A/N: Hello all! Well, I've never stumbled into this fandom before but I LOVE Beetlejuice and was suddenly obsessed with the thought of writing a fic. Once I got started, it was almost like a drug that I just couldn't set down. I'm throwing this out as kind of a test – to see if I get any interest, to see if I step on any toes (unintentional, I promise) or to see if I'm out of my league. So enjoy! Let me know if I should continue on or if I should take a hike, lol.
Disclaimer: I do now own Beetlejuice and make no profit from the writing of this fic.
Chapter One: Home to Nothing
Lydia Deetz walked through the empty house, her dark eyes scanning over remnants of her past, peaking out desolately from under a thin layer of dust. Adam's usual choice of music didn't fill the house. Barbara didn't move from room to room fussing over changes she couldn't make. They used to…but no longer. Now the house stood empty and deathly quiet. Her parents had long ago closed up the place, leaving yet another "vacation home" that would remain untouched behind and forgotten. And the Maitland's – her stomach clenched slightly – the Maitland's would no longer need this place. They'd been given a rare gift from Juno after years and years of paperwork and arguments. They'd been given the gift of freedom.
The couple had made contact with her only after the formalities had been finalized. It has been…what, a week ago now? It was hard to believe it had all happened in a matter of a week when the process itself to allow Adam and Barbra their freedom had taken years. She could still remember receiving the message – sitting in her two bedroom apartment, curled up on the couch with a glass of red while pouring through digitals from a recent photo shoot for a prestigious client. What to edit, what not to edit, what to throw out entirely…and then her television had flickered on. Just like that. The silence of the evening had been interrupted by the low hiss of static. White and black chased each other across the wide screen. She stared at it, a chill snaking its way over her skin. For a minute she had thought…
But then she heard the soft call of Barbara's voice. It wove its way through the steady drone of static, asking her to come home, saying it was important. Had it been Adam, she might have hesitated. Had it been any other poltergeist, she may have told them to piss off entirely. But it was Barbara and the woman had always been somewhat of a mother to her where Delia had failed. She had responded immediately to the breathy plea, dropping her camera on the couch and rushing to her room to throw some belongings in a bag before tearing out of the apartment.
The drive wasn't long from Hartford to Winter River – an hour and a half, an hour with the way she was driving. Something in the tone of Barbara's voice…something was off. It wasn't wrong…but it most certainly wasn't right.
As she drove, she tried to think of the last time she had visited. It had been…over four months ago at the least. It was slightly jarring to realize how her visits to the house had grown so scarce over the past year. It was the usual adult excuses – settling into her new life, just too busy, work-related things came up. Of course, they had. Her career in photography had taken off years ago. The demand for her work was high. And given the none-too-pleasant near envious reaction of her step-mother after Lydia's sudden fame for artistic flare through photography, Lydia hadn't exactly made it easy for anyone to contact her, living, dead or otherwise.
But she had made visits. She had kept Barbra and Adam well informed of what was going on in her life from graduation, to college, to her new career. Over the course of ten years she had made sure that they knew probably more than her own father and step-mother would ever know.
Now though…now it didn't feel like it had been near enough. With a sick twisting in her stomach, she moved from the part of the house was that predominantly her families to what had once been Adam and Barbara's. The only sound that accompanied her was the sharp, echoing click of her heels against the hardwood floor. The sound tore at her, made her feel a sickening sense of solitude in a home where she'd never been alone. Hot tears momentarily blurred her vision as she stalled over the threshold to Adam and Barbara's rooms, the scent of modeling glue, paint and sawdust assailing her senses immediately. A trembling hand reached up, combing the length of her angled bob back and away from her pale face. Out of everything she had expected to come home to, out of every scenario she had turned over in her head….a funeral had not been one of them.
That's what it had been, though. Barbara's tone, the way it had slaked over her nerves and prompted a sudden and thoughtless move to throw a week's worth of clothes into a bag and just drive without thinking, the sense of unease…
Barbara had been calling her home for a funeral….their funeral.
The ceremony, held just as the sun threatened to spill its bright rays over the thin blanket of snow shrouding the graveyard, had been brief – a ritual of sorts in the afterlife, performed in the very cemetery Adam and Barbara has been buried. There had been few words, a tearful goodbye between her and the two people she considered family. The man officiating had, oddly enough, been the same corpulent ghoul that had overseen the joke of a ceremony between her and…
She shook her head, scowling at the memory. She wouldn't think the name. She couldn't. Not right now – not when the feeling of loss was so consuming, not when her heart ached as much as the heart of the young woman who had come to this house had before meeting the Maitlands. She was alone…again. She was older, wiser, she was finally comfortable with who she was and confident in her work. But…she was…alone.
"Utterly…alone," she whispered harshly, remembering the naïve words of a young woman who'd so foolishly contemplated suicide as a means to an end.
She ran her fingers over the much expanded town model Adam had poured his soul into, smiling at the detail. He'd been such a perfectionist when it came to his project, asking every day if there were new establishments, new houses, or anything of the like being constructed. She whispered his name softly, then turned from the model and, with quick footsteps, left the room. Tomorrow she would come back here, try to clean up the dust left behind. Tonight…it would just be salt in an open wound.
With a shuddering sigh, she made her way upstairs to her old room. The second her hand touched the banisters, horrifying memories of the night the resident poltergeist had tormented her family came rushing back. She drew away as if the wood itself bad burned her, sucking in a startled breath. Her dark gaze remained fixed on the newel post, almost as if she were waiting for a replay, waiting for the serpentine skin to reappear, for the sadistic, feral glow of his eyes.
And then another memory…this one more recent…and far more terrifying.
She had been home for Christmas break during her first semester in college. What was supposed to be a cheerful time of year for family gatherings and festivities became a true nightmare. And it was a nightmare that only she knew of. She hadn't breathed a word of it to anyone – not even Barbara and Adam.
The first night she had been home, she had been readjusting to her room, trying to ignore the distasteful hints at "better" décor Delia had left scattered about. And then he was just…there. In her mirror of all places, leering at her and leaning against the frame as if he'd been waiting for her.
"Beetlejuice," she whispered faintly, unaware of the word slipping past her lips. She stepped back, and once more until she felt the wall at her back. She sagged against it, her mind replaying a scene that should have never been.
He'd come to "seal the deal" as he so eloquently put it. She'd made a promise and had yet to hold up her end of the bargain. Her failure to do so had landed him in Afterlife purgatory.
"You owe me."
"I owe you nothing," Lydia hissed, clenching her teeth and glaring.
Beetlejuice glared right back, his haunting onyx eyes burning. "Wrong, babes." He straightened and fear sliced through her. For one terrifying moment, she thought he would come through the very glass that held him. "We made a deal."
"If you're expecting me to hold up to my end of that deal, I feel the need to point out that you didn't exactly hold up to yours."
"Hey, they're still around, aren't they?"
"No thanks to you."
"Listen Lyds…a deal's a deal. You promised me a way out of this shit hole. Now deliver!"
"Don't test me…"
But she had. And her entire week had been full of him tormenting her, taunting her, threatening her. He'd been ruthless…and something inside of her, something that made her sick frightened and any other horrible emotion she couldn't put a name to…had craved it. At first she had thought there was just some kind of strange imbalance of spiritual energy sifting through the house that her overactive imagination and profound connection to the other world was feeding off of. And she fought it. She fought it just as hard as he had fought her. In the end…they'd both lost…miserably.
It took her a year – a full year to realize what the problem had been, why she had put herself in positions to be in the same room as him, why she didn't fight the nagging curiosity. It was her heart – her stupid, traitorous heart. A heart that had mystified her by falling for a…a crude, filthy, obnoxious, threatening poltergeist. That wasn't even normal!
But then again…
She sighed and pushed herself away from the wall, starting up the stairs once more. She never had been normal. Sure, she had tried. She had tried with good grades and semi-decent friends that she'd grown apart from after leaving for college. She had tried to be normal and all that had resulted in was misery. She wasn't normal. She accepted that now. She was Lydia Deetz and after careful soul searching and self-discovery, she knew that she would never live up to what society deemed normal. Her two best friends, after all, were ghosts. And she was…irrevocably addicted to a poltergeist who had nearly destroyed her family, who had nearly killed her father, who had forced her into a pathetic sham of a marriage. The words she could use to describe just how unholy and repulsive he was added up to an impressive list. So why, why could she still remember the feel of his hand against her mouth, his arm pressing into her side and the shocking, horrifying way her skin had sizzled at the contact, the pleasant flip of her stomach, the initial knee-jerk reaction of lust slithering through her like a fiery snake.
"Damn it," she sighed, shoving the door to her room open. Her bag of belongings sat against the closet door which yawned into a half empty closet full of her old clothing. Having not taken the time to before, she stepped into it, looking over visual reminders of the girl she once was. Everything was black…black or varying shades of gray. She glanced down at what she wore now – a pair of fitted dark blue jeans that hugged her legs down to her ankles, stylish black boots that came to mid-calf, a deep red cowl neck sweater that brushed her thighs and a chunky black, lace and leather belt draped around her waist. Definitely not the same style as her younger self.
She turned from a closet full of confusing memories. A shower…that would help her feel better – wash off the tears, maybe scrub away at some of the lingering sorrow. Come to think of it, she hadn't showered in…what, three days now? With the sudden news and short amount of time she was able to get with Adam and Barbara before they passed on…the thought of showering hadn't really entered her mind.
She slid the belt free as she crossed the floor to the four poster bed opposite the closet. With a flick of the wrist, it landed at the edge, catching the footboard. Her sweater quickly followed and she continued out of her room and into the bathroom across the hall, pulling a towel from the hallway closet. She didn't bother shutting the door. She was the only one there. What was the point of shutting the door? After running the tap to a temperature just shy of scalding, she slipped out of her jeans and underwear, then stepped into the welcome steam with a long sigh.
She could feel the accumulated grime of the past few days wash off of her. Dropping her head back, she let it do just that, closing her eyes and trying not to think, not to remember. But everywhere the scalding water touched, every drop that rained over her and pelted her skin made her remember his touch, the horribly lewd and inappropriate things he would say to her that would secretly make her body ache, the strange, haunting green tint in his dark eyes. With a muttered oath, she gave herself over to it, knowing there was no use trying to deny anything anymore. She was old enough and could no longer fall back on the excuse of teenage naivety. She was certainly smart enough to understand her own emotions, regardless of how twisted and confusing they were.
That didn't mean she couldn't be frustrated with said emotions. Glowering, she quickly washed her hair and finished with her shower, then threw the shower curtain back with an agitated jerk. She pulled the towel from the rack beside the shower, using it to towel off her face and hair. As she did so, she glanced up and went impossibly still. Her limbs were suddenly numb. And not just numb, but a cold, chill-you-to-the-bone numb that started from her fingertips and worked its way with frightening speed through the rest of her body. Her breath shuddered to a stop, her wide eyes fixated on the fogged over mirror. Rubbed into the steamy residue was a simple statement…a command. Fear and excitement rushed through her as she stood absolutely still, reading the words over and over in complete disbelief.
Say it….I dare you.
She didn't. She couldn't. She could hardly think past the simple thought of "he's here." She clutched the towel to her chest. She was shivering…though whether it was from the chill of winter seeping in through the insulated walls or from the forbidden thrill of seeing the message, she didn't know.
She released a small, startled cry at the sound of her name being hissed. It sounded almost as if…as if it were floating along on the lingering tendrils of steam around her feet. She glanced down, half afraid she would be staring down into a shallow pool of blood or something far more vile…something more him. However, there was nothing.
The sound of the medicine cabinet being opened and slammed shut drew her attention back to the mirror and although she hated herself for it, she jumped and pushed herself back against the slick wall of the shower. The message was gone – replaced by a new one.
You still owe me.
"I owe you shit," she muttered. Angrily, she wrapped the towel around her frail body and stalked out of the bathroom. God, she wasn't alone in the house. He was there…but how there was he? Was he there like he'd been in Adam's model? Was he there like he'd been there in the mirror the last time she'd seen him? What were the boundaries…what were the rules? Her eyes narrowed speculatively and she quickly veered away from her bedroom, going for her father's old study instead. It may have been a long shot, but she was hoping the Handbook was still tucked into the middle drawer of her father's desk. Maybe it would have some answers…or….something. Something useful that would distract her from the disturbing tumult of emotions concerning the self-proclaimed "Ghost with the most."
She flipped on the desk lamp and pulled the drawer open, rummaging through discarded bills, paperwork and various notes on property that her father had left behind. "Where the hell is it…" she muttered. A few moments more of digging and a grin passed over her face as her hand brushed over the spine of a small tomb. "Got it."
Pulling the book free, she bumped the drawer shut with her hip and looked down at the rather dated illustration on the front cover. She could only hope that the contents would be slightly reassuring, even if the book was meant for the deceased.
A quick trip downstairs to fill a wine glass with red wine and she was back in her room. She set the glass on her nightstand, pulled the cord to turn the lamp on and quickly changed into a clinging black silk top and a pair of simple blue and green cotton panties. All the while, she couldn't help wondering…was he watching her? Was he seeing the woman she now was, the changes, the curves? She glared at the treacherous thoughts even as her blood ran hot and her stomach quivered almost pleasantly.
With a self-depreciating sigh, she combed her damp hair with agitated fingers and flopped down on her bed. A quick rummage through the discarded jeans at the side of her bed procured a lighter and cigarette. Settling back against the headboard, she flipped the Handbook open, propped it on her upturned knees, then lit her cigarette and exchanged the lighter for the glass of red patiently awaiting her attention.
Her eyes began to skim the words, half-interest quickly transcending into something that bordered dangerously on avid obsession.
Tsk, tsk, tsk…what a filthy habit.
She snorted, not bothering to look up from her reading. "This coming from you. That's rich."
Whacha readin' that for? Still lookin' to join the afterlife party?
"Not even in the slightest."
She read on in blissful silence for only a moment, flipping through the pages faster, skimming sections that provided her with nothing helpful.
Ya might want to ash that-.
This time she did glance up, startled to see her cigarette half-gone, the collected ashes teetering dangerously. She tapped it against the small ashtray beside her and took a drag, stretching her legs, letting the book lay open on her lap and forgotten for a moment. Her eyes scanned the empty room. "Thanks," she finally conceded.
No prob. So what's the deal? House seems kinda empty-.
Lydia snorted softly, resting her head against the headboard. She must be going insane. Sitting alone in her room, talking to herself, hearing a voice she vaguely recognized from a past she was fighting to forget. Just tired, she told herself, which was the truth. Her eyes burned from lack of sleep and tears. Still…she continued to talk, finding an odd comfort in her delusion. "You're dead. You should know all about what happened, shouldn't you?"
Maybe…maybe not. Why don't ya tell me?
She yawned hugely and allowed her eyelids to drift shut. "Adam and Barbara…" a bitter smile passed over her face. She chose to mock him, though she didn't understand why. "Dead, dead, deadski-."
"Must have picked it up from you-."
Whatever. Always were a sadistic little death-stalking bitch.
She laughed softly. She'd been called worse…much worse. She ground out her cigarette, then reached over and placed the ashtray and now empty glass of wine on the nightstand. "Adam and Barbara were granted complete freedom. I came home for their…funeral," she muttered, sinking further into the pillows.
"Yeah…bummer," she intoned. Sleep clawed gently at her, tugging, lulling…until finally with a soft sigh, she succumbed.
The house settled, playing its usual creaking cadence and the furnace clicked, then hummed to life, vents in the hallway and in her room rattling softly. Lydia's brows drew together and she shifted to her side. At the foot of her bed, the thick quilt folded neatly took on a life of its own, levitating a scant breath away from the bed and sliding over Lydia's sleeping form.
You've changed, kid…
Her only response was a muffled sigh. Beside her, the chain on the lamp clinked lightly against the black lacquer lamppost. There was a soft, metallic grating sound as it was pulled by an unseen hand, and the room was plunged into darkness.