have when they met. Her apology hit him harder than he expected, like a sucker punch to his gut, and he looked down to check if she had punched him with her pale fists.
It hurt when she said she was stupid. Much more than he wanted.
"Ain't stupid," he grunted against her hair. The softness was intoxicating, as was the smell. Some kind of jasmine mixed with other scents‒ something he could get used to. Betelgeuse was uncharacteristically gentle as he turned her around so they faced one another and his hand cupped her delicate cheek.
She was too perfect, too sweet, too… Angelic. The thought of tying her down to himself, being a ball and chain for her… It hurt and thrilled him at the same time. He was the one to spoil that innocence, clip her wings… his own pet angel in the form of a mortal girl with honey brown eyes. Betelgeuse brushed a kiss over her cheekbone, sighing. He must have smelled like a campfire and mausoleum mixed with trash, but Lydia stayed calm and with him.
"Honestly, babes, yer the smartest broad I ever met, dead or alive. Wasn't your fault, didn't know better," he reassured her, petting her soft hair. The sun coming up had him itching to see the world, explore like he wanted. But he wanted her close, just a little longer, so he held Lydia tight even as she struggled. The friction felt nice enough that he encouraged the wriggling, smirking over her head. At the mention of school his nose wrinkled.
"Hate school. Fuckin' waste o' time. But I'd kill to fuck with some snot-nosed brats." He cackled at the thought before letting Lydia go. The watches on his arm would leave pretty red marks in the softness of her tummy where they had dug in; he wanted so badly to see the number they did on her.
"Let's getcha home and to school then, Lyds. Can't have ya be late," Betelgeuse crowed.
He scooped her up bridal style, then slung the girl over his shoulder with ease, making his way back to her house. As much as he hated the idea of being invisible to everyone and ignored by Lydia, this was going to be fun.