Piquancy and Phantasm @bdz_fanfics
Faith in Fools

"I have great faith in fools - self-confidence my friends will call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

"So, here's what I got." Beetlejuice exuberantly announced after leaping onto Lydia's coffee table.

Leaning forward on the sofa, Lydia rested an elbow on her knee, feeling absolutely bored out of her mind from her ghost's crazy plots and plans.

"Beej! I'm tired. Can't this wait?" She drawled out while dropping her head into her hand.

"Sleep is for the dead Babes. Right now, we got a case to deface — a crime spleen to clean. An issue to eschew. A suspicion to-"

"Enough!" Standing up, Lydia's outburst silenced Beetlejuice's rant, and he nearly melted with disappointment at the lack of her amusement.

Slouching into himself with a huff, he floated after Lydia, who was now walking up the stairs.

Only once they were inside of her bedroom did he let his feet settle upon the floor.

"Talk to me, Lyds. What's eatin' at ya?" He didn't bother with the pun. Instead, giving her his best contrite smile, he jammed his hands into his pocket so that he wouldn't make the wrong move.

Sighing, Lydia rested her body against the carved wooden pillar of her canopy bed.

"All you've been doing is talking about going on one rampage after another. Mass slaughter this, assassination that." Turning to him, her now sunken eyes were tinged with a much deeper shade of purple and reflected her exhaustion. "I'm not ready to jump back into this! On top of it, after every scheme that you make up, you keep pushing me to answer your proposal and it's starting to drive me crazy."

"I still have a license-"

"To drive people crazy. Yes, I know. Look, the point that I'm trying to make is this: 'Let me handle this.' Trust in me. Let me take the next step, and for god's sake, no more sneaking around the police station. I still can't believe that you did that."

Beetlejuice harrumphed and crossed his arms.

"Don't know what you're complaining about. No one could see me, and it was only one measly piece of paper. Officer Dickhead will never even know that it's gone."

"Dichter."

"Gazuntite."

"No, you Bozo. That's Allen's last name. Look, it's one thing to mess with Bertha and Prudence since they are our close friends but leave Allen out of this. From what I heard, the poor guy has been through enough this year."

Turning away, defeated and lethargic, Lydia stripped out of her shirt and unfastened her bra. In one of her dresser drawers, she began to dig around for her pajamas.

"Oh yeah, I'm sure." Looking away, he grumbled and folded into himself more. "He certainly looked pretty torn up when he was locking lips with you on New Year's Eve."

Dropping her shirt, she whipped around to face him, triggering Beetlejuice to flinch when he saw the look in her eye. It had been so many years since he had seen it. The last time that he did, she had sprained her ankle and was using a crutch to chase after him.

"You spied on me?" She said flatly. "After all this time, why didn't you let me know that you were there? Do you have any idea how guilty I have felt?!"

As her voice rose, she advanced on him, but he was having trouble looking her in the eye. Her heavy breathing was making her chest rise and fall in such a distracting way.

"I-I—I didn't wanna bring it up, okay?!" He snapped back and tore his gaze away from her. It was confusing enough with his growing sentiments, to know how to handle a fight with her anymore. No, he didn't want to be angry, and he didn't understand how to treat someone that he loved after he had betrayed them. In fact, he barely understood how to feel guilty or let alone proper remorse.

"Why not?" She asked with a fire in her. "You could have asked me about it. We could have talked about it. If you felt this way about me, you could have, I don't know, interrupted us beforehand. How was I supposed to know that you even cared if I had found someone else? For ages, I've been throwing myself at you, and that whole time, you never showed me an ounce of interest! And yet, when I was with another man… you... you completely chicken out and poof away?"

"Watch it, Lyds." His words carried an edge as his eyes narrowed on her.

"No! Oh, Mr. Powerful Ghost with the Most, do you think that just because you have so much power that I am going to be afraid of you? Do you think that now that I know you have no problem with taking a life that I'm going to fear for my own? You need me, Beetlejuice! You're not going to kill me. I know that because you are sick and tired of being trapped in a world with friends who can't even remember who they really are!"

Stepping closer to her, Beetlejuice's nerves were fraying as his mortal tore away at him with every angry word.

"You can't scare me! You never could, but I sure as hell know that I can scare you." Lydia advanced on him in equal measure.

"You think you have it all figured out, dontcha, Little Lydsy." He growled as he appeared to enlarge himself, raising his arms, and seized her by the bare shoulders.

"No, you seem to think you have it all. You get a naïve girl to make a contract, raise her to trust in you unconditionally, then when she's old enough, make her fall in love with you, and finally, that's when you swoop in and try to change the deal that was already in place."

As Beetlejuice's hands squeezed her arms, his nails dug into her flesh, but she refused to flinch. Instead, she took a deep breath and allowed the pain to fuel her anger for the damned spirit.

"You listen to me, Lydia Deetz. The deal stands. You get a free pass to the Neitherworld, and I get to increase my haunt zone in yours. You get a chunk of my power to do what you want, but you owe me blood in return. Time has come, babe! Three bodies in and you have a lot more to go."

"I enjoyed it." Through her gritted teeth, she spoke with a venomous tone and glared at him.

"Gotta be more specific there." Scrunching his nose, he slightly jerked his head to the side and eyed her down.

"I enjoyed kissing him." She snapped and watched as the fire within him immediately began to dim. Lessening his grip, Beetlejuice's posture drooped until he returned to a more familiar size.

"I enjoyed it," she repeated. "Until I realized that it wasn't what I wanted."

By this point, he had already let her go, and his hands dropped to his sides.

"Beej." Taking a deep breath, she stood in front of him, but his eyes were cast downward. "It was only a New Year's kiss. Sure, it was nice, but it wasn't you."

Caution and distrust played across his face as he looked up.

"Well?" Lydia waited, but he didn't respond; not even when she crossed her arms and emphasized her bare breasts. "You used to bounce back from our fights a lot faster than this…"

Before she could say another word, Beetlejuice snatched her arms again and pulled her close.

"Let's get this straight. It's you and me, Lyds, against the world."

"Did you honestly think I was going to leave you?" Lydia giggled at the dramatic shift in his energy.

"You might have to if this next plan is gonna work." Beetlejuice chuckled, but Lydia could only roll her eyes.

—-

Bertha was not feeling too confident when she, Prudence and Allen drove through the dark covered bridge. Passing into the blinding snow-covered scenery, their blinking eyes adjusted, rewarding them with a perfect view of the large house upon the hill. It reminded her of an opening scene out of some horror movie that she once saw many years ago. Driving up the snowy path, gravel angrily crunched under the Cruiser's heavy wheels until they parked next to the place where the old family's car used to be.

Give or take a few of Delia's more recent interior renovations; the Deetz home looked exactly the same as it had been when they were kids. Although, there had been one change that neither Bertha nor Prudence could directly sense.

Since Charles's passing, the confusion surrounding the house was now gone, and a new aura took its place. Just subtle enough to slip through the cracks of consciousness, was a menacing threat that left the slightest trace of a tingle down one's back.

As the group exited the car, a sharp screech shattered the serene surroundings. In unison, Allen and Bertha jumped into action, unholstering their guns as they ran towards the front door and then positioned themselves on either side of it. Looking to each other, they shared an unspoken conversation and nodded as Bertha's hand hovered over the door handle before they counted to three. On three, they threw it open, rushed inside and were prepared for the worst.

With guns aimed directly into the living room, Bertha and Allen were met with an unexpected sight. Staring at them in shock was Lydia, dressed in a white lace blouse that was covered in some sort of purple liquid. At her feet, was an empty glass and a very contrite-looking Beetlejuice who was seemingly trying to pacify his angry friend.

Jumping to his feet, Beetlejuice dove in front of Lydia to create a barrier from their deadly aim. Instead of the noble gesture like he had intended, he tripped over the glass that was on the floor, rolled a couple of times before he came to a stop in front of the officers' feet. From behind them, Prudence appeared in the doorway, and her eyes grew wide at the scene that was before her.

"Mr. Beetleman?" Prudence questioned, trying to understand the crazy display, but she was only met with a cheesy but guilty grin.

"Hehe." He slowly pushed himself up on his heels. "This is not what it looks like."

Lowering his gun and holstering it, Allen rolled his eyes while Bertha took a step forward to offer her hand to Beetlejuice.

"We heard Lydia scream," Bertha explained, but her concerned expression never left her. However, she had calmed considerably now that she knew there was no hint of danger.

Lydia, on the other hand, began to fume and stomped off towards the stairs. Taking it upon herself, Prudence followed. Bertha had a moment of hesitation, snickered and without any explanation, tailed her two friends.

This left Allen standing alone in the doorway… with Beetlejuice.

Dusting himself off and making sure to pick up that damned glass that he had tripped over, Beetlejuice chuckled and held out his empty hand to the cop.

"Hi, how ya doin'?"

Sitting on Lydia's bed, Bertha and Prudence took in the changes that had reflected the tastes of the woman that they always knew to be one creepy but cool kid. Not surprising, Lydia's blankets were no longer the light purple and pink. The girls remembered how much Lydia had lamented the day that her favorite spiderweb duvet had been destroyed in the laundry. It was worse than when she discovered the same accident had befallen her dark curtains.

When that excuse was shared, not one of them had actually believed Lydia's mother. Instead, they had shrugged and made comments about how much Delia had cared enough to replace them.

As they watched their friend strip off her white blouse with a furious motion, they wanted nothing more than to help.

"Lydia, is … is everything okay?" Bertha asked, picking up the shirt when it was thrown to the ground.

"Peachy," Lydia replied as she dug through her drawers, pulling out a long-sleeved sweater, and then crossed the room to head to the bathroom.

Taking the shirt from Bertha, Prudence examined the damage.

"This is going to be a difficult stain to remove."

After that simple comment, no words were exchanged between the two, as silence passed between them. Memories of the past came easily in this setting, as they reminisced on all of the adventures that they had with the coolest girl in school — the same girl who never got the positive encouragement that she deserved. The teachers didn't understand her, which bothered Prudence, but aside from herself, she had always thought that Lydia was the smartest person in their class. It was no secret that Claire hated them, and it was no secret that she had her graduation title rigged to be on top. After all, her parents had donated a lot of money to the school.

Bertha, on the other hand, dwelled more upon their experiences as they were growing women. She pondered on the way that Lydia almost seemed immune to the guys in the magazines and with how little interest she held in dating. Calling it strange would have been an understatement, but they were used to her quirks. Like, for example, how it was odd that she was somehow able to keep someone as unruly as Mr. Beetleman and his niece Betty in control. She recalled how Mr. Deetz talked about the crazy older man who spent time with Lydia's grandma, and it was almost as if Lydia knew the entire Beetleman family.

She then tried to deduce what the tie between the Deetz's and the Beetlemans could be. Unfortunately, she had no clue. Why Mr. Beetleman was at Evelyn Deetz's funeral was a mystery. No one knew of him until he started making an appearance as the Deetz's handyman. In regards to his suspected origin of the weird man, Detective Bath had given them nothing to work with.

Then, there was that crazy day when Mrs. Deetz freaked out on Mr. Beetleman and indefinitely forbade him from visiting the house. For many days afterward, Lydia was depressed, and nothing could cheer her up. Unfortunately, it only got worse when her father had his first heart attack.

As far as Bertha could recall, the last time she saw Lydia in the diner, was the first time that she had seen her looking that happy in ages. Lydia's whole vibe that day… was weird.

"Do you think that something is going on between Lydia and Mr. Beetleman?" Bertha asked, cutting through the silence.

To Prudence, the thought was preposterous, but once those words left Bertha's mouth, she forced the components and possibilities to align into such a ridiculous outcome. No, such a notion was just out of the question but…

"I am not ready to say with a hundred percent certainty that anything is different between them, but the probability seems high that something did indeed transpire just before we arrived. There is also the fact that Mr. Beetleman is spending an awful lot of time around here lately."

"That's what I'm afraid of." Sitting on the edge of Lydia's bed, Bertha grumbled.

"Don't worry about it too much. I'm c-certain it's all just a misunderstanding. Even if he's really weird and gross, he's always been a lot of fun." Prudence sat next to her, cradling her head in her hands. "Bertha… I don't like tricking them."

"We are not tricking anyone. We just need to get her to talk to us. You remember what Detective Bath said: If we don't like seeing them on the suspect list, then we need to prove that they are innocent. That's all we are doing and nothing more." Bertha's hushed voice was shaky as she spoke with urgency, driving the point home.

"If you say so." Prudence sighed out before she suddenly jumped off of the bed and began shuddering.

"What? Is something wrong?" Bertha asked as she cocked her head at her short friend.

Wincing, Prudence chose to sit on the chair by Lydia's desk.

"If they are in some sort of …. Ugh… relationship, then I don't think I wanna be sitting on her bed." Sticking out her tongue, she just couldn't stomach the thought.

Like lightning, Bertha practically flew off the mattress, flailing her arms before she stood in the middle of the room, shivering head to toe.

To keep from laughing, Prudence slapped a hand over her mouth, but that didn't stop a giggle from someone else to fill the room.

"I'm pretty sure that I didn't leave out any bugs to crawl around. Are you alright?" Lydia asked, trying to figure out what was going on.

Prudence internally examined her, her hair didn't look wet, but it was obvious that Lydia must have jumped into the shower because her skin looked more pink than usual.

"Yeeeaaaah," Bertha drawled out. "Got the creeps thinking about something…. It's nothing important."

"You should be used to creepy things by now." Lydia laughed. Her spirits seem to have perked up a little after that quick rinse, causing the other two to share a look.

"It's been a while." Prudence chanced a laugh. "We wanted to ask if you would have lunch with us. I tried calling you, but we didn't get an answer. I think your answering machine is down."

Startled by this revelation, Lydia turned to her friends.

"I didn't hear the phone ring at all, but then again, we only just got back."

"From where, Narnia?" Bertha laughed, her grin growing into a knowing smirk. "Pretty sure you were just too busy hanging out."

"No. I mean… "Lydia blushed.

"Please, you don't need to explain." Prudence winced and extinguished any invading thoughts.

Throwing a menacing glare to Prudence, she emphasized the importance of sleuthing out details and not embarrassing blushes.

"Forget I said anything. Hey, Allen is downstairs and waiting for us if you wanna come, but I don't know how he'd feel about…"

"Don't worry. After that soda incident, I think Beej deserves to sit in his doghouse for a while." Lydia grumbled while raising her voice just slightly near the end.

If Prudence wasn't mistaken, she could have sworn that she heard a muffled cursing come from just outside of the bedroom, but when they opened the door to leave, no one was there.

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