Witching Hour

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Agents

With one final thrust, and one last, long moan from Samantha, she was done. Minos tried to give his own, gurgling affirmation, but he was little more than a ghoul at that point, given life by her will and her will alone. His hips shook, trying so hard to buck. She could fill the last, single, pitiable dollop of his love mingle inside her then run into the mess still spilling out onto him and the bed.

Her belly was distended, a slight bit uncomfortable from the sheer volume still packed inside her, but with how giddy it was making her, with how it made her head swim in pure bliss (though not innocent), it was a sacrifice she was more than happy to make. The bed even suffered in her carnal tirade, murdered- nay, massacred. It made his actual bed look luxurious for the rampage it had experienced.

Samantha leaned back with a sigh, resting against Minos’s legs. They were raised on (one of) the back, broken bits of the bed. She caressed his face –which, given the angle of that shard, was on level with hers. His hips were the wedge, hers the hammer, striking again and again until he was through and on the ground... and even that wasn’t enough. How he tried to claw away, tried to run; it only made it all the more sweeter.

Her alarm went off, and she grumbled as she hopped up the crater, still attached to her toy. He whimpered with each fall, but he would simply have to live with it... or become a raft for the rising white sea underneath. She wondered if any of it spilled into the classroom below, but that only ruined her mood. And her want to keep it plugged. She pulled free, and it was like a dam broke, raining from her as she crab-walked out of the pass, hunting for her pants. They were found, alas, and torn apart to end that tinny rattle, then returned to her toy.

Minos still didn’t stir, wheezing, a ghastly sound, as he bobbed on top of that alabaster swamp. She tittered, and crouched over his head, spreading her lower lips and letting loose a deluge of spunk on it. She grabbed his horns, pulled him against her folds, rubbing, smearing him in their love until it slowed to a slight trickle down her thigh. Still no reaction. His eyes were blank, staring off into the space, while he wore a big, goofy grin.

No fun, Samantha thought, huffing. She retrieved a new set of clothes and headed for the bathroom, taking a shower. She hoped she would be done before the pleasure wore off, before the last of her anger completely resigned, so that she could go back to bed. Actually bed this time. There won’t be class today, either.

She cleaned her hair, humming a soft tune. It seemed to ripple, to echo through the bathroom, though it was little more than a whisper, slowly taking her off her feet. Does it matter anymore? I won, bitches!

And speaking of bitches.

She would have called and told Lilith yesterday that she accepted her deal, but why not make the succubus sweat a little? Let her believe that Samantha was still thinking about it; maybe she’ll add something else to sweeten the pot. A new car, maybe, or, even better, actual pay. Like she thought yesterday. Like she wanted initially. Hell, why would she want a car now?

She looked at her left arm, at the dragon that once only laid siege to her digits. It gave up that life and now spanned to her shoulder, her sleeve; her shield. Its tail wrapped all the way down her forearm and lazed by her elbow, just grazing it. Its wings draped along the outside, hooking underneath her thumb, while it hugged her hand, creating a thick, metal plate across her palm with its right arm. Its head rested on her knuckles, eyes gleaming, watching her.

Why would I ever need any form of transport again, she thought, giggling as it gave her a dirty look, covered in body wash. At least it wasn’t the other fluid... now. Magic, bitches!

But... if that was the case, why was she so worried about Lilith?

It was a question that haunted her since day one, but it was becoming more and more apparent. Why did she still fear, still worry so much about the succubus? She could decimate her, completely eradicate the cunt with little more than a wave of the hand –well, maybe more than that, but the point still stands. What was Lilith to her, a witch-now-god in her own right? She even had her own sacrifice, placed on her altar and used for the greater good.

And speaking of the sacrifice.

“Hey there, pretty mama,” Minos mumbled, climbing into the shower with her, though it was with great effort. Though he tried so hard to sound strong, his voice wavered, and even then was an echo of its former self. Even his chuckle was more akin to his wheeze a moment before. His legs still shook, still jelly and bruise, making the rest jiggle. He wasn’t covered in bruises, no; there was no distinct separation anywhere. His whole body was one, large bruise –save for his eyes. They had deep, dark circles under them, and were bloodshot, almost pink instead of their lustrous red. Yet he still wore his big, goofy grin, hugging, holding her. “Hot damn... what got into you all of a sudden?”

She chuckled, and reached behind, groping his balls. They audibly recoiled, smacking against his thigh. But he was against the wall. He couldn’t run very far. They couldn’t get away.

“Aw... They’re afraid of little old me,” she said, and turned around, embracing him. She kissed him, smiling, watching as he shivered, seeing the malevolent gleam in her eye through his. How she enjoyed him like this, as he winced and shuddered as she twirled a finger around the end of his member. “It’s a shame, though.”

“W-what?”

“I was hoping to completely immobilize you... Guess I’ll simply have to do better after our nap.”

He whined, that high-pitched, throaty whine that dogs make, which only spurred Samantha on more, teasing, stroking him as she cleaned it off. Its end was a deep shade of purple, fighting so hard to remain shrunk, almost turning black as it swelled anyways by the stimuli, but she would show her toy mercy. For now. She didn’t want it to break; it would be Hell to find another one just like it. So she only cleaned him off, got clean herself, and had him towel the two of them off before she gripped him by those cajones, leading him back to the bedroom. Primp and proper. It was as if they never unleashed fury in it. She had him lay down first, the sheets and pillows replaced by fresh, virginal attire on a completely new frame.

They work fast... Well, we’re just going to have to break this in, she thought, her final thought before she slipped into the abyss, her body pillow always a step ahead, guiding her down into the twilight.

She didn’t know how long she had gone adrift, how far away she was in the umbral sea, but what Samantha did know was she was not ready to make port. The thundering storm, though, that dared to besiege her, the jostling in an unknown current, forced her to cast anchor and wake far too soon. Samantha found herself alone in the bed, laid on the other side with not even a trace of her toy anywhere in the room. The bastard; she was going to have him make breakfast before fucking him brainless again. Now she’ll simply have to cook for herself and then go a hunting. Why do so many people have to make her life hard?

And speaking of hard, those knocks were getting a bit ridiculous.

She groaned, and stood from the bed... having to do so twice. Her legs weren’t completely up yet, but they at least held the second time, managing two steps towards the door before knocked back onto the mattress by the blows.

“I’m coming, dammit,” she exclaimed, coughing, throat aching as she did. “Give me a godsdamn moment!”

Thankfully, whoever the percussionist was stopped their drumming, letting the room fill with an infectious silence. It consumed her, suffocating, stifling, forcing her to rush even more than the hammering ever did to that metal bulwark. It was thrown open, cleansing herself of its ilk... finding Peter on the other side. He was properly dressed today, wearing a white brocade shirt with soft, red lace embroidery. It was tucked into a pair of black pants, ending with a pair of polished wingtips. He had shaved his head, any and all trace of his blue dreads gone, and even wore a warm smile. However, no matter how well he cleaned up, Samantha would always see the blood on his lips, the darkness in his eyes... She cleared her throat again, shaking her head.

“H-hi, Peter,” she said. “Almost didn’t recognize you.”

“Mind if I come in?”

“O-of course. Not.” She quickly added, stepping back. The metal walls rang softly, growing as he lumbered in, making his way to the kitchen. For some, inexplicable reason, Samantha was no longer hungry. “W-what are-”

“I heard your stomach growl through the door. I thought I would make you something.”

“Oh, that is quite all right, Peter. You don’t need t-”

“I insist. Please?” He gestured to the stools as he passed them, opening the freezer. Samantha sat, though wary, watching as he fumbled through her food, mumbling to himself. “Anything strike your fancy?”

“Not in particular, no.”

“Any meat? Maybe chicken?”

“Is that supposed to be racist?”

“No? Chicken and biscuits is amazing in the morning.” He pulled out a packet of the fowl breast, and found two tubes of biscuits in the fridge. He cracked the tubes on the counter, humming away as he sprayed down a cooking sheet, getting it nice and ready, while giving the chicken a defrosting and heating her oven and- and and and-

“Why are you doing this, Peter?” Samantha blurted, stopping him for a single moment.

His smile faded a touch, pain allowed through into his eyes, and heaved a heavy sigh.

“Because I have something I need to ask you... No. More like... beg you.” He placed the biscuits on the sheet, and sat down in the stool beside her, taking her hands in his. “I know why there hasn’t been class the last few days.”

“Y... you do?”

He nodded, sniffling. “You saw me. You witnessed... the monster in me. The creature Lucille made me into... I told you she was a whore, right? A prostitute? She was the Golden Lyre’s best. The envy of all the wives in the village, and in every husband’s dream. I was but sixteen at the time, but many told me she had been working there for sixty years... yet barely looked twenty, with the energy to match. So many people wondered her secret...”

“Why are you telling me this, Peter?”

“She... she took me. She made me hers, and hers alone. I was one of the few men who had no desire for her... Sadly, I was the one man she truly did. So... she made me into that. Against my volition. I was made a monster overnight.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“My heart... had belonged to another... Petrice. She was such a sweetheart, the daughter of Jonas, the town farrier. She had... such... beautiful eyes... I didn’t want to tell dad, but I... fancied her. I fancied one of the girls in the town. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be with her... forever.”

“Why, Peter?”

“She... was my first feed. When I ‘returned’ to town, after Lucille had kidnapped me, she tried to... console. Comfort. Make me feel better... but, when I took her, the blood... I... I lost myself to that creature. I became it then, and would be forever.” He squeezed her hands hard, shaking, darkness welling in his eyes as tears fled from it. “I tore her to shreds... Even now, a millennium later, I still hear her screams... I still feel my heart break. Again and again and again.”

He chuckled, a sour, bitter thing, and wiped his face.

“I turned myself in, then and there. I confessed to it all... I should have been hanged, as I demanded to be, but Lucille... She did... something... I don’t know how. Even now. The people, they all simply... agreed with her-”

“Telepathy,” Samantha blurted, feeling even more queasy from her own insight. “Only matriarchs, the elite of elite of Fangs, are supposed to have that kind of power... Lucille’s a matriarch?”

“It makes sense, given the events over the years... I’m sort of... thankful that I don’t have that. The things I would have done, given my disposition, with the ability to control minds...”

“Well, luckily, it’s only a female trait. Tied to the double-X.” Though that fact did not still her own shivering, imagining what would have happened if someone like Peter- if something like him... if it had that power- HOWEVER, there was another bit to his statement that bugged her. “So, she made you say yes?”

“Hmm?”

“To become her hubby and a Fang?”

“N... no, actually. I would have accepted death over becoming... this.”

“She didn’t force you to say yes? That’s... interesting... but she forced you to be what you are?”

“Very much so.” He pointed to his neck, the dark circle just seen over the collar of his shirt. “Her paralytic agent was still in me. I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop her from changing me... but... with you here now... Sam?”

“Y-yes?”

“I... want- no, need you... to kill me... I don’t care about my life anymore. I chose to be down here to avoid hurting anyone else, to try and live off what is given... but I’m slipping. That woman you saw, I... she wasn’t brought down here.”

“She wasn’t? Lilith didn’t bring her?”

“No. I... I got out. I hunted her across the state line. She... she was at a party, about to enjoy herself with a man –which I ripped him apart before stealing her away.”

“H... how? How did you get out?”

He let go of her hands, and stood, making her recoil a little as he reached into his back pocket. He pulled out... a charred, blackened card, stained red, but the blue still peeked in places.

“It’s... your first one.” He stated, almost winded by his own confession. He sat again, dropping the card on the table, clattering, rattling until it settled. “It dropped our of your pocket with your phone. I... made quick work at Junmei’s to create a fake, then returned it with your effects.”

“W... why, Peter? Why would you do that to begin with?”

“It was a moment of weakness... but... I... I just wanted... to get out again. That’s all. I wanted some fresh air. Even for a moment. I wanted to see the sky again... I know I’m down here of my own volition. I know that I could have left at any time on my own, but I couldn’t... Not until I was tempted with the tool to do so. I never meant... I never wanted to harm anyone, but... I just... can’t be trusted.”

He took her hands again, grimacing, the darkness pulsing in his eyes.

“Please! Just... kill me... I am so tired, Sam. So very tired. I never wanted to live this long.”

“Is... is that why you are all spruced up? Are you hoping I would kill you here and now?”

“Not at this very moment, no. I thought we would have a nice brunch, one last meal between friends... We are friends, right? Even after seeing... me?”

She stood, pocketing her old card as she did... and patted his shoulders, squeezing them.

“Of course, Peter... Hell, I still prefer to chill with you out of everyone else down here even after your little... fiasco.”

He looked up at her, eyes wide. “Wait. What? Really!”

“Well, yeah, you creeped me the fuck out, something that will forever be burned into my memory, like walking into your mom in a gangbang, but... really, what you were doing is on the lower tier of things I have seen down here. In terms of gore, you are almost Christian compared to the blood bath that was Christmas. It’s nothing a bit of liquid therapy won’t erase.”

“So then... what are you going to do?”

“Well I’m not going to kill you, if that’s what you are wondering. I need at least one sane person around here... Why did you cock your brow?”

“You? Sane?”

“I’m somewhat sane. More sane than Monica and Bella at least.”

“A hatter would be more sane than those two.”

“You... sort of lost me on that one.”

“Mad as a hatter?”

“Wasn’t that big a fan of Alice in Wonderland.”

“It has real world roots. Hatters would felt with mercury, and the fumes would make them go mad. It was why I made a killing for so long; perks of being a Fang. Immunity to toxins and sickness. Had a lot of loyal customers –key word, had. Lucille and all... So, again, what are you going to do?”

“We. We are going to find a cure- er, wrong choice of words. We’ll find a... blocker? A way to stop the hunger. If we do that, you don’t have to worry so much about going out. Maybe then we can hit up some movies and play more. We have yet to get you into high rank... Sound good?”

“Good? I would love that. A lot. All of it! It’s been forever since I’ve seen anything.”

“Why didn’t you say so? I still have most of Marcy’s movies.” She groaned, and let him go, shaking her head as she backed away. “Oh, If only Junmei was still here! He was a scientist. He would have a better way to approach th- Wait. Maybe he already did.”

“That’s right! He actually was, but more for a cure for the whole thing. He was always a big-picture kind of guy.”

“Yeah. He was... he was...” She shook her head one last time, dispelling the ache that had settled on her heart, and started for the door... when the microwave dinged. “We should probably eat first, then go check.”

“A good idea... So what is your hope when we get to his room, anyways? What kind of concoction are you wanting to whip up?”

“I have no idea... um... what about... a light paralytic agent? It was in your system when you were turned, so it could be used now, I suppose. Medicinally? To quell hunger, like a protein shake? It’s not a permanent solution, of course, but it would at least be a simple habit.”

“If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s keeping to a habit.”

And so they had their brunch, the once, tense, depressed mood lifted as the chicken sizzled in the pan. The nook filled with the scent of it and the biscuits, rising in the oven, becoming plump golden discs of joy. He even made a pepper gravy to smother it all in, which Samantha applied liberally. Her appetite had returned with a vengeance; it was a wonder Peter got any food at all. He guarded his plate for dear life, but there was true warmth in his eyes now, seeming to make them glow. Truly alive after so long.

Brunch was over far too soon. They washed the dishes, but took their time, steeling themselves to head into a dead man’s mind. His files were sealed away in his room... When they were done, they practically flew down the hall to his room. It had to be done in one, fell swoop. There could be no hesitation. Anything they do could be used against them, so it needed to be quick. The hardest part would be opening the door.

Finding it jarred.

They came to a hissed stop, but they had been fortunate. They moved so quick, with such purpose, that they were mostly silent in their approach. And the person inside was oblivious to them listening in. Minutes crept by, turned to hours by the beats of Samantha’s heart, hearing that humming escape into the hall. Bottles, phials clinked, liquid catching light by the Bunsen burner hissing away inside, casting prismatic light onto the small line they could see inside.

Peter eased himself passed Samantha, making her freeze while he kept moving ever closer. He slowly, carefully pushed on the metal, easing it open further open, making sure it didn’t c-

At least, for the most part, it didn’t creak.

The humming, the clinking stopped.

Samantha held her breath. The dragon on her hand started to glow... settling as the commotion returned. She shot Peter a dirty look, whom simply shrugged and kept pushing it, thankful it didn’t creak again. It was finally opened enough to see that it was Bella inside, working at the desk. She was stewing something garish, an abomination of color, frothing with black ooze.

“And what are you doing?” Peter boomed into the room, making her drop a phial.

She spun, dancing around the broken glass, and glowered at him as she patted her chest.

“Fucking h... Peter! Thankfully that one was empty,” she grumbled. “What are you... Oh. Sam.”

“I guess we all have the same question,” Samantha said, waggling a finger to the brew. “What’s that for?”

She... smiled, tittering. There was no joy in that laugh, though, nor in the cold gleam in her eyes.

“I guess it’s both our baby, isn’t it? It’s for Lilith. It’s scientific name is far too long to pronounce-”

Hydrovidealchemicanyx,” Peter said. “Roughly translates to-”

“‘The water of life transmuted at night’.” She turned back to the brew, humming as she stirred away. “Really, it’s just an acid that has a succubus’ main fuel turned against her.”

“In theory.”

“Yes. In theory. Only in theory will it take all those years of lust and passion that they have accrued and turn them into a caustic napalm that sticks and burns them away. Just theory... but I plan to make it a reality.”

Samantha held up a finger, and closed the door behind her. Energy coursed from her hand, into the metal, and spread out to all the corners of the room.

“Okay. That takes care of any recording device,” she said, and pulled her hand away from the door, sealed shut, “and that takes care of any Fang that may try to eavesdrop.” Though it doesn’t mean shit if Lucille really is a matriarch... I can simply hope she’s a good sport- then again, Lilith can read minds, so this is all an act of- what the fuck ever! I tried, dammit!

She groaned, pinching her brow, and rolled her wrist to Bella.

“I take it that’s for Lilith, huh?”

Bella nodded, and topped off another phial with the black drink, swirling, sparkling with color.

“She has it coming. No one does that to family. If she thought she could get away with it-”

“I was offered a job by her earlier.”

She dropped the phial, the room filling with the heavy, rank scent of... cherry.

“What? What kind of job?”

“Remember those cloning vats?”

“Cloning... vats?” Peter said.

“Long story. Simple enough: she wants me to oversee the new born and reborn, to give them... I guess purpose, understanding? I was thinking, if I took that job, once I understand and have her and that thing Cain’s trust, I can rework some of the code and have them work for me instead.”

“So... you would be the new Lilith?”

“Until they caught on,” Bella said, finally away from the table. She loomed on Samantha, prodding her chest... but now worry was carved onto her face. “No. Sam. You can’t.... you just... you can’t! You stand no chance against Lilith or whatever Cain was. You saw how even Lilith was complacent to him- it- whatever the fuck it was! Even as she argued, she kept on the backfoot... I like how you think, but... I’d rather get rid of Lilith now... Wait. Is she expecting your answer soon?”

Samantha shook her head. “I can call her to give it, but... I’m not sure.”

“Good. Wait a bit. Make her really think you are thinking about it. Then... we’ll strike.”

“In the meantime, though... Would you like to help me and Peter make an agent?”

“What kind of agent?”

“A paralytic. Along the same levels as Fang venom,” Peter said, and pushed her aside, lumbering to the desk. He pulled open drawer after drawer before finding an orange phial, glimmering in the pale light cast by the Bunsen burner. “We’re hoping to create a hunger suppressant.”

“A... hunger suppressant? Huh. Surprised that Junmei never thought of it.”

“Sam actually did.”

Samantha simply shrugged.

“Sometimes it takes a girl’s perspective to see- haha... I couldn’t even finish that... To be honest, I was just hungry.”

They all chortled, and it was nice to hear actual, warm laughter again resonate in the Hall. It was great to feel true friendship, camaraderie, to work towards a goal without any seedy, ulterior motives. And so they got to work, with no true end in sight. Hours, days, months, years- no decades went into searching for the formula, the holy grail of alchemy... aside that silly lead to gold one. No, the search for the hunger suppressor, for Peter’s salvation, took its tolls, its trials burned into his flesh, scorching a path for years lost, for love forlorn and forgotten, left to tinctures upon mixes, to phials upon-

It was done in less than two minutes.

Peter eyed the concoction. The lip of the phial frothed with silvery bubbles, hiding the amber drink under, quick to replace with that foam all the way at the bottom as he tipped it back. He gulped it down, each and every single last drop. He even licked it clean, filled with determination.

Turned to coughs and gags.

The room was stagnant in that garlic-stricken tonic, and silvery vapors spilled from his nose and mouth. Then eyes. He rubbed his throat, still gagging, still coughing... but smiled all the same as his eyes, once so red and full, cleared, showing, releasing, after so long, his natural greens, his irises ringed by a light shade of yellow.

He looked to Samantha, tears welling as he reached out... and cut her arm. She winced, but he simply watched the blood trickle, sniffing at that iron curtain. The dragon, though, hissed, flapping, readying. Just in case... But no darkness touched those greens. No red swarmed, even as he licked it, wrapping it in gauze as he did. He kissed up her arm, meeting her lips, making her squeak a touch. She started to hug him, but he pushed away, flushed, chuckling.

“S-sorry,” he said. “It’s just... it’s been so... so long since my mind was clear... Well, clearer.”

“Huh Wh-” She shook her head, gasping. “You kissed me!”

“I know... It was heat of the moment is all.”

“I would hope so! You said you weren’t interested.”

“W... well... any port in a storm when thirsty... but I shouldn’t. Really.” That didn’t stop him from giving her another kiss, though, hugging her. “Thank you, Sam.”

“Why are you thanking her? I was the one who reduced it,” Bella said, waving her belt of phials. “Whatever. Everyone wants Samantha, so it’s only fitting.”

“That’s because I’m magically delicious,” Samantha said, and closed her eyes as she stuck out her tongue... opening to see they had already left. “Oh come on! Am I not allowed one bad joke? Must I be a raunchy, bitchy teacher all the time?”

“Yes!” Bella called back.

Samantha grumbled as she returned to her room, stomping up the entire hall and the stairs, shrugging open the door at the top.

Finding Monica on the bed.

She looked... worse for wear, the understatement of the century. Her eyes were hollow, bloodshot, making Minos’ from the day before’s look holy in comparison. Especially with how sunken they were, staring down at the sheets before her. She was hugging her legs, rocking gently, covered in cuts and bruises and reeking of a smell most foul... yet eerily familiar. No cloth touched her skin, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t covered, deep, purple runes burned into her flesh, scrawled across her entire body.

“Monica?” Samantha said, rushing over to the bed. She sat beside, wincing as she tried to wrap an arm around the poor girl, both from the sheer heat she was putting off... and the fact she recoiled from her touch. Her eyes had grown wild, going as still as stone. Every part of her was tensed, though, ready to move if Samantha had truly touched her. “What happened... Monica?”

“I... please don’t be mad,” Monica managed to croak out at last. “I did not mean for it to happen... It was all an accident, I swear. Sam, it was an accident! It was an accident!!!”

“Okay! Easy, Monica. Easy... what happened?”

“I... I should have been more careful. I should have been paying better attention.” Tears rolled down her cheeks, clutching her legs harder. Hard enough to draw blood, seeping from under her fingers. “I’m such an idiot. I’m such a fucking ditz.”

“Monica?”

“We were cooking. We were having a fun time... He got into his love talk. I don’t like love talk. Too much sap. You know this. We all know this. I like fucking Not the foreplay Not saying foreplay isn’t nicebutsoareappetizerswhenweallwantthemaincourse-”

“Monica!” Samantha snapped, patting the poor girl’s shoulder. “What happened?”

“I... I said I would love a good dicking right about now... He had asked if I wished it... I didn’t think. I agreed, repeated it. I didn’t hear the change in tone... I didn’t see the light flash in his eyes! It all happened so fast.” She rose her head, looking into Samantha’s eyes, lip trembling. “I broke my promise, Sam. I hurt Norman... and I got what I deserved.”

She gulped, and fell into Samantha’s arms, bawling, gagging, retching a little as Samantha held her tight, shushing her. Samantha rocked her, shuddering from the heat coming from those runes... and saw that her back was covered in deep, jagged lashings. There were a pair of palms burned into her ass, stretching up to the tops of those nails, while her lower folds were charred black. Blood stained her thighs, crusted, caked on, which only made Samantha’s cheeks green.

“I... I can heal you,” Samantha said-

but was cut off by Monica, shaking her head.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m dead, either way. Once Jack gets word of this-”

“She did what!” The devil himself boomed through the hall.

“No! Please! It’s my fault,” Norman could be heard, the Halls thundering as Jack burst through Samantha’s door. He had a blade in hand, a long, slender filet knife. It was dulled, though, by the steely glint in his eyes, by the fire roiling in them.

He took a step towards the bed, practically frothing at the mouth, quivering with anticipation as he glared at the two of them.

“Unless you want to join her, I suggest getting the fuck away, Sam,” he said, his voice far too... quirky for the scowl he wore. He even chuckled, taking another step. “It’s about time this whore was spread.”

Samantha stood... but not to get away. The dragon on her hand growled, rising with the wind that blew into the room, standing before him.

“You need to leave. Now.” She stated.

“So you protect her? You guard her, even KNOWING what she did to NORMAN! That WHORE should have BEEN KILLED a LONG TIME AGO!”

“It was an accident, Jack. Chill the fuck out. Just... just look at her.”

“Oh I AM. I am... and all I see are sections waiting to be parted, for organs dying to be gutted.”

“It was an accident! You know how she is. A complete, bubbly airh-”

“She’s a whore, and deserves to die a whore’s death.”

“No! Jack. Please,” Norman exclaimed, hugging him from behind. He was crying, as well, shaking, hands trembling as they fought so hard to keep hold. “It’s not her fault... It’s mine.”

“Don’t say that, Norman,” Monica said. “It’s not your fault.”

“But it is. It’s what I am... No matter how hard I try to fight it, no matter how well people treat me, it’s always going to get out. In one way or another. It’s going to ruin my life... or, worse, others... I’m better off dead!”

Monica started to stand from the bed, reaching out. “Norman-”

“Don’t you fucking move!” Jack boomed, and spun to Norman, shushing him. He hugged the literal demon, patted his back... and Samantha could now see that Jack was shaking, too. “Don’t say that, you ninny... The world, these halls would be a far bleaker place without our little red-head. It’s not your fault.”

He looked back over his shoulder at Monica, rage still coiling there.

“It’s nobody’s fault... Come on. Let’s get you back to your room.”

“O... okay.”

With that the two left, leaving Samantha to Monica once more. She lied down with the poor girl, forcing green energy across her, healing the cuts, the bruises, the blood and her folds at least. However, the runes and the lashings on her back, as well as the palms on her rear, held true, forever scarring her, marking her for what she was.

“He’s going to kill me,” Monica croaked.

“I won’t let h-”

“I want him to.”

“W-what?”

“Look at me, Sam... look at me! No one will want to lay with me. Not like this... I’m better off dead.” She curled up again, rolling away from her, sobbing. “I have nothing left.”

Samantha... struggled to find the words, to understand how to cheer her up... but decided to stay silent. She cuddled up to the once-whore, now broken, an immortal with nothing left to live for. For once, she actually felt pity for the poor girl... but... maybe there was something she could say.

“You don’t want to have sex anymore?” Samantha blurted.

“Huh?”

“I mean, do you remember why you were originally sentenced down here? Your attention-drawing promiscuity? Well... maybe you don’t have to stay down here anymore?”

“And what would I do above, Sam? There’s nothing left for me.”

“That’s not true... There are plenty of people who would find your look exotic. Maybe even want to look the same- you could open a tattoo parlor! You would fit right at home there, and you could try to hit on the clientele. They would be right up your alley.”

“Huh... that’s... an interesting way to look at it.”

“You could put your skill in art to good use -er, better use. Think of this mistake as... a happy little accident.”

Monica... giggled, and rolled over, smiling at Samantha.

“You really are the best, teach,” she said, and kissed her, a tiny thing on her cheek, before hugging her tight. “You can really do that for me?”

“I’ll try... I’ll try.”

The more she thought about it, the more resolute she became about doing so. After all, this wouldn’t only help Monica, but Norman as well. He would see that he doesn’t only wrought pain and misery. Maybe, just maybe, this would, also, dissuade Jack... but it’s already been a long day. For once she was content with having that Fang in bed with her, holding, tending to her, instead, as they both drifted off to sleep.

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