As I Live and Breathe
a Beetlejuice fanfic
C. "Sparky" Read

Chapter One

"Bee-tle-juice!" Lydia sighed in exhasperation and rechecked her watch. "Where are you? I've got to leave for school!"

There was no response. From anywhere. Beetlejuice had forgotten, apparently, that he was supposed to meet Lydia before she left for school that morning. He had promised to get her a copy of Lewis Carroll's new book, Such Nonsense, so that she could read some of the poems during lunch, and she had been really looking forward to it. Now she would have to spend her lunch period actively avoiding Clare (who had a habit of ignoring Lydia if and only if the latter was actually - gasp - reading).

Lydia sighed again. There was nothing for it: she would have to go to school devoid of nonsense. To make things worse, she was already running late. She hastily gathered up her textbooks and headed for her bedroom door.

"What's your hurry, babes?" called a tiny voice from the general direction of Lydia's watch. "Your skirt catch fire, or what?"

Lydia glared at the miniature Beetlejuice lounging behind the watch's plastic cover. "Where have you been?" she demanded in irritation. "I was just about to leave!"

"Woah!" replied Beetlejuice, striking a defensive pose. "Hey, I know I'm late. But you should have seen the traffic on the roads today! I was lucky to have escaped with my life!"

Lydia blinked at him. "But you're dead!" she pointed out.

Beetlejuice considered this. "Yeah...I'm such a lucky stiff."

"Well, I'm not so lucky," said Lydia. "Waiting for you has made me late for school."

Beetlejuice pressed himself against the watch's cover. "No problem, Lyds!" he squeaked. "Lemme outta here - I'll get you to school in plenty of time, trust me." In response to the mention of time, the watch's minute hand slammed down on the ghost's head. "Ow!" he yelled. "Two-timing watch!"

"No thanks," said Lydia, remembering the last time she had let BJ transport her anywhere. The police never did find that 2,000-dollar Persian rug. "Just give me the book."

Beetlejuice fogged a portion of the watch cover with his breath and drew a nauseated-looking face on it with his finger. "Sorry, babes," he said. "The ol' Dodo's decided to push back publication of his book. Something to do with Ogden Nash and claims of copyright infringement."

"Oh, no," groaned Lydia. "I was really looking forward to reading - Aaack!" she cried, as the fog inside the watch cleared and she got a good look at the time. "I am so late! I'll see you after school!" She bolted out the door and through the living room.

"Lydia Deetz!" scolded Delia as her stepdaughter nearly knocked her down on her way to the front door. "What have I said about running in this house?"

"Sorry, Mom!" shouted Lydia. Then she slammed the door behind her.

"...And what have I said about slamming doors!"

Lydia raced down the sidewalk to her bike.

"Aww, come on, babes!" Beetlejuice, still inside the watch, was whining. "Let me out! I've got this great cherry bomb and the keys to the Faculty Restroom..!"

"No!" Lydia straddled the bike and set off down the street at top speed. "Go home, BJ - I'll see you after school!"

Beetlejuice grumbled something about how the living are always too much in a hurry to have any fun, and Lydia watched as he teleported away in a tiny flash of light.

She forgot all about the ditch.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Beetlejuice pushed open the door to the Roadhouse, floated inside, and slumped dejectedly on the couch. "Rotten school," he muttered. If Lydia wasn't on her way to school, she was in school, and even when she was out of school, half of the time she was doing homework and couldn't cruise the Neitherworld with him. Beetlejuice began to console himself with the thought that eventually she would be too old for school, but then he remembered that - knowing Lydia - she would likely manage to saddle herself with a job, and then maybe a family. Heck, the only time she would have a totally free schedule would be when she was -

The doorbell rang. BJ answered the door and found himself face-to-face with what appeared to be an ambulatory personal computer.

"Are you Beetlejuice?" the computer asked. At the same time she said the words, they flashed across her screen briefly.

Beetlejuice narrowed his eyes. "Who are you?" he asked suspiciously, hoping against hope that the computer was not there to collect on the damage he had done to the automatic teller machine the previous week when he had requested a twenty-dollar bill and it had proceeded to call him a loser in fourteen different languages.

The computer printed out a business card. "My name is Meg O'Byte," she said/flashed. "I work for the Foundation For the Affairs Of the Recently Deceased. I am looking for a Beetlejuice on behalf of a new client."

"FORD?" BJ scratched his head, sending several small insects flying. He hadn't heard from the Foundation in at least a hundred years. He became suspicious again. "Who sent you?" he demanded. "I know: it was that receptionist, wasn't it? Just because I made a pass at her that one - ok, well, those couple of times, she - "

O'Byte held up a digitized hand. "No, Mr. Juice," she said. "I'm from the Juvenile Division. A recently deceased minor has requested that you attend her placement hearing."

Beetlejuice glowered. Of all the things! "Only a minor?" he complained. "You interrupt me - me, with my busy schedule - and it's not even a major? Begone! Away from my domicile, you - "

"A kid!" yelled O'Byte. "A kid just died and she wants you to visit her!"

Beetlejuice paused mid-rant. "A kid?" he scoffed indignantly. "I don't know any - " Then he paused again. He frowned at the computer. "What kid?"

An image of Lydia dithered itself onto O'Byte's screen. "This kid."

"Lydia bit the Big One?" Beetlejuice draped a forearm over his head. "She was so...young!" he cried tragically. Then he shrugged. "Oh well. Where is she now?"

"Children are not allowed to haunt unsupervised," answered the computer. "She's in a foster home until the court decides where to place her. Being a close personal friend, and conveniently dead as well, your testimony is crucial to this case." O'Byte generated a printout, ripped it off, and handed it to the ghost. "Here is your summons. Be there on time. Your friend's fate as a properly educated phantasm may depend on you." With that, O'Byte marched down the road to the nearest phone booth, plugged her modem cable into the coin slot, and vanished.