House Rules

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House Rules

The plump, middle aged, bespectacled woman regarded them bemusedly. She was a striking figure in a long black crushed velvet skirt, a black velvet Navaho style shirt and lots of silver jewelry, as well as fingerless driving gloves. Her hair was spectacularly red with a black streak that was trying to fall across her face. She looked windblown. She also looked like she couldn't for the life of her figure out why she had guests.

She stepped back and peered at the door. Yep. This was her house. She blinked at the quartet inside. Alex felt her mouth quirking up in a smile.


"Hi. Uhm - I suppose you're wondering why I called you all here?"

"No - " Now Alex was feeling a bit uncertain.

A mystical hole opened in the floor near the fireplace and a stunningly ugly demon poked its head up, followed by - er - hands? that grasped the edge of the opening as it attempted to heave itself into this world.

Derek Rayne, concentrating his attention on the demon, began an incantation that would send it back to hell. Nick was splitting his attention between Alex and the demon and Rachel, as usual, was looking as though she wanted to know what a respectable middle aged sort was doing wearing that outlandish outfit.

The demon smirked, gestured and the quartet were knocked half senseless and pinned against the walls of the room while the demon continued to heave its considerable bulk into the room.

"What do you think you are doing?" Her voice was very calm considering what was going on in her living room.

Blink. Grin. Teeth. Lots of teeth. Lots of sharp, pointy teeth. He laughed, a very sinister laugh. "Coming in."

She looked at her watch and shook her head. "Nope. After curfew. I'm afraid you'll have to leave." She was amazed to note how steady her voice was. She refrained from meeting any of the goggling gazes from the four people decorating her walls.

"What!" the demon roared.

"House rules. It's after curfew."

The demon bellowed. "Are you daft, woman!"

"No," she assured him with a shake of her head. "The rules of the house are "No monsters in the house after 10 pm." It's after 11. You're breaking the rules."

He blinked at her. Rules. There were a lot of rules governing the behavior of demons, where they could go and under what circumstances. "So?" he asked warily.

"So, you have to go home. Now."


"Because that's the rule. Absolutely no monsters in the house after 10 pm. And none *before* 9 am, either. Now, go home."

"I can come back in the morning?" he asked uncertainly.

She considered this and shook her head negatively. "Nope. One week prohibition for every quarter hour violation after curfew. Five weeks," she said, looking pointedly at her wristwatch. "And counting."

The demon made one of those universal "Damn" motions, let go of the rim of the opening and vanished, the circle of light closing after him. The quartet of Legacy members slid down to the floor. All of them looked dumbfounded that it had taken no incantations, no items of power, no real force to get rid of the demon. They were staring at the woman in something akin to awe.

Her knees finally gave out at the enormity of what she'd done and she sat on the floor, flump! with a whooshing out flow of breath. She suddenly realized she'd been holding it.

"I don't suppose one of you knows how to inscribe an Elder Sign," she mused.

"A what?" Derek almost snapped as he finally managed to get his long legs to cooperate and get him off the floor, not to mention out of that totally undignified position.

She looked around at him. Whoa. Way cute. Way serious. Sigh. "Elder Sign? Protective sigil scribed on the floor, or whatever, to keep evil thingy's out?" She chuckled at his look. "OK. Not Lovecraft devotees, I take it. *What* are you doing here?"

Derek looked at the bare floor where the opening had been and back. "Trying to keep a demon from getting through."

"Ah. Why me?"

"You're house is on a nexus point," Alex volunteered. "Now, how did you do that?"

"huh? Oh, that. Well, house rules," she said weakly.

"House rules?" Rachel echoed. Did everyone else feel as out of touch as she did? She looked around the room. Yep. For once, she wasn't the only one gawping like a fish out of water.

"Well - No aliens in the bathroom and no monsters in the house after 10pm -" the woman responded in a small voice with a hint of giggle in it. She really wished they'd look someplace else.

Derek, thoroughly bemused, but intrigued, came and sat on the floor in front of her. "We seem to be missing something here. Could you explain a little better?"

She sighed. It sounded so foolish. But it had worked. "When I was about two and a half, I - was a night owl of sorts. Wouldn't go to bed. Aliens in the bathroom that wouldn't let me brush my teeth. Monsters under the bed, in the closet, etc. So, after Dad took care of the aliens one evening, mother clued me in to two very important rules.

" aliens in the bathroom. Period.

" monsters in the house after 10 pm. They had to go home and go to bed just like I did.

"Somehow, it just made sense. And they weren't allowed back until noon 'cause Dad had a night job and monsters make a lot of noise," she ended with a chuckle.

"But -" Alex voiced their collective objection, as Nick just looked stunned, as did Derek.

Rachel looked thoughtful. "For the two year old, it was real. A rule of the universe."

"Yep. So, when faced with a real monster, I figured it was worth a try. This is my home. These are the house rules."

"What if it hadn't played by the rules?" Derek asked softly.

"I *don't* want to go there, thank you. But it was a pretty good bet it would." Baffled looks all around. "It was a - " Pause. I am gonna say this look. "demon - wasn't it?"


"Well, demons have to follow rules. They have set ways of being summoned, or released, or bound - at least according to all the mythology and fantasy fiction I've read. They're much more rule bound than humans are. Sooo - if the rule of the house it's entering is what I said, then it has to be bound by it. Demons are pretty lawful in the long run."

Blink. Blink. Demons. Lawful. Could you use those two words in the same sentence? She read the looks correctly and laughed.

"Maybe it's a good thing the universe I believe in is ordered more by chaos and law than just good and evil. Anyway, now you have -=- " she consulted her watch "something on the order of 9 hours to figure out how to keep him from coming back. Assuming he has balls enough to ignore the grounding." She yawned and got up. "I'm going to bed. I have get up in five hours to go to work. Have fun."

They watched her head for the bedroom with a soft whisper of skirts, close the door and lock it with a very firm click of a dead bolt sliding into place. They looked back at each other. Given 9 hours, they could manage to keep the demon out.

In the bedroom, under her breath, the owner of the house was singing "Oh Ancient Gnarled and Twisted Things" ** with laughter in her voice as she got ready for bed.

End +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ** Somewhere there is the verse to the song done to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" but I don't know where. *smile*