Hell and a Side of Meatloaf

Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire)

Twenty after six on Sunday morning, Him sat at the counter of the Otto Time Diner with his head resting on one claw, watching the door longingly. The feeling wracking his manly physique was so foreign and unfamiliar that he almost couldn't believe he felt in such a way. Every morning from the day he'd hired Sedusa, last Tuesday, he reminded himself, he had shown up nearly an hour early just to wait for her to arrive. If he were thinking clearly, he'd be disgusted by how absolutely needy he was acting. Since thinking clearly had become exponentially more difficult, he opted to just sigh and adjust how he was sitting.

"Somehow I doubt she's coming..." Him rocked the rubber duck sitting on the counter, sighing again and looking up at the clock. She was five minutes late, she wasn't coming. Him took a deep breath and slouched as he slowly let it out, his claws nearly touching the floor, his chin resting on the counter. He closed his eyes and prepared to just whisk himself back to his home to come up with a new plan to screw with the Powerpuff Girls. Before he could lift his claw, he heard a ding as the door opened. Him shot up, his eyes wide and a broad smile plastered on his face.

"Good morning! I thought you weren't going to show today!" Him tutted and waved his claw, smirking at his employee as she dumped her purse under the counter and took off her jacket, "Showing up late already? My, my, I may have to reprimand you," Sedusa sat down and Him noticed that she wasn't sporting a new magazine—she stole one to read every morning. She was also playing with her amulet. Him snapped his claw, stirring her out of the trance she'd seemed to be in.

"Hm? What's wrong, Him?" Him shrugged and pointed at her, raising an eyebrow.

"I was just asking you the same thing, you're very out of it today, Sedusa," Sedusa blinked, her eyes drifting back to the amulet. She shrugged listlessly and sighed, letting the trinket fall back to her chest.

"What is this thing?" Him blinked and turned away, pursing his lips. He glanced back, wincing. This time, Sedusa was watching him carefully. Good liar as he was, his lust-induced head fuzz along with Sedusa's piercing stare prevented him from coming up with something believable. She had crossed her legs again, her skirt riding up almost enough. Sedusa snapped her fingers.

"I'm up here, what is this thing? I want answers now," Him flushed and flapped his claws, putting on an obviously fake smile.

"Oh I've told you, it's nothing, Sweetie," Sedusa adjusted her legs again, her skirt riding up more. Him swallowed hard, breaking out into a cold sweat. Sedusa gently, but firmly, gripped his boa, pulling him close, until her lips were touching his ear.

"You're lying...now tell me the truth," Him jerked away, standing up straight and tapping his claws together. Sedusa took a deep breath, leaning in close and allowing him a good hard look at her chest. Had the uniform gotten smaller? He couldn't remember if it would shrink when washed, or if he had made it smaller himself. Him leaned on the counter, quickly forcing back his nonchalant demeanor.

"Abby it's nothing for you to trouble yourself with! Why it is completely meaningless to..." Him trailed off, nearly choking on his tongue. Sedusa, her cheek resting on one hand, continued to gently stroke his arm.

"Him...you're still lying," Him took in a gulp of air and puffed out his cheeks. He vanished in a flash of smoke, the lights all flipping on and the sign on the door flipping to open. Sedusa glanced back into the kitchen, frowning at her boss. Clearly he wasn't going to make this easy.

To Him, the morning carried on like a terrible nightmare. Sedusa was doing everything in her power to try to seduce and frustrate the demon into revealing the secret of the amulet. He spent any and all free time he had at the back sink, not even daring to glance at the order window. Still...he found himself looking out, watching Sedusa play her usual role. Customers would come in, she'd play the coy, innocent, overly sweet and terribly sensual waitress, the wives and girlfriends would get angry, but the husbands and boyfriends would always leave more than generous tips...along with the occasional phone number. Except this time, she made sure Him knew she was aware of his peeping. More than once she'd purposely drop her pen or her order pad, just to bend over and give him a glorious view.

"She'd better behave herself! If she's not careful, I just may have to take her seriously!" Him crossed his arms, glaring at the storage closet. How someone would think it a good idea to tempt the devil himself was simply beyond his understanding. Why if he really, truly wanted her, he could just walk out into the dining room and have his way with her on the counter. Onlookers or no, this was his diner and his city! He wasn't about to have some...some whore ordering him around. And yet...

"Dear...I'm in such a pickle...oh how I would just love to bend her over backward and just..." He trailed off, tilting his head and imaging the scene. It was positively delightful! He sighed and hit his claw against the sink, leaving behind a dent. "But no...then that removes all hope of her using that stupid amulet...or maybe she'd be willing to use it!" Him started to get excited, but his jubilation faded. She had said before she would never say it...and she was too smart for him to just trick her into saying it.

"Hm...I could tell her it's my name so that when we're writhing in unholy ecstasy..." He started to get excited again, but just as quickly deflated. He couldn't do that. Oh he could and no one on Earth could stop him, but he didn't want to do that. Well he did, he very much wanted to just turn her around and...but again that ran into the problem of her being somewhat intelligent. She'd seen the word, she'd probably figure out his ploy if he told her it was his name.

"Not that I can say it anyway..." Him started to say the blasted word, but his tongue just couldn't put the sounds together. Another ridiculous rule to ensure no demon could use the accursed amulet. Him looked up, hearing Sedusa ringing the bell furiously.

"Him I'm getting slammed out here! Come back to the kitchen!" Him stood up, tightening his apron. Maybe telling her would be the best course of action. She might sympathize...or at least be glad to get rid of him.

Like every day, the Otto Time Diner closed at three p.m. on the nose. Sedusa sat back at her seat, smiling brightly and happily eating the plate of pancakes the demon had provided her. Him was seated at a table, doing some paperwork regarding the diner or something. Sedusa really hadn't been paying attention when he explained it. If she had looked closer, she'd notice that all Him was actually doing was a crossword puzzle.

"These are amazing, no wonder people pay that outrageous price for them," Him beamed and waved his claw.

"You're just saying that because I gave it to you for free," Sedusa, eyes closed and a blissful look spread 'cross her face, cheerfully took another bite.

"No way, Boss, these are fantastic," Sedusa cringed and glared at her plate when she heard metal hitting metal. She had finished already. Sighing, she sat down her plate. Him waved his claw, making the plate disappear in a puff of smoke. Sedusa stretched and crossed her arms, watching Him work.

"Are you almost done?" Him tapped his lip with his pencil, dropping it and pushing the paper away.

"All done!" The last answer had been a little tricky. Three letter name for the dark embodiment of all that was evil and unholy. Him noticed Sedusa starting to put on her coat and quickly cleared his throat. She stopped and threw him a confused look.

"What's wrong?" He sighed and twirled his claw, causing Sedusa to sit back down against her will. She started to glare but it was quickly squelched.

"Oh I've just decided to tell you about your little trinket, I suppose you deserve to know. After all you've done such a good job taking care of it," Sedusa picked up her amulet, looking it over. She sent a knowing leer at Him.

"I'm still not going to say the word on it," To her surprise he just nodded and stood up, walking over to the counter and leaning on it.

"I guessed as much, oh well. I'll just tell you anyway since you asked so nicely this morning," Him sighed and twirled his claw. His red mist whipped up in front of them, spreading and creating a simplistically drawn image depicting a castle surrounded by fire.

"Well you see a long time ago there was a little...dispute at my old home. We had just found the place and got this nice castle built when some little...imbecile decides to ask who was going to be the ruler," Sedusa nodded, glancing at the demon more than the image he was showing her. He looked uncharacteristically solemn, frowning and slouching. His usual flamboyant movements were gone, he just twirled his claw casually as the scene played out in the puff of smoke.

"Well there were a few of us who thought we should be the ruler...so we started fighting over it. Messy little conflict," Him sighed and slammed his claw down on the table, pouting and looking away. Sedusa jumped and flinched back. "I was just about to win too! But no, no, no! Those ingrates decided they just didn't want any of us, so they all got together and cast us out of Hell, they even locked the gate on us!" Him tutted and waved his claw, causing the mist to disappear. Sedusa whistled, looking at the amulet again.

"Wow, what happened then?" Him shrugged and smiled fondly, bringing his claw to his lips.

"Oh we kept fighting...we blamed each other for the whole mess. Started what you humans called the Dark Ages, oh such fun! A great, miserable time!" Him crossed his arms and sat down on the counter, sighing. "Then I had enough, so I came here and settled down. I preferred local crime anyway. So much more personal, you know?" Sedusa raised an eyebrow, taking off the necklace and holding it up.

"But what does this have to do with any of that?" Him clapped his claws and pointed one at the trinket, sparks appearing in the air when his claw got a little too close.

"This is the key to opening the Hell Gate! If a human holds it and says the word on it, it will open the gate," Him jumped up and spun around, causing the entire diner to fill with red mist. Now Sedusa saw a throne room, depicted in the same simplistic style. Him wasn't exactly an artist. "And if one of the seven of us who were expelled reaches the Hell Throne and sits in it, we will become the ruler of the underworld! We'll gain unimaginable power, control over the Legion, and the power to incite the Apocalypse!" Sedusa couldn't resist snorting and laughing. Him was practically foaming at the mouth, starting at the image like a child eying a toy at Christmas time. She shook her head and dangled the amulet, swinging it back and forth.

"So you want me to say it so you can go back and claim a throne you think you deserve," Him nodded, clasping his claws in front of his face.

"Yes! That's all it does! Well..." Him blinked and shrugged, "You'd need to come with me, the amulet is needed to open the throne room it self...but other than that yes!" Sedusa rolled her eyes and dropped the necklace on the counter, resting her cheek on her hand and staring at it.

"What do I get out of this?" Him shrugged and the mist evaporated, returning the diner to normal.

"Well I'll be the King of Hell, I could you know...spare your life in the Apocalypse, or grant you untold riches, or..." Sedusa shook her head and picked up the amulet.

"As appealing as that sounds, what reason do I have to trust you? You are a demon, right?" Him jumped up on the counter and sat on it, leaning his face close to Sedusa's.

"Well that's just a risk you'd have to take, isn't it?" Sedusa smirked and sighed.

"Will you leave me alone if I do it?" Him squealed and clapped his claws, nodding furiously. Sedusa laughed and smirked. She could already tell she was going to regret this.

"Alright...alright...what's the word?" Him quickly wrote it down and passed it to her, standing on the counter and bouncing with excitement. Sedusa stared at him and slowly shook her head. "You're going to have to stop that..." Him quickly jumped off the counter and stood up, hands behind his back, whistling casually. Sedusa smiled and looked at the paper, holding the amulet tightly. Sedusa took a deep breath, wishing this didn't feel so dramatic.

"E'yheb a'lEhas" The amulet had been rumbling violently the whole time she spoke the magic word, the entire diner rumbling with it. Sedusa and Him both held their breaths, waiting for the ancient demonic laser beams or magic glyphs that would open the gate to appear. The rumbling stopped suddenly and nothing else happened. Sedusa blinked and looked around, shaking the amulet and turning to Him. The demon still wore his bright, excited smile, his face frozen in an expression of joy. Slowly his face fell and he stared slack-jawed at the amulet.

"...Is that it? What did I do wrong?" Him opened and closed his mouth stupidly, trying to find his voice again. He rushed forward and gently held Sedusa's wrist, staring at the word written on the amulet.

"No! No you said it perfectly! Why didn't it work!?" Him turned her wrist over again and again, Sedusa wincing, eventually hissing as his grip got tighter and tighter. Still the look of disappointment and horror on his face kept her from saying anything. Him finally let go and walked away, rubbing his head with both claws. He growled, a low, deep rumbling sound that caused the floor to tremble. The pale-skinned thief swallowed and dropped the amulet, nursing the bruise forming on her wrist. This was certainly a different side of Him, not the merely annoyed angry, but a Him of real anger.

"Why didn't it work!?" Him knocked over a table with a flick of his wrist, a green mist rising out of his skin as he stomped around the diner, knocking over more and more tables. In his rage he tore a stool out of the floor and launched it at the wall, the stool piercing the wall and hanging in it loosely. Sedusa bit her lip, her hair stiffening and tensing instinctively. She got a good look at the demon's face. His eyes, blank, glowing venomous green like fire. His teeth gleaming, his entire body trembling. Now, suddenly...it wasn't so hard to understand that this fruity, flamboyant lobster man truly was the evilest of evil, the cruelest of cruel.

"What did I do wrong!?" Sedusa, now wearing her jacket, put a hand on Him's shoulder. The demon whipped around, snarling. Sedusa flinched and patted his shoulder, heading for the door.

"Relax, Boss, I'll keep hanging on to it. You figure out what we did wrong and we'll try again some other time...take it easy, supposed to be cold tonight," Him blinked and watched her leave, still panting, still snarling. Slowly his eyes returned to normal, the green mist stopped rising out of his skin. He blinked and quickly looked himself over, sighing with relief. They'd have noticed if he transformed...

"There's more to it?" Him scratched his head and looked around the diner, sighing and lowering his head. It had been so long since he'd really lost his temper...and he had noticed the bruise on Sedusa's wrist. With a heavy sigh, the demon left the diner in a flash of red mist. Before it dissipated, the mist repaired the diner until it looked good as new once more.