Piquancy and Phantasm @bdz_fanfics
Dark Unfathom'd Tide

"A dark unfathom'd tide

Of interminable pride —

A mystery, and a dream,

Should my early life seem." by Edgar Allan Poe

Ch 17: dark unfathom'd tide

Maybe it was guilt..., perhaps apprehension..., or even fear... Whatever the reason, Prudence's stomach was not cooperating. Regardless, she pressed forward.

Regardless of all that, Prudence pressed forward.

Her samples;

Specimen 1: The saliva from Lydia's straw that she used in the restaurant and the hair that she had collected from Lydia's brush.

Specimen 2: Claire Brewster's tissue, hair, and bodily fluids that were collected postmortem.

Multiple times, she had double and even triple checked her tests using each of the samples for cross-comparison, and her concern only grew as she studied it further.

Finally, after hours of work and denial, she admitted that the results were indeed correct.

All alone in the darkened and sterile room, with nothing for light but the dimly illuminated bulbs on the surrounding equipment, Prudence cried.

—-

Impossible! There was no way that this could happen. It was just NOT at all possible.

"Klote, klote, klote…" The moment he realized something was very wrong, Allen continually chanted this mantra under his breath.

Repeatedly, he opened, tore apart, reorganized, closed, and locked up his file cabinet. From top to bottom, he had searched his car, the entire office, and the briefing rooms where they held their meetings with Bath. Still, the one piece of paper that presented his suspicions, naming Mr. B.J. Beetleman as the principal suspect, was missing.

"You have no idea how stoked I am." Bertha gushed, deaf to Allen's muttered curses, as she packed up her portion of the desk that she and Allen shared. "You just don't get these sorts of spaces. I mean, really, did you ever imagine getting one of the biggies?"

Taking a deep breath, Allen attempted to center himself and block out the world around him.

Bertha, being so lost to her giddiness of getting her own desk, didn't even register the concern that began to transform his normally stoic expression into one of panic.

"Mordelle was the last one to get her own desk, and man did I get jealous! Did I ever tell you that I was partnered with her for a while? Unfortunately, things didn't work out." Bertha continued to ramble.

Ducking down, Allen inspected beneath the desk just in case the paper had slipped under during the move, but there was nothing. Standing up, he slapped his hands onto the desktop and shook his head.

"Ya know, it wasn't for lack of trying either. In the end, it was just that we weren't compatible for whatever reason, but this, what we have, is perfect. It's so crazy that it took so long for them to assign me to the best partner ever. You and me, Allen, all the way." Bertha continued to rattle on.

Deep inside, Allen understood that Bertha was once again in one of her harmless babbling moods. On any other day, he would have been able to tune her out with a smile and carry on, while letting her have her fun. After all, it typically didn't last long before she would be back into her hyper observation mode.

At the moment, tuning her out was nearing an unbearable level, as his slitted gray-blue eyes darted over to her. He had never misplaced his paperwork before, and it only stood to reason that it had to have been taken. Yet, that too was impossible, as he had always locked away his files in his desk drawers when he didn't need them, and no one, not even Bertha, had a key. He never allowed his paperwork out of his sight unless he knew that he had safely locked it away. He knew for a fact that it was in this folder and he had double-checked it before he had last filed it away in that drawer. Something wasn't right. Impossible things don't just happen.

Lifting the case-file again, he fingered through each individual page, but still, it was not where it was supposed to have been. Everything else was there except for that one piece of paperwork. This shouldn't be. No. This should not be.

The air in the room began to feel thinner, as a rumbling began to spread under his skin with an uncomfortableness that began to eat away at him, while his ragged breath barely held this superficial form together. As she began to speak again, a deep thundering noise filled his ears, while his dangerous-looking eyes shot to her through a divided part in his ash-blonde hair that hung down in front of his face.

"Say, when we get our new desks, I think it would be great if-"

"Kut!" Allen erupted. "Bertha STOP your godverdomme, inane prattling and BE quiet!" With a snap, he threw the file into the drawer and slammed it shut with such a strength that the filing cabinet nearly toppled over.

Dropping into his chair, he seized the armrests and clutched the ends of it tight, while staring off into the nothingness. With a frustrated growl, he grasped the sides of his head and bent over to lean his elbows upon his knees.

Stunned, Bertha turned and carefully analyzed his posture and the dark expression on his face. Setting down her box upon the table, she knelt beside him and quietly observed as he held onto his head with a tight grip.

As he took sharp and shallow breaths, he muttered to himself, but nothing he said made any sense to her. It was almost as if he were having some conversation with something unknown.

Craning her head over the desk, she scanned the room and spotted the only other two officers in the office. With hushed voices between them, both were intently watching Allen and her with a curious fascination. The moment Bertha locked eyes with them, they became uneasy with her direct gaze and rapidly left the room, excusing themselves.

Quickly returning her attention to her partner, she lifted her hand to touch his shoulder. She wanted to help him. She wanted to help ease this unknown burden that was weighing him down. Before her hand could touch his shoulder, his hand shot up like lightning, grabbing hers even though his eyes were still closed tight. Gritting his teeth, he threw her hand back to her.

"Don't!" He snapped between labored breaths. "Do NOT touch me."

Although he didn't hurt her, she cradled her hand as she fumbled to find the right words to help him.

"O-okay. It's just…" she stopped speaking when a new batch of officers entered into the space, indicating the start of the next shift.

"Car! Now!" She ordered in a hushed voice.

Flashing her a dangerous glare, the intensity of his faded blue-jean colored eyes nearly made her fall back into submission. Vaulting up from his chair, he brusquely pushed past Bertha, and without looking back, he marched out of sight.

Filled with relief, Bertha set about picking up her remaining nick-nacks and then lifted up her cardboard box of belongings. Moving across the now noisy and bustling room, she set her things upon her much more substantial and newly assigned desk. It filled her with pride, looking at that sizeable wooden thing. She had come so far from when she had first started in this department. So many partners, so many disappointments, and all of the drama in-between. That was the norm for her until she was finally paired with Allen.

In the beginning, she had expected to have the same problems and receive the same treatment from him, but they never came. Instead, he listened to her, he respected her, he asked her opinion, held it with regard, and was incredibly supportive, and one could even say sympathetic during one of the most terrible times in her life. Yet, today was the first time there had ever been any sort of disruption between them.

Looking behind her, she stared at the old desk that they had shared. It was a bittersweet feeling that she had right now. There was a part of her that wanted to help Allen move his stuff, but she also knew better.

She realized that with his noticeable OCD tendencies, it had to have been torture sharing a desk with someone as unorganized as her. Still, she had always tried her best to do what she could to help, because more than anything, Bertha had wanted Allen to like and trust her as a friend as she did with him.

After spending all of this time with him, she had grown to recognize enough of his behaviors to comprehend that it may never be the kind of friendship that she had with the others. If anything, in that way, Allen was incredibly similar to Lydia, she had always been the most aloof among her friends.

That reminded her, perhaps she should give Lydia a ring right now. Hopefully, Lydia could help her better understand what more she could do.

—-

"No! Absolutely not!" Rushing over to block the front door, Beej held out his arms as a barrier, but Lydia just laughed.

"Come on, Beej. I'm just going to go see Bertha."

"You are not going anywhere near that police station while the heat is still on. Not only that, you don't have full control over your juice yet! Nuh-uh, I ain't risking it! You will be staying right here! I'm putting my foot down."

With his emphasis on the word foot, a large one had manifested in her path to prevent her from moving forward. Snapping her fingers, it vanished as she stepped over to him, and gently tugged on his tie until his nose touched hers.

"Nice try, but I'm going. Now, you can either sit here all alone or come with me." The tone of her voice dropped into a low, seductive rhythm, leaving him feeling dizzy and tingly all over.

As he struggled to speak, Lydia once again swiftly tugged on his tie while seamlessly moving, biting his lower lip before indulging into a slow but promising kiss.

Beetlejuice practically melted on the spot before Lydia let him go, only then did he splash to the floor and formed into a puddle.

"Beetlejuice." She laughed while walking past him as his eyes still followed her in his oozing manifestation.

"I promise that I won't do anything crazy. Besides, I'm only planning to meet up with her for a little bit before I go do some much-needed grocery shopping. Again, if you are so worried, you are certainly welcome to tag along."

Returning to his solid form, Beetlejuice crossed his arms and harrumphed.

"Fine go... but you better not blow it! 'Sides, I got some of my own snooping to do anyway."

"Beej." Just after she said his name, he vanished in a poof of smoke and random objects.

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head with a half-smile and a sigh. Opening the front door, she stepped out onto the porch just as the cab that she had called for, began to pull up the driveway.

—-

In all of the centuries of his continual, ghostly existence, he had never needed to be selfless. Just the thought of putting someone else's needs before his own had felt bizarre and unnatural. Yet now, he found that he was at odds with himself. This wasn't him, but it was. Although it was only internally, Beetlejuice begrudgingly admitted that he had found himself wanting to fulfill those desires of that unusual girl.

Not moments before he chose to leave, Lyds had him nearly begging for her to stay. There was no way in hell that he felt comfortable with letting her go into that lion's den without him.

On the other hand, with her going, it did allow him the perfect opportunity to do a bit more recon. After all, who could guess what else Burp, Prune, and that Dick-Turd had up their sleeves? For all that he knew, that little ragtag group might have switched focus already and possibly were preparing to pin it on Lydia. If there was going to be a trap, he wanted to be prepared and armed with as much information as possible.

He was just itching to throw some false leads into the mix, but as he pilfered through the desk that displayed Officer Dichter's name plaque, he was forced to restrain himself.

Bertha, he noticed, no longer shared the space, and it appeared that both officers were given their own individual desk. Huh, wonder what prompted that? Maybe ol' Burp got to be too much for the wimp. Well, in his opinion, that certainly made it easier for him to snoop since both of them were now situated in their own separate corners. In fact, they were located in the perfect angle for concealing his invisible tomfoolery from prying eyes.

Examining the new locks that were put on the desk drawers, Beetlejuice tsked at the futility of keeping him from its contents. With a flick of his juice, he unlocked them and began to nose around. As far as the paperwork went, everything looked the same as before with perfect organization, and it made it a breeze for him to navigate through.

Not even Lydia knew of anything pertaining to the time that he had served in the Processing Department. It didn't matter how virtuous or sinful one may have lived during their mortal lifetimes, that was just the consequence of suicide. For accidental or natural causes of death, you were permitted one hundred and twenty-five years in the above world's haunting parameters, but for those who had taken their own life… indentured servitude was their fate.

From there, things got dicey and were filled with a multitude of loopholes and clauses. That's not even mentioning the other things in one's afterlife in regards to mortal faith and the culmination of life choices for the deaths not related to suicide.

It's a fucking Labyrinth to navigate when and where one's spirit would manifest at the end of it all. For good folks like old Chuckster, the other side would be easy as a breeze, with no subjected hauntings and certainly no purgatory. After all, Beej checked up on the old man for Lydia's sake, and Charles Deetz was singin' with the angels.

While on the other hand, neither of her mothers would be so lucky. He chuckled darkly at the thought. No, selfish people like those two, had their own afterlife and he could only hope that they were happy tormenting each other for the rest of eternity.

Slouching back into Allen's chair, Beetlejuice was quite disappointed with the lack of interesting information that he could find. With nothing better to do, he observed the cops bumbling about the office while performing their day to day rigamarole. It was times like these that being invisible had their benefits.

Beetlejuice snapped up to attention as he spied what he could only assume to be a hooker being led into the room by two rookies. Huh, who knew that Peaceful Pines was big enough for that market. Then again, there were some twisted folks out there, and he should know! He snickered. Such audacity for a girl to wear that short of a skirt under that heavy jacket that she was taking off. All that he needed was a gentle outdoor breeze and…

Quite abruptly, the door to the emergency exit burst open, setting off the alarm while a massive gust of wind tore into the room like a tornado. Within the chaos, the girl shivered as her skirt lifted and gave Beetlejuice a lovely view of her bare-naked ass.

"Ooooh yeah." He chuckled, leaning back as he crossed his arms behind his head while kicking up his boots upon the desk.

Between the bedlam of officers running around, papers flying every which way, and the red-faced rookies scrambling to cover up the whore; it was a good show.

That was until a tiny figure snuck into the room with a folder clutched to her chest.

Beej quickly adjusted himself, while ensuring that he was still invisible as he watched Prudence dodge the cacophony of cops and perps.

As she tentatively approached the desks, her gaze bounced between the two as if she was confused about what to do. In the end, she decided to approach Bertha's desk. Hesitating for just a moment, she snagged a pen, one of Bertha's post-it notes, and chewed on her lip for a while before scribbling out the message that she affixed to the folder.

And just like that, she scurried away through the dying pandemonium without being noticed by a single living soul.

Intrigued, Beej flew over to Bertha's desk and moved the makeshift paper-weight that was holding down the newly placed folder. The bright, neon pink post-it was not hard to miss, and Prudence's handwriting was positively perfect.

'Don't say anything out loud. Keep calm. -Pru'

"Well, if that ain't ominous." He muttered with a snort before opening it.

As his eyes met the first page, he scanned over its columns of numbers and words that he couldn't make sense of, and it began to bore him to tears. However, as he read on to the next page and the pages after that, his eyes grew wider and wider until he couldn't look at it anymore.

Slamming the folder closed, he took off without even bothering to return the paper holder to its proper place.

—-

When she met up with Bertha, Lydia was in good spirits as she let her friend unload fresh gossip and her worries about anything and everyone.

Particularly, the conversation kept being steered in the direction to talk about her partner.

It was apparent that not being able to confide in anyone about Allen weighed heavily on Bertha.

As Lydia watched with a gentle smile, Bertha paced back and forth on the pavement. Coming to a stop, Bertha looked around before joining Lydia to lean on the cruiser.

"Look, I really, truly like being partnered with Allen, and I don't want to risk him getting a suspension or a psych evaluation. He's such a great guy, and he doesn't deserve anything like that." Bertha said, as her brow lifted while she stared out to the parking lot with worried eyes.

"What do you mean? Why do you think they might suggest something like that? Did something happen?" Lydia gently grabbed bertha's gloved hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

"It was so strange. Out of the blue, he just blew up at me and then… He sat in his chair and began mumbling. When I got closer, I could hear him, and it sounded like he was arguing with himself. He kept saying things like, 'Shut up, you don't know what you're talking about.' and 'I would have felt the presence.'" Bertha brought her other hand up to her nose and rubbed it.

"Felt the presence?" Lydia narrowed her gaze and leaned closer.

"Beats me!" Bertha threw up her free hand and huffed out her exhaustion. "As it is, he's almost always looking off into space. Sometimes when we are on a case, I can hear him talking to someone when he's in another room, but when I come in, he tells me he was just thinking out loud. He never does that sort of thing when I'm near him though. Don't people who think out loud do that around other people? It doesn't make sense. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he saw a ghost or something strange like that."

Lydia adjusted her footing and laughed.

"Ghosts, huh? Well, that would be… something," Shaking her head, she looked to Bertha and patted her. "I dunno, it sounds to me like maybe he has some internal demons. I don't think he was talking to a ghost."

"What, you mean like some sorta split personality disorder?" Now it was Bertha's turn to laugh even though Lydia didn't join in.

Bringing her hand up to her chin, Lydia's face turned into one of contemplation as she began to tap her lip.

"He seems perfectly normal to me, but you know as well as I do that 'normal' people can be the most deceiving." Lydia slyly grinned as a wash of bravery fed the impervious feeling that cloaked her. "Hey, if you were to pick out any person capable of murder who would you pin?"

"Well, gee, Lydia. That's a hard one. I mean the only person mean enough would be Claire but… "

"Besides Claire." Lydia prompted.

"I guess… Jane Butterfield?" As Bertha uttered the name, her eyes suddenly grew wide.

"Oh, my gawd. Lydia! I could totally see her offing people for their houses. I mean she thrives off of people passing away so she could…" Jumping away from the car, Bertha excitedly paced before facing Lydia while jumping up and down a couple of times. Tilting her head like a puppy, Lydia gave her friend a quizzical smile.

"Lydia, I think you might have given me an idea." Bertha slapped Lydia's shoulder repeatedly.

"Oh? How so?" She asked innocently, but within, Lydia felt smug at this little turn of events. Beej was right about how fun throwing false clues could be.

"I can't say. It's work-related, but I think I have a new lead on something. I- I think I should head back to the station. Just so I could …" Bertha hopped again and turned to go to her car.

"Go on. I'll be fine. Besides, I told Beej that I needed to do some grocery shopping before we could hang out today." Lydia waved her friend on with a small giggle.

Flinching, Bertha stopped and faced her while forcing a smile,

"Right. Um… About that… is he… is he living with you now?"

Lydia laughed and pawed at the air before straightening up.

"Practically, but no, he isn't. He still has his own place, but it's nice to finally be able to be free to spend time with him… without anyone snooping in our business."

"Oh." Bertha blushed and muttered sheepishly.

"Bertha, I didn't mean you, but if you really are curious about it, we have become closer. He's really been cheering me up lately."

Accepting this explanation, Bertha felt a wave of relief wash over her as she said her goodbyes and returned to the police station.

Pulling her jacket tighter, Lydia walked along the streets in the direction of the grocery store. It was times like these that she missed having the family car now that it was gone. Sure, she had Doomie, but she refused to make him suffer in this cold weather too.

Thankfully, the cab drivers in this town were friendly enough and were readily available at the drop of a call.

—-

From the time that he had left the police station until now, Allen must have run at least nine or more miles. It was the only thing he could safely do at the moment to release that which had threatened to self-destruct. Exhausted, he was in a desperate need to go home and let the prescribed painkillers take care of his raging migraine. Hopefully tonight the pills would work.

Unfortunately, he had at least one last errand to do before he could.

Not even bothering to enter the station, he hopped into his car. Gripping the cold steering wheel, he focused on the task at hand and tried to ignore the constant agony within his skull. Closing his eyes, he reassured himself that the faster he could get this done, the better because after all, he still had a half-hour drive to get back home.

Starting his small SUV, he pulled out of the parking lot to make his way over to The Peaceful Pines Market to pick up some much-needed groceries for the week.

It was a routine. He knew that he needed to keep at it; otherwise the rest of his week would be thrown off completely, and that was the last thing he needed. Although, the way that this day was going, it was not boding well for the rest of the week.

Stopping at a light, he felt so drained, but he knew that was normal after what had happened. What has been going on? These last couple of months, the fine line between his self-control and the other part of him that he had tried so desperately to keep hidden from the world, had never felt so thin. Well, that was at least since he was a child before his mother's timely death.

A long honk startled him and notified him of the green light that he had apparently been oblivious to. Pulling forward, he continued to his goal as more thoughts of things he'd rather forget invaded his head.

Yes, the best thing to ever happen to him was when his father, a no-good excuse of a sperm donor, got locked away for the murder of his mother.

Oh no, Hannus deserved to be put away for a lot more than just that singular act, but the law could only do so much. Similarly, there wasn't much good that could be said for his mother, Brenda. Neither of them were what a person would call, good parents.

Taking a deep breath, he tried to release those thoughts, but they wouldn't let go. There was a small part of him that wished that he could have had parents like Bertha's, or even like her friends Prudence and Lydia. At least in those parental relationships, there was love, which was something that he couldn't attribute to his own.

There was only one good thing that had come from those traumatizing events, and that was his Oma and Opa. Since they adopted him, he tried to do his best to do right by the world. His first significant step was joining the academy, and his second was becoming an officer of the law. Yet, it wasn't long before he, once again, found himself all alone in this universe. First Opa, and then last spring, Oma, almost a year later after his poor grandfather it wasn't fair.

Pulling into a parking spot, Allen shut off the engine, and pinched the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed. The sunlight was not his friend today, and these heavy thoughts were not what he wanted. Rubbing small circles on his forehead, he did some deep breathing. Mind over matter Allen, mind over matter. He needed to have control. He had to have control. He could do this. Aanval is de beste verdediging.

Stepping out of the car, the cold air felt fantastic on his feverish head, but his brain wouldn't stop its dismal tangent. He needed to keep positive. He needed to keep going and do his best like Oma and Opa would have wanted him to do.

Perhaps it was for that reason he felt like he could be the one to help Bertha. She had joined the force around the same time that he did. Even from afar, he saw how she had struggled to find her place in the precinct, and over time, he had overheard all of the unpleasantness when the others would gossip near him. At a distance, he had silently witnessed her many rejections, failures, and self-destructing behavior with her constant chatter and flirtatious nature. So, when her last partner requested to be moved, no one stepped up to take their place. The others avoided her like the plague, and many wouldn't look her in the eyes for fear of her clinging to them. He knew the others were put off by Bertha being Bertha, and yet he felt nothing negative in that regard.

Even though he had never directly interacted with her before, he knew that something had to be done. It was then that Allen decided to talk to the chief and had requested to be assigned with her. Although the chief questioned him, Allen was surprised to see the relief upon the chief's face. In all of his years on the force, Allen had never had a partner and thought that he had preferred it that way. The very next day after talking to the Chief, was the start of their new partnership, and that was that. Allen didn't regret his decision, nor did he ever tell Bertha that he had requested their partnership, but he never saw the point of bringing it up.

Apart from Bertha being a projector of positive and hyperactive energy, he believed that she was a good influence on him. When she was in a cheerful mood, he was able to receive those vibes, and they would help calm him. He also found that it was nice not being alone all of the time.

Then, of course, there was another benefit to his partnership with Bertha that he had never thought of; she had friends. He had never expected for her to introduce them to him. After all, he and Bertha were just work partners, nothing more. Yet, she had repeatedly asked him to join them whenever they went out.

On one particularly hard day, Bertha had once again asked him to tag along, but that day he didn't have the will to fight. Instead, he had caved to her request and had agreed. He knew the names and some of the stories of her friends, and because of work, he had interacted with Prudence. The only one that he didn't know was the other that Bertha had continually described as if she was the most intriguing person in the world.

That night, he joined them for some drinks and had expected to sit on the sidelines just wanting to go home. Instead, he met the person that Bertha had so often talked about.

The one person that had stopped him in his tracks when he was introduced to her.

The one which he would never have expected to make him… feel.

The one who he often found himself thinking about.

The one who he currently couldn't stop staring at from the moment that he had entered the market.

In an aisle ahead of him, Lydia Deetz wandered closer with a basket in her arms. Pausing to analyze some bread, she looked as if she was debating which one was the best. It was then that she stopped moving, lifted her head, and looked directly at him.

When they made eye contact, he felt light, almost euphoric while his migraine was yanked out of the driver's seat and shoved into the trunk. Then, when she smiled at him, his heartbeat began to pick up, and his body moved forward on its own.

This… was not something that he was used to feeling.

—-

Desperately searching the neighborhood, Beetlejuice had to find Lydia, but his senses were off. So far off, that he couldn't even use their interlinking juice to pinpoint her location.

Frantically flying at top speeds, he searched every store that he could, before it finally clicked that she had said something about gross-eries.

Changing his direction, he booked it to the market just in time to see Lydia talking with that dipstick of a cop. In one hand, she had a bag of items, while the other was on that man's chest. Lifting herself up with her toes, she placed a kiss upon his cheek, and Allen flushed a deep red. Beetlejuice, on the other hand, turned just as red for a different reason.

Quickly materializing, he rushed over, violently grabbing Lydia by the arm.

"You are coming with me." He snarled before glaring at the cop. "Hands off, pretty boy."

"Beej!" Lydia shrieked, though she did nothing to fight against him as he pulled her away from the building.

Not stopping, he dragged her down the road until he ducked into an alleyway where there was enough privacy to teleport.

Appearing in the ice-covered garden behind the Peaceful Pines Library, Lydia pulled her arm away from him.

"What the hell was all that about?" She screamed at him and nearly lost her balance on the slippery terrain. Trying to keep from falling, her bag slid off of her wrist and fell to the frozen ground with a sickening crack, breaking all of her eggs upon impact.

Ignoring her rage, Beetlejuice grabbed her shoulders and screamed.

"Claire Brewster was your sister!"

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