Lost & Found @theartofsuicide
Chapter 13

Weeks passed. Betel swore to the heavens that if she wasn't pregnant, he had no problem with fighting a God.

No period. Maybe it was thrown off again? He had no idea… the last pregnant woman he'd dealt with had been horrendously ill almost immediately! Of course… his Lydia had to be different.

It wasn't until he was actively trying to gross her out that he got any sort of out of the ordinary behavior at all. He had been sitting in the library while she read to him, some story about a girl sassing the man who wanted to marry her. He was not really invested. What did catch his attention was that as he popped flies from the windowsills into his mouth, Lydia was watching him.

Very closely.

Without her usual disgust.

He raised an eyebrow. Popped a fly. She licked her lips.

"Y'okay, babes?"

They looked so tasty. Unaware that she had stopped reading to watch him, she paid the utmost scrutiny to the way his supernaturally long tongue curled around each little morsel. Crunch. Her stomach panged with want.

Y'okay, babes?

Like that, she snapped out of it, eyes wide with embarrassment at being caught ogling.

"I'm fine!"

The answer came too loud and shrill. Lydia was acutely aware of it, refocusing her attention on Pride & Prejudice with an overcompensating renewed intensity. It was a worthless effort. Within minutes, she was back to watching him, peeking over the edge of the book's pages to focus in on the scrumptious little corpses he kept popping in his mouth.

Better to address the matter first before he did.

"What… what do they taste like…?"

He chewed at his fly, thinking through the answer to her question. In truth, she was the only thing that tasted like anything at all to him… He ate the insects out of habit, and because it grossed people out. Not because they tasted good. He picked up one particularly plump fly and set it in front of her.

"Why don't ya try? Can't hurt ya. I mean, I ate bugs in life and I turned out great!"

He grinned to himself. This was it! It had to be… Nothing could make his sweet, innocent wife want to join him in entomophagy other than bearing his child... It had to be. He sat up from where he'd been lounging to rub her back gently.

"I mean if it looks good to ya… nothin' stoppin' ya. Just one…"

Lydia was conflicted. Higher thought violently rejected the idea even as her tummy curdled and cried out with want. Indecision showed on her face as she squirmed and stared at the not-so-generous offering. He was right though, wasn't he? What was the worst that could happen?

You love it.

Grimacing further, she ever so hesitantly reached out to take it, comforted by the large, cold hand rubbing soothing circles on her back. Everything she had ever known to be true and right was flying out the window in this moment, her world view teetering as her stomach growled.

"This is wrong…"

The smallish whisper was a plea for help, but Satan knew her dastardly husband wouldn't be coming to the rescue. Nearly in tears, she yanked off the bandaid, throwing the little bug into her mouth and sealing her lips before instinct could let her spit it out. Long seconds passed. The cartilage in her throat shuddered as she swallowed it down. Ambrosia.

Given a taste, and with his permission spurring her on, her hunger sparked alive at full throttle.

"More," she demanded, forgetting herself, gaze flickering over the windowsill. Empty. Damn. "I want more. I don't know why, I just‒ I'm so hungry. Do you know where I can find more?"

He couldn't help but chuckle as she popped the fly into her mouth and seemingly had a revelation. Her soft, honey-colored eyes widened and she started looking for more. To say he was pleasantly shocked would be an understatement. A gleeful cackle left him and he took her hand, leading her out of the library.

"O' course I do, kitten! I got stashes all over the place."

He ran his hand lovingly over her stomach. He saw no other explanation… she had to be pregnant. His plan set in motion to keep her with him for all time. This was a thrilling development. Nothing better than his plan coming together.

The garden was his favorite place to rummage for bugs. He settled his wife in her favorite patio chair and went to collect them a snack. Beetles and worms were quickly dispatched and put into a bowl. He even found a centipede, licking his lips as he brought the haul back to Lydia.

"Here ya go, babes. Insect A La Mode."

"What's wrong with me?" She groaned painfully with a mouthful of half-chewed vermin, some of them still kicking back against her tongue in protest of their grim demise. It was. So. Fucking. Good. Fully bawling now, disgusted with herself, she bit the centipede clear in half.

She couldn't get enough. Soon, the bowl was empty, but she couldn't bring herself to ask for more. Tia yipped and pouted until Lydia stooped down to collect her, the pup vicariously distressed by her mother's upset. The sour taste of oil and slick guts was still coating her tongue. While logically she knew that it was disgusting and foul and she shouldn't want more, she hungered, despairing at the sight of the empty bowl before her.

Where had this come from? It was unnatural.

"B-Beej," she sniveled, frightened by her traitorous body's sudden unsettling cravings. "I think‒ I'm sick. This isn't‒ it's not right. Help me."

Aw, she was so upset. Didn't she understand that sometimes a hunger had to be met? After all, why did she think he started eating bugs in the first place? A lack of other sustenance resulted in desperate measures.

"Darlin', maybe we should… look into a pregnancy test? We ain't exactly been careful… n' we both know the bug eatin' could be somewhere infectin' my genetics. Yer right… this ain't like you."

He rubbed a large hand down her back, trying to soothe her worries. He could tell this was bothering her more than he'd expected it to. Still, he couldn't help but be intrigued by this new side of his wife. He could tell this was a startling concept for Lydia, her eyes widening as she looked at him. He held up his hands as though confessing his innocence.

"Just sayin' babes. Dunno if we should rule it out."

What the fuck was he talking about? Pregnant!? It was absurd! Impossible! She couldn't be, she just couldn't! For a long while, she stared at him, wrought with shock and horror at the very suggestion.

"You're dead," were the first words out her mouth after he dropped the bomb; a grounding fact that proved the insanity of what he was saying. It came out unnaturally quiet and calm despite her clear distress.

You're alive, her mind supplied in petty disagreement as she noticed an innocent beetle crawling through the grass and felt a sick urge to swallow it down.

He was right. It couldn't be ruled out as a possibility.

"I can't… be pregnant." Her voice cracked, tiny hands curling over her belly as if she could somehow feel the threat of burgeoning life that might have been dwelling. "I'm too young. We're too young! I can't!"

He was quick to comfort her, rubbing her back gently as the suggestion settled into her. She was clearly disturbed, but he couldn't help but feel excitement settle into his stomach.

"I know, babes... But these things happen to crazy newlyweds all the time! We can just… take a walk down into town and get a test. No harm no foul."

He picked her up and settled her on his lap, reaching for the beetle for himself. Maybe she would keep wanting the bugs, but for now, he was loathed to feed them to her. If she really was pregnant, she would need to eat right and get vitamins that insects couldn't provide. A hand on her back led her toward the gate, guiding her off the grounds and down the hill, hell-bent on getting to the pharmacy as quickly as her short, mortal legs would allow.

His efforts at comforting were appreciated but meant little to his teenage bride. Their walk down the hill into town saw her pretty face crumpled with uncertainty while her ghostly husband chatted her up, invisible to all but her. For all intents and purposes, she appeared nothing more than a lonely, troubled girl holding herself to stave off the cold.

Eyes watched her from a distance. Neither ghost nor girl noticed.

He wasn't allowed to follow her into the bathroom after giving her money to purchase the three most expensive tests they had available. Lydia beelined for the single-stall restroom at the back of the small, sad building after saying thank you to the snide old woman running the register. She didn't have to say anything derogatory. Her wrinkled sneer conveyed plenty.

Panicked thoughts filtered through Lydia's head at a record pace while she waited, pacing back and forth across the off-white but technically clean tile. Waiting and waiting and waiting, unconcerned for the equally impatient yet disturbingly unrattled poltergeist on the other side of the door. When she finally emerged, her hands and knees were shaking. She looked as she did that first night in their honeymoon suite; ghastly white, terrified, and ready to bolt at a moment's notice.

"I want… to go home…"

He paced as he waited, the teenaged attendant keeping a close eye on the bathroom. He was sure he thought Lydia was doing something obscene in there, but he couldn't be pressed to care. When she reemerged, he‒ still invisible to all but her‒ pulled her out of the attendant's line of sight, a large hand rubbing up and down her arm slowly in an attempt to provide calm.

He carefully took the test from her trembling hand and looked at it. There, clear as day and in plain English.


"Yeah… yeah, baby let's go home." He looked around them as though he were smuggling something out. The vaguely familiar teenager was watching Lydia with rapt attention. Betelgeuse was too distracted to notice when the kid snapped a picture on his phone, a nasty sort of grin sliding over his face.

Upon their arrival back to the castle‒ as soon as she was out of sight of civilization, he wooshed them back directly to the bedroom‒ she broke down. These were not happy tears. Once again, her world was tumbling down around her. How was she supposed to take care of a baby? She could barely take care of herself!

And why was Betelgeuse so calm? As if he'd fathered a thousand freaks of nature and this was just another notch in his paternal belt. That was a distressing thought. Paired with how she caught a mystery insect leg stuck inbetween her molars, it made her stomach roil and curdle until she was flying across the room to lock herself in the bathroom and expel all the half-digested vermin into the toilet.

Logically, she knew that Betelgeuse could just phase through the wood and stone if he wanted in badly enough, but she couldn't stomach looking at his calm, happy face. Sweating and shaking, she slid down the door to sit on the ground, bury her face in her knees, and think.

What were her options here, really? There weren't any. Daddy would be calling all the shots.

He respected her need to hideaway for a moment. Perhaps he should have pretended to be more surprised. He sighed and leaned against the bathroom door. This was going to be a struggle. She'd already started having odd, otherworldly symptoms. He couldn't think of an instance where a hybrid child like theirs had been born. Something in the back of his mind wondered if it was illegal.

Like he cared.

He knocked gently, waiting to hear movement on the other side of the door.

"Baby? Talk t'me… tell me what yer feelin' in there. Can't help ya if I dunno what's wrong!"

He knew her well enough now to know what was likely running through her mind. He couldn't fix this though. The modern medicine he heard of terrified him. He couldn't allow her to undergo such a procedure.

"Lydia. Open the door."

She didn't obey immediately, the voices in her head screaming too loud for his gravelly baritone to get through the haze. When it did, she only half-listened, unlocking the knob and sliding to where she would be hidden behind the door whenever he got around to opening it.

She was being silly. It wasn't kind of her to hide from him and be silent, but it was hard to make the right and proper words form on her tongue. Thoughts and opinions that wouldn't get her into hotter water than she already was. She waited until he was inside and an uncomfortable amount of time had passed before speaking, wet cheeks buried in her knees.

"I'm too young to be a Mom," she sniffled, imagining how disappointed Adam and Barbara and her parents would be, the cruel things that her foster family and other children at school might have said if they ever found out.

"I don't know how." She just wasn't ready, and Betelgeuse would never understand that. Couldn't.

He opened the door carefully, worried that he might hit her if he opened it too quickly. He didn't want to hurt her on top of all of this. When he found her crouched in the corner, his eyes shut tight while he tried to calm the warring factions of his brain. On one hand, he was beyond thrilled. His plan had worked. He had locked his Lydia down for life. She would never leave a child of hers behind… and he would never let her take his child and disappear.

Sitting beside her, he kept a healthy distance between them just in case she still didn't want to be touched.

"Baby girl, no one knows how to be a mom. Or a dad! Hell, most people ain't even know how to be people. But they figure it out. So will we." He looked over at her and smiled softly. "Yer ma n' Chuck figured it out. Hell, Delia figured it out. Sorta… as much as she's got anythin' figured out… We can do it, babes. I'm sure of it."

He chuckled to himself and smirked. "Besides, yer gonna look hotter'n hell all round n' glowin' with life inside ya."

He could tell none of this was helping.

"We could uh… go see yer folks, I s'pose. Get some advice."

"Do you have kids?"

It seemed so stupid of her to have not asked until now. As much as he clearly enjoyed the opposite sex, it wasn't out of the question that he may have fathered a babe or two or three. He had living descendants, didn't he? Thinking about it made her head ache and tummy churn. No wonder he was so calm and cool. It didn't mean anything to him.

We could uh… go see yer folks, I suppose. Get some advice.

At once that churning in her stomach intensified even as her heart cried out at the prospect. She missed them all so badly, even Delia. They would hate to see her like this. But would they hate her? The not knowing for sure one way or another only exacerbated that building sense of dread in her belly. Or maybe that was just the "life" growing inside of her.

"I don't want to be pregnant."

Immediately, she felt like the worst woman in the world for daring to say such a thing to her wonderful, forgiving husband who loved her. It's not like this was his fault. He was so happy. She didn't need to look at him to know, his joy was a bright and tangible thing even through the nauseating despair she exuded.

"Barbara would know what to do."

"No kids, nah. My sister had some, I'm sure. After all, we got kids runnin' around nowadays with a little BJ blood."

He chuckled at the thought. His sister had never been an endearing woman. When she was married at fifteen, she took off running and didn't look back. His mind went to the tombstone in the old churchyard and his smile fell.

I don't want to be pregnant.

He had heard that before.

He looked at her and nodded, his face slowly becoming more and more solemn.

"There was a girl. When I was 'bout eighteen n' startin' my trade." He didn't want to talk about this. Why was he telling her? Pity? For her or himself? "She got knocked up. Convinced me it was mine until the lil' guy was born, then married his real dad n' took off with the money I gave her."

He patted her knee gently.

"The lil' boy didn't make it for long. He wasn't quite right from the get go but… I paid to give him a funeral. 'Cause she begged me to make sure her child didn't go to… to hell."

He knew now that no such place existed. He had no clue where little George Baker was now, and hadn't sought him out.

"What I'm sayin is... this is all you. It's your choice. If now ain't right for kids, it ain't right. Least now we know we can!"

He shook himself like a dog flinging off water, trying to expel the feelings. It was a horrible lie he was telling solely for her comfort. It was most certainly not her choice, but he could let her believe it was if it got him what he wanted.

"Babs is a great idea. Let's go now."

The knowledge alone that she could get an abortion if she wanted one… if… made everything feel that much simpler. There was an out. She wasn't trapped for the next nine months‒ eighteen years. His story, however, dug her into a deeper hole of guilt. How could she even think of doing such a thing?

How could she not?

"Hold me," she begged, still curled up in her compact little ball. When striped arms came to wrap around her completely, she decompressed, letting loose deep shuddering breaths against his neck. She became weightless as he lifted her up from the ground, and though she didn't watch to see it happen, she could feel the universe churning and displacing around them as his magic plucked them from their sphere of space and dropped them somewhere else on the globe entirely.

It was dark, but Lydia could make out the strangely built white house on the hill. Couldn't miss it, actually. Nor could she miss the disrepaired FOR SALE sign creaking in the lawn, in danger of blowing over with the next strong gust of wind.

Indeed, Lydia could spot a haunted house from a mile away and this one was as haunted as they came. Two separate couples, each having drowned in the same river due to different incompetencies, each deprived of the opportunity to raise children, and each hating the other for their shortcomings.

It was no wonder Jane Butterfield hadn't been able to pawn it off on anyone.

"They're here," she whispered over the howling wind, in case he was looking at this house through the eyes of a breather and seeing nothing more than an abandoned lot. "I know they are. I can feel them."

He would never pass up an opportunity to hold his wife. He'd decided that the first time she'd actually let him wrap his arms around her. Even now, standing at the base of the hill that led to her extremely haunted childhood home, he didn't let go of her.

He nodded at her explanation that she could feel the ghosts within. She had always been sensitive, it seemed. What worried him was not that she could feel them, but the waves of negative energy pouring out of the walls. This wasn't the same house he haunted, that was for sure.

He squeezed her a little tighter as they wandered up toward the house. It had fallen into shambles after the Deetzess passing, at least on the exterior. Green and brown moss was creeping between the slats of the wooden siding, and the paint had started to flake off in places.

Spooky, even for him.

He scowled and glanced down at his wife.

"Ready for this?"

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