"Blood was its Avatar and its seal." -Edgar Allan Poe
"Is that some kind of sick joke?" Lydia's deadpan gaze did nothing to calm the disturbed ghost in front of her.
Holding her firmly, his fingers dug into her shoulders as his wide-eyed stare bore into hers.
"I'm as serious as the grave here, Babes! Prune did the test, then somehow they pulled your spit 'n hair and compared it to that bloody, fucked-up ditz's corpse. You two are sisters."
"No. That's not possible, Beej. Daddy would have never cheated. He wasn't that kind of guy, and even if he would have, I highly doubt that Brewster snob would… that's just… ugh!"
Managing to wiggle his fingers off of her, Lydia turned away from him to pick up her fallen bag. Across her face played dismay and frustration, as she picked up the soggy bag.
"Your mom, Lyds. It was your fucking whore of a mother who cheated on old Chuck-Bucket!"
The air around Lydia dropped, as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up, and she could have sworn that her stomach did a flip.
"She… No." As the horror of his implication froze her blood, Lydia blankly turned to face him.
"It's true. Look." Beej produced a series of photos that he had stolen from the secret file that was placed on Bertha's desk. Each one further driving the truth to the surface. Lydia's eyes didn't want to see what was in front of her: A photo of two babies, Lydia and Claire, another was a photo of Claire's mother having a nice, cordial chat with Charles Deetz, one of Marvin Brewster at her mother's funeral, and finally a photo of Lydia's mother riding Claire's father like there's no tomorrow.
It became too much for her mind to process as a sheet of white blinded behind her eyes, and her legs gave out from underneath. Wilting fast, Lydia sank as the incriminating photos vanished and Beetlejuice caught her in his arms.
"Then… then… my father…" Lydia began to choke on her words while the comprehension of all the facts hit her. Cracking, like the eggs that had hit the frozen ground, Lydia crumpled into Beetlejuice's embrace and began to cry.
'Pride and Prejudice' was not only the name of the book that was held tightly within Miss Shannon's arms, but the appellation was also deeply inscribed into her very soul.
For the Shannon's, ever since they had first arrived into this little peripheral town, they had remained the shining zenith of upstanding citizens. In her eyes, she was a woman of purity, a woman of virtues, and a woman who knew propriety. As such, in her school, she had enforced and instilled those notions into the young ladies of the community for nearly two decades. Before her, it was her mother who superintended the girls-only institution with a draconian commandment.
She was infallible in her decorum, and only once did she accredit her inappropriate nature to slip into the view of her students. Yet, for that one instance, it was not from her own miscue. No, it was solely by virtue of her being victimized by that fraudulent charlatan. For that humiliation, she would eternally hold a grudge against the one man who had shamed her good name. It was a crime without justice, and she would have happily had him locked up for his numerous misdeeds. Yet, somehow, that man had always got off scot-free without any repercussions, never mind how abhorrent the delinquency.
Currently, that very man was now in the gardens behind the library that she so dearly loved. Worse still, the cad was sitting upon a wrought iron bench and cradling the tiny, frail figure of one of her former students, Lydia Deetz.
Miss Shannon felt her ire rise from such a wanton display of vulgarity.
It was shamelessly indecent, and as such, it was her duty to correct this situation, post haste.
Sniffling, Lydia curled into Beetlejuice's fold, while he tried his best to radiate some heat her way.
"You alright there?" He asked when she finally hiccupped her cries to a stop.
Nuzzling into his neck, breathing him in, she whispered her words against his skin.
"…and all I've loved… I've loved alone."
"Aww, Babes. Yer never alone." He assured her while squeezing her tight. "You got me, and I'm in it for the long run."
With a smile, Lydia placed a gentle kiss under his chin, to which he returned one upon her head.
"Is this your way of telling me that you love me?" Although it felt hollow, she asked it in an attempt to lift her own spirits.
"Is this your way of fishing for more information?" He teased in return while slowly gripping up her thigh.
"Ah, I get it. You'd rather let those wandering hands do all the talking." Opening her mouth, she gifted him a chance for a kiss, but once he attempted to close the gap, she immediately pulled back.
With newfound tears, Lydia giggled at his feigned frustration as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Surrendering, she granted his kisses to wipe away any traces of the hurt and betrayal that had been left behind by the woman who Lydia would have gladly killed for a second time.
"Ahem!" The firm clearing of a stranger's throat intruded in, startling Lydia and Beetlejuice to straighten up in surprise.
"This ain't a free show!" Beej snarled. "Oh, it's you."
"Miss Shannon?" Wiping her eyes, Lydia addressed her former headmistress while sliding off of Beetlejuice's lap.
"Have you no shame?" The woman barked at Beetleman before turning her attention to Lydia. "And you, young woman! I know that I have taught you how to be a proper lady, but this is by far the most unnatural and improprietous thing I have ever seen. Not even your classmate, Betty would have behaved in such an indecorous way."
"Oh, boy. Are you barking up the wrong tree or what?" Beetlejuice began to laugh. "You really thought Betty was your student? Good gods, Babes, I had no idea that yer power extended to the whole school staff. I mean, a little befuddling but damn, they should have forgotten little old Betty."
"It's not like you gave me instructions." As Lydia took hold of his arm, it was apparent that it was a move that Miss Shannon did not appreciate.
"Regardless of what is obviously poor judgment on Miss Deet's part for cavorting with a much older and uncouth individual, but you Mr. Beetleman have no excuse, you are completely vile!" Miss Shannon rounded on the couple with her finger-wagging at them in disapproval.
Beej only chuckled to the old headmistress's diatribe.
"Awww, compliments. You shouldn't have."
"Mr. Beetleman, I ought to have you arrested for your insidious predatory behavior. You have been sniffing around my student for long enough." Folding her arms, Miss Shannon's nose rose into the air, but her eyes never left their gaze from the ghost.
"Need I remind you that I am no longer your student and I am not a child." Lydia's voice dropped in tone as she stepped forward protectively in front of her childhood best friend.
"Perhaps not Miss Deetz, but I am certain that I am not the one responsible for your loose set of virtues. Such harlotry is reprehensible." The head-mistress balked as her nose went higher.
"Aaaaaaaand this is where you shut the fuck up." Beej wound up his arm, threw his juice in Shannon's face, and a solid bolted plate of metal silenced her on the spot.
Had she had the time to realize that he juiced her former school teacher, Lydia would have interjected. However, by that time, he had looped her elbow with his, and the three of them vanished into the chilly air.
No trace of them was left, except for the abandoned shopping bag of broken eggs, a loaf of bread, and a shattered glass pint of milk that had puddled was now crystallized upon the icy ground.
The scenery was nothing but a blur in Allen's eyes as his mind focused on other things. Confounding thoughts swirled and waltzed within his brain over what had transpired only moments ago at the market.
He understood what had happened, but at the same time, it didn't make sense. There was clearly more to the whole situation, and it left him perplexed. So, he repeatedly replayed the scene within his head.
After talking a little bit with Lydia, he had bore witness to Mr. Beetleman abruptly appearing out of nowhere and stealing her away. Also, when he had observed the way that Mr. Beetleman gripped ahold of her arm and treated her similarly to a possession; well, that alone filled Allen's stomach with lead. Of course, there were many things about Mr. Beetleman that didn't sit well within him, and this was just another thing to tick off on the growing list against him.
Coming to a stop near the Peaceful Pine's library, Allen used this opportunity to try to still his now noticeable and ragged breathing. He couldn't understand why he was feeling so bothered by what had happened. There was a multitude of things that didn't make sense to him, and Beetleman's actions were irritating him more than he ever thought that they could. In fact, all it did was poke at the sleeping darkness that was inside of him. No, he needed to talk to someone about it. There was always a chance that he had seen it incorrectly. Shaking his head, he knew better than that and understood that this wasn't the case. He had perceived every detail of what had transpired very clearly... Especially how she was undoubtedly not expecting Mr. Beetleman and didn't look happy about what he had done.
Grabbing the radio, he needed to follow through on this.
"10-20, Brown?" Gripping the receiver, he waited for a response, but it wasn't long before a break in the static answered his call.
"Roger." Mindlessly tapping the handset, Allen's anxious feeling would not abate, and as time went on, he got tired of waiting and pulled away to head to the station.
His mind would not relent as he dwelled on every interaction that he had ever had with Mr. Beetleman. Something about that and the urge within him to take action about the unnatural attachment shook him to the core. Yet, he also found that the feeling only grew whenever he discovered that Mr. Beetleman was around Lydia Deetz. In his opinion, it didn't appear to be healthy for her. Let alone, nor was it healthy for him to be so engrossed with the odd relationship between the two.
Things would be so much better for both of their mental health if the distraction of Mr. Beetleman wasn't in her life.
Allen's conclusion was succinct and simple, with only one word: trouble. Mr. Beetleman was trouble for anyone around him.
In the middle of the Roadhouse's living-dead room, a woman slowly stirred, regaining consciousness in the chair that she was tied to. As she roused, she didn't recall blacking out, but perhaps that would serve as a blessing for her. After all, it had made it much easier and less traumatic to tie up Mis Shannon.
Beetlejuice was enjoying this far more than he would ever let on. His feigned annoyance for having to kidnap the old bag was nothing more than a front because, on the inside, he was giddy and practically ready to burst with excitement.
As the door opened from behind him, light flooded into the room and fell upon her restrained form. Miss Shannon flinched from the glare that crept into the room from the setting sun and cast an unearthly glow around those that were within it.
"Beej, are you sure that you want them to see this?" Lydia tentatively asked before a voice behind her boomed.
"What in tarnation are y'all playin' at hair, Beetlejuice? Ms. Lydia's sayin' sumthin' about waking up but I ain't been sleep walkin', iffin that's what yer gettin' at."
"Yeah, I don't understand. I was in the middle of practicing my new routine-"
"And I was 'bout to practice my lifts. Do you 'ave any idea 'ow difficult it can be to work on muscles memory wizout muscles?"
Beetlejuice laughed darkly at their inquiries. Oh, the crew would be in for a real treat after they process the upcoming horror within their little innocent, neitherworld-rattled minds.
"Why dontcha bring 'em in Babes. Miss Shannon and I are about to have a little chat before it's showtime."
Shrugging apathetically, Lydia opened the door all of the way and led his neighbors into the dark room.
"Lydia, why on earth do you have a woman tied up?" Ginger squeaked in horror.
"This jus' ain't right. Beetlejuice you let that little lady go." The Monster growled, but before any more fuss could be raised, Beetlejuice zapped them all into duplicate chairs and ropes.
"Witnesses, pfft. You know I love 'em!" He cackled as Lydia juiced up her own chair, took a seat next to their friends, and leaned forward with both elbows on her knees while resting her head into her hands.
"Well, are you going to explain why you even sent me out to get witnesses?" Lydia asked, and perhaps she would have gotten an answer if at that moment, Miss Shannon had not let out a muffled scream from behind her metallic gag.
"Oh! Almost forgot, I can't have an interrogation if the pie-hole can't squeal." With a point of his finger, the metal plate dissolved into ash and salt before sprinkling into the horrified woman's lap.
"You horrible man! How dare you kidnap me! Let me go this instant OR I WILL HAVE YOU REPORTED!" Miss Shannon's words were thrown about like daggers, but they were only met with a shrug from the ghost in front of her.
"To who and for what? All I did was shut you up and give you a comfortable seat. Although I highly doubt that you will be comfortable for much longer."
With a clap of his hands, a spotlight flooded down upon Miss Shannon's face, causing her to wince. Silently she glared at Beetlejuice and Lydia before her eyes wandered to take in the room. When the other three beings come into her focus, her eyes grew wide, and she felt another scream bubble up from inside of her. Before she could fully release it, Beetlejuice tsked her.
"Ah, ah, ah... We're not going there, toots. After everything you've done, you can't try to make us feel sorry for ya now."
"I haven't done anything!" She indignantly hissed at him.
"Oh, really? Well, I have to say that's a load of bullshit." He sniggered when he adopted his Sherlock Homely guise. "You, my dear, have skeletons in your closet skinnier that Jacq-a-moe over there."
Beetlejuice made a nod over to the restrained skeleton, but Jacques grunted against his bindings and gag. With that, it was apparent that he wasn't pleased with the insult.
"Tell me, did you deliberately take payments for Claire Brewster to excel in all her classes, even though that bitch was dumber than bricks." He sucked on his pipe and awaited her answer with half-lidded eyes.
"Why, I never!" Miss Shannon brusquely turned her head up and closed her eyes.
"Lying will get you no sympathy from the devil!" He sing-songed while taking his pipe to turn her face back into his direction.
"Beej, bribery is not a good enough of a reason to kill her." Lydia's bored expression waned and transformed into a small smile as she continued to watch his antics.
"Oh, just wait, Babes. I'm gonna be turning up the heat." He grinned at her.
After the words were uttered, Miss Shannon's seat briefly lit up accompanied by her screams with a blazing fire, before it faded until the legs of the chair glowed to an orange ember. From the lasting pain of the fire, paired with the humiliation of her now-exposed legs from her charred clothing, her eyes began to fill with tears.
"Now, now, now Shanny… come on and tell us the truth." Prodding her further with his words, he turned on his heel, faced away from her with his back now to the captive head-mistress.
"Yes," Softly the words came out of her quieter than a whisper.
"Yes? What?" BJ risked a snarky glance over his shoulder.
"The Brewster's remunerated the school so that Claire would pass all of her classes." The woman sniffled and lowered her gaze.
Stepping away from the old red-head, Beetlejuice nodded while erasing all evidence of any fire, but he wasn't stopping there.
"Good answer. Now, as far as payment goes; didn't you get a little something extra than the normal "donation" when you made Claire valedictorian instead of Prudence?"
After a long silence, Lydia's body stiffened when there was no answer from the older woman.
"Beej, I don't think I want…" Lydia began, shifting in her seat.
"Yes." Miss Shannon interrupted as she spat out the word with a vehemence.
Cackling Beetlejuice produced a knife and presented it for Lydia.
"Hey, Babes, come here. Methinks that this birdy is ready to sing and here it only took a little heat."
Rising from her chair, Lydia soon crossed the room to stand alongside Beetlejuice. Hesitantly at first, she carefully took the knife from him before firmly holding it in her hand. She needed to know the reasons for why such an injustice happened to her friend.
"I don't understand, how could you do that to Prudence? All she has ever wanted was to be a surgeon, a famous doctor, or a scientist that could have changed the world. I know that she could have been any of those things if only she had met the requirements that any of the school's that she chose had needed. If she had been valedictorian, she could have easily gotten into any of those desired fields. She earned that spot." Lydia shook her head, disappointed in her headmistress.
"Certainly, Miss Miller is smart, but she would never have made it into any of those distinguished schools that she had applied for. After all, her pedigree was not where it should have been, and they only look for... Ahhh!" Miss Shannon's thoughts were interrupted by her own scream when Lydia slashed the woman's shoulder with her knife.
"What does pedigree have to do with anything?! She's not a dog, Miss Shannon! She is singularly the most brilliant student who has ever stepped foot into your school." Lydia shouted at the sobbing woman in front of her before Miss Shannon shot back at her with her own deep-seated anger.
"You were a wretched mistake to bring into my school, Lydia Deetz!" The now red in the face head-mistress screeched.
As Beetlejuice raised his hand to silence her, Lydia stilled him as Miss Shannon whimpered in reply.
"Yes, it was a mistake! I should have gone to the public school, but for some reason, Daddy insisted I went there. He always said that my tuition would be paid for because of my circumstances, but I always thought that he meant that it was because of my mother… " She glanced to Beetlejuice with hurt behind her eyes as the truth firmly embedded itself inside of her heart. "That wasn't the truth. Oh, daddy…"
"He would never have gotten you into my school. Not after…" Shannon blurted out before she gasped and swiftly clamped her mouth shut.
Narrowing her eyes, Lydia turned to look at the woman eyes narrowed.
"Not after what?" Her words were firm while her eyes burned darkly
As Miss Shannon shook her head to keep silent, Beetlejuice slid behind her, placed his hands around her neck, and gave a squeeze firm enough to get his point across.
"NNnnnnnngh… You are a horrible child!" She growled before Beej once again compressed his fingers upon her.
"Did you or did you not continually set up Lydia for ridicule throughout her whole time in your little sorry-of-an-excuse of a school? Don't you dare lie to me, Shanny, I was there. I saw everything."
"Disgusting perverted… AH! Nnnggggh…. Yes!" She gasped out. "Yes, I did. I had to… Claire didn't want her position challenged."
"But what did my father do? Beej! Let go of her throat; I want some answers." Lydia stepped closer, pointing the knife directly towards the Headmistress's face. "Why would he, as you say, never would have been able to secure my place in your little prim and proper hell?"
Once again, Miss Shannon averted her face from the two, but something quickly caught Beetlejuice's eye.
"Ooooh, Babes, lookit that blush. I think this stick-in-the-mud, prude wanted to get into Ol' Chucky's pants." Beetlejuice leaned forward with a lecherous sneer.
Instantly Miss Shannon bawled out a horrific cry before turning her venom on Lydia.
"Dirty little bastard child, you didn't deserve to be in my school! Oh no, but your way was already paid for by your slut of a mother and your philandering father. Humph, he wanted to make sure his two little girls never knew a word of the truth! That man who raised you was too good of a person to have reared such a hell-spawn like you. Disgusting bad blood! Improper breeding! You child of a Succubus…"
Her rant was cut short when Lydia slashed at the helpless woman, but it was too late, she was already dead. Before Lydia's blade had even made contact, Beetlejuice's hands had proven to be quicker and by then had succinctly snapped the headmistress's neck.
"Beej!" Whipping her face up to meet the ghost, Lydia's incredulous expression bored into him.
"Oh shit!" He realized, but it was now too late to change anything because the damage was done. The dead had killed the now-dead, and this kill would not count towards Lydia's quota. Not only that, he had never murdered a woman before.
Leaning forward, Lydia touched the woman's neck and felt the protruding broken bones.
"Damnit, Beetlejuice, you weren't the one who was supposed to kill her!" She huffed out her frustration.
"She was insulting you Babes! Did ya think that I…" Beetlejuice stopped as the energy around them began to shift and change.
As the three bound ghosts unleashed themselves, their ropes fell forgotten upon the floor as they slowly approached the bloodied lifeless body. Small puddles of crimson grew larger with each droplet that fell from the cooling body above.
"Oh my! Lydia, darling… you made the perfect cut!" Ginger cooed with approval as she crawled up on the body to examine the cut with her delicate fingers.
"Well, I'll be doggone... I was asleep." The Monster moved behind the body and lifted the dead woman's head to get a better look at it. "Hehe, she sure is a purty sight. Wouldn'ta thought ta bring a breather here fer fun. That there some good thinkin', Beetlejuice."
"Indeed, eet eez. My, my, my... This specimen will be wonderful with a bourguignon. Pair eet with a deep, well-rounded red wine and stewed eet to perfection. Ah, I do miss ze taste of flesh. Zat eez much more tender zan beef, don't you sink Ginger?" Jacques gushed while poking at the soft thighs of the dead woman.
"Well, I wouldn't know Jacques. We never did get ta meet when I was alive, an' I've never had the chance to taste your specialties." Ginger giggled.
Backing away from her friends, Lydia was horrified and yet at the same time intrigued by their conversation.
"Welcome to my world, Lyds. Ain't it great!" Beetlejuice wrapped his arm around her petite body while taking one hand to trail a line of blood across her face. "Better get your hands in that wonderful ooze. While it ain't a kill for ya, there are some benefits to getting blood on your hands in my world."
Spinning around, Lydia wrapped her arms around him. Staring into his softened eyes, she began to melt into his embrace, while raising one leg up and hooking it around his hip.
"Seems like we get closer and closer each time ya kill someone." His voice rumbled as his hands fell to her hip and pulled her tight. "Starting ta think that yer crazy about me. Then again, it could just be the high…"
With a finger pressed to his lips, Lydia halted him, before placing her own in its stead. Barely touching him, she let the sensations of his wandering hands play her like a fiddle.
"I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched." she recited softly against his cool lips.
He chuckled, allowing her to breathe out her mortal breath into his lifeless body.
"You're fucking morbid, Babes. I love it."