"-Here I opened wide the door; — Darkness there, and nothing more." Egar Allan Poe
"She'll forgive me, right? Eventually?" Beetlejuice as the effigy of Charles Deetz in the portrait that still hung in the Deetz Living room.
The image was carefully tucked away in an inconspicuous corner to fill the space just as Delia wanted. Her paintings were always held in the more prominent locations in anticipation of a collector or curator with a taste for Delia's unique style.
To Beej, this position was the perfect vantage point to observe the ongoings of daily life in the Deetz residence.
Charles remained mute as Beej threw his arm over the shoulder of the image and pulled a cig out of mid-air, already pre-lit. He slowly inhaled the sweet nicotine that offered him no real pleasure. It helped him think and occupied his hands and mouth in a ritual left behind from his living days.
The past to him was as clear in memory as ever. Give or take a few dips into the Neither-magic that allowed him to forget the betrayal. If only briefly.
"See the thing is, Lyds just doesn't understand where I'm coming from. I've seen it before. Killers get cocky. They get the best training from yours truly, and they go and fuck it up."
He watched Lydia enter the room, slow and graceful as she packed up her belongings for the short trip to the city. He pitched for her to call him. To ask him to go with her and keep her safe from the unfeeling and uncaring estate executor.
"I can't lose her, Chuck. You knew it, and I know it. That gal is one in a million, and I got you to thank for keeping that twisted mind of hers intact. I can't imagine Mama Deetz being so generous to her dark side. As for Mrs. D? Well, she kinda had it coming."
Snickering, Beetlejuice ashed his cig and resumed smoking while his eyes became absorbed by Lydia hypnotic sway. Her slender figure and generous curves teased him while her skirt swayed around her legging covered thighs. She crossed the room with determination, and he started to feel smug at how quickly she approached the portrait, only to pass it, leaving him baffled as she picked up the telephone. Shit, he thought, she is calling a cab.
Surprising him, he realized the number she dialed was not the cab company. Instead, she had pulled out a small business card with numbers written on the back. Beej leaned out of the frame to get a better look at the word scrawled on the card. Home, it was written in handwriting he was not too pleased to see.
"Uh, hi. It's me." Lydia's voice sounded meek and perhaps a little wounded. "He's not coming. We sorta … well, it's complicated."
Beej wanted to growl and scream at the interloper over the phone that Lydia was his and to hang up.
"Yes, please." She answered a silent question that he strained to hear. "I am already packed, and I have a place to stay. I'm sure there is room for you."
Beetlejuice felt his jaw drop. Lydia was asking the guy to spend the night!? She wouldn't… she couldn't….
"Thanks, Allen. I owe you one." Lydia smiled brightly and then added her goodbyes.
Boiling with an internal rage he hadn't felt since Prince Vince tried to make his move on Lyds, Beej struggled out of the portrait and stood behind her.
"You are not going with him." His voice was dripping with menace while he flung his cigarette into the ethers.
Lydia flipped her hair back and rolled her eyes. "You can try to stop me, but that wouldn't exactly help you get back on my good side." She walked away from him and up the stairs leading to her room.
"Lydia!" He cried and rushed after her. "Lydiaaaa! Get back here at once and call him back. I'm going with you, and that's final!"
She paused with her hand on the banister and slowly turned to face him. "Pact or no pact, you don't get to tell me what to do, Beetlejuice. This life is still mine."
"But you gave me your last minutes," he cried out as he pulled the watch she had given him and waved it to her.
"The end of my Life! Not now, the end. Get that through your thick skull. Just because I love you, it doesn't mean I am going to do everything you say at the drop of a dime." Lydia glared at him, and he flinched. "I need some space. You can either stay here and brood while I'm gone or you can just go home. I'll call you when I get back."
At a loss, Beej slumped down. The watch, along with his arms, rested at his side while she climbed the last of the stairs and slammed the door to empathize her anger.
"Fuck." Beej looked at the portrait of Charles Deetz as the image spring to life.
"Well, what did you expect? You knew she was volatile. Don't break her heart; she is still my baby girl."
When the portrait reformed, Beetlejuice shivered. "Now that is one creepy use of the juice."
The sound of Allen's car pulled up the gravel road leading to the house while Lydia spent her last minutes waiting in the living room, her beloved anthology of Poe in her lap while she sipped a warm cup of tea. Upon hearing his approach, Lydia closed her book and walked her cup to the kitchen to rinse and put it in the drainer to dry while she was away.
Silence in the Deetz home made it easy to hear the car door open and close, along with the steps being taken before she heard the rap of knuckles on her front door. Lydia found it interesting that he still used her front door when Bertha and Prudence learned that she would be more apt to find her near the kitchen entrance out of habit.
A change of pace was nice; she thought while she opened the door and met the officer. Dressed casually in a warm jacket and jeans, he didn't look at all like the cop she had grown accustomed to but rather like any other man. Handsome and welcoming, though she could sense his discomfort radiating off him as he stood there waiting for her to say something.
"Would you like to come in?" She asked, taking note of how his eyes scanned the entryway. His eyes fell on her travel bags and pressed his lips together in a thin line.
"He's not here." She said with a sigh barely audible but even that subtle expression of disappointment didn't escape him.
"I noticed." He stated flatly though not unsympathetically. "If you want to talk.."
He began to offer his ear but stopped when Lydia waved her hand in an exaggerated manner. "It's nothing to worry about. He's being an idiot. I sent him home."
Allen watched her carefully, noting the disappointment and sadness that plagued her. The urge to comfort her hit him, but he refrained, maintaining control of himself.
"Let me get your bags," he offered.
Lydia stepped aside and let him pick up her few bags. It was only for a couple of days, after all. She could manage with essentials. In the meantime, she went around her house, turning off all the lights in the lower part of the house while she used her power to close her upstairs bedroom door.
The sound made both of them jump, and Allen threw her a rather shocked expression. She laughed it off and said, "This house is full of surprises."
"The house or the owner?"
"Wouldn't you like to know," Her voice dipped into a low sultry tone while she walked beside him and bumped him with her hip playfully. Allen could only chuckle in response and pick up the last remaining bag off the floor.
"To spy or not to spy, that is the question." Beetlejuice recited to himself while he held up Jacques skull in his hand. Dramatically posing in reference to his longtime friend in death, William Shakespeare.
"You do know that it is not the proper quote for this moment of the play." Indignant at the treatment he was receiving, Jacques voiced his displeasure. "Put my head back on my shoulders and get yours out of your ass, Fils du Pute!"
"At least your gettin' better at the English insults but I gotta say if anyone had a bitch for a mother, it was our Little Lydsy." Beej tossed Jacques head back onto the skeletal body. He wondered why his neighbors hadn't attempted shapeshifting now that their bonds were broke thanks to Miss Shannon's generous donation.
Cut short — all of them. Beetlejuice was never content with how their lives played out. Brief flickers of potential snuffed out before they really had a chance to thrive. Nothing could compare to how disappointing it was to see them fail when they were so damn close. So close to help him break free from the monotony and cluelessness of the magic that trapped them all.
Lydia was nearly there. She was so close, and he needed her to be on his side. All would be for nothing if she broke away from him now and worse since he played the one hand he knew would keep her close. He gave her his heart.
"If you are that worried about what that connard d' un homme is capable of then take care of him. You never held back before."
"Yeah but then the heat is on. Lyds is so close, Jaca-mold. I can't risk it as I did with Ginger. Shit, she still holds a grudge. Speaking of…. what the hell is, going on with you too?"
"Je n'ai aucune idée."
The skeleton tugged on the blue top covering his bones; he looked disgusted with himself. With a force of energy, Jacques attempted to reform his flesh but stopped when he realized he needed to recover from the constant exercise the magic put him through.
"Aww come on, Bone head, give me the juicy details. You two have been pushin' and pullin' since you've been in this hell hole."
"No thanks to you." Jacques snapped, frustrated by his lack of ability. "Look at this… my body is a mess. No flesh. No logic behind how this body can eat! And yet, I do."
"Twitchy eight legs, isn't having much success I take it?" Beej would get anything to distract himself from the fact Lydia was alone with the guy he originally encouraged her to seduce. This wasn't going as planned, but at least he was able to wake up The Neither-dorks.
"She refuses to dance. No more of this forced compulsive putain de merde. Nous nous sommes fait enculer!"
"Whoa there, slow it on the crazy. One problem at a time and then I'll teach ya how to get that figure back into screwable shape. I'll fix Ging too so you can work out that anxiety."
"You can be such a bastard."
"There ya go! English, just like I remember!"
The ride to the city would take anywhere from two to three hours, but Lydia found herself feeling incredibly comfortable to be away from the drama that was beginning to build and fester in the walls of her home. The one place she never wanted to leave, and now all she wanted was to put some distance between herself and the lies.
It hurt terribly that Beej would continue on this trail of half-truths and deception. Didn't he trust her judgment? Did he doubt her love for him? Was she just not good enough to be allowed her own self-counsel and autonomy?
Nothing could describe the pain it took for her to willingly walk away from him while he was so angry and the jealousy …. the jealousy baffled her more than anything. Wasn't it his plan all along for Lydia to get close to Allen? To earn his trust and get into the fold of the case to keep them one step ahead?
Nothing about his change of attitude made sense to her aside from his need to control her, and that needed to stop. She was going to have to take control.
This was the first step.
She enjoyed Allen's company, silent and steady. He - unlike Beej- had control over his emotions and she was able to let her self relax and close her eyes while they listened to music that most in Peaceful Pines would consider uncouth and possibly demonic.
It wasn't The Cure by any means, but it still felt more comfortable than listening to the sugar pop that currently dominated the radio. The lyrics to the song brought a blush to her cheeks despite the deep message being deliberately hidden under the provocative language.
Allen also seemed to be enjoying the tunes as his energy levels matched her own.
Odd, she thought, that her empathic senses seem to have grown considerably along with her ability to use magic. It was always there. A special skill that helped to sense when Beetlejuice was close to blowing his top. She knew when to step away or to calm him down.
Now she realized that the ability had been muffled all along. Apparently right along with memories that she resented losing. How could he do that to her? Deliberately erase memories of their friendship, of the entire relationship with no intention of giving them back.
He hadn't been able to do much of anything other than fucking her senseless since she had given him the watch. Blessing and a curse….
The song ended, and Lydia smiled at the view outside of her passenger side window.
"Delia always hated music like this," Lydia commented.
"Parents rarely like the music of their kid's generation."
Lydia turned her attention to him, watching the intense way he kept his eyes on the road. She considered his silence. It was a stark contrast to Beej and their noisy road trips. This felt normal. Something a regular person would be lucky enough to enjoy and never know there are people in this world who live in a state of mental chaos.
Perhaps now would be a good time to learn more about her traveling companion. Starting with her own knowledge, gleaned from every glowing source of information — the encyclopedia of local gossip by Bertha Brown.
"Parents often dislike more than just music." She adjusted herself to face him, slightly sitting on her hip and head leaning against the headrest. "Mothers can cause more pain with more than just a simple dislike for aesthetic and music taste."
"Oma and Opa encouraged me to find my own music."
An obvious deflection. Lydia watched for any physical tell that matched his spiritual discomfort at this line of questioning. More half-truths… she sighed internally.
Lydia determined that this might be on trait Allen and Beej have in common. Not as if she were any better. Here she was, a serial killer. Blood on her hands and no regrets about her deeds. She didn't miss any of them.
"I'm glad they did. Not only do I have a great view like Bertha promised, but I get to listen to the music that touched his soul." Lydia felt her lips quirk at his reaction. Confusion and a subtle pleasure at her words. She could feel the battle inside him as he kept his eyes on the road.
"It bothers you." She stated her observation. "You don't really like it. The flirting. It just really annoys you when we tag team."
"I am getting used to Bertha's teasing when we are on patrol. When it's both of you... I just don't know how to take it. I'm not even sure why you guys do it." Allen focused on the road as they merged into another lane. "I am flattered, though."
Lydia shook her head at his guarded answer.
"Bertha is a shameless flirt. All it takes is for one cute guy to be in the room and she turns on her charms. As for me? It's hard to say, but if it bothers you, I could always stop."
Lydia's flirtatious smirk was quickly followed by the batting of her eyelashes. She wouldn't be rewarded by any reaction because he avoided her gaze and swelled on the road before them.
"I've seen her in action." Allen shook his head, bemused by his partner's insatiable need for romance and gossip. "It doesn't bother me when you do it. I know it's not serious."
"Who said it wasn't serious?" Lydia felt the uncertainty rise up from inside and nearly punch her with an extra dose of doubt.
A quick glance from him and a subtle prob against her energy let her know she had touched a nerve. His heart rate even picked up a bit.
"Now I really don't understand. Why me?"
"Hmm... let me think. You have good looks, patience to keep Bertha as a partner, a calm aura …. Yeah, totally nothing there."
With a dramatic sigh, Lydia there her arm up to her forehead and reclined back against the seat, "Alas, my heart will forever be tormented by unrequited love. For it is true that I am the lamest of all flirts."
She caught glimpses of his eyes darting between her and the road. Not to mention the subtle pokes into her metaphysical space. His uncertainty reflected hers in a way that she never anticipated in someone so controlled. She almost felt sorry for him that she had done such a terrible job of getting his attention.
At least one more similarity. Subtly doesn't work on either Beej or in Allen. They do very poor jobs of reading between the lines. Lydia was starting to wonder if that was just a male trait.
"You really don't understand…" She felt herself smile at the uncomfortable energy the flooded the car. "Would it help if I said that we both actually like you? All of us, if you include Prudence. When we care about someone, we tease and joke, but unlike Bertha, I don't flirt with everyone, which is why BJ was so jealous about this trip. You can take that however you want, but I'm still going to be sitting here in this car with you driving to a crazy city where people party all night and the noise never stops."
"I'm just here to help you if I can. So don't hesitate to ask."
There was a sweetness in those words that surprised her, and it touched at something she had been missing for so long. She accepted his offer with a gentle touch on his arm, and a surge of grateful energy flushed out from her fingertips.
His reaction was far less visible and had Lydia not had the abilities she would have missed it, but it was there. A light burst of affection hit her. That was perhaps the most honest emotion she could glean off him, and it sent a soothing balm against her aching heart.
Beej hadn't been that sweet and tender in a while. It's been passion and lust. Blood and aggression fueled their unions at a bestial level but this tenderness. This rare flush of unconditional sentiment was sorely lacking.
She missed her playful best friend. The one who would hold her when she was upset or overwhelmed by the sensations of the world. How he could calm her nerves when even she didn't understand the underlying source of her rage and fear. Her best Buddy BJ. Her first love and lover. She would give anything to have his devotion without an ulterior motive.
She would give anything to have an unconditional connection.
With a sigh, Lydia turned her attention back to her riding companion.
"Have you ever been in love?"
Lydia felt his hesitation over the next words. He seemed a bit startled at the out of the blue question, and he took a good long moment before he replied.
"I have never had a relationship."
Lydia nodded. "Bertha mentioned something about that, but I mean love. Not a relationship. Beej always said that love was the pits. I think I'm starting to agree with him."
"Why!?" Allen raised his voice, incredulous that anyone could say such a thing. "I've always longed for a love that was more than love."
Lydia curled her lips into a gentle, sympathetic smile and said gently, "and all I've loved, I loved alone."
"You can't say that, Lydia. You had a loving family and friends who would do anything for you. If I were to have a love, I would treasure and make them feel special and wanted. I'd give everything if only they would love me in return."
Lydia felt the raw emotion pour out of him before he bottled it up with a cough and a clearing of his throat.
"My Opa and Oma- my grandparents - they showed me what it could be between two people who were devoted to each other."
"You're lucky. Neither of my mothers loved my father the way he deserved, and he deserved it more than anyone on this earth. Far more than even I do and if they truly did love him then maybe everything would have turned out differently."
Shock crossed him, causing him to take his eyes off the road.
"That can't be true! Bertha and well... everyone in town said your mom doted on both of you for as long as you've lived in Peaceful Pines." He shook his head in disbelief at her words. "Yes, he deserved love, and so do you."
"Delia was a master of deception and knew how to put up appearances." Lydia sighed and leaned her head against the window. "People in our town only want to see the light, but you and I know differently. There is a darker story in every happy ending.."
"I know that all too well..."