The beanbag was comfier than it looked. The way the beads inside separated yet bonded together to support him, how they hushed by his ear as he sunk into its embrace; truly euphoric in its own right. Francis had slept on many things in his lifetime, and he found that most items suffered from one thing and one thing alone: durability. Newspapers either shredded on the concrete or stuck to skin, having collected night’s dew or sleep’s sweat. Straw got into places bedding really shouldn’t. Garbage bags were arguably the most resistant but came with the downside of infusing you with their contents’ scents. Worn down mattresses were sought after when out on the streets and even then were a gamble. Were they tossed out because someone bought a new one, or because of an infestation? Did they have chemicals on them, blood and such, or was it simply time to “freshen” up? Keeping it after was, also, a good bit of fun.
But Francs didn’t have to worry anymore. He was a big man. There was nothing that he truly feared-
There was a knock at the door. There was one thing he still feared.
Another knock rapped at that blockade, and Ezra snorted, stirring as well. He kept his eyes shut, kept his breathing steady and deep as he felt her eyes upon him... The knocks continued, and she sighed, rising at last. She trotted out to that door and answered.
“Yes?” She grumbled.
“Hi, Ezra,” Bridget said. “You haven’t seen Francis, have you?”
“Oh thank God it’s you,” Francis said, and flipped over on the bean bag, looking at the redheaded witch. “I thought a moment there it was-”
“Ah! There ye are, laddie,” Nicole said, pushing by both Bridget and Ezra as she entered. She stormed towards him, her face streaked with fury and worry, erupting out of her finger as she pressed it against his nose. “What did ah tell you lastime? At least stop in and tell me where you’ll be. Ah was worried sick. ’s a good thing I had a feeling ye were with one of your lady friends. I waited until this morning to intrude but then ah didn’t find ya at Little Irish Red’s. Ah wondered who else and she assumed the kentaur’s.”
“Sorry?” He blurted, cutting off her tirade –and, hopefully, removing her finger in the process. She didn’t, though, thrusting into his forehead instead, making him wince.
“Yet why don’t ah believe ye! Ya not learnin’ anything off this. Do ye realize I would have to contact Eve if you were to ‘disappear’? Ye have a promise to fulfill, ya div! An obligation.”
“And I am. I just didn’t c-ow-me home.”
“And how was ah to know? For all ah I did, ye decided to make a break for it.”
“I’m a man of my word. I see things through. No matter what.”
“That ye are, but ye should have still stopped by. Your cooking lessons have gone wanting, as have the meals Ah’ve been makin’.”
“Wait. You avoided a cooking class to visit me?” Ezra said.
“I actually completely forgot about that,” Francis stated, glowering at the four-foot green monster before him. She finally pulled her hand away, and he stood, stretching- cracking in places he really didn’t want to. “Ow...”
“Me poor wee barra,” Nicole said, rubbing his back. As much as he hated her to, at least it coaxed him to take a step, breaking him out of his lock. “Yer getting a bit too old to sleep on whatever willy-nilly. Your back must be knotted to bits.”
“I’ll live-” He began, but felt like he died as she applied the slightest pressure just above the small of his back on the right side. His breath fled, leaving him to wheeze from that press, while the world around dimmed to a narrow point... returned wholly as she moved further up. Finding another spot.
“No no. This won’t do at all!” She slapped his rear, forcing him to move forward. “Lets get ye in bed and work those out.”
“I must apologize,” Bridget said, walking beside as Nicole continued to push him through the entry and out the front door, heading for his door. Standing open. “I feel I’m partially responsible. We have been... intimate as of late.”
“Ye have nothing to worry about, Irish witch. Your actions wouldn’t have twisted him up this bad.”
“Then it’s all on me? Bitchin’,” Ezra said, forgotten back at her door. “Don’t worry, Francis. We’ll meet up later. Maybe we’ll invite Dixie this time.”
“Please don’t leave me,” Francis grumbled, his stomach turning, still being pushed by that goblin- and made worse as Bridget tittered.
“Don’t fret, Francis,” she said, patting his shoulder. “I’m here for you.”
That’s what scares me...
No phone that day in class. No paper. Only Carl’s shoulder. Nicole had the best of intentions (at least, he hoped she did), but she could not massage to save her life. If she pressed any harder on those “knots”, it might actually have been her life. Instead, he was reduced to the crippled slug that slumped over the rail... and cracked every single one on the concrete below. THAT... That was heaven. He finally died and knew peace... for ten seconds. Before Bridget picked him up and carried him to her car. Against Penny’s wishes.
When will that wizard learn? She is fighting a losing battle. Bridget had far more willpower. She was more stubborn than a mule, and as unrelenting as an alligator or a certain actor chasing after that Oscar. It took him well over twenty years, but, after ten or so no’s there was always at least one yes. And he finally got his, fighting the one true god. He should be thankful that The Cage allowed him to have it and went unaccredited as the bear. Otherwise, that would have been another W for the Coppola line... Come to think of it, how many Oscars did he h- ONE? One... From all the movies he acted in. That’s some bullshit!
Francis set his phone back down, and snorted, looking up at Johnny. He was doing such a wonderful job condensing the first half of last month into one, measly, minuscule, FIVE-HOUR LECTURE. WITH ANOTHER TWO AFTER... Was it two, or was it three? Regardless, he was losing his mind and just wanted to go on lunch and play a few hands with his snaky stalker. Because his real stalker was being quiet today.
Guess even a psycho needs to focus for midt-
“Wait.” Francis blurted, finally crossing the finish line. “When are midterms?”
“Huh. I didn’t give that much thought,” Olen chided in, “but it is getting to be that time, isn’t it?”
“Next month. Right before the Saturnalia weekend and Ball,” Johnny said, and cocked his head at Francis. “What brought this on?”
“Oh, just thinking ahead,” he muttered, turned to a yawn. “Life’s about to get burdensome, so might as well start planning in advance.”
“Well, it is the holidays,” Lucas said from the back. “This is the time of the year all shit hits the fan.”
“Yes, but I’m also getting a job... In two weeks... Right before Thanksgiving- oh, that shrewd fucking bird!”
“A job? How did you manage that?” Johnny said.
“Like you don’t already know.”
“Again, I do. No one else does.”
“We kind of do,” Olen said. “He hasn’t made it a secret he loves to frequent The Chalice. And only The Chalice. He never set foot in another store, so it was either there or the cafe –which, since he specified ‘birdbrain’, I’m assuming the owner of the hobby store is a harpy.”
“That she is,” Ben said, and his voice grew as he growled, “and she’s a FINE one. It seems my plan is finally coming to fruition.”
“YOUR plan?” Mordred interjected. “What is ‘your plan’?”
“I put it into effect so many months ago. I planted the seeds, and now, after much care, they are starting to blossom. First they start out as worker-master, then it becomes sub-dom, then husband-wife.” Ben chuckled, blowing on his knuckles, grinning so wide, so proud. “No need to thank me, Francis. I’m only the best wingman ev-”
“I’m going to bang your sister. Hard.” Francis cut in.
“About that, actually... Did you really spend the night with my sister?”
“And? If I did?”
“Hey, it’s her life. I wouldn’t mind calling you ‘bro’ and being for real about it, but... come on, man. Have a little class with her. Etsy is my favorite sis.”
“Oh. Great. He’s tarnishing my image,” Ezra said, the door gliding open. Dixie was behind her, smiling wide as Francis caught her looking. “How would you feel if I started calling you Benji?”
“Well, I do have a knack for pristine timing,” Ben said. “Now you can explain why I call you Etsy.”
“It’s not much to explain. I put my work on their site-”
“Work?” Francis said. “What kind of work?”
“Nothing big. Little things here and t-”
“She makes blown glass sculptures,” Dixie exclaimed... shuddering as Ezra gave her a bored look. “W-what? Did I d-d-do something w-wrong?”
Ezra... sighed, rolled her eyes, and scowled at Francis.
“Yes. I make glass sculptures,” she repeated. “Course, I haven’t done it in a while. Left all my gear back at home, which unlike BENJI THERE... I have no desire to return to unless absolutely necessary.”
“You think I want WANT to be there?” Ben said, shaking his head. “Hell no! But mom won’t let me move into the dorms. ‘Too many bad influences’, she said.”
“Which one?” Both Francis and Ezra said, and chuckled.
“You two aren’t that bad,” Dixie said, and found the courage to slip through to Francis, standing before him. She swayed on her boots, tittering as she looked down on him. “So you ready to go?”
“Yeah, about that-”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Desiree said, pushing Ezra aside as she entered.
“Right on cue.”
“Yeah! I am to see you are backing out of your lunch with me.”
“Oh! You two had lunch again today?” Dixie said. “I didn’t know.”
“And I was about to tell her,” Francis said, and got out of his seat. Regretting it. His legs still didn’t fully recover, and his face was en route to plaster on Johnny’s desk.
Thankfully, Mordred did what Mordred usually does, and what he does best. He caught the poor Drachen, stopping the fated meeting of desk and face, and held him in his arms. Francis’s head lulled back, looking into the visor of that helm, at those gleaming, purple dots.
“My hero,” Francis said, and slung an arm over the dark knight.
“Everybody gets half,” he stated, and stepped over Francis, hissing and mourning for his poor ass. The floor suffered worse since it already had a crack in it while the tile now had several, but it could be replaced. The black knight picked up Olen in his passing and pushed by the three women still clogging the front-
So why not make it more!
“You know I was joking,” Francis exclaimed, shooting Johnny a dirty look as he clambered to his feet. Meeting the harpies, the wolf pack, Bridget, Penny, and even Ali as he righted.
“What are you talking about?” The incubus said, wearing the coyest of smiles as he looked back at the board. “I’m simply checking what we are doing later.”
“Then how did you know I was looking at you?”
“Murderous intent has a certain feel. Just like right now you have about six wanting your blood.”
“Well, it’s not us. I assure you,” Cassidy said.
“Speak for yourself,” Melanie squawked.
“I know I’m not,” The... black one... Francis didn’t even bother to remember the black-feathered harpy’s name –or the fourth.
“I want what waits in his pants, which I guess is blood but not,” that fourth added.
“Ah- ow- HEY! Watch the t- WATCH THE TAIL!” Desiree shrieked, her face cracking again. “Come on, Francis. Let’s get going-”
“Whoa there!” Mandy said. “Who said you get to take him?”
“Did he say he would go with you guys today? No? Then piss off!”
“That is simply rude, little lady,” Bridget said, waggling her finger. “As your professor, I do not condone such action. One more remark and you’ll be in detention.”
“Shit, really?” Ali said, and cleared her throat. “Ass ass pussy ass n-”
“WHOA!” Everyone bellowed, stopping her.
“What? My dad was black. I have a right to say it.”
“No!” Dixie boomed. “That does NOT mean you do. AT ALL.”
“Stay out of this, whitey. I’m as black as they come-”
“You’re actually more a purple,” Ezra stated.
“Purple, black; people mix the two when someone gets knocked the fuck out. Are you volunteering?”
“Oh you did not,” Ben said, stamping to his feet. “You did NOT JUST THREATEN MY SISTER.”
“Settle down, fatty. Real people are t-”
And Ali was flung across the room, embedded into the whiteboard across. Ezra snorted, clacking her back feet as she turned around, showing to be a size fourteen in horseshoes. If the hoofprint on Ali’s back was anything to go by.
“Ezra Dover,” Bridget exclaimed.
“That was awesome!” Francis boomed, guffawing.
“Yes, well, don’t insult my brother,” Ezra muttered, and shot the redhead a dirty look. “You going to discipline me for standing up for family?”
“... In this matter... no,” Bridget said. “This is your first offense and-”
“What a first offense,” Victoria exclaimed, howling as she hooked an arm around Ezra’s shoulder. “Godsdamn, girl! That’s one helluva kick.”
“We’ve been dying to do that for the past three years,” Mandy said, holding her fist towards Ezra. Whom bumped it. “You couldn’t have done that sooner?”
“Not really. She just finally did something monumentally stupid.” Ezra winked at Francis. “Though I have a feeling I was being merciful.”
“And you’re her friend, right?” Lupe- Luna- whichever one it was said to Dixie. “Wait. I know you... Yeah. Yeah! You’re the girl Francis covered for that day.”
“The day the Fangers finally went too far,” Victoria added, and let go of Ezra. She sauntered over to Francis and nudged his shoulder, giving him a toothy grin. “So glad you put them in their place-”
“He did no such thing.”
The world flashed, and Francis knew nothing but pain. Pain and tile. He rolled over- just in time to be flung into the right staircase. Somehow, he had made it to the entry and boy was he glad about that. He was starting to get a headache to match his aching body –made even worse with each blow.
He found his breath finally, and pulled himself out of the rubble of the steps, watching as shadow upon shadow appeared in a flash, revealing to be Tyson’s harem.
“Hello, Frankie,” he said, adjusting his hoodie’s sleeves as dozens upon dozens kept showing up. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
“Too long, in my opinion,” Francis said... and noted that his right shoulder was bent out a bit too far. He reached up and popped it back into place, getting another free showing of Starz. “Especially after what I heard. Do you get off on beating up women? Especially your own sister?”
“Yes, well, I have a reputation to uphold. Can’t exactly have a sibling who rebels and goes off the grid... or date subhiman trash like you.”
“But it’s perfectly fine with you to collect all these brain-dead whores? THAT doesn’t ruin your reputation? THAT doesn’t insult your family’s name?”
“Quite the opposite, actually. I have grown the Family, made it strong... all under my hand.” He clenched the right as he said it, making each knuckle pop. His eyes flashed, and Francis saw in them that even the second row was being filled with those pale bimbos. “There’s a problem, though, a blemish on my prestige, and it’s standing right in front of me.”
“Oh, trust me, I wish I wasn’t. I should have killed you when I had the chance, but I had a soft-turned-hard spot for your sister. Where is she, by the way? None of these sex dolls have as nice tits as h-”
He was thrown into the other staircase- then the wall, shattering through the bookcases on the other side. He bounced on the carpet and slammed into the towering cases on the other side, knocked down on him, held down by Tyson’s boot.
“She was called back to the family estate this month. For the rest of it.”
“Oh! Good. Which means I don’t have to hold b-”
“Save your bravado. I’ve been watching you the last few days, as well as taking account of your movements and actions the last few months. And today? You are out of it. You are unfit... and right for the taking.”
He cackled, and kicked Francis. Then again. And again- and again! Francis winced with each one, making sure to catch it in his gut. No matter what, he couldn’t let any damage come to any other part. He simply needed an opening, for him to wind up proper-
And there it was.
Tyson had truly pulled back, ready to drive that steel toe home, and Francis punched his knee. The Fang cried out, muffled by the sickening three cracks and nine pops, but he managed to keep balance- lost as Francis swept his leg against the back of the Fang’s. He spun as he stood, panting as he loomed over the fallen scion- before ducking and hiding his head behind his arms. Flesh tore, nails scratching away, splattering blood on everything around, but Francis was focused on Tyson. Watching as he recovered.
“Impressive,” the Fang said, whimpering as he tried to add weight to the broken leg. After five presses it finally held true. “Even in this state you have some endurance.”
“What can I say? I aim to please.”
Francis roared, and the bimbos scattered before his fire-
Giving Tyson the clearing he needed.
The scion had dipped in between, grabbed him by his chest, and slung him back across the room, turning ass-over-tea kettle- before flung through the entrance of the Academy. The fangs appeared in four there, slamming him down on every five steps before accelerating him to the next.
All the way to the wrought-iron fencing.
The final blow came, from Tyson, himself, ready to drive him through those iron spikes, but he chose the lesser of the evils. His arm burned so much, squelched so loud as he was impaled, covering the entire bar in blood as he slammed on the concrete on the other side. The air rushed out of him, his back screaming at him again as his head wavered between this one and the next.
He blinked it away- raised his other arm in time, impaled on the same, metal fence, bent over him. The females grabbed it and pushed it flat on the ground, burying the tip of the bar along with it, while Tyson broke one free, twirling it. The scion paced around Francis, slow, enjoying the sight before him, savoring it until he reached the drachen’s head.
“Well, well... What did I tell you, Frankie?” He said, giving the pike one last twirl before aiming it between the drachen’s eyes. “We are dragonslay-”
Francis belched flames at him, and he screamed like such a little girl. One would think he would have grown a set by now, but that’s what his sister acquired, apparently. He growled, and winced as he stood. The iron bar was still attached to the rest of the gate- was attached, snapped off. Francis breathed on it, and snapped it in two, pulling them free- before using them to guard the newest onslaught.
“Thirty. Eighty. A thousand. A million! It doesn’t matter how many!” Francis bellowed, swiping those women away. “Ants are still ants. They don’t know how to fight!”
One managed to slip through, but was the first to truly fall. Her eyes went blank, blood drooling from her nose, mouth, and ears. Meanwhile, Francis’s head already hurt, so... the trade was good.
But, of course, little Tyson couldn’t stay down. No. He couldn’t leave while the getting was good. Instead, he put his own harem at risk. The wrought iron gate was his ammo, and he? He was a human ballista.
Francis did good. For a time. The first ten soared well on by, some with a few of the bimbos, others clean. However, Tyson was right. He was in no shape that day, and all it took was one before the cascade began. The first sunk into his shoulder, second into the same arm. Third, fourth, fifth made sure to hinder his legs, while some missed in between before nailing his other arm.
Then one through the gut.
Tyson tore off another, but held onto it, once more sauntering over. Francis panted, doubled over, only standing from the iron poles holding him up. He was like a scarecrow; a shame the murder he needed to scare away now congregated around him. Still so many, so many standing.
The scion dug the tip under Francis’s cheek, raising it to look him in the face, seeing him sneer.
“What did I tell you, Frankie?” He said. “Good always triumphs.”
“Look around you and tell me you are the good o-”
Tyson slapped him across the face with that bar, cackling again.
“Yes! Look around, and see for yourself. Look around, and realize just how alone you truly are. No one stands by you; no one dares to. They don’t love you, Frankie. They fear you. Feigning affection is just another means of survival, and, when true force is shown, when the evil can finally be toppled, they are very much alone. You will die alone.”
“Everyone dies alone.”
“True enough, but some of us have a while before we do. You? Not so m-”
One would have thought he’d learn after the first, but, then again, one would expect he wouldn’t scream like a little girl either. Both accounts turned out to be false as Francis doused him in flames... though... nowhere near as much as he tried. It was a puddle compared to the sea of fire he did before... It was... getting hard to breathe-
He looked down, and his vision, all color faded seeing one of those spikes through his chest. Seeing the tip, while all the others were the broken bases. He looked behind, and saw nine other tossers, readying to lob.
Screeching as blue flames consumed them.
More screams erupted from the front, and his head snapped around to see two great walls of blue separating for the stairs. Penny roared, slamming her staff into the steps, and fire rushed down the wood, becoming a glistening shadow upon the concrete. It rushed forward then rose as a giant, fiery hand, slapping away more Fangs.
She wasn’t alone, either. He wasn’t alone.
Mordred’s eyes burned in his helm, purple pulsing down to his arms and the eighteen-foot monstrosity before him. It might have been a sword of some kind, but no mortal was meant to wield such a terrifying weapon... except Mordred apparently. It sliced through the open air where the gate once was, and the flat sent at least four dozen Fangs flying into the night. Each one flashed like a star, pelting back down, matching the light show that was Bridget’s hair.
Penny finally made it to Francis, and growled as she pulled those rods out.
“When it rains it pours with you, doesn’t it?” She exclaimed, and used her staff to steady him. “Hold on just a bit longer. Man, they really drove these in, didn’t they?”
“The others?” Francis said, breathing deeply again, but that didn’t stop the other world from ebbing ever closer.
“They’re fine. None of them are fighters-”
“And I didn’t expect them to... I didn’t expect any of you to.”
She scoffed, and gave his cheek a slight slap.
“Now that’s quitter talk. Can’t lose the only friend I have.”
“I would have been fine... After waking up in the morgue.”
The last spike was removed, and Bridget finally met with them. Thrusting a clear phial into his hands, filled with a sickening green concoction.
“Drink this,” she said. “I rushed to the old building, to the alchemy lab.”
“Can’t be any worse than that coffee,” he grumbled, and tipped it back- and he was wrong. It was WAY worse. Not only did it taste like four-week old moldy socks with Parmesan cheese left to cake in them, but it, also, made him feel things again. A bit too much. It felt like his back was splitting in two... and, as he looked back, it pretty much was. His fins had grown twice their size, and started to developing webbing in between their long, slender digits.
He winced, and tried pushing them out, and almost threw up feeling a bit of the bone separate from the rest, allowing them to stretch out. Inch by inch they straightened- until he couldn’t handle it anymore. But he still had half of them out, at the very least. He looked to his arm, and saw they, too, had grown. He pulled those out in their entirety, though, easily as long as his leg fully spanned, with their webbing ending just at his shoulder.
“Bitchin’,” he said, and shoved both of the women aside as Tyson charged him. The two were flung back into the returning traffic, screams and horns erupting as they continued their fight. They passed on to the other side, through the clearing beside the gas station, to the back buildings, more apartments for the students- but Tyson was growing bored of that. He flung Francis up, then tried to drive his foot through his chest.
Caught. By Francis’s new armwings.
They wrapped around it, holding him there, while he clawed at the scions’ front, pulling him in. The wings loosened, wrapping around Tyson fully, and Francis inhaled. Deep. Tyson paled, almost a bluish hue- before smiling, shoving Francis away, further onto that pike of the Fang behind him. The bimbo elbowed Francis on the top of the head, and sent him plummeting into the ground below, burying that spike into that dead road. With Francis on it.
Tyson huffed, and walked up to the fallen drachen.
“Even after all that, you still end up the same way,” he stated- and tried to back away.
Francis bolted to his feet and his wings shoved the pike through, bonding him to Tyson. While it had only pierced something as insignificant as the large intestine in Francis, he made sure it hit the scion’s lung, filling it with his best friend E. Coli.
“How does it feel? To be penetrated by an actual man?” Francis blurted, coughing blood into the Fang’s face. “I can honestly tell you that you are the lousiest fuck I ever had!”
He finally shoved the rest of the spike out, and into, the Fang, backing away as he panted and wheezed. Tyson, also, took a step back, his face greened, still blued from how pale it was, looking down upon that pike. He gripped it, his hands trembling... and growled as he ripped it out. He fell to his knee but only a moment, straightening.
“This... has now become a stalemate,” he wheezed out, panting just as hard as Francis. “One moment later... and you would be dead.”
“What happened... to believing I was... alone? Trying to act tough now, pretending I wasn’t?”
“He is,” Carl said, and punched Tyson in the back of the head. Knocking him out. Carl winced, rubbing his knuckles, and sucked on his lip. “There.”
“Hey,” Francis exclaimed, fanning his arms. “The fuck, bruh? Come in and kill steal like that?”
“I wanted to make it perfectly clear this time I had no love for these pieces of shit... We cool now?”
“No, but that’s because you took what I was going to do. Dick.”
Carl rolled his eyes, but smiled as he walked over, offering his shoulder.
“You used up your whole lunch break,” he added.
“That’s fine. I filled up on just desserts.”
And I’ll just sleep in class... If I- oh. No. I didn’t. Lovely.